Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Initial Design Mockups for Firefox 3.7/4.0

Lifehacker has just pointed out that Mozilla has released some initial brainstorms of the design for Firefox 3.7 and Firefox 4.0.

It looks like they are going in the direction of creating a simplistic interface following the path of Google Chrome and Safari. Hiding the menu bar by default and using the two buttons (XP) on the right side. They also seem to be following Safari 4.0 changing colors with the Windows theme. See this. Notice that the toolbar color changes with the Windows theme color. On Vista, its just a tools menu with the page menu on the tab bar left instead.

This design also features (for Windows Vista/7) a full glass interface.

The current design for Firefox 4.0 features the Omnibar and Top Tabs.

Find out more:
Mozilla Links

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

User Agent Switcher (Firefox Extension)

An interesting article came up on CNET Download.com about a Firefox extension I wish I found long ago.

Its User Agent Switcher which lets you pretend to be another browser. Opera has something similar to this built in. Handy for those sites that simply won’t load in Firefox. Unlike IE Tab (and related add-ons) the site still uses Firefox, only pretending to be other browsers like IE by “switching” the user agent.

Be aware however, that many sites want Internet Explorer because their site breaks in other browsers.

Read CNET Download.com’s Post here.

User Agent Switcher (Mozilla Add-ons)

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Last Password You Have to Remember

Do you have trouble remembering passwords? Is writing them on a piece of paper or text file not working? Well then password managers are what you need. Most browsers have one built in, but they are really simple and quite insecure. For example, in Firefox, with just a click on a button, all your saved passwords are revealed. You could add a Master Password, though most people do not. Some browsers like Google Chrome don’t even have a Master Password. Thats when third party managers come in.

Product Name: LastPass Password Manager
Platform: Windows, Mac, and Linux
Browser Integration:
Firefox Add-on, IE Add-on, Bookmarklets for any browser on any platform that supports Javascript (including Chrome, Safari, Opera, and even iPod Touch and iPhone)
Version Reviewed: 1.51.2

95 out of 100

Upon installing LastPass, it will prompt you to set up a LastPass Account. Account you say? Yes, thats because this is fully online. LastPass is an online password manager. While that may seem a bit scary, the LastPass servers are host-proof, meaning even their employees cannot access the data. In addition, only the encrypted data is stored on their servers. The key to decrypt it lies in your hands, the master password. All encrpytion and decryption is done on your own computer. The key is not stored on their servers. They use a “salted hash.” Learn more about this here. Learn about their technology: AES-256 bit to secure your data here.

View the details in this flash slideshow. Having problems viewing it or want to view it in full screen? Click here (Picasa Web Albums).

I just started using LastPass and have officially switched to it for my password management. Having it stored online is very handy since I can use it to logon public shared computers.

I can also finally access all my stored data from Firefox and use it on virtually any browser.

Unlike most other Password Managers that integrate with the browser (including Firefox built in), LastPass doesn’t only fill when the page loads. Some sites, like CNET Download.com, fail to be autofilled by managers like Firefox built in because their login screen doesn’t load a new page. Its just a Javascript overlay window. LastPass fills it whenever the login forms appear not just when the page loads.

Also, unlike other managers, LastPass is multi platform and works on just about all browsers (though its superior on IE and Firefox).

It is also capable of searching your computer for stored passwords that are not properly secured and can easily be accessed by hackers. I had no problems having all my Firefox saved passwords imported into LastPass and deleted from Firefox.

Note: You must have third party cookies enabled or have lastpass.com on the Always Allow list or it will always log off automatically each time the browser closes regardless of your auto log off time settings.

Being all online means that you will have to put some trust into the folks at LastPass. While their host proof server has excellent security methods, this might not be the product for those who are really paranoid about their personal data.

Overall, LastPass is a very straightforward and easy to use yet powerful password management tool. The only password I need to remember now is my Master Password.

I have to say, LastPass rocks!

LastPass Home Page
LastPass Download Page
LastPass from Mozilla Add-ons (AMO)
Bookmarklet is available from within your account. Not recommended for Firefox and Internet Explorer as the plugin is much more superior. Learn more here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

VLC Media Player 1.0.0 Released!

Do you use VLC Media Player? If not, why not give it a try today! Free and open source. What exactly is it? Its a simple yet powerful open source and cross platform alternative to other media players as it can play just about any media format you throw at it.

This popular media player has just received a major update today. Support for HD and other new formats, finer speed controls, customizable toolbars, AirTunes streaming, and much more are among some of the new features. It also received a lot of bug fixing work and annoyance fixing.

Give it a try today!

VLC Media Player [VideoLan]

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Google Apps Drops the Beta Label

Do you use Google Apps products like Gmail, Google Calendar, and/or Google Docs? You may have noticed it always had that Beta label on it. Today, they finally drop the Beta making it a “final” product though it probably makes no difference. Gmail has been in “beta” for over 5 years.

How does this change make you feel? More confident using Google Apps?

To me, it doesn’t really make a difference. If you want that label back to “soothe the soul” there’s a new Gmail Labs feature that adds the Beta label back to the logo.

Leave your thoughts about this in the comments.

More information can be found at:

Official Gmail Blog
New York Times

Friday, July 3, 2009

Follow Us on Twitter!

As you probably know, you can receive new post updates as well as other news via Twitter. Follow us here.

You can also ask us any questions you have through Twitter @Wintechpedia. Remember all Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters. Feel free to retweet anything you find interesting.

Our Twitter's WOT Profile is here.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Firefox 3.5 is now available for Download!

Mozilla Firefox 3.5 is now available for download after more than a year of development!

New features include HTML 5 Open Video Support, CSS Improvements, Private Browsing, Speedier Performance, Forget this Site, and much more.

It also includes their new Tracemonkey Javascript engine. It is claimed to be twice as fast as Firefox 3.0 and ten times as fast as Firefox 2.0.

More details about the release can be found in the release notes.

Be in the Shiretoko Shock!

Note: Most of your favorite add-ons should have updated to work with Firefox 3.5 already. If not, please contact the extension developer.

Spread Firefox Affiliate Button

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Firefox 3.5 is Coming!

According to the Mozilla site, Firefox 3.5 is ready for release. Check back on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 which is tomorrow! :)

Find out more here. (Mozilla)

If you’re using Firefox 3.5 already, the video on the above site will use the new Open Video features. Otherwise, it will use Flash Player.

Feature overview videos:

Ogg Download
MP4 Download

There are also some other Mozilla Labs features worthy of trying with the new release such as Ubiquity, New Tab Page, Weave, and Jetpack as well as various other projects.

Can’t wait? Download the Release Candidate!

Join the Shiretoko Shock!

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

New Request a Review Form

Is there a software product that you can't live without? How about one that you can't stand? Whether it is good or bad, want us to write a review about it? You can now make a request here. If you have trouble viewing the form, click here.

You will also write your own review of the product as part of this request. You can also choose to have your review published with our review.

Keep in mind the following:
  1. The software MUST be free of charge. If there is an upgraded paid version available, the free version must not have any upgrade nags.
  2. Of course, it must be malware free. It may be adware as many products may offer other products as well as display ads. That is okay.
  3. If we already reviewed the product, be sure there was at least one update since our last review of it.
The review format was taken from CNET Download.com Reviews.

Your review will not influence my review of it.

Your display name (which can be Anonymous) that you provide will be given credit for the review request. It will be publicly displayed. You may also choose to have that link to your website, blog, or profile.

If you truly didn't like or dislike anything about a product, please try to write something or a little comment. Otherwise, feel free to just write "None."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Is there an alternative to Adobe Reader?

All of us have probably used Adobe Reader before. Its the most popular PDF reader and provides a browser plugin. Being the most popular, you can guess that its the most targeted for exploits. In addition, the program tends to be a resource hog and often will slow down your computer when you click a PDF link. Is there a possible alternative that not only reads PDF, but provides a browser version and is not slow?

Product Name: Foxit Reader
Publisher: Foxit Software
Version Reviewed: 3.0 Build 1817
Date Reviewed: June 26, 2009

out of 100

Foxit Reader is a free download from their website. It has also recently won CNET Editors Choice April 2009. They also try to get you to buy the pro version from the website. The download is only about 3.5 MB. Compare that to Adobe Reader’s 16 MB Download.

Upon starting the installation, it opens with a splash then you just agree to the license and after clicking next, the window disappears and after just seconds, the installation is done. The installer will continue to offer you Ask Toolbar with extra Foxit Features and shortcuts to eBay.

See this slideshow for more details. Having trouble viewing it or want to view it in full screen? Click here (Picasa Web Albums).

The overall performance of Foxit Reader is much much faster than Adobe Reader. Clicking a PDF link in browsers no longer lags the whole browser. Very lightweight. Also adds some extra features like content sharing. However, there is one area I was not impressed about.

The following applies to Windows Vista and Windows 7:

You may wonder why the plugin version was not shown. Version 3.0 of Foxit claims to have a Mozilla plugin. However, when I tried it, it just instantly froze Firefox and then gave me a message that the “Server is Busy” and for me to Switch to or Retry. Both buttons did nothing and the server was clearly not busy. I then tried it on Google Chrome, Opera, and Safari and the same result happened, only without the error message. Google Chrome offered to stop the plugin. I had to end process to all the browsers to close it. Looking at the Foxit Forums and some Download.com reviews, it looks like I’m not the only one with this issue.

On my Windows Vista machine, the plugin had the issue shown above. On Windows 7, the issue occured too however after Firefox restarted and restored tabs, the PDF actaully loaded but lagged a lot. That only happened once. The rest of the tries it just didn’t work.

The plugin works perfectly on Windows XP however. I tested this on Firefox 3.0, Firefox 3.5, and Google Chrome 2.0. All works fine.

Workaround for Vista/7 Mozilla Firefox Users:

In Firefox, there is a workaround available, which is basically not using the plugin and have PDFs open the whole program. Go to Tools –> Options –> Applications . Then scroll down to PDF Document or Foxit Reader Document (or whatever your PDF files are named). Then on the menu, click on Foxit Reader – Best Reader for Everyday Use. Now, everytime you click a PDF link, it will open PDFs in Foxit Reader and ignore the plugin.


If you run Windows XP or earlier, you should definitely consider using Foxit Reader for PDFs.

If you run Windows Vista or Windows 7: If you are a user of Internet Explorer or other ActiveX based browsers, Foxit Reader is the superior alternative to Adobe Reader. However, if you use the majority of browsers, which are plugin based, like Firefox or Opera, you might want to wait until this plugin is fixed. Or if you don’t mind not using a browser plugin, you can have Firefox open PDFs in Foxit Reader rather than trying to use the defective plugin.

Hows the plugin working for you?

Foxit Reader Download Sites:

Official Foxit Software Site
CNET Download.com

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Firefox 3.5 RC 3 Available

The third release candidate of the long anticipated Firefox 3.5 is now available. Its probably a bug fix release as the release notes does not work and/or have not been made. Clicking the Release Notes link under download links you to Mozilla’s 404 Error Page. You can use the Firefox 3.5 Release Notes for now.

To update, you can use the Check for Updates in the Help menu (if you are on an administrator user account or running Firefox under admin) or you can download the latest version from the Firefox Pre-Release Download Site.

Firefox Pre-Release Download Site (Mozilla)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials Beta (First Looks)

Its been in the news since November, but its finally here. The public beta of Microsoft’s new free security offering, known as Microsoft Security Essentials, Codename Morro. It is intended to replace Windows Live OneCare.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free security offering that’s intended to replace Windows Defender and Windows Live OneCare. It offers real time protection and both antivirus and antispyware. Therefore, as you can guess, it was at very high demand.

It was released this morning as limited public beta to the first 75,000 people. I was able to grab a copy just a few minutes ago and install it on my Windows 7 RC system. The servers were extremely slow probably because of demand and the very small 4.7 MB download went no higher than 10 KB/s. To get it, you need to sign into Microsoft Connect with your Windows Live ID, then answer a quick survey. "This beta is available only to customers in the United States, Israel (English only), People’s Republic of China (Simplified Chinese only) and Brazil (Brazilian Portuguese only)" according to the beta site.

View details in this flash slideshow. Having trouble viewing it? Click here to view the full album (Picasa Web Albums).

Overall, this is an excellent new product and is likely to trigger some competition with the other free security products like AVG. It is based off of Windows Live OneCare, which has a reputation of having low false positives and strong new detection rates.

Being free and very light is already amazing. The scan took no more than 4.6 MB of RAM. However, I noticed that a SYSTEM process taking up almost 30-50 MB of RAM was always running and this was part of the program’s services. When I ended this process, Security Essentials gave an alert that the service was stopped. The process is MsMpEng.exe which is called AntiMalware Service Executable. In task manager, you need to show processes from all users to see this. The program overall is very resource friendly compared to other security products.

Update 6/26: I ran a full scan of my system (including both operating system partitions) and it scanned well over 2 million items and took 3.5 hours. If I recall correctly, my Windows Defender scan I ran in December 2008 when I only had one operating system took longer than that to scan around 600,000 items. In my experiences with MSE, it is faster than Defender.

The product, especially the About Window and the Settings tab looks very much like Windows Defender (Windows 7 version).

Overall, I’m very impressed by this new product. It would be nice however if they would bring back the Software Explorer from Windows Defender for XP and Vista.

My computer was not infected so I didn’t get a chance to test out the removal. While this is a great new product, I cannot place any recommendations just yet as there has not been any thorough testing for this beta product just yet for factors such as detection rates. It is likely to be similar to Windows Live OneCare, but there are no guarantees. However, I believe that this could be a great new product that could trigger some competition.

MSE also updates like Defender. Definitions are received through Windows Update. If will also disable Windows Defender after installing. You could turn it back on if you want but there isn't much benefit to that since both probably use the same engine. You could turn it on just to use Software Explorer if you are using XP or Vista, then turn if back off so your system performance won't be affected much.

Want to try it for yourself?

Microsoft Security Essentials

Keep in mind that this is BETA software.

Update 6/24: One day after the beta release, the 75,000 download cap has been reached and Microsoft is no longer accepting any more new downloads.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Firefox 3.5 RC Update Pushed to Beta/Preview Testers

The long anticipated update to Mozilla Firefox updates again. :) If you have been using Firefox 3.5 recently like me, you can receive

From the Beta Download site, you can download Firefox 3.5 Beta 4. But from there, pressing the Check for Updates button would update your Firefox to a version known as 3.5b99, which is a preview version, between beta and RC.

Just today, another update has been pushed out. This one happens to be the Release Candidate.

From CNET:
"Because of the 800,000 or so testers that Mozilla says have been using the beta versions, Firefox director Mike Beltzner said that he expects this to be the sole release candidate before version 3.5 goes public at the end of June"

That is certainly great news. More than one year after Firefox 3.0, the what was supposed to be a minor update 3.1 released in December is now 3.5 and contains many new features.

There aren't really any noticable changes between the beta/preview and the RC. Just expect it to be more stable.

Here is an excerpt from CNET:
"The upgrades to Firefox 3.5 have been well-documented by now. Private browsing, geolocation, faster performance than Firefox 3 for both loading pages and running JavaScript, local storage for better offline support, and native video for Ogg/Vorbis. If you're running the release candidate or one of its beta predecessors, you can check out Daily Motion to see how the non-Flash based video playback performs.

More improvements include support for HTML5 tags such as < video > and < audio >, native JSON support, support for Web workers so browser-based apps can run in the background, support for CSS and SVG standards, the ability to erase browsing traces by site or by time, personas for easier theme management, and downloadable fonts. The release candidate is also available in more than 70 language localizations."

Theres a nice new shiny Firefox logo too.

Learn more at CNET and Mozilla Developer site.

Note: In Firefox 3.5 RC, it doesn't seem to actually say RC anywhere except the welcome page. The About window just shows 3.5.

Update 6/19: Firefox 3.5 RC 2 is now available for download here. Fixes a few bugs and stability issues found in RC 1.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Linux MultiMedia Studio: Free FL Studio Alternative?

Familiar with FL (FruityLoops) Studio? This popular professional commercial program is used to create music as well as create remixes. From their website, they offer a demo version which actaully has full functionality…. except for the fact that the save project (as FLP-Fruity Loops Project) is disabled. Therefore, unless you finish the whole thing, then export the project into a music file and never intend to work on it again, you would have to buy the program. While this might be okay, are there free programs that might come close?

Linux MultiMedia Studio (LMMS)
Designed for Linux. For Windows (Windows 98SE and higher) and Linux. Free and Open Source.

This free and open source project is currently in beta stage, therefore, it does not come without bugs. Some of the obvious bugs are the fact that the play button often becomes a pause button. However, overall, the program works great!

It even supports VST Plugins (used by FL Studio) and FLP (FL Studio Project Files)! Works and looks quite like FL Studio. If you’re familiar with FL Studio, you should have no trouble getting used to LMMS (or vice versa).


The interface feels a bit cluttered depending on your screen resolution. This screenshot shows how it looks playing one of the preset samples. It supports .ogg, .wav, and .mid media files. Unfortunately, there is no .mp3 support at all right now. You can also import .flp files. You can learn more about how to use this program at their Documentation here.

Basically, you can drag the media files into the Song or Beat Editor. In the song editor, each part can be a series of notes. Double click on the part then you will be a large grid with a keyboard on the side. Clicking on the grid adds that certain note. You can also use their collection of beat, drums, and much much more. Full detailed guides can be found at their Documentation.

Don’t worry, it may seem very confusing at first. But once you use it for a while, you’ll get used to it and even have fun making your own music. You can even share your songs with the world.

This program is new and is in beta. It is quite strong and a possible alternative to FL Studio. The program could become a very successful open source project.

It doesn’t cosume much system resources when its idle. CPU Usage depends on the number of tracks you have on the song. When I tested it, it consumed around 150 MB of RAM.

Click here to learn more and download Linux MultiMedia Studio (LMMS)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

WinTechpedia Add-on Collections

You probably noticed Mozilla Add-ons' New Design of the site. The main addition was Collections!

What are collections? "Collections are groups of related add-ons assembled for easy sharing." (from Mozilla)

So we have created 3 collections. Click the following links to go to them and find out more information.

WinTechpedia Recommended

The top add-ons we recommend. Add-ons here include WOT, SkipScreen, NoScript, Adblock Plus, etc...

WinTechpedia Security

The top add-ons we recommend for security and privacy. Add-ons here include WOT, NoScript, etc...

WinTechpedia Fun, Social, and Media
Add-ons we recommend for fun, socializing, communication, and media. Add-ons here include Bork! Bork! Bork!, Yoono, etc...

You could also install the Add-on Collector add-on to subscribe and add favorites to collections.

We need your help to expand these packs. What add-ons do you recommend us add? What add-ons do you recommend us take out? Leave your ideas in the comments!

Subscribing to our collections gives you alerts of new updates to them. This requires the Add-on Collector (by Mozilla).

All add-ons were created by their respective developers.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Object-Oriented Programming with Greenfoot

We've heard a lot about programming. For those of us that have tried to study it, we've heard the phrase "object-oriented" even more. So what exactly is it?

"Object-oriented" basically means the same thing as it sounds. Its a programming language based on "objects", which can be referenced in the code multiple times. Let us take this sample scenario. You have a world, with cells in it, and you want to stick Rocks into it. So in the code, you have to make everything that defines a Rock as many times as you need it, which would take a long time. However, in object-oriented programming, you can have a Rock class. In an object-oriented language, you can reuse the Rock class, by writing it once, and making it over and over again, just by initializing it, like this:

public class Rock() {
//there's currently nothing in this

Rock myRock = new Rock();

Now for those technologically challenged people who have no idea what I just wrote, here's an easier approach to this problem. Greenfoot, an open source Java (programming language) ide (interactive development environment), makes learning programming much easier. Download and install the program onto your computer (you'll need a recent Java JDK), to try things yourself, or watch along with this tutorial.

Upon opening Greenfoot for the first time, select the "wombats" scenario. Then, something similiar to the below will open. The square grid in the middle is the "world", or place where all the objects live in. To the right are the "classes", the types of objects that have been premade for you.

To begin experimenting, right click on a "Wombat" in the classes. You will be given the option of "new Wombat()", which initiates a new wombat. Put that Wombat into your world. Right click the Rock class, and click "new Rock()", and put the rock into the world. You have just created instances of classes, your very own objects. Continue placing rocks and leaves in the world (make sure not to overcrowd the world with rocks).

Now, you may be thinking, "this is a very uninteresting diagram of a wombat and rocks and leaves." Well the thing you don't know is that the world is currently paused. Click on the "Run" button on the bottom, and watch the wombat move. The Wombat is precoded to not run into rocks, and eats leaves. Click pause, and right click the wombat in the world. You given a list of "methods", basically functions that the wombat can carry out. Below is a screenshot of the scenario in action.

You may be wondering about what makes this program tick, and where all of the coding is. Right click the Wombat class on the right, and click "Open Editor". You will see something similar to the below screenshot:

You can play around with the code, and try to add your own, or maybe wait for the next post! Happy Programming!

That's all folks for today! Please comment on tech as we need comments to improve on the tech guide. Don't hesitate to ask any questions. Thanks!
By - WinTechpedia™ 2009 Contributors

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha: Knowledge Engine

Ever need to get some information right there without having to deal with millions of search results to sites you never heard about. For example, I want to know about tides in New York. So what do I do. I head on over to a search engine like Google and type in Tides New York. Woah! Tides Restaurant? Tides Seafood? Hundreds of results. None actually tell me about the tides in New York.

Wolfram|Alpha, a new service, is here to help change all that. I try my search again. Hey. There are graphs, charts, and everything I need to know, including when high tide and low tide are today and tomorrow. Now that wasn’t so hard? While you could be spending hours on Google or a similar search engine, Wolfram Alpha cuts that time to less than a minute.

There are lots more cool features of Wolfram Alpha like factoring. Enter your equation or just the problem and it will factor it for you including give you possible values for the variable as well as the graph, and much more.

Try searching “pi” It gives you a bunch of digits with a More Digits button. Keep pressing to keep getting more digits! It also gives you a lot of other information about pi also.

That’s not all. There are a lot more things it helps you do. Searches come in real time as the system processes your search term and calculates all the data right there.

Its fairly new and more features are constantly being added.

Click here to go to Wolfram|Alpha Home Page

What do you think of it? Share your thoughts with us!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Comparison of Official Chat Clients.

Most of us use Multi Protocol clients these days, but its good to know how each protocol service’s official client is. So… that’s what we are doing today. We will be comparing the features of AIM, ICQ, Yahoo!, Windows Live, Google Talk client, and Google Talk Gmail version. The following apply to the client’s Microsoft Windows version. Features may or may not vary for other platforms. We are NOT promoting any of this software in any way in this post.

Notes on Classification/License: Adware is not necessarily dangerous. A program is listed as Adware if they: Attempt to install software (like toolbars) that is not required for program’s functions, installs search engines, changes your default search engine, and/or displays advertisements. Homepage change may also be included.

We are only displaying the unique features and special features of the client under Pros to save space because many clients have the exact same features. Notice that most of them are adware.

I am not affiliated with the developers of these clients.

AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) v6.9: (not recommended)
Requires AOL or ICQ Screenname
Classification: Adware and Spyware


  • Social Networking Status Updates
  • Real Time IM. See what your buddy is typing.
  • AIM Plugins to extend your experience
  • Customize buddy list with colors
  • Tabbed IMs. Regroup and detach.
  • Search for buddies by typing their email address.
  • AIM Expressions so you can have different IM backgrounds. This is actually a protocol feature but only the client supports it
  • Emoticon fireworks
  • Connect with ICQ (same protocol)


  • No Log Viewer. Must view in external HTML viewer
  • Heavy advertising with mouseover popup ads
  • AIM Zone Pop Up upon start up by default. Covered with flashy ads.
  • Force installs Viewpoint Media Player with NO option to opt out. See below for details.

Why This Program is Classified as Adware/Spyware:

  • Attempts to install AIM Toolbar with AIM Search, QQGames, and AIMTunes by default, all of which is not required for AIM to function. Even if you choose to not install these, the .exe is already downloaded with the main setup and placed into your installation directories.
  • Attempts to change your homepage to aim.com
  • Attempts to make AIM Search default.
  • Displays banner and text advertisements within the program (very heavy with some mouseover popup like ads). Also known to randomly download huge trailers for ads.
  • Force installs potentially unwanted software with no option to opt out. See below for details.

WARNING! AIM and other AOL Software installs a program called Viewpoint Media Player without user consent. Viewpoint Media Player is Adware and potentially Spyware. They claim it is required to view so-called media like SuperBuddy Icons. They give no option to opt out. If you uninstall it, it will secretly reinstall itself if you have administrative rights the next time you launch AIM or the AOL product. Even the AOL browser does this. Thats not all. Viewpoint has a unique user ID and will eventually track how users interact with the media. Thats still not all.

ICQ v6.5:
Requires AOL or ICQ Screenname
Classification: Adware


  • ICQ Plugins (Xtras).
  • Connect with AIM (same protocol)
  • Tabbed IMs
  • Chat Log Viewer
  • Skins to customize experience
  • Quick reply. Reply from the new IM notification.


  • ICQ Zones (like AIM Zones) pop ups on startup by default. Covered with flashy ads.
  • Heavy advertising both on buddy list and IM window

Why This Program is Classified as Adware:

  • Attempts to install ICQ Toolbar with ICQ Search.
  • Attempts to make icq.com the homepage
  • Attempts to make ICQ Search default.
  • Displays banner and text advertisements within the program

Yahoo! Messenger v9.0:
Requires Yahoo! Account
Classification: Adware


  • IMVironments: Interactive IM backgrounds
  • Yahoo! Plugins to extend your experience
  • Skins to customize your experience
  • Custom Ringtones
  • Sound effects and soundtracks during Voice and Video Chat
  • Audibles: Send animated talking characters to your buddies
  • Yahoo! Games built in without any additional software
  • Buzz Feature
  • Stealth: Be invisible to only certain buddies
  • Connect with Windows Live Messenger (MSN), Microsoft Office Communications Server, Lotus Sametime, and Reuters Messaging users
  • Chat Log Viewer


  • Tabbed IMs not available in Windows version
  • Some banner and text ads within program.

Why This Program is Classified as Adware:

  • The default “Typical Install” tab hides these options. By default, Yahoo! Toolbar will be installed.
  • Attempts to make Yahoo! Search default by default.
  • Attempts to change homepage to yahoo.com by default.
  • Displays banner and text ads within program

Windows Live Messenger 2009 (v14):
Requires Windows Live ID
Classification: Adware


  • Colorful and attractive themes (scenes) and colors
  • Smooth integration with Windows
  • Lots of backgrounds for individual IM windows
  • Buzz Feature
  • Connect with Yahoo! buddies
  • Play games with your buddy right from the window without additional software.
  • Drag and drop pictures to your buddies
  • See Whats New in your buddies networks
  • Groups: Group Chat with an entry in your buddy list
  • Built in Log Viewer


  • Some banner and text ads within program.
  • Today pops up by default at startup

Why This Program is Classified as Adware:

  • Banner advertisements.
  • Text advertisements.
  • By default MSN home page and Live search default and keep default set after Windows Live Installer runs.

Google Talk v1.0: Requires Google Account (Gmail required for logging)
Classification: Freeware


  • Simplicity.
  • Skinnable IM windows.
  • Scrolling IM windows. Works like tabs.
  • Voice chat
  • No advertisements. 100% Ad Free.


  • Highly feature lacking. Too many to list.
  • Last Official Update: January 2007 (v1.0.104)

We are adding the Gmail Google Talk version because that is the main version developed by Google Inc. and is one of the most popular ways people access Google Talk (Jabber/XMPP).

Google Talk Gmail Version Requires Google Account with Gmail capability
Classification: Website


  • Simplicity.
  • Watch YouTube right from the IM “window”
  • Video and Voice Chat with plugin
  • Group Chat
  • Many Emoticons in 4 styles
  • Connect with AIM Buddies using your AIM Screenname
  • No ads on any chat interface.


  • No IM colors.
  • No advanced client features

Comparison Chart Key:

  1. 1. Group Chat
  2. 2. Themes and Skins
  3. 3. Video Chat
  4. 4. Voice Chat
  5. 5. Multi-Protocol Support
  6. 6. Add-ons and Plugins
  7. 7. Banner Graphical Ads
  8. 8. Text Ads
  9. 9. Play games with buddy
  10. 10. Buzz
  11. 11. Chat Logs
  12. 12. Built in Chat Log Viewer
  13. 13. Hides Extra Software*
  14. 14. Number of Additional Offers**
  15. 15. Installation Size***
  16. 16. My rating of the product. Ratings are relative to this category of products and are not eligible to compare to ratings on official multi protocol clients. Rating scale: 0.5 (Very Poor) to 5.0 (Superior). Note: Gmail Gtalk is Webware, not client therefore it has been rated in relation to typical web browser versions.

AIM ICQ Yahoo! WLM Gtalk Client Gtalk Gmail

Adware Adware Adware Adware Freeware Website
1 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
2 Colors only No Yes Yes No Yes
3 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes ****
4 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ****
5 No
6 Yes Yes Yes No No No
7 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
8 Yes Yes Yes Yes No None on chat interface
9 Requires QQGames No Yes Yes No No
10 No No Yes Yes No No
11 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (w/ Gmail account) Yes
12 No Yes Yes Yes No Yes
13 Yes Yes Yes No No N/A
14 6 (1 are forced) 3 3 2 1 N/A
15 25 MB 51 MB 27 MB 43 MB 4 MB N/A
16 1.3 2.9 4.0 4.5 3.5 4.7
*Hiding extra software means that the program’s installation hides extra software like toolbars under “Recommended”
**Extra offers refers to toolbars, search engines, and homepage changes that are offered. AIM’s force install of third party software is included here.
***As installed on Windows XP Professional SP3
****Requires Video and Voice Plugin
*****Requires AOL/AIM Screenname.
My Personal Opinion:
If you are new to IM and only want one service with an official client, try Windows Live Messenger or Google Talk Gmail Version. Otherwise, consider using full multi protocol clients.
I personally do not recommend the official AIM Client.

Which client would you choose?
Happy chatting!

Post Updated 6/5: I updated this post today because I realized that WildTangent was previously installed with AIM 5.5. It is no longer installed in AIM 6 in favor of QQGames for the gaming service.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

WinTechpedia Software Pack

Hello all! You may have remembered our recent post on 11 recommended software. Thanks for InstallPad, the download process can be easier.

Powered by InstallPad. © 2009 Phil Crosby
No products here were created by us. We simply put together our own AppList for InstallPad.

Windows 32-bit only.
Most software will function in 64-bit, however some especially Sandboxie will not while others like 7-Zip require an alternate installer.

To start, download the file from the links below. We compressed it into a 7z Self Extracting Archive (.exe). Simply double click on the file and choose where to extract to. Then run InstallPad.exe. Administrative privileges are required. After you are done selecting you want, click Install.

Download Links:
Download (MediaFire)

This pack we created offers Mozilla Firefox, Digsby*, Google Earth**, Pidgin, CCleaner, 7-Zip, Revo Uninstaller, Sandboxie, VirtualBox, and OpenOffice.org***. Adobe Flash ActiveX/plugins have also been included.

*The Digsby installer is the offline installer, not the InstallIQ one with the offers.
**This is a Google Earth standalone installer and does not include Google Updater.
***OpenOffice.org Office Suite is a large download so it may take a while.

We are unable to add some products like Google Chrome to it as it requires agreeing to the EULA first.
We have removed MalwareBytes shortly after posting this because the long CNET link was not accepted by InstallPad.
We have removed VLC Media Player shortly after posting this because InstallPad failed to download it.
If you encountered a download error with anything inside the pack, please let us know.

We will be adding a lot more software to the pack soon. What would you like to suggest to be in this pack? Leave your comments here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mozilla Ubiquity: Connect with the Web Through Language

Ever need to map something right there? Translate something? Do you have too many tabs to switch to one easily? Mozilla Labs, creator of the popular and very successful Personas add-on, has created something called Ubiquity last summer. Its goal is to allow users to access and use common Web services quickly and easily. More information can be found here.

Ubiquity can be installed from the Mozilla Labs blog link above or from Mozilla Add-ons. Ubiquity 0.5, a major update is coming mid-June. Expect a new post on the update when it comes!

Note: This is beta software. Some things may not function properly however it should work overall. Works best in Firefox 3.5+

Additional Note: Certain commands especially page rotate and image rotate rely on new abilities of Firefox 3.5 and therefore will NOT function in Firefox 3.0.

Upon installing, you will be presented with a tutorial at about:ubiquity, which is Ubiquity’s control panel. It shows some of the commands you can use known as “Subscribed Feeds.” You can also create your own at: chrome://ubiquity/content/editor.html.

UbiquityTo launch, use the shortcut key specified in about:ubiquity. By default its Ctrl+Space. It has a Mac OS X like interface.

Start typing your command in and it will run as you type.

For example, I want to translate The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog from English to Spanish. So, I will type translate The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog to spanish from english. It often can detect the language so you can leave the from part out in many cases. As you type it will update so you don’t even have to press enter. Pressing enter takes you to the service pack, which would be Google Translate here, but that's unnecessary. In the following screenshot, there are two available commands as you may choose to actually translate the phrase “to spanish” to something else, but the first result assumes you mean translate the term to spanish.

Ubiquity GT

Pretty neat right? A really big time saver!

Lets try another one. Need to search Wikipedia? No problem. Just enter wikipedia followed by your term and if you need a foreign language, just add to language.

Ubiquity Wiki

Need weather? Then just type in weather followed by your city or zip code and if you want, followed by in F or in C for Fahrenheit and Celsius. Press enter for more detailed info.

Ubiquity Weather

Ubiquity TwitterNeed to send an email? Need to update your Twitter status? Yup, Ubiquity can do all that! Here’s a screenshot for Twitter. Upon pressing enter, you will be asked for your password in a dialog window stating that Authentication is required for Twitter API.

You can also highlight text and search those terms, map it, and so much more and can also be used to run commands like switch tab, close tab, exit, restart, etc… Much much more! And very easy to learn.

Ubiquity by Mozilla Labs is an excellent and useful feature that may soon be implemented into Firefox as a built in feature. What do you think of it?

Click here to download and install Mozilla Ubiquity Now
Click here for more information

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Techsmith Snagit 7.2.5 Free License! Limited Time Offer

Need a screenshot tool? How about one from TechSmith, creator of the famous Camtasia Studio!

For a limited time (like in 2007), they are giving away free license keys to an old, but fully functional version of TechSmith Snagit. Version 7.2.5. The latest release is 9.1, but it still beats the old way of Print Scr, then pasting it somewhere.

With Snagit, you can customize the shortcut hotkey, like Print Scr, then choose various capture profiles, such as Window, Region, Full Screen, etc... Lots of other options too including Video capture and web page (scrolling too). That means you can capture the whole page regardless of its length. After capturing, it opens the built in Editor where you have plenty of options to edit. Then you can organize it by tags.

SnagIt Information Can be found here.
Note: Not all this info will necessarily applies to the old version.

Grab your free license key here at the promotional site
Download Snagit. Enter Your License Key and Enjoy!

Made possible by Covermount, although I don't know what that is.
This also entitles you to a 50% discount on upgrading to Snagit 9.1.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 is Live!

After several months of testing, Windows Vista SP2 is finally available for Live download both via Windows Update and Microsoft Download Center.

It requires Service Pack 1 installed. The download size is around 350 MB (32-bit) and 600 MB (64-bit) at Microsoft Download Center, so prepare for a long download time if you don't have a really fast internet. The size is 43 MB (32-bit) and 60 MB (64-bit) on Windows Update. It says the hundred MB but when I downloaded it, it only downloaded around 40 MB.*
* These values were received from MSDN. I estimated that it only downloaded so much because of the time it took to download in relation to my bandwidth speed.

Download Links from Download Center:
Be sure you have Windows Vista Service Pack 1 installed first.
I recommend getting it from Windows Update as the size is smaller because Windows Update only downloads what your computer needs and therefore is more efficient. However, if you are installing for a computer without internet connection or for multiple computers, the Download Center is the way to go.

Changes in Windows Vista Service Pack 2:
  • Windows Search 4.0.
  • Support for Bluetooth 2.1.
  • Data recording on Blu-ray media.
  • Simpler WiFi configuration with the Windows connect now ( WCN ).
  • Better resuming for active WiFi connections.
  • exFAT file system now supports UTC timestamps, so files can synchronize over different time zones.
  • Supports CCID / ICCD smart cards.
  • Supports 64 bit VIA CPUs.
  • Better audio and video performance for HD streaming.
  • Better Windows Media Center ( WMC ) for content protection on TV.
  • Power Management is 10% more efficient on some configurations.
Similar to Service Pack 1, don't expect too many features, if any even apply to you. Most of these can be downloaded as separate updates. For example, Windows Search 4.0 was already pushed as a update through Windows Update months ago.

Note that this update does NOT include Internet Explorer 8.

That's all folks for today! Please comment on tech as we need comments to improve on the tech guide. Don't hesitate to ask any questions. Thanks!
By - WinTechpedia™ 2009 Contributors

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Firefox Omnibar

While you could use an extension, here's an addition to my previous post on Firefox's Location Bar hidden features.

Chrome's URL bar has a lot of hype and excitement. But heres how to do it in Firefox without an add-on.

Mozilla Firefox had this feature all along. Go to your search bar and click the arrow. Then click Manage search engines.

Click on each engine and assign a keyword to it. I suggest a simple letter initial such as g for Google and w for Wikipedia.

Then head on to your URL Bar, and type in the keyword followed by a space, then your search term. If w was the keyword for wikipedia, I would type in w Mozilla Firefox, then Mozilla Firefox would be searched on Wikipedia.

Want to conserve screen space?
No problem! Just right click on the menu bar. Click customize. Drag the search bar into that window and voila! Omnibar! No add-ons needed!

Full details can be found in this video. Click here to watch on YouTube. Watch in HD if possible.

That's all folks for today! Please comment on tech as we need comments to improve on the tech guide. Don't hesitate to ask any questions. Thanks!
By - WinTechpedia™ 2009 Contributors

Saturday, May 23, 2009

11 Totally Free Apps You Should Try

Wondering what software you should try? Well, you’ve come to the right place. These are names of 11 free ones we recommend. These selections are solely based on our opinions. If you have a program that you recommend, leave a comment in the comments section. Here they are in alphabetical order. The following are mainly for Microsoft Windows. Check their website for system requirements. Some programs might not be compatible with 64-bit operating systems. See the publisher’s site for details. We are not recommending any antimalware program or browser add-on here. All features we mention here are available in the product’s free version.


File Manager and Compression: Having trouble opening .rar? Don’t want to spend so much on programs like WinZip and WinRAR? Try 7-Zip! This free and open source utility is simple, yet extremely powerful. Unpack a variety of different file types including 7Z, ISO, RAR, ZIP, and much more. Create archives, even SFX (self extracting) and password protected ones. It can also be used as a powerful file manager. Windows only with a command line port for Mac OS X and Linux. Read our post on 7-Zip for more details. Alternatives include IZArc. Paid alternatives include WinZip and WinRAR.

7-Zip FM


Computer Optimization: Too much junk on your computer? Not sure whats safe to delete? The freeware CCleaner does it all for you. Check a few boxes, then click Analyze and Clean. That’s it. You might be surprised how much you can clean. Be careful with the areas marked Advanced. Leave them alone if you don’t know what you’re doing. CCleaner also includes an uninstaller, startup manager, system restore, registry cleaner, and more. Read out post on CCleaner for more details. Note: Like many programs, by default during installation, a box for Install Yahoo! Toolbar to run CCleaner from browser is checked. If you do not wish to have Yahoo! Toolbar, like me, simply uncheck the box.



Multi-Protocol Chat Client: Forget those single protocol clients and go with something that can connect to them all and more! Digsby stands out of them all, not only because its completely free, but it has email notification and social networking newsfeed built in! Compose email right from the interface in the chat windows, elegant tabbed interface with drag and drop to new windows or rearrange, set social networking status, and much much more! Other features include quick reply notification, full log viewer, merged contacts, and more. Its free and ad free!
Note: In order to get funding for the development of this ad free program, Digbsy’s main installer uses a third-party installer known as InstallIQ. This offers a lot of useless junkware. Simply press Decline if you do not wish to have the extra software. You do NOT have to press Accept on anything but the one that is for Digsby itself. Alternatively, you may use another installer (not third party) which is found by clicking on the "here” button in the fine text after clicking the operating system where it says if you have trouble. Or you can click here to download the alternate installer right now. Read about this alternate installer and the program at my review of Digsby here. Read about their revenue methods here. Currently Windows only. Alternatives include Pidgin and Trillian. Paid alternatives include Trillian Pro.


Gadwin PrintScreen:

Screenshot Utility: Sure, you can press Print Screen then paste it into programs like Paint, but thats way too slow and inefficient. Windows Vista and Windows 7 include a Screen Snippet tool but its still not very efficient. Gadwin PrintScreen is here. The free version doesn’t have an editor but you can set it to automatically open your favorite image editor such as GIMP or Paint.NET. Attractive interface and powerful features. Paid Pro version which does have an editor available too. Paid alternatives include Techsmith SnagIt.

Gadwin PrintScr


Image Manipulation Tool: Want Photoshop? Don’t want to spend so much? Try the free and open source GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)! This program lets you touch up images and add special cool effects to it. It might be confusing at first, but its very easy to use. Easily create animated .gif images. There are way too many features to explain them all. Try it for yourself and find out! Great free alternative to Photoshop. Alternatives include Paint.NET. Paid alternatives include Adobe Photoshop.


Google Earth: 

Virtual Earth Viewer: Love traveling and exploring new places? Google has created an amazing and popular program known as Google Earth. This free program lets you view aerial images of the Earth with some 3D building models as well as street view! Thats not all. You can also go on a Flight Stimulator, Sky Mode, and more! Version 5.0 adds going underwater and Google Mars as well as Historic View! This program requires a lot of RAM especially video RAM. If you don’t meet high Video RAM, it will still work, however the oceans will not be animated. Even if you don’t meet the top notch requirements (like me, I don’t meet video RAM), just meet the minimum requirements, and the program should be very enjoyable. Like many Google products, they have a tradition of easter eggs and April Fools pranks (such as CADIE, which was actually quite fun). Can you find them? Pro version designed by commercial use available too.

Google Earth

Mozilla Firefox: 

Web Browser: Award winning browser that gives you security, speed, and full customization. Thousands of add-ons to customize your experience. Want a feature or looks? Maybe there’s an add-on or theme for that, such as the new Personas add-on! Dozens of security features such as Instant Web ID. Hundreds of more features, such as the Awesome bar. Type any part of anything and it will search for history, bookmarks, and if you hit enter from there and its not a complete URL, it will search on the default engine like other browsers, however, your term is a keyword, so if you type in for example, weather it will automatically go to weather.com skipping the search results. While it might not be as fast as some other browsers, we would prefer a bunch of unobtrusive features over a slight speed boost any day. Alternatives include Opera and Google Chrome.

Mozilla Firefox

Revo Uninstaller:

Clean Uninstaller: You might be asking. What’s the point of this? An uninstaller? Erm.. doesn’t Windows have this already? Wrong. Programs, especially security programs, are a pain to uninstall. They want you to think that they have fully uninstalled but is that true? Revo Uninstaller now only runs the program’s built in uninstaller, it also runs a scan of your registry and computer for any remaining files. Then you can choose which registry entries or files to delete. A system restore point is always made beforehand. Very efficient and powerful. This program also comes with a startup manager, traces cleaner, tools manager, unrecoverable secure delete tool, and more.

Revo Uninstaller


Isolated Sandbox Environment: Run programs. Test programs. Without ever making any permanent changes to your computer. Integrating with Windows Explorer’s right click menu you can run any program in Sandboxie where it will write to data to a sandbox environment. Easily delete this data at any time. Very useful program. Unlike virtualization tools, this only runs one program in a sandbox rather than a whole new operating system. After 30 days using the free version, you will see a nag screen for the paid version however you can continue using the program normally. Programs running in Sandbox are marked by [#] in the titlebar. You can even run .exe installers in Sandbox to install onto Sandbox to try some programs. Plus version available.


Sun xVM VirtualBox:

Virtualization Tool: Need to virtualize an operating system? Want to test a new operating system without partitioning and dual booting? Well, there are many virtualization choices out there, but this one stands out, not only because its completely free and open source, but the performance is great. While it might not run as great as the pricey VMware, its free! Multi-platform both as the host and the guest system. Run multiple operating system on top of your main (host) one. Very easy to configure. Test programs on other operating systems in a mostly isolated environment. Note: Like all virtualization tools, even VMware, this will not support the Windows Aero interface available in Windows Vista and Windows 7 because the virtualized video card does not support the WDDM Driver and DirectX 9.0 (some tools like VMware support DX9 but not WDDM). Alternatives include the free VMware Server. Paid alternatives include VMware Workstation.

Credit for the following screenshot goes to Sun Microsystems.

VLC Media Player:

Media Player: Ever have trouble playing media files of certain file types like .ogg. Need a simple media player? The free open source VLC Media Player is here to help. Play nearly every single media file type. The program is very simple. Opening file types can be a bit harder than typical media players. It can be skinned however I will warn that the behavior is completely unpredictable when you do so. But this is a wonderful media player that is worth a try!

VLC Media Player

So there you have it. 11 programs for Microsoft Windows and possibly other systems too that we urge you to try. Got a program that you want us to try and perhaps blog about? Leave a comment in the comments section or contact us through the contact form. I have personally tested all of the above software and they all work perfectly. Performance varies depending on your system specifications.