Archive for February, 2008

Guitar tablature and more with TuxGuitar

Friday, February 29th, 2008

screenshot of TuxGuitar

Tired of Guitar Hero? Beat all the songs and looking for something more? How about playing a real guitar?

TuxGuitar is a multitrack tablature editor and player. You can write, edit, and play tracks and songs. With its graphical interface, it's easy to add notes, rearrange them, lengthen or shorten, and so forth. You can use multiple instruments, allowing you to write and arrange for the whole band at once. With its ability to use both regular five-line musical staves or tablature to represent the notes, it doesn't matter whether you can read music or not.

You can vary the speed of song playback, so that you can play along on your own Strat or ES-335. The "speed trainer" function allows you to practice by playing back a passage that you're learning ten times, gradually increasing speed as you become more confident.

TuxGuitar is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.

Download TuxGuitar

Alice is a tool to teach programming that thinks it's an animation tool

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

screenshot of Alice

There's always a need for more computer programmers out there, but unfortunately not everybody's thrilled at the prospect of keeping track of semicolons and curly-braces. With this in mind, the folks at Carnegie Mellon University created Alice.

Alice is a development environment that allows for error-proof programming. Using a drag-and-drop interface, users write code by dragging onscreen tiles that fit together into programs. As the result of fitting these pieces together, students actually create 3D animations. While interesting in their own right, these animations allow immediate feedback to the user, showing how re-ordering a series of tiles (instructions) impacts the behavior of the resulting program.

While users think they're creating animations and games, they are also seeing how languages like Java and C++ work, since the tiles correspond to statements in those types of high level programming languages. They claim that upwards of 10% of all computer science programs in American colleges use Alice in their curriculum.

Alice is a free download, and is available for Windows (Win2k or later), Mac (OS X 10.3+), and Linux.

Download Alice

My Lockbox makes it easy to secure your data

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

screenshot of My Lockbox

One of the ongoing themes during the 2000 Presidential campaign was Al Gore and his "lock box." While he was addressing the handling of the Social Security program, we've found a lock box that handles the security of your data.

My Lockbox is a tool that lets you password protect folders on your Windows system. When you set up a protected directory, that folder is invisible to all users and applications on your system, as well as to anybody else on your network. To access your protected directory, just fire-up the control panel in the Windows Start menu, and log in. You can also define a hot key to use to make it even easier to get into your protected directory.

My Lockbox requires Windows 2000 or later, and supports 64-bit environments as well.

Download My Lockbox

A well-named file is an easy-to-use file with File List

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

screenshot of File List

Got a pile of files to rename? It's no fun in the Finder, and writing a quickie little shell script for Terminal may not be your cup of tea either. What'cha gonna' do?

File List is a neat little tool that makes it easy to rename files wholesale. Need to number your files? Piece of cake. How about changing case or extensions? Easy as pie. It supports regular expressions, so you can build some pretty complicated rules for renaming files. In fact, it even has its own conversion description language ("NCDL"), that lets you test for conditions, and a whole host of other options. You can finally do something with all those digital photos you've got with the nonsensical names—what could "DSC01537 (Small).JPG" possibly mean anyway?

File List is a Mac application. It runs under OS X ver 10.3.9 or later.

Download File List

You won't lose your mind with Keep-It

Monday, February 25th, 2008

screenshot of Keep-It

As you work your way through revision after revision of a document, have you ever realized that you just shouldn't have made that last change? How do you go back and undo it? You may just be out of luck, unless you're using Keep-It.

Keep-It is a real world archive tool that sit somewhere between a version control system and a file archive system. You don't need to check documents in and out, so you don't have to remember to do anything—hey, if you remembered, you wouldn't have gotten into this situation to start with!

Archives comprise "snapshots", a moment-in-time capture of your document. You can create them as needed, or schedule them in advance, so you're always protected. Keep-It compresses the archive it creates, so you aren't filling up all your spare disk space with changes. Browsing through your snapshots is easy, using its Windows Explorer-like interface.

Keep-It is a Windows app and requires Win95 or later.

Download Keep-It

Chyrp may be all the blog you need

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

screenshot of Chyrp

Some blogs are designed to be money-makers for their owners. Others are just there to express a point of view or comment on the general state of things. If you're looking a getting a start in blogging of the second type, you may not need all the bells and whistles—and administrative overhead—of a full-on blog platform like WordPress. For you, life may be easier if you start off with "blog-light".

Chyrp is a lightweight blogging engine driven by PHP and MySQL. Built explicitly to support both "tumblelog" and plain-old text blogging, it lets you blog the way you want to. Installation is simple: just upload Chyrp to your server and run the installer through your web browser. Administration is so simple that there's no manual needed.

While Chyrp itself is simple in design, there are still a bunch of plug-ins you can install, allowing you to extend its capabilities far beyond its default "out of the box" configuration.

Chyrp requires that your server have (at least) a MySQL ver. 4.1 database, PHP ver. 4.4.7, and Apache 1.1.3.

Download Chyrp

Image Analyzer lets you see it and then fix it

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

screenshot of Image Analyzer

With the proliferation of digital photography, there are more images out there than ever before. Unfortunately, we aren't all Annie Leibovitz, so some of our picture need a bit of cleaning-up.

Whether it's simple red eye removal, or more complicated fixes, Image Analyzer may warrant a look. Working with most popular image file formats, Image Analyzer makes cleaning up and customizing your pictures a snap.
It's easy to adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation in your images. You can resize, rotate, and crop your pictures. While it's easy to blur a picture, Image Analyzer has tools to actually help to correct an out-of-focus photo.

Many plugins are also available to extend Image Analyzer's functionality even further.

Image Analyzer is a free download, It's a Windows application, and runs on anything Win98 or newer.

Download Image Analyzer

Compose away with BlankSheetMusic

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

screenshot of BlankSheetMusic

We've all seen sites where you can grab forms: business forms, accounting stationery, and so forth. Here's a site that specializes in music manuscript paper.

BlankSheetMusic offers pages with regular five-line staves, but you get to customize them for the way you want to use them. You can choose your clef (treble, bass, alto, tenor), build systems for piano with both G- and F-clef, or customize systems to fit a whole orchestra. Add bar lines and brackets to clean things up, and you're golden.

It's easy to add tablature for 4, 5, 6, or 7-string instruments, as well as percussion. Insert time- and key signatures as well, so you've basically got everything but the notes on there.

If you'd rather, you can choose from a big assortment of canned formats as well. Choral, piano (keyboard), guitar, and more are available.

BlankSheetMusic is a free online service. It should be compatible with most modern web browsers.

Download BlankSheetMusic

Shift your torrents with a new Transmission

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

screenshot of Transmission

Transmission is a free BitTorrent client with a difference. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, it just has what you need and none of what you don't. Its clean interface lets you work the way you want to. You're in control, with the ability to speed your torrents up or down, depending on bandwidth availability.

It supports Growl notifications, so you can do what you need to do, knowing that when Transmission is done, you'll be the first to know about it.

Transmission is available as a Universal Binary for Mac OS X (10.4 or later), or you can grab a tarball and roll your own for Linux, FreeBSD, and others.

Download Transmission

A screencast that's worth a thousand words

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

screenshot of Screencast-o-Matic

Sometimes it's just easier to show somebody how to something. Trying to describe in simple terms some complicated procedure on your computer may leave your audience more confused after the explanation than they were before. That's no way to pass information along. But show them what you did? Now they can see exactly what you're talking about. This is the philosophy behind Screencast-o-Matic.

Screencast-o-Matic is an easy way to record what you see on your screen and share it with others. Not just a screen capture utility, this service allows you to create a true video recording, so you can grab movement, mouse clicks, menus, and everything else that you see on your screen. The resulting movie, called a "screencast", is saved as a QuickTime (.mov) movie, and can be shared with anybody. Export your screencast to QuickTime, or upload it for sharing. Screencasts can be up to 15 minutes long, so you can do a lot of explaining.

Screencast-o-Matic is a free online service. It uses a Java applet that requires that Java 1.5 be installed on your system.

Download Screencast-o-Matic