(updated 11/26/2012)

Files available for download...

Categories are: Windows updates, third-party software, a brief file list...


Windows updates...

It is difficult indeed to keep up with the trends and practices in the world of personal computers we live in today. Most PC users tend to "live on the surface" when it comes to the business of how their computers work and are kept working. They don't know (and don't want to know) what's inside their computer or what makes it run - they just want it to run (and run flawlessly) anytime and everytime it is turned on.

While running flawlessly may be the future of personal computing, it certainly isn't the present - mostly because the PC world just won't stand still long enough to fix what exists out there already. We are continually forced forward to get the error-free running and full functionality we are told exists - in complete simplicity - with the next new purchase or upgrade. Create websites on your PC? No problem. Listen to Radio Australia on your PC? No problem. Burn CD's full of MP3 files? No problem. Watch TV on your PC? No problem. Network a houseful of computers? No problem. Edit video tapes on your PC? No problem. Right?

I am sure that each of us has experienced disappointment when we have tried a high-end task for the first time. It can even be hard to accomplish a low-end task on a regular basis, like creating and printing out a letter, without having some obtuse problem jump up now and then to cause annoyance and delay. I would say that higher than 95% of all computer problems boil down to being software issues - either problematic programs that have been carelessly written or inadequately tested, or hardware "drivers" - the software that makes your computer's hardware work.

Minimally, you should have in your possession at all times : a legitimate copy of your operating system (i.e. Windows), original copies of all drivers received with any hardware you are currently using (installation files for sound cards, video cards, modems, scanners, cameras, printers, etc.), and legitimate copies of any key software you require to function on a daily basis (a software suite like Microsoft Office, graphics programs like Photoshop or Coreldraw!, game CDs, etc.). With all this software, your computer can readily be maintained with only the occasional foray onto the Internet to get necessary upgrades and help.

Owning software (having a license to use it, having the proper codes and keys, having all of the original component files on disk, having copies of any useful upgrades on disk, having all the provided documentation), gives you control over its installation and use in your particular situation. You can then also get help and support from the original software provider, which is typically not available to users of pirated software. Legally using software may not necessarily mean having to buying it, but please do buy it when you should.

What should you buy? Generally speaking, you should buy a copy of your operating system and your office software suite of choice. Purchasing your actual PC will "buy" you the drivers for its hardware, and having an Internet account gives you easy and regular access to a great number of programs of all kinds that will probably do whatever you are ever likely to want to do with your PC. Lastly, major applications (like Photoshop and Coreldraw!) and specialty programs should be bought, but - look around first for lower-cost alternatives that will give you the final output you desire.

After purchase, a typical PC can have its life extended and improved greatly by downloading Windows updates from the Internet.

Microsoft product downloads and updates.


Third-party software...

Note: all credit to the software's original authors.

Here are some useful third-party programs I have come across over the years. Some have little validity anymore, but I do have a fondness for them and occasionally I use one or two to accomplish a task. There are probably newer versions of some of these, but others have been somewhat abandoned as their authors set them aside in the wake of newer versions of Windows coming along that would necessitate re-writing. If for nothing else, it is interesting to read about what these programs could do - often their intended use has either become moot or has been superceded by new features in newer programs. Follow this link to the brief file list to see what I install on new PCs.

Most of these programs can be readily found on the Internet, perhaps in newer versions. Simply click on the hyperlink of the desired file to begin downloading. You can either save the file to your hard drive for future use, or install directly from this location. Be sure to choose an appropriate folder for the downloaded file, so you can find the file later...

Installation notes... Many new programs have extensive settings to choose from, with latent ramifications. Read through all the screens presented during an installation for warnings and options. Beware of...

Use discretion and discrimination when installing, and use STARTUP.CPL afterwards to help manage the situation.

To backup your Registry prior to an installation, click on Start > Run and enter Regedit. Pull down the File maneu and choose Export to export a copy of your current registry to somewhere you can find it, so you can import it if the new installation corrupts or comprimises your system.

If you are running Windows XP or higher, use System Restore to set a restore point prior to performing an installation. You will (hopefully) be able to return to that point if the new installation corrupts or comprimises your system.

And, of course, back up your unique data (email, address book, Internet favourites, and data files) always.


Charmap.exe

Size : 17 KB

Function : will tell you what the ALT-xxxx sequence (entered on the numeric keypad) is to get a given character from any character set on your PC. Once an unconditional part of Windows OS, this utility did not show up in a Windows ME installation, so it may soon be forgotten.

How to make use of it : place the file in your C:\WINDOWS directory if it is not already there. Make a shortcut for it, and place the shortcut in your C:\WINDOWS\START MENU folder. You can then access the program (or any other program so placed) by clicking on the START button and selecting it.

Desktop calendar

Size : 2.4 MB

Function : calendar utility

If you are looking for a simple way to make notes to yourself about pending appointments and anniversaries, this program may suit you.

See a detailed PCN description here...

Visit this site to see original information and to look for product updates.

Irfanview graphics file editor

Size : 1.3 MB

Function : Irfanview graphics file viewer and editor can be used to view, edit and print out graphics files. This is a very nice all-round graphics file manager on the order of Photoshop. Irfanview can handle all of the common editing tasks, such as cropping, rotating, re-sizing, removing red eye, along with adjusting resolution, colour and contrast. Irfanview can notably and expediently create thumbnail versions of graphics files, and greatly assist in file organization. All other versions, updates, support, etc. available at the Irfanview site. A powerful, tiny package, perhaps more valid today with so many users takgin digital pictures.

Keyfinder

Size: 266 KB

Keyfinder is a small, simple program that can retrieve the Windows license key from a PC, and also from any PC that the program is directed to by name or IP address. Keyfinder can also change the key of a cloned installation to a new legitimate key using Microsoft scripts intended for this purpose.

LyricFX

Size : 1.16 MB

This is an excellent companion program to Winamp (see below). With this program installed, Winamp will present a "visualization" option which will retrieve and display lyrics for songs playing in Winamp. More details can be found at the LyricFX web site.

While not all lyrics are findable within the databases that LyricFX searches through, there is a neat "manual search" function with which you can jump onto the Internet and do a Google search to locate lyrics, then edit the LyricFX database entries for yourself, and submit them for posting to the public.

Notes from my own observations... The song title and artist for a given MP3 file playing needs to be accurate, or the search engines have no hope of finding the song. Some hidden aspects of MP3s (meaning the ID tags that may contain information embedded in the file, like title, artist, album, release date, genre, and other comments) may cause a file to appear to be misnamed, so a tag editor (like the one in Winamp) needs to be used to correct or clear the tag content. The default backgound for the lyrics window and the colour of the text displayed are poor choices - change them to be black text on a white backgournd, 10- or 12-point.

This program takes a bit of learning to use, and it helps if you start with a good working knowledge of Winamp. Here is a screen pic of the several windows that may come into play while playing an MP3 and viewing its lyrics. Click to enlarge...

Mailwasher spam blocker

Size : 1.44 MB

MailWasher is a utility that will pre-check your email before you download it so you can block spam and other undesirable email. The program blocks known spammers and includes features to specify user preferences for deleting, bouncing and blacklisting senders. More information is available at the Mailwasher website.

The version above is quite simple and effective. Mailwasher Pro 5.0 is more recent, and can be licensed to handle more accounts. The cost, in May 2005, is $39 USD.

Note: I still use this product myself today, as of this writing, October of 2012, and I have no intention of giving it up. It is excellent. I am using version 6.3 from a few years back, and I see they are up to Mailwasher Pro 2012.

MobileMeter

Size: 41 KB

Some statistics about how a PC is running are available to programs that know where to retrieve the data. MobileMeter (by Hexmagic) can display and chart information about a PC, including the CPU's operating frequency, the CPU temperature, and the hard drive temperature.

In a laptop PC, running on battery, MobileMeter can display and chart the discharge rate of the battery, and information about the battery's age and remaining capacity.

Right-click on the initial display to be offered the many options of this little program.

MP3trim.exe

Size : 194 KB

Function : Since many MP3s have been carelessly created, this program can fix their most common problems - by removing leading and trailing silence, normalizing volume levels, adding fades in and out, and editing tags.

Visit MP3 TRIM's website for more details...

Multi rename.exe

Size : 285 KB

Function : Managing files of your own creation can be a significant task. A good technique is to use keywords and numbers, while keeping files of the same group or type in individually-created folders. For example, photos of your pet could be kept in a folder named after the pet, with each image of the pet being named and numbered in sequence i.e. pet 001 - description, pet 002 - description, pet 003 - description, etc. Files thus named can easily be sorted, grouped and copied.

A utility that can simplify the naming process is Multi Rename. It is an add-on feature for the file manager Explorer. With the program installed, highlighting a group of files and right-clicking on them will give you the option to "multi-rename" them. The program will handle the sequencing and naming issues for you, to save you manually changing them one by one.

Download the file, double-click it to unzip it, then run the MRSETUP.EXE file to install it.

Nokia_monitor_test.exe

Size : 578 KB

Nokia is a monitor manufacturer. A small utility of theirs is this monitor test program. The numerous patterns it provides can be used to check CRTs for clarity and focus, geometry and alignment. It's help text explains a number of terms pertaining to monitors.

Another significant use for this program is to test an LCD screen for bad pixels. The program can generate a series of screens full of the five colours you need to see to be sure that no pixels are stuck on or off. (The coloures are red, green, blue, white and black.)

Screen pic for Nokia's monitor test program

Ne.com

Size : 29 KB

Function : Norton Editor is a very early raw text editor. It will still work in DOS or in any version of Windows that supports DOS-based programs. Conveniently, it has a DOS access port so those who have moved on to Windows ME (or higher) can still get to DOS when Windows is running. Having knowledge of filename limitations in DOS is key - 8 letters maximum, and files with longer file names being abbreviated like this : Smith and Jones.txt becomes smitha~1.txt while Smith and Smith.txt in the same directory becomes smitha~2.txt.

How to make use of it : Run this program as you would any other DOS program. It is a quite powerful little text editor, with many useful features, especially the find-and-replace function. All key functions are described in help screens available through the F1 key. (Use F3 to quit or exit, saved or not.) No guarantee that it will continue to work in future releases of Windows, or that it will work without harm.

Pop_up_stopper.exe

Size : 469 KB

Function : Scripts active behind the scenes when Internet Explorer is running can pop up new Internet Explorer windows with commercials and other information not asked for. Pop-up stopper will stop these windows from popping up. Now, there are times when a pop-up window is called for legitimately by a website you are viewing, so pop-up stopper can be toggled on and off as needed. Visit the Panicware website for more info, and to check for newer versions fo this software. Another product of interest in this vein is Naviscope's Internet ad blocker.

ProduKey

Size: 34 KB or 92 KB

ProduKey, by Nirsoft, can be used by an enterprise manager to reveal software keys and service pack information on any computer that can be reached in a local network or by IP address. Two versions, 32-bit and 64-bit, with a readme.txt file and a help.chm file with each. I would strongly suggest persons interested go to Nirsoft's website for updated versions and other worthwhile utilities, and to learn more about appropriate use of these programs.

Related: NetPass reveals login passwords, only after a user has logged in at the administrator level.

Related: Mail PassView reveals email passwords for POP3 and other email account types like Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail (under certain circumstances).

Other software by Nirsoft can also reveal the passwords for many other password-protected programs and devices.

RealVNC.exe

Size : 563 KB

Function : RealVNC is a nice little program that permits remote control and remote access of PCs through a network or over the Internet. A PC can be used remotely (serve) and can be used to control remotely (view). While a PC is being remotely controlled, a local user can see what is going on and can interact also. This is a good tool for remotely tutoring or performing modifications and repairs on a PC that do not involve the network connection itself.

Setup involves an understanding of IP addresses and, if a router is involved, in permitting access via network ports.

realvnc_4.exe is a newer version.

Startup CPL

Size : 72 KB

Function : A simple way to access the registry entries that cause programs to start when Windows is started, this utility creates an icon in the Control Panel (hence CPL) and gives you direct access to the entries of interest. Options include toggling off programs for debugging purposes, and deleting startup entries temporarily or permanently. Instructions for installion and descriptions of its use can be found at the author's website mlin.net. The program is free, but payment can be made if the utility is found to be useful.

USBview.exe...

Size : 119 KB

This utility can give you details on the products you have attached to your USB ports. Useful for debugging, you can see if all of you ports are working, and what Windows believes is attached to them. Download, then double-click to run.

Wake Up! alarm

Size : 2.296 MB

Function : a small program that runs in the background. The free version can sound an alarm based on an alarm time you set. The full version can handle multiple alarms. Visit E.J. Innovations website for more details.

Web Eraser

Size : 4.178 MB

Function : this program can be used to clean temp files, cookies, cache, history, MRUs, the clipboard, the recycle bin, and other areas in which temporary or "sessional" files or settings are created and not needed later.

Warning: there is a somewhat hidden tagalong that you should not install. Watch for it during installation - choose "No Thanks". Also, modern virus detection programs treat the installer as malware, but it is really the tagalong that causes this.

As a housekeeping tool, it is a great tidier. As a security tool, it can prevent an unauthorized person from accessing personal information. As a virus preventer, the removal of temp files is always important.

This program works with current versions of Windows, and with all of the major browsers. There are many options that can be personalized - such as when to clean, what to clean, and how well to clean. A U.S. government standard for "shredding" electronic data (DOD 5220.20-M) can be applied such that "your file data is gone forever and cannot be recovered".

One feature of this product is a preview of what it is set to delete. This helps reduce the risk of accidental deletion of important files while you learn what the program can do.

This version works with Vista and Windows 7, but was intended for Windows XP. There may be areas in Windows 7 that this program is unaware of, hence relability may be reduced.

Winamp 2.90

Size : 2.26 MB

Function : An exceptional MP3 player, Winamp has gone through several versions, with 2.xx being preferred as the best balance of simplicity of operation and functionality. Winamp is also tightly associated with shoutcast.com, an excellent Internet radio facilitator.

Newer versions tout many more features, including ripping CDs and playing videos. For the latest free version Winamp version 5.21, (5.5 MB, current as of 05/01/06) click on this link. All other versions, updates, support, etc. are available at the Winamp site. The basic versions are free, but buying this product has benefits. To learn more, visit their site.

For an interesting twist, a plug-in for Winamp can display the lyrics of songs being played. To learn more about LyricFX, see above...

Windows Backup

Size : 774 KB

Function : This installation program is used to install Windows Backup for Windows XP Home. The file can also be found on the original Windows XP Home CD. This file may also work with other versions of Windows.

To see what Windows Backup is all about, visit this page...

Winexit.scr

Size : 13 KB

This screensaver has some interesting features in that it can log a computer off automatically if the user is inactive.

After downloading, right-click on the file to install it. To use it, look in amongst the other screensavers, select and apply it. The screen above shows some of the options that are invoked after the selected period of inactivity.

Winzip 8.1

Size : 1.8 MB

Function : Winzip is a file compression utility. Winzip can be used to "zip up" files for transport or storage. Zipped files take up less space and can reduce transmission times (files sent via email) dramatically. Certain files that will not transfer readily, can be made to do so if zipped up. Entire folders of files can be zipped up together, simplifying storage and transmission also.

All other versions, updates, support, etc. available at the Winzip site.


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