Saturday, August 29, 2009

Putty Tray

Putty is one of the most widely used apps to SSH from Windows PCs that do not have a SSH command line built in. To download, most people simply go to Google and type in putty and click the first search result. However, by doing so they are missing out on another option - Putty Tray.

Putty Tray is essentially an exact duplicate of the regular Putty, with some cool extra features. The first from a purely stylistic point of view is that it supports transparency. That's right, you now have the flexibility that you have with a Linux Terminal and time savings that transparency can save it just looks cool. You can configure the transparency by adjusting the "Opacity" setting under the Window settings. I like to use 225 as it makes it dark enough to clearly ready your shell but just transparent enough to see what's behind.

Some other cool features are the URL hyperlinking and the portability options. The URL hyperlinking allows you to click on a URL in Putty Tray and have it open in the default browser. Very handy if you're looking a squid logs, or similar and want to see what a URL actually is. The portability allows you to save you stored sessions to a directory (gets created in the same location as the exe is run from). That way if you want you can save your sessions and keys to a thumb drive and bring it around with you rather than restoring all of your sessions and keys at new machines. Also note the new icon provided.

This is available for free download at

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Digsby Review

First, let me start by saying I've been using Digsby for the last couple of months to meet my IM and Social Networking needs. I absolutely love it. For those who haven't heard of Digsby, it combines an IM client, Email Notifications and Social Networks into one, easy to use client.

To get started with Digsby you must first visit their website at to create an account and download their software. The account you create is used to access the settings, including login information, for all of your accounts. Because of this, no matter where you log into digsby your accounts will automatically be imported..a very cool feature.

Going through the setup wizard, you'll be prompted to install a lot of "crapware", make sure to decline the installs. While this is annoying in the install, this prevents ads from being posted in the software during use, which is one thing I can't stand about other IM clients.

Once you get the software installed you can add in all of your accounts. Digsby supports AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber and Facebook chat. For email, it can support any POP or IMAP account, as well as Gmail, Yahoo and MSN. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Myspace are the supported social networking accounts.

The graphical display, as shown below, lists all of your IM accounts and contacts in a top window, with all of the social networks listed at the bottom in tabs. I like the configuration, and this can be edited and resized as needed. There are a few skins available by default, the best of which is the new Windows 7 skin. The chat windows are also customizable with skins, fonts, etc, like other IM clients. By mousing over each of the social networks you can get updates, like status updates on Myspace and Facebook and Tweets from people you follow on Twitter. You can also update your status for all accounts at the same time - a new and great timesaving feature.

One of the things that many people have been griping about is some grid computing software that gets installed with Digsby that uses your CPU when the computer is idle. This is turned on by default but Digsby allows you to disable it. Personally I don't mind, but there are a lot of people who object to this. They say that it was dishonest, even though this was in the license agreement that no one reads. If people object, I say turn it off. These guys need to make money too, and being that this is free software, with no ads (with the exception of the install) I'd say give them a pass.

Overall, I think it is the best multifunctional client on the market. It's slick interface and great features beat any other client hands down. Check it out!

Friday, August 21, 2009

My First Review: Blogger

For my first post and software review it makes sense to talk about, where this blog is hosted. Blogger is provided for free through google, provided you sign up for a account.

First, lets talk about setup. This was a breeze and took literally seconds to setup and get ready for posting. After signing in with your account you are guided through a few short questions which specify the name of your blog, the layout chosen from select templates and the license agreement. The templates provided offer some decent selections with more choices as to color once you are logged in.

After choosing a layout, you can also edit the positioning of page elements. Any page elements can be dragged and dropped into position, which makes this aspect of blogger very easy to use. You don’t need to be a web designer to get your ducks in order. Gadgets are easy to add by clicking the add a gadget link and choosing from the decent list of applications, although getting them to fit with your chosen theme may be difficult.  

Let’s talk about posting a new blog entry. This is obviously one of the most important parts of blogging. The default editor allows regular and html editing, although the regular editing is somewhat of a pain especially with images. Luckily, Blogger has added a new editor that you can enable by going to the Basic Settings and selecting the “updated editor” under the select post editor section. It also claims to have better raw html editing, and support for Safari, although I did not test this.

Another nice feature, and the last I’ll mention, is the easy integration with Adsense. This makes it incredibly easy to monetize your blog by simply filling out the registration. In the perfect world there would be no ads anywhere on the web, but in reality they are necessary and the integrations is very slick, allowing you to add it as a gadget.

Overall, Blogger seems to be a very well built and easy to use web application, which anyone with a bit of knowledge should be able to use. It’s applications like these that have made blogging and social networking such a hit. Make sure to come back for my next review on Digsby!