Category Archives: Essential Links

Jajuk: Great Free Music Organizer

Well, the topic should have been “Great Free Music Organizer And Much More” since that’s what Jajuk really is. An excellent UI, tons of features, multi platform and free. Perfect. Just look at these screenshots and you’ll get the whole idea.

You may also want to read this interview with the creator of this awesome project.

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Autopatcher: All Windows Updates Bundled

This is a must download for each and every Windows XP user. The number of patches Microsoft released since SP2 is…a lot (I think about 300). It’s just a pain in the back to deal with them each time you re-install your Windows XP. It gets worse if your internet connection is not good enough. 

From time to time, a friend of mine decides to format his/her drive and asks for assistance. Quite often, the only thing that bothers me are those updates.

And here comes the ultimate solution: AutoPatcher.

In short, Autopatcher is a free bundled package which includes all the windows updates (both critical and non-critical) as well as other add-ons like TweakUI and additional components like IE7 or Windows Media Player 11.

After you download Autopatcher you need to extract the files which take some time due to the big download file (around 350MB with all updates and other things). When the installation is complete, you can run AutoPatcher to update the system, and choose to add a desktop and/or start menu icon.

Let me repeat myself about these updates in general. I don’t recommend built-in Windows Update feature. Just dangerous. Never ever install “Windows Genuine Advantage”. It’s a spyware. Period.

Let’s end where we started: This is a must download for each and every Windows XP user.

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Bits ‘n’ Pieces

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of backing up your firefox favorites manually then you should try MozBackup.

Here’s a different online utility: Cliche Finder. Just paste your text and let it find the common cliches in your text.

This free program, SpeQ Mathematics, is not the best of its kind but still quite good. Here are the features copied from the website:

  • Expression calculations with arithmetic, conditional, logical and bitwise operators
  • Around 100 built-in mathematical, physical and conditional constants
  • Around 60 built-in functions for Analysis, Arithmetic, Complex numbers, Hyperbolic, Integers, Probability, Numeral systems, Statistics, Trigonometry
  • Define your own variables and functions for use in calculations
  • Plot fully adaptable graphs, trace the plotted functions, save your graphs
  • Decimal, binary, hexadecimal and octal numeral systems
  • Complex number calculations
  • Colored workarea
  • Save and load sheets
  • Orderly overview of all available functions and constants in the Functionstree
  • A list with all defined variables and functions in the Memorylist
  • Context-sensitive help and a detailed users guide

If you (will) need to know anything about the BIOS then make sure that this site is among your bookmarks: The Definitive BIOS Optimization Guide.

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Bits ‘n’ Pieces

Here’s a good utility for LCD monitor owners. JScreenFix tries to fix the stuck pixels on your monitor. From the site:

A stuck pixel is a bright dot of colour most noticeable when the rest of the screen is black. Stuck pixels are fairly common on high resolution LCD screens. Stuck pixels sometimes start working again with time unless they appear black on a white background, these are known as dead pixels.

JScreenFix will help fix stuck pixels on LCD screens. Most stuck pixels are repaired within 20 minutes. Some users have reported that JScreenFix can even fix dead pixels!

Unlike other solutions, JScreenFix works on each colour component individually in an un-coordinated fashion. By random on-off cycles at up to 60 times a second, pixels are fixed through resonance and repetition. This is more effective at repairing stuck pixels and is less stressful on the screen’s power supply circuitry.”

tbcalcscreen.jpgIf you need to use that small calculator proggie from time to time but think it’s too time consuming to browse through Start – All Programs… and too lazy to put a shortcut on the desktop then have a look at Taskbar Calculator.

It’d be a good idea to print a copy of Firefox Cheat Sheet and have it next to your computer till you learn those time saving keyboard shortcuts.

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Few Online Utilities

OneLook Dictionary is awesome. Apart from searching many online dictionaries simultaneously it also gives you the power to include wild characters and other useful functions in your searches.

I find this online spell checker quite handy. True, many applications has this function already but then why I need to use it so often?

Here’s good site where you can test your Java Scripts live.

And this site, Preview Regular Expressions, let’s you play with regular expressions live.

City Distance Tool does exactly what the name implies. I needed it at least twice during last summer.

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My Favorite Freeware Utilities (1)

I’ve decided to list some of my favorite free utilities. My motivation was that I often see lots of people either unaware of the many goodies which would make their life a whole lot easier. I don’t claim that they are all relatively unknown so please excuse me if you already use most of them. Here I go:

Security

In this age of information security is everything. If your choice is using a free anti-virus software then AVG Free Anti Virus maybe for you. Actually, anything is better than Norton. I’m going to repeat this over and over again until the guys at Symantec do something about their security softwares sucking system resources like nothing I know of.

As to spyware and trojans Lavasoft Ad -Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy is enough for most of your needs. I’m not saying that they are perfect but they are just not any worse than those commercial correspondents.

Browser

Mozilla Firefox or Opera. Period. Don’t use Internet Explorer unless for some reason you must. If you think that you need a download manager here’s an excellent one, once commercial but now free, Flashget.

System Utilities

About every week (at worst every month) you are better of to erase your private data and other chunks came from/with internet. Use CCleaner. Easy to use and does the required job good.

From time to time you want to move/delete a file or folder and you get a message saying that you cannot because some other program is probably using it. Usually you have no idea what that other program is. Well, now you will know. Just download this wonderful little utility, Who Lock Me, and stop the hassle. Alternatively, you can also try another equally good application called Unlocker.

You download and try whatever you come across and then naturally uninstall at least half them? Good, but all those proggies usually leave some traces behind them. The applications own uninstall feature or Windows Add-Remove function is less than perfect. What you need is an utility that will monitor the installation process, take snapshots of the registry right before and after the installation and thereby uninstall the program as it should be should you wish so. Just ignore all those expensive commercials and download ZSoft Uninstaller.

Speaking of registry, it’s good to have a registry cleaner. If you you do everything else in an organized way you hopefully will not need this type of tool but still. At the very least your registry may get fat due to many files pointing nowhere and similar issues. There are literally hundreds of applications wondering around. Expectedly, some of them are freeware and not worse than the commercials in any sense. If you already have a registry cleaner that you’re happy with that’s just all right. Otherwise have a look at Advanced Windows Care. Apart from being a registry cleaner it also optimizes the system and all that. Remember! Always back-up your registry before performing any actions on it. By the way, if you need a registry editor, check out Registrar Lite.

For handling your Windows processes you need nothing but WITS.

You may find these two file management programs quite handy, both from the same company: Renamer and ReplaceEm. From the site:

When specifying which files to be included in a particular replace operation, you can add one file at a time, or you can tell ReplaceEm to use all the files from a particular folder — or the files from that folder that match a given file filter (such as *.txt or *.html). You can even specify to include all files that don’t match a particular filter. Additionally, you can decide to include the files from all subfolders of that folder.

One very powerful feature of ReplaceEm is that you can specify that the destination of the altered file be some other location than where it originally came from. This is handy, for instance, if you want to have some search-replace operations performed on a particular file and have it saved to a destination file, and then want to have different search-replace operations performed on the same file, and have it saved to a different location.

Another powerful ability of ReplaceEm is to make use of regular expression search-replace operations, as well as range search-replace operations. These are, in fact, so powerful and complex that most users will probably not need to mess around with them. They are, however, vital in certain situations, and turn ReplaceEm into a much more intelligent text processor.

Renamer is a command-line utility that allows you to perform mass renaming of files based on a UNIX-style regular expression.

You’ve probably come across one of those disrespectful applications. By disrespectful I mean they behave in a manner that they prefer and even dare to over ride your orders. A common example is those programs that put themselves in Start-up group and start with Windows. You tweak the start-up items but no they find a way to get there again. Therefore, you need a start-up manager. This utility called Starter is just perfect. Alternatively you can try out Startup Run which is almost equally good.

For managing your files and folders (instead of that don’t-know-how-to-label-windows explorer) check out Gyulas Navigator. Free, light, does the job almost perfect. For your navigation purposes my new toy menuApp is a must.

If you think that you have less than enough RAM you may need an optimizer. Here’s a tool I’ve used for years FreeRAM XP Pro.

Miscellaneous

You find Windows Media Player less than perfect, no surprise there. First you need a good codec pack. There are many. I use K-Lite Codec Pack. It includes almost every kind of codec you may ever need as well as some other goodies such as a wonderful movie player. My alternative choice for movie players are VLC media player and Viplay. For your audio needs the choice is clear: Foobar2000.

Well, until another freeware run that’s all for now.

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Optical Illusions

optical.jpg

I’m sure you’ve come across one of these optical illusions. On the image above the orange square (on the dark front side) and the brown square on the top are actually the same color. Hard to believe but true. For non-believers there are many ways to validate it. You can download a free color picker and read the values from the screen. You can cut those pieces with the help of an ordinary image editor, put on plain background and see or just print it, cut those portions and compare.

I’ve recently come across this flash based site, eChalk, that includes many of those optical illusions. They actually have a mask utility which can do the job of separating the necessary bits from the rest and make you see the truth.

Having opened the subject why not include some more sites.

Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena: Excellent site on optical illusions. Also included is the theory behind these illusions. A must see.

Akiyoshi’s Illusion Pages: Includes some new illusions.

Mighty Optical Illusions: There are some really interesting stuff here.

Optical Illusions: Worth a visit. You may come across something new.

Grand Illusions: Good site. Be sure to check out the Dragon Illusion; just fantastic (make sure to download the demo).

Color Vision & Art: Excellent site. Lots of information on color and the theory behind it. If you check out the whole site you’ll know the real reason behind many of those illusions. They’ve included many online sliders to make things clearer. Don’t forget to check out Claude Monet’s Impression Sunrise.

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