Sandboxie should be your next Windows app

14 07 2007

Sandboxie logo

Sandboxie is an incredible little, lightweight program that allows you to run an application sandboxed which means anything the sandboxed app would normally write to disk is instead written to transient storage which can be easily removed.

From the Sandboxie site

If you run Freecell inside the Sandboxie environment, Sandboxie reads the statistics data from the hard disk into the sandbox, to satisfy the read requested by Freecell. When the game later writes the statistics, Sandboxie intercepts this operation and directs the data to the sandbox.

If you then run Freecell without the aid of Sandboxie, the read operation would bypass the sandbox altogether, and the statistics would be retrieved from the hard disk.

The transient nature of the sandbox makes it is easy to get rid of everything in it. If you were to throw away the sandbox, by deleting everything in it, the sandboxed statistics would be gone for good, as if they had never been there in the first place.

This works great when installing new applications that you aren’t sure you are going to keep. I needed to do some testing with several video ripping apps and installed each of them sandboxed. I tested four separate apps and decided to keep one. When I was done testing I simply deleted the sandboxes and reinstalled the app I liked using the normal process. This meant I didn’t have to worry about malware or dirty uninstalls leaving files on the disk or registry entries. Awesome.

As the excerpt above indicates you can also run apps you have already installed in a sandbox. This is particularly helpful when browsing the internet as any files typically written to your cache will be written to the sandbox instead. Want to try a new browser toolbar but don’t want to commit to it? Install the toolbar while the browser is sandboxed.

While reading through the Sandboxie forum one individual commented that they had installed Sandboxie in a Terminal Server environment sandboxing the browser. Prior to installing sandbox their AV/malware scanners were picking up 200-400 malicious attempts a week. Sandboxie reportedly reduced the number of malicious attempts to 6 and those were done outside the sandbox. Incredibly impressive.

There really isn’t any reason you shouldn’t install Sandboxie. Go get it now.

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Edit Mp3 tags in Ubuntu with cowbell

14 07 2007

I posted here on what I liked for editing Mp3 tags in Windows. Unfortunately these apps don’t work in Ubuntu so I went looking for an alternative. While searching I wasn’t surprised to find several threads where people have been looking for the same type of thing. I ran across a few programs but none of them worked very well, IMHO, until I ran across a reference to cowbell someplace.

From the cowbell site

Do you ever pull your hair out trying to hand-edit all your tags with some arcane editor? Tell your inner OCD to take a hike because Cowbell is coming to town.

Cowbell is an elegant music organizer intended to make keeping your collection tidy both fun and easy.

Most of the editing I do is to podcasts so the album feature of Cowbell doesn’t fit in here. I need to edit each Mp3 individually which is easily done by simply dragging the file into cowbell and removing it when I’m done. Of course this could all be handled rather nicely if Podcast authors would simply tag their files in some consistent manner, but I guess this is where I need to tell my inner OCD to take a hike.

You need cowbell

Cowbell screenshot

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The TWiT Network and Audible.com. Smooth advertising

5 07 2007

I listen to several of the TWiT netcasts and it sounds like audible.com has signed up as an advertiser for most of the shows I listen to, such as TWiT (This Week in Tech) and Windows Weekly. While I’m happy that Leo Laporte was able to land what seems like a long term supporter I’m even more impressed with the delivery and conversation that occurs while a show is in ‘ad mode’.

Most other ad supported podcasts seem to have the canned ad that plays at some point during the show. While there is nothing wrong with this, it does eventually get the same reaction as a TV ad and the listener just zones out for 30 seconds or so.

What Leo manages to do is announce that it’s ad time and then he, and whomever else is on the show, start to toss around the books they would recommend. This typically results in a pretty decent conversation and the subject matter does not stick to the tech realm which is nice as well. For example, I learned today that Paul Thurott is a fan of the horror genre and Leo even noted that Stephen King is this eras Dickens. Who knew these guys liked this stuff? Not me. But wait, I’m listening to an ad and clearly should not be enjoying it this much!

Well done Leo and gang. Hopefully audible.com will stick around.

Oh, by the way,I like the other non advertising related stuff they do as well.  I just thought this was pretty unique and deserved some attention.





FastLadder – Don’t bother just yet

3 07 2007

I just learned about a new feed reader called FastLadder on Lifehacker. What excited me about the Lifehacker post was the following,

Fastladder has integrated search! It’s really fast and easy to use. I’m not sure yet how deep the search goes (i.e., I don’t know how many feed items Fastladder saves), but what’s there is really good.

Too many times when running through feeds in Google Reader I would like to search on something I know I read but can’t recall which feed. Alas there is no integrated search in Google Reader (silly, I know). So off I ran to FastLadder. The fact that I had to signup prior to even learning about the service was a bit offsetting but signup I did, which was quickly followed by uploading my OPML file.

Ok, uploading done. Where is the search field? Ahh, right where you would expect it to be, above the list of feeds. I do a search for FastLadder and get nothing. OK, I figure maybe I need to have at least read the post on FastLadder for the search to work. I run through the Lifehacker posts, yep, there’s the FastLadder post, and off to the search I go.

Again the search yields nothing.

This time I search for Lifehacker and it brings back the Lifehacker feed. This is no good.

Apparently the touted search feature does nothing but search the name of the feed you are subscribed to which makes it useless as far as I’m concerned. Ugghhh, how disappointing.

This is the first time I can recall that a Lifehacker post led me astray. I’m hoping I’m missing something and the search is really there but a couple of commenter’s  on Lifehacker pointed out the same thing. Guess I should have read all the comments first.

I’m back to waiting on Google to integrate searching into their reader.





Negotiating with Pirates?

1 07 2007

There was a nice post a few weeks ago around a story of a guy that wrote to a release group and asked nicely to have his software pulled from there distribution of cracked software. He was able to make the request because the email to the release group was in the cracked titles NFO. The story ends nicely with the RG agreeing to stop distributing the software. The whole conversation was very civilized.

It’s no surprise that this grassroots side of the pirating world exists where they seem to listen to and may actually care about the small time developer.

Where the conversation gets interesting, if not predictable, is in the comments to the post. The story had over a thousand diggs and has seen active commenting with the latest on June 26th.  The bickering back and forth about what should be pirated and when, under what circumstances and with what motivation is relentless, although entertaining.

At the end of the day it seems the software is still available in the torrent channels as someone posted in the comments. This doesn’t mean that the RG didn’t pull the software. It just means that once it is in the wild, well… it’s in the wild. Good luck stopping it.

How to stop warez pirates? Ask nicely.

Pirates aren’t evil? (this link points to the software developers posting of the NFO and conversation)