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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

PERSONAL/TECH SPECIAL...10 free tools to manage your files on Windows

10 free tools to manage your files on Windows

1 Instant Search: Everything
With huge hard drives being the norm, searching for any document on your PC can be a painstakingly slow exercise. This is because every time you search using the default tool in Windows, it has to scan each and every folder till it finds the file. Everything, on the other hand, helps you locate any document almost instantly. The first time you install the software, it indexes the contents on your hard drive. The program then sits unobtrusively in your system tray till you double-click its icon. To search, simply type the name of the file you are looking for, and the software will serve it up to you – no wait whatsoever. You can also search by file extension and add strings for custom searches. For example, use ‘office\invoice’ to search for filenames with the word ‘invoice’ in your ‘office’ folder, or ‘Beatles !Love’ to exclude the term ‘Love’ from your search.
    2 Better File Copy:
The default copy tool in Windows is bothersome if you deal with huge files. If there’s an error while copying multiple files, it’ll abort the whole job. Also, there’s no way to pause and resume a transfer. And did you know that Windows doesn’t actually copy files at the fastest rate possible?
    TeraCopy to the rescue. The software features full shell integration, which means that it replaces the default Explorer copy tool so you don’t have to start the program each time you are copying files.
    While transferring, if there is an error, TeraCopy will try multiple times to copy that file – and if that doesn’t happen, the file is skipped and the rest of the data is copied. At the end of the process, you can see which files posed a problem and try copying them again.
    What’s more, you can even pause and resume the process if you need to run a more resourceintensive program alongside. And yes, the software is optimized to get the fastest possible transfer speed on your computer.
    3 Tag Files: Elyse
Sometimes, the same file can fit in different folders. For example, a photo can find place in a folder for profile pics, the party it was clicked in, or by date. Instead of keeping multiple copies of the file, Elyse brings a smart ‘tagging’ system.
    The idea is to store your files anywhere, but classify them with tags to find them easily. Just point Elyse to a folder and then you can start creating as many tags as you want.
    After that, just drag-and-drop files to the tag. It’s handy for office use (different projects that use the same documents) as well as personal data (tagging photos or videos). It’s not easy to use initially, but once you get accustomed to it, Elyse works splendidly.
4 Folder Lists: Filelist Creator
When a friend asks you to send him a list of the MP3 songs you have, it would be downright ridiculous to sit and type the name of each file. If only there was a way to make a list of all the files in your folder. Well, meet Filelist Creator. Point the program to the folder to start. You can choose to search all sub-folders if you want. Next, select which parameters of the files you want to be included: name, format, file size, path, date, etc – all of which can be seen live in the preview window. Filelist Creator lets you choose formatting options too, such as the header, spacing, grouping and the order of the columns as well. Once you’ve had your pick, choose whether you want a text file, CSV, HTML or image and save it.
    5 Delete Forever: File Shredder
When you “delete” a file in Windows, it’s not entirely erased from your hard drive. The Delete function simply hides the file till the space it occupies is overwritten with new data. Still, specialized file recovery software can retrieve these files easily (see Recuva). So how do you get rid of a sensitive file permanently?
    File Shredder is a simple tool that gets the job done by ‘writing’ over the files multiple times with random binary data. Start the program, select the files and shred them with a button. Simple.
    In the Settings tab, you can choose the type of encryption you want to use to shred the file. There’s also an option to Shred Free Disk Space. As we said, a file isn’t completely gone when you delete it; which means it’s still occupying some space. File Shredder purges this data by rewriting over it as well.
6 Smart Backup: Copy Changed Files
If you routinely back-up your files to an external hard disk, then you might want to install Copy Changed Files. The tool allows you to compare the contents of similar folders in two different locations – and then, only copies the files that have been modified. First, select the ‘From’ and ‘To’ folders. Then, choose the method to compare files: Date-time and file size is faster, but can have errors, while the binary compare method is slower, but more accurate. You can choose to filter what to copy by file type or size. And that’s it. Hit the copy button.
7 Discover Duplicates: Anti-Twin
Sometimes, you have the same file stored in different folders or hard drives. So how do you find these and delete the duplicates? Say hello to Anti-Twin. It’s a super-simple interface. First, select a folder as the basic comparison point – you can either search within this folder for duplicate files, or compare this folder with another. For the comparison criteria, you can go by the filename, minimum or maximum file size, extensions, and even the content (by bytes or pixels). Once Anti-Twin finds multiple copies, you can choose to let the duplicate remain where it is, move it, or delete it and, in that folder, leave a link to the original.
    8 Batch Rename:
If you are constantly required to rename large groups of files on your computer, then you must install Metamorphose.
    The tool is fairly simple to use: First, select the files you want to rename by browsing to them in the ‘Picker’ tab.
    Then, in the ‘Main’ tab, you can pick whether the operation acts on the name, the extension or both. You can add a prefix or a suffix to each filename; and even search for text in the name and replace it with something else. You can also modify the length of the filename, add date, time or numbers, and even insert characters in any place in it.
    The best part is that every change you make is instantly previewed in a pane at the bottom, along with the original filename next to it, so you know exactly what changes you’ve carried out.
    Metamorphose is a fantastic tool to have with you when you are organising your music or media collections, or sorting your photos.
    9 Secure Files: Encrypt On Click
Want to keep a file or a folder protected from snooping eyes? Encrypt On Click is here to help. Start the program, select the file or the folder that you want to protect, key in a password and you’re done – the file is now inaccessible to anyone without the password.
    Encrypt On Click is tightly integrated with the Windows OS, so you don’t need to run the program again to access the file. Double-click a protected file and the software auto-starts, prompting for a password.
    Also, you can right-click any file or folder and choose to ‘Open With Encrypt On Click’ to immediately lock it with a password. freeware-hub.html
10 Undelete Data: Recuva
Deleted a file by mistake? Unfortunately, there’s no ‘undo’ button for that. But don’t worry, it’s not completely gone. Unless you used a shredding tool (see File Shredder), the file can be recovered with a nifty program called Recuva. When you run the program, you are prompted by a pop-up to choose the type of file you’re looking to ‘undelete’, whether pictures, music, documents, etc. Next, choose the drive where it was located or the whole PC itself. Before finishing, you will be asked whether you want to perform a ‘deep scan’ – check this option only if Recuva is unable to find your file in the first try. Files found in the scan are marked either green (easy to recover), yellow (difficult to recover) or red (permanently deleted). Sometimes, the file’s name might not be identifiable, but you can try the thumbnail preview or use your own judgment to figure out whether that’s the file you were looking for. Once you locate your file, click ‘Recuva’ and save it to your hard drive. 

INNOVATION/LEADERSHIP SPECIAL...3 Practical Secrets of Innovative Leaders

3 Practical Secrets of Innovative Leaders
Innovation doesn't require genius, luck, or magic--but it does require talking to the right people, being able to clearly articulate a vision, and putting the right partnerships in place.
I first read Peter Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, in the mid 1990s. At the time I was working on the fledgling team behind a new initiative at the World Bank called "knowledge management," which would later help earn the organization recognition as one of the World’s Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises.
I had never heard of Senge and was impressed by his approach. I shared the book with my boss, who said to me, “Why read when we can talk to the author?” Within a couple of weeks we were in sitting in Senge’s office in Cambridge discussing our organization's plans in detail. This is the first secret of great innovation leaders: Talk to the right people. In addition, to get innovation right, leaders must clearly articulate the way forward and build informal partnerships that generate synergy.

Secret #1. Talk to the Right People
Your most important asset is your mind. Your experience, expertise, and know-how governs your understanding of what is possible, the options you see, the strategy you formulate, and your assessments of the environment around you. To expand your vision, meet with other minds! Make it a habit to identify and visit the people who will provide you with fresh ideas, key learning, new tactics, and strong strategies.
My World Bank group’s ability to quickly meet and learn from Senge greatly accelerated our success. We experienced significant gains in the year ahead and received international recognition for our program. Part of our triumph was due to finding and meeting with the people who could draw us into substantive conversations that expanded our thinking, provided valuable insights, and uncovered solutions to problems we were facing.

Secret #2. Articulate the Way Forward
People rely on their leaders to craft a vision of the future that makes sense and can guide their everyday decisions. Most of the leaders I have met improvise this activity and many do it badly. And yet articulating a rousing vision of the future isn’t difficult. It can be your secret super-power, if you just master three tactics:
  • Be explicit about your conclusions and how you came to them. Speak in terms people can understand and relate to. Do more than share judgment--provide insight to your reasoning.
  • Give people the opportunity to ask questions. Encourage diverse points of view and different backgrounds. Let people react, inquire, challenge, and extract the information they need to satisfy their understanding. Then you will be in the best position to move forward together.
  • Customize your message to your audience. Include something useful in their day-to-day work--utility helps information stick.
Communication is a crucial step toward coherent action. By clearly and repeatedly taking the time to spell out what you are trying to do you will build a base of informed actors to help you innovate.

Secret #3. Build Informal Partnerships that Generate Synergy
Leadership today is largely about identifying the partnerships that will lead to broad, powerful impact and growth. Let me be clear--I’m talking about supportive and symbiotic relationships here, not contractual business partnerships. There is a tremendous amount that can be done on the basis of mutual interest alone.
Too many leaders shy away from informal partnerships, fearing the vulnerability that comes with relationships. If you overcome that fear, you get the benefits. Here are tips to help you master the third secret of innovation leaders:
  • Be clear about what you hope to get out of the partnership. Take the time to articulate the value to both parties that makes it worth pursuing.
  • Share the goals of the partnership with others who have a stake in its success. Initiate informal conversations, over the phone, via email, or over coffee, with the clients, vendors, industry experts, investors, and others who can share their perspectives how to get the most out of your partnership. Then share what you learn with your partners.
  • Take the lead in coordinating partnership activities. Be the one who identifies and handles important issues as they arise. Take responsibility for planning and facilitating joint events. Foster joint development. Provide regular assessment of the partnership that prove its value.
  •  Make it your job to keep everyone happy with the results of your informal partnerships. You’ll reap the rewards together.
Math: 1+1+1 = A Lot
These three tasks required of innovative leaders--talking to the right people, articulating the way forward, and building informal partnerships--work together. The interaction of these contributions produces a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual components. Together they ensure your leadership is well informed, a source of unambiguous guidance, and reinforced by powerful allies.
That’s a healthy platform for continuous innovation.

SCIENCE/ENERGY SPECIAL....Bacteria that is just like electrical cables

Bacteria that is just like electrical cables 

Danish scientists have discovered how some bacteria form gigantic power lines to survive in the seabed. The find might lead to new types of electronic devices 

    Researchers at Aarhus University, Denmark, made a discovery almost three years ago when they measured electric currents in the seabed. It was unclear as to what was conducting the current, but the researchers imagined the electric currents might run between different bacteria via a joint external wiring network. They have now solved the mystery. It turns out that the whole process takes place inside bacteria that are just one centimetre long. They make up a kind of live electric cablethatnoonehadeverimaginedexisted. Each one of these ‘cable bacteria’ contains a bundle of insulated wires that conduct an electric current from one end to the other.
    “Our experiments showed that the electricconnectionsintheseabedmust be solid structures built by bacteria,” says Aarhus student Christian Pfeffer.
    Under the microscope, they found an unknown type of long, bacteria that always seemed to be there when they measured the electric currents.
    “Theideathatthesebacteriashould be electric cables really fell into place when, we saw wire-like strings enclosed by a membrane inside the bacteria,” says Nils Risgaard-Petersen, Aarhus University.
The bacterium is one hundred times thinner than a hair and the whole bacterium functions as an electric cable withanumberofinsulatedwireswithinit.Quitesimilartotheelectriccables we know from our daily lives.
    “Such unique insulated biological wires seem simple but with incredible complexity at nanoscale,” says student Jie Song, who mapped the bacteria’s electrical properties.
    In an undisturbed seabed more than tens of thousands kilometers cable bacteria live under a single square meter seabed. The ability to conduct an electric current gives the bacteria ability to grab a lot of energy from decomposition processes in the seabed.
    Unlike all other known forms of life, cable bacteria maintain an efficient combustion down in the oxygen-free part of the seabed. It only requires that one end to reach the oxygen which the seawater provides to the top of the seabed. The combustion is a transfer of the electrons of the food to oxygen which the bacterial inner wires manage over centimeter-long distances.However,smalldisturbances can lead to fatal “cable breakage” in the fragile bacteria.
    “On the one hand, it is still very unreal and fantastic. On the other hand, it is also very tangible,” says Professor Lars Peter Nielsen. In the future the researchers hope to use this biological evolution to create new types of electronics.

PERSONAL SPECIAL...FOR THOSE WHO WORRY TOO MUCH...... How to stop worrying (1)

Are you a worrywart?
Did you know that the word worry comes from the Old English wyrgan which meant “to strangle”?
If you’re feeling strangled by worry, read on to find out why we fret and how to loosen that tight knot of worry that’s choking you.

Why do we worry?
Worry is a common experience for people in general, but there are times when it becomes such a big deal that it takes over our lives, eclipsing any experience of joy or contentment.
And there are some people who admit to being constant worrywarts even though they would really like to be more relaxed about life.
So, if worry is so unpleasant, why do we do it?
Researchers have found six “benefits” that people cite for worrying:
1. If I worry about something, I am more likely to actually figure out how to avoid or prevent something bad from happening. 
2. Although it may not actually be true, it feels like if I worry about something, the worrying makes it less likely that something bad will happen. 
3. Worrying about most of the things I worry about is a way to distract myself from worrying about even more emotional things, things that I don’t want to think about. 
4. If I worry about something, when something bad does happen, I’ll be better prepared for it. 
5. Worry helps to motivate me to get things done that I need to get done. 
6. Worrying is an effective way to problem-solve.

So, does worrying really help?
Do any of the six “benefits” above ring true for you?
Let’s look at each of them to see if they really accomplish what they are meant to.

1. If I worry about something, I am more likely to actually figure out how to avoid or prevent something bad from happening.
- and -
2. Although it may not actually be true, it feels like if I worry about something, the worrying makes it less likely that something bad will happen.

I placed the first two together because they are quite similar – they both hope that worry will prevent something bad from happening.
Note how this is different from benefit #6 which deals with problem-solving. These two are more about the worry itself helping you avoid or prevent something bad.
The tricky part of these particular ideas is that they create a self-reinforcing belief – something researchers call the “superstitious reinforcement paradigm.”
This means that you get negatively reinforced for your worry because the things you worry about usually don’t come to pass. So you conclude that worry = bad things not happening.
The problem with your conclusion is that the bad things probably wouldn’t happen if you didn’t worry.
Author Earl Conant says that only 8% of the things we worry about are legitimate, so it’s likely that you really don’t need to worry about 92% of the time.
We chuckle at baseball players who wear the same pair of lucky socks or eat the same meal before every game out of superstition.
But what about you? Are you continuing to worry because of a magical belief that you are preventing something bad from happening?
Maybe you should try lucky socks instead . . .

3. Worrying about most of the things I worry about is a way to distract myself from worrying about even more emotional things, things that I don’t want to think about.

Usually, when presented with something that makes us anxious, our heart rate increases. Worriers, though, when presented with a picture of something they worry about, have no change in cardiovascular response.
So, if you’re a worrier, you may feel reinforced by thinking your worrying must have “prepared” you to not respond physically to something anxiety-inducing.
However, what this really indicates is that you aren’t allowing the whole emotional picture to emerge around whatever it is you’re worried about.
You’re suppressing your fear.
Researchers found that people who worry and avoid their deeper fears are not able to learn from their fears as well as non-worriers.
For example, people who were afraid of public speaking were shown pictures of public speaking events. Non-worriers showed an elevated heart rate when shown the pictures while worriers did not (although they still worried about public speaking.)
However, when compelled to do several public speeches in a row, non-worriers learned that public speaking really wasn’t so scary while worriers still had the same level of anxiety as when they started.
So constantly worrying about something, although it might feel as though you’re controlling something you’re afraid of, really only prevents you from adding “corrective information” to your experience – that is, it doesn’t allow you to learn new information to overcome your fear.

4. If I worry about something, when something bad does happen, I’ll be better prepared for it.

Um, not so much.
As explained above, worry doesn’t allow you to learn how to overcome your fear, a key to being able to bounce back in life.
So, if the thing that you’re worrying about actually happens, you’ll still be anxious and not able to respond as well as possible.
Also, let’s think about this: What kind of life are you experiencing if you are constantly in a state of worry about things that happened in the past (which you have no control over) and things that might (but probably won’t) happen in the future?
What happened to the life that you are living right now? This present moment?
It’s gone in a cloud of worry.

5. Worry helps to motivate me to get things done that I need to get done.

Yes, it does.
Because you want to get rid of the terrible feeling of worry, you finally knuckle down and get the job done.
But why choose to be miserable to accomplish things rather than use any of the numerous positive motivators available to you?
Why not set up a reward system for yourself? When you get a task done, let yourself have that piece of chocolate or the walk with the dog or an hour of reading.
Go for positive reinforcement (receiving something good) rather than negative reinforcement (having something bad stop.)

6. Worrying is an effective way to problem-solve.
Again, not so much.
Here’s what worrying does: It brings up a lot of “what if . . .” questions. This is a good start to problem-solving but then, well, as Borkovec, et. al (1999) put it:
“Beyond this, worry itself does not contribute further to solving problems. One is either worrying, or one is problem solving. These two distinctive processes may alternate sequentially during a worrisome episode but never occur, by definition, at the same time.”
So worrying gets in the way of problem-solving because 
1.) You can’t worry and problem-solve at the same time and, 
2.) Worrying causes anxiety which interferes with your ability to concentrate and think rationally in order to problem-solve effectively.