Archive for March, 2008

Friday Fun: Who are you going to trick on April Fools?

Trick1April fools day is is just around the corner. It is time to start planning what tricks you will be planting, and who you will be playing them on. 

In my last job, I knew when I walked into work on the 1st of April, I would be greeted by a computer that had been tampered with. It was always fun to figure out how the trick had been planted.

This article will cover some of the tricks that have been played on me, and tricks I have played on others. They are all taken from the Friday Fun articles already shown at Inspect My Gadget.

Tricks covers in this article are

  • Trick Wallpaper Desktop
  • The Start Virus
  • My mouse is doing crazy stuff
  • The infamous Blue Screen of Death(BSOD)

All the tricks are completely harmless and the computer can easily be restored to its original state once the joke is over.

Which one will you pull?

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Easter Fun: Easter eggs for everyone

EggI wish I could give everyone who reads this an easter egg, but it’s just not going to happen. Well not with the kind of easter egg you want anyway.

There are more types of Easter Eggs than just the chocolate variety. They come in many forms. Easter eggs are also the name of hidden features or novelty items found in movies, DVD menus, software, websites and sometimes even hardware.

I have put together a list of some of my favourite software Easter Eggs for your enjoyment. I have tried to select examples from programs that are found on the majority of computers. This way you will be able to try many of them out yourself.

We are going to look at eggs in the following programs:

  • Pinball
  • Solitaire
  • Nullsoft Winamp
  • Google.com
  • Notepad

Read on for your eggs…

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Friday Fun: Video or Audio startup practical joke

Difficulty: 2.5

NelsonWhile most how-to articles you will find on this site will help you to be more productive, it’s sometimes fun to plant a practical joke on your work mates computer. You’ll have them pulling their hair out and screaming at their computer while you work quietly nearby. 

None of these articles will damage your computer or expose you to viruses, and they will all be easy to revert the computer back to it’s previous state, at least, after a few laughs.

I saw funny video this week on YouTube of a guy logging onto a computer in a lab situation. Someone had planted some weird sheep sex startup sound on his computer that played at startup. This caused him a whole lot of stress and embarrassment. I thought it would be worth looking at a few options of how this can be done.

The result:

  • The desktop will appear untouched.
  • A video or sound sample will play at startup without any user input. 
  • Both methods will take around 30 seconds to return their computer back to it’s fully working state.
  • Using method 2, the victim will be able to close it down quickly once they realise what is going on. 

Maybe a sex video or audio sample isn’t the way to go. It might be more suitable to play some Barbara Streisand or Michael Bolton.

Read on to find out how to make this happen, and how to restore the system quickly before you get decked.

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Windows Software: Protect your computer with Bluelock

BluelockHave you ever left your computer logged in when you have had to race off to a meeting or lunch? I used to leave it logged in. One day my boss questioned me about an email sent from my computer, asking her if I could have babies with her. A colleague had played a joke on me. I soon learned to lock my computer whenever I was not in front of it.

Locking a computer is a fairly simple task. The Windows+L key combination will lock your computer instantly. It is still easy to forget though, so why not automate it with a little help from Bluetooth!

Bluelock is a small program that runs in your task tray. It detects if you (your phone) has moved away from your computer. If Bluelock can no longer find your phone because it is out of range, it will automatically lock your computer. When you return, you can type in your password, knowing that your computer was safe during your trip.

There is no installation required on either your phone or your computer. In fact, no software is needed on your phone at all. All that is required is Bluetooth on both your computer and your phone. I found it to be very reliable in my testing in both XP and Vista.

Many devices still have an older version of Bluetooth in them which has a range of 10 metres. Unfortunately, newer Bluetooth signals can reach up to 100 metres on a good day, so for this program to work, you will need to be more than 100m away from your computer.

Bluelock is available for free from Wuuls Website.


Windows Software: Text to speech with DSpeech

DspeechA few weeks ago, we looked at Ultra HAL Text to Speech reader. It had the ability to read out dialog boxes and to convert text documents to spoken word in the form of a wav file. It did the job reasonably well, but it had a few bugs and the reading of dialog boxes became annoying.

Since I wrote about it, I have come across another program that can convert your text files to MP3 files, and a whole lot more. DSpeech is a text to speech converter which can convert a wide variety of files to MP3, WAV or Ogg formats.

What makes DSpeech really special is that it supports PDF files, Microsoft doc files and web pages. This is much better than other programs as most I have come across that only support txt files and many of them cost money.

Another stand out point of this program is the ability to change the sound output quality. This allows the voices already on your computer to sound better, as most programs default them to a low setting. I like it that you can see the character talking up the top right of the screen. This can be turned on and off, but it is nice to look at, as each voice has its own individual face.

DSpeech is also capable of converting the audio from your microphone into text. There may be other programs that are better suited for this task, but it is nice to have all these features in the one package.

There are links on the site to some nice voices I had not come across before. They sound almost human and are quite understandable.

There is no installation required so you can try DSpeech out and delete it without any risk of damaging your system.

Get your copy for free from Dimio’s Tools. (Donations are welcome)