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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

September 10, 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.

Click here to chat while

visiting this newsletter!


New comment system added

I have added a set of HaloScan comments so that it's easier to see what others have said about each review. Answering your comments here at Freewarewiki is the most enjoyable, and the most time consuming part of my time here. I always want to hear what you are saying and my best tips come from you. If you don't want anyone else to see what you are telling me, I've always got a link in the side bar that says "Contact Us".


Don't worry! The HaloScan comments will not reveal your email address to anyone but me. So if you want me to reply, be sure to include your email address in the comment.










Avant Browser - Single handed at it's best

reviewed by StevenBurn on 9/17/05, updated Sept 2006 by ClifNotes, permalink


From Clif:

Since this review, Avant has gone through a few revisions and is better than ever. As some of you may know, I recently tried Internet Explorer 7 beta. The Avant browser is still better than IE7 in my opinion. If you have a choice, Avant is a much easier one to live with.


You may also know that I'm a big Firefox fan. Sometimes I need to use IE when a website like Windows Update demands it. Avant uses IE's rendering engine, so that's not an issue. You'll also have to make sure to keep IE up to date so you don't have security holes in it. Scanit.be is a great place to see if any of your browsers are out of date.


From Steven:

Listening to Iron Maiden this afternoon, I heard "Journeyman" and a phrase within the song jumped out at me - "I know what I want, I'll say what I want and no-one can take it away". This very phrase sums up my feeling towards Avant Browser, having tried almost all of the "IE" and Gecko shells available, I have found I know what I want, and have only found what I want in a browser shell, in Avant Browser.


This wonderful application, the sole creation of Anderson Che, provides everything you could want in a browser, for free!. Although susceptible to the same flaws as the IE core, Avant has something IE does not - a dedicated developer that actually cares about us, the users!. Having been an Avant user since late 2003, early 2004 I've found myself growing to love using it more and more with each new release. Avant Browser provides (out of the box) an MDI interface (allowing multiple web pages within a single window), popup/ad/flash/script/sound/image/video and ActiveX blockers, along with an RSS reader, groups, and a whole host of other additions (and as an added bonus, I can use the generic IE contexts and restricted/trusted sites features etc). Had Avant NOT provided this, though it would have been less useful in the eye's of some, it would still be the shell of choice for myself as I am not stuck having to go through a learning curve to figure out how to block this, where to download that, as is the case with the likes of Firefox, Mozilla and K-Meleon etc.


Being a moderator on the Avant forums, developer of Avant utilities and generally loving all things Avant Browser related, one could say I am completely biased (which strangely, I cannot deny) and thus, my opinions are inherantly flawed, however, having been an AOL user (with the exception of trying Tiscali, this was possibly the worst experience of my life), trying Green Browser/Maxthon/Firefox/Mozilla/Opera/[insert browser/shell name] et al, I'm afraid the only answer I would be able to give to this argument would be to try it and decide for yourselves.


Myself aside, those having trouble finding their way around Avant, are provided with a wonderful support team in the form of the Avant Browser Forum moderators and admin's. These gents (and ladies) work tirelessly to ensure you find the answer you require and thus, are able to utilize Avant to it's full potential.




Homepage: http://www.avantbrowser.com

Support forums: http://forum.avantbrowser.com


Be sure to check out Steven's right click menu extensions for Avant.




Easy Message - Unified IM for ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, and Aol

reviewed by ClifNotes on 15 Jun 2005


Notes from Clif

So far this program has been a breeze to use. Very very small and light on system resources. Within a few minutes I had all four services running in one window. I haven't checked out all the features but what I've seen so far leads me to believe that it is as good as it's advertised to be.


Updates: Oct 2005, Sept 2006

I've been using EasyMessage now for over two years with no major complaints. Since I started, they've added pop3, hotmail, and yahoo email notification, so you'll always know when you get new mail. I've also found out that it can run as a stand-alone application on a floppy disk (yes! it's that small) or a USB thumb drive. Just install EasyMessage, then rename the EasyMessage folder in Program Files, then uninstall it and move the folder where you want to run it at.


Special Note:

When EasyMessage starts up the first time, it will launch your web browser and show you something the author calls the "Web Panel". Not too many people are going to like this behavior. Fortunately, the author allows you to change this in the "Tools" "Options" "Preferences" tab. You can also turn off the auto-run feature there as well.



click to expand


Quote from EasyMessage.net

Send and Receive instant messages

Add and remove contacts

Get notified when someone adds you to their list.

See whether on not your contacts are online

See your contacts extended status, (away, be right back, etc.)

Set your extended status

Send rich text messages. You can change your font and font color, add underline and bold, etc.

Use emoticons :) in your conversations. The service specific emoticons are used for the service the conversation is on.

Hyperlink support. Automatically make web address in conversations clickable links.

Contact group importing and unified group management.

Typing notifications allow you to see when others are typing.

Block contacts to hide you're online status from them and disallow incoming messages.



If you can't find the download link there, try this one.



vURL Desktop Edition (alpha) - website dissection when you need it

review by ClifNotes, Sept 2006, permalink



I recently tried out a program from StevenBurn called vURL. This little stand-alone program allows you to type in a website address and immediately view the source code of the website. This is done without the use of your typical web browser and this also means that if it's a bad website, it can't attack you through any potential holes in the browser.


vURL may not be useful to the average person, but if you know a little bit of HTML or scripting languages, you can often figure out how the website is trying to attack people. There is also a web version of this program that Steven has been running on his website for years. Thank you Steven.





The vURL website


Quote from the website

vURL Desktop Edition (vURL DE) is the desktop version of the extremely popular vURL service that we've been running for quite some time now.


This application has been developed solely to provide those that like our service, an alternate method of doing such. This edition also helps to save on my own server costs as it is entirely standalone*, requiring only your own internet connection.


vURL Desktop Edition currently allows you to get and save the source code of any website you fancy with the click of a button, and additionally, see a list of files it currently links to.


As with the online version of the vURL service, this application is and will remain, completely free for both personal and business use.



DTaskManager - one Task Manager to rule them all

review from ClifNotes, Sept 2006, permalink


Recently, Richard W wrote in with a tip on some very nice utilities from a Italian guy named Dimio.


From Richard:

Nice little standalone applications, which might be of interest


DShutdown is a stand-alone program that allows you to easily shutdown local or remote PCs, with many specific options.


DSynchronize is a stand-alone utility that let you periodically synchronize two or more folders on Hard Disk, Floppy Disk, LAN, USB Key, CD-DVD (with packet writing software) and FTP server.


DTaskManager, obviously, is a Task-Manager, but specifically engineered to give additional functionalities that the Windows bundled TaskManager (and other third party products) do not have:








Notes from Clif

I wasn't interested in most of the apps that Dimio has there, but I did chose to download and run the DTaskManager program, and I'm glad I did. The author's description, "additional functionalities" doesn't do this fantastic program justice.


Here's what I found briefly, after a couple of tries.


  • View applications (stuff you are running)
  • View Processes (anything running)
  • View Peformance (PC's memory and CPU)
  • View Ports (what appications are connected to the internet)
  • View Network (what PC's and devices are on my network)


This little utility will replace two separate programs I've been running. It can even be set up as a replacement for Windows Task Manager when you hit the CTRL-ALT-DEL buttons because there isn't anything in it that DTaskManger can't do better.

Thank you Richard, for writing in. Thank you Dimio, for writing this program.



Visit Dimio's website



Cobian Backup - keep it all safe

review by ClifNotes, Sept 2006, permalink


I'll be honest with you. I'm just not very good about backing up most things. Sure, I've got backups of all the website stuff, passwords, pictures, email and a few other essentials, but I've never backed up an entire hard drive. Last week, we received a 250gb USB hard drive in the mail that we'd ordered on Ebay. Now I had to learn how to backup my PC's a little better than I had in the past.


First, I went on a freeware shopping trip at my favorite place to shop. SnapfilesFreeware is my favorite site because you can find a wide range of freeware and you can be almost certain that it's safe. I shopped around awhile and decided on Cobian Backup. I'd heard of it before and it was rated 5 stars.


Is Cobian easy to use? Yes and no. I have a wide range of experience with different applications and I have a pretty good idea of how backups should work. I didn't even check the help files and I just dove right into. It was easy for me, but if you think you'll need help. Cobian has done an absolutely great job of providing it.


Cobian's help takes on three forms. First, they have a very nice tutorial that will walk you through the worst of it. Next they have a regular help file in three languages. Finally, they also have direct access to their forums where experienced users can offer advice. All three of these forms of help can be accessed from the Cobian application through it's Browser tab.


Within an hour, I had a full 15gb backup of my laptop. I feel much better now. It's not an image of the laptop's hard drive, so I really won't be able restore it and boot from it, but if I ever run into serious trouble, I'll be able to start fresh and lose nothing important.


click image to enlarge


Quote from the website

Cobian Backup is a multi-threaded program that can be used to schedule and backup your files and directories from their original location to other directories/drives in the same computer or other computer in your network. FTP backup is also supported in both directions (download and upload).





Temporary Inbox Toolbar - stop giving them a real email addy

review by TF @ TopFreeware, Sept 2006, permalink


From Clif:

My friend TF wrote recently about this great toolbar for the Internet Explorer and Firefox web browsers. It allows you to easily give out temporary email addresses when a website asks you for one. After all, how much spam do you really need? You can usually change to a real email address later if you decide you want to continue to receive them from a web service.


From TF:

You want to download something but the company wants your email address. I'm sure you've come accross it before.


Well now, you can use this service instead. All you do is download the extension, and install it, that's it. If you don't like the toolbar up all the time, just disable it until you need it. Press the random email button to create your temporary inbox and copy and paste into the field. Wait a while then press the check email button.


The rest I'm sure you'll figure out. Currently it comes in versions for IE and Firefox as a toolbar extension. Never get spam again. I love it.


It's easy to use, requires no registration and the temporary email gets automatically deleted after 6 hours, if you can't bother deleting it yourself. What more can you ask for?


Go here to download the Firefox extension or Internet Explorer toolbar. Enjoy!


Note from Clif: Just in case you don't want another toolbar, you don't need one to access the services at Temporary Inbox. Just go there any time you need to foil a potential spammer.


Click here to enlarge


This review is from the webmaster of TopFreeware.net, be sure to visit soon!




























AntiVirus Comparison from CastleCops

tip from TF at TopFreeware, Sept 2006, permalink


TF wrote in:

... don't know if you know about this ... http://wiki.castlecops.com/AntiVirus_Comparison


Thanks TF. It's a great side by side comparison of the top three free anti-virus products. If you are paying for your protection now, you really don't need to.



How does your Firewall rank?

tip from TF at TopFreeware, Sept 2006, permalink


TF wrote to tell me he was going to try out the new Comodo firewall. He also sent me the link to this excelent website that has rated over a dozen firewalls. I was amazed that I was so wrong in my beliefs about the effectiveness of the various firewalls.


If you follow the link, be sure to scroll down the page for the surprising results.



Thanks again TF.



Gmail's spam filters - how good are they?

tip from BillWebb at LockerGnome, Sept 2006, permalink


Here's another great article about spam prevention from Bill's Webb. He has set up a system that is close to 100% effective at eliminating spam.


Quote from Bill

This is about Gmail’s spam filters. I just did a month of informal checking. I have about a dozen Gmail accounts, all filtering into one “master” account that I never use online. (Gmail allows you to forward everything to one account, and your replies to those messages automatically go out from the original address; no one knows where you sent it from.)


Some of my addresses, such as eldergnomie at you-know-where, collect as many as 2000 pieces of spam a month, and a couple collect that in less than a week. In the 30 days prior to Sept. 1, the total from all accounts was 15,687 pieces - roughly 520 a day. In addition to those, 276 got through to the master account ... read more


Thanks for collecting this information Bill. I think the filters are good, not perfect but much better than Yahoo's and at least as good as Hotmail's.



Can you set up folders in Gmail?

question from David S, Sept 2006, permalink


From David:

Can you set up folders/directories on gmail?


I have it but remember reading somewhere that you should just search rather than arrange your emails.


I think you gave me it!


Hi David,


Gmail uses labels instead of folders to hold the mail. They serve the same purpose, but labels are much better. All the labels appear on your sidebar and they look just like folders. You can create and delete labels anytime you wish.


Labels have great advantages over the classic folder method. Since an email can only be in in one place, a classic folder system means you have to file it into a folder. Gmail allows you to tag the email with any number of labels. This makes it so much easier to find what you are looking for.


Example: A letter from your friend flying model airplanes while he was on vacation with you. Tag it with "friends" "airplane" "vacation".


I typically don't spend any time looking through labels for email. The Gmail search works blazingly fast and is simply fantastic for finding what you are looking for.


On the other hand, you might be thinking of "Gmail Drive" or "Gmail Space" both of which allow you to store files in your Gmail account. The Gmail Drive actually appears in your computer as virtual hard drive that you can drag and drop files into and it also allows you to create folders for your files, just like any other hard drive on your PC.


The main reason this works so well is that Gmail gives you 2.7gb of space for your email. I get hundreds of emails a week and I'm only using 10% of my space after using it over a year.





Have fun!




Need a free Gmail account?


Gmail Hacks from Cyber-Knowledge

tip from Digg.com, posted by Clif, Sept 2006


There are quite a few websites out there that collect and post Gmail tips and tricks. Here's one with a few tricks I hadn't seen yet.

























This n That - special finds from dino

posted by ClifNotes, Sept 2006, permalink


I first chatted with Dino in Gabbly at Freewarewiki. She's a very nice lady who lives in Israel. While corresponding in email one day, she mentioned that she had started a blog. I went there and I was surprised to find a few free items I'd never heard of. Way to go Dino!




Quote from This N That

Computers and anything that has to do with them make my skin sizzle, my fingers curl and my ears perk up. Then my brain goes into a trance.







Websites I've visited recently










News from Sarah in Tampa





























Get Gmail! and Get Firefox!


You need a free 2.7 GB Gmail account to access many of the cool features at Google. I'll send you an invitation right away if you write me and say I WANT GMAIL.



I think Gmail works best in the awesome Firefox browser. It's free, easy to use, and it's way more secure than Internet Explorer. My favorite thing to do is to customize Firefox so that it does much more than IE ever could. You can select new button controls for your toolbars, install extensions to add new features, or change the look of your browser with themes - the way Firefox looks and works is under your control.


Get Firefox!


Chatting at FreewareWiki



Now you can chat with anyone visiting a website by using Gabbly. To see who's gabbing at this website, click here.


Sept 3rd

Thanks to El Tel in the UK for stopping by for a chat.



Find out more about Gabbly.com





Frapper - you people live all over the world!

Wow! Over 300 people and still growing! 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 my 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.


What do you have to say?


Just tell me what article you are talking about and leave me your comment.



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 here.






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