Most days, I try to add a new entry to our ever-growing collection of Hot Finds. But some days, as you'll have noticed, nothing appears. Does this mean that I'm having a day off? Not usually, no. Well, not unless we're talking about the past couple of weeks, during which I moved to a new office and was thus without easy internet access for a few days.
But normally, if I don't post a new entry, the reason is simple. Of all the freeware programs and web sites that have been recommended to me, nothing that I've looked at today is considered to be of good enough quality to recommend to you. And I'd rather not post anything at all, than to post something which I shouldn't really be recommending.
Take, for example, a web site that was suggested to me recently. It allows you to enter a message, and to specify a date. That message will then be sent on the specified date, via the method of your choosing. You can choose email, SMS, or twitter. And in the case of Twitter, this means that you need to tell the site your Twitter username and password in order that it can send the message on your behalf when the time comes.
A useful service? Yes, probably, so I spent some time checking it out. Turns out that the system is written by a High School student who, by his own admission, is still learning to make web sites. Regardless of how useful the service might be, I'd hate to think what would happen if it was hacked. That database of Twitter usernames and passwords is an obvious target. So, my story about the site was never published.
A few days later, another recommendation reached my electronic suggestion box, from a reader called Anatoly. This time, for a freeware Windows media player called Quux. As I always do, I checked out Tech Support Alert to ensure that we hadn't already featured the product. And as it happens, we had. Or at least, one of our users had mentioned it in passing, saying how great it was. In reply, other users had said that it wasn't happy under Windows 7, and that it wouldn't handle more than 1000 tracks.
So, is Quux a great program or not? Clearly I needed to check it out. And, do you know what? It is indeed a great program.
Sure, it's minimal in its look and feel. You can't download skins for it, or customise it in any meaningful way. It's just a simple Windows media player, but it's small, lightweight, fast, and easy to use. The slogan for Quux goes "Life's too short for iTunes", and I know just what the developers mean! This app is open source, free, and just a 1.4 MB download (plus .NET Framework 3.5 if you don't have it).
Contrary to what was said in our forums, it runs just fine on Windows 7, and it happily coped with the many thousands of MP3 files that I happen to have in my library. It does all the normal stuff, like creating playlists. It also detects duplicate files, which is useful, and it auto-categorizes your tracks too. I wonder how many people, apart from me, have albums that end up under "Medical Comedy"?
So, if you're still looking for a great music player under Windows XP or above, give Quux a try. You might like it. I certainly did. It's at www.quuxplayer.com.
There's a brand of canned fish, here in the UK where I'm based, called John West. In the 1980s, their advertising slogan was "It's the fish John West reject, that makes John West salmon the best". They wouldn't get away with it nowadays, as there would (quite rightly) be a public outcry at the thought of wasting so much fish in order to create a premium product. But in the case of Hot Finds, it's perfectly true.
So I'm off fishing again, right now. You'll hear from me next when I've caught something tasty, and not before.