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Easy photo alteration

Photo editing can be a long and painful process, especially for people inexperienced with the complex software and processes involved. PhotoPerfect Express provides users with the ability to make quick changes to their images without a lot of hassle.

This free program has an incredibly simple interface. Using traditional file search methods for selecting a picture, your images quickly dominate the screen. Along the top are a few options for editing, saving, and making batches. Along the right-hand side are five different thumbnails of the main photo. Clicking on each thumbnail shows how PhotoPerfect applies a different finish to your … Read more

Prefab green home builder to close shop

Michelle Kaufmann Designs, a company formed to sell pre-built green homes, is shutting down, a victim of deflated housing prices and the credit industry meltdown.

The Oakland, California-based company installed about 40 energy-efficient single-family homes that were prefabricated in a factory near Seattle. The company had hundreds more that were in the planning stages but it was unable to deliver them, in part because of the difficulty of financing new construction.

"We have always known that to pull off our mission, it requires scale. We always believed it would be our company to do the scaling. We were well … Read more

Something in the air kills flu virus

A British company continues to offer a portable decontamination device that should come as breath of fresh air to a flu-weary public.

In fact the unit duplicates the ability of "outdoor fresh air" to destroy a wide range of airborne viruses and bacteria including the H5N1, influenza, and SARS, all within minutes of contact, according to Tri--Air Developments. "It's almost so good that nobody is going to believe it," admits Martin Wyatt, of the Buildings Research Establishment, a quasi-government agency that has been involved with the development.

The London based company claims it has already … Read more

Transparent plastic solar cells fitted into windows

Solar company Konarka has developed a transparent solar cell that it hopes will be built onto electricity-generating windows.

The Lowell, Mass.-based company on Tuesday said it has reached an agreement with Arch Aluminum & Glass to use Konarka's plastic solar cells in building materials, including windows.

Under its Arch Active Solar Glass development, the company has built prototypes of windows with the solar cells between two panes of glass. The photovoltaic cells can be tinted different colors.

"It is energy-efficient and transparent with superior vertical performance and a subtle red, blue or green aesthetic. With these features, … Read more

Organize chat options

With so many ways to network and socialize online, you may find it difficult to keep track of everything. Digsby promises to help keep chat, e-mail, and social networking conversations in one convenient place, but it didn't work exactly as we expected.

This freeware program looks a great deal like popular chat programs, such as AIM. With a skinny rectangular box running along the side of your computer you can simply click the prompt to add accounts to get started. From here you will find a menu of seven different IM programs to choose from, six different e-mail programs, … Read more

Quick desktop notes

Ever had to write yourself a quick message? NotesHolder is a program designed to let you scribble down thoughts and quickly return to the business at hand. With a sleek design and simple commands, this could replace those little yellow paper stickies littering your desk.

This program embeds itself in your desktop's tray for easy access. Its interface is very simple and should be a breeze for all note writers. This rectangular display has a box at the top prompting users to double click and enter their note. This brings up a new box that can easily be filled … Read more

Involved backup program

Macrium Reflect is a program that offers external backup capabilities. It worked very well for us, but novice users might be a little lost with some of the more detailed file settings.

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The user interface uses colorful command buttons and tabs for easy navigation. We did find a misspelling, which for a paid program, is a pet peeve of ours. But beyond that, we found it extremely easy to add files using the built-in wizard. From there, we were able to select the file types to include or exclude, as well as select the backup location, including a hard disk, … Read more

Detailed file management

Beyond Compare provides users with extensive side-by-side file comparison and management. Novice users might find its interface a little overwhelming, but a visit to the Help menu provides all the necessary details for getting started.

The program consists of two interfaces. The first provides a list of sessions that you can employ, from folder comparisons to text and data comparisons. It also provides summaries of any saved sessions. Clicking a session button introduces the second interface. At first glance, the second interface was a little overwhelming, especially when the files were added. But after spending a little time with the … Read more

Advanced startup management

ActiveStartup Deluxe is an innovative way for users to manage Windows' startup menu. With a basic set of functions, the program aims to make this process easier, but its lack of direction may sink its good intentions.

This program has a simple interface that offers users a great deal of control. An expandable file tree on the left-hand side outlines what is being run by the startup menu, where it is stored, and other important information. The right side is dominated by the file list, giving a deeper view into the programs operating. A simple string of buttons along the … Read more

Expanded screenshot options

IE Screenshot Pro boosts your image-clipping capabilities for Web screenshots with tools that integrate with your browser. While it doesn't have some of the features found in other screenshot utilities, it performed well when put to the test.

When you find a Web site you'd like to capture, just click on the Screenshot Pro icon. A drop-down menu presents easy to understand options for saving an individual frame (which just makes a screenshot of what fits into the browser screen), saving the full page as an image, or sending by e-mail. The extras are limited, but useful, and … Read more