Monday, March 30, 2009

10+ Microsoft Office add-ins to simplify your work

Add-ins are special COM files that extend the functionality of a program. In other words, they make your work simpler. Office’s popularity — and occasionally, its limitations — makes it a perfect candidate for add-ins. Microsoft provides a number of them, but most add-ins are third-party products, and many are free. Here’s a list of some of the most popular add-ins for Microsoft Office.

1: Save as or print to PDF or XPS
Without a doubt, one of the questions I receive most often is how to save an Access report as a PDF file. Adobe Systems created the PDF format more than a decade ago. Because of its flexibility and universal appeal, it’s now an open standard.
XML Paper Specification (XPS) is an XML-based specification that supports device and resolution independence, developed by Microsoft. In other words, content isn’t at the mercy of the client’s browser and local settings.
Microsoft offers a free add-in for Office 2007, Microsoft 2007 Save as PDF or XPS. You might also try,PDF995, CutePDFWriter, and PrimoPDF.

2: MathType with Word
MathType is an interactive equation editor that creates mathematical notations in Word. It’s flexible enough to handle Web pages, desktop publishing tools, PowerPoint presentations, and more. It’s a must for anyone writing scientific, engineering, and mathematical papers.
Microsoft also offers Microsoft Math, an add-in that eases the task of creating graphs, performs calculations, and solves for variables in Word 2007.

3: Lookeen for Outlook 2003 and 2007
This search tool integrates into your local system to search all Outlook folders, including archived folders, and it’s quick! You can search mail, attachments, appointments, tasks, notes, and contacts, all at the same time.

4: Search Commands
Do you support frustrated users who can’t find commands and features in Office 2007? Install Search Commands on their local systems. This innovative add-in drops in a new tab that allows users to enter their own words to find commands. It’s easy to implement and it works great.

5: MZ-Tools
If you write your own VBA solutions, you need MZ-Tools. This customizable add-in has a number of features that will make the time you spend coding more productive and efficient:
Write better code and find existing code faster.
Apply default properties with a single click.
Quickly document code by inserting custom headers into modules.
Automatically add line numbers and error handlers to procedures.

6: Total Access Analyzer
Total Access Analyzer analyzes your Access database objects to expose hidden problems, forgotten objects, and more. It cross-references objects and creates data flow diagrams. Use this add-in to document your code, find missing objects and variables, and uncover scoping issues. Total Access Analyzer finds errors, suggests changes, and offers tips for improving performance. It’s a bit pricey, but developers who use it say it’s worth it.

7: SimplyVBA Global Error Handler
SimplyVBA Global Error Handler displays effective information about each error:
The procedure and module where the error occurred
A traceable iteration through the call stack to the error
VBA developers will appreciate this add-in’s robust error handling.

8: Office Live
Office Live lets you open (and save) documents in Office Live Workspace directly from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Mozilla Firefox users will need an additional plug-in. Be careful, though, as this is more than a simple add-in. It requires specific updates and will download and install them, if you haven’t already.

9: Personal Folders Backup
Outlook stores all your mail, calendar items, contacts, and so on in a PST file. If something happens to it, you could lose all of your correspondence, tasks, appointments, and contact information. Backing up this file is a vital part of any maintenance routine. Personal Folders Backup is an add-in that backs up PST files at regular intervals. (If you’re on Microsoft Exchange Server, this add-in probably isn’t necessary, as your administrator is backing up PST files.)

10: Mail Merge Toolkit
Merging documents is a huge feature with a few limitations. Mail Merge Toolkit extends the existing merge capabilities in Outlook, Word, and Publisher so you can:
Personalize the subject.
Attach files to messages.
Send HTML or RTF messages, regardless of security settings.
Send messages from Publisher in GIF format.

11: Mail Merge for PowerPoint
It’s hard to think of merging a PowerPoint presentation, but if you need that capability, you’ll appreciatePPTools Merge. This add-in merges data from Excel tab- or comma-delimited files into PowerPoint text boxes, pictures, notes, and hyperlinks. You can merge data, pictures, movies, sounds, and external text files. For instance, you could use this add-in to print award certificates for members of your audience at the end of your program instead of printing them later and mailing them.

12: Narration Timing Tweaker
PowerPoint lets you record an audio narration to enhance (or guide) a slide show. However, it’s a winner-take-all type of feature. If an event needs tweaking, you have to start from scratch and it’s difficult to get it right the first or even the second time. Narration Timing Tweaker allows you to fine-tune the narration portion of a slide show.

13: OLAP PivotTable Extensions for Excel 2007
There’s more to Excel 2007’s PivotTables feature than Excel lets on. This add-in extends the OLAP PivotTable Extensions to include Analysis Services cubes. It doesn’t actually offer more functionality, it just provides an interface to use what’s already there.

14: Access 2007 Developer Extensions and Runtime
The Access 2007 Developer Extensions and Runtime add-in helps developers get a solution to market. This add-in supplies tools for packaging, deployment, licensing, and distribution agreements.

15: Blueprint for Outlook
Printing is a bit limited in Outlook, even Outlook 2007. Blueprint for Outlook adds a few printing features that Outlook ought to offer but doesn’t. You can print a single page or selected text, quickly automate a custom print task, or print an attachment.

16: CrossEyes for Word
If you work with long documents, you know that formatting can take on a life of its own. CrossEyesdemystifies Word’s formatting codes so you can identify problems and resolve them.

17: Microsoft Outlook SMS
With the help of Microsoft Outlook SMS, you can send SMS text messages through most Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) mobile phones, connected to a PC using Outlook 2003 or Outlook 2007. You enter the message in an Outlook-type message form and then send that message to a mobile phone without third-party software or a subscription to a mobile network service if you connect the phone to a PC.

18: AddInSpy
Use AddInSpy to develop new add-ins for Office and to troubleshoot existing Office add-ins. Although Microsoft offers this free download through Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN), it doesn’t support it. Despite that, it’s one of my favorites.

Source: TechRepublic , Author: Susan Harkins

Monday, March 16, 2009

Virtues of Sleep

Sleep: the natural panacea

Just imagine this: Science tells us that the normal human being is supposed to spend about one third of his life in sleep! Ever wondered why nature programmed us that way if it had not been absolutely necessary? In fact, cell regeneration and cell growth is known to occur only during periods of rest, and many hormones essential to proper functioning of the human body are produced only when the body is at its deepest sleep stage.

Sleep plays a vital role in our life, in fact, it is an essential ingredient for our well-being, and it manifests both externally and internally — revitalizing both our physical health and emotional health. Doesn’t it feel nice when the hollows under your eyes plump up, the eyes sparkle and the eye-whites instead of pink remain white after a night of undisturbed, relaxed sleep? Don't you feel absolutely wrecked the morning after a night without sleep and rest?

The advantages of good sleep
There is nothing like a good night’s sleep. When you wake up refreshed and energized you are ready to take on the world. In fact, scientists have proved that people who are taught mentally challenging tasks do better after a good night’s sleep.

Not getting a good night’s sleep?
Sleep deprivation is due to the high-paced lifestyle which causes a lack of time for the sleep we need. Skimping on sleep has a price. When you sleep less even by one hour, it can make it tough for you to focus the next day and can slow your response time. Also you are more likely to make bad decisions and take more risks.

So what happens to us?
When we do not get the amount of sleep we need we accumulate a sleep debt. Therefore, the body rhythm gets disrupted. This sleep debt has to be paid back or sleepiness will continue to worsen. Many people try to pay back the debt on the weekends resulting in the disruption of their circadian rhythm. If we are not getting enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep on a regular basis, the risk increases of having high blood pressure, heart disease, and other medical conditions.

Some common causes of sleep deprivation:

  • not allowing enough time for sleep
  • sleep disorders
  • excessive worry
  • depression
  • repeated awakenings from noise or trips to the bathroom
  • anything that causes insomnia or poor quality of sleep
  • medication that may interfere with sleep
  • lack of exercise

Some common effects of sleep deprivation:

  • increased fatigue
  • depression
  • difficulty with social relationships
  • decreased productivity
  • breathing disorders
  • heart disease
  • motor vehicle accidents

You may find some good tips below:

  • Sleep is as necessary as the air we breathe and the food we eat both quantity and quality-wise. Most adults need between 7.5 to 8.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
  • Be regular. Going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time every day. Getting up at the same time is most important. Getting bright light, like the sun, when you get up will also help. Try to go to bed only when you are sleepy. Bright light in the morning at a regular time should help you feel sleepy at the same time every night.
  • Avoid alcohol one to two hours before bedtime as it is a depressant. Although it makes a person drowsy and falling asleep becomes easier, but with the use of alcohol, a person sleeps lighter and wakes up more frequently. It can also reduce sleep so that a person does not sleep for as long as needed.
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine. This will help you get deep sleep which is most refreshing. If you take any caffeine, take it in the morning. Avoid all stimulants in the evening, including chocolate, caffeinated sodas, and caffeinated teas. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic and will result in an increased need to get up during the night due to a full bladder. Although caffeine is considered safe, moderation is recommended. This is considered 300 mg per day or about two cups of coffee.
  • Avoid eating large meals and high fat foods before bed time. But don't go to bed hungry. Have a light snack. If you need to eat right before bedtime, try eating carbohydrates (bread, crackers, and cereal). Avoid drinking large amounts of fluids before bedtime. Empty your bladder right before going to bed.
  • Perform some form of daily exercise that is right for you. If you are not able to stand or bear weight, stretching and some aerobics can be performed from a sitting position. Exercise early in the day to promote sleep at night. Avoid exercise right before bedtime. If you cannot sleep, do not exercise. Instead, try engaging in a quiet activity.
  • Find or create a quiet environment. Avoid an area that has bright light. Avoid watching stimulating television shows or using laptop just before bedtime. Consider moving the TV out of the bedroom. If it helps to read before sleep make sure you use a very small wattage bulb to read. A 15 watt bulb should be enough.
  • Don't stress yourself if you feel you are not getting enough sleep. It will just make matters worse. Know you will sleep eventually. If you have any concerns see your doctor.
  • Relaxation helps relieve fatigue, anxiety and tension.

Therefore, good night, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite!

Source: ApolloDKV