Archive for the ‘On the Desktop’ Category

If you are an Orkut user you probably know what I am going to talk about here. I am speaking about Transliteration, which essentially means that you can type in one language and have that converted to another language.

Google already offers transliteration in Orkut and many users know about it. However did you know that you can now chat in Indian languages in Gmail and Google Talk Labs Edition also?

Follow these steps to chat in Indian languages (currently 5 are supported) in Google Talk.

  1. Add a transliteration bot to your friend list. There are 5 of them available currently: (en2hi.translit@bot.talk.google.com for Hindi, en2kn.translit@bot.talk.google.com for Kannada, en2te.translit@bot.talk.google.com for Telugu, en2ta.translit@bot.talk.google.com for Tamil and en2ml.translit@bot.talk.google.com for Malayalam)
  2. Start chatting with your friend.
  3. Convert the chat session to a group chat and invite the particular bot (you added in step 1) to the group chat.

From now on whatever you type in english will be converted to the appropriate language by the bot. Have a look:

hindi chat
Chat in Indian Languages

You might have to enable Indic fonts if you dont see them correctly. Here is some more information on Indic Fonts



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lock noteSo you are a Nuclear scientist and hold top secret information about the Nuclear Warfare of your country? (I know many nuclear scientists love to read my articles!) Want to transfer this information to someone but fear that it may be trespassed. Why don’t you try encryption? Because its complicated? Are you sure? Because what I am going to mention might just change you view about it.

Okay first off I admit the all the nuclear bla bla could be termed as exaggerating . However there are lots of things you might need only authorized person to be able to have a look on like your passwords, some important notes and so on you think, I know there is plenty of stuff. The application I am talking about is LockNote. LockNote is a document and encryption mechanism in one single application.

First off download it here for free.

Run Locknote.exe, type in your confidential text and choose Save as. Then you will be needed to enter a password and that’s it. Now to open the file you will need the password you just provided. Once you open the file, you can make changes and then save all the changes in the file. It decrypts the file when you open the file and encrypts it when you save the file all on the fly.

lock note window
The LockNote Window

Moreover you can also drag and drop any text file on the executable to quickly encrypt it. In case you are wondering how secure it is, let me mention that it uses AES 256 bit encryption, which if you don’t know what it is, I assure you it is secure for your confidential notes 🙂 LockNote is portable and doesn’t need any installation, so you can use it from your USB drive as well


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System Mechanic Image There is a giveaway on the Internet these days for those of you who are looking for a tool to optimize and manage your computers. Its a 6 Months license for the popular “System Mechanic” software. So you can use it for 6 months and then decide if you like it enough or not. Here is what System Mechanic is all about:

“Fix problems, boost performance, eliminate crashes and more with System Mechanic”
System Mechanic is a software that offers you a centralized system dashboard to automatically perform all vital PC maintenance by diagnosing, reporting, and resolving computer problems and performance bottlenecks.

This award-winning utility suite is trusted by millions worldwide to secure, optimize, repair, and tune-up their systems.

Some of the Great features of System Mechanic are:

  • ActiveCare® 2.0 keeps your PC running like new — New ActiveCare 2.0 just got leaner, smarter, and even better at keeping your PC humming along at full speed. And it does this silently in the background, only working when your PC is on but not in use.
  • Defragment and Compact Registry tool – next–generation Defragment and Compact Registry tool now performs a comprehensive analysis of your registry, detects performance–draining bloat, and displays wasted space with instructive, color–coded graphics.
  • DriveSense™ — Real-time hard drive status.
  • New navigational links within the tools simplify moving throughout System Mechanic.
  • iolo’s library of programs and program components has been expanded to target resource-robbing programs unnecessarily clogging your PC’s startup process and to detect potentially dangerous software.
  • PC TotalCare™ performs a complete system tune-up by running all Power Tool functions in one pass.

How to get a free license for Six Months :

  1. Go here.
  2. Press the “Continue” button.
  3. Complete the checkout process using a valid email address, Select the Email Delivery option.
  4. Download System Mechanic 8.
  5. While installing, choose “I own system mechanic and can enter my serial later” option and click Next.
  6. Enter the Activation Code that you received on your email.

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firefox logo

Tabbed browsing is one of the most(if not the most) important features of modern browsers, and when the browser is Firefox you can expect some extra customizations. Here is a complete (I tried to make it) guide to a better tabbed browsing experience:


Tab Related Shortcuts:

Open a new tab Ctrl + T
Close current tab Ctrl + W
Cycle through open tabs Ctrl + Tab (right), Shift + Ctrl + Tab (left)
Switch to a tab Ctrl + [1-9] ,where 1-9 is the number of the tab
Middle Click on link Opens in new tab
Middle Click on open tab Closes the tab
Ctrl + Click on a link Opens in new tab
Open Closed Tab Ctrl + Shift + T

Tabs Related Preferences

Type about:config in the address/location bar to access the following preferences.

  • browser. link. open_external :
    • Modifies where to open external link sent by other applications like IM client, AV etc, Values: 3: open link in new tab in current window, 2: Open link in new window, 1: Open link in current tab
  • browser. tabs. autoHide:
    • Behavior for the tab bar when only one tab exists
      True (default): Hide the tab bar
      False: Always show the tab bar
      Can also be changed via – Tools > Options > Tabs
  • browser. tabs.closeButtons:
    • This preference controls how close buttons can be displayed on tabs.
      0: Display a close button on the active tab only
      1: (default) Display a close button on each tab
      2: Don’t display any close buttons
      3: Display a single close button at the end of the tab bar
  • browser. tabs. loadInBackground
    • Determine whether new tabs get the focus or open in background
      True (default): Do not focus new tabs opened from links (load in background)
      False: Opposite of above
      This can also be changed via "Tools → Options → Tabs → When I open a link in a new tab, switch to it immediately"
  • browser.tabs.tabClipWidth
    • Determines the min width of any background tab on which FF will show a close button, in other words if the width of tab is less than this value and the tab is a background tab, close button will not be shown on that particular tab. Browser.tabs.closeButtons has a effect on this.

      Value: Any positive integer value
  • browser.tabs.tabMinWidth, browser.tabs.tabMaxWidth
    • Controls the minimum and maximum widths of the tabs
      Value: Any positive integer value

Useful Tab Addons

Colorful Tabs : Colors every tab in a different color and makes them easy to distinguish while beautifying the overall appearance of the interface

colorful tabs
Colorful tabs

Tab Scope : Allows you to preview and navigate tab contents through a popup.

tab scope
Tab Scope

Undo Closed Tabs Button : This extension allows you to undo closed tabs via a toolbar and/or tab bar button or the right-click context menu.

Tab Sidebar : Displays previews of your tabs in your sidebar.

tab sidebar
Tab Sidebar

You can view other tab related addons here


  • You can drag and drop tabs on the tab bar to re-arrange them the way you want.
  • If you happen to find text like varunkashyap.wordpress.com which is not clickable but you want to open it, simple select the text and then drag and drop it onto the tab bar!

If I missed something or you have a favorite addon that I didn’t mention do let me know in the comments. Would You ?



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The thing with Firefox is that its our Loved Browser. IE may have the largest share, Opera may have some nice features, Maxthon may be hugely under rated but in a bunch of Internet/Computer enthusiasts its inevitable that Firefox makes its way into the conversation! One of the main reasons for this is the vast amount of customizations and productivity enhancements that Firefox has to offer.

Smart Keywords is one of them. Smart Keywords are an easy way to access, search and do more with your favorite websites right from the Location bar. Here is how to use them:

For Quick Searches

Say you want to Google (everybody does!), now the most obvious way would be to go to the search box, select Google as the search engine if its not already selected and then type in your query and press enter.

Now have a look at the "Smart Keyword Way" to search. Go to the location bar, write "g <space> <your query>" press enter and you have the search results. Which one is better? The thing is that you would have to associate "g" with Google once and then you can search right from the location bar. Not only this you can create search for any site that you want to search. Just right click on the search box and choose Add a Keyword for this Search… , type the keyword you want to associate with the site and that’s it, from now on you can search the site using that keyword. So if you Google a lot you can create a "g" smart keyword to Google.

add search
How to add a search

For Quick Access

Not only search you can easily associate keywords with any of your bookmark, so anything that you can bookmark you can access it easily through the location bar through a keyword. To add keywords to the search click Bookmarks > Organize Bookmarks

organize bookmarks
Click on Organize Bookmarks

Click on the bookmark you want to associate a keyword with and then Click on the More button, now you can enter and customize the keywords.

Add a smart keyword

Bonus Tips

  • While using smart keywords you can get rid of the search box and thus have more space for location bar or toolbar buttons
  • Pressing Alt-Enter instead of Enter when you search or type in a URL opens the search or the site in a new tab, you can use this to open search results and bookmarks in a new tab while using smart keywords




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Fileai.com is free service that allows you to transfer you files securely using only your web browser. According to fileai.com the service offers "Bittorrent Style File Transfers". You can use fileai to transfer files that are too big for an email attachment. All you need is a web browser and Java installed on your machine. Some of the salient features of fileai are:

  • Secure transfer, 128-bit AES encryption
  • P2P download, ideal if you want to share files with multiple users
  • Password authentication to allow access to the files on your computer.
  • File download starts instantly.
  • Less bandwidth usage (incase of multiple recipients)
  • Ability to limit the number of downloads
  • Use the same ID again
send receive
Send files Receive Files

What fileai basically does is, that it transfers file from your computer to the recipient(s) directly without uploading them to another server, so its obvious that both the parties have to be online and have their web browsers running for the transfer to work. To put it in perspective you can view it as file transfers through IM clients on steroids! that is more secure, can require authentication and Bittorrent Style!

File Transfer Status

Since it uses Java Applets, it requires your permission to run, so you will have to give it permission to run on your system, from then on the process is intuitive, you can drag and drop files or choose them via a dialog and when you have done so you will get a transaction ID and a link, this is required by the recipient in order to receive files. As soon as the recipient clicks on the link or enters the transaction id and approves the applet the transfer starts instantly.

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Downloading a lot of files these days is very easy and fast! A problem with this is that if you do not do some management, things start cluttering up even faster. Let’s look at one of such management techniques – "The Right Click Send To Menu". In this article we will be customizing the right click menu’s Send To option you get on clicking on a file or folder, plus there will be a few "Send To" tricks!

The procedure for customizing the "Send To" menu is same for both XP and Vista. Let’s say you want to add My Music to the Send To menu, you will have to:

  1. Open the run dialog box (Win + r) or Start > Run
  2. Type sendto and hit enter. The "Send To" folder will open.
  3. Then create a shortcut to the My Music folder in the Send To folder and you are done!

send to

Now when you Right Click on any file or folder and choose "Send To", you will see "My Music" listed there. You can add as many item to the Send To menu as you please. Not only folders but you can also add the following:

  • Disk drives (local or network)
  • Fax printers
  • Printers
  • Windows-based programs
  • Compressed (zipped) folders
  • The desktop
  • Mail recipients
  • The My Documents folder

To Remove an entry from the Send To menu you would just have to remove its shortcut from the SendTo folder.

Copying, Moving and Send To tricks:

First off just to set things straight Copying a file or folder means that a "Copy" of the file or folder is created in the new location, while Moving a file or folder means that you "Cut" the file or folder and then paste it in its new location. Since we have customized the Send To menu thus we have taken care of all this and we can achieve all this in one single step.

  • To Copy to the destination:
    • Simply Right Click on the file/folder and choose Send To and then the destination
  • To Move to the destination:
    • Left Click to select, Shift + Right Click on the file/folder and hold down Shift while you choose Send To and then the destination
  • To Create a Shortcut at destination:
    • Ctrl + Shift + Right Click on the file/folder and hold down Ctrl + Shift while you choose Send To and then the destination

Note that these tricks also apply in general when you drag and drop files from one window to another (only you don’t need to right click in that case).

Related: Ways to easily access folders

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Yesterday I wrote about ways to easily access frequently used folders, if you would like to know about ways to overhaul your Windows interface then head over to my article at MakeUseOf. I talk about getting the coveted 3d cube effect in Windows, some animations, breadcrumbs addressbar, tabs in Windows explorer and many other tools that can make your Windows interface look pretty and make them all the more useful and productive! Read the article here

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Do you find yourself often clicking through the folders to access a file/folder buried deep inside a directory tree? If you are a developer or a designer or have like to organize your files neatly into folders then you know what I am talking about, yes I mean going to C drive then Program Files then Java then JDKxxx then lib or perhaps C drive then XAMPP then HTDOCS or your deeply buried Movies folder or anything you get the point. Well if you want fast access to a folder than I present 3 ways to do them:

  • Place a shortcut on the desktop
  • Add the folder to My Computer for easy access
  • Access the folder via Drive letter (Create a Virtual Drive)

Lets quickly run over each of these. Placing a shortcut to the folder is the easiest and the most intuitive, but not the most useful specially if you like to keep the desktop clean like me, because it quickly clutters up once you start placing icons on the desktop, more over you don’t get easy access to the folders in the File dialogs and command line via this method

Add Folder to My Computer

folder 2 my pc

The next option is that you can Add the folder to My Computer, by this I mean that you have ready access to the folder along with all the drives(partitions) directly from My Computer. There is a complicated registry hack for this or you can do it the easy way with Folder2MyPC. Folder2MyPC allows you to choose a folder, a label, tooltip and Icon that you want to assign to the folder, click Create and refresh, there is your folder inside My Computer, You can also add applications to My Computer with the same application and Show/Hide other system folders. These folders will also be available for ready access from any file dialog under My Computer.

Assing Drive letters to Folder (Virtual Drive)

visual subst
Visual Subst

The last option is to create a virtual drive pointing to the folder so that you can access it readily with one click. This is done with the susbt command, but using subst can be cumbersome for many and moreover the settings are lost when you restart (although there is a workaround to this). However a better solution exists, its called Visual Subst, its nothing but a GUI front end the subst command, using Visual Subst you can choose folders and then assign drive letters to them, what’s more it saves your setting so that they are not lost when you restart!

Side by Side

So which one is better? All have their own pros and cons, assigning a drive letter gives you easy access via command line as well where as Adding to my computer allows more customization, adding shortcut to desktop or taskbar is the most straight forward. So I leave the choice up to you.. Can you think of other pros and cons or some other methods? Let me know in comments

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song birdSome time back I wrote about songbird. The Mozilla media player. I also briefly mentioned the ability to add extensions just like Firefox. Well as it turns out I have been addicted to the player and have already compiled a list of my favorite extensions for Songbird.


mediaalbum applet

1. AlbumApplet

The album applet allows you to browse your songs library by means of album art. Its similar to the Cover Flow animation of iTunes and iPod Touch fame. Don’t have album art for all of your albums? No problems the extension will get it for you and then save the requried information along with your media!
Get It!

2. MinimizeToTray

Minimizes Songbird into the system tray. It also displays a notification when a new song is played. Like it very very much. Its a port of the MinimizeToTray extension for Firefox and Thunder bird. Linux users can try the FireTray extension.
Get It!

3. Attack of the Clones

This extension adds another media flow to songbird that displays duplicate files in your media library, that way you can find them and remove them to reclaim some disk space. You can also click the “Kill the Clones!” button to indiscriminately delete the duplicates.
Get It!

4. GhostBusters

Actually a follow up of the above extension that displays broken or non existent tracks in your library. Again a good one for media management.
Get It!

5. Now Playing List

This addon adds a now playing list that gives you the ability to add songs to the queue. A good one for those with large libraries and those who hate to make playlists like me!
Get It!

6. YouPlayer

This is an addon for those of you who like to watch videos on video websites like YouTube. The extension opens up a nice window where you can watch and download videos from the web. You can drag a link to a browser window or right-click it and open in a new tab. You can add/drag other links, thus the playlist will work as a bookmarker.
Get It!

7. Metrics Media Page

It allows you to visualize your library. You can see your collection in living colour. Graph different properties on pie and bar charts to discover the anatomy of your collection. See how long a playlist is, or how much disk space it takes up. Look at how your music collection has developed over time.Get It!

8. Background

This will allow you to change songbird’s background with an image or a color and make other changes to UI elements. Looks very cool. You can use any image to style up your bird!
Get It

9. BirdTitle

This extension allows you to change Songbird’s window title to whatever you want, such as the current song being played, make track information scroll on your taskbar and act as a track change notifier.
Get It!

10. Flickr Extension

This addon displays a slideshow of pictures related to the media you are playing. Nice if you don’t have anything else to do while listening songs!
Get It!

What are your favorite songbird extension? or feathers? What features would you like to see?


Related: Firefox Custom Branding

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