Tuesday, August 14, 2007
CurrPorts gives you the IP address, tells you if the port is TCP or UDP, gives you the path of the process that is running, and it provides other information that might help you investigate a given process. I highly recommend that everyone keep CurrPorts on hand and run it sometimes, just so you are familiar with everything that you are connected to.
Usually I like to refer my readers directly to the company that developed the software that I am recommending but the people who wrote SuperScan (Foundstone) were bought by Macafee and I can't find a link to this freeware on their new site. So you can download it from Snapfiles, one of my favorite sites on the web.
I use YKill all the time. If you have a program stuck on your screen and you can’t get rid of it then open up Y-Kill and the “kill window” will allow you to drag a skull onto the intrusive window and it kills it every time without crashing your system. You can use the GUI to bring up a list of the open windows or use ctl+alt+X to bring up the skull, which you can then drag onto the offending window. It closes anything that is open on your desktop, even if it’s not listed as a process or a task in your task manager window. Ykill has helped me avoid many re-boots.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
The good news is that freeware users don't need to take a step down on graphics capabilities because there is an even more powerful graphics freeware product available. Gimp has been around for some time now and when I originally looked at it I thought it was too complex for the average user. The complexity is still an issue but it has become user friendly enough for everyone to look at and become proficient with if they spend an afternoon tinkering with it. GIMP is a very robust environment that offers a multitude of textures, layer controls, and editing tools. Gimp runs on both the UNIX and the Windows platform so we get the benefit of both the resources in the development community but we also get a file structure in the GUI that is a little confusing for a Windows user but don't let that scare you off. It is entirely possible to get good at using GIMP within a day or two and it is deep enough to keep you busy for years before you master everything in GIMP. Therefore, everyone's got to check it out and experiment.
You'll have to download both the application and the run-time environment and then install both packages. Then you'll be able to do everything from simple photo edits to advanced graphic environments.
If you've looked at Gimp and you'd rather work with something easier then check out photofilter at the link below.
Friday, August 10, 2007
There are several solutions that all work the same way. The best that I have tested is the Cute PDF writer and you can download it for free at the link below. It's a snap to install and after you install it you'll notice that when you go to print a document, it looks like you have a new printer named 'Cute PDF writer'.
I posted the following comment on 'download squad' and I thought I should back it up by telling you how to create the pdf documents I mention in the comment below.
Sooner or later someone is going to come out with a free fax service and it will be a huge success because the ones that are currently out there don't work very well. I don't understand why some smart people have not seen that opportunity in the market. I've tried to use the fax pay sites that have deals where you can fax a page or two for free but their primary business is a fee based service but I've never had the faxes actually go through. Today users can easily create their own pdf documents on their desktop with freeware so I can't understand why it is so hard for someone to create an outgoing fax service and pay for it with advertising. Faxing is the only existing niche in the market that hasn't benefited from the web2.0 movement (that I know of). I just wanted to point out that the market is there and so is the business opportunity. I wish I had the money, time, and skills needed to go after this juicy slice of the Internet market! Hopefully someone out there will read this, go after the opportunity, and be the next big success story!
I maintain a blog that reviews freeware. I'm continually working to identify a 'best of breed' freeware solution for the Windows NT platform. Check out my blog at:
Posted at 2:32PM on Aug 10th 2007 by Ethan Dickerson
Friday, August 03, 2007
Programmer's Notepad - is a really nice editor no matter what your programming in. You've got more options than you can shake a stick at. I'm not much of a programmer but I do some html occasionally and I frequently will open a program to make some suttle changes. Code doesn't scare me but I'm not the type that will create something on his own. Like most out there... I'm a code thief, meaning copy, hack, and get it to work for whatever need I have. I'd recommend this program to everyone to have on hand and I'd recommend that you change your system file type pref to bring this up every time you open a .txt doc as well.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Although I neglected my BLOG, I did not stop evaluating freeware! So the good news is that I have a bunch of freeware that has been tested and identified as the best stuff on the Internet and I will be making all that information available to my readers.
Thanks for every one's support! I look forward to hearing from you. If you have suggestions or comments please feel free to leave me a note. I will respond to every note I receive.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Thursday, May 25, 2006
A few months ago I got an offer in my email telling me that I should "speed up my computer" and at that time I was struggling with resources so I checked into it. One of the areas it said I should devote some attention to was cleaning my registry, which I had never done. So I typed "free registry cleaner" in Google and it returned many results. Every site said "Free Download" so I went ahead and downloaded, installed, scanned, backed up... All this probably took me a half hour but when it came time to "fix" the problems the software had identified it would only fix the first 10 errors found (I'm ashamed to admit that I had over 900 errors). So obviously fixing the first 10 would do me no good.
This experience inspires me to discuss a "pet peeve". If a software product is not free than why to developers insist on using little tricks to make it look free. I am certainly never going to pay someone who "cons" me into downloading their shareware by advertising it as a "free download" and then limits the functions to make the product unpractical. It has to be the worst marketing move in history. Get a clue shareware developers!
On to better things... After much frustration with the fake freeware products I did find a registry cleaner that truly was freeware that operates so well, so professionally, that it is hard for me to imagine any other software doing a better job. I can't say enough good things about Eusing Free Registry cleaner. It backs up your registry, analyzes it, and fixes it all with no hassles. So use their product and avoid the shareware scams. Here is the link to download Eusing's product.
In the UNIX world there is a function called "grep" that allows you to search for a string of text and replace each occurrence of that string of text with something else. It was mainly a programmers tool but in the windows world there are all kinds of other needs for this same function, BK Replace handles all those needs. Everyone should keep this tool handy because you are not sure when you will need it. Download it and be prepared, you'll be glad you did!
There are lots of “launch” programs out there. This one is the best one I've found. It’s simple, clean, and resource efficient. I think everyone should have a program launcher. It’s a centralized location to pull up your common programs and most used files.
Gadwin Print Screen!
Take a snapshot of your desktop and save it as a .jpg. You can control what happens when you hit the printscreen button. I have mine set up so that when I hit the printscreen button it pulls up the picture of my desktop and when I hit continue output it brings up a window to save the file, you could also specify for it to go to a printer... There are many options and tools to help you take snapshots of your desktop screen.
As you can tell from the product name, this program hides your desktop. It works well. I couldn’t find the actual manufacturers site so I’ve pointed you to Major Geeks to download.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
What a great disk reporting tool. It gives you a “tree” based diagram that breaks down your drives sectors. Then you can jump to the directory where the files are stored and make the necessary adjustments. This is a must for anyone that is working to keep their disk well organized and wants to understand what is stored on your disk and where.
Syncback allows you to backup or sycronize two directories. This is great if you want to backup your files to a different hard drive or if you are maintaining a website and you want to edit files in a "working" directory and have it post to permanent... It’s a nifty package that is easy to use, effective, and free!
Free Download Manager
I didn’t think that I needed a download manager. The reason I installed this was because the FireFox extension (FlashGot) required a download manager. I found this one and it’s great. Now I don’t use FlashGot any longer. I’ve never been able to figure that extension out. Free Download Manager places a transparent icon on your desktop. You just drag and drop any file you find in your browser that you want to download and it handles it. Then if you want to retrieve your download you just double click on the icon. You can schedule your downloads and do just about anything else you can think of for downloading a file. It’s a great product.
There are many file compression programs on the free market. I tested four or five of them. This one works well when you first use it but after you get used to using it you’ll find that it works really well. It took me a while to take advantage of their extract shortcuts. The only thing I wish this would do that it doesn’t is allow you to check an option to automatically open the unzipped folder. Everything else about this software I like.
This is a pretty nuts and bolts FTP program. It works well and has a good log window. What more could you ask for!
This is a handy program for file renaming. You can programmatically take characters off files. For example, if I have several files XXpictureofmydog.jpg and I want to remove the XX from all the files… This is the tool to help with that. I’ve also used it to put the date on a bunch of files that I downloaded at once.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
This is a really great application that allows you to easily and dependably change the colors of your "folders". I use this to organize the files in my program folder, everything that I know and use I color blue, everything I know I want to unistall I color red, and anything that I don't know what it is I color Green. It's another dimension to folder management and it is very useful. After you install this freeware right click on a folder and click on "color label" and choose your color... it is as easy as it can get. This is another Mighty Joe Must Have for everyone!
XEarth - Dynamic Wallpaper
XEarth provides a picture of the world and updates you with earthquake information worldwide in near real time. It's the best thing I've found to use as your desktop background. After you install it right click on the earth icon in your tray and choose properties. Then go to the "image" tab and select cylindrical. That will display a flat earth and allow you to see the quakes updated in real time.
Check it out!!! I think you'll really love it!!!
Panorama - Wallpaper Management
I really prefer Xearth to any static desktop environment but if you need a change and want to use pictures as a background wallpaper then you should try Panorama! Panorama is the best freeware to manage your wallpapers that I've found. It is easy to use and does a good job and I have not experienced an problems. The reason that I mention problems is because I have had other programs that, for some reason, confuse the XP interface but this one is so simple and straight forward that I don't think we'll ever have any problems with it. Try it out!!!
Download some cool new fonts. It’s a great way to spice up your documents and it's easy to do. After you download the font file, move it into C:\Windows\Fonts or you can pull up "fonts" from the control panel. You can download free fonts from the sites mentioned below.
Another way to "dress the mess" is to change the icons on your system. This can be done simply by selecting a folder and choosing properties then choosing "customize". At the bottom that says "change icon". There are a number of really great icon management programs out there. I've used some and I'll write up a review after I decide which I think is best. There are also a number of programs that let you create and edit fonts and I'm in the process of looking into those as well.
This is a good location to download icons on the web.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Everything you ever wanted in a viewer, it's fast, efficient, and functional. There are 2 interfaces that work together to bring you the ultimate viewing ability; a thumbnail view and a single pain view. Put the thumbnail view in your program launcher. IrfranView allows you to assign it as the "default" program for your image files during the install and I recommend that you do this. I did not select IrfranView as my multimedia player of choice. I'm looking into this...
For future reference... to select what programs open what file types you can do it by going to your control panel--> select "folder options" --> select the tab "file types".
Download IrfranView and you'll be amazed at how much easier it is for you to browse your images.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
At this web site you can learn what all the services are doing and stop the ones that you do not need. It was a real eye opener for me!
Below I have listed some of the services I have stopped but you need to go to the site above and read through it so you understand what services are right for you to shut down. BlackViper has made it easy to look up your services. The only reason I am showing you what I shut off is so you understand what a waste some of these services are. Anyone that owns a computer and does not go through this process is waisting their resources and sharing information they might not want to. This is one of the reasons that Microsoft is criticized so heavily by those who know what the Windows OS is actually doing. There are things you do not want running on your computer and Black Viper does a very good job of helping you sort things out.
The indexing service: If you create a lot of files and directories on your computer the indexing service built into XP, and automatically turned on each time you start your computer, is probably sucking up your memory and slowing you down.
Network Location Awareness: It turns out that this service is not needed if you have upgraded to XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).
Server: Doesn't make sense unless you are sharing printers or files across a network like they do at big companies. In fact, it is a security risk if you are using your computer at home as a single user.
SSDP Discovery Service: It turns out that the things this "discovers" are pretty unlikely for you to have at your home and it may be a security risk to leave this on.
System Restore Service: Especially with this service, you need to read through the description on the "black viper" web page. This service creates a snap shot of my environment every so often. Besides the indexing, this is the largest offender of system resources on your service list. I made the decision to stop it because I don't think I will ever use it. Even if my drive crashes (knock on wood).
TCPIP Netbios: Provides legacy support for these networking formats. If you use a cable modem from home you probably don't need this service.
Terminal Services: If you are sharing your computer with several people you should leave this on. I am not so I shut it off.
WebClient: BlackViper has not found a reason to have this running and it is a security risk so I shut it down.
I like the user interface in this product. It lists out all the processes and how much RAM they are using and allows you to individually recover the RAM from each process. Until I found Ram Saver Pro (I had to license a fee based product) this was my solution.
This is the only free product that I found that allows you to edit the cache size. I don't use it any longer. I used it for a while and tried to look up optimum configurations on the web but I was never able to optimize my memory use enough to make a noticeable difference. Also, every time you change the cache it requires you to shut down and it has to make some hard changes. I didn't like this "hard boot". It concerned me.
So I gave you all the negative stuff in the paragraph above. This is an application that you can use on your home PC for free and it does allow you to change the cache. So if you need to change the cache this is the product for you!
Tiny Res Meter
This is the only desktop monitoring tool that I use now. It’s small and it provides all the information you need. Might Joe has searched the web and tried many different products but when it comes to monitoring your resources without sucking up all your resources this is the best product I’ve found.
This is a Taskman like application but it's more of a system investigation and reporting tool. I was surprised by the amount of information available through this interface. There are plenty of ways to gather information like this but I really like having it at my fingertips and in an interface that I understand. ConfigInspector covers just about everything, CPU, network, memory, display... It doesn't take much ram to run and I think the information is valuable and should be kept available at all times. Try it out, you can't ask for a better system reporting tool.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
This is a replacement for task manager that provides more information and is more customizable. It took me several weeks to feel comfortable to disable Task Manager but I've completely migrated now. I've been running it for over three years now and it has proven itself to be a very stable program. Process Explorer is a very impressive freeware program and I think most people running XP, that know what they are doing, use this program in place of task manager. I think you will like it, you can change the colors of OS based services vs the services you start so it gives the user more flexibility. It also lists out the complete path and even more information on the dlls of each running process. Everyone should be running process explorer instead of task manager. Consider it a free upgrade from Task Manager!
This is another great free product from sysinternals. They have so many different products but I have found the combination of Process Explorer and Filemon to be very effective. If my machine disk is spinning like crazy and my CPU is off the chart I can find out what is going on by utilizing these 2 products. Process Explorer will tell me what is using CPU and ram but filemon tells me what products are opening files on your disk. This is crucial information... After you set up filemon and then open it up you will get a window "on the run" one of the buttons on top, I believe 2nd from the left, stops the scrolling so you can have a good hard look at which programs are causing your disk to spin. This is very useful.
You need to have some kind of window into your start menu. When you install programs a lot of them put an executable in your "start menu" and they automatically run when you turn on your computer. The good programs give you an option to place it there but many programs do it without asking you. Even for the programs that ask you if you want to run them on start up you always want to make changes to what runs and what doesn't at startup. This is the best program for looking into all the "start files" on your PC.
A word of thanks to Sysinternals who has put out more quality free utilities than anyone else I know. There are several applications that I have not highlighted here because I personally have not found a need for them. However, I'm sure that some of my readers may find a need for some of them. If you are interested in really digging into things yourself just go to the Sysinternal's website and check out all the administrative tools they have for you!
This is a simple, free, way to encrypt your data files. There may be better encryption software available but this is a good, simple, way to keep 99.9999% of the people out of your files. It also installs itself into your context menu so any time you right click on a file you have the option of encrypting it. You can access your encrypted files with a password or a 'master pass key' that you save onto a flash drive.
I really like this solution because it's easy, fast, and pretty darn secure. You can also highlight an entire folder of files and it will encrypt every file in that folder under one password. I think everyone should keep this on their system just in case you ever want to lock something away.
Sygate Personal Firewall
I had been running Sygate for over a year when I received an offer to upgrade via a system notification. Unfortunately, the automated upgrade within the program didn't work so I pulled up the Sygate web page and found out that they had been purchased by Symantec. I'm not a Symantec fan because when my computer was new it came with a trial copy of Symantec fire wall but when it came time to pay up, I decided not to license the software and when I tried to uninstall their software it locked up my system! I had a terrible time uninstalling it. Therefore, I wasn't happy when I found out that Sygate was purchased by Symantec so I decided to look at other free firewalls. I downloaded Kerio and Zone Labs and I had problems with both. I liked Zone Labs but for some reason it locked up my system and I couldn't figure it out so I had to uninstall it. I was bummed out because I really liked the interface. So I tried Kerio and that worked OK for a while but then I started having core memory dumps. I had three very scary events and after the third event I booted up my system and there was a window from Kerio apologizing for the event and saying that it was their fault and it wanted me to send them an automatically generated report. It took too long to compile the report so I had to hit cancel before it was complete and then I uninstalled it. So after all of my efforts I ended up finding my old, and free, version of Sygate again. It's available on twocows. The free version is not available from Symantec's page. The Sygate firewall works pretty well for me. I've had no problems with it. The GUI isn't as fancy as some but it works and you can get the information you need. Best of all, it's reliable. The motto of this whole experience... If it works don't fix it!!!
This is a great freeware application that provides the real-time monitoring that your system needs. It protects against browser hijacking and notifies you if a program tries to write to your registry. I don't run it all the time but it is nice to have on hand so you can engage it if things "heat up".
One of the standard freeware packages for finding spyware that has hidden itself on your PC is LavaSoft. It scans your system and fixes the problems. LavaSoft has been around for a long time and they continually update their database. Every home computer should run this freeware at least once a month.
I think Avast is the best suite of anitvirus software on the market. They update regularly because they have a good fee based business that demands them to stay current and there is not any difference between the products that are free and their fee based stuff. Basically, Avast is free for the home user but it is a pay service if you are a business user. They provide a great service and have a strong business. The Avast suite is a little resource intensive but antivirus is an important function so this is a good spot to spend cycles. Every home user that runs Avast owes them a big thank you because we are getting a lot of value free of charge. If I were a business owner or if I had influence in a business where I worked, I would definitely be using Avast because they have proven themselves to me. I recommend them to you with confidence.
I've run CC Cleaner for years and it's always provided a good service. It enables you to clean just about every temporary file that is stored on your computer. Of course, you can select which files to delete. After it's set up, you push one button, and your system is cleaned in less than a minute. It also has a good software de-installer (under the "tools" tab).
This is a security patch that tightens up some of the loop holes in your XP software. Run it and forget about it.
SpyBot Search and Destroy
Spybot is a very popular adware and virus scanner. Spybot is an essential part of any home computer system. The GUI is pretty intuitive so download it, learn what it does, and your computer will benefit. I don't spend much time protecting my PC from all the crap that is out there. If you take a few precautions (running spybot 1 time a month is one of them) you shouldn't have any trouble either.
This is a must have program for anyone running Windows XP. There are all kinds of things in Windows XP that you don't necessarily want to run. This program allows you to shut off a lot of the unnecessary services that your XP is running. This program puts a GUI around the administrative chore of shutting down the services. The GUI tells you what it is doing and provides some great information about the services so you can make the right choice on whether or not it is important for each service to run in your environment. Everyone running Windows XP should install and run this product because it tightens up your security and saves you a lot of resources.
I use Winmx which is one of the oldest peer to peer download sites on the web. A couple of years ago they upgraded their software and started a fee based service. They shut down their networks to the hundreds of thousands of people running their old free software which created a user uproar and a 'workaround' rebellion. You can still run Winmx if you work at it. Go to the link below and download the old freeware version. There is a chance that it may block you from 'finding their network'. If that happens leave a message in the comment section here and we'll see if my users and I can get you running. Normally I wouldn't recommend that you download software that may or may not work. However, in this case, it makes sense because the value is so incredibly strong.
The first thing to know about this product is that it has no affiliation with Kazza. I don't know why they chose that name because that product is so full of spyware and other garbage that it will ruin your system, so never download the P2P Kazza client. Now, back to the real reason for me writing this post... Kazza scanner is a small application that watches your shared folder for new downloads then picks it out and moves the file to wherever you keep your songs. This way, you set up a working folder for all the incoming garbage and a separate folder for your music archive. It is a better way of doing things because you can keep your music archive free of all the incomplete files that never finish downloading. It accomplishes a task that most people do by hand so it's a worthwhile program. I recommend this freeware but I do wish they would change the name.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
open source which means it is free to the end user. Open Office is supported by a loyal and strong user base. The software requires about 200mg on your hard drive. Once you install it, you will have an icon in your system tray that enables you to launch
the four applications; spreadsheet, word processor, presentations, and drawing.
This is a huge development in the global open source industry. Try it out, you will not
be disappointed. I wish I would have known about it before I forked over the dollars
for my personal copy of Microsoft Office®.
"Rediscover the Internet with FireFox!" The user community has developed themes and extensions (skins/plug-ins) allow you to do nearly everything you can think of (and then some) from a web browser.
You can download Firefox at the link below. Just do it! It is easy and fun and you'll be happy you did. When you pin down your extension configuration it is like turbo charging your browsing experience. You can work much more efficiently and it is really fun to see all the things you can do.
For more information about Mighty Joe's Firefox please visit my blog dedicated to identifying a configuration of Firefox extensions that is useful and stable for the average user. This is a great way for a new Firefox user to get the most value out of Firefox in the shortest amount of time.