Tag Archives: free software

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 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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Can’t afford an iPad mini? The Nook HD is now just $129!

nookWhen Barnes & Nobel opened the Nook HD to 700,000 apps in the Google play store this tablet became a serious contender.  Now the price has dropped to only $129 can you afford not to buy one of these?

In May, Barnes & Noble rolled out a software update that allows Nook HD and HD+ users to use Google’s standard Android apps and buy new software and content from the Google Play store, opening the door to over 700,000 apps.  This turned a great piece of hardware that had been needlessly hobbled into a potential iPad killer.

But now B&N have decided to get out of the tablet market and are selling off their inventory at prices that are ridiculously cheap even for cheap tablets.  The 7-inch Nook HD, previously $199, is now just $129; the 9-inch Nook HD+ has plummeted from $269 to $149.

These are great tablets that, according to CNET, beat out the Kindle Fire tablet even before the price drop.  Now, at almost 1/3rd the cost of the similarly sized iPad mini, it’s practically giving them away.

Let’s look at the main points:

  • Higher resolution screen than both the iPad mini and the Kindle Fire – by a considerable margin
  • Access to over 700,000 apps in the Google Play store (the Kindle accesses the store but limits the choice)
  • The only tablet with an expansion slot, allowing you to expand the memory by up to 32gb for just a few dollars
  • Excellent hardware at knock off prices
  • The option to install the latest version of Android  by simply plugging in a micro SD card (such as one from N2Acards) without invalidating your warranty

Unless you like being locked into the Apple walled garden, or are an Amazon Prime member, then I can’t see any reason not to head over to the B&N store and pick up one of these things.

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Google Cloud Connect : The Free and Easy Alternative to SharePoint

Houldsworth's Random Ramblings

Unfortunately Google Cloud Connect has been shut down as of Aprils 30th 2013.  For more information and steps that should be taken if you already have this installed please visit this link:  http://googleappsupdates.blogspot.com/2013/05/cloud-connect-shut-down.html


MicrosoftSharePoint is a great collaboration tool but is far too complex for most small businesses and home users.   Fortunately the folks at Google have provided an answer that is both simple to use and totally FREE!   Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office .

Recognizing that 95% of the time Microsoft SharePoint is nothing more than a place to store and share documents Google has provided a way to merge that functionality very neatly into Google Docs .

Google Cloud Connect not only backs up your work to the cloud but also adds true collaboration to Microsoft Office, allowing others to simultaneously edit your documents while changes are automatically synchronized across computers. Finally everyone…

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Virus Protect your PC with Linux (Dual-boot)

Houldsworth's Random Ramblings


Summary

Difficulty Rating

Time to complete

Install Linux alongside Windows to provide additional virus protection  and access your data if Windows becomes inoperable

 

Less than 1 Hour


InstallingLinux alongside Windows provides a number of benefits, even to novice users. Benefits to installing Linux alongside Windows (a practice known as dual-boot) include:

  1. The ability to run virus scanning software from outside of Windows – more on that later.
  2. Should the Windows system become unusable for any reason you can still boot into Linux to access and backup your files before any drastic action is taken with the Windows partition.
  3. If all you are doing is browsing the web then Linux will boot faster and be significantly more secure that Windows.

Note: The instructions below enable you to set up your machine as a dual boot device.  However if the unthinkable has already happened and your Windows PC is already…

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Free Anti-Virus – The Best Way to Protect Your PC

Houldsworth's Random Ramblings

SummaryDifficulty RatingTime to complete
Replacing your existing Anti-virus with a free alternative. 20-30 minutes

As I mentioned in my last post, the first question I ask is whether people have a backup.   The second question ask is whether they have up-to-date anti-virus software installed.

A shocking number of people fall into the group of having anti-virus software that hasn’t been updated since their trial period ended, and yet still believe they are protected.

Let me make this clear – if your subscription has expired then you are NOT protected.

But who can blame them?  Anti-virus software is expensive, isn’t it?

If you go with what arrived on your PC then, yes, it is expensive.  PC manufacturers make extra money by including software (known collectively as Bloatware) because vendors pay them.  Norton and McAfee fully expect you to sign up when the trial period runs out…

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Microsoft Office for FREE!

Houldsworth's Random Ramblings

SummaryDifficulty RatingTime to complete
Install LibreOffice as a fully functional office suite that is Microsoft Office compatible. 5 – 20 minutes.
OK…that headline isn’t 100% true.  But I hate seeing people spend money on software they don’t need.
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Lately I have run into several people with Macs (or older versions of Office) who find themselves unable to open files from the School / PTO / Local Charity, etc.  because the files were created in Word or Excel.
Like it or not MS-Office is a standard today that cannot be ignored even if you do “think different“.
But before you blow over a hundred bucks on the latest version of  MS-Office I’m going to ask that you give LibreOffice a shot.

LibreOffice is a complete Office suite that is fully compatible with all versions of Microsoft Office.  And since it is open source…

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