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10 Things you didn't know you could do with your Windows PC

written by: Ashwin Satyanarayana•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 9/16/2008

The poor little, ubiquitous Windows PC - firmly ensconced in our lives so much that its absence is more than just conspicuous. Just when you thought the days of the good ol' PC are over, the nasty thing can surprise you again and how!

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    The Windows PC takes some knocks. It has everything going for it, including the rampant threats of obliteration from scores of those various little nifty devices that might just entice us to push the good old PC into the trash can. Just when you thought that it could be a remote responsibility, the windows PC will surprise you with a razzle-dazzle display of even more incredible things you could do with it - not just boot it, work on it and shut it down. See these 10 incredible things it can do before you underestimate its competence:

    1.    Throw that charger away, Use USB Power to Charge Phones: How many times did you start off on a tour and forget your charger at home? Frustrating, isn’t it? You could bring your woes down to a bare minimum if you can manage to find one of these USB Phone Chargers available for hardly $30 or so and use your laptop or a USB enabled Windows PC to charge your phone up. How is that for hassle free, USB Power?

    2.    Use it as a heater: How about that? Ever notice the amount of heat emanating out of your PC? I personally place the laptop on my lap and I can’t take the heat after a while. Now you can put your PC to a good use by using a smart thermostat and companion software from a facilities provider like Xencom which can help you establish a regulated heating and cooling schedule for your Domestic HVAC system. The Company is a well known green energy and facilities management company and it also provides upgrades to the utilities. Your computer can now be used as a heater. Didn’t you see it coming?

    3.    Set up and run a web server: There are a lot of ways available for you to unleash the potential of Networking and you can use your computer as a web server if you knew what you were doing. You could just set up a few PCs in the vicinity and even run your PC as an email server and route your emails to the other PCs in the vicinity and by pass the Internet connections altogether. There is a whole world to be explored with LAN and WAN networking.

    4.    Run it as a Satellite TV: Do a random check on Google and you are likely to stumble on some software using which you can run your PC as a satellite TV. The software basically culls almost any channel you want from one of those trillion satellite channel networks and brings it home for you to view. On a much more common note, you could use a TV tuner card and watch domestic TV on your computer too.

    5.    Want to help? Try The remote Assistance feature on Windows XP: Windows XP has nifty features which you might not have made any use of yet. How about Remote assistance for instance? You can use remote assistance not only to ‘get’ remote assistance through common messaging software like Windows MSN messenger, but it can be used to ‘help” others. Think about it. How cool would it be if you could help your family, friends or perhaps even set up a networking assistance or Hardware/software consulting to people near you, without moving a finger? All of that is possible now. You would need an internet connection though and both the computers must have the messaging software installed.

    6.    Undo your PC crash: You can now use your USB thumb drive or pen drive to help prevent your computer from crashing. If you could upload some vital freeware or share ware on to your USB stick and then the main tools like an MBR ( Master Boot Record), registry clean-up software and the like. Remember that when you do a USB Boot key formatting, all the data will be lost and hence a back-up is mandated. After formatting and uploading the necessary tools (as required for your system software), you are ready to get your system back to life, if it gives up on you.

    7.    Automate Your Home: Like the kind of stuff you read in science fiction? You bet! But then, it isn’t fiction anymore and even homes are getting smarter now. With the help of your PC docked into your work-station, equipped with a software like, say, HAL 2000, from a Home concept company like Automated Living You can literally operate all the functions in your home barking out voice commands. Whoa, You can actually say things like “ Don’t turn of the lights, tonight” ; “ Shhh…Mom’s home, Start the music to give her the surprise gift the moment she walks in”

    8.    Feeling Green? - Try Environment friendly printing: Green is cool now and we are very surely and strongly moving towards an anti-polluting, environ friendly revolution. While most of everything that is promised looks to have a bleak future, “green revolution” is indeed promising. Think of how you can contribute? Simple use Green printing. What the heck is that? Well, it is simply a modern piece of software that just analyzes your print job before executing the actual printing function to check for any possibility of papers getting wasted.  For instance, it might reduce the white space, do quick formatting to gather as much print into one page as possible and still make the page look presentable. Checks to see what’s necessary and what’s not and allows you to make final changes and save as much paper as possible. Now your computer turns tree savior.

    9.    Your PC can be a Body Language Expert: After a lot of tried and tested voice recognition software, there seem to be too much work involved in the already pathetically performing VRS on the part of the end user. So people just had to give up. But then, rarely do we sit back and relax, eh? We now have systems which can recognize your gestures. From simple Mouse flicks to complicated gestures made on a Microsoft’s Tablet PC( using a stylus, in this case) - your computer can actually plumb into your subconscious through your body language?

    10.    And finally, if you haven’t had enough, learn to fly: What? Haven’t you always wanted to learn flying? Now is your chance to your use your PC to do that for you. Allow the grand-dad of all devices, your ubiquitous PC help you learn to fly by using the MS flight Stimulator. It will obviously not be as good as the actual computer-controlled hydraulic monsters that are used at the Boeing training facilities, but will do well enough for a little bit of fun and learning combined.