Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CFS Weekly Newsletter #559

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Planet Defense v1.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)

Planet Defense is a space shooter inspired by the classic games, Asteroids and Missile Command. It features unlimited missiles, an optional Gravity Wave to repel asteroids, simple but effective graphics, good sound effects & music, high scores, it is easy-to-play, and more. This is a great little classic shooter where you fire missiles (left mouse button) at asteroids which are coming towards you. You start with a cache of 10 missiles and the cache will slowly refill as you fire them. If you are prepared to sacrifice 10% of your Life (there is a Life bar which indicates how much longer you will survive) you can double-click on the right mouse button and incoming asteroids will be repelled. You score extra points for creating a chain of explosions which destroy multiple asteroids. Simple to play, Planet Defense lacks some of the bells and whistles found in similar shooters but the gameplay is fun and reasonably addictive so you should get value from the game. We enjoyed playin
g Planet Defense and suggest you grab a copy and try it for yourself. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 4.43MB download from:

Free ISO Create Wizard v3.7.2.1 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)

Free ISO Create Wizard is a program that creates an ISO disk image from any files and folders (with the subfolders). It features support for bootable ISO files, Wizard-style interface, supports ISO-9660 level 1 & 2 plus ISO-9660 + Joliet UNICODE name extension, and more. An ISO disk image is a great way to store and share the contents of CDs and DVDs. It can be used to create movie DVDs though it isn't a DVD ripper so you may need to manually create the appropriate folders (VIDEO_TS, etc). It probably wouldn't work with protected commercial movie DVDs, though we didn't test that function (copying commercial DVDs could be illegal). Primarily, Free ISO Create Wizard is designed to be used to create backup disks, disks to share with others (photos, etc) or bootable operating system (recovery) disks. Even though it uses a Wizard-style interface, we didn't find Free ISO Create Wizard particularly simple to use, and there is no assistance available so, if you have a problem, don't
bother looking for a Helpfile. Probably more valuable for reasonably experienced PC users, Free ISO Create Wizard is a good way of creating a disk image of your files. Worth a look. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 5.37MB download from:

SE-MediaPlayer v1.7.2 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)

SE-MediaPlayer is a player for audio, video, flash files, CDs & DVDs. It supports of all modern multimedia file formats, embedded media library with filtering, built-in codec installer, includes 32 compact mode view skins, track loop, track shuffle, and more. Supported audio file formats are MP3, OGG, AAC, AC3, APE, ALAC, FLAC, M4A, MPC, WMA, TTA, WV, S3M, etc. Supported video file formats are MPEG-1/2/4 (DivX, XviD, etc), MOV, MP4, 3GP, AVI, WMV, ASF, DV, QuickTime, BlueRay, H.263, H.264, MP4, 3GP, etc, plus SWF & FLV Flash files. It also supports Karaoke (KAR), video & audio CD/DVD disks plus M3U, PLS, WPL, XSPF, ASX, WVX & WAX playlists. Impressive! In spite of the huge number of supported filetypes, SE-MediaPlayer is not a pretty player and, arguably, not the best laid out. Videos really need to be made fullscreen to see them at their best and the program does not minimize to the tray (which is handy when playing background music while you work). It also does not support
the M4V video format, though it is reported to support M4A audio. If you wish to play a movie DVD you need to point the program to the VIDEO_TS.IFO file in the DVD's VIDEO_TS folder, SE-MediaPlayer does not automatically start playing a DVD movie when a disk is inserted. While it supports audio CD/DVD disks, it does not support the CDA audio CD format so you cannot put a standard audio CD in the disk drive and use the player hear the disk. It does, of course, play MP3 audio disks (both CD and DVD). The other thing we disliked about SE-MediaPlayer was the procedure to play a track (audio or video) as you must first put it in the Library and then into the Playlist -- it cannot go directly into the Playlist. To remove it from the program it must be deleted from both sections, separately. As a multimedia player, SE-MediaPlayer supports a huge number of audio and visual file formats, but it falls down in the detail and we found it cumbersome to use. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 6.93MB download from:

Process Tamer v2.11.01 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)

Process Tamer is a tool that controls how much CPU any specific program/process uses and prevents programs from locking up the computer by using too much CPU. It features variable control over the CPU-usage high & low triggers, you can manually change the priority of a program, it is suitable for all PC users (beginner & advanced), and more. This is an awesome tool that every PC user should have. It tames programs that use excessive CPU resources when they exceed the high trigger point (default is 70%) and reduce it to a more manageable lower trigger point (default is 8%). Advanced users can change many configuration items, but the program works well on the default settings. We had a couple of problems with the philosophy behind Process Tamer. First, you need to register this program on-line but the registration, initially, only lasts six months. After 12 months has passed you get a permanent free license to use the program (and others from the same author). We do not like this type of registration as we feel it highly intrusive and deliberately designed to be annoying so that you are prompted to make a "donation" to the author, thus removing the restrictions. Likewise, to use the program's updater you must download a separate program, DcUpdater, from the same author. This is an additional 1.96MB download. In spite of those minor criticisms of the author's free software philosophy, Process Tamer is excellent and we recommend it without reservations. Grab a copy now! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 2.94MB download from:

FTP Rush v2.0.1 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)

FTP Rush is an FTP upload/download file manager. It supports all major FTP protocols (Normal FTP, Secure FTP, SSH FTP & TFTP), built-in Script Designer & FTP Command Designer, CHMOD, folder synchronization, drag 'n drop, Explorer-style interface, multiple connections, tabbed interface, GUI Runtime Customization & Integrated Docking, and more. If you were looking for an FTP client that offered all imaginable bells and whistles then FTP Rush would have to be very high on your list. It can copy files between a local computer and a remote server, between remote servers, or between folders or drives on the same computer. It supports both Passive and Active modes of transfer, you can change the attributes of a file (CHMOD), and much more. It should be the quintessential FTP client. It isn't. We found FTP Rush awkward to use in the real world. What should be obvious and easy to find is squirreled down in the menu system and, even though there are hotkeys for most important functions, they are not always easy to remember. In time, you will master FTP Rush but, until then, you will stumble in the darkness as you try to remember where to find tasks. If this was the only program you ever used it would be easy, but this is just one of the hundred different programs you use and remembering the hotkeys to any particular one is hard if they are not "normal" Windows shortcut keys. The other main complaint we had about FTP Rush was its apparent inability to remember your settings. We set up our CFS Website in the program using the Site Manager, and specified that it should use an Active connection and not a Passive connection. It took us a number of attempts before it would accept that command. Most strange. Even with the problems we experienced with FTP Rush, it is an excellent FTP client and one that offers many, many options. Worth checking out. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 3.87MB download from:

Falco Texture Maker v2.0 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)

Falco Texture Maker is a program that creates background textures using thumbnails of existing fullsize images. It features randomly generated & tiled textures, it supports BMP & JPG image formats, you can have up to 10 layers of images, and more. If you are looking to create textured backgrounds then Falco Texture Maker could be for you. Simply add an image to one of the 10 layers on the right-hand side of the screen and then either paint it on the screen using your mouse or use the Random button to place it randomly. The image spins so that every placement shows a different view of the image, adding to the effect. Even though it is one of the ugliest programs we have seen, never-the-less Falco Texture Maker does a credible job of turning otherwise normal images into interesting textures. If you require unique textures then check out Falco Texture Maker. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 2.44MB download from:

VSO-Inspector v2.1.0.4 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)

VSO-Inspector is a utility that displays information about the CD/DVD hardware installed on the computer. It shows media information, indicates drive speed writing, scans burnt media for read errors, has a built-in Sector Viewer, shows what drivers are installed, and more. This is a surprising excellent tool which not only gives you more information about your CD/DVD drive(s) than you'd probably ever need, but also reports on the disk media you are using. It can even give you the results of a surface and file scan to let you know if there are any errors or problems on the disk. This is valuable if you are looking at different brands of disk (at different prices -- the most expensive is not always the best). It tells you what firmware version you have, and its date, and then offers to help you find an update through a Google search. When we checked both our LG and our Samsung drives we found that the LG drive was locked to Region 2 (we are in Region 4) but the Samsung unit was
not limited to any Region. When you first install VSO-Inspector you are asked if you want to install "Patin-Couffin" but offers no information about it. This is an autoplay support driver which is an alternative to the ASPI driver from the Adaptec (included if you install Nero burning tools). We were most impressed with VSO-Inspector and intend to have it around for some time to come. If you have a CD and/or DVD drive then you need VSO-Inspector. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 2.88MB download from:

The Adventures of Blob Bob! v1.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)

The Adventures of Blob Bob! is a fun Mario-style platformer where Blob Bob eats a bad burger and gets zapped into another dimension. It features good challenges, good animated graphics, addictive gameplay, and more. This is a pleasant little game with typical platform genre challenges. You use the arrow keys to leap from platform to platform, avoiding the crazy animals, bugs, etc while collecting healthy food (bananas and apples). Not just for kids, The Adventures of Blob Bob! will keep you amused as you try and overcome the obstacles in this third dimension world. If you enjoy platform games you will enjoy The Adventures of Blob Bob! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 4.84MB download from:


Auslogics Disk Defrag -- a fast optimizer for modern hard disks that gives maximum performance by optimizing defragmented files -- has been updated to version with a new, larger download size of 4.32MB. The author advises that changes in this version include: various interface fixes; fixed all known compatibility problems; improved general speed; improved stability & reliability of all algorithms; fixed all known bugs; updated localizations; and improved installer. Get this latest version from:

Fotobounce -- a photo organizer, with built-in face recognition -- has been updated to version 3.0.6 but the download is unchanged at 14.7MB. The author advises that updates in this version include: better handling of Adobe AIR during installation process; fix to download issue of photos from Facebook; and correction to the feature for modifying photo dates. Get this update from:

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