Posts Tagged 'application'

How Non-Coders Can Build An App

According to LifeHacker –

There was a time when creating your own website, starting your own online store, or launching your own app would have required either advanced coding skills or enough money to hire someone with said skills. These days, though, enough companies have tools and business that make the process as speedy as an hour in some cases, and at minimal cost.

Continue reading HERE.

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My Opinion – The Future of Freeware

FFR-WP-logomy-op1No review this time. Today, I’m presenting my opinion on how to improve the Windows freeware industry. I’m not a developer, just a user. In short, I propose saving the freeware business by destroying it ; charge a small amount ($.99 or $1.99), rather than giving it away. This is a successful model for phone apps and I believe that it could work for Windows software.

Why is this necessary?  Users love free stuff, but freeware developers need to be paid. In recent years, these two opposing positions have been satisfied by loading more and more crap into otherwise decent software. Users must tiptoe through a virtual minefield of “special offers” and spyware toolbars to install a simple utility. It is now common to see 2 or 3 pieces of crapware in the typical installer.

My solution – Remove all the garbage from the installers, offer the software with a short trial period and then charge a small license fee. Another possible solution could be subscriptions. When developers feel their work is worth more than $.99, charging $.99 per year may work. When the application is worthy, users are willing to pay a reasonable amount annually. Developers wanting the income stream to continue, will continue to improve the software. Everyone wins. Users get better software and developers get paid.

Will this happen? I doubt it. But, I want the developers to consider getting paid by their users, not the crapware marketers and being able to continue development on quality applications. This makes sense to me, but toolbars are so much easier.

If you have an opinion on the matter, or just think I’m full of it, you can leave a comment below.

Dan Kostecki

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

XnSketch – FreeFile Review

FFR-WP-logoxnsketch-logoXnSketch is a program that turns any photo into a drawing; producing a work of art that requires no talent – just a click or two. Previously, I reviewed a similar program, FotoSketcher, and will use it as a benchmark for XnSketch. Both programs offer about 20 presets that work very well without additional tweaks. XnSketch’s adjustments are basic photo-type adjustments (brightness, contrast, saturation), but FotoSketcher has adjustments for the way that the preset effects are applied. That makes  FotoSketcher more versatile and more complicated to use. Both programs have attractive, fairly simple interfaces, but most will find XnSketch easier to navigate.

What’s good – XnSketch is dead simple – just select the style of drawing and save. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Presets such as halftone and “Obama Hope poster” are not available in FotoSketcher.

What’s bad – XnSketch lacks any adjutments to the drawing parameters. It feels poorly written or unfinished (labels on halftone presets are misspelled “Haltfone”). Finally, the ‘Save’ function is a bit wonky – it defaults to a 512 pixel size and will not automatically append the correct file extension onto the saved file. The saved dimension can be changed by clicking the down arrow next to the ‘Save’ icon and choosing ‘Original’ before saving.

– – – – The Bottom Line – – – –

Despite its problems, XnSketch is an excellent solution for someone wanting to create a drawing as easily as is possible. It produces quality drawings quickly, simply. Those wanting more control over their drawings will prefer FotoSketcher.

Download XnSketch HERE

Download FotoSketcher HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at Dan Kostecki.com

FreeFile Review – Invisible Utilities

What is an invisible utility? My definition is a Windows application that is completely unobtrusive; transparent to the user, when not needed, but is quickly available via the context menu (right click) when needed. And most importantly, it must provide something that Windows does not. this review will cover three such utilities that I have used for several years –  Eraser – 7-Zip – Unlocker.

Eraser will securely delete any file on your PC. Normally when a file is deleted, it still exists on your hard drive. To truly remove a file, it must be overwritten – that is what Eraser does. Once installed, several Preferences can be set by the user. The most important setting is for the number of times a file will be overwritten – 1, 3, 7 or 35 times. I choose 3x – for speed – and I also disable Scheduled Tasks. To use Eraser, simply right-click on a file and select ‘Erase’, click ‘Yes’ and the file is permanently gone. The contents of the Recycle Bin can be erased also. Right-clicking the Recycle Bin icon gives a list of erasing options.

7-Zip is for opening archive files – about 25 different formats. Windows will open .zip files, but no other archive types. 7-Zip will open .rar, .iso and many others. To use, right-click on an archive file and select ‘7-Zip’ and then ‘Extract files’ (or ‘Extract Here’), click ‘OK’ and 7-Zip does its thing. Most users will not need this application often, but it is handy to have on your computer. 7-Zip is available in 32 bit and 64 bit versions.

Unlocker is a lifesaver when Windows refuses to let you do anything to a file because some program has control of the file. To use, right-click on the locked file and select ‘Unlocker’. In the Unlocker window, select the locked file and click the ‘Unlock’ button. Usually, this does the trick. If the file is still locked, try the ‘Kill Process’ button. It can be difficult to find a download link for Unlocker – here is a good one. Be aware that Unlocker is available in 32 bit and 64 bit versions.

– – – – The Bottom Line – – – –

All three of these utilities are simple to use and effective. They have been part of my Windows PCs for years and I appreciate them on the rare occasions when they are needed. While many similar programs exist, I find these three to be solid performers.

Download Eraser

Download 7-Zip

Download Unlocker

Visit DanKostecki.com for more FreeFile Reviews

 

FreeFile Review – PixBuilder Studio

I just recently became aware of PixBuilder Studio. This free image editor is similar to Paint.Net, which I reviewed earlier this year – both are quite capable, but with a few differences.

Installation offers the options of a full install or a portable install (very nice). I chose the portable install on Windows 7 and had no issues. PixBuilder Studio is for Windows only. The user interface is very clean and modern and it can be customized to one’s tastes.

Most of PixBuilder Studio’s image adjustments (brightness, contrast, color controls, etc.) are found under the Colors menu on the toolbar. All of these controls perform quite well as do the limited drawing tools. I was surprised to find a Healing Brush Tool, but I found its performance subpar. The Clone Stamp Tool performs much better. Text is edited in a seperate window – my preference is for inline editing – however, in this case, the text editing is well done. My favorite feature is the Zoom Panel. It offers the easiest way to zoom in and out of the workspace that I have seen. This feature should be included in all image editors. Another surprise is the icon editor that is built into the program. Finally, the program performs quickly and reliably.

The only big negative that I found was the few filters and effects included with PixBuilder Studio. It is possible to install Photoshop filters, but few users will go through the involved process to enable them. Hopefully, this will be resolved in a future version.

– – The Bottom Line – –

I was pleasantly surprised by this well done piece of software. Anyone needing a basic photo editor will be very satisfied with PixBuilder Studio. The icon editing functions really make PixBuilder Studio stand out from the crowd. Try it for yourself.

Download PixBuilder Studio HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

FreeFile Review – LibreOffice

What is LibreOffice? For years, the number one free alternative to Microsoft Office was OpenOffice.  About a year ago, the OpenOffice developers left that project and used OpenOffice source code to launch LibreOffice. If you’ve used OpenOffice in the past, LibreOffice will be quite familiar. The entire LibreOffice suite is completely free and it is a fairly large download (about 200MB). It consists of a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a database, a PowerPoint replacement, a drawing application and a math program. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. This review is primarily about the word processor and spreadsheet applications, since these are all that most people will ever use.

Installation is relatively pain free, however, Java may, or may not need to be installed. Once installed, a single icon provides access to all of the programs in the suite through a simple ‘start center’. User Interfaces are similar for all the programs. They are attractive, but quite busy, due to the incredible amount of features and options offered. It is very much like Microsoft Office before the ribbon interface.

Writer, the word processor, is a very capable, full-featured program. It can open and save Microsoft .DOC documents. The default save option is for the LibreOffice format. Most will want to change the default to .DOC through Tools > Options. Also, it can save as a PDF. I haven’t noticed any compatibility issues with documents created in Word. Writer is all the word processor that most people will need.

Calc is the spreadsheet application of the suite. It looks very much like Excel and it can open and save to various Microsoft formats. I did notice some minor formatting inconsistencies with documents that were created in Excel – not a major problem – just irritating. I think everyone, except hardcore Excel users, will be pleased with Calc.

– – The Bottom Line – –

LibreOffice is a very capable alternative to the pricey Microsoft Office. Most people will have no need for Microsoft Office after trying LibreOffice. The only negative that I could find is that the abundance of features and options can confuse some users (just as Microsoft Office will). If you need an office suite, download LibreOffice today.

Download LibreOffice HERE

Get more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com


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