Monday, September 28, 2009

Burning your own MP3 Disk? Normalize the Volume First!

The MP3Gain software is actually one that I am personally using all the time, when I prepare MP3 audio collection, combined from different sources. As you understand, the volume for the combined files might not be the same. They even might not be close, so you are forced to adjust volume every time, when the new audio track starts. Too much hassle… and too much headache… which might actually ruin the whole impression of the music.

The small, simple to operate, and easy to learn freeware utility will analyze the files detecting the volume level for each of them, and adjusts mp3 files, so the entire sequence will have the same volume as an average level, or the level, specifically preset by the user.

MP3Gain does not just do peak normalization, as many normalizes do. Instead, it does some statistical analysis to determine how loud the file actually sounds to the human ear.

Also, the changes MP3Gain makes are completely lossless. There is no quality lost in the change because the program adjusts the mp3 file directly, without decoding and re-encoding.

The interface is simple, but contains everything needed for successful operation. The program is very fast and extremely reliable. It never failed to perform, what I was asking from it.

Program is translated in multiple languages. 20 Languages are already included in the MP3Gain installation package.

The only limitation, I could see, is the software support for the MP3 audio format only.

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The utility is highly recommended for music fans, creating their own music mp3 disks, but not only. You may find it useful, when you prepare the audio track for the slide show as well, for example. 

Sunday, September 13, 2009

TeraCopy: Copying your files fast and easy

TeraCopy is a compact program designed to copy and move files at the maximum possible speed for Windows users. The first question comes to mind is why you need to have an additional utility, if Windows can copy files with no extra add-ons. If you ever tried to copy big files or directories from one drive to another, you probably have already an answer. Windows standard copy utility lacks any advanced functionality and if you have the piece of broken data, the process will be interrupted, and you might be unaware which information has been already copied, and which one has been left. If the copy process took some significant amount of time, this operation outcome will be disappointing and annoying. TeraCopy covers the gaps and allows being in absolute control of this seemingly simple operation.

The software is small and free for personal use. Portable version is available.

Main Features

* Copy files faster. TeraCopy uses dynamically adjusted buffers to reduce seek times. Asynchronous copy speeds up file transfer between two physical hard drives.
* Pause and resume file transfers. Pause copy process at any time to free up system resources and continue with a single click.
* Error recovery. In case of copy error, TeraCopy will try several times and in the worse case just skips the file, not terminating the entire transfer.
* Interactive file list. TeraCopy shows failed file transfers and lets you fix the problem and recopy only problem files.
* Shell integration. TeraCopy can completely replace Explorer copy and move functions, allowing you work with files as usual.
* Full Unicode support.
* Windows 7 x64 support.

OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Free Twitter Add-In for Microsoft Outlook Users

In spite of the known limitations, Microsoft Outlook is the most popular email client for the Windows users. With lightweight free add-in TwInBox, you can easily link your Twitter account to Outlook, bringing Twitter online functionality with no need to open its web interface.

When you install TwInBox, it adds a small toolbar below the normal toolbar of Outlook. This Twitter toolbar has option to compose a new message, send a direct message, and even send a reply. To send a new tweet, just select the relevant option, type your tweet in the pop-up window, and send it. That’s it! You just sent a Tweet right from your Outlook.

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Sending Tweets from Outlook with TwInBox

TwInBox provides some very interesting features for sending tweets. You can use integrated tinyurl functionality to shorten URLs. It also provides an interesting feature to add pictures as tweets. Just pick the attachment option of Outlook, and choose the attachment. TwInBox will upload it to some picture sharing site, and add the URL for that in your tweet from Outlook.

Receive Tweets in Outlook with TwInBox

For receiving Tweets, all the tweets come as emails. So, it is recommended that you set up a separate folder in your Outlook to get all those tweets (otherwise, your Inbox would be filled with tweets from your friends). You can also use the features of Outlook to see tweets only from particular Twitter users into your Inbox, and rest in some archive folder.

Apart from the above, TwInBox has following interesting features:

  • Update your Twitter status directly from Outlook.
  • Receive your friend updates in Outlook.
  • Archive, manage, group and search your tweets the same way you manage your email.
  • Search, track keywords. TwInbox will automatically download ALL tweets matching the keywords you specify, even if you are not following the tweet sender. This feature is perfect for keeping up to date with the Twitter buzz on your name, brand, interests, etc.
  • Group tweets by sender, topic, etc using the Search feature.
  • Upload and post picture files and Outlook email attachments.
  • See new tweets at a glance.
  • Assign custom folder and categories to new messages.
  • Use Outlook's "Reply" and "ReplyAll" commands to send twitter direct messages and @replies.
  • Automatically sort new tweets into per-sender folders.
  • Shorten URLs with tinyurl.
  • See graphs of your Twitter usage statistics.
  • Tweets sent to you (@replies and direct) are marked with high importance, so you can see them at a glance.
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System Requirement:

  • Microsoft® Windows® 2000, XP, Windows Vista® or Windows 7 with the latest Service Pack. 
  • Outlook 2003 SP3, 2007 SP2. 
  • TwInbox does NOT work with Outlook Express.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trojan Hunting in Svchost.exe with Svchost Process Analyzer

"Svchost.exe" (Generic Host Process for Win32 Services) is an integral part of Windows OS. It cannot be stopped or restarted manually. This process manages 32-bit DLLs and other services. At startup, Svchost.exe checks the services portion of the registry and constructs a list of services that it needs to load.

Under normal conditions, multiple instances of Svchost.exe will be running simultaneously. Each Svchost.exe session can contain a grouping of services, so that many services can be run depending on how and where Svchost.exe is started. This allows for better control and debugging.

Svchost.exe groups are identified in the following registry key:


Each value under this key represents a separate Svchost group and appears as a separate instance when you are viewing active processes. Each value is a REG_MULTI_SZ value and contains the services that run under that Svchost group. Each Svchost group can contain one or more service names that are extracted from the following registry key, whose Parameters key contains a ServiceDLL value:

To view the list of services those are running in Svchost:
  1. Click Start on the Windows taskbar, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type CMD, and then press ENTER.
  3. Type Tasklist /SVC, and then press ENTER.
Tasklist displays a list of active processes. The /SVC switch shows the list of active services in each process. For more information about a process, type the following command, and then press ENTER:
Tasklist /FI "PID eq processID" (with the quotation marks)

The svchost.exe file is physically located in the folder C:\Windows\System32. However, one of the most important services organizers can also be used as a driving vehicle and a hiding mechanism for viruses, spyware, Trojans, or worms.

The possible symptoms of the infections are:
  • Your system becomes sluggish and you find that something called svchost or dllhost is taking nearly 100% of your CPU.
  • Your system reports that svchost has performed an illegal operation and will be terminated. After that, various things fail to work properly, if at all.
  • After you log in, your system automatically reboots in one minute.
Note that you should not be confused from the small difference in the svchost.exe and scvhost.exe (which is called svchost virus). So, the svchost virus is actually a process named scvhost.exe (notice on the “c” and “v” are switched) which is designed to confuse people with the harmless svchost. Scvhost.exe will go into your system and completely shut it down. The virus is actually a Trojan Horse, named W30/Agobot-S virus. This virus will also allow hackers to access your computer and steal passwords and personal data.

The approach of hiding dangerous content in svchost is understandable, since you need to have pretty advanced computer skills for its troubleshooting. The free Svchost Process Analyzer free utility is letting anybody analyze and troubleshoot the system in terms of the presence of the dangerous files and processes. The software lists all svchost instances and checks the services they contain. This makes it easy to uncover Svchost worms like the infamous Conficker worm.

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While Svchost Process Analyzer does not provide the details that popular process managers like Process Explorer provide, it does list the information in a comprehensible manner. The process analyzer will scan all svchost processes that are running on the Windows operating system upon startup. A click on details will open the main application window, that lists every svchost process in the top window and details about the selected process in the window at the bottom.

Each entry in the lower window is displayed by name, service name and file. Svchost Process Analyzer is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 2000, Windows 2003 and Windows 2008.

Main Features:
  • 100% freeware.
  • Doesn't require runtimes.
  • Doesn't require installation (absolutely portable).
  • Doesn't write to the registry.
  • Doesn't modify files outside of its own directories.
  • Does not contain adware / malware / spyware.
  • Small, single executable file, does not require significant computer resources.
Developer: Neuber Software.

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