Aug 312012
 

Chit Chat for Facebook was first reviewed almost two years ago here on RGdot, now it is back at version 1.5 with more polish and features. Beside the chat or IM and status update options it now offers more control over looks and other features like pop up and other types of notification.

Chit Chat for Facebook

Changing colours, text size and font are just one of the tweaks and there are many others. These include audio notification and flashing taskbars for various events like new messages and friends logging in, saving a log of facebook messages, chatting in a tabbed interface and dividing friends in groups to more easily find them.

Chit Chat features shortcuts like Ctrl+M to hide the program quickly, Ctrl+L to log out, Alt+C to show the buddy or friends list, Ctrl+W to write on a friend’s wall – which can also be done by right clicking the friend’s name – Alt+2 and Alt+1 to move to next and previous conversation tabs and more. These shortcuts can be viewed and changed in Tools—>Preferences—>Shortcuts. Setting up a proxy server to bypass workplace blocks is also available via the preferences.

Chit Chat does have ads and asks for permission for other extras upon installation. It requires Windows XP and newer. A potentially useful feature is the option to export configured settings to use on a another installation.

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Aug 292012
 

Note: Copy Contents is in beta. Correction made to a screenshot that appeared earlier.

Copy Contents is a new program. It copies the contents of text or rtf files to the clipboard without opening them. It also copies image files (jpg, bmp, gif, tga, png, tif, pcx) to the clipboard, also without opening them. Right click on the supported formats mentioned and choose Copy Contents, the (successful) copied message appears briefly on the screen, now open a blank file (either text or image) and Ctrl+V to paste.

Copy Contents

Copy Contents does (plain) text replacements to make better and more efficient use of the copied text. Click Ctrl while clicking on Copy Contents and set up or use text replacements. It comes with three default macros in #date#, #time# and #ask#:<default text>. If a text files written for repeated use has [[date]] and [[time]] in it they will replaced with the current date and time when pasted. The third macro generates a dialog window and the text in between < and > will be replaced with the word entered in the ‘Replace with’ box.

Copy Contents
Copy Contents can be set to always ask for replacements, use the included ones without prompt or not use them at all. The OFF setting can be overridden on a case by case basis by holding the Shift key when clicking on Copy Contents in the right click context menu. Copy Contents is by http://starpunch.net/ and is currently available at the DonationCoder forums.

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Aug 282012
 

LazPaint (Version: 4.8) is open source and is a good and very capable alternative to any full featured image or graphics editors. Some of its features are listed below using its menu as a reference and the images attached to this review highlight a few of them.

LazPaint

LazPaint can do multiple undo and redos and paste as and paste as new image. Selections are available as rectangle, ellipse and polygon, these are complemented with curve that can create complex shapes or areas based on initial and end points. Selections can be edited, rotated and there is also the magic wand to automatically select objects within an image. Change canvas size and flip are available too as is zoom which includes a ‘Smart zoom’.

LazPaint

Shift colors (Colors—>Shift colors) and Deformation (Tool—>Deformation)

Colorize and shift colors work really well and change an image smartly. Intensity, lightness, normalize, negative, linear negative and grayscale are equal or superior to other similar programs. Pen, color picker, eraser, gradient, fill, shaded shape (many available shapes with adjustable light sources), text, deformation (image is divided into any number of grids and then any section of the grid can be dragged to distort portion(s) of an image) and texture mapping take LazPaint into more advanced territory.

Filter are mostly the common ones with different blurs (radial, motion, disk, fast, precise), sharpen, smooth, pixelate, cleartype, contour and emboss all there plus plane. The latter comes with a warning that it is a slow process (see last image for what the first image image is transformed into using plane). Finally render adds any one of various objects over a selection or the whole image.

LazPaint

Plane (Filter —>Plane)

LazPaint is multi-platform written in Lazarus, has command line support and so can take advantage of the BGRABitmap library, read more at http://wiki.lazarus.freepascal.org/LazPaint and http://wiki.freepascal.org/BGRABitmap. Input file formats supported are bmp, jpg, png, gif, ico and Paint.NET’s pdn and it can save to bmp, png and jpg.

Image in the screen shots is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/puksdesign/5896307147/in/photostream

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Aug 252012
 

ClipCube was reviewed while an old beta version here on RGdot, now it is back. The current version is 1.1 and comes with a new look and a new site. It is still freeware and still doesn’t require installation. With a new emphasis on being a note taker and keeper – complete with tags – in addition to its clipboard history feature it more useful than it has been.

ClipCube

After running it click the tray icon to show or hide its window. The left side of the program window is where you find the search box and tags. There are three default tags or categories and they are Clipboard, Links and Scratchpad. The notes are on the main or right side with the newest ones first on the list. In addition to automatically capturing the clipboard you can create a new note by clicking Ctrl+N, the + button or right clicking the tray icon. Edit a note with Ctrl+Space or the editor button (the keyboard looking icon). Select one or more items or notes and click the tag editor button to move a note to the Scratchpad category or other existing ones. Create new tags using the same tag editor, Alt+N or by right clicking in the tags area.

ClipCube, via its tray icon, has another interesting feature called “Trim incoming text”. This trims white space from the beginning and end of any copied text.

The preferences include toggling ‘system tray’ mode on and off – this is same as click close to minimize or click close to exit – stay on top, monitor the clipboard, clear clipboard on quit, show tooltips, edit a note on double click and others. By default ClipCube keeps 500 clipboard items or notes, this can be changed to 100, 2000 or 6000. This limit applies only to the notes tagged with Clipboard and not others like Scratchpad.

Hotkeys are available at http://zodcode.com/clipcube/manual. A Mac version is in the works and depends on donations.

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Aug 232012
 

anyClipboard (Version: 1.0.2) is a single executable, no install clipboard manager. It is virtually featureless and does one thing only. It helps the user keep copies of all clipboard items in the order they were captured. It captures everything – though one can disable captures by file type – be they files, folders, photos or text (with the promise of more to come).

anyClipboard

The program’s settings are accessed by right clicking the program’s tray icon. Since it copies everything to its data folder, created after first run, it can become large quickly. It does warn if the to be captured file is larger than 10MB and at that point it can be set to not create a copy of files larger than 10MB.

To reuse a past clipboard item highlight it and recopy the preview, however since not all file types, mp3s for example, can be previewed inside anyClipboard it is less useful for media files. In this case one must open the program’s data folder and grab a copy there.

anyClipboard should work on all Windows versions.

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Aug 212012
 

sWeather (Version: 1.3.2) is a simple and attractive tool to check the weather and 5 day forecast for any number of locations. Unzip and configure (Using the Options menu or tray icon right click) the program by entering one or more locations.  Current temperature and 5 day minimum and maximum forecasts are complemented by barometer, humidity, visibility, wind speed, sunrise, sunset, latitude and longitude values.

sWeather

Locations can be found using address, town, zip code, country and even by landmark and street. sWeather looks up the location and uses Yahoo! Weather’s WOEID location identifier. When more than one location is added you can cycle through them using the mouse wheel, Page Up/Down, arrow keys or buttons on the right side of the program window. The F5 key refreshes weather data, F2 opens an expanded view where all the weather information is made available in listview.

The program options include using metric units (viewing the temperature in centigrade instead of fahrenheit among others), toggling the temperature tray icon’s visibility, starting sWeather with Windows, starting it minimized, changing the automated refresh time from the default 60 minutes and using different sets of icons.

sWeather

sWeather is freeware, works on Windows XP and newer and is portable. Don’t forget to click F4 to have some fun with the program. Support questions can be asked on its dedicated DonationCoder thread.

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Aug 192012
 

Umile Encoder (Version: 3.1.4.1) is a freeware multimedia converter. It can convert to (and from) 3gp, avi, mp4 and perhaps more rarely swf. Additionally it supports a multitude of formats specifically for mobile devices. These include the kindle, iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV and similarly various specific Blackberry phones and the Zune too. The supported formats don’t stop there as there is support for sundry of Motorola, HTC, Samsung, Google and many other Android phones. Conversion specific to YouTube, YouTube HD and facebook  – picking the best possible dimensions – is available too.

Umile Encoder

Umile Encoder works in three steps and optionally offers a live preview too. First step is to add file(s), the second is to choose what it calls a profile. In this second step click the Settings button and choose the format to convert to and if needed change other settings too. Finally click Start to convert and open the file in the output folder.

The settings include the aforementioned format choices and the relevant audio and video settings that go with them. The Advanced tab in the settings is where to enable the GPU accelerator (if available) and tweak encoding and the play speed. The screen tab has various options for crop and zoom, aspect ratio, rotation and color. Subtitle offers to customize any available subtitles. Font, size and overlay for example. Use the General to configure the default output folder, enable renaming for the output file(s) and if needed manage Umile Encoder’s CPU usage.

Umile Encoder is surprising complete and easy to use, it works on Windows XP and newer. Do note that it asks to install extras as its own installer is running.

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Aug 152012
 

Grab a copy of BatchMarker available for 24 hours only, see details below

BatchMarker is a simple watermark program, it presents all its options and features together. It can work on one image or batch process a folder of photos and images.

BatchMarker

The steps required to finish protecting image(s) are indicated when the program opens. From the left hand side then to the right hand side all the while seeing a live preview in the center of the program window. A carousel of any other images chosen or within the same folder is available on the bottom as well.

The first step is to add an image or folder of images, BatchMarker will automatically include images in subfolders. Watermark options include the copyright symbol, the registered symbol and the trademark symbol. The symbol can be accompanied by any text (see image). Position and font are fully configurable as is the option to add a ‘background box’ and to make the watermark size proportional or fit to the image. It is also possible to add a text watermark without the symbol with the same configurable options.

Logo or image watermarks are also supported with an opasity (sic) slider. Finally one can add lines to an image too, only a cross or X is available in this case and it is configurable in color, position, thickness and what BatchMarker calls ‘Empty center’ where the center part of the X can be left out.

The image and text watermarks can be dragged  and positioned using the mouse. BatchMarker can also erase any exif metadata, however this is set to stay by default. It can be turned off using the program’s options.

The final options reside on the right side of the program window. A watermark template can be saved for future use, the destination folder can be changed and one can choose to convert all image(s) to jpg or preserve their original format(s)

BatchMarker runs of Windows 2000 and newer and is normally $27.50

Giveaway details:

No support provided.

Updates are not free but the downloaded version can be used indefinitely.

The software must be registered with the giveaway name and code within one month of this date.

Register BatchMarker with the following details:

The giveaway period is now over. Thanks for visiting.

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Aug 132012
 

Grab a copy of PCWinSoft’s ScreenCamera, normally $49.95. Click the link below, fill in your email and details to get the activation key.

ScreenCamera is a program that records the desktop screen and makes it possible to share it live with others. Run the install, accept or deny the extras and the program’s small interface is presented on the screen with all its recording options.

A user can record a section of the desktop, the whole desktop, the area around (and one that follows) the mouse cursor or an ‘exclusive window’. The exclusive window is where the program will continue capturing the chosen a Window even after it is not the active or the topmost one. ScreenCamera can also take snapshot images and it can also work as a normal screen recorder. To record a video to save locally – wmv by default – use the record, pause and stop buttons at the bottom of its interface. The video will be saved in the Videos (My Videos) subfolder of the system’s Documents folder.

ScreenCamera

ScreenCamera is compatible with and works with programs such as Skype, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and others. Arguably the major benefit or feature of the program is that it can be used to show a live feed of desktop activity on any of the aforementioned instant messaging or other webcam broadcasting sites like UStream for example. For example in MSN Messenger’s (see image below) Tools —>Audio and video setup ScreenCamera will be available as a video or webcam option and with it one can broadcast the desktop, desktop and webcam or just the webcam to friends or contacts. The first will of course show your desktop to the person you are chatting with, in this case a webcam is not even required. The second a like picture in picture mode. The last just the webcam itself.

ScreenCamera

The program settings are divided into 5 sections. The Screen section or tab includes options and settings for video Frames Per Seconds and whether or not to include the mouse pointer in captures. The Webcam tab detects any available and connected webcam and lets the user connect to it. Video Output includes the setting for the dimensions of the output video, the default being 640×480, but many bigger and smaller options are available. Snap and Record is the place to choose the snapshot and ‘local’ video recording options. For the former bmp is the default format and the only other is jpg. The latter has wmv as default and only avi as the other option. There are configurable hotkeys for snapshot, record, pause and stop actions and the option to choose different locations for the output. Finally Startup of Windows lets the user choose to start ScreenCamera with Windows of course but also the option to start ScreenCamera ‘invisible’ or minimized.

ScreenCamera works on Windows 2000 and newer.

Giveaway link: http://www.pcwinsoft.com/promotion/rgdot/registration.asp

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Aug 102012
 

PNotes (Version: 9.0.110) is a sticky notes program, while cluttering the desktop with notes is not always the optimal method of keeping reminders and other text PNotes does it well and allows the user to easily hide the sticky notes and maintain a clear the desktop.

PNotes

PNotes’ features are accessible via a right click on its tray icon. To begin one can create a note, loads saved notes, create a note from the contents of the system clipboard or create a diary note. The latter features a configurable date format as its title. All note configuration options are accessible by right clicking inside a note or on its top or bottom section (title and toolbar sections respectively.)

Notes can be favorited and assigned to groups so that they can be managed in batches, for example different colors or different visibility added to a more than one sticky note at a time. Notes can be rolled, unrolled, tagged and linked together as well. They can also include images.

PNotes has extensive preferences, hotkey support and a control panel. The latter is like a central repository to manage the sticky notes. The preferences includes settings for transparency, font and the visibility of the toolbar – which include controls for text color, bullet lists and others – on the sticky note itself. Skin support is complete with width, height, color, padding settings just to name a few. Ready made skins can be downloaded as well.

Sound or note centering (to bring a note to one’s attention) is part of PNotes’ scheduling or reminder feature, a reminder can be added by right clicking on the bottom or top section of the note. Docking is a useful feature to move notes into different sides of the screen and adjust their distance.

PNotes offers extensive number of options in how notes behave and how to interact with the program. Forcing new notes on top, double clicking on the tray icon to create new note, using notes contents as its default name and many more. Protection is another important part of PNotes. Notes can be password protected either individually or as a group, they can be encrypted and automatically backed up. PNotes can also synchronize notes between a USB key and a local machine automatically. Notes can be pushed and pulled to and from a FTP server to be synchronized with local versions. The Misc tab in the preferences has option to launch a web search with a note’s text as the query or to open external programs.

PNotes

PNotes’ control panel shows or previews notes that are in the program’s database. Here one can create notes, change note group icons, launch the built-in back up or synchronization feature, export chosen notes as text files or search inside notes.

Hotkeys can be applied to almost any action. The most important one for this user is the ability to quickly hide or show all notes. Of the many hotkey choices available the show/hide section is probably most useful.

PNotes is available with or without an installer and should work on all Windows versions. Spell checking using the Hunspell library can be downloaded and used, the program as a whole can be password protected as well.

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