AllMyApps – The App Store for PC owners.

If there is one word that sums up what people love about computers these days, that word has got to be apps.

Because apps are everywhere and for just about everything, apps for productivity, apps for the office, apps for games, apps for maps, and probably apps for laps, gaps, raps and naps.

But so far it is Apple who are synonymous with the rise of the planets of the apps and it was only a few weeks ago Apple triumphantly announced its 15th Billion app download.

Admittedly most of those have been for iPhones and iPads through the iTunes store, but Apple also launched a very successful dedicated App Store for its Mac computers too.

But if you don’t have a Mac and you ‘just’ own a PC with Microsoft Windows as your operating system, you may have been feeling a bit left out lately, where are all the apps for you?

Well I’ll tell you. They’re all collected on a website called AllMyApps, it’s the closest Windows equivalent of the Apple App Store there is and best of all…practically all of those apps are free.

AllmyApps logoNow of course as an independent website it isn’t quite as slick as iTunes or the Apple App Store but it’s all set out by category, name and icon and just by hovering over an icon a handy little dialog box pops up to tell you all about that App, along with its star rating. Actually that’s a better feature than what the Apple App Store gives you.

And also conveniently it places the most popular apps in any particular category first and foremost, an endorsement from all those before you that those are the Apps you really ought to consider downloading.

Apps like CCLeaner for instance, in the Utilities category, a brilliant way to regularly clean out the crappy unused files on your PC and generally speed it up.

And in Security, there’s the most popular free anti-virus program around in the form of AVG Anti-Virus. If you don’t have Nortons, Kaspersky, Mcafee or the like on your PC, hurry, download it while you still have a computer to use.

In fact whatever the app, if it’s made for Windows this is the perfect one-stop shop to find it, whether you looking for a specific app like Skype or just browsing for a particular task you need fulfilling and you want to see all the options in one place.

To top it off, AllMyApps is also its own app, which automatically collates all your other Apps or Program on your PC, whether downloaded from AllMyApps or not, will alert you whenever they’re updated, and install that update for you.

For yet more features of everything AllMyApps can do they’ve even created a video about it.

So I urge you, do have a look at AllMyApps and you can use the following link, Allmyapps App Store to take you there. It’s worth it just to see all the free goodies that are available for your PC, you don’t necessarily have to download anything now.

Because if this is the age of the app, this is one place you’re bound to enjoy many appy returns to.


Prostopleer – What’s the Russian for free music downloads?

You know what a sure sign of success on the net is, it’s when your name isn’t just a name anymore, it becomes a verb.

And we’ve certainly had that with Spotify when it comes to listening and building up a collection of free streaming music via the web.

It’s been great and still is. But once they realised that building our music libraries while they lost millions every month was not the best business model, things changed a bit. Because now with their free accounts limited to just 10 hours a month, the Spotify music gravytrain may not have come of the rails completely but we’ve definitely lost a carriage or two over the side.

So in that case, what else can we hitch our musical caboose to?

Well, there’s always We7. Not the service it used to be with its unlimited free requests for artists and songs (although you can still have 50 specific requests a month after you register), We7 has changed to an exclusively ‘Radio’ based format. And while I think it’s probably the best at that type of service, it does spoil the goodwill rather with just a few too many adverts.

And then there’s Grooveshark, the biggest free streaming music player available from the States. All request based I’m pleased to say with lots tracks and features although unfortunately there’s still no getting away from the ads. However once you get past a big advert on the front page, for something American it’s not too bad ad wise.

But if you prefer your free music players to be just about playing the free music without the big intrusive images, I have another option for you.

It’s called Prostopleer, it’s Russian and apart from Roman Abramovich’s millions if you’re a Chelsea fan like me, it might just be the best Russian export since Vodka.

Prostopleer logoBecause what you get is a very cool, very minimal but very slick streaming music service that makes it a doddle to search for your favorite songs. And should you take the few seconds necessary to register with Prostopleer you can then drag and drop them into any number of playlists you create. The quality of the music is great and while not everything is on there, I’ve found plenty of tracks that Spotify and We7 don’t have.

Mind you, that might have something to do with the way Prostopleer gets its music, since it allows its users to upload new tracks to it and for that matter download those songs as well….for free.

Now whether you do that is up to you, I’m just saying that it’s a feature over and above its entirely safe music streaming. But I did my due diligence before writing this, ok I Googled for half an hour, and I found no bad reviews for it at all, reviews I could read in English anyway. Look, I’m just trying to cover my arse here.

I will categorically tell you though that I’m using Prostopleer a lot. If you’ve previously focused on Spotify it’s a great unlimited music alternative. And don’t be put off if it displays in its native Russian when first loaded, down the bottom of the page there’s an option to quickly toggle the user friendly English version.

I still don’t know though what Prostopleer itself means, to me it sounds more like a cure for male prostate problems. What I do know is that you should definitely dip your finger in.

Go on, perform your own examination now at the Prostopleer website.

Fences – It’s time to love your Desktop again.

Right then, are you a tidy sort or a messy sort?

Not in life, if you’re the messy sort in real life there’s not much I can do to help, you filthy degenerate. No, I mean your computer life, are you the tidy or messy sort on the Desktop of your PC!

Because if you have let your Desktop get out of control, if it does look like someone picked up your monitor, shook it like a Flatscreen Maraca and now all of your assorted crap is scattered in no discernible order whatsoever, I have just the little application for you.

It’s called Fences and it’s the perfect way to stop being at least a Desktop filthy degenerate.

For just by downloading this ever so useful little utility it can organise your Desktop into nicely styled little boxed areas of folders, of programs, files, and shortcuts and correctly label them as well, automatically!

Fences - Desktop Organiser

(And you needn’t worry if this new found order only confuses you. Because before doing anything Fences will take a snapshot of your Desktop in its original messed up state so with a click of a button you can watch as it reverts every icon back to its previous place in your organised chaos.)

You have manual control too, you can hold right-click to ‘draw’ your own Fences, move them around, change their colour, change their label, resize them, drag icons in and out of them, just about everything you’d want to keep pleasingly customisable order on your desktop.

And for the ultimate cleanaway, with a double-click Fences will also hide every icon on your desktop. So you’ll now be able to view your desktop wallpaper of the Windows logo, abstract lines, sand dunes, poppy fields or even Justin Bieber in all its unobscured glory before another double-click on the desktop brings everything back again.

I won’t pretend Fences is a life changer, it doesn’t pretend that itself. But it is something that serves a very useful purpose in a very efficient manner and it’s a wonder Microsoft don’t build the same sort of thing into Windows from the start.

Because even from just a normal couple of columns of icons on your Desktop, Fences will still arrange things more tidily, make icons easier to find and in a way that will prompt you to keep it like that.

I know, because I am a reformed Desktop filthy degenerate.

And I haven’t mentioned yet that you can get it absolutely FREE, you can download Fences here. (There is a paid version available as well)

So then, to sum up this great little organsiser in one fittingly succinct sentence.

Fences, it’s neat.

Be Funky. The art of photography made simple.

Let me ask you this, have you ever felt like the frustrated artist.

That you know deep down inside you’re just bursting with creativity but the only thing you’ve ever really drawn successfully are the curtains.

Well, let me introduce you to a great little resource by the name of Be Funky, an entirely free browser based application that lets you unleash your inner Banksy by at least turning your photos into works of art.

For this is what it does, and brilliantly easily too. With one click of the mouse you can transform photographs into stencil drawings, cartoons, fine line sketches and dayglo half-tone Warhol paintings amongst many other inbuilt styles and then fine-tune them as well.

And not only that, you can access all sorts of other customisable goodies too, adding frames, speech bubbles, shapes, even a beard and devil horns to a picture of your Mother-in-Law if your creative muse so dictates…assuming she doesn’t possess either already.

Getting started is simple as well, you upload pictures via an elegant little interface and you can even select those images you already have online on social networks accounts like Facebook, My Space or Flickr.

Plus once you’re done, Be Funky is just as slick in allowing you to share your masterpieces, sending the finished results to your desktop, back to those same community accounts or you can just as easily email your work to your soon to be impressed friends.

Plus it does all this without need for registration, although it does only take a minute to create an account and then you’ll be able to save all of your prized creations.

I think Be Funky is terrific, it’s one of those websites which is part serious application, part frivolous fun but wholely ‘just one more go’ compulsive.

But don’t just take my word for it, visit Be Funky and draw your own conclusion.

No puppies were harmed in funking up these photographs

No puppies were harmed in funking up these photographs

OpenWith. The solution to opening any kind of file.

Now then, it’s a fact of computer life that sometimes there are files on our machines that we can’t open.

Someone sends you something with the message, “You Must See This, They’re Enormous!” and you try every program you have but nothing will let you crack into that elusive extension.

So what to do?

Well, one option is to use a file conversion service like Zamzar, something I’ve already written about.

Or perhaps you just find a FREE program that you know is compatible with that filetype and download it, thus making life a lot less frustrating when your annoying but well meaning friend sends you the same kind of file again.

And that’s what a handy utility called OpenWith allows you to do.

OpenWithBecause after a simple and lightweight download of OpenWith itself, (Although a word to the wise, it does come bundled with another download for something called PC MightyMax 2009, so uncheck that option when you see that screen) now if you right click on the offending file, the first option to appear in that contextual menu is the query ‘ How Do I Open This?’

So you click to find out, it’s own little browser like window opens and you’ll be answered by a description of that filetype plus a list of one or more FREE programs that will definitely open it for you, even providing the download links to those programs.

All very easy and convenient but if you’d like some further info before proceeding, simply double click the filetype or program description in that OpenWith window and be transported to its own website where you’ll be able to learn more.

And don’t think OpenWith is only useful for providing a list of programs to open obscure file extensions, you’ll find free sources to open all Microsoft formats as well, along with so many others you may think require the original and expensive programming. Like I say, OpenWith provides the solution to open ANY kind of file.

Actually while I say ANY, it’s more like a disinfectant killing 99% of all known germs, a few filetypes might still be stubbornly resistant but you needn’t worry that yours will be one of them.

There’s really not much more to add, except to say that this great little program has earned 5 star reviews and is certified free from all spyware and malware.

So go to the website by clicking this link, have a look at the easy-to-follow instructions page and decide whether this is something you can use.

But I would say that sooner or later you’ll definitely have a use for OpenWith, that OpenWith stays out of the way until you do need it and that OpenWith is small and safe so don’t muck about, download it while you think of it.

After all, you never know what your friend will send you next.

Spotify. The latest music for free, FREE!

Have you heard, there’s a new player in town.

Because while I’ve already told you about We7 with all its wealth of free music, I’m compelled to tell you there is an equal source for all the latest and greatest tracks and full albums.

It’s called Spotify, and despite a name like an instruction to rub butter into the pores of a pimply teenager, with millions of songs to listen to, it spreads only musical joy.

spotify5And like We7 the music is all free and legal because the Spotify business model is likewise supported by advertising. Although unlike We7 whose adverts are short but frequent, Spotify has fewer ads but they are a more typical radio stylee 30 seconds.

Mind you, if you want to go to the expense of paying a premium service of 99p a day or £9.99 for a month you can turn those adverts off, although there’s no real need to. Unless of course you’re up for a night of seduction and rather not risk an awkwardly timed condom ad interupting that ‘Luurve’ playlist you prepared.

But anyway, one main difference between the two is that while We7 is a web browser based streaming service, Spotify is a downloaded application to your computer hard drive. It is quick and simple though, only requires filling in a short registration and is a tiny 1.45MB download size.

That’s because the actual tracks are not downloaded, they just play in the Spotify interface. This is free music remember, it’s not iTunes, you do need to be connected to the internet to access them and you can’t add any to your mp3 player, even if the interface itself will remind you of iTunes.

For the clean looks and minimalist controls make searching and playing a doddle and it’s easy to create your own playlists with the drag and drop functionality.

Plus when you are searching for a popular artist or song you’ll be wide eyed with its amount of results. Spotify will return your enquiry for the artists own albums, compilation albums, soundtrack albums, the lot, everything short of their kiddy photo album.

And while I could explain more, I’ll leave those discoveries to you. I will just add that Spotify is another fantastic free music source you’d be crazy not to take advantage of, and you can download it by clicking this link

So go on, get Spotify, spotifying and spotified, and I don’t mean with a knob of Lurpak.

(*Hi again folks. It’s November 2009 and clearly Spotify isn’t the little known application I spoke of 6 months ago, it’s become the Daddy of ALL the free music sites.

It’s moved on as well, new features include the option to buy the tracks and an improved Premium service that now provides iPhone integration,  access to your music off-line and apparently even better sound quality as well.

Myself, I’m still happy with the quality of the free stuff.)

Google Alerts. How Clive Owen made me a very happy man.

It’s a funny thing this blogging lark.

I toil away with every post, beads of creative perspiration dotted on my brow each time as I try to educate and amuse in equal measure and I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been lucky if I got 10 people a week come visit me.

But that’s ok, there’s a million Blogs out there and why should I think mine deserves any special attention, even if it clearly should.

Something happened with my last post though, something that suddenly sent my hits through the roof, well, the roof of a modest bungalow anyway.

And the thing that did it, the sole reason that propelled my visitors roofwards was all down to one happy accident…I mentioned Clive Owen.

Clive Owen, famous British actor and handsome bugger.

Now I like Mr Owen, he isn’t my type but when I needed a name to illustrate a point about someone appealing to women he obviously fitted the bill. Plus it was somehow funnier and not much longer to type than Brad Pitt.

And at the time I didn’t give it another thought it but I obviously underestimated how much our Clive does appeal to the ladies. Because within hours I could see that my hits had mysteriously shot up, and with the marvelous background wizardry they include with these Blogs I could even pinpoint the source.

That source being a Clive Owen fansite. A site that had somehow found my Top 10 Reasons You Need a New Web Designer post, saw Reason No. 4 which name-checked the man, liked it, borrowed it for themselves, but since they enjoyed the rest of the list did the nice thing of linking back to me as the author.

Now given that extra visitors are exactly what I need, and that this was the first other site to link to mine, I was very happy for the recognition.

But it did beg the question, how the hell did they find me in the first place, and so quickly?

Well, I discovered that like a lot of things on the web it came courtesy of Google, but not in the usual search engine way, oh no, and this is where I do get to my point dear reader, it was actually because of a entirely new and different kind of service called Google Alerts.

A kind of pre-ordering your favorite search terms by telling Google just the once about a topic of interest and then relaxing as they keep the results coming back to you with daily, weekly or ‘as it happens’ updates via email.

And it’s easy done, just fill in a simple 4 part form field, and from then on, any reference of Clive Owen for instance will come to you rather than you going to it. Plus you can have any number of different Google Alerts stacked up and sent to you.

As an example, I’ve now asked Google Alerts to let me know whenever there’s a mention of my web design company or this Blog. Or you might use it to receive news of your favorite Football team, or to find particular job vacancies in your area, or just like my new friend Lessy37 at Clive Owen_Daily follow every new reference of your favorite film star.

And when you think she found me by the merest mention of Clive Owen, that’s some powerful searching that Google Alerts is doing on your behalf, how long would it take on a regular Google search to find that?

But to find out out how efficient it could be for you as well, just click this link to Google Alerts.

Anyway, my thanks goes to Lessy, all the visitors from her fansite who followed that link back to me, the other Clive Owen sites who found me from Lessy finding me, and for her alerting me to Google Alerts.

Now all I need, since I also mentioned Spider-Man and Harry Potter in that Top 10 list, is for Marvel Comics and Hogwarts to link to me too.

Google Maps, all that’s missing now is a teleporter.

Have you seen Google Maps yet?

No, I know you’ve seen it, but have you seen it since it’s all changed?

Since they have added Street View, Videos, Photographs and even frickin’ Wikipedia entries!!!

It seems that gone are the days when maps were just a source of directions, now you need to feel you’ve already been to a place before you ever have.

Anyway, I’m not going to tell you how to negotiate Google Maps, you must know how to do get basic directions but to access all the funky new features you do need to click the ‘More’ button and check the boxes for Video, Photos and Wikipedia. And next to it there’s even a button to view live traffic updates or anticipated road congestion in that area as well.

Not that you’ll be able to even see your route anymore for all the tiny photo thumbnails, video screen icons and the Wikipedia logo covering the whole screen now, but they are easily toggled off from the same menu.

But the startling new feature is Street View, that is if you’re viewing one of the 25 cities in the UK that the Google camera van has so far trundled through, which allows you to swoop down for a 360 degree virtual tour of your location.

And you implement that uncannily enough whenever you see a Street View link or whenever the ‘zoomy-in-and-out-bar-thingee’, that’s the proper technical term, has a little yellow man displayed which you can drag to the part of the map you want to view in all it’s panoramic glory.

Then it’s just a matter of moving forward or back using the onscreen arrows, clicking and dragging the image to move the view around or doing the same with it’s circular navigational tool. But however you use it, you will surely be impressed with how seamlessly and quickly it responds.

Truly, Google Maps with it’s new features is an amazing use of technology particularly as the web becomes increasing mobile. It can be your means of orientation and your informative tour guide. And as it rolls out across the World you can check out an area to see if it’s worth visiting at all.

But I think the Street View will be used just as much as a nostalgic retro sightseeing device after you’ve already been somewhere. For instance, I’ve just enjoyed a weekend in London and I’ve been wandering down Memory Lane by clicking down Drury Lane.

Hold on though, when you think about it, that means using an application even when you don’t need it and you’ll be going from A to B via G even when you’re not leaving A. OMG!

Now can someone direct me to a psychiatrist, I think I just blew my mind.

Twitter. Who cares?

This post is a little different folks.

You see normally I will regale you with something I use, have researched and that I’m enthusiastic that you should know about.

But this time I was going to write about something that I hadn’t used before, didn’t know much about except that it’s booming in popularity…but that my ignorance was not going to prevent me ripping the absolute piss out of it.

And that something is called Twitter.

You’ve probably heard of it by now, partly due to Stephen Fry describing being stuck in a lift on it but essentially Twitter is a web based service which allows you to post short messages even by mobile phone on its website. These messages are called Tweets and they are a maximum of 140 characters.

But the lofty reason to post these message at all is to tell people what just happened in your life and in turn you can follow the posts of other people who tell you what just happened in their life as well.

twitterTranslation: it’s a glorified bloody text message to the whole World that you just stubbed your toe or that tube of Pringles didn’t last long.

Because that’s our life, little events of no consequence except to us. We live it, we endure it, we may even enjoy it but who the frig else needs to know. And who’s sad enough to want to know it was actually the little toe on the right foot that got stubbed.

Forget celebrities, I know they have bowel movements too, I don’t need to know how often thank you. Frankly there’s only two people I might want to know the daily lives of and that’s Barack Obama and Hugh Hefner.

Actually make that one person. The Hef, that lucky, lucky wrinkled old bugger. What other Octogenarian in history can be the cause of so much penis envy.

But anyway, back to my Twitter witter, there I was with all of my disdain mapped out, I just needed a little extra research to direct my scorn with total authority.

Which God help me, meant signing up for Twitter myself.

And I did, and it was quite simple, and then there was this neat interface with engaging little pictures and oh, you can customize it and the writing was all friendly…and…and…holy crap on a stick, I was one of them now

Because once I saw for myself what it was all about, and could dispel my grumpy notions that it had no merit at all, I realized that it might be me who needs to get a life.

If Britney Spears thinks something is awesome and someone wants to read it then why should I care if she is using Twitter to do it. And aren’t I doing the same thing really with this blog except I’m praying that I’m not just doing all of this for myself.

Yes, most of Twitter really is an irrelevance, but you get to choose exactly whose irrelevance to follow and I don’t mind saying the next time Stephen Fry gets stuck in a lift I will be amongst the first to know.

And for that matter if I ever got stuck in a lift (it’s too much to hope to be in the same one as Mr Fry) people could follow my personal drama because I’m on Twitter now.

So I’ve hauled my opinion around. My instinctive bias of Twitter and its users was wrong and my carefully honed preparatory dismissals have been ripped up.

But still, nobody needs Twitter and by all means you can discount it with all the glee previously shared by myself, although if you are curious about it I include this link to my page and you can explore it from there.

Because apart from use in an unlucky run of elevator emergencies I have a new platform to promote this blog and a fresh place for my more random scribblings. And with a maximum of only 140 characters on Twitter it’ll be a lot bloody quicker to type as well.

It’s disappointing to find out that Hugh Hefner isn’t on it though.

Zamzar. File conversion that converts frustration too.

Right, I’ll be the first to say that this won’t be something you need to use all the time but you’ll be very pleased to know about it when required.

Because we’ve all been faced with the problem of being sent a file or an attachment that you have no means to open on your computer.

You were expecting a document with the file type  of .doc but this one might as well be .cotton for all it’s non compatibility with any of the applications on your machine.

Or maybe it’s you with the non typical program so that you need some way of converting those files before sending them yourself.

Well whatever the cause of the problem, there is a way to solve it without anybody having to blush about it afterwards

It’s a rather nifty free service called Zamzar that’s extremely clever but can be simply described. It can convert nearly all the normal computer files into any other one of it’s type.

Or to put it another way, it will covert a one kind of document into another kind of document, an audio file into another, a video file into another or an image format into…well you get the message.

The Zamzar Interface

But I called Zamzar a service because it’s not a program you need to download to your computer.

Rather it’s a web based operation, you just simply just go to the Zamzar website and upload your file. And then once the Zamzar pixies have converted it to your new file type you’ll receive an emailed notification with a link you click on to download it.

Or since you can do really smart stuff like convert YouTube videos to put on your Ipod, just point Zamzar to the correct URL address and it does the same job.

But maybe a more practical example of its usefulness, and one I’ve used myself, is that you can convert a .pdf which shouldn’t be editable, into a Word document so that you can edit it and then just reconvert it back again.

A word to the wise though, Zamzar is exactly what you need sometimes but it needn’t be exactly quick doing it, occasionally it’s taken an hour for those pixies to return a converted file for me.

Nevertheless, as something that’s free and the best of it’s type that I know of, Zamzar can be indispensable.

So go and have a look at it by clicking this link, and view all the conversion possibilities yourself, even if the chances are you won’t recognize or ever need to convert most of them.

But I’m telling you, Zamzar is just what the .doc ordered for when you do.

Dropbox. Sharing files between computers the easy way.

This time I want to talk about a fantastic web application for anybody who, like me, has to work between multiple computers. And even if you don’t, you’ll still find it useful so keep reading.

It’s a FREE application called Dropbox, I use it practically every single day and I’m telling you right now, it’s a total bloody Godsend.

Because the problem with using different computers is sharing the files you create between them, a headache made into a thumping migraine if they are in different locations as well.

The typical answer is to transfer files to a USB memory stick and cart it to the next computer.

The DropBox Web Interface

My Dropbox Web Interface

But the beauty of Dropbox is that it does the same thing a lot easier, in effect it’s a virtual memory stick but with bells on.

Think of it like one normal folder that you share between multiple computers, wherever they are, and have easy access to any of its files.

And thinking bigger still, if you work as part of a team, one that your colleagues can use and contribute to as well.

The simplest way to explain Dropbox is to tell you how it works for me, someone who uses 3 computers, a PC, a Mac and a laptap.

For each I’ve included the free Dropbox software which allows an initial but still generous 2GB’s of storage on their free account. (You can upgrade for more if you wish, but you have to pay)

Now to share anything I create on one machine, I just open the Dropbox folder using it’s own smart little icon in the toolbar, and drag and drop the file.

Then the new file inside Dropbox simply gets synchronized to the other computers linked to my account, with success being indicated by a reassuring big green tick.

After which when I use one of my other computers, I just open the Dropbox folder on that machine and voila, there’s my new file.

And it’s a transfer process that easily beats the time it takes to move files to a memory stick because it only includes new additions.

For instance if you’ve updated a file Dropbox already recognises then it only updates those changes, the new complete file is there but you can even go back and access any previous versions as well.

You do this from the separate associated web application to Dropbox, which you don’t have to use but is easily accessed and displayed in a simple interface.

And that’s the thing, the nice folks behind Dropbox have created it to be as worry free and as simple as possible.

It’s actually easier to use than to explain.

There’s a sampler video you can watch on their website that does a good job though.

To see it and get this great application for yourself, use this referral link to go to the Dropbox website. If you do, I get an extra 250mb of space automatically added to my account…and more to the point for you, you do as well. In fact by referring various friends to Dropbox, you can earn up to an extra 6GB’s of space.

But all that aside, even if you don’t use multiple computers, just think of Dropbox as a secure and remote backup for all your most important files. A free virtual USB memory stick that you can’t lose.

Perhaps I should tell the Civil Service.