BOOT CAMP 080
SHAREWARE AND FREEWARE, PART 2
Shareware and freeware might just restore your faith in a
world gone mad, where the boss of a computer software company can amass a
personal fortune greater than the combined national assets of several small countries.
This week we've put together a selection of ten genuinely useful programs (actually
only eight of them are useful, the other two are just for fun…) that are either
completely free, or cost a fraction of their commercial counterparts. These are
some of the missing bits from the operating system, applications and office
suites that came with your computer, that will make you and your PC more productive,
easier to use and more secure.
Don't expect any fancy packaging, inch-thick manuals or free
helplines, and be prepared to invest a little time and effort in downloading
them from the Internet or searching through magazine cover discs. However, the
rewards and savings are considerable, and you'll have the satisfaction of
knowing that you're helping to support and small but vitally important part of the
computer software industry.
We covered the basics in last week's Boot Camp; to recap
briefly, you will need an up to date anti-virus program and an unzip utility,
and if you intend to go on using any of these programs don't forget to register
and pay any licence fees. The programs are available from the web sites listed,
most of them can also be found in major shareware libraries (see below) and on
computer magazine cover mount CD-ROMs. Finally the obligatory disclaimer. We
have tried them all, and they worked fine on our PCs, but we cannot take responsibility
for any nasty things they might do to your system, nor can we provide technical
support or answer any queries. If you like what you see please tell us about
it, and if you have any favourites of your own we would like to hear about them.
ACDSEE 32, 1.79Mb, 30-day shareware trial, Windows 95/98/NT
ACDSee is a fast and efficient image viewer perfect for
viewing the contents of Internet downloads and cache files. It supports all of
the most commonly used image file formats, including BMP, DCX, animated GIF, IFF, JPEG, PCD, PCX, PIC, PNG, PSD, TGA,
TIFF and WMF. Simply click on the icon in the easy to use directory window and a
small thumbnail preview appears almost instantly, another click opens it full
size, or you can move and copy the file to other locations, copy it to the
clipboard, zoom, print or create a slide show.
DEMONSTAR 3.0, 5.8Mb, shareware, Windows 95/98/NT
All work and no play… Demonstar is an good old-fashioned alien
shoot-em up combining bits from the most popular arcade games, like Space
Invaders and Asteroids, but brought up to date with superb graphics and sound
effects, just be careful, it's compulsive!
EZDESK, 84kB, shareware, Windows 95/98/NT
This brilliant little utility puts you in complete charge of
your desktop. It manages icon and folder, hiding or minimising windows,
clearing history and run lists, it provides you with a set of 'hot keys' to
perform various functions (save folders, shutdown etc.) and if that isn't
enough it can save and restore your preferred desktop layout.
INTERNATIONAL PGP, 6.9Mb, freeware, Windows 95/98/NT
Pretty Good Privacy is the de-facto data encryption program,
it's so powerful that the US Government classed it as 'munitions' and tried to
prevent its distribution. This 'International' version is free to use and is one
of the very best ways of making sure that any files stored on your PC, or you
send (or receive) over the Internet remain private.
INTERNET TIMER 4, 1.2Mb, shareware 30-day evaluation,
If you want to keep an eye on the time you spend on line,
and the other members of your family, Internet Timer will keep you up to date.
It features taskbar displays showing time and cost, it can be set up for
multiple users and there are alarms to warn you when you reach time or cost
MICROSOFT POWERTOYS, 209kB, freeware, Windows 95/98
Something free from Microsoft! Powertoys are a set of tools
that put you in charge of how Windows 95 looks and works. It includes the
powerful Tweak UI utility, for managing behind the scenes operations, icons and
Windows Explorer plus lots of useful updates and enhancements. If you are using
Windows 98 you will find a later version of Powertoys on the CD-ROM
installation disc in the Tools folder, in a file called 'Reskit', look at the
readme file first, for installation instructions.
MY OWN BACKUP, 1.1MB, freeware, Windows 95/98
Sooner or later your PC will keel over and die and if you
haven't made backups of all of your important data and systems files you could be
in big trouble. My Own Backup makes it easy for you, it can be configured to
work in the way that suits you best by creating compressed backups that you can
save to floppy discs or any other drive or your choice. If the worst happens
there's a restore facility that will hopefully get you back up and running
again in double quick time.
REAL 3D ICONS, 950kB, freeware, Windows 95/98/NT
If you are bored with your Windows desktop why not liven it
up by changing your mouse pointer and cursors. Real 3D is just one of a huge
number of animated pointer collections on the Internet, and a good place to
start if you've never dabbled with this kind of thing before, since it's well
documented, easy to download and install.
SHREDDER 95, 1.3Mb, trial version limited to 20 'shreds',
Normally, when you delete a file or program in Windows all
that happens is that its name is removed from the disc directory, the contents remain
on the disc, and can be recovered, until they are overwritten. Shredder does the
job properly, by completely removing all traces of a program, and overwriting
the data so that absolutely nothing remains. Use it wisely, there's no going
back once you click the delete button!
STAY ALIVE, 450kB, shareware 30-day evaluation, Windows
When the dreaded blue screen of death or a fatal error
message appears on your screen what can you do? If Stay Alive is running on
your system there's a fair chance you'll be able to recover from a crash, at
the very least it should allow you to save any open files or documents before
the inevitable re-boot.
Next week – Essential backups
Means of protecting files and data by scrambling the
information to make it unintelligible. Encrypted data can only be read using suitable
software, unlocked with unique decryption 'key'
A combination of two or three keys strokes that activates a command
or a program
Reduced sized image, quicker to load and display and cuts
down on memory resources
If you are using Outlook Express and you receive and send a
lot of email then your Inbox and Outbox folders could be swallowing up a lot of
valuable hard disc space. Get into the habit of regularly 'compacting' the
files, this can also make them small enough to backup to a floppy disc. Click and
highlight the selected Inbox or Outbox folder icon then go to the File menu,
select Folder and Compact Folder. If you want to backup your email you will
find it in C:/program files/Outlook Express/Default User. Inbox and Outbox
files come in pairs with '.idx' (index) and '.mbx' (mailbox) extensions, and
must be copied or saved together.