BOOT CAMP 177 (31/05//01)





In the third and final instalment on this short series on shareware and freeware we have five more programs that you and your PC simply cannot live without… If this is your first time downloading programs from the Internet I strongly urge you to have a look at parts one and two, which explain how to access, file, unzip and install programs on your PC.  You should also make sure you have an up to date virus scanner on your PC, like AVG Antivirus, which was featured in last week's Boot Camp.


Don't forget, if you download and continue to use any shareware programs you should play the game and pay the licence fee, and one last word of warning, we cannot provide any advice or support for these programs, which you use entirely at your own risk. 



ALDO'S MACRO, Windows 9x & ME

Freeware, 30kb

How much time do you waste each day doing repetitive tasks on your PC? Muting the volume when the phone rings is a typical example. First you have to manoeuvre the mouse pointer onto the tiny loudspeaker icon in the System Tray, click, wait, then click again and all the while your life is ebbing away… What you need is a macro, a simple little program that automates any job involving  number of actions using the mouse and keyboard, including Ctrl, Alt and Shift combinations. Aldo's Macro works on any Windows program and it is incredibly easy to use. Just set it to record by pressing the Scroll Lock key, do whatever it is you do then click scroll lock again to stop recording. Give your newly created macro a name and now all of the actions you just made can be repeated with a single press of the F12 key. It can record up to ten macros, the file is tiny, a mere 30kb, so it downloads in just a few seconds, and best of all it is absolutely free!



FROGGY v1.0, Windows 9x, NT & 2000
Freeware, 1.3Mb

What's the weather doing today? Of course you could always look out of the window but where's the fun in that? If you install Froggy the weather frog on your PC not only will he tell you the weather for your locality but at the click of a mouse you can find out what's happening in more than 700 cities around the world – handy if you're about to go on holiday. Froggy updates its weather database every time you log on to the Internet. The thumbnail report includes temperature (Celsius or Fahrenheit) and general conditions and you also get an instant appraisal from Froggy, who appears on your desktop, on his ladder. The higher up he is the better the weather, and for good measure he comes with accompanying croaking sound effects. Froggy can be set to load automatically with Windows, if you like he will disappear as soon as your mouse pointer comes close, or stay in the background until summoned. The Froggy web site also includes two frog-oriented interactive games (Reverse and Mastermind), to while away those rainy days.




REAL PLAYER 8 BASIC, Windows 9x, ME, NT, 200, Max, Unix

Freeware, 4.7 to 13Mb

Real Player has become the standard media player for Windows, able to handle a wide range of streaming audio and video formats and it is still the first choice for a lot of Internet users, and that is in spite of the recent appearance of Microsoft's rival (and still buggy) Windows Media Player 7. Several versions of Real Player are available and all of them are very good but the free to download Basic Player 8 has more than enough functionality for most people, however it can be hard to find. Look for the Free Download button on the home page, and then click the RealPlayer 8 Basic link (blink and you'll miss it), on the page that appears. Installation is very simple and once it is on your PC it will open automatically and play or display files whenever you click on a relevant Internet page or link. RealPlayer will also let you listen to the thousands of radio stations on the Internet, view movies and listen to your collection of MP3 files. Another 'must-have' program for all Internet connected PCs.



SMARTCLOCK, Windows 9x, ME & NT

Freeware, 62kb

The standard Windows clock is a sorry little affair, lurking in a corner of the System Tray and you need a magnifying glass to see it. Smart Clock adds a big bold clock (or a small discrete one) to your desktop with an analogue or digital display. You can choose from a variety of styles and customise the colours and fonts and place it anywhere on the screen. It will vanish as soon as your mouse pointer touches it, so it won't interfere or obscure what's on the screen. It is highly configurable; you can switch the seconds function on and off and set 12 or 24-hour format and an AM/PM indicator. Best of all it has a built-in single-event 24-hour alarm with variable snooze facility that can be configured to display an on-screen message and play a sound (it comes with a Klaxon), you can record your own or use a custom sound. Just the thing to wake you up after a long lunch…



ZONEALARM, Windows 9x & ME

Freeware, 1.6Mb

Did you know that whilst you are on-line it is possible for others to 'hack' into your computer, read files and possibly gain access to personal or sensitive data like passwords and PIN numbers? Although the risk is relatively small for a normal short-term dial-up connection, as more of us start using 'always-on' and high-speed Internet services like ADSL it can become a real threat. ZoneAlarm is an advanced 'Firewall' program that restricts access to your PC, both from outside interference, and from 'Trojans' and programs on your PC that connect to the Internet without your permission. ZoneAlarm loads automatically and operates behind the scenes, checking incoming emails for viruses and worms and as soon as it detects an unauthorised connection – from or to your PC -- a warning flashes up on the screen, alerting your to the fact, and in the case of an outside intrusion, it displays the IP address of the attacker, and the facility to go on to the Internet and see where it is coming from. It's the sort of program you'd happily pay for, but there's no need, it's completely free!


Next week – Camcorders and Computers





Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line -- high speed digital connection using existing telephone lines. ADSL has the facility to be “always on”, so there is no need to dial up a connection



Technique used to send sound and pictures over the Internet. Data is 'buffered' or stored in a temporary memory by player software on the PC to minimise the interruptions that would otherwise occur as data on the net is sent in chunks or 'packets'.



Program on a PC that allows unauthorised access to files whilst on line




One of the most annoying tricks webs site pull is to open multiple browser windows, and 'pop-ups' usually without so much as a by your leave. This can happen very quickly and in some cases they open faster than you can close them, or they open in 'Kiosk' mode, where there's no close or minimise icons to click on. The trick is to use the Windows shortcut Ctrl + W to close them quickly, one, by one. You could also use the Alt+F4 shortcut, but it's more of a stretch and there's the danger that if you get a bit careless you might shut another program down as well

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