Saturday, September 25, 2010
CFS Weekly Newsletter #562
Web Site: http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com
E-mail 1: editor@completelyFREEsoftware.com
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We have a great lineup of excellent freeware fare for you this week. Of the programs reviewed below, my favorites are Cobian Backup, a file and folder backup utility, Free Media Codecs Pro, an excellent collection of audio and video codecs, and Type it Easy, a tray-based program that allows the user to access many typographical characters usually unavailable on the keyboard. Check them all out because you may find that others fire your afterburners more than these.
We also have our regular columns -- Dr T's excellent Computer Tip of the Week, and our ever popular Smile of the Week.
COMPLETELY FREE SOFTWARE
Mano Trooper -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Mano Trooper is a remake of Greg Kuperberg's "Paratrooper" (1982) where you use a turret gun to shoot down enemy helicopters, paratroopers, jets and bombs while trying to prevent your gun from being over-run or bombed. This shooter combines good (if basic) graphics with proven gameplay to produce an excellent little game that is harder to win than it looks. Mano Trooper is a simple-concept game which, while lacking the sophistication of modern shooters, still provides excellent entertainment and an addictive element that is hard to quantify. This is not a "blast away at every that moves" game because every time you fire your gun it costs you a point, though you get three points for shooting down helicopters and paratroopers, and five points for jets and bombs. We really enjoyed the simplicity of Mano Trooper and consider it a "must have" for lovers of the Paratrooper genre. Grab a copy now! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access th
is 3.61MB download from:
Free Media Codecs Pro v10.04 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Free Media Codecs Pro is a collection of audio and video codecs. It includes DirectShow filters & VFW/ACM codecs, it also includes Media Player Classic plus various tools, it has a fully customizable installation (install only what you need), it is suitable for novice & expert users, and more. This is an excellent collection of free audio and video codecs -- codecs which should have been provided with Windows but weren't! These codecs allow Windows Media Player and third party multimedia players (like the included Media Player Classic) to be able to play a huge variety of audio and video formats, formats they would otherwise not be able to play. There is also an excellent collection of tools included in the pack -- K-Lite Codec Tweak Tool, MediaInfo Lite, VobSubStrip, Xvid StatsReader, GraphStudio and GSpot Codec Information. There are packs for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, and there are two types of packs for each -- Basic and Pro. The three Pro packs (XP, Vista & Win7) are the same size (18.9MB) and the three Basic packs are also the same size (14.5MB). For the sake of an extra 4.5MB, we opted for the Pro packs rather than the Basic packs. Even if you may have previously downloaded some codecs (and some are included in other multimedia programs you may have installed), we suggest that you grab a copy of Free Media Codecs Pro for your version of Windows as it will enhance existing codecs, not remove them. It will also ensure that you have the latest version on your computer. We were most impressed with Free Media Codecs Pro and consider it a "must have" for all XP, Vista and Win7 users. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 18.9MB download from:
Cobian Backup v10.1.1.809 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Cobian Backup is a file and folder backup utility that can run as a Windows' service or as a stand-alone application. It features scheduled backups (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc), there are 4 types of backup (full, incremental, differential & dummy), it offers ZIP & 7Z compression, supports the Windows' Volume Shadow Copy service, supports strong encryption, includes a built-in FTP client, e-mails backup logs, optionally splits backup archives (10 preset sizes plus custom), optionally creates time-stamped backups, includes a tutorial, has a good Helpfile, and more. This is one of the best backup programs we have seen. Not only does Cobian Backup support both ZIP and 7Z file compression, it supports Windows' Volume Shadow Copy which takes snapshots of files, similar to a file versioning system. The program's interface is extremely easy to use, and backup tasks are easy to create, but experienced users can use the Options dialog box to tweak a huge number of settings. Th
e built-in tutorial and the Helpfile are bonuses. Even though Cobian Backup has a huge number of features and settings, even inexperienced users should have no trouble setting up basic file and folder backups where files are copied to another location (usually a USB drive). These files and folders can be copied without being archived (ie, files and folders are simply copied to the destination drive) or they can be compressed to an archive to save space and make them easier to handle. If you choose to use the time-stamped backup option (it includes the time and date in the filename) you can specify how many previous backups you want saved (two is common). The only feature we think could improve Cobian Backup would be the ability to create an SFX (self extracting) archive. Better than many commercial backup programs, Cobian Backup is a program that all PC users will find invaluable. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 14.7MB download from:
komixo maker v0.11 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
komixo maker is a cartoon creation tool. It features flexible comic strip layout, infinite undo/redo, object transformations (rotate, scale, skew), object grouping, customizable speech bubbles, object masking, image basket, drag 'n drop, exports to PNG & JPG, and more. Formerly known as cartoonair, komixo maker runs on the back of Adobe Air (an additional 11.9MB download) to assist in creating cartoons. You can take existing images, or clips from your Webcam, and add voice bubbles, frames, and other objects to create your cartoon strip. komixo maker is not a drawing tool, you must already have your images created before you start, but it will bring them together as a cartoon strip and allow you to save the strip in PNG or JPG formats. Exceptionally powerful, komixo maker suffers from a lack of Helpfile -- there is none included with the download package and none available from the author's Website. There are some video training tutorials linked from the author's site but thes
e all appear to be from the cartoonair program, which is different to this one. If you are prepared to devote some time to experimenting with this program to discover many of its hidden features and tools, you will be richly rewarded because it is an excellent, and very powerful, cartoon creation program that can enhance your digital photos just as easily as it can turn your drawings into a cartoon strip. We liked! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 1.78MB download from:
Domain Name Generator Desktop Client v1.0.3 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Domain Name Generator Desktop Client is a programs that generates domain names based on keywords or random syllables & phonemes. It features a dictionary-based domain name generator, the generated domain names are instantly checked for their availability, an algorithm is used to determine the readability of the names, and more. This is an interesting program for people who are looking to create domain names based on keywords or other criteria. It includes registration with over 30 hosting services which, we assume, pay a commission to the author of Domain Name Generator Desktop Client for any domain names registered. The program itself is quite effective, though results are sometimes varied. Fortunately, it includes a readability index so you can quickly see what domain name suggestions are easy to read and what aren't. If you are looking to register a domain name (or names) but aren't sure of what is available and what alternatives you can use, then Domain Name Generator Des
ktop Client could be the answer to your prayers. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 2.54MB download from:
Type it Easy v1.5 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Type it Easy is a tray-based program that allows the user to access many typographical characters usually unavailable on the keyboard. There are over 55 characters which can be accessed, including em & en dashes, typographic quotation marks, copyright & trademark symbols, Euro & other currency signs, miscellaneous math characters, and diacritical marks. This is a handy little program that normally runs with Windows. Press the hotkey (the default is the right side Alt key, often designated as AltGr) and then the activation key, and the character will be entered into your text at the cursor. It can be used with any text based program (Word, Wordpad, Notepad, Outlook, etc). By pressing the default hotkey and the F1 key it displays a keyboard help screen so you can see what keys you need to access the character you want. The help screen (keyboard hint) stays "on top" so you can leave it in the corner of your screen while you work. Some of the characters require the Shift key to b
e used as well, and that can be awkward, specially for older users. This is because you are having to simultaneously press three keys that may be spread out over the keyboard. The ability to press the hotkey and then the activation keys sequentially would be of assistance. It could be on, say, a two second activation delay so you would have up to two seconds between pressing the hotkey and then pressing the activation key(s). It would have been helpful if there was an option in the Options dialog box to start with Windows. We were given this option when we installed the program but, until we were sure of it, we unchecked the box so it didn't automatically load. Having used Type it Easy for a while we decided that it was worthwhile having it load with Windows but, by then, it was too late. We did have one small problem with Type it Easy, it closed itself a couple of times while we were reviewing the program. We aren't quite sure why, and it was easy to re-open, but it was a little annoying. Overall, Type it Easy is a terrific little program that most PC users will find invaluable. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 644kB download from:
Windows Product Key Finder Professional v2.2.6 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Windows Product Key Finder Professional is a small utility that displays the CD key information for (Windows) 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 7 and (Office) XP, 2003, 2007. It saves CD key information to a text file, prints key information so you can have a hard copy, requires no installation, is fully portable, and more. This is a neat little program that could be stored on a USB pen drive. It displays the product CD key for Windows XP and later and for Office XP or later. That information can be stored on the computer in a text file or as a hard copy from the printer. Simple to use, Windows Product Key Finder Professional is a "must have" if you have lost your original installation disks and need to re-install either of these products from a friend's set of disks (they must be the identical version, etc). Worth having on hand. We liked! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 388kB download from:
The Great Mahjong -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
The Great Mahjong is a 3D version of the Chinese solitaire tilegame. It features 150 levels, 3 tilesets, 4 game modes (Quest for Wisdom, Continue Quest, Classic & Time Attack), level editor, timed gameplay, hint feature (can only be used a limited number of times), it will show the solution (autoplay), supports widescreen monitors, and more. The Great Mahjong is an attractive game, with lots of bling, though lacking somewhat in the 3D department. It offers 150 levels of play, plus you can create your own levels once you've become bored with those! Of the tile faces available, there is the traditional tileset for puritans, and a Simple tileset for the rest of us who just enjoy playing the game and don't feel we have to learn Chinese to play. Tile layout is not the traditional pyramid style, but varies from level to level. You can play timed games, or a more classic game. If you are new to Mahjong then The Great Mahjong is a good way of learning the game, specially if you start
with the Simple tileset. More experienced players will still enjoy this game, with the built-in level editor allowing you to become really creative. There are even four examples you can start with. Overall, The Great Mahjong is a good, if not entirely traditional, rendition of this ancient tilegame. We liked! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 6.66MB download from:
Kingsoft Free Antivirus -- a cloud-based antivirus & spyware remover -- has been updated to version 2010.08.31.263 with a download size of 16.8MB. The publisher has not advised of the changes in this version. Grab this updated version from:
AllMyNotes Organizer -- an hierarchical information manager -- has been updated to version 2.21 with a new download size of 3.93MB. The author advises that changes in this version include: allows the user to hide all Deluxe-related interface elements (toolbar buttons, menu items, etc); allows the user to manually adjust the scale ratio for printing in 30%-300% range; and bug fixes. Get this excellent PIM from:
HDClone (Free Edition) -- a tool for moving contents of entire hard disk drives onto bigger ones -- has been updated to version 3.9.4 with a new, slightly larger download size of 11.0MB. The author advises that changes in this version include: enhancing the recognition of USB devices connected to USB hubs; and fixing a problem with the program which stops when Windows drivers return invalid data. Access this latest version from:
COMPUTER TIP OF THE WEEK
from Dr T -- RTemlak4dds@aol.com
My question is: I have two computers, the older one I want to take most of the info on it and transfer to the newer one I was told to get an external hard drive, transfer all my "stuff" to the hard drive then attach it to my computer, then I access all my files. Any help you can give this "computer dummy" would be greatly appreciated. My old computer is an XP, the newer one is an XPS. Any recommendations on what external hard drive to buy?
An external hard drive is an excellent way to move your files from an old computer to a new computer.
I have found that most brands of external hard drives work pretty much the same, but I can give you some guidelines on what to look for based on the computers that you want to use it on.
First, your external drive will run on USB. Make sure your old computer has USB ports that you can use the hard drive with. Many XP computers came with the older USB1 standard instead of the new USB2 that modern computers have. If this is the case with your old computer, make sure the hard drive says that it supports both USB1 and USB2.
Some external hard drives get their power only from the USB ports on the computer, while others come with their own power adapter. I prefer the power adapter, but many USB powered drives work fine.
Be sure that if your drive is getting power only from the USB connection that you have plugged it directly into the back of your computer. Many USB connections don't provide full power if they are on the keyboard, monitor, or other device.
The size of your external hard drive is important as well. To get the best use of your new device, I would suggest that you get a drive that is as big, or bigger than the hard drive on your new computer. This way, you can use it to back up the new computer without needing to replace the drive as you add new files.
To find out the size of your hard drive, click on "Start" and then click on "Computer" (or "My Computer in XP). Right click on the C drive and click on properties. This will show you a nice pie chart with the total amount of space on your drive as well as how much is full, and how much is free space.
Once you have purchased your drive, you can copy your files. Here is my favorite way to copy files:
1. Connect your external hard drive, and open a window for the drive.
2. Move the window to one side of your screen so that it takes up about 1/2 of your desktop.
3. Now, open a second window for your files, and move it so that it is on the other side of your screen.
4. Drag the folders from one window to the other to copy.
Since you are using XP, most of your files will be located on the C: drive in the "Documents and Settings" folder.
[Source: Jack's Computer Tips]
You can also install another hard drive internally, to do the same thing. Remember that after the transfer has been made, you can have the drive(s) from the old computer, installed in the new one, and use them for backing up the files of the new computer. They can be individually put in a USB Hard Drive Enclosure and used externally for the same purpose. Most of the newer computers can use either IDE (Integrated Development Environment) or SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Advancement) hard drives... Dr. T
We would like to thank the regular visitors to the CFS site who have told us their favorite freeware. If you have a favorite program which isn't listed on the CFS pages we invite you to share that information with everyone through this site and this newsletter.
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Daves Computer Tips
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