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.

Codec woes? Can’t find a codec required to play a video file? Try VLC Player

Video Playback IssuesWhile for many of us, Windows Media Player may serve as a good enough tool for video playback, but it’s certainly got it’s problems. Lets face it – for most part it’s perfectly capable of playing DVDs, but performs miserably when it comes to playing wmv or mpeg files which are a couple of generations old. Our hard-drives are littered with such video clips that come as attachments along with mails and it can get really frustrating when you’re faced with a message saying “A codec is required to play this file. To determine if this codec is available to download from the Web, click Web Help.” More often that not, the so-called “Web Help”, which takes you to the Microsoft Codec download page doesn’t prove to be of much Help 😡 !!

For a long time, I have been searching utmost lengths for a freeware third-party application that would dutifully play all these files without a single hiccup. Media Player Classic, which resembles the old Windows Media Player 6.4, proved to be one of the strongest contenders in this category. Unfortunately, some of the older files still refused to play. This led me off on another relentless search till I came upon this “too-good-to-be-true” media player named VLC. This terrific utility by VideoLAN happens to be one of those miracle applications which is capable of playing back virtually every type of audio and video files without requiring you to download any of those godforsaken codecs. And that includes DVD & VCD movies too.

VLC Player for WindowsVLC is a free & open-source cross-platform media player – which means it can be run on literally any OS ranging from Windows, Mac OS-X, BeOS, FreeBSD and numerous flavours of Linux. It is highly portable and can play almost any formats like MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg etc. But it doesn’t end there. VLC can double up as a multimedia streaming server in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network. A full list of features is available here.

If you ask for an honest, unbiased opinion, I can’t really claim that this is THE ultimate media player ever – but yeah, I certainly haven’t come across a codec that this cool-tool cannot handle on its own. You can always give it a shot and provide some feedback on your own experience…

Tweak your Places Bar to reach frequently accessed drives & folders much faster

For people like me, who download a lot from the net and work with a wide-varitey of files spread over different drives, it’s an eternal headache to navigate between drives and folders every time I try to save some file. The common file dialog that is brought up by Windows (for saving & opening files) contains a Places Bar which is there to facilitate this task by providing you with links to some frequently accessed folders like the Desktop, My Documents etc. If you haven’t got a clue on what I’m talking about, here’s a picture that will help you recognise the so-called “Places Bar”.

Places Bar Screenshot

Personally, I hate it that there’s no mechanism in built into Windows that allows you to alter the links in the Places Bar to suit your needs. For example, I don’t save anything on the Desktop as such. So that link is totally useless for me. So is the My Network link. History doesn’t help me much either. For me a more convenient option would be if a couple of drives or folders to which I save files very frequently were listed there. That way I wouldn’t have to navigate up & down through several levels of folders or work my way down from My Computer. I’d always wondered if there was some registry tweak that’d tweak the Places Bar to suite my needs – but hadn’t managed to find any so far. That is, till I came upon this really light freeware utility called PlacesBar Tweakerâ„¢.

This cool-tool enables you to get rid of all the default icons in the Places Bar and replace them with any other System Folder icon or direct links to your most accessed folders. It even allows you to re-order the icons as you like. There aren’t much in the way of features in this software, except that it does exactly what it’s meant to do. Instead of trying to describe any further, I’ll show you the after effect of using this tool. As they say … a picture is worth a thousand words 😉

Modified Places Bar

There you go..You can grab this really useful utility for free from the ioIsland Site.

Cleared Recycle Bin and accidentally lost an important file? Here’s how to recover it

Recycle BinAm sure all of us have done it at some point of time i.e. just cleared out our Recycle Bins and then to our horror realised that some really important file has also taken a hike with it. Or maybe you were simply trying to act tech savvy on your friend’s computer and used Shift+Del to successfully wipe out a large chunk of his folders. Wooops !! 😀 There’s nothing one can do as such but to gawk at own stupidity under such circumstances. Well, not really !! As long as the file-system in use is NTFS, there is an east way out. NTFS Undelete is an excellent freeware tool that can recover almost any deleted file – whether it was deleted directly from the hard drive or from the Recycle Bin.

Is this some miracle tool that can recover any deleted file?

Well, almost! When a file is deleted, it’s contents still remain intact on the hard drive. However, the space it occupies is flagged as free and made available to any program requesting space to write a file. So the next file saved to the disk may actually overwrite the contents of the deleted file. Thus, if there’s no other disk write activity after you deleted your file there’s a 100% chance of getting it back.

Disk Write Activity! File Recovery! That sounds complicated…

Not at all. Recovering lost files using this software is as easy as working with Windows Explorer – which most of you are ultra-familiar with. In fact the software’s interface is almost identical to Windows Explorer and consists of a 2 pane view. When you select a particular drive / folder it takes a couple of seconds to scan through it and presents you with a list of files, just like Explorer except that in this case the deleted files are marked with a red cross.

NTFS Undelete Screenshot

The software is available for free download in the form of a Windows Installer (.msi) file as well as an ISO image that can be burnt on a CD and run directly.

Get NTFS Undelete

YamiPod for smoother management & backup of your iPod

YamiPod LogoiPod owners who’ve been frequenting my blog may have come across my earlier post on SharePod – which is an excellent freeware tool for managing your iPod as well as for backing up of all the tracks to your PC. SharePod’s biggest drawback is that the software hasn’t been worked on any further for a long period of time and if you consider the ultra-rapid evolution of computing technology, any software which fails to keep up with the pace is as good as dead. I don’t mean to say that SharePod is outdated by any means. It’s a great tool and does a great job of what it’s supposed to do. However there have been a lot of recent introductions, which do the same in a much better way and YamiPod happens to be one of them.

iPod PeopleSimilar to SharePod, YamiPod is this freeware utility that doesn’t require any installation as such. But unlike the former, YumiPod has done away with any need of the old OCX based common controls. Instead the whole software consists of a single executable file. Simply download, unzip and run. To top it all, the tool comes in three flavours, i.e. for Windows & Linux as well as for the Mac, leaving virtually no one disapppointed at the end of the day.

The list of features is quite exhaustive and can please a crowd with the most diverse demands. Here are some of the more important & much needed ones …

  • mp3 and AAC files can be copied to/from iPod
  • read/write access to mp3 id3 and AAC infos
  • playlists import / export (PLS,M3U)
  • full unicode compatibility
  • extensive search function
  • Bi-directional synchronization between PC & iPod or in other words, one-click backup of your iPod files
  • remove duplicated tracks
  • find lost music files
  • News RSS and podcasts to iPod upload
  • Growl support (Apple only)

There are several screen-shots available here. As of now, YamiPod is available in over 28 world languages making it a truly global choice in every way.

WarningJust hold your horses before you grab it and start playing with it. The software does seem a little buggy, albeit only a minor bit. No problems with the primary functions – but make sure you don’t try to run it before placing it on an iPod. I did exactly that from my Windows desktop causing my whole system to freeze unlike I’ve ever seen before. It probably went into an infinite cycle trying to search for an iPod and somehow ate up the whole CPU and clogged the USB bus. Even a cold reset didn’t help and my machine refused to boot at first… till I shut it down altogether and started it again. However, once I plugged my iPod in and ran it from that – all problems solved 🙂

Get YamiPod today.

GadWin PrintScreen: Best freeware & lightweight printscreen tool I’ve come across

PrintScreen ButtonThis tiny freeware utility from GadWin has got to be best freeware screen-capture tool I’ve ever come across. Recently, I was reading a review / comparison of some of the more popular screen-capture utilities and I was surprised to see the meagrely attention devoted to such an excellent piece of software. So I decided to go ahead and write my own review.

The reasons as to why I call this the best freeware are by far many. First of all, this software allows you to capture the screen in four different ways…

  1. Current Window – captures the whole of the currently selected window
  2. Client Window – captures the client area of any window you select. Client area means the content region of a window minus the title bar and borders
  3. Full Screen – captures the whole of the screen (similar to normal PrintScreen function of Windows)
  4. Rectangular Area – captures a rectangular zone of the screen that you drag and select

Along with this, if needed GadWin allows you to capture the mouse cursor in your screenshots – a GadWin PrintScreen Screenshotfeature rarely found in screen-capture utilities. There’s an option to capture time-delayed shots, which is useful for capturing submenus that take a triffle bit of time to open up.

If you’re oh-so-used to the PrintScreen Key of the keyboard, you can easily hook it up with GadWin PrintScreen by declaring it as the screen-capture hotkey. This will redirect all the screenshots to GadWin instead of the normal Windows clipboard. You’re free to define any key combination as your hotkey.

You can even specify the action to be performed after the screen is captured, i.e. whether to copy it to the clipboard or to print it directly. Other options include mailing it out to a pre-speficied email address and saving it automatically to a file.

Now this last option really comes in handy when you’re set to take a whole bunch of screen-shots serially.. say from a sports highlight. The software allows you to take multiple screenshots consecutively and automatically names your files in a serial order and saves them in a folder specified by you. I find this feature really useful and have got it set up as my default option. Whenever I press PrintScreen, it dumps the current screenshot as a file, which I can later edit to suit my purpose.

Moreover, you can specify the format in which the image is saved, i.e. GIF / JPEG / PNG etc. There are six different image formats to choose from. If you want your captured images to take on any particular dimension (size), that can be set too and the screenshot will get automatically resized to that prior to saving. Other than that, a shadow can be auto-added to the images if desired.

If only PrintScreen could capture irregular screen areas, it would definitely outshine all others in this category as the best all-rounder.

GadWin runs on Windows 95/98/ME/NT4/2000/XP and once installed sits as an icon in the System Tray. It can be customised to auto-load with Windows. What more could you want ?

Download GadWin PrintScreen for free.

Portable Apps: Your on-road productivity companion

Portable Apps SuiteLast week I’d written about a handy bundle of 37 essential PC Repair tools which easily fits on a 32MB USB Flash drive making it a really versatile and highly portable PC Recovery kit. I’ve been out on the hunt since then for more of such useful tools and recently came across this entire productivity suite which can be carried on a flash drive and worked on using any computer.

The suite is called Portable Apps and the tightly integrated bundle can be downloaded for free from their site. The bundle contains a web browser, email client, office suite, calendar/scheduler, instant messaging client, anti-virus, sudoku game, backup utility and integrated menu, all pre-configured to work portably.

Installation is extremely easy. Simply unzip the package on your portable drive and you’re good to go. The full package even includes a XAMPP (Apache, MySQL, PHP, phpMyAdmin) integrated web-server, portable GIMP, Media Players like Audacity & VLC and miscellaneous compression utilities.

What gives a big boost in the usability factor is that instead of being a loose bunch of utilities, you’re Portable Apps Menuprovided with a quick-access menu that acts as a central control / launch panel for all these apps. Moreover, these apps will work from literally any Windows compatible portable device like USB drives, iPod, portable hard drives etc.

Portable Apps suite comes in two flavours – Standard and Lite, none of which would fit on a measly 32MB flash drive. The Lite version, which is approx. 30MB in compressed form takes up around 105MB after installation. The Standard version can eat up almost 260MB space. While you just might be able to fit it on a 256MB drive, you’d be left with very little work space. The whole purpose of portability is defeated if you can’t carry your work around. I’d suggest at least a 512MB drive to give you some decent breathing room.

The advantages / conveniences of this suite are limitless. They’ve put up a nice summary on their site… to which I don’t think I can add much. So I’m going to quote it verbatim.

Possibilities

  • Carry your web browser with all your favorite bookmarks
  • Carry your calendar with all your appointments
  • Carry your email client with all your contacts and settings
  • Carry your instant messenger and your buddy list
  • Carry your whole office suite along with your documents and presentations
  • Carry your anti-virus program and other computer utilities
  • Carry all your important passwords and account information securely

The Convenience Factor

  • Have your favorite websites handy to recommend to a friend or colleague
  • Have your presentation AND the required software ready to go for that big meeting
  • Have your password with you if you want to bank online while traveling
  • Have utilities handy when visiting family or friends that are having PC problems

If you’re a supporter of the Open Source movement, you’d be happy to know that all the applications included in this package are built around the very same concept.

Get Portable Apps rightaway…

XP’rience Vista: Screenshots of open application in Taskbar

Life doesn't stop at this pointThis is the first post in a new series of tips & tricks that I’m going to run henceforth on my blog. The series will deal with accessorising Windows XP and enjoying a Vista like experience. The series will be called XP’rience Vista.

Vista is still going to take some time before it hits the general consumer market and even after it does so, it’ll take a good while to convert the majority of users out there. Till then, why not enjoy tasty bits of Vista delivered right on to your XP desktop !!

Here’s you first XP >> Vista transformation toy – Visual Task Tips. Windows Vista has got a new function integrated into it’s shell to display a miniaturised screenshot of a running application when you hover your mouse on the application tabs in your taskbar. This comes in handy when you have multiple instances of an application open (say multiple browser windows) and want to figure out what’s running where.

Visual Task Tips Screenshot

Instead of sending you off on a wild goose chase, the thumbnail previews actually helps you pin-point the application you wish to switch to, thus causing a big boost in your productivity.

The software has a few known limitations though. Certain applications like MS Word, MS Visual Studio, Windows Media Player, Autodesk 3DS Max etc. render themselves in unusual ways to improve performance. The thumbnails for such software may turn up as black, incomplete or corrupted. On the same note, it’s unable to show the previews for minimised windows. However, if a previous cached copy exists that is displayed instead.

The handy piece of code comes in a surprisingly small bundle – an installer 90KB in size or a zip package which is only 69KB. My advise is the don’t use a Download Manager to grab this utility. Since it uses a PHP based redirection script for the download, you might end up downloading a file called download.php and not the software itself. Employ your browser-based download mechanism instead.

Get Visual Task Tips today…

Royale (Noir) Theme for Windows XP updated to v1.4.6

A couple of days back I’d reviewed the ultra cool Royale Blue and Royale Noir Black themes for Windows XP. Both the themes came as part of a single theme file called msroyale. Along with that I’d also provided a link to the Zune theme, which is almost similar to Royal Noir, except for a touch of orange here and there.

Seems like recently there was an update in the theme pack and now all three themes (Royale, Royale Noir & Royale Zune) are available as part of a single theme installer pack named Royale Remixed. While you had to manually unzip the previous version in the Windows themes folder, this one comes in the form of an executable installer that does the whole installation part for you.
Here are a couple of screen-shots for you…

Royale (Blue)

Royale (Blue) Theme

Royale Noir (Black)

Royale Noir (Black) Theme

Royale Zune (Black & Orange)

Royale Zune (Black & Orange) Theme

I couldn’t find any official download location for this theme pack. However, they’d been put up for download on a couple of free file-hosting services, which surprisingly stopped working after a while. However, do not be disappointed 😀 I’ve uploaded them on alternate locations and here’s the list …

Note: The installer is kind of buggy and along with Royale, it installed a theme called Windows Media Center Edition (with all new icons), which I simply couldn’t get to work. If it works for you, do leave a comment.

P.S. I managed to find the original artist’s site for this theme-pack.

Repair / Recover your PC with a full-fledged Toolkit on a 32MB USB Flash Drive

PC Repair SystemThis rocking PC Repair System was the results of a 32MB USB Drive Contest held by Daily Cup of Tech. The contestants were required to come up with ideas on the most innovative usage of a 32MB USB drive and this submission came out as one of the clear winners.

The USB PC recovery toolkit contains 37 essential fix-it proggies, a couple of which I’ve reviewed here before. One of the criteria of this contest was that the software crammed onto the USB drive should either be freeware or opensource. This submission fully adheres to those terms. The kit also contains a handy interface to all these tools created by the folks at Daily Cup of Tech using the AutoIt scripting system.

Here’s a list of all the proggies…

Using this toolkit doesn’t involve anything complicated at all. All you’ve to do is download a compilation of these tools neatly wrapped into a 14.2MB Zip file. Once downloaded, extract the zip onto a USB drive with a capacity of 32MB or greater. Last step involves unplugging and reinserting the drive and you’re good to go.

This can help you fix laptops & PCs real quick – be it for your boss or your friends. The possibilities are endless.

Download the PC Repair System Toolkit.