Archive for July, 2007

For time and date information, it’s almost MagiCal

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

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Does anybody really know what time it is? With a computer, the answer to that musical question, of course, is "yes." All systems have clocks, and they do delight in showing them. Are your time and date monitoring needs met by the default display, or do you need something more?

MagiCal is a combination calendar and clock that will work with- or can replace your menubar clock. Using the Preferences panel, you can tweak formatting so that you can display time information in the menubar in a format that makes sense to you. Grab a preset format, or even design your own–it's up to you.

With MagiCal, you can drop grab a single month calendar, or you can tear the page off and create multiple calendars, which can be independently positioned on your desktop. It's an easy to look at two or more months at the same time, without having to flip back and forth between them. Handy when planning your life out.

While it won't add any more hours to the day, MagiCal will help you use the ones you already have more efficiently.

MagiCal is a Mac app and runs under OS X.

Download MagiCal

You can take it with you with podLoadr

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

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Your iPod is a favorite bring-along item no matter where you go. You can jam a lot of stuff into that little package, and be on your way. Music, podcasts, all kinds of stuff to keep you occupied. What about bringing something other than audio content along with you?

podLoadr is a neat little tool that allows you to easily add text to your iPod. Using the Notes feature that was introduced in third-gen iPods, you can jam text into your iPod and bring it along. Whether text documents, web pages, RSS feeds, or other content, it's easy to upload them to the iPod, and then you're off and running. To look at your additions, just choose Extras > Notes and then select the item you want to view.

Because of the iPod's architecture, there are certain limitations here. Large documents will be broken into 4k chunks, and you can't have more than about 2000 individual notes.

podLoadr is alpha-level software, so be sure you have a good backup of any data or media files on your iPod, in case the unthinkable happens and you have to reformat it.

podLoadr is cross-platform, being built in Java. That means you will need to have the Java developers' kit or runtime installed on your system to use it. After that, it should run on anything that supports Java.

Download podLoadr

Find stuff you didn’t even know was missing with TextCrawler

Monday, July 9th, 2007

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Way back when, everything was written on clay tablets and papyrus. Cumbersome, to say the least. After quill pens and typewriters had their day, eventually computers came on the scene. Easy to work with: you type stuff, you save it in files, and you're good to go.

Once you've created content, how do you go back and find it again? With clay tablets, you had to grab a pile and start reading through it. With the computer, you at least had a "search" or "find" command that allowed you to let your machine do the searching. You still had to know where to look, or where to tell your machine to look.

TextCrawler is a nifty tool that will search through multiple files and folders to find what you're looking for. "I know I wrote something about gadgets last week–or was it last year?" It can take a long time to figure-out where you've squirreled that information away. With TextCrawler, just tell it what you're looking for, and it'll dig through a mountain of files to find it. Through the use of Regular Expressions, your searching can take on a new complexity, since you can specify not only a text string, but also position in a sentence, paragraph, or document as well. Save those searches into the the Regular Expression library, and reuse them next time you're searching.

TextCrawler is a Windows app and is compatible with Win98 or later.

Download TextCrawler

Validate HTML code and more with RightWebPage

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

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It's important that web pages be coded correctly. Not only can incorrectly written pages cause problems for your human visitors, but in some cases, this can cause problems for search engine robots in getting your pages indexed for Google and the other search engines. If you can't serve your visitors well-formed pages, there's no telling what benefit they'll receive from visiting your site, assuming they can find it or see it at all.

RightWebPage is an HTML validator, but it's a validator with a difference. Not only will it examine and give feedback on the coding for your pages; it will also fix many of the problems that it finds on those pages. RightWebPage uses W3C standards, so you know its validations are valid. It can add missing height and width attributes for images, for example, which in turn helps your pages to load faster, as well as missing attributes for meta tags as well.

The app will also verify links from your site, looking for broken hyperlinks to missing pages–the dreaded "404" error. It's smart enough that it will even recognize missing page errors that are trapped and redirected to custom error pages.

RightWebPage is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.

Download RightWebPage

A Ruler For Windows is not your next hot-shot IT guy

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

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As you might imagine with a name like A Ruler For Windows, this app gives you a ruler for your Windows system. Fire it up, and you get an onscreen virtual ruler, in woodgrain or a clear see-through ruler.

A Ruler For Windows will let you measure between two points on your screen, and help you to place items precisely. Supporting various magnification modes, you can get even more precise by zooming in on your subject.

You can drag your ruler, or rulers, since it will support multiple rulers, around the screen, change which edge the "ticks" appear on, and even resize the ruler. Click near a "tick" and get a measuring line drawn at that precise location.

A Ruler For Windows will run under Win2k, XP, and Vista.

Download A Ruler For Windows

DriveSentry is like a firewall for your hard drive

Friday, July 6th, 2007

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The Bad People are trying to get you. Viruses, Trojans, spyware–the list does go on. So the Good People provide tools to help you fight back. Antivirus apps, spyware detectors, firewalls to keep them out. Here's another weapon to add to your arsenal.

DriveSentry is like a firewall for your hard drive. In the same way that you can allow or deny apps the ability to talk to your local network of the Internet with a firewall, you can use DriveSentry to allow or deny apps the ability to write back to your hard drive. You can choose folders to protect, file types, removable media, and even your all-important settings files and the registry. By setting permissions on a application-by-application basis, you can be sure that when your hard drive is written to, that it's you who's doing the writing.

DriveSentry is a Windows app and requires Win2k or later.

Download DriveSentry

SheepShaver PPC emulator lets you run your favorite Classic apps on your MacIntel machine

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

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Progress is a good thing. It generally makes things better–bigger, faster, stronger. Sometimes, though, things get left in the dust. When was the last time you bought a tape for your Betamax? (Kids, go ask your parents.)

Nowhere does the steady march into the future move more relentlessly than in the computer biz. You can hardly buy a machine or application where it isn't obsolete before you get the shrinkwrap off of it. One of the latest places where this has happened in Apple's change from PowerPC to Intel chips.

Along with all great new capabilities of the x86 architecture comes a great loss–you can't run Classic Mac apps any more. With PPC machines, you always had the option of running the great pre-OS X apps out there (a particular favorite of ours is Symantec's MORE, an outliner from way way back).

SheepShaver is a PowerPC emulator that allows you to run Classic apps on your MacIntel machine. Along with the application itself, you'll need a copy of MacOS and an appropriate ROM image (info on how to get a ROM image is included in the FAQs on the application's website). Once you load it all up, you will be able to run all your favorite Classic apps on your shiny new Intel box.

SheepShaver is a Mac application, but it also has Windows and Linux flavors as well.

Download SheepShaver

BGEye–it’s not a basket of puppies on your desktop

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

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How compulsive are you? How much information do you need? Some folks are really into the plug-n-play mentality–those people tend to just want to use their computer to get the job done. There are those of the geekier persuasion–and you know who you are–who want to know everything about what their system's up to. Those people will probably like BGEye.

BGEye is basically a heads-up display of your system information. Rather than digging through dusty corners of your system to see what's up, BGEye takes tons of system information and puts in right out there in front of everybody. BGEye creates desktop wallpaper that shows you what's really going on under the covers.

Users can choose from a huge list of system info and attributes to keep track of. Time and date are included of course, but so is info about the behavior of various devices attached to- and part of your system–video card, network adapters, RAM and storage devices, peripherals, the whole nine yards. You can totally geek out while still trying to get some work done.

BGEye requires Win2k or newer. But if you're that geeky, you've already got that.

Download BGEye

Your highlighters won’t dry out with Skim

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

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As handy as computerized text is, sometimes it just isn't enough. If you're looking at a big chunk of text and you need to highlight passages within it, you may be tempted to print it out and go after it with your highlighter pens. What if you could mark it up without running it through your printer first?

Skim is a PDF reader and note taker. Along with opening PDF files, you can make your own annotations and add highlighting to the text. Skim stores your annotations in extended file attributes, which are similar to the resource forks often associated with Mac files. This means that your notes and additions, while always accessible to you, don't actually change the underlying PDF file itself. It also means that if you share these annotated files with other users, via email for example, that you will need to take special care to make sure that this metadata gets to your destination as well. The FAQs on the publisher's website gives strategies to use here.

Skim can also open the odd PostScript (PS) file you might have lying about, and convert it to PDF format.

To run Skim, you'll need OS X Tiger (10.4).

Download Skim

ServiWin is at your service

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

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Your computer is a complicated place. Not only are there applications running on your system, like your email and word processing program, but there are also other things happening behind the scenes. In the PC world these are called "services" (similar to daemons in the *NIX world) and generally include housekeeping tasks that are performed automatically by your system. One of the characteristics of services is that they don't have a user interface, since they generally answer only to the operating system.

From time to time, you may need to manually start or stop a service. With a tool like ServiWin, you can easily identify the services on your system, their current status (started or stopped), and even how they are normally initiated (by the system, at boot time, manually, etc.). You can also start and stop services at will, which may help you in troubleshooting problems with your system.

A word of warning here: when you're messing about with services, you may put your system into an unstable state. Be sure you know what you're doing, and don't jump in willy-nilly, or you may create a more serious problem for yourself.

ServiWin requires WinNT/2k or later, and doesn't support Win9x or ME.

Download ServiWin