Posts tagged reviews

Stixy, free-form collaboration and online sharing service

Stixy provides a new free-form approach to collaborate most of the day to date contents online with your friends, colleagues and family. Along with collaboration Stixy also provides online file sharing.


Stixy logoStixy provides a new free-form approach to collaborate most of the day to date contents online with your friends, colleagues and family. Along with collaboration Stixy also provides online file sharing.

Stixy is an online bulletin board application that features Stixyboard, a free-form drag ‘n drop bulletin board. Stixyboard is highly flexible and shareable web bulletin boards. You can invite more users to collaborate on your Stixyboard.

Stixyboard can be effectively used for multipurpose like creating a to-do list, planner, calendar, sharing photo album, sharing files and notes. These boards created can be utilized for individual or group purpose.

Stixyboard Screen shot

Stixyboard Screenshot

Key Advantages

  • Easy to use, this application can be operated easily by any level of computer user.
  • Very rich GUI, the user interface is really amazing.
  • Stixyboard can be either private or public (with or w/o authentication)
  • There is no limitation of Stixyboard currently that means you can share huge volume of files with your friends. They have only 10 MB per file limit on files.

Setbacks

  • No full screen support. For any rich Internet application full screen mode is required for desktop like operation.
  • Question on scalability: I’m sure they much have designed the application with scalability in mind but there was a little question during my test initially. The application didn’t respond and lost data when I was trying to collaborate a Stixyboard from two different systems at the same time.

Improvements

Stixy would have a huge success if they can create a rich application for everyone’s daily use. I inferred following points would add more values to the Stixy, which is currently in beta.

  • Stixy can support more content types including video and music.
  • Stixy need to have a web-based drop zone to drop the files that need to be added to the Stixyboard.
  • Stixy would need a preview tool for viewing documents, playing music and videos etc. Just for the shake of previewing a Stixyboard I won’t prefer to download the entire content to my local.
  • Stixy need to collaborate with other online services to create more sophisticated and rich application. My personal favorite would be adding Picnik for image editing.
  • Stixy also need to syndicate the Stixyboard update so that users can keep track of their related Stixyboard.

Bottom-line, Stixy is currently in beta; I expect more functionality to be added to Stixy in near future to make it rich Internet application.

Have you tried Stixy? If so what is your feedback?

Recover deleted files with Handy Recovery™

Handy Recovery is data recovery tool created by SoftLogica for recovering lost or deleted files under Windows platform. Handy Recovery comes in with nifty features for recovery and proves it is a worthy choice for data recovery.

Handy Recovery LogoHave you ever bothered to backup files? If not then Handy Recovery is a handy tool for you that helps you to recover accidentally deleted files. However, I personally encourage everyone to backup their important and sensitive data in timely manner.

There are plenty of tools available both freeware and commercial when it comes to file recovery. Handy Recovery stands out from most the rest just for ease of use. Earlier, file recovery can be done only by a computer expert. This has been proven wrong again by Handy Recovery, allowing any novice user to restore their files safely.

Handy Recovery Screenshot

Key Features

  • Support most of the Windows file system
  • Very extensive scanning for deleted files
  • Ability to create disk image for recovery
  • Search option for deleted files
  • Explorer style interface for ease navigation
  • Preview for recoverable items
  • Supports recovery from memory cards

Handy Recovery works great for most of the file recovery. Handy Recovery also provides you the probability of recovering data. In addition to cool features, Handy Recovery has also got Windows VISTA certified logo for its reliability.

Setbacks

Here are few drawbacks which I have observed so far with Handy Recovery.

  • No support for Linux partitions
  • Not a free ware

Bottom line, Handy Recovery would have been more attractive if it was provided as freeware. Handy Recovery is priced in the higher side and it costs 39$. But if you’re the one looking for an easy way to recover your deleted files go for Handy Recovery.

If you like to try Handy Recovery, you can download the trial version from their download page. The trial has limitation of one recovery per day; sometimes good things doesn’t comes for free 

Have anyone tried anything similar to Handy Recovery for file recovery? Share your views.

This is a sponsored post.

ByteSwap, organize and share your bytes easily

ByteSwap is very new online service that allows people to organize the information they wanted and let them share across their friends and ByteSwap community. ByteSwap is newest approach for a tradition concept.

ByteSwap ByteSwap very new of its breed and is been released couple of days back. I’m very pleased to try out the service they provide. ByteSwap is unique by this way, they allow you to organize / store and share your content. ByteSwap can be your personal storage medium and bookmaking tool at the same time.

ByteSwap allows you to add any content that you would like to organize. ByteSwap allows you to manage Contacts, Photo, File, Link, and Article Reference. ByteSwap also says yes for your favorite recipe or if you have silly things to organize or share using Free form text note option. Founder Matt Brown tells, “Think of ByteSwap as a virtual file cabinet or a personal search engine”.

ByteSwap Screenshot

ByteSwap also has an option to build an online community around like-minded people using ByteSwap Groups. Groups allow you to share your content across other people. Also you can add your friends / colleagues as you connection. The community suggestion feature would recommend the relevant content for logged in users using their interested topics.

ByteSwap also has a powerful search feature that allows you to search across the personal and community content. It redefines the way to search and would find you most relevant information from your friends and public. ByteSwap also features traditional folder structure to organize content for easy access.

Finally, ByteSwap is FREE for limited usage and has a premium account for heavy users.

Suggestion / Feature Enhancement

ByteSwap team has really put the their efforts on their new service. But as always I say “there is always room for improvement”. ByteSwap team is very keen in listening to feedbacks. Here goes my suggestion and feature request that I would like to see from ByteSwap.

Social Elements
Social element is a key factor when it comes to online community building. ByteSwap has to capitalize on this as well. The ByteSwap community would like to know more information about the user who is sharing the information to the community. ByteSwap can improvise this by adding user profile, user picture, user feeds etc. ByteSwap can introduce Social button would enable add link directly from any blog. This would help them build an authentic community around ByteSwap.

Preview Option
BtyeSwap can provide preview on items that has been added / shared across the community. They might include but not limited to picture, video, text or a link. This is good at usability standpoint and users would love it so as me.

User Interface
The user interface adds value to any online system and this is more emphasized in web2.0 era. ByteSwap is easy to navigate around but might be missing sophisticated features.

Browser Add-on
Most of the communities are success today with a browser add-on. ByteSwap can also come with a browser add-on that would enable user to share contents and get community suggestions.

Widget Support
ByteSwap can allow users to create a widget around their public content. This would enable the ByteSwap users to share across their blogs. This would add more meaning to social content.

Conclusion

ByteSwap would let you easily organize your content anything (I love the recipe item) more effectively. Also their search enables the users to find the information more relevant to them. Bottom-line, ByteSwap has lot of areas to improve and if they do they would be unique and best of all.

Have you ever tried any similar service like ByteSwap? Try ByteSwap and share your thought.

This is a sponsored post.

VLC Media Player, play everything anywhere

VLC media player is a free cross-platform media player for various audio and video formats available today. VLC media player support streaming protocols and also can be a streaming sever with Ipv6 support. VLC comes with built-in support for most of the video and audio codec as well. In other terms, VLC media player can play any format, play any codec, play any media and stream any protocol from any platform (Windows, MAC, Linux)

VLC Media PlayerI discovered VLC media player few years back when I was researching for an alternative player to play my media file that refused to play in most popular players. VLC Media Player alone helped me that situation. I didn’t have to install any extra codec to play the media file. I believe everyone here might have already discovered VLC player. If not, make sure you give a try today. VLC Media player can be downloaded from VideoLAN VLC Homepage.

Another main feature I love with VLC player is the ability to play any broken media file (say partially downloaded file). I use this feature to preview the media before downloading the entire content and save my effort 🙂

Few Interesting Facts about VLC Media Player

Here are few interesting facts I found about VLC Media Player.

  • VLC (VideoLAN Client) was initially client for Video LAN project; Later they combined both server and client into VLC media player.
  • Google’s Video search uses browser plugin based on VLC player.
  • Democracy Player, an Internet player uses VLC media player as a back-end on Windows
  • The code name of VLC Media player is based on character name from the movie golden eye
  • There are bunch of project that uses VLC; see complete list here.
  • VideoLAN enhancement projects are featured in Google Code.

VLC Media Player Screenshot

Key Features

  • Play Anything – As said this is the main feature of this player you can play whatever you want. Be it any format or any codec no bar; they got to play in VLC. They have ability to read disk images (iso) and play directly.
  • Simple – It can be used by any novice without any hitch.
  • Network Streaming – It can stream internet video over HTTP, UTP protocol more over it support IPv6.
  • Steaming Server – you can broadcast video using unicast or mutlicast in high bandwidth network.
  • Equalizer -VLC has an equalizer for both audio and image.
  • Filters -VLC comes in with dozens of audio and video filter that you can apply to alter the output.
  • Skins – This is not much attractive, but yes you can change the default skins.
  • Portability – This works with all operating system, which include Windows, MAC, Linux, BEOS, Win CE. etc. The latest version is compatible with Windows VISTA as well.

Possible Improvements

I have couple of suggestions probably here for VLC Player. VLC also doesn’t have support for real format, which they can add in feature version.

1. Interface
Sadly, this needs some serious attention. They have easy to use interface though their interface and not that attractive. They have skin support but it is not effective too.

2. Playlist
VLC provides you the ability to manage your play list. I think that can be improved a bit to allow option to effectively manage and have some tagging and rating features. Also the play list is not integrated well with the main area.

3. Real Format support
Unfortunately, VLC player doesn’t have support to Real format till now. It would be great if they add support to them as well. Thanks to CyBer$|x for pointing this out.

Other than this I really don’t see much on improvement track. VLC almost rocks already!

Bottom line, VLC Media Player might not be my favorite media player but I use it really extensively.

Have you tried VLC? Share your experience with VLC.

Update : Haris has compiled a list of best skins for VLC player. Deepak has his own list of beautiful skins.

Vayama, international air travel ticket search 2.0

Vayama is a new air travel ticket search service. Vayama has few strong plus points when compared with other players. First, it focuses mainly on international travel unlike other domestic players. Second, it is build based on Web 2.0; the UI is amazing and is socially powered with travel tips.


VayamaAre you planning to travel overseas for business or personal reason? A new startup Vayama is here to offer you the best solution. Vayama is unique of it kind, which offers Americans to travel overseas with anease. International travelers always find it hard to find and book their air ticket. Vayama offer them help with robust international travel ticket search feature.

Vayama is backed by one of the largest travel organization in the world, BCD Holding. Vayama comes into industry with lot of experience and resource. Vayama also acts as travel agent to find good deals.

The first thing you notice about Vayama is the user interface. It has bought rich user experience with much friendly interface. Microsoft Virtual Earth powers the maps with touch and go feature. The touch and go feature makes the entry of airports much easier. You can click on the map and locate the airport. Alternatively for regular users, they can enter the three digit Airport code or start entering the first thee digits and select the applicable one from the list box.

Once you enter the departure / arrival airport and their corresponding dates, click on search to locate your travel itinerary. Vayama will search for thousands of public and private fare and finds the best deal for you. It will show you the route map for the currently available best deal. You can filter you results based on the stops, trip time, price, connection point, and airline.
Vayama Search Sceen
Based on the selection it will give you the itinerary for the travel with brief price information. Once you’re ready to reserve the ticket it pops you out with a 3D interface for seat selection. You have provision to book hotel and car also.

Apart from this Vayama has cool interface for getting around particular place. This feature would really help the new travelers. In that section you will find most basic information about the city, transportation, attractions and finally it does socialize with the blog on about those cities. Overall it will act as a good live travel guide!

Bottom line, Vayama helps American overseas travelers to an extent but it is yet to support ticketing for other nations, which I would say is the major drawback considering international audience. Vayama has the potential to take its crowd international along with international search it offers now

IrfanView – the best lightweight image editor / viewer

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IrfanView is a fast and compact image editor cum viewer of all time. It is best for use of beginners to professionals. IrfanView supports almost every image format available; moreover plugins are available to enhance the support. IrfanView is well suited for single image editing tool to multi batch image processing.

IrfanView - the best lightweight picture editor If you’re working with images and computers for sometime you must have explored about this tool long back before. It is the cool tool for image editing for all ages right from Windows 9x to VISTA. Now we have a great news as well; latest version of IrfanView 4.-0 has been released. You can download the installation file right here. This release is little bulkier than all its previous release I believe. The size of the IrfanView installer is 1.10 MB (first time reaching Megabytes). This may be because of the improved Vista compatibility in the new release.

IrfanView is written by Irfan Skiljan, a graduate student of Vienna University of Technology. This compact software is completely free for non-commercial use. The development is supported by donation; feel free to donate towards this. IrfanView is especially useful when working with digital photos and their retouching. My top use of IrfanView is to watermark and resize my entire digital collection; so it is ready for Web.

Features Glimpse

  • Many supported file formats ( almost every image format)
  • Multi-language support
  • Thumbnail / Preview option
  • Slideshow (Save as EXE / SCR)
  • Fast directory browsing
  • Batch conversion / editing
  • Multipage editing
  • File search
  • Email Option
  • Multimedia Playe (plays popular video)
  • Change color depth
  • Scan Support
  • Cut/Crop
  • IPTC editing
  • Capturing
  • Lossless JPG operations
  • Effects (sharpen, blur, Adobe Photoshop filters)
  • Extracts icons from EXE/DLL
  • Lot of shortcut keys for ease of use
  • Command line options for experts
  • Customized plugins

Edward de Leau lists the 10 ways of using IrfanView. He writes clearly about how IrfanView can help in day to day image processing needs. Here is the quick summary on how IrfanView can be used,

  1. To take Screenshots
  2. To preview, sort, rotate albums
  3. To resize image
  4. To create thumbnails for online photo album
  5. To scan image
  6. To watermark my photographs
  7. To preform batch processing
  8. To apply effects / filters
  9. To set Windows wallpaper
  10. To do lot more with the image

Update:- Pallab has written a Ten Things you can do with Irfanview with more explanation.

IrfanView has been around for many years and keeps getting better. It might still require lot of improvement towards the UI. Hope it gets better too.

IrfanView is my favorite when it comes to basic image editing / viewing. If you never tried it before give a try today. Visit their homepage.

Sony VAIO VGN-SZ440 Laptop Reviewed

Sony VAIO VGN-SZ440 is a 13.3” in TFT, ultra portable, lightweight and powerful performance notebook. VAIO SZ440 is economy class of Sony’s ultra portable SZ series.

Sony VAIO SZ Bottom line, SZ440 is my brand new laptop; the runner-ups were Lenovo ThinkPad T60, HP Pavilion dv2000t and Dell XPS M1210. Also Apple’s MacBook impressed me lightly which I did include in the selection list at the last minute.

I should have posted about this some time back but I couldn’t make it. It’s been a couple of week time since I have received my laptop. I was really glad with Sony Style they just took a week time to get the laptop delivered.

Here are the most important key features of Sony SZ440 as published

Portability

Portability is granted for sure factor when it comes to the ultra portable SZ series. The notebook comes with razor thin 13.3” LCD widescreen display and has on the go wireless connectivity option too. The notebook weights somewhere around 4 lbs which relatively lighter and handy to carry around even for a frequent travelers. It has optional WAN connectivity too. The long battery life for the SZ series enhanced the portable feature much further.

Design

Sony is popular for sleek and stylish design; this is pretty much applicable for their laptop VAIO series too. Sony VAIO SZ440 is the economy edition of SZ series, which comes with magnesium fiber coating. The aluminum finish over the palm rest makes it durable and more elegant too. The premium SZ480 really did rock for Carbon casing but with additional 200 USD charge in it; that didn’t make me happy.

I have to really tell about the Keyboard design. The Keyboard is much comfortable compared with other portable models available and I have used. The Keyboard is designed for 3 mm stroke for ease of use. I am very positive about the Notebook’s Touchpad as well. The Notebook display comes with XBRITE LCD technology that has more realistic colors.

Entertainment

Wow! The sound quality rocks. Sony’s Sound quality can’t be compromised on anything. Sony’s original Sound Reality technology delivers incredibly high-quality, rich and full sound. But the Notebook speakers are not powered much though.

The Notebook comes with built-in Camera and Microphone. So it comes in handy for Video / Voice Conference. The wide screen is most suitable for watching movies and others in the fly. Also it come with DVD writer so to create movies on the go.

Performance

Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz Processor is the first dual core processor designed exclusively for mobile notebooks. The dual core technology results in reduction of power consumption. The high capacity 2 GB DDR RAM can handle heavy memory load. The Intel’s Chipset has the fast frond side bus speed that helps in experiencing high performance.

Sony’s revolutionary Hybrid Graphic System lets you set your graphics performance. A simple switch enables you to toggle between an internal graphics chip (Intel’s chipset) for optimal power consumption with excellent performance and an external graphics chip (GeForce 7400) for even more robust performance, for unmatched control of your time and output.

Security

The Sony VAIO has highly bundled security features. Fingerprint biometrics is a convenient and secure way to protect your computer and the information on it with a simple swipe of your finger. It also stores passwords to secure web sites you visit, so authentication and access are quick and easy – you only need your fingerprint. No more typing passwords: =) even my windows logon authentication is powered by Fingerprint!!

Password protection at the hard disk level can prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data, applications, and network architecture. HDD Password Protection encrypts and protects disks, partitions, and removable data from unauthorized use or alteration. With Sony SZ440 you need not spend extra bucks for security.

G-Sensor Shock Protection makes your data even less vulnerable to loss or damage. When the built-in 3D acceleration sensor detects a risky movement like being dropped, the HDD-head will lock up to secure its position and protect the disc from scratching. You don’t lose your valuable data that easily.

Connectivity

Integrated Bluetooth Technology provides effortless communication with Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as PDAs and wireless headsets, mobile, without the need for additional hardware or software. VAIO comes with the support for connecting with a dock or port replicator. Smart Display Sensor makes connecting to a compatible external projector or display easy.

SZ Series notebooks support Memory Stick Duo media, Sony’s high-capacity removable flash memory. This gives me good option for me for having ReadyBoost enabled under Windows Vista. The package some with a 6-in-1 multi-card reader, you can access all industry-standard storage cards for ultimate convenience and multi-purpose use.
The Notebook comes with i.Link (IEEE 1394) support that lets me allow connecting to most of the digital systems. Also it has Modem and Ethernet ports for network connectivity.

Complete Specification

Here is the complete specification of my SZ-440 configuration.

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7200 (2GHz) 4MB Cache, 667 MHz FSB
  • 2 GB DDR-SDRAM (DDR2-533, 1 GBx2)
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 80 GB Hard Disk Drive
  • 13.3″ WXGA Display With XBRITE™ Technology
  • nvidia GeForce Go 7400 Graphics card
  • Wireless LAN (802.11 a\b\g) with Bluetooth
  • DVD RW Writer
  • Built-in Motion EYE Camera and Microphone
  • Integrated Biometric Fingerprint Sensor
  • Standard Capacity Lithium-ion Battery (BPS2C)
  • Sony VGPAC19V10 VAIO® AC Adapter
  • Intel 945GM Express Chipset
  • G-Sensor Shock Protection for HDD
  • Built-in Memory Stick Duo™ Storage Media
  • 6-in-1 Multi-Card Reader

Sony VAIO SZ440

Why not the runner-ups?

Lenovo ThinkPad T60

Everything was prefect for what I was looking, but it wouldn’t make it up in the finals since it didn’t have a the style which Sony had. Otherwise I would rate this as top runner up.

Apple MacBook

The Intel version MacBook attracted much and it did have a equivalent style. I feel it did had little more higher style compared with Sony. Everything was fine with me except the Operating system which I was not familiar of. May give a try to this later point of time once I get comfortable with the Mac OS.

HP Pavillion dv2000t

This is a purely meant entertainment piece and also didn’t have much higher cost associated with it. I didn’t like the casing for HP models. It had a glassy look which didn’t have professional look.

Dell XPS M1210

Dell XPS did have a high end models and was stylish enough too. But did cost little more than the Sony. I was not compromised for paying higher price for Dell brand. So I have to move this last in the list.

Why VAIO SZ440?

All the above-mentioned specification and factors where the main reason that pushed me to get this notebook. But also to add up, I have been a [tag]Sony[/tag] fan for quite some time and that did have an impact before making the final decision. I was looking for a configuration that will run for another 2-3 years that’s why I went for little high-end configuration.

Finally, I have purchased the completely customized Sony VAIO SZ440 from Sony Style that summed around 1700 USD.

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