BOOT CAMP 544 (30/09/08)

Freeware Top Tens part 8, Odds & Ends


It’s time to wind up our guided tour of the best free software money can’t buy. This week’s offerings are the odds and ends, programs and utilities that have been difficult to categorise or were left out of earlier episodes through lack of space.


For the last time I have to remind you we cannot answer any technical queries and if you use any of these programs, upon your own head be it. If you like what you find please pay the licence fee, or, if asked, make a small donation. As well as giving you a clear conscience, you’ll be cocking a snoot at the big boys and helping this small but vital corner of the computer industry to thrive.  



BitMeter II, XP & Vista, 1.2Mb

There are plenty of bandwidth meters around but BitMeter is different. Data flowing in and out of your PC is displayed as colourful graphs. It shows you what’s happening, both in real time and over longer periods and there are some useful extras, like an alarm, to warn you in case you have a set monthly download limit. It also has a built-in stopwatch, a calculator and you can even monitor your Internet usage remotely, using its web-server facility. Fun to watch even if you don’t have to keep tabs on your web usage.



BricoPack Vista Inspirat Ultimate 2, XP, 27.6Mb,

Here’s something for all those of you who quite like the look of Windows Vista but don’t want to take the plunge just yet. BricoPack Vista is a collection of visual themes, icons, sounds and tweaks that can make your XP computer look, and to some extent, behave like a Vista PC. You decide how far to go depending on your PC’s spec and the features you want, like 3D flip, Thumbnail Preview and Aeroglass and for good measure it also comes with a Mac-like ‘docking bar’.



BurnAware, XP & Vista, 7.0Mb

CD and DVD disc burning can be a tricky business but not with BurnAware Free. It’s easy to use and has everything you need to burn data, audio and video discs. No fuss or gimmicks and as an added bonus it also handles the new generation Blu-Ray discs.



Darik’s Boot and Nuke, XP & Vista, 1.6/2.0Mb,

This aptly named utility is the ultimate disc wiper. Load it onto a floppy, CD or USB drive and use it to boot your PC and it quickly deletes all of the data on the hard drive, rendering it unrecoverable by any normal means. Invaluable if you are about to sell your PC and worried about any sensitive data it may contain, also handy for those working in the PC industry who need to process large numbers of second-hand computers.



Natural Word, XP & Vista, 38Mb

Microsoft Word is without doubt the world’s most popular word processor but it can be a nightmare for newcomers and casual users. NaturalWord tames the beast. Rather than hunting around the menus, when you want it to do something, press a simple keyboard shortcut, highlight a word or sentence and type in what you want it to do, like ‘make 14pt’, or ‘make red’. There’s no need to memorise commands, it will try and understand your request, even if you don’t know the exact words, and most of the time it gets it right.



Personal Task Manager, XP & Vista, 270kb,

So, what have you been up to today? If you don’t know, or simply want to keep track of how much time you are spending on certain jobs then Personal Task Manager can help. Throughout the day it monitors what you and your PC have been doing and when you need updating it produces logs and summaries so you can make more effective use of your time.



Rainbow Folders, XP & Vista, 783kb,

Windows Explorer shows you the files and folders on your PC but it’s not very helpful when it comes to identifying the different categories of data. That’s where Rainbow Folders comes in, it’s a simple little utility that lets you colour-code your folders. For example, you could paint all your picture folders blue, documents red, music green, and so on. You can also protect coloured folders and if you or anyone tries to change one it temporarily halts the action displays a warning message.



WinAudit. XP & Vista, 830kb

Everything you ever wanted to know about your computer and much more besides will be revealed when you run WinAudit. You don’t even have to install it; it runs directly from a USB drive or floppy. The amount of detail it digs up is impressive, everything from the time your PC was switched on and how long it is since you changed your logon password to the make, model and serial number of your hard disc drives.



WinPatrol, XP & Vista, 706kb

WinPatrol is like having a friendly IT tech keep an eye on your PC. It checks the programs that launch with Windows, monitors critical system resources, warns you about any attempts to install malicious software or hijack your browser and generally keeps you up to date about what is going on behind the scenes.



XnView Shell Extension, XP & Vista, 4.9Mb,

XnView is a Shell Extension that turbocharges the right-click or ‘context’ menu in Windows Explorer when handling image files. In addition to all of the usual options it adds a raft of new functions that includes file information and a thumbnail preview of the selected image. There’s a one-click option to convert the file into .gif, .bmp, .jpeg, .pcx, .png. .tiff or .tga format, set it as wallpaper, save it to the Clipboard and much more.


Next Week – Mobile Broadband





Eye-catching feature in Windows Vista that displays and steps through open applications as a series of cascading windows



Recently introduced optical disc format with 50Gb capacity -- 6 to 10 times more than DVD -- used principally for high-definition video but also capable of storing data



A program or component incorporated into Windows Explorer (the Windows 'shell'), usually accessed from a right-click menu'




LittleFox, XP & Vista, 200kb,

LittleFox is a Firefox theme that’s perfect for anyone using a notebook or sub notebook with a small cramped screen. It shrinks the icons, menus and toolbars so they take up less valuable screen space, leaving more room for web pages. Easy to install, and it has no impact on performance.


Don't forget, there's a full archive of previous Boot Camp Top Tips at



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