Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gimp FX Foundry: 115 ready to use scripts for Gimp

Plugins and scripts for Gimp are plenty, but collecting and downloading them one at a time can be cumbersome. To simplify this, Gimp FX Foundry has merged a large number of scripts, 115 on last release, in one single package ready to use.

To install the scripts, simply download the zip file and extract the contents to:

c:\Documents and Settings\%username%\%gimp folder%\scripts



Restart Gimp (if it’s already running) to find all the scripts installed under a new menu item FX Foundry and neatly organized in different categories. FX Foundry installs a handful of new photo enhancement tools, a few shapes, some color effects, about a dozen artistic filters and some much needed layer effects like those found in Photoshop – bevel/emboss, drop shadows, glow etc.

The full list of included scripts is available here.

[via Web Upd8]

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WordPress Greet Box plugin for Blogger and non-WP blogs

The WordPress Greet Box plugin is fairly popular among WordPress bloggers. This plugin displays a different greeting message to site visitors depending on their referrer URL. For example, when a Digg user clicks through from Digg, they will see a message reminding them to digg the post if they like it. Similarly, a visitor from StumpleUpon will be asked to thumb-up the post. Even visitors from search engines like Google or Yahoo are greeted with a welcome message and a suggestion to subscribe to the feeds.
A Wordpress Greet Box
This WP plugin has been ported to Blogger and is called Blogger Greet Box. The good news is, this piece of code can be used with any HTML based website. So the Blogger Greet Box isn’t exactly a Blogger plugin, it’s a universal one.
The Blogger Greet Box
The Blogger Greet Box has the following features:
  1. Show a different greeting message to your visitor depending on the referrer URL.
  2. Beautiful set of icons.
  3. Greeting message can be inserted any where but better to use on the top.
  4. Shows a default greeting message if the user hits the URL directly or comes from a referrer which is not specified.
  5. Ability to remove the message when the user navigates within the same site so we do not keep nagging them with greeting messages.
  6. Currently the following referrers are installed.
    - Google
    - Yahoo
    - Digg
    - Stumbleupon

How to install the plugin

Download the following 2 Javascript files and upload to your server.
Blogspot users can use any free hosting site available. There are plenty of them. Do not use GooglePages as they are shutting down from June 2009.
Copy the following code and paste it on your website/blogger template wherever you want the code to appear:
<script src="/TextToBeDisplayedDiv.js" type="text/javascript"> 
<div id="mainDisplayDiv" style="background:#F8F8FF;border:1px solid  #B6AFA9;display:none"> 
<div id="dynamicContentDisplayed"> 
<script type="text/javascript"> 

// Give your feed url here 
var dynamicHTMLText = displayRequiredText(feedURL); 
= dynamicHTMLText; 

<script src="/HideShowDiv.js" type="text/javascript"> 
<script type="text/javascript"> 
//List your domains where you don't want to show up. Suppose  
//when people navigate within your site and you don't want to 
// show up. This is , separated 
var myRestrictedDomainList = "YOUR DOMAIN NAME HERE"; 
In the above code replace ‘/TextToBeDisplayedDiv.js’ and "/HideShowDiv.js” with the proper URL of these two Javascript files.
Enter your blog’s feed URL and domain name (i.e. the root URL of your blog) at the indicated locations.
Now test the Greet Box by visiting your blog from Google/Yahoo/Digg and StumbleUpon.
[via Classic Tutorials]
Update: New plugin with more social media support is available

Shutter Reloaded is a light weight Lightbox alternative

Lightbox is a popular and widely used Javascript based image viewer for websites. A large number of blogs and sites use it because it’s easy to implement and looks fantastic. When everything works so great with Lightbox, why do you need an alternative, you might ask?

The answer is to this question is: Shutter Reloaded is only about 10KB in size and the best part is, it does not require any external libraries. All it requires is a single Javascript file and the stylesheet that you have to upload to your server and include them into the header of your pages.


Shutter is automatically activated on all links pointing to an image, with or without thumbnails, once the files are included inside the <head> section. No additional markup is required. This means that you can add Shutter Reloaded to your site at any time and all your previous images will work with the new viewer without the need of any modification.

Shutter Reloaded features resizing large images if the window is too small to display them with option to show the full size image, combining images in sets, redrawing the window after resizing, pre-loading of neighbor images for faster display and and “very good browser compatibility”. I can’t vouch for the compatibility thing at least on IE, because curiously, the site throws Error 403 if tried to open with IE, even version 7 and 8.

Blip turns drawings into music

Blip is a strange application that can create music out of random sketches. You are given a sketch pad and a paint brush, a spray can and a horizontal line tool. Using these three basic tools you make your sketch on a 64x64 grid of canvas and then hit the Play button to enjoy a continuous loop of techno type music.

Blip continuously scans a grid of 64x64 cells where each cell corresponds to a note, the starting time of which is determined by its column and the instrument is determined by its row. The color of the cell is broken down into it’s three primary color components: the red component controls the volume of the note, the green component controls the pan and the blue component controls its pitch. The music is the sum total of all the sounds emanating from all the cells you fill in with your drawing. 


Painting in the grid can be done in real-time while the loop is still playing, enabling you to continuously create and recreate music. A wide range of configurable settings, drum patterns, wave sequences, filters and options like ‘Mutate colors’ turns Blip into a very powerful live instrument.

The concept used by Blip is quite similar to the one used by the previously mentioned Tone matrix, another very powerful online music synthesizer.

Arovax Shield prevents malicious programs from penetrating your computer

Arovax Shield is a free, real time monitoring program for Windows that works beyond what Antivirus applications and security suites offers by providing an additional layer of protection to your system. Arovax Shield runs silently in the background, and notifies you when any application tries to install or modify the registry and other critical files on your system. Think of it as a “firewall” for the system.

Arovax Shield is not an anti-virus nor an anti spyware program. It doesn’t scan your computer to detect spywares. Rather it prevents spyware and other malicious programs from entering into your system by continuously monitoring activities that malicious codes usually perform, like modifying the registry and the host file. Whenever it detects such a behavior, it alerts the user and offers a choice to either terminate the activity or allow it to proceed. Since many legitimate applications need to modify registry entries to function, Arovax Shield can throw a large number of false positives. The user should be able to identify these legitimate system access from the real threat.


Arovax Shield can prevent browser hijacks, blocks tracking cookies from being installed in IE, Firefox and Opera, blocks auto start entries, guards the host file, Windows registry and Windows policies.

As already mentioned Arovax Shield is not an antivirus application or Internet firewall and hence does not interfere with any firewall, anti-virus or anti spyware applications that may be already installed and running. It can be used along with your existing security application without any conflict. However, it should be noted that some security applications like Kaspersky Antivirus and Zone Alarm Pro already provide this kind of defense.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ArcConvert, the archive file format converter

ArcConvert is a free, portable, open source program for Windows that lets you convert file archives from one format to another. This is different from typical file converter software that you come across because almost none of them supports archive file formats.

Though most file archive programs can open a handful of different file archives, there are a still a large number of obscure file formats that won’t open with the file archiver you have installed in your machine. Say for example, neither 7-zip nor WinRAR supports YZ1, GCA, BEL, PMA, ALZ and a lot of other file extensions. (On a side note, have you ever looked beyond WinRAR, WinZip and 7-zip? No? There are lot’s of alternatives. Bitser is another good one). It’s highly unlikely that you will come across an archived file in any one of those formats, but can never say for sure.


ArcConvert can convert the following file formats:

7-ZIP/ LZH / CAB / ZIP / ARJ / ACE / RAR / TAR / TGZ / GZ / Z / BZ2 / YZ1 / YZ2 / GCA / BEL / RPM / DEB/ BH / Noa32 / HKI / PAQAR / QX /HA /ZOO /UHARC /LFB / ZLIB / UCL / IMP / RS / SPL / APK / Arc / DZ / MSI / ALZ / PMA / PAQ7 / CHM / UDA / PAQ8 / Cryptonite / ISO / LZOP / BMA / ZIP AES (128/192/256) / Nanozip Alpha/ XZ/ FreeArc/Zpaq/GZA

to the following ones:


I have to admit, most of these names look alien to me.

If the archive is password protected, ArcConvert detects it automatically and prompts you to enter the password during conversion.

This application is going to come handy someday. If you are looking for an online solution, Zamzar does support quite a few.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Adobe Digital Editions, a cool PDF manager and reader

What software do you use to read PDF files? Adobe Acrobat Reader? Or some free PDF Reader like Foxit or Sumatra? Maybe you should try Adobe Digital Editions. No, this is not another bulky, irritatingly slow PDF reader from Adobe. It’s surprisingly fast, has a sleek design and comes with an in-built ebooks library manager.

Adobe Digital Editions is based on Adobe Flash and sports a highly attractive design.


Like a music library organizer, Adobe Digital Editions allows you to add PDF and EPUB files to the library and manage your ebook collection, digital newspapers, and other digital publications that you have bought. Some digital publications that you purchase online may contain DRM protection that restricts the files from being shared with others. Digital Editions implements a content portability and user authentication procedure that enables you to share DRM protected eBooks and other digital publications across multiple computers.

The library lets you group books into virtual bookshelves, and view and sort your collection by title, author, publisher, last read etc in both thumbnails and list view. Digital Editions can also keep track of what you have been reading and those items can be quickly accessed from the library.


On the reading panel, you can display pages as single page or double page layouts, which is great for wide screen monitors. Here you can search, bookmark pages, and highlight text and add comments for future reference right within the ebooks. Digital Editions can also read embedded SWF files on digital publications giving a rich multimedia experience.

Digital Editions makes a great, free alternative PDF reader with good features and without unnecessary frills.

CPUOff shutdowns the computer when CPU load falls below a threshold

We usually prefer to do computer tasks that take a long time to complete, unattended over night while we are sleeping or while we are away from home. Examples of such unattended tasks are backups, video encoding, hard drive defragmentation, downloading etc. While such over night jobs are great for saving time, the same cannot be said about saving energy. The difficulty lies in scheduling the shutdown because the time to complete the task cannot be easily predicted. CPUOff is a software that solves this problem.

CPUOff is a small freeware application that monitors the CPU load and initiates computer shutdown if the average CPU load has been found to be below a set threshold for a preset time. CPUOff is a great utility for saving energy by making sure a computer shuts down when it has finished an unattended task.


CPUOff operates by checking the average CPU load once a second and comparing it with a preset threshold. If the CPU load falls below the threshold and stays for a user defined period, the program initiates a shutdown. CPUOff supports all shutdown mode - Hibernate, Power Off, Reboot, Shutdown and Standby. The program can also be configured to delay the shutdown process by up to 10 minutes giving that much time to the user if he wishes to cancel the shutdown.

The program itself consumes very little system resources but it does run with high priority. The program also logs all event into a log file.

CPUOff has an optional slave program that can be used to remotely shutdown a computer. The slave program is installed on the remote PC and it monitors communications from the main program, which occur twice a second and initiates shutdown when the master program enters shutdown. The communication is one way, there is no communication back to the main program. The lack of two way communication makes the Slave tool pretty unreliable. I wouldn’t recommend you to use this option.

CPUOff supports WIndows 2000 Service Pack 4 (32bit), Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition Service Pack 1 (32 and 64 bit), Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition Release 2 Service Pack 1 (32bit and 64 bit), Windows XP (32bit) and Windows Vista - all variants (32bit and 64 bit). The program is free but requires registration to use.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

5 short links for today #6

bmlet-logo 1. A directory of browser bookmarklets. Bookmarklets are Javascript codes that can be saved in a browser as bookmarks and which perform specific functions on websites, like downloading embedded videos, creating short URLs and such.

isnsfw 2. isNSFW is the safest way to share NSFW links. It’s a link shortening service for sharing Not Safe For Work content. Instead of sending an obligatory warning note with each NSFW link you share, shorten the link using isNSFW and apply a rating according to it’s content. Your friend will see a warning message before he can open the URL.

3. YtDub: This site allows you to dub YouTube videos with other YouTube videos. In other words, you can take a YouTube video and replace it’s audio with the audio from another YouTube video.

free-shipping 4. FreeShipping: Looking for a product that ships for free? Try This website tells you which product on which shopping site is being offered free of shipping charges. It’s includes free-shipping items from various small and big online stores like Amazon, eBay, Barnes&Noble, Dell, AVON, Kodak, Levi’s … a total of 1542 stores at the time of writing this.

5. They Write the Right Stuff: An essay on how remarkably perfect and precise the software written for NASA’s Space Shuttle is.

This software never crashes. It never needs to be re-booted. This software is bug-free. It is perfect, as perfect as human beings have achieved. Consider these stats : the last three versions of the program -- each 420,000 lines long-had just one error each. The last 11 versions of this software had a total of 17 errors. Commercial programs of equivalent complexity would have 5,000 errors.

A great read.

Windows Installer CleanUp Utility removes stubborn Windows applications

Have you ever come across an application that refuses to uninstall? It throws a message like “uninstaller is corrupt” or “could not find uninstaller” or something along those lines. This partially uninstalled application might prevent you from reinstalling the application or cause other problems. If you find yourself in such a fix, give a go at Windows Installer CleanUp Utility.

Windows Installer CleanUp Utility removes installation information for programs that were installed by using Windows Installer. The utility looks up for registry references and files related to Windows Installer that were installed by various programs, and forcibly wipes them out. Windows Installer CleanUp Utility does not remove the actual program files from the computer. It only removes the installation and registry entries thus effectively wiping out any information that points to the installed program files.


After the Cleanup Utility does it’s job, you can manually delete the program files or start over again by re-installation or upgrade.

Related: Remove stubborn antivirus/antispyware programs

Friday, May 22, 2009

VSuite Ramdisk turns the RAM into a virtual hard disk

Applications such as server systems, image and data processing and games require fast hardware to perform at an acceptable level and speed. In such cases the hardware that holds them back is usually the hard disk. Hard disks are inherently slow because they are based on mechanical systems consisting of moving parts. Even the fastest hard disk is several times slower than the slowest RAM.

One solution to this problem is to use Ramdisk. A Ramdisk or RAM-Disk is a software layer that transforms a segment of the random access memory (RAM) into a virtual secondary storage or hard disks. By moving the data which is currently being processed to these Ramdisk, we can greatly increase the access time and the throughput of the computer. Besides the service life of a physical hard disk can be prolonged by reducing access to it.

VSuite Ramdisk (Public edition) is one such free RAM disk software for Windows. This software can create up to several RAM disks in the computer’s main memory which are identical to physical hard disks and can be recognized by Windows or any other disk management software as physical hard disk. Needless to say, the computer must have sufficient amount of memory to allocate a part of it to a RAM disk.


VSuite Ramdisk can automatically load a hard disk image file into the RAM disk at system boot up and then automatically save the data in the RAM disk to the image file at shutdown. This allows you to use the virtual hard disk transparently as if it physically exist. The software can also save the data periodically at certain intervals so that an unexpected system crash doesn’t make you lose data. On a personal computer, a clever use of the RAM disk will be to move the browser cache, Windows swap file and temporary files to it.

There is another benefit of using VSuite Ramdisk: VSuite Ramdisk is capable of addressing memory in excess of 4GB. So even if 32 bit Windows can detect only 3GB memory, enabling the “OS Invisible Physical Memory” option in the software allows Windows to detect and use memory up to the full 4GB.

Some important features of VSuite Ramdisk

  • FAT, FAT32, NTFS file systems support. 
  • Allow to optimize cluster size of file system.
  • Support "On-command save image" option. Can save data in a Ramdisk to an image file when needed.
  • Support "Automatic save image" option. Can automatically save data in a Ramdisk every certain time.
  • Support image file compression and different compression level.
  • Support "Direct IO" Ramdisk which has faster access speed.
  • Support "Overlapped IO" feature, can achieve faster access speed in some applications.
  • Support "Volatile Disk" option.
  • Disk parameters changeable.
  • Ramdisk size can be up to 2048TB.
  • Up to 128 Ramdisks can be simulated.
  • WDM driver, plug and play feature support.
  • Supports Windows 2000, Windows XP (32-bit), Windows 2003 (32-bit)  Windows XP (64-bit), Windows 2003 (64-bit), Windows Vista (32-/64-bit).

Deskpecker, Pepsi Volume Controller and Recycle Bin Laden

If reading the title of this post made you say “What the hell?”… you are right! These are names of three actual Windows applications, three most useless Windows applications. They are so crazy and so complete trash that I couldn’t help but write about them. And they all come from the same publisher.

Deskpecker is small Woodpecker, the bird, that flies to the currently active window on the desktop and starts pecking at it’s right border. Desktop toys stink but somehow this looks cute.


Pepsi Volume Controller is a volume controller for Windows in the shape of a Pepsi can with a “Real Pepsi Pouring Wave file for Sound Testing.” It does provide some additional benefits over the default Windows volume controller like volume level display in numbers, buttons to launch “audio properties” window and “always stay on top”.


The third one takes the cake. Recycle Bin Laden replaces the Recycle bin icon on the desktop with an Osama Bin Laden icon. Duh!


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mozilla JetPack lets you build your own Firefox addon

Developing addons for Firefox requires knowledge on Javascript, XUL and XML. If you know none of the above but do know the ins and out of HTML and web designing, you can still design simple extensions for Firefox, thanks to the new Mozilla project JetPack.


Jetpack is an API that allows anybody with knowledge on HTML, CSS and Javascript to write Firefox addons. Mozilla says that Jetpack addons can be written in under a dozen lines of code. What’s more? Addons built through JetPack can be installed without restarting the browser.

Jetpack is still a very early open source project, it’s a prototype actually. The initial Jetpack APIs support features built for status bars, tabs, content-scripts, animations, and more. It also support external API libraries like Twitter and supports jQuery.

Interested developers may checkout the following introductory video, or jump right into the project with available tutorials and documentations.

[via Mashable]

FocusWriter, a full screen, portable word processor

We have seen a few full screen, distraction free writers in the past (Darkroom, Writespace). These writers are pretty bare bone and even lacking in features that you might consider essential like text formatting. FocusWriter is no different, but this one is comparatively more equipped with features than the rest.

FocusWriter isn’t entirely devoid of toolbars. They remain hidden and show up when you move the mouse to top or bottom edge of the screen. The toolbar at the top carries some basic buttons like open, save, print, find, rename etc. The toolbar at the bottom shows the document's name, word count, time and a daily goal percentage. The time display is a thoughtful addition, since working full screen can make us lose track of time without the system tray clock.



The daily goal is optional, but a very helpful feature. You can set goals either in minutes or in word count for each document you create. For example, you can set yourself a goal of 30 minutes to write an article. The clock starts as soon as you start typing and shows you what percentage of the goal you have completed. There is however one flaw with the time measuring process. The clock runs as long as you are typing and pauses whenever you stop. The word count goal is more useful.

Regarding customizability, FocusWrite is very flexible. You can change the background color and opacity, as well as the font color and type. You can even set an image as a background.


FocusWriter can be run in both full screen and windowed mode. It autosaves your document as you type, and if you close the program and restart it, it automatically loads the last document with the cursor positioned at the end of the document, ready for you to begin.

Disadvantages: No text formatting, no spell checker and saves only as .TXT.

FocusWriter is free, open source and available for Windows, Linux and Mac

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

RunPee tells you when you should take a bathroom run during a movie, and what you missed

Watching movies at home on a rented DVD or on the TV has one advantage: you get ample time during commercial breaks to take a leak without missing a scene. But things aren’t so comfortable when you are at a theatre. With pressure building up inside your bladder and 45 minutes left for the movie to end, you are forced to make a difficult choice - resist the urge and attempt to concentrate on the movie or run for the bathroom and risk missing an important scene.


RunPee is a new website that tries to help people in such a dilemma. Every movie has a few scenes that aren’t crucial to the plot, scenes you can afford to miss without compromising your movie experience. RunPee tells you when those scenes occur and how much time you get to relieve your bladder.

Currently RunPee offers this valuable information on only a few selected movies. When you choose a movie from the list, you will get a timeline of the movie with “RunPee” moments or restroom breaks marked along the timeline. Clicking on a “RunPee” will show you the exact time when it occurs with a brief description of the scene immediately preceding the “RunPee”. It then tells you how much time you've got to make a run to the nearest restroom followed by a description of the scene that takes place while you were away. The second description is obfuscated by default so as not to reveal the scene unless you really want to, even through they aren’t really spoilers. Clicking on “unscramble” will make it readable.


Some RunPee’s are interesting. For example the RunPee for Hannah Montana the Movie offers some sane advice: “Go home right after the previews and pee for as long as you please in the comfort of your own home. You wont miss anything.”

Users are able to add new movies to the collection and create RunPees for the benefit of other movie goers. This is really essential for this website to be of any real help – constantly updating with new releases. I’m sure some of you will do it.

This site is awesome and I love it’s logo (watch the animation in the logo). And while we were discussing about peeing, maybe you should checkout this too – where to pee?

[via Reddit]

File defragmentation tools: WinContig vs Defraggler

Defragmenting the whole drive is time consuming and to a large extent very unrewarding, as you can only gain a few milliseconds of access time at best. Defragmenting individual files is a far better strategy. My Documents folder is taking too long to open? Defragment it. The movie file is badly fragmented? Defragment it and leave the rest. It’s time saving and logically more sound than whole drive defragment.

I have written about a file defragmentation tool called Defraggler earlier. Another such tool that I came across recently is WinContig. WinContig is a stand-alone defragmentation tool for Windows that lets you quickly defrag files and folders without having to defrag the whole disk.


One useful feature in WinContig is the ability to group files and folders together and save it as a profile. So if you frequently defrag a certain collection of files, you can group them together and save it as a profile. The next time when you need to defragment those files, you only have to load the saved profile.

When I compared WinContig to Defraggler I found that both tools has certain pros and cons over each other.

Defrag files, folders and drivesYESYES
Defrag free spaceYESNO
Defrag strategy12 (Quick & Smart)
Visual representationYESNO
Automatically clean temporary files before defragmentationNOYES
File exclusion listYESYES
Save file list as profilesNOYES
Automatic PC shutdown on completionYESYES

Conclusion: As you can see, both the tools offer different feature sets. WinContig is more advanced with options like “automatically clean temp files”, “file profiles” and "quick defrag" modes making it a favorable choice. But I will miss the “free space defrag” of Defraggler. Also watching the colorful blinking dots in Defraggler when the defragmentation is in progress has a pleasure of it’s own.

I will keep both and use them depending on my need at that particular time.

Ships, the Google Earth based ship simulator

Ships is a free browser based simulation game released by that became the first game ever to use Google Earth as a game engine. The game lets you be the helmsman of your own fleet of ships comprising of barges, cargo ships, container ships, and even a cruise ship. You can drive the ships anywhere in the world and behold the incredible scenery at a leisurely pace. All you need is the Google Earth plugin.

Apart from the default navigation system of Google Earth, the game features 3 additional camera modes similar to what can be seen in many games. There is a "head view" which locks the viewer to the ship. The fixed view simulates a fixed camera that tracks the ship as it sails by. Once the ship has passed it will
randomly relocate itself somewhere in front of the ship.


"Ships" is a case study / Technology show piece that demonstrates what can be achieved with Google Earth. While map data has a tremendous value for practical purposes, it can also be used as a backdrop for a range of games…

Google Earth proves extremely capable to handle many overlays with alpha transparencies which enables developers to create intricate and graphically rich instruments. Proof of that can be seen in the Compass/rudder instrument which consists of 5 layers of bitmaps. (compass rose, rudder dial, rudder position needle, rudder target needle and instrument bevel).  Each layered image uses alpha transparency to create a sense of depth and shadows. There really is no limit what can be achieved in the hands of an experienced graphics artist.

The game’s 3D models have all been created in Google Sketchup and some texturing were done in a range of other programs. The game’s creator Paul van Dinther also used Flash 8.0 and Javascript and Soundmanager 2 for creating sound effects.

[via Google Earth Blog]

Monday, May 18, 2009

Http Explorer – A powerful web server for file sharing

Http Explorer is an open source, easy to use web server software designed especially for file sharing across a network or the Internet. Using a simple configuration interface you can set up a web server on your computer and assign drives or folders containing anything like music, images or documents and allow other users to access these contents remotely over a network.

Very recently I wrote about a streaming music server software Subsonic, and before than Sockso, that enabled sharing of music over a network. Http Explorer is similar file sharing server but with wider capabilities. Not only can it stream music files but also share images, documents and literally any file format. When you add a folder or drive to share, you essentially open it up on the network. Users can browse the contents of the folder or drive using a browser and download any files or play music directly using an inbuilt Flash media player.


The software has a number of different “styles” or interface for the users, which are built entirely using CSS. So it’s possible to make suitable modification to it according to your taste. From their browsers the users can view files sorted by name, date, size, type, artist, album and by group. There are different display modes: list, icons, and miniatures. There is also a search by filters feature. You can try out all these features at the online demo.

The server itself is pretty powerful and flexible, offering numerous settings and configuration options for the site owner. It supports IP filtering, password protected user accounts, quota limit for each users, and security measures such as making an account unavailable for certain duration after a set number of failed login attempts.

http-explorer1 http-explorer2

Http Explorer also maintains extensive log reports which can be easily viewed through the History tab and provides information such as the IP address of the users, files accessed, time of access etc.

If you want to share files over LAN, Http Explorer is highly recommended over traditional Windows file sharing.

Textorizer – Make pictures with texts

Textorizer isn’t exactly an ASCII art generator but similar. While a typical ASCII art makes use of random characters to generate an image, Textorizer takes user defined words or texts and generates an image out of it.


Open the application, choose an image and load any Word document or text file you have saved on your computer as the source text. Click on Textorize and watch as the words take the shape of the image. Play around with the various sliders – color, saturation, font scale etc to get the desired effect.

Also checkout, ASCII posters and ASCII generation with mouse

[via Chris Pirillo]

Saturday, May 16, 2009

10 short links for today #5

Instead of the usual 5, today I will be sharing with you twice the number of links.

logo-tubechop 1. TubeChop: Chop a section of a long YouTube video containing the interesting part and share. You can choose both the start and end time.

2. Build an Atom: A simple collection of images showing the inside structure – electrons, protons, shells and orbitals of atoms of all the elements.

3. 8-bit FM: An online radio station streaming 8-bit video game soundtracks and other “nerdy” tunes.

4. Picamatic: An image sharing website that allows you to upload a large number of images simultaneously. Instead of only one upload buttons, it has several arranged in a grid. Upload one file and move to the second one while the previous is still uploading and then to the next and so on. There is also a batch uploading feature.

5. Jumbra: An online application powered by the Google App Engine that combines a number of RSS/Atom feeds into a single feed. Similar to RSS Mixer.

6. A simulation of gravity using jQuery. Pretty cool animation. I wonder if we can actually put this to use on a website.

7. Font Picker: An online tool that displays all fonts installed on your system and helps you choose which one is most suitable for a particular project. You can even type your own text, like the title of the website and see how it appears using different fonts. Highly recommended for designers.

8. Coolspotters: An online service that makes it easy to discover and buy the products, brands, and fashions being used by your favorite celebrities – in their real lives, and in movies and television. So if you see a particular dress worn by a celebrity that appeals to you, you can head to Coolspotters and find out if it’s for sale and where.

9. Logicly: An interesting logic gate simulator. Add different logic gates (AND, NAND, XOR etc) connect it with wires and put a bulb at the output. If the bulb lights up when you apply the inputs the result is one. If it remains off, its a zero.


10. The Manuals: A place where you can search and download manuals of all kinds of products – from toasters to cars to chainsaws. Their index covers a total of 5.7 million manuals. Also see Diplodocs.

Workrave helps you prevent Repetitive Strain Injury

There is no denying the fact that performing the same physical task repetitively over a long time span causes pain and discomfort. There is a term for such a disorder - Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). RSI stems from prolonged repetitive, forceful, or awkward movements of limbs, usually the arm. The result is damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves of the neck, shoulder, forearm, and hand, which can cause pain, weakness, numbness, or impairment of motor control.

One of the risks that people who work at the computer face is RSI.

Fine hand movements, repeated hour after hour, day after day, thousands upon thousands of times, eventually strain the muscles and tendons of the forearms, wrists, and fingers, causing microscopic tears. Injured muscles tend to contract, decreasing the range of motion necessary for stress free work. The sheaths that cover delicate tendons run out of lubrication because they aren't given time to rest, so tendon and sheath chafe, resulting in pain. Due to this abrasion, tendons become inflamed, and begin to pinch neighboring nerves. This can result in numbness, tingling, or hypersensitivity to touch. Unless this cycle is interrupted, it repeats itself over and over, and a long-term, chronic problem results.

Repetitive strain injury can affect more than just your hands and wrists. Poor posture can lead to severe neck and back injuries. Staring at a computer screen can lead to eye strain. Repetitive reaching for a mouse can lead to arm and neck strain as well as spinal asymmetry.

Courtesy: Clay Scott

You don’t have to panic. It’s not that every computer user will eventually suffer from RSI, but you have to take steps to prevent it. You can take help from software that reminds you to take breaks, some simple timers that blank your screen during schedule breaks (see Eyes Relax, Anti-Strain Alarm Clock).

Workrave is another software that times your computer usage and prompts you at set intervals to take breaks. Workrave is a lot different from other reminder tools that I have come across.


Workrave has 3 types of break. The first is micro-pause, a short thirty second break which occur every three minutes, by default. The idea is to make you stop using the keyboard and relax your hands as frequently as possible. You don’t have to walk away from the computer since the breaks are short – just 30 seconds. One nice feature of the micro-pause is that the timer pauses if you stop using the keyboard and mouse for a few seconds. So if you stop typing to think or say attend a call, the timer pauses since you’re already taking a break.


Next comes the rest break which are longer and comes at an interval of 45 minutes by default. During these breaks you are supposed to walk away from the computer, stretch your arms or take a cup of coffee. You are also given a few exercises to perform. Like micro-pauses, the timer for rest breaks is paused during period of inactivity.


The third type of break isn’t a break, it’s a complete shutdown. It monitors the total amount of time you spend on the computer in one day and once the set number of hours is over it will prompt you to stop using the computer. The default is set to 4 hours, which will be rather low for most users. Of course you can increase the allotted time for each day or completely ignore it, but that would defeat the very purpose of the software. Here again, the timer pauses when you are inactive.

The software is a bit aggressive during the rest periods – it blocks all inputs by default. You can change this to a simple reminder or blank screen if you wish. At first you might find the frequent reminders a bit annoying or be tempted to disable it altogether. I say, let it do it’s job and you will never overstress yourself.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How to normalize or increase/decrease audio volume of a video

Often we come across videos that has either a very low or a very high audio volume that forces us to adjust the volume level in our speakers or media player. Sometimes the audio is so faint that turning up the audio volume knob only amplifies the background noise making the actual audio inaudible. Fortunately, there is a fix available.

To rectify such video files, we have to adjust the audio level or in other words, normalize the audio. Earlier I had shown you how to normalize MP3 files. This time we will normalize a video file.

The software we will require is Virtualdub, a free open source video editor. Remember that this method will work only with AVI files (i.e. MPEG4 encoded). If you have an MPEG file you will need to convert it to AVI first.

Open Virtualdub and load the video into the editor.

From the Video menu, select "Direct Stream Copy".


From the Audio menu, select "Full Processing Mode".


From the Audio menu click on “Volume”, check the box "Adjust volume of audio channels" and then adjust the volume level using the slider.


Preview the volume level by playing the output video file. If you are not satisfied, go back to the previous step to readjust the volume.


Finally, save the file as AVI.

Server2Go, a web server that runs from the CD ROM

If you want to run a web server on your computer, not necessarily to host a website, but to install Wordpress, design a theme and such, you have plenty of options to choose from. But most of the server software requires installation and thus impossible to carry it on a pen drive.


Server2Go, however is portable. It’s more than portable because it’s capable of running directly off a CD ROM or any write protected USB drive. Server2Go allows you to create a standalone working web site with Apache, PHP and MySQL directly out of a CD ROM. Using a web browser, a user can run PHP programs as well as view html files on the CD-ROM. Simply insert the CD with Server2Go into the optical drive and the server software starts automatically.


  • Autodetect free ports for Apache and MySQL
  • Autodetection of proxy settings
  • Server2Go takes care of the correct configuration of Apache, PHP and MySQL depending on the environment
  • Starts up the Server software automatically unseen to the user
  • Starts up a browser with the autodetected hostname and port
  • Auto shutdown of the server software after the browser is closed (default, can be changed)
  • The database can be used from CD-ROM or can be mirrored to the local machine
  • Supports Windows 98/Me/XP/2000/Vista

Server2Go supports the following packages

  • Apache 1.3.x, 2.0.x and 2.2.x (V1.6.0 of Server2Go or above)
  • PHP 5.2.x with a lot of Extensions. Downgrade packages to 4.4.x and 5.0.x available)
  • MySQL 5 support
  • Perl 5.8 with many CPAN modules integrated

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Animata creates animations out of still images

You might be thinking how it is even possible to animate still images. Well, remember puppet shows? In puppet shows you have inanimate dolls or puppets with flexible limbs connected to strings which are controlled by humans. By pulling the strings we can move the puppets in all sort of ways and make them walk, dance and talk.

Creating animations with Animata, an open source real-time animation software, is exactly like putting up a puppet show. Unlike traditional animation software you don’t have to be an artist to create animations because there is no drawing or modeling involved. All you need is an assortment of pictures. Then using the tools available on Animata you create a skeleton mesh on top of the image. Make some parts of the skeleton fixed and some part movable. Assign pivot points around which the movable parts would rotate. Then attach “strings” to those movable parts. By contracting or expanding these strings you can move the limbs just like you move a puppet and create animations.

The following video will give you a better idea on how it’s done.

Another peculiar feature of the software is that the animation - the movement of the puppets, the changes of the background - is generated in real-time, making continuous interaction possible. This ability also permits that physical sensors, cameras or other environmental variables can be attached to the animation of characters, thus setting up a scene of drawn characters controlled by the movement of human characters.

Here is another video that demonstrates this.

Animata is available for Windows and Mac platforms.

Device Remover – The advanced device manager

Device Remover is a very powerful device manager for Windows that provides an in-depth view of all installed devices, drivers and services, facilitates easy and mass removal of multiple devices on-the-fly and modification of devices, drivers and services on the system.

If you are used to the simple, default, device manager of Windows, be prepared to be assaulted by a massive amount of information that Device Remover throws at you. The programs’ main interface is teeming with data. On the upper left is the standard device manager tree view of all system (Hidden, Detached, Current installed, Problematic Devices,etc). Hovering the mouse gives you a detailed information about the device complete with hardware ID, registry keys, location of INF files and what not. The same information is available on the right hand window when you select a device on the tree view.


There are a number of tabs at the top at gives you detailed view of installed drivers, drivers currently loaded into memory, loaded modules, handles, process ID, executable path, version number, creation date … and any information that’s possible to obtain from the said files or device. Most of the information is color coded for easier viewing.

Device Remover also has a command line that can be used to give quick commands to the program. It’s also possible to search for particular devices or drivers.

Device Remover is available for Windows 2000 till Windows 7, in both 32 bit and 64 bit flavors, and requires the .Net Framework to run.

AnalogX LinkExaminer detects broken links, duplicate content and incorrect SEO on your website

If you have a website you must surely understand how important it is for the purpose of SEO and convenience of visitors to keep all links on your site working. Missing pages or duplicate contents is not only annoying for the visitors but is also harmful to your site’s ranking in search engines.

In the past we wrote about a program called Xenu’s Link Sleuth that hunts down broken links and images on a website enabling you to weed out non existent pages or links. AnalogX LinkExaminer is another tool that scans all links present on a web site or web page and determines it’s integrity. LinkExaminer then goes a step ahead by performing other checks on the links like HTTP status code, HTTP message, whether it’s no-follow, last modified date, size, page title, a quick SEO  analysis and some more advanced tasks like identifying pages with high similarity to other pages.


Once the scan is over, you can filter the results by external links, internal links, links with errors and so on. It also allows you to export the results to a variety of formats including CSV and Google-compatible XML sitemaps. It also has template-based HTML report generation engine, that allows you to make completely custom report.

While AnalogX LinkExaminer provides more information about the links than the previously mentioned Xenu’s Link Sleuth, the latter is more configurable than LinkExaminer. Link Sleuth had URL filters, was able to scan JavaScript, external stylesheet and applets, had control over depth of scan etc which are missing in LinkExaminer.

The mild edge that LinkExaminer has over Link Sleuth is due to its extensive report. The SEO analysis too is pretty basic limited to checking existence of keywords, description, and length of the title and description. Nonetheless, it’s a good tool to have in your webmasters’ arsenal.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Subsonic – Streaming music from your PC

Subsonic is a free, web-based music streaming server for your personal computer that lets you share your music with friends, or to listen to your own collection while at work. Subsonic instantly transforms your PC into a music hub. You can access your entire music collection from anywhere on the Internet by just pointing the browser to your computer. Subsonic is vastly more powerful than the previously mentioned Sockso, another free streaming music server software.

What makes Subsonic a great media server?

Adding music is so simple. If you keep all your music on a separate partition, which most people do, all you have do is specify that hard drive partition. In a snap, your entire music collection will get added, even if it’s stored in folders several levels deep. Further, it will organize and display the collection alphabetically. What’s more? When you load an album or several albums into the player, Subsonic will automatically retrieve the album cover art from the Internet.


View the demo here.

You can create as many users as you want and assign different privileges to them So some users might be able to download music files while others might only listen. You can also limit the bitrate and album cover image size for individual users.


Subsonic allows you to choose between three different kinds of players – an integrated Flash player, an external media player with the playlist controlled by the Subsonic server and an external media player but with the playlist controlled by the player rather than the server. These settings too can be applied to different users.

Subsonic also supports on-the-fly transcoding that enables streaming of media that would normally not be streamable. The transcoding doesn't require any disk usage. The transcoding is however done by third-party programs which must be installed separately.

Subsonic also comes with an integrated Podcast receiver, and an internet TV and radio stations manager.

Other notable features:

  • Supports a wide range of music formats including WMA, FLAC, APE, Musepack, WavPack, Shorten and OptimFROG
  • Has an inbuilt text search engine to help you find your favorite tracks. (Doesn’t work right)
  • Assign ratings and comments to albums
  • Common playlist features such as add, remove, rearrange, repeat, shuffle, undo, save, load.
  • Playlists can be saved and used as Podcasts.
  • Automatically register what you're playing on, using the built-in Audioscrobbling support.
  • Read album reviews and more at Wikipedia, Google Music and allmusic.
  • It’s open source.

Subsonic is based on Java and hence runs on most platforms, including Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Add custom locations to Windows Open/Save dialog box with Melloware PlacesBar Editor

How many of you actually use the buttons on the left hand pane of Windows Open and Save dialog boxes, also called the Places bar? Do you remember those buttons? Open the dialog box now and look. It has 5 buttons for 5 different locations to save or open your files – Recent files, Desktop, My documents, My Computer and My Network places. But except ‘My documents’ and ‘Desktop’, the rest are hardly of any use.


The good news is, you can customize the Places bar using a software called Melloware PlacesBar Editor. (I use another software called FlashFolder to add my own folders and drives to open/save boxes). With PlacesBar Editor you can easily customize the standard Windows Open/Save dialog box and replace the existing shortcuts with your most frequently used folders to the Places bar. This enables you to access your folders in just one click, instead of having to browse the whole hard disk every time you want to open or save a file. It’s easier, faster and more productive.


PlacesBar Editor also lets you customize the open/save dialog box of MS Office which is different from the standard Windows open/save dialog box, and allows you to add 5 more custom locations apart from the 5 default ones.

Whenever you want, you can revert back to the default locations.

Another 25 beautiful Windows XP themes

Even though Windows XP is almost a decade old, themes for this OS hasn’t stopped appearing. Every week a couple of new themes are released into the Internet which means that there are a few good thousands of free Windows XP themes floating around the web.

About a year ago I made a small compilation of XP themes. Here is another list with a fresh new collection. Enjoy!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lazarus for Firefox saves and recovers typed data in forms

There have been times when you spend great amount of time patiently filling an online form or carefully typing a well thought reply on a blog or discussion board, and when you click the submit button the connection goes dead and the data couldn’t be sent. You hit the back button to realize with horror that all the typed data is gone, lost for ever. That is why you must need Lazarus.

Lazarus Form Recovery is an addon for Firefox that automatically saves everything as you type in online forms allowing you to safely recover your lost work in the event of server timeouts, network issues, browser crashes, power failures, and all the other things that can go wrong while you're entering forms, editing content, or writing webmail.


If the server timeouts or the browser crashes, right-click inside a text box you have just filled before the crash and select "Recover form" from the menu to recover the lost text.

Lazarus works on web forms, WYSIWYG editors and AJAXified forms and securely saves your data with 2048-bit RSA and 256-bit AES hybrid encryption. Lazarus also includes search functionality so you can recover text even if you can no longer find the original form you entered it into. That’s means that every reply, message, and mail you have ever typed is stored by Lazarus and can be recovered at any time you want. That’s pretty cool.

wikiAlarm sends email alerts when your Wikipedia pages are edited

Anybody who contributes to Wikipedia wishes to keep track of the articles they contribute to, watching for changes and edits. Wikipedia has a feature called “Watchlist” that allows a user to do so. A logged user can add pages to their watchlist and see any changes made to these during a given time period. But the problem with watchlist is that there is no notification system, and so you have to keep checking the watchlist from time to time.


wikiAlarm is a new online service that comes really handy. It allows you to keep track of up to 5 Wikipedia pages and any changes or edits made to these pages will be notified to you via email. wikiAlarm monitors the watched pages every hour and email updates are sent as soon as a change is detected. So at worst you will learn about the edit an hour late. Time is vital because if any anonymous user vandalizes your pages you would want it restored as soon as possible. If the inaccurate information isn’t removed quickly it can be quoted by journalists and bloggers leading to the serious problem of Wiki Circularity.

This is what happens in Wiki Circularity

  • A competitor or upset former customer edits your Wikipedia page to say something bad about your company.
  • Left unedited for a few weeks the information is picked up by a lazy blogger or journalist doing research for a story.
  • The story then appears on a well known blog or website & the author doesn’t mention they researched the story on Wikipedia
  • When you find the inaccurate article and try to edit the information on Wikipedia you find that the Wiki moderators refuse to remove it
  • To add insult to injury the Wikipedia page is updated to include a link referencing the inaccurate blog or newspaper article

Wiki Circularity is real and it happens often than you think.

wikiAlarm can send you email notification containing full information on the changes as well as the IP address of the person making the changes. You can even add multiple email addresses to be notified. I’m not sure why the number of watched pages is restricted to only 5 particularly since there is no mention of any Pro or paid plans where you can increase the limit. Besides, their home page say “unlimited pages”.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mz Cpu Accelerator automatically increases priority of active applications

The priority level of a running process determines how much precedence or importance the processor gives to the requests from the said process for processor time. By default all applications and processes are assigned the same level of priority, the “normal” level. A process with a priority higher than normal is allocated more CPU cycles than those with lower priority.

Sometimes when all applications are running at the same priority and the number of running applications is high, the system may becomes sluggish because the CPU has to respond to each application equally irrespective of which applications you are currently working on. Mz Cpu Accelerator is a program that solves this issue by automatically increasing the priority of the active window. The result is that the applications you are currently working on gets more CPU “attention” and hence becomes more responsive.


The priority of an applications can also be changed manually using applications such as PowerMenu or assigned rules using Process Lasso. But once you activate Mz Cpu Accelerator, it automatically changes the priority of the active window to high. Minimize the active window or switch to another window and the priority is instantly changed.

The program also has an exclusion list using which you can exclude certain programs from this priority toggling.

Additionally, Mz Cpu Accelerator is capable of assigning processor affinity to any process. As long as Mz Cpu Accelerator is running and the option is activated, the processor affinity for that particular process is permanent.

One drawback of automatically switching priority of applications could be that if the active window somehow freezes, you can have a very hard time unfreezing it.

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