Firstly, let me introduce myself, my name is Gary and I am an IT engineer. I recently joined the team at Amica after over 20 years in the business. I am looking forward to bringing my experience to the customers’ of Amica.
I thought as this is my first blog I would start with something light, something I hope everyone will both enjoy and find useful, so to that end may I present my top 5 most useful and interesting websites
Without a doubt, I have saved more money and frustration with this site than any other. Saynoto0870.com is a database of phone numbers with a difference. When faced with the choice of dialling a 0870, 0845, 0835, etc. number and being charged at 10, 20, 50p a minute to sit and listen to a rendition of green sleeves over and over that would put an ice cream van to shame then just pop over to saynoto870. Simply type in the number to be presented with a geographical equivalent, a number you will only be charged local rate for, a number that most likely won’t charge you on either you home phone or mobile. In addition to the cost advantage (a local rate number) saynoto0870 can often get you straight past the press 1 – press 2 – you are 400th in the queue and straight to the person you wish to speak too, give it a go and I’m sure you see how good it is.
Now this is something completely different. Archive.org does what it says on the tin. It’s an archive, but not just any archive it contains probably the largest collection of films, images, music, sound and the printed word in every possible walk of life. Ranging from the simple and innocuous home movies of a British family in the fifties to the strange and downright disturbing medical propaganda movies of the Nazi party during the thirties. I thoroughly recommend the Prelinger Archives if you like the curious and unusual particularly if you were not just aware how much curious and strange behaviour the last 100 years of history has gone through. It’s absolutely fascinating. In addition to this, it features over 8 million books, 2.7 million music files, 1.1 million images and much, much more. Now I can hear you saying “well that’s absolutely fascinating but how is it useful” well I’ll tell you, the majority of this vast treasure chest of media is royalty free which means you can use it for any publication, movie, ad, whatever you can think of with absolutely no charge. Some of the media does come with provisos and limitations but mostly these are basic and simple to adhere to; such as not using them to promote certain subjects but all media has a clearly published set of rules with them which 99% of the time is no rules at all. Give it a go even if you are not thinking of publishing because it really is a fascinating insight into the last 100 years of world history.
The Easter Egg archive contains absolutely no chocolate whatsoever. Instead, what it does feature is a collection of hidden things in the world around us; electronics equipment, software, cars, references in films, unknown facts and much more. The term Easter egg comes from the world of computer software. It refers to hidden features within the software. One of the best known is a version of a driving game hidden in outlook you can play (No I’m not telling you – look it up yourselves). Another is the video film credits of the developers at Microsoft who developed windows that can be found in most versions of the windows operating system (No! look it up). Or better still the ability to do race starts hidden in the software of BMWs (I drive a Land Rover – forget it). It is a lot of fun and somewhat useful. After all, who couldn’t get by knowing that in the movie The Dead Pool, one of the reporters in the pool scene fainted and can be seen being propped up by his fellow actors in several shots, I know I couldn’t!
Back to a more useful tip with tineye.com. Tineye is what’s known as a reverse image search. What that means is you load an image into it and it will search the internet for the same or similar images. This can be very useful. Images come our way from many sources now; news, Facebook, friends, emails even blogs like this one and that means more often than not, there is no information about the image. Now, say for instance you come across an image of interest – it may contain a product you like or a place you love the look of and want to visit etc… What Tineye does is search where else it is on the net. Nine times out of ten, the first result it brings up will be the owners/the shop where it is sold or the tourist information site for the resort you fell in love with. You can also use Tinyeye to check for copyright infringement on your own material if you suspect someone else is using an image belonging to your website to promote his or hers. Just load it in and it will find the site for you. Tineye also comes with a handy plugin for your browser. Simply right click an image to search from within the webpage so it could not be simpler. Give it a go!
Now I know what you are saying this time, “Google? – does he think we’re all daft, does he reckon we all came up on the down train” but I reckon you don’t know just how useful Google can be in many other ways, you’ll see. Firstly, Google makes a good spell checker; just type in the word with some resemblance of the actual word and google will complete it for you. Not only that, if you click on Googles suggestion you will get a thesaurus answer – so not only will people think you can spell but that you actually know how to use those big words! Secondly is time, I know nearly every device known to man now features a clock now but not many of them are synchronised to an accurate time source! Your mobile phone probably being the only one, as it takes it time from the network, which in turn is taken from a certified time source synced to a caesium clock. Everything else is potluck! However, if you type time into Google it will give you the precise time in your time zone. Great for setting clocks correctly or confirming the accuracy. Thirdly, did you know that Google can do maths? Just type the sum in the search box and Google will perform the equations for you. Of course, this is still only a small amount of what Google can do and if you search for Google tips, tricks, fun and hidden gems you will find many many more than I can list here.
I hope you have enjoyed my first blog and that you have found it both informative and entertaining. Of course, one of the main features of all the sites I have mentioned is the services are free and that is definitely appealing to everyone. I hope to get the opportunity to write many more blogs in the future for Amica and to meet more of our network of customers in person.
As always, if you run into trouble, Gary and our team of Techies are always ready to answer your call and assist you in any tech query you have so please do not hesitate to give them a call if you’re stuck 01425 600 066.