Category Archives: Integrated Solutions

Windows 8 – What’s Not To Like?

imageI’ve been running Windows 8, almost exclusively, since the first (beta) release in September of last year. Despite my initial impressions (not favorable), I’ve made a 180 degree turn – I’m really into Win 8.

Despite the clunky Metro GUI, which I’ve managed to deal with by accepting it for what it is (and isn’t), and by acknowledging the fact that with a small amount of effort put into learning the navigation intricacies of this new OS, Windows 8 is “great.” I can assure you, that learning a few keyboard shortcuts necessary to take full advantage of Windows 8, was hardly the task that learning DOS 1 was, back in the day.

In my career, I’ve had to deal with 5/6 versions of DOS (each one requiring a commitment to skills development), a sprinkling of bolt-on DOS GUIs (learning required), 7 or more versions of Windows (learning required), as well as various flavors of Linux (learning required). Windows 8 (learning required), is just one more operating system in the continuing evolution of how users interact with computing devices.

It’s true that the Windows 8 user interface is a radical departure from the traditional desktop GUI. With the navigation system designed with swiping features, slider menus, and so on, it’s obviously designed with Tablet PCs and Smartphones in mind. There’s no doubt – it certainly forces a readjustment in the comfort level of experienced Desktop users – there’s that learning thing again.

Users can, of course, choose to stand pat and resist evolutionary change, But, those who continue to brush this OS aside are making a mistake, in my view. Windows 8 has a lot to offer, including – vastly reduced boot time, blazingly fast application load time , a very small memory footprint, and considerably enhanced security over previous versions.

On top of all that though, Windows 8 includes a “killer feature” – PC Refresh. Or, as some Microsoft people have been known to call this feature – “push-button reset.”

Call me crazy if you like, but I’m a firm believer in reformatting and reinstalling my operating systems regularly. It’s a relatively easy task since I run multiple drives – each of which is partitioned for specific types of data storage.

Windows 8 has made this task somewhat easier. Windows 8 “push-button reset” will automatically reinstall Windows while at the same time – keeping all personal data, Metro style apps, and important system settings. This is not a perfect reinstall solution since pre-Windows 8 programs are not reinstalled.

image

Those apps that are not reinstalled can be referenced in an HTML file which PC Refresh automatically saves to the desktop.

There’s little doubt that Win 8 advances computing technology in a number of very substantial ways, much beyond the few improvements I mentioned earlier. All-in-all, I’m glad I didn’t bounce this OS off my test system after 7 days – my first response to the Metro GUI.

But, the absence of the familiar Start Menu which allows for Shutdown/Restart commands, which has been shunted aside in favor of an ineffective barebones replacement (shown below), has cramped my style somewhat.

image

Working through 2/3 levels of menus to restart/shutdown is inefficient, so I’ve installed one of my all-time favorite utilities – Right-Click Extender Version 2 – which added a Restart and a Shutdown command (shown below), to the Desktop context menu. Problem solved!

image

Right-Click Extender has proven to be one of the most important free utilities (considering my style of computing), I’ve yet found. It can add amazing functionality to various right click context menus.

If you missed my earlier review, and walkthrough, on Right-Click Extender Version 2, I’ve reposted it below. It’s worth a read/reread.

Right-Click Extender Version 2 – Adds Multiple Context Menu Commands

imageThe “right click context menu” in Windows is a hidden gem. I know, you’re thinking – wait a minute, the right click context menu isn’t hidden, I use it all the time. And, I’ll bet you do. But, you might be surprised to learn, that if you were to ask an average user about this menu, the chances are pretty good that you’d get a blank look in return.

If you’re a power user and a fan of the right click context menu, then you’ll be interested in the Right-Click Extender Version 2 (released March 11, 2010)  from The Windows Club, which will add a bag full of additional context menu support  in the following categories – File/Folder, Desktop, Drives, and MyComputer.

Following installation and execution of this free application, setting up and selecting the context menu items best suited to your needs is a snap – as the following series of screen shots shows. (Clicking on any graphic will expand it to its original size).

File Folder Setup.

image

Desktop Menu Setup.

image

Desktop Menu Options Setup.

image

The following is an example, from my system, illustrating selective context menu items available to me on the Desktop following installation of the Right-Click Extender, Version 2.

image

The following is an example, from my system, illustrating selective Windows Explorer context menu items available to me, following installation of the Right-Click Extender Version 2.

image

If the right click context menu is a tool you use frequently, installing Right-Click Extender Version 2, should help give a boost to your productivity.

System Requirements: Windows Vista, Windows 7 (sorry, not designed for Windows XP). As noted earlier, I’m running with Right-Click Extender Version 2 on Windows 8 with no problems.

Download at: MajorGeeks.com

The Windows Club offers a range of helpful Windows freeware apps – checkout their home page here.

Advertisements

22 Comments

Filed under downloads, Freeware, Integrated Solutions, Windows 8

The Next Big Thing: Trading In Your Sunglasses For… Instagram Glasses?

imageAt this point you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t completely enamored with the photo app Instagram, and if they aren’t regularly using it then they’ve at least probably heard of it. The app has erupted in popularity since its debut in October 2010.

Now, nearly every Facebook page and Twitter account boasts pictures that have been dutifully Instagrammed to perfection. The app has even become a social media forum in its own right; where users can give their stamp of approval for pictures and comment accordingly.

When the app first launched it initially was exclusive for iPhone users, however it quickly became a popular pastime, and as it grew in popularity Android users began to demand access to the app as well. Instagram delivered, and since then the company has been acquired by social media conglomerate Facebook, catapulting it to any even higher level of success. At this point it almost begs the question of “what’s next?”

Well, Markus Gerke released a plan for a potential next step for Instagram… Instaglasses. This concept is practically designed for the hipster generation.

The glasses, designed to function as sunglasses, would have a button on the side that would allow you to filter your view of life as you wore them into different Instagram filters, giving you a nice sepia tone for the view of the park, or perhaps a Polaroid view of your nephew. You would essentially become a walking piece of photo-editing software, ready at a moment’s notice to capture a photo-worthy shot of life.

“You activate the glasses by pushing ‘Insta’ and option to choose between different filters. Are you enjoying a moment? Just take a picture with your glasses and upload the image straight to Instagram,” Gerke said about the glasses.

So basically, if you happened to stumble across a particularly spectacular scene (or even just a mediocre one because let’s be honest, Instagram is full of photos of feet and food) during your everyday life, then you wouldn’t even need to get out your camera or phone – you could just filter the scene as you see fit and then snap a photograph with the glasses. The picture would then automatically upload to Instagram.

As it states on the Behance website, where the concept for the glasses is showcased, “life is beautiful, even more beautiful with filters.”

While it does sound like an intriguing concept and is a brilliant display of technology, the thought of filtering our everyday perception of the world also seems a little strange, and even seems almost too futuristic for our own good.

Do we really want to walk around changing our realities all day? Is this an idea that would actually catch on? While people are certainly caught up in the easy photo-editing craze, it also makes you wonder how long this fad is going to last, and how long people are going to continue to wear sunglasses during all hours of the day and night.

About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Kate Croston – a freelance writer who holds a bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes guest posts for different sites and loves contributing home internet service related topics. Questions or comments can be sent to:  katecroston.croston09 @ gmail.com.

6 Comments

Filed under Connected Devices, Digital Media, Guest Writers, Integrated Solutions, social networking

Google Glasses – Can You See Me Now?

clip_image002 Credit:Google

Google has done it again. Coming up with a brand new concept, Google Glasses. Google intends to augment reality with glasses that connect the real world to the internet database. Just imagine moving through your town and automatically getting visual information like addresses, maps, and even construction closures appearing organically in front of your eyes. One thing is for sure, you would never get lost again.

It is like a science fiction novel. Wearing something that connects you to the online world is not a new concept, but the actual practice of it has proved to be exceedingly difficult. Leave it to Google to come up with a viable means.

But the question here is; would you actually wear them? Are they useable, or just another way to cause accidents or injuries? Tech geeks the world over think the proposed glasses are nothing that will ever be mass produced or see widespread use, but for those internet addicts out there, these Google Glasses sound like perfection.

No more lost phones or hard to use GPS systems. No more point and click for alternate routes or forgetting someone’s name or personal details. With Google Glasses, your alternate routes are all planned ahead and as you talk to your friends and acquaintances, their Google + profile pops up, giving you all the information you’d forgotten. With Google Glasses you can even keep track of where your friends are, what traffic is like on the road ahead, and what new concert is scheduled that night, all without having to take your eyes off the road.

Not only does the invention and use of Google Glasses mean accessibility, but it also means you can accurately share your life and experiences. As the Google Glasses concept video below* portrays, the Glasses will allow you to show others, accurately and in real time, what you are seeing and hearing.

You can only conceive of the applications. What would it be like to record your lifetime, your kid’s first steps, a gorgeous sunset, and share it immediately with your friends and family? And do all this without having to drag around a computer, a camcorder, or a camera.

The simplicity of the idea lends itself well to its application. The streamlining of technology into our lives grows with every new invention like Google Glasses. We will have to experience it to see if this is what the future brings, but so far the future looks promising… if a little geeky.

*Check out this concept video Google released for Google Glasses.

About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Debra Johnson, blogger and editor of nanny babysitter.

She welcomes your comments at her email Id: – jdebra84 @ gmail.com.

9 Comments

Filed under Cloud Computing, Google, Guest Writers, Integrated Solutions

Lookeen – An Outlook Search Add-on That’s FAST!

https://bizchange.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/overloaded-man.jpg?iact=hc&vpx=794&vpy=103&dur=2755&hovh=223&hovw=226&tx=79&ty=136&sig=104081718647520250308&ei=_Y3HT5z1Eef30gGv65itDw&page=14&tbnh=160&tbnw=162&start=450&ndsp=35&ved=1t:429,r:31,s:450,i:149Currently, there’s a BlackBerry commercial running here in Canada in which a young woman declares that she gets over 1,000 emails a day. I have to admit, that the 1,000+ emails that she purportedly receives daily, led me to do a little figuring. Truth in advertising and all that.

Assuming that each email takes one minute to read, that translates into 16+ hours devoted to just reading emails. Perhaps it takes less time than that but, even cutting the read time in half would result in a full 8 hour day devoted to just reading emails.

Riding this train of thought, led me to consider just how this young woman managed (assuming that what she claims is true), to handle the time constraints imposed by this massive volume of correspondence – assuming, that at least some of these emails would require an after the fact action plan.

How would she, for example, search for and find, relevant emails, attachments, appointments, tasks, notes and contacts in a rather extensive  email achieve? And, do so quickly and efficiently – no small task.

Coincidentally, at roughly the same time that I was putting myself through mental contortions in an attempt to break down the 1,000+ email claim, I was offered an opportunity to take Lookeen, an email search solution designed to integrate seamlessly into Microsoft Outlook, for a test ride.

Fast facts:

  • Massive increase of E-Mail search speed
  • Finds e-Mails, attachments, appointments, tasks, notes and contacts
  • Supports Exchange Server, Public Folder and external PST-archives
  • Integrated Desktop Search: Search in local and Network Files
  • For enterprises: Central Indexing reduces Server and Network Traffic
  • Over 500.000 installations worldwide
  • Installation in a few clicks

Following an easy installation, the application launches into a brief tutorial as illustrated in the following self-explanatory screen captures.

Step one.

image

Step two.

image

Step three.

image

Step four.

image

Step five.

image

As shown in the following screen capture, you’ll note that Lookeen adds a simple, yet helpful, search box to Outlook.

image

Did I mention FAST?

In the following quick search, the application pulled up 697 related items in three tenths of a second.

image

In a more focused search, the application pulled up 79 related items in two tenths of a second.

image

In this brief overview, I’ve barely touched on the functionality of this super little Outlook add-on. You can also expect the following:

Lookeen will search everywhere in your Outlook data.

Have every email at your fingertips – no matter how much data you have!

The integrated real-time-indexing enables you to search your local emails (PST), Exchange Server, Public Folder, your complete desktop, and even network files, all while Lookeen is indexing your files.

Lookeen will find every mail – even in the largest of archives.

Execute parallel searches for e-mails, attachments, appointments, tasks, notes and contacts.

Integrated Desktop search enables you to search in documents and PDFs.

Install and manage Lookeen in your enterprise with group policies (Lookeen Business Edition) and use the Lookeen Shared Index feature to reduce server traffic (Lookeen Enterprise Edition).

You can download Lookeen and try it for free for 14 days.

Download at: Lookeen.

As for the young woman’s claim of 1,000 emails a day? Yeah, sure.   Smile

A big “Thank You” to regular reader Lee Garber for taking the time to point me towards this application. Thanks Lee.

7 Comments

Filed under downloads, Email, Integrated Solutions, Software Trial Versions, Utilities

NirLauncher – 100+ Free Utilities In One Download

imageIf you’re  a Geek, then I’ll wager that you’ve got at least one of NirSoft’s incredibly useful small utilities on your Hard Drive – or, on a Flash Drive. If you’re not yet familiar with NirSoft’s  collection of free tools, then you’re in for a treat.

NirSoft offers over 100 freeware utilities ranging from Password Tools, Network Monitoring Tools, to System Tools and more. All are available as individual downloads, or you can download all 100+ applications in one neat package – NirLauncher

In order to start using NirLauncher, extract the files in the package to your Flash Drive, or your Hard Drive. After you have extracted the package, simply run the executable file – NirLauncher.exe

Once you’ve launched NirLauncher, you can then launch any utility you choose from the GUI. You’ll notice, in the following graphic, that the tools are grouped by function.

Clicking any graphic on this page will expand it to its original size.

A total of 106 Utilities.

image

Password recovery utilities illustrated.

image

Fast facts:

NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without the need to install.

NirLauncher package includes a variety of tools, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…

For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.

When installed on a USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into a .cfg file on the flash drive.

On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically runs the x64 version of the utility, when there is a specific x64 version.

NirLauncher allows you to add additional software packages – including SysInternals Suite. Please see the download page for additional information.

System requirements: Windows 2000 up to Windows 7.  NirLauncher also works on x64 systems.

Download at: Nirsoft – scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Available languages: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese.

The false positive issue:

I recently came across a forum comment (on another site), made by a regular reader, who made the comment that he occasionally gets a malware warning on applications I recommend.

He’s right, and here’s why.

Many of the applications I test and recommend, are designed to be used by sophisticated users and often, these applications dig deep into the operating system replicating the behavior of hacking tools on the one hand – and malware on the other hand.

Some of the applications in NirLauncher are a perfect example of this. A number of the recovery utilities are in fact, hacking tools. Any application which can recover a hidden password is, by its very nature, a hacking tool.

You can see from the following graphic, that on installing NirLauncher my primary AV, Microsoft Security Essentials, went into overdrive to warn me of 5 potential threats contained in the NirLauncher package. This is exactly what Microsoft Security Essentials is designed to do.

Here’s what I said in a previous article dealing with false positives:

Antimalware applications are not immune from false positives. In fact, false positives are more common than many users realize. Just one example – some AVs are notorious for seeing extractor files in application setup files as a Trojan.

image

Since I was well aware that the warnings were false positives – all items were allowed.

image

Here’s what NirSoft has to say on the false positive issueAntivirus companies cause a big headache to small developers.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

9 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Integrated Solutions, PC Tools, Portable Applications, Software, System Utilities, Utilities

Download Multiple Security Apps And Tools With Free Security Software Downloader

imageSecurity Software Downloader (SSDownloader) – now in it’s second version – is a tiny open source executable (669KB) – designed specifically as a bulk downloader which focuses on security applications and, security related specialty tools.

A quick walkthrough

The tab based user interface (Free Antivirus, Security Suites (Trial Versions), Malware Removal, Firewalls, and Other Tools) is uncomplicated, and checkbox simply.

In the first screen grab, referencing “Free Antivirus”, I’ve selected three popular applications for download. Notice the languages which are available, as well as the OS “auto detect” feature.

image

For this test, I’ve bypassed the Trial Versions opportunity. Still, there’s a good selection of well know applications to choose from.

image

In this screen capture, I’ve focused on two tools which, I know from experience, can get the job done with a minimum of fuss.

image

From the “Other tools” menu, I’ve selected three more applications which have served me well in the past.

image

In testing this neat little tool, I choose a total of 10 applications for download –  and, the task was completed in just over 5 minutes.

image

As each download is completed, a system notification area popup, tells the tale – as illustrated below.

image

Note: The default download location is the Desktop. You will however, have an opportunity to select an alternative location.

Fast facts:

Download the most popular free and paid security software with a single click.

OS auto detection.

The latest version of the selected applications will be downloaded.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (32 bit and 64 bit). 

Download at: Sourceforge

In my estimation SSDownloader is a terrific portable tool – although, I don’t see much of a need for it unless one is geek inclined. But, for those of us who are geek inclined, SSDownloader (especially given its small footprint), would make a nice addition to a Flash drive toolbox.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

Comments Off on Download Multiple Security Apps And Tools With Free Security Software Downloader

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Integrated Solutions, Open Source, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Ninite – A Jaw Dropping One Shot Multiple Application Installer

imageI’ve used, reviewed, and discarded, a mix of free “One Shot” installer applications – applications which download and install multiple user selected applications, in one pass. The only keeper from the 5 or 6 I’ve looked at is, Ninite .

Since I dedicated a machine to run with Windows 8, a few weeks ago (which has run flawlessly, BTW), I finally got to the point where it was time to install a few of my favorite applications and, of course, I turned to Ninite to get the job done.

I choose to download, and install, the following applications – Chrome, ThunderBird, Google Talk, Glary Utilities, Revo Uninstaller, Songbird and TrueCrypt.

image

A small downloader (248 KB) – launched from my download folder, started the download and install process – as shown in the following screen capture.

image

Within a very few minutes (less than 4 minutes), the applications were installed (as shown in Windows 8 Metro UI), and ready to run. And, that’s the “jaw dropping” part – 4 minutes to download and install 7!!!, applications. Wicked!

image

Windows – Just a small sampling of what’s available.

image

If you’re a Linux user (and, I’m a dual booter), you haven’t been  forgotten.

Linux – What’s available.

image

Fast facts:

No Clicking Next – Ninite fully automates installers off-screen.

No Toolbars – Ninite automatically says “No” to toolbars and other junk.

Always Up-to-date – A Ninite installer always gets an app’s latest version no matter when you made it.

It Updates Too – Just run your Ninite installer again and it will update the apps to their latest versions.

No Signup – Ninite just works. No account, signup, or client needed.

32 and 64-bit – Ninite installs the best version of an app for your PC.

International – Ninite installs apps in your PC’s language.

If you’re the kind of geek who’s into helping less experienced users – this is a terrific way to help them install the freeware applications that you know, through experience, are a “must have”. Best of all, once the installer is activated Ninite does the rest – automatically and in the background.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (x64 support).

Go to: Ninite site

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

2 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Integrated Solutions, Recommended Web Sites, Software, Timesaving Tips, Utilities, Windows 8, Windows Tips and Tools