Sunday, March 30, 2008

Make your own iPhone ringtones with ToneShop for Free

There are so many mobile phones around, that getting a unique ringtone on the mobile is not just matter of prestige, but matter of convenience, when you can immediately detect your personal call on the packed party. Frequently you are forced not just pay for the loading new ringtones to your phone in order to replace the standard built-in files, but also you need to work hard, looking for your favorite. The new freeware will help you creating ringtones from your favorite audio files, whenever you like, saving you a dollar charge for downloaded ringtone.

ToneShop is a small freeware that can create ringtones out of audio files for any phone supporting a true audio ringtone, including the Apple IPhone. You can quickly and easily select a fraction of the soundtrack to be used as a ringtone. A quality of software operations is guaranteed as ToneShip is a frontend GUI for well-known FFMPEG, the encoding engine which the majority of freeware video and audio conversion programs are based.

Software is very user-friendly and easy to understand. All you do is choose the ringtone output format, load in your original audio file, and select the output file name and location. Next, you use the play controls to listen to your audio file and locate the portion you want to become the ringtone. When you think you’ve found the starting position for your ringtone, press the Start button and the exact starting time down to the millisecond will appear in the box next to it. Repeat the procedure, when you want to pinpoint the ringtone end, pressing the Finish button. Preview your results. Now, you can manually edit the Start and Finish times by clicking in the text box and typing in new values. When the final tweaks are completed, press the Convert button and software will decode the trimmed audio track to the mobile phone recognizable format.

The software does not "invent the wheel". Everything it does can be performed by the existing on the market utilities. But, it is free, it produces a good quality ringtones, and everything you need is included in one piece of software. Give it a try!

* Any PC with Windows 2000, XP, or Vista
* 256MB of memory
* 20MB of storage (for ToneShop only, additional space might be required for audio and ringtone files)

* MP3 (MPEG1 Layer 3)
* WAV (Uncompressed PCM)
* M4A (AAC)
* WMA (Windows Media Audio)

* MP3
* AAC (M4A)
* WAV (uncompressed and ADPCM)
* AMR-WB (Nokia TrueTones)
* MMF (Yamaha SMAF)
* Apple iPhone (M4R-AAC)

Download Link:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Find Quality Freeware on Hobbyist Blogs

Today, I want to present you a guest publication by Scott May, owner of Columbia-based CompuSoft Consulting, specializing in home and small office tech support, on his views related to the freeware.

It seems the cost of almost everything is going up these days. Rather than dwell on the grim, why not focus on something extremely useful and absolutely free?

As difficult as this might be for some people to grasp, not every programmer is out to make a buck. Some simply enjoy sharing their handiwork with others, at no charge, for the common good. Other freeware publishers choose to give away their software in hopes that you’ll want to sample the rest of their product line or upgrade to a more feature-rich commercial version.
Google the word "freeware," and you’ll get thousands of sites enticing you to step closer, read all about it. They are virtual carnival barkers, luring you in with the promise of free software. Unfortunately, the vast majority is advertiser-based, and some are only a few bytes short of being malware. You can’t just jump at the word free, or you could get more than you bargained for.

The best places on the Web to find quality freeware are hobbyist sites. Computer nerds are hands-on and brutally honest, with little of no advertising to deal with because that’s not their motivation. So rather than reinvent the wheel for the umpteenth time, I’ll assume the role of Internet signpost, pointing the way to untold treasures.

One of my favorite tech-oriented stops on the Web has to be Editor Ian Richards, nicknamed Gizmo, runs a fantastic site. There’s so much quality content here, with links galore, it’s a tech head’s paradise.

In the upper left side of Richards’ homepage, there’s a link to his list of the best freeware utilities in 46 different categories. Constantly updated, this is a monster list guaranteed to find a program for every purpose, from Web browsing and antivirus protection to multimedia production and integrated productivity suites. Even if I don’t agree with his first choice, the chances are that one of the many alternatives will satisfy your needs.

Another great source for new and sometime offbeat free software is the Freeware categories fill the left column, while screen shots and brief descriptions of the software appear on the right. Content is updated several times each month and past program links are organized in searchable archives.

The find of the week at Best Freeware Blog is DocPad, a feature-laden alternative to the rather anemic Windows Notepad. DocPad offers 10-level undo, built-in spell check, font and object formatting tools, and much more. Unlike some freeware sites, this one offers a lot for Vista users.
Blogs can be great sources of information and tested freeware. Again, no one hates spyware worse than PC nerds, and most don’t recommend something they wouldn’t use themselves. Forums also are great places to get feedback from fellow users on the best and worst freeware programs out there.

Finally, check out the goodies at In addition to the site’s very active user forums, you’ll also find more lists and links to the best freeware in dozens of categories.

The more you explore, the more you’ll find, until you finally locate that ultimate freeware application that might not cost you dime but is pure gold.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

IcyPlayer - Portable Internet High-Quality Radio Player and Recorder

Icy Radio is a newly updated freeware player that specializes on streaming Internet radio and TV delivery over the Internet, allowing you to search hundreds of channels and save them in your favorites. It supports MP3, OGG, WMA, AAC radio streaming and it is able to play Internet TV. Player also includes an editable list of favorites and supports adding of stations and recording of streams.

You can save up to 100 favorite channels of any style of music and in addition, you can record Icy Radio broadcasts in MP3 format on your Hard Disk. Certainly, some stations sound and video quality will be better than others, depending on your bandwidth, especially for TV channels. Radio broadcasting quality of this player is one of the best on the market, but TV support option has just appeared in the latest release, so it might be better.

The good thing is that this player is using significantly lower computer resources (RAM and CPU) than any other products I tested so far. Player is indeed portable: it does not require installation, writes settings to the application folder, and stores all your recordings by default in a subdirectory of the application directory. All the tracks are named with the appropriate information, supplied by the radio station at the beginning, so it is convenient to figure out later what have you recorded.

The user interface is simple and user-friendly - you will be immediately able to figure out all the options.

Download the software from the manufacturer Web Site:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Copying data from partially corrupted drives

Today I had a problem at work. One of the customer’s computers came corrupted. In the process of migrating the most valuable confidential customer data (of about 250 GB) to the new computer and the fresh Hard Drive, I found, to my complete un-satisfaction, that some of the customer’s files are corrupted beyond recovery. There were randomly distributed through the drive, and several attempts to copy the data "as is" failed. Usually, I prefer to copy all healthy information before stressing the HDD with any data recovery attempts. But, in choosing the healthy data to be transferred appeared to be a main challenge. You have a problem - Internet almost always gives you a free solution. Just look for it!

This time, the solution came as a freeware YCopy. Nothing fancy, but the program did exactly, what I needed from it. Program copied all the “good” files and made notes of the files that could not be copied due to the corruption. When the copy process completed, I had a detailed printable report, that I could use to attempt fixing and recovery the files, if they seem to be important, or just provide the client with a professional listing of the files which were unable to be copied. It saved a lot of time on browsing through directories and files making the best efforts to recovery an available data. And customer was really impressed by the submitted report.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Free Anonymous Surfing with JanDo

There are many reasons why Internet user might prefer to surf the Web anonymously. It might be related to the “privacy paranoia” that can be developed following multiple frightening posts on the government monitoring and controlling all Internet communications, or, possibly, somehow justified fear on being tracked by the governmental organizations in the countries, where the meaning of freedom is not properly developed yet. JAP (JonDo) anonymous browser gives a user such possibilities. The degree of the featured software anonymization abilities is so good, that the German Police insisted in 2004 on opening a backdoor to the product allowing proper authorities interception, while investigating cases related to child pornography. The required modification was performed, but later was subsequently removed as a result of court action by JAP.

While you use a regular browser for Web searches, your computer in communicates with Internet using a traceable address that can track, which site you were visiting, and who is your internet service provider (ISP). JAP uses a single static address which is shared by many JAP users. That way neither the visited website, nor an eavesdropper can determine which user visited which website.

So, instead of connecting directly to a Web Server, JAP uses integrated proxy services that hide the real IP address through a proxy mix cascade that effectively hides the identity of any one single user among the connections of all the other users - making it impossible, even for the proxy provider, to determine which IP belongs to which user. After installing JAP, you need to configure your browser to use the local proxy server for web browsing. The provided control panel allows you to turn anonymity on or off, and also displays the current level of security. JAP comes pre-configured with several free service providers and also supports pay services. The free services are run by universities and other public infrastructures and are free of charge for the user. The mix providers officially declare that they do not keep connection log files or exchange such data with other mix providers.

Note, that the project supports the following Internet protocols: HTTP, HTTPS, FTP (download only), and Gopher. Other applications, like file sharing, P2P, chat, IM, email, and Internet telephony, are not supported.

Software can be downloaded from the authors’s Web site:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Convert your Mobile Phone or Digital Camera into a Portable Scanner

How many of you, the readers of this Blog, have private mobile phones? How many of your mobile phones are equipped with camera? Probably, the overwhelming majority… Do you know that your camera can be used for much more than regular pictures taking? Just imagine that you can make a photo of each and every book page and poster, and convert it into the software text file, which you can easily manipulate and edit. What a great solution for:

  • Students, spending hours in the public libraries,
  • Professional, interesting to input data from the business card automatically in the software format without additional devices,
  • Visually-impaired, planning to read clearly the warning message on the bottle with pills on the pharmacy shelf.
  • Anybody, seeing interesting article, poster, graphic ads, and many other uses.

Experts forecast, that by 2010, there will be a billion camera phones in the world, half of them with a resolution of at least three megapixels. So, development of the OCR solution based on the low-resolution images comes to the focus of developers in multiple companies. In this post, we will limit our investigation by one of directions: development of the free desktop software that is practically optimized for the data input from your digital camera or mobile phone built-in camera.
The best software I could find on the market for the announced purposes is TopOCR. TopOCR is specifically designed as a simple and user-friendly solution for use with digital camera, smart phone, or camera-equipped media player. The main limitation of the software that it can support only devices with optical resolution of more than 3 MP

The list of the software features, announced by manufacturer, is pretty impressive:

  • OCR accuracy of up to 99.8% with a 3 MP camera.
  • No limits for amount of pages.
  • Handles images with mixed text and graphics (Manual or Auto Zoning).
  • Tolerates skew and uneven lighting.
  • Multiple text output formats, including searchable PDF and HTML.
  • Able to read 11 different languages
  • Powerful, easy to use Image Processing with Image Dewarping
  • Includes built-in, full featured Text and Image WYSIWYG Editors
  • Post-processing spell checker for all 11 languages
  • Built-in Text-To-Speech software. OCR to MP3.
  • Supports a Command Line Interface and a GUI.

Download the software from the authors’s site: If you are devoted fan of the portable applications, as I am, you might be interested in the efforts to convert this application into the portable one:

I am using the offered approach with no difficulties.

If you do not care for a software portability, just use the installation file from the authors; do not spend additional time on these complications. Again, link for downloading:

Click to Increase

Sunday, March 2, 2008

VLC Media Player: Portable freeware playing all formats

VLC media player (VideoLAN VLC Player) is a free cross-platform media player for various audio and video formats available today. It can support streaming protocols and also can be a streaming sever with IPv6 support. As VLC comes with built-in support for most of the video and audio codec, it is able to play any format, play any codec, play any media and stream any protocol from any platform (Windows, MAC, and Linux). It is not a figure of speech; I did not have a media file that the player could not handle so far. And, you are not required to download any additional codecs on your PC. If you ever struggled with new file format, when your player refused to support, you know, what I mean.

VideoLAN started as a student project at the École Centrale Paris, with the goal of developing a general-purpose media player that could handle audio, video and streamed content. And now, its driver is accepted and one of the most successful on the market and being used by many online and offline software projects. For example, Google’s Video search uses browser plug-in based on VLC player.

Main Advantages:

  • Play Anything - As said this is the main feature of this player. You can play any format or any codec. In might even read disk images (iso) and play directly.
  • Simple and user-friendly GUI.
  • Default interface is basic and not very appealing, but you cam choose any of the available skins to enhance its view.
  • Equalizer -VLC has an equalizer for both audio and image that can significantly improve the image and audio quality.
  • Filters -VLC comes in with dozens of audio and video filter that you can apply to alter the output.

A brief video tutorial on the player use:

VLC: Free DVD Player and Media Player

  • Network Streaming - It can stream internet video over HTTP, UTP protocol more over it support IPv6. Ability to watch for TV and audio streams I have discovered for myself for the first time, while preparing this review. A brief video tutorial as of how to use the player for streaming:

TV and Audio Streaming using VLC Player

  • You can rip DVD from inside the program. Find attached the brief tutorial on how to do with ease.

DVD Ripping with free VLC Player

  • Portability - Player works with all operating system, which include Windows (including Vista), MAC, Linux, BEOS, Win CE., etc. It has a high degree of portability, and can work from a USB drive without installing on your Hard Drive.
  • Ability to play partially downloaded files and even corrupted files. This way, you can test the part of the big media file before downloading it in full.
  • The software is frequently updated to cover more options and optimize its performance. The latest update was at the end of February 2008.

This player is part of my USB toolbox. Highly recommended! Choose downloading 7z or zip archives to get portable version of the software.

Link for downloading from manufacturer’s site:

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