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Surf the net anonymously and go around firewalls and geo-restrictions with Ultrasurf

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

UltraSurf Screenshot1UltraSurf Screenshot2
Ultrasurf is free, proxy-based ‘anti censorship’, ‘pro-privacy’ software. It tunnels through firewalls (whether at work or country-wide), encrypts online communications, hides your real IP from the websites that you are visiting, automatically deletes your browser history, and provides you with a US-based location so that you can access geographically restricted websites such as Hulu or Pandora.

Freewaregenius 5-Star PickUltrasurf, which was originally created to enable internet users in China to surf freely, is also designed for portability. You can carry Ultrasurf on a USB stick and plug it into any internet terminal that you happen to have access to, instantly providing a secure, encrypted online experience on-the-go.

Possible uses:

  1. Surfing (or downloading) privately and anonymously: your IP address is hidden from sites you surf, and your browsing history, cookies, and cache on your machine as instantly removed when you exit Ultrasurf.
  2. Surfing restricted sites at work: or other locations (or countries) which have restrictions.
  3. Accessing geo-restricted sites: or sites that are available in the US but may not be available in your country, from anywhere. E.g. Pandora, Hulu, Spotify, etc.
  4. Anonymous downloading: from P2P, Torrent,  or other sites. See the comment re: internet speed in the ‘verdict’ section below.

How to use this program:

  1. Download and extract into an appropriate location on your hard drive
  2. Run the Ultrasurf executables.
  3. Ultrasurf may run IE automatically (this can be switched off in the settings). If you don’t use IE then go ahead and close it and run the browser that you like.
  4. Ultrasurf will automatically select the best available server for you, although you could actually choose a server manually from the UltraSurf dialog
  5. You will see a ‘lock’ icon near your system tray indicating UltraSurf is running (see screenshot top right).

The verdict: this program is simply impressive. It has no restrictions on bandwidth, as free VPN (Virtual Private Networking) services have such  Tunnelbear and HotSpot Shield (note: UltraSurf is not a VPN service). It also does not involve the user in the process of finding and providing the internet proxy. It just works.

The main drawback when using programs like this one is a slower internet speed, and in my testing of this I did experience a lower speed, but only by about 20% or so that I could measure. I was still able simultaneously surf and to download torrent files in very good speed. However, this is not necessarily representative, your experience may vary.

The future of UltraSurf seems quite promising, with the addition of a VPN being promised, as well as support for Mac, Linux, and handheld devices.

Version tested: 11.04

Compatibility: WinAll. Mac, Linux, and device support is planned for the future.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (~1.32 megs).


Samer

Samer Kurdi has written 1101 awesome posts for Freewaregenius.

He has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com

Edit, enhance, and improve your images using PicsArt Photo Studio for Android

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AppId is over the quota

PicsArt Screen 1PicsArt Screen 2
PicsArt Photo is free application for Android that allows you to edit, enhance, and add special effects to your photos. Since it runs on your phone, you can manipulate your photos right after taking them, or you can upload them from your computer to the phone. With a small memory footprint, external storage options, as well as a ton of different ways to work with your images, PicsArt is loaded with value for no cost.

As mobile operating systems get more and more complex with more capabilities, the proliferation of apps that you can download has exploded. For most types of applications, there are tons of programs you can buy and download to your phone. Everything from calendar apps to language translators to word processors, there seems to be multiple options for nearly anything you’d want to do. That means that, as the technology progresses, the capabilities of your desktop system, your laptop, and your mobile device get closer and closer to being the same. That being the case, one of the first things I have looked for is a free way to handle my photos and other images directly on my phone, since Photoshop is one of my favorite desktop programs.

PicsArt Screen 3PicsArt Screen 4

PicsArt Photo Studio is a complete package of photo and image tools right on your Android. Almost anything you can do with a desktop image suite like Photoshop, you can do with PicsArt, if in a more limited fashion. You can, of course, manage all your files, including the ability to edit or create new files and change existing file names, but that is just the very beginning of what PicsArt has to offer. When you first load into the main menu for PicsArt Studio, you’re given two basic options for what you want to work with. You can either load and work on an existing image that is stored on your memory card or internally on the phone, or you can create a whole new image file using either the camera attached to your Android or one of the different drawing applications that PicsArt Studio has. For example, you could use the PicsArt Drawing tool to doodle a smiley face on a blank background and save that as a new file.

PicsArt Screen 5PicsArt Screen 6

Once you have decided which image you want to work with, you’ve got an absolutely staggering amount of option as to what you want to do with it. There are tools for simple things like changing contrast or color balance, as well as more complex options like adding text to an image. The text tool, in particular, is quite impressive for such a small, portable program. There are options to change the size, color, and format of your text including such basics like bold, oblique and italics. There is also a tutorial that gives information on how to load your own, custom fonts into the Studio so you can put floating text into your image in any font you like. These kinds of little touches to the different editing options are rampant throughout the program and they really show that the developers put a great deal of effort and thought into it.

PicsArt Screen 7PicsArt Screen 8

One of the tools that is the most fun to use in PicsArt is the FX tool, which basically takes the place of ‘filters’ or special effects layers in the larger, desktop programs. You can do things like change the entire image to black and white, sepia tone, or even that nifty Sin City look where everything is greyscale except for a certain color, like red. An image of a red rose laying on a black and white background of other grass and flowers, for example, is very easy to make with the FX module in PicsArt.

Additionally, PicsArt Studio has tons of options for uploading and downloading of images to and from the different social networks, like Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Dropbox, Fouresquare, Tumblr, Blogger and WordPress. You can even send or receive images through email, using PicsArt Studio. This is an impressive and much needed feature that is severely lacking in many other apps of this type, including ones that you have to pay for. PicsArt is free, powerful, and fun to use. Add the easy, user friendly interface and the social networking options, and PicsArt comes out head and shoulders above most other mobile imaging applications, in my opinion.

A few notes:

  • There are extras modules as well, like Kaleidoscope, Liquid Face, and Viewer. All free as well.
  • The PicsArt home page allows you to set up and account to share your images online and connect them with Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Until next time, my friends!

Check out PicsArt Studio for Android OS 1.6 and up here. Or download PicsArt directly from Google Play (Android Market) here.


B.C. Tietjens

Benjamin Tietjens has written 101 awesome posts for Freewaregenius.

Born and raised overseas in a military family, B.C. Tietjens has visited and lived in many different places all over the world and enjoys writing for many different audiences. He has written for many private as well as public venues, including such diverse subjects as relationships, technology. prestidigitation, self-improvement, entertaining children, and biographical stories. He has also worked on a number of journalism, fiction, and editorial publications. He currently writes primarily for FreewareGenius.com and enjoys the heck out of it.

Automatically download pictures and videos from social networking sites with Social Folders

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota


Social Folders ScreenshotSocial Folders is a free program available for Mac and Windows that acts almost like a Dropbox for your social networking content like photos and videos. Social Folders will automatically connect to your various social networks, and automatically download the content you choose, directly to your computer.

The free version of Social Folders allows 3 service connections and 1000 downloaded files per month; however, both of these can be increased when you refer your friends to sign up with Social Folders.

There are so many social networking sites and tools out there now that it can be a full time job just keeping track of them, not to mention keeping them updated. Going from Facebook to Flickr to Picasa and every other social site you have can take up more time than you actual job and you don’t make any hard cash from it. For this reason alone, many people I know have given up on the whole social networking thing completely. Imagine how much easier and nicer it would be if there was a way you could automatically keep track of your photos and videos, documents and other files on those sites, and have the content organized in a way that not only makes sense to you but is easy to navigate without a whole day of training.

Social Folders Screen 1Social Folders Screen 2

Social Folders does just that. When you first set up your account for Social Folders, you will be allowed to connect up to three different social networks. Between those networks, you’ll be able to automatically manage up to two thousand files of data, whether they are pictures, videos, etc. For most of us that will be enough but for the hardcore socializers that might not be enough. One particular friend of mine has no less than eight different accounts on different social sites, so he would need more than just three, obviously. Social Folders has a neat solution for that kind of issue, though. Rather than making a paid account your only other option, Social Folders follows the modern economics of social networking by allowing you to invite other people to use it, and thereby gain permissions for more networks and more files to be managed. Once your invitations have been accepted and your invitees have installed and run the Social Folders program for the first time, you’ll be given more connections and more items that you can manage through Social Folders.

Social Folders Screen 3Social Folders Screen 4

So, once you have set up your different networks and sites, Social Folders will automatically connect to them on a regular basis, download your content, and organize it into a new folder on your computer, labeled as “Social Folders” of course. Within that folder are other folders, one for each of the different sites you’ve set up, with subfolders in each of those for the different content it downloads. You’ll be able to set up options like how often to download, as well, and then Social Folders will run in the background with an unobtrusive system tray icon to give you access to the program itself when you need it.

Social Folders Screen 6Social Folders Screen 7

That’s it! That’s all there is to it. Social Folders comes at the issue or organizing and managing your social networking content from the angle of simplicity and familiarity. By organizing things into folders on your system in a way you’re already used to, it virtually eliminates the learning curve that so many other programs have. Additionally, Social Folders will save you a ton of time by downloading the content automatically while you’re at work, or doing anything else on the computer. You can then sort through the different items at your leisure without having to go to each site, log in, and explore all the different pages with new content that you want to view.

Social Folders Screen 8Social Folders Screen 9

From what I have seen, this program has the potential to be the holy grail of social networking management and streamline the whole process no matter how many social sites you belong to. In the modern world of light speed pacing and absolutely no free time, this program can be more than a boon. As the program continues to develop, we can hope to see more innovations and more ways to use it to save time and energy in your online social world. A mobile application, for example, would be a great addition to the program but even if they never add one it will still save you tons of time and headaches dealing with your social pages. Go check it out for yourself, invite your friends, and free up some time to do those important things you have neglected, like counting the bumps on your stucco ceiling. Until next time, my friends.

[Thanks go to user Panzer for tipping us off about this service].

Get Social Folders here.


B.C. Tietjens

Benjamin Tietjens has written 102 awesome posts for Freewaregenius.

Born and raised overseas in a military family, B.C. Tietjens has visited and lived in many different places all over the world and enjoys writing for many different audiences. He has written for many private as well as public venues, including such diverse subjects as relationships, technology. prestidigitation, self-improvement, entertaining children, and biographical stories. He has also worked on a number of journalism, fiction, and editorial publications. He currently writes primarily for FreewareGenius.com and enjoys the heck out of it.

Articles worth reading: link dump March 2012

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

Kinecting with the palm of your handAngry Shmangry top-10-computer-viruses-631
‘Curating’ articles seems to be all the rage these days. And since we like to be ‘with it’ here at Freewaregenius, we therefore present you with 3 technology related articles that we know you will enjoy.

  1. Gestures of intent: quick — what’s the most exciting technology around? Touchscreens that can detect multiple points of input? 3D printers? Actually, it just may be that Microsoft’s Kinect technology, in the future, might have more impact than either of these.
  2. The top ten most destructive computer viruses of all time: are, in order, (1) Stuxnet, (2) Conficker, (3) agent.btz, (4) Zeus, (5) PoisonIvy, (6) MyDoom, (7) Fizzer, (8) Slammer, (9) Code Red, and (10) Love Letter/I LOVE YOU.
  3. “Games are good for your brain”: an interview with Angry Birds creator Peter Vesterbacka.

If you have any thoughts on these we would love to hear them below.


Samer

Samer Kurdi has written 1101 awesome posts for Freewaregenius.

He has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com

Search all your online services at once with CloudMagic

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

CloudMagic Screenshot
CloudMagic is a free program and web site that allows you to connect your various services like Gmail and Twitter, and search for anything you need. It searches all the services you have registered, at one time, and it does it so fast you really will believe it is magic. CloudMagic is available for both Windows and Macs, iOS and Android, as well as an extension for most browsers.

Since I basically live in cyberspace, I’ve been looking for tools that can make my life easier and after. These days there are so many programs and services that it can become a mammoth task to search for a single item that you know is there somewhere but you cannot recall exactly where. For example, you may be searching for a particular photograph that you know is on one of your accounts; that is, your Twitter account, Gmail account,  Microsoft exchange account, etc.  Trying to search through each account individually can be both time consuming and frustrating.  Not only that, but the possibility always exists that what you’re looking for may not actually be where you think it is.  CloudMagic allows you to search through all your accounts at one time with one entry.  It is such a simple program it makes me wonder why such a thing has not existed before.

CloudMagic Screen 3CloudMagic Screen 1

To use CloudMagic you will need to begin by setting up an account.  This is a simple process that takes less than a minute.  Once you have done so you can then begin adding different services to your account.  Currently CloudMagic supports only a few different kinds of accounts, most of them related to Google in one way or another.  You can attach your Gmail, Google docs, and other Google services.  CloudMagic also supports Twitter, as well as Microsoft exchange accounts.  It can even search through the text of any saved Gtalk conversations you may have! Now, this may not seem like very many services but bear in mind that CloudMagic is a fairly new program and, in my opinion, there will undoubtedly be more services supported later.  Even so, being able to search through all of those accounts at one time is a major boon to anyone who needs to save time and effort in the search for any particular item.  Personally, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need to save some time and we can all use a chance to avoid headaches.  CloudMagic offers all of this absolutely free.

CloudMagic Screen 4CloudMagic Screen 5

One of the really nice things about CloudMagic is how fast it is, as well as how easy it is to use.  Anyone who is familiar with Google or Yahoo or another search engine will be instantly familiar with some acid of searching through your different services connected to CloudMagic.  It is as simple as clicking on a search bar and typing in what it is you’re looking for.  In fact, you will notice that results begin to appear before your it even done typing in most cases.  So, CloudMagic combines ease of use with fast efficiency.

CloudMagic Screen 6
As an example and the test I chose to connect my accounts from Gmail and Twitter, and then search for anything with my son’s name it in it.  When I type in the word “William” CloudMagic searches through all of my Gmail as well as all of my Twitter tweets.  As you can see from the screen shot not only did the CloudMagic find all of my emails containing the specified word, it also discovered all of my tweets with that same word, as well as pulling it up contact information for the name “William” from my Google account.  CloudMagic also supports various advanced search options, like “from”, “file name” or “subject” that can radically reduce the number of errors when you’re searching for a very specific item.  You can also choose to search through just one type of service or sub service.  For example, you can choose to search through everything connected to your CloudMagic account, or you can choose to search just in your documents, or just in your emails, or just in your contacts.  This is handy if you have a general idea of where the item you want is but you may not be entirely certain.

CloudMagic Screen 2

CloudMagic is also available for mobile devices.  For iPhones and the like you can get it from the iTunes apps store, and for Android devices you can get it at Google play.  Adding a mobile application or mobile version automatically increases the value of any program, be it freeware or retail software. There is also a Chrome extension, that will connect CloudMagic directly to your browser so that you can use it while you are looking at other pages if you need to.  The Chrome extension has a handy and effective three step tutorial as well, that will teach you how to use it quickly. There are also extensions for Safari and Firefox.

Overall I found CloudMagic to be very easy, very useful, and of the same high quality as the Google search engine itself.  Given the fact that it is totally free, as well, this is a very high value program in my opinion. Therefore, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to save themselves time and headaches when searching through various different services for one item.  Until next time, my friends.

You can get more info on CouldMagic in their handy FAQ here.

[Thanks go to reader Panzer for tipping us off about this service].

Check out CloudMagic for Mac or Windows here. Get CloudMagic for iOS here and for Android OS here.


B.C. Tietjens

Benjamin Tietjens has written 101 awesome posts for Freewaregenius.

Born and raised overseas in a military family, B.C. Tietjens has visited and lived in many different places all over the world and enjoys writing for many different audiences. He has written for many private as well as public venues, including such diverse subjects as relationships, technology. prestidigitation, self-improvement, entertaining children, and biographical stories. He has also worked on a number of journalism, fiction, and editorial publications. He currently writes primarily for FreewareGenius.com and enjoys the heck out of it.

How to change or select which program starts when you double-click a file in Windows 8

AppId is over the quota
AppId is over the quota

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. How to change file association by right-clicking on a file in Windows 8
  3. How to change file association through the Set Associations Control Panel in Windows 8
  4. How to set the default programs for an unknown extension in Windows 8

Introduction

When you double-click on a file in Windows 8, Windows will automatically open that file using a program that has been associated with that file's extension. There may come a time, though, that you wish you to use a different program to open a file rather than use the one that is set as the default in Windows. This tutorial will discuss how to assign a different program to a file extension so that it will become the default program for that file type. This tutorial will also explain how to assign a default program to a file extension that Windows does not already know about.

How to change file association by right-clicking on a file in Windows 8

To change the default program a file type is opened with, from the Windows 8 desktop search for the file you wish to change and right-click on it to bring up the file menu as shown below.

File menu

 

At the above menu, please select the Open with menu option. You will then be presented with a screen similar to the one below that shows the available programs that you can open the file with.

Open With dialog

To change the default program that this file is opened with, please click on the Choose default program... option. You will then be shown a dialog asking how you want to open this type of file as shown below.

How do you want to open this type of file screen

In this screen you will see a list of programs that Microsoft recommends you use when dealing with the particular type of file. To see other possible choices, you should click on the See all... option. This will bring up a screen that shows a larger list of choices that you can choose from as shown below.

Program recommendations

If you see the program you wish to use by default, then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then select the program. The file will then be opened by this program and all other files that contain this extension will use this program as well going forward.

If you do not see the desired program, though, you should then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then click on the Look for an app on this PC option to open a window where you can browse to the program you wish to use. You will now be presented with the Open with window where you can browse to the executable that you want to set as your default. Once you have found the executable, select it by left-clicking on it once so it becomes highlighted and then click on the Open button. The file should now have been opened using the program you selected and these types of files will now automatically be opened by this program.

How to change file association through the Set Associations Control Panel in Windows 8

This method will allow you to change the default program for a particular extension using the Set Associations control panel. This control panel contains a listing of all known file extensions and the default programs that are assigned to them.

From the Windows 8 Start Screen, click on the Control Panel app. When the Control Panel opens, scroll down and then click on the More Settings option. This will open the classic Windows Control Panel screen as shown below.

Start Menu Search

Click on the Programs category as shown by the arrow above. This will open the Programs category of the Control Panel.

Set Associations control panel

 

Now click on the Make a file type always open in a specific program option as shown above. You will now be at the Set Associations Control Panel, which shows all the extensions that Windows knows about and the associated program that is set to open these types of files.

Choose program dialog

To change the default program for a file in Windows 8, just scroll through the list of extensions until you find the one you want to change. Then click once on it once to select it and then click on the Change program... button. This will open a screen that displays the programs that Windows recommends you use to open this type of file as shown below.

Open With screen

To see other possible choices, you should click on the See all... option. This will bring up a screen that shows a larger list of choices that you can choose from as shown below.

Open With screen

If you see the program you wish to make the default for this particular type of file, then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then select the program you wish to use. The file will then be opened by this program and all other files that contain this extension will use this program as well.

If you do not see the program in this list, though, you should then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then click on the Look for an app on this PC option to open a window where you can browse to the file you wish to use. You will now be presented with the Open with window where you can browse to the executable that you wish to use to open these types of files. Once you have found the executable, select it by left-clicking on it once so it becomes highlighted and then click on the Open button.

You will now be back at the Set Associations Control Panel, but now the extension will show the new program that you have associated with it. When you open a file in the future that has this extension it will now use the new program.

How to set the default programs for an unknown extension in Windows 8

At times you may have files that have a file extension that is not know to Windows. Therefore, when you attempt to open them, Windows will not know what program to use and you will see a dialog box that states Windows can't open this file. This section will explain how to assign a default program to this new file type so that it can be opened automatically with the program of your choice when you double-click on it.

To assign a program to an unknown extension, simply double-click on the file that you wish to assign the program to. When you double-click on it, Windows will display a dialog box that states it can't open this file.

Choose program dialog

At this point you have two choices. If you do not know which program to use, you can select the Look for an app in the Store option, which will allow you to search for an app in the Microsoft Store that may be able to open that type of file. The other option is to use a program on your hard drive to launch the program. To find a program already on your hard drive, please click on the See all... option.

This will bring up a screen that shows a larger list of choices that you can choose from as shown below.

Open With screen

If you see the program you wish to make the default for this particular type of file, then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then select the program you wish to use. The file will then be opened by this program and all other files that contain this extension will use this program as well.

If you do not see the program in this list, though, you should then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then click on the Look for an app on this PC option to open a window where you can browse to the file you wish to use. You will now be presented with the Open with window where you can browse to the executable that you wish to use to open these types of files. Once you have found the executable, select it by left-clicking on it once so it becomes highlighted and then click on the Open button.

The file should now have been opened using the program you selected. Windows has also been configured to use this program to open files that contain this new extension in the future. If you have any questions regarding these steps, please feel free to ask in the Windows 8 forum.