gizmo richards' support alert newsletter

"Gizmo's top picks of the best
tech resources and utilities"

 Free Edition
Issue 152, 13th December, 2007

If you have problems reading this newsletter in your email program you can read it online in your browser at http://techsupportalert.com/issues/al_current.htm

IN THIS FREE EDITION:

0. EDITORIAL - End of year reflections

                    Call for Help: Try Your Hand at Reviewing  - Please read

1. BEST TECH SITES AND RESOURCES FOR 2007
1.1 Two Christmas Gift Ideas
1.2 Converting Movie Clips to Send Via Email
1.3 How to Find a File on the Web
1.4 Vista Driver Site
1.5 Great Site for Removing Spyware Infection
1.6 Test Suspicious Files for Malware
1.7 Website Identifies Mystery Files
1.8 Check Web Link Safety
1.9 Recovering Data from a Corrupted Hard Drive
1.10 Make Firefox Look like Internet Explorer
1.11 How to Select the Best File Compression Program
1.12 How to Permanently Wipe a Hard Drive
1.13 Portable Software Lists
1.14 How Does Your Firewall Rate?
1.15 See How Your Anti-virus Program Stacks Up
1.16 More Free Software from Microsoft
1.17 How to Save YouTube and Other Streamed Video Files
1.18 More Free Support Sites

The Best Registry Cleaner Yet  (Sponsored link)

                    ** Additional items only in the Premium Edition **

1.19 How to Convert Normal Programs to Portable Software
1.20 Free Security Tools
1.21 How to Improve Your Wi-Fi Security
1.22 How to Download MP3 Audio from Youtube Videos
1.23 Thousands of Free Fonts
1.24 Free .ISO file burners from Microsoft
1.25 How to Generate a New Identity
1.26 The Best Collection of Free Software
1.27 How to Check Your Surfing Anonymity
1.28 Free Tutorials from Microsoft
1.29 How to Create Self-Destructing Email
1.30 Repair or Upgrade Your Laptop Yourself
1.31 Free Open Source Programs That Can Replace Commercial Software
1.32 Outstanding Site for Free Digital Photo Software

2. BEST FREEWARE AND SHAREWARE UTILITIES FOR 2007
2.1 Add Sticky Notes to Web Pages or Anything Else
2.2 Free Program Removes Ugly Wires from Your Digital Photos
2.3 Secunia Inspector Available as a Free Stand-alone Program
2.4 The Uninstaller You Have Been Waiting For
2.5 Free Remote Control Utility Offers Ease of Use
2.6 Recover Deleted Files from Digital Cameras and MP3 Players
2.7 Free Utility Copies Un-copyable Files
2.8 A Simple and Cheap Way to Get a Multi-Monitor Setup
2.9 Free Utility Removes Ads From Internet Explorer and More
2.10 Free Utility Preserves Desktop Icon Layout
2.11 Free Utility Backs Up Frequently Changed Files
2.12 Add Paste and Go Feature to Firefox
2.13 Better Manage Windows Startup
2.14 The Fastest BitTorrent Client Yet
2.15 The Best Free Program Launcher for Flash Drives

                   ** Additional items only in the Premium Edition **

2.16 Free Vista Features for XP Users
2.17 More Vista Features for XP Users
2.18 Excellent Free Program Minimizer
2.19 Nifty Free Tray Clock Solves Calendar Problem
2.20 The Best Free Audio and Video File Conversion Program
2.21 Free Audio File Tag Editor
2.22 Free CAD Software
2.23 Free Suite of Portable Data Recovery Tools
2.24 The Best Way to Surf Anonymously
2.25 Freeware Replacements for Excel and Visio
2.26 Free Utility Converts Video Files for iPod Use
2.27 Free Utility Lets You Easily Edit MP3 Files
2.28 Portable Games for Your USB Flash Drive
2.29 How to Get RoboForm Pro and ZoneAlarm Pro Suite for Free
2.30 Free Utility Hides Folders
2.31 Learn to Type While Playing Computer Games
2.32 Free Utilities That Make Your PC Run Faster
2.33 Free Utility Makes You Look More Attractive in Photos
3.0 MANAGING YOUR SUBSCRIPTION


0. EDITORIAL

This is the special end of year edition of Support Alert. It features my pick of the very best tech sites and utilities that have appeared in the newsletter throughout the year.

And what a year it has been for this newsletter. Subscriptions have now reached an amazing 145,000 for the combined free and paid versions. This is an extraordinary total for a one man newsletter though to be honest, this "one man" is now pretty much at the limit of his capacity.

The success of this newsletter is due to you dear subscribers. Not only have you offered your support by subscribing but by sending in hundreds of excellent software suggestions during the year many of which have which have filled the columns of this newsletter. I thank you all.

Finally at this time of year let us all give thanks to the Web's freeware authors. They, in the true spirit of the internet, do what they do simply for the pleasure of their craft and the pleasure of sharing. We are the beneficiaries.

To all of you, I wish peace, happiness and prosperity for 2008.

See you next month.

Gizmo
Ian Richards
editor@techsupportalert.com

P.S. In producing this newsletter during the year I have willingly and with pleasure given you hundreds of hours of my time. May I ask for a few seconds of yours in return?

Support Alert relies on voluntary donations to survive. If you feel that you've benefited from reading this newsletter during the year perhaps you might consider donating by subscribing to the premium "Supporters' Edition" of this newsletter.

The premium SE Edition contains almost twice the number of great tech sites, free utilities, tips and other content as the standard edition. It's also ad-free.

In fact, now is a GREAT time to subscribe as I'm offering a Christmas bonus. This month I'm giving away a free commercial software product to every fifth person who subscribes, while stocks last. I've got quite a pile here to give away so your chances of scoring a copy are excellent. Here's what's on offer:

Subscribe this month and if you get in early you'll have a 20% chance of winning one of the following:

- 3 copies of WebRoot SpySweeper V5.5 (Retail $29.95)

- 3 Copies of PC Tools Registry Mechanic V 7.0 (Retail $29.95)

- 6 copies of Eset NOD32 (Retail $39.00)

I use all of these outstanding products myself and consider them to be among the best in their class.

It's first-in, first served so subscribe now because once these products are gone, that's it.

Even if you don't win a prize you'll still get my special report "Gizmo's Desert Island Utilities" which outlines the software I consider most useful, including many free products. You'll also get the benefit of a 12-months subscription to the special enhanced Premium SE edition of this newsletter which contains almost twice the number of great tech sites and free utilities as the standard edition.  

Use the link below to subscribe now:

http://www.techsupportalert.com/se-edition.htm


Call for Help: Try Your Hand at Reviewing

I'm looking for experienced users to help with the "46 Best-ever Freeware" list.

The plan is to convert the list into a Wiki and allow site visitors to make suggestions and alterations along the line of WikiPedia.

For this to work, each software category needs an editor to moderate user comments, so I'm looking for experienced individuals to fill these roles.

If you feel that you are knowledgeable about a particular software category such as "program editors" or "disk encryption" then why not share your knowledge by becoming the editor for that category in the "46 Best-ever Freeware list."

As a category editor you will be fully credited for your efforts, unless, of course, you wish to remain anonymous. It's a great way to get your 15 minutes of fame. It's also a way of becoming an internet "giver" rather than just a "taker". And you will be surprised at just how much you will learn from the suggestions of others; I certainly have.

Already nearly 30 subscribers have volunteered but more are needed. If you are interested check out the list of still-vacant categories here [1] and select the categories that you would like to edit.

Then email me at editor@techsupportalert.com with your selections plus a very short description of your background and experience. If you have any commercial affiliations related to any of the categories, please state them.

Feel free to select as many categories as you like or to suggest a new software category if you feel it is needed.

Thanks guys.

[1] http://techsupportalert.com/allocation.htm


1. BEST TECH SITES AND RESOURCES FOR 2007

1.1 Two Christmas Gift Ideas

If you enjoy your Support Alert subscription why not share the good news and send a friend a gift subscription to the Premium Edition? At $10 it's an economical Christmas gift and one the receiver will thank you for every time they receive a monthly issue. You can set up your gift subscription here [1] in a couple of minutes.

And here's another low cost gift. Subscriber Amber Carvan operates a wonderful children's craft site featuring simple projects that small children can make using common household materials. Amber offers this information for free but you can support her efforts by buying her printable $5 mini-book [2] filled with tons of craft ideas. Projects include advent calendars, Christmas cards, gift tags, decorations, fun and games and more. It's a perfect way to creatively amuse children over the holiday period and it's in support of an excellent cause.

[1] http://www.techsupportalert.com/gift-subscription.htm
[2] http://kidscraftweekly.com/christmas_craft.html

1.2 Converting Movie Clips to Send Via Email
Subscriber Joe Morice recently wrote asking how he could convert a 40 MB .avi video file to one less than 5MB for emailing. I replied that I didn't think it be done without serious loss in quality. Joe proved me wrong. He converted his 40 MB .avi to a 3.2 MB .mp4 using the free online conversion service at Zamzar [1] with little loss in quality when viewed on a PC. He even sent me links to the original and compressed files to prove it. Nice find, Joe. The Zamzar site is going from strength and is now a mandatory first stop when converting any file format to another.
[1] http://www.zamzar.com

1.3 How to Find a File on the Web
Sometimes you need to find a specific file on the web such as abcdef.zip. Google is always a good starting point but I usually have more luck with these FTP search engines.
http://www.filewatcher.com
http://www.metaftp.com/

1.4 Vista Driver Site
Here's a nice find: a site that list all Vista drivers as they become available, with direct download links to the drivers. It's free and updated daily.
http://www.radarsync.com/vista

1.5 Great Site for Removing Spyware Infection
If you suspect you have a spyware infection you should download the free HiJackThis! utility from here [1], then run it and paste the generated log to a security forum where experienced users can help you interpret the results. I normally recommend the Tom Coyote forums [2] for this purpose, but subscriber "John" suggests a smaller site run by Tom Mercado because: "if a user posts their HiJackThis! log in this forum [3] they get help within minutes or hours compared to the bigger sites that can take days." I tried it out anonymously and John is totally correct. Better bookmark this site, you might need it.
[1] http://www.spywareinfo.com/~merijn/programs.php
[2] http://www.tomcoyote.org/hjt/
[3] http://temerc.com/phpBB2

1.6 Test Suspicious Files for Malware
It's a good practice to run any file you download (or borrow) through a free web based file testing service that will check it for malware using multiple anti-virus and spyware engines. Here are two of my favorites: Jotti [1] currently uses 20 different anti-virus scanners, while Virus Total [2] uses 32! Using one of these services can't guarantee that a file is 100% free of malware, but it's a lot safer than installing an unknown program on the blind faith that it's OK.
[1] http://virusscan.jotti.org/
[2] http://www.virustotal.com/flash/index_en.html

1.7 Website Identifies Mystery Files
Usually you can identify the program you need to open a file by the file type, but what if it hasn't got one? This free service allows you to upload the file and have it identified. I tied it with a PDF file with the .pdf extension removed and it worked just fine. Thanks to subscriber Christian Dorfmair for the suggestion.
http://mark0.net/onlinetrid.aspx

1.8 Check Web Link Safety
Type in a web link at this site and they will scan to see if the website is hostile. Use this free service when someone sends you a link that you don't quite trust.
http://linkscanner.explabs.com/linkscanner/checkstep.asp

1.9 Recovering Data from a Corrupted Hard Drive
Data recovery is a very complex issue with many different kinds of problems and many possible solutions. However I was impressed by this detailed guide that shows you how you can use a Knoppix live CD to recover data from a Windows disk. It's not the only solution of its kind but the excellent instructions make it worth bookmarking.
http://www.shockfamily.net/cedric/knoppix/

1.10 Make Firefox Look like Internet Explorer
Why would you want to do this? Because it's a clever way to wean change-resistant users away from IE.
http://johnhaller.com/jh/mozilla/firefox_internet_explorer/

1.11 How to Select the Best File Compression Program
In issue #186 [1] I mentioned KGB, an archiving program that can compress text files down much smaller than many popular archivers though it takes a lot time and computing power in the process. This prompted subscriber Erik Wasberg to write in about a site called maximumcompression.com [2] that compares dozens of different archivers on the basis of compression efficiency, resource usage and time taken across various file types. This outstanding site is essential reading for those who needs to archive large amounts of data or indeed, anyone who has a general interest in file compression.
[1] http://techsupportalert.com/issues/issue146.htm#Section_2.2
[2] http://www.maximumcompression.com

1.12 How to Permanently Wipe a Hard Drive
Most users are aware they can securely erase files and drives using free utilities like "Eraser" [1] and "Boot and Nuke" [2] that overwrite the data multiple times. At this site [3], suggested by subscriber Chris Price, they show how you can securely wipe a drive using a little-known feature built into many hard drives.
[1] http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/
[2] http://dban.sourceforge.net/
[3] http://blogs.zdnet.com/storage/?p=129&tag=nl.e622

1.13 Portable Software Lists
There are lots of these lists; none is complete but here are two of the best. The first covers free software while the second includes commercial products as well.
http://www.portablefreeware.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_portable_software

1.14 How Does Your Firewall Rate?
At this site they test all the major firewalls using leak-tests. Now outbound leak-testing is only one criterion for assessing firewall performance indeed some would argue that inbound protection is more important. My view is that both are important as are user friendliness, resource usage, software compatibility and resistance to termination by hostile agents. That said Online Armor, Comodo, Jetico and ZoneAlarm Pro top he list while the Microsoft XP SP2 firewall get the wooden spoon. ZoneAlarm free was another notable poor performer.
http://www.matousec.com/projects/windows-personal-firewall-analysis/leak-tests-results.php

1.15 See How Your Anti-virus Program Stacks Up
In my April 2007 Editorial [1] I rated some of the most popular free and commercial AV scanners. Since then I've located an excellent additional data source [2] for assessing AV performance. It's a near real-time listing of how well the major scanners detect new threats identified by the Malware Incident Reporting & Termination (MIRT) team. The results support my previous findings namely the class-leading new threat detection rate of AntiVir and the relatively poor performance of AVG and Avast! with Kaspersky and NOD32 falling in the middle. Perhaps more important than the product ranking, is the relatively poor performance of ALL products in detecting new threats. This reinforces the point I have been making in recent issues that you can no longer rely exclusively on signature based anti malware products to protect you from the current onslaught of new threats. That said, it should be noted that the detection of new threats is only one of several criteria you need to consider when assessing the performance of AV products. See my April [1] editorial for more details.
[1] http://techsupportalert.com/issues/issue144.htm#Section_0
[2] http://winnow.oitc.com/malewarestats.php

1.16 More Free Software from Microsoft
Blogger Blake Handler has sent me two interesting links. The first is to a set of free Vista programs and accessories from Microsoft [1] and the second to free Office 2007 software [2]. There is some nice stuff listed. 
[1] http://bhandler.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!70F64BC910C9F7F3!1844.entry

[2] http://bhandler.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!70F64BC910C9F7F3!1822.entry

1.17 How to Save YouTube and Other Streamed Video Files
There are lots of ways to do this but one of the easiest is to use the free KeepVid web service. Just paste the video link into the KeepVid site [1] and then download the video to your PC as an avi file, Flash file (flv) or as an MP4 for your iPod or PSP. Firefox users have another easy option by using the free DownloadHelper extension [2] that allows you to save YouTube, MySpace, Google videos, DailyMotion, Porkolt, iFilm, DreamHost and many other streams by simply clicking the special DownloadHelper toolbar icon. Thanks to Hopper for the latter suggestion.
[1] http://keepvid.com/
[2] http://www.downloadhelper.net/

1.18 More Free Support Sites
Subscriber Richard Yores writes, "Gizmo, just about the friendliest tech support forum I've seen on the net is CyberTechHelp [1]. Most user problems are answered quickly including analysis of HijackThis logs." I agree, Richard. It's both friendly and active. So too is D-A-L Computer Help [2], another forum-based support site. I suggest you try both the next time you have a PC problem.
[1] http://www.cybertechhelp.com/forums/
[2] http://www.d-a-l.com/index.php

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**
Additional items only in the Premium Edition **

1.19 How to Convert Normal Programs to Portable Software

1.20 Free Security Tools

1.21 How to Improve Your Wi-Fi Security
1.22 How to Download MP3 Audio from Youtube Videos

1.23 Thousands of Free Fonts

1.24 Free .ISO file burners from Microsoft

1.25 How to Generate a New Identity

1.26 The Best Collection of Free Software

1.27 How to Check Your Surfing Anonymity

1.28 Free Tutorials from Microsoft

1.29 How to Create Self-Destructing Email

1.30 Repair or Upgrade Your Laptop Yourself

1.31 Free Open Source Programs That Can Replace Commercial Software

1.32 Outstanding Site for Free Digital Photo Software

2. BEST FREEWARE AND SHAREWARE UTILITIES FOR 2007

2.1 Add Sticky Notes to Web Pages or Anything Else
Subscriber Christian Hess Araya writes "Gizmo in issue #149 you mentioned the Firefox extension Internote that allows you to attach notes to webpages so that when you revisit the page the sticky note is automatically displayed. I'd like to let you know about Stickies [1], a free utility, will let you do the very same thing, not limited to webpages but to *any* open window. That makes it so much more useful, IMHO." When I first received this message from Christian I wasn't sure that Stickies would display a note when you re-visited a webpage but it sure does - it remembers the window title. Freeware, Windows 95 and later, 953KB
http://www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/stickies/

2.2 Free Program Removes Ugly Wires from Your Digital Photos
If you take a lot of digital photos you will really appreciate this free utility suggested by subscriber Ken De Pree. Wire Pilot is photo retouching software, available as a stand-alone program or Photoshop plug-in, that's specially designed to allow the easy removal of unsightly wires, poles, antennas and other linear objects from your digital photos. I found it worked particularly well where the background behind the wire or pole you wanted to remove was sky, snow or other untextured surface. In these circumstances Wire Pilot was quicker to use than Photoshop's own tools and the results were just as good. The results with textured backgrounds were not quite as acceptable and clearly looked "processed." That reservation aside, this is a really useful free tool that can greatly improve the appearance of some of your favorite digital snapshots. You can either download the stand-alone program or a plug-in that works with Photoshop, Photoshop Elements 4, Jasc Paint Shop Pro, Corel PHOTO-PAINT, Macromedia Fireworks or XnView. Freeware, Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, 1.9MB.
http://www.colorpilot.com/wire.html

2.3 Secunia Inspector now Available as a Free Stand-alone Program
In recent months I've urged all readers to scan their PCs regularly using the free Secunia online Software Inspector Service [1]. It's a terrific product that identifies software with known security defects on your PC and tells you where you can get the latest patches and updates. Now Secunia has released a downloadable version that runs on your PC rather than from their website. According to Secunia, it looks for and checks "4,200 different applications", while "the web-based Secunia Software Inspector only detected around 40." Unlike the online service, it also checks for products that have reached the end of their life and are no longer being supported. It's currently only a beta and has a few bugs. On my PC it detected several products that had already been patched and insisted on evoking Internet Explorer for update downloads rather than my default browser Firefox. That aside, it detected nine software packages with flaws and another eleven that were obsolete, all of which were missed by the online service. Am I impressed? You bet! This is a mandatory download even though there are bugs. Many readers will be shocked by the number of flawed software packages on their PC which are revealed by this product. Beta software free for non-commercial uses, Windows 2000 SP4, XP SP2, 2003, 5.3MB.
[1] http://secunia.com/software_inspector/
[2] https://psi.secunia.com/

2.4 The Uninstaller You Have Been Waiting For

Sooner or later every user encounters the situation where they try a program, decide they don't want it, and proceed to uninstall it only to find the uninstall goes wrong, or worse still, no uninstall program was included with the original program.

Normal uninstall utilities are of little help in this situation. That's because they work by taking a snapshot of your system before and after installing a software product and use the difference to uninstall that product if required. This is a useful capability but its weakness is that the uninstaller program must actively monitor every software product you install. Often this is not the case.

Revo is an uninstaller that works differently. It can uninstall a program without the need to monitor its installation. It works by automatically doing what an experienced user would do manually. It removes all the program's files, autostart entries and removes all obvious registry entries.

This process can never be better than an inspired guess, but it's sure better than nothing at all. I ran some tests by getting Revo to uninstall a product whose installation I had monitored using ZSoft Uninstaller, a before and after uninstaller.
By and large Revo did a fine job, though not quite as good as a skilled user would do manually. There were still some remains left over, notably files stored in the user/local settings folder.

That said, the leftover files did no harm other than take up disk space, and they certainly would not interfere with the normal operation of the PC.

Note that when you ask Revo to uninstall a program, it first looks for the product's uninstall program and will run that program if it is found. Only if the search fails will it try to remove files and registry entries itself.

Note, too, that Revo can also act as a before and after uninstaller, but frankly this is not its forte. The freeware utility ZSoft Uninstaller [2] is a better choice for this particular application.

Overall I was very impressed by Revo. It is the only freeware product I know of that will make a decent job of cleaning up a failed install. It's not perfect in its un-installation, but it does a fine job in the circumstances and offers a lifeline to average users. Next time you encounter a failed uninstall, remember Revo. You will be glad you did. Thanks to subscriber Dieter Callens for the suggestion. Freeware, Windows 2000-Vista, 1.27MB.

[1] http://www.revouninstaller.com/
[2] http://www.zsoft.dk/

2.5 Free Remote Control Utility Offers Ease of Use
I'm impressed with CrossLoop. It's the easiest way yet to remotely control a distant PC. Before you get your hopes up, let me say that it is no substitute for products like LogMeIn or PCAnywhere, both of which allow you to login to a remote PC without anyone in attendance. By contrast, CrossLoop absolutely requires someone at the other end. If you can live with that limitation, CrossLoop may just what you have been looking for. It works like this: The user on the remote PC runs CrossLoop and generates a random 12 digit key which they send to you by email, phone, whatever. You plug this key into a copy of CrossLoop running on your own PC and request a connection with the remote. If the remote user accepts the connection you then can take control of the remote PC and operate it through your keyboard and screen. At all times the user at the remote sees on his screen exactly what is happening. That's pretty much standard remote computing, but it is the ease of use that makes CrossLoop different. No complex commands or firewall configuration are needed, just the ability to follow simple on-screen instructions. CrossLoop is really a smart front-end to the open source utility TightVNC. It supports 128 bit Blowfish encrypted connections and unlike the free version of LogMeIn, allows for two-way file transfers between the client and host PCs. Unlike Windows Remote Desktop, it will run on any PC from Windows 98 onwards. Just the thing for helping a friend with a PC problem, remote support or remote user training. Thanks to subscriber Mike Pasternack for the suggestion. Freeware, Windows 98 and later, 2.28MB
http://www.crossloop.com

2.6 Recover Deleted Files from Digital Cameras and MP3 Players
There are several free utilities that can recover files accidentally deleted from hard drives but I've long been seeking one that works with files accidentally deleted from flash memory in digital cameras, MP3 players or USB drives.
Thanks to a suggestion from subscriber Adam Smithee that search is now over. Recuva is a free utility from the makers of the highly regarded CCleaner. Not only does it recover files deleted from flash memory it also works for hard drives as well.
Recuva of course cannot undelete files that have been written over or are stored in physically damaged sectors. However its ideal for recovering those precious holiday photos immediately after you accidentally erased them. Free beta, Windows 98-Vista, 211KB.
http://www.recuva.com/

2.7 Free Utility Copies Un-copyable Files
Recent I had to transfer several hundred megabytes of media files from one large external drive to another. With Windows Copy the job just kept crashing. I tried the venerable but still effective XXCopy [1] but it fared no better. I then remembered a utility called Unstoppable Copier that had been recommended by subscriber George Rakocsi that I had never got around to checking out. It seemed the perfect tool for the job. According to the website Unstoppable Copier "allows you to copy files from disks with problems such as bad sectors, scratches or that just give errors when reading data. The program will attempt to recover every readable piece of a file and put the pieces together. Using this method most types of files can be made useable even if some parts were not recoverable in the end." Well I'm pleased to say Unstoppable Copier worked perfectly. As it turns out just one file was corrupted out of the 2700 files on the disk and that's what was causing Windows Copy to fail. After that incident do you think I'm going to recommend Unstoppable Copier? You bet and not only for problem copying but for recovering partly corrupted files as well. It's just the thing for getting your information off scratched CDs and DVDs, aging floppies and failing hard drives. Don't expect it to perform miracles though; some disks are just too physically damaged to allow data recovery. Freeware, All Windows versions, 67KB.
[1] http://www.xxcopy.com/index.htm
[2] http://www.roadkil.net/unstopcp.html

2.8 A Simple and Cheap Way to Get a Multi-Monitor Setup
Imagine working on a spreadsheet and you want more width to see the whole spreadsheet. Wouldn't it be nice if you could drag the right hand side of the spreadsheet window all the way to the right onto a second monitor alongside your main monitor? Well that's exactly what you can do with a neat shareware program called MaxiVista [1]. Regular contributor Lex Davidson has prepared an excellent review and this now available online [2]. He's really impressed and so am I. I use a multi-monitor / multi-PC setup all the time and can attest that it really improves my productivity. If you have an old PC lying around this could be the perfect use for it. Commercial software, from $29.95, free 14 day limited feature trial, Windows 2000, XP, 1.81MB
[1] http://www.maxivista.com/
[2] http://www.techsupportalert.com/review-maxvista.htm

2.9 Free Utility Removes Ads From Internet Explorer and More
Firefox users can effectively remove ads from web pages using the excellent free Ad-Block extension but there has been no comparable free add-on for Internet Explorer. Until now, that is.
IE7Pro not only provides ad blocking but tab management, proxy switching, mouse gestures and more including a very valuable crash recovery feature. There's even a Firefox GreaseMonkey-like scripting feature that allows you to add more functionality such as a rather neat skin for Gmail.
Hey with all these additional features you can convert IE7 into an almost passable alternative to Firefox ;>)
Seriously, IE7Pro is a terrific product and a must for all IE7 users. In fact it's so good that I suspect the pressure to convert it to a commercial product may well prove irresistible so download it now while it's free.
http://www.ie7pro.com/ Freeware, Internet Explorer 7, 985KB.

2.10 Free Utility Preserves Desktop Icon Layout
Ever installed a new program or changed your screen resolution only to discover your precious desktop icon layout has been scrambled? Restore Desktop 2.0 is a tiny little utility that allows you to easily reset you desktop back to your preferred layout. Just select the restore option from the right click context menu and all your icons will be instantly returned to where they belong. It will even restore your icons to their correct position relative to the screen edges when you change screen resolution. Freeware, Windows 98 and later, 78KB. NOTE: After I published this newsletter it looks like the developers have switched the link below [1] to a sales page for one of their shareware products. However I managed to find an alternative link [2] Click on the file size to download.
[1] http://www.softwarium.com/rdwin.html
[2] http://web.archive.org/web/20060127002359/www.softwarium.com/windownloads.html

2.11 Free Utility Backs Up Frequently Changed Files
Most users have learned to regularly save documents while they are creating them. While this prevents you from losing your work, it has the disadvantage that each time you save you write over the previous version and so can't go back to an early revision. You can get around this by using different file names each time you save but an easier way is to use the free FileHampster program that automatically time stamps and stores copies each time you save. Furthermore, it allows you to annotate each copy so that your revision versions are fully documented. I tried it and it works well though I suggest you watch the quick start tutorial before using. There are some nice plug-ins too, including one that allows you to use a third party dif program such as WinMerge to view the differences between versions. Overall I was quite impressed. Yes, there are other programs around that perform a similar task but FileHampster is as powerful as any yet is among the easiest to use. Freeware, Windows 2000 and later with .NET V2.0 Framework, 1.1MB
http://www.mogware.com/FileHamster/

2.12 Add Paste and Go Feature to Firefox
One of the many great features in the Opera Browser is the way it loads a site automatically when you paste the URL into the address box. The same applies to search, just paste the search term and the search runs automatically without the need to hit "Enter" or the Search button. Paste and Go [1] is a Firefox extension that gives you similar functionality in Firefox. It's not quite as elegant as the Opera implementation in that you need to use Shift Ctrl V to paste and go rather than just Ctrl V but, nonetheless, it will save you time every day. A related Firefox extension is Linkification. This allows you to highlight a text-only link in a web page and then use the right click context menu to open the link in a new tab or window.
[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/3035/
[2] https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/190/

2.13 Better Manage Windows Startup
Startup Delayer is a free utility that allows you to speed up your Windows startup by delaying the startup of non essential programs until Windows has loaded. The idea is quite sound. At startup many application programs try to run in a short period of time and in the process push your CPU to the limit. By delaying the onset of non-essential programs, resources are freed and thus Windows itself can start more quickly. That means your desktop comes up quicker and you can get on with your work with less delay. I tried it on my PC and managed to reduce the time for the desktop to be usable from 85 seconds to around 65 seconds. Not a lot but worthwhile if you reboot often. Thanks to subscriber Steven Hodge for the suggestion. Freeware, Windows 98->XP, 1.1MB
http://www.r2.com.au/software.php?page=2&show=startdelay

2.14 The Fastest BitTorrent Client Yet

BitTyrant V1.1 is a hot-rodded version of the popular Open Source BitTorrent client Azureus V2.5.
The modification is fiendishly clever. While most clients only consider the number of peers available for downloading, BitTyrant also considers the capacity of each peer and the data rate required to ensure reciprocation. It then utilizes this information using a dynamic algorithm to send only to the highest capacity peers data at the minimum rate for them to reciprocate.

In plain English this translates to your downloads running faster, much faster; around 65% on my tests.
Now, the standard Azureus client may be one of the most full featured clients available but it's certainly not the fastest kid on the block. With the BitTyrant mods, though, it's a speed demon. In fact, it's the fastest client I've tried.

Here's the downside:

First, this kind of mod breaks down some of the fairness characteristics of the BitTorrent protocol. If you are not comfortable with that then don't use BitTyrant.

Second, the standard Azureus client is updated regularly but there is no guarantee that BitTyrant will be kept up-to-date with the latest version. The authors of Azureus may even knobble the product to prevent the mod.

That said, the current V1.1 version of BitTyrant based on Azureus V2.5 is the fastest BitTorrent client yet.
Freeware, all Windows versions plus other operating systems, 8.11MB.
http://bittyrant.cs.washington.edu/

2.15 The Best Free Program Launcher for Flash Drives
When I mentioned in a previous issue that I use the PortableApps program launcher [1] for my USB drive I received a whole batch of emails from subscribers suggesting PStart [2] as an alternative launcher. I tied it and it is an excellent product. It's far more configurable than the PortableApps launcher and more like a full replacement for the Windows Start menu than simply a flash drive program launcher. It has many useful features, including full support for relative paths. This notable feature allows some semi-portable apps to work correctly when used on various PCs on which the assigned USB flash drive letter is different than the drive letter the application expects. PStart also supports symbolic place-holders, such as %windows%, that allow you to start an application installed on the host, such as Notepad, even though you don't know exactly where Windows is installed on that PC. PStart also supports program launch parameters, backup and restore, customizable icons, PStart's own appearance and much more. It's all very impressive and I have no hesitation in saying PStart is a much more powerful and fully featured product than the Portable Apps launcher. Frankly, though, this is not of much use to average users. To use most of PStart's many features you need a degree of technical knowledge. Without that you won't benefit from PStart's capabilities. Indeed, you may well be inconvenienced. For example, the Portable Apps launcher allows an application that has been downloaded from the Portable Apps site to be installed more or less automatically. Not so with PStart; each program has to be configured individually. These qualifications aside, Pstart is a top recommendation for experienced users and those who are technically minded. Other users will be better served by Portable Apps. PStart: Freeware, Windows 2000->XP, U3 and non-U3 versions available, 768KB
[1] http://portableapps.com/
[2] http://www.pegtop.net/start/

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2.16 Free Vista Features for XP Users

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2.24 The Best Way to Surf Anonymously

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2.27 Free Utility Lets You Easily Edit MP3 Files

2.28 Portable Games for Your USB Flash Drive

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See you next issue. It will be published on Thursday the 24th of January 2008.

Gizmo
Ian Richards
editor@techsupportalert.com