Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Viewing and Converting AutoCAD Files

If you have to work AutoCAD DWG files, the ever changing format can be a headache as people often find that they cannot open the latest versions. Autodesk have listened and given us a web and mobile version called AutoCAD WS which has some editing capabilities and a Windows desktop viewer called TrueView which includes TrueConvert. This allows you to save any DWG into any previous versions of the format for editing. See: http://www.autocadws.com or http://www.autodesk.com

Monday, 30 July 2012

Troubleshooting Office 365 Exchange Not Connecting

80% off all issues I've experienced with Outlook not connecting to Office365's Exchange Server is due to the time on the computer.  Microsoft Online needs the time to be within a tolerance of 3-4 minutes otherwise you cannot connect. Most of the remaining 15% of issues have been .Net related.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Using IT Forums to Find Answers

Looking for answers to IT problems on the internet is a daily occurrence, but when you cannot trust the answer or your problem is too specific, it's often quicker to post a question on one of the following IT forums:

This is a premium forum with over 50,000 experts offering to answer your questions.  There is a free community account, but otherwise it's $100/year. See: http://www.experts-exchange.com
This is the free forum section of the Windows Secrets newsletter. You can become a premium subscriber for as little as $10/year. See: http://windowssecrets.com/forums/
A massive site with loads of IT resources. Choose from either a free or Pro account for $99/year. See: http://www.techrepublic.com

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Apps To Install When You Get An iPad (Business Use)


The following list is the 50+ apps I recently installed on an iPad for a colleague, to use instead of a laptop while on the road. It's based on 2 years of using an iPad, notice that Angry Birds and Cut The Rope are not listed (though I did install the free versions).
Click here to see the list, over 50 of them are free and 3 are paid apps.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Set Passwords to Never Expire in Office365

The default settings in Office365 is for all user passwords to expire after 90 days. You can set them to never expire with the following PowerShell script.
Get-MSOLUser | Select UserPrincipalName, PasswordNeverExpires
Click here for the full instructions.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Studying for FREE Online

What started out as a way for university students to catch up on missed lectures, has evolved into one of the internet's greatest achievements - FREE university courses and education on just about every topic.

Offering courses from over 62 universities around the world, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
See: http://www.ocwconsortium.org/
Not just for fans of Apple products, the iTunes University has lots of courses from major universities listed. All you need is iTunes, see: http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/ or click here for iOS
With over 3200 videos (subtitled into over 50 languages) and adaptive assessment environments, the Khan Academy sets a new benchmark in global learning. See: http://www.khanacademy.org
Offering courses from many of the top universities around the world, including Princeton, Stanford and Edinburgh.
See: http://www.coursera.org
Offers online courses that are project and problem solving based, rather than lecture based. Option to certify through a testing center for a fee. See: http://www.udacity.com/
Offering courses from MIT, Harvard and Berkeley, with 'real world' exams for a fee in over 450 test centres in 110 countries. See: http://www.edx.org/
Launched in 2007, Alison has over 400 free courses from leading publishers. See: http://alison.com/course/
Part of The Open University in the UK with over 600 free courses and discussion forums to connect with other students. See: http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/
Offers a wide range of courses and learning resources for all ages. All UK residents are paying for this website, which is probably the biggest in the world. Best make use of it then. See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learning/onlinecourses/
New crowdsourcing venture where you learn to speak French, Spanish or German and help translate the web. See: http://duolingo.com/
Learn to program in JavaScript, Python, Ruby, HTML & CSS, and JQuery. Includes an annual course called 'Code Year' for anyone who wants to learn how to program. See: http://www.codecademy.com/
Offers educational videos covering grades 1 to 12 in Maths, English, Grammar, Geography, Chemistry & Physics, together with social networking features. See: http://www.thelearnia.com/

Monday, 23 July 2012

Open Source Software

Before you spend money on software, visit SourceForge first to check that there isn't a FREE open source equivalent. With over 324,000 projects, it's probably been done. See: http://sourceforge.net

Friday, 20 July 2012

FREE IT Management Suite

Over 2 million IT pros (including me) use Spiceworks for everything from asset management to help desk entries. It's FREE as well, see: http://www.spiceworks.com

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Build and Manage Websites

Very easy to use content management and website hosting system, prices start at $8 /month. Use the coupon code WEBTOOLTESTER for a 10% discount. See: http://www.squarespace.com/

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Developing iPad and Android Apps

My wife often asks me why I haven't hit the jackpot yet by developing the next Angry birds, but it took Rovio 8 years and 51 other games before they got it right.  See the full article in www.wired.co.uk, but if you do still plan to develop the next big thing, there are development tools that can give you a head start.

Name Languages Cost
Adobe Flash CS6 HMTL5, ActionScript, Flex $49.99 per month Creative Cloud subscription
Appcelerator HMTL5, CSS3, Javascript, Ruby, Python, PHP From FREE 
Cocos2d for iPhone Objective-C FREE
Corona Lua  From FREE, $199/$349 annual subscription to publish
GameSalad Visual, drag & drop based (no coding)  From FREE to $299 annual pro subscription
Marmalade HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, C++ From FREE, $149/$499 annual subscription to publish
MoSync C/C++, HTML5, JavaScript From FREE to €199 basic pro subscription
PhoneGap HTML5, Javascript FREE
Unity3D JavaScript, C#, Boo From FREE to $1500, $400/$1500 per platform

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

FREE Video Tools

Freemake's video and audio tools are truly FREE with no nags to upgrade or limitations.

Freemake Video Downloader
One of the best YouTube video downloaders. Lets you choose the video quality and format when there are multiple versions. Great for offline training videos. See: http://www.freemake.com/free_video_downloader/
Freemake Video Converter
Great converter with lots of features. Optimise your home videos to play on phones and tablets. See: http://www.freemake.com/free_video_converter/
Freemake Audio Converter
Converts all common audio formats and much more.  Includes merging functions and exporting audio from video files. See: http://www.freemake.com/free_audio_converter/

Monday, 16 July 2012

Friday, 13 July 2012

FREE Panoramic Photo Stitcher

The Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE) by Microsoft Research is a panoramic photo stitching utility that splices together overlapping photos. Share your finished images on Photosynth or export as JPG or TIFF. See: http://research.microsoft.com

Thursday, 12 July 2012

FREE Remote Access for Support

When I need to remote into a friend's machine to help sort out an issue I use TeamViewer which is free for non-commercial use. It has temporary installation option and is also available for iPhone and Android. See: www.teamviewer.com

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

FREE Version of Acronis True Image

The hard drive manufacturer Western Digital has a FREE version of Acronis True Image to clone or create backup images of drives. The only condition is that you need at least one Western Digital hard drive to use it in your computer. See: http://support.wdc.com

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

FREE 3D Software

There are a number of FREE 3D software packages allowing you to design and model anything you want, from buildings to spacecraft, animals and people. Here are three of the best:


Blender is a very powerful professional 3D creation suite, best used with a very high resolution screen. See: www.blender.org

Google has now sold SketchUp to Trimble, but they are still keeping the free version. See: http://sketchup.google.com
Autodesk 123D is designed to actually make real things, whether in cardboard or with a 3D printer. See: www.123dapp.com

Monday, 9 July 2012

Microsoft TechNet Resource Subscription

Every company is allowed one TechNet subscription, which gives you unrestricted full versions of pretty much all Microsoft's software for 'evaluation' purposes. Also includes E-Learning and 24/7 online chat support. Initial annual subscriptions are $199 for Std and $349 for Pro. See: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/subscriptions/

Friday, 6 July 2012

FREE PDF Viewers

Adobe Reader now in it's 10th version has grown into a massive program that does lots more that just view PDF files.  Did you know it can also view Adobe illustrator .ai files? See: http://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/
Foxit Reader is the opposite to Adobe Reader, small, fast and light.  I use Foxit Reader when there are problems previewing PDF files in Windows 7. See:  http://www.foxitsoftware.com/Secure_PDF_Reader/
Also if you are having problems with PDF thumbnails and previews on 64-bit versions of Windows see: http://www.pretentiousname.com/adobe_pdf_x64_fix/

Thursday, 5 July 2012

FREE Windows HD Partition Manager

I use the EaseUS Partition Master to resize, merge and create new drive partitions on Windows XP machines. It's never given me any problems and there's even a free version for home use. See: http://www.partition-tool.com/personal.htm

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

FREE Window Resizing Utility

I use this free Sizer utility when I need write user guides that have screenshot images that need to be the same size. From the window you need to resize, right click on the tray icon, select the predefined size and your window is resized.  See: http://www.brianapps.net/sizer/

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Microsoft Office on the iPad for FREE

Run full versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Adobe Reader on your iPad through CloudOn's virtual environment for FREE.  Create or edit your files stored in Dropbox, Google Drive and other cloud storage providers, or share them via email or web links.  Currently you need internet access to run CloudOn, see: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cloudon/id474025452?mt=8

Monday, 2 July 2012

FREE Virtual DVD Drive

Young children and computer CD-ROMs is a recipe for disaster. Many children's programs require you to have the CD in the drive to use the program, which leads to scratched CDs when they are ejected to run another program.  Protect your original CDs by using this Free virtual optical drive (also mount iso files), see: https://www.elby.ch/en/products/vcd.html