Archive for August, 2007

Turn back time with TimeDrawer

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

screenshot of TimeDrawer

Creativity and industriousness are good things. You start a job; you keep working on it; you have brilliant "ah ha!" moments. Whether you're writing the great American novel or the next killer software app, you are on a roll. And then it happens.

Oops–that last change didn't work. And it broke what was there before. Now what do you do? If only you could turn back time. Good thing you're using TimeDrawer.

TimeDrawer is a standalone revision control system. When you run it on your system, it keeps track of your changes, as often as each time you save your document or other file. That means that when you break your code, or accidentally delete your last chapter, you can get it back. Rather than having to re-create what was just lost, you can just go grab an earlier version.

On a less dramatic level, TimeDrawer isn't just a disaster recovery system, It can help you to keep track of your intentional changes as well. It uses highlighting to make it easy to see what has changed in one version of a document compared to earlier versions. Now you can stay on top of your edits and keep your project on track.

TimeDrawer is a Mac app and requires version 10.4 of OS X.

Download TimeDrawer

Avoid a common pain in the neck – or wrist – with Workrave

Monday, August 20th, 2007

screenshot of Workrave

Repetitive Strain Injury is a serious issue for regular users of the computer keyboard and mouse, as well as for others who work a lot with their hands. While we can't help non-computer users, there is an aid available for computer users.

Workrave may help you avoid and recover from RSI-type injuries. Based on the principle of "micro-pauses", Workrave encourages you to move or reposition your hands, as well as to get up and move from your seat. By popping a reminder up on your screen, you are reminded to take a micro-pause, a rest break, or even to end your day, based on total elapsed time for the day. By breaking, or at least changing your position, you may help to avoid these kinds of serious repetitive strain problems.

You can configure Workrave to set intervals between breaks, and the length of those breaks. In addition, reminders can include exercises you can incorporate into your day

Workrave is available for Windows and Linux systems

Download Workrave

Manage the clutter with ShortcutMan.G

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

screenshot of ShortcutMan.G

ShortcutMan.G is a handy app that lets you organize up to twenty quick start icons on your Windows system. Rather than having them spread all across your desktop, with ShortcutMan.G, you can put shortcut icons for the apps you use most often all in one handy location and grab them from your System Tray. Add icons by browsing for them, or just grab them and drag into the ShortcutMan.G window.

You can organize your icons however it makes sense to you. You can set the orientation of the ShortcutMan.G window to either vertical or horizontal. With the ability to change and tweak the icons themselves, you can make sure that you don't have to deal with multiple instances of the same icon–always a problem when you are accessing directories on your system, since by default all Windows file folders share the same icon.

You can choose to have any of your shortcut apps start with Windows, or to wait for you to start them manually.

ShortcutMan.G is a Windows application.

Download ShortcutMan.G

How critical is your system? MWAV Toolkit keeps things running right

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

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The Internet's a dangerous place. Plenty of folks out there who want to put their stuff on your system, and they'll go to all kinds of extremes to get it there. You need to make sure that you do your best to keep uninvited visitors away. There are all kinds of tools that help to remove viruses, shutdown spyware, and otherwise help you to maintain a clean system. Here's one that does a bunch of those things all at once.

MWAV is one-stop shopping for detection and removal of bad things from your system. Along with virus detection MWAV hunts down adware, spyware, trojans, and other nasties and removes it from your computer. Getting start is as easy as just downloading the app and running it–there is no complicated install necessary.

When you download MWAV, you get the latest list of viruses so that you know you're getting rid of all the latest that the bad guys have up their sleeves.

MWAV is compatible with everything Windows, from 95 through Vista, and 64-bit versions as well.

Download MWAV Toolkit

Share files easily with HFS, the HTTP File Server

Friday, August 17th, 2007

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File sharing is an important productivity aid. Having the ability to share documents, diagrams, or other data among team members goes a long way toward getting work done quicker and more effectively. Unfortunately, the price of admission can be fairly steep when you consider the complexity of setting up and maintaining various file sharing server apps.

HFS, the HTTP File Server (no relation to the Macintosh file system of the same name), is a personal file server application that uses HTTP to transport files to and from the server. If you have a web browser, you already know how to use HFS.

Setup is simple to set up and runs right out of the box. A user-friendly interface lets you tweak settings to make things "just right". While HFS is a "real" webserver, it doesn't support server-side scripting or some other more advanced functionality. Its main purpose is that of providing a platform for filesharing, and it does that well.

As will all filesharing setups, remember to only share data which you own or have rights to–no piracy, right? And also remember that giving access to machines that aren't on your network means that you have to provide an opening through your firewall, so take all standard precautions there.

HFS will run on most any modern flavor of Windows.

Download HFS

Looking for interesting new tools we stumbled upon StumbleUpon

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

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Search engines give you lists of pages that match the keywords you're searching on. That's okay much of the time, but it also means that you may have lots of extra material to dig through. Just because they match your keywords doesn't necessarily mean that they are really what you're looking for.

Web directories can be a help in organizing information out there, but you're stuff with predefined categories and the judgment of the editors as to where a given page will land. If you don't think like the editors, you'll never find what you're looking for.

StumbleUpon is a like a web directory crossed with an online community. Users make recommendations of pages that they've found, so you can look at pages that are given a "thumbs up" by people who are interested in the same things you are. Rather than an impersonal editor who has to review tons of pages, you're now getting recommendations from folks who share your interests and passions. That means that rather than just matching keywords, or hitting some predefined categories, you will find pages and sites that are relevant conceptually to what you are really looking for.

StumbleUpon is available as a toolbar add-on for Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Download StumbleUpon

Tuck your email safely in your pocket with Reach-a-Mail

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

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Reach-a-Mail is a teeny, tiny email client. You can load it onto a USB thumb drive, and you've now got portable email. Plug it into any Internet-connected computer and you can access all your POP email without having to install anything on the host machine. It has a simple address book, or grab your contacts from Outlook Express and you've got everything you need to conduct business from your USB drive.

Easy to configure, you can choose to leave your messages on the server, so that you can grab them later with your regular email client. You have the choice of downloading message headers only, for speed, or entire messages, so that you have real email functionality. Sending and forwarding of email is also supported,

Reach-a-Mail is a free Windows program that will run on any system with Win98 or later.

Download Reach-a-Mail

Speed up your apps without speeding up your machine with Speed Freak

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

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Your Mac is a busy place inside. Along with your word processor, web browser, email client, and all the other programs you're running, there are all kinds of system programs running at the same time. Under OS X, all of these individual processes are supposed to get the same amount of processor time. That means that your resources are being spread pretty thin, especially if you're actually trying to do something. Wouldn't it be nice if the app you are working with right now actually got a performance boost, so that it did things faster than all that other stuff out there?

Speed Freak may be the answer you're looking for. Using some behind-the-scenes UNIX sleight-of-hand, Speed Freak makes sure that the active app, the one you're working with, gets the highest priority in scheduling processor time. That means that your work will get more attention than the other things that are happening in the background. That means that you get done sooner, while that second-tier stuff still gets enough processor horsepower to get the job done.

Some of the "slow" you experience may come from things like your connection speed to the Internet, and Speed Freak won't do anything to help that. But when you're working with things on your machine, it can definitely give your work an added boost.

Speed Freak is a free download that runs on Mac OS X 10.4. There is also an older unsupported version for 10.3 users.

Download Speed Freak

An old guy with a white beard helps you keep organized: Noah

Monday, August 13th, 2007

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Information overload. We all have so much stuff to keep track of: email, websites, newsfeeds, desktop documents. Often we have a separate application to use to interact with this information. Email client, web browser, feed reader, productivity tools. That's a lot of tools to use for a lot of information. Streamlining that process would be a good thing, right?

Noah is a tool to help with that very problem. Rather than dealing with a bunch of separate "data islands", Noah provides a way to organize and retrieve data from all these separate sources. With Noah, you can organize your life so that all information pertaining to a particular project, individual, or topic can be found easily. Noah filters in the relevant data, organized by date, while hiding the extraneous stuff, so that you can focus on what is important to you. With Noah, you won't have to dig through mountains of spam or long lists of bookmarks to find what you need for that important sales meeting–it's already there waiting for you.

An online video tutorial helps you get up and running quickly, so you won't get bogged down learning the tool that keeps you from being bogged down anyway.

Noah is a Windows app and runs on XP.

Download Noah

Fight global warming with Local Cooling

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

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Excess consumption of fossil fuels leads to creation of more greenhouse gasses which leads to global warming. Whichever side of the argument you come down on–it's real or it's all made up–it's safe to assume that we could all use less energy in our daily lives. Even if it doesn't save the planet, cutting back on our energy consumption will have a measurable effect on our ban balances. Use less energy, spend less money–a pretty simple calculation.

Our computers use a fair amount of energy. Monitors, disk drives, fans, all the electronic bits in our systems want to be fed. More than just a power management system, Local Cooling gives you feedback on how much energy you are saving when you implement more strict limits on your PCs power consumption. Data is displayed in terms of the number of trees you have saved, the gallons of oil you haven't used, or maybe primary to your bottom line, it tells you how may kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity you haven't consumed, and that translates directly into dollars saved on the bottom line.

Local Cooling is a Windows app, although the developers report they've got a new multi-platform version in the pipeline.

Download Local Cooling