Defragging actually helps to save the planet

Diskeeper has claimed that every computer owner can do their bit for the environment simply by defragging their hard drives regularly.

By doing so, you can clearly improve the performance of your PC and the resulting increase in efficiency should mean that your PC uses less electricity.

It’s hardly surprising that Diskeeper sell defragging software, and whilst the software comes highly rated, as you know at Being Smarter, we’re always lookin to do things for minimal cost. The defragging program which comes with Windows is good. If you run it overnight once a month – maybe you’ll notice the meter whizzing round slightly less…!

Keyboard shortcuts – Internet Explorer

Always a favourite subject in the Being Smarter office – how to do stuff faster using keyboard shortcuts. It constantly amazes me that Microsoft doesn’t do a better job of publicising these really handy productivity tools – they can really speed up the browsing experience and don’t take up an awful lot of brain power to remember them!

Here’s some of my favourites for Internet Explorer 7 – there are many more out there – but these should get you going if you’re new to the shortcut game.

View Bookmarks – CTRL+B

Open a new browsing tab – CTRL+T

Scroll down a webpage – SPACE

Zoom in or out of a page – CTRL+ or CTRL-

Select next tab – CTRL+TAB

Delete auto-complete entry (previously visited addresses in the address bar) – SHIFT+DELETE

Open link in a new tab – CTRL+LEFT CLICK

Go back a page – BACKSPACE

Go full screen (remove the toolbars) – F11

Close the browser window – ALT+F4

Many of these shortcuts will work for Firefox too.

Business letter samples – the place to go!

Business in a Box is still one of the best places to go for the best business letter samples and legal documents. If you’ve not heard of it, take a look at some of the dozens of documents that they offer – you can download the application and view all of the document for free.

They have put in some really clever protection software – as despite the fact that their application integrates beautifully into Word, they’ve disabled the copy / paste / drag functionality – so you have to buy the app to actually use any of the words.

(I wouldn’t recommend rekeying them either!)

Check out what they have to offer here…

Interestingness calendar

Whilst it may not technically be about Being Smarter, something to brighten your coffee break and get the creative juices flowing is the Flickr Interestingness calendar.

They select a new photo every day to inspire you.

You can take a look at it here.

Twenga – price comparison for Europe

(European readers only)

I suspect you may already have a favourite price comparison site, however it’s not good to rest on your laurels – there are new sites coming online all the time and this one is definitely worth a look.

As well as looking for the best deals in UK stores, you can now compare thousands of product prices from retailers in Europe as well as the UK.

By spreading the net wider and converting foreign prices automatically, the site greatly increases the chances of finding a bargain for your business.

You can check it out here.

Free business software

You don’ have to always pay a fortune for business software. Over the last year or so the Open Source community and Web 2.0 community have made huge strides forward in providing excellent downloadable or web-based applications. The content management system which drives this website, WordPress, for instance is completely free.

There are all sorts of free software ideas scattered all over the site, however this site has an excellent collection of Open Source Alternative applications which compete very nicely with the likes of Adobe and Nero.

Whilst they are never going to give you the advanced functionality that a $700 piece of software is going to give you, it is entirely possible you don’t need that advanced functionality (for the moment anyway) and a reduced functionality application which is free will absolutely hit the mark.

Be careful of false economy. Don’t use free software if it’s going to take you twice as long to get things done. I would just recommend pausing before reaching for the credit card…!

Synchronising content at home and at work

Synchronising data is a perennial problem. Having the right files with you at the right time has been an issue for many years, however as home lives and business lives start to merge and technology has become more accessible and virtually free, there really is no excuse now for getting organised!

For me, the hard bit is not the technology – it’s about figuring out which data you need where and which data is important and timely. Get that right on a piece of paper first and you won’t go too far wrong.

I wanted to talk about Windows Live Mesh, which has just become available as a beta tech preview (whatever that means.) It was launched earlier in 2008 to a great fanfare essentially in competition to Google Apps (mentioned elsewhere on this site).

It’s still very much a work in progress, however with 5GB of free space available to everyone, it shouldn’t be ignored and overtime will almost certainly integrate into Windows Vista seamlessly, which will be where they will be able to steal a march over Google.

If you go to the Windows Live Mesh site, login with a Passport linked email address on a Windows Vista PC and go an explore.

Essentially, the easy to use interface allows you to upload files to folders (no drag and drop as yet) and stores those documents in the ‘Cloud.’ If you then login from another Windows Vista pc, this time perhaps at home and connect that PC, you will then be able to see and connect to those files.

If you install the Live Mesh software on each PC, the service is more seamless. Mesh or Cloud folders appear as normal Windows directory folders and so synchronisation is a breeze.

There is an automated posting system which tells users of your particular mesh what files / folders have been created which is a nice touch.

Go try it – it works.

Energy saving router

D-link have recently released what they are calling an Energy Saving Router – it promises to use up to 40$ less energy than a standard wifi router. Considering a normal wifi router runs at around 12W, if it’s left on all day (which most are) it could add up to reasonable savings over a year, as well as being green and generally saving the planet of course.

The router saves power consumption by auto-detecting which ethernet ports are being used, as well as how long the incoming cables are believe it or not.

In addition, it will automatically switch off wifi when not in use.

Apart from all that, it gets good ratings too, despite it being a little pricey.

Go on – be green – take a look at it in action here.

Get the latest business bargains from Amazon

If you’re in the UK, it would be worth persuading your webteam to install this widget on your intranet, to help staff within the company spot the latest bargains, as the latest feeds get pulled through automatically from Amazon’s current stock clearance.

Remote control your PC with your mobile

Add JM2PC to any Java-enabled phone and you can use it to control your PC or laptop either via Bluetooth or over the Internet.

It is of course free, as you would expect on this site, but is still an excellent app. Clearly if your mobile screen is small, you’re going to need a magnifying glass to see what’s going on, however the principle is sound and if you just wanted to keep an eye on an application you had running whilst you were out of the office, this would be the ideal way to do it.

JM2PC can be reached here.