Tips & Tweaks: A Few More Tips, Plus Free Stuff

I know you like things that are free; so do I. This week I'm passing along free stuff I've found on the Internet.

And I couldn't fit in all my cool Microsoft Word tips last week, so I've got some leftovers for you--just put them in the microwave for a minute or so, and they'll be fine.

Leftover Word Tips

Outsmarting Word's Lists: I love the idea, but I can't stand using Word's list feature. You know the one--start a line with a number or bullet point and every time you hit Enter, the next line becomes part of the list.

The problem is that I often want to stick in a couple of blank lines. I finally figured out how to do that: press Shift-Enter after a list item, and you get a blank line. Yep, it's that simple. When you're ready to continue the numbered or bulleted list, hit Enter.

Sort Me If You Can: I thought everyone knew how to sort with Word. Then, while I was walking the dogs, my neighbor started complaining to me about having to export to Excel... the story goes on, but here's how you do it.

Open your Word document and highlight the list--names, addresses, whatever. Then open the Table menu and select Sort. Make sure Text is highlighted, choose ascending or descending, and click OK. Easy, no?

Dig This: For on-the-go executives, time is precious. Not a moment can be wasted. That's why I recommend the RSStroom Reader to busy, multitasking professionals. Pricing and availability weren't available at press time.

Free Blog Tools

I've got a bunch of blogs I like to read, but I always forget to visit their sites. Sure, I know what you're thinking: Go get yourself one of those RSS feeders, Bass. Sure, they're great; but I spend my life in e-mail and that's how I like to hear about new blog posts.

I just discovered Squeet, a free service that delivers blogs to my e-mail inbox. It's easy to set up and highly configurable; I started adding blogs the other day and I'm thoroughly delighted with seeing them in my inbox. Read the FAQ if you want to know more.

Bass Blog Step-by-Step: It's easy to enter the URL for my blog's RSS feed into Squeet. Open my blog in your browser and look for the small orange box alongside the "Steve Bass's Tips & Tweaks" headline; it's labeled "XML." Right-click that box and select Copy Shortcut, then paste the URL into the Feed URL box on Squeet's home page.

BTW, my buddy Mark has something he likes better: Blogarithm. Here's what he has to say about it:

<blockquote>I hate to click through to see if there is anything new each day on the radical blogs that I watch, only to be disappointed. So I use Blogarithm, from some local Seattle guys. Now, you have to click the link to see what is new--but you don't have to check to see if anything is new, because they will e-mail you daily with a list of what has changed on your favorite blogs, if anything. They give you the top couple of lines, so you can determine if you want to click through and read the rest.</blockquote>

Free Bug-Tracking Tools for Developers

I'm not a developer. In fact, about all I know about writing code is that if I ever do need to write some, I shouldn't use Cobol. Now that you know my level of expertise, let me introduce you to AxoSoft's bug tracking software, OnTime 2006.

The single-user version is free. There aren't any hooks or trials; AxoSoft just gives it away. Obviously, the company wants you to buy one of its premium editions.

A few days ago I mentioned OnTime in an e-mail to a list I belong to, and I asked two of my developer buddies what they thought of it. Here's what they said:

Alex: I use TesTrackPro and it rocks.

Mike: Alex, this product [OnTime] is dynamite. Better than TesTrackPro. For one thing it includes bug tracking with suggestions from users and connects to the help desk as well.

Dig This: Don't kid yourself, you really want one of these "sophisticated multi-point widgets." Check 'em out at the Multi-Touch Interaction Research site.

Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer, available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.
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