Tag: software review

Tenorshare UltData In-Depth Review

Tenorshare UltData In-Depth Review

Our day-to-day lives depend on mobile technology more and more. Our phones are the epicenter of our data, photos, apps, movies, music, etc. With so much invested in these devices, a reliable and dependable resource management system needs to be in place, so you can get to this critical information when your device is inaccessible and is possibly broken or physically damaged. The recovery options for iOS devices has grown for both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh Operation System(s), in regards to programs and utilities that accomplish this task for average users.

Of the options available, a highly-rated program has risen through the ranks, Tenorshare’s UltData.

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This fine program has you covered, not matter what issue is preventing you from getting into your iDevice, and its key information. No matter if you have dropped your device, and broke it, hung on the boot-up logo, accidental deletion, and many other issues, it can get it back for you. It accomplishes this in one of three ways: retrieval from you iCloud account, restoring from you iTunes Backup, or even directly from you iDevice. Each has their advantages and uses, and which one you ever choose; you will be pleased with the results.

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As someone, who has an old iPhone 4, from 2010, I can tell you that being able to access critical data that has been invaluable is getting back restored photos and notes, along with app data backups. In having an older device, I have not been able to use iTunes to do backup/syncs, without causing errors and problems. Now having an option to use UltData to get these files either from my device or from iCloud, I can feel a peace of mind, in knowing that my information is not too far out of reach.

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Once you initialize the backup sequence, it is well organized and easy to see what is available for recovery. You can easily see your call history, photos, and texts, in real-time, so you can only restore that stuff you want, and not bring back things you do not need, or no longer require. Whatever you recover from your device, you can take those, and re-sync them back into your device to use them, going forward.

 

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In trying to preserve my digital life, recorded on my iPhone and iPad, which covers my entire married life, having software that will help me use my data to migrate to a set of newer iDevices (which I am hopeful that I can acquire sometimes this year), will make this dicey proposition possible, with a safety net. I use my mobile devices, and their features to keep my life focused and on-track. Any prospects of losing this critical information that I cannot get back is something I want to prevent, and having tools, such as Tenorshare makes is a much less probably outcome.

 

Tenorshare_logoYou may be asking yourself, why I should choose UltData for my iOS device recovery options, over other options on the market. The answer is many reasons (some which I have already cited). One standout that you, my readers may find important and treasure for your peace of mind, is that Tenorshare is an award-winning company, with UltData  winning 2016 Golden Award from TopTenReviews.com. This is a nice, prestigious award to win from a reputable software review site, and further highlights the advantages that this software offers your iOS devices, whether or not your computer runs on Windows or Mac.

The entry cost for this peace of mind and tool-set is very reasonable, and scalable, based upon your needs as an individual, family, or if you have an organization or commercial enterprise that would require vast number of device support numbers. The starting tier is a 1-yr. Subscription, which runs $83.95 USD, and includes a license for one computer, one year support and one year of upgrades. The second tier is the Family Pack, $139.95 USD, and is a license for 2-5 computers, lifetime usage, lifetime support, and lifetime upgrades. The top-tier of licenses is the Unlimited License, which runs $699.95 USD and that is unlimited devices, support, and upgrades, and the best value across the board. If you act right now, they are running a 40% off sale that slashes the prices drastically, but only for a very, short time (the sale ends on 07/11/16). As is usually the case, most software I review has a demo/trial version that you can try, risk-free.

If you have ever had an iDevice that has failed on you, you can be sure that this program can give you the best chance to get your data back. I know that once you try this software, you will be hooked on keeping your data safeguarded with the umbrella of programs from Tenorshare; do not forget to tell them that I sent you. As always, keep on techin’!

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Incomedia WebSite X5 Evolution 13 Review

Incomedia WebSite X5 Evolution 13 Review

A few months back, I brought to your attention the nice, development-ready platform, Incomedia WebSite X5 Evolution 12, and with the programs stable of site design tools, layouts, and templates. Fast forward to this month (October 2016), and you have the updated release of this fine suite, entitled WebSite X5 Evolution 13. Included with this update, is a bevy of new templates, stock images, graphic libraries, eCommerce site tools, social media buttons/applets, and so much more. You may wonder do these new features warrant the upgrade price. Let’s go through the process, and see what is on offer, and what is best for each type of user.websitex5_800px

If you are someone, like myself, and have your own blog site, having the new tools, such as a large stock royalty-free image library (now numbering at 700,000 images), is a blessing, as I can use the images to augment my posts, with demonstration images, along with the licensed images of the products that I review. I do not have a budget to purchase images/logos/design vector images, as a hobbyist blogger, but now I can choose from the built-in libraries to find what I need for future posts.

pro_en_xlAnother element of this update is enhanced eCommerce tools, with strong-level integration with payment processing gateways that work with your online storefront, which allows you to take a nice range of credit cards that you can accept. I do not have a need of this type of site tools, but my wife does run an online store, where she sells her artwork and hopefully, someday her books and instructional materials. I plan to introduce these, new financial purchasing tools to her, so she can incorporate this into her payment structure, to help cut out the “middleman” and reduce her cost overhead in processing fees.

incomedia-website-x5-product-specificationsMy blog audience and exposure is intrinsically tied to my social media profile. I have been able to contact numerous companies, their representatives, and vested individuals, who want to support my cause of raising awareness for the disabled and technology. One day that I do that, on a day-to-day basis is my contacting companies, through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other media outlets. On top of that, I enter numerous contests with many groups, and disseminate those promotional activities, through these social channels, so you, my readers can take advantage of these along with me.

If, and when I can move to a dedicate domain site, I hope to add these built-in plugins and social buttons from Incomedia’s WebSite X5 13. I want to do this to streamline this process, and make it possible for you interface directly with me, on my site, auto re-post my content to multiple social media channels, and maybe have future giveaways with these features, down the line. Having an integrated social media system will make my portfolio of content much more cohesive entity, and centralized that is currently capable.

incomedia_website_x5_logo_redI could go on and on, in hashing out the new features, but the best service that I can do for you is to tell you the three tiers that this software come in, and their price points. The starting tier is WebSite X5 Start 13, which includes 25 pages to make/manage, 50 templates, and the ability to make sites for desktop computers. This only cost $19.99 USD; nice budget-conscious price point that allows you to utilize this software much more than what a trial can offer you. The next tier is WebSite X5 Evolution 13, which is what I need for my projects/sites, and the one I recommend for the majority of people, who need web page design software. The cost of this is $79.00 USD, and has many, many more features, templates, pages to manage, and the ability to offer online storefronts. The top-tier of this product family is WebSite X5 13 Professional that has all of the aforementioned features, options, and a full-featured eCommerce suite that supports storefronts, payment systems, registration of users, and an inventory system, second to none. These wide –ranging feature set comes at a higher price than the other tiers, but considering what you get for the price (being able to use a license on up to two machines) the cost of $199.00 USD is a great buy!

logo_800px-blackIf you have ever had the pleasure to interact with Incomedia, whether as a customer, a potential customer, or someone who has some questions to make a decision or solve an issue, you know they stand behind what they publish/sell. This should give you peace of mind, in deciding to either upgrade to the new version/tier or become a new customer for the first time. Whatever you choose, I can tell you that you will never be disappointed that you considered Incomedia, and their products. As always keep on techin’. . .

Product Review: Steganos Privacy Suite 18 In-Depth

Product Review: Steganos Privacy Suite 18 In-Depth

A constant theme and topic of discussion is the arena of Internet security, and its impact and reach in 21st. Century society. Ever since the dawning of this new century, and the advent of global terrorism attacks, the question of intelligence gathering has become the forefront focal point law enforcement, and the importance it plays in prevention of such vile attacks. While it is a vital component to investigation techniques to gather electronic intelligence, the risk/reward balance of intruding on innocent citizens and foreign nationals means that personal vigilance and self-policing should be the correct approach to this problem. As we wrestle with the best ways to navigate through this ethical maze, each of us must undertake a sense of personal vigilance and vanguard to safeguard our personal information and vital identity documents, for ourselves.

A recent changing of the guard has occurred, as the control of the U.S. Internet DNS registry passed from the Federal government to the ICANN organization (a multi-national organization that works across borders, companies, and governments, to establish web standards, DNS indices, and support WC3 committee); a twenty year process that was just completed last week. While uses of the web will see little, surface changes in their day-to-day life; having a decentralized governing body might make a more fluid level of privacy oversight and protection. Such developments make it a greater concern that one must “mind there, own store,” and keep prying eyes and ears away from your sensitive data. What is something that you can do to accomplish this task, you may ask. The answers can be found in the pages of this blog, and this fine article.

Various tools and apps I have brought forward to you, my readers, over the last, few years, have been in this vein of personal Internet security, and today, I have another fine addition to bring your attention, Steganos Privacy Suite 18. This multitasking suite allows its users to cover their various “digital fingerprints/footprints” in nine tools; each with its focus on how your information interfaces with the wider world, and the global Internet. Each application contained inside of the main program has such specialized usage and systematic layouts that you should find it easy in getting this program configured with minimal effort. Each tool will make sure that what you share on the web is safe, acceptable, and only what you want to share, and not what Big Brother may want you to share online.

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Confidentiality is a rare commodity in these digitally-pervasive times; where the personal, intimate details of a person’s life, property, financial, and occupational records can be raided with easy aplomb. Numerous data hacks, leaks, and DDoS attacks have laid bare individuals and celebrities’ information that has led to identify theft, public shaming/embarrassment, and cost people millions, if not billions of dollars in losses.  What can a person do to protect themselves from such risks? The answer, as you probably guessed from my articles and many other’s is a multi-faceted approach to personal Internet security.

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A piece of the puzzle is the use of a secured data storage area. Having a dedicated area, walled off from general access makes the contents difficult to hack into or access, remotely without express permission. It also has the added benefit of keeping people from snooping on your private data, at the local level, too.  The ease of use that Steganos Privacy Suite 18 provides is very intuitive and easy to establish. All you have to do is choose a location, size, and once generated, set a password to lock/unlock the area, and began to transfer/use the area for sensitive data/information. I cannot stress how important it should be for you to utilize such a storage solution if you want a nice peace of mind, and knowledge that what you put inside this region of your system is secure.

Having a dedicated space for locking down your files is an important step, but that alone is not sufficient to occlude your vital information from nefarious entities. You must also take additional steps, one which includes cryptography of individual files. Steganos has you covered in this area, as well. Their Privacy Suite 18 has a module, called Crypt & Hide, that allows you to add files/folders, and text into a secured, password-protected file. In doing so, you can restrict access to its contents from parties that you do not want to get their hands on it. The uses of such a security measure can be utilized alone and/or in conjunction with other encryption-level applications and certificate exchange services (e.g. OpenPGP).

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As recent news and technology has shown us, on a global scale, being able to encode our files in a secure container format and transmit them across the web, via e-mail, cloud storage, or CDN site hosting; in a manner that cannot be easily eavesdropped on or waylaid in route. Only be encrypting your files, can you add the technological protections needed to maintain a sense of privacy and autonomy. Sending/storing the file unencrypted is just asking for trouble, so do not make that mistake, and use the Crypt & Hide module from Steganos Privacy Suite 18.

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I could elaborate on the several, other modules, but from what you have already seen, I am sure that you will agree that what this security suite has to offer is more than the price of admission. The cost of this fine program is $59.99 USD, and they offer a free 30-day trial, so you can test out the program, and see if it meets your needs. This fine company stands behind what they produce and sell, so you know that your satisfaction will be attended to by these professionals. I know that once you try this great, spectrum-spanning array of security tools, you will only say one thing, “I will take it!”Until next time, keep on techin’. . .

Disconnect VPN – Privacy Pro 1.13 In-Depth Review:

Disconnect VPN – Privacy Pro 1.13 In-Depth Review:

My readership knows how much I treasure privacy and security, with growing concerns that gain strength, with more revelations that governments, corporations, and hacktivist groups are tracking our movements, week after week. This occurs many times, without our express, implicit, permission or legal presidents that justify such surveillance. I highlight companies that help the honest citizen, fight back against such invasive and overreaching practices. One such company that is fighting the good fight is Disconnect, a heralded Virtual Private Network Provider (VPN).

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For those of my readership, who have nominal knowledge and experience with VPN services, I can assure you the process is very hassle-free with Disconnect, and their service platforms (extensions, plugins, apps, etc.). The instructions are very straightforward and require basic software operation skills for PC, tablets, and smartphones. The value proposition inherent in using a service like this is weighed carefully, and once you see the benefits, I am sure that you will find the price point a solid bargain.

disconnect_logoOne, key way of analyzing how this might be helpful to you, and worth the cost can be seen in the gains that you make in data consumption. In looking at the benefits of having ads, tracking protocols, and other data-gobbling data filtered out of your connection, (via VPN) will not only give you peace of mind, but also better speed utilization and greater privacy that using a direct connection to the web. In prior articles that I have written, along with a cacophony of other tech insiders, who have documented and well cited the fact that every piece of data that comes in the down-link can both eat up any caps on monthly transmission limits, but also clog the storage and memory usage of the receiving devices. This is particularly true of mobile smart devices and hotspots, as most provides give you limited and/or throttled data thresholds/month; such devices also have limited storage/memory capacity (usually stated in GB’s).

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On top of this nuisance/menace potentiality, malware has become a greater threat, as the “black hats” have undertaken making phishing/impostors apps that mimic and steal vital information from unsuspecting customers. One way that such nefarious programs get onto devices is through bogus websites/tracking telemetry. With Disconnect protecting you web-enabled computers and mobile devices, this risk is greatly decreased and said sources will have a more difficult time getting to your identity and personal information. With breaches at some of the largest tech companies in the world, where people’s info was stolen with legitimate apps, it is vitally important to make sure the bogus one’s do not get through.

disconnect_scree_capture01 Another excellent benefit of having a VPN is the ability to circumvent Geo-fencing, or the practice of restricting Internet access, based on your location. While in the nation of the United States of America (where I live), we still have a U.S. Constitutional First Amendment that guarantees us freedom of speech, but in many parts of the world, that is not the case. Having access to a VPN allows the user’s of that network service the anonymity to get redacted information and share details of the inner workings of oppressive regimes. A secondary benefit of a Geo-fencing masking IP is the ability to set/show your location as another region on the world, to enjoy content is available to that part of the world, alone. This must be done, under the auspices of acceptable terms of use of any web services one may be subscribed to as a member.disconnect_screen_capture_smartphone01

You may be asking what does a comprehensive VPN service cost to use. The answer may surprise you, as the cost has a range of prices to choose from, starting at Free (Basic – Protect One Browser, Block Trackers, and Search Privately), $40.00 USD (Pro –Block Trackers & Malware across the entire system, with a 44% speed increase in performance, 39% less bandwidth consumption, and longer battery life (if applicable), and $50.00 USD/yr.- 3 Devices (Premium – Pro privacy and performance, secure WI-FI, and full location masking with the VPN). In addition to these levels of coverage, they have a one-time purchase that offers a VPN module for iOS, called Privacy Pro. The cost of this app is $29.99 USD, and grants the user of an iDevice a nice amount of privacy protection and tracking protection, via a VPN configuration plugin for the operating system. All together, each of these work well in conjunction with each other and make a fine addition to one’s security protection plan. All in all, this is a nice company and nice products to help keep your life, data, and online activity, private. Tell them I sent you, and keep on techin’!

Day-of-Release: Ashampoo Slideshow Studio HD 4.0

Day-of-Release: Ashampoo Slideshow Studio HD 4.0

Two generations ago, family and friends might gather around a projector screen, with a slide projector with a slide rotary caddy. They would take these opportunities to recap trips they went on, things they saw, and people they experienced the events with. As been the subject of numerous parodies and skits, people have been subjected to seeing the same scene, over and over again, with off-handed quotes. You typically hear such things as “Here is Gene, on the right!” Now he is on the left!” “You remember the heat that day, Gene?” What do you think, Barbra?” The purpose of these gatherings was to track and chart the milestones of people’s life.

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Today, the technology is different, but the purpose has carried on into day, with computers, mobile device cameras, optical media (DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K-UHD) and streaming video being the media that these memories are recorded onto for preservation. The scope has been expanded to now encompass the avenues of commerce, education, entertainment, and journalism, in addition to the personal recordings of yesteryear. The learning curve of these software programs has varied over the years, coupled with the available feature sets that they each offer. If you get an easy-to-use program, the features might be limited. If you choose a more full-featured program, you tend to find yourself facing a less-friendly GUI/UX that is much less intuitive and systematic.

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I am glad to report to you, today, that a new, more powerful, and full-featured program has debuted today, from those fine folks at Ashampoo, entitled Slideshow Studio HD 4.0. This great program fully carries forward the fine, long-standing tradition that Ashampoo has come to represent; demonstrated by the craftsmanship you find in this and all of their programs. Not only does have the standard functions you would expect from a slideshow program, but the forward-looking embrace 4K Ultra-High-Definition video standard that is bursting on the scene.scr_ashampoo_slideshowstudio_hd4_simplemode_adapt_to_music

This promises of up to 8x the resolution of 1080P video, with support for High-Dynamic Range (HDR) for extreme life-like imagery and natural shadows, mid-range tones, and highlights. As Hollywood has begun taking this file format as the go-to choice for how they capture our blockbusters, and present them to us for home theater consumption, not many home enthusiasts programs offer this functionality, but Slideshow Studio HD 4.0 comes through for you, in this regard.

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Not only does this software program that has these feature-set, included, but it also introduces the addition of 17 new transition effects, not available in prior versions. If the included transitions and effects that come bundled with the program do not meet all of your needs, post-launch, additional templates will be made available, free of charge from their website. I can attest that having an online depository for specialized templates has been a lifesaver, on several occasions, with other software; I am very looking forward to have this resource for this program available to me and to you, my faithful readers.

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As a faithful user of iOS devices for seven years or so, I need tools and software that allows me to enjoy my media and share it with those in my circle, on these devices. While I have yet to make a mobile-enabled slideshow, with Slideshow Studio HD 4.0, has specialized output settings for these devices, so you have full confidence that your final project will work on these devices, with minimal hassle and problems. For those of you that use Android or other operating systems on your mobile devices, they have output device profiles for those pieces of equipment.

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As you may recall my wife has a home-based art business, and she has branched into tutorials and training videos, in addition to her artwork for sale. She has done videos on Periscope, and uploaded some basic time-elapsed videos of her paintings, but having this tool in her arsenal will allow her to create more polished and professional videos in this vein. I can see that she might very well start laying a narration track over her work, and better explain her creative process to help budding artist reach their potential. I can see that the software’s support of this feature will help her obtain her goal for this purpose.

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Right now, if you purchase this program on the launch day or soon after (which is today, July, 11, 2016), you can have this program for 50% off its regular price of $39.99 USD for a Single-User License. This is a nice savings, and will allow you to become a paying customer for Ashampoo’s products, and might entitle you to future upgrades and discounts on this program, as well as the other members of their product family line. In my opinion, this is well worth the money for such a powerful and versatile program that can be used for personal and professional projects, alike. If you need this program for multi-user environments or for business purposes, you can contact them for a price quote, directly. If you still are not convinced that this is for you, you can use their trial version, and test it out for yourself. As always, keep on techin’!

Gamani GIF Movie Gear 4.3 In-Depth Review:

Gamani GIF Movie Gear 4.3 In-Depth Review:

Social media has grown in importance and significance as the years have gone by, with memes being used to share popular culture and trending topics. Gone are the days of 8-bit (256 colors) simple graphics of the early 1990’s, replaced with 24-bit/32-bit true color images that show HD movies and TV clips of today. Such changes have required file formats to evolve, and animated icons and images are no different. As PNG image formats have supplanted GIF for web images, so too APNG format has began to replace animated GIF’s. Trying to find a qualified program that accomplishes this that is easy to understand, use, and is reasonable priced, is a fairly narrow field. The cream of the crop can be found in Gamani Productions GIF Movie Gear, which supports both the legacy GIF format and the aforementioned APNG formats.

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This program has a very familiar interface that anyone who has familiarity with standard Win32-Bit/Win64-Bit applications can attest. Inset inside of the main window, you can see a sub frame, which allows you to open a file, add frames, or start the tutorial. As you can see, the main window has a toolbar, with File, Edit, Frame, Animation, View, and Help, common to an art program. The thrust of this program is to take a series of still images that you have already created/imported, and turn them into an animation, cursor, or icon. You can also break down an existing animation, and turn it back into individual still images. This program also allows you to blend/merge multiple animations into a single animation that is a hybrid of the originals. Above these options, you can make edits and palate changes to your animations.

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Breaking down individual elements of this program will allow you to better comprehend and understand how these files are created, and the nuances that go into producing professional-grade final images and animations. The tutorial will take you through some sample images, animations, and modifications. I have followed these steps that the program’s author outlines, and as someone who has minimal experience with making animations, I had very little trouble following the instructions. Anyone has any image manipulation experience, can do this with ease. I like how you can take a portion of an image that does not really change between frames and streamline the final animation, by just using the parts that do change. Bottom line, this program has an easy-to-follow, systematic approach that anyone can use.

You may be asking what does a program such as this might cost. The answer may surprise you, as it is only cost $29.95 USD. Many graphic design programs cost well above this price point, and cannot easily do these tasks, with the same ease. This price is for a single-computer license, and entitles you to tech support and extended customer service. If you need this program for corporate environments or multi-computer setups, you can request a price quote for bulk orders. I definitely believe this program is well worth the cost, and I can see putting this in to practice with both creating memes fir social media and potential animations on my blog website.  If you still are uncertain, you can try the program risk-free for 30 days, in a trial/demo version of the program. Check out this program and company and I know that you will agree that Gamani Productions and GIF Movie Gear are well worth your business. Buy this great program, and tell them I sent you. Until next time, keep on animating!

Ashampoo WinOptimizer 14 In-Depth Review:

Ashampoo WinOptimizer 14 In-Depth Review:

As a technician, I know all too well how important routine maintenance on your system is to its overall health. Back from the days of Symantec, and its Norton Utilities and SystemWorks program suites, people have been clamoring for advanced and full-featured tools that augment the operating systems ability to manage their hard drives and registry. As the last twenty years can attest, the growth of the Internet and its transmitted data left behind in people’s systems has only grown the need to add temporary file cleaning and cookie management to system tools, beyond the blocking of malware and pop-ups. While such programs has traditional cost upwards of around $99.99 USD for a single, consumer license, back in the late 1990’s, options available today can be had for less money. You may ask who I should trust with these vital system tasks, the answer is the fine folks at Ashampoo, and their new flagship system utilities suite, WinOptimizer 14.

box_ashampoo_winoptimizer_14_frontThis fine product launches, today, and I can tell you that this program has a nice pedigree of both features and solid customer service/support. At only $49.99 USD for a single license, this program covers the following features and services: Computer Management (info, performance, restore points, processes, etc.), Security (privacy setting, file deletion, file encryption, file splitting, and file restoration), Hard Drive(s) (free space, defragmentation, health status, resource hogs analysis, software uninstallation, duplicate files, speed measurement, etc.), Internet (delete web traces and connection optimization), Operation System (registry clean-up, defrag registry, service management, system settings, icon positions, rick-click menus, file associations, and user permissions), and General Settings (undo changes, maintenance plans, and options). These umbrella categories allow you to protect, tweak, and customize how Microsoft Windows 10 performs for you individual system. While this operating system does have some of these functionalities, it is not as encompassing as WinOptermizer 14 or as user friendly as Ashampoo’s GUI layout across their program family. Breaking down some of these sections will allow me to highlight what each facet of this program suite can be of use to you, my readers, in your daily lives.

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Of primary concern to both business and consumer users is security in the 21st. Century, Internet-connected, inter-operative devices and networks. As I have highlighted before, being able to set limits on data sharing between your computer, operating system, and third parties is a high priority. WinOptermizer 14 has a nice, clean interface that lets you set the different telemetry data restrictions, Cortana (Microsoft’s virtual assistant/search app integrator) limits, and how your apps interact with your personal data. These limits help protect who you are, and what programs you use, to shield companies from using this data for marketing, without your permission.

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A simple menu module that gives each category (where features are held) on the left and various tabs that allows you to make sub-category choices from there, via checkbox. The process is straight forward and very intuitive, even for someone who has any form of disability (such as me), and explains what these changes will mean to the user, and whether or not you want to enable/disable said options. Such straight forwardness is not often found in many security-focused programs, but Ashampoo has made this a priority.

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Along with app/telemetry data protections, WinOptermizer 14 is a strong cookie/temp file deletion program. No matter what browser you might choose to use (Edge, IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera), the simple, concise module will show you what junk is left behind from your browsing/downloading. Each browser has its own row, so you can be selective of what you remove or leave behind. Most people will want to delete all of their history, cookies, temp files, etc. to best protected themselves from snooping and any nefarious usage of their system on the Internet.

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The likelihood is not high, but with ransonware and new forms of malware being developed all of the time, it is better to be safe than sorry. One added benefit of this habit is it wills the freeing up of hard drive storage consumed by accumulated web debris. I can tell you how quickly these types of files can eat up your drive space. When I was an active on-site tech for a major IT companies, I had a service call, in which I had to start an Internet cleanup sweep for a residential customer. I had to leave it running overnight, and when I checked up on the progress the next day, the customer informed me that he had retrieved back over 3.5 GB of disk space. Not only did that give some breathing room on the drive, but allowed the man and his wife to be able to visit websites without a tremendous slowdown on connection speeds. This is a vital toolset and task that should be done with great regularity.

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I could inundate you with more benefits of a system utility suite, but the program really can speak for itself. The thing I want you to take away from this article is that you need this program in your computer life. No matter if you use everything that this program offers; whatever you choose to implement it is well worth the price tag. As I alluded to you earlier, many programs of this type cost around $100.00 USD, but Ashampoo WinOptimizer 14 only cost half of that price. If you are not certain that you need this program, you can of course try out the trial/demo version. If you act now, they can offer you an extended trial period, to give you extra time to decide if you want to get this great program. Also, as this is a new version of this program, you can buy this for 40% off ($29.99 USD, instead of $49.99 USD). Once you try this program, you will become not only a customer of WinOptimizer 14, but all of Ashampoo, and their product family. Just try this program, and I know you will agree. Until next time, keep on computing. . .

Ashampoo Snap 9 In-Depth Review:

Ashampoo Snap 9 In-Depth Review:

My regular readers will know that I use screen captures, frequently, in my review and product highlights. I have reviewed programs from this software category before, but I wanted to revisit this area, due to some people needing to not only capture static images, but videos/clips. While so far I have not done video tutorials or instructional feeds, the potentiality of being able to do so may spark some creativity in my mind for future applications. Most capture programs that can do static captures or even use the alt-print-screen keyboard shortcuts, if you do not have capture software installed. However, Ashampoo and its software cadre of programs come to the rescue! The great program that takes the lead is Ashampoo Snap 9 and it is loaded with features for all capture duties.

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Screen resolutions are growing all of the time, with a new benchmark being 4K (2160P: 4,096px x 2,160px), becoming the top-tier for consumer and web media production. Most programs top out at 1080P, but not so with Snap 9. This great program can allow to you make screen captures and snaps of your desktop, browser, windows selection, and so forth. This is especially nice, if you are fortunate to have an ultra hi-resolution monitor/TV to work on and create clips. Even if you have a screen size and resolution that you are using, which does not match or too large for your final application usage, you can take this program and size it down for distribution; vital for streaming and downloading on non high-speed connections.

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Resolution aside, a standout of this program is the ability to use OCR text processing with your captures. No matter what languages that you might use in your projects, Snap 9 has support for seven languages (Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish, Turkish, and Russian). Being able to take your captures that contain text and either convert them to usable design elements or isolate them as editable and type-able font excerpts that you can reuse. I have had middling results with OCR before, but I am sure that you will find that Ashampoo’s results with Snap 9 to be great!

 

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For my readers, who might be growing in their skills with more advanced video-making tools, I am happy to report that this fine program has built-in support for major graphic design software suites and social media distribution. If you happen to use video editing software that is compatible with Adobe Photoshop and its file formats, Snap 9 has supports for all layers and objects. You can export to WBEP format and auto-sizing of the content for whatever destination platform or device you are optimizing for.

 

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Social media support allows you to share your captures on Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, and Twitter. If you have an Ashampoo Web account, you can upload them to the service, and share links to your videos with unique links. If social network platforms are not your speed, Snap 9 can aid you in sending your e-mail, via a dedicated client or through a web-based email service. No matter what way you want to share with people, your clips and captures are going to be up to the task.

 

What does such a full-featured program such as this cost you? The short answer is $49.99 USD, for non-members of Ashampoo products. If you have purchased other products from them, you can pick this up for $24.99 USD, as a reward for customer loyalty. If you are a registered owner of a prior version, you can upgrade for $19.99 USD, also for previous purchases. Unsure if this program is for you, you can try the demo version out first.

logo_w10_comp_blueI know that once you try this, you will buy this without reservation. Ashampoo’s products are time-tested, blogger-approved programs are great, and they have stellar support to backup any issues that may arise. They get my unabashed endorsement, and your usage of them will only grow and grow. If you think of great Windows programs, think Ashampoo!

SoftOrbits Privacy Protector for Windows 10 1.6 Review:

SoftOrbits Privacy Protector for Windows 10 1.6 Review:

Twenty-first Century O/S’s have many advantages of built-in programs and features, but they can have some undesired side effects. One of those categories is the emergence of data mining and privacy leeching. With the latest operating systems and programs, individuals and businesses have had to weight trading their personal data and information, for enhanced services and free software. As society movies away from traditional media channels, with their in-place advertising systems and metrics, to on-demand, 24/7 world, with these same groups clamoring for all the information and customer data they can retrieve. They need this info to help them reach their customers and make more sales, but at the cost of the individual’s privacy.  You need these programs, but how can you combat these requests and take advantage of these new programs, you may ask. Your friends at SoftOrbits have you protected, and ready to move ahead.

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Their new privacy advocacy protection program, Privacy Protector for Windows 10 allows you to install Microsoft Windows 10, and then shield them from snooping on your data, searches, keystrokes, OneDrive, etc. Being able to take advantage of the advanced features of this cutting-edge operating system, while establishing boundaries between you and these corporations is a great compromise. Not only can you shield these aforementioned elements, but also remove the pesky built-in apps (Metro apps) that come bundled with the operating system. This is a great addition, if you never use these programs, and would rather use alternatives or need programs to access these slated file types.

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The list of options that can be chosen range from establishing a system restore point to deleting the OneDrive application. I recommend that you choose the following options: delete the key logger and telemetry, spying tasks, block spy hosts, deny access to your Contacts, Calendar, Camera, Location, Sensors, Messages, Handwriting, Disabled Cortana, Bing Search, Wi-Fi Sense, password reveal, etc. These features can help provide a nice level of protection, while allowing you to still carry on with basic Windows features. While some people may love Cortana’s virtual assistant and scheduler, I am not comfortable with Microsoft or any company building a profile of my personal habits, on my searches and appointments. If you are fine with this level of data sharing, you can leave this option unchecked. No matter what options that might pick, you will go a long way to keep your information yours.

 

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As I alluded to you earlier, some people might want to remove the built-in Metro apps. It might be a space requirement (HDD space), or maybe these apps you do not personally like or find intuitive. It also might be based on the fact the Metro apps do not work for the file types you might need or use regularly. I personally use other media programs for music/video playback, so my usage of Groove Music will be minimal or not at all. It might consider uninstalling this program to free up some space or to keep this from accidently becoming the default program for these file types. If I choose to do so, I will use this program to remove it, as it cannot be uninstalled from the Programs menu in the Control Panel.

 

The last section that this program offers is the Tools section. Inside of this menu, there are just a few options to pick from that allows you to modify the Windows Update feature, restore the system, disable User Account Control (UAC), and finally edit the Hosts file. Each of these features has their uses, especially if you are leery of Windows Update causing you problems or the UAC causing you to not be able to run/install programs correctly. The Hosts file editing option is great for experienced technicians to make tweaks to what website DNS look-ups your system uses.

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No matter what level of your technical skill-set you possess, this program makes your Windows 10 installation behave the way it should have, right from the factory. I know how well this company stands behind its products, so I can only imagine what they have in store for this program, once the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition launches later this summer.

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I know once you try SoftOrbits Privacy Protector of Windows 10, you will buy this game, immediately. As always, this program comes in three tiers. The first tier is Personal ($39.99 USD), which allows you to use this software on one computer, in a non-commercial, non-business environment. The second tier is Home ($59.99 USD), which is the same as Personal, except it can be used on two computers, instead of one. The last tier is Business ($99.99 USD), which can be used in commercial and business environments. These all include minor updates to the program, and you can try the demo, before you buy the program. A great product, and great company; you cannot get better than that, folks! Until next time, everybody . . .

SoftOrbits Sketch Drawer 4.0 Review

SoftOrbits Sketch Drawer 4.0 Review

Many times we have wanted to take an image/photo that we have created or taken, and wondered what that would look it, if it was a drawing or painting. Professional graphic toolsets have this capability, with varying results and price points. However, they lack a very intuitive interface, nor a nice preview window, to show you what you might expect in your choices. I know, as someone, who has graphic design training and experience, this area of image manipulation has always underwhelmed me, and I have never liked using this in my projects. In being exposed to and very impressed by SoftOrbits and their product line, I was happy to find that they had a niche program to accomplish this with minimal fuss or complications. This excellent program is known as either Sketch Drawer or “Photo-to-Sketch Converter.

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In a unified program layout, that very closely resembles their, other programs, Sketch Drawer allows you to add your images into the main window, and then choose from the various artistic filters/finishes. You might want to make your photos look like pen and ink drawings; you can do that with this program. You want to convert a photo to an artistic rendering, reminiscent of an architectural drawing, this has you covered. Markers, plastic, sepia tone, numerous filters are available to pick from, that are customizable with several sliders.

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In my samples that you can see here, I took another of my photos that I took on my rail trip, the Roseville Train Station, and made it into a drawing.

Rosewood_station_sm_AfterI love how this captured the fine details and gave a look of a scene from back in the heyday, more than a contemporary photo. My second example is where I converted my lovely wife’s portrait from a snapshot into a stylized toner/plastic processed image.Carmen_Outside_Before

It picks up the nuanced color splotches and grain of the simulated paper to create a unique representation of her beautiful face. This is just a very small sampling of what I could have chosen.Carmen_Outside_After

You may ask, what could a piece of software like this mean to the average user? The answer is quite a lot. The industry of home-made art projects and crafts are on a booming trajectory, with social sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat on the rise. People tweet, chat, post, and generally share images, that have filters to increase interest in the subject. Using this program, you can download your images from your phone, tablet, or digital camera, make artistic edits, and then share your creation with the world. On top of this application, you can take your family photos or images and use this great tool to make custom filtered elements for cards, posters, and other printable projects to express any message or greeting you can imagine. The possibilities are endless; just use your imagination.

No matter what features that options a program has, cost is a paramount concern. Fortunately, SoftOrbits has several levels and prices to meet your needs. They have four tiers: beginners/hobbyists, intermediate/customizers, and professionals/artists, and finally businesses. Each tier has various options, and plugins, for these groups. The Lite level ($29.99 USD) gives you the pre-formatted presets, which are good for people just looking to take their pictures and make standard drawings. The Standard level ($49.99 USD) is for individuals that are looking for presets that can be altered or changed from the originals. This tier is the most popular, and the one I recommend for almost all users. It allows you to create nuanced variants of your images, and gives you everything you need, sans the specialized watermark tools for copyright protection that the professional graphic designers will need. If you need these tools, the Professional level ($79.99) includes these tools. The Business level ($99.99 USD) is for multi-user commercial or government entities that need these tools on an enterprise level. No matter which level you think you might need, they have a demo to try out, and see for yourself.

I know that if you try this out for yourself, you will become hooked and want this in your digital life. Being disabled and take my photos and create fine drawings is a nice way for me to continue my artwork production. You have disabilities yourself or have difficulty copying photos into drawings; this is going to save your bacon. Check it out, and I know you will buy this, hands down. Until next time . . . adios!