A replacement for Jasc Image Robot?

xnconvert-win-01Had an email recently from a reader

I found your page on Google (Jasc Image Robot – October 2009) and was just wondering if you still have Image Robot or if you know where I can get a copy of it?

No, and no.

But a quick look at Google shows that XnConvert might do what they want.  It will read 500+ image formats, and output to 100+ formats.   

And it’s freeware.

I also briefly looked at Advanced Batch Image Convertor, but the two problems I had with it were that a) it won’t read PaintShop Pro images (PSP) and b) only 5 export formats.

Reducing image sizes somehow else (Smush.it is dead)

With images for this blog, I reduce their sizes with Yahoo’s Smush.it utility.  The benefit of this is that it leads to small image sizes, which means less for your web browser to download.

This image, with Smush.It, reduces from 436KB to to 386KB:
Bendigo Tram No. 21
Unfortunately, Smush.It has been not so reliable of late, so I was thinking of writing my own replacement.  It’s not difficult to replicate what Smush.It has done, essentially:

  • if the image is a GIF, convert to PNG
  • optimize PNG images with pngcrush.
  • optimize JPEG images with jpegtran.

So it would be fairly simple to code something up, which calls pngcrush and jpegtran.

Or I could Google to see what’s out there, and see what other people have done.  After an hour of stuffing about, I finally settled on Radical Image Optimization Tool (RIOT)
Radical Image Optimization ToolThe Bendigo Tram image reduces down from 436KB to 126KB.  The image quality looks the same to me, and it’s good enough for a web blog.   So I’ll be using it in future for pre-processing images for this blog.  Plus it has “batch” processing, which I’d find useful as well.

If I was using a Macintosh, I’d look at using ImagOptim


6, 8 and 16 free, not-free, and online-backup solutions.

A backup of your information is only good if it is stored in a separate place, such your office.  Or stored with a web Online Backup service.  This list last updated August 2014.

Local Backup, aka You Store It

Cobian Backup
Karen’s Replicator
Microsoft SyncToy v2
SyncBack Freeware Edition

BounceBack Ultimate
EMC Replistor
FileBack PC
Second Copy
Super Flexible File Synchronizer

Online Backup aka they store it

Name Free service? Plans from Free trial? Paid for space Maximum Limit?
BackBlaze No $5 Yes Unlimited Unlimited
Carbonite No $59.95 (year) Yes Unlimited Unlimited
Comodo Cloud No $80 (year) Yes 100GB 500GB
CrashPlan Yes $3.96 Yes Unlimited
CrashPlan Pro No $396 (year) Yes Unlimited
DropBox Yes, 2 GB $10.99 100 GB 500 GB
Egnyte No $96 (year) Yes 1 TB Unlimited
Final-Byte No $7.95 Yes 5 GB 100 GB
Gmail Sync Yes, Unlimited
iDrive Yes, 5GB $37.12 (yearly) No 300 GB 300 GB
Iron Mountain No <unknown> No <unknown> <unknown>
Jungle Disk No $4 No 5 GB Unlimited
Microsoft OneDrive Yes, 15 GB $1.99 100 GB 1 TB
Mozy Yes, 2 GB $5.95 50 GB ?
SOS Online Backup No $7.99 No Unlimited Unlimited
SpiderOak Yes, 2GB $10 100 GB Unlimited

Me?  I use SyncBackSE with a collection of Western Digital and Seagate external hard drives.

Some notes, as of August 2014:

  • I last updated this list in January 2010, and the thing I’m impressed with is that all “Online Backup” providers are still around.
  • A number of Online Backup providers offer mobile device backup as well, which is useful for Smartphones and Tablets.

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DiskDigger says “Excuse me while I nag you to death.”

I liked the DiskDigger un-delete program.  Out of the four un-deletion programs I recommended here, DiskDigger was my first choice.

Fast forward to now.

I stupidly deleted a temp file on a USB memory disk, and needed it back.  So I downloaded a copy of DiskDigger.

Not very happy now.

DiskDiggerWithout a license key, DiskDigger will pop up an annoying message box that gently reminds you to purchase a key. It does, of course, allow you to continue without a key, and even proceeds to recover your files.  However, it will keep popping up the message box for every file you’re trying to recover.  So just buy a license key already!  It’s a lot less expensive than comparable utilities out there.
DiskDigger FAQ

Hey, I’ve got no problems in buying a license key, even if the program is “free” for personal use.  I do have a problem with a program which introduces a five second delay “nag” screen for every file it wants to recover.

There is no way in heck I’d ever recommend DiskDigger now.

As alternatives:

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10 free PDF creators, and some split/merge tools

Adobe PDF Logo picture

PDF, as a document format, I find really useful.  I find it useful because I can share a document with you, and it will be formatted as I intended it.  In other words, you’ll see the same page layout as I see.

To create PDFs, I use CutePDF Writer.  I love it so much, that in the past, I deployed to over 10,000+ computers I managed.  But if you’ve tried CutePDF Writer, and didn’t like it, well here are some other choices.

Program 64-bit support? Free?
BullZip PDF Printer Yes (up to 10 users)
CC PDF Convertor ? Yes
CutePDF Writer Yes (non-commercial use)
doPDF Yes Yes
gDoc Yes Yes & No.
PDFCreator ? Yes
PDFTools No Yes
PrimoPDF Yes Yes
Print2PDF – Free Edition Yes Yes
qVPDF No Yes

Got Open Office or Microsoft Office 2007 SP2+
Well you can print to PDF, without using one of the above programs.

Want to spilt and merge PDFs?  Try one of these:
Adolix Split & Merge PDF
Gios PDF Splitter and Merger
PDFill PDF Tools

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Piriform Defraggler disk defragmenter.


I like Defraggler, as it:

  • is free.
  • is available as a 64-bit version.
  • allows you to exclude specific files and folders, and
  • has scheduling built-in.

Downsides?  None that I can see of.  Perhaps it could detect that the Windows Disk Defragmenter is running in the background, and warn you that running two disk defragmenters at the same time is going to slow things down.

You can download Defraggler here.

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Deleting those files forever.

If you followed my posts on un-deleting files, you now know that when you delete a file, you can often recover it.  A reader asked in email

“So can you delete files forever, by formatting?”

No, and let me show you why.  I’ll “Quick format” & “also “Format” a USB stick, and demonstrate that you can still recover files.  Then I’ll show you what I do to wipe a disk clean.

“Quick” & Full Formatting
Quick formatting, or even Full formatting,
Quick FormatFull formatting

it makes no difference, you can still recover files.

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15 un-delete programs, a list

Only 3 that I would recommend, and 2 I didn’t test.

Found yourself in the “Oh crap, I’ve just delete some files by mistake”  moment?  I did recently, and it spurred me on to update this list I created in 2008.

Some terminology

I’d use it Yes means it found all 19 jpg files I accidently deleted.
No means it didn’t find all those files and/or the program crashed.
Free Free as in Free and/or Free, but the developer accepts donations.
Have to install? Do you have to install the program onto your computer.  No is preferred.


I’d use it

Program Free? Have to install? Quick Review
Recuva Yes Yes 19 Feb 2010
File Scavenger v3 No Yes 23 Feb 2010
Active@ Undelete No Yes 23 Feb 2010

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What? WindowsUpdate doesn’t work with a non-activated Windows XP?

And I only just realised it now. *
Windows Activation Required Now I’m not going to complain about Microsoft.  If you have a valid license key, you should activate it. 

But I don’t want to activate Windows as I’m just doing some tests, part of the Undelete series of posts.  And before someone says “Dude, you should activate it.”.  Well, in future,  I don’t want to go though the re-activation hell process, with some worker based offshore.

Automatic updatesBut Microsoft does offer a work-around, Automatic Updates, but I just don’t care for it.

Perhaps the fact that AU has rebooted my PC in a middle of a 4GB download has soured my experience.

So what to do instead?  Not patch?  No, you have to patch, it’s the prudent thing to do.

No, instead, I grabbed a copy of AutoPatcher.  I wrote about AutoPatcher here.  To recap, I like it because it works, and it’s free.  And 66 updates later, Windows XP will be a little bit more secure.
AutoPatcher - showing only 66 updates to apply.

* most of the Windows XP installs I work with have a Corporate license which is already activated. (a VLK.  In Microsoft Vista/Windows 7 licensing speak, it’s a MAK type key)

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