Windows software of the day [March 27, 2012]

Windows has hundreds of thousands of programs. Because of this great volume and lack of a central store, software discovery (aka finding new and useful programs) is extremely difficult. With our Windows Software of the Day initiative, dotTech aims to change that. Everyday we post three programs, allowing our readers to discover new software, daily. Enjoy! [Subscribe to our Windows section to never miss an article: RSS Feed | E-mail]

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Software for March 27, 2012

Don’t Sleep

Lots of programs like to restart your computer after they get installed or uninstalled. It’s the worst! Use Don’t Sleep to prevent this and your prevent computer from going into standby, being shut down, and going into screensaver mode.

It also has an automatic schedule function, which is quite nifty, along with providing quick links to various system settings like the monitor and user accounts settings.

Price: Free!

Version discovered: v2.71

Supported OS: Windows Server 2000/2003/2005, Windows 98/XP/Vista/7/8

Download size: 38.2KB

Malware scan: VirusTotal scan results 0/43

Don’t Sleep homepage

Picture Collage Maker Pro

A well-done collage can look really nice, and they can make an event stand out in an album. If you’ve ever tried to create a collage in a photo program, though, you’d know how difficult it is and how the results can often be subpar. PCMP is a program that aims to make collage creation as simple and easy as possible, and it fulfills that duty well.

PCMP offers a wide array of templates for many holidays (including the upcoming April Fool’s Day, interestingly enough) so you’ll never be without a useful starting point. And after you select a template (or decide to start without one) it’s as easy as can be to add your pictures: either double click an existing image, or just drag and drop new ones in.

PCMP lets you set custom backgrounds and custom masks around your pictures so that they aren’t all a monotonous rectangle. It also has high quality clip art, and lets you easily share your collage via email, so when you’re done it’s not left sitting on your computer to never be seen again.

If you ever need to create a collage, PCMP is a high-quality, fast and easy choice with plenty of features.

Price: $39.90

Version discovered: v3.2.8

Supported OS: Windows NT 4.0/XP/Server 2003/Vista/7

Download size: 68.1MB

Malware scan: N/A — too big for VirusTotal

Picture Collage Maker Pro homepage

System Information for Windows

Need to know eactly what your graphics card is? Need the exact model number of your motherboard? System Information for Windows is an all-in-one tool that can give you all that. In fact, it’ll give you that an your RAM manufacturer!

And SIW is more than just a hardware ID tool. It can be used to get software information, like OS version and services information, as well.

SIW is a great tool for those that want to know even more about their hardware and their manufacturers. It’s small, easy to use, and well laid out, and it’s free, too!

Price: Free for non-commercial use, $39.95 business license

Version discovered: v2011 build 1029h

Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/7

Download size: 3.6MB

Malware scan: VirusTotal scan results 0/43

System Information for Windows homepage

dotTechies: We have tested all the software listed above. However, Windows Software of the Day articles are not intended as “reviews” but rather as “heads-up” to help you discover new programs. Always use your best judgement when downloading programs, such as trying trial/free versions before purchasing shareware programs, if applicable.

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13 comments

  1. smaragdus

    @Ashraf

    I am extremely touchy about any kind of ads and I fight them by using either programs (AdFender, Privoxy, PeerBlock, etc), or browser add-ons (Adblock Plus, Ghostery, Gmail Ad Remover, NoScript, etc). One of the reasons I discarded Opera as a default browser was its primitive ads-blocking extensions. About OpenCandy, I don’t consider it a serious threat because before I install any piece of software I first check it at Softpedia (the guys at Softpedia are doing incredible work), if an app contains an add-ware module, Softpedia always warns the users (the warning being written in red and orange colours) that the app offers two instalation modes, custom and default, or that it offers to install any toolbars/change the default home page or the default search engine. Years ago I installed on a friend’s PC a messenger (QIP) that severely damaged the system so the only cure was re-isntalling the OS and after this I am extremely cautious any time I should install anything.

    There is another reason always to download from Softpedia- there are developers that create two versions of a program- an ad-ware version available for download at their own site, and a clean version, available only at Softpedia. One example- GetGo Download Manager from GetGoSoft, the application available for download at http://www.getgosoft.com/ – GetGoDMSetup.exe is 5692 KBs and contains a toolbar, while GetGoDMSetupSP.exe (Special Edition) available at Softpedia is only 2703 Kbs and is clean. Although it is clean at Softpedia it is listed as Ad-supported-
    “Users are advised to pay attention while installing this ad-supported application:
    · Displays ad banners or other types of advertising material during its runtime”

    only because it has a Search Toolbar, although that it can be easily hidden from application’s window (View- Toolbars- untick Search Toolbar).

    Other developers like Martin Prikryl, the man behind WinSCP project, offer also two installers, one ‘clean’ (winscp437setup.exe) and one containing OpenCandy (winscp437setup-sponsored.exe), and again Softpedia offers only the ‘clean’ version for download. It is the same with PeaZip, Sumo and many other apps. So, (at least for me) Softpedia is the most reliable download source. When I happen to discover that at a publisher’s FTP server that there is a clean version of an ad-bundled app and I notify Softpedia, sending them the direct download links of the ‘clean’ version, the guys at Softpedia respond immediately removing the links to the ‘unclean’ version and adding those to the ‘clean’ one.

    There are other ways to check whether an app contains ad-ware, for example the EXE file can be extracted (it it is not password-protected), 7-Zip and Universal Extractor can do a great job extracting the files contained in an installer, or submit the EXE to VirusTotal, either manually or by help of an uploader (JottiQ, VirusTotal Uploader, X-Ray, etc). The most dangerous are these apps that force installation of toolbars without users’ consent- no matter that the user has unchecked the option for installing the toolbar it is being installed (one of the reasons I discarded Foxit Reader), this is a fraudulent act and such companies (in my opinion) should not be tolerated.

    For me there is nothing open or sweet in OpenCandy, an installer (in my opinion) should be clean and an installer is the last place I would search for software recommednations. Ad-ware exists because people tolerate it. On my machine ad-ware is prohibited, I have never had any ad-ware (no ad-ware messengers, no ad-ware downloader managers, nothing). I can’t imagine how people can bear all these terrible ads-infected messengers when there are free and clean multi-protocol alternatives that are able to connect to virtually any network (even Facebook and MySpace).

    If an application has two versions, installable and portable, I always choose the portable one (there are rare exceptions when the installer offers some system integration that I need). For me portable is (almost) always better (the Chinese call portable software ‘Green’).

    I highly respect these developers that develop great apps in their spare time and never get tempted to include ad-ware in their products.

  2. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @smaragdus: Believe it or not, I’m actually a fan of OpenCandy. Of course like everyone else I’d prefer programs to not be bundled with third-party programs that users may accidentally install during installation. However, OpenCandy has turned the industry standard of “opt-out-if-you-dont-want” to forcing users to explicitly opt-in or opt-out; plus OpenCandy actually does have some decent programs that it advertises.

    In a world where freeware developers are looking to monetize, I’ll take OpenCandy over any other form of installer ads any day.

  3. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @Mediv: Keep that portable version safe. It is no longer available.

    @patchouli: The Standalone version is no longer available but the free installation version is: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/11159784/cdn/oc/siw-setup.exe. Also, VirusTotal found no virus (see scan link above).

    @Jerry Blalock: VirusTotal found nothing (see link above).

    @Snoops: I may sound like a broken record but VirusTotal found nothing.

    @Phil: Interesting, didn’t know it had OpenCandy. Thanks for the tip!

    @Mike: Yep, covered Caffeine a while back. See http://dottech.org/freeware-reviews/6801/keep-your-computer-awake-and-active-with-caffeine/

  4. Mike

    Like the different features of Don’t Sleep–will check it out.

    A nifty. small program to prevent the screen from timing off (and hibernation/shut-down likewise) is Caffeine. Yes, I know, one could simply change one’s monitor or other time-out settings, but this utility is just a double-click, on or off, and you’re done. Recommended (especially for Woot-Offs–why I got the utility originally ;^) ).

    http://www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/ (the wonderful producer of Stickies freeware as well–check it out!)

  5. patchouli

    “SIW Standalone Freeware Version has been discontinued
    Buy SIW Technician’s Version (Standalone).

    Buy SIW Technician’s Version (39.95$)
    SIW Pro Trial Contact Us”

    Then, Norton found a security threat in the free download.
    Phoey!