Daemon tools Lite

DAEMON Tools Lite is a virtual DVD-ROM emulator based on a SCSI miniport driver. It emulates max. 4 DVD-ROM drives and works with CD/DVD images created by many burning programs.
It’s a real pain–not to mention slow–to continually swap CDs and DVDs out of your optical drive. It can take up to half a minute for your drive and Windows to mount a disc. Gamers who must leave a copy-protected disc in the drive in order to play a game are especially affected. Hence pay products that emulate a CD/DVD drive and allow you to mount disc images (files containing all the information from a disc) to a virtual drive. Fortunately for those on a budget, there’s a free alternative: Daemon Tools Lite.


The first thing you’ll notice about either Daemon Tools Pro version is that there’s a straightforward, easy-to-use GUI–no command line visits for advanced features as there are with Lite. Both Pro Standard and Advanced also support more virtual devices: 16 and 32 drives respectively, and Advanced offers 2 virtual IDE devices in addition to the Lite and Standard version’s SCSI devices. Both Pro versions also let you mount the contents of an optical disc to an NTFS folder (instead of a drive) as well as letting you edit images (add, delete files, etc.).

Both the Standard and Advanced versions of Daemon Tools Pro offer cataloging and creation of image files, but Advanced takes things one step further with conversion between various image types. All versions support a number of file formats: plain and compressed ISO files and media descriptor (MDS), for starters, as well as the formats belonging to Blindwrite, Blindread, Nero, CloneCD, DiskJuggler, and InstantCD/DVD images.

Daemon Tools Lite is easy to use. We clicked Add Image, browsed to some ISO images, and added them to the Image Catalog. Then it was a simple matter of selecting drive and image and clicking the Mount arrow. We were able to access our new drive normally in Explorer. Daemon Tools Lite is a great choice for laptops, especially those that lack optical drives. But anyone who uses DVDs or CDs for data or pleasure can save time and power by using virtual disc drives instead of spinning plastic.

The only real negative to Daemon Tools Pro is that neither the Advanced nor the Standard versions (nor the free Lite, of course) handle copy-protected discs.

If you spend a lot of time swapping and hence waiting on CDs or DVDs to mount, Daemon Tools Lite is worth its weight in gold. Even if you don’t, it’s a program you should download to keep in your bag of tricks–you’ll find a use for it eventually.


It evolved from a simple file archiver into a professional instrument capable to manage, control and personalize compressed bundles. The amount of options and features currently available in the application is way beyond the needs of a regular user, but it manages to accommodate.

WinRAR is a lightweight, flexible, and easy-to-use archiving utility that can unpack most archive formats, as well as compress to both RAR and ZIP. Free to try for 40 days ($29 for single license), WinRAR is a top dog in the compression category.

WinRAR’s interface is about as simple as it gets. Start creating (or add to) an archive by dragging and dropping your files into the interface or by browsing through the Folder Tree side panel (when enabled). From there, the most common functions are laid out in the form of colorful, mostly intuitive icons along the top, which can all be customized by downloading themes from the company’s Web site. You can Add files to, Extract, Test, Delete, or even Repair archives right from the main interface. Drop-down menus house the program’s more advanced features, including self-extracting archives, archive locking, benchmarking, and autodeletion of temp files.

During this step you get to choose the archive formats you want WinRAR to decompress: RAR, ZIP, CAB, ARJ, LZH, ACE, 7-Zip, TAR, GZip, UUE, BZ2, JAR, ISO and Z. Compression is available only in RAR and ZIP formats.

Unlike the set of features in the application and its abilities, the interface has not evolved too much. In fact, changes are barely visible and apart from a slight brush-up and adding icons to reflect the new features, all modifications could very well go unnoticed.

Preserving a familiar layout, however, benefits old time users. Also on the upside, keeping it simple helps less experienced users quickly find their way around.

Standout features

  • Archive Options: There are a ton of configuration settings for creating archives (including maintaining NTFS security settings and spanning multiple archive files), and they are presented in a way that is not overwhelming to the user.
  • Archive Profiles: WinRAR has an innovative feature which allows you to save a set of archival settings as a “profile” and apply the profile to new archives, which can be a real time saver.
  • File Format Support: WinRAR can create the popular RAR format files, as well as the common ZIP files. It extracts a decent number of archive formats as well (but not as many as 7-Zip).
  • Cost: WinRAR is price and feature competitive with WinZip standard. In addition, WinRAR is sold with deep price discounts when bought in bulk. Unlike WinZip, WinRAR gives free upgrades for life.

The Good

Despite being an instrument with lots of options mostly suitable for advanced users, WinRAR manages to offer easy handling for the less experienced as well.

It can open the most popular archive formats on the market and support for ZIP has been greatly extended lately, as it can go past the 2GB limit and can create split volumes.

There are several compression profiles available to which you can add your own. Professional users have an extensive range of settings to choose from, which include configuration of self-extracting modules, file exclusions, encryption or file viewer settings.

The Bad

The password manager stores the countersigns in the Registry and they are in plain text. As such, anyone with medium computer skills snooping on your computer can access them.

The Truth

WinRAR continues to stay true to its reputation of professional archive utility that can accommodate regular, as well as advanced users alike.

Overall, WinRAR is a winner because of its speed, simple interface, flexibility with file formats, and powerful advanced features. If you’re looking for a one-stop archiving shop, look no further.

VLC Media Player

What’s the top media player? Opinions differ, but if you mean one that’s open-source freeware, plays more files than the others, can be totally customized and configured to suit, and is not only updated frequently but also regularly offers new features and options created by a huge community of programmers and users, the answer is VLC Media Player.
If you have trouble playing a media file such as a video or tune you’ve downloaded from the Internet, and you can’t play it in your standard media player, chances are that VLC media player (free, direct) will play it. It’ll often succeed where Windows Media Player and WinAmp fail. VLC media player is available for Windows, Macintosh, and many Linux flavors.

VLC media player not only plays video, but also audio files—including internet radio and podcasts, which a discovery option lets you find and subscribe to. What’s more, it can actually (and simply) record from both audio and video sources to media files stored on your local PC.

About the only thing I miss in VLC is some sort of psychoacoustic bass enhancement à la Windows Media Player’s SRS TruBass or iTunes’ Sound Enhancer. For that reason (and the lack of cataloging features) I use those to play audio files. You should visit the site just to scan the list of supported files types, though–it’s truly amazing. VLC supports virtually every audio file type, including the less common APE, Flac, Ogg, etc. natively. And, if you hadn’t guessed by the name, you can also play streamed video or music across networks, including the Internet.

If I have any complaint at all about VLC, it’s that it will occasionally hang up when playing back a corrupt or incomplete file, forcing the use of task manager to end its process. Other players do more checking up front. However, the fact that VLC will play many incomplete files allows you to preview stuff you’re downloading. This is dependent upon file type, but to me it’s worth the occasional hang. The hangs have never taken down the system, so it’s just an occasional inconvenience.

  • PROS:Plays just about any media file format you throw at it. Encodes outbound streams. Plays Internet radio and TV.
  • CONS:No Blu-ray playback.
  • BOTTOM LINE:A versatile, free media player that supports more video file formats than you can shake a stick at, can record and stream audio and video.

VLC media player also lets you create bookmarks and save a playlist file, which stores your Internet radio stations, podcast subscriptions, and local media files. This is one feature, however, where VLC falls short of the excellent organizational capabilities of big-time players like iTunes and Windows Media Player. Those will find all media on your machine—and even on other network users’ machines—and present the collection in far more elegant and organized way, letting you view by album, performer, media type, and so on.

After over a decade as an underground favorite that can play just about any media type you throw at it, VLC was finally taken out of beta in 2009. What’s finally been released after years of techie love is a marvel of compatibility and capabilities. It’s a great piece of software if you need something that just works, or if you want a seriously wonktastic media player that lets you do all kinds of arcane things. It may trail WMP and WinAmp in polish and organization, but if those won’t play the file you’ve got and this will, who cares?


If you go around saying things like “P2P” and “VoIP,” even your friends are apt to give you the eyebrow, but say “Skype,” and millions of users around the world get the message. Skype means free Skype-to Skype Internet phone calls, video chat and conferencing, IM, and Facebook integration. We tried the latest release of the free version of Skype, which not only lets you yak at other Skype users as long as you want for free but also enables free one-to-one video calls, Instant Messaging, and screen sharing.

A Pay As You Go option lets you call non-Skype numbers and pay by the minute, and frequent callers can opt for a Subscription service. Skype is also available in a premium package offering unlimited international calling and enhanced video chat and conferencing. To use Skype, you’ll need a microphone and Web cam as well as sound and video capability and a broadband Internet connection.

Skype is software that enables you to make free calls anywhere in the world. Skype uses P2P (peer-to-peer) technology to connect you with other users. It offers several features, including SkypeOut calling from Skype to regular and mobile phones worldwide, conference calling, and secure file transferring. You can also now share your screen with other users. Skype calls focus on video and audio quality, and secure the calls with end-to-end encryption.

  • PROS:Free. Video calling for devices with front-facing cameras. Wi-Fi calls sound excellent. Well-designed interface.
  • CONS:Video calls can take a while to connect. Picture quality and frame rate on video calls leaves much to be desired. Chat can be slow.
  • BOTTOM LINE:Skype’s iPhone app lets you call other Skype users, regardless of what device they’re on, for free. Video calls work best with a strong Internet connection, and degrade quickly with weaker signals. The clincher is that many people use it, so your friends and family members may already have accounts.

Skype is definitely one of the better entry-level, low-cost competitors in our VoIP services lineup. The VoIP provider offers well-rounded service plans, and it is easy to install, even for less tech-savvy individuals. While its feature set is limited, Skype is an excellent alternative if your VoIP needs are minimal.


Apple iTunes 10.6

With the release of iTunes 10.6, Apple’s world-leading media application finally lets you buy and play 1080p movies and TV shows. It also improves the iTunes Match cloud music locker. But maybe of most importance is support for the new retina-display iPad and the new Apple TV. Those are just the latest capabilities Apple has added to iTunes, the most full-featured software on earth for purchasing and playing media, whether that means music, movies, TV, podcasts, or books.

As one of the most popular programs for managing music and video content on a personal computer, Apple’s iTunes software has become an indispensable part of our digital life.

The look and layout of iTunes 10 is essentially identical to that of iTunes 9, with just a couple of noticeable differences. The first is that Apple has updated its logo for iTunes. Rather than the old-school music note-over-CD icon, you’ll see a much more applike image. Still, the company hasn’t figured out how to more broadly represent the jukebox’s multimedia functionality: there’s still just a music note.

There’s also been a slight change to the source menu that runs as a column down the left side. The bright blue icons representing the various submenus have been changed to gray–an odd change in our eyes as it makes them stand out even less, which doesn’t make a ton of sense for menu options. That said, they still offer quick access to your media library, the iTunes Store, Genius features, and playlists. Once a selection is chosen in the source menu, all the relevant content spills out into the large main window, where it can be organized and sorted using an arsenal of sophisticated, spreadsheet-like options or switched into a Cover Flow view that hearkens back to the days of flipping through record crates.

As the primary tool for managing content on iOS devices, iTunes continues to make it easy to find music, apps, podcasts, videos, and more using the navigation buttons across the top. In the iTunes App Store, for example, you can view Apple’s New and Noteworthy apps, Hot apps of the moment, and Staff Picks if you’re looking for app ideas. The iTunes App Store also offers a number of features in the right navigation like Games of the Week, Games starter kits, most popular lists, and other rotating links for more app discovery choices. Similarly, the Podcast, Books, and Video sections all have options for content discovery making it easy to browse for new content for your iOS devices.

  • PROS:Support for 1080p HD movies and TV shows. Match feature ($25/yr) stores even non-iTunes-bought music online. iTunes in the Cloud free for iTunes-bought music. Wi-Fi syncing for mobile devices. Huge store of media for sale and video for rent. Pleasing user interface. HD TV program rentals. iPhone and iPad app organization. Ping social network music discovery.
  • CONS:Program is getting bulky and overloaded with features. No subscription music plan. Ping not available on the Web.

Worth the download?

Updating iTunes is about as inevitable as death and taxes. Try and resist, and some iPod or iPhone update will come along and twist your arm into updating anyhow. And while Apple hasn’t done much to lighten the load of the iTunes installation package (or the bundled QuickTime install that comes with it), it’s hard to complain when the program is free and offers such an impressive range of features. If you’re willing to spend $24.99 a year, the iTunes matching service might be worth the download to get all your music available via the cloud (as long as you have 25,000 songs or fewer). So yes, it’s worth downloading–if for no other reason than to manage your devices and the content to go with it.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox has undergone an enormous rebirth over the past two years. Since Firefox 4 debuted in March 2011, the browser has been hell-bent on improvements. These have come in large part on the rapid-release cycle, which sees a new version of Firefox every six weeks. Many people like them, but a vocal minority has pooh-poohed the increase in version numbers. That’s hardly a legitimate complaint in a world where mobile apps also update silently and effectively, but the transition for Firefox hasn’t been an easy one.

As you can see, Firefox is on version 15 at the time of this review. As a point of comparison, Chrome is currently on version 21 even though it only launched in 2008. The benefit, of course, is a browser that is safer and sleeker, with fewer problems because bugs get fixed on a regular basis.

The Good
The best feature of Firefox is without any doubt its ability to integrate third party addons, making the original software expanding in unimaginable ways.

I am a Firefox power user and this means that mostly I need functions that are not available in the default package. The add-ons community is so large that it’s almost impossible to want something and not find it.

Another important feature of Firefox is the Awesome bar. Maybe it has a flashy name, but I have to give props to Mozilla. It’s pretty awesome! It uses all the history to make searching easier, it modifies according to usage to make links that are accessed more frequently pop up at the top of the list, and users can just type some of the words and not the exact link.

The third and probably one of the features I wanted most and which came to Firefox a year ago is Firefox Sync, a functionality that is not yet perfect, but is getting close. This function makes a backup of your bookmarks, cookies, history, and most importantly, add-ons, in the Mozilla cloud server.

Before Firefox Sync, when transiting from one operating system to another, there were some third party solutions, but they never worked quite the way they should and just moving a profile from one OS to another produced some problems.

The Bad

The best feature of Firefox, the multitude of add-ons, is also its greatest problem. The fact of the matter is that some features should be available by default and not introduced with third party extensions.

In theory, add-ons sound great, but they can also slow down the browser and even the operating system, especially when there are a lot of them, like in the case of a power user.

The other major issue with Firefox is the fact that it’s quite a resource hog. One of the improvements I noticed when I reviewed Firefox 4.0 was a slight improvement in resource management and it got better over the past year, but it’s still a major problem.


Some users have criticized the version policy of Mozilla and I even have friends that still use Firefox 3.5. I can safely say that it was a great decision to increase the pace of development, and it shows in the number of features and the overall feeling of the application.

I hated Firefox in the pre 3.5 versions because of the memory issues and because I had to install numerous addons just to make it the way I like it. Now, I can’t imagine how I could do my work with any other browser, although there is some fierce competition out there.

Nero 7 Ultra Edition

Though primarily known for its CD- and DVD-burning prowess, the newest version of Nero Ultra proves to be a full-fledged media workhorse. The installation file is big and takes awhile to load; also, once Nero is on your machine, it consumes a hefty serving of memory. Considering all it can do, though, we can only complain so much.

nero-7-ultraNero 7 delivers enormous functionality for the money and boasts one of the slickest and best-integrated interfaces we’ve seen in a digital-media suite. It falls behind Roxio 8 in areas like disc authoring and video editing, but it’s still flexible enough to satisfy the overwhelming majority of both mainstream and advanced users.

Nero 7 Premium enables you to experience your digital media in completely new and innovative ways. With the addition of a Nero Home media manager, you can now have the complete PC and TV experience. Whether you want to access your media files from the comfort of your living room, or complete digital media projects on your PC, Nero 7 Premium is all you need. Now, with more features than ever before, this powerful software can transform your digital photos into professional animated slideshows, backup all of your valuable data, manage or search your media files, edit video or photos, create DVDs (including menus), and stream your files over a media server, and compress files to take on the go. Beginners and experts alike will be amazed by what one solution can do. Really, it’s that good.

Nero 7 Ultra Edition takes and already-strong multimedia suite and enhances its core functionality, making it the best choice for users who need more advanced audio and disc-mastering features.

The good

It’s still fast, it’s still easy and it’s even better. When it comes to burning, you really can’t get any better than Nero period. This package is great since it includes easy to use video, audio and data burning applications.

The Bad

I feel as though they overlap the functionality of a lot of these apps. With Express you can do any of the following video, data or audio burns without opening the specified one. Although I understand the use of specialization, Express can easily handle nearly any job you will probably do.

Nero premium 7 is a great overall package. It has applications for nearly every burning aspect. Although it’s a bit pricy, there’s good reason since it includes incredible applications for specified uses while staying generally open to user’s needs.

Nero also offers more generous support policies that include frequent free upgrades for the life of Nero 7 and ten days of unlimited telephone support.

Official link : http://www.nero.com/

Kaspersky Pure

Kaspersky currently offers three different security products, in escalating level of price: regular Kaspersky Antivirus, Kaspersky Internet Security and this one, Kaspersky Pure.

Antivirus and firewall protection together form the bare minimum for a security suite, and some products stay close to this minimum. Kaspersky PURE 2.0 Total Security ($89.95 direct for three licenses) lies at the opposite end of the suite spectrum. In addition to antivirus, firewall, antispam, antiphishing, parental control, and all the expected components it adds backup, system tuneup, file shredding, encrypted storage, password management, and much, much more.

Internet Security bolts on extra parental controls and tune-up utilities. Pure adds backup to the mix and beefs up the firewall component, with more emphasis on the security of your home network.

The most interesting feature Kaspersky Internet Security/Pure includes is the ability to run applications in a sandbox, without you having to go to the trouble of setting up dedicated virtual machines. Any app you have installed can be locked away in one, identified by a radioactive green glow around its window. A shared folder handles any data-swapping.


The core of the package is still the malware detection and firewall modules. These look identical to those found in Kaspersky Internet Security 2010, and they bring with them some neat features, such as the “Safe Run” sandbox for trying out unknown applications, and the highly technical Digital Identity browser that lets you browse and clean up the huge amount of personalised data in your Registry.

Kaspersky’s protection is a strong offering across the board, with a more informative control panel than most, but one that provides easy configuration options. It’s a little more power for only small amount extra, but you won’t be disappointed with the other editions if you don’t need the extras.

Official Link : http://www.kaspersky.com/

Adobe CS5

Following the release of CS5 in April 2010, Adobe changed its release strategy to an every other year release of major number installments. CS5.5 was presented on April 12, 2011, as an in-between program until CS6. The update helped developers optimize websites for a variety of tablets, smart phones, and other devices. At the same time, Adobe announced a subscription-based pay service as an alternative to full purchase. On July 1, 2011, Adobe Systems announced its Switcher Program, which will allow people who had purchased any version of Apple’s Final Cut Pro (or Avid Media Composer) to receive a 50 percent discount on Creative Suite CS5.5 Production Premium or Premiere Pro CS5.5.

The design of a page can say as much as the words on it. Visual design couldn’t be more crucial in an age when people read more than they ever have before—on computer screens, smartphones, iPads and tablets, Kindles and e-readers.


HTML5 fans will be happy to hear that audio and H.264 video files placed in documents for e-publishing will now get tagged appropriately without hand-coding. Adobe also improved how it supports sublists so that second-level bullet and auto-numbered items appear correctly. And tables and footers now export to EPUB and HTML workflows.

Even if you’re not in, say, the celebrity touch-up business, you’ll see its effect. As such, we’re not going to review Creative Suite. There’s no point. If you can afford it, you can’t do better. Instead, read on for some hands-on impressions of its most notable new features, and how they live up to the hype.

Official Link : www.adobe.com

Microsoft Office 2010

Office 2010 nixes the pearl in favor of the File tab and introduces a “Backstage” view that puts all the standard File menu functions and more on a spacious menu, complete with print preview. I spend a lot of time printing, managing, and sharing documents, and the new Backstage view makes me wonder how I managed without it for so many years.

Microsoft Office 2010  is the current iteration of the Microsoft Office productivity suite for Microsoft Windows, and the successor to Microsoft Office 2007. Office 2010 includes extended file format support, user interface updates, and a changed user experience. A 64-bit version of Office 2010 is available, although not for Windows XP or Windows Server 2003.


On April 15, 2010, Office 2010 was released to manufacturing. The suite became available for retail and online purchase on June 15, 2010. Office 2010 is the first version to require product activation for volume license editions.

Office 2010 marks the debut of free online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, which work in the web browsers Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari, but not Opera. Office Starter 2010, a new edition of Office, replaced the low-end home productivity software, Microsoft Works.

Microsoft’s update to its mobile productivity suite, Office Mobile 2010, will also be released for Windows Phones running Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Phone 7. In Office 2010, every application features the ribbon, including Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, InfoPath, SharePoint Workspace (previously known as Groove), and the new Office Web Apps.

As of December 31, 2011, almost 200 million licenses of Office 2010 have been sold.

Office 2010 will be the last version of Microsoft Office with support for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista due to the upcoming Office 2013 requiring Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Office 2010 is a dazzlingly attractive upgrade, but probably essential only for enterprise customers who need the new collaboration features.

Official link : http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/