2 Lesser-Known & Portable Alternatives To CCleaner [Windows]
If your argument is that CCleaner is the best resource to cleaning out Windows’ junk and temporary files, then I won’t be the guy to argue with you. I’ve even made a post in the past complimenting and appreciating all of the Piriform applications, as I believe they are some of the best on the entire web. That being said, there are those of you out there who have no interest in using CCleaner.
There are plenty of applications out there that will help you in automating the process of cleaning up your hard drive. Today, I’ve got two of my favorite alternatives that I’d like to share with you. Like CCleaner, they offer portable versions.
The Xleaner site is natively in German, though Google translate helps us in instantly translating that to English. The page may look like a bit of a mess, but downloading the archive that includes the Xleaner files is as simple as clicking the Download button in the screenshot below.
The main interface of Xleaner looks a bit like a dumbed-down version of CCleaner. It isn’t quite as pretty, but just as effective and simple to navigate.
As it ships, Xleaner cleans out most of the expected areas of Windows, such as your recent documents, temporary files, and Internet Explorer history and cache. Clicking the Manage Cleaning Jobs option to the left will allow you to specify exactly what you should have cleaned when you run Xleaner. It is very extensive.
Here, you’re able to see all of the available Windows tasks that can be cleaned with Xleaner.
In the options tab, you’ll see, like CCleaner, Xleaner breaks down options separately for each of the most popular browsers. It’s good to be able to not clear the history of all browsers at once, and instead only for a certain browser.
Xleaner also includes many settings specific to the application itself. You can set it to start with Windows, check for updates automatically, and more. There are several tabs under Settings for you to check through.
When you’re all done configuring the application, simply clicking Run Cleaner will run the operations.
On the face of DriveTidy, it couldn’t get any more straightforward.
Of course there is more to the application than only that, as you can tell by clicking to show the advanced options. Not nearly as full in features as Xleaner, it still manages to includes most of the common areas to clean.
Further down that list is the thumbnail cache, Windows installation files, sample videos, temporary files from applications like iTunes and Steam, and junk file extensions such as LOG and DMP. It’s on you to decide what you’d prefer to have cleaned.
Clicking the question mark directly to the right of the header in the application will allow you to quickly check for updates. It’s not automatic, but it’s easy.
Which of these two applications comes closest to replacing CCleaner for you? Let me know in the comments!
RFID Can Be Hacked: Here’s How, & What You Can Do To Stay Safe
How much do you know about RFID chips? Do you know how many you’re carrying at any given moment? Do you know what information is stored on them? Do you know how close a hacker needs to get to you in order to steal that information? Have you considered any form of RFID protection? And most importantly, do you know what RFID protection will be effective?
These days, RFID chips are present in all sorts of items, such as credit cards, library books, grocery goods, security tags, implanted pet details, implanted medical records, passports and more. Some schools now require their students wear RFID tags. The amount of information which could be learned about you from your RFID chips is quite a lot! Plus, you never know what those information thieves are planning on doing with your information, either. So, it’s best to understand the risks of RFID hacking and limit your exposure to harm. Here’s the basics of what you need to know.
What Is RFID?
RFID stands for Radio Frequency IDentification and it’s used for short-distance communication of information. It does not require line of sight to work, meaning that the RFID chip and the reader merely need to be within range of each other to communicate.
There are a few main types of RFID chip:
- Passive Tags require a radio signal to be emitted from the receiver in order to be read. This also means they operate on a small distance and can’t transmit a lot of data. Examples of these can be found in credit cards and door passes.
- Active Tags have on-board batteries and can therefore actively transmit their data over a larger distance. Also, they can transmit a larger amount of data than passive tags. Examples of active tags include toll passes mounted in cars.
RFID frequencies vary according to the device and country, but usually operate in this range:
- Low Frequency RFID is <135 KHz
- High Frequency RFID is 13.56 MHz
- Ultra High Frequency (UFH) RFID is 868-870 MHz or 902-928 MHz
- Super High Frequency (SHF) RFID is 2.400-2.483 GHz
How Easy Is It To Scan RFID Chips?
RFID hackers have repeatedly shown how easy it is to get hold of information contained in RFID chips. As some chips are re-writable, it’s even quite easy for hackers to delete or replace RFID information with their own data.
It has been said that on eBay hackers can get hold of all the equipment they would need to build an RFID scanner for less than $20. This means that anyone anywhere could be trying to read your RFID chips – and that’s worrying.
There are also numerous articles online showing exactly how one might go about making your own RFID reader, such as this article using basic parts and some Arduino skills.
Here’s an interesting article about RFID hacking which will give you a lot to think about, where Wired talks to RFID hackers about various exploits, including breaking into an internet security company, changing the prices on grocery items before purchasing, cloning RFID tags and using grocery items to open hotel rooms, deleting information from library books, getting free petrol, breaking into cars, tracking where people drive and reading medical data.
How To Block RFID Signals
In general, metal and water are the best ways to block radio signals to and from your RFID chip. Once that radio signal is blocked, the data cannot be read.
Now, we need to dispel a myth. Some people think that wrapping your credit cards in aluminium foil will be enough to protect them from RFID scanners. This is not true! A foil wrapping will help, but it won’t stop the scanner. It just means the scanner has to be a lot closer to you to get the information.
If you haven’t yet bought some decent RFID protection, foil will help you somewhat, but it’s not a real solution to the problem. A neat idea is to line the money pouch of your wallet with foil, so that all of your cards contained within are somewhat protected from RFID scanning.
It should also be mentioned that many sellers of RFID protection are basically just selling foil sleeves. Be wary of these as they won’t protect you fully.
In some countries, governments have begun to give accreditation to RFID protection that complies to certain standards. Be on the lookout for this accreditation when you purchase RFID protective wallets, passport pouches and sleeves.
The most effective RFID-protecting sleeves, pouches and wallets on the market are those that use a Faraday Cage within a leather exterior. Faraday cages in paper sleeves are also very effective, but will be less durable. Search for protection that contains the words “Electromagnetically Opaque” and you should be on the right track.
It’s also possible to break your RFID tags. To disable an RFID chip, common practices involve a large electromagnetic pulse (such as microwaving the chip) or hitting it with a hammer. Note that most disabling methods could ruin the rest of the item too, which is not ideal.
Another important thing you can do to protect yourself is to ensure your security plan does not rely on RFID only. For instance, contact your credit card issuer and see if they will disable RFID-only purchases on your card. Then if someone were to clone the RFID tag in your card you would still be safe from theft. Another example would be to not rely on RFID door passes alone for your office and to ensure there is another robust security system in place.
If you are paranoid about your RFID presence, you could make your own RFID reader and regularly check your household to see what is readable and check how well your RFID protection is working. For the extremely paranoid, you could also check the data on each item to see if anything has been changed.
Have you got any other great tips to protect yourself against RFID exploits? Or do you have a horror story to share?
Send AirPlay Music To Your Windows PC With Shairport4w
Play music from iTunes, your iOS device or anything that supports Apple’s Airplay on your Windows computer. If you have a media center running Windows, or any PC you want to use as a second set of speakers for your music, Shairport4w is the program you’re looking for.
Apple’s AirPlay makes it easy to play music from any computer running iTunes or any iOS device on speakers around your house – provided those speakers are connected to an Apple-approved device. Windows computers, obviously, don’t make that cut. Until now.
Shairport4w is a small, third-party program that sits in your Windows system tray and streams audio sent to it. You’ll be sending audio from your phone or iTunes in no time. It’s really not any more complicated than that, and it doesn’t need to be – it’s a simple program you’ll forget is even there.
Not sure what I’m talking about? Read Simon’s explanation of Airplay here, then keep reading to get your Windows Airplay server up and running.
Shairport4w is a small portable application. When you start it up you’ll see a few options:
Minimize the program and it will run in your tray. Simple. Alternatively you can change the name of your speakers and password-protect them. There are also a few advanced options:
Tweak to your heart’s desire, but know that it’s not at all necessary.
Are you ready to stream? Assuming everything’s working you should now see your new speakers offered in iTunes for all computers in your network.
That was easy, wasn’t it? If things aren’t working check your Windows firewall settings.
Note that you can make your Windows PC act as one of several speakers in your house. In my experience the audio is a little out of sync, though, so be warned.
Ready to try this? Download Shairport4w at Sourceforge. As I said before, this is a small, portable program. If you plan on using it regularly you’ll need to move it to an appropriate folder. I recommend the StartUp folder in your start menu, if you want this program to start up every time your computer does.
Note that Shairport4w only supports audio sharing. If you want to stream video, I recommend you check out Eden, the latest version of XBMC. It supports video streaming in Windows but not audio. With these two programs combined you can do pretty much anything.
Air Stream Media Player streams videos and photos in Windows using AirPlay. This isn’t the first time we’ve covered AirPlay hacks. We shown you how to use Apple’s Airtunes in Linux. It’s been without updates for a while, but it’s worth trying out. No music support.
You can even get AirPlay set up on a Raspberry Pi, thanks to the included AirPlay support in XBMC.
So there are a few options out there for Airplay, but so far as I can tell Shairport4w is the best way to stream AirPlay audio on a Windows computer. Do you know of something better? Share it in the comments below. Also feel free to let me know what you’re using this software for.
Fed Up With eBay? Here Are Some Worthy (And Cheaper) Alternatives For Sellers
When you want to sell your excess junk online, where do you go? For most people, the one and only answer is eBay. With millions of daily users, it only seems logical to use the number one popular online auction site when you have online selling needs. But what about all of the alternatives that are arguably better?
“Why fix something that isn’t broken, Joel?” you might ask. Or more poignantly, “Why use a different site when eBay suits me just fine?” Well, if you enjoy using eBay, then I suppose there’s no reason to switch. However, over the years, many users have grown fed up with eBay’s services. If you’re one of those users, then have no fear. The alternatives are pretty good.
If you have stuff you need to sell and you need it done online, check out the following sites. Some of them may surprise you.
Here’s an alternative that may seem like common sense: Craigslist. Founded in 1995, Craigslist acts as an online community where users can post classified ads. In the last 17 years, Craigslist has become so popular that it now serves over 700 localized versions of its site in over 70 countries. If you need a broad audience, here you go.
Craigslist is completely free. You do not pay any service fees or charges for posting your listings. Payment and transactions are dealt with face-to-face between parties, so there is no mediator escrow-type service; be careful that you aren’t scammed. The interface is somewhat outdated and as far as I know there isn’t a way to judge a user’s trustworthiness (like with eBay’s rating system).
But everything considered, you keep 100% of the revenue when you finalize a transaction using Craigslist and its popularity guarantees that you won’t run out of buyers anytime soon.
Ealtbay. Just take a look at this service’s name and you’ll see that its primary purpose is to be an alternative to eBay. But is it better than eBay? Check out their five reasons for existence and decide for yourself.
- Ealtbay does not place bans on items that are perfectly legal to be sold.
- Ealtbay lets you list items for free. Final fees on sold items are much lower than eBay.
- Ealtbay does not force electronic payment methods (e.g., Paypal) on users. Whatever method the seller is comfortable with can be used.
- Ealtbay allows feedback for both buyers and sellers, not just sellers.
- Ealtbay does not force top-rated sellers to appear at the top of search results, allowing smaller-volume sellers more exposure.
The downside to Ealtbay is that their audience is nowhere near the size of eBay (which is understandable) and they have a primitive-looking interface that isn’t exactly beautiful (which is a definite negative). However, those five features above more than make up for any of Ealtbay’s shortcomings.
eBid is a promising alternative to eBay, boasting over 6 million item listings in nearly 13,000 categories. There are no listing fees here and the final fees are much lower than the fees over at eBay. Payment methods include Paypal, PPPay, Google Checkout, and Skrill. If you’re worried about eBid’s reliability as a service, be placated in knowing that eBid is a Google Shopping Marketplace Partner.
eBid’s selling features are that they provide a number of merchant programs (auctions, fixed-price transactions, and storefronts) as well as the ability to “ninja list” items, where you can bulk upload for low fees.
Unlike eBay and clones of eBay, there are other online marketplaces that cater to a more niche audience. Marketplaces like Etsy, where the focus rests on hand-made or vintage items. It was established in 2005, which means it only had 7 years to become as big as it is now. Impressive, if you ask me.
Etsy boasts over 39 million unique visitors every month who browse the 800,000 available shops. As niche as Etsy might be, the audience size is nothing to sneeze at. In order to list on Etsy, each item will cost you $0.20 per stock and you’ll pay 3.5% of the final selling price in fees. Payment options include Paypal, Etsy’s direct checkout, or cheque.
For one-time junk selling, eBay is still the better option. But if you have hand-made crafts that you’d like to sell for profit, Etsy may be the place for you.
If you have items that you just want to get rid of (i.e., you don’t care about making a profit), you ought to check out Freecycle. It’s a worldwide community that aims to reduce global waste by connecting people who want to throw away goods to people who need those goods. In essence, people with excess give stuff to people in need for free. Free recycling. Get it? (Admittedly, it took me a while.)
Listings are completely free and there are no payment options because everything is free. Though Freecycle is a worldwide site, item exchanges are conducted locally so buyers can come pick up the items from the sellers without postage fees. If you need more room in your attic or garage, Freecycle can help you. If you want to make a profit, look elsewhere.
Ruby Lane is a niche online marketplace where people can buy and sell high-end antiques, art, and vintage collectibles. Here you’ll find thousands of independent shops, each run by individual sellers, from all over the world. Ever since their establishment in 1998, Ruby Lane has guaranteed quality, security, and excellence to their members.
Their shop format only allows selling items either at a certain price point or through the make-and-offer feature; there are no auctions. For sellers, Ruby Lane uses a unique pricing structure that includes a $0.30 listing fee per item, a once-per-month Advertising Fee of $20, and a once-per-month Maintenance Fee that depends on how many items you sell that month. Check out their massive list of reasons why you should sell on Ruby Lane.
So if you’re sick of eBay, then you owe it to yourself to check out one of these alternatives. Many are free. Some are great for one-time throwaways while others offer you the chance to build up a lucrative business. If you’ve used any of these services in the past, let us know what you thought of them in the comments!