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nuePanel gets 5 new troubleshooting commands

nuePanel.128.128I’ve updated nuePanel with five new command buttons. Beware, #1, #3 and #4 won’t be visible unless you run the program with admin rights.

1. Troubleshooting > “Chkdsk system drive on boot” schedules chkdsk to scan the system drive for errors when you next reboot.

2. Troubleshooting > “Default DNS server is…” displays your current default DNS server. If your DNS is set automatically, for example via DHCP from the router, you’ll get the router name and IP address instead.

3. Troubleshooting > “File changes (real-time)” displays the names of files being changed on your system drive, as the changes are being made. This is just about as basic as monitoring gets – it only works on the system drive, and only if it’s NTFS, you don’t get the full file path, it only displays file changes – but even these details may be useful. And as it’s using a standard Windows component you can be sure it’ll work just about anywhere.

4 Hardware > “Filter drivers” displays the filter drivers installed on your PC. These are drivers which are modifying the behaviour of other devices and drivers. They’re interesting because they can make low-level changes which affect the performance, stability and security of your PC. Typically you’ll see only standard Windows filters and maybe file system filters from your antivirus, but Google for any file names you see to find out more.

5. Hardware > “Keyboard test” runs a simple keyboard hotkey test. Just press a key, Windows tells you what it is (hopefully) and gives you its code and scan code (“a”, code 0x41, scan code 0x1e).

nuePanel runs on 32 or 64-bit Windows 7 or later. Run the 64-bit version on 64-bit Windows, if possible– the 32-bit version will still be useful, but some of its tools won’t work correctly.

Tools

Lepton compresses JPEGs by 20% or more

LeptonGUILepton is an Dropbox technology which can compress JPEG images by an average of 20%, and often considerably more

The process works by converting the JPG to a more compact LEP format. It uses lossless compression, so pointing the program at the LEP file restores the original JPG.

All this comes in a surprisingly small package, just one tiny console-based executable. Basic usage is simple – lepton.exe pic.jpg or lepton.exe pic.lep to convert from one format to the other – and there are plenty of more advanced switches for those who need them.

If you’re comfortable at the command line, you really don’t need anything else, but for ease of use we’ve also produced a very basic front end.

LeptonGUI
LeptonGUI accepts files via drag and drop and a regular Open dialog, but it uses the regular Lepton.exe to do the real work

LeptonGUI accepts files by drag-and-drop or via a standard Open dialog. You’re able to convert everything with a click, and the program displays an overall compression rate and the savings made for each file.

Lepton seemed reliable to us, but be careful: it may still contain bugs. Take the program for a spin, see how well it performs, but don’t delete the original JPGs.

Lepton and LeptonGUI  run on Windows 7 and later.

Tools

nuePanel is a comprehensive Control Panel alternative for Windows

nuePanel.128.128NuePanel is a compact alternative to Control Panel which makes more than 150 Windows applets and tools accessible from a single interface

You’ll find all the Control Panel essentials (Device Manager, Registry Editor), versatile problem solvers (Windows Troubleshooting, Action Centre), informative system loggers (Event Viewer, Resource Monitor), and a host of tools you might not even realise you had (Quick Assist, Internet Explorer Diagnostics, Remote Shutdown…)

We’ve added a few custom extras, too. Like a button to open your router settings page, or another to filter the Windows Event log, displaying only the most important errors in the last 24 hours.

The program does its best to help you find what you need. Tools which aren’t available on your PC are hidden, everything else is split into sensibly-named tabs, and there’s a Search box to track down missing applets.

nuePanel
Pretty, isn’t it?

The interface may look like it was thrown together in five minutes (okay, two), but it does have some worthwhile extras. Resize the window and the buttons automatically rearrange to fit; the Search box remembers your last few entries; a hotkey hides those oddball expert-only applets you’ll never, ever use (or restores them if you do); and  your settings are saved for when nuePanel runs next.

There’s some intelligence built in to the engine, too. NuePanel doesn’t just blindly use hard-coded folder and file names– it searches for items like Office programs, finds where they’re located for more reliable launching, and hides buttons for programs you haven’t installed or applets which aren’t available in your Windows version.

NuePanel is available for 32 and 64-bit Windows 7 and later. Download 412KB zip.

Be aware, because this is a new program, and contains many calls to system tools, it’s highly likely it’ll be flagged as malicious by some antivirus tools. These are false alarms. There’s not a lot we can do about them, at least in a hurry, but they should decrease over time, and you can always see the current consensus view by uploading nuepanel.exe to virustotal.com.