Ten terrific things you can do with your PC – Part 3

Quickly Organize Your Books and Music

Bibliophiles need not be hostile towards a computer. You can organize your beloved tomes using a computer and make your life a little easier.

It’s the digital age, and all of us are moving our life onto our computers. Despite this, many of us still prefer to buy real books or music CDs, instead of e-books or mp3s. There is something very satisfying about looking at a shelf full of books or CDs, a collection built over many years. Keeping track of all this can be tough though, especially when friends ask to borrow some.

Here’s where you can use your computer to easily keep track of all this: books, movies, CDs, and games.

There’s a lot of software available that makes it easy to catalogue your collection.

There’s lots of software available for this, and we’ve chosen to use Libra. This is completely free for non-commercial use, and it has some nifty features, such as the ability to use any webcam as a bar code scanner.

You can hold the book in any orientation and it will recognize the bar code. This is a real time saver and takes much of the tedium out of creating the catalogue.

1) Download Libra from www.getlibra.com, and install it.

2) After installing, choose the option to create a new database. The program starts up with an empty bookshelf.

3) There are two ways to start entering data: use a webcam to scan bar codes, or type in the bar code manually.

Libra queries the Amazon.com databases, so it needs an active Internet connection to download the data.

This process is pretty quick, and once the data has been downloaded, it’s stored in the offline database. It’s quite magical to see the book or CD you’ve got in your hand show up on the bookshelf, complete with a short summary and cover images.

You can’t see Indian prices though, which is sad, but we haven’t yet got large book databases here. Also, sometimes the cover image might be different, since Indian editions occasionally have different images.

The boring bit is holding up all the books you have to the webcam or entering the barcodes manually. Still, you only have to do this once, and Libra has the ability to import older databases and even Excel spreadsheets, so in case you’ve already maintained a catalogue, you won’t have to re-enter all that data.

Once you’ve got everything entered, Libra lets you track any books or CDs you may have lent out. It can also print out your catalogue on paper, export it to a website, or even an Excel spreadsheet. The website export option is useful, as it creates a webpage that looks just like Libra. All you have to do is upload one folder to your website.

Whether you’re a serious bibliophile or just a tyro, you’re bound to like Libra.

–Aditya Nag

Spring Clean Your PC

Get down to cleaning all the dirty bits out of your PC as we show how to clean your system from scratch.

Who doesn’t like to see their PC spic and span all the time? Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a lot for it to attract a truck load of dust and lose its charm in no time. Dust is also a proven detriment in slowing down your system’s overall performance.

Luckily, cleaning and maintaining your PC in optimum shape isn’t exactly rocket science. Just make sure you disconnect the relevant PC component before cleaning it. Take some time out on a weekend and here’s what can be done:

Clean Touch

Unclean fingers aren’t the only reason for dirty keyboards; coffee spills, bits of hair, lack of a proper dust cover, and a bit of negligence add a few more insults to injury.

Like any other gadget or device, the simplest way of cleaning your keyboard is with a vacuum cleaner or an air blower.

For best results, alternate between blowing air in and out while you have your keyboard overturned.

Take a lint-free cloth (the type which is used for cleaning eyeglasses), wrap it around a toothpick like an ear bud, dip it in a suitable cleaning fluid and use it to clean all the keys around their edges.

A more advanced clean-up requires the removal of each and every single key (with a screwdriver) and scrubbing away the dust accumulated under it. But make sure you make a key map of your keyboard on a piece of paper before you start unhooking those keys.

To make your keyboard look brand new again, there’s absolutely no harm even if you unscrew and take it apart, remove the plastic padding and circuit board from underneath and then proceed to give the casing a good old-fashioned wash. Make sure that you properly dry the keyboard case and keys before refitting them all together.

Energize your Mouse

For a scroll-ball operated mouse, dust accumulated in the cavity where the ball and the rollers reside usually leads to erratic mouse pointer behavior on screen.

You can easily clean the cavity and the rollers by unlocking the circular locking plate that holds the ball in its place; make sure the rollers are dust free as they assist the fluid motion whenever they come in contact with the ball. For an optical mouse, there’s very little that you can do to keep it dust-free. The soft pads located at the base of the mouse catch hold of clumps of dust easily and become sticky, hence need to be cleaned periodically. Also make sure that there’s no dirt around the optical beam outlet.

Stop Squinting

Always use a lint-free cloth to wipe clean your LCD monitor screen as using paper or other clothing material may scratch the sensitive surface, and avoid spraying any cleaning fluid directly onto the screen as it can be damaging; also try not to apply excessive pressure.A gentle wipe of the entire monitor is all you need to do from time to time. CRTs are less demanding, though more capable of accumulating dust. Companies like Scotch-Brite have cleaning cloths specially designed for cleaning PC and laptop screens.

–Jayesh Shinde

Multi-Task Your Inkjet Printer

If you are only using your Inkjet printer for printing out documents and ordinary looking pictures, you are missing out on the bigger picture.You will be surprised by its capability to do much more. So read on to know how to extract maximum benefits out of your Inkjet printer.

Create Greeting Cards

Why bother to look around for greeting cards when you can create your own customized Professional-looking greeting cards. You just need a decent enough Inkjet printer, pre-folded greeting card paper (available in most stationery stores), and a greeting card creator software like ArcSoft greeting Card Creator (www.arcsoft.com) or Belltech greeting Card Designer www.belltechsystems.com.

The first thing to do is to create your card with the help of the greeting card software.

Before you print it out, you need to adjust your printer settings:

1) Set the paper size, type (if your printer doesn’t support greeting card paper, Photo Paper option will do just fine),

2) Select the best print quality, and choose “Two-sided printing” (for some printer, a “Short-sides” option is also available)

3) You’ll need to flip the paper for printing the inner sides of the card.

Another effective yet easy alternative is to create your card with the help of Microsoft greeting card templates available from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/CT101043221033.aspx.

Create T-shirt Transfers

If you want to print personalized messages or pictures in your T-shirt, you can easily do so by creating T-shirt transfers with your Inkjet printer.

You need specialized iron-on transfer paper for inkjet printers.

1) Before printing out the image or text to the transfer paper, you need to flip it horizontally (mirror effect) using any good image editor,

2) Set the paper type to “Transfer Papers” (If this option is not available, select “Photo Paper”) and other settings according to your preferences.

3) After printing on the transfer paper, place the transfer facedown on the shirt, iron from side to side.

4) Apply even force and heat for about 30 seconds and immediately pull off the transfer paper.

Create posters

If your printer comes with poster printing support, you can design and create your poster in Microsoft Publisher or PowerPoint and print it directly without using any special software.

1) In the printer Properties, choose the “Poster Printing” option from the “Page Layout” section,

2) Specify the paper size,

3) After printing out all the pages, tape it together to create your own poster.

Alternatively you can use specialized software like Poster Forge (included in the DVD) which allows you to easily design and create customized posters effortlessly.

Create DVD/CD labels

If you want to create professional looking personalized DVD/CD labels, your Inkjet printer and Nero burning software is all you need. You will also need blank DVD/CD labels specially designed for Inkjet printers.

1) First you need to design your label with Nero CoverDesigner or other similar software and print it after selecting the proper settings in the print properties.

2) Carefully peel the new label off of the backing and apply it to the DVD/CD.

It is also possible to print labels directly on recordable DVD/ CD with CD/DVD-compatible printer like Epson Stylus Photo R800.

There are lots of other things you can create with your Inkjet printer like letterheads, banners, brochures, certificates, calendars, business cards, newsletters, etc and all these can be easily created with specialized all-in-one software like PrintMaster Express (get it from Download.com) or Ashampoo Photo Commander (included in the DVD).

–John Maringmei

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