First let me start by offering my congratulatory birthday wishes to the “Between The Lines” blog by Shaan Hurley.  Seeing that most blogs die within a matter of months, reaching the 5-year mark is a monumental achievement.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.  Since switching to Windows Vista in January of this year, I really have found the OS to be rather enjoyable.  One thing I especially like is the Windows Search integration into the Start menu.  Rather than browsing through all of my installed programs, I just type “Word” to launch Microsoft Word.

Microsoft Natural Language Search

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Another especially helpful feature is Microsoft’s Natural Language Search.  Using it, I can perform a search like “e-mail sent directly to me”, and it will find just that – e-mail which was sent directly to me.  As cool as this feature is, Microsoft in their infinite wisdom has this feature disabled.  Thankfully however, it’s really simple to enable.

  1. Open Windows Explorer (Start > Computer)
  2. Go to Tools > Folder Options (you’ll probably need to press the Alt key to show the Tools menu.
  3. Click on the “Search” tab, and check the “Use natural language search” within the “How to search group”

And that’s it.  Keep in mind that (to my knowledge at least) this is only available in Windows Vista.

pptPlex – Powerpoint 2007 Plug-in

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Released last Wednesday I happened upon this nifty plug-in for PowerPoint 2007.  It was inspired by the TouchWall demonstration by Bill Gates at the Microsoft CEO Summit 2008.  In Microsoft’s own words:

pptPlex is a research prototype developed by Microsoft Office Labs as an exploration of an alternative method of presenting Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 slides. This plug-in allows you to arrange slides on a canvas then zoom between the slides during the presentation. You can move around the canvas and show groups of slides, individual slides, or even zoom in to show a particular section of a slide.

I had the chance to use pptPlex during a presentation I made on Monday, and I must say my first impressions were positive.

Learn More and Download pptPlex

Email Prioritizer – Outlook 2007 Plug-in

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This nifty MS Outlook 2007 plug-in helps you manage email overload.  In short the utility does two things; assigns a star rating to each e-mail you recieve, and allows you to turn off e-mail for some period of time. In Microsoft’s own words:

Email Prioritizer is an add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 that helps you manage email overload. It provides a “do not disturb” button that temporarily pauses new email arrival, and it prioritizes email to help you focus on the email messages that are most important to you.

Learn More and Download Email Priortizer