Hassle-Reducing StrategiesGet yourself off of joke lists, use IM online, retrieve lost manuals, and find discount codes quickly--plus, some ghost hunting tips.
Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer, available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.
I know you hate hassles just as much as I do, and I'm here to help. This week I've got a bunch of tools and sites that'll make your workday just a little smoother.
But first, some breaking news...
This Just In: Eudora's No More
First it was Ashton Tate's dBase. Then Wordstar hit the bit bucket. And now Eudora, the e-mail program I love to hate, will fade into history.
What, you haven't heard? Qualcomm, the company that originally created Eudora for the Mac, has tossed in the towel. They're hooking up with Mozilla and going open source. The project, called Penelope, will "join the Eudora user experience with the Mozilla platform," according to the Mozilla wiki. Vaguely speaking, that may mean Eudora will look and feel the same as we know it. But maybe not.
Eudora has said the open source version will be available by mid-2007, and that version will be free. In the meantime, we can use the current version (220.127.116.11) in perpetuity. If you're using an older version, or the light version, you can also use it forever--or upgrade now for $20.
Read Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken's Techlog to see how other Eudora users are taking the news.
Get Off Joke Lists With BounceBully
The truth is that bouncing spam back to the creeps who sent it just isn't worth the trouble. Too often the spammer's address is bogus--and my guess is they wouldn't take the time to remove you from their list. ("Oh, my, Steve Bass's address isn't working any more. I'll just spend my time removing the dear boy.")
But what if you have a bozo or two constantly sending you dumber-than-dirt jokes? You know, the kind you didn't find funny even when you were in the fifth grade.
You could politely ask to be removed from their list. I usually say I use my PC primarily for work, my boss snoops in my e-mail (he probably does), and I don't want to get into trouble.
More fun, though, is to use a program that bounces e-mail back to the putz, showing that your e-mail address no longer exists. And guess what: You can do it with BounceBully. It's a freebie that takes the e-mail you receive and fires it back with all the right language--saying, essentially, that your e-mail address is no more. Try it out by sending yourself a test e-mail--cut and paste the mail into BounceBully and hit Send--and see what happens.
Dig This: Every year, really, really dumb people are the presented with the highly regarded Darwin Awards, which "salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who, uh, remove themselves from it," as the Web site explains. Read about this year's award winners.
Instant Messaging Without the Hassle
Do you need to occasionally send and receive instant messages? There's no need to hassle with downloading and installing an IM program. Instead, do it all from Meebo, a Web-based service that gives you access to AIM, ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, Jabber, GTalk, and MSN.
Free Manuals for Trillions of Devices
Quick--where's the manual for your Samsung refrigerator? You don't know, do you? What about your Yamaha AV amplifier? If you just have to RTFM and can't find the docs for many devices from Motorola, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, or other manufacturers, you're in luck. Chances are it's on UsersManualGuide.com.
Dig This: Halloween's on the way, when all the ghosts and ghouls are on the prowl. Need some ghost hunting tips? Check out GhostStudy.com (and don't laugh, these folks are serious).
Get Discounts With CurrentCodes
Here's the Bass drill: I'm ready to buy something online from, say, Crutchfield or TigerDirect. I get near the end of the checkout process and I see an annoying "Enter your coupon code" field. Nuts, I think. If I don't find a code, I might miss out on getting, I dunno, free shipping or a 10 percent discount. If only I had a silly code. So I kill 40 minutes Googling around, searching for a code. (Yeah, sure, like you don't do this? Right.)
I heard from Bruce J. the other day (about the only guy still using ix.netcom.com) and he told me about CurrentCodes, a handy spot for looking up, well, the current codes for tons of online stores. Currently it lists over 1300 stores. NaughtyCodes is similar to CurrentCodes.
I look at it this way: Before I check out, I do a quick search on CurrentCodes or NaughtyCodes. If there's nothing available, I've wasted five minutes. More important, I've satisfied my due-diligence gene.