Tech Xpress

Convert files online between 41 formats using Zamzar

Zamzar is a free online file conversion service that lets you convert files to, hold your breath, 41 different file formats. And what's more, its a Free service.

Zamzar has split these file formats into 4 categories:

Document formats (let's you convert to 14 file formats)
Image formats (5 formats)
Music formats (11 formats)
Video formats (11 formats)

Converting a file in Zamzar takes only 4 steps.

1. Select your file (At present, Zamzar only supports files less than 100 MB).
2. From a list, choose the format you want to convert to .
3. Enter the email address where you want to receive the converted file.
4. Click Convert button.

Once converted, you will get a link to the converted file by email. Use this link to download the file within 24 hours, else it will be deleted from the server.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Saturday, December 30, 2006
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Orkut down for more than half a day

Popular social networking site Orkut has been down for nearly 14 hrs. Google has mentioned Orkut is under construction.

This doesn't seem like any normal maintenance.
An upgrade seems highly unlikely considering the time its been down.


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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Friday, December 29, 2006
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After laptops, its overheating cameras now

Canon has issued a safety notice regarding overheating problems in two of its digicam models.
The digital camera models affected are the Canon PowerShot A530 and the Canon PowerShot A540.

Canon says the area around the battery cover on the bottom of the camera overheats. This is caused because the battery cover spring sticks out from its usual position.
A short-circuit is a possibility when the battery cover is closed.

Besides overheating, batteries can also get depleted very quickly which reduces the number of shots you could take.

If the first two digits of your camera serial number starts with '21', '22', '23' or '24', open your battery cover and check if the cover spring sticks out.
Check the picture of malfunctioning cameras below.


Canon has mentioned that it will repair the problematic cameras without any charges, even if the digicams are not under warranty.

More important information and pictures from the Canon Support site

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Friday, December 29, 2006
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Chess player uses Bluetooth to cheat. Gets Banned.

Umakant Sharma, an Indian chess player was slapped with a 10 year ban by the All India Chess Federation (AICF) after he was caught using a cap with a bluetooth headset stitched in it.

The modus operandi was to simulate the moves of the game in a computer program.
Sharma's accomplices relayed the moves made by the computer program to him using bluetooth.

The AICF unearthed this while doing a random check during a chess tournament where Sharma was seeded second.

Pretty lame for a second seeded player to resort to cheap tricks like this!

Read full story here

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Friday, December 29, 2006
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View your site in different Browsers

Testing a website in different browsers has become a major headache now-a-days with increasing number of users opting for browsers other than Internet Explorer.

I usually test my site for Firefox and Internet Explorer 6. Firefox has a very useful extension called IE Tab than allows you to view web pages in Firefox using the Internet Explorer engine.

This is where Browsershots.org will come in handy for many. Browsershots takes screenshots of your web page for different browsers.

To view the web design for different browsers:

1. Go to Browsershots.

2. Submit your URL and Click Start.

This will lead you to a 'Select browsers and configurations' page where you can specify the browsers and other configurations like javascript, screen resolutions, color depth etc...
Click Submit Jobs.

3. On submission, your website will be added to a job queue. You can view the queue status from the Queue page.
The screenshots of your site will appear after some time in the Screenshots page.

The only problem here is you may have to wait a lot once your site is in the job queue. (I missed my blog's screenshots because of the wait time.)

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Thursday, December 28, 2006
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Pen that writes without Ink

You read it right!
An 8cm stainless steel metal pen which looks like any ordinary pen. And thats where the comparison ends.

The real deal? Remove the top cover and you will notice the pen has got a metal 'nib'. So, ink is out of question.
Grand Illusions claims this metal pen can be used to write on any type of paper.


How does it write?
When you write, the metal 'nib' of the pen works by leaving a mark on the surface of the paper.


They further claim, the marks left by the pen look as if it was written using a pencil. (and the pictures above prove it).

Advantages:
a. The marks left by the pen will not smudge.
b. Longevity (25 years as claimed by Grand Illusions).
c. No need to sharpen. (Off course, you cannot! Its a metal 'nib'.)

Disadvantages:
a. Lines once written cannot be rubbed.
b. Not really cheap at $30 USD. (You can probably buy lots of pens and pencil for that amount)

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Picture source and link: Grand Illusions (You can also buy it from there.)

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Thursday, December 28, 2006
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Copying the File Path in Windows Vista

Unlike its predecessors, Windows Vista makes it notably easy for users to get the path of a file or directory.

In previous versions of Windows, users had to select a file or folder, click Properties from the right-click context menu and then copy the file path from the resulting Properties box.

Windows Vista greatly minimizes the steps involved to get the file path.

To copy a file or directory path in Windows:

1. Right-click the file or folder while holding down the SHIFT key.
2. Click 'Copy as Path' from the right-click context menu.

That's all. The file path is now copied. You will now be able to paste this path.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Tuesday, December 26, 2006
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Dictionary Tooltip: Double-click a word in Firefox to view Dictionary meaning

What is the first thing you do when you come across an unknown word in a web page?

I guess you select the word, copy it, go to a dictionary site or Google, paste and hit enter. Or you directly go to a dictionary website, type the word and press enter.
Then there are the ones who check their heavy dictionary.(No, not the online dictionaries.)

If you are a lazybone like me who finds all these steps damn annoying (especially when reading some really interesting stuff), there is help at hand.

Dictonary Tooltip is a Firefox extension that will completely minimize the steps I mentioned above.


How do I use this?

1. You only have to double-click a word on a web page to view its meaning.
Once you double-click the word, a small window displays the meaning. The meaning is retrieved from an online dictionary site.
You can also choose the dictionary site you want from a given list. As of now, this extension supports about 19 dictionary sites.

The small window that displays the meaning, has a maximize button at the top-right corner. Clicking the maximize button will open its contents in a new tab.

2. An alternate way is to
a. select a word in a web page,
b. right-click the selection and,
c. click View Definition from the menu.

Download Dictionary Tooltip for Firefox

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Monday, December 25, 2006
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Merry Christmas to All of you....


Wishing you all a Merry, Sugary, Spicey and very Nicey Christmas.
Enjoy Life!

Vijeesh

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Sunday, December 24, 2006
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View Unprotected Live Cameras Online using Google

Many people use cameras through the web to keep tabs on whatever they intend to. What most of them forget is to secure those camera connections. Yes! These unprotected cameras can be easily viewed by millions just by using Google.

And here's how you can take a sneak peek?

Just do a Google Search for the following:

inurl:LvAppl intitle:liveapplet

intitle:"WJ-NT104 Main"

inurl:indexFrame.shtml "Axis Video Server"

inurl:/view.index.shtml (Thanks to Thilak for this last one.)

It is important to note that you can view only unsecure cameras. Some are password protected. And sometimes, you will get a server timeout message.
But still, you will find a lot of unsecure connections.

Till then, Keep Trying!
Also, Don't forget to secure Your camera connection.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Saturday, December 23, 2006
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Move rows in MS Word using the keyboard

Hello Readers!

As you might have figured out from the topic header, this nice little trick will help you to move rows of data in Microsoft Word using the keyboard, just the keyboard.

If you can't make out what I'm trying to say, check the video below.



How can this be done?

Just Press and Hold the ALT + SHIFT keys and use the Up or Down arrow keys to move the rows up or down respectively.

You can also move multiple rows at once.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Friday, December 22, 2006
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Download mp3 files from Bebo

Bebo is a popular social networking site that allows you to post photos, write blogs, send messages just like MySpace.

Bebo has got a Bands section where you will find profiles of Bands and various unknown artists. These Bands upload music that can be played from Bebo's media player.

The songs can be directly downloaded to your computer as mp3 files just by following these steps.

1. Go to the Bebo website. (You must create an account first)

2. Click on the Bands section from the top of the page. This will lead you to a page where the profiles of the bands are listed. Click on anyone of the band profiles.

3. Once you enter a band profile page, a Songs section is displayed. Clicking on the Songs section displays the songs uploaded by the profile members. You will see a list of all the songs uploaded by members.

4. Now right-click any empty space here and select View Source or View Page Source.

5. The resulting window will display the Html source of the web page.
Search for the string .mp3 or getPlayer(escape('.
You will now get the full address of the mp3 files.
Copy and Paste it in another browser window. Hit Enter to download.

Thanks to Tech-Recipes for this trick

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Thursday, December 21, 2006
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Disable Tabs in IE7

Hello Readers!
As you all know, Microsoft has finally introduced Tabs in the latest version on its web browser, Internet Explorer.

Unlike previous versions, Internet Explorer 7 arms its users with the capability of tabbed browsing.

For those IE7 users who don't like to use tabs while surfing, there is some good news. You can easily disable Tabs in IE7. Just read the following steps

1. Open IE7, go to Tools >> Internet Options.

2. Click on the General tab.

3. In General tab, you will see a Settings button in the Tabs section. Click the Settings button.

4. A new dialog box is opened. Here, you have to uncheck the Enable Tabbed Browsing checkbox. Click Ok to close the dialog box.

5. Again click Ok to close the Internet Options box.

6. Restart Internet Explorer.

Now you can use Internet Explorer 7 without any tabs.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Thursday, December 21, 2006
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Simulate "No to all" Windows Trick

Everyone of you must have encountered the "Confirm File Replace.." dialog box while replacing a lot of files at once in Windows.


This box is displayed each time a file with a similar name already exists in the destination directory.

Clicking the "Yes to all" button will replace all the files with identical names and the "Confirm File Replace.." dialog box is not displayed again.

However, if you don't want to overwrite files, a single No button is provided.
This box doesn't have a "No to all" button for rejecting all overwrites together.
But you can still use this feature from here.

Just Press and Hold the Shift key while you click the No button in the "Confirm File Replace.." box.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Wednesday, December 20, 2006
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Sony to provide iTunes like service for PSP

Come 2007 and Sony Playstation Portable users will get an iTunes like store which will allow them to download movies.
With this video download service, Sony has made its intentions clear to grab a pie in the portable video market dominated by Apple's iPod.

Users won't be able to download movies directly to the PSP as it lacks a built-in hard-drive unlike the iPod(upto 80 GB internal drive) or the Zune(30 GB internal drive). Instead, the movies will have to be downloaded to a computer and transferred to a memory stick to be viewed in the PSP.
And this may just be Sony's biggest obstacle.

However, viewing movies(ie the display) in the PSP will definitely be much better than in Apple's iPod and Microsoft's Zune because of the PSP's widescreen and better resolution.

But, I don't think this will present a serious challenge to Apple iPod's domination on the portable video market.
If Sony finds a way to fit a decent internal drive in the PSP, Apple may have reasons to worry.

via ITWIRE

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Tuesday, December 19, 2006
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Avoid Related Images with Adsense ads

Google has made some glaring clarifications regarding the use of images near Adsense ads.

Its not difficult to interpret. Google does not want Adsense publishers to confuse or mislead visitors by placing related images near ad units.
Some Adsense publishers use this tactic to improve their CTR.

If the images and ads appear to be associated, even a small line or space between the images and ads will be against Google's Terms of Service.

Google has also provided examples of unacceptable ads:



The above examples clearly disguise the images as part of the ads. And that's exactly what Google is trying to say.
"Don't mislead visitors by making other images look like they are part of or provided with the Ads".

From my point of view, it all depends on how you place your ads. Even if images are related in some way, try not to confuse visitors. Just make a clear separation between images and ads.
There are also suggestions from Google, like using a full border or changing the color of ad units.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Tuesday, December 19, 2006
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Create custom Avatars with ImageChef

Avatars are small images that users use to represent themselves on forums, blogs, games and lately on popular social networking sites like Orkut, MyBlogLog, Myspace etc..

And here's a nice little site which allows you to make some cool looking avatars. ImageChef makes creating avatars a piece of cake.

The great thing here is the plethora of templates this site gives you. Once a template is chosen, you can specify the text that will appear in your avatar. This new avatar can then be easily downloaded from the site.

ImageChef also lets you create Instant Messenger avatars and animated avatars as well.

Below are a few samples for you.









Credits to Thilak

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Monday, December 18, 2006
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Search over 7 million US patents with Google Patent Search

Last week, Google released the Google Patent Search where people like you and me can search over 7 million patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

You can also perform an advanced search of patents by Patent number, Inventor and Filing Date.
And above all, you get to view images of the original patents online.

According to the official Google Blog, Google Patent search uses the same technology as Google Book search. So its very similar to the Google Book search experience.

Each patent in Google Patent search is divided into 4 sections : Abstract, Drawing, Description and Claims.
Besides this, you can also search for information from within an individual patent.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Monday, December 18, 2006
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Skype to provide lie detectors to users


For those who don't know, Skype is a service that allows you to make free 'computer to computer calls' and cheap 'computer to phone calls'.
Besides this, Skype also lets you make video calls among other features.

And now, Skype is going to offer the KishKish lie detector as an add-on for its users.

The KishKish lie detector checks the audio streams of the other person in real time. It then displays the person's stress levels to the Skype user.
Other than performing real time analysis, the calls can also be recorded for lie detection later.
The voice mail and call recorder are the other Skype products designed by KishKish.

This certainly seems like an interesting feature but not a promising one. I wonder how are the users going to gain(or loose) from the lie detector? Only time will tell.

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via BBC

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Friday, December 15, 2006
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Pirated Vista? Microsoft is watching...

A few hours ago I had posted a topic on pirated copies of Windows Vista sold in stores in Thailand.

And guess who visits Tech Xpress? Take a look at the picture below..


Check out the ISP and City details from the statcounter visitor analysis for Tech Xpress.
Apart from that, almost half hour spent on this blog.
I guess someone from Microsoft's Redmond headquarters is keenly keeping tabs on these developments.

That was indeed a quick one from MS.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Thursday, December 14, 2006
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Pirates crack Windows Vista in Thailand

Stores in Bangkok are selling pirated copies of Windows Vista RTM at prices ranging from $2.5 to $5.

Some guy apparently bought a copy from one such store for as low as $3.50.
But it was the label on the back cover of the pirated Windows Vista that was surprising.

The label specified that the product key is not required for Vista.
The label contents directed the users to set the BIOS time to the year 2099 before installing Windows Vista. Install Vista and then set the desktop to current time.


The author however was not able to confirm whether this will pass the Microsoft Windows Genuine Advantage checks.

From my side, I don't think this copy will pass the Microsoft Windows Genuine Advantage check. But you never know!

Read full story here.
Picture Source: TG DAILY

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Thursday, December 14, 2006
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Hide all desktop icons in Windows

Hiding icons from the Windows Desktop is not at all a difficult task. Why? Just read on to find out.

You don't need to install new softwares of edit the registry to pull this trick. Oops! Did I say "trick"?. This will not even qualify as a trick.

In fact, I would like to call this a "worthless feature" in Windows. At least, its been worthless for me.

So let's skip all the blah blah and come straight to the point.
Read the steps below:

For Windows XP


1. Right-click a blank space on the Desktop.
2. Go to Arrange Icons and untick Show Desktop Icons.

For Windows 2000


1. Right-click a blank space on the Desktop.
2. Go to Active Desktop (notice its Active Desktop in 2000 and not Arrange Icons as in XP) and untick Show Desktop Icons.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Wednesday, December 13, 2006
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Make New Tabs Always open your Homepage - Firefox 2.0 Tip

[Firefox 3 Update: If you want to do this with Firefox 3, check out my post on How to force new tabs to open your Homepage in Firefox 3]

Hello Readers!
Although I personally don't prefer this, some people find it useful to load their home pages every time a new Tab is opened in Firefox 2.

You have to download and install a small Add-on called Tabbrowser Preferences to make this work.

Just setting a home page in Firefox will open it(the homepage) only when Firefox is opened.
To load that home page each time a new tab is opened in Firefox, follow these steps:


1. In Firefox 2.0, go to Tools >> Options.
2. The Options box (picture above) is opened. Click Tabbed Browsing and select the User Interface Tab.
3. In the New Tab Button section, select Browser Homepage for the When load new tabs, load the: box.
4. Click Ok.

Now when you open a new tab in Firefox 2.0, the specified homepage will be loaded automatically in the tab.

If you have set multiple homepages in Firefox, the first page in the list is loaded.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Wednesday, December 13, 2006
| link | 9 Comments |

Make Notepad automatically insert Date and Time after every Update

Almost everyone is familiar with Windows Notepad. Yeah, it comes with very few features, but the pure simplicity and ease of use makes it a decent tool for maintaining temporary or some day-to-day data.

But did you know, Notepad can be set to automatically insert the Date and Time after each update?
Infact, a Timestamp can be automatically inserted every time the Notepad file is closed and reopened.
So this makes a notepad text file an excellent option for maintaining a simple log book.

And here's how to do it.


1. Open a Notepad Text file.
2. Type ".LOG" in the first line.(See picture above)
3. That's it. Now Notepad will add Date and Time whenever you reopen the file.

Also, if you just want to add Date and Time while the file is open, Press F5. The Timestamp will be added automatically.

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posted by Vijeesh Ravindran, Tuesday, December 12, 2006
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