Sirlaugh’s Blog

July 8, 2009

How to Download From Newsgroups

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 3:29 pm

An easy-to-use reference guide for those looking to get started with Usenet newsgroups.

Usenet is one of the oldest computer network communications still in use, having been first conceived way back in 1979 by a pair of Duke University graduate students to basically post messages as a sort of public bulletin board system.

As I’m sure you’re aware it’s evolved greatly since then, a way having been devised to encode data into the same ASCII character set used to previously post simple text messages.

See in the diagram below how the process works, moving from the original content file, be it a .ISO, .AVI, .XVID, file etc. to the final, encoded pieces ready for upload to a newsgroup server. A newsgroup describes the hierarchies that messages are posted in, of which there are 8 major hierarchies referred to as the “Big Eight” (comp, humanities, misc, news, rec, sci, soc, and talk).

800px-Usenet_Binaries_Upload_processA

Now to access newsgroup servers and to “read” or download messages or content we first need to do a few things. It’s pretty straightforward, and may actually cause some of you to switch over from BiTorrent considering the security issues associated with the oftentimes open nature of a BitTorrent swarm.

1. Usenet Newsgroup Service Provider

Some ISPs offer very basic access for free, with important hierarchies like alt.binaries (where most copyrighted material can be found) omitted so its important that you subscribe to a service to get the most out of newsgroups.

Prices range from $3 to $30 p/mo, each service having a variety of pros and cons to take into consideration. Some have data caps others offer transport layer security (TLS) encryption. Data retention, the number of days articles are stored on a news server prior before being deleted must also be considered.

The one preferred by most is Giganews, myself included, for it has more data, or “binary retention” (365), available than any other Usenet provider. It even boasts that Usenet members upload more than 5TB of new discussions and content on a daily basis.

Giganews Newsgroups

Others include:

For a review of different sites, pricing, etc. visit Anchordudes and Newsgroup Reviews.

2. Newsreader

A newsreader is an application that allows you to “read” newsgroup articles on Usenet. There are several types, of which the text type, like Outlook Express or Mozilla’s Thunderbird, is only usable for reading/posting text, and others like the binary grabber type, such as Grabit or Newsbin, which are for downloading binary posts that contain content like movies, music, etc..

Alt.binz (free) is the one I’m currently using, but there are a number to choose from. Some are free and some require purchase, the pay ones offering advanced features, upgrades, etc..

3. Usenet Indexing Sites

Now we need to be able to find binary posts, i.e. content, in the newsgroups to download. The easiest way is to use. Usenet indexing sites, do just that, indexing newsgroup posts so that you can browse or search by keyword for a particular piece of content, be it a TV show episode, movie, album, program, etc..

Some, like Newzbin for example, are private and require an invite, and some require basic registration.

(There’s also a program called NZBLeecher which allows you to search multiple indexing sites simultaneously)

What now?

So you’ve done all three steps, have begun browsing for content, and now want to know what to do. All you have to do is configure the newsreader to connect to whatever newsgroup service provider you’ve chosen, presumably a subscription one, with the login information they send you after registration. The last thing to do is to simply open the a .NZB file associated with the content you’re trying to download.

I’ll go over this process with more detail in my next guide, and will show you step-by-step how to configure a newsreader and download content.

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How to Use a Newsreader

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 3:25 pm

An easy-to-use reference guide for those looking for how to download content from Usenet newsgroups.

This is a follow up guide to one from a few days ago in which I discussed what Usenet newsgroups are and what’s needed to begin downloading content from it. In this guide I’ll walk you through one of the programs, called a newsreader, that allows you to “read” newsgroup articles.

The newsreader we’re going to use is Alt.binz, though there are many others to choose from. The process will be easy and straightforward, doing only that which is necessary to begin downloading in its most basic form. A more advanced user guide will follow this one.

Setup

1. Select “setup” from the main tab menu.

altbin1

2. Select “download” from the setup menu.

Here it’s important that you decide where you want your downloads to be saved in. You’d be surprised how many people have downloaded stuff and then are unable to find it.

altbin2a

3. Select “connection” from the setup menu.

Choose a desired a maximum download speed. If you’re unsure how fast your connection speed is you can check it here. Keep in mind you may not want to max it out so that you can still browse web pages, etc..

altbin3a

4. Select “servers” from the setup menu.

Here you need to enter the details of your newsgroup service provider. As you can see in the example I entered my info for Giganews, including username and password, and selected “apply.”

altbin4a

5. Finish by selecting “add as primary.”

altbin5a

Downloading

So we’ve got the newsreader ready to download content, all we need to do now is go out and find some.

I mentioned a number of sites before. The only we’ll use here will be NZBMatrix, on which I found the .NZB file for an old Charlie Chaplin movie, “The Kid.”

1. Select “connect” from the main tab menu.

A message that says you are “connected & authenticated” should then appear in the bottom of the window.

altbin6a

2. Select “NZB” from the main tab menu and open the .NZB file associated with whatever you’re trying to download.

altbin7

altbin8aaltbin9a

You will then see your download begin.

Where Do I Find Stuff to Download?

Here’s a list of Usenet indexing sites again that is by no means complete:

June 12, 2009

How to clear Recent Documents and Recent Items List in Windows XP and Windows Vista

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 6:43 pm

How to clear Recent Documents and Recent Items List in Windows XP and Windows Vista

By Aditya on windows

windows logo How to clear Recent Documents and Recent Items List in Windows XP and Windows Vista Recent Items (in Windows Vista) and Recent Documents (in Windows XP) stores traces of your file activity on the system for up to last 10 files that you open or access. In case you would not like others to know what files you have opened (especially on a shared computer), you can erase all trace of the files that have been opened, used, edited, created or accessed; listed inside the Recent Items list.

Clearing Recent Items List in Windows Vista

1. Click on Start

2. Right click on ‘Recent Items’

3. Click on ‘Clear Recent Items List’

recent items vista How to clear Recent Documents and Recent Items List in Windows XP and Windows Vista

Clearing My Recent Documents in Windows XP

1. Right click Start

2. Select Properties

clear windows xp 1 How to clear Recent Documents and Recent Items List in Windows XP and Windows Vista

3. Click ‘Customize’ in the ‘Taskbar and Start Menu Properties’

clear windows xp 2 How to clear Recent Documents and Recent Items List in Windows XP and Windows Vista

4. 1. Click on the ‘Advanced’ Tab
2. Click on ‘Clear list’ button under recent documents

clear windows xp 3 How to clear Recent Documents and Recent Items List in Windows XP and Windows Vista

5. Click OK

You can also remove ‘My Recent Documents’ in Windows XP. For doing so, simply uncheck the box beside ‘List my most recently opened documents’.

How to extract Audio from a YouTube video and download it in MP3 format

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 6:39 pm

How to extract Audio from a YouTube video and download it in MP3 format

By Aditya on youtube tracks

youtubetracks How to extract Audio from a YouTube video and download it in MP3 format YouTube is home to many live versions of songs that you won’t be getting anywhere else so easily for free. If you ever wanted to extract audio from such videos of songs and download those in MP3 format on your pc to hear later or burn them on a CD, here is a nifty utility that will be of great help. Named as YouTubeTracks, it is a web based utility that allows you to enter URL of a YouTube clip and then lets you download only audio from a video in MP3 format.

Working with this utility is no trick. A simple four steps is all it takes for you to begin downloading MP3 audio from a YouTube clip. Here is how you should proceed:

1. Visit the YouTubeTracks website and enter the URL of the video whose audio you would like to download as MP3.

2. Select the quality of your MP3 – HQ (high quality) or LQ (low quality). Default is HQ.

youtubetracks2 How to extract Audio from a YouTube video and download it in MP3 format

3. Click on the red ‘Download MP3′ button.

4. The audio download will thence start.

youtubetracks3 How to extract Audio from a YouTube video and download it in MP3 format

That’s it. Now save the MP3 audio in your local hard disk from the confirmation dialog box.

Now Compress and Decompress Files Online. No more waiting for software downloads

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 6:28 pm

By Aditya on openrarfile

openrarfile Now Compress and Decompress Files Online. No more waiting for software downloadsIf you are in need of a quick decompression or creation of an archive (rar, zip, tar, tgz) or need to do decompression or creation of an archive just once, here is an excellent online tool for you. Named as OpenRarFile.com, this web tools lets you create and extract archives on the fly.

Extracting files from an Archive:

Decompressing an archive using OpenRarFile.com (rar, zip, tar, tgz) is very easy. Just head to the OpenRarFile.com website and browse the archive you wish to extract files from. Once you have browsed and selected an archive, select the type of archive in the dropdown box beside and click on the ‘Unzip’ button. Your file will be then extracted and you will be given separate download links for each file.

Here is the extraction of a WordPress plugin (file name’ wp-page-numbers.zip’) performed by OpenRarFile.com:

1. Browsed and select the type of archive to extract.

unzip Now Compress and Decompress Files Online. No more waiting for software downloads

2. Archive extracted with separate links to download individual files.

unzip 2 Now Compress and Decompress Files Online. No more waiting for software downloads

Compressing files into an Archive:

Compressing files into an archive using OpenRarFile.com is very easy. Just visit the OpenRarFile.com website and under the ‘Zip Files section’, upload files you wish to compress. As of now, OpenRarFile.com lets you add only upto 10 files for compression. Once you have uploaded all the files you wish to compress, select a compression format and click on ‘Zip My Files’ button.

tar Now Compress and Decompress Files Online. No more waiting for software downloads

June 9, 2009

How to Download Embedded Flash Files using your Browser

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 1:04 pm

Today, Flash is everywhere. Animations, music, games, advertisements or even streaming presentations. Speaking of games, here’s a list of site with the best flash games.

The use of Flash plug-ins in browsers is now almost obligatory. Yes, it’s easy to view and enjoy the rich media content delivered by interactive Flash embedded pages. But what if I want to download some of these files as keepsakes? The greatest benefit – I can watch them offline in my own jolly time. Convert them to a format of my choice. Or embed them again in a PowerPoint presentation. Or even transfer them to my mobile phone.

Flash animation files are embedded as SWF (Small Web Format) files in webpages. Rather than depending on any software or a third-party website, downloading Flash content is dead simple. The only tool required is a browser and a bit of patience to do the rummaging around.

Just one note: As we will be heading into the internet cache folders of the respective browsers, it pays to clear it of all old files before navigating to the desired page. It makes the Flash file search a lot easier.

So, here’s how to do it in three of our popular browsers.

Download SWF files using Firefox

  1. Fire up Firefox and browse to the page which contains the embedded SWF Flash file that you are eyeing to download. Let the SWF file stream through once completely.
  2. On any empty part of the page, right-click and select the Page Info context menu option. Or alternatively, go to Tools – Page Info.1_ff_rightclick
  3. Select the Media tab. The Media tab lists all image formats, icons, style sheets and flash files that were rendered by the webpage.2_ff_media-tab
  4. Look amongst the items to find the particular file with the SWF extension. The type column will show up with an Embed filetype. Highlight the file and click Save as to save the file on your hard drive.

Download SWF files using Internet Explorer

In IE8, we have to head to the Temporary Internet Files folder which stores all rendered files during a browsing session. (It can be directly accessed from here in Windows XP – C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files.)

  1. Go to the IE Menu bar. Click on Tools – Internet Options.
  2. On the General tab, click on Settings under Browsing History.
  3. The Temporary Internet Files and Browsing History box opens up.3-ie-internet-options
  4. Click on View Files. You will get all the rendered webpage elements in this folder.
  5. To rummage about effectively amidst the mass of files, choose View – Arrange by Type from the menu. Also go to Tools – Folder Options, and uncheck the Hide extensions for known file types option.
  6. Seek out your SWF files, copy and then paste it to your preferred location.4_ie-right-click

Download SWF files using Opera

In Opera, downloaded SWF files can be accessed in two simple ways –

  • Type opera:cache in the address bar.
  • Go to Tools – Advanced – Cache from the toolbar.

5_opera-menu

Either way, a huge list of downloaded page elements opens up with their URLs. Search for a file with the .swf extension. Alternatively, you could search (Ctrl+F ) and hunt it down, with swf as the search query.

Right-click on the particular file and choose either Saved Linked Content As or Save to Download Folder to save the SWF file on the hard disk.

6_opera-cache

After downloading the SWF file, one can use the Adobe Flash Player to view the Flash file or a supported media player like Media Player Classic. Or, an easier way would be to just open it in a browser by right-clicking it and selecting the browser of choice.

These are the ways we can use to single out the Flash files from a webpage. In my experience, I personally have been more comfortable with Firefox than the other two. I am still searching a way perform this in Chrome but it is proving impossible without third-party support. Numerous third-party tools can do the same job better by converting it to a format of your choice. But it always pays to know that you can fall back on a browser alone.

Aibek had the same idea about offline Flash files when he covered How To Download and Play Flash Games Offline in a previous post. That post extends the possibilities of the fun we can have with Flash files.

The Best Free Websites To Find Foreclosed Houses

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 12:43 pm

About 15 years ago, I became interested in real estate investment. It was just after I’d started my first job in Connecticut and was able to save up a bit of cash. I was looking for a good investment for some of that money. Searching the Internet for free websites for foreclosed homes in the United States, using the form that the Internet existed in 15 years ago, resulted in nothing more than a long list of real estate investment scams or websites looking for membership dues. Very little on the Internet was free back then.

Discovering Free Websites for Foreclosed Homes

Back then, I gave up my search and instead chose to put my money into a retirement fund. Sure, I probably could have gone to the courthouse and dug up the property addresses of homeowners who were served with a legal notice of foreclosure, but my normal job didn’t allow for the time it would take to do that.

Fifteen years later, the Internet has transformed into an entire playground of free services and information sources related to real estate. Yes, there are still countless websites that are looking to charge monthly membership fees for “detailed information” on properties, but considering the fact that all of that information is freely available via public records, there’s no reason you should ever pay for it. Thankfully, there are now a number of excellent free websites for foreclosed homes. MakeUseOf has touched on a few websites where you can find homes for sale, such as Jerry’s list of the 5 most significant online property search engines, or Adam’s list of 20 real estate search and information tools.  However, if you’re looking to invest in foreclosures, the websites below are the first places to check out.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development

If there’s only one place you go for information on properties for sale that are either in foreclosure, bank owned or government owned, that place should be the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). By far, it’s the most comprehensive (and absolutely free) source of listings for all properties for sale from government agencies such as:

  • HUD
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • The IRS
  • U.S. Marshals Service
  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac
  • Department of Agriculture

hud1

The cool thing about properties offered at this website is that they include both single family and multifamily homes, which is great if you’re looking for a nice rental property to buy at a low price. Don’t forget to check out special deals through HUD, like a 50 percent discount off HUD homes for teachers and community emergency personnel, or $1 homes for local community non-profit organizations that want to fix up properties for low or moderate income residents. This site is overflowing with information on where to find foreclosed homes.

Free Foreclosure Database

FreeForeclosureDatabase is one of the first websites that offers a truly “free” search for foreclosed homes, without requiring you to sign up for any sort of trial membership. From the main page, all you have to do is search for your city and state, price range and property type (or just click on the map of the U.S.).

foreclosuredatabase2

When you click on the “detailed listing,” unlike other sites that make you provide your email address or sign up for a “trial membership,” this website truly offers free information about the property.

foreclosuredatabase3

You can view the street address and the agent’s name and number to contact for more information about purchasing the foreclosed property. This is one of the few websites where you get access to contact information for absolutely free – making this site one of the best out there.

WatchForeclosure Won’t Try Selling a “Trial Membership”

Another great website that offers foreclosure listings that are truly free is WatchForeclosure. This website offers a very simple free foreclosure search where you click on any state on a map of the U.S.

watchforeclosure

For Maine alone, the search returned 223 properties throughout the entire state. Most listings are very current, and when you click on the property link you typically get a great picture, property details and the contact information for an agent to contact.

watchforeclosure2

You’ll notice that you get access to property detail and contact information for absolutely free – no email required and no trial membership that traps you into a long-term commitment.

REO Source for Bank Owned Properties

Another great website for finding foreclosed properties is REOSource. REO stands for “Real Estate Owned,” and it means properties that are now owned by the bank. Some of these may be going through foreclosure, but many didn’t sell at auction and are simply being held by the bank until they can find a seller. You could sift through the lists of national banks one at a time, or you can use the REOSource search engine.

resource1

This search engine turned up only thirteen properties for Maine, but each listing was fairly current and had complete contact details for the agent in charge of the property.

Foreclosure Searches – Try the Do it Yourself Approach

The best way to find the most comprehensive listings is to go through individual national bank websites and search their REO listings for your state. You can find a fairly good list of bank REO websites at Mortgage News Daily, or you can use the public records section of OnlineSearches to search through foreclosure and tax lien sale records offered for free from your state government.

publicrecords

Just click on your state to search any free public records for any properties in your area that have a tax lien on it. In most cases, you’ll find those properties are already in foreclosure, or at least pre-foreclosure.

Whatever you do, never sign up for the trial offers that major real estate companies put up as an obstacle to find foreclosed homes. It’s in the best interest of retail real estate to keep these low-cost foreclosed properties difficult to access, because cheap homes bring down overall real estate prices. What they don’t want you to know is that through the type of resources listed in this article, you can find all of those same properties, with just a little bit of extra work, for absolutely free.

7 Common Reasons Why Windows Can Get Unresponsive

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 12:21 pm

A irresponsive system is a relatively common error you will encounter when using a PC. In many cases, you won’t even get a message that your system is not responding because the computer has hung and it can’t send you even that message. Very often, when your system is not responding, this means that neither the mouse, nor the keyboard are working and the only solution is to hit the Restart button.

When your system is not responding, usually CPU usage is at 100%, no matter if you do anything or not. On the other hand, it is not mandatory for this to happen, so if your CPU usage is not shown to be 100%, it is still possible that your system is not responding.

7 Reasons Why a System Is Not Responding

There are tons of reasons why a system can stop responding – it could be due to a hardware or a software conflict. Such errors don’t happen only on PCs but on all kinds of hardware (if this is of any comfort to you) and the symptoms could vary – from a totally blocked machine – to a PC which is responding very, very slowly. Here are seven of the most common reasons why a system is not responding and what you can do to prevent them.

1. Hardware incompatibilities

This is one of the most frequent reasons why a system stops responding. The culprit could be anything – from a mouse/keyboard, to a CD drive, to a USB device. In some cases, you might even experience a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), which is one more symptom of hardware incompatibilities. Remove the suspect and replace it with a functioning device and see if this helps.

bsod
A Blue Screen of Death is one of the most common symptoms when a system becomes irresponsive

2. Driver issues

Even if the hardware itself is not a problem, the drivers that manage it could be. If you have recently installed a new driver, this is the first suspect to check. Uninstall the driver and see if this helps. Don’t worry, there are easy ways to remove old and faulty drivers from Windows.

3.Messed up Windows Registry

Windows and its Registry are very complex creatures and even minor messes with them could not only make a system not responding error but could even make a computer totally useless. That is why it is a good idea to clean your Windows and the Registry from time to time, even if there are no visible problems. One great way to do it is with the help of nCleaner.

4. Malware of all kinds

Spyware, adware, trojans and the other pests you get for free from the Internet, are also a common reasons why a system is not responding. Just run a good anti-malware program and that’s it. Here are some great free online malware and virus scanners you might want to check.

5. Antivirus programs

As strange as it might sound, anti-virus programs can hang a computer. If you have more than one anti-virus program, conflicts between them are pretty common but even if you have only one anti-virus program, still there are many ways in which it can mess with the Registry, or with the applications on your computer, thus causing it to crash. Try to see which of the antivirus program is the problem and uninstall it. For antivirus recommendations, take a look at our poll for the best free Antivirus applications.

6. Bugs in applications

Poorly-written system tools and applications can cause a lot of trouble but it is not only system applications that can crash a computer. Browsers, such as Firefox or Internet Explorer can frequently hang when a poorly-written script is executed. If you are lucky to know which application in particular makes your system irresponsive, uninstall it (or in the case of a browser – disable the faulty plugin) and pray that this fixes the situation.

7. User intervention

Tweaks are great and very often they are safe to do (if you take the necessary precautions, of course) but as a matter of fact, tweaks that went bad are also a common reason for why a system is not responding. That’s why you need to be very cautious when you tweak your computer. And above all – always make a backup, a system image and/or a restore point before you start tweaking, so that if the tweak goes unplanned, you still have a lifeline.

The above reasons and their suggested workarounds are just some of the most common causes as to why a system is not responding. When your system is not responding, try these solutions and if they solve your problem – be very, very happy about it!

Create Windows System Restore Point with 1-Click using SCRP

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 12:01 pm

System Restore tracks changes to critical system files on your computer and creates restore points before significant changes occur. System Restore will automatically backup important system files such as drivers and the registry so that it can roll back to a previous setting. Restore points are usually created by the system before new device drivers, automatic updates, unsigned drivers, and even when some applications are installed. You can also choose to manually create restore points.

Using System Restore assures you that you won’t lose personal data such as documents, e-mail settings and messages. However, keep in mind that data you have stored in My Documents, My Pictures, or My Music folders are not affected by System Restore.

Today, I am going to introduce you one tool that can be used to create Windows System restore point with a single click of a button.

To simply and easily create System Restore points, you can use Single Click Restore Point. Just run SCRP with administrator privileges and it will automatically create a restore point for you – no need to dig through the menus. The only caveat is that you can’t name the restore points yourself, they’re all called “Created by SCRP Tool”. In my experience, SCRP does the job and makes it more convenient for less tech-savvy users. All you need to do is double-click on the application and a resulting window pops up:

scrp1r

To restore your computer to an earlier time in Windows XP, log in as an administrator, and then follow these steps:

sysxp

  1. Click Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools, and then click System Restore.
  2. On the Welcome screen, click Restore my computer to an earlier time, and then click Next. You can also click on Create Restore Point to manually create a backup of the system files. This backup will appear along with the other automatically generated backups.
  3. On the Select a Restore Point page, select the date from the calendar that shows the point you’d like to restore to.
  4. On the Confirm Restore Point Selection page, check to see if you selected the right restore point.
  5. Click Next if you are ready to continue or click Back to change the restore point.
  6. The computer will automatically shut down and reboot. On reboot, you’ll see the Restoration Complete page.

If you’re happy with how the system is behaving after the restore, you don’t have to do anything else. If not, just open System Restore and select Undo my last restoration on the System Restore Welcome page. If your computer doesn’t boot normally, you might have to use Safe Mode to access System Restore. To access Safe Mode, press F8 key during reboot and choose Safe Mode.

sysrestore2

In Windows Vista and 7, all you have to do is type System Restore in the search bar within the Start Menu. You’ll will be presented with the most recent restore point in the windows that appears. If you want to choose another restore point made earlier, click Choose Another Restore Point and Next. After you’ve selected the restore point you want, just click Finish. Your computer will automatically restore the required system files and restart.

sysrescreate

To manually create a restore point, open Advanced System Settings (by typing this into the Start Menu) and select the System Protection tab. Once there, click on Create.

May 15, 2009

Three Samurai

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 3:19 am

Three Samurai were taking their last swordsmanship test with their Master. In front of each was a small box. The master approached the first Samurai and opened the box and out came a fly. In one fluid motion the sword swept thru the air, and into the box fell the fly – cut in half. The master replied “You are a true Samurai”
He moved to the second Samurai and opened the box. Out came the fly and in two slashes of the shinny sword four pieces of the fly fell back into the box. “Impressive” said the Master, “you are a true Samurai”
The Master opened the third box, and a flurry of activity the fly flew away and out the window. The Master scowled – “You have much to learn… the fly got away” To that, the Samurai replied: “Perhaps, but he will not be reproducing baby flies….”

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