Tag Archives: Windows

10 Unique and Unusual Screensavers

[Windows Only]

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.com. Here are the most recent additions to the site.

black-broken-glass dancing-at-sunset-01 digital-time-absent flowers-paint golf lightning-city-rain screen-figure several-spiders sunset-at-sea-boat under-water-color

These ten new screensavers are unusual, interesting and beautiful. I especially liked the Sunset at Sea Boat, even though it’s obviously named wrong. It should have been called Moonlight at Sea Boat. The other’s are each unique in their own ways and below, you can get a quick preview by watching this short video.

arrow-down-double-3 Screensaver Download Page

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)

Installing Zone Alarm Free Firewall

Do you understand what a firewall really does? Most people would tell you that a firewall protects you from hackers out there on the internet. They’re right, but there’s a little more to it.

Every modern operating system has a firewall. Windows PCs are a special case, because they are specifically targeted by the dark forces out there. That’s mainly true because of the huge user base of Windows computers around the world.

Your firewall is meant to protect you from evil computers trying to access your computer without your knowledge (inbound protection). However, good firewalls also prevent your PC from broadcasting your private information or spreading worms, viruses and spam to other computers (outbound protection).

Many years ago, Windows shipped XP without any firewall protection turned on by default. That was a huge mistake and millions of people paid the price for it. The mistake was fixed by XP Service Pack 1, but many of us have never forgotten what happens when you don’t use a firewall.

zone-alarm-icon Back in the days of Windows 95 and 98, I used a firewall called ZoneAlarm, because Microsoft didn’t even offer one at the time. These days, the Windows firewall for XP, Vista and 7 is adequate, but it doesn’t offer very good outbound protection. That’s why it may be a good idea to try out the newest ZoneAlarm Free. Here’s what the folks at ZA say about their product.

YOUR PROTECTION INCLUDES:

Firewall
Monitors inbound and outbound traffic flowing through your computer
Requests from an unknown or unsolicited source are identified and blocked
Hides your computer from hackers

DefenseNet
Leverages real-time threat data from community of millions of ZoneAlarm users to detect and block the latest attacks
All programs launched on your computer are compared against a database of known programs; malicious program are blocked and safe programs allowed, rare unknown programs result in a warning
Delivers stronger, quieter security

Anti-phishing
Warns you of phishing sites and spyware distribution sites
Uses signatures and heuristics to identify more fraudulent websites than standard protection

Online Backup
Securely upload/download files with User-defined encryption keys.
Retrieve data from any location – login via any web browser to your account and access backed up data.
Automated backup schedules the backup of data per your convenience.

Below, I’ll run through a typical install of ZoneAlarm Free, with screenshots and tips to help you get through it.

Completely Repair Windows XP Without Losing Files

winFour years ago, when Windows XP was still king, and Vista was only a jester, I ran into an article by Fred Langa, which told me how to fix XP without losing personal files. I’ve been using this fix ever since to repair computers that have been crippled by spyware and trojans.

There’s one requirement that is a show stopper. You must have an official Windows XP installation CD. Sometimes computers either don’t come with one, or they come with a Restore CDfrom the manufacturer. The Restore CD may not work, or it may work differently.

If you don’t have an official Windows XP CD, you might be able to borrow one from a friend, but you’d better have the Product Key from your PC. It should be listed on a label which was placed somewhere on your computer. If you can’t find your Product Key, there are a few ways to recover the Key.

Another way to get an official CD is to buy one. A few years ago, I bought two copies of Windows XP from Ebay.com. Just be sure to get your copy from a trusted seller.

windows-xp-cd-on-ebay

Assuming you have a valid Windows installation CD, here are the steps to fix Windows XP. This should be done only if you have no other options to fix it. There are no guarantees that it will always work.

1. Insert the Windows Install CD and reboot.

10 Animated Screensavers – Water Water Everywhere

screensaver-ico[Windows Only]
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.com. Check out these great looking waterscape themed screensavers.

water-1 water-2 water-3 water-4 water-5 water-6 water-7 water-8 water-9 water-a

This week’s waterscape themed screensavers are a special treat for those of you who feel like they should have been born under the sign of Aquarius. You have to see them to understand how well NFS has done on this set. My wife said Wow!, when I showed her the first one I installed.

Be sure to take a look at the top ten most popular screensavers which are available as one easy download. All of these screensavers are safe and totally free.

arrow-down-double-3 Download Page

Techie Buzz Verdict:

Once again, the author has made a change to the screensaver settings. I was not able to get the settings to work, but it doesn’t seem to affect the screensavers in any other way. You may not have the same problem though, and I’ll still recommend these with no reservations.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2011 is Now Available

avg-logo On September 28th, AVG announced the release of their 2011 suite of anti-virus and anti-malware programs. Included with this release is the ever popular free edition of AVG Anti-virus and the free LinkScanner application.

Even though AVG’s offerings have slipped some in the AV testing results, it’s still a great option for protecting home PCs. The addition of the LinkScanner, which warns you about your current web pages, bad links in web pages and risky links in email, seriously improves your chances of staying trouble-free.

As an added bonus to the entire web community, AVG has also unveiled AVG Threat Labs, a search engine which gives short reports on the safety of any web site or link.

A quick look at AVG Anti-Virus Free edition:

While installing, watch out for AVG’s offer to install a toolbar and change your home page to Yahoo. I said no to that. Be sure to uncheck those check-boxes if you feel the same way.

avg-install-3rd-party-options

Next, be prepared to wait. After the initial agreements, AVG will download about 130mb of data, to finish the install. With lots of others downloading the same data, you may not get a good download speed. I was definitely bored at this point.

After the download and install, the last screen will ask for your name and email address. If you are shy, you could type anything you want in there. You’ll also want to be aware of the very last check-box, which is set to allow AVG to collect anonymous information to help them improve the product. Uncheck it if you are paranoid.

Finally, here’s your first peek at the new AVG interface.

avg-main-interface

As you can see, the main two functions, Scan and Update, are on the left. Naturally, a free product is an opportunity to advertise, and you’ll see an Upgrade button and a large ad at the bottom. I don’t mind, but some people might.

I’m not going to go into any details on how to use AVG, it’s like most other anti-virus apps. Install it, do a few scans now and then, but mostly forget about it until a problem pops up.

AVG LinkScanner

During the installation of the anti-virus, I choose the Quick Install method. If you choose to customize your installation, you can select not to install some of the services such as LinkScanner. In previous versions of LinkScanner, there were some problems in certain web browsers, but those issues have been largely fixed. I recommend allowing it to install with the anti-virus. You can always disable it later if needed.

If you are using some other anti-virus product, you can install LinkScanner all by itself. There’s also a version for the Mac now.

Here’s what AVG says about the LinkScanner:

LinkScanner ® keeps you safe wherever you go online by actively checking links and web pages in real time the only time it matters – before you click that link. LinkScanner ® also places safety ratings next to your search results, allowing you to assess the safety of a site before visiting it.

The service it offers is similar to that offered by McAfee’s SiteAdvisor and WOT (Web of Trust), which I also recommend. I don’t believe it’s necessary to run more than one of these at a time, so pick one and try it out.

Once you start seeing link ratings in a web search, you’ll understand how it can keep you out of trouble.

linkscanner-ratings

download AVG Free Download AVG Anti-Virus 2011 Free Edition

download LinkScanner Download AVG LinkScanner

arrow-right-double Visit AVG Threat Lab to find out if sites or links are risky


Techie Buzz Verdict:

AVG’s free anti-virus products have always been good. However, due to recent results in AV testing, I’ve lost some of my faith in it. It’s still good, but not as good as some of the other free AV applications. However, the LinkScanner tool and the new AVG Threat Lab site have my hearty recommendations.

On a final note, my wife is a loyal AVG user and it’s always kept her safe. If you’ve been using AVG, and it’s been working well for you, there’s no reason not to upgrade to the 2011 version right now.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)


How to Read QR Codes on Your PC

[Windows Only]

If you are reading this, it’s likely that you already have some idea what a QR Code (or tag) is. If not, you can find out more about QR Codes on Wikipedia.

Clif's QR tag

Here’s my QR tag – what does it say?

Below, you can find out how to decode it.

People with smart phones and an internet connection, can take a snapshot of the code and find out what it says. I don’t have a smart phone, so I was feeling a little jealous every time I saw one of the tags posted somewhere. I decided to look for a way to decode these tags using my PC.

After many false turns, I finally found some freeware QR decoders that run on a PC. First I’ll tell you about bcTester, which allows you to decode QR tags in images and PDF files.

arrow-down-double-3 Download bcTester

After downloading, extract the bctester_en.zip file to a folder and run the setup file. Once installed, you’ll find the app in your Programs menu and you can launch it from there. Here’s what the main interface looks like.

bctester-with-qr-code-inside

You can open an image or PDF from the the Openicon (looks like a folder), or you can drag and drop images or PDFs onto it. Once you’ve got something to decode, you can hit the QR icon to decode it. There are several other tools to help if you run into a tag that doesn’t want to spill it’s secrets, and they offer plenty of help if you need it.

Next, I’ll show you bcWebCam. This application takes advantage of your webcam to grab images from the real world and decode the tags for you. You’ll need to install it after extracting the setup files from a zip, just like the bcTester app I mentioned above.

arrow-down-double-3 Download bcWebCam

When launched, it shows you a basic how-tofor capturing and decoding tags and bar codes.

bcWebCam-interface

I gave it a try and didn’t have much luck with it. That’s mainly because I didn’t have any good examples of codes or tags to take a picture of. I have no reason to doubt that it works like it’s supposed to, with a little practice.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

You won’t find many free applications like these. The bcTester app is a definite winner, because it’s simple to use and it works well. I’ll withhold an opinion on the bcWebCam at this time.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

WinPatrol Cloud Brings Group Intelligence to PC Security

scotty-the-windows-watchdog

[Windows Only]

One of the first security apps that I install on a new PC is WinPatrol. I don’t feel safe without Scottythe Windows watchdog in my system tray. I was getting ready to install it on my new laptop, when I noticed that there’s a new version of WinPatrol being offered. Here’s a glimpse of WinPatrol Cloud (beta).

winpatrol-cloud

As it stands now, WinPatrol already offers you the ability to track and make changes to your Windows settings. Here’s a partial list of the features.

  • Notifies you when programs are added as autorun (launch at Windows start)
  • Notifies you when changes are made to file types (such as .EXE, .JPG or .MP3)
  • Notifies you when new toolbars or helpers are added to Internet Explorer
  • Notifies you when IE’s home page is changed by a program
  • Allows you to stop applications from being autorun
  • Allows you to delay the start of autorun applications
  • Allows you to kill normally hidden applications
  • Allows you to stop and control the running of system services
  • Allows you to view and remove cookies in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome
  • Gives you information on unknown programs and services (Plus version)
  • much more …

Even without the added information from the PLUS version, the free version of WinPatrol is a great way to retain and increase your control of Windows.

At first, I didn’t see any new features in the cloud version. After upgrading my WinPatrol Cloud to the PLUS version, I discovered some of the new cloud features. Each page of information on unknown processes and services now has a place to vote on what you think of it.

winpatrol-cloud-stats-votes

As you can see, it’s also offering statistics on what other users have done with this program. This tracking of user decisions on configuration changes is one of the best new features. As the author says, it will be like the Millionaire’s “Ask the Audience” feature.

millionaire scottycloud

* Note WinPatrol is always free to use. You must purchase a license key to unlock the PLUS features. There’s also a portable version (singe EXE file) available, called WinPatrolToGo.

arrow-down-double-3 Download WinPatrol Cloud (beta)

Techie Buzz Verdict

I’ve used WinPatrol for over 6 years. It’s on almost every Windows machine I use. The addition of these new collaborative cloud features is like icing on a cupcake to me. WinPatrol always gets a big thumb’s up here.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

10 New Abstract Animated Screensavers

[Windows Only]

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.com. Here are the most recent additions to the site.

abstraction-color-dots-black abstraction-colorful-circle abstraction-color-line-blur abstraction-diagonal-line abstraction-spirals-black abstraction-spirals-black-2 clock-night-butterfly skyscraper-clock space-funnel tunnel-black

These ten new screensavers are eye-catching and mesmerizing. Swirling colors are the most common theme, although the two clock themes were my favorites. I especially liked the butterfly clock theme. Although I didn’t hear any sound in the ones I tried, there is a mute option in the screensaver settings.

screensaver-mute

arrow-down-double-3 Screensaver Download Page

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)

SystemNucleus: Consolidating Windows Admin Tools

[Windows Only] SystemNucleus is a free tool that consolidates multiple Windows system tools within a single window. You can view, edit or manage system resources and settings within the same interface.

Features :

1. The tool generates a detailed report about the system events which helps in tracking the PC status.

2. It lets you edit and fix almost all common system errors. If you are an advanced user you can tweak system properties in the Advanced mode.

3. It gives you better control over your startup items. You can delete entries or disable them if you are not sure about them. You can also re-enable items that were previously disabled.

4. You can perform all kinds of necessary backup operations. The list includes system restore point, registry hives, event logs and even drivers.

5. The app automatically scans the system for applications and sorts them into 5 categories which are Administrative Tools, Network, Security, System and Diagnostic & Repair.

6. The tool can analyze and create detailed reports on storage volumes. You can also use this app to defragment hard disk partitions.

7. Batch processing is a key feature in SystemNucleus. You can install or uninstall multiple applications simultaneously.

sytemnucleus window

[Download SystemNucleus]

Techie-Buzz Verdict:

SystemNucleus is a freeware tool that supports batch processing and offers an easy GUI (Graphical User Interface). The tool provides most of the administrative controls in a easy-to-choose categories.  The tool also offers a portable version which makes it easy to use it on any Windows computer. The tool is something every Windows user must try.

recommended

Techie-Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

[via DownloadSquad]

Categorize Your Start menu Items with Handy Start Menu

handy start menu logo[Windows Only] Once we have lots of applications installed on our PC it becomes tough for us to locate them in the Start Menu. Since pinning items in the Start menu makes it cluttered, we try to keep them (application shortcuts) organized using shortcuts in the Quick Launch or Taskbar (in Windows 7). Sometimes they also seem to run out of places to  accommodate  any more items. Handy Start Menu is a free application that can do the job of keeping application shortcuts organized in the Start Menu as well as fitting as many items as you need.

handy start menu window

Download Handy Start Menu and install it on your PC. Start it after installation. The application will then categorize the Start Menu application shortcuts automatically. You can also choose to group them manually. To do that open the  application and click the 2nd option named “Adjust Categories of The Start Menu Items“. Now you categorize the applications as per your choice.

handy start menu example

Once the Start menu gets de-cluttered by the app, it will look like the screenshot above. There may be a problem while using this tool. When you open your Start menu ( by pressing the Windows orb or using the Windows key in the keyboard) it looks exactly as the normal cluttered one with no change. Click the “All Programs” link below to see the categorized menu. To disable the application, right-click the tray icon and choose Disable.

Techie-Buzz Verdict:

The application is  certainly  a tool to try if you have a cluttered Start menu to handle. The tool is free and consumes very little memory resources. However if you are okay with your taskbar, quicklaunch or desktop shortcuts, there is no need to increase you system overhead by installing this app.

Techie-Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

FileTypesMan: Change Icon for A Filetype

[Windows Only] Filetype Manager by NirSoft is a free application that can help you change the icon associated with a specific filetype.

The tool can be downloaded from the NirSoft website. After you have downloaded the tool, unzip the pack and double-click the executable file to start the  application. As the application starts, it will automatically scan and list all kinds of filetypes that are present on your system.

extension list

You can search for a particular filetype by pressing the key combination Ctrl + F. As the search window opens, type in the extension of the filetype and hit Enter.

find filetype

Once you have found what you were looking for, right-click on the item and select “Edit Selected Filetype”. You can also press F2 to open the editing window for the selected filetype. Refer the screenshot below to see how you can change the file icon for the chosen filetype.

change icon

Techie-Buzz Verdict

The freeware is a nice utility that brings back the Windows XP folder options feature with many other options included within. Apart from changing icons you can also open selected filetype in regedit.  It works perfectly in Windows 7 and Vista. Since the tool is portable, it can be used on any PC straight away without any installation. I recommend this tool as an easy solution for changing filetype icons.

recommended

Techie-Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

9 Intoxicating Oktoberfest Screensavers

[Windows Only]

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.com. Here are the most recent additions to the site.

around-beer attractions-beer beer-mugs clock-beer oktoberfest oktoberfest-bubbles oktoberfest-countdown salute-oktoberfest waitress-clock

These beer themes are perfect for getting into a thirsty mood for the upcoming October festivities. If you are hosting your own little Oktoberfest party, one of these on your screen is sure to be popular. Just be sure to set a password on the screensaver. I don’t recommend letting drunk people operate your PC. There’s nothing worse than a PC with a spyware hangover.

Video: THE ULTIMATE DRUNK PEOPLE COMPILATION

• Screensaver Download Page

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)

Recover Passwords from over a dozen Applications

[Windows Only]

keys2-ico Have you ever forgotten a password? Keeping track of online passwords is one of the most important tasks you need to perform. If you need to recover a password from an application, we’ve covered some of the best ways to do that. Below you’ll find password recovery tools for Outlook, Opera, Google Talk, Google Picasa, Google Desktop Search, Gmail Notifier, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, other web browsers, Zip archives, Thunderbird, Windows Mail and Windows itself.

1. Free Outlook Password Recovery Tool

2. Recover Opera Saved Passwords | View Opera Passwords

3. Google Password Recovery Software | Recover Google Passwords| Lost …

4. Password Recovery for Zip, RAR and ACE Files

5. Asterisk Password Revealer

6. Recover Passwords From Outlook, Thunderbird, Windows Mail

7. How To Reveal/Recover Lost Password Behind Asterisks

8. Recover Google Accounts Password Through SMS Text Message

9. ChromePass Lets You View / Recover Passwords in Google Chrome

10. Reset Windows Password If You Have Lost Your Account

Some of the password tools above will set off a false alarm in your antivirus software. There’s no need to worry, these have all been tried before and they are safe to use.

If you ever get tired of forgetting passwords, take a look at some of the password manager programs and services we’ve talked about previously.

Mozilla Account Manager May Simplify Online Identity Management …

KeePassX: Open Source Password Manager

Synchronize And Store Passwords For Free Online

Did we miss any applications you need a password from? Let us know in the comments below.

What is the Best Free Online Virus Scanner?

[Windows Only]

security-high-2 The other day, I was reading a newsletter from Windows Secrets. At one point, Fred Langa recommended three different online scanners for detecting malware. He said Three free sites to try are: McAfee’s Freescan, Trendmicro’s HouseCall, and Symantec’s Security Check.

Fred is a trusted source to me. I’ve been reading PC advice from him since years ago, when he wrote the Langa List newsletter. However, I decided to try out Fred’s recommendations, because I’ve never been a big fan of online scanners. If there’s a good scanner out there, I want to know about it.

McAfee Freescan

First, I took a look at McAfee’s service. The foremost objection that I had to this service, is that it requires Internet Explorer. It also runs as an ActiveX application, which is another thing I’ve never liked. The scan seemed to be slow, but it seems to do a good job of detecting infections.

The last item that I believe it fails in, is that it can only detect infections. It cannot remove them. I wouldn’t waste my time here again.

mcafee-free-scan

Symantec Security Check

Next, I tried out Symantec’s service. You might be more familiar with their well known Norton security products. My initial impression of Symantec’s scanner suffered a big drop because it also requires Internet Explorer. However, I was impressed by the nice looking interface.

As nice as it looks, it can only detect malware, and you’re out of luck if you expect it to actually fix any problems. Adding to that, it gave me one false detection on a piece of software which I know is completely safe. Clicking on the Fix Nowbutton only sends you to Symantec’s site to read all about their premium anti-virus software.

The final failure that keeps me from returning, is that it told me that my computer had no antivirus software, even though I was using Microsoft Security Essentials. Hmmm, nice sales tactic, but it only works on foolish people. (Sorry! I mean those less knowledgeable about PCs.)

norton-security-scan6

TrendMicro Housecall

At last, TrendMicro has unchained itself from Internet Explore. It works in any browser, and the scanner is offered as an installer EXE file. The scanning is typically slow, just as I saw with the other two services. However, another bright spot is that it can actually FIXsome of the problems it finds. Housecall is actually a service I could recommend.

The only drawback is that you have to save the installer file, or go back to the website if you want to scan with it in the future.

housecall

Conclusion:

Of these three services, Housecall won easily. Some time back, I also reviewed ESET online scanner and it was just as good as Housecall, maybe better. Check it out.

I would only recommend an online scanner like these as a follow-up after cleaning a PC that was badly infected. Typically, I depend on MalwareBytes to clean up serious infections. If your current antivirus and antimalware software has failed, it’s not likely an online scanner will do you any good.

On the other hand, scanning with an online service like these won’t hurt, and it could pick up something your current software has missed. There are also several other online scanners that I haven’t tried yet. Do you use any online scanners that you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

10 Animated Screensavers – Flowers for all Occasions

screensaver-ico[Windows Only]
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.com. Check out these great looking flower themed screensavers.

yellow-rose-hd flowers-3-hd flowers-4-hd flowers-5-hd flowers-6-hd flowers-8-hd flowers-9-hd flowers-10-hd roses-hd sunflowers-hd

Last week, I told you about screensavers with spectacular Autumn themes. These flower themes are good for any time of year, and you don’t have to be a lady to appreciate the beauty of these blooms.

Be sure to take a look at the top ten most popular screensavers which are available as one easy download. All of these screensavers are safe and totally free.

arrow-down-double-3 Download Page

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I noticed that the author included a sound mute setting in this bunch. However, you may not need to mute them, since I was not able to hear any sound in the first one I tried. Email the download link to a girl friend (or beau), because these flowers won’t wilt and die. It’s a perfect way to show your undying’ love.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)