Site Update! We’re Alive! Suggestions Anyone?

Hey everyone!

Its been a while since there’s been any new posts on AppAholic, so I thought I’d give you a bit of an update as to what’s going on! Long time subscriber? Please read for ending questions.

As some of you may or may not know, I’m a university student, and I have exams coming up very soon! I have spent a lot of time over the last month with revision, getting ready for my exams, and meeting up with people from home over the Easter holiday. I have also taken some time out of the site to work on the development of a few ideas, which hopefully you will see here eventually.

Another reason for the lack of posts, is due to a lack of content ideas! Previously, I’ve normally had some idea of what the next review could be. I have a few stock ideas, but nothing really compelling like usual for me. Spotify, my last review, has proven to be one of the most successful new freeware in the market I’ve seen! I just feel its hard to match the quality!

If anyone has any ideas of freeware, I’d be more than glad to hear from you, especially if you write your own freeware, and haven’t yet got any media coverage. (Even if you have, still contact me!). Fancy yourself as a reviewer? You could write a guest article for the site. I’ll post the email address at the end of this post.

In other areas, I have also started doing more on CrossLoop, a remote computer help service. If you have any computer problems or issues, or even just questions, feel free to chat with me live here (http://crossloop.com/relequestual). I charge very little compared to other “experts” on the site. No fix, no fee, and always free estimates.

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Spotify – Like Unlimited iTunes Without Spending Money, And Legally!

2009-02-28_115721 Spotify Version Tested : 0.3.11
Compatibility : Windows XP, Vista, Mac OS X 10.4 and above, Linux (via wine)

Description : Spotify has an iTunes-like interface without the annoying slowness of iTunes. It uses an online catalogue of music, bigger than Amazon’s, with instant playback and no buffering (of course, that’s subjective, as I’m running on a University internet connection which, of course, is fairly fast!). Spotify also has a real easy sharing feature; drag and drop creates a URL tailored to point Spotify to a track, album or playlist.  Requires an internet connection, and you cant put the tracks on your MP3 player or iPod, but it sure is a hell of a lot of free music! Sorry you folks in the US, this is not currently for you. Spotify just came to the UK, so hopefully soon it will be with you!

I recently was told about Spotify via twitter about a week ago, and only looked into it about 3 days ago. I can really see this spreading like wildfire across the internet, and really cutting down illegal downloads of music. Spotify is such a simple concept, and is, in my opinion, possibly the best service for streaming music to date. It works on the same basis as radio, putting in a few 30 second adverts here and there, but hey, fair enough.

Setting up an account was easy. Visit the website, enter some information, and you’re away. Downloading the application was fast, as its only a few MB! The login window looks nice (I’m being very critical), even down to the slight drop shadow (Yeah, I like drop shadow, get over it).

Spotify only became invite free to the UK on 10th February 2009. Spotify has actually been in development since way before 2008! How it’s managed to stay hidden for so long, I’m not quite sure, but it has. I’ve only been using Spotify for a few days now, and I can’t remember the last time I found some new freeware which fitted so nicely to my ideals.

So, will track x or y be on there? Well, since the Spotify blog has updates of newly added music and labels, the answer is probably yes. Already they have EMI, Universal, Sony, Warner Music, AMG and Merlin. Those are some rather big names, especially Sony with its history of illegal DRM on music CDs and the like.

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Fences – Round Up Your Desktop Icons Like A Pro

2009-02-21_120401 Fences Version Tested : 0.96 Beta
Compatibility : Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7

Description : Sorting desktop icons used to be a pain before Fences came to light. It’s not a replacement, however more like an add-on to your desktop. It allows you to group desktop icons into “fences”, which can be moved, scrolled, and hidden with a double click on your desktop. Possible desktop icon revolution in the making!

I’ve always been a bit sceptical of anything that claims to help with desktop icons organisations. Fences however is different to what I expected. I had the idea for something practically the same as Fences, but lacked the ability to create such an application.

It’s a real simple concept, but I really see this being something that could take off. This is the second product from StarDock which I really really like, first of which being Object Dock, which I use on a daily basis. Now Fences comes along, and makes it into my favourite applications list.

Fences allows you to group your desktop icons into what is termed a fence. You can then move these fences around as you please. You can also resize the fences, and any icons which do not fit in the fence, will make the fence scrollable.

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WOSB – Recover From Hibernation Or Standby On Your Timetable

2009-01-18_195717 WOSB Version Tested : 1.7.14
Compatibility : Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista

Description : WOSB is a brilliant way to save energy or allow your computer to be turned on from hibernation or standby at pre defined times. You can furthermore set it to run a particular file, application or web page. With various timing options and a few settings, you can make WOSB standby, hibernate, shutdown log off or simply wait once the application has finished running.

I cant remember when or where I found WOSB, but I do remember, I was very impressed with it when I tested it. I didn’t expect it to work, didn’t understand how it could, but I was proved wrong.

This application wont work with every computer mind you, ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) compatible hardware is required. Exactly how you know if your hardware supports this or not, I don’t know, but I had a quick look in my motherboard’s manual, and there it was.

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Syncplicity – Cross Computer Synchronization At It’s Very Best

2008-12-29_193838 Syncplicity Version Tested : 19th December 08 release
Compatibility : Windows XP, Windows Vista

Description : File syncing application which just works, and nicely too! Up to 5GB FREE online storage and sync, with both a web based and desktop based GUI, both equally as easy to use, this application far serpasses all others of its type.

A brilliant intuitive GUI, matched with functionality and simplicity that users want, makes this app, a shining example of how all software should be developed. I was given a link to this app completely by chance a few weeks ago by a friend. We were talking about dropbox and windows live mesh (Two syncing applications I had been using up till now), and the windows one, was eating a TON of cpu. He said find an alterative. I hadn’t looked in ages, being a dropbox user. I thought dropbox was good. My WORD was I in for a surprise!

When I install a new application, the first thing I usually do, is go to the settings window, see what I can mess with. The GUI in Syncplicity is, refreshingly different. No toolbar menu drop down nonsense. One sidebar, with seemingly limited options. However I was rather surprised with the way the menu system worked and how the system tray icon menu is crafted.

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HAPPY CHRISTMAS – Free Computer Support From Me!

It’s Christmas! Soon new year too!

Happy Christmas to all the readers of AppAholic!

I’m sure today, lots of people will be getting new computers and laptops and notebooks. I have some hard disks under the tree I believe. Anyway, I’d like to give a special gift to all of you, my readers, this Christmas! Free Tech Support!

I will be offering free tech support via a service called crossloop. You will be able to chat, and even show me your screen and allow my to remote control your screen if you allow.

Link is here http://www.crossloop.com/Relequestual

I can’t say I will be on 24 7, however I will be on for quite a bit over the next few week, as I have finished my Christmas temp work. The temp work has also been the reason I haven’t made any posts lately. I have quite a few posts queued up now, so in the new year, you can expect some real awesome freeware!

So, what did everyone get for Christmas?



WOT – Get Warnings About Risky Sites From Your Browser

2008-12-08_222955 WOT Version Tested : 2008 11 11
Compatibility : Firefox and Internet Explorer

Description : Web Of Trust (WOT) is an extra layer of internet security right in your browser. Protecting you from scams, malware and spam, by shining a big red light on those sites that you could do without being on. This works by using a rating system, and uses both community submitted ratings and several lists from other trusted locations. If the site has a red rating, a big warning message will appear.

I’ve been following WOT and using it for a long time now, and I think the whole idea is brilliant. Community site ratings, becoming useful in your every day browsing. The image above shows a google search for “free screensavers”. If you currently search this on your computer, and don’t have WOT installed, there is no way of telling which sites you can trust and which you cannot. Looking at the image above, its very very clear. Most of these links are dangerous, and I bet a number of them have spyware bundled with the screen saver unsuspecting users would download.

Obviously, if this was purely integrated into google, it would be rather pointless. It is a browser plugin, and will work for all websites. Its very rare that I find a site that hasn’t got a rating of any kind, especially recently as the number of ratings has started to grow very fast. The fact that the system is partly based on community ratings raises a few questions. It does show the number of people who have rated it, which gives you a idea of the reliability of the ratings. Furthermore, you can also see the comments people made on the site, to see specifically what people have said.

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Notepad++ – A Far Superior Pad, On Steroids

2008-11-28_175825 Notepad  Version Tested : 5.0.3
Compatibility : Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X and Linux (using wine only)

Description : Notepad alternative for everyone, with tabs, syntax highlighting on loads of programming languages, split view (with scroll sync), document comparison, drag and drop, zoom, and much much more. If you do any text editing or coding, consider Notepad++ your new best friend

Notepad++ has been around for since 2003, and since then, its grown and established itself as THE free open source alternative to notepad. It’s biggest boast is syntax highlighting for many many languages, I may just devote the next paragraph to the list, as its quite extensive. Along with the syntax highlighting, there is auto completion, just like you would expect in a full software development package like visual studio. Oh and I nearly forgot, syntax folding is also a really useful feature. Finished with a method? Fold it up, just as you expect to be able to do.

Syntax highlighting and syntax folding for the following languages; C, C++, Java, C#, XML, HTML, PHP, CSS, makefile, ASCII art (.nfo), doxygen, ini file, batch file, Javascript, ASP, VB/VBS, SQL, Objective-C, RC resource file, Pascal, Perl, Python, Lua, TeX, TCL, Assembler, Ruby, Lisp, Scheme, Properties, Diff, Smalltalk, Postscript, VHDL, Ada, Caml, AutoIt, KiXtart, Matlab, Verilog, Haskell, InnoSetup, CMake and YAML. I only know about half of them, however, I’m using it for Java right now.

Since I’ve started university, We’ve been doing some hard coded java, using a text editor and some bat files. Everyone was using old fashioned windows notepad. Gradually people saw me using notepad++, asked what it was, and then downloaded it for themselves. This has had a rather big snowball effect, and now all I see is notepad++. READ MORE »



Site News – Tech Rant Is Here At Last!

2008-11-17_011448 TechRant Launch

Hi there! Big news from AppAholic!

I’d like to unveil to you, the brand new Tech site, Tech Rant.

http://techrant.appaholic.co.uk

For a while now, I’ve always found interesting stuff that isn’t freeware, and felt unable to post it on AppAholic, and so created Tech Rant, a new website with the same theme as AppAholic. Also, Id like to welcome you to some new members of the team, joining to write for Tech Rant! Right now, Tech Rant is formed of 7 geeks in total (including myself), who each have their own special area of tech. Mostly they will write articles relating to their subject, but also they will write articles about other subjects, from their point of view.

As the name suggests, there WILL be lots of RANTS. The topics chosen so far, include Software, Coding, Windows, Hardware, Linux, Mac, Money and Gadgets. Sadly one author had to leave about a month ago, and so I will be taking up the money area along with software.

It’s taken me since March this year (8 MONTHS!), to build up the back end and front end of Tech Rant. The reason for this is I wanted to get it right. Not that AppAholic isn’t right, but I could foresee lots of problems and issues with a multi author blog. I had quite a few ideas, and sometimes I’d spend days searching for the right wordpress plugin or other solution until I found it. For some of the awesome new features Tech Rant brings, keep reading!

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PPTminimizer – Shrink those PPT and DOC files (free key)

2008-11-03_230243 PPTminimizer Version Tested : 4.0
Compatibility : Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista

Description : Large doc and ppt files are a problem no more! Normal costs money, however there is a legal way to get it for free (for personal use only). With the ability to shrink power point presentations and word documents by a ridiculous amount, I give you, PPTminimizer. It can also automatically shrink files before they are sent as email attachments. Special!

One thing to say about this app. I like. Its something simple, that performs a task that we all COUILD perform, but it would take quite a while longer than the small time this app takes. In essence, this is the whole point of computers, and this app is a good idea, and apparently well used by large companies, such as Dell, IBM, Microsoft, BT, Sony, NASA, HP, Nokia, Cisco Systems…. The list goes on. Needless to say, I get the feeling this software is widely approved.

More on the features. I’m only testing the home version, but there is also a server version as well (which I shall talk about later). PPT and DOC files can be reduced up to 98%, now that’s quite a claim! As you can see from the screen shot, I found it hard to do much testing. I had a few larger files, and one online which I could download. The results were impressive. This is not compression, the original file format is kept!

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