Use all of your older, DOS-based software on your modern computer with DOSBox DOS Emulator

dosbox-iconBack in the day, text based applications were all the rage, largely because graphics adapters hadn’t really seen a lot of innovation yet. At the time, there were some really powerful productivity apps like Dbase and WordPerfect for DOS that did a great job but weren’t very sexy.  Using older software like that isn’t always possible with today’s much faster, much more sophisticated computers. This is why I like DOSBox DOS Emulator.  It’s a cool Windows utility.

DOSBox is a DOS-emulator that uses the SDL-library.  This makes it very easy to access and port DOS based applications to other platform use. You can use DOSBox not only on Windows, but on BeOS, Linux, MacOS X to name a few.

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DOSBox emulates an Intel compatible 286/386 processor PC in both real mode and protected modes, It supports Directory File System/XMS/EMS, Tandy/Hercules/CGA/EGA/VGA/VESA graphics and a SoundBlaster/Gravis Ultra Sound card for excellent sound compatibility with older games.  Provided you have access to drives that can read older media types – 5.25″ and 3.5″ floppies, for example: – you can use the app to run just about any DOS based application you can get your digital hands on.

The application is interesting to say the least.  Finding applications that are still accessible isn’t easy, but you can check the app’s home page and its Compatiblity page for a list of games and apps that you might be able to find download links for.  The application is free; and you may be required to roll up your sleeves and dig into the command prompt a bit in order to get the most value out of it.  In today’s modern computing environments, those not comfortable with Terminal or the Windows Command Prompt may find DOSBox DOS Emulator a bit intimidating.

download DOSBox DOS Emulator

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Burn, edit, backup, rip, convert and play your media with Nero 12

Nero12Over the past few years, the biggest influx of consumer data has been in the area of multimedia. More than anything else, the increase in popularity of smartphones, tablets, digital cameras etc. have created a huge increase in the use and demand for multimedia – pictures, music, and video. This is one of the biggest reasons why I like Nero 12. Its one of the best optical media utilities available for Windows today.

With Nero 12, you can burn, edit, backup, rip, convert & play all of your multimedia. It’s one of the most-complete multimedia suites ever. You can use it to format your media for use with all of your computing devices.

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Nero 12 allows you to stream your movies, photo slideshows and music playlists throughout your home network. Nero uses the latest high-quality video formats to convert, edit and burn your data. The app supports streaming to your XBOX 360™, PS3™, Android tablet, PC, digital media adaptor, streaming-enabled TV, or other DLNA- or UPnP-supporting devices. Nero 12 supports virtually all the latest video formats, including AVC/264, MKV, MP4, 3GP, AVI.

The result of Nero’s support for burning and streaming is disaster-proof data; and Nero is Windows 8 compatible. It takes only seconds to schedule an automatic backup with Nero LIVEBackup in Nero BackItUp 12. Now, you can back up to hard drives larger than 2 TB. Nero also supports USB 3.0 storage devices. Should your destination be optical media, Nero supports burning to CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray.

Nero 12 is a great application; and one of my favorite multimedia burning suites. I’ve used it for years. While the app supports Windows 8, streaming, and nearly any multimedia format you’d be interested in, it is quite pricey, and there are other, suites that you may find more affordable. If cost isn’t a huge issue, then this is probably the best optical media app you can invest in.

Download Nero 12

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TuneUp360

Protect and repair your PC with this cool Windows utility.

tuneup360Taking care of your PC isn’t always easy. There’s no end to things that can go wrong. That’s why I like apps like TuneUp360. It’s a complete toolbox utility for Windows.

Half the time when things go wrong with your computer, determining the cause is most of the work. TuneUp360 makes easy work of diagnosing and fixing various system errors with its intelligent error knowledge base. With it, you can prevent computer freezes and crashes by comprehensively fixing various system errors, system conflicts and misconfigurations.

TuneUp360 protects your internet security and privacy by tuning your computer’s security settings to close up backdoors that can be hijacked by viruses, Trojans, and spyware. You can dramatically speed up your computer and internet by fixing all issues slowing your surfing down. When you’re done surfing, TuneUp360 can cover your tracks, by eliminating your browsing history and surfing habits.

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If your PC’s registry is bloated, TuneUp360’s Redundancy Cleaner can clean your computer’s unnecessary and useless registry entries. This, in conjunction with its PC Stability Checker helps improve your PC’s stability by scanning your Windows, registry and application errors. It will even help you optimize system services and release more resources for Windows and other running software.

Download TuneUp360

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Run a guest OS on your PC with VMware Workstation

vmware-workstation-logoRunning the application you need on your computer isn’t always as easy as you might think. Yes, a native app may exist for your OS of choice, but if it doesn’t or if you need to keep your OS free of clutter, things get complicated. Getting access to the cloud can also be challenging. This is one reason why I like VMWare Workstation. It’s a virtual workstation manager for Windows.

VMware Workstation is cloud capable and cloud aware. VMware Workstation’s operating system support, user experience, feature set and performance will dramatically change the way you work with virtual machines. It’s one of the best companion apps for any technical professional as they move to the cloud.

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One of the most popular reasons why corporate customers use a virtual machine is to evaluate the next generation operating system.  With VMware, you can install, say, Windows 8 and give users access to it, without actually upgrading a specific machine or risking introducing an undesirable user experience into the enterprise.  The latest version of VMware Workstation is optimized for running Windows 8 on Windows PCs. Its Easy Install feature simplifies the task of creating Windows 8 virtual machines. Its Unity mode will intelligently scale windows with Metro applications and multi-touch support will ensure you get the true Windows 8 experience in a virtual machine.

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One of the BEST reasons why you’d use VMware Workstation is its new web interface. It allows you to access your virtual machines from a tablet, smart phone, PC or any device with a modern browser. No plugins or special add-ins are necessary. Now you can power on, off, or suspend your virtual machines and interact with them from almost anywhere.

Using a virtual machine on your computer is one of the best ways to use incompatible applications. It also makes it easy to keep your PC free from poorly written apps or apps that don’t uninstall cleanly. VMware wrote the book on virtual machines and is one of the BEST ways to accomplish these tasks.

The biggest problems with VMware are that it’s expensive and complicated to setup and use. At $250 for a single workstation license, you need to make sure you take advantage of its 30 day trial before you buy.  It’s also a very complicated application to setup and configure. Many consumer users will need to either seek assistance from the help file, printed documentation or support forums to insure that they get the best performance out of the app. Please note that I’ve given this app a low usability rating because of its level of complexity.

download VMware Workstation

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Ballmer – Office for iPad – Kinda, sorta, maybe, not really…

Office for iPadYour guess on whether MS will release Office for iPad is as good as anyone’s…

What follows is a brief rant on the Office for iPad rumors that have been circulating for a few years.

First there was a screen shot, then a denial, and then a confirmation. Then a retraction and then the rumors started up again with the release of Office 2013 and Office 365. The latest word on the street is that Office for iPad – thought to be called Office Mobile – is a definite maybe; and Ballmer may be the one to put the kibosh on the whole ordeal.

I’m sorry… at this point, Microsoft needs to come out and either say yes or no to the Office for iOS rumors and put the speculation to rest. They aren’t doing themselves any favors, and with the way some of the headlines and tag lines are reading, Steve Ballmer isn’t doing himself any favors either.

According to an article by ComputerWorld, Steve Ballmer is putting the kibosh on the whole project himself. Apparently, Microsoft has an issue with Apple taking 30% of the cut on the app. While I don’t blame them – who would want to give another company 30 cents on every dollar they make on the sale of any given product – all of the speculation around MS Office for iOS really needs to stop.

In my opinion, Microsoft needs to come out with a firm statement on the development of the app. Is it in the works or not? Then they need to figure out a way of delivering it. The problem is obviously Apple’s 30% cut on the sale of the app as well as 30% of all in-app purchases. There’s probably a way to crack that nut; but I’m not 100% familiar with Apple’s rules on paid vs. free apps, subscriptions in apps, etc. in their iOS Developer Agreement.

I think the easiest way around this is to make Office Mobile a free Office document reader. If you want to edit, documents, you’ll need to sign into your Office 365 account, which will, of course, require a subscription. If that’s not 100% compliant, then there may not be a way for Microsoft to deliver the solution without paying Apple 30%, or negotiating a new deal for the app, which I’m nearly certain Apple isn’t going to do.

Any way you slice it, Microsoft needs to make a decision – Office Mobile for iOS yes, or Office Mobile for iOS no. Either way, they need to make a decision, communicate it and then follow through. All of the rumor crap that’s going on and the “Office through a browser” crap that Ballmer is currently suggesting needs to get resolved.

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Corel VideoStudio Pro

Quickly create professional styled video with this easy to use Windows application.

CorelEveryone is taking video today. Nearly everyone that I know has a smartphone or has access to a smartphone. As such, they’ve got digital photos and, more importantly, video clips flying all over the place. This is one of the biggest reasons why I like applications like Corel Video Studio Pro. It’s a video editing application for Windows.

Corel VideoStudio Pro is a powerful video-editing application, and has screen recording, built in. Its an all-in-one, video editor that provides editing, advanced effects, interactive web video and total disc authoring into a single package. The app is fast and packed with intuitive tools, that let you create family movies and slideshows, fun, stop motion animations, and screen recordings of presentations, tutorials and more. You can tap into the full power of your multi-core processor and share your creations everywhere with native HTML5 video support, or enhanced DVD and Blu-ray authoring.

Once you’ve got your creations completed, you can quickly share them online, or burn a professional quality DVD/ Blu-ray disk complete with menus, titles and transitions. Corel VideoStudio Pro has a huge template library. You can choose from a variety of Instant Projects, drop in your content and make a movie in minutes. You can drag your media and graphics onto the Timeline, add effects, transitions and more. You can reveal or hide tracks, zoom in and out, or customize the Timeline to your liking. VSP makes it very easy once you get a handle on the workflow.

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Corel VideoStudio Pro is a really cool app. It makes creating video less complicated than other apps and is fun to use. Non-experienced users may have a little bit of trouble getting used to the workflow and some of the tools, but it’s not difficult once you get going. If you have a lot of video and want to pull it all together into a disc that can be passed or sent to relatives or simply want to keep a hard copy record that can be viewed from any set top player, this is a decent choice for the task.

Download Corel VideoStudio Pro

 

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Office 365 – Is Office Online the Right Choice for You?

Office 2013 and the latest release of Office 365, Microsoft’s Online Office Suite, are available starting today. Are they right for you?

I’ve been using Microsoft Office 2013 since it became available for Microsoft TechNET subscribers in the Summer of 2012.  The suite is pretty decent, with updates to all of the major apps in the suite.  The big question though – is it worth the upgrade price?

The answer is actually simpler than you might think – That depends.  You have a couple different choices with the latest incarnations of Microsoft’s cash cow that give you some decent flexibility. I take a quick look at both of these from a very high level in this two part blog series.

Office 2013

3With office 2013, you get the traditional experience you’re used to with the MS Office suite, including the price points.  Office 2013 Home & Student is $139.99, Home & Business is $219.99, and Professional Plus is $499.99. While the most reliable options, in terms of access and use, they are the most expensive.  This has been, perhaps the single biggest problem with Microsoft Office – its cost; and Microsoft has been searching for pricing alternatives for quite some time.

All of the applications have received considerable updates from their 2010 counterparts.  The single, largest noticeable feature is that they are skinned for Windows 8.  Their flat 2D look clashes with the Aero powered desktop of Windows 7 and Windows Vista. However, all the apps seemed to have gotten huge performance boost with the 2013 edition, even on Windows 7.

Of all the aps, I use Outlook the most.  I think Outlook 2013 for Windows is perhaps the best version of Outlook I’ve ever used.  The app is clean, responsive, and stable.  It works like you’d expect Outlook to work, and doesn’t seem to have any strange or unusual bugs, though the Exchange Server I connect to doesn’t have all of the services (like booking meeting resources and rooms) active.

If you used the preview version of Office 2013 at all, then you’re going to see pretty much the same experience with the released version as in the Preview.  It was stable to begin with.  The released version really did nothing more than add fit and polish to an already stable code base.

Microsoft Office 2013 is available through a number of brick and mortar and online stores and is currently for PC only. The comparable Mac version won’t be available for at least another 12-18
months.

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CyberLink Media Suite – All You Need to Enrich Your Digital Life

CMS10If you’re like me, then you have digital media coming out of your ears – photos, music, video – and more coming nearly every day. It’s not always easy to manage when items are coming at you from all directions. That’s one of the reasons why I like CyberLink Media Suite. It’s a media management tool for Windows.

CyberLink Media Suite is a 10-in-1 software suite featuring PowerDVD for movie playback, PowerDirector for video editing, PowerProducer for DVD authoring, Power2Go DVD burner and 7 other, additional CyberLink apps, including CyberLink WaveEditor for editing your digital audio. It’s an all-in-one DVD & Blu-ray Media suite that allows users to view and work with HD content, including Blu-ray.

One of the biggest things in HD TV as of late is 3D. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of 3D content out there to be had. With PowerDVD, you can use TrueTheater 3D to transform 2D Blu-ray videos into 3D movies in real time. PowerDVD also works wonders for SD DVD’s, too. TrueTheater HD up-converts your DVD’s and vides to near-HD quality. Your SD movie collection is now free of pixilation and other distracting artifacts.

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If you have an HD video camera, PowerDVD is the ultimate media player for viewing your HD videos right on your PC. You can watch AVCHD home videos captured on your camcorder or MKV and FLV files. PowerDVD also supports two new 3D formats – MVC Transport Stream 3D (M2TS) and MK3D – in addition to MVC 1080i 3D PowerDVD also supports quality of 5.1 channels Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD soundtracks for truly HD quality entertainment

When it comes to your digital photo collection, CyberLink Media Suite has you covered there too. You can use MediaShow to organize all of your photos and home videos. You can sort items by date, album or people. MediaShow automatically organizes your photos and videos into a calendar view by the date they were shot.

Once in MediaShow, you can use its FaceMe technology to identify and tag people in your collection. The app is surprisingly accurate. Once faces are tagged, MediaShow makes it easy to locate every photo that a person appears in.

Download CyberLink Media Suite

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