Friday, August 6, 2010
Confectionary v2.3 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Confectionary is a huge multi-type puzzle where you inherit an old deserted confectionery plant which you must get back into production. It features various types of reasonably challenging puzzles (hidden objects, falling bricks, jigsaw, etc), recipes to collect & keep, excellent storyline, excellent graphics, and more. Confectionary (yes, the spelling is deliberately incorrect) incorporates a number of different types of puzzles into the one monster game. You must cross town, collecting elements to re-establish this once-flourishing business. To do this you find hidden items (and they are often very well hidden!) until you have accumulated enough items to re-build the factory, which is a challenging jigsaw puzzle. Occasionally you are given permission to go to cookery school where you can learn some recipes. While the puzzles used are generally considered to be for slightly younger people, there is sufficient challenge in them to appeal to a more mature player, and Confectio
nary is therefore suitable for all ages. Graphics are truly excellent, as is the overall storyline of the game. There is an ad displayed when the game is loading but it is not intrusive and disappears once the game is fully loaded. Confectionary brings together a number of different puzzles into a masive conglomerate which is fun to play and which will keep you busy for many hours. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 79.4MB download from:
EyeLine Video Surveillance v1.042 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) EyeLine Video Surveillance is a program that captures & stores video camera or Webcam output. It features a motion detection mode, it can auto-backup to LAN or server, offers e-mail & SMS movement notifications, the frames are time stamped, it is simple to use, has a good Helpfile, and more. This is an excellent way of monitoring and capturing the output from a video camera or Webcam. While originally designed for business use (the professional version can monitor up to 100 cameras, the free version just a single camera), EyeLine Video Surveillance can be used to monitor a location within the home. For example, it can monitor the front door, the computer room, the baby's room, etc. If used in motion detection mode, it will just capture periods when there is movement within the range of the camera lens rather than continually capture. Movement alerts can be sent by e-mail, or even by SMS if an SMS Gateway host is used. Captured video can be streamed to a central computer via a
LAN, uploaded to the Internet via FTP, or stored in a local computer. Frames are date and time stamped so you can quickly find specific events. EyeLine Video Surveillance is very easy to use, but even includes a good Helpfile in HTML format should you require more information. Unfortunately, both the on-line information at the author's site, and the Helpfile, give information about the multi-camera Professional version and not specifically about the free, single camera version. However, assistance should rarely be required as the software is not hard to use. We were very impressed with EyeLine Video Surveillance. Its simplicity belies the effective power of the program and, if you need to set up a surveillance camera, this would be a good program to check out. Try it for yourself. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 309kB download from:
Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware v1.46 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware is an anti-malware tool that detects and removes malicious programs from the computer. It features fast or full scanning, database updates released daily, quarantine to hold threats, integration with Windows Explorer, and more. Even though you should already have a good anti-virus program, even the better commercial ones do not necessarily find every piece of malware (malicious software) on your computer. This malware can include viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits, dialers, and spyware. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware is a scanner that examines files to ensure that they are not malicious, and is kept up-to-date with daily database downloads. This version does not offer real-time protection -- you cannot simply install it and have it operate in the background protecting you. It requires a scan to be instigated. When first installed, it updates your database and, in our case, this meant a 5.03MB additional download. There are two types of scans available, a
"quick scan" and a "full scan", and the latter can scan selected drives. We tried a quick scan but were surprised to see that it still took over one hour to complete -- we wonder how long a full scan would take! As Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware found no problems on our computer we could not test it any further than to state that, because of the time it took, it seemed to be thorough. Even though you cannot have too much protection against malware, a "quick" scan of over one hour is not something we would carry out daily. This is a shame because daily scans should the aim (even more often if downloading lots of questionable programs). That aside, Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware has an awesome reputation and should be considered high on your list as additional protection against on-line nasties. Worth checking out. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 5.86MB download from:
Serna Free XML Editor v4.2.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) Serna Free XML Editor is a Java-based WYSIWYG XML editor. It supports all popular document types (DITA, Docbook, XHTML, TEI P4, NITF, etc), offers on-the-fly document validation against XML Schemas, multilingual spell checking, Entity & XInclude in-place editing, drag 'n drop with on-the-fly validation, context-sensitive element help, and more. Unfortunately CFS was unable to review this program. We were told that: "Authors with virtually no XML experience can start working with structured content in a familiar environment that looks much like a conventional word processor. Serna Free XML Editor employs XSLT and XSL-FO to render documents in print-like appearance. This approach gives a lot of opportunities for document rendering, such as localized generated content, profiled views, composition of a document from multiple chunks, in-line attribute editing, and others. Serna Free XML Editor offers exceptional DITA 1.1 support and comes with integrated DITA Open Toolkit. Flexib
le visualization of DITA maps and topics with the ability to resolve referred content and in-place editing of local conrefs greatly simplify DITA authoring." Serna Free is intended for personal use at home, documenting open-source projects, education, and other non-commercial uses. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 77.4MB download from:
Free 3D Photo Maker v22.214.171.124 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Free 3D Photo Maker is a program that creates 3D "stereo" photos from two slightly offset still images. It features a choice of 3D algorithms (optimized, red/cyan, dark, gray & yellow/blue), it supports 11 different input image formats (RAW, PICT, BMP, JPG, RLE, ICO, EMF, WMF, PNG, TGA & GIF), it saves the 3D stereo image to the JPG format, it is simple to use, and more. If you want to create 3D stereo images then this is probably the simplest way of getting them. The secret is to take two photos of the same scene, with an offset of about two to three inches to the right (best to move your whole body rather than just twist a little). The two photos are then opened in Free 3D Photo Maker, keeping the left hand image on the left, and the right hand image on the right. Select the algorithm you want to use (you can save the same images in different algorithms and see which is best for you), and click on the "Make 3D!" button. The resultant 3D image can be viewed in stereo anaglyph glasses. We tried the sample images provided with the program and used the paper glasses included with a movie we had previously purchased. We selected the red/cyan algorithm to produce a 3D image we could view using those glasses. The result was excellent. If you are taking photos in the field, you may want to take a series of digital photos with varying offsets until you learn the optimal distance between them. Free 3D Photo Maker is an impressive tool for anyone looking to create 3D stereo type images. If you have a few pairs of stereo anaglyph glasses around you could even make up a sequence of images to play on your TV for your family and friends. It could liven up those holiday slideshows... If you are want to create 3D stereo images then Free 3D Photo Maker should be high on your list as possible tools. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 16.6MB download from:
RadioSure v2.1.969 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
RadioSure is a skinnable on-line radio station player. It features over 13,000 stations worldwide, supports most Internet radio formats (MP3, WMA, OGG, AAC+, etc), records individual tracks or continuous station content, simultaneously records multiple stations, station sort (name, country, genre or language), station favorites, optionally shows an image related to the current song, additional skins to download, minimizes to the tray, and more. RadioSure rocks, and not just because of the music you can play. This is the simplest, easiest way of both listening to many thousands of on-line radio stations, and also recording their output -- and it will even record music tracks individually. Cool! Whatever genre of music you like, in whatever language, and from virtually every country that includes an Internet-transmitting radio station, you can listen through RadioSure. Sound quality is generally superb, though this can vary depending on your bandwidth and on the network conditi
ons. RadioSure can record, and play back, the content from multiple radio stations so you can be away from your computer and still listen to your favorite music or talk station. It can also be dressed up with downloadable skins. For Internet radio, RadioSure is the program to get! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 3.26MB download from:
Keyboard Leds v1.0 -- Win9x/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Keyboard Leds is a small utility that displays the status of the Num Lock, Caps Lock & Scroll Lock keys on a small icon in the system tray and/or on a floating OSD window. It features a fully configurable display (colors, etc), the OSD display can be hidden when all keys are off, it optionally starts with Windows, and more. Keyboard Leds is a simple little tool which is particularly valuable for computers (mainly notebooks and laptops) that do not have indicators for the three "Lock" keys. It indicates if a key is turned "on" or "off", therefore minimizing errors caused by accidentally switched on keys. If you want, or need, an indicator for the keyboard "lock" keys then get a copy of Keyboard Leds. Access this 394kB download from:
Yukon Solitaire 2 Suit v3.2 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) Yukon Solitaire 2 Suit is an easier version of Yukon Solitaire, using two suits and not four. This is a card game that combines Spider Solitaire with Klondike Solitaire (or "traditional solitaire") where you build up foundations from Ace to King. Because it uses only two suits instead of four (though still using 52 cards), there are two sets of cards for each suit. This should assist in completing the game. Even with just two suits, Yukon Solitaire 2 Suit is a hard game to win, and this is not assisted by the lack of "New Game" or reset button to start a new game. The downloadable version requires that you must close the game and re-open it to start again -- and expect to be re-starting often. We felt that more work could have been put into making the card faces look more attractive, and more like regular playing cards. The downloadable version of the game also lacks any assistance or Helpfile, and even the on-line assistance is not extensive. If you like challenging card gam
es then grab a copy of Yukon Solitaire 2 Suit. You might not win very often but, when you do, you will be celebrating all day. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 2.69MB download from:
Easy Text To HTML Converter -- converts TXT & RTF documents into HTML -- has been updated to version 3.0.0.057 with a new, much smaller download of 254kB. The author advises that changes adds HTML templates support, table to HTML tool, and XHTML output. Access this new version from:
X2USBP -- prints the DOS command screen outputs to USB and parallel port Windows 32-bit printers -- has been updated to version 3.1 with a new download size of 53kB. The author advises that this version now allows use of any available Windows printer on a PC. Get this new version from:
COMPUTER TIP OF THE WEEK
from Dr T -- RTemlak4dds@aol.com
=: How Search Engines Work :=
by Andrew Leibman
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 translate 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 obtaining 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.
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."
[Source: Jack's Computer Tips]
Great to be back with you for another week of fabulously fresh freeware. I'd like to extend a warm welcome to the new subscribers. I hope you enjoy this weekly newsletter.
We have an excellent selection of freebie programs for you this week. My personal favorites were Kaspersky Rescue Disk, a bootable Linux-based rescue disk, FotoMorph, a photo animator, and Mini Desktop Stopwatch, a stopwatch and countdown timer. Your favorites might be different, so check out all the reviews below.
We also have our regular columns -- Dr T's excellent Computer Tip of the Week, and our ever popular Smile of the Week. Both are reasonably large, but we deemed them worth the extra space.
To get access to the best downloads, why not take a minute and become a member of arguably the best freeware-only site in the world. More details from our members' page:
What are you waiting for -- become a CFS "lifer" now, or try out the site with a 1-month, 1-year or 2-year membership. We are still half the price of most other sites and I think we offer the best value for your hard earned dollar.
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COMPLETELY FREE SOFTWARE
The Atlantis Series -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
The Atlantis Series is an underwater shooter presented in 2 parts (Project: Atlantis & The Fall of Atlantis). It features over 20 levels, many different scenarios including a tour of Atlantis, tells its story by in-game cut scenes & data, save game, and more. This is a simple little shooter that is basically two games in one. While they share a similar look 'n feel, it is obvious that they were created at separate times, with The Fall of Atlantis being the second game (and, arguably, the better of the two). Graphics are simplistic, animations basic, and your underwater craft is controlled by the arrow keys, with the S and D keys for firing. If you go outside the screen you are lost, though if you don't change direction and use the down arrow to reverse, you can find your way back onto the screen. Simplistic, it lacks the eye candy or the big bangs that make similar shooters popular. The Atlantis Series does not rate well in many areas but, in spite of that, it has an addictiv
e aspect that is hard to explain -- it draws you back to play again and again. It may not be in your top 10 favorite games of all times but it is very playable. We liked. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 5.60MB download from:
AquaSoft SlideShow for YouTube v126.96.36.199 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
AquaSoft SlideShow for YouTube is a tool that creates professional slideshows or animations for posting on YouTube. It features a built-in YouTube uploader, it can optionally add music, there is a multi-track timeline, you can add text with more than 100 effects, includes many animations (turns, zooms, fadings, panoramas, etc), it supports both 4:3 & 16:9 video formats, has various camera angles & pans, offers non-destructive image editing, it supports more than 50 image formats, it supports EXIF data, and more. This is a superb tool for creating YouTube videos of your photos, etc. It offers so many professional tools that we could not list them all in the space we have available. There is an optional Helpfile and PDF manual which you are given the option to download when the program is being installed, but these are larger than 22MB (a point not mentioned when you are given the option to download them). However, we believe that they are worth the bandwidth as AquaSoft SlideS
how for YouTube is not the simplest tool to get started using -- in fact, there is a steep learning curve to get the best from this program. Probably the most annoying aspect of the program (deliberately so) is the promise of so many other ways to export your finished project -- to CD or DVD, as a program to run on your computer, etc -- but these are not available in the free version, which is limited to posting your project on YouTube. Of course, the author expects that once you have created your masterpiece you will want to do more than simply post it to YouTube and will be prepared to spend the money on purchasing the full version. AquaSoft SlideShow for YouTube produces a superb, professional looking result, as long as you are prepared to spend the time to master the program. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 18.6MB download from:
Kaspersky Rescue Disk v10.0.21.5 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) Kaspersky Rescue Disk is a bootable Linux-based rescue disk that scans and removes threats from an infected computer. It features configurable object scanning, Internet updates the for malware database, a built-in file manager & Web browser, support for all popular file systems (FAT32, NTFS, Ext2, Ext3, Ext4 & Reiser), 80-page downloadable user guide (1.39MB), and more. The Kaspersky Rescue Disk is downloaded as an ISO image file that must be burnt to a CD or DVD. The resultant disk can then be used to boot the computer into a Linux environment where scans can be carried out to find and quarantine malicious software (malware). When you boot up your computer using the Kaspersky Rescue Disk you must update the malware database so it can find the latest risks. There is no need to understand how to work with Linux because this disk uses a Windows-style interface. Kaspersky Rescue Disk should be created before you experience any problems, and we suggest that you download, create,
and store the disk in case you might need it. After an infection you may not be able to download or create the disk -- you might not even be able to boot into Windows! We consider that Kaspersky Rescue Disk a "must have" tool for all PC users. Get a copy now before you are infected. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 193MB download from:
Cute Screen Recorder v188.8.131.52 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (4 doves) Cute Screen Recorder is an easy-to-use video screen capture that saves to MP4, FLV, SWF or WMV video formats. It features fullscreen or customized capture area, variable output quality (BitRate, FrameRate & audio sample rate), captures audio in mono or stereo, and more. This should be an excellent video screen capture tool, but it isn't. Output quality for a fullscreen capture, even when set to maximum quality using the WMV format, is poor, and Cute Screen Recorder does not use hotkeys to start and stop. This means that the program is visible in the capture when using fullscreen! Likewise, when you stop the recording you must bring the program to the front to click on the Stop button. When a smaller area of the screen is used, you can hide the program window outside the capture area. If the Cute Screen Recorder window is visible in the first and last few frames of the video, you could use a video editor to trim those parts and just leave the bulk of the recording (the part yo
u really want) but this workaround should not be necessary if the program was able to be minimized to an icon in the tray and the recording activated by hotkey. Even if that was done, more work is required to improve video quality. We were very disappointed in Cute Screen Recorder. It has so much unfulfilled potential that it was a major disappointment when the program was actually used. Not our first choice for screen capture to video. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 4.02MB download from:
Mini Desktop Stopwatch v1.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) Mini Desktop Stopwatch is a stopwatch and countdown timer. It offers accuracy to 1,000 of a second, counts to & from 100 hours, it has the ability to go fullscreen, it has pause & reset controls, is fully portable (no installation required), always stays on top (unless minimized), and more. This is an excellent way of monitoring your time, whether you wish to be notified at the end of a specific period of time (the program beeps when it counts back to zero) or if you wish to time an event (use it as a stopwatch). On the countdown you simply insert the numbers using the mouse-control keypad in the program, and click on the Start button. Mini Desktop Stopwatch autoconverts base-10 numbers (ie 97 minutes becomes 1 hr 37 min). You can make the program go fullscreen for large numbers that can be read at a considerable distance. For example, on a 22 inch widescreen monitor the numbers are over 1.5 inches (4cm) high, making them easy to read from well over 20 feet away. Mini Desktop
Stopwatch is a great tool to have on hand for those times when you need a timer. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 4.11MB download from:
FotoMorph v11.1 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
FotoMorph is a photo animator which can morph images, warp (distort) an image, or zoom/pan within an image. It can import popular image formats (BMP, JPG, PNG, TIF & GIF), export to popular video formats (FLV, AVI, SWF, animated GIF, etc), add scrolling & fading text, print the current animation frame, and more. This is an awesome photo tool which can create professional looking animations of your photos. Of course, the most popular is morphing (image metamorphosis) when you can change the photo of, say, a cat into a lion, a child into an adult, etc using a sequence of images. These can be extremely complex, or quite simple. Some of the controls are not obvious on first glance but, as you use the program, you realize that it offers a level of power you would expect from an expensive commercial program. FotoMorph looks good, is very powerful, and creates awesome image videos in a number of formats. If you choose the popular SWF format, it will even provide the HTML required to
post it to your Website! Cool. As with any high-end program of this type, FotoMorph has a reasonably steep learning curve to get the best from its many controls and features. Fortunately, there is good on-line assistance offered through the author's site. This includes a tutorial using the included sample file which incorporates all three of the main functions of this program -- morphing, warping and zoom/panning. If you are looking for a program to create image morphing then you should start looking with FotoMorph. It is an amazing program! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 2.68MB download from:
Microsoft Reader v2.1.1 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) Microsoft Reader is an eBook reader that can read eBooks out loud. It features on-screen readability using ClearType display technology, text enhancement (highlighting, bookmarks, notes & drawings), thousands of books available (free & purchase), and more. If you enjoy reading books you will find that there are many books available in the LIT format used by Microsoft Reader. These can be read on your computer screen, or through your Pocket PC device. You can even create your own LIT books using the Word add-in, Read in Microsoft Reader, which is available from Microsoft (819kB download, suitable for Word 2000, XP & 2003). Microsoft Reader displays your library of LIT books and you can select a book to read. The next time you want to read more of your book simply select "Most recent page" to go back to where you were. While reading text on-screen is not always easy, Microsoft Reader uses ClearType to improve the reading experience, specially on LCD screens. If you are visually
impaired, or just like listening to someone reading a book to you, there is a built-in audio reader. Microsoft Reader is a superb eBook tool and one worth grabbing. We liked. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 3.58MB download from:
Falco Blood v1.0 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves) Falco Blood is a classic top down shooter where you are besieged by monsters. It features 12 levels of action, lots of cool weapons & reinforcement bonuses (powerups), dynamic gameplay, and more. Limited to a confined space, you must try to stay alive long enough to get to the next level. Fortunately you have 15 lives per level, and you will often need that many! Gameplay is fast and furious, and made harder because while you control the gun and the angle the gun is firing through the mouse, movement of your character is through the cumbersome W, A,S and D keys. As you would guess from its title, Falco Blood displays lots of cartoon-style blood, so caution should be used with younger players. Falco Blood is pure escapism. It is a fun way to kill a few minutes, and a lot of monsters. Worth a look if you like fast-action shooters. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 6.14MB download from:
COMPUTER TIP OF THE WEEK
from Dr T -- RTemlak4dds@aol.com
When are they going to discontinue Windows XP?
Good question! Microsoft designed the Windows XP operating system to work in desktop and laptop computers, as well as in media centers. It first made an appearance to the computer world in August 2001 and became one of the most popular versions of the Windows operating system. Due to it's extended life, people often wonder when they are going to discontinue Windows XP. Ever since Windows 7 came into existence, more and more consumers have started to make the switch to this new system.
Computer operating systems are constantly being updated, which means there will always be something newer and better right around the corner. The most difficult part is getting used to the new system without dealing with a few frustrations now and then.
The 'XP' in Windows XP is short for 'experience' and this type of system has multiple editions, two of which are the home and professional editions. The home version is, of course, for basic household use. The professional edition has extra features that may be too advanced to be considered necessary for use on a home computer. These additional features include; remote desktop server, an encrypting file system, 2 CPUs, and offline folders and files, just to name a few.
Even though this system has been the most popular version for nearly a decade, Microsoft has decided to do away with it. The homepage for Windows XP even has a link that connects consumers to a page listing the top ten reasons to switch over their computers to Windows 7 including:
1.Quicker Access to Content
2.Easier to Manage
3.Faster to Locate Files, Emails, or Other Programs
4.Can Share Information Among Other Computers
6.Create Movies that Can Be Shared
7.Connects Quickly to Wireless
8.Faster Response Time
9.Runs Most XP Programs
10.Offers Better Protection for PCs
This does happen to be a fairly impressive list of reasons to make the switch. The chart that allows consumers to compare the XP, Vista, and 7 versions of Windows is actually a better view of why there's no reason to continue selling and servicing Windows XP. The latest Microsoft operating system for PCs that is offered does everything that the previous editions are capable of, but includes nearly twice as much capability.
Windows XP users don't have access to Windows Search, which enables programs and files to be located instantly and it takes more than a couple of clicks to open these features once they are found. Navigation through open windows is much slower and sharing music, photos, and other files with additional household PCs isn't possible. It's also difficult to manage external devices and organize easily with the XP edition. In addition, connecting to wireless networks takes some work, and the XP edition doesn't have parental controls - which most parents find necessary today with the plethora of information available on the Internet.
Movies and games are a big part of many people's lives. Windows XP doesn't have the capability to provide game graphics that are as vivid and realistic as the newest version is able to offer. Creating and sharing movies within minutes after they are made is also impossible with Windows XP.
Music collectors aren't able to stream their music around the house with the XP operating system and, since traveling is also becoming more integrated with most jobs, portability is the new priority. Since many computer users store most of their data on their home desktop, taking this on trips is near to impossible. Being able to remotely tap into this information source from locations away from home is possible with the newest operating system, but not with Windows XP.
Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP with SP2 (Service Pack 2) due to take place on July 13, 2010.
Once support is discontinued for this edition, there won't be any additional security updates coming through making your system more vulnerable to malicious viruses that can easily destroy a PC unless you have a free combination of Avira (http://www.avira.com/en/pages/index.php), Malwarebytes (http://www.malwarebytes.org/), and SUPERAntiSpyware (http://www.superantispyware.com/).
There is a service pack for Windows XP that will buy users a bit more time with this operating system. Service Pack 3 is available for consumers who just aren't ready to make the switch over to Windows 7, but support for that will end April 8th, 2014.
from Dr T -- RTemlak4dds@aol.com
=: Take Out The Trash :=
Combat Malw*re: A Step-By-Step Guide
[Note: due to spam policies by some of the larger e-mail services, we had to change the combined word "mal" + "ware" into "malw*re" or we may have been blocked from sending this to you.]
Much like Haight-Ashbury in the fabled 1960s, the Internet was once home to a free-wheeling family of occasionally addled but always peaceful inhabitants, where goodwill held sway, a place where the streets were filled with happy, helpful residents, all delighted to welcome a newcomer. It was a boisterous place, filled with clamor and confusion, but peace and love reigned supreme.
Those days are long gone, both in North-Central San Francisco and on the Internet. We can't do anything about dangers on the city streets, but we can help protect you from the viruses, spyware, and other nasty critters you might encounter on the Web. We'll give you some background so you can recognize the risks, and then we'll show you how to defend yourself.
Recognize The Problem
Computers don't get tired. They do get old, but because they're neither arthritic organisms nor gummed up electro-mechanical devices, they don't get slow and rickety as they age (like some writers, for example). So why is your PC so slow? Possibly because it's infested with malw*re of one sort or another: a virus, spyware, adware, or a Trojan.
In fact, if you have plenty of memory and free hard drive space, a noticeable slowdown is one of the most obvious signs that your system is infected with some sort of malicious software.
Other signs of an infestation can include finding that your Web browser's home page or search engine has been changed or replaced, suddenly being inundated with pop-up ads, regular system or application crashes, receiving odd emails -- including emails from yourself, startup errors, and error messages (sometimes including a fake Blue Screen of Death) accompanied by "scareware" ads offering to solve your problem, for a price.
Keep in mind that these are not all definite signs of an infection; some could also indicate hardware or software problems that have nothing to do with malw*re. But because it's usually fairly easy to remove malw*re, we can quickly eliminate an infection as a possible source of whatever problem you might be experiencing.
The Tools; How To Use Them
Most viruses or spyware don't purposely cause noticeable problems; after all, the most effective attack is one the victim never notices. Instead, the usual goal is to collect information or to use your computer as part of a network of "zombies" to attack other systems. But in doing so, the virus, spyware, or adware drains your system's resources and causes conflicts with other, legitimate software. This causes crashes and slowdowns, and these you do notice. That's what gives the game away. What you need is a set of tools you can use to rid your system of any existing infestation and then guard against a reoccurrence.
Antivirus. The first tool you need is a solid AV (antivirus) application, such as Avast! Free Antivirus (http://www.avast.com/) or Malwarebytes Anti-malw*re (free; http://www.malwarebytes.org/). The typical AV app will scan your system for various forms of malw*re and let you delete or otherwise neutralize any threats it finds.
Even the best antivirus program does you no good unless you actually use it. Run the scanner every day, making it part of your computing routine: Boot up your system and let the scanner run while you go make coffee. Update the scanner at least weekly. These tools use a threat database to help them locate infections, and that database must be updated regularly. Note that it is normally not a good idea to run multiple AV applications; most have components that run all the time, and these competing programs can cause problems.
Antispyware. Spyware is software that collects information about you and your computing habits without your knowledge. (Adware is similar, but it's normally benign software -- the use of which you, knowingly or not, actually approved.) In a worst-case scenario, the information collected can be used to pilfer financial information, steal your identity, or otherwise do serious harm. Even absent such malicious intent, spyware and adware can slow your system down to a crawl and inundate you with irritating pop-up ads and messages.
An antispyware application, such as Ad-Aware (free; http://www.lavasoft.com/) or Spybot-S&D (free; http://www.safer-networking.org/), works like the AV applications discussed above: It uses a threat database and other methods to look for hazards; thus, as with the AV apps, you need to run and update your antispyware program regularly.
Unlike with antivirus applications, it is perfectly fine to run more than one antispyware program. One application may find adware that another program missed, and antispyware applications rarely conflict with one another.
Install An Anti-malw*re Application
We don't have room here to cover the use of every available anti-malw*re tool or suite, so we will use Malwarebytes Anti-Mal-ware as an example; it eliminates both viruses and spyware/adware, and it's free, readily available, effective, free, and we like it. Did we mention FREE?
Go to http://www.malw*rebytes.org/ and click either the Download Free Version button or the Buy Now Full Version button.
If you've opted for the free version, you'll be taken to a download site; click the Download Now button. (Your browser may try to "protect" you by disallowing certain downloads, in which case simply OK the download.) When the File Download dialog box appears, click the Save button. Save the installation file to your Desktop; you can erase the file after the program is installed. The Anti-malw*re installer is close to 6MB, so it may take several minutes to download on a slow connection.
Once the installer is downloaded, double-click it and click the Run button when the Open File/Security Warning dialog box apppears. Windows Vista and Windows 7 request permission for the installer to make changes to your system; click Yes. Select English as the appropriate language and then click OK to start the Anti-malw*re setup wizard. Click Next. Read and accept the Anti-malw*re license agreement, and then click Next and Next again. Accept the program's default location or browse to a different one; click Next to accept the location and then Next again to accept the folder name. At this point you can opt to have the installer create a Desktop icon, a Quick Launch icon, or both; having done so, click Next and then the Install button.
Anti-malw*re takes only a minute or two to install. When it's finished, you can opt to check for program updates and then launch the program.
To run the program, double-click the Anti-malw*re icon. (Vista and Win7 may ask you to confirm that you wish to allow the program to make changes to your system.) When the program launches, you'll see several tabs, most of which are self-explanatory or easily understood simply by clicking them. The most important are the Scanner, Update, and Quarantine tabs.
Start the scan. Under the Scanner tab, you'll find three types of scans: Perform Quick Scan, Perform A Full Scan, and Perform Flash Scan. (The latter checks memory and autorun objects; it's available only to users of the commercial product.) The Quick Scan is a fast check of memory and the Windows Registry; it takes several minutes. A Full Scan is a complete examination of all indicated drives, system memory, and the Registry. It can easily take up to an hour or more, depending on the size of your drives and how many files reside on them.
View the results of a scan. Once the scan is complete, you can see a recap of the scan and the results by clicking the Logs tab and then double-clicking the appropriate log entry.
If Anti-malw*re finds any threats, it will list them and let you select and quarantine them. Once quarantined, they'll be listed under the Quarantine tab. You can leave them there or select one or more and click the Delete button to remove them from your system.
Get It. Update It. Use It.
There are plenty of free and commercial products to help keep your PC free of viruses and spyware. No matter which ones you decide to use, keep in mind that simply downloading a tool does absolutely nothing for you. You have to install and then regularly use and update the utilities if you're to benefit from having them. Do so, and your computer will be full of peace and love and goodness. Fail to do so, and it'll be full of... well, malw*re.
by Rod Scher
Monday, August 2, 2010
Daves Computer Tips
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