Like many people I’m a Windows user not because I have any particular love for Microsoft’s OS, but rather because it is the best OS overall for what I need to do on a day-to-day basis. Given the resources Microsoft has to throw at Windows development, however, it is amazing how much you can’t do in Windows.
For example, here’s a pretty straightforward thing I’d like to do in Windows — I’d like to set it up so that when I close the lid on my laptop, Windows automatically locks itself. Based on a couple Google searches a lot of people would like to be able to do this.
And yet, as of 2012, there is no version of Windows in which this can be done. Microsoft will let you put a laptop to sleep automatically when you close the lid, and you can always hit the Windows key+L to lock the computer, but there’s no way to configure Windows to lock automatically when the laptop lid is closed.
That, my friends, is f***ing stupid. I did find a couple of people who had created programs that intercepted the lid state and would automatically lock the lid when closed, but none of these were currently available (the website of the most popular utility for doing this was hijacked by hackers a couple years ago and is still compromised).
So if you know of a decent utility for automatically locking a Windows laptop when the lid closes, I’d be glad to hear it. Or maybe Microsoft could actually follow up on a simple, obvious feature that many of its users have requested. Just don’t hold your breath on that.
BounceBack is backup software for Windows machines. I use other software for backing up important data, but I also want to backup my individual machine so when the hard drive in my laptop eventually fails I can minimize downtime.
BounceBack will create an image of your hard drive on an external drive, so if your hard drive dies or suffers other problems, you should be able to boot off of the external drive without losing anything. The software supports continuous backups, “timed version” backups like Apple’s Time Machine does, AES 256-bit encryption, etc.
A very nice toolset when what you really need is a rolling backup of everything on a particular machine.
For a personal project, I needed a program that would track daily bandwidth utilization on a few Windows laptops I use. So far, Bandwidth Monitor seems to be the best choice with one caveat — it does cost $19.95 to register after the 30 day trial period.
There are freeware bandwidth monitors for Windows available and I tried a few of them, but they tended to be wildly inaccurate in their reporting of bandwidth usage.
I really prefer Ubuntu to Windows, but the reality is most of the time I’m stuck using Windows. One of the things that is ridiculously stupid in Windows as far as I’m concerned is program launching.
Launchy is a free Silverlight-style program launcher for Windows. It indexes all the programs in the Start bar as well as bookmarks and a bunch of other stuff (you can also tell it to index specific directories and subdirectories).
Type ALT-Space to bring up Launchy, and then type in the first few letters of the application you want to launch. Launchy will show you what it thinks you want to launch. It gets it right pretty much all the time from my experience. If it is consistently guessing wrong, it is fairly easy to make Launchy understand which client you want to start when you type Mail, for example.
It has some nice plugins and more advanced features, but I’ve never find those functions as seamless as they are in something like GnomeDo which does the same thing in Ubuntu. But it does rock as a program launcher and keeps me from having to muck around the impenetrable Start bar.
BTProx is an open source application for Windows that will automatically lock your Windows Desktop if your bluetooth-enabled cellphone is no longer nearby,
It locks on one of your Bluetooth devices which are paired to the the machine. When you walk away from the computer the device is disconnected and the computer is locked after timeout. It is possible to run a single application together with the lock. This application may be your favorite script dismounting network drives, erasing those dirty files from the desktop or anything else. The program sits in Windows tray showing its current status with tray icon and tooltip baloons.
That is an awesome idea. Hopefully someone will come up with something like this for OSX and Linux as well.
Update:BlueProximity for Linux accomplishes the same thing in Linux.