Mike Williams

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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Argente Utilities review

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Argente Utilities is a one-stop PC maintenance suite with tools to clean, optimize, repair and generally improve your system's speed and reliability.

It's a relatively lightweight, portable package, arriving as a 7.5MB zip file, and there's no adware or similar hassles: just a gentle "donate" screen which you can dismiss forever with a click.

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MultiHasher is an excellent file hash calculator

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MultiHasher is a very well-designed file hash calculator which comes packed with essential features and functionality.

The good news starts with the download. It’s free, a compact 2.75MB and entirely portable, just unzip and run.

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PortableApps.com Platform 12 adds app menu, instant search, automatic app closing

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John Haller’s PortableApps.com has announced the release of PortableApps.com Platform 12, a major update for the all-in-one app manager.

Right-clicking the Platform system tray icon now displays a cascading menu containing all your apps, links to system folders, Backup/ Restore/ Eject functions and more.

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Transform your photos with PhotoWand for Windows 8

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PhotoWand is a free photo effects app for Windows 8. It’s not going to compete with the desktop equivalents any time soon, but there’s more than enough power here to make it genuinely useful.

There are simple and practical tools to improve your photos, for instance, including a crop function, blur and sharpen filters, and adjustments for hue, saturation, brightness and contrast.

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View images inside archives with Honeyview

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There are thousands of image viewers available for Windows, and the chances are you already have more than you need. Does the free Honeyview have anything to make it worth a download? Let’s see.

One immediate plus is that the program comes from Bandisoft, developer of the excellent free archiver Bandizip, and a firm that knows exactly what it's doing.

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Snap Clap for Android takes better selfies with a clap of your hands

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The average selfie can look a little strange, oddly framed and at a weird angle as you strain to fit everybody in. Usually no-one cares -- it’s supposed to be spontaneous, that’s that point -- but sometimes you just can’t get any kind of picture, no matter what you try.

Snap Clap is a simple Android app which helps out by taking a photo when you clap your hands.

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Clean up after over 30 antivirus tools with Antivirus Remover

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Antivirus software installations are often complex, involving many low-level alterations to your PC and its settings. Sometimes they don’t work as they should -- or the regular uninstaller fails to remove them completely -- and this can leave you with all kinds of frustrating problems and system instabilities.

Security vendors often have stand-alone tools to properly remove and clean up after their products. A quick web search should point you in the right direction, but if you’re regularly cleaning up other people’s PCs then the free Antivirus Remover could save you a little time.

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