Saturday, November 24, 2007

ClamWin Antivirus Glue - for Firefox

This extension scans every downloaded file automatically with ClamWin.

I use Clamwin at home and the only grouse that I have against it is that it still does not have a realtime access scan. A way out of it would be to use the previously talked about WinPooch. But is it not better to nip the evil at the bud? I mean its better if we scan the file the moment its downloaded from the browser automatically. I had used this Firefox extension a very long time back but with the new releases of the browser the official copy somehow seems to have been moth balled.

After some tries I did find it here

In case you don't have Winpooch but are a dedicated Firefox user like me ;) this add-on is a must!

Can someone point me to its IE equivalent please?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HandBrake -multiplatform, multithreaded DVD to MPEG-4 converter

HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded DVD to MPEG-4 converter, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows.

Installed Size on Hard Drive: 10MB
Memory Footprint while running(not ripping): 22,256KB
User friendliness/ease of use: Pretty Straightforward. The presets cover most output formats.
Similar to: many closed source variants, but did not find them any better than this

Can be used (and is famous for the same) to rip audio/video from a DVD for the iPod. Obviously can also be used for ripping a DVD to the hard drive in a different format. This will enable us to save the dvd copy at a smaller size on the disk and also archive the same.

Links with steps for using HandBrake for iPods:
The-complete-guide-to-converting-dvds-to-ipod-format-mac
Rip_DVDs_for_iPod
iPod-dvd-ripping-guide

Latest release as we speak: HandBrake 0.9.1
Direct Download Link: Windows GUI
The command Line Version: Windows CLI (i386 Binary)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

RockBox -Open Source Jukebox Firmware

Rockbox is an open source firmware for mp3 players, written from scratch. It runs on a wide range of players:

* Apple: 1st through 5.5th generation iPod, iPod Mini and 1st generation iPod Nano
(not the Shuffle, 2nd/3rd gen Nano, Classic or Touch)
* Archos: Jukebox 5000, 6000, Studio, Recorder, FM Recorder, Recorder V2 and Ondio
* Cowon: iAudio X5, X5V, X5L, M5 and M5L
* iriver: H100, H300 and H10 series
* SanDisk: Sansa c200, e200 and e200R series
* Toshiba: Gigabeat X and F series (not the S series)
* More players are in development


One of the most undervalued software of our times RockBox can really make an iPod rock. Kudos to team of RockBox to hack through closed firmwares and come up with an excellent replacement for many known music player software (in layman terms). RockBox to a music player is like Linux for a computer. RockBox understands the machine and helps play music in various file formats on your electronic music player. It can completely replace the proprietary (and time times completely lackluster) software running on your player.

Check out why RockBox is better than the original: http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/WhyRockbox

Other than supporting larger number of file formats which it can play on a player, it also significantly improves the player efficiency. Other than a host of benefits you also have the ability to give a unique face lift to your player through its themes and display options.

I have personally installed RockBox on my 80GB iPod (which also frequents as my USB drive). With RockBox I dont need iTunes or a separate manager for managing my songs on the iPod. I just copy the songs directly from my Windows box to the iPod drive. This has immense benefits as I can now share the songs with anyone I want just as I would do from a portable drive and also play the same songs on my ipod. RockBox also has its own video player which means I don't have to convert the videos (.avi) to see them on the iPod, I can directly play them without any conversion.

My remorse with RockBox and iPod has been its hunger for power. The battery life seems to be much less than what I would get from Apple's firmware. The RockBox team seems to be working on it and I more hopeful about them resolving the problem than Apple freeing up the player from their proprietary format.

Installation might seem a bit difficult but if you follow the simple and excellent procedure as mentioned in the documentation I am sure you will be able to start RockBox in a few minutes.

If you are concerned about the warranty I would suggest that you don't try RockBox. But if you are brave enough I will say that you can always reformat the iPod later with its original software to get it back as new (on the software front atleast). So go ahead and have a rocking time with RockBox on your MP3 player or iPod.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ASuite - A simple application launcher


ASuite is a simple application launcher to manage an unlimited number of files, folders and webpage for quick access. It is designed to work with removable storage (uses relative paths) media like USB sticks, hard drives, iPods, etc.

I found ASuite while reading about Launchy(now at V1.25) in Wikipedia. This was the only other open source application Launcher which worked on Windows other than Launchy of course. Its a tiny piece of program which sits on your system tray and has a indexed and sorted list of files/folders/shortcuts/executables listed in it. The initial setup is as simple as adding a folder from the drive and scanning it for files (of any types). Once indexed we can traverse and execute the item from ASuite. There is a feature of searching through the indexed data (it is not Search As You Type!) and finding the required item and initializing it from the same window.

Though not as wonderful and easy as Launchy it is a simple program, which has been supposedly made to carry your links on a removable drive. But I am not very sure if it would be able to execute the indexed program or link when used in a different machine, even if it says that it indexes items relative to the system (and hence is portable). Anyways if you prefer a system tray icon and a mouse based quick launcher ASuite should suffice very well. Much better than many similar bloated and thick apps available at a price.

ASuite Features
* Manage list, organized in categories and subcategories
* Execute (one or more at once) software, folder or url
* Execute software on ASuite's startup or shutdown
* Trayicon Menu
* Lightweight: only 460KB
* Import lists of: winPenPack Launcher 1.x, PStart 2.0x e ASuite 1.x
* Most Recently Used (MRU)
* Can be used on any support
* Multilanguage (italian and english
* Restore session after crash
* Cache function (speed up asuite's startup)
* Software relased under GPL license

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

AllPeers - DRAG 'N' SHARE

The thing with the detailing about a software is that there are already enough people who would have talked about it, reviewed it and asked many others to use it.
AllPeers is one which has been doing a frequent round of reviews, talks, opinions, gossips and what not all over the wide web world for a very long time now!

In simple terms AllPeers is a simple way to share files and chat securely. Almost the same way you would do with other IM clients which have file sharing capabilities. It became open source according to its developers on "Wednesday March 07th 2007, 7:40 pm" (the post on their blog "AllPeers Goes Open Source"). Well at least the client side code is open but I am still not sure about the server side of it. Its integrated with Firefox(you know Firefox right?) as an extension. The source is very tightly integrated with the Mozilla Firefox browser source. Internally the client is modeled as a P2P client based on the bit torrent protocol.
Read what people have said and are saying:
1. AllPeers: Killer app for Firefox?
2. Best new Firefox addin: AllPeers
3. Firefox add-ins lets you easily share files online.
4. AllPeers in Wired
5. Google AllPeers or Yahoo AllPeers

So whats in AllPeers for you. There are a few according to its developers (I will add mine as well)
1. Its a IM and file transfer client, 2 in 1
2. The chat is secure
3. The file transfer (since it uses a P2P model) is supposedly fast
4. It opens in the Firefox sidebar, has drag and drop capabilities.
5. Its private file sharing and almost untraceable. Files are only shared when both the partners are online and only to the ones you want to.
6. It works through firewalls.

What its not and what I did not find it to be.
1. It is not a mass file sharing bit torrent client. It cannot download torrents for us. It would be fun to have it too though, it anyways has the bit torrent protocol support. There is a future upcoming release which will enable it to be a bit torrent client (sometime in September).
2. It is not as fast as it claims. I did try it and it was not spectacularly as fast as claimed. I think I found the reason - its the bit torrent relation it has. The speed is considerable or really observed when you have more friends with whom you share the same file. I tried sharing a file with one friend and it was very slow but the moment I shared the same with another online friend I could see the speed increasing (but not massive mind you). I concluded that the speed of transmission is directly proportional to the number of online friends with whom the file is being shared.
3. The system is not yet very stable - with friends being displayed offline and online in between and at different instances.

But if you wish to have bit torrent capabilities for Firefox and need a quick way to share a large file with many friends then AllPeers could be a good open source choice for you.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Miranda - The Lightest IM on Earth!

Miranda IM is an open-source multi protocol instant messenger client for Microsoft Windows. It's smaller, faster, easier! More about Miranda IM

I have been itching to talk about Miranda for some months now. I have used Psi before (its light) and have liked it too. But currently Miranda has taken its spot for really being the lightest and fastest one amongst all IMs I have used. Checking the memory usage when Miranda is loaded I found it to always hover around 6-7MB. The least being a steady 3.50MB and max up to 10MB. And this is with the few plugins I added to Miranda to make it work jazzier. Thats another interesting aspect of Miranda, the plugin section which has quite a few community provided plugins which add extra glitz to the IM. I have for example: popups, extra menu options etc...
Most of these plugins are small dll files which you have to put in Miranda's plugin directory to get them recognised and activated. Simple yet efficient the mark of a very good software. I have been using it for sometime and my only qualms have been its unfashionable looks and at times difficult to 'find' right plugins. Mind you it works excellently well without any plugin anyways. Since its multi protocol (I have AIM, Yahoo and Gtalk together) it suits my needs perfectly well as I don't have to open different chat clients together each trying to be a bigger hog on my system than the other. Even Gtalk supposed to be one of the lightest IMs, is way heavy and huge compared to Miranda. Obviously this is only a text IM and I did not see voice chat, IM environments, jumping smilies, new shade effects etc...

But in case you are looking for a truly light, simple, multi protocol, really free, stable and a Instant Messenger then look no further - Miranda is one of its kind.

The latest release of Miranda as I write is: 0.6.8 Download Now

A month away!

A month without a entry here! WoW!
Not that I have been lazy but just spending my time away from the rush and run.
I needed sometime to realise and fix some things which had been hanging. Answers always reach from the hollow and the empty (this has never proved better than in this case for me). I had to find out if I really wanted to write about open source applications, if this really meant something for me, is there something more I can do...
Lots of questions and only a month to think about them. I wonder what about the bigger questions, when do I get time for them?
Anyways I guess I have climbed down from my own hill and will continue now again.
The quest to...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Microsoft Vs Open Source (Again!)

Microsoft is at it again! Well who would it be against? Not a difficult guess to make here.

Read more about their new war cries here from money.cnn.com

The print copy of the same article is here.

There are some very excellent points raised by both the parties. I am not going to take sides here but would like to share my few cents on it. Any idea which becomes an integral part of the larger community can not be kept locked and stocked for long. And if proprietary software companies have a grudge against people who have come up with a better solution without hacking into theirs and on their own, they should better theirs, than trying to fight with the heads of the rest of us. Sooner or later people will find a way on their own and then that way is no more for one alone.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How to convert PDF to Word?

I got this email from my friend a few days back:
"Hi, do you have any idea of a software that I could use to convert pdf to Word. I'm working on a movie but I've got the script in PDF... I want to convert it to Word. I tried but i am not able to copy it... any idea???"

Most probably the PDF has the text as image (likely because its a scanned page stored in PDF). It is usually difficult to copy text out of such PDF documents unless the parser is able to use some character recognition to figure out the text.

But the question is can we carry out a conversion of a document in PDF to MS Word?
I tried to search and did find many softwares to do so but all turned out to be closed source, costly and at times not good enough. I was looking for a open source option to do the same.

So finally I advised him to use PDFtoHTML to convert the pdf document to html and then use MS Word to open the same copying the text out from there.

I know this is a cross country trip but if someone has a better way to carry out the same using only open source software please let us know.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

KeePass - Password Manager

KeePass is a "free, open-source, light-weight and easy-to-use password manager."

KeePass is your master key to all your locks. It is a better way of saving, storing and tracking your password in your computer. No doubt it is better than having them around in some text file or draft email copy (I know we do that!). For quite sometime I have been saving my growing and ever increasing web logins and passwords in a text file. But then I realised that somehow it was getting difficult each day managing them from there. Plus I have a collection of UNIX boxes with weird passwords on each. I had to look out for a open source password manager. I played around with two and am currently using KeePass.

The other open source password manager which I tried was "Password Safe".

There are some stark reasons for me sticking to KeePass:
  • KeePass has an excellent GUI and is easy on the eyes and friendly to use
  • It allows between two very powerful encryption algorithms to choose for encrypting the password storage file: AES(Rijndael) or Twofish
  • KeePass 1.x is portable and does not require a install. It truly does not store anything anywhere in the system other than the password database.
  • Import/Export the database file from/to a range of formats like TXT, HTML, XML and CSV
  • It provides options to make groups, subgroups, trees, attach files (PGP signature files) etc.
  • Auto-Type, Global Hot Key, Drag-n-Drop
  • A nifty and strong built-in password generator
  • Has a plugin based architecture.
  • The application along with its files occupies only about 888KB of disk space with its actual size being close to 873KB (The storage file or DB has not been included here - its going to be as big as the number of entries - typically 5KB for 14 entries in my machine)
  • Occupies a steady 8MB-10MB of system RAM or memory when open (much more than "Password Safe")
The upcoming release with some more new features, KeePass 2.x is for Windows XP and requires the .NET runtime to be set. I would have been happier if they would have left the .NET out of this, I as a user with very less system RAM did not have too many happy experiences with .NET

Download KeePass 1.0.6 install package : KeePass-1.06-Setup.exe
Download KeePass 1.0.6 zipped package: KeePass-1.06.zip
Released on: 2006-10-14 10:23

A wonderful thing about using password manager is that I can be sure that the passwords generated are the most difficult ones to crack.

The sad part about using a password manager like KeePass is that I have to carry the database with me and also have KeePass to be able to open it. One way is to store the password data file and KeePass application in a USB drive. But I have seen instances where USB drives are not permitted to be used (though floppies are, don't ask me why!) and then we will be without access to anything much than the master password.

Well there seems to be a online solution to a part of the problem (partly open source as the libraries for encryption are open source) called Clipperz.

But if you are a deskaholic/laptaholic and online most of the time, have numerous logins, think that the extra space saved by not remembering all the passwords can be reused, have a USB key chain to flaunt (with something in it!) or just want to try out a cool looking open source password manager then KeePass would be your one stop solution.

Be safe:
Remember whatever be the encryption algorithm or software solution; you are only as safe as the complexity of the password.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Introduction to Open Source Apps by CNET.com

A quick link to a video introduction of some popular and free open source alternatives available for Windows. The show is presented by Tom Merritt, executive editor of CNET.com

See it directly here below:



Bottom line - why pay when you have better and excellent alternatives in the Open Source Universe which are "completely free" ?.

Enjoy Your Own Open Source!