Mike Williams

Instantly close or restart programs with ProcessKO

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Closing one Windows process is usually straightforward. Clicking File > Exit should get the job done, Alt+F4 may also work, and Task Manager is on hand if you need it (Ctrl+Shift+Esc, right-click the process, select End Task).

Life gets a little more complicated if you want to close multiple instances of one program. Or restart them. You can still do this from Windows, but ProcessKO (also available in a 64-bit version) makes it much easier to close, restart and generally work with troublesome processes.

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Xlideit excels as an image viewer

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It’s tough to make an impact in the crowded Windows image viewer market, and so most newcomers try to impress users with advanced features, like their vast file format support or a lengthy list of editing tools. And that would be fine, except they often forget about the basics, like building a comfortable interface which people actually want to use.

Xlideit is following a different path. There’s no RAW format support here, no red-eye removal, no automatic image correction or other extras. Instead the developer is focusing on the interface fundamentals first, and so far he’s doing a very good job.

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Capture, record or broadcast your desktop with QIP Shot

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QIP Shot is an interesting screen capture tool with some unusual bonus features.

It doesn’t just capture the usual full screen, active window or freehand rectangle, for instance. You can also grab ellipses, freehand areas and even scrolling windows (web pages which are too lengthy to fit on the screen, perhaps).

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Quickly transcribe audio or video files with easytranscript

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Accurately transcribing audio and video files can be a long and difficult process. No matter how fast you can type, it seems there’s always someone who can talk faster. And then mumble half of what they say, leaving you frequently rewinding to try and figure it out.

There is no simple solution to this, but specialist transcription software should at least save you some time. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either -- the open source easytranscript offers some useful starting features entirely for free.

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Convert scripts to exe files with Bat To Exe Converter

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Scripts can be a great way to automate tasks on your PC, and are usually very easy to create and share. Just launch Notepad, enter a few lines, and after a quick File and Save it’s ready to go.

Batch files have down sides, too. You don’t always want others to be able to view or edit them. It’s difficult to restrict their use, and of course the console window appears every time they’re launched. But fortunately the free Bat To Exe Converter can solve all these problems by converting your scripts into stand-alone executables.

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AOMEI Backupper Standard 2.01 review

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When we first looked at AOMEI Data Backuper in January 2013 it was a capable free image backup tool with some limitations -- no scheduler -- but a lot of promise. Now at version 2.x , and renamed to AOMEI Backupper Standard, is the program worth considering again? We checked it out.

Installation remains quick and easy. It’s the free edition of a commercial product, but there’s no adware, no nag screens, no unmarked functions which display annoying "can’t use this until you pay" messages. Only an unobtrusive "Upgrade" link on the main page reminds you there are other options available.

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Quickly access your favorite folders with FoldersPopup

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When managing files, it's important that you can browse quickly to your most frequently-used folders, and Windows provides various ways to help. You might add some to your Explorer Favorites, pin more to the taskbar or Start Screen, create custom shortcuts for Explorer, maybe a batch file: there's a lot to do.

Alternatively, you could just use the free FoldersPopup, a single tool which provides quick, easy and configurable access to your key folders from just about anywhere.

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Internet Explorer Developer Channel adds GamePad, WebDriver support

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Microsoft has unveiled Internet Explorer Developer Channel, a special preview version of the browser which includes upcoming developer-oriented features and extended standards support.

One major highlight of this release is that it’s packaged as an App-V application, which means it runs in a virtualized environment and won’t affect your existing Windows or Internet Explorer setup at all. There are none of the usual dangers of installing an unfinished IE build. You can run Internet Explorer Developer Channel alongside IE11 without any conflicts, and uninstall it cleanly at any time.

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HotKey Resolution Changer switches screen resolutions with a keypress

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Changing screen resolution on a PC is normally done via the Display applet. In Windows 8, say, you’d right-click the desktop, select Screen Resolution, choose your preferred resolution, click OK and confirm the results.

While this isn’t difficult, it does take a few clicks. If you’re adjusting your resolution on a regular basis then you might like to try HotKey Resolution Changer, which allows you to tweak your settings with a keypress, or from the command line -- no other steps required.

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Greasemonkey update brings important security changes

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Firefox script manager Greasemonkey has been updated to version 2.0 with some important security tweaks.

The add-on now finally defaults to the unprivileged mode introduced in Greasemonkey 1.0, which means scripts must explicitly request the APIs they need with @grant. The developers say this shouldn’t pose a problem, as "many if not most or all scripts" work this way already, and the change won’t immediately affect installed scripts anyway. But if you then update, edit or reinstall a script which doesn’t follow the rules, it’ll probably break.

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Create flowcharts, mind maps and more with Software Ideas Modeler

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If you need to create a diagram then there are plenty of free options around, from basic drawing tools to more specialist freebies like NCH Software’s ClickCharts.

But if you’re looking for something serious, something industrial strength, with the power to handle a major project, the free (for non-commercial use) Software Ideas Modeler could be a great choice.

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Manage Windows services from the desktop with ServiceTray

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If you're managing or troubleshooting a PC then it's often useful to keep track of an important Windows service. The regular services applet handles the basics, but the free ServiceTray goes further with extra features and far better real-time feedback.

Setup is simple, mostly about choosing the service to be monitored (it only tracks one at a time) and your preferred system tray icon. ServiceTray can then generate an icon in the Startup folder, or your desktop, as required.

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Icaros enables Explorer thumbnails for almost any video type

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Windows Explorer does a reasonable job of displaying thumbnails for standard image types, but it’s not so good with videos. You might get lucky with a few basic formats, but others -- FLV, MKV -- are usually ignored, leaving you with basic placeholder thumbnails which tell you nothing at all.

If that sounds familiar then Icaros may be able to help. It’s a collection of Windows shell extensions, powered by a custom version of FFmpeg which can extract thumbnails from just about any media format every created.

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Extend your battery life with Comodo Battery Saver for Android

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There’s no real secret to extending the battery life of your Android device: just keep your screen brightness and timeout to a minimum, while turning off, disabling or uninstalling everything you don’t really need.

Applying these tweaks at the right time is often a hassle, of course, and it could be simpler to allow the free Comodo Battery Saver to manage everything for you.

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Ashampoo Music Studio 5 adds Opus support, improves tag editor

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German multimedia developer Ashampoo has announced the release of Ashampoo Music Studio 5, its all-in-one music management suite.

Improvements include an extended Analyze tool which checks your chosen audio files for common problems (missing tags, incorrect file extensions) and corrects them in a few clicks.

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