NW Docx Converter the magic files reader

With so many different file formats available, it is great to have a utility that lets you open, read, and print PDF, Html, RTF, Docx, Sxw, Odt, pdb and prc files. These files can be opened independently of the Office or OpenOffice applications and the results can be saved in PDF format. Users can preview the extracted data, page by page, and choose to send it to print or save it in another format.

The program runs on both Windows and Linux (under WINE). It is a very small file and runs straight from an executable, so it does not require installation or changes to your registry. Conversions are very fast with minimal impact on memory and CPU. Works even if you have an outdated system or document program.

Microsoft´s Docx format has caused a lot of problems for users who can not open this type of file with their applications. Users are now able to access multi-format documents, with the use of one simple app, that does not require installation, or a drag on computer resources. The NW Docx Converter does much more than the name implies, and at only 2MB packs great functionality into such a small download.

Unfortunately conversions are not always perfect.

read full review | download NW Docx Converter

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iPad 3 Rumors & Thoughts – Part 1: Hardware

With Steve Jobs gone and his legacy not completely publically known or understood, the iPad 3 is almost a complete unknown as well, though the rumor mill has been churning lately. Let’s take a look at some of the rumors and see what’s what.

I’ve been reading the authorized Steve Jobs biography, and quite honestly, I’ve been learning a great deal. Apple very much *IS* Steve Jobs, and vice-versa. It’s been an interesting read. Much of the design and thoughts for the iPad itself came before the iPhone. It was put on hold to address and release the need for the iPhone. However, the magic that is the iPhone will forever be beholden to the iPad. This was probably one of the most interesting revelations I’ve encountered in the book so far. But the iPad… that was Steve’s baby. He really wanted to do a tablet to counter the netbook surge and push, which is pretty much OVER at this point.

Apple has the tablet market pretty much sewn up. At this point, Android can try all it wants, but without the walled garden that Apple has cultivated and nurtured, it’s going to be hard for Google, any of their hardware partners, or ANYONE really, to catch up to them any time soon.

That being the case, rumors of an updated iPad have been circulating for quite some time. Many sites have been saying that the next generation iPad is already in production, and is readying for a March or April release. While I won’t say too much about that just yet, I do want to touch on some of the other rumors related to specific hardware feature sets that many are speculating will differentiate it from the iPad 2.

Better Screen – HD Resolution?
There’s been a great deal of speculation about this particular, potential feature upgrade. A Retina Display from Samsung, a Sharp IGZO display… No one really knows for certain what is going to happen here. However, I think it’s safe to say that Apple’s next generation iPad will have a much better screen than both the iPad 1 and iPad 2. Regardless of what type or which manufacturer really got the contract, Digitimes is reporting some (also unconfirmed) specifics on the screen:

  • A QXGA (1,536×2,048 pixels) display
  • Longer battery life
  • Although its other hardware specs may not be as exciting

The A6 Processor
Apple’s next system on a chip should have nearly twice as much punch as its previous iOS devices. The A5 chip is dual core. The A6 is rumored to be a quad core powerhouse. The tablet should be able to crunch through some major data at that point. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard how fast the chip is rumored to be, though I would assume 1.2-1.5gHz would not be unreasonable.

The Graphics Processor
Given that mobile gaming is on an uptick, and that iOS gaming is in no small part responsible for most of that uptick, it’s almost a certainty that an enhanced graphics processor will be part of Apple’s new iPad. There’s been very little about which processor…but with gaming becoming more important, and iLife apps like GarageBand and iMovie likely to be improved as well, the next edition iPad will need the additional punch of an improved graphics processor. This is probably more important than the implementation of the A6 processor.

HD Camera
The implementation of an HD quality screen begs the implementation of an HD camera. The implementation of a front and rear facing camera in the iPad 2, and the introduction of iMovie for the iPad really kicked this off. I would say that a 720p/8MP rear and 2-3MP front cameras are a safe bet as well.

4G-LTE
Apple clearly stated that it wouldn’t support LTE in the iPhone 4S. While speculation is ripe, no one is willing to make a FIRM say-so on the implementation of LTE. However, it is widely anticipated that Apple will support LTE in both the iPad 3 as well as iPhone 5. So as long as you’re in an LTE equipped market, you should be good to go.

Thunderbolt
This is probably my most favorite and most underused feature in my Early 2011 MacBook Pro. With the implementation of this high speed connectivity solution in its desktops, it seems logical that Apple will move to Thunderbolt and improve the throughput of local synchronization for all its iDevices. However, that would retether the devices it unleashed with the implementation of iCloud in iOS 5.

It would also totally hose about a gazillion iDevice accessories currently on the market today. Apple has been using their 30 pin dock connector forever, and while there have been a few changes to it, generally speaking they’ve stuck with it since the iPod was introduced many years ago.

This would be an interesting development; and one that I actually hope doesn’t come about. However, we’ll have to wait and see.

Come back next time, and I’ll dive into this a bit more with some speculation about iOS 6 and what it’s going to bring to the table.

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One year of Windows 7 Service Pack 1

It’s a long established practice that Microsoft have continued – releasing critical updates, security add-ons and new features to their operating systems through a series of additional ‘packs’. The latest operating system is no exception, with Windows 7 Service Pack 1 being released in February 2011.

Twelve months since the launch, Service Pack 1 (SP1) has met with mixed reception. The pack includes the standard security coding patches and improvements, which affect very little of the user end experience – in contrast to, say, the Windows XP Service Pack 2, which introduced a series of new facilities and functions that dramatically changed how you interacted with your computer.

While most users found that there were no issues installing this latest SP1, some running ‘mature’ copies of the system found initial difficulties with compatibility of third-party software. This is nothing new and tends to affect all service pack roll-outs. As a result, many experienced users decided to sit tight and hold off, allowing other PC consumers to be the guinea pigs.

The biggest criticism to be leveled at SP1 is that it does little to improve the experience of using your PC. Yes, there may be a host of back-end coding adaptations that further bolster the security of your machine, but these aren’t particularly exciting for day-to-day users.

read full review | download Windows 7 SP1

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Gimp – a free alternative to high priced, professional programs such as Photoshop

In today’s graphic intensive world, having a decent, full featured editor is a must.  Many top of the line packages come with the features everyone wants, and unfortunately, with the price tag to go with it.  This is one of the reasons why I like GIMP. It’s a full featured, multi-platform graphics editor; and its totally awesome.

GIMP is the image editing tool of choice for many users, in large part due to its many editing tools.  It’s more common tools include a paint brush, pencil, airbrush, eraser and ink tools. You can use them to create new or blended pixels. Tools such as the bucket fill and blend tools are used to change large regions of space in an image and can be used to help blend images.

GIMP also has a selection of smart tools.  These use a more complex algorithm to enable a user to complete time consuming or difficult tasks, and include the clone tool that copies pixels using a brush, and the healing brush which copies pixels from an area and corrects the tone and color where it is being used. The perspective clone tool works in a similar way to the clone tool, but also allows a user to alter and correct distance changes. The blur and sharpen tool is a brush that blurs and sharpens sections of an image; and the dodge and burn tool is a brush that makes target pixels lighter (dodges) or darker (burns).

An image being edited in GIMP can consist of many layers. Each layer in an image is made up of several channels. In an RGB image there are normally 3 or 4 channels, consisting of a red, green and blue channel. Color sub-layers look like slightly different gray images, but when put together they make a complete image. The fourth channel that may be part of a layer is the alpha channel (or layer mask), this channel measures opacity where a whole or part of an image can be completely visible, partially visible or invisible.

Read full review | Download GIMP

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Mozilla Thunderbird – a modern email client that is flexible and powerful

Mozilla Thunderbird is an open source, multiplatform and extensible email client. It has been around under free license and stable since 2004 and now at versions 10 and 11 is a fully featured and mature product.

All the features that you would expect from a modern email client are present: HTML support, multiple account support, whereby you can keep accounts separate or merge them together, Web mail, POP, IMAP and Microsoft Exchange server support, calendar, address book.

Thunderbird was designed to stop junk mail and prevent viruses, and includes intelligent spam filtering, suggesting when it thinks a message might be spam, S/MIME, data signing and message encryption and a phishing detector.

We found the trickiest part was setting up an email account, and especially if you hail from a webmail environment. There is a wizard to help you through this part.

Download and installation is swift. The client product and the user interface are clean, easy to use. The product can easily be customised through Add-Ons, available via the Tools Menu. Mail is presented in a tabbed format, so it looks a little like Outlook.

It is a good idea to save customisation until well into the process, that way you can get an idea of Thunderbird’s speed, before burdening it with additional software.

Thunderbird has been praised for the search facility. In Version 10 this includes the ability search the web. Email searches can be saved as virtual folders. There is an activity manager which records email activity. This can be used if you need to check whether a mail was sent or received. Emails can be archived in a stroke.

We have high expectations of our email clients to provide extensive functionality and Thunderbird will not disappoint. Since email is such a fundamental part of our lives, we think the security features of this product are excellent. It should not be overlooked for those considering a new email client.

Read full review | Download Mozilla Thunderbird

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Rescue you damaged CDs and DVDs with IsoBuster

ISOBuster is most popular for rescuing data from damaged CDs and DVDs. The ability to retrieve lost data, particularly when it has sentimental value, like photos, or business value, like documentation is invaluable.

There is a free version with limited functionality, and a Pro version, which unlocks high-end data recovery tools. However, for most people, the functionality available in the free version is more than enough to recover data from damaged or corrupted disks. ISOBuster supports a wide range of formats and works under all the Windows versions from Windows 2000 to Windows 7.

ISOBuster is a low-cost data recovery option that can restore files you thought were lost forever. It appears to be quite basic, but is very good at data recovery. Most people will find the free functionality more than enough for their needs, which also makes it very cost-effective.

read full review | download IsoBuster

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VirtualBox the open-source solution for desktop virtualization

VirtualBox is an impressive, open-source, desktop virtualization software. Available for Linux, OS X and Windows, VirtualBox allows you to run a different operating system on your machine, within a virtual environment. So for example, you could have Linux running on your Windows machine.

When you get something for free, you expect it to be lacking in some way, compared to commercial products which tend to have more features or more support. VirtualBox is surprising in that it is gives far more than you would expect, and is a real contender in the virtualization arena. Some of the VirtualBox features include the ability to move VMs between host systems dynamically, branched snapshots, and 32 way virtual SMP support.

What started out as a small virtualization project for individual users, has developed into a competitor in the enterprise sector. It still has some issues to sort out to make it as intuitive as it´s competitors, but remains one of the most comprehensive free apps available. Enterprises may still prefer to go with a commercial solution, but VirtualBox is an excellent option for users who do not want to pay commercial fees.

read full review | download VirtualBox

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Open, burn, create, edit, compress, encrypt, mount and extract ISO files with PowerISO

The one thing I really like about Macs is its ability to distribute software on disk images. Most software is actually distributed in downloadable disk images and run or installed right from the image. This is one reason why I really like PowerISO. It’s a disk image editing and creating tool for Windows.

PowerISO is a powerful CD/DVD/BD image file processing tool, allowing you to open, extract, burn, create, edit, compress, encrypt, split, convert and mount ISO files as internal, virtual drives. It can process almost all CD/DVD/BD image files including ISO and BIN files. PowerISO provides an all-in-one solution, allowing you to do manipulate and use your ISO and disc image files as you need.

PowerISO doesn’t just allow you to mount and use CD/DVD/BD-ROM images like any other disk your computer connects to.  It also allows you to create a DAA (Direct-Access-Archive) file, an advanced image file, which supports compression, password protection, and splitting the image to multiple volumes, if needed.  PowerISO also supports creating and editing ISO, BIN, NRG, CD file formats as well.  Creating bootable CD/DVD’s is also supported in both 32bit and 64bit versions of Windows.

Read full review | Download PowerISO

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