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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

February 26, 2006



  Hi Everyone.

This week: A new freebie give-away. Free antivirus programs compared. Encrypting your data. Playing games with a penguin. Finding unknown devices. Lots of cool websites to check out.

I hope you enjoy this week's letter. Be sure to write me for advice or yell at me for messing up.


Photobucket Give-away

a freebie from ClifNotes, Feb 2006


Two years ago, I started up a blog site to document my adventures in freeware. I soon discovered that my blog host did not allow any local storage of images. That was bad, because I knew that in order for me to use images on a website, the images had to be stored somewhere out on the net that everyone could access. Images can be the difference between a boring website and an exciting web experience.


What was I going to do?


I was fairly new to web publishing, but I had heard there were places on the net that would store images for you so that you could display them on a website. Finally, I found Photobucket's image hosting service. The best part was that they also offered free accounts and I've been using their service ever since.


Photobucket is a free, photo and image hosting service that empowers individuals to publish the contents of their digital life. Photobucket was recently named the Fastest Growing Site of 2005 by Nielsen//NetRatings and is now the leading image hosting, sharing, and publishing site in the world. They have over 11 Million registered users and are now growing by over 1.2 Million users per month.


Photobucket users are able link their images in any of their Blogs, Auctions, Discussion Forums, Albums, Emails, in personalized Photobucket albums, and in other unique ways that the Photobucket service comes up with every day.


I recently talked to the nice folks at Photobucket, and they agreed to let me give away a one year Premium account. The Photobucket Premium account allows you to upload up to 1 Gigabyte of photos and images, and would normally cost you $25.


Just email me a short letter telling me why you want a free Premium Photobucket account and in about two weeks I'll announce the winner.


Anyone can sign up for a standard free Photobucket account that allows you to store hundreds of photos. Go to Photobucket now for a free account or to learn more about this great free service.





Free Antivirus Review

by ClifNotes, Feb 2006




Back in May of 2005, I panicked. I had read somewhere that my free AVG antivirus product was going to go shareware with the next version. That set me to looking for a new free AV product. Within a week, I was amazed to find not only one additional free AV program but two, avast! and AntiVir. Finally, I settled on avast! and I've been using it ever since. It turned out that AVG continued to offer a free edition and my fears had been totally unfounded.


If you want to get a good idea of how these three products stack up against each other, check out this review by Mary Landesman at About.com.


I've used all three products in the past few years and I like them all. It's up to you to choose which is your favorite. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with any of them.


avast Home Edition

AntiVir Personal Edition Classic

AVG Free Edition


Copy Path - right click on any file to nab the path

Download - Freeware

reviewed by ClifNotes, Feb 2006




Copy Path is a tiny utility that allows you to right click on any file and copy the full system path to your Windows Clipboard. Many people may not find this a big help, but if you deal with network files and such all day at work, like I do, you may find this little tool is a real timesaver.


Installing Copy Path is a simple task. "Put CopyPath.exe somewhere you won't lose it. Run it. Check either or both of the association check boxes. Press OK. That's it. Copy Path will now appear on the right-click context menus of the items you have selected."



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Copy Path is a small utility written in C++ (doesn't require any runtimes) which copies whatever is sent to its command line to the clipboard.


Flash Note - Not a Notepad but better and faster!

Download - Freeware

article by Tony at FreewareFan, Dec 2005



Advice from FreewareFan

If you're like me, copying interesting snippets, URL's, jotting notes etc. but find that most notebook type programs take too long to launch and open each time, then Flashnote is for you!


I like this program because it launches like lightening (Alt S or click on program icon in the systray) and I can choose my background and text colors.


It's small and hardly uses any resources, automatically saves whenever you minimize or close. Use it like you would a whiteboard. Just write and leave it there. Even if your PC is off for a week, as soon as you start up, Presto! Your notes are there.


If you want to keep a copy of that whiteboard, just save it, wipe it clean and start all over again. You can re-load it again anytime. This one's a "must try".


The page is a continuous page (never-ending). It automatically saves your notes in a default txt file.


If you want to keep your musings just "Save As..." (a name) and it's saved as a txt file ... then delete everything and you start with a nice clean page again.

read more cool reviews at Freeware Fan



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Quote from the author

Just when you need a rough copy to save or to process some pieces of a text, here is Flashnote � small, quick and convenient. You just have to press the shortcut combination and in a flash of a second you will have your rough copy before you. This done, press ESC and the program hides. Simple like that. You needn't rack your brains to find a place for a text, to run Notepad or your favorite PIM. Everything could be done quicker, simpler and in a more convenient way.


TrueCrypt - locking away your private info

Homepage - Freeware

by Giorgos, Feb 2006



Recommendation from Giorgos

Maybe you want to take a look at TrueCrypt. TrueCrypt can encrypt a folder, drive or partition. You can encrypt your private files within a file and when you want access them, mount the file as a virtual drive.


There are many other like this, but unlike the rest, its Open Source, and that means there are no hidden backdoors in the code. It's a full version, with no lite version limits, and there is no restriction of virtual drive's size. I created a 3GB virtual drive. It even has anti-keylogger features preventing snapshots and such during its work. Finally, TrueCrypt is compatible with any PC, unlike Strong Box, which is powerfull also, but can run only at a couple of processors.


If you have a free account at SourceForge, you will notified at newer version releases. An alternate download link, which is faster, is at Snapfiles.



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Quote from truecrypt.org

Free open-source disk encryption software for Windows XP/2000/2003 and Linux

Main Features:


  • Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk.
  • Encrypts an entire hard disk partition or a device, such as USB flash drive.
  • Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent.
  • Provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password:
    1. Hidden volume (steganography – more information may be found here.
    2. No TrueCrypt volume can be identified (volumes cannot be distinguished from random data.
  • Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Blowfish (448-bit key), CAST5, Serpent, Triple DES, and Twofish.
  • Mode of operation: LRW (CBC supported as legacy).
  • Based on Encryption for the Masses (E4M) 2.02a, conceived in 1997.


Hoekey - keyboard shortcuts for Windows

Website - Freeware

by tf76 @ TopFreeware



Review by TopFreeware.net

Ever wanted to assign hotkeys to run programs, listen to music, adjust volume etc... Well HOEKEY is for you. It's a very small program that takes up only 180k in resources and is run by a configurable .ini file. It comes with good doc's and is fairly easy to use. Definitely a keeper, enjoy.


be sure to visit TopFreeware and see the excellent index of freeware located there



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Quote from Hoekey homepage

HoeKey lets you assign most keys on your keyboard to many different actions. You set this up in a config file.


SuperTux - game with a penguin instead of a plumber

Website Download - Freeware

by PierreRenaud, Feb 2006

translated from French, by Clif, with help from Google



Pierre's lucky find

SuperTux takes aim at the game worship of Nintendo's Mario Brothers, by replacing Mario with a penguin. The handling of the character is flexible and you jump with pleasure from platform to platform while snagging the passing coins. The current version includes 9 enemies and 26 levels that are perfectly playable. The included level editor is simple to use and works well in full screen mode. The play is controlled with the keyboard or joystick.


Find more goodies at Pierre's Lucky Finds



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Quote from supertux.berlios.de

SuperTux is a classic 2D jump'n run sidescroller game in a style similar to the original SuperMario games. The Milestone1 release of SuperTux features 9 enemies, 26 playable levels, software and OpenGL rendering modes, configurable joystick and keyboard input, new music and completly redone graphics. Together with a little story, we hope to provide a good gaming experince with this first Milestone release.


ID3-TagIT - change MP3 ID3 tags easily

Download - Freeware

by Furman87, Feb 2006



An essential from Furman

MP3 tags are one thing I obsess over. There's nothing worse than looking up at your music player to see songs in the wrong case, misspellings, or maybe nothing because there are no tags in the file. Another annoyance is when you have songs named differently because you chose a different scheme when you ripped your songs.


All of my problems are now solved with ID3-TagIT. This software does everything, and I mean everything related to managing your MP3 tags and file names. I'm just going to go over the highlights of what this thing does, but believe me when I tell you it does it all. For free.

read the rest of the article at Furman87's Essential Software



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Quote from id3-tagit.de

ID3-TagIT is a programm for editing, adding, or deleting ID3 TAGs in MP3 files. Single file and batch editing are both supported. Edit one, ten or all your MP3 files at once!


















The most promising Web 2.0 software of 2006

by SpaghettiTech, Feb 2006



Another hot dish from Carlo at SpaghettiTech

Dion Hinchcliffe just released an update to his Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005 roundup: lots of new Web2.0 applications are listed in The most promising Web 2.0 software of 2006.


The list includes some of the most interesting Ajax tools released or extensively overhauled since January 1st, 2006 and is organized into categories (Personal Productivity and Organization; Search; Video Storage, Sharing, and Search; Real Estate; Music; Ajax Start Pages; Other Promising Web 2.0 Software): for each category, Hinchcliffe suggests a 'best offering' - along with a brief description of the application - and a series of 'Runners-up'.


Read about more cool stuff at SpaghettiTech


Yellow Errors - Hardware Not Recognized by Windows

tip from TerryStockdale


Tip from Terry

One of the new Terry's Computer Tips readers, wrote me this week about his "yellow error icons" problems after reinstalling Windows XP on his computer, and I responded:


Terry, I'm a new reader and enjoy your letter a lot. I just put a fresh install of XP Pro Sp2 on my Pentium4 Alienware computer. All is well but in device manager. I have 3 yellow error icons in front of 'Ethernet Controller', 'Multimedia Audio Controller', and 'PCI Input Device'. At first I thought I just needed simple driver updates but so far I'm not having any luck. Any help would be greatly appreciated


I responded that it sounded like he needed to install the drivers from ...

read the rest at Terry's Computer Tips


Notes from Clif

Great tip Terry, now let me add one to this. Those aggravating yellow marks can also sometimes be helped when you use UnknownDevices, a cool freeware from Catfish. (see below)


Unknown Devices - a quick way to find drivers for PCI devices

Website - Freeware

reviewed by ClifNotes, Mar 2004, Feb 2006




If you have a device or card in the PC and it uses the PCI bus, then this program is one of the very best ways to search for drivers. Just like Belarc it will give you the pertinent information on the device. It doesn't stop there though. You can right click on any information listed and it will send your browser off to search for that piece of information on the internet. Quickly find drivers or manuals for "Unknown" devices on your system.


Just download the the UnknownDevices zip file and extract it somewhere. All you have to do is double click the exe file to run it. No other installation is needed.



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Quote from Halfdone.com

Unknown Devices helps you find what those unknown devices in Device Manager really are. By checking Device Manager for unknown devices and extracting information from it, this program attempts to figure out what the device is. You might not have to open your case or look up random numbers off of PCI cards to figure out what they are.















Concise Freeware - new freeware index website

Website - Freeware index

reviewed by ClifNotes, Feb 2006



Notes from Clif

I often run into new sites that offer cool freeware and links. ConciseFreeware.com is very nice website, so I contacted the author to ask him about it. Here's what he wrote me.


I wanted to have the best collection of Freeware programs and I noticed no really good thorough collection exists on the Internet. I saw the potential of the website and started working day and night.


ConciseFreeware.com is very new and it's at it's start. It came to life December 2005. I am currently looking for an investor and for other ways to promote the site. I have another website for my art and creations: http://www.yotamelal.com.




Websites I have visited recently

Hover over the links to see my comments.











Google Pages

by SarahInTampa, Feb 2006



News from Sarah

Just when you thought Google had slowed down there for a minute....well, they're at it again! The latest offering from the web giant is Google Pages. Google Pages is an online WYSIWYG editor for creating and publishing "useful, attractive web pages in just minutes." Google Pages are hosted by Google, of course, at ( http://yourgmailusername.googlepages.com ). As of right now, they are not taking any more signups, but you can fill in your email address to be notified when they are ready. Who wants to bet this will soon be integrated into Gmail somehow? I'm betting that Google Pages/Gmail users' website URLs will automatically show up in their Gmail contact information form -- a field that is still curiously missing, forcing you to store this info in the "notes" section. Not too handy for business contacts, is it?


See more news at Sarah In Tampa dotcom.


Note from Clif

Want a free 2.7Gb Gmail account?

Email me at the address above and be sure to type "I WANT GMAIL" in the subject line.


Box.net - Web 2.0 Storage

by SarahInTampa, Feb 2006



News from Sarah

Box.net is about to relaunch with a new, redesigned site, and I got a sneak peek. Box.net is an online storage website with Web 2.0 flair. But beyond it's bright and cheerful AJAX-ian shell lies a truly useful, and dare I say, affordable service.


With Box.net, you get a gigabyte for free (compare to Backpackit or Xdrive, where no storage is free). With the free account, you have a 5 MB file size limit and can share those files privately with friends. Upgrade to the premium account for $5/month and you get ...


read the rest of the article at Sarah In Tampa dotcom























Frapper - you people live all over the world!

I invite all of you to record your locations on this map. You can include as little or as much information as you wish. I think you'll enjoy seeing yourself there.


Here's a small look at the frapper map. Click and drag to see the rest of the world.



Write your own review


I get many of the reviews in the newsletter from the readers. You don't have to be a genius or computer guru. Just answer a few questions and send me a review. I'll probably put you in the newsletter.






Have fun and surf safely.



http://clifnotes.net & http://freewarewiki.pbwiki.com

Devoted to promoting Freeware and Free Information

Want a free 2.7Gb Gmail account?

Email me at the address above and be sure to type "I WANT GMAIL" in the subject line.


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