Martin Brinkmann

martin photo

Martin Brinkmann is a journalist from Germany who founded Ghacks Technology News back in 2005. Martin started his career as a tech support representative at a large German financial corporation which he used to finance his college education in English, Information Technology and History.

He quit college and his job when Ghacks began to attract a large enough readership. He made the decision to become a full time blogger and webmaster, and has not looked back since.

Martin is interested in all things tech. His primary focus is on desktop operating systems, web browsers, Internet services, and privacy related topics.

He published the book The Complete Windows 10 Privacy Guide: Windows 10 Fall Creators Update version in 2017. Martin writes a weekly column for fellow tech site Betanews as well.

You can reach Martin on Facebook or on Twitter. Please use the contact form at the bottom of the page to contact the author directly.

Martin has been quoted or mentioned in many major online and print publications, including Forbes,, ComputerWorld, LinkedIn, Reddit,, Bleeping Computer, TechCrunch, PC World, Tom's Hardware, Slashdot, Hacker News, The Register, and more.

Martin's articles on Ghacks

Windows Vista Aero Color Transform

I found a nice little Windows Vista utility to change the appearance of the Aero Glass theme even further by allowing color transformations. The normal Windows Vista style has a static color while the Vista Color Transform application may change colors over time.

The software offers a pre-defined sets of colors that have names such as Patriotic, My Eyes!! and Winter displaying small preview images of the colors that are cycled through. If you take Winter for example you see white and icy colors when you click on edit.

Firefox: Open Links and Mailto's in external applications

I prefer to watch videos in my favorite video player VLC instead of watching them embedded on the web. If you click on a video file on a website you open it either in your default video viewer or view it right in your browser using a plugin. You may also open websites in different browsers which is great for developers who were using several add-ons to view a website in different browsers.

Just right-click the link and select the application that you want to use to view it from the menu. Launchy, that is the name of the Firefox add-on, supports more than 60 applications right out of the box with the ability to add more applications using an XML file.

A Windows Run Replacement

If you thought that this is going to be another article about Launchy you thought wrong. This time it is a freeware that may replace the Windows Run Function. Executor adds numerous features to the run dialog but keeps the handling as easy as possible at the same time.

The run command in the start menu is not touched at all but you can hijack the run shortcut Windows R if you like or use the defined Windows Z for opening Executor. It offers the complete features of the natural run implementation of Windows and adds many features to it.

Convert Web Widgets to Vista Sidebar Gadgets

I have talked to several Windows Vista users and all told me that they did not use the Vista sidebar because of the lack of good gadgets that could be shown there. Sure, some are really nice but the majority is utterly useless. Why would I want another clock in there for instance ?

The Amnesty Generator (Windows, Macintosh) tries to fill this gap by providing a clever way to convert thousands of web widgets to Vista gadgets that can be placed in the sidebar. The program is free and absolutely easy to use. All it needs is the html code of the widget to automatically convert it into a Vista sidebar gadget. The html code is displayed when you select a widget from the many databases that offer them.

firefox add keyword search

Use Keywords to search faster in Firefox

Firefox is already really comfortable when it comes to searching the web. One search box is displayed by default which is great if you want to do a fast search for something. Did you know that there is another way, even faster and better than this one ? Firefox supports so called keyword searches which means that you define a keyword for a certain search engine and can use that keyword to search it without visiting the website of that search engine.

Let me give you an example to clear things up. You may right-click any form field in Firefox and select the menu entry Add a Keyword for this search. Selecting this opens a new Add Bookmark menu which asks for a name and a keyword. I went to and did a right-click on their site search. I entered the keyword "e" and the name eBay.

example robots.txt

Check your robots.txt on Google's Webmaster Tools website.

A robots.txt tells the search engine robots about the directories and files that should be indexed on a website. A wrongly edited robots.txt file could mean that search engine robots are not crawling your website anymore with the result that new articles will not be indexed in the search engine index.

This can be quite devastating especially for webmasters who do earn their living from their websites. It takes up to two weeks until changes can be seen when you edit the robots.txt file which is way to long if you made a mistake.

Flitter a Flickr Twitter realtime screensaver

If you are looking for a rather unique screensaver for Windows 2000, XP or Windows Vista you should take a look at Flitter which is a mashup from Flickr and Twitter at the moment. What it does is that it is retrieving realtime data from both Flickr and Twitter to display those when the screensaver is active.

You obviously need a computer that is connected to the Internet to use this screensaver but it is very well worth it. The default setting for the screensaver pulls data from the public timelines of both Flickr and Twitter but you have the possibility to custom this further.

Use Folder Guide to open folders faster in Windows

I'm using some folders over and over again in my daily work routine. My mp3 folder for instance, my profile folder and the folder that contains most of my applications stored on my computer. I have been using shortcuts to access them until now but today I found a free software that adds favorite folders to the right-click menu.

Change your wallpapers automatically

I'm always looking for new free softwares out there and although I already found an automatic wallpaper changer called Wallpaper Juggler I decided to give the wallpaper changer ScrollWall a try. It is always good to be able to choose from more than one program that has a similar functionality.

ScrollWall offers a very clean interface with only a few options to choose from. You can choose if you want to stretch, center or tile wallpapers that do not fit your resolution and select the frequency of the change.

Interactive Cinema Game

Here is something that I found on Youtube and thought that it looked incredibly entertaining. We all know the drill that we are forced to watch dozens of advertisements in cinemas before the movies start which becomes increasingly boring if you go to the cinemas regularly. The title of the video is Human Joysticks (NewsBreaker Live interactive cinema game) which describes exactly what this is all about. Take some motion sensing cameras, a breakout video game, a big screen and an enthusiastic crowd and you are about to witness the funniest breakout game of all times.

Thunderbird Extension Contacts Sidebar

The Contacts Sidebar extension for the email software Mozilla Thunderbird displays the address book - or books - in the sidebar of Thunderbird beneath the mail folders. A real beauty is that this sidebar can be enabled and disabled with the F4 button which means that you only need to display it when you need the address book. All the possibilities of the address book are given in the sidebar as well, you can edit properties of your contacts or quickly choose a contact that you want to write a mail to. Here are some highlights taken from the description:

utorrent remote

Control uTorrent from a Website

I always thought that it would be nice to administrate uTorrent from work as well. Do things like adding new torrents, deleting old ones and the like would be really comfortable. The great thing is that this is actually possible if you use uTorrent. All you need is to enable to so called WebUi and download a small additional rar file that will be placed on your local computer. I would suggest that you download the latest official version of uTorrent but you could also use the beta versions that are posted in the forum.

xbox 360 console has been banned

Is Microsoft banning modified Xbox 360 consoles from Live?

The first news about Microsoft possibly banning modified Xbox 360 consoles from the Xbox Live service started to emerge yesterday in some known Xbox 360 forums. It is possible to modify the firmware of the Xbox 360 drive to be able to play backups which of course includes pirated games. There has been no official confirmation from Microsoft about this issue but the frequency of the posts can only lead to the conclusion that Microsoft is actually banning Xbox 360 systems with modded firmwares.

Spyware Terminator a free antispyware software

Spyware Terminator is a free antispyware software which can be downloaded in several versions. The main version contains the Spyware Terminator program which scans your system for spyware plus the so called Web Security Guard which assigns threat levels to websites in the search results. Both applications can also be downloaded separately from each other and I decided to download the Spyware Terminator without the Web Security Guard.

thunderbird remove duplicate emails

Automatically remove duplicate mails in Thunderbird

It happens sometimes that you find duplicate mails in your inbox in Thunderbird. This could happen for instance when you pull new emails from the mail server and get disconnected during that process. It could happen then that those emails will be retrieved again when you check for mails. Thunderbird has a nice hidden variable that defines how it should treat duplicate mails and I'm going to tell you how to set it correctly so that duplicate mails are removed automatically.

Games for the Weekend Online Boardgames

I grew up playing boardgames like Risk, Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit and witnessed that board games evolved almost as much as computer games did. I would like to introduce one of my favorite online boardgames websites where you can play about 50 excellent boardgames online. Boardgames include Settlers of Catan, Carcassone and Thurn and Taxis. All boardgames of the year and of course playable in multiplayer.

Ways to get the Coke Code for iTunes downloads

I think it is really fascinating that Coca Cola is doing another major promotion in Europe teaming up once again with iTunes and giving away 2 billion songs on iTunes along with other goodies such as tickets to concerts and iPods for codes that can be found in Coca Cola bottles. You had to use four codes to be able to download one song from iTunes in the last promotion and the new one will surely use the system as well. It should be noted that only selected songs could be downloaded in the last promotion.


Vidipedia a video encyclopedia

After introducing Teachertube just a few days earlier I received an email pointing me to Vidipedia which is a video encyclopedia, basically Wikipedia with Videos. The principle is of course the same. You search for a phrase or browse a category on Vidipedia and one or more results are shown on the next page. If a single result exists it will be shown in video player mode which loads and plays the video automatically.

Use custom themes in Windows Vista

Just like in Windows XP the ability to use custom themes in Windows Vista is limited. There is however a very convenient way to unlock the ability to use custom themes in Windows Vista. All you need is the free software Code Gazer which, when executed, unlocks the ability to use custom themes and also changes the Vista Aero theme to use the Glass effect on maximized windows as well.

More Angry Videogamer Videos

I really enjoy the shows from this guy. He is reviewing all those bad video games that came out for classic gaming systems such as the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis. It is pure fun to see how he bashes the video games into oblivion showing lots of in game footage. The technique behind his videos is getting better as well which makes it a pleasure to watch his rants. Be advised that this is not really suitable for minors.

My Vpod TV Video Publishing on Demand

When I first saw the homepage I thought I was seeing a Joost light version on the web. A fullscreen video of the infamous nunchuck guy was shown followed by several others. A menu would appear when I moved the mouse cursor over the lower region of the website showing the next videos on line and giving me some options to switch channels, skip videos and to open a secondary menu with more options.

Windows Vista Notebook Battery Saver

I have written an article a few days ago about the problem that the Vista Aero theme was consuming a lot of power which reduced battery life on notebooks by a measurable amount. One of my suggestions back then was to disable the Aero theme completely which is not really practicable if you want to work with Aero whenever the notebook is connected to a power source.

Attempted copyright infringement soon to become a crime

The first thing that came to my mind when I read "Attempted copyright infringement" was the term thought crime. It seems that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is pressing the U.S. Congress to enact a sweeping intellectual-property bill that would increase criminal penalties for copyright infringement, including "attempts" to commit piracy.

Use Autopatcher Vista to patch Vista automatically

I'm using a program called Autopatcher XP on my Windows XP system to apply all patches that Microsoft released in a month at once without connecting to Microsoft at all. This is a very convenient way to patch a operating system and I was looking for a way to do the same for my notebook running Windows Vista Home Premium. I found a reference to Autopatcher Vista on the excellent Windows Vista Tweaks blogs

Get your own real lightsaber

I always wanted to have one of those lightsabers since the first time that I was watching Star Wars back then when the first movie came out. We used all sorts of replacements like flashlights, sticks and swords to play Star Wars as kids, the rest was done by our imagination. Using those replacements did not make a big difference for us kids but it surely would feel awkward to do this as an adult.


Autosave what you type with Emsa Save my work

Did you ever experience the loss of a large text that you have written because you did press the wrong button, accidentally closed a window or a program crash ? I did and it really felt terribly to write everything again. I recently read a nice forum discussion about the subject at the Donation Coder blog where the thread starter was asking for a program that would log the text that he was writing to make sure that it would not get lost when something like the above happened.


TeacherTube learn while watching videos

Specialized Youtube clones are appearing every day. Some are relatively weak while some offer videos targeted only at a certain niche that is grateful for not having to search Youtube for the videos that they would like to watch. TeacherTube is one of the better Youtube clones. It concentrates solely on the teaching aspect of videos which means that you will only find videos on TeacherTube that "teach something" to the viewer.

Stardoll Play around with Paper Dolls

The Stardoll is definitely a great playground for children between the age of 7 and 16 but also suitable for everyone else who likes to dress and play around with paper dolls. The site offers two main areas. The first can be accessed without registering to Stardollls. You can pick a celebrity, e.g. Johnny Depp, Kylie Minogue or Heidi Klum and use a wardrobe to to outfit them. If you take Johnny you could dress him with the same clothes that he was wearing in The Pirates of the Caribbean or with a multitude of other clothes.

windows explorer tabs

Add Tabs to the Windows Explorer

I'm not able to live without tabbed browsing anymore and I suppose this is true for most Internet users. I found a great program called QT TabBar which adds the same functionality to the Windows Explorer. Installation of the free software is not complicated but rather unusual. There is no setup or install executable, the program that you have to start to install the Tabbar is RegisterQTTabBar.exe. The computer needs to be restarted afterwards and you need to activate the toolbar in the View > Toolbars menu.

Autoplay Repair

If you ever wanted full control over the Autplay feature of your Windows operating system you should take a look at the free software Autplay Repair which gives you excellent control over every aspect of Autoplay. Since there are different autoplay menus for different kind of media that are inserted you may select to remove, modify or add options for those menus. It is furthermore possible to disable the autoplay feature for drive letters. If your don't want the autoplay feature for your CD writer you could disable it here easily.

Enable Vista Aero in Windows Vista Home Basic

Microsoft decided that The Aero interface would not be available for Windows Vista Home Basic users. I personally dislike the new trend to offer several versions of a program with different functionality naming them basic, premium and ultimate. It confuses consumers who have enough troubles to work with the operating system less alone deciding which of the many versions of Windows Vista would suit their needs.

Random Time Wall Clock

If you are looking for a rather unique clock you should take a look at the so called Rnd_Time Infinite Wall Clock. The Rnd_Time stands of course for Random Time but it is not the time that is shown randomly but the placement of the hours on the walls. The hours can be placed randomly on the wall while the clock is still displaying the correct time. It could be hard to tell the time but it sure looks unique. You do get 12 blocks that display the hours from 1 to 12 and another block for the clock hands.

windows registry repair

Windows Registry Repair

The Windows registry is filled with all sorts of information over time. Many programs write information in it and sometimes those information do not get removed when the software that created them is uninstalled. Invalid registry entries can be the cause for crashes, drops in system performance and other erratic behavior. It does therefor make sense to remove those entries that are no longer needed from the registry to fix these issues.

Top 5 Plugins for Spamihilator

I have been using the anti-spam software Spamihilator when I was still using Opera Mail for my mail accounts. Spamihilator basically sits between your mail program and the Internet mail server analyzing all incoming mail. Spam mails will not be send to the mail client but remain in Spamihilator where you could delete them or mark them as free of spam. One great feature of Spamihilator is that you can install plugins that add functionality.

Extend Windows Vista Battery Live for Notebooks

I bought a Toshiba Notebook soon after Windows Vista was released and was wondering about the huge battery drain whenever I was using the Notebook without a power source. The battery drain is apparently caused by the Aero theme and the power settings for the wireless adapter. I was not even sure at the beginning if I was running Windows Aero or just a different interface but soon found out that the Aero interface, one of the few new things in Windows Vista, was active and draining battery life like crazy. I decided to disable the Aero interface because I could not see the use of it after all. Sure, it offers some nice looking effects but that is not the main purpose that I'm using the notebook after all.

15 cool Firefox Tricks

I found this interesting article at the Lifehacker website. The articles lists 15 tweaks and tips for Firefox of which several have not been known by me. Did you for instance know that you could move a page down by pressing the spacebar, that you could move around tabs by pressing CTRL + TAB or that you could use so called smart keywords for searching IMDB in the Address Bar (try typing in imdb Johnny Depp) ?

uxtheme multi-patcher

5 beautiful visual styles for Windows XP

The feature to add your own visual styles to Windows XP is locked by default and you need to replace the original uxtheme.dll with a patched unlocked one to be able to add visual styles to the operating system. Download the patched uxtheme.dll from Softpedia and do the following. Rename the original file which can be found in the system32 folder of your Windows XP installation to uxtheme.dll.old and move the downloaded version into system32. You will have to restart your computer afterwards before the changes are recognized.

Why Stumbleupon is better than Digg for Webmasters

Let me introduce Stumbleupon and Digg first in case you never heard of this services before. (must be living on the moon for a couple of years, uhm ?) Every user may post and vote for articles on Digg. New articles are kept in the Upcoming Stories section for a maximum of 24 hours. If the article receives enough votes in that time it will be transferred to the frontpage and drive incredible traffic to the website where the article is hosted. If the votes are not sufficient it will be removed and can only be reached using the site search.

Weekend Fun The Last Stand Flashgame

Finding great flash games is not as easy as it sounds. I found the game The Last Stand at the donation coder blog and was blown away by the gameplay. It looks like your typical shoot all incoming enemies type of games also known as base defender gamers. At second look it introduces several strategic elements that make every approach different. You have to defend your barricades against Zombies at night and search for better weapons and other survivors at daylight. The goal is to hold out as long as possible and hope that someday a rescue team will come and get you out of this situation.

Top 10 Future Display Technologies

If you thought that you would be starring at those boring LCD or Plasma displays for the next ten years you will now be proven wrong. Some displays look incredible cool. I personally would love to lay my hands on the Samsung 12mm thick LCD display, the Toshiba Interactive 3D Display and the Touchless Touchscreen. I decided to only include my favorites from the ten future display technologies and suggest that you head out to the original website who posted the list to see the others.