A hue and cry was raised this week when Mohamed Hassan, founder of security consultancy NetSec, accused Samsung of secretly installing keyloggers on their laptops after he discovered StarLogger, a commercial keylogger, on two newly purchased Samsung laptops. It was rumored that a Samsung representative confirmed that Samsung does installs keyloggers to monitor performance of the machine and find out how it was used. F-secure has now confirmed that the detection of keyloggers on Samsung laptops was just a false alarm.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Google Font Directory offers web designers a variety of stylish fonts that they can include on their websites and web applications without paying for commercial font hosting services like Typekit.
Network World has reported that Samsung has been installing keyloggers in their laptops to monitor the performance of the machine and gather usage data without user consent. The explosive revelation that has the potential to damage Samsung’s reputation beyond repair came from one Mohamed Hassan who discovered keyloggers installed in two different Samsung laptops.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Firefox 4 no longer displays the Menu Bar by default. Instead, there is an “App Menu Button” at the top with Firefox written across it, clicking on which reveals a menu that gives you access to different tools and areas on Firefox. There is the Add-on manager, Bookmarks and History as before. The contents of the View menu is changed and now called Options, and Web Developer tools made prominent. But where is the all important Tools menu?
Wondershare, whose software we have written about and gave away a number of times in the past, has organized a giveaway on the occasion of April Fools’ Day. To celebrate the day on which we play harmless jokes and pranks on our friends, Wondershare is giving away free license keys for Wondershare iMate, discount coupons and Amazon gift cards to anybody who is interested. Wondershare has assured us, this is not a prank.
The new breed of web browsers include a feature called Geolocation that enables websites to tap into the new geolocation API in HTML5 to detect your geographic location by looking up your IP address. This is often used by websites to deliver location specific services. Google use geolocation in their search engine, and so does Bing. Facebook, Twitter and a crop of location based services such as Foursquare makes extensive use of geo-location.
Amazon has just launched a free cloud storage service called Cloud Drive along with Cloud Player that allows customers to use Amazon’s online storage service to stream music to any desktop computer and/or mobile device.
If you haven’t already heard, the New York Times website has introduced a paywall that limits visitors to only 20 articles per month. After the quota is over, visitors are shown a polite message asking them to subscribe or return back next month.
Monday, March 28, 2011
WebReader is an Adobe Air based Google Reader client for the desktop designed to facilitate easy reading and management of Google Reader subscription. On WebReader you can perform most of the tasks that is available in Google Reader such as add new feeds, rename feeds, folder, star items on feed, search feeds, view recommended items etc. You can also perform additional tasks like switch to list view from folder view and have access to a number of different reading modes which are not available on Google Reader.
Facebook for Google Chrome extension is a wonderful way to stay connected to your Facebook account at all times, no matter which website you are on. The extension adds a Facebook button to the browser’s toolbar from which you can access your Facebook news feed, your Wall, notifications, inbox and even post new updates. All this without opening the Facebook website.
Previously I wrote about a freeware tool that shows RAM usage in use in Windows 7 taskbar. The creator of this tool has come up with a another program - Temp Taskbar for Windows 7 – that displays a color-based processor temperature indicator in the taskbar.
Several times I considered making a catalogue of movies I own, but each time I was put off by unintuitive software that makes me do all the work. Creating and maintaining a catalogue is a laborious task. The kind of movie organizers I have come across require me to enter each movie name manually which is such a waste of time and effort. But thanks to My Movie Library, now I own a neat library of movies that is easy to browse, search and play.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Google Chrome browser auto-updates whenever new versions become available, and so are the extensions that you may have installed. Unlike other browsers, that offer you the choice between auto-update and manual update, Google forces the updates upon its users to minimize risk of using out-of-date and possibly vulnerable versions of their software (there is a way to override this, if you are interested).
A new leaked screenshot, purported to be from Windows 8 Milestone 2 (M2), shows the System Restore options in the upcoming version of Windows with a new feature that will allow users to perform a clean reset of their system.
DraftSight is a professional-grade, free 2D CAD software from the creators of SolidWorks, for CAD professionals, students and educators that allows users to create, edit and view DWG files. Although not open source, DraftSight is available for Linux as well as for the Windows platform and the Mac platform.
BabelMap is a comprehensive, free character map application for Windows that allows you to browse through the entire Unicode character repertoire of nearly 110,000 characters, or search for a particular character by name or by code point. Characters can then be copied to the clipboard for use in any Unicode-supported application. It also provides many useful features and special utilities such as hex to decimal to HTML converter, font lookup, character information and so on. BabelMap supports the most recent version of the Unicode Standard, currently Unicode 6.0.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Stratiform is an extension for Firefox 4 that allows you to customize the appearance of different elements of the browser such as toolbar, icons, input boxes and buttons. Stratiform is not the kind of customization tool that lets you add or remove things from Firefox UI, but one that lets you skin the browser.
qBittorrent is an easy to use BitTorrent client that comes the closet to what uTorrent has to offer, both in terms of appearance and functionality. The difference is qBittorrent is open source and hence supports a wider range of platforms including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, BSD and UNix.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Users who have upgraded to Firefox 4, particularly those who are on Windows, have noticed that fonts on webpages are blurred that makes reading difficult or just plain annoying. This is a result of hardware acceleration, as gHacks points out.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Google has taken their cloud based video editing solution, YouTube video editor, a step towards becoming a full blown video editing software by pushing out a number of enhancement and features in a single update today. The YouTube video editor, as it stands today, is capable of performing not only basic video editing jobs but even complex ones such as fixing shaky videos and producing 3D video content.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has created a KML tour for Google Earth that lets you explore the hundreds and thousands of debris polluting the oceans of Earth, in an effort to highlight the growing problem of marine debris.
Romanian security software company BitDefender has introduced a new malware fighting tool named TrafficLight that intends to block web threats and malicious websites before it reaches the browser. Unlike many anti-phishing tools by third-parties that are available only for selected browsers, TrafficLight works across all major browsers – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Windows Media Center with its 10-foot interface is an awesome replacement for the living room TV. Not only can it play movies on your hard drive and on DVDs, it also plays YouTube videos, bring latest movie trailers, TV shows and even stream Hulu and Netflix movies. Did someone say Facebook? Yup, that’s possible too.
Sumatra PDF Reader’s sole developer Krzysztof Kowalczyk has announced the release of a new version of the light-weight PDF reader for Windows. The new edition contains some minor updates to the software and a major one – the inclusion of a browser plugin to view PDF files within Firefox, Opera and Chrome.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Almost all mobile service operators in India offer facilities to recharge their prepaid accounts online through credit card, bank transfer and other payment options. A number of startups around the online recharge business has also emerged that offer these services along with a number of lucrative schemes like discounts and cash backs. Indian startups watchdog Plugged.in has alerted us of a new online recharge service named Freecharge.in whose unique discount coupons allow customers to recharge their accounts virtually free of cost.
Sometimes you may need to compare two Excel sheets for difference in data. Manually doing this would be extremely tiring particularly if the tables are large. The easiest way to do this is to use the free Spreadsheet Compare (Excel compare) add-in for Microsoft Excel.
BitNami is an open source project that provides free, automated multiplatform installers for popular open source web application such as blogs, forums and wikis. BitNami installers are available in self-contained packages called Stacks that include all of the software necessary to run the application out of the box. These may be Apache, PHP, MySQL and other dependencies. BitNami Stacks installs with just a few clicks and, if you do not like it, all you need to do is uninstall and it will be gone just as easily.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
TaskUnifier is a free task management software for Windows based on the well known Getting-Thing-Done principle that also syncs to the cloud based task management service Toodledo, thereby allowing you to access your Toodledo account from your desktop.
In the wake of the recent Japanese Nuclear Reactor crisis, I present you the Nuclear Power Plant Simulator – a hazard-free version of the real thing. In the Nuclear Power Plant Simulator you will learn how nuclear energy is harnessed to generate electricity and what it takes to control a nuclear plant.
Friday, March 18, 2011
STAMP is a subtitling Add-In for Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 that allows users to add closed captions or subtitles to video and audio files included in their presentations, enabling those with hearing disabilities to easily follow the video or audio. STAMP is also helpful for including subtitles in a different language than one the video or audio is on.
Disposable email addresses is one good way to fight spam. A typical disposable or temporary email service allows you to generate random email ids that remain active usually for a few minutes to a few hours. The idea is to set up temporary email addresses for one-time-use requirements, such as signing up on some website, or for contacts you do not plan to correspond to in future. After the email address expires, any mail send to that address is lost. This way, no one can compromise the address or abuse it.
A number of organization is either donating to the Japan crisis or organizing donation camps. Microsoft donated $100K towards Japanese relief efforts, and Google $250K. Zynga has offered to donate 100% of the money raised through the purchase of virtual goods in Facebook games such as CityVille and FarmVille. The goal is to raise $2 million. LivingSocial, Groupon’s most prominent competitor, has also promised to donate an equal amount for every donation received from the users.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Internet Explorer 9 may have come a long way from the dreaded version 6, but it still needs to work on some of the basics. How about a spell checker to start with? Maybe the developers were so absorbed in beating synthetic tests and hardware acceleration they forgot that more than half of the population can’t spell.
Ever since the invention of the integrated circuit by Jack Kilby in 1958, for which he was awarded the Noble Prize in Physics, these tiny silicon wafers have found their way into almost every common household appliances and electronic and electrical device you have ever heard of. Then came the revolutionary microprocessors – tiny computers with on board RAM, CPU and program storage packed on a single die. Microprocessors marked the beginning of the explosive and rapid growth in digital electronics.
We mentioned QTTabBar in a previous post about useful Windows Explorer plugins. That was three years ago and the plugin was for Windows XP. Windows 7 had not yet arrived at the scene and Vista was not compatible with the plugin. After a long hiatus, the developers have released the first beta of a new version they are working on. This time Windows 7 is supported.
The Fukushima Power Plant located in the Futuba District of Japan has sustained severe damage in the March 11 earthquake and radiation levels are rising in and around the plant following a number of explosions at the reactor units. It has been reported that radioactive steam might have escaped from the containment unit of a second reactor at the Fukushima plant forcing emergency workers to halt their efforts at keeping water on the reactors' overheated cores.
Recently, a couple of leaked images of a new Windows 8 build revealed a new visual style named ‘Aero Lite’. The theme features some flat Metro styles, similar to those found in Microsoft’s Media Center application and Windows Phone 7. It is believed that the “Aero Lite” user-interface will replace the Windows 7 Basic interface which was originally intended for users lacking in hardware to run the full Windows Aero experience.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The following fly-by video of Saturn wasn’t created with 3D computer graphics, but by assembling thousands of high-resolution still photographs captured by the Cassini orbiter. All the images in the film were taken with the wide-angle camera on the Cassini-Huygens robotic spacecraft mission, a co-operative project between Nasa, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.
Remember video cassette players and how they produced funny, hurried-up versions of videos and music when the tape was sped up with the Play button turned on? The high pitched, shrill voices were amusing to hear. Some music cassette players also had such features.
Like many chat programs such as Yahoo messenger, Facebook Chat too supports a number of emoticons. These emoticons are automatically converted to graphics when their text equivalent is entered from the keyboard. There is however no toolbar in the chat window where you can see the list of available emoticons.
Microsoft has partnered with several websites and web services, among which is Hulu, to bring exciting offers in order to promote their latest browser Internet Explorer 9.
Hulu is a popular on-demand video streaming service that lets you watch TV shows and full length movies for free. The Hulu Plus service offers a wider collection of shows and also lets you stream videos to devices other than your browser.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
We have featured quite a number of weather applications in the past (see end of article), but WeatherSpark has to be the coolest weather website we have found so far. WeatherSpark features interactive graphs and charts that allow you to pan and zoom into any of the dozens are so graphs available. And the data goes all the way back to the 1950s and 1940s or through the entire history of any weather station on earth.
Rapportive is a new browser plugin for Firefox, Chrome and Safari that replaces the ads in your Gmail inbox with a short biography of your sender including photos and links to social networking profiles such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Profile and Picasa. Rapportive also adds a minimalist notes area directly under the social profiles where you can type any notes for the user.
The ribbon interface was introduced nearly four years ago with MS Office 2007, and since then found its way into several Microsoft programs like MS Paint, Wordpad and Microsoft Live programs. But some people are still having a hard time coping with the change.
Please read the notes from the theme creator for instructions and link to wallpaper, icons, start orb etc. Additional instruction on how to apply a theme and other resources is provided at the end of the collection
Monday, March 14, 2011
Radical Image Optimization Tool (RIOT for short) is a free image optimization program that lets you visually adjust compression parameters of an image while keeping the file size under the desired minimum. RIOT uses a dual panel interface that allows you to adjust parameters and at the same time compare the optimized image to the original in real time, while also keeping an eye on the file size which is prominently displayed in the toolbar.
The BitTorrent protocol is based on peer-to-peer file sharing where a “swarm” of users download and upload files at the same time enabling distribution of large files without requiring resources of a central server. The idea of BitTorrent is to share the resources. This has worked beautifully for millions of BitTorrent users, except for some who are on capped bandwidth.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Prox Network is offering free VPN service for anonymous browsing with servers located in Netherlands. Prox Network, which runs a network of proxy servers, is said to be used by 600,000 monthly visitors, generating an estimated 6 million pageviews and 14TB of traffic every month. They are currently testing PPTP based VPN service.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Microsoft recently introduced an email alias feature for Hotmail which let people create multiple Hotmail addresses tied to the same account. It is pretty good, because unlike Gmail’s method of email alias (firstname.lastname@example.org) Hotmail aliases can be completely different from your primary Hotmail address, and hence do not reveal your true identity.
NASA TV often provides real-time coverage of agency activities and missions, such as the recent landing of Space Shuttle Discovery and live streams from International Space Station. NASA TV also provides resourceful videos to the news media, and educational programming to teachers.
For the past few months, Google has been under fire for degrading quality of search results and proliferation of content farms and scrappers. Google responded with a Personal Blocklist extension for Chrome and later an algorithm change to get rid of low quality sites from search results. The site blocking feature that Google implemented via the Personal Blocklist extension has now been baked into Google – you no longer need any extension to block sites from appearing in your results page. The new feature is implemented in the United States for now; other regions are to follow later this year.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Many audio editing programs, such as Adobe Audition and the open source Audacity, allows you to import RAW, unprocessed audio data into the program. A YouTube user who goes by the username r2blend discovered that you can import virtually any file into Adobe Audition and listen to the sound it generates. He experimented with Microsoft Paint program’s executable and discovered this:
Today Google launched a new Gmail Labs feature called Smart Labels which automatically classifies and organizes your email by putting appropriate labels on your incoming messages. Once you turn it on from the Labs tab in Settings, Smart Labels automatically categorizes incoming bulk, newsletter and notification type emails into three categorizes – Bulk, Notification and Forums.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
For Google, the address bar in a browser may be a vestige leftover from legacy user-interface design, but for most of the rest, the URL bar means a lot. Ask @probablycorey of San Francisco. ProbablyCorey has designed a game called URL Hunter! that can be played entirely inside the browser’s address bar. That’s right.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been orbiting the Moon since June 2009 on a orbit as low as 30km ~ 50km. The short height enables the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera to take detailed images of the lunar surface and resolve the surface at 2 feet (0.5 m) per pixel - enough to reveal even the paths worn in the lunar soil by the astronauts' boots.
We have seen a few resource utilization indicators in the past that can be pinned to Windows 7 taskbar (SuperbarMonitor, Taskbar Meters), but the RAM Taskbar is uniquely different. It uses the taskbar itself as an indicator.
RAM Taskbar displays a colored meter in the taskbar indicating the percentage of memory usage by the computer. The meter doesn’t occupy any space in the taskbar – it simply appears as a colored band. Other program’s icons can continue to reside on the taskbar as before.
Computer Customizer is freeware Windows program written by a precocious 13 year old that allows you to customize the links that appear on My Computer window on Windows Vista and Windows 7.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Condoms have protected men, and women alike, from infectious diseases by significantly reducing the chances of catching nasty viruses. But if the vision of one Ko Yang can be realized, condoms would protect our computers from infected USB Flash drives too.
PayPal levies various charges at different rates, depending on where you live, when you send payments to or receive payments from others. Here is a PayPal fee calculator that will help you calculate these fees before you carry forward the transaction.
The New York Times website has a digital version of Rock-Paper-Scissors that allows you to play the classic game against the computer. The program attempts to beat you by predicting your next move by statistically analyzing some 200,000 past games the robot played against humans. You can choose to play against a novice computer, that has no past data to analyze and learns as you play, or try your luck against the veteran program. The robot is no Watson, but still fun to play against.
The Snow Standalone Gadgets Pack is a collection of 15 shiny white desktop gadgets for Windows XP, Vista and 7. This new gadget pack is a modification of the previous gadget pack from the same designer. The Snow Standalone Gadgets Pack consist of the same gadgets as on the previous but has been redone entirely in white.
Cloud Save is an extension for Google Chrome that allows you to send any files, images, documents, webpages – anything downloadable – to a number of different online file storage services right from the context menu. This is useful when you frequently use cloud storage services to archive files or hold your documents.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Mondays are boring. That’s why we bring you a game today. It’s called Famous Objects from Classic Movies.
The game shows an illustration of an object and you have to guess the name of the movie the object comes from. The object is often closely related to the movie – it may come from the movie poster, it may be a part of the movie plot or it may even be figurative.
Last week nearly 150,000 Gmail users logged into their account to find all their data – email, attachment, chat and contacts – gone, totally wiped clean. Google later identified the issue as a software bug in a recently released storage software update. Thankfully, Google keeps multiple copies of their user’s email account from which Google is currently in the process of restoring the data for affected users.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Don’t you hate when websites offer only the headline and a supposedly tantalizing teaser, as a bait for you to click on the link to their website for the whole article? Over the years the number of blogs that offer partial feed has declined, yet a surprising number of them still use it. So if you have a blog in your reading list that offer only an extract of the articles, here is what you can do.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Remember Fences? It was a program that allowed users to group icons on their desktop by putting a “fence” around them. It was unique and I loved it. The developers of Fences are now working on a new program that can group icons in the taskbar – the other place on your desktop that tends to get cluttered with use.
Whenever you copy, delete or move a file or folder in Windows 7, the progress dialog box shows an animation. It is possible to change the colors of the animation or altogether turn it off.
To change the background colors in the animation, download the free Copy Delete Animation Modder and start the program.
Cyberghost is a reliable VPN service that allows users to surf the web anonymously through a secure 128-bit SSL encrypted connection. The premium service of Cyberghost offers you a vast number of servers spread globally to choose from, 10 GB of monthly bandwidth and 2 GB of 256-bit AES-encrypted online storage.
If you’re planning to upgrade an Windows XP system to Windows 7 or a migrate from 32-bit Windows Vista to 64-bit Windows 7, then the standard Windows 7 installation won’t allow it. You’ll have to carry out a clean installation, then reconfigure Windows from a scratch and spend forever reinstalling all your applications and data.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Ursa Spell Checker is a small program that brings free spell checking to your favorite VoIP and chat application – Skype - for embarrassment free chatting. Like Word processors (and nowadays, browsers), Ursa Spell Checker highlights spelling errors with a wriggly red line underneath the misspelled words. Right click on the highlighted words to reveal a menu with a number of suggestions. Choosing the correct spelling from those suggested immediately replaces it with the chosen word.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Microsoft Visio is a commercial diagramming program for Windows that uses vector graphics to create diagrams. Although Microsoft brands Vision has an Office program, it is not clubbed together with regular programs in the Office Suite like Word and Excel, and sold as a standalone product. Microsoft Vision is a popular diagramming tool and often used in enterprise environments and businesses.
March 15, 2011 extended to May 15, 2011, Amazon UK is offering free shipping to Australia, India, New Zealand and South Africa. If you are from any of the four mentioned countries this is exciting news. Before you order away, there are some conditions that you should be aware of.
The Cloud Connect Office plugin that Google released a while ago, might have received praise from certain section of users but it seems that not everybody is impressed.
In a blog post, Microsoft highlighted a number of issues users can run into and various limitation of Google Cloud Connect. The most serious of them is data loss.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Classic Shell is an open source project that enables users to recover a number of features and functions that were removed from Windows 7. The original Classic Shell, when I reviewed it last, had only a small number of features. Since then, so many new functions were added that I thought it deserves a fresh look. So here we go.
Teenage Windows customizer/developer Kishan Bagaria has written a small utility that allows you to customize Windows 7 Explorer’s navigation button – those blue forward/backward buttons. The tool changes the buttons by swapping bitmaps of the buttons with the ones of your choice.
There aren’t many true desktop clients for the music streaming service Grooveshark. Unfortunately, the official Grooveshark desktop program isn’t any better. It is just a desktop version of the Grooveshark website. Everything that you can do on the Grooveshark website, you can do on the Grooveshark Desktop Client through the same layout – nothing more, nothing less.