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Get your Start menu back in Windows 8

Windows 8 is here and it brings with it a few adjustments. The world of Windows has always had a Start menu in the lower left corner. Removing it may makes sense to the mobile world of phones and tablets, but I don't think this will go over well with many of us who have relied on this source of links. "If it ain't broke..."

Well, thankfully, some third-party software developers have created their own alternatives to the now-missing Start menu. There are probably dozens now and countless to follow, but I'll list here three that I've used personally so far.

 I first tried Classic Shell and then Pokki. They are both free and do most of what the Windows Start menu does. They both had their quirks and limitations. However, they also both offer a great number of options and customizing, so perhaps more effort on my part could have made it more to my liking. Of all three, Stardock's Start8 is the only pay-for option, but it's only $4.99. It's my favorite of the bunch and I intend to buy it.

I fought the Windows XP Start menu when upgrading from Windows 98 and kept 98's "classic" start menu for a good while. Over time, I began leaving Windows XP's menu as the default and eventually couldn't go back to "classic." Perhaps the same will happen and we'll soon learn to love the new Modern/Metro tile-based Start menu. It's too soon to tell. In the meantime, try out these alternatives.

Where did this toolbar come from?

Often times, people notice a new toolbar has been added to their web browsers with no clue as to how they got there. You may or may not have noticed the trend of app installations including additional software. They are sometimes a little sneaky in hopes that you will quickly click through the Yes/Next/OK buttons without reading.

Java Addon

As you can see in this Java update, there's a pre-checked box for installing the Ask Toolbar.

Another common one is Adobe trying to slyly add Chrome to your Reader or Flash installation. I'm a little more biased on that one as I actually recommend giving Chrome a try. Ask Toolbar? No thanks! Keep your eyes peeled before flying through those installation steps!

CoffeeCup Software

If you're into web design, you may have heard of CoffeeCup Software along the way.  One of CoffeeCup's main goals is to take what is normally difficult in web design and make it as simple as possible.  Many cool things can be done with little-to-no knowledge of HTML/PHP/etc.

A couple of things make this company stand out, mostly being their offer of free upgrades for life and the great staff and users that make a friendly & helpful environment (primarily speaking of the forums). Not only did I buy their Webmaster Super Pack, which gives you all of their (currently 29) programs, but I hung out and helped in the forums enough to be invited as an Advisor. Well, I felt honored, anyway.  :p

So, if you want to spice up your web site with some flashy objects, maybe a music jukebox or video player, be sure to check out CoffeeCup Software.  Having a theme of "money-saving" at my site, you may be asking yourself, "How does promoting CoffeeCup help save me a buck?"  Well, three things:

    1. When you buy software from the big boys like MS & Adobe (FrontPage and Dreamweaver), you'll pay several times the amount, if not more.  You could buy all of CoffeeCup's software for the same price or less than one copy of a competitor's.


      1. After spending that chunk of dough on a competitor's app, you'll soon find out the next version will cost you another couple hundred to upgrade to the latest and greatest.  CoffeeCup's free upgrades for life all of a sudden sounds quite amazing.


      1. Take 20% off your order at CoffeeCup Software with this discount coupon code: 226STS

      Check out the listing of apps available here or click here to jump to CoffeeCup's site and start shoppin'! :D

      Google Voice

      "Voicemail like email, call routing, voicemail transcription, and more. All for free."

      Google Voice is an awesome service offering a free phone number to forward to any of your lines (landline or cell). Here's Google's bulleted features:

      • One number: a single phone number that rings all your phones
      • Free SMS: send, receive & store text messages online
      • Block calls: send unwanted callers straight to voicemail
      • Record calls: record phone calls and store them online
      • Conference calls: join several people into a single call
      • Screen callers: hear who is calling before you pick up

      Read more...

      Need Web Hosting?

      If you've looked into having your website hosted somewhere, you'll soon realize there's countless services from which to choose.  I've taken chances on lesser known hosting services and paid for it with slow performance and unreliable server uptimes. The lack of an uptime guarantee should've been my first red flag. After trying several other hosting services, I finally signed up for HostGator and have been very impressed with the speed of the hosting service and the professionalism of the support.

      Read more...

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