Create Your Own CD and DVD Labels using Free MS Word Templates

Even though many people keep touting the end of CDs and DVDs, I still think they are here to stay for a while. Sure, most of us share personal videos shot on our phones via cloud services nowadays, but movies and longer form home videos still are easier to share and watch on CD, DVD or Blu-ray discs.

Burning Blu-ray discs still isn’t all that common and may never be, but a lot of people still burn their own CDs and DVDs. If you burn your own discs, then you always have to create a nice-looking custom label to go along with it. It just looks tacky to use a permanent marker to label your newly burned CD!

In this article, I’ll show you where you can find lots of templates for creating your own CD, DVD or Blu-ray label covers in Word. The nice thing is that CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs are all the same diameter and therefore one label can fit them all. In addition, there are a lot of templates for CD and DVD cases including the standard CD jewel case booklets and DVD case inserts.

Word Templates

Whenever you go into a store like Staples or OfficeMax, you’ll always find labels by Avery. They have been around for a long time and they pretty much create most of the labels you use when printing from Word. The same applies for printing CD and DVD labels. Avery has a bunch of different labels you can buy, print, peel and stick right onto your disc.

Check out their CD & DVD templates here and you’ll find over 50 different templates you can download. In addition to Word, they also have templates in Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign formats too.

avery cd dvd template

Click on the one you want and you’ll be able to download it. Make sure to select the Template only option otherwise it downloads an installer that tries to install crapware on your system. If you download only the template, it should be in DOC format. Open the file and you’ll see the template is ready to use in Word.

The only issue that comes up is that you might get a message from Word saying the document has been opened in Protected View. Since the file has been downloaded from the Internet, Word doesn’t trust it and you have to click the Enable Editing button manually to edit the file. I scanned a couple of the files myself with an anti-virus program and they were clean, so it’s just a warning in case you downloaded a file from a malicious website. Avery hopefully won’t be loading their Word docs with viruses anytime soon.

protected view word

Now that you can edit the file, you can start typing in your text, adding images, and customizing your label. Below I have downloaded a blank template and then added some WordArt and text at the bottom for my music tracks.

cd cover word

I recommend downloading a label that already has some text included because it’s much easier to edit that label than trying to do it yourself. It took me about 15 minutes to get all the text aligned properly in the screenshot above. Using this template from Avery, you can just click in the box and edit the text yourself.

cd dvd label

Avery, of course, is not the only site that has CD and DVD label templates. Another good site is Neato, where you can find a bunch of CD & DVD label templates and CD & DVD Inserts and Sleeves templates. Another company called Stomper has about a dozen or so free templates you can download.

Of course, you’ll either have to buy the actual labels to print the templates onto from those sites or you can print them on your own paper if you like. I mentioned Avery first because it’s the easiest to find at a local office supplies store. Microsoft used to have a bunch of CD/DVD templates on their Office Templates website, but now they have been removed for some unknown reason.

Luckily, you can still find some of these Microsoft templates, but you have to perform the search from within Word itself. To do this, click on File and then click on New.

File new word

In the Search for online templates box, go ahead and type in the word CD. You should get back several results including CD/DVD labels and inserts/sleeves.

word search templates

Hopefully, this will get you going for your CD/DVD project. If you run into any trouble, feel free to post a comment and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!

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Prevent Someone Else from using Your Wireless Internet Connection

Do you suspect that a neighbor is using your wireless Internet connection? It could be that your Internet connection is slower than it should be or that your devices keep disconnecting from the router. Someone connected to your wireless router can also access shared folders on your network, so data theft is a real threat. Luckily, there are ways to detect unknown connections to your network and ways to stop them from connecting.

The main defense against wireless leechers is securing your wireless router. Even though most wireless routers from ISPs come with long passwords, someone can still gain access by simply copying the password printed on your wireless router, since most people don’t change the default password set by their ISP.

If you have a router that you bought on your own, no one will be able to use the password written on the router unless you don’t change the default password. We’ll talk about all this below. Let’s first talk about how to detect wireless leechers.

wifi security

Detect Unauthorized Wireless Connections

There are basically two ways to go about detecting all the devices connected to your wireless router: either check on the router itself or use a device already connected to the network to scan the entire network. I prefer the latter method because it’s less complicated, however, I will mention both ways.

The first step is to connect to your wireless router from your web browser. In order to do that, you have to type in the IP address for your router. If you don’t know it, read my post on determining the IP of your wireless router. Once you have that, you’ll need to login using the username and password.

If you don’t remember the password or you never changed the default password, that’s a problem. In either of these cases, I recommend resetting your wireless router to factory default settings and starting from scratch. It may sound like a monumental task, but it’s really not.

First, read my post on resetting your wireless router, which is fairly easy to do. Next, don’t worry if you don’t have the paperwork for your router anymore because you can either find the default password on the router itself or you can find default router passwords online.

Once you are able to log into your router, you can check what IP addresses have been allocated on the network. Usually, this information is located somewhere on the main page and can be called something like Devices, My Network, IP Address Allocation, Attached Devices, Wireless Status, Connected Devices, DHCP Clients Table, etc. It really depends on the router you have, but you should see a list like the one shown below.

connected devices

Most new routers will also show you the name of the devices, so it’s easy to tell if the device is a phone, tablet, printer, IP camera, NAS, streaming device, laptop or computer. If you can’t figure out what device is associated with an IP address, you can always try to paste that IP into your web browser and see if it loads a web page. Some printers, camera, etc. will have their own web interfaces that you can connect to via the browser.

If all of that is too complicated, another method to find connected clients is to use a smartphone app. For Apple devices, I recommend Net Analyzer Lite and Fing Network Scanner. Fing is also available in the Google Play Store.

fing network analyzer

These apps are actually better than going directly to the router most of the time because they can give you more information about the device. Fing can even figure out if you have a console on your network, which is pretty cool.

Now it should be pretty easy to find a device that is not supposed to be connected to your network. If this is the case, what can you do? Keep reading to find out how to secure your wireless network.

Secure Wireless Network

The first step you should take if you think your network has been compromised is to completely reset your router as mentioned earlier or buy a new router if the current one is old. If someone was able to connect to your wireless router, they could have also compromised the router and may be able to monitor all activity on the network.

The next step is to log into your router and to immediately change the default login for the router. Many people assume that setting a strong WiFi password is all they need, but this is not case. It is true that in order for someone to log into your router, they first have to be connected to the wireless network. However, there are many times when you have guests who you cannot trust fully that need to connect to your wireless network for a short time.

Router Admin

Once connected, if they are the hacker type, they might try connect to your router and try the default username and password to log in. If you never changed it, they now can access your router and have full control over your WiFi network. So change the router login password immediately.

router login

If you can change the username also, go ahead and do that. Admin is the absolute most common username on routers and changing it makes it much harder for someone to gain access to your router. If you have a wireless router from an ISP, the username and password for the router admin interface is also printed right on the device, so make sure to change it from the default values.

You’ll have to poke around the various setting and configuration pages as these options are located in different places for different vendors. Now that you have changed the router login info, the next step is to setup the wireless security.

WPA/WPA2

There are three main ways to secure your router at this point: choosing between WEP, WPA, and WPA2 encryption, disabling SSID broadcast and enabling wireless MAC authentication. I firmly believe you really only need to use WPA2 encryption with a long key to be very secure, but some people like to take extra precautions and it could be worth the extra effort if you have very sensitive information stored on your devices.

wireless security settings

Some routers make this really easy for you, like the Verizon FIOS router advanced security settings page shown above. You should only use WPA2, if possible. WEP is very insecure and WPA can be cracked fairly easily. If you have devices on your network that cannot connect once you setup WPA2, then you should pick the option that has WPA + WPA2 Personal. Make sure you choose a long password. Note that it doesn’t have to be a bunch of random numbers, symbols, or letters to be secure. A strong password just has to be a long passphrase.

If you’ve followed the steps above, resetting your router, configuring the admin password and using WPA2, you can pretty much be certain that anyone previously connected to your wireless network is now disconnected.

If you want to go further, you can read my post on disabling SSID broadcast, but it really doesn’t make your network much more secure. Enabling MAC address filtering will make your network more secure, but it makes everything a lot less convenient. Every time you want to connect a new device to your network, you’ll have to find the MAC address for the device, log into your router and add that to the filtering list.

In conclusion, if you suspect unusual activity on your network, you should immediately follow the steps outlined above. There are chances someone may be monitoring your computer if they are connected to your network, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have any questions, post a comment. Enjoy!

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The Best Way to Switch to a New Email Address

Do you still have an ancient prodigy.net or aol.com email address that you are finally giving up? Or maybe you’ve been using a college or university email address for several years and want to move to a permanent email address before you graduate? Or maybe when you signed up for Internet service, you ended up using an ISP email address like cox.net or comcast.net?

Whatever the situation may be, switching to a new email address is non-trivial, especially if you have thousands of emails you want to retain at your new email service provider.

If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, you can use a service I wrote about earlier called YippieMove that charges a $15 fee, but will transfer all of your email from one service provider to another, like Hotmail to Gmail or Yahoo Mail to Gmail, etc.

While I think that method is worth it for some people, most people can do it themselves and configure everything the way they want. In this article, I am going to talk about moving from any email service provider to Gmail or Outlook, since those are probably the best two at this time.

switch email

Here is the general outline of what needs to be done in order to move yourself from one email service to another:

  1. Setup new email with Gmail or Outlook
  2. Import old email to new email service
  3. Forward email from old to new provider
  4. Setup rule to automatically reply to old email address
  5. Email all contacts with the new email address
  6. Update all online accounts that used old email address

Setup New Email Account

When setting up a new email account, you need to make sure that you choose two things right: the email provider and your email address. Don’t pick an email provider that might be gone in 5 years or that might force you off. That means don’t use an email from a college/university, your Internet Service Provider or your company email.

My suggestions are Gmail and Outlook because they have great features that other service providers can’t match. For example, with a Gmail account, you also have a Google account and therefore can video chat directly from Gmail. Google also has Google Now, which can scan your Gmail email automatically and give you information about flights, packages, etc. With Outlook.com, you can use Skype from directly within the web interface.

The second aspect to carefully consider is the name you choose for your email address. These days it’s best to simply use your name, if possible, as your email address. Don’t use awful names like thegrandman2010@gmail.com or shedevillove99@outlook.com. Once you switch to a new email address, you’ll probably want to keep it for a very long time, so pick a good name.

Import Old Email

The next step is to import all your old emails into Gmail or Outlook. This requires POP3 access, which most email providers support nowadays, but if not, you’re probably not going to be able to get all your old email moved over. You can manually go in and forward emails, but probably only the important stuff. 

If all of your email is in the desktop version of Outlook, you can import your entire PST file into Gmail by adding your Gmail account to Outlook using IMAP and then simply dragging and dropping the local folders to the Gmail folders in Outlook. Check out this detailed guide for step by step instructions.

Now if your email provider supports POP3 access, it’s really easy to get your email into Gmail. I’ve already written a detailed guide explaining how to import email into Gmail from different providers.

If you’re using Outlook.com, the process is also very easy. Log in, click on the gear icon at the top right and then click on Options. Go ahead and click on Import email accounts.

import email outlook

You can pick either from Google, Yahoo or other email service provider. Basically, all you have to do is enter your email address and password to connect to the account. You can also click on Advanced options to enter the email server information manually if your provider uses non-standard ports, etc.

import email accounts

That’s about it for importing old emails into Gmail and Outlook. Note that it can take several days for your old emails to show up if you have thousands of emails that need to be imported.

Forward Old Email

Note that when setting up email import in Gmail and Outlook.com, new emails arriving at your old email address will most likely be imported automatically, so you don’t have to setup forwarding. In the case of Gmail, it will only import new emails for 30 days, after which point you have to manually turn on auto-forwarding on the old email.

If you are leaving Gmail, you can enable forwarding easily by going to Settings and then clicking on the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.

gmail forwarding address

Click the Add a forwarding address button and enter your new email address. If you don’t want everything forwarded, click on the creating a filter link below the button.

If you are leaving Outlook.com, go to Options and then click on Email forwarding to enter the forwarding address.

outlook email forwarding

Again, you only need to do this on your old email provider if you are not seeing new emails being imported into your new email provider.

Setup Auto Reply

Next, you want to go ahead and setup an auto-reply or vacation reply on your old email address that tells everyone this email address will soon be deactivated.

In Gmail, you can do this by going to Settings and then scrolling down to the bottom on the General tab. There you will see the Vacation responder section.

gmail vacation responder

Turn it on, choose a First day, don’t check anything for Last day and then type in a subject and email body. You can also check the box at the bottom if you only want the message sent to your contacts stored in Google.

In Outlook.com, go to Options and click on Sending automated vacation replies under Managing Your Account. Note that the option will be missing or turned off if you are not using your Outlook.com account on a daily basis.

outlook vacation reply

On the next screen, you can enter your message just like in Gmail. I would just leave the auto-reply on until you decide to shutdown the account completely.

Update All Online Accounts

This is probably the hardest part of switching to a new email address. Pretty much everything we do online requires an email address as a starting point and that means you have to update many accounts manually.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way around this job. You’ll have to spend several hours or several days going through each site one by one and updating the email address.

If you use a password manager like LastPass or 1Password, you can quickly go through each stored site and update the address. If you don’t have any system for keeping track of your accounts, the next best option is to sift through your email and see which sites are sending emails.

Hopefully, with a bit of planning and organization, you can switch to a new email address and not screw anything up! If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment. Enjoy!

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Use Microsoft Word as a Barcode Generator

Did you know that you can use Microsoft Word to create your own barcodes? Creating your own barcodes is actually kind of cool and pretty easy to do. Once you have a barcode, you can stick it onto anything you want and then scan them using a physical barcode scanner or with your smartphone by downloading an app.

There are several different types of barcodes and I’ll try to show you how to create as many of them as possible for free. In order to create certain types of barcodes, you need specialized commercial software, so I won’t mention those. The most common 1D barcodes are Code 39, Code 128, UPC-A, UPC-E, EAN-8, EAN-13, etc. 2D barcodes include DataMatrix, PDF 417 and QR codes.

In order to create a barcode, you have to install a barcode font onto your system and then use that font in any program that supports fonts like Word, WordPad, etc.

Download Barcode Font

The first step is to download a barcode font and install it on your system. Either you can search Google for barcode fonts or you can download the one you want from these sites below. My suggestion for most people is to use Code 39, Code 128 or QR code fonts as they are the most popular and the easiest to scan.

Code 39 is best for very short text, just a few characters. You’ll notice the barcode becomes very long very quickly when using Code 39. Code 128 can handle a lot more text and the barcode will remain relatively small. With QR codes, you can store a lot of data and the size of the square will get bigger depending on the amount of data.

However, there are a few caveats about using barcodes in Word. Most 1D barcodes require a start and stop character in the barcode for it to be scannable. For Code 39, all you have to do is add the start symbol (*) to the front and back of the text.

For example, if you download a Code 39 barcode, then you would type *Hello* to create a scannable barcode that will read the word Hello when scanned. If you want to include a space in a Code 39 barcode, you have to use the equals symbol (=). So, you would have to type *Hello=John* in Word to get the text Hello John when scanned.

For Code 128, it’s not that simple. In addition to start and stop symbols, you also need some special checksum characters. Unfortunately, you can’t type these on your own and will have to first encode the text into the proper format and then paste it into Word. I’ll walk you through the steps below.

With QR codes and Word, the main problem is that each code square will end up being only one letter. This is because it’s a font in Word and that means each letter has to have its own character. So a five letter word like hello will look like this in Word when using a QR code font:

qr code font

A single QR code can actually store a lot of data, but that is only if you generate the QR code using third-party software or using a free online barcode generator. If you’re going to use Word, you’ll have to live with one QR code storing just one letter, number or symbol.

Code 39:

http://www.barcodesinc.com/free-barcode-font/

http://www.idautomation.com/free-barcode-products/code39-font/

Code 128:

http://www.dafont.com/code-128.font

http://www.jtbarton.com/Barcodes/Code128.aspx

http://www.barcodelink.net/barcode-font.php

QR Code:

http://www.dafont.com/qr-font-tfb.font

Install Barcode Font

Once you have downloaded the font, it will normally be included in a ZIP archive. Go to your downloads folder in Explorer, right-click on the archive and choose Extract All.

extract zip archive

Open the folder and you might see several files, one of them ending in TTF, which stands for True Type Font. Double-click on the font file and a window will pop up showing you the barcode font in different sizes.

install ttf font

Click on the Install button at the top and the font will be installed into the C:WindowsFonts folder. You will have to close Word and reopen it in order to see the new font installed.

barcode font installed

Depending on which barcode font you download, you may see just the barcode in the list of fonts or you will see a name and then a picture of the barcode to the right. Your barcode font is now installed and ready to use!

Generating Barcodes in Word

Now let’s get to the fun part. Let’s start by generating a Code 39 barcode in Word. To do this, I downloaded and installed the IDAutomation Code 39 font, which adds the text that you type to the bottom of the barcode. All of the other ones just show the barcode, but I’m using this one for instructional purposes.

First go ahead and type the text you want in your barcode. For example, let’s type *John=Doe* as shown below.

code 39 barcode

Go ahead and increase the size of the font to something bigger like 20 or 28. Now select the text and then select the Code 39 font from the list. The text should automatically be converted into a barcode and you’ll see the text at the bottom for this particular barcode.

barcode code 39

You’ll notice that the equals sign has been converted into a space in the barcode. You now have a scannable code 39 barcode! It’s pretty much that easy. Skip down to the Scanning Barcodes section to learn how you can scan it using a smartphone app.

Now let’s try creating a Code 128 barcode. First pick a Code 128 font from the above list, download it and install it. Once you do that, you have to go to the following website to encode your text into the appropriate format.

encode font

Type in the text in the Data to Encode box and then click on the Code 128 button at the top left. The Encoded Text box will generate the appropriate text, which you can then copy and paste into Word. Make sure to increase the size of the font to 48 or 72.

code 128 barcode

Now select the text and change it to the Code 128 barcode font you installed. It should create a nice looking barcode, which you can then scan. The only issue I ran into was spaces in Code 128 barcodes. When using the online encoder, it uses a special character for the space, but when I converted that to a barcode, the special character remained and wasn’t converted into a space. Couldn’t figure out how to fix it, so if you figure it out, let us know!

code 128 scan

The same process can be done for QR codes or any other type of barcode. The barcode encoder website is also useful for generating Code 93, UPC-E and other barcode formats.

Scanning Barcodes

If you have a physical barcode scanner, you can obviously just use that to scan your barcodes, but if you’re doing this as a personal home project, you might not have one laying around. In these cases, you can download free barcode scanning apps on your phone to scan your barcodes.

What’s really nice about these apps too is that you can create the barcode on your computer and scan them using the app before you even print them out. This way you can check to make sure they are scannable first.

My favorite app on the iPhone is Beep, a very simple barcode scanner that supports many different types of barcodes. It’s fast, free and works really well.

beep barcode scanner

When it scans a barcode, it’ll tell you the type of barcode (Code 39, 128, etc) and it’ll show you the text at the top left. As for Android, I haven’t used any myself, but there are many apps in the Google Play Store, so feel free to try out different ones.

Hopefully, this guide was enough to get you started with barcodes in Word. If you run into trouble, feel free to post a comment and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!

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How to Hide Your Facebook Online Status

Here’s a simple tip that I just figured out myself the other day: hide your online status on Facebook! Why is this useful? Well, now that Facebook has built chat into the online interface (kind of like Google Hangouts running inside Gmail), your friends can start chatting with you any time you log into Facebook.

Personally, I never wanted to use Facebook.com as an instant messaging program and instead use Facebook Messenger for that purpose. Thankfully, Facebook has made it very easy to change your online status so that people cannot see you are online. Actually, they’ve added a couple of options in the last year or so that let you control it more granularly.

facebook

Turn Off Facebook Chat

The easiest way to not be disturbed by anybody is to simply go offline by turning off chat completely.

Obviously, if you go offline completely, no one will be able to see you are online, but you will also not be able to see which of your friends are online. It’s not like the Invisible feature in Yahoo Messenger. Check out my previous post on how to detect if someone is invisible in Yahoo.

Here’s how to quickly go offline and hide your online status:

Step 1: Log into your Facebook account

Step 2: Click on the gear icon at the bottom right of the browser screen and you’ll get a list of some options. One of the options is to Turn Off Chat.

turn off chat facebook

When you click on that option, you’ll get another popup with three options. Previously, you didn’t have another option and Facebook would simply turn off chat for all friends. Now you can selectively pick who you want to hide from, which is great.

facebook turn chat off

You can choose from Turn off chat for all friends except or Turn off chat for only some friends. When you turn off chat for everyone or a group of people, they can still message you, but the messages will go to your Inbox and not show up in the chat area or in Facebook Messenger.

Note that you can also turn off chat in Facebook Messenger, but the app only lets you turn it off completely. Currently, there is no option to choose who you want to hide from.

turn off messenger chat

I’ve written several other beginner articles about Facebook including how to upload and tag pictures in Facebook and how to update Facebook from your mobile phone. Enjoy!

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