Cleanup your hard drive with Ashampoo Uninstaller 4
January 27, 2010 – 16:30 by Mark Wilson in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Cleanup your hard drive with Ashampoo Uninstaller 4

Ashampoo UninstallerYou may think by using Windows’ Control Panel to uninstall programs you no longer need is the best way to free up hard drive space and remove registry reference to unwanted software. In reality, many uninstallation routines do not successfully reverse the installation process and over time this not only leads to wasted disk space, but also a bloated registry which can reduce overall system performance.

Ashampoo Uninstaller 4 is a dedicated uninstallation tool that monitors your computer as new software is installed so there is a precise record of any changes that have been made to your system. When the time comes to remove a program, this information can then be used to completely remove all traces of the software. After running through the installation of Ashampoo Uninstaller 4 select the option to launch the Install Monitor utility – this tool will automatically detect installation routines started by files called setup.exe or install.exe, but installers with other names can be monitored manually.

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Change the way Firefox 3.6 handles new tabs
January 25, 2010 – 18:38 by Mark Wilson in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Change the way Firefox 3.6 handles new tabs

Firefox tabsIn previous versions of Firefox, when opening a new tab – whether by right clicking an existing tab and selecting the New Tab option, pressing the Ctrl+T keyboard shortcut, or opening a link in a new tab – it would always open at the far right of the tab bar. With the release of Firefox 3.6 this behaviour has changed to mimic that of Internet Explorer.

Now when a new tab is opened, it appears immediately to the right of the currently selected tab. To many people this will make a degree of sense as it means that when opening links from one page in new tabs, they are grouped together in a fairly logical fashion. But the new method of handling tabs is not to everyone’s tastes and it can be changed by adjusting a hidden setting.

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Laplink PCmover makes it easy to migrate programs and settings to a new PC
January 25, 2010 – 17:36 by Mark Wilson in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Laplink PCmover makes it easy to migrate programs and settings to a new PC

Laplink PCmoverHave you just bought a new computer and dreading the prospect of installing all of your favourite programs and configuring Windows to your liking? Laplink PCmover can help to make the transition as easy as possible enabling you to quickly and simply transfer not only your files from one computer to another, but also software and settings.

To make the migration as painless as possible, a few preparatory steps are needed. Data can be transferred using a special USB cable, removal media, or a network connection. Making use of a network connection is by far the quickest option (and this is how we will proceed), so it is worth networking your new computer before getting started. PCmover will need to be installed on both your old computer and your new one, but it needs to be run on the new machine first.

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How to manually detect malware with Process Hacker
November 30, 2009 – 15:43 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on How to manually detect malware with Process Hacker

phackerInstalling a regularly-updated antivirus tool will ensure you’re protected against most malware, but no security suite is 100% effective, and of course they’re all vulnerable to the very latest threats. So if your PC is behaving strangely and you think you might have been infected by something nasty, but your antivirus tool says otherwise, then you need another way to explore what’s going on. And we’ve the perfect candidate.

Launch Process Hacker and at first it looks like a more colourful version of Task Manager, with details on all the processes running on your PC. And you can use it in much the same way. Click Hacker > Show Details for All Processes, then scroll down the list, looking for any process name that seems unfamiliar.

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Wallpaper Juggler downloads and automatically sets great desktop backgrounds
November 27, 2009 – 11:14 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Wallpaper Juggler downloads and automatically sets great desktop backgrounds

jugglerTired of your dull desktop? New wallpaper could make all the difference, but first you’ll have to locate the best sources, find images in the right aspect ratio, download them somewhere and remember to change the background occasionally. If all that seems like too much hassle then you’ll probably carry on just as you are.

There is a simpler way, though, and it’s called Wallpaper Juggler. Just download and unzip the tiny executable (226KB), and it’ll add an icon to your system tray. Right-click that, choose the Download Wallpaper option and in a click you can start downloading wallpapers from InterfaceLIFT or Wallpaperstock. Well, that’s the theory – in practice InterfaceLIFT now blocks the downloads, apparently. We had more luck with Wallpaperstock, though, and the program downloaded more than 150 wallpapers with the correct resolution for our screen, in less than 60 seconds.

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SPlayer is a fast, lightweight and stylish new media player
November 26, 2009 – 11:09 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on SPlayer is a fast, lightweight and stylish new media player

splayerIf your current media player is slow, resource-hungry, or just can’t handle all the files you throw at it, then it may be time to try a replacement – and SPlayer is an ideal candidate. It’s a small download (under 6MB) that installs quickly, can optionally set itself up as your default player, and is then ready to play whatever videos, audio files, CDs or DVDs that you need.

The interface is appealing. Instead of the usual bulky toolbars and menus, SPlayer has bars at the top and bottom of the screen that only fade in when you move the mouse cursor in their direction. These give speedy access to all the usual playback controls, and some more interesting features, too: one-click image capture, optional high quality image resizer (useful for full-screen views), transparency control, audio and video processing (equalizer, sharpening, deinterlace, denoise filters), easy subtitle control (change subtitles, set font, adjust its size) and a whole lot more.

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Keep your Vista PC safe with this hidden security setting
November 25, 2009 – 11:35 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Keep your Vista PC safe with this hidden security setting

sehopThe holy grail of hackers comes in finding a way to make you run their code without even realising, and that often requires considerable low-level knowledge of how Windows works. For example, every program has its own exception handlers, small pieces of software that are used to handle events outside of the flow of normal code (a divide by zero error, say). If an exception occurs, the program passes control to the memory address of its handler. But hackers have developed a technique that allows them to overwrite the exception handler’s address with the location of their own code. If they can then create an exception then your program will run their code, and that’s it – you’re infected.

Microsoft know this is a problem, though, and have developed effective counter-measures: SEHOP (Structured Exception Handler Overwrite Protection). New programs are compiled in a way that makes it much harder to overwrite exception handler addresses. And Windows can now actually check that your exception handler list hasn’t been altered before it calls any code – but that’s where there’s a problem.

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How to speed up Adobe Reader
November 24, 2009 – 11:49 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on How to speed up Adobe Reader

PDFLogoAdobe’s PDF is the web’s format of choice for exchanging documents, and so every PC needs the ability to view them. But opting for the obvious choice of Adobe Reader has a cost: it’s slow to load, not much better at rendering pages, and requires more RAM than you might expect, too.

You don’t have to put up with this, though. Much of Adobe Reader’s bloat comes from the pile of plug-ins that are installed by default, most of which carry out obscure functions that you’ll never use. There’s no interface to disable these, but once you know where to look it’s easy to turn off the plug-ins you don’t need, cutting Adobe Reader’s startup time and reducing its RAM footprint.

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Quick Tip: How to save a little Vista RAM
November 23, 2009 – 13:10 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Quick Tip: How to save a little Vista RAM

activityWindows Vista is a resource hog, but turning off unnecessary features can help make a difference.  Do you really need the network icon in your system tray to flash whenever you send or receive information, for instance?  Enabling this uses some CPU time and loads an extra Vista component, swallowing up a little memory.  If you can do without it for a while then right-click the icon, select “Turn off activity animation” and you’ll recover the RAM immediately.

If you don’t use ReadyBoost then that’s an even better candidate for removal. Click Start, type services.msc and press [Enter], then scroll down the list and double-click the ReadyBoost service. Click the Stop button to free up any RAM it’s using right now, set its Startup Type to Disabled and the service won’t be started when you next reboot, leaving more memory for the applications and services that you actually use.

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Is PeaZip the best portable file archiver?
November 23, 2009 – 12:37 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Is PeaZip the best portable file archiver?

peazipThere are plenty of free file archiving tools around – you can even use Explorer, if you’re really desperate – but we think the latest release of PeaZip shows it’s still the one to beat.

There’s read support for all the archiving formats you’d expect, for instance: ZIP, TAR, CAB, GZIP and BZIP, old formats like LHA and LZH, some Mac files (DMG/ HFS, though not SIT or SITX), Linux archives (DEB, PET/PUP, RPM, SLP), and more. And the program can also extract the contents of many other file types, including MSI installers, Microsoft Office documents (DOC, XLS, PPT), Windows Help files (CHM), disc images (ISO) and others.

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Combine all the most useful Control Panel applets into one simple tool
November 20, 2009 – 12:44 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Combine all the most useful Control Panel applets into one simple tool

mmcFinding the Control Panel applet you need can be difficult, even in Windows 7. First you’ll browse through the categories, then you’ll display the individual applets. Then you’ll try the search, and discover it only works in Category view, so you have to switch back. It’s a real mess.

There is a way to avoid all these navigation hassles, though – just build your own custom Control Panel applet that contains all the features you need. Device Manager, the Event Viewer, Disk Services, Printers, whatever you use most often can easily be assembled into a single tool that means you’ll never have to go browsing for applets again.

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