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Boris Masis - Killer Apps

Computer hardware continues to advance year after year. As stated by Moore's Law, the number of transistors on a chip will double every 18-24 months. We will continue to buy faster and faster hardware which will make our daily computer tasks a little faster.

The Killer Apps page lists exemplary and little known about software applications which take advantage of our existing systems to add truly useful functionality. It is preferable for a killer app to be freeware, however this is not a restricting factor.

Here are my requests for killer apps:

  • a plugin to run winamp vis plugins full-screen on dual monitors
  • a nice high bandwidth video conferencing application using a modern video compression codec such as VP3

Internet Related

DU Meter is a must for power users who engage in many file transfers. DU Meter is a little "always on top window" that will keep track of your current bandwidth usage. It is very handy to monitor connections to detect trouble or benchmark speed. (shareware)

AIM+ adds several extremely useful features to AOL's popular instant messaging progam. It keeps a history of all your conversations with buddies and removes AOL's intrusive advertising. Simple and effective. (freeware)

ServU FTP is an efficient and fast win32 ftp server. If you have an "always on" internet connection an FTP server is extremely useful. Running a server on your machine allows you to access all the files on your machine remotely from any internet connected computer in the world through the browser standard FTP protocol. ServU is very powerful and yet user friendly. It is possible to setup multiple user accounts, administrator access, ip check, etc. (shareware)

Akin to ServU FTP Remote Administrator runs a server on your "always on" computer and internet connection. However unlike ServU FTP logging into your remote administrator server will not only allow you to access files from a remote computer but it will create a virtual window within which you can see the actual screen of your computer at home. The speed of remote administrator is incredible. Cable to Cable and on a LAN the server runs virtually in real time. It remains usable even when accessing from a dial up connection (considerably faster than competitors PCAnywhere and VNC). (30 day shareware)

Flashget makes big claims of speeding up file transfers up to 500%. In reality the claims are not too far off, and its not magic nor tweaking TCP/IP settings. Flashget opens multiple http or ftp connections for a file that you wish to download. Web servers often ration bandwidth to give every user an equal share. Internet Service providers often do the same. Flashget splits up files into little sections and downloads all these sections simultaneously. Thus you are given a share of bandwidth for each of those sections. Multiply the number of active connections by the "bandwidth fair share" and voila, top speed downloads even when web servers are in high demand. Flashget also serves as a download manager allowing you to resume file downloads which is excellent for dial up users. (free, banner supported)

Web Accessories for Internet Explorer 5 is a collection of 8 additions to IE straight from Microsoft. The most useful of these is the ability to search the engine of your choice straight from the IE address bar by using a predetermined key to prefix the search phrase. For example "m the most dangerous game" would search IMDB for "the most dangerous game." It is difficult to gauge the incredible usefulness of this feature until you try it. (freeware) Here are the presets I use (you can also change the search engine used when no prefix key is added):

m ->  (imdb movie search)
g ->  (google search)
i ->  (google image search)
d -> (google newsgroup search)
l-> (google "I'm Feeling Lucky" search)
e -> (everything2 search)

The promise of internet telephony has always been just that, a promise. It has taken the work of an independent developer to bring what we've always wanted; free internet calling. Creative VoIP Blaster is a device that sits between your computer and your telephone, and these are the drivers that make it shine. The Blasters allow one user to call another one with the same device over the internet. Both parties use a normal phone to talk, but instead of the voice traveling over phone lines, it travels to the computer via USB and then over the internet. Because the devices do hardware signal processing the voice quality is excellent, identical to normal phone conversations. Creative's drivers for the product do not work with internet connection sharing, LANs, etc. Fobbit phone is a user-written driver that eliminates these shortcomings to allow for free anywhere in the world, crystal clear calling. And now some words of advice;

1. the software requires very careful setup, follow all steps exactly (I recommend using tray it! to run Fobbit phone minimized in the system tray)
2. a separate phone must be dedicated for internet calling
4. both calling and caller computers should be on continually
3. broadband connections are optimal for 24hr internet connectivity, although bandwidth requirements are low enough for dial-up connections.


VirtualDub is a super fast video editing and capture tool. VirtualDub is really a one of a kind program. It can replace many faulty Video Capture applications that come with TV Tuner cards. It will allow you to do real time video and audio capture to a chosen format such as DivX. In terms of linear video editing VirtualDub is the king. You will be able to apply video filters, recompress video, cut out or add sections, etc. Overall a very nice and powerful program. Learning VirtualDub will take some time, but the experience is worth it. The application is irreplaceable. (freeware)

AmCap is a very unknown utility. Its function is very simple. It is the fastest application to display video source from pc video cameras. It is not very good for video capture because it does not allow custom codec selection, but for simple on screen display AmCap will give you the highest frame rates at every resolution. AmCap is built up from Microsoft's VidCap utility but provides several additions such as always on top mode as well as an ability to remove the menus for a small and fast video window. (freeware)

Total Recorder adds much functionality to replace the very weak windows sound recorder. This sleek and fast program will allow you to record sound from the microphone as well as any windows application. Total Recorder allows the use of custom audio codecs such as DivX audio (WMA) or MP3 to which it compresses in real-time. If you need to do any sort of sound recording, this is the program to have. (function limited demo)

The task of managing a good looking mp3 collection is a somewhat difficult one. I organize my collection by "Artist - Title.mp3" However, a lot of the files I download break this convention. The task is further complicated when viewing a winamp playlist in which file information is derived from the ID3 tags not file name. So in come these three killer apps. They will allow you to get those file names to look the way you want with a minimum amount of manual intervention. MP3 Renamer is a very small, quick and efficient program that will rename your files based on a defined convention and will automatically fix most of the naming problems associated with downloaded files. If Mp3 Renamer does not provide all the functions you need, than its time to step up to the more powerful Renamer by Albert Bertilsson. This program can easy handle powerful requests such as batch search and replace. Last comes ID3Stripper, a program which fixes the ugly play list problem by stripping ID3 tags from files in batches. When the tags are removed winamp derives its information from the filename. OK, so ID3 tags have their uses, however I have found that more often than not they get in the way. All the information I typically want from a file is contained in the filename. (freeware)

CDex is a no-nonsense fast, and good looking cd ripper/mp3 encoder. If you need to create mp3 files from your cds this is the program to have. It is fast, easy to use and very flexible. You can select from a variety of custom codecs as well as settings. The default presets will also produce excellent sounding audio. (freeware)

What's a computer without a fast powerful image viewer? Fast is keyword here. ACDSee isn't groundbreaking, rather it takes the common task of viewing images, and makes it pleasant. The program has additional features such as image conversion and slide show capability, but the selling point is clearly a good fast image viewer. (shareware)

Computer Tools 

Here's something I like to see, reinventing old technology. Remote controls have been around for a quite a while, but have never become common place for use with computers. Several manufacturers such as Packard Bell and AST (Logitech) tried manufacturing infrared based models some years ago, but the software just wasn't there. Girder is a user-written program that takes on the task of controlling these cheap and effective devices. A remote is incredibly useful for controlling a TV Tuner, DVD's, DivX, mp3s, etc. Girder will take a bit of time to master given the complexity of controlling multiple programs, but with some help from the discussion board on the site you'll be well on your way. I recommend using it in combination with the AST/Logitech remote which goes for ~ $10-$15 on auction sites. (freeware)

Rampage is a small utility that sits in the system tray showing the amount of free ram on the system. Double clicking on the icon will free a set amount of ram (say 10 or 20mb) The utility is especially helpful with the poor memory management exhibited by win9x. However it is still nice to know available system resources when working in windows 2000. (freeware)

American Heritage Dictionary is going to be difficult to get a hold of. The version I use was originally created for windows 3.1. Yet the dictionary remains an extremely handy and necessary tool. The sheer number of words contained is astounding and the definitions are top notch. A thesaurus is also included. If you would like to get a copy of the dictionary for yourself write me an email and I'll send it to you. File size for the complete package is 14mb, very impressive. 

tweakUI is an excellent program from Microsoft. This small tweaking tool allows you to customize many aspects of how windows works. These options are not otherwise available in the operating system. TweakUI is available for all versions of Microsoft Windows and offers similar enhancements thought. You are able to control things like automatic network login, open dialog box shortcuts, items on "new" right click menu, etc. I'm impressed. (freeware)

Here are a couple of little applications that extend several windows functionalities to any application. Powermenu adds the "Always on Top", "Transparency", "Priority" and "Minimize to Tray" options to top level menus. "Always on Top" functionality comes in most handy. For win2k/xp users transparency settings are also handy. Next up, TrayIt! will allow you to force designated applications to minimize to the system tray as opposed to the taskbar. This allows you to have applications run in the background without taking up valuable taskbar space. For example, I use TrayIt! to keep my Outlook and Fobbit Phone client (described under internet related) minimized in the tray. It is also possible to eliminate the tray icon altogether to allow applications to run invisibly in the background. (freeware)

UltraMon is a little application created for the sole purpose of adding functionality to dual monitor systems. The application allows you to create shortcut keys to jump applications between the two monitors as well as maximize one application to both monitors. Double clicking on the icon turns off the secondary monitor. This feature is especially useful when working with remote administration software such as Remote Administrator. (shareware)

PrcView serves a crucial purpose especially for win9x computers. The program allows the user to view and kill any of the current processes running on the system. Hitting Ctrl+Alt+Del on a win9x system will show the currently running programs, but not all processes, one of which may be causing your system to crash or become unstable. The utility is not as necessary when running windows 2000 because the operating system will show a list of all current processes. One advantage of PrcView however, is that the program also shows the full path of where the process is located. (freeware)

That's it for the list of killer apps. I will add and remove from this list over time to keep current with the newest programs. If you have a killer application suggestion do not hesitate to submit it. Please note that this page features relatively little known about apps, accordingly popular and excellent programs such as AOL instant messenger, winamp, adobe photoshop etc. will not be on the list.

created by Boris Masis 2001
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