Monday, June 29, 2009

Tribler, a decentralized BitTorrent client

Tribler is a new, open source BitTorrent client developed by researchers from several European universities and Harvard that provides completely decentralized search capabilities, making it the first true Peer-2-Peer BitTorrent client ever. Tribler makes torrent tracker sites like PirateBay, Mininova and others redundant because the .torrent files can now be hosted among other peers.

In torrent networks, file transfer has always been decentralized but they still require central servers like PirateBay to host the tracker, the .torrent file. But with Tribler this is not required. Using a new P2P protocol called BuddyCast, Tribler enables user to share torrent files directly among peers without the need of a tracker, just like traditional P2P software like Limewire and Ares work.

tribler

The application looks slick and comes with a video player, that you can use to play torrent video files which is awesome. You can also use it to search content from video sites like YouTube and LiveLeak. However, the client itself is rather bare bone. Unlike BitTorrent clients like uTorrent, Tribler offers almost no information about the files being downloaded, their content, their sources etc. It was a big turn down.

Another downside of this application is that the content is limited, as the files come only from the Tribler users.

The technology is interesting and something we might eventually need in future with major torrent sites being dragged to the court. Unfortunately it isn’t going to work, not unless they improve the client.

[via Torrent Freak]

PowerSlave – Different power schemes for different times

Windows Power Management is a tool that enables the user to configure how long the computer should wait for user input (key press, mouse movement etc) before shutting down power consuming peripherals like monitor, hard disk etc. The idea is to save power, save money and save battery in laptops.

The power management feature, though quite useful very few people actually use it. Most people are unaware of it while others simply don’t care. The rest who care have only one power scheme to choose from. So usually we select one, adjust it according to our needs and forget about it.

Recently I came across a tool on ShellCity that helps extend the usability of the Windows power management tool by enabling you to choose two different power schemes for day and night time. The free tool PowerSlave allows you to define your day start time and end time. It then lets the user choose one power scheme that will be used during the day and a second power scheme that will be used at night.

powerslave

PowerSlave is pretty handy for PCs that tend to remain on all throughout the night. However, the application is too simple. I would like to see an option to choose different schemes for different weekdays. That would make it more useful.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nokia Sports Tracker – a workout tracker and diary

Nokia Sports Tracker is a workout diary application for GPS enabled Nokia devices such as the N and E series and other compatible Nokia phones, which is a must have for anyone serious in fitness and works out.

Using the built in GPS device in your phone (or external GPS device), Sports Tracker records your run, walk or cycle including the distance covered, your position, the maximum, minimum and average speed during the workout, calories burned etc, in real time. The information can then be uploaded to their web service and the records maintained in an online diary. It plots your route on a map and also generates detailed graph showing your speed, altitude, heart beat (if you are wearing a heart-beat tracking device) etc. It’s also possible to share your personal records with other members of the community.

nokia-sports-tracker

Additionally, if you take photos with your camera along the way it logs where you took them and uploads them. If you listen to music during the jog, you can record it and upload these too.

Nokia Sports Tracker is a free application.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

LinuX-gamers, a Linux Live DVD of games

Not all Linux distributions contain the same stuff, not linux-gamers at least. This Linux live DVD is exclusively for gaming. The project has been around for some time, and just a few days ago they released their latest version 0.9.5.

The live DVD comes packed with a total of 34 games of various types, from role playing to first person shooter. Users can play the games directly from the Live DVD without having to install anything on their computers. Linux-gamers is based on Arch Linux.

Earlier editions of this distribution had a single version, but now three more variations has been introduced.

  1. Lite ISO: Small CD image (700MB) containing a limited games selection suitable for children and older computers.
  2. Lite USB: Same games selection as the Lite ISO version but for USB keys and USB sticks (requires minimum of 1GB USB device).
  3. Big ISO: Big DVD image (4.7GB) containing the full games selection for adults and more recent computers.
  4. Big USB: Contains full games selection as per Big ISO. Meant for USB sticks of at least 5GB capacity.

 linux-gamers

Linux-gamers live DVD requires an x86 architecture equivalent computer with atleast 512 MB memory and graphics card with 3D acceleration. The DVD includes NVIDIA drivers for GeForce2 MX up to GeForce GTX 295 and ATI driver for Radeon HD 2400 up to Radeon HD 4890.

Here is the list of games included:

· Armagetron Advanced
· AstroMenace
· Blobby Volley
· Chromium B.S.U.
· Extreme Tux Racer
· FooBillard
· Frozen Bubble
· Hedgewars
· LBreakout2
· Pingus
· Quadra
· Secret Maryo Chronicles
· Teeworlds
· World of Goo Demo
· XMoto
· Battle Tanks
· Frets On Fire
· Glest
· Maniadrive
· Neverball
· Neverputt
· Nexuiz
· OpenLieroX
· Sauerbraten
· Scorched 3D
· SuperTuxKart
· TORCS
· Tremulous
· Urban Terror
· Warsow
· Warzone 2100
· Battle for Wesnoth
· Widelands
· World of Padman

Friday, June 26, 2009

How to make Word documents read only, selectively editable or password protected

A lot of users prefer PDF documents over Word documents because they are read-only by nature, and hence tamper proof. But did you know that there are all kinds of security features built into Microsoft Word, and that it allows creation of Word documents that prevent users from editing it either completely or partially? That feature exist since Microsoft Word 2003 and an extra feature was introduced in Word 2007.

Let’s find out how to do it.

Doing it in Word 2003

  1. Open the document you want to make read only.
  2. From the Tools menu select Protect Document (you never noticed it, right?)
    word2003-protect 
  3. word2003-protect2A sidebar will appear on the right with “Protect Document” options.
  4. Check the box under “Editing restrictions”. Make sure the drop down menu is selected as “read only”.
  5. Click the button “Yes, start enforcing protection” and you will prompted for a password.
  6. Enter the password and save the document.

The document is now read-only. Users can still open and read the document without knowing the password. The password is required only if you want to edit the document. For this, you have to click on “Stop Protection”, that shows up at the bottom of the sidebar when you open such a protected document, and type the correct password.

Sometimes it may happen that you might need to make certain regions of the document editable. For example, you might issue a form that you need to protect but still enable users to type their names into it before printing.

That’s possible by checking the box against “Everyone”, under the section “Exceptions (optional)” as in the screenshot above. Then highlight the regions of the document which you want to make editable. Now click on “Yes, start enforcing protection”.

word-protected

This time the document is read-only except the highlighted region. This region is shown with a yellow background.

Doing it in Word 2007

Protecting a document in Word 2007 involves the same steps as in Word 2003, except that the “Protect Document” option is under the “Review” tab in the ribbon.

word2007-protect

I also mentioned about an extra feature in Word 2007. This feature is known as marking a document “final”, and it provides temporary read-only protection to a document to prevent accidental deletion or changes.

To mark a document final, click on the orb and select “Mark as Final” under Prepare sub menu. Click OK to make it final. The document now cannot be edited. To enable write mode, once again click on “Mark as Final”.

word2007-markfinal

Password Protecting Word Documents

This option can be found in another section, and it’s the same in both Word 2003 and Word 2007.

When you click on Save or Save as, look for an item called “Tools” in the save dialog box. Click it to reveal a drop down menu. From it choose “Security Options”.

word-password

Here you can set your password, also access the protect features and further, choose to remove personal information (meta data) from the document before saving.

Also see: Hide sensitive data in Word documents with Redaction

Thursday, June 25, 2009

VDrift - Open source, 3D racing simulator

VDrift is a cross-platform, open source, drift racing simulation game released under the GPL and available for Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X and Windows.

VDrift features over 20 real world tracks and almost 30 cars to choose from. The game has a very realistic physics and the tracks, scenery and terrain modeled in acceptable details. The game is intended to run on slower machines with GeForce 2 and later, so you can’t compare the graphics with today’s games. But the effort put by the developers on a non-profit project like VDrift is admirable.

The game includes such basic features like different camera modes, replays, customizable controls, automatic shifting, traction control, anti-lock braking etc. It supports joysticks and gamepad and also has an experimental force feedback feature.

vdrift1 vdrift2  vdrift4 vdrift3 vdrift5 vdrift6

I haven’t played it yet but from the screenshots the game looks promising.

Editra, a new open source text editor

If you feel that Notepad++ or it’s numerous equivalent has too many functions you never use, you can try Editra, an open source, multi-platform text editor that “focuses on creating an easy-to-use interface and features that aid in code development.”

Currently this application supports basic auto completion and syntax highlighting for more than 60 languages. There is also a style editor that allows the user to customize the syntax highlighting color, or choose from one of the several color schemes available.

editra

One handy feature of Editra is the availability of plugins. There are only a handful of them right now like calculator, code browser, CSS optimizer etc.

Key Features:
· Auto-Completion (Python)
· Auto-Indent
· Built-in Plugin Downloader/Installer
· Clipboard history
· Code Folding
· Code to Html/LaTeX Generation
· Open files by drag and drop
· Automatic file backup option to periodically backup buffer contents
· Search/Replace in selection option to find dialog
· Highlight Style Editor
· Line Bookmarking
· Line Edit Commands (Join, Transpose, ect...)
· Multilingual Interface
· Syntax Highlighting (60+ Languages)
· Tabbed Windows
· Word Wrap

Editra is still in alpha development stage.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

MouseShade puts a virtual spotlight around the mouse pointer

One of the most important aspect of doing a presentation or demo is to be able to guide the audience to look at a particular area of the screen. Most people use long canes or laser pointers to point at areas on the screen. MouseShade is a small tool for Windows that eliminates the need for such objects.

When MouseShade is turned on, it dims the screen and puts a spotlight on the area around the mouse pointer, easily guiding the audiences attention to the area of interest. The shape of the spotlight, the color of the shade and the opacity of the shade can all be varied by accessing a pop up menu from the icon in the System tray, simply by right clicking. The application can be quickly hidden giving a full view of the desktop and activated again from the  system tray menu.

mouseshade-screen 

There are three available shapes – circle, rectangle and rounded corner rectangle. The transparency of the shaded area has three predefined levels though I would have preferred a continuous sliding scale. There are 6 different colors for the dimmed screen, but only the black looks good and unusable.

mouseshade2

The program automatically saves all options when it’s closed.

MouseShade is not only useful for giving presentation, but it can be also used for taking great screenshots.

NetDrive maps remote FTP drives as local drives

FTP clients are so cumbersome to use. A tiny window to browse files on your FTP server and another tiny window to browse files on your local hard drive. It has limited file manipulation options and you can’t even open multiple windows to transfer files from multiple drives. It’s like using a tiny cell phone.

An easier way to work with remote FTP drives is to mount them as local drives on your computer. This can be done using a free tool called NetDrive.

netdrive

Creating and account and logging in is just like any FTP client. But once you get connected, the remote FTP drive will be automatically mapped under an available drive letter as a local drive. Now you can perform any file operation on it just like on a local drive. Drag files from one explorer window to another to quickly transfer files between the FTP drive and your computer. Double click on executable on the remote drive to execute them and even play video and audio files directly from it. See, it’s just like a local drive?

The only disadvantage is that if the remote FTP server runs on Linux, you cannot change the read/write/execute file permission of files the way you can do with an FTP client, since such permission settings are not available under Windows explorer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

5 short links for today #8

vocalgrabber 1. VocabGrabber is a small utility to analyze your writing, vocabulary and how frequently you use certain words. Insert any text (up to 200000 characters) and generate lists of the words used and their frequency. View as a list or tag cloud. You can further filter the words based on 7 subject areas (Arts & Literature, Geography, Math, People, Science, Social Studies, Vocabulary).

ie8-logo 2. How to slip stream Internet Explorer 8 to Windows installation discs: A downloadable PDF guide from Microsoft. Supported OS - Windows Server 2003 SP2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows XP.

psd-logo 3. How to reduce PSD files size: Add a white filled layer on the top of your PSD file and save it to achieve a 20% size reduction. Then zip it to reduce the file size to a massive 85%. Nice trick.

dustme-selector 4. Dust-Me Selectors: A Firefox addon created by SitePoint.com that helps find unused CSS selectors on the current page. It extracts all the selectors from all the stylesheets on the page you're viewing, then analyzes that page to see which of those selectors are not used. The data is then stored so that when testing subsequent pages, selectors can be crossed off the list as they're encountered. A great tool to clean up your stylesheets.

chrome-channel 5. Google Chrome’s YouTube Channel: Some time back Google started airing Chrome ads on TV. Did you know that now there are 55 Chrome-only videos on YouTube?

CodySafe, another start menu for USB drives

Remember the 3 start menu tools for USB flash drives? There is another one I totally forgot to add. It’s called CodySafe.

CodySafe’s menu looks like another Windows Vista start menu, the only difference is it opens on the right side of the taskbar near the system tray. Like any of the previously mentioned tools, CodySafe allows you to add shortcuts to applications, files and folders in your portable drive to the menu and organize them into categories. It also supports keyboard hotkeys.

codysafe

Apart from the usual stuff, CodySafe carries a drive scanner and an auto-run prevention utility. The drive scanner can automatically scan and fix drive errors or bad sectors, and also prevents applications from launching itself automatically through the autorun.inf files which is often done by viruses.

CodySafe also lets the user create a ‘contact card’ containing the user’s name, address, phone number and other contact details and save it as a text, HTML or image file in the portable drive. The purpose of this is to allow the drive’s finder to locate the owner incase he or she loses it. That’s a nice afterthought, but not as intuitive as this trick.

Advanced Dork brings advanced Google search to Firefox

The built in Google search that you can access from Firefox’s context menu by highlighting a word on a page is a basic search. But you must be aware that Google has plenty of advanced search operators that can help you filter search results. For example, intext:, intitle:, inurl: etc.

Advanced Dork is an addon for Firefox that enables you to search Google using these advanced search operators, directly from the context menu. Simply highlight the word you want to search, select Advanced Dork and choose from over 15 advanced Google operators.

 advanced-dork 

Advanced Dork has some additional options that can be turned on in the Options menu. Right click anywhere on the page with no text selected to search the current page’s HTML title with the Google's “intitle” Operator, and the current page’s HTML ALT tags using the “allintext” Operator.

advanced-dork2

Again, right clicking on a link provides you more options under the Advanced Dork item. You are able to search the link using “site:”. “link:” and “cache:” operators. These operators are often useful for webmasters for SEO purposes. You can also access these operators by right-clicking on the address bar.

advanced-dork3

Vey useful addon if you frequently use advanced operators. Even if you have never used advanced operators, now you will.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

[Sunday Treats] The Danish Poet – Short animation movie

The Danish Poet is a short animation movie by Torill Kove and narrated by Liv Ullmann, that won the 2007 Academy Awards for the Best Short Subject Animation. 

Movie Synopsis:
Can we trace the chain of events that leads to our own birth? Is our existence just coincidence? Do little things matter?

The narrator of The Danish Poet considers these questions as we follow Kasper, a poet whose creative well has run dry, on a holiday to Norway to meet the famous writer, Sigrid Undset. As Kasper's quest for inspiration unfolds, it appears that a spell of bad weather, an angry dog, slippery barn planks, a careless postman, hungry goats and other seemingly unrelated factors might play important roles in the big scheme of things after all.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Weekend Games: Cargo Bridge

For the last one hour I have been playing a game called Cargo Bridge. It’s one of those games that can seriously hamper your productivity. The aim of the game is to build a bridge sturdy enough to allow workers transport several cargoes across a valley.

 cargo-bridge1

You have in your hand a limited amount of cash which you have to use to buy wood for constructing the bridge. First you have to design the bridge on a blueprint while keeping an eye on your funds. Take a look around the terrain, because sometimes you have to build multiple bridges. After the bridge or bridges has been built, you have to test it to see whether it can take the load. If it manages to hold on, you win the level and proceed to even more challenging jobs. If the bridge collapse, you start designing again.

cargo-bridge2

The good thing is, the game can be downloaded to play offline. I can assure you, you will enjoy playing this as much as I did.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Unattended software installation with Windows Post-Install Wizard

After every Windows reinstall an average user spends several long hours remembering what applications they had installed, and then re-installing each one of them, one after the other, individually and with a couple of reboots between them. It’s enough to drive any people insane. That’s why projects such as nLite, vLite, TGUP etc thrive.

But why slipstream all your software into the Windows installation CD and make it bloated? Instead, why not make a separate installation media which installs all your favorite software at one go. This is what Windows Post-Install Wizard (WPI) can do.

WPI

The initial configuration of WPI can be rather time consuming, but this will payoff later. To add applications to WPI, you have to copy the installers to the directory “Installer” and then use WPI’s interface to configure the application - add silent switches, categories, specify scripts to run, etc. After you are done, burn the entire directory structure on a CD or DVD. Optionally you can choose to integrate the whole thing into Windows installation media using applications such as nLite or vlite, or even make the disc bootable. 

Unlike tools such as nLite, WPI offers a big advantage. When you launch the WPI created disc after a fresh Windows install, you can choose from the list which applications you want to install. This means that you can include multiple software installers on the disc and only install those which you want, something like in a Linux distribution. Can’t decide between Avast or Avira Antivir? Include both and also throw in AVG. With WPI the only factor that limits the number of applications you can add is the size of the disc. 

The interface of WPI is also fully configurable, and it can even play your preferred music while the installation is on.

gMote brings mouse gestures to Windows

We use shortcuts all the time in the form of keyboard hotkeys and often mouse gestures in browsers like Opera or Firefox. While Windows has plenty of built in keyboard shortcuts, to enable mouse gesture we have to use third party tools such as gMote, an excellent mouse gesture program for Windows.

gMote lets you configure your own set of mouse gesture, by drawing them on a canvas and recording the gesture. Then you can assign an action to the gesture which can be anything from launching programs, files, opening website, controlling the media player, minimizing/maximizing windows, copy/paste and even simulate a keyboard combination press.

gmote

gmote-actions

Another useful feature is the ability to create multiple sets of mouse gestures. For instance, you can create a set of gestures for opening different web URLs and use this set only when you are browsing. This gives you the possibility to assign the same gesture to perform different tasks under different situations.

To prevent accidentally making a mouse gesture, you can configure the application to accept gestures only when you press the CTRL key or CTRL+SHIFT key, or middle mouse and so on. By default the gesture is performed using the right mouse button.

There is another option called Timeout which when enabled will ignore the gesture if you don’t move the pointer soon after pressing keyboard button (SHIFT/CTRL), which makes it possible to perform the same gestures like dragging window around without triggering gMote.

Here is a video demonstration of the program.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday Games: Little Wheel

Who said only weekends are fun? Take a break and play Little Wheel.

Little Wheel is classy point and click flash game that takes you to a time when the world was full of living robots. One day a freak accident occurred in the main power generator and it shut off. Without a source of power the robots stopped moving, trains stopped running, the world fell into a deep sleep.

little-wheel

10,000 years later a thunder storm revives a single robot. Now it’s his job to bring life back into the world and you have to help him find his way to the power station. The game requires you to click on highlighted areas and solve simple puzzles or perform small tasks. The game play is very simple and the graphics superb. It also has a nice touch of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed playing it. My only regret is the game is too short.

DoubleDesktop doubles the width of the desktop

Sometimes one desktop isn’t enough. We then use virtual desktop programs. At it’s core, DoubleDesktop too is a virtual desktop manager, but it employs a different approach.

Unlike traditional virtual desktop managers, DoubleDesktop doesn’t create separate multiple virtual desktops, it just doubles the width of the desktop. The program installs a small arrow icon on Windows Tray. Clicking on that icon you can switch between "left" and "right" parts of the desktop. From the users point of view it looks and works the same like any virtual desktop manager. But you will notice the difference when you drag a window beyond the right or left edge of the screen and then switch the desktop. You will find that the other half of window appears on the second desktop. It’s like having a really wide desktop that has to be switched from one part to the other.

doubledesktop

The start menu button, the system tray and desktop icons however do not change position.

The disadvantage is you get only two virtual desktops while most other programs give you at least 4. But DoubleDesktop is extremely light on resources.

Backup any files to email with Backup To EMail

One of the most secure places to backup copies of documents, images and even media files is your email account. The idea is simple: if you need to store anything online so that they can be accessed later, just mail it to yourself. After all Gmail gives you more than 7 GB of free space and Yahoo promises you unlimited!

Backup to Email is a free software that makes it possible to send any file to an email account that gives SMTP access, right from Windows context menu. Just right click on the file or files and choose ‘Backup to Email’ to automatically mail yourself with a copy of the file as attachment. Of course, you have to configure your mail account on the program before you can do that. It’s just like setting up the outgoing mail options in an email program. Backup to Email even automatically splits any files larger than 10 MB to keep it within the attachment size limit.

backuptoemail-menu 

backuptoemail 

What’s more? Like any backup tool it also has a scheduler.

The Pro version of Backup to Email offers additional option of zipping the file before mailing and the ability to customize the subject line and the sender address of the mails.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DoubleTwist – Manage, view and sync your media files across all devices

DoubleTwist is a new, free media manager for Windows and Mac that simplifies media management, syncing with portable devices and sharing.

DoubleTwist is capable of handling a large number of devices including BlackBerry, iPhone, iPod, G1 and Android phones, Nokia N and E series phones, Sony PSP, most digital cameras etc etc.

doubletwist

Transferring media files like pictures, music and videos is as simple as dragging and dropping to the device. Once you hook up your phone or device to your PC, doubleTwist automatically recognizes it and the device shows up inside the program. Click the “Photos,” “Music,” and “Video” tabs to configure which items you want to sync with your device and leave the rest to this program. doubleTwist automatically converts the files to the appropriate format before moving them to the device. 

DoubleTwist includes a bit of social networking into the program. It’s mandatory to register before you can use this application. This makes it easy to share files among all doubleTwist users. Even if your friends and family do not use doubleTwist you can still send them files. The receiver can view the sent items by following an email link to the uploaded content on their server. Now obviously there will be some restrictions on the file size since you will using their resources and bandwidth. Videos are restricted to 10 minutes, audios to 90 minutes and images to a pretty crappy 800x600 resolution.

With doubleTwist you can also upload videos to YouTube and images to Flickr with the click of a button. Here is one cool feature - you can save YouTube videos to your hard disk by simply dragging the URL of the video from the browser straight to your library.

DoubleTwist is a good application for syncing and transferring files between the computer and the device. However, it’s a big memory hog. Expect anything close to 200 MB when this application is running.

5 Gmail Notifiers to keep tab of your Gmail messages

It’s funny how more than one application can have the same exact name and still exist in perfect harmony without their respective owners suing each other, especially since the original Gmail Notifier was from Google themselves. Whatever be the reasons, it sure leave us with a handful of different options. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Monday, June 15, 2009

3 tools to add a start menu to USB flash drives

Menus are a convenient way to access applications on a drive or computer, and they also help in organizing the stuff. Portable application suites often come with such start menus or program launchers to access the programs within the pack. If you do not use such application packs but still want to use a start menu to locate and search files on your flash drive, here are three free programs to choose from.

1. PStart is a simple tray tool that enables the user to add program and file shortcuts to it. PStart can be used as a program launcher for both Windows as well as a portable drive, but since there are so many advanced program launchers for Windows, the only proper use for PStart will be as a portable drive application launcher.

pstart-main pstart-menu 

Unlike Windows shortcuts, PStart uses relative paths, when installed as a portable application. So it doesn’t matter what drive letter your USB drive gets, it will work on all computers. This means you can also use PStart to start applications you burn to a CD.

PStart also has a search feature and a handy note taking tool to quickly jot down important data. It’s the simplest start menu you can get.

2. AStart is another start menu application that resembles PStart, but is more advanced. For instance it has crash recovery, maintains a list of recently used programs, can import start menu list from winPenPack Launcher and also PStart.

Adding shortcuts to AStart is easy. You can either add them manually or scan a folder or directory for files of a certain type and add them automatically to the launcher. After you scan the folders and add items to your list and change their properties, you can save your work by exporting the settings to a XML file. AStart also features a search tool.

asuite2 asuite-menu 

AStart enables you to customize each application, file, folder or URL you add to the menu. You can set certain programs to auto execute every time the flash drive is inserted into a computer, assign hotkeys for applications, configure window state (normal, maximized, minimized), prevent it from showing up in the recent programs list and so on.

AStart’s menu can also be set to appear as a simple window similar to PStart or mimic the Windows start menu.

NOTE: If you using Nod32 Anti-virus, you might get a false virus warning. Disable the AV before you download the application. 

3. SyMenu is the third tool and the best among the three.

To add programs to the menu, simply drag and drop files, folders and applications into the configuration window and SyMenu will automatically populate the correct path and name of the application. It’s search-as-you-type tool makes it easy to find your desired files. This search box can even integrate the searching result list with items configured on host PC Windows Start Menu. In this way you can access programs installed on the host PC as well as on your pen drive from a single location - the Search bar.

 symenu

SyMenu has a large number of advanced features that allows you to manipulate how the portable applications behave or run. For example, you can configure applications to be launched automatically when you insert the pen drive into a computer, and even with a custom interval between each others. You can also force application to run in single instances.

Another very useful feature of SyMenu is the Extension manager. All Windows PCs have different programs associated with different file extensions. So when you try to open a file, say a PDF file, present on your pen drive on a host PC, the file will be opened by the application configured to open PDF files on the host PC. Suppose on this PC, the program is Adobe Reader. But you wish to open PDF files on say Foxit Reader. Using Extension manager you can override file association on a host PC to your custom ones so that on matter on which PC you are connected to, your PDF files will always open on Foxit. (more screenshots in original review)

Verdict: SyMenu wins hands down when compared to PStart or AStart, as far as extra features are concerned. But if you stick to the basics, both of them are quite good and simple. I would still recommend SyMenu, but the choice is of course, yours.

P.S: Oops, there is another one - 4. Codysafe.

Autorun Eater monitors and deletes suspicious autorun.inf files

Many viruses, malwares and other malicious programs execute themselves by way of autorun.inf files. These autorun files are present at the root of the drives and are used to automatically launch applications whenever these drives are accessed. Quite naturally the easiest way to spread, infect and re-infect a computer is to add the virus to the autorun.inf file.

On Instant Fundas we have covered how we could avoid catching viruses from infected USB drives by using programs such as USB Firewall and iKill that kills the autorun file before it could be executed. But these programs only monitor autorun.inf files on external USB drives. What about the autorun files that might be present on your hard drives? For that we have Autorun Eater.

autorun-eater

Autorun Eater is a free tool that automatically monitors and removes suspicious autorun.inf files found in the root of all drives from C to Z, even before you access the drive. Whenever it detects any suspicious strings in the file it flashes a warning window.

The user is then required to act – either delete the autorun file or ignore the warning if the program wanting to execute is legitimate. Remember that Autorun Eater is not an anti-virus application and cannot differentiate between the good and bad programs. That’s for the user to decide.

Autorun Eater can remove autorun.inf on external flash drives as well. The only drives Autorun Eater is non-functional are read only media drives like optical drives and floppy drives.

Apart for autorun protection, the program includes 3 registry fixing tools. Many times malwares will disable certain important functions like the Task Manager, Regedit and Folder Options. You can use the Registry fix tool to fix these 3 functions.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

5 short links for today #7

morguefile 1. MorgueFile: Despite the morbid and peculiar file name, MorgueFile is a good free stock photo website. It functions both as a photo sharing site where photographers can create portfolios to share their work, as well as a site where you can get royalty free images for your projects. I found their collection a lot better than most other free photo sites.

2. Bing: New Features Relevant to Webmasters, a PDF whitepaper from Microsoft discussing key new features of the search engine Bing that are relevant to webmasters as well as search engine optimization (SEO) considerations needed for Bing. Just some basic information.

cgdigg 3. CGDigg: A Digg type social news website for CG and animation news. It’s a new startup and doesn’t have too many active users but a good source for CG related news and articles.

kuler 4. Adobe Kuler: A web application for generating inspiring color themes for various web projects. With Kuler you can experiment quickly with color variations and browse thousands of themes from the Kuler community. A nice tool for graphics designers.

5. LiveTyping: Create animated texts for posting in blogs or forums, like this:

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Useless? Yeah!

DelayedExec improves Windows startup by delaying startup programs

Every time you start Windows your computer becomes unresponsive for several seconds. This is the time when all your startup programs are loading, and because there is no order in the process a complete chaos ensues as each application tries to access memory and CPU resources at the same time. Depending on how many applications are configured to startup along with Windows and how resource intensive these applications are, the wait might extend up to several minutes. A common solution is to reduce the number of startup programs.

But a better solution comes in the way of yet another startup program – DelayedExec. This program allows the user to move all applications from startup to being run in a queue in a timely manner, leaving a less stressful computer upon startup.

delayExecSnap

Using this program, the user can arrange the startup applications in a queue and introduce a delay between each application launch. This enables the user to add all his or her favorite application to startup and at the same time avoid the wait users are forced to go through on each login. 

DelayedExec however cannot prevent Windows services and some hardware locking up the system.

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