Articles about Know Your PC

Record everything on screen and create quality presentations with ActivePresenter Free

Presentation powerpoint audience boardroom classroom

When you’re creating a presentation, a demonstration, a software tutorial, or just trying to show someone else what’s happening on your desktop, then you could just take and save screen grabs at the appropriate moments. But while that sounds simple enough, it’s not exactly convenient. You’ll have plenty of work to do later in converting your grabs into something meaningful. And even then, the finished results may not be that professional.

Fortunately ActivePresenter Free offers a more capable alternative. It’s a powerful screen recorder which can track everything you’re doing, and automatically add some useful annotations. You can then quickly customize the results with an excellent editor, before saving your project as images (JPEG, PNG) or video (WMV, AVI, MPEG4, WebM).

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Replace Notepad with the powerful and smarter EverEdit


Windows Notepad may be easy to use, but it’s also horribly basic, and so it’s no surprise that an entire industry has grown up in providing more powerful alternatives. Some, like Notepad++, have become famous in themselves, but there are also plenty of powerful but lesser-known tools around, and EverEdit is one of the most interesting.

The program gets off to a good start with its ultra-compact 1.25MB download, for instance. There’s no installation, no adware, not as much as a "Donate" button -- just unzip the file somewhere and you’re ready to go immediately.

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Get live TV and PVR working in XBMC

TV television

When Team XBMC recently announced the launch of XBMC 12.0 FINAL, fans of the media center alternative rejoiced. Version 12.0 didn’t just extend to support to even more platforms -- including the Raspberry PI and Android -- it also introduced a number of new high-end features too, including support for HD audio as well as live TV and PVR.

PVR -- in case you didn’t already know -- stands for Personal Video Recorder, and allows you to turn your PC into a tool for recording all your favorite TV shows. However, while XBMC 12.0 adds support for PVR, it takes a little setting up. Here’s what you need to do.

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Set System Restore points from the command line

laptop keyboard fingers

Windows System Restore is usually an excellent technology. Your PC creates Restore Points automatically at key times, and if disaster strikes then you can restore your system settings or key files in a click or two. It all seems very reliable -- until, that is, you need to use a Restore Point and then your system hasn’t been creating any for quite some time.

The reality is there are all kinds of problems which can affect System Restore. At the simplest, another user might have accidentally turned it off. But it can also be disabled via Windows policies, or just stop working altogether if you have issues with WMI or your Windows services. And that’s why it might be useful to have a copy of QuickSystemRestore around as a backup plan.

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Dukto shares files fast with 'buddies' on your LAN

File Sharing

Sharing files across your network sounds like it should be simple, but the reality is often very different. There are lots of factors to consider -- the basic LAN setup, protocols, users, permissions, and more -- and if you’re trying to connect different platforms as well then life will only get more complex.

If your networking needs are simple, though, Dukto could offer a more appealing approach. It’s a straightforward tool which runs on Windows, OS X, Linux, Symbian and iOS, and helps you transfer files or folders across your LAN without any hassles at all.

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Keep your passwords safe from prying eyes with KeePass 2.21

security password lock

Open-source password management tool KeePass 2.21 has been released. Version 2.21, also available as a standalone portable build, adds a number of new features, including a hex viewer mode, support for a user-defined group separator in the Generic CSV Importer and various tweaks, improvements and bug fixes.

KeePass is designed to act a single, central repository for a user’s sensitive data, from logons to credit card details. This information is encrypted with a single, master password, allowing the user to securely lock away their personal details when not required.

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Attribute Changer lets you tweak file attributes, date stamps, metadata and more

kid child computer PC

When Windows Explorer doesn’t immediately provide all the information you need on a file or folder, a quick right-click > Properties will give you easy access to assorted other low-level details: attributes, date stamps, metadata and so on. But the standard Properties dialog has several limitations. It doesn’t show all the file attributes, for instance (Hidden and System are missing, others are a little hidden), while details such as file stamps are displayed, but can’t be edited.

If you’d like to take better control of your file and folder properties, then, you’ll need to get a little help from a third-party tool. And Attribute Changer‘s lengthy feature list suggests it could be a great place to start.

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'Infinite' cloud storage service Bitcasa set to leave beta


There are no shortage of services that can backup your data to the cloud, but now the likes of Carbonite and Crashplan have a bit more competition in the market.

Over the weekend, Bitcasa, which has generated a lot of buzz recently, sent out an email to its early testers to alert them that the service would be leaving beta on Tuesday February 5th.

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Lock down almost any PC with Deskman

If there’s an aspect of your PC which you don’t like then it can normally be changed very quickly: a right-click option here, maybe launch a Control Panel applet there, install a new program perhaps, and the system should soon be more suited to your needs.

But while this configurability is great on your own computer, it’s a real problem when you want a PC to be much more restrictive: a system which you’ll install in a school, say, or a business. What you’ll probably want to do then is set up some basic configuration, and make sure your users can’t do anything to change it -- and that’s where Deskman comes in.

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Best Windows 8 apps this week


Fourteenth in a series. Microsoft continues to publish updates for the apps that ship with Windows 8 natively. Both the finance and weather application have been updated this week. However, it is not clear what changed as Microsoft did not update the release notes yet.

As far as total numbers of applications go: the Windows Store in the US lists 21,208 free apps and 6,074 paid apps as of this morning for a total of  27,282 apps. That's an increase of 970 apps this week, which falls in line with past performances. While we have seen slower weeks, app numbers consistently grow by about a 1,000 each week.

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Free up disk space by uninstalling unwanted software with Should I Remove It?

Uninstall trash

When you’re looking to improve your PC’s speed and stability then there are plenty of actions you might take, but one of the most effective is often just to uninstall any applications, add-ons and extras which you don’t really need. You’ll free up plenty of system resources, and that alone could help to deliver a real performance boost.

You’ll have to figure out exactly which programs you need to keep, though, and which can be safely uninstalled, and that can be a challenge if you’ve hundreds of apps to explore. Don’t worry, though, because Should I Remove It? is here to help: just download the program, the authors say, "and within seconds we will help you purge your PC".

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Got a PC problem? Try OSForensics 2.0

task manager tools multitasking

Passmark Software has released OSForensics 2.0, the latest edition of its excellent computer forensics package. And while it’s more about improving on what’s gone before than adding any major new functionality, there are still some very useful additions here.

While previously the program could only index the documents on one drive at a time, for instance, OSForensics 2.0 now allows you to specify as many drives per index as you like, and search them in a single operation later: seems like a small change, but this makes the program much more convenient to use.

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Capture videos from any website with Any Video Recorder

Record button

When you need to download a local copy of an online video then there are plenty of tools around which will try to help. Freemake Video Downloader, for instance, makes it easy to grab movies from YouTube, Facebook, Google, Vimeo and many other big-name sites.

Other sites make it more difficult to capture their content, of course, but if the regular downloaders can’t help then you can always turn to Any Video Recorder. This is a screen recorder which just captures video as it’s played back, so if you can watch it on your system, then Any Video Recorder should be able to record a copy for you.

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ScanNow for Universal Plug and Play warns if your network is vulnerable to the latest security flaws


Rapid7 -- the security company behind vulnerability scanner Metasploit -- has released details on three security flaws affecting some Universal Plug and Play implementations. And their research indicates that 40 to 50 million IPs are vulnerable to at least one of those vulnerabilities, which the company says is exposing users "to remote attacks that could result in the theft of sensitive information".

Could you be vulnerable? Fortunately Rapid7 has provided a free Windows-based tool, ScanNow for Universal Plug and Play, to help you find out.

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Get better security and stability with Opera 12.13 FINAL

opera logo

Norwegian browser developer Opera has announced its first release of 2013. Opera 12.13 FINAL is a security and stability release with a couple of notable bug fixes. The release, also available as a separate 64-bit build for Windows 64-bit users, comes just 48 hours after Opera 12.13 RC2 was released for public testing.

Bug fixes include a resolution that saw no webpages being loaded on startup if Opera is disconnected from the internet, plus one that led to internal communication errors appearing on Facebook.

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