Aug 242014
 

linuxhome

The idea that Linux is to be an alternative to Windows for the desktop is mentioned every so often. It is said that an average user can cut ties with Microsoft for good and plunge into the world of Linux at home. This has been the subject of 1000s of articles and tutorials. Times have changed and it is of course much easier to get (download) Linux iso files, burn them to a CD and try or install one of many Linux distributions. The old geeky days of command line installs and indecipherable screens are mostly behind us. Once installed there are also many good software that are very good alternatives to Windows equivalents, the exception being Microsoft Office alternatives that are often headaches in the opinion of yours truly. The biggest or most important reasons the title of this article has “Not” and “Never” in it is that there are two important failures when it comes to daily Linux use. These two deeply effect a so called newbie and even an above average user.

The first is wireless internet performance. This post is not delving into that issue – hint: maybe your laptop happens to have a ‘good’ chipset, may be not – and it is suffice to say that Google queries like “linux wireless not working” return millions of results.

The second is the issue of updates. In this case for Linux Mint or Ubuntu. It is important to note that the latter is often cited as the most user friendly of Linux distributions. To get software and other applicable updates the Update Manager monitors the computer and presents a list of available updates. The user sees notifications and can proceed anytime, when the Update Manger is opened a list is either fetched or just there. Let’s say users are updating Mint 13 LTS and decide to refresh the list in the Update Manager, they notice that the list is taking a long time to load. After they do load they are accompanied by a number of errors similar to:

‘Failed to fetch http://packages.medibuntu.org/dists/precise/Release.gpg Something wicked happened resolving ‘packages.medibuntu.org:http’ (-5 – No address associated with hostname)

After searching, try it  it is not very easy to find the explanation, one arrives at posts like http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=2469 that announce that the update repository (packages.medibuntu.org in this case) is no longer maintained and show how to avoid the errors in the future. The announcement doesn’t even offer a clear alternative so users are entitled to wonder if they can get the updates previously offered via medibuntu without further action after removing it from the software sources list.  Other user to user support forums answer with lines like:

What this means? That you should remove the repositories from your sources.list to prevent errors and look for the packages you needed somewhere else or stick with the old ones that you have installed.

Of course this is just a single user replying to a question but to be in this state long after Windows 8 and years and more than a decade after fiascos like Windows Vista and ME is a failure in providing an alternative. Linux is a good thing, a very good thing, but it is not ready for mass home adaption and if it isn’t now it is perhaps never going to be.

Please follow and like us:
Feb 222013
 

Simple Sticky Notes (Version: 2.0.0.0) is a freeware and lightweight desktop sticky notes program.

Simple Sticky Notes

Double click its tray icon to create a new note. Double click in a note’s title area to roll it up, resize using its corner and hide it using the x button. The arrow button provides access to notes features such color, opacity, title edit (F2), share (on Facebook, twitter or via email), alarm, print, delete, minimize, and always on top. The Alt+N keys are another way to create new notes and there are several other shortcuts to work with and format text like bold (Ctrl+B), bullet list (Ctrl+Shift+L), double line space (Ctrl+2), Insert date and time (Ctrl+D) and others. Right clicking a highlighted text offers the same formatting options plus a search using google one.

Simple Sticky Notes’ settings include options to show notes on program startup, changing the default new note appearance, configuring hotkeys which include interesting ones such Go to next note (Alt+G) and New note from clipboard (Alt+V), choosing a sound for the alarm, picking from one of 11 languages and importing, restoring, backing up and if required changing the default database location.

Simple Sticky Notes runs on Windows XP and newer, including Windows 8.

Please follow and like us:
Feb 012013
 

7 Sticky Notes (Version: 1.9.0) is an attractive, feature rich freeware desktop sticky notes program. When installing there is an option to run and use it in portable mode but it requires registering 3 files – ExTVwU.ocx, ExLVwU.ocx and EditCtlsU.ocx with the system – for it to work, this is done automatically if one chooses to proceed.

7 Sticky Notes

When first launched 7 Sticky Notes starts with a large note with an attached window to configure and customize it. Sticky notes like the default one and others can be customized with rich text features, background colors and transparency. There is also recurring alarms but also a sleep mode. The sleep mode lets the user hide a note for a set period or at a particular time and set an action too. It can shutdown, restart, log off, open a file (click the ‘Pick’ button and drag the mouse to a program window and 7 Sticky Notes will automatically enter it in the Action text field) or a command executed (anything that can be entered in Windows’ Run dialog).

7 Sticky Notes has configurable hotkeys for creating new sticky notes, showing notes, hiding notes, switching desktops (see below for more) and opening its Notes Manager. Notes can be hidden and shown by clicking on the program’s tray icon as well.  It also features rollup and roll down, automatic sizing, note arrangements, file and image attachments (see below for more), themes, passwords for various actions such as opening the Notes Manager, unlocking notes, changing the program options and opening the program itself. There is also a restricted mode which locks all options and makes 7 Sticky Notes act like a static desktop. There is a backup feature and an online synchronization tool that works with DropBox, SkyDrive, Google Drive, SugarSync and basically any other service that syncs files. A full explanation is available at http://www.7stickynotes.com/help/onlinesync_whatis.php

The file attachments feature has two modes. When a file is dragged over a sticky note an Attach pad becomes visible and a shortcut can be created to the file but also if the file is dropped into the Attach pad while holding down the Ctrl key it is added to the database and becomes part of it and is no longer just an external shortcut.

7 Sticky Notes

7 Sticky Notes has a notes manager where lots more than simple edits can be done to the notes. Notes can be imported, exported to files, locked, hidden, duplicated, searched, printed, copied, recycled and more.

Others features different or unique to 7 Sticky Notes are multiple desktops, a desktop switcher and the Drop pad. Notes can be grouped and shown as desktops. Desktops are therefore basically categories or groups. Many desktops can be created, ordered, one chosen as the initial one or all shown together. Hotkeys and visual effects for switching between them are available in the program Options. The Drop pad to the right of the Notes Manager window is a sort of favorites area where sticky notes can be dropped into and batch operations such as search, print and move performed on them.

7 Sticky Notes

7 Sticky Notes deserves to be called impressive and should be highly rated. It runs on Windows 2000 and newer.

Please follow and like us:
Jan 282013
 

GloboNote (Version: 1.3) is a sticky notes program that is based on Java and therefore multi-platform. It doesn’t require installation and adds a few features to make it a bit more than a simple collection of sticky notes.

GloboNote

Right click or double click the tray icon to create new sticky notes, the sticky note will use the current time as its title but the title can be changed with a double click on the title area – and requires the Enter key for the change to take effect. A single click on the title area rolls up the note up to minimize it.

Right click within any note to access its features and customizations. The features include the ability to assign a note to a (recurring) alarm and reminder.  GloboNote also features some basic rich text options plus image and file attachments. Images and files can be local or web based and the web based can be saved locally if required. Notes can be assigned to groups and be in hidden, parked or visible states per group, individually or altogether. Parked status doesn’t seem to be different than any other user created group, they are probably meant as a temporary or already available group. There is a built-in calculator that will work when mathematical calculations are entered followed by the F2 key. Notes can be printed and exported into txt files. Each note can be individually colored as well using its own Prefereces (sic).

An import option is listed when right clicking within a note but it seems to be missing as of this version. A look at the program preferences reveals more empty areas, perhaps reserved for future versions (The Security and Keys & Sounds tabs are two currently unavailable sections in the preferences). Other preferences include options to detect links, highlight the active note, change look and feel of the program much other Java based programs, change the date format, change the default note appearance, not use the time/date as the default note title and more.

GloboNote

Using the advanced tab of the preferences it is possible to change the location of the notes ‘repository’ to perhaps move it to the program’s own folder instead of burying it in system’s AppData folder. GloboNote works on any system that has Java 6 or higher installed.

Please follow and like us:
Nov 112012
 

Wolfcoders ScreenSnag is an attractive freeware screenshot grabber.

Wolfcoders ScreenSnag

Wolfcoders ScreenSnag works by enabling or disabling a number of options via its window and then proceeding to capture. The first option is to choose the ‘Input’. Here choose one of capture window, full screen or area. The corresponding properties button is for choosing a transparency – current or clean – for the capture. The ‘Output’ is a choice between a file and the clipboard. The file option has properties for choosing the file format – png, bmp or jpg – file name and quality.

More options are available to customize the screenshot. Caption is like watermark and includes automatic text in computer name, user name, date and time. Colors and transparency for the same text as well. The caption or watermark can be placed outside or inside the screenshot.

Border and scale customize the size of the output further. The cursor can be visible or not. Timer adds a delay to complete the capture. Sound – to remind that the capture is complete – can be turned off and ScreenSnag can automatically open the capture in the default image viewer or editor.

Wolfcoders ScreenSnag

The Storage button opens the output folder and the Capture button does the actual task of grabbing the screenshot.

The program’s settings (the button to the left of  minimize) includes starting the program with the system and enabling global hotkeys, among others. The hotkeys are limited and are not configurable however (see image.)

ScreenSnag runs on XP or newer.

Please follow and like us:
Oct 292012
 

Desktop iCalendar Lite (Version: 1.9.6.1) is a small calendar and to do program that sits on the desktop. Its lite version features to do and event lists besides its configurable calendar. It supports multiple calendars so one can have public holidays, personal calendar (including iCalendar support) and public google calendar displayed together.

Desktop iCalendar Lite

Using the plus buttons – visible when hovering over their respective windows or sections –  one can add events and to do items. Events can have summary, description, date range, category (icon), alarm and recurrence. To do items can have summary, description, start and due dates, category and reminder. Calendar days with events are shown in a different color. Hovering over a day with an event offers a tool tip style summary of the event and clicking on a day with one shows the text associated with the event inside the events docked window.

Several themes are available. Font, color, background and transparency of each can be configured to make it more individual. The to do and events windows can be turned off in the program’s settings.

Desktop iCalendar Lite should run on Windows XP and newer. Note that while testing it I noticed that it was trying to sync – the tray icon would change – when there shouldn’t be anything to sync with. Using the tray icon menu —> Calendars I turned off all calendars except the local one created for testing but it seemed to try to want to sync.

Please follow and like us:
Nov 042010
 

SE-DesktopConstructor

SE-DesktopConstructor is a simple no-install tool that help you customize your desktop and add a few extras to it.

SE-DesktopConstructor lets you to change your wallpaper in minute to day increments. A wallpaper folder comes with the program where one can use the default pictures or gradients that come with SE-DesktopConstructor, add one’s own pictures to that folder or just use another folder altogether. There is a color fader available to play around with the wallpaper and for example to make it seem brighter or dimmer in different regions. Using paint shapes one can add shapes (ellipse, rectangle or round rectangle) with customizable colors and borders to the wallpaper itself so as to create a virtual desktop area where a number of icons may be grouped together.

SE-DesktopConstructor also features a set of clocks and calendars in different shapes and formats which can be positioned anywhere on the desktop with their own customizable colors and fonts.

SE-DesktopConstructor is an attractive addition to a PC and runs on Windows 2000 and all later versions, it is also portable.

Please follow and like us:
Aug 032010
 


neoSearch is a lightweight, 531KB download, option in the array of computer search utilities. Upon launch it takes a minute or more, depending on system size, to index the drive(s) so that it can present search results almost instantaneously. With neoSearch search results are presented and updated in real time when the user starts typing.

neoSearch’s options include adding system folders to it’s indexing, because it ignores those folders by default, including and excluding any number of folders from it’s indexing and therefore its search results and a scheduler for future indexing which includes a ‘manual’ option.

neoSearch suffers from a few drawbacks that are all by design, they are:

The program delays its own launch, when first opened and not when already running in the background, by asking for an update check and somewhat bizarrely makes the user wait five seconds if the update check is refused.
The program’s executable is placed in the system’s Application Data folder (alongside its index database) and so the program has no presence in the Program Files folder.
Only the first six search results are presented immediately and there is no scrolling to see additional results. An extra click (pressing Enter or on the magnifying glass icon) is required to open the full search results in a new window.

neoSearch is capable of indexing shared folders over a network, supports wildcards and works on Windows XP, 2003, Vista, 2008 and 7.

Please follow and like us:
Jun 052010
 

Nimi Places is described by its author as

Simple way to organize and keep important folders on desktop

Nimi Places does things a bit differently, in practice or in theory an empty desktop devoid of any icons would use Nimi Places to assign movable or drag-able regions of it to important or often used folders. In other words Nimi Places creates opaque or transparent areas or windows where the contents of a folder will remain or become visible when needed. Nimi Places is, in a way, creating visual and somewhat workable shortcuts to folders while at the same time keeping the desktop clean.
After running the program and left clicking the tray icon one can add places by clicking the + sign and choosing folders to create places for. Nimi Places allows most normal file operation inside these ‘places’. Copy and pasting and renaming file to name two. However it seems none of moving or dragging and dropping work or are buggy, indeed a few of the other operations listed on the Nimi Places page are not available or unworkable in the version I downloaded.
Nimi Places is lightweight and very interesting. At its most basic it does a good job creating a new desktop experience. It is, however missing help or a clear explanation (perhaps there is a pro-version?) and even its “HD streamed video clip” – available on the home page linked at the beginning of this post – shows features that are not available or not possible to do on an XP machine.

Please follow and like us:
May 122010
 

Krento is described by its author as

Krento is an application manager and widget engine for Microsoft Windows

Krento is a lightweight launcher that is not too unlike Radian featured earlier here. Upon installation a circular set of ‘stones’ and a ‘pulsar’ appear on the desktop (see image above). The pulsar which fades into the desktop if the mouse is away from it offers one way to activate the stones or the main interface of Krento. By right clicking on each segment or stone of the program it can be changed to one of the pre-configured settings like the ability to show, in the center of the program interface, the current time, IP address or to shut down the computer. Alternatively stones can be configured to open programs with command line parameter support. Win+C is the default keyboard method of opening the program, this and other settings, for example to activate Krento via the mouse, are available in the program’s option (right click the tray icon). Using the Ctrl key with any one of F1 to F12 keys is the keyboard method of opening each of the 12 stone targets (the stones are numbered as seen in the image above).

Krento supports and includes many skins and is compatible with Rocket Dock and Object Dock skins as well, as explained here. One point to note is that as with any program with mouse and keyboard shortcuts this can interfere with other programs’ settings but since the defaults can change Krento of course remains useful.

Krento requires the .Net Framework (2.0) and works with Windows XP, Vista and 7.

Please follow and like us:
Facebook IconTwitter IconGoogle+Google+