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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

April 2, 2006




Hi Everyone.

Thanks for reading my newsletter. Each week, I will have freeware reviews, tips, tricks, news, and lots of cool websites for you 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.




Windows Defender

formerly known as Microsoft Anti-Spyware, Beta 2

review by Terry at TerrysComputerTips.com, Mar 2006


Still in "beta" after over a year of public release by Microsoft, and very wide-spread use, the program formerly known as Microsoft Anti-Spyware now has a brand new name — and it is still called a "beta" version. Of course, this was a commercial program before Microsoft bought it.


Microsoft has released the beta 2 of the renamed Microsoft Anti-Spyware program. Consistent with previous announcements, the program is now called Windows Defender.


... There was another setting about which I want to warn you ...


find out why Terry recommends caution using Windows Defender


Notes from Clif

I recently tried Windows Defender and to be honest, I wasn't impressed. The problem I have testing programs like this is that I keep my system pretty clean. I don't have any way to tell if it's actually doing anything.


I ended up keeping Windows Defender installed, but I killed the autorun entry for it and I set the Windows Defender service on "manual" so that I can use it when I want to, but it isn't running all the time.


Try Windows Defender, for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 only


Gmail Skins - customize Gmail

review by BillWebb, Mar 2006


As you can see from the screen shot, there's a new Firefox extension out called Gmail Skins. There were some previous efforts that involved modifying the Chrome files in Mozilla and Firefox, but this one is a simple extension install like any other.




Gmail Skins allows you to change colors, according to a rather limited palette, and do some other stuff. This is sort of spotty, because the edition I have doesn't show you the correct color in the sample window and it's sort of fun to see what you actually get. Just a bug, probably fixed by now. Frankly, I'm OK with the native blue, although at the moment I'm using a pleasant pale olive...but wait, there's more!


If you order NOW, they'll send you, not a set of Ginsu knives, but the ability to move the sidebar stuff from the left side of the screen to the top. Even better, once there it can be set to remain onscreen while you scroll, making it easy - finally - to find the buttons you need without scrolling back to the top again. A worthwhile tweak, with colors a nice little bonus.


And, in Google's inimitable style of giving you little gifts and then letting you discover them for yourself, I note that we now have the ability to add HTML, tables, photo URLs and smilies to our Gmail as well. Wheeee!


Bill also says:

I know there will be folks who say Firefox sux, Gmail is goopy, blah blah. Hey. You either get it, or you don’t. read the rest at DigitalZen


Install Gmail Skins (requires FireFox browser)


If you'd like a free 2.7 Gigabyte Gmail account, send me an email, and put I WANT GMAIL in the subject line.


Filsecab Firewall - free firewall

recommendation from Fran Bott, webmistress of GammawGeek


I was doing some searching through Microsoft's Market Place for free software the other day, and ran across this firewall -


Filsecab Personal Firewall



I am not big on changing firewalls as Zone Alarm has served me well over the years, but occassionally I will try one out. So I decided to try this one.


I was pleasantly surprised. It was easy to install and required very little setup as it is smart about MS products and a few others. I also took it to the GRC site to test it. I only ran the Ports test. Out of all those boxes that show when the test is finished, all were green (stealth) except 2 and they were blue (closed). If my memory serves me correctly, the free version of zone Alarm does not do that well.


And for those that like to tweak and tighten down the firewall, there are many advanced settings that can be accessed for that purpose. Filscab is easy enough for the beginner and offers advanced features for those that want or need it.


Note: Personal and Professional Editions are free. The one I downloaded and used is the Professional Edition.




buzz on over to GammawGeek.us and take a look around


EasyRead Toolbar - make IE easier to read

notes from Clif, Mar 2006


Bill N. writes:

I wonder if you can help me with something. Up until a couple of weeks ago I had a magnifier installed on my IE, which I think I lost in an over-vigorous system clean up. I don't remember the name of it or where I got it, but it placed a plus and a minus symbol on the browser toolbar, and the window could be magnified and restored by clicking on them.


Are you familiar with such a utility? I haven't been able to locate it in the archive but I have a feeling you might have reviewed it once.


Sure Bill, I remember that one. It's a great little toolbar for Internet Explorer. You can find the EasyRead toolbar at Iconico.com.




Try out the EasyRead toolbar for Internet Explorer.


Voice Mail Compressor

a lucky find by Pierre at Les trouvailles de Pierre


With Voice Mail Compressor, send voice message attachments whose size is 10 to 15 times smaller than a normal WAV file. For example, a 30 seconds message can be as small as 32KB. Click on the "Send" button to use your default email client or click on "Save" to save the file on your hard disk. If you prefer, you can choose MP3 format if you choose on "Set codec" under "Configuration". This software is available with a French interface. (English and others as well)


Be sure to visit Pierre's Lucky Finds (Les trouvailles de Pierre) for more like this


YoPoW - your photos on the web

review from Scott Williams at the FreewareArena


It is what most define as an "image gallery maker". It features a very nice step by step interface that allows users of any level to work the program.


But let me allow the program's author to elaborate better about - YoPoW, YoPoW renders the album pages, thumbnails including various effects, after specifying layout, fonts, font-sizes, font-colors, borders, border-colors, colors, titles, descriptions, navigation buttons and much more.

- No need of learning difficult template languages. Select the colors, fonts, sizes and so on and YoPoW generates the code for you.

- YoPoW features a preview of the thumbnails and your Web Album and allows you to view the HTML output, as well as the CSS code.

- YoPoW also supports projects, allowing you to save your work to continue later or reuse it for other jobs.

- You may use YoPow's FTP client to upload (or send or post) your Album files to your website.


YoPoW is a card ware

Cardware : if you like the program send a postcard of your town to the author, whose address is available within the program - see the help file :)


Download YoPoW

Visit the Freeware Arena for 100's of safe freeware programs


RK Launcher (Beta version 0.4)

a mini-review by jgpaiva at DonationCoder forums, Mar 2006


A friend of mine recently advised me to try this launch bar. He's a big fan of it, and I'm going to try it out now, so, I figured I could show you what I'll discover while testing it.


OK, first of all, download. There is no install, only decompress. That's a plus. I have executed it, looks nice, but it's at the bottom of the screen, I'll right-click it and move it to the top from the right-click menu.


It looks good!




As my friend had told me, my minimized apps went to the bar! And in the form of a screenshot of the active window! ...


find out what jgpaiva really thinks about this cool looking launch bar app


Download RK Launcher


CCleaner - clean out the crap

review from Tony at The Freeware Blog, Mar 2006


CCleaner short for Crap Cleaner is a freeware system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster, more efficiently and giving you more hard disk space.


It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less that a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware!




read the rest of the reveiw at the Freeware Blog


Download CCleaner
















Goodbye to Windows 98

a note from Clif, Mar 2006


A confidential source told me ...


Microsoft officially ends support for Windows 98, 98SE and ME on March 30/06.


However, Microsoft sent a confidential memo to its developer network today saying that it would support these operating systems until July 11/06. This information is not intended to be released by Microsoft to the public.


After July 11/06, no trace of Windows 98, 98SE or ME will be able to be found on Microsoft sites.


PCI Modem Connection Problem

a tip from Brett at Nibbles and Bytes, Apr 2006


Last weekend, my neighbour asked if I could help solve an Internet connection problem she was having. She could successfully connect using her dial-up account, but could not browse web sites or receive email.


After first ensuring that the computer was virus, spyware and trojan free, I tried pinging websites via a command prompt, but this was unsuccessful, even though the connection was still active. I tried disabling any programs that might be interfering with the connection, including the firewall and various scanners. This did not resolve the issue ...


find out how Brett fixed this problem















YOUTUBE.COM - videos from ordinary people

Latest Updates from cyberguide, Mar 2006




Hey, I like this...a free online video streaming service that allows users to view and share videos that have been uploaded.You can make these videos either private or public. Flash technology is used for streaming. The only limits are 10 minutes in length and 100MB per video. They don't have any limit for the number of videos you can upload!


You can even embed videos on your site...how cool is that!


Here are the minimum requirements:

  1. Macromedia Flash Player 7.0+ plug-in
  2. Windows 2000 or higher with latest updates installed
  3. Mac OS X 10.3 or higher
  4. Firefox 1.1+, IE 5.0+, or Safari 1.0+
  5. Broadband connection with 500+ Kbps


YouTube accepts video files from most digital cameras and camcorders, and cell phones in the .AVI, .MOV, and .MPG file formats.



The Portable Freeware Collection - a great place for great freeware

reviewed by ClifNotes on 4/3/2005


Here lies a website that offers links and downloads of "portable" freeware programs. If you use these programs, you can put them on a floppy, cd, or usb thumb drive and use them on anyone's PC with no installation required. The website is well organized and the webmaster has taken great care to make sure the programs are truly portable and truly free.


Quote - This site is dedicated to the collection and cataloguing of freeware that can be extracted to any directory and run independently without prior installation. These can be carried around on a memory stick / USB flash drive, or copied / migrated from PC to PC via simple copying of files. Hence the term portable freeware.


Visit the Portable Freeware collection





Websites I have visited recently

Hover over the links to see my comments.











Windows Live Mail Desktop

news from Sarah at SarahInTampa.com, Mar 2006


Windows Live Mail Desktop is a free Windows program, currently in a very limited beta of only 100 users, that will let you manage multiple e-mail accounts. It works with Windows Live Mail, the successor to Hotmail, as well as Hotmail itself. However, the software will also be able to manage POP3 or IMAP accounts, which means that it has the potential to manage Google's Gmail. I expect that Google will soon be release a desktop software that can do the same, don't you?


drop by and catch up on the latest tech news at SarahInTampa.com


Notes from Clif

Thanks for the news Sarah. I'm confused, and maybe someone out there can straighten me out. Is it called Windows Mail or Windows Live Mail Desktop? I'm guessing Microsoft hasn't decided yet. Windows Mail is supposed to replace Outlook Express in the new Windows Vista operating system which is due out sometime in 2007.


$159 Computer

news from Sarah at SarahInTampa.com, Mar 2006


An article posted at PC Magazine's website this month offers a review of the unbelievable $159 GQ ("Great Quality") 3131 PC. I was skeptical that you could purchase a computer worth owning for $159, but I was surprised ...


read the rest of Sarah's article here






















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.



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

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






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