Archive for July, 2007

Find out whether it’s time to clean house with Disk Inventory X

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

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Too much stuff. When you've got too much in your pockets, you can see them bulge. When kids have too much stuff in their backpacks, you can tell by the chiropractor bills. What about your computer? Too much stuff on the hard drive and it doesn't bulge; it doesn't make your system bend over and struggle to stand. But it can make it sluggish and just not as light on its feet as usual. But how do can you tell if it's too much stuff?

Disk Inventory X is a slick little tool that lets you take a look at your hard drive. Using a graphical representation called a "treemap", You can see just how much of your hard drive is taken up with your extensive music collection, or all those photos from last summer's vacation. The treemap uses rectangular regions with alternating horizontal and vertical orientations to represent the chunks of your hard drive taken up by documents, images, and other files. With an accompanying key, it's easy to visualize how much of your drive space is taken up by which types of files.

Disk Inventory X is a free Mac application and requires OS X 10.3 or later.

Download Disk Inventory X

PC Image Editor: It’s not Photoshop, but it’s not a zillion bucks either

Monday, July 30th, 2007

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Sometimes you need all the bells and whistles. Other times, it's more important to just get the job done.

PC Image Editor is an easy-to-use image editor program that will do most of what you need to do, and for a very affordable price: free.

Compatible with most commonly used graphics formats, PC Image Editor has a very straightforward interface that will have you taking care of business without having to learn how to use the tools. Along with the usual draw, paint, and erase tools, you have access to functionality that allows you to rotate, flip, and skew you selection. With over a dozen filters available, you can use all kinds of effects to give your work just the right look.

While there is no support for layers or actions like in Photoshop, PC Image Editor will take care of most of what you need to do.

Note that the prominent download button on the publisher's web page says "Trial Version", but the app you get is a full free version for non-commercial use.

PC Image Editor is a Windows app that will run on anything from Win98 through vista.

Download PC Image Editor

Laptop Alarm: It’s like a car alarm for your computer

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

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In spite of other products that may want to stake a claim. it seems to me that the laptop computer itself may actually be the greatest thing since sliced bread. To take a notebook-sized box and put more computing power in it than used to fill a room is always amazing to me. This all comes at a price, however.

Nobody ever tried to steal ENIAC. It would have taken a truck–and not a small truck at that–to pinch that behemoth. Your laptop? Turn your back for a minute and it'll fit nicely into somebody's bag or folder.

If you're used to taking your laptop out in public with you, you probably have a cable lock to secure it to a desk or table. But do you always use it? Sure, you're only going to turn your back for a minute, and it's kind of a pain to unroll it that cable, wrap it around some stationary object, and lock it up. Is there anything else easier to use?

Laptop Alarm is an interesting application that may help keep your laptop yours. Configurable to choose which events trigger it, you can set Laptop Alarm to sound its alarm when the A/C power adapter is unplugged, your USB mouse is disconnected, or when the system is shut down. Since these are all likely scenarios for anybody trying to get the five-finger discount on your baby, you're more likely to not be separated from your system when it screams as it walks away. Not a bad deal.

Laptop Alarm is a Windows app and runs on Win98 or later.

Download Laptop Alarm

Finally a progress bar that really doesn’t mislead

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

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Fake Progress Bar is exactly that. How many times have you started some process on your system and been greeted by the progress bar that never gives you any real information? It may be the blue line that never gets any longer, no matter how much thrashing your hard drive does. Or our favorite: the progress bar that actually indicates that there is more time left, the longer your process runs.

With Fake Progress Bar, you are finally the master of the nonsensical progress bar. You can configure it with a custom title, button labels, speed and progress indicators, and more. You can also override your screensaver. Just imagine how productive you'll look with the big progress bar running across your screen, while you catch up on your reading, IM-ing, of other not-so-productive pursuits.

Fake Progress Bar is a Windows app and will run on just about any version.

Download Fake Progress Bar

You can leave your magnifying glass at home with ZoomIt

Friday, July 27th, 2007

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ZoomIt is a slick little tool designed to use during technical presentations. It will allow you to magnify regions of your screen, move around on-screen, and even make notes on the screen.

Sitting in the system tray, ZoomIt is activated via a hotkey combination. Once it's activated, you can move the magnified region around on the screen, and you can draw freehand figures with your mouse, or type annotations onto the screen.

Along with magnifying screens for your big presentation, you can use ZoomIt to make screens you're working on easier to read. As we become more youth-challenged (and our eyesight gets worse) , we find that sometimes our arms aren't long enough to really read the newspaper. At the same time, we have to get a real good squint going to make out some of the smaller details in images and text on our screens. A magnifier can come in handy at times like these.

ZoomIt is compatible with virtually all versions of Windows.

Download ZoomIt

Browse the web while offline with Proxy Offline Browser Private Edition

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

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Sometimes you're online, and sometimes you're not. Suppose you're not, but you really need to confirm some important info you saw on your favorite website just the day before. You're out of luck–until now.

Proxy Offline Browser is a slick little tool that lets you take the whole Web with you. Running in the background as a proxy server, Proxy Offline Browser keeps a copy of all pages that pass through it. That means that you are building a store of pages while you surf. Now when you need to re-examine that page from yesterday, you've already got a local copy of it. That means you can visit it again even when you're nowhere near your network, or your modem is sound asleep. When you're back online, visiting that page again will update the cached copy you have on your system, so you always have the latest and greatest.

Proxy Offline Browser Private Edition is a Java app, so it'll run on anything that supports the Java runtime or development kit, including OS X, Windows, Linux, and other flavors of *NIX as well. Best of all, it's free for personal use.

Download Proxy Offline Browser Private Edition

Work together smarter with Wrike

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

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Wrike is an online planning tool with a difference. The difference is that tasks are entered via email. To assign a task to a team member, simply email them, with a copy to Wrike, and you've entered a task into the system. The subject of the email becomes the name of the associated task. There is also a web interface for entering and assigning tasks. Wrike monitors progress on tasks, and generates reminders automatically when changes are made or deadlines are hit.

All stakeholders have access to tasks, so they can be edited and updated by their author, the assignee, or even interested third parties. When changes are made, everyone is updated via on-screen message or email. You'll never have to wonder what the status of a project is at any time.

The free version of Wrike supports one user account and up to twenty tasks at a time.

Since Wrike is an online service, it will work for anybody with an email client and a web browser. Since you're reading this message, you're already qualified.

Download Wrike

iPhoney: as close as you can get without camping out in line

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

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If you were able to score an iPhone the first day out, congratulations! For everyone else, here's the consolation prize: iPhoney.

iPhoney is an iPhone simulator. While it doesn't place calls, and you can't upload your iTunes library into it, you can optimize your website for display in the iPhone's web browser. Sporting a 320 x 480 simulated display–or a 480 x 320 display–you can see how your web pages will appear on the iPhone's screen. Rotate the display to see it both ways.

In addition, iPhoney simulates the iPhone's user agent string, so you can check your redirects and other browser-specific behavior.

If you're developing web sites for the iPhone and don't have one of your own, you really need to give iPhoney a spin.

Two year contract not required.

iPhoney is a Mac app and requires OS X 10.4.7 or later.

Download iPhoney

Stick is like sticky notes with a brain

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

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Stick is a "virtual sticky-note" application. More than just an electronic PostIt note, Stick uses "tabs" to build little applets that hang out on your desktop.

With Navigator tabs (little file browsers), Internet tabs (little web browser windows), and Note tabs (small text editors), you can have just the smart tabs you need open and running on your desktop. The tab windows can dock to the sides of your screen, and collapse or expand as you use them. Plugins are available to extend the set of functionality of your tabs; these include a calendar, an RSS client, and even a simple calculator.

You can open collapsed tabs via mouse click or through hotkey combinations, guaranteeing you access even when your desktop is buried under other running applications.

Stick is a Windows app, and is compatible with Vista.

Download Stick

Make free video calls with SightSpeed

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

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SightSpeed is a communications service reminiscent of Skype. The free Personal Edition allows you to make free computer-to-computer voice calls to other members anywhere in the world. With SightSpeed you can also make video calls as well–and the person you're calling doesn't even have to be a member. (Non-members must be running IE 6 or later.)

In addition to real-time communication, SightSpeed allows you to create video mail, allowing your recipient to view and hear your message when it's most convenient for them.

SightSpeed also has a built-in chat client, so you can be on a call with somebody and still IM-ing with someone else.

Sight Speed Personal Edition runs on both Windows (Win2k or better) and Mac (OS X 10.3.9 or later) systems.

Download SightSpeed Personal Edition