Sync Google Contacts, Picasa, YouTube And Google Reader With Google.mE

Google.mE is a java based application that helps you to synchronize your online Google world with your desktop. This java based application allows you to access  Google Contacts, Google Docs, YouTube profile, Picasa albums and Google Reader right from your desktop.

google_me_sync

To use this application, you need to provide your Google and ID. It takes a little time to sync your data. After syncing you can access your docs, videos and others from this application.

It has Google Docs, Contacts, RSS Feeds, Picasa and YouTube each arranged in separate tabs. Some of its features are:

  • You can upload or export files from Google Docs.
  • You can add new RSS Feeds to your reader or read existing RSS Feeds.
  • You can save photos from your Picasa albums or add photos to them from your computer.
  • You can add/remove contacts or move them from one folder to another.

Techie-Buzz Verdict:

This is a good little application. If you use lot of Google products like Google Reader, Docs and so on, then this is a great application to have. However, this application has a slackness. You cannot read the Google Docs directly from it. you need to download it and then view or edit it. This is a minus point. Overall, an average application.

Techie-Buzz Rating: 3/5

Download Google.me

Four services to get answers to your questions

We have dozens of daily queries, like “What’s in the flight status?” or “What is the score of the ongoing NBA game?”. Likewise, there are numerous places to get the answers to those queries too. Here is a list of four such services, which are popular for providing mostly meaningful answers to user queries.

1. SnapAsk

get-answers-snapask This is an email based service that provides you with valuable information on numerous aspects, like wikipedia articles, stock quotes, weather, flight status, dictionary and many more, through email. All you have to do is just send an email to [email protected] with a command in the subject line of the email. For instance, the command for getting an answer on flight status is flight continental 14. You can find more commands related to other topics on their homepage. The body of the email can be empty.[Visit Snapask]

2. ToAnswer

get-answers-toanswer ToAnswer is a Twitter based answering service. If you are a regular twitter user, just follow ToAsk and ToAnswer profiles. Now whenever you need to ask something, just add @ToAsk before the question. Afterwards, the tweet is is indexed by the ToAnswer Twitter bot and the question is posted on the ToAnswer homepage, making it available for answering by other users of this service.[Visit ToAnswer]

3. Google SMS

get-answers-google-sms This is an awesome service by Google, that can be accessed from your mobile phone. All you have to do is send an SMS to 466453 with the desired keyword for the query. You will get the set of keywords for any particular query here. [Visit GoogleSMS FAQ]

4. Mosio

get-answers-mosio This is yet another email based answering service which also has an SMS option to ask your questions. Check out the Mosio test page. There is nothing to install and everything is free. It also has Twitter and Jott Integration.[Visit Mosio]

Well, as I had already stated in the beginning, out of many other services that answer your questions, those four are my favorites. If you have any better suggestions, please fill in the comment form to share them.

Is the Windows XP Search Doggie a Spy?

The other day, while I was reading my friend Terry’s Newsletter, I was surprised to see this question from him.

Did you know that every time you search, Windows Explorer talks to Microsoft?

search_phone_home_trust_doggies

I did some research, he was right. I found several forum posts concerning this. Most of them had titles like: Windows Explorer Search tries to contact Microsoft.

Proof of Espionage

I won’t go into too many boring details, but I found out that when you open up a search window to find files, Windows Explorer does contact Microsoft’s 65.55.11.179 IP address. This is caused by the default use of the Search Assistant, which you normally see as a little dog. Here’s a screenshot from my copy of Currports showing that connection.

search_phone_home_currports

If you are curious about Currports, read my article telling you how to find out who is spying on you.

According to one post I found, Microsoft promises that no personal information is taken or kept. They claim that it’s an update feature. This leaves me to ask, Do you trust the little doggie?

The solution to this sneaky little dog is to turn off the Search Assistant, which changes the search to Classic Search. However, MS does not provide a simple way to do that. If you click the preferences in Search, you can make the Search Assistant hide, but it really is still working. An article at MS TechNet tells you how to hack the Windows Registry to completely kill the Search Assistant. May he rest in peace.

Hack Your Registry

I’ve tried their solution and it works. For those who know how to use a .REG file, here’s the text of a REG file which works. Copy and paste it into a text file, then save it with a .REG extension. Double-click it to install the fix.

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CabinetState]
“Settings”=hex:0c,00,02,00,0b,01,f8,75,60,00,00,00
“FullPath”=dword:00000001
“FullPathAddress”=dword:00000001
“Use Search Asst”=”no”

For those who don’t want to muck around in the Windows Registry, there is a better solution. You can download a copy of Tweak UI from Microsoft.

Use a PowerToy

Go to the Windows XP PowerToys page. Once there, locate the Tweak UI download on the right side bar as shown here.

search_phone_home_tweakui_download

Once downloaded and installed, you’ll find the entry for Tweak UI in your Start / Program Files menu under Windows XP PowerToys. Open the program and navigate to the Explorer section. You’ll see the tweak for the Classic Search as I show here below.

search_phone_home_tweakui_setting

Search Assistant Post Mortem

Once that’s done, you’ll never see your furry little friend again. I realize that some of you may miss seeing him do tricks, but I don’t think you’ll miss the silly questions that he asks you every time you do a file search.

Here’s a side by side of   the Windows Search panel with and without the Search Assistant.

search_phone_home_little_dog search_phone_home_no_doggie

If you’ve succeeded in burying the doggie in the back yard, you may want to go one step further and add a faster file search to Windows XP.

More Tweaks to See

Be sure to check out all of the other tweaks that Tweak UI can give you on your Windows XP system. My favorite is removing the Shortcut Toprefix which gets added every time you create a shortcut.

The Other PowerToys

Also check out the other PowerToys at the Microsoft page that I linked to above. Here’s a quick list of some of them.

Techie-Buzz Verdict: Guilty

Yes, the little dog is a spy, but you can muzzle him with a registry hack or the TweakUI PowerToy from Microsoft. No animals were harmed in the making of this article.

How to Replace Windows XP Search

Windows XP isn’t going to suddenly go away now that Windows 7 is out. I recently received a new HP Mini netbook as an early Christmas present. Guess what operating system is on it? Yeah, it’s XP, and I’m not disappointed. I still use XP at work and that may not change for a long time yet, considering how the economy is doing.

Now on to the topic …

ms_doggie_search How do you like seeing the little doggie when you use Windows XP search (from the Start Menu) to look for files? It’s a slow search, very slow, and the doggie doesn’t help much. That little doggie has been around since 1995. He first made an appearance in an operating system called MS Bob. No, the name isn’t a joke, and I’ve got a copy of that OS.

How would you like to replace Windows XP Search with something a whole heck of a lot faster?

You can add a faster file search engine to Windows by using a freeware utility named  Reroute XP Search.

defaultSearch It only replaces the search dialog that you see when you hit the Search link in your Start Menu or hold down the Windows Key and tap the Fkey. This does not change what happens when you are in Windows Explorer and you hit F3 or click on search there. So it does do what it advertises, but it would be so much better if it did change all the places you can call up Windows search.

Download a file named reroutexpsearch.zip from the site, then extract it and run the executable file, RerouteXPSearch.exe. You’ll see a fairly obvious interface to add a replacement 3rd party search tool.

reroutexpsearch

So, what fast search tools do I recommend? Here are three I’ve reviewed in my wiki. I’ve tried them all and like them very much.

SnowBird, AgentRansack, EveryThing

Now when I want to search for a file, I hold down the Windows Key then tap “F, and I’ll be able to find a file far faster than Windows alone can find it.

Download Reroute XP Search

Techie Buzz Verdict:

This little quick and dirty app can prove to be valuable when you need to find files fast. It’s small, stand-alone, and it does exactly what it says it will do.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Backup Opera Data and Settings with Opera Backup

If you are an user, here is a handy tool which will allow you to backup data and settings from Opera, and restore it at a later time.

opera_backup_tool

Opera Backup allows users to Backup bookmarks, blocked content, contacts, general settings, notes, site certificates, searches, speed dial settings, password manager data, Opera unite apps, dictionaries and more.

Techie Buzz Verdict

You can easily backup and restore data and settings for multiple Opera users. Backup works fluently and I was able to backup and restore the browser with relative ease.

If you are an Opera user, this is one tool that you should definitely download. Now, would it be asking much for a portable edition?

Note to author: Please change the completion audio to something less louder, or give users a choice to disable it.

Download Opera Backup

Chat on Skype without Installing Skype Client on Your PC

Skype is one of the most popular VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services. A   drawback in Skype is that it does not have an online client. You have to install a desktop client to chat with your buddies.Here is a simple tool that can help you overcome this drawback.

Imo.im is an online service that helps you to chat with your Skype buddies online. This service allows users to IM, talk and voice chat without actually installing Skype on the computer. Apart from Skype, this service has many more IM protocols such as MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk, AIM, My Space and Facebook.

onlie_skype_chat
onlie_skype_chat

This service is very simple to use. All you need to do is, go to imo.im. Select the IM protocol you want to use. Enter the corresponding username and password. Start Chatting!

Features:

  1. The Whiteboard feature in this service lets you create drawings, diagrams and text documents in real-time with your friends online.
  2. You can upload and share your photos with your buddies on your list at [email protected] It provides about 2GB of free space.
  3. You can even create broadcasts about your service/ blog using its broadcast feature.
  4. Another feature that is worth to mention in this service is, you can log on to multiple accounts simultaneously. So you can chat with your Skype buddy while pinging your GTalk buddy.

Techie-Buzz Verdict

It is a very good service. It has really cool and simple interface. It does not have any messy ads unlike many other online services. It’ amazing features such as whiteboard and multiple account login provides this a plus point.

Techie-Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Easily Encrypt and Decrypt Files using 128-bit Cipher with Crimson128

We have told you about several file encryption and decryption tools in the past, Crimson128 is another utility which will help you encrypt and decrypt files from the context menu in Windows.

file_encryption_decyption_tool

Using this tool, you can quickly encrypt and decrypt files using a simple right click. Crimson128 also supports hardware keys and split hardware keys for more security. Crimson128 uses 128-bit cipher to encrypt files and also allows you to benchmark your PC and create custom password keys to encrypt your files.

Techie Buzz Verdict

techie-buzz-recommended-software[1]

Crimson128 is a really simple tool which makes file encryption and decryption a breeze. Encrypted files can only be opened with a passkey used to encrypt the files. In addition to that, Crimson also supports any types of file for encryption, making it a really useful tool to have on your computer.

Once a file has been encrypted it can only be decrypted by using the Crimson decryption, the file cannot be read or opened anywhere else.

Techie Buzz Ratings: 4/5 (Excellent)

Download Crimson128

CleanDesktop is Desktop Cleanup Wizard for Windows Vista and XP

Having a clean and well organized desktop is often the first step to improving productivity. If you have ever used Windows XP, you will surely remember the Desktop Cleanup Wizard. It was a no-fuss utility which automatically scanned your desktop icons and offered to delete the ones you never used. Unfortunately, Microsoft decided to dump this utility in Windows Vista.

Fortunately for us, Omkarnath from TheWindowsClub has developed his own CleanDesktop utility. It is intended to be a Desktop Cleanup Wizard substitute for Windows Vista and 7. CleanDesktop scans your desktop entries and lists items which haven’t been used for 30 days or more. You have the option of permanently deleting these entries or moving them to the folder \Desktop\Unused Icons.

Clean-Desktop-Desktop-Cleanup-Wizard

Techie Buzz Verdict

CleanDesktop is a portable utility which does exactly what it is supposed to do. In order to make the most out of this utility, I recommend that you use Task Scheduler to run it once every month. In fact I would like to see future versions of CleanDesktop include in-built scheduling options. Give CleanDesktop a try if you frequently end up with a cluttered desktop.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)
[ Download CleanDesktop ]

uTorrent 2.1 Adds Support for Video Streaming, Access Anywhere and DNA

The final build of uTorrent 2.0 may not be out yet, but that hasn’t stopped the developers from beginning work on future builds. They have already released multiple alpha builds of uTorrent 2.1 (codenamed Falcon). Falcon will be a major update for uTorrent and will include both visible and under the hood changes.

The biggest attraction of uTorrent 2.1 is support for video streaming. Video streaming will allow you to begin watching videos without waiting for it to be completely downloaded. In fact if your connection is fast enough, you would be able to instantly begin watching the video. This will be similar to the experience provided by online video services like YouTube.

Simon Morris (VP of Marketing and Product at BitTorrent) commented that, “Our hope is to transform getting media using uTorrent from a ‘load-wait-watch-tomorrow’ to more of a ‘point-click-watch’ experience.”

Although uTorrent didn’t explain how the new feature works, it probably uses a sequential download scheme. In sequential download mode a client gives preference to pieces with lower sequence numbers (rather than giving preference to availability). This can reduce download speed, but allows an audio or video file to be previewed before the download has been completed. Many rival clients like BitComet have had this feature for a long time. For playback uTorrent can use its own online player or your favourite local media player.

uTorrent-Falcon-New-Interface-Video-Stream

Falcon will also introduce a new zero-configuration, secure web UI which will allow you to access uTorrent from other terminals or from your smartphone. The new “Access Anywhere” feature will utilize end to end encryption to enhance security and privacy. Another notable addition is support for DNA – a free content delivery service run by BitTorrent. uTorrent 2.1 also features a refreshed UI with brand new icons. Other features which are currently being worked upon include, optional file security preferences and browser integration. A beta release is expected during the first quarter of 2010. If you are feeling adventurous you can download the alpha build from here.

Microsoft Indic Language Input Tool Makes Typing in Indian Languages Simple

Microsoft-Indic-Language-Input-Tool

Microsoft has quietly released a new product called Indic Language Input Tool, which is aimed at Indian users. Indic Language Input Tool enables input of text in Indian languages on any webpage and application. The initial release supports Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telegu and is available as a desktop software as well as an online utility. The Indic Language Tool utilizes free-form transliteration, which means there is no learning curve. Users can type the desired text in a natural manner (phonetically) utilizing English script and the utility will automatically transliterate it.

Microsoft-Indic-Language-Input-Tool-Bookmarklet

The web version works through a bookmarklet and works with all popular browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari. It’s refreshing to see a Microsoft product which is cross-browser compliant, since Microsoft products are notorious for not playing well with alternate browsers. Once you have installed the bookmarklet, simply click on it whenever you wish to activate the Indic Language tool. Any text you type is automatically transliterated on a word by word basis. Languages can be easily toggled through a floating icon, which is added to the currently active text box.

Microsoft-Indic-Language-Input-Tool-Desktop

The desktop software utilizes the language bar and works with any offline utility (as long as it features a text box). If you don’t see the language bar even after installing the tool, you will need to enable it manually from Control Panel–>Clock, Language and Region–>Change keyboards or other input methods.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Microsoft-Indic-Language-Tool-Techie-Buzz-Reccomended Microsoft Indic Language Tool is a joy to use. Its biggest strength is that it works pretty much everywhere and anywhere. The interface is minimalistic and never gets in your way. On most occasions, Indic Language Tool is bang on with its transliteration. And, in case it gets things wrong, you can easily enter the correct text from the on-screen keyboard. The developers – Emerging Markets Labs team of the Microsoft India Development Centre, have done a fabulous job. Indic Language Tool is still in beta, hence there may be some issues. I had some trouble while installing the Desktop version (for Bengali). There are also few minor oversights like missing punctuations. But, if you are willing to look past these issues (which are to be expected from any beta product), you will definitely be impressed with Indic Language Tool.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

[ Download Microsoft Indic Language Tool ]

via BeingManan