Freeware Fridays | Top Tools of the Week #30

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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.


Google Chrome 10 Beta Released; Faster than Rabbits

Google Chrome

Google Chrome 10 beta released. The new version is twice as fast as Chrome 9 and includes the Crankshaft technology for V8 engine and GPU-accelerated video support to decrease CPU usage.

 

Opera 11.10 "Barracuda" Alpha Available for Downloads, It’s Really Fast

Opera 11.10 Barracuda

Opera has released Opera 11.10 "Barracuda" Alpha for Windows, Mac and Linux. Download the Opera 11.10 Barracuda Alpha.

 

10 New Water Themed Screensavers

water-water-water-screensavers

These new water screensavers will put you in a relaxed mood. Be sure to give one a try.

 

Block Websites in Google Search Results With Chrome Extension

Block Websites Google Search

Ban websites from appearing in Google Search Results. Personal Blocklist extension allows users to block websites from appearing in Google Search Results.

 

Minus Is A Dead Simple App To Share Images and Files

Min.us Drag and Drop Uploading

Minus provides a dead simple way to share images and files online. Drag and drop files and images to share them online.

 

6 Must Have Chrome Extensions for Twitter Users

twitter3

Twitter is source for news, place to get real-time updates on what happening right now. If you’re using Chrome to access Twitter here are the extensions that might helpful to you.

 

Download Internet Explorer 9 Release Candidate

Internet Explorer 9

Download Internet Explorer 9 Release Candidate. Download IE9 RC for Windows 7 and Windows Vista PCs.

 

Call of Duty Parody Hits 1.25 Million Downloads

dutycalls

When People Can Fly studios released their First Person Shooter (FPS) parody Duty Calls (directly mocking the Call of Duty series), they just wanted it to be a satirical view on the realisticFPS genre and an anti-demo for their game Bulletstorm. Basically, what they were saying is that our game, Bulletstorm, is not this game. It is definitely everything but this game. Look at this game. This game is stupid. You know which game we are talking about, right? Yes, that game., more or less.

 

10 New Screensavers for Your Valentine

valentine-10

Valentine’s day is close and you’ll find plenty of free screensavers and wallpapers on the net. Be careful to visit only safe websites when you are looking for them.

 

Google Chrome 9 Hits Stable Build, Google Chrome 11 Hits Canary Build

Google Chrome

Google Chrome 9 has been released to stable channel users, while Google Chrome 11 is now available in the Canary build.

 

Spybot Portable a Great Way to Search and Destroy Spyware

spybot-sd-ico

Spybot Search and Destroy was one of the first effective freeware apps for the removal of of adware and spyware that were infecting PCs. After 10 years of development, it’s still one of the best.

 

Learn the Countries of the World with Enigeo

globe

How many countries are there in the World? What are their names? Where are they located? Learn all this and more with Enigeo, a free learning game for all ages.

 

This Is Probably The Fastest Way To Take Screenshots And Share Them Online

greenshot_2011-01-27_22-40-03

You thought you could screenshot fast? Beat this, because this is the fastest.

 

20 New Screensavers for Valentines Day

valentine-screensavers

Valentine’s day is close and you’ll find plenty of free screensavers and wallpapers on the net. Be careful to visit only safe websites when you are looking for them.

 


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.

Watson Supercomputer Pwns Humans in Jeopardy!

It’s all over now. The massive   IBM computer, named Watson, has destroyed its two human opponents in the last round of this epic 3 day Jeopardy! battle.

watson-and-opponents

This adds more weight to the belief that computers will soon be running the world, and humans will be obsolete. Watson is made up of 100 IBM Power 750 server units and 15 terabytes of onboard ram.

watson-servers

Here’s what a IBM blogger said about the final moments of the game.

The contest between man and machine on Jeopardy! was decided when IBM’s Watson computer landed on the second Daily Double on day three.   The clue was: This two-word phrase means the power to take private property for public use as long as there is just compensation.Watson’s response: What is eminent domain?

The answer eminent domain, is now also the status of Watson’s tally versus his merely human opponents. Watson scored $77,147, compared to $24,000 for Ken Jennings and $21,600 for Brad Rutter. Jennings admitted defeat as he wrote the following under his final answer:

I for one welcome our new computer overlords.

Here’s a video from day 2 of the show.

So what’s next for computers? They already beat us at chess and Jeopardy. Will a computer win the Indy 500 next? It’s possible, since Google has already developed cars that drive themselves.

I’m guessing that the only way to beat these smart machines is to join them. Are you ready to become Human 2.0 ?

10 New Water Themed Screensavers

[Windows Only]

You might find plenty of free water themed screensavers and wallpapers on the net, but you have to be careful to visit only safe websites when you are looking for them. Kick back and relax as you watch these 10 new screensavers.

water-water-water-screensavers

As many of you have learned by now, not all free screensavers are created equal. Many times, free means that you have to install stupid toolbars, adware and other unwanted junk along with the screensaver. That’s not true of the ones at NewFreeScreensavers.

One of the nice features of these screensavers is that they now have settings to mute the sounds. Some of the screensavers also have a setting to include a small analog clock on the screen.

arrow-down-double-3 Screensaver Download Page

W i n d o w s 7 t h e m e s?

blue-water-themeIf you have Windows 7, be sure to check out the water themes from Microsoft. If you don’t have Windows 7, you can still snag the wallpapers by using this trick.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I’ve downloaded and installed several of the screensavers at this site and never had a problem with any of them. These screensavers are safe, totally free, and there are dozens more to check out once you visit.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Watson Supercomputer Ties in First Jeopardy Game Against Humans

IBM_Watson_AvatarValentine’s Day wasn’t all hearts and flowers, as a massive IBM computer faced off against two human opponents on the popular Jeopardy! TV game. IBM has been working on a computer that not only understands human language, but can answer riddles based on it’s ability to search a huge database and determine the most likely answer.

The computer is called Watsonand is made up of 100 IBM Power 750 server units and 15 terabytes of onboard ram. Here’s what IBM said about Watson, just before the first game:

After seven years of research and planning, thousands of hours of testing and over fifty champion-level sparring matches, Watson is finally ready to face the two greatest Jeopardy!champions in history – Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

This contest is scheduled to run three days, and after the first day, Watson has won $5000, is tied for first place with Brad Rutter, with Ken Jennings in third place, with $2000. At the end of the show, it was obvious that Watson was bright and fast, but he has a few flaws that kept him from running away with a big win.

Here’s a video of the first show. It may not be online long, because it was put up by someone without permission from Jeopardy.

There’s no doubt now, that computers are getting smarter. Many people believe that by 2045, computers will be running the world, and humans will be obsolete. Due to recent discoveries in electronics, I’d be tempted to put the date at 2040. Move aside Big Brother, it’s only a matter of time before Skynet wakes up.

Yahoo Valentine Doodle – Cute Overload

heart-balloonsEarlier today, Keith wrote about the latest Google Doodle, and he spared them no mercy when he said Google’s Valentine Day Doodle Is An Eyesore. I agree with Keith to a certain extent. I didn’t hate the new Doodle, but it’s definitely not as good as I’ve come to expect from them.

Here you can see Google’s latest exercise in poor taste.

On the other hand, Yahoo has a much better graphic on their home page. In celebration of Valentine’s day, Yahoo posted nice flash animation with two birds falling in love.

Here you can see an animated gif, I created from a screen capture.

yahoo-valentine-2011_X

You can also see this as a Youtube video that I uploaded.

What do you think? Isn’t that a cute overload? I’m confident enough in my manliness, to admit that I like it far better than Google’s lame graphic.

Here’s wishing you all a great Valentine’s day, or a belated one if this post reaches you too late.

Google Says: Happy Birthday Jules Verne!

Today when I fired up Google for my first search, I was greeted with this cool looking interactive Google Doodle. You can see a video of the Verne doodle in action here.

verne-doodle

Naturally, I was curious and after clicking on the doodle, I found out that it’s the 183rd birthday of Jules Verne. As most of you know, Verne is a famous French science fiction writer who died in 1905, at the age of 77.

Verne’s stories are so entertaining, that he’s listed as the third most translated individual author in the world. Even though some the gizmos in his books were unbelievable, many of them later became fact instead of fiction. Here’s a list of 8 Jules Verne inventions that came true. (courtesy of National Geographic)

  1. Electric Submarines
  2. Newscasts
  3. Solar Sails
  4. Lunar Modules
  5. Skywriting
  6. Videoconferencing
  7. Taser
  8. Splashdown Spaceship

Here are a few of the books that he has written. I bet you’ll recognize at least one.

The Mysterious Island

A Journey to the Center of the Earth

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas

From the Earth to the Moon, and a Trip Around It

Around the World in Eighty Days

The Lighthouse at the End of the World

I’ve read one or two of his books, but I think most of you are probably more familiar with the dozens of movies that have been made, based on his novels.

Here’s a trailer for one of the most famous movies.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) Trailer

You can find many of Verne’s books online (for free!) at Project Gutenberg. You can also watch several clips from movies based on Verne’s novels, at Youtube.


10 New Screensavers for Your Valentine

[Windows Only]

Valentine’s day is only a week away, and a new sweet screensaver might make your favorite geek, a grateful geek.   You’ll find plenty of free screensavers and wallpapers on the net, but you have to be careful to visit only safe websites when you are looking for them.

As many of you have learned by now, not all free screensavers are created equal. Many times, free means that you have to install stupid toolbars, adware and other unwanted junk along with the screensaver. That’s not true of the ones at NewFreeScreensavers.

The latest 10 screensavers now brings the total to 35 Valentine themes on the download page.

valentine-10

One of the nice features of these screensavers is that they now have settings to mute the sounds. Some of the screensavers also have a setting to include a small analog clock on the screen.

arrow-down-double-3 Valentine Screensaver Download Page

Windows 7 themes?

valentine-win7-themeIf you have Windows 7, be sure to check out the Valentine theme from Microsoft. If you don’t have Windows 7, you can still snag the wallpapers by using this trick.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I’ve downloaded and installed several of the screensavers at this site and never had a problem with any of them. These screensavers are safe, totally free, and there are dozens more to check out once you visit.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Ready for the Next Big Computer Explosion?

please-waitHow would you like your PC to turn on and off instantly? If you are familiar with MS Windows, you could call this instant hibernation. There would be no Shutdownsequence to wait on. When you turn it back on, your PC will be exactly as you left it. There would be no boot time, and no need to restart applications.

Instant on-off has been sort of a Holy Grail for years. It can be done now, but it requires the use of SSDs (Solid State Drives based on flash memory). SSDs are about 40 times more expensive than regular hard disks, and fail much faster. In other words, instant on-off is not for the average consumer yet.

That could change completely by 2020, and it’s looking like SSDs will end up on the scrap heap of history.

The Memristor memory and logic

In 1971, an electronics guru, Dr. Leon Chua, theorized that we were missing a passive circuit element. All electronic devices today are based on the properties of three electronic elements,   the resistor, capacitor, and inductor.

the-missing-electronic-element

Dr. Chua mathematically invented the Memristor. It’s unique properties allow it to remember the last current that flowed through it. In other words, it’s perfect for making memory devices.

the-4th-electronic-element

It took 37 years for someone to finally discover the right combination of materials that duplicated the function of a memristor. In 2008, HP Labs announced the development of memristor devices.

HP also hopes to offer memristor devices with storage densities of about 20 gigabytes per square centimeter in 2013. A few years later, they predict that we’ll have a petabit (125 terabytes) of non-volatile memory in a square centimeter. Some experimental results show that the devices can switch in nano-seconds and last a very long time, unlike current flash or hard disks.

Memory isn’t the only function that memristors could replace. Since memristors can remember the linear charge that passes through them, they can do far more than store information as simple zeros or ones, like today’s digital circuits. These   electronic components can work like the neurons in our brains.

Once the bugs get worked out, will intelligent machines be far off? R.S. Williams at HP, is already working on designs for a centimeter sized chip that would have as many simulated neurons as a cat’s brain has. It sounds like we can expect the technological Singularity to arrive sooner than some expected.

Are You Too Stupid to Cross a Street While on the Phone?

no-cell-phoneAccording to Carl Kruger, a state senator from Brooklyn, New York, you are too stupid to cross a street while talking on a cell phone. Therefore, Carl wants to save New York pedestrians by passing a law making it illegal to use an electronic device while crossing a street on foot. Some are calling it the iPod Bill.

deer-crossing-signA recent report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, blames a 0.4% increase in pedestrian fatalities on electronic distractions, such as mobile phones and iPods, even though the causes haven’t been proven. Maybe there are actually more people on foot because of the 8.2% New York unemployment rates? Maybe people are walking more to avoid the higher gas prices?

Like many bright politicians, Senator Kruger keeps an eye out for any potential problems that might kill any future voters. He was quoted by the New York Times as saying “We’re taught from knee-high to look in both directions, wait, listen and then cross. You can perform none of those functions if you are engaged in some kind of wired activity.

kruger-ny-state-senatorDid we elect officials like Kruger to protect us from common every day activities, instead of doing things like balancing the state budget? It’s possible that the Senator believes that the $100 fines collected from violators of this new law might offset the current $64.8 billion dollar New York state debt.

policemanThese fines might provide the money needed to hire more police. The additional police could patrol the crosswalks so that they can collect even more fees. The average New York municipal policeman’s salary is about $60, 000. The cop would only have to bust about 600 people a year to break even. That sounds reasonable, right?

If this law is passed and deemed successful, maybe we’ll start seeing even better laws. Should senators chew gum while walking?

Do You Want Big Brother Spying on You?

Back in 2006, the   U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, under the Bush Administration, called for new rules that would require ISPs and cell phone companies to collect more data (spy) on all of their users. It’s called Mandatory Data Retention. At the time, there was enough opposition to this idea that it never got far.

Recently, the  House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security held a hearing to promote this controversial idea once more. Several members of congress have already proposed legislation on data retention, and support for it is coming from both Democrats and Republicans. The Obama administration’s Department of Justice is also expected to support forced data retention.

Currently, ISPs and phone services already keep transaction records for 90 days, in accordance with the 1996 Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act. After 90 days, the records are deleted, and some law enforcement agencies would like to see these records kept much longer.

Big-Brother-is-Watching-YouSince it’s obvious to many that this is another case of Big Brother is watching, how can these politicians justify their call for more intrusion into business’s and customer’s internet and phone traffic?

Most of this call to action is the result of law enforcement and defense agencies wanting longer retention periods, and politicians that want to look like they are tough on internet crime, such as child pornography. However, privacy advocates such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), see it as having bad unintended consequences for user privacy, First Amendment anonymous speech, and ballooning costs for retaining the information.

In my opinion, new laws requiring data retention are going to cause more problems than they solve.

Law enforcement agencies can already ask internet and telecom providers to collect extensive information on suspects. Collecting more data will help law enforcement and Homeland Security catch criminals and terrorists, but these new laws will treat all of us like suspects.

The collected information will seriously clamp down on anonymous speech and whistle blowing. Do you trust the government to stop itself from trying to track down sources of leaked information or people who voice strong anti-government or opposition party speech?

Government and law enforcement won’t be the only ones able to access this data. How many websites are hacked every day? How many government agencies have data stolen from them? We’ve already seen what’s happened with WikiLeaks and government employees who get fooled into giving out information.

It will also make simple visits to legal sites more ominous. Would you want everyone to know you’d visited a site about STDs, mental health, bankruptcy, adult entertainment, or any other normally private topic.

Civil courts will be able to get access to this information. It could be used in divorce cases, to prove infidelity. It could be used in law suits to prove prior knowledge or associations.

The internet and telecom providers can handle the additional open-ended costs of mandatory data retention, since those costs will be transferred to the consumers. It will be the same as a new hidden tax. Smaller businesses, and start-ups may not be able to bear the added costs, thus reducing innovation, and killing competition with the big internet companies.

In summary, new data retention laws would be good for big government, law enforcement and big business. They would be bad for the average joe consumer, free speech and free association. If you don’t agree (or you hate freedom), you have the freedom to comment below.