Saturday, March 29, 2008

Best Places to Get Free Books - The Ultimate Guide

When we were reviewing 10 of the best online resources for free books, we had a LOT of readers chime in with their own favorites as well. Thank you for all your helpful contributions!

In fact, we had so many suggestions, we have enough to compile a huge list from them, so here they are in no particular order:

1. ManyBooks - Free eBooks for your PDA, iPod, or eBook reader - Thanks Tony Bryan & abben
2. BookCrossing - Where real books are released into the wild to be found by others - Thanks Engtech
3. LibraryElf - The perfect companion to a public library system - Thanks Engtech
4. Scribd - Open library to publish and discover documents online - Thanks CincauHangus
5. Word Public Library - 400,000 PDF ebooks for download - Thanks Ellen
6. Free Tech Books - Free computer science and engineering books (+ lecture notes) - Thanks Ellen
7. Bookins - Swap real books with other readers - Thanks Jimbob
8. WellToldTales - Free short story podcasts (like audiobooks, but shorter) - Thanks Kevin C.
9. Wowio - Public domain, free legitimate copyrighted materials & one of the only with a selection of Comic Books - Thanks Jane and Art Dardia
10. BizBooktalk - Free book giveaway contests on Fridays - Thanks Brandon
11. MoochMuch - Organize your book lending with your friends - Thanks Bobby
12. CHMPDF - A collection of general interest and technical ebooks - Thanks Manish Garg & Brian Di Croce
13. Realtime Publishers - free IT eBooks by many of the world’s best authors - Thanks Kevin
14. FrugalReader - Trade Books for free - Thanks Brent
15. TitleTrader - Swap books, movies, and music - Thanks Brent
16. ZunaFish - Trade your old media and books items for new titles you’d rather have - Thanks Brent
17. SwapSimple - Swap your used books here - Thanks Brent
18. SwapThing - Community of users who swap items including books - Thanks Brent
19. BookCart - Internet paperback exchange - Thanks Brent
20. SF-Books - Exchange Sci-Fi Books here - Thanks Brent
21. PaperbackSwap - Swap books for free - Thanks jane dough, IBelieveInFairies, & Lauren
22. PinkMonkey - 450 Study Guides / Booknotes / Online Chapter Summary Notes and Analysis - Thanks Spellchecker
23. eBookWorld - Technical resources - Thanks 5n7p3r
24. Flaxx - IT and computer books - Thanks tejinder
25. Baen Library - Free science fiction and fantasy novels - Thanks lanthus & Glen Davis
26. LibraryThing - Social networking and free books - Thanks Michael
27. Online Books Page - Facilitates access to books that are freely readable over the Internet - Thanks Aman
28. Podiobooks - free audiobooks that you can subscribe to with iTunes or any other podcatcher - Thanks KJToo
29. BookRags - Research material in the form of eBooks - Thanks Henry Delany
30. Technical Books Online - Old tech books from the “vacuum tube age” of electronics- Thanks obiewiz
31. ebookSearchr - Google powered Thanks Rico & Rokker
32. Internet Archive - The Intenet indexed - that includes a vast text library - Thanks jojo
33. BookYards - Books, videos, education materials- Thanks Victor
34. Memoware - Free books for your PDA - Thanks Doug

The items below were taken from my original Top 10 list with full reviews (here and here)

1. Gutenberg Project Top 100 - Popular books from the oldest producer of free ebooks on the Internet
2. BookMooch - Community for exchanging used books
3. ebookSpyder - Specializes in technical books ranging anywhere from C# to AJAX
4. Google Book Search - Read the classics online
5. Dwalin - plain text novels
6. Free Computer Books - Technical resources about computers
7. Librivox - Audio works and podcasts of books
8. CliffsNotes - Get the notes to cram for the exam
9. WIkibooks - Free textbooks
10. DailyLit - Receive small parts of books via email

Top 10 Best Places to Get Free Books

In our fast paced world of email, and RSS feeds, sometimes it’s best to just slow down and read a good book…but if you’re unwilling to shell out big bucks for the latest bestseller - try out these great resources, and read to your hearts content!
1.Find Popular Public Domain Works With The Gutenberg Project Top 100 List

This site is the oldest producer of free ebooks on the Internet. Their collection, pieced together by thousands of volunteers, now amount to over 20,000 works which have fallen into public domain. With great numbers however, comes the headache of picking true literary gems from the fodder - That’s why this Top 100 page is so valuable.
2. Exchange Used Books With BookMooch

book mooch

Want a real physical book for a change? BookMooch is a community for exchanging used books. Under a points system, it lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want.
3.Get Technical Books With ebookspyder

ebook spyder

This site specializes in technical books ranging anywhere from C# to AJAX. Many commercial works can be found here though. This makes the legality of this particular site questionable… but we of course assume you own these books before you download them :)
4. Read the Classics Online with Google Book Search

google book search

This service has been giving Google a fair bit of copyright headaches, but has moved forward quite well in spite of the circumstances. It comes with a book-like interface which many people like - I am unfortunately not one of them. Maybe it’s just me, but I like to download my books rather than read it of a website. If you’re going to use this service, select ‘full view books’ under the options page for best effect
5. Download Plain Text Novels With Dwalin

This is as basic as it gets, and consists of an open directory with plain text files for download. Don’t be fooled. Their library is comprehensive, and plain text would be the most portable file format around. 6. Find Specialized IT Books With

free computer books

I think the name of the site says it all. What I like about this site is that all their books are very specifically tagged so you can zoom down on whatever topic you want very quickly.
7. Get Someone to Read Books to You at Librivox

librivox logo

Too lazy to read? Get Librivox to read it to you! These guys are undertaking a collaborative project and working with volunteers to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the Internet. They also offer podcasts for their recent work too, so you can get books on your MP3 player with a snap of your fingers.
8. Skip the Book and Get Free Study Notes with CliffsNotes

Yes - CliffsNotes, the all time favorite resource for literary study guides, are now GIVING away their a lot of their literary material. A truly excellent resource if you’re cramming for a test.
9. Save Money on Textbooks With WikiBooks

WikiBooks is yet another awesome project by the Jimmy Wales and the WikiMedia team (The same guys who brought you Wikipedia) with a mission to create a free collection of open-content textbooks that anyone can edit.

They currently have more than 25,000 books on a variety of topics, and can rival many public libraries. One thing to be wary off is that the books can be edited, defaced, or maliciously changed by anyone. While this same possibility is true for Wikipedia, their large base of editors and volunteers ensure that any bad behavior is kept in check. This project would have a much smaller base, and thus may not correct mistakes as fast.
10. Receive Books In Small Parts via Email Using DailyLit


No time to read? DailyLit breaks down big books into smaller chunks so you can read it in palatable parts.

Why read books by email?

“Because if you are like us, you spend hours each day reading email but don’t find the time to read books. DailyLit brings books right into your inbox in convenient small messages that take less than 5 minutes to read. This works incredibly well not just on your computer but also on a Treo, Blackberry, Sidekick or whatever the PDA of your choice. In the words of Dr. Seuss: Try it, you might like it!” via Daily Lit FAQ

Get Free Copyrighted eBooks in PDF Format at Wowio [Ebooks]

Want a free ebook copy of a Kurt Vonnegut novel? Free ebook site Wowio has five of them, along with lots of other copyrighted fiction, literature, comics, and other works. The site offers the wares through sponsorships, and only limits your downloads to three books per day, 30 per month. The two caveats are a somewhat limited selection (as you might expect) and that the site's U.S.-only due to licensing restrictions. Otherwise, it's not a bad place to check for fresh content for your PDA, cell phone or computer screen. For more free page-turners, try the top ten sites for free books and the 100 best free Project Gutenberg books.

8 steps to a more professional Blogspot blog

So you want to start your own blog. One of the first things you'll have to do is decide which blogging application you want to use. There are a ton of options, ranging from the incredibly simple (LiveJournal), to the infinitely customizable (WordPress). But one of the easiest blogging clients around is Google's Blogger.

Blogger is not as easy to customize as WordPress, but Blogger's simplicity also makes the process of setting up a blog a lot less daunting. You can literally start blogging within minutes of signing up for a Blogger account. Google will also host your blog for free, which means you don't need to pay for domain registration or web hosting. WordPress does also offer free hosting, but WordPress doesn't allow free account holders to include advertising. Blogger does. So if you have dreams of quitting your day job, but don't want to pay a few bucks a month for web hosting, Blogger provides a good way to test the waters.

But while Google offers a handful of widgets for customizing your blog, if you really want to make your web site your own, you're going to have to get your hands dirty editing your blog template and adding some HTML and JavaScript code. Fortunately, you don't have to know much about HTML or CSS to implement the tweaks in this guide. As long as you're handy with the copy and paste keys, you should be all set. So let's get started.

Backup your template

Back up your work

Before you start editing your template, it's probably a good idea to save a backup.

1. Enter Blogger's Layout menu
2. Select the "Edit HTML" tab
3. Click the button that says "Download Full Template"
4. Save this XML file somewhere you won't lose it. You can use it to restore your old template if things go horribly wrong.

While we're talking about backup, now is as good a time as any to mention two services that will let you create regular backups of all the content on your blog. BlogBackupOnline is an online service that will scan your site once a day and save a copy of every blog post and image. Free account holders can save up to 5MB, which should be enough for a few hundred blog posts, while more advanced users can pay for additional storage. If you'd rather download and save your data to your desktop, you might want to check out Blogger Backup, a desktop application for Windows.


Eliminate the navigational toolbar

One thing that sets Blogger apart from many other blogging services is the toolbar that is displayed at the top of most blogs hosted on Blogger. Some uses like this toolbar as it includes a site search feature and it lets users find random blogs in StumbleUpon-like fashion by clicking the "Next Blog" button. But it also takes up valuable screen real estate and leaves that nasty taste in your mouth that comes with knowing you don't have complete control over your own blog. So here's a tip from Digital Inspiration that will let you remove it:

1. Navigate to the Edit HTML tab in the Layout menu.
2. Enter the following text pretty much anywhere in your template (as long as it's in between other elements) and then click "Save Template":

#navbar-iframe {

Next time you load your blog, the Navbar should be gone.

Change your label list into a tag cloudlabel cloud

Blogger lets you add labels (the rest of the world calls these tags) to your posts. And you can display a list of labels in your blog sidebar. But if you like to tag liberally, after a few months of blogging, there's a good chance your list of labels will be about a mile long. One solution is to replace your label list with a label cloud.

This hack from phydeaux3 will display a list of frequently used labels on your site. If the list is too long, you can choose only to display labels that are used more than once, twice, or whatever other number floats your boat. Labels that are used more frequently will be displayed with a larger font, while less frequently used labels will take up less space. And of course, any time a visitor clicks on a label, they'll be taken to a page filled with relevant articles.

Add a contact box and About Me page

ContactifyWhile Blogger includes an "About Me" module, when visitors click on it they're taken to your profile page. Wouldn't you rather have more control over your About Me page? Here's a little trick: Just write a blog post describing yourself and set the publication date to yesterday, or better yet, a few years ago. That way it will be buried by newer posts and won't wind up on your front page.

Now you can just add a new HTML box to your sidebar with a link to your new About Me Page. You can create a text-based link by modifying this link: about me.

Using the same method, you can add a contact box using a service like Contactify. Contactify presents you with some HTML that you can paste into a blog post to bring up a contact box. Visitors can send you an email message without every seeing your actual email address, which helps cut down on junk mail.

ads between postsPlace ads and other content between posts

Google makes it extraordinarily easy to place Google AdSense advertisements in between posts. Just go to the Layout menu and click the "Edit" button in the "Blog Posts" box and check the "Show Ads Between Posts" box. But what if you want to show ads from another network or some other content in between posts on yourou main page?

In order to do that, you need to go back into your template and check the "Expand Widget Templates" box. Now find the line that reads "

Adobe Photoshop Express Beta launches

Digital photography has become a way of life for lots and lots of web users and there is no shortage of services out there to host your digital pictures (Flickr, SmugMug, Picasa, Windows Live Spaces, not to mention social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace). As more and more day-to-day computing tasks move to the cloud, the market really needs a solid, web-based editing suite. With Adobe Photoshop Express, which launched its beta today, we get just that.

We look at a lot of web software and services, but have to say that Photoshop Express one of the slickest web-based applications for photos that we have ever used. Although services in the past like Picasa or Picnik have offered some basic photo editing capabilities, what Photoshop Express is doing is in a completely different league. Like many other photo services, Photoshop Express will let you share and display your online photos; each user account is given 2 GB of space to store and share photos (this is free, additional space and extra features will be available in the future, pricing TBD) and you can embed links to the Photoshop Express hosted galleries or direct-embed individual images.

What makes Photoshop Express so different is the Photoshop aspect of it all. To be clear, Adobe is aiming this service squarely at consumers -- people who spend most of their time connected to the net and want a fast, effective way to edit photos -- not prosumers or digital professionals. JPEG is the only supported photo format (though editing RAW in a web based app makes little sense to use anyway) Still, the editing capabilities and the smoothness of the interface are leaps and bounds ahead of any competing service. For instance, the service is non-destructive -- meaning that any edits you make to your photographs can be removed at any time -- and in any order. Don't like a change you made last week? Remove it, or revert back to the original. Nothing is permanently changed or destroyed. Tools like red-eye removal, white balance, exposure, digital and color effects are all easy to use and very, very effective. There's even a version of Adobe's Healing Brush if you need to remove part of a photograph and remap it with something else.

Even cooler, Adobe has worked with other popular photo management websites and social networks and included hooks into those APIs within the program. As of right now, you can access you Facebook, Picasa and Photobucket accounts from within Photoshop Express, edit the photos just like you would edit any other, and a saved copy of that edit is then automatically added to your Facebook or Picasa page, for the world to see. No downloading and reuploading -- just edit as if it was already in your library. If you want to add those images to your Photoshop Express library, you simply drag and drop the images over. During the conference call Adobe held last week, we asked about future API support and Adobe told us that a deal has already been made with Flickr that will be appearing in the very near future and that other major photo services are being contacted as well.

And because this is completely web based, the product is platform independent. Mac, Windows, Linux, as long as you can run Flash 9 -- you can use Photoshop Express and it will perform the same in Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox (and we assume Opera too, we just haven't tested it with Opera). You will need a broadband connection to use Photoshop Express -- but on a fast connection, even in the first day of the beta, this thing flies.

Check out the gallery for a look at the interface and some of the stuff available right off the bat. Although this is definitely aimed at consumers, this is something all photo fans should check out, because it offers an easy, no-fuss alternative to photo editing.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Should you disconnect your thumb drive?

QI have a computer running Vista. I am using a 4-gigabyte thumb drive for ReadyBoost. Should I remove the thumb drive when I put the computer into hibernate mode, or shut down? Or is it better to leave the drive plugged in at all times? I'm trying to reduce wear and tear on the USB connection.

AMany people haven't heard of ReadyBoost. It is one of the cool new features introduced with Vista. To find out how it can speed up your machine, read my tip.
I can understand why you're worried about your thumb drive. Flash memory is quite durable. There are no moving parts to wear out. And you can write to the memory thousands of times.
However, you can easily ruin a USB drive through misuse. For example, you can break the USB connector. Once that happens, you won't be able to access the data on the drive.
That said, I would remove the USB drive before you put your machine into hibernate mode. Many people have reported errors with ReadyBoost when coming out of hibernate. Simply put, Vista crashes and won't respond.
To get the computer to function again, you need to reboot by holding the power button. Restarting this way can corrupt data on your hard drive.
Others have reported similar problems when coming out of standby. The computer will work for a little while before freezing. Again, it is necessary to reboot using the computer's power button.
These problems seem to be common. However, not all users have encountered them. So, try leaving the USB drive attached when you put the computer into standby or hibernate. If you don't encounter problems, continue to leave it attached.
Shutting down your computer is a different story. I see no problem leaving the USB drive attached. However, don't remove the drive after the computer is off. This has reportedly caused startup problems. The problems were corrected when the USB drive was reconnected.
Now, Microsoft has addressed ReadyBoost in Vista Service Pack 1. That should fix your problems with hibernate and standby.
By the way, you can remove a ReadyBoost drive at any time. The data is mirrored on your hard drive, so you won't lose any. You don't need to take the same precautions you would with other thumb drives.
You should exercise caution when inserting or removing any USB drive. Pull gently to avoid breaking connections between the USB plug and flash memory.
Not all flash memory is created equal. So find out what you need to know about the different classes. If you have Vista and want to use ReadyBoost, you need the right type of flash memory. My tip will help you find the correct USB drive or memory card.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Some YouTube Videos May Not Be Available in Your Country

Some YouTube Videos May Not Be Available in Your Country

By Amit Agarwal on youtube

youtube-region-filtering No, this is not about Internet censorship in countries like China or Pakistan where ISPs frequently block access to sites like YouTube following Government orders.

You could be staying in a country like US, UK or India but may not be able to watch every video on YouTube - that’s because the content owners have allowed access to that video only from certain countries or geographic regions.

If your computer’s IP address falls outside that geographic region, YouTube will display an error saying “This video is not available in your country” - this message has nothing to do with censorship, it’s the owner of the video clip who could be limiting access.

YouTube Filters in Action

For instance, this video clip (Armor For Sleep - Hold The Door), uploaded to YouTube by Warner Brothers, is probably not available outside US. Similarly, this BBC clip (Stop Calling it a Honeymoon) on YouTube can only be watched from UK.

BBC has mentioned the reason behind region filtering on their official BBC Channel - “Because of the way that the BBC is funded in the UK through the licence fee, we cannot make videos available outside of the UK”.

How to bypass YouTube Region Filtering ?

Luckily, it is very easy to bypass these country-specific restrictions on YouTube. Type the YouTube video URL inside Google Translate and hit enter (Also see: Google Proxy Server).

How to Extract Picture Frames from Animated GIF Images Online

How to Extract Picture Frames from Animated GIF Images Online

By Amit Agarwal on useful

Q: How can I extract a series of still JPG images from an animated GIF movie ? I know this can be done in software like Adobe Photoshop, Fireworks or Corel Photo Paint but do you know of any online photo editor that can also split GIFs ?

A: Well, that’s very easy. Upload any GIF image to GIFWorks - an online photo editing software. If your GIF image is online already, just type the URL and GIFWork will fetch that for you.

gif-image-framesOnce the GIF animation loads in the web browser, choose Optimize -> Split into Frames.

All the frames of your GIF movie are now split into individual images sequentially.

You can then save the frames manually by right clicking each file or save the full web page to your hard disk to save each and every fram

Create Animated GIFs Online - Photo Slideshows without Flash

GIF Animations [multiple picture frames in one file] can be used for creating image slideshows, screencasts, text banners or even stop motion animation movies. Some MySpace and MyBlogLog users also use animated GIF avatars to attract eyeballs.To create an animated GIF online, all you need is a set of images (in any format like jpg, png, etc) and, a free site that will convert them into an animated GIF movie of predefined sizes that you can use as profile avatars or post them on blogs.

Individual images can be as large as 1 MB and you may directly grab your Flickr pictures inside You may also change the speed of your animations [like how frequently the image transitions happen]

Some people find animated images as annoying as blinking webpages but they are a good medium for sharing photo slideshows in situations where Flash is not an option.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Windows XP: Going, going ... gone?

Windows XP: Going, going ... gone?
According to Microsoft's timeline, XP is on its way to becoming an ex-operating system.
By David DeJean

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* Windows XP SP3 due next month, says report
* FAQ: How to dump Vista SP1
* What the Vista 'junk PC' lawsuit means for Windows 7
* Microsoft offers free support for Vista SP1 installs
* Microsoft sounds bug alarm, confirms Windows-Word attacks

March 21, 2008 (Computerworld) The approaching death of Windows XP may upset you, but it shouldn't come as a surprise. Microsoft Corp.'s product life-cycle guidelines have foretold the fate of XP since 2001. In fact, Microsoft has been killing off one version of a product as it is replaced with another for years now. But this time around, the approaching demise of XP is getting more attention than, say, the final passing of Windows 2000.

Why? For a couple of reasons: XP is the most widely used operating system on the planet, and its long-delayed successor, Windows Vista, is not proving to be universally popular. The companies that make up the enterprise market for Windows are dragging their feet about upgrading, and on the consumer side there are signs of a rebellion against Vista.

Microsoft has already made changes in its timetables. Last year, the company extended the sales life cycle -- the time during which PC manufacturers and system builders could sell computers with XP installed -- to June 30, 2008. It will stop selling XP altogether on Jan. 31, 2009. And it extended the mainstream support period for XP to April 14, 2009, in an effort to reassure customers made nervous by the long delays in shipping Vista.

The result of all this tweaking is that Microsoft will stop selling XP long before it stops supporting it. You may be able to run XP for as long as you want, but before too long you may not be able to buy a legitimate copy of XP to run.

So will there be any way to get a copy of XP after June 30? If you want to continue using XP, what problems will you face? If you buy a PC with Vista installed and decide you want XP instead, what are your options?
The product life-cycle guidelines

Microsoft's product life-cycle guidelines grew out of two sets of needs: Microsoft's need to make a profit, and its customers' (particularly enterprise customers) needs for some certainty about the products they were committing to.

The policy was an attempt at transparency, a promise that new products would be supported for a definite period and that as they aged Microsoft wouldn't just abandon them. Instead, the company would withdraw support in a series of scheduled steps that corresponded to the pace of technological change, allowing customers time to transition to newer products. (The guidelines apply to all Microsoft products, not just operating systems.)

The problem is that what sounds like a promise to some (particularly enterprise customers) can sound like a threat to others -- particularly consumers. And they're not taking it well.
XP timeline
June 30, 2008

PC manufacturers stop selling computers with XP installed.
Jan. 31, 2009

Microsoft stops selling XP altogether.
April 14, 2009

Mainstream support (free live support and warranty support) ends. Free maintenance is limited to security fixes.
April 8, 2014

All support for XP ends.

This incipient consumer rebellion is a relatively new phenomenon, even in the short history of PCs. For most of the '90s, Microsoft couldn't bring out new products fast enough to satisfy customers. Computing technology was exploding, and Windows exploded along with it, from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 to Windows 98 to Windows 98 Second Edition to Windows Millennium Edition. PC sales boomed and Windows users raced to upgrade to the latest version.

But that binge left Microsoft with a huge hangover. As the new decade started, it was supporting a tangle of versions and upgrades. Then the Internet bubble burst and PC sales slowed. New products like Windows ME weren't as well received as the older ones. Microsoft needed to reduce its support liabilities and create a profit plan. The product life-cycle guidelines were the solution.
The three phases of support

First laid out in 2001 and revised in 2002 and 2004, the guidelines defined a three-phase life span and created a division between business desktop software and consumer desktop software. (In the beginning, it was easier to distinguish between business products based on the NT kernel -- like Windows NT and Windows 2000 -- and consumer products that ran on top of DOS, like Windows 98 and ME.)

* Mainstream phase: In the prime of a product's life, Microsoft provides both free and paid live support, support for warranty claims and online self-help support information. Software support and maintenance is extensive and free, with downloadable fixes and updates, service packs and freely available support for problem incidents, as well as requests for design changes and new features. Business customers may pay for additional support.
* Extended phase: Free live support and warranty support end, and free maintenance of consumer products is limited to security fixes. Self-help support information remains available online. Pay-per-incident live support remains available. Software patches and updates continue for business desktop software.
* End of life: Online support information is removed. Patches and updates cease. The product is history.
These phases were set in a schedule with definite dates and durations. Business products would be supported for 10 years -- mainstream support for five years, extended support for another five. Consumer products would get five years of mainstream support, but no extended support.

But there are two other factors in a product's life cycle -- service packs and the availability of a new version of the product:

* Service packs have a life cycle of their own. Support for each service pack ends 24 months after the next service pack release (support for Windows XP Home SP1 support, for example, ended in 2006, two years after the release of SP2 in 2004) or at the end of the product's support life cycle, whichever comes first.
* When it looked like mainstream support for Windows XP might run out before the next version of Windows made it to market, Microsoft amended the support life cycle policy to promise that mainstream support would last for either five years or for two years after a successor version is released, whichever period is longer.

While the product life-cycle guidelines set very definite limits on product life spans, Microsoft has shown a willingness to move the goal posts when it gets enough pressure. When Windows XP shipped in December 2001, it was slated to be in mainstream support until December 2006. Microsoft's internal problems with getting Vista out the door finally forced the company to extend the mainstream period for XP out to April 2009, and to make some other accommodations, like eliminating the distinction between business and consumer versions, so that XP Home will have an extended support phase just like XP Pro.

The result is that next year, on April 14, 2009, Microsoft will end mainstream support for XP, and five years later, on April 8, 2014, it will stop supporting XP at all.
The other life cycle

But even before that, XP faces a major event in an entirely different life cycle, one that Microsoft has said very little about -- the sales life cycle.

The key dates for sales come much sooner than 2009 or 2014. In fact, in only a few weeks, on June 30, 2008, Microsoft will stop selling XP through its retail and reseller channels (the resellers are big manufacturers like Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. that sell PCs with Windows preinstalled).

System builders, the "white box" retailers who build PCs to order, will be given another seven months, but on Jan. 31, 2009, a couple of months before XP exits mainstream support, Microsoft will stop selling XP altogether (except for a version sold in some less-developed countries and a special arrangement for XP Home in China).

At least that's the current information. It could change. It has before.

What sounds like a promise to some can sound like a threat to others -- particularly consumers. And they're not taking it well.
In the past, the company has generally kept the previous version of Windows on the market for two years or so, past the introduction of a new version. That was apparently the plan for XP. When Vista finally shipped to enterprise customers in late 2006, the on-sale dates for XP were reset to January 2009.

But the new operating system didn't capture the popular imagination quite the way Microsoft had planned. Vista's heavy demands for hardware, its rocky support for applications and peripherals, and its draconian security features have left consumers less than enthusiastic. (, for example, has collected more than 100,000 signatures on a Save Windows XP petition.)

Enterprise customers have also been slower to move to Vista than to previous versions of Windows. A Microsoft reseller, CDW Corp., reported this January the results of a poll that found that a year after its release, fewer than half of businesses were using or evaluating Vista.

Big resellers, the PC manufacturers who preinstall Windows on their products, initially switched from XP to Vista when the consumer versions of the operating systems shipped in January 2007. But by April, Dell, Lenovo, and HP were once again selling machines with XP installed. An April 4 post on Dell's Web site announced the company's intention to sell XP on certain systems "until later this summer." Nearly a year later, the company is still selling XP systems.

In September 2007, Microsoft agreed to a six-month extension of XP's on-sale dates, along with license provisions for Vista's business editions that grant buyers the right to downgrade to XP.

All this leaves Microsoft in an unfamiliar position. Its major customers -- the resellers, system builders and enterprise licensees -- and a vocal part of the Windows user base all appear to be reluctant users of Vista. None of this means that Microsoft is likely to grant XP another stay of execution. But it does mean we're going to be in for an interesting few weeks leading up to June 30.
What happens after June 30?

XP won't suddenly disappear, though. It will take some time for PCs loaded with XP to move from factories to warehouses to sellers to buyers. Shrink-wrapped FPP versions of the various editions of XP will also remain on sale until supplies are exhausted. And even after June 30, there will still be two ways to obtain XP until Jan. 31, 2009.

The easiest way will be to buy a new PC with XP installed from a white box system builder. It will, of course, be a reseller's version of the operating system (white box builders tend to use the same reseller versions as the larger vendors), which is tied to the PC it's installed on and can't be transferred to another computer.

Or you can buy a new PC with a reseller version of Vista Business or Vista Ultimate installed and downgrade to XP Pro (download PDF). There are enough pain points in this process that you won't want to undertake it lightly. Although you may have the right to downgrade, the maker of your PC isn't obliged to supply an XP install disk. If it's important to you, check before you buy. And although you can reinstall Vista later on, you have to do it from the installation files or media you got with the machine, so don't wipe those out by accident.

You won't be able to activate your new XP install with its previously used product key across the Internet, either. A query to Microsoft on this last point produced the following clarification:

"A customer who wishes to downgrade to XP should be able to do so using their original XP disc and original XP product key. That customer may have to call [Microsoft customer service] to get an override in case their hardware changed and their hardware ID went out of tolerance. Activation is governed by the RIT/ROT count. 'RIT' equals the number of activations on the single machine. 'ROT' equals the number of activations [of that product key] on different machines. So if the customer activated the key more than the RIT limit or if he changed the hardware, only then would they have to call a Product Activation call center."

Does that make everything clearer?

Support goes on

Although the sales life cycle starts to wind down on June 30, you can keep on using XP for as long as you want to. You might want to run XP until the next version of Windows (currently called Windows 7) comes out; it's expected in 2010. Or you might want to give some other operating system a little more time to mature. Perhaps you think that Ubuntu Linux is just a couple of versions away from real usability.

In both these cases, time is on your side. There won't be any changes in XP support until April 14, 2009, when Windows XP Service Pack 2 moves from mainstream support to extended support. Extended support's security fixes should certainly keep you going safely until April 8, 2014, or until Windows 7 actually does ship, whichever comes first.
Can You Save XP?

InfoWorld is conducting a campaign to rally XP users to demand that XP be kept available. If you want to join that campaign, you'll find these links useful:

* Save
* The "Save XP" petition count update

The problem is, there's support and then there's support. The last time Microsoft ended mainstream support for a version of Windows was in June 2005, when it stopped supporting Windows 2000. By the end of 2006, major software vendors had also ended their support for the operating system. New products didn't support Windows 2000, and upgrades of existing Win2K products to new versions weren't available.

This lack of upgrades to run on defunct operating systems is a natural result of market forces. Application software makers, just like Microsoft, want to minimize their support costs by supporting their products on as few operating system versions as economically possible, so when an operating system version's percentage of the installed base falls below its potential to contribute to the bottom line, the vendor will cut its support -- and deflect complaints by pointing at Microsoft.

XP is certainly much more widely used than Win2K, and it will probably be supported by application vendors for a lot longer as a result. But if you really want to stay with XP, you should be prepared to stay with your current applications as well. There may not be any upgrades.

Whether you merely tolerate XP or won't give it up until it's pried from your cold, dead fingers, it will be gone.
Finally, there is one more factor that might stretch out the life of XP a bit. Benjamin Gray, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., predicted last fall that Service Pack 3 for XP, which will ship later this year, may play a part. Big corporate customers are still looking forward to XP SP3, and Gray said he wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft extend mainstream support for this updated version of the operating system past April 2009 in response to pressure from the enterprise market.

If you're clinging to XP because you're waiting for that stability and compatibility, whether in Vista or in the next version of Windows, or just because you're entirely happy with XP and see no reason to change, then the product life-cycle guidelines are your friend. The combination of mainstream and extended support will give you several years of protection.

And even if you find in a couple of years that you can't get an XP version of some upgraded application, extended support means that your XP machine still has some life expectancy; you won't have to junk it just because it's become a malware magnet.

But if you're holding onto XP because you're just purely mad at Microsoft, or your PC won't run Vista anyway, then you're only buying time. Sooner or later, it's inevitable. Whether you love Vista or hate it, merely tolerate XP or won't give it up until it's pried from your cold, dead fingers, it will be gone. The product life-cycle guidelines say so.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Read Word 2007 Files in Internet Explorer, No Word Required [How To]

If you ever find yourself needing to review the contents of a Microsoft Word 2007 document (DOCX) but you're sitting at a computer without a Word installation or any other comparable word processor, weblog Digital Inspiration details how to read the document with nothing but Internet Explorer. In a nutshell, the method involves changing the doc's file extension to ZIP, unzipping it, and then finding a document.xml file inside the unzipped archive. From there, you can open that XML file in IE (or virtually any text editor, for that matter). As the post mentions, your document will lack any formatting, but it will allow you to read the content, which is essentially what matters anyway.

Make a Local Backup Of Your Gmail Account

Make a Local Backup Of Your Gmail Account
From Wired How-To Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Web-based e-mail services like Gmail, Yahoo Mail or Windows Live Mail are great for their access-anywhere capabilities.

The ease and simplicity of checking your mail in a browser have caused many of us to ditch the desktop client in favor of a web-based interface. It's one less application to have running and, in case of Google's Gmail, the search capabilities and conversation threading blow desktop apps out of the water.

However, using a service like Gmail means you don't have a local backup of your e-mail like you would get if you were using a desktop client. Naturally, that doesn't mean you can't store backups of your e-mail on your local machine. It requires a bit of work to set up, but once you do, you'll be able to enjoy the goodness of Gmail's web interface worry-free.

This page is a wiki. Got extra advice? Log in and add it.

Other pages in this series need your help:

* Make a Local Backup Of Your Yahoo Mail Account
* Make a Local Backup Of Your Hotmail Account


* 1 Backup Gmail Using a Desktop Client
o 1.1 Set Up Gmail & Thunderbird
* 2 Backup Gmail Using Getmail
o 2.1 Installing Getmail
o 2.2 Setting Up Getmail
o 2.3 Running Getmail
o 2.4 Backup Using Fetchmail

Backup Gmail Using a Desktop Client

All the major operating systems ship with a built in e-mail client. Some are better than others, but all of them can connect to your Gmail account and download your messages to create a local copy of your mailbox.

Beware that some of these apps may store mail in funky proprietary formats (Apple Mail, Outlook, we're looking at you here) rather than industry standard formats like .mbox. To guarantee cross platform compatibility, we recommend the Mozilla Thunderbird client. Thunderbird 2.0 even offers a handy one-click set up for accessing Gmail.

First, you'll need to futz with Gmail's settings.

Set Up Gmail & Thunderbird
The unofficial logo of your latest desktop hack
The unofficial logo of your latest desktop hack

Step 1. Go to the Gmail web interface and click the Settings link at the top right corner of the page. Look for the "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" tab and click the link.

Step 2. Now you need to enable either POP or IMAP. For most people, POP will work just fine and it's the simpler of the two. Just select the "Enable POP for all mail" option. You'll also notice that you can control what Gmail does when your desktop client connects under the "When messages are accessed with POP" setting. Choose "keep Gmail's copy in the Inbox" since we're just using POP for backup purposes.

Step 3. Now startup Thunderbird, enter your username (the bit before in your e-mail address) and Google password. Thunderbird will begin downloading your e-mail, creating a local backup. There's no need to mess with Thunderbird's settings or since you're just doing this for backup purposes.

Tip: Remember to open Thunderbird periodically so that your mail gets backed up.

Tip: Make a backup of your Google Calender as well using the two-way sync add-on for Mozilla Sunbird.

Tip: Make Thunderbird look like a native Apple app by installing REO-2007's Leopard Mail skin.

While this method will work and is definitely the easiest for most people, there are some drawbacks. The most obvious is that the backup doesn't include your sent mail. If you're looking for a way to improve your backups and automate the process (and you don't mind a little command line tinkering), read on.
Backup Gmail Using Getmail

Getmail is an open source Python program that can backup your Gmail account. Getmail will work on any *nix system, including OS X, and even Windows as long as you have Cygwin installed.

Installing Getmail

Ubuntu users have it easy, since Getmail is in the Ubuntu repositories.

For other operating systems, you can either add the repository to aptitude or you can compile from the source like so:

Download Getmail, then open a terminal windows and type:

tar xzvf getmail*.tar.gz cd (the directory that was created) sudo python install

Setting Up Getmail

Now you just need a configuration file to tell Getmail how to connect to Gmail. There are a ton of sample configuration files on the Getmail site, but here's one that works well with Gmail. Create a file at ~/.getmail/ and put the following text in it:

type = SimplePOP3SSLRetriever
server =
username =
password = yourpassword

type = Mboxrd
path = ~/gmail-archive/gmail-backup.mbox

verbose = 2
message_log = ~/.getmail/gmail.log

Getmail won't create the mbox file, so before we get started, create a new empty file called gmail-archive.mbox in the gmail-archive folder of your home directory (or where ever you choose to store it). From the command line this will do the trick: touch ~/gmail-archive/gmail-backup.mbox

Running Getmail

You have everything set up, so it's time to actually make the backup. Fire up a terminal window and enter the following line:

getmail -r ~/.getmail/

You should see a long string of messages begin printing out as Getmail starts grabbing the contents of your Gmail account. If the script stops, fear not -- Google has some limits on how many messages can be retrieved at one time. Just run the above command again the Getmail will pick up where it left off. See Getmail's documentation for more about this "cutoff" issue.

Now you have an mbox-formatted local backup of your Gmail account and you can access it with any e-mail client that understands mbox files, which is pretty much everything except Microsoft Outlook.

To automate this process, just create a shell script and attach it to a cron job that runs once a day or however often you feel is necessary.

Backup Using Fetchmail

Backing up using Fetchmail is probably the most difficult and arcane option of the bunch, but if you're looking for a weekend project and enjoy tinkering with the command line, Fetchmail can create backups of your Gmail account.

Have a read through the Fetchmail documentation to see how you need to set things up.

Also check out Lifehacker's excellent tutorial on Fetchmail. It's written for Windows users running Fetchmail under Cygwin, so if you're on a *nix system just ignore the Cygwin-specific elements.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wire Your Living Room Over Wi-Fi with a Bridge

Wire Your Living Room Over Wi-Fi with a Bridge

By Gina Trapani on Xbox 360

More devices in your living room have Ethernet ports than ever before, but you can't plug them into the network if your router's in the other room. When your Wi-Fi access point is in the home office but your TiVo, Xbox, and media center are screaming for network love under your TV in the living room, you want a wireless bridge (also known as an Ethernet converter). A wireless bridge catches your home network's Wi-Fi signal and provides ports where you can plug in wired devices near it. Let's take a look at how to wire up your living room using a wireless bridge.
Why a Wireless Bridge?
"But I can buy a wireless adaptor for my Xbox/TiVo/media center," you say. "What's this wireless bridge you're talking about?" It's true, there are Wi-Fi adaptors available for most networked living room devices these days, but the advantage of a bridge is that it's one device that can network multiple items, and it's not proprietary. That means that when you get an Xbox 360, you don't have to buy a whole other wireless adaptor to get it on the network (you just need the cable to connect it to the bridge).

A wireless bridge is more cost-efficient, too. Say you've got both a TiVo and an Xbox in your living room. Wireless adaptors for each of them to connect to your Wi-Fi network will cost you about $150, but a wireless bridge will set you back under $100, and it can support up to four devices, not just two.
How a Wireless Bridge Works
A wireless bridge is just a small box with a Wi-Fi antenna and several Ethernet ports on it. In fact, it looks just like your wireless router. The difference is that the antenna receives a Wi-Fi signal instead of broadcasts it. Then it distributes the internet love amongst all the devices that are plugged into it.

Here's a quick network diagram that displays what a home network with a wireless bridge in the living room looks like.

On the left you've got your regular home network set up with a wireless router. On the right is your living room, with the TiVo, Xbox, and media center, all with Ethernet ports on them. You connect the under-the-TV devices to the bridge with a short length of network cable. The bridge gets those devices online by connecting them to the Wi-Fi network in the office.

Of course, once your living room devices are on your home network, you can do things like game online and copy video to your TiVo or media center from any room in the house. You also get the benefits of a wired connection between devices in the living room. For example, if you're streaming video off your download/media computer in the living room to your gaming console (both wired to the bridge), the stable, wired connection prevents playback skippage problems that you can get on Wi-Fi connections that deal with interference.
Setting Up the Wireless Bridge
The interface for your bridge will vary depending on the brand. I happen to be using a Buffalo AirStation in my living room, so the screenshots below are from it. If you're feeling adventurous and you've got a router that supports alternate firmware, you could mod a regular Wi-Fi router into a wireless bridge. (Here's a tutorial on turning a Linksys router into a bridge with the DD-WRT firmware).

Once you've got your bridge powered up and within range of your Wi-Fi network, you've got to plug a computer into it to complete its initial configuration. Consult your bridge's user manual for how to connect to the bridge's console; with my Buffalo, you've got to manually set your computer's IP address to, and visit on the machine's web browser to set up the bridge. Most likely you'll need a username and password to log in. Check your bridge's user guide for the defaults.

Once you're logged into the bridge's configuration interface, it will look something like this:

This may look intimidating but it's pretty easy stuff, really. Here the name of my Wi-Fi network is "a1," and it is password-protected. So, on this page you simply set the access point name and password, and if all goes well, the bridge logs on. From there, it can distribute internal IP addresses to any device that gets plugged into it, like your TiVo, gaming console, or living room computer.

Convert Web Pages, Office Documents to MP3 Files Online is an online tool that can instantly convert Web Pages, Office documents and PDF files into MP3 files.

While there are other free tools that can convert text to MP3, ReadThatWords offers two distinct advantages:

mp3-voice 1. It can turn almost anything into MP3 including PowerPoint slides, Word Docs, PDF, HTML web pages and even RSS feeds.

2. You have an array of different voices to choose from - like a US male voice, UK female voice or a voice that has an Indian accent.

And if you are converting a large document to an MP3, you need not wait in the browser for conversion to finish - will send you an email when the recording is done and MP3 is ready to download. - The service is primarily created for people with disabilities but others will find it useful as well.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Access Your Files from Any Computer with the new Windows Live FolderShare

Windows Live FolderShare is a free service from Microsoft that helps you keep files and folders across multiple computers in sync with each other. You can access your documents, music, photographs and other files from any computer (PC or Mac) that is connected to the Internet.

Windows Live FolderShare has been around for a while but with this new update, the FolderShare software gets easier , sports a better interface and officially supports Windows Vista.

Unlike other Microsoft services like Office Live Workspace or Windows Live SkyDrive which are exclusively for storing files online via the web browser, Windows Live FolderShare is more about automatic synchronization and accessing files from anywhere - the program sits in your system tray and works in the background.

There are no limitations expect that the maximum size of individual files should not exceed 2 GB. And the FolderShare client must be installed on every computer from where you want to share or access files remotely.

Free Online Virus Scanners

Free Online Virus Scanners [run inside the web browser to scan your hard drive]

Trend Micro HouseCall - An online virus scanner that's absolutely free and scans your PC hard drive for any sort of viruses or even spyware. HouseCall allows you to remove detected infections. Works with Firefox and IE. Requires Java.

McAfee Freescan - This free virus scanner from McAfee is based on the McAfee VirusScan engine. Should viruses be found, FreeScan prepares a list of infected files and links to information about the viruses on your computer. It also gives you an option to clean your system. Requires IE with ActiveX.

Windows Live OneCare Scanner - A free antivirus online scanner from Microsoft that cleans your system from viruses and also recommends ways to improve the overall performance. Part of Windows Onecare.

Symantec Internet Security - An online virus scanner from the developers of Norton Antivirus 2007 can detect most virus threat but there is no option to delete the virus infected file or repair it. Does not examine compressed files. Requires IE with ActiveX.

BitDefender Online Scanner - Their Free Online Virus Scanner version 8 scans your system's memory, all files, folders and drives' boot sectors - the default options automatically cleans the infected files. Requires IE with ActiveX.

Free Anti Virus Software for Windows [Requires Installation]

Avast! Home Edition - One of the most popular antivirus software, can also be run from Explorer context menu. You can either scan the entire hard drive or selected folders. Ships with an Antivirus screen-saver.

AOL Active Virus - a free virus scanner from AOL based on Kaspersky Antivirus that doesn't require an AOL account to download the software. The software can be configure to check only new and modified files thereby reducing the memory requirements. Also support scanning of incoming and outgoing email messages.

ClamWin Virus Scanner - An opensource antivirus software that is great for running routine antivirus checks on your PC. You need to manually scan a file in order to detect a virus or spyware.

AVG 7.5 Free Antivirus - One of most popular free virus scanning software is AVG 7.5 Free Edition (read comments). Initially, there was confusion whether AVG 7.5 would be free like AVG 7.1 but the good news is that AVG 7.5 Free edition is already available for non-commercial, single home computer use.

Conclusion: Which one should I choose ?

Unlike Desktop antivirus software, online virus scanners do not proactively protect your PC against new virus infections.

But if viruses have already entered your hard drive and taken control of your existing desktop scanner program, any of the above listed online virus-scanning services can save your day.

If you are a fairly experienced web user who doesn't need an antivirus software to run in the background 24 hours, scan you drive at regular intervals using HouseCall. Others may install the AOL antivirus software which uses the Kaspersky virus definitions database.

Related: How to Trick the GMail Virus Scanner

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Published on Friday, November 24, 2006 at

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Download Free Google Software Get essential software with Google Pack.

Reader Comments:

How can you miss AVG from this list?

Impossible man, i've been using it since 2 yrs, i find it even better than the paid ones.

Amit - I have to agree with Mark above. AVG should be at the top of your list when considering free (or commercial) AV software. I've used it for years on a number of PCs I maintain and it has always been a solid performer - much less memory and resource intensive than the big dogs - and updated on a near-daily basis.

OneCare is a good solution but not free (although it is very affordable and a license covers three PCs). I've ben testing it on one of my PCs and, combined with Windows Defender, it has kept that PC clean of any infection.

You forgot the best of show, AVG

No mention of Grisoft's AVG? Ive had the free version for years on 3 machines and never had a problem.

You missed AVG!

Thanks everyone for writing about AVG.

I did consider including AVG in the free anti virus software list but the vendor website says that AVG 7.1, the free version, will be discontinued in Jan, 2007.

"AVG Free 7.1 version will be discontinued on 15th of Jan 2007."

The next version, AVG 7.5, will cost $29.95.

Hi Amit,
AVG Free 7.1 Anti Virus is going. But 7.5 is going to be there and there is a free version of it. I have upgraded to it. Check out

Great Post Amit,

I was considering writing a post regarding this matter but you beat me to it.

Even if you are fairly experienced web user, you do need Antivirus running 24 hours along with a firewall.

There are worms that can exploit "zero day" vulnerabilities that require no user action to infect your computer.

The most damaging of these was the "Witty Worm" that targeted servers running the BlackIce firewall. It is ironic that a firewall that was supposed to protect you was the reason many servers got wiped out.

Another really cool service is VirusTotal. They let you upload a file that is less than 10mb in size and it will scan it with all major AV engines, and give you the option of distributing the file to all those same vendors to check it and add it to their signatures if it is in fact a malicious file. Now, almost anytime I download some software from somewhere, I always run it through VirusTotal first just to make sure it's really clean. You'd be surprised how many different responses you'll get from all the AV products!

You get what you pay for. Free=no support, no quality assurance.

Detection scoring for Free AV products:

Threats are now blending spyware/malware with viruses, so you need to employ layered defenses. Of all the commercial products out there, F-Secure Internet Security 2007 has the best feature set for stopping viruses and malware, along with rootkit detection and zero-hour protection.

Just my two cents.

I did a post for newbies on free products I recommend for PC security. Besides AVG Free Antivirus and Zone Alarm, I've got Defender on my list too.

I some how deleted AVG free home edition off my puter a few days a go..I have tried to re load it about 10 times..each time takes more than 1 will NOT work for me..:(
Does any 1 know why?
I LOVEDDD AVG....well..when I had!!
Many thx!!

AVG is overrated. It was the last antivirus that can detect W32.Brontok and Kangen virus... and also "Hacked by Pokemon". I prefer Avast! .. in my opinion only...

Avast is the useless antivirus tool ever. It's open for so many viruses. Just scan your pc from internet and you will see. Download some sample virus test pack, then scan it with your s**t avast and after scan it with any online scanner. Results may open your eyes :D

"AOL Active Virus Shield is no longer available" - check the's gone, they try to sell you McAfee now.

Written by Anonymous at 18/3/07 1:06 AM
I some how deleted AVG free home edition off my puter a few days a go..I have tried to re load it about 10 times..each time takes more than 1 will NOT work for me..:(
Does any 1 know why?
I LOVEDDD AVG....well..when I had!!
Many thx!!

RE: above entry by someone else.
I agree! Mine got where it would no longer update. Trying to download AVG comes back with..."some files are corupt, can not download. Try downloading a fresh version. Please HELP!

Save Web Pages to Google Docs

Save Web Pages to Google Docs

By Amit Agarwal on web clippings

You can now easily store web pages, images and other HTML content to Google Documents using gDocsBar - a recommended Firefox add-on for Google Docs users.

Google Docs maintains the original formatting of web pages and the hyperlinks very similar to Google Notebook or other web clipping software discussed before.

To save web pages in Google Docs, highlight the content with your mouse and drag that selection onto the gDocsBar window. Your web clipping will be saved as a new document in Google Docs.

GDocsBar 0.5.6 - Note that this method works only with websites and won’t allow you to save clippings from Word Documents or PDF files onto Google Docs.

If you want to save web pages to Google Docs in IE, open a blank Google Document in a new tab and then drag-n-drop content from that webpage onto this Google document. Alternatively, you can do a simple copy paste. Thanks Webware.

Speed Up Windows XP

Speed Up Windows XP
From Wired How-To Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
The Windows XP desktop. Image courtesy Microsoft
The Windows XP desktop. Image courtesy Microsoft

Despite Microsoft's best marketing efforts, you haven't yet upgraded to Vista. You still prefer your trusty old copy of Windows XP. And, despite your diligence in protecting your beloved XP machine from viruses and sneaky trojan horses, Windows is noticeably slower than when you first installed it. Don't panic -- there are a number of things you can do to get your XP system running faster.

Keep in mind though, that, while these tips listed below can help you speed up Windows and recover hard drive space, you aren't going to see the sort of speed boost you'd get from upgrading your key hardware components. If you're unhappy, for instance, with the write speed of your hard drive, a few of these tips may help, but not nearly as much as upgrading to an ultra-fast Serial ATA (SATA) drive capable of 10,000 RPM. Also, adding more RAM almost always brings life to an older, slower system.

Other How-Tos in this series:

* Speed Up Windows Vista
* Speed Up Your Mac


* 1 Defragment Your Hard Drive
* 2 Improve Startup Times
* 3 Turn Off Unnecessary Services
* 4 Clean House
* 5 Optimize Your BIOS
* 6 Additional Reading

Defragment Your Hard Drive
XP's Disk Defragmenter. Image courtesy of Microsoft
XP's Disk Defragmenter. Image courtesy of Microsoft

Once the go-to solution for all speed problems in Windows, Windows Vista has largely eliminated the need for defragmenting by doing it automatically in the background. In Windows XP, however, defragmenting is still a fact of life.

Fragmentation happens when the computer writes files to disk without keeping everything together in one spot. Thus, if you just saved a large image you've been working on in Photoshop, part of it might be near the middle of the disk and part of it might be at the end, which means it takes longer for the disk to find it. Bring those separate parts together is what's known as defragmenting.

In XP, it's fairly simple process. However, note that you won't be able to use your computer while it's busy defragmenting. And if it's been a while since you defragmented, it can take some time. In other words, don't do this in the middle of busy day at the office.

To defragment your boot drive, open My Computer and right-click the disk you want to defragment. Select Properties and then click the Tools tab where you'll see the Defragment Now option. Just click Defragment and wait for the process to finish.

Improve Startup Times

Whenever Windows starts it automatically loads a number of programs, many of which you may not need. Unfortunately stopping programs from running at start-up isn't easy because there's several places these programs can live.

The three main places to investigate are the Startup folder, inside logon scripts and, in some cases, the Registry. By far the easiest of these is the Startup folder which can be found here:

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

Just open the folder and delete the shortcuts to any programs you don't need when you start Windows.

Tip: You can also clean out the startup items by navigating to Start >> Programs >> Startup and then right-clicking items you want to remove.

To get to the other startup items, open up a command window and type msconfig. Look for the Startup tab and uncheck the box next to the program. Be careful though. Some items in here are required for Windows to function properly, and sometimes it's difficult to tell what a program actually is.

Tip: Maximize the window so that you can see the full file path to the application. In most cases, that will give you a better idea whether or not you need that application.

Another thing to clean is the Scheduled Tasks folder (C:\Windows\Tasks) where you can get rid of any programs that you don't want to run automatically on a schedule.

Keep in mind when you're disabling things that it's better to try them one at a time rather than disabling programs in large batches. That way if you restart and something isn't working you know the culprit.

Turn Off Unnecessary Services

Services are background processes that run silently without you ever knowing about them. Because Windows takes the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach there's likely to be some unnecessary services running in the background.

To get rid of them go to Start >> Run, type "services.msc" and hit return. Double-click on the service you want to get rid of and change the startup type to Disable.

Here are some examples of services you may not need: Alerter, Distributed Link Tracking Client, Fast User Switching, Indexing Service, Netmeeting Remote Desktop Sharing, Secondary Logon, Telnet and Workstation. There are dozens more you sift through to see if you need them and run a few rigorous web searches to see if you need all of them.

Use caution. If you disable the Computer Browser service, for example, you might find that you can no longer connect to computers on your local network. Before you make changes to unknown services, see if you can find a source that quantifies the exact performance gain you'll see from making this change. Many will only reclaim a few megabytes of RAM.

Clean House

Like most people, you probably have a number of files and programs you don't need that are eating up dard drive space. When it comes to files it's your call, but for getting rid of programs we recommend the free application CCleaner which is faster and much more thorough than the default Add/Remove application provided with Windows.
Optimize Your BIOS
Gladiator BIOS, screenshot courtesy of Foxconn
Gladiator BIOS, screenshot courtesy of Foxconn

The BIOS is a set of instructions that's hard-wired into your computer's motherboard. It stands for Basic Input/Output System, and it's responsible for initializing the hardware on your computer whenever it boots up. Tweaking your BIOS will only provide small performance gains on most computers, but on heavily-customized or recently upgrade older computers, it can make a noticeable difference.

Update Your BIOS. Most computer manufacturers and motheboard manufacturers regularly release updates to their BIOS versions. Check with the company which manufactured your computer or its motherboard for the appropriate download. You can usually find out which BIOS version you're running in the BIOS's settings. In the old days, they used to use floppy discs. Now, BIOS upgrades can be performed using bootable CD-Rs or installers that run within Windows. If you need to update your BIOS, the download should come with instructions.

Disable Unused Ports. Are you using that parallel port? What about the VGA port? Have a look at the back of your PC and see if there's anything that you don't have a monitor, scanner or some other peripheral attached to. Then, go into the BIOS when your computer boots and disable that port. You can usually find them in a menu called "integrated peripherals." If you need the port in the future, go back into the BIOS menu and enable it.

Turn Off Built-in Features On Your Motherboard. Most motherboards have a lot of the basics, like RJ-45 networking and sound, built-in. Some even ship with RAID controllers or other fancy hardware you're not using. If you've recently upgraded to a better sound card, you can disable the one that came installed on your board. Likewise if you installed a wireless card -- you won't be needing that Ethernet component any longer. Disable the built-in components you're not using by turning them off in the BIOS. Just like disabling ports, you can always turn them back on if and when you need them.

Scan Attachments Before Downloading with VirusTotal

Scan Attachments Before Downloading with VirusTotal

virustotal_cropped.jpgIf you're the type who doesn't keep a virus-scanning program running on your desktop out of memory concerns, or you find yourself at a system without your preferred scanner, you might want to think twice before downloading any suspicious attachments—even if the boss sent them. Luckily, previously mentioned service VirusTotal offers the same multi-AV-scanning service through a utility email address. Simply forward your email, attachment included, to, with the body cleared out and "SCAN" in the subject. After running McAfee, AVG, F-Secure, and other apps over it, VirusTotal will email you back to let you know whether the attachment is infected. High thanks to Digital Inspiration, which offers a link to similarly useful email addresses at the link below.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Top TVLinks Alternatives

A quick rundown of more video streaming sites to watch your favorite TV shows, movies, cartoons, and even anime for FREE online.

It's been a while now since TVLinks was shut down, but its loss is still felt by the many whom were loyal fans of the site and all of the great content it offered in one convenient place.

Soon after TVLinks was shut down I took the time to compile a list of what I called "Top TVLinks Alternatives" and it has amazingly been a consistent favorite of many people out there looking to find quality video streaming sites to replace it.

As such I've combed through my personal favorites and ones submitted by readers and compiled the list below.

Enjoy, and please feel free to submit your own in the comments section below for possible inclusion in this or a future list.


An interesting new search engine that combs through dozens of sites to find what you're looking for. Can save you a lot of time if you already have something specific in mind.

2. Campusist

Movies, TV shows, Bollywood movies, documentaries, anime, music videos, sports clips, stand up comedy, and even games.

3. TV-Links.CC

A TVLinks clone that does a pretty good job of mimicking the original. Has movies, TV shows, cartoons, and anime just like the original.

4. VideoLala

Another interesting search engine that looks over some 26 video streaming sites to find what it is that you're looking for. An easy way to once again remove the pain of finding stuff on your own.

5. Nabolister

Has movies, TV shows, anime, cartoons, and even LIVE TV streams to watch.

6. Acidito

Has movies, TV shows, music videos, and also LIVE HDTV streaming.


Has movies, TV shows, cartoons, anime, movies, music videos, sports videos, and documentaries.

8. Veoh

Lets you watch free, full-length episodes of your favorite TV shows and web clips.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Find Your TV Show of Choice Online at Prime Time Rewind [Television]

Find Your TV Show of Choice Online at Prime Time Rewind [Television]

By Adam Pash on Webapps

Catch your favorite TV show online, regardless of the network, with web site Prime Time Rewind. The site, which aggregates online TV from all the major networks, provides a love-it-or-lump-it cube interface that displays shows by genre or network. If you find a show you want to watch, just click click the Play Show option and Prime Time Rewind embeds the same video in your browser that you'd watch directly on the network web site. It's not the friendliest or most intuitive of interfaces, but the site does offer a lot of content, and if all else fails with the cube, there's always the search box.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Track Your Unread Gmail Messages RSS-Style

Track Your Unread Gmail Messages RSS-Style
We've already highlighted how to subscribe to RSS feeds of your Gmail labels, but the Google Operating System also points out how easy it is to subscribe to a feed of all your unread email using the built-in unread label. In essence, you'd just add the following URL to any feed reader that supports authentication (of which Google Reader is not one):

The really cool part of this feature is that you can open the email directly in Gmail from the item in your newsreader. Just remember, if you're subscribing to your Gmail unread feed in a newsreader that makes feeds public, be sure your privacy settings are properly configured so you don't end up sharing any of your private email messages.
A Feed for Unread Gmail Messages [Google Operating System]

How to Embed FLV Flash Videos in your Blog ?

Video Sharing Sites like Youtube or Google video provide simple HTML code for embedding their video clips in your web pages. But sometimes we want to add raw Flash Video files like SWF animations or FLV [streaming or progressive] which are frequently used by News or media websites.

Now to embed flash video files, you can either download the flv or swf flash video to your hard drive, convert it to avi, wmv or mov format and then upload it to your Youtube account. Then you can use the Youtube supplied HTML code to embed that video in your webpage or blog. The video will play wrapped inside the Youtube or Google Video player skin.

The above approach works but is clearly not the best way to do things. What if the original video is updated - then you will have to revisit the whole encoding-decoding cycle again. Secondly, there will be considerable loss in video quality when it is converted from one format to another and Youtube is definitely not the best place to see high resolution video clips. They will degrade it to 320x240 size clip.

So here's a very easy way for embedding flash videos in your website without loosing any quality. Also you won't have to download the video to your own server - you can embed the flash video player in your site and it will stream the video [or play directly] from the source website [you might want to obtain permission from the content host since you will be consuming his bandwidth]

To do this, just copy-paste the following HTML snippet in your blog template and replace the height, width and streamName parameters with real values [you can find the video size (dimensions) and URL of the flash video by looking at the HTML source code of the webpage where the video is originally embedded]

Incase you would like the video to start only when the site visitor hits the play button, replace autoPlay=true with autoPlay=false. Once the video track finishes playing, the cue marker would return to the original position. You can disable this by setting autorewind=false.

Here's a real world example - this flash video is hosted on an external news website in flv format but has been embedded in this site using just the above HTML code. See the video player skin is non-branded and looks more sleek and professional.

Reader Comments:

Is this legal?

As I mentioned in the post, take permission from the content provider - if he agrees to streaming his content on your blog, it should be fine I guess.

But yes, we definitely have to look at the legal angle more carefull before streaming anyone's content on our own sites since it's also consuming his bandwidth.

this is a really cool code..thx for sharing

Thanks! This is just what I want - I tried it in my blog test and although it worked it took ages to satrt and - IEo said that there was an script causing IE to run slowly - would I like to stop it? Even with this message up, the .flv started playing behind, and clicking 'yes' to stop the script means the video carries on playing or 'no' slowed IE right down again!
Firefox just gets stuck waiting for

Any ideas what that script problem is ?? thanks

This is a great bit of code.
One thing that would make it a lot better is if the video didn't start downloading until the user pressed play, since someone visiting the page but not wanting to watch the video is just wasting bandwidth. As it is it seems the play button doesn't even appear until the video has started downloading.

I tried the code with my own hosted flash and get the video to play...but I cant seem to get the CONTROLS (Stop , Play etc...) to show I need to chang the code to reflect that?

So all I get is the video without anyway to control it.


it appears on most sites with the streaming .FLV files they are pre-loaded in some sort of javascript or other player skins therefore not showing the true URL of the .FLV source on the server any options or prog as to where to find the source? Doesnt make much sense to use this awesome code if you have to rip the video then upload to replay...thanks again for all your amazing info and hacks..~M

Fantastic little code man. Big props for that, it works no problem but is there any way to get this to work with SWF and not just FLV ?. Reason being is there's not many decent FLV hosts out there without having to pay big bucks. There's quite a few SWF hosts.

Dear Amit,
Thanks for the code. It works just fine for my son's blog.
Meng Yong

I'm hoping someone can help me out. I've tried copying and pasting the code but get nothing. The flash video file is here:

and its dimensions are 352 by 240. Can anyone come up with the exact code to make this work? Thank you!!!

Is the source for the player meant to be used in this way? I have been trying to find a good, flash embedded player to put on my blog but could only find wimpy wasp which isn't free.

Hi , Is there any way that you can actually see where the source file of the flv is played from ??If you want embad a flv in your blog.

Can i get your advice on

I can't figure out where the code ends <----Place code here----> would have been a good idea, and let us view your example below. I'm not dumb, just not as up to speed as others in some areas.

hi just wonder where in the blog template should the snippet be inserted to?

Also does it mean that the entire blog site can only has one embedded video since there is only one video url link in the snippet.


Lay Kock :-)

does it work with youtube's video ? and with wmv ?

thanks for the code. it finall works after i tried many different ways. however, i was wondering if we can change the skin. as i can recall, when creating the swf in flash, we can select skin and it will be exported as another swf file. i tried calling it directly by chaning the above skin path to that swf but did not work. Any hint? Thx.

Tried many different ways again using your script and create my own skin and flvpaly.swf but after posting it at my blogspot, still doesn't seem working as good as using the path to your skin and swf as base for my flv. Appreciate any it something about the crossdomain.xml?

After trying all different coding, i think yours is the best. maybe my skill is still not up to standard ;p


The skin is loaded from an external swf.



Is there a way to set the frame that shows before the video is played. Say, for example, I need to display the frame from 1:20 of the video as the still frame. Is this possible?



I had some problems embeding the flv on my site, it played localy but when I tried to play it on my website it didn't work. After few days I found out that .flv extension wasn't included in MIME types on my server. I hope this'll help to someone because I spent hours and hours trying to correct this.


This is a really cool little thing, but it would be improved enormously if there was a way to pass a parameter with the number of seconds that the .flv file should be buffered. this would help large files stream more smoothly.

I am trying to embed this to my blog -

I thought it was a .swf file when I looked at the page source. Turns out it is .wmv What code should I use to make it post on my blog?


The player swf isn't legal .. its a copy of a commercial one by the same name. Would have been nice to put that right up front in the article

thanks for this! it worked on ie. downloaded the player and skin and uploaded to my own website..

How do you get the video to keep looping over and over??

Please let me know.

this post very usefull for me. I tried on my blog and it is worked.
and I found other skins clear-flvskins and halo-skins.
I tried to do fullscreen but I didn't
I need to do fullscreen function how can I do that. thans.

Flash Video Editing Made Simple - Learn Everything about FLV Videos

Flash Video Editing Made Simple - Learn Everything about FLV Videos

By Amit on youtube

edit-flv-video-filesFlash Video (flv) has become the default video format on the web and almost every video sharing site uses FLV to stream videos online. And its not just the YouTube clones, even media properties like CNN have switched to Adobe Flash Video.

Other than viewing Flash videos in your browser, some of download FLV files locally to enjoy web videos offline.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Editing FLV Flash Videos

Watching videos in an FLV player is half the fun - you can do so many other things like split FLV videos into multiple clips, trim the introductory part, convert flv videos to MP3 songs, extract image frames from the video, etc. Lets get started:

Q: How to Edit FLV Videos with expensive video editors ?

There are no standalone FLV editors around but if you have Adobe AIR, I highly recommend RichFLV - a lightweight flv editor that lets you do almost everything with FLV video clips.


With RichFLV, you can split flv files by adding cue-points, join two or more FLV video clips by stitching or add new MP3 sound tracks over your existing FLV video. Perfect if you want to edit YouTube videos on the computer.

Mac users have another good option - download Perian that turns Quick Time Pro into a FLV editor.

Q. How to convert FLV videos into MP3 audio files ?

extract-mp3-flv To extract audio from flv files, get the free FLV Extract utility from - the video is saved as an MP3 file and the quality of sound in the original video is maintained as there’s no encoding done to save the audio.

Alternatively, you can extract MP3 from FLV files only using - an online service.

Q. Which media players can play Flash Videos on the desktop ?

To play FLV video files on the desktop, you can use Adobe Media Player, VLC Media Player or this standalone player which I think is the best flv player around for XP or Vista.

If you are on a Mac, you can play FLV videos downloaded from YouTube in your QuickTime player using the free Perian component discussed above.

Q. How to extract image frames from FLV Videos ?

You can export any image frame out of the FLV video using either the RichFLV editor or through VLC Media Player.

Open the .flv file in VLC, navigate to the frame that you want to save as an image and press Ctrl+Alt+S (or Video -> Snapshot). Note that the regular Print Screen key will not work for capturing screenshot from FLV file.

upload-flv-blip Q. Where can you upload FLV Video files on the web ?

Blip.TV - none of the other video sharing sites accept FLV format files.

Related - Why Choose Blip.TV over YouTube

Q. How to Embed FLV video clips in web pages ?

Read this guide on how to embed flv files in web pages. Alternatively, you could upload the file to Blip.TV and use the embed code provided by Blip.TV.

Q. How to Convert FLV videos to other video formats like WMV, AVI, etc ?

Use SUPER - the program may look complex at first glance but don’t worry, it’s very easy. I think it even lets you convert SWF movies into FLV videos.

Q. How to create new FLV movies files from scratch ?

VideoSpin is the only free video editing software I know of that can export movies into Flash Video format. An alternate trick is export your video into Windows Media or AVI and convert it into FLV using a converter program like SUPER .

For more tips and tricks regarding YouTube and Google Videos, check our previous guide on Interesting Things to Do with YouTube Videos.