Sunday, April 30, 2006

FreeMind


Ever heard of a mind map? The one made famous by Tony Buzan, the mind map guru?


From Wikipedia : A mind map is a diagram used for linking words and ideas to a central key word or idea. It is used to visualize, classify, structure, and generate ideas, as well as an aid in study, problem solving, and decision making.


A mind map for me is a diagram that links ideas together. It is like a tree diagram but the main idea is in the center and it can have many branches symbolizing the flow of ideas. Some people use it for brainstorming, some use it for taking notes and if you really do it well, it helps you memorize things faster because it uses wonderful elements such as colors,links and pictures.


Well, enough introductions already. FreeMind is quite a leap from traditional mind-map making, which uses a piece of paper and coloured pens and pencils. FreeMind lets you create mind maps on your own personal computer. It's much cooler when you do smart things using technology, isn't it?


FreeMind features:-


  • All the usual mind map stuffs - you can create links, insert pictures and clouds, choose colours etc.

  • Foldable links - you can fold your links, just in case your mind maps got huge.

  • Drag and Drop - you can drag and drop between link elements. Erasing notes from mind maps on paper looks so old school.

  • Copy and paste - i wonder if this can be done on paper, effectively :)

  • Find function - search for that specific keywords on your mind map. This is really useful.

  • Export ability - export your mind maps to various formats such as HTML or JPEG, and show it to Tony Buzan for syntax approval :)



Maybe some elements in FreeMind do not adhere to Tony's mind map concepts but it is still a great tool for everbody. Teach your kids, friends or families on how to use this free software. Somebody will absolutely love it, like me!


Download it from http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page#Download

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MediaMonkey


This monkey is not your usual mischievious monkey. It's a free music managing monkey and a very helpful one too. MediaMonkey will help you find all your music files such as mp3 or wav residing inside your PC and present it in a more meanful manner, making it more manageable and easy to find.


Finding your files automatically with Media Monkey only takes a few minutes and I love the way this freeware presents it. You can easily search for your favorite artists from all kind of sort functions whether it is by artist, by album, etc.


These are some of the superb features of this free monkey:-


  • Supports many music formats - MP3, OGG, WMA, FLAC, MPC, WAV, CDA, M3U, and PLS files - it even finds your saved playlists!

  • Easy organizer view - find your favorite artists / albums with ease. Move, sort and rename music files without hassles.

  • Volume leveling - i have this problem when recorded music files were played at different volumes. MediaMonkey levels the volume of the problematic files with ease! Wow!

  • Record CD's - now you don't have to blast AudioGrabber to rip musics from CDs. MediaMonkey had learned to do this trick also.

  • Burn music CD's - select your musics and burn it on CDs to play later. This freeware is truly a real all-in-one music manager.

  • Free Converter - converts almost any audio tracks to MP3. This is a real gem.

  • Automatic (CSI style) file identifications - MediaMonkey quickly identifies missing information from your music files and sort it in an easy manner. It's up to you to edit / add all the missing informations though.

  • Tags support - add / edit / identify missing music tags from your files.

  • Free built-in media player - this is a must for all music managers. It's complete with free plugins and equalizers.


What more can you ask for from MediaMonkey? Now you can start monkeying around without worrying about all the music files again. MediaMonkey is a real music time saver. It's the real deal. Simon Cowell can't complain no more.


Download it from http://www.mediamonkey.com/download.htm

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KeyNote


Mostly i will use ye old Windows Notepad to paste and save simple notes for things that i want to remember. It can be anything, website links, notes about new freeware with bombastic names, a friend Yahoo Messenger's id, passwords, you name it. This method always works but sometimes my desktop will look like that it needs some serious desktop housekeeping. Notes seems to be everywhere, and i am lost again searching for last week important notes.


That was before I found KeyNote freeware. It stores all my notes in one single file, in a tree-like format or in RTF format. It successfully eliminates the need for multiple notes files. One .knt file will store all my important notes. That's the vision of this freeware creator and it makes me very happy to say that it works!


It's features:-


  • Tabbed notebook - you can insert as many notes that you want, one single file can contains numerous free form notes.

  • Tree like structure - this makes organizing notes easier, make small chlid notes node for one or more big subjects.

  • Powerful formatting and editing - insert pictures, html files, font formatting, rich text formatting, etc - old Notepad users will surely migrate to this freeware

  • Import / Export functions - import your old Notepad notes as a new or sub-nodes with this function, group them in one or more subjects, chosen all by yourselves.

  • Autosave - this needs no explanation. Great for the ill minded.

  • WordWeb integration - integrates nicely with one of my favourite translation freeware, WordWeb.


That's just a pinch of what KeyNote can do. I will let you enjoy finding the other features all by yourselves. Of course, compiling all your Notepad notes in one single file is the biggest accomplishment that KeyNote does. Believe me, with KeyNote, your desktop will never be in shambles again.


Download it from http://www.tranglos.com/free/keynote.html

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Google Desktop


Google never fails to amaze me. First, with their spot on search engine, then the unlimited Gmail free email service and now, it's time for my latest favorite freeware, the Google Desktop. Google Desktop will sit nicely as a sidebar on your desktop once installed, and you can hide it if you wish.


Google Desktop is a freeware with multiple functions. But mainly, I use it as my local search engine. Once started-up, Google Desktop will index all the contents of the hard drive, at the users consent, either when the PC is idle or on demand. It tooks sometime to finish indexing though, but the results are worth the wait. Now, I can search anything on my pc, not just by their file name, but also by what's inside the file. That, to me, is a major breakthrough.


Other Google Desktop features:-


  • Desktop Email - Google Desktop will link up to your Gmail account and you will be notified if you have new emails arriving at an instant.

  • News - get the latest news on the sidebar, and you can customize what you want to know too.

  • Weather - not functioning for me though, it can't tell me the weather in Malaysia right now. Well, I know that Google will improve this, for sure.

  • Photos - get a slideshow on your sidebar for every now and then, Google Desktop will display pictures found from your own PC.

  • Scratch Pad - great for instant notes scratching, I told you before it's a freeware with multiple functions, didn't I?

  • Quick View - keep a list of important and most used files here for instant access.

  • Maps - I guess this will link you to Google's own Google Maps. Another brilliant product from Google.

  • To do List - great for the most forgetful ones. Like me.

  • System Monitor - this freeware doesn't want you to use that Windows system monitor again.



There's so much more that Google Desktop has to offer you, just as expected from one of the giant IT companies of today. There's so many features that i don't tell you here, maybe you can tell me with your comments here next time. I am glad that Google is so generous to make this free, and yes, it's one hell of a freeware.


Download it from http://desktop.google.com/

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Battle for Wesnoth


Battle for Wesnoth is what I currently play to kill my time. This game is a turn based strategy game, with lame visuals that might not appeal everyone. Well, for me, it's quite addictive though, even when I just played a few rounds of its campaign.


It can be played as a single player or if you want to show off, get online to bully a newbie with your awesome turn based skills.


It's features:-


  • Simple graphics - you don't need a super-duper gaming rig to play this. Its graphic is kind of old school. No 3D graphic card demons needed.

  • Units - there are 200 plus magical units to choose from, I am spoilt for choice.

  • Experience points - units get mightier if you use them wisely over and over again. Recall any units with some amount of gold if you wish.

  • Internet playable - strictly for the experienced? Maybe.

  • Humongous campaign - play as a human or play as a non-human. Make sure you exit the game as a human :)

  • Multiplatform - Linux, Windows, BeOS, BSD, etc. Geeks from all over the world don't have a chance to escape with their various platforms...


This free ware game may not satisfy everyone and you can hate it if you wish. But for me, I will stay and continue the Battle for Wesnoth...

Download it from http://www.wesnoth.org/

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Quotes 2006


This is quite a special free ware. It generates quotes that you can use to impress your friends and foes. It's simple enough, you just need to double click on its icon on the system tray and a quote will pop out instantly.


The quotes from this freeware can be used as an email signature from your favourite email client, such as Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird. It features an additional plugin that can easily insert smart quotes to all of your outgoing emails. This makes your email more livelier thus
makes you looks smarter. :)


Quotes provided are from various subjects, from humor to tech quotes etc. It can be easily selected to satisfy your needs. You can even download more insightful quotes from the publisher's website.


Make your email looks much smarter than they really are!
Download this freeware from Qliner, http://qliner.com/quotes/

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

FoxyTunes


This is one cool free ware. Or should i call it a free plugin. Anyway, it's a very useful add on to the majestic Mozilla Firefox browser. It let's you control your favorite music player without leaving your Firefox browser!


Imagine browsing the web at full screen and knowing what song will be played next. The ability to change a song from a browser, Microsoft should be worried more for the next Internet Explorer 7 release. :)


FoxyTunes's features:-


  • Multiplatform - as with the Firefox browser itself, it runs on Windows, Linux and MacOS X


  • Volume Controls - this needs no explanation

  • Auto Hide - you can turn this on if you feel it's the right thing to do.

  • Alarm Clock and Sleep Timer - start and stop your favorite player at ease with timers and alarms.

  • Keyboard shortcuts - for keyboard geeks. Amazingly customizable.

  • Skinnable - show off more of your Firefox eye candies to your IE friends.


Still not convinced yet? FYI, this is one of the most downloaded Firefox plugin on the Net and it has won rave reviews from all major reviewing sites. Try it now!


Download it from http://www.foxytunes.org/firefox/

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Switch Off


You should have guessed the function of this freeware by its name alone. Yes, Switch Off, well, switch off your personal computer at a specified time, provided by you.


There are various situations when you need to do this, for example, when you are downloading some movies and then you decide it's time for a good nap. Estimating the time when the download should be finished, you specified a time for Switch Off to shut down your PC. Now you can leave all the waiting game for Switch Off to do.


It's features:-

  • Switch Off options - other that shutdown the PC, you can choose other tasks such as restarting the PC, hibernate, disconnect from a dial up connection, log off, standby and others.

  • Web Interface - you can even restart / shutdown your home PC from your office! Such a valuable tool does exist.

  • Tiny size - installation needs so little space, and it doesn't gobble up your precious memory.

  • WAP support - this one was created for the most adventurous folk. They want to shutdown their PC with their mobile phone. They asked for it, they have got it here.


I know that some of you will put Switch Off to good use. For those that don't, try this for killing off your time. You will not lose anything. Why ? Because it's free software. :)


Download it from http://yasoft.km.ru/eng/files.asp

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Steganos LockNote


Forgotten any passwords recently? Need a secure solution to store your small but important notes that you can take anywhere with your diskette or USB drive? Now there's a freeware that fits all your needs.


It's Steganos Locknote. What a cool name! It's small in size, efficient and most importantly - secure.


It's features:-


  • Zero Installation - there's no need for this. The outcome is that you can bring one secure file with all your notes anywhere.

  • Secure encryption - you can assure that all your notes are secured with your chosen password in AES 256bit encryption technology.

  • Super easy to use - if you ever used Notepad, this freeware operates in the same mode. Changing password is easy as ABC.

  • Super mobility - you can cut and paste / store LockNote applications with all your notes anywhere - bring highly secured files with your USB drive as you go around!


Steganos Locknotes is like Notepad on steroids. It's a supreme idea to distribute this freeware without the need of installation and it didn't took long for me to love it.


Download it from http://locknote.steganos.com/

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Foxit Reader


Still using Adobe Acrobat Reader to read your pdf files? Think again.


Adobe Acrobat Reader suppose to be a simple enough application, because it just reads pdf files.
Why on earth did it takes some time to load? And it constantly nags you to upgrade to a new version, eventhough you are satisfied enough that you can read all your pdf ebook without problems. That's not friendly or honest enough to share this software free, isn't it? Moreover, for a software that only reads, it takes more disk spaces than it should be.


Leave Adobe Acrobat Reader for this freeware, the Foxit Reader. It takes just a fraction of your disk space, it takes just 1MB to be exact. Foxit Reader loads so much faster than Acrobat Reader. Moreover, you can type on the pdf file itself, so leaving a mark or notes on your files are now possible. I wonder why Adobe was so secretive to share this feature, they should include this long, long ago .


Now, users will have a decent alternative for reading their pdf's. It's time to move on to the competitor, a truly free software named Foxit Reader. Test it yourself and then compare your new experience with Adobe's once mighty product.

Download it from http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php

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Friday, April 07, 2006

JCMB Quicknote


Do you need to write or draw or scribble some ideas, pasting texts of instant messages quickly so that you can view it later? Stop thinking of opening a word processor, it's too slow. What about notepad? It's quite OK but there are better alternatives.


Quicknote is a superb free ware that can do more than the above tasks. Don't be fooled by it's minimalist interface, this free software really packs a punch!


It's features:-


  • Instant Hide and Wakeup - press Escape and Quicknote will dissappear (Sleep Mode). Touch a sizable small line that you can easily placed anywhere on your desktop, and Quicknote will be there instanteneously (cool!), at your service!

  • Categories - key in more texts with categories and tabs, I bet Notepad can't do this.

  • Draw function - you can even draw some sketches on it!

  • Customizable Interface - add more tabs, change its background colour, bla bla bla...

  • Hotkey - available to make this free ware reappears and disappears with a touch of a button

  • Autosave - you can save your text or Galileo drawings every minute or so, if you are so paranoid of losing it in case of any Windows crash.

  • Extra tools - launch the Windows calculator, do unit conversions, launch external programs, encrypt QuickNotes, drag and drop notes - all from within this nifty freeware.

  • Copy notes to another computer - if you have friends running Quicknotes on the same network, you can even exchange notes instantly. Wow!


With all the goodies listed above, there's no doubt that Quicknote is more useful than some other mediocre software. It doesn't have to hide behind beautiful interface to line ine itself with all the best freewares. Try it!


Download it from http://www.quicknote.de/quicknen.html

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Advanced WindowsCare


I love to try optimizers when my Windows PC starts running sluggishly. It's an option that I will strongly consider before I format and reinstall Windows again.


For this review, I've installed a freeware named Advanced WindowsCare. It claims that it can speed up and optimize your Windows box. That's why I put my PC on the line, to test it for your eternal convenience :)


Advanced WindowsCare will automatically find optimizations available for your PC with just a click of a button. This will include network, Windows settings, CPU / Memory settings and Windows appearance optimizations.


Users can deselect any unnecessary optimizations but for me, I let the freeware did all the work. Like all optimization software, you need to reboot your PC once the optimizations had finished.


IMHO, Advanced WindowsCare had managed to speed up my Windows PC quite significantly. Windows startup speed has improved, applications load faster and many more.


So if you are one of the famous "Blue Screen of Death" sufferers, maybe you can try this first and choose Windows reinstallation as the next option.And don't forget to share your success stories here!

Download it from http://www.iobit.com/WindowsCare.htm

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

MetaCafe


MetaCafe is ummm... different. It's a breath of fresh air. It lets you get and share funny or amazing videos, pictures, and games over the net from a single client. During you first launch of the MetaCafe client, it will display all the contents in categories that you can choose which one to view first.


If you want to get the latest fun files from the Internet, then MetaCafe freeware is the right choice.


It's features:-


  • Latest content from the Internet - yes, it's really true, I just watched the new Nike Joga Bonito's ad featuring the smiling assassin, Ronaldinho! There are many amazing videos, pictures, movie trailers and games for you to choose from.

  • Channels - you can select and organize which fun stuffs that you want to view / download.

  • Ratings - you can view ratings of the contents and you can rate it too for the benefit of the community.

  • Family Filters - this is necessary if you have kids using the same computer, to restrict them from viewing certain files, you know what I mean. You can even password protect the filter to make this free software more secure.

  • Virus safe - executables are not allowed to be posted in MetaCafe.

  • Disk space limit - MetaCafe will never fill up your hard disk, it sets its quota to a maximum 10% of your hard disk. You can even set this limit yourself!

  • Smart bandwith utilization - this freeware will never interfere with your network bandwith, MetaCafe will only download contents when your PC is idle.


If you love viewing the latest free contents that ever graced the Internet, then MetaCafe suits you best. Internet life is more enjoyable with MetaCafe!


Download it from http://www.metacafe.com/

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

FreeMeter


Forget Windows Task Manager. It really fails when it comes to displaying your system resources in an easy, informative way.


Get FreeMeter - a lightweight, powerful system monitor for Windows. Looking at this free ware at glance, you can instantly know how your personal computer performs at that time. Is it low on memory / cpu / disk space? With FreeMeter, important informations are always displayed in an informative way.


It's features:-
  • Support for all Windows operating systems - what else can I say, Windows users, gain instant advantage over your Linux peers!

  • System performance meters - disk space, cpu usage, physical memory usage, page file usage - all the usual performance related stuffs. This free software even monitors your system uptime!

  • Disk space alerts - get alerts in the form of visual or sound when your system is low on disk space.

  • Folder Usage - right click on a disk drive display, and find out which folder eats up the most disk space. There's no doubt that Windows Task Manager can't do this.

  • Multiple graph types - change this if you prefer a line graph over a bar graph (if you want to feel geekier, change this!)

  • Free updates - automatic, hassle free updates can be set to get the latest version of this freeware.

  • Auto Hide support - hide this application nicely on the system tray. You may even collapse some meters tab to reduce its display area.


Freemeter outperforms Windows Task Manager performance monitoring in every imaginable way. It even adds some impressive function such as the folder usage display. This free software really rocks!

Download it from http://www.tiler.com/freemeter/download/download.php

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Omea Reader 2.1.4


So do you constantly open the web browser, searching for updated information from the same site, everyday? Won't it be easier if there are some tools that you can use, that will update you periodically with new contents from the site, each time when you are online, without the hassle of firing up a browser?


Enter Omea Reader, it's not just an RSS feed reader, it's an all in one feed reader. It reads rss feeds, atom feeds, newsgroups, bookmarked webpages in more. You get all of this in one state-of-the-art free ware.


It's features:-

  • All in one feed reader - don't mess your desktop with multiple feed readers. Omea Reader comes bundled with all the bells and whistles.

  • Organizer - this free software will organize your feeds in a useful manner, neatly organise your feeds by days, weeks or months.

  • Search function - find the feeds that you are looking for inside your local pc with ease. Omea indexes all your feeds automatically for easy lookups.

  • Podcasts support - download and organise your podcasts with Omea. This free ware keeps surprising me, again and again!

  • Browser Integration - Omea will find the RSS feeds from the page that you browse, even if you can't see the RSS link!


If you are new to feed readers, then take some time to understand how this freeware works from JetBrains .You will love it once you know how to use it! Don't get left behind, try this a.s.a.p!


Download it from http://www.jetbrains.com/omea/reader/

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