Are you ready for some f... reeware? It's Super Bowl weekend at Maximum PC, and we're doing all we can to find you the best, quick-hit freeware applications that will make a profound difference in your computing life. It's hard to manage the grill and install freeware, so we're giving you a mix this week: Tiny applications that don't require much of your input at all to interact with, as well as a pretty big application or two that should easily distract you if football-watching isn't your thing. We're covering a lot of field this week with our applications. Be prepared to check out everything from efficient file unzippers, to 3D designing programs, to pretty desktop RSS feed readers.
So what are you waiting for? Put on your helmet and get into the freeware huddle, champ! John Madden not included.
What it does: This handy little file archiving utility comes in 32- and 64-bit versions. With it, you can create a decent number of compressed archives, including support for ZIP, TAR, and 7Z archives. You can also use the program to unpack a larger number of file archives. We appreciate PeaZip's simplicity, including its ability to populate your right-click context menu with archiving options, as well as the installable and portable versions of the application. Slap this on a USB key and you'll be set for all your archiving needs!
What it does: Tired of mucking around with boot CDs of Linux environments just to get your backup/restore open-source apps to function correctly? That's where Macrium Reflect comes into play. Unlike applications like DriveImage XML, which require you to boot into a BartPE environment just to operate the clone and restoration features, Macrium Reflect creates a Linux-based rescue disc for you. It's an elegant solution for running a backup process analogous to Norton Ghost without, you know, having to purchase Norton Ghost.
What it does: Nothing says "I hate football" than teaching yourself to use a 3D modeling application. You don't need to spend big bucks for expensive suites if you're trying to teach yourself how to get started in this unique field. DAZ Studio is a fully-functional modeling application that comes with quite few tutorials to get you started. Give it a whirl, and you'll be recreating your favorite World of Warcraft cutscenes before you know it.
What it does: This application gives the big middle finger to iTunes, as it combines contextual information like lyrics and album art into an easy-to-use media player application. We like the player's ability to integrate a variety of Internet services into the player itself, like Last.fm music or random, cool Internet radio streams. You can further customize this media player by adding applets to appear in the application's various menus. Sure beats iTunes, which you can... not really customize at all.
What it does: This elegant RSS reader pulls in the information of the various feeds you've described to. It outputs the data on a scrollable desktop bar that looks like the lovechild of a cable news ticker and the Windows Sidebar. And that's it! It's a perfect way to visualize the data that would otherwise just float into a boring ol' folder in your favorite e-mail client, or bookmark on your Web browser of choice, et cetera.