How strong is your Wi-Fi signal? Or, more importantly, how strong is your neighbor’s Wi-Fi signal? Where do you have to be to leech, er, acquire the best free Wi-Fi signal in your general surroundings? At your favorite strip mall? Outside of the local Starbucks?
Anyone can grab a Wi-Fi sniffer and go wardriving around to find the best possible signal for your personal or business use–that’s easy. Heck, you can even do that in Windows if you don’t mind staring at (and constantly refreshing) the tiny little “bars of service” meter in your wireless connections window. But this week’s “App of the Week” does a bit more than tell you the networks that give you the best signal, or when you might have acquired said signal in your trips around town. No, the app I’m profiling will actually go and map your connectivity as visualized “hot zones” overtop any map you’d like to use.
TIE Fighter is the single greatest game ever created; that fact is undeniable, so let’s not even bother trying to address it in a flurry of comments to this post. Case closed.
The problem? This is 2010. TIE Fighter came out in 1994. We’ve seen great changes in the computing industry within that sixteen-year gap: The growth of the multi-core platform. The death of the space-sim genre. And the uber-death of those strange contraptions called, “joysticks,” which one would use in said space games to fly about and rip things up with lasers or what-have-you.
Do I plan to go out and purchase a joystick just to play a sixteen-year old title? Or, for that matter, any game in the space-sim (or racing!) genre that requires such a device? No. That would require effort and money. And why should you invest those in a retail product when applications like PPJoy can give you exactly what you need to play such titles using the very devices that already sit at your fingertips!
I’m a sucker for automation at Maximum PC – If I can’t find some kind of application that will automatically perform all the time-sucking computer tasks that I like (or would like) to do, then I just haven’t done my job correctly. Now, was there only an app to automate the process of finding these apps… but I digress.
This week’s download of the week carries on in the spirit of “don’t lift a finger to accomplish a task” kinds of applications by giving you a super-quick way to transform videos from one format into another. There’s just one caveat—two, technically. You have to have Handbrake installed and, more importantly, you kind of have to know what you’re doing.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. If you're one of the many, many people contributing to making the World Cup one of the most Internet-draining events yet to occur, then you're probably deaf. No, really. I speak, of course, to the ever-present vuvuzela horn--that clarion call of annoyance that's the subject of countless Internet memes and angry messages between soccer fans worldwide.
Obviously, a freeware solution is in order. And while you might not have expected it to come from a company like Stardock, creators of the popular Impulse download service, Fences, WindowsBlinds, and other such useful system apps, the company has nevertheless dug deep to develop a solution for your auditory woes.
I don't exactly know how often you take screenshots. As you might guess, I take a ton of screenshots--far more, on a weekly basis, than I'd ever care to take. But I'm not here to brag. I'm here to show you how you can take screenshots with greater detail and precision than the ol' default technique: Jamming print screen, saving a huge bitmap file, downloading an open-source photo editing program, cropping it, saving it, and... doing it all again.
Seriously though, that's the typical process I go through in order to snap pics of applications and what-have-you. You shouldn't have to spend this much time just to snap pics of your desktop. Thankfully, due to a fun little open-source application, you won't have to.
I realize that it seems somewhat self-serving to have both a Firefox extension of the week and a download of the week feature that, itself, references Firefox. If that's too much alternative browser craziness for you, allow me to apologize in advance. However, this week, I'm taking a look at a unique little variant of the Firefox Web browser that is pretty similar in its overall look and feel to normal Firefox.
I won't bury the lede: Firefox has no official 64-bit version of the browser. Or, rather, Mozilla itself only releases a 32-bit binary for said application. Thus, it has fallen to third-party developers to fashion up a proper x64 version of the popular Web surfing tool and, of course, they have! That's this week's Download of the Week...click the jump to hear about all the juicy details.
Unless you have some super-fancy configuration set up, odds are good that you--like most--default to Windows Media Player as your multimedia software of choice for playing just about anything that comes across your system. There's no shame in that. While a number of freeware tools support more codecs and/or file formats, and come bundled with other fun features and extensive customizations, it's alright to admit that you use Windows' built-in tool for the job.
In fact, you might very well have found yourself quite fond of your operating system's default media player. That's alright too. I'm not about to show or suggest third-party tools that might add confusion to your routine. Instead, you might want to check out a little chunk of software called Windows Media Player Plus! This app--really, a series of plugins--isn't a replacement for Windows Media Player. It simply builds free enhancements into Windows Media Player to give you even more options to tinker with and features to enjoy.
Sometimes, a particular application comes along that is just so groundbreaking, so interesting, so... kick ass... that it deserves its own special mention in a separate, "you must download this app right now" kind of article. While I write a number of these such stories-weekly updates of interesting little programs you might want to check out if you have a spare moment-rarely do I so vehemently demand that you grab an application and download it. Immediately.\
Instant Elevator Music is that kind of an application.
Installing a password onto your default user account in Windows 7 is one of the best--and easiest--ways to keep average folk from messing around with your system. However, if you don't often have said "folk" around to bother with your PC, you might be tempted to relax your own security settings for convenience's sake.
After all, locking down your Windows account means that you'll never be able to just hit your power button and brew a coffee while your system boots. To get into the real meat of your operating system's boot process, you'll have to hover around your system and enter your password to continue onward. That's not the most frustrating of situations, however, it does become a pain if you're ever running a huge batch of downloads that's set to restart your system when it's done--or updates, for that matter. Or, worse, if your system just takes forever to boot.
Simply put, you'll never be able to just one-shot it to your desktop. Your own security settings prevent that... until now!
Since its inception, the Window Recycle bin has operated with one purpose in mind: holding your stuff. As well, the recycle bin has always come with a super-bonus feature that, when activated, sends said stuff into the digital ether of your hard drive--or, technically, it marks the location of said stuff as "free space" on your hard drive, rendering said location available for an overwrite at some indeterminate point in the future.
There goes the joke.
Anyway, that's about it. You can send things to the Recycle Bin and you can delete things from the Recycle Bin. End of story. But thankfully--and finally--there's a piece of freeware that extends the usefulness of this digital trash pile just a wee bit past its original intention. It's not a monumental shift or crazy new feature, just a little, necessary tweak to an old friend.