Want a quick way to get to your desktop? Press and hold the Windows key (to the left of your spacebar) and then press the letter D. Your open programs and documents are automatically minimized and your desktop magically appears. ("Solitaire? No, I wasn't playing solitaire. I was just sitting here looking at my pretty desktop.") To maximize all of those recently minimized programs and documents [after your principal/students/children/ spouse leaves the room], just press the Windows key, the shift key, and the letter M at the same time.
VIDEO CONFERENCING FOR THE MASSES
The videophone was unveiled at the 1936 World's Fair. At some point you have to concede that nobody wants one. But for $129, Apple's iSight camera is worth exploring. Plug this elegant little tube into the Mac via FireWire and iChat A/V ($29) automatically boots; friends on your AIM buddy list or on your LAN via Rendezvous can be chatted with via video at 30 frames per second. The iSight automatically focuses and works without any need for configuration.
CLOSING THE LOOPHOLE
There is a security hole in newer versions of Windows-including Windows NT, 2000, XP home and professional, and 2003-so severe that Microsoft and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission both issued warnings about it. The hole is in something called the "Windows Messenger Service." This is a Windows tool that Microsoft itself says can be used by spammers to send you untraceable pop-up messages and by hackers to break into your PC and do all sorts of nasty things. Fortunately, turning off the Windows Messenger Service is a snap. Just go to grc.com/stm/ shootthemessenger.htm and then download and run Steve Gibson's free "Shoot the Messenger" program. The program lets you permanently disable the Window Messenger Service once and for all.
Apple's iPod is not just a classroom distraction. It could be an indispensable tool, too. In addition to playing your favorite music, Belkin has announced two useful peripherals. The $34.95 Voice Recorder allows you to record spoken notes directly into your iPod. These files are automatically synced with iTunes when you dock your iPod. The $99 Media Reader allows you to store digital photos. Plug your smart media card into the Media Reader and the photos are stored on the iPod. This allows you to take lots of photos on that class trip without bringing a computer along. When you get back to school, plug the iPod into your Mac and iPhoto will download the images.
Want to share a document with another person and ensure they can open it? OS X allows you to print to a PDF file. You can turn any document into an Acrobat (.pdf) file by clicking on the Save as PDF button in your print dialog box.
Microsoft Word has a nasty habit of automatically converting Web addresses into clickable links. Since most people don't browse the Web using Microsoft Word, you can permanently disable Word's autolink "feature" by going to Tools > Auto- Correct Options, clicking on the Auto-Format As You Type tab, and unchecking "Internet and network paths with hyperlinks." Click on the AutoFormat tab and uncheck "Internet and network paths with hyperlinks." Finally, click OK. Word's automatic hyperlinks are now as dead as Microsoft Bob. A quicker and less permanent way to disable the hyperlinks in a Word document is to select all the text in your document (Edit > Select All or Ctrl + A) and then press Ctrl + Shift + F9.
Bluetooth is coming of age and is built into the new Powerbooks. Bluetooth cell phones from Sony/Ericsson and Nokia let you synchronize your Mac calendars and contact books with your phone. However, the coolest application is the Salling Clicker (www.salling.com). This amazing $10 shareware tool turns your Bluetooth phone into a remote control for presentations or even using iTunes as a remote jukebox. Scripts for controlling Keynote and PowerPoint are included with this great tool.