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ClifNotesNewsletter061029

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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

October 29, 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!


 

 

 

 

 

REVIEWS

 

PowerToys for Windows - good freeware from Microsoft

by ClifNotes, Oct 2006, permalink

 

This last week at work, I was tweaking in a new machine that I had been given by our I.S. department. One of the first things I usually do on a PC is get rid of the stupid "Shortcut to" prefix that appears every time you create a shortcut. I was thinking that I used to do this with TweakUI, an application that is bundled with a whole slew of other good free utilities called "PowerToys". Instead, I couldn't locate that tweak and I had to do it the hard way. To manually kill off the "shortcut to...", make a shortcut, then rename the shortcut, goto next shortcut. Do this 8 times in a row or more until Windows recognizes the pattern of no more "shortcut to...".

 

There are two sets of PowerToys. One for XP and another set that should work with the other versions. Take a look below and I'm sure you'll find something to play with and maybe even something you will find useful.

 

Quote from Microsoft

PowerToys add fun and functionality to the Windows experience. What are they? PowerToys are additional programs that developers work on after a product has been released. Note: We take great care to ensure that PowerToys work as they should, but they are not part of Windows and are not supported by Microsoft. For this reason, Microsoft Technical Support is unable to answer questions about PowerToys.

 

(Windows XP shown below)

Color Control Panel Applet

Professional-level photographers and designers know that getting consistent, accurate color from file to screen to print and beyond is a requirement for great results. This new tool helps you manage Windows color settings in one place. Download or learn more.

 

SyncToy

With new sources of files coming from every direction (such as digital cameras, e-mail, cell phones, portable media players, camcorders, PDAs, and laptops), SyncToy can help you copy, move, and synchronize different directories. Download or learn more.

 

RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer

Are you a serious photographer? Now you can organize and work with digital RAW files in Windows Explorer (much as you can with JPEG images). This tool provides thumbnails, previews, printing, and metadata display for RAW images. Download or learn more.

 

ClearType Tuner

This PowerToy lets you use ClearType technology to make it easier to read text on your screen, and installs in the Control Panel for easy access.

 

HTML Slide Show Wizard

This wizard helps you create an HTML slide show of your digital pictures, ready to place on your Web site.

 

Open Command Window Here

This PowerToy adds an "Open Command Window Here" context menu option on file system folders, giving you a quick way to open a command window (cmd.exe) pointing at the selected folder.

 

Alt-Tab Replacement

With this PowerToy, in addition to seeing the icon of the application window you are switching to, you will also see a preview of the page. This helps particularly when multiple sessions of an application are open.

 

Tweak UI

This PowerToy gives you access to system settings that are not exposed in the Windows XP default user interface, including mouse settings, Explorer settings, taskbar settings, and more.

Version 2.10 requires Windows XP Service Pack 1 or Windows Server 2003.

 

Power Calculator

With this PowerToy you can graph and evaluate functions as well as perform many different types of conversions.

 

Image Resizer

This PowerToy enables you to resize one or many image files with a right-click.

 

CD Slide Show Generator

With this PowerToy you can view images burned to a CD as a slide show. The Generator works downlevel on Windows 9x machines as well.

 

Virtual Desktop Manager

Manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar with this PowerToy.

 

Taskbar Magnifier

Use this PowerToy to magnify part of the screen from the taskbar.

 

Webcam Timershot

This PowerToy lets you take pictures at specified time intervals from a Webcam connected to your computer and save them to a location that you designate.

 

 

Downloads

Power Toys for Windows XP or Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2K

 

 


 

Virtual Desktop Toolbox - maximum control over multiple desktops

recommended by A.K., Oct 2006, permalink

 

Every since I installed the HaloScan commenting on my articles, I've looked forward to seeing what you folks will write in as comments. Some of these comments go so far as to be considered a review all in their own right. Below, you can see one from A.K. He wrote this in reply to my review of DoubleDesktop, which allows you to add a virtual desktop to your PC.

 

In addition to DoubleDesktop, and the program below, Microsoft also has a virtual desktop PowerToy that is freeware.

 

 

A.K. wrote the following:

Yes, it really is feature-laden. So, it is definitely not for everyone. I actually have fun finding ways of using its many features (though I don't use all of them), and end up getting more organized in the process.

 

Both the "Pro" and "Home" versions are free registerware. The registration is kind of complicated (probably to encourage well-deserved donations). The download from the website is the evaluation version. This page (http://www.r2d2-software.com/VDT/Tutorial/Default/Page6-3.htm ) shows where you must send an email for them to send you the PASSWORD to unlock the evaluation version. Then, you must download a separate "REGISTRATION PROGRAM" from this page (http://www.r2d2-software.com/VDT/Tutorial/Default/Unlock.htm). Running this registration program and entering the emailed password made Virtual Desktop Toolbox become the "Pro" version for me (as there was no choice at any time to be made between "Home" and "Pro").

 

http://www.r2d2-software.com/VDT/Tutorial/Default/index.htm

 


 

Last.FM - the social music revolution

by ClifNotes, Oct 2006, permalink

 

Recently I've been listening to music on the Pandora music service. I had kept hearing that there is also a competing service that works a bit differently. It's called LastFM. I decided to try out LastFM and the first difference I noticed is that it does require you to download a free application to listen to the music. No problem for me, so I did that. I haven't been playing LastFM very long but I really do like the features. Give it a try yourself and see what you think.

 

3.04mb

Compatible with Windows 98 / Me / 2000 / XP

 

 

Quote from the website

Last.fm is a service that records what you listen to, and then presents you with an array of interesting things based upon your tastes — artists you might like, users with similar taste, personalised radio streams, charts, and much more.

 

Scrobbling you say? It's elementary! Once you've signed up and downloaded Last.fm, just listen to music through your computer's music player – as you do every day. The name of each song you play will be automatically sent to our servers and saved in your musical profile. We call this “scrobbling,” and it's the basis of everything we do at Last.fm, from personalised recommendations to radio, music charts to musical neighbours, and much more.

 

http://www.last.fm/

 


 

OpenPandora - open your music and enjoy it

by ClifNotes, Oct 2006, permalink

 

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a program called PandorasBox which allows you to listen to the music at the Pandora webite and yet keep the Pandora page minimized to the System tray where most well behaving music players reside. This week I stumbled into a program that does the same thing, is about the same size, and yet adds many more features. What is there not to like about it?

 

The only thing I don't like is it's dependence on .NET framework. Other than that, it's fabulous. Just right click on the title bar or the system tray icon to gain access to the settings and extra features.

 

726mb

Requires Internet Explorer 5.5 (or later) and .NET Framework 1.1

 

 

 

Quote from the website

OpenPandora is a windows desktop application that exposes Pandora music discovery service. Open your music and enjoy it.

 

Features

  • Hide to tray
  • Show song details in tray icon tooltip
  • Popup tray notification balloon
  • Full control from tray icon - station change, play, pause, skip, like or don't like
  • Control with multimedia keyboard (play, pause and skip)
  • Global shortcuts*
  • Mini Player*
  • Send song details to LastFm
  • Send song details to Microsoft Messanger ("What I'm Listening To" must be turned on)
  • Send song details to Xfire*
  • Display lyrics in external browser window (from Tools menu)
  • Copy song details to clipboard (from Tools menu)
  • Customizable title with song and artist names
  • Keep on top of other windows
  • Proxy support

 

 

http://openpandora.googlepages.com/home

 


 

Stick Soldiers II - a simple but very challeging game

review by Nipun, Oct 2005, permalink

 

I recently received a letter from Nipun, asking about a good way to create flash banners. Shortly after I had answered him, I got curious and did a search on his nickname. The review below is what I found and I later got permission from Nipun to reprint it. Thank you Nipun.

 

By the way, I tried this game out for a short time and got my butt kicked very quickly.

 

Quote from Nipun

Very cool game

 

Pros: It's like unreal tournament mixed with N and is super fast so you're gonna need bullet-time a lot. Many mods, levels and weapons are available for download to keep the game interesting.

 

Cons: Aiming can be hard at times and if you're downloading this for the first time make sure that you get a copy of the manuual from the developer's official website (a link appears at the end of each session of playing) because the controls are very confusing and the download does not have a help section.

 

http://www.download.com/3642-7422_4-2601430.html

StickSoldiers Help

 

It looks like StickSoldiers3 is either ready for release, or close to it.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Newsletter

 

I like to look back and see what I was thinking about. Here's another letter from the wayback machine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIPS AND FEEDBACK

 

ThinkAll - think twice before you buy

tip from Jerry in Georgia, Oct 2006, permalink

 

Jerry wrote me about his near miss with a costly lesson.

 

Recently was looking for freeware and came across www•thinkall•com. They offered four cd's for a a small shipping fee. $2.96, which I thought was a good deal. However I later got hit for $49.95 on my card because in the fine print two of the four CD's you would be charged for unless returned in ten days. You might want to warn the readers of your newsletter on this one. Also READ the fine print on what you are downloading.

 

Enjoy your newsletter,

 

Jerry

 

Thanks Jerry, we all know about it now. I will now recommend you immediately go out and sign up for a free SA (SiteAdvisor) toolbar. Here's what SA says about the website you mentioned.

 

http://www.siteadvisor.com/sites/thinkall.com/summary/

 

You will see SiteAdvisor's toolbar light up in "red" when you have the SA toolbar installed and you visit this site or another website like this one. Just keep in mind that SA is not perfect. Sometimes they are very wrong, but more often, as the report above shows, it's on target.

 

There are hundreds of websites just like this one. This website will suddenly disappear one day and reappear with another name. How will you know it when you see it? Hopefully, SiteAdvisor will already have been there. See ScanDoo for another alternative method for checking out websites.

 


 

Windows Defender - no longer good for Win2k

advice from BillAllin, Oct 2006, permalink

 

Bill writes in with this good advice ...

 

Hi Clif,

 

As you have many readers around the world (as opposed to just in North America) who use Windows 2000, some of them will have been using Windows Defender for their anti-spyware protection. Though Windows Defender has been available free to parts of the world outside of the US, US users have had to buy it to use it recently. As of the release date of Windows Defender (final, on October 23, 2006), this product (beta version, which Windows 2000 users have been using) will no longer work properly on Win2K boxes. In some cases it won't run at the automatic scan time and it will not update with new protection. Windows Defender was made to operate with Windows XP, server 2003 and Vista.

 

This from the Microsoft web site's FAQs:

Q. Why doesn't Windows Defender support Windows 2000 anymore?

A. Windows Defender is primarily a consumer antispyware solution.

Windows 2000 was not a popular consumer operating system and mainstream support ended on June 30, 2005. Due to these reasons, we decided to focus more on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Both of these operating systems with the latest service packs have significantly better security protection overall, which will also help to prevent spyware on those computers that run those operating systems.

 

Windows Defender should no longer be counted on to provide any protection to Windows 2000 computers or any Windows product that preceded Win2K. Some 2000 users are already finding malware accumulating in their machines and Defender simply ignores it.

 

I recommend that your readers with Win2K boxes immediately remove Defender, install one or more of the other freeware anti-spyware programs, update the definition files and scan ASAP.

 

Quote from Microsoft

Windows Defender is a new security technology that helps protect you from spyware and other unwanted software. You can manually scan your computer for spyware or schedule the program to perform a scan automatically on a regular basis. After you install Windows Defender, you'll benefit from Real-Time Protection that can help block spyware or other unwanted software ...

 

Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later, or Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 or later.

 

See the Windows Defender website for more information.

 

From Clif:

Thank you Bill. For those out there who aren't familiar with Bill's work in Education, see his article Your Most Unrecognized Need: Touch .

 

Bill's advice here leaves me with a question for all of you out there. What anti-spyware software would you recommend for a person using Windows 2000, Windows ME, or other older versions of Windows?

 


 

Microsoft nervous about IE7 problems

from BillAllin, Oct 2006, permalink

 

Bill taps into his source at Microsoft for the occassional juicy tidbit. Thanks for sharing!

 

From Bill

MS Mole reports that there is considerable anxiety and embarrassment at Microsoft over three recent security patches. While they work without problems on most Windows machines in which they were installed, they have caused many problems on a minority, whose owners have been vocal about their problems.

 

The patches are:

KB924191

KB925672

KB925673

 

Anyone who has been having problems since installing any of these (on or after October 6/06) should remove them. Replacements will likely be available with the next Update Tuesday, but MS has not announced this or even stated publicly that these patches could cause problems. The patches all have valid uses, but the Microsoft web site was so complicated with Security Bulletin MS06-061 that most of those who downloaded the update didn't need it. This despite the fact that the update site said that the patches were required when the update servers scanned the computers..

 

Insiders at MS are a bit jittery about IE7 in its current incarnation. It is causing problems and the problem machines are increasing at a rate of 10 to 15 percent per day (that's a percentage of problem computers, not of all computers using IE7). Anyone planning to install IE7 should do so with caution and be well prepared with backups. Internet Explorer 7 has different versions, depending on what operating system is being used. A download will come with all versions included and will install only the version that is needed, with no installer input needed (is that bloatware I smell?).

 

Finally, IE7 has some interesting menu features that are only available by right-clicking certain parts of the window. The menus are not available as drop-downs and the same menu features (and menus) are not available when you right-click any part of the screen. So after you install IE7, play around with right-clicking, especially along the four side of your screen.

 

(CAUTION: MS Mole has been known to be in error with some of his insider information, mostly because nobody at Microsoft knows everything about anything. Your mileage may vary.)

 

Cheers

Bill Allin

 

For those out there who aren't familiar with Bill's work in Education, see his article Your Most Unrecognized Need: Touch .

 


 

Interview with Merijn Bellekom - creator of HijackThis

from Suite101, Oct 3 2006, permalink

 

I've used Merijn's HijackThis (HJT) program for years and I do think he is one of a dozen or so internet superheros. HijackThis is still one of the best anti-spyware tools around and it's always been free to download and use.

 

I saw this article while wandering the web one day and stopped to see what he's been up to. Life is strange. Who'd have ever thought a college Chemistry student would single-handedly try to save millions of PC's from the dangers of spyware.

 

Quote from Suite101's article

Suite101: What was your main motivation for building HJT?

Merijn: Years ago, back on the Cexx.org boards, there were alot of people coming into the forum with spyware infections with several commonalities. However they took alot of time to troubleshoot and fix, since everything had to be done manually. Mike Healan of Spywareinfo.com had already written a guide to removing a browser hijacker from the system. Back then, Mike was way ahead of everyone else. I simply took his guide and made a program that automatically checks all the locations his guide listed. As time went on I kept adding checks that were getting popular with malware writers.

 

Read the rest of this article and be sure to visit Merijn's website to see all of the freeware tools he has made for us. If you ever get infected with adware or spyware, I recommend a visit to TeMerc Internet Countermeasures forums.

 


 

 

 

 

Comments last week

Thanks to everyone who commented on the articles last week. You gave me more ideas and some good advice. If you see comments on an article, you will be missing out if you don't click on them to take a look.

 

If you commented last week, check to see who commented on your comment!

 

Here are the comments from last week.

 

  1. Agent Ransack - find files on your PC much faster •
  2. Desktop Architect - Windows theme manager •
  3. DoubleDesktop - double your pleasure, double your fun •
  4. AppZip - running a compressed program •
  5. How to Stop Delivery of Internet Explorer 7
  6. Get Acronis True Image 7 for free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COOL WEBSITES

 

Bear Bottoms Open Source and Freeware Research

 

I've spoken with Bear by email and in alt.comp.freeware. He's a great guy and his ad-free website features only the best freeware he can find.

 

Drop on by and take a look for yourself. Good luck Bear!

 

 

Quote from Bear

THE BEST OPEN SOURCE or FREEWARE PROGRAMS AVAILABLE TODAY

Freeware containing program purity (no cost, nags or bundled software) is most important first and foremost. However, occasionally the best freeware programs do contain some minimal nag or bundle. I try to avoid it or find the best balance. Of course no malware is tolerated.

 

http://bearbottoms1.com/

 


 

Ms Dewey - a search engine with attitude

suggested by Ken C, Oct 2006, permalink

 

   click to expand

Ken C wrote me with a short but cryptic description of this website.

Here's a new search with an attitude, LOL

After only a few seconds at this new search engine page, I found out exactly what Ken was talking about. The search engine is not really very useful but the flash video scenes of actress Janina Gavankar are entertaining and sometimes comical.

 

Will I be using this search engine? No.

Who will be using it? Lonely men. LOL

 

http://msdewey.com

 


 

Play Free Online Games - your one-stop free online game directory

recommended by CC, Oct 2006, permalink

 

CC wrote to tell me about a great list of free websites for game junkies. I like it because it's not packed full of advertisements. It's nice and clean and directly to the point.

 

 

http://play-free-online-game.co.uk/

 


 

BestDownloads4Free - nice freeware blog site

from ClifNotes, Oct 2006, permalink

 

Ernst Bijkersma from Holland wrote me to tell me about his website which is called Best downloads 4 free. He has a simple and clean website where he writes short pieces about the free software he runs into. It's a very nice place, so be sure to drop in and say hello.

 

Quote from Ernst

Does not offer you long lists of software from which you cannot choose. We made that choice already by presenting the best (but that is of course up to you!) software on our shortlist. Programs are always freeware (most of the time for use at home).

 

Best downloads 4 free is my hobby project. I like to share my experience with others. Most of the software I use on a regular basis. All of the presented software is spy- and adwarefree.

 

http://www.bestdownloads4free.com/

 


 

 

Websites I've visited recently

 

Have you seen any cool websites you want to share with us?

 


 

 

 

 

 

NEW NEWS

 

SnapFiles.com - new and updated freeware

Source - http://snapfiles.com/freeware

 

 


 

 

News from Sarah in Tampa

 


 

Security news from Malware Advisor

blog by TeMerc Internet Countermeasures, source

Infected? Go to http://temerc.com for help

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OTHER STUFF

 

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

permalink

 

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

 

 

 

 

Find out more about Gabbly.com


 

 

 

 

Frapper - you people live all over the world!

Wow! Over 400 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.

 

Clif

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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