Hide Your IP Address and Surf Anonymously with UltraSurf

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

You can download UltraSurf here.

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

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

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

Xb Browser
OperaTor Browser

Techie Buzz Verdict:

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

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Encrypt Your Files Quickly with AxCrypt

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

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

Here are some snapshots and descriptions of AxCrypt:

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Download AxCrypt

Techie Buzz Verdict:

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

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Microsoft Shows Off Windows 7’s Touch Abilities With Touch Pack for Windows 7

Windows-7-Touch-Pack In case you are not aware, Windows 7 has inbuilt support for multi-touch. Of course, you will need to have a touch sensitive monitor for this to work. Although adoption of touchscreen monitors has been slow, manufacturers are slowly warming up to the idea. Major manufacturers like Dell, Asus, Fujitsu, HP and Lenovo have already jumped on the bandwagon. In spite of this, awareness about Windows 7’s touch abilities is still fairly low. Perhaps to remedy this, Microsoft has released Touch Pack for Windows 7.

Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 is a collection of utilities and games, which makes use of Windows 7’s multi-touch capabilities. The applications included in the Touch Pack are:

  • Microsoft Blackboard: An intricate game of physics in which you solve a puzzle by creating a fanciful machine on a blackboard.
  • Microsoft Garden Pond: A tranquil game that takes place in serene Japanese water gardens.
  • Microsoft Rebound: A game in which you use your fingertips to control Tesla spheres with an electrical field between them to catapult a metal game ball into your opponent’s goal.
  • Microsoft Surface Globe: A program that you can use to explore the earth as a flat 2-D map or as an immersive 3-D experience.
  • Microsoft Surface Collage: A program that you can use to explore and interact with your photos and arrange them as a desktop background.
  • Microsoft Surface Lagoon: A screen saver and interactive water simulation, complete with a meditative rock arrangement and playful, shy fish.

You can download the Touch Pack for Windows 7 from here.

Microsoft Drops Windows XP Support From Windows Live Essentials

Windows XP was one of the most successful operating systems in Microsoft’s history. However, now it is starting to become a thorn in its side, as millions of Windows XP users around the world are refusing to let go. Nevertheless, Microsoft is making it clear that it is ready to move on.


After Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft has decided to drop Windows XP support from the next generation of Windows Live Essential applications. Microsoft confirmed this through a comment posted on the WindowsTeamBlog:

We know many customers use Windows XP and are happy with their experience, and of course we will continue to support our current release of Windows Live Essentials on XP and the new versions all of our web-based services (including Hotmail and SkyDrive) will run on XP. As some have noted on this blog, Windows XP is nearly 10 years old and simply doesn’t provide the same level of platform support for graphics, and we recognized early in our work on Wave 4 that we could do much more in our software on a modern graphics platform. As a result our new version of Essentials will require the new graphics platform and controls that are only available on Windows 7 or Windows Vista and therefore will only run on these platforms. So if you are happy with XP, you can keep running the current version of Windows Live and our new services. When you move to Windows 7 and Windows Vista, we will have a new version that will let you do more on a modern platform.

Windows Live Essential bundles various Microsoft utilities for home users including Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Photo Gallery. Microsoft is currently getting ready to begin the public beta phase of Windows Live Wave 4. However, an early version has already been leaked on torrent websites.

Flawed MacAfee Update Kills Windows XP Systems Worldwide

Windows XP users, be warned. If you are using McAfee Antivirus, then do not apply DAT update 5958. Apparently, this update causes McAfee to delete svchost.exe, which in turn sets off a chain of events that ends up messing up Windows XP installations. Affected systems will display the following error message and automatically initiate a system restart.


If you have already installed DAT update 5958, then it is best to perform a rollback (from Tools–>Rollback DAT). In the meantime, exercise caution if you get any alerts related to the detection of W32/Wecorl.a. In all likelihood, it is a false positive that can brick your system. If case your system has already been affected, you can stop the infinite restart loop by entering shutdown a in the Run command box (Win+R).

Bungled McAfee updates are nothing new. However, this is obviously a big screw up. At the moment, McAfee is undoubtedly working behind the scenes to rush through a fix. However, even that may be too late, as possibly thousands of perplexed users worldwide have already been affected by this glitch.

image courtesey: ChevyGuys.com

Update: The update has now been pulled from McAfee’s servers. Here is the statement McAfee issued to Engadget:

McAfee is aware that a number of customers have incurred a false positive error due to incorrect malware alerts on Wednesday, April 21. The problem occurs with the 5958 virus definition file (DAT) that was released on April 21 at 2.00 PM GMT+1 (6am Pacific Time).

Our initial investigation indicates that the error can result in moderate to significant performance issues on systems running Windows XP Service Pack 3.

The faulty update has been removed from McAfee download servers for corporate users, preventing any further impact on those customers. We are not aware of significant impact on consumer customers and believe we have effectively limited such occurrence.

McAfee teams are working with the highest priority to support impacted customers and plan to provide an update virus definition file shortly. McAfee apologizes for any inconvenience to our customers

According to early speculation, the number of affected system should be in hundreds of thousands. At the moment, the very least McAfee can do is acknowledge the gravity of their mistake. Bricking a system is not equivalent to causing moderate to significant performance issues.

Fix Common System Problems with Microsoft Fix It Center Online

Microsoft has launched Fix it Center Online – a repository of Fix It solutions offered by Microsoft. Fix It patches are nothing but one-click solutions to common system problems that Microsoft has been offering for quite some time. In the past, we have referred to them on numerous occasions. However, until now there was no central repository for all the Fix It patches released by Microsoft. So, unless you knew exactly what you were looking for, it was practically impossible to locate the required solution. The newly released Fix It Center (FIC) takes care of this problem.


The FIC client packages old and new fixes into a neat utility. Once installed, it will automatically scan your system, detect your hardware and software configuration and offer to fix any detected incorrect system settings. Microsoft claims that FIC can even find and fix issues before they become real problems.


FIC also allows you create an online account, which maintains a record of all the fixes applied by you in the past. You can install Fix it Center client on as many PCs you like, and when you use the same sign-in account during the client setup on each PC, the information about all your PCs will be registered in the same account. This feature may appear unnecessary to home users but it can be of great help to computer technicians and system administrators.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Microsoft-Fix-It-Center If there is one thing that I didn’t like about FIC, it is the fact that it forced me to use a web installer. It is not hard to see why Microsoft opted to offer just a web installer – they probably just want to ensure that you always install the latest version on any system. However, this also makes deploying FIC on systems with slow internet connection cumbersome. Other than this, I can find very little to nitpick about. Some of the solutions suggested by FIC are quite basic. But then, this isn’t really a tool for power users.

Fix It Center is a beta product. Hence, it may behave unpredictably. However, during my brief testing it worked flawlessly. It’s definitely a great tool and every computer user should have FIC at his disposal.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

[ Download Microsoft Fix It Center Online ]
via TheWindowsClub

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.


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.


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.


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:

IcoFX download page: (Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7)

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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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


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.


Techie Buzz Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

Temporarily Disable Windows Power Settings with Don’t Sleep

[Windows only]: While downloading large files from the internet, sometimes you may not be sitting in front of your computer. Often, you would put the computer in download mode and leave the desk for some other work. The downloads would take hours to finish and you would want to have a break or take a short nap.

The problem with marathon downloads is that the Windows power settings come into play after a definite interval of time. Say you are downloading movies or torrents and the download may take 5-6 hours to finish. You start the download manager but when you return after an hour, you find the computer has been logged off or put to “Sleep”.

That’s when you need tools like Don’t Sleep. It’s a tiny portable application for Windows which temporarily suspends Windows power settings and prevents the system from logging off, restarting, hibernating or going to sleep mode.

The program requires no installation and does not modify Windows registry. It sets temporary rules to override the power plans in Windows so that the downloads can continue without any problem.
You can set the timer in the program options and can turn off Windows screensaver when the system is in idle state.

Of course, you can manually change the power plans before starting the downloads and then switch back to normal power plans when the downloads are finished. But those who want to avoid the hassle of opening the control panel and tweaking the Power settings, this freeware does the job well.

Don’t Sleep works with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows7.

Techie Buzz Verdict

The program is simple to use. I would like to see a timer feature being included – the ability to shut down computer at a specified time of the day. This will save the hassle of using another utility to shut down the computer when the downloads have finished.

Techie Buzz rating: 3/5 (average).