October 8, 2009

Install Software by doing a Start Menu Search – GetIt

Posted in Application Launchers, Beginner at 5:20 pm by gloriouscomputing

So you have the shiny new Windows 7 (Vista works too) installed, and you want to run your favorite once-a-week software. You hit the Windows key, type in “fire” only to find that you have not yet installed Frets On Fire! If only there was a way to instantly remedy this situation without any extra effort. Well, there is:

With the open-source GetIt, you can now install software with no more effort than is required to run it. Just type whatever you want to run/install into your Windows 7/Vista Start Menu Search, and shortcuts to silently install any of over 400 programs will be included in the results.

Download GetIt

Full Disclosure: I’m the lead developer of GetIt.

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January 11, 2009

GetIt now Supports Chain Installing over 400 Windows Applications

Posted in Application Launchers, Beginner, For Developers at 3:23 am by gloriouscomputing

Do you install a lot of software on Windows? Are you tired of the hassle of clicking the Next button millions of times? GetIt has allowed users to easily install applications with one click for over a year now. Over 400 freeware software titles are available for you to install without ever seeing a Next button.

GetIt is not the first software to allow you to do this, which is exactly why it was created. Rather than coming with its own repository and installing engine, it indexes various other installed application-getter’s repositories on your computer, combining their individual databases of installable applications into one big list. When you pick an application to install from this list, GetIt knows which application-getter to call on to make the installation happen. GetIt is the ultimate middleman for your application installation needs. It integrates seamlessly into Find And Run Robot, an application launcher, but can also be used with other application launchers, from the command-line, or with GetIt’s own GUI. Don’t worry if you don’t have any application-getting engines yet, GetIt can install them for you.

GetIt now supports Chain Installing applications. When you want to install multiple applications unattended, just select the ones you want and click Install. Come back to your PC later to find all your desired applications installed!  You can also save your selected application list as a Chain Install Batch file for later use, so you can quickly set up your favorite applications on a new PC without having to select them all again.

GetIt is open-source, and freely available from http://puchisoft.com/GetIt

If you create software yourself, you can manage your own repository and add it into GetIt. 🙂

December 22, 2007

Appupdater + GetIt + FARRv2 = Very Powerful

Posted in Application Launchers, Beginner, Intermediate at 5:50 am by gloriouscomputing

In the circles of people who love to install things easily, like “install VLC” (and VLC is installed), the new Appupdater is all the rage.

While having similar features to AppSnap, it also features the ability to “upgrade”, meaning it will look for all applications installed on your PC, and see if it can find (and install) newever versions for you. Very nice!

Well, fear not. GetIt has just been updated to add support for Appupdater, in addition to the already supported AppSnap and Win-Get.
GetIt, of course, indexes all applications that you can install with any of the above mentioned application-getters, and lets you view a single master list of all applications that can be installed this conveniently. And with the new engine, in addition to the ever growing repositories of the older engines, this list is becoming quite extensive.

What’s missing to make this scenario perfect? FARRv2 has been released to the public! That’s right. Before now, you’ve had to sit there and watch me enjoy making my computing life infinitely easier, but now you too, can join me!

FARRv2 is still the best way (and the only way that supports incrementally searching through the master list of available applications, thanks to GetIt) to interface with GetIt, which will then interface with Appupdater/AppSnapp/Win-Get to install your Application for you.

You can have all this, right now, for free. Drop everything. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Enjoy!

September 26, 2007

Third Party Repositories are go! (GetIt)

Posted in Application Launchers, Intermediate at 1:55 am by gloriouscomputing

GetIt now supports adding 3rd party repositories. What does this mean?

It means that anyone can now add to the collection of applications you can install with GetIt! Yes, even you.

Creating your own repositories requires only a little bit of computing knowledge, so anyone can do it with with a little practice.

For users, adding a third party repository is a simple 2-click procedure. For examples, check the forum.

If you want to create and host your own repository, see the guide. This is a call to action! Please start creating some repositories.

Feel free to share your repositories in the comments, or the forum.

DAKDAL

August 16, 2007

GetIt – Easily Install Applications

Posted in Application Launchers, Beginner, Intermediate at 2:52 am by gloriouscomputing

If you’ve used Linux before, you probably know how good they have it when it comes to installing applications.

App-Get comes to mind. Linux people sure have it easy.
If they want to install Gimp, as with the example given by the above article, they simply run:

apt-get install gimp

Done! Wow, amazing.
They didn’t have to click “Next” fifty times, toggle a Radio Button list to “Agree” to terms they didn’t read anyway, or anything!

Don’t you wish it was that easy on Windows? Well, wish no more. A few development teams are currently fighting for the title of best Application Getter.
While it’s been a friendly competition (as far as I’ve seen), nobody has come up with a perfect solution yet.

The issue is the repositories. This is a fancy word for the database of applications, their version, where to get their installers, and how to install them as silently as possible.
Since all Application Getter have their own non-interchangeable repositories, you basically need to install every Application Getter to get the largest, and most up to date repository of applications to install.

Doing all this work manually can be annoying.
When I type “install Firefox”, I don’t care which Application Getter has “Firefox” in its repository. I just want to install “Firefox”!
GetIt

Without further ado, I present to you: GetIt – A simple way to interface with multiple Application Getters. I coded GetIt myself, and I use it myself too.

When you first run it, it scans your computer for known Application Getters, and takes note where they are.
It then updates all Application Getters’ own repositories, and imports them into it’s own database/folder structure.

You can then easily install applications via your favorite interface:

  • Visually install Applications from a master list formed by combining all installed Application Getter’s repositories. Just select the Application from the list, and click Install. The proper App-Getter is called upon to do its job, using its repository.
  • Install Applications via command line: getit.exe install Firefox
  • Install Applications from a folder that lists all possible applications: just double click! Make a shortcut on your desktop to it, if you wish.
  • Type “install” and then be presented with an incremental search of possible applications, using FARRv2!

farr

If you wished it was as easy to Install applications in FARRv2 as it is to Uninstall them, now it is! Of course, as is listed above, you don’t have to use FARR at all to enjoy GetIt.

It’s simple to do a global update of all repositories (of all installed App-Getters) as well.

Currently, GetIt works with Win-Get (because of its huge, yet somewhat neglected, repository) and AppSnap (because of its revolutionary “always-hunt-down-and-install-the-newest-Application-version repository).

The next step is for GetIt to make it easy to choose additional repositories to inject into programs like AppSnap (which have framework in place to allow for such a thing), so that anyone can easy host/subscribe to an additional repository.

As I said, the biggest limiting factor right now are the repositories. If we had the sort of great user-dedication towards updating these repositories that some Linux communities enjoy, installing applications will be a snap. 😉

For now, enjoy GetIt. Once I finish the Repository Manager component (and the AppSnap developer fixes his program to work via the commandline again), I’ll be calling on all of you to help index your favorite Applications. I’ll be doing my part. ^_^

Ode to FARRv2 – My favorite Application Launcher

Posted in Application Launchers at 1:36 am by gloriouscomputing

The love affair between myself and Find And Run Robot (v2) should not be a secret to you, if you’ve read recent posts.

But why is FARRv2 my favorite Application Launcher? The simple answer is that it’s so much more than an application launcher. It’s the closest to the mythical Mac-only QuickSilver that we Windows folks have. I hear that Linux people are even worse of than us, so it’s ok.

Quit your sobbing, however. FARRv2 is here to the rescue. I may not have tried the praised QuickSilver (I’d love to, but I don’t have a Mac), but I’ve tried many of the Windows Launchers, and they don’t come close to the glory that is FARRv2.

“Citation Required”, I hear you shouting. After all, we don’t need lots of features. We need useful features. So here’s how I use FARRv2:

Find Applications… and Run Them
Yeah, it’s a given. Application Launcher can run them. I still know some people that don’t get it though. They don’t understand how something like FARRv2 (or even Launchy) is better than Windows Run (WindowsKey+R).

With Windows Run, you can only launch applications that are in the System32 folder (aka. Windows stuff… not most of the programs you actually use), and programs that you included in your PATH (For people who don’t know, this is a silly variable that can be set to multiple locations, and these locations will be looked at when applications/you try to boot other applications).

Manually adding every folder that every application uses is ludicrous! Unless you hate yourself, or you only use Notepad and Co., the Windows Run box is a weak tool.

What does FARRv2 (and most any other Application Launcher) bring to the table (with respect to Launching applications)?

  • You can still launch Notepad, but
  • You now only need to type the program’s name partially
  • You can launch any program you installed by only typing a fraction of that program’s name
  • You don’t have to set up anything after you install a program for it to be launchable (as long as the installer made a start-menu shortcut, which I know none that don’t)

Example: Paintball2. (It’s a fun indy game)
Old way to run: Start->Programs->… (Try to guess who made Paintball2) …-> Paintball2
New way to run: Alt+Space -> Type: Paintb -> Enter

Start Paintball2

“Paintb” would just having given us what we wanted, but if we wanted to launch PaintBall2 after only typing “Paint”, we can hit F2 at this point (or NumberPad2) instead of Enter.

And remember, I didn’t have to do anything to get Paintball2 to show up in that list.
Find Anything …and Start It
By default, FARRv2 just looks at your applications. But, if you love FARRv2 and Music as much as me, you’ll want to use it to search your Music folder. Maybe your pictures and documents folders too. Anything is fair game.

It’s a simple add in the Options, and unlike Launchy, you don’t have to worry about adding all sorts of file types. I have .ogg, .mp3 (sadly), .wma (even more sadly), and maybe even more.

Anyway, this is how I search for a single song that I want to listen to:

It’s much like searching for applications. In fact, it’s exactly like searching for applications.

Thanks to FARRv2’s excellent scoring system, I am able to find Applications and Music that I want, without much conflict.

Browsing a Common Folder Easily
Is there a folder you use extremely frequently? Maybe your Downloads folder, or your Documents folder. If you answered no, you’re probably lying.

FARRv2 has powerful folder features build in. You can start navigating at C:\ and browse your way to where you want to go.
But, just as shortcuts were invented to make this less painful with Explorer (or Xplorer2, which I must recommend), you can make “Aliases” in FARRv2.

Since I’m a music enthusiast, I’ll use my music folder as an example. I created the alias “mus ” to show my music folder in FARRv2.
So when I want to browse my music folder, I just type “mus “:

I can see all sub-folders (I have one per artist) and files. (Not shown, you stalker, you ;)).
I want to access the sub-folder called “E Nomine” (The name of the artist I want to queue up in Winamp).
So I’m going to start typing “no”, to search the current folder for folders/files with “no” in them.
Mus No

There is it. I can navigate into these by hitting Tab, but I just want to queue up the whole “E Nomine” folder into Winamp. Since winamp put this feature into my explorer’s right click menu, I hit Alt+2 (that’s what I configured), and I get folder 2’s shell context menu. I press E for Enqueue, and I’m done.

That’s a winamp specific thing, of course. If you wanted to browse your My Documents folder in this way, you could just hit enter on a file you found this way to open it.

Sure, you could just add your My Documents folder to what FARR searches when you type anything, but it’s sometimes better to get a list of files in a certain place (if you don’t know exactly what you want to look at, for example).

You could make an alias to browse your videos folder. That’s useful if you don’t know which show you want to watch, but you do know that you want to watch some show, and that you have some in your video folder.

If you have FARRv2 and want to set this up, the alias I have is:
Regular expression: mus (.*)
Result(s): dosearch C:\Storage\Music\$$1 +sall

Launch something in the system32 folder
Some things aren’t indexed by default (although most stuff is). If you use something in System32 a lot, you should probably add it to the index. However, if you haven’t gotten around to it yet, you can do:

run Cmd.exe

That, for example, will run Cmd.exe the same way doing a Windows Run would. A bit backwards, but sometimes useful.

One way to make this alias nicer, it to wrap it around a batch file to looks like so:
%*
PAUSE

…which means that it will run whatever parameters that you threw at it, and pause, letting you look at the output. So you can do a NetStat -an, which lists the IPs and Ports you are connected to, and actually look at the output (the window won’t close on its own).

Search Firefox Bookmarks
It used to be that Launchy had this feature, and FARR did not. Now they both have it.
Firefox search
By default, you use the plugin “ff” to search your bookmarks. It works nicely.

Generate Random Data / Copy to Clipboard
There is a plugin that generates random e-mail addresses that you can check (a features which ties into Mailinator and BugMeNot), and copies it to the clipboard.

email gen

Then there is another command to check the temporary email you generated (still in your clipboard, hopefully).
That’s the fastest way I’ve seen to generate/check a temporary email without needing to use a space wasting browser toolbar.

The feature can also be used to generate any other format of data, like Usernames and Passwords.

Killing Processes
What do you use to kill annoying processes? Task Manager? Hah. Laughable.

Seriously, though. Killing processes with Task Manager can take some time. Especially if you didn’t know that you can access Task Manager directly in WindowsXP/Vista by hitting Ctrl+Shift+ESC, rather than going through the time-wasting menu that comes up with Ctrl+Alt+Del.

But do it even more quickly. Check it out:
pkill
Why is iTunes’s helper running? I don’t have iTunes open. Grrr… must… kill… pKill that is. 😉
Personally, I recommend abbreviating “pkill” to something shorter, but you see the point. Yes, it searches all running processes for what I typed. Ah, incremental searches.

In the same way, you can also :

These are all user-created Add-Ons, so there are many more to come, since anyone can make them.

Yup. There is quite a lot of power here. Probably more power than you’ll care to play with for the first week of usage. (If you’re like me, you’ll be too busy searching your music and busting a move)

I’ve used FARRv2 for a few weeks now, and I’m extremely happy with it. It has helped me simplify so many of my hourly tasks.

And with that, I’ll take a moment to inform you of things you may not like:

  • It’s still not “Public” yet. I’m expecting it to come out any day, since it’s as bug free as it needs to be. But you will have to send the author an e-mail to get your hands on it, if you want it right now.
  • Once it does come out, it may be like the old version, and insist you register a free account on their site.

I’ve found the cost (time) of setting it up to be more than worth it though.

July 31, 2007

Uninstaller Madness (updated August 7th)

Posted in Application Launchers, Beginner at 6:22 pm by gloriouscomputing

Uninstalling programs is quite the burden… by default. Thankfully, we have alternatives.

There are really two main reasons for uninstalling programs.

  1. You don’t like a particular program and wish to rid yourself of it.
  2. You realize you have way too many unused programs on your PC, and you want to go window shopping for free-space and performance. You may have forgotten a lot of the programs you installed.

So in either of these two scenarios, who are you gonne’ call? Well, the simple answer is: 1) Net Tools Uninstaller, and 2) Revo Uninstaller.
Both of these are free to use forever, so if you are a busy person: Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

If you have the time, let me explain my decision for you. First, there is your default choice.

Windows Add/Remove Programs
Unless you managed to never install anything, it takes a good eternity for the list of installed programs to populate. I would only use this if I had to, which I never do on my own computers. Once you install either/both of the other tools I recommend, you too should never have to come back to this.

Net Tools Uninstaller
This uninstaller is the underdog of windows software uninstallers. You probably never heard of it. The reason it goes under radar is that it is bundled with the Net Tools software package, which is entirely free. Net Tools feature some amazingly useful networking tools for intermediate to advanced PC users, but that is another matter, and you don’t even have to look at these if you don’t want to.

Make no mistake, Net Tools Uninstaller is the fastest* way to uninstall a program, unless you already have the program’s specific uninstaller handy.

Net tools

Running NetTools Uninstaller and waiting for the list of installed programs to populate takes under 3 seconds. As you can tell, that’s 215 programs that I have installed.

Also, unlike Windows’s default uninstaller, you can press letters on the Keyboard, and get to the first program with that letter. So I can press “C” to get to “Calculater Powertoy”.

Very good, overall. If you simply wish to uninstall things quickly, this is your program*.

PS: It’s a bit hard to get to by default after you installed Net Tools. However, if you use an application finder, such as Launchy, you can pull it up simply by typing “Uninstaller”.

Revo Uninstaller
Excellent program, again. It is much more feature-rich than Net Tools Uninstaller, but that comes with a cost of taking longer to load. I won’t be too critical here though, because it’s still light years faster than the Windows default.

All the bells and whistles you could want for an Uninstaller are here. A great feature is that it will hunt down some files/registry keys that a program’s uninstaller may have forgotten to remove. Again, this comes with a price of time.

Overall, it’s a wonderful program, and I’d recommend it to anyone. But don’t take my word for it

Enjoy getting rid of software you downloaded while under the influence. I know I do. 😉

*Update August 7th, 2007: A new challenger has arrived!

When I wrote this article, I declared Net Tools Uninstaller the winner of the fastest way to uninstall a program. This program still remains an excellent choice, certainly. However, I have discovered an even faster and more elegant way: FARRv2.

Yes, our good ole’ friend, the Find And Run Robot (Application Launcher) is about to get an update to version 2. Yes, I did say “is about”. FARRv2 is not technically released yet, although you will have little trouble getting the program (a simple email to the author will almost guarantee you a link to the FARRv2 release candidate).

I am trying really hard not to dwell on the general awesomeness that is FARRv2. This is an article about Uninstallers after all. I will say, however, that it has won me over, to the point that I have uninstalled Launchy (using FARRv2, to add insult to injury). It’s that good.

Using FARRv2 to Uninstall

  1. Hit Alt+Space to invoke FARRv2 (or whatever keyboard shortcut you set up)
  2. Type “un “, and start typing the name of the program that you want to uninstall.
  3. Hit Enter once it is found

That’s it. The uninstaller of that program will be launched. Here’s a picture

Yup. Simply amazing.

Summary

If you don’t trust a program to uninstall itself, or you simply wish to obliterate it, use Revo Uninstaller. (Revo was the only program able to uninstall iTunes properly for me)

If you just want to uninstall something quickly, use FARRv2, if that’s your application launcher anyway. If it is not, your best option for a speedy uninstall is Net Tools Uninstaller.

July 8, 2007

Search Multiple Torrent Search Engines at once

Posted in Application Launchers, Intermediate at 11:06 pm by gloriouscomputing

Now that you have your shiny new application launcher installed, let’s use a fun hack with it. This works equally well in Launchy and Find And Run Robot.

Before I get started, let me recommend the torrent client uTorrent to you. It only works on Windows, but was designed rather well. The filesize of the program is currently 177kb. It is really fast too. In my experience, it’s been faster than other clients, like Azureus.

If you’re like me, you sometimes have a hard time finding those special legal torrents that you desire. So, you tend to have to search a lot of search engines. uTorrent already helps with that a little bit. It gets you started by having a Firefox-style search bar build in, which is great for searching one engine at a time.
But if you want to search 4 of them, you have to:

  1. Type your search
  2. Hit Enter (First site)
  3. Click the drop down list
  4. Click the next torrent site
  5. Hit Enter (2nd site)
  6. Click the drop down list
  7. Click the next torrent site
  8. Hit Enter (3rd site)
  9. Click the drop down list
  10. Click the next torrent site
  11. Hit Enter (4th site)

Phew! You only had to enter your string once, but that was A LOT of clicking / hitting enter. By this time, your day has ended, and you probably don’t care about whatever you wanted anymore.

Here’s what I have to do to accomplish the same thing (searching 4 different sites):

  1. Type “s “, followed by my search
  2. Press 5 (on the Number Pad)

I say that’s a nice improvement! The key to doing this is a batch file. Once you have the batch file, you just need a really easy way of running it at any time…. like an Application Launcher! 🙂

Here’s the batch file:

@ECHO OFF
ECHO Searching a bunch of torrent index sites…
start “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\Firefox.exe” “http://www.mininova.org/search/?search=%1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9”

start “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\Firefox.exe” “http://torrentspy.com/search.asp?query=%1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9”

start “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\Firefox.exe” “http://thepiratebay.org/search.php?q=%1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9”

start “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\Firefox.exe” “http://isohunt.com/torrents/?ihq=%1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9”

Copy that into Notepad and save it somewhere, like C:\Utilities\multiTorSearch.bat
What this does is pretty basic. It starts Firefox with the parameter of the search engine website. The %1 stuff is the parameter of the batch file, the actual search query.
If your Firefox is set up like mine, this open 4 new tabs in your already open Firefox window. If it doesn’t do that for you, go to Firefox’s Tools->Options->Tabs and select “Open new windows in a new Tab”. Simple.

Now that you have your Batch file, just add it to your Application Launcher.
For Launchy, use the Runny plugin.

  • Press Alt+Space to bring up Launchy
  • Right click, go to Plugins
  • Click on Runny, and then Plugin Options
  • Then just pick what you want to type (“search”, perhaps), and then put your batch file on the right, with the parameter $1

Now for my Find And Run Robot people. The way I did it, was that I added this batch file as just another search engine in the “search” Group, that comes with the program by default. So:

  • Hit Ctrl+Space to bring up FARR
  • Click on the Options button
  • Go to Groups, right click “search”, and go to Edit
  • Add this line in the ‘results’ section: “MultiTorrent $$1 | C:\Utilities\multiTorSearch.bat $$1”

If you’re like me, and would rather just type in “s ” than “search “,
change the ‘Regular Expression’ to “^s (.*)”

The key difference with FARR here is that when you type “s MySearchHere”, you see MultiTorrent Search as one of the options, which you can easily start by hitting the corresponding Number Pad key (no need to hit Enter). If this is not for you, put MultiTorrent as the first choice. That’s the one triggered by hitting Enter. This is usually Google, and that’s the way I personally prefer it.

That’s all for today. Enjoy searching multiple sites at the same time!

July 7, 2007

Application Launchers – Be Amazed!

Posted in Application Launchers, Beginner, Intermediate at 6:02 pm by gloriouscomputing

If you are still digging through your Windows Start menu to find programs manually, you are wasting a lot of time. Ever wish you didn’t have to try and remember which company made that quick utility that you are looking for?

With Application Launchers, you just type the first few letters of the program you want to start, and hit Enter. Boom! There’s your program.
For example, when I want to run Notepad, all I have to type is “no”.

These things are smart, and will remember which applications you launch a lot, and give them preference. So if you’re a Notepad junky, “no” means “Notepad”, and not “Norman – Destroyer of Words”. If you did want to launch “Norman”, you would type “nor”.

So, ready to make launching program exponentially easier? Here are some programs I can recommend for this purpose.

Launchy
It’s hard to deny that Launchy is the number one Windows XP application launcher right now. And that’s understandable. It’s very easy to set up, and powerful enough to make most users happy as pie.
If you have never used an application launcher before, install Launchy now!
Get Launchy here

Find And Run Robot
I’ve been using Launchy for a few months now, and was only recently introduced to FARR (Find and Run Robot). I’m very impressed. Personally, I prefer FARR. However, there are downsides here too. It’s a slightly harder to configure, and fuzzy searches do not work out of the box. If you have indexed your music, and you want to find a song with the name “Bob_Likes_To_Sing.mp3”, but you search for “Bob Likes”; you will NOT find it. This is the biggest downside to FARR.

However, at the cost of a slightly more confusing GUI, I find FARR to be more powerful and adapt to my needs. Typing “no” still gets me “Notepad”, that’s a given. I can also type “search Ice Cream”, and am presented with a choice of 9 search engines, including a dictionary. This is extremely customizable. Pressing Enter searches in the first choice of search engines, here configured as Google, but easily changed. To search via search engines 2 through 9, I can just hit the corresponding Number Pad key. So I type “search HTTP”, press 6 (on the Number Pad) , and I go to the wikipedia entry on “HTTP”. Well, personally I don’t have time to type in “search” every time, so I changed it to just “s”. 🙂

If this is the sort of craziness you love, you’ll love this program.
Get Find And Run Robot here