Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How I Got My Files, Links and Notes Organised, Centralised & Mobilised: As Easy As 1-2-3

After investigating a lot of different applications all around the place, I have settled on 3 lovely, useful, and mobile-able software applications (apps). These are the ones I decided on, but there are plenty to choose from so you may find one or two better ones.

There are vital pieces of information that I need to have access to, as well as add to, regardless of where I happen to be. Regardless of which computer I happen to be sitting at in our own network, or whether I am out on the road with my laptop, or whether I am using my netbook for morning pages or visioning, creative or ideas research in the Zen room, or whether I am on the road with only my mobile phone, I need access to important bits of information, such as files, lists, scribbles, notes, web bookmarks etc. (When I say Web Bookmarks I mean web site addresses, url's, or web links - all different terms for the same thing!)

With my new setup I can have just a single central copy of this sort of data on my:

1.      Desktop computers
2.      Laptop/notebook/netbook PC's
3.      Mobile phone (smart phone)

(for you technical people, I have listed the hardware and operating systems we are using in the footnote at the end of the post)

Now I don't have to worry about having duplicate copies of:

1.      Files
2.      Notes
3.      Web bookmarks

Here's how I do it:

I have found three lots of free software which are world class, reliable, tested, have thousands of users, and have a history of development so they are likely to be around for a while yet!

1.      DropBox - for sharing files anywhere
2.      EverNote - for storing notes, lists, scribbles, pictures, website pages, & more
3.      Diigo - for storing and keywording web addresses.


DropBox allows you to securely share files of any sort and of any size with your other computers, without having to copy them around and worry which one is the latest. You can also share a subset of files with other people, who may be in another office or halfway around the world. When you log in for the first time to DropBox you get 2GB of free storage space, you can upgrade for a small monthly fee to have more, but 2GB is a great start, plenty of room for a ton of docs, PDF's, spreadsheets etc.

A great usage of DropBox is to add PDF or other files that you need to read, so that you can sit and read them on your smartphone (with a good sized screen) while you are sitting in a waiting room ready for an appointment. Much more productive use of your time than the trashy magazines on the coffee table there!

When I travel out of the office and I need to access some of the files that the staff also need to use back in the office while I am away, I move those files into the DropBox folder on one of their machines (and then synchronise them) so that we can all edit those files and always have just one single copy of the latest. After I return from the trip they can be moved back into the standard server folder again.

Evernote is where I keep all my scribble notes when I am on the run. Far better than backs of envelopes, a gazillion sticky notes, and so on!

My personal preference for final storing of important notes is to move them into my OneNote notebooks, as that is my central master repository for all scribbles, research, tech tips, lists, ideas, musings, etc in my life.

However Evernote is a great place to put my grocery or office stationery shopping list, so I have it available with me when I go past a shop. You could also copy a recipe into Evernote, so you can open it up on your mobile phone in the supermarket to pick up the ingredients!

You can store numbers that you need in Evernote, such as reference numbers, bank accounts etc. Note that I do not store my passwords here in unencrypted form, for that I use a trustworthy SSL secured app called eWallet which is available for PC and mobile phones. I know Evernote is safe and secure but anytime that I have data stored on external servers on the web, not under my control I know there is always a risk of them being compromised.

What Evernote is great for is to write down ideas for writing when I am on the run, or art work inspiration that captures me while I am out, and so on. It is also great for web links with web info attached to them, or photos taken while out and about that need some sort of follow up action.

You can organise your notes into sections and subsets, and name them so they make sense. I have 3 essential main notebook folders:

1.    To Do (quick reminders of things to add to my Task List in my Outlook, which syncs with my mobile phone)
2.   To Buy (shopping lists groceries/homewares/pharmacy/office stationery - erase each item as it is bought)
3.   To Store (information that I know has a different final resting place, such as my LightRoom catalogue, or tips and information that needs to be moved into my OneNote)

I also keep an Inbox notebook that is the one to use when I am trying to very quickly enter a note on the run, and I don't want to think about filing at that point in time. I set that notebook as the default one, so that everything drops into it (you check the box when you first create the Inbox notebook).


Diigo (formerly furl) - pronounced "dee-go", is a "social bookmarking tool", however I ignore the social aspect of it and simply mark all my bookmarks as private. I just use it as a place online that I can store all my web site addresses that I find so that I can get them back at any time, anywhere, from any device. You can add keywords or "tags" to each address, and add your own comments into the box to remind yourself why you saved it, or what you might do with it later. You can also save image clips. I have downloaded the diigo tool for Android on the smartphone and have yet to test it thoroughly, however I know on my smartphone I can easily access the Diigo site through the internet browser.
There are other alternatives around. Del.icio.us is one of them, but Yahoo is threatening to either kill it off or sell it off, so it should be avoided. 

I love having my complete list of Favourites with me wherever I go, but the best part is I know I will always have my Favourites safe and sound if I ever upgrade my computer, or lose the hard drive without a recent backup (link!!!)

Evernote vs Diigo for Storing Links?

Note that you can save web bookmarks to Evernote, so it may be confusing whether to use Diigo or Evernote. Here is what I decided my policy was:
  • Save simple url's (web address links only) to Diigo.
  • If I need to trap the content of the page that I am on, or there is some urgent action I need to do with this website, then I save it to Evernote.  At the same time  I also save the link to Diigo because I want one central location for all addresses, so I have decided Diigo is it.
I decided not to use Evernote as my central storage for links because I wanted to avoid filling up Evernote with clips of web pages that I didn't need - for all those times when I only needed the link.

Here are the links for you to find out more:
  1. www.dropbox.com (This is a referral link so if you use it for your initial signup you will get an additional 250MB free storage space)
  2.  www.evernote.com 
  3. www.diigo.com
Have you already got a system for managing files, url's and notes? Tell me about it!

Have you found better apps than the ones I found? Let me know!

For you technical people who are curious, I have Windows 7 PC's in my home office, gallery and studio (Art at Heart), all networked together with both wireless networking as well as blue network cable (Windows workgroups). They are all hooked up to ADSL internet service from Telstra in Brisbane, Australia. Hubby and I have chosen the latest Samsung Galaxy S phones running the Android operating system, connected through the Telstra 3G mobile network. But these choices do not affect in any way the apps that I have decided to use - they can be used anywhere, on any devices - including Macs and iPhones.

Monday, February 7, 2011

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Friday, February 4, 2011

How to Make a Program Start up on Login

(this explains the steps for Windows XP but you will find it very similar in Windows 7)
  1. Go to Start button – Programs
  2. Expand the menu then Right-click on the Startup button
  3. Click Open from the pop-up menu that appears
  4. A normal Explorer window opens. You can drag and drop into here, any shortcuts to programs that you want to start as soon as you log in. Make sure you create a shortcut and not a copy of the original program or file!

To Control How a Program Starts:
  1. Right-click on the shortcut icon you have just added in.
  2. Click Properties from the pop-up menu
  3. In the box showing Run: Normal Window, choose from the pull-down list. The best one to use is Minimized. This will open up the program and leave it minimised at the bottom of the screen when you log in, so the desktop screen stays clear.
  4. Click OK to apply and close.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Using eTransmit in AutoCAD R2009 to bundle up drawings for sending out with external files all embedded


Is it possible to embed images (such as company logos in title blocks) into drawings before sending out to external companies? No - you must use the eTransmit command.


You can embed external references into the drawing using XREF BIND, but you can't do this for image files that have been inserted (jpg's etc).

The eTransmit command replaces the old Pack n Send command.


To use the Publish command in R2009, do the following:

1. Put all the drawings that need to go out into one folder.

2. In AutoCAD, create a sheet set of them: File - New Sheet Set ... and follow the prompts to collect all of the drawings into it. Save the sheet set as a .DST file in the same folder.

3. Still in AutoCAD, open just one of these drawings. The drawing must have already been saved. Don't have any other drawings in the set open.

4. File - Open Sheet Set. Open the .dst file from item 2 above.

5. Select all drawing files from the Sheet set manager. Right click in the middle of them, then choose eTransmit.


NOTE: It's a good idea to use the following settings (click Transmittal Setups then Modify the standard set or create your own new set):

- "Include fonts" and "All in one folder" both selected.

- Create a .ZIP file from the bundle of files.

eTransmit Settings.jpg

After completing the eTransmit, and checking the report file, it is a good idea to check to see if you can open the drawing.

Make sure that you close all the other original drawings in AutoCAD first so that you don't get confused about which one you are looking at.

To check the files, first you must extract the zip file to somewhere temporary on your computer.

Then open the files from the extracted set. Note that if you try and open it from inside a zip file, they won't show images correctly in AutoCAD. (AutoCAD is unable to open a zipped jpg file for example)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

AutoCAD Tip: How to fix blocks that are inserting at the wrong scale

(this tip is most suited to countries who are using metric measurements, for example where drawing units are usually mm)

AutoCAD inserts some of your blocks at one scale and some at another. They seem to be out by a factor of 25.4 - i.e. they are appearing about 25 times too small.

You may have even tried to change the settings in the UNITS command so that it shows millimetres instead of inches:

Command: UNITS


But this only fixes the problem in the current drawing, it looks like your AutoCAD was remembering the inches setting? If you have worked out this much you might be tired of changing this setting every time you come into a new drawing. There is an easier way, to fix it forever with one click!

There is a difference between imperial and metric settings, some of the blocks may have been defined as millimetres, or "Unitless", and your default settings for block insertion scale may be set to inches. This comes into effect when the scales in the blocks are "unitless - AutoCAD substitutes your default scale when it doesn't know what to use.

There is a setting that sets your AutoCAD insertion scale units on startup (for all those blocks that are defined as "unitless") :

Insertion Scale.jpg

Options Setting.jpg

My AutoCAD shows mm on both boxes. If yours is different (it may show Inches), try changing them both to mm and test it again. This should fix it.



  1. Those two buttons are controlled by the system variables INSUNITSDEFSOURCE & INSUNITSDEFTARGET
  2. The system variables INSUNITSDEFSOURCE & INSUNITSDEFTARGET are stored in the Registry, which means that they hang around for every session of AutoCAD and every drawing you open.
  3. The INSUNITS system variable is the one displayed in the Insertion Scale box in the INSERT block dialog box. INSUNITS are stored in each drawing (block definition) file

SysVars1.jpg         SysVars2.jpg

Saturday, November 20, 2010

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AutoCAD Tip: License Transfers in Release 2010 and upwards

The License Transfer Utility is used if you have a standalone installation of AutoCAD and you need to change machines at any time. It also applies to the multi-seat standalone licenses

In R2009 and before, there was a PLU program that you ran from the start menu (under the AutoCAD 2009 section).

I’ve now found out all the grimy details about the new AutoCAD 2010 license transfer utility - it works very differently from the old PLU.

If you want to waste 15 minutes you can watch all about it from Autodesk on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGoslbHh9n8 but otherwise here’s an executive summary:

R2010 license agreement means you should be able to activate TWO copies of the software (e.g. for your desktop and notebook) under the one purchase. This means you would activate each program after you install each one.

If that works, you can forget all about silly license transfer utilities and you won’t have to read any of the items 1-9 below!
Autodesk License Utility--w6.jpg

1.   R2010 uses an Online license transfer 
2.   It’s called LTU instead of PLU and you still run it from the start menu after closing down your AutoCAD
3.   You have to have an internet connection to do it. It transfers the license up to the Autodesk servers, where they will apparently stay for an unlimited time. Then you can go to another machine and import the license back into the second AutoCAD.
4.   You must go between the exact same product (e.g. AutoCAD 2010) and the same serial number.
5.   You don’t have to remember any silly long machine numbers like before
6.   The LTU asks you to log in to Autodesk so you need to get an Autodesk login and remember it
7.   There is a Public and Private option, just go with the default. Private just means you have to use the same Autodesk login to import it back in. Both options still mean the same product & serial number has to be on both machines.
8.   If you choose private, it will only stay private on the Autodesk servers for 14 days, then it will switch to Public.
9.  If you want to block the option of transferring licenses (for example in a corporate site) then you can uncheck the options for installing the LTU on the initial installation, or later when you modify the installation in the Control Panel under Add/Remove programs for AutoCAD

That’s pretty much it!

(c)2010 CAD Source International