I was browsing the Net's holiday special isles this week, looking for good software deals you can stuff in your Window stockings.
All are high quality additions to just about any Windows system.
No limits at the door....no need for a wallet.
Grab your cart!
- AVS DVD Player - (freeware) - Nice and well polished freeware DVD player...with codexs. When I had to reload my XP system this past summer, I forgot to back up my InterVideo DVD player software and the associated product key for it. Now I am having to dig through mountains of CD/DVD backup disks trying to find the original installation files. In the meantime, I found this really nice free DVD player. It seems to work well on most DVD's, though it appears the security scheme on the High School Musical DVD I wanted to watch on it the other day is hard for it to handle. If you are running any "regular" version of Vista, the embedded Windows Media Center DVD player works great.
- CDBurnerXP 4 - (freeware) - This application has been mentioned several times in the past on this blog. I think it is really easy to use and version 4 now comes without most of the bloat of Nero or other CD/DVD burning tools. The interface is polished and it burns quite fast on my systems. It does require .NET, but if you are willing to do without a few features, they do offer a "reduced CDBurnerXP runtime package" to help you work around it. Make audio CD's, data CD/DVD's, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD support, make bootable disks, burn your compilation to an ISO file, much, much more.
- InfraRecorder: Open source CD/DVD burner - (freeware) - Another great, fast, tiny (and portable) CD/DVD/ISO burning tool. Make data, audio, and mixed mode disks, supports dual-layer DVD's, erase rewritable optical disk media, record/burn ISO file images, make copies of disks, and more. It's no-frills and for most power-users, that's a good thing!
- IsoBuster 2.3 Beta - (free/$) - The link is to the 2.3 beta version via filehippo. The latest release version can be found over on the official site. The free version has limited functionality but the wacky thing is I have been using it for a long time and never figured out what I am missing. It does all I need for extracting boot-sector files from CD/DVD media boot disks, as well as extracting files from ISO disk images or making an ISO file from a CD/DVD disk. It's a very useful utility.
- DeepBurner Free 188.8.131.52 - (freeware) - This is starting to sound familiar: create and burn data disks, audio cd recording, disk-to-disk copying, build and burn ISO images, burn DVD video disks, make personalized CD/DVD photo disks, backup utility, command-line support, overburn is supported, multi-session disk support, boot disk support, wizards, and design/print covers, labels and inserts
- System Information Viewer - (freeware) - Just found this really neat information reporter tool for systems. It is similar to SIW but what SIV lacks in graphical goodness, it more than makes up in scope and speed of information return. I was amazed by the amount of system information it is able to collect and report back. SIV is designed for Windows XP, Vista, 2008, 2003, 2000 and NT4. Windows 95, 98 and Me are also supported. I can't begin to list all the system hardware points it is able to extract data from. This one is going directly on my sysadmin USB stick! It is even more helpful in that all the fields may be copy/pasted into other locations, doubly helpful for recording key system data into emails, documents, spreadsheets or other locations. Hardware component modules are updated often.
- WinAudit v2.26 - (freeware) - Another freeware pc system "auditing" program to scan and allow recording of key system information. Single, portable executable file.
- JR File Split - So how do I plan on moving Dad's 8GB+ Virtual PC virtual hard drive file to him if I don't have a NTFS formatted USB drive handy? I'm going to use JR File Split to pare it down into CD/DVD sized chunks and then burn the split file segments onto them. Then I can either give him the disks to copy the files back to his pc and re-merge them, or copy the the FAT32 format friendly chunks onto my iPod then copy and reassemble them back on his system. Always a handy tool to have nearby if you live in Large File-size Land.
- FileMenu Tools - (freeware) - If you are like me, you probably have quite a collection of right-click context menu items on your system. I can do the standard things like copy/paste/move/send to, I can zip, I can open with Notepad++, I can secure erase files. Stuff like that. FileMenu tools lets you manage these items, but it does SO much more. It's really designed for power-users of the context-menu. The program comes with extra mini-utilities that you can also add as selections to your right-click context menu: Synchronize Folders ,Extended Delete, Find and Replace, Advanced Renamer, Delete Locked File, Delete and no move to Recycle Bin, Change Icon , Run with Arguments, Command Line From Here, Split File, Join File, Copy to..., Move to..., Copy Name, Copy Path, Copy Content, Paste Clipboard, Attributes, Change Time, Register DLL, Unregister DLL, Create New Folder, Size of Folders, Shred Files. Whew!
- ShellMenuView v1.01 - (freeware) - NirSoft tool to view and manage the right-click context items for those who prefer a more zen-like experience. Not to be confused with the different but related ShellExView v1.19 - Shell Extensions Manager - (freeware) - application also from NirSoft.
- ProduKey v1.10 - (freeware) - NirSoft tool to find, view and export product keys from Windows installations. This new version allows for filtering items by product.
Delaying Startup Programs at System Boot
XP ONLY: Speed Up Your Startup Time with BootVis - Lifehacker reminds us of this Microsoft product that analyzes your XP system startup. While it was designed to help programmers see and troubleshoot the impact of their programs, it can provide a nice analysis of what is going on at boot for an XP system. Although it also includes a startup optimizer, I think it's benefits are negligible on most system. The value come in understanding how your processes are launching at startup. Then you can either remove some of them (being VERY careful not to remove the wrong ones) or maybe delay them. There is a bit of voodoo-skill required in tweaking your startup launching so tread with extreme care if you dare take this on.
While we are on the subject...here is a possible solution I haven't heard mention yet when dealing with slow startup times for Vista...just delay the launch time for some applications at launch. Sure you can use AutoRuns for Windows to delay or remove them, but maybe you can just delay them for a short bit, until you reach your desktop.
Here are three freeware tools to assist you with this...just set your delay programs carefully. I'd recommend starting out only with system-tray and helper applications at first (like program auto-updaters). Generally it wouldn't be wise to delay most Windows system services and processes if the program would even allow you to do so.
- WinPatrol 2007 - (freeware/$ versions) - This is a long time favorite of folks who are malware-sensitive. Contains a great collection of tools and protection, one feature of which is the ability to delay startup items...XP/Vista.
- Startup Delayer - (donation-ware) - "With Startup Delayer instead you can set a delay time between the launch of every program to avoid overloading the system.
You can choose how the program's window will appear (maximized, minimized, hidden, normal) and set a different priority to the program (low, below normal, normal, above normal, high, realtime)." XP/Vista compatible...requires NET 2.0
- Startup Delayer v2.3.125 - (freeware) - One more delay launcher that has been recommended in many forums. XP compatible...doesn't specifically say will work on Vista and I haven't tested on Vista either.
Is your basket full yet?