Make The Most Of Your Dropbox Account

Cloud storage is all the rage these and when it comes to cloud storage, Dropbox is one service that needs no introduction. Being one of the most popular online backup services, a lot of people use it to store their pictures, videos, documents and almost all types of files. Useful as it is, the dropbox service can be extended to much more than just a regular file storage service with the help of these free web based services.

Perform automated actions on saving files

Wappwolf is an automator for dropbox which means that you can have certain actions performed automatically when you drop files to specific folders in your dropbox account. A lot of actions are available such as automatically upload pictures to your facebook or google+ account, convert files to pdf or ebook, zip it, email it and many more.

Backup Your Website or Blog

Ask any webmasters and you will know how important it is to keep a backup of one’s website. My BackupBox makes this process automated by scheduled backups to your dropbox account. All you need to do is connect your account from where you want to transfer the files. Available options include FTP, SFTP, MySQL, Dropbox, Box, Skydrive and Google Drive. Once you set your source and destination, you can choose for a one time transfer or scheduled transfers on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Receive Files Publicly

Emails are not the most convenient means when it comes to receiving files, especially large ones. DropItToMe allows users to receive files from anyone directly to your dropbox account. Register with the site and set your upload password get your file upload url for your DROPitTOyourname page. On visiting this link users will have to enter the upload password before uploading a file. This prevents any unwanted upload from unknown users.  File size of upto 75 MB is supported by the service. Check the screenshot which shows the page for uploading files into my dropbox account.

Save files directly from a url

If there is an online file that you want to store into your dropbox account then downloading it to your computer and then transferring it to dropbox is unnecessary hassle. You can easily overcome it by using SideCloudLoad as it lets you save a file directly from its url into your dropbox. All you need to do is enter the file url and your dropbox credentials.

Save Emails and Attachments

If saving directly from url or receiving files publicly is not enough for you, this service can save your email attachments into your dropbox folder. Visit SendToDropbox and connect your dropbox account to get your @sendtodropbox.com email address. You can share this email id with anyone and all emails and attachments received at this address will be saved into an ‘Attachments’ folder in your dropbox account. Also, you can add the sendtodropbox email address to the forward list in your existing email id so that all emails and attachments sent there are also saved into your dropbox account.

Do share with us if you use any cloud based services for your storage needs and if you found the above services useful. If you haven’t started using Dropbox, yet, get your free account here. Don’t wait !

Diagnose and Solve All Your Windows PC Problems with Soluto

Every PC user is familiar with problems such as slow boot up, frequent crashes and sluggish and unresponsive applications.

Most advanced users are able to solve their day-to-day PC issues but a not-so-advanced user is often left wondering what he can do to make sure his PC is in good running condition all the time.

Soluto brings an end to all your worries with their aptly called “Anti-Frustration Software”. Currently in its Beta version, the utility of Soluto can be distinctly divided into 3 categories: Chop Boot Time, Lighten Web Browser and Heal Crashes.

The first thing that you will notice after installing Soluto is the extremely pleasant user interface. The start-up screen shows you a list of the 3 tasks it performs. Just taking our mouse over each icon is enough to activate the control and you get further options to customize. Let us discuss the features one by one.

Chop Boot Time

Whenever your PC boots up, a small screen on the bottom left will show the time it takes to load each application. If you think your boot up time is long you can go to the Chop Boot option on the Soluto main screen and look at the total boot time and the number of applications run on boot. Below that information is a list of the applications divided into 3 groups.

The first is the “No Brainer” and it contains the list of applications that can be safely removed from the boot.

Second is  “Potentially Removable”. This option is for advanced users and the user must decide whether he needs the application in his boot or not.

Last is the “Required” category with consists of mostly Windows services and it cannot be removed from boot up.

Hovering over each icon in any category will open a small pop-up window giving information about that application. You can check when that application was installed, why it runs on boot and whether it’s advisable to remove it or not. If you are not sure what to do with the application, you can check out what percentage of people chose with action with the same application and pause, delay or keep it in boot accordingly.

When you “Pause” an application, it is not run during boot up. Instead, it is run at the users command. “Delaying” the application is a good option when you want to run the application after some time when the PC is idle.

Whenever you “Pause” or “Delay” and application, Soluto will show you how much boot time you have saved and your new boot up time along with the number of applications in it.

Lighten Web Browser

This does what it says. This option will show you a list of the toolbars and add-ons that you can remove from your browser. If you have multiple browsers, you can click on each browser icon to view and enable/disable its own list of “Safely Removable” and “Possibly Removable” add-ons.

It also allows you to change the default search engine for each of the browsers installed on your PC.

Heal Crashes

This option will show you a list of the recent crashes that have occurred on your PC and possible solutions for them. There are also times when Soluto is not able to provide any solution and in such a scenario you will see the number of days remaining for the solution to be available.

All in all, Soluto is a very simple yet efficient solution to deal with problems such as slow start ups and frequent PC crashes. Since it is only in its Beta version, information about a lot of applications but the team behind Soluto is very responsive and the software is getting better all the time. I highly recommend it to all Windows users.

Download Soluto for free here.

UnInstall Applications On Mac OS X Using AppCleaner

AppCleanerFor all it’s UI slickness and user friendliness, Mac OS doesn’t really provide a good way to uninstall applications. The designers of OS X assumed that most people will install applications using the drag and drop approach and uninstalling application will be as simple as dragging the application icon to trash.

While that is how a majority of applications on Mac OS X work and dragging them to trash does remove the application, most applications also create temporary files in the user’s home directory and those are not removed when you drag the application icon to trash.

I’ve written about one method for uninstalling .pkg packages earlier but that is the Geeky Ninja way. An easier way to uninstall applications is to use a tool such as AppCleaner.

AppCleaner is free software that lets you uninstall unwanted apps. AppCleaner works by finding all the files belonging to an application that are scattered throughout the filesystem and offers to remove all of them when you uninstall the application.

Using AppCleaner

AppCleaner is a pretty simple utility to use. When you first launch it, you’ll see a blank screen with the words “Drop Apps Here”. This is your cue !

AppCleaner - Uninstaller for Mac OS X

Drag and drop the app that you want to uninstall to this window and AppCleaner will search all the files that it can find related to that app.

AppCleaner

Pretty neat, isn’t it ?

AppCleaner can also automatically search for the installed applications and let you select multiple applications to uninstall from a list in one go. Very useful if you want to uninstall more than one app at the same time and do some spring cleaning of your Mac.

AppCleaner

Apart from uninstalling applications, AppCleaner can also be used to remove unwanted widgets and plugins from your computer. Just click on the Widgets or Others button and follow the same procedure to uninstall them.

Summary

AppCleaner is a must have tool for any OS X user. The best part about AppCleaner is the price and while there are paid tools that offer a few more features, AppCleaner works for most use cases.

One feature that I’d love AppCleaner to add is the ability to delete hidden files along with the applications that created them. A lot of applications for OS X follow the Unix tradition of creating hidden files (files named with a leading dot) to store configuration information and AppCleaner doesn’t clean them when uninstalling apps.

All said, I think AppCleaner is a pretty neat tool and you really can’t go wrong with the features it provides.

Do you use any other similar tool for uninstalling apps on Mac OS X ? Let me know in the comments.

Download AppCleaner For Free.

Optimize Images For The Web Using ImageOptim

As the saying goes, An image is worth a thousand words.

As a tech blogger, I absolutely live by that saying. I like to include a lot of images in my posts for reference and also because sometimes it’s just easier to explain a concept with a single image rather than writing a couple of paragraphs on it.

The only problem with including a large number of images is that the size of an individual page increases and so does the load time. Even though the average home user who reads this blog now has a lot more bandwidth at his/her disposal, page load times are still a factor to keep in mind while designing web sites. And that is the reason why most image editing applications such as Photoshop or The Gimp come with an option to save an image For The Web.

What this option does is that it removes unnecessary information such as color profiles, comments and whitespace from the image and makes the size of the image smaller so that it loads faster over slow internet connections.

But, you don’t have to buy Photoshop or download The Gimp for just this simple task. ImageOptim can do it for you and that too for free.

ImageOptim is an open source application for OS X that does one thing and does it well. It optimizes and reduces the size of any image file that you pass to it.

It is also probably one of the easiest applications to use and understand, that I’ve ever seen. The whole operation is a simple drag and drop affair. Just drag your image file and drop it on the ImageOptim window and ImageOptim gets to work right away.

ImageOptim overwrites the original file with the new optimised image and while some may think of this as a limitation, I think it is just this simplicity that makes the application such a joy to use.

You can even download and install a Finder service that’ll let you optimize your images with just a right click without even launching ImageOptim.

Do you guys struggle with keeping the size of the images on your websites in control ? Do you use any tools for the purpose ?

Please give ImageOptim a try and let me know how that works out for you.

How to read HFS+ volumes on Windows

HFS Explorer I’ve been using an OS X Leopard (That’s 10.5) machine at work since the last few days for a project that I’m working on. I’ve been a Unix user for a long time so I’m pretty comfortable with the Unix side of OS X including the file system and the BSD underpinnings.

For those who haven’t used OS X, it uses a proprietary file system called HFS+ as the default file system. Because it is a proprietary file system and Apple hasn’t really released any specs for it yet, there aren’t too many utilities to read or write to HFS+ volumes (That’s what Apple calls their partitions) from operating systems other than Apple’s own.

Why would I want to do that ? Well, I normally wouldn’t … but yesterday I was in a hurry to get back home from work and needed to copy some files from the OS X machine so that I could work on them at home. What I forgot in a hurry was that the USB stick that I was using had been formatted as an HFS+ volume. I came home and plugged in the USB stick to my home PC and waited and waited for it to get recognized. Windows recognized the stick but refused to read it. That is when I realized my mistake.

I searched online for tools which would let me get my data off the flash drive and let me work on it from my Windows machine.

HFSExplorer is one such small utility designed to do  that.

You can choose to download either the Windows based Installer or the standalone zip file. I chose the zip file, downloaded and extracted the contents to a folder on my PC and plugged in the flash drive that I wanted to read the data from.

HFSExplorer

Continue reading “How to read HFS+ volumes on Windows”

How to find out which process has a particular file open

Process ExplorerEver tried deleting, moving or renaming a file and got a terse message from Windows saying, you can’t ! With the reason being that the said file is in use by another process !

If you’ve ever been faced with one of those “Cannot delete a file because it is in use by another program” dialogue boxes, you’ll know how frustrating that can be.

The fact that you’ve closed every other program running on the system and still you get that message is even more annoying. So much for multitasking !

Windows, like all operating system, has no control over who requests to open a file. And when an application closes, it assumes that it’ll close and release control over all the files it opened. That sometimes doesn’t work. If an application crashes midway, or because of a bug forgets to close a file that it opened for use, Windows continues to assume that the file is still open by that application. And so if you go on to delete, move or do anything destructive with that file, you get this dreaded message.

Process Explorer

The problem is that Windows, by default, does not come bundled with any utility to help you overcome this problem. Although someone at Microsoft did recognize the need for such a tool and released the excellent Sysinternals Process Explorer.

Continue reading “How to find out which process has a particular file open”

Caffeine keeps your PC awake

CaffeineI’m sure you agree that having the screen saver kick in, while you’re watching your favourite movie on the PC, is one of the most annoying things that can happen. 

And if you do agree with the above statement, we’ve got just the utility for you.

Caffeine is a small utility that sits in the system tray all day long and prevents your PC from going to sleep. It does this by simulating a keypress every 59 seconds by default. The time can be changed with the help of command line options to Caffeine.

Caffeine

Caffeine is free to use and the small download (13kb only) gives you absolutely no reason NOT to give it a shot. 

Go on, download Caffeine and the next time you’re watching a movie, run it. Just make sure that you set the keystroke time to be less than the time you’ve set for your screensaver to set in.