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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

September 23, 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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Sorry the newsletter was late this week. I went camping. It was a great weekend and I extended it into Monday just for fun. When you are reading this newsletter, I hope you have fun too.






Lotus Symphony - the new kid in free office suites

review from ClifNotes, Sep 2007, permalink Office Suite


Need a free office suite?


First came Open Office ...

Then last month Star Office arrived ...

Now here's Lotus Symphony ...


Is Microsoft starting to get worried yet? They should, because we have a choice. We don't have to use MS Word, Excel, or Power Point.


The question this week: Is the new beta version of Lotus Symphony any good? Just two days after IBM announced their free offering of Lotus Symphony, I went to their website and gave it a try.


How to get it?

I was very aggravated only a few minutes after arriving at the Lotus Symphony site. They make you jump through hoops to try out this software. I had to give up my email addy, name, street address, and phone number. Not only that, but if you aren't careful, they'll make sure to send you plenty of emails about their software. Pay very close attention to any check boxes they have in the forms you fill out there.


Based on that, I'd have to classify it as RegisterWare, instead of FreeWare.


How to install it?

I was disappointed once again. I expected to download a nicely done installer. What I found instead was a 133mb self-extracting zipped executable which dumped several files onto my nice clean desktop. If I had executed it in a crowded folder, I'd have had a tough time figuring out what had happened.


Once the exe file extracts itself, you have to run a setup file and the real installation finally begins. The installation does take several minutes and you end up with about 315 more megabytes of program files when you are done. I've seen some reports already that many people have had problems even getting the install to work.


When the install finishes, it also dumps three shortcuts onto your desktop and one last gift. It loads an auto-starting process called SODCPreload. The preload process is designed to give Lotus Symphony apps a leg up when they are launched. If it's not running, the applications take forever to launch. If you plan on using this suite, I recommend letting the preloader run.


It's beta, but I still expect better than this.


Easy to use?

Yes! I actually like the applications. You get three of them called Lotus Symphony Documents, Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets, and Lotus Symphony Presentations, which are the equivalent of MS Word, MS Excel, and MS Power Point.


I was immediately able to open up existing documents that I had created with Microsoft and Open Office. Don't be surprised if you find that Lotus Symphony doesn't support all of the bells and whistles that MS Office does. You'll get a warning every time you open up a Microsoft file which tells you that it may not work quite right.


I tried all three apps and had no problems at all. The application interfaces remind me how simple MS applications used to be a few years ago.


Once the suite was running, I noticed that a portion of Lotus Symphony opens up two listening ports to the internet. They could be blocked by a good two-way firewall, but I don't like unexplained connections to the net. Why does an office suite need an internet connection?



I like the applications and I would recommend this suite if it wasn't for the few problems I've reported. For now, I'll suggest that you to wait and see.





click to expand picture

Quote from the website

There are three core applications that make up the Lotus Symphony tools: Lotus Symphony Documents, Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets and Lotus Symphony Presentations. These intuitive software tools, which support Windows and Linux desktops, are designed to handle the majority of office productivity tasks that workers typically perform. Lotus Symphony supports multiple file formats including Microsoft Office and Open Document Format (ODF), and also can output content in PDF format.




Open Office - MS Office alternative

by JohnHood, Jan 2006, permalink Office Suite


Update! - OpenOffice 2.3.0 Released

Available for download now, OpenOffice.org 2.3 incorporates an extensive array of new features and enhancements to all its core components, and protects users from newly discovered security vulnerabilities. It is a major release and all users should download it.

Source Digg.com


Review from John Hood

Replacement for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher



Review Date: Continuous First Listed: Nov-2003 License: Open Source



Average Rating10.0

(Of The 4 Programs I Reviewed)


"OpenOffice.org, does better at handling Microsoft Office file formats than Ms Office itself does."- CNet Reviews


Now in version 2.0 - OpenOffice.org contains a word-processor, spreadsheet, presentation maker and publisher. OpenOffice comes with the features you would expect in a high-end office suite: create and apply styles on the fly, automatic word correction, mail merge, bullets and numbering, graphic support, macro record, full read and write of Microsoft formatted documents. OpenOffice happily coexists with MS Office on the same computer. Install it on every computer, and then install Microsoft Office only where MS Office functions are absolutely needed.


Thumbs up for...: - The menus are practically clones of MS products. Cross-platform (Windows, Mac and Linux) and released in 147 languages, OpenOffice has more logical layout of menu options, better data source support including a pre-built bibliography database for students, better template and master document support than MS Office, auto-complete to save repetitive typing and export to Adobe PDF format built in. The PowerPoint clone will publish a presentation in Micromedia Flash. OpenOffice also has better end-user support with "http://www.oooforum.org/." Tons of extras available.


Thumbs down for...: - It can be slow to launch. It's missing a "Paste Format" option. there is no groupware, calendar and organizer equivalent like Outlook (see the Outlook page for options here). It can be a bit intimidating at first glance for the user who is transitioning from Microsoft products. This is usually based on the fact that all of the features in OOo actually work correctly.


Visit WebsiteScreenshots & Getting Started (interactive)Documents to use


Don't want to install it before deciding? You can try it out by downloading John Haller's No-Install Version




Notes from Clif

Open Office Suite: I believe it's the best of the free office suites.


Quote from the website

What's in the suite?

WRITER Is a powerful tool for creating professional documents, reports, newsletters, and brochures. You can easily integrate images and charts in documents, create everything from business letters to complete books with professional layouts, as well as create and publish Web content.


CALC is a feature-packed spreadsheet which can turn boring numbers into eye-catching information. Calculate, analyse, and visually communicate your data quickly and easily. Use advanced spreadsheet functions and decision-making tools to perform sophisticated data analysis. Use built-in charting tools to generate impressive 2D and 3D charts.


IMPRESS is the fastest, most powerful way to create effective multimedia presentations. Your presentations will truly stand out with special effects, animation and high-impact drawing tools.


DRAW will produce everything from simple diagrams to dynamic 3D illustrations and special effects.


The Database User Tools give you all the tools you need for day to day database work in a simple spreadsheet-like form. They support dBASE databases for simple applications, or any ODBC or JDBC compliant database for industrial strength database work.



Winamp - multimedia player to the max

Notes from ClifNotes on 7/26/04, updated May 2006, Sept 2007, permalink Multimedia Players


Version 5.5 soon to be released

Winamp goes where iTunes doesn’t dare

by Ryan Jarrett


Winamp, that staple of media players, will soon turn 10! And its not letting it pass without a bang. On the 10th of October at 10:10am, Winamp 5.5 (PC-only) will be released sporting two new and potentially controversial features: support for mp3 blogs and the ability to stream your music collection over the Internet (a Beta version is available here).

read the rest



I've been using Winamp on and off for years, from version 1 to 5. I've never found another player for audio or video that does all the things it can do. There are a large number of "fans" who write plug-ins and create skins and visualizations for it. Almost anything you could want to do with audio, someone has tried it with Winamp. You can listen to internet radio and watch tv stations, burn music CD's, watch movies, record streaming audio and a few more things than I could mention here. Winamp is constantly evolving.


That said, I haven't tried Winamp since AOL bought Nullsoft, the company that makes Winamp. I don't know what hidden surprises are included with it now.


There is a free and a pro version of Winamp, so the free version could be considered LiteWare.



Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

click to expand



Well, the Winamp community is teeming with creative individuals just like you. They live to take the player to new heights of coolness. And the Nullsoft Developers Network (NSDN) lives to serve them. The NSDN portion of our site is full of useful tools and tutorials for anyone who wants to create things for Winamp. Make skins to dress up your player or code up a component to change how Winamp behaves. We leave it up to you to make Winamp exactly what you want it to be.


Download Winamp



GemSwap - a free clone of Bejeweled

review from ClifNotes, Sep 2007, permalink Games


Here's a clone of a popular game sometimes known as Bejeweled or Diamond Mine. The wife and I both enjoy playing Bejeweled when we have nothing better to do. Unfortunately, that's not often enough.


click to expand picture

Quote from the website

In the game there are a grid of gems, you have to destroy the gems by swapping them. The gems will be destroyed if a line of 3 or more gems of the same kind are there. When some gems are destroyed, new gems will be created. You need to destroy gems as quickly as possible in order to advance to the next level.

May require .NET Framework v2+




Firefox Wonder Edition

Notes from ClifNotes, Sep 2007, permalink Web Browser


I saw this and thought it was something I might try soon. Firefox does seem to slow down for me after continued use. Firefox Wonder Edition is a portable version (no install) that is supposed to be configured to be as fast as they can make it.


Quote from the website

What is Firefox Wonder Edition ?


Firefox Wonder Edition is a special version of Firefox that combines one of the most efficient Firefox build with special extras that make it the fastest Firefox around for Windows.

I'm already using Firefox. Can I download and test the Wonder Edition?


Yes : You don't have to remove your existing version of Firefox to try Firefox Wonder Edition. It's a portable application so no installation is required. Simply download and execute the self-extracting archive: Firefox Wonder Edition is ready to start (just remember to close any Firefox windows before launching it).

You can keep it on your hard drive or copy it to any USB flash drive, portable hard drive, iPod/MP3 player, etc and use on any Windows computer




ThreatFire - protection against zero-day threats

Notes from ClifNotes, Sep 2007, permalink PC Activity Monitoring


Jimbo wrote in with a new find. I don't know anyone who's tried it yet, so be cautious if you wish to install it. A system backup might be a good precaution.


From Jimbo:

Hi Clif - I am always on the look out for any new and innovative free security software. I see where PC Tools have recently released 'ThreatFire' which, I understand is a re-hash of 'Cyber Hawk'. The rhetoric sounds good ...


I always rely on 'user' reviews rather than a publisher's web site and would be grateful for any input from those among your savvy readers who have had experience with Threatfire.




Quote from the website

ThreatFire continually protects your PC against attacks by detecting malicious behaviour, such as capturing your keystrokes or stealing your data, instead of only looking for known threats like normal antivirus software. By implementing sophisticated real-time behavioural analysis ThreatFire is able to stop never- before-seen "zero-day" threats solely by detecting their malicious activity.




Old Newsletter


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



















What free software do you need?

Notes from ClifNotes, permalink Windows Tips



So what do you need? Write it down below and I'll see if I can find it. If you know the answer to someone else's question, add your answer there.



Previous "What Do You Need" comments

Sep 16 2007 - last issue

Sep 09 2007

Aug 26 2007

Aug 19 2007

Jun 29 2007

Jun 22 2007

Jun 15 2007


Search all the comments



Internet Fixes Weekend Windup

tips from Gary at InternetFixes, Windows Tips


From Clif:

Gary at Internet Fixes continues to amaze me with hundreds and thousands of tips for your PC. Whatever your operating system, or how you use it, a visit to Gary's site will soon have you saying "So that's how you do this!".


Sign up for Gary's newsletter?

Weekend Windups are now available online




Last Mondays News Letter Tips


1. For some reason beyond my understanding of some computer workings I have managed to loose my Time Zones. How Do I restore Missing Time Zones?




2. How can I make all my Programs Scroll in the Start Menu? I have so many now that they are running off the Right Side of my Screen.




3. Can you tell me why CHKDSK is running every time my Computer starts?




4. I think that Vista Aero is to much for my PC. I want to try the PC without Aero. How can I disable Aero?




5. Is there a way to bypass the login screen so Vista just boots up and takes me right to my desktop?




6. I am using Vista and When I insert my DVD in to my DVD drive, it is not recognized. It was working fine before, how can I fix this?




7. Is it possible to have a Password Reset Disk similar to the way I could create one in Windows XP?




Click The Link Below To Join My News Letter.


The Form At The Link Below Covers Both Monday and Wednesdays News Letter.




PC Problems? Use My New Detailed Help Form.








Have a Friend Or Colleague That One Of My Tips May Benefit? Forward This News Letter To Them!


Backup Your Registry.




Last Wednesdays News Letter Tips


1. Is it possible and if so how do I enable Windows 2000-like file sharing and security in Windows XP workgroups? I don't see the security tab for a file or a folder




2. No matter how many times I check the Remember Password box, Outlook/Outlook Express will refuse to save passwords for my account(s).




3. I don't care for the search interface in Windows Explorer. Can I change it so that it's more like the Windows 2000 search?




4. The icons and the fonts on my screen are very small. I'd like to change this so that they are larger. How do I do this?




5. My PC appears to be locked up. When I move or click on the mouse, nothing happens. When I enter keys on the keyboard, nothing happens.




6. I want to have a folder with certain program icons open when I start my PC. How can I do this?




7. I am a Freshmen in College this year and looking for any way I can to save or create spare time! How do I customize the Windows XP Start Menu?




Hardware And Software Vendor Phone List, A-K




Hardware And Software Vendor Phone List, L-P




Hardware And Software Vendor Phone List, Q-Z











IF01766 Easy enable real Administrator Account in Windows Vista Home Premium




IF01767 Keep User Account Control active, but get rid of annoying popups in Vista.




IF01768 Transfer User Accounts, System Settings from XP to Vista.




IF02011 Map a Network Printer In Windows XP.




IF02006 Using The Windows XP Event Viewer Log.






How to clean an LCD screen

Note from ClifNotes, Sep 2007, permalink Tips


Here's a good tip from Tiffany. Keep in mind that Laptop computers aren't the only LCD screens you may have. Do you have an LCD TV? A screen on an iPod or Cell Phone?


Tip from Tiffany:

This is surely one tip we can all use. I'd been doing it all wrong; using Windex on my screen! Now, I know how to make my own inexpensive, safe solution that won't damage anything.



Tiffany Cartier



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




One last word on security - from Bill Webb

review from ClifNotes, Sep 2007, permalink Tips


How secure is the information that passes from your computer to the internet? Bill Webb wrote up a short article about it and I thought I'd pass it along.


The sad truth is that none of us has much privacy on the web. Find out why below.


Quote from the website

The issue of security on the Web and Internet (they’re not the same thing) has again been raised by a reader. This is going to be my definitive commentary on the subject, that I can link to when someone asks, henceforth and forevermore.


So pay attention. This is the straight skinny about security in cyberspace.

read the rest of the article


Bill is a well known writer on Lockergnome, Backwash and a few other spots on the web.



Introduction to Bill


Bill also writes at Backwash.com as DigitalZen


Read Bills articles at Lockergnome



Microsoft creates more nightmares for itself

Report from BillAllin, Sept 2007, permalink Windows Tips


From Clif:

Once again, MS Mole surfaces and speaks to our friend Bill. What evil lurks in the dark underground passages of Redmond? Only the Mole knows.


From Bill Allin:

Microsoft remains extremely secretive about its goings-on since our last report. Despite its advertising to the contrary, the company seems to have more problems than it can cope with.


Mole claims that Microsoft has done nothing but create more nightmares for itself over the past three weeks. September’s Update Tuesday, rather than solve problems generated in August’s Update Tuesday, made the August ones more complex and dire and created a few more.


Individual users have mostly been able to roll back their registries to safe ones from the past (thank goodness for ERUNT, I had to use ComboFix too). However network administrators have been pounding their heads on walls because MS has made updating network computers a one-by-one thing instead of the usual way of updating the whole network at once.


At this point Microsoft seems to have little idea about how to resolve its many problems. Added to that are threats of litigation brought forward by large software companies that depend on Windows working properly and safely. As these threats include some from the big antivirus companies (such as Authentium), damage control is more in order than repair for MS.


What’s worse is Mole claims that any repairs done since the September Update Tuesday may be undone again with the October Updates. He claims it’s almost a certainty, as of this writing, so keep your notes about your workarounds and repairs handy if you had a problem. Permanent solutions are not at hand.


Trying to continually fix products that didn’t work properly when they were first introduced to the market is a devil MS may not be able to control any more.


Users around the world are looking for a saviour they can’t find in Redmond. Apple is laughing itself silly and those groups preparing alternative operating systems that can run Windows programs are working overtime.


(On a personal note, my problem of Windows repeatedly trying to apply a security patch to a Service Pack that doesn’t exist on my computer is one shared by many Windows users.)



Bill Allin


Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book about real and inexpensive solutions to personal and community problems most people think are inevitable evils of modern society. They aren't. We just have to look in the right place.

Learn more at http://billallin.com

Contact author Bill Allin at turningitaround@sympatico.ca




Comments last week

Thanks to everyone who commented on the articles last week. You gave me more ideas and some good advice.



Is Trend Micro's HijackThis Spyware? •

WinTabber - Tab your terminal, shell, browser or favorite application •

Knytt Stories - sequels can be better •


Cool Websites

VirusTotal - upload a file for an online virus test •

Docufarm - find and view uploaded documents •

Contactify - don't post your email address, post a link instead•

Goodbye Pidgeons - a unique solution •

Homemade Rube Goldberg Contraption



















CoolSites Newsletter this week


Here are a 6 links (out of dozens) from Mark's CoolSites Newsletter. Be sure to visit his site and see the rest of his links this week.


September 21 2007 COOLSITES Newsletter # 131 by Mark Donaldson


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.




Websites I've visited recently


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



micado - create reusable multiple choice exams on-line

Notes from ClifNotes, Sep 2007, permalink Cool Website


Here's a great web service that lets you create and display online multiple choice tests. This would be great for educators or for pure entertainment.


Quote from the website

micado is a web application that lets you create multiple choice exams. Features:


• Automatic variation of questions for repeated use

• Exams can be printed for classroom use or put online

• Question templates may contain any number of graphics

• Secure server, no information shared with third parties

• Free


Micado is primarily intended for high school or university instructors, but it is in no way restricted to purely acadamic usage. If you want to give micado a try, sign up, set up the sandbox course, and work through the tutorial. For advanced usage, it is advisable to study the documentation.




Encyclopedia Mythica - the myth lives on

Note from ClifNotes, Sep 2007, permalink Cool Website


Here's a great place to get lost in legends, myths and old tales. The image gallery is almost as unbelievable as some of the stories.


Quote from the website

Please enter the award-winning internet encyclopedia of mythology, folklore, and religion. Here you will find everything from A-gskw to Zveda Vechanyaya, with plenty in between ... we feature special interest areas to enhance and refine your research. A Bestiary, legendary heroes, an image gallery, and genealogical tables of various pantheons and prominent houses.


To bring our entities to life, we have created an image gallery, where you will find hundreds of images of all kinds of deities, heroes, and strange creatures of every description.


The encyclopedia will serve the serious researcher, the student, and the casual reader with equal success. Come in and enjoy! Think mythology, think EM!





Survival Against All Odds

Notes from ClifNotes, Sep 2007, permalink Cool Videos


Tony at TopFreeware.net sent this video link to me. At first, I thought it was your typical nature film. Lions always eat the other critters, isn't that right? Just sit back and watch.




Google Presentation - web enabled Power Point clone

Notes from ClifNotes, Sep 2007, permalink Web Service


It's finally here. This is the lastest and very important piece of Google's online office suite. Many folks will be looking at getting rid on their old installed office apps. I'm one of them.


Google Presentation - Google's PowerPoint app goes live
Google Presentation
Google's long-rumored and eagerly anticipated PowerPoint clone has finally shipped. Although we've only had a chance to have a first look, here are some impressions:
 blog it


read more at the website










SnapFiles.com - new and updated freeware

Source - http://snapfiles.com/freeware





News from Sarah in Tampa

Source - http://sarahintampa.com




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 800 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






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