November 15, 1999

By Karen Kenworthy


Hope everyone had a great week! Here in my Power Tool workshop, located somewhere near the center of North America, it's unseasonably warm. Wearing my designer shades, programming, lounging, and sipping lemonade is harder than it sounds. But I might get used to it. Who knows? If it stays this hot, I might even move my chair outdoors ...

Deja vu

But first I want to offer an apology. Many of you wrote last week to say you received multiple copies of my November 8th newsletter. Turns out, the service that distributes my letter mailed it three times, once late Monday, then twice on Tuesday. I still don't know what went wrong, but I'll do my best to make sure it doesn't happen again. In the meantime, please accept my apology for the extra copies.

More Timer Tidbits

Paul Schifferli wrote asking a question about my Countdown Timer II: "I had assumed that if I had a message scheduled it would automatically make the message appear when scheduled. The only way I can make this happen is to put the [program's] icon in [my] startup [folder]. Is this how it is supposed to work?"

Yes, that's how it's supposed to work. Like any program, the Countdown Timer can only do its job while it's running. If you stop the Timer, or don't start it, there's no way the Timer can detect the passage of time, let alone display a message, play a tune, send an e-mail message, etc.

Fortunately, as Paul points out, you can ask Windows to automatically start a program each time you turn on your computer. To do that, place a shortcut to the program in the Startup folder of your Start menu. As long as you don't tell the Timer to stop, it will always be standing by, ready to alert you when an event's time has come.

Squeezing Time

The Countdown Timer's constantly changing "Time Remaining" display is one of its most compelling features. I know I can watch it for hours. Of course, I'm easily entertained.

A few of you have written, though, to say you're bored. Minimizing the Timer's window helps. But making the timer even less conspicuous would be better.

For you I created Countdown Timer II, version 2.7. This latest incarnation of the behaves exactly like its predecessor most of the time. But when minimized, it turns into a system tray (that tiny region in the lower-right corner of your screen) icon. Double-click on this icon, and the program's main window reappears. You can also right-click on the new Timer's system tray icon. This causes a small context menu to appear, with choices such as Restore (display the main window), and exit.

If you'd like a free copy of this new, more space-efficient Countdown Timer, drop by my Web site at You can also download an updated copy of the program's free Visual Basic source code -- just the thing for those of you who have to know what makes the Timer tick. :)


While you're visiting, pick up a copy of my Emailer Power Tool. It's a pretty handy program in its own right. But when combined with the Countdown Timer its even more powerful.

That's because, to enable the Timer's email notification feature, you must install Karen's Emailer. Then you must use the Emailer to define at least one e-mail message. Then, when creating or editing a Timer event, you can select one of these Emailer messages to be sent at the appointed time.

You'll find the Emailer at There you'll also find links to earlier Power Tools columns that describe the Emailer, and explain how to use it.

<slurp> Shucks, I'm out of lemonade. Guess I'll have to stop writing and make some more. Have another great week! Till next time, if you run into me on the 'net, be sure to wave and say "hi!".

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