Paste text without formatting

When copying rich-text from a web page, Word document, e-mail, or other program the formatting of that text will remain with that copied text. For example, if you were to copy this paragraph of text, “This is bold” would remain bold when pasted into Word or another document that supports rich-text. Although programs like Microsoft Word include a Paste Special feature, anyone who does this frequently can find having a universal shortcut key that works everywhere beneficial.

This is where the fantastic free tool PureText can make your life easier. This tool runs in the background and can paste plain text into any program using the same shortcut key you choose, by default Windows key + V is used. PureText is capable of removing font faces, font styles (i.e. bold, italic, etc.), font colors, paragraph styles, extra spacing, bullets, tables, and pictures from any text you copy.

Bonus Tip: In most versions of Windows Ctrl + Windows Key + V also pastes text as plain text.

Quickly find all your missing MP3 album covers

As you move your MP3 files around you may encounter lost or deleted album art covers. Thankfully there is a fantastic free utility to quickly find and download album art for pretty much every CD ever created. The program works by looking at millions of album art covers from dozens of different locations, and lets you choose what album cover to save to your computer. To use this program follow the steps below.

  1. Download Album Art Downloader.
  2. Once downloaded and installed open the program. You can either search for the artists name or album to find a specific album cover by typing the name in the text box and clicking search. Once found click the picture of the floppy disk to save the file to your computer.
  3. If you want to scan your MP3 collection for any missed MP3 art click File and then File Browser. In the File Browser browse to your MP3 folder or if you’re using the default directory in Windows the “My Music” folder in the “My Documents” by clicking the “…” box at the end of the text box.
  4. Once you’ve browsed to your MP3 directory click the Search button. Select folders not containing folder.jpg by clicking the “Select all albums with missing artwork” link at the bottom of the box and then click “Get Artwork for Selection…”

10 ways to use an iPad in the classroom

With technology playing a significant role in the field of K-12 education, it is important that we consider it’s values.  The iPad is an example of new classroom technology and we will look at some of the iPad’s wide ranging applications.  Here are ten of the most popular.

  1. The key with the iPad is applications, or apps. According to Apple, there are in excess of 65000 different educational applications designed exclusively for the iPad. (1)
  2. The simplest use of the technology is as an e-book reader.  The selection of educational texts, for all stages is comprehensive and increasing constantly.
  3. Internet research tool. – The advent of Wi Fi has allowed the internet to proliferate throughout schools so the need to cram into a IT unit is no longer necessary.  The iPad can be used anywhere.
  4. Presentations are a fundamental part of education and the iPad negates the need for copious amounts of notes and drawings as they can be collated and presented directly from the tablet onto the big screen for the whole class to experience.
  5. School magazines and blogs can be made readily available using iPad allowing all students access to important information or simply keep up and coming social events.
  6. The iPad works as a powerful note taking device. With touch keyboard access and intuitive typing applications, it can be used outside the classroom on field trips, allowing the student to produce original work developed from the trip before completing the piece back in the classroom.  Using the iPad to capture photographs or video is common place.
  7. Music – Educational music applications are coming on stream continuously allowing students to interact dynamically with the iPad and get to grips with the fundamentals of music creation.
  8. Due to the ability to design tailor made applications, it is possible to create lesson plans and content for any niche subject, expanding the iPads usefulness into every classroom scenario.
  9. With the comparative ease of charging iPads within the school environment, it is possible to load a full days lesson plan without the need to return to a given location on a regular basis, enhancing flexibility.
  10. iPad allows lessons to become interactive, enhancing the experience for students and taking learning to another level.

Above is a small range of the uses iPad has in the classroom and there are many more educational applications coming on stream regularly, further enhancing iPads growing reputation as an educational tool.

Dell’s Context Aware Security Report: Key Findings

Data security can make or break a business. Cyberattacks and security breaches have the potential to wreak havoc, damaging an organization’s reputation and affecting the bottom line. With so much at stake, it’s never been more important to take steps to secure company and customer data.

The recent Context Aware Security Report by Dell and Dimensional Research highlighted the importance of balancing the need to secure corporate systems and maintain employee productivity. The report surveyed 460 IT professionals and over three hundred business users in an attempt to examine the impact of company security measures on employees, drawing attention to the apparent value of ‘context-aware’ security.

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Dell’s promotion of context aware security stems from the observation that overly restrictive policies can harm staff morale and even, with employees finding workarounds to avoid IT-imposed measures, counter-productive.  To prevent such scenarios from occurring, Dell’s analytics engine is designed to adapt to the context of user access, with access varying according to the level of risk, based on factors such as time, location and network.

The survey’s findings painted a detailed picture of office security practices in 2015. Since the participants were employees at companies in either the US, UK and Germany, the results provide an interesting basis for international comparison of how security impacts productivity, the use of cloud and multi-cloud, and BYOD policies.

Access measures, for example, appear to be particularly problematic. The survey found that 85% of users had more than one password or login, and that 91% felt they were negatively impacted by their employer’s approach. There was also a widespread sentiment, shared by 87% of employees, that security was prioritized over productivity.

Cloud computing and BYOD are changing office workflows. On the one hand, 77% of those surveyed said they believed that cloud-based applications have the potential to increase employee productivity. And yet, on the other, almost three-quarters of respondents suggested that security challenges were getting in the way of wider adoption, with 53% saying that it was difficult to address changing security needs.

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Discussing the report’s findings, John Milburn, Executive Director and GM at Dell Security, said: “IT thinks it has only two options for security – turn the dial to 1 (open) or 11 (super secure). Context-aware security gives IT the ability to adjust the dial in real-time, giving users the convenience they desire without resorting to risky workarounds, and giving the security team the confidence they need to keep the organization both safe and productive.”

Compress and uncompress files online

Compress and uncompress computer files through your Internet browser using services such as WobZIP and ezyZip.

WobZIP is a great free online tool for uploading a compressed file (e.g. .ZIP, .RAR, .CAB, .ISO, and others) to their server and getting the extracted files. The service also supports converting one compressed file format into another compressed format. Visit the WobZIP page to start uncompressing files.

EzyZip is an online tool that uses a Java applet to compress any files into a .ZIP file and uncompress any files in a .ZIP file. Visit the EzyZip web page to start compressing and uncompressing files now or bookmark the page for later.

The Model Workspace: Future-Proof Your Technology

There’s more to an IT manager’s job than just operations and delivery. It’s becoming ever more important to develop an operating model that minimizes risk, whether through sourcing the best talent, investing in the right software or working towards solutions capable of supporting a given future state. As well as such pressures IT managers have to account for less stable variables, predicting the impact of trends in hardware, software and security. In such an ever-shifting environment, it’s vital that CIOs and IT managers can minimize risk and exploit efficiencies. Here at Kensington we believe that security and asset management are key to this. Here are our 5 key principles for future-proofing your workspace.

1. Have a clear investment strategy

When it comes to taking initiatives regarding project objectives, resources and finances, IT managers are at the coalface; and an understanding of hardware and software assets is a key tool which can extract value and ensure successful delivery. Managing a device fleet or an entire IT portfolio is complex and decision-makers must have a clear and comprehensive vision.

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2. Build in flexibility

In a competitive marketplace, technology can give organizations a comparative advantage over their rivals. IT managers are constantly having to evaluate the strength and durability of emerging technologies, which means that knowing when to stick and when to twist is all the more important. Building in flexibility, however, can sustain the life of assets and limit the need to divest. For example, with cloud computing and multi-device workflows allowing for real increases in productivity, hardware assets such as Docking Stations are becoming more and more important as companies seek to join up new and existing technology.

3.Invest in talent

An IT manager’s portfolio comprises more than just hardware and software. Talent is scarce and competition for the best people is inevitable. Intelligent staffing can ensure your organization has the skill, knowledge and initiative to adapt to changing circumstances and deliver on strategic priorities. Together with targeted recruitment, CPD and training ensure staff acquire the skills and capabilities the business needs.

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4. Pick winners

Given the highly competitive and precarious nature of emerging technologies, it’s very difficult for IT managers and CIOs to know when and where to invest. In such circumstances, knowledge is key. Organizations need to identify and evaluate the risks in their own portfolio, as well as considering any threats to key partners and providers. This information enables decision-makers to stay ahead in a changing landscape.

5. Know the value of your assets

The strategic value of your assets – hardware or software – changes with time. Consequently, CIOs and IT managers need to understand the strategic importance of every item on your organization’s inventory of technology assets, making this information accessible to other parts of the business. By communicating opportunities for investment or divestment, IT departments contribute significantly to the successful operation of programs and projects, on a day-to-day basis and in the

Create a mosaic out of any image

Create a mosaic image out of any of your pictures from your own collection of images using AndreaMosaic. In the picture below, is an example of The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh that is created using dozens of other images and is an example of what this program is cable of doing. This is a free program and is available for all versions of Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

Mosaic example picture

How to use this program

  1. Download the program from AndreaMosaic.
  2. After the program has been installed on your computer you’ll be prompted for the type of mosaic you want to create, select Square Tiles (1:1) for your first trial mosaic.
  3. Under the Main Image to reproduce as a Mosaic, click the + image button to add the main image.
  4. Change any of the settings you want to change. If you’re not sure what the setting means, hover your mouse over the title to get a quick description.
  5. Click the Title Images button at the bottom of the window and browse to the folder that stores all your photos. For example, if you’re a Microsoft Windows user most of your images are probably stored in the My Pictures folder.
  6. Finally, click the Create Mosaic button to create the mosaic image. Depending on the speed of your computer and settings you chose determine the length of time it takes to create the mosaic. Often it can take several minutes to create a mosaic.

Windows 10 Product Release: The Microsoft Surface Pro 4

This week saw the launch of two new Windows 10 devices, the much-anticipated Surface Pro 4 and the all new Surface Book. Together, Microsoft argues, the two devices effectively remove the longstanding trade-off between productivity and versatility, so there’s no longer any need to choose between a laptop and a tablet. With the Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book, you’ll be able to run all your apps, perform processor intensive tasks and stay productive wherever you happen to be. The appeal and commercial viability of this type of hybrid device has already been demonstrated this year with Apple’s launch of the iPad Pro and Google’s new Pixel C. So let’s take a look at how the latest addition to the Surface Pro range stacks up against the competition.

Hardware and Specifications

The Surface Pro 4 may look familiar, but a closer look reveals a raft of new features. Microsoft have been able to make improvements across the device, from increased storage and processing power to an upgraded Type Cover, camera and Surface Pen. One feature that has been grabbing the headlines, however, is the way Microsoft has been able to increase the screen size to 12.3” without increasing the device’s overall footprint. Importantly for users with existing Surface devices, the improved Type Cover and Surface Pen are also compatible with earlier models.

The thinner, lighter Surface Pro 4 is available with a powerful 6th-generation Skylake Intel Core M3 processor, as well as Core i5 and i7 models. At the launch Microsoft confidently said that the new Surface Pro 4 is up to 50 percent faster than Apple’s MacBook Air, a claim that could give competitors some serious food for thought. Where the Surface Pro 4 really stands out from the competition, though, is connectivity, with Microsoft finding space for a full-size USB 3.0 port, microSD card reader, Mini DisplayPort and headset jack. Shipped with Windows 10, the new Surface Pro 4 also offers productivity-enhancing features such as Virtual Desktops, the Cortana personal assistant and a consolidated app store designed with the needs of IT managers in mind.

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Image by Microsoft

Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Accessories

One area where earlier Surface models arguably fell short of Microsoft’s ambitions was the Type Cover and touchpad, which never really offered an experience equivalent to high-end laptops or ultrabooks. Microsoft have made significant improvements with the Surface Pro 4, with increased spacing between the keys, improved travel and a larger glass trackpad. And, for added security, some Type Cover models come with a fingerprint sensor – this is in addition to facial recognition software on the Pro 4 itself. The latest version of the Surface Pen is now magnetized and syncs with Cortana, as well as having 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity and a handy eraser.

Microsoft said it made the device as thin as it possibly could do without having to drop the USB 3.0 ports. Business users after productivity will certainly be happy that Microsoft didn’t compromise performance and flexibility. At Kensington, we already offer a range of Windows 10 compatible accessories for the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, such as 4K video adapters, docking stations and Windows 10 input devices. With more and more companies making the move to Windows 10, the new devices look set to become an increasingly common feature of the workplace in 2016. Stay up to date with the latest product offerings from Kensington by signing up for real time alerts and ensure you are fully equipped to make the most out of this new model.

Security Locks: Beyond the IT Department

Kensington is synonymous with the laptop and PC security lock. Since the first laptop integrated a Kensington security slot in the early 1990’s, people have been able to depend upon the  reliability of our locking solutions.  Since then organizations have learnt that well implemented security policies are shown to cut theft by 85% and this is true across all areas of life, not just in the technology industry.  As we move further and further into a world where people are working across multiple devices and subsequently storing this work in the cloud, it’s as important as ever to not bypass the initial security steps when setting up your work space, both physically and virtually.

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Although people may immediately associate Kensington locks with securing a computer or laptop, they do in fact go much further than this and are used across a multitude of industries to protect and secure valuable possessions and data. Businesses across the globe will have meeting rooms decked out in technology which supports conferences and presentations, an area which often overlooked when it comes to security measures. The Jabra Speak 810 is an example of a conference call speakerphone compatible with a Kensington Microsaver® DS Keyed Lock, designed specifically for ultimate defence of thin devices whilst still boasting a 6×6 carbon strengthened steel cable. Complete with a 1.5m log cable length, this can easily be stored neatly out of the way, whilst still providing a nearly impenetrable locking mechanism. For companies who have invested in technology to enhance their own performance and productivity, it is a natural final step to ensure that this is secure when left unattended.

Stepping away from the office environment entirely, music equipment is perhaps a lesser known genre compatible with Kensington locks. Roland drum accessories such as the SPD-30 Octapad and RT-10K Acoustic Drum Triggers are built with a Kensington security lock point for theft-proof merchandizing – something which is highly valuable in an industry where the kit is likely to be left in a studio overnight or for lengthy periods of time. Be sure to check the specifications or device manual to see whether it includes a Kensington compatible lock slot – chances are that more assets will than most people realise.

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Kensington’s Register & Retrieve Lock Management Portal offers another dimension of security, ensuring any purchased lock is registered to the individual or company that it belongs. For business and offices with multiple staff, this affords specific individuals the power to manage their lock programs and provides a single portal for the administration of all locks. They then have the opportunity to register each lock in the building individually if they so wish, or to specific groups and teams. For an individual, this allows them to order replacement keys or retrieve stored combination codes should they find themselves in a position where this is necessary.

Although an office or desk space may be the assumed criteria for these Kensington locks, thinking beyond this may afford you a level of security in your home life that you hadn’t even considered. As an engineer or designer, when working to provide customers with the best option for physical security of their equipment it’s worth considering whether the Kensington security slot would fit within your hardware. Having been the industry standard since 1990, the majority of IT devices, accessories and equipment will offer the Kensington Security Slot, adding value to the product itself by providing consumers with a built in security solution. Learn more about how to build this feature into your own hardware.

How to Easily Solder Wires to SMT LEDs

The Problem
There are a lot of cool applications where you need to embed small surface mount LEDs into things like clothing, jewelry, etc. In order to do so, you need an easy way to solder small magnet wire to the tiny LEDs. There have been other attempts at making this an easy process, but I have found nothing as simple, quick and easy as this new method.

The Solution – Duct Tape
The process is basically simple. We need to hold an SMT LED upside down so we can hand solder wires to it. The best way to hold the LED is to attach it to a piece of duct tape. Magnet wire (30 guage) is probably the best size for most applications. If you use two colors – one red, the other green, you can show the polarity of the LED during final assembly. If you don’t use two colors, you will need some other way to mark the polarity.

Here are the steps:

Step 1:
Use masking tape to mount a square of duct tape upside-down (sticky side up) to a flat surface.

Step 2:
Set your LED upside-down on the duct tape and press to make sure it is firmly attached. To save time, you can mount several LEDs in one big column. Make sure each LED is facing the right way polarity-wise. The polarity is shown in the photo above.

Step 3:
Pre-tin your magnet wire ends. This is the most time consuming step. A solder pot would make it go much faster.

Step 4:
Add a small solder bead to each pad of the LEDs. Just a small dab is all that is needed.

Step 5:
Hold the magnet wire on the LED pad and heat with soldering iron. When the solder melts, remove the iron. Hold the wire steady until the solder solidifies. If you use a lighted magnifier to see better, this step is amazingly fast and easy, provided you have a steady hand.

All Done
When done soldering, the LED lifts easily from the tape and is ready to embed in your project. Don’t forget to use current limiting resistor on your PCB or elsewhere for attaching the LEDs to.