Category Archives: Free Software

Google Gives Real Time Analytics to iPhone Users

In case you missed it, Google released Google Analytics for iPhone last week. It comes a year after it was originally released for Android devices. The Real Time analytics is the best feature for website owners who can now get-a-glance of their information right from their pocket.

For the full story click here:  Google Gives Real Time Analytics to iPhone Users | LevelTen Dallas, TX.

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Ubuntu bootable USB stick saves the day!!

logo-ubuntuOn safari in Uganda my brother and I found ourselves on a photo and video binge that left our devices wanting.  Cameras, camcorders and smart phones were all quickly filled and, with more than a week to go, we needed more storage.

My brother had brought along an old Windows laptop for when this happened and we backed everything up to that before clearing down ready for the next day.  This machine was now the sole repository for several hundred “once in a lifetime” photos and videos.

Potholes? You don’t know what they mean until you’ve visited Kampala

Unfortunately Ugandan roads are anything but smooth and after a couple of days bouncing around in the back of the van we discovered to our horror that booting the PC gave us nothing but the blue screen of death!  My brother is a great photographer but isn’t especially knowledgeable about computers and, while I could tell he was trying to stay calm, his repeated question about whether those pictures could be salvaged betrayed his concern.

As luck would have it I had a copy of Ubuntu on a thumb drive with me.  I had brought this along to salvage an old laptop for a friend and this turned out to be just what we needed.  Within minutes we had the PC up and running by booting from the thumb drive and I was able to easily figure that the hard drive on the laptop was  failing, but it wasn’t dead yet.  Much to my brother’s relief I was able to bring up the pictures we had backed up.

nookNow we needed another place to put the pictures before the drive gave up the ghost for good.  Here I just plugged in my Nook HD with its 32gb micro SD card and it was an easy job to copy the pictures across to the card.  Job done!

Once again Ubuntu saves the day, and it somehow seems fitting that it should rescue us in Africa.

Considering how little space a thumb drive with Ubuntu on it is I’m actually now thinking of making that a standard part of my packing list.

Ubuntu…don’t leave home without it!

via How to create a bootable USB stick on Windows | Ubuntu.

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New additions to the Cool Free Software page

Today I added a few additions to my Cool Free Software page.  Each of them is powerful, easy to use, and of course free.

First up is AVGO Free DVD Ripper which easily rips DVD to AVI, MP4, MKV, H264, iOS and Android.   I’ve been using this to rip DVDs for my Nook HD and these little babies have turned my bus commute into New York into something that I almost wish were longer.  It might not be the fastest, but it certainly is the most consistent.  So far I haven’t found a DVD it couldn’t rip.

Next is Handbrake, a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs.  I was really a bit late to the party with this one as many people I know have used this for some time.  When I started watching movies on the bus I had a selection of older movies already on my PC but not in a format compatible with my Android tablet.  No worries.  I downloaded this little puppy, selected a suitable output option and was fixed up in no time.
Have a lot of files to convert?  No problem, it has a batch mode so you can leave it running all night.

dupes

Finally we have Auslogics Duplicate File Finder.  You know how it is.  You copy files around, make backups, move things and suddenly your find yourself running out of disk space and you have no idea why.  This great little tool scans your PC and locates file duplicates.  What makes this special is that it doesn’t just do it based on the file names as some do, this tool actually compares the file contents to guarantee that the files are the same.  I won’t tell you how much space this recovered for me because it’s embarrassing.

Give these tools a try.  I’m sure you’ll find them as useful as I have.

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Your New PC Needs These 22 Free Programs CIO.com

opensource-logoSome great advice and software from CIO.com.  Many of these I use already, some were new to me and will be explored over the weekend.

Wish I had known about Ninite before I set up the new PC!

via Your New PC Needs These 22 Free Programs CIO.com.

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Moving to a new PC? Here’s how to list installed programs

You can easily create a list of all the programs you have installed on your PC in a text file.

Why do this? Well, if you’re upgrading your operating system, or you’re buying a new PC, it’s very handy to have a list the programs you installed on this one. It’s really easy to forget about the ‘little helpers’ you use every day.

I had looked for a program to do just this for some time only to find that I had it right under my nose as a function in Piriform‘s ccleaner application.

Prirform has been one of the companies that consistently make my best free software lists with their excellent ccleaner, defraggler and Recuva applications.  Here’s just another reason to love these folks.

Read the full instructions at Piriform – How to list installed programs.

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How to Run Your Small Business With Free Open Source Software – CIO.com

opensource-logoFrom simple bookkeeping packages to full-blown ERP systems, open source software can provide free options for small businesses that don’t have the budget for big-ticket enterprise applications.  Check out this list from CIO.com

I’m a huge fan of open source software and use it when I can.  In fact I have a page dedicated to some of my favorites right here.  So I was very happy when I stumbled across this post from CIO.com which lists many free alternatives to some big-ticket software names.  

If you are considering using open source software for your business this article is a great place to start.

Check out How to Run Your Small Business With Free Open Source Software – CIO.com.

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How to Steal Passwords Saved in Google Chrome in 5 Simple Steps

passwordIf you use Chrome as your browser you should know that it’s surprisingly simple to access all of a person’s passwords saved in Google Chrome. Another surprise: Google’s well aware of this fact, and the company is not planning to do anything about it.

For the full story read : How to Steal Passwords Saved in Google Chrome in 5 Simple Steps | CIO Blogs.

This should be especially worrying considering how many people use the same password for almost all accounts, so even if you don’t use Chrome to store your bank account password you might still be showing more than you bargained for.

After reading the full article you might find yourself wanting to delete the passwords stored in Chrome or make sure that your PC is always locked when you leave it  (Windows key – L is a nice shortcut for that).  If you decided on the former then may I suggest using Lastpass as a more secure alternative to writing your passwords on post it notes.

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Do you want more advertisements?

toomuchI thought so.  But I noticed the following in the Twitter blog recently

Now, we’re set to experiment with a way to make ads on Twitter more useful to our users in the United States by displaying promoted content from brands and business they’ve shown interest in. These tailored ads are based on information, such as browser-related information (a browser cookie ID), that our ad partners share with us. Learn more in our blog post here.

While we want to make our ads more useful, we also want to give users simple and meaningful privacy options.. Simply uncheck the box next to “Promoted content” in your account settings, and Twitter will not match your account to information shared by our ad partners for tailoring ads. This is the only place you’ll need to disable this feature on Twitter.

So, they are going to start serving up ads based on content that you have shown interest in, but they give you the option to turn it off…which is nice.

Of course I would prefer if they turned it off by default but, of course, 99% of people will never change that option.  This is  a good move for them – they are the good guys because they give you the option, but the amount of ad revenue lost is small.  Smart.

Of course now that you are informed the power to limit ads is in your hands…use it wisely.

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Lock your Smartphone or Risk Losing Everything

stolen-iphoneWhen my wife’s iPhone was stolen in Paris I was very happy that we had the ability to remotely lock and wipe it. But the fact that it wasn’t locked with PIN had me frantically changing email and bank account passwords at 5 in the morning.

Why the worry?

Most smartphones receive your email without the need to enter a password.  They also receive bank, PayPal and credit card statements and are used by these institutions as a place to confirm a password reset.  This information can be used to access your bank account, reset your password and, once that has happened you can kiss your money good bye.

And phone theft is on a steep climb.  In New York City, cellphone thefts make up more than half of all street crime, with iPhones being the most popular item.  In fact Infoworld has produced an interesting interactive map showing where cell phones are stolen in San Francisco which you can see here.

My early morning panic could have been significantly reduced with a simple PIN added to the phone.

pinI know having to enter a PIN is a pain but you don’t have to set it up to ask for the PIN every time – every 15 minutes is plenty.  That’s because the first thing most thieves do is to power down your phone so that you can’t track them.  When a phone is powered up again the PIN is requested even if it was last entered just a few minutes ago.

Other things you can do to keep your data safe include if your phone gets stolen include:

  • Don’t store a list of passwords, PINs or personally identifying information on your phone.  If you must (and let’s face it, it’s too tempting not to) then use an app that asks for a master password.
  • Set up the phone so that you can find, lock and wipe your phone remotely.  For the iPhone use the Find my iPhone service available through iCloud.  I found a similar one on the Google Play store called Where’s my Droid but haven’t used it myself.
  • Back up all of your data to a PC or the cloud.  I was able to have my wife’s new phone up and running in minutes with everything just as it was before she left because we had this.

If you’ve taken the right steps to protect yourself, losing your phone will be just an annoyance. But if you’ve failed to safeguard your phone with a password, backing up all your data and installing a program that can wipe the phones data remotely, you are setting yourself up for a seriously traumatic event.

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Filed under Free Software, Online Security, Technology, Web Design