Apps of Interest: Notepad++

Use: Text/ Source Code Editor
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Current Version: 6.1.2
Website:  http://notepad-plus-plus.org/

Notepad++ Main Window with multiple tabs in use

A text editor like the built-in Microsoft Windows but with a few enhancements…

Tabs:  As seen in the screenshot above, You can have more than one text (.txt) file open organized in a single application Window just like modern web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE etc.)  Notepad++ can also remember what tabs/documents you had open (Sessions) when you close the main window.   Documents tabs will usually appear blue. Red means that there is unsaved data in the document and grey means that the document was set into “Read-only” mode.

User Interface Languages:   This application supports a great many languages from around the world.

Programming Languages: Recognizes  CSS, HTML, XML, PHP, Java Script, C++, Python, Ruby and others. Notepad++ also saves to the proper output files as well.

The application only  uses up 14 MBs of storage space and around for 12 MBs of RAM while I had the three text document tabs open for the screenshot.


Apps of Interest: Space Sniffer

Use: Hard Drive space usage analyzer
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Current Version: 1.1.3.1
Website:  http://www.uderzo.it/main_products/space_sniffer/index.html

Space Sniffer Main screen

The main reason why I’m posting about this is because it shows you what files/folder are taking the most hard drive, flash drive, or even memory card space. It also can show you folder structure thanks to how it shows sub-folders. The app is currently freeware/donationware

The app is quite simple to use…

1) Start the application

2) Choose a drive or folder location. You can also paste or type in the folder path.

3) Hit the start button and wait for your computer to finish the scan

The Screenshot above shows you what the application looks like when it has finished a scan. It shows you file names and file sizes for items inside the drive or folder you chose. One nice feature of Space sniffer is that the larger the file, the more space it takes up in the window.  You navigate the application using you computer mouse.

Space Sniffer multiple Windows

Space Sniffer actually allows you scan and display multiple paths or drives.  You can assign different color for each file type group, such as video ( mp4, AVI,)  , music (aac, mp3, ogg, flac..) You can actually add filetype groupings to the application’s listing. You can use the existing groups, edit them and even make your own.

The pre-configured groupings are:

Archives/Disc Images: zip;7zip;rar;iso
Audio/Music: mp2;mp3;wav;ogg;aif;alp;au;3gp;ac3;amr;aac;m4a;wma;aiff;flac;m4a;voc
Executables/System files: exe;dll;sys;ini;msi;log
Pictures/Images:  jpg;jpeg;gif;png;tif;tiff;nef;raw;rw2;cr2;bmp;psd
Video/ Movies: qt;mov;mpeg;mpg;mpe;m1s;mp4;avi;mts;vob;wmv;rm;3gp;mkv

The application only takes up 2 MBs of Hard drive space, no installation, and used around 6 MBs in RAM usage during my testing.

 


Apps of Interest: Audacity

Use : Audio editor and recorder
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Current version:  1.2.6 (stable) , 1.3.13 (beta)
Website:  http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Audacity for Windows

Audacity 1.2.6 on Microsoft Windows

Audacity is a freeware audio editor and recorder. It supports importing and processing of mp3, wav, ogg audio files. You can also use it as recorder, if you have microphones and/or headsets. Working on multiple tracks is possible, as seen in the screenshot above. Various effects can be applied to the audio. Fade, normalize, amplification.

The Memory usage for me was around 20 MB and the hard disk usage is just under 9 MBs v 1.2.6. Even though the Audacity website states that 1.2.6 is not supported on Windows Vista. I am able to run, process, and save/export audio files just fine. 1.3.13 (beta) is giving me a little trouble  due to compatibility issues with LAME.


Apps of Interest: Cyberlink PowerDVD 11

Use: Media Player/Blu Ray & DVD player software for Windows PCs
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Current version: 11.0.1719
Website:  http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd/overview_en_US.html?fileName=overview&r=1

PowerDVD 11 main view

It’s been a long time since I used this application. I believe it was PowerDVD. A lot has certainly changed since that release. Tabs are used to separate playback functions (Movie Disc, local video file, audio file, and even photos.) After testing various  formats, it was able to play every single one. One really nice feature is the ability to playback music while also viewing photos/images at the same time, without interruption. Switching from Music to video or movie tabs will automatically stop playback as well. Two features that are still present are the bookmark and screen capture features.

For the Home theater enthusiasts, the player supports DTS Master Audio and Dolby True HD ( of course, you willl need an audio card that supports this.) I’ve been listening to Dolby Headphone and I found it to be a pleasing sound experience when watching  Hollywood films and the like. Video enhancement technologies are also available (Tru Theater.) It can affect brightness , sharpness and motion. Unfortunately, You will not be able to use Graphics hardware acceleration (DXVA w/nVidia Pure Video) at the same time when True Theater technology is enabled.

The software seems to lean more towards the nVidia graphics (with Pure Video, Cuda, and 3D vision support as shown in the  image above.) I’m not really a user of fan of 3D vision or Blu-ray 3D so I can’t really comment on how well it works.

One nice new (to me at least) feature for those with iPhones and Android phones is the ability to use your devices as a “remote control” for PowerDVD. The application can alos link with your youtube account (for viewing favorites and playlists) and Facebook and/or Flickr for your photos.

What I don’t like about the software is the fact that application volume slider synchronizes with the Windows Main volume slider. If you raise the volume in Power DVD, all the other running apps get a volume boost as well.  Not a feature I like when I’m surfing a flash video site like GameTrailers or Youtube. I had hoped that it would only control it’s individual volume slider in the newer OSes (Vista and 7). I found memory usage to be around 200-300 MB of RAM for a local video file and the Installation folder takes up 230 MBs of Hard Drive space.

If you have (or plan to install) a Blu-ray drive on your computer, then I would reccomend you give this app a try.

Additional Info:
Video Screenshot source: Video Game Orchestra's performance

Media Player Classic Home Cinema

Use: Video playback
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Website: http://mpc-hc.sourceforge.net/

Media Player Classic Home Cinema


This is a Video player (that can also play many popular audio file formats) . It is an updated version of the old Microsoft Media Player 6.4 ( for Windows 2000 and XP). Windows Vista and 7 are most definitely supported.  One of the main reasons why I like this app a lot is because of the following
lightweight, portable, and quite straightforward when you just want to view a video file. Even supports screenshots and DirectX Video Acceleration (for h.264, AVC, VC1, MPEG-2). Should you happen to need support for multi-audio/subtitle .MKV files. This can handle it as well. AVI, MP4 (h.264), MKV (h.264), FLV work really well with this app. MPC HC uses less than 30 MBs of HDD space. Users who have multimedia keys/buttons on their keyboard, you can use those if you wish. I’ve tried it on a few different keyboards (Logitech and Microsoft)

The only real negatives I can point out are that it has a really (really) basic playlist feature, and I am having issues  getting subtitles to show on-screen when I enable DXVA (on H.264 encoded videos and DVDs). Everything works fine when DXVA is not turned on.

-Tony


Apps of Interest: Pidgin

Use: Instant Messenger client
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Current Version:2.7.11
Website: http://pidgin.im/

Pidgin Buddy List on Windows Vista

Quoted from Developer’s site:

Pidgin is a chat program which lets you log in to accounts on multiple chat networks simultaneously. This means that you can be chatting with friends on MSN, talking to a friend on Google Talk, and sitting in a Yahoo chat room all at the same time.

Pigdin adding new account

 

As seen in the image above You can add a lot of the popular IM networks: AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk. You can manage each account individually. You want to be logged on to AIM but not Yahoo, you can do that. You want to be logged into both networks at the same time, you can do that too. I only use 3 networks simultaneously and it works fine a majority of the time.

The Conversation window is what you would come to expect

Pidgin conversation window

You can see the name/handle  (and status) of the person you’re talking to. Type your messages into the bottom box. The Upper box is the conversation log. Change font, use smiley icons and even insert links into your message.

Conversation window pull-down menu

If you click on the Conversation menu item, you get access to a lot of options some of the more useful ones would be:

Find – search through your current chat log for words
Send File – Send a file from your computer to the other person
Alias – Change how Pidgin displays your friend’s handle/username

I’ve been using this application for the past few years and would recommend it to anyone who wants/needs to be on multiple IM networks at the same time.

-Tony


Apps of Interest: Peazip

Use: Archive and file manager
Platform: Microsoft Windows, Linux
Current Version: 3.6
Website: http://www.peazip.org/index.html

Main Window, on Microsoft Windows

Quoted from the developer’s site…

PeaZip is a free archiver, available as portable and installable software for Windows and Linux.

Create 7Z, ARC, BZ2, GZ, *PAQ, PEA, QUAD/BALZ, TAR, UPX, ZIP
Extract ACE, ARJ, CAB, DMG, ISO, LHA, RAR, UDF and many more file formats
PeaZip allows to create, convert and extract multiple archives at once…

This is an excellent, free, alternative if you use WinZip . I can certainly see the the Linux influence in the application. Terms like “Computer’s root” and “Halt system when job completes” were the obvious ones I noticed. The app works perfectly fine on the Windows OS. Windows (XP, Vista and 7) does have basic zip support but I prefer having a specialized app like this installed. It only takes up 11 MBs of hard drive space and that’s not so bad. Memory and CPU usage depend on factors such as format, file size.

Creating new archive, options

  • Format options- Pull down menu allows you to choose which archive format you wish to make (.zip, .7z, and the other formats mentioned above)
  • The Pull down menu to the right allows you to split an archive into various “standard” sizes  like CD, DVD, Floppy Disk and a custom size
  • The padlock icon allows you to set a password. This will secure all the files inside the archive. Allows for filename encryption depending  on the format you choose
  • Add each object to a separate archive –  If you selected a few files to add into an archive, this option allows you to make a separate archive for each file
  • Append timestamp to archive name – This will add the date and time to the filename of the created archive(s)

Creating new (Zip) archive, advanced options

I don’t really touch anything in this tab, except for the compression level sometimes. It helps to make the resulting archive smaller in file size. The encryption option seems only have one setting. The strong AES 256-bit. Function will be set to new archive, when creating a new archive, the other two setting are for when you add files to an existing archive. Multi-Core processors are supported (Threads), helps the process finish faster by using as much of your processing power as you want it to.  Note that creating RAR archives is not supported, therefore adding/updating .rar files is not possible. you will see a message similar to screenshot below. You can still read/view/extract  them, so that’s better then no support at all. If you need to create .rar archives then you can download and install the WinRAR trialware.

Creating/Updating .rar files not supported

Password Protecting archive

This is the dialog box that pops up when you hit the padlock icon. Type in the password (twice) and hit OK to apply the setting. Encrypting filenames is supported by some of the archive formats.

Creating new (Zip) archive processing status

This gives you the general idea of what it looks like when the app is creating the archive. Explore will open a window to where the finished archive is being created. Pause is useful if you need the process to wait. (You want the processing power freed up). Stop is the same as Abort/Cancel. You can click the icon on the lower left of the window to set the priority level, as low as idle, to as high as Real Time

Creating new (Zip) archive Processing options

  • Halt system when job completes – If turned on via the checkbox, the computer will shutdown once the archive has been created, updated or extracted. Use it with caution!
  • Open Output path when job completes –  An Explorer window will open to where the file(s) were made when job completes

I usually encounter these archive files  as device driver downloads, portable applications, freeware games, image packs ( avatars and wallpapers). As a free solution, this is a great application.

-Tony