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Windows only: Free application MRU-Blaster detects and cleans Most Recently Used (MRU) lists from every corner of your computer. Most of these lists are stored in your Windows registry, which means it’s not easy for someone concerned with his privacy to hunt them down. MRU-Blaster makes it easy: Just hit Scan, then Clean Now. As the gHacks post points out, the app still finds and cleans a significant number of MRUs even after running the very popular CCleaner, which might make it worth an installation in conjunction with CCleaner. You can also set the app to run on a schedule or every time you start up your computer. MRU-Blaster is freeware, Windows only. If you give it a try on your system, let’s hear what kind of results you had in the comments. MRU-Blaster [via gHacks]
Mac OS X only: Open-source application Books is a personal database of all the books you own, read, borrowed, or lent out. With hooks into Amazon and other book information services, you can type the title of a book into Books, and automatically suck in the author, ISBN, cover art, summary, publisher, and other metadata right into the app. Enter multiple reviews and notes for each book, and you can even attach files to a book (like, say, a sample chapter you downloaded). Keep track of who you lent a book to and when as well, and make smart lists of books based on criteria—like all books whose keyword contains the word “business,” or all books by a particular author. Take a look at some screenies of Books in action.
Noisy wine expert Gary Vaynerchuck offers a quick but smart tip for removing the foil sleeve from a bottle of wine without the tedious cover trimmers. His simple secret: Just pull it off. This may not be mind-blowing if you already knew this seemingly obvious trick, but if you didn’t, it’s a real time-saver. The Slide Technique [Eat Drink or Die]
Tech site ZDNet walks through how to trim the bloat from a fresh install of iTunes on a Windows PC. The Windows version of iTunes 8 is a 64MB download. (For the sake of comparison, Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP is just over 24 MB.) The full iTunes 8 installation takes up nearly 200MB of space on a Windows PC. As it turns out, the iTunes installer has been bulking up for the past year or two. Don’t be fooled by the filename: iTunes8Setup.exe includes much more than the iTunes client.
The author explains that the iTunes 8 setup installs several drivers, system services, and at least one add-on that are completely unnecessary to the operation of iTunes on your computer. As a workaround, the article details how to extract individual installers from the iTunes setup client so you can install only what you need and want on your computer. iTunes may still take up more than its share of system resources compared to other popular media player alternatives, but at least this way you have a little more control over what programs it installs to your hard drive. Slimming down the bloated iTunes 8 installer [ZDNet]
While fiddling with the look and feel of your computer desktop isn’t technically productive, making your workspace something you’re proud of and happy to look at makes you more likely to want to get things done. Earlier this week, Jason showed you how to start using custom Windows visual styles, and the comments blew up with readers recommending their favourite desktop themes. In addition to the three themes Jason pointed out in his article, let’s take a look at a few more reader recommendations your desktop might like to try on for size.
Even in the job that’s perfect for you, the day-in/day-out stresses can leave you ready to quit or just bitter. Barbara Raab, a writer and editor at NBC Nightly News, took the rare but helpful step of asking for a leave of absence—and it’s helped her realise she wants to come back. Before others take the leap, though, Raab suggests they: Make the business case. Tell your employer what’s in it for them, not just for you. I knew I would be a better employee in a rapidly changing industry upon my return, and I made sure to say so. Help your employer want to invest in your growth, even if it happens outside their walls.
Have you managed to successfully negotiate a leave of absence? What did you use it for, and how did it pay off? Share your story in the comments. Photo by StickBus. Finessing a Leave of Absence [Shifting Careers Blog (NYT)]
The tech-savvy Barack Obama campaign offers a free iPhone application that prioritises your contacts list by “key battleground states” (so you can call your pals and do some persuasion), and offers local campaign event information, and news about Obama/Biden.