Is Photoshop Too Much For You? Try Elements Instead

Adobe Photoshop is recognized as being the cream of the crop when it comes to professional software. With a price tag of about $650 or so, depending on the versions and where you purchase the software, the ‘professional’ designation is well deserved. But for most consumers, Photoshop is over kill and often for some, difficult to learn and use.

In steps Elements. Elements can be best described as a stripped down version of Photoshop, yet with enough power to do much of what the average user would need. Adobe describes Elements as:

Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 software combines power and simplicity so you can make your photos look their best, share them in imaginative ways, and easily find and view all your photos and video clips.

Focus on just the photos you want to see with new Smart Albums, which automatically bring together photos based on the criteria most important to you. Choose up to 10 search criteria — such as all photos taken with a certain camera, taken since the beginning of the year, and of a particular file size — and then click on your Smart Album to instantly see the matching set of photos.

But there is one more element of Element you will like. Price. If you shop wisely you can find some very good deals. Amazon is offering the older version 5 for $41.99 and the newest version 6 for $74.99.

Comments welcome.

More information on Elements is here.

AVG 7.5 Free Edition Expires When?

I got this from DougCuk this AM in reference to when AVG 7.5 will expire. It seems that the date is most likely 12-31-08 and the May 31, 2008 may just be a scare tactic to gets folks to either upgrade now to version 8 OR to buy the full version and dump the free one.

I posted a query on the AVG Free Support Forum re the 31st May cuttoff date and received the following response from one of the forum Moderators:

“This could well be a marketing ploy to quickly encourage users onto either the paid for or free version of AVG 8.0 but rest assured at this moment in time the deadline for 7.5 support, as stated by the AVG Team on the Free Forum, is quite definitely the 31st December 2008.”

This info is still current as of May 12th – so I am sticking with v7.5 for now. Many people seem to be reporting that installing v8 without the Link Scanner option dramtically improves permormance on slower machines – see

I guess my only question is why? Why have a pop up that says AVG will expire on May 31, 2008? Is this a marketing ploy?

Comments welcome.

[tags] avg, 7.5, upgrade, 8.0, scanner, link, expiration date, free, version, [/tags]

AVG Version 8 – Minor Warning Issue[s] Resolved

Yesterday I played around with AVG 8, tweaking some settings and doing multiple scans on my personal system, which I have always prided myself in keeping as a, lean, mean, fighting machine. But my jaw dropped as AVG 8 started to report a flood of registry entries tied to CoolWebSearch. Here is what happened.

After installing AVG 8 I did a full scan. Though the system reported there were no infections on my machine, under what the system states are ‘warnings’, was a host of registry entries similar to:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\InternetExplorer\ActiveXCompatibility\{33653C70-F82F-3235-E5B9-5751B1F39585};”Found Adware.CoolWebSearch”;”Potentially dangerous object”

After the scan was completed I clicked on the heal all button and during the process AVG 8 indicated the files exceeded the amount the virus vault could hold. AVG 8 froze up. OK. I can fix that. I tweaked the vault to use unlimted space and increased the files from 1,000 o 10,000. Mess with me! No joy. Same results.

I finally saved the report in .cvc format I looked at all of the alleged rogue files and I noticed a pattern. Some of the entries were repeated, and repeated and repeated again. Eventually I found that 65 registry entries were repeated 11,992 times! So I fire up regedit, locate the offending entries and dump them. Do a new scan and surprise. All is well.

I’m just reporting this in case anyone else has this enjoyable experience.

Comments welcome.

Overall opinion about the new versions – I like it! I’ll do a complete review next week.

[tags]avg, version, 8, report, registry, errant, errors, fix,  [/tags]

AVG Free Edition Version 8 Available For Download

Today is the day that AVG releases their latest version of AVG Free Edition 8. I went to their web site and downloaded the latest edition and noted that it is 45.6MB [though another link indicated the file to be 46.1MB] in size. I was actually surprised that the download speed was over 370 kb since I thought that the servers at AVG would be overloaded with users trying to get the latest and greatest. Maybe I just lucked out and hit the servers when they were not busy. :-)

I tried doing an install without installing AVG 7.5. Nope. You need to uninstall AVG 7.5 first [I choose to keep my settings and dump anything in the vault] , reboot, and install 8.0. During installation I was asked if I wished to install the ‘toolbar’ to monitor links. I personally choose not to do this since I’m currently using McAfee Site Advisor and testing WOT. But if you have no site monitoring software installed, I would recommend this option as well.

After the install completed an update was compelted and I did a scan of the system which came up clean.

For the next week or so I’ll be playing with the new GUI since everything has been changed, which for the most part, appears to be very user friendly thus far. Oh yes, this is a complete suite. Anti-virus, spyware & web link checker. Not bad for a freebie. But like with any software, time will tell just how good it is.

Review next week.

Comments welcome.

Get AVG Free Edition from here.

PS My buddy Dennis said that he needed to install a patch for Vista in order to get AVG 8 working. Patch is here.  Thanks Den.

[tags]avg, free, edition, new, version, 8, spyware, links, blockers, gui, interface, [/tags]

Force Extensions To Work With Firefox 3 Beta

I received this from reader Bones referencing the forcing of extensions to work in Beta versions of Firefox. Bones said:

Regarding the extensions not working, you can force them to work by using an extension called Nightly Tester Tools from here.

I installed the latest of Firefox 3 and had to use this tool to force them to be compatible

It does work. All you have to do is click on the Make All Compatible button in the Tools -Add On section after the installation completes. All of my extensions immediately functioned properly.

Give it a try for yourself.

Thanks, Bones!

Comments welcome.

AVG Commercial Upgrades To Version 8 – Free Edition Remains At 7.5

Just a quick note.

During the past week, I received several emails from folks who are using the free edition of AVG who wanted to know if they should upgrade to version 8. AVG has changed the version number to version 8 for their commercial software only. The free edition of AVG remains at version 7.5. It will only be a matter of time before AVG will change the version and upgrade the free edition also. But there will be plenty of warning before this happens.

Comments welcome.

[tags]avg, version, upgrade, commercial, free, edition, [/tags]

Outpost Free Basic Firewall – Reviewed

Let me start by saying I really like Outpost Free Firewall [OFF], but it just didn’t like me. Sadly to say I was forced to uninstall it yesterday after a bout of the ‘I don’t want to connect’ jitters. Had this been the first time that this had happened I would of blown it off. But it was my third time. Enough was enough.

You may recall I began testing OFF on about February 1, 2008 [here] having originally stating I would run a two week test. All was well the first few days. OFF was learning what to stop and what to allow to connect to the Internet, and I was a happy clam. But on or about day 4 OFF stopped my connection to the Internet. What happened? Nothing. It just stopped working. So I uninstalled OFF and reinstalled it for another go. That seemed to do the trick.

But on around day 6, same thing. This time however I was able to get it up and running again. Yesterday it happened again. That was it. Off went OFF. :-)

I don’t know what it is with free firewalls. They seem to work well for a short period of time and than bang! They seem to have trouble focusing on what they are supposed to do. Oh well. The only firewall that hasn’t caused a problem on my system has been the old version of Sygate Personal Firewall. Some here had concerns that SPF was to old of a software to use, since it is no longer being updated. Could be.  But it worked. At least on my system it did.

Bottom line. I liked OFF, when it worked. Your mileage may vary.

Comments welcome.

PS I’m going to try the free Kerio firewall next. Wish me luck.

[tags]outpost, basic, firewall, protection, problem, uninstall, sygate, old, version, [/tags]

New Version Of WinPatrol Is Available For Download

A new version of WinPatrol is now available. The latest update now includes a better keylogger detection for your system as well as other enhanced features listed below. You can get a free copy of WinPatrol at the link listed at the end of this article.

What’s New  – Enhanced Keylogger Detection

The use of keyloggers for illegal purposes has exploded. A Schenectady man was recently jailed for up to three years for felony eavesdropping after putting a keylogger on his wife’s computer. I’ve heard too many stories of abuse made possible due to keyloggers so it’s time for it to stop. While WinPatrol PLUS had always detected keyloggers we’ve enhanced this feature and it’s now available to free users so everyone is protected.  Interactive PLUS code Activation

Unfortunately the number of users depending on illegal PLUS codes has become a problem. While honored by the worldwide popularity of WinPatrol this could slow down access to PLUS information by our paid supporters. Our new version will do more to screen out invalid codes. In a few cases, users may find their valid codes are no longer working correctly. Those affected can write to support @ and we’ll make sure they receive the correct code. Optimized Detection of New Services

As more and more programs move to the Windows Service model it become apparent that this may be a popular avenue of attack in the future. The routine used to monitor and detect new Window Services has been optimized to make this process transparent.  Decrease CPU Usage and Conflicts

Conflicts with some other registry intense programs may have resulted in abnormally high CPU usage on past versions. WinPatrol 14 includes some intelligent routines to allow complete protection without fighting over resources with other security suites and system level programs.  Default -expresskboot option

WinPatrol now includes a -expressboot option which will be used when machines boot up for the first time. This new feature optimizes boot time and allows other applications to maximize their initialization routines.  Regular Registry Cleanup

Some registry cleaners have complained that we don’t clean up some data stored in the registry quickly enough. This version will remove information that is no longer needed and “First Detected” information on a regular basic when the file no longer exists. Multiple copies of WinPatrol in startup

Occasionally, users have written to let us know they have multiple copies of Scotty in the list of Startup programs. This version can correct any errors by checking the “Automatically run WinPatrol” box under the Options tab.  

You can download your free copy from here.

Comments welcome.

[tags]winpatrol, new, version, keylogger, protections, data, stored, information,  [/tags]

Google Gmail Going Off Line

Rumors have been circulating this week that Google is in the process of updating their popular Gmail software and may just provide the ability for Gmail users to work off-line. Known as Gmail version 2, this will be a major update for the three year old Gmail program with some added new features for us to play with.

So how will Gmail off-line work? Users will have the option when not connected to the Internet to compose new messages and save them as drafts. You will also have the ability to read mail from your inbox that you have previously received. Once you do establish a internet connection, the new Gmail software will sync with your online Gmail account, and your mail and changes will be updated. Nice touch.

Other features that Google may employ are just guess work, but I am sure that Google will have some other surprises in store for us.

So what do you think? Is working off line going to be a major benefit?

Comments welcome.

[tags]google, gmail, updated, version, [/tags]

Will AOL Work With Vista?

Q: I have a new Vista computer with AOL and have had nothing but problems with AOL since I got it. The people that I bought the computer from say they can’t help me because it is an AOL problem. AOL says that their software is compatible with Vista, so it isn’t their problem. AAAARGH! Can you help? – Raylene

A: Anyone that has migrated to Vista already is part of the army of “field testers” (guinea pigs) that I have referred to in my previous columns, primarily because all of the programs that you will want to run are still under development.

Whenever a new operating system is released, every software and hardware vendor that exists has to scramble to re-write their programs and software drivers to support the new platform.

Despite their best efforts to thoroughly test new software before releasing it, the only real test of a new program or driver is to release it to millions of users and based on the feedback, adjust the code to fix the problems (this is why software programs go from Version 1 to Version 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 etc.)

This is also why most support calls begin by determining if you have the latest version of the software that has all the currently known “bug fixes” incorporated.

Vista and AOL’s software for Vista are still fairly new so it isn’t likely that they have figured out all the bugs just yet. When it works, its great; but when it doesn’t…

This column will likely help more AOL users that have not yet made the switch to Vista than it will for those that are already in a fix.

I (or anyone that I know that supports computer users) have never been a fan of the way AOL forces users to load proprietary software in order to use their service.

To their credit, they did realize that not everyone’s computer can handle the massive intrusion that their software causes in Windows (and the Mac OS for that matter), so they made it possible for users to access their AOL accounts via a standard Web browser.

I realize that not everything that you see and do in the AOL software is the same through a Web browser (by design), but if you go to and click on the appropriate icon at the top, you can access your AOL e-mail or AIM account (this will not work if you are on a dial-up account with AOL).

You will have to type in your screen name and password every time and the mail that you have saved on your own computer will not show up when you access your e-mail this way, but it is a viable option. If you learn to use the online version comfortably, you could simply un-install the obtrusive AOL software and not have to deal with it ever again.

If this isn’t an option, take a look at the version of AOL software you are running (usually clearly displayed on the “splash screen” when you first launch the program) and compare it to the most current version at the AOL Web site to make sure you have the latest version (as of this writing, AOL 9.0VR or “Vista Ready” is the most recent.)

Many veteran computer users will warn you to stay away from any new software version that ends in .0, because they have not gone through the initial public release “bug fix” process yet.

You can also find volumes of information posted by others that are experiencing problems with Vista and AOL by performing various Google searches.

If you are getting a specific error message or consistent symptoms, search for it in Google and you will likely find a fellow sufferer and hopefully some solutions for your exact problem.

Ken Colburn
President of Data Doctors Computer Services
Host of the award-winning Computer Corner radio show
Author of Computer Q&A in the East Valley Tribune newspapers

[tags]aol, vista, beta, guinea pig, test, version[/tags]

Google Sketch Up – Gets Upgraded – Free Version Still Available

On January 6, 2007 I wrote about Google’s Sketch Up software concerning its free and pro versions.

Well Google has recently upgraded and improved its 3D software, which now seems better than ever. The best part is, Google is still offering its software for free and also giving an eight-hour trial of the pro version.

So what’s new in the latest version?

Well after looking at the new feature list, the one that caught my eye is the ability to take a 2D photograph and turn it into a 3D rendering. Also of note is Sketch Up’s feature of being able to render a hand-drawn look. Plus, Google offers support for both Windows (2k, XP) and Mac formats (Mac OS v10.4 [Tiger] or higher).

The feature list is extensive and you may wish to see for yourself all that Sketch Up offers.

Check out version 6 of Google’s Sketch Up software located here.

[tags]google, sketch up, free, version, pro [/tags]

Microsoft Expression – New Way To Build Your Web Site – FREE Trial Version

Microsoft is offering a free trial of its latest Web building software called Microsoft Expression-Web. The trial version can be used for 60 days and is fully functional.

Though I was unable to find anything that specifically made mention of this, I believe that Expression-Web software is the replacement for FrontPage. In looking at the Office Web site, I had noticed that there was no 2007 version of FrontPage. And in doing a quick Google search, it does seem that Microsoft has dropped FrontPage completely.

I won’t bore you with the glowing details of what Microsoft says that Expression-Web will do for you. Most of us realize that most of what all software manufacturers say about their products is overstated. And the words ‘user friendly’ usually indicate to us that we are going to be spending a lot of time learning this new product. :-)

Anyway, if you wish to try this new software, a trial version is available here. And if you do give it a whirl, I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on how well or not so well it worked for you.


[tags]Microsoft, web building software, Expression-Web, trial, version, free[/tags]

Vista – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Well after five years of peace and quiet, Microsoft has awaken to introduce a new operating system that it is calling Vista. Have you ever wondered what XP stood for? Experience. I never did understand the relationship of XP and experience. Oh, well.

So what is Vista? It is a completely new operating system built from the ground up in which a new graphical interface has been attached to make for a more pleasing user experience .

The Good – dubbed Windows Aero, the new look of Vista is very pleasing to the eye. Microsoft has also improved the security of Vista to try and prevent viruses and spyware from attacking the system. Other features include improved search, advanced networking capabilities, and new audio, display, and print sub-systems. I’ve been using the test versions for the past six months and I must admit Vista has some impressive features.

The Bad – Vista requires some added horsepower in order to run properly. Most of today’s Penitum 4 and comparable AMD chips in the 2g and up range should work OK. But more RAM in the 1g or higher range may be needed to get this puppy performing at its best and a high end video card of at least 128MB or higher will be needed to run the new Aero feature. Will your system support Windows Vista? Try this Upgrade Advisor tool and see.

The Ugly – Pricing. It’s going to be expensive to upgrade to Vista compared to previous Windows versions and to add to the confusion, Vista comes in four different flavors. The price list below shows full version / upgrade version pricing.

  • Windows Vista Ultimate: $349/$199
  • Windows Vista Business: $269/179
  • Windows Vista Home Premium: $239/$139
  • Windows Vista Home Basic: $199/$99

Want more information on Vista? See Microsoft’s Vista site.

[tags]Vista, Windows,Microsoft,Upgrade,price,version [/tags]