Release Your Inner Spielberg

If you would like to produce DVDs to share videos of family events, child performances, but hope to edit out the most amateurish or embarrassing elements, consider Adobe Premier Elements.

Adobe Premier Elements provides a relatively low cost entry point into professional quality editing media editing software. Video capture from your camcorder to your computer’s 1394 (Firewire) interface is integrated into the package. Sound clips from other sources are easily integrated in the timeline view. Dead time is straightforward to clip out. Titles and text overlays with various effects are easy to add. When you are ready to produce a DVD, pre-built templates make it easy to quickly put together a product you will be pleased to share with family and friends. Premier has the reputation of being a complicated and difficult-to-use product. Adobe Premier Elements can be used by a sophisticated computer-savvy older elementary age child.

Deep Freeze

Faronics Deep Freeze is an amazing piece of software that will allow you to literally freeze your operating environment in place so that nothing is written over without your consent.

Deep Freeze works by creating a virtual state of your computer and keeps malicious content from ruining your Operating System and programs, yet does so without restricting user access. As it has saved my can many a time, I would recommend Faronics Deep Freeze for anyone who wishes their operating system would stay as fresh as the day it was installed.

SongBird

Songbird is an open-source, cross platform, highly customizable music player.

It comes integrated with mashTape, Last.fm, Songkick and SHOUTcast Radio, and can be further improved by an ever-growing variety of themes (called ‘feathers’) and add-ons contributed by the Songbird developer community. It’s a great alternative player, but more than that, it’s also a solution for all your music related needs. You can download and organize music, browse news, photos and videos of your favorite artists while listening and get updated about upcoming concerts, all in this one application.

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.