Friday, June 26, 2009

Weekend Project: Scanner Camera

Mod a flatbed scanner to take photos that decontruct time and motion with wild results

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bob Westbrook's Handy Diagram For Stringing A Guitar

Bob Westbrook has done repair work for the C. F. Martin Guitar Co. for years. He is no ordinary luthier. My favorite story about Bob's legendary ability to make guitars is a short one. Bob has told me more than once, "when people found out I work out details to the thousands of an inch, they would laugh. Until they saw my first guitar.
Bob's extensive machining background prepared him to become a master craftsman and work with very tight tolerances. He built his own car which he took to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, and set the land speed record years ago, (I saw his speed tickets verifying this).
I have talked to many people who own guitars Bob has worked on, and he always exceeds expectations, no matter what the case. I have seen guitars that I never thought would be playable again, only to be astonished at the results.
When Bob was my neighbor in Boulder CO, I would occasionally notice guitarists walking in front of my house with a broken instrument. At the time, I didn't realize they were mostly highly experienced guitarists on tour that would carry around a broken guitar until they played Boulder. Then they would walk over to Bob's house and drop it off.
Bob Westbrook is a master luthier and his advice should be taken seriously. Here then, is how Bob suggests you string a guitar so it will not easily go out of tune. I have done this for years and it works.
Thank you Bob!
Bob's business card-back
Bob's workshop
Bob's business card-frontSetup example

GPG GUI - Password Protect Any File

GPG GUI has the sole purpose of password protecting individual files so that they can be opened at a later time.

GPG GUI is a front end for the symmetric passphrase feature of GnuPG. This means that any file, of any size, may be encrypted and protected with a password so that no other user can read the contents of the file. Folders cannot be encrypted or decrypted.
Basic usage for this application would be to get a copy of the file you want to protect, and then opening it with GPG GUI. Once the file is selected, the text entry area would be the place to specify a password the file will be encrypted with. Blank passwords will not work. Selecting "Encrypt" will start the short process that may take time depending on the size of the file. Once the process ends, the directory that the original file is in will have a duplicate protected copy, with the extention .gpg at the end.
I would highly recommend that you check that the protected file will be decrypted by renaming the original and trying out the decrypt action. This will verify that you entered the password correctly. If you delete the original and the password does not work on the encrypted version, you will NOT be able to restore it.
After you have encrypted the file, delete the original if you wish and store the file in a safe place. If you want to share the file with others, you may tell them the password so that they can decrypt the file using GPG GUI or GnuPG.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to Hijack a Browser

Update: When you open it in notepad, it will try to save it as a text file. While it's asking you how to save it, click the drop down and select "All files *.*" and save it as filename "HOSTS". You can also save it as HOSTS on your desktop and drag it into the "etc" folder. Hope this clears up some of the confusion.

Household Prankster! Today we'll show you how to make any website your friend types in on his computer go to a completely different page. Turn Myspace into Facebook, Facebook into, whatever you like. For this demo we'll show you how to convert into a special message your friend must sit through every single time he wants to visit the site. Pretty sneaky!

Note: You can easily remove the website redirect by adding a # in front of each line of text that you add to the hosts file, or you can remove the added lines altogether.

Happy hacking!

How to set up an infinite boot loop

Paste this code: shutdown -s -t 10 -c "Your Message Here"
One of our viewers brought up that -s would simply shut down your PC, and not keep restarting it. To do so, substitute -s for -r and you should be set!
Youtuber ricsto also commented that holding shift after the startup tone in Windows will disable the restart trick, so you don't have to boot in safe mode!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A trio of practical anonymous torrenting options have arrived

It was only a matter of time before the P2P community came up with some workable options for anonymizing our activities. Sure, Tor has been able to do it for quite some time, but torrenting is very taxing on the network and transfers can be painfully slow. Recently, however, three new services have appeared that could provide the privacy protection we've been waiting for.

iPredator VPN - We've known this one was coming for a while. The beta launch date got pushed back quite a bit, but that little courtroom skirmish may have slowed things down a little. In a blog post yesterday, the iPredator team announced that the first 3,000 beta invites have been sent out. If you're in the queue, don't start drooling just yet. There are 179,999 others names lined up.

Furk (pictured)
- Find a torrent, paste it into Furk, and you're provided a direct download link. Even with the free account, I still averaged about 275k/s, which isn't much slower than what I typically manage on a straight torrent download (thanks to my ISP). Download links are also passed to you with SSL encryption. Just don't use it to download stuff like what's in the capture - it's there for illustration purposes only, of course...

Paid accounts are just under 10 Euros a month or 24/three months.

- Jay posted about this service the other day. The open source project aims to anonymize not only torrent downloads but also your web browsing. How does it work? Think of your Internet traffic as the fruit in a smoothie. Now take all your friends' fruit, chuck it all into a blender, and press 'liquify'. Pour it into a glass, and all you see is smoothie - you can't tell what's your fruit and what belongs to your friends.

As with iPredator you may be waiting a while to get your invite and download link.

How to Play and/or Edit XFire Videos

No suitable decoder module:
VLC does not support the audio or video format "XFR1". Unfortunately there is no way for you to fix this.
     Did you see this message when trying to play AVI videos taken with XFire? VLC says there is no way for me to fix it. I say, there is always a way. But at least VLC said something meaningful before challenging me with a problem. The keyword is XFR1. XFR1 is XFire's custom codec, which is too unpopular to be included in VLC.
I'll show you two ways to play and/or edit these XFR1 coded avi files.
1. XFEncoder: 
     This is an encoder that is bundled with XFire installation. You can find it at the folder where you installed XFire. For me it is "C:\Program Files\Xfire\xfencoder.exe". XFEncoder has a simple and intuitive interface, while being faster than many other encoders I have seen in the past.
     This software can both preview and edit XFR1 coded AVI files. But I recommend you encode the XFR1 videos with this software to some format that you can play later with VLC or similar media players. You can download it here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bitlet Launches BitTorrent Video Streaming

Bitlet, the first web-based BitTorrent client, is known for its innovative services and ease of use. Bitlet’s latest new feature allows users to stream video torrents directly in a web-browser - no additional software required.
In 2007 BitLet launched a web-based Java applet which allows users to download .torrent files without having a BitTorrent client installed. For this innovation Bitlet received a nomination for the Webware 100 Awards where the hobby project competed with companies backed by millions of dollars.
Although they didn’t win the award, the evolution of Bitlet continued steadily. After its introduction it added features such as music streaming (currently utilized by mininova) and the ‘bookmarklet‘ which allows users to inject a direct download link into torrent search engines. Today Bitlet adds video streaming to this list, another long awaited addition.
The experimental video streaming feature allows users to stream video using BitTorrent and watch the file, even as it’s still downloading. The first release only supports videos in the Ogg format, but developer Daniele Castagna told TorrentFreak that he might extend this list, depending on how much time he can spend on the project.
In order to make Bitlet work with streaming video a few modifications had to be made, but its still good old BitTorrent technology under the hood. Daniele has put up a few example videos on the site and below them are instructions on how to stream your own files using Bitlet.
There are a few important conditions to fulfill in order to achieve an optimal streaming experience. Of primary importance is the need for sufficient seeds and peers to guarantee a decent download speed. Besides this, the playback time will depend on the quality of the video - the higher the quality, the more bandwidth is needed.
The streaming feature seems to be working well, and it’s actually the first live example of BitTorrent video streaming which doesn’t require the installation of any obscure third party applications. The only thing needed is an up-to-date version of Java, which most people already have installed.
Although current bandwidth prices are dropping, most video services such as YouTube are paying millions of dollars for traditional server side streaming. Especially high quality video is costly to stream, and peer-to-peer technology can certainly make a huge difference there.
Streaming video torrents with Bitlet.
bitlet video streaming

BitBlinder: free, anonymous torrenting may be a reality

There are a few widely-accepted ways to anonymize your browsing or torrent activity, but they all have their drawbacks. TOR is free, but it's poor etiquette to use it for torrents and put a strain on the bandwidth of the nice folks who run TOR servers. Not to mention that it's incredibly, stupefyingly slow. You could get a VPN, but that'll cost you. So, what's the solution to making your torrents free and anonymous, without a huge drag on your transfer speeds? A new open source project called BitBlinder might be the ticket.

BitBlinder is sort of like a private tracker for your anonymous data. A private tracker requires you to upload a certain percentage of data compared to what you download, in order to keep using it. BitBlinder works the same way, requiring each person on the network to anonymize a certain amount of data for others in order to have their own data anonymized for free. To keep your IP address safe, it's passed through several peers before it reaches your target website, but each computer only receives the address of the next peer in the chain, not the address the request is coming from. That way, you don't know who anyone else is, and nobody else knows who you are, which makes it difficult for anyone to track what each person on the network is doing.

BitBlinder isn't just good for torrents, though. It can also be used to hide your browsing activity and get around blocked sites at work or school. BitBlinder comes with an anonymous browser, built on Firefox. It's worth noting that BitBlinder will be a bit slower than browsing without anonymity, but still faster than TOR. It's planned as a cross-platform project, but the Mac version isn't ready quite yet. Registration is required, and there are currently a limited number of slots available.

Download royalty-free sounds from Sound Jay

screenshot of Sound Jay

Multimedia. The very term requires that more than one medium be involved. Pretty pictures? Not multimedia. Silent movie? Not multimedia. If you're going to do multimedia, often that means that you're going to include sound with your visual content. But unless you've got your own recording studio or a big library of sounds, you may be out of luck.

Sound Jay offers a bunch of royalty-free sounds that you are free to use on your website or in your project. You can pick from mechanical sounds like cars and tools, electronic sounds like phones and appliances, human sounds like footsteps, and even some music tracks. Most are available as WAV files or as MP3 downloads.

You're free to use the sounds however you like, provided you don't just sell them or claim them as your own. And it might be nice to credit the site for any that you do use.

Sound Jay is a free online service. You should be able to get there and download their sound files using any modern web browser.

Download Sound Jay

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

uTorrent IPFilter Updater v1.5.6 [BINARY INSPIRATIONS]

uTorrent IPFilter Updater (uTIPF) v1.5.6
June 08, 2009

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I don't blame you for thinking that there's enough IP filter "updater" programs out there. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the existing tools are outdated, bloated, poorly written, and hard to use.

uTIPF changes all that - it's a quality Python-based program that includes intelligent logic to see if you're already up-to-date, preventing unnecessary downloads that are characteristic of less sophisticated tools. It's powered by the highly-regarded blocklists at, and can target both the "normal" and "paranoid" list versions.

uTIPF is designed for all recent Windows platforms, including Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and 7, both 32 and 64 bit. The author anticipates providing maintenance and support releases for this program indefinitely.

You will need the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 SP1 Redistributable Package. If you don't already have it, get it at

Monday, June 08, 2009

Wordnik: don't call it a dictionary

Wordnik is a bit like a dictionary, in the sense that it collects words and their definitions, but it aspires to be more than that. Users contribute example sentences, audio pronunciations, images from Flickr and more, so you can really get a good idea of how and when a word is used. There's also a thesaurus-plus "related words" feature, which shows not only synonyms and antonyms, but other words that are used in a similar context.

Wordnik isn't exactly Wiktionary, but it does accept user contributions of just about anything you can think of about a word. The combination of images, audio and contextual clues would also seem to make it a better dictionary than most for non-english speakers, and its library contains a weighty 1.7 million words. Since it's laid out better than most dictionary sites, and also incorporates definitions from some of the better ones, it wouldn't be a bad move to replace your current favorite online dictionary with Wordnik.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

40+ awesome free Windows apps you can download in 2 seconds

Depending on your internet connection you might be able to download a lot more (or a lot less) than 1Mb in two seconds - but calling this a post about apps under a meg just isn't quite as much fun!

No, you don't really need to pay too much attention to an application's hard drive footprint any more. After all, when you can buy a 1.5Tb drive for less than $150US, what difference does a few megs here or there make?

On the other hand, it's amazing to see what some developers are able to accomplish with a very small amount of code.

There are a ton of great, free applications that have been created in less than 1Mb - I didn't fully realize just how many until I started putting this list together. This is by no means a complete list, so if your favorite got overlooked make sure to share it in the comments!

Desktop/Shell Enhancements

Launchy (408Kb) - Hotkeys FTW! Launchy does more than hotkeys, of course, but even if you add a bucketload of plugins it's still under 1Mb.

Open++ (114Kb) - Helps you tweak your context menu six ways from Sunday. Pair it with another app like NirCmd for a nice one-two punch.

ViGlance (198Kb) - Want Windows 7's iconized taskbar in XP or Vista? ViGlance pulls it off in just under 200Kb. It also swaps the start button for the orb (on XP, of course) and does program grouping and pop-up window lists.

VirtuaWin (385Kb) - Most Linux distributions enable multiple virtual desktops by default. Windows doesn't support them out of the box - so you'll need an app like VirtuaWin. It's a good way to keep your workspace organized.

XNeat (797Kb) - No need to bother with separate apps to shuffle your taskbar icons, roll up windows, or add transparency. XNeat does it all in a single, tiny package. Also allows you to hide windows, minimize to tray, create keyboard shortcuts, and a whole lot more.


DiskCryptor (740Kb) - One thing TrueCrypt can do that OmZiff can't is encrypt volumes. DiskCryptor can do it, too, and it's well under the 1Mb mark

LockNote (320Kb) - If the only thing you really want to encrypt are some private thoughts and notes, Steganos' GPL LockNote is a good choice.

OmZiff (408Kb) - Protecting sensitive data with encryption is never a bad idea. While OmZiff doesn't have the massive featureset of TrueCrypt, it's one-tenth the size and provides all the essential functions and includes a file shredder and password generator.

File Tools

7-Zip (919Kb) - Sure, 7-zip's main application window is ugly, but who uses it? All the archiving and extracting power you need is just a right-click away.

Everything (334Kb) - A great desktop search tool, Everything indexes your drive contents quicky and supports find-as-you-type. There's a portable version available as well, and it's even smaller.

FastCopy (194Kb) - Both FastCopy and TeraCopy are great, free apps that make copying and moving large amounts of data easier. For me, FastCopy wins because it's free for commercial use, Open Source, and about one quarter the size of TeraCopy.

Fling (230Kb) - Those cheap hard drives make an excellent place to back up and archive your files. Fling not only handles drive-to-drive sync, but it also plays well with FTP servers and USB flash drives. It's one of my favorite discoveries this year.

QDir (439Kb) - If you can get used to the multi-pane crazines, QDir is an awesome tool for manually managing your files and folders.

Space Sniffer (863Kb) - CCleaner does a great job of removing crap from your system, but sometimes you need to dig a little deeper. Space Sniffer helps you locate unwanted space hogs graphically.

Suction (180Kb) - One great way to keep mess to a minimum on your system is to consolidate similar directories - that's exactly what Suction does. It's portable, too!

WinCD Emu (783Kb) - Daemon Tools and Virtual CloneDrive are more well-known programs for mounting ISO images as virtual optical drives in Windows, but WinCD Emu provides almost the same functionality in a smaller package. It handles ISO, IMG, CUE, BIN, and RAW files.

Internet and Networking

Ammyy Admin (548Kb) - While it lacks TeamViewer's speed and bonus features, Ammyy still provides firewall-friendly remote control. There are no ports to open, and if trust is an issue you can run your own Ammyy router (85Kb) instead of using theirs.

GMail Notifier Plus (985Kb) - With kicked-up support for Windows 7's jumplists, this is a useful, sexy helper app for anyone with a GMail account.

Hamachi (989Kb) - Even though it's about 50% bigger than it used to be, Hamachi is still pretty dang small - and very useful. Its zero-config VPN makes remote access to your systems a breeze.

HydraIRC (949Kb) - The installer pushes HydraIRC over 1MB, but the portable version squeaks in under the wire. Features a tabbed interface, skin support, DCC chat and transfers, channel monitoring, and loads more.

iFTP (838Kb) - I love the second line from the developer's site: " I originally wrote i.Ftp to be the first freeware graphical client for BeOS, but someone beat me to it by a few days and well nobody notices who comes 2nd." That might be true, but he still put together a very capable FTP client with SFTP support.

NewsSifter (262Kb) - An intelligent RSS feed reader that analyzes new items based on content and sorts them into categories that you create.

Putty (444Kb) - Classic SSH/terminal client. 'Nuf said.

uTorrent (270Kb) - I've been using uTorrent as long as I've been downloading torrent files. It's got all the features I need in a client (and more) and it's well under the 1Mb mark even if you add the WebUI zip file. Sure, there are other options, but uTorrent takes it easy on my system resources and just gets the job done.

Wakoopa (309Kb) - A fun (and informative) social app, Wakoopa tracks your application usage and lets you see what programs other users are running. It's a great way to discover apps you may not have tried before.


Evil Player (537Kb) - A lightweight, minimal audio player, Evil Player support all the major formats and streams Icecast and Shoutcast (which can be recorded as well).

Fotografix (370Kb) - This little gem has generated quite a bit of buzz since I first wrote it up. It's an excellent lightweight Photoshop alternative, with features like layers, masks, filters, scripts, and editable type. If the developer's site is down, grab the file from Rapidspread.

Greenshot (160Kb) - An open source screen capture tool, Greenshot supports full screen, window, and selection captures, saving to multiple image formats, and annotations. Both a portable version and installer (404Kb) are available.

iDump (197Kb) - Need a free, portable app to backup the contents of an iPod? iDump is a good tool for the job, and it downloads in a flash - even on dial-up.

NCH Express Burn (390Kb) - ImgBurn is my default Windows burning application, but Express Burn sports a lot of the same features and packs them into a much smaller package.

VideoCacheView (65Kb) - It's hard to pick a single NirSoft app to list, because so many of Nir's utilities are under 1Mb and they're all handy. This one scours your browsers' cache files for FLVs and SWFs and allows you to save them for offline viewing.

Office and Productivity

ArsClip (986Kb) - A better clipboard manager with tons of configuration options and features. It's packaged as a zip and totally portable.

CintaNotes (365Kb) - drop it on your Flash drive, and CintaNotes provides an excellent way to collect snippets, links, and any other text data. It supports tagging and search-as-you-type.

Converber (253Kb) - Its unit-conversion super powers are tought to beat. You might not use Converber often, but it's small enough to keep around just in case.

KA TypeIn (920Kb) - A fantastic little app that lets you easily create and reuse text snippets. You can get advanced with it as well since it supports variables. Also does autocompletion.

List² (32kb) - You certainly don't need Excel to create very basic spreadsheet-style lists. This app is more than capable, and it takes up about as much space on your drive as the first page of Excel's help file.

NCS Personal Finance (424Kb) - A nice, simple program to create and track your household budget. Supports multiple budgets as well, so you can use it to keep tabs on the whole family on an individual basis.

TinyPDF (586Kb) - Just north of half a meg, and able to create good quality PDFs from any application via file > print. No longer freeware, but you can grab the last free installer from Freeware Files.

TinySpell (590kb) - Not all our favorite apps include a spellchecker. TinySpell fills the gaps and boasts a 110,00 word dictionary.

WinWorkBar (593Kb) - A productivity-boosting calendar and todo list / GTD application rolled into a sidebar (that can be set to autohide).

Utilities and Maintenance

CCleaner (979Kb) - One of the best file and registry cleanup tools around, and the portable version still still weighs in under 1Mb.

FileHippo Update Checker (154Kb) - FileHippo is a great place to download popular free applications. It's not cluttered with deceptive ads and the site is well-organized. The Updater is a smart way to keep your installers up-to-date.

HijackThis (793Kb) - A must-have for malware cleanup. I don't recommend HJT to casual users, but if you're a DIY-er with a good idea what should and shouldn't be in your registry, it belongs in your toolkit.

Magical Jellybean Keyfinder (367Kb) - Before you reformat your system it's a good idea to back up the product keys for your installed programs. Jellybean is a free, Open Source app that quickly digs up your keys and saves them to a TXT or CSV file.

NirCmd (86Kb) - I tried, but deep down I knew I couldn't get through this list without a second NirSoft app. NirCmd packs a ton of command-line Kung Fu in a single download.

Process Lasso (544Kb) - Gives you better control over the processes running on your system. If you're typically using loads of applications at once, Process Lasso can help keep your system running smoothly. Tweak things manually, or let ProBalance do the work for you.

UltraDefrag (374Kb) - A good defrag tool helps keep your hard drive running like clockwork. Under half a meg and open source, UltraDefrag even comes in 64-bit flavors and there's a micro build (as if 374Kb wasn't small enough already).

Unlocker (252Kb) - I hate trying to delete a file only to have Windows notify me that I can't because the file is in use. Unlocker provides a simple remedy to that problem.

Test your site's load time with Webslug

There are a lot of ways to measure how quickly your site loads, but most of them aren't going to be reflective of how your users perceive your load time. Webslug is a tool that attempts to give you a read on the load time from request to fully-loaded. You can put in one URL or compare two URLs in a head-to-head battle.

It's nice to see a web-based tool to measure this stuff, no downloads required. I'm not sure how useful Webslug's data is, compared to the data you might get from other testing methods. There are aggregated numbers for different browsers and OS's, but those leaderboards might not mean much on their own. If you test Webslug, let us know whether you find it useful in the comments.

Bloodshed Dev-C++ : Full-featured Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for the C/C++

Bloodshed Dev-C++ is a full-featured Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for the C/C++ programming language. It uses Mingw port of GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) as its compiler. It creates native Win32 executables, either console or GUI. Dev-C++ can also be used in combination with Cygwin.

Dev-C++ is Free Software (also referred as
Open Source), and is written in Delphi (yes I know the irony).

Another Dev-C++ screenshot

Feature list

  • Support GCC-based compilers
  • Integrated debugging (using GDB)
  • Support for multiple languages (localization)
  • Class Browser
  • Code Completion
  • Debug variable Browser
  • Project Manager
  • Customizable syntax highlighting editor
  • Quickly create Windows, console, static libraries and DLLs
  • Support of templates for creating your own project types
  • Makefile creation
  • Edit and compile Resource files
  • Tool Manager
  • Print support
  • Find and replace facilities
  • Package manager, for easy installation of add-on libraries
  • CVS Support
  • To-Do List
  • CPU Window