Mini-reviews on the forum

This page collects various reviews that have been posted by users on our forum. They represent the views of the poster and not necessarily the views of the site administrators. To browse a more complete and up-to-date collection of mini-reviews, check out the mini-review section of our forum here.

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On Coding Snacks Idea
As to what made me donate, I'm a software developer myself.. It seems right to give back, particularly when someone is doing something as inarguably good as making software (useful software) available to everyone, even people who have little (or no) money. I can  afford to pay for it. I am glad to do so.
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Mini-reviews on the forum

This page collects various reviews that have been posted by users on our forum. To browse a more complete and up-to-date collection of mini-reviews, check out the mini-review section of our forum here.

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Mini Review - Helicon Filter - photo editor

Sanddune original.jpg
Helicon Filter is a complete image editing solution for the digital photographer.
Pro Version used in review, but there is only minor difference for most users.

Who is this app designed for:
Originally I thought this was a fantastic easy to use program for the average photo taker that wants to perform some improvements to their photo's.
But after using for a while you will find that there are some unique and Power user options, tools that Photoshop find difficult if not impossible are a breeze in Helicon Filter.

The Good
Fast, Fast, Fast.  If you need to improve some photos quickly, turn out some work that is presentable, this is it. Make some adjustments, save the adjustments and apply them to other images or batch process a whole folder.

Simple, even your mother could use this. (my mum could not use Photoshop)

Powerful, there are some features that are unique, but you have to poke around to find them (especially in Pro)
Easy frame tool, reduce noise by colour, side by side comparisons, noise and sharpening maps, blur/sharpen brush, eyedropper white balance, Image stacking HDR, etc.

The needs improvement section
Programmers probably take for granted what a new user does not understand, the tutorial/help section is good, but you need to read it over and over.
Some buttons and sliders are available, and you will need to dig to learn what they perform. No layers or masks.

Click here to continue reading the full minireview now..

Game Mini-Review: Toribash

Right now, what you're probably thinking is something along the lines of "What the heck is Toribash?"

Well, it's actually pretty hard to explain, but i shall try. Toribash is a turn-based fighting game, where you control a ragdolls joints and set them to do whatever when you press space, or in case of on-line play, when the time runs out.

One thing that really makes Toribash stand out among others isn't only that it's an indie game, but that it's also entirely physics based, with no pre-rendered moves or anything. Everything is rendered real-time. One should think that this would be enormously taxing for ones CPU, right? But this isn't true. While the early versions of Toribash was very unoptimized, the new versions run incredibly smooth, considering the amount of calculations done.

And you know how people say that the best things in the world are free, right? Well, guess what? Toribash is free! Ever since version 3.0, Nabi Studios, the creators of the game, has removed the 20$ price tag from the game, and now they earn their money by charging for many kinds of optional services.

Toribash even features its own little economy system, using a virtual currency called ToriCredits. These ToriCredits (Or TC as they're usually called) can be used to buy many different things in the ToriShop, like colors for your ragdoll (Or Tori), custom textures, colored trails and so on.

Click here to read the full newsletter now..

Aerobic Vertical mouse - first impressions

First impressions of the AerO2bic Vertical Mouse

It's a "vertical" mouse aimed mainly at people who are having trouble with wrist/arm/shoulder related to using regular mouse.

well, I dont think anyone, excluding gamers(!), would pay this much for a mouse unless they're having trouble in some way related to the use of regular mouse. I should probably state at this stage that I do have problems with my left shoulder (I'm left handed). In the past I've had problems with my wrist, arm, elbow as well but not at the moment.

With this mouse, the hand actually rests completely on the mouse, thumb to top. You can move the mouse and leave the hand completely relaxed. I personally at this stage cant really say how good this is - I like it a lot but it reminds me of the first time I drove a car with 5 gears (as opposed to just 4) - I found it so incredibly difficult to do this little extra movement that I wasnt used to doing. Likewise now, I'm aware of muscles in my shoulder & down my back that probably have never made these specific movements ..

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Mini-review: LineByter - Find and Extract Patterns (emails,etc) from Text Files

LineByter is a utility designed to find and extract patterns from text files.

It's a brand new (free) program coded by DonationCoder member Carl Danley (CodeByter) and released today.

It includes some unique features like duplicate removal, the ability to specify multiple match and reject patterns, and the ability to save and load profiles, that make it ideal for doing repeated things like extracting emails or urls from text files.

Motivation for the program

When we send out the DonationCoder mailing list, a certain number of the newsletter emails bounce back each month as undeliverable.  I use phplist to manage the web mailing list but lately what I've been doing is exporting these bounced emails from my email program and running an email extraction utility on the exported email to get a list of email addresses from these emails, and then feeding them into a script that turns off email notification for those users on the forum whose emails can be found.

In the past i've been using a now-discontinued utility designed specifically to extract emails.  But it's less than ideal.  It's a big clunky, it sometimes finds things that aren't emails, and sometimes misses real emails.  It also has a bad user interface and doesn't remove duplicates.  After i would run this utility i would bring the output file into a text editor, sort and remove duplicates, and then go through and remove certain emails, like those that are really addresses and a a few known fake email address patterns that seem to show up regularly.

SO that's why I have been wanting for a while a little utility that is better at extracting emails and doing some of the things automatically that i have been doing manually.  Of course I could have written a little perl or python script for it, but i am a big fan of custom gui tools for such things.

LineByter is the program that emerged from my discussions with Carl about this idea.  It's actually a much more general purpose program that can extract and reject all kinds of regular expression patterns, BUT it's also designed to be really easy to use and is focused specifically enough on the general workflow that i described above so that it's a real joy to use for this kind of stuff.


Some key features of the program:
  • You can drag and drop as many files to scan as you want.
  • Nice progress bar so you can see how much more time it's going to take.
  • Supports preset library of regular expressions so you can easily just select common patterns and add your own presets -- this is super important for letting you quickly reuse patterns and makes it suitable even for those who don't understand regular expression syntax.
  • Lets you specify a list of multiple patterns that are being searched for and how to extract the data you want from these patterns.
  • Lets you specify a list of additional patterns which should be rejected even if they match the first list (ideal if you want to find and extract all email patterns except those with certain properties).
  • Shows a nice complete report of why each pattern was found and/or rejected.
  • Automatically removes duplicates.
  • Produces a final list of results in text form that can be copied to clipboard or saved to file.
  • Can save and load profiles so you can reuse configuration settings for common jobs you perform.

Click here to continue reading the full minireview now..

XUpload: Fileupload with Browser and Progressbar

A few days ago i was in need to implement a file upload capability in one of my web applications. It should work on clientside without any special programs like a FTPClient or sth. like that. Only with the pure, available on every PC, webbrowser.

The ugly side of the story was, that uploads with browsers sucks. You have no real progress tracking. But i like to have this feature. So i researched a bit and learned that is isn't possible with only PHP right out of the box, if you haven't installed PHP V 5.2 or higher on your server or use some patched unofficial PHP corefiles. In the 5.2+ versions of PHP there are hook functions built in to monitor http uploads. But i was stuck with PHP 5.1.2, so no hooks for poor JoTo and i reject to use unofficial hacked core files.

So i accepted to have a hybrid solution with a combination of PHP and Perl/CGI that can do the trick. I searched a bit further and found a wonderful component named XUpload from Sibsoft. I downloaded the thingy and it worked for me, right out of the box, after a short and easy install. So i decided to share this information with you all, in the case someone is in need also in the future.

Features i liked:
<li>A continuous realtime progress bar and information about uploaded amount in percent and KB, upload speed, used as well as remaining time</li>
<li>Handles big files also (i tested it up to 600MB yet)</li>
<li>The upload page and the embedded form, as well as the upload status window, are very customizable using a template system and CSS</li>
<li>The upload form is extensible with as many user defined fields as you wish</li>
<li>The upload CGI is fully transparent and you can redirect all form data, after the upload finishes, to any URI you want (to process the uploaddata yourself - e.g. like me to my PHP script again to send a notify email about the upload</li>

The older version 2.6 of XUpload is free. There is also a PRO Version 3.0 of XUpload with many more features (, page inline progressbar, ...) for purchase at $37 per domain. But even the free version is very usable for most cases and can be used for as many domains as you wish.

DeVeDe - Convert files for DVD playing

DeVeDe is a(nother) video converter, but with the sole purpose of producing DVD's viewable on a TV using a standalone DVD player

Features (from the site)

  • Preview Video with selected settings
  • Save disc structure to convert at a later time
  • Ability to check for updates
  • Menu option to view documentation
  • Create
        - Video DVD
        - Video CD
        - Super Video CD
        - CVD
        - DIVX / MPEG-4
  • Menu - DVD
        - Action to Perform when Title ends
            - Stop reproduction/show disc menu
            - Play the first title
            - Play the previous title
            - Play current title again (loop)
            - Play the next title
            - Play the last title
        - Menu Options
            - Choose custom background
            - Choose PAL/SECAM or NTSC format
            - Customize menu font
            - Preview menu
            - Option for no menu
  • DVD Options
        - Convert only to MPEG
        - Convert only to disc structure
        - Convert to ready to burn ISO file
        - Choose 1.4 GB, 4.7 GB, or 8 GB DVD
  • Video Information
        - Original size (pixels)
        - Final size (pixels)
        - Length (seconds)
        - Estimated length (Bytes)
        - Output aspect ratio
        - Frames per second
        - Video rate (Kbits/sec)
        - Audio rate (Kbits/sec)
        - Size of chapters
  • Video Properties
        - Set video rate (Kbits/sec)
        - Set audio rate (Kbits/sec)
        - Output video format as PAL/SECAM or NTSC
        - Set Final video size to:
            - 720x576
            - 704x576
            - 480x576
            - 352x576
            - 352x288
            - Default
        - Choose scaling mode
        - Can choose to use 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Quality Options
        - Trellis search Quantization
        - MacroBloc decision algorithm
        - Deinterlacing
  • Audio Options
        - Delay audio (in seconds)
        - Create DVD with 5.1 channel sound
        - Specify video already has AC3 sound
  • Subtitles
        - Add subtitles from sub and srt formats
        - Choose encoding type of subtitles file
        - Ability to raise subtitles above black bars (if chosen in scaling)
  • Misc Video Options
        - Split video file in chapter (for easy seeking). Defaults to 5 minutes per chapter
        - Specify video file is already DVD suitable MPEG-PS file
        - Use a GOP of 12 frames (this improves compatibility)
        - Option to specify extra parameters for mencoder (DeVeDe back end)

I'll start by saying that I have (until recently) had no interest in or requirement for anything like this, hence my knowledge of all things relating to video editing, conversion, production, etc is practically nil, and as such, I have absolutely no qualifications for writing this review...

Recently though my inlaws purchased a shiny new HDD camcorder...

how is that relevant?  well, for a start they are techonogically challenged.  They really shouldn't have any tech whatsoever, period.  They didn't seek any advice regarding their purchase, just what the salesmen told them on the day (I think you can see where I'm going with this....)


DeVeDe on the other hand was something of a revelation.  Not only was it dead simple to use, but I understood what it was doing, and I got good results (choose the output format (DVD, VCD, SVCD, CVD or DivX), add my files, answer the prompts, and I'm done!!)

The interfaces are logical, clean, and simple, with all the common functions ready to hand, and the lesser only a click away.   

Click here to continue reading the full minireview now..

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