Mike Williams

AlomWare Reset: for when rebooting is just too slow

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If your PC seems sluggish after a lengthy session then you might reboot to free up resources, get a clean start. But it could take a while, with perhaps minutes of disk thrashing as various processes restart.

AlomWare Reset is a $14 utility which tries to restore that "just launched" feeling, but only by focusing on the core essentials, and so boosts your system in just a few seconds.

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Capture, edit and share webpage screenshots with qSnap

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Taking a screenshot of what you can see on a computer is easy. Capturing something larger than the screen -- in particular, a lengthy web page -- is much more of a challenge, and even specialist screen capture tools won't necessarily do it.

QSnap is a free service and set of browser add-ons which helps you capture web pages, no matter what size they are, and can edit and share them, too.

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Scan pages as searchable PDFs with NAPS2

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Earlier this year we wrote about NAPS2 (Not Another PDF Scanner 2), a tiny open source tool which could scan documents to PDF, TIFF and other file formats. We liked the program’s simplicity and ease of use, and in the past few months it’s been further extended with some major new features.

Integrated OCR means you can now make your PDFs searchable. There’s no complex interface to navigate, no manual setting of OCR regions or anything else: just click the OCR button, choose the document language and NAPS2 handles everything else.

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Scan for local wireless network with Acrylic WiFi Free

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If your Wi-Fi isn’t performing well then using a scanner to check for competing networks can often tell you more.

Unsure where to begin? Acrylic WiFi Free claims to be "the most advanced WLAN Scanner", which sounds encouraging. It’s free for personal use and runs on Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10, so we grabbed a copy to take a closer look.

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Imagina is a professional photo processor for Windows

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With so many image viewers and editors available for the PC, it’s not easy for developers to make their product stand out. Some try to win you over with the sheer quantity of features, but Imagina is more about the quality: it doesn’t do much, but what you get works very well.

The thumbnail browser doesn’t just open with the usual JPGs and PNGs, for instance -- dcraw support means it can handle many RAW formats, initially displaying them in an attractive photo collage-like "3D Desktop" view.

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Shrink your PDFs with PDF to DjVu GUI

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At first glance, PDF to DjVu GUI doesn’t sound like the most promising of programs. Convert documents from one of the most commonly supported formats ever, to something most people don’t know at all? If you need to share files with a wide audience then there’s no way that will ever be a good idea.

And yet, DjVu does have its advantages, especially with document size. We tried out the program with 12 PDF files, and while one DjVu version was fractionally larger, most were 25 percent -- 80 percent smaller than the original, and a couple dropped by around 90 percent.

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iTunes 12.2 brings Apple Music to the desktop

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Apple has released iTunes 12.2, bringing Apple Music and the new Beats 1 radio station to OS X and Windows.

Additions include the new Connect, a sort-of social networking service where artists share "thoughts, photos, music and videos", you can comment or "love" anything they’ve posted, and they can respond directly.

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DNS Jumper 2.0 brings turbo DNS testing

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Sordum has released DNS Jumper 2.0, an update of its freeware DNS changer for Windows.

New startup options mean you can have the program load along with Windows, test for the fastest DNS server and apply it automatically, no more manual interventions required.

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Track & edit video objects with Sensarea

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Most video editors provide various effects you can apply to a movie, maybe tweaking its brightness, contrast or colors. But typically these filters work with the entire frame only, which seriously limits their usefulness.

Sensarea is a free video editor for Windows which allows you to select objects, then tracks them in the frame, automatically applying your chosen effects. If you wanted to conceal someone’s identity, say, you could set up the system to pixelate their face with just a few minutes work.

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Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 11 released

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Xara Group has announced the release of Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 11, its one-stop photo editor, graphic design and publishing tool for Windows Vista+.

Art Brushes are a highlight, a new technology which smoothly stretches bitmap or vector brushes in real-time along a freehand path. There are new brushes to emulate paint, chalk or watercolours, or you can create your own as required.

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Manage between two and 20 virtual Windows desktops with Virtuoz

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UnChecky developer RaMMicHaeL has announced the release of Virtuoz, a simple and lightweight virtual desktop utility for Windows.

"It was inspired by Sysinternals Desktops", the author explaines, "but uses a different approach, which doesn’t impose the limitations which Desktops is bound to".

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Find similar audio files with MediaPurge

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Building a media collection is much more fun than organising it, and no matter how good your intentions, it’s all too easy to end up having to navigate a scattered mess of audio and video files.

MediaPurge is a freeware Windows application which provides several ways to restore order, including finding audio duplicates, tagging, renaming or sorting files into a new folder structure.

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Investigate suspect files with Exeinfo PE

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If you find a suspect executable file on your system then you’ll probably start by running an antivirus scan, but that may not tell you very much. Even a "clean" verdict only means "clean right now", and it tells you nothing about the file itself, where it’s from, or what it might be trying to do.

Exeinfo PE is a free tool which analyses executable and other types of files, and tells you more about them. It can’t directly detect malware, but might be able to help you better understand a mystery file.

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PolyBrowser offers tab-free web browsing

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Tabbed interfaces are the design of choice for just about any application which needs to open multiple documents simultaneously, and it’s easy to see why: they’re simple, straightforward, easy to manage and use.

PolyBrowser is a Firefox-based web browser which does things a little differently, ditching the tabs in favor of "panoramic navigation". Instead of hosting browsing sessions in isolated tabs, PolyBrowser stitches them together, side by side. You can scroll freely from one page to another by dragging the horizontal scrollbar, or right-clicking and dragging horizontally with the mouse.

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Explzh is a do-everything archive manager

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Some people’s archiving needs are simple: right-click to extract zips, combine a few files into a zip of their own occasionally, and that’s about it. Nothing that can’t be handled by Explorer on its own.

If you’re, well, a little more demanding, you might be interested in Explzh, a free archive manager for Windows with a host of features you won’t always find elsewhere.

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