All posts by Pallab De

Pallab De is a blogger from India who has a soft spot for anything techie. He loves trying out new software and spends most of his day breaking and fixing his PC. Pallab loves participating in the social web; he has been active in technology forums since he was a teenager and is an active user of both twitter (@indyan) and facebook .

Monitor Changes To Your System With Tiny Watcher

Tiny Watcher is a free utility which takes a snapshot of crucial areas of your system and alerts you if something has been changed. It creates a snapshot of running processes, start-up registry keys, services registry keys, scheduled tasks, system directories and other sensitive registry keys.

Tiny-Watcher-Scan
Tiny-Watcher-Scanning

Tiny Watcher is designed to function without getting in your way. It automatically scans your system for changes on start-up and can also be run on demand. Although the report generated by Tiny Watcher is comprehensive, it provides very little usable information about each entry. Hence, it is entirely up to the user to determine whether the changes are innocuous or malicious. Tiny Watcher is primarily a monitoring tool, however the option to delete or even permanently disable certain items is also available.

Tiny Watcher

Techie Buzz Verdict

Tiny Watcher is a useful utility for monitoring changes made by dubious applications. It’s not something meant for novice users. While it is a good choice if you want a simplistic solution, there are other better alternatives (like Winpatrol).

Techie-Buzz Rating: 2/5 (Average)

Protect Yourself From USB Viruses With Ninja Pendisk

After the internet, USB devices are the favorite target of malware developers. A huge majority of modern trojan horses, worms and viruses automatically copy themselves onto USB devices and spread by misusing the autorun.inf file.

Ninja Pendisk is a portable application which sits quietly in the system tray and springs into action as soon as any USB device is inserted. It scans the USB drive for commonly virulent files like autorun.inf and ctfmon.exe and cleans it if any malware if detected. It also immunizes your pendrive from further infection by creating a folder called Autorun.inf with elevated privileges.

Pen-Ninja-USB-Cleaner

Ninja Pendisk is absolutely bare-bones software. There is basically no interface to speak of. All the configuration options are provided through the context menu of the system tray icon. It is completely automated and scans any device as soon as it is plugged-in. However, it doesn’t present any option to scan an already plugged in device or hard disks.

Pen-Ninja-Options

Techie Buzz Verdict

In my testing I found that the immunization aspect of Ninja Pendisk to be overly simplistic. I was able to delete the autorun.inf folder without any problem. Panda USB and AutoRun Vaccine does a better job at immunization by making it almost impossible to remove the autorun.inf folder without re-formatting the USB Drive. However, it did succeed in removing all the malware from my pen drive. Ninja Pendisk does a decent job at protecting you from USB viruses, but there isn’t any reason why you would need it if you already have an antivirus software.

Techie Buzz Rating: 2/5 (Average)

[ Download Ninja Pendisk ]

Microsoft Ties Up With Twitter and Facebook: Will Integrate Real Time Updates Into Bing

Microsoft-Bing-Twitter-Facebook The search engine war is on! Earlier today we revealed that Google may be planning on launching its own music service to enhance music related search results. Now according to latest reports, Microsoft is expected to announce non-exclusive deals with both Facebook and Twitter later today.

This deal will give Microsoft access to both Facebook and Twitter status updates and will undoubtedly give them a huge advantage over Google. Google has clearly started that real time search is their biggest challenge. Unfortunately for them, the partnership with Twitter and Facebook would offer Bing a wealth of data that won’t be available to them. It has already been demonstrated more than once that Twitter is extremely agile when it comes to breaking news. The access to Twitter (and Facebook) data stream will allow Bing to react faster to emerging trends.

While this deal is undoubtedly a big step for Microsoft Bing, it must be remembered that both of them are non-exclusive in nature. In other words, there is nothing stopping Google from partnering with Twitter or Facebook tomorrow. A lot will also depend on Microsoft’s ability to properly integrate real time data received from Facebook and Twitter.

[ via All Things D ]

Rumour: Google To Provide Streaming Music In Search Results

Google-MusicGoogle is getting ready to launch its own music service and an announcement is imminent, if TechCrunch is to be believed. However, Google isn’t planning on competing with iTunes (or other online Music stores) and its Music service will be very different.

Google won’t be selling downloads or offering subscriptions. Instead it will integrate free streams into search results for music related queries. It is also expected to provide additional relevant information like cover art and snippet about artists and albums. Basically, Google is planning on beefing up the One Box for music to include everything a user searching for music may need. For example, if you search for Linking Park, Google will not only display a snippet about Linkin Park but will also allow you to listen to songs by Linkin Park. It’s not yet clear, if Google will be providing full length songs or only previews. However Google has reportedly partnered with web-based music services like iLike and Lala for sourcing its content. All the major music labels are also expected to be on board.

Google has been tinkering vigorously with their search engine over the past year in its quest to stay ahead of the competition. Integrating streaming music previews is a logical next step for Google which should help in winning over the sizable population of music lovers.

Windows Access Panel Provides Instant Access To Windows Utilities

Windows ships with dozens of system utilities which allows the user to modify almost every aspect of the operating system. However, many of these utilities are buried deep within the Control Panel. Even worse, it is impossible to access some of these utilities like the DirectX diagnostic tool (dxdiag), unless you know exactly what you are looking for.

Windows Access Panel is a portable utility developed by The Windows Club which includes shortcuts for launching forty eight Windows utilities. The utilities are grouped into two tabs Basic and Advanced. The basic section contains many commonly required utilities like Checkdisk, Registry Editor, Group Policy Editor, Windows Firewall, System Restore and Disk Defragmenter. The advanced section contains utilities like DirectX Diagnostics, Memory Diagnostics, Performance Monitor, Resource Monitor, Task Scheduler and Problem Step Recorder.

Windows-Access-Panel

Techie Buzz Verdict

Windows Access Panel doesn’t add anything to Windows. It basically acts as a launcher for Windows system utilities. It is something all PC repair guys (and tech enthusiasts who love toying with their system) should have in their collection. Windows Access Panel will also help novices discover useful Windows Utilities they might not have been aware of. It is a nice little application which definitely serves a purpose.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Download Windows Access Panel for Windows Vista and 7 (32 Bit only)

VirtuaWin Adds Multiple Desktop Support to Windows

Windows Desktop has come a long way since its Windows 95 days. Windows 7 desktop offers an excellent mix of looks and usability. However, one of the sore points of Windows is the lack of virtual desktops. Almost all Linux desktop environments have had this for ages and now even smart phones (like N900) support multiple desktops.

VirtuaWin is a free utility which adds support for virtual desktops in Windows. You can have as many as nine difference workspaces (or desktops). Each desktop can house its own set of application windows thus allowing better organization. VirtuaWin allows quick switching between desktops using mouse as well as hotkeys. Moving applications across workspaces is a breeze thanks to drag and drop support.

VirtuaWin-Multiple-Desktop-for-Windows

 

Techie Buzz Verdict

Techie-Buzz-Reccomends

VirtuaWin is a no-frills utility. It may lack the fancy transition effects of Compiz, but it more than gets the job done. Not only that, there are more than a dozen modules (add-ons) available for VirtuaWin which further enhances this already excellent software. If you are looking for a simple yet powerful Virtual Desktop Manager for Windows you would be hard pressed to find a better option than VirtuaWin.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5
[ Download VirtuaWin ]

Power Plan Assistant: Intelligent Power Management Tool For Windows 7

Power Plan Assistant is a power plan management utility for Windows 7. Windows 7 includes fairly detailed power management options and offers three power plans out of the box. Power Plan Assistant makes use of the power management features present in Windows 7 and adds additional functionalities which make management easier.

Power-Plan-Assistant-Windows7

The best feature of Power Plan Assistant is its ability to automatically change power plans based on the current power supply. It can use High Performance when your system is plugged-in, switch to Balanced when your system is running on battery and change to Power Saver mode when battery level falls below 40%.

Power-Plan-Assistant-Windows7

Power Plan Assistant also offers a few other handy features like the ability to instantly power off the display or change between any power plans (including all custom power plans). Power Plan Assistant is a nifty utility with a nice range of features. It is classified as a donationware. The free builds of Power Plan Assistant expires every week. In order to keep using it you will either have to donate or download a new weekly build.

[ Download Power Plan Assistant ]

Confirmed: Facebook Redesign In The Works

It’s official now. Facebook has indeed been working on a redesign of its home page. The planned redesign will take a leaf or two out of Facebook Lite’s book and beef up the activity stream.

The biggest change is the addition of Top Stories. Until now Facebook only displayed the most recent news feeds on the home page. However, in the redesigned version you will also be presented with the option to view the top news feeds. The Top News section will contain the most interesting updates as determined by an algorithm.

Top-News-In-Facebook

There are numerous other changes in the new home page. The publisher box is now hidden by default and has been replaced with an Update Status button. Facebook has also listened to user complaints and will be bringing back many items lost in the March update. Friend acceptances, relationships, event RSVPs and group memberships will now be featured in the news feed. Facebook page related activities (such as friends becoming a fan of a Page and virtual gifts) will also be included on the home page.

Activity-Updates-Facebook

For more details check out the document leaked by Mashable (embedded below)

[ via Mashable ]

Omnibar Extension Emulates Google Chrome’s Addressbar in Firefox

The Omnibar is one of the many innovations by Google Chrome. Instead of having separate address and search boxes, Chrome utilises a single box for both. The good news for Firefox users craving this functionality is that making Firefox’s Awesomebar emulate the Omnibar is rather simple.

Omnibar extension for Firefox offers a nice mix of features, aesthetics and usability. In order to perform a search just type the query and press Enter. This will open up the default search engine. If you want to use any other search engine, you will need to prefix the query with the search engine name (e.g. “@yahoo test query” if you want to use Yahoo). Search engine keywords are also supported hence you can simply use “@y” instead of “@yahoo”. You can even query multiple search engines simultaneously by using advanced search operators. For example, “@google,yahoo test query” will open both Google and Yahoo search.

Omnibar-For-Firefox

Omnibar may not have the psychic powers of Google Chrome, but it still manages to impress with its nifty feature set. In case you don’t want all the additional features offered by Omnibar for Firefox and simply want to merge the address and search bar, you can also use this userstyle for Firefox.

[ Download Firefox Omnibar Extension ]

Twitter to Allow Grouping of Friends With Lists

TwitterWith the explosive growth of Twitter, one problem many users have been facing is information overload. With no way to organise tweets, following several hundred users can become overwhelming. Till now the only solution was to use the grouping feature offered by various 3rd party Twitter clients like Tweetdeck and Seesmic. However, all that is set to change with Twitter announcing that it plans to introduce lists very soon.

In a blog-post, Twitter revealed that it is currently beta testing lists on a limited set of Twitter users plans to go public with it very soon. They will offer a convenient way to group your contacts. Lists will be public by default and linked from your profile. Since other users can subscribe to your lists, Twitter is hoping that it will offer a new way to discover new tweets and accounts.

Twitter is already working on adding support for geo-location and retweets. Along with them this new feature represents one of the long standing demands from the users and will add a new dimension to Twitter.

Share Your E-mail Address Securely With reCAPTCHA Mailhide

Google Wave emerged from the shadows earlier today, stirring up the entire interweb in the process. While those fortunate enough to receive a Google Wave invite rejoiced, others resorted to buying them from eBay or begging on twitter and message boards. In the process many bid adieu to even the most basic sensibilities like not sharing e-mail addresses publically.

Publically sharing e-mail addresses on micro-blogs, social networks or message boards is equivalent to welcoming spammers with open arms. It’s ridiculously easy for a bot to harvest e-mail addresses shared in plain text. Even using fake [at] emailid [dot] com instead of [email protected] isn’t very helpful since most bots are intelligent enough to recognise such minor modifications.

Thankfully, there is an easy we out. reCaptcha has a little known service called Mailhide. Mailhide basically allows you to input your email address and instantly generate a sharable hyperlink. When other people click on the link your e-mail id will be shared with them, provided they prove themselves as human by passing reCaptcha’s test.

MailHide by reCaptcha
MailHide by reCaptcha

What’s brilliant about this method is that it is hassle-free for both parties. Sharing as well as receiving an e-mail id is extremely simple and fast. So, if you must share your email address publically use reCaptcha to protect it from spam-bots.

Polish Up Windows Vista With Vize GUI Enhancer

It’s common knowledge that Windows Vista was a rushed release. Even Bill Gates admitted that it could have used a little more polish. Vista is full of rough edges. One of the most annoying oversights being the dozens of ugly icons, bitmaps and animations left over from previous builds of Windows.

Vize is a free GUI enhancer for Windows Vista which replaces most of the icons, bitmaps and animations Microsoft forgot to replace. Vize works by directly patching more than 75 system files. This ensures that Vize doesn’t require any additional resources to run.

Vize GUI Enhancer for Vista

Vize completely automates the process of replacing system files, however it is recommended that you create a system restore point before installing Vize. Go ahead and give your Vista installation the fit and finish it deserves.

[ Download Vize for Windows Vista ]

Find And Download Driver Updates With Device Doctor

Windows driver update service is sloppy at best. Although it offers to connect to the internet and automatically download the latest driver software for your hardware, it rarely comes up with anything useful. Device Doctor is a freeware which automatically scans your computer hardware and identifies driver updates available for your hardware.

Device Doctor’s database includes drivers for over 13 million individual devices. This equates to more than 3 terabytes of drivers. Device Doctor was designed to be convenient and straight forward. It provides only one option, which is to “Begin Scan”. Scanning is relatively fast and takes less a minute. In our test system Device Doctor found three available driver updates, all of which were valid.

Device Doctor: Find and Download Driver Updates

Device Doctor supports Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 and was designed to work on both 32 bit and 64 bit systems. While there are plenty of applications to download driver updates, Device Doctor is probably the simplest.

[ Download Device Doctor ]

Three Really Useful Windows 7 Tips

If you are using Windows 7, you are probably aware of new features like Aero Shake and Aero Peek. However, Windows 7 is also packed with lots of neat stuff which aren’t immediately apparent. Today we will share three simple yet effective tips which will help you use Windows 7 even more efficiently.

1. Pin Folders to Windows Explorer

A little known feature is that you can drag and drop frequently accessed folders on the Windows Explorer icon present in the taskbar. This is the quickest way to Pin a folder to Windows Explorer. Pinned folders show up in the Jump List when you right click on Windows Explorer icon.

Pin Folders to Windows Explorer

2. Use Check Boxes in Windows Explorer

Although check boxes were added in Windows Vista, many people are still not aware of it. Check boxes allow you to quickly select multiple items without having to press the CTRL key. To enable check boxes go to Organize→Folder and Search Options→View and check the “Use check boxes to select items” option.

Use Check Boxes

3. Use Search Connectors

You can search the web even without launching your browser using Windows Search Connectors. Windows 7 supports federated search which allows you to add almost any online search engine to Windows 7. SevenForums contains more than a dozen search providers which should help you in getting started.

Did you find these tips helpful? Don’t forget to let us know. And check out Microsoft Technet if you are looking for some more helpful Windows Seven tips.

Password Protect Any Application With Desklock

Don’t be misled by the name. Desklock isn’t just another desktop locking software. Instead of locking the entire system it only locks specified applications. You can password protect any application by simply adding it to Desklock’s list. Desklock sits quietly in the system tray and prompts the user for a password as soon as an application in its list is launched. The application execution is blocked till the correct password is supplied.

Desklock is ideal for situations where you have to share your computer with multiple users. It can also act as basic parental control software whereby parents can restrict access to certain applications installed on the system.

Password Protect Applications with Desklock

Desklock can also be effectively used as a boss key software. You can instantly hide or show any application. What makes Desklock even more effective is that you can even hide Desklock’s own system tray icon. Most activities like changing settings and revealing hidden windows require a password. The default password is 2 and can easily be changed by the user.

[Download Desklock]

via GHacks