Mike Williams

Take full control of your file system with NTFS Permissions Tools

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NTFS permissions are a great way to control exactly what users can access on your system, at least in theory. So it’s a shame that their standard Windows interface is so complex and tedious, yet still doesn’t give you access to all the features you might need,

NTFS Permissions Tools is a free portable utility which makes it easier to perform some common security tasks, and adds a few expert-level bonus features as well.

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Five free desktop comic viewers

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Digital comics often arrive in comic book archive files, with extensions like cbz, cbr, cbt, cb7 or cba. These aren’t commonly used outside the comic world and it may not be immediately obvious how to view them. Fortunately, it’s quite easy, and you might be able to do it right away. These are just regular archives and something like 7-Zip can extract their contents just like anything else (right-click > 7-Zip > Extract…). Every page will be saved as a separate image. If that doesn’t work, rename the file to have its standard archive extension -- cbz > zip, cbr > rar, cbt > tar, cb7 > 7z, cba > ace -- and try again.

Another option is to convert the comic into something that’s more commonly supported. CBR and CBZ to PDF is a simple free example which does exactly what its name suggests, TEBookConverter takes the idea further with a host of extra eBook formats. Of course if you’re a real comic fan then it’s far better to install a suitable viewer, and there are plenty of capable free options available.

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Capture.NET is the Swiss army knife of PC desktop tools

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Capture.NET started life more than ten years ago as a simple screen capture tool. But then the developer began to expand it, with a clock, timer, calendar tools, text notes, program launcher, magnifier, screen ruler, backup tool and more.

That’s not bad, especially as the end result is portable, ultra-lightweight (a single 1.4MB executable) and free for personal use. But can this kind of all-in-one tool really replace more specialist programs? We took a look.

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Build animated GIFs, WebP and WebMs with Honeycam

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Bandisoft has unveiled Honeycam, a versatile animated GIF creator for Windows available in both a commercial ($26) and a limited free version.

The program includes an easy-to-use screen recorder. Place a rectangle around the area you’d like to record -- like a video player -- and you can capture up to 10 seconds of activity with the free build, 30 for the full version.

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Build a custom Windows setup disc with NTLite

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Reinstalling Windows is tedious, especially if you need to do it on a regular basis. It’s not just a matter of grinding your way through Windows Setup, it’s everything you have to do afterwards to set the system up properly.

NTLite can save you a stack of time by allowing you to build your own Windows 7/ 8/ 8.1/ 10 custom setup disc, which leaves out the Windows components you don’t need, installs the drivers or service packs you do, and generally sets up the PC to suit your needs.

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Hide your folders with these 3 free tools

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Your PC has some files you'd like to keep private. Encryption is the best way to protect them from snoopers, but if that's too much hassle you could simply hide their folders, so that they’re no longer visible from Explorer.

This isn't enterprise-grade security, of course -- your files may be hidden, but they’re still on the drive, in their original form, and a determined attacker could retrieve them. But if you just want to keep something out of sight of friends or family, and they've no reason to suspect you’re hiding anything in the first place, the technology could work very well.

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Selectively block web scripts, styles, frames and more with Policeman

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Scripts, applets, analytics and ads: the web has a wide range of content which might compromize your privacy. And normally there’s not a great deal you can do about it.

Policeman is a Firefox add-on which helps you fight back, by giving complete control over which content you’d like to access, and which should be blocked.

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Share links by audio with Google Tone and Chirp

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There are many ways to share a link with someone: Twitter, Facebook, IM, email and more.

But if your friend is close by then you could just broadcast it via specially encoded audio tones.

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ffDiaporama: not just another video slideshow builder

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If you've used one or two video slideshow builders then you'll know they tend to work in a very similar way. Open a set of pictures or videos; drag or drop to rearrange them; optionally add transitions, titles or a soundtrack, then export the results as a movie.

Install the free ffDiaporama, and you might start in much the same way. The results aren't bad, either, with a reasonable set of transitions and plenty of video export options (MP4, FLV, 3GP, AVI, MKV, MPEG, WEBM, OGV).

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PingPlotter is a visual network monitor

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The standard Windows Ping and Traceroute tools are capable enough, but their console interface is, well, basic, and GUI versions aren’t necessarily much better. All too often you’ll need to wade through tables to find the data you need.

PingPlotter Free makes life easier by taking a graphical view of network performance, giving all the essential core data at a glance.

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SUPER 2015 gets H.265 support

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ERightSoft’s veteran encoder SUPER has been updated to build 65 with new support for playing and encoding HEVC/H.265 4K video streams.

There’s no extra work involved to make this happen. Just choose an Output Video Codec as usual, and HEVC/H.265 appears in the "may not play on QuickTime" list for any appropriate container.

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Explore the innards of any file with Binary Viewer

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You’ve found a strange file. Maybe it has no extension. Perhaps it’s an unexpected email attachment. Could it be malware? You’d like to see what it contains. Sounds like a case for Binary Viewer.

This free program is a tiny download, with no installation required, and if you’ve ever used a hex editor you’ll immediately feel at home. Open your target file, it’s displayed in the usual Hex/ ASCII views, and you can browse the contents as required.

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GlassWire network monitor debuts commercial builds

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The excellent free Windows network monitor GlassWire is now also available in Basic ($49), Pro ($99) and Elite ($199) versions.

All three builds have extra security features. "Ask to connect" blocks new network connections until they’re approved by you; "Lock down mode" blocks everything until you turn it off; a Wi-Fi monitor lists everything on your network and alerts you when devices join or leave.

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Quickly edit and share screen grabs with ScreenShooter

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Sharing a screen capture with someone else can require many steps. You might take the screenshot, save it as a file, maybe attach that to an email, add a few text notes, then click Send and wait.

ScreenShooter is a free portable tool which allows you to capture an image, add text or highlighting, and share it immediately via the program’s own server.

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ExeWatch warns you of new executables

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There are many ways an attacker might try to compromise your PC, and one common option is to download and run an executable without your knowledge. If your antivirus engine doesn’t recognize the threat then that could leave you with a serious problem.

Run ExeWatch and it might be a different story. The program watches your local drives, looking out for new executable files, and raises an alert the moment anything appears -- downloaded, extracted from an archive, written by some other program, whatever it might be. It has no malware-removal abilities, but that early warning may still save you a lot of pain.

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