Find out more about your favourite artists with Song Buddy
September 2, 2014 – 06:51 by Mike Williams in Tips | No Comment

Some music players are smart. Not only will they play your tracks, but they’ll try to tell you more about them, perhaps downloading and displaying the lyrics.

Windows Media Player and iTunes aren’t quite so clever, but that’s where Song Buddy comes in. This free app for Windows, iPhone, iPad and Mac detects the “now playing” artist and displays other releases, concerts, images, a biography, links and more.

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Instantly generate sketched characters with DrawWiz
September 1, 2014 – 08:27 by Mike Williams in Tips | No Comment

DrawWiz is an easy-to-use app, Windows and Mac program which instantly generates professional sketches of female cartoon characters.

There’s no artistic ability required, fortunately. The app provides hundreds of pre-drawn elements – situations, face shapes, hair styles, eyes, nose, mouth – and all you have to do is pick the ones you need.

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Quickly retouch your portraits with Free Photo Blemish Remover
September 1, 2014 – 06:05 by Mike Williams in Tips | No Comment

High resolution digital photos are great for most purposes, but can be a little cruel for portrait shots, where every skin imperfection is suddenly blown up in extreme detail.

Some photo editors have “beautifying” modules to help up clean such problems, or you can often fix them yourself with a little painting or clone work. And Free Photo Blemish Remover is another option, a specialist tool which can remove image imperfections with a click.

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WinLogOnView lists user logons for your PC
August 31, 2014 – 04:55 by Mike Williams in Tips | No Comment

If your PC has several user accounts then you might occasionally like to know when they’re being accessed, perhaps to confirm that your children are only using the computer at particular times.

You could install some heavy duty system monitoring package, or maybe enable a few Family Safety restrictions for that account. But NirSoft’s WinLogOnView is a much simpler option which could provide everything you need in a tiny, portable package.

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Voralent’s Antelope compresses JPGs and PNGs with a click
August 30, 2014 – 05:20 by Mike Williams in Tips | No Comment

Earlier this year we looked at Voralent’s JPGMini and PNGMini, easy-to-use tools which reduced JPG and PNG file sizes without affecting image quality.

The developer has now released a replacement, Antelope, which handles JPG and PNG files, and supports both lossless and lossy compression.

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Display your internet IP on the desktop with Mr.IP
August 29, 2014 – 06:48 by Mike Williams in Tips | No Comment

Discovering your external IP address is generally very easy. Just visit a site like WhatIsMyIP.com and it’ll give you the IP, location, ISP, and a whole lot more.

If you need speedy access to this address all the time, though, it might be simpler to use Mr.IP, a tiny free tool which permanently displays your internet IP on the desktop.

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Easily inspect DXF files with de-caff DXF Viewer
August 29, 2014 – 05:26 by Mike Williams in Tips | No Comment

DXF is a very popular CAD file format which has been around since 1982, so you might expect there to be plenty of good viewers around by now.

Unfortunately, the reality is very different. DXF can be complex, and while there are free viewers to be found, they’re generally not much use.

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GlassWire is an easy-to-use network monitor
August 28, 2014 – 09:38 by Mike Williams in Tips | No Comment

Whether you’re concerned about security, or just hoping to optimise your PC’s performance, understanding what’s accessing your internet connection can be very helpful.

Network monitors will tell you more, but they’re often targeted at experts, weighed down with complex details which – even if you understand them entirely – you may not really need.

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KDE Mover-Sizer brings handy Linux desktop tricks to the PC
August 28, 2014 – 07:13 by Mike Williams in Tips | No Comment

Resizing and repositioning windows on the PC desktop is such a fundamental task that you’ll almost do it without thinking. Move the mouse to the title bar/ border, click, drag, release. Very basic, very simple – but there might still be room for improvement.

KDE Mover-Sizer is an open source, portable tool which brings a common Linux desktop trick to Windows. Instead of having to move your mouse cursor to the title bar or border, you just hold down the Alt key, then left-click anywhere inside a window and drag to move it, right-click and drag to resize it.

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Parallels Desktop 10 officially released, promises improved performance, adds new Disk Space Wizard
August 27, 2014 – 10:19 by Nick Peers in News | No Comment

Parallels DesktopParallels IP Holdings GmbH has unveiled Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac to the general public, one week after making it exclusively available to existing users.

The app, which makes it easy to run Windows in a virtual environment in OS X, launches with the promise of drastically improved performance and better battery life, plus adds new features and promises compatibility with the forthcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite, currently in public beta.

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HDD Guardian tests and monitors your hard drive health
August 27, 2014 – 09:06 by Mike Williams in Tips | No Comment

SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a hard drive/ SSD monitoring system which reports on various reliability indicators, and sometimes highlights imminent hardware failure.

These predictions can sometimes be questionable, but SMART still has plenty to offer, and the open source HDD Guardian (also available in a portable edition) provides a simple and straightforward way to find out more.

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