FeedSnap: The FeedBurner Replacement

FeedSnap logo Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ve certainly seen all the hullaballoo that took place when Google shut down Google Reader for good. Aside from being a damn good RSS web-based reader, it was very importantly, so popular that and backed by a company so huge that it basically killed off all its competitors without even trying. If you care about your blog, you’re probably looking for a FeedBurner replacement or a FeedBurner alternative just about now.

People have been panicking about the so-called “death of RSS” ever since. RSS has a special place in our hearts, we think the idea behind a simple, standardized, freely-accessible stream of updates for just any website is a confluence of awesomeness that only comes around once in a blue moon. In other words: if RSS dies today, it’s not because something equally awesome has replaced it. Anyone equating RSS with Twitter streams (where stuff is virtually designed to be lost in the madness) and Facebook “feeds” (accessible only to friends, at the mercy of Facebook Inc) has no clue what they are talking about.

The writing has been on the wall for months, and pretty much everyone has come to suspect the next shoe will soon drop and Google will kill FeedBurner (the equivalent of Google Reader for website publishers) in the next round of “spring cleaning.” Google purchased Chicago-based startup (yay Windy City!) FeedBurner from its founders back in 2007, and ever since has been disabling and dismembering it, one feature at a time. Today, FeedBurner is only a sorry reminder of it once was.

To that end, we are happy to introduce today FeedSnap.

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Tools to help manage and recover your new Windows 8 installation

Today’s the big day: Windows 8 has hit the shelves and customers are flocking to buy the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system. In the back of everyone’s mind is the big question: what do I do to properly set up my Windows 8 installation, and in the (hopefully unlikely) situation of disaster, if I can no longer get into my Windows 8 PC, what can I do about it?

All of NeoSmart Technologies products are 100% Windows 8 ready. They’ve all been vetted and heavily tested against the latest version of the Windows OS and have been updated with all the features you require for peace of mind. They’ll help you get your system working the way you want it, and then God forbid something bad happen, get you back on your feet as soon as possible.

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Announcing EasyBCD 2.2: Windows 8 dual-booting and more!

New EasyBCD logoQuick: what takes 5 years, two failed attempts, and thirteen contributors? Answer: EasyBCD with multilanguage support!

Who knew it would be this hard to release a version of EasyBCD that supports languages from English to Arabic and from Korean to Russian? We certainly had no idea it would take this long and this much work back in June of 2007 when we first attempted this gargantuan task! It turns out it’s not such an easy thing to organize and manage the translation of a medium-sized software project – and that no good tools existed to make it possible.

We were expecting to find (this late into the game) a plethora of .NET localization tools and resources that would make the job ridiculously easy, but it turns out all the existing solutions were terrible for one reason or another: too hard for non-developers to grasp, no versioning support, no on-the-fly deployment (i.e. requires recompilation), no unicode support, text-only interfaces, and the list goes on and on. We had to develop our own complete end-to-end translation and globalization framework and associated utilities (xml-based, text-editable, translation interface, versioning support, unicode support, on-the-fly deploy, string aliasing, derivable strings, language cleanup, outdated/missing string search, and more!), which we’ve open sourced to save others the trouble in the future.

Now that we have the excuses out of the way, let us introduce EasyBCD 2.2, complete with 13 languages from around the globe. With much thanks to the following people, we have been able to provide these languages out-of-the-box with EasyBCD 2.2:

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Introducing Windows Recovery Essentials

There have been whispers and rumors making the rounds all over the internet for the past few months regarding the licensing of WinPE. The rumors are, in fact, true: as of January 2012, Microsoft has no longer been renewing any Windows Pre Installation Environment licensing agreements with any partner companies; all of whom are now required to find alternative means of meeting their bootable environment requirements.

As many of you are aware, NeoSmart Technologies is one of the companies licensing Windows PE from Microsoft Corp. Back in August of last year, we revealed that we’d struck a deal with Microsoft wherein we’d be licensing Windows PE for use in our system recovery CDs, making them legally available for download for our users. Unfortunately, that agreement will not be in place for much longer, and the recovery and repair CDs in their current form will soon no longer be available for purchase.

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Open Letter to CNet (Updated)

It has recently come to our attention (original story, HN discussion) that the recently updated EasyBCD listing on CNet/Download.com no longer links directly to an official setup package but rather to an “CNet EasyBCD Installer” which bundles certain 3rd party products and viralware (others are referring to it as malware, we will refrain from doing so) and attempts to pass it on to our end users as part of the EasyBCD experience.

Unlike some of the affected open source software that is listed on CNet, EasyBCD does not use a copyleft license that lets companies and individuals do whatever they want with EasyBCD and repackage it in whichever manner they choose. In fact, in the past whenever we were asked why one of the most popular freeware products available online was not open source, we have repeatedly insisted that the ability to maintain control over the distribution and packing of EasyBCD to ensure an ongoing comfortable and friendly user experience has been our number one reason.

CNet is of course not the only download site using these so-called “downloaders” to bundle unwanted software that unsuspecting users would normally not install. They are, however, one of the largest and prior to this, also one of the more respected download entities. As of today, we shall be contacting any and all companies and sites that use custom “installers” to download/install EasyBCD as this is in direct violation of the EasyBCD license.

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Malware Warning

It’s our unfortunate duty to inform our readers and users that for a period of several hours some resources on the neosmart.net domain were compromised by one or more attackers unknown. By means of a vulnerability that we were not able to track in one of the scripts on our site, attackers were able to inject malicious JavaScript into resources on our site, leading to visitors to our domain being redirected to a webpage elsewhere online that instructed them to download and install a malicious plugin.

The malware has been purged from our site and resources and there is no longer any threat to our visitors. We’re still working on getting more information, but the malware in question is labeled as JS/BlacoleRef.J and JS/Blacole.A by Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s important to note that visitors to our site could not be infected without their knowledge. The malicious JavaScript in question triggered the browser to display a “do you want to install this plugin” dialog (the exact text differs by web browser make and model), and some browsers were not susceptible to the redirect attack. Users with antivirus software should also not have been at risk, as the malware in question has been blacklisted by the various companies for several weeks now.

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Gallery Updated, Windows 8 Backgrounds Added

Just a quick and friendly note to all our users: we’ve been working on the NeoSmart Technologies image gallery and have pushed out a number of updates that should make it both easier on the eyes and easier to navigate.

Some of the changes include nicer icons for all the albums (verses a mosaic of contents), links to full-size images on our extensive collection of tech-related wallpapers, fixing of overall alignment, and a few other cosmetic issues. If you have any suggestions, recommendations, or feedback, please do share because we’re (as always) all ears.

For lovers of beautiful backgrounds, we have two “new” collections to share: the official Windows 8 wallpapers to date, and the OS X Lion wallpapers bundle. We’ll be updating the Windows 8 backgrounds with each released build, so check back often! Some samples after the jump.

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EasyBCD 2.1 and Some Big Changes

EasyBCD LogoFor all our loving users, readers, and members out there, EasyBCD 2.1 has just been released and is ready for consumption. Freshly baked, tenderly prepared, and lovingly made, it brings the usual host of new features and updates that a new version of EasyBCD usually brings.

Use our Windows recovery disks to:
✓ Fix all boot errors
✓ Resolve startup BSODs
✓ Restore registry and settings
✓ Clean up virus infections
Easy Recovery Essentials is available for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8. Windows XP and Windows Server editions are also supported.
Download Easy Recovery Essentials

But this build of EasyBCD is a little special — we focused a lot more on improving the user experience over adding new features. We’ve fine-tuned every line of text, every button, every icon. We’ve hidden all we can hide, automated all we can automate, but never at the cost of advanced options; instead, everything is just that much smarter and more intelligent, cutting out the extra steps that left room for confusion. Simply put, EasyBCD 2.1 is all about smoothing out the edges of what has become the world’s most popular bootloader utility.

With EasyBCD 2.1 also comes some exciting changes from the developmental side of things. As you all may or may not know, development at NeoSmart Technologies has largely been a one-man show, with Mahmoud doing the coding and research, with help from an amazing team of moderators (chief of which are Terry, Justin, and Peter) providing most of the ever-important tech suport on our forums. What most people don’t know is that while NeoSmart Technologies has, alhamdulilah, reached epic heights over the past few years, it’s being run entirely on a part-time basis by all of its volunteers.

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Gevey Sim and iOS 5 Unlock

iOS 5, WWDC 2011

UPDATE: iOS 5 Beta 2 and up!

Gevey unlock (and other turbo-sims/interceptors) do not work on iOS 5 beta 2 and above, including the final iOS 5 release!

Yesterday at WWDC 2011, Apple announced (amongst many other things) iOS 5, the upcoming version of iOS that’s to be released with the iPhone 5 later this year. iOS Developers and certain tech bloggers have been given access to this build, and we’re sure one of the biggest question the hordes of iPhone users around the world are asking is: Will my Gevey-3G unlock SIM interposer work???

With iOS 5 beta (build 9A5220p), the modem firmware has been upgraded to baseband 04.11.04 and cannot be downgraded to earlier versions, meaning the only possible SIM unlock would be a turbo sim/interposer (currently either Gevey-3G or Rebel SIM); hence the worried and nervous questions going around the online iPhone community.

And the answer? A relieving yes. At least for now, for iOS 5 beta 1, it does. The process remains unchanged — just insert the interposer, restart your device, accept the welcome message, dial 112, and toggle the Airplane Mode feature a few times. The Gevey SIM will still work to unlock iOS 5.0 beta.

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Open Source, 100% Compatible ln for Windows (and Junction Point library)

We’ve been huge fans of symlinks for forever, and even posted about Windows Vista’s new mklink commandline utility with quite the passion back in 2006 when the ability to create soft-links from the commandline was first added to Windows.

However, there are a few things that have forever irked us about the ln lookalike called mklink.exe:

  • It’s called mklink and not ln. (I mean, you just get can’t get around that fact)
  • The arguments are switched around. `mklink something_doesnt_exist actual_file` is just…….. wrong!
  • By default, mklink will create softlinks and not hardlinks. ln requires the /h flag to create a hardlink.
  • mklink isn’t smart enough to distinguish between files and folders. You need explicitly tell it via the commandline.
  • Even then, mklink has two different switches depending on the type of directory link you want. /D for softlink’d directories, and /J for hardlink’d directories.
  • mklink can’t be used outside of cmd.exe (such as in PowerShell). (Hat tip: Jason)
  • And, of course,  mklink isn’t open source.

So we made our own.

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