Friday, November 30, 2007

IM Me control updated; Theme support added

For those who thought the previous version of the IM Me control was too limited in colors, sizes and shapes, think again!

Today the IM Me control was updated to support different colors and a custom size. Besides the normal conversation window and a simple presence icon, a third option has been added: the IM button. The button shows the presence icon, and when clicked on it will open a conversation in a new window.

Get Your I'm Control Here


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Yahoo to put adverts in PDF files

Yahoo has reached a deal to start running advertisements in Adobe's popular PDF document-reading format.

The service will allow publishers to make money by including adverts linked to the content of a PDF document in a panel at the side of the page.

It is Yahoo's latest way of expanding the places it can advertise online following deals with the auction site Ebay and the cable TV group Comcast.

The advertisements will not appear if the PDF document is printed.

It is the first time that Adobe has allowed dynamic adverts into its PDF (Portable Document Format) files.

Dynamic adverts can be changed for particular audiences or rotated to make sure that a particular user never sees the same advertisement twice.

PDF files can be created by a range of software and can then be read by people who have a PDF reader, such as Adobes Reader.

The PDF format has proved popular with both companies and home users, and has been used to produce large reports and shorter newsletters, as well as preparing documents for printers.


New Nvidia GeForce 8800GTS

Nvidia has postponed its upcoming GeForce 8800GTS GPU from the original launch date of November 19 to December 11, according to sources at graphics card makers.

The new GeForce 8800GTS 512MB cards will replace the previous generation GeForce 8800GTS 640MB cards with a 65nm process GPU supporting PCI Express 2.0, HDMI and PureVideo Gen2. The GPU will have 128 streaming processors, 970MHz GDDR3 memory frequency, 650MHz core frequency and a maximum TDP of 140W, according to the sources.

Since the G92 graphics chip on which the GeForce 8800GTS is based has shown good performance after overclocking in the recently launch 8800GT series cards, several graphics card makers are planning to launch overclocked versions of the 8800GTS to boost demand.

GeForce 8800GTS 512MB cards are expected to be priced around US$299-349.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

ffmpegmenu -One click Video Conversion

KDE users, here’s a neat application that creates a ’service’ in your file manager that allows you to easily convert videos to other formats using ffmpeg.

ffmpegmenu is what you need. After copying the simple script into the right directory, an action will appear in the sidebar of either Konqueror or Dolphin (your choice), which easily allows you to convert selected video to DVD, MPEG or into iPod format with a couple of clicks.

The script itself is very simple, such that it’s definitely possible to edit it to customise the commands it runs to make your own ffmpeg conversion options. It does require you have ffmpeg and the necessary codecs to convert to DVD, MPEG and iPod already installed, as it is just a loader which calls ffmpeg. But enough of that, how do you actually install the script?

Well, first of all, download it from KDE-Apps, direct download link here.

When that file opens, save it as ffmpegmenu.desktop and put it on your desktop. All we now need to do is to copy the file into place.

You’ll probably need to be root to do this, so run su - first (or Ubuntu users, prefix the cp command below with sudo).

# cd /home/yourusername/Desktop
# cp ffmpegmenu.desktop /usr/share/apps/konqueror/servicemenus
# cp ffmpegmenu.desktop /usr/share/apps/d3lphin/servicemenus

Feel free to omit either the Konqueror or Dolphin command depending on whether you want this installed in one, the other, or both. Once installed, highlighting a .avi file should show the following in the sidebar (this screenshot from Dolphin):

ffmpegmenu in action

And it’s done!

If you want to uninstall, simply remove the ffmpegmenu.desktop files as root, like so:

# rm /usr/share/apps/konqueror/servicemenus
# rm /usr/share/apps/d3lphin/servicemenus


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Free Photoshop Brush - Mimi

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pidgin 2.3.0

Pidgin is a multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once.
Pidgin is free software. It is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2. This means you are free to use it and to modify it, but if you distribute your modifications you must distribute the modified source code as well.

Pidgin can work with:

  • AIM
  • Bonjour
  • Gadu-Gadu
  • Google Talk
  • Groupwise
  • ICQ
  • IRC
  • MSN
  • MySpaceIM
  • QQ
  • SILC
  • Sametime
  • XMPP
  • Yahoo!
  • Zephyr

Download 2.3.0



Mozilla Firefox is a fast, full-featured Web browser that makes browsing more efficient than ever before. Firefox includes pop-up blocking; a tab-browsing; integrated Google searching; simplified privacy controls that let you cover your tracks more effectively; a streamlined browser window that shows you more of the page than any other browser; and a number of additional features that work with you to help you get the most out of your time online.


  • Improved Tabbed Browsing
  • Spell Checking
  • Search Suggestions
  • Session Restore
  • Web Feeds (RSS)
  • Live Titles
  • Live Bookmarks
  • Pop-up Blocker
  • Streamlined Interface
  • Phishing Protection
  • Automated Update
  • Protection from Spyware and more....


Release Notes

View Wikipedia Offline Via Gearsmonkey

If you are a Wikipedia fan then you are going to love this amazing trick to read Wikipedia Offline. All you need is a bit of Gearsmonkey magic, ala a combination of Google Gears, Greasemonkey and Firefox. By using Gearsmonkey you can take your favorite website offline using Google Gears.. Well here is what the developer had to say :

Sites with a lot of static information — Wikipedia, any API documentation, web-based email — would be great to be able to use when no internet connection is available. But what if you’re a user that always has an internet connection? Then adding Gears to a site doesn’t do much, right? Wrong. Imagine your favorite website is now stored on your computer, and it syncs whenever there’s altered content. Whenever you look at the site, your browser is grabbing everything straight from your hard drive. Did you just make a search for your best friend on Facebook? Don’t wait 5 seconds the next time that search runs, have the results immediately! Meanwhile, save the webmasters’ precious bandwidth/server power!

Here’s the Greasemonkey script for Wikipedia (requires Firefox + Greasemonkey + Gears). For each Wikipedi article you want to save, click on “cache page” and the script will save the text and the images. It would be nice to make it work with any site.

Read More


Hack Attack : Get Windows XP SP3 Through Windows Update

Well If you have read my previous Hack Attack on How you can download Windows Vista SP1 through a Hack and it worked for you then here is another Hack that will allow you to download Windows XP SP3 RC1 directly from Microsoft.
Windows XP SP3 will be the final service pack that we will see for the World’s biggest Operating System from Microsoft. SP3 will bring a host of bug fixes and some new features borrowed from Vista.

Well here is how you can download SP3 straight from Microsoft.

Follow the instructions carefully and you’ll be running Windows XP SP3 in no time. Grab yourself a cup of Coffee as you do this..

Don’t fret too much, this won’t take much time. I can assure you that..
  • Download this file ( WindowsXPSP3Hack.cmd). Once you have downloaded the file, login as administrator and run the file by double clicking it. Wait for the Confirmation Message on screen.
  • The Above file adds a few entries to the Windows Registry that makes Microsoft think that you are a part of the Private beta program.
  • Check for new updates on Windows Update. You should now see Windows XP SP3 listed in the available updates.
  • Download and install it. Reboot whenever necessary.
Please note this hack is the exact way Microsoft expects its beta testers to try Windows XP SP3 out, so you don’t have to worry too much about Microsoft catching hold of you.

I tried this on Windows XP Machine and this hack worked like a charm. Let me know if this works for you.. If you can’t wait for Microsoft to release SP3 officially then this hack is for you.

Spread the word around, so that many more people can download the 3rd Service Pack.


Hack Attack : Download Vista SP1 Through Windows Update

If you are PC user, running Windows Vista, then you must be aware of the various multitude of problems that Vista faces. Well Microsoft plans to release the first service pack for Windows Vista sometime early next year. If you are the impatient kind, then you might want to install SP1 beta right away on your Vista PC.

Well there are two options for you to install Vista SP1, one is the legal way and the other illegal way. Illegal way involves downloading the service pack from torrents, which I am not going to tell you about here. Rather lets focus on the way Microsoft wants it beta testers to download the Service Pack .Well someone on demonoid posted a Windows Update Hack that would allow anyone running a legal Vista installation to install SP1.

Well the trick is pretty much straightforward, so grab yourself a coffee as you do this. Sure this won’t take much time.

Download this file (SP1Beta_Hack.cmd - Right Click and Save as to Download) and run it with the Administrator Privileges. You should see a successful message displayed on screen in Command Prompt.
  • Once you are done, run Windows Update and Check for updates. It should show you the KB935509 hotfix. Download it and restart your computer.
  • Again Fire up Windows Update and Check for updates. This time around you should find another update called KB937287 waiting for you to download it. Once done downloading it, restart and run Windows Update again and you should find KB938371 waiting. Download it and believe me this is the last step to glory!
  • Now restart the computer and fire up Windows Update for the last
    time. Check for updates. Windows update may not present you with SP1 at
    the first instance so try a few times and you will find it.
  • Once you find SP1 you should find something similar to the screenshots below.

SP1 Beta SP1 Beta

  • Download the Service Pack and you will now be running a legal copy of Windows Vista SP1.
Once you are done with the installation of Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista you will a see a tiny but irritating Watermark at the bottom right corner of your Dekstop saying ‘Evaluation copy, Build 6001′. If you want to get rid of the watermark follow the instructions below :
  • Download this Zip file ( Extract it in any convenient location.
  • Install watermark_fix.reg file
  • Take ownership of user32.dll.mui file in C:\Windows\System32\en-US\
  • Rename file to user32.dll.mui.bak
  • copy downloaded user32.dll.mui to folder
  • Reboot!
  • Voila! The Watermark is now gone.


Now, over the past year or so there has been a real move to push applications that live on the desktop into the online world.

Adobe made news a few months back by announcing that a basic version of Photoshop is to exist as an online application.

And now they have bought a company which has developed a sophisticated online word processor.

And it is creating quite a buzz as its name would suggest.

Buzzword is a flash-based application which - as it lives on the web - does not require any download onto your PC, apart from the basic Flash player that is.

In its look and feel it is definitely way ahead of Google docs. The menu system is in the form of toolbars which whizz across the screen once you have selected one.

It looks great and while it does not have the functionality of, say, Microsoft Word, you can do things like automatic spell checking as you type as well as insert tables, images, and lists.

And while a few basic features are notable by their absence, like word count and copying and pasting to and from the desktop applications, support for new features are being added all the time.

Once you have finished your document, you can save it in a regular .doc or .rtf format and import it into your desktop word processor.



RoundPic: Rounded Corners for Any Image

Online tool for making anti-aliased rounded corners for your logos and images. Simply upload a picture from your PC (or get it from URL) and click “Round It”. Once uploaded you can customize the look of corners by setting desired corner size and background color.

RoundPic - Rounded Corners for Images


* Upload a picture from the web or hard drive
* Uploaded image must be in one of the following formats: .JPEG, .JPG, GIF, .BMP or .PNG.
* Choose between different round corner sizes and set custom background color.
* Download and save rounded images to your PC.
* No email or registration required.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

RIM BlackBerry Curve 8310

AT&T's BlackBerry 8300 Curve wasn't exactly long in the tooth, having been on the market for mere months. Still, once T-Mobile launched the 8320 Curve, a superior version that makes calls over Wi-Fi, it was clear that AT&T had to do something to stay competitive. Enter the 8310 Curve. While this smartphone doesn't include Wi-Fi, it does feature GPS support with built-in TeleNav maps. There's also the optional ($9.99 per month) TeleNav GPS Navigator, with its excellent voice directions and location-based services. This Curve comes in two new colors, a grayish titanium hue and a brilliant red.

Measuring 4.2 by 2.4 by 0.6 inches and weighing 3.9 ounces, the 8310 is the same size and shape as the 8300. It also has a 320-by-240-pixel QVGA display and a light-sensing feature that adjusts brightness levels depending upon whether you're indoors or outdoors, just like Apple's MacBook Pro. The 8310's trackball is as easy to use as on other Curve and Pearl models, and its backlit keyboard offers nice-size buttons and a satisfying tactile response.

The Curve is a superior voice phone, too, delivering strong reception and dependable voice quality in both directions on my tests. The speakerphone is plenty loud for outdoor use, and it sounded fine—though a bit hollow—with a Sound ID SM100 Bluetooth headset. Push to talk (PTT) is available for the few AT&T subscribers who still use it.

The real news here, as mentioned earlier, is the GPS chipset. To test the TeleNav GPS Navigator, I embarked on a drive from Queens, New York, to central New Jersey and back, comparing the Curve with the Garmin nüvi 350 a dedicated GPS device. The 8310 held its own, with detailed voice prompts and reasonably fast navigation. But the device took a beat or two longer than the nüvi 350 to announce the next maneuver after any given turn. TeleNav also announces street names, but not consistently. For example, many times the BlackBerry's software said "turn right," or "continue, then turn left," whereas the nüvi 350 always pronounced the street name. Like all GSM devices, the 8310 also caused an irksome GSM buzz in my car's stereo speakers. On the plus side, I like that the 8310 asks right up front what kind of route you want: fastest, shortest, prefer streets, prefer highways, pedestrian, or traffic optimized.

Although the 8310's TeleNav implementation excels as a navigation system, its traffic reporting needs work. Five separate times, the system told me to exit a highway due to congestion on Staten Island, on the Garden State Parkway, and on the expressway back in New York. The device was wrong in every instance—each time, I took a risk and kept going, only to find no traffic jam ahead. And once the device has its mind set, there's no easy way to get it out of traffic mode. The 8310 will tell you over and over again to exit until you stop it and reprogram the route—not something you want to (or can) do while driving at highway speeds. Another time the device was accurate, however: I landed in a jam about a minute after I missed an exit it wanted me to take, but by that point I had little faith in its directions. Skip the traffic reporting and you'll be happier.

TeleNav, however, has added some new goodies this time around. The GPS Navigator now integrates restaurant reviews from; you can search for eateries by popularity in a given range, then decide which of the search results are worth the trip. You can also rate restaurants from the phone itself, and TeleNav incorporates its own database of ratings with's. Another useful feature: You can share your location with any friends who have a cell phone, so you can meet up. And if those persons also have TeleNav, your location will be shown on their GPS-enabled map, and they'll get real-time directions to help find you. Otherwise, the other party will receive an SMS message that opens a WAP page with a map. They can then input their location and get static directions. One drawback, though, is that the 8310 sometimes takes a while—on the order of minutes—to lock onto your location, something I noticed more often while walking the streets of New York City than while driving. Often I couldn't get a lock at all in my Queens neighborhood.

Other facets of the 8310 still impress. Its 3.5mm stereo headset jack means that you can upgrade to quality earbuds from a wide range of manufacturers. My test unit sounded passable when paired with a stereo Bluetooth set of Etymotic Ety8 earphones and absolutely stellar with wired Creative Zen Aurvana earphones. The Curve plays MP3 and (unprotected) AAC files, but not DRM-encoded tracks. Its 2-megapixel camera and built-in LED flash combine to take surprisingly usable, if somewhat soft, pictures, even indoors with low light. The 8310, like the 8300, still doesn't record video.

Like all BlackBerrys, the 8310's e-mail handling is sublime. You get lightning-fast push e-mail out of the box, with support for Web-based mail, POP/IMAP, and BlackBerry e-mail accounts, not to mention integration with Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, and even Novell GroupWise. As always, its BlackBerry OS is fast, responsive, and streamlined, but third-party app support is still scarce. The built-in browser is passable, but I also loaded Opera Mini, which rendered miniature versions of full Web pages that I could zoom in on and read. You can use the 8310 Curve as a tethered laptop modem as well, though you'll quickly lose patience waiting for its glacial EDGE radio to deliver information.

The BlackBerry 8310 Curve is an excellent value at $199 with a two-year contract. The Curve may lack the Motorola Q9h's built-in document editing and high-speed data radio, but superior e-mail handling, a responsive OS, and a sleeker design make the Curve a great alternative. The 8310's 2-megapixel camera is also a good reason to skip the BlackBerry 8800, especially now that the 8310 includes GPS, the 8800's original draw. Since AT&T is iPhone country, it's worth noting that the Curve 8310 is a better messaging device and voice phone than Apple's first phone. Power users in the Microsoft camp who require 3G should look at the powerhouse AT&T Tilt or Q9h, and iTunes and video fans should naturally check out the iPhone. For just about anyone else, the BlackBerry Curve 8310 is a top-flight pick.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Microsoft sends out Windows Live Messenger 9.0 beta invites

No sooner has the Windows Live Wave 2 suite been released than the first Wave 3 beta begins - Windows Live Messenger v9. Unlike the betas that have just finished, the Messenger v9 beta is being run from Microsoft Connect as a private
beta, meaning that, for the moment at least, unless you receive an invite, you won't be able to participate.

For the moment it looks like most previous Windows Live testers are getting invites, so stay tuned to your inbox. With such a popular beta like this, you better sign up quick.

So what's new? While the goodies aren't yet available, we've heard about Multiple Points Of Presence (MPOP) support, which allows you to signin from multiple devices, ie be online at two places at once.

More coming soon!

I was lucky enough to get an is the screenshot of my na..not id...Hope i get accepted. Got ma finger crossed..


Amazon's Kindle: The iPod of E-books?

It's the gadget of the day: Amazon's homegrown Kindle, the latest attempt to make the e-book reader from quirky oddity into something for the mainstream. Will it fly this time time around? Amazon's got a long road ahead of it, but first appearances would seem to indicate that this is the best e-book reader to date.

Amazon is unabashedly looking to the iPod for inspiration, attempting to make a piece of hardware that needs minimal expertise to run and that ties specifically to its own store, in this case,, which will offer 88,000 book titles for sale at launch. Even better, the Kindle is designed to be usable sans computer. It connects directly to a special Sprint-powered cellular network called Whispernet (not Wi-Fi) and lets you download directly from the web. However, there are no additional monthly service fees for the privilege.

The big question with these devices is always the screen. Kindle uses the same display technology that the similar Sony Reader uses, called E-Ink. The screen looks as much like paper as electronic displays get; it also allows for exceptional battery life since, once a page is generated, it requires no additional power to keep it displayed.

But there's a dark side of Kindle, which is already drawing heaps of abuse for its design, which can charitably be described as heinously ugly. The vaguely trapezoidal gizmo with oddball keys certainly doesn't share any kinship with the elegant iPod, but iPod 1.0 was hardly the beauty it's become of late. I'm going to chalk it up as a first stab at a design, and I'm all but certain the 2008 version will look nothing like it.

Weighing just 10.3 ounces, the Kindle is lighter than most paperbacks, which should make extended reading no problem. You can store hundreds of titles on its built-in memory and add SD cards for additional room. Titles you buy ($10 for best sellers and new releases) are backed up on Amazon, so even if you have to delete one, you can always download it again later. And if books aren't your bag, the Kindle also does blogs, newspapers, and more (though for additional fees). There are also some very basic music and web browsing features.

So will Kindle fly? People who aren't complaining about the design will likely complain about the price. Even if you're saving $6 off the purchase of each book, it will take more than 60 purchases for the $399 Kindle to pay for itself. Consider also the Sony Reader, which has been a modest success: Sony claimed it was "exceeding expectations" and that e-book sales were outpacing music sales at its online store, as of January 2007. That said, who buys music from Sony's online store? Sony reportedly has a new, wireless Reader in the works, too, so there appear to be at least some legs in this market.

The jury's out on whether Kindle will really make an impact with consumers, but Amazon's launching it at the perfect time, and tying it to the world's largest bookstore is certainly a smart move. The price is the real trick: Many Amazon shoppers are loyal to the site because of its exceptional bargains, but $399 puts it at (or above) the price of most gaming consoles. So would you like an e-book reader or a Nintendo Wii underthe tree this year?


How to Send Self-Destructing Emails

Ever sent an email you later regretted writing? We all have, but it can be especially bad when those emails are sent to the wrong person or get leaked on the Internet. You might not know this, but there are many providers that offer self destructing email services. These services give you complete control over who reads them, how long they exist, or whether they can be printed, copied, or forwarded.

Hey, you don't have to be a secret agent to send self-destructing emails, just a very smart geek with a reputation to maintain, so check out what these four services can do for you:

  • Will Self-Destruct: This service is free. There's no sign up process, but you have to fill out a web-based form with the recipient's email address, subject, and your message. The recipient receives an email with a link to a web page containing your message. Once the link is accessed, a countdown begins, and the message is destroyed. The email itself looks like spam, so make sure you tell your friend to expect something from SDMessage and Destructing Message are two similar alternatives.

  • KickNotes: Another web-based service that sends self-destructing messages after filling out a form. You can actually control the times the message can be viewed or how long you want the message to exist. Once the message is created, you can either send a link to a web page through your own email address or from KickNotes.

  • Kablooey Mail: This free service requires sign up, but it gives you complete control over emails you send. Kablooey lets you retract emails, set the number of times it can be read, set an expiration date, and blocks the recipient from copying, forwarding, or printing its contents. I had some problems signing up for the service so I haven't tested this one, but apparently the Wall Street Journal did, so here's their review.

  • BigString: You'll have to sign up for this free service, but the list of features is impressive. All email accounts feature optional self-destruction, email recall, expiration dates, tracking, masquerading, and restrictions on printing and forwarding. This service rocks! I signed up for an account, and I just love how I was able to change the contents of an email, even after I had pressed the send button. I wish all email services had this feature.

There are many others like the ones above, so if you want other options check out Tech[dot]Blog, who rounded up a great list of self destructing email providers.


Monday, November 19, 2007

USB 3.0 -- 10 Times Faster -- In the Works for 2009

USB, that little rectangular plug that can be found on just about every computer peripheral cable you come across, is one of the biggest success stories in the history of computing. Ditching the slow serial and parallel cables of yore and replacing them with a fast, universal standard that could draw power and allowed connecting of dozens of peripherals without rebooting... well, it was genius. When USB 2.0 arrived, with much faster performance, it got even better. It's not hyperbole to say that USB, despite its humble status as a mere connector, is one of the most important computer technologies to ever
be invented.

Well, USB fans, things are going to get even more interesting and soon. USB 2.0 may be fast enough right now, but with
more high-definition video products arriving and bigger and bigger files being transferred, that won't be the case forever. Enter USB 3.0, which moves the bandwidth needle from 480Mbps to roughly 4.8Gbps, 10 times faster than the current version.

The new standard, which was recently demonstrated using a new optical cable (but the same connector), will be backward compatible with older USB formats and promises better power efficiency, too, in order to decrease the load on portable devices. Possibly in the works: Better ability to charge devices over USB, some of which still require an A/C adapter or
two USB connections to draw enough juice.

Specs are planned to be delivered early next year with commercial availability for 2009. Just do us a favor and clearly label USB 3.0 products with an appropriate logo this time! (USB 2.0 got caught up in a mini scandal when vendors started labeling USB 1.1 products as "USB 2.0 capable," with vendors later claiming they only meant the products worked with USB 2.0
connections. Fail!)


Installing Windows Media Player Plugin for Firefox

So you just bought a training video and popped it into your computer. You click on the menu in the autoplay dialog and it opens up Firefox, your default browser. Now you are staring at a blank screen.
What now?

The problem is most likely because you don't have the Windows Media

Player plugin installed for Firefox, so all we need to do is install it.

Note that you'll usually have the same problem anytime you try and view video files in FIrefox using Windows Media format, such as .wmv files.


Just download and run the plugin installer linked below. You'll probably want to close Firefox during the installation.

Verifying Plugin Installation

After running through the very quick installation wizard, you might be curious if the installation actually worked. While the easiest method is to just open a Windows Media video, you can also type the following into the address bar to see the list of loaded plugins:


And you should see the Windows Media Player plugin in the list. You can also see which file types Firefox will use the plugin on.


And now I can view this Windows Media format video file in Firefox…


Technical Notes

In case you have any issues with this installer, you might want to take a look at this list to help with your troubleshooting:

  • The WMP plugin uses the IE Proxy settings, not the ones in Firefox.
    This is because the plugin itself is only a thin wrapper around Windows
    Media Player, which always uses IE internally to fetch data.
  • The plugin files are installed to the "C:\Program Files\Mozilla
    Firefox\plugins" directory by default, and the file name is
    np-mswmp.dll. If the uninstaller fails to remove this file for whatever
    reason you can manually delete it.
  • You could also theoretically copy the same .dll file into the
    plugins directory on any Firefox installation and it should work
    without running the installer.


Download Windows Media Player Firefox Plugin from


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Keyboard 8000

Microsoft's Wireless Entertainment Keyboard 8000 ($299.95 list) is all play and no work. For that chunk of change, you're not likely to buy it for your desktop, though. This keyboard and mouse set is meant to be used while you're sitting on your couch and using your Media Center PC with a large HDTV.

The first thing you'll notice about the 8000 is its—shall we say MacBookish?—silver sheen and super-thin design, tailor-made for living-room use. Even in our tech-savvy office, passersby stopped and cooed over its luster and sleekness.

The keyboard is built like a laptop keyboard. The keys give a satisfying click that feels and sounds like that of Lenovo's ThinkPad keyboard, one of our favorites. And the laptop resemblances don't end there. The 8000 has no number pad, is compact in size, and has myriad media buttons for one-click access to your entertainment. The lack of a number pad may bother some users (I personally like having one), but for a living-room keyboard, a smaller form factor may be more important than having a number pad.

The "comfort curve" design is much easier on the wrists than a typical straight keyboard, but not as ergonomic as the split-board design Microsoft uses elsewhere. It's much easier for hunt-and-peck users, though, and depending on how much typing you do on your Media Center PC, you'll either appreciate the comfort curve or, at worst, not notice its benefits. One thing you'll like either way is the silver backlit keys, which come in handy when you're using it in a dark living room.

One of my favorite conveniences is that mouse and keyboard share a docking station that serves to recharge the AAA rechargeable batteries that both devices use. (Lots of wireless keyboards and mice use either disposable or non-user-replaceable batteries, which can get expensive over time.) The docking station powers the devices and also provides the Bluetooth connectivity when the devices aren't docked. (They pair easily with a standard Bluetooth dongle as well.) The dock also integrates four USB ports.

Although the 8000 is a fine solution for living-room use—you can put it in your entertainment center or tuck it away somewhere—it's too big to be practical for desktop use. The dock is roughly the size of two decks of cards side by side. That might not seem big, but when the keyboard is docked and there's a monitor behind the pair desktop space disappears quickly. The dock has its own power brick, too, adding to the rat's nest of cables under your desk. All told, it's certainly more of a hassle than a normal wired keyboard would be.

The included Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 is silver, to match the keyboard. A handy battery indicator lets you know how much juice it has left. My only real complaint with the mouse is the placement of the back/forward buttons. Most mice that have these put both on the left side for easy thumb access, while the 8000 splits them, with one on each side. It's not a huge inconvenience, but it takes some getting used to.

In addition to the typical media keys, Play, Pause, FF, Rew, and Volume, there are also channel up/down buttons, a zoom button, Record, a back browser button, right and left mouse-click buttons, and two Windows Start buttons. A navigation pad further minimizes the necessity for a mouse. The Escape key at the top left and the F1 to F12 keys are cool-looking silver slivers.

If you're looking for a stylish complement to your HDTV or Media Center PC and have $300 to spend on a set of input devices, the Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Keyboard 8000 is a fine choice.


Samsung's New Combo HD Player: Way Too Pricey

Samsung has been teasing us for months about its upcoming dual-format HD player; first, there were only rumors, then word came in April that the Blu-ray/HD DVD player was, indeed, actually coming, but Samsung didn't reveal much beyond that. Today, however, we're getting the main specs, some pictures, a release date (before year's end) and a price: $1,049. Ouch. The first pictures of the BD-UP5000 are pretty much what you'd expect—a big black box with a your standard digital readout and some blue glowing buttons. Under the hood, however, is the good stuff, including full compatibility with the HDi- and BD-Java-powered interactive extras on both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs, neatly fixing a problem that plagued LG's spotty combo HD player, the BH100. You'll also get full 1080p output for Blu-ray and HD DVD (including 24 frame-per-second playback on Blu-ray discs, making for smoother, more film-like picture), the latest in high-def audio formats (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD), and an HDMI 1.3 port (which can send both video and Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD sound to your receiver). The BD-UP5000 could be a silver bullet for your Blu-ray/HD DVD compatibility woes if money's no object; for the rest of us, however, the $1,049 price tag is simply too high. Why? Because for a total of $800, you can pick up a 60GB PlayStation 3 with a built-in Blu-ray drive ($500) and a cheap Toshiba HD DVD player ($300). Yes, that's two boxes compared to a single BD-UP5000 player, but you'll be getting a next-gen gaming console in the bargain. A Samsung rep admitted to me that the company may lower the BD-UP5000's sky-high price tag depending on market prices in the next few months; let's hope Samsung follows through on that.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Software Giveaway: Active Desktop Calendar 7.27

This fully customizable calendar with notes, tasks, alarms and contacts provides seamless integration and interactivity with the desktop background. You can organize your data in layers and share them with other people on a local area network.

The program can integrate with Outlook to show its appointments and tasks on the desktop. There are options for changing calendar icons, fonts and colors, marking weekdays of choice and marking dates with notes and/or alarms. You can have a text only version of the calendar and choose between displaying one, two or three months on the desktop.

Recurrence patterns are available for both notes and alarms. An alarm can be stand alone or attached to a note. If interactive desktop option is enabled, the program accepts direct clicks on dates, notes and tasks displayed on the desktop. You can set each note to normal, private or invisible desktop view. Private notes are displayed as generic text reminder and
invisible notes are not displayed at all.

Printing calendar data is easy and includes an option to choose date range for printing notes. Built-in address book allows you to maintain detailed information about all your contacts, personal and business alike.

Importing contacts from Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows Address Book is possible.

Google Calendars are supported through direct connection with their iCal addresses. Special desktop pictures option will let you add some of your pictures to existing desktop background. For importing and exporting calendar data the program supports iCal and comma separated values CSV formats. Tablet PC users should not worry as the program detects desktop orientation changes automatically. Finally, Active Desktop Calendar comes with world clock screen saver that shows your computer's system time, plus five major time zones around the world.

Blends data with desktop wallpaper
Calendar, notes, tasks, alarms, contacts
Many recurrence patterns for notes/alarms
Interactive desktop interface
Fully customizable (icons, fonts, colors)
Data export/import/print (CSV, iCal)
Included preset calendars with holidays
Detects Tablet PC desktop orientation
Dual/multi monitor systems supported
Group calendar data in layers
Share data layers on a local area network
Direct connection with Outlook®
Google® calendar support
Automatic data backup
Many icons available for marking notes

Download Full Version(divshare)
Download Full Version(zizfile)

Software Website

Dot Round Brush Shape

Download divshare

Free Font - Bleeding Cowboys

Download divshare
Download zizfile

Take Control of Your Components With ESA

What if you could control and monitor all aspects of your computer, from the power supply to the chassis, in order to boost its performance? The concept isn’t new to power users, who sometimes go to elaborate lengths to maximize their PCs’ speed. But a new open standard, Enthusiast System Architecture (ESA), spearheaded by nVidia, might help make this component information easier to access.

“ESA enables components such as chassis, power supplies, and water-cooling systems to communicate status and control in real time,” said Waleed Zamel, nVidia’s technical marketing manager, in a statement. “ESA-compliant applications provide enthusiasts with unprecedented software control to achieve better performance [and] optimal thermal and acoustic operating environments.”

nVidia's partners in promoting ESA include system builders and component manufacturers such as Asus, Cooler Master, Dell, Falcon Northwest, Gigabyte, HP, and Thermaltake. At press time, CoolIt Systems was offering its Freezone Elite CPU Cooler, which features the MTEC Control Center module. ESA-compliant motherboards and desktops should be available by the time you read this.

“By providing ESA-compliant [equipment], it enables users to exploit the full potential of the hardware,” said Zamel in the statement. “This kind of engineering cooperation is targeted to enable our mutual enthusiast customers to push the technology to new heights.”


Samsung ML-1630 Laser Printer- The sexy printer

Don't want a big, ugly, boxy laser printer on your desk? The $199.95 Samsung ML-1630 lets you add monochrome laser printing to your work area with style. This low-profile device looks more like a cross between a scanner and the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey than a typical printer. Best of all, the designers didn't put all their efforts into its appearance: The ML-1630 offers excellent print quality, fast startup, and reasonably good print speeds.

Setup is a snap. Attach the power cord, connect a USB 2.0 cable (not included), and drop in the toner cartridge. The toughest part is trying to remove the annoying sticker affixed to the top of the otherwise-stylish, shiny piano-black plastic casing.

The ML-1630 takes up about as much desktop space as a typical laser printer, at 13 inches wide by 14.7 inches deep, but it's only 4.8 inches tall. Powering on the printer reveals a slick blue LED readout that shows the current page count and any error info. The body sports just two touch-sensitive controls: power and cancel.

Print quality is above-average for a consumer laser printer. Text at both 600 dots per inch (dpi) and 1,200dpi is crisp and readable, even at small font sizes and in gray-scale output. Graphics look very good, and although dithering is evident in photos (which is typical of most monochrome lasers), we noted almost no banding in any of our image tests.

True to Samsung's rated engine speed, printing was consistent at 17 pages per minute, whether we were printing plain text or elaborate full-page graphics. Unlike some printers that take 20 seconds or more to warm up before they begin printing, the ML-1630 spits out its first page within 8 seconds. Though it's not truly “silent” as claimed, it's noticeably quieter than other personal lasers we've tested.

The ML-1630 ships with a 1,000-page starter cartridge. Replacement cartridges cost $69.95 and are rated to last 2,000 pages, which works out to an affordable 3.5 cents per page. The paper tray holds just 100 sheets, so you'll need to reload paper fairly frequently. The tray will accommodate paper as small as 4.1x5.8 inches and as large as A4, but the ML-1630 doesn't support printing on envelopes.

Given the printer's emphasis on design and style, it's no wonder that Apple and Samsung worked out a deal to offer the ML-1630 exclusively in Apple stores through the end of December. Many of Apple's hardware devices share another quality with the printer: The ML-1630 also costs more than similar devices in its performance class. For the same price, you can find monochrome lasers that offer faster printing, larger paper capacity, or networking ports. But none of those will look half as good on your desktop.


CNET has a review of Sony's new Cyber-shot DSC-T2 up, and the verdict seems to be "well above average," with a 7.4 score. The case is bit on the podgy side, although if you don't mind that it's well designed otherwise with a hefty lens protector taking up the front and a large 2.7-inch touchscreen taking up the back. That touchscreen has problems, with the review pointing to responsiveness issues. The 4GB internal storage is also nice, but the ridiculous proprietary cable means if you lose the one in the box during your vacay, you're screwed. Image quality and performance is nothing to go crazy over, and you'll probably be happy with it if you've used an equivalently priced digicam recently. Overall, the flaws in the integrated storage and the touchscreen mean this is a bit of a letdown. Go for the T200 instead.


Sony's DSC-T200 ultracompact going big with 3.5-inch LCD, 5x zoom

So it looks like Sony is about to break us off with a very nicely spec'ed little waif of a camera, the 8 megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-T200 (pictured left). Oddly enough, SonyStyle Canada has all the juicy details about this unannounced, significant upgrade to the DSC-T100 -- and its little brother, the DSC-T70 (pictured right) -- posted up for the world to see before a single press released has passed our desks; we're talking 3.5-inch touchscreen, 5x optical zoom (3-inch / 3x on the T70), claimed 3200 max ISO, VGA video at 30fps, automatic face detection, and even optical image stabilization, all in sub-160-gram packages. No wireless radios onboard, unfortunately, but you are getting the ability to dock with Sony's optional CSS-HD1 Cyber-shot Station for TV, allowing images to be viewed in their full glory on high definition sets. Despite the mounds of info and images displayed on these microsites -- along with overseas enthusiast site e-Photographia -- there are still no pricing / release details to be found, so we'll keep our eyes open. You can check out the T200, lens cover down, after the break...


Wi-Fire Range Extender

For the last six months, I've been using this small, directional USB adapter to hit marginal hotspots when parked. I'm traveling full-time now in a big bus/RV, so I've been everywhere and anywhere, and it really does work. One example: I was in a remote Alabama campground and their little access point was perhaps a few hundred feet away. With the internal Wi-Fi adapter in my Thinkpad (it's Mac/PC compatible), no go. With the Wi-Fire aimed carefully I got a solid, workable signal. I just rotate it around until I get the best signal. It does seem highly directional, too: an eighth-turn can make a huge difference and it's much, much stronger than with the internal adapter (the company claims up to 1000ft.). The big advantage, aside from the price, is that it uses a standard USB cable, so it can easily be extended and moved around unlike a Wi-Fi antenna which needs special cabling, connectors and isn't compatible with all Wi-Fi adapters. I keep dreaming up ways to do the ultimate, automatic long range communications antenna on the bus, but until then...


Thursday, November 15, 2007

High Quality Photo Resizer 4

High Quality Photo Resizer is an easy-to-use freeware for batch resizing of digital photos. With High Quality Photo Resizer you may make high quality small photos for publication on the internet or to send to friends and family. It supports many input formats: BMP, DIB, EMF, GIF, ICB, JPG, JPEG, PBM, PCD, PCX, PGM, PNG, PPM, PSD, PSP, RLE, SGI, TGA, TIF, TIFF, VDA, VST, WBMP, WMF. It supports 8 output formats: JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIF, TGA, WMF, EMF. It also enables you to add up to 37 effects (Sharpen, Mosaic, Tweak RGB, Colorize, Spray, Emboss, Blur, Gray Scale, Negative, Soften, Swirl, Tile, Wind, Contrast, Noise, Anti Alias, Fish Eye, Flip Horizontal, Flip Vertical, High Pass, Neontrace) to your photos.

Version 4 supports 8 output formats: JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIF, TGA, WMF, EMF.



Windows Vista Shutdown Fix

The Vista™ Operating system can experience delays during shutdown if
running a managed service that was designed with a
ServiceBase.OnShutdown method that does not explicitly call the
ServiceBase Stop() method on system shutdown. This update facilitates
quicker system shutdown by explicitly setting the service state to
stopped after calling their OnShutdown, if the service has not already
called the Stop() method.

Download Vista Shutdown Fix


Speeding up VNC on Vista By Limiting Visual Effects

As a computer field tech, I use the remote desktop program UltraVNC quite often. I utilize it mostly to connect to offsite computers so I can run diagnostics and repair remotely, if needed.

Recently, I ran into an issue with UltraVNC and Vista. I was able to connect but the desktop was slow to the point of being almost non-responsive. There was no way I would be able to diagnose let alone repair anything over that connection.

After adjusting various color depth and screen resolution options without any noticeable improvement in speed, it dawned on me that I was connected to an Aero enabled Windows Vista machine. Sure enough , when I disabled Aero, the remote desktop sprang back to life.Here’s how disable all Aero features for UltraVNC sessions.

Disable Visual Effects

Right click on Computer, and choose Properties.


Click on Advanced System Settings, and then under Advanced, click Settings.


Select the "Visual Effects" tab, and then click “Adjust for best performance” and OK.


I've found that this dramatically speeds up the remote connection. Note that you should probably re-enable the old setting
after you are done.

Editor's note: This is a helpful way to speed up any remote desktop solution, not only for VNC.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Free Font - Walt Disney

Drawing inspiration from various Disney logos, signage, and hand-titled
artwork, which attempts to capture the
spirit of the familiar Walt Disney logotype.

Download divshare

Download zizfile

One Care 2.0 Final - Coming Soon

Looks like OneCare 2.0 could be going gold very soon. As well as it showing up on with a retail release date of next week, an email sent to OneCare users tonight suggests that a web release will be even sooner than that. On top of that, the OneCare installation page has been unavailable for several hours tonight, which is always a good sign that a release is right around the corner.

For those of you already using OneCare, you should be prompted to upgrade once the new version is available, though you can still upgrade manually once its out. If you haven't been testing the OneCare 2.0 beta, you should read up on the new features before it launches - new features include multi PC management, centralised backups and much more. You never know, it might just catch your eye... ;)


Photoshop Brush - Roman Brush

Here is the free Abstract photoshop brush.

Download (divshare)
Download (zizfile)

The Toolbar Translator Button!


So many people said: I wish I had a simple button to translate a web page when I need it! Imagine: you browse for the latest digital camera information and before you know it, you end up on a Japanese web
page and you don’t understand what it says. Did you bookmark the URL to a web page translator? Wouldn’t it be convenient to just get an English translation of this Japanese site with a simple mouse click?

If it happened to you before that your browsing experience crossed over to a specific language, your Windows Live Toolbar button will remember the last language you needed a translation for. E.g. if it was from
Japanese to English, a simple click on your button wil l now give you anEnglish translation in our unique bilingual view along-side the Japanese original site. If you are, however, not in need of a Japanese-->English translation, but landed on a – say - French site, you can easily adjust the language selection in the bilingual viewer’s language drop down box. Or: you can expand the little downward arrow next to the toolbar button: cid:image002.png@01C82081.5EC49270 and choose which language selection you would like to see applied when the button is clicked:

With this toolbar button, web page translations are literally only a mouse click away. It doesn’t get much easier than that!! Try it out.


Nokia N810 firmware leaks, runs on N800

Although we can't see why you'd want to run anything except Palm OS Garnet in emulation on your Nokia N800 tablet, those of you aching for the latest and greatest are getting a little boost -- the firmware for the N810 leaked yesterday, and users have discovered it runs like a champ on the N800. The update boosts the processor to 400MHz, revs the browser to a
faster Mozilla-based core, and includes Skype video support. It's not a drag-and-drop upgrade -- you'll have to score an N810 serial number and have access to a Linux box -- but something tells us those of you who've snagged an N800 aren't going to be all too fazed by that.


Miro 1.0 Delivers the Video Web to Your Desktop

In an ideal world, every video, movie and TV show you ever wanted to
watch would be available for download direct from the source and you
could watch it where ever you pleased. But as long as that world
remains a fantasy, Miro 1.0 may well be your best alternative.

Miro is essentially an online video browser, aggregator and player.
Find content you like, turn it into a channel in Miro and the software
will monitor RSS feeds, alerting you whenever new videos are posted.
Once they download via the built in BitTorrent client, watch the videos
right inside the Miro player. Pretty much like you imagine internet TV
should be. The software is free, cross-platform and open-source.

On Tuesday morning, Miro released version 1.0 of its client. The
release comes after a long period of beta testing during which the app
has gained a cult following. If you’ve been using the recent preview
releases, you'll know what to expect, but if you haven’t checked out
Miro since it changed its name from Democracy Player, there’s a bunch
of new stuff to discover.

As part of the release, Miro has put a nice list of features, inspired by and somewhat similar to the one Apple released for Leopard.

For a full review of Miro, check out our earlier write up, but here’s run down of some new and often overlooked features:

  • Video Format Support — Miro claims it can play
    just about anything, MPEG, Quicktime, AVI, H.264, Divx, Windows Media,
    Flash Video, and more. I've yet to encounter a file that didn't play in

  • Video Playlists and Watched Folders — We raved about this feature
    last time and nothing has changed. Even if you aren’t grabbing all your
    video content through Miro, just tell the app where you’re storing it
    and it’ll show up in your playlists regardless of where you got it.

  • BitTorrent and RSS support — Miro can download
    individual BitTorrent files and torrents that are in feeds and you can
    subscribe to any video RSS feed you like. There’s even a setting to
    auto-download new videos whenever they show up in a subscribed feed.

  • Saved Search Channels — like smart folders
    essentially. If you search for a something specific across sites and
    you like the results, you can add it as a channel and new videos will
    appear that meet the saved search criteria.

  • Social site integration — Got a video you like
    and want to tell the world? Every video in Miro has quick links to post
    to Digg, Reddit,, and Video Bomb.

Miro 1.0 also takes a bold stand against main competitor Joost. The
revamped front door of the site has a huge banner reading "Better Than

In terms of interface and functionality, Miro has Joost beat (unless you're really big on chatting while you watch videos). However, Joost has a slight edge when it comes to exclusive content.

Of course the value of Joost's exclusive content is open to debate
as it depends entirely on individual taste. Perhaps as a step toward
the aforementioned utopia, someone will figure out a way to get Joost's
content into Miro's interface, but as far as I can tell that’s not
possible at the moment.

Still, when it comes to searching, finding and actually watching video, Miro is head and shoulders above Joost.

Download Miro 1.0


Unofficial Windows XP Themes Created by Microsoft

Anybody who has ever tried to change the theme in Windows will
already know that you have to hack the uxtheme file in order to install
themes into XP that aren't digitally signed by Microsoft. If you would
rather not or are unable to patch your system you might be interested
in these unofficial themes created by Microsoft.

There might be other themes out there, but these are the ones I know
about. Feel free to inform everybody in the comments if you know of any


This theme is really bright and blue… Just look at all that blue…


To install this theme you'll need to download, extract the zipfile,
and then run the installer. When prompted for the location to save the
files, leave it set to default.


Now you can go into your display settings and change the theme from the list.

Download Royale Theme from Softpedia

Royale Noir

This theme was supposed to be a darker version of the regular Royale
theme, but it wasn't really finished before somebody from Microsoft
published it, and it spread all over the web.


After downloading and extracting the zipfile, you'll need to copy
the royale_noir folder into C:\Windows\Resources\Themes and then
double-click on the Luna.msstyles file found in that directory and
change the settings to match the above screenshot.


Download Royale Noir theme from

Zune Theme

This theme was released to celebrate the Zune launch, and you'll
notice it's very similar to Royale Noir, except for the kinda ugly
orange start button. Long time readers will note that we've mentioned this theme before.


Installing this theme is really simple… download and run the installer.

Download Zune Theme from