Google has finally made it possible to use offline versions of their three most popular applications, namely, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. Offline Gmail was announced back at Google I/O conference in May, and it was revealed that internally Google was using offline Gmail (and Calendar and Docs) for months before the May announcement. Starting today, offline Gmail will be available to all users. Offline access for Google Calendar and Google Docs will be rolled out from next week.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Panda Security has released Panda Cloud Antivirus 1.9.1 Beta bringing users a step closer to the forthcoming Panda Cloud Antivirus 2.0 release. Version 1.9.1 incorporates a full fledged community-based firewall where application and system rules are entirely crowd-sourced. While there are many cloud based anti-virus solutions and a couple of applications have incorporated the “wisdom of the crowd” in deciding what is good and bad for the system, this is the first time this model is applied to a firewall. And of all programs, none is more befitting for crowdsourcing than a firewall.
In this month’s edition we have some great looking themes for Windows 7, a perfect blend of dark and light colored designs to please all users. Among these are two very beautiful theme - one based on Google+ social network and other based on Windows 7 Phone Mango.
Please read the instructions provided by the theme author to learn how to use these themes. Often the author provides links to wallpapers, icons etc. which makes it possible to achieve the exact look as shown in the screenshot. These needs to be downloaded and applied separately or using separate tools, some of which has been previously discussed here. Also checkout the previous collections: July, June and May and Windows 7 themes – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,Part 4.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
OpenWith Enhanced is a small application which replaces the standard Windows 7 'Open With...' dialog box with an enhanced one. The enhanced 'Open With...' dialog box suggests additional programs to open a particular file with, as well as options to change file associations and more.
For 20 years, astronomers have been trying to come up with a simulated galaxy that comes close to the look of the Milky Way and other spiral galaxies, but fell short of the mark. Now a team of astrophysicists from the University of Zurich together with astronomers from the University of California at Santa Cruz, has produced the world’s first realistic simulation of the formation of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The research group is jointly run by Lucio Mayer, an astrophysicist at the University of Zurich, and Piero Madau, an astronomer at University of California at Santa Cruz.
Windows 7 already allows mounting of Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) files through the Disk Management applet of the Computer Management tool. On Windows 8, this will be much simpler. Users will be able to mount and open VHD files directly from Windows Explorer. Additionally, Windows 8 will natively support optical disk ISO image files, allowing users to mount them as virtual optical drives and access contains within it through Windows 8 Explorer.
Over at the Building Windows 8 blog, the Windows 8 development team posted a number of screenshots and a video explaining the various changes to Windows Explorer interface, particularly the ribbon UI. Details on the ribbon UI have been well documented over the past few months from a number of leaks, but this is first official documentation of the new Windows Explorer.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Almost all movie DVDs begin with an FBI warning telling you that it’s against the law to copy and distribute the DVD. Then comes 5 minutes of anti-piracy advertisements and trailers of movies soon to be available on DVD. These advertisements play every time you play the DVD and they cannot be skipped. Pressing the fast-forward button or the menu button on the DVD player remote often restarts the advert from the beginning, as if to chide you for trying to skip the important message.
Microsoft released the second Platform Preview of Internet Explorer 10, exactly two months ago. Like previous platform previews, this release doesn’t have much in the way of a user interface. Just a toolbar and a window housing the new rendering engine. When Microsoft released IE9 platform preview last year, Ars Technica asked the IE Team how to get a proper UI, and Microsoft provided instructions on how make it look and act like the then IE9 beta. Interestingly, these instructions still work on IE10 platform preview, with a little modification.
Friday, August 26, 2011
NASA released their first free eBook titled ‘X-15: Extending the Frontiers of Flight’ in December 2009. Since then, the space organization has published several eBooks on various topics related to space exploration and science. The agency already has plenty of technical papers, presentations, case studies and other publications on its website that could be downloaded to your e-reader.
Translating text from one language to another is easy, as long as the foreign language document is a web page, in which case you can simply fire up Google Translation service or use a browser extension that automates it. But if the document is a Word or PDF file, then you either have to upload the document to Google Translate and download the converted document or copy-paste the text into the translate window. Too much bother. Instead, use Transmiti.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Two months ago, Russian PC security product developer, Agnitum, released Outpost Security Suite Pro 7.5 comprising of Outpost Firewall Pro and Outpost Antivirus Pro. The new release is dubbed as ‘performance edition’ promising two to five times faster performance due to the consolidation of signature databases and three times faster web content filtering with the reworked Web Control and Firewall modules. All Outpost 7.5 products including Outpost Security Suite Pro 7.5 also include Smart Decision, a non-signature malware detection engine, clipboard theft protection, extended support for the latest mobile broadband devices to protect laptops and netbooks, and a host of other improvements.
Today’s shoppers are increasingly using online reviews to help make purchase decisions on everything from cell phones to air conditioners to booking hotels and airlines. So it comes as no real surprise that some retailers are hiring review writers to post fake but positive reviews of their products on various websites. Good or bad reviews on popular sites such as Amazon, Yelp or TripAdvisor can profoundly affect public perception of a company’s product and eventually their bottom line. For consumers who constantly rely on online reviews before making any purchase decision, this is a serious problem they cannot afford to overlook.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
It is ill-advised to make changes to the Windows registry without backing it up first, but users being human beings often make the mistake of not heeding good advice, and end up with a broken computer or misbehaving program. When that happens download a free copy of YARU, short for Yet Another Registry Utility.
The Windows 8 team has detailed a number of improvements that we will be seeing in the next version of Windows regarding the way the operating system handles file copy, move, rename and delete jobs. Based of anonymous usage data that Windows 7 users were sharing with Microsoft, the team is focusing on improving the experience of users who are doing high-volume copying with Explorer.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Windows Explorer displays thumbnail previews of image and video files when the view mode is set to Icons, but support for file types is limited. This can be improved by using SageThumbs for image files and Microsoft Camera Codec Pack for RAW files. Support for video file formats can be extended, with varying degree of success, with K-lite Codec Pack. Folders that contain images also display partial preview of the images inside, in the folder icon. However, no preview is displayed if the images are zipped into archives.
Microsoft has just added a way for readers to build their own books by compiling TechNet articles. Readers will be able to pick and choose up to 100 articles from anywhere in the Microsoft TechNet library, arrange the articles in any sequence they like, and save their customized article collection into a book which they can download for offline reading.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Windows default file copy dialog box offers little control over file copy and transfer operations. While the majority of users wouldn’t give a damn, people whose computers regularly freeze up while moving large number of files between disks will rejoice at the availability of alternative file copiers.
Never judge a book by its cover, they say, but there is no other way when you are at a book store. You read the title, glance at the name of the author, flip it over and read the blurb on the back cover before deciding on whether to take it home or put it back on the shelf. Picking books using this method will always be a hit or miss affair. It’s disappointing when you discover, after spending money on a book, that you don’t like it at all.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Webpage loading speed depends on the size of the HTML file as well as the sum of all embedded contents like images, videos and scripts. Most web designers (and websites) today use images liberally on the site’s background, buttons, icons, logo, and so on. Sure they look nice but they also slow down the speed at which the page loads.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
There are more than a few ways to get weather information from the Internet either through the browser or through desktop applications (see recommended reading list at the end of this article). Now there is another quick way to get weather reports. Google has just added a weather layer on Google Maps that displays current temperatures and conditions around the globe, which they hope will make travel and activity planning easier.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
At £4.95, the Wrongulator looks like an ordinary solar powered calculator that you find in every office desk and departmental stores. But this is no ordinary calculator, its actually the world’s worst calculator programmed to always give the wrong answer. The Wrongulator is intended to be used as a gag, perhaps the cruelest and the most dangerous practical joke one could inflict on their office colleague.
It is not unusual for hardware manufacturers to partially disable certain features on high-end devices and sell them as low-end products to save cost in manufacturing. What is unusual is when they offer to unlock these features for extra cash. Intel had tried this trick before with Pentium G6951 and they are doing it again with the new Sandy Bridge processors.
Suction is a small application that allows you to consolidate files from any number of directories into a single parent directory. Inspired by the “Unify” function found in the now defunct Dir Utils, Suction will search through your directories, moving all of the files from those directories up to the root folder of your choosing. Optionally, Suction can further sort your files into individual folders by their file type. Suction is a great tool for people who download or organize a lot of content located in disparate folders.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Yahoo India today announced the launch of Movieplex – a video streaming service, which will allow users to enjoy licensed full-length Indian (Bollywood) movies for free. Yahoo! India has said that it will collaborate with leading movie production houses to bring thousands of local “Bollywood” movies online to users for a piracy-free, quality entertainment experience. Currently Movieplex has a tiny collection – only 8 titles, that include Rock On, Rann, Dil to Baccha Hai Ji, Crook, Rakta Charitra and others.
Age of Empires Online is now available for download and play on Windows. The game is the online version of the popular history-based real-time strategy game series Age of Online that has been rocking the game industry for more than a decade. Age of Empires Online will take freemium route - free to play with the option of purchasing premium content.
Zorin OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution designed especially for newcomers to Linux. The graphical user interface resembles a Windows 7 desktop that dramatically reduces the learning curve while still allowing users to experience the main advantages of Linux.
The ISOstick is a USB flash drive that tricks the computer into thinking that it’s a physical optical drive. Of course, you can’t pop in your DVDs into the ISOstick, but any ISO image file that you copy into the drive will be automatically mounted as optical drives, thereby allowing you to boot your computer directly from ISO files. ISOstick is exactly the device for those with loads of Linux distributions and no optical drive.
Microsoft has released a hotfix for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 designed to boost performance and speed of USB storage devices such as Flash drives and USB hard disks. The hotfix KB2581464 introduces a new feature in the aforementioned operating systems that enables you to increase the maximum transfer size of USB storage devices from 64 kilobytes (KB) to 2 megabytes (MB). According to Microsoft, this can improve performance for some USB storage devices.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Just like Windows Vista and Windows 7 are revolutionary compared to previous versions of the operating system, Office 2007 and Office 2010 are miles ahead of Office 2003. The huge improvement and changes to the program is often visible on the program’s output. Take for example, PowerPoint 2010. The slides have better backgrounds, the graphics are prettier and even the fonts look good. With little effort, a user can produce attractive presentations solely by using tools present on PowerPoint 2007 and 2010. This is made possible through some very interesting features included in Office 2007 and 2010.
While credit card companies usually have some kind of fraud protection services, it’s up to the consumer to be vigilant about any billing errors or hidden fees on credit card bills. Unless you thoroughly read your credit card and debit card statements it can be easy to miss things like double billing, and unwanted recurring charges when you’ve forgotten to cancel your subscription to a service.
fTalk is a simple desktop chat client for Windows that allows you to chat with your Facebook friends without opening Facebook in your browser. This is useful for those who use Facebook as an instant messaging platform, but do not want to be bothered by status updates from friends. fTalk may also prove to be useful to in environment where Facebook is blocked, although you will still need the rights to install the software on the machine.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Would it be possible to turn a human eye into a camera, by simply reading information sent to the brain by the optic nerves and recording the same as video to be played back later? This may sound something out of a sci-fi Hollywood movie, but researchers have already accomplished this at a very basic level.
Friday, August 12, 2011
By now, you must have heard about distributed computing – projects such as folding@home and SETI@home are mentioned frequently in the media. We also covered the subject at some depth previously on Instant Fundas.
LHC@home is another distributed computing project run by volunteers on behalf of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). The project was initially launched in 2004, to help engineers process the gigantic amount of data generated by the world’s largest collider and use the information to maintain and improve the operation and efficiency of the accelerator, and to predict possible problems that could arise from adjustment or modification of the LHC's equipment.
Online gaming has long been a favorite pastime for people on the Internet. Facebook made games more accessible and the social element - the ability to share and invite friends for a game – made it attractive. Today, a large number of users login to Facebook just to game.
When Google launched the Google+ Project, it was certain that games would have to be added if they want to compete with Facebook. On Thursday, Google announced the arrival of games on Google+.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Windows has a decent built-in disk manager for basic partition related jobs like creating new partitions and shrinking or extending existing ones. But when it comes advanced disk management functions like data recovery or handling of dynamic partitions, Windows disk management tool proves to be a disappointment. In such cases, using a third party hard disk manager becomes imperative.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
There is something strange going on with my Google Reader account. Hundreds of items on my subscribed feeds have been disappearing regularly. One day, I would have 700 unread items on a particular feed and the next day the number would drop to 500. I have two Google Reader accounts and I have observed this phenomenon happen on both, and this has been going around for quite a while. Today I decided to investigate and while searching for a solution/cause of the problem, I discovered, for the first time, the limits of Google Reader.
While anatomical plastics models and charts are still widely dominating teaching aids of human anatomy in schools, computer generated 3D anatomy models presents a new way of learning.
Everyone eats, but cooking is an entirely different ballgame. If your culinary expertise is limited to peanut butter sandwiches and vegetable salads, and if you can calculate Young's modulus of elasticity but get stumped by instructions like “cook till golden brown”, don’t lose heart, because there is still hope.
Buying stuff from a brick and mortar store has definite advantages that’s hard to beat. First is instant gratification, you pay for what you want and then walk out with your purchase in hand. Second, and probably the most important, you can inspect your items for damage before you buy them.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Sometimes, hard disk develop errors like bad sectors. A bad sector is a sector on a disk drive or flash memory that cannot be used due to permanent physical damage to the disk surface. This can happen due to improper handling, or if the disk abruptly loses power while it was in use, or if the disk is failing. The typical symptoms of disk errors are blue screens (BSOD), slow computer, file corruptions, and other random errors. If you ever had to question the integrity of your hard drive here are two free tools that can help you get a quick answer.
Recently, YouTube changed the appearance of the video player to black. However, YouTube videos embedded on webpages still appear with the traditional, light colored video player. Last week, Google announced that embedded YouTube players will also start appearing in black.
QR codes (abbreviated from Quick Response code) are seen every where – on magazines, signs, buses, business cards, and labels on any product about which users might need information. Users with a camera phone equipped with QR reader application can scan the image of the QR code and the QR reader decodes it to display text, contact information, or open the product manufacturer’s web page in the phone's browser.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Free Process Traffic Monitor is a new application that lets you monitor network traffic and details of traffic usage by each individual process and application running on the system.
Wi-Fi configurations are complicated and losing them when you reinstall Windows can be a pain. Wi-Fi Network Backup Manager saves you from this by letting you backup all of your Wi-Fi settings including network names, passwords and keys into an XML file, which you can save at a safe place.
Recently, Microsoft released a Camera Codec Pack for Windows 7 and Windows Vista that enabled users of these operating system preview thumbnails of RAW images from 120 DSLR cameras directly in Windows Explorer. Users also have the choice to install third party image codecs such as the FastPictureViewer WIC RAW Codec Pack that supports over 300 camera models. While these codec packs take care of RAW, there are still a large number of image file formats that are still not natively supported by Windows Explorer. Such as the popular PSD and TIFF.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Wondershare LiveBoot 2012 is a bootable Windows recovery software that packs 40+ tools to meet all emergency repair, data recovery and maintenance needs for your computer. LiveBoot 2012 is based on Microsoft WinPE technology, a lightweight version of Windows that can be run live directly off an optical disk or USB drive. LiveBoot 2012 allows you to boot a dead computer from a disk or USB Flash drive (by making use of WinPE), and carry out data recovery and repair operations using the integrated tools.
Friday, August 5, 2011
An increasing number of employers, particularly in the U.S. and European countries, carry out background checks on prospective employees and job seekers. A background check involves looking up of past records including criminal records, commercial records and financial records, of the individual. These checks are used as a means of evaluating a job candidate's qualifications, character, fitness, and to identify potential hiring risks for safety and security reasons. However, these checks may sometimes be used for illegal purposes, such as employment discrimination, identity theft, and violation of privacy.
Google has added a new feature called Preview Pane through Labs, that allows you to split Gmail’s inbox into two panes – one shows you a list of messages in your inbox, and the other shows you the content of the selected message, just like in an email program such as Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird. So if you are mostly a desktop email program user, you will find Gmail’s inbox easier to manage once you turn on the Preview Pane.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
There is a significant increase in the amount of phishing attacks on Facebook, and why not? A social network with 750+ million gullible and click-happy users is the best place for phishers to throw their nets than hack into some database or setup a botnet. That hilarious Obama video and the leaked Miley Cyrus sex video your friends were posting about on Facebook can only lead you to the loss of your Facebook account, your email account, your bank account and who knows what?
There are trillions of pages on the web, but Google doesn’t index them all. Some pages are duplicates, some have multiple URLs that lead to the same page, some pages are broken while others are simply forgotten. Sometimes, those forgotten pages happen to be from your website.
Kingsoft Security has released a new computer security product which can intensively scan a Windows computer to detect and remove malware, using Kingsoft Cloud Security Engine and Kingsoft V10 Antivirus Engine, patch Windows vulnerability, clean junk files and optimize Windows to improve performance. While this might all sound very familiar, thanks to the bazillions of cheap one-click optimizers, Kingsoft PC Doctor is an entirely different package.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Since Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows offer two types of disk storage: basic and dynamic.
Basic storage uses normal partition tables supported by MS-DOS and all version of Windows. A basic disk contains basic volumes, such as primary partitions, extended partitions, and logical drives. Additionally, basic volumes include multidisk volumes that such as volume sets, stripe sets, mirror sets, and stripe sets with parity.
I use to have an extension installed in my Chrome browser called Sexy Undo Close Tab, that allowed me to quickly recover a closed tab. The extension also served as a simple history browser for the most recent pages. I made a passing reference to this extension in one of my previous articles about Chrome extensions for managing tabs. Later, I switched to the light weight version of this extension - Sexy History Viewer Lite – by the same developer.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
I use FeedDemon to read my Google Reader subscription on my desktop. I like FeedDemon’s different newspaper styles and filters. Others, for whom functionality doesn’t matter, just a decent interface is suffice can try the WPF based Desktop Google Reader or the Adobe AIR based WebReader. Mishra Reader is a new one that is also worth a look.
Sometimes when you are browsing the web, you have twenty to hundred tabs open and suddenly music starts playing through your computer speakers. You can’t find the offending page because all of them looks equally guilty. It could be a video, an auto playing flash advertisement, or heaven forbid, an embedded MIDI or MP3 file on a webpage. Lately, I’m less bothered by music playing Flash content since I use Flash block (which comes built-in with Opera) but the occasional background music playing webpage from the days of Geocities still cause trouble.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Cassette tapes may be gone, but they will never be forgotten. Like VHS cassette, floppy disk, and the Walkman, they represent a generation of technology lost but cherished in the hearts of those who grew up using them. To bring back memories of the golden age of analog devices, here are some clever modern day gadgets designed in the shape of the good ‘ol audio cassette.
Google Plus’s elegant and extremely minimal design has inspired a number of theme designers to develop themes for WordPress blog that looks very much like the social networking site. Here I have rounded up 4 different themes. If you like these, you will also like 6 WordPress themes inspired by popular websites (like Gmail and Twitter) and browsers (such as Chrome).
Google’s Inside Search blog recently shared a couple of handy tricks that you can apply when searching for information on Google. The blog demonstrated how we can quickly find books by cover using the Image Search color filter tool.
DropIt is a simple drag and drop file manager that allows you to quickly sort files into designated folders. DropIt adds an always visible, floating target icon on your desktop where you drop your files and quickly process them with a predefined action. These may include move, copy, compress, extract, rename, open with, list, delete, and ignore. Using DropIt, you can quickly sort your files into different folders based on file extension, file names and file meta data, apart from carrying out numerous file operations on them such as archiving and renaming.