The Best Free Service You’ve Never Used

Zoho isn’t so much a replacement for Microsoft Word as an additional source of fun and useful tools.

You may have heard of, but probably don’t use, an online suite of office and productivity applications called Zoho.

I know, I know another Web 2.0 wonder application. I mean, what’s the point? You’ve already taken out a loan and purchased Microsoft Office. Or your company bought a license. Plus, you’ve invested your entire career learning Office. Why dump all that and start over with something you neither know nor trust?

Besides, if you’re going to embrace an online office suite, you’ll go with a major brand like Google Apps, right?

I’m not here to convince you to use Zoho as a replacement for Microsoft Office. I want to convince you to try Zoho goodies a la cart. Zoho is packed with so much innovation and surprising coolness, that I’m certain you’ll find a better way to do at least some small thing you’re already doing. For example:

Better blog posting — Zoho offers a shockingly feature-rich word processor application, which you can use to create blog posts, then upload them directly. It can simply replace the post-creation tool for Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal, TypePad and others that support the metaWeblog and Blogger APIs.

Better list management — Zoho’s Planner application is faster and easier to manage.

Better Web page creation — if you’re not a Web developer, but need a quick-and-dirty page, most of the Zoho applications let you “save as” a browser-readable page.

Better online collaboration — Zoho, like Google Apps and many other alternatives, give you a Microsoft Word-like application that lets you grant permissions for others to work on the document, too. However, Zoho also gives you a Wiki tool, which is like document collaboration on steroids. Like the Wikipedia, you’re given rich tools for multiple authorship and editorship of any document, with full formatting.

Better brainstorming and note-taking — Zoho Notebook enables the creation of pages where you can do just about anything — embed words, images, audio clips, video, live Web pages, URLs, RSS feeds and documents created by other Zoho applications, and just drag and drop them around on the page. Then you can share, publish or export them into what Zoho calls a “book” or into a Web page. Its the ultimate online napkin or back of the envelope for capturing ideas.

Better iPhone app viewing iZoho is the version for iPhone. You can use it to access and read Zoho applications from your iPhone.

Better PowerPoint — By simply importing your PowerPoint presentations into the free Zoho Show application, you’ll be able to easily present from anybody’s computer. You should be backing up your presentation online anyway why not back up to a site that will play it, too? If you find yourself in a restaurant and want to make your pitch, you can use the mobile version ( or and run the presentation from your iPhone!

Better Web site gadgets — Zoho’s Show presentation application gives you a “Public Gadget” feature, which gives you insertable code that auto-runs your presentation from your Web site as a gadget or widget.

Better PDF Creation — Most of the major Zoho applications, including Zoho Writer, save in PDF format. So if you don’t have a PDF creator installed on your PC, you can just import your document into Zoho, then export it into PDF.

Better project management Most small projects are managed without professional grade project management tools. Thats because real project management software is expensive and complicated. Zoho offers a free and simplified version that gives you much of the power of major league applications, but without hitting your wallet or crushing you with a learning curve.

I could go on and on with such examples. The takeaway here is that Zoho is packed with useful surprises. And don’t think of it as a replacement for Microsoft Office or an alternative to Google Apps. Think of it as a playground of productivity, where you can browse and pick and choose whatever you like — and ignore the rest.

Sign up and check it out here at (and let me know what you discover!)

How to edit or remove program sounds?

Are there certain system or program sounds that you want to get rid of or replace with your preferred sounds? For example, if you frequently start and exit certain programs with “welcome sounds,” you may want to disable such sounds to create a more silent environment.

  • Go to the Control Panel (“Start | Settings | Control Panel” menu item)
  • Double click on Sounds icon
  • Scroll through the list of event sounds and select the program and the related event that you want to modify
  • Use controls at the bottom to disable (set sound name to “None”) or select a different sound
  • Click “OK” and close the Control Panel before testing the event sound

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Tip for Today

Is your computer safe and secure?

The programs we’re using are getting more complex while software update cycles are getting shorter. Add the fact that we’re increasingly depending on computers connected to the Internet to this mix and what you have is a recipe for computer bugs and security holes. The good news is that these same factors can also be the best way to handle computer and the Internet related security issues and bugs. But only if you take the necessary steps to stay informed.

Things you can do to safeguard your computer

  • STAY ALERT! Sounds simple? But do you really know if you have the latest patch for your browser, the software you use everyday or even the operating system that you run all your programs on? Don’t expect to hear about security issues and other software bugs in the traditional media such as the TV and news papers. Even if you subscribe to a technical journal, you may not get the news in time.
    • Use email notification services : Subscribe to email notification services related to the software you use. Don’t forget to include your operating system, web browser and any other software that will connect to the Internet in this list. Almost all of these notification services are free and subscription information is usually found on the software publisher’s web site or the software registration card.
    • Periodically check related web sites : If an email notification service is not available, add a task to your calendar to check your software publishers’ web sites at least every month, if not every week. You may have to search their news archives to find any security bulletins.
    • Search newsgroups : Some software publishers may not provide timely information about their software glitches openly. In such instances, newsgroups dedicated to open discussions may help you to find related messages posted by other users. Be aware that the quality and the credibility of information gathered from newsgroups maybe lower than information retrieved using above two methods. Searching, rather than browsing messages one by one, is recommended when it comes to newsgroup postings. For example, search for:
      “product name” AND bug OR fix
  • TAKE ACTION Once you become aware of a bug or a security issue, carefully read the documentation for it and take the recommended action. For example, if applying a software patch is recommended by the software publisher, do so as soon as possible. Don’t delay taking action until the end of the month. Some software patches must be applied in a particular order. Applying fixes as they become available could make it easier to keep this order.
  • KEEP DEFECTIVE SOFTWARE OUT OF REACH After applying patches to your current software installation, be sure to remove defective software from circulation and to document the actions you took for future reference. For example, if you receive a replacement CD or a floppy with a fix, remove obsolete disks from the circulation to avoid future confusions. If the fix was provided in a form of a patch (if you still need the original installation disks in case you have to reinstall the software), be sure to make a note of the patches you applied for future reference. You may want to keep a separate notepad for this purpose or simply label or mark the disks as a reminder to yourself.

If you’re responsible for maintaining more than just your personal computer, administrating a network for example, you should take extra steps such as examining server log files, renewing passwords and evaluating the effectiveness of your organization’s security measures. Following is a list of resources useful to all Windows users and to most other Internet users to stay up-to-date with security and other computer software defects related news:



  • Deja News

    Online tool for searching, reading and posting Usenet newsgroups.

  • Microsoft Security Advisor Program

    Security, Microsoft Security Advisor, Internet Security, NT Security. News, advisories, how to improve security.

  • Windows Update

    Get Windows 98, NT 5 and other software updates online.

  • Internet Explorer Security Area

    The place to get Internet Explorer related security updates.

  • Microsoft Security Notification Service

    The Microsoft Security Notification Service is a free e-mail notification service that Microsoft uses to send information to subscribers about the security of Microsoft products.

  • CERT* Coordination Center

    The CERT* Coordination Center studies Internet security vulnerabilities, provides incident response services to sites that have been the victims of attack, publishes a variety of security alerts, researches security and survivability in wide-area-networked computing, and develops information to help you improve security at your site.

  • NTBugtraq Home Page

    NTBugtraq is a mailing list for the discussion of security exploits and security bugs in Windows NT and its related applications.

  • World Wide Web Security FAQ

    W3C’s World Wide Web Security FAQ for webmasters.

  • Netscape Security Solutions

    Security issues related to Netscape products.

  • Windows NT fixes FTP directory
  • Computer Incident Advisory Capability

    CIAC provides on-call technical assistance and information to Department of Energy (DOE) sites faced with computer security incidents. The other services CIAC provides are: awareness, training, and education; trend, threat, vulnerability data collection and analysis; and technology watch.

  • Computer Security Technology Center, The

    Located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, provides solutions to U.S. Government agencies facing today’s security challenges in information technology.

Faithfulness Rewarded

A woman called up in a South Pacific nation and told me her story. When she was six years old, a neighbor from Australia invited her to Sunday school. Even though her mother said it wasn’t appropriate, she still listened when her neighbor told her about Jesus and showed her books with pictures. She loved it but didn’t make a commitment to Jesus.

Now she’s 40 years old, and has two children of her own. Our team came to her country a couple of years ago for an evangelistic festival. She heard God’s message over the radio: “Jesus loves all the people of the world, from every religion. Jesus died for the people of every religion.”

She called up the hotel where my son, Keith, I was staying and asked me questions about Jesus. Over the phone she opened her heart to Christ! The Bible study she had done with her neighbor years earlier as a girl had prepared her heart to receive Jesus – now in her 40’s.

That neighbor never knew that her faithfulness to a seven-year-old girl eventually led her to surrender her life to Christ so many years later.

What a great reminder to be faithful and reach out to others, even if we don’t see immediate results. God does deep things with the seeds we sow for Him in people’s hearts.

First Samuel 26 says, “The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness.” And God will reward you for faithfully sharing the Good News. So do it! Do it today and every day.

Conversation on an Airplane

A European friend of mine invited me to his home off the coast of France. I met an American there, very young, extremely successful. He had just sold his high tech company for millions and was feeling pretty good about himself. I flew back to the UK on the same plane as this wealthy American and we started talking.

He told me, “Luis, I succeeded without God. I never needed him. I made my money all on my own. I never prayed.” I replied to him with two questions: First, I said, “Are there any other successful people you admire?” and then I asked, “Who do you think gave you your brains to make your money?” Because, you know, the Psalms say, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

He looked at me and said, “You really know how to stick a knife in and twist it!” From there, we began talking about the real definition of success. He eventually told me he was tired and went to sleep. But I continue to pray for this man.

Not everyone you talk to surrenders to Christ. But you and I may be one link in a chain of events that one day may lead them to receive Christ by faith.

Not every conversation you have with people is going to end in conversion. This one certainly didn’t. But, I keep praying that this man will remember the truth I shared with him, and that the Holy Spirit will convict him and he’ll respond to Jesus Christ. So, even if you don’t see people respond immediately, share the Good News anyway.