Archive for December, 2006

Free Money with Agloco?

Friday, December 22nd, 2006


We at Free Download A Day are so not about make-money-fast scams and the like, so we took this with a grain of salt at first. But a lot of smart business folks that we know believe this is on the up-and-up, and in fact could be a great way to get some "passive income". That is, money with very little work.

The software is called Agloco: it's a "viewbar" that puts little advertisements at the bottom of your web browser window. They'll pay you for each hour that you have the ads showing, up to a monthly limit. And if you refer friends to use the software, they pay you a cut for their browsing time too. I think that's where the big money could be: the company says that for every 5 friends that you refer, your income will double.

The Agloco viewbar isn't actually available yet (it's in limited beta testing): but if you're thinking of trying it, you should sign up sooner than later. Get in the system, and maybe invite some friends to join, so that you'll be among the first on board when the viewbar does launch.

The site has a "member calculator" that's fun to play with: enter the number of people you think you'll refer, and how many each of them will refer, and you'll see a "potential earnings" dollar amount — a number that gets pretty big quickly. We have no idea if that number is realistic or not, but we're certainly going to try it — why not?

A few years ago there was a "get paid to surf the web" service called AllAdvantage that was similar in many ways. The company eventually crashed and burned, but along the way a lot of people (some of which we know personally, and have verified) earned thousands and thousands of dollars. We have no idea if Agloco will fare any better or worse, but we're in to give it a try.

Sign up with Agloco

A Partition Manager for the Expert

Thursday, December 21st, 2006


Gnome Partition Editor is a very useful tool for handling disk partitions. It allows for all imaginable operations on partitions: add, delete, resize, verify, and copy (when, for instance, mirroring is required). While ordinary system utilities allow for creating or copying partitions, going further is difficult; this one goes all the way, and supports all the major file systems to boot.

While partition handling is really a matter for the expert user (and the documentation, available online, reflects this) in general it can be stated that the program does the hard parts automatically: that is, detecting the operating system, the partition table format, and the file system format, and loading in the particular utilities needed to do the job. All the commands and operations are straightforward enough if you understand the concepts.

The major restriction on GPARTED is that while it works with most of the common file systems, it only runs on a few platforms: GNU/Linux and GNU/Hurd, BeOS and FreeBSD.

Get Gnome Partition Editor

Detect Hard Drive Problems on MacOS X

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006


S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a technology built into most modern hard drives that acts as an "early warning system" for pending drive problems. MacOS X does exploit the technology, but only when the Disk is opened and the particular drive selected. SmartReporter checks your Mac's hard drives on demand or on a regularly scheduled basis. For those people who are very heavy disk users, this may be a useful addition to the toolkit.

The major limitation of this program is that it supports ONLY ATA or SATA drives. SCSI and USB drives don't have the S.M.A.R.T. hardware to begin with. FireWire drives have the hardware but Apple hasn't yet written the support for it.

SmartReporter checks the status of the drive as set up by the user, and reports on any pending failures detected. It can also send you a warning via e-mail. It is possible that the program may erroneously report a pending failure, but there are ways to check this. The documentation recommends that the drive should immediately be copied and taken out of use. And if the report is accurate, it doesn't mean that the drive will definitely fail — but, better safe than sorry. Some drive manufacturers regard a S.M.A.R.T. failure report as sufficient justification to replace the drive; if it's under warranty this is a no-brainer!

The program is free, available under the Open Source MIT License. It require MacOS 10.3 or later.

Get Smart Reporter

Check MacOS X Preference Files

Monday, December 11th, 2006


Johnathon Nathan is a prolific developer of Applescripts and utlities for the Mac; there are 29 listed on his web page, including "Preferential Treatment", the subject of this review.

Preferential Treatment is a healer of bunged-up preference files. There is a utility that comes with MacOS X called "plutil" which does a very basic validity check on preference files. Preferential Treatment is a "wrapper" of plutil — a nicer interface — which lists suspect files and allows you to reveal them in the Finder or move them to the trash. It'll also allow you to open them in the application of your choice and to save the results of a scan to a text file. Trashing a corrupt preference file is generally safe, since when the associated application is next opened it will create a new one with default values.

Preferential Treatment is a run-only program available as freeware under the GPL. It requires MacOS X, and there are issues to do with permissions that need to be understood before trying it. It has been reviewed and commented upon in a number of Mac publications, has been downloaded tens of thousands of times, and has achieved a 4.8 out of 5 rating from those who have rated it. Corrupt preference files can be the cause of application misbehavior: this is a good tool to have on hand to find out if preference files are causing problems on your Mac.

Get Preferential Treatment

Bible Coloring Pages

Saturday, December 9th, 2006


A new web site offers hundreds of Bible-themed coloring pages for kids (and for adults who like to color as well. There's nothing wrong with that.) You'll find angels, religious symbols and buildings, animals, etc. There are Jewish theme coloring pages, too.

Of particular interest for the holiday season: there are lots of Christmas coloring pages and Hanukkah coloring pages as well.

Go to Bible Coloring Pages

Free Backup Software

Friday, December 8th, 2006


Here’s a solution to the old and continuing requirement of keeping your PC data backed up: Mozy. 2GB of online backup space is offered for free, and 30GB or more can be purchased. The only requirement is a broadband Internet connection.

The process is simple. Log into Mozy and get an account, download the software and install it, and then decide what you want to back up. Mozy can save files based on their type, or can work with individual files or folders, or both. Set the backup schedule and leave your PC on at the selected time. Couldn’t be much easier.

Mozy can do “differential” (or incremental) backups if you want; and has very high levels of encryption for your protection. For ultimate security you should also burn CDs of your own; but Mozy is a good way to start for the average user. (We regret to report that we couldn’t find out what “Mozy” actually stands for).

Update: Mozy has changed its paid plan to flat-rate: for $4.95 a month (or $54 annually), you get unlimited secure storage. The free version is still available, with 2GB of storage.

Get Mozy

Free DVD to MPEG-4 converter

Thursday, December 7th, 2006


For the advanced techie and movie watcher, there are all sorts of interesting problems to be solved along with all sorts of programs to solve them. One such is HandBrake. It creates MPEG-4 files from any DVD or DVD-compatible source.

The program is a GPL application which runs on MacOS X and Linux; an experimental build for Windows is also available. Output is to the hard drive, but an option allows for iPod-compatible files for those who want to carry their movies around with them! There are a number of online manuals, developed by users, and there is a developer forum.

As noted, input from any DVD (including encrypted) or compatible source is supported; these include VIDEO_TS files and TV signals (PAL or NTSC formats). Options include chapter selection, basic subtitle insertion, picture deinterlacing, cropping and scaling, and grayscale encoding. The developer did the smart thing in creating this program: he used all sorts of GPL libraries which were already available: they are all listed and the authors are thanked. As a result, it took only a few weeks to get the initial version going.

A heavy-duty program such as this is not for everyone — so an easier "Instant HandBrake" version is now available, dedicated to making iPod/PSP versions of your DVDs with less futzing around with technical stuff.

Get HandBrake

Play old DOS games with DOSBox

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006


So you like DOS, do you? You really miss all the crackpot memory issues with UMB’s and expanded memory and extended memory and TSR programs? Well, here you go: DOSBox is a DOS/x86 emulator which has been ported to all sorts of systems: Windows, BeOS, Linux, Mac. It also runs 286 or 386 emulation, both in real and protected modes. It includes support for all manner of sound and video cards, such as Tandy and Hercules. Truly the past revisited! It’s true that when we upgrade from one system to the next we likely lose things that worked well and that we’d really like to keep; DOSBox is a solution to those losses, although it was primarily developed so that old games could be executed under more advanced operating systems.

DOSBox was written by four Scandinavian programmers. There is a lively user community hosted on Very Old Games on New Systems and the on-line support is extensive and complete. It’s totally free and is Open Source software.

Really, you’ll either be tickled or turned off by the whole idea of DOSBox. But in defense of those who do like it – there’s no shame in working with what works!


Virtual PC, Free

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Need to run the occasional Windows 3.1 application, or yearn to play your favorite Windows 95 game every once in a while? You can do both, on your Windows XP machine, using Microsoft's free version of Virtual PC.

Virtualization is a concept that has been around for a long, long time. IBM was using it on its mainframe VM and MVS operating systems decades ago. But it’s only fairly recently that it’s taken off seriously in the PC world.

Conceptually, virtualization means to run an operating system on a PC or a server in such a way as to seem to the O/S or its users that it’s the ONLY thing running, whereas in fact it is sharing the machine with one or more other operating systems, all of them running on top of the operating system that the machine is actually booted up with. Each such “virtual” operating system has its own inviolable memory space and allocation of hard storage space, none of them can touch the resources belonging to another virtual operating system.

This is where Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 comes in. Microsoft is not the only or even the first manufacturer of virtualization software but it surely is the biggest and ought to be able to guarantee that its own OSes will run properly under virtualization! MSVPC2004 will run on both server and stand-alone PCs. It supports ALL Microsoft operating systems – from MS/DOS 6.2.2 through Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP/NT 4.0; it will also run OS/2 Warp 4. Hardware requirements range from 50mb disk and 32mb memory for DOS to 2gb and 128mb for XP. MSVPC2004 is free – this having changed only recently.

Microsoft PC Virtualization 2004

A Linux Network Monitoring tool for the non-administrator

Monday, December 4th, 2006


AutoScan is a tool in development, the purpose of which is to keep track of what's on your network. It's the brainchild of Thierry LaGarde, a Linux Adminstrator by trade. He has developed it as a result of his experiences and needs.

Autoscan develops a list of all resources on the network, reporting in XML as well as by displays. It scans subnets regularly, detects equipment added (date/time stamping the occurrence), monitors network services, detects the OS, brand and model of all equipment aboard, has an intrusion alert mode (it works by assuming that anything added is an intruder), detects hidden shared resources (a Samba share browser), and has Telnet and Nessus clients. It doesn't need administrative priveleges!

As noted this program is in development. The site is pretty sketchy – I couldn't get the "Documentation" to come up – and the English is obviously not that of an native speaker. It runs on all POSIX-like systems and is available under the GPL. Linux adventurers will find AutoScan worth checking out.

Get AutoScan