Nov 112013
 

ImBatch

ImBatch is one of the better rated freeware image editors. As its name and tagline imply it makes it easy to work on a number of images. This latest version 2.0 adds to its power with a folder monitor, what it calls ImageMonitor, and a ContextMenuEditor. These new features can be accessed from the Tools menu. The first makes it easier to automatically work on images added to any chosen folder and the second makes it easy to apply ‘tasks’ or edit images via a right click.

Both of the new features work by reading a .bsv file. The .bsv file is created by adding tasks in the program’s main interface and saving them using the big save button. Then in the  ImageMonitor and/or ContextMenuEditor loading and setting the saved .bsv file.

imbatch2

ImBatch has some of the more common and useful filters and edits for images. These include rotate, resize, shadow, crop, flip, round corners, remove exif, shift time, gaussian blur, 3D effect, watermark, color balance, rename and more.

It supports 100+ image format, some read only, and it has a few command line parameters too. It runs on Windows 2000 and newer.

 

Jan 172013
 

DonationCoder’s NANY (New Apps for the New Year) 2013 is well under way, have a look at a roundup of programs created for the 2013 edition at http://www.donationcoder.com/forum/index.php?topic=33518.0 and consider joining the forum for access to discounts and giveaways too. Read below about one of this year’s entries, the Easy Screencast Recorder.

Easy Screencast Recorder

Easy Screencast Recorder (Version: 1.07.02) from DonationCoder is a simple yet powerful tool to record short videos. It can record the entire screen or specific regions whether they are pre-defined sizes or specific windows that it automatically discovers – and the user confirms by clicking the right Ctrl key.

The program comes with a preview window – which can be toggled on and off – to view the captured video. It also comes with a reasonable number of options and preferences that make it both easy and feature rich at the same time. The preferences include the global hotkey setting to start and stop video captures, F9 by default, and a place to see common region sizes and add one’s own if necessary.

Settings for frame rate, countdown before recording starts, maximum file size before recording is terminated are in the Capture Options. Audio Settings let the user choose the input source and recording format. In my case I was interested in capturing system sounds, a seemingly rarer feature compared to mic, CD or other input sources and ‘Audio Input Line: Stereo Mix’ does that. Video Settings comes with advice for which format to choose and the recommended ASF/WMV9 is accompanied by other choices like FLV, MKV, WebM, Mpeg and others. Most require installed codecs. There are additional options for compression mode and quality which are dependent on the file format chosen. One can also set or change the directory videos are saved in and set a file naming template. The Tweaks and Kludges tab of the options includes additional ‘power user’ options (see image below) and the Operations Log can be set to include debug info in case of problems.

Easy Screencast Recorder

After a video is done Easy Screencast Recorder can copy its path to the clipboard, open it in the default video player or perhaps use one of the other tools that one can add in its list of external tools.

Easy Screencast Recorder integrates automatically into Screenshot Captor. Question about it can be asked at http://www.donationcoder.com/forum/index.php?topic=32759.0

Feb 122012
 

Watch 4 Folder (Version: 2.3 tested) is another freeware and useful utility from Leelu Soft. It is a folder and file monitoring program that can do a bit more.  It supports 12 types of events to monitor, they are File create, File Delete, File Change, File Rename, Association Change, Free Space change, Folder Create, Folder Delete, Folder Rename, Folder Change, Media Insert and Media Remove. After choosing a folder and optionally its subfolders any one or more of the events to monitor can be checked or chosen.

Watch 4 Folder

Watch 4 Folder can execute one of four types of programs when one of the events is triggered.  It support a .vbs, .exe, .bat or .cmd file chosen using the “Execute a program or batch file” field. The “Add changed object as argument” field is available to add an argument to the opened program. This means that, if “File Create – FileName” is selected, and a file is added to the monitored folder it will be opened using the program chosen in the Execute a program field before it.

There are slightly more advanced uses for the argument field. A notable example is the “File Rename – NewFile OldFile” argument. If inside a monitored folder a file is renamed this will create a copy of that file with it’s original name.

Watch 4 Folder has a Live Log tab to view events as they occur and additionally it can save them to a log file. Pop ups and alerts, triggered on events, are also available. Monitoring states can be saved as a configuration file and loaded to be used later. Watch 4 Folder has a command line option to load and run a configurations too.

Watch 4 Folder only requires unzipping and should work on Windows XP and newer.

Dec 282011
 

TheFolderSpy monitors folders so one can check for changes. The Spy in the name may conjure up a hesitation or two and the program doesn’t help the cause by having hidden and incognito modes.  In these modes the program runs in the background. However the hidden and incognito modes don’t really make the program invisible, both leave the program’s icon in the tray area, but notifications are disabled in the latter.

TheFolderSpy

Perhaps the best use for TheFolderSpy is to keep an eye on programs that add folders or files in places like the Documents folder when they are being installed.

Using TheFolderSpy starts with adding an item. Choose the path to the folder – and optionally subfolders – to be monitored, if needed add file type filters and optionally execute a file when a change is detected. Created, changed, deleted or renamed are the file attributes that can be monitored.

TheFolderSpy can be paused, made to save a log or start with Windows. It has a built-in feature to send emails when changes occur. The email feature is ready to use with gmail or any other SMTP server. The subject and content of the emails can also be set within TheFolderSpy.

TheFolderSpy has command line parameter support to configure its modes, log file path and others. The email body has parameters as well. For example *f inserts the file name and *n the date and time of a change (See the accompanying readme.txt for others).

TheFolderSpy is freeware, a single executable file, just over 60KB and runs on XP and newer versions of Windows. It requires .NET Framework 3.5.

May 142011
 

Directory Monitor (Version: 1.0.2.0 as of this post) is a program that keeps an eye on or monitors any number of directories for file additions, changes and deletions. These could be local or directories located on a network. These kinds of programs are very useful because a user can see and know what happens when for example a program is installed or uninstalled. As a more specific example many programs have a habit of creating directories in the My Documents folder and when uninstalling these sometimes cryptically named folders remain. Directory Monitor makes such scenarios more manageable.
Directory Monitor can generate alerts or tool tip balloons when changes occur and can also execute a command when a change happens. .NET Framework required.

Nov 292009
 

Monitor Off Utility is described by its author as

…is a free program that allows you to take control of your monitors built-in energy saving features

Even though all computers and operating systems come with power management features that allow a user to turn off a hard disk or put a computer into standby or hibernate mode it is often more beneficial, sometimes even more reliable, to turn off a monitor via a dedicated third party tool. Monitor Off achieves this energy and money saving task in a light weight and freeware download.


Monitor Off Utility Freeware

This small download, available both as an installer and a stand alone zip file, Monitor Off offers a user configurable method of turning off a monitor or if desired to activate a screensaver. Many combination of keys, like Ctrl+Alt+L, can be configured and a delay in seconds chosen to put any monitor into stand by mode. It is also possible to lock the work station – when in the stand by mode – to protect the computer from prying eyes while one is away.

Monitor Off makes the ever critical issue of power and energy savings just one bit easier and it is therefore worth having the program start with Windows and to have it remain in the system tray. It also supports several command line options that are documented in its Help menu. It requires the .NET Framework 2.0 or later and as of this post works on Windows 98, 2000, ME, XP and Vista.

Nov 262009
 

startupdiscoverer

Startup Discoverer is a simple, portable and no-install tool that displays any program that automatically loads when a Windows computer starts. It categorizes startup entries into one of 19 groups. These 19 groups, such as User Startup, BHO (Browser helper Object) Runs and Winlogon, display either in blue text, meaning the group has programs or applications associated with it, or in black, meaning the group is empty. It is possible to save any or all of the groups’ lists to a text file or to print them.
More features, such as editing or deleting startup items would be welcome but a utility like Startup Discoverer does a good job providing important troubleshooting and useful information at a quick glance.

Aug 032009
 

One of the important ways to keep a system running well is to be aware of the programs that are run or launched when a system is started. The small yet highly useful Startup Control Panel was featured on RGdot earlier this year but another software from the excellent Nirsoft collection deserves a mention as well.

WhatInStartup is described by its author as

This utility displays the list of all applications that are loaded automatically when Windows starts up


WhatInStartup
This 47KB zipped download displays the name of the item that is started. The kind, that is if it is a registry item or a file in the startup folder of the system. And also the version, company name and perhaps most useful the location and the command line used to launched the item.
Two additional features that set apart WhatInStartup is the ability to run the program from another drive and to permanently disable items. The former feature is helpful because WhatInStartup can be used when a Windows system or partition is not working and therefore one can load WhatInStartup from another instance of Windows to check on startup items on the non-working system. The latter feature makes sure that when a user disables a startup item it can not add itself back to the startup list later. This can potentially be extremely useful when a piece of malware insists on reappearing even when deleted. It is also worth noting that the permanent disable feature can be disabled within the program if the user so chooses and as usual with programs from Nirsoft the program comes a with a collection of command line parameters that control many of the behaviours of its programs and in this case includes working with the permanent disable feature.

WhatInStartup works on any system running Windows 2000 and up, including Windows 7.

Apr 172009
 

XP Syspad from the very useful xtort.net site is described by its author as

Windows system monitoring utility that allows easy access to Windows system information and Windows system utilities


XP Syspad

Startup of XP Syspad is on the slower side, especially at first launch as it seems to be collecting relevant info including the running processes list that it present in its main window. Continuous run of the program is not at all memory intensive and it uses well under 10MB of memory. The main attraction of XP Syspad is that it presents over 250 utilities and functions in one central place. Some of the features worth mentioning is easy two click access to such things as the Windows’ HOSTS file, navigating to the Disk Partition Manager, getting an expanded list of recent items opened under My Menus—>Recent, recovering Window’s and Office product keys, finding out the Windows’ installation date and even a dynamic small calender under the ? menu.
Some functions did not work or not as intended on the tested system (Windows XP Pro SP3), for example System—>List Installed
XP Syspad
Drivers and the rather awkward (see image) Network—>Download Internet File. In the former case nothing happened and the latter case google.com’s homepage was the default download and action was taken even when the operation was cancelled.
Also of note is the list of programs installed (Programs—>List Installed Programs) because the list presented included things like Norton that have long been uninstalled.  XP Syspad must be reading the list or components from the registry, where programs such as Norton are notorious for leaving orphan entries, because certainly such entries do not exist in the Add/Remove Programs section of the system’s control panel.

Of most use to not so expert computer users but notwithstanding a few oddities XP Syspad an useful utility overall. Requires Windows 2000 or XP.

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.