Monthly Archives: February 2010

Watch Videos and Internet TV in HD Full Screen with Miro HD Video Player

There’s been lots of talk in the Blogosphere lately, on getting rid of expensive Cable TV, where prices seem to be skyrocketing, and focusing instead on the multiple alternatives which the Internet now provides.

From a personal perspective, I’m a long way from getting rid of Cable TV. But that’s more an issue surrounding the medieval government broadcast regulations consumers are forced to deal with here in Canada, which allow Geo-blocking technologies that prevent Canadians from accessing television programming on U.S. websites, than any commitment I have to the boob tube, which I rarely watch.

I suspect in many other countries, consumers would be taking to the streets demanding access to the increasing number of broadcast options available online. The Canadian government needs to get its head around a concept called, “freedom of choice”. OK, I’ll stop ranting now!

For those of you who don’t face this restriction, Miro (last updated December 05, 2009), is a free (open source), internet TV platform and video player that can play virtually any video including, QuickTime, WMV, MPEG, AVI, and XVID. After iTunes, Miro is the second most popular video RSS player in the world.

The real strength of this application lies in the ability you now have, with Miro installed, to subscribe to any video RSS feed, pod cast, or Video Site/Blog such as YouTube, Google Video, and Yahoo Video, through channels.

When a channel is created in Miro, the program checks for updates periodically and will retrieve content for you through a HTTP download, or the included BitTorrent client.

You could, for example, subscribe to Comodo’s Internet video series, Really Simple Security, published on a dedicated YouTube channel, and with Miro’s automatic update function always be in the loop for new content.

Given that your computer screen is, in reality, a high-definition display, you can watch these videos in HD full screen. Pretty neat – especially if you have a wide screen LCD display.

To make it easier for you to find content for viewing, the included channel guide service is comprised of more than 1,800+ channels which are searchable by category, keyword, popularity, or language.

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Fast facts:

Built-in Channel Guide – explore hundreds of free Internet television channels.

Bit torrent download

Manageable Hard Drive folders

Resume playback

Channel surfing

Organizing video feeds by topic

Video sharing and hosting

Creating videos

This program continues to receive high praise from video geeks, and it’s worth adding to your entertainment applications.

Note: There is a learning curve associated with using Miro, but the developers video tutorial, takes the hassle out of it.

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System requirements: Windows 7, Windows Me, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows NT, Windows XP (I’m not aware of any x64 support) – Mac, Linux.

Download at: Miro

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Filed under downloads, Freeware, High Definition Video Players, Interconnectivity, Internet TV, Media Player Replacement, Multimedia Tools, Software, Video, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free License – O&O DriveLED 3 Hard Drive Monitor

Regular reader Kingpin, pointed out this morning that O&O Software is offering a free license (regularly $29.99), for their Hard Drive monitoring application, DriveLED 3.

As we’ve pointed out here in the past, in articles such as “Check, Maintain, and Clean Your Hard Drive With Free Tools”, there’s no question that Hard Drives fail – I’ve had to deal with three failures, personally, in the past two years.

All modern Hard Drives are equipped with a feature known as S.M.A.R.T. that provides real-time analysis and the reporting of any developing problems and potential issues. The big question is: can you read the warnings?

An application like DriveLED 3 can take the guesswork out of the equation, and make it easier for you to diagnose what’s really happening inside the complex environment of your Hard Drive.

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Since this offer is available only through the developer’s site, I have no way of knowing how long this offer will last. If you’re interested in this application, now is the time to download.

From the developer’s site:

Although O&O DriveLED won’t let you avoid a system crash entirely, it can let you know early enough whenever there’s trouble on the horizon. O&O DriveLED 3 is a reliable partner that accurately tells you when it is time to backup your important data with O&O DiskImage, or even to replace the hard disk.

Quietly running in the background, the new O&O DriveLED 3 permanently monitors the status of your hard disks With the help of S.M.A.R.T. (Self Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology), O&O DriveLED 3 analyses the health state of your hard disks and warns you in the event of potential malfunctions.

Immediately after installation O&O DriveLED 3 provides you with the ability to make an intensive analysis of all of your hard disks. Every hard disk that supports S.M.A.R.T. is able to run self tests.

Using O&O DriveLED 3 you can start a self-test of your hard disk with only one click of your mouse. During the tests several parameters and functions are systematically checked, including the interface, the surface and the mechanics, including every read head. In addition, the error log will be analyzed and the S.M.A.R.T. system itself will be tested.

If there were no failures found, the corresponding indicator will be lit up green. If some failures occurred, O&O DriveLED 3 will notify you. In this case, it is recommended to backup your data.

While O&O DriveLED 3 makes it possible for you to see your hard drive‘s built-in LEDs on your computer screen, this is just the beginning. In addition, you now have the possibility of monitoring all of your virtual drives, such as network drives, being able to clearly distinguish between read-access and write-access.

Note: Registration is required.

System requirements: Windows 2K,  XP, 2003, Vista, XP, 2008, Win 7 (64 bit support on Vista and Win 7)

Download at: O&O Software

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Filed under Diagnostic Software, downloads, Free Full Versions, Hard Drive Problems, Hard Drive Tools, Software, Software Giveaways, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 28, 2010

Top 10 Windows 7 Booster Apps – Windows 7 is a big improvement over Vista, and a pretty convenient OS in general – but it’s by no means perfect. These 10 downloads improve Windows 7’s looks, functions, and make it easier, safer, and more convenient to upgrade to.

Top 10 Downloads for a Road Warrior Laptop – If you take your laptop to destinations beyond your couch, you expose it to intermittent connectivity, greater risk of theft, always-depleting batteries, and many other variables. Prepare your laptop for productivity on the go with these apps and utilities.

No Lie! Your Facebook Profile Is the Real You – The internet is notorious for its digital dens of deception. But on Facebook, what you see tends to be what you get — at least in one study of tailless, two-legged young adults.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Graphics Card Prices Could Rise by 10% Due to Shortage – Shortages obviously feed on the demand to raise prices and as we saw for the first two months of the 5000-series availability, prices were higher than the estimated pricing originally fed from AMD’s marketing team.

Sunday Last Day for Windows 7 RC, But Upgrading Is Easy – This Sunday is the last day users still running Windows 7 RC will be able to go about their everyday computing before Windows starts with the nagging and auto-rebooting. The annoying part is less that the Windows 7 RC period is ending (it was a great run!), but more that there’s no upgrade path for going from Windows 7 RC to Windows 7 proper. Luckily we’ve already highlighted a simple step-by-step method that will allow you to upgrade from Windows 7 RC to the official Windows 7 release with minimal complications—so if you haven’t upgraded already, this weekend is the time to do it.

What I learned about you through 4 redesigns – I have been blogging on Quick Sprout for around 3 years now and the blog has been through 4 different designs. At first I redesigned the blog to have a better aesthetic look, but then I started to redesign it based on user feedback. Over the course of 4 different designs, here are some things that I learned.

School administrator boasts to PBS about his laptop spying – A few weeks ago, Frontline premiered a documentary called “Digital Nation”. In one segment, the vice-principle of Intermediate School 339, Bronx, NY, Dan Ackerman, demonstrates how he “remotely monitors” the students’ laptops for “inappropriate use”. He says “They don’t even realize we are watching,” “I always like to mess with them and take a picture,” and “9 times out of 10, THEY DUCK OUT OF THE WAY.”

Off Topic:

Liberalism, atheism, male sexual exclusivity linked to IQ – Political, religious and sexual behaviors may be reflections of intelligence, a new study finds.

A Tipping Point For Homeopathy? – A landmark paper on homeopathy and cancer has appeared in the February 2010 issue of the International Journal of Oncology. (submitted by Dar).

‘Bye’ to Braille, ‘Hi’ to a postliterate generation: Listening to Braille – Each morning, Laura J. Sloate begins her daily reading. She calls a phone service that reads newspapers aloud in a synthetic voice, and she listens to The Wall Street Journal at 300 words a minute, which is nearly twice the average pace of speech. (submitted by Dar).

Pentagon OKs social media access – The Defense Department has made its peace with social media. Long skittish about forums such as Facebook and Twitter, the U.S. Department of Defense says that it is now OK with social networking services and other interactive Web 2.0 applications.

Toyota’s enablers: An underfunded, lax NHTSA and a climate of deregulation helped the automaker avoid scrutiny (By Ralph Nader) – As the fatality and injury toll climbs — and Toyota sales plummet — it’s time to ask why the sleepy Washington safety sentinels at the Department of Transportation aren’t doing the job the people expect of them. (submitted by Dar)

Today’s Quote:

“One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us”.

-    Kurt Vonnegut

Today’s Free Downloads:

Skype - Skype is software that enables you to make free calls anywhere in the world. Skype uses P2P (peer-to-peer) technology to connect you with other users. It offers several features, including SkypeOut calling from Skype to regular and mobile phones worldwide, conference calling, and secure file transferring. You can also now share your screen with other users. Skype calls focus on video and audio quality, and secure the calls with end-to-end encryption.

WinStart Manager – WinStart Manager provides a helpful organizer designed to improve a computer’s start-up time. With a clean layout, simple commands, and useful results, this program is a real winner.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Free – One Year License for Trend Micro Internet Security 2010

image Regular reader John M. W, (thank you John), has brought to my attention that Trend Micro is offering a one year license for their Trend Micro Internet Security Suite. I haven’t personally tested this application, but CNET rates it 4.5 Stars out of a possible 5. My experience has been that CNET reviews can generally be relied on.

Since this offer is available only through the developer’s site, I have no way of knowing how long this offer will last. If you’re interested in this application, now is the time to download.

Fast facts:

From the developer’s site.

Protects against current and future viruses
An award-winning anti-virus engine protects against computer viruses, worms, Trojan horse programs, and related security threats. Automatic updates immunize you against new computer virus outbreaks for the full duration of your subscription.

Defends your personal information with anti-spyware technology
Powerful anti-spyware technology guards your personal information and privacy against spyware, rootkits, and other malicious software.

Safeguards against attacks with a personal firewall
Prevent your computer from exchanging data without your approval and defend against attacks from the Internet.

Prevents unauthorized changes
Improved security policies find and stop unwanted attempts to change your operating system and critical software.

Offers customizable security warnings
Decide how often you want to receive warnings about security threats.

Safeguards multiple computers
Install Trend Micro Internet Security on up to three PCs per household.

Surf the Web Safely

Protects against web threats
Steer clear of online phishing scams that try to steal your credit card or bank account numbers. Continuous updates identify the newest risky websites.

Secure Web surfing
Block malicious or untrustworthy hyperlinks in email, websites, or instant messages.

Blocks image spam
Stop seeing spam that tries to evade filters by delivering images instead of just text.

Device Access Control
Automatically prevent suspicious software on USB devices from opening.

Protect Your Children Online

Enhanced Parental Controls
Take charge of when and where your children go on the Internet. Block websites with inappropriate content, prevent access at specific times, and even stop kids from entering personal information onto webpages.

Smart Features for Your Online Activities

Home Network Map
See the computers and other devices connected to your network at a glance, manage the security of other computers remotely, and block wireless home network intruders from accessing yours.

Security Activity Dashboard
Get a comprehensive and customizable snapshot of all the security activities on your computer through easy-to-use charts and graphs.

State Aware
Work on your presentations, watch movies, or play games without security updates or scans getting in the way.

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System requirements : Windows 7 /Windows Vista (all versions), Windows XP (32-bit version (SP2 or SP3) only).

Download at: Trend Micro

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Firewalls, Free Full Versions, Software, Software Giveaways, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Need a Portable Application? – Take Your Pick

I’m old enough to still be amazed by technological advances – I’m like a small child when it comes to this. I doubt if I’ll ever lose this “starry eyed” view of technology. I certainly hope not.

I often think back to my first Hard Drive; which cost me $800 – 10 Megabytes with a seek time of 96 seconds. Yep, 10 Megabytes, not 10 Gigabytes. Today, a huge HD (two Terabytes), might set you back $150.

The USB Flash Drive has seen the same progression – massive increases in storage capabilities, coupled with giveaway prices. Not so long ago, my first flash drive ( 128 MB), cost me $50. Today, it’s easy to find a 4 GB flash drive for $5. I find that amazing!

The low cost of a flash drive gives us opportunities, in computing, that would have seemed like science fiction not long ago. Portable Apps Suite is a perfect example of these new opportunities.

With Portable Apps Suite, (free to use, free to copy, and free to share), you can carry your favorite portable computer programs with you on your USB flash drive, iPod, or portable hard drive, to school, work, or your hotel while you’re taking that much deserved vacation!

Portable Apps Suite allows you to play your media files, browse the net, compose documents, or check your email on the road. The applications can be used on any Windows computer, and on shut down, to insure your privacy, will not leave any traces on the host computer.

PAS is a collection of portable applications which includes, ClamWin Portable (antivirus), Mozilla Firefox Portable Edition (web browser), Gaim Portable (instant messaging), OpenOffice.org Portable (office suite) compatible with Microsoft Word files,

Sudoku Portable (puzzle game), Mozilla Sunbird Portable Edition (calendar/task manager) and Mozilla Thunderbird Portable Edition (email client), all preconfigured to work portably.

portable-apps

You can install any of three variations of Portable Apps Suite based on your preferences, or your USB drive’s capacity.

Standard Suite – All applications as noted above

Lite Suite – AbiWord Portable substituted for Open Office

Base Suite – Basic Menu Program – add only the applications you choose

All versions of the Portable Apps Suite include the integrated Portable Apps Menu and the Portable Apps Backup utility, along with a set of custom icons, auto play configuration, folders, and a quick start shortcut.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Wine under Linux/UNIX/BSD/Mac OS X

Download at: PortableApps.com


Additional free portable applications, at PortableApps.com.

clip_image001Accessibility

clip_image005Development

clip_image012Education

clip_image016Games

clip_image030Graphics & Pictures

clip_image038Internet

clip_image055Music & Video

clip_image064Office

clip_image075Operating Systems

clip_image077Utilities

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Filed under downloads, flash drive, Free Office Suites, Free Word Processors, Freeware, Open Source, Portable Applications, Productivity Software, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 27, 2010

Twitter Phishing Scam: Blame Browsers and Users – Is your browser doing its job identifying malware? And are you?

Security and the City – ComodoTV’s clever parody of Sex and the City, with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda discussing what women really want and how to get it.

Download Over 5000 National Geographic Wallpapers with One Click – NatGeo Wallpaper Downloader is a FREE and PORTABLE app that will automatically download (in a batch) images that have been featured in the magazine and on the website of National Geographic.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Master Multiple Firefox Profiles for More Productive Browsing – One of the most powerful features in Firefox is also one too few people know about: the ability to create and use more than one profile at the same time. Here’s how to streamline and reap the benefits of multiple browsing profiles.

Windows 7 memory usage: What’s the best way to measure? – Windows memory management is rocket science. And don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

Work Smart: Stop Multitasking and Start Doing One Thing Really Well – A human’s ability to do several things at once is a wonder of biology: it means we can eat a burrito while we walk down the street and listen to music and daydream about the weekend all at the same time. But some kinds of multitasking costs you more time than you save.

Slashdot Adds Ads to its RSS – Imagine our surprise today when, while checking out Slashdot’s RSS feeds (or, as those in the biz like to call it, /. ) we noted a full-colour advertisement exhorting us to check our credit score, and another for Tek Systems. (submitted by Dar).

How to Buy a Bluetooth Headset – Isn’t it time you went hands-free with a Bluetooth headset? Here’s what you need to look for when choosing the perfect companion for your mobile phone.

Off Topic:

The Wonder Drug Myth – Many of the stories we expect from drugs are partly fictions, hiding in a gauze of ambiguous results, placebo effects, and messy side effects. (submitted by Dar).

Four ways the recent recession made consumers savvier – By all accounts, the economic crisis of 2008-2009 sent consumers scurrying for cover, victims of falling home values, tight credit, and generally fearful conditions. Right?

Alice In Wonderland Madness! – OK!!!! So, after having it brought to my attention how many sites have stolen my photo of Lake’s Alice In Wonderland tattoo, I decided it was time for me to post something on my own blog about it! (submitted by Dar).

Hawks in the city: Webcam tracks an urban bird family – Why all the commotion? The birds’ time in the City of Brotherly Love was not without drama. One young bird, apparently not yet ready to fly, flew out of the nest and was unable to return. As the city watched, the bird was rescued and rehabilitated.

Today’s Quote:

“Class” is not determined by how we treat our friends, and those in power … it is determined by how we treat the people who have no consequence in our lives”.

-     Anonymous

Today’s Free Downloads:

USB Drive Guard – USB Drive Guard is an application that runs silently on any Windows PC and, when someone inserts any type of storage device, it will check its unique serial number against a network database to see if it has been authorized.

Tizer Rootkit Razor – Tizer Rootkit Razor is a powerful tool that will allow you to remove malicious objects from your computer.

MSD Organizer Portable Freeware – MSD Organizer Portable is a personal and professional information manager to be installed in pen drives, with the following modules: calendar, contacts, alarms, tasks, cards, diary, property, budget, health and music.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary – Helps You Say What You Mean

It would be hard to argue, that a picture is not worth a thousand words. On the other hand, there are times when the appropriate word will convey the intended message far better than a picture. I can think of a few words that have the power to do just that, and I’m sure you can as well. Even words that mean the same thing, can covey very different messages.

If  you’re a writer, a student, or you just want to find the right word to get the right message across, then the free WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows application will be invaluable.

WordWeb is a one-click English Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows that can be used to instantly find definitions, synonyms, and pronunciations for words in virtually any Windows program.

It works off-line, but it can connect to the Internet enabling you to look up words in any web reference encyclopedia. The data base in WordWeb includes over 150,000 root words and 120,000 synonym sets.

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Features of the free version include:

Definitions and synonyms

Proper nouns

Related words

Pronunciations

150,000 root words

120,000 synonym sets

Look up words in almost any program

There are tools within the program for changing the database to one of nine different variations of English: British, Irish, American, Canadian, Australian, Indian, and global English.

I have used this neat little application for many years, and I find it invaluable. If you’re serious about improving your communication skills, installing this free application will be a positive step in that direction.

I was quite surprised to see that this small application averages over 33,000 weekly downloads at Download.com. It looks as if proper word usage might be coming back into style after all. Now that would be a pleasant and positive step.

Note: The author is a concerned environmentalist, so this free version of WordWeb comes with some very interesting ecological restrictions; read the license agreement for details.

System requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7

Download at: Download.com

Alternatively you may go to WordWeb’s online international dictionary and word finder, which can handle more than 300 000 possible lookup words, and phrases.

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Filed under dictionary, downloads, Freeware, Productivity Software, Software, Student Help, thesaurus, Utilities, Writing Aids