Archive for January, 2008

Send spam into oblivion with Slopsbox

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

screenshot of Slopsbox

In the never-ending war against spam email, you have a new ally: Slopsbox.

Open a new online account that wants to send you a confirmation email? Need a throwaway email address? Just make one up, something like "spam-a-lot@slopsbox.com", and you now have a real address to which mail can be sent, but it doesn't fill your inbox with junk forever more. If you need to check that email—they always want you to respond to confirm your registration, right?—you can grab it and reply.

Along with the slopsbox.com domain, there are several other domains to choose from. Or if you're feeling particularly magnanimous, you can even offer a domain you control. Use it for disposable addresses in your own domain, but know that others may use it as well, so you may want to think twice before signing up for that.

Since there's no passwords involved, there's really no security: you don't want to use it for private or important communications, anything like that.

Slopsbox is an online service, and should be compatible with most modern web browsers.

Download Slopsbox

TipCam helps others see what you're saying

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

screenshot of TipCam

It's one thing to explain how to do something, but it can be another thing entirely to show how something is done. With this in mind, you might want to take a minute to look at TipCam,

TipCam is a tool that lets you record activity on your screen. The possibilities for interesting uses of that ability run the gamut from demonstrating how to use new software, to showing new hires how to correctly fill-in an expense report, to showing tech support what you're really seeing on your machine, to giving feedback on other presentations. While you can get a lot done through email, websites, and faxes, sometimes there's just no good substitute for pointing at something and saying "here, this thing right here, that's what I mean". With TipCam you won't be at a loss for words, because you won't have to rely on words—you can use that picture that we all know is worth at least a thousand of them.

TipCam is a Windows application and runs under both XP and Vista.

Download TipCam

MetaWrite helps the experienced coder become more productive

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

screenshot of MetaWrite

MetaWrite is a text editor probably best suited to folks who know their way around a page full of HTML and CSS markup. Rather than leaning on the ease-of-use of a WYSIWYG editor, MetaWrite focuses more on folks who are comfortable around a tag or two, helping them to speed through their coding tasks.

For the experienced coder, MetaWrite makes available "metatext", a shorthand for encoding markup quickly in your pages. Typing [p] at the beginning of a paragraph, for example, will result in automatic generation of appropriate beginning- and closing paragraph tags. There are many other quickie shorthand techniques like this for other block elements, and even inline markup. After getting the hang of these shortcuts, it looks like you may speed up your coding considerably.

Creation of a new site is made easy. With its wizard-like interface, MetaWrite helps you to quickly compile all the information you need to get that site up and running.

MetaWrite is a Mac application and runs under OS X.

Download MetaWrite

XnView is like a Rosetta Stone for image files

Monday, January 28th, 2008

screenshot of XnView

How many image formats do you figure there are out there? While we're all familiar with the standards—gif, jpg, tif, bmp, and so on—there are a whole lot more out there. You know the day's going to come when you need to open one of the more exotic ones, and you're not going to have the right tool do get in there. It's to handle this situation, and others, that you may want to take a look XnView.

XnView is a tool for opening and converting image files It supports over 400 formats for viewing, and 50 for export. You'll finally be able to open that OS/2 Warp bga file that's been sitting there forever.

Once you've got them open, you can tweak those images, too. Resize, crop, and rotate them. Play with brightness and contrast, do batch renaming, and more.

XnView is available as a free download for many platforms. The Windows version is available for 16- and 32-bit platforms, and there are also versions for Linux and other UNIX-like systems. The Mac OS X version is not currently available, but the publishers anticipate its return soon.

Download XnView

Hamachi lets you tunnel through NAT routers both in and out

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

screenshot of Hamachi

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) allow you to use a public network as if it were a private one. Imagine being able to send your sensitive data across the Internet, for example, without fear that your privacy will be compromised.

While there are a number of VPN applications available, Hamachi is different in that it allows you to create a tunnel even between hosts that are behind firewalls or NAT routers. Unlike other VPN setups, Hamachi's servers help to facilitate communication between machines that use non-routable private IP addresses. Once the connection is made, the server steps out of the way, so none of your data actually flows through their network, guaranteeing you the privacy and security you're looking for.

With the ability to create up to 64 networks with 16 nodes each (or 256 networks with 256 hosts each on the paid version), you can connect a sizable number of machines even though they're spread all over the world.

Hamachi is available for Windows systems running Win 2000 or later. A console version (no bells and whistles) for Mac OS X and Linux can be downloaded also.

Download Hamachi

WiseMaps is a smart way to think

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

screenshot of WiseMaps

Sometimes thinking is just too hard. When you look at any task or project, there can be so darn many considerations to keep track of: little pieces, big picture, dates and deadlines. It's a wonder you can ever get anything done.

Mind mapping is a technique where you dump all that "stuff" in your head onto a piece of paper. By grouping related thoughts and concepts, drawing arrows and boxes to show relationships and timing, eventually you can bring some sort of order to all those bits and pieces.

WiseMaps allows you to do all this paperwork on your computer. Not only does that make it easier to arrange and rearrange your thoughts as you clarify what's going on, but you can also share your mind map with others. WiseMaps uses SVG and VML to allow you to embed your mind map in web pages, either for your own review, or so that you can show others what you are really talking about.

WiseMaps is a free online service. It requires that users be using IE 6 (Windows), Firefox 1.5 (Win, Mac, Linux), or Safari ver. 3 (Windows, Mac).

Download WiseMaps

No more double latte with a side of compromised security with Hotspot Shield

Friday, January 25th, 2008

screenshot of Hotspot Shield

Get up, run through the shower, and then it's off to your favorite caffeinated beverage dispensary for a cup of Joe and a quick read of the morning's news. Hey, with any luck, maybe your system isn't being compromised, losing passwords, credit card numbers, and important company information. But why count on luck?

Hotspot Shield is a free Wi-Fi security app that you can load onto your laptop that will keep the uninvited out of your system. It creates a virtual private network (VPN) between your machine and the Wi-Fi router, making your communications—a least the portion between your machine and that local gateway—as secure as can be.

Hotspot Shield is available for both Windows (Win2k or later) and Mac (OS X 10.4 or later).

Download Hotspot Shield

Pandora Recovery helps recover deleted files

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

screenshot of Pandora Recovery

We've all done it: empty the Windows Recycle Bin, or delete that file at a command prompt. Just as you confirm that you really really want to get rid of it, you realize "oh no, I've just deleted the only copy of [name of critical file here]". You are now officially in a world of pain. Is it gone forever? Is it time for you to leave town under cover of darkness? Maybe it's just time to get that file back.

Pandora Recovery is a file recovery tool built explicitly for NTFS filesystems. While your ability to recover a deleted file tends to go down over time, you stand a real chance of being able to bring that file back from the Bit Bucket in the Sky. When files on Windows are deleted, they aren't really deleted, at least not right away. The filesystem simply treats the space where these files live as available for re-use. If these clusters on your hard drive haven't actually been reused, then there is a good chance that you will be able to get your data back.

Turn it loose on your system, and Pandora Recovery scans your drive, looking for deleted files. You'll get a list of what it finds out there, and you can decide what if any of those files you want to bring back. Curious what's in that file? You can preview before you un-delete, which can save you lots of time with many similarly-named files. For best results, you'll want to recover your files to a different drive (so you don't overwrite other files that you may want to recover). You can use another local drive, an network volume, or even a USB drive.

Pandora Recovery is a Windows tool, and since it works only with NTFS filesystems, it requires that you be running Win2k or later.

Download Pandora Recovery

RoughDraft will help you make your final revisions too

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

screenshot of RoughDraft

RoughDraft is a word processor designed to help writers make it through the day. While it can function as a general purpose word processor, it's aimed specifically at the special requirements of writers.

Built-in formatting help for plays and screenplays makes it easier to focus on the creative process, rather than on the tedium of formatting pages correctly. Extensive formatting options make it easy to set things up just right.

Multiple clipboards allow you to paste chunks of text repeatedly into your piece. You can quickly create cover pages that summarize word and page counts. RoughDraft allows you to hold a hundred individual files open at once, so it's easy to jump back and forth as needed. Its spellchecking functionality allows you to add your own words, and it can highlight typos in real time. An optional add-on dictionary and thesaurus add even more power to this tool.

Documents are saved in Rich Text Format (RTF), so that they're easily opened in Word and most other word processors without losing formatting and other stylistic information. The comprehensive help system will get you up and running in no time.

RoughDraft is a Windows app and will run on just about any Win32 platform, from Windows 95 on.

Download RoughDraft

UTC Clock lets you know what time it really is

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

screenshot of UTC Clock

Whether you call it Greenwich Mean Time, Zulu time, or UTC, it's all the same: it's the time by which all other time is measured. Email time stamps, server logs, everything that happens online depends on the time, and all times are calculated relative to UTC.

While you can do the math to figure out what UTC time is at any moment, based on your local time, there are easier ways to figure it out. One of these is UTC Clock, a free downloadable tool for your Macintosh.

UTC Clock is a simple tool. Once its running, it sits at the top of your screen, immediately below the menu bar clock. Assuming your system clock shows the correct current local time, UTC Clock does the heavy lifting to figure out what the current UTC time is (do I add or subtract eight hours there?). It's a very thrifty app, using very little in terms of system resources; it doesn't even appear in the dock!

UTC Clock is a Mac app, and requires OS X 10.2 or later.

Download UTC Clock