I’ve extensively used Beyond Compare, a powerful file and directory comparison software from Scooter Software.
This is an invaluable tool for software developers, software configuration engineers etc. The file compare view is very intuitive yet powerful and customizable. You can chose to view only different lines or matching lines, you could set foreground and background colors of your choice to highlight the differences etc. It supports two way merging of changes (both ansi and unicode text). The directory compare view is equally powerful, supporting rules based or binary comparison of file names. Quite large directories can be compared in seconds. Filters can be applied to show only different files, orphan files etc. The interface also supports copying of files between directories, deleting files, changing timestamps and much more. There’s a 30 day trial version and I feel the pricing is quite reasonable.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.