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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

March 5, 2006



  Hi Everyone.

This week: Get a chance at a free upgrade to a Photobucket account. More ways to listen and save music. A new firewall review. Another cool screensaver. More free games and 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


Note: This contest was scheduled to run two weeks, but I'll have to extend it for another week.


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.



XMPlay - great internet radio and mp3 player

Download - Freeware

reviewed by ClifNotes




XMPlay is a fast, lite, music jukebox program that plays many music and streaming audio formats. There are skins available, and it also supports some WinAmp plugins. XMPlay may not do everything but it keeps getting better and it's very good at what it does. Thanks to Nob for reminding me about XMPlay.



larger picture


Quote from xmplay.com

XMPlay is an audio player, supporting the OGG / MP3 / MP2 / MP1 / WMA / WAV / CDA / MO3 / IT / XM / S3M / MTM / MOD / UMX audio formats, and PLS / M3U / ASX / WAX playlists. A load more formats are also supported via plugins. When XMPlay was first released in 1998, only the XM format was supported, hence the name "XMPlay".


AudioCrusher - Save your CDs onto your hard drive

Download - Freeware

by Scott at FreewareArena, Feb 2006



Editor's Pick at Freeware Arena

Category: MultiMedia › CD Rippers

Author's Name: SysDesk

Homepage: www.sysdesk.de

Version: 1.4

Compatibility: Win 98/NT/ME/2000/XP/2003

File Size: 276 Kb

Published: Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:45 pm

Last Updated: Tue Sep 27, 2005 9:52 pm



Save your CDs onto your hard drive and convert between file types.


AudioCrusher is a program which allows you to extract digital audio from audio CDs and save the audio data in various sound formats such as MP3 and WAV for example. The audio is extracted digitally without any loss of quality. AudioCrusher supports on the fly normalization and a wide range of sound formats such as RAW Audio, WAV, MP3 via LameEnc, BladeEnc or the Frauenhofer Codec, Ogg Vorbis and WMA. More formats are available through the Audio Compression Manager or the Command Line Encoder interface.


AudioCrusher can get information on audio CDs through the freedb database and is able to create SFV-checksum files of the converted files to ensure file validity later on.


AudioCrusher gives the user full control over the ID3 tags which will be appended to the created MP3 files and can create WinAmp play lists with extended play list information.


AudioCrusher is highly configurable while it is still small and very easy to use.



larger picture


Moveit - move installed applications to another hard drive

Download - Freeware

reviewed by ClifNotes, Apr 2005, Mar 2006




This program seems to work. I tried it out on an installed program I have. It was a program I wasn't planning on keeping, so I wasn't worried about losing it or messing it up. Moveit gave me an error message and said it couldn't move my files for me but I just skipped the error message and continued. Moveit scans all the registry looking for references to the program you want to move. It changes the registry entries so that you can run the program from the hard drive you've chosen. It took a long time for it to scan the registry. When Moveit was done I just copied the program I wanted to move to the area on the other hard drive where I wanted it to run. It's not trouble free but it did work.


Update Mar 2006

I've had reports from others who haven't had much luck with Moveit.

Letter from Ross in Italy:

On Xp I tried to move (using Movit) OpenOffice v. 1.1.3 but it failed, I lost the application ! :-) Coa2 seems better, I moved Office 2003, Winmx, Pop Pepper, TugZip and other and it seems to work better


Coa2 is no longer freeware so I can't recommend it. There are copies available online, but they aren't legal copies from PC Magazine.


Quote from the readme file

Having a lot of programs on your hard drive is a usual thing today, but someday such users certainly will face such problem as moving registered program from one place to another. It is a problem, because almost every program stores some data into registry (such as used file paths, for example), and you can't just move program folder from where it is to another location, because in 90% cases application will not run correctly anymore. So was before. Today MoveIT! will help you to solve this problem


Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall — the Review

A tip from Terry at Terrys Computer Tips


Sunbelt Software has recently released Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall, their new personal computer firewall software package. SKPF is available in full-function mode (paid license) and in a reduced-function free (licensed free for personal and/or non-commercial use) versions. Actually, it is the same program — after the full-function 30-day trial, you can purchase a license key to reactivate the additional functions or if you don't qualify for the free license.


Why the long name? Sunbelt purchased the existing, respected firewall program Kerio Personal Firewall from Kerio in December.

read the rest of this article at Terrys website


Matrix KS - great freeware screensaver

by ClifNotes, Mar 2006


I happened to be walking by a co-worker's PC and I noticed his cool looking Matrix screensaver running. I saw that it was from Kellysoftware.com so I clicked on over to check it out. After installing I found it to be one of the best freeware Matrix screensavers around. It has lots of features and it even displays your PC system properties at the top of the screen if you want it to.


larger image


Download Matrix_ks screensaver


Review, Intellisync for Yahoo

by John Hood, Mar 2006


Ok, so you have a Palm PDA, or Outlook, or Eudora mail, or what have you, AND you have a Yahoo account. How do you keep calendar, contacts, notes and tasks, synchronized between the two, without retyping everything from one to the other? Relax. Yahoo's got your back.


What it does: Intellisync for Yahoo uses the powerful Intellisync software, long a standard with PDA users, to synchronise Yahoo calendar contacts, notes and tasks with any other application supported by intellisync (Palm Desktop, Outlook, Outlook Express and Eudora are a few. Intellisync for Yahoo is available to all Yahoo mail account users, by going to the Calendar tab, and looking for the "sync" link in the upper right corner. It'll take you to the installer.


Setup is easy. After installation, you input your Yahoo username and password. From there go to "Setup," and select "Choose" and you can pick the program you want to sync with your Yahoo. Synchronisation across the two is a single-click affair. It's like backing up your local information to the web, or having your Yahoo info available locally.


Traps and tricks: Occasionally, Intellisync will duplicate a single data entry on the sync'ed program. Suddenly your PDA or Outlook or what-have-you will sport two copies of a contact, appointment, note or task. Deleting just the duplicate entry doesn't work. Instead delete both entries and resync with yahoo. End of problem.


Intellisync doesn't support multi-day appointments. I've learned to make single day appointments for each day.


These are small foibles in an otherwise terrific program! I love the convenience of having my PDA data available online, and online Yahoo data in my pocket. I can also edit my Palm data from my computer keyboard. Separate copies of Intellisync for Yahoo, at work and at home, mean that the same data is available no matter where I am.



John H.


Website: John's Best of Free Software



















Games - Sometimes there is a free lunch

article at Wired News, Jan 2006


Clive Thompson at Wired News says:

If you really want to see innovation, there's only one place to go: Off the grid. You have to find game designers who actively opt out of the market -- by producing indie games they give away for free online. These days, this subculture is happily thriving, fed by game-school grads and underemployed programmers who, like indie musicians, crave to break out of old boxes and want to get as huge an audience as possible.

read the rest at Wired News to see some cool free games


My ideal freeware-only machine

from Carlo at SpaghettiTech


I keep an updated list of my favourite free tools, with some valuable options per category.

Today, I'll share with you my (current) choices, an 'ideal fresh-install setup' for a freeware-only machine:



1. Security and privacy:


  • Anti virus: AntiVir Personal Edition Classic;
  • Anti trojan: A-squared;
  • Firewall: Kerio 2.1.5;
  • Anti spyware: Ad-Aware + Spybot S&D + Spywareblaster + Spywareguard;
  • HIPS: Winpatrol free;
  • HOSTS file: Bluetack, managed via Hoster;
  • Encryption: AxCrypt; TrueCrypt (if on Xp/2000);
  • Passwords management: KeePass;
  • Miscellaneous: HijackThis!;



4. Internet:


  • Browser: Opera + Firefox + Maxthon;
  • Instant Messaging: Miranda;
  • Ftp client: FileZilla;
  • VoIP software phone: X-Lite;
  • Download Manager: Free Download Manager;
  • Email: PopTray + Thunderbird;
  • Weather: Weather Pulse;
  • Misc.: NetMeter;



3. Multimedia:


  • Player: MediaMonkey Free;
  • Ripper/Encoder: EAC;
  • Editor: Audacity;
  • Misc.: Klite-Mega Codec Pack; Screamer Radio;



4. Graphics:


  • Photo editing: GIMP;
  • Viewer: IrfanView;
  • Screenshots: Screenshot Captor;



5. Utilities:


  • Cleaner: RegSeeker + Eraser + CCleaner;
  • Defrag: New Defrag (if on W98);
  • Task manager: Process Explorer;
  • File Manager: Free Commander 2005;
  • Archiver: IzArc;
  • Notepad Replacement: PsPad;
  • System information: SIW;
  • File recovery: Pc Inspector;
  • Misc.: Dll Archive; Timer; Atomic Clock Sync; Unlocker;



6. Office and productivity:


  • Suite: OpenOffice;
  • PDF reader: Foxit Reader;
  • PDF creator: PDF creator;
  • Blogging: w.Bloggar;
  • Notes: ATnotes;
  • Html Editor: NVU;
  • CSS Editor: TopStyle Lite;


the links to these great freeware programs are at Spaghettti Tech



Computers have it in for me

by John Hood, Mar 2006


If you watch the movie Jurassic Park, there is a scene when the paleontologist, played by Sam Neil, is looking at a computer generated image of a buried dinosaur. When he goes to point out the various features of the dinosaur, the computer display suddenly dissolves into a mass of static:

(Researcher) "What did you do?"

(Ellie) (Grinning) "He touched it!"

(Grant) "These things have it in for me, I swear."


Probably not Doctor Grant, but here are some possibilities ...


1: Excessive static charge or magnetic interference

2: Input overshoot

3: Too much running or installed

4: Temp file clogging.

5: Out of rev

6: Overheating


All of these are fairly easy to fix.


1: Static or Magnetic

Computer chips function at very low voltage levels. These levels are about the same as static electricity that is collected or generated by the human body. As a result, when a person has high static charge and touches a computer, the person does not get shocked, the computer does. Stray static electricity can enter the chips, causing erratic behavior by the PC. Rebooting the computer clears it out.


Some people (like Dr. Grant above) may be biologically at a higher electrical potential. Computers don’t have it in for him, they just can’t tolerate his electrical charge. Other factors for electrical charge are long hair, clothing made of animal fiber (wool, angora, cashmere, etc.) carpeted flooring, dry room air. Any two of these factors can lead to a static problem.


Before getting a haircut or buying a new wardrobe, try a can of anti-static spray on the carpet. Also, try to ground yourself on metal before working with the computer.


What goes for static electricity, also goes for magnets. Keep them away from the computer case. For sure, don’t stick magnets on the computer case.


2: Input Overshoot

When you launch an icon or press Enter, the computer needs a few seconds to execute the instruction you just gave it. Be sure to give it that time. Slamming a computer with too much input is the same as screaming at a person: You may be saying important things, but they can't hear it through the onslaught. Slow down a little. You will actually be MORE productive.


3: Too much running or installed

“But I’m only using Internet Explorer and a few other programs.”

You may be, but the computer is actually running far more than that. Programs install on your hard drive and run when Windows does, without your knowing it. To fix this, find “Control Panel,” “Add/Remove Programs.” Go down that list, and remove anything that you know you don’t need. If you aren’t sure what it is, best to leave it alone. To check what is running when Windows starts up, use StartUp Control, a free program available at



4: Temp file clogging

Windows collects bits of data, that don’t always go away when you shut Windows down. Go to “Start”, “Run” and type

Cleanmgr Enter. You now have a screen that will allow you to clean out all that garbage and make your computer run more smoothly. If you get “File not Found” - try http://www.ccleaner.com/ which does mostly the same thing. Do this periodically. Your computer will thank you.


5: Out of Rev

Periodically, make a visit to Windows Update. Here are the latest in bug fixes and service packs for your machine. The first few times, you will probably have a LOT of patches to apply. Over time though, patching will be easy.


6: Overheating

Computers should work at a temperature of 68 degrees. They generate much more heat than that, which is why computers have fans equipped. Is the fan working and clear of debris? The more “gunk” the fan has, the harder it is to keep it’s innards cool, and the slower it goes. The fan outlet should have at least four inches of clearance so that hot air can blow away. Gunk builds up, so check it occasionally. See Fred Langa's article: Getting The Grunge Out Of Your PC.


John H.


Website: John's Best of Free Software
















Calendar of Updates - find out when to update your security

Website - Free Security Services

reviewed by ClifNotes and Haraldo, Feb 2006



Notes from Clif

Calendar of Updates (CoU) is an online source of knowledge about security and the security software you need to protect your PC. A quick visit to the forums at CoU will also allow you to get email reminders for each of your security programs that need to be updated. This is nice, because you don't have to remember to visit CoU to look around. However, if you don't go there often, you might be missing out on a lot of other neat stuff they have there.


This week, Haraldo, an administrator at the Calendar of Updates forums, wrote to me to ask me if I wouldn't mind updating my review. Since my last mention of CoU, their websites, forums, and services have expanded substantially.


I wrote back and asked about a few of the details. Haraldo replied with a very good overview of the resources available CoU.


=== From Haroldo ===

1. Users of all levels visit CoU thanks to the dedicated volunteers who continually update the security information forums as well as the Calendar of Updates, which lists most of the security progams definition and program updates.


2. The most popular feature of the site is the Calendar of Updates. Our unique easy to read format allows a visitor a quick glance of the daily updates. Along with update information, we typically alert our users to major security news headlines by linking from the calendar to our support forums.


3. We currently have almost 2,000 registered members and an untold number of unregistered guests who typically visit repeatedly throughout the day...every day of the year!


We have a staff page indicating all of our team members.


Here are some of our website statistics.


4. Our site is forever a work in progress. We strive to provide a 'one stop shopping experience' for security minded users. We cater to users of all levels by providing:


  • An entry level training course and introduction to the important security related tools (anti-malware scanners, preventatives and helpful tips) through our very successful and well appreciated CoU-niversity
  • A broad range of help forums for the intermediate user.
  • Vital security information for our advanced users.


5. Our future plans include:


  • A revamped web site
  • Additional courses in basic security training (an extension to CoU-niversity)
  • An upper level 'institute for advanced studies' providing training for intermediate and advanced users wishing to further their education.
  • Subscription services (allowing product specific monitoring of updates and upgrades)
  • Proprietary product research. We currently have a few studies of the relative effectiveness of some of the security related tools. As issues (and new threats) arise, we will unveil studies that can help the end user decide on the specific product or strategies to help protect their computing environment.

=== End ===


Be sure to drop by CoU sometime to take a look. You'll often find something you need to update or learn about.


Freebstuff.com - nice clean freeware

Website - Freeware host

reviewed by Mycle, Feb 2006



Recommended by Mycle

While looking for some realtime recording software, I came across Freebstuff.com and their 'mothersite' Code-it.com.


Not only did I find the Real Time Recorder program I was looking for, but I also discovered a whole wealth of neat small programs from audio recording, mixing, and playing, to software for planning and speech stuff. I also found the ticker I had been searching for. Note Ticker allows you to scroll your customized text while you listen to an equally customized playlist of wav or mp3 files!


'Code-it-software' provides you with video tutorials and is proud of their no spyware, adware or any type of intrusive code policy. The software downloads fast, is easy to use, and works very well, as far as I could tell.


If you want to learn the language of the Lakota Indians, well, you can find your pet software right there. Go look at Freebstuff.com.


Best, Mycle

check out Mycle's website



WOW.. all this for FREE!


Quote from Freebstuff.com

All software offered on this site is 100% FREE. Absolutely NO adware, spyware, backdoor santas, blended threats, browser helper objects, dialers, drive-by downloads, hijackers, honeypot, keyloggers, malware, parasites, parasiteware, scumware, slimeware, snoopware, spam, system monitors, theifware, tracking cookies, trashware, trojan horses, viruses, web bugs, worms, or zombies. WOW - that was a mouth full!




Websites I have visited recently

Hover over the links to see my comments.











Windows Live Expo is Live

news from Sarah, Mar 2006


Windows Live Expo is Microsoft's answer to Ebay. However, it claims to be more than just an ad listing service -- it's described as a "social listing service that allows members to find and sell items, discover information, and meet other parties in their area." The key word here is "social." Windows Live Expo is hoping that its unique features draw people away from the auction powerhouse and onto their service instead. Some of these unique features include ...


read the rest of the article at Sarah In Tampa - comments?


Google fixes 'minor' Gmail flaw

Source: News.com.com - Mar 2006


Google has fixed a flaw in its Gmail Web based e-mail service after the problem was disclosed by a blogger, the company said Thursday.


The flaw could allow JavaScript code to run when viewing a message in Gmail, potentially allowing malicious code to be used by an attacker to compromise a Gmail account, according to a blogger who calls himself "Anthony."


The blogger, who claims to be a 14-year-old student, found the flaw when sending code from his Yahoo Web mail account to his Gmail account, he wrote on Wednesday.





Notes from Clif

Wow! That was a fast fix. The blogger posted it on Wednesday and Google had it fixed on Thursday. I wish all services were that responsive.























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.



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