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January 2006 Efficiency Newsletter

Technology does not create productive people. We do.

Isn't it unfortunate how quickly the holiday "break" comes and goes? Needless to say, things are very busy here at SET. To make up for our last virus warning email, we'd postponed this newsletter a bit...but we would still like to wish you a fun and prosperous 2006!

Tip of the Month

Removing annoyances in Word

Here are some quick Word tips, all in one place. This won't take more than 60 seconds. Open up your Microsoft Word, select Tools, and then choose Options.

Select the General tab and you'll find a number of settings you may want to adjust:

Allow starting in Reading Layout - Some people don't mind when Word opens without any toolbars, in a view designed specifically for reading without any regard for layout or editing. You may find that when you open attachments in Outlook this occurs. I'm not a fan. Unchecking this setting would prevent this view from occurring automatically.

Example of Word's Reading Layout

Recently Used File List - Raise this from 4 to 9. This is the list of recently used files that displays in the File menu. There's no downside to displaying more files.. For more information, see a previous tip where I discussed this.

Automatically create drawing canvas when inserting AutoShapes - this one drives me up the wall. When you create a drawing object in Word it likes to place a "canvas" where you can manipulate the drawing object away from your existing layout. It makes it very difficult to annotate the document or insert a textbox near your text.

Once you've adjusted these settings to your liking, click OK and enjoy a slightly saner experience in Microsoft Word.

Tool of the Month

Google's Picasa

Many of you have heard about the new Google Pack, which contains a suite of tools designed to make one's computer experience speedy and safe. I have some issues with their choice of included applications, but one thing is for sure--Google's free tools are top notch. Lately the software package of theirs that I've enjoyed the most is Picasa.

Google acquired Picasa, Inc in July 2004, a company with a photo organization and editing product that integrated well with Google's (also acquired) Blogger service. Formerly a valuable $30 program, Picasa is now a free tool with even more powerful photo organization and manipulation features. I've been using it for a while, but most recently to organize over 5000 photos.

It's not a replacement for tools like Adobe PhotoShop or Macromedia Fireworks, but it's fast, intuitive, free! and attractive--four things that the larger tools are not. And for its photo organization capabilities, I'm sold.

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