Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Freeware from

   Space Fights v2.0 -- Win9x/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Space Fights is a space shooter where you must destroy waves of alien attackers. It features 9 bonuses to collect, it has multiple levels, good animated graphics & sound effects, keyboard & mouse control, there is fullscreen & windowed modes, it has light-hearted background music, and more. In the style of Space Invaders, Space Fights is a 21st Century take on the old classic shooter. It boasts good animated graphics and lots of bonuses to collect. You are faced with a huge number of alien invaders, plus a number of asteroids. Controls are best used on the mouse where the left mouse button fires the primary weapon and the right mouse button fires a secondary weapon. The ship itself is moved with the mouse. The bonuses are: Armor; Ionic Gun; Missiles; Life; Laser Gun; Mega-Skull; Energy; Plasma Gun; and Mega-Bomb. While this is not the most spectacular space shooter available, never-the-less Space Fights is lots of fun to play and is surprisingly addictive. We loved! CFS membe
rs can get this 2.41MB download from:


               DPWipe v1.1 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
DPWipe is a small utility that securely deletes files and folders. It features 7 different deletion methods (overwrite with zeros or pseudorandom data, RCMP DSX 3x overwrite, DoD 5220.22 compliant 3x & 7x overwrite, & Gutmann's 35-pass wiping method), files & folders are added via drag 'n drop, it includes HTML Helpfiles in English & German, and more. This is an awesome way of securely deleting sensitive data. Deletion methods vary from the most basic single overwrite with zeros, to the 35-pass Gutmann's Maximum Security for the most paranoid user. For the average user either of the triple pass methods should be more than sufficient to prevent unauthorized access to your information but, if you are even slightly paranoid, the US Department of Defense 7x method should suffice. If you are seriously paranoid then Gutmann's Maximum Security is for you. We were most impressed with DPWipe. It offers a level of data deletion security that should suit all users. It is easy to use and
 fast in operation. A "must have" for your utility toolbox. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 421kB download from:

               Stellarium -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Stellarium is a real time, 3D photo-realistic virtual planetarium. It features a catalog of over 600,000 stars, it displays constellations, has a powerful zoom, offers time control, fisheye projection, telescope control, displays equatorial & azimuthal grids, shooting stars, eclipse simulation, skinnable landscapes, it is highly customizable, and more. If you have ever looked up at the heavens and wondered what is up there then Stellarium is for you. It offers so many functions that you could spend a month just learning them all. It can be used like a telescope, or you can use it to create  a spheric mirror projection for your own dome. If you want information about stars or planets it is all there, and you can set it for any location in the world you want. There are add-ons and plug-ins you can get for this program that enhance it even further. Words cannot express the awesome wonder of your own glimpse into outer space through Stellarium -- with you in full control. Stellar
ium is impressive from all angles. It did everything demanded of it, and did it easily. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 43.4MB download from:

               Broken Shortcut Fixer v1.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Broken Shortcut Fixer is a tool that removes or repairs broken shortcuts. It features a one-click scan for each drive, displays location information about the broken shortcut, no installation is required, it is simple to use, and more. This is a great way of locating, and removing, broken shortcuts. Nominate the drive, click on the scan button and, a few seconds later, you will be prompted to delete any broken links found. These links are deleted to the Recycle Bin so they are recoverable, if required, until you decide to empty the Recycle Bin. The only aspect of this program we didn't like was the requirement to scan each drive separately -- we have five partitions on our hard drive and each one had to be scanned individually. However, because Broken Shortcut Fixer is so fast, this was not onerous. Without needing to be installed, Broken Shortcut Fixer is fully portable and can be run from a USB pen drive if required. We liked! Note: we have been advised that this program is
 not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 1.02MB download from:

               LightMan Player v1.1.0.0 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (4 doves)
LightMan Player is a multimedia player for video, audio and images. It supports all popular media formats, includes standard audio playback functions, offers playlist support, plays single files or the contents of a folder, offers fullscreen & windowed modes, built-in codecs, and more. LightMan Player is a standard multimedia player that is reported to play most popular file formats. It will play your MP3s, your videos and even display your images. Codecs are added when you install the program and the player does what is expected of it, most of the time. Having successfully opened AVI and WMV videos, we tried to open an FLV file and the program locked up. We re-installed it a number of times, even re-booted the computer, but from that point on we could not get it to work again! We are assuming that there was a conflict with this particular video file (which plays normally in other programs) but we could not remove it from the list so every time the program was opened (even af
ter a re-install) it fell foul of this video file which still appeared in its playlist. We even spent quite some time trying to clean out Registry entries, etc to remove the listing for this file but were unsuccessful. Aaaarrrggghhh!!! LightMan Player might work well for you but we can only base our review on what we found, so this is not a program we can recommend. Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 6.09MB download from:

               TetraEdit v3.24 -- Win9x/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
TetraEdit is a tabbed RTF editor with multimedia and Internet functions. It features a spell checker (external on-line source), autocorrect, opens TXT docs, has its own image viewer, music player, video player, SWF player, Internet browser (IE-based), VBScript controller, skin maker (3 skins included), RSS reader, and more. This is an unusual, multifunctional program that presents as an RTF text editor which can also play many multimedia sources, and is also a Web browser. You can select from nine different on-line dictionary sources (Google Definitions, Merriam-Webster, Cambridge,, etc) and three different on-line thesaurus sources. Results are displayed in a side window. TetraEdit can even create and playback macros. It can also play M3U audio playlists, and a wide selection of video formats including SWF Flash files. TetraEdit includes its own skin maker, and RSS reader and a VBScript controller. There are two major problems with TetraEdit. The first is that
 it tries to be all things to all people, and never quite succeeds as successfully as a top-line dedicated tool. The second is that the author's site has disappeared and this has caused some minor problems with the program automatically looking for updates (obviously not now available). In spite of its shortcomings, TetraEdit is a great multifunctional RTF text editor. We liked! CFS members can get this 6.41MB download from:

               TdhCad v11.01.02 -- WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
TdhCad is a simplified 2D vector graphics editor. It creates entities of many shapes, you can move/rotate/resize entities, move points to reshape entities, create groups containing entities & other groups, create paths containing lines & curves, copy 'n paste entire entities or points between entities, change properties, apply color gradients to entities & groups, add a note to any entity, use any number of layers, merge drawings, export drawings to SVG/PNG/PDF formats, save drawings within project databases, it includes a 12 page user's manual, and more. If you are looking for a basic vector drawing editor then TdhCad is probably exactly what you want. While it uses the term "CAD" in its title, it is not a typical CAD program that can create 3D ray-traced graphics -- this use of the term CAD is basic, computer aided design. It may lack some of the bells and whistles of other vector drawing programs but TdhCad is surprisingly powerful within its own right, and includes a 12-p
age PDF Helpfile. It offers layers and other fancy tools, but lacks a toolbar which means that you must squirrel down through menus to find what you are looking for. Even the most basic toolbar would enhance TdhCad enormously. If you create vector drawings but don't want to use a massive, and complex, tool that has all the bells and whistles you may never need, then grab a copy of TdhCad. Like us, you may be pleasantly surprised at this unpretentious program. We loved! Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95, 98 or ME. Access this 7.27MB download from:

               Balancing Building v1.0 -- Win98/ME/WinXP/Vista/Win7 (5 doves)
Balancing Building is a construction-themed balancing game where you must build a structure that doesn't topple. It features 20 progressively harder levels, uses real-time physics, has excellent animated graphics, addictive gameplay, background music, and more. This is a fun way to kill an hour or two. In this Tetris-like puzzle, you must build a structure that doesn't topple using different shapes provided by the game. Like Tetris, there is a next piece notification so you know what is next but, in many ways, this is more challenging (and more fun!) than Tetris. Pieces must be carefully placed (never dropped!) within the allotted timespan and you must use them to build a strong structure that won't topple. You can rotate pieces using the left mouse button, and you also use the mouse to position the piece in your structure. The first level requires 11 pieces to be placed, but this rises to 30 on level 20 (an extra piece added for each level). It starts with 5 different shaped
 pieces rising to 9 on level 20, and you must complete a level before embarking on the next level. Confused? It really is easy to play, just hard to win. Balancing Building can suck the hours out of you faster than you'll probably admit, and we feel it should contain a label: "Warning: this game is highly addictive! Set a time limit before you start." In case you hadn't already realized it, we loved Balancing Building. Now go away so we can play another level... Note: we have been advised that this program is not suitable for Windows 95. Access this 4.83MB download from:


Free Window Registry Repair -- an easy-to-use, one-button Registry cleaning tool -- has been updated to version 2.5 with a new download size of 780kB. The author advises that this version adds some ignore keys, plus bug fixes and stability improvements. Grab a copy of this excellent program from:

Extra DVD Copy Free -- a tool that copies unprotected DVD movies to DVD-9 (dual layer), DVD-5 (single layer) or hard disk -- has been updated to version 7.02 with a size of 1.83MB. The author has not advised the changes in this version. Get this updated version from:

Windows 7 Tweaker -- a System tuneup & tweaking tool -- has been updated to version 3.6 with a new download size of 3.58MB. The author advises that changes in this version are mainly bugfixes. Access this great tweaker from:

HDClone (Free Edition) -- a tool for moving contents of entire hard disk drives onto bigger ones -- has been updated to version 4.0.2 with a new download size of 11.3MB. The author advises that changes in this version include: a new, task oriented user interface; and fixed problems with partition size adjustment. Access this latest version from:

from Dr T --

=: Calling For Computer Help :=

Sometimes the pleasure of owning a computer is overshadowed by the need to ask for assistance with a computer issue. Calling for technical support does not have to be an unpleasant experience. Preparing yourself before you make that call, and knowing what to expect while talking to support representatives, can help ease the way.

1. Before you pick up the phone, have as much information at hand as possible. Any product serial numbers should be within easy reach and be prepared to answer these questions:

What version of Windows are you using?

What, if any, changes did you make to your system before the problem occurred? Include both hardware and software changes, and be honest!

What is the exact wording of any error message you receive?

What steps have you taken to try to resolve the issue on your own?

2. Make your call to tech support when you are relatively free from distractions. Being able to focus on what is discussed will go a long way to aiding both you and the tech you are talking to. Do not yell, insult or use profanity no matter how frustrated you are. Most companies advise their techs to hang up on any caller using abusive language. No matter how frustrated you are at the hold time before your call is answered, remember that the tech you are talking to was helping someone else, not ignoring you.

3. Be prepared to verify your address, phone number and even your e-mail address before moving on to your issue. The technician is not being nosy by asking, but rather doing their job. After all, verifying your statistics ensures that your computer is still in your hands and not those of a thief. Many companies require techs to log all calls. If you have called for support before, your statistics may be used to bring up your records and help the technician deal with your issue. Also, if you are using e-mail support, make sure your e-mail address is correct and complete. Otherwise, the tech won't be able to get ahold of you.

4. Be frank about your level of computer expertise. Support technicians talk to customers with vast differences in their skill levels, from the beginner to the expert. If the tech is moving too fast, ask them to slow down. If you don't understand something, ask them to clarify. Don't be embarrassed to admit you are in unfamiliar territory. Likewise, try not to second guess where the tech is leading you and jump ahead. Working together is the surest way to a resolution.

5. Listen carefully to everything the tech is telling you. Most techs have a wealth of knowledge they are more than willing to share with attentive callers.

6. Stick to the subject. Unless you are involved in a long procedure with lots of down time such as a complete Windows reinstall, avoid chit chat. There are many other people waiting to have their call answered (just as you were) and while you may not be working, the tech is.

7. Make sure you get all the help you need. If you have called for assistance with installing hardware, the technician should also help you install the drivers for that hardware. If you have more than one question, jot them down ahead of time so you don't forget them and have to call back.

8. Don't ask your support person to do something that is not their job. For instance, if you have called your computer manufacturer for assistance, don't also ask them to help you with an AOL problem. If you have called for help with installing software, remember it is not the technician's job to train you on that as well.

9. If your computer issue can not be resolved with one phone call, ask the technician to take ownership of it. Many techs are willing to go the extra mile for a friendly customer and will research your problem, then get back to you when they have the solution.

10. Say thank you. Support technicians are people too! If your tech has done an especially good job or kind act, ask if you can send an e-mail to their supervisor to express your appreciation, and then follow through.

Having to call for support on today's technology will probably never be a truly pleasant experience, but it doesn't have to be a painful one either. Don't be intimidated. Being prepared for the call and knowing what to expect ahead of time will make it easier for you and the technician on the phone. And you might just learn a tip or two along the way!

[Source: JoAnn Sommer]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gizmo's Tech Treats: April 10 -19, 2011 Summary

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 09:38 AM PDT
Undoing an accidental delete.. Last week I had a client who had somehow or another deleted some Quick Launch shortcuts, and – now – wanted them back: most notably, the “Show Desktop” icon. (“Quick Launch” are the “shortcuts” [icons] next to the Start button, on the left of your Taskbar.) Turns out they missed the [...]

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 02:43 PM PDT

Posted: 15 Apr 2011 05:32 PM PDT

Posted: 15 Apr 2011 08:23 AM PDT
Today a few “quick tips” for you on this TGIF. QT#1: Quick Tip One is a “keyboard shortcut”: You can quickly change the size of the icons on your Desktop by holding down the Ctrl key and scrolling your mouse wheel. Scroll forward to shrink them (to make room for more, maybe) or scroll back [...]

Daves Computer Tips


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