Freeware Fridays | Top Tools Of the Week #5

FreewareIn 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.

Note: Some of these are from last week. I accidentally over-wrote an old post so they didn’t get published correctly last Friday. Sorry …


icofx-icon Create and Edit Icons with a Free Portable App IcoFX
This free portable utility can do nearly everything you’d need when you’re working with Windows and Mac icons,

texter-icon Automatic Spelling Correction and Text Expansion with Texter
Would you like to have most of your misspellings corrected automatically? You can have that, and much more, with a small portable utility named ‘Texter’.

everything-search-results Everything A Super Fast Portable File Search
A small freeware program named “Everything” can eliminate the slow Windows file searches that force you to take long coffee breaks.

paperbusPaperbus : Bypass Internet Censors And Access Blocked Sites
Paperbuss is free multi-platform utility to access blocked sites and bypass internet filters.

Opera-Mini-iPhoneComing Soon : Fizzik A Social Web Browser
Fizzik is a new web browser that is targeted to keep you updated with the  social media  as well as news and videos. The browser is built on the Microsoft technologies.

mediaspider-batch-download-images-googleBatch Download Images From Google Images, Deviant Art And 4Chan
Media spider is free portable tool that helps you batch download pictures from Google Images, Devian Art and 4Chan

DontSleepTemporarily Disable Windows Power Settings with Don’t Sleep
Don’t Sleep is a tiny portable application for Windows which temporarily suspends Windows power settings and prevents the system from logging off, restarting, hibernation or going to sleep mode

icon-last-fm

Record Last.fm Songs with Last Recorder But is it Legal?

A freeware tool called Last Recorder will allow you to download MP3 songs from Last.FM. The question about the legality of doing this still remains unanswered.
blue-rule3 Animated Waterfall Screensavers You Will Love
Moving water and clear blue skies will cheer up your screen when the PC isn’t doing anything. Check out these fantastic animated waterfall screensavers.

pdf-icon Split and Merge PDF Files with GiosPSM
Unless you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat, making changes to existing PDF files is a problem. I’ve discovered a great free program that helps me deal with splitting and merging PDF files.

lockup-icon Lock Your Programs with Lockup
If you need to keep people from running specific applications on your PC, this little freeware app could be one of your favorite tools. It’s small, easy to use and it’s free.

Convert Almost Any Video Format with Any Video Converter
This free program allows you to convert between a large number of video formats such as AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4, MPG, M2TS, MTS, RM, RMVB, QT, and WMV. It can also download and convert YouTube videos.


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.

Create and Edit Icons with a Free Portable App – IcoFX

icofx-icon[Windows Only] Since most applications come with nice icons already embedded in them, I rarely need to create or edit icons. Once in awhile, I do need an icon editor, and I recently discovered that IcoFX is a great tool for that and more. The main reason I decided to try it was that it’s available as a portable app.

I downloaded a zip file containing IcoFX and extracted it into a folder on my flash drive.

icofx-files

I fired up IcoFX, and within 2 minutes I had created my first icon. I was astounded by how easy it was.

The IcoFX interface is easy to use and very stylish. It’s image editing tools include everything you find in Windows Paint, but it also has the tools you need to create gradients, transparency and much more.

icofx-editing

In addition to letting you create icons by hand, you can drop images into the editor, and it will walk you through converting the image into an icon.

icofx-import

When you dig into the Tools menu, you’ll find that you can:

* Convert Windows icons to Mac
* Convert Mac icons to Windows
* Extract icons from EXE and DLL files
* Create and manage ICL icon libraries
* Create compressed PNG icons for Vista/Seven
* Change the icons in EXE files

If you need help, there are several tutorials on the home site:
http://icofx.ro/tutorials/tutorial1.html

IcoFX download page: (Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7)
http://icofx.ro/downloads.html

If you need some background information on Windows icons, I’ve written a couple of tutorials for you.

How to Change the Icon for a File Extension or File Type
How to Open Up or Edit an ICO file or Icon Library

We’ve also covered several free apps that help you deal with icons.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

IcoFX is a great tool for quickly creating and editing icons. I like the fact that it’s small, portable and completely free. It may not be a must haveapplication, but I can definitely recommend it.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Automatic Spelling Correction and Text Expansion with Texter

texter-icon [Windows Only] How often do you type the word “teh” instead of “the”? If it’s very often, you aren’t alone. “Teh” is so common that it’s become an accepted word on the internet.

Would you like to have most of your misspellings corrected automatically? You can have that, and much more, with a small portable freeware utility named ‘Texter’.

Texter is a text replacement tool from Adam Pash at Lifehacker. It includes a small library of common spelling errors, and it will constantly watch every word you type. When it recognizes a misspelled word, it can automatically change the letters to correct the error. However, the real power it gives you is the ability to create your own letter combinations and replacements. For example, I can set up Texter to automatically replace “imo” with “In my opinion”.

Watch this video if you’d like to see Texter in action:

( link to video )

I use Texter for:
• phrases that I type often
• abbreviations that I like to expand
• addresses I type often
• passwords at websites
• long signatures at the end of letters
• famous quotes at the end of letters
• programming code snippets

Download from Texter Home Page:

If you liked this post, you should take a look at some free copy and paste enhancements and a clipboard manager named Ditto.

texter-management-add-new-hotstring

Techie Buzz Verdict:
If you aren’t using a text replacement tool already, Texter is good place to start. It’s free, it’s portable and it’s easy to use. Like me, you may find that it’s a ‘must-have’ on your PC and on your portable flash drive. The only thing it’s missing is a local help file describing all of the features.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4.5/5 (almost perfect)

Everything – A Super Fast Portable File Search

[Windows Only] “Everything” is a small and portable freeware program that lets you find files in Windows with blazing speed. About two years ago, one of my readers sent me a nice comment about it, and I’ve been using it every since.

Here’s what the main window of Everything looks like after a search:

everything-search-results

As you can see in the snapshot here, Everything supports the normal Windows file context menus when you right-click on a file. This is one of my favorite features. That means that you can launch a file, open a folder, copy, move or rename a file without having to leave Everything’s search window.

There are plenty of other features in Everything, such as;

• Small installation file
• Clean and simple user interface
• Quick file indexing
• Quick searching
• Minimal resource usage
• Share files with others easily
• Real-time updating

… and much more.

One of the many features that I have rarely used, is Everything’s ability to broadcast it’s search results across a network or the internet using FTP, ETP or HTTP. That means you can set it up so that anyone on your network can search the computer that Everything is running on. Here’s what the results look like in a web browser.

everything-browser-results

You can even download the files to another PC using the web browser.

Another of my favorite features in Everything is the fact that it’s portable. When I move it from one PC to another, I only take a single file named everything.exe. Once that single file is running, it creates it’s own settings file and it’s own database file in the same folder that it’s running in.

One thing you may notice is that Everything does take a few seconds to scan your drive and while it’s doing that, the search results window is completely blank. Before you get used to this fact, you might be tempted to start typing a search query into the search field. Don’t bother, because nothing will happen until it’s done scanning your drives.

The search results are immediate and update with every character you type into the search field. It does support wild card, boolean and regex searches if you need that type of searching power.

Download Everything Search

http://www.voidtools.com

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I use Everything quite often and it’s a must-have utility for all of my PCs. It does almost everything I need but it is missing one thing that other indexed search programs have; it can’t search inside of files for matching results. I rarely need that feature, and I have no problem recommending Everything for everyone.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

How To Use Regedit

reg-icon Windows stores its configuration settings in a database called the registry. These settings are constantly modified by the many different programs running in Windows. Users can also make changes to the registry by using the Windows registry editor, regedit. Making changes to the registry is a common way to correct problems and change the way Windows looks and acts.

However, making the wrong registry changes can cripple your Windows system. So before you start hacking away with regedit, you should learn a little about it. This tutorial will explain some of the features in regedit and tell you how to use it safely.

Backing up the registry

Back up the registry before you make changes. One convenient way to do this is to use Windows System Restore. Here’s how to use System Restore. Another method for backing up the Windows registry is using a free utility named ERUNT, and here is how ERUNT works. Make sure you understand one of these methods before going any further.

Launching regedit

Unlike most other system tools, regedit will not appear in any of your menus when you click the Start button. That means you’ll have to launch it some other way. I’ll tell you how to start it using the Run dialog.

To bring up the Run dialog, hold down the Windows key and tap the R key.

winkey r

Now type regedit into the command entry box and click OK.

start-run-regedit

Using Regedit

Once launched, regedit will pop up pretty quickly. Here’s what it looks like:

regedit-hives-displayed

First, I’ll mention that you can see a Helpmenu in regedit and you’ll find plenty of information in it that I won’t cover in this tutorial.

The navigation pane (on the left) is showing the 5 main hivekeys, which always start with the word HKEY. To navigate deeper into the registry, you need to click on the plus (+) signs next to a hive key. The same applies the further into registry you go. Once you click on a plus, it will display all the sub-keys under that key and the plus will change into a minus (-) sign. Clicking on the minus sign will collapse the structure back to the way it was.

In the view below, you can see that I’ve located the key for a piece of software that I had installed.

regedit-delete-key

At the bottom of the window you can see the registry path to this key. Right clicking on a key will bring up a menu showing several actions.

  • New, will create a new key under the key I have selected.
  • Delete- If this was a program that was no longer installed on my PC, I could safely delete this key.
  • The Copy Key Nameaction places the full path to the key in your Windows Clipboard, and it can be pasted as text into other applications, such as email or a web browser.
  • Exportaction allows you to save the information under a registry key, and this information can be restored later if it’s needed. It’s a good idea to export a key before you make changes to it. I’ll talk more about exported keys later.

Here you can see that I’ve navigated down into the Current User hive to take a look at my mapped network drives.

regedit-add-new-key

In this view, I have the Zkey open. In the right pane (data pane), you can see the entries for the data values under this key. Each piece of data under a key has a name, type and value. The data name can be almost any string of letters as long as it doesn’t contain a space. There are several types of data, as shown above, and you can learn more about them in the regedit help file.

Right clicking into an empty area in the data pane will bring up the Newmenu, as shown above, which allows you to add new data entries. Right clicking on one of the data entries, as shown below, will allow you to modify its value or delete it entirely.

regedit-modify-data

Importing data into the registry

Above I mentioned that you can export a key to save all the sub-keys and data under it. When you export a key, you will see that it wants to save as a REG file.

regedit-export-a-key

A .reg file is actually a plain text file and you can open it up in Notepad to see what’s inside of it. Here’s a look inside of one:

regedit-exported-reg-file

That’s good to know, because you will often find registry tweaks published online in plain text as shown in the image above. All you need to do is to copy the text, paste it into Notepad and then save it as a .REG file.

reg-file-merge

Once you have a REG file that you want to restore or add to the registry, all you need to do is double click on it, or right click on it and Mergeit into the registry. When you do this, you’ll get a message asking you to confirm this action.

reg-file-merge-dialog

After you confirm, you’ll get a message telling you that the information was entered.

reg-file-merge-dialog-confirmed

Notes:
  • If you’ve made changes to the registry, you won’t always see an immediate change (if it’s one you can see). Many times you will have to log out of Windows and log back in before you see any changes.
  • Some free tools make it easy to change your registry without using regedit. These programs are often called tweakor system enhancement tools, such as TweakUI (from Microsoft).
  • Here are some sites with lots of registry tweaks you can apply to Windows.
  • Here are some tutorials on how to use the registry and REG files.
  • Here is a list of free registry tools.
Summary

I’ve told you what the registry is, how to back it up, make changes to it, and finally, how to add to the registry using REG files. Now you have enough information to safely make registry changes, and you can learn even more about these topics in the regedit help file and other places online.

Freeware Fridays | Top Tools Of the Week #4

FreewareIn 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.


icon-last-fm

Record Last.fm Songs with Last Recorder But is it Legal?

A freeware tool called Last Recorder will allow you to download MP3 songs from Last.FM. The question about the legality of doing this still remains unanswered.
blue-rule3 Animated Waterfall Screensavers You Will Love
Moving water and clear blue skies will cheer up your screen when the PC isn’t doing anything. Check out these fantastic animated waterfall screensavers.

pdf-icon
Split and Merge PDF Files with GiosPSM
Unless you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat, making changes to existing PDF files is a problem. I’ve discovered a great free program that helps me deal with splitting and merging PDF files.

lockup-icon
Lock Your Programs with Lockup
If you need to keep people from running specific applications on your PC, this little freeware app could be one of your favorite tools. It’s small, easy to use and it’s free.


Convert Almost Any Video Format with Any Video Converter
This free program allows you to convert between a large number of video formats such as AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4, MPG, M2TS, MTS, RM, RMVB, QT, and WMV. It can also download and convert YouTube videos.


I’ve picked a few freebies from the SnapFiles Freeware directory for you to check out.

snapfiles-logo

NEW – AutoSizer v1.71

AutoSizer is a small program that runs in the system tray and can automatically resize and reposition any program or folder window. You can choose to maximize or minimize a specific window, define cu….

NEW – uPrompt v1.0

uPrompt is a simple teleprompter software, designed for personal webcam production and audio annotations for instructional desktop videos. The teleprompter windows can be docked to the top or bottom ….

NEW – File Blender v0.18

File Blender is a customizable file conversion and processing tool with a minimalist interface that automatically presents you with available conversion options when you drag and drop a file onto the….

NEW – Calibre v0.6.46

Calibre is an open source e-book library management application that enables you to manage your e-book collection, convert e-books between different formats, synchronize with popular e-book reader de….

Update – Pencil v0.4.4b

Pencil is a traditional 2D animation software that enables you to create pencil sketches and animated them to create hand-drawn cartoon animations using both bitmap and vector graphics. The program p….


Do you have any suggestions for us? Do you have any requests for free software? Be sure to comment below.

Record Last.fm Songs with Last Recorder – But is it Legal?

icon-last-fm [Windows Only] The other day, I ran into a new listing for a freeware application named Last Recorder. Here’s what the author says about this little tool.

Last Recorder is a small program that can save tracks from Last.fm audio streams into separate tagged mp3 files.

While I can’t confirm that I actually used this program to download music, I can confirm that this program does work. It does download full length mp3 songs from Last.fm while preserving the song titles. Here’s what Last Recorder looks like:

lastrecorder-interface

Last Recorder is a single executable file and no installation is needed. When it first launches, it will prompt you to enter your user ID and password. Then you can select a choice of radio stations by using the drop down on the left and these are the options:

Tag
Artist
My Tag
My Radio
My Loved Tracks
My Neighbors
My Recommendations
Custom URL

You will also have to select a download location on the right side drop down box.

Given the fact that this download tool seems to work, the question that many people will have is, Is this legal?. I did find an FAQ on the site regarding this question and the answer was I don’t know for sure.In my opinion, downloading these songs is about the same as recording music from the radio stations or television. Do I think it’s legal? It may be legal to download the information (music), but you are definitely breaking your agreement with Last.fm’s Terms of Use. Whether or not that agreement is actually binding on you may depend on where you live and which way the courts are swinging that day.

So, I’ll leave it up to you.

Last Recorder Home Page

Techie Buzz Verdict:

This application does what it says and it also portable. While those are both good features, the question of it’s legality leaves me doubting that I will use it.

Techie Buzz Rating: 2.5/5 (Average)

3 Animated Waterfall Screensavers You Will Love

[Windows only] What is it about moving water with a clear blue sky that soothes and fascinates us? I think it’s built into us like the need to breathe. Today I’ll show you three free and fantastic screensavers that will feel like a breathe of fresh clean air.

blue-rule

1. NFS HD Waterfall 01 This screensaver shows animated water in the falls and in the pools. There are also some birds flying around. Sounds of nature and music can be controlled in the settings.

Download from Softpedia

nfshdwaterfall01

blue-rule

2. NFS HD Waterfall 03 This screensaver shows animated water in the falls and in the pools. Sounds of nature and music can be controlled in the settings. (no birds in this one)

Download from Softpedia

nfshdwaterfall03

blue-rule

3. NFS Waterfall 01 This screensaver shows animated water in the waterfalls and in the pools. There are also some birds flying around. Sounds of nature and music can be controlled in the settings.

Download from Softpedia

nfswaterfall01

blue-rule

Kudos to NewFreeScreensavers, the developer of these and many more screensavers. Check them out when you have the time.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

These screensavers are completely free, and there are no nag screens, ads or big trade marks on them. The settings aren’t very complicated but do offer some great options. I found nothing to complain about and I highly recommend them.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

Split and Merge PDF Files with GiosPSM

pdf-icon I deal with PDF files almost every day at work. Unless you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat, making changes to existing PDF files is sometimes a problem. I’ve discovered one program that helps me deal with splitting and merging PDF files. It’s name is Gios PDF Splitter and Merger‘ (GiosPSM).

GiosPSM is the result of an open source set of tools for manipulating PDF files. It is a stand-alone program and it’s all contained in a single executable file about 145kb in size. The program is small, mainly because it relies on the .NET Framework v2.0 libraries. Here’s what the main interface looks like:

GiosPSM-interface

The feature I like best about GioPSM is the fact that you can drag and drop PDF files into it’s list when you are using it. This is a big time saver when you are merging dozens of PDF files. So far, I haven’t found any other PDF split/merge tools that allowed drag and drop without some other limitations.

GiosPSM also allows you to set page ranges when you are splitting and merging so that you can specify exactly what you need to work with. There is also a command line version of GiosPSM for those who need to automate splitting and merging operations.

The one thing I don’t like about GiosPSM is the fact that it’s a little fussy and will occasionally crash on you. When it happens, no permanent harm is done and it’s only a minor problem.

Download: Gios Home Page (requires .NET Framework 2.0)

Techie Buzz Verdict:

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1 GiosPSM is easy to use, it’s small and it’s portable. This is a great free product that is actively being developed. The additional command line version is a real bonus for those needing to automate PDF operations.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Lock Your Programs with Lockup

lockup-icon [Windows Only] Do you manage or share user accounts on a PC? Are there certain programs that you don’t want someone to use? A tiny stand-alone freeware application named Lockup‘ will let you lock programs so they won’t run at all.

Lockup is very easy to use, but you should be very careful with it. If you make one wrong move, you can accidentally lock an entire user account so that it’s difficult to return to a usable state.

How to use Lockup:

Here’s a screenshot of one of the two modes of operation, Only the listmode.

lockup-block-internet-explorer

In the screenshot above, you can see that I’ve added Internet Explorer to the list of executable files that will not run. To add more executables to the list, click the Browsebutton to select an EXE file, then click the little green check-mark icon at the bottom of the Lockup window. After you reboot or log off the PC and log back in, you’ll find that the EXEs you’ve listed will bring up a message telling you that the program is restricted.

Below, you can see a screenshot of Lockup in the All except the listmode.

lockup-block-everything

This is a fairly risky mode since all executable files will be blocked from running, except those you add to the list. Make sure you don’t remove Lockup from the list or you may have a little trouble getting back access to it. I tried this mode briefly and it works great. All of my autorun (startup) applications failed to load when I logged in, even my antivirus application was blocked. This mode would be perfect for a PC that was used in a public place such as a library, school or cafe.

How does it work?

Occasionally, I run into a little program like this and I have to figure out what it’s doing. I learn lots of neat tricks this way. I suspected that Lockup was only making some changes to the Windows Registry and I was correct. I used an installation monitor to find out what changes it made in the second mode I showed you above.

lockup-block-registry-settings

As you can see in the image above, Lockup made changes to the Current_User policy to achieve the blocking it does. Anyone with the knowledge of these registry keys can do the same thing using the Windows Registry Editor (regedit.exe). Here’s a link to more information on the DisallowRun and RestrictRun registry keys.

Final Tips:

If you do get blocked from using programs or a specific program, you can still launch them using the Windows Run menu (Press Windows key + R) or from the command console (Press Windows key + R / type CMD’ without quotes / press Enter). For example, if I wanted to run Notepad, I could type notepad’ into the Run menu.

You can run Lockup from a USB flash drive if you want to make sure that nobody using the PC has access to the Lockup program. This could also be used for a practical joke if you are feeling mean (not recommended).

Also … here’s how to:

* Password Protect Programs and Files
* Lock and Hide Files and Folders
* Hide Your Secret Files in Zip Folders

Download: Home page for Lockup (requires .NET Framework 3.5)

Techie Buzz Verdict:

If you need to keep people from running specific applications on your PC, this little freeware app could be one of your favorite tools. It’s small, easy to use and it’s free.  The only thing missing from this application is a password protection feature.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)