Cool Tools – Keep Windows Humming

We’ve got some big ol’ updates for the Cool Tools section.  The folks at Piriform have been cranking out some cool stuff, and they just keep making them better and better.  Best of all they are all free.  They have several tools that help keep Windows happy, a system cleaning and fixing tool, a defrag tool and a system information too.  Check out a brief description of each one below, and be sure to follow the links to the sites for each tool to get all the details.  Be sure to check all of the Cool Tools that we have posted as well as all the good articles in the Library.

Cool tools from Piriform:

  • CCleaner – This is a great tool for finding files that can be safely removed in order free up space on your hard drive.  It also has a great registry cleaner, a tool for managing program startup when your machine starts, an interface to uninstalling software and more.  This is a great system maintenance tool.
  • Defraggler – This tool is one of, if not the best defrag tool for Windows.  This tool is not the fastest, but that’s OK because it’s very thorough.  It takes time to do it right, and do it right it does from my experience.
  • Speccy – I superb system info tool.  No install necessary, just run and collect data.

In all, these free tools rival the commercial alternatives and any tech should add them to his or her kit.  Check ’em out.

Hash Monster – MD5 Checksum Tool

Hash MonsterI have added another goody for anyone working on Windows that might be interested.  It’s an new tool that does MD5 checksum generation and comparison for you.  It’s free and still in BETA, but I am pretty sure it’s solid and I have any kinks worked out.  If you have any troubles, let me know or post in the forums.  Now, get over there and check it out!

Solarum’s MySQL Reference

Heads up, I have added something that I think you will find useful.  I have added a MySQL reference to the Library!  This is more than a cheat sheet, I try to explain the things that are going on in there as we do it, so it should be a good way to not only see how to do specific things, but also understand them as well.  Check it out here and see what you think, if you see anything wrong with it or you have some tip of you own you’d like me to add, drop a line and let me know.  Enjoy!

Nice Usenet News Reader For Free

XanaNews Screenshot

XanaNews Screenshot

I was looking for a good, solid and preferably open source news reader (usenet client) whilst booted into Windows XP on my laptop earlier, and I found a dandy. I found a lightweight client called XanaNews, which although lightweight, not over burdened or bulky, it is also solid and easy to use. Throw in that it is open source and free, and it’s a nice application.

I looked at the screen shots and it looked like it was along the lines of what I wanted, so I decided to download it and give it a try.  After running the installer I easilly configured my news server (Giganews, if you aren’t using them and you want AWESOME usenet access, check these guys out! Like NOW!) and off I went, effortlessly subscribing to groups and reading posts on procmail.  That’s what I was working on at the time.

Well, I liked XanaNews so much, that I decided to install it on my main machine running Ubuntu.  I fired up Wine and ran through the same install steps and it again worked like a charm.  So now I can use this dandy little news reader on Windows and Linux.  I felt like I just had to share with everyone, because it seems like good usenet clients are hard to find unless you want to try and use something bundled into a web browser or email client which I usually don’t.  Give me an app made especially for what I want to use it for, and it’s probably going to do a better job of it every time.  Not always, but most of the time I would say.  Hope you enjoy it!

Best Backup Tool For Budding Networks

One thing I have been doing for many years now, decades even, is backing up and restoring data.  It’s easy to backup stuff at home, simply copy your valuable bits and bytes to an external hard drive or write them to a CD-R or DVD-R.  This makes backups easy, though a bit cumbersome, especially as hard drives and data requirements get bigger and bigger.  Think about all the digital content we have nowadays versus just a few years ago.  Movies, music, games and more that get purchased and downloaded right off the net mean more and more gigabytes to backup.

Screenshot of BackupPC software

Screenshot of BackupPC software

Still though, for saving the critical stuff like documents and pictures, CD’s and DVD’s are OK.  But what about when you have more than one computer?  With prices falling and computer technology getting more and more prevalent in the home, it’s not un-common for households to have at least two computers in the form of a desktop and laptop.  However, I am seeing more and more households with computers for mom and dad, the kids, grandparents and then some laptops on top of all that!  Whew!  Now we are getting into one major pile of work to try and back all that up.

In the commercial world where you are backing up a data center full of servers and/or cubes laden with workstations, you buy commercial software like Veritas Backup Exec or NetBackup or Arcserve, etc.  Throw your data onto tapes inside a robotic tape library and manage it all from one central console.  Now, that’s all well and good, but it’s very expensive and doesn’t exactly fit in the average home very well.

So, where does that leave people like me and I am sure many of you out there that still have several computers to backup?  We are caught in a kind of in between place.  Well, I am going to share some good stuff that I have found, and actually have been very impressed with. Continue reading

Using VNC Viewer, F8 is your friend

This is just a quick tip for anyone that uses VNC, expecially on Linux.  This works in TightVNC and maybe others too, it might be a VNC standard.  When using the VNC viewer or client on Windows, you can right click on the title bar of the window to get some extra options, like sending Ctrl-Alt-Del to the host to log into a Windows box.  When using this on Linux, right clicking on the title bar had no effect.  Uh oh, how was I going to login to my Windows box?  Well, I found that F8 will bring up the menu and allow you to do various things, including sending keystrokes to the host you are connected to.  So, there you have it.  When in doubt, try F8 when using the VNC viewer.