Killer Apps, Tweaks & Important Updates!
Sticky clutter reduction note: Killer Apps/ Tips n tricks and important updates threads merged -Astro
Some of the most valued software on my pc are freeware/shareware apps. Not having 3rd party apps to 'right windows wrongs' would be sad indeed....although MS is trying their best, with LiveOneCare and the like...
Just a few RULES for in here:
*PLEASE restrict this discussion to freeware/shareware apps, as we dont want this to become an advertising thread!!
*ONLY link to freeware/shareware sites. Do NOT directly link to another forum. Feel free to mention it and what it can help with :)
*If you really really want to mention a commercial program(as a comparison for example), mention it by name(do not link to it) and mention that is isnt free.
* * *
These are my all time faves. Im interested in hearing about others' fave apps and what they're good for.
My ALL TIME number one 'killer app' is Network Magic. I have a mildly complicated wired+wireless 802.11b/g network and was having alot of grief with the ridiculous windows 'wizards' in xp. This app turned up in a pc magazine and I gave it ago.....It does all the work configuring your modem and suddenly all your devices become apparent :) It also flawlessly integrated my PDA and PSP when I had them and even played nicely with Vista machines that were thrown into the mix. Here's a screenie of my home network. Highly recommended. Give the free version a trial if youre interested :)
Second is Avast Antivirus. After living in misery for years with Norton Bloatware Security I went in search of of lighter app that could achieve the task. I came across avast :) It's great, totally free(home edition) and updates program and virus definitions *very* regularly...which is something you have to pay for in most other proggies. Great for home users IMO. Integrates with outlook/exchange which is very useful to me, and is skinnable !! (has a great looking vista or mac-style skin)
of course I will quickly mention the great freeware proggies Ad-Aware and Spybot though most tech-heads will know about these already :)
as for fave sites I can never go past Videohelp as the ULTIMATE resource for info and guides about multimedia tools and conversions.
For system builders, I cant start project without plugging specs into eXtreme Outervision's Power Supply Calculator
NegSun - Edit: Now comes a comprehensive and alphabetical list of all the programs/sites that have been mentioned in this thread, enjoy :)
AlienGUIse Desktop Theme Manager
Any Video Converter
ATI Tray Tools
DynAdvance Email Notifier
eXtreme Outervision's Power Supply Calculator
Free Hide Folders
"Get n Set affinity"
Giveaway of the Day
K-Lite Codec Pack
Koepi's XviD Codec
Media Player Classic
MicroAngelo Icon Editor
QuickTime Alternative Lite
RAD Video Tools
Real Alternative Lite
RealVNC - Virtual Network Computing
Sysinternals Monitoring Utilities
Task List Programs
The Core Media Player
The Open CD
Vista Codec Pack & Vista x64 components
Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions
VLC media player
XP Codec Pack
TCP Optimizer- Good for speeding up network connections
VirtualDub- Free program to encode video (mainly AVIs) with whatever codecs are on your system
VirtualDubMod- Has some features VirtualDub does not, this is the program I usually use for encoding
ObjectDock- OSX-like dock for Windows
Koepi's XviD Codec- Allows you to play XviD, MPEG, and DivX movies, as well as encode XviD movies
Real Alternative Lite- Yay for playing RealMedia files without RealPlayer
QuickTime Alternative Lite- Yay for playing QuickTime files and being able to play MP3s, etc in Firefox without installing QuickTime
Media Player Classic- Lightweight media player with a ****load of features that uses very little memory and plays anything you have a codec for
KeyTweak - Keyboard Remapper (Freeware)
I'm shameless. :xp:
DynAdvance Email Notifier - Tray application for getting notifications from MSN, Yahoo!, and Google email accounts. (Shareware)
MicroAngelo Icon Editor - A very nice icon editor. (Shareware)
Sysinternals Monitoring Utilities - This site has a slew of monitoring utilities including FileMon, RegMon, DiskMon, PortMon... (Freeware)
Google Earth - Who doesn't love having the globe on your PC? (Freeware)
Email Effects - An excellent ASCII art generator. (Nag-ware)
Here are a bunch of the freeware applications I use fairly often:
The only things I can think of are:
WavePad, great program to edit and convert audio files without to much hassle, cut annoying sounds out or edit a song to make it you ringtone for example...
AlienGUIse Desktop Theme Manager, an absolutely free desktop theme manager with 4 different themes and icon packages, looks very cool and is very easy to use...
I use AVG, is it just as good as Avast Antivirus?
@stoffe - Irfan View !! yes. lite imager viewer. Ive been using it for years and eben though Ive got a decent system I cant go past it... I like apps that are quick loading, versatile and easy to use. I wish theyd change their main icon...what is that red thing!??
I supposed it couldn't hurt to have an extra antivirus program installed...
Avast also does the following on less resources than AVG takes to run.
Web Access scanner (scans incoming internet trafic for viruses and malware)
Internet email scanner (as the name suggests)
network scanner (scans incoming network trafic for viruses and malware)
Residential on Access scanner (scans everyfile you access for viruses and will stop you from opening one if it contains a virus)
excange/outlook scanner (you get the picture by now
web browser Firefox
email program Mozilla Thunderbird
alternative browser Lolifox - firefox based browser for anime fans
windows hacks (sorta)
boot skin, logon studio - both free: they let your replace your default boot screen, and logon screen respectively.
all my other programs people have linked to already as no sense in mentioning them
RAM-Booster- this app does a number of things for the RAM with its chief advantage of just simply doing a better job of freeing up RAM for memory hungry apps than Windows can. if you have 1.5GB of RAM or more, you won't see much of a difference at all. however, if you're under that level, you can notice a slight difference in how your computer runs.
FRAPS- the ultimate gaming benchmark tool. its free, easy to use, and it doesn't use much RAM. i use it for benchmarking the framerate in most of my games, and i also use it for screenshots. you can also record your gaming session onto video straight to .WMV format.
Maxthon Just a web browser. :) I tried firefox again recently, I really gave it an honest chance, but in the end I just went back to Maxthon.
I can't live without Mouse gestures, Web groups, easy tabbed browsing( I know firefox has tabbed browsing but I find it clucky in comparison)can't beat click and drag links to open them in a new tab, Quick button to turn on and off the pop-up and addblocking wich some safe sites don't like.
Winamp Need I say more.
The others I would have mentioned have already been mentioned :)
I guess I forgot those 2. but I do notice some difference when runing over 900 MB of ram usaged but unitll you hit that level with rambooster you really can't tell.
the core media player free media player that plays pretty much any vidieo type including ogm and mkv
K-lite codec free all in one codec pack
oh, and since we're talking about cool tech sites: Tom's Hardware- its where i get a lot of my hardware info. their product reviews are done from a purely objective standpoint. in other words, they do a lot of different benchmarks to test things out and then offer an excellent explanation as to the various outcomes. great website if you're looking for hardware info and recommendations that are absent of any fanboy bias.
Most of my "Killer Apps" have already been listed, but some others are:
TreeSize Professional - A good app to show how much of your memory is where. It is complete with charts and such, to show just which part of your hard drive is taking up the most space. A very nifty tool.
uTorrent - A brilliant bitTorrent client that does what most others do. Its added bonus is that it is unbelievably tiny in size and takes up hardly any RAM.
The GIMP - The GIMP is a modest little program with capabilities parallel to Photoshop. It has a steep learning curve and is a resource hog, but its a good thing when you don't have the sort of money Photoshop needs.
Terragen - The tried and true photorealistic scenery generator.
RAD Video Tools - A helpful app to convert Bink and Smacker format videos vice-versa. Great for playing most video-game FMV sequences out of the game.
Unfortunately the link I'm posting does have an advert to a program, but that's not the intention ;)
What is very helpful about the site is that it contains an indexed, alphabetical list of Task List Programs.. you know, those often un-decipherable 'codenames' for background processes (svchost.exe, systray, cidaemon, etc.) ;)
The list tells you exactly what those funky named files are :D
I know it's not really a "program" but I didn't think this site was worth a thread, especially since it mentions a pay program, TUT...
Just posting about the index, ignore the prog.. hehehe...
Power Menu - Power Menu is a small application that adds "Always On Top", "Minimize To Tray", "Priority" and "Transparency" sub menus to all top level system menus.
Unlocker - Unlocker overrides window's 'this file can not be deleted because it is being used by another program' type errors
Taskbar Shuffle - Reorder the programs/buttons on your taskbar exactly how you like.
CCleaner A good registry and privacy cleaning tool.
Foobar2000 - an advanced audio player for the Windows platform
VLC media player Will play any type of media you want to throw at it.
IZArc - A great compression utility IMHO
Diskeeper is bad for you!!!
Giveaway of the Day is a site that lets you download a program for free that would otherwise cost you money, today's app is a good one if you're interested!
The thing that I really love is "Site Advisor" by McAfee...it is a free program that can be added to your browser (Firefox I think you have to get it off of Mozilla add-ons, but I'm not sure). This little tool helps you stay away from possibly dangerous sites. It is backed by professional site raters, and you can also join in and rating certain sites...it's all explained on the website...but it just helps you when you're searching for something, and you really have no idea where to look...just try it out.
Got a new one today courtesy PCWorld magazine. Free Hide Folders utility will hide any folder on your hard drive. The interface is password protected. These folders are hidden from both the GUI (Windows Explorer) and the console. You cannot enter the file path in Explorer bar or even "cd" into the directory. Very cool. And free.
Tips, Tricks & Important Updates!
Ive decided to put this up for people to contribute something theyve come across or ask those small niggly questions that may not warrant its own thread.
Feel free to ask any question, but be aware that Mac and Linux experts are around, but relatively scarce :)
Im just starting with listing the most common ones I get asked ALL the time by friends, relatives, pets etc.
How to save YouTube videos
Sites like YT etc use flash video to display their clips. It is possible to save these files - there are several ways to do so - heres one(very quick) way to do it!
1. Firefox browser
2. Unplug extension
In Firefox - go to:
*Tools > Add ons (brings up the FF extensions manager) > click get extensions
*It takes you to FF extensions page - here it is just in case youd like to bookmark it for future use:
*Search for the 'unplug' extension > install it (you'll need to restart firefox for it to fully install)
*Now go tou youtube, find a vid you like - allow it to play all the way through
*Go to 'Tools' > select 'Unplug' it and it will open up a page where it shows the objects/urls on the page. Under a couple it will say "this is the one you probably want" > click 'Save' rename the video whatever you want, but put the ".flv" onto it and click save.
eg. it will usually come up in the save box as 'getvideo.htm'
>> rename to 'starwars.flv' for example
Thats it! ....Now to play it !!
How to play Youtube vids(FLV)files
Some like standalone players like FLV player Riva FLV Encoder/Player is another freeware one.
If you dont like playing with registry settings etc, this is the safest option.
If you'd like to open FLV files in Windows Media Player it can be done by installing a relevant media filter and a registry tweak. But...
PLEASE BEWARE !!
If you do not feel confident editing registry settings - please dont use this method !
(This method works in WMP, I havent been able to get it to work in quicktime player, and havent bothered testing anything else. As I use vista media center - getting these to play in WMP was quite important!)
1. saved '.flv' video
2. wmp 9 onwards
3. FFDshow Codecs These are a ever changing set of codecs and DirectShow filters that will allow you to play divx/xvid, audio formats etc. You can pick what you want it to handle when you install it.
For this example - once downloaded, install but select ONLY the "FLV" option when it asks you what formats you'd like ffdshow to handle.
Now the slightly tricky bit:
1. Open your registry Go to Run> Type Regedit
2. Expand 'HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT'
3. Scroll down til you get to .flv and select >It will display the registry keys for this filetype in the right pane. Depending on what other proggies you have installed - this will vary. If you use Macromedia Flash etc I would recommend you DONT do this as MM has its own flash player anyway(but if you are a regular MM user - you'd surely know that!!)
4. Right click on the right pane> Select 'New' > 'String Value'
A new string value will appear in the pane, allowinf you to name it, you MUST name it "PerceivedType" (without the quotation marks but in that case, and without the space!)
5. Once the key is renamed > Double click it and it will bring up an 'edit string' box. On the top it has "Value Name" - this should already be what you named it(ie. Perceived Type)
>>Under "value data" type "video" (without quotation marks of course and all in lower case)
6. Press OK and exit registry editor
Now, set WMP(etc) to play the filetype.
7. Right click your saved .flv file - select 'open with'. Select WMP(etc). If no option is there - go find the program in C:\Program files (or wherever your program files folder is if its not on C drive) for WMP, it has a folder in 'Program Files' that can be located pretty easily > Select and check the box that says 'always use for this filetype'
NB. Windows will give a warning message that it doesnt recognise the extension - just select to play anyway, and 'dont ask this again'.
WMP should now start playing your youtube vid ! It is much easier to resize in WMP, as opposed to the standalone FLV players. (if you have used FFDshow, when you first play an FLV a box about who wrote teh filter will come up, just check 'do not show this again' to get rid of it)
This above method can be done with any filetype basically. Please note for quicktime and realplayer files, you still need the quicktime and realplayer programs installed to provide the relevant filters WMP(etc can use). There are alternate filters available(eg. QT alternative) but Ive found them to not work as well as the actual filters themselves. Since applying this to my media center pc, I finally dont have to convert any vids ever agaon to be able to watch them in WMP/windows media center. Very handy. Given that you can network/stream shared media very easily across multiple pcs using WMP 11, its a very handy little trick - even for those with just WMP11 and not Vista or XP Media Center.
I have a few more to do - but Im tired atm - be back later !!
Another one I stumbled upon. RealVNC - Virtual Network Computing server/client software. For those of you familiar with Windows' Remote Desktop service, you may have run into some its limitations -- like not being able to connect to Windows 2000 Workstations. This application solves that problem and then some. You can terminal-in to a Linux or Mac from Windows for example. Plus it's free.
Very nice Astro!
I use DownloadHelper to download .flv files (and it works on most sites I've tried it on) and a program called Super to convert my .flv files to anything else (usually .avi), it comes with all the necessary codecs you'll probably ever need, including the FFDshow Codecs you mentioned Astro...
It's a good method as well, which doesn't need tinkering with the registry.
btw, I know the Super website looks all over the place and full of adds, but they are providing a really good video converter for absolutely peanuts (with no viruses or anything, trust me I've been using it for months now), so IMO we can forgive that ;)
Frequent Connection Timeouts in Firefox
Recently my ISP migrated (and upgraded?) all their servers to a new physical location. I noticed my WAN side IP address has since changed and my DNS servers' IPs are also new. Since then, I've been getting frequent "Connection Timed Out" results from HTTP requests in Firefox. Pressing Retry typically works but it was the delay in page loading was becoming quite annoying.
I found a tweak that seems to have fixed my problem.
Just thought I'd pass this on since it's likely that other people's ISPs will be upgrading their DNS servers to be IPv6-capable in the near future as well.
nice work :)
Here's another one - ever tried to open an embedded Windows Media audio/video windows in Firefox ?? If you have you'll notice that nothing much happens, and you reluctantly go looking for that undesirable "e" icon :)
Here's how to get embedded WMP in FF :)
I was just about to ranting on about tracking down certain .dlls and plugging them in manually, but have since realised that some clever folks have (finally) written a WMP plugin for FF......(saving me the hassle of explaining the manual workaround!)
check it out HERE
ok, i found this one a while ago. its downright handy for anyone that has to reinstall Windows as it will at least tell you what hardware needs the drivers. it isn't entirely free, but it is handy to figure out exactly what hardware to look for. yes, there are better programs out there for that, but this one is much more simple to use.
i've used it several times on the job, and it doesn't have anything malicious built into it. behold, Driver Agent!!.
Zidrav: Fix file corruption/missing bytes by making check/patch files. Useful for dialup junkies like myself to save from having to download large files multiple times (provided you have someone with a working file to make a patch file against). See my post on the work bench to see it in action (corrupt models.bif).
Firefox/Thunderbird, Miranda, free download manager, spybot s&d/spywareblaster, avast, speedfan, autohotkey, d-tools...Go check out The OpenCD.
@tk102: check out ultravnc
DOSBox: Allows you to play DOS games on current OS' like XP. I can play games like Dune 2 and Duke 3D on my XP! :)
I recently got sick of Firefox crashing when I would attempt to view my Yahoo! Mail. A quick Google revealed MozillaZine's Knowledge Base article on known causes of Firefox crashes... fixed me right up.
Whoa, how did I miss this earlier. My favorite IDE of all time, ActiveState Komodo, has a a free version called Komodo Edit.
Here is a review of Komodo Edit.
ActiveState is going make some this code open source in their new Open Komodo code base. And from there a new project is in the works...
Just found a nice little freeware application that does one thing and does it well.
Have you started downloading some big file but you have no idea how big it is? This little application will let you paste the URL into it and it will do a size/type query of the file for you.
^^ Usually it does that's true, but sometimes with DownloadThemAll plugin, I get the ??? file size listed. It makes a big difference when you don't know if you've got a 20MB or 2GB on the end of your fishing pole.
Hmmm never used DownloadThemAll so I can't judge on that...
Here's a goodie:
This is an amazing program that creates one or several virtual machines on your own PC (Win, Mac, Linux, whatever) and allows you to install an entire OS on it within your host system and it's just brilliant!
You get to set up a virtual HDD for your guest OS and the good thing about that is: no partitioning! Another good thing is it's not a fixed amount of space it steals from your actual HDD but it's a dynamic space that'll shrink or expand to what you are doing on the Virtual Machine...It's been good for me to take the plunge into Linux and tinker around with a few distros until I find one that I really like and then switch to it and run WinXP in a Virtual Machine if I really need to access it.
Oh and have I mentioned it's free and Open Source? ;)
Look out for a thread by me on this subject cause I'm gonna need some help if folk would be so kind...
Here's another good yen:
A free image editing proggie that's way better than the Gimp cause it's not a resource hog (especially on older machines like mine) and it's very easy to use, even tools like magic wand and such, just brilliant...A little info about photo editing won't hurt you to get started though, but it's the easiest and fastest photo editing program I've ever used...
And to keep on topic of this thread, here's another one. I was just noticing how my hard drive was getting full and wanted to know which folders were storing the most stuff. Dirlot came in handy for that.
Sure, most of the results could've been determined from a Windows search for big files, but that wouldn't have found the the folder of extracted XP Service Pack 2 files (many small files) which I had kept for some reason.
Also worth pointing out: bgbennyboy's USB Ejector for the sake that it responds to commandline switches, thereby saving you at least one click if you create a shortcut that incudes them.
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