Gadgets That Solve Everyday Problems

Special note: Are you sitting down? Here's the scoop: This is my last PC World newsletter; the Tips & Tweaks blog is no more; and I'm no longer writing the print Hassle-Free PC column.

For the last 20 years I've had a terrific gig: I got to play with cool products and write practically anything that came to my mind. And amazingly, PC World actually paid me to do it. Even more important, I had all of you--a bunch of friends who dug into my Hassle-Free PC column in the magazine and came to the site to see what I was up to. Believe me, that meant as much to me as the paycheck.

You can continue to see what I'm up to by sending me a note at my personal address, checking my new Web site, TechBite, or subscribing to my YahooGroup list.

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Practical Web Sites and Services

The hot story on PC World these days is a humongous collection of "100 Incredibly Useful and Interesting Web Sites." I'm still wading through it, and it got me thinking about my faves--you know, spots that I keep going back to. Here are some really practical Web sites that I've come to depend on.

Terrific Reference Tools

OWL, the Online Writing Lab, gives you a way to look up the whys and wherefores of grammar.

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A Video Enhancement Tool That Will Amaze You

Is there a distracting traffic sign in the middle of your video, or maybe something in the background that needs to be removed? I spotted a software application that can do that--and more--and I promise, you'll be amazed.

The video I watched was produced by a group of researchers from the University of Washington's Department of Computer Science and Engineering. These guys are in the Graphics and Imaging Laboratory and they have a truly astounding process that lets you combine low resolution still images into high resolution video.

The software merges the images and video, and at the same time, fixes the inconsistencies between the two. For instance, they show how, within the video, to remove a traffic sign or touch up a tree.

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End Office and Windows Annoyances

What do Outlook, Office, and Windows have in common--other than they're from Microsoft? They can sure be annoying. This week I've got a handful of tips for dealing with some of the hassle--like weird attachments, messy e-mail quotes, confounding file formats, and lost Windows passwords.

Eliminate Annoying Winmail.dat Files

A friend asked me about a weird e-mail attachment he constantly receives from one his friends. "The file's unreadable," he said, "I can't find a program that can view, decode, or convert the thing." He said the file's always the same--winmail.dat.

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Have Movies on Your PC? Watch Them on TV

You have movies on your PC? Me, too, and I'm using MediaGate's nifty multi-media hi-def player to wirelessly--and effortlessly--beam them to my TV.

The MediaGate MG-450HD has lots of cool features and here's the stunner--it works as advertised. Even if you're a novice, you can get it working without much stress--start watching movies on your TV--in about 5 minutes. The cost isn't outrageous, either. I found one discounting for about $215.

Making the TV Connection

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Chrome? I Want To Love Ya

Google is smart and oh-so-sly. The company released its Chrome Web browser and everyone's writing about it.

One article I saw recently says Chrome grabbed a bunch of users in short order (see "Chrome Grabs 1 Percent of Market in Under 24 Hours"). I don't know whether to doubt that--or just wonder. According to PC World.com's tracking service, 36 percent of all visitors to the site use Firefox, 31 percent use Internet Explorer 7, 17 percent use IE 6, and the rest are on Safari, Opera, AOL, and Mozilla. Chrome wasn't on the list when I checked the other day.

I did an informal poll on a private list I moderate and with 100 people responding, 60 percent of the responders tried Chrome, but went back to their original browser.

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Dual Monitors, the Only Way to Go

Not long ago I was in a hotel room, juggling four applications on my teeny, tiny notebook screen. I didn't realize till then how dependent I've become on my dual ViewSonic monitor setup at home.

In Video: How to Set Up Multiple Monitors

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