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Free eBook: The Complete Windows 7 Shortcuts list

ebookThe Windows Club has just released a free eBook titled, “The Complete Windows 7 Shortcuts”.

Apart from an exhaustive list of more than 200 common and new keyboard shortcuts for Windows 7, this eBook contains introductory discussions on basic keyboard usage, organization of keys, typing & editing, creating custom shortcuts, etc.

The actual list of shortcuts covers the following areas:

  • General Windows functions keyboard shortcuts
  • Dialog box keyboard shortcuts
  • Windows logo key keyboard shortcuts
  • Windows Explorer keyboard shortcuts
  • Ease of Access keyboard shortcuts
  • Magnifier keyboard shortcuts
  • Remote Desktop Connection keyboard shortcuts
  • Keyboard shortcuts for MS Paint
  • Keyboard shortcuts for WordPad
  • Keyboard shortcuts for Calculator
  • Windows Journal keyboard shortcuts
  • Windows Help viewer keyboard shortcuts
  • Windows Media Player keyboard shortcuts
  • Internet Explorer keyboard shortcuts
  • Windows Media Center keyboard shortcuts

The eBook has been authored by Nitin Agarwal, a Windows 7 enthusiast and is available in both PDF and XPS formats with fully linked content index.

You can grab the eBook from here.

iSpring Free: Convert your PowerPoint presentations into Flash for sharing on the web

If you’ve ever wanted to share PowerPoint presentations on the web but cursed at the lack of of a way – iSpring Free can do it for you for free! It’s this really cool plug-in that inserts itself into PowerPoint and provides you with a button that creates a flash-based sideshow at a single click.

iSpring Free

And not just that – in case you wanted to incorporate flash animations / movies into a normal PowerPoint presentation, iSpring Free can do that for you as well. The free version doesn’t offer much in the way of choices – for that you’ve to go Pro. iSpring Pro offers a horde of custom transition effects,  animations, sound syncing, embeddable hyperlinks, custom slide-show player etc. However, for our daily use, this is by far one of the best options.

There are quite a few online services like SlideShare which convert as well as host the slide-shows for you – but then again, there’s a question of branding. All such hosted presentations come branded with SlideShare’s logo. With iSpring Free you’re totally free to brand it the way you like…

BSOD revisited

Here are two extremely funny renditions of the infamous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) that is such a part and parcel of the whole Windows series… I dug them up from this site today.

Banging on the BSOD

BSOD after downloading 99%

Have fun !

A quick remedy to speed up / resume your file copy process in Windows

The default file copy method in Windows (any given version) is severely handicapped. First and foremost – it’s SLOW. The probably the worst part of it is that there’s no way to resume on error. Supposing your file copy operation throws up an error (say, due to some problems while reading the source) – you don’t have any method at your disposal to get rid of the problematic files/folders and resume with the rest. On most occasions the error will cause the entire source file list to be deselected and you’ve to start right from scratch !!

This gets particularly nasty when you’re copying a particularly complex selection of files and folders. Upon aborting it’s invariably that same Ctrl / Shift + Click routine all over again. This is where two nice little freeware utilities can help you go a long way. Both the tools create hooks onto the default copy operation of Windows and automatically takes charge whenever you’re copying or moving files.

The first one is TeraCopy – a freely downloadable tool from Code Sector. I came to know about this tool while discussing about CubicExplorer. Now that I’ve brought it up, CubicExplorer is this awesome , feature-rich tabbed file explorer that I’ve been using for a long while now. It can do about a hundred different things that you’ve always wished in the default Windows Explorer but never got. This brings to light a very important question – has MS entirely stopped on furthering the development of their file explorer?? Through all these versions of Windows I never saw a single change except for the eye-candy! Anyway, more on CubicExplorer later – as it deserves it’s own post. Back to the topic.

TeraCopy Compact View
TeraCopy – Compact View

TeraCopy Expanded View
TeraCopy – Expanded View

Here’s what TeraCopy can do for you…

  • Copy files faster. TeraCopy uses dynamically adjusted buffers to reduce seek times. Asynchronous copy speeds up file transfer between two physical hard drives.
  • Pause and resume file transfers. Pause copy process at any time to free up system resources and continue with a single click.
  • Error recovery. In case of copy error, TeraCopy will try several times and in the worse case just skips the file, not terminating the entire transfer.
  • Interactive file list. TeraCopy shows failed file transfers and lets you fix the problem and recopy only problem files.
  • Shell integration. TeraCopy can completely replace Explorer copy and move functions, allowing you work with files as usual.
  • Full Unicode support.

None of the features, I believe, require any further explanation. Code Sector has a Pro version of the same too – available for a nominal licensing fee – but with a horde of extra features.

Point to be noted here. While TeraCopy does significantly boost the file copy speeds – this is applicable only to the larger files and folders. There’s this added overhead of firing up TeraCopy’s engine (everytime you copy/move a file), which actually degrades performance for smaller files and folders. At least that’s how it behaved on my system.

Now comes the other contender – Copy Handler, the free and open source sibling of TeraCopy. I came across this much later although it came as a very pleasant surprise. It can do everything that TeraCopy does, PLUS MORE. It’s simply packed to the core with tonnes of features and tweaks.

Copy Handler - Small View
Copy Handler – Small View

Copy Handler - Full View
Copy Handler – Full View

And here’s a list of the main features…

  • Copying data at rates up to 6-7 times faster than standard MS Windows copying (when copying data from one partition to another on the same physical hard disk).
  • Allows full-control over the copying/moving process by pause, resume, restart and cancel features.
  • Fully customizable – over 60 detailed options – from setting language (multiple languages) through auto-resume on error, shutting down system after copying finished to very detailed and technical (customizing copy/move thread – buffer sizes, thread priority, …) ending on sounds on specific events.
  • Multi-lingual support – with more new languages appearing everyday, since the translation process is quite easy.
  • Provides detailed information about copy/move process (current file, buffer sizes, priority, progress by size and visual bar, status, current and average speed, time elapsed/left etc.)
  • Can automatically resume all unfinished operations when system restarts.
  • Limits the number of simultaneously processing tasks (copies/moves) thus reducing system overhead. Instead, tasks are set into a queue and are processed in order it was inserted into queue.
  • Integration with system – adds additional commands to context menus of folders and drag & drop menus.

Phew! That’s quite a list of features. I wonder what the creator(s) haven’t thought of including yet! I used these tools for a week each and my conclusion is that Copy Handler does perform a lot better than TeraCopy – both for small and large files. And with all the tweaks you can make it turbo-charged – which isn’t really possible with TeraCopy.

Why don’t you give both TeraCopy and Copy Handler a try – and share your views with us?

LC ISO Creator: Probably the smallest (and portable) no-frills ISO maker

Here’s a quick pointer. If you want an CD/DVD ISO Image Creator that does just what it’s intended to do, you should try this fantastic freeware named LC ISO Creator.

It’s this incredibly tiny download (14kb compressed) and runs straight out of box – i.e. no installation is required. It doesn’t require any crappy driver installation either. This can make it an invaluable addition to the PortableApps Suite.

LCISOCreator Screenshot

The interface is very minimalistic and doesn’t sport any Settings or Options dialog. It took me around 9 minutes to convert a 3GB DVD into it’s ISO counterpart – pretty good for such compact coding. It even support Unicode. Your only qualm might be that it cannot handle copy-protected disks. Who cares! There are plenty of specialised tools for that.

This one’s headed straight for my PortableApps folder on my USB key.

AllBootDisks: Your ultimate resource (direct downloads) for Windows boot disks

AllBootDisks LogoI can’t live for long without re-installing my Windows. It stems out of this habit of downloading all the junk in the world and trying them out. Of course, this is quite necessary for me to be able to write decent reviews of the various cool tools that I keep mentioning every so often. The end result is that my system bogs down to a crawling pace at an exponential rate due to all the residual junk. Besides, I love the feel of a freshly installed copy of Windows. So there…

On some of these re-installation phases I’ve come up against hard brick walls, namely, scratched installation disks rendering them unbootable. Or at times I’ve rendered my hard-drive unbootable while trying to do (and learn) some low-level editing of the MBR (Master Boot Record) which was further compounded by that unbootable Windows installer disk. Whatever be the case, one always needs to be able to access the Windows partition to backup certain crucial configuration files and data prior to the clean install. Trust me, there’s always a need for that. And having access to the boot partition is quite necessary for this.

That is where AllBootDisks come in handy. If you’re in dire need of a Windows boot disk, this is the perfect place to look for one. They’ve got ready-to-download-and-burn ISO images of all possible versions & variations of Windows starting from WIndows 95 and even for MS-DOS. Windows 98, 2000, ME, NT, XP Home, XP Pro – to name a few. All you need is access to a friend’s computer with a CD burner and a net connection. You’ll have your boot CD up and running in a jiffy.

So, now you know where to look for if you’re suffering from booting horrors. Simply chant AllBootDisks.

A hands-free automated online backup system called IDrive-E

Bulldog with HeadacheLoss of critical data can prove to be one of the most horrifying nightmares specially if it involves official documents. Worst case scenario could lead to one getting sacked. And even if it’s only personal documents, who would ever want to see years of fond memories (photographs, videos etc.) disappear overnight due to some silly hardware malfunction ! The importance of having a proper backup mechanism cannot be stressed on enough.

Home computer backups are usually consist of burning a couple of folders onto a CD/DVD – but more often than not we burn our data once in a blue moon and maintain an oblivious stance for the rest of the time. Very few of us are able to follow a stringent weekly backup schedule. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have some sort of mechanism which would carry out this job for you all on it’s own ? Something on the lines of Click-Once and Forget-It ? Well, there IS.

IDrive-E LogoJust today I came across this automated online backup system named IDrive-E. This service comes with a pretty intuitive backup software which you’ve to install on your computer. Once done, simply point it to your critical data which needs to be backed-up on a regular basis and that’s about it. Periodic continuous backups (with intervals as low as 10mins.) keep happening on their own. Incremental backups are possible too – and the backup mechanism fires up the moment you modify a file on your computer. The backup account doubles up as a file-sharing and collaboration system too. You can grant access to any file / folder stored on the IDrive-E servers to anyone you wish to. The storage space is also mapped onto your computer as another drive, giving you drag-and-drop restore functionality in Windows Explorer. Incidentally, IDrive-E gives you a rudimentary version control system too, in the sense that you can revert back to any of 30 prior versions of a document.

As for the free part – you heard it right! This service is available free of cost to personal / home users albeit with a 2GB space limit. Unlimited storage quota can be acquired by upgrading your account to one of the paid plans which start around $49.50 annually (about $4.95 a month). A pretty inexpensive deal I’d say.

But is it safe to transmit all your personal documents to a remote storage location like this? Absolutely ! All communication with the backup server at IDrive-E are done through an 128-bit encrypted channel and on the server a 256-bit AES encryption routine secures your files with a key that is generated by you.

With IDrive-E, forgetfulness isn’t a vice anymore.

Get rolling with your free account today…

Change your default Bengali font in Windows XP with Font-fixer

Bengali Character SetIf you do a whole lot typing in Bengali and are bothered by the fact that XP always gets you started with that ugly font named Vrinda, here’s a quick fix for you. Font Fixer is a tiny utility (72 KB) that provides you with a one-step solution for setting you default Bengali font in XP to whatever other font you desire.

Under normal circumstances this isn’t directly possible as XP doesn’t come with any configuration option related to this. This feature is sort of hard-coded into Windows. With Font Fixer, you …

just select which font you want to make default for Bangla language, and with just a simple reboot, no patch and system file change, you get it, in a safe and easy way and restore the original setting anytime.

The noteworthy features of this little tool are:

  • Font Fixer Screenshot

    The ability to revert back to the original settings at any point of time.

  • Being able to set the default font (for Bengali Language) in Internet Explorer – a bit of information that is used by your computer to display a Bengali web-page when no embedded font information is found on the site.

  • Automatic font-smoothing using ClearType.

  • Auto-detection of Bengali fonts installed on your system, so that you don’t have to wade through thousands of fonts in order to set the default one.

Regular users of Avro Keyboard – the English to Bengali phoenetic transliteration software will find this tool particularly useful.

Give it a shot and let me know how helpful you found this tool to be.

TrueCrypt: A Free Opensource On-the-fly Disk Encryption tool

Usage of file / disk encryption has been long prevalent – but never like that of the present times. With the explosive growth of the internet and consequently ever-increasing risk of hacking, protection of one’s private / sensitive data has gained utmost importance. There are hundreds of methods of encryption which can be used for this purpose – all with varying degrees of flexibility – but broadly they can be categorised into File based or Disk based methods.

TrueCrypt is a disk-based encryption system which allows you to create & maintain on-the-fly encrypted volumes. On-the-fly means that the data is automatically encrypted / decrypted right before loading & saving – without any human intervention. In effect, you allot a storage area on your hard drive to TrueCrypt, which then creates a dynamic encrypted volume there that acts like a separate drive. Whatever data you write to this drive get automatically encrypted. Likewise it is auto-decrypted when you try to load it.

The process is so transparent and quick that you don’t even feel the presence of such a system. However, such drives are protected by master password(s) / key file(s) specified by you and no data stored on such an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password / keyfile(s).

The advantages are apparent immediately. First and foremost, you won’t have to remember to encrypt your confidential data separately (file-by-file). Whatever you write to the volume is automatically encrypted. Secondly, files can be copied to and from a mounted TrueCrypt volume just like they are copied to / from any normal disk (for example, by simple drag-and-drop operations).

I’d used similar licensed software earlier on and a notable one among them was Stealth Disk. However, TrueCrypt beats all of them hands down any day as it’s a completely free product and it offers a far wider array of features and stronger encryption algorithms.

Apart from that, the encrypted volumes can be made to be portable or created directly on removable storage like USB flash drives. This greatly aids you in carrying sensitive data around, guaranteeing that it can’t be misused if the flash drive gets stolen / falls in the wrong hands.

TrueCrypt even has a Linux version, making it an almost platform independent solution. Soon to be announced – TrueCrypt for Mac OS-X.

TrueCrypt main interface

Features:

Among the prominent features of TrueCrypt are …

  • The ability to create a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk
  • Encryption of an entire hard disk partition or a storage device such as USB flash drive
  • Automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent encryption process
  • Two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password. Now this is a really ingenious feature. They’ve taken into account the fact that you might be held at gunpoint and made to reveal your password to your TrueCrypt volume. For this they allow you to create a hidden volume inside an outside volume. It’s the hidden volume that contains your actual data and is enclosed in an outer volume along with some decoy files to throw your attacker off. In case you’re forced to reveal the password – you open up only the outer volume to your antagonist and thus lead him to the decoys. Your actual data is still safe.Moreover, it is impossible to identify a TrueCrypt volume. Until decrypted, a TrueCrypt volume appears to consist of nothing more than random data (it does not contain any kind of “signature”). Therefore, it is impossible to prove that a file, a partition or a device is a TrueCrypt volume or that it has been encrypted.
  • Support for a wide variety of encryption algorithms like AES-256, Blowfish (448-bit key), CAST5, Serpent, Triple DES, and Twofish for encrypting the volumes as well as the ability to re-encrypt a volume with another algorithm at a later point of time.

This is one really useful tool to have in your collection …any day any time.

Download TrueCrypt and try it out … today !