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Restarting Software Gadgets in 2012

Software Gadgets hasn't been all that active in the past couple of years. I intend to change this in 2012. I will be adding limited coverage of MacOS X software. Unfortunately, I only have access to an older and somewhat hardware limited Mac. It runs OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) fine, but does not well OSX 10.7 Lion at all well, so I will be limited to software that will run on Snow Leopard. I've discovered that there is a lot of that to look at, however -- and it will all be fresh and new to me as the last time I played with a Mac it was running System 7 on a 68000 chip.

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Take Command -- the Windows Command Line on Steroids

As I mentioned in my review of JP Software's freeware Take Command Console LE in February 2010, I used to use their old 4DOS program back in the days of DOS, Windows 3.1, and Windows 9x. 4DOS was the DOS Command Line on steroids: adding many features to the fairly primitive DOS command line.

EASEUS Todo Backup Free

Full backups of your computer system are an excellent precaution as disks and entite computer systems eventually fail. Unfortunately, they are a pain in the ass to perform and often a pain in the ass to restore from when your disk or computer fails and has to be replaced. There probably isn't any software -- free or commercial -- that can make the process truly painless. The latest version (2.5) of EASEUS Todo Backup Free comes close -- and as the name implies, it's free.

Firefox EPUB Reader -- Read EPUB Books in Firefox

EPUB is a standard format for ebooks used by many programs and devices (like the Barnes & Noble NOOK). There are millions of books available in epub format -- many of them free from Google Books, Project Gutenburg, and many other locations. Until now you had to download them and read them in a special program. If you have an ebook reader, this probably is not an issue as you probably want to transfer the epub file to your ebook reader so you would have to download it. However if you are going to be reading the ebook on your computer, it would be nice to be able to read it in your browser like you can PDF files. If you use Firefox (version 3 or 4) and install the EPUBReader extension.

Vectorian Giotto -- Create Flash Animation without Coding (Now Free)

Flash Animation -- love it or hate it, chances are that you have to work with it at some point if you design or otherwise work with web sites. Programs to work with Flash beyond the "create a button' or "create a Flash ad banner" level are usually complex, require a lot of programming ability, and high priced. Thanks to Vertorian making their Vectorian Giotto program freeware in mid-April, this is no longer true.

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Streamwriter -- Easily Record Music From Internet Radio Stations

While the recoding companies would like people to think that they have to pay -- and often pay through the nose -- for music, there are still a number of ways to legally get music free via the Internet. There are thousands of Internet Radio stations for example, and it is perfectly legal (at least in the US) to record music from radio stations -- over the air or over the Internet. There are a large number of good payware programs for recording music from Internet radio stations. Most of them look better than streamWriter in the interface department, but few have useful features beyond those provided by the free streamWriter.

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OfficeTab -- Add Document Tabs to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint

Early versions of Microsoft Office used a multi-document interface. That is, if you had multiple documents open in Word, Excel, or Powerpoint you could switch between them using a tab bar within the Microsoft Office Application. Microsoft research apparently found that this confused new users who looked to their taskbar to switch between documents, so starting with Office 2003 Microsoft changed things so each document opened in a separate instance of the application and you switched between documents using the taskbar.

Dexpot -- Virtual Desktops Done Right

Dexpot is a deceptively simple virtual desktop program with many powerful features "hidden" beneath its surface for power uses. At its most basic, it creates up to twenty virtual desktops and allows you to move open programs between them and switch between desktops. This lets you, say have work projects open on one desktop, email on another, and your web browser and instant messenger programs on a third and switch between them based on what you are doing at the moment (or whether your boss is in the room).

Jumplist Extender -- Add Functions to Windows7 Jumplists

Jumplists are one of the most useful new features in the Windows 7 taskbar. Programs with well designed jumplists allow you to do all sorts of useful things by right-clicking on the taskbar button. Unfortunately, older programs do not know about jumplists and even many new programs do not take full advantage of jumplists. Jumplist Extender is a free program that allows you to add new items to a program's jumplist -- even older program that are not aware of jumplists.

AxCrypt -- File Encryption For Windows

Windows 7 Home Premium does not include file level encryption. This is limited to the more expensive (Professional and up) versions of Windows 7. While there are a number of freeware file encryption programs, I wanted one that worked as an Explorer extension for convenience and had both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. After looking around a bit, I discovered that Windows 7 and 64-bit support was still fairly rare. Fortunately, one of the better file encryption program, AxCrypt, had a beta version with Windows 7 and 64-bit support.

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by Dr. Radut