Feb 052012
 

Commands in Demand provides a collection of tools and shortcuts to make it a centralized all purpose utility.

Commands in Demand

Of note is that every time the program starts there is an error that it is “unable to add hot key Ctrl+Alt+S” (see image), in its help file this hot key combination is described as:

…always reads the Clipboard contents (from any of its section you are working with, and even if its window is not visible), by pressing the Ctrl+Alt+S keys’ combination from your keyboard

Going down the program’s sections Commands in Demand includes the following:

It can kill unrepsonsive or other tasks, remove idle processes, copy text from any system error message, restart Windows Explorer, open task manager and kill a print job.

Next is a section to manage Windows Explorer with buttons to open subfolders, go one level up or deeper, minimize or restore windows, keep the active window on top, resize the active window, add transparency to it and more.

A Clipboard section that can read clipboard items, save them to a text file among others.

A multi-page Desktop section to show or hide desktop icons, use a screen magnifier, an on screen keyboard, capture active or other areas of the screen and gain access to Windows 7’s GodMode control panel.

The Devices section has shortcuts to Device Manager, open and close optical drives and safely remove USB.

Files and Folder has a text file joiner, hash checksum calculator, a list alphabetizer tool ( that can import text files or work with manually entered  text) and a few more shortcuts.

Graphics has a color picker, EXIF viewer and image convertor.

Icons can extract icons from files, hide and show desktop icons and refresh them too.

Internet has the shortcut to a translator, HOST file editor and additionally a shortcut to Google and Neave flash maps and another to search using any of 12 search engines.

Memory and CPU has live CPU and memory usage meters and an ‘Instant memory cleaner’ button.

Miscellaneous features a calendar that can calculate days between dates and a few ‘stress killing’ games.

Network has the shortcut to the Network Connections window and a tool to create Network and TCP/IP statistics reports.

System is another multipage section with shortcuts to the command prompt (normal and colored console), system folders plus an operating system ID report with common info like version, processor type, Windows product ID and more.

SysTray can mute/unmute sound, hide/show clock and a few others.

Taskbar can add transparency to the task bar and hide/show it.

Text and Editing has the join files and online translation shortcuts and two potentially useful tools to separately convert Unicode and ASCII texts between upper and lower case.

Windows Applications is simply a collection of shortcuts to things like Regedit, Task Scheduler, Character Map and others.

The Shutdown Panel has the reboot, standby, logoff , hibernate, shutdown and monitor off buttons.

Commands in Demand

The Tools of Mine section is basically a launcher where the user can add any shortcut and run it (see image above).

Commands in Demand (Version: 12.2 tested) is freeware, one zip file that doesn’t require installation and should run on Windows XP and newer.

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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.

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Nov 192009
 

Radian is described by its author as

Radian is a simple radial application launcher


Radian

When Radian is launched it starts with what it calls design mode, which is also accessible any time by right clicking or double clicking its system tray icon. This startup briefly slows the system while the program searches and indexes its pre-configured shortcuts, described below. In design mode Radian’s circular or radial interface is divided into 4 quadrants (see image). Each quadrant can be configured, using its corresponding wheel icon residing near the center of the circle, to hold chosen shortcuts and their respective icons. Three of the four quadrants are pre-configured to show desktop items, quick launch items and the recent documents entries. The fourth quadrant is called custom and any file or shortcut can be dragged to any of its regions. Right clicking on any of the individual regions also allows for the creation of custom shortcuts.

After design mode is done Radian stays in the tray and can be activated by clicking and holding down the right click button any where on the screen. Then the second, third or  fourth quadrants can then be made visible by moving the mouse in a circular fashion while still holding down the right click button.

Radian is one launcher that certainly needs getting used to but it is a different and original looking download.

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StartUp Is A Launcher…And An AppManager?

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Nov 102009
 

StartUp is described by its author as

WPF tool to help you launch your programs easily.

To start off the developer page does not mention the name ‘StartUp’. The only place this program’s name is visible is in the solitary screenshot. One can easily confuse its name to be ‘AppManager’ as that is the domain URL and also the title of page. That minor quibble aside, on to the program itself.


StartUp

Upon installation StartUp looks up or indexes the system’s start menu, quick launch and recent documents entries and presents them in a rectangular interface (see image) and also groups them into areas. Right clicking anywhere on the program window or clicking the + icon one can create groups for additional shortcuts. The program supports dragging and dropping shortcuts, executables or almost any file to create links to them. It is also possible to drag a file over a program icon, while holding the Alt key, to force the file to be opened with that particular program.
The program is minimized to the system tray using its X or close icon or by just pressing the Esc key. By default the program window can be maximized by using the Alt and ~ keys or by what it calls “mouse activation”. To activate the program using the mouse single click the top left hand edge of the screen. This activation feature can be turned off using the program’s preferences.
Perhaps the best part of StartUp is the integrated search feature. Click anywhere on the program interface and just start typing, a search box narrows your choices as you type (see image).
StartUp requires, at a minimum, the .NET 3.0 framework and is a 164KB download. It is released under the Microsoft Public License.

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Speed Launch From Microsoft Office Labs Is An Interesting Launcher

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Sep 302009
 

Speed Launch is created by Microsoft’s Office Labs. The office labs is one experimental arm of Microsoft that is sometimes not too busy on the public side and develops products that one may not necessarily associate with the company. Speed Launch is perhaps one such example and is a program that has many other freeware equivalents.
Speed Launch

Upon installation Speed Launch places a bulls eye looking icon on the desktop that stays on top of all windows but dims to stay as unobtrusive as possible. Using the win + c keys the program pops up a set of what it calls functions. The set of built-in functions can be activated by clicking on them. They allow for such things as searching for weather forecasts and wikipedia pages.
Being a launcher Speed Launch has an interesting way to make routine tasks easier. Dragging and dropping any shortcut, file or site favicon into the bulls eye allows the user to associate an intuitive keyword with it and to later use it to open the same program, document or website. Keywords can also be added manually via the program’s ‘Add Shortcuts’ menu (by right clicking on the bulls eye).
Speed Launch also supports more advanced functions. These are the equivalent of launching a program or website – that has a shortcut created in Speed Launch – with parameters. One example used in the video on the program’s website shows how by choosing a keyword followed by “.” (dot without quotes) one can make a function that loads a map of a certain location without the need to enter the map’s homepage and then typing the desired location. It is therefore and like any other program launcher a way to save time and key strokes. Another interesting feature built-in is what is called the MegaSearch. Typing megaseach. and a search term launches the query in bing.com, yahoo.com and google.com. Again something not readily associated with Microsoft of the past.
Office Labs calls Speed Launch a ‘prototype’ and requires the user to allow anonymous usage feedback, however I am not certain if this program is being very actively developed as it is termed a grassroots project that is a ‘direct result of employee initiative’.

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Jun 222009
 

Nexus, from the makers of the Winstep desktop enhancement package, is a standalone dock launcher that is otherwise also part of the aforementioned shareware package. This is a true dock in competition with RocketDock and ObjectDock. It is attractive but lightweight and fast.

Going through the settings or preferences, accessible most easily by right clicking the Nexus icon that is part of the default dock or by right clicking on the tray icon itself, is the way to discover its many features. Adding program shortcuts to the dock is done in two ways. The more difficult way is to right click anywhere on the dock and choose ‘Insert New Dock Item’. Doing it this way requires choosing a label, finding the item or program by browsing and more. The slightly easier way is to drag the program’s icon to the dock where it can be added automatically. In both cases a hot key can be added by choosing combinations of Ctrl, Shift and Alt keys or mouse actions or gestures such as ‘bumping’ corners of the screen.


Nexus

Getting back to the program’s options and preferences, there are many possibilities for making an attractive and useful dock. The Position & Behavior tab has settings for the screen position of the dock, offset pixels from any of the set (top, center, etc.) positions, behavior relating to multi-monitor set ups, auto hide options and whether the dock reserves its place on screen or allows windows to open on top of it or permanently stays on top. The Appearance tab controls the size of the dock icons and transparency and reflection of the dock and icons respectively. The Effects tab is the place to change the effects (obviously) of the icons when they are clicked. Themes is where the shape of the dock as a whole is chosen and the default install includes choices that make its background transparent. Tasks, among others, has such settings as ‘Show running applications in this dock’ and ‘Would you like to group windows that belong to the same application in a single icon or next to each other?’. Therefore the tasks setting can dramatically increase the size of the dock but provide easy access to all open windows. Sounds adds sounds (obviously again) to many and all actions associated with the program including a talking clock. The General tab is to control such things as the auto-hide settings, Windows Start up behavior and others such as leaving the program icon in the tray area and whether to launch programs within the dock with a single or double click. Advanced tries to help the user in balancing performance and speed, troubleshoot, back up and restore dock configurations and more.

As seen in the image I have added the stacks from Standalonestack, featured here on RGdot, on to the Nexus dock. In my opinion this works well in terms of efficiency, productivity and even eye candy.

Nexus runs on virtually all versions of Windows including its 64 bit flavors and Windows 7.

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Jun 202009
 

StandaloneStack is an attractive and useful way of accessing files and folders from any location.

StandaloneStack

The main use of StandaloneStack is to place a shortcut of sorts on the desktop that acts as a launcher. Only in this case StandaloneStack as it is is not a dock like ObjectDock from StarDock or perhaps the more famous RocketDock. Here a ‘stack’ is created and provides some eye candy and navigation without a dock.

Once downloaded and unzipped one can create a new stack by simply clicking ‘New Stack’. Choose a name and browse to the folder which will be the target of the stack and opened when clicking on the stack icon. Then choose it’s shape and direction. The shape can be in the form of accordion like collection of icons or a rectangular grid (as shown in the image). The sorting can be set here as well plus the option to add an icon to open the folder in the usual way via Windows Explorer.

StandaloneStack

Some of the more interesting ‘General Settings’ consist of the following. It is possible to animate video icons, meaning that if a video resides in one of the stacked folders the icon will be dynamic and change. Custom icons are supported when checking the corresponding option and placing the icons or images in the Images folder inside the program folder. By checking the option to ‘Don’t Close Stack On Focus Lost (Run Shortcut Again To close)’ one can keep the stack open since by default the stack collapses after losing focus like when a file is launched. Icon size, text spacing, color and font are configurable for the fan or accordion and grid styles as well as the transparency and color of the text and stack background itself.

But perhaps most importantly is the fact that one can navigate within stacks. Clicking on a folder opens the sub folder using the same stack style with an additional icon to go back.

Follow its development on the Aqua-Soft forums where you can find many interesting utilities and related discussions.

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Appetizer Is Food For Your Application Launching Needs

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May 212009
 

Appetizer is described by its author as

…a free application launcher, or dock, for Windows

Appetizer is an open source entry in the application launcher list that includes the likes of 8Start, reviewed here previously, LaunchBar Commander from DonationCoder and many others. It is available in an executable and ZIP package portable. It also supports skins and plugins.

Appetizer

Appetizer, as it stands now at version1.3, keeps it simple. The first step in using it can be importing Start Menu and Quick Launch shortcuts using a special importer. Alternatively one can click on the + button (see image, showing Appetizer using the iAppetizer skin) or drag and drop program icons into the dock to create shortcut items manually. By right clicking shortcuts one can change the display name of the shortcut, change its path and icon and add special parameters that control how the application is launched. In addition to the aforementioned shortcuts can be added to ‘multi-launch’ groups. A multi-launch is often useful when one wants to open several portable applications (non-portable ones too) by clicking one single button. Here, using Appetizer, one can add many shortcuts to a group and open several applications simultaneously.

The configuration menu of Appetizer lets the user do the following: choose its language (18 available as of this review), keep the app on top, check for updates, change its skin, its orientation (vertical or horizontal), its icon size, its transparency, auto hide it after an application launch, run multi-launch groups on start up, add a hot key to hide/show the dock and enable/disable plugins. One of the useful included plugins is the one that opens the folder where the application being launched resides in. Once enabled a plugin becomes accessible via a right click on any of the shortcuts.
Appetizer is a very promising relatively new software and runs on Windows 2000, XP and Vista.

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Dec 232008
 

8start is decribed by its author as

A free Application Launcher to make your desktop clean, with Tree Notes feature to keep and share your notes fast and easy. Portable, skinable, customizable, innovation…

Using it you can keep notes in trees with additional features recently added like tree shortcuts and favorites. One can customize skins and backgrounds or download a few more available on the developer’s forum. Most importantly one can make rows and rows of shortcuts to launch application, documents and sites and divide them all into categories. On a XP system tested and used for months it has never surpassed 10MB usage and can be made portable as well. The tiny graph to monitor drive space is a useful little tool too.

Take a look at screenshots and a more thorough explanation of 8start’s features. It is free for any use and can be downloaded from here

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