Tag Archives: Useful Utilities

RunPee Helps You Plan Your Bathroom Break during Movies

Intermissions were necessary in the olden days because as they enabled the operators to change reels. However, as technology improved, intermissions became unnecessary, and were phased out in most parts of the world to save time and squeeze in more shows. India remains an exception, where for both Bollywood and Hollywood movies, theatres have an intermission, which gives the audience a chance grab more popcorn.

RunPee-Bathrrom-Break-Movies
RunPee – Plan your Bathroom Break During Movies

The unfortunate downside to phasing out intermissions is that, in case you need to take a leak, you are forced to miss out on parts of the movie. RunPee is a mobile app that’s designed to help you with planning your bathroom break during a movie. Theaters don’t have pause buttons, but with RunPee you can at least ensure that you don’t miss out on the best parts of the movie. RunPee’s database is updated the day a movie comes out with the best moments to run to the bathroom. These scenes are normally three to five minute intervals in the movie where not a lot happens. RunPee tells you the exact time that the scene will start at as well as a dialogue by which you can identify the scene.

RunPee-Peetimes
RunPee – List of Best Peetimes during a Movie

For an app with just one purpose, RunPee is rather feature packed. You can either select a movie, and chose to identify the scene manually. Or you can start a timer as soon as the movie starts, and RunPee will vibrate your phone, when a ‘peetime’ comes along. It also provides a quick summary of what happens during the scene.

RunPee-Bathroom-Break-Timer
RunPee- Countdown Timer to the Best Bathroom Breaks during Movies

There are also a couple of bonus features. If you’re running late, you can read a summary of what happens during the first three minutes of the movie on RunPee. Additionally, it also informs you if there are any extra scenes during or after the end credits.

RunPee-End-Credits-Bonus-Feature
RunPee – Bonus Features

RunPee is a free download on iOS and Android, while the Windows Phone version costs $0.99. I reviewed the Android version, and found it to work rather well. The user interface doesn’t strictly adhere to the Android design guidelines and is a mishmash of Android and iOS UI elements. RunPee won’t blow you away with its design, but the apps is undoubtedly handy, and serves its purpose brilliantly.

[ Download RunPee ]

Save Ink, Paper, and Money by Cleaning-Up What You Print

Taking printouts of webpages can be an insanely wasteful exercise. Even though you might be only interested in a snippet of text, you can end up being forced to print everything including pictures and advertisements. Thankfully, there are a few nifty tools which can clean-up the content before you send it to the printer. By using these tools not only will you be able to cut down your printing costs, but you’ll also be responsible for fewer dead trees.

PrintWhatYouLike

This is my favourite tool since it allows me to manually select and retain the sections of the web page that I’m interested in. I can scroll through a page, delete elements I don’t want, and even tweak the appearance by changing color, width, and fonts. There’s also an AutoFormat option, but that can produce unexpected results. Thankfully, there’s also an Undo button to quickly revert any unwanted changes. Another handy option is the “Next Page” button, which leverages the PageZipper tool.

PrintWhatYouLike

[ Install PrintWhatYouLike ]

PrintFriendly and CleanPrint

If you prefer something more automated, you can use either PrintFriendly or CleanPrint. I prefer PrintWhatYouLike because automated tools can often go wrong. However, for most web pages, these tools will work well enough. CleanPrint is available as a browser extension for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome. PrintFriendly is available as a web service, as a bookmarklet, and as Chrome and Firefox extensions.

PrintFriendly

CleanPrint


[ Download PrintFriendly and CleanPrint ]

priPrinter

This tool is likely to be an overkill for most people; however, if printing websites and documents is something that you do on a daily basis, then priPrinter might be worth exploring. This utility installs itself as a Printer driver, and allows you to preview and edit absolutely anything you print on your system. priPrinter has a strikingly feature packed document editor that allows you to reformat your data and remove unnecessary elements. It also comes with an ink saving mode, and can further save costs by printing multiple pages on a single sheet of paper. And if you are still not satisfied, this tool has its own scripting language, with which you can create buttons with custom actions, automate repetitive tasks, make custom layout or even automatically change pages before print preview.

priPrinter

[ Download priPrinter ]

3 Free Windows Utilities to Reclaim Disk Space and Boost System Performance

Hard disk prices have plummeted over the years, and within a remarkably short span of time we’ve progressed from talking about storage space in gigabytes to terabytes. Recovering every little megabyte of disk space from the operating system is no longer as crucial as it might have been a few years back. Nevertheless, it still makes sense from a performance point of view to give your system a little spring cleaning. Of course, if you have shelled out the big bucks to get a Solid State Disk, disk space might still be a scarce resource for you. SSDs are now more affordable than ever before, but still expensive enough for storage space to be a constraint. Here are three free utilities to help you remove junk from your system.

CCleaner

There are plenty of junk cleaners, but CCleaner is probably the most popular and trusted one. I’m not going to dwell a lot on this tool, because chances are that you already know about it. Piriform CCleaner cleans up temp files, junk files, log files, memory dumps, and other unnecessary system files as well as temporary files left behind by third party apps. It supports over a dozen third party applications including Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, Nero, Microsoft Office, and all popular browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Flock, Rockmelt, Maxthon, Avant, and more).

CCleaner-Windows

[ Download CCleaner ]

DiskMax

DiskMax is another disk clean-up tool. I reserve this for the times when I’m really short on space. It cleans up stuff that CCleaner leaves behind. They say that with more power comes responsibility, and that’s definitely applicable for DiskMax. The Detailed Scan deletes unused hibernation and page files, Microsoft Office installer cache, logs, .sav files, memory dumps, windows update backups, and more. If you want to reclaim even more space, it even offers a Deep Scan mode which cleans up files based on extension from all folders. However, I would advise against employing Deep Scan unless absolutely necessary. Even without Deep Scan I often end up reclaiming several gigabytes of storage space with DiskMax. You can find an earlier review here.

DiskMax

[ Download DiskMax]

Should I Remove It

If the sheer number of installed apps overwhelm you, then this tool is for you. It identifies and highlights apps that you can and should remove from your system. It lists all installed apps along with an average user rating and the percent of users that have decided to remove it. This can be really handy in identifying crapware, malware, and even apps that are just not very good or necessary. There’s also a “What is it?” button which opens up a webpage with more detailed information about a program, including the features offered by it and the risks presented. Here’s a sample information page. ‘Should I Remove It’ also supports real time monitoring. Once enabled, it will quietly run in the background, and alert you as soon as you try to install an app with a low rating.

Should-I-Remove-It

[ Download Should I Remove It]

FLUX: Adjust Screen Color Temperature According To Room Lighting

Flux LogoComputers screens are designed to glow as brilliant as possible. A glowing display looks great with the daylight beaming  into your room you are working. While it is quite painful for eyes when you are working at night with the fluorescent lamp on. It is because our eyes adjust according to the room lighting.

It is really frustrating to adjust the screen color temperature every hour of the day just to keep your eyes healthy. Flux is a freeware that is meant to do this for you. All you need to do is download, install the tool and configure the tool settings once. Everything is automatically taken care of afterwards.

Flux Main Window

The tool detects the co-ordinates of your location automatically. In case it is not correct, you can change it by going to the Settings and then set your location. Press the Locate button and you will be taken to a page where you can search for your location and copy the co-ordinates for the same. Paste the copied location in the location window. Press OK.

Set Location for Flux

In the Settings window, you can adjust the day and night lighting settings by using the sliders.

Set Screen Color

Techie Buzz Verdict:

The tool definitely creates a soothing environment for your eyes. However, the app adjusts the screen  temperature  based on the co-ordinates of the location and your choice. This means if you are having a cloudy day, the app will still set the screen for a sunny day. It would have been great if it had an option to judge the room light based on web cam; that would have provided a more realistic solution. All said, I recommend users who work long time on computers to use Flux.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3.5/5 (Very Good)

[Download Flux]

Recover Gigabytes of Lost Space With DiskMax

There are plenty of disk cleanup tools in the market; in fact, almost every system maintenance suite includes one. Yet, believe me when I say, very few can claim to be as comprehensive as DiskMax.

DiskMax-Scan-Profile

I first used DiskMax more than a year back and was wowed by it instantly. DiskMax had managed to effortlessly reclaim fifteen gigabytes of precious space. Since, then it has only improved by leaps and bounds.

DiskMax-Scan-Prompts

DiskMax’s interface is unique because rather than asking you to select the items you want to scan beforehand, it keeps prompting as it progresses. It supports four scan profiles, which offer varying degrees of optimization. As I mentioned earlier, what sets DiskMax apart from the crowd is its thoroughness. Among other things, it cleans Microsoft Office Installer Cache, performance logs, unused hibernation and page files, icon cache, user registry entries, Windows memory dumps, Windows logs, Windows Update backups, Windows event logs and browser data (Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Internet Explorer).

DiskMax-Scan-Progress

Techie Buzz Verdict

DiskMax-Highly-ReccomendedI have been using DiskMax for more than year and have never encountered any problems. In the past year, I have used it on numerous occasions, on various systems, and the results were always astounding. However, once should be careful while using the Deep Scan option. In fact, I would recommend not using it, if you do not know what you are doing. Nevertheless, even without Deep Scan, it managed to delete more than ten-gigabyte of junk on my cousin’s computer.

DiskMax is a fabulous utility, which works marvelously. The unique interface actually works rather well and allows you to customize the scan profiles according to your needs. The only annoyance is that it insists on forcing users to check for updates. The installer is also rather rude, and doesn’t support any interaction with the user. However, do not let these niggles stop you from using an excellent utility.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

[ Download DiskMax ]

Display Multiple Time Zones in the XP System Tray

microsoft-time-zone-icon I was very happy when I found a feature in Windows 7 that allowed me to see the current time in cities across the world by hovering the mouse over the system tray clock.

win7-clocks-time-date

As you can see in the image, you can display up to three time zones, including the one you are using. If you didn’t know how to set that up in Vista or Win7, you can use these instructions at Microsoft.

I have several PCs at home and at work that are running Windows XP, so I decided to find out if there was a way to add a similar feature.

I found several applications that give you fairly quick access to views of multiple time zones, but I wanted one that resided in the system tray. Finally, I found my answer: Microsoft Time Zone.

Normally the time is displayed in the system tray in XP, showing only the time itself. Hovering your mouse over it displays the day and date as shown here.

system-tray-show-date-time

Microsoft Time Zone allows you to see up to 5 different times zones. However, it requires a left click on the system tray icon to display them.

system-tray-show-multiple-time-zones

Right clicking on it gives you access to the settings and options. It also allows you to find the current times of anyplace else in the world.

ms-time-zone-right-click

I found out that installing Microsoft Time Zone wasn’t exactly trouble-free. This little program requires .NET Framework 1.1 to be installed. Even if you have later versions of .NET installed, Time Zone won’t let you install until you add .NET 1.1. This has always been the main reason I don’t like .NET Framework.

Download Microsoft Time Zone

Download Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1

Be sure to take a look at some of the other articles we’ve written about Time Zones and other system tray utilities.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I really enjoy having Microsoft Time Zone in Windows XP. Since many of the people I chat with online are in other time zones, it’s a big help to know what time it is where they live. As I mentioned above, the major drawback to this application is it’s reliance on .NET Framework.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5

Free GPS on Your Laptop – Geosense for Windows

I have a GPS unit to keep me from getting lost while I’m driving, but it doesn’t hook up to my computer. If I wanted to use geolocation applications to show online friends where I was at the moment, I couldn’t do it.   Until now ….

Sathya Bhat sent me an email yesterday telling me about a new geo-location solution. Two crazy programmers named Long Zeng and Rafael Rivera have created a program that identifies where you are by using either your IP address, or Wifi triangulation. The application is called Geosense for Windows, but, it only works in Windows 7. Apparently Windows 7 has a built in location sensing API that nobody else is taking advantage of yet.

Here’s how to set it up:

First, go to the home page and download Geosense and install it.

To enable Geosense, go to your Start Menu and type location(without quotes) into the search box. Then click on Enable location and other sensors.

control-panel-location-search

Next place a check-mark in the check-box to enable Geosense.

control-panel-enable-location-sensor

Once you’ve clicked Apply, you won’t notice anything new. However, you’ll find that any location aware application you run, will now automatically know where you are.

The Geosense website offers a nice Google Maps test application to try out. You can also run the Windows Weather Gadget to find your local weather. Here you can see both of these running on my laptop.

google-maps-applet

They also mention that there’s a Twitter application called MahTweets which can grab the location and put it into your tweets.

Here’s the Geosense homepage: Check it out.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

Geosense is not going to be able to replace my car’s GPS unit, but if I’m on the road, at least I’ll know about where I am, even when I’m away from the car. I did notice that it was only able to give an approximate location, within half a kilometer, so it’s not perfect. It’s a free app that makes excellent use of a previously hidden feature in Windows 7. I love it.

techie-buzz-recommended-software

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Backup Your Device Drivers with Double Driver

IN A WINDOWS PC, the drivers are some of the most important files you need to keep everything working as it should. The drivers control all of the hardware devices in your PC. So when they don’t work, your display, or sound, or CD/DVD drives, or networking cards may not be working.

Usually, this happens when you are setting up a new PC that you don’t have the original install disks for. I’ve had it happen many times and the only solution is to search the internet for the correct drivers, then install them.

If you have all of your required drivers, re-installing Windows will most likely be a trouble free experience. The best place to get the drivers is off of the PC that’s going to need them. Over the years, I’ve gotten a little smarter. After a successful install of Windows, one of the first things I do is back up all of the system drivers someplace safe. I’ve found one of the best ways to do this is to use a driver backup utility.

double-driver-icon Double Driver is a good freeware driver backup solution. It’s not a large download and it’s also a portable application, meaning, you can take the program with you on a flash card or USB drive. There’s no need to install it since it will run right from the portable drive.

double-driver-files

Installation is easy. Download the zip file, extract it to a folder, then double click the dd.exe file to start Double Driver.

Once it’s running, click the Scan button to make Double Driver scan your PC for all of the driver files.

By default, the drivers you need to back up will already be selected. However, it never hurts to back them all up. You can select all of the drivers from the Select menu.

double-driver-scanned

Once you’ve selected all the drivers you wish to back up, then you only need to hit the Backup button to start the process. You’ll have an option to change the backup settings at this point.

double-driver-backup

The default options are fine unless you need to compress the files because of limited space in your backup location. The default option to Include Double Driveris a bonus that’s worthy of praise. After all, it’s likely you’ll only need to restore the drivers to a system which doesn’t already have Double Driver on it.

Restoring the drivers on a PC is also very easy. Navigate to the folder where you have the backup drivers stored, then double click the dd.exe file.

double-driver-restore

Once Double Driver is running, hit the Restore button and you’ll see your drivers listed, selected, and ready for you to hit the Restore button once again.

Download Double Driver

Techie Buzz Verdict:

Double Driver meets almost every good point that I use to judge software. It’s freeware, portable, useful, easy to use, bug free and runs on most versions of Windows. I have no problem recommending it as a must have.

techie-buzz-recommended-software

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

How to Speed Up Windows Disk Cleanup

disk-cleanup-icon Cleaning out the junk files on your PC is something you should do on a regular basis. Microsoft has included a file cleaning utility in Windows, and it’s called Disk Cleanup. Running Disk Cleanup will often make your system a little snappier and you can also free up a large amount of used disk space.

You can find the Disk Cleanup utility in the following locations:

WinXP: Start > Program Files > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup

Vista/Win7: Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup

disk-cleanup

If you occasionally clean out your unwanted system files using Windows “Disk Cleanup”, you may have seen that the Disk Cleanup utility takes a long time scanning for “Compressed Folders”. I have seen this many times and it makes me impatient every time.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine at work (Bill M), told me that there’s a registry hack to make Cleanup skip the long wait. He was right, I found it using a simple Google search.

Here’s the registry hack (works in XP, so far – have not seen this work in Vista and Win7):

WinXP: Open up the registry editor by clicking the Start Button, then choose Run, type in “regedit” and press the OK button.

Vista/Win7: Hit the Start button and type regeditin the quick search.

Once you have regedit running, find the following location:
“HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows
\CurrentVersion\Explorer
\VolumeCaches\System error memory dump files”

The “Flags” value must be set to “0”.

For 64-bit Windows only:

“HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows
\CurrentVersion\Explorer
\VolumeCaches\System error memory dump files”

The “Flags” value must be set to “0”.

You may not   notice any difference until you reboot, but the next time you use Disk Cleanup, you should notice a substantial decrease in the amount of time it takes.

Optimize Windows 7 Services with SMART

Windows Operating System has been designed to be suitable for almost anyone and everyone. However, there are always disadvantages associated with the one-size fits all approach. Windows ships with dozens services – many of which common users do not require. Disabling these unnecessary services helps in reducing boot time and increases general system performance.

Over the years, BlackViper has earned a reputation for providing in-depth and accurate advisory on tweaking Windows System services. You can find his excellent guide on optimizing Windows 7 services over here. However, manually tweaking your system can be time consuming. In order to speed up this process TheWindowsClub has released SMART (Service Management And RealEasy Tweaking).

SMART-Tweak-Windows-7-Services-Configuration

SMART automatically optimizes your services configuration in accordance to BlackViper’s guide. You are provided three presets – Safe, Tweaked and Advanced. As the name suggests, ‘Safe’ is intended to work on most PCs and disables only the absolutely useless services. The ‘Tweaked’ configuration takes things to the next level and changes a total of 57 service settings (compared to 19 in ‘Safe’). ‘Advanced’ mode is designed for gamers who seek extreme performance, even at the expense of functionality. This configuration is not recommended unless you know what you are doing. Several features including Wireless Networking, Windows Defender and Windows Update are disabled in this mode.

Techie Buzz Verdict

SMART doesn’t do anything you can’t do manually, but it helps you in getting things done faster. The main reason why you might want to use SMART is that in case things go wrong, you can get back your default configuration with the click of a button. It is also a handy utility to carry while you visit your friends and family during the holidays.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

[ Download SMART for Windows 7 ]