Dec 082013
 

list-it

List.it is a no frills notes keeper that resides inside Firefox’s sidebar. It is simple and open source and provides an option to synchronize notes but they are kept locally if the user does not use or ignores the sync option.

Install the add-on and access the sidebar interface via Ctrl+Shift+F. Enter any text and save, access the settings by clicking the gear icon. By default the top line of a note is shown, click the arrow icon to expand all. Click x if a note needs to be deleted and use the garbage can icon to view the dustbin where deleted notes can be restored or permanently deleted. It is possible to edit notes by clicking on them, and search or print them too.

Right click anywhere on a page to bookmark the page in list.it or highlight, right click and copy text to list.it. In the latter list-it will also append the url of the page the text was copied from (see first note in screenshot)

If using the synchronize option click the yellow triangle icon and sign up for their service and install list.it where you need the notes. For security quoting the About and FAQ pages:

List.it is a research project from the Haystack Group at MIT CSAIL by a small team of students led by Prof. David Karger. List.it’s chief designers are electronic Max and Greg Vargas.
List.it is released as free and open source software under the MIT License. The source code is available on our Google Code Project.

With respect to data handling policies, we use strong-grade SSL (AES-256) to encrypt all client server communications (HTTP traffic) and have signed our server with a certificate.

List-it should work on Firefox 3.0 and later.

Dec 032013
 

MediaTab

MediaTab (version:1.2) is a simple freeware that provides information about many media files.  The feature that makes it easier to use is that it integrates with Windows Explorer.

MediaTab is based on the more widely used MediaInfo and instead of being a standalone program all is does is add a tab to the right click menu, that is a new MediaTab tab is added to the Properties window. Formats supported are numerous and include the likes of 3gp, asf, avi,divx, dpg, eac3, evo, f4v, flac, h264, m4a, mks, mkv, mov,mp3, mp4, mpc, mpeg, mpg, ogg, qt, ra, rm, swf, tp, vob, wav, wma and wmv.

The info provided in both text and tree formats is also extensive with the likes (as applicable) of file name, location, release date, duration, codecs, bit rate, resolution, metatags, encoded library and lots more. An advanced setting adds additional information like frame count, stream size, audio profile and others.

The information can be exported into a text or html file or copied to the clipboard in text, bbcode or two kinds of html (table with or without headers) files.

MediaTab runs on XP and newer on both 32bit and 64bit PCs.

Nov 302013
 

Zback

Zback (version: 2.70.0.c2) is a simple but capable backup and sync tool that works over network drives too. The program’s tabbed interface is divided into Simple back, Simple sync, Manual and Batch.

The Simple back is just like a manual no frills back up, one interesting option is the Include source path option that keeps the files’ directory structure in the backup location. For example if backing up C:\Program Files to H:\ the backed up files on H:\ will be in H:\C:\Program Files. This can make it easier when restoring files. Zback starts the restore process with a preview before offering to execute the restore.

Simple sync keeps two folders synchronized with both having the latest version of the files.

Manual is the user controlled, option filled feature of Zback. The available modes are perhaps best described by copying the help file section.

update (backup) – it will copy new files from source to target directory and update to new versions of existing files. This is default mode, it is good for backup files to other disk, external USB drive or a stick. You may also choose to keep old (multiple) versions of backup files.

mirror source to target – target directory will be identical as source (it adds new files to target, updates existing, deletes surplus files and directories from target, overwrites target files even if newer then source). Use this mode only if you are sure that target files may be discarded.

copy all – copies all source files that pass filters to target directory regardless of which is newer

synchronize <> – update bidirectionally (from Source to Target and vice versa). This mode is good for synchronizing home and office computer directories using USB stick.

erase source – erases files from source directory, no copy (useful for erasing temporary files)

backup [date] – copy source files to unique dated target directory (for example to D:\Backup\[2009-12-15_9-37-31]\). This mode is good for making chronological backups. You can make daily, monthly, etc. backups (see Options)

restore < – restore files from Target to Source. It is used to restore files from backup location back to Source directory.

The [mkDir] button creates the target or backup directory if it doesn’t exist. To the right there are filters for file types, directory names, files dates and options to keep old versions instead of overwriting them. There are Preview and Execute buttons here too. Once the settings are chosen it is possible to create a batch file to use in the next, Batch, tab.

Zback

The Batch tab uses a already saved batch file or lets the user write a new one. An example (example.bal) is included. The batch files can look complex and it is a fun exercise to create one by reading the available options or modes. For example v is the key for keeping old versions in the target folder (old files are renamed adding file_Date_Time) and can be used like:

C:\Program Files\*.* > H: /v

The program options include ‘Compare files by content’ that compares content when file name, date and size are equal. This is probably a rarely encountered situation and likely extremely slow.

Zback is Unicode ready, does not pollute the system registry, is portable and works on all Windows versions and in Linux using Wine too.

Nov 282013
 

Save Text To File

Save Text To File is a simple but potentially time saving add-on for Firefox. Saving text for future use and reference is a situation that many encounter. There are countless ways of dealing with and managing things found online. Bookmarking the page, saving the whole page, using ‘read it later’ tools and add-ons or setting up outliners/organizers like CintaNotes to save the text, just to name a few.

Save Text To File is potentially another, it is perhaps minimalistic and simplistic but that is possibly its strength too. It is a No Restart add-on that adds an item to the right click menu. Highlight any text and right click to save it to a text file. The initial setup is as no frills as the add-on itself. The name of the text file and its location is configured as are options to add a line separator, date and time stamp and the url of the page the text is copied from. One can also choose to have separate text files for each use or append every thing to one file. In the screenshot I have checked the ‘Confirm settings’ option, this prompts the user to choose and set options every time the add-on is used. I can see no reason why this would be necessary and would recommend it be unchecked.

Save Text To File

Firefox’s internal bookmark system is just one big mess for anybody who has many bookmarks, I see this as one potential, albeit crude,  addition to it when the option to save urls is used.

Save Text To File works on Firefox 19 and newer with an older version available for older versions.

 

Nov 262013
 

Clipjump

Clipjump is a very capable freeware clipboard manager. It , of course,  holds many clipboard items and does its job without disturbing familiar Windows routines such as Ctrl+C, V and X. It provides a tool tip like confirmation and visual, for example one that confirms that it has copied items.

Clipjump captures all data types, when Ctrl+C is used it captures text, images (through the PrintScreen key) and other data such as Excel cells and when Ctrl+V is used to paste repeated V clicks cycles through clipboard items with a preview so it is very easy to paste any previous items. There is an incognito mode to temporary disable captures, right click tray icon—>Options. Windows+C pops up the clipboard history window to view and work on captured clips. It is possible to ‘fixate’ items to make them stay on top or first in the history and therefore being the first when using paste mode or when clicking Ctrl+V. Clipjump also supports ‘channels’ to keep items separate, the default channel is zero. The channel name in use is shown when Ctrl+V is clicked and channels can be changed by using the up and down arrow keys in the aforementioned paste mode. No Formatting is also a very useful feature and when in paste mode (after clicking Ctrl+V) clicking on the Z key readies the chosen item without formatting.

The Action Mode, activated via the tray icon or Ctrl+Shift+A, provides one click access to program features.

The Class Grab Tool which is supposed to grab Windows classes is also interesting. It allows Windows classes to be added to its settings.ini’s ignoreWindows option so that Clipjump will not be used when items are copied from those programs. Lots more settings are configurable through settings.ini such as windows_copy_shortcut and windows_cut_shortcut that ‘create unique shortcuts in Clipjump to copy/cut data only to System Clipboard and not Clipjump’.

The program settings have a ‘one time stop’ option whose shortcut is configurable which when used bypasses Clipjump for only one time.

The usefulness of Clipjump lies in the fact that it can be used to naturally replace the native Windows clipboard but also really extend it with additional features beyond simply storing multiple items. It is very lightweight, portable and at version 9.8.8 (there are frequent updates) it is very solid.

The online manual and internal help are detailed if not exactly very well organized.

Nov 242013
 

dnGREP

In an earlier review  for FileSearchy commenter smaragdus wondered out loud if there are any utilities that support searching in epub (and fb2) files. Indeed the search for such a tool seems to confirm that it is a rare feature. I stumbled upon dnGREP, however.

dnGREP searches inside most text files and some like pdf  require a plugin which come with the program and reside in the program’s folder. It integrates with the right click menu, can search plain text, Word documents, inside archives and more. It wasn’t clear at first if the latter includes epub files, then I found a support question or feature request that was answered:

You can enable this by modifying C:\Program Files\dnGREP\Plugins\dnGREP.Engines.Archive.plugin file.
Just add epub to the list of extensions.

The result can be seen in the screenshot above. dnGREP provides a a preview and highlights results, supports regular expressions and xpath. The user can also filter the search (icon to the far right of the Search in section) to restrict the search to specific path or type of files. Replace is supported and the >> button to the right of the Replace button provides custom actions such as Copy files, Move files, Delete files and File names to clipboard, Save as CSV and CSV to clipboard to copy the result file names for use elsewhere. The bookmark saves search queries for the future.

The program’s options includes such settings as Show file path in results, Show results tree expanded and Show result lines in context X before and X after.

Version 2.7.1 beta 2 used for this review, version 2.6.3 stable is also available for both 32 and 64 bit systems. Unfortunately, because it is usually better but difficult to avoid, dnGREP requires the .NET framework 4.0. dnGREP can be launched via the command line.

Nov 232013
 

FileSearchy

FileSearchy is a new beta software that searches and indexes Windows drives. It can also search in files including Office and pdf formats and present highlighted results. It features a tabbed interface to keep multiple searches open.

FileSearchy indexes attached drives automatically unless this is unchecked in its options. The program has an Instant mode to show search results as you type but the Advanced mode – wait until Enter is clicked – is the default. Also by default is FileSearchy’s use of a built-in pdf converter that it uses to look in pdf files.

FileSearchy

The program interface is divided into searching for file names with support for substrings, dates, size, case restriction, whole words and regular expressions. There is support for ; to separate words or folders and ! to exclude them. FileSearchy supports a whole set of regular expression patterns to narrow down searches. Searches can be restricted to directories as well. For the In directory and In content options the right most buttons allow the user to exclude folders or words from the search via a pop up window.

FileSearchy runs on Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8. As of this 0.9 beta version I was not able to browse to a folder when using the In directory option, the program would browse to a file instead.

Nov 202013
 

winamp-shutting-down

One of the must downloads of the early days of the internet, Winamp, is shutting down. End of an era for sure.

Personally remember the Windows 98 days of using it and downloading sometimes ugly skins to go with it, it lost its way when it was bought by AOL and became less and less relevant as we entered the cloud era.

Update: Please read the links to petitions and the other good points made by commenter smaragdus http://www.rgdot.com/bl/2013/11/20/end-era-winamp-shutting/comment-page-1/#comment-49138

Nov 202013
 

System Ninja

System Ninja (version: 2.4.4) is a freeware system tool that not only cleans and optimizes but also provides information about the PC.

It includes a Junk Scanner and remover that looks for and cleans cache, history, log, dumps and other temporary or unnecessary files. The system tools section has a Startup Manager, App Uninstaller, Process Manager and additional tools with access to a very limited set of plugins that are currently FileRenamer, Windows Service Manager, FileAnalyzr and Registry Cleaner. The PC Analysis section, like most other system information tools, provides details on the operating system, hard drive, processor, disks, motherboard, bios, memory and network hardware.

System Ninja

System Ninja runs on XP and newer and is available as a portable download as well.

Nov 162013
 

Sisma

Sisma (version: 4.1) is a lightweight freeware password manager that is encrypted using 256-bit AES and is a good alternative to the more popular KeePass and the famous web based LastPass.

It of course features the familiar password grouping and also supports hiding and showing passwords. It also has options to lock the program to prevent edits and can also generate passwords with user set options for number of characters and exclusion or inclusion of lower, upper, digits and symbols.

Sisma can separately copies account title, password or url to the clipboard and can also launch the default browser. Clipboard content can be cleared on program lock, exit or after a number of seconds. There is also a configurable – default is set to less than 8 characters – warning for weak passwords and a setting for a user determined password expiry. In addition to adding notes for each entry the user can also add custom properties. This may be best used for personal reminders(?)

Sisma is available in both portable and installer versions, runs on most Windows versions and requires .Net Framework 2.0+