BOOT CAMP 212 (12/02/02)




Last week, in part one of our brief introduction to the wonderful world of freeware and shareware we looked at five essential utilities that can help to download and manage files, protect your PC from viruses, keep hackers at bay and rid your machine of spyware. This week we’re concentrating on programs that can improve your machine’s performance, configure it to suit your way of working and make Internet browsing a lot more enjoyable by zapping those pesky ‘pop-up’ advertisements.


In case you missed part one it’s worth pointing out that the programs we’re looking at are either free or very cheap and widely distributed over the Internet and on computer magazine cover-mount CD-ROMs. If you find them useful and use them beyond the trial period it is good manners to pay the licence fee. This will usually entitle you to support and upgrades and it encourages development in this vitally important sector of the software industry. Next week we’ll be looking at programs that can help you to make the most of your computer’s multimedia capabilities.



POPUP STOPPER, 450kb, Windows 95/98/NT4/2000/Me, freeware

Apart from your connection and ISP subscription fees it costs nothing to surf the web but we all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, which is why many web sites are plastered with adverts and banners. However, of late there has been a more insidious attempt to get across commercial messages and that’s the extremely tiresome ‘pop-up’ ad. Pop-ups appear on your screen without so much as a by your leave; some of the more persistent ones won’t go away when you click on the close icon, or another ad appears. Popup Stopper is a small freeware program that gets rid of these intrusions by automatically cancelling them before they have a chance to show up on the screen and it can alert you with a warning sound, to let you know another one has bit the dust, or you can take control manually and erase them with simple mouse and keyboard shortcuts.



WOPR PLACEBAR, 227k, Windows 95/98/NT4/2000/Me, freeware

The mighty Microsoft Office 2000 set the benchmark for office suites but there’s plenty of room for improvement, which is where the WOPR Placebar Customiser comes in. This incredibly useful little program saves you time and effort by putting you in control of File Open/Save dialogue boxes in programs such as Word and Excel. With just a few clicks you can change the buttons and file locations to suit your needs. This outstanding freeware program has become increasingly difficult to find of late but it’s still available from the link above, just type ‘wopr’ in the search field.



RJH EXTENSIONS, 673kb Windows 95/98/NT/2000, freeware

Windows Explorer is fairly basic and it does the job but do you get the feeling it could do so much more? RJH Extensions, Windows Explorer into powerful file management program. Simply right click on any folder or file in Windows Explorer and you will be presented with a range of extra facilities. These include a much-needed Print option that lets you print out the contents of any folder. If you want to get rig of a folder, permanently, just click Shred, and all traces of it will be erased from your hard disc. You can stop others accessing your files or folders with the powerful password protected encryption system, files can be sorted according to extensions, copied with a single click of the mouse or renamed singly or in groups. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without it!



TWEAK UI, 209kb, Windows 95/98, freeware


Arguably the most useful freeware utility of all time. Tweak UI (the UI stands for User Interface) is part of a suite of utilities called PowerToys. Tweak UI was developed by Microsoft to allow users to make significant changes to the way Windows looks and operates, without having to go anywhere near the Registry (the critical system files that control Windows). Tweak UI for Windows 95 is available from the Microsoft web site (see address) the Windows 98 version is included on the CD-ROM disc, but it’s not loaded by default, you’ll find it in the Tools\Reskit\Powertoy folder. Unfortunately it was omitted from later versions but the Win 98 version seems to work quite happily in Windows 98 SE and ME. Once installed you are in control of your desktop – from how the mouse operates to removing those annoying arrows on shortcuts -- and there’s an interesting section called ‘Paranoia’, that clears most (but not all) of the history logs and data files that operate behind the scenes in Windows, that keep track of what you get up to…



FRESH DIAGNOSE, 960kb, Windows 95/98/NT/2000, shareware

Remember when your PC was new and how it used to fly along? Your applications opened and closed more or less instantly and you didn’t have to wait ages for the machine to boot up and shut down. As you load more programs on your computer it slows down, but which ones are causing the problem? Fresh Diagnose is for more advanced users, it gives your PC a comprehensive health check, analysing CPU, hard disc, memory and video display performance and comparing them with benchmarks and by taking regular ‘snapshots’ of your system you can compare past and present configurations, and hopefully spot problems, before they become serious.


Next week – Freeware and Shareware, part 3





Central Processor Unit – the main microprocessor chip in a PC



Internet Service Provider -- a company providing Internet access, an E-mail address and a mailbox where messages sent to you are stored before they're downloaded on to your PC



Simply deleting files in Windows doesn’t remove them from the hard disc, the space they occupy is simply marked as available and they can still be retrieved. Shredding removes all traces of deleted files by overwriting them with random or meaningless data



This week’s extra bonus freeware program is Drive Rescue, a powerful file recovery utility that could save your bacon one day! If you’ve ever deleted a file by accident Drive Rescue is your best chance of getting some of all of it back, it even works on removable media and memory cards. The zip file is 1.2Mb, it runs on all versions of Windows and it can be downloaded from:

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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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