Mike Williams

Discover and manage network devices with Advanced IP Scanner

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As you’ll guess from its name, Advanced IP Scanner is a network scanner for Windows, which checks your network for connected devices and tells you more about them.

That doesn’t sound particularly interesting, especially as there are already so many similar tools around. But wait -- Advanced IP Scanner does have some advantages which help it stand out from the crowd.

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Make sense of 'unknown devices' with Hardware Identify

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Utilities developer Tweaking.com has announced the availability of Hardware Identify, a tool which attempts to list the various devices on your PC -- even if Device Manager (or other system information tools) currently show them as "unknown".

Download, unzip and launch the program, and within a few seconds it displays a table listing all your hardware. Details include the device name, manufacturer, error code (if there’s currently a problem), class (USB, System, Port, Mouse and so on), driver version and hardware IDs. Clicking any column header sorts the list by that field.

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Anki -- an easier way to study almost anything

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Anki’s developer describes the project as "a program which makes remembering things easy". That sounds a little vague, but it's also very accurate. Anki is a smart and versatile flashcard-based tool which really can help you remember just about anything.

The program allows you to create, download and edit flashcards. Each card has a question on one side, its answer on the other. This could be simple text -- a deck on capital cities might use "France", "Paris" -- but Anki also supports graphics, audio, video, even scientific markup (via LaTeX), so there's plenty of scope to be inventive.

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Create interface mockups in minutes with Pencil

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It’s no secret that interface design is difficult. Very, very difficult. Even the biggest and best companies regularly make big mistakes.

There are ways to improve your chance of success, though -- and you could start by creating a prototype of your app, program or website in the open source Pencil.

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Search and replace text in multiple files at the same time

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Most editors make it easy to replace text in the current document. Searching across multiple documents can be more challenging. And if you often need to replace text across a large number of files, perhaps of various formats, then it’s probably wise to call in some specialist help.

Multiple Search and Replace is a powerful free tool which can search multiple files -- plain text, PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, archives and more -- for the text you specify, then optionally replace it.

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HTML to PDF Tools: a different kind of PDF converter

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There are lots of HTML to PDF conversion tools around, and most work in the same way: they’ll process the HTML code, convert it into an image, and save this as a series of JPEGs in the finished PDF.

This works, but the results are basic, image quality will be lost, and there can be various other problems (you might have to install a virtual printer driver, there could be dependencies on other software).

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Anvi Smart Defender sees a major revamp

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Anvisoft has announced the availability of Anvi Smart Defender 2.0, a major reworking of its lightweight security tool.

A completely redesigned interface sees the old cluttered screens replaced by a simpler, cleaner look. Key functions are accessed via large, flat buttons, surplus options are stripped away, and the end result does feel notably easier to use.

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Microsoft launches Office for iPad

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It’s taken a very long time, but today, finally, Microsoft unveiled Office for iPad. Despite the name, Office for iPad is three separate apps -- Word, Excel and PowerPoint -- which are individually available in the App store.

The apps have a familiar interface, with the same Ribbon interface and layout. But at the same time, they’re not just a port of the regular desktop version. Menus have been optimized for touch; objects can similarly be dragged, rotated or resized with a swipe; Excel has a special formula keyboard to help you enter data quickly, and everything scales properly in both portrait and landscape mode.

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Black Menu for Google Chrome: an easier way to access Google tools

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Google offers many different services, and switching between them isn’t difficult. If you’re at Google News, say, click the Apps icon top right and you’ll see buttons for Search, Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Maps and more: just click whatever you need to launch that page.

This is simple enough, but not ideal. You need to be at one Google service before you can launch another; whatever you select replaces the current page, and there are at least two clicks required. If you’re a Chrome user then Black Menu for Google could provide an easier solution.

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ZoneAlarm enhances protection of its paid products

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Zone Labs has updated its ZoneAlarm range to version 13.0.208.000.

ZoneAlarm Free users probably shouldn’t get too excited, as the only significant change they’ll notice is that the Privacy Toolbar finally works with Internet Explorer 11.

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What really happens when you press Ctrl+C? Clipboard Format Spy has the answers

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In theory, the Windows clipboard seems very simple. Select something, press Ctrl+C and it’s copied there; click somewhere else, press Ctrl+V and it’s pasted. Easy.

Then again, sometimes you’ll try to paste something and find the formatting is messed up, or you just don’t get what you expected. What’s happening? The free Clipboard Format Spy may be able to help.

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Study audio files in detail with Sonic Visualiser

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Open an audio file, and most people just want to listen to it. If there’s a play button, a volume control, maybe a simple equalizer, they’ll be happy enough.

If you’re interested in studying the audio, though -- viewing individual channels, estimating beat or tempo, checking pitch and key, extracting harmony or chords -- then media players won’t be able to help. You’ll need a specialist tool like the open source Sonic Visualiser.

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Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 2.0: new look, new engine

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Malwarebytes has announced the release of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 2.0, its flagship security tool.

A new heuristics engine detects malware based on its behavior, rather than signatures. The integration of Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit further enhances its protection, and Anti-Malware’s interface has been completely redesigned for a simpler, more modern look.

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Stop users running specific applications with Program Blocker

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AppLocker is an interesting Windows 7/ 8 feature which helps you control which installers, programs and scripts a PC user can run, while blocking everything else. It’s effective, and flexible -- but only included in the high-end Windows editions (Enterprise, Ultimate and Server).

Fortunately there are other tools which also claim they can limit what users can run on a PC, and Program Blocker, from The Windows Club, is the latest example.

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Take charge of your HOSTS file with hostsController

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Editing your PCs HOSTS file can help you block ads, restrict access to certain websites, or just get more control over your network traffic.

You could make all this happen with nothing more than Notepad, but it’s not exactly straightforward, and installing a copy of the free hostsController will make your life very much easier.

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