Mike Williams

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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MouseController records and replays your mouse actions

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Tedious PC tasks can sometimes by automated by scripting, command line switches, maybe an application’s own built-in scheduler. But if those options don’t work for you then you could try MouseController, a very lightweight tool which records and replays your mouse actions.

The program is absolutely tiny -- a 32KB download -- and doesn’t require installation. Just unzip it, launch the single executable and you’re ready to go.

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Troubleshoot TCP/IP issues with 'Why Can’t I Connect?'

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Why Can’t I Connect? is an open source tool which can help to identify and solve TCP/IP connection errors.

Typically you'll use the program to try and connect to one of many common server types (Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL Server, FTP, SFTP, IMAP, POP3, SMTP, IRC, LDAP and Usenet are supported, along with generic servers and clients). Why Can’t I Connect? then tries to make the connection for you, reporting on what happens at every stage, and offering possible explanations for whatever errors crop up.

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B1 Free Archiver is a friendly cross-platform archive manager

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Everyone needs a good archive manager, and you've probably chosen one already. We're fans of 7-Zip: the current release may be three years old, but it still performs very well.

There is some competition around, though, and B1 Free Archiver is an interesting example which really does stand out from the crowd.

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Panda releases first Panda Global Protection 2015 beta

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Panda Security has released the first public Windows beta for Panda Global Protection 2015, its all-in-one internet security suite.

A stack of new features starts with the Data Shield, a very configurable way to protect your confidential files. Specify the folders and file types to protect -- Documents, PDF and DOCX, say -- and the program will warn you if any unknown or untrusted applications try to gain access.

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Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit available in Free, Premium, Business editions

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Malwarebytes has announced the first full public release of Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit, a powerful tool which protects against many zero-day exploits. It’s now available in three editions.

A basic Free version shields some browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, Opera), their addons, and Java, on Windows XP or later.

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Encrypt, decrypt and process your PDFs with QPDF

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If you need to process your PDFs then there’s no shortage of free options. JPDF Tweak alone can crop or rotate pages, apply text and image watermarks, encrypt, decrypt them, and so on. You’ve probably come across similar toolkits yourself.

Even the best of these programs will have some gaps in its functionality, though: some security options missing, limited batch processing, inflexible split or merge tools, maybe can’t create linearized (web-friendly) PDFs. And so sometimes, just occasionally, you’ll need a heavy-duty solution like the command line QPDF.

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