By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 1997, The Syracuse Newspapers
Copyright © 1997, Al Fasoldt
Most of the descriptions here were published in two articles in the fall of 1997. I prepared a single list for the Point 'n' Click TV show. Here it is.
The Power Toys for Windows 95, by Microsoft. They permit extraordinary user control over many aspects of the Windows 95 interface. This downloadable file includes Tweak UI, the single-most-important add-on utility for any Windows 95 user. File location: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/download/powertoy.exe. (Free.) Be sure you read the text files that come with the Power Toys! You do NOT install the Power Toys the standard way. Don't look for an installation program. I get more mail on this one topic than on any other single subject. READ THE DOCUMENTATION. The Power Toys install using so-called INF files. You right click on them and choose "Install."
Stiletto, by Bruce Switzer, available from http://www.inforamp.net/~crs2086/index.htm. (Home page.) Stiletto lets you create toolbar-like launch buttons, can send keystrokes to running programs, can schedule tasks while you are away and show you reminders of anything you choose, and can pop up menus alongside your mouse that match the menus of the program in the foreground. It's the best macro program for Windows (old and new versions) ever written. ($15.)
Zip Magic, from Mijenix, available from http://www.mijenix.com. (Home page.) Zip Magic makes Windows treat ZIP files (compressed collections of files, identified by their "ZIP" filename extension) as standard folders. These folders can be opened, copied, renamed and deleted, and the contents of these virtual folders can be treated just as you'd treat the contents of real folders. ($40.)
NewPad, by Eugene Vassilstov, available from http://www.netcom.com/~ionna/newpad.html. (Home page.) NewPad is the best way I know of to replace the wimpy, inexcusably ill-behaved Notepad that comes with Windows 95. (There are much fancier replacements, but NewPad is ideal as a simple substitute.) If you use Microsoft's yuck-a-chuck Notepad at all, do yourself a favor and download this replacement. (Free.)
Snadboy's Revelation, by Snadboy Software, available from http://www.snadboy.com/. (Home page.) Snadboy's Revelation gives you a spyglass icon that displays any Windows password when you pass the icon over the asterisks. Microsoft doesn't like this at all, and has a response—but not a fix, mind you—in an article at http://www.microsoft.com/windows95/info/password.htm. Use Snadboy's Revelation if you forget your password for any program running under Windows. (Free.)
RTVReco, by Jeremy Gelber of RTV Software, available from http://www.clearlight.com/~rtvsoft/files.htm. (Home page.) RTVReco—the "Reco" stands for "reconnect"—pushes the "Reconnect" button for you if you lose your Internet dialup connection. It can automatically press any other button in any window or dialog box, too. It can search for specific text within a dialog box and even run any program when it spots that text. It's one of the cleverest utilities I have ever seen. (Free.)
Shove-It, by Phil Hord of Phord Software, available from http://www.phord.com/. (Home page.) Ever wonder why windows and other objects don't stay on the screen instead of half-disappearing off the sides when you move them? They don't because of Microsoft's half-baked programming. Shove-It fixes the problem neatly, popping everything back onto the screen if any windows stray off the top, bottom or sides. Earlier versions misbehaved on my computer, but the latest Shove-It is a gem. ($15.)
Gravis WinDecks, by Darren Schueller and Advanced Gravis Computer Tech, available from http://www.gravis.com/Public/. (Home page.)If you did not get an impressive-looking set of hi-fi component-style audio players with your PC, download the WinDecks and have fun. You get a CD player, a MIDI player, a WAV player and a sound mixer—and even a power panel and four remote controls. All look just like they were designed for an expensive home audio rack, except that they have more features than you or I could afford in hardware versions of these players. (Free.)
Second Copy 97, by Centered Systems, available from http://www.centered.com. (Home page.) Second Copy 97 has my vote for the best modern what-you-really-need backup program, because it's super-smart and superbly easy to set up. You can use it as I do—to back up your entire file system, folder by folder, or you can use it just to make backups of selected folders—ones you can't afford to lose. You can have Second Copy 97 keep backup copies of files that have been changed or deleted, too, so that you have your backups AND you have backups of previous versions of your files. (And it will keep MANY previous versions, if you like.) Set it to run every day while you're away at the office. ($30.)
InstantON, by the Intel Architecture Labs, available from http://www.intel.com. (Home page. Look for the IAL link.) Intel is widely known, of course, for its computer chips, but should get credit also for its pioneering software. InstantON is a great replacement for the Windows 95 System Agent, offering many more options for scheduling programs to run at certain times (and to stop running at certain times, too). It has special support for computers that need to shut themselves down to save battery power—notebook PCs, for example—but it's just about the best scheduler for desktop PCs, too. (Free.)