Tag Archives: interface

Have A Need To Burn CD/DVDs? – Checkout Free CDBurnerXP 4.4.0

image

The predictions are  – CDs and DVDs, as storage media, are on the way out. It seems a reasonable prediction given the  availability, and cost effectiveness, of both large capacity USB Flash Drives and large capacity USB portable Hard Drives. We’ve come a long way from the days when I bought my first USB stick – with its tiny 128 MB capacity (huge, in its day) – to today’s mega monsters.

It’s hardly surprising then, that CD/DVD costs have taken a dramatic tumble. I recently came across an offer at a local “excess inventory” outlet, which makes that point eloquently – 100 Memorex DVDs for $2.96. I couldn’t buy drink coasters at that price and, old/damaged CD/DVDs make very acceptable coasters.   Smile

So, despite the fact that solid state devices are cheap and portable and, are often ideal for long term storage, I still have a need to burn data to DVDs. If you have a similar need, and you’re looking for value in a CD/DVD burner (and what can be better than free), then CDBurnerXP (last updated November, 2011), is definitely a significant freeware application.

The fairly simple interface makes it a breeze to use for even the most inexperienced user, although it should be said that some users have mentioned the interface has some confusing aspects.  Hmm, I don’t see it.

I have burned dozens of DVDs in the last year using this free application, and in every case, CDBurnerXP did the job flawlessly. I can’t tell you how many times, over the years, a burner has misbehaved – but lots, comes close.

If you’re looking for a free CD/DVD burner application to do what it says it will do, with an easy to work with interface, then CDBurnerXP could be the program you’ve been looking for.

The following screen captures illustrate just how “one click simple” it is to burn an ISO for example, using CDBurnerXP.

image

image

image

Now, how hard is that?

Quick facts:

Burn audio-CDs with, and without gaps between tracks

Burn on the fly (you don’t have to image the disc in advance)

Rip Audio-CDs to a Hard Drive

Obtains track-information (ID3-tags) from the Internet

Burn and create ISO-files

Create bootable discs

Drag-and-drop

Multilanguage interface

Customizable with many settings

Data verification after burn,

Simple cover printing

Supports most IDE, USB, FireWire and SCSI drives

Free – (for both personal and corporate use)

No adware, malicious components, or restrictions

Available languages: Arabic, Bahasa Melayu, Catalan, Georgian, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Slovenian.

System Requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7 (64 bit available Vista and Win 7).

Additional Requirements: .NET Framework 2.0

Download at: CDburnerXP

A portable version of CDBurnerXP (last updated January 8th, 2012) which includes the full feature set (ideal for installation on a Flash Drive), is available at: Softpedia

Note: If you are using a DVD-RW (as I did for these tests) which already contains data – CDBurnerXP will not warn you that you are about to overwrite that data.

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under CD/DVD Tools, downloads, Freeware, New Computer User Software Tools, Portable Applications, Software

Windows 8 – No Thank You – I’ll Pass!

imageRudyard Kipling, in his Barrack-Room Ballads wrote“East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”, to describe the disconnect between two cultures – but, he might just as easily have been describing Microsoft’s attempt, with the development of Windows 8, to wed a Desktop/Laptop operating system and a Smartphone/Tablet operating system.

No doubt, Microsoft deserves a ton of credit for being adventuress and taking risks with the development of Windows 8. But, in re-imagining Windows “from the chipset to the user experience”, to quote Windows division president Steven Sinofsky – they have failed to meet their own target, which is, according to Microsoft – to give “users the same great experience whether they are on a tablet or on a desktop.” The experience, from my perspective is not so great.

Windows 8, developer preview (expires March 12, 2012) , was released yesterday for download and of course, I had to take the opportunity to test drive Microsoft’s latest OS offering. I’ve been running Windows 8 in a production environment for roughly 12 hours, so I’ve had an opportunity to develop some short term views.

The Windows 8 user interface is a radical departure from the traditional desktop UI and as such, it fails to satisfy my basic requirements. Since a desktop is my primary work unit, I have little interest in swiping features, keyboard shortcuts, slider menus and  an OS navigation system designed with a Tablet PC, or a Smartphone, in mind. As one of my friends observed – “ If I wanted my desktop to have the look and feel of a Tablet, I’d buy a Tablet.

Installation on a test system running Windows 7 (on which I kept settings), was smooth and flawless, with little user interaction required – much like a Win 7 install.

image

image

Following startup and login, the surprises came in bunches – starting with the new Metro GUI. Super on a Tablet, I expect – but on my desktop – Yuck!

All application can be viewed as tiles, and are reachable with the click of a mouse, or accessed with the touch of a finger. The desktop, (shown on the far left tile in this screen capture), has been reconfigured as an application.

image

The desktop (which I setup like my old Win 7 desktop), can also be accessed by cursoring to the left edge of the GUI – and voila! However, this is not an instinctive move.

image

To take full advantage of Windows 8, users will need to develop a solid background of mouse gestures, and keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard shortcuts include –

Alt-F4 – closes applications.

Windows key – switch between GUI and running application.

Windows key + R brings up the Run dialog box.

The Start menu has been replaced by the following virtually useless abomination – just look at what’s missing here. Including access to – shutdown. What were these guys thinking!

image

Shutdown – Restart can be reached by clicking on Devices, which brings up the following – click on the power button and you’re out. In theory that is. Despite repeated attempts, I could not shutdown the system. I had no choice but to put the system into sleep mode.

Truthfully, I had to Google search “Windows 8 shutdown” to get a grip on the shutdown command – and, I can assure you, I was not alone. How sad is that in a new operating system.

image

In my attempt to become familiar with Windows 8 as quickly as possible, I found myself relying on Windows Explorer more than normal – only to find THE RIBBON, has been incorporated into this venerable piece of Windows.

image

This would have been a perfect opportunity for Microsoft to improve Windows Explorer with the addition of dual panes (very handy for geeks), but instead – we get the ribbon.

There’s little doubt that back behind the GUI, Windows 8 advances computing technology in a number of very substantial ways. Especially in that most important of areas – system security. But, this hybrid just doesn’t work for me.

Given that this is a developer preview, and at least one of the reasons for its general release is the feedback necessary to fine tune the system, I’m hoping to see a final product that more adequately reflects the “real” needs of desktop users.

In the meantime, within a day or two, Windows 8 on my test system will be deep sixed in favor of Windows 7 – in my view, the best Windows system to come out of Redmond.

If you are interested in checking out Windows 8 developer preview – you can download it here.

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.

30 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Freeware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows 8

Free Glary Undelete – Easily Recover Deleted Photos And More

frustrated 2Later today, I’m going to perform bit of magic and help a friend recover photos accidentally deleted from her camera. No, I’m not Harry Houdini (magic is definitely not my thing), but I certainly do know which application to run in a given situation, which to many users, has all the appearances of being magical.

When it’s time to recover deleted files from an SD Card, Hard Drive, Flash Drive, etc., my magical application of choice is Glary Undelete. This free recovery application, (from the developers of my all time favorite Windows utility – Glary Utilities), with its wizard driven interface, makes deleted file recovery just about as simple as it gets.

The easy Hard Drive solution that most of us can use, most of the time, is to simply restore the file from the Windows Recycle Bin. The Recycle Bin can be a life saver when a file has been accidentally deleted.

Normally, the deleted file sits in the Bin until you empty it, or restore the file. But, what if the file has been permanently removed from the Bin, to make room for more recently deleted files for example, when the maximum size allocated in the Recycle Bin properties has been exceeded? And yes, it does happen.

If you take a look at the Recycle Bin’s properties dialogue box, you’ll see that the Bin’s size can be customized – but initially, the maximum size is set by the OS. BTW, I don’t recommend that you turn off the Recycle Bin, as I have done here for my data partition.

image

Still, all is not necessarily lost and here’s why: when a file is deleted from your Hard Drive, or portable media, what really gets deleted is the system link pointing to the file; but not the file itself.

Surprisingly, it can often be relatively easy to retrieve the deleted file, or a good portion of the file, using specialized file recovery software, which takes advantage of this reality.

To enhance the possibility of recovering the deleted file, rapid action is a prime requirement. File recovery software has limitations, so once you have realized you have deleted that important file; do not write any more files to the drive until you can run the recovery program.

Quick overview of Glary Undelete.

Filter searches by file name, file date, size, and recovery state.

image

Sample photo recovery operation from my camera’s SD Card. Click graphic to expand to original.

image

Undeleted Pic – you can see why I deleted it to begin with.   Smile

image

Just for a bit of fun, I recovered a very large .wav file (5 hours of sound), I had deleted from the camera’s SD Card.

image

I’ve had good success with this small application recovering deleted files, and I recommend that all users consider adding Glary Undelete to their toolbox. In computing, it pays to be a Boy Scout – “Be Prepared.”

Note: Glary makes the statement that this utility will, “even recover files that have been deleted by bugs, crashes and viruses”. I have not specifically tested this function.

Fast facts:

Supports FAT, NTFS, NTFS + EFS file systems

Supports recover compressed, fragmented and encrypted files on NTFS

Undelete files on portable media (SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MemoryStick, etc.)

Filter by file name, file date, size, and recovery state

Simple and user friendly interface

And more…

System Requirements: Windows Vista, XP, Windows 2003, Windows 2000, Windows 7.

Download at: Download.com

During the install, pay particular attention to the offer to install the Ask toolbar. I suggest you reject this offer.

Note: In Windows 7 (and Vista, I suspect), launching the application requires elevating privileges to an administrator level.

Final note: If you read user comments regarding this application on CNET, for example, you’re sure to find the usual whining and complaining posted by unsophisticated users who have not taken the time to become familiar with the application. Don’t be discouraged by this. Used properly, and in an intelligent manner, this application performs exactly as advertised.

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Computer Tools, downloads, File Recovery Software, flash drive, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, SD Card, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Take Advantage Of Your High Def Computer Display With Slickscreen

It’s always seemed to me that there’s not much point in having a wide screen LCD display when surfing the Net – not when I have a ton of wasted space on either side of the web page I’m viewing.

Here’s what I mean:

In this screen shot (click to expand), I’ve got Internet Explorer open on a 22 inch monitor set at 1680×1050  – notice the amount of wasted screen real estate on either side of the Web page.

image

So, for the past few days I’ve been testing Slickscreen – an Internet Browser which takes advantage of high resolution displays by dividing the screen into separate windows.

In the following screen capture (click to expand), you’ll notice that I have three Web sites open – plus a running application (Windows Live Writer), which I’m using to write this post.

In fact, you can even run your regular Browser inside Slickscreen, if you wish, so that you have access to your personal configuration specific to that Browser.

image

The bad news (sort of):

The configuration options in the free version are far too restrictive in my view. At least two selectable startup web sites would be more appropriate, so that the full value of the application can be properly assessed.

image

Having to deal with the developer’s pre-selected sites, and then having to manually gain access to my sites, is less than ideal. Actually, it’s annoying as hell.

Click on graphic to expand to the original.

image

Fast facts (pro version):

  • Maximize your screen real estate with Slickscreen’s unique non-overlapping interface.
  • Capture Windows applications into our unique interface.
  • Compare and work with web sites side by side with ease.
  • Save multi-panel layouts, Slickscreen’s multi-panel bookmarks.
  • Drag and drop links from one panel to another for the ultimate in web productivity.
  • New:  Every Slickscreen panel can add ‘traditional’ web browsing ‘tabs’.
  • Leverages Microsoft’s Internet Explorer rendering engine for performance, privacy and security.
  • Lightweight – We keep it simple for fast web browsing.
  • Integrates – doesn’t try to replace – your default browser (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer)
  • Panels can auto-refresh and auto-rotate at user defined intervals.  A great solution for corporate lobbies, break rooms or operational dashboards (requires a corporate license to use).
  • Skins:  Customize the look and feel.
  • Hosted on Amazon.com cloud infrastructure.  Get Updates fast and reliably.
  • No advertisements.  We don’t do ad-ware at Slickscreen.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 Client Profile – installed automatically if not present).

Download at: Developer’s site

User comments at CNET:

Pros: – Simple Download
– Great user preferences
– Drag and Drop features
– See multiple applications in 1 interface

Cons: – Some applications may function differently in Slickscreen

Pros: The ability to have VLC player, Outlook, Facebook and a work window, all in one interface is very helpful.

Cons: The new App Capture feature is a little glitchy at times. Understandable I suppose because.

Summary: Very nice application. Free version gives you more than enough functionality.

Pros: Ability to layout your screen with web and traditional apps in a non-overlapping fashion so apps/web sites don’t get hidden or clipped.
Dragging and dropping content from panel to panel is very useful.

Cons: You need a good sized screen or high resolution display. Minimum display resolution is probably 1200 pixels wide.

Summary: Great application for people with good screens.

Note: Since this is not a full review (after only two days running with the free version of this app, I’m reserving judgment), but instead, an informational post only – you may find the comments from CNET users valuable.

Initial impression: I’m leaning toward the professional version since the free version’s restrictions are annoying. On the other hand, at less than $5.00 for the pro version, I think there’s good value here.

From the developer:

Slickscreen Professional is a one time fee for home users.  Corporate purchases of 5 or more licenses will be good for two years from the purchase date, at which time, an upgrade fee may be required for continued use.

Home users can install Slickscreen Profressional on all of their personal PC’s.   Corporate users are restricted to 1 computer per license.

If you’re interested in this type of application, then I suggest you view the short video on the developers product information page, here.

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Antimalware Suites, Browsers, Desktop Toys, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Multimedia Tools, Multiple Monitors, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Deleted File Not in the Recycle Bin? No Worries – Glary Undelete Can Help You Recover

frustrated 2

The music collection you’ve spent years putting together, or that family photo album you’ve worked on for weeks – gone.

That document you’ve been working on for weeks is no longer in your document folder. Yikes!

We’ve all done it; accidentally deleted an important file.

Back in the DOS days, we would just use the command Undelete, or one of its variations, but today the solution is so much simpler.

The easy solution to this problem, that most of us can use, most of the time, is to simply restore the file from the Windows Recycle Bin. The Recycle Bin can be a life saver when a file has been accidentally deleted.

Normally, the deleted file sits in the Bin until you empty it, or restore the file. But what if the file has been permanently removed from the Bin, to make room for more recently deleted files for example, when the maximum size allocated in the Recycle Bin properties has been exceeded? And yes, it does happen.

image

All is not lost and here’s why: when a file is deleted from your Hard Drive, or portable media, what really gets deleted is the system link pointing to the file; but not the file itself.

Surprisingly, it can often be relatively easy to retrieve the deleted file, or a good portion of the file, using specialized file recovery software, which takes advantage of this reality.

To enhance the possibility of recovering the deleted file, rapid action is a prime requirement. File recovery software has limitations, so once you have realized you have deleted that important file; do not write any more files to the drive until you can run the recovery program.

Glary Undelete is a free recovery application, (from the developers of my all time favorite Windows utility – Glary Utilities), with a wizard driven interface, that makes file recovery just about as simple as it gets. In fact, Glary Undelete is the file recovery application that I have come to rely on.

image

I’ve had good success with this small application recovering deleted files, and I recommend that all users consider adding Glary Undelete to their toolbox.

Note: Glary makes the statement that this utility will, “even recover files that have been deleted by bugs, crashes and viruses”. I have not specifically tested this function.

Fast facts:

Supports FAT, NTFS, NTFS + EFS file systems

Supports recover compressed, fragmented and encrypted files on NTFS

Undelete files on portable media (SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MemoryStick, etc.)

Filter by file name, file date, size, and recovery state

Simple and User friendly interface

And more…

System Requirements: Windows Vista, XP, Windows 2003, Windows 2000, Windows 7.

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.

10 Comments

Filed under Deleted File Recovery, downloads, Freeware, Software, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Find That Deleted File Easily with Pandora Recovery

frustrated 2 We’ve all done it; accidentally deleted an important file. That document you’ve been working on for weeks is no longer in your document folder. Yikes!

The music collection you’ve spent years putting together, or that family photo album you’ve worked on for weeks – gone.

Back in the DOS days, we would just use the command Undelete, or one of its variations, but today the solution is so much simpler.

The easy solution to this problem that most of us can use, most of the time, is to simply restore the file from the Windows Recycle Bin. The Recycle Bin can be a life saver when a file has been accidentally deleted.

Normally, the deleted file sits in the Bin until you empty it, or restore the file. But what if the file has been permanently removed from the Bin, to make room for more recently deleted files for example, when the maximum size allocated in Recycle Bin properties has been exceeded?

All is not lost and here’s why: when a file is deleted from your Hard Drive, or portable media, what really gets deleted is the system link pointing towards the file, but not the file itself.

Surprisingly, it can often be relatively easy to retrieve the deleted file, or a good portion of the file, using specialized file recovery software, which takes advantage of this reality.

image

To enhance the possibility of recovering the deleted file, rapid action is a prime requirement. File recovery software has limitations, so once you have realized you have deleted that important file; do not write any more files to the drive until you can run the recovery program.

Pandora Recovery is a free recovery application, with a wizard driven interface, that makes file recovery just about as simple as it gets. In fact, Pandora Recovery is the file recovery application that I have come to rely on.

Those users who are unfamiliar with this type of application, will find the well written and instructive help file, particularly useful. As an added bonus, quick help links, make it easy for new, or casual computer users, to easily complete a task that can often be frustrating.

I’ve had good success with this small application recovering deleted files, and I recommend that all users’ consider adding Pandora Recovery to their toolbox. A good indication of the value of this small application is the 4 Star rating which this program has earned in CNET’s  user comments.

Fast facts:

Search Deleted Files

– Recovery of files whose MFT record has been reused by OS,

– Recovery of files from reformatted media,

– Recovery of files from discs with damaged or missing file allocation table.

Recover Archived, Hidden, Encrypted, Compressed files

Browse Deleted Files

Recover Alternate Data Streams (ADS)

Recover Images, Documents, Movies, or any other type of file

System Requirements: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2003 and Windows 2000, Windows 7

Download at: Download.com

If you enjoyed this article, 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.

2 Comments

Filed under computer repair, Deleted File Recovery, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Recover Deleted Files with Recover Files.exe Freeware

We’ve all done it; accidentally deleted an important file. That document you’ve been working on for weeks is no longer in your document folder. The music collection you’ve spent years putting together, or that family photo album you’ve worked on for weeks – gone.

The simple solution to this problem that most of us can use, most of the time, is to simply restore the file from the Windows Recycle Bin. The Recycle Bin can be a life saver when a file has been accidentally deleted.

Normally, the deleted file sits in the Bin until you empty the Bin, or restore the file. But what if the file has been permanently removed from the Bin, to make room for more recently deleted files when the maximum size allocated in Recycle Bin properties, has been exceeded.

All is not lost and here’s why: when a file is deleted from your Hard Drive, or portable media, what really gets deleted is the system link pointing towards the file, but not the file itself. Surprisingly, it can often be relatively easy to retrieve the deleted file, or a good portion of the file, using specialized file recovery software, which takes advantage of this reality.

To enhance the possibility of recovering the deleted file, rapid action is a prime requirement. File recovery software has limitations, so once you have realized you have deleted that important file; do not write any more files to drive until you can run the recovery program.

A free recovery application with a particularly helpful and instinctive interface, one the one that I use most frequently, is Recover Files.exe from UndeleteUnerase.com. Recovering files with this freeware program is as simple as launching the application, selecting the drive, and clicking on the analyze button.

Files that can be recovered, on that drive, are presented in an easy to understand format that includes the file Path, Status, Size, Date Created, Date Modified and a rating (from Overwritten to Very Good), as to the likelihood of recovery. Selecting the listed file to be recovered, clicking on the Undelete button begins the recovery process.

Those users, who are unfamiliar with this type of application, will find the well written and instructive help file, particularly useful.

I’ve had good success with this small application recovering deleted files, and I recommend that all users’ consider adding Recover Files.exe to their toolbox. Recover Files.exe has been awarded kudos by a substantial number of application review websites.

Quick facts:

Recover Files.exe can recover –

Files deleted bypassing Recycle Bin.

Files deleted even after you have emptied the Recycle Bin.

Files deleted accidentally from a network share.

Files deleted from the DOS command prompt.

Files deleted when you press Shift+Delete on the keyboard.

Files deleted when you use Move or Cut command.

Files deleted in other applications or by viruses.

Files from Hard drives

Files from Floppy disks

Files from Compact Flash, Smart Media, Multimedia and Secure Digital cards

Files from External USB Disk Drives

Files from Flash drives/Flash Memory

Files from Zip disks, Jazz disks

Supports FAT16, FAT32, NTFS and NTFS 5 file systems.

Performs non-destructive and read-only scan and file recovery.

Displays file name, type, size, date, and more.

Restores original create and modified file dates.

Supports Unicode and non-alphabet languages.

Filters files by name, extension, folder and file type.

System Requirements: Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista

Download at: Download.com

3 Comments

Filed under Free File Recovery Applications, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools