Monday, October 31, 2011

Get Multiple Translations Fast with QTranslate

Get Multiple Translations Fast with QTranslate:

With the advent of the Internet, it’s become common for people that speak different languages to converse on a regular basis, either for business or pleasure. Personally, I communicate with three different people that speak a language other than English on a regular basis. This means I am almost always on the lookout for better translation tools. QTranslate is a freeware program that let’s you search multiple different translation sites at one time, gather the results, and compare them to see which one is best.

Anyone who has used more than one site like BabelFish or Google Translate knows that for every site you submit a translation question to, you’ll get a different answer as to what the proper translation is or should be. For me, that means bouncing around from site to site for at least a few minutes before I have an idea and general consensus of the right translation, or even something close to it. With QTranslate, this becomes infinitely easier. You can translate anything from emails to webpages or text files of almost any file format.

Created by QuestSoft, the program offers two different versions to install. First, the ‘normal’ version, and also a ‘portable’ version. The difference is that the portable version will store all the relevant information for the program’s settings within the program folder itself, rather than in the usual /User/ folders. This is a nice nod from the developers to the laptop and netbook users of the program, and since those are possibly most likely to need a program like this, it makes sense.

Upon running the program, you’re offered a small window that features two main sections. The top section immediately shows some helpful hotkey information for the program and the bottom section is blank, awaiting input of the word or phrase you want to translate. Additionally, there are two drop down windows for auto-detecting or specifying what languages you want to translate to and from. For example, if you’re translating a phrase from English to Russian, you’d select English in the left box and Russian in the right box. The auto-detect feature is nice for when you have a copied block of text from a language that you don’t recognize or can’t positively identify. I found it to be fairly accurate most of the time.

In the bottom of the input section is a little button that looks like headphones and clicking on it will have the program read the text in the section aloud. This function requires that you have the proper TTS, or Text To Speech, package installed on Windows. Below that section is a listing of the different sites that QTranslate uses. You can either click the generic “translate” button in the middle of the window, which will translate the given text using the most recent site you’ve selected, or you can click one of the specific site buttons to switch to a different one. There’s even a virtual keyboard built in and it keeps a history of what you’ve recently translated, for handy repeat reference. It has a built in spell checker, an auto-complete feature that suggests finished words while you type, and a handy ‘help’ button that re-displays the hints in the top section any time you need them.

Now, all of that is the main window. The program is meant to be used with websites and any other program that allows text selection. The most handy function of the program is that once it is running, you can select any line or block of text, and press the hotkey combo of Ctrl+Q to instantly translate that text using the current settings of the main window. The program supports the following translation services and any of the languages those services can handle. That’s nearly everything out there from Albanian to Yiddish and all the stuff between.

  • Google Translate (;

  • Microsoft Translator (Microsoft;

  • Prompt Mobile (;

  • SDL (;

  • Yahoo! Babel Fish (

This essentially turns your computer into the next best thing to a universal translation device. You’ll be able to translate almost any text in the blink of an eye, and you can now impress all kinds of people with your worldly skills in communication. A mobile app would be nice, but nothing has been announced in regards to developing one in the future as yet.

Until next time, my friends!

Compatibility: Windows 7/Vista/XP/2008 Server/2003 Server operating systems. Version 2.3.1 Tested on Windows 32-Bit Home Premium and Chrome (5.0+)

Available here (approx 331K).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lord of Ultima Tutorial – Starter Gameplay Guide (Tips, Tricks, Strategy, Statistics)

This article is intended to teach you how best to start your game in Lord of Ultima-as with any game there are certain ideal ways to play for maximum efficiency. If you are able to outpace the players around you at the start of the game, you will have a huge advantage and can begin to take over the area.

Why should you listen to me?

Not only have I done (and continue to do) research, but I have a large alliance who shares their secrets and strategies with me. We often discuss specific game engine concepts to calculate the maximum efficient way to progress in the game. Basically, we do the work and you reap the benefits! Furthermore, myself and my alliance have past experience in a number of games, specifically browser based games like Tribal Wars (, The West, Lunar Wars, and others. In Tribal Wars, which is very much like Lord of Ultima, I reached the #1 rank in kills for the World and was in the top 10 overall points rank. This is not to brag, just to share that I take these games seriously (perhaps too much so), so readers will believe that this is credible information.
If you find you have a question that is not covered in this article, here are two useful resources:

Beginner Concepts

  • Join a large alliance of active people near you geographically. Their support will be invaluable.
  • You have a 7 day grace period where you cannot be attacked. Utilize this by focusing on resource-building early on.


Resources like the Woodcutter’s Hut receive increased production by being connected to any of 3 different things. Note that diagonal DOES count as being connected! A maximum of 8 squares can affect each square, but squares at the border walls of your won’t get the full number.
  1. Resource fields – Forest, Stones, Iron Mines, Lakes, Farmland (empty grassland)
  2. Manpower – Cottage
  3. Processing – Sawmill, Stonemason, Foundry
Be sure to consider how best to use the bonuses provided by adjacent squares. For example, you should find a heavy collection of forests or stones in at least a couple places. There should be 1 or 2 squares which are touching 5-6 of the resource, be sure to build the correct production building at those squares.
Note that you CAN destroy resource fields, but you should almost never do this at the beginning of a game. When your city is nearly fully upgraded and your are completely out of room you may consider it then.

Step By Step Walkthrough Guide:

Day 1:

  • Build your maximum amount of lvl 1 production facilities of woodcutter’s huts and quarries. Wood and stone are your primary resources needed for building up your buildings. Be sure to maximize placement next to resource fields like stones and forests for huge bonuses.
  • Upgrade your town Hall a few levels (aim for lvl 4 or so) to increase your maximum building cap.
  • At squares connected to 3, 4, 5, or 6 resource fields, begin upgrading the woodcutter’s huts and quarries to level 2, 3, and possibly 4.
  • Depending on how often you will log in, build up to 2 warehouses (upgrade a little if necessary) so your resource capacity will not be reached before the next time you log in. Note that upgrading your Town Hall also increases your resource capacity considerably.
  • Be sure to visit the “Quests” tab, there are some quests that will be easily completed that give you extra bonuses.
  • Build 1-2 Iron mines at the best locations, no more.

Day 2:

  • Upgrade your Town Hall 1 or 2 levels with the resources you have saved up
  • Build a single farm, barracks, training ground. Start recruiting up to about 100 berserkers if you plan to play fairly often (multiple times a day). You can get a nice resource bonus by raiding dungeons with them. If you only plan to play once every 1-2 days, do not bother with army units yet.
  • Be sure to keep building resource buildings. Again focus only on stone and wood at this point. You should always be at your maximum building cap; lvl 1 buildings are cheap and fast to build.
  • Upgrade most, if not all, of your lvl 1 Woodcutter’s Huts and Quarries to lvl 2, and the best situated to lvl 3.
  • If you have any super-great spots, with 4-6 forests/stones touching them, upgrade those further to level 4.
  • By the end of day 2 your Town Hall should be about level 6. If you plan to raid, your barracks should be level 4-5 and you should have about 50 – 75 berserkers. You should have a ton of lvl 2 quarries and lvl 2 woodcutter’s huts, and a few at level 3, maybe 4. Your income should be around 2000 wood/h and 1500 stone/h
  • Raiding: send 10-20 berserkers (more gives diminishing returns) to nearby dungeons to gather extra resources. Do this whenever you can, a raid should take any where from 1 to 3 hours round trip. Unless you upgrade, you’ll only be able to send out 5 waves at a time, which is okay for now.

Day 3:

  • Upgrade all of your lvl 2 resources to lvl 3 immediately, if they aren’t there already.
  • Keep enough resources to then upgrade your Town Hall to lvl 7 (requires 15,000 wood and 10,000 stone). This will take about 5 hours.
  • Build more lvl 3 production (wood and stone) everywhere possible, up to your maximum building count.
  • Start building cottages in ideal locations (4+), upgrade them to level 4-5 max, otherwise it is too expensive for now.
  • Start placing Sawmills or Stonemasons  when you are able to build these (requires Town Hall 7 – o r 8?). Place them so they touch the corresponding resource production places. For now you’ll want about 2 of each, but a few more later.
  • Before you stop playing for the day, upgrade your Town Hall to level 7 or 8.

Day 4:

  • You should have the maximum buildings built always. You get 10 for every level of Town Hall. At this point, most should be woodcutter’s huts or quarries (roughly 4 WC to 3 quarry ratio). All of your WC and quarries should be at least lvl 3, many level 4, and ideal location ones at level 5.
  • Continue to send out raids to close dungeons if you have time. 5 waves of 20 berserkers should be fine for lvl 1 dungeons.
  • Start utilizing cottages to increase your construction speed, aim for at least 200-300% construction speed around this time.
  • You should be hitting 4500+/hr wood and 3500+/hr stone at this point.
  • Don’t bother building other buildings right now. No Trinsic Temple, Castle, Marketplace, Towers, Moonglow Tower, etc. They won’t be of use until after your 7 day grace period is up.
  • Upgrade to Town Hall lvl 9 overnight. This should take around 10 hours with the cottage bonus.

Day 5:

  • Build up to your maximum limit of buildings again. Look around you on the region map to see if there are any lvl 3 dungeons within 2-4 hours travel time. If so, you will probably want to recruit more berserkers — 200+ total. This will require upgrading the barracks or building another barracks. Keep sending berserkers out to these lvl 3 dungeons, the rewards begin to be worth it at this point.
  • Again have all your resource buildings at lvl 3 at least, and start upgrading to lvl 4.
  • Start utilizing cottages more to increase construction time (now that almost everything will take 2+ hours otherwise). Upgrade a bunch of cottages to about lvl 6 or 7 for now for a good bonus without spending too much time or resources. Note that a cottage built anywhere gives a construction speed bonus for everything, not just the surrounding squares. However, cottages act like forests to boost resource production, so place them so woodcutter’s huts and quarries will benefit. You can see your overall construction speed bonus in your building queue. Aim for at least 400% or so for now, maybe more.
  • You should aim to have lvl 4 resource buildings by the end of the day
  • Start upgrading a Moonglow tower, go for lvl 5 or so today
  • Upgrade Town Hall to lvl 10 at the end of the day if possible, otherwise on the next day.

Day 6:

  • By now you’ll want to be looking at having well over 500% construction speed (ideally 600-700%, possibly more). Be sure to place the cottages so they border and boost resource production. Try to find a sweet spot where you are able to build fast enough to constantly spend your resources.
  • Begin to build some iron mines (you should have only needed 1 until now). Iron is needed to build up your armies.
  • Start building and upgrading barracks.
  • Continue upgrading your Moonglow tower (requires lvl 10 to get a baron).
  • Be sure to upgrade to Town Hall lvl 10 today.
  • Continue raiding whenever possible. Again, depending on how often you play, close dungeons can be ideal.

Day 7:

  • Your last day of protection. Use today to build up defenses so you don’t become an easy target.
  • Important defenses: Towers and Traps (can easily and cheaply cut invading army strength in half and boost the defense of your own troops).
  • Defense Troops – city guards are cheap and recruit very quickly, but are fairly weak. You will want defense of all kinds: infantry, cavalry, magic, artillery. The tooltips of units in the recruit tab will tell you the defense power of each unit to each type. Generally, you will want a lot of infantry and cavalry defense and a much lesser amount of magic and artillery defense.
  • Wall upgrades – fairly cheap way to raise defense % of your entire army.
  • Continue upgrading your moonglow tower, aim to be able to make a baron in 2-3 days to start a new city.
  • Here is where you will really want to start building a ton of cottages and maxing them out. When you have a high construction speed (1000%+) you can even start destroying resources to create an ideal resource layout. See below for cottage layout.
  • The ideal building layout for resources: in the center section of your town create vertical lines. On the left, start with a vertical line of woodcutter’s huts. Next make a vertical line of cottages, then repeat this pattern all the way across your center section. Then go back to your first line of cottages on the left and create a sawmill at the top and the bottom of the vertical line. Then go to your next vertical line of cottages and create a sawmill directly to the left of your Town Hall. You’ll note this connects almost all of your woodcutter’s huts to a sawmill. Repeat this pattern again for the right half of the inner city section. You can swap the 6-square sections around a sawmill with the correct buildings for stone or iron, etc. This appears to be close to the best, if not the best layout for maximum income.
  • See the below picture for an example, for your first town I would suggest only using the center section for resources then the spare building placements for troops/barracks stuff.
  • Offense: Crossbowmen and Paladins are fast and carry a lot of loot so are ideal for plundering if you will be playing often. Berserkers are cheap and fast to make and will likely be the backbone of your army. Be sure to scout before attacking, use “plunder” unless you actually want to take over a town, and be careful not to piss off any big alliances!
Ideal building placement for resources
More to come! Lord of Ultima is currently in an open beta mode and is free to play. As a comparison, it is similar in a way to the Civilization game series, but is less intensive and can be played for only minutes a day from any internet browser. Sign up to play at

If you have any tips or comments you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section below!


You can build a total of 24 towers. 16 in the outer ring, 8 in the inner ring. The game wiki’s and forums do a good job explaining the towers.

Resource City Recommendations

  • 1 lookout tower
  • 23 ballista towers
  • no barracks or military buildings, instead make 30-50K city guard
  • up to 57.5K city guards will get a 2.5x bonus.

Military City Recommendations

  • 1 lookout tower
  • 9 camouflage trap towers
  • 14 ballista towers
  • Also make 50K city guards
  • up to 35K city guards will get a 2.5x bonus.

Variations & Reasoning

  • When you first start, towers are cheap. If you are new to the game, build any you want to match your troops and/or the peeps attacking you. Don’t build above level 5, so you can tear em down later with minimal pain. Later in the game, things change quite a bit and towers are not as useful as you may think.
  • Templar, Ranger, and Guardian towers can house 2000 city guards, while Ballista towers can house 2500. Ballista are best for guards.
  • Resource cities: If you build 3 military buildings [2 barracks, 1 training ground], you can make 2000 guardians and enough to fit in 1 guardian tower. I used to do this for every resource city. However, if you just make another 2K city guard or so and have ballista towers instead, you’re almost even AND you have 3 more building spaces to use for something else. Think of having 3 more warehouses or trading posts … life is much easier. Also with tons of city guards, you’ll need those spots to make another farm or two.
  • Military Cities: The pitfall, barricade, arcane, and camouflage traps at level 10 will prevent 1,000 troops of each type, up to a max of 50% from attacking you. Pure military cities of infantry can make 150K-200K troops and cavalry 75K-100K. 4 towers of each won’t make much of a difference. If you made all 24 towers barricades, they could just send infantry instead. The one big difference is artillery. Ram/Catapult military cities can make 15K-20K units, so 9-10 of these towers will get close to 50% and make a huge difference.
  • City Guards eat very little, and having 23 ballista towers and full walls gives a 2.5x bonus for up to 57.5K guards. This makes 50K guards look like 125K and they are a formidable force. Even better, you don’t have to build tons of barracks to recruit them, just 1 guard house. You may wish to make 2 or 3 to increase your recruit times so you can recover quickly after an attack.
  • In most all cases, you can build just a few more city guards and you’ll be up to the same defense as dedicated military.

You can join Lord of Ultima Here

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Linux Live USB Creator: install Linux on a bootable USB, or run it from within Windows itself

Linux Live USB Creator: install Linux on a bootable USB, or run it from within Windows itself:

Linux Live USB CreatorRunning Linux in Windows from a USB
Linux Live USB Creator is a free, open source program that installs any .ISO file to a bootable USB drive. It offers built in support for a large number of Live CD tools, including a wide range of Linux distros (200+) and a wide variety of other OS’s and other tools. It will even optionally download your desired LiveCD for you on-the-fly to ensure the latest versions.

Linux Live USB Creator supports ‘persistence’, an option whereby users can save modifications and data on the USB after reboot, allowing for a true computer-on-a-stick experience. But what sets this software apart from others, such as previously mentioned UNetbootin, is (a) it’s remarkable speed, and (b) virtualization, whereby Linux Live USB Creator will create a virtual Linux that can be run from the USB within Windows without rebooting. To do this it will download and use the latest version of Virtualbox, without any user involvement whatever.

Here are some PROS and CONS:


  • Fast:in terms of speed, it leaves UNetbootin (which I have used extensively) in the dust.

  • Wide range of supported Linux distros: almost any that you could think of, including Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, OpenSUSE, Mint, Slax, CentOS, ArchLinux, Gentoo, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon, BackTrack, Puppy Linux, Mandriva, and many others. Many other tools are supported, such as Gparted, Ophcrack, Parted Magic, etc.

  • Burn almost any ISO to bootable USB: including Windows (but apparently excluding Windows XP and MacOS ISO’s).

  • Persistence: i.e. the ability to save your data on the USB, is supported in approximately half the supported distros. Although you cannot update core files or install drivers, you can install software, create files and folders, and even install Linux on your PC’s hard drive (from you USB key).

  • Virualization: will create a virtual Linux on that can be run from within Windows, in a single click. Simply run Virtualize_This_Key.exe from within the VirtualBox folder on your USB key. To do this it will auto-download Virtualbox in the background, without bothering you with the details (see screenshot on top right).

  • Portable version: available, which can work with a portable version of Virtualbox as well.


  • Cannot create a dual bootable USB: for that, you will need to use a tool such as Xboot

  • Persistence problems: (a) only works with some distros, and can be confusing which ones (here’s the list; click on the letters of the alphabet); (b) is currently not working with Virtualization in Windows 7 and Vista, and (c) whether or not the ISO you are about to burn supports persistence is not very clear in the interface (it will read something like ‘built in Persistency’ rather than Live CD.

  • Finding Virtualbox: it would be nice if the program would let you point to a Virtualbox installer that you might have on the hard drive instead of auto downloading it, or even if it would autodetect whether or not you have it installed and use those files directly.

  • No full support for IMG files: these do not support persistence or virtualization, but are burned as is.

The verdict: simply an excellent piece of software. If you’re into Linux it is a must have, but even if you aren’t this software can make a bootable USB out of any .ISO disk image, and do so in remarkable speed.

But what I really like is Linux Live USB Creator’s ability to produce a virtual Linux machine that can be run via booting the USB or virtualized from within Windows itself. Very cool.

Version tested: 2.8.5

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx. 4.5 megs).

Access favorite applications and URLs right from Windows’ context menu with Context Menu Editor

Access favorite applications and URLs right from Windows’ context menu with Context Menu Editor:

Context Menu Editor Screenshot1Context Menu Editor Screenshot2
Have you ever wished you could access a favorite program or website right from the right click context menu on your desktop ? Well now you can with the Context Menu Editor, a handy little freeware tool for Windows 7 and Vista that allows you, as administrator, to make changes to the options that appear when you right-click on the desktop in Windows.

It allows you to change what options appear in that menu including web links and application (.exe) files or even specific commands. You could even set it such that your custom items only appear when you hold SHIFT while you access the right click context menu.

This program essentially creates a shortcut to the specified program or website or Windows command within the right-click menu on your Windows desktop and within Windows explorer. For example, if you are constantly opening a particular game .exe with specific command parameters like ‘/console’ or ‘/godmode’, you could create a link to that program with those command parameters that will appear when you right-click on the desktop or any other ‘blank’ space in Windows. You can define a particular icon for each new menu option, and can even set an ‘extended’ mode that will prevent the option from showing unless you hold the SHIFT key when you open the context menu. This is a handy option for those folks that add a whole lot of new menu options but don’t need to see them every single time we open the context menu.

The program is pretty basic. Once you create your new menu options, the program keeps a list of them for you and you can delete each of them with a single click if you like. This is a nice option to avoid having to open and edit the registry directly when you want to remove a particular menu option. The program functions by editing the Windows registry so it is, as always, recommended that you create and store a backup of the registry before you decide to start changing it. Alternatively, or even in addition, you might consider creating a restore point for your computer before making any changes with this or any other program. Also, the program has an ‘information’ tab, which shows handy info about your computer like the WinSAT score, CPU specs and other basic info about your operating system. The program requires that you run it as Administrator, since it messes with the registry, and is compatible with both 32 and 64-bit Windows.

The program’s simplicity is both a pro, and a con from my point of view. It doesn’t offer much in the way of customization, support (provided as-is, according to the readme file), or documentation. Fortunately, its simplicity also means that it’s pretty easy to figure out how to use it in just a few minutes. Once you’ve gotten the hang of creating new menu options, you’ll be adding them like crazy and soon you’ll need to decide what options are most important and keep them at the top of the list. Some suggested uses of the program include: Creating shortcuts for games with specific console or cheat code functions enabled, creating shortcuts to open word processors with specific formatting commands enabled, opening specific web pages that you reference often. The uses are pretty specific but almost unlimited within the basic concept of the context menu and what it can contain.

Have you got a great use for it that isn’t listed here? Post it in comments so others can benefit from your suggestion! Until next time, my friends!

Compatibility: Windows 7, Vista, 32 bit and 64 bit.

Available here.

Twelve must have free add-ons for Outlook (part 1)

Twelve must have free add-ons for Outlook (part 1):

Must Have Outlook Extensions p1
If you use Outlook you have reason to rejoice, because there is a wide range of free add-ons that greatly enhance Outlook’s functionality and add considerably to it’s user experience.

This post will cover twelve must have-Outlook addons; Subtextual, HarmonyGoogle, Gpg4Win, CodeTwo Attach Unblocker, Attachment Explorer, AutoArchive Now, FBLook, InboxEX, OfficeIns, Sender’s Time Zone, NK2Edit, PSTTools for Microsoft Outlook, Reply All with Attachments, and CodeTwo Attach Unblocker.

See the list below for quick descriptions of each. Oh, and we strongly recommend that you only install the add-ons that you need so as not to overburden Outlook. Also note that we were able to test these with Outlook 2007; you can check each mini review for more info on compatibility with other versions of Outlook.

Here’s the list:

  1. Subtextual: send recipient-specific information on a multi-recipient email

  2. HarmonyGoogle: integrate Google Documents with Outlook

  3. Gpg4win: set-it-and-forget-it email encryption

  4. Attachment Explorer: browse your email attachments explorer-style, in one place

  5. AutoArchive Now: on the fly email archiving via right click

  6. FBLook: add Facebook integration to Outlook

  7. InboxEx: quick Outlook task and meeting scheduling, with Google Calendar integration

  8. OfficeIns: quickly disable/enable Outlook and Office add-ons

  9. NK2Edit: edit Outlook autocomplete email lists

  10. PSTTools for Microsoft Outlook: dedupe Outlook emails and combine PST email archives

  11. Reply All with Attachments: includes attachments in ‘reply’ and ‘reply all’

  12. CodeTwo Attach Unblocker: access attachments typically blocked by Outlook

Note: list edited 10/19/2011; removed Sender’s Time Zone, which was not free, and added NK2Edit.

bccthis1. Subtextual: send recipient-specific information on a multi-recipient email

We all have to send emails with multiple people being replied-to, whether in the “To” field, “CC”, or “BCC”. What this free plugin for Outlook allows you to do is add additional information to be seen only by selected individuals on the email.Subtextual provides an extra window to be used for adding separate messages (or attachment) that are specifically targeted to each individual (see screenshot). Subtextual can also be used to set up follow up reminders.

Note on installing: there are Free and Pro (paid) versions. The free version is somewhat misleadingly labelled ‘trial’, while the latter is ‘Free with Trialpay’, which is not what we mean when we say free here at Freewaregenius. Download and install the so-called ‘trial’ version; it is in fact the full free version and does not expire.

Guaranteed to work on: Outlook 2007, 2010

harmonygoogle2. HarmonyGoogle: integrate Google Documents with Outlook

HarmonyGoogle is a must have free Outlook plugin if you work with Google Documents. It connects to your Google Documents account and installs a sidebar within Outlook that gives full-feature access to your Google Documents, including editing, sharing, moving, starring, renaming, etc. It will even let you search documents, with results appearing as-you-type.

This plugin will also conveniently let you share Google Documents with contacts from either your Outlook or your Gmail contacts lists, which is very cool. Moreover, when you attach a document to your email it will instantly suggest that you upload it to Google Docs and send a link instead. Overall, a fantastic plugin.

Guaranteed to work on: Outlook 2007, 2010

3. Gpg4win: set-it-and-forget-it email encryption

pg4win screenshot1pg4win screenshot2
Here’s news that will surprised no one: it is actually not that difficult to intercept, read, and edit email. The good news is that with Gpg4win email encryption is easy, performed by the software and managing the requisite certificate exchange process in the background without user involvement.

Gpg4win, based on open source standards, is an Outlook plugin designed to encrypt your email and files, and ensure that the content came from the a specific sender and that it was unchanged along the way. Both email and attachments are signed and encrypted in one go in Outlook; as is signature verification and decryption. The end result: email security with no user involvement.

Guaranteed to work on: Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010

Attachment Explorer4. Attachment Explorer: browse your email attachments explorer-style, in one place

If you’ve ever found yourself looking for a specific attachment in a jumble of emails, or if you simply would appreciate the ability to look at all of your attachments in a single place, then this Outlook extension is for you. This software supports excellent filtering options to help you find exactly the file that you are looking for; for example allowing you to specify filetypes/extensions, as well as folders (and folders within folders), to include and/or exclude in the applied filter.

Guaranteed to work on: Outlook 2007 (if it works for you on other versions of Outlook, please let us know in the comments section).

auto archive now5. AutoArchive Now: on the fly email archiving via right click

Archiving is an excellent way to stash email away in a compressed form, for possible future reference. The archiving process itself, however, is typically time consuming and can be amount to a very unwelcome interruption to users’ workflow.

Enter ‘AutoArchive Now’ to the rescue. This outlook extension will let you right click any email (or multiple email ), and select ‘AutoArchive Now’ from the context menu to move all emails or folders into the archive, on the fly.

Guaranteed to work on: Outlook 2007 (if it works for you on other versions of Outlook, please let us know in the comments section).

fblook6. FBLook: add Facebook integration to Outlook

If you have Outlook open most of the time, and if you want to post Facebook status updates, get up-to-date friend updates, and do other Facebook-type activities straight from your Outlook, FBlook is for you.

Not only does this free Outlook extension makes all that possible, but it can even set your status to the name of any song that you might be playing in iTunes or WMP.

Guaranteed to work on: Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010.

7. InboxEx: quick Outlook task and meeting scheduling, with Google Calendar integration

inboxex screenshot1ainboxex Screenshot2

InboxEx installs a sidebar in Outlook designed for quick 1-click scheduling of tasks and meetings. It also adds a fast, powerful email search fucntionality, Google Calendar integration, and a handful of other useful functions.

  • Scheduling works really well; view others’ availability and easily share Google Calendar events with your contacts

  • Filtering of search results by topic, content sender recipient, type, dates, and attachments.

  • Sync events with Google Calendar (including scheduled syncs)

  • Automatic email archiving.

Guaranteed to work on: Outlook 2007, 2010

OfficeIns28. OfficeIns: quickly disable/enable Outlook and Office add-ons

This program lists all add-ons that are installed in all MS Office applications (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, Access, Visio, and FrontPage), and gives the option to enable/disable them, or enable/disable their loading on startup. This is a portable, no-install program that you can simply unzip and run.It is potentially very useful, especially if you overburden your office apps with add-ons from articles like this one ;)

Compatability info: Windows XP through 7

9. NK2Edit: edit Outlook autocomplete email lists

NK2Edit Outlook AutoCompleteNK2Edit Screenshot

Autocomplete is very nice feature which we all take for granted: type in a few characters in an email field, and Outlook will automatically try to guess and suggest contacts for you (see screenshot upper left). Over time, however, it is possible to have useless or obsolete contacts popping up all the time on autocomplete. If this happens to you, do not fret: NK2Edit will let you edit these autocomplete entries, to fix any inaccuracies and remove entries that you do not want.

NK2Edit is an external tool that can optionally be run portably (i.e. unzip and run) or with installer support. It will let you edit, delete, or add new contact. You can even backup and merge NK2Files to create the perfect contact list, and use in on multiple Outlook installs. This program is free for personal use; commercial usage requires registration.

Compatibility info: All Windows, All versions of Outlook.

pst10. PSTTools for Microsoft Outlook: dedupe Outlook emails and combine PST email archives

Two tools in one: PST Merger and PST Duplicate Removal. PSTTools acts on Outlook’s PST file(s), provided they are not password protect. It can either merge multiple PST files (i.e. multiple mail archives) into a new file, combining them into a single whole, or otherwise create a new PST file without any of the duplicate emails of the original.

Note that the author of this software recommends that you backup your PSTs before using.

Guaranteed to work on: Outlook 2007 (if it works for you on other versions of Outlook, please let us know in the comments section).

repl with attachment11. Reply All with Attachments: includes attachments in reply and reply all

Most email clients, including Outlook, do not include attachments by default in ‘reply’ or ‘reply to’ actions. Typically, attachments are only included in forwarding operations. This add-on, however, gives you the ability to right click on an email and reply to all with attachments, should you need to do so?

Why would you need to do so? The scenario I can think of is replying to all with attachments when you want to subsequently add more recipients to the list. If you can think of other uses let me know in the comments section.

Guaranteed to work on: Outlook 2007, 2010

CodeTwo Attach Unblocker12. CodeTwo Attach Unblocker: access attachments typically blocked by Outlook

If you work with attachments that are of filetypes that are blocked by Outlook (e.g. .exe, .url, .reg), then this free Outlook plugin is for you. CodeTwo Attach Unblocker.

Of course there’s a reason why Outlook blocks these types in the first place: they present a higher risk of transmitting malicious code/malware onto your system than others. Therefore, unblock them at your own risk, if you are confident in the files that you want to open and know what you are doing.

Guaranteed to work on: Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010.

Do you know of any other must-have Outlook add-ons that I missed? Let me know about them in the comments section.

Thanks go to Alaa K for doing most of the legwork for this article. Want more free Outlook add-ons? Stay tuned for part 2 of this post!

Simply Slideshow: view images in style, with nice animated transitions

Simply Slideshow: view images in style, with nice animated transitions:

Simply Slideshow Screenshot1
Viewing pictures on you PC? Then check out Simply Slideshow, a small free program which displays folders of images back-to-back with beautiful animated transitions. It’s easy, simple, no frills, but offers a great viewing experience.

This program is especially well suited for, say, creating image slideshows in conference booths, parties, restaurants, and the like (or, sit back in your chair and simply enjoy a unique image viewing experience).

Note that this software is NOT designed to create videos or DVD slideshows of images (for that, check out the terrific DVD Slideshow GUI).

Some notes:

  • How to use: all you have to do is point it to a folder or folders and fire it up.

  • Simply Slideshow optionsViewing options: (appropriately) very few options. Whether to view fullscreen or windowed, how long should an image linger in the background while the transition is going on, etc.

  • Filtering: by minimum file size; i.e. you can tell it not to display any image that is less that 10K or however much you want in it’s disk size.

  • Intelligent image selection: whereby the program will try to images that best find the aspect ratio of your monitor or program window.

Wish list:

  • I would have said more filtering options, such as filtering by screen resolution or wildcards in the filename/extension. But I won’t, as that just might add unnecessary complexity to an otherwise light and nicely minimal app. (Which is not to say this software cannot be developed further and improved; I hope it is).

  • Keyboard hotkeys: for skipping to the next image via right arrow, or pausing the slideshow, etc.

The verdict: I like this a lot. This program was made for the author’s personal use, and it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. Kudos to the author for making such a nice app (and sharing it!)

Version tested: 1.0.26

Compatibility: WinAll; 32bit and 64bit.

Download it on it’s Softpedia page, or visit the author’s blog for more info (approx. 816K).

Ten lesser known ‘must-play’ Facebook games

Ten lesser known ‘must-play’ Facebook games:

FB illustration4
Facebook gaming is all the rage these days, partly because these games are often really good, and partly because you can play with your friends and spam people share your achievements, etc.

And while there are some very well known games out there such as CityVille and Empires & Allies; in Facebook as in life, it is not necessarily the best games that are the the most popular. This post will list 10 excellent free (or freemium) Facebook games that are less well known than some of the more famous games, but in many cases are even better.

Here’s the list (and number of active users as of Oct 11th 2011). The games were ranked based on the number of monthly active users.

  1. Pool Live Tour: top notch pool game with a social twist
  2. EA SPORTS FIFA Superstars: Real football & soccer: first class soccer management sim
  3. Army Attack: turn based strategy comes to Facebook
  4. Airport City: addictive airport management sim
  5. Shadow Fight: beat up your Facebook friends
  6. Edgeworld: terrific space themed RTS experience
  7. UberStrike: a brilliant team based multiplayer 3D first person shooter
  8. My Country: the best city simulator on Facebook
  9. PGATour Golf Challenge: 3D golfing action
  10. Kobe’s Basketball Academy: quirky Basketball management sim


Pool Live Tour: top notch pool game with a social twist Pool Live Tour on FacebookPool Live Tour on Facebook -11
Pool Live TouSTAR RATEPool games are popular on Facebook, but Pool Live Tour has to be one of the best out there.

Aside from chatting and playing with friends, Pool Live Tour can match you with thousands of real Facebook users ready for a challenge. It is also one of the only ones that lets you purchase/upgrade items such as

Star Rating 4.6 | Monthly active users: 2,960,115 (as of 11/10/2011).

2. EA SPORTS FIFA Superstars: Real football & soccer: first class soccer management sim EA SPORTS FIFA Superstars Real football & soccer! on Facebook 2EA SPORTS FIFA Superstars Real football & soccer! on Facebook
A first rate football (soccer) management sim that is highly playable and addictive. Manage your players and their performance as well as your team’s finances; compete against your Facebook friends as they manage other teams in the same EA SPORTS FIFA Superstars Real football & soccer! STAR RATEleague.

All I can say is: if you haven’t played this type of football management game before it is time to start; you will not be disappointed.

Star rating 4.5 | Monthly active users: 2,478,771 (as of 11/10/2011).

3. Army Attack

: turn based strategy comes to Facebook Army Attack on FacebookArmy Attack on Facebook 2
A turn based strategy game of map domination. Compete against the enemy over territory and resources in this very engaging game.

(1) Army Attack star rateYou cannot play against your friends; however, those friends who play this game can share some of their resources with you to lend a helping hand (from their own, separate gaming sessions).

Star rating 4.9 | Monthly active users: 2,298,326 (as of 11/10/2011).

4. Airport City: addictive airport management sim Airport City star rate
Excellent game alert! Airport City is an airport-building simulation game that manages to (a) offer a significant game of complexity, and (b) keep you engaged for a vey long time.

Airport City star rateAs in CityVille, your Facebook friends are incentivized to visit your airport and check out the wonderful progress that you made, giving this game the kind of social dimension that Facebook can deliver so well.

Star rating 4.7 | Monthly active users: 2,172,533 (as of 11/10/2011).


Shadow Fight
: beat up your Facebook friends

Shadow Fight on Facebookshadow fight screenshot 2
Ever wanted to beat up your Facebook ‘friends’? Well now is your chance. Shadow Fight is a very well built Kung Fu fighting game that employs moves triggered by keyboard combinations.

Shadow Fight STAR RATEFight against your friends or against CPU monsters in order to build up experience and earn coins, etc. Coins earned can be used to buy weapons and other items, or (of course) you can purchase these items for real world money.

Some Shadow Fighting action.

Star rating 5.0 (although based on a tiny sample of 5 reviewers) | Monthly active users: 1,802,627 (as of 11/10/2011).

6. Edgeworld

: terrific space themed RTS experience 297558_178806525524645_119952871410011_442205_1128695_nEdgeworld on Facebook - Mozilla Firefox_2011-10-15_10-58-32
(4) Edgeworld - Mozilla Firefox_2011-10-15_10-28-17Grab resources and build up your base in this space themed isometric Real Time Strategy game. You can fight and compete against other players that are not on your friends’ list. You can chat with other players to agree on a non-aggression stance between the two of you, for example. One neat feature is the way your forces evolve over the course of the game (see video below).

Stick with this one past level 7 and you will find it becoming exponentially more rewarding.

EdgeWorld weapons evolution

Star rating 4.3 | Monthly active users: 1,500,000 (as of 11/10/2011).

7. UberStrike: a brilliant team based multiplayer 3D first person shooter

UberStrike on Facebook -Uberstrike Screenshot2
A Facebook-based 3D first person shooter that kicks a**. UberStrike is a Counter Strike-influenced team based multiplayer played with other Facebook users. Play this game fullscreen (via by pressing Alt+F), for the best experience.

Multiplayer 3D first person shooter action, courtesy of Uberstrike

UberStrike star rateAs you might expect, progressing through levels accumulates coins that can be used to purchase advanced weapons, armor, and other items, etc.

Star rating 4.1 | Monthly active users: 890,267 (as of 11/10/2011).

8. My Country

: the best city simulator on Facebook

mycountry2my country
CityVille may be the most popular game on Facebook, but gamers who want something more serious and in-depth will find ‘My Country’ to be the better game of the two, and certainly the more realistic.

My Country star rateAs in CityVille, you can compete against your friends and show off your urban creations. Definitely check this one out.

Star rating 4.7 | Monthly active users: 631,337 (as of 11/10/2011).

9. PGATour Golf Challenge: 3D golfing action

EA SPORTS™ PGA TOUR® Golf Challenge on Facebook - Mozilla Firefox_2011-10-13_16-01-47EA SPORTS™ PGA TOUR® Golf Challenge on Facebook - Mozilla Firefox_2011-10-13_16-02-20
Tired of all the sports management games? Then try this game for some 3D golfing action..

EA SPORTS™ PGA TOUR® Golf Challenge star rateThe first thing you notice about this one is that the objects and 3D environment are just so well modeled. The next you you notice is that it is just pure plain fun!

Star rating 3.8 | Monthly active users: 102,251 (as of 11/10/2011).

10. Kobe’s Basketball Academy

quirky Basketball management sim

Kobe's Basketball Academy2Kobe's Basketball Academy3
The second sports management sim in this post , Kobe’s Basketball Academy is a first rate sports management simulator, this time for readers whose imagination is captured by Basketball rather than soccer.

Kobe's Basketball Academy - Mozilla star rateKobe’s Basketball Academy’s objective is to take charge of a your team of students and progress through the leagues. Kobe himself will guide and help you along the way via video snippets scattered throughout the game.

Star rating 4.4 | Monthly active users: 72,426 (as of 11/10/2011).

Thanks go to Alaa K for doing most of the research for this article. Have other Facebook games that people need to know about? Let us know in the comments section.