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20 top tips to improve your tech life

Tricks and downloads to prevent a tech nightmare


We've rounded up 20 of the best apps that will stop a tech meltdown or at least ensure that if a tech nightmare happens, it is salvageable.

6. Get your cables under control

When you have a tangled mess of dust-coated cords knotted into a bundle under your desk, disconnecting a laptop or setting up a new printer can be impossible. The cords for power, USB, speakers and FireWire all look the same. Simple labels can help you avoid accidentally killing your entire rig by pulling one wrong plug. Print out your own with a label maker, or buy a pack of specially-designed labels to stick on your home-office or living-room plugs. When the cat knocks one out or it's time to rearrange, you'll be glad you did.

Then, get cords up off the dusty floor with an under-the-desk cable tray. To keep gadget and laptop cords from falling off the back of your desk when they're not plugged in, affix a simple cable catcher (or a binder clip) to the edge of your desk to hold them. Finally, plug your workstation and your collection of peripherals into a single power strip or UPS to shut down the energy hogs with a single switch when you're not using them.

7. Stay on task with the right to-do list

The key to staying on track with the stuff you need to get done is writing it down and checking it off - whether you do so online, on your desktop, on your smartphone, or in a plain text file. Our favourite is Remember the Milk (RTM). It provides all the bells and whistles you'll ever need in a to-do list online, on your desktop, and on your phone.

RTM offers task categories (such as Work and Home), file attachments, notes, priorities, tags, due dates, and even ‘honey do' items (you can send tasks to other RTM users, such as your spouse or assistant). RTM also offers a Firefox extension that integrates the service with your Gmail inbox, so you can turn email into tasks.

Of course, no matter how good your software is, nothing can replace the satisfaction of crossing off a line on your paper to-do list with the stroke of a regular old ballpoint pen.

8. Replace your laptop with a thumb drive or iPod

Instead of lugging a laptop on your next trip, save your aching back by taking your computer's desktop with you on a thumb drive or iPod. Portable Windows software offerings such as MojoPac put a full desktop on your USB thumb drive (or disk-use-enabled iPod), letting you run applications like Microsoft Outlook and save documents all on that drive.

All you need is a host computer: You can plug the MojoPac drive into your in-laws' PC or a coffee-shop workstation, for instance, to access your documents and applications without leaving a trace behind. Alternatively, you can save and run free portable applications - such as the Firefox browser, Pidgin IM and Sumatra PDF reader - from your thumb drive.

NEXT PAGE: Use your camera phone as your digital photographic memory

  1. Tricks and downloads to prevent a tech nightmare
  2. Lose your mouse and get fit online
  3. Getting rid of messy cables and implementing a to-do list
  4. Use your camera phone as your digital photographic memory
  5. Passwords and encrypting your files
  6. Firefox keywords
  7. Master search techniques to pinpoint files or websites



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