Freeware

Dear Readers, 18th September 2010

starting September 2010, we will not translate or deepen our posts in the Linux and Freeware pages but we post them directly in the homepage. This page is online to continue and foster technical discussions. Enjoy it!

First steps to use I2P: an anonymizing network for Linux and Windows 28th February 2010

As described on the I2P Homepage, this freeware is a “anonymizing network, offering a simple layer that identity-sensitive applications can use to securely communicate. All data is wrapped with several layers of encryption, and the network is both distributed and dynamic, with no trusted parties”. During out test we used bothXP and Ubuntu because I2P is a java file even is it seems to be a exe file and it could be used on all the Linux OS. On Windows XP it is very simple to use I2P but at the beginning it is really slow and for this reason we suggest to keep it run for about twelve hours because this freeware needs to build its own network and for this it takes some hours. When ready you have to setup all the software you want to filter through it. For this reason, we setted Firefox (Preferences-> Advanced -> Network -> Settings) Manual Proxy Configuration to HTTP Proxy as localhost, port 4444. Then we put a tick on “Use this proxy server for all protocols” and we finished indicating “No proxy for” as localhost, 127.0.0.1. After some seconds we discovered that our IP was now in the northern part of the France (far away from our real location). To setup I2P it is necessary to point Firefox on http://localhost:7657/index.jsp because, by default, I2P tries to launch Internet Explorer also when it works on Linux. After a week of tests we can say that I2P is a little bit slower than TOR but it can easily be integrated on your browser, mail client, chat and others programs. For our (limited) experience I2P is the most complete anonymizing network we know. To conclude, as already discussed also on this post none or nothing can create a perfectly anonymous software but I2P can help to better improve our privacy.

Where to find Freeware programs on the web 17th January 2010

If you have Windows (we hope XP or 7 but not Vista) you could stop paying money for any software. Nowadays it is possible to find freeware which is able to substitute everyproprietary software you have in mind. Some freeware (OpenOffice, Izarc, etc..) are commonly well known but others are a little bit more difficult to discover. Sometimes, freeware programs contain more features than the well known software you pay. For example , people knowWinzip to manage .zip files but freeware programs as Izarc or (better) Peazip have to be considered most professional. In any case our short top freeware list wants only to contribute to your savings.
#1 http://sourceforge.net/
#2 http://www.filehippo.com/
#3 http://www.techsupportalert.com/
#4 http://download.cnet.com/
#5 http://majorgeeks.com/
#6 http://www.tucows.com/
#7 http://www.nonags.com/
#8 http://www.freewarefiles.com/
#9 http://www.snapfiles.com/Freeware/
#10 http://www.dmoz.org/Computers/Software/Freeware/
Please, let us know if we do not know other Freeware library that you thing could be more interesting!

FileHippo Update Checker: the fastest way to keep your computer updated 03rd January 2010

Easy to say: an updated computer is a safer PC but it is not so simple to keep all the programs updated. For this reason, when you have many programs installed you could need a software like FileHippo Update Checker to be always informed about the new versions. FileHippo Update Checker requires that the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 is installed and it scans your PC very quickly. FileHippo Update Checker respects your privacy:the list of suggested updates are not linked to yourIP address and the logs are deleted after processing. We suggest this freeware to all the people who have not enough time to recursively check the available updates for their computers. Enjoy it!

Some quick notes about Rocketdock 22nd November 2009

After a quick installation we immediately noticed the nice graphics used by Rocketdock, all the icons “fly” on the screen in a smoothly way with no flares. Anyway, surfing on Rocketdock’s website you find an useful video which helps to better understand all its features. Moreover, on the Get Addons Page you discover tons of icons, skins, docklets and wallpapers. If you use Vista or the better Windows 7 you can enjoy a real-time window previews but Rocketdock is not compatible with all the 64 bit editions. Last but not least, you have an useful Help Page (in ten different languages) where you can try to solve the problems you can find using this freeware. Simple to use and funny!

How to improve your Gmail skills in a couple of hours 11th October 2009

Nowadays, Gmail is one of the most common free email service everyone uses but it is also possible to better know all its features with some useful tips. Gmail Tips is a info collection where you learn, for example, how to connect to Gmail via https:// or how to use your email when you are not online. In just few clicks, it is also possible to start sending emails through your mobile or discovering which messages has been sent right to you. Gmail Tips, also available in a very practical pdf version, contains so many tips that it would be boring to describe them all in a post also because we are sure you  already know some (or many) of them. For this reason, the best suggestion from our side, is to read or download Gmail Tips and autonomously choose the features most relevant for your needs.

SmartViper: your online “pocket knife” to beat competitors 20th September 2009

SmartViper is very intuitive: type the address of the website you want to analyze and in less than a second you have a complete report to read:

– RSS

– homepage links analyse

– indexed pages

– backward links

– HTML validation (and number of errors)

– country map

– SEO score

– website worth

– website heatmap

In particular, during our tests, we really appreciated the “website heatmap” feature which allows you to discover which is the “eyetracking visualization” on your website. This feature allows you to place the most important site’s information in the hottest places. This feature has been developed after testing a population of more than 200 people and it is based on the dominant reading pattern observed by SmartViper. Another interesting feature we read on the report is about the “backward links”. A rising graphs could represent the best feedback for your “marketing” strategy over the web; on the contrary, a decreasing curve is a worrying signal that something is going wrong with your website… To conclude we hope that SmartViper will increase the records contained in its database because for some sites it is not so updated as we would like (e.g. some datareferred to four months before). Interesting!

Free your HD with Foxit Reader! 30th August 2009

When I discovered I urgently needed for some extra space in my PC I cannot stop my work for two days waiting for a new HD or proceed with a backup without contacting my super-busy Administrator for a “security backup” on the company servers. For this reason I analyzed the “installed software” and discovered that Acrobat Reader “burns” more than 200 MB of hard disk space. Consequently I substitute it with the lighter Foxit Reader (just 7MB) and noticed that Foxit is also faster than its more famous competitors because it uses (if I well interpreted the data) just one third of RAM (15MB) than Acrobat Reader. That solution forced me to think that, more in general, it is possible to affirm that we potentially could substitute many common programs with other, less well known, free software or with their light portable versions. If you have suggestion on related topics please, feel free to add a comment or send an email. Thanks!

Pandora: free online music! 19th July 2009

This useful, legal website is based on Flash so be sure to have Flash activated before connecting to it. Pandora is plenty of interesting options, here we would like to summarize just a few. In fact, you can rename your stations, add artists to each one or just share your station with friends. As similar online services (e.g last.fm) you can improve the personalization of the music you listen, just voting (I like – thumb up vs. I don’t like – thumb down) the songs or bookmarking the best artists in your stations. For special occasion it is also possible to create a Gift Station to make a “not common” colorful present to the people you like. Lat but not least, using the music feed tool you can easily create html widgets (with your favorite stations, artists or songs) for your blog or website or just RSS feeds.

How to disable the geo-locating feature in the upcoming Firefox 3.5 28th June 2009

First of all, we want to clarify that we were inspired by the instructions we previously found at the site howtogeek, which we want to thank for the tip. First of all, after installing (or updating yo ) Firefox 3.5 you have to type about:config into the Firefox address bar and accept the potential risks generated by this operation. Now your Firefox Windows appears as a list of commands with a right column containing “True” or “False”. Search (using the filter bar, if you prefer) the command named geo.enabled and right clicking on the “True” contained in the right column you will able to watch a short menu. Now, clicking on Toggle you will modify this parameter to “False” and you never have not to answer to annoying questions about your geo-location. Fast and effective! More in general, do not forget that if you maintain a blog in a country where independent blogs are not allowed or censored, your ip and geo-location is something you have to keep anonymous. Moreover, if you are lucky and live in a democratic place where you are free to express yourself you would like to protect your identity even if you are not breaking any laws. For this reason you can easily find on Wikipedia or on the web some useful free software as, for example, Tor which is just one of the most known. In any case, never forget that 100%anonymity is something difficult to reach!

How to carry your personal XP software: Mojopac 21st June 2009

The first positive thing is that Mojopac can be installed on a common USB key or disk without dedicating the entire USB disk to it. For this reason we really think that Mojopac is one of the best solutions you can find if you need to carry some particular softwares always with you and you do not want to reinstall them each time on a different computer. Moreover, it is necessary to focus your attention on the fact that the software you use on your USB key with Mojopac does not influence the filesystem on the host PC. The installing program is very simple to manage and also common user can install Mojopac with few possibilities to make mistakes. When you disconnect Mojopac no personal information are left on the host computer. In few words we really think that this software can freely solve many needs when using Windows XP computers!

Free online tools to create websites or blogs. – Part 1 24th May 2009

When we decided to test some free online tools to better understand what is the -state of the art- to create webpages and posts. Posterous has just one graphic style but, sincerely, it looks great and it is not a big loss if you consider the simplicity of using it. Your gmail, yahoo, hotmail or aol email account is all you need to start your brand new blog and you can even decide to keep it private just using a password.

Usability: 8

Graphics: 7

Secure login (https): 0 – No

Secure navigation (https when managing the website): 0 – No

Possibility to use your domain name: 5 – Yes (godaddy.com or register.com)

Possibility to make your site private: 3 – Yes

Possibility to download (and save) your site: 0 – No

Average: 3.28

On the other hand, disposablewebpage also allows you to add photographs or sticky notes. Using the editor key (automatically created by the website when you sign-up) you can co-edit the website (or it should be better to say ‘webpage’) with your friends. It could be really useful but the average quality of graphics is not exciting and the features contained are very elementary. Disposablewebpage is something you can use as a agenda or journal to inform the world about a specific project.

Usability: 7

Graphics: 5.5

Secure login (https): No

Secure navigation (https when managing the website): No

Possibility to use your domain name: 0 – No

Possibility to make your site private: 0 – No

Possibility to download (and save) your site: 0 – No

Average: 1.78

Both these websites do not allow you to use https connections so the final average result is not too positive but we strongly believe that, in particular, posterous can satisfy the needs for blogs of enough people.

The most flexible free portable notepad for Internet: QuotePad 20th April 2009

QuotePad could easily work directly from a USB key and in all the PCs, Linux included if you use Wine. Moreover QuotePad contains a flexible multilanguage interface and a powerful filter which allows you to easily find the right note also between dozens of different ones. In our opinion the key feature is the reminder which is more useful you can imagine at a first glance. Moreover, QuotePad has a automatic and efficient backup that could easily configured for a better peace of mind of everyone and it is 100% portable on a common USB key.

PasteBay and bayimg two free websites to freely share texts and images on internet 13th April 2009

PasteBay is very simple to use, in just few clicks it is possible to type or paste also big amounts of text and decide if you prefer to keep them online for just a day, a month or forever. Moreover, adding your name (or every word or code you prefer) you can easily identify your notes. To share with your colleague or friend the note you created you have just to save it, open again the note clicking on the file-name you see on the left vertical bar and copy the address contained in the address bar. Then you have just to transmit the appropriate address and the password to your friends/colleagues. Please, be sure to choose a “strong” password if you want to keep the note “for your eyes only”. On the other hand, bayimg is a useful website which allows you to save and keep online your images. The service is very flexible (more than 140 supported formats) and it automatically allows you to choose a personalized removal code to avoid that “funny boys” could ruin your collection or (perhaps worse) your websites. You can also add tags if you would like to better spread your images all over the web.

How to access all the Linux ext2 and ext3 partitions when using Windows 29th March 2009

Ext2Fsd is a useful tool that can be installed on Linux OSs to directly manage Linux partitions. You can decide if you prefer to use the wizard  or the manual installation (zip files), in any case also the source codes of Ext2Fsd/Ext2Mgr/Mke2fs are downloadable. As general rule do not forget that when you are in your Linux partition you have to enter the Home folder and than selecting your username folder to actually have access to your files. Ext2Fsd allows you to decide if only read your Linux partition or decide to automatically mount this program at the PC startup. Using Show Properties (in Tools) you can also deeply collect many infos about all your partitions and Change Partition Type. Last but not least ext2fsd allows you to copy all the information on your clipboard.  This program could be useful if you do not want to use Linux Live CD.

How to install Google Gears and synchronize Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar. 15th March 2009

Preliminarly, it is necessary to underline that the key elements to use Google offline features are: your Google account, your favorite browser, a dedicated net-lap- desktop and some free hours (depending from the quantity of datas you want to synchronize). It is possible to setup Google Gears in just few clicks. First of all you have to go to http://gears.google.com and click on the big button and follow the instruction that will be visualized on the screen. As second step, you will access your Gmail account and in Settings you click on Labs. Then, you can activate the offline option and log in Gmail again after not more than a couple of secs.Now you are able to see a new button/active link named “offline”; as soon as you click on it, Firefox will ask you if you want to accept this new Google Gears feature (yes, of course) and an interactive window will immediately inform you about the status of the synchronizing emails. Obviously all the attached files will be copied too. When you open your Google Docs account, in the same way, you are able to save and share all your documents on one (or more) PC. In consideration of the last point we would underline that you can always synchronize your Gmail on more than one PC due to have more “remote backup” copies of your emails and documents. Furthermore, for your best convenience, it is possible to synchronize more than one account on your computer. To conclude we would like to focus your attention on the fact that the Google account (emails and documents) on your PC will not be protected by any password so, please, do not forget to protect your laptop/desktop with some good barriers (password account, encryption, etc..).

Useful external links:

Official Gmail Blog – gmailblog.blogspot.com…

Google Operating System – Unofficial news and tips about Google – googlesystem.blogspot….

FBackup and Edison: two powerful freeware to backup your datas and save energy! 15th February 2009

When we decided to test some backup freewares for Windows we found many different softwares but after some days we prefer to drastically reduce our activity to just a couple of them: Toucan (which is portable) and FBackup . At the end we preferred FBackup because it is really intuitive and after just few minutes you can use it with no risks about the results. In particular we were interested in its automatic update feature and in the multiple destination possibilities offered by FBackup . It allows you to “even shut down the computer once the backup successfully finished” and you can decide to backup your files in a zip file or to exactly copy them on yourusb or network HD in just few clicks. Moreover, we tested edison to optimize our settings in order to save more energy when using XP. This freeware is simple to use and helps everyone to avoid wasting electricity. In fact, edison does not contain any brand new features but it efficiently contribute to reduce the energy your PC uses especially when you does not need the monitor or during the night hours. In few words, edison is not more than a “easy-to-use energy-monitoring application”.
Last but not least, for a more efficient energy saving when using XP, it is possible to follow the monitor instructions from Microsoft :
1 – Click Start, and then click Control Panel;
2 – Double-click the Display icon;
3 – Click the Screen Saver tab;
4 – In the Monitor Power box, click the Power button;
5 – In the Turn off monitor box, select After 10 mins, or choose a time that you find appropriate.

Animoto: how to create a simple but effective -low resolution- slideshow! 18th January 2009

After the registration, you can immediately log in and start producing your first Animoto slideshow. You can directly upload your photographs/images from you PC or use that you have already saved on Flickr , Picasa , Facebook , SmugMug or Photobucket . Then you can select the soundtrack you prefer, the image speed and the video screen. After a couple of minutes (or less) you are able to watch your your new video. If you are not satisfied with the result you can also try again for a new rendering. Some friends of mine told me that you can  download you video using some Firefox add-ons as, for example, DownloadHelper and embed it on your website. Frankly speaking I do not not if this is compatible with the Animoto Terms of use but it is actually interesting.

Chrome Privacy Guard (CPG) and UnChrome: two ways to partially preserve your internet surfing. 21st December 2008

We have tested both these software and in few seconds we were able to remove the ID tracker in Google Chrome . It is better to understand that we removed just the Chrome feature that allows Google to track your searches and save them on its servers for some months but these software do not guarantee your complete privacy. In fact, you have to use other software as TOR or https proxy to keep yourself more anonymous if you prefer to highly defend your privacy when in Internet. In any case, Chrome Privacy Guard (CPG) and UnChrome are effective and very easy to use. We have not found any bugs during the tests and at the end we were really satisfied by UnChrome because we needed to use it just once a time. Suggested to all that people who believe that Google knows a little too much about themselves!

DD-WRT and Tomato: two open firmware to built your professional wi-fi lan! 14th December 2008

Personally, I confess that after some days of test with both the firmwares I decided to keep Tomato firmware on my old Linksys WRT54G v.2. My decision was influenced by the very intuitive and graphically clean menus I found on Tomato but I have to admit that DD-WRT has so many powerful features that it was not possible for me keeping a decision just for technical reasons. I believe that these two versions are the best open firmware you can find on the market on the market and they represent the most effective way to save money when you need a professional router. We found an interesting short manual on Tomato which has been written by lifehacker but  I suggest to read also the official “Tomato FAQ ” before installing it. For the DD-WRT manuals I found the best ones directly on their website . Last but not least, for the people who do not own a compatible router, surfing ebay I noticed that it is possible to buy some used routers with DD-WRT pre-installed at less than 50 USD.

How to easily manage and encrypted notes in different OSs: NoteCase 9th November 2008

Using different PCs (and running different OSs) I was looking for a simple freeware to manage my needs. After some tests I can affirm that NoteCase is the most versatile solution I have found. First of all it is very light and it runs on all the OSs I normally use (Ubuntu, XP and OS X). Secondly, NoteCase is very simple to use and it is able to simply manage also large amount of notes; in fact with this freeware you are free to create “child notes” and rename, encrypt, move or sort them in just few clicks. Moreover, NodeCase allows you to import .gjots2, .xml, .MM files or export notes in html and txt formats or, if you want, you can also export your notes in a standalone executable file protected by a password. In this way, your notes will be always available also to people who have notNotecase installed on their PCs. Please, do not forget that NoteCase can be downloaded also in its Nokia Maemo, OpenSolaris and Sharp Zaurus versions. To conclude, I would like to focus your attention on the possibility, offered by NoteCase, to directly insert images in your notes : that is freeware useful flexibility!

An high performant extension triplet for OpenOffice 3.0 2nd November 2008

As I pointed out in different occasions, OpenOffice really represents the real benchmark for all the Office software on the market. First of all because it is 100% free, secondly because it contains so many features that it can be considered as the most complete office platform in circulation. Today, I would like to introducethree particular extensions you can easily add to OpenOffice 3.0 to improve the effectiveness of your work. ooo2gd for example is really useful, light and easy to use. In less than ten seconds you are able to upload or download your documents (odt, sxw, doc, rtf, ods, xls, csv, ppt, pps) to and from Google Accounts and Zoho. Moreover, you decide if you prefer to store the Google Documents and Zoho password or if you want to sign in at each upload/download. On the other side, Sun PDF Import Extension uses Draw and Impress to simply modify (“changing dates, numbers or small portions of text”) the PDF documents which you want to change; also a no-professional user can reach acceptable results. Last but not least I want to focus your attention on Sun Presentation Minimizer which reduce the weight of your OpenOffice (and PowerPoint) presentations. Sun Presentation Minimizer allows you to decide what you want to compress (e.g. images, audio, etc..) and it automatically calculate the file size related to each change you are planning. Enjoy them!

Jeteye: an online way to organize, manage and share the results of your topics. 15th Septbember 2008

Yes, we are talking again about another Firefox add-on but, unfortunately, we really like testing them… We hope many of you have the same mania. Jeteye is, as usual, very simple to install and after the free registration and the Firefox restart it is ready to use (nothing new…). Using Jeteye is very intuitive, clicking on the icon on the status bar you will activate the sidebar. After the login, you have just to drag links, photographs, texts, etc.. into the right Jetpack (a nickname for the folder you have previously created using the menu Actions). Moreover, if you prefer you can directly manage your folders on the Jeteye website and decide if you prefer to keep your Jetpacks private by default or if you want to share then with all the community or just your friends (in this case they have to be registered to Jeteye. For the future, we strongly hope that Jeteye will develop the software allowing users to import or export Jetpacks from and to Firefox bookmarks. Something to try!

Symbaloo: the new way to enjoy your everyday online tasks! 17th August 2008

At a first glance Symbaloo attracted us for its simple and functional graphics. It is very very clean to see and, after the registration, we started to enjoy it. Adding, deleting or moving new buttons are very simple tasks. We were fascinated by the genial (for us) intuition of defining different groups of buttons using a personalized colour as background. Also after few days you are able to intuitively find the right location of every button without spending more than a couple of seconds!.  Clicking on a empty button you activate a flash menu which guide you in the creation of a new feature-button. It is possible to choose between somepre-configured buttons and the creation of a new one.  With Symbaloo , for example, you can read your news (just typing the favourite feeds), manage your emails (Gmail is also supported), listen your favourite online radios or just organize your bookmarks. Last but not least you can decide to trySymbaloo’s features without any registration but, obviously, your changes will not be saved when you switch off the computer. A nice… and useful new homepage for many web surfers!

Some elementary thoughts about OpenDNS 10th August 2008

OpenDNS is a easy solution for improve your freedom in all that situation where ISPs limit the access to some sites. First of all, it is necessary to clarify that OpenDNS is not a VPN service so all your web traffic could be monitored by potentially anyone! For more privacy we recommend to use TOR in conjunction with Firefox. Secondly, when possible (e.g. on your home network), it is better to modify the DNS addresses directly on the router because, in this case, it will automatically work on all your clients. Last but not least, a good contract with a offshore VPN provider can assure you a stronger privacy when surfing the net. Unfortunately, at the moment -Tor excluded-, we do not know any free VPN  so, please, advice us if you know any free VPN provider. Many thanks to all you for the ideas you will add to this brief post!

How to easily manage your photo and videos on Windows 29th June 2008

When I discovered Pictomio I was looking for something really new and easy to manage to install on a my friend desktop. Pictomio is a freeware which can be considered “new” for Windows and, at the same time, very easy to use after just a hour of training. Using Pictomio you are able to watch your photo collections in four different ways: thumbnails, filmstrip, single image and carousel. On the video side I have to focus your attention on a negative aspect: Pictomio is not able to manage flv files. I hope the next versions will implement this feature and also include an uploader which could allow to directly post our photo and video on Flickr,and YouTube.
Pictomio’s main features are:
– Image and video management
– Library
– EXIF editor
– 3D Folders
– Albums and Categories management
– 3 D Image carousel
– Slide show production
– Image rating
– Liquid zoom
Color pipette and the measuring tool
– multi-language menus
Last but not least, Pictomio allows you to add annotation to photos and video and the library options are very well structured. In minutes you will be able to find an old photograph using the few foggy elements you still remember. This program worths a try, suggested!

Foxit Reader 2.3: a new era to freely annotate your pdf files! 8th June 2008

Simple, clean and easy to use. These are the main characteristics we have found in the new version (2.3) of Foxit Reader . It is simple because all the commands are very understandable and clear to understand; clean because the graphics is really smooth and very readable; easy to use because after 15 minute we were able to rapidly use all the new features contained in this 2.3 version. This freeware allows you to really master your pdf files adding all the notes and geometric drawings you need. We tested Foxit Reader 2.3 with a couple of pdf files, for some days and at the end we were satisfied by the results: the two documents were full of our notes but till very readable also after we printed them. One tip if you use the Note Tool (Tools – Commenting Tools – Note Tools) you will not able to read or print them when using others pdf reader like Acrobat Reader … For this reason it is preferable to add comments using the Callout Option (contained in Tools – Typewriter Tools – Callout). All the text tools contained in the Commenting Tool menu (Tools – Commenting Tools) allow you to highlight, underline, strikeout (, etc…) your pdf text. Good Work!

CDBurnerXP: the best freeware solution to burn your CD/DVD/HD-DVD or Blu-Ray 1st June 2008

Just after the first test we were astonished about the time that CDBurnerXP needed to burn a heavy data DVD if compared with Roxio. After a deepere analysis we discovered that CDBurnerXP has all the features that a sophisticated user normally looks for when using a CD-DVD burner. In CDBurnerXP’s website you can find a complete list of all the features, some interesting screenshots and the download area. Moreover a portable version ofCDBurnerXP can be downloaded from http://cdburnerxp.se/downloads/portable/; this special version is supported by the CDBurnerXP team. CDBurnerXP is multilanguage (English, Spanish, German, Italian, etc..) and when you choose to create an audio CD-DVD you can listen what you are going to burn using the CDBurnerXP internal audio-player. Last but not Least, There is a “Print cover” option which allows to create in just few clicks personalised standard/slim/mini CD cases or DVD cases.

Scribd and Issu: two Web 2.0 online resources to boost your documents and magazines all over internet. 25th May 2008

First of all is necessary to say that these two websites are very simple to use and can dramatically help you to spread your ideas, researches and documents on the internet. After just few clicks (registration is required by both these website) you will able to own your personal library with professional features which will surely impress your readers. Scribs is very intuitive and allows you to upload and share your documents in many proprietary and free formats. Anyway, Issuu allows you to professionally manage your pdf creations analysing not only the number of readers but also discovering which pages (and articles) are the best and most read by your audience. Using the many features contained in these two websites you will potentially be able to create, for example, ebooks and newsletters with less costs for consulting and professional editing. I especially recommend IssuuScribd to that small and medium startups which want to spread their philosophy without spending big amounts of money during the first period of activity.

Sandboxie: the best sandbox freeware for Windows users. 14th April 2008

Sometimes, when I test freeware, I have some “secondary effects” in my Windows and, a couple of times, I had to format the hard disk and completely reinstall the OS. At the end I decided to find a solution which could solve these kind of matters. I read reviews about some different programs and finally I decided to test Virtual Sandbox 1.0 and Sandboxie . At a first look, Virtual Sandbox 1.0 is very impressive; you can “sandbox” some specific programs or you can also use a complete virtual desktop but during the installation, my NOD32 advised me about a security risk (for its heuristic engine there was the possibility of a virus in the installation file) and I was not able to understand if the report was correct or if I was experiencing a “false positive” alert. In any case, after a couple of hours of simulations I decided to disinstall the Virtual Sandbox 1.0 and I started to test Sandboxie. The Sandboxie installation file is light – just 350 KB – and the installation process is well self-explained in the the windows which appear on the screen. The first time you use it you will invited to visit a test-page through your “sandboxied” usual browser. After half an hour you will have learned how to use all the main features of this freeware and faster than you can image you will create the first personalized sandbox. In any moment you can test if one specific program is running in the sandbox, just clicking on the “Is Window Sandboxed?” option and following the easy instructions in the dialog box. Personally I also use Sandboxie at work to have a better protection against spywares and viruses when reading my emails but I think that everyone can find his/her personal best use for this software.

FreeMind and WiseMapping the winning pair for multiplatform and portable mind-mapping! 6th April 2008

In my opinion, VYM (View Your Mind) is still one of the best free mind-mapping software (clean, intuitive and easy to use) on the market but I had to look for something new when, for work reasons, I had the needs of using and sharing online my maps. After some tests I think I have found a reasonable solution: FreeMind plus WiseMapping . FreeMind is a free, multiplatform (Windows, Linux and MAC OS X) software written in java which can also be installed using JRE (Java Runtime) on a portable USB key . The FreeMind download page contains all the possible links to download the program according to your operating system: MS Windows, MAC OS X or Linux. For example, Freemind for Linux can be easily installed in each Debian based distribution using the specific .deb package. In the download page you will easily find also the .rpm package for Suse based distribution or the binaries for every other operating system. The FreeMind side menu contains all the graphics elements to create your maps, moreover, the main commands can be easily activated with the mouse right button. Moreover, FreeMind also allows you to export mind-maps to MM (FreeMind), HTLM, PNG JPEG, OPD, XSLT formats. Anyway, WiseMapping has more pleasant icons and it is equally simple to use. First of all, WiseMapping allows you to import files from FreeMind; secondly, one important feature is represented by the “publish” feature which allows you to really publish your mind-map (http://www.wisemapping.com/ c/publicView.htm?mapId=XXXX – where XXXX is the specific number referred to the file-) on internet or to insert it directly into your blog or website. Recommended!!

How to add a to-do list to your Google Calendar 16th March 2008

Personally I am fond of Google Calendar because it is very simple to use and easy to share with friends and colleguaes. But, unfortunately, Google Calendar has not a general to-do list I can use to remind events not strictly correlated to dates. After some “web searches”, I found Remember the Milk : an Australian online to-do features which can easily integrated in Google Calendar. First of all you have to sign up a free account in the website, then, when in the Remember the Milk homepage you have to click on the Google Calendar image to read some more information. With just one more click on the Google Calendar button you will be redirected to the Calendar homepage. After the login in your Calendar account, you will be asked if allow to add the Remember the Milk Calendar. After these few steps you are able to use your new to-do applet on Google Calendar. After the login in the Calendar, at the first use, “Remember the Milk” will ask you the password to its site to start saving your to-do events. Please, remember to leave empty the -Due- field to save a to-do event without linking it to a specific date. Fast, powerful and efficent!

Some features about FLAC: a lossless audio format for all the Operative Systems 24th February 2008

FLAC is a multiplatform (Linux, Windows, MAC OS X) Free Lossless Audio Codec which has the wonderful feature to compress our favourite music without any quality reduction. With FLAC it is really possible to listen to high quality music using much less space on your HDs or multimedia player (to test the compression ratio and the quality you can directly download some sam,ples from this Czech radio . Nowadays it is possible to find many desktop music players which support FLAC: (Winamp, VLC, SongBird, etc..). Moreover, the FLAC format is supported on many portable devices and installing the “hacking” Rockbox you can listen your FLAC music on iPod, Sansa, etc… Last but not least, it is essential to underline that the FLAC format is completely non-proprietary and its source code could be used to be implemented in new software. Last but not least, FLAC supports tagging and cover art.

CLEO y FEBE : la pareja mejor para el Backup de Firefox 17th February 2008

Con estos dos complementos para Firefox ya no será un problema formatear el ordenador perdiendo todos los favoritos y complementos que se tenia instalado en el propio navegador (Firefox) al igual que poderlos pasar a otro navegador de otro PC. Con la instalación de ambos estos dos complementos será posible tener una copia de seguridad actualizada según le indicamos o será posible también crear una en el momento que necesitamos copiar todos los necesario para guardar y volver a instalar otro. FEBE se encargará de efectuar un Backup de todos vuestro navegador (Firefox) y crear un paquete .xpi; este mismo paquete se volverá a instalar en vuestro nuevo navegador permitiendo así de volver a instalar todos vuestros complementos y recuperar también todos los Favoritos del anterior navegador. CLEO es un complemento especifico para la compresión de los datos contenidos en el .xpi de FEBE. Naturalmente yo lo he probado y todo funciona perfectamente, muy fácil para configurar y también muy fácil para volver a reinstalar todos los datos guardados. Si os interesa aquí tenéis las paginas donde bajar los dos complementos:

CLEO : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2942

FEBE : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2109

WinFlip a tiny solution to upgrade window graphical effects in XP. 10th February 2008

When we decided to try WinFlip we were really sceptic about the results we would have obtained by this program. At the end we were satisfied because we had not found bugs and it really does what he promises. The “flipping” graphical effects we obtained were really the same than in Vista: all the active windows were flipping and rotating in 3D on our screen. After the download of the small zip file (just 424KB) we easily installed the program and rebooted the computer (it is something we always prefer to do after installing new software). A couple of hours of testing later, we did not find any bugs and the program seems to work fastly. Working with WinFlip was clean and nice: something to try for all XP users who desire to upgrade this particular graphical feature.

A multiplatform free tutorial and presentation creation software: Wink 27 January 2008

First of all, I would like to focus your attention on the simplicity of this freeware . In fact, after the installation you can start using it just following the easy instructions you read in the subsequent menus. You can choose if you want to record the whole screen, a window or a “custom rectangle” (you decide the dimensions). In the first menu you can select some features: the most important is the “timed capture rate”. After some tests we suggest to use a 5 frames per second rate so that the video quality is fluid but the output file is not too heavy. Moreover, in the first menu you can decide if you want to insert the audio in your file and if you want to control your captures using the keyboard (“File” – “Preferences” to change the hotkeys) and/or the mouse. In the second and last menu you will find a reminder about the hotkeys to control Wink . To start enjoying Wink you have just to “minimize to tray” and start recording. When you want to see how your tutorial/presentation works you have just to click on “finish capture” and Wink will automatically show the captured frames. At this point you can manually add external audio, images, shapes, textbox, hyperlinks and buttons. To view your creation you have to choose between different rendered output files:Macromedia Flash (.swf), Windows executable (.exe) or uncompressed Macromedia flash (.swf). If you need a more static, printable presentation you can export your frames in htlm, pdf or PostScript format. Last but not least I really appreciated a particular post-production feature (in the “Project” menu) which allows you to “Resize all Frames”; in fact, using this command you can easily adapt the tutorial/presentation to your website needs.

Sage: the best and easiest Firefox add-on to read your favourite web feeds! (30th December 2007)

Sage is a light but effective RSS reader for Firefox which lets you to easily keep informed about your favorite web feeds. In particular, Sage allows you to easily organize the information received simply using Firefox. The Sage sidebar is intuitive and the options menu contains all the common features for the best use of this particular add-on. Moreover, the graphics is clear and pleasantly readable. Last but not least, Sage contains a dedicated option to import (or export) all your web feeds using the OPML format. We suggest this specific add-on to all people who do not want to use many program to manage their daily “internet life”.

Stixy (Beta version) an online useful (social) blackboard for all (19th December 2007)

Stixy is an easy online application which allows you to share (in just one screen) ideas, documents, photographs, notes and music in a very intuitive way. We made some tests on Stixy and we are completely satisfied. The widgets bar at the bottom of the page is very intuitive and we have not found any problem while uploading documents, photographs and music. First of all we found Stixy also very useful because we were able to quickly share ideas and tasks. Secondly Stixy can also be a funny social task to improve your social network, in fact the share option allows you to share your stuff with colleagues and friends. Last but not least, the option menu allows you to share your personal Stixy with all your collegues and friends.

Rockbox: the best open source firmware for mp3 players (18th November 2007)

We are very impressed by this opensource project: it can replace the firmware of many mp3 players actually on sale and add them some new features. For example, Rockbox allows you to play movies on a iPod Photo without any problems and with a wonderful video quality. We are not audio experts but the sound is too very clear and, after the installation, we did not regret the native iPod firmware. The graphic interfaces are very clean and easy to use. The “ideal” main Rock box menu is composed by photo, record, video, rockbox version, temp . Moreover, Rockbox plug-ins contain also a “games” options which allows you to play Doom and Gameboy, GameboyC, Z88 games (for people who remember them). Rockbox runs on many different machines from Archos (Jukebox 5000, 6000, Studio, Recorder, FM Recorder, Recorder V2 and Ondio), iRiver (H100, H300 and H10 series), SanDisk (Sansa c200, e200 and e200R series), and Apple (1st through 5.5th generation iPod, iPod Mini and 1st generation iPod Nano –not the Shuffle, 2nd/3rd gen Nano, Classic or Touch- ).

MusikCube: an impressive opensource mp3 player for Windows (07th October 2007)

First of all, it is better to underline the main feature of MusikCube : this program is really light and needs few hardware resources (especially if compared with iTunes). Moreover, MusikCube is technically and graphically well integrated in Windows and it is completely opensource. This Media Player has exactly the same features contained in iTunes: playlists, tags, dynamic playlists (50 last played, 50 newest, 10 most played, etc..) and something more: the plugins . In fact, you can choose between more than 20 useful free add-ons as “shutdown timer”, “YahooCube” and many formats as AAC, MOD, MPC, etc.. Last but least, MusikCube has a easy and reliable interface to transfer you favourite music -to and from- any external device (MP3 player, external HD).

Comodo Backup: an easy backup freeware for Windows users! (14th September 2007)

Comodo is a software/internet services company which has always kept my attention for the good freeware offered through its website. In particular, I have recently had the occasion to deeply test its Comodo Backup and I sincerely think that is one of the best freeware on internet in this category. The installer is a 12 MB file and the program can be easily installed in less than one minute. The old-fashion graphic interface is clean and simple to understand. The setting menu contains different useful options (log, temp files, etc..) and the possibility to protect your personalized configuration using a password.Comodo backup has been built to be very flexible. Clicking on New Backup you enter in a multibar menu where you find all the commands you need to obtain the best from your backup. For example it is possible to compress your backup, to decide for an incremental back up or to save your files via ftp on an external data bank. The features I prefer are two: the email notify feature (that let me know the backup results of my office computer also when I am far from there) and the test option which allows me to be 100% sure about the integrity of the backups I made.

HTTrack: the solution for your offline browsing (31st August 2007)

HTTrack is a terrific program which allows you to download and store complete websites. This freeware is full of options so you can decide what you really want to download (text, photos, music, etc..) and how many GB it can use on your hard disk. Moreover, HTTrack can also resume previous interrupted downloads. The program is very easy to use and usually it doesn’t slow down your CPU and its graphic interface is clean and the integrated wizard helps you during all the setup.HTTrack is also very useful when you want to deeply analyze the structure of complex websites. The Windows installer, with the integrated command line feature, can be downloaded directly from the official website . Before using HTTrack, please, consider that downloading an complete site you generate a large amount of traffic and create an extra cost for the website owner in terms of monthly bandwidth.

Useful links to websites specialised in teaching how to upgrade or repair your Macintosh desktop – laptops or your IPOD (6 July 2007)

One year ago I bought an old Macintosh laptop which had to be repaired. After a quick search in Internet I found many sites which offered to do the repair for me bur they were very expensive. For this reason I started to search manuals and/or guides which could help me to repair my laptop at a low cost. After so many months, I can say that one of my favorite website is http://www.powerbookmedic.com where, in the Free Take Apart Repair Manuals it is possible to find good manuals for every Macintosh (desktop or laptop). All the manuals are very detailed and every step (for upgrading or repairing) is very well explained. Moreover in this site you also find easy instructions about repairing, upgrading or dismantling your IPOD or IPHONE. http://www.ifixit.com/ is another good sites where, in the Fixit Guide Series , each manual is illustrated with self explanatory photographs and the texts are easy and well written.

Moreover http://repair4laptop.org/disassembly_apple.html contains an huge collection of manuals regarding upgrading, repairing and disassembling all (I think, really all) the different models of Apple/Macintosh desktops and notebooks. I have also found interesting information about regenerating Apple batteries consulting this site: http://www.applerepairmanuals.com/ . This site contains also punctual instruction about disassembling many Macintosh models.

Last but not least, for some tips and news about MAC OS I usually consult http://www.macfixit.com/ or http://www.modernmacrepair.com/links/ where I also find good links to Macintosh news sites. Please, don’t forget that on eBay you can usually find new and used parts for your Macintosh repairs/upgrades at honest prices. Good luck!

SpaceTime un Navegador 3D Revolucionario (24 June 2007)

SpaceTime es un Navegador verdaderamente interesante y futurista, de momento se encuentra en fase Beta pero después de ver alguna foto lo he aguantado y he decidido bajármelo para probarlo. El archivo es de 7MB pero lo malo es que el motor que utiliza es el mismo de Internet Explorer 7 y los requisitos hardware, para que funcione bien y rápido, son bastante selectivos (culpa del motor grafico 3D) Lo probé para ver que tal iba y tengo que decir que por ser en fase Beta funciona verdaderamente bien y no es lento para nada; la gestión de las ventanas en 3D esta’ muy bien. Aparte de la función de navegación se pueden encontrar también 4 funciones de búsqueda: en google, en ebay, en yahoo y en flickr. Después de empezar una búsqueda aparecen los primeros 10 resultados (en ventanas 3D) y sin con estos 10 resultados no se encuentra lo que se busca se puede seguir con lo siguientes, tienes muchas mas formas de ver lo que se esta buscando según se use, google, ebay, ecc.. Considerando que es todavía en fase Beta creo que se presenta ya como un navegador valido. Cosas a favor: la forma de búsqueda me parece estupenda. Cosas en contra: la parte hardware elevada para que pueda funcionar bien y el utilizo del motor de Internet Explorer 7. Aquí de lado os dejo el enlace de la pagina oficial si tenéis gana de bajarlo y haber que tal os parece: http://www.spacetime.com/

“Online Bookmark Manager”: the best Firefox Add-on to synchronize bookmarks between different computers
(2 May 2007)

During the past year I tried all the existing Firefox Adds-on to synchronize the bookmarks between my different home and office computers. My specific problem was to merge all the bookmarks without deleting the previous ones I had uploaded from the other PCs. One of the best adds-on I used, was Foxmark. It is well structured but it didn’t allow me to merge the bookmarks from more than one computer. At the end, I have found “Online Bookmark Manager “. This small add-on let me to merge (and definitively organize) all the bookmarks I stored in five different PCs. Online Bookmark Manager is easy to install, very simple to understand and full of powerful features that can satisfy also the more exigent users. To use Online Bookmark Manager it’s necessary to register on the website and download the plugin for Firefox. After the Firefox restart you can configure the settings. The main settings menu is divided in tabs: General (account username and password), Synchronize, Import and Export. For each of the last three tabs you can choose between commands as: Add, Import in a new directory, Replace. So, synchronizing bookmarks from different PCs becomes easy. First of all I suggest to Export all the bookmarks using the command Add (or “Import from a new directory” if you prefer) then you can organize them and finally Replace them with the Export command. The result will be one and just one, well organized, private bookmarks menu for all your PCs. Recommended!!

MP3Gain arreglar el nivel del volumen de vuestros MP3 (25 March 2007)

Seguro que mas de una vez os han pasado de tener que ir a bajar o subir el volumen mientras estáis escuchando vuestra musica favorita con vuestro lector de CD porque las canciones cambian de tono de una a otra, estas diferencias se pueden notar todavía mas cuando se pasan las canciones de CD a MP3 (la verdad que puede ser bastante molesto), con MP3Gain ya podéis corregir todos vuestros MP3 de manera que tengan todos el mismo nivel de volumen sin perder nada en calidad, aquí tenéis el enlace donde descargarlo y otro por leer un poco respecto a su funcionamiento (en ingles… sorry!) :

http://mp3gain.sourceforge.net/

http://www.linux.com/article.pl?sid=07/02/01/1633256

AJAX 13: how to bring a new -Office- life to an old MAC Powerbook G3 (233 mhz)! (18 March 07)

I have an old MAC Powerbook G3 with just 233 mhz and I needed a new “home client” to use for office purposes so I upgraded it with 384 MB of RAM, a new Hard Disk and I installed the MAC OS X 10.2.8 I had bought online. All was OK, apart some few problems with the interaction between the monitor and the OS, when I understood I wasn’t able to find (or buy) an Office suite for my “new” laptop… In fact I wasn’t sure that IWork 05 could run on it and, on the other hand, I was sure that, at the moment, a version of OpenOffice (and of its MAC versions) doesn’t exist for MAC OS 10.2.8. In the end I found AJAX 13 , a terrific website which was offering what I was looking for! AJAX 13 works only with Firefox but contains a complete multilingual (en, es, fra, por) office suite: ajaxWrite (you can save as .doc, .odt, .rtf, .txt, .pdf ) ajaxSketch (to create mind mapping docs), ajaxXLS (you can save as .xls but we weren’t able to create a new spreadsheet), ajaxPresents (you can save as .ppt, .appt, .odp ) and ajax Tunes (to listen to online music). Ajax 13 suite is simple to use, light (think about my old notebook) and based on AJAX based methodology. In few words now I’m using my old Powerbook G3 as a real -home client-. At the moment Ajax 13 can be freely used also without the registration but if you decide to register you obtain 1GB of free space where to save online your documents. I registered but I had to save all the files I created directly on my desktop because, at the moment, I can use the online storage only for ajaxPresents documents. I think that Ajax 13 people is working on the actual problems and in few months all the features that this site offers, will be 100% ready. Last but not least Ajax 13 is developing ajaxOS: a new OS, fully AJAX aware based on Linspire. AjaxOS will allow to use AJAX software directly from Firefox and it will be available for download “shortly” (we hope).

Portable Skype 3.0 (03 Jan. 2007)

I think that Skype has revolutionised our common way of communicate and in the past I used different (very smart) portable version I found surfing on the web. Some of these versions were well (and ingeniously) built.
Personally I have always preferred one of the most “ancient” portable version –Skype Mobile beta 0.02 – built by Kevster (I think) who used Junction to run Skype. It has been working greatly till today. The upgrades were the only problems I have always had with this software. In fact I had to upgrade Skype in my home pc and then copy some folders on the USB key to install the upgraded version.
Another good portable version –Portable Skype Launcher 2.0.0.76 – has been written by Rob Loach . This version, which runs without Junction, was my second choice.
Today, all changes!
Recently I found a new portable version of Skype –Portable Skype 3 – in a German site . This version is very simple to install on a USB (just -download and install-) and contains the last, state of the art , Skype. Portable Skype 3 is very well built and, at the moment, I haven’t found any bugs. The only difference from the previous versions is the lack of the “view history” option.
To conclude, I want to underline that if you are looking for a portable version, Portable Skype 3 is the software for you. Enjoy it!

(04 Jan. 06 – I ‘ve noticed that after few calls Portable Skype 3 auto-creates the traditional “History” menu. So now I say that it’s 100% complete!)

Hoversnap 0.8: the best snapshot tool I’ve never tested! (30 Dec. 2006)

This handy freeware is full of interesting features. First of all you can choose between different snapshot areas: full screen, active window and custom area. Moreover you can save your snapshot in different formats (jpeg, png, bmp and gif) using hotkeys. I love Hoversnap because I can directly upload the pictures using its integrated ftp feature. My tip: be sure to select the “Auto-generate filename on every capture” to really save every snapshot you take. You can download Hoversnap 0.8 directly from:

http://www.hoverdesk.net/dl/en/HoverSnap_v08.zip

IZArc: the best portable archive manager (ZIP, ISO, etc..) for Windows! (15 Dec 2006)

When I downloaded IZArc I thought to just test a portable Winzip alternative. After few clicks I discovered that IZArc is not a simply a Winzip alternative, it is the best archive manager I have never met. With IZArc you can open and create archive in many formats: 7-ZIP, A, ACE, ARC, ARJ, B64, BH, BIN, BZ2, BZA, C2D, CDI, CAB, CPIO, DEB, ENC, GCA, GZ, GZA, HA, IMG, ISO, JAR, LHA, LIB, LZH, MBF, MDF, MIM, NRG, PAK, PDI, PK3, RAR, RPM, TAR, TAZ, TBZ, TGZ, TZ, UUE, WAR, XXE, YZ1, Z, ZIP, ZOO . Moreover using IZArc you can convert the archives from one format to another just with a simple click. One of my favourite features in IZArc is the possibility of exploring ISO archives and converting them. With IZArc you can directly encrypt archives and automatically scan them with your favourite antivirus. This freeware is tiny, simple to use (the configuration menu is rich of intuitive options) and, for portable freeware supporters like me, it is 100% portable. Strongly recommended!

AutoGK: a freeware to watch your DVDs in the PSP
(.VOB to .AVI and .AVI to MPEG 4 – PSP)
(01 Dec 2006)

One of the most interesting features you can use in your PSP is the possibility to watch you favourite videos. Sometimes, when we are on the bus or on a train, we would like to watch our DVD movies using thePSP. Today, it is very easy to convert the DVDs we bought, in this few lines you will learn how to do in two simple steps. First of all, use AutoGK , a freeware which allows you to convert.VOB into .AVI files. After the installation of AutoGK , you have to insert the DVD in your computer, then from “My computer” right click on your DVD icon and select “Explore”, in the Video_TS folder (where you find all the file with e.g. the movie) you easily find the name of the movie file (usually this file is the biggest contained in the folder). Launch theAutoGK program and, from the main window, select the path and the name of the movie file you want to convert in “Input file” then select the path for the Memory Stick Duo in “Output file”.AutoGK will automatically select the audio tracks it finds on the DVD so you have only to select your language in the “Audio tracks” box. Do the same for the “Subtitle tracks”. Now, in the “Step 3” box you have to decide the quality or/and the size of your output file. At this point you have just to click on “Add job” and “Start”. If your DVD contains more video files, after “Add Job” you have to start again from “Input file”. After few tests you will be able to convert your movies in few minutes! I personally think thatAutoGK is a gorgeous freeware to watch the movies, we have legally bought, in our PSP.
Secondly
, you need another freeware. Go to http://www.nurs.or.jp/%7Ecalcium/3gpp/ and download 3GP_Converter034.zip . This web-page is in Japanese but don’t worry it’s simple to find the right link to the file. After that you will find a detailed description to right configure and use this freeware at http://www.engadget.com/2004/12/21/how-to-get-videos-and-dvds-onto-your-sony-playstation-portable/ (Just to know, I installed PSP Video 9 on my pc -it should allow you to convert .AVI into PSP files- but I personally had so many problems that I decided to dis-install it. I put the link just because, perhaps, you will be luckier than me with this freeware).

GreatNews: a free (and portable) RSS reader (21 Nov 2006)

GreatNews is the easiest RSS reader I’ve never met. It is a beta version but is very stable and easy to use. the preloaded RSS examples will help you to quickly understand how to use this freeware. At the moment you can download only the Windows version but I personally hope that a Linux (and Mac) version would bedownloadable soon. This software can easily installed also on a USB key and so it is very useful for people who don’t like to leave traces on unfaithful computers. The Greatnews’ web-page is:

http://www.curiostudio.com/index.html

and the freeware is downloadable in 18 different languages:

http://www.curiostudio.com/download.html

This freeware is really easy to manage: the cleanup function is very simple to use. The same is for the import-export functions whichrepresent a concrete “added value”. An efficient search engine, the internal browser and the del.icio.us button (in each news) complete this fantastic RSS reader. Last but not least you can choose your favourite “reading style” between six different options. In few words one of the best freeware I have discovered in the last six months!

Lyx, a multiplatform (Linux, Mac OS X, Windows), advanced document processor (12 oct. 2006)

The first time I found some information about Lyx I was fascinated by the users’ descriptions. Immediatly I decided to learn more about this freeware. These are just some results of my investigations.
First of all, Lyx is not a text editor (like Words, OpenOffice, etc..), it is a “document processor that encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents not their appereance” . For this reason, using Lyx is not so simple but this freeware could be very useful if you are planning to professionally write a book or a university essay. It’s also possible, for example, to insert photographs (many professional formats are supported) or import texts (.txt).
I spent more than two hours trying to import a photographs in the document but, in the end, I discovered that I had to click: Insert then Graphics and then select the picture (this wasn’t simple to understand for beginner like me). The menus are full of useful options and after some hours of training is possible to create professional (dvi, pdf 7.0) documents with photographs, graphics, labels, notes, indexes, etc..
You can insert hiperlinks but personally I don’t like the font that Lyx uses in this case.
The installation is not so simple because you have to install 3-4 different packages (softwares). I installed Lyx in its Windows version and I liked finding a very effective “Lyx Installer”.

http://developer.berlios.de/projects/lyxwininstall/

The only problem I found with the Lyx Installer was the GSview package so the second time I tried to install Lyx, I had GSview installation software ready (you can download it at http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/gsview/get48.htm ) and I launched the GSview installation when the Lyx Installer asked the authorization to install it. I like this freeware for the top graphic results I can obtain using it. All the time I’m spending to learn how to use it is a good investment for future essays I’ll write. To conclude, I strongly believe that Lyx is a very stimulating, effective, multiplatform freeware.


How to create PDF files: portable PDF creator. (26 sept. 2006)

I use PDF Creator to create PDF files when I can work with one of my desktops. But sometimes, as many other people, I need to create pdf documents when I use computers in internet cafès.
A good solution I’ve found is a particular feature in portable OpenOffice.

http://portableapps.com/apps/office/openoffice_portable

In fact this portable freeware let you to create files in pdf format simply using the dedicate button (export directly as pdf) which is positioned just near left of the printer icon (if you prefer you can also use the “file” menu and then the “export as pdf” button).
The saved pdf files haven’t all the same features of acrobat files created with proprietary software but are equally nice, sufficiently safe and readable.
This particular feature contained in Portable OpenOffice (as in the main version OpenOffice) is simple to use and very useful to store in a USB key.Please, try this portable freeware and, if you are satisfied, post me a comment describing your experience!

GIMPShop = GIMP with a friendly interface! (05 sep 2006)

I personally had some problems in understanding GIMP buttons (I know, it’s my fault but unfortunately I learned to use PCs using windows..), so when I found this particular version of GIMP I was very very curious.

www.gimpshop.net

GIMPShop is a solid multiplatform freeware (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X) and the official site has also a technical blog about the freeware.
Gimpshop has a very simple graphic interface and it’s simple to learn how to use all its features simply playing with some sample photographs.
There are many plugins preloaded in the freeware and it’s also possible to add others when you want.
Personally, I wasn’t able to find missing features, I mean, I strongly believe that GIMPShop has the same commands than in other “more famous” photoshop softwares.
If you want to create professional logos, banners, PAL-NTSC images (or simply retouch your photopraphs or customize cd covers, floppy labels and toilet papers!) this is the perfect freeware for you all !!!

XnView – A good graphic reader and converter (4 sep 2006)

I was surfing in internet to find a good freeware reader for a graphic file when I found this program.

www.xnview.com

It was a wonderful discover! Not only XnView is a good reader but it is also a graphic converter! The program is easy, multiplatform (windows, linux and MacOS X) complete and naturally freeware.
Moreover I successfully put XnView on a USB key without any bugs. In this way I obtained a portable version of the program which is also down-loadable (directly from the site) in its Pocket PC version.
The program has a good graphical interface and, after few minutes of “training”, is simple to use. The menus are clear and the commands very simple to understand.
I like this program for some interesting (and very simple) features it has. In fact, with only few clicks, you can also create (executable) slide shows or web pages or vey practical graphic “contact sheets”.
I strongly recommend XnView for people who want an easy but powerful graphic reader – converter!

Smart-Tab (29 ago 2006)

Some weeks ago, Tyberius suggested us his program which substitutes the alt-tab dialog in windows.
I tried Smart-Tab and I think that it’s a very interesting freeware.

http://smarttab.org/

First of all, Smart-Tab is light and not invasive. In fact the program doesn’t permanently install anything in your pc. If you want to try it, you have to run the file. Then, if you like Smart-Tab, you can decide to put the file in your startup folder.
Secondly, it’s possible to personalize the Smart-Tab colors and shadows. Last but not least Tiberius provides clear instructions about the correct use of the program, the customization also with a very simple and understandable example. Thank you Tyberius!

Juice (20 Aug 2006)


I think that between the freeware podscat players, Squeeze is very well done and simply to use.

http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/

In fact the main window is clean and effective structured. New podcast channels are very simple to find and adding them in the preferites is also faster. If you prefer you can directly add new podcast channels writing their addresses directly in the apoosite bar. This multiplatform freeware could also be used on a USB Key and, with some simple changes in the “preferences” menu, can be trasformed in a perfect, portable podcast player. Changing the “path” in “download podcasts into this folder” it’s possible to save new podcasts directly on a USB key. In this way you will listen to new podcasts using the mp3 player you prefer. Just for example I tried using XM play (another slim, portable freeware) with good results.

The Open CD (08 Aug 2006)

An useful site where it is possible to find an essential (but very practical) freeware collection is:

http://www.theopencd.org/

This site is very clean and it’s possible to download the complete freeware collection (one CD) or the single files.
The collection is dived into six useful chapters (Productivity, Design, Internet/Networking, Multimedia, Utilities, Games) and the freewares included represent a good collection for people who are starting to use freeware.

Freeware websites

This page is a good start for people searching freeware:

http://www.pricelesswarehome.org/

Office Suites

I think that Openoffice is best free office suite today. Someone knows something better?

http://www.openoffice.org/

How to create free pdf files

I tried many softwares to create free pdf files and at the moment the only one that satisfies my needs of versatility, security and privacy is pdf creator .

It is possible to download this freeware from:

http://www.pdfforge.org/

or

http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/

The software is easy to install and at the moment I haven’t found any bugs. Creating a new pdf file is very simple. After the installation you can use your usual Word program (e.g. Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, etc..) and simply click on “Print”. Then select your new “PDF Creator” Printer and click on OK. A new menu will appear and you can explore all its functions. To set up your quality and security parameters click on pdf icon on the left box and start using this amazing freeware.

Portable Agenda

I downloaded many different agendas but I wasn’t able to find the right one for my necessities. At the moment I personally believe that the best freeware agenda on the web is the free version of Essential PIM.

http://www.essentialpim.com/index.php

for the download go to:

http://www.essentialpim.com/index.php?r=download

There are two different versions. The first is the classical freeware for the desktop but I prefer the portable one because it’s more flexible during the working days.
Please, let me know your opinions on this freeware or suggest me a better one you are currently using.

Foxit Reader

Acrobat Readertm is a very powerfull program but it is not portable (there is also a version for Windows Mobiletm ). For my job I need a more portable version, something I can use on a USB Key.
In my opinion, a good solution is Foxit Reader, a very light program by Foxit Software.

http://www.foxitsoftware.com/


Using Foxit reader I have almost the same functions than in Acrobat Readertm but I have also the possibility to use it everywhere. Last but not least Foxit Reader have different versions and it could be used also on computers with Linux or Windows Mobiletm .

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