Category Archives: Software

Posts about various useful software (free and/or open source!) for Windows and Linux

Four Steps You Can Follow If Chrome Is Slow To Load On Your Computer

Chrome is an excellent browser, arguably better than any other browser, but there’s no denying that it’s a massive memory hog. No matter how much RAM you have, His Chromeness will spread his enormous footprint and consume as much available RAM as possible. This problem has only gotten worse over time, and if you have 4GB or less RAM on your computer, it’s almost impossible to make Chrome run smoothly.

chrome logo

Unless, you follow these steps. 🙂

Disable/uninstall unnecessary extensions, apps, and plugins

This one is a no-brainer. Go through the list of extensions (chrome://extensions) that you have installed, and uninstall or disable the ones you can live without. Every active Chrome extension and app runs in its own process and consumes memory, hence getting rid of a bunch can make Chrome noticeably leaner.

Disable Extensions

Similarly, go through the plugins (chrome://plugins) list, and disable the bloated ones like Java, Silverlight, VLC, QuickTime, etc. Google will remove support for such plugins from Chrome by the end of this year.

Automatically suspend idle tabs

One big reason for Chrome’s big appetite is its multi-process structure. Basically, Chrome spins off a new process for every tab, extension, and app that you open or install. This helps a lot in making the browser stable (a rogue website or extension won’t take down the entire browser), but it comes at the cost of heavy memory consumption.

the great suspender

You can solve this issue by installing The Great Suspender, a Chrome extension that will automatically hibernate tabs that have been inactive for a certain period (default is 15 minutes). Doing this will release the memory that was used by that tab. You can easily restore the tab’s content by clicking anywhere inside its window.

Let Chrome run in the background

This step won’t help with memory issues, but will help Chrome launch faster and respond better, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Click the menu button (triple line button to the right of the address bar), go to Settings, scroll to the bottom and click on “Show advanced settings…“.  Again scroll to the bottom where you will find an option to let Chrome apps run in the background. Enable it if it isn’t already.

chrome background

Now all you have to do is install an app that can run in the background. There is no dearth of such apps in the Chrome web store.

Run Chrome in Metro Mode (Windows 8 and 8.1)

This step is just for Windows 8 and 8.1 users. The Metro (or Modern, or Windows 8) apps, which are exclusive to these versions of Windows, are allowed to run only in single processes. And the good news is, Chrome can be run as a Metro app, thereby restricting it to just a single process and somewhat cutting down its memory consumption.

Chrome has to be the default browser on your PC for it to run in Metro mode. Open Chrome and select “Relaunch Chrome in Windows 8 mode” from the menu button. If Chrome isn’t your default browser, it will ask you to make it the default at this point.

chrome windows 8 metro

Chrome looks and works exactly the same in Metro mode, but should you wish to go back to desktop mode, you can do so by clicking on “Relaunch Chrome in desktop mode“. 

We all wish Google would work on making Chrome lean and fast like the good old days, but until that happens, the above steps will help you use your favorite browser in peace.

If you have other Chrome fixers in mind, share with us in the comments below!

SugarSync is ditching its free plan. Here are some great alternatives.

SugarSync, one of the earliest and most feature filled cloud storage services, is removing its 5GB free plan. If you’re an existing free SugarSync user and do not want to upgrade to one of their paid plans, we have some great free alternatives for you.


You should switch to Dropbox if…

Dropbox Logo

You want excellent cross-platform compatibility. Much like SugarSync, Dropbox has solid apps for every major operating system except Windows Phone (you can find third-party apps for Windows Phone).

You do not want too much space. Dropbox gives you 2GB of free storage, although you can quickly add mode space by completing few trivial steps, and inviting your friends. (Sign up with my referral link to start with 2.5GB space!)

You want simplicity. A big reason for Dropbox’s popularity was its simple approach to cloud syncing. You get one folder to  put all your stuff and it gets synced across devices and platforms.

Other features: automatic media backups, 30 day file revisions


You should switch to Google Drive if…Google Drive Logo


You use Google’s online services. If you have a Google/Gmail account, you’re good to go for Google Drive.

You want relatively more free space. You get 15GB of free storage from Google, and it’s shared across  Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos. If you don’t get a ton of email and don’t use Google+ Photos, most of that 15GB can be used for your Drive.

You use Google Docs/Spreadsheets/Slides. Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations created in Google Drive do not count towards your free storage.

You use Chrome OS. Google Drive is the only deeply integrated cloud syncing service currently available for Chrome OS, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

You want unlimited photo backups. Technically, this is a feature of Google+ Photos, which, together with Google Drive and Gmail, shares your Google Storage (yeah, very confusing). You can set Google+ Photos to automatically backup your photos in iOS, Android, Chrome OS, and Chrome. Google can automatically resize your photos to 2048px resolution (which is plenty good) so they won’t count towards free storage. You will need a Google+ account, obviously.


You should switch to Microsoft SkyDrive if…SkyDrive Logo


You use Microsoft’s online services. If you have a Microsoft/Outlook/Hotmail/Xbox account, you are already on SkyDrive.

You use Windows and Windows Phone. SkyDrive is integrated deeply into Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone, and has excellent apps available for Windows 8 and below. Non Windows users need not worry – Microsoft also makes good SkyDrive apps for OS X, Android, and iOS.

You use Internet Explorer. SkyDrive syncs IE bookmarks and settings across devices running Windows and Windows Phone.

You use Microsoft Office on the desktop/web. SkyDrive is deeply integrated with Office, particularly Office on the web.

Free storage: 7GB

Other features: automatic media backup on Windows Phone, Android, and iOS.


You should switch to iCloud if…iCloud Logo


You use only Mac OS X and iOS. If you have an Apple account on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you’re likely already using iCloud. iCloud has few configuration options, and silently syncs your bookmarks, app settings, mail, calendar, contacts, recent photos, iWork documents, and more in the background. iCloud has a complementary app for Windows.

Free storage: 5GB

Think of iCloud as a complementary service to your primary cloud syncing app.


You should switch to Ubuntu One if…

Ubuntu One Logo


You use Ubuntu. Ubuntu One is baked into Ubuntu and offers all the usual syncing features. It is essential for using Ubuntu’s Music Store.

Free storage: 5GB (extra space through referrals)

Apps for Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android (besides Ubuntu, of course).


You should switch to Tresorit if…

Tresorit Logo


You want absolute privacy. Tresorit will encrypt your data locally before uploading it to their servers. They can neither read your data nor retrieve it if you lose your password.

Free storage: 5GB (extra space through referrals)

Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS. Windows Phone and Linux coming soon.

Similar services which encrypt your data before uploading to their servers include Wuala and SpiderOak. Besides Dropbox, Wuala and SpiderOak are the only services to currently support most Linux distributions.

Disable Crazy Sounds And Fix Other Annoyances In Avast! Antivirus

Avast is one of the better anti-malware apps available for Windows, but it’s not without its flaws. Thankfully you can rid the program of its annoyances with some easy steps.

Enable automatic program updates

Screenshot avast!_Free_Antivirus_2013-05-03_14-14-02

Avast! will automatically download new virus definitions in the background, but only alert you of program updates by default. Program updates often fix bugs and close security holes, hence should be installed automatically and as soon as possible. To enable it, go to the Updates section in Settings, and choose Automatic update under Program.

Screenshot Settings_2013-05-03_14-14-37

These updates require restarting of your PC, but that shouldn’t be a problem as they are very infrequent.

Disable all sounds

Avast includes a bizarre array of voice alerts that go off every time it successfully or unsuccessfully completes an action, which include anything from updating itself to catching a malware to blocking an infected website. Almost everyone finds them annoying and so will you. To mute Avast, go to Settings > Sounds and uncheck the top option that says Enable avast! sounds.

Screenshot Settings_2013-05-03_14-15-53

Disable all or some of the annoying notifications

Like most anti-malware apps, Avast! displays different notifications/popups for different actions. While not as startling as the sounds, most of these are still very distracting. To banish all Avast notifications forever, turn on Silent/Gaming Mode from the Settings page.

Screenshot Settings_2013-05-03_14-17-53

This will even take care of the sounds if you haven’t turned them off already. However, Silent Mode is not recommended, because it will hide some of the more important notifications. To remove just the useless notifications, go to Settings > Popups, and set the time duration for Info and Update popups (the first two options) to 0.

Screenshot Settings_2013-05-03_14-18-18

You will want to know about warnings and alerts (the next two options), so don’t set their duration to 0. Yes, this is basically a hack to keep the unimportant popups from showing up at all. You can go around disabling different notifications from different areas of the Avast interface – update notifications from the Updates window, notifications for the eight different shields (!) from their own obscure Settings pages (!!) – but that’s an unnecessarily complex process.


The best security apps are like ninjas, working effectively in the background and staying out of your way most of the time. Avast gets the first part right, and with the above steps, you can make it follow the second part as well.

Launch CCleaner Without UAC Prompts [Quick Tip]

If you’re a regular CCleaner user, the UAC prompts which are triggered while launching the app must get to your nerves at times.

Well, there’s good news for you; the latest version of CCleaner (3.19) includes an option to skip the UAC prompts altogether. Follow these steps to enable this option,

  • Upgrade to the latest version of CCleaner (3.19 as of now).
  • Open CCleaner, and go to Options > Advanced. Enable the “Skip User Account Control warning” option.

The UAC prompt will be gone the next time you open CCleaner.

Improve Chrome’s Startup Time By Installing A Background App

Chrome handles most browsing tasks like a champ, but the browser itself can slow down for various reasons. If you’re a Chrome “power user”, you might have noticed that its startup time takes a hit once you have a dozen or so extensions and apps installed.1

chrome background app

Chrome spins off every single app, extension, and tab as a separate process, resulting in a dozen or more processes to launch simultaneously when you start the browser. With every new extension or app, the number of “default” chrome processes increases and so does the startup time.

Thankfully, this problem can be solved by making use of “background apps”, which are unique to Chrome. As you probably guessed from the name, a background Chrome app will keep running in the background, even after you close all the Chrome windows. The obvious benefit of a background app is that it feels more native on your desktop compared to a regular web app. But there’s an added benefit as well – a background Chrome app will keep some of the chrome processes running all the time. So the next time you start Chrome, only a few extra chrome processes will need to be created, resulting in a faster startup. If you miss the good old days when Chrome used to start as fast as Notepad, simply installing a background app will take you back to those days. There are literally no other steps required.

For whatever reason, there aren’t many background apps available in the Chrome Web Store – you can find the few that are available with a simple search. The most popular of the background apps is one which you probably already know about – Google’s Offline Gmail app. If you’re using it, you really didn’t need to read this post. Please stop being furious and enjoy some kitty goodness. 🙂

[1] People using SSDs are unlikely to have this problem, as SSDs are much faster than regular hard disk drives.

Bring the “Reload Image” feature of Firefox and Opera to Chrome

Online images often fail to load when you’re on a slow or flaky connection. Whenever this happens, most browsers (except Firefox, which shows the image title) replace the original image with a broken image icon.

The most obvious way to combat this problem is to reload the webpage, and hope that the image loads that time. Naturally, this solution sucks.

Firefox and Opera handle this issue better with a simple context menu entry. When you encounter a broken image on either of these browsers, simply right-click over it and select the “Reload Image” option. The image will appear magically, without you having to load the entire page again.

Chrome doesn’t have this nifty feature, but what it does have is a plethora of extremely useful extensions that bring almost every missing feature to the awesome browser. To get the above feature in Chrome, you have to install an extension named, why yes, Reload Image! Install this extension now, and the broken images won’t annoy you half as much as before.


Bring Chrome-style Popup Status Bars To Safari And Opera

The status bar of a browser is a quick way to view the destination URL of any hyperlink, but it has little use beyond that. Hence, having it turned on all the time and occupy some vertical screen space isn’t really a good idea.

Chrome was the first browser to introduce an “intelligent” status bar – one that pops up only when it needs to show some browser action. Firefox 4 and Internet Explorer 9 have since followed suit, but Opera and Safari are still stuck with the old style always-on-or-always-off status bars.

popup status bar

Thankfully, both Opera and Safari support extensions, and there’s a different extension available for each browser that introduces the Chrome-style status bar to it.

Safari 5+ users can get the Ultimate Status Bar extension from the Extensions Gallery (you’ll have to search for it, because stupid Apple doesn’t provide a separate page for each extension).

Opera 11+ users should get the Popup Statusbar extension instead.

I have only tested the Safari extension of the two, and it works as advertised. The Opera extension does have a very high rating, so it must be working perfectly well too.

Do note that neither of these extensions won’t automatically remove the old-style status bars, so you will have to do that yourself. Use the Ctrl+/ (Command+/ on OS X) combination in Safari to hide the status bar. In Opera, hit the Menu button on the top left, go to Toolbars, and uncheck the “Status bar” option. Opera’s status bar does have some buttons for Unite, Link, Turbo, and some page viewing options – if you use any of those buttons, better not install the mentioned extension or disable the status bar.

Hone Your Typing Skills With TIPP10

TIPP10 is a cross-platform, open source app that aims to be your touch typing tutor. Like the previously mentioned TypingWeb, TIPP10 throws a series of typing ‘lessons’ at you, with gradually increasing difficulty levels, while helping you out with hints and tips all the time.

I have tested out both the apps, and I much prefer TIPP10 to TypingWeb. First of all, it’s a desktop app, so it’s faster, doesn’t require an account, and is available all the time – Internet or not. Second, TIPP10 senses the characters that you mistype more frequently, and repeats them more during tutorials to get you accustomed. This is a really cool feature, and I have found myself getting more conscious and better with every tutorial.

Once you’ve completed a lesson, TIPP10 displays your score and charts your progress into graphs and other cool visualizations. All your lessons are saved, hence the data aggregates over time and the details add up.

As an added bonus, there’s a bubble- shooter-like game included in which you’ve to type the falling characters before they hit the bottom. You’ll find it under Go > ABC-Game.

Needless to say, TIPP10 is immensely useful for anyone who struggles at touch typing. And believe me, touch typing has its own perks.

Get TIPP10 from here. Windows users may also grab the portable version available at

How To Get The Portable Versions Of Popular DC++ Clients

Direct Connect (DC++) hubs are quite popular for sharing data among logged in users, especially so in residential college networks. A DC++ client is obviously required to tap into such hubs, with the most popular options being the official DC++ client, Strong DC++, and Apex DC++.

While all of the above clients provide perfectly usable Windows installers, did you know that you can actually use them as portable apps too?!

What’s the big deal about portable apps, huh?

Okay, so a portable app does look and work like a normal installed app. From that perspective, it’s really not that different. But! It’s portable, and that’s what magical about it. It won’t add junk registry items to your computer. It’s just one single folder that you can put anywhere (Dropbox!), use on any number of computers, and delete anytime.

Portable apps do have poor system integration, but that hardly matters in the case of DC++ client – all you do with the app is open it, join a hub or three, and share your files like crazy. Absolutely no system integration is necessary.

Get those portables!

We shall be covering more about the awesomeness of portable apps (including the platform) in future posts, but this post is here to help you find portable builds for your favourite DC++ client. So lets get started.

Official DC++

You’ll find all the available DC++ builds on this SourceForge page. Click on the version number (currently 0.782), and download the .zip file from the list. Once downloaded, unzip the folder contents to somewhere on your computer (again, I’d recommend the Dropbox or SugarSync folder, if you use either), and create a shortcut for the DCPlusPlus.exe file on your desktop or taskbar.

Strong DC++

Visit the Strong DC++ files on SourceForge, click on the latest version number (currently 2.42), and get the 32/64 bit .7z file depending on your OS. Rest of the process is same as above. Do make sure that you’ve an archiving app like PeaZip, that can unpack the .7z file.

Apex DC++

Again, say hello to the SourceForge page for Apex DC++. Click on the latest version (currently 1.4.2), and download the ApexDC++_x.x.x_slim.7z file, x.x.x being the version number. The other .7z archives contains the source files, and is not meant for normal users.

Do note that Apex DC++ will add itself to the “Installed Programs” list, allowing you to uninstall it from the Control Panel.

There are, of course, many other DC++ clients, and you can quite possibly find their portable builds with a bit of Googling and searching their SourceForge archives.

Get Quick-fire Information With The Google Talk Guru

UPDATE #2: Good news, it’s working again. Thanks, Lifehacker.

UPDATE: In a recent move to streamline itself, Google has shuttered the entireLabs unit, which includes this particular bot.

If you’re a regular Google Talk user, here’s a useful chat bot that you should add to you chat list now – the Google Talk Guru, straight from the Google Labs. You can “friend” the bot by adding [email protected] to your contact list.

Guru helps you get some specific information like sports results, current weather and forecast, currency conversions, word definitions, etc, just by chatting with it. For example, if you want the weather stats for your city, just initiate a chat with the Guru bot and type “weather <city-name>”. Guru will search Google and almost instantaneously deliver back the stats to you. Not revolutionary, but useful to have nonetheless.

Here’s a list of the queries supported by Guru, along with examples (screenshot taken from its homepage):


I can confirm that most of the stuff works as expected, however Guru is absolutely horrendous when it comes to queries regarding tennis (my favourite sport). You’re in luck if you like football better. Smile

google talk guru

[via Mashable]