Archive for June, 2007

Make sense of traceroute with WebHopper

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

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Traceroute is an old command-line tool to see how data travels from any point on the Internet back to you. By sending a little packet of data up the wire, you can find out what path is being taken between you and the remote location, with information about how long things are taking. Useful, but not very friendly.

WebHopper puts a pretty face on traceroute's functionality. Along with the hostname and IP address of each server along the way, WebHopper will give you the physical location of each hop along the way. It makes it easy to see that the shortest distance between two points may indeed not be a straight line, and in fact that the email you send to the guy next door may indeed be routed through Cleveland along the way.

WebHopper is a Windows app, and should run on anything from Win95 or later.

Download WebHopper

Big database power in a little tool: dBworx

Friday, June 29th, 2007

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Big jobs can require big tools. You don't build a house with a tack hammer, but you can drive tacks with it. If you've got a little mailing list to maintain, you don't need to get out the big guns and set up a heavy-duty SQL database that you need to take care of.

dBworx is a snappy little relational database manager app that is so small it will fit on a diskette. Don't let its small size fool you, though. It's a powerful tool, supporting multiple data types, including text, numeric, time and date, formulas, graphics, and more. An easy-to-use GUI allows you to quickly and easily create new databases, and to add and edit data. Supporting up to fifty
fields per record, you shouldn't have any problem getting everything you need entered into the system.

You can print reports and mailing labels from inside the app, or you can import and export data from and to other apps as well.

dBworx is a freeware Windows app that will run on any 32-bit Windows system from Win95 on up.

Download dBworx

Make Vista as comfortable as an old shoe with TweakVI

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

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TweakUI used to be just the thing you needed to make your Windows system fly right. In one location, you could configure everything just the way you wanted it, and everyone lived happily ever after.

Then comes Windows Vista. Sure, it does more than any of its predecessors, but how do you make it bend to your will? How do you make it behave the way you want, for the way you work?

TweakVI may be the key to it all. The free "basic" edition of TweakVI will allow you to configure and optimize Vista so that it's just as comfortable to you as your previous system. Desktop preferences, start menu items, mouse behavior, and more–it's all in there. Rather than having to dig through layers of Windows interface, you can control it all from within TweakVI.

While there are paid versions of TweakVI available, the free "basic" edition will handle many of the configuration issues you run up against in Vista.

Since TweakVI tweaks Vista, you have to be running Windows Vista to use it, but you already knew that, right?

Download TweakVI

Link Leecher–no more dreaded “404” for your visitors

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

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Don't you hate visiting a web page where there are broken links? Links that should take you to just the right place for that tidbit of information you are looking for, or that great online bargain, or that swell new website you wanted to visit? It's just bad. What's worse than that? It's when you are the webmaster and it's your link that's broken.

Sure, you could spend a lot of time every hour or day or week making sure that all the links on all your pages are working, but maybe your time should be spend on something more interesting, to say nothing of more productive. What if you had a tool to take care of this chore for you?

Link Leecher is a free service that will check your links for you. It's an online app that takes your URL and visits the page and identifies all the hyperlinks in that document. You can then tell it to check the status of each of those links. Link Leecher can check all the links on a page, or you can use filters to specify which links you want to check. You can output your results onscreen as HTML, save to a text file, or even create an RSS feed.

Visit Link Leecher

TubeTV puts YouTube in your pocket

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

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YouTube is arguably the Next Biggest Thing. Unless you're not online. At that point, it's just another resource that's not available to you. Until now.

TubeTV is a slick app that allows you to convert YouTube videos into a format that's usable by your iPod, phone, or even AppleTV. YouTube, Google Video, MySpace, and others use a special Flash Video format for their movies. Those flv files aren't readily accessible by your run-of-the-mill media player, but TubeTV can take those files and convert them into other formats that are usable by your other apps.

To use it, just download your movie, convert it, and there you go. In addition to various video formats, you can also rip the audio track alone directly to MP3, so even your pre-video iPod can reap the rewards.

You will need to have QuickTime on your machine, and the Perian plugin (link available at the site) to complete your conversions.

TubeTV is a Mac app and requires OS X 10.4.

Download TubeTV

Safari goes to the Dark Side

Monday, June 25th, 2007

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Mac users have claimed for many years that they had many advantages over their less-fortunate Windows-using colleagues. We won't get into the merits of that claim right now. Among the differences was the availability of the Safari web browser. Until now, this app has been a Mac-only program.

Apple has released a public beta of a Windows version of their Safari browser. Touted as being much faster than Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera, Safari features all the stuff you would expect in a modern browser: clean interface, tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, built-in RSS support, and more.

Since it is officially a beta-level product at this point, there may be a few glitches here and there, but they are working to perfect this new offering. As of this writing, they are already up to their second release, picking up fixes to some security issues that have come up.

If you're a Windows user who likes iTunes–another formerly Mac-only program–then you may want to put on your pith helmet and go on a Safari.

Safari for Windows requires XP or Vista.

Download Safari for Windows

Dump spam with Spam Experts Home

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

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Spam is a nasty thing. It clogs up your inbox; it takes your time and attention to get rid of it. There are lots of tools out there to help get rid of it, but many of them require that you change your email client to get that protection. True, that copy of EZMailDesktopClient you've been using forever could be replaced, but it works just right with your routine. How can you add anti-spam functionality to that old tool?

Spam Experts Home is an app that may be just the ticket for you. Instead of replacing your familiar email program, Spam Experts Home sits between you and your mail server. Whenever your email program asks the server to give it any new mail that has accumulated, Spam Experts Home intercepts that request, and it downloads the new messages. It then sorts through them, and sends the good ones along to you. It works with both POP3 and IMAP mail systems, so it will probably work for you.

Using a "training period", Spam Experts Home lets you teach it what is spam and what isn't. Over time, it learns your preferences, and will get better and better and trashing the real spam, and letting the good stuff come through.

Spam Experts Home is a free download for home use. It runs on Win2k or later, although they are still working on Vista compatibility.

Download Spam Experts Home

Earthquakes, storms, fires: stay on top of it all with Earth Alerts

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

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Planet Earth is a restless place. Between severe weather, active earthquake faults, and erupting volcanoes, there's always something going on out there. We're all curious and like to know what's happening; sometimes, it's more than that and we really need to know.

Earth Alerts takes information from many different sources and conveniently puts it all in one place, making it easy to stay on top of what's happening out there. Calling on resources such as the US Geological Survey, the National Weather Service, and more, this app keeps you up to date on what is happening out there.

You can specify the type of information you want to track, and let Earth Alerts do the heavy lifting, keeping an eye on the data–much of it in real-time–coming from these trusted sources. You will be among the first to know when storms hit, the ground shakes, volcanoes erupt, or any of the many other events you choose to track.

Earth Alerts is a Windows app and requires WinXP or Vista.

Download Earth Alerts

Analyze your way into geek nirvana with FileAlyzer

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

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As the name suggests, FileAlyzer is a tool to analyze files. Open almost any file and take a look at what's inside.

FileAlyzer shows you the file itself in hex, so you're looking at the unvarnished real stuff in there. Along with the standard info that Explorer would show you–name, date, size, and all–FileAlyzer will give you checksum values for the file. Beyond the general stuff, FileAlyzer can help you better understand what you're looking at down there in the guts of the files. It recognizes common file contents, so that it present .ini files by category, for instance, listing the contents of each section. HTML preview can be used to open web page files without the risk of inadvertent running of any included scripting code. View data and resources, exported functions, and a host of other goodies in executable files. Take a look at what's included in that .zip file you've got sitting on your desktop. You can even check out the ID3 tags in MP3 files.

FileAlyzer should run on any Windows system from Win98 on up.

Download FileAlyzer

Loan Calculator tells you how much that loan is going to cost

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

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How much is that new house or car really going to cost you? Sure, you negotiate for the best price; you fight for the best interest rate, but what's it going to cost you by the time you pay it off? Amortization tables are complicated, and you probably don't have one stuck in your back pocket. You could go out and buy an expensive financial calculator. Or you could download Loan Calculator, a free tool to figure your costs for you.

Key in the loan amount, the interest rate, and the number of payments, and Loan Calculator will tell you how much your loan is going to cost you by the time you pay your purchase off. It will also tell you what each payment will be. You can take control of you negotiations and your purchases by knowing beforehand just what your purchase will really cost you.

Loan Calculator will also generate printable amortization tables, so you will know each step of the way how much your loan has cost you to date.

Loan Calculator is distributed as a Universal Binary for OS X.

Download Loan Calculator