Mike Williams

Generate soothing ambient soundscapes with Halotea Free


If you like some background noise while working on your PC then it can be tempting to play music, stream video, maybe just turn on the TV. But that can be distracting, and you might not get as much work done as you’d hoped.

Halotea Free generates ambient soundscapes instead -- birdsong, rain, white noise -- which help you tune out distractions and concentrate on whatever you’re doing.

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Netpeak Spider scans websites for 50+ common problems


Netpeak Spider is a Windows-based SEO analyzer which can quickly detect 50+ common website optimization issues.

The program looks for PageRank issues, 4xx errors, dubious redirects, missing titles and descriptions, missing image ALT attributes, duplicate content, long server response times, non-HTTPS pages, and a host of other site problems.

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OSForensics 4.0 ends free version


PassMark Software has unveiled OSForensics 4, a major update for its powerful PC forensics tool. There’s bad news: the "free for personal use" edition has been replaced by a 30-day trial.

The trial has more than enough power to run one or two quick investigations, though, and the latest additions deliver even more information about your target PC.

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Marp creates PDF presentations from Markdown


Building presentations often involves mastering a heavy-duty GUI: layouts here, color panels there, transition previews, animation and more.

Marp strips all that away, and enables creating presentations with just a little GitHub-flavored Markdown. This makes for a very plain, distraction-free interface: just a left-hand pane where you type your code, and a right-hand pane with a preview.

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Run multiple processes simultaneously with MParallel


Multi-core CPUs have been around for a very long time, but unfortunately most software is still single-threaded and has no idea how to utilize all that power.

MParallel is an open-source tool which offers one simple workaround, launching multiple processes in separate threads so that you can run them all simultaneously.

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Open Hardware Monitor: it’s still alive!


After almost two update-free years, the Open Hardware Monitor project has jumped back to life with the release of version 0.8.

The open source project is a free tool for monitoring CPU load, clock speed and temperatures, fan speeds, voltages, video adapters, RAM usage and more.

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Prisma-like NeuralStyler brings more creative control


Open-source video-to-art creator NeuralStyler has hit version 1.2 with some handy new features. A simple video trimmer allows selecting the scene you’d like to transform. It’s not precise -- you choose your start and end points by seconds, not frames -- but that’s still enough to save you a lot of time and hassle.

If you’re converting an image, a "Style Strength" slider instantly customizes the effect. Again, it’s basic, apparently just blending the converted image with the original, but we found it helped fine-tune the results.

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(Un)colored is a rich content HTML and Markdown editor


#(Un)colored is a distraction-free HTML and Markdown-compatible document editor for Windows, Linux and Mac.

The program opens with an empty window, no toolbars, ribbons or anything else -- it’s just an empty frame where you can start to type.

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SoftPerfect RAM Disk no longer free for personal use


SoftPerfect has released SoftPerfect RAM Disk 4.0 with a major license change: the program is no longer free for home users.

After the 30-day trial is up, version 4.0 now requires a $29 license for home users. As before, it’s $49 for businesses.

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Clean PC Smart is a fake Registry cleaner


Running Registry cleaners generally makes us nervous, as they're far more likely to remove some important setting than make any measurable difference to your system speed.

Most developers try to address this by building real intelligence into their code, but "Clean PC Smart" takes a different route: despite listing thousands of "issues" and claiming to fix them, it never deletes anything at all.

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Capture and analyze your network traffic with Dripcap


Dripcap is a cross-platform open-source packet analyzer which allows even total network novices to inspect their network traffic.

The program is simple to set up, as there’s no installation or third-party capture tool required -- just unzip the download to any convenient folder.

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WindowBlinds 10.5 adds universal app skinning


Stardock has released WindowBlinds 10.5, the latest edition of its desktop customization tool, with new support for skinning universal apps.

There’s no extra work involved for the user, nothing else to configure -- just choose a visual theme and your desktop, applications and apps all get the new-look interface.

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Explore malicious executables with Adlice PEViewer


Adlice PEViewer -- aka RogueKillerPE -- is a free tool for analyzing and exploring Windows executables.

The results can help you troubleshoot programs, find out more about what they’re doing, and perhaps identify malware that your regular antivirus tool has missed. It’s the free version of a commercial tool and a nag screen appears occasionally, but not enough to be annoying and there are no other major restrictions.

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Analyze and compare video quality with QCTools


QCTools is an open-source cross-platform tool for analyzing and objectively measuring video quality.

The program is aimed at helping professional users identify problems with digitized footage, but it could also help to compare video codecs, conversion tools and more. QCTools is available for Windows, Linux and Mac. It’s a lightweight package -- a single executable and a few text files -- and installed easily on our test PC.

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Prevent malware changing your DNS with DNS Lock


Freeware developer Sordum has released DNS Lock, a free tool which prevents malware (or anything else) changing your IPv4 DNS addresses. Launch the program’s single executable and it prompts you to enter your primary and secondary DNS IP’s.

DNS Lock offers you a choice of Open DNS and Google DNS Servers, too, although it only displays the raw IP addresses without identifying what they are.

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