Sunday, June 6, 2010
CFS Weekly Newsletter #545
COMPLETELY FREE SOFTWARE
Theseus and the Maze -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Theseus and the Maze is a run 'n jump platform game where you must find the puzzle's exit. It features powerups (including keys) to assist in progressing, you can collect diamonds for extra points, it has an extensive map, you can go to a "sweet spot" to save the game, and more. This is a very challenging exploration game designed for speedruns. There is minimal assistance except through powerups, though when you meet "people" in the game for the first time you often get advise or comments. There are 100 diamonds to collect to aid your high score and, by pressing the X key, you pull up a map of your "known world" (ie the world you unveiled so far). Jumping is done with the Z key, and the left and right arrow keys are for movement. This is quite a difficult game, and one that will not be easily beaten, but the rewards are there for anyone who will persevere and win. Theseus and the Maze is played in a huge, sprawling world with lots of obvious (and sometimes not as obvious) ob
stacles. You can go to a "sweet spot", press the down arrow, and save the game at that point. While it has a strong emphasis on solving puzzles, you still need to master precise jumping to progress through the game and win. Overall, Theseus and the Maze is one of the best platformers around. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 4.15MB download from:
Kwik Browsa v1.1 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Kwik Browsa is a small, fast Internet Explorer-based Web browser. It features no pop-ups ads, it is easy to use, requires less memory than other browsers, has no menus (only icons & standard shortcut keys are used), and more. This is a simplistic Web browser for anyone who wants the minimum of bells and whistles. There are no menus, just 15 large icons and the normal keyboard shortcuts. It includes two advertising-style links which cannot be removed (there are no options to add or remove toolbars) and the search engine is Google, with no other options offered. As a cutback browser, Kwik Browsa does lack some features we've come to expect, like tabbed windows, but this is the price of being small. If you are prepared to accept the severe cutbacks to make a small Web browser, then check out Kwik Browsa. It could be exactly what you are looking for. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 4.43MB download from:
XBMC Media Center v9.11 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
XBMC Media Center is a hub for all types of digital media. It features media management (supports viewing & playing a vast library of audio, video & image formats), user friendly customizable interface, built-in Python interpreter for plug-ins, supports many visualizations (includes ProjectM & Goom), and more. This is a media player and entertainment hub for your digital media. The author says that XBMC Media Center: "can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. Use your media as-is: XBMC can play CDs and DVDs directly from the disk or image file, almost all popular archive formats from your hard drive, and even files inside ZIP and RAR archives. It will even scan all of your media and automatically create a personalized library complete with box covers, descriptions, and fanart. T
here are playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations. Once installed, your computer will become a fully functional multimedia jukebox." This is one of the best multimedia players we have seen. Video clips look sensational, with clean, crisp colors, and the whole program has that "wow!" factor that makes you want to use it again and again. It is the combination of sensational looks, a highly customizable interface, and a superb multimedia engine that makes XBMC Media Center one of the very best in its field. It is not small, it does not load quickly, and it is not a background player -- it is in your face from when it starts to when you (finally) close it. If you like programs like Windows Media Player then XBMC Media Center is a "must have". We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 46.2MB download from:
Crypto4 Files v2.4.51 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Crypto4 Files is a tool to encrypt & decrypt files & folders. It features Windows Explorer integration, uses powerful algorithms to sign & encrypt files, creates signed & encrypted ZIP archives, can e-mail files/archives, securely delete files, and more. This is a great little tool that fully integrates into the Windows Explorer right-click context menu. It can be used for a number of file and folder tasks, including the creation of ZIP archives that can optionally be signed and/or encrypted. You can use Crypto4 Files to e-mail a file or folder that can also be optionally signed and/or encrypted. It offers a choice of seven encryption algorithms (RC4, DES, 3DES, RC2, etc), and five hashing algorithms. The RC2 and RC4 encryption algorithms give you a choice of six key length bits (from 56 to 256). You can tell Crypto4 Files to securely erase a file or folder by wiping it up to 100 times (default is three). While this is one of the best all round encryption tools we have seen,
it can also be used to create un-encrypted ZIP archives, and e-mail un-encrypted files, folders or archives. The choices are excellent! Whether you want a secure encryption tool, or just one to archive/e-mail files and folders, Crypto4 Files is for you. In one word, impressive. Grab a copy now! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 2.10MB download from:
Adebis Photo Sorter v1.0.41 -- Win9x/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Adebis Photo Sorter is a powerful photo organizer with flexible sorting options. It features photo sorting by time/date into separate folders, it reads EXIF information, supports all popular camera formats (JPG, TIF, RAW, DNG, NEF, NRW, CR2, ARW, PEF, ORF, RW2, etc), renames files, forms groups of photos, filters by date or filetype, offers editable sub-folder & file naming templates, and more. Many people have photos scattered across their computer, or all jumbled into a single folder. Adebis Photo Sorter allows you to easily sort them according to specific criteria that you determine. It can sort thousands of photos faster than you can make a cup of coffee, renaming them if and how you decide. Originals are left in place and exact copies are created. We would have liked to have seen an option to move photos to the new file structure rather than just copy them because they can be scattered over a huge hard drive and very hard to find. However, there is no doubt that copying
them is safer. Adebis Photo Sorter does a terrific job in finding and sorting photos and, by using the filemasks, you can specify which photos are to be copied into the new structure. If you are like 98% of other digital camera users and have not created a true hierarchial file structure for your photos then Adebis Photo Sorter is for you. We liked. Access this 638kB download from:
MemoMaster v3.5.10 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
MemoMaster is an outliner to administer text & calculations. It features tree-like structure, built-in word processor, data can be listed as text or in tables, e-mail & address hyperlinks, works in folders & memos (subfolders), and more. This would be a great outliner so you could present your ideas and concepts in a tree-like structure but it is so crippled (after a 30-day trial of all the features) that it has limited usability. It still presents your data in the popular structure (similar to Windows Explorer) but most of the better functions are grayed out once the 30-day trial finishes. As a tool for presenting data, even the crippled MemoMaster has a lot going for it, but it all high-end features are unavailable. As long as you don't mind the huge download for this reduced functionality, MemoMaster is worth grabbing. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 20.4MB download from:
VueMinder Calendar Lite v7.0.2 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
VueMinder Calendar Lite is a calendar & reminder program that displays multiple calendars simultaneously in layers. It features many reminder options (popup reminders & desktop alerts), full printing functions, built-in holidays & events from around the world, supports iCalendar Subscriptions & Google Calendar sync, integrates a calendar into the Windows desktop, has a wide variety of print layouts & styles, desktop alerts can be pinned anywhere on the screen, and more. This is an excellent calendar program that includes a multitude of additional features and tools. The calendars are highly customizable and the author has included add-ins to cover most special events, public holidays, etc from around the world (requires an Internet connection to access). Events can be categorized, colors added for specific types of events, and lots more. The more you look at VueMinder Calendar Lite the more customization and functions you find! As a calendar tool it is only surpassed by the P
ro version! VueMinder Calendar Lite is easy to use, though it does take some time to work your way through the many, many menus and features to get it looking exactly as you want. As a bonus, there is even a wallpaper-style calendar which sits on the desktop. If you are looking to add a calendar to your computer then VueMinder Calendar Lite should be very, very high on your list. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 8.87MB download from:
Vitamini Game v1.0.3 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Vitamini Game is a musical physics-based puzzle, somewhat similar to Tetris. It features 3 separate games (Chains, Cubes & Shapes), synchronization between sounds & music to ease stress, excellent animated graphics, interactive tutorials for each game, and more. These are three strange games, with only one of them (Shapes) offering anything close to a challenge. The other two games are more visual experiences but Shapes does take some small mastering to achieve a reasonable high score. In Chains and Cubes the high scores are more accidental. With Shapes you must join together strings of the same colored shape by swapping blocks from one group to another. In the other two games you simply stir up the falling blocks so that they bump into each other and create the links that make them disappear. Vitamini Game appears to be a stress reliever rather than a serious attempt at gaming and, in that, it is reasonably successful. If you are looking for challenging gameplay then it migh
t be one to miss, but if you play games to help relieve stress then it should be looked at. Visually pleasant, Vitamini Game is an easy way to kill a little time. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 27.4MB download from:
Clean My Registry -- a one-click solution that cleans the Windows Registry of fragmented, obsolete and invalid data -- has been updated to version 5.2 with a download size of 1.95MB. The author has advised that this version has "Registry cleaner improvement(s)". Check out the latest version from:
PNotes -- a light-weight, flexible, skinnable manager of virtual "sticky" notes -- has been updated to version 6.0.112 with a download size of 834kB. The author has advised that changes in this version include: different sounds for each note; different transparency levels; notes duplication; groups hot-keys; new command line parameters; and bug fixes. Access this version from:
COMPUTER TIP OF THE WEEK
from Dr T -- RTemlak4dds@aol.com
=: Text Too Small? :=
Q. My husband and I just bought a new PC with Windows XP. We bought a 21-inch flat-panel monitor to go with it. The problem is the way XP causes everything to appear so tiny on the big monitor. My husband is so disappointed. I promised him he would really like XP (we were limping along on Windows ME), but now he says our beautiful new system (which I love) is useless for him. I'm sure this problem must have an impact on other older people. Is there anything I can do?
A. You can really strain your eyes working with small graphics and text onscreen. When I'm writing, I sometimes use Word's Zoom feature to enlarge the text. You can find it in Word by clicking View/Zoom.
I suspect that your "tiny" problem is due to screen resolution. Newer monitors are capable of excellent (high) resolutions. That allows you to show more on the screen, which can be useful for Web pages and games. However, high screen resolutions also tend to make things appear smaller, especially text. So your problem probably is with the monitor, not Windows XP.
Flat-panels have a native resolution, with which they look best. However, you can lower the resolution manually, so that things appear larger. The display will not be as good as the native resolution. But it should be acceptable.
Check first that Windows XP is using the monitor's native resolution. Find that number in the monitor's manual. Then, right-click an empty area on the desktop. Click Properties. Select the Settings tab. If necessary, use the slider to change to the native resolution. Be careful; many resolutions are probably available.
Also, change to ClearType to improve the view. Type often appears blurry on flat-panel monitors. Using ClearType should improve things.
To set ClearType, select the Appearance tab. Click the Effects button. If necessary, check the box next to "Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts." In the drop down box, select ClearType. Click OK. Then click Apply/OK to exit the Display Properties window.
Next, go to the ClearType site at http://www.microsoft.com/typography/cleartype/tuner/Step1.aspx. Follow the steps there to improve the type display.
If your husband is still dissatisfied, try lowering the resolution. Again, right-click on the desktop and click Properties.
Select the Settings tab. Under "Screen resolution", change the resolution with the slider. Lower numbers will make things larger on the screen. Some resolutions will distort the display; others should look OK. You should be able to get as low as 800x600.
If you still need a boost in text size, try your individual programs' settings. Many programs have their own features. For instance, press Ctrl and turn the scroll wheel on the mouse to change type size in Microsoft Word. Text size options are available in Internet Explorer under View/Text Size.
You can also use Windows Accessibility settings. Click Start/All Programs/Accessories/Accessibility/Accessibility Wizard. The first option the wizard will present is text size. It will also offer extra audio and keyboard settings, which you can ignore. The accessibility settings can help with text in some programs. But the main focus of the settings is on the text of Windows menus and alerts.
SMILE OF THE WEEK
(contributions for this section are most welcome)
=: Bless This Food :=
A woman invited some people from church to dinner.
At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said: "Would you like to say the blessing?"
"I wouldn't know what to say," the little girl replied.
"Just say what you've heard Mommy say before," the woman answered.
The daughter bowed her head and said: "Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"
[author unknown - source http://www.MikeysFunnies.com]
Daves Computer Tips
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