Saturday, 28 November 2009

Full commercial software for free

I’ve found some more free commercial software available for a limited time:
Register Here and Receive the CD Key to Fully Install CyberLink YouCam 1 available from2009/11/19 to 2010/03/20:

This is only used for CyberLink MediaShow 4 DE available from 2009/11/01 to 2010/03/31:

CyberLink PowerDirector available from 2009/09/30 to 2010/02/05:

CyberLink PowerDVD available from 2009/10/01 to 2009/11/30: 

Paragon Total Defrag 2010 free until 29Nov2009:

Here’s another site that you would want to keep your eye on:

Friday, 27 November 2009

You want to create a copy of your current hard drive without having to reinstall everything: clone it – Solved!

I’ve often been asked how to replace a suspect hard drive before it fails completely without having to reinstall all the programs and then copy all the data back onto it… well, here’s a free OpenSource solution that clones your hard drive quickly – no, very quickly!


CloneZilla is a super-fast cloning tool that can clone one system to another, or one-to-many (over the LAN) using multi-casting (or broadcasting) technology.

Clonezilla, allows you to do bare metal backup and recovery.

Clonezilla Live is suitable for single machine backup and restore.

Clonezilla SE (Server Edition) is for massive deployment, it can clone many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously.

Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the hard disk which increases the clone efficiency.

Clonezilla supports many file systems including GNU/Linux,FAT, NTFS, HFS+, and more; no matter if it’s 32 or 64 bit.

See here for screen shots:

See here for downloading Clonezilla and instructions on how to create a bootable CD:

I’m sure this will save you lots of time and trouble – consider donating to Clonezilla here: Donate

Update on 28Nov2009:
Here’s another great article listing the “5 Ways to Clone and copy your hard drive” (all free tools) covering: Paragon’s Drive Backup Express (Windows), DriveImage XML (Windows), CloneZilla (cross platform), XXCLONE (Windows), EASEUS Disk Copy (cross platform).

Thursday, 26 November 2009

So, you need an old version of the Java Runtime Engine (JRE)… look in the archive – SOLVED

Took me a while, but finally found the JRE that I was looking for (and a lot more) I was looking for JRE 1_5_0_15 for Windows.
Here’s the Sun Java Technology Products Download page (archive):

imageAs you can see, there is all sorts of information listed: J2EE toolkits, JDBC drivers, JDK, SDK, J2RE, JCE, JSSE, JFC, Swing, and more.
Use the pull-down menus to select what you need to download and press “Go”, then the next window will allow selection of your operating system, then download the file:

If you have multiple versions of the JRE on your computer, then use the control panel’s “Java” icon to control which JRE is used by which browser: image

In the “Java Control Panel”:
Click on the “Java” tab, then configure the ‘Java Applet Runtime Settings’ by clicking the ‘View’ button and ticking the JRE version that your browsers should use. 

Then configure the ‘Java Application Runtime Settings’ by clicking the ‘View’ button and ticking the JRE version that WebStart JNLP (Java Network Launching Protocol) files should use:


So, there’s no need to UNinstall the latest version of the JRE if you need to use an older version :)

How to make transparent images (gifs)

I often need to make a transparent image – I figured out that the image type needs to be a .gif file.

My tool of choice – for its simplicity and rich functionality is an old version of Jasc Software’s Paint Shop Pro – yup, it’s old, but it does the trick!   The version that I have was from the Jasc Software days, but I see now that it’s been “absorbed” by Corel.
image   image
Thanks to  for much of the info below:

Here is a simple technique to make transparent gifs with Paint Shop Pro:

Open an image and click on the ‘Dropper Tool’ image and right click on the image’s background.  This will set the colour palette to match the background colour of your image.

Click on Colours->Set Palette Transparency, then check the option “Set the transparency value to the current background colour”, then click OK, and then save the image as a .gif file.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

I’ve been looking for an English to Afrikaans translation web site…

Since my home language isn’t Afrikaans, and I sometimes get challenged with Grade 5 Afrikaans homework – an online tool is often the last resort.  I’ve found a couple – it’s always useful to have “a second opinion” and these are the ones that I use:

Google Translate:
image What’s nice with Google Translate is that the translations happen in real time – in other words, the Afrikaans translation appears as you type in the English!  Very cool.
Go to the bottom of the page and enter your phrase to be translated.
I see that there’s a limit of 400 words that can be translated – then it stops translating and gives “... A MAXIMUM OF 400 WORDS TRANSLATED!“  Not very nice… :(

This site also has a nice “Chat slang dictionary”, which is very useful when looking up abbreviations or acronyms like “WTH = what/who the heck?” and “ATEOTLYWBAT = at the end of this lesson you will be able to” and more…

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Free domain and web hosting (R0.00) no credit card needed

Yes, I’ve just registered and created my own domain and web site 100% free using 000WebHostHere’s what’s included:
1,500MB disk space, 100GB traffic per month, 5x email addresses, WebMail, PHP, 2x MySQL databases, FTP, cPanel, weekly backups, cron jobs…

There are no hidden costs, no adverts, and no restrictive terms.  Lighting fast speeds, maximum reliability and fanatical user support are just a few of the features you'll receive.

I’m going to create an e-commerce site using Joomla and VirtueMart for a friend who runs a business from home – no start-up fees nor monthly costs – gr8 :)

The web site setup process asks if you want a free (sub-)domain and it creates that for you instantly (

Click on the image below for more info:

There’s no ssh access, so I’m going to use two Joomla components called JoomlaPack to zip my files, and JoomlaXplorer to unzip via the GUI.

Wow, and I was going to suggest to my friend to pay R100 per month for a basic hosting package…

Is there a catch?  Let me know please – comment or email me HandyTechTipper at


Get up to 25% (at least 10%) off at some restaurants in return for filling in an online questionnaire after your meal

Diner’s Delight is a dining club, where members (free membership) enjoy discounts of up to 25% (at least 10% then 5%) from a list of (currently) 35 restaurants (currently) in the Western Cape (South Africa) – soon to be expanded (according to the web site). 
See here for the list of restaurants along with their menus.
imageIn return, you need to complete a short survey (16 multiple choice +1 other) of your dining experience the following day (or at the latest, before you make your next booking).

This information is then passed back to the restaurant, and is used to help improve your dining experience. Diners Delight also gives its members recommendations on new restaurants to try, based on their previous dining experiences.

Once you’ve registered, you can immediately login and book for a restaurant (up to 7 days in advance).  They will then make the actual booking at the restaurant (to let them know the discount that’s applicable) and then will send you an email within 15 minutes.  If the restaurant is fully booked then a Diners Delight restaurant advisor will call you back to make an alternative arrangement.

If you want to book at short notice, then make a call (+27 21 481 7600, or cell: +27 82 337 0962) – they need only 30 minutes notice to book your table. 

Here’s what the booking form looks like (after selecting the restaurant that you want to go to):
Some restaurants prefer different discount structures that varies depending on the day & time:

You can enjoy up to 4 discounted meals per restaurant (as long as the questionnaire is filled in), and the discount will be applied to your entire bill, regardless of how many people are dining with you.  Thereafter you will be entitled to a flat 5% discount at that restaurant for the remainder of the year.

After 12 months, the discount cycle is refreshed, and you can once again enjoy the escalating discounts.

Now to pick a restaurant, and take advantage – I love Doppio Zero at Mandela Square and I see that they’re on the list and offer a 10% discount for the first visit – whoopppeee! 

image image

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Did you know that over filling your car with oil can cause it to blow the engine? – no jokes!

A colleague has just had a horrible experience!  His car had just been in at a garage for a service and the oil had been replaced.  When he picked up the vehicle he noticed that the oil light was on and so he called the garage owner over and discussed the problem.  The garage owner decided that a top up of oil was required, so he called one of the mechanics to bring more oil.  Some oil was added but the light still didn’t go off.  By this stage, the oil dipstick read over the “full” mark and the garage owner told the mechanic to pour more in
The mechanic refused, saying that it was too full, but his boss was adamant that more oil was needed, so he ordered him to pour more.
The car was now full, the oil light was still on – but the light was explained away as “it needed to be reset, and he would do some research and call my colleague back.  But you can drive the car – no problem!”.
My colleague nervously agreed, but before leaving said something like: “(nervous agreement), I’ve had an engine blow on me before, so if anything happens, then it’s your responsibility to buy the spares and pay for the labour – everything!”

This was agreed, and he drove the car away with the oil light still burning brightly.

Needless to say, two days later, my colleague’s car’s engine seized and came to a grinding halt on the side of the road!

image   image

A few choice swear-words later.. he grabbed his cell phone and called the garage owner and explained the situation.  An obviously embarrassed garage owner apologised and made good his promise to fix the car.
He picked up the stranded family and is now ferrying them wherever they need to go: school, work, shopping, etc. until the car is fixed.

I would like to have seen that mechanic’s face when the car was towed back into the garage to be fixed!

Moral of the story: do NOT overfill the oil in your car – it could be very expensive!

Technical explanation:
From “If you put too much oil in the engine, it raises the oil level high enough that the crankshaft touches it.  The crankshaft will whip the oil, aerating it.  This air in the oil will destroy your engine bearings.  The bearings have a very thin layer of oil on them which keep the bearing and whatever the bearing is against from locking up.  The air will remove the oil layer from the bearing and the bearing will then rub against whatever engine part it is used for.  The bearing will then be shredded and metal parts will go about destroying your engine.  Moral of the story, don't over fill your oil.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Browse Freely to access those blocked sites anonymously

Browse Freely is a free, anonymous web proxy which allows you to surf the web while maintaining total anonymity.  Browse Freely is also capable of bypassing a great percentage of censorship and access control systems, allowing you to access blocked sites from schools and other (overly) restrictive environments.

Though Browse Freely was created as a tool for privacy and the free exchange of information, as well as an anti-censorship resource, we cannot be held responsible for any misuse of the system by malicious visitors. Browse Freely is offered as a free, "as-is" service without any guarantees, expressed or implied.


This address also works:

Thursday, 12 November 2009

If you want to zip something really small, then use bzip2

bzip2 is a freely available, patent free, high-quality data compressor.
imageI was amazed by the efficiency and speed.  In my tests I used a 10MB text file that compressed to 1MB using pkzip (set to maximum compression).
Running bzip2 resulted in a compressed file of 543Kb – that’s half the size – WOW!!!

From the home page: :
It typically compresses files to within 10% to 15% of the best available techniques (the PPM family of statistical compressors), whilst being around twice as fast at compression and six times faster at decompression.

Why would I want to use it?

  • Because it compresses well.  So it packs more stuff into your overfull disk drives, distribution CDs, backup tapes, USB sticks, etc. And/or it reduces your customer download times, long distance network traffic, etc. It's not the world's fastest compressor, but it's still fast enough to be very useful.
  • Because it's open-source (BSD-style license), and, as far as I know, patent-free. (To the best of tbzip2’s knowledge. Caveat emptor). So you can use it for whatever you like. Naturally, the source code is part of the distribution.
  • Because it supports (limited) recovery from media errors. If you are trying to restore compressed data from a backup tape or disk, and that data contains some errors, bzip2 may still be able to decompress those parts of the file which are undamaged.
  • Because you already know how to use it. bzip2's command line flags are similar to those of GNU Gzip, so if you know how to use gzip, you know how to use bzip2.
  • Because it's very portable. It should run on any 32 or 64-bit machine with an ANSI C compiler. The distribution should compile unmodified on Unix and Win32 systems. Earlier versions have been ported with little difficulty to a large number of weird and wonderful systems.
  • Because everybody else uses it too.

Download from here: 

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Downloading Skype: where’s the full install program?

I notice that Skype now allows you to download their “install” package that actually isn’t the full install program.  So, here’s a link to download the full package so that you can use it to install on multiple computers:
Skype 4.0: 
Skype 4.1:

This will download the full package and it’s currently about 20MB, and not 2.5MB for the “plain” installer package.
image  image

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Looking for a better program that doesn’t quite do it for you?

If you’re looking for a program that’s an alternate to one that you already use that gives you problems, or costs too much or… whatever the reason, then here’s a nifty web site that allows you to see if there are programs that do it for you better: AlternativeTo
It’s also a great way to find freeware programs that do the same.
From their web site:

We have one mission: helping you find the right software for your computer or mobile phone.  To do this we wanted to rethink the whole process of searching for apps.  No more browsing through categories with long lists of crappy software.
Based on our users’ recommendations, we list great alternatives to the applications you want to replace. By joining the site you can participate in the process of making these recommendations better, so please join in!

The web site allows you to search for a program xxx then if you click on the “Find alternatives to xxx” and then the alternatives are displayed - you can then filter the results by license (eg: free and opensource) or platform or by likes.
For example, searching alternative to Microsoft Outlook email client, and filtering by ‘free programs’ and for ‘Windows’ gives:
Windows Live Mail, eM Client, My Life Organized, Sylpheed, emClient, Spicebird, Zimbra Desktop, Mutt, Popcorn, IncrediMail
Click here for the full results page: alternatives to Microsoft Outlook

Another example: searching alternative to Skype
and filtering by ‘free programs’ and for ‘Windows’ gives:
Pidgin, Yahoo Messenger, Google Voice and Video chat, Ekiga, Gajim, Gizmo, Psi, Tpad, QuteCom, Voip Stunt, Tkabber, OpenWengo, Palringo, ooVoo.
Click here for the full results page: alternatives to Skype

Cheetah “frozen” in motion with Canon’s image stabiliser – what a photo!

I thought that this was a great marketing flyer sent out by Pinnacle Africa (formerly Pinnacle Micro) and Canon cameras!  What a clever idea to prop the cheetah up and make it “stable” – just like the image stabilizer would do :)
Now all I need, is to save up (about R9,400 incl. VAT)for that awesome looking camera bundle: the Canon EOS450D


Here’s another one: 

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Connecting your laptop to your TV (make your own SVideo to RCA cable)

I have a laptop with an S-Video output and I wanted to watch a DVD on my TV (that didn’t have an S-Video input), so I decided to make my own cable – the ones in the shops were over R150. 
See below for the wiring – you’ll need a ceramic capacitor in the wiring.
I thought that the S-Video plug would “carry” video signal and the audio – I was wrong – I needed 2 cables: 1 for the video and another for audio.
image {Thanks to for the images and diagrams pasted below – I wish I had them when I made my cables!}

Video cable:

Here’s an S-Video plug: image (plugged into the laptop’s S-Video output, and the TV end soldered onto a RCA jack and plugged into the video-in socket on the TV)

Here’s the RCA plug: image  

Here’s the wiring of the S-Video to RCA cable:

Pin S-Video

Description Pin RCA
1 Ground (Y) Ground
2 Ground (C) Ground
3 Y - Intensity (Luminance) Signal
4 C - Colour (Chrominance) Signal through 470pF Ceramic Capacitor
  • Larger capacitor values will also work, but cause picture to become "softer".
  • The impedances and signal levels not matched exactly right, but near enough to work acceptably.

Audio cable:
The audio cable had a small stereo jack on it and plugged into the laptop’s headphone jack, and the TV end had two RCA male connectors and plugged into the audio-in (“Left and Right”) sockets on the TV.
While investigating this article I Googled into which is an absolute mine of valuable information regarding pinouts of cables and connectors for all sorts of devices.  If you need to know how to wire up a connector or cable, then will be your last stop!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Anyone know what happened to "Since Last Payment" on Google AdSense? – Solved!

Have you noticed that Google AdSense have removed the revenue since ‘Last payment’ view in the ‘Reports->Overview’ page?  This information is actually available on the AdSense web site – but it’s in a slightly different format: if you login to your AdSense account and go to ‘My Account->Payment History’ then the amount shown is the running total of the amount due to you
imageThis will show you the amount that’s due to you. When the amount gets to R1,000, then payment will be made (ie: cheque sent to you), in the middle of the following month (see the bottom of the AdSense reports-payment page for an explanation).

This is quite an obscure way to show the current amount due – I preferred it in its old place – what do you think?

Here’s what the “since last payment” option looked like:

Update: Here’s another take on where the menu went: “The 'Since last payment' option will disappear for publishers who've recently updated to local currency reports.  However, this option will become available again after their first payment is issued.  From:

Get up to 15% discount at Woolworths – just buy a discounted gift voucher online, then use it at any Woolies store

You too can save at Woolworths stores all around South Africa by purchasing a Woolworths Gift Card online at the eBucks web site.  You do need an eBucks account, but you don’t need to have any eBucks – you can spend real cash (Rands) to buy the gift card – but be aware that the discount given is less (5%) than if you use your eBucks (15%).

Join FNB eBucks here: Join now

The gift cards on the eBucks web site are available in denominations of R50, R100 or R500 and the discounts are as follows:

Voucher eBucks Cash
R50 eB425=R42.50 (15%) R47.50 (5%)
R100 eB850=R85 (15%) R95 (5%)
R500 eB4,250=R425 (15%) R475 (5%)

 image imageimage 

Terms and Conditions:

  • This card is only exchangeable for merchandise and may not be redeemed for cash.
  • No cash change will be given
  • This card is valid for 12 months from the date of the last transaction on card.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Get SnagIt! free – no catches, no scam

Ashraf, the reviewer from GiveAwayOfTheDay has found another freebie: although SnagIt 7.2.5 isn’t the latest, it’s still a great screen capture and editing tool (I’m still using version 6.3.0).

See Ashraf’s site, “Professional Technologians” for detailed instructions on how to get the license key and download the software.


Try clicking on the other stars here for other freebies and discounts.  The descriptions are in French, but use Google translate to translate into your home language: Google Translate French to English

Thanks Ashraf!

Here’s another page of stars that I found with more freebies:

Click on 1 to get a registration key for: Ringtone Media Studio: customize your mobile phone at no extra cost!
- Create your own ringtones from CDs or MP3 files
- Create wallpapers from your own photos
- Assemble your video clips and transfer them to your mobile
Size: 16MB

Click on 2 to get: Chicken Attack Game

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Copyright © 2008 HandyTechTipper. All articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 South Africa license, unless where otherwise stated.