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Saturday January 23, 2016

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ghacks interviews freewaregenius

Martin over at has a sweet interview with Samer, who runs/ran -- two great freeware sites that have always been supportive of DonationCoder:

posted by mouser donate to mouser - January 23, 2016, 06:07:00 AM
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Sunday January 03, 2016


NANY 2016 Roundup

For the last 10 years on the site we run a friendly event called "NANY" (New Apps for the New Year), where invite forum visitors to release a new free program on the first of the new year, to celebrate the new year.
We typically get a variety of entries -- some are genuinely useful tools designed to be shared widely, and some are programming exercises for new users.

This year was a fairly low-key affair and we didn't promote the event outside of the forum -- but we still got some fun entries.  Here's a roundup of the submissions:

These are in no particular order, but I'll start with the three utilities I released:

Automatic Screenshotter
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42090.0
Official web page and download: http://www.donationc...enshotter/index.html
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What it does:
Automatic Screenshotter runs in the background grabbing screenshots of desktop or active window at predefined intervals, and keeping the last N copies, with some hopefully smart options to avoid duplicates, add exceptions, etc. The intention is to be a fairly lightweight primitive "backup" tool, like an airplane black box, so that in a case of last resort (app or system crash) you can go back and see what was on your screen at a certain time in the past.
Key features:
  • It's made to run in the background, taking screenshots of either the currently active foreground window, or the entire desktop.
  • You can configure how often the screenshots are taken, and how they are named.  The naming can include putting them into subdirectories and can be based on the data,time, and application name.
  • It will automatically prune older screenshots based on limits you set regarding screenshot age, # screenshots to keep, and total file space you want to use.
  • It will also try to be smart about avoiding saving multiple screenshots when the window (desktop) contents don't actually change, with some configurable tolerances, to minimize disk space used.
  • It can also be told about certain applications to never capture, or alternatively a small list of applications that it should only ever capture.
  • It can be configured to ignore capture when your pc has been idle for a certain amount of time, or when screensaver is running, or when full-screen games are running.
  • You can also manually trigger a capture with a hotkey.
  • You can also toggle capturing on-and-off easily from system tray menu.
  • Screenshots are saved as standard png files.

Mousers Media Browser
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42114.0
Official web page and download: http://www.donationc...iaBrowser/index.html
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What it does:
Mouser's Media Browser is a small utility for browsing directories containing images.  
Key features:
  • Lots of viewing modes to find the one that works best for you.
  • Option to show recursive contents of folder tree (with search filtering and sorting)
  • There are excellent powerful free image viewers/browsers (irfanview, xnview, etc.), and it would be foolish to try to compete with these.  My aim here is to make a more streamlined, focus helper utility.
  • It was designed to be bundled with other programs to provide a nice way to browse image directories.

Lucid Dream Inducer
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42140.0
Official web page and download: http://www.donationc...amInducer/index.html
What it does:
Lucid Dream Inducer is at core a simple little utility to play a customizeable chime and voice file in the middle of the night to try to nudge you into Lucid Dreaming. The basic idea is that you would enable it when you head to sleep, and some hours later it will play some chimes to semi-wake you  and then a voice recording to remind you to try to be aware that you are dreaming. There are options to let you easily choose which chimes and voice messages to (randomly) play at what volume. I include a few but really you should make your own. You can choose how long after you head to sleep the first episode should occur, and then the number and delay between subsequent episodes.
Key features:
  • Nice checklist of chimes and messages you want the program to randomly choose from.
  • Easy to add your own message and chime files.
  • Configure random element to the timing of messages to avoid complete predictability; configure primary and secondary schedules.
  • Customize volumes of chimes and messages.
  • Log helps you identify which sounds worked for you after the fact.

Text Overlay Tool
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=41759.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
This app creates a transparent window that stays on screen on top of other windows and displays the contents of any text file.  If it detects markdown, it will display it formatted in markdown.

NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42136.0
Official web page and download: see post above
What it does:
This app sits in the System Tray, and tries to detect newly installed applications that put an icon in the system tray. When detected, it sets that to always show, stores the application name in a list, and waits for the next application to be added.  It was written to solve an extremely annoying and confusing behavior in recent versions of MS windows, where application system tray icons are hidden by default, and must be manually enabled, which can easily lead to applications running in the background without being noticed by the user.  It is a complicated process to circumvent, and this program attempts to do just that.

NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42128.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
Tiny, tray-based utility that gives you the option to shutdown, restart, switch user, log off, lock, sleep, or hibernate your computer.  I use Microsoft's Remote Desktop (RDP) a lot for the various computers and VMs that I deal with.  RDP works great but has one drawback and that is, for whatever reason Microsoft has, the normal shutdown and reboot commands are missing from the Start Menu when you're working on a computer remotely.  Yes, you can use the shutdown command via the commandline or you can click the taskbar and press Alt-F4, etc, but not everybody is comfortable using the commandline or remembers that hotkey.  Hence, this simple utility.

QuickJump 2016
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42086.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
QuickJump 2016 is a FREE, fast, and easy file/program launcher. It can be used 2 ways, put QuickJump2016.exe in any folder and run it. It will list all files and folders in a menu so you can just click and it will open/run. Or you can put QuickJump2016.exe in a folder and create shortcuts to it passing a path to files or shortcuts. It will list all of the files in that path. See QJ Readme.txt for more info.

Move Aside Please
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42131.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
Many times we need to keep a small window of a program always on top of the desktop screen. This program may show network connection, mail status, auto updating messages etc. Now when we are working on some full screen program like editor, browser etc., this small window block the view of the part of the editor or browser. Instead of closing or removing the small window,  this tool moves it aside from view when you hover the mouse cursor on it. This way you can easily view the blocked part of the editor or browser.

NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42088.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
txtproc is a text processing tool, similar to my TIMU. It currently comes without a GUI though, i.e. it is just a command line tool at the moment. It is a completely new implementation. Compared to TIMU, its most interesting features are:
  • It works on Linux as well as Windows (and probably OS X as well)
  • It can be used in a pipeline to do multiple text manipulations in a row
  • It has a better understanding of text. It knows words and sentences. E.g. "hello,world" are two words in txtproc, but only one in TIMU.
  • It has most of TIMU's text processing functions, some new one's which TIMU doesn't have, and even one or two which were requested for TIMU but I never added.

Minecraft Places
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42132.0
Official web page and download: see link above
What it does:
Store the coordinates of places you visit in Minecraft in a searchable database to find your way back to your base, a dungeon, a stronghold, and/or other places of your interest.
  • Portable enabled.
  • Keep notes about each place.
  • You may also edit/copy a place and change what is needed.
  • You may also delete places you no longer need.
  • Search the places. (Hint: Right click search bar for search type.)

wjamoe's 2016 FARR alias collection
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42116.0
What it does:
I asked wjamoe to collect his recent aliases for Find and Run Robot and collect them as a kind of meta-NANY submission.

NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42079.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
Iconus is a simple icon viewer.
  • Designed to be Quick and Easy
  • View icons at 16x16 or 32x32
  • Easily and quickly switch between libraries
  • Common Libs menu:  Keep a library of often used icon libraries
  • History List: Keep history of viewed libraries
  • Open the library in your favourite icon library editor
  • Open icon libraries in Iconus via commandline, drag-n-drop, file-browse
  • Get detailed information on each icon in the library
  • Easily extract any icon in the library
  • Easily fetch the icon's ID

win resize keys
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42018.0
Official web page and download: see post above
What it does:
Lets you resize you window for multiple side by side monitors using only keyboard short cuts.
win resize visual.png

PINCode Grapher
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=41999.0
Official web page and download: see post above
What it does:
Helps you remember your PIN with the help of a chart.

Quick Bible Command Line Utility
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42101.0
Official web page and download: see post above
What it does:
Let's you search for bible verses.  Works on windows/linux/mac but requires PHP with the pdo_sqlite extension installed.

Skully the Training Virus
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42138.0
Official web page and download: see post above
What it does:
This is completely benign "Training Virus" that was written to be used during a "Human Firewall" Security Training program. Its primary purpose is to scare the shit out on the user - after they have engaged in some foolish behavior - and then it displays a series of text segments that give a rough outline of what they just did wrong. It will not cause any actual harm to the pc.

YouTube Downloader Shell
NANY post: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=42124.0
Official web page and download:
What it does:
This is a gui wrapper around the well known "youtube-dl" tool (a command-line program to download videos from and a few more sites).

posted by mouser donate to mouser - January 03, 2016, 01:16:00 AM
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Sunday December 27, 2015

N.A.N.Y. 2016 Announcement

Since 2007 we have held an annual event that we call NANY (New Apps for the New Year), where we ask the coders who hang out on DonationCoder to create some new piece of free software and share it with the world on January 1st of the new year.

NANY is really the funnest thing we do on this site, and it's one of the few times we can all play together.  There are no winners or losers, it's simply a celebration of programming and creating new software and sharing it with the world.  You can target any operating system (desktop or mobile) or even make a web-based tool.  It can be a game, utility, large application, whatever.  DC takes makes no claim on your software, it's just an event to encourage you to share a creation with others.  Best of all, everyone who participates gets a free commemorative coffee mug.


Browse previous year entries here: http://www.donationc...ndex.php?board=210.0

posted by mouser donate to mouser - December 27, 2015, 03:32:00 AM
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Saturday December 26, 2015

Re: Micro Reviews of Board Games From a Non-Competetive Perspective

This christmas day we played two great board games that I would highly recommend to casual gamers.  The first was "Tokaido":

Tokaido is a very casual, stress-free, beautiful board game where players travel along a famous road in Japan and choose from a few basic activities.  The activities are things like eating at a restaurant, visiting a souvenir shop, etc.  It's a very relaxing experience but with real strategic elements, and it was enjoyed by a new gamer who was scared of complicated rules.  It's a very atmospheric experience and feels like traveling in a foreign land.  Perfect for non-gamer families.

I'm not sure it would hold up to dozens of plays, but highly recommended as a gaming experience for a non-boardgame family looking for a relaxing but engaging experience.  The art design is incredibly elegant.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - December 26, 2015, 08:58:00 AM
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Re: Micro Reviews of Board Games From a Non-Competetive Perspective

The second board game we played this christmas day was "Evolution".
(note: we actually played with the FLIGHT expansion).

I have played this game before with my nieces (12 and 20), with great success.

This is a game where players evolve species and struggle to feed them (or each each other).

There are few games I've played that do as good a job of capturing an engaging theme as this one..  It is a wonderful experience that everyone I've played with is captured by and quickly embraces.
Very fun to see how your creatures struggle to compete with each other.  We had some great moments in the last game where a bird evolved to become a carnivore predator and killed off a bunch of us and then quickly found itself in the unfortunate position of having to canibalize its owners other species.  Great fun.

This is more of a gamer's game, with a higher learning curve, but one that is extremely engaging and thematic.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - December 26, 2015, 08:58:00 AM
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Wednesday December 23, 2015

Japanese (?) character readers - please tell me what my sake mug set says!

please help me solve this mystery.  i have a sake set and all around the main container and the little cups are writings.
i'd love to know what they say.  so many characters!!
i am assuming it's japanese but could be chinese -- correct me if i'm wrong!


Click here to read the full post and comment..

posted by mouser donate to mouser - December 23, 2015, 04:48:00 PM
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Thursday December 03, 2015

More Micro Reviews of Board Games From a Non-Competetive Perspective

I'm going to try to add more small board/card game recommendations as we come up to the holidays, in case people are looking for stocking stuffers, etc..

Today's Micro-review is for the 2-player-only card game "Lost Cities":


Lost Cities is highly recommended on board game geek as a fairly casual and easy-to-learn, but strategically rich, two-player card game.

I found the recommendations were well warranted.  We learned it during the first game and were excited to replay it immediately after.  Gameplay is simple and fast.  We were both quite intrigued by the strategic decisions during the game and felt compelled to talk about them afterwards -- always the sign of a good game.

Gameplay is simple and fast.  I would definitely recommend this to couples looking for a different kind of card game to add to their collection.

Click to read more reviews/recommendations..

posted by mouser donate to mouser - December 03, 2015, 11:51:00 AM
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Saturday November 28, 2015

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Re: Hidden Netflix Marathon Gems to Watch Online

The Great British Baking Show

Very sweet british amateur baking competition -- everyone is nice to each other.

See also here for more info.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - November 28, 2015, 09:09:00 PM
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Tuesday November 24, 2015


A Cabinet of Infocom Curiosities

If you’re coming into this relatively new, or even if you need a little brush-up, let me state: Steve Meretzky has earned the title of “Game God” several times over, having been at the center of the early zenith of computer games in the 1980s and persisting, even thriving, in the years since. He continues to work in the industry, still doing game design, 35 years since he started out as a tester at what would become Infocom.

But more than that – besides writing a large amount of game classics in the Interactive Fiction realm, he also was an incredibly good historian and archivist, saving everything.


When we finally connected during production (as it turned out, we lived within 10 miles of each other), Steve showed me his collection of items he had from the days of Infocom (which spanned from roughly 1981 through to the company’s eventual closing and absorption by Activision in the early 1990s).

posted by Deozaan donate to Deozaan - November 24, 2015, 04:21:00 PM
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Friday November 06, 2015

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Blog Essay: Reconsider - Startups Don't Need to Disrupt the Universe

Long interesting essay ranting against the culture of startups that are trying to "disrupt" the universe, and in favor of a gentler slower approach.

Part of the problem seems to be that nobody these days is content to merely put their dent in the universe. No, they have to fucking own the universe. It’s not enough to be in the market, they have to dominate it. It’s not enough to serve customers, they have to capture them. In fact, it’s hard to carry on a conversation with most startup people these days without getting inundated with odes to network effects and the valiance of deferring “monetization” until you find something everyone in the whole damn world wants to fixate their eyeballs on.


posted by mouser donate to mouser - November 06, 2015, 09:16:00 AM
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Friday October 30, 2015

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Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes!

Disclaimer: mouser is currently bugging me in chat to post something here and bring this game to everyone attention, and since I am the ever-benevolent me, I decided to go along with it. (That, and it is a very damn good game!) :-*

Link to game website
Link to Steam Store page

To be precise, mouser was linking me to a certain review, but personally I'd like to talk all of you into not looking at it. Instead, I'm going to describe the game in as basic a way as possible; to do anything more would simply ruin the curve where you first meet the game, then explore its intricacies and finally smash your face into the wall trying to find the right way to tackle that particular bomb.... ah fine, I digress.

This game can generally be put into the 'party game' genre: you are supposed to play it with multiple people. These people can be in the same room, although I've personally played it with other people through skype, teamspeak and/or mumble.

At that, it is an asymmetric game that only requires one person to actually own the game; this person is the one who will be interacting with the bomb, the so-called defuser. There's bonus fun to be had if there's an Oculus involved, but it plays completely fine with the mouse or gamepad. They describe the bomb, decide which modules (which are basically mini-games that have no relation to eachother) need to be tackled, and then spend all their time followin the instructions of the experts in order to not die. Easy peasy!

All other players are the so-called experts, and all they have to go on is a bomb manual as well as a pen and some paper which they will need in order to write down notes. There can be one experts, there can be five; some bombs can actually be more difficult with more people, whereas others are simply too difficult with too few people. During the game, the defuser will describe things on the bombs, and the experts will use this information to as quickly as possible figure out the instructions that the defuser needs to follow in order to disarm the bomb. This is not as easy as it sounds: many of the instructions are confusing as hell, and the nature of some games preys on misunderstandings and other communication mishaps!

This game has a very good tutorial. Actually, it does not amount to much in a practical sense, but the levels themselves gradually increase the difficulty, both by introducing you to new modules step-by-step, but also by removing the room for error as well as lowering the time limit. You essentially teach yourself how to play the game! And because the game could end up too easy (hah), the game also throws some curve balls for the defuser to work with as the difficulty increases. Think of environmental distractions as well as special bomb modules that exist for no reason other than to increase the pressure on the defuser even more.

As a whole, everyone I know really enjoys playing this game. Sure, all the experts have is a manual and pen and paper, but the fact they do not know the bigger picture and are always low on time without being able to see the clock is what gets their adrenaline pumping something fierce. As for the defuser.. suffice to say that this game (ab)uses plenty of auditory cues in ways that even an suspenseful action movie would have trouble contending with.

I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. There will definitely be some fighting and laughter as a result of people screwing up, but that is a part of the game... although the finish line and 10 seconds left on the clock can make a final trivial mistake really hard to swallow!

(P.S.: I obviously own the game. If people want to experience it as an expert, I'll gladly play with them!)

posted by worstje donate to worstje - October 30, 2015, 09:40:00 AM
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Monday October 19, 2015

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Nirsoft's Antivirus Hall of Shame

Martin over at ghacks writes today about a recent essay posted on the Nirsoft site, discussing the issue of false positives, and ranking antivirus tools.

False positives are when an antivirus tool flags a program as being a possible malware when it really isn't.   They can be a huge pain for small developers, creating unnecessary fear among users.  And some antivirus companies are outrageously irresponsible about these kinds of detections, not explaining to the user the difference between a known malware and a complete half-assed guess about something they don't understand.

We've talked a LOT about this issue on the DonationCoder forum over the last 10 years, and have been bit by these lazy antivirus coders on more than one occasion.

Anyway, the nirsoft post goes into some detail ranking antivirus tools according to their false positives.

Full Nirsoft essay:

(see also the ghacks summary:

I do think it's worth repeating what I've said many times -- I don't expect the antivirus tools to be 100% right all the time -- I understand that sometimes they want to be better safe than sorry.  But the thing is, if you want to tell a user that you have found a file that you haven no experience with, and it has some patterns that remind you of something similar you may have seen before which might be a malware, but might not, fine, i have no problem with that -- TELL THE USER WHAT YOU KNOW AND TELL THEM HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION AND TELL THEM HOW TO LET YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE WRONG.

Just do not go throwing up a siren telling the user that malware was found in some program if you aren't damn sure it has been.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - October 19, 2015, 03:16:00 PM
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The Hostile Email Landscape

There was an interesting post on slashdot today about how we've entered an age where only the big players in email domain hosting can reliably expect their emails to be received and not discarded as untrustworthy.

While it's not *yet* impossible to just run a mail server from your local domain, it is becoming increasingly likely that if you do, some recipients will have your mail automatically filed in their spam folders or outright rejected.

To me this is just another consequence of the big players slowly exerting their dominance over the rest of us.. there is just no incentive for them not to do this, and every incentive for them to make it harder and harder for small players to coexist with them.

As we consolidate on just a few major email services, it becomes more and more difficult to launch your own mail server. From the article: "Email perfectly embodies the spirit of the internet: independent mail hosts exchanging messages, no host more or less important than any other. Joining the network is as easy as installing Sendmail and slapping on an MX record. At least, that used to be the case. If you were to launch a new mail server right now, many networks would simply refuse to speak to you. The problem: reputation. ... Earlier this year I moved my personal email from Google Apps to a self-hosted server, with hopes of launching a paid mail service à la Fastmail on the same infrastructure. ... I had no issues sending to other servers running Postfix or Exim; SpamAssassin happily gave me a 0.0 score, but most big services and corporate mail servers were rejecting my mail, or flagging it as spam: accepted my email, but discarded it. GMail flagged me as spam. MimeCast put my mail into a perpetual greylist. Corporate networks using Microsoft's Online Exchange Protection bounced my mail."


posted by mouser donate to mouser - October 19, 2015, 01:02:00 PM
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