Nick Peers

Avast 2014 R4 promises improved security, new anti-spam library

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Avast Software has released the fourth update to its Avast 2014 range of products with the unveiling of build number 9.0.2021 for Avast Free Antivirus 2014, Avast Internet Security 2014 and Avast Premier Security 2014.

As with the previous few updates, R4 contains no new features, but does include several important security enhancements among other tweaks and optimizations that once again make it essential for existing users.

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Opera Mini 8 for iPad and iPhone reveals complete redesign, new compression mode

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Opera Software ASA has unveiled Opera Mini 8.0, a major new version of its speed-optimized browser for iPhone and iPad. The browser, which uses compression technologies to speed up data transfer and browsing, gets a major overhaul with this new release, the first for over two years.

It’s also joined by a new version of Opera Developer 24.0 for Windows and Mac, which adds a new Tab Preview feature.

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Blender 2.71 adds new Cycles Rendering features, improves Animation and Modelling

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NPO The Blender Foundation has released Blender 2.71, an update to its cross-platform, open-source 3D graphics tool. Version 2.71, also available in 64-bit and portable form on Windows, includes new features and continues to build on the recently revamped user interface.

Areas that enjoy significant changes include the Cycles renderer, Animation, Modelling, Sculpting-Painting, Game Engine and Freestyle NPR Rendering tool.

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CCleaner optimizes memory usage, adds support for forthcoming Chrome 64-bit browser

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As the month draws to a close, Piriform issues its regular update to its freeware Windows cleaning utility with the releases of CCleaner 4.15 and CCleaner Portable 4.15.

Highlights in the latest release include support for the forthcoming 64-bit build of Google Chrome, plus an improved secure wipe algorithm as well as memory and architecture optimizations.

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Acronis True Image for Mac launches, offers local and cloud-based drive imaging

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Backup specialist Acronis has unveiled Acronis True Image for Mac 1.0, a brand new build of its well-known drive imaging software for Macs running OS X 10.8 or later.

The new release is described by Acronis as offering "dual-protection data backup" for Mac, a reference to its ability to back up to both local drives -- including network attached devices -- and the cloud through its own Acronis Cloud service.

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Paint.NET 4.0 is here at last, offers major new features, performance improvements

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It’s been a long wait -- nearly six years in fact -- but dotPDN LLC has finally unveiled Paint.NET 4.0 FINAL, the first major update to its popular freeware image-editing tool for Windows since version 3.5 was released in October 2008.

The new build comes with the promise of major performance improvements, particularly on multi-core processors, anti-aliased selections, a revamped user interface, a number of new features and revised system requirements that lock out Windows XP and Vista users.

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IrfanView adds new features, widens support to legacy image formats

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Irfan Skiljan has unveiled IrfanView 4.38, a major new build of his popular Windows image viewer and editor that’s free for personal use.

Despite the minor revision number, IrfanView 4.38 is packed with a significant number of new features, as well as newly added support (via a plugin) for legacy image formats stretching back to the days of 8-bit computing.

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Sundance web browser lets Windows users perform advanced web searches easily

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More than a decade into the browser wars, and they show no signs of abating. But while the behemoths of Microsoft, Google and Mozilla battle it out in the heavens for market share, closer to earth there’s still room for niche web browsers to make their mark.

One such browser is Sundance 4.0, which aims to carve itself a niche by providing easy access to advanced search tools, direct from the browser’s main interface.

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Parallels Access 2.0 lets you control your PC or Mac remotely using iPad, iPhone or Android device

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Looking for a way to access programs on your desktop or laptop from your mobile? You could go down the route of installing something like TeamViewer, but with the best will in the world, trying to control your entire Windows or Mac desktop from your mobile is a fiddly experience at best.

A more practical solution can be found by going down the Parallels Access route, and it’s one that’s just been made even better with the release of version 2.0.

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Evernote 5.4 for Windows Desktop adds user-requested features, including shortcuts toolbar option

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Evernote Corporation has released Evernote 5.4 for Windows Desktop, a minor update to its popular cloud-based, cross-platform note-taking and organizational tool.

Version 5.4 introduces two new features based on user feedback: the ability to request additional permissions when accessing shared notebooks, and the ability to view shortcuts horizontally on their own dedicated toolbar.

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Emsisoft Anti-Malware 9.0 adopts Windows 8-themed facelift, available for just $9.99

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Emsisoft has released Emsisoft Anti-Malware 9.0, a brand new version of its dual-engine anti-malware tool for Windows users. Version 9.0 sports a major facelift, improved performance and "hundreds of detail improvements" for better usability.

To celebrate the release, users have a nine-day window in which to purchase 12 month’s protection for the special introductory price of just $9.99, a saving of 75 percent on the usual MSRP.

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1Password for Windows 4.0 tightens security, adds new features

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Toronto security firm AgileBits has completed its round of major updates to its secure password storage service with the release of 1Password for Windows 4.0. With version 4, AgileBits has revamped the Windows build, significantly closing the feature-set gap between it and the more fully developed Mac version.

Highlights of this release include tighter security, a number of significant new features and the promise of vastly improved performance, and follow on from the recent Android update.

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Batch convert documents to PDF, PNG, TIF or JPG with DocuFreezer 1.0

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Anyone who's tried Print Conductor will know how great it is for speeding up the wearisome process of printing out documents of different types in one go from your Windows PC.

Now the folks at fCoder are at it again, providing another free-for-personal-use tool to speed up batch processing. This time, however, DocuFreezer 1.0 is designed to speed up document conversion to PDF.

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Stickies allows text notes to contain images, adds desktop stack option

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Looking for a digital solution to the raft of sticky notes plastered across your desk? ZHorn Software has just unveiled Stickies 8.0a, the first major update to its free desktop sticky tool for Windows since November 2012.

New features include support for inserting images in text stickies, the ability to stack desktop stickies together and periodic automatic backups.

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1Password for Android now supports on-device password editing and management

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AgileBits has unveiled 1Password for Android 4.0, a complete rebuild of its app for giving Android device users access to passwords stored securely using the 1Password service.

Previously, the app only gave users read-only access to passwords created on other platforms, including Windows, Mac and iOS, but is now a fully fledged password manager in its own right.

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