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.

DNSRank: New kid in the same old block

DNSRank is an all new juvenile entrant in a jungle full of raging tigers. What I mean to say is that, they’ve decided to join the whole SEO bandwagon with almost no originality on their part – which might make it very difficult for them to survive for long.

The site definitely has that Web 2.0 jazz & sparkle to it and is very well laid out. They describe themselves as a “Domain Evaluation Tool” – but I’m sorry to say that they fall way short of expectations in this quarter. Eye-candy isn’t all !! Lets face the reality. There are plenty of age old predators in this field, starting from web-based services like SEOMoz & Xinu to awesome Firefox extensions like SeoQuake, SEOpen & SearchStatus. Most of these tools give far more comprehensive information and Search Engine Optimization tips than the barebone skeletal outline offered by DNSRank. While utilising their service, I couldn’t find a single tool that could spike my interest… except maybe for the section that displays sites which share the same IP as yours. Then again, there are plenty of other services on the net that cater to just this, as a simple Google Search reveals.

DNSRank is still in it’s infancy. Running their own tool on their own domain reveals that even the domain registration is just 29 days old (on the date of writing this review). Judging by it’s age, we can certainly cut some lax. If they have market domination (or at least gaining a large percentage) in mind, they’ve already lost out of the beginning battle. They totally failed to cash in on the element of surprise (by introducing new tools & tricks) – which is so common to any Web 2.0 startup these days. If they’re really out to set a mark on the wall, they need to strive much much harder than this.

Gmail Labs! Google rolls out another surprise…

So Google’s at it again! Last night this all new link titled Gmail Labs materialised out of thin air in my Gmail interface. It turned up in one of my accounts only – which means Google’s rolling it out gradually – just as they’ve done with their earlier surprises. So expect it to turn up in your inbox sooner or later. Till then, keep a watch out for a bold, red link that says New! Gmail Labs right beside the Settings link.

And what’s cooking in the Gmail Labs?

From what I figured, the Gmail Labs will act as the stage for the introduction of a bunch of useful as well as fun plug-ins coded by Google’s staff and/or independent developers. These plug-ins will add extra functionality to various aspects of the Gmail interface. Provided along with each plug-in are feedback links. Those which receive the highest votes will probably be integrated into Gmail in future, while the poor performers will be taken off-air immediately.

Examples

Gmail Labs Settings Screen

Quick Links: This will provide a bookmarking container for your most frequently accessed links and fit in smugly in the leftmost column of the Gmail interface. You can use it for saving frequent searches, important individual messages, and more.

Superstars: Tired of the STAR icon that helps you mark important messages? Superstars will add in a bunch of multi-coloured icons (exclamation marks, check marks etc.) with which you can clearly demarcate mails of varying degree of importance.

Pictures in chat: This will help is displaying your and your friends’ Gmail profile pic. in the embedded GTalk window while you chat.

Others include Fixed-Width Font, Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, Mouse Gestures, Random Signatures etc. The whole list can be found in the Gmail Labs Settings page – which appears as a separate tab under the Settings link.

What if the plug-ins mess-up my Gmail interface?

Google’s kept an escape hatch ready for you in case any of these plug-ins behave abnormally. Simply follow this link to temporarily disable the Gmail Labs feature » http://mail.google.com/mail/?labs=0

I found the first two in the list particularly useful. How about you?

befunky: Cartoonize your favourite pictures in a jiffy

Here’s the latest addition to the Web 2.0 bandwagon – befunky – a quick & dirty way to cartoonize your favourite snaps in a jiffy.

The site sports a simple flash interface that allows you to upload your snaps (either from your Desktop or by direct capture through a webcam) and convert them to cartoon caricatures. There are a couple of easy-to-understand parameters like Sketch, Colour, Warp and Goodies which can produce widely varying end-results. You can crop or rotate the picture once you’ve uploaded it, adjust the brightness & colour levels, apply different warp brush sizes as well as do a multiple variations of flipping & layering. You can even add frames, modify facial features (hair, lips, eyes etc.), throw in accessories like jewelry, eyeware & hats and top it up with some custom funky text. The resultant pictures are really cool! Here’s a simple example with the most basic effect applied.

befunky: Before & After

Soon to come is a new feature that’ll allow you to transcend the boundaries of static pictures and apply the same effects to videos as well. Oh Yes! Full-length running videos. Ain’t that awesome?

The site sports a comprehensive Tips & Tricks section which gives you creative tips on how to best utilise the toons you’ve just created, which range from personally branded merchandise to e-cards and ways to spice-up your costume parties. All in all a very easy-to-use and useful web-application that can find a large audience – specially in graphically challenged people, like me 😀 Can prove to be a viable option for those who don’t have access to Adobe Photoshop and it’s plethora of filters.

Found via: System Hacks