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Computing tips that can make your work easier

With file sizes and data transfers mushrooming exponentially, copying stuff between machines and devices can be both banal and bothersome.

7 Sizzling Freebies That Help You Work Smarter
Easy ways to cut down on the hassles of daily work in the era of a networked world -


When it comes to comparing different version of PDF files, haven't you so wished for a magical utility that can automate the process instead making you strain your eyes over a rather mechanical but time-consuming task? Well, DiffPDF does exactly that. Further, not only does it finds anomalies in the text but also in the appearance of two documents. In fact, it offers three comparison modes: Words, Characters, and Appearance. All you need to do is give it the names of the two PDFs to be compared. The resultant window with the docs side-by-side will display to you the dissimilarities highlighted in red. Word for word differences apart, text formatting changes, font alterations, mnemonics and graphic amendments can all be be selectively pointed up. And oh, it is also possible to compare specific pages or page ranges.


With file sizes and data transfers mushrooming exponentially, copying stuff between machines and devices can be both banal and bothersome. More so if something goes wrong in the middle of the copying and you have to start all over again. Teracopy is a superb free solution to handle all your file copying and moving tasks. It's fast and furious-asynchronous copying abilities allow it to speed up the file transfer even between two physical hard drives. It doesn't halt the copying process if it comes across an erroneous file; it skips the rogue and displays the names of failed transfers at the end for your attention. Teracopy also lets you pause and resume a file transfer, if required. In addition, it can automatically check copied files for errors by calculating their CRC (cyclic redundancy check) checksum values.


While the advantages of the Cloud are beyond doubt, little thought has been given to the security aspect of storing files online. Despite layers of built-in SSL data encryption and secure transfers, cloud storage space providers have not been able to provide an infiltration free shelter to data. Rather than follow an ostrich-like upload and forget policy, it is wise, therefore, to deploy an encryption program like BoxCryptor. This uncomplicated offering (with a slightly off-putting installation) works like a virtual hard disk that encrypts each individual file on the fly using 256-bit AES encryption and then uploads it to your cloud storage service. Yes, it works with most popular services, including Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive. Why is it safe? Because the encryption and decryption is done locally, on your machine, not online.


Have you ever felt the need to sync the files and data across your PCs? No, we don't mean via the cloud. We mean over the local network so that nothing is constantly nibbling at your Internet bandwidth- and, therefore, your monthly FUP quota. SparkleShare is a nifty new tool out there is does this with equanimity. It lets you set up a local Dropbox-or folder that acts like a repository of synced files for the network. But all this is done without any online links to the cloud. So this tool is more a collaboration and sharing program. It creates a folder on each computer in which various PCs' "projects" are stored. All these are automatically synced to their respective hosts (multiple projects connected to different hosts can also be created) and to your team's SparkleShare folders when someone adds, removes or edits a file.


AutoHotkey is a free, open-source utility that lets you automate your working by triggering by predefined keystrokes and mouse clicks. Since any virtually any key, button or combination can become a hotkey, you can create hotkeys for your keyboard, mouse and also a joystick. Plus, you can also use it to trigger very short phrases within a document or mail and save time on typing-quite like PhraseExpress. But the predominant emphasis here is remapping your system's keyboard keys and mouse buttons. Not everyone may want something like this. But yeah, trust us, it does take the tedium out of a lot of mundane tasks.


Many a time and oft, a lot of what we type out on our keyboards-words, phrases, even complete sentences-are repetitions. Right from something as simple as a sign off like "with best regards" to something as common place as "how have you been". And then there is data like business/home address, phone numbers, or contact info that are tedious to key in again and again. One of the best tools to automate such tasks is a free utility called PhraseExpress. This allows you to type in a short sequence or snippet which then expands to almost full length. For example, typing 'addr' could expand into your complete address. Or a predefined abbrevation like 'abbtt' could zap out a full introductory para about you or your business in a business doc or mail. Autocomplete and autocorrect apart, it also offers spelling correction right across your PC in several languages.


Flighty name, first-class utility. Especially, if many of you are migrating between your Windows PC and iPad on a daily basis. This lightweight tool allows you to jot notes down on your Windows device and have them autosync with the Simplenote app (also free) on your iPad without any fuss, or even with Notational Velocity on Macs (again, free). Wonderfully simple to use, this no-fuss, text-only application allows note tagging as well as search and comes with several keyboard shortcuts. Not only does it autosync (and make a copy of your notes available to you on the web at, but it also automatically saves your notes. A portable version of the ute can be carried on a USB drive and used right off it. However, Resoph can't handle formatted or rich text. It's a plain vanilla notetaker.
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