Keep Your PC Awake, Install Apps Fast, and More--for Free
Raise your hand if this has happened to you: You're on an airplane, watching a movie on your laptop, when all of a sudden the screen goes dim. Or you're giving a PowerPoint presentation and your PC suddenly goes to sleep.
These kinds of hassles can happen after a period of "idleness," when the system detects no mouse or keyboard input. Blame Windows' power settings, which by default try to conserve power if they think you're not doing something. (Funny how Windows isn't yet smart enough to know if a movie's playing or there's a projector connected to your laptop.)
As you probably know, all it takes is an occasional jiggle of the mouse to keep the system humming. And that's the idea behind Mouse Jiggler, a free utility that "fakes" mouse input--and saves you from having to mess with Windows' power settings.
Just run this tiny app as needed--say, before you start your movie or presentation--and click Enable Jiggle. Then take your hands off the mouse for a couple seconds. You'll see your pointer start to hop back and forth a tiny bit--enough to trick Windows into stayin' alive.
In some programs (like Windows Media Player), mouse activity like this can have the unwanted effect of making onscreen controls appear. For situations like those, enable the Zen Jiggle setting, which does the "jiggling" behind the scenes, with no actual cursor movement. Clever!
Mouse Jiggler works with all versions of Windows; it requires Microsoft's .Net Framework 2.0 or later.
Install Your Favorite Apps in One Fell Swoop
Are you upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 or buying a new PC? In both cases, you face the same tedious chore: reinstalling all your apps. That means digging out a bunch of CDs and/or downloading programs from various sites, then installing them one at a time. I don't know about you, but I can think of better ways to spend several hours.
The Ninite Web site creates a custom software installer with all the freeware and open-source apps you want. Just choose from the dozens of available programs--everything from AVG Anti-Virus Free and Dropbox to OpenOffice.org and uTorrent--and the service builds an installer that will download and load them all.
Once you start the installer, you can sit back and relax: Ninite automates the entire process, meaning you don't have to sit around clicking Next a bunch of times. Even better, Ninite automatically chooses the proper version of each program--32- or 64-bit--and eliminates any toolbars that might try to sneak in during installation.
I love this service. I've used it several times on new PCs, and it saves time like you wouldn't believe. Bookmark it!
Facebook Dislike Button is Real--And I Like It!
Perhaps you heard the news about a fake Facebook "dislike" button that quickly spread virally across the service.
What you may not know is that there really is a legitimate Facebook Dislike Button in the form of an add-on for Firefox. (Thankfully, an Internet Explorer version is imminent as well.)
Developed by FaceMod, the Official Facebook Dislike Button does about what you'd expect: adds a Dislike option right alongside the Like button. Now, when a friend says they're "having the worst day ever!", you can show your support by "disliking" it (which is obviously preferable to "liking").
Just one little wrinkle: only other Dislike Button users will be able to see your "dislikes." That's one reason it'll be better when IE users can get in on the action. (The developer says support for other browsers, like Chrome and Safari, is coming soon.)
Well, what do you think? Do you "like" the Official Dislike Button, or do you think Facebook should get a clue and build one of their own right into the service?
If you've got a hassle that needs solving, send it my way. I can't promise a response, but I'll definitely read every e-mail I get--and do my best to address at least some of them in the PCWorld Hassle-Free PC blog . My 411: firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week .