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Old 15. May 2009, 08:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 23
Default Little Luxuries (please share yours)

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These are some of the little tools that make computing more comfortable or convenient for me. (not ALL of my collection, just my favorites)
All of these are small-footprint and work portably, but some do make a few registry entries. I run them from my usb drive.
The file sizes noted are for the files required to run the app, doesn't include help files, un-needed language files, and such.
RAM numbers are listed for XP32, followed by Vista64, they are very rough approximations, I got them fromTask Manager after giving the app normal usage.

38 kb
Standy, hibernate, log off, reboot, shutdown, open & close cd/dvd / removable drives, turn off monitor(s), blank the screen, activate screensaver (also includes its own configurable "graviton" screensaver), play wave files (max approx 45 sec and needs full path included), and more.
Friendly help file takes the fear factor out of using a command-line tool.

30 kb
Nircmd can do most of the above, and more besides. IT folks like NirCmd for doing remote/network stuff and registry editing. This tool has some powerful commands that can do serious damage to your machine, so use it with care!
Chiefly, I use NirCmd to execute applications (sometimes with optional additional parameters), to save screenshots to files, and for instant changes to screen resolution --- useful if you have bad eyes, and an evil program hard-coded with 6-point fonts.

Both of these are command-line tools.
Create shortcut to the exe and add the command to the "target" line, change icon for easy recognition.
Or, use Start, Run... command or Launchy or SlickRun or similar.
Or, run commands by batch files, which can get as complex as you like.

I also made some One-Click-Wonders --- batch files that combine multiple commands (from these tools and/or Windows commands).
To get fancy, I used Free Bat To Exe Converter to compile those bat files into some anti-virus throw up false positives because of tools used in these batch compilers, such as UPX Ultimate Packer for eXecutables.)
On my pc, I threw all these into a folder, and created a toolbar for the folder with right-click on taskbar, dragged that to the desktop.
On my usb drive, for use on other computers, I use Qsel, a nice little application launcher, to hold all my shortcut links(exe's, files, urls, email addresses) and run them from there. ( 85 kb plus several tiny configuration files and 75 kb of home-made icons; 2.4 ~ 2.8 mb RAM >>> compare to Pstart 770 kb 5~12 mb RAM)

140 kb; RAM 1.2 mb ; 800 kb
My helper when I need more screen real estate.
Roll up windows to the caption bar; shrink window to floating icon ( takes it off taskbar!); toggle "on top", provides 4 virtual desktops, adjust monitor gamma, transparency, and a few more features I don't use very much.
Uses configurable hotkey and/or mouse-click combinations
(sadly, development seems to have stopped --- open source, anybody want to pick up the spear?)

32bit 192 kb; RAM 3.3 mb
64bit 215 kb; RAM 1.6 mb
My favorite feature is using mouse wheel to scroll whatever window is under the mouse, even inactive windows. Very handy if you are editing or searching in multiple windows.
Also saves mouse-selected screenshots to file, roll up windows, lock windows, dock windows, assign apps to minimize to systray, set transparency, hibernate, and more. (a few functions overlap DM2.)
Some configurations must be manually edited in its INI file. Under active development.

Task Mover
600 kb; RAM 3 mb, 850 kb
Another commandline tool with only a few simple settings.
Drag & drop taskbar buttons AND systray icons to rearrange them more conveniently. I use it for any situation when I want to quickly choose taskbar buttons "by feel" instead of having to hunt for them; and send seldom-used systray icons to the far left of my very long queue, out of the way.
(Taskbar Shuffle now 64-bit compatible, but 2.6 mb size and 2 mb RAM usage. Taskix doesn't do systray.)

432 kb; RAM 3.6 mb, 850 kb
While pressing left ALT key, move window by left-button drag from anywhere inside the window, Resize window by right-button drag from anywhere inside the window. Release mouse button before releasing Alt key to prevent stickiness.
If you have trouble snagging window borders for resizing, this is so helpful.

(the 2003 FREE version. It works in Vista but not with Aero)
18 kb RAM 3.3 mb, 1.1 mb
Writes settings to registry HKCU.
For portable use, I used Universal Extractor to extract files from installer, and copied just the exe file to a folder, then deleted the leftovers. (Or, install, copy exe, then uninstall.)
Puts time & date on active window caption bar so I can dismiss systray clock and gain another inch of precious taskbar space. And it's just kind of kewl....

575 kb; RAM 6.2 mb, 4 mb
Create custom "send to" shortcuts on right-click context menus without registry clutter.
I send files to folders or applications on my hard drive or portable drive.

CAFE portable
240 kb; RAM 2.2 mb, 2.3 mb
Create file associations to applications installed on your portable drive, which stay in place even when drive letter changes. Or, for that matter, associate to apps on your hard drive. Without cluttering up your registry.
RAM usage jumps very high while doing configurations, but clicking "Refresh CAFE" drops it back down.

The Font Thing
325 kb ( UPX'd from 925 kb); RAM = 7.5 mb, 5.5 mb
Writes its settings to registry HKCU.
Development stopped in 1999, but works fine in XP. Works in Vista64 set to Win2000 compatability.
View, organize, create "collections" of fonts.
Loads uninstalled single fonts or groups into memory so you can use them with running applications. Once they are loaded, the app can be closed, the fonts stay until reboot.
I haven't found any other freeware organizer that does this; once I have my groups configured, much easier than selecting and loading uninstalled fonts manually. (I have a large collection, and why waste the RAM to have all those fonts installed and loaded all the time?)

55 kb (UPX'd from 100 kb); RAM 4 mb , 2.5 mb
(compare NotePad 166 kb RAM 3.7 mb, 2 mb
Writes its settings to registry HKCU.
Tabbed rich-text editor. Supports live urls and links to files on local disk, which is more than WordPad can do, but doesn't support OLE, so no pasted images. You can even create custom colors for text and highlights ---right-click on an empty palette box calls the color mixer.
I've set this up to replace Notepad, and consider it a luxury because A: tabs allow mulitlple docs in one instance; B: I can add basic formatting to a plain text file and save as rich text, without having to fire up my word processor.

308 kb; RAM 2.5 mb , 2.2 mb
Comfortable little calculator works in a text-entry window -- all your data and text notes stay available as you work, and remain until you erase it --- even after closing. I prefer the older smaller version 1.2.

1by1 MP3 player
74 kb; RAM usage <minimized to tray> XP32 = 2.7 mb, Vista64 = 6 mb
(I must find something better optimized for 64-bit!)
I added 200 kb of winamp plugins to add support for wav, ac3, wma, midi, and CD playing.
It is designed to simply play through a folder's contents, but does support playlists, and has a shuffle mode. It even has audio enhancement and equalizer (for 16-bit output only), but these need some twiddling in Vista.
I set it to play a folder with hours of tracks, and have muzak all day long.

So... For a total of 3.5 mb of files, using 30 ~ 40 mb of RAM , my computing environment is much more comfortable and enjoyable.
To put it all in perspective, running my old 2-mb game of Bejeweled uses 20 ~ 32 mb RAM on XP, 36 ~ 41 mb on Vista.

How about you? What are some of the "luxury" apps you can't bear to be without?
grannyGrump is offline   Reply With Quote