View any Video File
Free Utilities

2011.01.28 View any Video File

My favorite video play is the FREE Video player Classic - Home-Cinema.  That coupled with the K-Lite Media Megapack gives you an unbeatable combination that will tackle the most difficult file you encounter.  You'll also be glad to know that if you have only limited capability on your machine, this is truly a workhorse.  It's not loaded with stuff you'll never use.  It just sits there and does its job wither it's a downloaded video or a DVD you can depend on it's performance.  It's the only one I use.  You have a file that just won't play?  Download GSpot to analyze the file and determine what codec's are being used.


2011.01.19 Windows 7 and FREE software (Free is always a good thing)

I've recently migrated my desktop from Vista to Windows 7.  So far I like it even if some of the old familiar features are restricted by the OS. 

It is time for an update on some of my favorite pieces of ABSOLUTELY FREE software that I feel are must have for every system and which work well with W7. 

The first is the graphic package Irfanview and it's official plug-ins.  The second is the lightweight pdf reader Foxit Reader which offers all the advantages of Adobe without the bloat.  Then there is Bullzip FREE pdf printer to make your own pdf documents as easily as printing from any application, creating a document that can be read on any platform without the originating software.

These first three products I use most heavily for saving browser pages, on line receipts, scanning multipage documents, or scanning pictures to jpg or other graphic format.  I scan into Irfanview using my Epson Artisan 800 all in one printer/scanner/copier/fax.  Then I can, edit it (crop, correct quality, add text, change image size,...) then save either as a graphic file (jpg, tiff, or almost any other format) and/or print it (photo, standard paper or pdf).  It's hard to beat this combination of FREE production tools.

The best Suite of maintenance tools are free from Glary Utilities.  This performs pretty much all the things you need to do, ever.  Having said that, there is a free defrag utility called smart defrag by  that will continuously defrag your hard drives in the background so you never have to worry about them again. 

My personal favorite, even with the pinned tasks of W7 is 8start, a wonderfully versitile way to start programs and group the shortcuts the way you want them grouped so you remember where they are.  8start is a bit tricky to set up at first but once you get the hang of it you'll fly free. 

I continue to use MS OFFICE 2003.  The newer software (2007 and 2010) do not provide any features that I would use that I can't do with 2003 so I'm not about to spring for the cost of the newer packages.  If you are not fortunate enough to have access to earlier versions of Office I highly recommend the FREE Open Office which has all the features of MS Office AND is totally compatible with it.

Another option that you may find attractive is Google Docs.  It is part of Google's cloud based office suite and includes documents, spreadsheets and a drawing program. Google's office products are particularly useful for collaborative projects. 

Yet another free and very useful tool is Evernote.  This helps you organize your projects and helps you to remember things.  The best part is that it is totally portable and, being cloud based, all your notes sync almost instantly on your Desktop, Laptop and Android phone.  Almost any device and any platform is supported today so it is always with you and your data is backed up.  Even earlier versions of documents can be retrieved from the cloud if you mess something up.  The only thing that would make this wonderful package better is if they included the structure of ECCO (Later Ecco Pro), a long forgotten aid to organizing your mind.

Just released is the new version of the FREE Browser Mozilla Firefox which has also released an add-on to quietly synchronize your bookmarks on all your devices; your desktop, laptop even your phone.  Never lose your links again.  Your bookmarks are safely in the cloud.  What's even better is that it also backs up your memorized passwords, preferences, history and tabs as well.  You will have the same feature set on all your devices.

Here's an update for System Backup. I've looked at a few of different options.  Some claim to be free, but they don't give you all the necessary software.  After looking at Symantec Save and Restore, Ghost and Acronis True Disk Image, the latter has come out on top.  It is an easier interface to use and set up.  You do have to know what you are doing and make sure that the storage device has enough space, a problem I'm encountering.  Also don't forget to make a current boot disk to use in case of a total system crash where you need to restore everything.

1/22/2010  Malwarebytes I see it's been quite some time since I've added anything here.  Shame on me.  Yesterday I worked on a computer that was so badly infected and slow that it was impossible to do anything.  I tried to get rid of it in safe mode but was unsuccessful.  The malware was so bad that you couldn't navigate anywhere with internet explorer.  We ended up re-installing windows XP rather than spend hours trying to get rid of the malware.  In the midst of this a friend suggested which he represents as being excelent at finding and removing unwanted malware. 

As I set up the machine we installed Norton Internet Security 2010 to replace the Norton anti virus from 2006 that was previously on the machine.  I've always used Norton products and have never been infected with anything.  I also installed Norton Ghost and reserved a portion of the hard drive to store an image of the complete system which will provide a backup in case we need it again.  It would be better on an external hard drive but I had already had him spend money for more memory and Norton and didn't want to push my luck.

6/25/2008  Firefox version 3.6 has just been released by Mozilla.Org.  This version has significant enhancements over version 2 and is well worth downloading and trying. 

Synchronization: I'm also in the midst of evaluating backup and synchronization software.  The problem is that I'm in the midst of putting my entire collection of CD's on a server but to protect that investment I need to maintain two copies.  Because I'r reorganizing the file structure continuously, I need a program that will properly handle deletions as well as additions.  I'd also like the backup copy to be uncompressed.  Ideally, I could change the content on either copy and keep the other one in sync.  I'm evaluating SmartSync Pro which was provided with my Netgear Storage Central.  I've also purchased GoodSync and am taking a look at that as well as Norton Save & Restore.  GoodSync is a fairly straightforward program but lacks the scheduling ability that Smart Sync has.  Save and Restore is excelent for backing up an image of your hard drive or a subset such as My Documents.  It supports incremental backups and can be scheduled to function automatically.  It will not keep two identical file structures synchronized.


10/17/2007: A free PDF printer.  Pc Magazine just wrote an article on PDF tools.  The discussed a free PDF printer from  which installs easily and works beautifully.  It offers many advantages over other drivers especially the ability to append to an existing document.  For more information go to 

9/19/2007: Some neat software: In the past few weeks I've found a bunch of interesting software tools, all of which are free and very useful.

Media Player Classic: You only need this player. Does it all.
K-Lite Mega Codec Pack: Every Codec you'll ever need for above.
Super: Converts and plays literally any video format
Roboform: Remembes all your passwords and credit card info
DVD43: Unlocks all but the newest DVD protection. Use with
DVDShrink: Copies DVD's and compresses to fit on single 4.6 Gig
AVG Antivirus: Free virus protection
Free Office Suite from open 2.3.0 Why Microsoft?????

Firefox Add-on's and extensions
All-in-one Sidebar: I love this one.  Everything on the side.
Download Statusbar: If you do lots, this is a great thing to have
Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer: Great for multiple computers
FoxyTunes: convenient control of your media player
IE Tab: A must for those sites that must have IE
FastStone Viewer: Fast with good navigation

5/30/2007: GnuCash:  Now you have another choice to manage your home finances. is an open architecture application which can be downloaded for free.  It isn't quite as powerful as Quicken or MS Money but if you are just starting out and want to see if this technology is for you, I'd suggest that you start here.  It doesn't cost a thing and has many of the bells and whistles of the main line programs.  It also includes some business accounting options making it ideal for a small business.  You can download your account information but as best I can determine, you can't upload instructions to your financial institution.

3/31/2007: Software Virtualization: One way to keep your computer clean and free of problems is to use software virtualization.  Each program or group of programs are installed such that they can be added and removed from the active system quickly and easily.  When you don't need the software, deactivate it and the computer doesn't even know that it is there.  The virtualization process can even package the software so the it can be ported to other machines without the necessity of running the install.  This is also a very convenient backup tool for your applications in case you have a full system crash.  In fact, on my laptop, which was just reconfigured by Sony I have started installing all of the software using virtualization.

Learn more about virtualization at the Altiris site Download a free personal copy of SVS software and Trinket which assists in the activation and deactivation process.  This technology has far reaching potential and will be a great tool in maintaining top performance of your machine.

3/31/2007:  Worried about Adware?  Read about it here.  Keep your system clean using Ad-aware by Lavasoft.  There is a free version that you run to check your machine.  An inexpensive upgrade provides full time monitoring of your machine and automatic blocking of attempts to hyjack the machine or information.  It's worth it to me to have the extra protection.  In addition to the Lavasoft product I also recommend XoftSpy.  It is a very fast and efficient program that finds some items that Ad-aware doesn't.  I use them both with excelent results.

3/31/2007 Drive Activity:  Have you ever wondered what is causing your hard drive to work so hard and completely stopping your system.  Run Disk Action 2 and see what modules are using your hard drive and how much of the total access is used by each one. Disk Action 2 is available at PCMag.  It's free for members and $8 for non-members.

3/16/2007: Did you ever wonder what all the processes were that are running on your PC?  Microsoft has a Process Viewer that provides a great tool for managing and monitoring what's going on and what each process is linked to. Click the link above or do a google search on Microsoft Process Viewer.

2/20/2007: The health of any computer is dependent on the integrity of the registry.  As time goes on and programs are added and removed from your computer, it is possible for the organization of the registry to become very inefficient and even corrupted.  This will slow your computer significantly.  It is important to have a good registry maintenance program on your machine that is run periodically.  There are many such programs which I will list here in no particular order.  I've used them all and don't find one to be significantly superior. Some of the available programs include: Registry Mechanic, RegCure, Registry Fix and Registry Booster

A good single vender solution to the Security and performance issues is the Symantec Norton Internet Security and System Works Basic Edition package. These programs work together and do a good job of keeping your machine running well.  If you are looking for a new solution, I recommend Norton over the other packages.  The Symantec products have been consistantly at the forefront providing adequate tools.  The new Norton 360 is about to release.  I'd hold off on that for a while.  It's intent is good but it's execution leaves much to be desired.

2/5/2007PC Magazine recently published a listing of their favorite software, most of which is free.  There are several that I would like to highlight because they are so useful and in many ways better than the commercial equivalent.  The free packages tend to be very small and very fast.  One fine example of this is PrimoPDF.  The overhead imposed by the Adobe product is far more than I need for 99% of what I do.  Basically I want to print what I see on the screen so I can file it away for later.  When I'm searching for something I want to be able to display it quickly  PrimoPDF lets me create the files and Foxit Reader lets me read it quickly and easily.  These are far smaller and faster than any other application I've seen to do the same thing.

Another program that I have grown to love is Irfanview.  This little graphic package provides a very fast viewer and a formidable editor to clip and tweak your photo's then down size them so you can easily sent them off to friends and family or print them to a PDF file so you have an album that can be easily shared.

I have also become a staunch supporter of FireFox for browsing the internet.  It is an open source browser that has tons of addon's to do just about anything you would want.  It is smaller and faster than Windows Explorer and even has an addon that allows you to view any page rendered by either FireFox or Internet Explorer.  IE Tab is an extremely useful piece of software when the page you are viewing insists on using microsoft proprietary language. There are many more add ons at the Mozilla Website

Does your computer get sluggish after it has been running a while.  That's because its memory gets loaded with all sorts of unnecessary pieces of software that rob memory as well as processing time.  Down load Analogx's MaxMem.  This little tool just keeps working quietly in the background to keep your computer running smoothly.  AND it's FREE.

Can't afford Microsoft's office package but want to be able to work with documents and spreadsheets that are compatible so you can share them with people who can afford the big bucks?  Go to and download their office suite.  It's got everything you will need including a database program and it doesn't cost a cent.  You can read and create microsoft compatible documents with ease.  It's not as robust as the brand name equivalent but most of us only use a few tools anyway. 


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