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Monday, July 9, 2001
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Alstonlabs.com Win í95/í98 utilities

Astonlabs Windows utilities are improved versions of Windows standard utilities. The standard programs provided by Windows are not really industrious enough for most jobs. The Astonlabs utilities are lean, mean, stable and fast, yet provide more functionality than what you already have. This collection is free for personal use and is a subset of a more-encompassing collection. If you wish to use these in a business environment, you will need to register this set; you will then receive a license for the entire collection. These programs are a Ďproperí freeware ó the developers do not nag you for money nor do they proclaim themselves on screen as unregistered and so on. Here are the basic free utilities:


Notepad: This Windows Notepad replacement is designed for programmers, testers and other power users. It offers a variety of useful functions that are helpful with program and script debugging (e.g. go to line number, commenting), SQL manipulation (e.g. column removal), and teaching (e.g. add line numbers), as well as basic and enhanced text manipulation. Unlike Windows Notepad, the program can automatically invoke your MAPI e-mail program and can have the colour combination controlled. In addition to text capability, this program can double up as an RTF editor with full control of fonts and colour.

File Wiper: This program functions as a file deletion utility. This means when files are deleted they are first overwritten with random ASCII characters. What makes this program more useful is that it can handle multiple files at once. Files that are deleted stay deleted, forever.

HexView: This is a simple hexadecimal file viewer that contains ASCII string search capability. It is handy for file format verification because itís small and fast ó thereís no need to invoke an editor to look at a file when you have no intention to edit it.

PaintAssist: This utility is designed to aid painting programs by adding functionality that most donít have: frame grab from AVI movie files, conversion of WMF vector graphic files to bitmaps, fancier text effects, and transparent image pasting (i.e. combining images together.)

Cookie Eater: This is a simple utility that has only one function ó eating cookie files. It can be optionally be controlled via an ini file (eatcook.ini) if your browser cookies are in a directory other than c:\ windows\ cookies. Just double click and it will happily munch every cookie.

ImgView: This program is an image viewer utility. Its sole purpose is to simply display standard pictures files (e.g. Web graphics like GIF or JPG, or windows files like BMP.) You can drop files on to it (i.e. a desktop icon). Therefore it is command line invoked; it is used by GUIGREP to quickly display image files (this viewer, unlike full-blown paint programs, it is fast to load and display a graphic.

GUIGREP: This is a GUI version of a GREP utility. For those of you unfamiliar with GREP searches, GREP looks for text inside files. (The built-in Ďsearch files or foldersí part of Windows also has GREP-like functionality but is harder to use). The advantage of this program is that the result set remains in a list box that can be double clicked to invoke an editor, plus different types of files will invoke the proper viewer of choice.

Zipper: This is a basic ZIP utility meant to quickly and easily create or open ZIP format (2.04g) files. This program has a basic GUI interface for the casual user and a command line ability for the expert user. The command line ability also means that you can design automation using ZIP archives. What it does not do is that like the big names do it does not nag you for money. Download it from www.alstonlabs.com. The file size is 1370k.


With HDD sizes going up to 80 GB, the space gobbled up by useless files and also the space allocated for Recycle Bin etc has also gone up proportionately. There are utilities provided in Windows that can automatically or manually remove some of the junk. However, these inbuilt utilities do not remove all the garbage. Most of the disk cleaning utilities is costly. But Cleanall is a freeware you can download easily. Basically, Cleanall is a batch file called Cleanup.Bat. It finds and deletes files left behind by the inbuilt Windows utilities including some space-hogging, safe-to-delete "orphan" files that can accumulate in the Temporary Internet Files area and that resist the efforts of the Disk Cleanup Wizard and IEís own "delete files" operations. Cleanup.Bat can get what they miss and more. There are two versions of Cleanup.Bat; they operate similarly, but are constructed differently. The version labelled "For Batch File Novices" is slightly less powerful, but is much easier to understand, edit and modify. If youíre new to batch files or if you donít know which version to use, just use the version labelled "For Batch File Novices." If youíre more familiar with batch files, use the version labelled "For Batch File Experts." Itís more flexible and powerful, but through its use of environmental variables and conditionals, is less obvious in its operation. Both versions are standard batch files - that is, ordinary text files with a ".bat" extension instead of a ".txt" extension. Download the files and then use Notepad or a similar, simple editor to examine the fileís contents to ensure that itís OK to run on your system. Best of all, because itís just a text file, itís easy to change the file to make it behave exactly as you need! Download the file to your hard drive and then double-click it: It will run, and scrubs away extra junk files that probably were left over on your system. Download available from http://www.langa.com/cleanall_bat.htm


It is a simple tool that can simulate key presses, mouse movements and Window commands (maximise, minimise, wait for, etc.) in order to automate any windows based task (or even windowed DOS tasks). AutoIt was primarily designed to assist in automatically installing software that cannot be automatically installed by other means. This is most useful during a PC rollout where hundreds or thousands of client machines need to be automatically installed. However, AutoIt is not limited to software installation and can be used to automate most simple windows tasks. When AutoIt is executed, it reads a specified script file. This script file allows AutoIt to perform a number of functions, these include: Executing programs (Windows applications, DOS commands, etc.), sending keystrokes and mouse clicks (all characters, keyboard layout independent), Window functions (for example, minimising, hiding, restoring, waiting for, activating), simple text clipboard functions, simple registry functions and simple string and variable functions. Scripts can also be compiled into standalone executables using Aut2Exe. Best of all, its small (self contained .exe, no DLLís, no registry entries) and is a freeware. There is also an ActiveX control version of AutoIt called AutoItX. This is a standalone control that can be used to great effect under other scripting languages such as WSH/VBScript. Download it from www.hiddensoft.com/AutoIt

ó Raman Mohan

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