Archive for June, 2006

Yahoo! Go

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

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If you have a Yahoo! account, a TV, and a PC, you can combine them all to view anything you have filed on Yahoo! on TV, and view music and movies from the 'Net. You can also record TV programs on your hard drive for later viewing.

The service is Yahoo! Go for TV. PC hardware requirements are quite modest: at a minimum you will need Windows 2000; a 600 MHz CPU with 128 MB RAM; and 40 MB free disk space. If you want to run the optional DVR (Digital Video Recorder) you'll need Windows XP; a 1 GHz CPU with 512 MB RAM; 40 MB free disk space, plus 20 GB or more for TV recordings; and a TV tuner card. (It won't run on a Mac). Various tuners are supported but not all. The service doesn't interfere with regular TV use or with other packages such as Tivo (as long as you have more than one video feed port on the TV).

You can view your Yahoo! Photos and those of your friends' that you have access to; new photos that you want to view have to be uploaded to Yahoo! first, which seems a bit superfluous but will certainly work. Videos can be found on the 'net using the search function (to which you can add content filters). Movies are available by setting up the "My Theatres" list. Music is available through the free Launchcast service. And finally you can record TV programs from any TV provider as you see fit.

This is a "beta" status program and Yahoo! cautions that there are known problems and that they are soliciting user feedback. The program is only available in the continental U.S.

The tool is aimed for the not-too-technically-savvy user and may well be interesting for the power user.

Get Yahoo! Go for TV

Free Printable Coloring Pages

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

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Mom! Dad! I'm bored! During the long summer days, keeping the kidlets entertained can be a constant struggle. Here's one way: more than 2,100 free coloring pages that you can print out and they can color in. The vast assortment is neatly arranged by categories, which include animals, construction equipment, circus scenes, landscapes, plants, and holidays. The images are in PNG format, so you can print them from just about any graphics application.

Go to Free Printable Coloring Pages

Free Windows Backup Software

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Although they are a fact of life for administrators of computer networks, backups are something that most casual users never think of until some digtial disaster causes important files to files suddenly vanish or become mangled. Computers are generally very reliable — this is of course good but it does lull people into a false sense of security.

Obviously, then, it's desirable and good sense to make copies of important files. But so much gets loaded onto our hard drives these days that it's difficult to determine what's important and what's not. Especially if we can't remember what we called this or that! And saving individual files can be a pain when there are lots of them.

The easiest way to take care of all this is to just back up the whole shebang at regular intervals. One very good utility to do this is WinBackup 1.86. As the version number indicates, it has been around for a while and consequently can be counted on to be stable and have lots of features. It backs up to CDs, DVDs, zip drives, USB drives, Firewire and others; backs up and restores the whole drive or individual files/folders; can be run at will or by schedule; and supports encryption. WinBackup has everything for the needs of the casual user and the power user alike.

Get Winbackup

Free Data Recovery Software

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

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The freeware ADRC Data Recovery Tools v1.0 gives you the ability to undelete files (even after emptying the recycle bin) — which is enough for most of us right there. The software also provides a bunch of uber-geeky data recovery tools, including raw copying of files (that is, copying an entire partition in binary), disk-to-disk image backup, and copying of files from a drive with bad sectors. You can even edit, repair, or restore your corrupted boot parameters. The program is designed to be compact and doesn't require installation: it'is less than 100kb for easy storage and incorporates extremely simple GUI. The program supports a wide variety of drives (fixed and removable drives), file systems (FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS) on Windows 95/98, Me, NT, 2000, XP and 2003 Server.

Get ADRC Data Recovery Tools

Free Computer Books in PDF Format

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

In Pictures, a company that publishers computer books that rely primarily on pictures rather than words to show how to perform tasks, has released its entire catalog of books as free PDF files for a limited time. The titles includes books about Microsoft Office, web graphics applications, web programming, OpenOffice.org, and more.

Get In Pictures Books

Xara Xtreme graphics Xpands its reach

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

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Xara Xtreme is a graphics package that has been around for a long time. It has been running on Windows for at least ten years but was in existence even before that. In that time, it has established its reputation as being among the fastest graphics tools available. Under the hood, it's an object-oriented vector drawing program, but it handles photos and drawings with elegance and ease. The product literature claims that the package has pioneered many industry standards, such as vector anti-aliasing, first vector transparency, including graduated transparency. The latest versions contain such innovations as "real-time vector feathering and embedded JPEG". And, lest modesty should be imputed to the package's writers, it also has "the world's most efficient file storage and unrivalled performance" and is very easy to use. Marketing enthusiasm aside, the reviews available indicate that Xara Xtreme lives up to most of its hype and is a very solid value for the money.

Recognizing that there are worlds apart from Windows to conquer, the company is moving into the Linux and Mac platforms. At the end of 2005, it was announced that the program would be made available for Open Source development on those systems. The news "'went down a storm", says the site, and between March and May of 2006 there have been four successive downloads for Linux available. That indicates a lot of developer activity! The company has all the infrastructure in place for open-source development, from forums, mailing lists, and newsletters, right up to a complete development environment for those who don't have the appropriate system. (Information about Mac progress is available on the site).

This looks like a very exciting opportunity for software engineers and graphics users to have a hand in developing and improving an already excellent product, not to mention further freeing graphics users from the Windows universe.

Get Xara Xtreme

User-Generated Sites with Instiki

Friday, June 9th, 2006

One of the fastest-growing properties on the Internet is Wikipedia, a testament to the power of the user-generated (and maintained) web sites. Since the introduction of the original Wiki Wiki Web, a lot of open source Wiki implementations have been developed. One such program — one that's particularly easy to setup and pleasant to use — is Instiki.

Since Instiki is Ruby-based, it runs on all platforms that Ruby does, including Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. It is extremely easy to set up, especially on Mac OS X. Installation involves just two steps (install Ruby, run instiki.rb) by using WEBrick, a web server, and Madeleine, a persistence layer. These apps ship with the standard distribution of the programming language. Aside from its user-friendliness, this powerful Wiki engine loaded with features: pluggable markup syntax, RSS feeds, keyboard shortcuts, and lots more. Simply put, Instiki is a webmaster's delight.

Get Instiki

Users’ Questions & Answers

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

Are these downloads legal?
Yes, all of the software mentioned on this site is legal to download for free.

Can I use these software packages professionally, or can I only use them for home?
Most of the time, but it depends on the program: read the license that is included with the software. Some software is free for personal use but not for business use.

Do I have to pay to download them?
Nope.

Do I get a registration code?
Most of the time, free software doen't require a registration code. You can simply download it, install it, and use it right away.

The Internet saves TV For Democracy!

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

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The Participatory Culture Foundation is a small group of peoople dedicated to to building an open and democratic television platform. Television is moving online; they worry that "it will be the same narrow, top-down cultural stagnation that we see on traditional television". All the major media and computer companies are clamoring to control video online; the Foundation feels that if they succeed it will be a disaster.

Therefore, they've started up the The Democracy Internet TV Platform. This consists of four segments: the Democracy Player for watching videos in full-screen mode on your PC; the VideoBomb, for sharing videos, creating personal video channels, and filtering up the best videos online; the Broadcast Machine, for publishing channels (RSS feeds) of video from your website; and the Channel Guide, an open listing of internet TV channels which greets you when the Democracy Player starts up. The software supports dozens of video formats, the idea being that making them available to everyone will ensure that nobody can lock viewers into any one of them. Both Windows XP and Mac versions are supported.

For the viewer: you can download videos from as many channels as you want, either manually or in full automatic mode; view them when you want; and retain them as you see fit. Everything is controlled by the viewer; there ae dozens of option settings. For the creator, there is the Broadcast Machine which allows you to create your own channel, with your own material, for viewing by others subscribing to the Platform; it is equally versatile.

The Foundation is a registered charity and the software is open-source under the GPL.

The Democracy Internet TV Platform