Archive for the Graphics Category

Fast Friendly and Efficient Way to Change Icons!

Posted in Desktop Enhancement, Graphics, Utilities on November 8, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

As most everyone knows, there are several ways to change your desktop icons. Some of them work but have problems with things like the “recycle bin” or C:…. Some of them require you to boot up a program and manage it from there. I’ve even run into some that will change the icon but the icon won’t stay changed until you run their program every time after you boot your system. Explorer does an OK job of it but you have to open the “properties” of each file and then select the customize tab and then “browse” and it always starts you off in a window that is buried somewhere deep inside sys32… So, after using just about everything that is available I can now make an informed recommendation to you. By far, themy folder easiest, most efficient way to change your icons is with a free program from Horizon Software named “My Folder”.

After downloading and installing and when you first pull My Folder up there is a slightly clunky initial interface where you select what Icons you want to show in your quick menu. Don’t be discouraged, you won’t have to deal with it very often. Once you point to the folder where your icons are stored you can just right click on a file and then select the appropriate icon from their list. This is the way to go… You can change or color your icons very quickly.

I have had some minor problems with their quick menu lists disappearing and not being available. When this happens I just kill and restart their program and everything works well after that. It doesn’t happen very often and it isn’t a big deal to fix. I highly recommend My Folder to anyone who wants to customize their desktop.

http://www.grafile.com/software/myfolder_free/myfolder_free.html

Flick The Pic – Quick Access to Your Photos From Firefox

Posted in Firefox, Firefox Extension, Free Storage on Internet, Photo, Sidebar, Social Bookmark, Extensions on September 22, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

I use the Flickr photo service because it’s a great photo management site but also because there are a lot of tools available so I can manage my entire online photo experience. One of those tools is the Flickr Sidebar and it’s a great way to look up pictures while you are working on your blog or website or when you want to send an email of a picture… You simply click on your AllinOne Sidebar and it gives you a list of thumbnails on your left panel. If you don’t see what you want you can either search for your photo or just page through them. If you are not using Flickr yet, you should. They are one of the best sites for managing, organizing, and sharing photos. They helped define the online photo business.

You can download the Flickr Sidebar for Firefox at the link below. 

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1717

Sadly, the one thing that Flickr doesn’t do well is organize their ‘tools page’. To download the flickr uploader that I’m using and recommending in this post click on this link.

Breedlink: Flickr Uploader for Windows

The Flickr page of tools is at http://www.flickr.com/tools/ They have a new uploader specifically for XP and a plugin for Windows Explorer that I have yet to use, so I can’t recommend. I’ll be checking those out in the next couple weeks and I’ll post my opinion on them then.

Up Yours – With Firefox Universal Uploader

Posted in Firefox, Firefox Extension, Photo, Utilities on September 20, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

This is an extension that you can’t live without if you want to storespinning blue world video and/or pictures on the Internet. And you should use the Internet because you can get a lot of free space and they have several features that you and your friends and family will benefit from.

The Firefox Universal Uploader is a ‘one stop shop’ for uploading files to several of these online photo services. You can upload to Flickr, Picasa, Youtube, Box.net(1GB of free space), Facebook, Webshots and OmniDrive.

This extension works well with everything else in our suite of Firefox extensions. boulder rollerI use 2 of the services mentioned, Flicker and Picassa. I have multiple Picassa accounts because I have multiple Gmail accounts. You have virtually unlimited space because you can sign up for as many Gmail accounts as you want and this upload manager will allow you to manage them seamlessly.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4724

Don’t Point, It’s Rude. Change Your Cursor to Something Pleasant.

Posted in Desktop Enhancement, Graphics, Utilities on September 17, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

If you are running windows XP or Windows 2000 you can take advantage of Cursor XP freeware.lady of fire Which is, by far, the best solution for changing your cursor available. Their are hundreds of animated cursors available for you to download from the ‘Wincustomize’ site.

Download CurserXP from this link!

http://www.download.com/3001-2317_4-10357248.html

If you’re running something other than XP or if you want to try something other than CursorXP then you can check out Realworld’s Cursor Changer. It is a more ‘basic or standard’ solution. If you’re on a different operating system you’ll need to check and make sure it will work for you. There seems to be a fuzzy line here… If your operating system stores cursors in c:\Windows\cursor\ then it would seem like it would have a good chance at working for you but you should check out the compatibility statement and decide if it is worth checking out.

Realworld has developed a freeware product named ‘change cursor’. It took me a while to figure out how to engage this because after I loaded it I couldn’t figure out if it was doing anything, and it wasn’t (I’m terrible at reading directions). After you install the software you need to go to C:\Windows\Cursor\ and right click on one of the cursor pictures you see and it will bring up a context menu and you select ‘change cursor’ and there you will see that you can assign different pictures to the functions listed. There are 3 different kind of files in this directory; .ani = animated, .cur = just a still image, .crs = a complete configuration. If you pick a .crs file it is like picking a theme of cursors. The first time you do this you’ll probably have to go through and pick different .cur and .ani files for the different functions (normal, precision select, busy, working…) and then you can save it as a ‘scheme’ and that is what creates the .crs files.

http://www.rw-designer.com/change-cursor

You can also download cursor pictures from Realworld’s site and a variety of other sites also carry these standard cursor pictures (.ani & .cur). Or, if you prefer, you can create your own cursor pictures! RealWorld has a free cursor editor package. I have not tried that out so I can’t really recommend it here.

http://www.rw-designer.com/cursor-library

ps – While searching for .ani & .cur pictures to download (after download you just drag the individual files into c:\windows\cursor\) there are so many icon and cursor editors that I had a hard time finding sites to download just the .cur and .ani files from. Those files are out there and you can find them but you have to weed through all the editors to find them.

Free Icons – Come and Get Em!

Posted in Desktop Enhancement, Graphics, Utilities, Web Site on September 11, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

Napoleon Dynomite!

It is no easy task to get your system decorated with nice icons but when you live in front of your computer, the way I do, you have the desire to look at something familiar, pleasant, and customized. No one is able to create the ideal environment quickly. There seem to be little road blocks at every turn. In this post I’m going to do my best to make it easy for you to get great icons on your desktop and avoid some of the hassles that I had to go through.

The first thing you need to understand about putting icons on your desktop is that you can’t use a .png file as an icon on XP or NT or any of the older Windows operating systems (like Windows 2000 or 98…). I don’t know why there are so many sites that say they have “free XP icons” but when you go through the site all you find are .png files. There is no secret XP feature that allows you to use .png files for icons, they have to be converted to .ico files. No problem, you would think that you could just convert these .png files to .ico files and all would be well but it isn’t that easy because your computer uses several sizes of the icon so you can view them in a variety of ways. For example, when you select ‘view’ from file manager and then select ‘list’, you are viewing a 16×16 pixle icon but when you ask to ‘view’ a ‘thumbnail’ or a ’tile’ it is a 24×24 pixel icon. Therefore, it is important to understand that a .ico file has several pictures bundled into it and when you convert a .png file to a .ico file it only saves it in one size and when you are working with your computer you’ll notice that you can’t see the image because it is either too small or it is to big and is cropped so you only see about 10% of the image. Therefore, you can either find the right .ico files (which already have several sizes in them) or find a program that will not only convert the .png files to .ico but will also create the different sizes you need. This post is dedicated to finding .ico files that already have the different sizes in them. In a later post, I will be reviewing icon conversion freeware and giving you a recommendation.

This is a post that will be updated as I find new sites. If you know of a site that has some great .ico files please write me a note in the comments section. Check this post often to keep up with the latest icon sites!

Pixelgirl has one of the best sites for downloading icons on the web. Cool Icons, well organized, save yourself some time and still get some great icons by starting at her site.

http://www.pixelgirlpresents.com/icons.php?cat=pc

Another top site for downloading icons is the IconFactory. Everything is organized well, meaning that icons are bundled into zip files for you to download and the zips are clearly labeled as either .ico, .png,…

http://iconfactory.com/freeware

Icon archive has a mix of old icons and new but they are organized well so the icons are bundled into categories so you can download several at a time. This makes it easy to grab a bunch of icons at once and you can pick the ones you want after you unzip it into a file on your PC. You might get some single size files here but you’ll eventually weed out the ones that don’t work. This site is still worthy.

http://www.iconarchive.com/

CoolArchive.com has some good icons but you have to weed through them. They have over 4,000 icons but they don’t have them zipped up so you can download them all at once. They have them broken down into categories and if you see an icon you like you can download it. Not a bad site if you’ve got some free time on your hands and you want to look around but make sure you’ve downloaded some of the iconcocaspeak.png ‘sets’ first. Otherwise you’ll end up killing too much time on icons and it can be a drag.

http://www.coolarchive.com/

cocamail.png

Freeiconsweb has the nicest looking icons of all but you can’t tell what format you are getting until you download the zip. The site is organized well into categories and the icons are packaged up in zips for you to download but when you get the zip it might contain all .png files. I would say about 40% of the files on the site have .ico files in them. Just a heads up… it’s a littlecocablogs.png more work but there are certainly some great icons here if you have the time.

http://www.freeiconsweb.com/

dev.png

NoNags is a site that you can get a lot of value from very quickly but it is a confusing site and can cause some frustration the first time you go there. They have a subscription service and they offer you to either download directly from them (which will cost you 20 bucks a year) or you can download from the mirror sites they list for free. They have about 40 archives and some of them have over a 1000 icons in them. The icons are a bit older but there are some very cool icons if you are willing to spend the night looking through the zip files to pick out the ones you want.

http://www.nonags.com/nonags/icons.html

If you go to the Shareware Connection and search for ‘free icons’ they have some great archives available as well. Same thing as nonags… large archives that you need to go through but also some great icons if you are willing to pick them out.http://www.sharewareconnection.com/

Now that you’ve downloaded all those great icons it’s time to find an easier way to apply them to your folders. Grafile has one of the greatest tools I’ve seen. I only recommend freeware and I’m using the free version of their ‘My Folder Free’ program. They also have a shareware version named ‘My Folder Pro’ but the free version does everything I need it to. After you install the program it puts an option on your context menu that allows you to define a folder where you keep your icons. When you select a file you can choose to bring up a drop down menu of your icons or you can pick to tag the folder (approved, secure, delete…) and you can create other options. The initial setup is a little cryptic (the GUI) but it doesn’t take long to figure out and once you’ve got the context menu working you’re off and running! This is the best freeware for associating icons that I’ve ever seen. It will replace iColor folder (previous post) as the top freeware in this category. So go download it and have some fun!

http://www.grafile.com/

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For those of you who have nice icon editing programs or who have some way to turn .png files into icons or if you are interested in animated .gif files, you might enjoy going to myspace icons. It is a staggering collection of thousands of .png and .gif icons.

http://www.myspacedev.com/myspace-icons/

RED ALERT – SoftwarePile – PCwin – Program = Icon Editor

Posted in Download Management, Graphics, Red Alert on September 9, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

RED ALERT: SOFTWAREPILE and PCWIN

SCAM SITES – Scam sites that are too well done.

http://www.softwarepile.com

PCWIN is also part of the scam and the website is not quite as convincing. I’m mad at myself for downloading the original file from them if you read the descriptions of the product on their site you can tell it is fake. It did raise a red flag to me but I went forward because of the website url that I thought was strong name and the site had extensive formatting.  

http://pcwin.com/

I would stay away from both sites. If you want to see how creepy these sites are go a head and visit them but I’d make sure your ‘noscript’ extension is on and don’t download anything from them.

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I just had a bad experience with a product named ‘Icon Editor’ which I originally downloaded from

http://pcwin.com/Audio/Icon_Editor/report.htm

Which is a download site named PC Win. When I installed it my desktop went blank, I thought it had crashed, and after about a minute it slowly came back. Then my web browser started (I did OK it through my firewall, but every product now requires me to OK it) and it brought me to a site named ‘Pando’. After reading through some of the information I figured out that Pando is a peer to peer application. I was angry that it had installed it on my PC without me asking for it and I was worried about what else they may have installed on my system. I scanned all files associated with the download and install with avast and they all passed (thankfully). Then I tried to run the program I originally wanted but I got an error saying:

‘component actsplash.ocs or one of its dependencies is not correctly registered: one of its files is either missing or invalid.’

I decided to go to check out the application at the developers page and I was surprised to find a nice looking, well designed web site at this address:

http://www.softwarepile.com/icon_editor.html

So I downloaded the product again. The file I downloaded had a slightly different name and when I installed it I was given an option that asked me if I wanted to install Pando, when I selected no it told me that some of the features of ‘Icon Editor’ may be disabled. Of course, when I ran Icon Editor I got the same error. I doubt they really even have that type of product.

Both products have now successfully uninstalled from my system (I think) and I hope that they have not placed any malicious files on my CPU. I am concerned because these are the signals that scream SCUM BAGS THAT WILL CHEAT AND STEAL IF YOU LET THEM. So I’ve got to check my system out really carefully. Even if I find out they didn’t put any other files on my CPU I’ve still got a problem with them because they cost me a couple of hours of work.

This company SoftwarePile has a lot of other products. I’m not sure if they are real products or not. What makes these guys so dangerous is the quality of their website. They truly look like a reputable company. Usually you can spot hack jerks by the quality of the website because they don’t normally invest the time necessary to create something good just for a temporary scam.

So watch out for these people. I just found the installation file name and it is siicoe.exe.

Oh great… I went back to their site to see what other products they offered and found the following ‘spy software’:

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:: Free Spy Message ::

The Spy Message is easy-to-use, reliable and powerful tool for protecting important information that you don’t want others to see.

With SpyMessage you can encrypt and hide your text message into an image without any changes in its resolution or size.

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I guess I’ve got a lot of work to do. 😦 I’m angry at myself for falling for these guys but they have such a polished scam I’m afraid that nearly everyone would make the same mistake. So I want to make sure I spread the word to my readers.

Breakthrough – .PDF Editing, Viewing, Commenting, in a Free Product

Posted in Graphics, Office, Viewer on September 7, 2007 by Ethan Dickenson

The best part of my job (I consider this blog my job) is trying new software and finding a free package that excites me because it does something unique that is really awesome. I got that feeling when I downloaded PDF – Xchange Viewer. At the time I downloaded it, my hard drive had crashed and I just needed a PDF viewer and it was a product I had not tried so I put it on my system. I looked at several Lady Liberty!documents, was happy with the speed at which the Xchange Viewer pulled them up but I didn’t notice all the features until I was looking at a form stored as a .pdf and I wanted to fill it out. While looking at the form, and thinking how nice it would be to fill out the form and store it, because it was a form that I have to submit over and over again, my eyes doubtfully looked at the top of the document and found the edit toolbar and I was excited and pleased to find that I could do everything I needed to do (and more) with the Xchange Viewer. I could type and just fill out my form or I could leave a bright yellow sticky comment for someone, I could lock the document from editing once I was done, I was truly over joyed with all the features. I had always wanted the ability to fill out forms stored in a PDF format. The Xchange Viewer is fast, has all these great edit features, and free and I’m surprised that I have not read more about it in some of the other ‘market sight’ pages I regularly visit. So I’m very happy to recommend what I think is truly a great freeware product, everyone should download the PDF Xchange Viewer.

Breedlink to: PDF Xchange Viewer