Category Archives: Software

Which software is right for you?

VSO Image Resizer

Windows XP users familiar with the picture resizer powertool which adds a basic batch picture re-scaling tool to explorer were upset to realize that the XP power tools don’t work with Vista.

The basic function offered by this tool was pretty handy. Enter the VSO Image Resizer, a completely free software tool that can re-scale a folder of pictures, save it as a JPEG, GIF, TIFF or BMP at the quality that you specity. The tool launches from the right-click drop down menu in explorer and offers simple and basic functions in an intuitive interface. For non-commercial use there is no cost for the software. It even works on Windows XP.

StrokeIt Mouse Gestures

StrokeIt – A Mouse gesture software I recently stumbled upon. It is called the Mouse Gestures. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, let me explain.

Mouse gesture is an ingenious way of tracking the way you move your mouse and convert it to a specific command for your computer. Now, some of the impatient among you might ask but we move our mouse all the time in all the ways; so, how the tracking is done exactly. The answer is that in order to make Mouse Gestures the user has to press one of the buttons on the mouse like the left-click, the middle-click etc. When the user makes gestures through the mouse while keeping one of the mouse buttons pressed the software tracks the gesture and triggers the specific command associated with that gesture. Coming to the software StrokeIt, the command to be associated with a gesture can be anything from opening an application to performing a specific action inside an already running application. For example, while watching a movie on Windows Media Player you can draw a ‘P’ symbol from your mouse and the movie will Pause, or you can draw a ‘C’ symbol and the player would Close altogether. What’s even better is that, with StrokeIt, the users can define their own custom gestures. That is, apart from the pre-defined gestures the users can satiate their creative desires by creating their very own artistic gestures and associate a command with it. For example, I have a specific symbol each for opening my web browser, opening a particular bookmark, and even for downloading its contents to my hard drive. Give it a shot, its worth it.

Adobe Captivate

Do you find yourself tasked with creating training, software demos, or client how-tos for your small or medium-sized company?

Adobe Captivate‘s new version, Captivate 3, saves time in creating these materials without overloading you with a high learning curve for the software itself. Captivate outputs your screen recordings in Flash format so that you can post the results to the web or distribute on CD-ROM. Captivate’s intuitive interface makes it easy to capture and annotate screen events via text and audio, and produce a professional-looking result in hours. Captivate’s first release, based on the earlier RoboDemo, was already easy to use for training. For quizzing, new question types and question pooling make creating tests with Captivate more flexible than before. You can more easily test the effectiveness of your training and identify areas for follow-up. The powerful annotation features allow you complete flexibility of text presentation in the video, but if you need to create documentation as well as demos and videos, Captivate also allows you to print to Word or PDF. Addition of music tracks or voiceovers is incredibly simple, as are the addition of static or interactive images.

BackupPC

I am not a Perl fan, but as a network administrator it has always been a vexing task to find backup software that can handle everything that can be thrown at it.

Especially as technology advances and the amount of space we use in our networks have exponentially increased in size. Another caveat is having mixed technology, it throws a spanner in the works for any backup technology. As far as backup hardware, it has fallen by the wayside, a tape streamer can no longer handle the huge amounts of data on a network. BackupPC, when run on a dedicated Centos machine with a couple of raided SATA drives does absolutely wonderful with backing up a network. It handles large files brilliantly, has an amazing flexibility in its configuration, and has a pooling, and compression future which is incredible with space savings. We have about 1.5TB of data that is backed up on our network, and takes less than 500MB actual space after the pooling, and compression. The biggest headache is to install it, and to configure it correctly, (a reasonable Linux understanding is a bonus) once that is done, it never has to be worried about again, except when you need to restore something, or add a new device to backup. Though it is always a good idea to do regular checks to see if the backups went through. The benefits of a working system outweigh any installation difficulties.

X-Window System

X-Window System is what makes everything appear so friendly on the screen in LINUX.

The X-window system is a system-level application, or rather, a process that handles the display in Linux. Basically, what you see on your screen is coming from X. X-“talks” to the graphics display device (the graphics processor) and tells it what to display. As X interacts with the hardware at basic level, programmers need not be bothered about giving instructions to the video card for any display (mind you, the GUI taxes a system heavily). With the difficult job being taken care of, programmers only need to give instructions to X saying “move window 1 to position x” or “minimize window 2” or “refresh window 3 every 5 seconds”. The X concept came about when a GUI for UNIX was being worked out. It was released in 1984 by the “Athena Project”, an academic project undertaken at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was taken over in 1998 by a the X Consortium, which has been maintaining the standards for X ever since. The X specifications are freely available for further development, and Linux developers adopt these specifications and called it the Xfree86. Xfree86, like its base-the X-is very versatile, with various options that developers can use to make different windows (or apps) display differently. X follows a client-server architecture.

PicLens Review

Among the plethora of add-ons available for the Firefox browser, Piclens is one of the most impressive – mainly because it appears to offer much of the ‘wow’ of Vista or Leopard’s smooth graphical wizardry, but through a browser, and with none of the high RAM requirements of the operating systems. If you haven’t tried it, it’s a must to visit http://www.piclens.com and install.

Even more unusual, Piclens is also supported in Internet Explorer and Safari add-ons for Windows and Mac. Only Linux users are left in out in the cold. What Piclens does is more difficult to explain. At its most simple, it offers a view of the internet as a 3D, smoothly scrolling wall. The wall entirely replaces the usual browser interface, so it appears much more like a separate piece of software than a browser plugin. Try it with Flikr and you can immediately see the attraction, as an endless wall of beautifully rendered images sweeps by, which you can zoom into and manipulate at will. But it also integrates with Google, Amazon, YouTube (it shows videos too) and other search engines, so that you can search the internet in a new and visual way. Put simply, it’s about as far from your grandad’s HTML home page as you could imagine. One question remains: is it useful? While for graphical work it might be useful to view thousands of images at once, navigating them is quite difficult, and the ‘metadata’ that goes along with the images hard to view. Time will tell, but for now Piclens is the most impressive add-on you’ll never use.