Store and sync your open tabs and files with a single click

While researching something online, you might get an important call or need to go somewhere to a important meeting. That can be irritating especially as you need to save your files and sync them over Google Drive or Dropbox and save your browser tabs with a handy extension. CupCloud gets both syncing files and tabs working with a single click.

Firstly download CupCloud and install it on your computer. It works with Windows and OS X. I have tested it only on my Windows PC.

Now start working and when ever you need to save a bunch of tabs and word and excel documents open on your computer, just start the CupCloud software and click on “Cup”.

How Cup Cloud Works
How Cup Cloud Works

Once done, it will store all your open tabs and files with a single click.

Save  and manage multiple collections of tabs and files you need
Save and manage multiple collections of tabs and files you need

If you create an account with Cup Cloud, you can open and sync tabs and folders across different computers. Currently Cup Cloud supports Chrome, Safari and among browsers. It also supports MS Word, Excel and Power Point files along with support for Windows Explorer and Mac Finder.

Do note that the product is still in beta and promises to support more file types.

Do try out Cup Cloud and let me know what you think of it in your comments.

Link: Cup Cloud

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

Has Microsoft Turned into a Company of “Second Best” Products

History has shown that the greatest of empires can rule with seemingly no challenger for centuries, but end up collapsing rapidly in less than a decade. As I write this post on my Windows 8 laptop, I wonder if that is what is happening to Microsoft. Is Microsoft a doomed empire in decline?

For starters let me state that I actually did use Microsoft products a lot. I have used a Windows PC all my life. Almost ten years ago, I used Internet Explorer everyday, Windows Media player and Microsoft Office. My primary email account was on Hotmail, which was atleast since the time I created the account, a Microsoft product. I was not alone either, most friends in college, family members and colleagues used all things Microsoft.

Microsoft Windows Ballmer

Today, Microsoft is not the dominant factor in the personal technology we use everyday. I use Chrome instead of Internet Explorer, VLC player instead of Windows Media player and Google Docs instead of Office. I have not opened my Hotmail account for over a year now, I exclusively use Gmail.

I still use Windows 8 on my laptop but my second device (mobile phones) runs on Android. It is not just me, but almost everyone I know, is not using Microsoft products as their first choice products. I wonder if Microsoft has actually become a company full of ‘second place’ products.

Microsoft’s “second place” syndrome

Second place as a term is very relative. For me it boils down to number of users using a product as their most preferred one. Here MS products seem to be missing the mark increasingly. They are basically creating products which are making up the numbers. For instance Bing as a search engine, Windows Phone, Windows tablets, SkyDrive cloud sync service, email service with Hotmail and Outlook.com are all at the moment making up the competition and not dominating. Incredibly the once dominant Internet Explorer has  also slipped to second place over the past few months.

Microsoft_products

It still dominates OS usage with its Windows OS. I can see it trying to do something different to stay relevant in the post-PC world with Windows 8, but it has honestly in my experience not got its act together. I use Windows 8 and the apps eco-system around it resembles a ghost town. Even on the mobile platform, app developers are not showing much enthusiasm.

Even on Windows platform, I am using Chrome 80% of the time. If I got myself a tablet, I might end up even lesser time on my laptop which is the sole Microsoft product I am using.

Even their internet products are not really making a big mark. It recently started So.cl, a social network launched earlier this month. It resembles a Facebook designed like Pinterest, but without the social interaction. It has massive failures on the internet business front, with one major disaster being the purchase of advertisement platform Aquantive. Microsoft finally had to write-off the purchase of Aquantive and ended up reporting a loss for the first time in its history.

It seems Microsoft has over the past five years, stopped being the champion to beat but has become the slightly competitive second place challenger.

Competing on too many fronts

One might argue that Microsoft being in multiple products is the same as Google. But Google dominates many businesses it has got into. It dominates the mobile OS market with Android, YouTube has hardly any competition, Google Search is as solidly in first place as ever, Gmail seems to be marching along ruthlessly and recently with Nexus 7 it might be tasting hardware success. Google Maps is as Apple found recently, a very difficult product to replicate let alone replace.

Google and Microsoft differ in their approach. Google backs data and ruthlessly retires products which are not working out. It hardly carries out negative marketing campaigns and simply keep working on their mistakes.

Microsoft is from a much older culture, where corporations simply refuse to own up to mistakes. They prefer the solid facade of indestructibility but it sometimes weakens the company from inside. Today, Microsoft is shrinking in terms of its revenues and relevance. It is spread too thin and is fighting on many fronts.

It needs a Steve Jobs, who at his second innings at Apple, famously and ruthlessly focused on lesser products to spark a revival over a decade ago. Unfortunately, Microsoft does not seem to have anyone pulling them back a bit to focus on lesser but better products. Or may be this is just the natural cycle of every company and Microsoft slow decline is just inevitable.

What are your views on Microsoft? Do drop in your comments.

Image Credit: PcAuthority

Download Complete Windows Essentials 2012 – Offline Installer

As you know, Windows Live Essentials is a pack of Windows apps which includes Mail, Photo Gallery, SkyDrive, Live Writer and many more. With Windows 8 release not so far away, Microsoft released the preview version of the updated Windows Live Essentials, which is now called ‘Windows Essentials 2012’ i.e. without the ‘Live’ branding.

Essentials2012

The updated pack includes the new SkyDrive which was released for Windows 8, an advanced Movie Maker and Photo Gallery app.

Movie Maker is now hardware-accelerated and includes video stabilization features, just like YouTube. One out-of-the-box feature included in Movie maker is, the ability to add royalty-free soundtracks to your videos, with the help of music search engines like AudioMicro (many videos on YouTube are brought down for adding soundtracks with no appropriate rights).

While everyone doubted if Live Writer will get updated, Microsoft did care about bloggers and included it in the pack. But, it doesn’t really have any improvements (I’m writing this on Live Writer 2012). Also, it still wears the ‘Live’ branding which is strange.

The pack will work on both Windows 8 as well as Windows 7.

So if you’re running any of those two OSes, grab and try Windows Essentials 2012, either through web installer or the good old offline installer. Note that, with web installer you’ll be able to choose which programs you want to download, instead of downloading the whole pack.

Link: Web installer | Offline installer

Windows 8 hits RTM: General Release on 26th October

8Just a few weeks after the Release preview, Microsoft confirms that Windows 8 is released to manufacture (RTM). That apparently means, the final version of Windows 8 is now available for OEMs to make necessary changes to their existing hardware.

It all started with the BUILD conference in September 2011, and now RTM is a big milestone for Microsoft. The good news is that, if you’re a Technet or MSDN subscriber, you can download the official (and final) version of Windows 8 starting from August 15th.

The public release of Windows 8 will take place on October 26th, to which you can upgrade at a price of 39.99$ (much cheaper than Windows 7 upgrade prices) or by buying a all new Windows 8 PC.

Also, if you’re developer, you can access the final version of Visual Studio 2012 to make apps, and put them in the Windows store (which is still not accessible from the web).

With Microsoft going all Metro, including Outlook.com replacing Hotmail (by the way, get your @outlook.com address before it’s too late!), it’ll be interesting to see how customers will like the new Microsoft.

Mean while, you can always download the Release preview from Microsoft’s site.

Link: Building Windows 8 blog

Automatically Store Photos From Your Camera to Dropbox [Desktop]

Dropbox is ramping up its service in a big way over the past few days. For starters it has a new design for it’s website. It also has introduced photo-storing features from mobile phones and PCs. These new options by Dropbox are very important as soon it will face competition from Google and Microsoft with their own cloud storage and sync services.

Considering a lot of photos are taken from mobile phones, this could a make or break feature for Dropbox. It helps that Dropbox is not part of a larger company, which allows a lot of third-party apps to work with it. For example you can read how I use Dropbox to automatically store images from my Facebook account.

Dropbox (Beta) on Desktops for Connected Devices

  • Download the latest beta version of Dropbox and install it.
  • Connect your digital camera or mobile phone which has your photos. The connected device can be opened on Auto-Play using Dropbox. So make sure on your Windows computer, Auto-play option is not disabled.

  • Click on the Dropbox option and all the photos from your camera are transferred onto a folder on dropbox.

  • This folder is usually named “Camera Uploads”. Once you update your photos, you will get 3GB additional space.

Saving Photos from your Android phone to Dropbox

If you have a Android phone, then download the Dropbox App on it. This will automatically sync your photos from your phone onto your Dropbox account.

Mac and Linux users can also avail of the latest beta build from the forum link below, to photo-storing is enabled on their computers too.

Direct Download Link: Dropbox Beta (Windows) | Dropbox (Android)

Link: Dropbox Experimental Build Forum

[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

Customize Windows 8 Metro UI with Metro UI Tweaker

Windows 8 the next operating system in queue from Microsoft, boasts of an entirely new user interface called the Metro UI. Metro UI is the default Start screen on Windows 8 which sports a set of tiled boxes on a green background. These tiles are Live and they fetch news / mails / current status depending on the application.

Finally there is a one-stop solution for tweaking Windows 8 Metro UI and other features on Windows 8 explorer. In fact it can be called as a ‘live’ replacement for the old Start menu and the taskbar. The following screenshot gives us an idea of how the Metro UI looks like.

Windows 8 Metro UI

For this all you have to do is to run the Metro UI Tweaker ( portable EXE file in Download link at the bottom) and select the applicable options.

tweak_windows_8_metro_ui_tweaker

How to Customize Metro UI

  • Disable Metro Start menu to get back Windows 7 like Start Menu( screenshot below)
Windows 7 start menu in Windows 8
Windows 7 start menu in Windows 8
  • Disable the Explorer Ribbons to get back normal Windows 7 like explorer (screenshot below)

Remove ribbons in Windows 8 explorer

  • Add Log Off / Sleep / ShutDown / Lock / All application shortcuts to Metro UI (screenshot below)
  • Add any file or application to the Metro Start Menu.

Add shortcuts to Metro UI

Hope the tutorial answers all questions about partially or completely customizing the Windows 8 Metro UI, Windows 8 explorer. Do drop in your comments.

Links: Download Windows 8 Metro UI Tweaker

Free Software to Fix Dead Pixel on Monitors [Windows]

Even if your screen appears to be working fine, there still can be some dead pixels present which you are not aware of because that pixel always shows up only in a single color. It can be irritating to have dead pixels on your computer monitors.

 

How to find Dead Pixel:

  • Usually these pixels can be found by showing different colors in full-screen mode.
  • You can simply use paintbrush and create JPEG files of different colors for your screen resolution and display them in slide show mode one after the other to see if there is any dead pixel.
  • You can also try the LCD Pixel Fixer software( link below) and enter 1000 milliseconds delay between color changing to see these dead pixels.

Fixing Dead Pixels:

  • A dead pixel on your monitor/screen, may not be as dead as you think it is.
  • Sometimes these can be easily fixed by just letting your screen to show various colors at that point one after the other for two or three hours.
  • You can also try the LCD Pixel Fixer software which keeps on changing the color of the screen with the delay defined by you.
  • I made this software since I was not able to find anything working for such use on the net when I was annoyed with three dead pixels, so I thought of sharing this software with you.

.

  • Just enter the time delay in milliseconds on the screen you get right after opening the application and press enter or click proceed.
  • To exit simply press the ESC button or press SPACE to change the delay time.

Platform Supported: It requires Windows machines with .Net Framework installed (it’s already installed on most machines)

Download Link: LCD Pixel Fixer

Windows 8 to Allows Users to Sign-In with Picture Passwords!

When using a laptop or a desktop, signing into your computer after the screen is locked is mostly done with keyboards. But the same cannot be said about touch screens. Apple worked around this problem with its now famous, slider unlock feature.

Windows 8 will be used on tablets, PCs, laptops and even phones. So Microsoft had to come up with creative alternatives to securely lock touch screen devices without the use of virtual keyboards.

Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 will support signing into systems with picture passwords.

WIndows_8_Photo_password

Features of Photo Passwords

  • Windows 8 will allow syncing your desktops with your Live ID to sign-in to your computer or tablet. But there is no clarity if photo password will be extended to Live ID or just the Windows User Login ID.
  • Adding photo passwords with pre-defined user gestures for touch screens is a great idea, as on most tablets the virtual keyboard functionality is not as user-friendly as with a laptop or desktop.
  • There will be three separate gestures in a sequence, so even if smudges are left on a the screen, chances of someone being able to crack the sequence of gestures is quite rare.
  • One issue with photo passwords could be security, as it would be easy to look and remember someone’s gestures instead of trying to guess which key they pressed.

Video of Photo Passwords on Windows 8

It looks like Microsoft is putting in a lot of thought into Windows 8 and making sure it will be a OS that will be relevant for many years after it is released.

Check this list of confirmed features of Windows 8 for more details on Windows 8.

What are your views on Photo Passwords? Will they replace the current system of inserting alpha-numeric passwords? Do drop in your comments.

Related: Microsoft to introduce Windows Store