Launcy Open Source Launcher

Launchy is a great open source, free to use, launch and index application.

It’s primary use is to serve as an alternative replacement for Windows ‘Start’ menu. It offers many features such as customization as far as it’s usability, skins, and also has the functionality of plug-ins. You can select the files to be included in Launchy’s index, whether it be just your start menu icons, or every file on your computer. It has the ability to filter directories, subdirectories, file types(extensions), etc.

The program by default runs in the background and is not visible. It is activated by Alt+Space keystroke which opens the Launchy bar, where you simply enter your search query. A match will be shown if found, with other relevant matches shown in a drop-down list. Simply select the match you prefer and Launchy will launch your application. Also, you can use Launchy to open your default web browser for any address entered into Launchy. Simply open the Launchy bar, enter the address and press enter; your web browser will launch and navigate to the URL entered. The performance of your machine should not be affected by Launchy.

It is primarily a background application, and does not use a lot of resources as it does not continually index your system. Launchy uses approximately 5 MB of your system’s RAM (in my experience). It’s great to be able to launch a program, website, or search for media or folders simply by typing in the name of the content you desire. I have not used my start menu at all since I installed Launchy, and have experienced no crashes or lock-ups from the program. It is available from www.launchy.net for free. Again, this software is open source and is a Sourceforge project. The program works only on Windows OS, and does not have a Mac OS or Linux version currently.

What is RFID

Radio Frequency Identification is an upcoming technology to track goods, vehicles, etc. It helps in inventorying, tracking and maintenance.

This basically uses RFID tags(small chip with antenna) attached to any item that needs to be tracked. The tag transmits signals regularly to the receiver(another device). When the receiver could not receive any signal from a particular tag, then the item may be moved from the original place. The receiver’s application can raise an alert through email or any other means. Based on the type of RFID tags used, the signal transmission range can vary. The different types of tags available in the market are passive, semi-passive & active.

Passive tags can transmit up to 20 feet, Semi passive tags transmit up to 60 feet & active tags transmit up to 400 feet. An use case would be, for collecting toll fee at various roads, the collection agency uses active RFID tags. These tags are fitted to the vehicles. When these vehicles pass through toll gate, the signal is transmitted to the receiver, then with the identification of the tag number & the associated vehicle details such as owner, credit card number, etc. the toll is collected automatically. There are lot of asset tracking applications available in the market. In countries like United States, there are about 1 million laptops being stolen annually from universities, health centers, etc. If managed properly through technology like RFID, lot of money & time can be saved.

I Want More Ruby

Ruby derailed? Ruby has gained considerable notoriety recently due to a web framework called Rails which makes the deployment of web servers so easy that you hardly need to know the underlying language, Ruby.

But what about Ruby itself? I came to Ruby fairly recently, without knowledge of, or interest in, Rails. I have been surprised and pleased so far with what I’ve found. Ruby is a true “object-oriented” language, where even the Class of an object is itself, an object. You might be surprised to know that operators like “+” and “-” are in fact, methods. It features iterators, code blocks, exception handling, multithreading (even in DOS!), and needs no variable declaration. It was first developed by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, in February of 1993, but has seen many changes since then.

The most intriguing aspect of Ruby for me is the community. With its high volume mailing list, its regular “RubyQuiz” challenges, the Gem repository (where libraries and modules and the such can be shared with the community), and exceedingly friendly users (doubtlessly a result of a language that is extremely fun to program in), the enthusiasm can be a little contagious. Ruby was designed to be readable, as well. There are many ways to accomplish something, and even without any particular expertise, many of those ways are immediately clear when looked at. Often, the largest steppingstone for learning a language is the Syntax. Even the word “Syntax” is daunting. You can probably guess what a program (yes, this would be the entire code) like the following does: 3.times { puts “Hello, world!” } Hello, world! Hello, world! Hello, world! Ruby is designed for fun, and for productivity, and people who consider themselves non-programmers, as well as programmers who long for a shorter rope between idea and implementation, will enjoy Ruby.

Flex Your Adobe

I am convinced that Adobe Flex is probably the best framework available for building “ajaxy” websites today.

There are a couple of reasons why I feel this way after building several Ajax applications. The support for localization, debugging, browser-independence, slightly less restrictive security model, rich component framework, modular coding standards are all the plus points for using Flex. This definitely comes with a cost which is that it only works on flash player. Now that is not such a big problem, if you realize most user base uses IE and flash comes installed in IE or Firefox. The framework is free and is quite bug free.

Stop Computer From Freezing

Every normal computer user could suffer a system-crash. When it happens, you will lose all of your work.

That’s not good for people who always forget to backup their work! When your system crashes, the first thing to do is press the combo “Ctrl+Alt+Del” but sometimea the combo can’t solve the problem. That’s when you need AntiFreeze v1.01 – an anti-system crash program. It not only can easily get you out of trouble but also backup every part of your work. AntiFreeze is a free and very useful program. All you do is “point and click” and its main window will appear. From there you can easily close any “not resposding” programs which are crashing your system! If you’re looking for a cheap solution to protect your computer and your work, AntiFreeze is your choice.

Active Worlds 3D Chat Plugin

Active Worlds is a 3D virtual reality chat plugin software. You can design your own virtual buildings, chat with friends, and play games.

It’s all web-based and real-time. The software download is available free at the Active Worlds web site at: http://www.activeworlds.com/products/download.asp. The download is large and best done on a high speed internet connection such as cable or partial DSL. That’s OK because you need to download a large number of files while actually running the software (for objects and terrain). This is not really practical on a slower dialup or wifi connection. The download and install are easy and take only a few minutes with a good internet connection and decent cpu speed. Unregistered (non-paying) visitors have limited areas that they can visit and very limited abilities to build your own objects, buildings, or terrain. AW has nagging messages that show up once in a while asking you to join and pay, but they are relatively tame and easy to ignore. There’s plenty of fun places available to visit and a good number of people to chat with. You can spend hours wandering around and seeing some of the phenomenal designing and building that goes on. You can even try some of your own in designated test building areas. The software REALLY needs a mapping function to help orient you in the space. Raw coordinates are handy for insiders and almost worthless for newbies. You can run, teleport, and fly. Laptops need to use special commands to fly (and some laptops just can’t do it at all). The screen is divided into several sections that can be easily resized for reading the supporting/related web sites and extensive help documents. The chat is worth the trip alone. The people are friendly, unless they are actively paying attention to their building or a game. I like the self-rating system and the real-time count of the number of people in an area. (answering the age old question “Is anybody home?) Don’t be confused by the bots that have canned messages or simple programs that appear responsive. Bots aren’t counted. They’re informative, but not much on relationships. The Worlds Admin is seeking partnerships with Schools and Universities. This is an interesting application and may really take off as time goes by. Good content and worlds with sound, visual and mixed with live interaction is a powerful combination. In this era of 3d virtual reality chat environments ACTIVE WORLDS is worth a download and a good long visit.