Tag Archives: best

Using Artisteer to Develop WordPress Themes

Your theme is the first thing visitors will notice when arriving on your site. Although it may be the content that drove them there in the first place, it’s the design that will help them decide on whether to stay and read more.

The Artisteer program is one of those methods that can help you develop a great looking theme tailored to your desires. There are many features in this program that make it a wonderful tool, especially for those who plan on developing more than one website.

1. User Interface – The user interface of Artisteer is incredibly easy to manage. Each tool is self-explanatory and nearly every aspect of the website can be altered. The layout of the tools is chronological and will help any user customize a blog theme from top to bottom, literally. Adding images, font sizes, icons, and more can be altered to make your site look and feel exactly how you want it to.

The WYSIWYG editor will show a representation of what your page will look like when a visitor is browsing it. Any aspect you change can be seen within Artisteer and you can make easy adjustments in order to produce the theme you are envisioning.

Whether you need a specific pixel dimension for your blog’s width or imposing borders around the blog itself to give it a drop-shadow effect, the Artisteer software can handle it all. While the preset suggestions will randomize a look and feel for the website, you can change any aspect you wish in order to create the perfect look to fit your niche.

2. Graphics – Although you don’t need Photoshop or Illustrator to create impressive graphics, it doesn’t hurt if you have these skills. You can develop all of your graphics, icons, header images, and more using any image development program you have including Paint. As long as your image is saved as a supported graphic type such as a JPG, PNG, and others you can add them to your theme.

These images can range from small icons or bullets to as large as background images for your site. There is truly no limit to what imagery you can use within the software. However, keep in mind that your website could perform poorly the larger and more elaborate your images are.

3. Exporting – When you are done with your masterpiece, simply export the theme as a .zip file that is usable by WordPress. Once you are in your Admin panel for WordPress, browse and install the theme like you would any other. Your website will look exactly as it does in the Artisteer WYSIWYG editor.

Artisteer will allow you to save these .zip files for installations or .artx files for editing your templates for future updates. You may find that a specific font or color scheme isn’t widely accepted by your target audience and using the .artx file in Artisteer will allow you to make quick changes and theme version numbers to keep track of your progress.

Looking to add that personal touch so that you get credit for developing such a beautiful template? Artisteer will allow you to embed your name, link to your website, and version information within WordPress so that anyone using or seeing your template will know who made it and where it came from. This could help others click on the information at the base of the page to drive additional traffic to your own website.

4. Ideas – Artisteer gives you the ability to create as many themes as you want for any occasion. You can make a different theme for your blog corresponding with the seasons. Holidays can be accentuated by developing graphics and color schemes that match such as cool colors and white for winter. The possibilities for design are only limited by your own imagination. Backgrounds, overlays, and even java video can be used in this development program to provide a unique look that no one else in the world has.

5. Extenuation of Development – Artisteer doesn’t just make themes for WordPress. A wide variety of other content management systems are also able to utilize these templates such as Joomla, Blogger, and Drupal. You could provide themes and designs for friends and family. You could even assist others in a professional atmosphere by helping them develop an attractive site using the Artisteer program.

6. Continued Support – As Artisteer has gained so much popularity as being one of the best template and theme design programs from the various content management systems, there is little fear from the software becoming outdated. Versions and upgrades are constantly available from Extensoft, Inc. and available forums are constantly utilized by users in order to share knowledge and help with virtually any problem should one arise. The responsiveness of the staff is impressive and they can be very helpful if you’d rather contact them directly.

You can sift through the websites looking for that perfect theme for your blog, or you can create exactly what you want. You can pay someone to develop your themes for you, or you can buy Artisteer and make them yourself whenever you want.

You don’t need extensive programming or graphic design knowledge in order to create a lavish theme perfect for your content. You only need a basic idea of what you want your blog to look like.

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.

Comments Off on Using Artisteer to Develop WordPress Themes

Filed under Blogging Tips, Blogging Tools, Software, Web Site Design, Website Builders, WordPress

Google Nexus 4 – The Best Android Device Ever?

Google’s Nexus 4 might just be the best Android device around. Guest writer Allison Foster walks you through a comprehensive overview – see what you think.

imageIn keeping with the aesthetics and innovative features of its bigger brothers, the Google Nexus 4 is a smartphone to contend with. This device has the technological benefits of the tablet line condensed into a small pocket version with access to telecommunications.

Providing overwhelming graphic capabilities as well as processing power, the Nexus 4 is loaded with the hardware it needs in order to accomplish virtually any task. It is a phone that can engage a person on a variety of levels whether it is for entertainment, professional, or personal use.

1. Display – Using a 4.7-inch display, the Google Nexus 4 runs at a resolution of 1280×768 with 320 pixels per inch. This provides an amazing clarity for video and graphics, making it ideal for streaming movies or playing games. Operating at such resolutions also makes web browsing ideal as one would be able to see the website as it would be on a desktop computer system or view the condensed site if it had been optimized for smartphones. Protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 2, one could feel comfortable with carrying the Nexus 4 in his or her pocket without worry of keys or other materials scratching the glass.

2. Connections – The Google Nexus 4 is compatible with a number of carriers as it uses GSM, EDGE, and GPRS on 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz bands. This unlocked smartphone is capable of using 3G networks, support for more than 200 service carriers, and can connect to virtually any wireless access point supporting 802.11 a/b/g/n. As an added bonus, Bluetooth and Android Beam technologies increase connectivity across millions of devices.

Keeping true to using innovative technologies, the Google Nexus 4 is capable of wireless charging. This form of replenishment is also called inductive charging and uses electromagnetic fields in order to transfer energy from a charging base to the receiving unit. This technology has been utilized in the past in key-cards and readers.

3. CPU and Memory – Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 CPU, the Google Nexus 4 operates at 1.5Ghz with a quad-core chipset. Backed by 2GB of memory, this smartphone has power to burn for running multiple apps simultaneously. Even Google admits to the Nexus 4 as being, “our snappiest smartphone yet.”

4. Features – Loaded with the standard apps that accompany any Android device, the Nexus 4 also supports:

i. An 8MP rear and 1.3MP front facing camera – This provides amazingly clear and detailed images

ii. A built-in microphone – When combined with one of the built-in cameras, this phone can utilize video conferencing through Google+ with exceptional quality

iii. The ability to voice search – Searching the Internet is easier if you don’t have to type in the letters. Just tell the Nexus 4 what it is you need to search

iv. Gesture Typing – No longer will you have to press each letter individually in order to create sentences. With Gesture Typing, you simply run your fingers across the letters of the on-screen keyboard in a fluid motion

Google Wallet – Contain the information of your credit and debit cards within Google Wallet in order to use your phone for wireless payment at one of more than 200,000 locations around the United States

The Google Nexus 4 is a premier phone that is built for longevity and multitasking. With access to apps such as Google Play, Netflix, and more this phone can provide a wealth of entertainment and communication wrapped in the sleek and elegant design of its chassis. This impressive addition to the Nexus family is more than a simple smartphone; it’s a tool of unlimited possibilities.

Author Byline:

Blogging was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com. She can be reached through e-mail – allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail – the rest you know.

8 Comments

Filed under Android, Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Smart Phone

Malwarebytes – A Must Have for Every PC Tech

Guest writer Julie Myers, gives us her personal take (backed up by her 14 years in IT Support), on why she believes Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware should be a part of every PC Tech’s toolbox.

Once Upon a Time

imageOnce upon a time, computers were free to roam the Internet. Websites took up very little space and not much traffic was on the sparkling new information highway. It was a time of early development and little risk for business folks. It was a time of discovery and information sharing for everyone else.

Nothing tried to rob our computers of their speed, network connectivity, or corrupt a file, nor unknowingly get our computers to spread a virus. Roaming the Internet was fun, though sometimes boring – but, crime free.

Times Have Changed

Unfortunately, it is no longer “once upon a time”. Today, the greatest threat to a computer is malware and the best post-invasion force is you, the PC Tech. As a PC Tech, your job is to rid the computer of malware. To do this you need an arsenal of the best software tools, and Google.

Since the best anti-malware software changes from time to time, it is important to stay current with which ones are the best. As of June, 2011, one of the best free anti-malware software programs, that you must have, is Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware.

Why Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes just plain works. A team of ten PC Techs and I, have run Malwarebytes on at least two hundred infected computers, over the past year, with outstanding success (there were, of course, a few computers that were so badly infected all tools failed, thus the only solution was to reimage).

Malwarebytes downloads and installs quickly. And, the user interface is relatively easy to figure out and navigate. It takes around 25 minutes to an hour to run a full scan, depending on how much data is on the user’s hard drive, and how badly infected the computer is. And, the user interface is relatively easy to figure out and navigate.

The employees at Malwarebytes Corp. do such an outstanding job at keeping on top of the latest threats, and programming their software to delete it from a computer, all you need to do is make sure you have the latest engine update before running a scan. From what I have seen Malwarebytes removes a variety of malware, 9 out of 10 times, with just one scan and a reboot.

Here are some additional features to get you even more excited:

  • It’s free. There is a PRO version that is very reasonably priced at $24.95 per license and the added features seem well worth the cost.
  • Scans are relatively fast compared to other malware software. The PRO version is said to be even faster.
  • It does a full scan on all drives, both free and PRO version.
  • PRO version has a real-time active malware prevention engine. In other words, the free version has to be run manually to scan your hard drive. The PRO version can be configured to run automatically in the background.
  • Currently, Malwarebytes will run on Windows 2000, XP, Vista and 7 (32bit and 64bit).

Danger Continues

In the foreseeable future, malware will continue to be a threat to computers. You, the PC Tech, will need to keep up to date with the best tools to rid computers of these annoyances. Today, Malwarebytes is one of the best free anti-malware tools out there.

Good luck, and don’t swear at the computer too much. Now, go visit Malwarebytes.org and add their anti-malware software to your arsenal.

For more details and to download Malwarebytes, go to: http://www.malwarebytes.org

To compare the differences between the free and PRO versions, go to: http://www.malwarebytes.org/products/malwarebytes_free

Biography:

Guest writer Julie Myers has been in IT Support for 14 years, surfing the Internet since the mid 90s, and has been playing around with computers since the Apple II. Currently, Julie is tinkering with creating websites and she’s in the process of learning Java.

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.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Guest Writers, Malware Removal, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Technicians Advise, Windows Tips and Tools

Surf Smarter – Take A Sneak Peek At Links With CoolPreviews Firefox Add-on

imageI carry a total of eighteen Firefox add-ons; some – including NoScript, Adblock Plus, WOT, and BitDefender QuickScan – beef up security. Others, such as DownloadHelper, WebMail Notifier, and Google Shortcuts, help me keep the productivity curve trending upward.

The security add-ons are an absolute necessity – interacting with the Internet without them would be akin to traipsing through a minefield – just waiting for the BOOM! The productivity add-ons are less critical – I could (if I had to), get along without them – except for one –  CoolPreviews.

I love CoolPreviews – a Picture-in-a-Picture free Browser add-on, that lets me preview links and rich media content, without clicking the link, or leaving my current page.

With CoolPreviews, I just place my mouse cursor over a link, or over the CoolPreviews icon, and a customizable preview window of the website that the link points to instantly appears with the content; page view, image view, or even video.

I can fully interact with the preview window; play the video, click on links, fill out forms, and more. In fact, I can interact with the preview just as if I had the full page open. If I need to, opening the full page is easy; a simple click on the CoolPreviews full page icon, and I’m there.

I find that by using CoolPreviews, I save time and reduce the drudgery involved in trying to determine which sites are worth investigating. CoolPreviews lets me take a quick look at each link to see if it’s worthwhile investigating further.

I use this tool every day to confirm that the links in my “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News” column, are live. The screen capture below illustrates how this works. Click on the graphic to expand to original (1157 x 490).

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It takes me less than two minutes to check 20/25 links this way, as opposed to – open a link, close a link; open a link, close a link; open a link, close a link; ……. Well, you see the point.

A final example:

Every day, I visit each of the sites in my Blogroll (gotta see what my friends are up to!), and rather than click through to the site, I use CoolPreviews. If the content is a “need to read”, like my good buddy Paul Lubic’s most recent article is – clicking on the “open to Tab” button in CoolPreviews, does just that.

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It’s no wonder Mozilla lists this neat little tool as a recommended Firefox add-on, and also includes it in its most popular list of browser add-ons. CoolPreviews definitely increases productivity; what a time saver!

Fast facts:

Preview links without clicking

Preview images and videos

CoolPreviews 3-D Wall or slideshow mode for Google Image Search

Works on Google, Yahoo!, MSN, YouTube, Flickr ……….

Works on just about any website, blog, forum

Stack temporarily bookmarks (this is a very cool feature)

Instantly email links

Zoom in/out functionality

Sub search any phrase by right-clicking

Customize preview activation method and themes

Enable/disable previewing on customizable choice of sites

Unfortunately, CoolPreviews is available only for Firefox. Previous support for IE, Safari, etc., has been discontinued.

Requirements: Firefox 3.6 – 4.0. Supports Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Download at: CoolPreviews or Mozilla.

Update: February 4, 2011. My good buddy Rick Robinette, whom I often refer to as the “Great Freeware Hunter”, has just posted on a similar add-on designed for Chrome. If you’re a Chrome user, then be sure sure to checkout Rick’s article over at What’s On My PC.

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.

16 Comments

Filed under Browser add-ons, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Linux, Mac, Productivity Software, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Optimize Your Hard Drive/s With Free Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1

A  quick recap of disk fragmentation:

Fragmentation is caused by creating and deleting files and folders, installing new software, and downloading files from the Internet. When you delete files or folders, the first available empty spaces on the Hard Drive are filled in randomly when you create new files and folders, as you do when you save pics from your camera, install software, save emails, or create documents.

Despite the fact that their is some disagreement as to the value of defragging modern Hard Drives, there is a slight leaning in the tech community toward defragmentation being a positive maintenance process. I support this point of view.

Seven million downloads of Auslogics Disk Defrag from CNET, and an average user rating of 4.5 Stars speaks to the value of this small application, and to the popularity of defragging.

The application (last updated October, 2010), is extremely easy to use, does not require any analysis phase and is faster than most disk defragmentation software I’ve tested in the past, and best of all, it’s free.

Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, can be run on a  “set and forget” basis. I occasionally hear from users that they can’t remember the last time they defragged their disk/s – but they’ll get to it – eventually. But they don’t have to – Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, can do it for them on a continuous basis.

The user interface is uncluttered and as simple to follow as any I’ve seen. The following graphics illustrate just how easy it is to get Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1 up and running.

image

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Fast facts:

Optimizes file system

Disk Defrag will speed up your computer by moving system files to the fastest part of the disk. It will also move data files from the MFT Reserved Zone to prevent MFT fragmentation.

Consolidates free space

In addition to defragmenting your files, Disk Defrag can defragment free disk space. The free space is merged into a large contiguous block, which is an effective way of preventing file fragmentation.

Can defrag automatically

This feature ensures that file fragmentation is eliminated as soon as it occurs. You can set Disk Defrag to run automatically when your system goes idle. The program will analyze the disks and defragment them in the background if required.

Provides flexible scheduler

Defragmentation yields better results when it is performed on a regular basis. Disk Defrag is supplied with a flexible scheduler that will help you to schedule defragmentation according to your needs.

Can defrag a single file or folder

Have no time for defragmenting the entire hard drive? With Disk Defrag you can defragment a single file, several files or a folder.

Supports multi-terabyte volumes

Disk Defrag is supplied with a powerful engine that can easily defragment large multi-terabyte volumes. It can also defragment several drives at once, which makes the defragmentation process a lot faster.

Compact & Fast

Smart defragmentation algorithms allow Disk Defrag to run much faster than similar defragmenters and consume less system resources.

Before you begin the defrag process, I suggest that you run a program such as CCleaner, which will empty your Recycle Bin, Temporary Internet Files folder, and other locations where clutter tends to accumulate on your PC.

As well, you should consider uninstalling any applications you no longer use. Revo Uninstaller is a free utility that will uninstall unneeded applications more thoroughly than the Windows native uninstaller.

These steps are not absolutely necessary but, they are a good practice.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista/XP/2000/2003, 32-bit and 64-bit and dual-core CPU supported.

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.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, Defrag Tools, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Tools, Slow Computer, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

How’s Your Hard Drive? – Check It Out With These Free HD Tools

Hard Drive DiagAll 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?

The following free application can take the guesswork out of the equation, and make it easier to diagnose what’s really occurring inside the complex environment of the Hard Drive.

Ariolic Disk Scanner

Disk Scanner is a tiny freeware utility to check the hard drive for read errors. Sometimes, you may notice, that some files on the disk cannot be read. This may happen for several reasons, but the most important one is the hard drive degradation, that may be the first typical sign of the disk failure.

image

Fast facts:

Read-only test of hard drive volumes for read errors

Scan hard disk, flash drives, USB hard drives, CD/DVD, floppy

Disk Scanner does not require a setup – it’s portable. Run it directly from CD or a Flash drive

See the check result at a glance

Works with hard drives, flash disks, CD, floppy

Simple user interface

Download at: Ariolic Software

Hard Drive diagnostic software is offered free from all the major Hard Drive manufacturers. Check out their sites.

Western Digital Support

Samsung

Seagate

Please note that since Seagate purchased Maxtor, the download sites are identical.

Maxtor

Hard Drive Maintenance: Repair, Defrag and Disk Cleanup Tools

Fragmentation is caused by creating and deleting files and folders, installing new software, and downloading files from the Internet. When you delete files or folders, the first available empty spaces on the Hard Drive are filled in randomly when you create new files and folders, as you do when you save pics from your camera, install software, save emails, or create documents.

Hard Disk fragmentation makes the disk drive heads move more than necessary when reading files which can degrade performance over time, and can lead to system slowdowns, computer crashes, slow startups and shutdowns.

Auslogics Disk Defrag

The program (updated August 10, 2010 ), is extremely easy to use, does not require any analysis phase and is faster than most disk defragmentation software I’ve tested in the past, and it’s free.

In my view, it’s one more maintenance process in helping me get the maximum performance out of my hardware.

auslogics_disk_defrag

Fast facts:

Improve computer performance and stability

Increase your productivity – no more waiting for files to open

Defragment disks in minutes

Disk fragmentation map and detailed fragmentation report

Download at: Download.com

CCleaner

Running a Hard Disk cleaner such as CCleaner (updated September 27, 2010), can optimize systems by emptying the Recycle Bin, Temporary Setup Files, Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Old Chkdsk Files, Temporary Files, Temporary Offline Files, Offline Files, and more.

ccleaner2

Fast facts:

Frees up valuable hard disk space

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries

Comprehensive backup feature

System tray icon

Privacy tool

Download at: Download.com

Glary Utilities

Using Glary Utilities, you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

You can quickly find the tool you’re looking for: disk cleaner, uninstall manager, secure file deletion, memory optimizer, (a gentle) registry cleaner, duplicate file finder, tracks eraser, and empty folder finder.

image

Fast Facts:

Disk Cleaner Removes junk data from your disks and recovers disk space

Registry Cleaner scans and cleans your registry to improve your system’s performance

Shortcuts Fixer eliminates the errors in your start menu & desktop shortcuts

Startup Manager manages programs which run automatically on startup

Memory Optimizer monitors and optimizes free memory in the background

Tracks Eraser erases all traces, evidence, cookies, internet history and more

File Shredder erases files permanently

Internet Explorer Assistant manages Internet Explorer Add-ons

Disk Analysis provides detailed information files and folders

Duplicate Files Finder searches for space-wasting duplicate files

Empty Folders Finder removes empty folders (I love this feature)

Uninstall Manager completely uninstall programs

Download at: Download.com

A portable version is also available which you can download at GlarySoft.

Disk Heal

Disk Heal is a free Windows NT, 2000, XP and Vista utility that may be able to restore the condition of your Hard Drive, or a USB Flash Drive.

This application is a very useful tool that has a host of additional capabilities, including recovering hidden files and performing system tweaks; all can be accessed with just one click.

disk heal

Fast facts:

Fixes disk problems

Fixes task manager inaccessibility

Fixes folder options inaccessibility

Fixes registry editor inaccessibility

Recovers hidden files and folders

Changes the default icon of any drive, external, internal, or a partition

Security and system tweaks

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.

18 Comments

Filed under Computer Maintenance, Computer Tune Up Utilities, Disk Cleaners, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Hard Drive Tools, Portable Applications, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Download IObit Smart Defrag – Defragging the Smart Way

Defrag Some Techs insist, that a fragmented Hard Drive is the primary cause of system slowdown. I think the system slowdown issue is far more complex.

In a real sense, it is difficult to measure an increase in system performance following Hard Drive defragmentation. Nevertheless, I do agree, that defragging is a positive maintenance process, and should be done regularly.

A  quick recap on disk fragmentation: What is it?

Creating and deleting files and folders, installing new software, and downloading files from the Internet, will cause a Hard Drive to become fragmented. When you delete files or folders, the first available empty spaces on the Hard Drive are filled in randomly when you create new files and folders, as you do when you save pics from your camera, install software, save emails, or create documents.

To keep fragmentation to a minimum, my Hard Drives are continuously being defragged. I run the paid version of TuneUp Utilities 2010 in the background, which continuously optimizes, amongst other things, my computer’s hardware, including automatic disk defragging.

The latest release (January 07, 2010 ), of the award winning free system tool, IObit Smart Defrag , can also run on this type of “set and forget” basis. I occasionally hear from users that they can’t remember the last time they defragged their disk/s – they’ll get to it – eventually. But, they don’t have to – IObit Smart Defrag, can do this for them on a continuous basis.

The 8 million plus downloads of this application from CNET, and an average user rating of 4 Stars, speaks to the value of this small application, and to the popularity of defragging.

IObit Smart Defrag is extremely easy to use, fast and efficient, and best of all, it’s free. The user interface is uncluttered and as simple to follow as any I’ve seen.

The following screen captures illustrate, just how easy it is to get IObit Smart Defrag up and running.

image

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image

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Fast facts:

Extremely Easy to Use

Its intuitive interface makes Smart Defrag the ideal utility for computer novices.

Exceptionally Efficient Defragmentation

Smart Defrag has the world’s fastest defragmenting engine. It’s been specially designed for modern, large hard drives.

Smart Defrag doesn’t just use simple defragmentation. It also streamlines your file system, places the frequently used files and directories into the fastest area of the disk, enabling your computer to run at top speed with the most stability.

Always-on – Smart Defrag works automatically and quietly in the background, so it continually and constantly keeps your computer fragment-free.

Smart Defrag has a “Safe Intelligence” technology that can assure the health of your disk by deciding when, and how, to execute defragmentation.

Free for  personal, business, and enterprise servers.

Languages: English, Danish, German, Finnish, Dutch, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Serbian, Turkish, Russian, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, Czech, 简体中文, and more.

System requirements: Windows 7, 2003, Me, 98, 2000, Vista, NT, XP, Server 2008 ((32-bit and 64-bit).

Download at: Download.com

Note: Before you begin a scheduled defrag process I recommend that you run a program such as CCleaner, which will empty your Recycle Bin, Temporary Internet Files folder, and other locations, where clutter tends to accumulate on your PC.

As well, you should consider uninstalling any applications you no longer use. Revo Uninstaller is a free utility that will uninstall unneeded applications more thoroughly than the Windows native uninstaller.

These steps are not absolutely necessary but, they are a good practice.

A big “Thank You”, to regular reader RoseD1st, who brought this application to my attention.

IObit offers a whole whack of free applications including Advanced SystemCare Free, Smart Defrag, Game Booster, Advanced Uninstaller, Security 360 Free, Random Password Generator and Manager , and of course, Smart Defrag.

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.

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Filed under Computer Maintenance, Defraggers, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Hard Drive Tools, Software, System Utilities, TuneUp Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Check, Maintain, and Clean Your Hard Drive With Free Tools

Hard Drive DiagThere’s no question that Hard Drives fail – I’ve had to deal with three failures, personally, in the past two years.

Fortunately, today’s Hard Drives rarely fail without a warning of failure given well in advance. 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?

The following free applications take the guesswork out of the equation, and they make it easier than ever to diagnose what’s really occurring inside the complex environment of the Hard Drive.

Active Hard Disk Monitor

Active Hard Disk Monitor is a freeware disk utility that checks and monitors the status of your hard drives to help prevent data loss. The system is based on the Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T).

The application can be launched automatically at Windows startup and monitor the system in the background. An icon in the System Tray can display the temperature for selected HDD(s).

image

Fast facts:

Hard Disk performance monitoring and control

Based on Self Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (or S.M.A.R.T.)

Able to scan and display bad sectors on a disk’s surface.

Displays current S.M.A.R.T. attributes

Can be launched automatically at Windows startup and monitor the HDD(s) in the background

Includes System Tray icon temperature status

Can generate event log and S.M.A.R.T reports

Download at: Download.com

Ariolic Disk Scanner

Disk Scanner is a tiny freeware utility to check the hard drive for read errors. Sometimes, you may notice, that some files on the disk cannot be read. This may happen for several reasons, but the most important one is the hard drive degradation, that may be the first typical sign of the disk failure.

image

Fast facts:

Read-only test of hard drive volumes for read errors

Scan hard disk, flash drives, USB hard drives, CD/DVD, floppy

Disk Scanner does not require a setup – it’s portable. Run it directly from CD or a Flash drive

See the check result at a glance

Works with hard drives, flash disks, CD, floppy

Simple user interface

Download at: Ariolic Software

Don’t forget, Hard Drive diagnostic software is offered free from all the major Hard Drive manufacturers. Check out their sites.

Western Digital Support

Samsung

Seagate

Please note that since Seagate purchased Maxtor, the download sites are identical.

Maxtor

Hard Drive Maintenance: Repair, Defrag and Disk Cleanup Tools

Fragmentation is caused by creating and deleting files and folders, installing new software, and downloading files from the Internet. When you delete files or folders, the first available empty spaces on the Hard Drive are filled in randomly when you create new files and folders, as you do when you save pics from your camera, install software, save emails, or create documents.

Hard Disk fragmentation makes the disk drive heads move more than necessary when reading files which can degrade performance over time, and can lead to system slowdowns, computer crashes, slow startups and shutdowns.

Auslogics Disk Defrag

The program (updated December, 2009), is extremely easy to use, does not require any analysis phase and is faster than most disk defragmentation software I’ve tested in the past, and it’s free.

In my view, it’s one more maintenance process in helping me get the maximum performance out of my hardware.

auslogics_disk_defrag

Fast facts:

Improve computer performance and stability

Increase your productivity – no more waiting for files to open

Defragment disks in minutes

Disk fragmentation map and detailed fragmentation report

Download at: Download.com

CCleaner

Running a Hard Disk cleaner such as CCleaner (updated January, 2010), can optimize systems by emptying the Recycle Bin, Temporary Setup Files, Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Old Chkdsk Files, Temporary Files, Temporary Offline Files, Offline Files, and more.

ccleaner2

Fast facts:

Frees up valuable hard disk space

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries

Comprehensive backup feature

System tray icon

Privacy tool

Download at: Download.com

Disk Heal

Disk Heal 1.48 (updated August, 2009), is a free Windows NT, 2000, XP and Vista utility that may be able to restore the condition of your Hard Drive, or a USB Flash Drive.

This application is a very useful tool that has a host of additional capabilities, including recovering hidden files and performing system tweaks; all can be accessed with just one click.

disk heal

Fast facts:

Fixes disk problems

Fixes task manager inaccessibility

Fixes folder options inaccessibility

Fixes registry editor inaccessibility

Recovers hidden files and folders

Changes the default icon of any drive, external, internal, or a partition

Security and system tweaks

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Computer Maintenance, Diagnostic Software, Disk Cleaners, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Hard Drive Problems, Hard Drive Tools, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Get Cooliris – You Don’t know What You’re Missing

If you don’t have Cooliris installed on your computer, you could be missing out on the best of what the web has to offer.

Web 2.0 has given us new and exciting ways to utilize the and interact with the Internet. I have to admit, when I stop to consider the benefits of Web 2.0, and the applications that got us here, one of the first applications that comes to mind is Cooliris.

Sure, we have Twitter and FaceBook, but in my view, these are just two of the social utilities that have been overhyped to the max, and which continue to be, along with many other social networking applications, natural gateways for cybercriminals.

Cooliris, on the other hand, is a wonderfully fluid and superbly crafted free add-on for Safari, FireFox, and Internet Explorer, which allows me to interact with the Internet in ways I never considered possible on a web browser.

Cooliris 5

Cooliris 9

What the developers have to say:

“It’s simply the fastest and most stunning way to browse photos and videos from the Web or your desktop. Effortlessly scroll an infinite “3D Wall” of your content without having to click page to page, whether you’re on Facebook, Google Images, YouTube, Flickr, Picasa, Kodak Gallery, or any supported site. Or channel surf the latest news, TV episodes, movies, and music videos – all from within Cooliris”.

Expand your own Internet horizons, download and install Cooliris, and while you’re at it, if you’re a FireFox user, download Cooliris Previews (almost 9,000,000 downloads to date). You’ll be glad you did.

Fast facts:

Search

It’s the fastest way to search Google Image Search, YouTube, Flickr, Hulu, online retailers, and other sites. Zip through search results on the 3D Wall with our search function. Switch engines effortlessly without having to re-enter the search term.

Cooliris 6

Works with hundreds of sites

Cooliris is built around the industry standard Media RSS format, and works on hundreds of sites across the Web.

Slideshows

Double clicking an image or pressing the toggle button brings you to full screen slideshow mode. There, you can play, pause, fast forward, and rewind at will.

Channels: News & Entertainment

Hulu, ESPN, BBC, SonyBMG, MSN, and more …Catch the latest news, sports, and entertainment. Even enjoy full-length movies and TV episodes.

Preferences

Customize the look and feel of Cooliris – modify the number of rows, background image, wall angle, slideshow speed and more!

Local File Support

Quickly find and view photos stored on your computer. Enjoy images from your Hard Drive, Desktop, iPhoto, and more.

Sharing

Share stuff with friends by dragging and dropping content from the 3D Wall. You can share as many items as you’d like, and even add a personal message.

3D Window Shopping

Window shop some of the world’s largest retailers by comparing products visually on the Cooliris 3D Wall. Highlight an item to learn the price or click the shopping cart icon to jump to the corresponding product page of the retailer.

Cooliris 4

Jump to Page

A picture tells a thousands words, but sometimes you just want to see the detailed story behind it all. Cooliris makes that easy. A click of a button lets you toggle between Cooliris and the corresponding web page of any item.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, OSX: Mac OS X: 10.5-10.6.x (operates in 32-bit browser mode), Linux: Ubuntu 8.04+, Fedora 10.0+, OpenSuse 11+

Download at: Cooliris

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Cell Phone Apps, Digital Media, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Photo Tools, Safari add-ons, social networking, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

New Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1 – Now with Disk Optimizer

A  quick recap on disk fragmentation: What is it?

Fragmentation is caused by creating and deleting files and folders, installing new software, and downloading files from the Internet. When you delete files or folders, the first available empty spaces on the Hard Drive are filled in randomly when you create new files and folders, as you do when you save pics from your camera, install software, save emails, or create documents.

My Hard Drives are continuously being defragged. I run the paid version of TuneUp Utilities 2010 in the background which continuously optimizes, amongst other things, my computer’s hardware, including automatic disk defragging.

If you think this is overkill – fair enough. But, the application can do it, it does a great job of doing it, and I’m a fan of “set and forget”.

TuneUp Utilities 1

The latest release (November 18, 2009), of the highly regarded free system tool, Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, can also be run on a  “set and forget” basis. I occasionally hear from users that they can’t remember the last time they defragged their disk/s – but they’ll get to it – eventually. But they don’t have to – Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, can do it for them on a continuous basis.

Auslogic defragger 4

Despite the fact that their is some disagreement as to the value of defragging modern Hard Drives, there is a slight leaning in the tech community toward defragmentation being a positive maintenance process. I support this point of view.

Almost 5 million downloads of this application from CNET, and an average user rating of 4.5 Stars speaks to the value of this small application and to the popularity of defragging.

The last time I reviewed  this application in August, 2008, the CNET download total stood at just over 2 million. This major increase in the number of downloads is a considerable proof statement that this application deserves a place in your toolbox.

Auslogics Disk Defrag is extremely easy to use, does not require any analysis phase and is faster than most disk defragmentation software I’ve tested in the past, and best of all, it’s free.

The user interface is uncluttered and as simple to follow as any I’ve seen. The following graphics illustrate just how easy it is to get Auslogics Disk Defrag up and running.

Auslogic defragger 2

Auslogic defragger 3

There are loads of free disk defraggers available for download, but they are not necessarily all created equal. The following graphic illustrates some of the difference between Auslogics Disk Defrag, and a number of other free apps you may be familiar with.

image

Before you begin a scheduled defrag process I recommend that you run a program such as CCleaner, which will empty your Recycle Bin, Temporary Internet Files folder, and other locations where clutter tends to accumulate on your PC.

As well, you should consider uninstalling any applications you no longer use. Revo Uninstaller is a free utility that will uninstall unneeded applications more thoroughly than the Windows native uninstaller.

These steps are not absolutely necessary but, they are a good practice.

Auslogics disk defrag quick facts:

Improve computer performance and stability

Increase your productivity – no more waiting for files to open

Fast and safe defragmentation of the disk drives

Optimization of clusters’ structure and file system for even better disk performance

Useful disk fragmentation map that displays defragmentation process in real time

Simple and intuitive user interface

Comprehensive defragmentation report

Extremely low system resources usage

Defragment USB/memory sticks

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista/XP/2000/2003, 32-bit and 64-bit and dual-core CPU supported.

Download at: Download.com

Auslogics Disk Defrag Portable A portable version Auslogics Disk Defrag is available as a single exe application, which can be copied to a USB drive and then used on any PC without installation.

Download at: Softpedia

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Filed under Cleaning Your Computer, Defraggers, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Hard Drive Tools, Portable Applications, Software, System Utilities, TuneUp Utilities, USB, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools