Martin Brinkmann

martin photo

Martin Brinkmann is a journalist from Germany who founded Ghacks Technology News back in 2005. Martin started his career as a tech support representative at a large German financial corporation which he used to finance his college education in English, Information Technology and History.


He quit college and his job when Ghacks began to attract a large enough readership. He made the decision to become a full time blogger and webmaster, and has not looked back since.


Martin is interested in all things tech. His primary focus is on desktop operating systems, web browsers, Internet services, and privacy related topics.


He published the book The Complete Windows 10 Privacy Guide: Windows 10 Fall Creators Update version in 2017. Martin writes a weekly column for fellow tech site Betanews as well.


You can reach Martin on Facebook or on Twitter. Please use the contact form at the bottom of the page to contact the author directly.


Martin has been quoted or mentioned in many major online and print publications, including Forbes, Lifehacker.com, ComputerWorld, LinkedIn, Reddit, Betanews.com, Bleeping Computer, TechCrunch, PC World, Tom's Hardware, Slashdot, Hacker News, The Register, and more.


Martin's articles on Ghacks

Weekend Fun Trackmania Nations

Trackmania Nations is a free racing game for Windows that distinguishes itself from normal racing games by introducing a number of additional elements to the tracks. Do you remember Stunt Car Racer for instance ? The game where you were driving through loopings and made big jumps across the screen.

This game introduces all those elements again to a racing game but provides normal tracks as well. You may start with the 90 solo missions that remind me a little bit of the Gran Turismo missions. They are divided into Beginner, Advanced and Expert Training missions and award medals if you beat the tracks in a certain amount of time. This alone is very challenging.

Scan downloads automatically in Firefox

I was looking for a way to automatically scan specific file types immediately after finishing the download instead of scanning them when unpacking or executing them. This way I could sort out malicious files immediately without having to worry about some files that contain viruses or other sorts of malware sitting on my hard drives for a longer period of time.

wise registry cleaner

Wise Registry Cleaner

Wise Registry Cleaner is probably the most comfortable registry cleaner that I installed on my system until now. The free software has a size of roughly one megabyte and the installation takes only a couple of seconds. The application reminds you to create a backup of your registry before you proceed which can be done right from the reminder window.

After this has been done a scan can be started by clicking on the scan button in the toolbar. The main window will be populated with the results displaying information about the keys, values, data and categories. The registry cleaner rates every entry with "safe to fix" or "Not fully safe to fix" and checks only the ones that are safe to fix.

DRM Free Music from iTunes hides account info

Many users were quite happy when Apple announced that they would be selling drm free music at their iTunes online store. It would finally be possible to make one purchase and be able to play the music in your car, mp3 player, computer and other devices. Prices for the drm free music were set higher than for music with drm which did not get the bad feedback that I expected it to get.

CD-Wow to pay £41m to British record companies

CD-Wow is a online CD, DVD and games shop that operates from Hong Kong. They ship free of charge worldwide and offer some of the lowest prices in the business. They achieve this by (legally) buying the media in countries like Hong Kong and selling them to Europeans and Americans who are happy to pay a lower price for the media while still being able to enjoy the English version of a CD, DVD or game.

CD-Wow for instance was the third largest online CD retailer in Great Britain in 2005 after Amazon and Play. The companies that produce the media sure love globalisation when it means that they can produce their goods in a country like China for a fraction of the costs that it would cost them in a European country or in America.

imgburn disc burning

Burn Image Files with ImgBurn

If you are looking for a versatile CD and DVD burning software that can be freely downloaded and that is supporting most known image formats you should take a closer look at ImgBurn. The program can either read a disc to an image file, build an image from files and folders or burn an image file from your hard drive to a new blank media.

Flickr Best of 2006 Voting

A collection of the best photos published on Flickr in 2006 with an option to vote for all of them in a voting process that reminds me of those hot or not type of sites.

Your first option is to take a look at how the photos have been rated by other users. Please be aware that all of the photos on the site are the best of 2006 and that the rating on this external site is only a rating of good photos. It can happen that a photo gets only 1 point which means that is is bad considered to a photo with a higher rating but still great if you consider all photos on Flickr for this year.

List of 20 Temporary Email Services

I'm currently tweaking the new theme which takes more time than I thought. I just want to apologize for the lack of articles in the last days. Once the new theme is published I will have more time to write articles again.

I have been writing about temporary (disposable) email services before which can be used to register to certain web services without revealing your true email address. This is great if you do not want to risk that the website is selling your email address.

This is however a security risk if you do register at a service that is sending passwords to the email again if you have forgotten them. Everyone who knows the email that you have registered with could use the forgotten password request to get your password.

msconfig

Remove old entries from MSConfig Startup

Some programs ask you if you want to start every time when Windows starts while others do not ask but still add an entry to an autostart location. This is most of the time not that useful unless you do use the software a lot. I can only think of security products that would fall into that category. Makes no sense to always start the antivirus software after Windows has loaded.

We all know that we can prevent autostarts by using the msconfig utility which ships with every Microsoft operating system. The problem that arises here is that although the programs are not autostarted anymore they still exist in the list which looks rather messy because it is growing over time. It does not make much sense to keep them in the list if you disabled them from the list.

auto login windows vista

Automatically log in during Vista startup

One of the most annoying features of Windows Vista is the login screen that displays all user accounts on the system. You have to click on one of the accounts and enter the password from that user to be able to login and use Windows Vista.

I don't think it makes that much sense to display this information if you login with the same user most of the time. Security should also be no concern because it is not that complicated to access the data even though you do not know the password of that specific user.

itunes store file validator

Autorate songs in iTunes (Mac and Windows)

Are you using the rating feature of iTunes and your iPod a lot ? I can only speak for myself but I never used that feature at all because it seems to be a lot of work to rate thousands of songs.

There is however a way to rate songs automatically using a free software called AutoRate (Macintosh) that rates track automatically according to how often they have been played and skipped. The ratings get synced with iTunes which means that you do not have to rate all of your songs by hand to achieve this goal.

Youloud Podcast Directory

It seems to me that Podcasts are popular amongst a certain (geeky) user group but ignored by the rest of the Internet. Honestly, when was the last time that you have listened to a Podcast ? I have to admit that I'm also not listening to Podcasts mainly because the lack of time but also because of the difficulty to find Podcasts that are interesting enough.

Youloud tries to make at least the second concern irrelevant. It lists a lot of Podcasts in their directory offering features, newest, most popular and top favorite Podcasts.

Transfer personal files and settings from XP to Windows Vista

If you are running Windows XP at the moment and want to make the switch to Windows Vista soon you might find the Windows Easy Transfer Tool of interest. The transfer tool work with both the 32-bit and the 64-bit version of Windows XP if they have the latest official service patch installed.

Weekend Fun Last Scenario Game

If you are looking for a great roleplaying game for the weekend you should definitely take a look at the excellent Last Scenario game. It reminds me a lot of those old SNES and Sega Genesis roleplaying games that were so much fun to play back then.

Last Scenario puts you in charge of a self proclaimed town protector named Hilbert who is nothing more than a boy at the beginning of the game who is soon to become the savior of the world. If this sounds a little bit to cliched for your taste you should wait and see how the story unfolds.

Gmail raises the maximum email attachment size to 20 Megabytes

You can bet that every tiny bit of new information about Google or one of their services will make headline news in a matter of minutes after it was discovered or announced. This time it was the discovery that the maximum attachment size for emails on gmail has been raised to 20 Megabytes.

While a 100% increase may seem nice it raises some questions about the usefulness of such an increase. Many mail servers will not accept emails of that size and bounce them back. It should also be noted that emails were never supposed to be used for large file transfers in the first place.

autopatcher updater

Autopatcher Vista and XP 64-bit May update

Autopatcher is a very convenient and easy way to patch your operating system with the latest patches, updates and security fixes without connecting to a Microsoft server at all. All that needs to be done is to download the latest release of Autopatcher and run it. You may then select the updates that you want to install and everything else is done automatically (that's the auto in autopatcher, hehe)

Cute little Ninja flash game

I was always a little bit obsessed with Ninjas since the first Shinobi game by Sega. This continued with Tenchu on the Playstation and numerous Ninja games and movies. It was always my childhood dream to become a stealthy deadly assassin, hehe. Well, I found a nice - but short - flash game that lets you play, I think you guessed it already, a Ninja.

You have to make it through ten levels to rescue a woman (princess, geisha ?). To do this you have to cross the levels and beat all the enemy guards who are defending the captured woman. You only have a limited assortment of techniques at your disposable. Amongst them are the infamous wallrun, the backflip and the quick short slash.

Fix for black screen in Nintendo Wii virtual console games

The following fix should help users who do have problems with some virtual console games for the Nintendo Wii that display only a black screen after starting them while the sound remains normal. This does not work in all occasions but should work if you get the Wii menu when you press Home and works only for games that received an update for the interlaced mode.

Try out the following to see if this fixes the issue. Start the game normally until you see the black screen. Connect the Nunchuck to the Wiimote and press Home to see the menu options. Now press A + 2 + Z together which should result in a short "ping-like" sound.

This should have activated the interlaced mode. Leave the menu and you should see the normal game screen and not the black screen anymore. To change the mode again press A + 1 + Z using the same method as above.

xmplay music player

XMPlay a lightweight audio player

I was looking very hard to find a replacement for my favorite audio player Winamp and found a ultra-lightweight alternative with an exceptional functionality called XMPlay. This audio player which has a size of only 300 Kilobytes does not have to be installed and can be run from any location.

It supports all major audio formats such as mp3 and ogg format, plays internet radio streams, supports playlists, compressed files, library functions, skins, plugins and a lot more. Did I mention that it is possible to save mp3 streams that are automatically named to your hard drive ?

MWSnap a free screen capturing software

I'm always going the extra mile when I take screenshots in Windows XP. I hit the Print button on the keyboard, open GIMP and paste the contents into a new image, cut the part of the image that I need, resize it and finally save it to be able to upload it to my ftp.

The worst part of this job is that it takes a lot of time to complete all the steps and I think I found a nice free screen capturing software with the name MWSnap which can optimize this process.

Four different ways of creating screenshots are supported by MWSnap: Fixed Rectangle, Any Rectangle, Window / Menu or Full Desktop. The Any Rectangle method is working best for my purposes.

Windows Vista Aero Color Transform

I found a nice little Windows Vista utility to change the appearance of the Aero Glass theme even further by allowing color transformations. The normal Windows Vista style has a static color while the Vista Color Transform application may change colors over time.

The software offers a pre-defined sets of colors that have names such as Patriotic, My Eyes!! and Winter displaying small preview images of the colors that are cycled through. If you take Winter for example you see white and icy colors when you click on edit.

Firefox: Open Links and Mailto's in external applications

I prefer to watch videos in my favorite video player VLC instead of watching them embedded on the web. If you click on a video file on a website you open it either in your default video viewer or view it right in your browser using a plugin. You may also open websites in different browsers which is great for developers who were using several add-ons to view a website in different browsers.

Just right-click the link and select the application that you want to use to view it from the menu. Launchy, that is the name of the Firefox add-on, supports more than 60 applications right out of the box with the ability to add more applications using an XML file.

A Windows Run Replacement

If you thought that this is going to be another article about Launchy you thought wrong. This time it is a freeware that may replace the Windows Run Function. Executor adds numerous features to the run dialog but keeps the handling as easy as possible at the same time.

The run command in the start menu is not touched at all but you can hijack the run shortcut Windows R if you like or use the defined Windows Z for opening Executor. It offers the complete features of the natural run implementation of Windows and adds many features to it.

Convert Web Widgets to Vista Sidebar Gadgets

I have talked to several Windows Vista users and all told me that they did not use the Vista sidebar because of the lack of good gadgets that could be shown there. Sure, some are really nice but the majority is utterly useless. Why would I want another clock in there for instance ?

The Amnesty Generator (Windows, Macintosh) tries to fill this gap by providing a clever way to convert thousands of web widgets to Vista gadgets that can be placed in the sidebar. The program is free and absolutely easy to use. All it needs is the html code of the widget to automatically convert it into a Vista sidebar gadget. The html code is displayed when you select a widget from the many databases that offer them.

firefox add keyword search

Use Keywords to search faster in Firefox

Firefox is already really comfortable when it comes to searching the web. One search box is displayed by default which is great if you want to do a fast search for something. Did you know that there is another way, even faster and better than this one ? Firefox supports so called keyword searches which means that you define a keyword for a certain search engine and can use that keyword to search it without visiting the website of that search engine.

Let me give you an example to clear things up. You may right-click any form field in Firefox and select the menu entry Add a Keyword for this search. Selecting this opens a new Add Bookmark menu which asks for a name and a keyword. I went to ebay.com and did a right-click on their site search. I entered the keyword "e" and the name eBay.

example robots.txt

Check your robots.txt on Google's Webmaster Tools website.

A robots.txt tells the search engine robots about the directories and files that should be indexed on a website. A wrongly edited robots.txt file could mean that search engine robots are not crawling your website anymore with the result that new articles will not be indexed in the search engine index.

This can be quite devastating especially for webmasters who do earn their living from their websites. It takes up to two weeks until changes can be seen when you edit the robots.txt file which is way to long if you made a mistake.

Flitter a Flickr Twitter realtime screensaver

If you are looking for a rather unique screensaver for Windows 2000, XP or Windows Vista you should take a look at Flitter which is a mashup from Flickr and Twitter at the moment. What it does is that it is retrieving realtime data from both Flickr and Twitter to display those when the screensaver is active.

You obviously need a computer that is connected to the Internet to use this screensaver but it is very well worth it. The default setting for the screensaver pulls data from the public timelines of both Flickr and Twitter but you have the possibility to custom this further.

Use Folder Guide to open folders faster in Windows

I'm using some folders over and over again in my daily work routine. My mp3 folder for instance, my profile folder and the folder that contains most of my applications stored on my computer. I have been using shortcuts to access them until now but today I found a free software that adds favorite folders to the right-click menu.

Change your wallpapers automatically

I'm always looking for new free softwares out there and although I already found an automatic wallpaper changer called Wallpaper Juggler I decided to give the wallpaper changer ScrollWall a try. It is always good to be able to choose from more than one program that has a similar functionality.

ScrollWall offers a very clean interface with only a few options to choose from. You can choose if you want to stretch, center or tile wallpapers that do not fit your resolution and select the frequency of the change.

Interactive Cinema Game

Here is something that I found on Youtube and thought that it looked incredibly entertaining. We all know the drill that we are forced to watch dozens of advertisements in cinemas before the movies start which becomes increasingly boring if you go to the cinemas regularly. The title of the video is Human Joysticks (NewsBreaker Live interactive cinema game) which describes exactly what this is all about. Take some motion sensing cameras, a breakout video game, a big screen and an enthusiastic crowd and you are about to witness the funniest breakout game of all times.

Thunderbird Extension Contacts Sidebar

The Contacts Sidebar extension for the email software Mozilla Thunderbird displays the address book - or books - in the sidebar of Thunderbird beneath the mail folders. A real beauty is that this sidebar can be enabled and disabled with the F4 button which means that you only need to display it when you need the address book. All the possibilities of the address book are given in the sidebar as well, you can edit properties of your contacts or quickly choose a contact that you want to write a mail to. Here are some highlights taken from the description:

utorrent remote

Control uTorrent from a Website

I always thought that it would be nice to administrate uTorrent from work as well. Do things like adding new torrents, deleting old ones and the like would be really comfortable. The great thing is that this is actually possible if you use uTorrent. All you need is to enable to so called WebUi and download a small additional rar file that will be placed on your local computer. I would suggest that you download the latest official version of uTorrent but you could also use the beta versions that are posted in the forum.

xbox 360 console has been banned

Is Microsoft banning modified Xbox 360 consoles from Live?

The first news about Microsoft possibly banning modified Xbox 360 consoles from the Xbox Live service started to emerge yesterday in some known Xbox 360 forums. It is possible to modify the firmware of the Xbox 360 drive to be able to play backups which of course includes pirated games. There has been no official confirmation from Microsoft about this issue but the frequency of the posts can only lead to the conclusion that Microsoft is actually banning Xbox 360 systems with modded firmwares.

Spyware Terminator a free antispyware software

Spyware Terminator is a free antispyware software which can be downloaded in several versions. The main version contains the Spyware Terminator program which scans your system for spyware plus the so called Web Security Guard which assigns threat levels to websites in the search results. Both applications can also be downloaded separately from each other and I decided to download the Spyware Terminator without the Web Security Guard.

thunderbird remove duplicate emails

Automatically remove duplicate mails in Thunderbird

It happens sometimes that you find duplicate mails in your inbox in Thunderbird. This could happen for instance when you pull new emails from the mail server and get disconnected during that process. It could happen then that those emails will be retrieved again when you check for mails. Thunderbird has a nice hidden variable that defines how it should treat duplicate mails and I'm going to tell you how to set it correctly so that duplicate mails are removed automatically.

Games for the Weekend Online Boardgames

I grew up playing boardgames like Risk, Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit and witnessed that board games evolved almost as much as computer games did. I would like to introduce one of my favorite online boardgames websites where you can play about 50 excellent boardgames online. Boardgames include Settlers of Catan, Carcassone and Thurn and Taxis. All boardgames of the year and of course playable in multiplayer.

Ways to get the Coke Code for iTunes downloads

I think it is really fascinating that Coca Cola is doing another major promotion in Europe teaming up once again with iTunes and giving away 2 billion songs on iTunes along with other goodies such as tickets to concerts and iPods for codes that can be found in Coca Cola bottles. You had to use four codes to be able to download one song from iTunes in the last promotion and the new one will surely use the system as well. It should be noted that only selected songs could be downloaded in the last promotion.

vidipedia

Vidipedia a video encyclopedia

After introducing Teachertube just a few days earlier I received an email pointing me to Vidipedia which is a video encyclopedia, basically Wikipedia with Videos. The principle is of course the same. You search for a phrase or browse a category on Vidipedia and one or more results are shown on the next page. If a single result exists it will be shown in video player mode which loads and plays the video automatically.

Use custom themes in Windows Vista

Just like in Windows XP the ability to use custom themes in Windows Vista is limited. There is however a very convenient way to unlock the ability to use custom themes in Windows Vista. All you need is the free software Code Gazer which, when executed, unlocks the ability to use custom themes and also changes the Vista Aero theme to use the Glass effect on maximized windows as well.

More Angry Videogamer Videos

I really enjoy the shows from this guy. He is reviewing all those bad video games that came out for classic gaming systems such as the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis. It is pure fun to see how he bashes the video games into oblivion showing lots of in game footage. The technique behind his videos is getting better as well which makes it a pleasure to watch his rants. Be advised that this is not really suitable for minors.