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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

August 20, 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.

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visiting this newsletter!

Privacy Policy Software Policy




Bartware Personal Firewall - David vs Goliath


My friend in the UK, Steven Burn, picks up websites for hosting like some people pick up stray cats. This is good hobby, because I don't think Steven's rats would like him to add any stray cats! One of his most recent additions to it-mate.co.uk is the BartWare page.


I found BartWare's personal firewall (BWPF) to be very nice, and it kinda reminds me of older versions of ZoneAlarm. It does a nice job of blocking external intrusions, but most importantly for those of us already behind a router firewall, is the outgoing blocking. When you fire up a new program that tried to connect to the internet, BWPF will ask you if you want to allow it to connect. This is very revealing when you load up new stuff.


I look forward to see how this new firewall will develop. After all, Bart is up against some very tough competition when you consider the giants like ZoneAlarm and Kerio.


It's like rooting for David when he fights Goliath. Good luck Bart! Keep a few stones handy ...




Quote from the website

BartWare Personal Firewall is a freeware firewall. Unfortunatly, BWPF is only compatible with Windows XP, so if you're still running Win9x, visit the archive. Version 1.4.3 and below is compatible with Win9x. Version 2.1.1 and up are only compatible with WinXP (or other NT5 platforms).


Important: this program is only compatible with Windows XP (or other NT5 platforms)



  • detailed TCP/UDP/ICMP/IP statistics
  • an easily accessible list of connections
  • the ability to terminate connections or the applications related to it
  • 4 security levels: allow all, normal (ask most), high (deny most) and block all.
  • easy GUI to change connection rules (remote port, remote host, local port, etc.)
  • easy GUI to change application rules
  • an easy update system (no reboots)
  • online help files and support forum
  • easy DHCP releasing/renewing
  • logging


Website: http://www.bartware.it-mate.co.uk/?q=bwpf



gPhotoShow - old but still kickin screensaver

posted by ClifNotes, Aug 2006, Permalink


Elohnah wrote in:

Would you know of any freeware that lets you create a photo slideshow with MUSIC, which you can burn to a CD? I have searched everywhere on the internet & cannot find any such freeware. I have a Windows XP home edition-- CD/RW.


Hi Elohnah,


Old photoshow screensaver program.


GPhotoshow (do not update to a newer version, danger of adware included)

Download: http://www.pricelesswarehome.org/SOS/gPhotoShow.exe


Now comes the tricky part. How to install it on a CD ...

Install it on your C: drive first.

Create a CD with your photos on it.


Create a slideshow with GPhotoshow using only the photos on the CD.


Now create a new CD and include the same pics and also include the GPhotoshow program folder. Note that the CD would have to be created with an auto-run file.


Help for autorunning CD's:



I don't know if this will work, but it may be worth a try. In any case, you'll like gPhotoshow.


Have fun!



Quote from the host site for gPhotoShow

A screen saver for windows 95/98 and Windows NT. developed it to view my photos as a slide show while I am not using my pc, you can use it to show your own images or the photo you have download from my photo gallery. gPhotoShow can be used free of charge. Click here to read the license agreement. gPhotoShows may need the updated version of the windows common controls, if you have windows 95 and you have troubles in starting gPhotoShow or you get the message "An unsupported operation was attempted" download and install the file 40comupd.exe To play MP3 files gPhotoShow requires Microsoft Media Player 6.0 or later. You can download Media Player freely from the Microsoft web site: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/mediaplayer/download gPhotoShow Features: Runs in Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 Several transition effects Supported Image formats : BMP, JPG, GIF Works on both 256 color and True Color displays Configurable delay between images Automatically resizes your images Recursive image search Plays your favourite music while showing images Supported sounds format: Mid, Wav, MP3 (requires Microsoft Media Player 6.0 or later) Multi Monitor support in Windows 98 and Windows 2000. Password protection Easy install / uninstall.




Userbar Generator - make little signature bar graphics

posted by ClifNotes, Aug 2006, Permalink


Here's a very nice signature graphic generator available as freeware. I tried it and it's going into my list of Image Generators.




Quote from the website

AmitySource Userbar Generator is an easy-to-use program for generating unique and attractive userbars. With it you can create nice-looking userbar within five minutes and without any technical or artistical knowledge. It has everything you need for creating personal userbars: you can choose colors, special effect, pattern, a glow effect, an overlay image for your composition. AmitySource Userbar Generator allows to save the created userbar in different popular formats.






Zsoft Uninstaller - a new challenger for Total Uninstall?

review by ClifNotes, Aug 2006, Permalink


Last week, I posted an old review of TotalUninstall (TUN). I consider TUN a must have utility and it's one of the first programs I load onto a new PC. I've always thought TUN was the best freeware uninstaller, but one of your fellow readers has told me that there is now a contender for the uninstaller crown.


OneSeaman wrote me on August 13th with this tip:

Have you looked at ZSoft Uninstaller? It will also "Analyze" a program, using before and after snapshots, so you can fully uninstall it. It is free and actively under development. http://www.zsoft.dk/.


Thanks Seaman, yes, I see that it's free. It also received fairly good user reviews at Download.com. I decided I just had to try it out.


What's it like? Will I stop using TUN now?

This is a great little program and it does pretty much everything that the author claims it does.


Zsoft TUN
Lists all installed programs Yes No
Lists programs it monitored Yes Yes
Outputs installation log Yes Yes
Options to select monitored registry areas Yes Yes
Options to ignore selected registry areas during monitored install Yes Yes
Tree view of installed registry keys and files No Yes
Easy removal of sections of installation log No Yes


As you can see above, in some ways Zsoft is better than TUN. However, the ability to easily remove sections from my installer log is a feature I cannot live without. I often find log entries related to Internet Explorer, Firefox, Anti-Virus, Firewall, and other apps running during the monitoring process. TUN allows me to easily remove those before I save the log file. TUN also displays them in a convenient tree view so I can find such entries much faster. One more thing, TUN works after using Windows Add/Remove, where Zsoft didn't respond to finish the uninstall process.


It looks to me like Zsoft will work quite well for many people, but if you need an really good free analysis of an install, then TotalUninstall is what you need. Zsoft has a feature that allows you to scan for temp files and remove them. I use a utility called EasyCleaner, that is specially designed for cleaning temp files and the registry, so I don't find as much value in it being in my installation monitor.


If you have never used an installation monitoring program, I can heartily recommend Zsoft. It is simpler, faster, and will do the job for most folks.







Quote from the website

ZSoft Uninstaller 2.3 is the better and easier way to uninstall programs on your computer.

Location and uninstalling a program with ZSoft Uninstaller 2.3 is as easy as clicking a button:


Scroll the list or use the search function

Select the program you want to uninstall and choose uninstall from the menu in the top of the program, or right-click on it and choose uninstall.

ZSoft Uninstaller 2.3 is capable of finding programs that most likely already is uninstalled, but still remains in you registry and allows you to remove the reference. This results in a cleaner registry.


ZSoft Uninstaller 2.3 is superior than the build-in function in Microsoft Windows, among other things it enables you to:



Delete entry's from programs that is no longer installed

Automatically find entry's from programs that are most likely already uninstalled

Hide entries from the list that you are never going to uninstall (Windows updates etc.) making the list smaller and therefore easier to manage.

Automatically find entry's that are considered "crap-ware"

Export the current list to a TXT file

Show more information than available though add/remove

Find and delete temporary files

Analyse an installation so it can be completely uninstalled


See the Zsoft Uninstaller




A-Squared Free - kills trojans, dialers, worms, and spyware

reviewed by ClifNotes on 24 Oct 2004, updated twice, Permalink


Notes - updated 14 Aug 2006

I received a letter from Emsisoft, the authors of a-squared Free.

A new version of the free Malware scanner is now available.


The new version offers four new scan methods, analysis of packed archive files, a scan exception list for folders and Malware names, many new user interface elements and registration is no longer required.


The aim of a-squared Free is to free your PC from Malware in an emergency. In addition to Spyware/Adware, this also includes Trojans, Backdoors, Keyloggers, Worms and Dialers. With over 440,000 Malware signatures and daily updates, it is one of the most powerful free Malware scanners available.


You can download a-squared Free from the Emsi Software download page ...


Notes - updated 14 Oct 2005

If you ever need maximum strength scanning, look no further than a-squared free. Currently it has more than 83,000 signatures that it scans for. My wife and I have been using this one as an extra layer of defense for over a year now. It is often updated and rock solid stable.





click to expand



a² is a complementary product to antivirus software. It provides specialist protection against harmful software. Antivirus software is not enough! a² provides protection against Trojans, Dialers and Spyware. a² fills the gaps that malware writers exploit.


Visit Emsisoft to get your free copy of a-squared Free.


Opera 9 USB version

posted by ClifNotes, Aug 2006, Permalink


I finally decided to try out the newest version of Opera web browser this week. So far, I haven't found a thing about that I don't like. It's still got all the legendary features that made me favor it ever since I tried it back in version 6.


Opera still strives to be the fastest browser while surfing, and it's got the tabbed interface that they were one of the very first to adopt. Opera also has a variety of mouse gestures that allow you to quickly move from page to page or tab to tab while browsing.


I'm using the USB version because you don't actually have to install it. Just download the zip file and extract it to a safe location, then make a link to the operausb.exe file and put the link where you can get to it when you want it. It's truly "green-ware" meaning it won't leave any registry entries behind and if you use it on a thumb drive, you won't even leave any files on the computer you use it on.


The newest feature I like is called "Widgets". These are little stand-alone apps that you can download into Opera and launch into separate small windows. Here's a picture of the "Touch the Sky" widget to show me my local weather reports in real time.



Quote from Opera website

Widgets are fun Web programs you can run right on your desktop. Access news and weather, play games, follow your favorite sports teams and much more. There are currently 586 Widgets available.






X-Mouse Gizmo for Windows

posted by ClifNotes, Aug 2006, Permalink


10 years ago, I had to learn how to use Unix at work. This was before I'd ever heard of Linux and we were still using a mix of Windows 3.1 and Windows NT there. After a few minutes in Unix, I found a surprising difference between copying and pasting between Unix and Windows.


In Unix, the copy and paste are very simple. Highlight the text, left click where you want it and click your center mouse button. How could it be easier?


Now I'm enjoying the same functionality in Windows with the added bonus of the "focus follows mouse" for opening windows for use.


This isn't for everyone. My wife hates it. I love it and it takes awhile to get used to.


Just download the txmouse.exe file to a safe place on your hard drives, then add a shortcut to your Startup menu to make it auto-run when you boot.



You'll see this in your system tray




Quote from the website

Have you ever paid attention to striking difference in the thickness of forefingers in X11/Unix and MS Windows users, respectively? The latter have much more muscular forefingers that often suffer from chronic aches in their joints. They also much more often develop mouse arm, pain in the neck and shoulders, and other troubles known as Repetitive Stress Syndrome and associated with excessive usage of a pointing device. Why?


The explanation is simple: all X11 users benefit from the fact that no significant effort is needed to place a selected chunk of text into the clipboard and to fetch it from there. Unfortunately, this is not the case in MS Windows. Moreover, different applications require different procedures. For example, to simply copy the selected piece of text to the clipboard, you may need to

- choose Edit - Copy from the menu

- press a button with two pieces of paper on it

- use keyboard shortcuts Ctrl-Insert or Ctrl-C.


But this is only the beginning of the story. How do we paste the contents of the clipboard into an X-application? By middle-clicking once. (Note how the middle or the ring finger get their fair share of exercise.) How do they paste in Windows? In yet more ways than they copy:

- choose Edit - Paste from the menu

- press a button with a piece of paper on a clipboard

- press a button with a brush

- press a button with a bottle of glue

- Shift-Insert, Ctrl-V or Ctrl-P

and so on.


Besides that, the X11 users don't have to click-click-click with their mice only to move the focus from one window to another or to lower/raise a window - simple operations that require lots of clicks or just are impossible (lower!) in MS Windows.












Recommended Text to Speech Software

tips from Giorgos in Greece, Aug 2006, Permalink


Giorgos wrote me with a simple question but a long list of how-to's.


... what text to speech software do you use there? I read that it's very usefull for people with eye difficulties. Well, I don't have any eye disabilities but my eyes don't work the same way that they used to.


I like sending a book's text to clipboard (and through it, to the speech engine), then lying down to bed, and listening to the book instead of reading it. :-)


After seaching for one or two years, I found 2 good apps for this purpose, but I haven't looked recently to see what else is available. I liked Deskbot and Speakonia, which requires free registration.


I kept Deskbot because it supports MS Agents. I've tried some agents from Agentring.org and they all seem to install properly. They are also usable in MS Office.



The agents I prefer, are Kumi and Keiko sisters. ;-)


You can also find Non-English text to speech engines.


Thanks Giorgos, as usual, you are ahead of the curve for trying out new freeware. I've never used any text to speech utilities.


Readers, if you have found good free text to speech engines or want to comment, click here.


Download.com's Best Firefox Extensions

posted by ClifNotes, Aug 2006 Permalink


Download.com has published their list of favorite FireFox extensions in three volumes. I've only looked at the most recent Volume 3 page and I've already gotten distracted trying them out.


With over a hundred add-ons in our Firefox extensions category, it's often hard to find the cream of the crop. We've been tracking our favorites since the announcement of the Extend Firefox contest back in December 2005, and we've collected 10 more extensions that we adore. From downloading Internet video to following the World Cup, these add-ons should satisfy you die-hard Firefox fans.


Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3


Get Firefox Firefox Addons


Dealing with DRM - the remix

posted by ClifNotes, responses from readers, Aug 2006 Permalink


Last week I responded to a reader who asked a question about Windows Media Player and music files with DRM (Digital Rights Management software or encoding) in them.


While it may be okay for the rest of the world to copy DVDs and music CDs, in the States, we are strapped by a law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It basically tells us that if a piece of software or media has DRM on it, we can't break or circumvent the protection, if we do, we have broken the law. You can keep copies of DRM protected media for your personal use, but the only way to get the copies involves breaking the law or simply buying another copy. Most people would be thinking "I just bought this, and now I can't make a copy for safe keeping?".


Quote from EFF.org

In practice, the DMCA and DRM have done nothing to stop "Internet piracy." Yet the DMCA has become a serious threat that jeopardizes fair use, impedes competition and innovation, chills free expression and scientific research, and interferes with computer intrusion laws. If you circumvent DRM locks for noninfringing fair uses or create the tools to do so, you might be on the receiving end of a lawsuit.


So, just in case I talk about copying a CD or DVD, it's a theoretical excercise, not something I'd advice you to do.


My Dad was recently playing a Jazz CD of his that he loves and I noticed a skip or pause in it. I told him that I could rip the album and create a backup CD for him that wouldn't have the skip in it.


In theory, I could have downloaded MusicMatch Jukebox, then ripped the CD into mp3 files, and then burnt them onto a new CD for him. After using MusicMatch, I decided I didn't like it because it's just way to commercial for me. Instead, I'll recommend people try out CDex instead, if they can legally use it. CDex is open source freeware.


Another reader wrote in about my suggestion to use ScreamerRadio to rip music streams from websites like ShoutCast.com.



From Bob C.

You're REALLY starting to freak me out here. I just started using Screamer Radio a couple days ago and even sent it out to all my friends and posted it in a newsgroup because I was so impressed by it. I'm getting nervous about reading the rest of the newsletter...


Check out Live365.com for stations - they have some great stuff that Shoutcast doesn't.


It's easy to figure out the how to get the link from Live365, and it works fine until you exit Screamer. But Live365 wants you to log in when you restart Screamer and play a Live365 station. It's only been a couple days so I haven't had a chance to follow up on it and figure it out. Not that it's such a bad problem, and I really do like my Live365 stations.


Thanks for the great tip Bob!



Living a DRM-free existence

posted by ClifNotes, recommended by Giorgos in Greece, Aug 2006, Permalink


Giorgos wrote me with a link he thought I might be interested in. Yes, I was interested. I'm not going to try and tell you about the best way to avoid DRM's (Digital Rights Management), someone has already done this ...


Living a DRM-free existence, A Better World


Eliminate DRM!

Protect your freedom!



Thanks Giorgos!




And the sign said - customize your own signs and other objects

a tip from ClifNotes on 7/24/05



Here are some cool places to make your own customized images. You can have a lot of fun with some of these.


Churchs Sign Generator

The ACME Label Maker

The ACME License Maker

Just for Valentine's Day: the ACME Heart Maker

Tombstone Generator

Button Generator

Logo Generator

3d Text Maker

Online Banner Makers

Error Message Generator

Email Icon Generator

Dancing Alphabet Names

Gmail Signature Generator

another Gmail Signature Generator

The Generator Blog

Custom Sign Generator dot com

Userbar Generator





























Why and when should I use Snopes?

posted by ClifNotes, Aug 2006, Permalink


First, what is Snopes.com?

Snopes dot com is the first place I check when I get an email with a wild story or unusual claims. They investigate urban legends, hoaxes, scams, and other stuff you'll see often in an email your friend has sent you.




A TV Station actually reported that you could hunt naked women with a paintball gun in Las Vegas.


Here's an interview of the people behind Snopes and the story.


Quote from Online Journalism Review

There are a lot of reporters who live by the maxim: If it sounds like it's too good to be true, it probably is. Meaning, it's not true. In the case of the "Hunting for Bambi" whopper, Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS was ready to shoot video first, ask questions later. Despite the fact that the station's LuAnne Sorrell did a four-part report on the scheme -- supposedly giving men the chance to hunt naked women with paintball guns for up to $10,000 --


See the truth behind the story


Now you can see why I recommend and often quote Snopes.





Son of Spy Freeware - host to lost freeware

posted by ClifNotes, Aug 2006, Permalink


While searching for the last freeware version of the gPhotoshow program, I finally located it at Son of Spy's website. This is a great place to get lost for awhile. It's all safe stuff and absolutely free.



Quote from the website



I am Son Of Spy.


I protect great free applications that have been abandoned, made payware and/or been lost, keeping them available for the utility and enjoyment of new generations of surfers.


I promise you'll see things here that are linked to nowhere else.


So...if something's missing, please don't hesitate to write...


-Son Of Spy









Websites I've visited recently











Google Talk adds more features and open standards

posted by ClifNotes, Aug 2006


Here's a rant by Chris Pirillo at LockerGnome. He doesn't really like GoogleTalk, but he's willing to give them some credit now. Read on ...


More Instant Messaging Madness






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.


Find out more about it at Gabbly.com


click here.





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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