Three Neat New Windows Tools (and Free Coffee)

By  |  Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 10:20 am

Bring a reusable travel mug into your local Starbucks on April 15th, and you’ll get a free brewed coffee. Two things I’ll guarantee: The lines will be long and the baristas won’t be perky. And I’ll bet they’ll try to pawn off a cup of their insipid Pike Place brew on you. (Me, I still prefer Peets…) [Thanks, Tom.]

Shaky Videos? Here’s a Free Fix

We’ve all done it (or at least I have): Clicked the video button on the digital camera hoping for a quick, 60-second oooh and ahhhh video. What we end up with is something shaky, jiggly, and not-so-terrific.

Try out vReveal, a free tool that can whiten and brighten, sharpen, stabilize, and otherwise enhance your video. I’ve played with the new version and like the way it cleans up videos; I mostly like the way it removes the jitters and stabilizes the image. It’s also cool the way it automatically rotates the video for those times when I’ve held the camera sideways.

The free version has some limitations, such as a 3-second watermark and output limited to 640 by 480. The $40 version lets you save in HiDef and adds a few enhancing effects, including giving your video a vintage look, and removing excess pixilation and noise. Me, I could live with the freebie.

Check out a before and after video of a bunch of weird kites on the Oregon coast taken by a crackerjack Bass International videographer. You’ll see how vReveal does a fun side-by-side comparison of the original and modified version in the “after” video.

Agent Ransack on the Job

XP has a dumber-than-dirt Find feature. Windows 7 is faster and smarter than XP, but I don’t think it’s any easier to use, nor is it very flexible. That’s why I encourage you to try the just-released version of Agent Ransack 2010, a super-duper free search tool.

It’s great for run-of-the-mill file searches, Boolean searches, or to find content within files, including text, Microsoft Office, and OpenOffice files. I also like it for weird searches — for instance, when I’m hunting down a specific AVI file I know is larger than 600MB and was created before or after a specific date.

Agent Ransack is a standalone program, so it’s not always running (and using system resources); I have it pinned to my Start menu for quick access. The free version is adequate for most of us, and it runs in all versions of Windows. If you’re a gung-ho searcher, take a look at the $40 version, FileLocator Pro. Its features include a file viewer, search history, and searches in PST and archive files. [Thanks for the reminder, Jean-Marc Kaltenrieder.]

Cool: Alt+Window Drag

Every so often a dialog or control box will sink below the bottom of the screen — along with the fool thing’s OK or Cancel button. You might be able to get Windows Move function to grab the dialog box, but other times you just can’t move it.

TechBite subscriber Neal Kelly told me about AltWindowDrag, a small utility that lets you hold down the Alt key, place the left mouse button on the stuck window, and drag the cursor to move the window anywhere on the screen.

AltWindowDrag needs to be unzipped, but there’s no installation. It’s a simple tool — just click to open and use it. It’s something you won’t use often, but when you do, it’ll put a smile on your face.

[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]



3 Comments For This Post

  1. Mike Sonders Says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Steve! We’ve tried to make sure that the free version of vReveal would be genuinely useful to folks wanting to fix up their shaky videos, so I’m glad you found that to be the case.


    Mike Sonders
    Director of Product

  2. bob Says:

    thanks as always Steve for the awesome advice and spirited articles..

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