Friday, January 8, 2010

Maximum PC Load Letter #35: 33 Essential Utilities, Get Free Stuff, Salvage Old Laptops

Issue 035


With the holidays in full swing, many of you have bought new notebooks or PC parts to overhaul your system. And even if you're not performing any hardware upgrades, now is as good a time as any to give your PC a clean start to start 2010 off fresh--maybe even with a Windows 7 install.

This week, we're posting a few articles to help you get settled with your new (or just-formatted) system. Our list of the 33 most essential free utilities for every new PC is the perfect place to start. Later on in the week, we'll have the 10 things you must immediately do to every new Desktop or Netbook. And finally, if you're thinking about throwing away or selling off an old laptop, here are 8 practical D-I-Y projects to breathe new life into last year's killer netbook.

As always, shoot me an email if you have any comments! Please Digg our stories, and be sure to become a fan of our Facebook group to qualify for giveaways! We've also launched a TechMart, where you can buy special issues of Maximum PC.
Norman Chan
Online Editor, Maximum PC

The 33 Essential Free Utilities for Every New PC feature1_newsletter -- The Windows ecosystem is filled with more programs than we will ever need. But while you know to install essential programs like Firefox and Steam onto every new PC, there are plenty of core utilities you should install before downloading any application software.
We pick out the 33 most useful utilities that enhance the Windows operating system. These aren't apps used for productivity (like word processing or web browsing) or entertainment (like video playback or gaming). Instead, they strengthen the backbone of Windows by optimizing hardware and system software. From single-purpose diagnostic tools to user-interface replacements, these programs provide general support to overhaul the gestalt of the Windows experience.
If you like this story, please help us by Digging it!

53 Crazy Useful Services & Apps You Can Get for Free Online -- There's an untold bounty of awesome available on the Internet, and it's all free, free, FREE! From applications and games to movie tickets and mattresses, we'll show you what's safe and steer you away from the unsavory.
As inhabitants of the Internet, we've become so inured to the hyperbolic advertising and questionable offers that we miss the incredible values that are ripe for the taking. If you know where to look, you can find all sorts of awesome stuff available for the low, low cost of $0. Whether you're looking for a great image management app, free AAA games, or the proverbial free lunch, we can tell you where to find it. But wait, there's more! We'll also show you three things that seem free, but really aren't.
Ultimate Guide to Playing and Transcoding Downloaded Videos -- Downloading video isn't rocket science, but it sure can feel that way sometimes. The underlying problem with video playback is there isn't a single universal standard. There are as many file containers as there are handheld digital devices, and don't even get us started on codecs.
Is this all starting to sound foreign to you? Don't worry if it is, on the following the pages we're going to show you the ins and outs of video playback. We'll start with the basics, like explaining what a file container is and why it matters, and then move on to more advanced topics, such as how to convert just about any video clip into a format that's compatible with your mobile device. We'll also show you how to handle subtitles, enable GPU Flash acceleration, and a whole lot more.
8 Practical Uses for Your Old Laptop -- This holiday, you pull the wraps off a brand new laptop and open the lid to your shiny new mobile companion. The first thought you might have is to consider which apps you should install first and what's the fastest way to load the up the hard disk with music and movies. Of course, you inevitably have to think about your old laptop, and what price you can sell it for on Craigslist. But before you dump an old laptop or retire it to the den of forgotten gadgets, here are eight practical ideas on how you can extend its life.
The Last CD/DVD Burning Guide You'll Ever Need -- Although USB flash drives have become the most popular way to transport project files between systems, you're probably looking for a cheaper way to distribute presentations, music, photo, or video compilations. For these jobs and others, creating a CD or DVD make more sense. However, there's plenty of confusion at home and the office when it comes to what media to choose and how to write your files.

Read on to discover our ultimate guide to CD and DVD media, burn strategies, and freeware CD and DVD burning programs.

Freeware Files: 5 Apps For Tweaking Your Laptop Battery!
Ahh, batteries. The bane of any laptop user. It always feels like you just never have enough juice to finish whatever it is you're trying to do on your portable PC. And as the minutes count down on you notebook's battery estimation, you do everything you can to squeeze working time out of your laptop.

While doing the "Battery Dance" is an unavoidable part of portable computing, you don't always have to be caught off-guard by the ol' low battery warning. Not only are there a handful of applications that give you more details about your remaining battery life than Windows' default notifications, but there are also a bunch of utilities that you can use to squeak as much time out of your laptop battery as possible. Even better, a few of these utilities even automate this process in the background--you won't have to click a single button to reap the benefits of their tweaks.
Freeware Files: Awesome Apps to Use with Your Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Android, and iPhone
A number of the gadget goodies you're playing with in your living room actually have unique little third-party tricks for interfacing directly with your desktop or laptop. Yes, that's right. You can actually use the non-computer components and devices from your living room or pocket to enhance your normal PC use. And these aren't just little remote desktop hacks that let you see your PC's screen on your phone or something. I'm talking about hacks that blur the line between your PC and your game controllers or phones, unlocking new usefulness for your desktop system with devices that are anything but.

No BS Podcast #127: Say Hello to 2010

This week, the gang talks about the FTC's lawsuit against Intel, the indefinite postponing of Larrabee as a consumer product, and Will's AT&T woes. And with CES around the corner, we talk about our expectations from the mega-event. We answer a ton of listener questions as well. Plus, Gordon rants about Christmas lights. All that and more in the final episode of 2009!

NZXT Hades Chassis Has More Fans than Vanilla Ice
It's clear NZXT made airflow a top priority with its Hades gaming case, and you'll find no less than five fan slots littered throughout, almost all of which are larger than 120mm. There's two 200mm intake fans (front and side), dual 140mm top exhaust fans, and a 120mm rear exhaust. And with the exception of a top 140mm fan, all the rest are included.
"Enthusiasts and gamers have a lot to be excited about with the advanced airflow and control options that Hades brings to the table," said Johnny Hou, chief designer at NZXT. "With an array of options for limitless upgradeability, Hades has the performance and longevity that gamers desire."
College Professor Equates "Nerd" and "Geek" to Racial Epithets
Times sure have changed in the last couple of decades. Where calling someone a "geek" or "nerd" may have been viewed as derogatory back before the turn of the century, that isn't the case anymore. Still, should we be using the terms as loosely as we do today? David Anderegg, a professor of psychology at Bennington College, doesn't think we should. According to Anderegg, these words serve to perpetuate stereotypes, are just as damaging as racial epithets, and should be avoided.
Anderegg says the workforce suffers because young people often associate nerds and geeks with fields such as math, science, and computer science. "The best way to combat this is put it to bed, banishing 'nerd' and 'geek' to the linguistic dustbin," Anderegg said.

Multitouch Gestures on Linux? You Betcha!
Linux gurus will talk all day about the security benefits of their open-source kernel over Microsoft's proprietary Windows platform, but can Linux do multitouch like Windows 7? Why yes, yes it can, though it takes a little handiwork on the part of the end user.
Most Linux distros don't yet support multitouch screens out of the box, but that doesn't matter, because France's ENAC Interactive Computing Lab has put together a video demonstrating multitouch on a PC running Fedora 12 on what looks to be be a 10-inch touchscreen display.

Intel Rumored to Sell Six-Core Gulftown Core i7 980X in March
According to news and rumor site Fudzilla, socket 1366 owners won't have to wait too terribly long before being able to step up to six cores, though at $999,  the flagship chip won't come cheap.
Fudzilla says Intel will start shipping its upcoming Core i7 980X in March, which will be Intel's first six-core part developed in 32nm Westmere architecture. It will sport the same 3.33GHz frequency as the quad-core Core i7 975, as well as the same Turbo clock. And once again, official triple-channel memory support will be limited to 1066MHz.
Other specs include 12MB of cache, 6.4GB/s QPI, 12 threads via Hyperthreading, and a 130W TDP.

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