Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Best Open Source and Free Replacements for Commercial Products

It's time to recap the best Open Source and Free Replacements for Commercial Products;

Most of these products have Windows, Mac and Linux versions of their software.

Friday, June 15, 2012

FREE Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge Game

Infamous Adventures have done it again. They've remade the Sierra Classic, Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, in glorious VGA to match the look and feel of Space Quest IV onwards (and the remade version 1).

Experience the very best of point and click gaming.

To download this and other great games, visit the Infamous Adventures web site.

They have windows and mac versions of the game and it doesn't need particularly fancy hardware, so it's perfectly suited to kiddie computers.

The game is tricky (especially the kissing alien part) and some of the puzzles have weird solutions. Luckily IA have the hint book online too. In any case, I've played the whole thing through and can confirm that it works.

They also have a remake of King's Quest 3 on their site.

Web Site:

Give it a go!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

FREE: Text Editor for Windows - Notepad++

It's official, my new favorite text editor is Notepad ++

After using ConTEXT for quite a few years (it's still great but hasn't been modified since August 2009), I finally found a notepad replacement which has all of the features I want plus a few extras;

It's fast and it's free - but it seems to be a Windows only app.

Aside from the obvious programming language requirements (html, bracket matching etc), I have a few specific requirements for any notepad replacement product I test.
  • Macro Facility
  • Block Select
  • Sort Capability
  • Search and Replace including Special Characters

Notepad++ has brought a few more exciting "requirements" to the mix including a much wider variety of programming language support and a "Trim leading and trailing space" facility.

The TextFX Extension
Last time I looked, Notepad++ was a great contender but it was missing just a few of the critical things. I looked at it a bit more closely this time though and found that it had most of the missing facilities as "extensions".

I had a bit of trouble with the download link (and finding the unicode version of it - which is why I've provided a direct link). Once downloaded though, it's simply a matter of copying the NppTextFX.dll file into your extensions directory (in my case; D:\Program Files\Notepad++\plugins) and restarting Notepad++

My main reason for wanting the TextFX extension was to get SORT capability which is sadly missing from the main product. Of course, TextFX comes with a whole heap of other great functionality, including menu options to "remove all blank lines", count words and perform extended case conversion.

Monday, May 16, 2011

FREE Balloons TTF Font

This morning I found myself having to do a comic at work as a way of explaining to users how a new system would work. Powerpoint comes with a few balloon options but I wanted more - and I wanted them to be easy to get to.

I decided that the best way to have them would be as a font - so I went hunting.

You can download a great symbol font here that is made up of Balloons.

Here's what it looks like if you type the alphabet in upper and lower case, plus numbers.

Once you've downloaded the fonts and extracted the fonts from their ZIP files, right mouse click on them and choose Install (Windows 7). If you're using Windows XP, you'll have to go into control panel fonts and install them that way.

If you type a single letter in powerpoint, you'll be able to easily resize it and use it when doing comics. If you've got a graphics program like Corel Draw! then you'll find that it loads as a draggable symbol which is even better.

There's plenty of other great fonts available at

In particular, if you're looking for symbol fonts, try;

You'll find all kinds of symbol fonts on the site including;

and lots more.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

FREE 7ZIP Archive (Compression and Decompression) Utility

Prior to Windows XP, you used to have to install a third-party archiving tool like WinZip in order to even view ZIP files. Fortunately, that's no longer the case. Windows archiving from XP onwards natively supports the creation and extraction of files in ZIP format.

What are Archives for?
Why would you use Archives? Well, there are several good reasons;
  • If you have a lot of files and you want to save them as ONE single file either for archived storage or to make it easier to send them via an email.

  • If your files are quite large archiving will often shrink them down. Note that archiving usually doesn't work well on files which are already compressed (particularly JPEG and Movie files).

  • If you're converting files for a comic. If you archive a whole heap of JPEG /JPG files to ZIP and then rename it as a .CBZ file, you can use a comic book reader to view them.

How To compress a bunch of files in Windows
  1. Select the files you want to compress in windows explorer (the file manager)
  2. Right-mouse click on your selection
  3. Choose Send To,
  4. Choose Compressed (zipped) Folder
  5. Windows will create a new Zip file for you.

How To Decompress a ZIP file in Windows
  1. Find the ZIP File in Windows Explorer (the file manager)
  2. Right-mouse click on it
  3. Choose Extract All...
  4. You'll be prompted to choose a location to extract to.
  5. Click Ok.

Enter 7Zip
Unfortunately, despite these capabilities, windows archiving is still sadly lacking. It doesn't support all file formats - in particular the very common RAR format.

7ZIP is a great free open source Compression and Decompression utility. In fact, I've tried a lot over the years and 7ZIP is my personal favorite.

You can download 7Zip from here:

It supports;
  • Packing and unpacking for: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM
  • Unpacking only for: ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DEB, DMG, FAT, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, VHD, WIM, XAR and Z.
Sadly it doesn't let you create RAR files but who needs them? You should probably only be sending ZIP files around anyway because they're the industry standard.

7zip is available for Windows only but is available in both 32 and 64 bit versions.

It has a nice graphical front end but I've hardly ever looked at it because the integration with Windows explorer is so nice.

Instead of hooking into the confusing "send to" area, 7ZIP gets an explorer menu of its own and you get several great options including compress and email. Right-clicking on an existing archive gives you the option of opening the archive in the current folder or a sub-folder. It's fast and it's fewer steps than the Microsoft alternative.

Give it a try. (

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

FREE: Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10

I usually have a bone to pick with Anti-Virus vendors because their products tend to slow my system down and often miss viruses. As a result, I switch vendors quite regularly. At the moment, my Anti-Virus vendor is Kaspersky.

Now Kaspersky itself isn't free but they're offering a completely FREE bootable Rescue Disk which is well worth having.

You can view a page about it and download it from here.
The Direct Download is here.

The rescue disk downloads as a 206 MB ISO file which you can use your favourite CD Burner program to write to CD.

Why is this CD So Good?
You can start your computer from this CD and know that since it's a CD, nothing will be written to the device (it's safe from viruses). It will load a nice GUI interface and will allow you to scan your computer. Since the systems on your computer's hard drive won't be active, any virus you have won't be able to hide and it won't be locked.

Even better, if you have network card, the CD will attempt to connect to the internet. You'll be able to download the latest anti-virus signatures (overcoming a major weakness in other boot disks of this type).

The CD also includes a web browser, so if your PC isn't working and you just want to get onto the internet, it will work.

This truly is a great rescue disk.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

FREE Adventure Games: King's Quest III Redux (and others)

King's Quest III: To Heir is Human is a classic Sierra adventure game which has actually been remade twice and both versions are available online for free.

The latest version is called King's Quest III: Redux and it's available from AGDInteractive Studio, the same guys who brought you the remakes of King's Quest 1 and King's Quest 2 and Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire. Also, in case you missed it, QFG II has been updated to version 2.0 from January 20, 2011.

The games are available for both Windows and Mac.

The other remake of King's Quest III is available from Infamous Adventures. The latest update was released in August 2006.

I've included similar pictures of both simply to show the difference in graphics. There's a whole lot more than simply snowbound adventuring to be had.

Keep watching the Infamous Adventures site because apparently they're going to release their long awaited remake of Space Quest II on April 15, 2011.