Category Archives: Recommended

Use Google Authenticator with Microsoft’s live.com

Two-step authentication is the technology to use everywhere as much as possible, to prevent identity and data theft. Many online services, including Dropbox, LastPass, Facebook, are using Google’s Authenticator app. It generates random time-dependent one-time codes that should be entered in the process of the two-factor authentication.

Microsoft’s live.com service also supports the 2-step authentication. However, by default Microsoft wants you to use its own app to generate the one-time codes. It does not make much sense to use it, if you are using Google Authenticator (GA) for all other services. Luckily, Microsoft is smart enough to support GA as well, just in a little hidden, even though simple, manner. Here is how to set it up:

  1. “Add a new identity verification app”
  2. Choose “Android”, press “Next”
  3. (If you now choose “Install the app from the Google Play Store.”, you’ll be offered to install a Microsoft app.) DO NOT DO IT.
  4. At the bottom, there is a line: “Android device not compatible? Try this app instead.” It is a link to the Google Authenticator. Click it.
  5. On the next page, a QR-code for Google Authenticator is shown. Scan it with “Set up account” function in Google Authenticator, verify the code and you are good to go.
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Torrent for legal download

A lot of people associate torrents and pear-to-pear (P2P) technology in general with illegal music, film, and software downloads. Some internet providers even block the torrent protocol claiming that it’s illegal to use it.

Next time they do it with you, tell them: P2P is fully legal, and a lot of digital material can be downloaded via torrent. The advantage of using P2P instead of the direct download links is that reduces the load on the company server and may even help get the file quicker while also helping others. Be internet ecology-friendly.

I will be collecting here examples of what you can legally download via p2p. Please feel free to contribute in the comments.

Some sites also specialize on freely distributable material:

See also:

Paste pure text in Windows

Background

Years ago, text could only be copied in Windows between the programs as a plain text. That is, only the content, without the format. Today the situation has improved changed and in many programs now when you copy and paste the text, you do so together with the format, whatever it may be.

Problem

In my opinion, this is a really poor approach from the user experience perspective. You should use styles to control the look of your text, so the text properties should not be connected to its content. One should really move around the text, not the look. (Word actually does it pretty neatly, by moving the style rather than the look of the text. The problem however is still there if you copy & paste the text from Word to, say, Excel.)

Another problem with moving the text properties around is that sometimes it is really not what you want. Have you ever tried to copy the content of a web page and paste it into Word? You know what happens. Word tries to keep the whole structure of the web page and transfer it to your document. The problem is that web pages are formatted inherently differently than the paper documents. Adding the structure of a web page to a text document means adding numerous redundant elements, such as tables, to your document. Besides, you just wanted the content, the text.

Solution

In Google Documents with Windows + Chrome, you can now press Ctrl+Shift+V. For other OS and browsers, see here.

In MS Office, use the Paste Special command. And if you do not like using it all the time, the PureText program comes to help. It is beautifully simple, tiny, and does not require installation. You can assign a new combination for pasting text-only (such as the default Windows+V or Google-like Ctrl+Shift+V) or overrule the standard Ctrl+V. The only two drawbacks are that the program needs admin rights to be run and is not as fast as Windows own clipboard.

Set UTF-8 as default encoding in Notepad

While the majority of power users will recommend to switch from Notepad to the wonderful Notepad++ or Notepad 2, it is still useful to make the original Windows Notepad save texts in UTF-8 by default. 

First, ANSI, which is the default Notepad encoding) is outdated. There is no benefit in saving files in ANSI over saving them in UTF-8. So why not do it properly.

Second, occasionally I want to have the simplicity of Notepad and still be able to use symbols outside the ANSI standard.

So here is how to do it (solution taken from Microsoft Community; note that you need the admin rights to do it):

  1. Start Notepad, do not type anything, do File > Save As, choose UTF-8 encoding and save the file somewhere as TXTUTF-8.txt.
  2. Copy TXTUTF-8.txt to c:\windows\shellnew.
  3. Run regedit (registry editor) and navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.txt\ShellNew.
  4. Right click in the right window > New > “String Value” and rename it to FileName.
  5. Double click on “FileName” and put TXTUTF-8.txt into “Value data:” field and press OK.

Now the default encoding in Notepad is UTF-8.

Convert PDF for Kindle

Normally, you can just select and copy text in PDF and paste it to a text file. Then save in UTF-8 encoding and put the file on the Kindle. It’s hard with big documents (aka books) though.

Another way is to save PDF as text (available in Acrobat Reader). The disadvantage is a complete loss of the document structure. The text is readable but not looking nice.

Recently I’ve found and tested on a 270+ page book this service: http://pdf4kindle.com/. It’s free and in my case has created a very nicely looking mobi file, which Kindle can read.

Checksum calculation integrated with Windows Explorer

A while ago I wrote about a nice program I very much recommend to anyone serious about computer security: HashTab allows you to (easily!) calculate a check-sum of any file and compare it to the one provided by the developer (serious developers of security-related software often provide checksums).

Today I found this thread on superuser.com, devoted to just the same question and providing a good overview of all HashTab competitors.