Guy’s Best Practice Ezine 150 – The Dragons’ Den

Guy’s Best Practice Ezine 150 – The Dragons’ Den

I wonder if ‘The Dragons’ Den’ T.V. series is purely a British phenomenon?  The concept behind the program is that experienced businessmen provide budding entrepreneurs with cash and expertise; in return, the Dragons get a share of any profits.  I ponder whether there are versions of the Dragons’ Den in other parts of the world?

It strikes me there is an opportunity for a similar venture to promote computer programmers and their gadgets.  For example, I often see free programs that could be sold for $10.  Perhaps one difference between those who create add-on programs for computers, and classical entrepreneurs, is that computer programmers just want to create tools for the good of the internet community, rather than to make their fortune.

Now I want to be clear, I don’t have anything concrete to offer programmers at this moment; it’s just that the idea of a Dragons’ Den for computer utilities keeps rattling around my brain.  However, what I will do is continue to promote interesting gadgets, programs, utilities – call them what you will.  At least 50% of my recommendations come from Paul DeBrino.  He loves researching nifty tools that we can download for free, and then have fun testing them on our systems.

Pidgin and Finch

Pidgin is a superior Instant Messaging client.  Its killer feature is a multi-protocol which allows you to logon with more than one IM account at the same time.  Finch is the text-based version of Pidgin, which works with Linux and Unix.

Features include file transfer, away messages, spell checking and typing notification.  It also supports plugins, for text replacement, buddy ticker and extended message notification, and more.

Pidgin is free and will work with the following IM systems:

Google Talk

Pidgin is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2. This means you are free to use it and to modify it, but if you distribute your modifications you must distribute the modified source code as well.


Firstly, I love the catchy name: CopyRite.  But down to business, this is a powerful utility by DaveSoft, which sits on top of Microsoft’s RoboCopy.  CopyRite adds sophistication to file copy, backup or synchronization.

This is a feature-rich system that David Kendrick designed to perform all Microsoft RoboCopy functions but in a GUI.  The key feature is an easy-to-use interface instead of that tricky command line syntax. CopyRite features robust copy with ‘Point and Click’ interface.  No more typing scary ‘DOS’ syntax.

Guy declares an interest here.  Firstly, this utility is not free, CopyRite costs a modest $9.95 and secondly Guy gets a commission.  However, I want to stress that this is not about money, more me wanting to encourage entrepreneurs who have good products.

My subliminal message is that if you have programming talent then convert it into a product that you could sell.  The next thing you know a part-time hobby could turn into a real money-spinner.  I am here in the middle; I see lots of opportunities for an add-on program, but not that many good utilities to fill these niches.

FreePing from Tools4Ever

In my mind’s eye, a company called Tools4Ever will always be associated with FreePing.  As you may know Tools4Ever advertise regularly in this ezine and it’s my pleasure to endorse their products.  Many of their utilities are in the category of try a free version, and if you like it, buy the full version.  In the case of FreePing I also have a personal story.

Back in the last millennium, one of the companies where I did some training had a security problem.  This was a bygone era when RAM was so expensive that teenagers used to break into offices and steal RAM sticks out of the computers.  The network manager devised a system for using a computer program called FreePing to catch the thieves.

What the network manager did was setup FreePing on a computer in the security guard’s room.  The idea was to display connections with all the machines in their offices.  When a machine was turned off, for example, to steal the RAM chips, the display light turned red and the guard got a ‘net send’ message from the FreePing program.  The guard responded with an ‘all stations alert’ to his team who reacted like a hit squad, and rushed to office to confront the thieves.

The problem was that I had come to run a training course and no-one told me of the directive never to turn off a machine in this office.  At the end of the course Guy switched off the delegates computers, only to be confronted by big men with baseball bats.  Fortunately, one of them recognised me, and saved me from a nasty beating.

There was a happy ending.  The next week FreePing alerted the squad again, and this time they caught the two teenagers who were stealing the RAM sticks red-handed.  In the intervening years I have had several reasons to use FreePing for monitoring network connectivity, but when ever I do, that primitive security system always flashes through my mind.

Guy Recommends: Tools4ever’s UMRAUMRA The User Management Resource Administrator

Tired of writing scripts? The User Management Resource Administrator solution by Tools4ever offers an alternative to time-consuming manual processes.

It features 100% auto provisioning, Helpdesk Delegation, Connectors to more than 130 systems/applications, Workflow Management, Self Service and many other benefits. Click on the link for more information onUMRA.

Will and Guy’s Humour

This week Will and Guy bring youclever inventions.  These are cars and bikes rather than computers.  We have allsorts of wacky machines from the Sinclair C5, to the Taiki Concept Car.  Our favourite is the Terrafugia, which is part car, part plane.

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