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First Looks and Nifty Gadgets

First Looks and Nifty Gadgets brings you reviews of the new and novel. In each issue we take a look at what's just hitting the streets and some tiny, but tried and true products that are still helping people be as productive as possible.

In this issue we look at: The OS/2 XFolder v0.61 Beta | Gismo for OS/2 v2.05

The OS/2 XFolder v0.61 Beta

One of OS/2's strong points has always been its incredible flexibility and many developers have used this feature to improve an already great operating system. Few have ever done so much or done it so well as Ulrich Möller with XFolder though. XFolder is a slew of WPS enhancements and additions that will improve anyone's OS/2 system if they use the WPS.

XFolder is simple to install, easy to set up and incredibly well explained and documented. It is currently available in both English and German (from the same archive file) and since the English dialogs and manual are so nearly perfect, I can only assume that the German is even better.

XFolder does many useful things (assuming you want it to) to your system. With it you can add very configurable menus to any folder's or object's pop-up menu. You can also configure hot keys for menu items. Or you can set XFolder to display the full path of a folder in its title bar.

There are two other nifty features that really caught my eye when I first played with XFolder because I've been wishing for them for a long time. First, imagine you have a folder open and you suddenly realize that working from a command line would be more efficient. Normally you would open an OS/2 command window and type "CD x:\path\to\the\folder" to get to the appropriate directory. With XFolder a "Command lines" menu is added to all folders' pop-up menu. Opening an OS/2 or DOS command window from this menu will automatically place you in the directory of the window you were working in.

The second neat feature that really pleased me is an enhanced shutdown ability (and a WPS restart ability). With XFolder, you can easily restart the WPS or shut down OS/2 completely without needing to press Ctrl-Alt-Del (this feature is optional).

[XShutdown Graphic]

This is just a fraction of what XFolder will do for you and it's only at v0.61 so the future probably holds even more surprises. The documentation currently lists some conflicts that may exist between XFolder and other software, but in my (limited) testing, I wasn't able to actually find any problems. Overall, this is a well thought out, useful, attractive and solid product.

The OS/2 XFolder v0.61 Beta

by Ulrich Möller
download from the XFolder home page (ZIP, 500k)
Registration: FREEWARE

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Gismo for OS/2 v2.05

Gismo is an appropriate name for a nifty little program that you might want to keep open on your [Gismo Graphic]Desktop all the time if you do any amount of web page design. If you do, you will know from experience that selecting colours for your web page text and backgrounds is sometimes quite time consuming.

Gismo for OS/2 attempts to fix that by providing you with a few quick and handy ways to find just the right colour and then transfer the needed codes into your web page. The program provides a fairly self-explanatory window with a list of colour names for use as foreground or background colours. This list can be sorted by name, hue, saturation, or value. As you select a colour name, its hexadecimal value (or decimal, if you prefer) is displayed beneath the list. If you want a custom colour, three sliders (Red, Green and Blue) are provided to tweak those settings exactly. Or if you prefer a more visual approach, a colour grid containing samples of all the standard colours can be made to pop up for quick selections.

Once you've chosen a colour, you can quickly copy the name ('darkgoldenrod', for example) or hex value ('#B8860B') to the clipboard and you're ready to paste it into your favourite text editor. Or, even simpler, you can choose "Always copy" and skip the step of clicking the copy button each time you change the selected colour -- the info is updated to the clipboard in real time!

And if you want to get really fancy, you can enter an HTML tag into which the selected colour name or value will be placed. Then the whole tag is copied to the clipboard in preparation for inserting into your web page.

This program has a few drawbacks. It requires VROBJ.DLL, which you can get from Hobbes (ZIP, 393k) which will make it a bit slow for very low end machines. Also, the 'manual' is less than perfect, and some of the window sizes and positions are not quite right (especially at 640x480 resolution). But for a tool this simple, these concerns shouldn't pose much of a problem.

For the price (US$5.00), this nifty gismo should be a bargain for anyone. It's definitely worth checking out.

Gismo for OS/2 v2.05

by Ken Kinoshita
download from the OS/2 Supersite (ZIP, 82k)
Registration: US$5.00

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That's it for this issue. Tune in next time for more reviews of neat gadgets and first looks at new OS/2 tools.


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