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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

March 26, 2006




Hi Everyone.

Thanks for reading my newsletter. Each week, I will have freeware reviews, tips, tricks, news, and lots of cool websites for you to check out.

I hope you enjoy this week's letter. Be sure to write me for advice or yell at me for messing up.




GreatNews - RSS feed reader

review from Steven Burns at Ur I.T. Mate Freeware


Steven Says:

You don't tear newspaper into pieces to read them. Why should reading rss news articles be any different? GreatNews is optimized for full page reading, so you can scan through rss articles quickly. Combined with functions like "Open Next Unread Channel", you don't need to waste any time to find where all the unread articles are.


GreatNews is extremely fast. Even with hundreds of rss feed subscriptions, GreatNews's response is always instantaneous. You can opt to show news from all channels on the same page. And you have full control over how many articles can be displayed at once. GreatNews takes care of pagination for you.


Ed: The version hosted here is the no-setup package. Meaning it can simply be unzipped and run.


Go and try out GreatNews for your RSS feeds


WinAudit - quick infomation on a PC

recommended by TeMerc, comments by ClifNotes, Mar 2006


While chatting with Tom at Temerc, he mentioned a PC auditing tool I wasn't familiar with. It's called WinAudit. The name rang a bell, because I keep seeing it at work when I login to my workstation there. Apparently, the pc gurus at work are using it to keep track of all the software and licensing on our workstations there.


I couldn't resist, so I tried it out. It's a great program that's fast and it's free for home or commercial use. No installation is needed, so just download WinAudit and run it. In 30 seconds it develops a complete hardware and software profile of your PC then displays it for you. You can save the profile in many formats for looking at it later.




Give WinAudit a try and let me know what you think of it.


dsCrypt - good encryption in a small package

commentary by BillWebb, Mar 2006


Hi Clif,


I mentioned that I'd be interested in a program like LockNote if it would deal with .rtf and similar files. I still haven't found one (in a reasonable size) with its own .exe feature, but for anyone who's interested I should have mentioned Dariusz Stanislawek's dsCrypt, available at his site here: (http://freezip.cjb.net/freeware/).


Dariusz' passion is teeny little programs. I don't mean stuff you can run on your USB drive, I mean stuff you can put on a floppy and never remember that it's there. Most of his stuff has to do with encryption, but there's a snazzy little backup tool that I mean to try soon dsCrypt is one of his larger efforts, weighing in at 14 KB for the command line version, and a massive 25 KB (!) for the .exe file with the Windows GUI.


dsCrypt doesn't create an .exe file (it requires a separate file to decrypt data) but it is small enough to include with any file. Drag and drop to encrypt or decrypt. It will handle any kind of file that I've tried, but it won't handle folders. Each file must be encrypted/decrypted separately, making it very clumsy for extended use. Dariusz has another program for folder encryption, but I've never tried it because I use file2file for big jobs: http:// www.cryptomathic.com/file2file/. (I'd probably use file2file for everything, but it can't be run off a floppy or USB drive because it integrates through the Windows shell and requires a separate installation on each machine. In fact, the only way it can be used is by right-clicking a file or folder - or drive.)


Here's what Stanislawek's site has to say:



dsCrypt is AES/Rijndael file encryption software with simple, multi-file, drag-and-drop operations. It features optimal implementation, performance and safety measures. dsCrypt uses an advanced encryption algorithm and offers unique options for enhanced security.



- extensively tested and widely accepted algorithm

- BruteHalt® and exceptional resistance to brute-force password search

- inherent resistance to brute-force key search

- Secure PassPad® and immunity to keylogger-infested environments

- disclosed implementation and source code

- secure use of system resources

- verified data and file processing

- efficient user interface and operation

- speedy performance

- really small executable file

- self-contained and dependency-free

- installation-and-pollution-free

- freeware status and unrestricted distribution



dscrypt.exe v1.10 25kB Windows GUI

dsc.zip v1.00 14kB Windows CLI (command-line)

dsc-src.zip v1.00 25kB source code


Drop by and scope out some of Bill's Articles at BackWash


FastStone Capture

review by Carlo at SpaghettiTech, Mar 2006


A good tool for taking screenshots is one of those programs that will always be on my quick launch bar (and believe me: it's a lot better than the PrtScr key).

In my endless search for the "perfect tool", I've tested many programs out there, as you can see in my Free software list.


This time, it's FastStone Capture time: this little, light (and free for home users) application, from the authors of the well-known FS Image Viewer, is well worth a try ...




read the rest of Carlo's review

Try FastStone Screen Capture


PC Wizard 2006

Posted by Matt at The Freeware Blog, Mar 2006


PC Wizard 2006 is a powerful utility designed especially for detection of hardware, but also some more analysis. It’s able to identify a large scale of system components and supports the latest technologies and standards. This tool is periodically updated (usually once per month) in order to provide most accurate results.


Since 1996 PC Wizard is among the most advanced system information programs on the market.


PC Wizard 2006 is also an utility designed to analyze and benchmark your computer system. It can analyze and benchmark many kinds of hardware, such as CPU performance, Cache performance, RAM performance, Hard Disk performance, CD/DVD-ROM performance, Removable/FLASH Media performance, Video performance, MP3 compression performance.


PC Wizard 2006 can be distributed freely (ftp, archives, CD-ROMs…).


Use this 100% free software to learn more about your computer and its components, detect/diagnose any problems in your computer, and increase your computer’s performance.


Note: Please check their website for PC Wizard 2006 supported hardware and OS.


Requirements: N/A







Home Page: CPUID.com

Link: PC Wizard


Drop on by The Freeware Blog to see more of Matt's freebies


WebMon - monitor changes to websites

recommended at Donationcoder reviews


While reading some of the software reviews at Donationcoder.com, I ran into this freeware program that they recommended. The review was all about "The best" programs in this category, but the best ones sure ain't free. This may not be the best, but it's free.


Quote from the website

WebMon is a freeware web page update monitoring program - it saves you time and keeps you updated by automatically checking web pages to see if they have changed.


Some of its features include:


  • Checking an unlimited number of web pages.
  • Scheduling automatic checking at set intervals.
  • Optional pop-up alerts and sounds when updates are found.
  • Running other programs when updates are found.
  • Selecting which part of the web page to check.
  • Update logging.
  • Proxy support, with authentication.
  • Unintrusive tray icon when minimised.
  • Importing IE favorites and Netscape bookmarks.
  • Help system - simply press F1 at any time.
  • Simple installation and removal.
  • Freeware, with no advertising or spyware.


Try out WebMon and let me know how you like it.


SlimBrowser - a great multi-tabbed IE alternative

from Tony at his FreewareFan blog, Dec 2005


Tony says:

There are a lot of IE replacement browsers out there and I have tried most of them.


I like Slim Browser because it is small, uses very little resources compared to any other out there and has all the features you could wish for.


  • Open multiple sites in tabbed windows
  • Closing choices: Close current, Close All, Close All Except Current, Close Failed, Close All except locked tabs
  • It has a spell checker for those, like me who post on various sites and forums
  • Blocks pop-ups (Just click an icon on the toolbar and popped site is unblocked)
  • Translates sites to English
  • Saves multiple (opened) sites as a group. Click on the group icon and all the sites are opened simultaneously (great for researching multiple sites)
  • Autologin to password protected sites
  • Clean your tracks, cache etc. with a click of a button or set it to clean your tracks on closing the browser.


... any many more features and options.



Uses your IE engine but much faster and smaller.



You can get SlimBrowser here.

Drop by FreewareFan to see more goodies


















Identifying the Programs That Start Up Automatically

a tip from Terry's Computer Tips


Terry says:

Windows has a number of ways to start programs automatically. Unfortunately, it includes only a few ways to identify and control the programs that start automatically.


Windows will let you look at the Startup folder (Start / All Programs / Start). Unfortunately, very few programs put their startup commands in this folder because that makes it too easy to prevent them from auto-starting ...


read the rest of the article


Yahoo.Com as a productivity tool

A funny name for a serious set of features

by John Hood, webmaster at The Best of Free Software, Mar 2006


Many people know Yahoo.com through their add campaign: "Do you Yahoo?" You may even have a Yahoo.com mail account. You may not know that Yahoo.com loads the account service with serious features to keep you organized, plus it's all available, free, on the web. How do I know? Part of my job is computer software and service evaluation. I've seen the good, the bad and the indifferent. I also spent the past three weeks in three different cities, burying my father and then my mother-in-law. I couldn't have made it through without Yahoo.com.


Here is a look at Yahoo.com as an roganizational tool. For those of you familier with David Nelson's "Getting Things Done" method, there is a terrific article on GTD and Yahoo here.


First off, the mail account has spam filtering available, a VERY nice touch. Incoming mail can be tagged, moved by rules, the whole kit. It also tells you how much space you have left. My work email doesn't do this (I'd complain to the email admin, if he wasn't, well, me). Email can be edited in plain text or HTML. The mail editors remember previous addresses in the TO: line, so you don't need to search for contacts in the address book. Start to type the name and the editor fills the rest in. Address book also lets you create contacts and groups on the fly.


In the mail account is a calendar with reminders (two of them no less), a notepad, a "To Do" list. All entries have a "last updated" date. All Yahoo content except the emails themselves, can be sync'ed LIVE with a palm device, or Outlook, Outlook Express, Mozilla, and others (see Clif's Clif Notes Newsletter, March 5 for further details). I resurrected an old Palm VIIx for this purpose. Screens are easy to navigate with just a little reading. The behavior of the features can be customized through the "Options" link in each. I turned reminders "Off" by default in calendar, Notes shows "50" at a time, sorted "alphabetically." I changed the color scheme, and added some sorting rules.


The "My.Yahoo.com" service allows you to take almost any Yahoo content and create a custom page with it. My custom page has weather info for the cities I was going to, in addition to my Yahoo Mail "To Do" list, Yahoo mail calendar and notes.


I could save web searches by signing up with Yahoo MyWeb, which is great for saving maps and directions, addresses I haven't saved yet, and other web tidbits I don't want to lose. The Yahoo Toolbar is one of the few tools where I use all of the features.


There are other organization tools on the web. I have seen few that have as many features, and none of them that are available for free. Plaxo.com charges for it. Gmail doesn't have the features, neither does Hotmail, AOL or Netscape. Visto.com disappeared into private hosting oblivion. Yahoo.com is the most feature-rich online productivity tool I've seen. It is the one to beat.


Visit The Best of Free Software


The origin of CTRL-ALT-DEL

a tip from Tutelage, Mar 2006


In case you haven't seen this, I thought you might get a kick out of it.

















The Freeware Forum - hang out and trade tips and tricks

from ClifNotes, Mar 2006


I used to visit the Freeware Forum quite often. They have a great place for people who love freebies to hang out and trade tips, tricks, and the latest cool programs they have found. Say hi to Coathanger for me.






Websites I have visited recently

Hover over the links to see my comments.











Live Messenger Went Live

news from Sarah at sarahintampa.com, Mar 2006


On Monday, Microsoft quietly opened up Windows Live Messenger to all existing Microsoft Passport holders. If you haven't gotten an invite yet, then you can try this link, which supposedly takes you to the Invitation Acceptance page that you would have reached if someone had invited you to try Live Messenger. If that doesn't work, you can comment here because I have a few left.


check out the rest of the news at http://sarahintampa.com


New hole in Internet Explorer

news from Computer World magazine, Mar 2006


Exploit now publicly available for unpatched IE flaw

News Story by Jaikumar Vijayan


MARCH 23, 2006 (COMPUTERWORLD) - An exploit has become publicly available for a newly disclosed critical -- and as yet unpatched -- vulnerability in Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer Web browser (see "IE worries continue with critical bug").


The exploit, which has been posted on several Internet sites, gives even relatively novice hackers an easy way to take advantage of a flaw in the way IE processes information using the createTextRange () method, according to Secure Elements Inc., a Herndon, Va.-based security firm.


“It’s just a matter of time before the exploit gets turned into a virus or a worm” capable of creating considerable damage on unprotected systems, said Scott Carpenter, director of security labs at Secure Elements.


read the rest


These continuing security holes are another good reason to switch to FireFox






















Frapper - you people live all over the world!

I invite all of you to record your locations on this map. You can include as little or as much information as you wish. I think you'll enjoy seeing yourself there.


Here's a small look at the frapper map.



Write your own review


I get many of the reviews in the newsletter from the readers. You don't have to be a genius or computer guru. Just answer a few questions and send me a review. I'll probably put you in the newsletter.






Have fun and surf safely.



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