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Living Room / Sleep/hibernate problems in Windows 7
« on: July 26, 2010, 12:59 PM »
Hi guys, it's been a long time since I was here, but I know this is always a great place to get support when I need it!

And I do: We bought a new HP Pavilion dm1-1111ea laptop yesterday.  It comes with Windows 7 pre-installed, and I'm unfamiliar with the operating system (having now been a Mac man myself for the past 4 years).  I can't get the machine to sleep or hibernate.  When I try - by using the Shutdown menu item, pressing the power button, or closing the lid: all of which are set up to put it into Sleep Mode - the screen dims, but the fans keep running, and the harddrive continues to tick over.  I can't then get the screen to turn back on, and have to eventually kill the machine to get it working again.

I've done everything I can think of: fine-tuning power settings, doing a hard reset (battery out, power button down for 20 seconds, restart), updating all software and drivers, re-flashing the BIOS, and nothing at all has helped.

Can anybody offer any guidance?  Getting pretty desperate here...


Living Room / Breaking Word hyperlinks
« on: August 14, 2008, 04:58 AM »
I have a w-a-a-a-a-a-a-y complicated Word document, written collaboratively by a number of authors.  There are about 300 associated documents, each linked to from within the main document.  We're hitting problems with the links breaking, since the folder of document plus supporting material is on a USB drive, and that drive is getting a different drive-letter on different systems, but the links are not dynamically updating to the correct drive letter. 

Except: they do dynamically update when I don't want them to.  I know that a link pointed just to the title of the associated document will try to open the document from the same folder that the master document is in.  This works, but if we test it, Word then helpfully (?) adds in the drive and folder, which of course is wrong as soon as we move the USB drive to another machine.

We're planning to burn the finished document and supporting material to a CD, and of course we need to be certain that all the links will work as expected.  What can we do to be sure the links will continue to work?

General Software Discussion / Merging Word documents
« on: July 30, 2008, 06:57 AM »
I'm pretty sure that somebody helped me with a similar question a few years ago, but I'm not finding it with a search of the forums.  Forgive me for repeating myself...

I need to combine several Word files into a single file.  I'm pretty sure the solution last time involved using a command prompt and it worked very well...  But for the life of me...

Thanks (again) for any help anybody offers...

Mini-Reviews by Members / TodoPaper
« on: July 02, 2008, 09:12 AM »
A while back, I wrote a review of TaskPaper over on (http://www.macspark....-win-a-free-license/).  The truth is that since then I've fallen once again into my old habit of tweaking the tool and not doing the necessary.  I played for a few months with RTM, again, and then settled to paper and my trusty, familiar old Moleskine pocket notebook (the same one I've carried everywhere for the past three years).  But now and then I have opened TaskPaper, updated my lists, downloaded the latest development version, and every time I've done this I've breathed a sigh of pleasure and relief.  There's something about plain text that I find so appealing.

But since I work on a Mac at home and on PCs during the day, I've searched for the best way to carry my lists.  What I've done in the past is to use the portable version of Notepad++, which is a fine solution and does the job perfectly well, but really only to a minimum of usability when you compare with what's possible in TaskPaper.

And then along came TodoPaper ($29.99,, which bills itself as inspired by TaskPaper.  The two programs are, in fact very similar, especially when you compare TodoPaper to the recent development versions of TaskPaper.

Both are really sophisticated envelopes for plain text files.  Type in

a test project:
- one task @computer
- another task @errand
- yet another task @call

and TodoPaper turns your text into the following list:


The @tags are clickable - so clicking @computer brings up a list of all my tasks with that tag, across all of my projects.  Click in the checkbox to the left of an item and TodoPaper adds @done and the date, and makes the font strikeout:


Of course, you might prefer to simply delete done tasks, but I like seeing what I've completed - and by clicking anwhere in the line and then using ctrl+down, you can move the completed task to the bottom of the list.

There are a few other keyboard shortcuts: ctrl+up to move an item up; ctrl+y to add the @today tag; ctrl+[1-9] to add an @priority tag; and if you prefer keyboard shortcuts to ':' at a line end, ctrl+p to start a new project; and ctrl+t instead of '-' at the start of a new line to add a new task.

Alt+o brings up a document outline, showing a list of all your projects or your tags (you choose which from a pull-down menu) down the left side of the window:


Another brilliant feature: you can tap ctrl+space from anywhere in Windows to bring up a quick entry box, from which you can add items to any of your projects.


That's about it.

Remember that I was looking for a way to use TaskPaper when I'm away from my Mac (never a happy time of the day for me).  Of course, I could have continued to use Notepad++, since the files saved by TaskPaper are ordinary text files, but TodoPaper adds so much functionality and elegance, and it works just like TaskPaper does.  Both offer a brilliantly simple and elegant to do list solution, and with TodoPaper on my USB drive I can now access my lists from just about any machine I find myself on.

I'm helping a friend with the following setup: two machines, one a laptop running XP, the other a desktop running ME.  The printer is plugged into the desktop machine, and he wants to be able to print from it from the laptop.  I have installed a wireless router for the laptop's internet access, while the desktop has a wired connection with the router.  The machines aren't currently networked together.  Can the DonationCoder hivemind help me get this working? 

My biggest problem is probably the fact that I'm offsite and needing to direct him by email and telephone, and I have no access to a Windows machine at the moment, so I'm needing to do it by memory and by Googling.  Though my searches are turning up lots of apparently relevant articles and sets of instructions, he's not getting results in following them, which leaves me wondering if this is just not possible between these versions of Windows?

Thanks for any help!

General Software Discussion / Excel formula help?
« on: June 28, 2007, 10:34 AM »
I have a list of people's names and web addresses in Excel.  I am trying to make a Word mail-merge doc that sucks this info from Excel.  In the Excel sheet, some people have just one web address to their name, but others have 5 or 6, each of which is currently listed on a separate line.  I would like a formula that will combine all the pages belonging to each person, including a line break after each address, so that it's all clear and formatted when Word gets hold of it.  Es possible?  Any guidance much appreciated!

i have a big excel file - about 1,000 entries.  it's used for logging names of people responsible for the web-pages i keep up to date.  there's a review-date set for each page, and so every few months i need to write to each person and ask them to check for accuracy, etc., and let me know of any changes that need to be made.

i'm in the process of putting together a word mail merge document that can suck data out of the excel file.  i've got it to work with a single line, but i'm confused about how i can make it work where a person is responsible for several pages.  each page will be on a separate line in the excel file, and i expect there is something boolean that i can do, but i can't figure it...

i want it to check if the name in the 'person responsible' field recurs, and if so to insert the merge field again, and if not move onto the next name in the 'person responsible', and generate a new copy of the letter addressed to that name.  got it?  have i?  or am i asking the wrong question?

any help much appreciated!

Mini-Reviews by Members / Packrat - offline Backpack
« on: November 29, 2006, 09:34 AM »
I spent <a href="https://www.donation...dex.php?topic=3287.0">a very long time searching for the best way of managing my GTD setup.</a>  Although my job back then involved quite a lot of travel, I usually had my trusty Compaq laptop with me wherever I went, so a local solution was the best for me - and I was also in some places where my internet connection was very, very dodgy (most memorably: I once spent more than an hour connected via the world's slowest phone line to download about ten email messages at an edge of a jungle in India). 

Now a lot has changed: I'm running a Macbook instead of a PC at home, and I have two new part-time jobs, one of which is split between two locations, which means my work computing takes place on three different PCs.  Which makes it a little difficult to keep track of things...  Of course, my Moleskines are my trusty companions (a notebook and - at this time of year - two diaries, a red 2007 and black 2006).  But there are some kinds of information that are more easily accessed @computer than on paper.   

I have always loved the idea of 37signals's <a href="">Backpack</a> - I've had a free account pretty much since they started, and twice have upgraded to a pay-subscription and then downgraded after a couple of months of not really being able to make best use of it.  <a href="">Quite a lot</a> has been said already about how to use Backpack for implementing GTD.  My own difficulties have been around not always having a reliable internet connection.

But yesterday I came across <a href="">Packrat</a> ($24.95 - free trial available), which uses the Backpack API to allow Mac OS X 10.4 users to access their Backpack account offline.

My major usage of Backpack is going to be away from home - on one of my work PCs, or travelling with the Macbook and no guaranteed internet connection.  I track my work projects on paper, except for data that needs to be accessible between locations.  So, really it's on the Mabook that I most need offline access to my Backpack.

And Packrat gives me exactly that.  I'm able to add lists and notes and new pages with no internet connection - anything I would normally do online - and as soon as I can connect again, it synchronizes the offline and online content.  In this screenshot, you'll notice the 'Sync' button is dimmed, showing that I'm currently offline:

As soon as I reconnect, the Sync button shows properly again, and when I click it, Packrat does its magic.

What I love about Backpack, which has drawn me back to using it again and again, is its elegant simplicity.  Packrat is designed with exactly that sensibility - it does everything it needs to do to be extremely functional, without overdoing anything.  It's unfussy in its design, straightforward to use, and it does exactly what it says on the box.  It gives me offline access to my Backpack: how brilliant! 

In my new job I'm responsible for updating several hundred inter- and intranet pages.  I work with probably a hundred authors, most of whom prepare their text in MS Word, which means their documents are littered with silliness like 'smart quotes' that our CMS doesn't recognize - so I have lots of ?s littering any text I cut and paste.  That's not a major problem since I can just save as plain text; I wish I could get them all to work in plain text, but that's not an option given most of their level of expertise.  What would be really helpful is if I could record a macro that would search-and-replace formatting within their documents with the correct html tags - so, rather than a 'bolded' word, would end up with 'bolded' with the correct html prefix and suffix (I tried to enter that here, but every time I do this clever bulletin board bolds the word!).  I can probably work this out myself (although I am having some difficulty working out how to get Word to find a variable string of formatted characters and replace that string removing formatting and adding code), but I imagine this is something others have also had to do, so can anyone advise me on an easy way of doing this?

Living Room / Passwords for networking Win XP and 2000
« on: July 31, 2006, 04:51 AM »
Here's what I've got: a server running Win 2000, accessed by a number of machines running different flavours of Windows - 98, 2000, and now two machines running XP.  The 98 machines can get into the server just by double-clicking in Network Neighbourhood (and I'm not concerned with them at the moment), but the 2000 and XP machines need to enter a username and password.  No problem here, but it would be more convenient if this process could be automated, or even if XP would just remember the passwords.  I've mapped the server as a drive on each of the XP machines, but there's no option for remembering the password.  Anybody have any suggestions?

Living Room / beautiful animation
« on: July 27, 2006, 11:59 AM »
I've no idea what's going on at the Icon Factory, but they're posting a series of lovely pixel animations - be sure to start with the first, as they're a narrative...:

Living Room / BumpTop
« on: June 22, 2006, 05:38 AM »
In case anyone missed this on LifeHacker yesterday, it's well-worth a look:

And then there's the hip-hop version!:

Living Room / I've bought a Mac
« on: June 16, 2006, 10:27 AM »
Some people aren't going to like this...  I've bought a Mac.  I've always wanted one, but never been able to afford it.  Now I've ordered a white 2ghz Macbook, and dang I wish it were here already!

I hope people won't be offended by my doing this, but I need to raise some money to pay for this new machine - if this kind of posting isn't on, dear Mouser and other Moderators, please delete it.  Over the last year or so, I've bought a whole lot of really good software, which I now no longer have a use for (I'm selling my Windows machine to a friend, and while I likely will run XP on my Mac, I will do all the things these programs do from within OS X).  So I'm wondering if anyone is interested in buying some software from me?

Here's the list of what I have:

* Microsoft Office 2003 Student and Teacher edition (original packaged, holographed CD included - licensed for installation on three computers) - UK only, as I will mail you the CD: £65
* Look 'n' Stop firewall: £15
* Roboform Pro: £15
* WindowBlinds 5: £10
* Acronis TrueImage 9: £20
* Genie Backup Manager Pro 6: £25

If you're interested in any of these, please p.m. me.

Living Room / Printer Driver Help
« on: May 08, 2006, 03:58 AM »
I have an old HP Deskjet 880c, which is a pretty good printer, and when I bought it years back was quite expensive.  I probably should update now, but most of the time it runs pretty well.  I've just started writing over at, and my first project is to make myself a Hipster PDA and report on my experience of using it.  When I tried this last year, the printer ate my index cards and I gave up.  But last night I decided to give it another go, and the printer worked fine printing onto the cards.  Hooray!  Except: I can see no way of setting a custom paper size under XP, which means that what was printed was off-centre, off-scale, and unusable.  When I used the printer under WinME, it did have this option; but, as it says on the HP support site, XP comes with a basic driver for this printer built-in.  That's just the problem: it's a basic driver, with a number of preset paper sizes, but as far as I can see, no way to print onto 3x5 index cards or any other custom paper size.  Please prove me wrong...  Or teahc me how to override XP's helpfulness and install an older driver - if I try that now, it just says something along the lines of 'This driver is incompatible.' 

As I've written this, I have remembered that I still have my old Toshiba WinME laptop somewhere downstairs, so I can probably just print from that, but it would be much better to be able to do this on my main machine.

Find And Run Robot / Change font?
« on: May 02, 2006, 04:47 AM »
Hi Mouser,

Is it possible to change the display font in F&RR?  A few months back, I know I wanted it as unobtrusive as possible - but now I want it much more obtrusive!  Working with the Quick Search box in Google Desktop has convinced me that making this kind of thing as plainly visible as possible is helpful for me.  And would it be possible to make an alpha-blended skin like GDS Quick Search box?

General Software Discussion / Advice on a desktop blogging tool?
« on: April 27, 2006, 03:38 PM »
I've just started a blog - let's see how long I can keep it up  :-\

I'm using Qmana at the moment, but it is extremely heavy on resources, so I'm wondering if anyone has recommendations for any other desktop tools.  I've tried w.bloggar after reading the praise of it on the forums here, but it apparently has problems working with Blogsome, so I'm looking for alternatives.

Edit by brotherS: added link to w.bloggar thread

Although Superboyac posted a link to his review of MLO in this discussion - https://www.donation...dex.php?topic=2623.0 – and Nudone posted there a link to another good review, as far as I can see there’s been no mini-review originally here on DC.  I intended to write one about six months ago, when I first came across MLO, but it’s not what I am going to do now.  In fact, I’m not going to say much about it at all, except for describing my path from using it to not using it, and now back to using it again.

I thank DonationCoder for my discovery of Getting Things Done, because way back in September Mouser made the site of the week/month (https://www.donation...dex.php?topic=1048.0).  Reading LH, I kept coming across this odd acronym, GTD.  Eventually I Google the letters, and soon found myself at,,,, and all the other sites I now read daily (along with and DC, of course!).  I read David Allen’s book, ‘Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity’ (http://www.davidco.c...aperback-p-16175.php), was suitably blown away by it, and quickly changed the way I work. 

My job of the last three years has been very pressured most of the time – now it’s cooled down a bit, and I’m also hopefully leaving in the next month or so.  For long periods I have felt overwhelmed in this work.  But, in a strange way, GTD took the challenge out of my work (although other circumstances changed around the same time I discovered GTD); David Allen’s methodologies helped me to tame and work with the many disparate elements of my work and life, which was a very good and necessary thing.  (I had also just started a psychotherapy training and running my own little computer-support company - to pay for the training, of course – so I really did need to get things organized and done.)

I did quite a bit of research and playing-around with various tools to find the best fit.  I started with Outlook, since that was what I had used for awhile – not much good, I felt (although Outlook 12 is apparently built around GTD, so I’m looking forward to trying that).  I tried plain text files and Excel files, which both have their strengths.  I tried WikidPad ( and OneNote (http://office.micros.../FX010858031033.aspx) and Evernote ( and TaoNotes ( and KeyNote ( and several other note-based systems.  I tried MyLifeOrganized and didn’t make much of it.  I kept trying other things.

I posted a query on David Allen’s company forums asking about alternatives to Outlook (  I wrote: ‘Am I wasting time in trying to find alternatives…’ and had a good response from TesTeq: ‘Yes. I think that most people are wasting their precious time searching for the ideal GTD implementation. They are testing, trying, converting data back and forth instead of just doing stuff (the real stuff - not the GTD implementation stuff).’  That was a fair cop.

But I didn’t give up yet, oh no; I kept trying to find the perfect GTD software.  I went on to GTDTiddlyWiki (http://shared.snapgr.../gtd_tiddlywiki.html), which is a brilliant browser-based tiddlywiki implementation built around GTD approaches.

For awhile I carried this on a USB memory-stick, and that worked well.  However, I found after a while that using Wiki style markup was slowing me down.  I really, really like GTDTiddlyWiki, and I find myself looking back at it every once in a while and wondering if I could make it work for me…  I went on to playing with NextAction Wiki (, which is a similar project (not quite as handsome, but in some ways easier to work with).  And then I found my way back to MLO.

The fundamental thing to say about my work setup is that I am constantly switching between two laptops – I work from home, so I have my own machine on my desk all the time, and because I use Gmail for work emails, I actually end up doing quite a lot of the day-to-day work on my own machine (it’s faster, prettier, has a bigger screen, and it has my music collection so I can whistle while I work).  But this means that I need an organising option that is easily transferable between the two machines. 

What I took to doing was carrying my MLO data file on a USB stick and just plugging it in on whichever of the two machines I was working on.  Chaos quickly ensued – I overwrote the most recent version of the data files quite soon after starting working this way…  But: I had now had a good experience of using MLO, and I really was sad to stop. 

I decided to test a few online services, starting with Backpack (

On a free account you can only create 5 pages, which I found too few to be really useful.  If you’re willing to pay, you can get up to 1,000 pages ($14.99/month, which is pretty good value, isn’t it?).  I find the free account’s page a little cluttered – this changes when you upgrade.  I only tried a pay-account for a month, and might have continued were it not for RememberTheMilk (

I love RTM’s clean and simple interface, and that it’s free and you can make as many lists as you want.  It’s got easy keyboard shortcuts and, like Backpack, all kinds of Ajaxy goodness.  I particularly like its smart lists function, which can compile a list based on criteria you choose (the ‘This Week’ list showing in this screenshot is a smart list).  An important thing you can’t do is hierarchical lists (which you can do using Textile syntax in Backpack – but see my remarks on using formatting syntax re GTDTiddlyWiki).

I also tried Voo2do ( and TaskToy ( and Zoho Planner ( ) other online services, but I kept coming back to RememberTheMilk.

So RTM and I have been living happily ever after for the last few months.  It’s easy to use, it’s minimal and easy on the eye, it’s quick, you can subscribe to your lists in RSS, printing from lists is straightforward and clean and well laid-out, you can email yourself tasks (as you can in Backpack, but it seems not in Backpack’s useful little brother, Ta-da lists - 

But then the unthinkable happened: I had to go somewhere without an internet connection – North Wales to be precise, to my boss’s new farmhouse in the wilds of Gwynedd.  And then I discovered two limitations of RTM: first, you need an internet connection to use it properly (though it does have RSS feeds as mentioned, so it is possible to work offline); and, secondly, its very neat tagging functions are not as useful as I thought, because it’s impossible to print a particular tag.  So though you can use tags for GTD contexts, and access these easily through the tag-cloud on the Overview page, you can’t print a particular tag/context list.

So I had to copy and paste into Word to have a take-away list for the particular context.  That’s a drag.

So I’m buddying up with MLO again, because it really is the most powerful To-Do list manager/life organizer I have found – and I’ve tried a few…  Others have already sung its praises and described its many excellent features, so I’m just going to say that I agree with all that’s been said – it’s capable of much more than I understand, but does absolutely everything I need.  And it’s possible to turn off displaying all but the features you actually want to use, meaning less visual distraction.  But, I hear you ask, what about the problem of synchronising data files?  Well, I’m going to give a try to using FolderShare ( and keep the data synchronised in cyberspace; I think that’ll work well.

So here’s another vote for MLO - of all the many programs I’ve used to organize my life, this is the one I keep coming back to.  It simply does the job much better than anything else I have found – it’s lightweight, it’s easy to work with, extremely powerful, and it looks good.

Post New Requests Here / IDEA: More against distraction
« on: April 17, 2006, 04:01 PM »
A while back, I posted (https://www.donation...dex.php?topic=2553.0) about a discussion on 43Folders (http://www.43folders...against-distraction/) which introduced a few simple Mac programs for dealing with distraction.  The brilliant Skrommel produced FadingTaskbar (https://www.donation...x.html#FadingTaskbar), which does the job of MenuShade brilliantly.  Many thanks!  I've just discovered MinimOther, which I think will be very useful also!  Now I'm wondering if the great S or some other genius could make a version of Backdrop ( 

General Software Discussion / Outlook display messed - any ideas?
« on: April 07, 2006, 03:12 AM »
I've just run Outlook for the first time on my clean XP install.  Everything is up-to-date, but my screen is messed as in screenshot.  Before running, I installed MS Visual Studio 2005 Runtime Engine, Outlook 2003 PIA, and RemoteCalendars - the first two both are prerequisites for the third, which allows you to load iCal format into Outlook.  I wondered if it might be a case of WindowBlinds messing things up, but excluding Outlook from WindowBlinds makes no difference.  Any ideas? 

(PS. Screenshot taken with the sweet - but not nearly as powerful as ScreenshotCaptor! - ScreenJot (http://www.downloads...reen-with-screenjot/), then converted from BMP to PNG with the brilliant built-in image converter in DOpus.)

A few days after I recently re-installed Windows XP, my computer crashed while I was defragging the C: drive.  I’ve had no problems with this drive, but a few years ago the main harddrive on my then-boss’s computer died – a long, long time since I had last backed it up.  It was extremely expensive to recover his data – much more, in fact, than it would have cost to buy a new computer – but this was mission-critical data, so we had to pay the money.  I was worried about my own harddrive now, so I decided to look around for some SMART disk monitoring software.

My first stop was Speedfan (donationware;, since I already run this on my laptop.  It’s a neat and powerful little motherboard monitor that sits in the system tray and discretely displays processor or hard-drive temperature there.

Speedfan uses only 4mb of memory, and it gives a great deal of information – much more than I know how to make sense of:

My only problem with Speedfan is that it can only display one or the other piece of information in the system tray – drive temperature or processor.  I like to be able to keep an eye on processor temp, as my beloved Pavilion ZD7010 simply switches itself off if the temp gets above 70 degrees C (something that hasn’t happened since I cleaned its heatsink a few months back), so I need both displayed at once.  Granted, you can get both in a tooltip, but I like being able to see them without having to touch my mouse.

So I moved on to a program I saw mentioned a while back on Lifehacker: HDD Health (donationware;  Like Speedfan, HDD Health puts an icon in the system tray:

Unlike Speedfan, that icon doesn’t give you any information in tooltips; but when you click it, you get a clear display of your drive’s details, and on the various tabs, detailed information about the drive-state.

HDD Health uses 6mb of memory, and it has some very good features, such as sending email or network alerts when the drive overheats or is getting to a dangerous state.  And it’s donationware/freeware.   

But, you’ve guessed it: I have to click something to get my information, and I don’t like that.

Next, I tried O&O Software’s DriveLED ($19.95; http://www.oo-softwa...products/oodriveled/).  This is quite sweet: it displays each drive and partition separately, and you can use the image of the drive as a shortcut – so double-clicking on C: in this picture will open an Explorer window at the Root.

Also, double-clicking on the picture of the harddrive – at left in this image – brings up XP’s built-in Disk Management console, which could be very useful.  You can also set it to monitor plug and play drives, which is a nice feature.  It uses between 4 and 8mb of RAM.

It hides at the screen edge and rolls out on mouseover – at least that’s the idea; actually, this feature’s not working very well for me, and it is why I decided to try yet another similar program.  I position DriveLED where it’s most useful for me – just above the system tray; but it seems to get very confused.  It is meant to hide at the right edge of the screen; but every time I restart Windows, DriveLED hides itself behind the Taskbar, and then won’t come back up – it leaves just a sliver of itself in view, and if I use the mouse to pull this up, I’m left with just that sliver of the window!  Oh dear: I didn’t know it would do this, but in trying to get a screenshot of this, it’s gone and done a variation on this behaviour – now all I’ve got is the edge that’s usually visible when it is properly docked to the right!

And I can’t do anything with the sliver, either – so I have to close it down and restart.  This happens every time I run DriveLED, and as much as I like some of its features, I just can’t be dealing with this odd behaviour.

And that brings me to today’s final candidate: HDDlife (  At $29 for the full version, it’s the most expensive of the various programs I’ve tried, but I believe it’s the best (and read on, dear DonationCoder member, because there’s news of a discount coming up).  There is also a limited freeware version – in fact, after 14 days, the full version just reverts to the free one.

First of all, HDDlife has that coveted feature of displaying the drive temp in the system tray:

But not just the temp – that line under the number is ‘life status progress bar’, which tells you about your drive’s health and performance.  (You can see from this screenshot that, actually, mine’s doing pretty well!)  You can choose from a number of options for how information is displayed.

A tooltip gives you all the information you might need in a glance:

And when you maximise the main window, you get a representation and a summary of drive health, some sage advice ("do not forget to back up your data at least once a week since nobody is protected against bad luck"), and a display of space usage on all partitions:

It would be nice if you could, as in DriveLED, use the ‘Logical disks info’ panel as shortcuts to the partitions, but at the moment you can’t do that.  It also doesn’t monitor external drives – really, this is a different kind of feature to a drive-health analysis (since none of my external media are SMART enabled anyway), but it would be quite useful.

As you can see in the screenshot above, you can also adjust the noise/performance ratio with any AAM (Automatic Acoustic Management) enabled drive.

As with HDD Health, warnings can be sent to networked computers, or via email, and it also has a pretty nifty line in audio warnings – my other laptop has squawked a few times while I’ve been writing this: it’s too darn hot!  Or you can set HDDlife to turn your computer off, or set it to hibernate, when the temperature rises over a threshold that you set.

The next great feature is that HDDlife can re-skin your drives – so the iconset that you choose in this window is applied system-wide, so wherever you look at your drives, these are the icons that will be used:

And you can check your drives’ health from within any program – you may have noticed the little green dot over the drive in the screenshot for HDD Health(?) – well, that’s HDDlife showing that all is well.  Likewise, when you open a file in Word (or any other program), you can see how your drives are doing:

So, there it is: my brief overview of drive-health monitors.  What I like most about HDDlife is simply the fact that it displays the temperature in the system tray, and I know that Speedfan, which was where I started from, could do exactly this – but when I combine this necessary feature with the various other nice touches it offers, HDDlife Pro is definitely my choice for best-of-category.  Although HDDlife Pro is also the heaviest on resources, usually clocking in at 10mb on my machine, I have no hesitation in running it myself, and recommending it to you.

I’ve been in touch with the developers of HDDlife Pro, and they’ve offered a 30% discount on their program – Mouser is going to post the link for this in the Members Only section.

General Software Discussion / Driver backup
« on: March 07, 2006, 04:01 PM »
I am coming around to accepting that I probably am going to have to reinstall Windows  :(, something I have avoided doing for ages, but there seem to be just too many little things broken right now, and I want a clean start.  However, I'm worried about drivers and updates and having to spend hour after hour searching for the most current versions.  Can anyone recommend a program for cataloguing current drivers etc?  I use Belarc Advisor, and that seems very good indeed, but it doesn't allow you to actually backup what it catalogues, so if there is something that can directly backup to CD, that would be excellent.

Living Room / Strange behaviour: DirInfo-1.DbgLog
« on: March 01, 2006, 11:14 AM »
There I was in Firefox yesterday afternoon, filling in an online PDF for a job application, when my machine suddenly switched off.  It's prone to doing this sometimes, usually when it's particularly stressed - I have isolated the problem as being a (slightly) incompatible memory stick, and  as I pretty much know what triggers it, I have decided (so far) to save the £50 that a replacement memory stick would cost and just avoid doing those things.  So, I have system shutdown, and a few minutes later the machine comes back to life, only I can no longer get into Firefox, except in Safe Mode - every time it starts up, it immediately goes to the 'Firefox has a problem, would you like to tell us about it' dialogue.  I decide to bite the bullet and reinstall FF - to no effect: exact same behaviour.  I decide to bite harder and remove every trace of FF and reinstall - so scouring registry (with CCleaner and JV16Tools) and removing folders in C:\Documents & Folders\[etc]  Fine, now FF works again, and after a while of reassembling things, I have all the extensions I want back (and I found a really handsome new theme in the process: iPox).  Firefox works fine, and I worked happily online all morning, until I came to opening one of my Desktop folders, when Windows popped up with a truncated message box, reading (in the top bar): "DirInfo-1.DbgLog", and in the body of the message, just: "**NotP".  I tried to do a system restore to last night, but this didn't fix it; when I restored to before last night, Firefox doesn't work.  I restored all of JV16's backups, but nothing doing.  What I did inbetween: install Mouser's new Launcher Alpha and Skrommel's Taskbar Fader.  That's it as far as changes are concerned.  I searched on Google and turned up some references to "DirInfo-1.DbgLog", but all referred to software I have no knowledge of, and certainly haven't installed.  Anybody have any ideas that might help me?

Oh, something to add to this: the error message belongs to Explorer (according to Process Explorer), and when it comes up I can do nothing except kill Explorer and start it again... And then everything works fine until I try to open any folder...

Post New Requests Here / DONE: Dim the taskbar (set transparency)
« on: February 25, 2006, 04:02 PM »
On the back of this entry over on 43F (http://www.43folders...against-distraction/), I would like to find something that would do the same as Merlin's number 2, MenuShade.  I've never liked the Windows' Autohide, but I would love to find something that would quite gracefully fade out the Taskbar and bring it back on mouseover.  On a brief Google search, I turned up about four different things, some free, some cheap.  The one I tried is AlphaXP Lite, and this works really well, but everytime WallpaperMaster changes the wallpaper, AlphaXP seems to forget what it's there for, and the Taskbar is solid again...  Anybody up for coding something elegant and tiny?

The image is from the AlphaXP website, over at:

Living Room / Using images on the taskbar
« on: February 17, 2006, 05:40 AM »
Difficult to express this as a Subject line... 

I run WindowBlinds, and a few of the themes that I like imitate the Mac Tiger look, and so they replicate the Spotlight image on the taskbar (see image).  I really dislike it when a Windows machine has an Apple image on the Start button (why not just buy a Mac?), so I always go with themes that have a Windows Start button, and I don't like the Spotlight image either - but I do really love these themes (and I do really love a lot of Mac designs). 

What I would really like is to be able to use the Spotlight image to start FARR.  Is this possible?  Can anyone guide me?

General Software Discussion / Multiple desktops
« on: February 10, 2006, 07:39 AM »
Could I get some opinions from people on the best multiple desktop programs?  I have a nVidia graphics card on my one machine, and that has built in multiple desktop support, but I also really like Dexpot, which allows me to do some things I can't do from the nVidia manager (mainly an option to have different icon configuration per desktop).  Dextop is a bit heavy on memory, though (22mb working set, 100mb virtual), and I don't know (because it doesn't show up on Process Explorer) if nVidia uses less - anybody know?  And is there another, lighter option that would allow me to have different (or no) icons on different desktops?

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