Archive for February, 2007

Make your PC desktop look like a Mac

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

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Do you covet the cool-looking Mac interface, while nevertheless preferring to use a Windows-based PC? One programmer felt the same way, and came up with "Fly a Kite", a program which will make your PC look like a Mac running OS X. The program is simply a "skin" for your Windows desktop, but it's full of options, plugins, and neat little tools.

Support for the program is extensive, quite a feat considering the website is run by just one person. There are detailed tutorials to get you started, and lots of helpful hints. There are also links to other websites offering free skins and add-ons. This is a great way to give your run-of-the-mill PC a stunning makeover.

Download FlyAKiteOSX

eBay auction search and snipe

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

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If you're an eBay junkie, you're going to love Prospector Lite. This is a free tool for performing automated searches on eBay. It also "snipes" – it can be pre-programmed to swoop in and win an auction during the last seconds before an item closes. For searches, Prospector saves your search criteria and lets you repeat searches with one click. Searches can be fine-tuned and filtered so you're only finding the items you're interested in, and you can search across multiple eBay sites at the same time.

One fun feature of this program is its ability to show you what other shoppers are bidding on. If you find you're in constant competition for items from one specific eBay ID, Prospector Lite can show you what items your competitor is bidding on. You might find something of interest that you'd missed.

Prospector Lite has two elements to it – a program which runs from your desktop, and a browser plugin. The program works on Windows computers, (Windows 98 through Vista), using Internet Explorer. The free version of the program limits you to 30 searches per day, and 15 snipes per month.

Get Free Prospector Lite

Store your passwords and shopping information

Monday, February 26th, 2007

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Roboform is a browser plugin which memorizes, encrypts, stores, and fills your personal information into online forms. Rather than having to tediously type your mailing address each time you place an order at an online store, Roboform can fill in those details with one quick click. Roboform can also store credit card information for one-click convenience.

Roboform may be best known for its ability to store and recall usernames and passwords. Once the program is installed, it will prompt you to save your login details as you visit different websites. The next time you return to that specific site, Roboform can fill in your login information with just one click. Each passcard is easily edited if information changes, and you can choose to edit information manually at any time. The advantage of a "click and fill" program is that it protects you from keylogging scripts. You're also protected from phishing scripts, as the program won't offer to fill in a password if you're not visiting the proper url.

You can choose to protect all passcards with a master password, a helpful feature if you share a computer. The free version of Roboform has no time limitation, but you can only save ten passcards. The program works with IE, Firefox, and IE for AOL.

Download Roboform

Make free ringtones

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

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Coolringer is a free program for Windows which will allow you to create a ringtone from any mp3 file or wav file on your computer. Using the program is very simple – install the software, right-click on a music file, and select the "Make Into a Ringtone" option. The resulting ringtone will be saved in the same folder as the source file. The ringtones you create can be used on a cell phone, or uploaded to VOIP services such as Skype.

The most difficult thing about creating your own ringtone is attempting to upload it to your phone or phone service. The Coolringer site offers extensive instructions for uploading either via IR or Bluetooth. It's still a process which will require a degree of skill and/or the knowledge of how your phone works, so some people may still prefer "for pay" ringtones which could be easier to send to the target phone. If you love music and like the option of inexpensively changing your ringtone, however, this program may be just the thing you're looking for.

Get Coolringer

Identify over 250 different languages

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

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To get right to the point, Language Identifier is able to accurately identify the language in which a document is written. It currently supports 260 documents and encoding modules, and new languages are being added all the time. The software publisher, LexTex, claims it's the most comprehensive language identifier program available.

If you find a webpage or document whose language is a mystery to you, simply copy and paste a section of it into Language Identifier, and click the "Identify" button. The program will tell you the likely identify of the language you've found, as well as name three similar languages for comparision purposes.

A program like this wouldn't have a lot of use for the average person, but if you need to identify a language, it's really the only way to go. If you're doing an important school or work project and find a document which seems crucial, and needs to be translaterd, you can use Language Identifier as the first step toward getting your document to the correct language translator. It's also a fun way to figure out the origin of all those annoying spam emails which are written in fancy languages.

Download Language Identifier

Turn your keyboard into a piano

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

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Just as the name promises, Tiny Piano turns your computer keyboard into an electronic 43 key, two row piano. It can play fifteen simultaneous tones (this limitation is caused by the keyboard), and it has a built-in metronome to keep you on-beat. You can also fine-tune the pitch, and reassign the keys/notes to a pattern which feels most comfortable. If you create a tune which is destined to become a hit song, you can record it as a midi file for future playback.

One of the most interesting things about Tiny Piano is that it's tiny. Not just piano-tiny, but software-tiny… it takes up all of 24Kb. The program can be easily moved around on a flash drive or even a floppy disk. There are probably fancier music-simulators on the Internet, but this one is free, well-tested over the years, and has a wonderful portability to it. There's also something very charming about the sound of midi.

Get Tiny Piano

Maintain and organize your browser bookmarks

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

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It's easy to acquire hundreds of website bookmarks over the years, but it's difficult to keep them organized in a useful manner. It's even more problematic to know if the bookmarked sites still exist if they haven't been visited in a while. AM Deadlink is a handy freeware program which detects dead links and duplicate links in browser bookmarks and text files. Once you've verified that a link is indeed no longer useful, you can delete it permanently. It will be easier to find the important bookmarks when the dead ones aren't cluttering things up.

AM Deadlink works with bookmarks/favorites in many of the most popular browsers, including IE, Netscape, Firefox, and Opera. It can also work with urls in tab delimited and comma separated text files. One other nice feature of AM Deadlink is that it can download the favicons for bookmarked sites, and display them in IE, Firefox, and Opera. The software author maintains a support forum on his website.

Download AM Deadlink

POP3 email notifier

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

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PopTray is a full-featured, customizable, e-mail notifier program which works with an unlimited number of email accounts. It will check email servers from almost any POP3 provider, as well as Webmail providers, and will notify you if new mail has arrived. You can customize the notifications using color and sound so you'll be able to see, at a glance, which account has received email, and even who it's from. If someone is being particularly annoying, PopTray can delete their mail without you ever having to see it. It allows you to designate detailed blacklists and whitelists as well.

PopTray will minimize itself as a tray icon while running, but will continue to display information such as the color indicators mentioned above, or the number of emails waiting to be read in each account. If you'd like to use PopTray with Webmail (like Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail), you'll need to download specific plugins for each service. The PopTray program is available in over 30 different languages, and extensive support is available on the website.

Get PopTray

Cooliris link preview plugin

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

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Cooliris is a nifty browser plugin which allows you to preview the content of hyperlinks without ever leaving the current webpage. If you're faced with a page full of links, you no longer have to pick and choose which ones to click at random. Cooliris will give you a glimpse of each links' webpage, so you can easily filter out the sites which look junky, and go straight to the sites which are of obvious interest. Cooliris will also show you previews of search results, Del.icio.us bookmarks, Flickr photos, and YouTube videos. It can be a real time saver.

The Cooliris plugin is currently available for many popular browsers, including IE, Safari, Firefox, and Flock, although the IE7 version is still in beta testing. The software's website has excellent documentation and support features if you run into any problems or have questions.

Download Cooliris

World clocks on your desktop

Monday, February 19th, 2007

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Your Mom lives in Scotland, your sister lives in Vancouver, you live in Houston, and you plan to meet some friends from Australia online for a rousing multiplayer game later in the evening. How can you possibly keep track of all those different times zones? Luckily, you can download a program called World Time, a program with more features than any one person could ever possibly need. They don't call it the "Swiss Army Knife of clocks" for nothing.

For starters, you'll get unlimited configurable clocks, each with it's own time zone, configurable Daylight Saving Time, latitude and longitude designation (with a built-in world map), and description. Each clock can display as either analog or digital, in either 12 or 24-hour time. In addition, each time zone can have an unlimited number of alarms. World Time calculates and displays the Julian date, sun rise, sun set, moon phase, and hours of daylight along with the time. The program will synchronize your computer's system clock with a time server, and it minimizes to the system tray when not in use.

The software designers maintain a busy support forum, so they're available to handle both problems and suggestions.

Download WorldTime