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19 important tools and updates you may have missed this week

29 July 2011, Chris Wiles

CyberLink released YouCam 5 this week. Although it’s not an application that may be on everyone’s radar, the new version does have a couple of interesting new features for serious users, one of these being facial recognition technology. This will enable you to login to Windows or Facebook without the need to remember your password. Use your webcam to recognize your facial features and you’re in. At least in theory. YouCam 5 Standard is the basic version, whilst the Deluxe edition offers a stronger feature set, including the ability to lock your computer when your webcam notices you’ve moved away from your desktop.

Kaspersky’s TDSSKiller is a free tool designed to compliment your existing security software. Run a scan and it will detect a rootkit on your system, sniff out potential malicious files and report back. Detect anything suspicious and you can make a decision on whether you want to remove the files or not. However, TDSSKiller will give you another layer of protection and is ideal for users who want Kaspersky technology but have a subscription with a rival security software developer.

WinSCP 4.3.4 is a powerful free FTP client that is designed to create a secure path to your remote server, so you can transfer files without anyone snooping on your data. You can use it to synchronize data between source and destination, so when you make changes to files on your PC, the files are automatically transferred to the destination. There’s also a portable version which you can use to take on the road, perhaps on a USB stick.

ProcessThreadsView 1.0 is a brand new tool from NirSoft. This simple free app will give you a much more detailed view of system processes which, in turn, offers you the facility to make a detailed look at what a process might be doing on your system.  You can also suspend a thread if you believe it’s causing your system a problem. Be careful though as pausing or stopping a vital thread could cause further problems than you’re trying to solve. Another alternative is Process Explorer 15.01, from Sysinternals, also updated this week. System Explorer 3.0.4 is another similar tool. A portable version is available.

If you’ve tried to give an architect an idea for an extension, you know that their interpretation is likely to be very different from what you had in your head. Sweet Home 3D 3.3 is a free cross-platform design tool which will construct a detailed layout of the internal or external building. Use it to draft your roof extension and give your planner a more detailed view of your ideas before you commission a more expensive and detailed design.

The forthcoming Norton 2012 range received another (v19.1) beta update this week. The major inclusion was Norton Management which will enable an admin to bring together various PCs within one centrally controlled environment, primarily to control their subscription. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s a way for you to make sure that someone who might be rather computer illiterate always has a valid subscription and an active security plan.

CCleaner 3.09 was released during the week and added Firefox 6 support, which is due out of beta and a final release within the next couple of weeks. Other improvements include support for cleaning junk from more third-party applications and many other minor improvements. There’s a portable version of CCleaner which you can use to clean computers from a USB device, without installation.

If you’re seeking an Explorer replacement, then xplorer2 2.0 (32-bit and 64-bit versions available) maybe a solution. We’re big fans of Directory Opus 10, but xplorer2 is feature-packed and worth some consideration. An Explorer replacement offers more flexibility for working with files, particularly if you prefer a dual-pane window.

Earlier in the week, K-Lite Codec Pack 7.5.0 was released. Available in a Basic, Standard, Full and Mega compilation, these codec packs will offer you everything you need to play just about any media format possible, using non-commercial tools. If you have video files lying around from the 90s, you may find that current media players won’t understand the codecs used to create these files. K-Lite Codec Pack should be able to play these and much more. The K-Lite Codec Tweak Tool 5.0.5 was also updated and this will fix many issues that may stop your system from playing a video or associating a video format with a particular player.

Almost as an afterthought, Firefox 6 Beta 3 was released this week, with Beta 4 already appearing on the Mozilla servers and likely to appear within the next few days.

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