Friday, September 22, 2006

Trying NewsGator for Outlook... again

Well, I recently decided to reactivate my NewsGator RSS reader account, after using the Google Reader for a while. When I logged into the Web site to upload my OPML file, the good folks at NewGator invited me to try their Inbox for Microsoft Outlook. I used this application at work for a while, until the first year ran out and my IT department didn't want to renew it. I could have pushed for the renewal but honestly, the previous version didn't play well with Outlook/Exchange, and I decided the lock-ups and delays weren't really worth it.

This morning, I remembered how much I enjoyed getting my feeds into my mail client, and decided to give the latest version a try here at home. Hopefully it works better this time around. If it doesn't cause any problems, I'll end up purchasing it… again. :-)

*Why stop using Google Reader? It works OK but the Web delivery, even when it's on my custom Google home page, isn't really useful for reading a *large* number feeds. (I have more than 50 feeds that I read every day.) So, I decided to go back to NewsGator, which gives me greater control over marking feeds as "read" and keeping others.

Seeking the impossible -- creamy, homemade mac n cheese without artificial cheese-food products

So, last night I needed to make something for dinner, and our fridge was a little empty. :-) Hey, I need to go grocery shopping…. I know it!

Fortunately, I had a handy package of cheddar cheese and a box of macaroni. Yum! Time for dinner.

I finely minced a half of a sweet onion and sautéed it in some olive oil until extremely softened. Then I added a little butter, then flour…let the flour toast away. And then added the milk of course. After a little love and care, my white sauce was ready, then came the cheese. Yummo! Salt, pepper and a dash of hot sauce -- this mac and cheese was tasty and simple, the way it was supposed to be.

My only complaint? I really want smooth and creamy sauce without the grainy strands, and without having to make my mac and cheese with artificial cheese products. :-)

Over the years, I've collected recipes that claim to create smooth and creamy cheese sauce. Often, these recipes require 3 to 6 hard-to-find-in-Lansing cheeses. Then, when I'm ambitious enough to actually make the huge $$$ investment and try the recipe, the results end up OK, but not really smooth and creamy.

I think I was misled by the blue Kraft mac n cheese boxed creations of childhood. There musn't be a way to really create smooth mac n cheese -- at least not without the wonders of science and handy cheese-like (but not really cheese) products.

Any suggestions or ideas? :-)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Insomniac geeking

Lately I've been having a little problem sleeping, so tonight I had some fun checking out the newest features of OneNote 2007.

Ever since the public beta for the new MS Office became available, I've been playing with it at home, and I have to say that I've been impressed. It's true, that as a Microsoft Office User Specialist (MOUS)-certified geek, it can be frustrating when my favorite keyboard shortcuts or advanced menus have changed, but the new functionality has been pretty impressive. One thing for certain, I'll definitely be using the new version of Office from now on.

Of all the office betas, however, my favorite has been OneNote.

As a Tablet PC user, I've used the OneNote 2003 fairly often, especially in my MBA classes. With the new version, I've even started transferring my extensive recipe collection into the new version of One Note, because the search functionality and improved UI work exceedingly better than my old method (of using Word documents in folders).

However, tonight I decided that I'd actually RTFM and look at the handy "One Note Guide Beta 2" built into the 2007 version. WOW! Now I'm convinced that OneNote will be my "Getting Things Done" tool of the future. I am extraordinarily impressed with the way they've integrated this application's functionality with Outlook (even the 2003 version!!). Plus, the shared notebook features (which function within any shared folder or on a file server) will bring an incredibly useful simplicity to workgroup project management, especially for our marketing teams, for whom wikis and SharePoint (up until this point) have been too technically difficult to master.

If you're not testing the Office 2007 beta, then look at the Office 2007 preview site, especially the one for OneNote 2007.