Edit binary files and raw disk sectors with HXD Hex Editor

Every now and again, I bump into the need to edit a compiled file.  This is often some kind of executable or other resource file that I don’t have the source or an appropriate compiler for. Finding an appropriate editor that’s easy to use and reasonably priced isn’t as easy as you might think.  That’s why I like HXD Hex Editor. It’s a binary editing tool for Windows.

HXD is a fast hex editor that handles binary files of any size.  Additionally, the application also allows you to perform raw disk editing as well as modifying the contents of your computer’s RAM.   It’s easy to use interface features search and replace, exporting, checksums/digests, and insertion of byte patterns.  It also offers a file shredder, concatenation or splitting of files, statistics and more.

Editing a binary file with HXD Hex Editor works like in any text editor.  Its functions are streamlined to hide differences that are purely technical.  Drives and memory are presented as a file and are shown as a whole, unlike other editors which may limit data on the screen to a sector/region-limited view that cuts off data which potentially belongs together. Drives and memory can be edited the same way as a file, and includes support for undo. Memory-sections that define a foldable region and inaccessible sections are hidden by default.

read full review | download HXD Hex Editor

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Give voice commands with Dragon Dictate

I’ve been a big supporter of, “you talk, it types” for over 10 years. I remember using IBM’s ViaVoice on my Windows XP powered PC back in 1997. While it was, at times, wonderful to be able to give my arthritic hands a break from the amount of typing I do, its performance issues often prevented the creative process from really flowing the way it should have. Writers write. However, it’s not always easy to do when you have to….speak….very…slowly, and very…exactingly. All that’s changed now; and thanks to Dragon Dictate for Mac, I’ve got my MacBook Pro turning cartwheels.

If you’re a productivity junky, like me, then you’re going to love this application. With it, you can control your Mac in a relaxed, hands-free manner without being tied to your keyboard. Instead of using your mouse, you can just speak commands to launch and control applications. You can move the cursor or click anywhere on your screen simply by using your voice. You can tell your Mac what to do, like “Reply To This Message” or “Open Microsoft Word” or “Jump To Google” to work faster and smarter. Create voice commands that automate complex workflows on your Mac.

You’ll need to insure that you have a powerful enough Mac to push this app, however. The biggest issue with this app was system performance and what my Mac was doing with other processor cores and available RAM.  You’ll also find that you need a specialized microphone in order to get the best performance from the app. Please don’t think that you’re going to be able to use the microphone that may be built into your Mac and get really great voice to text recognition. It just isn’t going to happen.  A standard gaming headset should do very well.

read full review | download dragon Dictate

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Test your computer’s power capacity with BenchTown

Auslogics have released a free benchmarking tool that can test your computer power capacity and publish the results on their online service. All you have to do is to install the BenchTown client program and register for free on BenchTown.com. There’s nothing new here, but the way Auslogics designed BenchTown and its online service really impressed me. Everything is user-friendly an requires little to be done from the user point of view.

All you have to do in order to start test your machine is to push the Rate button. The whole process is automatically and takes about 4 – 5 minutes to be completed. The application uses standard stress calculations for each main component of your PC, (CPU, RAM, HDD, VGA). The results will be displayed in the same interface along with an overall mark similar to what 3D Mark has to offer.

Your can also compare your results online with your friends on the BenchTown service. If you don’t have any friends registered on this community, just invite them. You can also view overall charts based on community’s results regarding the type of processor they use, what are the most popular VGA models used, etc.

With BenchTown the testing process becomes simple and fun to analyze even for a casual user. The overall image of his system is no more an enigma due to the comprehensive results and the user-friendly way BenchTown displays them.

download Auslogics BenchTown

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How to recover lost data from a crashed application

What if the application in which you were working has crashed, and your precious document has been lost? This could be a question without an answer, if you cannot read the information saved by the Windows OS in your PC’s RAM.

Also known as memory address space, this is where all the applications that run on your computer load there content for further use by the operating system. In case you cannot read its content, you won’t be able to recover your lost data. But with DumpIt, this is actually possible. All you have to do is to double-click this executable and this tiny utility will generate a copy of your PC’s physical memory in the current directory.

This copy is nothing else but a huge binary file which has to be read with a hex editor in order to be able to identify the content of your lost document. Free Hex Editor Neo can be a good choice to cover all this file. All you have to do is launch the program, access the Search function and type a word or phrase from the lost document. For Microsoft Word users, check the Unicode string option and search again. In this way the program will locate immediately the Word file.

DumpIt is free to use and it has been developed as a fusion of win32dd and win64dd (former products with the same functionality developed by the MoonSols company) in one executable. It has only 203 KB of memory, a portable character, and its easy to use. There are rarely occasions when you will actually use this program, but its unique utility makes it a must-have tool when such a disaster strikes.

download DumpIt

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Mount virtual images with OSFMount

PassMark released a new version of their free mount utility OSFMount. Although it has been released as a major update, at a first look you won’t see any differences in its latest version. But I will show you that OSFMount is actually the most complete mount utility from the market. Let’s see:

Well, first of all, it can be used for programs that require high speed disk access, such as programs which work with a database, or games which use cache files. In general, OSFMount can be useful when a particular CD/DVD is used often and the speed of access is important. Another benefit is the security, considering that the disk contents are not stored on a physical hard disk (but rather in RAM). About the supports extensions, OSFMount can mount files such as: ISO, BIN, IMG, DD, 00N, NRG, SDI, AFF, AFM, VMDK an.d AFD. As I already mentioned, OSFMount is a program that can mount also RAM disks (a disk mounted into RAM), which is the unique feature among the competitors. This means that you can get the fastest access to disc images and the best overall performance of the mounted images.

You can even use OSFMount to create an image of your own. You just have to create the virtual drive, include all the necessary files, and with a simple right-click you can save the content as a virtual image in ISO, IMG, AFF, AFM or AFD formats.

read the full review | download OSFMount

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