pc stuff

PDF splitter free online tool

Occasionally I have to work with some huge documents, typically as PDFs, but I don’t always have my laptop with the full Acrobat package on it. When that happens, and I need to break the PDFs up, I use a free online PDF splitter tool called PDFSplit! – which is available here.

It can extract all pages in a PDF to individual PDFs, or just grab a certain section of a PDF and save it into a new file. It’s quick. It’s online. And it’s free.

Free, online file converter tool

Although I’m a big fan of Calibre and use it to manage the bulk of my e-book collection, occasionally, I just want to quickly convert individual documents or ebooks. And for this purpose, I’ve come across a helpful free, online book converter tool – cunningly called “Online Converter Tool” – and you can access it here.

Just saying it’s an ebook converter tool is a little misleading though because it can do a lot more than that. It can convert to most of the main ebook and document formats – including ePub, mobi (for Kindles) and PDFs – but it will also convert audio files into different formats too, including to AAC, MP3, OGG, WAV and WMA (among others). 

Similarly, there are video converters – think AVI, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and WMV – as well as device-specific settings for iPhone, iPads, Android devices and others. And there are also free online converter tools for images (BMP, EPS, GIF, JPG, PNG, etc.), documents (DOC, DOCX, HTML, PDF, RTF, TXT, etc.) and even archive converters (7Z, ZIP, etc. – but no RAR). 

Considering it’s a completely free resource, the few files I’ve thrown at it were dealt with quickly and produced flawless PDFs from ePubs, with no watermarking or other additions to my document. So it’s earned a place in my bookmarks and will no doubt be a tool I continue to use in the future.

Online marketing planning case study

chessMy blog so far has been a place for me to share things that I find interesting as well as helpful tips and information that I’ll often refer back to myself. It’s almost like having a personal set of bookmarks that are accessible everywhere I go without having to use any bespoke service.

However, a friend has asked me for some advice regarding their newly launched online business and since I happen to work predominantly in the online / media / marketing world, I thought this blog is as good a place as any to write up my suggestions.

Although I’ve intentionally kept the name of the company anonymous, the principles behind maximising online opportunities for an online retailer apply can be applied by anyone.

The background

The company my friend works for is a niche SME online retailer that has decided to branch out in to a new range of products (home accessories and home gifts) outside of its existing offering (beauty products). Rather than expand the existing successful brand, a new separate entity has been created. A good, well designed web site has been constructed; an expansive range of over 400 niche products has been selected and available from launch at competitive prices; and some initial social media activities have been undertaken. So far, so good – they’re sounding like they’re doing a lot of the right things – but what can they do to take things to the next level?

Read more

What is Open Source?

Open Source is simply defined as a collaboration, predominantly online, whereby source code and software is made available under an open licensing structure with the aim of encouraging other developers and users to test it, tweak it and develop it further, reposting their achievements back to the community so that others can benefit from it.

What this actually means is that most generally available commercial software has an Open Source alternative – with the added benefit that these are available freely for anyone to download from the Internet.

Some of the good Open Source software available includes: WordPress, Joomla, Star Office, Open Office, Freemind… these are the obvious ones that spring to mind, that I’ve used, but there are far more!

Wikipedia define Open Source as:

Open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product’s source materials—typically, their source code. Some consider open source a philosophy, others consider it a pragmatic methodology. Opening the source code enabled a self-enhancing diversity of production models, communication paths, and interactive communities. Subsequently, a new, three-word phrase “open source software” was born to describe the environment that the new copyright, licensing, domain, and consumer issues created.

 A main principle and practice of open source software development is peer production by bartering and collaboration, with the end-product (and source-material) available at no cost to the public.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source

A good list of available Open Source software (top 20)  is available from Trip Wire magazine, HERE.

Dynamic image resizing in WordPress

Some of the WordPress themes I’ve trialled include a dynamic image re-size option, which initially sounded quite good. However, after trying for hours to get the thing to work and searching countless other forums and WordPress guides, I still couldn’t get it to work.

That was, until, I stumbled across a web site (http://ravidreams.com/2009/10/wordpress-automatic-thumbnail-issue-with-hostgator/) that specifically covered by problem – and it wasn’t anything to do with my directory permissions either. It was a bandwidth protection measure from my host, Hostgator!

Anyway, following the instructions on the site (copied and pasted below, for ease) – resolved the issue nice and quickly… and now I have a fully functioning, image resizing WordPress installation!

Here’s what to do:

1. Login to your Hostgator control panel and contact Live Chat Support.
2. Ask the support technician to white list your thumbnail generation file for mod_security . You will need to give your file name and path.  The file name mostly will be timthumb.php or thumb.php. You can find this file inside the WordPress theme folder. An example file path wp-content/themes/theme_name/thumb.php

This is apparently a known issue with Hostgator’s WordPress hosting and all their technicians should recognize your request.

This problem will be solved by them in minutes.

How to configure Windows XP to log on automatically

It’s more secure and better practice to not just have your computer log on automatically. Ideally, for security reasons, you should install a BIOS password too – but that may be a step too far for some people. Instead, you can just add that extra layer of security by not running your system as the computer administrator and setting up limited user accounts instead.

Using the Control Panel to set up users is fine, but if you want to be able to force them to log in at the Welcome Screen, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, then Run to get to the ‘Run’ box
  2. Then in the run box execute this command: control userpasswords2
  3. You will see a check box labelled ‘Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer’.
  4. Ensure there is a tick in this check from this check box.
  5. Click on OK.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to have to log in each time…

  1. Untick this check box.
  2. You’ll then be prompted to enter the user name and password you wish to automatically log on with, and then click OK.

Now anyone with physical access to your computer can use this machine. It makes your computer more convenient to use, but at the same time can pose a privacy / security risk.

If you need to start up the computer but do not want to log in automatically one specific time, then You can suppress the automatic logon by pressing the SHIFT key during the boot process.

If you want to permanently disable the auto-logon, you can execute this command from the Run box: rundll32 netplwiz.dll,ClearAutoLogon