Monthly Archives: April 2008

HiJack This

HiJack This is an ominous sounding piece of software; however, it is a very efficient piece of freeware.

This software actually pulls up the startup on a windows machine and lists all running processes; the user can then simply select which processes to “kill” to improve system performance. Which ever software is “killed” generally will not start again on a system reboot. The software is normally listed as a anti-spyware piece of software but it works just as effectively to reduce system drag associated with unwanted programs running in the background. It can be run from a flash (thumb) drive, or downloaded and put on the desktop and run from there. It has a file size of 392 KB, which means it takes no time to either download or use. A word of warning, if you utilize HiJack This and do not create a backup you could cause a serious operating issue on your computer. Start with the things that you know shouldn’t be there, like if you aren’t using McAfee anti-virus then it shouldn’t be listed in the “running” programs. There are some programs which are just easier to disable in their own interface as to prevent them from starting such as MS Messenger or Quicktime.

WinMerge

Winmerge is a visual difference application that runs under Windows and that can be a real lifesaver in a great number of situations.

For example, if you are in a programming team and want to synchronize with other members that work on the same source files, you can easily spot the differences and merge your work, and that of the others, in a snap. The interface is very user friendly and very graphical, but after some time everyone should discover that the shortcut keys can speed even more of the workflow.

With the alt+cursor keys you can navigate and merge the differences quickly. The software supports the difference of full trees of directories and you can define filters to visualize only the files that you are interested in. For example, you can exclude the .class files if you are a java developer.

Finally, you can select the “smartness” of the difference display. For example, choosing to ignore the empty lines. On the down side WinMerge has some quirks that can be annoying. The directory difference window is a bit confused, and the version that I have tried had some problems comparing directories over a Samba connection from a Windows PC to a Sun Workstation (nothing serious fortunately). All considered, however, Winmerge is the only windows application that goes near the quality of “Meld” (Unix), and can be recommended without hesitation.

Reset Your Mac OS X Root Password

This happens periodically to me were I need to work in the Unix underpinnings of Mac OS X but have recently purchased a Mac computer either new or used with the OS already installed on it.

To set or reset the “root” password you need your system’s Mac OS X install disc. Insert the disc, wait for it to mount, then click on the “Install Mac OS” icon (or alternatively reboot and hold down the ‘c’ key to boot from the DVD drive). You are not installing the OS again, but you need to click through the Wizard pages far enough until you see the menu bar with “Utilities” as one of the menu pulldowns. In this menu is the command “Reset Password….” That’s it. As you can see it is very easy to reset the “root” password so if you are really security minded you might want to use an Open Firmware Password as well to prevent easy re-booting and resetting using the DVD drive.

HandBrake

HandBrake is a wonderful and free application that will transcode your DVDs into MP4 format so you can play them on your ipod.

Not only will it rip the data from DVDs it also will take any video_TS folder you have lying around on your computer and convert that into MP4. But, that isn’t all folks, HandBrake also has the ability to transcode video for output to your Apple TV and PSP, if you have either of those lying around. Using HandBrake is dead simple, you just point it to the file or disc, use one of the built in presets for whatever device you are using and click start and then just let it sit for a while and do it’s magic. In short, HandBrake is a simple tool that fills a niche that no other software I have found has. Although it is a little simple to look at, and some features are lacking (like just a straight DVD rip) what it advertises to do it does it very well. So go out and try to finally fill up that 60gb iPod.

Printing PDF Files In Linux

Do you have a whole folder of image files (or PDFs) and you want to print out all of them?

Well, you don’t have to open each file individually in an image viewer and select File>Print. Linux command line magic sorts this out for you all at once. Just go to the folder where you’ve stored the images that you want to print and type the following command into the shell: lpr *

This will send all your image files from this folder to the default printer queue. If you want to check the status of all the printers assigned to your computer, just type lpr -t