Friday, August 6, 2010
CFS Weekly Newsletter #553
Great to be back with you for another week of fabulously fresh freeware. I'd like to extend a warm welcome to the new subscribers. I hope you enjoy this weekly newsletter.
We have an excellent selection of freebie programs for you this week. My personal favorites were Kaspersky Rescue Disk, a bootable Linux-based rescue disk, FotoMorph, a photo animator, and Mini Desktop Stopwatch, a stopwatch and countdown timer. Your favorites might be different, so check out all the reviews below.
We also have our regular columns -- Dr T's excellent Computer Tip of the Week, and our ever popular Smile of the Week. Both are reasonably large, but we deemed them worth the extra space.
To get access to the best downloads, why not take a minute and become a member of arguably the best freeware-only site in the world. More details from our members' page:
What are you waiting for -- become a CFS "lifer" now, or try out the site with a 1-month, 1-year or 2-year membership. We are still half the price of most other sites and I think we offer the best value for your hard earned dollar.
Is your CFS membership going to expire soon? If you wish to extend an existing membership (without creating a new account) read this FAQ:
Have a great week and...
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COMPLETELY FREE SOFTWARE
The Atlantis Series -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
The Atlantis Series is an underwater shooter presented in 2 parts (Project: Atlantis & The Fall of Atlantis). It features over 20 levels, many different scenarios including a tour of Atlantis, tells its story by in-game cut scenes & data, save game, and more. This is a simple little shooter that is basically two games in one. While they share a similar look 'n feel, it is obvious that they were created at separate times, with The Fall of Atlantis being the second game (and, arguably, the better of the two). Graphics are simplistic, animations basic, and your underwater craft is controlled by the arrow keys, with the S and D keys for firing. If you go outside the screen you are lost, though if you don't change direction and use the down arrow to reverse, you can find your way back onto the screen. Simplistic, it lacks the eye candy or the big bangs that make similar shooters popular. The Atlantis Series does not rate well in many areas but, in spite of that, it has an addictiv
e aspect that is hard to explain -- it draws you back to play again and again. It may not be in your top 10 favorite games of all times but it is very playable. We liked. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 5.60MB download from:
AquaSoft SlideShow for YouTube v126.96.36.199 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
AquaSoft SlideShow for YouTube is a tool that creates professional slideshows or animations for posting on YouTube. It features a built-in YouTube uploader, it can optionally add music, there is a multi-track timeline, you can add text with more than 100 effects, includes many animations (turns, zooms, fadings, panoramas, etc), it supports both 4:3 & 16:9 video formats, has various camera angles & pans, offers non-destructive image editing, it supports more than 50 image formats, it supports EXIF data, and more. This is a superb tool for creating YouTube videos of your photos, etc. It offers so many professional tools that we could not list them all in the space we have available. There is an optional Helpfile and PDF manual which you are given the option to download when the program is being installed, but these are larger than 22MB (a point not mentioned when you are given the option to download them). However, we believe that they are worth the bandwidth as AquaSoft SlideS
how for YouTube is not the simplest tool to get started using -- in fact, there is a steep learning curve to get the best from this program. Probably the most annoying aspect of the program (deliberately so) is the promise of so many other ways to export your finished project -- to CD or DVD, as a program to run on your computer, etc -- but these are not available in the free version, which is limited to posting your project on YouTube. Of course, the author expects that once you have created your masterpiece you will want to do more than simply post it to YouTube and will be prepared to spend the money on purchasing the full version. AquaSoft SlideShow for YouTube produces a superb, professional looking result, as long as you are prepared to spend the time to master the program. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 18.6MB download from:
Kaspersky Rescue Disk v10.0.21.5 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) Kaspersky Rescue Disk is a bootable Linux-based rescue disk that scans and removes threats from an infected computer. It features configurable object scanning, Internet updates the for malware database, a built-in file manager & Web browser, support for all popular file systems (FAT32, NTFS, Ext2, Ext3, Ext4 & Reiser), 80-page downloadable user guide (1.39MB), and more. The Kaspersky Rescue Disk is downloaded as an ISO image file that must be burnt to a CD or DVD. The resultant disk can then be used to boot the computer into a Linux environment where scans can be carried out to find and quarantine malicious software (malware). When you boot up your computer using the Kaspersky Rescue Disk you must update the malware database so it can find the latest risks. There is no need to understand how to work with Linux because this disk uses a Windows-style interface. Kaspersky Rescue Disk should be created before you experience any problems, and we suggest that you download, create,
and store the disk in case you might need it. After an infection you may not be able to download or create the disk -- you might not even be able to boot into Windows! We consider that Kaspersky Rescue Disk a "must have" tool for all PC users. Get a copy now before you are infected. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 193MB download from:
Cute Screen Recorder v188.8.131.52 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (4 doves) Cute Screen Recorder is an easy-to-use video screen capture that saves to MP4, FLV, SWF or WMV video formats. It features fullscreen or customized capture area, variable output quality (BitRate, FrameRate & audio sample rate), captures audio in mono or stereo, and more. This should be an excellent video screen capture tool, but it isn't. Output quality for a fullscreen capture, even when set to maximum quality using the WMV format, is poor, and Cute Screen Recorder does not use hotkeys to start and stop. This means that the program is visible in the capture when using fullscreen! Likewise, when you stop the recording you must bring the program to the front to click on the Stop button. When a smaller area of the screen is used, you can hide the program window outside the capture area. If the Cute Screen Recorder window is visible in the first and last few frames of the video, you could use a video editor to trim those parts and just leave the bulk of the recording (the part yo
u really want) but this workaround should not be necessary if the program was able to be minimized to an icon in the tray and the recording activated by hotkey. Even if that was done, more work is required to improve video quality. We were very disappointed in Cute Screen Recorder. It has so much unfulfilled potential that it was a major disappointment when the program was actually used. Not our first choice for screen capture to video. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 4.02MB download from:
Mini Desktop Stopwatch v1.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) Mini Desktop Stopwatch is a stopwatch and countdown timer. It offers accuracy to 1,000 of a second, counts to & from 100 hours, it has the ability to go fullscreen, it has pause & reset controls, is fully portable (no installation required), always stays on top (unless minimized), and more. This is an excellent way of monitoring your time, whether you wish to be notified at the end of a specific period of time (the program beeps when it counts back to zero) or if you wish to time an event (use it as a stopwatch). On the countdown you simply insert the numbers using the mouse-control keypad in the program, and click on the Start button. Mini Desktop Stopwatch autoconverts base-10 numbers (ie 97 minutes becomes 1 hr 37 min). You can make the program go fullscreen for large numbers that can be read at a considerable distance. For example, on a 22 inch widescreen monitor the numbers are over 1.5 inches (4cm) high, making them easy to read from well over 20 feet away. Mini Desktop
Stopwatch is a great tool to have on hand for those times when you need a timer. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 4.11MB download from:
FotoMorph v11.1 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
FotoMorph is a photo animator which can morph images, warp (distort) an image, or zoom/pan within an image. It can import popular image formats (BMP, JPG, PNG, TIF & GIF), export to popular video formats (FLV, AVI, SWF, animated GIF, etc), add scrolling & fading text, print the current animation frame, and more. This is an awesome photo tool which can create professional looking animations of your photos. Of course, the most popular is morphing (image metamorphosis) when you can change the photo of, say, a cat into a lion, a child into an adult, etc using a sequence of images. These can be extremely complex, or quite simple. Some of the controls are not obvious on first glance but, as you use the program, you realize that it offers a level of power you would expect from an expensive commercial program. FotoMorph looks good, is very powerful, and creates awesome image videos in a number of formats. If you choose the popular SWF format, it will even provide the HTML required to
post it to your Website! Cool. As with any high-end program of this type, FotoMorph has a reasonably steep learning curve to get the best from its many controls and features. Fortunately, there is good on-line assistance offered through the author's site. This includes a tutorial using the included sample file which incorporates all three of the main functions of this program -- morphing, warping and zoom/panning. If you are looking for a program to create image morphing then you should start looking with FotoMorph. It is an amazing program! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 2.68MB download from:
Microsoft Reader v2.1.1 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) Microsoft Reader is an eBook reader that can read eBooks out loud. It features on-screen readability using ClearType display technology, text enhancement (highlighting, bookmarks, notes & drawings), thousands of books available (free & purchase), and more. If you enjoy reading books you will find that there are many books available in the LIT format used by Microsoft Reader. These can be read on your computer screen, or through your Pocket PC device. You can even create your own LIT books using the Word add-in, Read in Microsoft Reader, which is available from Microsoft (819kB download, suitable for Word 2000, XP & 2003). Microsoft Reader displays your library of LIT books and you can select a book to read. The next time you want to read more of your book simply select "Most recent page" to go back to where you were. While reading text on-screen is not always easy, Microsoft Reader uses ClearType to improve the reading experience, specially on LCD screens. If you are visually
impaired, or just like listening to someone reading a book to you, there is a built-in audio reader. Microsoft Reader is a superb eBook tool and one worth grabbing. We liked. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 3.58MB download from:
Falco Blood v1.0 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) Falco Blood is a classic top down shooter where you are besieged by monsters. It features 12 levels of action, lots of cool weapons & reinforcement bonuses (powerups), dynamic gameplay, and more. Limited to a confined space, you must try to stay alive long enough to get to the next level. Fortunately you have 15 lives per level, and you will often need that many! Gameplay is fast and furious, and made harder because while you control the gun and the angle the gun is firing through the mouse, movement of your character is through the cumbersome W, A,S and D keys. As you would guess from its title, Falco Blood displays lots of cartoon-style blood, so caution should be used with younger players. Falco Blood is pure escapism. It is a fun way to kill a few minutes, and a lot of monsters. Worth a look if you like fast-action shooters. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 6.14MB download from:
COMPUTER TIP OF THE WEEK
from Dr T -- RTemlak4dds@aol.com
When are they going to discontinue Windows XP?
Good question! Microsoft designed the Windows XP operating system to work in desktop and laptop computers, as well as in media centers. It first made an appearance to the computer world in August 2001 and became one of the most popular versions of the Windows operating system. Due to it's extended life, people often wonder when they are going to discontinue Windows XP. Ever since Windows 7 came into existence, more and more consumers have started to make the switch to this new system.
Computer operating systems are constantly being updated, which means there will always be something newer and better right around the corner. The most difficult part is getting used to the new system without dealing with a few frustrations now and then.
The 'XP' in Windows XP is short for 'experience' and this type of system has multiple editions, two of which are the home and professional editions. The home version is, of course, for basic household use. The professional edition has extra features that may be too advanced to be considered necessary for use on a home computer. These additional features include; remote desktop server, an encrypting file system, 2 CPUs, and offline folders and files, just to name a few.
Even though this system has been the most popular version for nearly a decade, Microsoft has decided to do away with it. The homepage for Windows XP even has a link that connects consumers to a page listing the top ten reasons to switch over their computers to Windows 7 including:
1.Quicker Access to Content
2.Easier to Manage
3.Faster to Locate Files, Emails, or Other Programs
4.Can Share Information Among Other Computers
6.Create Movies that Can Be Shared
7.Connects Quickly to Wireless
8.Faster Response Time
9.Runs Most XP Programs
10.Offers Better Protection for PCs
This does happen to be a fairly impressive list of reasons to make the switch. The chart that allows consumers to compare the XP, Vista, and 7 versions of Windows is actually a better view of why there's no reason to continue selling and servicing Windows XP. The latest Microsoft operating system for PCs that is offered does everything that the previous editions are capable of, but includes nearly twice as much capability.
Windows XP users don't have access to Windows Search, which enables programs and files to be located instantly and it takes more than a couple of clicks to open these features once they are found. Navigation through open windows is much slower and sharing music, photos, and other files with additional household PCs isn't possible. It's also difficult to manage external devices and organize easily with the XP edition. In addition, connecting to wireless networks takes some work, and the XP edition doesn't have parental controls - which most parents find necessary today with the plethora of information available on the Internet.
Movies and games are a big part of many people's lives. Windows XP doesn't have the capability to provide game graphics that are as vivid and realistic as the newest version is able to offer. Creating and sharing movies within minutes after they are made is also impossible with Windows XP.
Music collectors aren't able to stream their music around the house with the XP operating system and, since traveling is also becoming more integrated with most jobs, portability is the new priority. Since many computer users store most of their data on their home desktop, taking this on trips is near to impossible. Being able to remotely tap into this information source from locations away from home is possible with the newest operating system, but not with Windows XP.
Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP with SP2 (Service Pack 2) due to take place on July 13, 2010.
Once support is discontinued for this edition, there won't be any additional security updates coming through making your system more vulnerable to malicious viruses that can easily destroy a PC unless you have a free combination of Avira (http://www.avira.com/en/pages/index.php), Malwarebytes (http://www.malwarebytes.org/), and SUPERAntiSpyware (http://www.superantispyware.com/).
There is a service pack for Windows XP that will buy users a bit more time with this operating system. Service Pack 3 is available for consumers who just aren't ready to make the switch over to Windows 7, but support for that will end April 8th, 2014.
Daves Computer Tips
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