8start – An Useful & Portable Startup Program

We all have seen how the native Windows Startup becomes so painfully in-adequate when you start installing a lot of programs. It will be nice to have customizable startup options so you get to the frequently accessed programs easily & quickly. We have seen some excellent application launchers like Launchy, Enso, etc. Still those are fin when you know what you want to open. But, you might even forget the programs you have installed for a particular task.

8start is a portable startup program that is highly customizable. Keith has included this cool startup program in his Hall of Fame, Best of Everything post and I totally agree. 8start Tree Notes

Let’s look at the features it offers:

  • A customizable keyboard shortcut to bring it up with a keystroke or you can access it by mouse or from the system tray
  • Organize your shortcuts into groups & categories
  • Create & configure buttons for all your favorite applications
  • Create buttons for shortcuts, url favorites, files, folders and application links
  • Buttons are customizable to different sizes and you can add them to Groups.
  • Then you can organize groups into Categories such as ‘General’, ‘Development’, ‘Media’, etc.
  • Custom skin support (transparent png)
  • You can choose to display drive space for any drive of your choice
  • Tree-Notes feature – full featured note taking option (I haven’t played much with this yet)

8start Launcher

The initial setup may not be very intuitive or easy with drag & drop support or anything. But, once you have set it up the way you want it, it will be an indispensable one for a power user.

If you have been tired of your cluttered desktop icons crowding your beatiful wallpaper, you’ll appreciate this tool once you have everything setup. Again, a casual user might find this hard to use but for a power user it’ll be quite easy to figure it out.

I have been loving Enso Launcher but there are times I have to hit the Start Menu to dig out a program I can’t remember and 8start is going to help me greatly with it.

[image credits: 8start.com]

WinLibre – Useful Open Source Software In One Pack

I am a big fan of open source software and we have seen an explosion of quality software in this area. I cringe when someone says that they just bought a Norton AntiVirus or any of the other bloatware out there.

People simply don’t know of these excellent options available for free and we need to get the word out there. What if you have actually convinced someone to try some of these free open-source alternatives. Now, you have to get them to forget the famous names like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, etc and remember unearthly names like Gimp, InkScape, OpenOffice, Firefox, etc.

Even if you got them to remember a couple, it’ll be an up-hill battle. I am sure you have been there atleast once. No, you will not find that excellent browser I told you about if you Googled for Foxfire, it is Firefox. You catch the drift?

That’s where WinLibre comes in. Continue reading WinLibre – Useful Open Source Software In One Pack

PricePinx – Get Email Alerts on Price Drops

I am a big fan of bookmarklets and I love shopping online. I just came across a web service that brings the best of those two worlds together.

First, lets talk about online shopping and how you can save some dough by using some cool web services. Traditionally, we might see an item in a store shelf and if you are a deal nut like me, you’d probably go back to check on the prices now and then to see if the prices dropped. In the online shopping world, you would do this by bookmarking a product page and re-visiting it from time to time (could be several times a day depending on how obsessed you are) to see if there’s been a price drop to sang it at the ‘right’ price’.

There have been several web services, Firefox extensions, etc to help you automate this process. They will notify you when a price of an item that you are interested in drops. Without you lifting a finger.

PricePinx does the same for you. It can keep an eye on the product you are interested in and sends you an alert by email when there has been a price drop. I like how they have implemented this. They have built a bookmarklet that you can drag to your browser toolbar. When you are looking at a product page, just highlight the price and hit the bookmarklet to start watching that product. That’s it!

Price Pinx

You don’t even have to be registered to use this service. But, if you take moment to do so, you can manage all your alerts from one place. On hitting the !pinx bookmarklet, you will be taken to a page where you can enter your login information or just provide an email address where you would like to get an alert. Isn’t the simplicity of using this so cool?

Price Pinx 2

It is supported in a lot of the online shoppings places such as Amazon, NewEgg, Overstock, Buy.com, BestBuy, etc. You just have to make sure you pinx! it from the product detail page and not somewhere else like the order page, etc.

I like a service when it makes my life online easier without making me jump through hoops to get there. This one definitely fits the bill or rather for saving the bill.

!pinx bookmarklet

Check out my other Top Browser Bookmarklets that I love and use, if you into that sorta things.

3 Free & Easy To Use Screencast Recording Tools

I have started to use screencasts for showing someone how to do something in a computer remotely than trying to guide them over the phone without looking their screen. As you know, it can get really frustrating. Here are a few free solutions I have tried so far:

FreeScreenCast.com

FreeScreenCast.com (beta) offers a free screencast recorder software which requires you to have Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 & Windows Media Encoder installed. The recorder itself is plain with no bells and whistles but very easy to use by even technically challenged folks who want to do something like this.

Continue reading 3 Free & Easy To Use Screencast Recording Tools

Create Online Flip Books From PDF Easily

Issuu is a cool web service which gives the power for a publisher with a PDF document to extend his reach to more readers. Issuu lets you upload a pdf document and convert that into a nice flip book that is readable via the web. Your reader don’t have to download your document or have to make sure they have a pdf reader like Adobe Reader or the fast & free Foxit Reader installed in their computer to read your document.

Issuu gives you the ability to convert your PDF into an online publication in just a few simple steps for free. It doesn’t stop there. You could embed this online publication in your own website, or on your Issuu profile or just view it with their standalone viewer.

Continue reading Create Online Flip Books From PDF Easily

ZiePod – A Cool Podcast Player

I have recently taken up to listening to podcasts while working. I know I am very late to the game but with a less than 15 minute commute to work, I haven’t had the urge/need to download podcasts to my iPod and listen to them. But, recently with my day job getting hectic and finding little time at home to keep up with the tech news, I am resorting to listening to podcasts, while working, on variety of topics to keep myself informed.

I tried a few different podcast players and now have settled to using a very cool one from the makers of Newzie and it’s called Ziepod. ZiePod Logo

ZiePod is a very cool podcast receiver and is free to use and it’s paid counterpart ZiePod+ has few more features like support for video.

Continue reading ZiePod – A Cool Podcast Player

PuTTY Connection Manager – Get Tabbed PuTTY Interface

I asked a couple of months earlier if PuTTY can get any Snazzier? I am going to have to take that back and admit that it just did. And more.

PuTTY is one of the most loved tool for anyone connecting to a Linux or Unix server from Windows. It helps to easily save connection information and its properties in an easy to use interface. But, it has stayed with that basic functionality for years.

Earlier, we looked at how PuTTY Tray enhanced its usability a little by being able to minimize it to the system tray as well as give it a nice icon to identify. The only gripe I had with it was the lack of a tabbed interface in an otherwise awesome tool.

Continue reading PuTTY Connection Manager – Get Tabbed PuTTY Interface

Download BitTorrent Files Without A Client

You have probably heard of a dozen or so BitTorrent clients to download files. There are also plenty of places to find torrent files as well.

BitLet.org aims to fill a niche where you might be in a situation while travelling or when you are ay someone else’s place without your BitTorrent client. BitLet.org lets you specify the URL of a torrent metafile and download the file of your choice right from the browser without a client.

Quick BitLet Facts

  • BitLet is a web bittorrent client that lets you download files
  • You just give it the URL of the torrent meta file and select the directory you want to download it to
  • BitLet works via a Java applet and it shows you the download progress in a popup window
  • BitLet offers a code generator for publishers wishing to provide a link to download a file with BitLet
  • It lets you generate and upload your own torrent meta file
  • It directly uploads to mininova but is configurable to upload to other servers.
  • They also offer a bookmarklet to make a ‘download by Bitlet’ appear by a .torrent file link in many torrent sites.
  • As a new feature, Bitlet lets you listen to music you are streaming using BitTorrent.
  • The player opens in a applet similar to the download window and currently supports MP3 & OGG file formats with support for more types coming soon.

BitLet

Overall, BitLet is a great alternative for situations where one might not have access to a full blown BitTorrent client or where the use of such software is restricted. It is also a great way for a publisher to give file download access to a casual downloader who might not have knowledge of such software.

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Never Spell a Word Wrong Again with Enso Words

I reviewed Enso Launcher last week here. After a week of using it, I am totally impressed by its simplicity yet how easy it is to get used to.

If you haven’t read my last post, Enso Launcher is for Windows what QuickSilver is to Mac but different in its construction and in the way you can teach it to learn your own bookmarks, shortcuts and applications. (you can see the Enso Launcher command cheatsheet here)

Humanized is the company that brings Enso line of products and another one worth mentioning is Enso Words. As the name implies, Enso Words is a Universal Spellchecker and brings English dictionary to your fingertips.

Enso Spell Checker

Enso Words

Enso Words is free to use and works the same way as Enso Launcher. You hold the Caps Lock (or the key you define in preferences) and type ‘spe(llcheck)’, after selecting the text you want to do spell checking for, and then release the key. Enso Words brings up a overlay screen where it highlights words that are misspelt or those that aren’t in Enso’s dictionary.

You can correct the highlighted words and Enso would auto-complete just after typing a few letters. Very helpful if you are not sure of the correct spelling. Or you can just press the mouse button on the misspelt word and Enso shows you alternate spelling. If the spelt word is like a name you use often and you know is right, there is an option ‘Learn this word’ so next time around Enso would know it. When you are finished with your corrections, you can type ‘done’ to finish. Very nifty.

Enso Words

Enso Dictionary

Enso Dictionary puts the English language at your fingertips. With the ‘define’ command, you can select any word or type any word to get its meaning in an overlay screen. You could also browse through previous meanings you looked up in this screen. Enso also offers ‘thesaurus’ command to look up similar words.

Enso Words

For me, when I tried the define command it takes me to Answers.com for a meaning and I couldn’t get the overlay as shown in their demo. If you find out how to get that, please let me know in the comments below.

Count Words & Characters

I use ScribeFire as my brain dump to just quickly create notes for blog topics and write the things on my mind as a draft. I love this because it’s always there in my browser thoughout the day and I don’t have run a separate application. With Enso Words, I can do some cool things like ‘character count’ and ‘word count’. I have typed 412 words so far and I never had this kind of information at my fingertips before.Download Enso Words

Download Enso Launcher

My 2 Cents

I usually try to see the positive in everything and talk more the pros than cons. But, Enso has become an important tool in my productivity arsenal and I think that reflects the way I talk about it in this post. Don’t be put off by the thought of typing all these commands. Enso autocompletes every one of them after you type a few letters and it gets completely natural.

One thing that would make Enso 200% perfect for me is if it highlighted commonly misspelt words like ‘hear – here’, ‘there -their’ and such. It’s not that I don’t know the difference to use in a context but it is so easy to type the wrong one when you are concentrating on the writing something useful bit. May be I have to work on my proof reading.

Thanks for tuning in and see you next week! Have a great weekend everyone.

Enso Launcher – A humane Program Launcher

If you are into improving your productivity while you are at your computer, you can use an shortcut enhancer such as Enso Launcher. You have probably heard of or using Launchy at the moment to launch programs or shortcuts efficiently. Let’s look at a new offering in this area and how it surpasses everything else you have seen in efficienc.

What is Enso Launcher?

Humanized is a software created to make the complications in using a computer in this age a little bit less. While working on something like writing an article, we are distracted by having to launch other appilcations in between for eg. to do a calculation, or get meaning for a word or do a web search. It breaks our concentration and makes it harder to perform the task at hand harder.

Enso Logo

Continue reading Enso Launcher – A humane Program Launcher