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.

Great Windows Search Replacement – Agent Ransack

search-doc2-ico [Windows Only] A little over two months ago, Mythicsoft released a new version of their well known freeware search tool, Agent Ransack. Agent Ransack is a lite version of FileLocator Pro, and is free for both personal and commercial use.

Even though I normally use the Everything Search tool to find files, I like to keep Agent Ransack installed on my Windows XP machines, because it integrates with Windows and provides a much faster file search and content search when you need it. It will also work in Vista and Windows 7.

Here’s what it looks like when you launch it normally:

agent-ransack-normal-mode

As you can see above, I searched for all files containing the text techie buzzand it returned the results within a few minutes. There’s a nice preview pane that lets you see inside the files you pick from the results. That’s not all the features it has, here’s a list from the web site:

• Boolean expressions
Combine search terms using the familiar Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT.

• Office formats
Support for popular Office formats including Office 2007 and OpenOffice.

• Updated UI
Brings Agent Ransack’s user interface into the modern day.

• Perl regex
Support for Perl compatible regular expressions.

• 64-bit Version
Natively compiled 64-bit version for improved compatibility.

I think the best feature is the Windows integration. You have to enable it using the Tools / Shell Integrationmenu.

agent-ransack-shell-integration

When you have a file folder open, all you have to do is hit the F3 (search) key to fire up the integrated Agent Ransack. In that mode, it doesn’t look much different than the normal Windows file search.

agent-ransack-in-explorer-f3

Using it to search folders in this manner will end up saving you lots of time, and in addition, it will eliminate the Windows XP doggie spy.

Agent Ransack isn’t the fastest search tool around. The search tools that use an indexed search are faster, but an indexed search tool usually runs in the background, continuously watching your hard drive for changes. Often the index databases can be large, sometimes very large (hundreds of megabytes).

• Download Agent Ransack

Techie Buzz Verdict:

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. I have no problem giving it a highly recommended.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Find Free Wifi Hotspots with WeFi

[Windows, Mobile and Mac]wifi-ico Since I have a netbook and occasionally take it on the road, I decided to try out WeFi. The WeFi application and web service promises to help you locate wifi hotspots and connect you to thousands of other WeFi users. Here’s what they say about the service:

WeFi is dedicated to helping you find, connect, and enjoy Wi-Fi anywhere around the world. We provide the tools that allow our community to map the global Wi-Fi network. Our dedicated community has already discovered over 60,000,000 access points around the world. Join us today and help us map the next million!

I downloaded the 8mb installation file and started the install process. I found that there are a few places that you might want take a closer look at during the install.

The first installation options default to installing a toolbar and new default search in your web browser. When I see options like these, I nearly always opt out. I hate toolbars and I’m happy with my search providers.

wefi-install-options

Just when I thought I was done with the junk programs they wanted me to install, one more option popped in. I can’t tell you how much I dislike added shopping applications like the Price Gong offer they served up.

wefi-price-gong

After getting through the options above, the software starts installing and you’ll see a cute animation with the little WeFi creature running past store fronts. It’s a little too cute. At that point, I was wondering if this was a serious company delivering a real product.

wefi-cute-install-animation

One final setting popped up after the little running logo. I decided that I definitely did not want to allow WeFi to automatically connect me to networks. I like to look them over before I allow my netbook to connect to strange new hotspots.

wefi-auto-connect-option

The final step was to actually create an account with WeFi. They step you through the sign-up and only require an email address in addition to letting you choose your username and password. Once that’s out of the way, the main WeFi interface finally launches.

wefi-interface

After playing with it for awhile, I decided that I liked the WeFi interface because it was very similar to most instant messenger clients. Below is a video showing you a little bit about how it works.

Link to video at Youtube

Download WeFi

http://www.wefi.com/

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I didn’t like the offers for the toolbar, the change to default search and the shopping assistant. However, I did like the fact that WeFi does offer an easy way to discover new hotspots and get in touch with other WeFi users. I have mixed feelings about it at this time, but I won’t tell anyone to stay away from WeFi.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Record Shoutcast Music Stations with MP3 VCR

music-notes [Windows Only] Many years ago, I remember recording broadcast radio stations using reel-to-reel, 8-track and finally cassette tape recorders. It was pretty simple tune in your radio, start your tape recorder and let it run. The biggest drawback was that you didn’t have a song list and it was often hard to identify the artist or the name of the song playing.

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. All you have to do is:

  • Search Shoutcast.com for a radio station
  • Drag the station link to the Source Informationfield
  • Set music storage folder
  • Click the Start Recordingbutton

Here’s what the setup applet looks like:

mp3vcr-setup-interface

At Shoutcast, the link you need to drag and drop is the yellow TUNE INbutton.

shoutcast-station-list

Once you’ve started recording, you’ll see the main interface. There are a few buttons at the bottom that you can use for Pause, Stop, Listen or Mute while recording, Timed Recordings, Station Listings, Setup and Exit.

mp3vcr-main-interface

The station list is a nice feature. It allows you to play, add and remove Shoutcast radio streams.

mp3vcr-station-list

MP3 VCR actually detects the song titles of most station streams and creates an MP3 file for each song.

folder-music-files

This recorder is also advertised to work with stations at Live365.com. I haven’t had much luck with that, but I never use their service. There are thousands of stations at Shoutcast, what more can you ask for?

Download MP3 VCR

http://www.mp3vcr.com/

Techie Buzz Verdict:

There are plenty of ways to record music from the internet. MP3 VCR is free and it’s one of the easiest recording methods I’ve tried. In addition to plenty of documentation, this program’s source code is also available. Based on what I’ve found so far, I can highly recommend MP3 VCR.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Fake Warnings and Hoaxes on Facebook – Are You Smart Enough to Avoid Them?

joker Every time I hear about a new scam or hoax on Facebook, I have to wonder how people can fall for these. Don’t be fooled, a few minutes of research can save you some embarrassment. Here’s an example of one of the hoaxes that’s been going around.

Fox 4 news reported… ATTENTION !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! do not join the group that runs currently on facebook with the title “becoming a father or mother was the greatest gift of my life” This is a group created by pedophiles whose aim is to access your photos!!!!!!!…!!!!! Please rotate …this post to all Your Friends on Facebook xx

In truth, there were no groups started by pedophiles. It was all a big hoax, but it got passed along in Facebook and email so often that it took on a life of it’s own. Originally, there were no groups with that name or a similar name, but some other pranksters created similar groups, just to see how much trouble they could start. It even got to the point where people were creating groups to protest the original (hoax) groups. I was tempted to laugh when I read about this hoax, but I’m also sad that there are so many people ready and willing to post stuff like this in their Facebook page or email.

Read the truth about the Pedophile Group Hoax

Here’s another one – would you pass on this picture and description?

Whale swallows man in kayak

kayak-in-mouth-of-whale

Find out the truth behind this photo.

I found out about these hoaxes from an old friend of mine, Brett Christensen. He runs a website, newsletter and Facebook page that reveals the truth and the lies behind many of the rumors, hoaxes and scams you see in email and Facebook.

If you don’t want to be fooled, it only takes a minute or two in a search engine to find the truth. I recommend going to three different sites to perform a quick search before you pass on the next fantastic message you get.

Search Hoax-Slayer

Snopes.com

Scambusters

I also recommend signing up for the email newsletters from Hoax-Slayer and Snopes.

Hoax-Slayer newsletter (monthly)

Snopes newsletter (weekly)

In case you want up to date info, here’s the Facebook page for Hoax-Slayer that Brett maintains. Just post a question on his wall and he’ll probably answer back with all the facts he can find.

It’s not a sin to be fooled by an email or Facebook post. However, you won’t be gaining any friends and credibility by passing on stupid rumors and hoaxes. Take the time to check them out.

I’ve never been fooled by a hoax or a scam in Facebook (or email), have you?

Free Images for Use in Your Website or Blog – MorgueFile

camera-generic Despite the name of the site, MorgueFile has hundreds of free photos and they don’t have anything to do with death. According to the site:

Free images for your inspiration, reference and use in your creative work, be it commercial or not!

You are free:

Remix — to adapt the work.
Commercial — to use this work for commercial purposes.
Without Attribution — to use without attributing the original author.

This collection of photos was started in 1996 by Michael Connors, a multi-media artist in NYC. Michael, his brother Kevin, and a friend named Johannes have continued to manage the site since then. They accept photos and images from anyone who wants to contribute them. So if you have some unique photos or images you want to show off, just sign up to upload them.

The photos and images are indexed and tagged so that you can find what you are looking for. When you type in a keyword to search for specific types of images, you’ll get a nice looking page of thumbnails as shown here.

morguefile-search-result

You’ll be to open any image by clicking on it. In addition, there’s also a tab showing Dreamstime images, but keep in mind that those images may not be free. If you are only interested in free images, don’t bother opening up the Dreamstime tab.

If you can’t find what you are looking for at MorgueFile, be sure to check out PicFindr,    stock photo search engines or the open clipart library.

Clementine Music Player – Amarok for Windows and Mac

music-player-oldies [Windows, Mac, Linux] If you know your way around the world of Linux, you’ve probably heard of Amarok, the music player for Linux operating systems. Now there’s Clementine, a version of Amarok for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Here’s a list of the features:

• Search and play your local music library
• Listen to internet radio from Last.fm and SomaFM
• Load M3U and XSPF playlists
• Edit tags on MP3 and OGG files, organize your music
• Download missing album cover art from Last.fm
• Cross-platform – works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux
• Native desktop notifications on Linux (libnotify) and Mac OS X (Growl)
• Supports MPRIS on Linux, or remote control using the command-line

I tried out the Windows version of Clementine recently and I found that it’s a pretty good music player and library organizer. Here are a few screenshots for you to look over.

clementine-0.2-1

clementine-0.2-2

clementine-0.2-3

clementine-0.2-4

Although Amarok is well developed and pretty much bug-free, Clementine isn’t there yet. Most of the features seemed to work fine. However, the online radio player feature for playing Last.fm never did work for me. That’s too bad because that was the only real reason I tried it out. I was not able to check out the SomaFM player since I don’t have an account with that service.

I will definitely keep an eye on this open source project. I’m sure they’ll get the bugs out of it eventually. In the mean time, I don’t have any use for it.

Download page for Clementine

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I always try to use open source software when it’s available and does a good job. Clementine shows a lot of promise, but it still has a long way to go to compete with the many older and more mature music players. I can’t recommend it at this time.

Techie Buzz Rating: 2/5 (Below Average)

Play Google Pacman Whenever You Want

pacman_yet_another__paul_01 A few days ago, Google featured a new Doodle on their search page to celebrate the 30 year birthday of Pacman. Unlike other Google Doodles, this one was actually a real game that you could play right on the search page.

Lots of people enjoyed playing the game and lots more people were annoyed at the game sounds that played when the page loaded. Those who enjoyed playing the game might have been disappointed to see that it is now gone from the Google search page.

Earlier today, I saw a post by Shankar Ganesh which told me how I could download a copy of the Google Pacman page. I wasn’t satisfied with a downloaded copy and I decided to look around for the original page and after a few minutes, I found it.

The new permanent home for Google’s Pacman is:

http://www.google.com/pacman/

Now there’s no need to download a copy of it. All you have to do is bookmark the page. You can even set this page as your default search engine if you really enjoy it.

If you still want to download a copy of this game, just go to the link above and use the Save Asmenu in your web browser to save a copy of the page.

Here are three tips for playing the game:

  • It can now be muted by clicking the sound icon on the left corner of the game board.
  • You can play a two player game by clicking the Insert Coinbutton under the search box.
  • You can easily resize the game by holding down a CTRL key and scrolling your mouse wheel.

Many people think that this is the best Google Doodle ever made. What do you think?

Clouds and Sky Make Great Screensavers

[Windows Only] 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. Here’s what the letter said:

Hello
Today Newfreescreensavers.com offer you ten more new free screensavers. Now there are more Nature free screensavers (waterfalls, sky, clouds) on our website. Some waterfall free screensavers are designed for HD monitors and from my point of view look fabulous. All new nature free screensavers will create a relaxing atmosphere and will decorate your monitor when it is idle. For those who prefer life in a city Newfreescreensavers.com has released a screensaver called Night. Download Night screensaver and enjoy the lights of a night city life.

Unlike the screensavers at a few other free sites, I’ve always found these to be completely free from ads and other junk that you don’t want. Below are screenshots of my favorite two screensavers from this latest batch.

NFS Clouds This one has a rapidly changing scene with clouds and sunlight rolling across a pastoral setting.

nfs-clouds-screensaver

NFS Sky This one makes you feel like you are riding on the nose of a jet as the clouds fly by you.

nfs-sky-screensaver

Here is a screenshot of the web page showing some of the most recent screensavers available.

top-ten-nfs-screensavers

Download:

Use this link to see the latest screensavers.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

Although the screensavers at this site may be simple, they are almost always beautiful and unique. You won’t have any trouble installing or using them.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Freeware Fridays | Top Tools Of the Week #9

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.

display-ico

Royale Remixed Is it the Best Microsoft Theme for XP?

The Royale theme for Windows XP is a very nice theme, but I found out that someone has taken the Royale theme and tweaked it to make it even better.

display-ico

Super Photo Slideshow Screensaver JPEGSaver

Most Windows systems already come with a nice built in screensaver for viewing the pictures you’ve stored on your hard drive. In Windows XP it’s called My Pictures Slideshow but here’s a free program that offers more options.


Since that’s I have posted this week, here are a few new freebies from Snapfiles for you to look over.

NEW – Yadis! Backup v1.9.10

Yadis! Backup is an easy-to-use backup program that can perform automatic backups of your important files. The program will continuously monitor your selected folders and backup any files in real-tim….

NEW – Tab Utilities v0.9.9.3

Tab Utilities provides you with complete control over your Firefox browser tabs. You can fully customize the opening behavior of new tabs based on the link type (URL, Favorite, History, Search) and d….

NEW – LAlarm v5.7

LAlarm is a clever anti-theft alarm software for your laptop that provides different security features to prevent your laptop from being stolen, as well as data recovery and destruction options to pr….

NEW – RBTray v4.1

RBTray enables you to minimize any window or program to the system tray (instead of the task bar) by simply right-clicking on the standard Windows minimize button. Standalone software, no installatio….

NEW – WinSplit Revolution v9.02

WinSplit Revolution enables you to quickly position and size active desktop windows with the help of keyboard shortcuts, saving you from having to manually drag and size a window. The default configu….

NEW – iReboot v1.1.1

iReboot enables people that use dual-boot systems to quickly switch operating systems without the need to wait for the O/S selection screen. Simply select the operation system you want to boot into f….

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.

Royale Remixed – Is it the Best Microsoft Theme for XP?

display-ico One of my online buddies, Andrew Fox, recently commented on my Google Buzz about the article concerning 4 Free Microsoft Themes for XP. Andrew mentioned that he thought the best Microsoft theme was one called Royale. I quickly located a copy of it and tried it out. It is a very nice theme, but I found out that someone has taken the Royale theme and tweaked it to make it even better. The tweaked version is called Royale Remixed.

Here’s what the Royale Remixed theme looks like on my netbook.

royal-remixed-the-look

There are three color schemes included in this theme. The color schemes can be accessed by right clicking on your desktop and selecting Properties, then the Appearance tab.

windows-xp-color-schemes

The Noir color scheme is shown above while Royale and Zune are shown below.

royal-remixed-blue

royal-remix-zune

The only difference I noticed between Noir and Zune was that Zune is a little darker. I like the Zune color scheme the best. Which one do you like?

Download the Royale Remixed theme (also known as Royale Noir Theme)

Techie Buzz Verdict:

Is Royale Remixed the best theme for Microsoft XP? I’d have to say noto that question. There are so many themes available to an XP user, especially if they are willing to use the UxTheme patch to unlock all the great themes that are available.

Techie Buzz Verdict: 3/5 (Good)