Nick Peers

Consolidate all your boot media on to a single flash drive with Ventoy

How many boot discs or flash drives do you own? It’s possible to build up quite a collection, from Linux live CDs and antivirus rescue discs to boot media for apps as diverse as drive imaging to data recovery.

Thanks to Ventoy 1.0.15, you can now consolidate all your boot media: instead of five, six or however many boot discs you need, everything is stored on a single flash drive. The larger the flash drive, the more boot media you can install on it.

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Thunderbird 78 unveils major UI changes, restricts add-ons to MailExtension API only

Mozilla has released Thunderbird 78.0 for Windows, Mac and Linux. It’s the first major update of the popular open-source email client since August 2019, and is only available as a direct download -- existing users of the Thunderbird 68.x series are advised to wait for a future release that will provide an upgrade path.

A host of new and changed features have been implemented, although the long-heralded built-in support for OpenPGP encryption has been disabled by default for now due to some outstanding issues.

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Ashampoo Photo Optimizer 8 promises much-improved 1-click photo fix

German software developer Ashampoo has unveiled Photo Optimizer 8.0, a major new release of its Windows photo-editing tool. The first major update since June 2018, version 8 builds further on the 1-click optimization tool introduced in version 7, plus offers additional manual fine-tuning tools alongside a new perspective correction feature.

Photo Optimizer 8 opens with what Ashampoo admits is a 'significantly improved' 1-click correction tool, designed to detect potential weaknesses in the original photo and provide improvements with no user involvement required. The improved algorithm has undergone two years of development and trial runs, with many thousands of setting combinations tested to help lift photos suffering from dull colors, poor lighting and a lack of contrast.

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Firefox 78 and Firefox 78 ESR unveil new privacy protection features

Mozilla has released Firefox 78.0, the latest in a long line of major updates to the veteran browser. Available for Windows, macOS and Linux, the new release is joined by Firefox ESR 78.0, the first major update of the Extended Support Release browser since Firefox 68 last year.

The release sees the Privacy Protections screen renamed to Protections Dashboard. It also gains two new features: the ability to track the number of resolved breaches directly from the dashboard itself, plus an option to check to see if any saved passwords have been exposed in a data breach. Type about:protections to access the dashboard quickly.

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Opera 69 expands its social media support with new Twitter sidebar tool

In the crowded web browser market, finding unique selling points can be hard. Opera 69 launches with one major headline feature: a new sidebar providing users with easy access to their Twitter accounts.

The new feature joins other recent additions designed to make Opera stand out -- from ad and tracker blockers to free browser VPN -- and follows on from recently added support for Instagram, which Opera claims allowed it to "reach a record number of users in March 2020".

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Mountain Duck 4.0 adds recently changed files list, sync transfer progress

Swiss developer iterate GmbH has released Mountain Duck 4.0 for Windows and Mac.

Highlights in the new release -- a paid upgrade for all users, including those with licenses for previous versions -- include the ability to view the sync progress for current transfers, and an option to view a list of recently changed files on both computer and server.

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Vivaldi 3.1 unveils new Notes Manager tool, customizable menus

Vivaldi Technologies has unveiled Vivaldi 3.1 for Windows, Mac and Linux. The release comes 48 hours after the first major update for Vivaldi for Android.

The desktop build unveils a major upgrade to its existing Notes feature in the form of a full-blown Notes Manager tool. The tool is now accessible via its own full-screen tab in the main browser window (click the link in the Start page or type vivaldi://notes/ into the browser’s address bar).

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LibreOffice 7.0 Beta 1 arrives with ODF 1.3 document support

The Document Foundation has released the first public beta of its upcoming LibreOffice 7.0 office suite for Windows, Mac and Linux. Users are encouraged to download and test the software -- which installs alongside any existing production release -- ahead its final release, expected to be in August.

The new release doesn’t boast any major new features, but does update ODF support to 1.3, plus unveils improvements both major and minor to the suite’s major components -- in particular Writer.

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Upgrade to Windows 10 Professional for only $39.95 and test untrusted programs safely with the updated Sandbox

In computing terms, a sandbox is an isolated environment inside which you can safely run operating systems and software without risking your data, privacy, or security. Therefore, the Windows Sandbox does exactly what it says on the tin: provides a lightweight desktop environment inside which you can safely test programs.

Why would you do this? The primary reason is security: you don’t know whether you trust a program or file, so by launching the Windows Sandbox tool in Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise you’ll create a Windows within Windows. If you’ve been experimenting with Hyper-V, you’ll see it shares the same underlying virtualization technology, albeit with some crucial differences.

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Move up to Windows 10 Professional for just $39.99 and tap into the benefits of Hyper-V virtualization

Hyper-V is Windows’ built-in virtualization technology, hard-wired into Windows 10 Professional to allow you to easily run multiple operating systems on a single PC. You can use it to resurrect old programs and hardware no longer compatible with Windows 10, explore alternative operating systems such as Ubuntu or use it as a test environment.

"But I can do all this for free with VirtualBox!" you’ll say. And you’d be correct -- to a degree. There’s one critical reason why Hyper-V is a better option than VirtualBox, and that’s raw performance. VirtualBox is a software emulator, which means that it sits on top of Windows and can never match native performance, whatever tweaks you perform.

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Slack for iOS unveils a radical new user interface -- once it's been switched on

Business communication tool Slack has just released a major new update to its iOS app for iPhone and iPad. Slack 20.05.10 sees the app get ready for more than a simple facelift, with a complete redesign that brings it into line with improvements unveiled back in March on the desktop.

Be warned though: the user interface is actually a server-side update, which means not all users will immediately feel the benefit of updating -- nevertheless, install the app now and when the new UI is switched on, you’ll be able to use it.

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Foxit Reader 10 unveils new Fill & Sign tool, but drops ability to create PDFs

Foxit Software has unveiled landmark updates across its range of PDF viewing and editing tools for Windows PCs. There’s the brand-new free Foxit Reader 10.0 for those who simply need a fast, lightweight PDF viewing tool with handy extras like basic annotation and editing tools.

For those looking for more functionality, Foxit Phantom Standard 10.0 offers more advanced tools for editing, creating and converting PDF files to other formats.

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Firefox 76 expands Lockwise password manager capabilities

Mozilla has released Firefox 76.0 for Windows, macOS and Linux, the latest in its long line of major updates to the venerable open source browser.

The chief focus in this new release is the further development of Mozilla’s Lockwise password manager. Users gain several enhancements including alerts of website breaches with prompts to update all online accounts that share the same password.

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Wunderlist is (almost) dead, long live Zenkit To Do!

The end of Wunderlist is nigh: from tomorrow, Microsoft will finally kill the brilliant task-management app in favor of its own Microsoft To Do application, which while introducing many of Wunderlist’s features has retained a distinct identity of its own.

If you’ve tried To Do and not liked it, then here’s the good news: you don’t need to put up with Microsoft’s replacement. Thanks to the good folks at Zenkit, an app exists that succeeds in retaining the Wunderlist look, feel and core feature set. That app is Zenkit To Do, and if you’re quick, you can transfer your data directly to it from Wunderlist.

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Vivaldi 3.0 for desktop unveils new tracker and ad protections, Vivaldi for Android officially launches

It’s a day of double celebration for fans of the Vivaldi web browser. Not only does Vivaldi 3.0 get released for Windows, Mac and Linux, but the company -- led by Opera co-founder Jon S von Tetzchner -- unveils the first stable release of Vivaldi for Android.

Both releases come with a brand new feature in the guise of built-in ad and tracker blockers. The desktop release also unveils a new clock for its status bar, plus improvements to its pop-out video feature.

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