Saturday, November 27, 2010

Undelete! Undelete!- Recuva!

Okay, I only learned about Recuva because I deleted some seriously important files from a USB drive. But, I'm glad I know about Recuva.

Recuva is Windows freeware, but I understand it can work on Ubuntu through WINE. With Recuva, you can "undelete" files from your external memory widgets like an mp3 player or USB or other memory card. According to their website, you can also permanently delete files using Recuva.

My experience:
I used Recuva to recover files that were accidentally deleted on a USB drive. Downloading and installing Recuva software is easy. (You can also download a portable version so you can have it with you wherever you go.) I had no need to use Recuva's documentation in order to get to work on undeleting my files. You simply select the drive you would like Recuva to scan and recover. After the scan is performed, Recuva displays a list of the files found. There were a lot. This thing recovered probably everything ever put on the USB drive (in my case over 1000 files). Some files no longer had the correct file names, but had numbers assigned to them instead. The actual organization that the files existed under was gone. For instance, if you have your files in folders, Recuva isn't going to recover the same organization scheme... no folders, just the files. That's really all that matters anyway. From this list I selected the files I wanted recovered. Then, I choose to recover them. At this point Recuva prompted me to select a location to save the recovered files. From there, Recuva recovered the files! Now the real work comes to go through it all, organize them and find out what is needed, and what isn't. Unfortunately, no computer program can do this... yet.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Manage Computer Time with a Timer

I recently downloaded Cool Timer (free) to help control the time my family spends on the computer. It's all to easy to sit down to a task and end up getting distracted with news, email, games or whatever and find that the original task took a whole lot longer and anticipated to complete.

Cool Timer is a simple, straight-forward timer that even my kids can use. I have them set it before they start on the computer. It is understood that when the "fog horn" (my son's favorite alarm sound) goes off, time's up. One less thing I have to keep track of.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Good to Know: Zamzar Converts Files


I had the need to convert a Microsoft Publisher file to something else so I could actually view it. Note to self: If you can use something other than Publisher to create a file, do it!

Enter Zamzar.com. Zamzar is a very helpful free service that allows you to convert a wide variety of files to any one of another wide variety of files. The site is very straight forward and easy to use with no need to set up an account. Wahoo! All you do is select the file you wish to convert, and select the type of file you'd like it to be converted to, type in your email address, and click "convert." Within minutes you will receive an email from Zamzar which contains a link to your converted file. From there, you download the file for keeps.

I first converted my Publisher file to MS Word. The conversion went quite well. The only thing different was the font. No biggie. Since Word and OpenOffice are "compatible," I tried opening this new Word file in OpenOffice Writer. Yuck. It was an indistinguishable mess. So, I used Zamzar to convert my original Publisher file to OpenOffice Writer (.odt). It did a great job. The converted Word file and the converted Writer file looked identical.

Zamzar also offers image, video, music, and e-book conversions...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bagels!

Last year I tried to make bagels. I used this recipe from allrecipes.com. Given the couple hundred quite positive reviews, I figured I could whip these out with no problem. Afterall, bagels are just a form of bread and I've been making bread for over 10 years.

Sadly, I did not succeed with this recipe. I tried making it again 4-5 times before I gave up and just tried to accept the fact that I couldn't conquer bagels. The problem was, my bagels turned out flat and doughy. It was irritating because some, of the same batch, would turn out not as doughy as others. I had no idea what was going on, but I blamed it on high altitude since I live at over 5000 feet.

Well, this year I tried again. But not without thinking very hard about what I was going to try different. The basic method to make bagels is to mix the dough, let it rise, form into bagels, let rise, broil, boil and then bake. Somewhere in this process my risen bagels would fall (that's why they turned out flat and doughy). I figured it had to do with the broiling since I noticed that they often started to go flat when I moved the broiled bagels into to boiling water. Previously, I had broiled them too far away from the heat. I also hadn't really given the oven a chance to heat up before I broiled the bagels. And last, the recipe I used said to broil them on an ungreased baking sheet. When I tried that, the bagels stuck to the pan, making them hard to turn turn over to broil the other side. And too much handling will make a risen bagel fall.

So, for success with the bagel recipe, I formed the bagels by taking a bit of dough, and forming a ball. Then I just poked a whole in it and tried to make it look pretty. I set them to rise on a greased pan. Like so:


Once risen (about30 mins), I set my oven on broil and allowed 5 mins for it to heat up. I placed my bagels on the highest rack about 5 inches under the heat. Broiled them for 1.5-2 mins on each side. It's the consistency that's important here. I found that the you need a good, toasted bagel. If it's too soft, it'll fall. And obviously you have to watch this part because it wouldn't be nice to burn them this early in the game!


Next, Boiling. After broiling in the oven, it's time to boil in some water. I did as the recipe suggested here. I boiled them in a big pan of water with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (you can do white sugar or honey too) for 6-7 mins on each side.



After boiling, I transferred the bagels to a wire rack with a towel under it to drain off excess water. After draining, I transferred the bagels to a greased pan and cooked them for 20 mins. at 375 degrees. And the finished product:



Yeah, I know, pretty exhaustive process... but they are good and It's kinda fun to know how to do.

One other tip: I didn't make my bagels plain. Mine are cinnamon. I waited to add a tablespoon of cinnamon and reserved about 2 teaspoons of the sugar called for in the recipe until the dough was all mixed. Adding the the cinnamon last gives it a swirled look (which I prefer)... if I'd have added it first, I would have given the bagels a brown look... but I'm sure would have tasted just as good.