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 #7

freeware-sign In 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.

View Google Maps Offline with GmapCatcher

GmapCatcher is a freeware utility for Windows, Mac and Linux which can be used to save Google Maps in your computer for offline viewing. The application comes handy, when you do not have internet access and want to view a Google Map. Read More |Tweet This

puppy-logo

Macpup Opera 2.0 is Launched Fast Portable Linux

It’s small, fast, free and really pretty to watch. It’s a great place to start for those who’ve never used Linux before. Read More | Tweet This

mp3-player-ico

iTunes Alternative SharePod Rocks

SharePod is a small portable freeware alternative to iTunes. You can store it right on your iPod and take it with you everywhere you go. Read More | Tweet This

How to Change Windows Screen Resolutions Using Hotkeys

HotKey Resolution changer is a freeware utility for Windows which can be used to change Windows screen resolution in just a single key stroke. Read More | Tweet This

FileTrack Helps Tracking Changes on a Shared File

FileTrack is a freeware utility for Windows which can be used to track the changes made on a shared file. You can use it to monitor changes made on files shared over a network or with files shared with other users of your computer. Read More | Tweet This

ultrasearch-icon

Hide Your IP Address and Surf Anonymously with UltraSurf

Do you need to hide your IP address so that you can surf the web anonymously? Do you need to get past internet censorship or blocked websites? If so, UltraSurf may be a good solution for you. Read More | Tweet This

axxcrypt-ico

Encrypt Your Files Quickly with AxCrypt

For those who need to encrypt files, AxCrypt integrates it’s actions into the Windows right click menus. This makes it an easy to use solution for security and privacy. Read More | Tweet This

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.

Macpup Opera 2.0 is Launched – Fast Portable Linux

puppy-logoMacpup Opera is a   branch of Linux based on the famous Puppy Linux, which is known for it’s small size and portability. Puppy was designed to be able to run from a CD or portable flash drive. Macpup Opera takes the Puppy feature set and wraps it up in a beautiful and user friendly interface. The release of version 2.0 of this distro brings with it:

• e17 window manager
• Opera 10 web browser
• Gimp image editor
• Abiword word processor
• Gnumeric spreadsheet
• and dozens of other programs

In order to try out Macpup Opera, I downloaded the 163mb ISO live CD image and burned it to my 2Gb SD Flash card using Unetbootin. In a few minutes, I was running Macpup, and I had a nice little laugh, because it barked at me when it was done booting.

The first thing I had to do was to get my wifi network connected. I’ve always been disappointed with the networking wizard that comes with Puppy, but I’ve struggled with it often enough that I got it to recognize my network. Next, I opened the Opera web browser to see how it worked in Macpup.

I was amazed at the speed that I was getting compared to my Windows systems. Opera was surfing, paging, and refreshing faster than I’d ever seen it. This alone is a good reason for me to keep a copy of Macpup around. If my Windows PC ever crashes, I can always boot into a Puppy session for getting fixes off the web.

The Opera browser comes with it’s new Unity service and lots of desktop widgets that you’ll love playing with.

Instead of boring you with more details, here’s a video showing off this unique and completely free OS:

Link to video

For those who can’t see the video, here’s a screenshot:

macpup-opera2

This is one sweet looking little operating system and it’s sure to get a second glance as people pass by your PC.

Download Macpup Opera 2.0

Techie Buzz Verdict:

Many people won’t have any use for this unique Linux version. On the other hand, it’s small, fast, free and really pretty to watch. It’s a great place to start for those who’ve never used Linux before.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

iTunes Alternative – SharePod Rocks

mp3-player-ico [Windows Only] SharePod is a small portable freeware alternative to iTunes. There’s no doubt that iTunes is a fantastic program. However, it’s about a 93mb download and it’s not going to be on every PC that you might want to hook your iPod up to.

The advantages of SharePod are it’s small size and it’s portability. SharePod is a single executable file about 5mb in size. You can move the SharePod.exe file onto your iPod and take it with you anywhere you go. It will run right from the iPod without any installation.

Here’s what it looks like:

sharepod-main

SharePod will let you do many of the things that the huge iTunes app will do, such as:

• Add and remove music and videos from your iPod
• Add, remove and edit playlists
• Add and remove album art
• View and backup photos
• Copy music, videos and playlists from your iPod to PC
• Import music/videos into your iTunes library
• Tag editing
• Drag n drop to and from Explorer

Besides the typical iPods and Nanos, SharePod also supports iPhone and iTouch. The only major drawback I’ve found, is that it requires Microsoft .NET 2.0 Framework to be installed. Everything I’ve tried works flawlessly, and the interface is nice and simple.

Note: Another iTunes alternative we’ve discussed here is Floola, which is also free and portable.

Download SharePod

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I enjoyed trying SharePod and I plan to keep it on my Nano. It’s so handy being able to add and remove songs from any computer I’m using. If you don’t have a portable utility like this already, you should give this one a try.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Hide Your IP Address and Surf Anonymously with UltraSurf

ultrasearch-icon [Windows Only] UltraSurf is a tool that hooks your web browsers up with a free anonymous proxy. It hides your true IP address. Why is that important? I found a good answer at about.com:

When connecting to the Internet, your home computer (or network router) is assigned a public IP address. As you visit Web sites or other Internet servers, that public IP address is transmitted and recorded in log files kept on those servers. Access logs leave behind a trail of your Internet activity. If it were possible to somehow hide your public IP address, your Internet activity would become much more difficult to trace.

UltraReach, the group behind the UltraSurf application, talks about a another good reason for their service. Their purpose is as follows:

UltraReach is the first company with a mission that offers Internet technology and service immune to the national Internet censorship in China. The outstanding performance of our service has made UltraReach Internet well known among the users who seek the Internet freedom in the censored country, and at the meantime attracted heavy attacks from Chinese Internet police.

In other words, UltraSurf allows users to get past internet censorship. I don’t know exactly how it works, but I’ve tried UltraSurf and so far I’m impressed with it.

It’s easy to use. Just download it, double click the EXE file to run it, then start surfing.

ultrasurf-exe

Once it’s running, you’ll see a simple interface.

ultrasurf-interface

It will also launch Internet Explorer and you can start surfing if you want to. If you don’t want to use Internet Explorer, just close it and use your other web browsers. You can also go into the settings and tell UltraSurf not to start Internet Explorer.

If you’d like to, you can check your IP address at whatismyip.com to find out what it is. You’ll see that running UltraSurf changes your address after it starts up.

You can download UltraSurf here.

In the past, the writers here at Techie Buzz have shared some other surfing tips with you. Here are a few:

Are Web Proxy Servers Safe To Enter Passwords?
How To Access Blocked Websites
How To Access Blogspot Blogs From China
Unblock and Access YouTube From China

I’ve also written about two free web browsers that let you surf anonymously.

Xb Browser
OperaTor Browser

Techie Buzz Verdict:

UltraSurf is one of the easiest ways you can find to surf the internet with anonymous freedom. I can’t tell you if it can bridge the great Chinese firewall, but the authors of this program are dedicated to doing that.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Encrypt Your Files Quickly with AxCrypt

axxcrypt-ico [Windows Only] ÀxCrypt is a free and open source (FOSS) application that lets you quickly encrypt multiple files with a password. There are many free encryption utilities out there and some of them may be as good or better. However, AxCrypt is sure to be handy even if you don’t use encryption very often, since it comes with a portable version named AxCrypt2Go. You can always use the portable version on any PC without the need to install it.

For those who need to encrypt files often, AxCrypt integrates it’s actions into the Windows right click menus. It also allows you to create self-decrypting executable files (encrypt copy to EXE). The self-decrypting files allow anyone to open them up, as long as they have the correct password. It’s safe to send AxCrypt files using email, since AES-128 encryption is used, and it’s not likely that anyone will be able to crack your files open.

Here are some snapshots and descriptions of AxCrypt:

1. When you start installing AxCrypt, you will first have to agree to the GPL license.

axcrypt-snaphot1

2. You can disable any features you don’t want, using the custom setup screen.

axcrypt-snaphot2

3. One drawback at this point is that I didn’t see any way to tell the app where I wanted it to install at on my hard drive.

axcrypt-snaphot3

4. Once it’s installed, the first thing it shows is a prompt asking for an email address. Don’t worry, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. So far, AxCrypt has over 1,805,250 registered users.

axcrypt-snaphot4

5. Now it nags you if you didn’t supply an email address. Did they learn this trick from Microsoft? I wonder how many software engineers think that this really adds any value to the application.

axcrypt-snaphot5

6. Nothing seems to happen after that, but now whenever you right click on a file or folder, you’ll see that you have more options under the "AxCrypt" menu item. Everything needed to use AxCrypt is in there. As you can see, it has some very nice features and functions.

axcrypt-snaphot6

7. If you select "Encrypt", you’ll be prompted for a password.

axcrypt-snaphot7

8. If you select either of the two check-boxes, AxCrypt will remember your password when it’s encrypting or decrypting files.

axcrypt-snaphot8

9. Here you can see me getting ready to encrypt two music files.

axcrypt-snaphot9

10. Once they are encrypted, the files will have an "AXX" file extension.

axcrypt-snaphota

11. If you right click on them again and choose "Rename" in the AxCrypt menu, it will rename them so that nobody can figure out what was in those files. When you decrypt those files using AxCrypt, it remembers what the file names were and puts them back the way they were before.

axcrypt-snaphotb

12. To get the portable version of AxCrypt, I opened up the Program folder and copied the AxCrypt2Go.exe file onto my flash drive. In order to test it, I un-installed AxCrypt from my PC and tried to use AxCrypt2Go to decrypt some files. It worked fine, and now I don’t need to keep AxCrypt installed on my computer. I will simply keep AxCrypt2Go stored away until I need it. It’s only 486k in size.

axcrypt-snaphotc

AxCrypt will work on most PCs running Windows 2000/XP/Vista or later. AxCrypt has built in translations for English, Danish, Swedish, German, Dutch, Hungarian, Spanish, French, Italian and Norwegian.

Download AxCrypt

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I discovered that AxCrypt is very easy to use when it’s installed on your PC. However, the portable version definitely needs work. You can only navigate from the left folder view. If you click on any file or folder in the main (right hand) view, it opens the file or folder in it’s associated program. To encrypt or decrypt, you have to right click on the files. Once you’ve figured that out, I think you’ll find that it’s worth keeping.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Freeware Fridays | Top Tools Of the Week #6

In 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.

souptoys-iconHours of Fun with SoupToys on Your Desktop

Kids of all ages will love playing with this unique set of desktop toys. They are so amazing, you have to see them to believe them.

palemoon-icoPut Firefox into Hyperdrive with Pale Moon

Do you want to get a speed boost in Firefox? If so, give Pale Moon a try.

chromium-logoGoogle Chrome May Stop Showing HTTP in the Address Bar

A recent build of the Chromium web browser is displaying web addresses differently now. This has raised a some concerns, since Chromium is the basis for Google’s Chrome web browser and millions of users may be affected.

no-wordGreat Free MS Word Alternative DeVicky Word

If you can’t afford to buy MS Word, there are plenty of free alternatives. I’ll show you one that I really like using.

Fix-It-Center-SolutionsFix Common System Problems with Microsoft Fix It Center Online

Microsoft Fix It Center offers quick fixes to common Windows problems and takes the trouble out of troubleshooting.

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.

Hours of Fun with SoupToys on Your Desktop

souptoys-icon [Windows Only] Souptoys is a collection of toys that you can play with on your PC desktop. Rather than tell you about it, I’ll show you in a video …

Link to video

As you can see, each type of toy has it’s own physical properties and you can place them on your screen so that they form a Rube Goldberg device. If you’re a kid playing with this, you may not care if you make anything interesting. These toys are simply fun to play with.

Here’s what the home site says:

Designed with players aged 5 to 12 in mind, but enjoyed globally by everyone, this physics sandbox game replicates a child’s wooden toy box full of toys, including basketballs, robots, wooden blocks, snowmen, cannons, flying bees and a pirate ship. With its open-ended design, the possibilities are endless and players are limited only by their imagination.

As you continue to build your own playground, you can save the toy placements as “playset” files. You can also download playsets from the home site or use any of the dozens of playsets that come with the program.

souptoys-logo

Download Souptoys

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I had fun playing with Souptoys and I can’t wait to show it to my nieces and nephews. The only thing I’d wish for, is that Souptoys was an open source project that everyone could contribute to. I’d bet there’d be an explosion of new toys to play with every day.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Put Firefox into Hyperdrive with Pale Moon

palemoon-ico [Windows Only] What is Pale Moon? It’s an open source project that takes the Firefox web browser code and recompiles it to run faster in Windows.

Here’s what the author says about it:

Why settle for a basic build of your Firefox browser on Windows Operating Systems when you can have one that performs 25% faster? Mozilla does not provide optimized browser packages for Windows, while many Linux users get the advantage of a browser built specifically for their system. That needs to change! So, here is the Pale Moon project: Custom-built and optimized Firefox browsers for Windows Operating Systems.

pale-moon-browser

I have been using Pale Moon for a few days now, and I did notice a performance boost in comparison with my usual Firefox installs. I would have to say that Pale Moon is a winner.

There are no drastic differences other than the name. All of your old addons should continue to work. You’ll just get around the web a little faster. The author of Pale Moon claims that only real differences are that it doesn’t support the accessibility features or parental controls. Since I don’t use either one, I don’t know what I’m missing.

There’s even a Pale Moon persona (theme) available on the home page that makes it look very cool.

Download and try Pale Moon

Techie Buzz Verdict:

The only major drawback to using Pale Moon is that it may sometimes be a release or two behind Mozilla Firefox. Other than that, there’s not much difference from what I can tell. I can’t think of a good reason why I shouldn’t recommend it for every Firefox user running Windows.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

Google Chrome May Stop Showing HTTP in the Address Bar

chromium-logo One of the most recent builds of the Chromium web browser is drawing some criticism. As you may know, Chromium is the open source browser project that Google’s Chrome web browser is based on. In the Chromium version 5.0.375.3, something new showed up. The address bar was not displaying the normal http://in front of addresses. It was reported in the issues at Chromium’s code site as a possible bug.

URL BAR

However, it turns out that this is an intentional move, and it’s started a fairly heated debate there. Some of the people posting there do not want to have the http prefix removed. Some people argue that it’s a feature that everyone will eventually want.

Apparently, if you need to copy and paste the address from the Chromium address bar, it will automatically add the httpprefix, even though you don’t see it. This will need to happen in order to use copied URLs in other applications.

In my opinion, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem as long as the feature works as they say it will. I sometimes wonder why we even need to type the wwwin the address. It’s a waste of time and I’ll be happy if it goes away for good.

What do you think? Be sure to comment below.

Great Free MS Word Alternative – DeVicky Word

no-word [Windows Only] I don’t have anything against Microsoft Word, except the price. Most businesses will pay the big money that MS wants, but a home user will usually use whatever is already installed on their PC. That does not have to be true. There are several free Word alternatives that will happily do the same job. I found one free replacement that looks great and will even run quickly on older PCs. It’s called DeVicky Word.

devicky-word-snapshot01

DeVicky Word not only does many of the things that MS Word does, it has a few unique features that make it worth downloading.

Here’s a list of some of the features:

* Bullets and Numbered Lists – completely customizable
* Character and Paragraph Formatting – full WYSIWYG
* Document Sections – add as many sections as you need
* Headers and Footers
* Hypertext Links – inside and outside links
* Multi-Level Undo / Redo
* Page and Document Settings
* Page Columns – any number of columns
* Printing – what you see is what you get
* Search and Replace
* Spell Checking
* Tables – add tables within tables if needed
* Text Frames – add boxes of text anywhere
* Doc Reader – listen to you docs

Supported File Formats

* Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) Export
* Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) Import
* Adobe Portable Document Format Archive (PDF/A) Export
* Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
* Image Formats – TIFF, WMF, BMP, JPEG, PNG, GIF
* Microsoft Office Open XML (DOCX)
* Microsoft Word (DOC)
* Rich Text Format (RTF)

Download DeVicky Word:
http://www.devvicky.com/products.php

Techie Buzz Verdict:

After using it for a short while, I decided that I liked DeVicky better than the Word alternatives I’ve tried in the past. It seems more responsive and launches much quicker than the other full featured apps.  It also has very good built in help files.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)