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Showing posts from March, 2009

5 short links for today

Here is a small collection of tools and websites that you might like to add to your bookmarks. Check them out. 1. Ajax Loader is a web service that allows you to quickly generate loading GIF animation for your websites and software. More than 30 different patterns are available. See some samples. The color is customizable.        2. DrawSpace is an extensive resource of tutorials for wannabe artists. There are lessons that teaches you how to almost anything – from human faces to legs and cats to lions. Lessons on sketching and colorings, and concepts like perspective and 3D. 3. WZ2K : A website of video tutorials on web design, photography and SEO. Lots of video tutorials on software like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, PHP and so on. 4. Visible Body is a web based interactive 3-D model of the human body that the users can explore through. The Visible Body consists of highly detailed, anatomically accurate, 3-D models of 1,700 anatomical structures, including all m

How to identify flags of the world?

If you recognize each and every flag of the world, it’s commendable. But not everybody has such a keen memory. Often we come across flags we have never seen before and we get stumped. If you find yourself in such a fix, head to Flag Identifier. Flag Identifier is a web site that helps you identify different flags of the world – national flags of countries, military flags, civil flags and so on through their flag search engine. Using the engine you can search flags by color, shape, geography, history, objects and so on. I decided to give it a try. I started looking for a flag that is complex - had many colors and had some kind of an emblem or shape and finally settled on the flag of Commonwealth of Dominica. I’m going to try and search this flag out. I went to Flag Identifier and selected search by color and device combined. Next I selected the four primary colors on the flag – red, yellow, green and black, one at a time. As I kept selecting the colors I saw that the a

Doculicious - Fillable PDF documents for your website

Doculicious is an interesting web service that allows webmasters to create fillable PDF documents and then embed those on their website. It’s just another way of creating web forms to collect information from your visitors or customers, but there is one certain advantage. It allows the user to download the completed form as a PDF file that can be saved on their computer or printed, while the entered data goes to the webmaster. Doculicious can also be used in places which has nothing to do with data collection. For instance, you can create templates of certificates for schools or visiting cards for employees of an organization. The users fill the required data and download the PDF copy for printing. Doculicious is available in free as well as paid plans. The free plans has limitations on the number of documents you can create, number of times these can be filled and downloaded, the storage space you get and some other features. You will need some time to get used to their

MediaPortal – The open source alternative to Windows Media Center

The Windows XP Media Center Edition, as you already know, is designed to transform your computer into a complete entertainment hub. There are a few alternatives to it such as Beyond TV, Tivo and WinDVR which are commercial software and some free ones like MythTV and Freevo. The problem with the free alternatives is that these run on Linux and most people get scared away by the very mention of the name Linux. MediaPortal is another free media center software that runs on Windows. MediaPortal allows you to watch videos, view TV guide for various channels, record, pause and rewind live television like any PVR software. You can listen to music, streaming music from various Internet radio stations, monitor weather, play games and browse pictures, burn DVDS and more. And if that’s not enough, MediaPortal has an extensive collection of plugins allowing users to extend the functionality of the software even more.     MediaPortal is a fabulous way to enjoy movies and music on your

UltraStar – The game that judges how well you sing

Want to know how people on the other side of the bathroom door react when you sing? Do you want to find out if your voice is gifted enough to let you fulfill your secret desire to publish your own music album? Sing in front of UltraStar and let it judge you. UltraStar is a clone of the popular karaoke game series for Playstation - SingStar, released under GPL for Microsoft Windows. Like the original game, UltraStar require players to sing along with the music or a music video, like in a karaoke system, in order to score points. The game displays the lyrics as well as the correct notes in the form of horizontal bars. On top of the correct notes UltraStar displays the pitch recorded from the players. The game analyses the player's pitch and compares it to the original track, and then scores the players based on how accurate their singing is. Ultrastar allows several people (up to 6) to play simultaneously by connecting several microphones, making it an ideal game for parties.

KidRocket - Web browser and desktop protection for kids

Probably the most scariest thing for parents is to leave their child on the Internet unattended. But who has the time to monitor everything a child does on the computer or prepare a blacklist of millions of objectionable websites to add to the host file? It’s impossible. If you are facing a similar predicament take a look at KidRocket. KidRocket is a simple web browser targeted towards kids. Actually, it doesn’t entirely fit the description of a web browser, it’s more like a package with a number of application for kids which also includes a browser. KidRocket’s browser allows the user to view only a handful of kid specific websites included in the browser’s whitelist. Currently the list consist of only 12 websites which includes some popular kid sites like,, etc. These websites appear as row of thumbnails at the top of the browser and can be opened by clicking on it. The browser has no visible address bar where you can type a URL, so it’s i

8 browser addons and scripts for better YouTube experience

If you spend a considerable part of your life watching YouTube videos, you would appreciate me for compiling this list for you. Remember that you will either require Firefox or a browsers that supports userscripts, like Opera and Safari, to use these tools. So here we go. Removing distractions from YouTube page Quietube : This is the most recent of all YouTube tools, so let me mention this first. Quietube is a browser bookmarklet that removes all distraction from the YouTube page which includes comments, advertisements and well … everything, except the video. Just drag this bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmark toolbar and whenever you land on a YouTube page, click on the bookmarklet to quickly wipe out everything from the page. Want to share the video with someone? Click on the Tinyurl link at the bottom of the page to automatically create a Tinyurl shortened URL for sharing. YouTube Comment Snob : YouTube comments are worthless, we know it. But still if you don’t like the idea o

Create album cover mosaic wallpapers with Desktop Generator

Gijsco's Desktop Generator is a cool application for music junkies. Here is what it does: it downloads data from your profile and then creates a mosaic out of the covers of your favorite music albums and sets it as a wallpaper. Actually, this program is capable of pulling music history data from any user. Just enter a username, click on Draw Image and create a mosaic of album covers. The mosaic can be saved as a single image for later use or directly applied as a wallpaper. The data source can either be the most recent albums a user listened to during the past week, month, 3 months, 6 month, a year are the overall music history of that user. The program offers a surprising number of customization options despite it’s simple function. The options menu is neatly categorized into 3 sections – Pre-processing, Drawing and Post-processing. The Pre-processing options allows you to filter the data which is retrieved from the For i

How to spot the International Space Station, now the 2nd brightest object in the night sky

There has been a buzz of activity around the International Space Station for past several days and it culminated last Friday with the successful deployment of a new set of massive solar arrays. The new solar panels are so huge that the sunlight reflected from these arrays makes the ISS easier to spot with the naked eye than ever before. It is now the second brightest object in the night sky, even brighter than Venus and beaten only by the Moon! Astronauts on board the ISS and space shuttle Discovery unfurled the arrays, successfully carrying out the main objective of the STS-119 mission. "Today was a great day," said ISS commander Mike Fincke to mission control Friday afternoon. "Today is the day the station went to full power." The length of the arrays unfurled Friday measures 73 meters (240 feet), tip to tip, with the S6 truss in between. The S6 solar array pair adds 892 square meters (9,600 square feet) to the station solar arrays, bringing the total surface a

Assign keyboard shortcuts to open URLs in Firefox

If you remember, we had covered one Firefox addon in the past – Quickmarks , that converts the Function keys into shortcuts to open specific web sites. One drawback of this addon is that Function keys are limited, only 12, and some of them are already assigned with specific functions like F5 for refresh, F11 for full screen etc. So the number of available shortcuts keys is less than 12. Recently I came across another Firefox addon with much better features. The addon named ShortcutKey2URL allows you to assign keyboard shortcuts to open web sites, and unlike the above mentioned Quickmarks, ShortcutKey2URL allows you to use any of the alphanumerical keys. The keys that are disallowed are the Function keys and the special keys (Enter, Shift, Alt etc) There are three ways to create shortcuts: - Access ShortcutKey2URL’s configuration window from the Tools menu and directly enter the URLs. - Open the website in Firefox and click on the ShortcutKey2URL icon that appears

Jahshaka – Open source real time video editing and effects software

Some of the most expensive software packages are the ones which are related to the music and movie industry. Industry standard animation software and post production software for audio and video editing does not come cheap, for whatever reason. So if you are looking for a post production video editing software with professional capabilities but don’t want to empty your wallet, try this open source software Jahshaka . Jahshaka is a cross-platform real time video editing and effects software which is geared towards beginners and intermediate users. While it might not be as powerful as the commercial tools developed by bigwigs like Adobe, Autodesk, Pinnacle and Sony, it has plenty of features and capabilities just waiting to be exploited. Jahshaka takes advantage of the power of OpenGL and OpenML to give its users exceptional levels of performance. It supports a large number of video formats and allows real time full video and audio editing, animation, and a special effects o

CheckPlaces – Remove invalid bookmarks from Firefox

Remember AM-DeadLink, the tool that scans and removes dead and duplicate links from your browser bookmarks? CheckPlaces does the same. While AM DeadLink is a standalone application that supports Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera, CheckPlaces is a Firefox addon and works only with Firefox. CheckPlaces adds itself to the bookmark menu and hence it’s easier to access. You can also reach it from the toolbar or status bar. Checkplaces perform three kinds of cleaning operation – it checks whether the saved links still exist, it checks for duplicate entries and it searches for empty folder. When you run this tool, you will be asked to select the bookmark folders you wish to scan. Choose your bookmark folders and run the scan. The time taken to scan will depend on the number of entries you have, and on completion it will display a detailed results. Finally, click on the Delete button to remove the links with errors. CheckPlaces is an experimental addon, so you will req

5 free ways to create a mobile version of your website

The number of people who browse the Internet on their cell phones is on the rise and if your website is not accessible via mobile phones or is not mobile friendly, you are losing a large portion of potential traffic.

File Destructor – Online dummy file creator

Why would you want to create a dummy file? “ To escape the deadline you’ve got to prepare a report or finish your homework by putting the blame on your faulty computer ”, explains the creator of File Destructor 2.0. They have got a point. Back in the good old days, it was possible to get away without doing your homework by claiming that your dog ate it. You can’t use that story any more because now it’s just a matter of taking out another print. And who print reports anyway? We create Word documents, spreadsheets, presentation and pass these in their original digital copies. So if you have been playing on your Xbox and neglecting your work, the only way to save yourself is to put the blame on the computer. File Destructor is an online service that allows you to create dummy files with a chosen extension (like doc, zip, xls, ppt and a bunch of others) and arbitrary size. The file looks good from the outside but is actually made up of junk. Now you just have to pass this fi

SafeHouse Explorer hides your files in internal and external drives, optical discs and iPods

There are a large number of disk encryption utilities and software to protect and hide files on your computer or thumb drive. Recently, we mentioned one very good tool called My Lockbox and also explained how you can hide complete drives using a registry tweak. Here is another very good encryption utility. SafeHouse Explorer is a free encryption software that can protect files residing on not only on your internal hard drive but external drives, memory sticks, network servers, CD/DVDs and even iPods. It also supports U3 Smart Drives. SafeHouse Explorer creates hidden private storage areas on your local hard drive or external media that can be accessed only through the program’s interface and only after you enter the correct password. After you enter your secret password, you access your files using a familiar Explorer-like interface To start you have to first create SafeHouse volumes by clicking on ‘New Volume’ on the program’s window and specify the location a

Project management and collaboration with OfficeZilla

Perhaps one of the best thing that came out of the Internet is the ability to collaborate and work together on a project. While services like Google Docs or tools like CoWord help you to collaborate with other users on a single or group of documents, they are insufficient when your project involves lot more than co-authoring a few Word files. OfficeZilla is a free project management and collaboration service that provides you a single place from where you can manage and supervise your entire group and the project. OfficeZilla comes with a comprehensive set of tools from chat rooms and forums to To-do lists and calendars. When you first create your group you will asked to select the ones you want to include. Once you create the group, you automatically become the administrator of it. Before you create a project, you might want to add users to the group. This can be done by adding and inviting users from the Admin control panel. On the left column you will notice

Qimo - Linux for kids

Want to introduce Linux to your kids at a tender age? Then you should give them Qimo . Qimo (pronounced “kim-oh”) is a new Linux distribution, derived from the popular Ubuntu distribution, that is geared towards children aged 3 and up. With over sized icons and shortcuts to games lining the bottom of the screen, the interface is specifically designed to make navigation easy to the youngest of users. Qimo comes pre-installed with free and open source games that are both educational and entertaining, with many more educational titles available for download. The distribution is available as a Live CD but can also be installed on a system – it needs just 192 MB to install. Qimo comes from a Florida based non-profit charitable organization QuinnCo , whose goal is to help the special needs of children and low-income children by giving them fully-functional computer systems. QuinnCo’s founders Michael and Michelle Hall are husband and wife who are parents of an autistic child

Linux From Scratch – Learn how to build your own Linux system

Linux From Scratch is a project, or rather a book that teaches you step-by-step how to build your own Linux distribution entirely from the source code. The primary goal of LFS project is to educate people about the inner workings of a Linux system, rather than helping you create a usable Linux distro for your home use. You would be better off using some precompiled Linux distribution if you want to develop anything serious, but for learning LFS is perhaps the best way to do it. To keep LFS small and focused, the book Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) was created which presents instructions on how to further develop the basic Linux system that was created in LFS. It introduces and guides the reader through additions to the system including networking, X, sound, printer and scanner support. References to other documentation are made throughout the book but a basic understanding of Linux and it’s commands is required before you dive into this book. Linux From Scratch Li

suDown brings Unix like sudo to Windows XP

Windows XP by default assigns administrator privilege to the first user account you create after a fresh Windows install, and as most personal computers are single user based they end up running all applications with elevated privileges including viruses and worms. Microsoft decided to solve this by introducing the UAC (User Account Control) to Windows Vista but it turned out to be so aggressive that most users kept it turned off, which brought everything back to square one. Unix based systems has a better approach. The rule with Unix is that you never use the root (administrator) account for everyday work. A Unix user uses a limited rights user account for everyday tasks, but when the need to make system level changes arise they can quickly change the privilege level of their account to another user or mostly to the root account by using a command called “sudo” - short for superuser do. suDown is an open source tool for Windows XP that brings the benefits of sudo to the O

Discover free tools to open files of any extension with

Have you ever received a file from someone and you don’t know what program to use to open it? Or have you ever found yourself with a file with a proprietary file format but you don’t want to use the commercial tool associated with that file? Say your friend sent you a disc image saved with the extension .NRG because he uses Nero but you don’t. So you open Google and start searching for free tools capable of opening .NRG files and end up downloading half a dozen different tools and wasting an hour of your life. Here is a quicker solution. is a free software (yes, it’s also a website) that help you quickly find the best free tools available to open files with any extension. adds itself to the context menu of Windows explorer so all you have to do is right click on the file and click – How do I open this? This launches the program’s search tool and after quickly connecting with their online database, it provides you information about th

SeaTools – Hard disk diagnostic tool kit from Seagate

When the world’s largest and most trusted hard disk manufacturer releases a set of tools to perform diagnostic test on your hard disk, surely you can’t refuse to use. SeaTools , from Seagate Technologies, is a comprehensive set of diagnostic tool that helps you quickly determine the condition of both internal and external hard disks of either your desktop or notebook computer. SeaTools can test not only disks manufactured by Seagate or Maxtor (which is now acquired by Seagate) but hard disks from any manufacturer. So whether you have a Western Digital hard disk or a Hitachi hard disk, it doesn’t matter – you can use SeaTools. SeaTools can perform the following tests on a hard disk. SMART Check – It’s the most basic test where the status of the hard disk is determined from the S.M.A.R.T monitoring feature built in on the disk. Almost any hard disk health monitoring utility can perform this test. Short Drive Self Test – In this test the drives run a thorough dia

nCleaner – Junk file cleaner, startup manager, system tweaker and optimizer and more

If you are tired of managing several tools for doing several different system maintenance tasks, then here is a good tool for you - nCleaner. You will notice that the application is named similar to the popular CCleaner – another junk file cleaner. But this is where the similarities end. nCleaner goes beyond the capabilities of CCleaner making it a perfect supplement to the missing PC maintenance options on Windows. nCleaner has 4 main sections – a system cleaner, a junk file cleaner, a system tweaker and a startup manager. Additionally, it has a Security Advisor that alerts you of settings that can pose security risk to your computer like leaving remote registry turned on, or enabled messenger services etc. The Security Advisor also fixes these problems for you. Then there is a file shredder to permanently remove deleted files from the hard disk making it impossible to recover these by file recovery programs – an option you might require if you wish to remove private files from t

Convert Microsoft Word into a multi-user collaborative word processor with CoWord

Collaboration software are essential in today’s business world as businesses are no longer confined to a single geographic region. Group collaboration software gives the entire business team access to business documents and files from anywhere on the world, thereby allowing them to work together despite the vast physical distances existing among the individuals. Collaboration software aren’t just limited to businesses – any person can make use of these tool where group activity is required but all members of the group cannot be physically present at the same location. CoWord is a Microsoft Office addon that transforms MS Word into a real-time multi-user collaborative word processor. With CoWord, you and your entire group can access and edit the same MS Word document at anytime over the Internet and the changes made to the document are reflected immediately for all users to see. CoWord changes Word from a single user application to a multi-user platform. The good part is - CoWord i