SharpKeys: Turn your Caps Lock key into a Google Search key.

From all the keys in our keyboard, not many users use the Caps Lock key as much. Hence, why not convert that into a much more useful key? With a application called SharpKeys we can do exactly that. For example, I have mapped the Caps Lock key into a Google Search key. So next time I want to use Google search, I simple click on the caps lock key.

SharpKeys Features

  • Download SharpKeys from the CodePlex and install it.
  • Click “Add” to start the remapping.  For the “FROM” key choose “Special:Caps Lock(00_3A)”
  • For the “TO” key, choose “Function: F10(00_44)”. We map it with F10 because this key is not exactly used a lot.

caps1a

  • A message will be displayed of the successful change.

caps2

  • Restart your computer. Now you can check out that the caps lock key does not work anymore.
  • In your desktop, right-click and select New >> Shortcut.
  • Enter the location of new shortcut.

caps3

  • Choose a name for your shortcut. The name does not matter in the actual process.

caps4

  • A new icon will be created in your desktop. Right-click and select “Properties”.
  • Type F10 in Shortcut Key box, click “Apply” and then “OK”.

caps5

Press the caps lock key and Google search will open. The caps lock key is no more used. The majority of the users do not really use that key and so turning this into a more useful key will help with productivity.

Do try it out and drop in your comments!

Link: SharpKeys

Take Screen Captures on Windows 8 With Free Software

Since Windows 8 supports touch-screen inputs, a screen capture software that works on say Windows 7 might not be suitable. I personally use Skitch for Windows, as it is free. Today, I tried out Windows Screen Capture Tool, which is a portable software that works on Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Windows Screen Capture

Windows Screen Capture Tool Features

  • Install the software from this download link (.zip file). It is portable and needs Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 on your computer.
  • The Screen Capture tool is metro styled and allow a range of options from full-screen capture, area capture, adding a watermark and Window Capture
  • There is support for keyboard short-cuts but with touch-screens for Windows 8, they might not be used as much.
  • The software allows insertion of text based watermarks on images.
  • The really nice feature of this software was that I found useful was that it could take screenshots with or without the cursor.
  • The only downside of this screen-capture tool was that it does not have a time-lapse feature that takes a screen-capture after say five or ten seconds.

If you have a Windows 8/7 desktop and need a portable software that works with metro UI, then try this one out.

Download Link: Windows Screen Capture Tool

(via TWC)

Get Popular Screenshot App Skitch Free on All Windows Platforms

I do not use own a Mac but some of our authors do (namely Vibin and Rahul). I am very happy with Windows but if there was one Mac software I really wanted on my Windows, it was the image editor Skitch. Skitch is great to take screenshots, add arrow pointers, text in different colors. Overall I found it was a great app for taking screenshots and as a blogger, I end up taking an incredible amount of scree shots.

A couple of days ago, I upgraded to Windows 8 and started looking around for some image editors which were free. To my surprise I found Skitch app for Windows 8.

Staying consistent with offering a free app on other platforms, Skitch also can be downloaded as a desktop version for older Windows version. It is supported on Windows XP/Vista and Windows 7.

Skitch Features

  • Skitch offers the option of taking screenshots and editing image files.
  • It is a Evernote product and hence we can directly store screenshots on Evernote accounts.
  • The functions are simplistic like using pointers, adding text to images, blurring out some part of the image and other basic functions like cropping, resizing and highlighting.

I would recommend Skitch highly for taking and sharing screenshots mainly as it is available free on many platforms. It is supported on Mac, iPhone, Android and now Windows.

Do try out Skitch and drop in your comments.

Link: Download Skitch

Winners of Backup4All Professional Giveaway

Two weeks ago, we announced a quick Giveaway contest, in which we were giving out licences to win Backup4All Professional software. The software works on Windows and should be very helpful to our winners.

The good news is that we have enough licences to give away to everyone who took part. That means there is not need for drawing lots to decide the lucky winners.

The Winners

  1. Manas
  2. Suyanto
  3. Briareoushex
  4. Owen
  5. Firdaus

Congratulations to the winners. You will be soon receiving your licence code to register the software via email. It will be sent to the email you left while leaving a comment.

Additionally you can download Backup4All Professional from here.

Link: Backup4All Professional

Software – Compress and Convert PNG Image Files

Yesterday, Joshua wrote a nice tutorial on how to disable small Gravatars in bbPress for better performance. The idea behind the post was if the images did not load up, it could improve the load time of the page.

In tech blogging, sometimes a good detailed flow of screenshots can explain things a lot better than words can. So images are unavoidable but it never hurts optimizing your images so that load time of the web page improves.

PNGGuauntlet is a free software which works on Windows and Mac platforms. It allows users to quickly reduce the size of PNG image files.

PNGGauntlet Features

  • The software allows reduction of file size without losing on image quality.
  • It can be used to optimize and overwrite the files directly. It basically means it can keep the original file name intact.
  • The image tool can be used to convert BMP, JPG, GIF and TIFF file format images  into PNG file format.

If you found this PNGGuantlet useful, you might also like checking out Photo Magician, which is a free software to resize images in a batch.

Do drop in your comments.

Link: PNGGauntlet

Backup4All Professional Giveaway Contest: Win 10 Licenses

Backing up your data from your computer is a very wise idea, but most people (me included) do not carry out a backup on a regular basis.

If you are using Windows and want a good data backup software, then here is your chance to win free licence for Backup4all Professional Software

.

Backup4All Professional Features

  • The software allows your to backup data not only locally but to FTP with SSL support.
  • The software can also be used to backup your email and browser profiles.
  • You can automate your backup options with predefined backup jobs for important folders like “My Documents”, “My Videos” , “My Pictures” and more.
  • The software works on Windows 7/Vista/ 2008 Server/ XP/ 2000. It requires 50MB free disk space.

Contest Rules:

The contest is simple. You have to retweet and share this post on Facebook publicly from the links below.

Leave a comment below to let us know that you have entered the contest. That makes you eligible to win a free licensed copy of Backup4All Professional.

We will be declaring the winners on 31st August 2012. The winners will be selected using Random.org

Link: Backup4All Professional

Online tool to keep track of your mentions on Facebook/Twitter

If your company has a social presence on the web, you must be getting a lot of mentions online, from a lot of sites including Twitter/Facebook etc. Tracking and responding to all those comments can be overwhelming. Sure, you can use Google Alerts(even on a feed reader), but all you get is Google results which doesn’t get updated in real-time.

Mention is a new app (available on almost every platform) which tries to solve this.

Mention app

To get started, you got to download the app or just use the web version. The app with a neat iOS-inspired interface asks you to setup your alert, you can also add aliases to the main keyword. Mention will look for your keyword in lot of sites – including Facebook, Twitter, News, Blogs, Images and more.

The app is pretty fast in fetching new mentions of your keyword and also has anti-noise technology built in, to filter spam. If you’re using the Chrome app, you’ll be greeted with desktop notifications (or else E-mail notifications).

Each alert can be turned into a task, so that you can respond to the mention later – you can connect your social accounts to respond directly, or even invite your friends who are using the app. That way, this app can be great for team collaboration.

You get over 1000 mentions with the free account, which will get renewed every month. It does seem like worth paying for.

Mention is available as a free download for Windows, Mac, Linux, Web and also as a Chrome app. The iPhone app seem to be coming soon.

Link: Mention

[Update: You can get the iPhone app now, right from the iTunes Appstore.]

Ubuntu Server + CrashPlan + Backup + Remote Management using Mac

We already use rsanpshot for backups. But its always feel safe to have more than one kind of backup.

For other type of backup, we use Crashplan. They support all major platforms, provides many options and have their service decently priced. It will take a separate post to list down all things I like about Crashplan so lets get back to work here!

What I wanted to do:

  1. Run Crashplan on Ubuntu Headless Server.
  2. Manage it using Crashplan desktop software on my Mac.
I guess you can start remote X session or something like that on a Ubuntu server but that will be overkill for server. Specially when you can achieve above tasks in just 2 minutes using following commands.

Preparation

Crashplan on Ubuntu will need Java Runtime (JRE). Crashplan can install it itself but I prefer to have more control over which JRE I end up putting on our server. They have almost 5 version of JAVA for Ubuntu!

Anyway, just run following command as root user or with sudo access:

apt-get install openjdk-7-jre-headless

Install Crashplan

Next, we will install Crashplan directly.

Go to Crashplan site, select Linux version and copy-download link to grab latest Crashplan version. Crashplan 3.2.1 is latest as of July 2012.

Run following commands to download, uncompress and install CrashPlan or CrashPlan+

wget http://download.crashplan.com/installs/linux/install/CrashPlan/CrashPlan_3.2.1_Linux.tgz
tar -zxvf CrashPlan_3.2.1_Linux.tgz
cd CrashPlan-install
./install.sh

If you are using CrashPlan PRO, use following…

wget http://download.crashplan.com/installs/linux/install/CrashPlanPRO/CrashPlanPRO_3.5.3_Linux.tgz
tar -zxvf CrashPlanPRO_3.5.3_Linux.tgz
cd CrashPlanPRO-install
./install.sh

Installer will ask you for many questions. Just keep hitting enter keys. Defaults options are all good to go ahead!

At this point Crashplan is running on your Ubuntu Server but it’s not backing anything yet! We will use Crashplan’s Desktop edition for Mac to start backup.

Troubleshooting

If your installation ends with warning:

Your Linux system is currently configured to watch 8192 files in real time.
We recommend using a larger value; see the CrashPlan support site for details

Then you need to tweak sysctl file:

/etc/sysctl.d/custom.conf

Add…

fs.inotify.max_user_watches=1048576

Save changes…

sysctl -p

Remote Management UI (using Mac)

Go to Crashplan’s site. This time download Crashplan for Mac & Install it.

If you have started Crashplan after installation, quit it.

Open terminal to edit Crashplan config file…

vim /Applications/CrashPlan.app/Contents/Resources/Java/conf/ui.properties

You can use any text-editor in case you don’e like Vim.

Find a line like below:

#servicePort=4243

Change it to:

servicePort=4200

Note that we have changed port number from 4243 to 4200 (in case you thought we just uncomment it!).

Save file. Exit vim.

Create SSH Tunnel from your mac to remote Ubuntu server using a command-like below:

ssh -L 4200:localhost:4243 username@hostname

Replace username and hostname with your a real username on your hostname. You can put your server IP address also.

After you run above command, you will be logged into a shell on your server. Keep it running as its connecting your desktop crashplan to your server crashplan!

Finally, you can start your Crashplan on Mac and configure backup for your Ubuntu Server!

In case you are already using Crashplan to manage your Mac’s local backup:

  • You will need to exit from shell (to break connection)
  • comment-out “servicePort” line in Crashplan config
  • Restrat Crashplan so it will work with Mac’s local config

There is no easy-way to switch between local & remote machines. (Atleast at the time of writing this…)

[Windows Tip] Get Notified When Any Program Registers Itself to Run at System Startup

The one issue with installing a new software is that very often it automatically registers itself to Run during system start-up. I personally do not like this as at times it can really slow down my computer.  Many of these applications, register themselves without notifying the users.

There is a discreet application which does exactly that. It keeps an eye on all the programs that register themselves to run during Windows Start-up.

Download and Install StartUp Eye a free software. Run the software to allow it to Run at Start up and play up an alarm whenever there are changes in the registry for Windows start-up.

I tested it out by changing the settings of Skype to run during start-up and sure enough I got a pop-up warning me about changes.

StartUp_Screenshot

Why having lesser applications run during start-up?

The lesser the applications run during system start-up, lesser resources of the computer are used. It also speeds up the start-up time for the computer.

Another reasons is a lot of a programs that run in the background during start-up can end up consuming more resources. If you are using a laptop like I do, it can end up taking time off your battery.

Ideally only critical software is needed to run during start-up like anti-virus and firewall applications.

You might want to check this simple tutorial on how to go about removing applications running during Windows start-up.

Do drop in your comments.

Link: StartUp Eye

Metro Styled Twitter Client for Windows – MetroTwit

Metro style tiles are catching a lot of attention, thanks to the Windows 8 adopting it so whole-heartedly. One service which can really work well with tiles is Twitter. Lists in the form of columns is a natural way of organization for almost every desktop client for Twitter. MetroTwit also takes advantage of that format.

Metro_Twit

MetroTwit Features

  • The twitter client requires runs on Windows but requires .net 4.0 framework. Read this post on how to go about downloading Microsoft .Net 4.0 Framework.
  • The lists can be added to show up as tiles which can be moved around easily.
  • Alerts showing up on the desktop can also be extensively tweaked by allowing only tweets from a particular list showing up.

I like using TweetDeck which is based on HTML5 but MetroTwit seemed interesting enough for me to try it for a day. I would have swapped it for TweetDeck, except it does not have the option of using multiple Twitter accounts and no option of scheduling tweets.

If you have Windows 7, do try out MetroTwit and drop in your views in comments.

Link: MetroTwit

Related: Use Twinbow to manage Twitter with a color-coded strategy