Author Archives: Sunfizz

Drivermax backs up drivers

One Line Purpose
This is a freeware application that can import/export or snatch existing drivers for those who reinstall their operating system (OS) or lost their driver disk.

Impressions
While perusing the internet for good software applications to try out, I came across this app at Download Squad claiming that it can back up and restore drivers.  Therefore, I downloaded the program, installed it, and backed up my currently existing drivers.

However, I had some mixed feelings when I imported my drivers into my newly installed Windows XP.  If there was anything that one should do when importing drivers is importing the ones that do not come prepackaged with windows such as printer, chipset, graphics card, etc.  Consequently, Drivermax froze on my dual core computer and left me hanging for a good 10 or so minutes when the site claims that it would only take up 5-10 minutes.  Hence, I resorted to my original driver discs to repair the loose ends from Drivermax.

Another qualm that I had with this program is that it prompted me to register this product with a free key supplied by its proprietary website, thus making it a trial version for 30 days despite it being free.  Also, the diagnostic test it does in the beginning is horribly ugly when it could be easily replaced with a progress bar.

In the end, if one would want to use this program, know exactly the drivers that need to be backed up and everything will be fine.  As for me, I think I’ll stick to driver cds.

Drivermax: http://www.innovative-sol.com/drivermax/

[App] IMO.IM


Sick of Meebo with its heavy traffic and cluttered interface? Don’t want to see those annoying ads? Now there is an cleaner and faster alternative, which is “imo.im” The creators behind this IM service are simply ingenius. Even two of them are from Google. The main highlight of this online IM service is the fact that one can have a group session across all messenging platforms. Another cool feature is that one does not even have to create an account to log onto multiple IM platforms simultaneously, thanks to a feature called “linking accounts”.

Although it does not have all the features that common IM clients offer (such as logfiles, smilies, etc) this app has plenty of room for improvement and successes. Also, the clean interface and lack of other things like hyperlinks and smiley buttons prove to be very pleasing to the eye.

official site: http://imo.im

[App] ClearType Tuner Powertoy

ClearType Tuner is, by far, the best thing one can do for his or her eyes when reading text on an LCD monitor or any type of monitor. Its purpose is to make text more readable and easier on the eye by allowing the user to go through a series of text selections and pick the one that is the most readable. By doing so, the program will automatically adjust the text to your previous selections. Of course, the example that Microsoft previews to the viewer is atrocious, but the subtle changes can make a big difference over time. ClearType Tuner can be done through Microsoft’s online site or with the installer that it provides to you. Due to the dimensions of this blog, it is simply better to view the picture on the former site.

ClearType Tuner: http://www.microsoft.com/typography/cleartype/tuner/Step1.aspx

Foobar2000 Updated!

Foobar pic
The legendary Foobar2000 has been updated to 0.9.5 with a whole bunch of new features that originally required additional plugins and customization. For those unfamiliar with Foobar, it is a freeware audio player for windows. Although the core is closed to the public, it allows for extensive customization with programming. The most notable improvement is foobar’s revamped display interface, because it now has UIElements built-in which includes tabs, album art, and album list support. The program presents itself as a very minimalistic player, but can be edited into a very slick audio player. With the addition of themes, WYSIWYG interface, and the scratchbox (allows the user to create a theme without tampering the current one), one can only expect good things in the time to come.

For more information: http://www.foobar2000.org/releasenotes-095/releasenotes.html
Website: http://www.foobar2000.org

[Review] Windows Media Players

ZPlayer pic
Zoom Player
Type: Shareware,
Website: http://www.inmatrix.com/
This media player is surprisingly very user-friendly and feature-rich for its very small installation size. Also, this player boasts for leaving the smallest footprint on the computer processes. Possibly the main highlight of this player is its intuitiveness to find and install the right codec if the existing codecs do not support that particular file. Another benefit of this player is the fact that it can also act as a media center and as a player. And most of all, this player loads up very quick.

However, there are certainly some features that this player needs improvement on. The first part is frame capture, since it can only capture and save that screenshot as bitmap format (.bmp). Secondly, the aesthetics of the player are quite distasteful along with the fact that there are very few skins available to cover this loss. Whereas some might see this as a boon or a benefit, every single key on the keyboard has a function.

MPC pic
Media Player Classic (MPC)
Type: Freeware, Open Source
Website:http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=205650&package_id=245753
Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_Player_Classic
The most basic, yet reliable media player for those who prefer old school windows or retro applications. It does just about everything that zoom player can do with the exception of the media center feature. Also, MPC allows the user to customize the number screenshots for the whole movie/episode and the output format. Another benefit of this player is that it is very small and can act as a standalone player.

As of now, I have not found any complaints for this fine player.

KMP pic
KMPlayer
Type: Freeware
Website: http://www.kmplayer.com/forums/index.php
Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_KMPlayer
This is one of the best players I have encountered as of now. There are plenty of skins to replace the default one. Also, this player has numerous features that I cannot list at the moment. Nonetheless, its long list of supported formats along with ease of use and eyecandy has certainly made this player a very nice alternative to the regular Windows Media Player (WMP).

For those who still like the WMP look, there is a skin that looks exactly like WMP for KMPlayer.

Additional information: http://www.kmplayer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141

**Attention** – The players listed above can be portable as well.


Topics not discussed in this article for lack of focus:
For those who still like the Divx Player interface but do not like the bloat associated with it, one can use Gom Player or BSPlayer.VLC is still the swiss army knife of video playback but not discussed here due to almost everyone knowing its existence and capability. Also, this player tends to hog memory like no other and has a lot more features that a typical user would not need on a daily basis.

[App] Foxit Reader

Foxit SnapshotJust want to read that pdf file, but don’t want to wait for Adobe Acrobat Reader to load up? How about all those features that the typical user would never need or use in that program? Thankfully, there is a better program that is indeed 10x more tolerable than Acrobat Reader. Also, the best part is that it is free! Here are some of the advantages that the official website boasts about its product.

  • Incredibly small: The download size of Foxit Reader is only 2.1 M which is a fraction of Acrobat Reader 20 M size.
  • Breezing-fast: When you run Foxit Reader, it launches instantly without any delay. You are not forced to view an annoying splash window displaying company logo, author names, etc.
  • Annotation tool: Have you ever wished to annotate (or comment on) a PDF document when you are reading it? Foxit Reader allows you to draw graphics, highlight text, type text and make notes on a PDF document and then print out or save the annotated document.
  • Text converter: You may convert the whole PDF document into a simple text file.
  • High security and privacy: Foxit Reader highly respects the security and privacy of users and will never connect to the Internet without users’ permission. While other PDF readers often silently connect to the Internet in the background. Foxit PDF Reader does not contain any spyware.

I’ve tested this nifty program myself and was thoroughly convinced that I will never go back to using Adobe Acrobat Reader. There are a bunch of other great features included in this program without bloating the installation size. Plus, one can also download new addons to the program (most of them are free of charge) in case that particular feature is missing.

Official Website: http://www.foxitsoftware.com/

~Sunfizz

[App] Whereisit

Whereisit SnapshotThinking about cataloging all those dvds, cds, and all those other digital accessories? Don’t want to dig through the pile to find that perfect movie for the party? Well, this program could come in handy. In fact, it is probably one of the best cataloging programs I have found so far. Also, it won at least 10 awards. Here are some of the features it can do.

  • Catalog any digital media (hard drives, folders, cds/dvds, etc.)
  • A very nice search function (can search title, descriptions, cd #)
  • Categorize/group/tag any of your media/files.
  • Can also scan in the specifics (video properties, picture dimensions, ID3 Tags)
  • Slap on album art/pictures to your files/folders
  • Import/Export your collection
  • Ability to export in multiple formats to show to your friends (Excel, Doc, html, etc)
  • A whole lot of incredibly useful features that even I haven’t explored yet.

Yet, I also know the burden of scanning every single media into the catalog, but at least the program has the option to automatically eject one’s media once it is done scanning it. Of course that does not sound like much, but shaving those seconds can amount to minutes and possibly hours (depends on how big the collection is). Nonetheless, this program and the catalog files are very small and the program itself loads up very quickly.

For those who are constantly on the go and want to have their catalog program and their collections with them, there is a portable version lying around on the internet. Otherwise, one can buy this software from the site below.

Official Website: http://www.whereisit-soft.com/

~Sunfizz

Zen V Plus Review

After using the Zen V Plus for about a month now, I would have to say that this product is rather worthy for those who are looking for a more solid, smaller capacity mp3 player with plenty of features such as the FM tuner, microphone and video playback. Another plus is its scratch-resistant chassis and better capability to keep dust out of the screen. Although, the Zen V Plus comes bundled with all sorts of software, one does not need to install any of these and can just get by with Windows Media Player or other third party software to transfer files.

Despite the size of the screen, the photos come out very clean and vibrant. For those who are left handed or simply not used to pressing the play button with the right thumb, one can always configure the menu orientation to be displayed in all four directions.

On the other hand, video playback is simply a novelty factor since it only supports RGB playback (basically playing back video as a stream of jpegs) at 15 frames per second. Also, the codec used for the Zen V Plus is usually 3 times the size of a typical divx file.

To make up for the seemingly unspectacular video performance (although it was expected from its hardware), the FM tuner and microphone as well as the audio truly makes this player shine. The FM tuner is very good in catching signals, unless one is surrounded by thick concrete walls, and has a nice feature in searching for FM channels. The microphone is very useful for making reminders and short notes, but not recommended for studio purposes. The line-in jack might come useful for recording mp3s from other players, but remains untested on my part.

Overall, this player has a lot of bang for the buck. Nonetheless, the battery lasts longer than the prescribed 15 hours depending on video and menu usage.

Another Good Review Source: http://reviews.cnet.com/mp3-players/creative-zen-v-plus/4505-6490_7-31935066.html
http://www.anythingbutipod.com/archives/2006/10/creative-zen-v-plus-review.php

Keybreeze: Good but not Amazing

Keybreeze

After using Keybreeze for a total of ten minutes, I was pretty much dumbfounded and annoyed by the user interface and its overall appearance. Indeed, the application does use less resources than Launchy, but it is not very user-friendly nor intuitive. Some applications require as much as one letter, while an app that starts with the same letter might take a whole word to find the right program.

Also, adding in new programs was an eyesore. Adding a miscellaneous program on a different partition took about 3-7 clicks to add it in along with associating it to a key command. Although I do appreciate the programmed hotkeys for typical searches like the dictionary, Wikipedia and the sorts, there is a very slim chance that I would actually use the other features like checking the theatres or the weather.

Whereas the macros function is a very useful function, I would rather stick with Launchy and tell it the directories that I want indexed.

All in all, Keybreeze is a good program, but not exactly for beginners and impatient users. Honestly, this program has more features than it really needs. Stick with launchy for those who want immediate results and an easy-to-use interface.

Pirate Bay Resurrects Suprnova

While I was aimlessly browsing the nets, I came across a torrent linking to a domain with the name “suprnova.org”. Therefore, I googled the front lines and came across an article about the creator of Suprnova donating its domain to Pirate Bay and asking them to keep the site as authentically close to the original and that it should be a community based site rather than a private tracker. Possibly the main point that Pirate Bay agreed to keep Suprnova intact with its roots is to show that nothing can stop this site from becoming anything short of phenomenal.

Source: http://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-about-to-relaunch-suprnovaorg/