Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pin Websites to Taskbar, Desktop and Start Menu Without Internet Explorer

A few months ago I wrote about a lesser known feature of Google Chrome that allows users to create application shortcuts to specific website. The shortcut which when clicked opens that particular website in its own Chrome window. The idea was to offer an alternative to Internet Explorer’s nifty “Pin-to-taskbar” feature that lets users pin their favorite websites to the taskbar or Windows 8 start screen. There is actually a better way to do this without having to use either Chrome or Internet Explorer.

How to Disable Live Tiles in Windows 8 for All Apps

In previous versions of Windows, application shortcuts were simple graphical objects that offered no dynamic content. In Windows 8, Microsoft adopted the live tile interface introduced in Windows Phone that offered users, at a glance, dynamic information associated with the app. In its basic form, live tiles are still shortcuts to your applications and you can click on them to open a software, but they also give a range of useful information. For instance, the weather app displays weather information that can be viewed without opening the program, the Twitter app shows latest Twitter updates and the Calendar app dynamically displays upcoming appointments on its tile.

How to Run Modern UI/Metro Apps at Windows 8 Startup

Ahh.. the good old Startup folder, the one where QuickTime and Adobe Reader will sneakily add their shortcuts so that their background processes will always launch at Windows login and run perpetually whether you need it or not. There was a time when I would run the command “msconfig” after every software installation just to make sure no programs are hiding in the startup folder. Well, it’s good Microsoft got rid of Startup in Windows 8 … at least, for Modern UI apps. But then, when some feature gets removed, you desperately want to get it back. This tutorial teaches you how to run Modern UI apps as soon as you login to Windows 8.

MusicZen Renames, Moves and Organizes Your Music Collection by Artist, Album and More

MusicZen is a small program that lets you bring sanity back to your music collection by automatically organizing all your music files into a logical folder structure that’s easier to browse. Previously, I brought you a similar tool called MP3 Folder Structure Maker that I personally used to bring order to my collection and make it visually pleasing. MP3 Folder Structure Maker is more powerful than MusicZen but those who don’t want to spend too much time configuring and need something that just works, then MusicZen it is.

Bitdefender Releases Free Antivirus Software

Bitdefender has just released a free edition of Bitdefender Antivirus for Windows, that’s designed to be extremely light-weight and extremely minimalist without compromising on malware detection and removal capabilities of Bitdefender’s paid products.

The most striking thing about Bitdefender Antivirus Free is how little there is to call an interface. Click on the program icon in the taskbar, and it opens a small vertical window no bigger than a instant messenger chatbox. Only three buttons are visible – one lets you toggle state of the “Virus shield” from ON to OFF, another one lets you toggle the ON/OFF switch for “Auto Scan”, and the last one is a login button “My Bitdefender” and it tells me that I have 29 days left to login. So it’s likely to stop working or stop updating unless I login within the stipulated number of days.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What is The Shutter Life Expectancy of a DSLR Camera?

aperture-bladesA camera is a mechanical device, and just like any piece of mechanical equipment, it will eventually fail. The life of an SLR or Digital SLR camera is based on a number of factors, one of which is shutter actuation or shutter count. The shutter count is the number of times the shutter is activated – that is, the shutter button is pressed causing the shutter blades to open and close. Aside from the shutter, a DSLR camera has additional mechanical parts – the mirror system, the very heart of an SLR camera, that moves up and down with each shutter release, and sometimes focusing motors. Sooner or later, these components will wear out and eventually stop functioning. The part that usually gives up first is the shutter.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Design Virtual Bridges With West Point Bridge Designer

West Point Bridge Designer is a challenging engineering game where your goal is to design and build virtual bridges for the lowest possible cost. Unlike the simplistic, fun oriented bridge building game Cargo Bridge, West Point Bridge Designer is designed to be realistic.

One of the purposes of the West Point Bridge Designer 2012 is to provide a realistic, hands-on experience that will help players understand how civil engineers design real structures. While many aspects of the software accurately reflect the structural design process, a number of significant compromises have been made to keep the program from getting too complex. WPBD is intended as an introduction to engineering design, with emphasis on the design process, rather than the detailed technical aspects of structural design.

Monday, December 24, 2012

One Year Ago: Windows Thumbnail Cache Viewer, Android Location Based Alarm, Site Builders For Non-Coders And More

I missed quite a few instalments of “One Year Ago” posts, so I will try to make up. Instead of week-long or two-week-long periods I usually cover, this “One Year Ago” episode will span a month, and contain the best articles, tips and software reviews published during November 18 and December 22 of all the previous years.

1 Year Ago

Saturday, December 22, 2012

7+ Taskbar Tweaker: Make Customizations You Never Thought are Possible

One of the best thing about Windows is the sheer number of customization that is possible to make to change the way the operating system behaves and looks. Throughout the operating system there are scattered various customization options which can be accessed from toolbar menus or by right-clicking on an UI element. Starting from simple customization such as changing wallpaper and themes to more advanced ones that involve editing the Registry or tweaking the group policy editor, there are a lot of things that can be changed and tailored to one’s need. However, not all of these are readily accessible and there is no official documentation of all these features. This is where tweaking tools such as 7+ Taskbar Tweaker comes real handy.

How to Schedule Windows Defender Scan in Windows 8

If you’ve looked under Windows Defender’s Settings in Windows 8, you must have noticed that the option to setup scheduled scans is missing. Microsoft decided to remove that feature from Windows Defender and instead let the built in Task Scheduler to handle schedules. This short tutorial will show you how to schedule a scan with Windows Defender using Task Scheduler.

Friday, December 21, 2012

How to Find Newly Created Files in Windows

There is no easy way to find files that were recently created in a Windows system. What you can do is open the drive inside which you want to search in Windows explorer, and type the following into the search box in the toolbar – “datecreated:today”. This search filter tells Windows to find and display all files that were created and saved in that drive that day. Instead of “today”, you can enter any date or date range using the calendar that drops down from the search box.

Find and Remove Broken Shortcuts in Start Menu

The main reason why a Windows computer accumulate so much trash over time is because of poorly written software uninstallers. When you uninstall a program from a system, ideally it should remove all files added to the system by the program installer. Often this doesn’t happen and traces of files are left behind, sometimes more than just traces.

A type of file that is found to commonly leave behind are shortcuts on the start menu, desktop and other places. They add clutter to the start menu because these shortcuts point at objects that no longer exist. You can remove the unwanted shortcuts manually from the directory where they reside. It’s located at C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why Microsoft Killed Pinball and How to Get it Back in Windows 7/8

Remember Window’s 3D Space Cadet Pinball game? Better known as simply Pinball, the game was introduced in Windows 95 via the Microsoft Plus pack, an add-on for the operating system that included games and content from third-party companies.

When Windows 95 came out, one of the features of the new operating system was that it provided a great platform for gaming, and lots of developers were clamoring for a piece of the action. The game was originally developed by a game developing company called Cinematronics, who sold licensing rights of the game to Microsoft for inclusion in Microsoft Plus for Windows 95. For Cinematronics, a small software company then, it meant exposure to millions of Windows users and thousands of developers. The very next year Cinematronics was bought by Maxis, another game developing company, that eventually got acquired by Electronic Arts another year later.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mark Important Tabs in Firefox

Sometimes when you open too many tabs in Firefox and you need to switch from one to another, you often have to hunt for them. Important Tabs is a new add-on that solves this problem by allowing you to mark some tabs as more important than others. Important tabs gets highlighted from the rest so it becomes easier to locate them.

To mark a tab as important, all you have to do is right click on the tab in the tab-bar and choose “Important tab”. This turns the tab title color from the default black to blue. To unmark a tab, right-click on the tab again and uncheck the “Important tab” option.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

YTubePlayer: Excellent Desktop YouTube Player

Didn’t like the recent changes to the YouTube website? Here is what you can do, dump the website and play YouTube videos right on your desktop.

YTubePlayer is a fantastic desktop player that lets you watch YouTube videos and build personalized playlist from the comfort of the desktop. You can begin by entering the URL of the video you wish to play, or use the search feature to find what you are looking for. Then from the search results add the videos you want to watch to the playlist. The search results shows play count, rating and video length for each video, and the list can be sorted by rating, number of views and relevance just like in the web version.

Violent Monkey Improves Greasemonkey Script Support in Opera

Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows users to install scripts that make on-the-fly changes to web page content such as change appearance, add new functions to web page, fix rendering bugs, and numerous other modification. Greasemonkey by itself doesn’t do any thing – it’s the scripts that does the actual job. The purpose of Greasemonkey is to help users install and manage user scripts. Since its introduction in 2004, it has become one of the most successful Firefox project with over 2 million users and hundreds, possibly thousands, of user scripts written to date.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Twitter Starts Rolling Out Option to Download All Your Tweets

Finally you can access all those things that should have been left unsaid. Taking a cue from Google’s data portability initiative, Twitter has started rolling out an experimental feature that will allow its users to download all of their tweets, since the beginning of their relationship with the service. The downloadable tweets will be packaged in a nice little archive, that you can open in a web browser and read like a webpage.

Deep Sleep Battery Saver Significantly Extends Android Battery Life

Usually when you lock an Android device or turn off the screen, the device goes into sleep mode. The CPU enters a low power state and the operating system schedules processes for execution less frequently depending on their status and handles interrupts less urgently, etc. The goal is to try and save power. The phone, however, is pretty much active. You can still receive calls and SMS and push notifications from different apps. These activities continue to draw power from the battery, even during times when you might not need them, for instance, when you are sleeping. If you want to squeeze the last drop of juice out of your device’s battery, check out Deep Sleep Battery Saver.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Google to Discontinue Google Sync for Free Users. Several More to Go

Google continues to drop support for one free service after another. Last week they closed signup for the free Google Apps edition, today the company announced that Google Sync will be no longer available for Gmail and free Google Apps users, although existing connections will continue to work. Google Sync will continue to be fully supported for paying customers of Google Apps for Business, Government and Education.

Windows 8 Password Can Be Reset Without Third Party Software

Microsoft touts Windows 8 as the most secure operating system ever. Despite this it’s possible to reset the account password using nothing but the built-in troubleshooting tools. All it takes is the Windows 8 System Recovery disc or USB flash drive and the patience to run a few commands. Surprisingly, the password reset hack isn’t unique to Windows 8. It also works on Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

How to Change Background Color of Logon Screen in Windows 8

The logon screen on Windows 8 is the one where you click on your user profile tile and enter your password. You may not see this if you use a local account because Windows 8 automatically logs you in. The logon screen is not customizable by default, as opposed to the lock screen which can be changed. However, there is a way to force a change of background color on the logon screen. This is how to do it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How to Sort YouTube Videos by Date, Rating and View Count in the New Layout

Google launched a new layout for YouTube early this month, in align with the Google’s new look post Google+. This is the second time YouTube has been changed after the launch of the social network – seems like Google wasn’t convinced with the earlier design. As always, the recent change has got some people their knickers up in a bunch. Some of these are non-issues, like left-aligned layout instead of center aligned and video title appearing below the video player instead of above, but I understand, even these minor changes can be irritating to users who spend hours on the site and those who had committed the site’s layout to muscle memory.

Microsoft Live Mesh To Shut Down On February 13, 2013

Earlier this year, Microsoft removed Windows Live Mesh - the file synchronization and remote desktop app - from Windows Essentials 2012 suite of program, replacing it with SkyDrive. The writing was already on the wall. Today, Microsoft confirmed that Windows Live Mesh will be retired in favor of SkyDrive. The day when this is going to happen has been fixed on February 13th, 2013.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Per-window Private Browsing Comes to Firefox Nightly

Reports of an upcoming feature - per-window private browsing in Firefox, has been floating around the web the past few days. Today, Mozilla announced that per-window private browsing is indeed coming to Firefox and the first builds for testing is available in the experimental Nightly version of the browser. No time frame has been given but it’s expected that the new feature will find its way into the stable channel early next year.

How to Embed Google Search Box in Chrome’s New Tab Page

Google is testing a new design for Chrome’s New Tab page with a search box embedded right inside the page, above the Chrome apps and most visited pages links section. While you can search straight from the omnibox in Chrome, Google has found that many people still navigate to their search engine’s home page to initiate a search. This is probably due to ignorance and quite possibly out of habit. Also, the omnibox looks more like the traditional address bar than a search box.

Save Any Web Content to Google Drive [Chrome Extension]

Google has released a new extension for Chrome called Save to Drive that allows users to save any image, files or webpage directly to their Google Drive storage with a simple click.

When you come across a file or a webpage you want to save to your Google Drive, right-click on it and select "Save to Google Drive”. This will send the chosen files to your Google storage right away. You can do this with images, webpage or hyperlinks that lead directly to files, such as PDF files on search results.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Where Did The Games Folder on Windows 8 Go?

Free games such as Minesweeper and Solitaire have been a standard fare for Windows for decades. Nobody would call them the best or the most influential games of all time, yet over the years these classic Microsoft games have become some of the most widely played video games on any platform. Nobody would consciously sit down in front of a computer for a round of Solitaire, but during boring office meetings everyone would sub-consciously reach for the Games folder in the Start menu. If nothing else, these famous titles have become the leading boredom killers. From hardcore gamers to clueless secretaries to bored grandmas, everyone has played Solitaire or Minesweeper or Mahjong at one point or another.

Make Windows Explorer Open to My Computer or Any Folder You Want

When you open Windows Explorer using the Windows Explorer shortcut pinned to the Taskbar or Start menu, it opens to the Libraries view by default. This happens in Windows 7 and Windows 8 both. In previous editions of Windows, such as Windows 2000 and Windows XP, Explorer opened to “My Documents” by default. It is possible to change this behaviour and force Windows Explorer to open to any folder of choice. Here is how to do it.

Alternatives to Google Apps for Free

The free ride on Google Apps is over. Last week, Google announced that there will no more free signups to Google Apps. Whether you run a business with two employee or two hundred, you have to signup to Google Apps for Business Premium which starts from $50 per user per year, and goes upwards. While the premium package comes with perks such as round the clock customer support, migration tools and better uptime, not everyone needs them, particularly ones who use Google Apps simply for email hosting on custom domain. Now that Google Apps is gone, let us look at some of the alternatives we have for hosting our domains for personalized email addresses.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bring Back The Old Task Manager to Windows 8

The new task manager in Windows 8 is significantly different from its predecessors. While the underlying functions remain basically the same, the user interface has been overhauled to match the new minimalist and flat look of the operating system. At first glance, the new task manager might look like a step backward. This is because all tabs are hidden by default, but once you click on the “More details” button you will notice that it’s the same old wine in a new bottle, albeit a better one. Yet, just like the rest of the operating system, some users are having a hard time accepting the new task manager. If you are one of them, this is how you can bring back the old Windows 7-styled task manager to Windows 8.

Make SkyDrive Sync Faster by Increasing Upload Speed

Some users say, SkyDrive doesn’t sync files as fast as Dropbox does. While I can’t verify the truth or falsity of the statement, Microsoft feels there is definitely room for improvement.

The Redmond company recently added a manual configuration option to SkyDrive desktop client that allows users to improve the upload speed of files to SkyDrive cloud servers. The change makes it possible to overrides the number of files that are processed at a time while they are being uploaded. Previously the number of files that were processed at a time was set to the default value of 1. This value can now be increased to either 2 or 3.

Parental Controls Coming to Google Chrome

Google Chrome, just like Mozilla Firefox, allows users to setup multiple user profiles for different users on a shared computer or for different work environments for the same user. Currently, all user accounts have same privileges and access to all features and settings. The way it sits right now, any user can change his settings and customize the browser as per his requirements all by himself, without any interference from other users.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How to Change the Location of the "Screenshots" Folder in Windows 8

As you may be already aware, Windows 8 has a pretty functional screenshot taking feature that automatically saves the images to a specific folder on the hard disk. Previously, users were required to paste the screenshot image from the clipboard to a blank canvas in an image editing program and save it manually. Just to make it clear, the screenshot taking tool, which can be activated by pressing the Win key together with the PrintScreen key, is different from the Snipping Tool introduced in Windows 7 and which still exist in Windows 8 as an alternative screenshot capturing tool.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to Host Websites on Google Drive

When you need to whip up a quick website, maybe to show to a client or make an example, there are a few options. You can already host websites on Dropbox, Amazon S3 and Google App Engine, even though these services were not meant to be used as a publishing platform. Last week Google announced that it is now possible to host HTML/CSS websites on Google Drive as well. Google Drive site publishing also supports JavaScript, so it's even possible to run a JavaScript Drive app directly from Drive. This short tutorial will show you how to host a simple website on Google Drive.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Great Way to Browse And Find the Best Apps on the Windows Store

The Windows Store has over 25,000 apps for Windows 8, but there is still no good way to browse and search for apps on the store, officially. Yesterday, I wrote about a third-party website that brought the Windows Store to the web browser. Today, we have another - Great Windows Apps, and aside from being a portal that you can access via a web browser, this new site is also available as a Windows 8 app, thus acting as an excellent alternative to the default Windows 8 Store app.

Great Online Shopping Festival in India on 12th Dec

Indian shoppers will soon get a taste of Cyber Monday-like deals on 12th December, at the Great Online Shopping Festival hosted by Google India. Around 50 leading eCommerce players across various genres are coming together for this festival where they are expected to offer their best deals during a 24 hour period.

The festival will see participation of many popular online shopping portals such as eBay India, Flipkart.com, IndiatimesShopping.com, snapdeal.com, makemytrip.com, Yebhi.com, firstcry.com, Sulekha.com, Homeshop18.com, Croma, Gitanjali Group, Shine.com, Yatra.com, Indigo Airlines and more.

How to Find Who is Connected to Your WiFi Network

WPA and WPA2 security protocols that is used to protect WiFi networks are extremely robust. These protections, in theory, prevent hackers and unauthorized people from gaining access to wireless network or viewing traffic sent over them, provided the end users chooses strong passwords. But new hardware and modern techniques have made password cracking within an acceptable timeframe a possibility. For instance, a PC running a single AMD Radeon HD7970 GPU can try on average an astounding 8.2 billion password combinations each second, depending on the algorithm used to scramble them. For those who can’t afford $500 GPUs, there are services such as Cloud Cracker where anybody can get a WiFi password cracked for just $17 and under an hour. Our passwords were never been so vulnerable.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hidden Microsoft SkyDrive Code Hints at Web-Based Music Player

If the source codes in the current version of SkyDrive.com is any indication, then Microsoft is planning to add a web-based music playing feature to SkyDrive.com.

Editors over at LiveSide.net have found out some compelling evidences hidden in the SkyDrive.com page that confirms that Microsoft is actually testing what seems to be a music playing feature for the cloud storage service. While digging around the codes in the page, LiveSide noticed references related to a SkyDrive music player, as shown below:

Browse Windows Store for Windows 8 in a Web Browser

How do you browse the Windows 8 Store for apps if you don’t have Windows 8? You can’t. Well, at least, that’s how Microsoft wants to keep it.

While each app on the Windows 8 Store has a dedicated web page that can be launched from the Windows Store, the company has yet to offer a way that allows users to browse the selections in the Windows Store in the web browser. The Windows Store is accessible only through the Store app in Windows 8, and even that is limited to the apps for the particular country of each Windows 8 user.

LazyTruth: Chrome Extension That Fact-Checks Rumours in Chain Emails

Ever received email forwards that make outrageous claims or carry old urban legends that have been debunked a million times in the past? No? Then you must not have gullible friends or crazy relatives abroad who love to believe and forward everything they read in emails. For the rest, it’s a constant attack on our intelligence and factual sanctity, and we hate this from our guts.

Send Large Gmail Attachments Through Google Drive

One of the most demanded feature was finally implemented a few days ago. Google has enabled Gmail users to now upload attachments directly to Google Drive or attach files already present on Google Drive to a new email. This comes a few weeks after Google unveiled the new mail Compose window. This was probably planned together, since the Google Drive attachment feature works only on the new compose window.

Infinite Jukebox Makes Your Favorite Song Infinitely Long

You know those songs that you can’t stop listening to? You set them on repeat until your ears bled, but there is a better way to listen to them. Meet ‘Inifinite Jukebox’, a product of a Music Hack Day event held in MIT Boston. Instead of simply looping the song from start to end over and over again, this web app creates a never ending, constantly changing version of uploaded tracks.

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