Mike Williams

Curly downloads files from the command line -- and checks for malware

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When you’re working at the Windows command line it might sometimes be useful to download a file, but the standard tools don’t make this particularly easy.

If you’re looking for something simpler then Curly could be ideal. It’s a console-based downloader, free, portable and amazingly small (under 28KB), yet somehow it still manages to squeeze in one or two surprising extras.

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EXIF ReGenerate fixes hundreds of image time stamps with a click

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Take a picture with a digital camera and it’ll normally be tagged with the date and time, often useful later when searching or organizing your images.

If the camera clock is wrong, though, all your photos will have the wrong EXIF time stamp, and they’ll stay that way until someone notices.

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Find out more about your favorite artists with Song Buddy

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Some music players are smart. Not only will they play your tracks, but they'll try to tell you more about them, perhaps downloading and displaying the lyrics.

Windows Media Player and iTunes aren't quite so clever, but that's where Song Buddy comes in. This free app for Windows, iPhone, iPad and Mac detects the "now playing" artist and displays other releases, concerts, images, a biography, links and more.

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Instantly generate sketched characters with DrawWiz

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DrawWiz is an easy-to-use app, Windows and Mac program which instantly generates professional sketches of female cartoon characters.

There's no artistic ability required, fortunately. The app provides hundreds of pre-drawn elements -- situations, face shapes, hair styles, eyes, nose, mouth -- and all you have to do is pick the ones you need.

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Quickly retouch your portraits with Free Photo Blemish Remover

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High resolution digital photos are great for most purposes, but can be a little cruel for portrait shots, where every skin imperfection is suddenly blown up in extreme detail.

Some photo editors have "beautifying" modules to help clean such problems, or you can often fix them yourself with a little painting or clone work. Free Photo Blemish Remover is another option, a specialist tool which can remove image imperfections with a click.

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WinLogOnView lists user logons for your PC

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If your PC has several user accounts then you might occasionally like to know when they're being accessed, perhaps to confirm that your children are only using the computer at particular times.

You could install some heavy duty system monitoring package, or maybe enable a few Family Safety restrictions for that account. But NirSoft's WinLogOnView is a much simpler option which could provide everything you need in a tiny, portable package.

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Voralent’s Antelope compresses JPGs and PNGs with a click

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Earlier this year we looked at Voralent’s JPGMini and PNGMini, easy-to-use tools which reduced JPG and PNG file sizes without affecting image quality.

The developer has now released a replacement, Antelope, which handles JPG and PNG files, and supports both lossless and lossy compression.

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Display your external IP address on the desktop with Mr.IP

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Discovering your external IP address is generally very easy. Just visit a site like WhatIsMyIP and it'll give you the IP address, location, ISP, and a whole lot more.

If you need speedy access to this address all the time, though, it might be simpler to use Mr.IP, a tiny free tool which permanently displays your internet -- or external -- IP on the desktop.

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Easily inspect DXF files with de-caff DXF Viewer

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DXF is a very popular CAD file format which has been around since 1982, so you might expect there to be plenty of good viewers around by now.

Unfortunately, the reality is very different. DXF can be complex, and while there are free viewers to be found, they're generally of not much use.

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GlassWire is an easy-to-use network monitor

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Whether you're concerned about security, or just hoping to optimize your PC’s performance, understanding what's accessing your internet connection can be very helpful.

Network monitors will tell you more, but they're often targeted at experts, weighed down with complex details which -- even if you understand them entirely -- you may not really need. GlassWire is an interesting free network monitor aimed at a more general audience. It’s easy to use, looks great and provides in-depth reports, but they’re easy to follow and focus on only the most important information.

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KDE Mover-Sizer brings handy Linux desktop tricks to the PC

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Resizing and repositioning windows on the PC desktop is such a fundamental task that you’ll almost do it without thinking. Move the mouse to the title bar/ border, click, drag, release. Very basic, very simple -- but there might still be room for improvement.

KDE Mover-Sizer is an open source, portable tool which brings a common Linux desktop trick to Windows. Instead of having to move your mouse cursor to the title bar or border, you just hold down the Alt key, then left-click anywhere inside a window and drag to move it, right-click and drag to resize it.

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HDD Guardian tests and monitors your hard drive health

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SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a monitoring system which reports on various reliability indicators, and sometimes highlights imminent hardware failure of HDDs and SSDs.

These predictions can sometimes be questionable, but SMART still has plenty to offer, and the open source HDD Guardian (also available in a portable edition) provides a simple and straightforward way to find out more.

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CCleaner 4.17 improves browser cleanup

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Popular system optimization tool CCleaner has been updated to version 4.17 with a series of mostly browser-related improvements.

The official release notes say the new build -- also available in a portable version -- adds "Google Chrome and Opera GPU cache cleaning". We’re not entirely sure what that involves, but it’s here anyway: let’s see if it makes a difference.

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Design stylish, detailed diagrams with yEd

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YEd Graph Editor is an interesting free diagram designer with some unusual features.

The core interface works much like many similar applications. You’ll choose your symbols from a palette (flowchart, UML, ERD, BPNM, network, computer, more), drag and drop whatever you need onto the page, and position them as you like. Symbols may then be customized with text, colors, URLs and more, before you join them up with lines to represent your structure or ideas.

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Create fun photo collages in seconds with Shape Collage

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Shape Collage is a photo collage tool with a difference. You're not restricted to creating collages with the standard rectangle or "pile of photos" look: they can use whatever shape you like.

The free-for-personal-use program crams a lot of functionality into a single window, but smart interface design means it's still very easy to use. Click the "Add" button, choose a few photos (local, from your online accounts or a general internet search), click "Create" and that's it: your first collage.

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