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.

CNET TechTracker Wants to Keep Your Software Updated

techtracker-icon

Today I received an email from CNET, the owners of Download.com. They wanted me to try out their new software called TechTracker. Who could resist? Ok, most people could resist, but I’m a push-over.

What is TechTracker?

According to the home page, The TechTracker app shows you the software that is out of date and provides you with the information to decide which updates you need. You’ll find product details as well as editor and user ratings, all in one place.

That’s what they tell you. I can tell you what I thought before trying it. I figured it’s another way that they can rope you into staying at Download.com forever. My guess was probably close to the mark, but if it’s really good software, I’ll put up with a lot of bull to use it.

I went ahead and followed their steps to download and install TechTracker. As you can see below, the first step is to register at CNET if you haven’t already.

techtracker-steps-to-install

I was already registered there so I went on to step 2 after logging in. I downloaded the installer, which was about 3mb in size. It installed easily with no surprises.

As soon as TechTracker launched the first time, a few seconds passed by and suddenly my web browser popped up at a CNET page with the Scan Results. I was actually pretty impressed by how quickly it found my installed software.

The results page showed me a list of apps it found and it also indicated that I had 5 apps that were out of date. Most of the results were accurate, however, it did show that I was running Internet Explorer version 3.01.2723 and that I should update it to version 8. What are they smoking at CNET? Below you can see just a bit of the results. You can click the image if you’d like a closer look.

techtracker-results

I found out that TechTracker runs entirely in the system tray. It doesn’t have an interface like most applications. All it does is scan and display results in your web browser. That’s a unique approach but it totally makes sense if you are CNET/Download.com.

It does have a little menu when you right click on the system tray icon. Other than that, it stays out of your way until you need it.

Conclusion:

It works. It’s not fancy, but if one stop shopping is what you want, this is a good way to keep your software up to date and more secure.

I won’t be keeping TechTracker installed. I’m always out poaching the internet for the next big game. CNET can’t make me into their fan-boy, but they are welcome to keep trying.

TechTracker Home Page

Be sure to check out some other software to help keep your system updated. Find 7 Free Tools to Keep Your Windows PC Softwares Up-to-date.

Do you have any questions about keeping your software updated? Do you have any ideas you’d like to share? Be sure to add a comment below or email me. I’d love to hear from you.

Remove Spyware, Adware and Rootkits with Ad-Aware

ad-aware-icon Earlier today, I receive a notice from Download.com that a new version of Ad-Aware Free has been released. It’s been a long time since I’d used it, and I decided to give it another go. (works with Win2k, WinXP, Vista, Win7)

It seems like Ad-Aware has always been there for us, over 10 years now. It was one of the first effective defenses against many forms of adware and spyware. Since that time, it’s been improving and adding features. Ad-Aware has always offered a free version in addition to a paid version. The latest versions offer an improved quick-scan and fewer false alarms.

The free version does have some features disabled, but it still includes a live component called “Ad-Watch” that monitors the programs running on your PC. Another valuable feature is it’s ability to detect and remove rootkits. Finally, a feature new to me, called “TrackSweep”, allows you to erase internet browser history, cookies and more.

I downloaded and ran the installer. The only surprise to me was an offer to also install Google Chrome. Since I already have that, I declined the offer.

ad-aware-chrome-offer

Once installed, Ad-Aware immediately opened it’s Update Manager to make sure it had the most recent updates.

ad-aware-update-mgr

Next it took me to the main screen where the only obvious option was to scan the PC. This scan is a full system scan and it may take a long time to finish. After a few minutes I cancelled the full scan and tried the Quick Scan. It only took about 4 minutes.

ad-aware-main

The Quick Scan found and removed over 70 tracking cookies and fortunately it found no other problems. If you are fairly new to PCs, I recommend that you take advantage of the full system scans that Ad-Aware offers.

I did not take advantage of the TrackSweep. I don’t have anything to hide and I don’t want to lose my browser history and other saved info. As you can see below, it can wipe your browsers squeaky clean.

ad-aware-track-sweep

I have no doubt that you’ll be safer if you use Ad-Aware and I have no problems recommending it. It was great 10 years ago and it’s still great today.

Ad-Aware Free home page

Ad-Aware at Download.com

Do you have any questions about spyware or adware? Do you have any ideas you’d like to share? Be sure to add a comment below or email me. I’d love to hear from you.

IZArc2Go is a Great Free Portable Archive Manager

As you may already know, an archive file is a file that contains other files. You can think of an archive as a suitcase full of stuff that you can unpack when needed. I’m guessing that there are 20 or 30 common archive types out there, and Windows only knows how to open up a couple of them.

So what can you do when you run into an archive type you aren’t familiar with? You’ll need to get yourself a good flexible archive manager. Fortunately there are several free archive managers out there and many of them are up to the job.

I previously used 7-zip which works fine but is a little clunky looking and has a quirky interface. One day, I ran into a free portable app named IZArc2Go and I’ve been using it ever since. It works exactly as I expected it to work and it also has a nice looking face. The only extraordinary thing about it is the number of file types that it supports. I can pretty much count on almost never running into an archive I can’t handle with IZArc.

izarc2go-ss-file-list

IZArc supports the following archive types:

7-ZIP, A, ACE, ARC, ARJ, B64, BH, BZ2, BZA, CAB, CPIO, DEB, ENC, GCA, GZ, GZA, HA, JAR, LHA, LIB, LZH, MBF, MIM, PAK, PK3, RAR, RPM, TAR, TAZ, TBZ, TGZ, TZ, UUE, WAR, XXE, YZ1, Z, ZIP, ZOO

It also supports opening the following CD/DVD image formats:

ISO, BIN, MDF, NRG, IMG, C2D, PDI, CDI

Here are a few of the features of IZArc:

  • · Create archives
  • · Add files
  • · Delete files
  • · Extract files
  • · Test files
  • · Repair archives
  • · Search for files in multiple archives
  • · Favorite Folders
  • · Full Drag & Drop of files/folders
  • · Open file with the program associated to that file type
  • · CheckOut feature
  • · Create a self-extracting archive
  • · Antivirus scanner option
  • · Excellent help file on F1 key
  • · 16 custom sets of buttons for a little variety on toolbar

IZArc2Go can be downloaded from the home page. One minor beef I have with this program is the fact that the portable version is only offered in an installer. I’d much rather see it offered as a ZIP file.

After launching the installer you’ve downloaded, you’ll soon see why the author has placed this freebie in an installer package. He’s decided that he’d like to get a little payoff. There’s an offer to install some sponsored software in there. I have no problem with that and you shouldn’t either. Just make sure you decide whether or not you want the offered software and move on.

Once you start using IZArc, I think you’ll agree with me when I say that it’s a pleasure to use.

Do you have any questions about archives or ideas you’d like to share? Be sure to add a comment below or email me. I’d love to hear from you.

Earth to Declare War on the Moon

As you may know, Earth has been increasingly targeting the Moon since their 1959th year and even launched a manned invasion in their year 1969. In a few universal hours (Earth time: Friday, October 10th at 7:30am EDT), Earth will fire one more shot in it’s ever escalating conflict with it’s closest neighbor, Luna, sometimes called “the Moon”.

A portion of an unmanned space craft called LCROSS will slam into Cabeus, an eternally dark crater on Luna. It’s been reported that many of the war mongering Earthlings are hoping for a spectacular plume of dust to be ejected from Luna. This geyser of lunar soil is expected to be visible from many areas on the Earth via the use of their crude telescopes. Naturally, they claim it’s a peaceful mission to search for water.

Here’s a quote from one of their popular  fascist  media sources named “Space.com”:

Targeting the Moon: Observatories Gear Up for Friday Lunar Crash

080226-lcross-02 Scientists are hoping for a literal slam dunk with NASA’s upcoming Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS mission – an event to be observed by a coordinated network of Earth and space-based equipment. LCROSS will search for  water ice on the moon on Friday morning by crashing its spent upper-stage Centaur rocket into Cabeus, a permanently sunlight-shy crater within the lunar south pole region  … read more

Below is some secretly captured video of the Earth’s last attack on Luna which took place in their 2008th year.

As a peaceful Martian, I can only say that this proves beyond any doubt that Earth is not ready for entry into the Pan-Dimensional Congress. I sincerely hope that the advance warning given to the Lunarians will keep their loss of life and property to a minimum. Surprisingly, the Lunarians have been silent about these vicious attacks. Surely, they believe that this is a blood-thirsty act of war.

To the degenerate Earthlings: I hope you all get a bad case of albino-brain-chiggers as you watch this treacherous moon-bombing live from the obsolete telecommunication devices you use.

Be sure to comment below if you agree, as I do, that Earth should be banished from this continuum.

KUninstall is a Blazing Fast Uninstall Utility

image The title of this article pretty much gives away the big secret behind KUninstall but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

This portable freeware application often allows you to uninstall a program long before you would have finished opening up the standard Windows Add/Remove applet. Not only is it fast, it also has unique features that Microsoft probably didn’t want you to have. Below I’ll give you some details on how to set up and use KUninstall.

First you’ll have to go to KUninstall’s web page to download it. It’s offered there as a ZIP file and since it’s a portable application, all you need to do is to unpack the zip into a folder. The name of the executable file that starts KUninstall is KUnist.exe. Find that file and double click it to launch the app.

The first thing you’ll see is a list of all programs on your PC that can be uninstalled.

image

If it’s a long list, you can use the Filter box at the top to type in the name of the program. Below you can see that I was looking for Zuneand it found one application matching what I typed.

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Once you have an item highlighted, you can select the Uninstall option by hitting the trash can icon in the toolbar. You can also right click on an item in the list to see more options.

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Choosing Open Registrywill open up Regedit and display the uninstall key for the program selected. The Open Installation Folderand Open Web Siteoptions will open the program’s installation folder or open the program’s home website in your default web browser.

I’m not sure why anyone would want to Renamea program, but this feature is there if you need it.

The Detail Infoprovides a very nice table, shown below, which displays all of the information that Windows has about the program selected. Double clicking on some of the items in the table will open up those locations.

image

Naturally, the Uninstalloption, in the right click menu and the toolbar, is the most important function. If you’ve chosen Uninstall, you’ll see the menu below and you can click Start Uninstall.

The uninstall scripts that are provided by some companies are a bit sloppy and may leave behind useless folders, files and registry entries. KUninstall provides you with an easy way to clean up stray files and registry keys. The Explore Folderand Scan Leftover Itemsfeatures are very useful for finding the scraps left behind.

image

The final feature I’ll discuss is one of the most unique that I’ve seen in an uninstall utility. The Finderfeature is accessed from the toolbar at the top of KUninstall.

image

If you drag and drop the Finder cross-hairs onto an open program window, you’ll be presented with a menu which will allow you to Uninstall, Explorer, Locate, Close Windowor Kill Process. Most of these menu items are self explanatory, but I can tell you that the Explorerbutton merely opens up the folder which contains the program that Finder was dropped on.

image

The Finder also works when you drop it onto Shortcuts and System Tray Icons. That can be very useful when needed.

That’s all I’ve got to say about KUninstall at this time. If you’ve already decided not to try it, you should be aware that Kensoft, the creator of KUninstall, also offers several other free applications that you may find useful.

On another note, you may also want to know How To Completely Uninstall Software or Uninstall Programs Safely With Ashampoo Magical UnInstall.

Be sure to add your comment below if you have questions or a tip.

How to Use Check Boxes to Select Items in Windows Vista and Windows 7

When Windows Vista arrived, Microsoft made a few changes to Windows Explorer and added some new features. If you’re still using Windows XP, I can recommend QTtabbar or ViSplore to get some of these new features. If you are using Vista or Windows 7, keep on reading.

One of the most useful features that I’ve found for the new Explorer is the ability to select files using a check box.

win7-file-selection-with-checkboxes-demo

You may not immediately find the Folder and View options that you were used to seeing in previous versions of Windows Explorer. I’ll show you how to find them once again and enable the check box feature.

First, start Windows Explorer by double clicking Computeron your desktop or typing Windows Explorerin the Start Menu search box and launching it.

Once Explorer opens, click on the Organizemenu and choose Folder and search options.

win7-folder-and-search-options

When the Folder Options dialog opens, select the Viewtab and place a check-mark in front of Use check boxes to select items.

folder-options-view-tab

Click the OKbutton to finish up and you will now have this feature enabled.

Be sure to comment below if you have any questions or comments about this or any other Windows 7 feature.

How to Disable User Account Control in Windows 7

Why do you want to turn off a feature that Microsoft believes will keep you safer? Are you insane, are you ignorant, do you hate Microsoft, or are you simply aggravated by constant pop-ups?

uac-pop-up

Whenever an action is performed that Windows feels can put the system at risk, the User Account Control feature (UAC) will respond with a nice little pop-up window that the user must respond to. This occurs even if the user is logged into an administrator account.

The account controls in Windows XP were already good if they were used properly. By properly, I mean that you should never use your PC while logged into an administrator account unless you are truly performing administrative tasks. I feel that there is no need for the new UAC in Vista and Win7 since standard user accounts are already restricted from making system changes.

Just remember, an administrative account isn’t there for you to surf the net, chat with your friends and answer email. Log into a standard user account to do that. If you haven’t created a standard account for yourself, do it soon. Now that I’m done preaching, I’ll tell you how to easily disable UAC in Windows 7.

To disable UAC in an account:

• Click your Start button
• Type “UAC” (without quotes) into the search box
• Click on “Change User Account Control settings”

security-policy-uac-search

• Slide the bar all the way to the bottom and click “OK”

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That’s it. Now you’ll stop getting those UAC pop-ups.

Be sure to comment below if you have any questions or comments on User Account Controls.

How to Create a New User Account in Windows 7

When you first install Windows, you’ll be prompted to set up new users. Later, if you want to add more users, or remove existing users, you can do so easily by following these instructions.

• Log in to an Administrator account
• Click on the Start button and choose “Control Panel”
• Click on “Add or remove user accounts”

create-new--windows-user

• Click on “Create a new account”

create-new-windows-account
• Fill out the account name, select the user type and then click “Create Account”

fill-out-new-windows-account

That’s it folks. Be sure to comment below if you have any questions or comments on User Accounts.

How to Create a Sendto FTP in Your File Right Click Menu

This article is mainly for those of you who have a website or post files to web servers using FTP (file transfer protocol). Most of you may already be using an FTP client such as FileZilla to upload all of your files. This works great but sometimes you may want to upload only one or two files. It takes time to launch the FTP client and make sure it’s pointing to the proper location before you upload. I’ll show you a quick way to upload files by simply right clicking on them and using the built-in Windows Sendto menu. This will take a few minutes to set up, but one nice thing about this procedure is that it doesn’t require you to download and install any new software.

Also Read: 5 Free tools to upload content to your website.

These instructions are basically the same for Windows XP, Vista and 7 once you get to the Add Network Wizard. Perform the appropriate actions listed below based on your operating system.

While you are viewing your Desktop …

Windows XP: Double click “My Computer”.
Windows Vista/7: Double click “Computer”.

Windows XP: Open “My Network Places” and click on “Add a network place”

cn_add_ntwk_plc

Windows Vista/7: Right click on any empty area and select “add a network location” and click “Next” when the Add Network wizard pops up.

cn_add_ntwk_plc_win7

Select “Choose another network location” and click “Next”.

cn_add_ntwk_wiz

Enter the FTP address for the FTP server.

cn_add_ntwk_addr

Enter the user name and un-check the “Log on anonymously” box

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Finish creating the network location. It will try to connect to your FTP server. Once it does, it’ll ask you to enter your password. You can tell it to remember your password at this point if you want to.

When you have your new Network Place (FTP server) open, navigate to the folder where you most commonly upload files.  Right click on the folder and select “copy”

Windows XP: Open up the Start > Run menu and type in “sendto”. The Sendto folder should open. Right click in an empty area in the Sendto folder and paste a shortcut. You can rename the shortcut at this point if you wish.

Windows Vista/7: Finding the Sendto folder is a pain in the rear. Typically it’s located at …
C:\Users\*YourUserName*\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo.

Right click in an empty area in the Sendto folder and paste a shortcut. You can rename the shortcut at this point if you wish.

Now when you need to quickly send a file or files using FTP, you can right click on the files, choose “Sendto” and then pick the shortcut you just created.

Be sure to comment below if you have you’re own ideas on how to easily upload via   FTP.

Google Nocs – a Web Enabled Notepad for Saving Text Online

I’m a big fan of the Google online services. I use Gmail, Reader, Blogger, Docs and more. Guess what happened when I spotted a new application that lets me write text files to Google Docs?

When I found Nocs, and saw that it’s free open source software, I had to try it. Here’s what the web page says about it.

cn_nocs-logo

A Windows Notepad style application that uses Google Docs for synchronizing text files.

Features:
* all the basic functionality of the Windows Notepad
* login with a Google account
* change the Google account on-the-fly
* encrypt your documents
* auto-save after a specified timeout
* find & replace with regular expressions

I downloaded the install file for Nocs. It was a little over 1 MB in size. It’s a standard MSI (Microsoft Installer) file and it installed quickly with no fuss.

On start up, the first thing Nocs did was to prompt me for my Google Docs password. Once that was entered it tossed me into a very drab and basic looking text editor. There are no surprises here. It only has the same basic functions as Windows Notepad.

cn_nocs-1

The real magic happens when you save a file. It quickly adds an entry in a spreadsheet in your Google Docs account. That’s not exactly the same as uploading a text file, but you’ll never know the difference.

How large can the text files be?

Each text file you upload is represented on Google in a two column spreadsheet. Column one contains the name of the text file and column two represents that text that you upload. When I saw the way that it worked, my first question to myself was, “How many characters can it store in each cell in the spreadsheet”. This would actually limit how large your text files can be.

I did a quick search on the net and I found that each cell in a Google Spreadsheet can hold roughly 30,000 characters. I noticed that each character in my text file was represented by about 4 characters in each cell. So, a quick guess would be that you can only send a little over 7500 characters in your text files. Only time will tell if I’m guessing right.

Is Nocs portable?

I copied the Nocs program folder to my thumb drive then uninstalled Nocs from my hard drive. I tried running Nocs from the thumb drive and it seems to work ok. As I said above, only time will tell if this will continue to work for me.

Conclusion

Nocs is another way to stay connected with your data no matter where you are. It’s still in beta testing so you may run into a few bugs. However, I can heartily recommend it. It does what it’s supposed to do and it doesn’t screw up anything else. Next I’m hoping they’ll figure out a way to let two or more people work on the same text file at the same time.

You should be aware that you can also use Microsoft Office with Google Docs and OpenOffice with Google Docs by installing a plugin. That’s actually a better solution, but it’s overkill if you only need to upload plain text like you find in Notepad.

Download Nocs

How Can I Open Up or Edit an ICO file or Icon Library?

Most of you are familiar with icons since you see them every time you use a PC. An ICO file is an image file that contains the small picture that you see as an icon. Icons are usually associated with files or actions on your PC. Icons make it easier to identify file types by simply looking at the icon.

How Can I Open (view) an ICO file?

If you wish to open or view the little picture in an ICO file, double clicking an ICO file will most often open in the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (XP) or Windows Photo Viewer (Vista, Win7) so that you can see it in more detail.

If you have a collection of ICO files, I’ve found that it’s often just as easy to open the folder that the ICO files are in then select the “Thumbnail” view or the “Tiles” view in WinXP or the large icon view in Vista/Win7.

cn_thumbview_of_icons

If double clicking on an ICO file does not result in it opening up in a viewer, you can restore it’s default actions. You can also find out how to chose your own default application to openICO files.

One more thing I’ll share with you before moving on is that you can download tons of free high quality icons from the net.

How Can I Edit an ICO File?

On most PCs, the default editor for an ICO (icon) file is the ever present MS Paint application. Right clicking on an ICO file and choosing Editwill usually open an icon in MS Paint.

MS Paint is a very basic graphics editor and it is definitely not a good application for editing icons. Paint’s biggest problem is that it cannot set transparent areas. I have also seen cases where an ICO file saved by Paint is not recognized as an icon by other applications.

Here I have listed some of the best free icon editors:

Greenfish

IcoFX

@icon sushi

IconArt

Portable Icon Editors

Gimp

Here are a few tutorials showing you how to use icon editors:

Creating large icons with Greenfish

IcoFX video tutorial #1

IcoFX video tutorial #2

Tutorials from the author of IcoFX

Create large Vista/Win7 icons with icon sushi

IconArt video tutorial

Creating Icons with Gimp

45 icon design tutorials


How Can I Create My Own Ico Libraries?

Icons are normally thought of as ICO files, but they are also included in icon libraries in the form of EXE, DLL or ICL files. There are quite a few programs that will allow you to create or manage existing icon libraries on your computer. Below are links to two icon editors that I mentioned earlier which handle libraries nicely. This makes them an “all-in-one” tool for dealing with icons.

Greenfish Icon Editor

IcoFXIcoFX library tutorial


Do you have more questions about icons and ICO files?

How Can I Restore the Default ICO File Behavior?

How Can I Change Windows Default Desktop Icons?

How Can I Change the Icon for a File Extension or File Type?

Browse And Download Tons Of Free High Quality Icons at IconArchive

Has RealPlayer Stopped Giving Us Real Headaches Yet?

I first wrote about RealPlayer and it’s bad habits in 2004. Back then, you could expect that a RealPlayer install would load you down with adware applications you didn’t want. It would also stage a hostile takeover of all of your media file types. We’ve told you how to get back your favorite file types, but you don’t want to have to do that every time you install new software. Many people swore back then, and even today, that no power on earth would ever get them to use a RealMedia product again.

In the past my recommendation has always been for people to use Real Alternative if they need to play RealMedia files. I may be softening a bit on that advice after trying RealPlayer SP today.

The reason I decided to try RealPlayer after ignoring it for several years is that it now allows you to easily download and convert streaming video from many websites. I couldn’t resist trying that out. Fortunately, I haven’t sworn any oaths of undying hatred for RealPlayer.

RealPlayer SP now advertises that it can:

Download Video
Now you can download and organize your favorite videos from thousands of Websites. Then watch them anytime, anywhere you want.

Convert Video
Our new video converter makes it incredibly easy to copy online video to your iPod, cell phone, Xbox, PS3 or other favorite device.

Share Video
RealPlayer SP is the easiest way to share your favorite videos with your favorite people on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.

You can download RealPlayer SP here.

Here’s what I’ve found after a brief trial.

Before installing, I fired up Zsoft Uninstaller to monitor the RealPlayer install in case I decided not to keep it.

The installer wasn’t a big download, but it was a “stub”. In other words, you’d better be connected to the net because more is going to be downloaded when you start the install. Real Networks used to sometimes hide other programs in the install but now all that I saw was an offer to install Google Chrome and maybe the Google Toolbar. Naturally, I turned them down. I use a different version of Chrome called Iron which offers you far more privacy and I’ve never really liked browser toolbars.

As I mentioned above, RealPlayer used to automatically steal all of the media file types, but this time it asked nicely if it could take only those not already assigned to some other program. It also asked me if it was okay to install an addon for Firefox and other browsers for grabbing videos.

When all was said and done, the final footprint was about 63 MB in the Program Files folder. Sure that’s pretty good sized, but it’s not out of line for a full featured media player.

The first thing I did was visit the “Library” and have RealPlayer scan my drives for media files. It was very fast at this and I was impressed.

When I tried playing some types of media, RealPlayer would offer to go out and get codecs or plugins. In the case of MOV files, it had to grab a plugin for QuickTime. Once that was done it was able to play almost everything I have. It even plays FLV (Flash Video) files now. That’s a trick that Windows Media Player still doesn’t appear to have mastered. If you want to play Flash Video in Windows Media Player, we’ll tell you how.

Next, I went out to test how well RealPlayer rips streaming videos. All I did was open up my Firefox browser and go to JibJab as a first try. As you can see below, the RealPlayer plugin put a small download tab over the video and all I had to do was to click on it to download the video.

cn_realplayer5

cn_realplayer1

The download link worked nicely. I also tried it at a few other video sharing sites like YouTube, Viddler, Vimeo and DailyMotion. It works at them all.

Once downloaded, I checked to see how well RealPlayer could convert it to a different format. The first format I tried was “Zune” which is actually a WMV file format.

cn_realplayer3

It took what seemed forever for the conversion but it got the job done. If you do a lot of conversion between file formats, you may want to try something like Quick Media Converter or maybe an online media converter.

Conclusion:
RealPlayer seems to be making real progress on not giving us so many headaches. I don’t feel that it’s any worse than using Windows Media Player in most cases. If you need to go out and rip videos from the video sharing sites, it may be a great tool for you. If you are using Firefox, keep in mind that there are quite a few addons that also let you grab streaming video from websites. RealPlayer isn’t the only game in town. It’s up to you. Personally, I’ll probably be uninstalling it soon.

How Can I Change the Icon for a File Extension or File Type?

It is very easy to change the icon associated with a File Type once you learn the trick. Below I’ll show you how to change the icon for the Text file type. Windows will let you do this, but it’s not often easy. I recommend that you try out a small free stand-alone program called “Default Programs Editor” that makes it simple to change the icons for file types.

Default Programs Editor (DPE)

You can download DPE here. (requires Microsoft .Net Framework 3.5)
If you don’t want to or can’t use .Net Framework, then this freebie, File Association Editor, will also work for you.

DPE will download as a zip file. You’ll need to extract the contents of the zip file to a folder of your choice. Start the program by double clicking Default Programs Editor.exe. Then click File Type Settings.

cn_dpe01

Choose the Icondialog.

cn_dpe02

Use the search field to find the file type you want. In this case I typed in txtto find the file type for text files.

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It will show the current icon associated with Text files. Click the Browsebutton to select a new icon.

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Now it shows the location of the current icon. Click Browseonce more, to go to an icon file or library you need. I selected the shell32.dlllibrary which is in the Windows\System32 folder.

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Just for fun, I chose the red circle with a crossbar through it.

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Click the Save Iconbutton and you’ll see this message.
The settings for Text Documentwere successfully changed

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Finally, click Doneand you’ll be able to see that all your chosen files have a new icon.

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Here’s what my text files look like now.

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I don’t think I’ll be keeping this icon for my text files, but I hope you get the idea.

Be careful out there and have a nice day.

How Can I Change Windows Default Desktop Icons?

Here’s how to change the standard icons you normally see on your Windows Desktop.

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These instructions are for Windows XP.

Scroll on down further to see how to do this in Vista or Windows 7.

Right click on an empty spot on your desktop and select Properties. Then choose the Desktoptab as shown.

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Click the Customize Desktopbutton. Select the icon you wish to change and then click the Change Iconbutton.

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You’ll see the location of the current icon and clicking Browsewill allow you to choose a new icon.

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Here you can see that I’ve selected an icon from the shell32.dllicon library. Hit the OK button after you’ve selected the icon you wish to use.

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You should now see the changed icon in the list. If you are done changing icons, you can hit OK to save your changes. You will have to hit another OK button after that to exit the Desktop properties.

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Now you can see the changed icon on your desktop.

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Instructions for Windows Vista and Windows 7

Right click on an empty spot on your desktop. Then select the Change desktop iconslink.

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The rest of the procedure is pretty much the same as what I showed you above for Windows XP.

That’s all there is to it. Now you can make your Windows a little more personal.

How to Make XP, Vista and Win7 Look Like Classic Windows 2000

Why would you ever want to do that?

Keith just posted an article telling you how to make Windows 7 look like Windows XP. I’m actually dual booting XP and 7 so I don’t miss XP yet. I’d also be the first to tell you that I love the new eye candy in Windows Vista and Windows 7. However, it does come with a price. The window transparency and other visual effects might make an older PC that was designed for XP run just a little sluggish. The same is true on machines that were made to run Windows 95 or 98 but now have Windows XP on them.

Are you on a minimalistic kick?

Sometimes I’m in favor of dropping the eye candy and going back to basics. Maybe there are a few others out there who feel the same way.

Do you need to squeeze every last ounce of power out of your PC?

Some PC gamers would agree that anything you can do to drop Windows system requirements will help you boost your FPS (frames per second) and get you more kills in that favorite game.

Here’s what I’ve done.

The basic procedures are the same for Vista and Win7. In XP you won’t see step B, you’ll just select the Advanced tab.

A. Right click on My Computeror Computerand choose properties.

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B. Click on Advanced System Properties

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C. Click on the Performance Settings

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D. Put your dot in the Adjust for best performance.

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E. Click OKall the way home.

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Now Compare Win7 and Win2k.

As you can see, the main similarities are the window borders and the Start button.

Windows 7 screenshot

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Windows 2000 screenshot

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win2k image from guidebookgallery.org

That’s it. All of the features are still there, it’s just got that old Classic look to it. Do you love it or hate it? Do you have a better idea? Please comment below.