Nick Peers

MediaPortal 1.7.0 adds Wake On LAN support, boosts stability

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Team MediaPortal has released a major update of its open-source media center software for Windows. MediaPortal 1.7.0 FINAL comes with a number of under-the-hood changes that will impact the program going forward, including future plans for a home screen editor within the MediaPortal itself.

The new build also promises enhancements to the TV and video On Screen Displays, a new Wake On LAN feature and support for accessing information about video files automatically.

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Pinnacle Studio 5 launches on iPhone, updated for iPad

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Corel subsidiary Pinnacle System has launched Pinnacle Studio for iPhone 5.0 alongside an updated Pinnacle Studio for iPad 5.0, which has been rebuilt with an iOS 7-themed interface and 64-bit support.

Pinnacle Studio for iPhone contains an identical feature-set to its bigger iPad brethren, explaining why its first release is version 5. Features include support for mixing video, audio and photos with Storyboard and Timeline editing features plus a wide range of tracks, effects and titles, plus 1080p HD video quality.

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Sketch 3 for Mac adds reusable Symbols and Presentation Mode, improves Export tool

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Bohemian Coding has released Sketch 3.0, a major new version of its Mac vector-based design tool. Version 3.0 adds a brand new feature called Symbols, which lets users combine multi-layered objects into a reusable group.

Other changes include major improvements to the Export Tool, redesigned Text and Layer Styles, a revamped inspector and a new Presentation Mode for showing off designs in full screen.

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EssentialPIM adds support for cloud sync, Pro users gain PGP encryption

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Astonsoft has released EssentialPIM Free 5.8 and EssentialPIM Pro 5.8, major new versions of its personal information manager tool for Windows.

Also available in portable form as well as on Android and iOS, version 5.8’s headline feature is integration with the new EPIM Cloud feature, allowing data to be synced using the cloud.

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Defraggler adds Quick Optimize feature for SSD drives, disk performance graphs

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Piriform has released Defraggler 2.18 and Defraggler Portable 2.18, minor updates to its Windows freeware defrag tool.

Version 2.18 builds on the previous release by adding additional functionality to the recently introduced Statistics tab as well as implementing a new Quick Optimize feature for sold-state storage drives.

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Hardwipe drops 32-bit support, improves Recycler cleaning tool

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Big Angry Dog Ltd has released HardWipe 4.0.1 and HardWipe Portable 4.0.1, a major new version of its ad-supported data wiping tool for Windows. Version 4.0.1 is notable for becoming a 64-bit only build, dropping support for legacy OSes including Windows XP in the process.

The update also sees HardWipe transition from the Qt4 to Qt5 application and UI framework as a result of becoming a native 64-bit application.

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Peazip introduces File Manager improvements, updates archiving tools

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PeaZip srl has released PeaZip 5.3, the latest version of its open-source, cross-platform archiving tool for Windows and Linux users. The archiver supports over 178 file extensions, and is also available for Windows users in 64-bit form as well as portable builds (both 32-bit and 64-bit).

Version 5.3 launches with numerous new features and improvements to the File Manager graphical user interface as well as a wide range of improvements to its archiving and extraction tools.

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DropIt 7.0 drag-and-drop file management tool offers raft of improvements and new features

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Drag-and-drop file mamagement tool DropIt 7.0 has been released. The open-source tool, also available in portable form, includes a raft of improvements, new features and a handful of bug fixes.

DropIt, which sits as a floating icon on the desktop when installed, allows users to process folders and files quickly via drag-and-drop, with up to 15 different actions (including move, copy, send by mail and upload) supported.

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Stardock Start8 1.4 ensures compatibility with Windows 8.1 Update

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Stardock Corporation has released Start 8 1.4, a minor update to its Windows 8 Start button and menu replacement tool. There are no new features in version 1.4, just a series of bug fixes and one key compatibility update.

That update is support for the forthcoming Windows 8.1 Update, due to ship on "Patch Tuesday" next week. Existing Start8 users should therefore update this before April 8th rolls around.

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IObit PCtransfer launches, offers data and settings migration tool for Windows users

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IObit Systems has released IObit PCtransfer 1.0, a freeware tool for migrating data and a limited selection of settings from one PC to another. The tool offers a simple, fuss-free user interface that will appeal to novices, but lacks advanced functionality, such as the ability to move entire programs or a more comprehensive array of supported program settings.

The program is packaged as a self-contained portable executable, so once launched, it’s a case of first selecting which items to include in the backup.

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Spotify for iOS shows off darker theme, improved playlist features

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Popular music-streaming service Spotify has updated its iPad and iPhone app with the release of Spotify 1.0. The app gains a refreshed user interface to match the new darker theme being rolled out across all platforms.

It also debuts several new features. Chief among these is Your Music, a means of saving, organizing and browsing the user’s favorite music in one spot.

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Manage music on your mobiles, tablets and PC for free with KiwiG PhonTunes

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Shunting music files between PC, Apple and Android is nothing new, but it can be a fiddly process if done manually, or expensive if you try to find a suitable third-party app to do the hard work for you. With the release of KiwiG PhonTunes 2.5, you can now enjoy quick and easy music transfer -- including directly between Android and Apple -- for free.

Version 2.5 has just been launched with a completely redesigned user interface, support for local music management and a built-in music player.

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Opera Next 21 sports hardware-accelerated Aura shell, promises more responsive UI

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Opera has moved version 21 of its web browser for Windows and Mac from the Developer (alpha) stream to the Next (beta) stream with the release of Opera Next 21. Most of the changes are system ones, designed to improve performance, but some other interesting tweaks have been implemented.

The move to the Next stream is part of the browser’s rapid-release development cycle, which brought Opera into line with rival browsers Chrome and Firefox.

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DiskAid speeds up device cloning, improves backup and restore options

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DigiDNA has released DiskAid 6.6, a new build of its tool for converting spare storage on an iOS device into an external hard drive for wireless or USB access from a Windows or Mac computer.

Version 6.6 speeds up cloning one device to others, improves support for restoring device backups and allows users to manually add or remove contacts on the iPhone via USB.

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VirtualBox squashes major bugs, adds experimental native full-screen support to OS X

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Oracle has released VirtualBox 4.3.10, a maintenance update to its cross-platform, partly open-source virtualization tool. Although primarily a series of bug fixes, there is one new feature of note for OS X users.

That feature is experimental support for the native full-screen mode as implemented in Mountain Lion and Mavericks -- press the defined host key plus [F] to toggle this on or off, or use the View menu. This new feature is accompanied by the removal of another: the mini-toolbar minimize button that doesn’t work in full screen view.

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