12:07 PM | Author: TornadoX
Xilisoft DVD Audio Ripper
Xilisoft DVD Audio Ripper is very similar to the other Xilisoft file conversion softwares. The intuitive design of the interface makes the user become familiar with it in a few seconds. Basically, you can use it to extract audio from DVDs.
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Name It Your Way (NIYoW) 1.7.6
Name It Your Way is a batch file renaming utility. It can also generate ID3 tags for MP3 files, based on their filenames. It's suited for people who want to automate renaming tasks. The program recognizes information contained in JPEG images, MIDI files, and Microsoft Office documents. This information can be used by the program in the new filenames generated.
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AAA Logo 2009 3.01
AAA Logo Software can be used by people who need to create a logo. It is one of the easiest to use tools that I've tested lately, even though the application lacks a couple of features, like the right click menu. You can edit the logo just by using the mouse. I really liked the logos that I was able to create with this software.
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Hermetic Stego 7.73
This software allows you to encrypt data into a bitmap file. Encryption can be done using a key of up to 64 characters in which case only the recipient of the message will be able to decrypt the content. However, you can choose not to use any key at all, and in that case anyone that knows that there is hidden data inside the bitmap can decrypt it.
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Power Video Converter 2.2.13
'Power Video Converter' is a multipurpose video processing tool that allows you to convert, join, and split video files, as well as extract audio or images from video files. You can convert mpg, mpeg, dat, mov, avi, wmv, asf, flv, mp4, mov, 3gp,rm and vob video files to mpeg (in DVD, SVCD or VCD formats too), to AVI (including the DivX format and MPEG 4), or to Windows Media Format (ASF) or to any other media format.
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new software
8:15 AM | Author: TornadoX
GridinSoft Notepad
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I’ve recently received several requests from TechRepublic members wanting to reprogram or customize the [Windows] key. More specifically, people have asked me if there was a way to reprogram the [Windows]+E key shortcut such that, instead of launching Windows Explorer targeted on the Computer folder, [Windows]+E could be used to launch Windows Explorer targeted on the folder of your choice. For example, you might want the [Windows]+E key shortcut to open Documents. Fortunately, I’ve discovered a way to accomplish this task by using a free utility called AutoHotkey.

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I’ll show you how to use AutoHotkey in Vista to reroute the [Windows]+E so that Windows Explorer opens a folder of your choice. As I do, I’ll provide you with a list of all the standard [Windows] key shortcuts.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

The standard [Windows] key shortcuts

Before I show you how to use AutoHotkey to reroute the [Windows]+E, let’s take a look at the default [Windows] key shortcuts in Vista (see Table A). Of course, pressing the [Windows] key by itself opens and closes the Start menu. More Windows shortcuts are available in this TechRepublic download.

Table A

[Windows] +


1-9 & 0 Launches applications on the Quick Launch toolbar. You can have up to 10 shortcuts on the Quick Launch toolbar to use with the [Windows] key. The first shortcut on the Quick Launch toolbar is automatically assigned to [Windows]+1, the second shortcut to [Windows]+2, and so on. The tenth shortcut is automatically assigned to [Windows]+0
B Selects the first icon in the Notification Area. If you have the Hide Inactive Icons setting enabled, the Show/Hide toggle arrow will be selected. You can then use the right and left arrow keys to select whatever icon you want.
D Shows the desktop. This will minimize all open windows so you can see the desktop.
E Launches Windows Explorer targeted on the Computer folder.
F Launches the Search tool.
[Ctrl]+F Launches the Find Computers tool.
G Switch between gadgets on the Windows Sidebar.
L Locks the system.
M Minimizes all open windows.
[Shift]+M Restores all minimized windows.
R Launches the Run dialog box.
U Launches the Ease of Access Center.
T Cycles through programs using the Live Taskbar feature.
[Break] Launches the System window.
[F1] Launches Windows Help and Support.
[Spacebar] Brings the Windows Sidebar to the foreground.
[Tab] Launches the Flip 3D task switcher.

Using AutoHotkey

AutoHotkey is a FREE program that allows you to create customized macros that can perform all sorts of operations. Keep in mind that AutoHotKey has much more potential than simply rerouting the [Windows]+E, but for now, I’ll only show you how to use the utility to perform this relatively simple operation. You can learn more about AutoHotKey’s extensive list of features in its Help system and on the Documentation page of the AutoHotKey Web site.

Once you download the installation program, installing AutoHotkey is a snap. You just follow the steps presented by the setup wizard and respond with the appropriate action in the User Account Control dialog box.

AutoHotkey doesn’t really have a user interface, so to speak. Rather, you create short scripts in Notepad that contain a hotkey definition and an action that you want to perform. Once you create a script, you double-click it to load the AutoHotkey application and the script into memory. AutoHotkey then runs in the background and waits for you to press the assigned hotkey. When you do, it launches the associated action.

AutoHotkey allows you to use any keystroke combination as its hotkey — even keystroke combinations that are already assigned by other programs. Therefore, AutoHotkey allows you to override existing keystroke combinations.

One of the keys that AutoHotkey will allow you to customize is the [Windows] key. You can essentially reprogram the [Windows]+E key to open any folder that you wish. Let’s take a closer look at how you will accomplish this.

Once you install AutoHotkey, it adds an item to the New menu called AutoHotkey Script. Choose a folder where you want to create your scripts and then right-click and select the New | AutoHotkey Script command, as shown in Figure A. When the new script appears, the default filename is highlighted so you can easily rename it. As you do, be sure not to change the file extension from .ahk.

Figure A

To create a script, just right-click inside a folder and select the New | AutoHotkey Script command.

To continue, right-click on the file and select the Edit Script command. When Notepad opens the file, you’ll see the contents of the default template. In the template, the lines that begin with a semicolon (;) are comment lines and can be deleted if you wish. The other lines in the template are used to customize the environment for the script and should be left as they are.

To reprogram the [Windows]+E key to open any folder that you wish, use the following command line:

#e:: Run explorer.exe {FolderPath}

Where {FolderPath} is the path to the folder that you want to open when you press the [Windows]+E key. For example, to configure the [Windows]+E key to open my Documents folder, my script contained the command line listed below and shown in Figure B. That’s all there is to it!

#e:: Run explorer.exe C:\Users\Greg Shultz\Documents

Figure B

To reprogram the [Windows]+E key to open my Documents folder, I used this simple command along with the path to the Documents folder.

Once you have created your script, double-click it to load the application and the script into memory. You’ll then see the AutoHotkey icon appear in the Notification Area, as shown in Figure C. This indicates that your hotkey script is ready and waiting for you to press the [Windows]+E key.

Figure C

You can use this simple command line to reprogram the [Windows]+E key.

To configure your script to run every time you launch Windows, create a shortcut to the script and copy it to the Startup folder. Now, whenever you press the [Windows]+E key, Windows Explorer opens the folder that you specified in your script.

Other Windows versions

In addition to using this technique in Vista, I also tested it in Windows XP and it works fine. However, keep in mind that AutoHotKey does not officially mention support for Windows 7, and I have not verified that AutoHotkey will work reliably in Windows 7.

What’s your take?

Do you use the [Windows] key shortcuts? Have you wanted to reprogram the [Windows]+E so that it could be used to launch Windows Explorer targeted on the folder of your choice? Will you use this technique to reprogram the [Windows]+E key?

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With the recent outbreak of a new variant of the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu), companies have been forced to consider their emergency response to a pandemic. Telecommuting via remote access and VPN should play an integral part in those plans.


Editor’s note: Recent events have made this How Do I blog post more relevant, so I thought it best to revisit this previously published tip.

Remote access

Microsoft Windows Vista adds several layers of system security above and beyond what was used in Windows XP. In general, that is a good thing. However, those added layers of security sometimes interfere with an end user’s experience. The Remote Desktop Application is one example. Completing a remote desktop connection to a PC running Windows XP from another PC running Vista can be troublesome if some care is not taken during configuration.

This quirky connection, running desktop remote on a Vista PC at home while connecting to a Windows XP machine at the office, is becoming more common as home users purchase new PCs. Consumer adoption is taking place much faster than corporate network administrators are willing to roll out Vista in the enterprise.

This blog post is also available in PDF form in a TechRepublic download.

Windows XP

For the purposes of this exercise, we are going to assume that you have already created a valid, stable connection to the remote network via VPN or other secure connection. The problem to be solved is completing the remote desktop connection. We are also assuming the remote Windows XP PC is configured to accept a remote desktop connection, as shown in the Remote tab under System Properties (Figure A).

Figure A

Open the Remote tab (System Properties).

Windows Vista

After establishing your VPN connection (at least that is how it works here at CNET), you should start the Vista Remote Desktop Connection application. For some reason, the shortcut in Vista is buried deep in the menus (Figure B). My test machine is using Windows Vista Ultimate.

Figure B

Start Remote Desktop Connection.

The Vista version of the remote connection software is very similar to the application found in Windows XP. The key to getting the connection to work is typing in the full name of the remote PC. In my case at CNET, that means adding the domain information to the end of my workstation PC name. It should look something like this:


Unlike Windows XP, the Vista remote connection software will ask for credentials when you click the Connect button, which brings you to the dialog box shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Enter your credentials.

After clicking OK, you will reach the warning screen shown in Figure D, which can be quite intimidating for users the first time they see it. Vista is informing you that some of its security features will be lost because you are attempting to remote connect to a Windows XP machine. There is nothing you can really do about this except say Yes, I want to connect anyway.

Figure D

Click Yes, I want to connect anyway.

From here you should be looking at the familiar desktop of your remote PC.


If your network administrators are like ours here at TechRepublic/CNET, this Vista-to-XP remote connection is not a supported configuration yet. That means you could be on your own when it comes to troubleshooting.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t help each other out. I have been using this setup only a few days, and I have yet to run into problems, but I am going to assume that some of you have. Share any problems you may be having with the remote connection scenario and tell us what steps you took to troubleshoot them. This remote configuration is only going to increase in frequency; we should at least try to overcome whatever gremlins may be lurking.

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Original article by Steven Pittsley

Among all the wizards and utilities in Microsoft Windows XP is one great utility that has its roots in the Windows 9.x product line: the System Configuration Utility, or MSCONFIG. This handy utility allows you to make changes to boot files and startup parameters when troubleshooting boot problems. I’ll teach you all about the features included with MSCONFIG so you can eradicate pesky boot problems from a Windows XP workstation.

Launching MSCONFIG

To use MSCONFIG, click the Start button and select Run. In the Open box, type MSCONFIG and click OK. The utility will open, as illustrated in Figure A.

Figure A

You must be logged on to the computer using an Administrator account before you can run MSCONFIG.

The MSCONFIG window contains six tabs: General, SYSTEM.INI, WIN.INI, BOOT.INI, Services, and Startup. We’ll take a closer look at each of these tabs in the following sections.

The General tab

The MSCONFIG General tab gives you some basic options for starting a computer. As shown in Figure A, the default setting for the utility is Normal Startup. The other two options for starting the computer are Diagnostic Startup and Selective Startup.

Diagnostic Startup allows you to start the computer with only the most basic devices and services that are needed for the computer to run. This startup gives you a clean environment for troubleshooting.

Selective Startup provides a variety of startup options that you can use for troubleshooting. By default, all the options under Selective Startup are chosen. However, deselecting one of these preselected options allows you to prevent one or more of the Selective Startup options from running.

For instance, if you think one of the programs that launch on startup is causing a problem, you can deselect the Load Startup Items option to prevent any startup program from launching. While this won’t help you determine which program is causing the problem, it will help you isolate the problem to a certain area. Please note that you’re unable to select the Use Modified BOOT.INI file unless you make a change on the BOOT.INI tab, which I’ll discuss later.

Finally, the Launch System Restore button provides easy access to the System Restore function, and the Expand File button is a very useful feature if you encounter a corrupted file and want to restore it.


The SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI tabs are included for legacy compatibility, and you may not need to use them very often. These tabs give you the ability to modify the SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI files or prevent lines of code from executing when the computer is started.

In Figure B, each line of the SYSTEM.INI file is displayed in the window. Sections of the file, such as drivers, are expandable to allow you to work with the lines of code in those sections. You can also deselect a section to prevent the entire section from being executed.

Figure B

Deselect a section to prevent the entire section from being executed.

The Move Up and Move Down buttons allow you to move lines or sections to other locations in the file. The Find button is used to search the file; the New button lets you add new lines; and Edit lets you change the value of a line. The Enable All and Disable All buttons at the bottom of the window will select or deselect all the lines of the program. Using these buttons to alter these files is much easier and safer than using a text editor to perform the same tasks.

As you can see in Figure C, the WIN.INI tab provides the same functionality as the SYSTEM.INI tab.

Figure C

Same as before, select and deselect.

Boot options using the BOOT.INI tab

The BOOT.INI tab, shown in Figure D, gives you many options for starting the computer. The top portion of the window contains the BOOT.INI file that the computer is currently using. You cannot edit this file using MSCONFIG. You can change the timeout value for the boot menu. Even if you can’t edit the file, it is easy to view the file when you use MSCONFIG.

Figure D

Microsoft recommends that you don’t attempt to use MSCONFIG to edit BOOT.INI unless you’re directed to do so by a Microsoft support professional.

Three of the four buttons provided in this window are for editing purposes and are grayed out by default. The Check All Boot Paths button is used to verify that the boot paths in the BOOT.INI file are correct. When you click this button, you’ll receive either an error message you can use for troubleshooting or a window alerting you that the boot paths have been verified.

Boot option pane

The most valuable functions on the BOOT.INI tab are the boot options, which are explained below. You can use these choices for a variety of troubleshooting techniques:

  • /SAFEBOOT gives you suboptions for starting the computer.
    • /SAFEBOOT with MINIMAL starts the computer in Safe Mode.
    • /SAFEBOOT with NETWORK starts the computer in Safe Mode with networking support.
      Note: /SAFEBOOT with NETWORK does not load the normal network configuration; instead, it loads a generic TCP/IP network configuration.
    • /SAFEBOOT with DSREPAIR is used to repair Directory Services on Domain Controllers.
    • /SAFEBOOT with MINIMAL (ALTERNATESHELL) starts the computer in Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
  • /NOGUIBOOT starts the computer without the VGA video driver that displays graphics during the boot process and Blue Screen crash information.
  • /BOOTLOG enables boot logging to help you debug and troubleshoot startup problems.
  • /BASEVIDEO starts the computer using a standard VGA video driver, as opposed to the one installed for the graphics card.
  • /SOS causes the driver names to be displayed when they’re loaded. You can use this switch to diagnose driver-related issues.

The BOOT.INI Advanced Options screen, shown in Figure E, offers you more options for starting your computer:

  • /MAXMEM limits the amount of memory that Windows XP can use. You can use this switch if you believe that your system has a bad memory chip.
  • /NUMPROC limits the number of processors used in a multiprocessor system.
  • /PCILOCK stops Windows XP from dynamically assigning system resources to PCI devices. The devices will use the BIOS configuration instead.
  • /DEBUG starts the computer in debugging mode. It allows you to configure the machine with three additional suboptions, as follows:
    • /DEBUG with /DEBUGPORT specifies the communications port to be used for debugging.
    • /DEBUG with /BAUDRATE specifies the baud rate to be used for debugging. The default baud rate is 9600 with a modem and 19200 with a null-modem cable.
    • /DEBUG with /CHANNEL specifies the 1394 communications channel for debugging.

Figure E

These are the advanced options.

Working with the Services tab

The MSCONFIG Services tab, shown in Figure F, allows you to prevent specific services from starting when the computer is started. This is extremely useful when you’re troubleshooting service-related problems.

Figure F

Microsoft has designed the majority of services in Windows XP. To make it easier to find a non-Microsoft service, you can select the Hide All Microsoft Services option.

Troubleshooting using the Startup tab

The Startup tab lets you prevent items in your startup folder from starting when you log in. As you can see in Figure G, you can simply deselect the service to prevent it from starting. If you want to disable all the services, click the Disable All button. To enable all the services again, click the Enable All button.

Figure G

These are the startup choices.

My favorite feature

The System Configuration Utility is easy to use and will help you troubleshoot a wide variety of Windows XP boot problems. The ease with which you can temporarily modify the boot files, system services, and startup files makes MSCONFIG an extremely useful troubleshooting utility. The best troubleshooting features I have found are the boot options located within the BOOT.INI tab. Remember to use caution when manipulating boot option parameters and always write down any changes you make in case you get stuck.

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Have you ever wanted to employ an application that will monitor sites you follow and inform you of any changes? Imagine being able to easily be apprised of all new updates and/or changes to the sites you follow (even within your own company). Without help, that task can be fairly daunting. But fear not, help is on the way.

Wysigot is an application that will capture the content (including scripts, flash, and cookies) of the sites you follow and alert you when something changes. When you then view these updated sites, all new content is even highlighted for you. This application can save you quite a bit of time and effort, which, in turn, can make you a more productive worker.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download. Wysigot Light is also available from the TechRepublic Software Library.

Wysigot comes in two versions: Light and Full. As you would guess, the Light version is the free version and doesn’t offer all the features of the Full version. However, the Light version offers features such as:

  • Site capture
  • Download displays
  • Unlimited page captures
  • Ability to resume interrupted downloads
  • Compatibility with former versions of documents
  • Black list
  • Automatic highlighting of new content
  • Automatic or scheduled updates
  • Alarms
  • Off-line form completion
  • Monitoring and backing up any file on your local computer or a remote computer on your local network
  • Automatic or manual document organization
  • Favorites import from Internet Explorer

The Full version adds features like:

  • Export (viewing sites outside of Wysigot)
  • Conditional alarms
  • Automatic updates
  • Printing
  • Advanced searching
  • Annotations

Getting and installing

As you would expect, installing Wysigot is simple. Download either the Light or the Full version and double-click the downloaded .exe file. During the installation you will be asked a couple of simple questions that apply to your connection (direct access vs. proxy, etc). Once the installation is complete, you can launch Wysigot from your Start menu.

How to use Wysigot

When you fire up Wysigot, the main window where you do all of your work will open (Figure A). You do not actually view the monitored Web sites in your standard browser (although you can easily open each site with a press of the F12 button).

Figure A

You will also be greeted with a Tip of the Day every day.

The first thing you need to do is open the Capture New Site window. Do this by clicking the File menu and then selecting the Capture New Site entry. When this new window opens (Figure B), enter the URL for the site and a name for the site.

Figure B

The type of file you want to open can be http, ftp, or file.

When the site opens, it should look fairly normal (Figure C). You will also notice a directory tree on the left side. This directory tree allows you to browse the various elements throughout the site. So not only is Wysigot a good tool for checking changes in a site, it is also good for checking various elements in a site.

Figure C

TechRepublic’s main page as seen through Wysigot.

Now let’s say you want to be alerted when the TechRepublic Open Source blog is updated. To do this, you will need to add that URL with the Capture New Site wizard. Once you have done that you will see your site listed in the left navigation tree. If you right-click the site in the left navigation you will see the Properties entry. Click on the Properties to open a new window where you can take care of a number of tasks (Figure D).

Figure D

If you need a login name or password for the site, you can enter it here.

Click on the Alarms tab where you can choose to be notified either the next time or every time this page is changed. If you have the Full version of Wysigot you can also be alerted when particular expressions are changed on the page.

From this same window you can configure how deep into the site Wysigot is to capture and, if you have the Full version, what file types to capture.

Highlighting new content

You can quickly see what is new on the page from the main window. In the lower tool bar, to the right of the magnification buttons, you will see the Highlight button. Click on this button to see all new content highlighted in yellow (Figure E).

Figure E

As you can see TechRepublic has new content on the front page.

Once you have glanced at the new content, you can mark it as Read by right-clicking the Web page and selecting the Mark As… submenu. From this submenu, you can mark the site text as either Read or Not Read. When you mark the text as Read, the highlighting will go away and you’re ready to check for a new set of updates.

Site information

Another really nice feature of Wysigot is the ability to check site information. This not only shows you information about the page, but you can also make changes to your update notifications, including how many versions to keep, how deep to follow, what the current state is, and much more. To see the information about a site, click the Information button on the main tool bar to reveal the site-specific information page (Figure F).

Figure F

Make sure you click the Accept Changes button if you make any changes to the information page.

Final thoughts

If you check multiple sites throughout the day and depend on updated information, your day will become much more productive by employing Wysigot. This handy application will keep you up to date more efficiently than the standard refresh button.

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9:41 PM | Author: TornadoX

Tips to speed up defrag operations in Windows XP

A simple way to speed up a defrag operation in Microsoft Windows XP is to restart the system before you launch the Defrag application. This allows the operating system to clear out the swap/paging file (may require a change in configuration for ultimate effect) and to reset it to the default size. This lets Defrag focus strictly on the necessary data on the hard disk, without having to stop and manage a huge swap file loaded with unneeded data.

Another approach to speeding up a defrag operation in Windows XP is to configure it to occur immediately upon startup. You can do so easily with a simple registry edit.

Note: Editing the Windows Registry is not without risk. Please save yourself some aggravation and back up your Windows Registry before you do any editing.

With the disclaimer out of the way, follow these steps to start a defrag operation immediately upon startup:

  • Launch the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe)
  • Go to:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\RunOnce
  • Right-click the RunOncesubkey and select New | String Value
  • Name the value Defrag and press [Enter] twice
  • Type Defrag.exe c: /f in the Value Data text box, and click OK
  • Close the Registry Editor and restart Windows

The defrag operation will begin when you type in your password and press [Enter]. (Keep in mind that values added to the RunOnce key are removed immediately after the command has been run.)

Note: This tip applies to both Windows XP Home and Professional editions.

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