Mar 302009
 

A video, not recent but interesting, created by Greg Craven weighs the risks and possibilities of inaction on climate change. It is done from a science teacher perspective and lays down in, an admittedly, simplistic fashion the debate in the form of risk management and calculation. More similar videos and the complete series on the issue of climate change is on youtube and the accompanying site.

It is clear, in many respects, that the time for debate is long over but convincing those who dissent will probably have to continue for the foreseeable future. In some of the upcoming posts here on RGdot and using the Green category I will attempt to collect evidence, links and opinion showing the reasons why. I will also attempt to present a few dissenters, which include such scientific minds as Freeman Dyson.

Mar 252009
 

Canaware NetNotes allows the capture, organization and storage of whole webpages or excerpts directly from a browser. It is really easy to create a knowledgebase or simply a collection of text using NetNotes. The captured material can be categorized, highlighted and even edited using the built-in editor. The captures are organized and saved in folders that reside within libraries, all of which are fully searchable, movable and mergeable. It is further possible to email notes and captures and also to back them up in zipped format and since all are stored in HTML they remain usable even without the NetNotes application.

netnotes

Canaware NetNotes’ usage consists of highlighting the portion of a web page or just right clicking (Firefox requires the accompanying but optional Add-on) on an empty area of a page and choosing the Export To Canaware Netnotes option. The program then opens with the option of saving the capture and optionally editing its title and adding keywords. Prompt will be given to choose and download any attachments that are part of the capture as in elements that may exist within a webpage.
Under the Tools—>Option menu such things as the default library, in which to automatically save new notes, is configurable but more importanly it is possible to make the captures safe by forcing NetNotes to filter out potentially dangerous elements and scripts. (see image above)
Canaware NetNotes runs on Windows 2000 and up and requires Internet Explorer or Firefox and perhaps as a con the .Net framework. The limitation on browsers of either not being directly supported or needing an Add-on can be viewed as a negative, and when there is no support such as for Opera, to a positive because one is not forced into yet another download and can just launch the program directly to and paste the contents of the clipboard and use the program.

Mar 222009
 

CintaNotes is a lightweight and potentially extremely useful note taking program. At a portable download of 344KB and an executable of 625KB CintaNotes is useful and small. Notes are collected via a configurable hot key (Ctrl+F12 by default), a simple paste or by opening the program and using the Add option. In the first two cases the title of the note is automatically taken from the originating application window and if it happens to be from a web browser the URL is added to the note’s Link field.

CintaNotes

Each note is dated and can be tagged. A real time search bar finds them by any or all of text and title, time, link, title, text and tag. It is also possible to merge notes by selecting them, by using the usual Ctrl or Shift keys, and pressing Ctrl+M. The font and color of notes and the whole program itself can be configured as well. A hot key is configurable to bring focus to the program and also to add a new note. Perhaps the feature that makes CintaNotes most useful and hassle free is the Silent Clipping one. When checked under the Options menu the program window does not pop up whenever a note is added, when using the aforementioned Ctrl+F12 for example, the program will instead show a balloon tip at the system tray with the contents of the note being captured.

CintaNotes runs on Windows 2000, 2003, XP and Vista and fully supports unicode text.

Mar 152009
 

One of the ways to see which process(es) and program(s) are taking over your system is to look at which starts along with your computer. Windows Start menu has a Startup shortcut that shows the often legitimate programs that start for the current or all users.

Startup Control Panel and StartupMonitor by Mike Lin add to the arsenal of useful and simple tools that give computer users a better picture of their system. They provide powerful yet lightweight means of viewing, controlling and detecting possible resource hogs and even security threats.

StartupMonitor at a 60KB download runs in the background and is only seen when a program wants to add an entry to the system’s startup. Sometimes such an entry may be necessary, may be a program such as a calendar has to be visible or running all the time, in which case the change or addition can be accepted with one click. At other times the program may be suspicious or not wanted, when for example a program wants to call home to retrieve updates automatically, and here a simple No click will do the job. StartupMonitor will add an entry to the Windows Start menu to stop it running, if needed.

Startup Control Panel at a 34KB executable (to be installed) or a 59KB zip file (run straight after unzipping) download on the other hand has an interface.  It is divided into tabs that let the user view virtually all entries in the system’s startup. The tabs are Startup User which shows the items for the current user, Startup Common which shows the ones for all users, Run Once which are those that can occur when a program or report is installed or generated and needs to run at the next system startup only, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE for the registry entries affecting all users when programs add a startup entry to the Windows registry and HKEY_CURRENT_USER for the registry entries affecting the current user.

Each entry can be viewed in the control panel and unchecked to not run or simply be deleted to not be seen and be sent to the program’s Deleted tab. Much like looking at the aforementioned Startup shortcut provided by Windows some of the tasks acheivable by the StartupControl Panel tools can be done when accessing Microssoft’s own MSConfig but Startup Control Panel offers a more complete picture of what is happening. One additional feature is that it is possible to send an entry to other tabs via one right click. Sending to different tabs simply means, for example, that a process can be sent form Startup User to Startup Common and therefore allowing it to run for all users.

Startup Control Panel and StartupMonitor are two extremely worthy free downloads from Mike Lin.

Mar 102009
 

I do not know of a person or organization who doesn’t own or use computers or appliances that bear the Energy Star logo or who do not use their computers’ power management features such as those that turn off the hard drive and monitor after a set of amount of time. However the Climate Savers Smart Computing started by Google and Intel is taking that baseline further and in conjunction with Energy Star’s newer 4.0 specification has launched an initiative in the hopes of taking more steps in reducing CO2 emissions. The effort is mainly aimed at buinesses but consumers influence the initiative as well by buying products that support the standards and by using the power management features of the products they buy such as the aforementioned and well known feature native to most if not all computers. To make the consumer side further appealing a video challenge has been set up with a chance to win $5000 and other prizes. See video below.

Mar 082009
 

I wrote about the Donationcoder.com’s website in a previous article and one of the more impressive and useful software written there is the Clipboard Help+Spell.

There are certainly many freeware, well reviewed, useful and popular clipboard utilities available. The sadly semi-abandoned Yankee Clipper, the open source Ditto and ArsClip just to name three and of course the clipboard capabilities of the all powerful PowerPro.

Clipboard Help+Spell is nevertheless a worthy contender, if not down right winner in the category. It is simply described as

…a text-based clipboard utility

But it has many features. Among its many features is the ability to archive and delete clipboard based on configurable dates, defining hot keys for viewing, pasting and working with the stored clipboards, filtering entries to find the forgotten ones and backing up the database of collected clipboards. The features don’t stop there, an internal editor spell checks and adds text editor features to manipulate the entries as well. For example it possible to change the case of the clipboard entries within the editor, strip characters, add lines and even find and replace words using regular expressions.

A clipboard utility won’t be complete without the ability to permanently store ‘favorites’ and in this case it is only a matter of dragging an entry into the said category (see images below).

cliphs1cliphs2

Having said all that one of the most innovative features is the ability to create ‘Virtual Folders’. This feature allows certain definable clipboards to be grouped separately. For example a preset Virtual Folder is  ‘Clips With URLs’ and the way it is defined, using SQL database conditional statements, is as follows

(Lower(ClipText) LIKE ‘%http:%’) OR (Lower(ClipText) LIKE ‘%www.%’) OR (Lower(ClipText) LIKE ‘%https:%’) OR (Lower(ClipText) LIKE ‘%ftp:%’)

in that the clipboards containing any of http, https, ftp or www will be placed as a subset of all clipboards under a separate icon (as shown in the above image).

The program’s Windows tray icon is configured such that left click, double left click, right click and double right click are all defined and show stored clips, the program’s main window, the program’s general menu and the program’s on and off toggle respectively. With Clipboard Help+Spell there is a lot to play around with and discover, well worth the support and download.

Mar 042009
 

Donationcoder is an active and unusual website. It is a one where not only members get help on computer and programming issues but one where useful code and programs are being written and reviewed everyday. What makes donationcoder even more unusual is the section they call Coding Snacks. This is where you get ‘Tiny programs coded on demand while you wait’. Through this and other active members and authors donationcoder has, over the years, accumulated a vast array of programs made for a wide variety of useful tasks. Some minor and some pretty innovative and even more useful. Software creation challenges such as the yearly NANY (New Apps For The New Year) challenge have also added to the list of programs available.

Right now a 4th anniversary fundraiser has been setup with the aim of raising $8000 to cover all kinds of costs and any amount of money donated will entitle the donator to a non-expiring key to all the software created and even those that will be created in the future. Other benefits include full access to their shareware discount deals and more.

But most of all donating is a way to support donationcoder, a place where members are helping each other in very concrete means. For a fun, tongue in cheek calculation of how much a person can and should donate check out the Scientifically Proven Optimal Donation Amount Chart.