Category Archives: Software

Readers Questions/Suggestions


Once again, it’s time for me to publish a few of the e-mails that have arrived in my inbox this week.

Mozilla is becoming well known for its Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail client, but its Sunbird calendar is less well known.Put simply, it is a clone of the calendar in Microsoft Office but it is completely free and worth a look for anyone who wants an office calendar program without the expense of buying Microsoft Office.

Ian MacMillan, via E-mail

Nicely spotted Ian.Whilst completely free of charge and still in very early stages of development, Mozilla Sunbird is certainly worth downloading for those in need of an easy to use calendar application for their PC without the need for purchasing a package such as Microsoft Office.

The idea of the calendar will be for it to work across multiple platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux etc) as it works using the Read the rest

Accounting Software


We’ll kick straight off this week with a letter from one of my readers:

I am a keen reader of your Herald Express column and have downloaded some useful free software as a result.I was wondering if you know of any free downloads of Home Accounting software so I can manage simple income & expenditure, ability to categorise entries & bank reconciliation?Nothing too sophisticated.

John Green, via e-mail

I’ll be honest, I really didn’t have a clue where to start here; although I’m self employed I’ve never touched a piece of accounting software for more than two minutes without running a mile.I have always managed to get along quite happily by using the sales figures automatically generated by our system along with a stack of invoices detailing our outgoings and the whole lot then gets dumped in to an Excel spreadsheet; it’s by no means the most organised system but Read the rest

Smaller alternatives


There seems to be a tendency in the IT industry of applications increasing in both size and resource usage with every new version that’s released.In some instances such increases are unavoidable however often it seems to be a case of lazy programming as old versions are rehashed by having new bits ‘bolted on’ rather that some thought being put in to rewriting the code efficiently from scratch.It’s in instances like this that I start to look for an alternative and fortunately for every oversized application you can practically guarantee that someone has come up with an application designed to function in the same way but with a smaller footprint.

Time and time again I suggest AVG as an alternative to some of the bloated anti-virus checkers out there but thought today I would touch on some other applications which haven’t been given enough coverage.

Quicktime Alternative – Unless you configure Read the rest

Home design CAD


I must be one of the only mugs buying a house at the moment; this is at a time where the majority of other prospective buyers are running for the hills due to the current economic climate.To make matters more interesting I also made an offer before the property officially came on to the market so I was unfortunately unable to use some generic comment regarding the apparent ‘recession’ in order to leverage the price.Anyway, my foolhardy attitude aside, I am now faced with the task of becoming an interior designer and rather predictably felt that we had to get a computer involved somewhere along the way.

Last year I reviewed Google SketchUp for Click and thought that I’d give it another spin before decided it was possibly a little bit too complicated for the relatively simple room designs that I wanted to create.I was looking for something more along Read the rest

Google Earth Part 3


Several years ago I looked at an application called Google Earth, a program which allows you to view literally any corner of this Earth from satellite imagery without even leaving your desktop.This is genuinely one of the most interesting applications that you will ever use and bizarrely, it is completely free of charge.

I was prompted to revisit this piece of software for a couple of reasons.Firstly, the map data has been completely updated and so whereas before the level of detail for Torbay and the surrounding areas was a little poor, you can now get right down to street level - I was even able to pick up the pot plants on the roof of Refresh. Additionally the Herald Express have kindly agreed to let me use pictures in future articles and because a picture is apparently worth a thousand words, I thought more would be encouraged to download Read the rest



With so many readers now using Windows Vista I thought it was about time that I focused on a fantastic little program that I’ve had on my hard drive for several months now called ‘Winbubbles’.This application is designed to help you quickly and easily customize your Vista installation by way of a small 350kb freeware download.

The URL to download the application directly is to long to easily print in this article so you are best of doing a search for it yourself; the quickest way I can suggest is to head to and do a search for Winbubbles or otherwise a quick Google search will locate it for you.After installing the application you will be able to customize pretty much any aspect of your Vista installation, including the following:

Windows Customizations:

·Enable Aurora Bootscreen guide – This will allow you to change the drab black Windows bootup Read the rest



Being a guy who used to make a living from repairing computers, you might understand that I’m slightly cynical about the prospect of people repairing their own machines when things go wrong; if anything serious should happen then you’re certainly best off calling a professional.In my experience, a little knowledge in the wrong hands can be deadly and often attempting to repair your Operating System yourself will end in tears!

That having been said, I do certainly see the need for applications that can provide an element of automated system repair and preventive maintenance and one such application I recently discovered called Advanced WindowsCare fits that bill nicely.

The version of the software that I will be reviewing today is the free personal edition; however there is also a $29.95 professional version.Compatible with Windows 2000, XP and Vista, both versions can be obtained from, and with the personal Read the rest



Some time ago I reviewed an application called GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) as I was getting tired of using Photoshop for relatively simple image manipulation tasks.One cannot deny that Photoshop is an extremely competent and extensive program but it is also extremely resource hungry and not to mention expensive; it seemed somewhat akin to using a sledgehammer to squat a mosquito.

GIMP is ideal for many home users as it is a small and free application which boasts a large number of features that would probably prove sufficient for who needs something slightly more than Microsoft Paint but less than Photoshop.My only reservation with the application was that the UI (User Interface) was a little bit inconsistent with the overall feel of Windows and as a result it takes a while to get to grips with and often feels alien to the average PC user.

This week I stumbled Read the rest

FoxIt PDF Reader


At some point in our computing lives we will almost certainly stumble across a PDF (Portable Document File).These are extremely useful for transmitting a document, including any associated diagrams or pictures, in one single file which should look identical to the original on any compatible computer or mobile device.The fact that practically any modern day machine can use these files, coupled with the maintenance of the original appearance, has made this format extremely popular.

The possible applications are fairly obvious.For example, most modern day hardware and software doesn’t come with a printed manual but rather an electronic copy stored in PDF format on an accompanying CD.In the office, we send invoice copies in PDF format via e-mail as you can be sure that the recipient will view the document exactly as intended.Transmitting a complex document in an alternative format such as .doc would mean that the recipient would be unlikely Read the rest

Virtual CD’s


Even in the current day where the majority of software is downloadable, there are still many programs that require a CD or DVD to stay in your drive in order to function.Most notable are games which often don’t install themselves fully in order to save disc space and reduce the chance that they will be copied.Having to have a disc in the drive isn’t always ideal so this week we’re going to talk about virtual drives which can alleviate this necessity.

One program I’ve had particular experience with in the past is Alcohol 52% free edition which can be downloaded by heading to bear in mind that this free edition isn’t the core product offered by Alcohol Software so do make sure you look carefully and avoid downloading a 30 day trial for one of their more extensive versions by mistake.

Once installed, the software will allow you Read the rest