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"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination's out of focus" - Mark Twain

 


March update

Thanks for stopping by. I hope to be a little more
diligent with updates for you but for today, I've got this lil' goody.

I love getting Email!

Today, 'Jimmie' wrote to ask: "Can you tell me
how to change the size of desktop icons when using
Win XP?"

I replied: "Thank you for writing. It's always great
to hear from SailCat visitors and I'm happy to help
with anything if I'm able. Click in the Appearance
tab, then the Effects button.

"Regarding changing the icon size in WinXP, right-click
in any blank spot on the Desktop and cheese Properties.
Put a check in the 'Use large icons' box, OK out, click
on Apply and OK. That's the quick method.

"If you aren't running a Shell program (such as
Windoblinds) you can also click on the 'Advanced' button
in that same window, drop down the menu under the heading
'Sub-Design' and choose Icon from the list. You can then
specify the size of the Desktop icons in pixels (default
is 32 x 32, I believe).

"To change the size of the icons in
your Start Menu, right-click on a blank spot on your Task
Bar and choose Properties. Click on the Start Menu tab,
then on the Customize button to see the option for choosing
icon sizes.

"Other options for resizing Desktop and changing the
System icons can be done with third-party software.
I use Icon Packager which allows sizing from 16 x 16
(tiny) to 128 x 128 (which is huge). This program costs
20 dollars US.

"You can customize your system further by downloading
TweakUI which allows access to system features that you
can't change otherwise. Download this free utility here.
While I have no icons whatsoever on my desktop most of the
time, when I do use them they are often shortcuts to other
items on my computer. Among many other things, TweakUI will
remove the 'Shortcut' overlay so the icons looks better.
Just make sure you keep track of which icons are shortcuts
so you don;t delete something important.


"I hope this answers all your questions. You are welcome to write again anytime."


June
Thanks to Sarge, who provided not only a reason
for a much-needed update, but also motivation to
search up a cool, new tool for all of us. He writes:

"Thanks for the cool site. I dun learnt me ulot.
However, still need a little more help. How do you
remove programs from the "add remove programs" list
that are no longer on your computer? I have
struggled with this one for a while. Thanks dog !!
CAT !!!! or catdog. Yea!"

I like this guy's style. I replied: "Thanks for the
nice comments about the SailCat website. I'm
delighted to hear that you "learnt" you alot! <g>

"You're kind not to rag on me for failing to update
more frequently, but perhaps someone should ...
doing so seems to be low on the ol' priority list
lately ... like the last year or so ....

"My sincere apologies for being so long in responding,
but the deluge of spam is handled on my computer with
a homemade filter of sorts, placing email from 'known
good' senders in one file while all else goes into a
separate file for sorting. Obviously, it had been
several days since I'd done so. Your Email address
has been added to my 'white list' so you may expect
a prompt reply to any future messages.

"Regarding your question, Add/Remove Pro displays
the entries in the Add/Remove Programs list of Windows
Registry, checks if each is valid, and uninstalls the
selected program or removes the entry from the list.
Download it here. It's freeware, of course!

"Thanks again for writing and please do so
again anytime for any reason."

And that goe for you, too, gentle reader. The 'Cat
loves to get Email!


April update

No lame excuses or apologies here. I haven't even
gotten Emails recently wondering what I've been
doing instead of providing new WinXP tips and free
software goodies for you dedicated visitors.

I guess you'll have to write to find out ....

That wasn't very subtle, huh? Anyway, I'd sure
enjoy hearing from you!

Occasionally, the random question develops into
An online friendsip. So it has happened with
Dave B. (Hi, Dave!) The answer to his original
question may benefit others.

Dave asked, "I use a program that hides my
desktop icons. I don't like icons on my pretty
wallpaper. I use the desktop toolbar on the
taskbar, nice and neet. I use to be able to go
into win 98 and change a setting to hide them.
I have never found it in xp. Do you know if there
is one hiding somewhere?"

As with most functions in WinXP, this one is
deceptively simple. Right-click on the Desktop
and put a check mark by 'Hide desktop icons' on
the drop-down menu. All of the icons as well as
other Desktop-related functions are accessible
if one then creates a Desktop Toilbar from the
po-up menu which appears by right-clicking on
the task bar.

Recently, my favorite magazine, MaximumPC, held
a competition with regard to the best WinXP tips,
and while the 'Cat was not a finalist, we can all
benefit from the uber-geeks who submitted the best
of the best.

Read the disclaimer and have at 'em here.

As regular readers are aware, I'm a big fan of
Flash and admire those who create clever and original
animations and projects exploiting this versatile
medium. Combine that with an amusing way to waste
time and that's a winner in my book. As Always, these
are completely free games.

Here's a bunch of examples, some quite artistic, from
the warped mind at Makai Media. Although swimming in
advertising, many of these are well worth a click. My
favorite was Cannon Fodder, but as you know, I'm
easily amused. The games are here.

even more delightful and with the bonus of being
ad-free is GlobZ. Clever in design and
well worth clicking around, this guy just knocks me
out. Available in French or English, Im guessing the
latter is a second language to the writer, but it's
well-written regardless. Lotsa fun.

The guy at Spikything has developed not only
ingenious games but also implemented a sweet idea
for a 3D menu. It's one of those things that's so
good I wish I'd thought of it and too original to
steal. Be sure to snoop around here; there's some
good stuff going on in the 'Lab' and elsewhere.

That's all for now. Nagging to keep me on my
virtual toes and the updates flowing would be
appropriate. Thanks.


January, more ....

I just couldn't wait 'til February to share this
stuff. It's a rant and a very clever Windows trick,
so those less inclined to read my whining are acvised
to skip down to the folder thing.

I have long bemoaned the problems associated with
software from the company called Real.

They just released version 10 of RealPlayer which
demonstrates their indifference to users' input and
is described in this article as an "appalling mess."
Don't say I haven't warned you ... for years.

The time has come, nay, is overdue, for people like you
who want to enjoy their computers without poorly-written
or spyware-ridden software bespoiling the experience.
Real software not only falls into that category, but
also writes hundreds of changes and/or additions to the
Windows Registry which will remain even following
the complete removal of the program.


While it has been the policy at SailCat's to avoid
sharing links which might fall into that 'grey area'
of legitimacy, the solution to this quandary for those
who feel they must view/hear Real proprietary files is
here.

Additionally, there's an alternative to a less offensive
yet still annoying softie, QuickTime, which program
is erratic, incomplete (insisting on installing add-ons
and plug-ins to show various filetypes which one might
reasonably assume is the purpose of the initial
installation) but also persists in slamming a 'preload'
function into the system tray even after one removes the
hidden startup command with msconfig.exe.

OK, enough software vehemence. following is that clever
little trick. It has all of the qualities which make the
'Cat giddy; ease, simplicity and functionality. This
comes compliments of the February issue of Maximum PC,
the only magazine which arrives at World Headquarters
via subscription. This fine publication is not a sponsor
(there are none, in case you're new here), but if they
were so inclined, this policy would change.

Here's the trick: Right-click on the Desktop and
select 'New' then 'Folder' from the drop-down menu.
Now move this empty folder the the Quick-Launch area
of the Taskbar (just to the right of the Start button)
for an instant and unlimited supply of (what else?) New
Folders. Drag it from this location to save yourself
a bit of time and three mouse-clicks whenver you need one.

Until Maximum PC writes in begging for a banner, here's
the only advertising you'll see at SailCat's: I'm a
graphic designer, webslinger and hack writer. Hire me.

'Til next time, keep those Emails coming.


Jamuary update

Thanks to all who have written recently with nice
comments about the SailCat site.

For those who found a little tip or trick, or if
I was able to solve a hardware or software problem
via Email, that's what the 'Cat's place is all about.
It's truly my pleasure to help.

Since you've all been so patient for new goodies, I'm
gonna give you some really tasty finds that'll keep you
busy for months to come.

First, while there ain't any 'cure-alls' for computer
ills, out-of-date drivers are frequently the culprits.
Fortunately, there's a a one-stop resource with over
70,000 driver files in their database. While registration
is required, their privacy policy is solid. Cruise over
to DriverGuide and get yourself signed up for
some digital goodness. The first place to check is
for the latest driver for your videocard. A clunker
will give you fits.

I enjoy fiddling with Flash animations. The versatility
of the medium is amazing, as is the diminutive filesize
compared to older technology such as animated gif.

It can be challenging to study how those things are
put together, though, since a Flash movie is not
easily downladable. Not a problem any longer, thanks
to Flash Movie Extract Pilot which grabs 'em for you,
placing them on your hard drive for scrutiny. C'mon,
now ... this is for study purposes; don't steal stuff.
Get it for free right here.

Finally, for those of you who enjoy computer gaming
and have dreamed one day of designing your own
games, here's a way to do so without having to
write a single line of code. Game Maker comes with
a number of images and sounds to get you started
as well as a collection of example games. While the
program is free the games you make are your property
to do with as you please, even sell 'em if you like.
Click to Game Maker and check it out for yourself.

That''s a wrap for now. Drop me a line if you have any
questions or suggestions. I still love getting Email
from visitors and often make a new friend in the process.


August

Recently, Glenda M. wrote to me with a common problem:
"I'm really fed up with HP help, and my computer
repairman evidently thought it was so simple I could
do it, but I cannot get my computer to fix disk errors
(scandisk) or defrag.  It keeps showing that I'm running
programs somewhere on the computer. I think I've shut
everything down, but the defrag just keeps starting over
and over and over.

"Can you please tell me how to shut down a program so I
can defrag?"

It took a coouple of days, but I replied to Glenda:
"Sorry to be so long with a response ... and at that,
my first guess (or two) could still be wrong, but
diagnosing these situations via Email is a trial-and-error
process.

"The first culprit to look for is a screensaver. Please
right-click on your desktop, choose properties and make
certain that, under screensavers, you have chosen 'None'.

"Secondly, after you have manually closed all the programs
which are obvious to your, hit Ctrl/Alt/Delete simultaneously
to bring up the list of programs which are running on your
system. One of the major culprits is an anti-virus program.
Close everything which is attributed to your user name,
but leave alone those attributed to 'System.'

"Now, try your Defragmenter and let me know how it goes.
If you still have problems, I'll do my best to troubleshoot
for you ... even if it takes a day or two. <g>"

I found Glenda's Email in appreciation absolutely charming:
"Thank you--IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou!

"Something so simple had me so frustrated. It didn't occur
to me to look for my Norton. That's all that was wrong, I guess.

"Thank you so much for your help."


July

So, I heard from Maggie. Regular readers may remember
her; she wrote to me some time back womdering if I'd
"fallen off the face of the earth" when I hadn't updated
as I have faithfully and sincerely promised I would. This
time she said "You did leave the country, didn't you?"

I guess there are actually regular visitors to SailCat's
place. If the server counts are to be believed, I guess
there's another 299,000 or so who stop by every month.

Hi, everybody! A special howdy to Kit, Betty, Mark O.
Mollie, WingMan, Doug C., Troy T., Paul D., 'Bo,'
Richard D., Darlene and all who have Emailed with
questions, suggestions and many of whom have become
good friends.

This one goes out to Maggie, though,who charmingly cajoled
(guilted) me into updating today. I promised that I would
include some 'beauties' in this one, which might be expected
since it would seem I've been saving up for some time. <g>

Here's one that will come in handy for those who use
Internet Explorer. That'd be roughly 97% of everone
who accesses the Internet.

Setting the default size at which IE opens can be a
challenge unless (as with so many computer functions)
you know this simple trick. IE sometimes seems to have
a mind of its own, deciding one day to start opening
minimized or (as has happened to me twice, to a
tiny window one pixel square.

It's a matter of personal preference, but I like IE6
to open at something less than full-screen ... 75% is
about right for me. From there I can maximize it to
full-screen if preferred.

Stretch the edges of the IE6 window until it is is open
to whatever you want the default size to become, then
hold down the CTRL key and close it. Afterward, it will
return to whatever size at which it was closed. Beauty, eh?

While not aspiring to interior design, many is the time
that I have needed to know the most efficient arrangement
of furniture in a room. I've always opted for an analog
solution: graph paper and a pencil. While this method
usually works out, there have been plenty of times when
'X' amount of space has been insufficient for traffic or
pieces of furniture which end up to close to a wall or one
another. What I wouldn't have given for software which
would aid in such a project.

What would you pay? $99.95? $49.95? How about only $19.95
since the very cool shareware program called Room Arranger?
But wait! Don't send in $19.95 (actually $20) just yet because
stránky v češtině, tha author of the program has, for a
limited time (probably), made the earlier freeware version
3.26 version available.

Here's the deal. The home page for Room Arranger is here.
Be sure to look it over and visit the 'On-line Tips' page
page for imformation regarding the download of a second
(free) program to allow viewing your creation in 3D. If
you decide to add Room arranger to your software collection
return to the home and either get the latest shareware
version< or click on the 'older' link for the earier version.

How cool is that? Pretty darned cool ... but here's one more
that's really a pip.

Despite whatever controversy may surround contemporary
computer games, one cannot argue their popularity. The Grand
Theft Auto series has sold millions of copies. What does this
have to do with the Freeware historically offered at SailCat's?
Here it is right from the authors:

"In 1997, a band of developers that would come to be known as
Rockstar North and Rockstar Games released the original Grand
Theft Auto on an unsuspecting public. The groundbreaking non-linear
urban crime game shook up a complacent game industry with its
irreverent gameplay, humor and style- and a phenomenon was born.

"We are now offering this classic progenitor of the Rockstar
Games lineage as the first in a recurring series of Rockstar
PC game downloads, absolutely free of charge. It's a chance
for new fans to experience the roots of Rockstar as well
as our way of saying thank you to our long-time supporters
feeling that pang of nostalgia. Simply fill out the form
in the download source page (found by following the download
tab) and check your email for a direct link to the file - we've
even optimized the game for play on the latest and greatest computers."

Note that registration is required, inviting spam. Far be it from
me to suggest setting up a temporary Email address, no wait, that
is exactly what I'd suggest.

Knock youself out with this 328MB download, and I'd tell you to
play nice, but this is one game you'll never win (or even progress)
if you do so. Have fun.

Check back. I'll do my best to update more frequently, but please
don't hesitate to send me Email to keep me honest. <g>

Thanks again, Maggie.


May 27, 2003

Today, Doug C. wrote with a request for a little
additional functionality from his Windows, "Michael,
I did not see this on your site so I figured I would
ask you.  Is there a way to create a desktop shortcut
to open the cd-rom drive?  Like I said, I haven't seen
this on your site and I didn't se it on the net when I
searched. Any help is appreciated."

I replied to Doug, "Thanks for writing and yes, there
is a way to do exactly what you want ... at least it
works in WinXP which is the only OS I have on my
computers.

"The problem is that it does just that ... exactly what
you're asking: opens (ejects) the CD-ROM drive ... you
can't close it from the shortcut. I found this to be a
bit of a bother, but if it's adequate, just open My
Computer, right-click on the CD-ROM drive icon and
drag it to the desktop. Choose 'Create shortcut' from
the drop-down menu that will appear. This icon will
have the same limited functionality as the CD-ROM icon
itself. Right-click on it and choose 'Eject' from the list.

"Personally, I'd like to be able to close the darn thing
again. I searched up a little freeware program which
will do just that. either from a taskbar icon or a hotkey
combination. Best of all, it's from Mars! There's more
information about it here than there is at
the Mars Technology website (the authors of the
software), which refers to it as a 'stupid little program'.
It's certainly smart enough for folks who need it. <g>

"It's worth mentioning (although I tend to run it into the
ground) that if you use the desktop icon method to eject
the CD tray, be sure to use the button on the deck rather
than pushing on the tray to close it. I't'll last far
longer if you do so.

"Gotcha covered? I hope so, but if you have any questions
on this or any other topic or problem, please feel free
to write anytime."

You know how I love to get Email!

Here's a 'heads up' to those of you who receive Email
(which I reckon is everybody who visits here). I've
been getting numerous virus-carrying messages which
have been 'spoofed' (Email address theft) from
Support@Microsoft.com. Sheesh, script kiddies! BE
careful out there.

More updates soon. Really ....



April update

Welcome LinkUnited readers and thanks, Raye for
listing the SailCat website ... again!

More updates soon ....



March update

Long-time readers know that I prefer a clean desktop.
That WinXP in conjunction with TweakUI will allow an
icon-free environment is cool though the regular desktop
environment (My Network Places, Recycle Bin and such) is
available via the addition of a toolbar created with a
right-click off the taskbar.

I dunno 'bout most folks, but in the course of research
and surfing I collect stuff; links sent to the desktop as
shortcuts, software, pictures and the like for filing or near-
future reference. While it is possible to hide all the
desktop icons, the neatnik in me rebels at this thought
so having a single, esthetically-pleasing folder is the
most recent solution I've come up with for short-term
desktop storage.

This leads me up to a new (to me) trick for an ultra-
clean desktop folder. After right-clicking on the folder
in order to change the icon to something that looks good
with your desktop setting, right-click and re-name it by
holding the 'ALT' button while entering the numerals 255
on the keypad (not the numbers below the 'F' keys. This
will place an 'invisible' or non-label. It doesn't get
much cleaner than that, and what the heck, I don't need
a title under the single item on my desktop ... I know
what it is.

You can see a reduced, low-resolution image of what my
desktop looks like with this single, modified folder here,
but be aware that it's still 95k.

I returned recently to a website which I'd added to
Favorites for future reference and while snooping around,
found a rich resource for WinXP optimization. The article
is actually a collection of steps to take following a
reformat and re-install, but the tweaks will work fine
on a system which has been up and running for a while.

There are also many suggestions and links to free
software for the purpose of revving up a gamer's box,
so take some time and click around Tweak Town.

That's all for today, but check back often for more
tweaks, tips and free stuff.



March update

Here's a clever bit of Flash programming which had me
scatching my head. See if you can fgure out how this
Crystal Ball can read your mind.

Have fun with it! More freebies coming soon.



March update

What is your throughput? How fast is your download
compared to your upload speed? If you don't know (and
it can vary greatly depending on traffic and time of
day), then hie thee to PC Pitstop for a lightening-fast
look at your connection speeds. Long-time readers will
recall my recommendation previously of this versatile
online resource, but I've found myself using it often
recently as I have a new ISP.

Incidentally, there are numerous tests, and checks and
diagnostics available at PC Pitstop, but stick with the links
to the left and down the center of the page. Those at
the top and right are semi-disguised adverting links.
That is not to say that a website should not be supported
by advertisers but rather that visitors should be aware
of internal links as opposed to those which are selling
or promoting goods at an outside location.

Reader Paul H. wrote with a security question, "Very good
info on your website, I would like to know more about
hiding your IP address. If I use a router will this work
or can i hide it behind a firewall such as zone alarm 3.5?"

I replied to Paul, "Thanks for visiting the SailCat
website and for writing. I'm happy to help when I'm able
to do so.

"While a firewall is an absolute necessity when going
online, it won't hide your IP. A router may report a
different IP but doesn't provide positive protection
against the identification of your true IP address.
Only a Proxy server, whether used in conjunction with
the router or online (such as a4proxy) will allow you complete
anonymity.

For more information on this subject as well as additional
privacy and protection tools and options, take a look at
Proxy Blind.

A while back, I mentioned a program which would allow users
to tell if anyone else has used their computer. This type
of program is called a Keylogger and will record everything
which is typed and save it to a text file. While the use of
such a proggie is controversial, I figure if it's available
and free, SailCat supporters should be aware of it.

Supporting the "equal and opposite reaction" law of physics,
there is an Anti-Keylogger and while not free,
I was amused to see that it's available.

Next week, Anti-Anti-Keyloggers. Stay tuned.



February update

This week, regular contributor Mollie wrote to remind
us of yet another worthwhile, free inclusion to those
utilities with which we gird our virtual loins:

"I was reading about the problem your wife had with the
"ad parasite" and it prompted me to look and see if you
have Spybot listed as one of your freeware programs -
and you don't! This is an absolutely wonderful program,
and in my opinion, far out-shines Ad-Aware. It looks for
spyware, adware, trojans, changed registry settings and
more. As for bugs in the program, I've encountered none
(FYI, my OS is XP Home). Please give Spybot a try and
see what you think: SpyBot. Thanks for all your work!"

SpyBot is one of the (many) utilities which is on my list
of those I want to share with SailCat visitors. While I
use it in conjunction (rather than at the exclusion) of
Ad-Aware (now that the latter is once again issuing
definition updates), SpyBot is a worthy addition.

Thanks, Mollie!

In a similar vein, reader 'Bo' from Denmark wrote to ask,
"Actually it was Google that brought me to you, I am
searching for some kind of way out of that “LOP.com” spy
thing. The thing is, that I have tried almost every virus-
and spybuster software on the market, they have one thing
in common: They detect and apparently erases “LOP.com”,
but “LOP.com” keeps coming up in my IE 6. May be you can
help me with the “proggie” mentioned on your site?"

I repliesd to Bo, "Thanks so much for writing. I'm always
happy to help when I'm able. This fine fellow, Paul Smith,
is where I found the solution when that insidious parasite
lodged itself in my wife's hard drive, taking over IE6 and
installing proprietary software. I believe it was LOP's
own uninstall patch which finally worked.My best to you &
please let me know if I can help in the future."

It's worthwhile to note that Bo found the 'Cat with a
search. The field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
is highly specialized, requiring frequent updates of
the best methods for decent listings in all the major
search engines.

If you'd like to get your website listed and optimized at
Google, Yahoo, LookSmart, About.com and other major
search engines, send me an Email.

If you have a question or suggestion, the process is the
same. I'd love to hear from you either way.

Check back for more stuff soon.



January update

With apologies to Fred Langa, I have replaced his
smiling mug in the lower left-hand corner with my own.
Yep, that's the 'Cat. I have several other internal links
to Fred, so I reckon he won't mind. <g>

This week, Richard D., a regular visitor and contributor,
Emailed with some disturbing information about one of the
free utilities which is offered here at SailCat's,
"I downloaded UltimateZip from your site a while ago, and
used it a bit. Although it has many good functions, it is
extremely buggy. It's explorer extension almost never works,
and it often zips without writing to disk. It also takes
_very_ long to load. I am now using Enzip for zip files and
UltimateZip only when I get another archive. I don't know if
there's any alternative, though. I just thought I'd let you
know. Have a good day, and God bless."

Well, now ... this will never do. Despite the fact that I
personally test the software offered here, sometimes this
sort of problem will occur on another user's system.
Every box is different. There are no fewer than six versions
of the Windows OS in fairly wide usage (95, 98, 98SE, Me,
WinXP Home and Pro). Toss Win2000 and NT in the mix, stir
in various driver versions, add a dash if software conflict
and that's a lot of variables!

Never fear, though, the 'Cat spent the better part of a day
this week researching and trying various compression
utilities and have found one which seems to be bug-free
in it's current public release. As always, it's free so
YMMV. Check out ZipGenius on the Utilities page.

I Emailed a thank you to Richard, as I do to all who take
the time to drop me a note. Your input is sincerely
appreciated, even if it's just to say 'Hi.'

I found a another program which I'll be test-driving this
week which will allow users to tell absolutey if there's
been unauthorized use or activity on their computer.

Check back next week for more.



January update

This week, some wallpaper basics and webmasters anti-spam
techniques thanks to reader Darlene, who writes, "Love your
site!  Want to download wallpaper from Red Tricycle but
can't for the life of me discover how to contact Red.
Can you help?"

I replied to Darlene, "It's always a delight to hear
from visitors. I'm glad that you enjoyed the SailCat
website. Please check back 'cause I update every week;
usually on Friday but sometimes I run late and the update
isn't actually posted 'til Saturday. [like this week, ED.]"

Regarding the Red Tricycle Website, you imply two questions
so forgive me if I give you more information than you're
actually requesting.

I had to disable my Pop-up Stopper because the photographs
open in a new window. Once open, just right-click and
choose 'Save as,' placing the pictures you want to use for
wallpaper in a convenient location. For instant
gratification, choose 'Set as Wallpaper'. While this is
copyrighted artwork, there's rarely any objection to an
individual using the picture solely for wallpaper on a
personal computer.

As far as contacting 'Red' is concerned, he obviously
hates spam as much as the rest of us and has chosen an
unusual approach to prevent 'bots' which scour the 'Net
from harvesting his address (those of us with websites
are subject to torrents of junk Email). Just change the
address which is written out at his website phonetically
(red -at- redtricycle -dot- net) to the literal form,
just like it sounds: red@redtricycle.net and voila! An
Email address which was hiding there all along.

If you haven't already done so, please take a peek at
this website which is a link recommended at Red Tricycle
... it's very clever:http://www.pixelmuseum.com/

Thanks again for the nice comment about SailCat's place.
Please feel free to write again anytime.


Which request applies to all, too. Questions, suggestions,
new freeware finds and critiques are all welcome.

I'll look forward to hearing from you, too!



January update

This week, in deference to the many (thousands of) new
visitors to SailCat's place, I'll feature some of the top
freeware finds ... those utilities which have found their
way into the catagory of 'indispensable.' Readers may be
surprised at the lack of flash 'n'dazzle, as these are
proggies which integrate smoothly intoone's daily
activities, performing with panache, eschewing palaver.

The following essential freebies may be found on the
Utilities page.

Push the Freakin' Button - Stop letting Windows make
your decisions for you. "Are you sure?" Sheesh!

Enditall - Use it before every defrag or software install.

WordWeb - A dictionary and thesaurus on your desktop.

Don'cha dare go online without girding your virtual loins.
Here's a case where the free version of a proggie works
great and doesn't cause problems or conflicts as does the
'Pro' version. ZoneAlarm is on the Security page.

Mailwasher helps to drastacally reduce spam. Nothing gets
rid of it all, but after using it for several months I'd
hate to be without it. Find Mailwasher in Communication.

Finally, a solution for those unfortunates who have
upgraded to the latest version of a software program only
to find that the previous version was actually preferable.
Find hundred of previous releases of scores of proggies at
OldVersion.com.

Mrs. Cat (SailKitty) recently picked up an ad parasite. If
you've never heard of such a thing, well, me too 'til this
week. These things will sometimes install if one's mouse
cursor only hovers over a prticular ad banner.
Despicable.

This vile critter hijacked her homepage, installed a 'search
bar' (filled with ads) and offered a phoney MP3 search engine.

Much thanks to Paul Michael Smithfor his diligent
research and accurate solutions for removal of this vile software.
The page addressing the parasite is here.

Check back next for more free stuff and resources. 'Til then,
be good humans.



January update

Welcome LangaList readers!



January 10

Today I have a couple of free goodies for webmasters or
wannabes as well as an interesting online toy which
should amuse all.

I've used a few of those on-screen rulers but have found
none of them to be truly satisfying. Now I'm using Screen
Calipers and I'm one happy 'Cat. Looks good, works right
out of the virtual box and measures with pixel-perfect
accuracy. Find it here.

We view in awe as talented web slingers create delicious
designs. We wonder how the Big Boys code those menus or
what goes into those style sheets. Well, wonder no longer
'cause Web Tools will integrate with IE 5.0 or better to
create a drop-down menu where all these secrets will be
revealed as well as links or images lists, forms, scripts
and more good stuff. Select a portion of a page and find
out how just that part was coded. Pretty cool for free and
only a 171KB download. It's right here.

Finally and just for fun, here's a clever bit of coding
in itself. Create a face, your face or a friend's face
online with this Face Maker which is created completely
in Flash. This oughta waste some of your valuable time.
No download, it's all online here.

That'a it for today, fellow Web junkies. I'll be right
here next week with more. See ya then.



January 4 update

I have some cool new freeware to share with you, but
first I'd like to share a dialog that I had with a visitor
(lop-sided, as usual, because I'm so 'wordy'). After Troy
T. stopped by, he Emailed simply, "thanx. like the
site. kept me up tweeekin: you're one cool cat."

Pardon me while I blush, but that kind of feedback will
certainly encourage a fella like me to keep it up.

I replied to Troy, "I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the
SailCat website.

As a reminder, the site is updated every Friday which is
something I used to mention on the front page which has
deteriorated into a virtual Blog over the holidays (who
cares what color socks 15-year-old Anna Westfield of
Tulsa, OK wore today? Sorry to hear her boyfriend broke
up with her, but if she's really crazy about the guy,
why would she say such terrible things about him right
there where everyone in the world can read about it?
You get the idea ... 'don't hate Blogs, it's just not
my goal to create one).

"But I digress ... where was I? Oh yeah, updating!

"Yeah, I used to mention Fridays (oh rats ... that's
today!), but I do lotsa stuff (writing gigs, design
jobs, build computers, test software, play games ...
oops!) so the actual time of day varies ... like the
occasional week when the task slops over into Saturday.
Woe is me if I miss a weekly update (since I promise to
do it in writing). I have a couple of regulars who nail
me for missing ... one lady reader Emailed to say she
thought I'd "dropped off the face of the earth" just
'cause I spaced it one week. I can't get away with
slacking.

"Anyway, I really enjoy hearing from nice folks
like you who have stopped by and found something
worthwhile at the 'Cat's and I think you're pretty
cool, too, for taking the time to write and say so.

"Please drop me a note anytime and keep on tweeekin'."

And that goes for you, too (yes, you ... I can hear you
blinkiing). If you have any questions, suggestions,
comments or freeware that I might feature, please shoot
me a note!

Now, here's a couple of cool, free software programs to
make your hard drive smile.

Since StarOffice went to shareware, there hasn't been a
really stunning replacement. That is, 'til Software602
recently released PC SUITE. Not only is it complete and
full-featured just like Office 2000, it reads, saves
and edits files in the defacto Office 2000 standards:
DOC, XLS and all.

It's not a tiny download, but compared to other office
suites, it's quite svelt at just under 17MB. Get more
information or download it here.

Everyone is familiar with the 'computer slowdown
syndrome,' where everything is snappy and zippy on a
new box or right after a format-and-re-install, but
things seem to slow down over time. Rather than take
a weekend to wipe it clean and start over (for those
who are even comfortable doing so), why not get a free
in-depth analysis and checkup?

Belarc Advisor works on all flavors of Windows and
will build a detailed profile of all your installed
software and hardware, then display it all right in
your browser. It's free and private. Get it here.

After you've determined what stays and what goes
(eliminating software which is no longer used will
free up hard drive space, reduce conflicts and speed
up your computer), head over to PC Pitstop to for an
online analysis of hardware, AntiVirus, software and
connectivity. Just stay away from the ads which look
look part of the service. Stay down the middle and to
the left and you should be fine.

There ya go. Running smoothly and with a hot, new
office suite, you're looking good in 2003.

Check back next week for more tips and free goodies.



December 27 update

Wishing you and yours a happy and prosperous New Year.

There have been a few glitches in the changeover to a new
ISP here at SailCat World Headquarters, so check back next
week and every week for new tips, tricks and freeware.

As always, if you need design work or have a question about
hardware, software or a career as a revisionist historian,
drop me a note.



December 20 update

This week, I once again celebrate the season and dodge the
update bullet thanks to reader mail. Hopefully, in solving
these problems and finding freeware solutions, others may
benefit. I know I sure do.

Reader Mike who wrote last week to ask about customizing
(see December 13, 2002, below) Emailed again to say that he
had downloaded the trial version of Windowblinds and was
delighted that it did just what he wanted. While I always
strive for freeware solutions, sometimes shareware is the
best answer to a particular quetion.

This week Jack C. wrote in part, "I have installed XP on
my home pc only 1 month ago but my xp has been giving me
problems already... Initially, when i installed my xp, i
have a great time running my programs and it was smooth
sailing. I can open like 4 and 5 programs together and I
marvelled at XP's ability to manage memory. However, a few
days ago, my pc started to act weirdly. I cannot open more
than 2 programs, namely mirc and internet explorer (maybe a
3rd program, zonealarm). Through observation from the task
manager, i found out that my processor is perpectually fully
utilised whenever i start up outlook express or any other
programs. My questions are below:

"1. I read about thistrick of creating a new user profile
on your website. Will this help in this scenario? but XP is
pretty new on my system.

"2. Is my processor damaged or is it XP?

"3. Is reformatting the only alternative left?"

I replied to Jack, also in part, "WinXP is the best work
Micro$oft has ever done. It almost makes up for the earlier
products that were buggy and overpriced. I say 'almost'
because to do so would've required WinXP to be free with
unlimited lifetime updates. Yeah, I know I'm dreaming, but
it's such a pleasant reverie ... don't wake me.  8-)

"Regarding your problem and considering the scenario you
describe, that all was well initially and went sour after
only a month or so would make a virus the primary suspect.
If you haven't already done so, please update your virus
definitions then close all running programs and de-fragment
the hard drive. Then do a deep, thorough scan with your
anti-virus software. After this procedure, write back to me
with the results. If the problem is not solved, we'll try
some other procedures.

"In answer to your other questions, 1) I don't think creating
another user profile would help. As you said, that's a solution
to slow-downs on the long term. 2) I believe processors go bad
all at once. I could be wrong, but that's my experience. Good
today, gone tomorrow. An example of hardware that goes bad
gradually would include a hard drive, but if that's the case
with your system, the de-frag routine will expose it (bad
sectors). 3) No, you're a ways from a format & re-install,
although that will fix virtually every problem that's not
hardware-related. Sure, it's fun to do, but shouldn't be
necessary after only a month."

Jack is an experienced and knowledgeable user, and after
eliminating a virus and hard drive as sources of the problem,
re-installed WinXP choosing the NTFS format (always a good
idea. Everything is back to normal.

Just yesterday I heard from reader Maggie once again, who
had developed a hardware problem, the solution to which is
this week's Freeware Find.

"IN YOUR NOV. 8TH NEWSLETTER YOU GAVE A HARDWARE TIP ABOUT
USING THE BUTTON TO OPEN AND CLOSE THE CD-ROM DRIVES. I AM
EXPERIENCING A PROBLEM WITH IT OPENING. HOW OR WHAT CAN BE
DONE TO FIX THIS?  APPRECIATE YOUR HELP. THANKS."

I replied to Maggie, "The reference was directed at some
(most) people who close the CD player/burner tray by pushing
on it rather than using the eject button which will accomplish
the same thing without putting strain on the gizmo's innards.
But, I've got just the thing for you, regardless of whether
you've been guilty of this or your problem developed despite
your effort to behave yourself, button-wise.

"Download HiCDEject from here. It works on Windows
95/98/Me/NT/2000 and XP 'cause the latter is what I'm using it
on now. Further, I'd recommend putting a shortcut in your
Startup folder so that it starts with Windows and use it
exclusively to electronically open the drive. This will
effectively eliminate any possibility of additional wear on
the mechanism.

"Thanks so much for writing and please feel free to do so
again anytime."

Incidentally, although in the case above it was recommended
that a shortcut be placed in the Startup folder, this should
be done very sparingly and only when a program is needed
perpetually 'cause every shortcut will add additional time
to Windows boot-up and re-start times.

It's Christmas time and whether you celebrate it or not,
may all the joy this magical season has to offer be
yours.

See ya right here next week.



December 13 update

Like most folks, it's a busy time for the 'Cat between
clients at World Headquarters and preparing for the holidays


I received some good advice from that whacked-out group at
Cool Tool so thought I'd share it here. It might help to
manage the inevitable stress at this time of year.


And now, here's some Reader Mail!

This week, reader MIke wrote to ask a number of questions.
In an effort to answer similar quaestions that other visitors
might have as well as get back to my hot buttered rum, gift
wrapping and effectively dodge an actual update, I'll share
his inquiry and my reply.

Mike wrote, "I really enjoy your site. Great info. I have a
question that I hope you can help me with. I am running
Windows 98 SE on this CPU and would like to change the skin
color. Does anybody have the trick or know where I can get
a free download? My other computer runs Windows ME. It's a
joke. Crashes all the time. I am thinking I want to upgrade
both to Windows XP or purchase a new system. I am building
web sites for my own use and have been told to get an Apple
G4. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated."

I replied to Mike, "I'm delighted to hear from you. Please
forgive me for being so long in answering [two days, Ed.]. 
I've been swamped this week and wanted to reply when I had
time to answer all your questions in detail.

"Regarding your 'skinning' question, I'm assuming that you
want to change the elements of the OS like taskbar, start
button and the colors (and textures) of the windows which
open with folders and programs. To do so in one fell swoop
requires third-party software. The best freeware option I
know of is LiteStep, which, along with other options, is
detailed at SailCat's Desktools.

"As far as the other customizing options, you've probably
found the 'Desktop Tweaks' section which is linked from 
the index page at the SailCat site. I'm not withholding
anything when I write this stuff and if I discover anything
new, it'll be there.

"Incidentally, I was a beta-tester for Microsoft during the
development of Windows Me and consequently received the OS
without charge. I did a clean install (a good idea with any
OS upgrade) and found it no more or less stable than Win98
although I realize I was in the minority.

"While not free, there are options for 'one-click' skinning
of your Win98/Me systems available which, in combination with
a little creativity with regard to wallpaper and icons, can
create a stunning appearance from subtle to outrageous. I used
Stardock's Windowblinds on Win98/Me, and while it does
use some resources, the effects are virtually unlimited. It will
set you back about $20 while $50 will buy their whole suite.
Take a look and see for yourself if you think it's worth digging
out the charge card.

"Now, on to the good stuff!

"Windows XP is unlike any previous release. It is NT at the
core, and that core is rock-solid, stable and capable of the
customization (skinning) that you're looking for. It'll also
set you back $100 for an upgrade which is outrageous, but
that's typical of Micro$oft. The pain of shelling out a C-note
for this OS will subside with time and the pleasure of using it.

"Regarding the purchase of an Apple G4, the darling of a few
graphics designers and recommended because you build your own
websites, I cannot imagine spending the extra money for that
purpose. PCs are not only less expensive but also offer greater
software choices and compatibility. I've been building websites
and doing graphic design since 1995 and have never felt compelled
to invest in an Apple computer. I'm not an Apple basher; they're
fine and lovely machines, but for the reasons stated (and now
that XP makes PCs equally stable) I'll stick to what I know and
can afford.

"I hope this helps and that all your questions were answered.
Please write again anytime."

And that goes for you, too, dear reader. Drop me a line!

See you right here next week.



December 6 update

While it's always cool to get Email from visitors to my
humble website, it's especially nice to have folks write
regularaly to contribute, comment or just say hi.

So it is that special thanks go out to Mollie who has become
a regular contributor. She was kind enough to remind me of
the handy Google Toolbar which is currently being promoted
on their home page. This utility allows a Google Internet
search to be launched from the browser while on any web
page.

Another search utility worth mentioning is SearchBar
which will launch web searches directly from the desktop
without even opening the browser. Either or both of these
free programs can be found here at SailCat's.

Many thousands of new webmasters start the first (and
often subsequent) projects using Microsoft FrontPage due
to its ease of use. It is possible to create slick, pro-
fessional-looking websites with enough practice and
and experience.The downside is that it writes a great
deal of extraneous 'junk' code which can cause pages
to be slower to load. Naturally, FrontPage-created
websites are optimized for Internet Explorer and will
sometimes look screwy in other browsers.

That said, it's still the most widely used wysiwyg
(what-you-see-is-what-you-get) web creation software
on the planet.

Here's a resource for some cool, free FrontPage 'Add-ins'
which provide additional functionality and automate common
processes like removing the MSoft branding which appears
within all FP documents, remove link underlines, link Style
Sheets and a cool utility for easily incorporating Flash
animations into web pages.

In addition, there's a lot of information which will
benefit FrontPage users. Visit Jimco and please tell him
SailCat sent you!

Please check back next week and every week for new Windows
tips and free software.



November 29 update

Yesterday was Thanksgiving (U.S.), which means today is
historically the busiest shopping day of the year. With
most Americans taking this extra day off to enjoy a four
-day weekend, morning traffic reports addtress the jams
at shopping malls. Internet-savvy visitors to SailCat's
are undoutedly aware of the advantage of shopping online:
It's fast, easy and safe with no crowds to elbow through,
no traffic to fight and no gasoline to burn.

While most Internet merchants protect shopper's privacy
and security, girding one's virtual loins with a little
extra protection couldn't hurt. Enter Securo, this week's
freeware offering for carefree online holiday shopping.

It's easy to understand and operate, offering an alert
if there's a problem with credit card security or a
potential breach in protecting the shoppers private
information. Find it on the Internet Freeware page.

Those who'd like to take a peek at a website facelift
project in the 'before' stage may click over to Boost
Consulting
. It'll be a couple of weeks 'til the
'after' version is up.

Check back next week for more free goodies.



November 22 update

The 'Cat has been scratching to provide graphics for websites
and catalogs. The holiday shopping season is upon us. This
week thanks go out to Marie at Chandler's Soaps!

SailCat supporter Maureen wrote to ask about a problem, the
solution to which I'll share here in case this has happpened
(or happens) to anyone else.

"Hope you can help, my daughter is running windows me," she
stated, "and by mistake she has deleted the recycle bin
... ouch ... and she has phoned her mum (me) ... do you
know an easy way to restore it?"

There are two possibilities as to what might have happened,
but isn't it cool the her Mom is sufficiantly tech-savvy
for her daughter to seek her help? Yeah, I think so, too.

First, if the desktop icon if all that actually got deleted,
I advised her to open Windows Explorer and drag a shortcut
to her desktop for the recyle bin folder (C;/Windows/System).

On the other hand, if the real Recycle Bin got deleted (which
task requires ignoring a pop-up warning), the thing must be
re-created. While doing so requires a bit of registry editing,
the process, written out as a clickable .reg file, may be
downloaded here (Win 9.x/Me users only).

For those of you who dabble with audio files (or would like to)
here's a program which enables users to record sounds, play
sounds, import and export WAV, AIFF, and MP3 files, which is
not unusual, but it also allows for editing of sounds using Cut,
Copy and Paste (with unlimited Undo), mix tracks together, or
apply effects to recordings. 'Sound like fun? Find Audacity on
the Audio-Video Freeware page.

Stop by next week for more free goodies and tips!


November 15, 2002

The 'Cat once again extends a welcoming paw to new and returning
visitors.

Special thanks to Christine who sent me a very nice Email
over the weekend. Regulars know how I love getting mail from
folks who stop by. Feedback, suggestions, new freeware finds
or just a note to say hi is always welcomed.

Someone stopped me in a store the other day to ask, "Hey, Sailcat,
didn't I see you on the Internet the other day?" To which I replied,
"I don't know ... you can't see out the other way." Keep those
Emails comin' so I know who's dropping by.

Today we have a new Windows tip, some Internet search resources
and more freeware proggies.

I solved a nagging problem. Whenever I opened a new instance
of Internet Explorer, it started (apparently) minimized to the
taskbar. Like everything else, the answer was on the Internet and
the problem seems common enough to share the solution here.

To set a default size, whether full-screen or smaller, open IE to
a web page, open a second page in a new window, close the first
instance, stretch the remaining IE window to the size you'll want
is to open everytime, then, while holding down the control (Ctrl)
button, close the window using the drop-down menu from the 'File
button
. It must be closed in this manner for the change to take
effect.

Of some interest may be that in following this procedure, it was
revealed IE was actually opening, but had set a new default size
for itself of one pixel square and was therefore virtually
invisible. Go figure, but that's Windows for ya.

Most experienced users agree that Google tops 'em all amongst
search engines. I created a folder labeled 'Search' in my Favorites
(that'd be 'Bookmarks' to the 3% of you who still use Netscape)
which contains Google plus a shortcut to Google Groups where
one may search Usenet discussion forums as well. Lotsa info there.

Within 'Search' is another folder labeled Reference which contains
additional useful resources well worth inclusion in a seasoned
cybrarian's arsenal.

To identify oddball file extension and determine what's needed
to read or open them, try whatis? which boasts that they define
"Every File Format in the World." Speaking of definitions, who
needs a dictionary when there's Dictionary.com? There's
a thesaurus at this location as well, but this one which
explores the interrelationships between words and meanings
as spatial maps is lots more fun. For an online encylopedia,
try this. For definitions of language which is Internet
-specific, there's NetLingo. Find out the difference between
a bananna problem and a barney deal.

Here are a few more which I find handy. Often one does searches
in order to find out how to do something or get specifics about
particular software programs. To that end, try TutorialFind.
As a musician, I often need song lyrics and find them here or
here. Sound effects for Flash animations or Windows events
calls for a special-purpose seach engine like this one.

Now that you've added to your favorites folder, let's spice up
your hard drive with some new freeware.

Thanks and a tip 'o thinking cap to my buddy, The Chief, who
who sent me a link to TitleBarClock, a little proggie which displays
the Day, Month, Time and Megabytes of free physical memory on
the right side of the Title Bar in any window. It looks cool and
works great on Win 9.x, Me, NT, 2000 and XP systems. I grabbed
a copy as soon as I saw it. Grab yours here.

While the following is mostly an esthetic enhancement, it is
kinda cool, changing the throbber (that little animated logo
in the upper right-hand corner of Internet Explorer), adding
custom text to the title bar next to the page title, (mine
says, "Browzer by SailCat, of course!"), can play a sound
when the page is loaded and if the user wishes, will add a
secondary home page accessable by double-clicking on the
custom logo. Get Edensoft MyLogo here.

Please notice that I've added the opportunity to make a
donation on any of the pages offering free software and
information. Toss a buck or two into the kitty to show your
support. Thanks.

That's all for now. Have fun & I'll see ya back here next week.


November 8 update

Had your Hot Monkey Sex today?

Man, that's an attention-getter early in the day, isn't it?
Here's the story.

Most newspapers feature a 'Tech' section weekly. I get my fix on
Fridays. After following the sydicated Q&A section. "Ask Dr.
Bombmay" for many months, I finally accessed his website and, like
all the extra-cool stuff I stumble upon online, wanted to share it
with you.

Dr. Emilio Bombay (nom de guerre of Michael Gerst, editorial systems
manager for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) is funny, irreverent and
knowledgeable, writes stuff like, "Windows shutdown problems?
Well, boo hoo hoo. And you're too dim to find the answer on your
own? How tragic! Just click the damned link and leave me alone."

Touching, ain't it? Warmth and wisdom. Be sure to check out the
'Stuff I wrote about' link for archives of his columns. if you're
looking for 'Hot monkey sex,' you can find it here, too.
Bombay Institute. Click around. Learn. Laugh.

While the information offered at SailCat's is usually software
-oriented, here'a quick hardware tip that will prolong the life of
your CD-ROM or DVD dives. Use the button. Many folks are in the
habit of pushing on the door to close these drives. Bad idea. This
practice causes unnecessary fatigue and early breakdowns. Use
the button to both open and close the door. Alternately, you
can open and close the drives with the tiny (9KB) proggie
HiCDEject available here, which will do so from a taskbar button.

If you're like me (as improbable as that may be), you've got a
stack of CD-Rs which contain multiple backups of data from your
hard drive. Despite all the scribbled notes as to the contents,
sliding the disks into the drive one at a time is the only way
to determine what's actually been archived, or worse, find that
single file or jpeg. Well, no more.

Enter Catfish, an easy, intuitive method for cataloging the
contents of those disk. Works with CD, CD-R, CD-RW, even
(shudder) Zip Disks. Catfish takes a snapshot of the contents
and stores the information in a compact ans easily retrievable
format. Find files by name (with wildcards), size and/or date.
Slick. Dunno how I got along without it. Get yours here.

'See y'all again right here next week.



November update

What? November already? With time flying by like this, I guess we
must be having a pretty good time!

Thanks go out this week to the lovely and talented Dr. J.D. Decuypere
who chose the SailCat to improve the graphics on her website. It
was nice to hear from code-guru Leor Zolman again, too. The 'Cat
created all of the graphics on Leor's new website last year, and
I'm now in the process of rendering a new idea for a new graphic
which Leor dreamed up and doing so in my personal favorite medium,
Flash. Customers like Leor, who return for additional work, pay a
special compliment to a graphic artist.


The handsome face you see in the lower left-hand corner of this
page is none other than Fred Langa. Long-time readers are aware
of my admiration for Mr. Langa, but despite my mentions of him
here and here,, he's been unable to find the requisite link to the
his website in oreder to earn a mention in his immensely popular and
worthwhile newsletter. Hence, he'll smile from this page, at least
'til I get my 15 minutes. Actually, thousands of you beutiful people
visit the 'Cat's place every day, but traffic equates to an occasional
job designig a website, creating a logo, writing copy or giving an
existing website a virtual facelift, and that business allows me to
continue bringing you tips and freeware, so I'm really doing it for you!
A single mention in Fred's LangaList has been known to 'melt' the
server of a linked website from the clicks generated. Cool.

I know I have a policy of no advertising but that by which I humbly
blow my own horn, but the LangaList is free and a most worthwhile
bi-weekly read. Emailing Fred is a little like praying,though; you
have faith it'll be received and it may get results but you don't
expect a personal reply. That's not entirely true, but as a writer
it's hard to resist a good analogy when one comes to mind.

Here are a couple of cute online games for you to play which come
compliments of Mike's List, a newsletter "based entirely on a single
proposition: technology is funny." Gotta love that premise.

While there are many versions of minature golf oline, this is about
as small as it gets.

Monkey Cliff Diving just sounds fun, doesn't it? And it is, too,
until you miscalculate the timing. Those with a twisted sense of
humor are encouraged to click here.

I've writen a couple of times about formatting a hard drive and
re-installing Windows and that doing so would promote an individual
to 'Über Geek' status. A complete wipe of one's drive requires
meticulous preparation, however, and re-building the sysem involves
more than just installing the OS. People who do so often set aside
an entire weekend for the project. There are other alternatives which
are explained here by the nice folks at Tech TV (who featured the
SailCat Website on television [!] last year). Delve into the
options to a complete slash 'n' burn.

Stop be next week for more stuff you didn't know you needed.



October 25th update

A long-time Internet acquaintance wrote this week to ask,
"How serious are you about web development? I get the impression
you're more a graphics guy but I may have a business prop for ya'"

Good grief! If this guy who's known me for years doesn't realize
that I'm in business here, perhaps I should put up a virtual neon
sign Website Design - while you wait!

Seriously, folks, it's the income from website, logo and graphic
design that allows me to offer free goodies and tips to you, so if
you need some of this kinda work performed (or know of someone who
does), toss a bone to the 'Cat. Hey, it's good work at a fair price!

Thanks to regular visitor Mollie for the 'heads up' regarding a bad
link for last week's offering, SectorSpy, the proggie which allows
recovery of deleted data. It's appreciated!

Everyone wants their Internet experience to be as speedy as the
limits of whatever sort of connection allows. Makiing the correct
settings to the Windows TCP/IP stack (your Internet connection) has
historically been a hit-or-miss proposition, with only awkward, clunky
software available for the purpose. Enter CableNut, which will tweak
the daylights out of your settings whether Dialup, Cable, DSL, or
Satellite and works on all flavors of Windows. Find it here.

On the subject of Internet browsing, removing URLs from that drop-down
list in Internet Explorer (address bar) is challenging. Whether doing
so to clean up your 'tracks' (remove references os visits to certain
sites) ar just tidy up the accunulation of addresses, EditURLs makes
the process easy. Get more info or downnload from their website.

Check back next week for more stuff and please Email me with questions
or suggestions.


October 18 update

Hi, I'm the SailCat. I do graphic, logo and website design. Pass it on.

Oh, come on ... I'm the only advertiser on my own website.

Thanks to regular visitor Maggie who noticed I had missed a week
updating the website and wrote that she was glad that I hadn't
"left the country." Thanks for keeping me on my toes, Maggie!

Thenks also go out to the lovely Lucille who sent me a links
page. Now, I don't usually pay too much attention to these things,
but this one is over 800 pages and 250,000 links. Sort by theme,
popularity or alphabetically. There's no advertising whatsoever. Hats
off to Cbel.com for this cool resource.

Here's a silly little game, appropriate perhaps as Halloween
appraoches. It's a simple Flash game involving a shark anf SCUBA
divers. Guess what the object is? Oh, well, Lucy liked it. Find
it here.

You know, it's a party every day here at SCG World Headquarters,
and speaking of parties, there's another going on over at LiteStep
where Chronic is rippin' it up. He says, "If anyone want's a
subdomain at litestep.com, just let me know and i'll set it
up for you. Free of charge." Hey, that's the nice price!

I've mentioned several times that nothing is really deleted from
a user's hard drives unless and until it's overwritten, either by
other data or use of a utility. There are shredders and drive
wipers on the Security page here at the 'Cat's place.

Now it is my pleasure and priveledge to share with you a proggie
which will recover data that's been lost or inadvertantly placed
in the Recycle Bin which had then been empties. It's called
SectorSpy and can be found here.

You may recall at the end of August I formatted my hard drive,
re-installed WinXP and once it was updated and had the software
installed I knew I'd need for the long run, I used DriveImage2002
to create a copy of the clean installation on multiple CDs. Now
it's possible to take a 'picture' of a fresh installation for use
in the future and do so using free software. That means the process
takes 20 minutes instead of several hours. Find DrvImagerXP here.

That's a wrap for this week. If you've got something to say, please
send me Email.


October 12 update

Busy, busy, busy!

Much thanks to Billy Penny at Southern Yankee BBQ
for hiring the 'Cat to create the graphics for his new website.


In addition, there's this computer at my feet which was brought to
me for some Windows tweaking, USB port installation and, well, stuff.
It's sposed to be done yesterday.


I'm gathering up some new proggies for y'all, though, and I'll post 'em
here just as soon as I can catch up with these projects.


I don't want you to leave empty-headed, though, so here's a tip for
WinXP users which is relevent to one of the most frequently-asked
questions I recieve regarding the JavaScript to prevent right-clicks
and subsequent snagging of images.


While I support the protection of copyrighted material, if a user
wants to use an image on his own desktop, there's no harm done. To
accomplish, just hover your mouse over the image to produce four
icons, the first of which will save the image to your hard drive at
your preferred location. This will work even if 'no right click' is
allowed. Alternately, the other icons allow for sending to the printer
or Email program and opening the 'My Pictures' folder.


Thanks and a tip of the Thinking Cap to Elmer, a very helpful individual
who sent me a link to Freeware Arena which offers tons of freebies.
Although it's my preference to offer software that's been paw-tested in
the SailCat laboroatories, it's a worthwhile resouce that's worth a look.


OK, that's it, I gotta get to work.


See ya next week!


September 27 update

Welcome back, freeware fans!

As regular visitors are aware, I love getting Email from you folks.
Special thanks this week to 'Mollie' who alerted me to a bad link for
ieSpell, a freeware proggie which I actually use every day. If you keep
a blog or post to forums, you will, too! Find the corrected link here.

Thanks also to Leo S. who sent me a 'heads up' regarding a trick in the
WinXP Tips section with regard to speeding up searches and a glitch
with ZIP integration. It seems the code generates an error. My apologies
to any who have had this experience. The tip has been pulled from the
page and rolled into the SailCat Code Garage for a tune-up. I'll let ya
know when it returns after I thoroughly test-drive it. Thanks, Leo!

Being a freelance graphic designer and web slinger is a matter of
feast or famine. Fortunately for the 'Cat, my plate has been full
lately, but there's always room for more. If you want a bid on a
project, contact me.

Satisfyling clients does take precious time away from my own projects
(like this beloved website), but I still want to take care of loyal
visitors like *you* who seek free, fun software and amusements!

This week you'll be wasting hours of potentially productive time at
the following locations which offer various diversions, games and
things which are appropriately described as 'things.' Have fun & be
sure to stop by next week when I'll have some cool, new freeware for
ya.!

Orisinal has a large collection of beautifully-crafted games,
some of which are quite chalenging.

Spikything starts with a stunning and original interface which
leads the visitor to a number of interesting games and diversions

CRpuzzles bills itself as an 'online puzzle magazine'
and it's all that. Crosswords to logic puzzles, you'll find it all
here.

Have fun with these websites and if you've got a question or an idea
to share, drop me a line.



September 13 update

Greetz, dudes and dudettes! It was great to hear from more SailCat
Graphics visitors this week. Keep those Emails coming. Questions,
suggestions and requests are all welcomed.

Special thanks to Dale and Scott who made inquiries about new
website and design projects. After all, that's what finances this
joint & keeps it online.

Jim, write again & let me know if you got ieSpell working. I hope
that Robert and Raptor's questions were answered satisfactorily.


Here's that new program suggested by Shon of starscream last week.
I had some trouble figuring out where to put this thing. It monitors
various system functions, incorporates MotherBoard Monitor, WinAmp,
an unlimited number of graphs and gauges, tells the weather and
even shows favorite TV listings. It ended up on the Desktools page
'cause this will definately be the coolest thing you've ever seen on
your desktop. Get it
here.

That oughta keep ya busy this week. Look for my custom desktop
appearing in the next few days at Samurize screenshots where
l'll show you mine if you show me yours.

Check back right here next week for more free goodies.



September update

I was delighted to have heard from some more SailCat visitors this
week. Jawad, please let me know how your 'save to desktop' problem
worked out. Shon, who has a cool website of his own called
starscream, suggested a freeware program which will be
featured here next week, 'cause it'll take me that long to figure
out how to explain it. It's extremely cool, though, so be sure
to check it out. 'Glad to hear your computer problem 'healed
itself, Shon!

Special thanks to the fine group at WinForums.org ... as fine and
helpful a bunch of techies as you'll find anywhere. When I'm
stumped, this is where I turn and always get a quick, courtious
and accurate reply. Drop by, say 'Hi' and tell 'em the SailCat
sent ya!

I also had the pleasure to hear from a long-time Internet buddy
of mine, Pawel Kasprzak from Poland, who should really figure out a
way to move to the U.S.!

New freeware this week: If you find yourself frustrated, checking
particular web pages for new content only to find nothing has changed,
get this! It'll not only check an unlimited number of pages, but also
portions of pages or particular sections and do so on a schedule of
your choice; minutes, hours or days. Alerts with sound or pop-ups.
Find it here.

Please send me an Email if you have any questions or suggestions for
the SailCat website. I'd like to hear from you!

Check back next week for something really new and different that'll
make your desktop a more interesting place.



August update
I really enjoy getting Email from visitors! Thanks to Gary and
Cheryl for writing this week. Gary, Don't Panic! ... I'll find
that program. Cheryl, congrats on getting the Cascade Trick to
work properly.

I'd be delighted to hear from anyone with a question, request or
just like to say 'hi' ... please drop me a note.

The format and re-install of WinXP went beutifully. I hope many
of you took the suggestion to update your systems. While you're
at it, a new download called 'RefUpdate' has been added to AdAware,
the 'spyware' eliminator on the Security page in the Freeware
section . It allows one-button updates of new spyware types to
AdAware. Get it, dudes and dudettes.

As a musician and music lover, I've just gotta have my tunes. One
persistant problem over the years has been playback of MP3s which
are recorded at different gain (volume) levels. Constant adjustment
of the volume control from one song to the next is a drag. Enter
MP3Gain with an elegant, transparent and welcome solution. It's on
the Audio-Video page, but you knew that.

Sticky notes! Couldn't live without 'em! Got 'em all over my desk,
monitor and carpet. Time for a better system. Another great name,
Ruined Soft, produces dnoter. Not just another sticky-note proggie
but an esthetically pleasing way to keep track of thoughts which
will even allow you to archive your brilliant ideas. It's new on the
Utilities page.

That oughta keep ya busy for this week. Check back next Friday for
new goodies.



August 23

This week we're going to discuss updates. It's been on my
mind for several days as I prepare (once again) to format
my hard drive and re-install Windows XP. There's no definate
indication that this is necessary, but little idiosyncrasies
have developed, causing concern about the efficiency of the
system and the possibility of data loss. So, backup time!

How often are you checking for updates on your system? While
a complete format and install might be a little extreme, keeping
your system up to date and checking for newer versions of drivers
and software is smart.

Number one should be Windows Update to pick up anything in the
'Critical' category. Check your videocard manufacturer's website
for new drivers. You'll only benefit by doing so.

Check on new versions of important or frequently-used software.
For instance, a new version of the SailCat-recommended free
antivirus AVG just went to version 6.0 today. The last time I
tried to use the wonderful WinMX file sharing proggie, it
wouldn't log on to the server. A quick upgrade to the new
version 3.22 and no problem!

So, get busy this week and update your system. I'm off to wipe
my hard drive and start over. This time I'll use DriveImage 2002
(not free) and in six months when the urge strikes again, it'll
take 30 minutes instead of a whole weekend.

Next week, new freeware, I promise!


August 16

Welcome back. Here's a couple of progs to add to your
collection, gratis as always.

The new ieSpell gives those who post to forums, use web-
based Email or maintain a blog the ability to spell-check
right from Internet Explorer. Check it out on the Internet
page in the Freeware section.

Also new this week on the Graphics page is ZPaint, a simple
method of creating three-dimensional buttons in a variety of
shapes. Give it a try; it's only 286K!

Thats all for now. More next Friday!


August 9

Hi, I'm glad you're here! If this is your first visit,
scroll down for weeks of cool, free stuff which appears
in this space fresh every Friday.

If you need website or graphics design work, hire me!

Here's a sweet desktop enhancement for Windows 2000/XP
users. This proggie will transperentize the Start Bar to
a user-defined percentile without installing anything or
writing to the registry. It fades back to 100% on mouseover
and looks really cool. Find StartBar Fader on the Desktools
page of the Freeware section.

The free version of Diskeeper is not listed at the author's
website, but the 'Cat found it for you and it's the finest
and fastest defragger you'll ever use. It'snew on the
Utilities page.

Where do arcade games go when they die (the copyright
expires, development stops or the author's website goes
away)? They go here and get free. Due to limitations in the
JavaScript which allows this section to scroll, you'll have
to cut and paste the following into your browser address
window. You'll have access to thousands of games in all
genres: http://www.abandongames.com/

That's it for this week ... check back next Friday for more!



August update

Wow, August already! Here in the U.S. it's mid-summer
where geeks beat the heat by playing with their 'puters.

We all download software, and for those on slower
dial-up connections, it can be a lengthy process.
Transfers from one server to another is lightening-fast,
however, and just what Transloader does. Especially useful
for quick transfer of online-generated images or for users
of (shudder) WebTV. No server? Transloader will send to
free servers like Geocities. It's in the Freeware/Internet
section.

After compiling a collection of favorite songs in MP3
to burn to CD and send to my brother, I wanted to annotate
the list, adding comments, personal notes and information
about the artists. "The easiest way to do this would be to
print out the contents of the folder," I thought. Ah, not
an option, I discaovered. So it comes to pass that I share
the solution that I found, useful for printing folder
contents or even entire directiroes. Look for PrintFolder
in the Freeware/Utilities section.

Finally, this bit of time-wasting fluff. Those of us who
have fiddled with computers and videogames for a while are
familiar with an early effort called Pong. A new version
with an different perspective is still called Pong, but
you've never seen it from this angle. Find it on the Cool
Toys page of the Freeware section.

That's a wrap for this week. Stay cool & check back next
Friday for more freeware finds.


July update

It's gratifying to find really clever, useful software
proggies such as this week's collection.

If you've got a scanner and a printer, you have the makings
for a copier. The one-button solution in the Utilities
listings of the Freeware section is aptly-named Photocopier.


Imagine hiding a document, file or folder inside another,
invisibly, while the original file acts just like a normal
file. That's what Camouflage does and it's new in the
Security listings.

Also in Security, a means to sanitize a hard drive on that
older computer to make data unrecoverable. Since you can't
know who will be snooping around after you sell or donate
the old box, this is a good idea and only a 51K executable.


Check back next week for more goodies.



July 12


Welcome back to SailCat's Friday Freeware Follies!

This week, I spent far more time than I should have
playing a Flash game called gridlock. Ain't no big
deal. Just move the blocks around to free the blue block.
Some time later, having finally strained yet another
handful of precious brain cells beating level 23 (out of
40), I decided I'd better quit and share this with you
here.


Find it on the Cool Toys page of the Freeware section.


Be sure take a break in he game to check back here next
Friday for more goodies.



July 5th


Welcome back to Friday fixin's, freeware fans. I've got a
couple if sweet additions for you this week.

For those who work with graphics, wish to prepare links
to pictures or want to build photo albums (online or off),
Easy Thumnails does just what it sounds like and more.
Find it on the Graphics page in the Freeware section.


Added to the resources on the Links page is a stunning
website which features icons of brilliant design. They're
Mac-ish for WinXP users only, shiny and monochromatic.
Go see!


That's it for this week. More next Friday.



June update


As promised, you'll find fresh WinXP Tips on the second
page of the Windows Tricks section. They're marked as
'New Tips for June, 2002.' Hey, I wanted to make 'em
easy for you to find!


Thanks to my Internet buddy, Kit C., who sent this URL
to a ton of instructional info on WinXP (you'll have to
copy and paste this into your browser due to the limitations
of the 'scoll' Javascript):
http://www.microsoft.com/insider/learning/lessons.asp


While I found nothing new for the Win9.x/Me saction,
there's already a lot of stuff listed. Please consider
the following from one of the many dudes for whom
I have the greatest respect:


"Windows XP finally provides a truly protected operating
system. Each program you run will operate independently
of all other programs currently being executed. XP provides
a very stable environment and all but eliminates the mysterious
program crashes often experienced on earlier Windows releases.
If you've been holding off on updating an earlier version of
Windows, this may be the time to finally upgrade. Unlike 98
and ME, which were largely cosmetic improvements of the original
95, XP, while sharing the same graphical user interface as
those earlier releases, now provides a rock-solid operating
system environment." - Gregory Braun, software programmer


So, that's the word from a top pro, friends, and having used
WinXP since its release, I humbly concur. The Evil Empire seems
to have hit a home run with this OS. It's time to upgrade.


More next Friday!



June 21

Does your website look this good?
Have the SailCat Graphics team give your site a makeover!



Sure, that was shameless self-promotion, but if I'm not
doing website and graphics design, how the blazes do you
think I can keep all the free software, Windows and
Desktop stuff coming, fresh and tasty each week?


I knew you'd understand. *g*


How 'bout this? Animated wallpaper! Why wait for a
screensaver when you can have truly cool aquarium or
Matrix simulator running right behind your icons?
Vital Desktop is the latest addition on the Desktools
Page in the Freeware section.


Speaking of desktop pictures, get this! How about an
image viewer that doesn't install into the registry and
places the pictures, unframed, right in front of you.
You can stack pictures in a corner of your desktop, thumb-
nail style, to veiw one at a time or several at once. I've
tried it for you (as always) and it works. It's new on the
Graphics Page in the Freeware section.


I'm working on some new WinXP tips and tricks, so look for
those next week. I'll try to include some tricks for
Win98/Me users as well.

Tune in next Friday!


June 14

Once again, it's Freeware Friday as the 'Cat returns
with fresh, free software.

Check out Ass-o-tron in the Cool Toys section. I won't
explain what it does here, but it is amusing, even if
on a 'funny once' basis.

I promised to post an improved version of an icon
editing and creation tool, and I finally found a
really fine example from SnideSoft called SnIco Edit.
Find it on the Desktools page.

Finally two new programs appear on the Audio-Video
page, Windows Media Recorder which will save streaming
media to your hard drive and Exact Audio Copy for music
CD dupes that's make your ears smile.

That'e all for this week. More next Friday.



May 24

Howdy, freeware fans! The 'Cat is serving up a
couple of hot and tasty progs this week!


First, thanks go out to a long-time, loyal SailCat
fan who turned me on to a (finally) simple yet
highly effective spam fighter. Look for 'MailWasher'
on the Communications page in the Freeware section.
Thanks, Betty!

Users of WinMX (and that would be you if you
follow the 'Cat's recommendations) will love
the new addition to the Audio-Video page. NapMX
grabs additional *terabytes* of unfiltered servers
and adds them to the search possibilities with
WinMX. Get it and get busy.

That's it for this week. See ya here next Friday.



May 17 update


You've been extra good this week, so the 'Cat's gonna
reward ya with three new, free proggies!


Click to the Freeware section and check out the
Communication page for 'The Cleaner' which will
improve the appearance of your Email.


Added to Internet freeware is 'Favorites Home Page'
which creates a new, cool way to display your
frequently-visited URLs in a visually pleasing manner.


Finally, another way to have fun wasting time on the
Cool Toys page, Mini-Putt from Harvard, no less.
Check it out without downloading anything!


That's it for this week. See ya next Friday.


May updatebr>

New to the Cool Toys page in the Freeware section is
AllFives 2000, a computer-based, great-looking Yahtzee
game which comes with scores of music tracks.


Thanks to Wingman, who offers a couple of new twists to
the Windows Tweaks and Tips section. Check 'em out!


Check back next Friday for more new stuff!



May 3


Served up fresh and tasty each Friday, here's this week's
new freeware and tips.


"They're back! PowerToys [for WinXP] are additional programs
that developers work on after a product has been released
to manufacturing."


Yeah, right. In their spare time between working on bug fixes
and service packs.


In any event, while Power Toys for XP have been available at
SailCat's, the 'official' version got pulled at Microsoft
while they, um, worked out some kinks. They fixed 'em and
re-released 'em.


There are 10 proggies, now downloadable seperately, but
Tweak UI is the must-have utility of the bunch. Find the
list and link in the WinXP section of Windows Tricks.


Cool! Yet another tip from a visitor; 'wdj' submits this:
"In your Kiosk mode tip, you can hit the Window key + M
to display the taskbar." Thanks 'wdj.' This one's has been
added to the Windows Tricks page.


Check back next Friday for new stuff.



April 26


Hey, freeware fans, I have something sweet for ya this week.

Replacing Neo Trace Express, which had a quaestionable future
(and wasn't nearly as cool anyway), is 3D Traceroute. Check it
out in the Internet section and never touch tracert again.

Also, added to the Windows Tweaks is a tip from Mark M., which
is yet another one that's new to me. It's short so I'll give
it here as well as listing it on the Tweaks page: CTRL+ Z is
an unlimited UNDO in all flavors of Windows.

Hey, that's handy! Thanks, Mark.

Next update will be on May 3rd. See ya then!



April update

There's a cool, new app that monitors what's happening on your
system and looks good while it's doing so. Check out StatBar in
the Freeware Utilities section.

Thanks to all who have Emailed with positive comments on the
new look, as well as the two or three who gave a 'heads up'
to problems.

The website is scheduled for re-coding this weekend. Special
thanks to Gary C.

Look for updates here every Friday.



April 15

Welcome to the new look for the SailCat Graphics website, with
many additional examples of design work from the SCG studios
and even more to come.

The Windows Tweaks, Tips and Tricks section is three times larger and contains extensive information on WinXP.

What about all the free software? There's more than ever, all personally paw-picked by the 'Cat himself.

Alas, with growth there must be change. The free @SailCat.com
Email service is no more. It cost me in too many ways, but thanks to all who used and enjoyed it.

Good news is that all third-party advertising is gone as well.

Updates will be made every Friday and detailed in this space.

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