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Helpware: Sit back and compute
[February 27, 2013]

Helpware: Sit back and compute

Feb 27, 2013 (McClatchy-Tribune News Service - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) -- If you hanker for more free time, and want someone else to do the heavy lifting, you might be interested in a program that launches other programs at a time and date you need to run them. Not only will Advanced Task Scheduler automate life's bothersome chores, it will do it with grace, aplomb and a certain elegance not usually found in utilities for the Windows operating system.

That said, you will have to do some of your own heavy lifting and call upon your nerdy half to perfect its commands and truly understand how this powerful program works. I have a nerdy half, but I don't much like to do a lot of work to get a program to run as advertised. If you are like me, just as you will never ask for directions when you're lost, you view help files as the work of the devil.

Still, the devil is in the details. If you pay close attention to Advanced Task Scheduler's help files, you will learn how to automate running programs, reboot your system at certain times of the day, copy and delete files, and do those tasks once or many times. There also are functions best left to programmers and others for whom automated tasks are essential. You can use the program to upload and download files at specific times and run applications when you boot up.

It's an impressive and powerful application, but I don't think it's for people who are casual PC users. It's for experienced software junkies and IT professionals.

Don't you just love the phrase "IT professionals" In truth, except for the geniuses who majored in computer science at MIT, most IT professionals I've worked with are either hardware people ("it's a software problem") or software people ("it's a hardware problem"). Through the years, and there have been many years, I've tried to learn how to troubleshoot problems, hardware or software, thus denying the company techies the chance to run their familiar refrain.

Bottom line on Advanced Task Scheduler I was not able to get Firefox to launch at a specific time without serious hand-holding from a help file. I could not figure out the command line, and once I found it, I couldn't get it to work. At that point, I decided that it was quicker to pin Firefox's icon to the task bar and call it up at will.

So much for letting someone else do the heavy lifting.

A trial version of Advanced Task Scheduler can be downloaded at Registered versions start at $40.

TIP OF THE WEEK: Some new PCs are coming pre-loaded with Microsoft Office Starter Edition, which includes watered-down versions of Word and Excel. For most users, those versions will serve just fine. The programs flash ads off to the right side of the screen, but otherwise they function pretty much like their expensive cousins. On a new Dell PC, you can find the Starter Edition by clicking on the "Start" button, choosing "All Programs" and scrolling down to "Microsoft Office Starter." --- (C)2013 McClatchy-Tribune Information Services Distributed by MCT Information Services

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