Tag Archives: Windows Vista

Great Windows Search Replacement – Agent Ransack

search-doc2-ico [Windows Only] A little over two months ago, Mythicsoft released a new version of their well known freeware search tool, Agent Ransack. Agent Ransack is a lite version of FileLocator Pro, and is free for both personal and commercial use.

Even though I normally use the Everything Search tool to find files, I like to keep Agent Ransack installed on my Windows XP machines, because it integrates with Windows and provides a much faster file search and content search when you need it. It will also work in Vista and Windows 7.

Here’s what it looks like when you launch it normally:

agent-ransack-normal-mode

As you can see above, I searched for all files containing the text techie buzzand it returned the results within a few minutes. There’s a nice preview pane that lets you see inside the files you pick from the results. That’s not all the features it has, here’s a list from the web site:

• Boolean expressions
Combine search terms using the familiar Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT.

• Office formats
Support for popular Office formats including Office 2007 and OpenOffice.

• Updated UI
Brings Agent Ransack’s user interface into the modern day.

• Perl regex
Support for Perl compatible regular expressions.

• 64-bit Version
Natively compiled 64-bit version for improved compatibility.

I think the best feature is the Windows integration. You have to enable it using the Tools / Shell Integrationmenu.

agent-ransack-shell-integration

When you have a file folder open, all you have to do is hit the F3 (search) key to fire up the integrated Agent Ransack. In that mode, it doesn’t look much different than the normal Windows file search.

agent-ransack-in-explorer-f3

Using it to search folders in this manner will end up saving you lots of time, and in addition, it will eliminate the Windows XP doggie spy.

Agent Ransack isn’t the fastest search tool around. The search tools that use an indexed search are faster, but an indexed search tool usually runs in the background, continuously watching your hard drive for changes. Often the index databases can be large, sometimes very large (hundreds of megabytes).

• Download Agent Ransack

Techie Buzz Verdict:

If you’d like a good, light weight replacement for the slow Windows file search, you won’t find many tools better than Agent Ransack. I have no problem giving it a highly recommended.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Seagate To Launch 3TB Hard Disks By Year End

Seagate one of the world’s most popular Hard disk manufacturer has confirmed that they are working on a 3 TB drive. According to Seagate, they will be “announcing a 3TB drive later this year.” As of now, 2TB is the highest storage capacity available in a single hard disk drive. The launch of 3TB drives will push the prices of the 2TB drives down, which will help increase their sale.

Seagate

The shift to 3TB drives will not be smooth though. LBA or Logical Block Addressing standard is not capable of addressing capacities in excess of 2.1 TB. Seagate says that users need to upgrade their system’s BIOS, update the drivers in order to use the 3TB drives. Seagate also said that Windows XP will fail to see the 3 TB drive, and if it does manage to identify the drive, it will not see the full 3TB of space. Users need to use the 64-bit version of Windows Vista or Windows 7 to make full use of the 3 TB of space. In addition, modifiedversion of Linux will be able to see the full 3TB of space.

Seagate’s Senior Product Manager Barbara Craig also said, There’s also a GUID partition table (GPT) that needs to be implemented, for the master boot record.

Seagate did not mention anything about the prices of these upcoming 3TB drives.

(Source)

Super Photo Slideshow Screensaver – JPEGSaver

display-ico Most Windows systems already come with a nice built in screensaver for viewing the pictures you’ve stored on your hard drive. In Windows XP it’s called My Pictures Slideshowand it includes the basic settings you need to show your pictures when the computer is idle. Here’s an screenshot of the settings for it.

my-pictures-slideshow

As you can see, the settings page is pretty simple. Many people complain that it doesn’t handle different size images very well and it doesn’t let you change images any faster than 6 seconds. I’ve also seen people complain that Windows 7 has even fewer options for displaying your photos in a screensaver.

Now you can get tons of options with the latest version of JPEGSaver. It works in all Windows versions and it’s still fairly easy to use.

Here’s what the settings for JPEGSaver looks like.

jpegsaver-settings

Take a look at all of those tabs. Each tab gives you far more control over how your photos are shown in the screensaver. It even lets you choose multiple folders of photos for it to display.

JPEGSaver does require a minimum of DirectX 9, and it will check your system for the correct DirectX files while it installs.

Download JPEGSaver:

http://www.goat1000.com/jpegsaver4.php

Techie Buzz Verdict:

If you need more options when viewing your photos as a screensaver, JPEGSaver can be a life saver. Once installed it’s as easy to use as any of your other screensavers.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Say Goodbye to Windows XP SP2 on July 13th

Microsoft has finally announced that it will end support for Windows XP SP2 and Windows 2000 this July the 13th. Windows XP SP2 and Windows 200 are currently running on extended support. This is a standard Microsoft support policy according to which it supports a product for the first five years on regular basis and for the next five years on extended support.

windows-logo
The announcement is available at this page on windows.microsoft.com. It says,

Support is ending for some versions of  Windows

  • Support for  Windows  Vista  without any service packs ended on April 13, 2010.
  • Support for  Windows  XP  with Service Pack 2 (SP2) will end on July 13, 2010.*

If you’re running one of these versions after support ends, you won’t get security updates forWindows.

Existing users of Windows 2000 need to get hold of a new version of Windows whereas, Windows XP SP2 users can simply upgrade to Windows XP SP3 which will be supported for longer.

Windows Vista suers on the other hand, can upgrade to Vista SP2 for free and continue using their product.

Fix Common System Problems with Microsoft Fix It Center Online

Microsoft has launched Fix it Center Online – a repository of Fix It solutions offered by Microsoft. Fix It patches are nothing but one-click solutions to common system problems that Microsoft has been offering for quite some time. In the past, we have referred to them on numerous occasions. However, until now there was no central repository for all the Fix It patches released by Microsoft. So, unless you knew exactly what you were looking for, it was practically impossible to locate the required solution. The newly released Fix It Center (FIC) takes care of this problem.

Fix-It-Center-Solutions

The FIC client packages old and new fixes into a neat utility. Once installed, it will automatically scan your system, detect your hardware and software configuration and offer to fix any detected incorrect system settings. Microsoft claims that FIC can even find and fix issues before they become real problems.

Fix-It-Center-Online-Sync

FIC also allows you create an online account, which maintains a record of all the fixes applied by you in the past. You can install Fix it Center client on as many PCs you like, and when you use the same sign-in account during the client setup on each PC, the information about all your PCs will be registered in the same account. This feature may appear unnecessary to home users but it can be of great help to computer technicians and system administrators.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Microsoft-Fix-It-Center If there is one thing that I didn’t like about FIC, it is the fact that it forced me to use a web installer. It is not hard to see why Microsoft opted to offer just a web installer – they probably just want to ensure that you always install the latest version on any system. However, this also makes deploying FIC on systems with slow internet connection cumbersome. Other than this, I can find very little to nitpick about. Some of the solutions suggested by FIC are quite basic. But then, this isn’t really a tool for power users.

Fix It Center is a beta product. Hence, it may behave unpredictably. However, during my brief testing it worked flawlessly. It’s definitely a great tool and every computer user should have FIC at his disposal.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

[ Download Microsoft Fix It Center Online ]
via TheWindowsClub

How To Use Regedit

reg-icon Windows stores its configuration settings in a database called the registry. These settings are constantly modified by the many different programs running in Windows. Users can also make changes to the registry by using the Windows registry editor, regedit. Making changes to the registry is a common way to correct problems and change the way Windows looks and acts.

However, making the wrong registry changes can cripple your Windows system. So before you start hacking away with regedit, you should learn a little about it. This tutorial will explain some of the features in regedit and tell you how to use it safely.

Backing up the registry

Back up the registry before you make changes. One convenient way to do this is to use Windows System Restore. Here’s how to use System Restore. Another method for backing up the Windows registry is using a free utility named ERUNT, and here is how ERUNT works. Make sure you understand one of these methods before going any further.

Launching regedit

Unlike most other system tools, regedit will not appear in any of your menus when you click the Start button. That means you’ll have to launch it some other way. I’ll tell you how to start it using the Run dialog.

To bring up the Run dialog, hold down the Windows key and tap the R key.

winkey r

Now type regedit into the command entry box and click OK.

start-run-regedit

Using Regedit

Once launched, regedit will pop up pretty quickly. Here’s what it looks like:

regedit-hives-displayed

First, I’ll mention that you can see a Helpmenu in regedit and you’ll find plenty of information in it that I won’t cover in this tutorial.

The navigation pane (on the left) is showing the 5 main hivekeys, which always start with the word HKEY. To navigate deeper into the registry, you need to click on the plus (+) signs next to a hive key. The same applies the further into registry you go. Once you click on a plus, it will display all the sub-keys under that key and the plus will change into a minus (-) sign. Clicking on the minus sign will collapse the structure back to the way it was.

In the view below, you can see that I’ve located the key for a piece of software that I had installed.

regedit-delete-key

At the bottom of the window you can see the registry path to this key. Right clicking on a key will bring up a menu showing several actions.

  • New, will create a new key under the key I have selected.
  • Delete- If this was a program that was no longer installed on my PC, I could safely delete this key.
  • The Copy Key Nameaction places the full path to the key in your Windows Clipboard, and it can be pasted as text into other applications, such as email or a web browser.
  • Exportaction allows you to save the information under a registry key, and this information can be restored later if it’s needed. It’s a good idea to export a key before you make changes to it. I’ll talk more about exported keys later.

Here you can see that I’ve navigated down into the Current User hive to take a look at my mapped network drives.

regedit-add-new-key

In this view, I have the Zkey open. In the right pane (data pane), you can see the entries for the data values under this key. Each piece of data under a key has a name, type and value. The data name can be almost any string of letters as long as it doesn’t contain a space. There are several types of data, as shown above, and you can learn more about them in the regedit help file.

Right clicking into an empty area in the data pane will bring up the Newmenu, as shown above, which allows you to add new data entries. Right clicking on one of the data entries, as shown below, will allow you to modify its value or delete it entirely.

regedit-modify-data

Importing data into the registry

Above I mentioned that you can export a key to save all the sub-keys and data under it. When you export a key, you will see that it wants to save as a REG file.

regedit-export-a-key

A .reg file is actually a plain text file and you can open it up in Notepad to see what’s inside of it. Here’s a look inside of one:

regedit-exported-reg-file

That’s good to know, because you will often find registry tweaks published online in plain text as shown in the image above. All you need to do is to copy the text, paste it into Notepad and then save it as a .REG file.

reg-file-merge

Once you have a REG file that you want to restore or add to the registry, all you need to do is double click on it, or right click on it and Mergeit into the registry. When you do this, you’ll get a message asking you to confirm this action.

reg-file-merge-dialog

After you confirm, you’ll get a message telling you that the information was entered.

reg-file-merge-dialog-confirmed

Notes:
  • If you’ve made changes to the registry, you won’t always see an immediate change (if it’s one you can see). Many times you will have to log out of Windows and log back in before you see any changes.
  • Some free tools make it easy to change your registry without using regedit. These programs are often called tweakor system enhancement tools, such as TweakUI (from Microsoft).
  • Here are some sites with lots of registry tweaks you can apply to Windows.
  • Here are some tutorials on how to use the registry and REG files.
  • Here is a list of free registry tools.
Summary

I’ve told you what the registry is, how to back it up, make changes to it, and finally, how to add to the registry using REG files. Now you have enough information to safely make registry changes, and you can learn even more about these topics in the regedit help file and other places online.

Free Disk Space Analyzer – O&O DiskStat – Limited Time Offer

folder-check-icon[Windows Only] I recently saw an offer for a 1 Terabyte hard disk for around $120. The price of storage space keeps getting better and better. Once you start filling up huge disks, you need a way to figure out what stuff belongs on them and what you need to send to the trash.

There are dozens of disk management solutions out there and many of them are free. However, sometimes you get what you pay for. O&O Software is giving away copies of their O&O DiskStat program. It’s normally priced at $30 USD. In this case, you are getting much more than what you pay for.

o o-screenshot

Quote from O&O Software:

O&O DiskStat is a high-power tool for analyzing the used disk space on your storage volumes. With an easy-to-use interface based on the design of the Windows Explorer, you can take a closer look at the file and folder structure of your internal and external drives. Through intuitive and beautiful graphical representations you will find out which files, file types and folders are taking up the most space.

A few of the features:
* Analysis of the File System Structure
* Supports Internal and External Drives
* Windows Explorer Look & Feel
* Support of 64-bit Systems
* Windows Vista/7 Compatibility

Sign up for a free license of O&O DiskStat (requires an email address)

Set and Create Time Zones with Zone Manager

clock-002 Have you ever heard of Karen’s Power Tools? Karen Kenworthy is a Visual Basic programmer and she offers most of the programs she writes for free at her website, KarenWare.com. Karen also occasionally sends out a newsletter featuring one of the tools she’s recently worked on. This time her newsletter featured a tool named Zone Manager.

Zone Manager let’s you quickly control and set new time zones in Windows. You can create a desktop shortcut to any time zone, so that you can switch between zones with a double-click of your mouse. You can also create your own custom time zones and enable or disable Daylight Saving Time. In addition, Zone Manager can synchronize your PC clock to one of the super accurate Internet Time Servers.

Why would you need it? Let’s say that I’m hopping on a jet from New York to India. While I’m on the way there, I may stop in Europe or Arabia. If I know my route ahead of time, I can create desktop shortcuts that quickly change my PC’s time zones. A double click and I’ve changed from one time zone to another. I’ll have the local time set even before I hit the terminal.

You can find out more about Zone Manager in Karen’s most recent Newsletter.

Here’s what it looks like.

zone-manager-interface-1

Here you can see that I’ve made a time zone named Twilight Zone.

zone-manager-edit-zones

Download Karen’s Zone Manager

The source code for many of the programs at Karen’s site is available for download. That means you can customize these programs or use the code as a learning resource.

Once I asked Karen about making one of these program portable, so that it could run from a flash drive. I didn’t get an answer, but I’ve figured it out on my own. If you want to use any of Karen’s Power Tools on a flash drive, follow these steps.

1. Download and install the Power Tool. (note step 4 before you finish installing)

2. Go to the Program folder for that program and copy it to your portable drive. Example path: C:\Program Files\Karen’s Power Tools

3. Since Karen’s tools need the Visual Basic runtime files, you need to copy these into the portable drive folder you created in step 2. If you don’t have VB6 runtime support installed, you can get it here. Here are the files you will need, they are usually located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder.

ASycFilt.dll
ComCat.dll
MSVBVM60.dll
OLEAut32.dll
OLEPro32.dll
STDOLE2.tlb

4. There may also be some OCX files you’ll need. When you install a Power Tool, it will display all of the files it needs in it’s installation window just as it finishes. Once again, these are usually located in the System32 folder.

Here are some more of Karen’s Power Tools, just in case you are curious:

Replicator – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptreplicator.asp
Countdown Timer II – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptcount2.asp
Directory Printer – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptdirprn.asp
Computer Profiler – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptprofiler.asp
Show Stopper – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptstopper.asp
WhoIs – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptwhois.asp
URL Discombobulator – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptlookup.asp
Calculator – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptcalc.asp
Once-A-Day II – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptoad.asp
Hasher – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/pthasher.asp
‘Net Monitor – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptnetmon.asp
Cookie Viewer – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptcookie.asp
Zone Manager – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptzone.asp
Print Logger – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptprnlog.asp
E-Mailer II – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptmailer2.asp
Disk Slack Checker – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptslack.asp
Drive Info – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptdinfo.asp
Time Sync – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptsync.asp
LAN Monitor – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptlanmon.asp
Window Watcher – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptwinwatch.asp
Recycler – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptrecycler.asp
Alarm Clock – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptalarm.asp
Font Explorer – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptfonts.asp
Power Toy – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/pttoy.asp
Time Cop – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/pttimecop.asp
Mailer – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptmailer.asp
Version Browser – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptbrowse.asp
Autorun.inf Editor – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptautorun.asp
Registry Pruner – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptpruner.asp
Registry Ripper – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptregrip.asp
Snooper – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptsnoop.asp
Clipboard Viewer – http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptclpvue.asp

Techie Buzz Verdict:

Zone Manager is one of many very good tools from Karen that I’ve used over the years. It offers a unique set of features you aren’t likely to find anywhere else. I like the fact that it’s not only free, but that the source code is also offered for free.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

A New and Improved Start Menu with StartMenu7

In September of 2008, Keith wrote about a Windows Start Menu replacement called VistaStartMenu. The author of that program has created a new alternative based on the Windows 7 menu. If you are running an older version of Windows, and you have a slight case of feature envy, StartMenu7 may be an option you’ll enjoy adding.

7start-menu-icon I recently tried StartMenu7 and took a few screenshots. I’ll share them with you here and add a few comments on some of the features.

This screen-shot is from the author. It shows the default skin.

7start-menu-default-skin

If your system supports it, portions of the menu are transparent.

This menu has a search box at the bottom, like Vista and Win7. It works pretty much the same. Typing into it searches your Start Menu for programs or actions. Also across the bottom are buttons for PC power control and options. Just above the power buttons are three tabs labeled All Programs, Quick Startand Autorun. The All Programsis the default view and it shows all of your programs. The Quick Startmenu can be populated with items that you add to it through the Options.

Here’s another skin called Classic…

7start-menu-classic-skin

… and another skin called Windows. I liked this one the best.

7start-menu-windows-skin

At the top of StartMenu7 are two buttons for adding and removing program shortcuts. There’s a third button for access to a custom Runmenu with several interesting features.

7start-menu-run-jumper

Shown above is the Runsub-menu called Commandsand below is the sub-menu for Folders.

7start-menu-run-jumper-folders

StartMenu7 is installed like most other applications and can be removed using the Windows Add/Remove applet. You can launch StartMenu7 normally or you can set it to automatically launch when Windows boots up.

There are many options that I haven’t explored. Here are a few that are listed on the program’s website.

  • The list of menu items is alphabetically sorted, so you can easily find any program or command by its name.
  • Open any location on your PC with a single click.
    You can create, modify, and reorder items in Start Menu 7. So it’s easy to create a list of the most used locations, popular directories, and virtual folders to access them with a single click.
  • There is a special Run button to access seldom used locations without adding them into menu.
  • Start Menu 7 has a customizable Power Buttons panel.
  • With Power Timer feature you can delay any of power management operations.

Download StartMenu7 (Windows 2000, 2003, XP, Vista, 7)

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I don’t use many addons like StartMenu7. I like to keep my resources free and I’m also a big fan of Classicmenus. That said, I’m very tempted to add StartMenu7 to my Windows XP machines. While I was using it, it seemed bug free and didn’t slow things down one bit. I really did like all of the extra features it adds.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Zip Up Files to Hide Your Secrets [How to]

zip-icon Zip files are a great way to pack up a collection of files to send them to other people, usually in an email. At least three or four times a year, I run into someone who doesn’t know how to zip up a collection of files in Windows. I ran into three people in the last two weeks at work.

Years ago, you had to have a third party tool such as WinZip to create and open zip files. In 2001, Windows XP was released with built-in zip capabilities. Microsoft decided to call these compressed folders.

Not only is it easy to use the built in zip features in Windows, it’s also possible to password protect zip files so that others can’t open the files inside them. However, even though a zip file is password protected, you can still see a list of files inside it. I have always hated that, but I found a way around it.

Here is how to hide all of your top secret files in a zip file (or compressed folder).

First, let’s create two zip folders. You’ll see why we need two of them shortly.

To create a zip folder, right click into any folder or in an empty place on your desktop, and choose NewCompressed Folder.

image

Let’s choose Stuffand Top Secretas the names of the new zip files.

Now we can add some top secret files to our Stufffolder. I’m going to add a JPG picture to it here. I’ll open up Stuff.zipby double clicking it, then drag the JPG file into it.

add-files-to-zip

Now let’s add the Stuffzip file to the Top Secretzip file.

add-zip-to-zip

Now we need to add a password to the Top Secretcompressed folder.

menu-add-a-password

You’ll have to type your password in twice to confirm it.

enter-password-twice

That’s it. The next time anyone opens that zip folder, all they’ll be able to see is a file named Stuff.zip. If they try to open it or extract it, they’ll have to know the password you’ve set.

trying-to-open-protected-file

As you can see, all of the files inside the Stuff.zip are hidden. That’s why we needed two zip files.

As a final cleanup step, you can delete the older copies of Stuffand the JPG. These are safely and securely inside the Top Secretzip folder now.

delete-older-copies

These techniques will work in all versions of Windows released after XP, as well as XP itself.

Here are some other ways to use zip files:

1. Compress and Zip Files Online Without Any Software
2. How to Fix Default Zip File Behavior
3. Open Zip Files Online
4. Repair Corrupted Zip Files
5. Unzip or Extract Files Online

Here are some other ways to hide files:

1. Lock And Hide Files & Folders
2. Windows Scripts: Show/Hide Hidden Files and Folders In Windows
3. Password Protect and Hide Personal Folders
4. Hide Drives From My Computer

If you have your own special way to hide secret data, let us know in the comments below.