Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 9 adds photo healing brush, background eraser and other major tools to new release
May 22, 2013 – 07:48 by Nick Peers in News | Comments Off on Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 9 adds photo healing brush, background eraser and other major tools to new release

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 9Veteran UK developer Xara has released a brand new version of its acclaimed creative design tool, Xara Photo and Graphics Designer 9.1.0. Version 9 concentrates on revamping the package’s photo tools, with the introduction of Photo Healing, Background Erase and new masking tools and photo FX plug-ins.

Version 9 also adds other new features including a Shape Painter tool, support for graphical bulleting and numbers, and improved font support, with multi-weight fonts now accessible from the Fonts menu and direct support for Google Fonts implemented.

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Spybot +AV 2.1 debuts full antivirus protection
May 22, 2013 – 05:50 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Spybot +AV 2.1 debuts full antivirus protection

Irish security firm Safer-Networking Ltd has announced the release of Spy +AV 2.1, a major reinvention of the package which sees the addition of virus protection for the Home ($13.99) and Professional ($25.99) versions (the free build removes malware and rootkits only).

A great deal of this new release is about delivering the framework necessary to support the antivirus engine. An update mechanism delivers antivirus signature files multiple times a day, for instance. The system offers real time protection, too, although this can optionally be turned off if there’s a chance of it conflicting with something else.

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Chrome 27 released, now 5% faster
May 21, 2013 – 20:34 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Chrome 27 released, now 5% faster

Google has released Chrome 27 for Windows, Mac and Linux. And while the previous build was less than exciting, this one delivers multiple improvements which see the browser’s page display time improve by 5%.

Much of this acceleration is down to smarter scheduling, with Chrome 27 making more intelligent decisions about what it loads, and when. Previously, for instance, the browser might tie up bandwidth downloading a vast number of images in parallel. Now it focuses on visible images, and limits parallel downloads to a maximum of 10, so the details you need should be displayed noticeably faster.

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Take control of your command line windows with ConsoleHoster
May 21, 2013 – 11:22 by Mike Williams in Tips | Comments Off on Take control of your command line windows with ConsoleHoster

Most PC users could benefit from working at the command line occasionally, but the rather basic interface is enough to put most people off. You don’t have to live with the standard Windows setup, though. There are plenty of tools which claim they can help, and one of the latest, ConsoleHoster, improves on the default command window in several ways.

Getting started with the program is certainly very easy. Download, unzip and launch it (there’s no installation required), click “Project 1” and your first command session appears. The blue text on a green background is a little distracting, but otherwise it’s straightforward enough. The main part of the window is split into two panes; you enter your commands in the lower, and any output appears above it.

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Instantbird 1.4 improves connection to Twitter, makes logs more accessible
May 21, 2013 – 10:01 by Nick Peers in News | Comments Off on Instantbird 1.4 improves connection to Twitter, makes logs more accessible

instantbird-200x175Open-source multi-messaging client Instantbird 1.4 has been released for Windows, Mac and Linux. The latest version of Instantbird, which provides a central location for accessing multiple IM accounts including AIM, Yahoo!, Twitter, Facebook and Google Talk, strengthens its Twitter integration by updating to the Twitter API v1.1, a necessary step to ensure it’s able to communicate with Twitter after June 11th.

Other Twitter changes include the timeline being updated to include all people the user is currently following in the Participants list, while the character counter has also been improved to take into account automatic link shortening, making retweets easier.

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Forget the boot menu – Reboot-To launches the OS you need direct from the desktop
May 21, 2013 – 07:16 by Mike Williams in Tips | Comments Off on Forget the boot menu – Reboot-To launches the OS you need direct from the desktop

If you’ve installed multiple operating systems on a PC then normally, when your system starts, you’ll have to choose the one you need from a boot menu. And while this isn’t difficult in any way, it can be a minor irritation, especially if you’re switching between operating systems on a regular basis.

Install Reboot-To, though, and you’ll have another option. When you need to restart your PC, just choose one of your installed operating systems from the Reboot-To menu – Window Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Ubuntu (wubi) and Ubuntu Server (wubi) are supported – and it’ll reboot directly into that OS, without you ever seeing the boot menu at all.

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Gmail Notifier Pro 5.0 adds Exchange, SkyDrive support, implements new RSS server
May 20, 2013 – 12:14 by Nick Peers in News | Comments Off on Gmail Notifier Pro 5.0 adds Exchange, SkyDrive support, implements new RSS server

Gmail Notifier Pro 5.0IntelliBreeze Software has released Gmail Notifier Pro 5.0, a major update of its Windows tool for monitoring various online accounts via the Taskbar Notification area. The tool, which allows personal users to monitor up to two supported accounts without registration, offers more than simple Google Mail notifications, and version 5.0 extends this support further by adding Microsoft Exchange and SkyDrive notifications to its feature list.

Version 5.0 also adds a built-in local RSS feed server, allowing users to pipe notifications from the program into RSS readers on other platforms, including smartphones as well as computers.

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Browse, play and control animated GIFs with 7GIF
May 20, 2013 – 10:05 by Mike Williams in Tips | Comments Off on Browse, play and control animated GIFs with 7GIF

They may be just about the most primitive form of computer animation there is, but animated GIFs can still be fun, and genuinely useful, so it’s a shame they’re not more widely supported on the PC. Most programs will just display the opening frame, at best, leaving you to guess at everything else.

There are ways around this, to some extent. Right-click a GIF in Explorer, for instance, select Open With > Internet Explorer, and a browser window will open and play the animation. This is a long way from being convenient, though, so if you’d like easier playback – and a lot more besides – then you’re sure to prefer 7GIF.

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Hornil StylePix – a powerful yet easy-to-use image editor
May 20, 2013 – 08:36 by Mike Williams in Tips | Comments Off on Hornil StylePix – a powerful yet easy-to-use image editor

Designing a great image editor has always been a tricky balancing act. It’s important that the program has real power, plenty of useful functionality, and delivers more than you’d expect in every area. But at the same time, it should ideally be lightweight, easy to use, the kind of tool you can be using productively in just a few minutes.

Most image editors fall short in at least one area, of course, but there are occasional exceptions. And Hornil StylePix is a great example. This lightweight and portable program concentrates on the core editing essentials – transforms, colour and image corrections, painting, text tools and more – so isn’t weighed down with functions you’ll never need. But the features you do get are very well implemented, with a host of powerful options helping to deliver far more control than you might expect from a free tool.

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HandBrake 0.9.9 makes transcoding to MP4 or MKV video easier than ever
May 20, 2013 – 07:00 by Nick Peers in News | Comments Off on HandBrake 0.9.9 makes transcoding to MP4 or MKV video easier than ever

Handbrake 0.9.9Popular cross-platform, open-source video transcoder HandBrake 0.9.9 has been released, and despite the version number increment is actually a major update. HandBrake allows users to convert video from a wide variety of formats – including DVD and Blu-ray – into MP4 or MKV files with support for .H264 and FFmpeg codecs.

Highlights in the latest release include support for the .H264 codec’s preset, tune and profile options, Blu-ray (PGS) subtitle support, additional video framerates and filter modes, improved audio remix and an updated user interface.

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Mount FTP servers as regular Explorer drives with NetDrive
May 18, 2013 – 06:09 by Mike Williams in Tips | Comments Off on Mount FTP servers as regular Explorer drives with NetDrive

If you need to access an FTP server, perhaps to upload the latest version of your website, then you’ll probably reach for your favourite FTP client. But although that will transfer your files, it’s not exactly a convenient solution, particularly if you need to work with the server on a regular basis.

NetDrive is a free (for personal use) tool which can greatly simplify this process. If you find you’re frequently working with a particular FTP or WebDav server then the program can mount it as a new drive in Explorer, and you’ll be able to access it – create, delete and rename folders, transfer and launch files – just like any other drive on your system.

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