Registrar Lite: A really Powerful & Free Registry Editor

Registrar Lite is a powerful & immensely flexible registry editor for WinXP/2000/NT/ME/9x that offers a horde of necessary features that are totally lacking in the standard registry editor (RegEdit) packaged with Windows. It’s brought to you by Resplendence Software.

Registrar Lite sports a Windows Explorer like two-pane interface with a handy navigation toolbar. The features include…

  • Background Search and Replace – which, unlike RegEdit doesn’t stop you from browsing the registry while a search is taking place.
  • Clipboard support (which means Cut/Copy/Paste) with drag & drop for registry values and keys.
  • A cool Bookmark Editor which allows you to add custom descriptions to the bookmarked keys. This is really useful in organising all those cool registry hacks you learnt from the net.
  • An Address Bar similar to Explorer which allows you to type in and access any desired key really quick.
  • An advanced registry Key/Value Editor that support all existing registry data types.
  • Registry key Import & Export functionality with support for all native registry file types.
  • Security Editor (only available in Windows XP/2000/NT) thats allow you to set registry key permissions, auditing and ownership.

Registrar Lite Screenshot

The software is really quick-loading and has a pretty small disk footprint of approx. 3.5MB.

It’s a must have for anyone who dabbles in registry tweaking from time to time. It’s FREE. Grab it from the Resplendence Site.

NOTE: Those who do not want to leave the comfort zone of RegEdit and start using a new software, there’s always RegEdit Extensions – which enhances the standard Windows Registry Editor by adding on a subset of the features mentioned above.

New worm spreading through Skype

It was only a matter of time before Skype, the popular VoIP software was made a target by virus authors. Websense, a leading internet security firm has discovered a worm that propagates through Skype Chat – the inbuilt instant messaging tool.

The worm which probably originated somewhere in the Asia-Pacific region (with a high likelihood of being Korea) prompts users to download and run a file called sp.exe. Once run a spyware gets installed – which can then steal login credentials and other sensitive information. It can even connect to remote servers to download additional malwares.

Reports about the number of affected people are yet to come in.

Empower your Clipboard with Ditto

For a long while I’ve been plagued by the limitations of the Windows Clipboard. First of all you can copy only one object at a time (once you copy a second one, it replaces the first) and absolutely no retentivity. For instance, if I needed to copy a couple of things over and over again, I’d no way of making them stick to the clipboard and switching between them while pasting. This gets extremely annoying/frustrating at times – specially during forum moderation.

There are loads of Clipboard Enhancement Utilities that allow you to store multiple items.. namely CLCL, Clipboard Magic, Clipboard Recorder, Clippy 2001, DzSoft Paste & Save, and Yankee Clipper III etc. However, most of these have big limitations when it comes to the number of items you can store and/or the type of data stored in the clipboard.

If you’re willing to shell out about $34.95 you can always get ClipMate, which is the leading shareware in this category. Now, that’s now what we want, do we ?? 😀 A free, preferably open-source option seems a much more viable option, albeit without compromising on the features. What we need is an all rounder Clipboard enhancement solution and Ditto provides you with just that.

Ditto is an extension to the standard windows clipboard. It saves each item placed on the clipboard allowing you access to any of those items at a later time. Ditto allows you to save any type of information that can be put on the clipboard, text, images, html, custom formats, …..

Ditto relies on the fast & compact SQLite embeddable database engine to store an unlimited (or user-defined) number of clipboard items. A simple hotkey (Ctrl + ` by default) brings up the Ditto window which lists all the copied items till date. You can scroll through the list and perform quick-searches to get to any particular item too. You can even neatly categorise the copied items into folders of your choice.

Ditto Screenshot

You can assign hotkeys for the first 10 copied items too making pasting them a breeze. Ditto captures every kind of data from the clipboard – be it formatted or unformatted text, graphics, files – virtually anything.

The location of the SQLite database can be specified from the Ditto configuration panel – enabling you to maintain the database at an alternate location. This means, in case you need to reformat the partition containing Windows and/or your Program Files directory – none of your clipboard data is lost. Once you reinstall windows, you can make Ditto point to the old database location and all your previous items are back in a jiffy.
Moreover, Ditto doesn’t limit the copying to a single computer. If you’re on a network, you can setup Ditto to transmit and share your copied items with others on the network (running Ditto of course). Copied data is transmitted in encrypted form for added security. In effect, your clipboard is reflected on whichever computer on the network you want making Ditto a truly unique solution. Here’s the standard list of features from their site:

  • Easy to use interface
  • Search and paste previous copy entries
  • Keep multiple computer’s clipboards in sync
  • Data is encrypted when sent over the network
  • Accessed from tray icon or global hot key
  • Select entry by double click, enter key or drag drop
  • Paste into any window that excepts standard copy/paste entries
  • Display thumbnail of copied images in list
  • Full Unicode support (display foreign characters)
  • UTF-8 support for language files (create language files in any language)

Note: Ditto requires DAO to be installed.

This tool is a hot favourite of mine and another of the must downloads.

A better way of recording MSN Webcam Streams

Very frequently I engage in lively video conversations with family & friends through MSN and invariably occasions arose when I felt the need to capture whole conversations or at least short video clips. You just can’t let some memorable moments slip by like that…

I searched far and wide for tools / plug-ins that would allow me to make good-quality captures and tried hundreds of them. A simple Google search would bring you upon a horde of such sites claiming to have the perfect tool for you. However, I was thoroughly disappointed with their offerings… save one.

A little on the capture mechanism employed by the Webcam recorders. 99% of them – free ones or paid/licensed ones are nothing but simple screen capture tools. Such software enable you to either capture either the whole screen or part of the screen (video window) over a long period of time and save to popular video encoded format. When you’re viewing the webcam streams in full-screen mode, this is still acceptable.. but windowed mode spells the doom for such tools.

Since you’ve to define a certain region of a conversation window to capture, that particular window has always got to be on the top of all others. If you keep switching between many different chat / browser windows the software will start capturing whatever if finds in a similar region in those windows. Secondly, if your internet link is not of a decent speed, your video will most likely be kind of choppy as frames come in late or get totally dropped at times. These softwares have no way of knowing about dropped/late frames and keep writing blindly to the disk. Thus they turn out very poorly recorded videos. A couple of examples of such tools are:

Keep in mind, these aren’t bad by any means – they’re very good as live screen capture tools, but simply not efficient webcam video capturing utilities.

This is where MSN Webcam Recorder comes in. I found it by a chance discovery sitting quietly several pages down on a Google search. At that time it was still in the early stages of development – but while reading about it’s features it sounded pretty promising.

For a change, this little freeware tool captured the video packets directly as they streamed into your system and did not rely on blunt screen capturing. For this it employs WinPcap – a freeware low-level Windows based packet capturing tool which allows applications to capture network packets bypassing the protocol stack – thus enabling the applications to grab raw data packets and do as they saw fit with them.

This approach permits MSN Webcam Recorder to grab the packets even before they are shown in the MSN window itself. To quote the author…

It sees the Webcam video the same way MSN does, and reproduces it with a more accurate time correction. You can also watch a live video in another window, the size you want it to be, so you’re not stuck with MSN’s conversation window and its small size!

Standard features:

  • Once installed, it sits in your system tray and can be made to load up automatically at startup.
  • Whenever it detects a MSN Webcam stream – either originating at your computer or coming in from someone’s else’s system to yours, it automatically starts recording them in libmimic format resulting in very small file sizes.
  • You’ve got the option of halting and restarting the recording of a stream whenever you feel like.
  • You cannot play the recorded files directly in any media player – but once you’re done with the recording, you can instruct the software to re-encode any of those streams in many different formats/codec (including .avi,.mpeg etc.) as supported by your system.
  • You can playback the recorded stream prior to conversion to a standard format using the inbuilt stream player in the software so as to ascertain the quality of your recording. In fact, you can play the streams live even while they’re being recorded.
  • All the recorded streams are automatically added to a list, from where you can pick and choose and play at will.

While the interface is a little cryptic and confusing for first time users and leaves a lot to be desired, overall this is the very BEST MSN Webcam recorder I’ve come across and a FREE one too. This one is a must download !!

Giveaway of the Day: Free Software, Legally !!

Giveaway of the Day is a brand new project that gives away free software – legally! Yup, that’s right. Everyday they pick a software from well-known companies and make a fully functional version available for download through-out the day. Those who are able to grab it during the allowed period are free to use the software at absolutely no charge at all. The giveaway title changes every 24 hours.

According to the site, they’re …

a convenient initiative allowing you to get the best commercial software titles – for free. Every day we offer licensed software you’d have to buy otherwise, for free! Yes, we are giving away software, and you can download it from our site, right now and right here and our goal is to give away every good piece of software, sooner or later.

While many of the softwares are lite / limited versions of professional products, from time to time they put up really useful and fully-functional tools for download. Recently by popular demand they’ve even started a Game Giveaway of the Day that runs parallel with the software giveaway service.

Apparently they get permission from the authors of the program to giveaway their software for a days time and they have a activation program that connects to the server to see if the giveaway period is over before activating your free software. The catch is, unless you install and activate the software within the giveaway period, it’s turns to be a pretty useless piece of junk. Also that means the software is good for only a single install within the allowed period.

The terms and conditions for most of the downloads are:

  • The software cannot be used for commercial purposes
  • No technical support will be provided free of charge
  • No updates will be provided either

How does the free licensing work? The site claims that it’s a “win-win solution for both publishers & clients”. Without further ado, I’ll quote them regarding this…

Basically, every day we nominate one software title that will be a Giveaway title of that day. The software will be available for download for 24 hours (or more, if agreed by software publisher) and that software will be absolutely free. That means – not a trial, not a limited version – but a registered and legal version of the software will be free for our visitors.

The software product will be presented in its full functionality, without any limitations save for those mentioned in Terms and Conditions.

The download link will remain on our web-site for the agreed period of time, together with the review of the software product and the information about other products from the software publisher presenting the giveaway title.

Both reviews and the information on the product line will remain active even when the Giveaway period is over.

The information about Giveaway of the day and the participants of this initiative will be included in our newsletters and distributed among our visitors and subscribers.

We will pay the software publisher for the Giveaway license, and our visitors will only receive those after downloading a special verification program and agreeing to the Terms and Conditions, thus protecting software publishers’ interests and making our initiative beneficial for both clients and publishing companies.

We believe that Giveaway of the day will allow both publishers and clients to meet each other and win together with our initiative.

Here’s how people regard this concept, as I gathered from the Astahost forums

  • Well this type of site is vary common through out the internet, www.download.com will give you the same thing. All the programs you see at theas sites are programs I like to call “breakoffs”. Breakoffs are programs that only do one thing, like Red eye reduction, Animator, Image Edit, etc. Now programs like Photoshop will do all the things I just listed, but wait there is one disadvantage it cost $500.00. – theking648
  • It’s an interesting concept, and it’s slightly more advanced than download.com. Download.com frequently only has demo versions of some of the software giveaway seems to offer. Also, giveaway claims they pay the company for a special license. This way, the company gets some money for downloads that might otherwise be obtained illegally. Also, if people like the software, they may be impatient for the upgrade and buy it when it comes out. – vizskywalker
  • What I notice is that they are not giving some really advanced softwares… what they are giving out are low grade tools that never figured in market competition. I guess the motive is of a joint collaboration between small scale software developers and this site so that they can make the softwares known to atleast a few people so that they can spread it further.Of course it will really help in making brand awareness and probably they will think of earning money with version 2.0 of the tools… – CaptainRon

No registration is required for the downloads – though you can always subscribe to their RSS Feed to keep yourself updated regarding the daily giveaway.

I was directed to this site by a friend during it’s nascent stages and all they were offering at that point were screen-savers and similar pretty lousy stuff as corroborated from the comments posted regarding some of the featured giveaways. However, it seems like they’ve been gained quite a bit of good reputation after having offered some decent downloads. A new notice on their site says…

Attention: During the past few days we reached high enough popularity to start distributing world-wide known software products. Get ready for some surprising giveaways very soon!

Sounds exciting, eh? Am going to wait it out and see … 😉

FlyakiteOSX – Truly great OS X transformation pack for XP

When I first read about this my thoughts were – “Oh no..one more player in the already too crowded Web OS gang !!” How wrong I was ! This one turned out to be a transformation pack for Windows XP, giving you a complete Mac makeover. Visiting the site took my breath away. This one is a MUST SEE. According to the author,

FlyakiteOSX is not just a website. It is a software package designed to make an XP based computer look like OS X.

… and truly it lives every bit upto it’s claim. If the online interface demonstration is anything to go by, one can imagine what the real thing is. It’s probably the closest to a real OS interface hosted online complete with all the frills and animations of the OS X interface.

FlyakiteOSX Screenshot

Take a quick tour: FlyakiteOSX

I wonder if the author has any intentions to evolve this into a full-blown Web OS. Am sure this one will do great judging from what I’ve seen of the other ones. Any thoughts ?

Sandboxie: Excellent Browser Protection Freeware

I came across this terrific freeware tool called Sandboxie that can run almost any given program in a virtual sandboxed space and revert your system back to the original state it was in, once you terminate the program. For instance, when you surf using your favourite browser (Firefox/IE/Opera) – they can easily get infected with n-number of scumwares floating around on the net. More often than not they manage to slip through your AntiSpyware tool and infect your browser. Sandboxie provides a perfect solution for that. I found a very good review and description of the tool and am going to paste that here.

According to TechSupportAlert.Com

There’s a scumware plague at the moment. All it takes is a visit to a pushy web site or a “loaded” shareware install and next minute your Internet Explorer homepage has been changed, your default search setting altered, unwanted ads pop up on your screen and worse.

If you use Windows 2000 or later my top recommendation for safe browsing is a free program called Sandboxie [1] that creates a special contained “sandbox” environment on your PC. While browsing within the virtual sandbox provided by Sandboxie you are totally corralled off from other parts of your PC. So any files you download are isolated to the sandbox. Similarly, any programs that are executed only do so within the sandbox and have no access to your normal files, the Windows operating system or any other part of your PC.

Usage is remarkably simple. To start a sandboxed browsing session you just click the Sandboxie icon from the Quick Launch tray and this will launch your default browser in the sandbox. You can then use it in the normal way to browse to sites or download files.

If you downloaded a file it will install normally but again will be corralled off from your real PC. Anything it writes to your hard drive, any changes to the Windows Registry or changes to the Windows startup will be held in a separate area within the sandbox. Similarly, any new processes running in your computer memory will be sandboxed.

After you have finished browsing you can right click the Sandboxie icon and delete all sandboxed files and processes and your PC will be returned to the same state it was in before the browsing session. If you want retain particular downloaded files you can save them permanently before clearing the contents of the Sandbox.

The advantage is clear: any spyware, trojans, keyloggers or other malware products that infected your PC while browsing will be eliminated.

Sandboxie works fine with all browsers but requires Windows 2000 and later. It can cause problems on some PCs so backup before installing.

I grabbed it and started using it the moment I read about it – it works much smoother than any related Virtual Machine tool I’ve seen. I’ve used a couple of System State Restorers like DriveShield and DeepFreezeXP – but the biggest problems with those were that they render your system/protected drive(s) completely readonly and could be made writeable only on a subsequent reboot. However, NOT SO with Sandboxie.

Features of Sandboxie I really liked:

  • Extremely small Disk Footprint of 900KB
  • Installer is only 241KB
  • Runtime Memory Footprint of 2.2MB (Sandbox Server)
  • Ability to selectively save some settings/downloads before shutting down the hosted program
  • Ability to define certain programs to be ALWAYS auto-launched in Sandboxed mode (so you don’t have to manually run Sandboxie first and then run the program inside it)

Moreover, Sandboxie provides you with a Windows Task Manager like interface, where all processes you run under it are listed – and you can selectively terminate any of those processes in case of a freeze-up.

Give it a shot. Grab Sandboxie.

If you like it and are really satisfied with the results, make sure you come back and add in your opinion. If you find flaws with it, report those too.