Even though it’s no longer being regularly updated, it’s still an outstanding research portal. While it was designed with journalists in mind, the same imperatives apply whose profession (or obsession) leads them to dig deep for answers.
FOIA Geek, a site created by the investigative journalist Erin Rosa, is an outstanding resource for anyone interested in using the Freedom of Information Law (F.O.I.A – usually prounounced “FOY-uh), which, it should be noted, applies to United States federal agencies and is limited to the Executive Branch (that is, it doesn’t apply to Congress or the federal courts). But, within those limitations, it can be an excellent research tool. And getting government information it doesn’t necessarily mean conflict. Some agencies do great work that no one hears about.
In any case, we haven’ written nearly enough about FOI – federal or state – and we’ll try to make up for that in the near future.
FOIA Geek should be in the toolbox of any researcher or investigator. Good stuff.
EarPrompter uses its own digital recorder, rechargeable, on which a speaker records a text: an opening, a summation, a lecture. The recorder also functions as a low-power transmitter. Low-power is good in this context, because one only needs the signal to travel from somewhere on one’s person to a wireless earpiece.
We have reservations about using this at trial – but it certainly has applications for practitioners trying to sharpen a particular piece of text, particularly if the text has been underoing frequent iterations.
Having recently returned to using MS Word, after a few years of using, for the most part, OpenOffice, all the while missing WordPerfect1 it’s become clear that there are, in fact, many improvements to MS Word, but that, for good or ill, many things have been rearranged and it’s not always easy to resolve basic user interface geography problems. Microsoft has rearranged the furniture, the landscape, and the application has advanced far ahead of the documentation. For instance, Microsoft has made it very easy to find and download a large number of Word templates, but doesn’t make it simple to figure out where they should be saved so they’re available when creating a new document using the File | New command sequence. The old Word “Template Organizer” is gone, and while it was less than ideal, I did, eventually learn how to use it. In fact, the basic Windows application horizontal menu navigation has changed by omitting Help as the rightmost top-level menu.
- For reasons not clear to me, I’ve found installing WordPerfect on any Windows XP machine led to many system crashes and freezes. Since I was able to replicate the problem one more than one machine, and make the problem go away, consistently, by uninstalling WordPerfect, I gave up. The inference of a causal relationship between WordPerfect installation and system difficulties did not escape me, but, life being short, one can tilt at only so many windmills, and my bought-and-paid-for boxed copy of the Corel Suite, which includes WordPerfect, now sits on a bookshelf not far from my boxed copy of the complete set of the first generations of Infocom games, including the much-beloved Zork. [↩]
- A list of of lists: excellent USB-runnable apps, from office suites to single-function tools, which if you’ve the right one with you, make you McGyver, if not for a whole day, at least for an hour or so:
- 100 Portable Apps for your USB Stick (for Mac and Win)
- The Portable Free Ware collection has over 500 apps and counting
- PenDriveApps.com – don’t know how many apps, but they’r eorganized by category, and there are dozens of those.
- 70 Free Useful Portable Applications You Should Know from the always ahead-of-the-curve Hong Kiat
- TechSupportAlert.com has NOT ONLY Best Free Portable Programs but also Guide to Portable Applications, and Best Free Android Apps and Best Free Win 7 / Vista 64 bit Apps, and more or which you’ll have to check out
- Spoon Lets You Run Portable Desktop Apps From Your Browser as always, essential advice from Lifehacker Plus , also from Lifehacker, for whom there are only two optimal quantities – a lot,and “even more” – the balance are links to individual posts/reviews on Lifehacker
- Bluemind Is an Ultra-Lightweight Mind Mapping Application (LH)
- DokuWiki on a Stick Packs a Portable Wiki in a Tiny Package (LH)
- Create Timers via Flexible Inputs with Orszeszek Timer (LH)
- Use Your Smartphone as an Always-With-You Portable Apps Suite (LH)
- Without a Trace: Turn Your Flash Drive into a Portable Privacy Toolkit (LH)
- Create Synchronicity Is a Tiny, Portable Backup and Sync Utility (LH)
- Tweak Me! Puts Dozens of Windows Tweaks in a Portable Package (LH)
- Portable Ubuntu Tres Runs 9.10 on Windows Desktops (LH)
- ZeuApp Downloads 82 Awesome Open Source Apps (LH)
- uTorrent Portable Puts BitTorrent on a USB Drive (LH)
- Five Best Portable Apps Suites (LH)
- FolderSize Displays What’s Eating Your Hard Drive Space (LH)
- VLC Portable 1.0 Puts Multi-Format Playing on Thumb Drives
- Portable Chrome Updates with Chrome 2.0’s Speed Improvements
- LiberKey Installs 200+ Portable Applications
- Everything Portable Smokes at Finding Files on Your System
- Turn Your Spare Thumb Drives Into Feature-Packed Giveaway Drives
- ActiveHotkeys Shows You Which Keys Are Available
- DP Shredder Securely Shreds Your Files
Please feel free to add selections, experiences bad and good, in comments. We’d also be very interested in what readers have to say about their favorite and least favorite flash drives.
Sperry Software is a Jacksonville, Florida-based software dedicated to producing and supporting Add-Ins which enhance the functionality of Microsoft Outlook. Regular readers know we like free-open source software – but we also like excellent commercial software: depending on the context, paid-for software is the best business model to adequately compensate not only development,but support of applications. One example is the Catalyst WordPress Theme Framework, which powers this blog (and which is capable of far more than we do with it).
Sperry makes, by my count, over two dozen Outlook Add-Ins, plus several bundles which compile several of the add-ins at a discounted price. Many are strictly about efficiency – removing duplicates, catching conflicts, and generally making Outlook more efficient, leaner (reducing duplicates will, for instance, reduce the size of the .pst file, the single file in which MS Outlook stores all contacts, messages, tasks – everything in Outlook is stored in the single .pst file. In essence, a Microsoft Outlook installation for a single user consists of MS Outlook itself, which reads and saves to the .pst file.
Contact Sort Order (free without technical support, $30 with technical support, and a free 14-day trial on the paid version. Here’s a description of its features:
- Fixes the sort order of existing contacts
- Does both contacts and address book
- Updates all your contacts in your specified folders at once
- Optionally swaps the first name with the last name
- Free if you don’t need technical support from us
Sperry’s File Fetch Add-In, $24, is exceptionally clever. From Sperry’s description
- You provide the correct subject and in the body of the email you specify the path to the file you need.
- You send the email.
- The add-in will reply with the file you requested as an attachment.
Features of the File Fetch add-in:
- Returns any requested file from your file system
- Customize the subject used to return the requested file
- Always sends the file to a predetermined address for security
- Optional password can be required in the email body
- Easily enable/disable the add-in
- Integrates directly into Outlook for easy access
- Coded to avoid the Outlook security prompt
- Works with Microsoft Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2000
This is very clever, could be immensely useful – but gives me pause. I’m one member of a group – as yet to be legally formed and named (wach this space!) which, among other things, advises attorneys, law firms, and other enterprises with advice about data security. When used within the corporate environment with Exchange Server and internal/external security measures, it may be perfectly safe. We haven’t tested it yet, so our caution may be misplaced.
Follow-Up Reminders is a brilliant idea: you send an email, notifies you if you haven’t heard back, creates separate reminders per recipient and subject, and cancels the reminder when the recipient does get back to you. Again, $29.95 – with a free fourteen-day trial period.
The Sperry Blog includes a category for Tips, not limited to touting its own products, so it’s probably a good site to keep in mind when looking for ways to troubleshoot Outlook, or to use it more effectively.
A thought about pricing and trial periods: it’s probably inevitable as a matter of business survival that firms such as Sperry provide deep discounts for large purchases – which is to say large purchasers, but given the increasing concentration of capital in our economy, this is another example of the difficulties facing small businesses and startups. Of course, this is nothing compared to being a small business owner and shopping for employee health insurance – which alone has stopped more than one ethical entrepreneur from starting a business.
With respect to trial periods: on more than one occasion, we’ve arranged trial periods of two to four weeks – but found that the beginning of the trial period coincides with a client crisis; by the time one’s schedule is clear, there is insufficient time to methodically evaluate an application. This doesn’t apply in the same way to a trial period for end users, in which 14 days seems pretty reasonable. Again, this observation isn’t a criticism of Sperry.
The fine people at SoftZilla have definitely earned their ‘Zilla suffix. Looking
to what other apps were worth being in he digital toolbox in addition to NotePad++, which I use on every machine I work on regularly,SoftZilla’s List of Ten includes
Notepad2 from Flo’s Freeware; check out Softzilla’s other eight: Notepad Replacement : 10 Free Notepad Replacement Text Editor.
From OuterTech, the NotePad replacement is GetDiz, which is available in English and 20 other languages. Freeware for all 32- and 64-bit flavors of Windows. They also have a freeware Clipboard Manager which is tempting.
More after the jump -