Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wait.. What happened to my Sidebar?

WTF… Where did my sidebar go?

Its a question many of us have been asking ourselves since Windows 7 was released.

When the Sidebar was released in Windows Vista; it was a case of either you liked it or you hated it. I was one of those people who liked it because it made Widgets/Gadgets usable to me.

Before the Sidebar, I never used Gadgets because it required me to clear my desktop to see them, and I wasn’t one to memorise shortcuts or even wanted to do that to check something as simple as the time or see how much RAM I had left.

The Sidebar had this nifty feature where you could make it stay above all windows and keep that gadgets docked there, on top of windows as well. The windows when maximised would never go below the sidebar or on top of it, it would align to the side of the Sidebar as it would to the edge of the screen.

In Windows 7, Microsoft removed the Sidebar entirely instead of making it optional. Not only was this stupid, but it warranted someone being kicked in the balls.

In an attempt to thwart these change in events, I found 2 ways to reinstate the Gadget Sidebar In Windows 7. However one of them requires some major hacking of windows files and there are still some incompatibilities with Windows 7 even after you get all of that done. It can be found here Reinstate Vista Windows Sidebar on Windows 7; use at your own risk. The other solution  is much simpler and is relatively pain free.

The Gadget Sidebar Gadget ~ Windows 7 Sidebar

A developer, Helmut Buhler, developed a Gadget that replicated the main function of the Vista Sidebar. Called Windows 7 Sidebar, it emulated the Vista Sidebar, while adding a Window-Manager with Live-Thumbnails. The extra features are potentially useful, but are well placed so they are easily ignored if you don’t want to use them.

7sdb

Overall this is a great standby option until Microsoft decides to officially bring back the sidebar.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

XVID4PSP: The Return ~ Revision 90

So we all know I’m like a Hentai around Japanese School Girls when it comes to; what i consider to be one of the best video encoding applications around… XVID4PSP v5.0. That said, as great a program it is, I do have my share of problems with it.

Not too long ago, a community developer released a mod of XVID4PSP v5.0, XVID4PSP v5.0 R90, which was retuned and a few new features were added in, which fixed a lot of my problems.

XvidNew 

Batch File Opening

One of these newly added feature was a one most people have been begging for, for quite some time… the ability to open an entire folder of files, instead of opening files individually.

New Feature

  1. How it works is you go to File > Open Folder…” (Not DVD folder) and choose the folder of videos you want to open.
  2. The first video will open and opening of videos will pause (The Enqueue and Encode buttons at the top would change to Resume)
  3. When you are done choosing your video encoding and adjustment settings, hit resume, select where to save the completed videos and the crop, trim and aspect ratio settings that you choose for that first video that was opened, should be applied to all the other videos in that folder. (This batch behaviour can be set and modified in Batch encoding settings)Batch Options vert
    • Batch encoding settings found at Settings > Global Settings
    • Then go to the last tab marked Batch Encoding
    • Then select the features you want to use (I recommend selecting the first 3 options))
  4. Once done, the Resume buttons would return to their original functions; just hit Encode and let the work begin.

 

This batch encode is particularly useful for TV series, preferably all from same source.

In the event you want to do several different groups of videos, like Season One of Transformers and then all the Indiana Jones movies,

  1. Group them into different folders,
  2. Open one folder, choose your settings, hit resume, choose where you want the completed videos saved, let it be applied to all the videos in that folder,
  3. Then open the other folder and choose your settings for those files, hit resume, choose where you want the completed videos saved, and let those open,
  4. Once both groups are done opening, hit encode and let it work. 

Video Trimming

Now the ability to trim files is super useful, what it is essentially is the ability to choose a certain portion of a video and encode just that piece. Very handy for testing video encoding settings and different filtering settings. Simply trim about a minute of video , try something that would be demanding like a high motion scene (The elevator explosion in the beginning of 007 Casino Royale) or a very dark scene with lots of motion and encode that over and over with various settings until you find something that matches what you wants.

TRIM

Conclusion

In the end, this a seriously big improvement over the older version, sporting newer codes and other minor but welcomed improvements as well as themes to match Windows Vista/7’s Aero theme. Now go get it!!!!