Mike Williams

Take control of your Windows startup programs with Autorun Organizer

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Your PC’s taking an age to boot? It could be launching too many programs when Windows starts. There are plenty of freeware "startup manager" tools which claim they can help, but Autorun Organizer is better than most.

The program checks a good range of startup locations, for instance: the Startup folder, the Registry, Task Scheduler. It’s not Autoruns, but there’s more than enough to be useful.

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Drawpile: work on drawings with 20+ other users in real time

Drawpile

Do you sometimes need to collaborate on drawings or sketches? Drawpile is a cross-platform application which allows 20+ users to use the same canvas, all at the same time.

The drawing engine initially looks quite simple. There’s a pen and brush, a line, rectangle and ellipse, they all support a range of color options, and you’re able to add text annotations as required.

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Create animated GIFs from video clips with Movie to Gif

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They’re extremely basic, horribly limited, just about the most low-tech form of computer animation you can get. But then animated GIFs are almost 25 years old, so we probably shouldn’t expect too much. And even now, they’re still useful as a reliable way to display simple animations on just about every platform.

We’ve discussed several ways to create animated GIFs before, but the latest is Movie to Gif, which does exactly what its name suggests: point the program at a video and it’ll render a finished GIF for you.

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Maps.Me: a travel app which works anywhere

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Every smartphone user needs a good mapping app, something to get them from A to B with the absolute minimum of hassle.

Google Maps is a great first choice, and of course there’s plenty of other options. But if you need something that will work anywhere, up mountains or down dirt tracks, then Maps.Me is a must-have.

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Kaspersky Internet Security 2015: An accurate and reliable security suite [Review]

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Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 is a capable product which delivers everything you’d expect from a security suite: antivirus, firewall, browsing protection, a spam filter and more. The technology scores highly with the independent testing labs, too, so we were interested to see what the new build had to offer.

Installation was quick and easy. Unlike some of the competition, you’re not forced to remove anything else vaguely security-related: Kaspersky warns you about possible conflicts, but whether you uninstall any problem programs is up to you.

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Paragon Rescue Kit adds virtual disk support

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Paragon Technologies has released Paragon Rescue Kit 14, its free-for-personal-use disaster recovery environment.

The program creates bootable recovery media based on Windows PE, or, new to this version, SuSE 12.3. The second adds support for migrating a Windows system to a different hardware platform, including 64-bit setups using UEFI.

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CyberLink Media Suite 12 arrives, supports creating and editing 4K video

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CyberLink has announced the release of CyberLink Media Suite 12, its vast and comprehensive collection of playback, editing and convent creation tools.

Highlights include new support for creating and playing back UltraHD 4K Video. The suite can now also play and convert H.265 content, and CyberLink claims new 64-bit video and photo editing engines deliver 3x faster rendering speed over the 32-bit versions.

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OSForensics 3 uncovers even more hidden PC details

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PassMark Software has announced the release of OSForensics 3.0, a major update for its excellent PC investigation suite.

A stack of new viewers tell you more about your target system. The Prefetch viewer reveals when (and how frequently) applications have been run; the ThumbCache viewer displays thumbnails cached by Explorer, and the ESE Database viewer gives access to a host of low-level Windows information.

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FotoSketcher gains new watercolor effect

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French developer David Thoirin has released FotoSketcher 2.90, an update to his freeware Windows program for transforming digital photos into works of art.

The major new feature is a second watercolor effect (Edit > Drawing Parameters > Painting 9), which Thoirin has described as using "a loose style (with transparency)… based on a new segmentation algorithm".

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Xara Photo & Graphic Designer adds 100+ effects, 100GB online storage space

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Xara Group has announced the release of Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 10, the latest incarnation of its all-in-one editing, illustration and design tool.

Top of the new features list is the inclusion of Magic Bullet PhotoLooks 2.0, a powerful plugin (sold separately for $199 as recently as 2012) which offers 100+ present lighting and color effects.

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Scan and manage your network with Axence nVision Free

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Small home networks can take a while to set up -- especially if you’re a networking novice -- but once they’re up and running, there’s usually little else to do. Everything just works. And if it doesn’t, there’s generally a simple explanation (something’s been unplugged or turned off).

Add a few more systems, some of which are really important (a business server), and it’s another story. Problems quickly become complex, and have to be fixed right now.  To keep up it’s important to manage your network more carefully, and Axence nVision Free is the ideal program to help.

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120 Sports brings free sports programming to Android

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Sports programming network 120 Sports has announced that its free app is now available in the Google Play store.

Already available for iOS, the (US-only) 120 Sports app offers what the company calls "hosted programming delivering timely narratives of the stories across every sport, featuring breaking news, video highlights and live look-ins, all integrated with social conversation, expert analysis and a new production style focused on the digital generation".

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Ashampoo Photo Commander 12 released, extends cloud storage support

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Ashampoo has unveiled Ashampoo Photo Commander 12 for Windows, a major update for its comprehensive photo management, editing and sharing tool.

Smarter access to cloud services means the program now offers 1-click copy-move operations to Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive.

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Screenhero: screen sharing with two mouse cursors

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Screen sharing tools are great when you need to show someone else what’s happening on your own computer. You connect, do whatever you like, and your contact can follow every step.

If the remote user wants to make use of the other computer, however, it’s often more difficult. There’s still only one mouse cursor, so you’ll need to negotiate who can use it at any one time -- not exactly convenient.

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Dropbox 2.10 FINAL kick-starts large file syncs

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Cloud backup provider Dropbox has released a new stable build for desktop with the launch of Dropbox 2.10.1 FINAL for Windows and Mac.

The highlight is the introduction of streaming sync. Large files now start to be synced with your clients while they’re still being uploaded, keeping any initial delays to an absolute minimum and notably improving performance.

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