News from the Pipemaking Workshop with the Funk.
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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Useful Gadgets

This week's work consisted of the next three FdP pipes (I'll be emailing photos to the next fellow on the list as soon as I finish here) and this new morta Bettafish, done 'on the side'. It's an excellent example of the breed with nice thick walls and a rather swanky look. It's SOLD now.

I posted before about useful workshop gadgets, so I thought today I'd deviate from pipe talk for a minute and mention some useful "business" gadgets. Anyone working as an artisan needs to not only master their chosen craft, but also must learn a good bit about computers, the net, and the wonderful techy world we live in today. The great thing is, many of the essential tools of computer life are available for free!

I saw this list linked on Digg recently and bookmarked it for gradual checking-out. One sees these lists pop up everywhere and usually they're worthless, but this one caught my eye for having some really good tools on it. I'm still making my way through it, downloading a new app every day or three to try out. Anyone trying to run a net business really should look into the following:

Flexible Renaming
Yeah, scratch your head... ;) But, after a few years of running your business, you'll find you have literally mountains of archive files, of which JPGs with titles like P109336.JPG are typical. A simple utility that can bulk rename every file in a folder to "Pics from Guérande, Sept 06 - ###" is a godsend.

Secure Erasing
Do you really want the person who buys your old computer to be able to scan your hard disk and recover all your business records and personal info?

SyncBack
Of all the tools I've tried so far, this is by far my favorite, and I don't really even use it for its intended purpose. It's designed to help keep files and folders synchonized between multiple hard drives or computers, but I find its utility as a back-up tool to be excellent. It's easy to learn and extremely powerful, and allows one to select folders and files to be backed up by schedule to other disks, other computers, and even by email and FTP! I've got mine set to automatically copy various important files to all of my hard disks for backup, as well as sending copies to an FTP backup server I use. It's even possible to email files to one of those free online email addresses with gigabytes of storage, for maximum data recoverability. It's a comforting feeling to know that if the computer explodes, I still have all my business records backed up in multiple other locations.

Deadlink
AM Deadlink finds and dumps all those useless old shortcuts that pile up in your browser's "Favorites" menu. Works with Firefox and IE, and checks every single link to produce a listing of what's still live and what's long departed, for easy tidying.

Picasa
This is a digital image organizer. I heard the guys on TWiT raving about this and just couldn't understand why anyone would get excited over what seems to me a more complicated version of viewing directories in Explorer with thumbnails turned on, but now that I've downloaded it, I understand. It's amazing! Especially for a pipemaker with roughly 2000 pipe photos to keep track of. The photo-editing features work better than those in my dedicated graphics prog, and it can handle everything involved in pipe photography, taking pics straight off the camera and into editing and on to uploading. For the home photo collection, it's fantastic - it also includes built-in photo printing plus emailing and the ability to order glossy prints from online services.