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Killer Apps, Tweaks & Important Updates!


Astrotoy7
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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 :)

nwmagickx2.jpg

 

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

 

mtfbwya

 

NegSun - Edit: Now comes a comprehensive and alphabetical list of all the programs/sites that have been mentioned in this thread, enjoy :)

 

 

 

7Zip

 

Ad-Aware

 

AlienGUIse Desktop Theme Manager

 

Any Video Converter

 

ASC Gen.NET

 

ATI Tray Tools

 

Avast Antivirus.

 

AV-Comparatives

 

AVG Free

 

AVI Recomp

 

AVI Trimmer

 

BurnAware

 

CCCP

 

CCleaner

 

CDisplay

 

Daemon Tools

 

DeskSpace.

 

Dirlot

 

DNSstuff

 

DOSBox

 

Driver Agent

 

DynDNS

 

DynAdvance Email Notifier

 

Email Effects

 

eXtreme Outervision's Power Supply Calculator

 

FairUse Wizard

 

Firefox

 

Foobar2000

 

FRAPS

 

Free Hide Folders

 

"Get n Set affinity"

 

Giveaway of the Day

 

Google Earth

 

Inkscape

 

InternetFileSize

 

IrfanView

 

ISO Buster

 

IZArc

 

K-Lite Codec Pack

 

KeyTweak

 

Koepi's XviD Codec

 

Komodo Edit

 

Lolifox

 

Madotate

 

Maxthon

 

Media Player Classic

 

MicroAngelo Icon Editor

 

Miranda IM

 

Motherboard Monitor

 

Network Magic

 

Notepad++

 

ObjectDock

 

OpenOffice.org

 

Paint.NET

 

Power Menu

 

QuickTime Alternative Lite

 

RAD Video Tools

 

RAM-Booster

 

Real Alternative Lite

 

RealVNC - Virtual Network Computing

 

Scribus

 

Site Advisor

 

Spybot

 

Sysinternals Monitoring Utilities

 

Task List Programs

 

Taskbar Shuffle

 

TCP Optimizer

 

Terragen

 

The Core Media Player

 

The GIMP

 

The Open CD

 

Thunderbird

 

Tom's Hardware

 

TreeSize Professional

 

TUGZip

 

Ultravnc

 

Unlocker

 

uTorrent

 

Videohelp

 

VirtualBox

 

VirtualDub

 

VirtualDubMod

 

Vista Codec Pack & Vista x64 components

 

Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions

 

VLC media player

 

WavePad

 

Winamp

 

WinCustomize

 

XP Codec Pack

 

Zidrav

 

ZoneAlarm

Edited by Astrotoy7
Added list of all apps/sites in thread...
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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)
I use avast also, it's very good I think. It updates automatically all the time so I never have to worry about it.
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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

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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)

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Here are a bunch of the freeware applications I use fairly often:

 

  • AVG Free, free anti-virus software.
     
     
  • ZoneAlarm, free software firewall that can block both incoming and outgoing connection attempts.
     
     
  • ATI Tray Tools, ATI Radeon configuration tool, I use it instead of the bloated Catalyst Control Center. Can also take screenshots of DirectX/OpenGL applications and games, show FPS rate and GPU temperature on-screen and record audio.
     
     
  • Motherboard Monitor, allows you to check the temperature of your CPU and Motherboard, voltages and fan speed. A bit old by now, but still works, and useful when you get paranoid after your computer overheats once due to a malfunctioning fan. :)
     
     
  • Miranda IM, very nice instant messenger client, which unlike all others I've looked at is fairly lightweight, requiring very little memory and CPU resources, and doesn't contain any unremovable bloatware or spy/adware. Supports a variety of different protocols, with plugins support to allow handling many others.
     
     
  • 7Zip, free file compression/decompression utility that can unpack most formats, and integrates with the Windows shell context menu for easy use.
     
     
  • OpenOffice.org, free Office suite, similar to MS Office. Not quite as advanced, but more than enough for someone like me. And it doesn't cost anything. :)
     
     
  • IrfanView, image viewer application that can handle most image formats. Also contains some rudimentary editing functionality and can mass-convert images between different formats. Perfect for fixing up screenshots and such. :)

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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?

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I use AVG, is it just as good as Avast Antivirus?

 

I myself wasnt happy with AVG and easily prefer avast, especially with its Vista skin ;) It updates it defs almost daily(automatically if you set it) and isnt a resource hog.

 

@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!??

 

mtfbwya

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I myself wasnt happy with AVG and easily prefer avast, especially with its Vista skin ;) It updates it defs almost daily(automatically if you set it) and isnt a resource hog.

 

@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!??

 

mtfbwya

But AVG updates almost daily as well...and what do you mean by resource hog?

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But AVG updates almost daily as well...and what do you mean by resource hog?

 

means it runs quietly in the backgound but doesnt use up heaps of processing power doing so, thereby not interefering with other things. I imagine AVG is pretty light from that aspect too. The only way to see which you like more is to try the other ;)

 

mtfbwya

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I use AVG, is it just as good as Avast Antivirus?

Avast is by far supior to AVG. Avg only has a residential on access scanner.

 

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

P2P scanner

IM scanner

 

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

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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.

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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 :)

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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.

 

Fraps isn't free though O.o well atleast if you want all the capablities.

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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

 

http://www.answersthatwork.com/Tasklist_pages/tasklist.htm

 

----------------------

 

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...

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  • 1 month later...
Motherboard Monitor, allows you to check the temperature of your CPU and Motherboard, voltages and fan speed. A bit old by now, but still works, and useful when you get paranoid after your computer overheats once due to a malfunctioning fan. :)

 

The problem with MbM is that it has not been developed for over two and 1/2 years. Any of the motherboard chiptsets that have come out since then are not supported. It is too bad that he could not get the support and information that he needed to continue to develop the program.

 

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

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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.

 

http://www.siteadvisor.com/

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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.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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!

 

Requirements.

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:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/browse/type:1

 

*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!)

 

Requirements.

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 !!

 

mtfbwya

Edited by Astrotoy7
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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.

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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 ;)

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