Using Microsoft PowerToys for Portable Apps & Elearning

I have some cool tips on use of the free Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP , specifically SyncToy and Taskbar Magnifier.

Cool tip #1: Set-up your Portable applications per the instructions on PortableApps.com. Then go get the Microsoft SyncToy. Create a SyncToy folder pair and auto-magically synchronize your desk/lap-top and the portable drive. Then you can carry your offline folders and current address book with you on the USB (or SD) memory. I sync my address book and offline folders, from my Thunderbird default profile directory with the USB. See this Thunderbird link for more information on locating your profile folder.

Below I’ve used the standard Windows token %AppData%, which expands to the user data directory for applications. On my machine %AppData% is equivalent to C:\Documents and Settings\tomking\Application Data\. Here are the two folder pairs I use for quick Thunderbird synchronizations.

Folder Pair to Synchronize Address Book, Preferences, etc.
Left Folder (Hard Drive):
%AppData%\Thunderbird\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\

Right folder (portable memory):
drive:\PortableThunderbird\profile

Options for folder pair:
Files to include: *.dat, *.db, *.js, *.mab. *.sig

Folder Pair to Synchronize Offline folders and indexes (for IMAP)
Left Folder (Hard Drive):
%AppData%\Thunderbird\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\ImapMail\

Right folder (portable memory)
drive:\PortableThunderbird\profile\ImapMail

Options for folder pair
Files to include: *.dat, *.html, *.msf

Depending on your work and travel plans you may want to use SyncToy to synchronize, echo (copy left-to-right, w/adds & deletes), subscribe (update left-to-right), contribute (copy right-to-left, w/out deletes), or combine (synchronize, w/out deletes).

I always use the SyncToy "Synchronize" setting, but I am very careful to make sure my primary Thunderbird is backed up before I use SyncToy. You can use a similar strategy with Portable GAIM using folder pairs with the hard drive folder %AppData%\.gaim\ and the USB drive folder drive:\PortableGaim\userprofile\Application Data\.gaim\.

Cool tip #2: Use Taskbar Magnifier to assist with precision alignment of hot spots and graphics when using development tools like Authorware, ToolBook, etc.

Taskbar Magnifier lets you to magnify part of the screen from the taskbar. This is very similar to Magnifier that can be found under Start > Accessories > Accessibility, except the PowerToy version remains in the taskbar.

Though the PowerToy has a smaller viewing area, it does not interfere with pull-down menus and most "full-screen" elearning applications. After installing Taskbar Magnifier, you access it by right-clicking on the taskbar, selecting toolbars, and then "Taskbar Magnifier." Use a similar process to turn it off.

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