31 October 2010

Happy Halloween From Appatic.com

A Jack-o-Lantern in a Pumpkin Patch, Canada

Hope all of you in that happen to celebrate Halloween have a good time.  Now just some quick reminder on Halloween related Appatic Posts:

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Eerie Autumn Windows 7 Theme For Halloween 2010

The first official Windows 7 theme from Microsoft. But if you using Vista or XP. You may like to just get a hold of the Desktop Backgrounds. For that just follow this link.

Windows 7 Halloween Theme Pack

A nice third party Halloween Windows 7 Theme.

Halloween Pumpkin Carver In Silverlight

Now with new animation and sound effects!.

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30 October 2010

Install The Original Tablet PC Microsoft Snipping Tool In Any Windows XP

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While it is well known that Windows XP continues to be the most used Windows OS, many don’t know certain facts of why it is so. There are many things that contributed to that, apart the fact it is the one that has been the most time out in the market. Something that just days ago ended. At least when it comes on it being officially for sale at any level. But the fact I want to touch on is that Windows XP is the Windows OS that had the most versions out. There were 10 different editions of it. Some introduced very specific added functionality and features.  That later were built into Windows Vista and refined for Windows 7.

Windows XP Tablet Edition had 2 iterations, and it introduced the Microsoft Snipping Tool.  Something that now comes by default enabled in Windows 7 and that was a accessory tool in Windows Vista not enabled by default.

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The Snipping Tool was created to be the third big app for Tablet and Slate PC. It lets you highlight, mark, point, cut and capture whatever you want, that happens to be appearing in your desktop.  Here is how to install the original and real Snipping Tool in any Windows XP version.

Base Requirements

  • A up to date XP SP3
  • .NET framework  3.5 SP1
  • Windows Media Player 11

Installation

In order for the Snipping Tool to run in  any Windows XP edition, you need the dependencies that the Snipping Tool uses, that the Windows XP Tablet Edition has. Fortunately, you can get them easily. Just follow the guide:

  • 2.-Follow its process until it finishes (be patient)
  • 3.-Download the Microsoft Experience Pack zip (check the linkage section in this post for the link)
  • 4.-Extract the contents (A Folder) to your Program Files folder that is located at C:
  • 5.-Open the Microsoft Experience Pack sub-folder now residing in your Program Files folder
  • 6.-You will find the Snipping Tool.exe inside the MEP sub-folder and now you only need to create a desktop shortcut or adding it to the start menu. Whichever option you see fit.
  • 7.-Now just double click whichever shortcut you created for it. It should now be able to launch and run.
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Usage

Now that you got it running, just check out the functions it got by hovering over Snipping Tool Controls. 

By default, once you start the Snipping Tool, it will load up with cutter function and the splash screen on. If you hover the cutter function section, it will show the mode it got for you to choose from. Choose one and then try it out.

Now repeat the same process with the Marker function. Those two actions should give you a somewhat full idea of what you can do with the Snipping Tool.

MST Editor

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In the case of a selection made with the Cutter function, you can actually edit your selection with a built in editor. This allows you also mark a selection or to modify it. So, the editor is there as a way to add extra stuff to a selection or to also correct it without you having to redo it.

MST Options

The final reason the Microsoft Snipping Tool is still well sought after by Windows XP users, is because it got a lot of options. So I decided to show you the full extend of them via screenshots of what it got to offer instead of just doing a written summary.

General

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Capture Region

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Capture Window

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E-mail

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Print

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Save

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Some Notes

There are many snipping tools out there for Windows XP, the original Microsoft Snipping Tool continues to be one of the very best ones. And for good reason.  It got a great level of tweakability and it comes with a built in editor. Plus it can also be used with touch or with a digitizer when available.

So, if you are willing to invest 10 minutes in installing it. You can then have it running in any Windows XP version you happen to have.

 

But if you just want something similar, then take a look at Snippy.

Linkage

Windows XP original Snipping Tool                               <— Download Page

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19 October 2010

Eerie Autumn Windows 7 Theme For Halloween 2010

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Eerie Autumn is a  Halloween Windows 7 Theme from Microsoft. One Windows 7 theme that happens to be also one of the best holiday themed yet. It comes with 15 eerie desktop backgrounds and 12 spooky custom Windows System Sounds.

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Linkage

Eerie Autumn                            <— Direct Download Link

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Timer: A Simple Online Chronometer

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Timer by Ian Jorgensen is one of those “Simple & Basic as it can be” kind of apps. It is a minimalistic web based chronometer. It can count up and it can count down. That is it.

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To count up you only need to load the site and then hit Enter or Space to start or pause a count. To clear a time count you only hit Esc.

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To count down you need to type in a desired time to count down from. The limit being 999 minutes. Once you start a countdown, Timer will go White & Black. You start or pause the countdown with Enter or Space and clear it with Esc.

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           (Timer Running On Bubbles As a Desktop App)

 

Thanks to it being so simple and basic, you can easily turn in into a desktop app with Bubbles (SSB Manager)  or with Chrome/Iron by setting it its own Application Shortcut.

Given that its minimalism is probably by design, the only setting it would have also liked is if it had a way to resize the timer size. Other than that it does what it must do, the way the dev obviously intended it to.

Linkage

Timer

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18 October 2010

Security Screensaver 2.0: A Screensaver App for Microsoft Security Essentials

MSE logo                                DeviantART logo

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) has been on a roll since its 1.0 release. It has won ton of accolades and users because of how good it is. Something that is of course putting many in the PC security biz quite nervous. But if you are already using it, you already should know this. And if you aren’t yet using it, then you should really consider taking a look at it.

While MSE 2.0 is already in beta testing, we still don’t know the final new feature set it could bring. But there is a feature many are claiming for as a must for 2.0 that they wish 1.0 would have :

Automatic Idle Time Triggered Scans.

Security Screensaver 2.0 is a little utility by jwils876 from DeviantART aiming to fill that feature gap. It uses the PC power management settings to make its magic. So if you got default PC P.M settings or if you let your PC use Screensavers when idle, SES could be the way to put those idle PC time to good use. By scanning your PC only when you are not using it.

 

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How to install

  • 1.-Download file
  • 2.-Extract to a folder and put that folder in your Documents main folder.
  • 3.-Right-Click on Security Screensaver.scr or Security Screensaver NG.scr to Install

(The first will display a visible cmd prompt showing you what the file is doing, the NG version will not show you the cmd prompt while still doing the same)

  • 4.-Now Right-Click over a empty space in your Desktop and select Personalize.
  • 5.-Go to your Screensaver Options
  • 6.-Make sure that the MSE Security Screensaver 2.0 is your default screensaver.
  • 7.-Adjust your Screensaver settings wait time if needed.

Now you are done, Security Screensaver 2.0 should work and put your PC to scan with MSE whenever you are not using it.

Security Screensaver 2.0 is a great utility for those using MSE that happen to leave their PC always on, but use it most of the day. Or for those home family shared PC’s. Works on XP, Vista & 7.

Linkage

MSE screensaver Info

Security Screensaver 2.0                                <— Direct Download

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via  IntoWindows

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17 October 2010

Install Windows Vista Gadgets Sidebar In Windows XP

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The most noticeable new feature when Windows Vista first appeared (for sale) back in january of 2006, was without a doubt the Windows Sidebar. Later more known non-officially as Windows Vista Sidebar, because of the little mutation it went once it crossed over to Windows 7 where it became simply Windows Gadgets, as it lost the sidebar aspect of it.

XP users at that time, and during the first 2 years of Vista availability, saw many 3rd party copies of the concept come and go. Some ok, some horrible and one or two quite good. But none were excellent or easy to use and mantain fresh, because they were not the real thing.

But then, at the very last of that series of Windows Sidebar knockoffs, the real deal appeared thanks to the originators and followers of Project Alky. A project that had the goal to bring Vista Only features to XP.

So, long story short; here it is the real Windows Vista Gadgets Sidebar for XP.

XP_Sidebar

Requirements

  • A up to date XP SP3
  • .NET Framework 3.5 SP1

(recommended in order to get the best performance, stability and compatibility)

Installation

  • 1.-Download the RAR package from the download page you can access in the Linkage section of this post,
  • 2.-Extract the contents into a folder. For this, you will need to use WinRAR or 7-zip,
  • 3.-Open the extracted folder and then open the sub-folder called “Alky For Applications”,
  • 4.-Execute installer.msi and follow its process until installed.
  • 5.-Return to the main folder. Now execute Windows_Sidebar_Installer.exe, follow its process until installed.
  • 6.-Finally, you only need to execute and install Gadget Extractor.msi.
  • 7.-Once finished, you are done and the Windows Vista Sidebar is now ready to run in XP. You should now have a Windows Sidebar desktop icon or start menu entry. Launch it and check it out.

Usage

Now that you got the Windows Vista Sidebar running perfectly in XP, there are just  two things to check and setup before you can start happily using it.

First, go and open your Control Panel (In Basic View) and check if you got a Windows Sidebar Properties item in it. If it is there from the let go, then that means it is now perfectly integrated. If you don’t see it right away, reboot and check again. It should be there.

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Open the Windows Sidebar Properties. Configure its settings to your liking. Click Ok

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You can now start using it. To add Windows Gadgets to it, just open the Gadget Gallery viewer by clicking in the “+”’symbol at the top of the Windows Sidebar. To search for more Windows Gadgets, just click on the “Get more gadgets online” link at the bottom right of the Gadget Gallery viewer.

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That is it, now Enjoy!.

 

Linkage

Windows Vista Sidebar For XP                                     <—Download Link

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12 October 2010

Best Of Bing 4 Windows 7 Theme

Bing Logo

Bing has released yet another of its Best Of themepacks for Windows 7. You can get a preview of it along the past ones at the page linked below, where you can also download them all in a single go:

Bing’s Best Windows 7 Themes

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Unsuck It: Business Jargon Dictionary

unsuck it logo

If you have been in a Office environment long enough you will like this site. If you are new to the whole Office environment, then this site is not just amusing, but educative.

Unsuck It is a business jargon dictionary with a lot of  humor and cynicism added into the mix. It allows you to figure out what the hell that executive guy at your weekly meeting, was actually talking about.

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So if you input a business meeting word like: “Bucketize”, “Superhero” or “Mediable” it will return you the clear meaning of it.

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And after you have got the actual meaning of it. You can share it to the world on twitter or get back at whoever said that by E-mail.

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But if you want to extend your business jargon knowledge beyond your initial doubt. You can also browse the dictionary current contents. Something that should prepare you well enough to survive any kind of business meeting with both your sanity and job intact.

Unsuck it is a very creative, very well designed web project that manages to amuse while actually serving a purpose. One that should not exist, but since it does, why not tackle it down with some humor?.

Linkage

Unsuck It

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Ploy.co: A TwitPic Search Engine

Ploy.com Logo

Ploy.co is a TwitPic specific online Twitter Image Search Engine.

It is still kind of new, but it does return good results. I would like it better if it had more functions and would support not just TwitPic, but all of the Top 5 Twitter image hosts. But at least it works and it looks good enough.

The reason i took the time to write about this one in particular, is because a previous Twitter Image Search engine i had written about is now gone. So this is a decent replacement while something better appears or Ploy.co manages to evolve into something better.

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Linkage

Ploy.co

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11 October 2010

FbNotifier: Facebook Messages And Notifications Alerts For Your Windows Desktop

Fbnotifier logo

FbNotifier is a Open Source, NET 4.0 based app from CodePlex by Atanasbakalov. It brings Facebook messages and notifications alerts to your Windows Desktop.

Once installed, it sits as a icon in your Windows System Tray. It it is configured to check for updates every 30 seconds, so if new updates happen in Facebook side, you will receive them right away.

Real size system tray icon

When a alert comes in, it looks like any standard alter you are used to see from Live Messenger or any other IM client. Clicking on a coming alert will open your browser and direct you to the Facebook Message or to the source of the Facebook Notification.

real size alert 

If you double-click the fbnotifier icon, it will open Facebook start in your default browser. But if you right-click on it, that will show the menu you have to interact with this little app.

Selecting “View Latest News” will display a right sidebar in your desktop with the most recent unchecked/unread Facebook Notifications and Messages.But a single click in the icon also does the same main function of course.

real size sidebar

While having the FbNotifier sidebar open, you can also choose to pin it to the desktop so it stays visible. Otherwise it will go to the background, but will stay active until you close it.

Going to “Options” in the menu will launch the settings window you are able to configure. In this case that reduces to the periodicity of the update checking,  the choice of making the fbnotifier start with windows or not, and selecting what kind of animation (from 2 available) you want to see whenever a new alert comes in.

real size settings window

FbNotifier is a simple and lightweight of integrating Facebook in your desktop without the need of a actual desktop client or the need of leaving a browser tab open all day. This Facebook Notifier works in XP, Vista & 7.

Linkage

Facebook Notifier Info  

fbNotifier                                    <—Direct Download Link

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10 October 2010

1 Year Of Appatic

Appatic.com Logo

One year ago, i started full steam with Appatic.  Something that was not sudden at all. I actually had bought the domain months before, set it up with Blogger and pretty much prepared everything that had to be done in advance of even writing a single post. 

Then in October, i finally started doing some posts on things i had been interested writing about for months and some others that had recently captured my attention.

And here we are 12 months later, a blog with 250 blog posts and a pretty decent growth in visitors month after month, week by week, day by day.  And while i actually wanted to have 500 blog posts by now originally. 250 is an OK mark.

And because of those two marks, the 1st year anniversary and the 250 blog posts, i can now say that the blog is fully cemented to go the distance. Whatever that gets to be. For the moment i just want to thank everyone that reads this blog regularly and those who communicate with me about it.

But now, it is time to start making Appatic second year a lot better than the first one.



250

Appatic.com Logo

This marks Post #250 in Appatic.  A mark that coincides with the One Year Anniversary of the blog itself.

Because of these two marks, i will be slowly upgrading the blog with more and better features and a more regular posting pace.  These are changes that should become evident in the coming weeks.

Appatic will now also be accepting submissions, review request and even guest blog posts.  A contact form (instant and anonymous)will also be added. Other bigger changes will come, but only after those three initial ones.



URL X-Ray: Find Out Where Shortened URLs Lead To Without Clicking

Url X-Ray logo

It is very common to be used to shorturls, if you are using Twitter or any other Social Messaging Network. But not if you find one outside of them, like in a forum, blog or site. While they are not meant to be found outside SMN’s, thanks to these links being re-shared and aggregated everywhere, is now more and more common to encounter them all around the web. 

URL X-Ray is a simple way to resolve a shortened url and see where it leads without clicking on it first or you depending on installing a browser specific extension/userscript to resolve it for you.

 

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Just copy & paste the short url into the site form and click the “X-Ray” button, and it will show you where its leads to.

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And if you think it is something that you may need often. You cannot only bookmark the page for later, but carry the site functionally into your browser, thanks to it offering a bookmarklet. But if that is not enough, you could also convert it into a SSB app with Bubbles.

Linkage

URL X-Ray

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07 October 2010

Echo: A Excellent WPF based Last.FM Stream Radio Player App

Thirteen23 logo

Thirteen23 is a Startup focused on UI-UX geared .NET App development (most of the time) that works in WPF and Silverlight. I find their Apps to be quite interesting so i am reviewing my favorites.

EchoApp Logo

There are many Last.FM apps out there, but there aren’t many really good ones, much less when it comes to desktop based ones, that happen to be focused in the Last.FM Stream Radio part of Last.FM.

Echo is a WPF/NET 3.5 based Portable (Folder Contained) app that integrates Last.FM Stream Radio into a rich, intuitive and yet simple experience for your Windows OS desktop.

Usage

First, you need to download the Echo App zip and extract the folder into a USB drive if you plan to carry it around or to your Program Files folder. If you want to be able to launch Echo from Start > Search (in the case of Windows Vista and Windows 7). Just copy and paste the exe file anywhere into your “All Programs” list in the Start Menu. In the case of Windows XP, you can add a shortcut in the Start Menu and Desktop. This will make the Echo app appear right away whenever you call it via Windows Search.

Now lets take quick tour around the app:

Top Artists

Echo Top Artists

Load up Echo and the first thing you will see as it wakes up is the current Top Artists in Last.FM. These floating band/artist names represent the most played during the last 24hrs. This section will always serve as your Start Screen when using Echo and it is represented by the 3 stars icon.

Recent Stations

echo recent stations

Represented by the clock icon, it will show your Radio Station history while using the app in a chronologic ordered  list. If you click its icon when playing a song, the list will appear along side the Radio Station View.

Favorite Stations

favorite stations

Same kind of view and behavior than with Recent Stations. It is represented by a single star, just like you are used to in IE or any other browser.

Radio Station View / Player View

Echo Radio Station View 

The Radio Station View (A.K.A Player View) will not show until you search for a band name. Search for a band in the “Start a Radio Station” search field to initiate it.

Once you do, it will usually give you a song from the band you searched for. But not always. In the case you don’t see a actual song from the band you were searching for right away, it will offer you a song from a similar band to the one you searched for. If you don’t agree with what you got as first play, just skip to the next song – and band – by forwarding to any of the 2 songs queued behind the one that is playing.

Echo’s Player view as you can see is simple but very pretty. I also happen to find it familiar, because the whole Echo UI-UX is like a mix of the design style you can find in HTC Sense and in Zune Software.  But that is of course, just my opinion.

While you play songs in this view, you got several specific options to explore:

1.-Favorite

Save the station to the Favorite Stations list

2.-Peek

Check what songs will follow the one you are listening by hovering on the album covers.

3.-Forward

Using the button or by clicking on one of the queued songs in the album covers behind the one that is playing

4.-Control Volume

Use the volume button by hovering it with your cursor and then sliding up and down while holding it.

5.-Choose A Similar Radio Station

Click in a band name from the linked-up bands on the Similar Bands list that Echo displays,  that changes as songs play or as you change stations.

6.-Activate Slideshow View

Echo Slideshow View

Quite similar if not identical to the one from Zune Software, this view will display photos from the band or artist while the song plays. The photos will pan to the side or zoom in as they transition from one to one, fading in and fading out.

7.-Activate  Taskbar View

Echo Taskbar View

Also very similar to the one from Zune Software, this view will show the album cover from the song playing, while at the same time a little level moves to indicate the progress of the track. Control will appear if you hover with your cursor.

Some Notes

From the apps that i have been able to use from Thirteen23, it remains a favorite of mine. But i also find it  the very best Windows based Last.FM Stream Radio Player App (yeah, such a mouthful) that you can use and enjoy.

For that reason, i just had to share it. And it is a app that is actually no longer formally being offered by Thirteen23. The reason i got from them, i will keep to myself. But you should still be able to use it. just grab it while its hot and lets hope that Thirteen23 don’t issues me a takedown.

It can be used in Windows XP, Vista & 7.  It needs the .NET 3.5 framework  to be installed in order to run, but this is already installed by default in Vista SP2 and Windows 7. If you are in XP please check before you run it.

Enjoy!

*Update* (12/10/10): You DO CAN use it from anywhere in the world. I use it sometimes and i am in Mexico City.  Just that you need to be behind a USA IP before launching it. Sorry for not adding that detail originally.

Linkage

Echo                     <—Direct Download Page

 

*Update 2* (19/07/2013): It no longer works.  Last.FM has now finally pulled the plug on their Radio API. Unfortunate because it was such a great app.

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