Category Archives: Audio Applications

The Best Sites for Internet Radio

Radio – it’s not what it used to be. Guest writer, Jason Miner takes us on a tour of  Radio land and, I must admit – I was surprised by the volume of available choices. You might be as well.

__________________________________________________________

imageAs technologies for Internet bandwidth have allowed for improved streaming, many office personnel and home users are finding their favorite music in the form of Internet radio stations. While streaming music has been around for quite some time, the increased bandwidth supplied by the Internet has provided the means to stream higher quality music as opposed to the lower-quality WAV formats of yesterday.

Finding the best Internet radio site is completely up to the user. Although one person may find Pandora to be the ultimate site, others may have an affinity for Yahoo Music. Regardless of your preferred musical genre, there are sites-a-plenty for your entertainment needs.

1. Pandora – One of the most popular Internet radio stations online, Pandora is full of a great deal of music for all fans. Listening to streaming music is as easy as entering what you want to hear from the main page. Complete with artist and title, Pandora offers links to sites like iTunes and Amazon in order to buy your favorite music.

2. Shoutcast – Developed with Winamp in mind, Shoutcast can deliver a wide range of music for the popular MP3 player or straight from your web-browser. Radio stations can be viewed according to the most popular based on how many listeners are using it at that moment in time. Shoutcast also works for the Android version of Winamp.

3. Jango – Nearly as easy to use as Pandora, Jango is loaded with various genres of music. This site is free to sign up with and can base your login off of your Facebook profile. Music is available to purchase from the links to iTunes and Amazon.

4. Slacker – Although Slacker.com is more commercialized with image and banner advertisements than some of the others, the website does have a large selection of music for instant streaming. By signing up with Slacker.com for a low monthly fee, you are able to listen to exact tracks from a variety of soundtracks. However, the site is completely usable with a wide range of music for free.

5. Yahoo Music – Find radio stations all over the country in Yahoo Music. Many radio stations will have online broadcasts of the local content. Although not every radio station in the United States is present in Yahoo Music, a large variety of local stations are. Listen to radio stations from your home town, if it’s available on Yahoo.

6. Radio Tower – Like Yahoo Music, Radio Tower has a very large listing of various live online radio stations to choose from. While the site itself is extremely busy with banners and advertisements, you can find radio stations from all over the world and listen to music in your native tongue.

7. Local Stations – A great deal of local radio stations have online counterparts now-days. Whether the radio station advertises this or not, a search in your favorite engine can yield results relating to music from your local stations. You’d be surprised by how many local radio stations broadcast the content live on the website.

Internet radio can supply you with virtual on-demand music of your favorite bands, genres, or time periods. Some may discourage online entertainment of this nature for it takes away from the local radio stations in one’s area. However, many of these local radio stations have online broadcasting methods to ensure that their computer-based fans can still be within reach.

The Internet is shaping the way the future is looked at by the entertainment industries. We should embrace innovation and look forward to what can be developed next.

Author Bio:

Jason Miner, an expert freelance writer loves writing articles on different categories. He is approaching different bloggers to recognize each other’s efforts through “www.blogcarnival.com”. He can be contacted through e-mail at jasonminer8atgmaildotcom.

8 Comments

Filed under Audio Applications, Freeware, Guest Writers, Internet Radio

Get Ready For School With These 35 Free Computer Apps

Heading back to school? Make your life easier and checkout these free PC applications.

image

Take a look at the following recommended free downloads that will help you communicate, get those assignments done, have some fun, and manage and protect your system while you’re surfing the Internet.

These applications have riding out the storm of new competitors, and have developed a strong, loyal following, based on their reliability and functionality.

Process those words:

Nitro PDF:

With its ability to not only view and review PDF files, but create PDF files as well, it’s little wonder Nitro PDF Reader has amassed such a large following. I have to say that Nitro PDF Reader is my favorite PDF tool so, I’m more than a little enthusiastic to get on the go with this latest release.

Version 2 continues the strong tradition which Nitro has established with previous version – it’s fast, lightweight, and incorporates customizable security controls, including the option to completely disable JavaScript – no small consideration for security conscious users.

Listen N Write:

Anyone who has to transcribe recorded audio should try Listen N Write, a free tool designed specifically for transcription. Perfect for lectures.

LibreOffice:

LibreOffice is the power-packed free (open source) personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base.

AbiWord:

AbiWord is a free light weight word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks.

AbiWord allows you to collaborate with multiple people on one document at the same time. It is tightly integrated with the AbiCollab.net web service, which lets you store documents online, allows easy document sharing with your friends, and performs format conversions on the fly.

WordWeb:

WordWeb is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words in almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

Manipulate and correct your pics – put them online:

FastStone Image Viewer:

This is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use. This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.

IrfanView:

With IrfanView you can fix and enhance digital photos including resizing, cropping, correcting red eye, flipping, and rotating. As well, you can perform a wide variety of image adjustments, including brightness, contrast, and applying special effects such as sharpen and blur. I’ve been using this neat little program (every day) for years, and with each new release it just keeps getting better.

Google Picasa:

A free application that helps you locate and organize all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects with a few simple clicks, and share your photos with others through email, prints, and on the web.

Play those tunes:

Audacity:

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It’s available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Definitely the best of breed.

iTunes:

According to Apple, this is the world’s best digital music jukebox. Download music, TV shows, movies, and more.

Winamp:

A multimedia player that supports numerous audio and video formats. It also plays streamed video and audio content. Winamp is designed for people who like to customize, tinker and tweak: offering the widest range of extensions, skins, and services to add to your listening experience.

Watch your fav videos:

Miro:

Miro is a free application designed to be easy to use and to give you an elegant full screen viewing experience. Not only can Miro play virtually any video in HD, including, QuickTime, WMV, MPEG, AVI, and XVID, but on top of that this application, which sports major changes from previous editions, is effectively a media management center.

VLC:

VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.

Free Video To iPhone Converter:

Convert video files to Apple iPhone MP4 video format. Convert the whole movie or select a partition from the movie to convert (trim video).

iPod Video Converter:

Free iPod Video Converter provides an easy and completed way to convert all popular video formats to iPod video. You can enjoy DVD/VCD and AVI, MPEG, WMV, RM, RMVB, DivX, ASF, VOB video files in your iPod with few clicks.

Better browsing:

Firefox:

Firefox includes tons of useful features such as tabbed browsing, built-in and customizable search bars, a built-in RSS reader and a huge library of extensions developed by thousand of developers.

Opera:

The fastest browser on Earth – but that’s not all. Use Opera Turbo to double your page-download speed on slow connections. Download Opera now and get more from the Web.

Google Chrome:

A browser that combines a minimal design with new technology designed to improve the user experience. Includes download and documentation.

Web of Trust (WOT):

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

Cocoon for Firefox:

Protect your privacy and security online with this Firefox add-on, which has on-the-fly e-mail dropboxes and lets you watch Netflix from outside the U.S.

Protect your system:

Immunet Protect – Free Cloud Based Antivirus Application:

Immunet Protect is a lightweight cloud based, community driven, antivirus application, (available in both a free, and a paid version), designed to add a layer of protection while working in partnership with the most popular antimalware solutions.

Microsoft Security Essentials:

Microsoft Security Essentials, which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection, all under one roof, was released by Microsoft as a free  replacement application for the late, and unlamented, Windows Live OneCare.

ThreatFire:

ThreatFire blocks malware (including zero-day threats) by analyzing program behavior, instead of relying only on a signature based database. ThreatFire works together with your signature based security applications, to increase the effectiveness of your total security arsenal.

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition:

The free version of this award winning program, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers. And why not? SUPERAntiSpyware is well known for its high malware detection rate. A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes SUPERAntiSpyware straightforward to setup, customize, and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has an excellent reputation (shared by me), as a first class security application, for its ability to identify and remove adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers, and other malware threats.

PC Tools Firewall Plus 7:

I’ve been running with PC Tools Firewall since I installed Win 7 and I have been impressed with its performance. It installed easily, set up quickly, and has not caused any conflicts with my machine. The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users. Experienced users on the other hand can tinker to their hearts content, customizing and tweaking the application to meet their specific requirements.

Staying in touch:

Windows Live Essentials 2011:

Do more with Windows on your PC with free programs from Microsoft for photos, movies, instant messaging, email, social networking, and more. Get it all in one simple download.

Pidgin:

A multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once. Pidgin can work with: AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo!, MySpace IM and many more.

Trillian:

A fully featured, stand-alone, chat client that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC.

Skype:

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

System Tools:

WinPatrol:

You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

CCleaner:

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast; normally taking less than a second to run.

Autoruns:

You can configure Autoruns to show additional locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and more. Autoruns goes considerably beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows.

Glary Utilities:

Glary Utilities, a free all-in-one utility, is a terrific collection of system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC. Personal experience with this application for the last 2 years has convinced me that a typical user can really benefit by having this application on their system. With this free program you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

Revo Uninstaller:

Revo Uninstaller is a superior program to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application. After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over (those “orphaned” registry entries we talked about earlier), on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

6 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Audio Applications, Browser Plug-ins, Chrome, Computer Tools, Digital Media, downloads, Free Office Suites, Free PDF Software, Malware Protection, MS Word Alternatives, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Software, Video Apps, Windows Tips and Tools, Writing Aids

What’s INSIDE Your PC? 6 Free System Information Utilities For Non-Geeks

imageIf you think developing information on your computer’s operating system and hardware is a tough task, you can relax. Here are 6 small, free applications, that make it easy to probe your computer system and create a detailed profile which can include hardware, installed software – motherboard, CPU and GPU specs – remaining drive space, and your operating system security hotfixes.

Belarc Advisor:

Belarc Advisor is a free program that automatically generates a detailed audit report of the hardware and software on your computer. It records essential information such as, operating system and processor details, the amount of RAM installed, and drive specifications.

image

The report also includes a comprehensive list of the software installed on your system, as well as software license numbers and product keys. In addition, it lists the status of the Microsoft hotfixes on your system. If any hotfixes need reinstalling, you will be advised of this.

The results are displayed in a formatted HTML report. The report is clearly formatted for ease of understanding and divided into appropriate categories. Hyperlinks within the report allow you to quickly navigate to different parts of the document, find out more about a particular hotfix entry, or see where a listed software product is installed.

System Requirements: Windows 7, Vista, 2003, XP, 2000, NT 4, Me, 98, and 95. Both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows support.

Download at: Download.com

LookInMyPC:

LookInMyPC is a free application which, like Belarc Advisor, records essential information such as, operating system and processor details, the amount of RAM installed, drive specifications and so on. But, it digs much, much, deeper.

image

A number of features keeps this application a cut above the average:

The results are displayed in your Web Browser in a formatted HTML report. The report is clearly formatted for ease of understanding and divided into appropriate categories. Hyperlinks within the report allow you to quickly search for additional information.

As well, the report can be zipped, and then forwarded as an email attachment to your favorite “tech support” person.

The following graphic shows a very small (I do mean very small) portion of a scan result, run on my test platform. The data shown here is pretty standard stuff.

image

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, 2003/8, Vista and Windows 7.

Download at: LookInMyPC

A portable version is also available.

SIW – System Information for Windows:

SIW is an advanced System Information for Windows tool that analyzes your computer and gathers detailed information about system properties and settings and displays it in a very comprehensive manner.

image

The data generated is divided into major categories:

Software Information: Operating System, Software Licenses (Product Keys / Serial Numbers / CD Key), Installed Software and Hotfixes, Processes, Services, Users, Open Files, System Uptime, Installed Codecs, Passwords Recovery, Server Configuration.

Hardware Information: Motherboard, CPU, Sensors, BIOS, chipset, PCI/AGP, USB and ISA/PnP Devices, Memory, Video Card, Monitor, Disk Drives, CD/DVD Devices, SCSI Devices, S.M.A.R.T., Ports, Printers.

Network Information: Network Cards, Network Shares, currently active Network Connections, Open Ports.

Network Tools: MAC Address Changer, Neighborhood Scan, Ping, Trace, Statistics, Broadband Speed Test

Miscellaneous Tools: Eureka! (Reveal lost passwords hidden behind asterisks), Monitor Test, Shutdown / Restart.

Real-time monitors: CPU, Memory, Page File usage and Network Traffic.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000

Download at: Download.com

Speccy v1.12:

Speccy is not quite as comprehensive as the applications described previously. Even so, you can count on this free application to provide you with detailed statistics on every piece of hardware in your computer. Including CPU, Motherboard, RAM, Graphics Cards, Hard Disks, Optical Drives, Audio support. Additionally Speccy adds the temperatures of your different components, so you can easily see if there’s a problem.

Typical info screens.

image

image

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista and XP (32-bit and 64-bit)

Download at: Download.com

WinAudit:

I haven’t personally tested this one, but you can read a review of this free computer audit application What’s really under the hood of that computer? on fellow Blogger Rick Robinette’s site.

PC Wizard:

PC Wizard has been designed for hardware detection but, it really shines in analysis and system benchmarking. It will analyze and benchmark CPU performance, Cache performance, RAM performance, Hard Disk performance, CD/DVD-ROM performance, Removable/FLASH Media performance, Video performance, and MP3 compression performance.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP (32-bit and 64-bit)

Download at: Download.com

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

9 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Audio Applications, Computer Tools, Diagnostic Software, Freeware, Software, System Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Extract Audio From YouTube Videos With Free YouTube to MP3 Converter

There are any number of ways to extract audio from YouTube videos, but many are cumbersome and time consuming. There is a solution thought that’s neither cumbersome, or  time consuming – Free YouTube to MP3 Converter. Once the application is configured, it’s one click simple – more or less.

The interface is definitely bare bones, but self explanatory.

Getting started:

The default setup requires you to paste a YouTube URL into the application….

image

but, by selecting “auto-paste from clipboard” in the options menu, you can save yourself from this copy and paste process.

As well, I suggest that you choose the “accelerated download” method, which in testing, cut the download time by more than half. For example, I found that the average download time was reduced from approximately 2 minutes, to well under a minute.

image

Once you have pasted the YouTube URL, or it has been entered automatically, simply click “download” to start the process.

Note: You may want to specify a particular output (save) folder, rather than accept the default location – the application’s folder in My Documents.

image

By default, the output file name is the same as the YouTube video title. You do however, have an option to change this.

image

image

You should be aware that every time you close the application, you will be presented with the following invitation to install the search bar.

image

I’m certainly not an audiophile, but I found the sound quality to be quite good at the default (standard quality) setting. Optionally, you have a number of quality choices ranging from “economy” to “insane”, and beyond – WAV (lossless audio).

image

Fast facts – YouTube mp3 converter downloads mp3 from:

A single YouTube video;

Complete YouTube playlists and show lists;

All video from YouTube charts;

All video responses to a YouTube video;

All videos of a selected YouTube user or a channel;

All video from the user favorites.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: Download.com

Note: My onboard AV applications (including Microsoft Security Essentials), did not “see” the audio download as a “download”, and consequently, did not check for malware. If your AV operates similarly, then be sure to check each download manually.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

4 Comments

Filed under Audio Applications, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Software, Streaming Media Applications, Windows Tips and Tools, YouTube

Heading Back To School? Make Your Life Easier And Checkout These Free PC Applications

School is in and let’s face it, you’ll need to trim your expenses this year and software applications that cost hundreds of dollars are not going to be number one on your list of must haves. Well, they don’t really need to be.

There’s a ton of tried and tested free software out in the wild blue of the Internet, that will meet virtually every need you’re likely to have this school year.

Take a look at the following recommended free downloads that will help you communicate, get those assignments done, have some fun, and manage and protect your system while you’re surfing the Internet.

These applications have riding out the storm of new competitors, and have developed a strong, loyal following, based on their reliability and functionality.

Process those words:

OpenOffice

OpenOffice 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages including Microsoft Word.

AbiWord:

AbiWord is a free light weight word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks.

WordWeb:

WordWeb is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words in almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

Manipulate and correct your pics – put them online:

FastStone Image Viewer:

This is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use. This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.

IrfanView:

With IrfanView you can fix and enhance digital photos including resizing, cropping, correcting red eye, flipping, and rotating. As well, you can perform a wide variety of image adjustments, including brightness, contrast, and applying special effects such as sharpen and blur. I’ve been using this neat little program (every day), for years and with each new release it just keeps getting better.

Google Picasa:

A free application that helps you locate and organize all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects with a few simple clicks, and share your photos with others through email, prints, and on the web.

Play those tunes:

Audacity:

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It’s available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Definitely the best of breed.

iTunes:

According to Apple, this is the world’s best digital music jukebox. Download music, TV shows, movies, and more.

Winamp:

A multimedia player that supports numerous audio and video formats. It also plays streamed video and audio content, live and recorded, authored worldwide.

Watch your fav videos:

Miro:

Miro is a free application for channels of internet video (also known as ‘video podcasts and video rss). Miro is designed to be easy to use and to give you an elegant full screen viewing experience.

VLC:

A highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

Free FLV Converter:

This free software let you search YouTube and dailyMotion videos without opening your browser and you can even watch the videos using the built-in video player.

Free Video To iPhone Converter:

Convert video files to Apple iPhone MP4 video format. Convert the whole movie or select a partition from the movie to convert (trim video).

iPod Video Converter:

Free iPod Video Converter provides an easy and completed way to convert all popular video formats to iPod video.

Better browsing:

Firefox:

Firefox includes tons of useful features such as tabbed browsing, built-in and customizable search bars, a built-in RSS reader and a huge library of extensions developed by thousand of developers.

Opera:

The fastest browser on Earth is even faster. But that is not all. Use Opera Turbo to double your page-download speed on slow connections. Download Opera now and get more from the Web.

Web of Trust (WOT):

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

Protect your system:

Immunet Protect 2 – Free Cloud Based Antivirus Application:

Immunet Protect is a lightweight cloud based, community driven, antivirus application, (available in both a free, and a paid version), designed to add a layer of protection while working in partnership with the most popular antimalware solutions.

Microsoft Security Essentials:

Microsoft Security Essentials, which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection, all under one roof, was released by Microsoft as a free  replacement application for the late, and unlamented, Windows Live OneCare.

ThreatFire:

ThreatFire blocks malware (including zero-day threats) by analyzing program behavior, instead of relying only on a signature based database. ThreatFire works together with your signature based security applications, to increase the effectiveness of your total security arsenal.

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition

The free version of this award winning program, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers. And why not? SUPERAntiSpyware is well known for its high malware detection rate. A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes SUPERAntiSpyware straightforward to setup, customize, and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

Zone Alarm Firewall:

If you are a casual computer user, Zone Alarm Free is definitely worth considering as a new Firewall installation, or as a replacement for a current Firewall that is not meeting your expectations.

Staying in touch:

Windows Live messenger:

The next generation MSN Messenger. It comes with everything that were already available in Messenger, and a new IM Initiative that makes helping your favorite charity as easy as sending an instant message.

Pidgin:

A multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once. Pidgin can work with: AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo!, MySpace IM and many more.

Trillian:

A fully featured, stand-alone, chat client that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC.

Skype

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

System Tools:

WinPatrol:

You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

CCleaner:

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast; normally taking less than a second to run.

Autoruns:

You can configure Autoruns to show additional locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and more. Autoruns goes considerably beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows.

Glary Utilities:

Glary Utilities, a free all-in-one utility, is a terrific collection of system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC. Personal experience with this application for the last 2 years has convinced me that a typical user can really benefit by having this application on their system. With this free program you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

Revo Uninstaller:

Revo Uninstaller is a superior program to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application. After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over (those “orphaned” registry entries we talked about earlier), on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.

Have a great school year!

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

10 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Audio Applications, Browser add-ons, Browsers, Cell Phone Apps, Computer Maintenance, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Free Office Suites, Free Photo Applications, Free Word Processors, Media Players, Microsoft, MS Word Alternatives, Open Office, Productivity Software, Skype, Software, System Security, System Utilities, Video Apps, Video Calling, Windows Tips and Tools

17 Free Productivity Applications That Make Life Easier

The Internet is loaded with free software, but it seems to me, that most free software is either security related, or system related. There’s nothing wrong with that of course; but because freeware offerings are heavily weighted in favor of these types of applications, productivity applications tend to get lost in the fog.

As a consequence, you might think that you have to wander the aisles of your local computer store to find good quality productivity software. But, you don’t.

There’s a wealth of tried and tested free productivity software out in the wild blue of the Internet, that will meet virtually every need you’re likely to have.

Take a look at the following recommended free downloads and I think you’ll find that these applications will more than do the job.

Working with words:

OpenOffice.org 3

OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers.

It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages.

AbiWord

If you want to go light on a word processor then AbiWord is for you. AbiWord, an open source application, has been designed to integrate perfectly with the operating system it runs on, and there are many, including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X (PowerPC).

There’s no need to worry about document compatibility issues with AbiWord since it can read, and write, all industry standard document types, including Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Office Open XML (MS Word 2007), Rich Text Format (RTF), HTML web pages, and many more.

WordWeb

WordWeb is a handy utility that gives you the definition, synonyms, and antonyms of any given word without requiring you to go online, though it can connect to the Internet for expanded functionality should you want it.

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.

PDF Tools:

PDFill PDF Tools

Included are Merge, Split, Reorder, Encrypt, Decrypt, Rotate, Crop, Reformat, Header, Footer, Watermark, Images to PDF, PDF to Images, Form Fields Delete/Flatten/List, PostScript to PDF, PDF Information, Scan to PDF, and Create Transparent Image options.

PrimoPDF

Create PDF files faster with the only free PDF creator to support one-click, drag-and-drop PDF creation. Convert to PDF from any file you can print, including Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats.

Desktop Publishing:

SerifSoft PagePlus SE

Interested in producing a family newsletter, a business newsletter, a company newsletter or an employee newsletter? Want to produce a clean, bright design that will enhance your newsletter’s message? Want to do it for FREE?

This neat little Desktop Publishing application includes a range of preset document layouts, automated templates, great color schemes and artistic effects, which will allow you to produce professional looking results.

Satisfy your creativity with drawing applications:

Inkscape

An Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. Inkscape supports many advanced SVG features (markers, clones, alpha blending, etc.) and great care is taken in designing a streamlined interface.

It’s very easy to edit nodes, perform complex path operations, trace bitmaps and much more.

Blender 3D – Open Source Animation to the Max

Blender is an incredibly robust 3D software animation program. It’s been designed for modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulating, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications.

Google SketchUp 7

Google SketchUp is software that you can use to create 3D models of anything you like. Build models and add them to Google Earth. Most people get rolling with SketchUp in just a few minutes. Dozens of video tutorials, an extensive Help Center and a worldwide user community mean that anyone who wants to make 3D models with SketchUp, can. Redecorate your living room. Design a new piece of furniture. Model your city for Google Earth.

You can build models from scratch, or you can download what you need. People all over the world share what they’ve made on the Google 3D Warehouse. It’s a huge, searchable repository of models, and it’s free.

Working with photos:

Google Picasa

At its most basic, it’s a photo manager and viewer. Fire up Picasa, and you can browse through all of your photos, organized by folder, as well as by the year they were stored on your hard disk.

But all that is just a start. It also has a full complement of editing tools, and lets you create CDs full of photos, as well as photo collages, screensavers, and posters. It will upload your files Google’s Web albums photo site, publish your photos to your Blogger blog, and plenty more as well.

XnView

With XnView you can import more than 400 graphic file formats then convert them to other formats such as GIF, BMP, JPG, PNG, multi page TIFF. As well, you can export more than 50 graphic file formats.

XnView doesn’t stop there however; it also provides you with more advanced features such as Web page creation, contact prints, multiple conversion (format and transformation), slide shows, screen capturing and twain support for scanners and digital cameras.

Web site creation:

Weebly

If you’re looking to create that first web site using a WYSIWYG visual web page creator, and you want to do it for free, including web hosting, then this free service from Weebly will fill the bill admirably. With Weebly you control virtually every essential aspect of site design – and built-in integration with Google AdSense, allows you to deliver text and image ads that are specific to your site and your site content, if you choose.

Media applications:

Audacity

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Definitely the best of breed.

Winamp

A multimedia player that supports numerous audio and video formats. It also plays streamed video and audio content, live and recorded, authored worldwide.

Mapping Software:

Google Earth

Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others.

Mind mapping software:

FreeMind

FreeMind is an open source mind mapping software that enables you to visualize ideas, projects, concepts, brainstorming, internet research or any other task that can benefit from a structured overview. You can create nodes with child and sibling nodes and add icons, clouds, notes and custom formatting for better presentation.

The nodes can be expanded or collapsed, or interactively linked to local files, other maps, online resources and more. You can also insert encrypted nodes or create encrypted maps for sensitive projects. The finished maps can be exported to HTML, clickable XHTML, Open Office document, image file and other formats.

Control your cash:

AceMoney Lite

AceMoney Lite is a freeware personal finance manager. It has all the features of its big brother except multiple accounts management. As AceMoney, AceMoney Lite helps people organize and manage their personal finances quickly and easily. It supports all the features required for home or even small-business accounting needs.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

18 Comments

Filed under Audio Applications, DeskTop Publishing, downloads, Drawing Software, Free Photo Applications, Free Word Processors, Freeware, Google, Image Editors, MS Word Alternatives, Photo Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Website Builders, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download Free Orb – Stream Your Media to Any Internet Connection

My good buddy from the Pacific Northwest, and popular guest writer, Glenn Taggart, is excited about the freeware web based media streamer Orb.

Have I mentioned I have a large music collection? For the past year, I have managed to convert my hundreds of CD’s to digital format so I can preserve them and of course listen to them with my computer. I have also bought Western Digital’s WDTV Live so I can wirelessly stream them from my computer to my stereo system so I can rock the house!!

The last remaining task that I have recently accomplished is to be able to stream my music collection through any internet connection.

Enter Orb.

Orb is a web based media streamer that is so simple to set up, a caveman can do it. An added bonus with Orb is to be able to remotely access your computer folders and files as well.

The process is very simple. You install the client side software on your home computer, go to settings and set up the drive(s), folder, and file access you want. For Orb to work, you have to make sure your host side computer is on.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed Orb to your home PC, login to mycast.orb.com, using any internet-connected device with a streaming media player (mobile phone, PDA, laptop) and start MyCasting all your digital media anywhere anytime.

ORB

Your music – at the office, in the hotel, at the Wi-Fi hotspot.

  • You can stream music to your laptop.
  • Select songs, make playlists, right from the laptop.
  • ALL your music is available (and internet radio, podcasts, and videos).

Turn your laptop into a movie screen.

  • Play any movie or video that you have on your Orb PC.
  • Watch from the hotel or coffee house – anywhere you have an internet connection.

Don’t miss your favorite TV shows while you are away.

  • Watch live and recorded TV shows on your remote computer.
  • Watch from the office, hotel or coffee house – anywhere you have an internet connection.

Photo collections should be seen

  • You can enjoy your photos on any remote computer.
  • It’s easy to watch – or send – slideshows with photos stored on your PC or on the internet.
  • You can even set up a desktop photo widget with photos from your home computer.

Share your media with your friends

  • Your friends receive an email: with their Orb FREE account, they are the only ones to see what you shared with them!
  • Your media is served by your PC: safe, secure
  • No more big file attachments hassles!

From a security standpoint, be very careful how you set this up. I recommend you create a public folder and copy any media files or other files you want access to to this folder. I’m always a little paranoid about making my root directories available to a 3rd party website. If you need to be able to access your root directories, I suggest setting up a virtual private network or FTP.

Orb works great with mobile phones as well. I currently have my HTC Incredible hooked up to Orb and can watch videos and listen to music from my own computer!

System requirements:

Windows 7, Vista, XP with Service Pack 2 or later, Mac OS X Intel 10.5 or later.

AMD Athlon 3200+ processor or 2.4Ghz Intel Pentium IV processor or equivalent (a slower processor may cause “stuttering” when streaming TV or videos)

512MB of RAM

Broadband connection

Download at: Orb.com

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, one of the hardest working people I know, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

9 Comments

Filed under Audio Applications, Cloud Computing Applications, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Multimedia Tools, Software, Streaming Media Applications, Video, Video Tools, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP