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HTMLfixIT Archive for the ‘Utilities and Programs’ Category

Monday, June 25th, 2007 by Don

Someone recently pointed out a screenshot service that is available for free called IE NetRenderer. My experience has shown over time that most of these services become overwhelmed and eventually convert to paid services or disappear. (more…)

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Friday, June 15th, 2007 by Franki

If I’ve come across a free tool online lately that I wish I’d written myself, it is this one. I was called upon recently to put a video online and embedded in a web page for a client so they could advertise it, and I needed to get it done ASAP. I was about to start hand writing code when I thought, ‘no I’ll give Google a chance first’ which I find myself doing allot nowadays. So anyway, I did a bit of searching and found this extremely well thought out and implemented online tool.

I’m still annoyed that I didn’t do this myself as I imagine it would be very popular and not that hard to knock together. The tool is called Embedded Media HTML Generator and it’s on the website of the University of California. You simply choose the format of the video you want to embed (from Flash, Quicktime, Real Media or Windows Media Video), you fill out the form detailing file names and locations as well as any optional settings and hit submit. You will then be presented with a heap of HTML code that can be inserted directly into your web page. Simple, easy and elegant. The only options they don’t provide are for choosing XHTML transitional or strict, but that’s easy enough to do by hand.

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Wednesday, June 13th, 2007 by Franki

In a normal week, I probably try somewhere between 5 and 10 different programs for one reason or another. Once of the programs I tried this week is Eraser, mostly because it is GPL (Open Source Software) and is totally free. Recently I was called upon to recover sales data from a ex staff members laptop as said staff member decided that the company in question really didn’t need their sales data and deleted the lot (along with about 2500 emails) before returning the laptop.

What led me to Eraser, was the ease with which I recovered all the data. Sure it was time consuming, but in one evening, I’d recovered nearly all the data, and all the deleted emails from Thunderbird. (I’d have gotten all the data, but the laptop had been used for a couple of days and rebooted about a dozen times, so some of it had been overwritten).

Anyway, onto the theory. When data is deleted and emptied from the recycle bin, it isn’t really deleted at all, only its index is removed, the data itself is not changed. Think of it like a map book, the pages of maps themselves are the data and the index is the list of what data is in what place. Removing an entry from the index doesn’t remove the map, you just can’t find it anymore. Same with deleted data. The big difference is that once an area is cleaned from the index of a hard drive, the area in question is allocated as free space meaning it can be over written the next time some free space is need. As long as the data hasn’t been overwritten, it is usually recoverable. Anyway, the ease with which the data was recovered made me think about ways of making it harder, cheap ways at that. 30 seconds of Googling later and I was looking at Eraser. As a test, I put a heap of files between 20 and 700 mb onto a 120 gig hard drive. Then I completely deleted the lot and used Freeundelete (another great little free program) to recover the lot. I was not using this drive as my main system drive and had not added any new data so the recovery was 100% successful. Following that, I deleted the lot again, and ran Eraser on that drive to delete (overwrite) the deleted files and tried to recover them again. this time I was completely unsuccessful, I got nothing usable from the recovery at all. That is to say that Eraser did exactly that it was written for, it made recovering the data next to impossible. It is possible that some experts using much lower level tools could recover small parts of the deleted data, but for all intents and purposes, it’s gone for good.

Eraser is surprisingly easy to use for an OSS program. It works in a schedule type arrangement where you create tasks and then “run” them. So I created a new task, (in this case to erase all free space on drive D), then I right clicked on the task and selected run and off it went. About 4.5 hours later it told me my drives free space was clean. This probably wouldn’t be the NSA’s chosen program for covering their tacks, but for the vast majority, it’s more than enough (wouldn’t hurt to defrag the drive afterwards either).
It never hurts to cover your tracks, even if you are not doing anything questionable, if you don’t like the idea of someone going though your machine, make it harder. Besides, the price of Eraser is right (free), and it takes next to no space or time to use so why not? I give it at 9 out of 10 for doing perfectly, exactly what it is supposed to and nothing more. Small, fast and tidy.

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Monday, June 11th, 2007 by Don

I have been trying to explain to someone the concept of designing with grids and using column widths that are friendly to the human eye. If you make your columns too wide, the eye cannot scan back to the left and keep it’s horizontal point of reference. I happened onto a nice little utility that will help you design column widths today. I also noticed that he had a great little idea on his comment form … a click off that you aren’t sending spam. Of course the spam bots will miss that and thus be relegated to spam. Good thinking x 2.

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Tuesday, March 27th, 2007 by Don

Now this is cool! Earl Boykins is 5′ 5″ tall and weighs a mere 133 pounds, and yet he plays big in the NBA. I was checking out his site to see how big he was and come across his widget. Pretty cool thing to offer to your fans.

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Tuesday, March 20th, 2007 by Don

WordPress gets better and better by the day. It has always been great, but with plug-ins I have found it beyond great. One of my favorite plug-ins has always been the semi-static front page plug in from SemiLogic. It was part of my standard install until the latest version of WordPress that well … builds the feature in standard. Go to Options > Reading > Front Page. First create your front page and then select it.

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Sunday, December 31st, 2006 by Don

Apparently some people are getting a computer with Vista loaded to get exposure among the influential. And I didn’t get one? Either they figure I already have used Vista enough or they think that I might not like it? Are they only giving it to their huge fans? I use Windows — heck I have an install of 98, 2000, NT, XP (and we don’t run it often but we even still have 95 on a machine) … and there is a Vista in my house. I don’t use Vista yet, despite having edited two books on Vista so far for Wiley Publishing, because it is on a desktop and I am usually on a laptop. Oh well I guess I won’t be one of the influencers.

On other software I have recently given a test run. LeadTools Eprint 5 was given to me for a test run. It sounds fantastic. It promises to essentially let you hit print and output to many formats, most significant to me being pdf (Adobe Portable Document Format). I often take a Window’s Office document (based on this template) and open it in Open Office (oOo 2.0) for the simple purpose of outputing it in pdf format. Unfortunately in my limited testing, it only works so, so. The first document I tested it on converted just fine. But then I did my Christmas Newsletter (more on Christmas Newsletters in a moment in another post) it butchered it. It turned the solid backgrounds in text boxes into plaid colored backgrounds making the overlying text impossible to read. In turn it flipped several of the little eye candy images like the reindeer upside down. To put is simply, it didn’t work on this document so I opened Open Office and it converted it near flawlessly (it also had one glitch … the connected text boxes didn’t connect completely so I had to make a little edit, the first time I might add when oOo has failed me even a little in the conversion process). My wish for the new year — a pdf output program that works 100 percent.

Maybe I’ll go get Open Office 2.1 that was recently released and see if it does any better. As an interesting aside, Google still talks about downloading oOo 2.0. I wonder if Open Office has missed a step in updating that is causing Google not to react? They have the 2.1.0 in most of the bottom links, but the first link on the page in navigation doesn’t reflect the change. Perhaps it should?

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