Thursday, January 13, 2011

CFS Weekly Newsletter #566

CFS Weekly Newsletter #566

3D Ant Attack v1.02 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
3D Ant Attack is a retro arcade game where you rescue people from a 3D city swarming with giant ants. It features challenging gameplay, simple 3D graphics, multiple camera views, multiple color schemes, multiple screen resolutions (including widescreen), and more. This is a remake of the classic 1983 Sinclair ZX Spectrum arcade game of the same name which was seen at that time as a breakthrough in 3D graphics. 3D Ant Attack is much harder to play than its simple graphics might indicate. You have to wend your way through a city infested with these giant ants, rescuing people as you go. As you progress through the game the people you save are harder to find. You can use a grenade to stun or kill the ants, or you can jump on them to stun them long enough to get to the next place of safety. Controls are simple, with the arrow keys for movement, the spacebar to jump, and the right Ctrl key to throw grenades. When throwing grenades, the distance they travel equates to how long you hold down the Ctrl key before releasing. Release too soon and the grenade will fall short and kill you. You will also get killed if the ants bite you often enough -- and you will become ant food. Even though this is a relatively faithful reproduction of this old game, 3D Ant Attack holds up well today. What it lacks in fancy eye candy it makes up for in challenge, and this is one remake that is very much still playable today by people who never played the original (unlike many remakes that rely on nostalgia for their popularity). 3D Ant Attack is a great way to kill an hour or three. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 5.73MB download from:

Easy Image Modifier v3.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Easy Image Modifier is a batch photo editor. It processes single images or entire folders, supports common image formats (JPG, BMP & PNG), offers basic image editing (resize, realign, change format, set watermark, rename, sort, resize unproportional, remove meta information, filter images, change file date, set JPG compression level, etc), and more. This is a simple photo editor which is designed for batch processing. It will resize all your images (optionally keeping the proportions correct), add a watermark, rotate images, and more. While Easy Image Modifier is not an alternative to Photoshop or other sophisticated image editors, for basic editing it is very good, and very fast. It supports three popular image formats, loading and saving to them, and converting between them. We also noticed that it processed GIF and TGA images too, but didn't allow you to save to those formats. The watermark feature was appreciated, but you could not change the opacity of the watermark, though you could change the location of the text, the font, and the font attributes (including color). While Easy Image Modifier is not designed to be a competitor to the commercial photo editors, as a batch image processor it works extremely well within its own limitations. Small, fast and efficient, Easy Image Modifier is worth having around for those quick batch jobs on your digital photos. We liked! Note we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 375k download from:

BitDefender Rescue CD -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
BitDefender Rescue CD is an ISO disk image that creates a bootable, Linux-based CD. It is designed to scan and disinfect all existing hard drives when the operating system is not working properly because of virus infections. The ISO image can also be mounted on a USB drive after following the instructions on the program's support page. Useful when virus infections have crippled your computer, this is a tool you will need to have downloaded before you have a problem. After the disk has been created, simply ensure that your computer will boot from your CD drive (this is set in the BIOS) and allow the computer to boot up using this Linux-based rescue disk. Once booted up, it will seek the internet to download the virus definitions, etc to be able to scan your computer. This is about a 15MB download. It will then scan your computer (all drives) and resolve any virus issues. While we were able to successfully boot up using BitDefender Rescue CD, we didn't have any virus activity that needed to be removed so we cannot comment on the value or otherwise of that part of the system. The Linux interface you see once the disk is booted up is very close to what you normally see with Windows, so most non-Linux users should have no trouble using this rescue CD. However, we suggest that, once the disk is created, a new user should boot into it and see what happens. You can stop the scan once it has started if you don't want to wait while it scans the entire computer. Once you have familiarized yourself with the disk you will feel more comfortable using it if there is a problem on your computer. The CD includes a few other tools, like a Web browser, but its primary task is to scan and clean your computer of malware. The biggest problem with BitDefender Rescue CD is that it needs an active Internet connection to get the updates, and there have been instances where it hasn't been able to access the network. This makes a pre-problem test all the more worthwhile. We were impressed with BitDefender Rescue CD. It is a large file to get, and you will have to burn the disk image onto a CD or DVD, but if you ever have problems with viruses (virii?) you will be pleased you took the trouble to be prepared. Grab a copy of BitDefender Rescue CD now! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 319MB download from:

SSDLife Free v1.0.12 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
SSDLife Free is a compact SSD (solid state drive) diagnostic tool. It displays general & technical information about an SSD, checks the SSD health status, displays a detailed on-line SSD health status report, and more. Unfortunately CFS was unable to review this program. The author says: "Today, more and more users decide to replace conventional hard drives in their desktop PCs and laptops with modern, silent and fast solid state drives (SSD). Since the price of these new devices is still rather high and they are often used for storing sensitive data, regular checks of the status of these drives can be an efficient means of early problem detection and can prevent potential data loss. Among all other disk management tools, there are specialized applications that are created specifically for SSD devices and support the majority of controllers and storage devices available on the market. If you take SSD's seriously and have already replaced conventional hard drives with SSD units, don't forget that their life expectancy is considerably shorter than that of regular hard drives. The age of these devices is relatively short and you should be financially and organizationally ready to replace them when the time comes." There is a Pro version and a Free version of this product. The author says: "The main feature of the paid version is the possibility to run disk checks (scheduled) in the background mode, display detailed information about SMART attributes and tweak the system for use with SSD drives." If you have a solid state drive (SSD) then grab a copy of SSDLife Free. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 1.55MB download from:

Hewbo Video Converter v1.50 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Hewbo Video Converter is a tool that converts videos to AVI, DivX AVI, XviD AVI, 3GP, 3G2, MP4, WMV, MKV, TS, FLV, SWF, MOV, GIF, MP3, MP2, OGG, WMA, WAV, AAC, AC3, AU, MMF & M4A formats, as used on iPhone, iPod, iPad, Apple TV, Android devices, PSP, PS3, XBOX360, ZUNE, Nokia, BlackBerry, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, LG, Samsung, Blu-ray disc, NTSC DVD, PAL DVD, and more. This is a video to video (and audio) converter that covers virtually every filetype you can imagine. It will even convert a DVD's VOB file to any of the supported formats, though most movies have multiple VOB files (usually of 1GB each) so you might have to convert them separately and then combine them using a video editor. Hewbo Video Converter is extremely simple to use, and is suitable for both novice and experienced PC users. We had a couple of issues with Hewbo Video Converter. We assume that you must have all the appropriate codec library (like K-Lite) preloaded on your computer to attain the full range of
supported conversions. This is not outlined within the program, or on the author's Website. However, some codecs are included with the program, and some come with Windows, so most basic conversions should be covered. We were also disappointed in the consistent nagscreen for you to register (and pay) for the Pro version. Apart from the nagscreen, we could not find any restriction in the use of the free version, even though the nagscreen says that registering will: "Remove all limitations of free version." Maybe that is talking about the lack of batch processing... With its bland interface, a lack of any real information, and the annoying nagscreen, we didn't want to like Hewbo Video Converter. However, it works so well, and is so simple to use, it is hard to dislike. If you don't mind being nagged, and not being able to carry out batch processing, you will find Hewbo Video Converter an excellent conversion tool. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 3.55MB download from:

KeepNote v0.6.5 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
KeepNote is a note taking application that stores all types of notes. It features rich-text formatting, you can include images, it uses an hierarchical organization for notes, it offers a full-text search, you can add an integrated screenshot & file attachments, it offers backup & restore, auto-saving, and more. This is a great way of storing class notes, TODO lists, research notes, journal entries, paper outlines, etc. Using an hierarchical system, you can sort your notes easily, but still find what you are looking for quickly using the search function. You can add a screenshot to your notes, add highlighting to the text, and even share your notes with users of KeepNote using other operating systems (Linux & MacOSX) as notes are implemented in Python and PyGTK. You can also archive your notes to a ZIP file. One of the better hierarchical notetakers, KeepNote is worth a look. Check it out now! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 7.43MB download from:

Tapin Radio v1.20 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Tapin Radio is an Internet radio station player. It features over 10,000 preset stations sorted by country & genre, includes worldwide air traffic control & rail radio traffic transmissions, you can record the active station (including separate song files), save stations as Favorites, it supports most Internet radio formats (MP3, WMA, OGG, AAC+, etc), there are regular station preset updates, and more. This is a great way of accessing radio stations from around the world -- and even recording their output. It offers over 60 categories of station (genres), each sorted by country, and a growing list of Internet radio stations. You can also listen to many air traffic control transmissions from around the world. To make it even better, it can record individual song tracks, automatically separating them. Cool. Sound quality is generally excellent, though this does depend on the quality of the transmitted audio of the individual station. While the interface is a little bland, it is very functional and the program can be minimized to the tray and run in the background. We were impressed with Tapin Radio. The navigation is a little clumsy but you can easily select the station you wish to hear and even save it as a Favorite for fast access next time. If you enjoy listening to the radio through your computer then grab a copy of Tapin Radio. We liked! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 7.70MB download from:

Mudding Racer v1.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (4 doves)
Mudding Racer is a top-down, dirt track, 4x4 racing game. It features an intelligent opposition that is able to recover from scuffles with greater ease & get back onto the course, improved physics, customizable 4x4, and more. In Mudding Racer you use the arrow keys to move your vehicle -- up/down for forward and reverse, left/right for steering. You play the game looking down on a very bland track with some straights and a few hair-pin bends. Because you are trying to control your 4x4 with the arrow keys from a different perspective it is awkward to play. Combined with boring scenery and childish vehicles, Mudding Racer is not a game that will bring you back to play it again unless you have masochistic tendencies. We don't, so we were happy to uninstall Mudding Racer from our computer. Save your download bandwidth for a better racing game (of which there are many!). Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 2.50MB download from:

from Dr T --

I would like to remove some programs from my computer, but when I go to the Add/Remove Programs section of the Control Panel, the Change/Remove button that's normally there is missing. What can I do to get it back so I can get these programs uninstalled from my PC? Any help you have would be greatly appreciated!

Wow, that has to be so frustrating! I have to admit that I have never had this happen to me before. (On another note, I also have to admit that I don't go through and remove my programs like I should sometimes. Shhh! Don't tell on me!) Either way, I still feel your pain with this one and after a little research, I was able to find a quick fix for this. Let's check it out, shall we?!

First of all, if some of you aren't quite sure what I'm talking about, go to Start, Control Panel and select the Add/Remove Programs link. There you will see a list of all the programs you have installed on your computer. If you run down through that list and highlight your programs, there should be a Change/Remove button for each of those applications. With that button, you can control all that you do with your programs.
You can either change them or completely remove them from your computer. So, as you can see, if that button isn't there, all your control is gone and that is what's ailing the person who asked today's question. With all that said, let's get on with the show!
Warning: For this tip, you will be working in your Registry Editor, so before you begin, make sure you're comfortable using it. The Registry Editor is not a tool to just play around with. If you make a mistake, you could risk messing up other parts of your computer and so on. If you're not 100 percent sure you can do this, please ask someone who is for some help.

When you're ready, just simply follow these steps to get your Change/Remove buttons back:

1.) Go to Start, Run and type "regedit" (without the quotes) into the box. Click OK and the Registry Editor will open for you.

2.) Then navigate to this location: "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\<Program Name>." (Note: for the program name, you'll want to look for the program you want to remove from your computer).

3.) In the right pane, double click the NoRemove choice (REG_DWORD) and set the value to 0 (zero). If it happens to be set to 1, the Remove button will not be available.

4.) Back in the right pane, double click the NoModify option (REG_DWORD) and set it to 0 (zero) as well. If this happens to be set to 1, the Change button will not be available.
Now, you will need to do this for each program you want to remove, but once you change those two values, click OK and close everything else out. Then go back to the Control Panel and look through your list of programs.
All of the Change/Remove buttons should be back for you and you can then continue removing all those unnecessary programs from your computer. No more missing buttons. Oh yeah!

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Daves Computer Tips


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