Archive | August 2015

A Blog I Started Following

I spend some of my free time (when I’m not blogging) in Second Life. I met a new friend there the other day, and she’s just started an interesting blog. If you have any interest at all in photography in Second Life, you might want to check out her blog.

It’s a beautiful day in Rochester, but my Yahoo Weather app on my smartphone makes me wonder why, when it’s 73°F/23C° out, they choose to show me a picture of the Genesee River when it’s frozen over and there’s snow on the ground. If they’re trying to help me cool off, why didn’t they show it last week when it was 90°F/32C°?

There’s also a lovely breeze blowing, and as usual when the weather is nice, I have my apartment windows open. Not that it does a whole lot of good, as both windows are on the same side of the apartment, so I don’t get any cross breeze coming through. Still, the fans do a good job of circulating the cooler air. And that’s helpful since I’ve just turned off the oven, which had been on for about an hour and a half while I baked a couple of loaves of zucchini bread.

I’m not pleased with the results. You see, last night I set out a couple of sticks of butter to soften for oatmeal raisin cookies, and added the salt, baking soda, sugar and brown sugar that recipe called for. But this morning, I woke up thinking, “I need to make that zucchini bread while the zucchinis are still fresh.”

The result was that I added the salt, baking soda, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, and oil to the butter and sugars before I realized what I was doing. Anyway, I continued with the bread recipe, thinking that the worst that could happen would be the bread would be to buttery or oily.

Well, it’s edible, but it’s not something I’m going to share with anyone.

But here’s the recipe for you. I’ve baked it before—the right way—and it’s quite delicious. I definitely recommend it, if you like vegetable breads.

Microsoft OneNote, Redux

Okay, I admit it: I’m a program hoarder. Back in the CP/M heyday, I had over a hundred disks with software on them. To be fair, these were only 390Kb disks, but still. In the end, I donated them to my local public library.

But I still look for new, different, and exciting software. The programs I like best are useful, elegant, do the job I need them to do and do it well, and best of all, are free.


Since my previous post about OneNote, I’ve been researching ways to use it. I’m definitely an information junkie, especially when it comes to using a newly-discovered tech tool like OneNote. So I Googled “OneNote tutorials,” and discovered a nifty little add-on called OneTastic. If you use OneNote, or even if you think you might use it someday (and what are you waiting for? It’s free! Stop right now and go get it!), you need OneTastic.

Why? Because it’s free! Duh! Okay, let me be serious for a minute. OneTastic is like putting OneNote on steroids. Seriously. It greatly enhances OneNote to the point where I find myself using it more than I use my beloved Evernote.

Omer Atay is a developer on the OneNote team, and he created OneTastic in his free time. Here’s what the official Microsoft OneNote development team’s blog says about it:

Onetastic [is] an add-in to enhance OneNote functionality with a set of built-in features and an extensible macro processor that allows you to download and modify macros and add new ones yourself.

Here’s a brief list of some of the things OneTastic can do for you:

  • Automate routines tasks with macros.
  • View your OneNote pages in a calendar view.
  • Crop or rotate your images and printouts or select and copy text from them.
  • Customize styles in OneNote just like you can do so in Microsoft Word.
  • Access your favorite pages from a menu or pin shortcuts to them on your desktop.

In short, OneTastic elevates OneNote to a whole new level of usefulness and productivity. And while I stay believe that it will never replace Evernote—at least not for me—the three products—Evernote, OneNote, and OneTastic—together form a complete set of information-gathering, organizing, and managing that can’t be beat.

Besides, I’m so impressed with OneNote and OneTastic that I’ve created an entire Pinterest category for them!

Want more information? Watch the recording of a Webinar held last year by Microsoft.

Microsoft OneNote

While I’m still not ready to forgive Microsoft for the bug-ridden operating system Windows 10 they have inflicted upon its unsuspecting users downloaded as a free upgrade, still I do have to give them credit for something they did right as part of the upgrade: along with links to MS Office 2013, they installed OneNote 2013.

Why is this work mentioning? Because not only did they fix a lot of bugs in the original version, it’s now free…or at least as free as Microsoft has ever made anything: it’s free to download, free to install, and free to use on all of your devices. Laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, all regardless of the operating system you use. Well, all except for Linux. While Redmond doesn’t mind if you run OneNote on your Android or iOS devices, they still seem to fear any operating system that is free in the truest sense of the word.

But then again, if you’re a Linux/Unix purist, you probably don’t want any of Microsoft’s offerings on your machines anyway.

Wait, Wait—What About Evernote?

“But Robyn,” you ask. “What about Evernote? I thought you were this great Evernote lover, and it was the be-all and end-all of note taking programs?”

Relax! I still swear by Evernote. There are still a lot of things it does better than OneNote. But I have to be fair and honest and admit that OneNote outshines Evernote in some areas.

Notes comparison

Clipped from:

What I like best about OneNote is that when it comes to editing and formatting notes, it outshines Evernote. If you can format a document in MS Word, you can do the same thing in OneNote, using the same tools. In fact, if you have a document in Word that you’d like to add to OneNote, you can cut and paste it with no loss of formatting. Evernote has fewer formatting options, and not all of your formatting will copy over from Word.

Still, for custom filing that’s more like a database, Evernote is the way to go.

Bottom Line

I’m using OneNote more than I ever did before. I use the Web Clipping tool in Evernote more than I use it in OneNote for the simple reason that it’s available in Firefox, my browser of choice. OneNote’s clipping tool is only available in Chrome, Internet Exploder Explorer, or Edge. And I prefer having clipping supported in Firefox.

So my conclusion: I use both Evernote and OneNote, taking advantage of each program’s strongest points. I doubt that either one will completely replace the other.

Some Catching Up

It’s been a while, so it’s time to do some catching up. I’ve been busy with my Windows 10 upgrade, and it’s caused a few problems.

Windows 10: an Initial Evaluation 

I woke up one morning and was greeted with a message from the Windows 10 download notifier. It said that Windows 10 was downloading in the background, and I’d be notified when it was ready to install.
Three days later, I decided it was taking too long. I located and downloaded the media manager package, which allowed me to download an ISO image and burn it to disk. After that, I ran the program again to download and install Windows 10 in one fell swoop. The download this way took less than 15 minutes.

Windows 10 Hates Privacy

If you choose the automatic installation, Windows assumes several things. The first is that you want all of your data accessible by Microsoft, without any notification to you when it’s being accessed. The second thing it assumes is that you don’t mind other Windows users to use your Internet connection without your knowledge. Microsoft does make it clear that these other users can’t access your data, but they don’t make it clear enough that they are using your bandwidth. Which means that if your bandwidth is limited, it can get used up without your knowing why.
For these reasons alone, I recommend you choose Custom Installation. That way, you (and not Microsoft) can control things.

Goodbye, Solitaire 

It’s a small thing, but Solitaire is gone from Windows 10. Actually, it’s available as a separate (free) download, but you’ll have to pay extra if you want the advertisements to disappear. Thanks, Micro$oft.

Be Paranoid and Compulsive 

It goes without saying that if you’re going to install Windows 10, you should back up all of your data files first. I myself did not have any problems, but that’s not saying you won’t. And yes, I did take the time (and a few DVDS) to back up my files.
That’s not to say everything went perfectly. For example, when I launched my Firestorm viewer to log into Second Life, I discovered that all of my preference files were messed up. I ended up having to track them down manually and delete them. Then I had to uninstall Firestorm and reinstall it. Not a major crisis, but an inconvenience just the same.

Overall Impressions 

Despite all the hype and publicity, Windows 10 isn’t really major improvement. It’s more like a fix for everything Microsoft got wrong with Windows 8, and a return to the older interface we all know and love. Is it a must have? By that, do I mean do you absolute have to have it? 
Well, it’s like any other software upgrade: if you’re the kind of person who has to have the latest and greatest of everything, then by all means, install it. If you prefer to wait until the initial bugs are ironed out, then there’s no rush. The free upgrade offer is good for a whole year.