Draw chemical structures with ease using ChemSketch

ChemSketch have released a much needed free version of their original chemical drawing software, with some great features that are perfectly ample for a chemistry student or casual home user.

The software is easy to download and has a straightforward and user-friendly interface – it was simple enough to get to grips with the functionality although some of the features seemed to work in the opposite way to the paid version which felt a bit counter-intuitive. The main crux of the software is the same, with the ability to draw chemical structures including polymers, organics, Markush structures and organometallics.

Other useful features include the name generation capability (up to a generous 50 atomic structures and 3 rings), comprehensive report generation and viewing and cleaning features for both 2D and 3D structures. It also provides tautomer recognition and valuable access to search engines such as PubChem, eMolecules and ChemSpider which are all great sources for the chemistry student or enthusiast. There are some advanced features that the paid version has and that are missing here, but these gaps are mainly felt if you are familiar with the paid version of ChemSketch.

This popular software is great for home and educational use, good enough even for a working chemist. The fact that it’s free allows accessibility to this clever software, including for students who may not be able to fund the paid version. Some valuable features are missing here and some of the way it works is reversed but none of this will matter too much if you are only using this version.

Great features included in a user-friendly bit of kit.

Download ChemSketch

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Real-time 3D animation & video production – iClone5

3D animation program, iClone, has released its latest version 5.3 with some new updates, from developers Reallusion. iClone allows you to create stunning 3D animations either from scratch or you have the option to work from various templates or pre-made designs.

This latest version includes a variety of new features including Seamless Motion Connection, creating more fluid, vivid and realistic movements with your 3D characters, and Ambient Occulism, a lighting feature in the program that adds a wealth of realism to your designs. The attention to detail with iClone’s features are what make it an ideal program for 3D animation, and is worth giving time to explore the 30 day free trial and seeing if it’s the right choice of software for you.

Trust us, you will need to give the trial a great deal of attention as the full software clocks up a price in the region of $80 for the Standard version and $200 for the Pro version, so make sure you know what you are getting. There are other options for the software; however they do not come with as many features. There is also a great deal of add on tools and content available from Reallusion, if you’re looking to expand the software’s capabilities but these, of course, do not come free. As a result of this, iClone limits its users to animation professionals and bigger companies that would use the software.

iClone 5.3 is an impressive piece of software and it’s worth checking out the free trial at the very least. If you’re working in the field of 3D design and animation then iClone is definitely something of interest.

Download iClone

 

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Create “film quality” images and 3D graphics with NVIDIA Gelato

Gelato was a program designed by US tech company NVIDIA, most noted for their work on graphic processing units (GPUs). First released in 2008, Gelato is a high quality rendering software designed for creating stunning “film quality” images and 3D graphics.

Gelato runs quite fast. You can render your images with great ease and simplicity, making it an ideal image rendering program for everyone from graphic designers to students, or even if you just like toying around with images.

As NVIDIA themselves put it, the software is “fully featured” including their own Sorbetto interactive relighting technology as well as Network Parallel Rendering.

What may be of particular interest to students and freelance designers is that NVIDIA’s Gelato is free of charge, so unlike some of its counterparts, you’re getting a high quality program for nothing.

Gelato is a little outdated now however. NVIDIA have removed it from their site and released Optix instead . As a result, NVIDIA haven’t released any updates for the program and will not be issuing any new updates to the Gelato software in the future. Since then, there have been various new image rendering programs that have emerged.

Gelato has a number of system requirements needed in order to get started, including two other NVIDIA products – the workstation GPU Quadro FX and NVIDIA’s GPU GeForce 5200, or a GPU of a higher standard, are both needed.

NVIDIA’s Gelato is a solid piece of software, built for the purpose, but with it no longer being available through NVIDIA and no longer being updated, it can easily be left behind by some of the more recent image rendering programs that are out there, free or otherwise.

download NVIDIA Gelato

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XnConvert – batch image-converter and resizer

XnConvert is an image converting program that supports over 500 image formats for easy single and batch image editing and converting. The software has all the standard tools for image editing, whether it’s cropping and watermarking, or adding slick effects to your images. The interface makes for a simple approach to your image editing and converting. Crucially, XnConvert’s interface allows for multi-image editing simultaneously and for the most part, the program is convenient to use for the these tasks.


There’s an easy ‘Clear All’ button for getting rid of your changes and starting fresh on the image but the lack of an ‘Undo’ button is a little testing at times. However, the simple ‘before’ and ‘after’ tabs above your image editing make for quick comparisons as you work. Similarly, there are arrow buttons below your work screen to move easily between each of the images you’re working on. XnConvert’s ease of use is definitely its greatest strength.

XnConvert isn’t an essential program but would be more useful for slightly more casual image editing and not for frequent, more in depth image editing. Other free programs like GIMP are better equipped for that.

Download XnConvert

 

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Get maximum flexibility over your desktop with Dexpot

Dexpot is a Windows virtual desktop tool with advanced features that give you maximum flexibility over your screen space, and increases productivity by grouping different apps and functions on different screens.

A full screen preview gives you an at-a-glance look at all your desktops, while the desktop manager toolbar is used for quick switching, or for showing all active applications. There are plenty of customizations that allow you to work faster including shortcuts via the keyboard, mouse or hotkeys. Move windows to other desktops using drag and drop.

Each desktop can be customized with different wallpaper, applications, and event triggers, and plugins are also available for increased functionality, like the slideshow feature that automatically moves from one desktop to another.

Dexpot helps you clear your desktop of clutter and you can have different wallpapers, files and shortcuts on each desktop. Each desktop can be customized, and you can set it up with custom functions including starting a different set of applications when you visit each desktop for the first time.

Dexpot is an excellent tool for clearing up your workspace and creating customised work areas. Different desktops can be used for different categories, for example set up one desktop for work, another for media, and another for personal use. Each desktop will be ready with all the applications and settings you need to get started right away.

download Dexpot GbR

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Make, Edit and Export professional looking icons with IcoFX

IcoFX is the ideal all in one tool to make, edit and export professional looking icons and cursors on your Windows and Mac.

Whether you want to make a cursor or an icon, for Windows or for Mac, the IcoFX allows you to make a professional looking image quick. The IcoFX software comes packed with a wealth of tools to turn any idea into a cursor or an icon quick.

If you’re a beginner, the software allows you to produce an icon or cursor with basic editing skills. The IcoFX allows you to convert any image into an icon or cursor, or edit previously made products to suit your design.

If you’re an experience designer, the IcoFX has a full assortment of tools to unleash your creativity. The product allows you to produce animated as well as static cursors, transparent icons and more complex ones, easily with its layers and soft selection features.

When you’re done creating your design, the IcoFX exports the icon or cursor as a high quality, ready to use file. Installing your cursor or icon couldn’t be simpler.

The IcoFX is easy to use but still has a wealth of features to allow you to make technically complicated icons and cursors. When you install this software, there is very little you won’t be able to do.

download IcoFX

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Supertuxkart – the kart racing game

If you are a fan of Super Mario Kart then you are sure to either love or hate SuperTuxKart: there is no room for ambivalence here! From the wee-bit unoriginal name – SuperTuxKart – it is quite evident where the inspiration for this racing game hails from, but how does SuperTuxKart compare to its big famous brother?

SuperTuxKart can be downloaded for free, and as soon as you’ve done so it becomes evident that more than just the name of Mario has been borrowed. The interface is very similar to that of the original, with a selection of drivers/vehicles available for the user to choose from.

And just like with Super Mario Kart, there is a selection of various weapons and power-ups that allow the player to take out opponents, charge past them and essentially achieve the end-goal of being first across the line.

If you have always been a fan of the original Super Mario Kart then it is worth downloading a copy of this homage, purely for nostalgia and curiosity. It is fun to see how a classic has been taken, and interpreted by others.

Whilst some of the variations on the original can almost be viewed as improvements, making you wonder why the creators of the ‘real deal’ hadn’t thought of it in the first place, there are other features that just seem a bit facile and a bit weak. All in all, though, it’s hard to argue with a freebie that’s this good-looking.

Download SuperTuxKart for WindowsDownload SuperTuxKart for Mac

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Manage your fonts with NexusFont

NexusFont is a program designed for you to view and manage the various different fonts you use on your system, allowing you to view and test the myriad font types quickly, whether it’s seeing how the font looks in one particular size, or in bold and italic, or a different colour. You may think that this is a slightly over the top function for what is a simple enough task. However, NexusFont is of a niche appeal. For graphic designers, web designers or even if you’re just a Photoshop or InDesign nerd, fonts are everything. They are pivotal in creating unique and interesting designs.

As a result, you can become flooded with fonts, and finding the right one can be a task and a half. This is where NexusFont helps. All your fonts are available for viewing at once, with a large scroll down menu to view them. Simply type your sample text and view your options. You select what fonts you want to test with, so instead of a lengthy list of fonts, you can limit the test list. Similarly, you can group your fonts by type.

It’s quick and effortless to install and the interface is rather simple so if organising and working with various fonts is an important part of your work or hobby, then NexusFont is a must have program.

download NexusFont

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