I am a sucker for efficiency. I like being super efficient, a good time manager, productive and well, again, efficient. I would romance efficiency, if that was humanly possible. As a writer, I have to research lots of links, scourge through the web for information and perform insane number of super-powered, unearthly moves to gather my research. Usually, what I require, other than my superpowers, is knowledge of what I need to find, effective searching techniques and, not to forget, a browser for all of my antics.
Since my browsing is usually a combination of Firefox-ing and Chrome-ing, with Firefox taking up nearly 90% of the browsing time, I have some extensions/plugins to enhance my browsing experience and meet my needs. Today, allow me to take you through the 7 Firefox extensions that have made life easy for me.
Evolve is a small independently developed and published free client and website built for serious gamers.
Evolve is not game distribution software. It’s not set out to be a commercial program. It isn’t spammed with advertisements. It’s meant to work alongside other software. Unlike Steam, Origin, Battle.net, Uplay, or most other programs out there, you can use it to centralise your entire gaming experience. Although often confused with them, it isn’t a replacement for any of the programs listed above.
As of right now, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of workers developing new software and upgrading current ones such as the Microsoft Office applications. While improvements in these applications do allow us to produce higher quality work, it is hard for users of the previous versions to adapt and be able to navigate through the various interfaces to use certain features (e.g. preparing a footnote or writing a proper function). For those of you who wish for a single button that you could simply press to make your life easier, you should check out KeyRocket.
Let’s admit it. Going digital has brought in a ton of content overload. Photos, music, videos – every single format type easily consumes tens of gigabytes of hard disk space. Navigating through the hundreds of files to locate the ones you are looking for using a standard file explorer is a painful process.
When it comes music, there plenty of apps that do an amazing job organizing the digital music library. Winamp, iTunes and our very Windows Media player are some worth mentioning. I heard good things about MediaMonkey and thought it would be fun to try this media manager out. Read about my tryst with this media manager after the break.
So, first off, a little about me: I live in the UK, I’m from Guildford in Surrey, and currently live near Liverpool with my wife and one and a half year old son, both of whom are amazing. I work in Chester as a Web Developer, which is great fun, challenging and rewarding. For those of you who are interested my language of choice is C# and I do a lot of SQL and ASP.NET.
My commute is an hour and a half each way and I get most of my writing done on the train, so as to not miss out on time with the family. I have recently bought a Samsung Series 9 laptop which is an awesome bit of kit and allows me to work on the train without having to carry a heavy laptop around. Due to using a laptop a lot of the time, and being a developer at work, I love keyboard shortcuts over mouse use as I find it faster, especially when I’m on the laptop.
Last month, I reviewed Directory Opus, a fantastic file explorer that utilizes the two-pane view popularized by Norton Commander. It’s not the only file explorer that’s built around that feature. In this roundup, I look at four other file explorers that were also inspired by Norton Commander.
One thing that Microsoft has always excelled at is making its operating system customizable, and what the company does not do, third-party services make up for. Stardock is one of the premier makers and has been especially popular since the release of Windows 8, thanks in large part to bringing back the Start Menu, but it is far from the only one.
This all brings us to BetterDesktop Tool. This app is not for bringing back the long-lost Start Button and Menu, but it certainly brings plenty of functionality along.
Get the App
Head over to the BetterDesktop Tool web site and you will find two choices — there are standard and pro versions, with the Standard option being free. Both versions are contained within the download package. Commercial users must purchase a license and can try BetterDesktopTool Professional Edition free for 30 days. The app is compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows.
During the installation process you will be prompted to choose between “Private Usage” and “Commercial Usage (30 Day Trial)”. The app requires only 1.5 MB of free disk space. There are no toolbars or other software included in the app and installation is extremely fast.
Only three tabs garner the top of the screen — “Windows and Desktop Overview”, “Virtual-Desktop” and “General”. All have a rather geeky look to them, but they are less scary once you understand what each can do. The app is capable of a lot, but we will hit the highlights here to get you introduced to all of the functionality that BetterDesktop Tool brings along.
Windows and Desktop Overview
This is the first of those geeky looking screens I mentioned, but do not let appearances put you off. It is not as scary as it may at first look. First there are several dropdown menus that allow you to set options, which as Ctrl-Tab or Alt-Tab, for a range of choices, and these can be to not only keystrokes, but also mouse clicks and “hot corners”.
- Show all windows
- Show foreground app windows
- Show desktop
- Show non-minmized windows
- Show desktop
Mouse options include the usual – left, middle and right buttons. Hot corners are areas of the screen – top and bottom right and top and bottom left.
Other options on this tab include “Arrange windows in a regular grid”, “Move all windows to primary screen” and “Show top-level windows only”.
There are also two buttons at the bottom right of the screen — Exclude Window and Reset Excluded Windows. The first will propt you with instructions. “To exclude a window start window-overview (show all windows) and right-click the window you want to exclude. Select the corresponding menu item and the window will be excluded”. The latter button does the opposite.
By default, Virtual Desktop is enabled as is “Move windows between virtual-desktops by dragging them to the screen edges for a time”. Howeveryou can disable these and also choose from a number of options.
The “Show virtual desktop” option has similar dropdown menus for keyboard, mouse and hot corners. You can choose what occurs when another application on a virtual desktop gets activated — move it, switch it or make the app global.
“Direct switching” also has options for keyboard shortcuts, as well as moving and switching. Finally, there is an option forthe amount and arrangement of windows that appear on your screen. By default, this is set four – two wide and two high. However, both of these can be changed by clicking the up and down arrows to the right of each number.
The “General” tab has six options, the first three of which are enabled by default.
- Start Program with Windows
- Check for updates on start
- Disable all shortcuts when a fullscreen application is running (e.g. games)
- Disable animation for window, desktop and virtual-desktop overview
- Ask to restore applications from hidden virtual desktops before shutdown/logoff (blocks shutdown)
- Enable multitouch-gesture support for designated touchpads
Below this, there are two button at thebottom of the screen — “Check for update” and “About and License”. Both options do exactly as the names describe.
- Arranges all windows in a non overlapping layout. Allows selection of an arbitrary window to bring it to the foreground.
- Can be applied to minimized, non-minimized and foreground application windows.
- Supports Multi-Monitor setups.
- Moves all windows away from your desktop to give you access to Desktop-Shortcuts and Sidebar-Gadgets.
- Supports Multi-Monitor setups.
- Configuration of Mouse and Keyboard shortcuts for all functions.
- Configuration of Hot-Corners for all functions.
As I said back at the beginning, there are countless applications for customizing Windows. BetterDesktop Tool is perhaps one the better ones, as it allows the user to set all sorts of shortcuts using the the keyboard and mouse and even screen corners. The app is also free and comes with no malware or toolbars that attempt to install themselves in the setup process.
The company also points out that support for window selection by keyboard shortcuts will also follow soon in the next version. The company regularly updates its app, so you can expect to get regular new features and bug fixes.
In 2010, Metro 2033 redefined the meaning of silence and stillness. From impending action to lurking danger, Metro 2033 bent the perception of silence, darkness and stillness towards evil. Now, in 2013, the sequel to Metro 2033, Metro: Last Light, is in my hands and I feel the same energy in it as in its predecessor.
Metro: Last Light has been looking good in teasers and commercials, but does it actually perform? Well, after playing it thoroughly and patiently, the way this FPS is meant to be played, I can say that it almost hits the spot. Let’s find out how!
If you’ve read my “Apps I Couldn’t Live Without” article you will know that Ginger is one of my favourite applications. Ginger is a free application which quickly grammar checks writing and picks up on any typos or mistakes you may have made.
If you would like to read my full review of Ginger click here: Ginger: An Invaluable Tool For Writers.
Recently I came in contact with one of main members of the Ginger team, Dudu Noy. He was kind enough to speak to me about everything from the beginning of Ginger, all the way to what the future holds. Read on to find out more!
GitHub has established itself as the premier place for developers to show off and share their programs. Unfortunately for Windows users, most of its focus has been on Unix and Unix-alike platforms. This is not surprising given that it is based on the Git distributed version control system, written by Linus Torvalds to coordinate development of Linux. The fine folks at GitHub have been remedying this by improving coordination with Windows. This includes providing a free desktop Git client for Windows, the focus of this review.