Mike Williams

VX Search 5.12: Quick review

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Windows Search has plenty of power these days, and there’s a whole library of capable freeware if you need more, so is there really any reason why you should bother with the free-for-personal-use VX Search?

We took the latest version for a test run to find out.

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Explore your family tree with FTAnalyzer 5

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Genealogy sites like Ancestry are great for presenting family trees, taking all that raw data and presenting it in a straightforward graphical form.

But if you want to really understand your tree, to spot problems, links, patterns you might have missed, then you’ll need to delve a little deeper.

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Plan projects, brainstorm and share ideas with MindMaple Lite

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MindMaple Lite is a free application for generating mind maps, project plans, running brainstorming sessions, and generally helping to organise, present and share your ideas.

Download and installation is straightforward – no registration, adware or other hassles here – and conveniently the program opens with a mind map explaining itself: the main features, what’s new in this edition, what you get from upgrading to the Pro edition, and more.

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Instantly invert your screen colours with NegativeScreen

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Optimizing your PC’s screen colors cuts eyestrain, reduces headaches, and helps you sleep at nights. It can be surprisingly easy, too -- set up a program like SunsetScreen and it works largely automatically.

There may still be times when your display is too light, or maybe too dark, though, and that’s where NegativeScreen comes in. It’s a tiny freeware app for Windows 7 and later which can invert your screen colors on demand.

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Get your finances under control with Yapbam

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Managing your money can be complicated, tedious, time-consuming. It’s tempting to just leave your accounts to look after themselves, and if your finances aren’t too tight then you might get away with that. For a while, anyway.

Keeping track of your balances is a much better idea, though, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Yapbam (Yet Another Personal Bank Account Manager) is a cross-platform personal finance manager which helps you get started almost immediately.

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CyberLink launches Media Suite 13

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CyberLink Corporation has released Media Suite 13, its comprehensive do-everything collection of multimedia software.

Highlights include the leading consumer video editor PowerDirector 13, PowerDVD 15 for media playback, and an excellent image editor in PhotoDirector 6.

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Easily print custom image thumbnails with Primg

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Windows provides many ways to browse a folder of images, but it’s much less flexible when it comes to printing. Typically you’ll have to print your pictures one at a time, or make do with whatever fixed multi-image formats your printer driver supports.

Primg is one of the simplest solutions around, a tiny portable freebie which gives much more control over your picture printouts.

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Microsoft ships stand-alone Android Emulator

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Microsoft has released the final build of Visual Studio Emulator for Android, which despite its name, doesn’t install or require Visual Studio: just Windows 8+ with Hyper-V.

The big disadvantage of the package is still the lack of the Play Store. You can only install new apps from their APK files. If you can live with that, the Emulator’s benefits start with its range of environments. The package comes with a virtual KitKat phone and tablet, and various other Android versions and form factors are available for download.

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MobaXterm 8.0 adds PuTTY engine, credentials, PowerShell support

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All-in-one remote networking toolkit MobaXterm 8.0 has shipped with the ability to create credentials for multiple sessions.

The latest build is packed with technology derived from the open source PuTTY, including the SSH/ telnet/ rlogin/ serial engines, the embedded terminal, a new "MobaKeyGen" graphical SSH keys generator -- even a new Games menu with simple puzzles and games from the PuTTY developer. (No, really.)

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Pattern-lock Android apps with ES App Locker

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Android devices have plenty of security options -- passwords, PINs, pattern locks -- but they’re mostly about blocking access to the entire system. Get past the lock screen, and if a friend picks up your phone they can do whatever they like.

ES App Locker -- from the developers of the popular ES File Explorer -- adds another layer, enabling you to block access to individual apps by drawing a pattern on the screen.

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Find, save and share animated GIFs with PopKey for Desktop

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PopKey for Desktop is a free Windows and OS X tool for browsing, saving and sharing the latest animated GIFs.

It’s a desktop spin on the company’s PopKey GIF keyboard for iOS, and has a simple, app-like interface which keeps options and controls to an absolute minimum.

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Audacity gains scrubbing, seeking, effect presets

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Classic open source audio editor Audacity has been updated to version 2.1.1 with some welcome additions and improvements.

A new Ctrl+click "scrub play mode" enables playback -- both forwards and backwards -- just by moving your mouse cursor across the waveform.

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Is virgo the smallest virtual desktop manager ever?

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When you’re regularly trying out new software, it’s important to look for anything odd or unusual, any sign that a program might not be what it seems.

The Windows "virtual desktop manager" virgo seemed like a great example. A 3.7KB download? Which unpacked to a single 8KB executable? There had to be something wrong here. Surely?

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AndroMouse is a smart Android remote control for your PC

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Your PC’s large screen, quality sound card and speakers make it great for viewing and sharing media, but having to control the system via a keyboard and mouse isn’t always convenient.

AndroMouse provides a versatile alternative, with a comprehensive collection of tools which allows you to remotely control a PC from your Android device.

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SurfFind is a fast grep-like text search tool for Windows

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The Windows Search engine is much better than it used to be, but still has plenty of room for improvement, which is why there’s an enormous number of alternative tools around.

SurfFind is a tiny open source package -- a mere 216KB download -- that searches your specified text files for keywords, quickly displaying the results. It’s a familiar idea, but the program does have some interesting extra touches which help it stand out from the crowd.

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