FeedDemon for Windows

The best damn RSS reader in the Windows world. Period. And it’s now free. I have tried just about every RSS reader the Windows platform has to offer and I haven’t found one that can compare to Nick Bradbury’s creation.

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When describing what makes FeedDemon awesome, I hardly know where to begin. I keep track of something like 300 news feeds, organized into two dozen folders. It’s easy to speed-read through a bunch of news items in a given category to make sure I’m on top of whatever’s happening that day. The fact that it’s all in a searchable archive means I can retrieve bits of related information that appear days or weeks apart.

The search feature is a big money-saver if you’re searching for the best price on a product. Subscribe to the RSS feeds of a bunch of sites that specialize in highlighting great deals and bargains. Keep a few months’ worth of history in FeedDemon’s cache. For a quick snapshot of price trends for a popular piece of hardware or an entire category, press Ctrl + F3 and start searching.

I also love the Clippings pane, where you can create virtual folders on any topic you want and then assign individual feed items or Web pages to a topic for easy scanning later.

It’s easy to manage feeds. You can go to summary pages and see which feeds in your list of subscriptions are dinosaurs that haven’t been updated in months. You can also see which feeds you read the most and which you never touch. Too many unread messages? Hit the Panic Button and get a fresh start.

The whole product has a level of fit and finish that is exceptional. But you probably won’t notice that until you’ve been using it for months, because mostly it just works.

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Keyfinder

If you had to reinstall Windows tomorrow, do you know where your product ID is? If the answer is no, get this tiny free utility, which finds product IDs for dozens of popular programs (including Windows and Office) and lets you print or save the results.

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This program does only one thing, but it does it so well I can’t help but love it. Double-click its icon and it sniffs out the product key used to install just about any version of Windows, including Vista x64 editions.

It also uncovers Office product IDs and reveals Dell service tags and finds product keys for a handful of other programs, like Adobe Acrobat and TechSmith SnagIt (another of my favorites). If you look through the included config file, you’ll see dozens of names and version numbers for familiar programs.

The point, of course, is to save this information so you can get to it quickly if you ever need to restore a license or reactivate a program. I save it as a text file on a USB key and also keep a printout in a locked file cabinet, along with receipts and manuals and other useful paperwork.

One nice little hidden feature (look on the Tools menu): You can edit the Registered Owner information for your machine, so it actually includes your name instead of Important Acme Customer or some such silliness. To do so in Windows Vista, you have to run the program as an administrator.

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TrueCrypt

Free open-source disk encryption software for Windows Vista/XP/2000 and Linux

Main Features:

Further information regarding features of the software may be found in the documentation.