Bits & P.C.s: Free stuff!

This week, let’s take a look at what’s available for free besides pop-ups for porn sites.

Are you tired of the icons on your Windows desktop moving all over the place? Icon Restore gives you the ability to save the placement of your desktop icons and restore them to their saved placement any time they get moved. Simply place your icons wherever you want them on your desktop, right click My Computer (or any system icon) and left click on “save icon layout” from the pop-up menu. If your icons ever get moved because your computer entered safe mode or you changed the screen resolution, right-click My Computer and left click on “restore icon layout” from the pop-up menu. It is the perfect solution for anyone who needs to change the screen resolution frequently. You can download it from

Speaking of pop-ups, you can download a free version of Pop-Up Stopper from Because the pop-up people keep discovering new ways to aggravate you, there are still a few pop-ups that still sneak under the radar, but for the most part, the majority of the pests are gone.

If you are using an mail service that is based on a POP3 mail server, that is, if you do not use AOL or MSN, then you should download Mail Washer from This program allows you to preview your mail without downloading it to your computer. After you have determined whether it’s spam or not, you can tell Mail Washer to blacklist the sender, return the mail back to the sender, delete it, or have it treated as good e-mail for you to download.

If you are interested in old adventure games, Al Lowe, the creator of the Leisure Suit Larry series of games, has a Web site ( where you can download many of the games that he developed. Because many of these were written for DOS, he has links to programs that will enable the games to run on many of the newer computers.

If you don’t have an anti-virus program, you may download AVG from One of the recent computer magazines gave it a 9 rating out of 10, and made the point of stating that it worked as well as the big name programs, and it’s FREE. The free version doesn’t offer all the customization options as their purchased version, but for the majority of users, it does an excellent job of finding viruses and protecting your e-mail.

Of course, one of the best free sites is the Microsoft Windows update page. Because of the complexity of Windows, Microsoft issues bug fixes and security updates on a regular basis. They list the updates in three classifications— critical, suggested, and drivers. Everyone should make a habit of downloading and installing the critical updates regularly, at least every couple of weeks.

Again, all the software and downloads mentioned in this article are free. All it requires is a little bit of download time to have a more enjoyable computer experience.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times, e-mail, or call 243-1162.

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