Saturday, March 06, 2010

March Madness Linkfest #1 – Freeware Apps

I’ve been overwhelmed with projects at work.  All critical priority (to someone else).  All requiring great devotion of shoe-rubber and gray-matter.  Most nights consist of pulling into the house, making sure nothing urgent is unattended, then crawling into bed.

However, the mad rush of cool freeware, Windows tips, and forensic goodies continue to fall into my RSS feeder.  And they are still too great to ignore.

Here is the first of three weekend linkfests; freeware finds

  • SSD Tweak Utility – Performance Tuning Tool for Solid State Drives – (freeware) -- I don’t have a SSD yet.  Probably won’t for quite a while.  In my mind I see an eventual upgrade to a two-drive device.  The first would be the SSD which would contain the OS and the second would be a fast and large SATA drive for data.  The first might allow me faster boot times while then 2nd would (hopefully) deliver dependable storage.  Anyway, this utility offers quick access to settings that might optimize SSD usage under Windows. YMMV. 

  • 7capture - (freeware) – Nice and small-sized free window capture tool.  Pros are that it is free and handles rounded corners and Aero transparencies nicely.  Cons are that it doesn’t come with any image manipulation tools embedded to allow for cropping, resizing, or text/graphic additions (like say FastStone Screen Capture – not free).  Worth checking out and adding to your USB stick…
  • Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector - (freeware) – really cool Wi-Fi scanner and signal locator.  The “radar” tool is a bit gimmicky but does seem to work as far as visualizing the relative direction/strength of the signals.  It is very easy to use and works off my USB drive where I copied the setup files onto.  Coupled with inSSIDer Wi-Fi Scanner and WirelessNetView you can have a nice little package for general home and office network finding.  Particularly useful if you have a issue like Dwight recently posted on: Ask TechBlog: Tracking an offensive Wi-Fi network [Updated] – TechBlog and your iPhone options have been yanked:  Apple removes Wi-Fi finders from App Store - CNET News and Apple purges Wi-Fi discovery apps from App Store (updated) -

  • Windows System State Analyzer - (freeware) – I have a number of applications I use to diff a system pre/post activity.  All are portable and this Microsoft in-house tool will probably rise to the top of the list.  It too is portable once you copy out the key files from the install program folder.  Granted, diff’ing a system can take a loooong time, no matter how fast your drive and hardware is.  However, if you really want to find out what an installer does or what activity takes place with a malware loader, tools like this are very important.. Does require .NET 2.x, and the newer the better performance seen (IMHO). 

  • AppCrashView - (freeware) – Nirsoft new tool to pull stats on app crashes under Windows Vista and 7.  No support (yet) for XP systems.  Another great tool for quickly chewing through valuable app-log data when troubleshooting. 

  • TinyApps.Org Blog : Tiny HDD activity monitors - (tiny freeware) – TinyApps bloggist has located three very nice micro-apps to indicate HDD activity in your system tray.  Many laptops have HDD indicator LED’s but they might not be positioned helpfully, or are hard to see in bright light.  Also uploaded for easy downloading.

  • ImDisk Virtual Disk Driver -version 1.2.7 – another update in this virtual disk driver for Windows systems.  Recent updates now include full driver certificate signing support for x64 bit system compatibility. It warms my heart to see the hard work and continued development that Olof Lagerkvist puts into this project.  I have a few other virtual disk driver/mounting apps, but this one is by far my favorite.

  • Updated Sysinternals Suite Installer - (freeware) – update to Michael Murgolo’s little project for installing the Sysinternals Suite. It will create a Sysinternals Suite folder with Start Menu shortcuts.  The Suite can also be uninstalled from add/remove programs.  See also the cool(er?)  NirLauncher tool package that not only downloads the NirSoft tool collection, but can also add in the Sysinternals Suite collection.  Then there is also the WSCC - Windows System Control Center which also includes an update manager.  It too supports both the Nirsoft suite and the Sysinternals suite. 

  • TechTools 3.0 – since I was mentioning Windows utility suites, it seems a good place to mention that this tool also has been upgraded.  Like the others, all actual utilities are downloaded directly from the developer’s sites to respect redistribution rights requirements/limitations.  I must say it’s a giant collection of some of the best sysadmin loved utilities.  All neatly categorized. 

  • Sysinternals Site Discussion : Updates: AdExplorer v1.3, VMMap v2.6, Disk2vhd v1.5, LiveKd v3.14, Sigcheck v1.66. – Quite a few tools from Sysinternals have been updated this week.  Get ‘em while they are still hot! 

Hope you found something here you like!

Got some outdoor chores to do in the pretty Texas coastal weather, then another linkest.  This times, Windows tips and tricks.


--Claus V.

No comments: