Monday, September 26, 2011


Since I dearly love finding (and using) helpful tips (tech and otherwise), I thought that I’d be extra helpful today and helpfully pass along some of those helpful tips to you to help you to discover helpful tips and to be . .  um . . . helped.

Helpful Tip Number One: Fences
If there is one computer-esque thing that I really hate, it’s to turn on my computer and be confronted with a desktop littered with a dizzyingly unattractive array of scattered icons.  It just steals the happy right from my heart.

To illustrate: this is a recent screen shot which actually isn’t half as cluttered as it sometimes is. 

With this latest trick I have found, I can go from the picture above to the picture below in a simple double click.
From messy to completely clean.  (Now if only there was a similar button to push for my bedside table.)

So how did I do that?

I thought you’d never ask.

I downloaded a free gizmo called Fences   Here’s a brief description:

Fences lets users clean up their desktop icons in moments. Users draw "fences" on their desktop which enables users to drag and drop icons into them. Users can have fences show and hide by double-clicking on the desktop. In addition, users can control which icons show and hide when the desktop is double-clicked on allowing for easy desktop clean-up.
I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to instantly have a clean desk top and then, in another instant, have all the icons reappear when I need them.

Just like magic.

Fences has made me a happy, happy woman.

Helpful Tip Number Two: Read It Later
Have you ever been surfing the web and come across something that looked intriguing but you only had five minutes to spare before you had to start cooking dinner?  Yeah, me too.

That’s why I was delighted to find something called Read It Later. There are several Read It Later applications for different Internet Providers  (you can Google it) but I use the one for Chrome which can be found here.  I just right click on the page I want to come back to and it adds the page to my Read It Later list.  When I have a few spare minutes to read, I just open that page and all the things I’ve saved are lined up right in front of me for my perusal.

Love. It. 

Helpful And (Really) Scintillating Tip Number Three: Stumble Upon

I just recently found this site and every time I spend even five minutes there, I leave feeling inspired and challenged and refreshed. 

Simple concept. 

You are presented with a list of interests and you can check as few or as many as you want--from photography to cooking to quotations to gadgets to oddities to education to scuba diving to hunting to religion.  

Once your preferences are saved, you merely click the “stumble upon” button and voila’!  An article or a photo or a helpful tidbit of some sort pops up from one of your categories.    

The cool part of it is that you never know what sort of info from which of your categories is going to appear next so the temptation is always to want to see “just one more.”  It’s so much fun! 

Of course, one of the interests I selected was photography and I have seen some of the most amazing pictures over the past couple weeks—truly magnificent, jaw dropping photos.

And then there also pictures that crop up like this one.  Dontcha just love it?

Here are a couple more "sample links" I’ve recently discovered on Stumble Upon.

(Edited to add:  Stumble Upon has 15 millions members, so it's obviously a well used and well loved program. However, Vickie just left a comment that her son has had some problems with getting viruses while using it so I wanted to be sure to mention that.  Thanks, Vickie, for pointing that out.)

Helpful Tip Number Four:  Organizing Unwieldy, Ever Multiplying Cables

This tip is from the How To Geeks Newsletter and I fell in love with as soon as I saw it.  I had just been staring morosely at all the cables in my life and wishing fervently that there was a simple, inexpensive solution to organizing them. 
And then?  I saw this.   
Whoever said that fervent wishing does not accomplish anything obviously didn’t know what they were talking about.Here’s the reprinted article submitted by one of their readers.
With so many cords all tumbling around in the pocket of some computer bag, there tends to be some sort of intermingling that takes place and when you pull the one cord you need, the entire pocket empties and you end up holding what looks like a ball of deadly vipers. 
I began thinking the other night of a way that I can keep these cords in a easy to use, yet portable container that is flexible and will fit easily into any bag I choose to carry. I wanted something that I can set up in file cabinet type fashion where I’m not rifling through everything to find that one cord I need. 
Then, it dawned on me. Almost everyone still has that CD case lying around. So, I opened up the junk drawer, pulled out my Case Logic circular CD case, and began to file my cords one by one in the now empty CD sleeve.

Regular Case Logic Circular CD case

Cable filing system.

I even have a place in the back for my screen rag.

Anyone else have Helpful Tips to share in the comments this week?  All us Smithellaneous folks would to read them.

(Non Helpful) Bonus Pictures
I’m including these simply because they make me smile.



MN Mom: “Do you get the same beautiful fall colors we have here in the Upper Midwest? Hope so!”

We do get some pretty colors here since Manteo has many different kinds of trees; however, I have fond memories of fall in the Midwest and it is drop dead gorgeous there.  Fall and Spring are my two favorite seasons so I’m looking forward to the chill in the air and the colors that are coming.  Mr. Nikon and I are definitely going to take a few fall jaunts!

Mel said, Hi Becky:  “I just love seeing the pictures also. Megan and Nathan really do have the most wonderful smiles. Their playfulness comes through in every picture. I would like to know what song they picked for the first dance and did they have a special song for the father/daughter and mother/son dances?”

They danced to “Lucky”  by Jason Mraz and Colbie Cailat.  I had never heard it before but it is such a cool song and well worth looking up on YouTube.

Here are some of the lyrics:
Lucky I'm in love with my best friend,
Lucky to have been where I have been,
Lucky to be coming home again.
Meagan and her dad danced to “Cinderella” by Steve Curtis Chapman which will make any parent cry. And Nathan and I danced to “Find Your Wings,” by Mark Harris, which is absolutely gorgeous.

Isn’t it amazing the way special songs like these make up the moments and the soundtracks of our lives?

And yes, I do agree that Nathan and Meagan both have wonderful smiles that light up the fun they’re always having!

18 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Vickie said...

Thanks for your helpful hints. If you ever find something about how to make conference calls more efficient, please share (they are my current nightmare).

Stumble on is really cool and inspiring, but be careful. Davis has unleashed really obnoxious and dangerous viruses twice when stumbling through Stumble on. One was a virus that continuously opened pornographic websites and it took us $300 at the Geek Squad to clean it up.


Linda R. said...

Becky, I have to ask.....what is that little critter on the camera? Looks like it could land on the shoulder of the photographer in one simple hop!

Hope things are going well for ya'll. We go for scans in November. The mister is doing well. The spot on his lung has shrunk so the oncologist says it couldn't be cancer. Hope he is right!

So far, this year MO doesn't have many pretty leaf scenes. We're gonna take a ride further into the Ozarks to see what is offered there. I love to take scenery pictures as well as photos of old barns.The more dilapidated the better! Love your pictures!

Take care!

Love, hugs and ladybugs,

Anonymous said...

OK...not really into the computer stuff, but love seeing the lovely pictures you post.
But, all of us need to be concerned with our about healthy recipes. Your recipes are delicious,and so beautifully presented. However, I cannot in good faith serve them to my 50 something husband with all the sugar, crisco, salt, etc. (Nor should I serve them to myslef because I also am +50)...and my young adult kids also are so wierdly "healthy conscious" about sharing our "healthy but yummy" recipes? I have a ton of them! Absolutely no salt ever on the table...garlic is a great/healthy substitute...etc.. I can go on forever with my 5 kids giving me suggestions!

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