[AI] Towards bettering the digital life

Vikas Kapoor dl.vikas at gmail.com
Sun Jul 29 20:20:26 EDT 2007


Towards bettering the digital life 
          Tools help us organise the downloaded resources                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                                      
     

Generally referred to

 as download managers, these tools

help us download files several 

times faster than the conventional

 browser-based downloads.

 This edition of NetSpeak features a few tools that could enhance your digital life productivity.

Downloading made easy

Downloading resources from the net is a common task among netizens. To help you download and archive the downloaded materials efficiently, several tools
are in place. 

These tools, generally referred to as download managers, help us download files several times faster than the conventional browser-based downloads. Also,
they help us organise the downloaded resources in specified folders automatically. As regular readers of this column would know, NetSpeak has already featured
several such tools (like DL-Expert, StarDownloader and the like) in the past.

While traditional download managers are quite effective in downloading resources from a Web or FTP server, they fail to download resources from the new
Web 2.0 services like YouTube or free file storage services such as Rapidshare. So, we have to hunt for a generic download manager that can download not
only from the usual web links but also from the new emerging services. The rich media downloader, Orbit, is one such tool that could come handy for this
purpose.

Apart from providing the usual features (such as resuming the disconnected download task, accelerated download with multi-threaded downloading), Orbit comes
bundled with features for downloading from social content storage/sharing sites such as YouTube, GoogleVideo, Pandora Radio and so on. 

To download from a video-sharing site, first play the video to be downloaded; then, at the top of the movie window, you will find Orbit's icon. Just click
on this icon, Orbit will fetch the video URL and start downloading it. 

                 Advantage 

Yet another advantage of this free, open-source, download tool is its facility to download metalink downloads. Many popular web resources are available
on multiple servers (such as Web, FTP, BitTorrent). However, we fail to take advantage of this facility as we can download only from one of the available
sources, with conventional downloading tools. If the downloading from a source fails due to some server error, we cannot move to another source and resume
the download process automatically. Metalink is a solution to this issue. 

Metalink technology allows a resource provider to combine all the download links available to the resource into a text file in a standard format, readable
by a download manager. This format enables the publisher to incorporate error correction facility also. So, for a metalink resource, we get the link to
a 'metalink' file and the download manager with metalink support does the rest. Here, the advantage is that the download tool can switch to the next source
in the list, in case the current one fails. For more details, access here: 
http://www.metalinker.org/implementation.html
and  here: http://en.wikipedia. org/ wiki/Metalink.

                 File management tools 

For managing files, Windows users generally use Windows Explorer that comes along with it. Windows Explorer, albeit a good tool, has several shortcomings.
For instance, it is very difficult to spot the folders that occupy maximum space on one's hard drive from a single window. Also, if one wishes to find
the different locations, where files of a particular type (say MP3) are distributed across the hard disk, this is not possible with Windows Explorer. 

The free file management tool WinDirStat (http://windirstat.info/) could help you overcome such shortcomings. The software scans your disk and displays
all the folders with the share of space occupied by each of them. Alongside each  folder/file, a coloured rectangle (with the area proportional to the
size of the folder/file) is also seen. 

In addition, the program provides an extension list that helps you easily spot the distribution of files of a specific type. 

Yet another folder/file management tool worth a try is Folder Scout (
http://www.folderscout.com/)
, a software meant for accessing folders/files on your desktop with ease. Once the program is installed/set-up properly, you can access any folder or file
on your local storage by just typing down a part of its name. As soon as y ou start entering a string, the system displays all the folders/files with this
string in their names. 

                 Floppy Office 

A variety of freeware office suites are available on different flavours (Open Office, Portable Office and the like). Floppy Office (
http://www.xtort.net/office-and-pr oductivity/floppy-office/
 ) is one such freeware in this genre. This suite of programs that can be placed on a floppy or USB stick comes bundled with a wide range of office productivity
tools (like Rich Text -RTF- editor, mail client, spreadsheet program, PDF creator and so on). Besides this product, 'Xtort' hosts lots of valuable, free
applications. Regular visit to this service could fetch you rich dividends.

                 Efficient Googling 

Having reasonably good Google search skills is quite essential for collecting information. This column has already featured several tips for enriching your
Google skills. In this regard, you may go through the page "Unofficial Google Advanced Search," where you can find simple description of various Google
commands/advanced search URLs (http://www.jwebnet. net/advGoogleSearch.html).

http://www.thehindu.com/2007/07/30/stories/2007073054301600.htm

Vikas Kapoor,
MSN Id:dl_vikas at hotmail.com, Yahoo+Skype Id: dl_vikas,
Mobile: (+91) 9891098137.


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