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Program Blocker 1.0

Stop users running specified programs

by Mike Williams

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License: Freeware
Operating Systems: Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows 8
Requirements:
Languages: English
Software Cost: Free
Date Updated: 24 March 2014
Watchlist: Add download to my watchlist
Downloads To Date: 392
Developer: The Windows Club
RSS News Feed: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/TheWindowsClub
Twitter Feed: http://twitter.com/thewindowsclub
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Windows-Club/173416331200
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Program Blocker 1.0
Stop users running specified programs

Program Blocker is a portable tool which can prevent specific programs from being run on a Windows 7/ 8 PC.

When first launched Program Blocker asks you to enter a password, which you'll then have to enter whenever you run the program. Enter your email address and, if you forget the password later, you'll be able to get a reminder.

Program Blocker's interface has a Windows 8-type look, spoiled slightly by ugly text and low resolution icons. But it's clear enough what you need to do. You're able to choose programs you'd like to block from a list, or by manually selecting their executable. Save the results and it shouldn't be possible to run those applications any more.

Does this work? We tried to block "Control Panel", with no success: it still ran as normal. Not encouraging.

Attempts to block other applications were much more successful, though. We tested the system with Chrome, Notepad and various system tools, and once "blocked", we could launch the programs, but they were closed immediately (within a fraction of a second).

Program Blocker will by default disable Task Manager, too, to prevent users from closing it down. And you can set up the program to launch along with Windows, and then run in "Hidden Mode", again making it a little harder for others to find and remove or disable it. (This will only work for non-technical users, we suspect - the more experienced will just download Process Explorer, find and remove Program Blocker, all within about 5 minutes.)

One significant issue we noticed is that Program Blocker generates a lot of CPU activity. And that's because it appears to work by checking all application windows, several times a second, and closing any which are on the "blocked" list: not the most sophisticated of solutions.

Program Blocker can be effective in some situations, though. It doesn't modify your system, or touch the Registry, which is another plus. And if you just want a simple way to control what non-technical users can run on their own system, then it might, just about, be good enough.

Verdict:

Program Blocker is a basic tool which provides limited control over the applications which can be run on a computer. Experienced users will bypass it in seconds, but if you just need something simple for the non-technical - young children, say - it may be good enough.

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Spotlight: Free Full Software

Spektrel Art 1.0.0

Free Full Commercial Software

Spektrel Art is a stand-alone program and Photoshop plugin which transforms digital photos into "magical art that glimmers and gleams with intersecting lines of tapered light".

What does that mean? Essentially it applies a configurable mix of effects, enhancing edges, smoothing backgrounds and emphasizing colours. Take a look at the thumbnail for one example, and the official product page has more.

Spektral Art works much like any similar tool. Open an image, click one of the thumbnails to apply a particular preset, or click a few buttons and drag some sliders to fine-tune the results.

There's surprising scope for variation, too. For example, just switching from the "Light" to "Dark" theme can transform a bright and friendly image into something dark and sinister, at least in some cases (results vary depending on the source image).

Please note, the demo version doesn't allow images to be saved.

SPECIAL OFFER: as we write, the developer is offering Spektral Art for free. The offer expires August 29th. Please note that you must provide your name, address and phone number to receive your free license.

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