Tag Archives: Utilities

Create a Hyperlinked Notes Database with Tomboy

tomboy-icon I’ve been playing with Linux for a couple of years now. One of the applications on Linux that I’ve grown to use often, is Tomboy. Since I spend most of the day in Windows, I was pleased to find out that the developers of Tomboy have ported it over to Windows (and Mac). I’ll tell you a bit about this app and how to install it on your Windows PC.

What is Tomboy?

It’s a note taking application. However, it blends normal text with links and hyperlinks, such as you see while using a web browser. A link in Tomboy usually opens another Tomboy page. This feature allows you to quickly build a personal knowledge database that’s easy to navigate, organize and manage. Tomboy also allows you to use web links and email links.

Here’s what a Tomboy note looks like:

tomboy-start-here-page

When you need to create a new page in Tomboy, you can either use the “new page” button, or you can create a link using a word or several words in a page. Once you’ve created a link such as “My Personal Info”, every time you type those words into Tomboy, the text automatically turns into a link to the “My Personal Info” page.

Here are some other features of Tomboy:

  • Text Highlights
  • web links & email address links
  • Undo/redo
  • Font styling & sizing
  • Bulleted lists

When you highlight text in Tomboy, a single click can turn it into a link, or you can format the text by using the “Text” menu.

tomboy-text-format

When it’s not in use, Tomboy normally resides as an icon in the system tray. Right clicking on the system tray icon will bring up the main menu. However,   I’ve noticed that sometimes the icon disappears in Windows. Tomboy can still be accessed by using the ALT + F12 hotkey combination to pop up the Tomboy menus.

tomboy-main-menu

Take a look at the following video to get a better idea of how Tomboy works.

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Installing Tomboy in Windows?

Tomboy requires .NET 3.5 (from Microsoft) and GTK# (from Novel) in order to run. If you are running Windows 7, you already have .NET, but XP users may need to install or update their current .NET.

Dowload GTK# for Windows and install it.

Once you have .NET and GTK# installed, you can download the Tomboy Installer and run it.

Final Note: Tomboy also has the ability to synchronize notes between operating systems and between different computers. I plan on showing you how to do this in a later article.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I usually don’t care much for applications that have strict requirements such as .NET. In the case of Tomboy Notes, I’m willing to overlook this failing. The ability to work with the same notes when I’m using Windows, Linux or Mac is pretty valuable to me. Many would argue that several online services already allow you to do this from a web browser. Just as many people still like to have a local application to keep their private notes more secure and easier to access. If you need to keep your notes on a local drive, Tomboy can be a flexible choice for you.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Tweak XP Security Settings with XP-Antispy

A few hours ago, Pallab told us how to Optimize Windows 7 Services with SMART. That made me wonder if there was a similar utility for XP. However, I found out that the SMART utility mentioned in Pallab’s article now supports Vista and XP. After a bit more research, I found a utility I’ve heard about for a long time and hadn’t tried until now.

XP-Antispy is a small application that lets you control some of the XP system services and registry settings. Disabling these services and settings can make your PC safer from outside threats and also keep it from contacting Microsoft when it doesn’t need to. These settings could be changed manually by a Windows user, however, tracking all of them down and changing them could take hours and hours of hard work. XP-Antispy makes it simple.

Here’s what XP-Antispy looks like:

xp-antispy-interface

As you can see, the interface is simple enough, and the operation is as simple as adding check-marks or removing them. Each setting is briefly explained so that you have an idea what each does. Antispy also allows you to keep a copy of your old settings so that you can always return to them if you need to.

There is a built in help file that is fairly detailed if you need it. I was also pleased to find that a portable version (in a zip file) is available for download as well as the typical installer based version.

Important Note: This program is not recommended for a new or casual Windows user. Many of these settings should only be changed by experienced users. As an additional precaution, you could also make a full back up the XP registry with ERUNT before making changes with this tool.

Home Page of XP-Antispy

http://www.xp-antispy.org/index.php/en/ueber

Alternate download at Download.com

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I like XP-Antispy’s simplicity and the help file that is provided. I’m also happy that the author updates this program quite often to keep it current with today’s changing security needs. However, I wish that there was more explanation for each setting. I was also disappointed by a re-directed to eBay on my first attempt to download the zip file. That’s why I included the alternate download location above.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Create Screensavers With Flash Files Using InstantStorm

InstantStorm is a tool that helps you to convert your flash (.swf) files into screensavers (.scr).

You can create screensavers using this tool, either by following the wizard it provides or manually. An interesting feature in this tool is that you can even create your own “Screensaver Settings” and “Installation”. In short, this is a complete kit to create a screensaver. In this post, I am going to list some good features of this tool.

Features:

Settings and Installation Dialog Designer:

You can create your own dialogs for installation and settings. Creating these dialog boxes is very easy. You just need to edit whatever you want to, in the dialog box and then save it. That’s all! Check the picture below.

instant_storm_design

Additional File Support:

Many screensaver creators don’t support other files associated with a screensaver. So, you can’t add audio and other files to your screensaver. But, InstantStorm even helps you to add other files. You can even add audio files to your screensaver.

instant_storm_additonal_files

Techie-Buzz Verdict

InstantStorm is a really good tool. It has many useful features as I have metioned above. It is more than a typical screensaver creator. If you want to create a complete screensaver, this is one of the best tools you can use.

Techie-Buzz Rating: 3.5/5

Immunet Protect Offers Side by Side Compatibility with Your Current AntiVirus

When Immunet Protect came out some time last summer, I did a little research on it and then tried it. Immunet is a Cloudbased antivirus program, much like Panda Cloud Antivirus. Here’s how Immunet works, according to the home site:

Imagine for a moment that you could leverage the computers of your friends, family and a worldwide global community to harness their collective security. Every time someone in this collective community encounters a threat everyone else in the community gains protection from that same threat in real time.

I was pleased with the way that it worked and I kept it on my system for several weeks. I soon moved on to try Microsoft’s antivirus. Currently, I am running Antivir, after reading a Techie Buzz article which was titled, Avira Antivirus Is the Lightest Antivirus Software.

Recently, I received notice from TechTracker, that there’s a new version of Immunet available. Here’s the news that made me look at Immunet again.

Version 1.0.25 supports ‘side by side’ installs with over 20 new Anti-Virus products including current versions of AVG, Avira, Mcafee, Kaspersky, Avast and Trend products. It also now supports Windows 7, XP and Vista 32/64-bit installs.

Immunet has been friendly with other antivirus apps from the day it was born. The newest version simply adds more friendsto it’s list. What does this mean for the average user? It means that you can run Immunet all by itself, or you can have additional AV protection if you need it. In my case, I have installed Immunet Protect side by side with my current Avira Antivir.

So far, Immunet and Avira are acting like old buddies, but I’ll keep an eye on them. The extra load on my system seems to be about 24mb of memory and I can handle that. I’m seriously tempted to keep Immunet and dump Avira after reading that Immunet recently ranked higher than Microsoft Security Essentials And Avira In MRG Rogue AV Test.

Since we didn’t show you Immunet in our last article about it, I’ll give you a few screen shots and some more details.

Global Hotkeys for Windows Media Player

I usually listen to my MP3 collection using SysTrayPlay (STP) music player. I like the fact that it stays out of the way in my system tray and lets me control most operations by global hotkeys. If I need to pause the music, I just hit CTRL-0 or any other combination I’ve chosen.

windows media player iconOccasionally, I like to listen to music using Windows Media Player (WMP). It’s not the greatest player, but it’s already installed and I like the SRS bass boost. The only problem is that it doesn’t have global hotkeys. When WMP is minimized, there’s no way to pause, control volume, skip songs or any other function.

I got tired of this and I went out for a google search. After a few false leads, I finally found what I was looking for. There’s a great solution at SourceForge.net named WMP Keys‘.

WMP Keys is a plugin for Windows Media Player that gives you global hotkeys for the following:

• Play/Pause         Ctrl+Alt+Home
• Next                     Ctrl+Alt+Right
• Previous             Ctrl+Alt+Left
• Volume Up           Ctrl+Alt+Up
• Volume Down       Ctrl+Alt+Down
• Fast Forward     Ctrl+Alt+F
• Fast Backward   Ctrl+Alt+B
• Rate [1-5]         Ctrl+Alt+[1-5]

WMP Keys is easy to use and manage. Download and install it. The next time you open up Windows Media Player, open up the Tools menu, choose Options and the Plugins tab. Find the Backgrounds category and enable the Wmpkeys plugin with a check in it’s check-box.

At this point, you can choose the Properties button to change any of the hotkeys that are assigned to the Media Player functions.

wmp-keys-settings

These hotkeys work. It’s that simple.

Download WMP Keys

via [ghacks]

Would you like to see some of the other cool things you can do with Windows Media Player? Check out these links.

• How to Uninstall Windows Media Player 11

• Play Real Media Files in Windows Media Player

• Play FLV Files In Windows Media Player

• How To Play QuickTime Files In Windows Media Player?

• How To Play Any Video File In Windows Media Player?

Techie Buzz Verdict:

WMP Keys is small, free and open source. It solves what I considered to be a big problem. I’d like to see the plugin expanded to include more functions, but it’s fine the way it is now. I can recommend it to anyone who still loves to play their music in Windows Media Player.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

Back Up Your Registry in Case of Disaster – ERUNT

registry icon Most of you already know what the Windows registry is and what it does. I’ll tell you about it anyway, just in case you’ve forgotten. The Windows registry is the keeper of all the settings in Windows and many of the programs you install. If something goes wrong in the registry, you can end up with a PC that won’t even boot properly.

In some of the older Windows operating systems, such as Win95, 98 and ME, your PC used to back up the registry every time you rebooted. If you are using Windows 2000, XP, Vista or Win7, this isn’t true. In those older systems, you could restore an older copy of the registry while you were booting up. In the newer systems, you can’t do that.

Many years ago, I ran into a program called ERUNT that solves this problem to some extent. The name stands for Emergency Recovery Utility NT. ERUNT allows you to back up the registry completely and restore older copies of the registry if you run into any problems. It has saved me plenty of headaches over the years.

The ERUNT program is fairly small. The installer is about 772kb when you download it. The installation is fairly standard up to the final option. You will be asked if you want ERUNT to run every time Windows starts. I always tell it No’, but it’s a great safety option.

erunt-autostart-setup

Once installed, you can launch ERUNT from your Start menu, or a shortcut. You’ll see a screen like this.

erunt-in-backup-mode

As you can see, the default location of the backup files is a folder called ERDNT inside the Windows folder. Once you click the OK button to start the backup operation, it actually does it’s job fairly quick.

erunt

Now that you have a backup, what good is it? Let’s use me as an example. I had recently tried out a new image viewer and I didn’t like it after trying it. I tried to uninstall it, and I found out that the uninstall wouldn’t work. The image viewer had changed all of my image file type settings and now there was no way to return them to the original settings.

If I had used ERUNT before installing the image viewer, I’d be able to restore the registry to make all of those changes vanish. Unfortunately, I hadn’t made any backups, and I ended up with far more trouble. Hopefully, I won’t do that again.

To recover the registry from an earlier backup, you need to go to the C:\Windows\ERDNT folder, then into one of the dated backup folders. Once inside one of the date folders, you’ll see the ERDNT.exe file.

erdnt-file

Double click the ERDNT file to launch the restore operation. Once it’s finished, you will be prompted to reboot the PC. During the reboot, Windows will load the backup copy of the registry.

Here’s what I recommend for the use of ERUNT.

• Back up the registry just before installing new programs.
• Back up the registry just before you start a Windows update.
• Back up the registry on a regular basis (like once a week).

ERUNT works in Windows NT, 2000, XP, and I’ve read it also works with Windows 7 and Vista.

When you install ERUNT, it also provides you with a utility called NTREGOPT. This is a registry optimizing tool and supposedly compacts the registry to remove wasted space in it. I don’t use it often, but you may find it useful.

Download ERUNT
http://www.larshederer.homepage.t-online.de/erunt/

Techie Buzz Verdict:

If you want to prepare for disaster, you should always keep full backups of your Windows hard drives. For smaller and quicker backups, you can use ERUNT to back up the Windows registry. It could save you hours of trouble, and I could almost say it’s a must have‘ utility.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Locking Programs and Files with a Password – SaveIt

I saw a review for a program called Empathy at Download Squad. It allows you to lock files with a password. They mentioned that this was a free version with the password feature disabled partially. You could only use a one letter password. What are they thinking?

I try out lots of free apps and I do occasionally recommend CrippleWare if it’s still useful. If there are any good alternatives I’ll mention those in the same article.

There are many free apps to let you lock down your PC and it’s applications. Below are a couple I’ve run into in the past and one I can recommend.

WindowsXpSecurityConsole – Super but mainly locks Windows resources

WinGuard Pro 2008 – NOT RECOMMENDED too many disabled features in the free edition

SaveIt! is the one I recommend if you need to lock program files.

saveit

SaveIt uses a fairly standard installer. When you launch it, you’ll be able to choose the executable file that you want to password protect. It will step you through two additional screens to get more settings from you. If you get confused about what to do at the end of each step, look in the right side panel for the link labeled Nextto advance to the next step.

When you are done, you should see the icon for your executable change to the SaveIt icon which shows a red circle with a cross-bar through it. Anyone trying to open your protected executables will have to know the password to use it.

If you decide to remove the protection on a file later, you can get to this screen (below) by launching the file and supplying the password.

saveit-options

Download location:

http://www.neroes.de/downloads/

Techie Buzz Verdict:

SaveIt is a simple and effective way to control who can access programs on your PC. It’s small. easy to use, and it’s free. I can recommend it without any reservations.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

How To Repair Your Default Image FileTypes

I can’t explain how disappointed I was. I was angry too. I had just tried out a new freebie image viewer and decided I didn’t like it. Most good applications will remove their custom settings when you uninstall them. This time I was foiled because the uninstaller decided that it couldn’t read the install.log file it had created.

broken-image-icon What could I do now? I had let the new application take over all of the image filetypes. I could manually delete the program, but that wouldn’t change all the system registry entries it would leave behind. The Windows registry is what controls the filetype settings and I wasn’t looking forward to making all of those changes manually.

After I mentally kicked myself for not using an installation monitor like Z-Soft, I manually deleted the program from my Program Files folder. Then I opened regedit and used global searches to remove all entries containing the name or the former path of the now dead image viewer. It took me awhile to do this and I was still kicking myself for not being more careful. Warning: Editing the Windows registry to remove entries is risky and can leave your PC in worse shape than it started out.

Naturally after I’d removed all of the registry entries, none of my images were opening up like they used to. I decided to do a Google search for restore default image typesand sure enough, someone had solved this problem. I found the answer I was looking for at a trustworthy site. The site is owned by Ramesh Srinivasan, an old acquaintance of mine, an all around nice guy and a Microsoft MVP. About 5 years ago, I’d written about one of his websites and he was kind enough to link back to me after we exchanged a few emails.

So, what did I find there? I found a tiny little application called imageditor.exe. The app’s name doesn’t really give you a clue about what it does. Take a look at the interface and you’ll get a good idea how to use it.

Note: This utility is intended for Windows XP systems only. Ramesh said that he is working on similar fixes for Vista, which may also work in Windows 7. (Update: Here are default file type fixes for Win7 and Vista)

imageditor-exe-screenshot

Okay, it isn’t super simple to figure out by just looking at it. I’ll explain it to you now.

The top pull-down menu allows you to choose individual image filetypes such as – BMP, DIB, EMF, GIF, JFIF, JPG, JPE, JPEG, PNG, TIF, TIFF and WMF. It lets you restore each filetype individually, as needed, when you click the button beside it.

You may not like the image viewer that Windows assigns by default. The center text field let’s you force Windows to use the viewer you want. Just choose a filetype from the pull-down at the top. Hit the Browsebutton and then select an image viewer that you’d like to assign as the default image viewer for the image type you have selected.

Finally, the bottom section let’s you re-assign all of Windows image types to the Windows default viewers in one quick action. Add checkmarks to the boxes you’d like to change, then hit the Repair associationsbutton.

I used this last option after checking every one of the 12 image types. It worked perfectly.

• Thank you Ramesh you are awesome. I hope to talk to you again some day.

• To the people behind CoffeeCup Free Image Viewer thank you for your defective uninstaller. It led me to find this cool tool.

• For the rest of you out there – don’t do what I did. It’s not smart to install new applications without running an install monitor or at least setting a Windows Restore point. Good luck, and I hope you never have to edit the registry. It isn’t fun and it’s not always safe.

Download Imageditor v1.1 from windowsxp.mvps.org

http://windowsxp.mvps.org/imgassofix.htm

Techie Buzz Verdict:

If you’re image filetypes get all mixed up, imageditor may be exactly what you need. It’s free, it’s small and it’s easy.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Defragging the Easy Way – Disk Defrag Screen Saver

If you can’t live without a fancy looking screen-saver, move on, this review isn’t for you. However, if you’d like a screen-saver that actually does something useful, then this is a good option.

defrag-icon If you don’t know what it means to defrag a hard drive or why you need to do it regularly, you might want to read this article at Wikipedia. You may also be interested in some of the other free defragmentation tools we’ve mentioned here at Techie Buzz.

There’s a fairly new defragger out there named Auslogics Disk Defrag Screen Saver. I ran into a mention of this freeware tool last week and gave it a try. I’ve used the standard Auslogics defrag tool for many years. The only problem I’ve had recently is getting to the Auslogics website. Their home site seems to be having some problems, so I’ve provided a link to the software below.

Why do I like it? It’s very easy to set up and use. Download it, install it and set it up. The setup is basically the same as any other screen-saver. When you are in your screen-saver options, just click the settings button and you’ll see a window with a very simple choice for you to make.
auslogics-defrag-screensaver-settings

Other than the normal time settings that you’d have with any screen-saver, the only option is to choose which hard drive you want to defrag.

Whenever your computer goes idle and the screen-saver kicks in, here’s what you will see.

auslogics-defrag-screensaver

This defrag tool works just as well as most other defraggers I’ve tried over the years. However, I can’t count the number of minutes or hours I’ve spent waiting for a manual defrag session to finish. With the new tool from Auslogics, you will never wait. It’s working when you aren’t.

Note: This isn’t a new idea. JK Defrag (now called MyDefrag) has a screen-saver option as well. I wrote an article about it almost 3 years ago.

Download – Auslogics Disk Defrag Screen Saver

Techie Buzz Verdict:

There’s no reason not to try this tool. It works well and it performs a very useful service at no cost to you and no loss of time. You can have an awesome looking screen-saver that does nothing for you, or you can use a tool like this to save you time and trouble.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Free Clipboard Manager and Personal Database – Ditto

You probably know how the Windows clipboard works. You copy something, then you can paste it somewhere else. The things you copy could be plain text, formatted text, images, links or files. You may also know what happens each time you use the clipboard. The Windows clipboard only holds the memory of the last clipping. Anything you clipped previous to the last item is gone forever.

This loss can be frustrating, and the frustration has inspired many solutions to this problem. The most common solution is a tool called a clipboard manager. These tools (sometimes called clipboard extenders, enhancements or extensions) can give you access to old clippings.

I won’t use a PC for any length of time without a clipboard manager. Over the years, I’ve tried many clipboard extenders, and Ditto is my favorite. Ditto is a free and open source program. It has built-in help and an active online forum. It also comes in a portable version that you can unzip onto a flash drive and take with you for use on any PC.

Ditto’s search feature is what really sold me on it. When Ditto is activated by it’s hot key, it displays the most recent clips and also defaults to a search mode. As soon as you start typing, Ditto searches all of it’s clippings for the characters you enter and displays the most likely clippings that contain those characters.

When you combine the search feature with Ditto’s ability to permanently store clippings, you have a time saving database right at your finger tips. After I describe the program, I’ll show you my favorite feature to save you time if you decide to use it.