Tag: software

Quick Fix When Windows “Cannot Safely Remove Hardware” Occurs

June 7, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

Have you encountered a situation when you cannot remove an external hard drive—flash drives or memory sticks, card readers, portable drives or even gadgets when using the safely remove hardware option in Windows?

I did, on several occasions. There are countless of tips and tricks online that have been written on this topic when you search using Google but none of them has actually made it easier for me. Believe me, I’ve done it all.

There was even a trick that I’ve known wherein you simply have to open Windows Task Manager via CTRL+Alt+Del on your PC, then select explorer.exe and press End Process. Wait for the task bar to disappear then bring back the Task Manager, click on File, click Add New Task, then type explorer.exe in the field and press OK.

Though this trick works sometimes, there was a point when it didn’t and I’ve searched all over the internet to figure out a solution and nothing ever worked until I finally found this nifty software called USB Safely Remove by Crystal Rich, Ltd.

USB Safely Remove software is a light tool that serves as a USB Device Manager for removable drives. USB Safely Remove normally shows the programs which prevent the device from being stopped (which happens when the safely remove hardware on Windows wouldn’t work) and allows you to close these programs or just the files that prevent the normal removal option from working.

USB Safely Remove

It was indeed a saving grace and never would I even go back online and deal with any tricks on the same issue ever.

Aside from what’s mentioned above, short cuts are also available for quicker removable drive stoppage, includes auto run for disconnection/connection, command line usage for safe removal and return device back functionality wherein stopped devices (not unplugged) can be put back to work in one click.

This USB device manager is compatible on Win 2000XP2003VistaWin7 OS, 3264 bit system plus it’s very light at 3.6 MB.

The next time you have problems with Windows’ safely remove hardware, you know where to go. Download it here now!

HOW TO: Design Web Banners WYSIWYG Style

May 27, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

Designing web banners yourself doesn’t have to be tedious; in fact, you don’t even need to spend hundreds of dollars over expensive software, hire people, or get a graphics diploma just to come up with quality looking banners.

Making web banners can be as easy as drag and drop via a WYSIWYG interface which saves you time and cash, DYI style.

Banner Maker Pro makes creating web-based banner ads easily in a matter of minutes including, image ads, web page headers and buttons, animated gifs, logos and other similar web graphics with animation functions which makes it a versatile tool.Banner Maker Pro HomeBanner Maker Pro offers over 800 backgrounds and stand-alone images which you can use however, you can also add your own for a personalized feel.Banner Maker Pro Text TabReadily usable buttons are also included in this banner creation software. What’s also appealing about this tool is it saves your animations for future use aside from the undo and redo functionality.

The Power Preview on the other hand allows you to view hundreds of different combinations of your created images using different backgrounds and fonts to give you a wide array of options to choose from in case you’re not that satisfied with your output image.

Image compression via its built-in jpeg and non-animated gif cruncher is also included in package plus the ability to upload your created files via FTP, send them through email or upload them to imageshack.us, all these can be done right from within Banner Maker Pro menu.

And if you’re not that familiar with HTML, an automatic code creation for banner can be created which you can simple copy-paste on your website minus the coding job plus additional banner rotator code of up to 10 images or you can also include a mouse-over effect.

Banner Maker Pro is an efficient time saver and overall, a cost-effective software investment you can make if you’re into the online business.

Why pay for expensive tools when you can achieve get the same quality for your outputs in less the price?

Easily Burn DVD Disks on Mac with Daniusoft DVD Creator

May 21, 2010 | By | Reply More

Reading time: 3 – 4 minutes

Burning DVD disks on a MAC is no longer a thing of the past because Daniusoft has developed an easy burning software tool, the Daniusoft DVD Creator for Mac which makes the task possible.

Photo slide shows with audio, self-made videos, and those downloaded from YouTube can be ripped using its added YouTube to DVD functionality since videos nowadays are pretty much mainstream and people from all over the world enjoys watching videos online especially on YouTube more than watching television.

This Mac DVD Burning software also transforms your video files like AVI, MP4, MOV, FLV, MPEG into high quality DVD for easy playback on your favorite home DVD players.Mac DVD CreatorUnlike any other DVD ripping software for Mac, this one offers extended features such as video editing capability like cropping, clipping, effects rendering such as Gray scale, Emboss, Negative, White Black, Old Film, and image or text watermarking to DVD videos plus customized template adoption with fancy menus for a more personalized look and feel.

Similar to Windows Movie Maker, Daniusoft DVD Creator for Mac allows creation of photo slide shows on the spot through its image import function, slide duration timing including background music implementation into creative output formats such as DVD Disc, DVD Folder, .dvdmedia and ISO File.

Savvy software tools normally have intuitive user interface which makes it easier for its users to navigate within the menus and operate the application on their own without much hassle and Daniusoft has done a great job on this part.

If your Mac has the following specifications, then you’re up to an exciting DVD burning experience.

System Requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.5(Intel version) or above(including Mac OS Snow Leopard) on iMac, MacBook, Mac Pro, etc. supported OS
  • 1G Hz or above Intel processor
  • DVD-ROM or rewritable DVD drives for DVD features
  • 512 MB physical RAM (memory) or more
  • 1024×768 or higher resolution display

Software Critics’ readers can enjoy a 40% discount for purchases via this link for a limited time only. Trial versions however are available for you to test the program on your Mac.

Yours truly wasn’t able to run a full test due to resource restraints but inquiries are welcome in the comments or via their website’s support center.

If you own a Mac and would love to get a fully licensed version of the software, simply retweet this post to your Twitter followers, leave a comment below or give us thumbs up or “Like us” on Facebook. The winner will be chosen randomly and will be posted on this site a month from today.

This exclusive promotion was brought to you by our friends from www.Daniusoft.com.

Reasons Why You Need an Email Archiving Software

April 27, 2010 | By | Reply More

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

The amount of emails you receive within a week can amass up to 600 emails on average or even more depending on the impact of this medium of communication on your business.

Apparently, the more qualified emails you receive, the more it says about your business growth and its impact on your clients.

Spikes in the number of emails you receive are like web traffic however, this case can be a little tricky and requires utmost attention. The more emails you get, the more resource intensive it can be for your Microsoft Exchange Server which could possibly cause slows downs in the long run.

In spite of this probable challenge that may arise, technology has been responsive thus a smart email archiving solution was born to cater the need for—data storage space minimization concerning mailbox quotas and storage growth, handling Microsoft Exchange Server costs efficiently, faster physical backups or exchange backups and completion concerns, simple and easy disaster recovery solution including email restoration requests, e-Discovery or emails retention for litigation preparedness, and remote access for added productivity.

Professonal Archive Manager

A Professional Archive Manager for email normally communicates with the Microsoft Exchange Server for archiving emails. Oversized emails and their attachments are directed away from the overused Microsoft Exchange Servers onto a separate yet efficient and inexpensive storage for ease of access via simple clicks. Overall, this software provides a faster email retrieval and restoration capability.

This email archiving technology uses a single instance storage or directory that ensures coordination between the corporate internal systems and the software.

Email archiving software addresses most of the major issues concerning corporate email management thus giving way for a more cost-efficient, productive and ever reliable communication medium.

After reading this post, does email archiving create an impact to you? Do you have any features in mind that you might want to add aside from those mentioned above?

Grab a Free Portable Media Player from SE-Soft

April 25, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

Having able to play your favorite audio and video files on any Windows PC is a normal requirement for all systems. However, there are instances wherein missing registry files associated with Windows Media prevents media files from not playing.

This has happened to me some time ago and the worse is, I cannot even update to the latest Windows Media Player version. Now, what happens if you came over to a friend’s house and this is the situation you’re into? You can use alternative software for download but what if your friend’s internet connection is down?

Alright, you brought with you a thumb drive and you badly needed those audio files on his computer for a project. What would you do then?

Enough with the thinking and let me make your life a little bit easier. Simply download the portable SE-MediaPlayer into your USB device, extract the zip file and run the program. A media player window will open which will allow you to readily play the media files such as MP3, MP4, OGG files among others on the computer or the ones on the removable drive if there are, including CDs and DVDs.

SE MediaPlayer

The software has its own built-in audio and video codecs for managing your files which means it doesn’t depend on the existing codecs on the computer.

If you ever used a USB with an existing copy of SE-MediaPlayer that doesn’t execute and renders an error dialogue that the software can’t initialize with code 0xc0000135, that means a serious registry corruption was found on the PC and it has nothing to do with the program. This error needs to be fixed using a registry cleaner or correction tool otherwise you can’t run the software no matter how many times you try.

SE-MediaPlayer offers player customizability features, playlist management and language support.

A truly innovative and free portable media player designed for today’s flexibility hungry technology enthusiasts.

I’ve been test driving this software for days and I can really tell that you can be satisfied with it too. Download it now and tell me what you think.

This post is sponsored by our friends from SE-Soft.com, makers of free portable software for Windows. All opinions are 100% mine.

Genuine DVD Ripper Licenses for Mac Users Up for Grabs

April 20, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 2 minutes

Regular readers of this blog have always been graced with free genuine software licenses every time there’s a giveaway and newsletter subscribers always have the advantage of getting them as perks for being avid fans.

This time, Mac users will surely love WinX DVD Ripper for Mac by Digiarty Software, Inc., an all-in-one DVD ripper software designed to make perfect 1:1 DVD copy to hard drive so you can rip your DVD movies on Mac OS to iTunes, MOV, MP4, FLV, etc. for playability on iPad, iPod, iPhone, Apple-TV, PSP and many more.

WinX DVD Ripper for Mac

WinX DVD Ripper for Mac also supports extracting music from the DVD files allowing you to save it in MP3 format. Another best thing about the WinX DVD Ripper is that it enables users to rip DVDs of new generation copy protections in the fastest possible speed.

Normally sold at 35.95USD, a genuine license of this Macbook DVD Ripper can be yours absolutely free by signing-up as a Newsletter subscriber. Simply fill-out the form on the sidebar and once you’ve confirmed your subscription, you’ll be taken to the download page.

So do more with your Mac and be part of the many loyal readers of Software Critics and receive exclusive perks.

This exclusive giveaway is courtesy of Digiarty Software, Inc. for its partners in collaboration with Software Critics. The giveaway link will expire on May 1st, 2010 at 12:00AM GMT.

HOW TO: Remove Fake Antivirus Software

March 24, 2010 | By | 11 Replies More

Reading time: 6 – 9 minutes

I have mentioned on my post about rogueware attachments on Facebook support emails that I’ll be sharing to my readers how I was able to remove the fake antivirus in minutes without any complicated steps or registry editing involved so brace yourselves because this article answers that.

The rogueware or fake antivirus is most likely in this file format (as other files may vary), Facebook_details_348.exe, an executable file which when opened would initiate a fake scan in progress that is quicker than a legitimate antivirus scanning process which when completed normally shows a scan results popup screen showing non-existing threats on your system deceiving you to purchase a license in order to get rid of the malicious threats.

XP Smart Security Virus

Once you fall into this trap, these scammers will then take your money as you pay or could be worse, steal your financial information like credit cards and even your identity.

Xp Smart Security Alert

Along side the fake scanning screen, you’ll be bombarded with endless dialogue boxes and pop-ups on your screen and if you’re a little panicky seeing these unrelenting messages bothering you that something horrible is happening on your computer, you’ll eventually fall into their scheme so you better calm down.

Xp Smart Security Balloon Alert

The known fake antivirus or anti-malware that I’ve encountered and was attached on two of my email accounts was the XP Smart Security 2010. How did I get rid of this rogueware?

Removing XP Smart Security 2010

In order to remove this threat, a Trojan to be exact, always make sure that your antivirus software is running on your system tray all the time and is activated at Windows startup. This will ensure that whenever a virus or malware may attack the system, you can immediately run a virus scan without any problem because if your antivirus is not running during your computer sessions, chances are high that when a fake antivirus software attacked, they will immediately take over the Windows Security Center settings of your PC thus deactivating your virus protection before you could even run it while at the same time holding your Windows Firewall helpless.

My personal antivirus software (AVG 9.0 Free version) was running at the system tray together with Spybot Search and Destroy when XP Smart Security 2010 initiated the unwanted attack. It immediately held hostage the Windows Firewall and the Virus Protection settings in Windows Security System by turning it off.

Turning them on will not be possible thus your only option is to get rid of the fake antivirus before everything goes back to normal.

I was able to do a quick search about XP Smart Security 2010 online before the virus has disabled all browsers on my computer. Many write-ups about it are available online but the presentation is vague and often times promotional with affiliate links to software vendors so what I did was to trust my instincts and my antivirus.

Since my AVG 9.0 is running at the background, although it wasn’t able to block the execution of the rogueware before it could even initiate changes in the registry which could have been better but I guess it was one of the drawbacks of having something for free when real-time protection is not guaranteed but nevertheless, I was able to run AVG while the malware is doing its dirty trick.

AVG was able to immediately track the threats however due to some power failure, my computer suddenly turned off and since I have no power supply backup on my desktop, I simply waited for the electricity to resume and when I rebooted the computer, the fake antivirus was gone as well as the annoying pop ups.

See the attached screenshot of the scanned threats (Trojan horse) from AVG and notice the “Reboot is required to finish the action” remark.

AVG Scanned Threats on XP Smart Security 2010

The file locations correspond to the registry entries being overridden during the attack based on my screenshot taken from Spybot Search and Destroy, my favorite anti-spyware.

XP Smart Secuity effect on registry as detected by Spybot Search and Destroy

There are definitely a lot of fake antivirus lurking on the web acting like predators waiting for their next prey so be vigilant and learn from this real life security tip.

Summary of the Tips to Keep your PC Protected from Fake Antivirus Attacks

  1. Keep your antivirus software running on the background at all times while your computer is on.
  2. Be mindful of everything you download online. Be it attachments from emails or any other files that would be stored on your hard drive. Scan these files whenever possible after every download since Firefox does it during the downloading process however in the case above, attachments usually zipped files are sometimes overlooked by Norton Antivirus on Yahoo mails or in any email providers including paid ones so be careful when extracting them on your folders if you’re not sure what it was especially executable files or filenames with .exe as extension, don’t open it.
  3. Choose the best antivirus software and spyware for solid protection. Free ones like AVG 9.0 and Spybot does a great job in protecting my PC for years. You might also want to try downloading Remove Fake Antivirus 1.63 here although I really cannot vouch for this one because I’ve never really tried using it unless I’d encounter another rougeware in the future.
  4. Finally, always check your antivirus for updates so if anything happens in the future, you know that your software can handle any trouble.

I hope that you’ll like this post and hopefully would love sharing it with your friends and family. If you have similar stories and tips, please share them here. I would appreciate it.

Convert Multiple Image Format Quickly with Image Converter Plus

January 30, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More

Reading time: 4 – 7 minutes

Converting image files into different formats have never been easier these days with the advent of so many robust tools coming from various software developers. However, having a lot of options can sometimes become confusing thus valuable recommendation from reputable sources leads users to have the right set of tools.

Images come in various formats and among the popular ones are JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF although there are more than 100 graphic formats available in different applications.

The Concept of Image Formats

We use images for different purposes however, the effectiveness of each images may vary depending on its format and the way it was used. This means that certain types of image files may look better compared to another image file but could be more effective when used for same purpose.

For example, PNG or Portable Network Graphic files are aesthetically better compared to JPG/JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) or GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) images however the downside is they are more resource consuming when used on websites because their file sizes are normally larger.

Although JPEG image files’ quality is not as good as PNGs, they are more resource friendly because of their smaller size and are much suitable for use as banner with an image as a background. GIF, on the other hand, have the least quality and size, appears grainy and are much suitable for text-based banners.

Understanding the concept of image formats does a great deal in making us appreciate the reason why an image converter is necessary.

The Hunt for an Image Converter

Image format conversion can be accomplished using different mediums. Web-based conversion although efficient because of its universal accessibility through the internet could make the task impossible to complete due to dependency on the browser component unlike using an installed application, PC-based tools make it easier to accomplish the task with less the requirement in a fraction of the time.

There are many software out there that does image conversion however if we are after simplicity and specificity, we generally could go in to a whole lot of searching just to find the right program that would fit our needs.

I was scouring the web a couple of days ago and I came across this nifty software for image conversion known as Image Converter Plus by fCoder Group.

Image Converter Plus

The concept is pretty simple. Convert an image file format into another type of image file e.g. a PNG image into a JPEG image.

Why use Image Converter Plus?

Image Converter Plus makes it easier to convert image files into another format in less time with image correction, application of various filters and effects, image editing operations like resizing and cropping, image effects rendering like embossing, sharpening, and image noise reduction among others can all be done as well in large batches.

Having used Image Converter Plus on web design projects allowed me to experience its high quality imaging capability since it doesn’t spoil your files’ quality instead it makes them even better while at the same time allotting you more time to focus on other things without sacrificing the value you put into your money and in your work.

Its intuitive user interface makes it easier to navigate and switch between features plus its handy right-click menu integration is easy to fall in love with like it’s almost close to perfection.

What can Image Converter Plus do that other software cannot?

Image Converter Plus can convert huge files even several GBs larger and faster while supporting multiple image formats and dialects, HDRI for HDR photography, RAW formats for photos taken from known camera brands like Kodak, Nikon, Canon, etc., multi-core processors, 64-bit systems, 16 bit/channels, and works with EXIF and IPTC information.

Image Converter Plus also allows you to send your converted images by email or upload them via FTP without the need for a third-party FTP client/software.

How do I use Image Converter Plus?

It’s very simple to use so I’m sure that you wouldn’t have a hard time with it. You don’t need to be a pro in order to appreciate its usefulness. Watch this video here for a quick tutorial.

What is the system requirements needed for use with this software?

This software should work on computers with the following specifications:
CPU: Pentium 2.
RAM: 128 RAM.
HDD free space: 50 Mb.
OS: Windows NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista

Systems that exceed these requirements are highly favored for optimal performance. You may visit this page for installation instructions.

The Verdict

Image Converter Plus definitely out smarts any type of software of its kind. A masterpiece created for flawless and seamless image conversion solutions.

It’s not that bad for US$49 on a single license, a really good investment if you were to ask me. Conversion scripts are already available upon installation so everything is touch and go. Using conversion via command-line option can be a challenge for beginners as they are intended for more advanced users.

The software at the moment doesn’t have a zipped version which means portability is not yet supported but hopefully in time it will.
Over all, it’s worth the try. I’ve used it myself so if I were happy with it, and so can you.

You can download Image Converter Plus from here. If you haven’t tried this software, here’s your chance to do so and feel the difference. Let me know how it works on your end. Feel free to share your experience, give comments or ask questions in the comments section.

Multimedia Disc Burning Software Redefined by Power2Go

January 26, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More

Reading time: 3 – 4 minutes

Managing files can’t be that easy but having the right tools that could do the job can make it easier and fun. Efficient data burning software could work wonders in making backup copies of your precious DVD collections, MP3 repertoires, and important documents.

Having used Nero 7 for quite sometime, I must say that it’s a good product however as time goes by, it just stopped working. I’ve been scouring the internet to resolve executable errors while attempting to run the program but my efforts are left in vain until I decided to switch and find a better alternative. Although there is free software for burning CDs, my trust has never been on the freeware’s side after previous performance tests on burned CDs using a freeware.

Some if not most of the freeware I’ve tested produced low quality copies that are hardly even playable on most DVD players.

My search bear fruit thus I came to discover the benefits of using Power2Go Burning Software for a month on a trial version. The results are quite amazing and I must say that its one of the best multimedia disc burning software since Nero.

Power2Go makes data burning as easy as drag and drop for data, videos, photos, music and disc copying with support for Blu-ray, DVDs and CDs.

I have tried this software numerous times for MP3 burning (see image below) and the results as great. The audio normalization feature between tracks is what I liked the most since not all burning software has it. Who would want to hear a staggered audio playing at the background? Well, not me.

Power2Go Search and Burn Music Interface

You might as well be interested in creating Mixed Media discs if you wanted to maximize disc space. Here, you can burn audio CDs and include data files on the same disc while at the same time making the audio playable on any consumer CD player. Sounds great, right?

If you’re also concerned about privacy, you can definitely get the job done with its 128-bit encryption protection for data discs, including Blu-ray in partial or in full.

A sleek user interface with an attractive design simply adds up to the robustness of this tool and you can never go wrong with it. Try it now and feel the difference.Power2Go

Pros: Not bad for US$39.95. Produce high quality copies.
Cons: Not much to say but time difference between burning files isn’t any different from Nero although some free software could burn CDs a lot faster.

Notes: I have not tried burning DVDs using this software due to my hard drive’s memory limitations.

You can download Power2Go free evaluation copy from here.

Fact Snippet: Software Development Process

December 12, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

Writing software reviews has been a rewarding experience but despite the fact that I’ve been doing it for quite sometime, I think it’s about time for me to dig a little deeper on how a software comes to life after the cunning hands of software developers then afterward gets used by end users and reviewed by enthusiasts like me.

Like any other product, before any software is launched into the market, it undergoes several processes similar to manufacturing of which is often represented by the Waterfall model.

The Waterfall model is a sequential software development process often attributed to a waterfall since its progress is steadily flowing in a downward direction (see figure below).

Waterfall model

Waterfall model

The Waterfall Model was taken from Royce’s article written in 1970 which later became the way to criticize a commonly used software practice.

The Waterfall model is comprised by the following phases:
1. Requirements specification
2. Design
3. Construction (implementation or coding)
4. Integration
5. Testing and debugging (also called Validation)
6. Installation
7. Maintenance

There are many cited arguments though about how the process should be done contrary to the above model and among those are inconsistencies in case clients change their requirements and design which means, one can’t easily move forward to the next step unless the previous ones are perfected which in return immobilize the whole process and thus increasing costs and eating more time.

On the other hand, the Sashimi model by Peter DeGrace allow feedback in between phases although quite similar in scope as the Waterfall model, this method however alleviates the need to modify and correct certain issues before moving forward which is good because this allows ample time to discover bugs and do some fixes whenever it comes between each phase.

Given these facts above, it open up the avenues for understanding how a software is developed before being released and to think that is requires a lot of effort and time to do so, I must say kudos to those guys for creating savvy pieces of tools for today’s computer driven world.

Is Newer Really Better – Why You Should Consider Using Old Software

December 9, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More

Reading time: 3 – 5 minutes

While many people rush out to buy the latest and greatest computer hardware and software packages, many savvy computer owners know that newer is not always better. Computers that are four and five years old or even older can still provide trouble free service, all without the cost or hassle of upgrading. The same goes for computer software – just because a software title is a couple years old does not mean it is ready for the trash heap.

Apple Keys

This is true of all kinds of software packages, from operating systems and office productivity suites to accounting software and computer games. If you are thinking about buying or downloading a new software package just because there is a new version available you may want to take a step back and ask yourself a couple of questions.

Can My Computer Handle the New Version?

The newest version of software won’t always work for every computer. Most people don’t purchase new computers every year; except that new software is designed for the newest and fastest computers. Furthermore, because new software is designed for faster computers the developers load more features into it, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as Bloatware. This means that your computer may not be up to the task of running the new software and it may give you more headaches than you expected, which leads to the next question:

Does My Current Software Do What I Need it To?

If your current software package does what you need it to do there may be no reason to upgrade. If you enjoy playing that great computer game the mere fact that it is a couple of years old does not mean you need to plunk down money for a new version. If you still enjoy playing it save your money and keep on playing.

The same is true of expensive software products like office productivity suites. If your old word processor, spreadsheet package and database program are giving you what you want there is simply not a reason to upgrade to a newer – and more expensive – version of that same software package. Chances are your old version will continue to work just fine for many years to come.

What About the Learning Curve?

In addition to the obvious cost savings there are a number of other considerations when thinking about buying or downloading new software versus staying with the tried and true. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that a new version of a familiar software package will come with its own learning curve. If the software upgrade is not a significant one the learning curve may not be very steep, but if the program is mostly unchanged there may be no compelling reason to upgrade.

If the software changes are significant enough that you would want to upgrade it is important to keep in mind that it will take some time to learn the new features of the upgrade. If you do choose to upgrade your once familiar software package may be difficult to use, and that could cost you a lot of time and trouble.

Before you decide to upgrade be sure that an upgrade is really the best decision. Ask yourself these important questions and do some research. If you’ve already made the upgrade and regret it, or if you just miss the simplicity of that old interface, you may always ‘downgrade’ away your frustrations.

Craig writes for the blog at VersionDownload.com, a site for finding old versions of popular software. He can be reached at versiondownloadsupport[at]gmail[dot]com.

Jobs For Elgg Savvy Developers

December 1, 2009 | By | Reply More

Reading time: 1 – 2 minutes

I have always been an advocate of great content and ever since I started blogging, providing value especially to my readers has been a top priority that’s why I intended to place job-related banners on my sidebar in order to give back to my readers some valuable stuff and not just mere revenue regenerating ads.

Along with that advocacy, this time, I’m featuring a newly established job site where Elgg savvy people looking for Elgg jobs and talent-seekers unite. In case you’ve never heard of the term Elgg, it refers to an open source social networking platform or software similar to Joomla and Drupal in many aspects such as codebase, content creation like blogs, and media sharing among others.

Like most social networking platforms having the characteristics of content creation for blogging, developers also create custom Elgg Plugins & Themes for its growing user base especially now that everyone’s going social from large companies to startups, schools, civic organizations to individuals and because open source software like Elgg is highly customizable and in demand, specialized skills are gaining exposure thus creating more jobs.

So, if you happen be to one talented Elgg developer that’s looking for the right opportunity at these trying times, simply head on to www.elggexchange.com, sell your talent and network with fellow developers. Who knows, you just might end up having your dream job.

A Closer Look at WinASO Registry Optimizer

November 30, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

I have talked about registry optimizers on this blog on numerous occasions but this time, it’s going to be about a shareware known as WinASO Registry Optimizer (Windows Advanced System Optimizer) developed by XMY LLC.

To brush up on our registry software knowledge, these utility tools fixes and restores registry errors caused by leftover files from failed installation or incomplete removal of programs from your computer.

Once these clutter completely clogged the registry, it will then cause major slow downs on startup and shutdown plus sporadic freezing of running programs or executables or crashing of applications while in use.

Registry optimizers will then save the system from collapsing and major trouble by automatically clearing up the registry from dormant files, unwanted and broken links, and missing registry entries thereby replenishing the system’s original performance making it responsive to various operations.

WinASO Registry Optimizer

WinASO Registry Optimizer

Unlike most registry optimizers, WinASo Registry Optimizer provides an advance feature that can help resolve IE problems, privacy cleaner for cleaning up browser history, start-up manager for controlling startup apps from loading, and a built-in defrag functionality.

Given the features above, it only makes optimizing your computer a lot easier because right after cleaning your browsers, folders and registry, it then provides you with the defrag functionality that allows compression of data within your hard disk thereby freeing more space. This latter option then is something that is not mostly found on regular registry cleaners.

Using registry optimizer have a lot of advantages but always remember not to totally delete all registry detected entries unless you back them up and you’re sure of what you’re doing. That’s basically the toughest challenge on registry cleaners because you don’t want to end up scraping out functional registry entries that may leave some of your programs damaged.

You might want to Download WinASO Registry Optimizer trial version for a full run and see if it passes your standard.

Are You Hotspot Secured?

November 29, 2009 | By | Reply More

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

Hotspots are basically the life of laptops. Similar to mobile phones that uses communication signals, laptops on the other hand uses Wi-Fi connection in order to connect to the internet and enable the user to communicate and transmit information across multiple channels.

Most places or locations nowadays that offers shared internet connection over a wireless LAN via a wireless router are called hotspots which are normally found on airports, train stations, fuel/gasoline stations, coffee shops and dining places, military bases and camps, hotels and hospitals, bookstores, and other public places including schools and universities.

steal this connection

Other than laptop users, WiFi phone users are also capable of getting access over the wireless connection (Wi-Fi). Broadband internet subscribers however can offer wireless access through an AP (Access Point) in conjunction with the router that is connected to the internet.

Given these readily accessible hubs for online usage, have you ever thought about how secure these places are? The mere fact that you’re accessing a shared connection wherein multiple devices are connecting to one access point, that only means you are vulnerable to snoopers and hackers lurking in these places.

I couldn’t emphasize more how your security can be utterly compromised unwittingly in these places if you’re device is not properly secured. So, how would you protect yourself from identity thefts and security attacks? Why not install a software that will mask your IP while you’re online to ensure privacy? Hotspot shield allows you to access all internet content and bypass firewalls plus, it also secures web sessions with HTTPS encryption to safeguard sensitive personal data

Hotspot Shield runs well on Vista, XP, 2000, Mac OS X (10.5 Leopard) and Mac OS X (10.4 Tiger). For information about download versions, you may send an email to:
win(at)anchorfree(dot)com for Windows version; and
mac(at)anchorfree(dot)com for Mac version.

If you think this is the right tool for you, visit this link to download.

Do-It-Yourself PC Auditing Software

November 27, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

How often do you check your hardware for conditioning? Do often download the latest Windows Security updates? Do have all your software license keys intact?

If you answered at least a “no” in any of these questions then you might possibly need some computer auditing. Well, if you’re thinking about the cost of doing such task there’s really a way around it and you don’t have to pay somebody to do it for you.

A free PC auditing software does the trick of keeping you abreast with your current hardware settings and all the software installed. Belarc Advisor is a freeware that builds an HTML profile of your computer system in minutes indicating all installed software and hardware specs, missing Microsoft hotfixes or Security Updates you failed to download, your anti-virus’ status, and CIS (Center for Internet Security) benchmarks.

Belarc Advisor Computer Profile Results

Belarc Advisor Computer Profile Results

All the above information is comprehensively shown on a web page via your default web browser which will open once the program has finished scanning your computer. The results are fairly accurate but it really wouldn’t tell you how to fix your computer is it’s slowing down or crashing. It will only show some salient details which might give you a hint on the areas of your PC that needs some attention.

Like for example, during the course of the Conficker scare, I’ve failed to download one of Microsoft’s Security updates and that caused my computer’s vulnerability to the malware.

Another savvy feature of this program is it allows you to take note of all the license keys you have on each installed software on your system. This way, you can have these vital information for safe keeping just in case you might need to rebuild an OS installation. Of course, it’s easy to download replacement software but you cannot use them fully if you don’t have your keys.

Belarc Advisor is free to use but is limited to a single computer and for personal purposes only. It doesn’t have a portable version which could have been better for servicing IT professionals and computer technicians but otherwise I think the software is really useful.

Go ahead and give it a try, who knows, you might be surprised with what you’ll find out about your PC.

Download

SyncMate Helps You Sync Your Mac to Multiple Devices

November 27, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

At this of time day, installing individual synchronization tools for every accounts and devices is old school. The average user may have multiple accounts in one or two ways and the ability to sync them all in one setting can seamlessly make the unimaginable burden a breeze.

Most Mac users also have a PC at home and most of the time, they bring with them countless gadgets like a Smartphone or Nokia, a Windows Mobile, a PSP or anything mobile where they can get their hands on to check their account, schedule, contacts, play around, and get their files among many other things and if you’re on the same situation, wouldn’t you want something that would allow you to sync all your devices and accounts all in one place?

That’s what SyncMate does best. SyncMate allows you to synchronize all your office Mac files and data to your home computer, mobile device, PSP, thumb drives, Google account and your online backup data.

SyncMate User Interface

SyncMate User Interface

SyncMate comes with a free and paid version. The SyncMate Free Edition allows you to sync your Mac’s Address Book and iCal entries alongside their analogues in supported devices with the ability to back up files to your Online Storage Account. It also supports Google Contacts and Calendar synchronization.

On the other hand, SyncMate Expert Edition provides users with a full access capabilities to synchronization features such as synching iTunes and Video, iPhoto, Safari and Firefox browser bookmarks, Entourage and mails, notes, To Do lists including separate folders between your Mac and supported devices or accounts plus SMS read, write, send and delete functionality plus .cab file installation to a Windows Mobile device right on your Mac computer.

You can view all sync options for each supported device by visiting this link.

Maс versions from 10.4-10.6 can sync files or data via Wi-Fi, USB, Bluetooth, Ethernet or Internet and works well with Windows Mobile 5, 6, 6.1, 6.5 and Nokia S40phones.

SyncMate is an all-in-one sync solution software that will take away all the headaches of installing multiple sync tools just to achieve a totally synchronized way of living with a Mac.

This post is an advertorial brought to you by our friends from SyncMate. You can visit the site http://www.sync-mac.com/ for the official download and support requests. SyncMate has promised to giveaway a free license to a lucky Software Critics newsletter subscriber so if you haven’t signed up, simply fill out the form on the left sidebar. Your questions are always welcome.

Optimize Your Laptop Battery with BatteryCare

November 21, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More

Reading time: 1 – 2 minutes

Laptop users are left with no option whenever their computer runs out of power but what if you have software that does the optimization of energy for your laptop? Would you care to use it?

Let me introduce to you BatteryCare. BatteryCare is a laptop battery optimizer software designed to maximize your laptop’s performance during long hours of usage. It also has the ability to monitor every battery’s discharge cycles, increases autonomy and improve lifetime.

BatteryCare

BatteryCare

Among the other salient features of the software are automatic power plans switching, greater control over Windows Aero and demanding services, auto-update functionality, and it’s lightweight which means it doesn’t use much disk space.

BatteryCare requires Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 to operate. If you think BatteryCare can cost you money then don’t worry because it’s totally free to use.

Microsoft Office 2010 (Beta) Download Now Available

November 21, 2009 | By | 3 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 2 minutes

Microsoft has recently launched the beta version of Office 2010 available for download. According to Microsoft, the beta or trial version is made available to the public in order to gather feedback and reports on bugs which are common practice for beta releases.

Microsoft Office 2010 Beta - Free Download

Microsoft Office 2010 Beta - Free Download

Jacob Jaffe, Microsoft’s Information Worker Business Group leader, said during the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles that they had been planning the package before they released Office 2007.

Among the highlights of the beta release include a new file tab and set of visuals for ease of use plus the ability to save documents directly to Windows Live Skydrive (Microsoft’s online storage), from within the desktop application.

Both 32 and 64-bit formats are supported by the new office app and is compatible with XP (Service Pack 3), Vista, and the new OS—Windows 7.

Normal editions such as Office Professional 2010, Office Home and Business 2010, and Office 2010 Home and Student edition will me made available sometime in the first half of 2010.

No Better Way to Lock Your PC with winKeyLock

November 19, 2009 | By | 7 Replies More

Reading time: 3 – 4 minutes

As an advocate of open source, I normally search for nifty pieces of software that I believe people can make use of without having to spend a single penny.

Open source software being free does fulfill the job but finding a genuine useful tool is also a challenge.

I’ve done today’s call to share with you winKeyLock, an open source utility that allows users to quickly disable computer access by setting up hot keys on the software’s menu.

The hot key combination can be as follows:
Ctrl + (A-Z) or (0-8)
Ctrl + Shift + (A-Z) or (0-8)
Alt + (A-Z) or (0-8)

If winKeyLock is activated, settings such as keyboard, mouse buttons, mouse wheel, and mouse movement are locked depending on your preference.

winKeyLock options

winKeyLock options

Disabling screen saver is something that you might not care about using because even if you enable it and you activate the lock, the screen saver will just disappear. So, it doesn’t serve much purpose.

Whenever the lock is activated, a tray icon can be seen like the one below.

winKeyLock tray icon

winKeyLock tray icon

These icons are changeable via the icon tab options in the menu. If you double click the lock icon, the software or lock is activated which means you have to unlock it using the hot key that you’ve set in the beginning.

Remember your hot keys and set it first before doing anything else if you don’t want to lock yourself out from your own computer.

Normally, you will see the word “None” as default on the hot key fields. Simply press the Backspace button on your keyboard to change the hot key values.

The General tab menu options however is something that you cannot setup at the moment for auto launching the software at Windows startup. I believe that it’s something that has not been improved but overall, winKeyLock is operational and useful.

You may download winKeyLock and get support from here. I’ll entertain questions as well on the comments section.

Update: The salient feature that is not out-rightly showcased on this post is the ability of this program to lock the screen without having to make the screen blank compared to using the usual Windows locking procedure that brings you back to Windows welcome page.

In other words, using this locking software allows you to lock any screen interruptions that maybe caused by keyboard or mouse presses and clicks, respectively while keeping what’s on the screen like an open webpage, media player or while watching an online video.

You literally keep what’s on the screen uninterrupted once the lock is activated even with kids around your computer that can simply sneak-in pressing keys and touching your mouse.

Resolving DOC File Incompatibilities with MS Office 2007

November 18, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 2 minutes

We all know that DOC file extensions correspond to documents created on earlier versions of Microsoft Word application.

For those using the new MS Office Suite 2007, DOC files are better known to have DOCX extension.

save-as-web-page_9oct2009_0925

Familiarity with these file extensions can help you get out of confusion however if you are using the current MS Word 2007 for document creation, you might get into some trouble if you ever want your files open on a computer with an old version of MS Word installed because it will only recognize DOC or .doc files.

So, how do you resolve this issue?

There are various resources that can be found online starting off with web-based file converters such as docx2doc.com, docx-converter.com, cometdocs.com, zamzar.com and converters.com.

However, if internet connection hinders you from using the web, you can download trial versions from batchwork.com to do the job for you.

Just a reminder, some of the websites mentioned above do charge a fee for access depending on the amount of files to be converted.

I may have missed a lot of great web resources for file conversion online so your recommendations and suggestions are very much welcome.

How Confident Are You With Registry Cleaners?

November 18, 2009 | By | 7 Replies More

Reading time: 1 – 2 minutes

It has been quite a while since I last featured a registry cleaner on this blog. Brushing up with the facts, registry cleaners are utility software designed to fix and restore Windows registry errors.

Registry cleaners running on a computer normally remove configuration and unnecessary data utilized by the system in an attempt to make the system respond quicker on various operations when required.

The latter scans your Windows registry for leftover files whenever there are failed installations on your computer, dormant files or data no longer used by the system including settings that trigger spyware or malware to operate on your system.

Though registry cleaners offer a great deal of optimizing your computer by automating the process of cleaning up the clutters in your system through removal of broken links, unwanted files, and missing file references from previously removed programs that cause system bloat, some similar software can scrape out old registry entries that are still usable. When that happens, old programs may not function properly and cause crash.

In this case, you may consult registry cleaner reviews to help you choose which utility tool best serves your requirement. Genuine feedback from users will provide you with an idea on how to gauge which software outperforms the rest in its kind.

Windows 7 Desktop Guide for Newbies

November 14, 2009 | By | 7 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 2 minutes

If you ever made the big switch to Windows 7 sometime last month or are willing to take a plunge into this brand new OS from Microsoft, then I’m sure you’ve been looking for something that would help you become familiar with the various workarounds with much ease.

Windows in a Box is a desktop tool that will guide you through Windows 7 from theme selections to Parental controls to accessing existing functions and settings all in one complete user interface.

Windows 7 in a Box

Windows 7 in a Box

The software is spyware, adware, malware free with the need to install and mobile which means it can run from a flash drive, sleek and light because it doesn’t consume your computer’s resources. Updates about the software will be made available soon.

Just a quick reminder guys, I haven’t used this software yet because at the moment, I still don’t have Windows 7 unless somebody would be willing to donate. I’d appreciate it. I’m not really sure if the software is free because based on the software publisher’s site, it doesn’t say so.

If you find this software interesting to download, you may do so here. If you ever find out whether the software is free or not, please let me know. Thanks!

Mobile Connection Management Unleashed

November 13, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

Reading time: 2 – 2 minutes

Everything in the world today is becoming mobile from 3G to 4G WWAN wireless networks. Businesses gear-up to these demands of the times in order to survive today’s rapidly changing environment that are largely controlled by mediums that transmit and support information access across various channels.

Mobile connection management tools play a large part in making great things possible such as mobile connectivity and security management for workforce requirements that provide IT management with the aid of a mobile VPN plus added security and authenticated sessions.

Aside from managing diverse mobile devices which include PDAs, Smartphones and other advanced next-generation phones, users also have the ability to customize their experience with personalized services, apps and menus that suits their needs. Some applications even allow calls to be seamlessly switched between cellular networks and WiFi in real-time through VoIP, Instant messaging or IM, Presence, Multimedia exchange and SMS.

Mobile connection management software also provides image compression on camera enabled phones without sacrificing quality as well as special application software with aesthetic and advanced creation tools for developers of 3D animation, games, and digital arts.

Rarely that these information are discussed on blogs and I do at some point find myself overwhelmed but for those of you who may have the idea and want to learn more, you may visit this mobile connection manager website for further information on options which I believe could help further mobilize your business.

Some of the robust solutions highlighted include enterprise options, specialized tools for cable and mobile operators, device and computer manufacturer applications, and amazing tools for small businesses and commercial software for savvy end-users.

Seamless management of multiple wireless networks has been a complete challenge for businesses catering to the mobile market but innovative developers will always find a way to remain competitive and the best move is to entrust your business’ success to those with exclusively granted patents and proven track record. Change is inevitable but those who always find a way to improve will always remain on top of their game.

Gizmodo Scareware Fiasco and My Two Cents

November 1, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More

Reading time: 4 – 6 minutes

It seems like everyday, thousands of online users are falling into the hands of crooks either by becoming a victim of online fraud, identity theft, phishing, hacking, and viruses.

Gizmodo iPhone & iPod Touch WebclipRecently, cyber criminals had once again proven that nobody on the web is safe particularly internet users. Gizmodo, a popular gadget blog became the host to scareware spread out that affected most of their readers (without them initially knowing it) through an initiated alert from an advert encouraging users to download fake software otherwise known as Scareware or Rogueware.

Scareware operates using tricks by inflicting fear through deceit convincing users that their system has been infected with a virus and that they need to download the software for protection.

Once you fall into this trap, the malware will then be executed on your computer thus creating system trouble. Some malware can be very intrusive and the possibility of hacking personally identifiable information on one’s system cannot be discounted. Keystrokes can be recorded in an instant by some forms of malware that can lead to the latter case or normally termed Identity Theft.

I’m a reader of Gizmodo, in fact, I’m a subscriber but I only read their posts via RSS and since they do publish a lot of articles on a given day, I really can’t cope up with it so I just simply skim through the headlines. The day the scareware went out, I wasn’t there but If I was, I wouldn’t even bother downloading something from their site even if it’s a well-known technology blog. For me, it’s not an exemption.

I had my fair share of experience and had tasted Conficker during its course, well the main reason why my system had acquired it is because I deactivated the Antivirus for several days and failed to download Microsoft’s Security Update but other than careless mistake, so far, I’m good.

Tell you what? I’m going to share some simple tips which would definitely save you from any Scareware plot.

  1. If you’re on a website that is offering software downloads and is not basically the software’s official distribution site (e.g. AVG.com, Avast.com, etc.), don’t download anything. Although there are software download sites that have been around for some time which have already gained your trust, it doesn’t hurt to visit the software developer’s site where the software originates. Once you have tracked the software’s whereabouts similar to knowing a person’s background, you’ll surely get the hint. If the software has not long been updated, then better think again before you download because you might be harvesting some rotten eggs.
  2. Avoid clicking banners and popups that invite you for a free scan because this is where most malware hide. Fight your trigger happy click tendencies.
  3. Hover on links and look into your browser’s status bar before you click them. This way, you’ll get an idea whether the link will redirect to some URL that is somewhat suspicious. This simple no-brainy trick has helped me get rid of a Paypal Phishing attack on my email some weeks ago.
  4. The are cases wherein you may have already downloaded the software and your browser has not detected it as malicious, before you even run the file, make sure that you have scanned the file with your Antivirus software because sometimes, there are executable files that are left undetected by browsers but they seem to appear normal yet the moment you run them, you’ll already infected. This step holds true for all types of files you download online.
  5. Don’t run downloads directly from your browsers especially executable files or .exe files or binary. Save them instead on a separate folder on your computer then scan it before you execute the file.
  6. Get rid of unfamiliar file extensions unless you have researched on it before you download.
  7. Have your browsers and Antivirus software regularly updated.
  8. Scan your system regularly.
  9. Keep abreast of the latest news on Internet and Computer security by visiting your Antivirus software provider’s website or by subscribing to their RSS feeds, related sites, blogs and forums.
  10. Always be in the know. You may not remember all of these in one sitting so it pays to bookmark and spread the word so that someone can remind you if you’ve missed out on something.

These are my two cents on how we can prevent ourselves from becoming a victim of scareware and cyber criminals. These are all based on my personal experience. If you have something to share, please do so at the comment’s section.

Free Software to Check If Your Website Is Down

October 17, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

Site uptime is very important. It’s a highly significant factor to check in dealing with web hosting companies—their ability to deliver at least a score close to a perfect one hundred.

Who would want to have his website down almost every second yet pay an ample amount? Nobody right?

Since I have had a bitter web hosting experience, I think I’m a better source for tips about things related to web hosting particularly in keeping an eye on your web hosting provider if they are really keeping what they’ve promised.

Without further a do, I would like you to know that you can use a tiny piece of software that will alert you on your desktop once your blog or website becomes unreachable.

SiteUp does the job of making sure you are alerted every time your site is down. This application runs on your system tray and checks your site depending on the monitoring options that you have set.

Alerts are in the form of a pop-up warning message, a balloon hint or through flashing the icon on the tray.

SiteUp is free unlike other website uptime checkers. Among the other information it provides include displaying a message when the site goes back online, a log file when the site become available which is something you can show to your host as a proof, it can be set to auto-start at Windows start-up and check for active Internet connection.

SiteUp Configuration Options

SiteUp Configuration Options

With SiteUp, you can be informed on how your web host is performing—real time. How about you? Do know any free software that does the same? How do you know if your blog/website is down?

Free Album to Manage Your Photos

October 12, 2009 | By | Reply More

Reading time: 1 – 2 minutes

If you’re looking at a very simply application to manage your photos on your computer, here’s one that I found which would definitely do the job—Free Album by PCSleek.

Free Album is an application designed to manage photos from your PC by displaying them into a virtual album format. Like most virtual photo albums, it can support a wide array of graphic formats however the saving function is limited to BMP, JPG, and GIF formats.

It also comes with a separate viewer that shows images and photos that are compiled on a single file.

If you are expecting so much about this small piece of software, then don’t. It’s pretty simple functionality wouldn’t really please you if you’re an intermediate to advanced level user.

And by the way, this app is free to use. You can check it out here.

AVG 9.0 Now Out With Improved Features

October 9, 2009 | By | 16 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 2 minutes

One of the world’s most popular free anti-virus software and its family of free and paid internet security products recently released AVG 9.0 in the market.

AVG promises to deliver significant enhancements in speed and levels of protection on its newest version which I believe is pretty important. In fact, it normally takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete a scan on my PC (free version). AVG 9.0 aims to provide ease of use without compromising user experience while consistently providing security protection to its users.

AVG 9.0 targets reduction of up to 50 percent in scan times and improvements of 10 to 15 percent in boot times and memory usage depending on the system’s configuration. By marking the files as safe or unsafe, during the first scan, users can now skip the safe files for future scans unless the file structure changes.

Resident Shield, firewall, and identity protection modules are all integrated in this version which will allow modules to share malware information to each other enabling AVG’s detection ability, malware, rootkits, and ID Theft threats removal accurately especially on computers where signatures have not yet been issued.

Also, AVG 9.0 is set to deliver improved anti-phishing detection through its LinkScanner enhancements which can quickly determine if a certain web page is a phishing site. Provided is the ability to detect whether a certain third-party product interferes or conflicts with your currently installed AVG antivirus.

The software company also introduced the AVG Identity Theft Recovery Unit (ITRU), a dedicated service to offer free support for AVG customers in the US who has been a victim of identity theft that is accessible through the AVG Security Toolbar.

These promising additions really make AVG unique from a plethora of antivirus softwares available and is something to look forward to as my computer was then saved by AVG from the Conficker virus.

Online Anonymity and Privacy Protection Offered By IP Privacy

October 7, 2009 | By | Reply More

Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

Online security has always been the target of all unscrupulous entities no matter how we try to protect it but we always have the choice—fight them or be vulnerable.

There are enormous selections of tools available online that provides security protection and identity concealment through IP proxies. These IP proxies hides the user’s identifying tracks to prevent data collection from websites such as location, operating system , browsing habits and other identifiable information that a user wants to keep.

As proxy sites allow anonymous browsing over the Internet on a secured network where access to certain sites are not allowed, an IP concealment software however switches your machine’s local IP by routing its traffic to foreign proxies which IP Privacy software does best.

IP Privacy allows you to select an array of new proxies (foreign proxies) to test and browse anonymously. There are two main modes available—enable online anonymity and enable privacy modes.

Enabling the online anonymity mode will hide your real IP address while enabling privacy mode will block invasive codes like Java script and ActiveX on visited web pages plus the online privacy option within the IP Privacy settings offers time-framed online track erasures such as Internet History, Cookies, typed URL, Temporary Internet files, forms and online passwords.

I have tested the IP Privacy software on this blog which uses the Visitor Maps and View Who’s Online WordPress plugin (which tracks website visitors location, IP, and specific pages viewed) and it’s amazing that my local IP routes to a foreign country. It really does its purpose along side its user-friendly interface which makes it easy to maneuver.

Unfortunately, this is a shareware so it’s limited to a 3-day trial only use. Requires full license based on annual subscription. I was just lucky that they contacted me to try this nifty tool.

For further information about its features, you may visit IP Privacy Features page. Immediate download is available by clicking this link. Questions and comments on this program is much welcome.

iSCSI SAN Software and Storage Virtualization: An Overview

September 24, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

It’s going to be a little bit tough this time discussing something as obscure as this topic but I’ll certainly do my best to make it lighter and understandable as I can.

Web hosting as we all know operate on virtualized servers. Considering the concept of Storage virtualization involves the abstraction of logical storage from physical storage which means virtualization of storage takes place by making data independent of its location.

Having a little concept about web hosting, normally an IP is provided. An iSCSI (pronounced eye-skuzzy) also known as Internet Small Computer System Interface that is IP-based serves as the storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities. Whenever SCSI commands are carried over within the network, iSCSI facilitates the data transfers over intranets and manages location-independent data storage and retrieval over long distances using its existing network infrastructure. It also makes possible the transmission of data over local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and the Internet.

As a popular storage area network (SAN) protocol, it provides organizations the ability to consolidate storage into data center storage arrays while at the same time providing hosts (such as database and web servers) with the illusion of locally-attached disks making it a lot better than the traditional Fibre Channel, which requires special-purpose cabling.

Having iSCSI storage software makes possible the conversion of any standard 64-bit or 32-bit Windows Server into a scalable SAN that can work over an existing Ethernet network. A great example of this is that of StarWind Enterprise Server that helps organizations build rock-solid, high-performance IP SAN on IT-friendly budget.

Part of iSCSI SANs disaster recovery mechanism is its ability to allow entire disk arrays migration across a WAN with minimal configuration changes, thus, making storage “routable” in the same manner as network traffic which can also be applied in extreme cases whenever there are prolonged outages. In simple terms, it can function as a back up.

I have only discussed the salient points of the topic and tried not to be too technical as much as possible. If you have any questions or insights that you would like to share, feel free to do so at the comments section. This post was brought to you by our friends from www.starwindsoftware.com.

Ever Heard of Dot LIC File Extension?

September 8, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More

Reading time: 1 – 2 minutes

Dealing with various types of software everyday definitely exposed me to many different types of files and its corresponding extensions.

Today, let me introduce you to something new which will give you an idea how sharewares and other commercial software programs use file extensions for their licenses.

Most of us who uses licensed software may not be aware that the moment we register the software we bought to the manufacturer, a .lic file extension is created which contains all the registration information. File extensions ending in .lic are sometimes written in text file but may also be encrypted.

Various programs use this file extension so the best way to recognize them is to determine their location including the date and time it was made in order to track which programs were running when the file was written.

Aside from distinguishing dot lic files as software licenses, the same extension is also used to designate Borland license files, ESET NOD32 Antivirus license files, FLEXnet Manager license files, and PETRA Log Image Calibration files.

If you ever run into LIC files, don’t fret because you only need to open it with your text editor like Notepad, WordPad or any third party text editor and you’re good to go.

Software to Protect Laptops from Being Stolen

September 5, 2009 | By | 9 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

What would you do if your laptop gets stolen?
A. Call for help and find out who took it.
B. Forget it, move on and just buy something new.
C. I don’t know. I have no idea.

It seems like a difficult question to ask but what if it happens to you? The first option is a natural response. Who would ever want somebody to just simply get away from stealing another’s property?

The second option is something I’ve made up but I’m not really sure if it’s going to be the initial reaction of anybody who’ll be in that situation. What do you think?

For the last option, I would not blame anybody who’ll be in the same state. It would be shocking at first but you don’t have to be in a helpless situation. There’s free software that is designed to protect laptops from being stolen.

LAlarm

LAlarm

LAlarm, free laptop alarm security software designed to safeguard laptops from being stolen. LAlarm buzzes an alarm whenever a laptop is in danger of being stolen or losing data. It can even recover and destroy data if the laptop is stolen.

An alarm is normally triggered whenever the AC power cord from a locked laptop is removed. Ideal for laptops left unattended in an unsafe place for a particular time period.

LAlarm protects sensitive data in a laptop by permanently destroying all its data with the option of having all its data emailed to the owner even before it’s destroyed and it can also be used to wipe out all its data at the end of laptop lifecycle. It can also trigger the alarm if the laptop is placed outside an acceptable perimeter.

Among the many features of the software include laptop damage prevention due to sudden power loss, prevents data loss for both physical and logical disk problems, laptop failure prevention by detecting signs of HDD deterioration and recommends HDD replacement at an early stage, plus the ability to send SMS or email to mobile phones whenever an alarm goes off or when a data destruction is completed.

For technical concerns about the software, don’t hesitate to contact the developer’s site. This software was personally suggested by Mr. James Lee, General Manager at LAlarm (via contact us) and this post was written in gratis as a friendly response.

A Look into the Future of Viruses and Online Security Threats

August 24, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

Reading time: 3 – 4 minutes

Most of us may not care so much about online security as long as we have an antivirus software installed on our computers at home but this talk from Computeractive and David Emm from Kaspersky Labs share how the types of threats facing home users are changing overtime.

Among the highlights of the interview discusses the dangers of the internet—the types of dangers we encounter, how vulnerable we can be to those dangers and how we can go about protecting ourselves from such threats online including some tips on how we can safely secure our kids from unsolicited online information.

Here are some of the salient points covered.

The dangers of being on the internet and all the risks that are out there for computer users are not over hyped simply because online or offline, we are vulnerable of exposing ourselves from any risks if we will not take some necessary precaution.

Why should people pay for anti-virus software? According to David of Kaspersky, a whole range of technologies sets apart paid versions from free ones which only focus on the traditional antivirus and technology much wider than that can be obtained from paid products along with dedicated customer support. While free antivirus software may not offer free customer support however there are forums which can help users. I certainly do not agree that paid products are generally superior, some of them may be advanced in some ways but there are a lot of free antivirus softwares that really does a good job in providing computer security.

The biggest threat that we have online are Trojan horse programs—launches undesirable harmful operation when run which can normally harvest user identifiable information like email addresses, credit card numbers with most of them having key loggers built-in that monitors keyboard actions as we type.

And how do we counter Trojan programs than pretend to be security softwares? It’s important to know what your chosen security product is and if something comes up online that purport to be offering you protection, resist the temptation of downloading them. I couldn’t site anything more appropriate as an example for this than my post, “Is Free Antivirus Software No Good” which focuses on the utterly infomercial blog post generalizing that free antivirus softwares are crap with the blog author blaming it on free products.

What are false positives? False positives are cases when an antivirus software pick up and provide warning signs about a website or files which you know are safe. David said that these false positives cannot be eliminated perfectly. He advises that whenever you encounter such, send it in to the lab.

How do you protect your kids from unsolicited online information? Users should rely on technology and common sense. Assign user specific rights and password or take as far as using tamper proof solutions such as specialized software.

There are pretty much thousands of ways to protect ourselves from the threats of the web but vigilance is the key to everything. Watch the video for the complete details of the talk and share in the comments your ways of protecting yourself from online threats.

Are Speed Reading Softwares for Real?

August 15, 2009 | By | 9 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

It was really intriguing to actually find softwares promising increased reading speed. I’m pretty sure that there were some existing techniques that can be learned on how to do this, the idea of buying software just for it doesn’t make sense to me.

Speed Reading Software

Speed Reading Software

While most Speed Reading Software publishers claim that using their programs can tremendously increase reading rate, like how many of these people who had bought and used these softwares really achieved positive results?

As we all know, practice makes perfect. I agree with that. In all our endeavors, we strive to meet our specific goals by pushing ourselves to be better in what we do. Athletes train rigorously for sporting events, teachers undergo training to upgrade their skills, students study hard to get good grades while bloggers write and read more to produce better posts.

This idea of increased reading speed can be attained through frequent reading, correct? Try to experiment on yourself by lessening your reading habits for about a week or month then go back to your usual routine. What do you observe? Of course you’ll notice some differences.

Its plain simple, using these speed reading softwares will subject you to exercises that require reading and these are all introduced within the software’s functionality. The only difference is these programs have built-in timers for your reading sessions. So, why spend a dime when you can just practice reading everyday at your own pace. I’m pretty sure that you will get increased speed and comprehension in no time.

I came across some Speed Reading Softwares online—Speed Reader X, Reading Genius, Freader, AceReader, and EyeQ that you can use at your own discretion. I’m not endorsing any of them so don’t think that I’ll get any affiliate commission. This Speed Reading Software idea is just plain ridiculous for me.

If you really want to practice on increasing your reading speed, I’d suggest reading more often and play with different types of reading materials. Have some variety in your reading. Don’t just read those you’re familiar with but try reading obscure and even vague or jargonized written media. It will expose you to different levels of reading difficulty and build your vocabulary.

I may also want to share “The Speed Reading Monster Course” for your reading pleasure but since the author disclaims any warranty (expressed or implied) about the ebook, neither do I, so just read the ebook’s Warranty and Terms of Use Agreement. You can download the ebook here.

If you have anything to share about how you improved your reading rate or if you ever used any Speed Reading Software or just about anything related to this topic, please feel free to do so at the comment’s section.

Software as a Service (SaaS) Simplified

July 22, 2009 | By | Reply More

Reading time: 3 – 5 minutes

Software Critics will not be complete without ever touching this one-of-a-kind service that has been widely discussed and yet still remain a matter of debate but considerably an option worth looking at especially by small businesses.

What is Saas? Saas stands for Software as a Service, a software deployment model whereby a provider licenses an application to customers as a subscription service. Saas software vendors normally host the application on their own web servers or download the application to the consumer’s (subscriber) device which can be disabled once the application is no longer in use or when the subscription contract expires.

The salient features of Saas are as follows:

Subscription driven. The business model of SaaS is nonetheless a contracted service which requires careful selection especially when choosing the right provider. A proven track record like most subscription based services is something to look at but this one is more than just your regular cable TV subscription!

Hosted Service. Remember, like any hosting service similar to a website or blog, you are likely to experience outages and slowdowns. In the Saas model, a dedicated server with a copy of an application running on an Internet-connected service makes possible multi-tenancy however it is required that each customer’s data are safe and secure. Like all hosting providers, 24/7 uptime and support is a must.

Web-based interface. The flexibility of running a Saas powered environment makes it easy for administrators to access the application anywhere at anytime of day whenever there’s an internet connection.

Hassle-Free Updates. Each update is implemented only on one single platform or dedicated server which makes rolling out of updates an easy task.

Low TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Minimizes infrastructure investments and maintenance expenses as SaaS reduces IT efforts especially during solution upgrades compared to on-premise installations.

Software as a Service (SaaS) functionality diagram

Software as a Service (SaaS) functionality diagram

The challenges of SaaS

Embracing SaaS may require deeper understanding of its scope and implementation. Unlike regular web hosting, transition from one vendor to another will take a considerable amount of effort and time due to vendor lock-in, a lack of portability between vendors, as a major drawback.

Another important thing to look at is the IT dependency of clients over providers which overtime might cause a significant over-dependency when on-premise and traditional on-site IT is abandoned.

Since SaaS operates on the Internet, there’s always a question of security wherein storage of highly sensitive information is concerned unless SaaS providers can deliver tight integration with sensitive back-end systems that makes it impossible from a remote system to create holes in the firewall that would permit an outside server to initiate actions on internal systems. Also, the need to transfer large files over the Internet can delay results compared to Ethernet transfer speeds since the typical Internet connectivity speeds of 100kbs – 1000kbs is less admirable than internal Ethernet speeds of up to 1,000,000kbs.

SaaS providers like most web hosting service have to be financially viable with a long standing revenue sources and reliable track record in order to attract customers aside from the fact that they should provide a balanced Service Agreement that will benefit mutual understanding between parties within the scope and acceptability requirements of the contract not compromising both the intention and the ability to safeguard unsolicited and confidential information. In order to makes this work, internet security procedures such as SSL or encryption technologies should be required by all SaaS consumers.

SaaS is very promising but unlike any other service available on the internet, these requires thorough analysis considering acquiring a hosting software as a service implemented via a remote server, a vendor has to have the structural capability of providing security and confidence in everyway.

5 Best FTP Clients for Newbie Bloggers and Webmasters

June 19, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

Reading time: 3 – 4 minutes

It was only in the beginning of January of the current year when I became familiar in using FTP Softwares so much that I’ve been used to it more than the web interface provided by my web host. FTP clients are a lot easier to maneuver since the interface allows you to simply lunch the program without having to open your web browser in times you need to immediately upload or download something from your site to your computer and vice versa.

I do not want to make an assumption that everyone who will be reading this post knows exactly what I’m saying so I’ll make it simple. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, while an FTP client is a software program for your computer which is used to upload and download files.

FTP runs over the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) usually via the well-known port number 21 (data connections usually use port number 20) for incoming connections from clients. These connections coming from the client forms the control stream on which commands are passed to the FTP server (host) and responses are collected.

For bloggers and webmasters, a user-friendly interface makes the usage experience smooth sailing. The availability of many freeware FTPs are remarkable so purchasing commercial FTP software is unlikely to be recommended even by most experienced webmasters and bloggers.

To help newbie bloggers and webmasters become more productive, I’ve compiled a list of the 5 Best FTP Clients for Newbie Bloggers and Webmasters which I think are excellent.

SmartFTP Client—available to both (32 and 64-bit) Windows OS. I’ve tried using this before but I didn’t like the user-interface because it was so confusing. The application window is clean-looking although it’s just not appealing to use for starters to I looked for something else.

CoreFTP for Windows—I’ve been using this FTP client for quite sometime because it’s so easy to use and navigate. The window may not be good looking unlike SmartFTP but the ability to switch connections from one website host to another makes my life easier. I highly recommend this for bloggers and webmaster managing multiple websites with different host names.

FileZilla for Windows and Linux—this is definitely one of the most widely used FTP client since CoreFTP. I’ve used this software for quite a while but this can only manage one connection at a time so multiple web owners are not advised to use this.

Cyberduck—is another open source FTP client with an easy to use interface with quickly accessible bookmarks. I have never used this so I couldn’t say much about it but it’s worth the try. I’ll update you on this once I get to use it when I can.

WinSCP—is an open source SFTP (Secure FTP which can also refer to SSH File Transfer Protocol) client and FTP client for Windows. Its main function is the secure file transfer between a local and a remote computer. Again, I’ve never tried using this software so any comments regarding this FTP client is most welcome in the comments section.

SweetIM: A Fun-filled Instant Messenger Software Enhancer

June 1, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

Reading time: 3 – 4 minutes

Instant messenger software like Yahoo!, ICQ, and MSN among others are very useful in keeping up with our social interactions. Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Multi-Messenger patch come in handly to provide a multi-functional instant messenger experience. However, if you are looking for variety, I have found a great instant messenger enhancement software that will surely light up a boaring IM window.

Introducing SweetIM, an instant messenger software enhancer that comes with two separate and fun-filled functionality–the SweetIM Software and the SweetIM Toolbar. SweetIM software enhances messenger experience by adding emoticons, winks, audibles, sound FX, display pictures, and nudges while the SweetIM Toolbar (which is only compatible with Internet Explorer) allows users to add favorite icons and emoticons to any web based application including web based email such as Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Web Forums, Blogs, etc.

SweetIM is elegantly designed but the lack of compatibility with other widely used browsers like Firefox, Opera, and Safari is still a work in progress. Let me share with you a screen shot of SweetIM integrated on Yahoo! Messenger and SweetIM Toolbar on IE.

Sweet IM in Yahoo Messenger

Sweet IM in Yahoo Messenger

Also, here is an embed video taken from the SweetIM Toolbar on IE (which can also be sent via email) with Zac Efron on it. Enjoy!

If you liked this post, you might also be interested in Resolving Yahoo! Messenger sign in error 81003004.

Add-on features that make up a great uninstaller program

May 12, 2009 | By | Reply More

Reading time: 3 – 4 minutes

This post serves as an installment from my previous article entitled, “Tips in finding a better uninstaller program“. As tackled from the latter, there are add-on features that make up a merchantable and an invaluable uninstaller program. While the use of built-in uninstaller within programs are a bit trivial, in this post, you will certainly know why a third-party uninstaller software is a must use.

Going back to uninstaller merchantability, a logger is necessary to watches any significant change that is made to the system during installation. Thereby, a system restore point is created prior to uninstalltion which determine change logs. The intangible part of third-party uninstallers is the Uninstaller itself which is used to reverse changes in the log. In this way, the applications can be uninstalled because all changes that were made at the time of installation are reversed.

Effective uninstallers include an Analyzer which is used to uninstall programs of which installation is not logged by the uninstaller. It analyzes the program and finds all related files and registry entries and deletes it should the user decided to uninstall the program.

Some uninstallers include a Watcher. A Watcher determines if there are running programs for installation programs such as SETUP.EXE, INSTALL.EXE, etc. It normally offers to start the logger when such programs are detected.

The add-ons are additional features that makes an uninstaller program merchantable and invaluable. These are certain applications that comes along with the software so you don’t have to get individual softwares to do certain tasks.

It’s rarely that you can find an uninstaller program with a built-in Autorun Manager, so this means that you can easily manage programs automatically running on Windows startup. Enabling or disabling certain programs is just a breeze.

Quick one click access to certain Windows Tools. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind. 

A Junk Files Cleaner is definitely a must have as this cleans up the hard drive from unnecessary files that may slow down you PC and free up disk space relatively.

A Browser Cleaner, Microsoft Office Cleaner, and a Windows Cleaner are simply an add-on worth having that comes along with a great uninstaller program.

One of the nifty features that I admire is getting an Evidence Remover along side the uninstaller I use regularly for years. Emptying the Recycle Bin doesn’t physically erase files and folders deleted because they are just left over in your hard drive. Eats up hard disk space and can easily be recovered by powerful data recovery softwares. Having this Evidence Remover deletes the data from your hard drive impossible enough to recover. I’ve tried this many times that even a hundred-dollar data recovery tool isn’t able to do its job.

One more thing is having an Unrecoverable Delete option within the program which makes deleting files securely and makes your disk space more spacious than ever. Like the former add-on, it deletes the files right from the hard disk making it unrecoverable.

So, do you want a slice of this piece of cake? You can actually get it from www.revouninstaller.com and the best part…it’s free.

How AVG Anti-Virus Software removed Conficker and saved my PC!

April 4, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More

Reading time: 4 – 6 minutes

Based on my previous post, “What is Conficker and how to avoid it from infecting your computer?”  I have mentioned that I experienced some vital signs similar Conficker or Downadup worm infection and what it can do to harm your PC and among these things are:

  • Automatic updates no longer working. (For Windows auto-updates)
  • Anti-virus software is no longer able to update itself.
  • Unable to access a variety of security sites, such as anti-virus software companies.
  • Random svchost.exe errors. (Of which I’ve seen on some folders within my PC)

Now, it has come to my knowledge after several scans and tests using AVG Anti-Virus Software and a stand-alone anti-virus scanner called “Stinger Conficker” (which was a product of McAfee and does a very slow scanning process yet wasn’t able to find detection), I came up with a conclusion that AVG Anti-Virus Software can fight Conficker worm and heal the infection easily. I’ve run the scan and left it running at the background on the system tray and when I checked the Virus scan results, I was surprised seeing that Downadup otherwise known as Conficker has in deed infected my PC!

downadup scanning ip addresses

downadup scanning ip addresses

AVG Anti-Virus removed Conficker or Downadup as scanned infection

AVG Anti-Virus removed Conficker or Downadup as scanned infection

These show that the above mentioned signs and those mentioned on the post, “What is Conficker and how to avoid it from infecting your computer?” are accurate and genuine. Software Critics commits itself to responsible and intellectual dissemination of information and are all based on real tests and user experience.

As the Admin of Software Critics, I am sharing to you this information because I believe that these could help since these are all backed up with screen shots taken from actual scan results. I’m not ashamed of admitting that my PC got infected otherwise this post would not be possibly shared to increase awareness.

Forget the blogs that mentions “these-and-that” kind of tutorials and say at the end, “do it at your own risk!” I’m a risk taker but I’d rather take the risk first than having the readers take the risk themselves because that is not taking responsibility of the information you are providing.

To strengthen the points of this post, I’ve made a video to show you exactly where the screen shots are taken from. All the information are laid down in simple ways and there’s no registry editing nor any tweaking is necessary. I don’t want complicated procedures as much as you do.

AVG Anti-Virus Software Free Edition is what I’ve used and it worked. Even if AVG Technologies would be able to read this post, how likely do you think they would give a paid license?

Download Unlimited Free Music from Social Music Sites

March 18, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

Reading time: 3 – 4 minutes

If you’re a certified music lover, you must have probably been a member of a social music service like Imeem™, Last.fm™, Pandora™, MySpace, eSnips™, Mog™, iJigg™ and Radio.blog.club™ just to mention a few widely known social music services.

The fact that these social music sites focus more on music as its media in connecting to a worldwide audience, have you ever thought of grabbing other members musical collection to listen to it offline via your favorite gadget like iPod or MP4 without having to pay anything?

If you haven’t, then, this post is something to look forward to. As social media continues to become a mainstream in today’s ever changing world wide web, the power of social interaction and its dynamism creates trends that drive people towards it. In line with this, music has always been a truly moving force behind it. Now, what do you think will you do if you can grab your favorite music online using a software and basically don’t need to pay anything. Isn’t that great?

With the use of Free Muzic Zilla, anybody can grab and download their favorite songs from their most loved social music sites. Free Music Zilla is a freeware that can download streams of music in flash video file format(otherwise known as .flv) without limit, supports the most widely known browsers, doesn’t have adware or spyware and is absolutely free.

In order for you to download any streaming music, you have to open the program first before you press to play the music or playlist at the background. The downloaded music file is then saved to your desired location of choice. In order for you to play the downloaded file, a file converter is needed to make it playable on your mp3, iPod or mp4. However, you may also wish to just leave it as an FLV file provided you have an FLV player.

Responsibility and legality have always been the main concern regarding these kinds of tips. Here in Software Critics, we always remain on the side of what is just and legal as we do not encourage, as much as we condemn, nor we tolerate violation of any license agreements or copyright infringements.

Everyone should understand that the purpose of this is just to provide information. As this information is somehow can be found and is never new on the web, any person who plans of making money out of these or any similar activities must consult or ask for permission from the copyright owners for business related activities.

Having the freedom to free information is not wrong but due responsibility and compliance with the law must be always kept in mind.

Anyone can use this software for its purpose but again, use it for your
own personal entertainment and at your own risk. And anything that goes beyond this scope especially dealing with monetizing or selling copyrighted materials without the necessary permit, license or even piracy is deemed illegal.

So, if you wanted to enjoy your freedom and access to free information, do it
legally. In relation to this how-to post, we have created a video that will show you how exactly downloading streaming audio can be done using Free Music Zilla.

4 brilliant ways to know when buying a software

January 4, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

Reading time: 4 – 6 minutes

Have you ever been caught undecided which software to buy? Do you always find yourself confused with so many software available in the market that you ended up purchasing a second class product? Or you just simply buy it because you have no choice?

Well, if you ever said yes to any of these questions then you probably need to have closer look at this guide designed to help you make the most of your resources, time and effort in making a decision to buy a software that would suit your needs.

  • Availability. It is necessary that we know where and how we can obtain a software in the market before we even buy them. Seek the information through Google, Yahoo or through other search engines or you may also try looking at it from PC magazines, or online stores. It’s also possible to check at your nearest local PC store to help you with your search. There are just so many means do it.
  • Price. Probably one of the things that cannot be ignored is the price. Software varies in prices. They may be sold online or in store but sometimes the difference in pricing makes it easier for a consumer to decide which one to pick especially if it’s exactly the same product. However, pricing should always go with quality. And why not take the more affordable one if it can do the job for you with the same or with even better results. What’s important is making the most of our resources especially during this time of crises. Spending our money on good buys is a “must have” thought.
  • Functionality. It is not to underestimate this concept because this is the primary reason why we are buying a software. Something that would suit our needs and can do what it is supposed to do. We won’t buy a registry cleaner if it can’t fix or clean the hard drive registry. Certainly, we either won’t buy an anti-virus software if it can’t protect our PC from threats of these kind. Functionality tackles the capability of a certain software to do the task it was designed for. Just a heads up, it is better to consult an expert or an end-user before even buying or installing a software in your PC. This helps because from these persons who had experience using these products would give us the hint as to whether or not to buy a certain item or software. Why not consult Freestuffz fanatico? We’re sure we can help in the best way we can.
  • User-friendly interface. Basically one of the most important part to take into consideration when buying a software is its user-friendly interface. Why user-friendly? It has to be easy to manipulate or use. We don’t need too much features that it can complicate our lives. It’s already a complicated world so let us not make it difficult for ourselves. has a lot of features (which normally adds up to the cost) but you simply couldn’t use. Agree? An easy to use software, just like a regular appliance, is more likely to be purchased than something which has a lot of features (which normally adds up to the cost) but you simply couldn’t use. Agree?

Buying a software is really tricky. Nowadays, there are various sources that we can look at. The presence of freeware, free software, and shareware in the market makes it easier for us to evaluate which one to pick. It is a must that we try these trial versions before we even decide on purchasing a certain software.

However, we must be vigilant since the presence of some marketing tactics cannot be denied. There are some trial versions that you can not even use and sometimes give you a half-baked performance because some of them does not provide full functionality of the software which eventually can caught you off guarded. If these schemes of providing limited feature on a trial version is experienced, then, think again.

Genuine companies with good intention would always allow you to use their product with full potential and is not afraid to have their integrity be put to test.

What you don’t know about freeware and free software

December 28, 2008 | By | 1 Reply More

Reading time: 3 – 5 minutes

Have you ever downloaded any software from the internet that cost you nothing? If you answered yes to this question, then you might have probably downloaded either a freeware or a free software but how will you know?

A software that is declared “free to use” may have full functional capabilities while some other software can likewise be used and modified.

The term freeware refers to a computer software that is available for an unlimited time of use at no cost or for an optional fee. Example of which are those software available online for free downloading but the publisher or developer may be able to accept donations (donationware) voluntarily from the user or downloader in place of a newsletter, alerts on software update, or in support to the product itself which is contrary to shareware (a software-type that is of limited use for trial versions and normally requires a license to be fully functional in exchange of a one-time fee or subscription).

Freeware allows authors to contribute something to the society, retains the code source and track the software’s future development potential.

An important distinction should be made, depending on how the software is used and on vendor policies. Usage of the software for commercial use, personal, and educational is to be considered. Personal use refers to product usage that is non-income generating, commercial use is likewise the opposite while a special case called educational use refers to the ways the software is utilized in the academe.

In some cases, software vendors give discounts for educational use to generate revenue for the software’s distributor and at times consider education use being commercial. This is because most software vendors make an application freeware for personal use and at the same time require a fee to be paid for commercial use. That is why some freeware may contain adware, also known as adware supported freeware programs or advertising-supported software.

A free software, otherwise known as software libre, refer to software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with minimal restrictions only to ensure that further recipients can also do these things and to prevent consumer-facing hardware manufacturers from preventing user modifications.

In order to distribute a software as free software, the human-readable form of the program (the source code) must be made available to the recipient along with a notice granting the free software permissions. This notice is a “free software license“, or a notice saying that the source code is released into the public domain.

Therefore, a free software may be used at no cost for both personal and commercial purposes. However, if a person or company creates a derived software product by modifying the original source code and wishes to distribute the result, it must be done under the same free software terms, including the source code modifications.

Having stated all of these, you definitely know the difference between a freeware and a free software. So the next time you do your search for a free software download on the internet, you know exactly what you’re looking for.

Based on current trends, a freeware with full functionality is a rare—find. Some features are not available or is missing on the freeware version advising a user to purchase a licensed commercial version of the freeware.

Some freeware can be potentially harmful to your computer so be careful in choosing the freeware you want to download. While a free software is free, it’s always hard to find. But there’s always a reward for those who value patience.

Cloning: The PC Way

December 16, 2008 | By | Reply More

Reading time: 5 – 8 minutes

Cloning, in plain terms, is the creation of an identical entity. Various field of studies are attributed to this term mostly biological in nature. In the past, controversies regarding its application in humans made a head turn making this term widely known.

Through the years, this term never cease its popularity, until computer experts started to use this terminology describing specific computer software and applications.

In particular, a Virtual Clone Drive, was born bringing new leaps in the computing world.

For the PC expert, a Virtual CloneDrive is a disk image emulator. It is specially designed to mount images created by disk image emulator software, although it can mount many other disk image formats as well.

It emulates your computer’s CD/DVD-ROM drive allowing you to run CD/DVD applications from the hard disk without the need for physical CD/DVD drives or the actual CD/DVD media.

In plain terms, it can play your favorite CD/DVD movie without CD/DVD drivers built into your computer and you can play games and run CD/DVD applications without the need of mounting physical discs at a faster speed.

Virtual Clone Drive convert your CDs and unprotected DVDs into “virtual CDs” — disc images that run directly on your hard drive, replacing physical discs and saving wear and tear on your CD-ROM drive. Along with this, sharing virtual CDs over a network is possible, and access rates are multiple times faster than physical CDs, boosting the performance of PC games, photo CDs, and disc-based applications.

A Virtual Clone Drive is the emulated drive derivative or simply the copycat drive. Normally, a virtual drive is created whenever a drive is emulated in some fashion. The drive being emulated could be a hard drive, floppy drive, CD/DVD or a network share among others. A virtual hard drive can be created from RAM for fast read/write access.

see fig. below:


[fig. shows DVD-RAM Drive (D:) and DVD-Drive (E:)]Here, DVD-Drive (E:) serves as a virtual DVD Drive since before I even installed a Virtual Clone Drive Software, it used to have only the (D:), I have a DVD Rewriter installed but had not installed its DVD driver disc in order to play a DVD movie not until I used a Virtual Clone Drive Software.]

Notice that whenever you click DVD-Drive (E:), in case you have one, it asks for the DVD to be mounted on the tray.

Virtual DVDs are often mounted as disk images via disk image emulator software. This allows the content of a CD or DVD to be read from the disk image on a hard drive, rather than a disc drive. This may also allow users to run software that requires a CD or a DVD, without the need of having a registered copy in the disc drive.

Virtual hard disks are most commonly used in on the fly disk encryption OTFE software such as FreeOTFE and BestCrypt, where an encrypted “image” of a disk is stored on the PC. When you enter the disks password, the disk image is “mounted”, and made available as a new drive letter on your PC. Files written to this virtual drive are written to the encrypted image, and never stored in clear text.

The process of making such an encrypted disk available for use is called mounting, the process of removing it is called dismounting.

Network shares mounted as local drives:

  • FTP and SFTP can be also mapped as a virtual drive with a software called ‘netdrive’ or ‘sftpdrive’.
  • VMware emulated PCs use unencrypted disk images which may be mounted on a PC outside VMware as an emulated disk.
  • Webdav – which does not exactly act like a physical disk.

As mentioned above, a disk image emulator is computer software designed to mount a disk image, usually of a CD or DVD, from a local hard drive or USB flash drive. The mounting is usually done by creating a virtual drive on the system, that to the operating system looks like an ordinary disk drive, in other words disc reading hardware is substituted with disc images.

Some OS have this functionality while others such as Microsoft Windows require additional software.

Uses of a Disk Image Emulator includes:

  • Enables users to avoid constantly switching out discs.
  • Helps prevent scratching, which can cause permanent damage to a disc.
  • Speeds up access times as hard drives are faster than optical drives
  • Provides a backup copy of a disc, in case the original becomes damaged, lost, or stolen.
  • Enables users to carry large disc libraries without the physical burden of the discs.
  • Emulates multiple disks, which is useful for installing or using software that shipped on multiple disks.
  • Can make a disc accessible to users on a network, which is very practical when it is impossible to distribute the discs to all of the users on a network.
  • Allows programs that can normally only work with optical discs (like some DVD-Video applications) to access data on a hard drive. For often-used CD and DVD discs, where simply copying the disc to a hard drive won’t work.
  • A CD/DVD master used to burn physical discs.
  • Make disc accessible to machines without disc drive.
  • Save power by turning off disc drive, for instance on laptops span.
  • Makes the computer quieter, many removable disc drives are noisier than hard disks.

Security disk images can be encrypted, and decrypted only when accessed
Some emulator software, such as FreeOTFE and Sentry 2020 are designed to emulate a hard drive, and encrypt the disk image stored. This provides an easy to use, and secure, means of encrypting files in bulk by simply storing files on the virtual drive which is created when the disk image is mounted.
This form of disk emulation is often referred to as “OTFE” (on-the-fly encryption). After the spread of broadband, CD and DVD disk images became a common medium for Linux distributions. Online data and bootable recovery CD images are provided for customers of certain commercial software companies.

“Having installed a Virtual Clone Drive Software on my PC helped primarily in saving hard disk space, but most of all, the functionality of this software makes it easier to play CD/DVD without the need of installing the DVD driver CD since it is already taken care of by the disk image emulator. Truly, this software is definitely worth having!”

PDF Reader Smaller Than Adobe?

December 12, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More

Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes

Software users nowadays are looking for smaller pieces of applications that has the same functionality as its counterparts that are bigger in sizes.

For certain documents extensions such as .pdf, it is widely known that in the past, you’ve had to download a huge PDF reader from another software company, go through a lengthy installation process and wait for an annoying splash window to disappear just to open a PDF document.

Moreover, if you want to annotate a PDF document, you have to pay a large amount to buy certain software.

End-users then has to undownload with no choice but to allocate high HDD memory just install one piece of software.

Today, a certain PDF document viewer has been released. Some may not have known that this tiny piece of software can view PDF files breezingly fast with rich feature set and supports most Windows versions. Its core function is compatible with PDF Standard 1.7.

Now you don’t have to endure such pain any more. The following is a list of compelling advantages of this tiny piece of software I came to know as Foxit Reader.

Incredibly small: The download size of Foxit Reader is just a fraction of Acrobat Reader 20 M size.

Breezing-fast: When you run Foxit Reader, it launches instantly without any delay. You are not forced to view an annoying splash window displaying company logo, author names, etc.

Annotation tool: Have you ever wished to annotate (or comment on) a PDF document when you are reading it? Foxit Reader allows you to draw graphics, highlight text, type text and make notes on a PDF document and then print out or save the annotated document.

Text converter: You may convert the whole PDF document into a simple text file.

High security and privacy: Foxit Reader highly respects the security and privacy of users and will never connect to the Internet without users’ permission. While other PDF readers often silently connect to the Internet in the background. Foxit PDF Reader does not contain any spyware.

Foxit Reader itself is free. You can use the following functions for free:
View or print PDF document, add or edit bookmarks in a PDF file if the security settings allow basic PDF form operations i.e. filling out PDF forms and printing them out. Advanced PDF form operations, such as saving filled-out forms and import/export forms, free for personal and non-personal usage. View PDF as text, add-ons such as UI language package, JPEG2000/JBIG decoder, CJK package, GDI+ for early Windows version, plus some advanced add-ons can be added for reasonable cost.

Software review:

“I personally use this software and have not encountered any setbacks so far. Very efficient, lightweight and functional. I highly recommend this wonderful piece of software to all end-users.”

Kudos to the software developers in sharing this functional PDF reader.

For further details regarding this amazing software, visit their website through this link: http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php