Sunday, June 27, 2010

CFS Weekly Newsletter #551

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CFS Weekly Newsletter #551
[ISSN 1441-6840]
Web Site: http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com
E-mail 1: editor@completelyFREEsoftware.com
E-mail 2: cfs@people.net.au
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Welcome to the 'Completely FREE Software' Weekly Newsletter.
This is an "opt in" only newsletter. If you didn't subscribe, or wish to unsubscribe, please use the personalized address at the end of this newsletter.

HOWDY
Great to be back with you for another week of fabulously fresh freeware.
We have an excellent line-up of quality free programs reviewed for you below. I really liked IObit Security 360, a malware & spyware removal utility, VersionUpdate, an online software version checker, and Cosmetic Guide Lite, a virtual cosmetic bag for touching up and correcting digital photos. However, you may find that others blow your hair back 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.
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:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/join.html
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:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/faqs5.html#15
See you all next week...
Keep smilin'
Regards
Graham Pockett
Editor
Completely FREE Software

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COMPLETELY FREE SOFTWARE
Traum v3.2 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Traum is a vertically scrolling helicopter shooter where you collect falling "powerups" for points. It features fast-action shooting, two firing modes, simple gameplay, no installation required (just unzip and play), and more. This is not a sophisticated game but a simple shoot-em-up (SHMUP) where you blast away at incoming ships of various types. When some ships are destroyed a "powerup" in with the letter "E" falls, and you get points for collecting them (one point for the small ones, 10 points for the large). If you enjoy Japanese-style shooters, then Traum is for you. Give it a try. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Get this 22.1MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/gg8_w95.html#traum32

VersionUpdate v1.02 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
VersionUpdate is an online software version checker to ensure that you have up-to-date versions of your installed software. It directly connects to a software publisher's Website to check for newer versions, it checks what versions other users are using (you may find a version newer than yours), and more. This is a fabulous way of ensuring that your software is always up-to-date. However, it has a couple of built-in problems. First, it checks up to 200 programs so, if like us, you have more, then the additional ones are not checked (you cannot specify which ones to check and which ones to ignore). Secondly, it is not always up-to-date with the latest version from the software publishers. In a few cases, we had later versions than the ones reported. With programs like VersionUpdate you must be careful not to update a program if it will cost you money (unless you are happy to pay). For example, some of the CFS-listed program are free only for the their early, superseded version
s, but later versions are not free. If you update those programs, you could find out that you were now on a trial period (often 15 or 30 days) and have to pay to continue to use the program after the trial period has expired. That aside, VersionUpdate is still a fabulous little program, and one that most PC users will find of value. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 642kB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/du1_w95.html#verupdate32

IObit Security 360 v1.45 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
IObit Security 360 is a malware & spyware removal utility that detects & removes the deepest infections. It features real-time protection, works with existing anti-virus programs, offers a 1-click solution, it is easy to use, uses DOG (Digital Original Gene) which is a novel heuristic malware detection method, uses a "Dual-Core" anti-malware engine, and more. This is a fantastic tool which works with existing anti-virus programs to ensure the best possible detection and removal of malicious software (malware). Because no program can possibly detect all possible threats, it is valuable to run programs like IObit Security 360 in conjunction with more mainstream anti-virus programs -- they compliment each other rather than cause conflict. IObit Security 360 detected 83 "threats" on our test computer, though most were simply cookies you pick up from sites with advertising (like Google ads) to track if you make a purchase or visit the advertiser's site. They are not malicious and
cause no particular harm. However, three of the threats were more real and we were pleased to see them detected and removed. We were very impressed with IObit Security 360. While we are not as frightened of cookies as some (and you can always turn them off in your Web browser) we appreciated being given the opportunity to delete them. The free version of IObit Security 360 does not include automatic updates (you must manually get them), and it lacks automatic scanning, however it does provide real-time protection. We really liked IObit Security 360. It is functional, effective, and very fast. A "must have" for PC users. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 8.77MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/gp1_w95.html#is360_32

SE-Explorer v1.31.1 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (4 doves)
SE-Explorer is a portable file manager. It features tabbed interface, dual-panel file browser, built-in tools (compare files & folders, media player, Web browser, viewers for pictures, archives, resources, documents, PDF, DjVu, fonts, hex), and more. This is a simple dual panel file manager, with a tabbed interface and many built-in viewers. It offers some relatively unlikely features, like an Internet Explorer based Web browser, but the interface is awkward in places, and we had some compatibility issues between it and our test computer -- we kept on getting an "Unhandled exception". The portable version was able to continue after closing this message, but the install version locked up completely and we had to use the Windows Task Manager to close it. Not good. Maybe it was simply a problem with our configuration, or with a program we were running at the time, but we are a little cautious in recommending it without reservation. It was interesting that while SE-Explorer was r
unning our regular Alt-PrintScreen function to capture screenshots was changed so it captured the full screen instead of just the active window. Based off our experience we do not recommend the install version, just the portable version, but others may experience a different result if the problem was simply a conflict with an existing program opened on our desktop. Even with these problems, we really did like the portable version of SE-Explorer. It is a nice little file manager with lots of interesting functions. Best to try it for yourself and see if it is what you are looking for in a file manager. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 2.24MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/we4_w95.html#SE-Explorer32

Audio Extractor For Free v2.6.1 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Audio Extractor For Free is a tool that extracts audio from video files without loss of sound quality. It supports most popular audio formats (MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, WAV, RA, MP2, OGG, M4A, AC3 & AU), supports most popular video formats (AVI, DivX, XviD, MPEG, MPG, WMV, ASF, MOV, QT, FLV, SWF, MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, RM, RMVB, MKV, VOB, FLV, OGM, AMV, etc), carries out batch conversions, and more. If you wish to extract audio from video files (a person singing, etc) then Audio Extractor For Free is what you need. It can also convert between the supported audio formats. According to the author's Website, it supports a huge number video formats, though it does not seem to support as many audio formats as claimed. Likewise, the Helpfile supplied with the program indicates that can convert between video formats (video to video). We could see no evidence of it being able to carry out this function. That aside, Audio Extractor For Free does an excellent job of ripping audio from video fi
les, and for converting between audio formats. In most cases you can control the audio quality, though you cannot improve the quality from that of the original. If you are looking for a program to rip audio from videos, then grab a copy of Audio Extractor For Free. Like us, we think you will be impressed. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 4.95MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/mp3_w95.html#AudioExtractorforFree32

Cosmetic Guide Lite v1.2.1 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Cosmetic Guide Lite is a virtual cosmetic bag for touching up and correcting digital photos. It offers two main tools: Smart Patch (can be used to remove skin moles & other skin imperfections) and Bleach Teeth (whitens teeth, can also be used for the whites of the eyes). It also offers a slurry of minor tools, like image rotation and flip, contrast control, image lighten and darken, smudge brush, undo brush, resize and crop. Images can be saved as JPG, PNG, TIF or BMP files, or printed. This is a limited correction tool designed as a teaser for the full version which offers a further three main functions (five in total). The free, Lite version, just offers two of those functions. Included with the program is an excellent animated guide to correcting photos using these tools. While the Lite version has limited functionality compared to the full version, it is still a great little tool. Simple to use, Cosmetic Guide Lite can help improve your digital photos. We loved! Note: we
have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 2.96MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/grp3_w95.html#CosmeticGuide32

MP3 Rocket Download v2.0.7.6 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
MP3 Rocket Download allows the user to listen on-line and/or download MP3 songs for free. It features a Hot Songs category, you can search over 100 million on-line MP3 tracks, preview as many songs as you want before downloading the ones you want, it is simple to use, and more. If you enjoy downloading music from the Internet then MP3 Rocket Download is worth checking out. The free version has some limitations -- like you can only download one track at a time, and there is no Advanced Search function -- but generally it provides an excellent service for music lovers. The author claims that you can download the MP3 legally free but, while the program might be legal, the sites providing the downloads may infringe some copyrights on commercial music. In this program, the site that supplies the music is hidden from the user so you cannot select specific download sites or check to see the legality of the downloaded music. We urge caution when downloading any commercial track. Tha
t said, MP3 Rocket Download is an easy way to access some of the best music tracks freely available on the Internet. The preview function means you are only downloading those tracks you really want. We liked. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 6.72MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/ir2_w95.html#MP3RocketDownload32

BonusBall v1.0 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
BonusBall is a Color Lines puzzle where you line up 5 balls of the same color to make them disappear. It features 3 skins, 5 levels of difficulty, next color indicator, timed gameplay, excellent animated graphics, good sound effects, it is easy to play (though not easy to win), and more. Color Lines is an excellent puzzle where you must line up, horizontally, vertically or diagonally, five balls of the same color. Every time a ball is moved, three new balls are added to the playing field. BonusBall comes with three skins (Flowers, Gear Power & Rocky) and an adjustable level of game difficulty. The choice of skins is interesting because they suit different age groups so that even though it is the same game, it appears different which each skin. BonusBall is an excellent version of the classic Color Lines game, and a great way to wile away an hour or three. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 2.22MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/gg8_w95.html#bonusball32

COMPUTER TIP OF THE WEEK
from Dr T -- RTemlak4dds@aol.com
Q. What is the difference between hibernate and standby?
A. Hibernate saves an image of your desktop with all open files and documents, and then it powers down your computer. When you turn on power, your files and documents are open on your desktop exactly as you left them.
Standby reduces the power consumption of your computer by cutting power to hardware components you are not using. Standby can cut power to peripheral devices, your monitor, even your hard drive, but maintains power to your computer's memory so you don't lose your work.
[Source: Worldstart.com]

SMILE OF THE WEEK
(contributions for this section are most welcome)
=: Chicken Man :=
Our teacher asked us what our favorite animal was and I said "Fried chicken".
She said I wasn't funny. But she couldn't have been right -- everyone else in the class laughed.
My parents told me to always be truthful and honest, and I am. Fried chicken is my favorite animal.
I told my dad what happened and he said my teacher was probably a member of PETA. He said they love animals very much. I do, too. Specially chicken -- and pork and beef and fish too.
Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal's office. I told him what happened, and he laughed too. Then he told me not to do it again.
The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favorite live animal was. I told her it was chicken.
She asked me why, just like she'd asked the other children. So I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken.
She sent me back to the principal's office again. He laughed, and told me not to do it again.
I don't understand. My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn't like it when I am.
Today, my teacher asked us to tell her what famous person we admire most.
I told her "Colonel Sanders".
Guess where I am now...
[from Mikey's Funnies -- www.mikeysfunnies.com]

COMMENTS
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.
If you are an author of a freeware application and you would like it listed on these pages please fill in the form at:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/submit_software.html
If you enjoy the Completely FREE Software site -- and this newsletter -- please don't feel shy about letting others know.
___________________________________________________

CFS Weekly Newsletter #550

__________________________________________________
CFS Weekly Newsletter #550
[ISSN 1441-6840]
Web Site: http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com
E-mail 1: editor@completelyFREEsoftware.com
E-mail 2: cfs@people.net.au
___________________________________________________

COMPLETELY FREE SOFTWARE
Anti Terrorism Department v1.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Anti Terrorism Department is an action shooter where you play an FBI agent fighting terrorists. It features 4 missions (Tunnels of Terror, Desert Storm, The Rock & The Pentagon), there are weapons to collect & terrorists to kill, it has good gameplay, and more. It seems like Anti Terrorism Department has a combination of games within each mission, there are different scenarios and different gameplay. Generally, you use the arrow keys for movement, the Spacebar to shoot, the PageUp and PageDown keys to scroll through your weapons, and the End key to pick up a weapon dropped by a terrorist. This is an enjoyable game that has simple, cartoon-style graphics, and cartoon-style blood. Unfortunately it had two aspects which we did not like. The first was that there was no option on where the program is installed on your hard drive -- it is placed in the C:\Program Files folder. This we consider very bad manners as it does not give the user the option on where to install the game. Th
e second aspect was the advertising. While it does not draw ads from the Internet, the ad displayed was for a European gambling site -- a site we consider should be accessed with caution. That aside, Anti Terrorism Department is a fun little game that should provide a pleasant diversion from the real world. We liked. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 3.44MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/gg8_w95.html#ATD32

Clipboard Agent v0.85 -- Win9x/ME/WinXP (5 doves)
Clipboard Agent is an MSAgent text to speech utility that reads Clipboard text aloud. It can read aloud & auto increment verses of the Bible (included with download), it is multi-lingual, and more. This is a neat tool if you wish to have the contents of your Windows Clipboard text read out to you. Text can be copied into the Clipboard and Clipboard Agent will read it to you. It also includes a copy of the American Standard Version (ASV) Bible which it can read for you. We had some trouble with Clipboard Agent as it would not work with our Windows 7 operating system, even after we set the compatibility to XP. We were able to review the program by running our computer in Virtual XP mode and installing the program through that. Clipboard Agent performed well in all tasks we gave it -- except its inability to run under Windows 7. Worth checking out. Note: this program is not suitable for Vista, Win7, or later. Access this 9.14MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/du4_w95.html#Clipboard_Agent32

VOB Converter v1.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
VOB Converter is a tool that converts videos to the VOB video format. It supports all popular video formats (WMV, MP4, VOB, MKV, FLV, VOB, MPG, AVI, MOV, etc), offers variable output settings (bitrate, frame rate & frame size), and more. This is one of the simplest ways of converting your videos to the VOB format. Simply select a suitable video, select the output quality you desire, and click on the Convert button. Easy. We tested VOB Converter on one of our videos and the result was exactly as described. However, it should be noted that this does not create the file structure suitable for burning to a movie DVD, for that you need a program like DVD Flick (also listed with CFS). If you are looking an easy way to convert your videos to the VOB format then try VOB Converter. It could be exactly what you require. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 2.66MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/mp3_w95.html#VOBConverter32

CSS3Menu v1.2 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
CSS3Menu is a program that creates great looking menus for HTML pages using CSS3. It features 26 templates, support for non-Javascript browsers (or browsers with Javascript turned off), it is highly configurable using CSS3 attributes (you can change the border-radius, box-shadow, text-shadow, opacity, background & font colors, linear & radial gradients, etc), it is SEO friendly, it has an easy-to-use GUI interface, it supports all modern browsers (except IE6), and more. If you have created your own Website and are looking for a cool menuing system, then check out CSS3Menu. The templates provides are in two categories, Android and Mac, and most of the variations are color changes. However, you can manually alter colors, styles, etc through the GUI interface. For example, the menu blocks normally have rounded corners, but they can be changed from squared boxes to almost a circle. Fly your cursor over most template models and the menu box changes color. While we liked both the m
ain categories of templates, we would have liked to have seen a wider variation in styles. CSS3Menu also requires that you are comfortable inserting code into HTML pages. While this is not hard to do, many people are confused by HTML tags, specially if they have previously tried to work with the raw code from a WYSIWYG site builder. We liked CSS3Menu. It is simple to use yet produces a nice looking site menu. Worth checking out. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 9.02MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/ir2_w95.html#css3menu32

NoteFly v1.0.2 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
NoteFly is a small, notes keeper. It features an always-on-top option, you can change the note color (choice of 7 colors), roll up a note, save a note to textfile, send a note via e-mail, post a note on Twitter, copy a note to the Clipboard, and more. This is a neat little program to create and manage notes. Each note can have its own color and remembers its own location on the desktop. The notes can be "rolled up" so that only the top section is visible or some can be rolled up, others left fully visible. Notes can be hidden, or kept always on top (like a sticky note). You can also group notes by background color so they can be easily identified. Maybe our system setup was different to the author's, but only the date was visible in the top section of our notes, which makes it hard to see what the note was about when rolled up and all you have is a date. If the heading font size was slightly smaller, more information would be able to appear in this section. We also noted that
if you changed the size of the text font -- the font used for the text of your note -- when the Settings dialog box was opened, it automatically restored the default font type and size. Most strange. That aside, we found NoteFly to be a great little notes taker. We liked! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 102kB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/tp2_w95.html#NoteFly32

Start Killer v3.1 -- Win9x/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Start Killer is a simple tool that removes the Start button from the desktop and gives additional space on the taskbar. It optionally starts with Windows, resides as an icon in the tray, offers hotkey access to Settings, and more. Start Killer not only hides the Start button from your desktop, it also hides aftermarket Start menu replacements (like CSMenu, listed with CFS). The Start menu can be accessed by pressing the Win key, or by pressing the CTRL+ESC keys, though the button remains hidden while the program is active. Start Killer works with all versions of Windows from Win95, and we reviewed it using Windows 7. If you need more real estate on your taskbar, or if you simply don't like the look of the Start button, grab a copy of Start Killer. It really works! Access this 190kB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/we3_w95.html#start-killer32

CD-DVD Indepth v4.0.0.4 -- Win9x/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
CD-DVD Indepth is a CD & DVD burner that creates compilations of files and/or folders. It supports both ASPI & SPTI writing modes, allows multi-session disks, has a test mode (burning simulation), erases rewritable CD/DVDs before burning, optionally creates a bootable disk, and more. CD-DVD Indepth uses a simple 10-screen Wizard interface to lead the user through the process of creating a data disk. While the publisher states that it can "burn or rip audio and data CDs and DVDs", we could find no way of ripping or burning audio CDs -- this is a data burner only. However, it does a creditable job in burning data CDs and DVDs, and offers the tools so that it can be used in basically all versions of Windows from 95. Unfortunately, it contains very intrusive RelevantKnowledge advertising. We object strongly to this type of advertising because it not only runs independently of the host program, but does not automatically get removed when the host program is uninstalled. Fortunatel
y, you can uninstall RelevantKnowledge separately and it won't prevent the host program, in this case CD-DVD Indepth, from working. If you are looking for a data burner program, and you don't want to burn multiple copies within the same session, then check out CD-DVD Indepth. It could be exactly what you want. Access this 1.52MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/gp3_w95.html#cdvd32

Arabella Gems 4 v1.0 -- Win9x/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Arabella Gems 4 is a hidden object game where you must find specific items within each level. It features 4 levels (bathroom, car, children's room & museum), uses photographic images, it is suitable for all ages, it has optional music & sound effects, and more. This is a fun little game that will keep the average adult entertained for about 5 minutes -- young children and dementia-racked senior citizens slightly longer. Using good quality photographs, you must find the specified objects in each level -- usually 10 or 11 items. When you click on them they disappear and get marked off the list. When you find all items in a level, you move to the next one. They generally are not hard to find, and most adults would be unlikely to play the game again, but children, specially girls, will enjoy playing Arabella Gems 4, either on their own or with their friends. If this is you then grab a copy of Arabella Gems 4 and enjoy yourself. Access this 3.66MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/gg10_w95.html#ArabellaGems4_32

UPDATE
Kigo Image Converter -- an image converter that changes the format of existing image files -- has been updated to version 2.1.1 with a download size of 1.13MB. The author has advised that changes in this version include the addition of the PNG output format. Access this latest version from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/grp2_w95.html#KigoImageCon32

COMPUTER TIP OF THE WEEK
from Dr T -- RTemlak4dds@aol.com
=: How to Have your XP Cake and Eat Win7 Too :=
Based on what I'm hearing from readers, friends and family members, there are many people who are caught between two computing worlds. They've bought new computers that came with Windows 7 installed and after getting past the initial learning curve, they like it. But they have one or more other machines in the house that are running XP and they don't want to spend the money to upgrade them.
In fact, some of those other machines can't be upgraded to Windows 7, at least not without some serious hardware upgrading, too. They don't have enough RAM, or the video card isn't good enough or they just aren't powerful enough to run the newer OS. But there is a way for you to use Windows 7 on those older, less powerful computers - and you don't have to give up the XP that's already running on them, either.
The solution is what's now called presentation virtualization. When you hear the word "virtualization," you probably think about virtual machine software such as Microsoft's Virtual PC, VMware or Parallels for Macs. That's a different type of virtualization, operating system virtualization. You install the VM software on your computer and create a virtual PC that "thinks" it is a separate computer. Then you can install the operating system of your choice in that VM. That's one way to run both XP and Win7 on the same machine at the same time. The problem with this solution is that it requires some pretty hefty system resources, which your ancient XP machine might not have. Another "gotcha" is that you have to buy a license for the operating system when you install Windows 7 in the VM, just as you do when you install it on another "real" (physical) system.
Presentation virtualization is the technology originally developed by Citrix and first implemented by Microsoft in Windows NT Terminal Services Edition. That's right - we're talking about Remote Desktop Services. If your new Windows 7 computer is running Professional edition or above, you're all set and don't have to buy or install anything extra (assuming your Windows XP and Windows 7 computer are on the same home network). You do have to make some configuration changes, though.
First, on the Windows 7 computer, you need to enable Remote Desktop Services. Open the System applet in Control Panel, click "Advanced system settings" in the left pane, and click the Remote tab. Under Remote Desktop, the default is "Don't allow connections to this computer." Change that to "Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop (less secure)." The third, and more secure choice, "Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication," is only for those who will be connecting with another Windows 7 machine. Your XP computer doesn't support that option.
The next step is to select the user accounts that will be allowed to connect from the XP machine. Add the user account names here. Next, go to the XP machine from which you want to connect. If you want to use the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client that comes with XP so that you don't need to install anything on the XP machine, you'll find it in Start | All Programs | Accessories | Communications.
If you want a richer experience and your XP computer has Service Pack 3 installed, and you don't mind installing the latest version of the Remote Desktop Connection client version 7.0 on it, you can download it at:
http://www.wxpnews.com/SJ5XCX/100518-Windows-XP-Update
The v7.0 client makes for better multiple monitor support, Windows Media Player redirection, bidirectional audio and enhanced video playback, along with a number of features for connecting to terminal services/RDS on Windows Server machines (which you'll probably never use in a home setup). You can read about all of the new features at:
http://www.wxpnews.com/SJ5XCX/100518-RDS-Update
Whichever client you use, you'll need to enter the name or IP address of your Windows 7 computer that you've set up as the remote desktop server and the user credentials for the account that you authorized to connect. You can choose to save the credentials so you won't have to enter them every time you connect. Click the Options button to configure display settings, audio, what local devices and resources you want to be able to use, and more. Then, on the XP computer, click Connect.
If you are unable to connect, and the computers are on the same network, check your local firewall settings. Be sure there is an exception for Remote Desktop and if there isn't, create one.
Once you're connected, you'll have your Windows 7 desktop right there on your XP machine. You can run it full screen to work as if you're using the Windows 7 computer itself, or you can run it in a window so you can use the Windows 7 desktop and the XP desktop at the same time. You can run all of the programs that you have installed on the Windows 7 computer and have almost the same experience that you would have if you were working at the Win7 machine. It doesn't matter that your XP system's hardware doesn't support Windows 7, because all of the processing is taking place on the Win7 machine.
There are a few things that you won't get over the RDP connection from XP to Windows 7. You lose the Aero glass interface and along with that, the Aero features like Snap, Peek and Shake. You also lose the thumbnail previews in the taskbar, since that's an Aero feature. Another problem you might run into is that you won't be able to play videos - either locally stored on your hard drive or on web sites such as YouTube - in full screen mode. You also won't be able to watch TV programs recorded in Windows Media Center over RDP. Other than that, just about everything functions normally if you're using the 7.0 client. See above for the features it adds, that you'll miss out on if you use the built in XP client. There are other caveats, too. For example, when you use Remote Desktop on the client (XP) computer, the host (Windows 7) computer's desktop is locked and someone else can't be using it at the same time. But overall, it's an easy and inexpensive way to have the user experie
nce of running Windows 7 on your old computer (even though it isn't technically running on that machine at all) and still have XP at your beck and call when you want to do something in it.
You might be thinking "this is all well and good, but I don't have the Pro, Enterprise or Ultimate edition of Windows 7. Am I out of luck?" Well, when it comes to the Windows Remote Desktop Services, you are - but there are other third party options. VNC (Virtual Networking Computing) is a platform independent system that does the same thing, but uses a different protocol, RFB (Remote Framebuffer) that was . You can get free or low cost versions of VNC server and client software such as RealVNC, TightVNC, UltraVNC and others. The VNC server software can be installed on the Home versions of Windows 7 or Vista (or XP, for that matter). With some of the products, you may have to use the beta version, or the paid version, to get Windows 7 support.
An advantage of VNC is that not only can you connect to your Windows 7 desktop from your XP computer, you can also do it from Linux or Mac computers (if the version you use has clients for those operating systems). You do have to install a VNC client; since it uses a different protocol, you can't connect to it with the Windows RDP client. Some VNC programs will give you functionality that you don't get with Remote Desktop, such as the ability to watch recordings on Windows Media Center.
And yes, there are services such as LogMeIn and GoToMyPC that you can use to connect your XP computer to your Windows 7 desktop, too, but those require going out over the Internet and then back in to your home network. Remote Desktop Services and VNC work over your local network, so you aren't using Internet bandwidth nor do you have the security concerns of going through the service's server.
This can also be a way to transition from XP to Windows 7 a bit more painlessly than making the big switch all at once. When my husband bought his new Nehalem computer with Windows 7, he wasn't yet ready to give up his familiar XP environment, so he put the Win7 machine in another room and just uses RDP to connect to it, keeping his XP computer on his desk. You can also go in the other direction - set up your XP Pro computer somewhere, make it a Remote Desktop Computer, and connect to it from your new Win7 machine when you need to run one of its programs that isn't installed on your Win7 system. Or if you have XP Home, install the VNC server software on it and the VNC client on the Windows 7 machine. And of course, you can use Remote Desktop or VNC to connect from one XP computer to another XP machine.
Do you use Remote Desktop to connect an XP computer to a Windows 7 computer or vice versa? What do you like about the Remote Desktop experience? What don't you like? Do you find that it gives you the opportunity to "have your cake and eat it too," getting both XP and Windows 7 on one machine, without having to reboot when you want to change operating systems or having to buy a license to install a second OS in dual boot configuration or in a virtual machine? Have you tried any of the third party alternatives? Do you like them better than Remote Desktop Services? Which one is your favorite? We invite you to discuss this topic in our forum at http://www.wxpnews.com/SJ5XCX/100518-Forum-Discussion

[Source: WXPNews.com]

SMILE OF THE WEEK
(contributions for this section are most welcome)
NEW MEDICINES APPROVED BY THE FDA
Histalavista: Say bye-bye to those allergies.
Milk of Amnesia: Infant formula to help babies forget birth trauma.
Non-Interferon: Black market drug often slipped to unsuspecting in-laws.
Testsoteroni: A hormonal supplement eaten as pasta.
Aesthetominophen: You don't feel any better, but you look fabulous.
Elmer's Aspirin: Half aspirin and half glue, for those splitting headaches.
Preparation H with Aspirin: Offers relief from people who are a pain in the posterior.
[from Mikey's Funnies -- www.mikeysfunnies.com]

COMMENTS
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.
If you are an author of a freeware application and you would like it listed on these pages please fill in the form at:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/submit_software.html
If you enjoy the Completely FREE Software site -- and this newsletter -- please don't feel shy about letting others know.
___________________________________________________

CFS Weekly Newsletter #549

_________________________________________________
CFS Weekly Newsletter #549
[ISSN 1441-6840]
Web Site: http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com
E-mail 1: editor@completelyFREEsoftware.com
E-mail 2: cfs@people.net.au
___________________________________________________
Welcome to the 'Completely FREE Software' Weekly Newsletter.
This is an "opt in" only newsletter. If you didn't subscribe, or wish to unsubscribe, please use the personalized address at the end of this newsletter.

HOWDY
Great to be back with you for another week of fabulously fresh freeware.
We have an excellent lineup of great programs for review below. My personal favorites are XMPlay, a stylish audio player, ISOBuddy, an ISO image file processing tool and, for novelty value if nothing else, Math-o-mir, a mathematical notepad. However, you may find that other programs suit your needs more.
We also have our regular columns -- Dr T's excellent Computer Tip of the Week, and our ever popular Smile of the Week.
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:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/join.html
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:
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Until week...
Keep smilin'
Regards
Graham Pockett
Editor
Completely FREE Software

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COMPLETELY FREE SOFTWARE
Road Attack v3.5 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Road Attack is a car racing arcade game where you shoot other vehicles. It features shoot-em-up action with sophisticated weaponry, lots of powerups to collect, time-based gameplay, good graphics, and more. This is a lightweight racing game with lots of gratuitous violence and shooting. It is also lots of fun. In this game you race to the finish line, avoiding traps (water on the road, broken pavement, etc) while collecting as many powerups as you can and trying not to get shot by other vehicles. The storyline behind Road Attack is so weak they didn't even bother to produce one, but the game is fun in a silly way and it is surprisingly addictive. Produced by MyPlayCity, it carries an ad when the game is loading but that is the only time the ad is played. Like all MyPlayCity ads, it appears to be benign. Road Attack won't stretch your mind, though it might stretch your credibility. It is a good bit of nonsense in a shoot-em-up way. We liked. Note: we have been advised that thi
s program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 3.44MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/gg8_w95.html#rattack32
Math-o-mir v1.4 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Math-o-mir is a mathematical notepad which emulates pencil and paper for writing equations. It features the ability to add & edit complex equations, it has a virtual keyboard, there is hotkey support, it includes a simple line editor, a function plotter, a symbolic calculator, you can print equations, there is a downloadable manual, and more. This is an awesome tool if you work with mathematical equations. While it is not quite as easy as using pencil and paper, it gets very close. Using a series of built-in macros, the author has created a tool that allows the user to create very complex, multi-page equations -- and then print them out and/or save them as MOM files (which can be opened for further editing in Math-o-mir). There is a superb manual in PDF format, but the author has elected not to include it in the program's download. It is an additional (and very necessary) 381kB file. You can use the built-in line editor to create simple hand-drawings which can be placed into
your document to illustrate your equations. Neat. There is a small learning curve to get the best from Math-o-mir. For best speed, the macros must be learnt (for example, typing // opens up the fraction editor), as does some of the hotkeys (for example, Ctrl+R brings up the square root editor) but you can use the toolbar on the left hand side of the screen to access these. It is impossible not to be impressed with Math-o-mir. While it is somewhat complex to use, the advantages to using it are worthwhile for anyone working with post-Elementary level math. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 652kB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/tp2_w95.html#mathomir32
XMPlay v3.5.1 -- Win9x/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
XMPlay is a stylish audio player. It supports all major audio formats (OGG, MP3, MP2, MP1, MO3, IT, XM, S3M, MTM, MOD & UMX), playlists (PLS & M3U), plays audio CDs (also obtains CD info from Internet), supports WinAmp plugins, has automatic gain control (and Replaygain), a 9 band equalizer, reverb, it offers Net streaming, it requires no installation, it is skinnable (additional skins are available), and more. This player rocks! It does everything that other players can do, and then more, much more. It can even be set to minimize to the tray as an icon so you can set it playing in the background while you work. XMPlay can also play streaming audio from the Internet, and can even write a copy to your disk. The more we looked at XMPlay the more we found it did! What is probably more amazing is that it is tiny in size and requires no installation -- just download, unzip into the required folder, and start using. And wait, there's more. XMPlay also looks cool and, if it is not c
ool enough for you, there are lots of free skins you can download. We cannot speak highly enough of XMPlay. It is one of the best audio players we have seen, and certainly the smallest. We loved! Access this 319kB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/mp1_w95.html#xmplay32
CollageIt v1.1.5 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
CollageIt is an easy-to-use collage maker, which makes photo collages automatically. It features variable parameters (number of photos, photo space, photo frame, shadow, page margin, auto rotation mode, sparse mode, page size & background setup), realtime preview, saves collage to any of 7 image formats (BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, TIF, TGA & PCX), and more. This is a simple way of producing sophisticated collages of your photos. You can select up to 100 photos for your collage, and even use a photo as a background image! Created in three steps, the collage can be tweaked by changing the various parameters -- including deciding if you want each photo framed, if you want to see a background shadow for each photo, etc. The final collage is usually impressive, and you can save it to any of seven popular image formats. We were a little disappointed that it often cropped the top and bottom off our photos, removing heads and other important features. The ability to turn that off, while sti
ll retaining the other variables, would be a worthwhile function. That aside, we really liked CollageIt. It is a lot of fun to use, and the results are worth hanging on the wall. Try it for yourself! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 4.79MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/grp3_w95.html#CollageIt32
ISOBuddy v1.0.1.2 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
ISOBuddy is an ISO image file processing tool that can convert almost any image file format to ISO and can burn CD/DVD disks. It supports the conversion of GI, NRG, CDI, MDF, IMG, B5I, B6I, DMG, PDI, BIN & CCD disk image formats to the industry-standard ISO disk image format. While there are a number of proprietary disk image formats, the universal standard is ISO. For example, the popular Nero burning software uses its own NRG format, a format not used by many other burning programs. Likewise, Roxio uses the GI format. ISOBuddy can not only convert all the popular formats to ISO, but also burn your disk image to your CD/DVD burner. If you are using rewritable media (eg CD-RW disks) it can erase the existing data, either quickly so that only the disk structure is updated, or completely where the surface of disk is over-written with a neutral pattern to clear all the old data. It also supports making an ISO image file from any multi-session disk image by providing an easy opti
on to select any single session from the selected multi-session disk. We could not fault ISOBuddy in what it does and how it works. We would have liked to have seen the Serif MoviePlus SBA disk image format included, but understand why it was not. If you work with disk images, and find that you sometimes have to work with proprietary disk image formats, then ISOBuddy is a "must have". A superb tool! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 2.00MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/gp2_w95.html#isobuddy32
Leawo Free YouTube Downloader v3.0.7.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Leawo Free YouTube Downloader is a video downloader that can download from YouTube, Yahoo, Google, MySpace, iFilm, etc. It features multi-thread downloading, it automatically parses & grabs FLV videos, there is an optional drop box, it has an IE-style interface, it optionally loads with Windows, and more. Using a modified Internet Explorer Web browser, Leawo Free YouTube Downloader is an easy way to grab FLV videos by saving them to a cache and then copying them out of that cache into the selected download location. This two-step approach bypasses some of the video download problems as sites like YouTube try to prevent downloads. Operation is simple. Use the Leawo Free YouTube Downloader browser window to select your video clip and you will see the drop box showing the percentage actually downloaded. Once it is downloaded (usually much faster than simply watching the clip on-line) it is stored in the "Video" tab in a History-style sidebar. Highlight the movies you wish to kee
p and it can be either played and/or downloaded to the location nominated in the Settings dialog box. Simple. Leawo Free YouTube Downloader is one of the most effective video downloaders. We liked. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 12.7MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/ir2_w95.html#youtubedownload32
WinHide.SB v2.0.0.2 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
WinHide.SB is a small program that controls the visibility of selected windows (including from the taskbar). It optionally changes or removes its own icon in the tray (to disguise or hide the program), permanently hides windows (automatically hides chosen windows), and more. This is a simple little program that is very powerful in what it does. It can either permanently or temporarily hide an active program -- even to removing it from the taskbar. It can also disguise itself by using another icon (there are eight icons available), using alternative flyover text to match that icon (ie Word), or its icon can be hidden from the tray. Unfortunately, WinHide.SB displays bad manners by automatically having itself start with Windows -- and even when you block that, it tries again later. While we agree that it would usually be started with Windows, we would like the option to control that ourselves. That small niggle aside, WinHide.SB is a great little tool for hiding some, or all, o
f the open windows on your desktop. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 831kB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/we3_w95.html#WinHide32
Falco Lines v1.0 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Falco Lines is a Lines puzzle where you line up 5 balls of the same color to have them disappear. It features a next ball indicator, timed gameplay, a 9x9 playing grid, excellent ray-traced graphics, good animation, and more. Falco Lines is easy to play, but hard to win. The author describes the gameplay like this: "The player may move one ball per turn, and only to a particular space on the board if there is a path (linked set of vertical or horizontal empty cells) between the current position of the ball and the desired space. The goal is to remove the balls by forming lines (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) of at least five balls of the same color. When such line is completed, the balls in those lines disappear and he gains one turn, ie he can move another ball. If not, three new balls are added, and the game continues until the board is full." Falco Lines is a great version of this popular puzzle, enhanced by the excellent animated graphics and the subtle sound effects.
We particularly liked the "next ball" indicator so you knew where the next batch of three balls will be located, and what their colors will be. What surprised us was that the Helpfile describes those indicators as being "hints where to put the ball" rather than what they are, next ball indicators. Most strange. We enjoyed playing Falco Lines. It is an excellent way to pass a pleasant, if sometimes frustrating, hour or two. Worth grabbing! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 3.10MB download from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/gg9_w95.html#FalcoLines32

UPDATE
Fotobounce -- a photo organizer, with built-in face recognition -- has been upgraded to version 3.0.2 with a new download size of 14.7MB. The author has advised that changes in this version include: no need to expose your photos on a public website to share them with friends and family by setting up a private network; get full resolution copies of friend's photos from sites like FaceBook which reduce the size and resolution of uploaded images; and more. Grab this latest version from:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/grp4_w95.html#fotobounce32

COMPUTER TIP OF THE WEEK
from Dr T -- RTemlak4dds@aol.com
=: How Search Engines Work :=
The Mechanics Behind Your Search Results
When you're looking for something new on the Internet, a search engine is typically your first stop. We all know how to use a search engine: Just type a word, a phrase, or the name of a person or place and then click the Search button to see hundreds of thousands of links to relevant Web pages. But there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make sure the Google bots, Bing machines, and Yahoo! droids put what you're looking for at the top of the results page. Search engines make it their business to read your mind, and you might be surprised by some of their methods.
The Specifics Of Search
Search engines, such as Bing and Google, are composed of multiple parts. The aspect you interact with to type in your queries and navigate results is little more than a front-end user interface; much like your Desktop is for your PC's operating system. Behind that user interface, Web crawlers, or single-purpose applications that fetch data from the Web, compile a database of documents by requesting specific pages from Web servers all over the Internet, scanning each page for hyperlinks, and then categorizing the results using a numbering system. Speed is a high priority for search engines, so Web crawlers tend to start by indexing the most popular Web pages first, scouring the most active servers and following every link on those pages. The Web search indexes behind search engines, such as Bing and Google, use a variety of encoding (converting data from one form into another) and hashing (converting words and characters into an abbreviated alphanumeric value) techniques to tr
anslate all the words and links returned by Web crawlers into an efficient and fast database that is capable of returning a page of hits in fractions of a second.
Minimalism defines Google's search front end
Web crawlers are capable of producing incredible volumes of data in a very short period. According to our Google industry source, "A lot of Web sites, we can index in a second or less." But this collection of incomprehensible gobbledygook isn't searchable until it's paired with an index, which singles out words so that when you perform your search, any page that contains words that match your query has the possibility of showing up in your results list. But your Web search doesn't stop there.
The Secret Search Sauce
Every search engine has its own bag of tricks for ranking search results and displaying them in order of relevance. The specifics of these ranking techniques are closely guarded trade secrets, and to give you an idea how important ranking is, Google tells us that there are more engineers working on search than on any other product at Google, adding, "Relevancy is really the core job of many, many engineers here." But it's not all I-could-tell-you-but-I'd-have-to-kill-you kind of stuff. Google's PageRank is a fairly well-known relevancy algorithm which helps rank pages based on how many links there are to a Web page from other pages and the linking Web site's quality (based on things such as the site's reliability and the amount of time the site has been on the Web). In this way, PageRank looks at the Web like it's a popularity contest, and when a popular site mentions another site, it carries a lot of weight with the PageRank algorithm. It's all about the Web sites you know.
Bing's search interface is a bit more colorful, but no-nonsense nonetheless
Another type of algorithm takes note of where in the Web page a given word is found. Most algorithms weigh any words found in the title, subtitles, metatags (typically the Web designer or Web page owner's details about the contents of the page), and other descriptive locations more heavily. Sometimes an algorithm purposefully omits words from an index, such as "a," "an," and "the." Capitalization and font size are other common factors that can affect how much weight a word might get in an index. These algorithms are the hearts and souls of a search engine, and the better they are at determining what can be found on a given Web page, the better a user's search results will be. But showing a simple collection of links is not all a modern search engine is capable of doing.
Making The Most Of Your Results
While Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Google are not willing to reveal the nuts and bolts of their ranking techniques, Google was a lot more forthcoming about how it arrives at some of the more transparent results you encounter. For instance, when you type weather into your search engine-of-choice and press ENTER, you'll typically see the weather for your area. At Google, they call this a Universal Search Result. Context plays a large role in the results of your search. For instance, where you are, what the date is, what is going on around the world, and what is going on in your neck of the woods all affect your results. In this way, a search you perform today will likely return different results than if you make the same search two weeks from now. For instance, if you typed the term Olympics into a search engine in early February, you were likely to get Vancouver hotel booking information and broadcast schedules for the recent Winter Games. The same search today returns links for obt
aining tickets to the 2012 Olympics in London and the results of the 2010 Games in Vancouver. And search providers are constantly refining their relevancy formula and evolving the search engine to help you find exactly what you're looking for.
Search is an evolving organism. A senior software engineer who works on Web search quality at Google tells us that "at any given time, we're running between 50 and 200 search experiments, meaning that we're trying out a tweak to the ranking algorithm or to the appearance of the results, and we're testing the data to see if users are clicking in ways that suggest to us that it is an improvement." In essence, there are between 50 and 200 versions of Google Search at any given moment; some differ in only minor ways, such as displaying a keyword in bold, indenting a line of text, or changing the ranking of a certain category of queries. Other changes are more dramatic, such as changing the index so that the search engine can return results for queries typed as full sentences. In 2009 alone, Google launched 550 different improvements to its search engine.
Search Seers
Google acknowledges that some searches are easier than others. For instance, if you search for Survivor a few minutes after the television broadcast ends, you should be able to find out who got kicked off the island in short order. The searches that are more difficult to produce relevant results on, the ones that keep Google's engineers up late at night, are the completely unique ones. According to Google, the firm's search engine gets more than one billion searches every day. Of those searches, 20% of them haven't been searched for in the previous 90 days. To a search engine, that's the equivalent of an alien language. And trying to anticipate those sorts of queries is the equivalent of trying to learn to speak that language before you've heard syllable one. "That introduces some interesting challenges, because if you don't know what people are going to be searching for tomorrow, you have to kinda guess. It's something we spend a lot of time trying to figure out."
by Andrew Leibman
[Source: The Angellmore Newsletter]

SMILE OF THE WEEK
(contributions for this section are most welcome)
TEN SIGNS YOUR LIFE IS ABOUT TO CHANGE. . .
10. While watching the news, you spot your spouse marching in a Gay Pride parade.
9. The bank notifies you that your paycheck has bounced.
8. On a densely foggy morning, while driving in the center lane of a highway, you suddenly run out of gas.
7. You arrive at your wedding to find, two ushers, four bridesmaids, and six pallbearers.
6. You ask your doctor for a physical and he replies: "I'm sorry, I don't do autopsies."
5. The IRS invites you to a weenie-roast and the invitation begins with, "Dear Weenie..."
4. While surfing the internet, you suddenly get the following dialog box: "ICBM launch successful. Confirm strike? (Y/N)".
3. You hear that your dentist has been arrested for using radioactive material as tooth-filling.
2. At the vacant house next door, you notice a U-Haul van and a truck which looks very similar to the ones on the old Beverly Hillbillies.
1. Your twelve year old daughter suddenly develops a craving for pickles and ice cream.
[author unknown]

COMMENTS
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.
If you are an author of a freeware application and you would like it listed on these pages please fill in the form at:
http://www.completelyFREEsoftware.com/submit_software.html
If you enjoy the Completely FREE Software site -- and this newsletter -- please don't feel shy about letting others know.
___________________________________________________
The following physical address is associated with this mailing list:
www.completelyFREEsoftware.com

PC World's Best Places to Shop for Technology

PC World in its July 2010 edition has published the best places to shop for technology items.

It took anonymous shoppers sent to retail stores, in 7 cities, and making more than 200 phone calls to salespeople in six regions of the U.S over a period of six weeks. What did they find out?

"The clueless staffers at most retailers far outnumbered the clueful ones!"

[Ed: That is why I have repeatedly told people who go to the big box stores NOT to believe any answers they hear without checking them with another credible source who knows something about technology. It is also why I offer the Computer Buyer and Advisor service to help individuals purchase a better product for less money.]

PCWorld started with Dealerscope's list of the top CE retailers, narrowed down to the top 20 while excluding the retailers who did not have a national presence [such as California's Fry Electronics], any brand-specific stores such as Dell's and Apple's, those catering to a specialized market like games and those that charge membership fees [like Costco and Sam's Club].

BEST IN SHOW
Amazon 1st place for laptops, digital cameras, desktop PC's and hard drives.

Second overall, was Best Buy, with top honors in HDTVs and printers. Best Buy had a good range of products, good pricing and knowledgeable sales people especially in the HDTV area. Best Buy also finished in second place for the desktop PC category, and tied for second place in laptops, digital cameras and hard drives. Best Buy also did the best job answering tech questions in general and it was the top brick-and-mortar retail store overall, as well as being rated highly for online presence as well.

CDW tied for second in laptops and printers while Staples tied for second in printers and Newegg tying for second in digital cameras and hard drives.

[The only problem with PC World's ommission of some stores such as paid membership stores that Costco which rated the highest for value in a recent CR survey even though their selection was low. But good value is good value!]

One other thing I like about Amazon is the number of reviews and ratings that many products have which give you a good idea of whether you want that product or not. 

However I have found that you can bring in a lower Amazon online price to Best Buy for  example and they will usually match or beat that price. Then it is MUCH easier to return if necessary.

Check the July 2010 PC World for more details or go to http://www.pcworld.com

Sunday, June 6, 2010

XP crashes; Adobe holes; Google Buzz; Mardi Gras; supercomputers [WEEK IN REVIEW]


ZDNet Week in Review
ZDNet Member | February 12, 2010
Home | News & Blogs | Videos | White Papers | Downloads | Reviews | Photo Galleries | Podcasts | RSS Feeds
Must-Read News Stories
Microsoft has removed one group of patches it released as part of this week's Patch Tuesday -- MS10-015 (KB977165) -- from its Windows Update service until it can investigate reports by some users that it is causing havoc with their PCs. by Mary Jo Foley

This Week's Highlights
Adobe Systems warned of new critical holes in Reader and Flash Player, released a security update for the Flash hole, and said a patch for Reader would come next week. by Elinor Mills CNET News




A Windows patch is reportedly causing the Blue Screen of Death for Windows XP users. Before you leap to conclusions about the coding skills of Microsoft's developers, you might want to consider this.
Google's unveiling of Buzz leaves Microsoft looking like a copycat, even though Redmond has been working on social element to Outlook for some time. by Sam Diaz
The Macworld 2010 Best of Show awards featured some pretty innovative products include my favorite, an iPhone-sized laser pico projector. by Jason D. O'Grady
Last year at the Mobile World Congress MWC show, Microsoft officials said "Windows Phone" would be used as an uber-branding term to describe all phones running Windows Mobile. But it looks like that's about to change.
GE applies eco-principles to new healthcare technology systems. by Heather Clancy
SmartPlanet: Researchers from Imperial College London and Volvo are developing a prototype material that's strong and light enough to be used as a car's skin but hold a charge.
Photo Gallery
Check out photos taken with the Nikon Coolpix P100 26x megazoom camera.
Opera 10.50 beta - First Look
Twitpics from Space (photos)

Some think that Windows XP is still OK to use even nine years on from initial release. I say, get with the times and upgrade regardless. 7 things by Zack Whittaker
Featured TalkBack Post
Does Social Networking really need to be this hard to manage? by Jason Perlow
Active TalkBack Posts
Post-Copenhagen: the homework assignment has been turned in
Google Chrome now officially supports Greasemonkey


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