Review: MAGIX MP3 deluxe 16
March 29, 2010 – 15:57 by Mark Wilson in Reviews | One Comment

Review: MAGIX MP3 deluxe 16

For many people, music is what makes the world go round and this is something that is reflected in burgeoning sales of MP3 players and the number of mobile phones that feature MP3 playback as standard. New music can be quickly and cheaply delivered online via the likes of iTunes and the hard drives of many computers are filled to bursting with gigantic MP3 collections. Managing a large music library can be tricky, but MAGIX MP3 deluxe 16 may just be able to help.

The program is a music library tool, MP3 editor, music player and much more. Windows Media Player, WinAmp and iTunes are popular players, but MAGIX MP3 deluxe 16 includes advanced, speedy filtering that makes it easy to navigate through even the large music library. There are numerous ways to expand your music collection with the importing of CDs, complete with automatic tagging, made incredibly simple and the ability to record music from web sites providing access to music that may not be available anywhere else.

Read More »

Easily test bootable ISO files with Sun VirtualBox
March 29, 2010 – 11:43 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Easily test bootable ISO files with Sun VirtualBox

Sun VirtualBox is normally used to run operating systems in a window on your current desktop, and this can be very useful. If you want to try out Linux, for instance, then VirtualBox makes it easy to install and the distribution of your choice, without the hassle of partitioning your hard drive, or otherwise tinkering with your current system configuration. And if that’s not for you then there’s another, simpler but less obvious application for the program, that could save you both time and money.

Many programs include bootable ISO images that provide an alternative way to start your PC. Take the AVG Rescue CD, say, an ISO image that’s packed with antivirus and system recovery functionality. If you have another recovery disc then you might want to take a look at AVG’s offering first, just to see exactly what it has to offer. Normally you’d burn a disc, then boot from it, but wait: with VirtualBox installed there’s a simpler solution.

Read More »

Monitor your internet speed and usage with NetSpeedMonitor
March 27, 2010 – 13:32 by Mark Wilson in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Monitor your internet speed and usage with NetSpeedMonitor

There are various reasons why you might want to monitor your internet connection – idle curiosity is likely to lead to wondering about average speeds over the course of a month, and the download limits put in place by internet service providers means that there is a real purpose to keeping an eye on transfer levels. NetSpeedMonitor is a free tool that resides in the system tray and provides at-a-glance information about how your internet connection is being used.

After running through the installation of the program, launch NetSpeedMonitor from the Start menu or desktop shortcut. You’ll immediately notice a new entry in the system tray displaying your current upload and download speeds; hover the mouse over this and you will see a pop up that displays the same information as well as details of monthly and daily data transfer.

Read More »

Keep an eye on your Google account using Scott's Gmail Alert
March 26, 2010 – 17:53 by Mark Wilson in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Keep an eye on your Google account using Scott's Gmail Alert

If you have a Google account, it’s likely that you make use of not only the web based email service but also the online calendar and the RSS reader. Keeping up to date with your latest email, appointments and news blog posts can mean having to check three individual web sites, which is time consuming and seems unnecessarily longwinded. Scott’s Gmail Alert is a handy little utility that can be used to constantly monitor the Google services you use and notify you when they need your attention.

This system tray utility will check your Google Mail inbox for new messages, alert your when calendar appointments are due, and keep your informed of the latest posts to RSS feeds you subscribe to. Download a free copy of Scott’s Gmail Alert and run through the installation process. Launch the program and move to the third tab before clicking the Add Account button.

Read More »

Review: COMODO Internet Security Pro 4
March 25, 2010 – 14:55 by Mike Williams in Reviews | One Comment

Review: COMODO Internet Security Pro 4

COMODO Internet Security Pro 4 combines an antivirus engine, powerful firewall, behaviour-based malware blocker and sandboxing module to keep malware firmly locked out of your PC.

The antivirus protection worked much as we’d expect: there’s real-time scanning of the files you access, Explorer integration provides a right-click option to scan the files or folders you specify, and of course you can schedule unattended scans to run whenever you like. Its virus definitions are only updated daily, though – other suites upgrade hourly, or even more frequently.

Read More »

Review: O&O PartitionManager 3.0 Professional
March 24, 2010 – 21:17 by Mike Williams in Reviews | Comments Off on Review: O&O PartitionManager 3.0 Professional

Review: O&O PartitionManager 3.0 Professional

Partitioning your hard drive is a smart way to organise your data, cut file fragmentation, and make a real difference to your PCs performance. There are plenty of tools around to make this happen, though, from Windows’ rather basic offerings, to free Linux-based suites, and comprehensive commercial packages. Does O&O PartitionManager 3.0 Professional have what it takes to stand out from the crowd, then? We took a closer look.

If you’re familiar with other partitioning tools then, at first glance, PartitionManager Professional may seem a little short on extras. There’s no backup tool, or boot manager, for instance. You don’t get the low-level drive manipulation options you sometimes see elsewhere, like the ability to convert file systems, change a partition’s cluster size, or update the Master Boot Record. And while there is an option to defragment a partition, it’s easy to miss (you must choose to resize a partition, then click Optimize).

Read More »

Completely uninstall security applications with AppRemover
March 23, 2010 – 18:32 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Completely uninstall security applications with AppRemover

Install antivirus software and it digs deep into your system, spreading roots everywhere: new Windows services, startup programs, drivers, more. That’s just fine while you’re using the program. But if you uninstall it, then it’s important to remove every remnant, otherwise you can face major problems later.

At the simplest you might have orphaned components, still launched at boot time, wasting RAM and system resources. Depending on what these are, you may also see PC stability issues, crashes or unexpected errors. But the real complication can come when other antivirus tools detect these leftovers. For example, in the past we’ve had security programs refuse to install on one PC because they’d “conflict with BullGuard”, even though we’d actually removed BullGuard from that system long ago.

Read More »

Share your mouse and keyboard between your PC and Mac, using Synergy
March 22, 2010 – 15:11 by Mark Wilson in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Share your mouse and keyboard between your PC and Mac, using Synergy

It is now increasingly common for people to own both PCs and Macs, and in many types of work it is necessary to work with both types of machine at the same time. Ordinarily this would mean having to make use of a keyboard and mouse for the PC and another for the Mac. But with Synergy installed you can shared a keyboard and mouse connected to one computer with another on the network. As an added bonus, the program will also create a shared clipboard that can be used to copy and paste data from one machine to the other.

Once Synergy has been configured, it acts like a KVM switch, but operates like a multi-monitor setup. This means that after you have configured keyboard and mouse sharing, you can move the cursor to the edge of your PC monitor and it will re-appear on the screen of your Mac. The layout of monitors can be configured to reflect how the screens are actually positioned and this quickly turns into a great time saving tool.

Read More »

Review: DivX Pro 8
March 21, 2010 – 09:00 by Mike Williams in Reviews | Comments Off on Review: DivX Pro 8

Review: DivX Pro 8

DivX is a video codec that’s become well known for producing compact movie files that still deliver high image and audio quality. As a result it’s been widely adopted as a video standard, and there are now thousands of devices that are able to play DivX content: DVD and Blu-ray players, the PlayStation 3, portable movie players, mobile phones and more. Converting your videos to DivX gives you a freedom you won’t find with any other format, then, and making this happen is far easier than you might expect.

DivX Pro is, essentially, the free DivX Plus suite¬†with an enhanced conversion tool. So you’ll still have the web player, desktop player, video management tool, DivX to Go, and so on, but the DivX Converter is where the real action takes place.

Read More »

Review: Uniblue PowerSuite 2010
March 18, 2010 – 16:47 by Mike Williams in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Uniblue PowerSuite 2010

Uniblue are well known for producing a range of effective PC maintenance tools. You could shop for these individually, but there’s now a better way: Uniblue PowerSuite 2010 brings together three of their most capable utilities, saving you money, and delivering just about everything you need to clean, repair and optimise your PC in a single package.

RegistryBooster

First on the list is RegistryBooster, a straightforward Registry cleaner. The program will scan your Registry at a click, looking for redundant Registry keys, and ranking them with a colour-coded “damage level” so you can immediately see which are most severe. Another click will clear all this junk away, and when you’re finished you can defragment the Registry for a final small performance boost.

Read More »

Internet Explorer 9 – a first taste
March 17, 2010 – 17:16 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Internet Explorer 9 – a first taste

Microsoft have released the Windows Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview, a pre-beta that delivers just a hint of what the next version of IE will offer.

Much of the focus is on performance, and it’s about time – IE has been trailing a long way behind the competition for years. In part this is to be addressed by a new script engine, code-named Chakra, which compiles JavaScript on one CPU core while the browser runs in parallel on the other. It’s an optimisation that sees the Platform Preview deliver much better performance on the Sunspider benchmark, which shows it leaping ahead of Firefox. Safari, Chrome and Opera 10.5 remain much faster, but then this is an early version: we’d expect the final IE9 to perform better still.

Read More »