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Skydrive and Gladinet – Free Online Storage

Posted by Sumpm On February - 18 - 2009

A few months ago, Microsoft introduced free online file storage through their Windows Live service, called Skydrive.  In December 2008, they upgraded it from 5GB to 25GB of storage (read more here), with reports that they’ll give you even more space once you hit the 25GB limit.

Considering how much other services are charging for online storage space, Microsoft definitely gave us something great with all this free storage.  In fact, you can even use it to share photos with friends and family (or anyone, for that matter), if you’re not a Flickr user, or just have more photos to store and share than Flickr’s free account will allow.  However, as is usual with everything Microsoft does, there is a downside…

Windows Skydrive Uploader

As you can see from the picture above, you’re allowed to upload exactly 5 files at a time.  Considering many of us have digital photos–not including all our other files–in the thousands, this creates a bit of a problem.  A way around uploading 5 photos at a time would be to put multiple photos in a single zip file, and then upload 5 zip files at a time.  However, as you can also see in the above photo, no file can exceed 50MB.  Assuming each photo averages about 5MB, you’re still looking at only uploading around 50 photos at a time… and they’ll all be inside zip files, which makes sharing them and viewing them more of a hassle.

As you can probably tell, this makes using Skydrive just about useless.  It’s on par with winning the lottery, and being told you can only purchase 5 items at a time, with a max $50 limit per item.  Thanks, Microsoft, you almost got it right, once again.

Gladinet

Fortunately, this is where Gladinet comes to the rescue.  It’s a free utility that creates what is basically a non-existent drive on your computer–inside your My Computer folder–which they label the Z: drive.  I call it non-existent because the drive is only available while Gladinet is running, and inside it, you’re not viewing files that are saved on your hard drive, but files saved to Skydrive.

Skydrive Folder

After you install Gladinet, you’ll see a new folder inside My Computer, under Network Drives.  When you open this folder, you’ll see all the folders that are online in your Skydrive account.  The interface lets you easily browse through the folders to get to files, but even better, it lets you upload files simply by dragging and dropping as many as you like over to the Skydrive folder of your choice (i.e. Pictures, Documents, Public, etc…).

It will take some time, depending on the number of files you transfer and your upload speeds, for the process to complete, but just give it time to work.  I’ve found that it’s best to do this before bed, because it totally bogs down my internet bandwidth (the same thing happens anytime I upload to any online service).

If you’re interested in keeping track of upload progress, you can right-click on the Gladinet icon down by your system clock, and click on ‘Task Manager’…

Gladinet Menu

A new window will pop up showing total tasks, as well as progress for each file.  As you’ll see, only 5 tasks at a time will run–the same number as you’re allowed via the Skydrive Uploader like I mentioned above–but it’ll all be automated, so once each task (file upload) finishes, new ones will begin.

Gladinet Task Manager

All you have to do now is sit back (or go to bed) and wait, while Gladinet takes care of uploading your files for you.  When it’s finished, all your files can be accessed wither through the Z: drive on your computer, or via your Windows Live account.

Links:

Windows Live Skydrive:  http://skydrive.live.com
Gladinet:  http://www.gladinet.com/

Update:  I just discovered that you can right-click an image on a web page, go to My Computer, browse to the whichever folder on the Z: drive that you’d like, and save the image directly to Skydrive.

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

Posted by Sumpm On February - 2 - 2009

Most Windows users (at least, the ones who run Windows Updates) know that part of the update process usually involves downloading the latest version of Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT).  But, until now, little did any of us know that we could do a full system scan at anytime with the MSRT.

Undocumented by Microsoft, and apparently part of XP–all the way back to 2001, I presume–the MSRT can be launched at any time, so you’re not limited to just being able to scan during an Update.

To launch the application, click on the Start button, then on Run.  In the window that pops up, type in MRT and hit OK.  Once the app is open, click Next, and then click on Full Scan.  It can take a few hours to run, so it’s best to let it go overnight.  Assuming it finds any bad software–you know, like Antivirus 2009, Confickr, or a number of others–the MSRT will take care of healing the problems and removing the bad stuff from your machine.

This also works on Windows Vista, although not on Windows 7.  NOTE:  This does not replace using a good anti-virus program, and is intended to be used as a secondary safety precaution.

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool Scan

Playing with Panoramas

Posted by Sumpm On January - 12 - 2009

I’ve taken the occasional set of panoramic photos, but I’ve never bothered stitching them together in Photoshop.  The reason?  I’m lazy.  I can’t even imagine the hours that must go into doing such a thing and doing it well.

Yesterday, that all changed.  I stumbled upon a little, free app called Autostitch, which promised to do all that difficult work for me.  I doubted it’d work, but I had nothing to lose, seeing as though it was free.  I tossed a set of 24 photos together that I took from the top level of a downtown parking garage, then let it render for 10 minutes or so.  When it was finished, I was astonished at the results.

Click for larger image

After a little manual cropping and level adjustments in Photoshop, I grabbed my camera and headed out to take a few more sets of photos.  I’ve been kind of bored taking photos since it got cold out, but I was so excited about finally being able to render full panoramic shots, that I ignored the sub-freezing cold and snapped away.  I have a feeling I’ll be doing a whole lot more of this over time.

Here’s a link to what I have so far (continually updated):  http://www.flickr.com/photos/one9us/sets/72157612444342150/

If you’ve ever considered making your own panoramic photos, give Autostitch a try and go take photos in a whole new way.

Link:  http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~mbrown/autostitch/autostitch.html

p.s.  By the way… a good tripod isn’t a must, but it’ll definitely make for better photos.

TestDisk – Free Data Recovery

Posted by Sumpm On August - 31 - 2008

So, I decided to reformat my wife’s hard drive yesterday and re-install Windows XP Pro.  She had a possible trojan on her system, so that was reason enough to go to all the trouble.

After making sure all her important files on the C: drive were backed up to either DVD or on her 250GB slave drive, I popped the XP disk in and went to work.  All was well through the process, including SP2 & SP3, until I realized I couldn’t access the slave drive through My Computer.  Odder, still, was that it only appeared as one drive, instead of two (it was partitioned into two sections, thus should appear as two drives).

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Disable AVG 8.0 Safe Search

Posted by Sumpm On May - 25 - 2008

I upgraded to AVG Free 8.0 yesterday and all seemed to go well.  Then while doing a typical Google search, I saw a little swirly logo to the right of every search result title.  It turned out to be a new feature in AVG 8.0 called "Safe Search", and it was scanning all the search results to verify none of the pages that Google was linking to contained harmful code.

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Doing the Taskbar Shuffle

Posted by Sumpm On April - 4 - 2008

No, the Taskbar Shuffle is not some sort of country line dance.  For one, anyone who line dances probably has no clue what a taskbar is.  Secondly, it’s because it’s one of the most awesome programs I’ve ever used.

Download Taskbar Shuffle 2.2

Basically, all is does is allow you to rearrange the programs on your taskbar.  That may not sound like much, but if you’re the compulsive type like I am, you might like to have your programs always in the same spot on the taskbar.  I always have My Documents, Outlook Express and Firefox open, in that order along the taskbar.  What sucks is when one of them is accidentally closed or crashes, and then they all end up out of order when I re-open one.

Now I no longer have the problem.  Simply click and hold the button you want to move, then slide it to where you want it and release.  This should really be standard in Windows, but since it’s not, it’s nice that a program exists that allows us to do it.

Link:  http://www.freewebs.com/nerdcave/taskbarshuffle.htm

uberOptions for Logitech SetPoint

Posted by Sumpm On June - 30 - 2007

I accidentally found this little program while browsing Newegg.com for a new mouse.  I use a Logitech with multiple buttons, but five of them were locked to factory settings for MediaPlayer and I wanted more control.  This program unlocks those five buttons as well as giving full control of all buttons on any mouse or keyboard that uses Logitech’s SetPoint software. 

Link:  http://www.mstarmetro.net/users/rlowens/

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