Mike Williams

Scan your website for SEO issues with BeamUsUp

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BeamUsUp is a free Java-based crawler which quickly scans a website and reports on common SEO issues: status error codes, description/ title too long or missing, missing headings, duplicate content and more.

Free? We were skeptical, but it’s true. It’s free for all uses, no adware, no flashing "Donate" button, and no annoying restrictions to persuade you to upgrade (can’t scan more than xxx links, can’t produce reports, can’t use it on Tuesdays -- you know the kind of thing).

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NirSoft releases TaskSchedulerView 1.0

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One-man freeware machine Nir Sofer has announced the release of TaskSchedulerView, a tiny portable tool for viewing, enabling or disabling scheduled tasks on Windows Vista through to 10.

Run the program and it displays a table listing each task and various details about it: Name, Description, Status, Hidden (Yes/No), Last Run/Next Run Times, Task Folder, EXE filename or COM handler of the task, number of missed runs, and more.

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FFmpeg is a one-stop audio and video converter

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If you need to convert a few audio or video files then you could try out a few freeware transcoders, do your best to avoid the adware, hope they support the formats and options you need.

Or you could just grab a copy of FFmpeg, the open-source media-processing powerhouse which is the engine behind most freeware converters, anyway.

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WinToFlash converts Windows setup discs to bootable USB drives

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Installing Windows normally requires a setup disc, which is just fine, unless your optical drive isn’t working. Or your system doesn’t have one at all. Or the disc is scratched and unreadable. Or you really don’t have the patience for those painfully slow data transfer rates.

One effective solution is to transfer your Windows setup files to a bootable USB drive. Novicorp WinToFlash has being doing just that since 2009, and despite development stalling for some time, a recent rush of major new releases means the package is finally out of beta.

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Context Menu Manager for Windows

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Double or right-click a file in Explorer and it’s not always obvious what's going to happen. You might find context menu entries for all kinds of long-forgotten applications, and Windows provides no obvious way to clean up.

Context Menu Manager is a free (well, ad-sponsored) portable program to help you browse your current file associations, view their context menus, clean up broken entries, and maybe add a few new right-click options to get your system working better.

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AlomWare Reset: for when rebooting is just too slow

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If your PC seems sluggish after a lengthy session then you might reboot to free up resources, get a clean start. But it could take a while, with perhaps minutes of disk thrashing as various processes restart.

AlomWare Reset is a $14 utility which tries to restore that "just launched" feeling, but only by focusing on the core essentials, and so boosts your system in just a few seconds.

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Capture, edit and share webpage screenshots with qSnap

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Taking a screenshot of what you can see on a computer is easy. Capturing something larger than the screen -- in particular, a lengthy web page -- is much more of a challenge, and even specialist screen capture tools won't necessarily do it.

QSnap is a free service and set of browser add-ons which helps you capture web pages, no matter what size they are, and can edit and share them, too.

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Scan pages as searchable PDFs with NAPS2

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Earlier this year we wrote about NAPS2 (Not Another PDF Scanner 2), a tiny open source tool which could scan documents to PDF, TIFF and other file formats. We liked the program’s simplicity and ease of use, and in the past few months it’s been further extended with some major new features.

Integrated OCR means you can now make your PDFs searchable. There’s no complex interface to navigate, no manual setting of OCR regions or anything else: just click the OCR button, choose the document language and NAPS2 handles everything else.

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Scan for local wireless network with Acrylic WiFi Free

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If your Wi-Fi isn’t performing well then using a scanner to check for competing networks can often tell you more.

Unsure where to begin? Acrylic WiFi Free claims to be "the most advanced WLAN Scanner", which sounds encouraging. It’s free for personal use and runs on Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10, so we grabbed a copy to take a closer look.

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Imagina is a professional photo processor for Windows

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With so many image viewers and editors available for the PC, it’s not easy for developers to make their product stand out. Some try to win you over with the sheer quantity of features, but Imagina is more about the quality: it doesn’t do much, but what you get works very well.

The thumbnail browser doesn’t just open with the usual JPGs and PNGs, for instance -- dcraw support means it can handle many RAW formats, initially displaying them in an attractive photo collage-like "3D Desktop" view.

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Shrink your PDFs with PDF to DjVu GUI

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At first glance, PDF to DjVu GUI doesn’t sound like the most promising of programs. Convert documents from one of the most commonly supported formats ever, to something most people don’t know at all? If you need to share files with a wide audience then there’s no way that will ever be a good idea.

And yet, DjVu does have its advantages, especially with document size. We tried out the program with 12 PDF files, and while one DjVu version was fractionally larger, most were 25 percent -- 80 percent smaller than the original, and a couple dropped by around 90 percent.

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iTunes 12.2 brings Apple Music to the desktop

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Apple has released iTunes 12.2, bringing Apple Music and the new Beats 1 radio station to OS X and Windows.

Additions include the new Connect, a sort-of social networking service where artists share "thoughts, photos, music and videos", you can comment or "love" anything they’ve posted, and they can respond directly.

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DNS Jumper 2.0 brings turbo DNS testing

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Sordum has released DNS Jumper 2.0, an update of its freeware DNS changer for Windows.

New startup options mean you can have the program load along with Windows, test for the fastest DNS server and apply it automatically, no more manual interventions required.

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Track & edit video objects with Sensarea

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Most video editors provide various effects you can apply to a movie, maybe tweaking its brightness, contrast or colors. But typically these filters work with the entire frame only, which seriously limits their usefulness.

Sensarea is a free video editor for Windows which allows you to select objects, then tracks them in the frame, automatically applying your chosen effects. If you wanted to conceal someone’s identity, say, you could set up the system to pixelate their face with just a few minutes work.

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Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 11 released

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Xara Group has announced the release of Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 11, its one-stop photo editor, graphic design and publishing tool for Windows Vista+.

Art Brushes are a highlight, a new technology which smoothly stretches bitmap or vector brushes in real-time along a freehand path. There are new brushes to emulate paint, chalk or watercolours, or you can create your own as required.

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