Expatriate Scotsman now living in Wurzburg, Germany, freelance writer, frustrated future bestselling author, obsessed bibliophile. Other interests include trying to understand The Architect in the Matrix movies, decrypting codes and ciphers, and trying to persuade my landlord and my wife to let me have a Highland Cow for a pet. More by Mark O'Neill
Hamster Free Zip Archiver comes across as cute and cuddly, thanks to its nicely designed user interface and a bouncy GIF animation. And once you start using it, you can almost hear a whirring hamster wheel. It's fast.
The Hamster website claims that it takes advantage of multi-core computing to go faster. That claim held up when I tested Hamster on a new Windows 8 PC Quad-Core. The company claims it's faster than its competitors on older machines, too.
Thanks to its drag and drop interface, it's easy to use, too. To create a compressed file, you simply drag and drop the files you want to include onto HFZA main screen. Hamster tells you the folder's current size and asks you to choose between the ZIP and 7Z formats. Choose your file format (ZIP is faster, as it was when using 7-Zip), whether or not you want to split the file up, and whether or not you want to lock the file. You then press "compress," and Hamster does its job.
Yaara is a foodie, horse-lover, and biologist who enjoys being a geek as a full-time job. More by Yaara Lancet
I'm always on the hunt for truly great Twitter clients for the PC desktop, and one of my finds from last year was Tweeki. Despite some drawbacks, I was impressed with Tweeki's mobile-like interface, and deemed it an excellent client for anyone with one Twitter user. Shortly after, Tweeki, which ran on the Pokki platform, shut down due to Twitter API changes, and has re-emerged as Tweeki 2, a whole new iteration of the Pokki Twitter app.
The change becomes apparent before you even log in. Tweeki 2 is based on a new partnership with Intel, which means you must create an Intel Services Identity before you can start using Tweeki. Once you do, you can use this single log in to bring up all your Twitter users on any PC, including unread counts for timeline, mentions, and DMs. This feature works surprisingly well, but it's important to note than when logged in on two PCs at once, actions you perform on one PC, such as switching between users, will also affect Tweeki on the other PC.
Jon L. Jacobi has worked with computers since you flipped switches and punched cards to program them. He studied music at Juilliard, and now he power-mods his car for kicks. More by Jon L. Jacobi
So you just rode your bicycle off a cliff with a parasail attached, landed on top of an off-road vehicle, then bungeed off a bridge as you grabbed a six-pack off a riverboat captain's lap. And you recorded the whole experience on an action cam. The problem is, when you played the video back for your friends, they all got nauseated from the fast-action camera jump, fish-eye effect, and rolling shutter effect plaguing your video.
What you should do before screening your masterpiece is run it through ProDad's ProDrenalin ($49, free demo with registration). PC software ProDrenalin is a combination of the image stabilization, de-fishing, and color correction found in the company's DeFishr and Mercalli products. It's specifically designed to simplify the process of making your wide-angle action video more palatable for the masses.
Dave Johnson is a writer and photographer who has covered technology for magazines such as PCWorld and Wired. He is currently the Editorial Director for eHow.com's Tech channel. Dave is the author of How to Do Everything with Your Digital Camera, and over a dozen other books. More by Dave Johnson
For most professionals, Adobe Photoshop CS is the only photo editing tool worthy of consideration. Casual snapshooters can choose from a wealth of free and Web-based editors. For everyone in the middle—photo enthusiasts, serious shooters, and even pros dissatisfied with Adobe's new Creative Cloud—there's Corel's PaintShop Pro.
A viable Photoshop alternative for 20 years, PaintShop Pro offers 90 percent of Adobe's features for a tenth the price. In PaintShop Pro X6, Corel offers almost nothing new...which isn't such a bad thing. With a few exceptions, this upgrade is all about improved performance.
Slender: The Arrival is the long-promised, full-sized commercial follow-up to the popular Slender: The Eight Pages free minigame. While the original was a hit with Slenderman fans, it was just a proof-of-concept piece with acknowledged gaps in mechanics, locations, and narrative. Blue Isle Studios has addressed all of these shortcomings in the sequel, but fundamental problems in both design and execution remain.
Since Slenderman's debut as a creepy supernatural stalker in a series of photoshopped fakelore pictures, the noodle-armed menace has become the horror mascot of the hipster age. Slender appears in countless YouTube videos, social media feeds, and blog stories, snatching postmodernist hearts.
Endlessly tweaking his workflow for comfort and efficiency, Erez is a freelance writer on a mission to discover the simplest, coolest, and most effective software and websites to make tomorrow happen today. More by Erez Zukerman
Corel Painter faces a problem similar to that of Microsoft Office: When you're already at the top of your field, it's hard to see the path to improvement. Just like Office is the go-to suite for everyday productivity tasks, Corel Painter is the go-to application for serious artists looking to create natural-looking paintings and concept sketches using a computer. That gives Corel the enviable problem of trying to get artists to upgrade from a program that's already more than good enough...a problem the company tackles ably in Painter X3.
Corel's solution: Keep the powerful tools, but make everything more accessible. Almost every change and addition in the new Corel X3 is meant to lower the learning curve, make features easier to discover, or make common drawing tasks simpler than they used to be.
Alex covers desktops, everything from fancy to practical. He's also an avid (addicted) gamer and loves following the industry. More by Alex Cocilova
Social networks are great for family and friends to share their favorite details of life, but there aren't enough places specifically for gamers to congregate. Gamers need a place to use a handle instead of a name and emphasize gaming skills over baby pictures. Social network Raptr connects all your gamer friends in one place, stockpiles a ton of gaming data, and ranks you among the masses. In the latest version of Raptr's PC desktop app, you can show off your skills to the world with the newly integrated video streaming feature via Twitch.
Raptr tracks your Xbox, Playstation, Steam and other various games installed on your hard drive. Just add your PSN, Steam, and Xbox Live accounts and use the game scanner to find everything not in your Steam library. It's ridiculously easy, and it imports all your playtime and achievements automatically. While on the PC, the Raptr Game Launcher can launch any game you have installed, whether DRM-free or through Origin or Steam. It's like the mega-Steam, perfect for the organized aficionado.