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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

April 1, 2007




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.

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visiting this newsletter!








Ditto - clipboard extender from SourceForge

review from ClifNotes, Mar 2007, permalink Clipboard Utilities


I simply refuse to use a PC for any length of time without a clipboard tool. When you have a good clipboard tool installed and running, you never have to worry about losing anything that you copy, cut or paste in Windows.


Until recently, I've been using one called clcl, and it works great. One day on a whim, I decided to see what the folks at SourceForge had in the way of clipboard utilities and I found this tool called "Ditto". After reviewing the features and giving it a brief try, Ditto is now my favorite.


Ditto is an open source program and has an active forum if you need help. I also noticed that they are working on a portable version and I've already found that simply copying Ditto's program folder still allows it to run on a thumb drive. However, it still stores it's default settings in the registry and it doesn't support relative drive paths to it's clipping data base.


Ditto's search feature is what really sold me on using it. When Ditto is activated by it's hot key, it displays the most recent clips and is also in a default search mode. As soon as you start typing, Ditto searches all of it's clippings for the characters you enter and displays the most likely clippings that contain those characters.


When you combine the search feature with Ditto's ability to permanently store your favorite text snippets and you have a real time saving database full of answers right at your finger tips.


click to expand picture

Quote from the website

Ditto is an extension to the standard windows clipboard. It saves each item placed on the clipboard allowing you access to any of those items at a later time. Ditto allows you to save any type of information that can be put on the clipboard, text, images, html, custom formats, ...

  • Easy to use interface
  • Search and paste previous copy entries
  • Keep multiple computer's clipboards in sync
  • Data is encrypted when sent over the network
  • Accessed from tray icon or global hot key
  • Select entry by double click, enter key or drag drop
  • Paste into any window that excepts standard copy/paste entries
  • Display thumbnail of copied images in list
  • Full Unicode support (display foreign characters)
  • UTF-8 support for language files (create language files in any language)
  • Uses sqlite database




The File Research Center - another good source to keep your PC lean

review from ClifNotes, Apr 2007, permalink System Information


Last week I review a small utility called ProcessScanner that hooks you into the huge database of information at ProcessLibrary.com. This week, I accidentally ran into a new kid on the block which is doing the same job.


The File Research Center (FRC) is owned by the same folks who offer SuperAdBlocker (trialware) and SuperAntiSpyware (freeware). They've been in the anti-malware business for awhile and I'm not afraid to take any advice they give. When you arrive at the FRC, you'll be offered a chance to scan your PC's running system processes. To accomplish the scan, you'll either have to download a Firefox plugin or an ActiveX control.



I downloaded and installed the Firefox plugin and ran a scan. I was impressed by the easy to read report that the FRC website generated. It looked to me as though the FRC database was not able to identify as many of my processes as the ProcessLibrary did. However, I wouldn't be ashamed to recommend this website to anyone needing help controlling their PC's. These folks are providing a good service and I hope they stick around for awhile.





Quote from the website

The File Research Center provides a free scanning service to identify what is running on your computer. We also provide free information about safe and unsafe files, processes, services, spyware, adware, malware, trojans, and other programs that may be on your computer.




PCTools Firewall Plus - a free firewall, is it right for you?

review from ClifNotes, Mar 2007, permalink Personal Firewalls


PCTools is the home of the popular anti-spyware program called SpywareDoctor. When I saw that they had a free firewall program, I just had to try it out. So far, I'm pretty pleased with it. I'm not an advanced user when it comes to personal firewalls, but I know how they are supposed to work. This firewall hasn't been bombarding me with constant questions and it does pop up when I expect it to. After a few days of use, it only bugs me when I run a new program that tries to access the internet.


I saw one person's review at Download.com who said it was the world's most perfect firewall because it wouldn't allow him to connect to the internet at all. I had to laugh when I saw that, and I'd still be laughing if I hadn't accidently done the same thing myself. You should never block the Windows Socket Services. In my desire to limit Windows access to the internet, I did this, and the next time I rebooted I couldn't connect to my home network. Go ahead, you can laugh at me now.


I saw a few other people complain that the program was too complex or buggy for new users, but this only tells me that YMMV (your mileage may vary). In other words, it's a new program and it may not work well for everyone.


click to expand picture

Quote from the website

PC Tools Firewall Plus is a powerful personal firewall for Windows that protects your computer by preventing unauthorized users from gaining access to your computer through the Internet or a network. By monitoring applications that connect to the network Firewall Plus can stop Trojans, backdoors, keyloggers and other malware from damaging your computer and stealing your private information.


requires Win2000, Win2003, or WinXP



Play DVD - freeware DVD player

review from ClifNotes, Mar 2007, permalink DVD Utilities


A few weeks ago, a fellow named Prads wrote me about a DVD Player he had written. At the time he wrote, the DVD Player was missing a few features and I told him I'd try it out once he'd added them. Well, I am surprised to tell you that he added those and a few more. Play DVD does play DVDs and it does so using far fewer resources on your PC than the big players do.


Thank you for all the hard work Prads


click to expand picture

Quote from the website

Play DVD is a free DVD player which helps you to play DVD ROM in your computer. It has got functions like full-screen mode, angle select, bookmark option, Progress bar, Zoom etc. Latest Version of Play DVD is 1.2. Next version will bring more functions. Keep coming to this site to find Updates of Play DVD.




OETool - an Outlook Express addon

tip from ClifNotes, Apr 2007, permalink Outlook Add-ons


From Ian in Canada:

Hi Clif, this is my question of the day.

How do we eliminate those annoying, flashing, smiley faces.


I get 1 message in my mail and it has 2 attached gif files of emoticons and stupid smiley faces.

How can we banish these to email hell?


Thanks, Ianfromcanada



After finding out that Ian was using Outlook Express, I sent him to a help site that told him how to turn off the HTML viewer so that he wouldn't see all of those flashy smiling faces. The problem is that Outlook Express doesn't make it simple like most of the other email clients and web mail services.


Most of the others have a simple button or toggle right next to the email messages so that you can turn on or turn off the images as you wish. Outlook Express makes you turn it on and off in the "Tools" "Options" "Read" menu. You have to put a check in the check-box labeled "Read all mail as text".


Without HTML, there's no threat of infection. This is the safest way to view your email.


Ian wrote me back and told me he was trying out the program I suggested. What program? In a panic, I went back to the help site and looked. Sure enough, there was a link there I hadn't seen. I'd never heard of OETools but it's supposed to add the button I was just talking about. I now have OETools loaded and it's great. I don't use Outlook Express much anymore but I figured a few folks out there reading this might like it.


click to expand pictures

Before and After toggling text mode

Quote from the website

  • Button 1: Toggle Plain Text Mode for other messages. (IE6SP1 or XPSP1 only)
  • Button 2: Toggle Plain Text Mode for this and other messages (IE6SP1 or XPSP1 only)
  • Button 3: Toggle View Replies to my messages (for Newsgroups)
  • Button 4: Toggle Group Messages by Conversation (i.e. thread messages or not)
  • Button 5: Toggle Thread expansion in newsgroups
  • Button 6: Switch Identities
  • Button 7: Run Majik's free OEQB program (www.oehelp.com/OEBackup/)




Universal Extractor - don't want to install it, then extract it

review from ClifNotes, Mar 2007, permalink Compression Tools


Sometimes I don't want to install a program, but I still want to use it. Does that make sense? Most programs you download from the net come as a single executable "installer" that unpacks a load of compressed files and puts them where it feels they'll work best. As the installers do that, they often write lots of entries to your system registry. Even worse, the installers sometimes drop new DLL files into your Windows system folders and replace existing DLLs. I don't always want a new program mucking around like this until I get a chance to try it out.


To me, a perfect program doesn't install. It comes as a zip file and I chose where to unpack it. The perfect program doesn't need to write to the registry. It should run where I put it and it shouldn't depend on any DLL files being in the Windows folders.


Universal Extractor is supposed to be able to extract all of the program files out of an installer and put them in a folder so you can see what's inside it before you decide to try it out. I can't say it always works for me. In fact, Universal Extractor has had a streak of bad luck trying to extract the last few installers I pointed it at. Overall, I'm pleased that it works at all, and I hope the author continues to improve it.


Quote from the website

this application is not intended to be a general purpose archiving program. It will never replace WinRAR, 7-Zip, etc. What it will do is allow you to extract files from virtually any type of archive, regardless of source, compression method, etc. The original motivation behind this project was that I wanted an easy, convenient way to extract files from installation packages, such as Inno Setup or Windows Installer packages, without pulling up a command line every time. In the process I got a little carried away and ended up throwing in support for every kind of archive format I possibly could find.




Abiword - forget WordPad, use a Portable App

review from BillWebb, Feb 2007, permalink Word Processing


From Clif:

Bill commented last month about his choice of word processor software. In addition he also mentions how portable applications can be used on your PC. You should have noticed by now, that I love portable (stand-alone) applications and I use them every day. I agree with Bill's choice of editor below and I also ran into the same problem he mentions about a drive icon being hijacked. Pay close attention there!


From BillWebb:

My search for a WordPad replacement has ended (for now) with Abiword Portable from PortableApps.com.


Abiword is an open source, fairly full-featured word processor from http://www.abisource.com. For practical purposes it will do anything one needs in terms of everyday word processing, and the interface is "quite familiar." It also saves documents in a variety of formats, including its own, OpenOffice, .rtf and .doc.


PortableApps has taken a number of common open source applications, such as Abiword, Firefox, GAIM and OpenOffice itself, and stripped them down for installation on older systems and flash drives. They aren't crippled -- Firefox, for example, works normally and you can download themes, updates and extensions -- it just has non-essentials removed to make it smaller and faster. Each application can be downloaded as part of a suite (build it yourself) or individually.


While Abiword is fairly small and quick in its original incarnation, I was looking for even faster so I installed the Portable Apps version. It works great. It might take a second longer to open than WordPad on older machines, but when it does you have a lot more for your time. I have it set to default to all the common document file types. Definitely worth a look, as are the other offerings on the site.


A word about the PortableApplicationsSuite: it is designed to be installed on its own flash drive, although it coexists well with shared drives. It adds its own icon on the drive, and when you click it, one appears in the system tray. A click there brings up a dedicated menu to select applications and preferences. Neat. The only thing is, if you install it on your hard drive, as I did for testing, it hijacks the drive icon and adds its own name and graphics. While everything works normally, it's a bit disconcerting. I had to uninstall it to get my C Drive icon back. I recommend downloading individual apps for hdd installation, or porting the files from a flash drive, which works well -- just drag it where you want it, open, find the .exe file and send a shortcut to the desktop.


Have fun, as a friend of mine always says,




Quote from the website

Now you can carry your favorite computer programs along with all of your bookmarks, settings, email and more with you. Use them on any Windows computer. All without leaving any personal data behind.


See also AbiClipArt



















Old Newsletter


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



















How to burn ISO files

tip from ClifNotes, Oct 2005, updated Apr 2007, permalink CD-DVD Burning Tools


If you are a publisher of a large program and it fits nicely on a CDRom, how do you let people download it from you? In this case you might use an ISO file. An ISO file, as it is commonly called, is an exact image of a CD or DVD contained in a single file. If you know how, you can create ISO files from your existing CD's and you can also download ISO's and burn new CD's. I found a website that has plenty of information on how to burn an ISO to CD.


Quote from the website

Originally, this document was compiled in January 2003 from the notes and experiences of some of the Windows XP Beta Testers. There is a broad variety of CD burning and ISO extraction utilities available, and this group of people had the most experience using these tools with Windows XP downloaded ISO images.




Impossible Feat - Remove a cork from inside a wine bottle?

From Tiffany, Mar 29 2007

Not if you know the secret - Here's help for all you wine drinkers who push the cork a little too hard.... You won't believe this one!







http://hello-kitty.group.stumbleupon.com/ =^..^=






Yahoo Mail - no more storage limits

From Tiffany, Mar 31 2007

Get a free Yahoo! email account - they now offer UNLIMITED storage for all those videos, photos, PPS's, etc. that take up so much room. This even beats Gmail's storage of 2.8 gigabytes! (MSN has a paltry 2.0 G)






http://hello-kitty.group.stumbleupon.com/ =^..^=




Windows One Care fails to live up to it's name

review from DavesComputerTips, Apr 2007, permalink Security Tools


From Clif:

David writes about his opinion of Windows One Care and a PC World article that supports his opinion. As David says "don't allow a fox to guard your hen house". Most folks are well served by a free firewall, free anti-virus, and free anti-spyware. Why pay big bucks for a name? Be sure to comment below to let us know what you use to guard your hen house.




Quote from the website

Obviously I don't believe Microsoft should have anything to do with anti-virus or anti-spyware. Microsoft's focus should be on securing the Windows operating system and reacting quickly to vulnerabilities when they are found. It seems someone at PC World agrees.

read the rest of this article




















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.

Process Scanner - what's running on your PC? •

BPM Notepad - scrolling notepad for musicians and public speakers •

TextMorph - powerful text formatter •

Pixie - an on screen colour picker •

Zzoom - screen magnifier, color picker, screen capture •

Google Talk - best integration between chat and email •




Is freeware doomed when we switch to Vista? •

How to create your own Strange Windows Wallpapers

David Letterman's tribute to Bill Gates


Links from Lesley



















CoolSites Newsletter this week


Here are a few links from Mark's CoolSites Newsletter. Be sure to visit his site and see the rest of his links this week.


March 30 2007 COOLSITES by Mark Donaldson Issue 106

Freeware. Some of the best, reliable and unbloated freeware from AnalogX: http://www.analogx.com/contents/download.htm


Gmail Craze 30 + Tools and Hacks for Gmail " MakeUseOf.com: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/gmail-craze-30-tools-to-make-your-gmail-better


(No longer free) Klingon Gallery. Welcome to The Gallery of Klingon Warriors. My duty is simple, YOU send me an ordinary picture of yourself + $30, and in a short time, YOU'RE A KLINGON WARRIOR!: http://www.hotink.com/warriorgallery/


Pagebull - Your visual Internet search engine: http://www.pagebull.com/


Wallpass is designed to help you surf in freedom: http://wallpass.net/


Witty Comics - Make your own comic strip: http://www.wittycomics.com/make-comic.php


Update. Hot Corners v2.2.1.1: http://lekremyelsew.googlepages.com/hotcorners


Quote from the website

COOLSITES is a list of safe, fun, useful, informative and just plain cool websites and programs that are FREE, FREE and FREE. All of the programs and websites I list are free. If I list anything that is so good but isn't free I will list the price with it.




ChampsGames.com - play free games on your pages

review from ClifNotes, Apr 2007, permalink Games


I found a great place to play online games. They also let you place the games there on your own pages in a blog, MySpace, MSN Spaces, or any website. If you don't have a place to put them, you can always create a text file and paste in the game code. Then rename the text file as an HTM file. When you double click the HTM file, your game will fire up in your browser.


Here are a few that I added to this wiki.









Quote from the website

Welcome to Champs Games, we have a comprehensive collection of Free Online Games that are available for you to play at anytime you wish. The main categories of our free online games that you will find are; Action/Adventure Games, Arcade Games, Shooting Games, Sports Games, Racing Games, Puzzle/Quiz Games much more.









Websites I've visited recently


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









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




A view from CyberNirvana


CyberNirvana: Zia's blog about the web and web technology.




























Get Gmail! and Get Firefox!


You need a free 2.8 GB Gmail account to access many of the cool features at Google. After more than two years in beta testing Gmail is open to the public. Just go to http://gmail.com and sign up for an account.



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.





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.



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