Archive for December, 2007

KompoZer takes the pain out of web authoring

Monday, December 31st, 2007

screenshot of KompoZer

KompoZer is a high-end WYSIWYG web authoring system that just happens to be free. With power like Dreamweaver and a price of $0, how can you go wrong?

Built on the Gecko rendering engine, the same one used by the Firefox web browser, KompoZer is fast and reliable. It doesn't require that you know any HTML in order to create killer web pages. It builds good HTML, not like some word processors, so you don't have to go in and fix what the tool created. With built-in validation, you can verify that you're putting clean code out there. Making extensive use of stylesheets, your code will be rendered more accurately by most web browsers. With tabbed documents, you can have multiple files open at once, and each one can be viewed in normal WYSIWYG mode, as well as HTML Tags mode, to see where the important tags are located, and even in source mode, so can see the underlying code, though you don't have to. And finally, with built in FTP support, you can use the same tool to create your pages and then publish them.

KompoZer is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.

Download KompoZer

It’s not pretty, but pdftk will whip your PDF files into shape

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

screenshot of pdftk

The Portable Document Format (pdf) is the cross-platform standard for document distribution. Allowing the combining of formatted text and images, it's the perfect package to get the word out to whoever you need to communicate with. Unfortunately, the official tool to manipulate files in this proprietary format, Adobe Acrobat, isn't cheap. It would be nice to be able to tweak your pdf files without emptying your wallet.

Pdftk is a Swiss army knife for manipulating pdf files, and best of all, it's free. It's a command line utility, so it's not the prettiest thing in the world, but if you're comfortable opening a terminal window/DOS box, you can accomplish a lot with only a couple of keystrokes. You can, for example, merge multiple documents into one file, break a single pdf document into multiple documents, rotate a page, or even add a password.

Pdftk is available with installers for Windows, OS X, Linux, and other UNIX and UNIX-like systems.

Download pdftk

Glide is a suite of online applications for everyone

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

screenshot of Glide

Glide is pretty close to an entire operating system's worth of applications and tools, available online. With nothing to download or install, just about anybody with a modern web browser can take advantage of its capabilities.

Along with email, instant messaging, and a calendar app, Glide also has tools for website creation, a presentation tool (like PowerPoint), a text editor, photo editor tool, and a bunch more. There are applications that support sharing media, whether it be photos, music, videos, or documents. There is also a spreadsheet app that runs in conjunction with the Glide Sync tool.

You can also use Glide's Sync tool synchronize files living on multiple machines. This tool must be downloaded and installed and requires Windows 2000 or later, or Mac OS X 10.4+, or Linux (kernel 2.6).

With Glide Mobile, you can harness the power of Glide through your web-enabled phone or PDA. The publishers recommend it as the perfect accompaniment for the iPhone.

Download Glide

Thinking Rock makes it easy to get things done

Friday, December 28th, 2007

screenshot of Thinking Rock

Thinking Rock is a planning tool that follows the "GTD" (getting things done) methodology. Basically, the thought is that if you get all the bits and pieces down somewhere in black and white, you don't have to waste your mental bandwidth keeping track of what you have left to do. Let the tool keep track of the "stuff", and you can actually work.

By organizing your thoughts into actions, projects, information, and future possibilities, Thinking Rock makes it easier for you to review and execute the tasks you need to perform, or to delegate those tasks to other people.

Thinking Rock is small enough that you can install it on a USB thumb drive and take it with you. Since it's a Java app, it can run on both Windows and Mac systems, making it even easier to bring it along.

Thinking Rock is a Java app and will run on just about anything that supports the JRE version 1.5.0 or later, including Linux (Fedora 4 or equivalent), Mac OS X 10.4+, or Windows XP or Vista.

Download Thinking Rock

The Sound of Music–and its notation as well–with Aquallegro

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

screenshot of Aquallegro

How's your grasp of music theory? Do you know an Allegro from a G-clef? Whether you're an an experienced musician or have problems playing a radio, Aquallegro can give you a hand with all things musical.

It includes a series of quizzes about the "stuff" of music, and with real-time feedback, you will know where you stand as you progress through them. In addition, there are detailed help files to make sure you're grasping key concepts.

The content runs the gamut from note names, intervals, and lengths, as well as chords, scales, and sight singing. With built-in administrative tools, Aquallegro can be customized by teachers to use as part of their music programs.

While there's no guarantee that you'll be playing in the Philharmonic anytime soon, Aquallegro can help you can gain a greater appreciation for all things musical.

Aquallegro is a Mac application and requires OS X 10.4 or better.

Download Aquallegro

InstantShot grabs that screen in an instant

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

screenshot of InstantShot

There it is–that elusive screen you've been looking for. Now to get that screenshot. What is that command again? Command + Shift + what? I can never remember what that is. Or you can use Grab, right? Except, who needs a screen shot saved as a .tiff? What to do, what to do….

Well for starters, maybe you can use a real tool for this job, an app like InstantShot. With InstantShot, you can grab the whole screen, choose a specific window, grab a rectangle that is less than a whole application window, or even select a region that takes real estate from multiple different windows–it's all up to you.

When you grab a screenshot, you can save it as a .tiff, .jpg, or .png image, or even save it to the clipboard, making it easy to paste directly into another app, rather than having to import from a file.

InstantShot is a Mac app and requires OS X ver. 10.4.

Download InstantShot

Free Printable Greeting Cards

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

screenshot of Free Printable Greeting Cards

It's always exciting to get a greeting card. Whether the sentiment is "Happy Birthday" or "Merry Christmas", there's something about that printed card that just can't be matched by the online versions. Seeing that unexpected envelope in the mail, holding it in your hand, looking at the hand-written signature and maybe a little personal note; it's so much more human than just another email.

Unfortunately, Hallmark and the other publishers charge a pretty penny for their work. It would be nice to be able to share the sentiment without emptying your wallet.

Free Printable Greeting Cards make available for download a whole bunch of cards for almost every occasion. Birthday cards, Get Well cards, Anniversary, Friendship, Invitations—the list goes on and on.

With over 100 free designs to download and print, you're sure to find just the right one. And on the off chance that you don't find what you're looking for, they're open to suggestions—shoot them a note, and maybe they'll be able to give you a hand.

And about the price: the basic versions of all these cards are available as .pdf files, and are absolutely free. See one you like, download it, print it, sign it, and send it on its way. You're going to make somebody's day for sure.

There is also a paid version available for each card. The paid version is customizable (it's a Word .doc), so you can add your own text to the message in the card.

Download Free Printable Greeting Cards

Put an accountant on your desktop with Accounting Express 2008

Monday, December 24th, 2007

screenshot of Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2008

It's not every day that you get name-brand products for free, but today is that day. Microsoft has made a free version of their accounting package available for download as Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2008. This is the real deal–it includes the core functionality of their Professional version, but without the $200 price tag.

Accounting Express 2008 will get you up and running quickly, taking care of the books for your small or home business. As you would expect, it integrates with Microsoft Office apps, so you don't have to re-enter data to write letters, project future earnings, or any of a hundred-and-one things you would use Office for. If you're willing to pay for them, add-ons are available for integrating other services with this tool–credit card transactions, eBay and PayPal transactions–but it's not a requirement.

With general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, invoicing, and even online banking support, you'll save yourself tons of time, as well as no longer needing to tear you hair out at year end when you pull out the old cigar box full of receipts to do your taxes. There is even a resource center to help you out with common questions.

Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2008 is a Windows app and requires Windows XP or Windows Server 2003.

Download Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2008

What’s that on your screen?

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

screenshot of Jing

Whether you're doing serious tech support, or just helping Mom with her email configuration, sometimes the words get in the way of real communication. By the time you walk somebody through three levels of menus and a couple of dialog boxes, it's no wonder why they get totally confused and decide that it may be easier to just give up.

The Jing Project has a handy tool that allows you to share what you see on your machine with other folks. Rather than explaining in text what you're looking at, or explaining a complicated series of steps to complete some task, Jing allows you to capture either a stationary image, like a screen shot, or record a quickie video, showing multi-stepped processes as you see them on your screen. Once you capture the on-screen images, you save them and get a URL that you can then email or IM to your contact. When they access that address, they can look at what you just saw on your screen. Images are saved as .png files and movies are Flash movies (.swf). Aphorisms about pictures and thousands of words come to mind–it's often easier and more direct to demonstrate a process than to describe it.

Jing is in beta, so there may be some glitches along the way. In order to have somewhere to host the images and videos you record, signing up nets you a free Screencast.com trial account with no expiration date (or at least until completion of the Jing Project).

Jing runs on Windows (XP and Vista) and Mac OS X (10.4+).

Download Jing

Secure your system with Trust-No-Exe

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

screenshot of Trust-No-Exe

Modern Windows systems–those that employ an NTFS file system–allow system administrators to exercise a great deal of control over which applications can be executed and which cannot. This ability is an obvious security safeguard, since users won't be able to run programs that aren't known to be safe on the system. Unfortunately, though, there are still devices out there that don't use the NTFS system: floppies, CD-ROM drives, as well as drives that may be available across your network.

Trust-No-Exe is a security tool that allows you to specify which applications are safe to run and which are not. By specifying locations (the Windows directory, Program Files) where applications can be run or even the names of which apps can or cannot be executed, administrators can greatly tighten down the security on the systems for which they bear responsibility. Trust-No-Exe recognizes all types of executable files, not only .exe program files, but even the older .com programs, as well as .dll files, screen savers, and all other type of executables. This means that your network won't become vulnerable to accidental (or intentional) compromises of security just because somebody tried to open that malware-carrying birthday card the received via email, or to losses of productivity because of new games being fun from CD-ROM drives.

Trust-No-Exe is a free Windows app that will run on systems that support the NTFS file system–NT, 2K, XP, etc.

Download Trust-No-Exe