Category Archives: Featured Articles

The featured articles at Techie Buzz

Editorial: Should You Buy Windows 7?

The widely anticipated , will be released on October 22nd. Windows 7 is perhaps the best operating systems Microsoft ever made, and after Windows Vista’s debacle, it has definitely put Microsoft fortunes on the right path again.

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But should you as a user upgrade to Windows 7? Should you invest more money to buy a new OS? Should you wait to hear feedback from others before you upgrade?

Also Read: Ultimate List of Tips & Tricks for Windows 7

These questions cannot be easily answered, but let me tell you one thing. If you are using , it is well worth the $120 or so to upgrade to Windows 7. To be very frank Windows Vista was a nightmare, not only for Microsoft, but for several million users who were forced into buying new PCs and Laptops, pre-loaded with Windows Vista.

Frustrations with Windows Vista

When I was running Windows Vista on my HP Special Edition laptop, there was not one day, without frustrations and crashes. Since I have moved to Windows 7 RTM, I have been able to run the same laptop with double productivity. Not once have I seen a crash or BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), which is so famous and ridiculed in almost every Microsoft OS.

To be frank, I used Windows Vista for more than a year, and that piece of crap cut down my productivity to the lowest levels. I was spending more time trying to keep the system stable, running as few applications as I could, while I could get my work done.

As far as Windows 7 goes, I can tell you that I am very much satisfied. I have been able to open 30 applications at once, without even having my CPU or memory load go beyond 75%, a truly amazing feat.

Also Read: 3 Really Useful Windows 7 Tips

More Control for the User with UAC

Microsoft’s attempt at providing security, completely went wrong with the introduction of UAC (User Access Control). Not only was it totally annoying, it also made users less productive even when they wanted to perform the smallest of tasks.

Of course, you could always disable UAC in Vista. However, the mere thought of its existence made many users fret. Windows 7 also comes with UAC, however, this time Microsoft has given more control to the users, by allowing them to set the level of control the OS should have over activities on the PC. You can also disable the UAC in Windows 7.

Features and Goodies in Windows 7

To add to that, Microsoft has really put all its efforts into making Windows 7 productive for the users. Features like the redone taskbar, Libraries, JumpList, Aero peek, Aero Glass and Aero Shake make it a wonderful experience to work with. Windows 7 is the best in every way I could see. It makes everyday computing easier.

Drivers, Drivers and more Drivers

Back in the days, when I was using Windows 98. I had a full stack of drivers in the form of floppy drives and CDs. That stack grew smaller once I moved to Windows XP. However, it grew substantially after I moved to Windows Vista.

With Windows 7, I did not have to install a single driver, everything was installed for me. It detected each and every hardware on my laptop, and installed all the correct drivers. No more figuring out those yellow marks in the device manager.

Windows Vista, was a system administrators nightmare since it did not recognize even popular hardware. Windows 7 on the other hands will make system administrators pretty happy, since their work is cut down as far as installing drivers is concerned.

Lower Requirements to Run Windows 7

Windows 7 might work just fine on your old PC or laptop, unlike Windows Vista which had requirements that were extravagant in every sense. On the other hand, Windows 7 will work on your old workhorse, powering your Windows XP installation. However, having a decent graphics card and at-least 1GB Ram is recommended.

You may want to check the system requirements for Windows 7, to verify if your old system will be able to run Windows 7.

Benchmarking Windows 7

Several sites have benchmarked Windows 7, and most of the times, it has performed much better than its predecessor.

There are improvements in boot time, shutdown time and wakeup from sleep, which were really very slow in Windows Vista. In my tests, I have been able to run more than 35 full-blown heavy applications and haven’t yet seen any problems.

Ball is Your Court

The ultimate decision of buying Windows 7 or not, is in your hands. However, before you do buy it, take a tour and try it for yourself. What works for someone, may not actually work out for someone else. The best option, is to try things out for yourself before you make a decision.

You might also want to consider, that in the future will no longer be supported. On the other hand, Windows Vista is a pain in the posterior. Windows 7 is not cheap, however you can buy anytime upgrade and a family pack which will allow you to install the same copy on 3 PCs.

Starting October 22nd you can also buy new laptops and desktop computers pre-loaded with Windows 7. If you want to upgrade your current PC or laptop, you can take a look at Windows 7 pricing and decide if you want to upgrade.

It would be interesting to know if you would be buying Windows 7 or upgrading your current PC? Do let us know about your thoughts.

Synchronize Google/Gmail Contacts With Outlook

I use both and on a day to day basis, making use of email, contacts and calendar to manage my day to day life. However, managing multiple calendar entries and contacts can be quite a hassle.

I use a software called Google Calendar Sync to keep Outlook and Google Calendar in sync, however I have been looking for find a suitable synchronization tool for contacts.

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Google Contacts Outlook Synchronizer is a handy that synchronizes the contacts between Outlook and your regular Gmail account. This app also supports contact synchronization for Google Apps account.

Once you install the software, choose the direction in which the synchronization should happen. You might want to choose a higher Synchronization interval, as you hardly keep editing contacts every 5 minutes, 6 to 12 hours interval should be good enough.

Download Google Contacts Outlook Synchronizer

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Gmail Introduces “Did you mean?” Email/Name Suggestions

has announced a new feature in which will offer email and name suggestions, while adding recipients to an email. This feature will definitely come in handy, while using auto-completion for typing out email addresses.

Why is this Feature useful?

I have 7 contacts with the name Markin my email account, all of them have different email addresses. Now say, I want to send an email to Mark no 3, however instead of that, by mistake I use Mark no 2’s email address.

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The new feature introduced by Gmail will display suggestions in the form of Did you mean, which is also shown in Google Search for mistyped words.

wrong_bob1 wrong_bob2 wrong_bob3

This will definitely save you a lot of embarrassment, which may occur due to you sending out an email to the wrong person.

How Does it Work?

Gmail will basically study your habits and suggest you the alternatives based on the past emails you have sent to a group of people.

If you normally email Bob Smith together with Tim and Angela, but this time you added Bob Jones instead, we’ll warn you that it might be a mistake. Note that this only works if you’re emailing more than two people at once

The new feature is available under Settings -> Labs – Don’t forget Bob. Once you activate this feature, you will start seeing suggestions, when you compose an email with 2 or more recipients.

New in Labs: Got the Wrong Bob? [Official Gmail Blog]

Illustration via Geek and Poke

Ultimate List of Google Wave Tips and Tricks

Now that is out in the wild, we are back with another . This time around we are doing a ultimate list of , which will help you get started out with Google Wave, and also look at some really useful features and tools that you could put to use.

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What Is Google Wave?

Before you even get started with Google Wave, here is a short and sweet video which answers the question What is Google Wave?.

While you are getting started out, watch a cute little video that attempts to make Google Wave simpler for end users.

First Look at Google Wave

Haven’t look around Google Wave yet? Our team at Techie Buzz have written about their first impressions of Google Wave, and a Hands-on review of Google Wave developer edition.

In addition to that, my favorite editor Gina Trapani, takes a first look at Google Wave. Mike Keller from PC World has some more insights with his Hands-on review of Google Wave.

11 Wave Tools That You Thought Never Existed

So you have been using Wave for quite sometime now, but do you know all the tools that exist? Orli, from Go2Web20 has put up a list of 11 Wave Tools You May Not Know Exist, which lists out tools that are really useful but haven’t reached the popularity level yet.

Google Wave Shortcuts, Filtering and more

Gina Trapani takes a look at Google wave shortcuts, filtering, bots and more in her extensive article, Google Wave 101.

Complete Guide to Google Wave

Ben Parr from Mashable, has written an excellent post about the what, why and how of Google wave. If you have just begun using Google Wave, don’t forget to read the Complete Google Wave guide.

Best Features in Google Wave

Once again, Gina Trapani who is definitely one of the experts using Google Wave, takes a look at several features and goodies in Google wave in her post, Google Wave Highlight Reel.

Google Wave Use Cases

Lifehacker readers responded to a poll to tell us the best use-cases of Google Wave. Check out, how users are using Google wave for education and collaborative learning, Healthcare, transportation and more at Google Wave’s Best Use Cases.

3 Google Wave Searches Worth Saving

Gina Trapani tells us about 3 searches that will come in pretty handy in Google Wave. The search keywords helps you to sort out waves that have only been sent to you, waves that have been created by you and your personal notes. Check out the post about 3 Google Wave Searches worth saving at Smarterware.

Educational Google Wave Videos

Here are some videos, which delve into several features of Google Wave, making it simpler to work with.

Dr Wave’s Intro to Google Wave

Live Collaborative Editing with Google Wave

Upload Photos and Embedding Images in Google Wave

Editing Waves in Google Wave

As always, this ultimate list of Google wave tips and tricks is non-exhaustive. We will keep adding new tips and tricks as and when we come across them. If you want to contribute your tips and tricks to the list, please feel free to leave a comment for us to consider.

Share Folders & Sub-Folders in Google Docs

makes online collaboration and sharing very easy, by allowing you to share documents with several people, and also allowing several people to edit them in real-time. However, what if you want to share a entire project research with your team? Would you send out share invites for each and every document?

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Turns out that you don’t have to do that anymore. Google Docs has started to allow users to share entire folders and sub-folders, in addition to sharing individual documents.

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The share process for folders is similar to sharing individual documents. However, instead of using the dropdown menu to share, you will need to right click the folder and choose the Share option from it.

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If a folder has been shared, you will see a share icon on the folder. Whenever you create a new folder or document in the shared folder, it will be automatically be shared with other collaborators.

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You will need to expand the Folders shared with me section, to view the folders that have been shared with you. You can then edit or view the documents based on the permissions that have been setup for the shared folder.

According to an Google help page, when you share access to an entire folder, all the sub-folders and documents will have the same share permission. So, please take care to ensure that you do not share any unwanted documents by mistake.

Allowing users to Share folders is definitely a good move from Google. Since we often create several documents related to a topic, it’s now much easier to share several documents at once.

Share folders and multiple file upload in Google Docs [Official Google Blog]

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Free Pure CSS Menu Creator/Generator

Have you ever come across websites that have a really nice menu that catches your fancy? Do you want to create a menu for your website, but don’t know how to code using HTML and CSS?

Pure CSS Menu Maker/Creator is a must-have tools for webmasters and designers, which allows users to visually create CSS menus, without having to know any CSS programming.

Also See: Create CSS Dropdown Menus Online

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CSS Menu Maker/Creator allows you to generate both horizontal and vertical menus. Creating a new menu is a piece of cake and takes less than 5 minutes. Using the tool, you can create menus and add sub-menus to it to your heart’s content.

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When you start a new project, some menu items will be pre-defined, you can add and remove items from the existing menu.

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To create sub-menu items, select a menu item and right-click it. From the new menu, select Add  Sub Menu. You can also use the Ctrl + Aor click the sub-menu icon, to add a new sub menu item. You can add as many menu and sub-menu items as you want.

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The middle panel of CSS menu maker is used to customize the menu item text, URL and target frame. You can also control the styles used for each menu element and its text, in addition to changing them for normal and rollover events.

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Once you have finished creating the menu, click the Generate Menu button. It will create the menu as a HTML file in your project directory. You can then copy and paste the code into your website.

Pure CSS Menu Maker is a recommend webmaster and designer tool by Techie Buzz. Having this software on your PC will definitely save you a lot of time.

Download Pure CSS Menu Creator

Best Twitter Plugins for WordPress

Quite recently WordPress.com users got the ability to automatically tweet posts to twitter, but what about other self-hosted users? Well, there are tons of plugins and tools available for WordPress.org users.

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In this post, we will take a look at some of the most useful twitter plugins for WordPress users.

Twitter Tools – Twitter Tools is a plugin that creates a complete integration between your WordPress blog and your Twitter account.

TweetSuite – TweetSuite is a Twitter-WordPress integration plugin that includes retweet buttons, digg like tweet button, automatic tweeting of new posts and more.

Twitter Widget Pro – A widget that properly handles twitter feeds, including @username, #hashtag, and link parsing. It supports displaying profiles images, and even lets you control whether to display the time and date of a tweet.

TweetMeme – The TweetMeme retweet button easily allows your blog to be retweeted. The button also provides a current count of how many times your story has been retweeted throughout twitter.

Tweetbacks – Allows you to pull in comments from twitter and displays it as tweetbacks on your blog (requires manual editing of theme).

BackType Connect – Allows you to pull comments related to your blog from twitter and other websites.

TwitterCounter – Allows you to integrate TwitterCounter.com badges on your site.

Do you know of any other plugins that can make it to this list? Do let us know about them through your comments.

Image Credit: TechCityInc

Download High Quality Halloween Wallpapers For Your Desktop or Mac

Halloween is just around the corner. Here are some high quality desktop wallpapers that will get you into the mood a bit early. If you are looking for more Halloween goodies, don’t forget to check the entire Halloween section.

Click on the images to download the high quality version of the Halloween wallpapers. If you want to use all of these as your wallpapers, don’t forget to check the wallpaper rotator and manager which rotates the wallpapers after certain time intervals.

Happy_Halloween_by_QueenOfDorks Halloween_Kitten_by_vladstudio Halloween_wallpaper_by_Danime_chan

halloween_by_overdeliver I_Luv_Halloween_Wallpaper_by_DarkJak Halloween_Ghosts_by_vladstudio

Guild_Wars_Halloween_part_2_by_zazB Halloween_2005_by_RPGuere Sinister_Visions_Halloween___05_by_SavageSinister

A_Halloween_wallpaper_by_vladstudio Halloween_wp_by_TwistEd_Ky0 Halloween_by_JipJive

The_Gathering_Storm_Halloween_by_vladstudio Think_Halloween_by_Zefhar Halloween_Decorations_by_JenZee

Mushrooms___Halloween_Night_by_vladstudio Creepy_Halloween_by_altergromit Halloween_2005_by_bartholomew

Do you have any Halloween wallpapers to share? Don’t forget to leave links to it in the comments form.

Creating Strong Passwords & Dealing With Hacked Accounts

Do you remember how we had told you about generating strong passwords and using the best tools for generating strong passwords, Those tips would help you to create a strong password that you can remember.

Since several thousand Hotmail passwords were hacked, we thought it best to revisit this area, and come up with some more on generating strong passwords, that you can remember.

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What to Avoid in Passwords?

As far as possible, avoid your birth date, telephone number, spouse name, dad’s name, nickname and whatever else that can be easily guessed or known by several people.

On the other hand, 1234567890 and abcdefgh are not passwords. They are just ways to tell kindergarten kids, Hey, I don’t care about my account. Here, take it and do whatever you want with it.

Oh, and lest we forget here are some of the lousiest passwords used on the Internet.

Ninja Combination Passwords

Before you read ahead, you might want to read my earlier post on substituting characters with random letters or symbols in passwords, once you do that, you will understand the process better.

Find the Best and Worst Combinations

A good way of creating passwords is to combine two drastically different things to form a combination, and then use it to create a password. For example, your favorite actor and your worst apartment, your favorite vacation spot and your most hated boss, your favorite restaurant and the worst pharmacy.

Once you have a combination, write it down on a paper. Now, say my favorite actor is Nicholas Cage and my worst Apartment address was 104 Some Building.

We can take these two words to form a combination, which becomes Nicholas Cage 104 Some Building. A strong password usually consists of 8-10 characters, so we take the first two characters out of each of these words and form a lowercase combination nica10sobu.

Ninja Character and Numbers Replacement

Since you have your strong password right, lets complicate it a bit further. Lets come up with a chart to replace alphabets with numbers and symbols, here is the updated password n1c4!)s0bu.

What I did here was replace letters with similar numbers, ilooks like 1, alooks like 4, olooks like 0 and so on. In addition to that, I replaced numbers with corresponding symbols on the keyboard, which I typed by holding the shift key. So 1becomes ! and 0becomes ).

Note: Follow your own Ninja conversion chart for replacing characters and numbers with something that you are comfortable with.

Final Touches to Your Strong Password

The password above is really strong, but lets add some finishing touches to make it really deadly. Considering the length of the password, come up with two numbers in between them, that you like and capitalize them. You won’t be able to capitalize numbers and symbols, so choose 2 which have characters in them.  Let’s say I like 3 and 7, so my final password becomes n1C4!)S0bu.

Voila, you have a strong password that 99.99% dictionary attacks can’t guess, but what about you? You should remember it too right? That’s easy, just write this phrase somewhere. The best actor and the worst apartment. My favorite numbers are 3 and 7.

Using a simple trick, we came up with a pretty complicated password, that is very easy to remember.

Changing Passwords Frequently

Creating strong passwords will keep you ahead of hackers, and other people trying to pry information from you. However, you have to keep a notch ahead of them too.

Keep changing your passwords every three months or so, you can decide your own schedule. Considering how easy it is to create strong passwords from things you will remember, this shouldn’t be a hard task, should it?

Different Ninja Everywhere

Well, if a Ninja went to several places, there is a chance that he might be spotted and recognized, by chance or otherwise. Similarly using the same password for several services would put you in a vulnerable position. As far as possible, use different passwords for banking and email.

Setting up Password Recovery Options

Many email providers give you the ability to set up password recovery options, such as adding  a secret question and providing temporary emails. Some including also allow you to setup SMS password recovery.

Make sure to fill out this information accurately, as in case of your account being hacked, or if you forget your password, you will need to provide this information in order to recover your account.

Another important thing, is to use a proper alternative email address, this is very important since many email providers deactivate email accounts after a certain period. Someone else could easily claim that email account and compromise both your accounts.

In addition, don’t ever try and use the “remember passwords” when logging into a web service  in public. If you do that, take a moment to read, when you should remember your passwords in public places.

Don’t forget to share your tips with us on creating strong passwords. We would love to try those out.

Microsoft Unveils Office 2010 & Public Beta Details [Including Adware Starter Edition]

Microsoft will be released to general public and retail markets shortly. If you are gearing up to buy Office 2010, a recent post on TechNet has details of things you should know about Office 2010.

Here are some highlights on how Office 2010 will be sold through OEMs and direct sales along with information about their Office 2010 adware versionand the public beta for trying out Office 2010.

Office 2010 Product Key Card

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Many OEM PCs and laptops usually preload a home edition of Office software. You can try out and use Microsoft office for a period of 60 days, after which it will work with reduced functionality and disable editing features. If you are satisfied with the performance, you can go ahead and buy a retail copy of the software.

However, starting with Office 2010, Microsoft is introducing a new way of selling Office software in the form of Product Key cards. The Product Key Card is a single license card that can be used to unlock pre-loaded Office 2010 versions.

The Office 2010 Product key card can be used to unlock, Microsoft Office Office Home & Student 2010, Office Home & Business 2010, or Office Professional 2010.

Ad-Supported Office Starter 2010 Edition

Microsoft is completely doing away with Microsoft Works, which usually gets preloaded on new laptops and PCs. Microsoft Works allowed users to view and open Office documents on their PC.

However, once Office 2010 is launched, all new laptops and PCs will be preloaded with Microsoft Office Starter 2010 Edition. However, this edition will be act like a adware software. Along with reduced functionality, you will also see advertisements popping up every now and then.

Office Starter 2010 will include Office Word Starter 2010 and Office Excel Starter 2010, with the basic functionality for creating, viewing and editing documents.

Click-To-Run Downloads and Upgrades

Microsoft is doing away with the usual process of downloading and installing Office software and updates, with the introduction of a new feature called Click-To-Run.

Click-to-Run makes it easier than ever for customers to try or buy Office digitally by significantly reducing the time and effort required to download Office 2010 over the Internet. Click-to-Run automatically downloads and installs any software patches when connected to the Internet, helping people maintain and keep their Office software up-to-date. Click-to-Run uses virtualization technology so it allows customers to maintain multiple versions of Office. This enables them to try Office 2010 side-by-side with the existing version of Office.

Click-To-Run basically allows users to digitally try out Office 2010 on existing PC by automatically downloading and installing software patches. In addition to that, it also allows users to run multiple versions of Office on the same PC.

Previously, when you wanted to try out a new version of Office, your old version had to be removed prior to installation.

Office 2010 Versions

Office 2010 will available in only three versions:

  1. Office Home and Student 2010
  2. Office Home and Business 2010
  3. Office Professional 2010

Office 2010 Public Beta

Microsoft Office 2010 will be available as a public beta later this year. During the beta period, Microsoft will invite users to try out and experience Office 2010.

We will keep you updated whenever they announce the beta, so that you can try Office 2010 yourself.

Have you used the technical preview of Office 2010? Did you like it? Do let us know about your thoughts on Office 2010.