Da Good, De Bad ‘n Dem Ugly Ones

This post kicks off a new series about Great, Lousy and Downright Ugly software. Luckily, there aren’t too many of the last. But sadly plenty of the middle. But the guinea pig that I like to think of myself isn’t that stupid to crash a carefully configured computer with some of the lousy stuff. It may get installed but one whiff of ‘the stupids’ and its G-O-N-E.

Dem Ugly
NETEagle TCP Optimizer Configuration ScreenThe NETEagle TCP Optimizer was a disaster. First it needs the .Net Framework installed. And once setup, all you get is a screen where you select the Windows OS type (Win 9x/ME; WinNT/2000/2003/XP). Followed by the connection type. Next click the OK button to optimize your connection. This lack of an advanced view to show the changes to be made decided me against continuing. NETEagle was in. And two steps later was out forever. Leaving just a screen shot 🙂

Good News
TCP Optimizer changes these valuesBut all is not lost. You can still tweak your TCP settings with the free. And self-contained. SpeedGuide’s TCP Optimizer software. All you have to do is download and run it. It Displays the current settings, with an option to switch to optimum settings (based on IP connection speed and modem/LAN access type). There’s also a custom setting option where you can tweak individual values for MTU, RWIN, QoS and ToS/Diffserv prioritization. And before you apply the new settings, the entire list of registry-level changes is listed. With an option to backup the existing setup in case the update doesn’t do you any good.

TCP Optimizer is my favored TCP/IP configuration software. That I run on all new computers. If you’ve never used it. And do you’ll be surprised at the increase in lookup, browsing and download speed.

Totally Lousy
You read it here first (I hope). Stay A-W-A-Y from the new Ad-Aware 2007 Beta. It’s a large 12 MB download. And when installed gives you 5 days of trial1 To add insult to injury, it’s not better than any of the free anti-adware software available. Matter of fact it’s worse that its Ad-Aware 1.7 SE predecessor! This is one software I really regretted downloading. All it gets is an information link.

Best For Last
Foxit PDF Reader's sports a familiar interfaceAfter years of struggling with a really ancient copy of Adobe Acrobat 6 Professional. I decided to practice what I preached and use freeware instead. I’m really happy with the free Foxit PDF reader. This at under 2 MB is not only easy to acquire. But its Zipped version can be extracted and run without a complicated installation process.

PDF Creator really let's you customizeOf course the free Foxit PDF Reader doesn’t let you delete pages or remove security settings (even if you have the document password). And it keeps displaying a free advertisement (not visible in product screen shot) that you have to disable on a per-use basis. But overall this lightweight (resource-wise) is a heavyweight (application-wise). It’s also available for both Windows and Linux.

And in case you want more for less, a Googling reveals more free PDF readers.

Complementing your free PDF reader is the (also free) PDF Creator, a PDF printer driver with more features than Acrobat’s Distiller program! That you download and install to create PDFs from Microsoft Office documents, web pages, and any Windows application that supports a printer driver.

Interestingly you aren’t limited to PDFs. PDF Creator can also print to image formats such as PNG, JPG, TIFF, PS and EPS. Merge multiple .PS files into a single PDF. Send generated PDFs by email. Tag documents using multiple keywords for Author, computer name, user name, title, date/time, etcetera for easy classification and retrieval. And even you manage PDF document security (read, select text, edit, print).

That’s it for now. More later. Stay Safe ‘n Secure.

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