All posts by Clif Sipe

Promoting Freeware and Free information since 2004. Owner of FreewareWiki.com with over 2000 pages of freebies. Please subscribe to my Google Feed or follow me on Twitter @clifnotes.

Freeware Fridays | Top Tools Of the Week #11

freeware-signIn case you haven’t seen them, here are the most recent posts in our Freeware category. We hope you enjoy reading about these freebies, and maybe you’ll find a keeper in the mix.

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Avast Free Antivirus is Updated to 5.0

Avast has released the new version 5 of their free Antivirus program. The new version looks very different, but it is still a great choice for home users. Check out the video.

iTunes 9.2 Software Update

iTunes 9.2 Available For Downloads

Apple has just released iTunes 9.2 through the software update as well as through the official iTunes download site.

flock_beta_chromium

Flock Dumps Mozilla Firefox for Chromium

Flock the popular social browser which earlier ran on the Firefox Gecko engine has dumped Mozilla for Chromium, the popular new browser which also powers Google Chrome. Read More | Tweet This

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Buzzbird Yet Another Cross Platform Twitter Client

Buzzbird is an open source MIT licensed Twitter client that helps you to stay updated with the service. Read More | Tweet This

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Desktop Clock 7 An Analogue Clock For Windows Desktop

Desktop Clock 7 is a free clock application that displays an analogue clock on your Windows desktop with a second’s hand and date on it.

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Opera 10.60 Beta 1 Released Speed, Geolocation, WebM and More

Opera 10.60 Beta introduces improved HTML5 and standards support along with numerous performance and visual improvements.

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Learn Languages and Create Your Own Tests with EasyWords

When I was in school, we never had cool programs like this to help us learn. If you are a teacher, or you simply want to learn something new, check out EasyWords.

Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 the best security solution??

Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 might be the best security solution available right now and it is also free

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Read e-Books on Your PC, iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac or BlackBerry with Kindle Apps

If you don’t have a Kindle to read books from Amazon, here are some free Kindle reader apps that will let you shop and read on your favorite computer or mobile device.

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JBS Wallpaper Switcher Better than the one in Windows 7

If you get tired of seeing the same of wallpapers on your Windows desktop, John’s Background Switcher may be the best solution for you.

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How to Open and Use Windows 7 Themes in Windows XP

Are you using Windows XP? Have you ever seen a cool wallpaper in a Windows 7 theme that you’d love to have? There’s a simple way to grab those files … and I’ll show it to you.

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View FLV and MP4 Videos with Wimpy FLV Player

Do you need to watch FLV or MP4 videos from Youtube? There’s no need to install QuickTime or some other large viewer. I’ll show you a small, stand-alone player.

Firefox Nightly Build Gets WebM Support

Firefox Nightly Builds are set to get WebM support to watch the WebM coded videos in the browser. WebM is a new codec which will be used by Google Chrome, Opera and Firefox.

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How to Lock Windows Keyboard and Mouse

You can use kidkeylock a simple utility to lock Windows Keyboard and mouse. This is useful when you want to deactivate the keyboard and mouse functions without logging off from the system

Converter Setup

How to Convert Flac files to MP3

Easily convert heavy Flac files to small-size mp3 files that you can effortlessly sync to music players and iPods.

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How to Copy DVDs the Right Way with DVDShrink

I’ve used DVDShrink for years, but I never did know the finer points to using it. Fortunately, I know someone who knows many tricks for using this freeware.

Be sure to let us know if you have a favorite freebie you’d like to see posted here. Our comments (below) are always open to you.

Avast Free Antivirus is Updated to 5.0

shield-green-check-ico [Windows XP, Vista, 7] Back in 2004, I was a happy AVG Antivirus user. One day I heard a false rumor that AVG was going to end support for their free version. I searched around for a good replacement and decided to try Avast Home Edition (version 4). Here is what it looked like at that time.

avast-4

It looked like an audio player. I thought it was kind of cool, but many people thought it was a little childish. In any case, I used it for several months and was happy with it.

Now there’s a new version of Avast available. It’s been renamed to Avast Free Antivirusat version 5. Since the days I used it, there have been some drastic changes to the look and feel of the application. One thing that has not changed is it’s high ratings in effectiveness and it’s reasonable system requirements.

Version 4.8 of Avast was roughly a 40mb download and the new version 5 is around 50mb. So, it has apparently gained some weight. Whether or not this has slowed it down, has yet to be independently determined, as far as I know.

To see what the new interface of Avast Free Antivirus looks like, check out this video from CNet.

Link to video (if you can’t see it above)

Avast has over 100 million users, and late last year, they teamed up with Google Chrome. It looks like Google trusts Avast for Windows PCs. However, Google also mistrusts Windows and has decided to stop using Windows in it’s own offices.

The only things that this free version does not have, that their paid version has, is a Firewall, spam shield, script protection and a sandbox test. If you would like a free suite of Antivirus/Anti-malware tools and a Firewall, you may want to take a look at Microsoft Security Essentials. Many people believe that Microsoft’s offering provides a more complete protection solution.

Seth Rosenblatt, at Download.com, was impressed with the new Avast 5 and gave it a 5 star rating. The general user rating there is 4.5 stars, which is quite good.

Download Avast 5 from Download.com

Download Avast 5 from Avast.com

Download older 4.x versions of Avast

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I have not tried the new version, but I have used Avast many times over the last 6 years. I never found anything to complain about and I trust this company. I will not hesitate to give Avast Free Antivirus a thumbs up.

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Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5

Learn Languages and Create Your Own Tests with EasyWords

apple [Windows] The other day I spotted this cool app at Snapfiles and I just had to try it out. I’m always looking for good free educational software.

According to the authors:

EasyWords is a free software that helps you memorize words very easily while learning a new language. The program asks you several questions while you spend your time by your pc, and teaches you the right answer if your answer is incorrect.

The software isn’t a big download and should work in XP, Vista and 7. However, it does require .NET Framework 3.5 to run. The installation is simple and does not require any personal information. Once it’s installed and it runs the first time, you will be asked to set the language that you wish to use (as shown below).

easywords-1st-run

Next you’ll be prompted to either choose a dictionary or create one.

easywords-prompt-for-dictionary

easywords-select-library

I decided to use one of the dictionaries that comes with it by clicking the Browsebutton.

easywords-library-list

easywords-english-german-libraries

I chose to try one of the German dictionaries to see how well I would do during the testing. After I selected a dictionary, I had to confirm the settings by saving them. At this point you should note that you can make EasyWords run when you start Windows each time. If you are serious about learning, you might want to consider letting it do that.

easywords-save-settings

In the settings, I had chosen to have EasyWords ask me a multiple-choice question every three minutes. Just below is an example of a question that popped up.

easywords-question-1

When you get a wrong answer, it will show you the correct answer highlighted in green.

easywords-wrong-answer

After several questions, I was able to open the EasyWords main screen to see how well I had been doing. I don’t know German, and you can see that I didn’t do very well.

easywords-results

Even though I didn’t do so great, I’m sure that if I had this running every day, I’d definitely be picking up German pretty easily. After all, isn’t that why it’s called EasyWords?

Later, I decided to create my own dictionary, just for fun. Here’s what the dictionary creation interface looks like:

easywords-creating-word-matchups

Do you know the answer to this next question?

easywords-my-test-questions

Here’s a hint for you. Which language did I chose to add to the new dictionary?

pig caeser

Would you like to try EasyWords?

Download: http://www.easywords.eu

If you are interested in learning, take a look at some of our tutorials and how-to articles.


Techie Buzz Verdict:

I love EasyWords. It’s easy to use and it’s simple to adapt for other types of testing. I have a feeling that I’ll be getting plenty of use out of it. The only thing about it that I wasn’t pleased with, was the fact that it requires .NET Framework. Even after considering that, I will still give this educational app a well deserved thumbs up.

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Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)


Read e-Books on Your PC, iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac or BlackBerry with Kindle Apps

fbreader-iconMost of you would agree that Amazon.com is one of the best places to look for and buy new and used books. Amazon is also the force behind the Kindle, which is a well known e-book reader device.

kindle-at-amazon The combination of Amazon’s book selection, easy shopping and the Kindle are a nearly unbeatable trio that others have been trying to match for years. The Apple iPad may have a good chance of competing with them, but I’m guessing that the other vendors can only look on with envy and hope.

If you don’t have a Kindle, you don’t have to keep wishing you could read all of those books in an electronic format. Amazon offers free applications that allow you to download Amazon books and read them from your favorite device.

I’ll show you what the Kindle for PC application looks like.

  • If you have other devices such as an iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac or BlackBerry, see the download section of this post.

kindle-apps

A few months ago, I posted an article telling you how to Find and Read Tons of Free E-Books with FBReader. If all you need to do is read free e-books, that’s the application I would recommend for your PC. However, if you plan to do any shopping at Amazon for non-free books, you could install Kindle for PC and give it a try.

kindle-installer-icon

The Kindle app isn’t very large and doesn’t have a confusing set of features. It gives you easy access to the Kindle Store and also allows you to view many of the 1.8 million free e-books at archive.org.

After installing Kindle for PC, you will be prompted to either create an account at Amazon, or login with your existing account. Since I already had an account, it was simple for me to sign in. Here’s what the Kindle app looked like when I first launched it.

kindle-first-page

Since I hadn’t bought any books at Amazon, I used the Shop in Kindle Storebutton, which launched my web browser. I found and followed the links to the free books at archive.org.

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Once there, I found a book that I thought I might read.

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I chose the Kindle version of the book and downloaded it.

kindle-book-download-mobi-file

All I had to do was double click the book (.mobi file), and it instantly opened up in the Kindle application. As you can see below, it’s not a complicated interface and while you are reading, you can bookmark pages, highlight text and add notes. That’s everything you need while studying or writing. It also remembers where you were reading last and takes you to that section when you reopen the Kindle app.

kindle-highlight-and-notes

If you have other devices you’d like to read books on, you can also find Kindle readers for the iPad, iPhone, Mac, Android and BlackBerry.

If you have a Kindle device, these software versions may allow you to synchronize your e-books between the host device and the Kindle device. You may also want to look at our post telling you how to Copy (and convert) Books From PC to Amazon Kindle.

Do you want to try the Kindle reader apps?

Techie Buzz Verdict:

The free Kindle for PC is a pretty good e-book reader. It’s not fancy, and it will surely save you time if you like to shop for books at Amazon. The apps for other devices are probably just as useful, but you’ll have to judge for yourself unless you are willing to send me one of these devices.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5

JBS Wallpaper Switcher – Better than the one in Windows 7

display-ico [Windows Only] Those of you who are using Windows 7 may already be familiar with the awesome built in wallpaper (background) switcher. It allows you to choose a set of wallpapers and set them up so that they change at certain time intervals. You might want the wallpaper to change once a day or once every hour.

Actually, the only reason I call it an awesome feature is that it’s built right into the Windows settings. There have been third-party applications around, long before Win7, that allowed you to switch wallpapers as needed. Keith has written about one of them here.

Sometime after Keith wrote that piece, I saw a comment from one of our readers. Mitchell McKenna wrote: I recommend John’s Background Switcher. Let’s you bring in photos from facebook, picasa, etc. to use in backgrounds as well.

jbs34-backgrounds

I’ve taken a look at John’s Background Switcher (JBS for short), and I have to agree with Mitch. It’s far better than any wallpaper switcher I’ve tried before. Here’s a brief list of the functions in it.

You can choose to display:

  • Individual pictures on your computer.
  • Folders containing pictures on your computer such as My Pictures’.
  • Flickr photo sharing selecting pictures by person, tags, sets or just plain random. You never know what you’re going to get next!
  • Facebook your friends photos on your desktop!
  • Vladstudio wallpapers choose from the coolest wallpapers on the net!
  • Any Media RSS feed choose pictures from sites like DeviantArt, Photobucket,LOLCats and Zooomr amongst many others!
  • Phanfare web albums keep up to date with your friends and family.
  • smugmug photo galleries yours, your friends, anybody’s!
  • Picasa Web Albums choose from specific albums or any search text.
  • Webshots if you’re a Webshots user, you can choose from your online or downloaded photos and collections.
  • Google Image Search get pictures from anywhere across the internet.
  • Bing Image Search not a Google fanboy? Then Bing is for you!
  • Yahoo! image search the internet is your oyster!
  • Runs on 98, ME, XP, 2000, Vista, 7

When JBS is running, it will show as an icon in your system tray. To get to the settings, just right click on the icon. Here’s what the settings applet looks like:

jbs4-settings-dialog

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’d have to say that JBS is much better than the built in wallpaper switcher in Windows 7.

Check it out for yourself: Download John’s Background Switcher

Techie Buzz Verdict:

If you get tired of seeing the same old wallpapers on your Windows desktop, John’s Background Switcher may be the best solution for you. I have to rate it highly recommended, because I haven’t seen anything that does as much or does it any better.

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Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)


How to Open and Use Windows 7 Themes in Windows XP

monitor-colors-ico I have Windows 7 on one of my computers, however, I spend the majority of my time using Windows XP, both at home and at work. Recently, I saw a very nice Win7 theme and I wanted to use the wallpapers on my WinXP netbook. This made me dig into how Win7 themes are made and how they work.

You can find the official Windows 7 themes at Microsoft:

themepack-downloads

There are plenty of other places to get Windows 7 Themes, and we’ve written about some of them. As an example, let’s take a look at a theme we posted about recently.

Here’s the FIFA 2010 World Cup Windows 7 Theme by EA Sports.

When you download the theme in Windows XP, you’ll see that there is no program associated with it to open the file. So how can you open it up?

themepack-file

There are at least two ways, first lets try the easy method. Rename the file and add the extension .CAB to the end of it.

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Now you’ll see that Windows XP recognizes this file type (hopefully). Double click it and the CAB file will open in an Explorer window.

themepack-opened-as-cab

Copy the JPG files into your My Pictures folder or some other place and you can use them as wallpapers. Sometimes, there are also cursor and sound files that you can use if you wish. As far as I know, there isn’t much you can do with the THEME file you’ll find in a Windows 7 themepack.

If you can’t open up the CAB file because Windows doesn’t recognize it, you can use a third party program to open it. I recommend 7zip. Once it’s installed, you can right click on any themepack file and extract it to a local folder.

Now you know about as much as I do about Windows 7 themepack files. Be sure to tell me if you know a little bit more about these files that you think is useful. (comment below)


Webby Wednesday: Handy Home Page, Group Google Maps, Excellent E-Books

Welcome everyone to the Techie Buzz Webby Wednesday post. I’ll tell you about some of the very best sites on the net (in my opinion). Please accept my apology for posting this late in the day. It’s already Thursday in most places.

First lets start with a great Home page service, AllMyFaves.

A friend recently wrote to tell me about her new home page at All My Faves. I have to agree if you want a good place to start surfing, this is one. The first page tab alone has links to E-mail, Video, Maps, Search, News, Weather, Community, Shopping, Travel, Bestsellers, Banks, Finance, Sports, Magazines, Cellular, Info, Courier, Compare, Car Rental, Hotels, Brokers, Insurance, Jobs, Real Estate, Translation, Photo, Movies, Ent, Music, Web, Radio, Genealogy, Astrology, Dating, Wedding,   Chat, Blog, Voip, Instant Msg, Tech, Download, Humor, Gaming, Online Games, Games, Kids, Pets, Cars, Health, Seniors, Government, and Recipes.

Considering that there are nine tabs, with tons of links on each tab, you’ll be finding new stuff every day.

Go to http://allmyfaves.com

allmyfavs


Next, take a look at a service that let’s you share real world locations with your friends or a group. ZeeMaps is easy to use and it lets you and your members add location pins on a Google map. All you have to do is create a map and send a simple link to your group members. They won’t even have to register to add their own locations.

Go to http://www.zeemaps.com/

zeemaps-display


Lastly, I’ll tell you about one of my favorites, Free-eBooks. If you love to read, and you like free stuff, this should be one of your favorites too. Free-eBooks lets you download copies of free books to read. You will have to register an email address, and there’s also a limit on how many books you can download each month. However, it is free and I’m not complaining.

Go to http://www.free-ebooks.net

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Now it’s time to end the post, but I’ll send you off with a surprise video. Have a great day (or night).

Link to video


How to Copy DVDs the Right Way with DVDShrink

dvd-ico Have you ever heard of DVDShrink? It’s a freeware program that allows you to make backup copies of your movie DVDs. The shrinkpart of the name of this software is the real power behind it. Movies are usually distributed on dual layer DVDs, while most blank DVDs are only single layer. The DVDShrink program can allow you to shrink a dual layer movie onto a single layer blank disk. However, there are a few tricks you need to know if you want to do it the right way and get the best possible copy.

I’ve used DVDShrink for years, but I never did know the finer points to using it. I always used it to create backup ISO files that I stored on my hard drives. Fortunately, I know someone who does know a good many tricks for using this freeware. Jim Hillier has posted a complete how toon one of my favorite newsletters Dave’s Computer Tips.

Here’s that post: How to use DVDShrink… The Right Way!

Wait! Before you head over there, here are a few things you might want to know.

• Where is the download for DVDShrink? The home site of DVDShrink is at dvdshrink.org, however, you won’t find a link to download it there. I always go to the DVDShrink page at Afterdawn to get the latest version.

• If you have any questions about DVDShrink, just post a comment below and I’ll ask Jim to lend a hand.

• If you’d like to read a good monthly newsletter, be sure to sign up for Dave’s Computer Tips.


Freeware Fridays | Top Tools Of the Week #10

freeware-signIn case you haven’t seen them, here are the most recent posts in our Freeware category. We hope you enjoy reading about these freebies, and maybe you’ll find a keeper in the mix.

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Great Windows Search Replacement Agent Ransack

If you’d like a good, light weight replacement for the slow Windows file search, you won’t find many tools better than Agent Ransack

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Find Free Wifi Hotspots with WeFi

If you are out in the world with your laptop, netbook or mobile devices, you might want an easy way to find free wifi hotspots. WeFi is an application and web service that may be just what you need.

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Record Shoutcast Music Stations with MP3 VCR

These days, computers have made it much easier to record music. There are many methods to record the streaming music at internet radio stations and I’ve discovered that the MP3 VCR is one of the easiest.

Thunderbird 3.1

Download Thunderbird 3.1 Release Candidate

Mozilla has released Thunderbird 3.1 RC1 for downloads. Users can download Thunderbird 3.1 RC1 for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux in 44 languages.

iobit_uninstaller

Remove Stubborn Toolbars with New IObit Uninstaller

Uninstall stubborn toolbars with the new IObit Uninstaller software. IObit Uninstaller willuninstall toolbars from IE, Firefox and other web browsers

Nitro PDF Viewer

Free Nitro PDF Reader Is A Decent Foxit Reader Alternative

Nitro PDF Reader is a excellent Foxit Reader alternative which packs in several interesting features such as form filling, PDF reading and more. Download the Free PDF Reader today.

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Clementine Music Player Amarok for Windows and Mac

Have you ever heard of Amarok, the music player and organizer for Linux? Now there’s a version of it for Windows and Mac. It’s called Clementine.

nfs-clouds-screensaver

Clouds and Sky Make Great Screensavers

The folks at NewFreeScreensavers posted a letter to me the other day. They’ve released a few new screensavers that I thought you might like to see.

Megaupload Downloader

Megaupload Downloader Downloads Files From Popular File Hosting Sites

Megaupload Downloader allows users to download files from Megaupload, Rapidshare, Sendspace, Depositfiles, 4Shared, Mediafire, ZShare, Easy-share, Uploaded.to. Megaupload Downloader can also download videos from YouTube and Veoh.

Be sure to let us know if you have a favorite freebie you’d like to see posted here. Our comments (below) are always open to you.

200,000 Students a Month: Learning Science and Math on YouTube

salman-khan Sometime last month, Shankar posted a tweet about the Khan Academy. Have you ever heard of it? I followed the link and learned about Salman Khan, a man who gave up a successful career in Silicon Valley to teach people using Youtube videos. He’s posted over 1200 videos covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, biology and finance.

Why does Khan do it? He’s not in it for the money. According to a recent interview, Khan said You know, I think I’ve always enjoyed teaching.

I believe him. His videos are not the dry lectures you’d expect from a geek. His enthusiasm shines through in the 10 to 20 minute videos. Here’s a video overview of the academy:

Link to this video at Youtube

When talking about his teaching style, he says:

I teach the way that I wish I was taught. The lectures are coming from me, an actual human being who is fascinated by the world around him. The concepts are conveyed as they are understood by me, not as they are written in a textbook developed by an educational bureaucracy. Viewers know that it is the labor of love of one somewhat quirky and determined man who has a passion for learning and teaching. I don’t think any corporate or governmental effort–regardless of how much money is thrown at the problem–can reproduce this.

Students all over the world are viewing Khan’s videos and are finding that they are learning previously difficult subjects much more easily now.

To find out more, visit the Khan Academy website.