Problem-Solving Sites: Convert Files, Find Deals
These immensely useful Web sites let you convert files to almost any format and get remote tech support.
Recently I wanted to order something that would include a company logo imprinted on the side. I had no trouble creating the logo, but the company wanted it in EPS format--something that few programs outside of Adobe Photoshop can create. (Freeware favorite Paint.NET can't do it; neither can GIMP.)
Fortunately, I found online-ConVert.com, a free site that can convert any image file to just about any format you need (including, thankfully, EPS).
All you do is select your file, choose any extra settings you may want (like Sharpen or Convert to Monochrome), and then click "Convert file." In just a few moments, the site uploads your file, converts it, and gives you a download that's ready to save to your hard drive. You can also enter an e-mail address if you want to share the converted file with someone else or retrieve it later--but that's optional.
The site handles more than just images: it can convert audio files, documents, e-books, and videos. It also has a "hash converter" that will turn any snippet of text into an encrypted hash of your choice.
This is a great little tool, one I highly recommend bookmarking.
Find Cheap Storage at Gb4less
Need a new hard drive? For heaven's sake, don't pay retail! The same holds true for flash drives, desktop RAM, SSD modules, and other forms of storage. Unless you're in a huge hurry and need it right away, you're always better off buying online than in a brick-and-mortar store.
Ah, but where can you find the best deals? Start at Gb4less, a shopping site that aims to give you the lowest prices on digital storage.
The site has six product categories, everything from internal hard drives to memory cards. Within each category, products are sorted based on price per gigabyte and filtered based on ratings. By default, Gb4less shows you only those items that have at least 30 customer ratings and an average score of four out of five. But you can remove or alter those filters and change the way products are sorted.
You may want to do just that. For example, I went looking for a 16GB USB drive, knowing full well that Newegg had a couple in the $24 range. But Gb4less was showing me only drives starting at $28--until I removed the filters. I'm not saying the site isn't not valuable--it is--just that it may prevent you from seeing the absolute lowest prices.
If you don't mind fiddling a bit, Gb4less is a great place to start your digital-storage shopping.
Get Remote Tech Support from Your GeekBuddy
Ever wish there was a magical computer genie that could help you install software, set up printers, remove viruses, and solve everyday problems?
Forget genies--what you need is a tech-savvy buddy, someone who can remotely connect to your PC for all your help and troubleshooting needs. In my family, that person is me. Everyone else should check out Comodo's GeekBuddy, a new service that offers live, real-time help from a support technician--seven days a week.
GeekBuddy offers virus diagnosis and removal, PC tune-ups, software and printer setup, printer and PC troubleshooting, ID-theft protection, and even help setting up e-mail accounts.
All support sessions are chat-based, which I think is highly preferable to getting on the phone with someone who might be hard to understand (or hard of understanding). Chat may be slower overall, but ultimately I find it more productive. The only wrinkle, of course, is if you're having a problem with your Internet connection, or the virus/malware you need to have eradicated somehow blocks the chat session. Both would prevent your "buddy" from establishing contact.
Still, GeekBuddy sounds like a winning proposition to me, especially for those users who don't have a friend or family member they can call on for help. The service costs $50 per year, which to my thinking is very reasonable, and you can try it free for 60 days (a pretty amazing trial period, IMHO).
If you've got a hassle that needs solving, send it my way. I can't promise a response, but I'll definitely read every e-mail I get--and do my best to address at least some of them in the PCWorld Hassle-Free PC blog . My 411: email@example.com . You can also sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.