Archive for October, 2006

School Assignment Organizer for MacOS

Monday, October 9th, 2006

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For students brought up in the Information Age, who feel themselves unable to function without some sort of computerized assistant, here for you is Schoolhouse for the Mac.

It's a tool for keeping track of your courses and assignments. It contains a calendar which will pester you about things coming due; it contains a graphing tool so that you can visually track your progress in a course; there's a tool for publishing your results for sharing and discussion; and you can set up groups which reference your various categories of assignments, updated either manually or automatically (according to criteria which you set up). There's even a tool to load your assignments to your iPod for easy reference. In short, this program will do everything to manage your courses and assignments that you can imagine — except, of course, to do them for you.

The website is pretty sparse: it has a short description of the product and links to a forum and to the download. There's also a link that will enable you to make a donation to the project. The hot button for Schoolhouse is that it does everything you need – and costs a hell of a lot less than conventional programs such as MS Project.

Get Schoolhouse

Free International Phone Calls

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

A new company is promising unlimited, free international calling from the U.S. to 55 countries. According to Futurephone, "We're offering this service for free in order to build up the company's brand-name recognition. Our plan is to offer additional services in the future."

You can call from any telephone (you don't have to fuss with VOIP software on your computer.) Start by dialing Futurephone's gateway at 1-712-858-8883 (located in Iowa.) Follow the voice prompts to choose your language, then dial 011 followed by the international telephone number. In a few seconds, you'll be connected to that number.

(If you need to look up the international country and city codes for your call, check out How To Call.info.)

Futurephone's home page lists the countries that it supports. The company says there are no strings attached, and it seems to be true. (I heard no advertising, either.) Futurephone says the service will remain free until 2010.

If you try Futurephone, let other readers know how it worked by posting in the comments section.

Send a Fax Free

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

FaxZero.com

Need to send a fax from your PC? FaxZero lets you send faxes from your computer to any fax machine in the U.S., Canada, or Puerto Rico, for free. The free service is cool, but there's also a $1.99 "premium" service that's worth considering.

The free service lets you send up to two faxes per day, of up to 3 pages each (plus the FaxZero cover sheet.) The cover sheet of free faxes includes a 1/2-page advertisement. You can fax a Microsoft Word (.DOC) file, Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) file, or plain text.

The $1.99 service eliminates the cover page ad, which makes it a better choice for business communications, faxing a resume, etc. The maximum page count increases to 15 pages, and there's no two-fax-per-day limit. You can pay with your PayPal account or a credit card.

Either way, there are no subscription fees, and no need to sign up or subscribe — it's just a very fast way to send faxes from your computer, without the hassle of printing it out and driving to use the copy shop's overpriced fax machine.

Go to FaxZero

(Almost) Free dance pad for StepMania

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

Kraft Dance Pad

I've written about StepMania, the very fun, free Dance Dance Revolution clone, here before. Dance games are fun and are great exercise. Kids love them, and I know adults who have cancelled their gym memberships to play 20 minutes of StepMania each day instead.

To play StepMania the way it was meant to be played, you need a dance pad. It turns out that Kraft is giving away dance pads for free: you just pay $6 for shipping. The pad is intended to be used with the four free games that you can download from Kraft's Active Gaming web site — there's a dance game, a soccer game, a "whack-a-mole"-type game, and a martial arts game. All four of the games are pretty good (for Windows only.)

But the cool part is that the $6 dance pad works perfectly with StepMania — and not just on Windows, but on MacOS X, too. (I haven't tried it with StepMania for Linux, but have no reason do doubt that the pad will work fine with that version too.) The pad has a standard USB connector — just plug it in and it works. All I had to do was configure the pad one time in StepMania's options page.

I received my dance pad about a week after I ordered it. (And although Kraft says there's only one pad per household, I've just ordered a second one, because StepMania has a two-player mode.)