Alien Arena v7.45 -- Win9x/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Alien Arena is a multiplayer on-line deathmatch & stand-alone first-person shooter that combines a 1950s-era sci-fi atmosphere with gameplay similar to Quake. It features 3 levels of difficulty (single player mode), over 60 levels, 9 weapons (with alt-fire modes), 6 player characters, mutaters, 6 game play modes, in-game server browser, IRC client, excellent graphics, great sound effects, and more. This shooter rocks! With a similar 3D look 'n feel to Quake II, and old fashioned 1950s-style sci fi imagery, Alien Arena can either be played on-line as a deathmatch game or in single player mode. In single player mode it is fast action, with aliens attacking from all directions. Many times you only know they are there because you die. Graphics are fun, with "Mars Attacks!" style aliens waiting to take you out. While we didn't play Alien Arena in on-line deathmatch mode, the single player mode is superb, and quite challenging, specially on the higher levels of difficulty. Most Quake II trickjumps, such as strafejumping, will work in Alien Arena. If you love 3D corridor-style first person shooters then Alien Arena is a "must have". A sensational shooter! Access this 263MB download from:
Boxoft PDF to Word v1.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Boxoft PDF to Word is a tool that converts Adobe PDF files to well-formatted Microsoft Word documents (compatible with Word 97 or later). It converts encrypted PDF files, it does not require Word or Adobe Acrobat to be installed on your computer, it can batch convert up to 200 PDF files, there is a Hot Directories mode, and more. This is an excellent way of converting PDF documents into Word DOC files that can be read by virtually all versions of MS Word (including Word 6.0, Word 97 and WordPad). The quality of the result depends on the amount of text and images in the original PDF file, but we were extremely impressed with this program when documents containing lots of text were converted. Because Boxoft PDF to Word is compatible with earlier versions of MS Word, what it lacks in layout ability it makes up by having output that is able to be read by a huge number of word processors, not just MS Word. It includes the Hot Directories mode which will monitor a location. Minimized to a tray icon, it works quietly in the background, automatically converting any PDF files placed in that location. If you want to convert PDF files to an editable file format, then Boxoft PDF to Word should be very high on your list of programs to use. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 1.75MB download from:
BitDefender Free Edition -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
BitDefender Free Edition is an on-demand virus scanner, best used in a system recovery or forensics role. It features virus scanning & removal, scheduled & immediate scanning, quarantine for infected files, reports (includes statistics about the scan process), integrates into the right-click Explorer context menu, a skinnable interface, and more. Unfortunately CFS was unable to review this program. The author says: "BitDefender Free Edition is your chance to use one of the world's most effective antivirus engines for free! BitDefender Free Edition uses the same ICSA Labs certified scanning engines found in other BitDefender products, allowing you to enjoy basic virus protection for no cost at all. BitDefender Free Edition is an on-demand virus scanner, which is best used in a system recovery or forensics role." The author also says that "By isolating the infected files in quarantine, the risk of getting infected diminishes. You also have the possibility to send these files for further analysis to BitDefender Labs". It should be noted that this version does not offer real-time protection against viruses. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 58.4MB download from:
Sofonesia Image Watermark v1.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (4 doves)
Sofonesia Image Watermark is a program that adds watermark text to an image to protect it from being mis-used. It supports all popular image formats (JPG, BMP, PNG, TIF, EMF, WMF & EXIF), offers control over the look 'n feel of text (font, size, color, opacity, etc), you have control over the text position, and more. Adding a watermark to your images, specially if they are being posted on-line (for example, in your blog), is a good idea because people do copy many images for their own purposes. A watermark gives you an ownership of an image that is otherwise almost impossible to achieve. While Sofonesia Image Watermark does add a text-based watermark to your images, it is not very attractive and you cannot embed an image. Control over the placement of the text is not easy as the text seem to have a mind of its own if you click on the "Set" button. If you skip that stage then it does save your text where you positioned it. The only option for saving an image is the format in w
hich it was opened -- Sofonesia Image Watermark cannot save image to another format. If you want to add some text to your images, and you don't mind spending some time to get it exactly right, then give Sofonesia Image Watermark a look. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 444kB download from:
PlayPad Digital Audio Player v1.12 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
PlayPad Digital Audio Player is an audio player. It supports all popular audio formats (MP3, WAV, WMA, M4A, VOX, GSM, RA, RAM, AU, AIF, FLAC, OGG, etc), offers playlist support (create & import), minimizes to the tray, track shuffle & repeat, drag 'n drop, and more. This is an excellent audio player for most audio files, though it doesn't play audio CDs (CDA). With playlist support you can import existing playlists, or create your own, and it can show or hide the library panel. Best of all it can minimize to the tray so that it can play in the background while you do other things on the computer. It offers all the regular functions, like track shuffle, repeat, pause, skip forward or back, etc. Unfortunately PlayPad Digital Audio Player lacks a good Helpfile. While the assistance available is poor, most people shouldn't need much help as it really is easy to use. Included with this program are button links to the author's other software for ripping and burning CDs, etc, but these are not free. One of the best audio players we have seen, PlayPad Digital Audio Player lacks only the ability to play audio CDs. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 278kB download from:
Gadget Gerz Clock v2.4 -- Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Gadget Gerz Clock is a screensaver displaying a desktop clock and calendar. It features a choice of over 35 clock styles, 4 calendar styles, weather for selected cities (mainly European), RSS feeds, reminder messages, it is highly configurable, and more. This is a nice screensaver with a functional clock and calendar face. Some features, like the weather information, might have limited appeal due to the lack of cities represented, but the message reminder is a great feature that many will find valuable. With a good selection of clock styles (both analog and digital) and the inclusion of a calendar on the screen, Gadget Gerz Clock is more than just a screensaver with a pretty face -- it has some value. Worth checking out if you like screensavers! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98, ME or XP. Access this 5.12MB download from:
Task Manager Fix v2.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Task Manager Fix is a small utility that restores the Windows' Task Manager after it has been disabled by malicious software (virus, trojans, spyware, etc). To prevent the user from closing it, some malware (malicious software) disable the Windows' Task Manager. This tool restores the functionality of the Task Manager so malicious software processes can be identified and killed. Hopefully, Task Manager Fix is not a utility that you would use often, but you will be thankful if it is needed and you have already installed a copy on your computer. We liked! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 76kB download from:
Magic Encyclopedia v1.0.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Magic Encyclopedia is a Hidden Object game where the pieces are used to solve cunning puzzles. It features over 25 levels with more than two dozen mini-games, there are hundreds of hidden objects to locate, it has stunning animated graphics, a tutorial, and more. This is a spectacular game with many types of puzzles and mini-games to solve, all the time finding objects hidden amongst the scenery. Some of the mini-games and puzzles are quite challenging, others are relatively simple, but Magic Encyclopedia is not a game you will play in 5 minutes. The game itself is reported to be 78MB, but you must first download a 720kB "helper" file that downloads and installs the Free Rides Games Player, another 7MB, before downloading the full game. Magic Encyclopedia includes advertising, similar to TV adverts, and this is annoying more than intrusive or malicious. Playing Magic Encyclopedia is fun. It presents some serious challenges in some areas, but other parts are easy. The animated graphics are sensational and, overall, we felt the game was worth the enormous bandwidth. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 78MB+ download from:
PNotes -- a light-weight, flexible, skinnable manager of virtual "sticky" notes -- has been updated to version 7.0.107 with a download size of 905kB. The author advises that changes in this version include: enhanced search; search for selected text on the Web; option to hide "X" (Delete) button on note; trimming spaces & tabs from new note's default name; ability to insert date/time stamp; downloadable help files; and some bug fixes. Access this updated version from:
Keyboard Indicator -- a set of 3 tray icons that indicate if the Caps Lock, Insert or Scroll Lock buttons are "on" -- has been updated to version 22.214.171.124 with a download size of 40kB. The author advises that changes in this version include: added more animations to choose from; added option for animation speed; and some bug fixes.This this latest version from:
Freecorder -- a video downloader, audio recorder & converter -- has been updated to version 4.1 with a download size of 10.4MB. The author advises that this version now saves videos as MP3 files with one button click, and that deleting stored videos frees more disk space. Access this latest version from:
COMPUTER TIP OF THE WEEK
from Dr T -- RTemlak4dds@aol.com
Q. What does streaming mean?
A: You may have seen the word streaming in various places. Streaming often has to do with audio and video formats, so if you deal a lot with music or video in your daily computing activities, you may run across streaming quite a bit.
Basically, streaming is when a multimedia file is able to be played back on your computer without it being fully downloaded. It takes quite a bit of time to download media files, so streaming comes in to help display the data before the full file is transmitted onto your computer. For streaming to run smoothly, the data must be able to be sent as a steady stream while converting it to either sound or picture. If the data goes too fast for what your system can handle, that's when buffering (http://www.worldstart.com/tips/tips.php/787) comes into play.
On the other hand, if the data is not processed quickly enough, the stream will not run smoothly and it may be choppy while you listen to it or view it. An example of streaming is when you go to one of your favorite music artist's Web sites and they have a sample of their new song for you to listen to. This would be a streaming file, because you never actually downloaded the song. The option on the Web site is just a way for you to hear part of the song, so you will be interested in getting the whole thing later on. Files from Real Audio (http://www.real.com/dmm/superpass/entertainment.html?src=cj&pcode=cj&cpath=aff&rsrc=aff) or QuickTime (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/win.html) are often streaming documents as well.
But, if you use shareware software from the Internet, or if you often download software updates, those are not streaming data, because you went through the complete download process of them for extended use.
SMILE OF THE WEEK
(contributions for this section are most welcome)
WHY A DOG CAN'T USE COMPUTERS
~ He's distracted by cats chasing his mouse.
~ SIT and STAY were hard enough; CUT and PASTE are out of the question.
~ Three words: carpal paw syndrome.
~ Involuntary tail wagging is a dead give-away that he's browsing www.alpo.com instead of working.
~ The fire hydrant icon is simply too frustrating.
~ He can't help attacking the screen when he hears "You've Got Mail."
~ It's too messy to "mark" every Website he visits.
~ He can't stick his head out of Windows 7.