Archive for the 'Free File Review' Category

Windows95 As An App – FreeFile Review

This is not a normal FreeFile Review. I like to present useful software, but this review is for a program that has no useful function. I’m not even sure of what to call it. On its GitHub page, it is referred to as “Windows95” and “Windows95 in Electron”. I’ll just call it “Windows95 as an app”. Whatever you call it, Windows95 as an app is simply Windows95 operating system running in a virtual machine.

What’s Good – It is a trip back to a simpler time for nerds. It is available as a standalone app, so nothing gets installed to your pc – just download and run. It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is well sandboxed, so no harm can be done to your computer.

What’s Bad – It is well sandboxed, so it cannot connect to the internet. However, nobody should be surfing the internet with a 22 year old version of Internet Explorer 3. Just like Window95 of 20 years ago, it is not exactly stable. It will often freeze up, requiring a restart of the virtual machine.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —
No real work can be done with this app, but if you are nostalgic for old software and old computers, there is no easier way to go back 20 years.
Download Windows95 as an app HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews on DanKostecki.com

Icon Explorer – FreeFile Review

Icon Explorer is a program that enables the viewing, extraction, and saving of icons from programs(EXE and DLL) and from icon libraries (ICL). The program is for Windows only. It is portable; it requires no installation; just unzip and click to run.

To extract icons, navigate to the EXE or DLL within the Icon Explorer’s included Explorer panel. When all the icons contained in the EXE or DLL appear in Icon Explorer’s main window, you can save one or all icons by right-clicking. The icons can be saved as individual icons or as icon libraries.

What’s Good – The simplicity of the program. It has only a few settings to adjust (I found the defaults to be good), and an icon in the upper-right corner to choose one of five nice looking themes. The program does its job with a minimum of effort.

What’s Bad – I found nothing negative.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

Obviously, Icon Explorer is a program that is used infrequently, even by power users, so the simplicity of it is clearly a good thing. Users who love tweaking their Windows PCs will be happy with Icon Explorer. Casual users can skip this program.

Download Icon Explorer HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

Pic View – FreeFile Review

Pic View is “a simple picture viewer and manipulator”, from Alternate Tools, not to be confused with PicView, which is an iPhone app. Alternate Pic View performs basic photo editing functions with a few additional tools thrown in. It is Windows only and a portable version is available.

The Good – The interface is clean and easy to navigate. All of the image adjustments (color, brightness, contrast, etc.) work well, as do the image filters. It includes simple shape and text tools. It can batch convert images into 13 different formats, run a slideshow of a folder of images, and generate a QR code.
The Bad – This is a limited program. The image adjustments are basic. Very little can be done to customize the interface.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

I find this program too limited for my workflow, so I can’t recommend it. However, I found the QR Code Generator to be an interesting addition, which is available from Alternate Tools as a stand alone application.

Download the QR Code Generator HERE

Download Pic View HERE

Read more reviews at DanKostecki.com.

Annotation With iPhotoDraw – FreeFile Review

iPhotoDraw is a free program for making annotations on images. The images can be existing images on your pc or screen captures from iPhotoDraw’s own screen capture function. The interface is attractive and well organized. iPhotoDraw is for Windows only.

The Good – Some might consider iPhotoDraw a one trick pony, but it feels very full-featured. For annotations, a good selection of simple shapes and lines are available, and can be adjusted in numerous ways. Drop shadows and outer glows can be added. The built-in screen capture is handy. Simple image adjustments are also included under the ‘Image’ menu.

The Bad – The only thing that I found confusing was saving. If you want to save a screen capture, just use ‘Save As’ – no problem. However, after making annotations, ‘Save As’ will only save the background image, not the annotations. To save the image with the annotations you must use ‘Export’. Not a problem, once you understand the process.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

Everyone occasionally needs to make a screen grab and add annotations to it. iPhotoDraw is the ideal solution to create a good looking screen capture with a minimum of fuss. This free program is definitely a keeper.

Download iPhotoDraw HERE

Read more FreeFiles at DanKostecki.com

 

DocPad – FreeFile Review

Text editors are supposed to do one thing – edit plain text, but DocPad is a text editor that includes many useful tools, such as Spellcheck, Calendar, and a Macro Recorder. The default user interface is a colorful, slightly dated Windows Xp look. The interface has an incredible number of user adjustable options; however, simply changing the skin to one of the less colorful options (Understated or Old School) helps greatly. DocPad is Windows only.

The Good – So many useful tools are included, it’s difficult to decide which ones deserve a mention. My favorites are Spellcheck and Character Map. There are also Search & Replace, a simple Calendar, a Calculator, one-click access to Change Text Case, and a Statistics panel. The program also offers access to many Windows tools through the ‘Interface’ menu. Most of the tools and options are available via right-click as well as on the toolbar and menu. User adjustments are available for most aspects of the interface. 100 levels of undo.

The Bad – I found no real issues with DocPad. Minor annoyances include the default interface needing an update from the dated Xp look. The Spellcheck requires an additional download and installation (definitely well worth it). Being a text editor, it opens and outputs only plain text.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

I really like DocPad. It has replaced Notepad on my PC, but I’m still trying to get used to my text editor not being a stripped down, one-trick pony. If you’re a Notepad user, DocPad will be a great upgrade.

Download DocPad HERE

Get the eBook FreeFile Reviews at Amazon

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

 

FreeFile Reviews Ebook Just Released

I’ve collected all of the FreeFile Reviews into an ebook. It contains over 50 reviews, dating back to 2009. Nearly half of them have just recently been updated.

It is available at Amazon.

For only $ 0.99, or free, if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Get your copy HERE.

Control Panel Replacement – FreeFile Review

neupanel-logo1

nuePanel is an application that attempts to organize many of the settings available in Windows. The sheer number of tools, Control Panel apps, and settings in Windows make that a daunting task, but neuPanel does a very good job of cutting through the clutter.

The Good – It appears that every possible Windows setting is available. The interface is simple, with rows of buttons in the main window and tabs across the top. The buttons are in alphabetical order, which speeds up finding things. ‘God Mode’ is available as ‘Control Panel (God Mode)’ under the ‘Troubleshooting’ tab.

The Bad – A few of the command buttons don’t work (they report ‘cannot find the file specified’). Finding what you want can still take a little time, due to the quantity of buttons available.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

I’ve found neuPanel to be a timesaver. It provides one location to find the setting you need. This gets more valuable as Microsoft hides more and more settings. Most Windows users should find neuPanel useful.

Download neuPanel HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

XnRetro – FreeFile Review

xnretro-logo

XnRetro is a quirky little image editor, that I must admit I enjoy using. It seems to be a smart phone filter app that also has a desktop version. On mobile, it is available on Android and iPhone; on the desktop, it is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. I’m reviewing the Windows desktop version. It required no installation, just unzip, open folder, and click XnRetro.exe to launch the program.

The Good – Clean, simple interface. The interface is pleasant enough, and organized with basic color control sliders on the right side, and filters on the bottom. Filters include Retro color presets, Light effects (think lens flare), Vignette, and Frames. Personally, I don’t care for the Retro color filters; I found the Vignette and Frames very useful.

The Bad – The color adjustments seem to be rather slow – move a slider and wait to see the results – not a long wait, but noticeable. Quirks. Quirks aren’t necessarily bugs, but merely unexpected ways of doing things. The program will open with all of the adjustments that were applied to the last image saved. Many users may find this useful, I don’t. The Reset button on the right side only resets the color adjustment sliders; the Reset button on the top tool bar resets everything. The strength of the Light effects is controlled by a slider on the right. If the slider gets adjusted to zero, the Light effects seem to do nothing. Through experimentation, I found that it could open and edit JPG, PNG, and GIF files, but save only as JPG or PNG. Saving JPG quality is a relatively low 75%. This is fine for mobile, but it should be adjustable on the desktop. A Help file would have helped, but I couldn’t find one.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

XnRetro has a number of quirks, probably due to its mobile origins. I found no real issues, and once you get used to it, XnRetro is a very nice, very useful image editor. Try it just for the Vignettes and Frames.

Download XnRetro for desktop HERE

Get XnRetro for mobile HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

AbleWord – FreeFile Review

I only recently discovered a fantastic word processor called AbleWord, and have found it a pleasant surprise. Think of AbleWord as WordPad on steroids. It is a simple word prosessor with some powerful features. It is Windows only.

The Good – The install is quick with no extra software. AbleWord has a attractive Windows XP style interface. The menus and toolbars (only 2) are sparsely populated with only the basics. AbleWord’s real power lies in the formats that it works with. It will open, edit, and save in .doc .docx .pdf .html. Compatability with MS Office formats is good. It has Spell Check, Text Find, and Word Count. Tables and images can be inserted into documents. Everything seems to work well.

The Bad – I have trouble finding anything wrong with AbleWord. One thing that I found confusing was the “Open PDF Text” command. Initially, I tried to open existing PDF files with that command, and had mixed results. Later, I found that opening PDFs with the “Open” command gave excellent results. One suggestion I have is that simple drawing tools would be a welcome addition.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

AbleWord is an excellent application that deserves much wider recognition. It is perfect for most pc users who have basic word processing needs. The PDF functionality make it a must have program.

Download AbleWord HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

Security For Windows 10 – FreeFile Review

win10-sec

This review addresses how an average user of Windows 10 can easily and effectively maintain security. These are my experiences and observations after more than a year using Windows 10, your mileage may vary.

Antivirus Protection – Many security pros feel that zero-day threats greatly reduce the effectiveness of antivirus programs. Overall, I find Windows 10 to be reasonably secure, and today, most security threats focus on internet browsers. Windows Defender is a lightweight, efficient program, pre-installed with Windows, that operates unobtrusively and effectively. It runs in the background with no user input needed and it receives frequent updates. Use Windows Defender – no additional antivirus is needed.

Browsers – Both Firefox and Chrome are good choices. The best malware blocker add-on is uBlock Origin (available for Firefox and Chrome). Keep your browser up to date and install uBlock origin and you’re good to go. Bear in mind that smart surfing is still the most important thing you can do – no app can help with that.

Malware Scanner – The free version of Malwarebytes does not provide realtime protection, but it is effective when run every week or two, or when a problem is suspected.

Disk Imaging – This is the most important piece to achieve real security. All of the previously mentioned steps can fail, so the ability to quickly recover is key. Imaging software makes an exact copy of the entire C drive, so that the entire PC can be quickly restored after disaster strikes. This will protect you from not just virus and malware attacks, but also from hardware failures and Windows issues. Ideally, the image should be stored on an external drive, so it may require spending about $50. The best free imaging software is Macrium Reflect. It is very fast and reliable.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

1.Use Windows Defender (no additional antivirus programs are needed) 2.Use Firefox or Chrome browsers, with uBlock Origin add-on 3.Get Malwarebytes 4.Consider disk imaging.

Read more FreeFile Reviews on DanKostecki.com

GFXplorer – FreeFile Review

GFX

GFXplorer is a utility that gathers information about your Windows PC along with shortcuts to many Windows tools and utilities. It is only available for Windows. The program has a clean, simple, tabbed interface. The first three tabs contain information about the software and hardware on your computer. An ‘Export’ button allows you to save all of this info as a text document. The fourth tab, ‘Tools’, is the really interesting one. It has shortcuts to 18 of Windows’ tools and utilities.

The good – The ‘Tools’ tab is what makes this application a keeper. All of these tools are built into Windows, but finding them without a program like GFXplorer can be challenging. Some of the tools, such as ‘Display color calibration’ and ‘Malware Removal Tool’, are incredibly useful ones that Microsoft has decided to hide. Having all of these tools in one location can be a great time saver. The.zip download is a stand-alone program that doesn’t require installation; just unzip and run.

The bad – I found nothing to dislike about GFXplorer, but I have two suggestions to improve it. More system information (such as Windows keys and more details about storage drives) could be displayed. Since the ‘Tools’ tab is most useful, it should be the first tab, the tab that the program opens to.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —
Every Windows user should have GFXplorer. Having all of these tools available in one location is very handy. Shortly after I installed GFXplorer, I pinned it to my Start menu. I rarely pin programs to my Start menu, so that is a very strong endorsement from me. Get it today.
Download GFXplorer HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

Photo Pos Pro – FreeFile Review

ppp

Photo Pos Pro is yet another photo editor. It has everything that is expected in a free photo editor and is only available for Windows. A paid version with a selection of more advanced tools is also offered.

— The good – Photo Pos Pro comes with plenty of tools and filters. It has all of the standard adjustments nomally available in most photo editors and many more. I like the right side palette, with the history, layers, and color palettes always visible.

— The bad – The user interface needs work. Very little customization by the user is possible. Every button and toolbar is visible by default, which creates a rather busy workspace. Unneeded tools can be hidden, but they are labeled cryptically (e.g. “CommandBarStripElement1”) in the ‘Customize’ context menu. Ugh! I don’t like the blue highlighting, used throughout the workspace, and I found no way to change it. Care needs to taken when downloading the program, as the latest version (3.0.5) can only be downloaded from Download.com, where unwanted programs are often included with downloads. I was able to download Photo Pos Pro without any ‘extras’. As with all free photo editors, the selection tools leave much to be desired. Tools not available in the free version, are not grayed-out, but instead lead to a web page where the Premium version can be purchased for $25. Ugh!

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

Photo Pos Pro has me confused. I want to recommend it because it is possibly one of the most complete free photo editors, however, too many things made me say “ugh!”. In the end, I give it a thumbs-down.

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com.


Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 696 other followers


%d bloggers like this: