This week's edition of the Freeware Files may seem a little unusual, but hear me out. A number of you faithful Freeware Files readers are going to be receiving (or have received) awesome gifts from Santa/your parents/Best Buy this holiday season. Trust me--I checked the list myself. Caught up in the frenzy of new toys, phones, and gaming devices to play with, you've probably neglected your poor ol' PC for the time being.
A number of the goodies you're playing with actually have unique little third-party tricks for interfacing directly with your desktop or laptop. Yes, that's right. You can actually use the non-computer components and devices from your living room or pocket to enhance your normal PC use. And these aren't just little remote desktop hacks that let you see your PC's screen on your phone or something. I'm talking about hacks that blur the line between your PC and your game controllers or phones, unlocking new usefulness for your desktop system with devices that are anything but.
So, if you're the proud owner of one of these products, click the jump and see how you can use them to enhance your PC experience:
Although USB flash drives have become the most popular way to transport project files between systems, you're probably looking for a cheaper way to distribute presentations, music, photo, or video compilations. For these jobs and others, creating a CD or DVD make more sense. However, there's plenty of confusion at home and the office when it comes to what media to choose and how to write your files.
Read on to discover our ultimate guide to CD and DVD media, burn strategies, and freeware CD and DVD burning programs.
PC gaming isn't dead, and you know it. Just take a look at the new games available on Steam or populating the shelves at Target. The sheer number of excellent PC games released this holiday season is a testament to the strength of the platform. From high-profile blockbusters like Batman: Arkham Asylum to critical darlings like Torchlight, there's no shortage of quality content to keep you gaming through the new year. We pick out 22 of the best PC games you can buy right now (many of them already discounted as a part of holiday deals), and spotlight several indie gems that cost under $10. We also name 8 highly-anticipated games coming out in the first part of 2010.
Read on for proof that PC gaming still has a lot of fight left in it. And be sure to let us know what your favorite PC games of 2009 have been, what you've bought this holiday season, and what you're looking forward to as well!
Downloading video isn't rocket science, but it sure can feel that way sometimes. First, you have to figure out what kind of video it is you're trying to snag from cyberspace. Then there's the question of what to do with it once you've downloaded the clip to your hard drive. And that's assuming you even got that far, fetching Flash-based content isn't as simple as mashing a 'download' button, nor will it play in Windows Media Player. In fact, there's' a good chance the video you downloaded won't play on your portable device, either.
The underlying problem with video playback is there isn't a single universal standard. There are as many file containers as there are handheld digital devices, and don't even get us started on codecs.
Is this all starting to sound foreign to you? Don't worry if it is, on the following the pages we're going to show you the ins and outs of video playback. We'll start with the basics, like explaining what a file container is and why it matters, and then move on to more advanced topics, such as how to convert just about any video clip into a format that's compatible with your mobile device. We'll also show you how to handle subtitles, enable GPU Flash acceleration, and a whole lot more.
There's an untold bounty of awesome available on the Internet, and it's all free, free, FREE! From applications and games to movie tickets and mattresses, we'll show you what's safe and steer you away from the unsavory.
As inhabitants of the Internet, we’ve become so inured to the hyperbolic advertising and questionable offers that we miss the incredible values that are ripe for the taking. If you know where to look, you can find all sorts of awesome stuff available for the low, low cost of $0. Whether you’re looking for a great image management app, free AAA games, or the proverbial free lunch, we can tell you where to find it. But wait, there’s more! We’ll also show you three things that seem free, but really aren’t.
Ahh, batteries. The bane of any laptop user. It always feels like you just never have enough juice to finish whatever it is you're trying to do on your portable PC. And as the minutes count down on you notebook's battery estimation, you do everything you can to squeeze working time out of your laptop. You crank down the brightness to a near-dusk level. You disable the Wi-Fi in the hope that the Web pages you've physically downloaded will be enough to allow you to finish your work. You even quit out of as many applications and extra processes as you can think of to terminate--maybe a more idle CPU will make for an extra minute or three.
While doing the "Battery Dance" is an unavoidable part of portable computing, you don't always have to be caught off-guard by the ol' low battery warning. Not only are there a handful of applications that give you more details about your remaining battery life than Windows' default notifications, but there are also a bunch of utilities that you can use to squeak as much time out of your laptop battery as possible. Even better, a few of these utilities even automate this process in the background--you won't have to click a single button to reap the benefits of their tweaks.
Provided you still have some juice left in your laptop, click the jump. With luck, we'll be able to get you some extra battery life so you can finish the article...
No power user runs Windows with just stock settings; the plethora of third-party PC utilities is an embarrassment of riches. But what about Microsoft's own contributions? Tools like SyncToy and Pro Photos are pretty well known, but there's actually a wealth of advanced tools buried in the Sysinternals section of Microsoft's Technet site for IT professionals.
The Sysinternals site hosts some of the most powerful Windows utilities you can find. Yet surprisingly, not too many people know about them, since TechNet is primarily a System Administrator resource. Whether you're looking for more powerful ways to find out what's under the hood of Windows, need help creating VHD images for use with virtualization hosts, or just wanting to play a joke on your co-workers, these little-known utilities have you covered. We cherry pick and explain the features of the ten most useful Sysinternals tools, and then show you the best of the rest.
Read on to dive into this awesome stash of Microsoft-sanctioned tools and tweakers for Windows XP, Vista, and 7!
When you get right down to it, Dropbox is a pretty simple app. It syncs folders—that’s it. But what makes Dropbox amazing is the sheer number of different ways you can use that functionality, by itself or in conjunction with other programs, to improve your computing experience. We like Dropbox so much that we’ve written about it severaltimesbefore, and we still haven’t gotten to every cool thing you can do with the program.
That’s why, in this article, we’re going to share with you a whopping 15 things that we think everyone should know about Dropbox, from how to get extra storage for free to how to use Dropbox to control your Bittorrent client.
For example, do you know how to hack Dropbox to accept email attachments?
Printing digital photographs seems so last century.
These days, we all carry at least one smart device, whether it’s an iPhone, a Zune, an MID, or something else. We all use Facebook. And those with a more serious photographic bent might also use an online photo service like Flickr or SmugMug. Indeed, a vast array of methods for showing off your photography without actually handing someone a print now exists.
There are good reasons, however, to have photographic prints—even in the 21st century. Grandparents and other family members often like to have something to put in a frame that they can hang on a wall. Another other reason is size. There’s something compelling about a really large print—8x10 inches or beyond. An iPod or laptop screen might be an acceptable replacement for the common 4x6- or even 5x7-inch print. But holding up a 13x19-inch print suddenly makes a half-decent photograph seem almost like a work of art.
So, for those times when you want a print, what’s the best way to get it? Is it worth paying $400 or more for a large-format printer, and then paying again and again for the ink? What about large-volume or professional online photo-printing services? Are they cost-effective, and can those prints measure up to a good-quality home printer? And how about those photo kiosks you find in places like Target and many grocery stores?
What a difference $500 makes. With $1500, building a gaming PC means being as lean as possible, sacrificing a little here and there to bump the important components to the next tier. But with $2000, your options really open up. The extra dough means you can start considering a solid-state drive or dual-GPU solution. Getting the most bang for your buck is always a consideration, but two grand means you can splurge for cutting-edge components that are priced for early adopters. It also means you have to think about your system's upgrade path, since you don't want to spend so much on a rig with nowhere to go in two years. Lynnfield or Bloomfield? SSD or high-capacity storage? Nvidia or ATI? There are a few no-brainers in our $2000 parts pick, but also a few surprises as well.
So, what's the best gaming system you can get for $2000?