A selection of hand-picked articles published between March 18 and March 31 of previous years.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
SocialFolder is a new service that allows users to synchronize their files on different social media services with files on their desktop computer. Think of SocialFolders as Dropbox for your social media files. The service automatically syncs your photos, videos and files from the web with a folder on your computer that you can access offline. You can, for instance, work on your Google docs while offline. When you connect to the Internet again, the changes will automatically be made in the online versions. SocialFolder also syncs content from one service with another, allowing you to have all albums in your Flickr account automatically added to your Facebook account or Picasa account, for instance.
Friday, March 30, 2012
Tumblr is a popular micro-blogging platform and social networking website suitable for short blog posts. Most Tumblr users use Tumblr blogs, called a "tumblelog”, to post multimedia content. Because it’s okay to post only images without any textual content on a tumblelog, this blogging platform is popular among photographers, artist, graphic designers and creators of different types of multimedia content. You can follow any Tumblr blog via RSS feeds, but if you wish to download and save images to your computer, you’ll have to use one of the following tools.
Google has launched a new feature called Account Activity, that summarizes what you have been doing with Google’s various products including who you email, what devices you use and where you’ve been. Users who sign up for the service will receive monthly email reports about the Google services they use and how they use it. Users can also view these reports at any time by logging into their account and accessing their Account Activity page.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Ahh, music, that essential motivator that helps us finish projects, relax or come to terms with life's ups and downs. Music has helped us connect with one another since the dawn of time , and remains one of the most talked about topics on Twitter.
Twitter is incredibly successful as a micro-blogging platform, and users are taking advantage of the vast community to share more than just tangent thoughts or blog updates. Twitter is already integrated into popular services such as Mog, Last.fm and Pandora, but a number of new tools are popping up that are tailored specifically to the Twitter experience. Thanks to creative innovations over the last couple years, there is a new wave of micro-sharing, granting a great deal of utility to favorite trends such as #nowplaying. Below are 10+ tools for sharing the music you listen to and connecting with others who share your interests.
Even though Android is a free operating system, the one that came installed on your phone is not entirely free. Many phones ship with proprietary components, drivers and add-ons that are closed source. Some phones also have a locked boot loader which prevents you from booting and installing other operating systems, or removing components from the operating system. The Google Android Market (now Google Play), which is the main source of applications for most users, consist of mostly closed source and proprietary software. It doesn't even tell you whether an app is free software or not, let alone its license. Besides that, it requires you to sign up for a Google account in order to use the app market.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Do you recognize the icon on the left? It belongs to Windows XP’s “Accessibility options” Control Panel applet. The icon resembles a person in a wheelchair to indicate that it contains settings that makes the computer easy to use for people with physical disabilities. In Windows 7, “Accessibility options” was renamed to “Ease of Access” and the icon was also modernized. Unfortunately, because of the poor choice of icon in Windows XP, most Windows users assume that “Ease of Access” options are for handicapped people such as people with poor eyesight, poor hearing and even disabled limbs. That is not the truth. There are plenty of settings under “Ease of Access” that even able bodied persons can benefit from. Let us take a look at some of them.
It’s hard to get a clean screenshot in Windows 7, because of the transparent Aero border. You must have seen screenshots of program windows in our reviews where you can see the background behind the window. I try to clear the background of windows and objects as much as possible. Regardless, they still show up. Some take advantage of the Aero transparency to display the name of the website through the Aero border. If you prefer a clean screenshot, checkout AeroShot.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Here are the results of last week’s giveaway for Wondershare Video Editor. We have the names of 8 winners, and as promised, each one of them have won a $35 license of the software Wondershare Video Editor. The winners were chosen by a random draw conducted using Random.org’s service.
Microsoft officially released the successor of Flight Simulator X, the new flight simulation game Microsoft Flight last month. Microsoft said the realism and accuracy of the new game will appeal to flying enthusiasts while new types of gameplay will appeal to newcomers. The game is integrated with the Games for Windows Live platform, which allows players with Live accounts to join and host multiplayer sessions. The introduction of Live means that the GameSpy client will no longer be in use.
Monday, March 26, 2012
I know most of you have long left Windows XP, but the OS is far from dead. As of last month, Windows XP’s market share is at a healthy 30% and there are still plenty of interest around Windows XP themes. I recently paid a visit to the Windows XP section at DeviantArt, a community of designers and GUI artist where most of the themes arises from, and was pleasantly surprised to find it very active. Several decent themes have been released over the past few months. Here are 12 most attractive new themes that I could find.
Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Blizzard Entertainment are just a few popular technology brands that have enjoyed amazing success on Facebook. They use their Facebook Fan pages to announce exciting new launches, push targeted promotional campaigns and share news and content with their users. This interaction generates valuable interest and insights that can't be gained anywhere else.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
You must be aware of the website Giveaway of the Day, often abbreviated GAOTD. The website offers one commercially licensed Windows software for free every single day. Each software offered on the site is free only on a specific date and should be downloaded, installed and activated on the same day. A protection software included with the download makes sure that you cannot install the program once the 24 hour giveaway period has expired, even if you’ve still got the installer. Understandably, people are eager to know how to bypass the protection.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
There are plenty of tools around that can mount disc images as virtual drives and allow you to browse them in Windows Explorer without having to burn the image to a blank disc. These tools are quite popular among gamers. In order to save their physical disc from scratches, they would prepare an image of the disc, mount the image using such an utility and play it off the virtual drive. But OSFMount is not just another virtual disk drive software.
If you want to monitor and record all activities on a computer you might install a keylogger or a spying tool that secretly records emails, passwords and mouse clicks. But if you want to keep track of what’s happening on Windows Explorer, and for legitimate purpose, you don’t have much choice. Windows Explorer Tracker is great tool for the job.
Back in August last year, a few members of Google Street View and Google Earth Outreach team went into the Amazon Basin to collect ground-level images of the rivers, forest and communities in the Rio Negro Reserve. They are back and the pictures and videos they collected are now available through the Street View feature on Google Maps.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
You must remember Microsoft’s video editing application Windows Movie Maker that first debuted on Windows Me and later included in Windows XP and then on Vista. Despite its bare-bone interface and relatively lack luster feature Windows Movie Maker became a popular software for home video editing because it was simple and because it worked.
There is still hope for wristwatches. Allerta Inc. has developed a new gadget that can not only stave off the demise of this time device, but can to stop it altogether and even revert it. Their invention: inPulse, a watch that couples with a Blackberry or Android smartphone acting as a secondary display on which you can receive push notification, read emails, chat messages, check weather and more.
Pneumatic Tubes File Router is a free program that lets Windows users move files from one folder to another. The program derives its name from the 19th century invention called Pneumatic Tube Transport – a network of pipes through which solid objects were transported over relatively short distances such as within a building, by using compressed air as means of propulsion. In some European countries, Pneumatic tubes were in use as late as the end of the 20th century. While Pneumatic tubes transported mails and documents within a bank or post office, Pneumatic Tubes File Router move files and folders within a hard drive or between hard drives in a system.
Monday, March 19, 2012
Having seen plenty of smart nephews and nieces grow up, I never underestimate the intelligence of toddlers, however young they might be. They learn quickly, just by watching, listening and imitating. Imagine yourself trying to learn a foreign language just by hearing people talk. Kids do that all the time and with little effort. Today’s kids have to absorb in a vast amount of information and inputs from their surroundings, than kids had to a few decades ago. They are introduced to computers and gadgets from a young age, and they learn fast by watching elders use these devices. It reminds me of the video of a 2-year old using the iPad for the first time.
Mozilla announced last week the availability of the development build of Thunderbird 14. The last stable build of the open source email program is 11 and was released just this weekend. While Thunderbird 11 brings only a minor interface overhaul and a couple of bug fixes, version 14 promises to be a big one. The most recent nightly builds of Thunderbird 14 has “powerful instant messaging capabilities, thanks to a major code check-in which integrates Instantbird capabilities to Thunderbird’s”. In short, you get a major functionality of Mozilla’s instant messaging program Instantbird in Thunderbird itself. This means email, Twitter, Facebook, Google talk, IRC and possibly more - all under the same roof.
Instant Fundas has finally jumped the bandwagon. Truth be told, I created a Facebook fan page for this site nearly two years ago, on March 2010. But I hesitated to click the ‘publish’ button because I thought it was silly idea and that nobody would be interested in it anyway. My opinion isn’t much different today as it was two year ago, but my personal likes and dislikes is puny in front of the behemoth that Facebook is.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
This “One year ago” post is two weeks overdue, so this week’s post will cover a period of three weeks. Following is a handpicked selection of articles published between February 26 and March 17 of previous years.
1 Year Ago
Blogging from your desktop is significantly easier if you manage multiple blogs, write for others, or want to compose your posts locally. A desktop app can offer added security, reliability and organization of your entire body of work, which is a necessity if you are a prolific writer or love to collect snippets and articles from around the web. This list offers a look at some of the best free tools for blog writing and management in Windows based on usability and features.
PDF24 consist of a suite of tools for the creation and manipulation of PDF files. The program installs itself as a virtual printer that allows you to converts any printable document or image into the PDF format. You can also open existing PDF files and perform such manipulations like delete pages, insert blank pages, split the PDF into several parts, rotate pages and so on. Additionally, the program supports creation of watermarked, secure, digitally signed documents with adjustable PDF quality. That’s not all. PDF24 also allows you to convert any document to a number of different formats such PSD, PNG, JPEG, and more, over and above the PDF format.
This morning I found waiting on my daily reading list, three identical posts from three different news websites about a minor improvement on Google Flight Search, and the first thought that crossed my mind was an old English proverb – “empty vessels make the loudest noise”. Every few months there is a new update from Google Flight Search on the Google Inside Search blog, and hundreds of tech blogs scamper trying to become the first one to get the word out, however insignificant the news maybe. Yet, nobody talked when Bing Travel added cheapest airfares or price prediction. The Wall Street Journal had a story published in December 2011 touting Google’s “newest push into online travel” and how it “has begun to roil the industry.” Bing gets mentioned somewhere in the midway but there is nothing that says anything about Bing’s constant threat to travel sites like Kayak, Expedia and Travelocity since it’s inception.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
We have seen a couple of pictures slideshow creators in the past such as Wondershare DVD Slideshow Builder, Wondershare Flash Gallery Factory, PhotoFilmStrip and CU3OX. There is a new entrant to the market.
Bolide Slideshow Creator is a no-frills pictures to video slideshow creator with an extremely simple but user friendly interface. You add pictures to the program and then drag them to the timeline one at a time. This way you can arrange the images in the order you wish them to appear. You then add transition effects between frames, add background music and overlay text if you want to and the save the results as a video file. The program comes with a variety of old-school transition effect such as slide-in, fade, wipe, push, dissolve, etc., that reminds me of the good old Microsoft PowerPoint 97.
Autodesk has released two new free software titled 123D Catch and 123D Make that gives just about anyone the ability to not only create their own 3D models on computer but to also produce them as real, physical model. With 123D Catch, a user photograph a real-world object using a digital camera from different perspectives and convert it into a 3D model of the object. Then with 123D Make, the user can take that 3D model and convert it into something that they can hold in your hands.
A commonly recommended “good practice” for security is that we should change our passwords regularly. There is some debate regarding how frequently it should be. The period usually ranges from 14 days (a strict policy) to 90 days (a liberal one), while some security experts say 25 years should be fine. Technically, there is no point in changing your passwords unless your password is compromised or you have reasons to believe it may be compromised. Some systems, such as banks, force password change upon their users every few weeks. In addition to being annoying, such policies have a detrimental effect on security, according to one blogger.
Samsung Portugal is giving away 2GB of additional storage space on Dropbox for customers of Samsung Android cell phones. The offer is available only on select number of phones and only for Portuguese residents, but using fake credentials and a fake IMEI number anybody can grab the extra 2GB. Here is how.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The Big Picture is a popular photo blog curated by the news website Boston Globe. The Big Picture features rich, dramatic and vivid photographs that highlights news stories from around the world. While photo blogs is an old thing, what sets The Big Picture apart from the rest are its large-format and high quality photographs. The Big Picture succeeded where others failed because of its simplicity. The photos that appear on The Big Picture take advantage of the maximum amount of screen real estate that is available and allows every detail of the photograph to be seen.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Workaholics, gamers, teenagers and computer users in general are notorious for staying up late at night, and then have trouble getting up in the morning. It's not about getting to bed earlier, but failing to fall asleep when they do. This condition is known as "delayed sleep phase syndrome" and causes drowsiness that can ruin your entire day.
The tech community is pretty vocal about what they like and what they don’t about Windows 8. There is a lot of anger towards Microsoft for removing the Start Menu and the company trying everyone switch to an interface that clearly doesn’t work on the desktop. And that’s coming from people who know their computers, people who are always at the cutting edge of technology. What will happen when “real” users such as your parents and technically less inclined friends start using Windows 8?
Monday, March 12, 2012
Microsoft Fix It is a relatively new service from Microsoft that offers small downloadable programs which can diagnose and fix many problems with Windows PCs. Windows 7 is already capable of fixing many common problems by itself. The Fix It tools enhances the operating system's built-in diagnostics and also brings this feature to a wider audience.
What can you do with an image and a browser? You can edit, enhance and manipulate it using services such as Pixlr and Aviary; you can add motivational quotes or funny texts; you can convert to another image format; search for similar images using TinEye or Google and many more. And once you are done, you can upload it and share the link with others.
In a short period of time since their appearance, an overwhelming number of low-cost but highly portable and efficient “mini-laptops” have become available on the market. Commonly known as netbooks, these devices offered reduced computing power when compared to a full-sized laptop, but the small form factor and light weight makes netbooks an ideal travelling partner.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Here is the announcement you were waiting for. Last week we organized a giveaway for EaseUS Todo Backup Advanced Server 4.0 - a powerful file backup and disk imaging software for Windows desktop and Windows Server with several features over and above those found in the free edition such as support for Windows Server and Microsoft Exchange Server, WinPE based recovery disk and recovery of disk image to dissimilar hardware. The following five participants of the giveaway have each won a license for the Advanced Server edition priced at $299. They are:
Friday, March 9, 2012
There are literally hundreds of online apps for taking notes, managing tasks, collaborating with others or capturing contact data. We've seen Sharepoint, Basecamp, and ZOHO mature and give birth to Solo, Rule, Projecturf and many others. All have innovated in one area or another, and offered us an improved design and user experience. But all of them seem to fall short of perfect. Either they become too expensive or complicated, or lack simple features like attachment thumbnails or access levels. While the demand is still high, more and more development studios are rising to the challenge and releasing increasingly functional and beautiful apps for creative project management and related activities. Here are five fresh new apps to hit the scene so far this year. Let's see how they stack up.
Whenever you install new programs, it introduces a bunch of new registry keys and creates several files sometimes in several different location. This wouldn’t be a problem if at the time of uninstallation, the program could remove all of these files and registry keys from the system. Often, this doesn’t happen.
Animated GIFs developed a gorgeous offshoot in the form of cinemagraphs, made popular by New York City-based fashion photographer Jamie Beck. Instead of looping or repeating a short animation or video like normal GIFs, cinemagraphs isolate a particular part of the video while leaving the rest static like a photograph. Cinemagraphs became immensely popular, but to pull it off successfully requires serious Photoshop editing skills. Now, thanks to Microsoft Research, creating your own cinemagraphs is within reach.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
With Windows 8, Microsoft has put users in a quandary. On one hand, there is a new and efficient operating system, better file copy jobs, leaner memory utilization and snappier response, and on the other hand, there is this abomination called Metro. After the Developer Preview came out, users tried to reason with Microsoft and Microsoft responded by removing the most iconic symbol of the operating system of 25 years, the Start Menu. Users are horrified by the change and barring a few, most hate the Metro start screen. Some vocal users are now resorting to threats of boycott. But history tells us that deficiencies in Windows has never kept anyone from adopting this operating system, has it? Well, I’m not sure any more.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Whenever the computer is lagging or some application is taking too long to respond, we usually fire up task manager and look under the Performance tab or under Processes to check on processor utilization or the amount of free memory available. The task manager is ideal for real-time analysis of CPU and memory utilization. It even displays a short history of CPU utilization in the form of a graph. You get a small time-window, about 30 seconds or so, depending on how large the viewing area is.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Last week Microsoft released Windows 8 Consumer Preview, and to go along with the preview build Microsoft has also made available an analyzer that checks your system to see if your hardware and software applications are compatible with the new version of the operating system.
People who access their email accounts or social networking and instant messaging application from the web browser, often miss real-time notification of incoming messages and notification about activities from their friends. The only indication of new messages received is a flashing tab icon, which can be easily missed if the tab is not in focus and not seen at all if the browser is minimized. The person at the other end will wait and wonder whether you are still at your desk. Half an hour later she will have logged out because you were too busy with an Excel sheet or some YouTube video perhaps to notice the tiny flashes.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
EaseUS Todo Backup Advanced Server is a powerful file backup and disk imaging software for Windows Server as well as for desktop Windows installation. The Advanced Server edition is targeted towards enterprise users and provides powerful data backup and recovery features such as fast system and files backup, disaster recovery, advanced backup scheduler and comprehensive backup management tools. It aims to simplify both basic and advanced server backup and recovery management while minimizing server downtime as well as ensuring business continuity.