Artweaver – a simple freeware program for creative painting

Available since 2009, but only recently issuing a first stable release Artweaver 3.0.2 is a painting application addressing the needs of beginners and advanced users alike. Similar to Adobe Photoshop or Corel Paint, it is a joy to work and play with.

It comes in two versions; the freeware version, for non-commercial use, contains cut-down functionality and is available for two weeks. Artweaver Plus costs 29€ and includes many more features, in particular around customisations and configuration. Both versions include saving and playing back events, which is a great way of recording and playing back your greatest brush strokes.

There is something very attractive about this product: you can record all your steps and replay them afterwards or provide them to other users.

Painting and drawing is great fun with Artweaver and its comprehensive digital toolset. It is easy to work with and low cost. We think the authors have got it right and that the free version will draw new users into buying Artweaver Plus, even though there great competitor freeware artwork packages out there.

Download Artweaver

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Keep hackers and data thieves out of your computer with ZoneAlarm Free

While more people use antivirus and antispyware software now than they used to, that software may not offer you the full level of protection you need. A firewall is the third point to your security triangle that will protect you while you surf the web.

A firewall acts as a bouncer to your computer. Every time someone tries to come in or leave, the firewall checks whether you want it to or not. Settings can be saved obviously, so you won’t need to tell them that your email client is safe every time you switch it on.

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall is, in our eyes, one of the best free firewalls. It has been around for over a decade and as a result, ZoneAlarm has gotten pretty good at blocking bad data. ZoneAlarm offers paid-for versions of the firewall as well, and while most of the additional features aren’t necessary (support for example), the ‘download protection’ is something worthwhile missing from the freeware.

ZoneAlarm Free is definitely better than having no firewall at all, but it still misses some security features that would be worthwhile having. ZoneAlarm isn’t the best looking software package and can seem a little intimidating to configure for a beginner, yet these are minor flaws for an application that could potentially save you from a hacker or software intrusion.

Download ZoneAlarm Free Firewall

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Manage and edit your digital photo collection with ACDSee 14

With the holidays fast approaching, people are going to be taking a LOT of digital pictures. With my digital SLR, its easy, and not uncommon for me to take well over 300 pictures at a family gathering. After that, it’s usually transfer, convert and tweak…the first two are easy. The last one, however, can be a bit of a problem as finding the right tools to tweak pictures the way you want isn’t always easy. That’s why I’m glad I’ve got ACDSee 14. It’s an awesome digital photo manager and editor, and its available for Windows.

ACDSee 14 is the ideal photo editor and photo manager for your PC, with all the features you need to organize your photo collection. You can edit and add effects to your images, and share your photos online. You can quickly find and organize your photos, and with its easy-to-use photo editing tools, get a perfect result every time. If you make a mistake, don’t worry. Your originals are always preserved, so you can go back and start over if needed.

Getting the best exposure for your shots is often difficult. It’s easy to ruin a great shot with too much or too little light. If that happens, don’t worry. ACDSee’s patented LCE (Lighting and Contrast Enhancement) technology can instantly lighten shadows and reduce highlights in one click; or you can manually adjust individual sliders to fine tune every aspect of your photo. You can change the tonal range, white balance, and color balance of your photos with its easy-to-use adjustment tools.

You can unleash your creativity with its cool special effects and then share your images through e-mail, social media or your own personal space on ACDSeeOnline.com. You can showcase images in an attractive, advertising-free photo sharing interface and easily manage your online images. To insure that only the “right” people see your shots, ACDSeeOnline.com employs full privacy control. You can also control resolution settings. You’ll have a full 10GB of free storage space for your photo collection.

read full review | download ACDSee 14

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Simplify those repetitive tasks with Automatic Mouse and Keyboard

One of the most frustrating things that can happen in the PC world is to have your work process undercut by dead and dying peripherals. I hate it when I get used to working in a specific way and my keyboard or mouse dies, especially when I’ve got proprietary utility software assisting with their functionality. This is why I really like Automatic Mouse and Keyboard. It’s a 3rd party interface utility for Windows, and it works with just about every Windows compatible peripheral of each type.
Automatic Mouse and Keyboard is a powerful Mouse and Keyboard automation tool. It makes your mouse move and automatically click on locations that you define. It can use a small picture to locate a point on the screen, making it very flexible. Regardless of where the target is, as long as it can be seen on the screen, the program will be able to find it.

Automatic Mouse and Keyboard can simulate nearly and unlimited number of mouse and keyboard actions, including the insertion of text. You can record all of your keyboard or mouse actions and then have the application repeat them back for you on demand.

Read full review | Download Automatic Mouse and Keyboard

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XBOX 720 Rumors

The Xbox 720 is the industry nickname for Microsoft’s next big addition to the console gaming and multimedia entertainment market. Given the popularity of the Xbox 360, it was inevitable that Microsoft would want to build on that success with a new and superior product and the company confirms that it began considering the next generation almost as soon as the current Xbox began to ship.

Rivals Sony have let slip that their own PlayStation 4 will also be shipping sometime in the next couple of years, estimating that it will hit the stores not much later than the Xbox 720 (codenamed “Durango”). Sony have a longer and more impressive track record as a purveyor of addictive games console technology than Microsoft and there’s considerable loyalty among PS gaming fans. Future purchasers will be looking both at the new consoles’ speed and graphical excellence from a gameplay perspective; but the winner in battle of the consoles will also need to compete on multimedia capabilities.

One hot rumour is that the new Xbox will incorporate a Blu-Ray drive. When the Xbox 360 first shipped, the format wars were still ongoing and Microsoft was a stanch member of Team HD DVD. Now that Blu-Ray has soundly trounced its rivals to become the reigning multimedia format, it seems an absolute certainty that both consoles will include Blu-Ray.

Another solid bet is that the new Xbox will have HDMI and Wi-Fi as standard. The Xbox 360 Elite offers HDMI; as of 2012, Wi-Fi also comes as standard. More to the point, the The PS3 already comes with Wi-Fi Ethernet and Bluetooth so we can reasonably assume that the PS4 will, too. To remain competitive, the Xbox 720 needs to match these capabilities.

The Xbox 720’s processor is another major focus for speculation. Rumours that the PS4 would be sticking with the PS3’s Cell processor have been quashed and industry insiders now believe it will employ an AMD x64 CPU. The Xbox 720 will need to compete with that to attract serious gaming enthusiasts. It’s probable that Microsoft will turn to its partner IBM for the latest in processor technology. IBM’s Power6 chip, a dual core 4.7GHz server CPU, would give the Xbox a serious edge over its rival. Rumour has it that the Xbox 720 will contain two GPUs for faster graphics.

Fans who have amassed a large collection of games and a virtual trophy cabinet of achievements needn’t fret. The Xbox 720 will almost certainly be backwards compatible, allowing you to play all your existing games, and achievements you’ve unlocked on the Xbox 360 will probably be carried over too. The Xbox 360 still has a lot to give and Microsoft will certainly continue supporting it after the Xbox 720’s release.

The new console could theoretically stand the gaming industry on its head, capitalising on the ground that Microsoft has already gained in the gaming and entertainment market. A firm launch date has yet to be announced but 2014 seems a likely estimate.

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Instantly install and run all of today’s games with Steam

A few years ago, gaming wasn’t a big deal. Most computer users were focused on productivity and well, we thought that gaming PC’s were expensive toys for over indulged children.  I mean, wasn’t that what gaming consoles were for? It’s totally different today.  Gaming is now driving much of the PC innovation seen today, and game development is a multibillion dollar industry. That’s one of the reasons why I really like Steam. It’s one of the best ways to get today’s most popular games on a PC near you.

Steam gives you the ability to purchase, download, and play over 1,100 games from any computer. You can easily check out new releases, indie hits, casual favorites and everything in between.  If you’re bored and need a playing partner, it’s easy to find someone to play with, meet up with friends, connect with groups of similar interests, or host and join chats, matches, and tournaments.

Communication is key during gaming campaigns, and Steam allows you to chat with your friends while you’re gaming.  You can see when your friends come online or are playing games.  You can  and easily join the same games together. During play, you can chat with your buddies, or use your microphone to communicate in any game.

One of the biggest problems with gaming is keeping up with patches and updates. With Steam, that’s all taken care of for you.  With automatic game updates, hunting for patches and downloading from unorganized web sites is a thing of the past. On Steam, your games stay up-to-date by themselves.

If you’re a Mac and want to play your favorite games, don’t worry.  Steam brings PC’s biggest gaming platform and games to the Mac.  You can download your games to your Mac and play against your PC friends in multiplayer games.  If you’ve got an Android or iOS device, you can also play games on the go. Steam Mobile gives you access on your tablet or smartphone.

read full review | download Steam

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Keep your privacy secure, and your browsing habits confidential with Invisible Browsing

Privacy is probably the biggest concern on the Internet today. Keeping your personal and private information, personal and private isn’t as easy as it used to be. The number of identity theft victims over the past couple of years alone has dramatically increased. Every person that surfs the internet should have some minimum knowledge about how their personal data can be collected every time someone visits a web page. That’s why I like utilities like Invisible Browsing. It’s an advanced privacy tool for Windows.

Invisible Browsing hides your IP address, letting you surf anonymously and preventing your IP or other confidential information from being collected without your permission. Invisible Browsing can also clean your local Internet cache, so that you don’t have to worry about other people you share your computer with snooping through your Internet traffic tracks.

Invisible Browsing allows you to change your IP anytime by routing your Internet traffic through overseas servers. All proxies are tested in advance, providing a high speed, anonymous Internet connection. The app also functions as a Proxy Driver by adapting its Internal proxy list to your geographical location and your Internet connection. There is also an option available which allows you to import and test proxy lists that you find on the web.

Read full review | Download Invisible Browsing

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Keep your PC running in top condition with Norton Utilities 15

I remember back in the day when Norton Utilities was actually written by Peter Norton. They were THE set of utilities to have for your DOS based PC, and in many ways today, offer a great deal of protection and peace of mind. That’s why I feel that this PC based, Windows utility package is a must have.

Norton Utilities helps your PC run like new. With them you can speed up PC performance and boot time, fix common PC problems with a single mouse click, reduces launch time of applications by optimizing the registry, increase storage and performance by defragmenting and cleaning up the hard drive and of course, recuing accidentally deleted files. It’s a package that most every Windows user should seriously consider purchasing.

Norton Disk Doctor identifies and fixes potential problems that can lead to hard drive crashes. You can use it to save your bacon, should you start experiencing random data errors in files you know are uncorrupted elsewhere. Norton UnErase lets you quickly restore accidentally deleted files that may be hidden on your hard drive, provided they space they occupy hasn’t been overwritten with other data. Norton Smart Updates keeps Norton Utilities up-to-date by automatically installing product updates. Startup Manager improves PC boot time by choosing which programs will load at startup time and Norton Service Manager optimizes active Windows services so applications can run simultaneously without your PC experiencing any slowdowns.

Read full review | Download Norton Utilities 15

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