Monday, July 27, 2009

Five 5-min savers

Pic Source: Microsoft Clipart

If you are perpetually wondering why your office laptop/desktop functions slower than Charles Babbage’s prototype, you are certainly not alone. The 5 tools listed below should help you speed up some of the most uninteresting tasks - and still allow you to keep all the wallpapers, games and movies intact! ;)

1. Xobni: For all those who live out of the inbox, Xobni (reverse of inbox) is a welcome relief. Once installed, it takes stock of all your mails and personal folders. It creates a social network of colleagues right in your inbox and you can now easily search for people, conversations and attachments. Other features include integration with LinkedIn, Facebook and Hoovers along with some inbox specific stats for the super-organized folks. Xobni is great time saver when you are looking for a long-forgotten mail chain with hardly any strings to enter in the search fields that are otherwise enabled in MS Outlook. Flip side: slows down the loading of Outlook on first boot.

2. Launchy: Alright, you put as many shortcuts on your desktop as possible, but where does the next one go? Launchy helps you in accessing all your files with minimal hassle and keeps your desktop clutter-free. After installation and initial catalog building, press Alt+Space (customizable) to invoke Launchy. Type in the first few letters of the file, application, folder or URL and hit enter for instant access. Launchy is mouseless, very light, has a compact interface and helps you locate files you didn’t even know resided on your hard disk! Flip side: There is no auto catalog rebuilding and this has to be done manually on a periodic basis.

3. Clear Temp: For most of us, clearing Temporary files is like exercising – we know it is good but we never do it. And on the rare occasions when we do get on to it, the irksome prompt saying some files are currently being used in the session dampens all further enthusiasm. Clear Temp is a small .exe file that cleans all your temp folders in one swipe and closes itself once done. Put it in your startup list of executables and you can forget about clearing temp folders for the rest of your life. Flip side: Doesn’t clean up Recent Docs, Recycle Bin and Registry.

4. Caffeine: You are in the thick of a presentation or on a phone call and lo! Your laptop locks itself as per your organization’s security protocol. To avoid the inconvenience of re-entering your login details/biometrics during such occasions, use Caffeine which is a minuscule .exe that simulates a Shift key press every 59 seconds thereby preventing your system from getting into the lock, screensaver or sleep mode. Flip side: Can’t be customized to run along with specific applications or on a scheduled time.

5. Tweak UI: This is a well-known Microsoft add-on that enables you to customize most features of your PC. Perhaps the one that saves some minutes is the Autologon feature which allows you to do just that into your office network on system startup after you have stored the right username, domain and password. This might not be a great idea if you are using a desktop or a shared laptop but if you are the sole user of your system, this tweak does save a few keystrokes and minimizes instances of failed logins and the more extreme system lockouts depending on how slipshod you can get ;) Flip side: Doesn’t auto-update password when changed.

Not that these tools will give your office PC an edge over the latest Cray XMP build but they’ll certainly make it quicker, this side of a defrag.

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