Member Written Mini-Reviews


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Basic Info

App NamepCloud
App URL if you wish to go direct, or
 if you want to give me a free GB and score a free GB for yourself by referral link.
App Version Reviewed3.5.8
RequirementsWindows XP-Windows 10 (Tested on Windows 10), MacOS (doesn't say which versions), Linux (64/32-bit), Microsoft Store, iOS, Google Play, Download the APK
Support Methodshttps://www.pcloud.c...general-help-center/ and
Pricing SchemeFree for 10-20GB.  Currently have a lifetime plan $125 for Premium, or $250 for premium plus.  $4.99/mo or $9.99/mo respectively normally. https://www.pcloud.c...e-pricing-plans.html


With the largest players removing the ability to have personal folders and share easily, I've been wondering the options.  I like Project Send (which I reviewed), but I don't want to go through setting that up in all instances.  Someone whom I support via Patreon sent me a link, and I was impressed at how transparent it all was.  So I looked into pCloud.  Still not totally sold, but I'm willing to give it a try because of the cool features.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Tabs Outliner for Chrome

Screenshot - 2015-06-17 , 15_14_16.png
'Tabs Outliner' is an addon for Chrome:
"The next generation session manager; a really working too many open tabs solution; and your browsing notebook."

App NameTabs Outliner
App URLChrome Webstore: https://chrome.googl...mamlbiijnphhppkpkmkl
App Version Reviewed0.4.81
Test System Specsa very basic win.8.1 x64 laptop with 4GB ram
Supported OSesTested on Win.7 & 8 (I presume any OS that can run Chrome)
Support Methodsvia Chrome-store link above and there's also a google group
Pricing SchemeFree/donation-ware
Author Donation Linkcant find...
Screencast Video URL
Relationship btwn. Reviewer and Product None

This is a first look at Tabs Outliner Addon/Extension for Chrome.
I moved recently from Firefox to Chrome and was looking for a replacement for Session Manager addon. Tabs Outliner [TO] is very different, and a lot more powerful, but it also covers Session saving in it's own way, and could be used as a bookmarks manager.
To cut to the chase: I love it so far, it's helped my browsing to become a lot more organised without too much effort
 :up: :up: :up: :up: :up:

Tabs Outliner will open a second window showing it's outline of webpages. Sticking with the outline approach, I call this a 'pane'.

Screenshot - 2015-06-17 , 15_14_16.png

If you open say three Chrome windows, they will show as an outline in Tabs Outliner: within that pane, you can drag pages from one window to another; close tabs so they will be remembered; close/delete tabs completely.

FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPT: it is important to understand that (initially at any rate) what is closed outside of Tabs Outliner is lost/gone/forgotten - and what is closed from within Tabs Outliner is saved.

Windows can be renamed within the outline (from the default "Window").
Once they are renamed, they will be saved - so closing them via Chrome itself is okay. The caveat above still remains for tabs though: any tabs closed from within the browser window will be deleted from Tabs Outliner.

When you reopen Chrome, and open TO:
  • double-click a tab or window will open same
  • Ctrl+single-click will open a copy of the tab in the last active Chrome window

the toolbar is more like a box and is always on top (even though it disappears) in the bottom right of the pane. This can lead to confusion if you are dragging an entry down to a window that is actually behind the toolbox - but the full line is active so you can drag to bottom right.
I havent used the tools that much:
  • (new) Window
  • Group
  • Separator
  • (create) Note
  • Google Docs
  • Clone View (I *think* it just clones selected window)
  • Undo scroll (stop it jumping to e.g. newly created window)
  • Scroll up to next open window
  • Close/Save all open windows
  • Expand all (/Collapse all) - e.g. for searching, also for saving all as export/backup

NOTES (within outline):
Notes can be added to the outline, and used hierarchically. The notes in this image start with a '#'

Screenshot - 2015-06-17 , 16_37_55.png

click once on the notes button - a note will appear down at the very bottom of the outline list. I nearly always want it in the active window - to do this click on the note icon in toolbar, and drag it to desired location.

NOTES DIRECTLY FROM WEBTEXT: highlighting text on a webpage, and dragging it to the outline will create a note with the text.

I went with recommended settings in options (probably worth reading through it to see possibilities.

works with Chrome portable and SRWare Iron portable.

I think this not supported yet - but I dont use (login-)syncing in Chrome so dont know if that works.

backup is important (after my first couple of days with Iron portable I upgraded Iron and lost all extensions, so I was straight in the deep end).
According to the author simply saving the contents of the pane (as a html file) will work as a backup. But I dont know how to restore that. There is a much more detailed description from the author of how to restore via profile (my emphasis):
I decide to provide some other algorithm to surely load TO database from other PC.

0) check the chrome://version/ page to find a path to your current Chrome profile (Profile Path field)

then intall the TO (if it's not installed already) and then completely shut down Chrome (on a Windows PC without this
you will not be able to delete some files that you will need to delete on next steps)


1) Delete all next files and folders from the current Chrome profile

"\Local Storage\chrome-extension_eggkanocgddhmamlbiijnphhppkpkmkl_0.localstorage"

"\Local Storage\chrome-extension_eggkanocgddhmamlbiijnphhppkpkmkl_0.localstorage-journal"



"\File System"

Please backup the \File System folder before delete, as it might contain data from other Chrome applications, and also it's contain the readable backups of the Tabs Outliner tree - so if you do so on a system that previously have the TO it's a must to backup this folder.

2) Restore your TO database in the
The content of this folder must not contain any other subfolders.

3) Start Chrome, start TO - it must read the database.

If this not hapen, because the database is corrupted for example, then there is a way to restore tree by backups from \File System folder on source PC.

Logitech G910 Keyboard Review

Website: http://gaming.logite...gaming-keyboard-g910
MSR Price: $179.99

The Logitech G910 Keyboard, dubbed the 'Orion Spark', immediately caught my attention.  I've long before standardized on the Logitech series of peripherals after vacillating between several brands, and now have the Logitech G13 Keypad, G930 Wireless Headphones, G710+ Keyboard, and G602 mouse.  I have several other Logitech peripherals also- they've been pretty reliable with dependable and easy to use software (that comes into play later), and features that fully leverage the uses of the peripheral in question.

In general, because of my use of the G13, I don't really use the keyboard for anything but chatting/typing and anything I couldn't fit on my profile.  But for development, I've found that the feel of the gaming keyboards is better suited than most of the non-gaming class keyboards.  So I didn't really have that many needs or expectations going into this.  The primary things I liked were the lighting options, the romer-g switches, and the Arx control integration.  The Arx control is an app that you download on your Android or iOS device, and it communicates with your devices attached to your computer, to show layouts of controls, resources of the computer, and even control the launching of games and such.  It divorces the UI elements that they've been trying to integrate into devices from the device itself, which I thought was a good idea.

Unboxing, the G910 seemed a bit flimsy in construction compared to the G710+.  The G710+ feels really solid, and like it's built to last for years, the G910 hails back to the more flimsy construction of prior lower end keyboards like the G15.  It has only one cord, which was better than the G710+, but it has no passthroughs, so that explains the simpler connections.  But as I've never used passthroughs, that wasn't a concern.  Connecting it was a breeze as usual, but then I found that it didn't show up in my Logitech Gaming Software. After some research online, I found that they had made several updates to the gaming software, and one of them introduced the G910, so that made sense.  Downloading it, I ran into my first problem.  The site didn't let me download the 64-bit version of the software, and the 32 bit version won't install on a 64-bit system.  After some research, I found that it was mirrored on another site because this has apparently been a problem on the Logitech site for a few months now.  Troubling, but at least I got the software.

The software was all it said it was and more.  You could customize it to the nth degree- both hardware and software uses.  It added functionality to my already installed peripherals.  And the ability to light up regions on the keyboard in different colors based on the game profile- it made me think of using my keyboard more and my G13 less.


The keys are strangely shaped, but I became used to it quickly- they have a beveled area in the center of the key, which really helps to increase my typing speed strangely enough, and give feedback that my finger is positioned in the key.  The switches themselves, I didn't notice much difference between them and cherry MX brown keys.  They do have an o-ring around each key, which gives a bit of dead space when the key is clicked, which I don't really like as I love the clickiness of mechanical keyboards, but I got used to it.

It seemed the perfect keyboard, but as time went on, I began to become less enamored.  It was more a function of the software update rather than the keyboard itself however.  

As I stated, you can program the game to respond to the profile that you have loaded, and color keys according to that profile.  But in the case that you aren't gaming, you have to go into the software and switch it from profile lighting scheme to  another scheme, or all of your keys won't be lit-up.  An annoyance, but with the SDK I knew I could program something that would take care of this, and it was pretty well detailed and simple, even if I was going to have to do a refresher on LUA as the scripting language uses it.

The larger issue was the memory usage/footprint.  Normally it ranges around 40M to 70M or so with the UI open for LCore.exe- the main program.  I was playing a game, and the game was all of a sudden responding less after an extended gaming session.  The LCore process was using 4GB(!) of RAM.  I found several references, both on their forums and on other outlets to this- it has been a problem since build 145 was released last year.  One was even in a review, though it didn't affect the final score as "they have to fix it at some point".  Apparently not, as they've barely acknowledged it, and refer you to a user workaround, which is a stopgap measure, and disables the use of the Arx control and resets your lighting profiles each time you use it.

I've also tried my own workarounds- one was using Process Governor (great app, by the way) to limit the amount of memory that it could allocate.  I figured it would catch it, close, and I could just restart it.  It doesn't handle out of memory exceptions at all, and crashed my computer 3x before I gave up on that approach.  So I tried to create a batch file that would use pskill to kill it on demand, and then restart it.  Apparently, after restarting it, the memory leak is even worse, because I've noticed that actually starting the process, I can watch it gobble memory.  As a last resort, I coded something to use the memory level to trigger the restart, but that's when I found out how bad the memory leak actually was- once it starts getting higher in usage, the scale of memory loss is not a standard progression, and so it would shoot past my set limit before I could do anything about it.

I really love the keyboard.  But the software is killing it.  I'm comntemplating whether to return it (it was a gift, so doing so involves more than just taking it back), or just hoping that they fix the software eventually.  My personal verdict?  Give it a pass for now.

Reference to threads:


MiniReview: ProjectSend

Basic Info

App NameProjectSend
App Version Reviewedr561
Requirementsphp 5.2 and MySQL 5 or better - Apache 2 is recommended, though it should work on IIS
Support MethodsForums -
Pricing SchemeGNU GPL v2 - donations accepted by paypal.


Several times I've had pretty technically inept clients (friends) that want to send me files to do things with, or I want to get files to.  And in many cases, its a recurring theme.  With gmail pushing drive so files getting secured and not attached to e-mails and other avenues being either hard to use, or pay to use- not to mention, it's not hosted on your servers- it's hard to find something that just works.

Enter ProjectSend.  ProjectSend is a self-hosted application (you can install it easily on your own VPS or shared web hosting account) that lets you upload files and assign them to specific clients that you create yourself! Secure, private and easy. No more depending on external services or e-mail to send those files!

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Board Game Micro-review: Wits and Wagers

Today's board game microreview is for "Wits and Wagers".

Wits and Wagers is a very clever mixture of trivia, betting, and social interaction.  It's fast to play, super easy for anyone, and easily supports 7 players or more with teams.

Gameplay works essentially like this:  On each round a trivia question is read that has a numerical answer.  All players (teams) write down their answer on a dry erase card, and then all answers are laid out in numerical order.  At this point, everyone can bet on which answers are correct.  In this way, even if you have no idea what the answer is, you have a chance to bet on the answers from people who you think might know.

The social element of seeing what answers others gave, and how confident they are, and the range of answers -- is all quite fun.  And the strategy and risk taking of betting your accumulated chips is very fun.

I've played this twice now with large groups -- the first time was fun but not magical; the second time -- playing with people i didn't know well, was extremely fun.

Highly recommended if you have a large group of adults.  There are special editions for families and kids (though i think it works better with adults).

Board Game Micro-review: Telestrations

Another party board game mini-review, this time for a game called "Telestrations".

telestrat.jpg telestrat2.jpg

Telestrations is a light-hearted drawing game that works similarly to the kids game of "Telephone".  Each player gets a secret word (or phrase), and tries to draw it.  They then pass along their pad clockwise to the next player who looks at the picture they drew, and tries to guess (in words) a description what it is a drawing of.  Then that player passes along the pad clockwise and the recipient draws a picture of the description that the previously player wrote.  So as each pad goes around the circle, it becomes a sequence of drawing, description, drawing, description, etc..

After each pad has gone around the circle, players take turns becoming the center of attention and showing off the sequence of drawings and descriptions in their pad while everyone else laughs at how wrong things went.

The best part of this game is that the worst artists create the most fun.  Children will especially enjoy being the center of attention as people enjoy the mayhem.

It's a pure fun game that should work well for any group, has tons of laughs, and is great for kids of all ages.  Highly recommended.

The normal edition supports up to 8 players; there is a "party pack" that goes up to 11 or 12.

RIPT (Ript) shareable scrapbook-clipping programme - Mini-Review

RIPT - 00 very small.jpg
Originally posted:2014-04-15
Last updated2014-04-15

Basic Info
App NameRIPT - 00 very small.jpg  RIPT (shareable scrapbook-clipping program)
Thumbs-Up Rating :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:
App Version ReviewedRIPT v.0.5.0218 (Freeware, 2007)
Test System SpecsWindows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
Supported OSesWindows
Support MethodsNone. (OBSOLETE product)
Upgrade PolicyNot applicable.
Trial Version Available?Freeware
Pricing SchemeNot applicable.

Intro and Overview:
RIPT is a shareable (with other RIPT users) scrapbook-clipping program.
I thought I'd publish a review of this forgotten, elegant program for those who (like me) might find an occasional - if not frequent - use for it. I don't really need it now, as I tend to use:

Continue reading the rest of the entry and discuss..

Micro-review: Scapple

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I LOVE this program.  For me, it is the perfect brainstorming tool I've always been looking for.

It's easy to change the look of each element.  It's easy to put background shapes around a selection of elements.  It can export easily as images, pdf, whatever.  You don't need a "center" like most mindmaps.  It's easy to link things together with lines or arrows.  It's easy to do simple alignments of elements.

I've been looking for something like this for years.  I tried a whole bunch.  Things like Personal Brain are too fancy and complicated.  Mindmaps never worked for me at all.  Visio is too much and too hard to do simple things.  I settled on Edge Diagrammer (thanks mouser!) for a while because it was the easiest of those flowchart tools to use.  Regular notetakers and outliners are not freeform enough for brainstorming.

 :up: :up:

Continue reading the rest of the entry and discuss..

Review of Zeus Edit

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Zeus Edit Review

Basic Info:
App NameZeus for Windows Programmer's Editor
App Version Reviewed3.97o 32-bit
Test System SpecsWindows 7 64-bit/Visual Studio 2010
Supported OSesWindows XP/Vista/7 32-bit and 64-bit/8 32-bit and 64-bit
Support MethodsE-mail, FAQ, Forums
Pricing Scheme$89.95 - A lite version is also available for gratis
Trial Version Available? Yes, 45-day no limitations.
Upgrade PolicyPoint in time upgrade scheme, detailed below by the developer.  45% discount available for further upgrades.
Reviewer Donation Link wraith808

Zeus is billed as a programmer's editor, but that is selling it short.  It is a text based IDE in the vein of SlickEdit and UltraEdit Studio.  It is fully scriptable, keyboard centric, fully customizable, and includes throwbacks to hardcore programming like Brief, WordStar, Epsilon, and Emacs keyboard emulation.  It supports visual studio solutions (in addition to it's own workspace format), has built in source control integration for Subversion and TFS, and a variety of other features.  In fact, there are so many features, that I'm going to have to break this review up into separate parts.

Review Notes
Many people swear by Visual Studio as an IDE, and I do like what Microsoft has done with it.  But it takes a while to start up, uses a lot of memory, and is prone to crashes.  I love SlickEdit, but over time, I've had to pare down, and I just haven't been able to justify the extravagant expense to use such an editor.  So, I've stuck with Visual Studio, and just used text editors to support it.  I discovered Zeus, and the price is right, and the feature set is right- I'm just hoping that it lives up to the hype on the site.

Click here to read the full review now..

Qiqqa - Reference Management System - Mini-Review

Basic Info
App NameQiqqa - 00 logo (copy).jpg (FREE version)
Thumbs-Up Rating :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:

On 2012-11-04, I made this comment in a discussion thread Re: organize data for research
...[Reference Management software: There is good software in this category that could be seriously useful in research work. For example:
- so this is the belated review of Qiqqa.

Summary description of Qiqqa:
Qiqqa contains everything you essentially need for the five stages of commercial or academic research work/projects:
  • 1. Organize
  • 2. Discover
  • 3. Review
  • 4. Collaborate
  • 5. Create

Most of these projects require collecting and reading a large number of papers or "knowledge items" - sometimes thousands of documents. The sheer volume of these documents can sometimes make it difficult to work with them, sift through them, and keep things under control.
Qiqqa was designed with this task in mind, and it has these main features to help you keep those documents under control and to keep your knowledge expanding coherently:
  • 1. Comprehensive PDF document management.
  • 2. The ability to import documents to the Qiqqa library/database.
  • 3. OCR of imaged documents, with capture of text contained in any imaged PDF documents.
  • 4. Automatic collection/creation of metadata for the documents.
  • 5. "Super Tag" functionality to categorise and cross-reference your document content.
  • 6. Sophisticated Find/Search functionality.
  • 7. Ability to export the contents of your Qiqqa library/database.
  • 8. Knowledge analysis/discovery.
  • 9. Research web browser.
  • 10. Brainstorming (Mindmaps).
  • 11. Knowledge-linking.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Google Reader - Mini-Review

Google Reader - 01 Reader view.png
Originally posted:2012-12-16
Last updatedN/A

Basic Info
App NameGoogle Reader
(Online RSS feed-reader or "news-reader".)
Thumbs-Up Rating :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:  :down:
App Version ReviewedThis is a free online, browser-based, service, and the version is always "latest".
Test System SpecsMS Win 7-64 Home Premium, using latest Firefox browser.
Supported OSesAny web browser.
Support MethodsHelp: is via Google help forum.
Trial Version Available?N/A
Pricing SchemeN/A - is a $FREE service only.

Intro and Overview:
I thought it might be helpful/useful to post this review, as it could potentially save people a lot of time (if they were not already using a feed-reader).
There are some discussions in the DC Forum that refer to Google Reader, and these two seem most relevant:

If you don't want to have to spend time wading through the often confusing mass or clutter on a website in order to read something of interest, then you can subscribe to posts on the website, or comments in a forum (e.g., including the DC Forum) without having to post something and requesting email notification of responses - as you normally would have to do.
To do this, you have to subscribe for yourself rather than expect the website to do it for you. For example, I have been doing this for several forums and blog sites for years, including the DC Forum.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

SysExporter - (Screen-scraping) Export data from Windows controls - Mini-Review

SysExporter - 01 sysexp + Windows update history(800).png
Originally posted:2012-11-16
Last updated2012-11-16

Basic Info
App NameSysExporter
(Export data from Windows controls)
Thumbs-Up Rating :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:
App Version Reviewed$FREE 64-bit version (v1.61). There is also a 32-bit version (v1.61)
Test System SpecsMS Win 7-64 Home Premium
Supported OSesCompatible with Win 64-bit/32-bit.
Support MethodsDownload and Support:[/url]
Help file: comes with the software.
Upgrade PolicyUpgrades are $FREE and loaded to the above website.
Trial Version Available?$FREE - as reviewed in this review. (PayPal Donations accepted)
There is no PAID version.
Pricing Scheme$FREE version only.

Intro and Overview:
There is a general problem in Windows OSes - one that has been a continuing source of frustration to me and probably many others - that many System and application displays often contain really useful data that is effectively "protected" from being copied/used.
I had been looking for a way to capture the data from the Windows update history display (this is on a laptop with Win7-64), to put into a database, so that I could analyse the history for failed updates. Looking through the display manually was becoming a tedious experience due to its functional limitations, and I wanted to automate/filter the analysis as much as possible.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Logitech Wireless Gaming Headset G930 - Mini-Review

Logitech G930 headset 01.png
Basic Info
App NameLogitech Wireless Gaming Headset G930
App URLhttp://www.logitech....headsets-phones/7248
App Version Reviewed(Not applicable.)
Test System SpecsMS Win 7-64 Home Premium
Supported OSesCompatible with Win 64-bit/32-bit.
Support MethodsDownload and Support via the above Logitech link.
Handbook (US-Eng.) "Getting Started" is here.
Upgrade Policy(Not applicable.)
Trial Version Available?(Not applicable.)
Pricing SchemeAround US$90 - $100 from Amazon.

Intro and Overview:
This review follows on from the DCF thread started on 2010-10-20 by @mouser:
 Glowing web review of Logitech G930 wireless headset
I did at first start to update that thread, but then realised that it was a bit old, so I have done this Mini-Review instead.

Becoming fed up with the leads into my laptop being yanked about whenever I stood up wearing my noise-cancelling headphones whilst forgetting that they were plugged in to my laptop, I decided that I really needed a decent wireless Hi-Fi headset - one that included a mic - and so I ended up deciding to trial and buy the G930 (at a reduced price). My decision was largely based on this PC Mag review: Logitech Wireless Gaming Headset G930.
(Review dated September 26, 2011.)
Short story: (follow the hyperlink for the full review)
Long range. High-quality audio output. Handy controls on the headset. Can be used while charging.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Rarma Radio (Raimersoft) - Mini-Review

Basic Info
App Name(Freeware)
App Version ReviewedCurrent freeware version 2.68.2
Test System Specs.Key Features:
  • Search for and select Internet-streamed radio stations from around the world.
  • Select, sort, manage station Favourites.
  • Select/set some stations as presets for speed of access.
  • Select several stations to stream simultaneously as a grouped "Session". (Like saving a set of tabs in a browsing session, to restart as a set at a later point.)
  • Stream and record multiple stations simultaneously, whilst listening to another station.
  • Uses streamed station data (where present) to collect station logo and album cover art for currently streaming sessions, and song lyrics.
  • Can record either a station stream or just a currently playing song (if the stream data defines the latter).
  • Has facility to create a schedule for automatic recording.
  • Displays station stream information.
  • Displays cover art and lyrics for each song.
  • Can also connect to Internet TV stations.
  • Shutdown timer.
  • Dynamic boost.
  • Splitting files.
  • Playlist files.
Supported OSesWindows 7 is the only one mentioned, but I presume XP would be OK, except maybe not for TV channel viewing.
Support MethodsEmail: Website says "If you need to get in touch then please send an email to:"
Upgrade PolicyFree updates. Check for newer versions from the Help menu.
Other Versions Available?RarmaRadio title.png
Pricing SchemeFreeware

A very nice Internet streamed radio/TV manager, and set up for easy find, capture and play.
A simple GUI belying its relatively extensive functionality and a comprehensive set of tools.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Hard Disk Sentinel PRO - Mini-Review

HDSentinel 01 - Overview tab.png
Basic Info

App NameHard Disk Sentinel PRO
App Version ReviewedFreeware Trial version then to paid PRO Version 3.70 (as at 2012-02-03)
Test System SpecsComparison table of features between different versions (Trial, Standard, Professional, Enterprise) is here.
Detailed features are listed here.
Supported OSesWindows XP/2003/Vista/7/2008 32/64 bit
Support Methods
  • FAQ
  • Complete Help
  • Hardware Compatibility (index, details)
  • Knowledge Base
  • Discussion Board
  • Driver Zone (index, details) HDS seems to be able to cover all sorts of disk interfaces and hardware - e.g., including IDE, S-ATA, SCSI, RAID controllers, disk enclosures, USB and other external devices.[/size]
Upgrade PolicyAutomatic free upgrades for free Trial and for paid PRO versions.
Trial Version Available?Yes. Features are detailed here.
Pricing SchemeI started to use the free Trial version in December 2010.
I purchased the paid PRO version in March 2011.
At time of purchase, HDS PRO had a 20% discount coupon (2011-03-18) applicable to purchases of trial downloads. (The Trial is just a hobbled version of the PRO, and the full functionality is enabled on entry of the registration key.)
 - Full price: US$35.00
 - Purchased at 20% discount: US$28
(I did not obtain the price for the Enterprise version as I was not interested in it at the time.)

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Harvest: Massive Encounter - A unique, moddable, indie Tower Defense game.

Somebody gifted me a copy of Harvest: Massive Encounter back in July and I was so busy I forgot all about it. I just found it in my Steam Library a couple days ago and after looking into the details and remembering it was a Tower Defense game I decided to try it out for the first time.

Made by Oxeye Game Studio (with a programmer who also works with Mojang on Minecraft), Harvest: Massive Encounter is different from other TD games I've played... Here's how the game is different from other TD games I've played before:

First of all, aliens don't travel along a pre-defined path; they attack from all sides and can destroy any building. This changes the strategy compared to typical TDs where the only strategy is only building placement (to block off paths or create bottlenecks) or when/what to upgrade next. In fact, the more I think about it, I suppose that Harvest is more similar to a simplified RTS. You don't get money just from killing aliens. You need to build harvesters to grab the minerals sitting around on the surface of the planet. Also, there's another resource besides money you have to worry about: Power. Every building you build requires not only money to buy, but power to build and in most cases power needs to be regularly replenished (e.g. your harvester will power down after mining a few times and needs a recharge before it can harvest anymore).

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

King of Tokyo: A Board Game Mini-Review

My review today is for King of Tokyo:

I learned about King of Tokyo from the Cracked LCD Review of it by Michael Barnes and the review on Drake's Flame, which I recommend you go check out.

When Michael said it was a simple game with lots of theme, that was one of the best board games of 2011 -- I just had to try it. And I'm glad I did -- It's exactly what I'm looking for in a game -- a fast fun experience that is easy to learn and a pure pleasure to play.  It's a great game.

It was designed by the same guy who created Magic the Gathering (Richard Garfield).  The artwork is out of this world, cartoon monster styled -- and the components are really fun to look at and read and use.  It's got a big stack of cards that are phenomenal.

I won't go into the rules, you can read them on the Board Game Geek site or the Cracked LCD review I linked to above.  Basically each player controls a monster and they fight to stay alive and gain victory points. Gameplay is fast and furious and there is a lot of luck involved.  But always tricky choices to make and tension and surprise around every corner.  We had a huge amount of fun talking during the game and enjoying watching the process unfold.

This game really worked for me in an area where games often fail for me -- and that is with the rule-changing cards.  King of Tokyo comes with a large deck of (beautifully illustrated) cards that give players special powers and change the (simple) base ruleset.  In many games that use this idea of rule-changing cards, the rules on the cards are long and complicated and are hard to absorb and incorporate.  But King of Tokyo does it so well -- with just minor changes, and perfect themeing -- it just works.

Final rating: 10 out of 10 if you are interested in a quick fun game with people who are learning for the first time.

Click here to read more Micro Reviews of Board Games From a Non-Competetive Perspective

Re: Micro Reviews of Board Games From a Non-Competetive Perspective: Spot It

It's been too long since I posted a new board/card game mini-review, so here's a quickie.

This is my mini-review of a card game for young kids called "Spot It".

I learned about Spot It from my favorite board game review video series by Tom Vassel:

Tom's daughter Melody is a real gamer and she and tom both liked the game.

I thought it might be perfect for my niece during a family visit I took last week, and it was.  Turns out everyone in the family enjoyed it, even my parents.

It's a light game where you are trying to quickly match symbols on the cards.  There are actually several variations you can play, which adds some variety.  We invented a couple of additional variations, including one that used the cards to play go-fish which i think worked quite well.

I'd give this one a 9 out of 10 in the category of quick family games for playing with young children under 10.

Someone mentioned a similar game called "Set", which has won many awards.  Set is definitely in the same vein of identifying similar cards.. and has some more sophisticated elements to it.  I tried Set a while ago but found it completely unfun to play and too taxing on my brain.

Side note: This game can actually be fascinating for the mathematicians in the family and some of us found ourselves deep in thought about the algorithm used to create the cards.  You see the cards are such that: Each card has 8 symbols on it, from a collection of over 50 symbols.  There are 55 cards.  Each card has one and only one match with every other card.  It's not at all trivial to come up with an algorithm that achieves that, or to answer questions such as how many cards can you make given N unique symbols with M symbols on each card..

Subjot - My New Twitter but It may Not be for You

Basic Info

Subjot is a Topic based Twitter except it's not. It's part Quora, part forum, part Plurk (comments, not interface) and part Friendfeed (cross-posts to Twitter/FB only)

What's in it for Twitter users:

It doesn't have an external application that I know of but your homepage design is all Twitter with the extra options not really getting in your way.


No retweet

No hashtag (although it has a better list system in-site but that doesn't get imported when posting to Twitter)

No notification of when someone mentions your username (although it has the same notification Quora uses which is much more powerful for when people you know replies back to you)

No saved searches

No auto-url shortening
What's in it for Facebook users:

The service still relies on inviting your friends into using it but you don't have to follow their every status updates. Just the ones you want to know about them.


No privacy. Right now all posts are public.

What's in it for Plurk users:

Same micro-blogging goodness that includes a comment system.


It definitely has no similarity to Plurk's interface.

What's in it for those who have avoided social networks?

Currently it has a nice community. Even the developer is all over the place talking to users publicly in the comments.

Initially the interface may seem scary but it has the feel of a forum. In some parts superior, in some parts inferior.

The limited character count for example is adapted from Twitter but unlike Twitter it has a higher character count.

It may also not allow for titles but subjects are like turning Titles into Twitter streams. Say... you write a mini-review. You can create a mini-review subject and every post you write under mini-review will go there. It is also your own exclusive forum category. Others may make the same title but both of your contents don't cross-post unless people follow both of you.

There's also no direct image hosting or formatting but the textbox is smart. Direct image links show images. Youtube links embed videos.

Click here to read the full mini-review and add your comments..

Quick Review: Ghostery - Best blocker I've used since JunkBuster

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I have been interested in maintaining my web privacy for years, wishing to defend myself from the continuing and increasing assault on that privacy, from the advertisers and the Google and other ad-click giants.
So, yesterday out of interest, I downloaded the Ghostery add-on that works in:
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Chrome/Chromium
  • Opera
  • IE
(I am using it in Firefox and Chromium.)

I was so impressed with the initial results after installing it that I posted a review and gave it a 5-star vote:
Best blocker I've used since JunkBuster - Rated 5 out of 5 stars.
Great add-on! Since 1997 I had used JunkBuster to keep the junk out of my browsing and minimise bandwidth utilisation. It worked very well, up until the time when the JunkBuster project was abandoned. I later moved to Ad-Block Plus, then added NoScript, but they were never quite enough, and I have long missed having the fine degree of control over my web browsing that JunkBuster was able to provide me with.
However, with the addition of Ghostery, I think I have nearly got back to the degree of control I had in 1997 - 15 years ago.
Sadly, that is *NOT* a measure of progress.   :-(

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Review of VistaDB

VistaDb Review

Basic Info:
App NameVistaDB Embedded Database Engine
App Version Reviewed4.1 32-bit
Test System SpecsWindows 7 32-bit/Visual Studio 2010
Supported OSesWindows XP/Vista/7 32-bit and 64-bit
Support MethodsE-mail, Knowledgebase, Chat, Forums
Pricing Scheme$1295 Site License, Royalty Free, though mISV pricing is available.
Trial Version Available? Yes, 30-day no limitations.
Upgrade PolicyFree updates for new builds of the same version.  Support Subscriptions available.
Reviewer Donation Link wraith808

VistaDB is an embedded, single assembly SQL-based database engine for .NET.  VistaDB is highly compatible with SQL Server, down to the ability to execute T-SQL against the database, and utilize native data types and stored procedures.  It has full compatibility with Visual Studio 2008/2010, and allows utilization of CLR procs and triggers, utilizing a fully managed and typesafe c# architecture.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Not-so-mini review of CrashPlan backup software

CrashPlan is yet another entry in the increasingly crowded online backup marketplace. Pricing is competitive, they offer unlimited online backup storage space, and they have a "family plan" that allows up to 10 computers for a single account. Seen as simply another cloud backup option they are appealing enough, but there are some important additional features that may make CrashPlan more appealing to the power user and/or those particularly concerned about data redundancy.

In particular CrashPlan distinguishes itself by providing both local and off-site backup, supporting a large number of platforms, and having a free version that supports unlimited backup size to local devices..

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Android apps micro reviews

Last December I switched from a Windows Mobile to an Android phone. This opened up the exciting and vast world of apps and widgets to me. In the past three months I've looked at many apps and widgets, tried some, read about others, tried to find the best ones fitting my needs.

Here I present a selection of apps which I find most useful describing them with a few words only. All the apps presented here are either free or quite cheap.

If you're using an app other than the ones I present here that cover the same or similar functionality or if you'd like to have more information on any of these apps please let me know.

Note: phitsc also posted some Android widget micro reviews.

Click here to read the Android App Mini-Reviews now..

Micro-Reviews: Android widgets


Last December I switched from a Windows Mobile to an Android phone. This opened up the exciting and vast world of apps and widgets to me. In the past three months I've looked at many apps and widgets, tried some, read about others, tried to find the best ones fitting my needs.

Here I present a selection of widgets which I find most useful describing them with a few words only. All of the widgets presented here are either free or very cheap.

If you're using widgets other than the ones I present here that cover the same or similar functionality or if you'd like to have more information on any of these widgets please let me know.

Click here to read the full thing and discuss..

Bringing the computer into PnP RPGaming - A Roundup of Software


Recently, I found out that a lot of my friends at work like to game- and not just video games!  I hadn't played in several years, though I've still collected the books for 'some day'.  The concensus was to play Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition.  That wouldn't have been my first choice, but I found that I liked it after playing- gave the standard RPG some tactical options that hadn't been available before, and made 1st level characters something akin to a protagonist from a fantasy novel rather than just a target awaiting an unlucky critical before he ever had a chance to develop.  Anyone who's played a first level wizard with d4 hit points knows what I mean.

After a bit, the DM started getting a bit tired of running his campaign and wanted to play, so I stepped in and said I would DM the Dark Sun campaign which being remade for 4th edition.  But I knew that I didn't want to go through the standard preparations that I formerly took- I just didn't have the time since I was older, with more responsibilities.  So I looked to a computerized way to run my game...

Click here to read the full thing and add your comments..

Mini-Review: Lipsum text generator

App NameLipsum
App Version Reviewed2.0 for Windows
Pricing SchemeLipsum is free.


Virtually any designer who works much with text will be familiar with Lorem ipsum which is filler text frequently used in page layouts. Lipsum expands on this and generates meaningless filler text that a designer can use to populate layouts for typographical work, web pages, etc. This dummy content gives a good view of how the layout will look, regardless of subject matter.

Who is this app designed for:

Anyone working with layouts that will ultimately be filled with meaningful text. In this circumstance, it is useful to deploy text that has no particular meaning, the purpose being to see whether the layout itself will be pleasing to the eye, properly balanced and so forth.

The Good

Lipsum will use text already on the clipboard if so desired. More importantly it also comes pre-populated with a variety of texts (including Lorem ipsum). Thanks to a very simple, relatively unobtrusive interface, with a few large buttons, one can choose quickly whether to use text from the clipboard or any one of the preset texts. Further, one can choose the number of paragraphs to generate as well as the length of those paragraphs. Another useful benefit is the ability to generate texts in a variety of languages. The chosen text is then sent to the clipboard  for easy pasting into the layout under construction.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

MiniReview: "Fileminimizer Pictures" compression tool

Interface (FILEminimizer).jpg
Basic Info

App NameFILEminimizer Pictures from balesio
App URLhttp://www.balesio.c...ctures/eng/index.php
App Version Reviewed3.0 (free version)
Trial Version Available?This is a free version. Commercial use is not allowed.


Compression tool for JPG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG and EMF images

Who is this app designed for:

Those who have large collections of images and who want to reduce storage requirements.
Those who move images, or versions of images, across the web in some manner (posting to collections, email, etc.)

The Good

Simple interface:
  • collect files for compression by browsing or by drag and drop
  • handles individual files or batches of files
  • facilitates emailing of compressed files (compress and email in one step)
  • pre-set compression levels for those wanting a little help
  • custom compression levels for those with specific levels in mind
  • optional context menu entry

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Mini-Review: Clock-on-Desktop from Positbolt Software

Basic Info

App NameClock-on-Desktop from Positbolt Software
App Version ReviewedExtended Edition


Clock-on-Desktop is a pretty good name for this product really, since that's exactly what this software does: it provides you with any number of very elegant-looking clocks that sit right on your desktop. The software comes bundled with over 50 skins which means you'll probably find several that are to your personal taste.

I chose it since I'm always on the lookout for ways to make my desktop 'just so' and I am a fussy old stoat. The clocks are skinnable, scalable and support any timezone. I have ended up with a fairly plain, very clear skin that complements my rainmeter theme nicely. This in itself is quite surprising since I am a terrible one for fiddling with the desktop.

Anyway, initial impressions are good: the interface is very nicely designed, with smooth-looking icons and a reasonably intuitive GUI for setting up the basics. The guys clearly have a pretty talented artist working with them, and it's this that makes the software quite appealing. It's verging on the slightly-chubby, soft, Mac-like look and feel. Luckily we stay just on the safe side of twee.

Click to read the full mini-review now..

Mini-Review: Realtime Landscaping

App NameRealtime Landscaping


Realtime Landscaping is a software program for helping you design and visualize landscaping ideas.  It's used mainly to plan walkways, fences, flower beds, and other outdoor structures.  

While it has some support for 3d building model constructions, it's not meant to do interior modeling, and cannot support the kinds of detailing building architectures that the serious building modeling tools can (like Chief Architect).  However it does excel at letting you super rapidly sketch and render quite complex outdoor landscaping plans, and the 3d walkthrough rendering is quite pleasing.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Mini-Review: Centerbase CRM

I've been trying to get a CRM in place at my company for years. We're a small software business, specializing in logistics, and in the past we have not had a very coherent strategy for tracking leads, scheduling appointments, tracking customer requests or bug reports. Each of us used different approaches. To be fair, for the most part we got away with it. But as customer base grows, you suddenly reach that "tipping point" where there's just too much to track using an ad hoc approach. This year I finally sat down and really focused on trying to get something that would fix it.

After trialling quite a few low-end and mid-end systems, I settled on Centerbase. Please read this review for why.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Bookmark Docs - MiniReview

I found out about Bookmark Docs through a thread here.  

From the site:
Bookmark Docs lets you precisely "bookmark" any places in various documents and then quickly return to them whenever you need, and do all that in a unified manner.  Add bookmarks and hyperlinks to Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, CHM, and MSDN documents, and to Web pages.

I've seen many bookmark managers over the years (and have bought more than a few), and haven't found anything that really satisfied my needs, so the idea was interesting to me.  The installation was professional and seamless, though you will want to pay attention to the options at the end; Bookmark Docs by default does not put an icon on the desktop, but does want to run at startup, so set your options accordingly.


I foresee that this will become one of those applications that I come to rely on heavily.  Though there are a few niggling areas that could be enhanced, it does what it sets out to do, and really is a timesaver.  I give it my recommendation.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Mini-Review: First look at the Scrivener Text Outliner Beta

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Scrivener is a tool for writers.

It's basically an rich text outliner with a very nice gui, and the ability to show/edit summaries of a folder's content (the corkboard), and of course the ability to export/compile all those entries as one document (images not supported)

It is still in beta. Initial impressions are good, but I have been able to crash it by importing an image (I have yet to see can I reproduce that), and I have found a bunch of minor bugs. In general it seems well behaved though and very usable.

Click here to read the full mini-review and view links and videos.. Certificate Provider: Mini-Review

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I want talk a little bit about about, a company that provides SSL Certificates.  They actually do a lot of things under the umbrella of StartCom, but I'm only going to talk about SSL services here, and in particular, SSL Certificates for web sites.

Preface: An Introduction to SSL Certificates

SSL Certificates are a source of much frustration for small companies and indie website operators.

The idea of SSL Certificates is a good one.  They offer a way for users who connect to your website to have some assurance that you are who you say you are -- that the person running the website they are connecting to is really the person in charge of the organization they say they are, and that they aren't being tricked by someone who has intercepted their connection to the web (man-in-the-middle style attacks).

But web browsers (firefox, internet explorer, chrome, opera, safari, etc.) have decided to combine this idea of verifying the identity of the company running a website with the mechanism for establishing a secure connection protocol from your browser to the website (https).  Secure connections can be very important in preventing neighbors and snoops from discovering your login passwords, etc. as you browse the web.

Unfortunately, the way that web browser makers have combined these features has results in a real dilemma for small developers and indie website administrators.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Stylizer 5.1 - a sophisticated CSS editor

App NameStylizer
App Version Reviewed5.1.10.1119
Test System SpecsWindows 7 on a Dell Vostro 1510, 3 GB RAM, about 13 GB free hard disk space
Supported OSsMicrosoft Windows, Mac OS X
Support MethodsE-mail, forum (while e-mails are answered rather fast)
Upgrade PolicyPay per upgrade to a new major version (next would be 6.x): C$ 29.99
Trial Version Available?Free trial version for both OSs available, it does not support multiple browsers though
Pricing SchemeC$ 59.99 per license (includes 1 laptop and 1 desktop)
(A "desktop" is a system without a battery attached during the activation process, so if you only own two laptops, feel free to remove the battery for a few moments.)
Screencast Video URL


Stylizer is probably the most advanced CSS editor I have ever stumbled upon. As it lacks a way to edit local CSS files, it follows a completely different approach than Rapid CSS, CSSEdit and all those "alternatives". Basically, you take a website and do some WYSIWYG modifications without having to type everything into a boring text editor window.

After startup, you only have some kind of a browser window with (modifiable) toolbar buttons and (not modifiable) menus. Enter a website or a local HTML page there to make Stylizer parse the included style sheets and the Stylizer controls appear. See the screenshot above to get a clue how it actually looks.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

Wibiya: Website Toolbar Utility (Web Review)

Wibiya is a great, free toolbar utility, that you can add to any website, blog, or forum, quickly and easily.

The toolbar itself, is not like the one's you will be thinking about (The one's that fill up the top of Internet Explorer).  Instead, it is one, that sits at the bottom of your website (The pages you choose to put it on) and can be minimized by the user.

With handy utilities like the 'Facebook Like' button, Google Translate, Games, Share and Chat (And much more), that do not take the user off your website, your visitors will have even more reason to come back, day after day.

Click here to read more and discuss..

Board Game Review Site Roundup

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As some of you know I've caught the board game bug.  More than playing them I enjoy reading about them and thinking about the different mechanics and game design ideas.

I'd like to start a thread collecting various sites and blogs that review board games.  Here's a few to start us of -- fellow board game fans please add more.  I'll link directly to the sites or to DC threads about them:

Click here to read more and discuss..

Review: "Scanning - VueScan and Associates" Pt.I: Intro & Bookscanning

DC member brahman has posted a giant review on scanning using the software program VueScan:

"Since scanning became a minor hobby, I followed the development of VueScan for about 10 years -- occasionally (every couple of years) downloading the trial. This application has now reached a degree of maturity that I decided to do a deeper review for the DonationCoder community. Since VueScan in its expert mode can be quite daunting, some tutorial elements and walk throughs are included so that the reader can feel more at home even with some of the more obscure settings and get a very rich scanning experience out of VueScan. The more I worked on it the more I felt that the review should become even more holistic by also discussing selected software (like scanner utilities,  e-book post processing, and sharpening) and hardware (color calibration targets and monitor calibration devices) that I found over the years which really help a lot to produce great scans in the most effortless way. Then my review grew bigger and bigger - as is the nature of life - until I finally decided to split it in several parts, the first installment you will get to enjoy now."

Part I of the review tutorial deals with an introduction to VueScan, its features, document- and book scanning.

Part II to be published soon will discuss VueScan's color management, profiling, and raw scanning abilities plus more hints and tips and more great software that complements VueScan.

Click here to continue reading the full review now..

Mini-Review: Atrise Golden Section


Atrise Golden section is a design grid for web, graphic, logo and user-interface design.

This program is designed as a tool to help artists, designers, programmers, photographers and others.
It allows the user to design something by applying those proportions defined as the golden section or golden ratio.
Various aspects of the golden section can be overlaid visually on whatever design software you are using in Windows.
See also the Wikipedia article on the golden ratio here.

For whom this app is designed:

Atrise Golden Section has potential for anyone designing a web site, or a user interface, constructing a newsletter, or indulging in digital photography, or a whole lot more.

In use, it positions an overlay grid that 'floats' above your work. Aligning elements to that grid is a quick and efficient way to ensure a layout that the human eye/brain combination will find appealing, often at a level below conscious thought. Without having to know a great deal about æsthetics, it is possible to make very worthwhile improvements to the layout of material at which we ourselves and others will be looking.

Click here to read the full mini-review now..

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