Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Calibre – Ebook management software

Calibre is a free, open source and cross-platform ebook management software that allows one to organize, save and manage ebooks, in and between a variety of formats. It also supports ebook syncing with a variety of popular ebook readers. Calibre is the one stop solution for all ebook needs - library management, format conversion, news feeds to ebook conversion and an in-built ebook reader.

StandaloneStack – Leopard like stack for Windows

StandaloneStack is a pretty application launcher that brings the stylish Leopard-like stacks to Windows. One major advantage of StandaloneStack over other applications launcher is that, StandaloneStack doesn’t need to be running always in the background and hence unlike others, doesn’t waste any resources. StandaloneStack runs only when you are using it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Things you didn’t know VLC media player can do

For most people, VLC is the favorite media player because it plays everything they throw at it without hiccups. No hunting for codec. But VLC can do a lot of other things as well. Find out how many of these listed below you knew, and how many you did not.

1. Rip DVDs: VLC includes a basic DVD ripper. You probably would never use it when there are better DVD rippers available, but it helps to know that you can in fact, get a decent quality DVD rip with VLC. To rip a movie follow these steps:

Stykz - Stick figure animation software

Stykz is a free multi-platform stick figure animation program that does all that Pivot StickFigure Animator, the original stick figure animation software, did and more. Stykz was designed to be a superset of Pivot, attempting to incorporate all of the features that Pivot has to offer, plus adding additional features and making it available on multiple platforms. Unlike Pivot StickFigure Animator, which has not been upgraded for years, Stykz is under active development.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

GLC_Player: Lightweight 3D model viewer and manager

GLC_Player is an open source software that can be used to view 3D models like those created using Autodesk Maya, 3D Studio Max, Blender, Sony Collada etc. Why use a separate viewer when we already have these applications to open 3D models? Because 3D modeling applications are usually resource heavy and takes a lot of time to load a model. GLC_Player on the other hand, is extremely light and fast, and allows you to quickly go through your 3D models collection.

Free HideIPVPN unblocks Hulu, Pandora, BBC iPlayer, Spotify and more

There are several web services which are locked to particular regions. Hulu and Pandora, for instance, are available only for US residents. In order to access these sites from outside the regions they are meant for, you have to trick them into believing you reside inside those regions or countries. One way to achieve that is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Liaise introduces the smartest Microsoft Outlook plug-in ever

Liaise is a new email addon for Microsoft Outlook Express 2003 and 2007, recently launched at the DEMOfall 09, that automatically analyzes the text as you write an email, identifies keywords that points to assignments, tasks, deadlines and other actionable items and catalogues them according to priority. These tasks are available on a separate panel which you can call anytime to review, and clicking on any tasks automatically pulls the emails and contacts associated with that tasks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

View multi-page articles in a single page with PageZipper

Probably one of the biggest Internet annoyances is the multiple-page article phenomenon. Often when an article is too long it’s broken down into several pages to avoid stretching the page to absurd lengths. It’s understandable when the article is really long, but more often than not, web publishers do it to simply increase page views which translates into higher advertising revenues.

Firefox addon Invisible Hand shows you the best price deals

Invisible Hand is a unobtrusive plug-in for Firefox, which subtly alerts you whenever a deal better than the one you are viewing is available.

Say you are looking to buy an LG LCD TV. You go to Best Buy and decide upon a certain model. And while you are reading the page, a small toolbar drops down to inform you that the same product is available at Buy.com for $200 less – a saving of 17%. It then provides the link to go to Buy.com’s page for the product. Additional links are provided that lets you look at the same LCD TV model at other shopping sites.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Add shortcuts to folders to Explorer context menu with Folder Guide

I use a number of different ways to keep my work and others folders at my finger tips. I use the Quick Launch Toolbar generously, which for some strange reason is disabled by default. I always get annoyed at people who don’t use Quick Launch, and a lot of them don’t use it. It’s like deliberately cutting off your arm and then fumbling around trying to grab things.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lock your PC using a flash drive with Predator

You can lock a Windows PC by pressing Win+L. This locks the screen displaying the Windows logon screen. Nobody can use your PC unless they enter the correct user password. This also means that anybody can enter into your computer if they know your password. This is where Predator comes in.

Predator is a free utility that allows you to temporarily lock your computer when you have to move away from it by using your USB flash drive as a key.

Gimp, GimpShop and GimpPhoto

Among all image editing applications Photoshop hold a special place. Not too far below is Gimp. Gimp is a very good open source image editor, and even regarded as a free alternative to Photoshop, a claim which is often debated upon. No doubt, Photoshop is a very well built software. It’s so good that it has become the unofficial standard for every other image editing application, and that includes Gimp. Photoshop might be the superior software here, but Gimp enjoys a slight edge over the Goliath of image editing from the perspective of price.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Partition Find & Mount – Access lost partitions as disk drives

Partition Find & Mount is quite a unique piece of software. It’s a deleted and lost partition recovery software that helps you recover partitions that you may have accidentally deleted, or partitions lost due to corrupted Master Boot Records or due to a failed hard drive. The difference between other partition recovery software and Partition Find & Mount, is that the latter mounts the lost partitions as generic disk volumes making it accessible from Windows explorer or any file manager.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dazzboard – Web based iTunes alternative

Still using that bloated iTunes to transfer music back and forth between handheld devices and the computer? Do your computer a favor, just get rid of it. Believe me, there is no dearth of software with the same capabilities as iTunes have and more. Now a Finnish startup, Linkotec, is challenging iTunes’ dominance by launching a web based solution called Dazzboard that has all the goodness of iTunes but without the disadvantages of Apple’s closed environment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ABRViewer – View Photoshop brushes without opening Photoshop

ABRViewer is an open source utility that allows one to preview Photoshop brushes without having to load them first in Adobe Photoshop. It hardly needs to be said how useful this tool can be. Designers who frequently work with Photoshop regularly download different sets of brushes that needs to be tested before they can be used. Loading and unloading these brushes in Photoshop is cumbersome. Also the default preview size for these brushes in Photoshop is too small to make out anything. So they often need to be used on a blank canvas to test. All this is extremely time consuming.

First laptop discovered in 1937 Flash Gordon comics

Probably the earliest depiction of a communication device resembling a laptop has been discovered in an ancient Flash Gordon Comics by a certain Mr Mende Petreski of the Republic of Macedonia. Mr Petreski was browsing through his comics collection when he stumbled upon a drawing of a familiar form in a panel in Politikin Zabavnik weekly published June 14, 1974. The sketch shows the forces of Ming the Merciless, using a device which resembles a lot like a laptop, to talk to their leader.

4 free wireless network scanners

If you are out with your laptop or smartphone and need to find an Internet connection, the first thing you will require is a good Wi-Fi scanner. Checkout these 4 free options you’ve got.

1. NetStumbler is one of oldest wireless scanner for Windows. It runs on Windows 2000 and Windows XP 32 bit. The 64 bit version of Windows XP has trouble running this tool and it refuses to run on Windows Vista or 7. NetStumbler can help you locate wireless networks in your neighborhood and also detect unauthorized access points.

Readtwit - Read only links from your Twitter feed in RSS format

One of the biggest complaints that people, including me, have with Twitter is that it’s difficult to actually follow people. Most people follow from a few dozens to hundreds and even thousands of people on follower. But they can’t actually be following the tweets of this many people, can they? It would take gigantic amount of time each day to read them. Worse, most Twitter users produce so must junk that the few, really valuable stuff gets buried deep under a steaming pile of tweet-shit.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Diagnose and repair your music collection with MP3 Diags

First, answer the following questions:

  • Do you download music from the Internet?
  • Have you ever bought MP3 music CDs?
  • Do you rip music from CDs?
  • Have you tagged or renamed your music collection, downloaded album art, normalized music files etc with various software?

If you answered yes to even one of the above questions, then chances are your music collection is corrupt. Many MP3 software that rip music albums, create or edit MP3 files are broken and as a result the files created using such tools have various issues.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Windows Run commands you probably never knew

The Windows Run box is a very useful utility to launch programs and applications quickly. There are more than a hundred run commands that let you launch all sorts of built in Windows applications such as Control Panel modules, and system tools like Disk Defragmenter, Device Manager, Group Policy Editor etc. Most of these commands are well documented – you will find plenty of run command lists on the web, published and republished countless number of times. But I’m pretty sure you will never find the following commands in any of these lists.

Watch movies in ASCII in VLC media player

VLC media player has an amusing ability, targeted especially towards nerds, to playback movies in ASCII art. The option to enable this is right there in the “Preference” window, but most users are unaware of it because they usually don’t dig through the settings of the software.

To enable ASCII mode, open VLC media player and click on Tools>Preferences. Open the section “Video” section and under “Output” select “Color ASCII art video output” from the drop down menu. Save it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

5 short links for today #15

myworkplace_thumb 1. Where We Do What We Do: A place to view and share pictures of your workplace. Visitors can rate pictures and leave comments. There are some truly great workplaces here. This is where you can get some inspiration to improve your own workspace.

2. TechPosters: Hundreds of poster sized cheatsheets and keyboard shortcuts on various IT topics like programming languages, Linux, software etc, available for download and print. This is a goldmine.

3. FloodMap: A visualization on Google Maps showing the regions of the continents that would get submerged if the ocean level rises, something which is going to happen sooner than you think. The default level is 7 meters but you can choose any level from 0 to 14 meters.

4. Moonbell: The Japanese lunar orbiter Kaguya spent 20 months on the lunar orbit collecting valuable data on the lunar topography. The data from one of the sensors onboard Kaguya called laser altimeter (LALT) is used by this site to generate sounds.

5. How long will IPv4 addresses last? Till 2010, predicts Ars Technia. Internet Doomsday?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Coral IE Tab – Improved IE tab addon for Firefox

Even though most websites today are web standard compliant, there are still some sites that refuses to render correctly on any browsers other than Internet Explorer. The IE Tab addon for Firefox is hence one of the most regularly downloaded addon from Mozilla’s website, clocking at more than 200K downloads per week, at the time of writing this.

But there is a much better competitor to the IE tab that has been around for some time, and that is Coral IE Tab. Coral IE Tab enables users to view any web page using the embedded IE engine within Firefox allowing them to quickly switch between the IE engine and the Gecko engine without switching browsers, much like the old IE Tab addon.


Additionally, Coral IE Tab will sync cookies between IE and Firefox. So if you have logged into a page from an IE tab and want to switch to the Firefox engine, you can do so without losing your login session. From the “Settings” window you can manage URLs of the sites you want to sync cookies and user agent. You can also import your old settings from IE tab.

Coral IE Tab also brings support to the Adblock Plus addon, so all in-page ads on the IE tab gets filtered by it. This was not possible with the original IE Tab addon.

If you are already using IE Tab, you will need to disable, or better uninstall it before you can enable Coral IE Tab.

Nimi Visuals 10.2 released with more new visual effects and features

Remember Nimi Visuals? We covered this neat little Windows visual effects and customization tool some time back when version 10.1 was released. The last edition of the program came with hundreds of nifty tricks and effects from transparent borders, jelly windows, snow effects, taskbar blurring and so on. If you thought those were enough, checkout the newly released version 10.2 which comes with even more bells and whistles as well as numerous new features and improvements.

In addition to all previous effects, the following new effects can be seen in version 10.2.

  • Window shifting - When a window is selected, the last window is shifted below the active window.
  • Minimize non-active windows – Instantly minimizes non-active windows.
  • RightLeft slider - Maximizes window to half screen size on Win+F4 or Win+F5 key press, similar to AeroSnap.
  • Taskbar fade - Fade in taskbar when mouse is over it, fades in or out start menu
  • Maximum spacer - Maximizes window to fullscreen on Win+F7 key press.
  • Gravity - Make non-active window fall to bottom of the screen
  • No titlebar icons - Removes window icon from its titlebar
  • Window thumbnail in icon - Replaces window icon with updated thumbnail image
  • Toss – Switch windows by tossing them in book-alike mode. An alternative to Windows task switching.
  • Sharpen wallpaper – Makes edges of wallpaper sharp
  • Neon edge wallpaper - Make wallpaper look like being made from neon lights


Many previously seen effects like Fluid wallpaper, Titlebar Sparkle, Jelly Windows, Aurora fade and more, were enhanced with new colors and smoother performance.

Nimi Visuals 10.2 runs on a new component architecture that offers better system integration. Many effects like jelly windows, edge warp/snap or maximize, showcase, toss, taskbar blur etc can now be accelerated by the GPU if present. In previous releases of Nimi Visuals, all graphics were entirely software based.

The new Nimi Visuals can also analyse almost any given web address for repositories capable media like wallpapers, system themes or 3rd part software, and automatically add it to available packages list. Moreover, it automatically adapt to ZIP archive content if provided.

A new wallpaper management feature allows users to set how often wallpaper will be generated with chosen effects and set up picture folder directory.

Moreover, the program now automatically detects your language and translates it’s interface to the local language. Even when performing quick search, the program translates your search keywords on the fly matching them with the package description.

As usual, the program itself is little more than 1 MB. The memory footprint when in use can however be several tens of megabytes depending on how many effects are turned on.

Blogging without a database: 7 database-less Content Management Systems (CMS)

A Content Management System without a database seems so unorthodox that one might feel that it shouldn’t have been put into practice in the first place. Many web site owners might even doubt if it could possibly work. But the fact is, there are plenty of CMS that allow you to run a full fledged website or a blog without requiring a database like MySQL. In some situations, it even makes sense to use a database-less CMS.

But the question is: why would anyone want to do that? Most systems run beautifully under Wordpress or under other powerful CMS like Joomla and Drupal. So why go database less?


1. Speed: The major advantage of a database-less CMS is speed. Database queries slow down the servers. On a high traffic website this has a dramatic effect on the speed of the site. A database-less website with no server side scripting or database queries is lightening fast.

2. Easy to install/migrate/backup: Setting up and configuring a database for the first install is generally easy. It’s the backing-up and most importantly moving sites between web host that requires too much effort and time. Database-less CMS on the other hand are easy to backup and migrate. Just pack up your files and FTP it to your new server.

3. Easy to edit: A database-less CMS writes files directly to HTML, text or XML files. These files are easier to edit then editing database contents.

4. Simplicity: For a small website, why not take the simple route instead of struggling with complex platforms, which most CMS are? Database-less CMS are perfect for people who has no coding experience.

So let us look at some light Content Management Systems that doesn’t require a database.

1. GetSimple: This is an extremely simple but usable CMS. It stores data in the XML format, supports tags, file uploading, inbuilt back-ups and easy to theme.

Requires UNIX/Linux host, PHP 5.1.3+ and Apache.

2. Pivot is a free CMS written in PHP and doesn’t require a database or any  additional libraries to run.


  • Sophisticated categories/weblogs system, so you can maintain several weblogs and publish your entries how you like
  • Template based
  • Built in simple search tool
  • Built-in visitor tracking tool
  • Easy to upload and include pictures with your log-entries
  • Allows for making thumbnails of uploaded images
  • Comment system that remembers your visitors
  • Automatically creates RSS and Atom feeds
  • IP-blocking
  • Archiving by week or month, and by category

3. FlatPress is an open source, multi-lingual, extensible almost Wordpress like blogging engine which does not require a database to work. Checkout FlatPress’s own blog to see how it looks.


  • Stores data as text files
  • Standard-compliant (XHTML valid)
  • Supports comments, tags, categories, RSS, archiving etc
  • Plugin support
  • Widget system
  • Easy to customize with themes
  • Supports Windows Live Writer
  • Requires PHP4 or higher

4. CMSimple: At 100KB it’s one of the smallest CMS available.


  • Template driven layout using a CSS script
  • The contents of the site is stored in a single HTML-file
  • Written in PHP - it runs on Linux/Apache servers, or on Win32 with Apache or IIS
  • Inbuilt WYSIWYG editor
  • Uploading of images and files
  • Search function
  • Integration with 3rd party scripts possible

5. Guppy is a light weight CMS that doesn’t require any database. It can install and run from any web host, the only thing it requires is PHP. Guppy is extremely powerful and modular CMS that supports plug-ins and third party scripts.


  • Supports comments, directories, polls, forums, RSS, guestbook, etc
  • Customizable homepage. You can display the last messages of the discussion board, your preferred message drawn from the guestbook, a number of news as you like, a leading article. You choose the boxes to be displayed, in which order and the number of elements to let appear for each one.
  • Make certain website sections private
  • Multiple authors

6. RazorCMS is another very power and flexible CMS despite lacking a database. The core of the database is a tiny 200KB in size. Additional modules called Blades can be installed to increase it’s functionality. It even as 3 WYSIWYG editor to choose from. RazorCMS supports a large number of features suitable for small to moderate blogs and websites. It’s requires only PHP to run.

7. SkyBlue is a PHP based, database-less content management system. However, SkyBlueCanvas includes a lot of the same basic abilities as more robust systems like Joomla and Drupal but in a simpler form.


  • XML Data Storage (no database required)
  • Extensible
  • Flexible & Powerful Plugin API
  • Skinnable
  • Small in size (3.5MB)
  • Search Engine Friendly URLs (requires mod_rewrite)
  • Customizable Meta Tags (globally or by page)
  • Built-in RSS feed creation of pages, articles and news items

Most of the CMS discussed above have demos on their site where you can login to their Admin page and take a look around. Be sure to try it out.

Monday, September 7, 2009

WorldWide Telescope Aphelion released with new features

Microsoft has made available a new release of WorldWide Telescope desktop application as well as an upgrade to the web client. The new release named Aphelion includes many new features and bug fixes from previous versions. Microsoft also scrapped the Technical Preview label from the application taking it one step ahead in the development stage as WorldWide Telescope enters the beta phase.


WorldWide Telescope Aphelion brings to desktops around the world hundreds of terabytes of images from a variety of sources, including NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory Center, and Spitzer Space Telescope. The heart of the latest release is the incorporation of an entire collection of science-quality data, which will be available not only to researchers, but also to the general public, and amateurs to feed the astronomy addiction.

The images on Aphelion includes information such as when an image was taken, the start and stop times of the exposure, how long the exposure lasted, and what instrument took it. You can find the part of the sky in which the image appears. And once a high-dynamic-range image is loaded, it can be manipulated in various ways.

But the main attraction is the 3D exploration. The new WorldWide Telescope Aphelion allows users to explore the universe in three dimensions, to orbit around clusters and to fly into galaxies. So grab your 3D glasses and get going!

[via Softpedia]

TMonitor – Real time CPU clock monitoring

One of the many interesting features of the Intel Core i7 processor is the Intel Turbo Boost technology. While most modern processors are capable of running at various clock frequencies depending on the power usage, Turbo Boost is different. Instead of throttling down clock frequencies, Turbo Boost allows the processor to run at clock speeds higher than the stock speed. Turbo Boost is an over clocking feature managed autonomously by the processor.

The amount of over clocking depends on how heavily the cores of the processor are utilized and how much power is available. If the CPU is operating below rated temperature and power and if there is enough headroom, the clock speed of one or more of the cores could be automatically increased resulting in increased performance.

TMonitor is a CPU clock monitoring tool that allows you to watch the fluctuating clock speed of each core of the processor in real time. This tool is particularly useful in visualizing the Turbo Boost feature of the Core i7 processor. A very high refresh rate (20 times per second) allows visualization of even the smallest clock variation in real time.

The following screenshot shows the effect of Turbo Boost on an Intel Core i7 870 processor.


TMonitor is designed to work only with Intel Core 2 and Core i3/i5/i7 processors at the moment.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

outSSIDer – Sound alerted open WiFi network scanner

outSSIDer a free Windows software that scans your neighborhood for open, unencrypted WiFi networks so that you can surf for free. Whenever it finds one it alerts you and then tries to connect to it automatically.

All you have to do is run outSSIDer, close the laptop lid and start walking around the streets. When it detects an unencrypted wireless connection it alerts you with a sound. As the signal gets better you get a repeated ding-ding-ding sound, which means that you should stop and wait to allow the program to connect to the network. Once it successfully connects to the network you get a different tone notifying you of the success.

outsider-walk outsider-stop

The best thing about this program is that you don’t have to move around the streets looking for an open signal with your laptop open in your arms and instead disappear into an open manhole. Just walk around casually with your laptop nicely tucked under your arm but keep your ears open for the beeps. Once you are connected, find a place to sit down and surf right away. People will think you have a magical ability to sniff open WiFi connections with your nose.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Browser Chooser makes the default browser flexible

Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome ... when we have so many browsers to choose from, why stick to only one? I use at least 3 browsers to surf the web, but Windows allow us to keep only one as default. So if you have a web page saved on your hard disk and try to open it, or click a URL on a PDF file the page will always open in the browser you have assigned as default.

Blaze – Intelligent task automater and application launcher

Blaze is a an open source application for Windows that can be best described as your personal desktop assistant. It has a remarkable feature of always being aware of what you are doing and using that information to help you do your daily tasks. Blaze can be used in several different ways.

As an application launcher

Blaze functions as an application launcher. Now we have seen more than a couple of programs of this kind in the past. Blaze automatically indexes all your applications and all recently accessed files and folders. By default, Blaze only indexes your start menu shortcuts and the program files directory but you can make it index any directory on your hard disk. After it successfully builds up it’s index you just have to type the first few characters of the program you want to launch and it immediately finds the correct program.


But there is more to Blaze’s application launcher. Blaze has the ability to bear typos and, therefore, you don't have to be so careful while typing a command. You can also type program names in shortcut, and it almost always recognizes what you are trying to access. For instance, you can just type “wrd” and it will open Microsoft Word.



Blaze’s can also perform calculations, create emails, run command prompt commands, search the web etc directly from the application launcher.

As a task automater

Blaze can automate small repetitive tasks. As I said earlier, Blaze has the ability of being aware of what you are doing. It runs in the background and whenever it detects a repetitive action, it offers to complete the task for you. You don't have to teach him a thing. Blaze learns by itself and offers suggestions on his own. You just have to choose whether to accept its help or not.

For example, say you want to rename a few photos. After you rename the first few photos, Blaze will detect what you are doing and offer a suggestion such as this.


Blaze’s Assistant doesn’t always get it right. Occasionally it would confuse or come up with some idiotic suggestions, like one time I deleted a few files from the desktop when Blaze Assistant suggested I should delete the rest of the files from the desktop too. Another time, out of the blue, it told me I should delete the entire contents inside the “Opera” directory including .ini and .dat files.

As a macro recorder

Blaze is what they call an “Adaptive Macro Recorder”. Regular macros consist of strict input sequences that can’t adapt to new situations. Image that you recorded a regular macro in which you accessed some menus in a window, using mouse clicks. If you move the window to another position and you reproduce the recorded macro, you will notice that the mouse clicks will just miss their target.

Blaze has the ability to record Adaptive Macros, which are macros that can adapt to new window positions. To launch the macro recorder, type “Record Macro” on Blaze and start performing your actions. Once you are finished, you just have to invoke Blaze, by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Space, in order to stop the macro recording. Then, you can give a name to your newly created macro and save it.


To invoke your created macro, just type on Blaze the name you assigned to it and
press Enter.

Blaze supports number of plug-ins which can be edited to change their functionality. Features such as calculator, web search, email sender are available as plug-ins. Blaze also supports a handful of native commands that can do various other things like showing your IP address, killing processes by name, showing customized message box etc.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

5 short links for today #14

1. Goollery: A fun collection of projects related to Google build by various people. Really nice collection but not entirely complete. I couldn’t find some of the cool projects I covered in the past like Ships and Moon Lander.

cchronicles 2. CChronicles: Watch videos of computer experts of the 1980s in weird hairstyles talk about revolutionary technologies like computers, Internet, operating systems and such. It’s awesome how technology has evolved in such a short span. There are more than 70 videos at the time of writing this.

3. Ta-da List: Easy to use, sharable, web based to-do lists. I like the name.

4. Freezly: This site tells you what’s free on the Internet right now by searching Twitter for links to giveaways and offers. It’s a lot like Tweetmeme.

5. How many people are in space right now? If you ever need to answer this question, you go to this place. They also got an RSS feed.

Everything you knew about proper CD handling is wrong

How many times have you shouted at people for putting CDs on the desk the wrong side up? You must have taught countless number of people to put the CD with the label side down to avoid getting scratches on the writing side. Well, this might come as a surprise for you (unless you already know it) - you are protecting the wrong side of the CD!

The shinny side of an optical disc is the side the data is read off by the CD or DVD player, so it seems only right and natural to protect the shinny surface from scratches by laying the CD, label side down on our desk when not in use. But that’s a big mistake. To understand why you have to understand how CDs are constructed.

CDs store data as tiny physical pits on a perfectly flat polycarbonate or plastic disc. The data is stamped on the top side of a plastic disc creating millions of pits and bumps in a spiral from the center of the disc outward. A very thin layer of reflective material, usually aluminum (copper, silver or gold on higher quality CDs), is applied to the top of the CD covering the data. This layer reflects light from the laser beam passing through the polycarbonate material allowing the stamped data to be read.


A very thin coating of lacquer is applied on top of the reflective layer to act as a sealant for the reflective foil underneath. The graphics (label) is printed on top of the lacquer layer. The reflective foil, lacquer, and graphic layers combined are only as thin as a human hair and offer little to no protection to the data beneath them.

Scratching or damaging the label side will damage the CD beyond repair. Damage which penetrates down to the reflective layer, which is dangerously close to the top, will affect the disc's readability and is not repairable. Scratches on the polycarbonate read side of the disc may cause the laser beam to be distorted during the reading process. These scratches can be repaired as long as they don't penetrate down to the encoded information. But if you damage the top, you might as well throw it away.

So which is the right way to put your CD on the desk? There is none. You shouldn’t put your discs on the desk, any side. When not in use it should go straight into the case or the CD pouch. Both sides of the disk are vulnerable to scratches and are equally damaging to the data they hold.

DVDs however offer comparatively better protection because the reflective layer is sandwiched between two polycarbonate discs, offering equal protection from either side.

The next time you see someone place a CD the “wrong-side” down, don’t get annoyed. They probably know what they are doing.

Also read: Why recordable CD/DVD does not last long?

Sources Reddit, CDRepairman, Fresh Spin

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