BOOT CAMP 176 (24/05//01)





Following on from last week's introduction to shareware and freeware we'll be devoting the next two editions of Boot Camp to our top ten favourite downloads. It's a somewhat eclectic collection of applications, utilities, games and oddities that I hope you'll find useful or amusing. Some of these programs are 'zipped' so you will need a decompression utility like WinZip on your PC in order to install them, (see last week's Boot Camp for details), also make sure your virus scanner is up to date, or make AVG Antvirus your first port of call!


In the case of the shareware programs, if you continue to use them beyond the trial period please pay the license fee, it's only fair. Finally, by way of a disclaimer, you download these entirely programs at your own risk and we cannot provide any advice or support. Here's the first five programs, the remaining five next week.



ACDSEE, Windows 9x, ME & Mac

Shareware, 8.1Mb

ACDSee doesn't sound terribly exciting but it is widely acknowledged to be one of the fastest and most powerful image viewers on the market and your PC is incomplete without it. This sophisticated program can handle more than 40 image formats and it can peer into programs and folders, revealing pictures and graphics you never knew existed. You only have to see what's lurking in your Internet Temporary Files folder to realise how useful it can be. The program is based on an easy to use Windows Explorer type interface with a large thumbnail window, or it can preview the entire contents of a folder and display an image full size with a single click. Various enhancement tools are included making it ideal for owners of digital still cameras and it can convert files singly, or in batches, from one format to another. The download is a fair size but don't let that put you off, it's well worth the time and effort. However if you find that a bit too large for comfort or you have a slow Internet connection look out for ACDSee on PC magazine cover mount CD-ROMS.



AVG ANTIVIRUS 6.0, Windows 9x, ME & 2000

Freeware, 5.0Mb

If you haven't got any anti virus software on your PC you really are playing with fire! At any one time several hundred viruses are doing the rounds, infecting Internet downloads and emails. Fortunately most of them are relatively harmless but there are plenty of really destructive ones on the loose that can destroy all of the data on your machine and render it useless. AVG Antivirus works as well as most of the commercial programs and its extensive library of virus 'signatures' is regularly updated to include the latest threats.  In fact the only real difference is that it's free, all you have to do is fill in a simple questionnaire download the program and an unlock key will be sent to you a few minutes later in a confirmation email. The program is simple to configure and once set up operates in the background, keeping a constant check on your PCs and if the worst happens it will automatically quarantine and repair infected files. If you've put off getting a virus scanner because of the cost, you no longer have an excuse!



INCREDIMAIL, Windows 9x, ME & 2000

Freeware, 5.5Mb

Email 'client' programs, like Outlook Express and Netscape Messenger are all very efficient and businesslike, but when it comes down to it, they're not much fun. Of course you can always jazz up your messages with a coloured or patterned background or add some multi-colour text, but that's about as interesting as it gets. Incredimail brings a bit of glitz and yes, dare we even say, some sparkle and glamour to your emailing. You can set it to notify you of incoming messages with a butler walking onto your desktop and announcing that you have mail, or choose from a wide selection of comic characters animals and graphics, most with accompanying sound effects. Make your correspondents sit up and take notice of your messages (give them a good laugh or irritate them…) with scores of downloadable backgrounds, 3D graphics, templates, animations and sounds from large and growing galleries on the Incredimail home page. The program is quite large but it is very easy to use and has almost all of the functionality of more 'serious' email programs.




RJH EXTENSIONS 1.3, Windows 9x, NT, 2000

Freeware, 673kb

The oddly named RJH Extensions is one of those small but incredibly useful little programs that you will wonder how you ever managed to live without. Most of the time you will never see it, but open Windows Explorer and right-click on a file or folder and you'll see just what it can do. It's a long list but the highlights include a file shredder – click the option and the file will be completely destroyed – it can quickly rename single or multiple files, you can protect files from prying eyes with a powerful encryption facility and create copies with the click of a mouse. Other options include an Organiser, for sorting files according to their extensions, it can create a text file detailing all of the items in a file or folder, and it provides a solution to one of the longest running problems, and main annoyances with Windows Explorer, namely a Print Directory facility whereby you can print out a complete list of the contents of folders, sub-folders and files. 




Shareware, 3.1Mb

The Solitaire game in Windows is an all time classic and it can still prove highly addictive and diverting, especially on long journeys or in boring meetings. However, sooner or later you will want to try your hand at something a bit more challenging, which is where Solitaire Wizard comes in. This is a compilation of no less than 16 variants of your favourite one-player card game including some old favourites like Carlton and King Albert. It also features a version of Klondike, which lets you set your own rules. There's lots of extra features too, like 'undo', which lets you take back multiple unwise moves, you can choose card backs and backgrounds, the program keeps a detailed log of every game you have played and if the boss walks in you can save a game in progress, and pick it up later when the coast is clear! The program is shareware but registration only costs around £9.


Next week – Top Ten Downloads, part 2





Utility that permanently deletes files that have been 'erased' by Windows, but which still remain on the disc drive



Reduced sized image, quicker to load and display and cuts down on memory resources



Unique segment of code or pattern of behaviour that helps a virus scanner to identify a virus or email worm



If you have a scanner here’s a quick, simple and very cheap trick that might help to improve picture quality, especially if it's a budget model with only rudimentary scan controls. Try this, place a sheet of black paper or card behind the picture or image that you are scanning. The card will cut down reflections and glare from the normally white backing pad, which can result in better contrast, crisper colours and more accurate mid-tones.

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Boot Camp Index















Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME






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