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Showing posts from April, 2009

Windows Seven Transformation Pack for Windows XP

I knew it was coming, it had to. We had no less than half a dozen different Vista transformation packs, didn’t we? Well, the first Windows Seven transformation pack for Windows XP has hit the shelves. No, the Seven Remix XP I wrote about earlier isn’t a transformation pack, it was a visual style. The transformation pack, on the other hand, is a complete pack that will change Windows XP’s icons, explorer windows, taskbar, boot screen and everything to resemble that of Windows Seven… at least partially. It seems that the Windows Seven Transformation Pack 1.0 was made by making minor updates to the Vista Transformation Pack 9.0 by the same developers. Smart guys. After all, there isn’t much difference between the two except the taskbar which became the Superbar, some new sounds schemes, new icons and a few changes here and there. Actually, you can make some of these changes by using standalone tools. For instance, the previously mentioned ViSplore to get Vista’s or Sev

DickensURL converts any URL to Charles Dickens’ quotes

URL shortening services are supposed to shorten long winded web addresses into small, easy to share and remember URLs. But not DickensURL . DickensURL is not intended to shorten links, rather it has a weird purpose. It converts URLs into passages from the works of the 19th century novelist Charles Dickens. Just enter the URL, hit Convert, and get a link made out of an inspiring quote from Dickens. How do people come up with such whacky ideas? It all started with a comment on Reddit. On a certain thread, some users were discussing how computers baffle grownups such as their parents. Inspired by the last comment, a user named ‘highwind’ bought the domain and 7 hours later produced Brilliant! highwind says that the his service is currently using only about 50 quotes from Charles Dickens’s novels. You can catch the discussion here , leave comments or submit bug reports. Here is one sample:

PostBox, a promising new email client

PostBox is a new email client for Windows and Mac with a rich set of features that makes it stand apart from existing email clients. PostBox borrows it’s looks as well as the code from open source Thunderbird, and then adds a slew features on top. The most notable improvements of PostBox over thunderbird are faster search, better message organization, message tagging and integration with online services. PostBox’s powerful search features enables you to quickly search your messages using various search operators such as "from" or "subject". Postbox is even said to understands search terms such as after "last Monday" or before "June 2008." PostBox uses tabs to open messages just like web browsers do, and you will all agree that tabs are the best way to manage multiple open windows. You can open almost anything in a tab, including messages, folders, searches, or content such as attachments and images. Click on the attachment tab to qui

Use KVM switches to connect multiple computers to a single display, keyboard and mouse

There could be many reasons why you might want to connect more than one computer to a single monitor: Your desk space is cramped and doesn’t accommodate more than one monitor. Your computers are spaced physically wide apart, and working on both of them is difficult because it requires you to move around. In most cases, working on one monitor is more productive then working on several. You might not even have a second (or third) monitor, but you have several computer cabinets fully loaded with required hardware. The last argument is particularly true if you have upgraded your computer. When we upgrade our computers, we usually buy only the hardware that requires upgrade like a new motherboard, processor, memories, and probably a new hard disk. We don’t buy new monitors with every upgrade unless it requires an upgrade too. So your old computer cabinet is probably lying somewhere accumulating dust. Why not plug it in to your existing monitor and use both at the same

Public Fox – User access control in Firefox

Just like a computer with multiple users require restriction and rules on what each user can do on the shared computer, a browser, which is the gateway to the world wide web, requires user access restrictions too. Public Fox is an addon for Firefox that allows the computer administrator to lock down various areas of the browser on a shared PC. Public Fox password protects the following sections in Firefox: # Lock downloads: Users can’t download files with specified extensions using Firefox, like EXE, BAT and anything that would like to add. You can also add XPI to prevent installation of new addons. # Lock addons window: Users can’t uninstall addons from Firefox # Lock Options and about:config. # Lock History sidebar, Bookmarks addition and Clear Private data option. # Blacklist certain websites from opening  Trying to access these areas prompt for a password. There are a few issues with this addon though, like the bookmark block didn’t work o

Blue Task Manager for Windows XP and Vista

Sick of the green Windows task manager? A change in color will be good for you. How about blue? Yeah, blue it shall be. So download the specially prepared Blue task manager and replace it with the original file. Easier said than done, because as you know there is something called Windows File Protection (WFP) built into Windows that resists any changes you make to the system files for the greater good and stability of the system. To make the file swapping easier, the download task manager includes a small application called ‘Replacer’. Run Replacer from anywhere on your pc and drag the original file you are going to replace into it’s window and hit yes. It will next ask you to drag the replacement file into it and hit yes. Finally it will ask if you really want to replace the file. Give the green flag and watch the task manager go blue.

TestDisk, a cross platform data recovery software

TestDisk is not the usual kind of data recovery software you come across everyday. It’s lack of a graphical interface and pretty previews of ‘found’ files might shun users away, but those who know better will find that TestDisk is a seriously powerful data recovery tool that is capable of recovering lost data from any partition under any operating system. TestDisk can help recover lost partitions and make non-booting disks bootable again when these symptoms are caused by faulty software, certain types of viruses or human error such as accidentally deleting a Partition Table. It’s most powerful feature is it’s cross platform support. TestDisk can run under: DOS Windows (NT4, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista) Linux FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD SunOS MacOS What TestDisk can do? Fix partition table, recover deleted partition Recover FAT32 boot sector from its backup Rebuild FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 boot sector Fix FAT tables Re

RunMe, a useful, good looking application launcher

Applications launchers are a dime a dozen. We have covered a number of these in the past ( Appetizer , AcceleRun , Launchy , Orbit , Toolbox , ScreenTabs , Free Launch Bar ). RunMe is another very sleek application launchers that looks a bit like the Windows Start Menu. RunMe docks to the sides of the screen and pops open on mouse hover. You can place it on any edge of the screen and drag it to your preferred location. Shortcuts can be added to RunMe by simple drag and drop and their positions re-ordered by dragging them around while pressing the Shift key. You can also drag them out of the launcher while pressing Shift. My favorite RunMe skin from DeviantArt RunMe is very pleasing to the eye. It has a good number skins and supports transparency and different animation (zoom, glow, bounce etc) which can be adjusted from the settings window. It supports grouping of shortcuts into folders up to 3 levels deep. These folders behave like menus similar to the way folder

Stunning procedurally generated landscape under 4KB

How much can you save in 4 KB? An image? No. A word document? No. A high definition 3 minute long animated 3D scene? Yes! This is the magic of procedural graphics. A typical 3D scene we see in games and animations consist of dozens of textures, meshes and models. These components are created in advance and saved as files, which are loaded by the computer and assembled to create a scene on the monitor. This is how conventional graphics work. Procedural graphics, in contrast, do not employ previously created and saved textures but generates them in real time as you run those animations. The result is that the file size is reduced drastically since you don't have to store textures and other information. A still from a procedurally generated demoscene Although procedural graphics isn’t a new technology it has been used sparingly in video games. It was only during the early part of this decade that procedural graphics saw a new beginning through the famous work of a Ger

WirelessGet – Copy files over wireless

Transferring files using Windows explorer copy-paste function over a wireless network doesn’t always end in success because of the unreliability of a wireless connection – drop in signal strength, bandwidth restriction by ISP etc. When the file to be copied is large and the network is unstable, it often stops in the middle of transfer and you have to start all over again. A better and reliable method is to use a software called WirelessGet . WirelessGet is a free application that lets you copy and transfer shared files and folders quickly over networks such as Wi-Fi and Wireless LAN without the fear of losing data due to a break in the connection. This is because WirelessGet supports stop and resume. Even if you lose signal during file transfer, WirelessGet will pickup from where it left once the connection is back. To begin file transfer you have to create a new task from the programs’ interface and choose the files you want to transfer as well as the destination. Alt

Portable Windows Movie Maker

When I downloaded the new Windows Live Movie Maker beta I was disappointed to find that lots of essential editing features like timelines, text overlays on videos, audio editing, etc had been removed making it almost useless. The other Movie Maker – version 2.6 is pretty much the same, a stripped down version of the original Movie Maker. Besides, it works with only Windows Vista. But a portable Windows Movie Maker has surfaced which apart from being portable, adds a few dozen extra features to the movie editing tool. It’s still version 2.1.4026.0, the version that comes with Windows XP+SP2, but with news effects making it slightly better than the installed one. It has a total of 147 transitions effects and 76 video effects, more than double than what the original edition has. The portability is an added advantage. What’s more? It works on Windows XP, Vista and Seven.

gui:config – A GUI for about:config Firefox options

The Firefox addon gui:config is one of the most useful addon I have ever come across. This addon makes available dozens of options, accessible only through “about:config”, to the common user by bringing these in a friendly graphical interface. So instead of tackling those cryptic lines in “about:config”, all you have to do is click buttons, checkboxes and drop down menus. You still can’t access a large number of “about:config” options through the GUI but the most common and important ones are included. After installing this addon, these advanced options can be reached from Tools> Advanced Settings. The best part is: this tool explains every option found on the settings window. Simply hover the mouse over a setting and read the information box at the bottom. gui:config is equally useful and helpful to both novice and seasoned users. I have included plenty of screenshots to show you some of the options that are available through this tool.      

Create bootable Ubuntu USB drives from Windows with uSbuntu Live Creator

Since version 8.10, Ubuntu began including a live USB creator that allows you to install Ubuntu on flash drives. The official live USB creator is made to be run only from Ubuntu. So if you are looking for a Windows tool, here is Live uSbuntu Creator . Live uSbuntu Creator can do all that the official live USB creator does and more. However, unlike the official tool that has support from version 8.04, Live uSbuntu Creator only supports newer versions – 8.10 and above. Apart from Ubuntu, other supported variants include Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Linux Mint Edition 6 and CrunchBang Linux Standard Edition 8.10.02. Creating a bootable live USB consist of 5 simple steps Step 1 : Start the program and choose a USB key in the list Step 2 : Select the ISO image or CD of Ubuntu 8.10 or 9.04 Step 3 : Choose the size of the data and programs to be stored. Normally, on a Live CD or Live USB you lose all your data when you shut down the system. The persistence of data keeps the data

Automatically update setup packages with Ketarin

Almost every software vendor urges it’s users to keep their respective software up to date by enabling automatic online checks. There are also quite a few third party software like the previously mentioned UpdateStar that helps you keep your installed application up to date. But like most users, I prefer to download the latest setup packages and install it myself than allow automatic installation of updates. I found that Ketarin , an open source utility, to be very useful in this regard. Unlike applications like UpdateStar that automatically recognizes all installed applications and offers update for the same, Ketarin does not scan your system for applications automatically. You have to configure the program for each application that you want to download the installer of. That involves a fair amount of work but it has at least 2 major advantages: It does not update the application online, rather downloads the latest available installer. This is good for users like me who like to k

How to use twitter at work and not get caught

If you are one of those helplessly addicted Twitter fans, who would rather risk getting fired than not tweet their every moves, here is one application that will help you bluff your way at work. Spreadtweet is an Adobe AIR application that disguises Twitter as spreadsheets. Currently, there are 3 different skins – Office OSX, Office 2003 (Windows), and Office 2007 (Windows).   It looks like the real thing! Of course it does, because the toolbars and borders are just images of the actual Microsoft Office interface. The buttons cannot be clicked, not even the close/minimize/maximize buttons work. The application cannot be resized too because of the same reason. And the only way to close the application is to right click on the taskbar and click Close or simply Alt+F4. Using Spreadtweet you can post new tweets and check messages and replies. Clicking links opens it in the default browser. In case you don’t want to install the application, there is also a web-b

How to prevent file copying, deletion and renaming?

On a computer with multiple users some kind of access restriction and sharing permission is essential. The nature of the security permission can vary depending upon who has access to the computer and their experience level. Generally, system administrators or owners like to implement any of the 3 kinds of security restrictions – file copying, deletion and modification. The latter two types of protection is easy to enforce in NTFS formatted drives, but preventing copying can be a little tricky.

How to add background image or watermark to Word documents

You must have seen some documents carry a transparent watermark or background image, usually the logo of the organization. Watermarking a document gives it a sleek look and is often used in newsletters, advertisement leaflets, official documents, magazine pages and so on. This tutorial will show you how to add watermark to Microsoft Word documents. Before you add an image it’s necessary to properly crop and scale the image according to the size of your document. This is because MS Word will align the left edge of the image to the left margin of the document. So if the image has a landscape orientation (width is greater than height) and the document has the usual vertical layout, the image will get resized and placed at the center of the document and not cover the entire background as desired. So in order to perfectly fit the document, it’s necessary for the image to have the same width to height ratio as your document. All paper sizes have the width to height ratio of 1:1.41. C

XMPlay – A lightweight yet feature rich audio player

Who says we need a 10 MB software to run a few audio files? Take a look at XMPlay , it has everything you want in an audio player. It’s requires no installation, is portable and weights a massive … 300KB! XMPlay supports all major audio formats, is capable of playing and recording streaming Internet radio, supports playlist, has a library, supports tagging of files, has dozens of skins and hundreds of plugins. Oh yes, it also supports some Winamp plugins. Installing them is very easy. Just copy downloaded skins and plugins to XMPlay folder and restart the player. What more can you ask for?   At the beginning you might find the interface a bit confusing, because the buttons are unfamiliar and they have crammed so many features into so tiny a GUI. But if you switch to a different skin like the mock iTunes, WMP and Winamp, things start to fall in place. Here are some features that make XMPLay an exceptionally wonderful player. Plays music files from within com

Pencil – A simple 2D animation software

When I was young, I used to make simple flipbook animations making use of the empty margins on pages of text books to draw sketches. The figures differed slightly from each other and when flipped through the pages with the thumb, it created the illusion of motion. It was fun. Today, there are a number of sophisticated animation software with many advanced features that make animation easier but at the same time, they make the software harder to master. Most casual users do not want to or motivated enough to learn a complex animation software. They just want to have some fun. If you are one of them, try Pencil - a free 2D animation software that brings back the traditional flip book technique of animation to the digital world. Pencil doesn’t have a lot of tools, just a simple drawing toolbox with the usual tools like brush, pencil, coloring tool, eraser and the like. There is a color selection tool, pen width tool, a layer tool and simple timeline at the bottom.

SyMenu – Customizable start menu and program manager for USB drives

Portable application suites like those provided by PortableApp,com or WinPenPack comes with nice start menus for easier access to the programs. Menus are also a great way to organize the contents of the suite. But if you don’t use an application suite and prefer to carry your own assortment of applications and files, the only way to access them is through the explorer. Not very intuitive. This is where SyMenu drops in. SyMenu is a free, customizable start menu that you can add to your USB drives to quickly access everything that you carry on it – files, folders and programs without having to open Windows explorer. Not only files, you can create menu entries to run Windows commands, open URLs or even access programs installed on the local hard drive. After you download the ZIP file containing the application, extract and copy the folder to the USB drive and execute from there. Upon completion of the small installation process, you can access the menu from a icon in the sys

SnapAct – A sleek image viewer, manager and editor

Snapact Photo Manager is a free, stylish photo viewer and manager that offers a wide range of photo manipulation functions, and at the same time acting as an interface to Snapact’s online photo sharing service for easier uploading and sharing of photos with the community and friends. The first thing that I noticed about SnapAct is it’s cool factor – a black skinned GUI, with stylish folder icons and pop-up file information boxes. The image manager has an extremely minimal set of tools but don’t read that as lack of features. The tools are cleverly hidden and show up only when needed. For example, when you hover the mouse over an image in the thumbnail view, it will pop-up a box with information about the file – size, metadata, tags , rating etc. But only when you click on the image, a horizontal bar at the bottom will give you access to edit the tags, description, comments and rating of the image.   A very useful feature in SnapAct is the “Mini Basket” which allows you to

Firefox Samfind Bookmarks Bar

If you think the Firefox bookmark bar isn’t making the best use of the toolbar real estate, take a look at Samfind Bookmarks Bar . This addon will allow you to cram more bookmarks and offer you additional services and features in the same amount of space occupied by your regular bookmark bar. The approach Samfind Bookmarks Bar takes to save space is to display only the favicon of the site (though can make it display both the favicon and text). At first the toolbar may appear a little crowded but you will soon notice that the favicon is the only item you need to see to recognize your favorite site, so it really makes no sense to display the name of the site when that precious space can be used for other bookmarks. The toolbar comes pre-loaded with bookmarks to several social networking and news sites like Facebook, Digg and Reddit. These icons serve more than a static link to a site, they dynamically change to display the total number of votes the currently viewing page has