Archive for August, 2008

Print PDF labels for free

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

screenshot of autofillPDF-labels

As much as we'd like to see more and more of our correspondence reduced to electronic form, there are some situations where nothing replaces a piece of paper. Whether it's a well-worded letter convincing a prospect to buy your goods or services, or a reminder note asking them to pay that invoice you've sent them three times, sometimes that simple piece of paper can make more impact than all the email in the world.

Having settled on that printed correspondence, you've carefully chosen the font and spacing to make just the right statement. Now to mail it off.

Nothing screams "unprofessional" like hand written addresses on the envelopes of your business correspondence. Sure, you can run envelopes through many printers, but often it's a tedious one-at-a-time process that takes up way too much time and trouble. The solution? Address labels.

autofillPDF-labels is a free service that allows you to create mailing labels and print them on industry-standard label stock. We've reviewed their service before, but they've made it even better. They don't require any software on your machine except for a current copy of Adobe Reader—no Microsoft Word or OpenOffice software is needed. Visit their website and browse through their impressive array of label formats. You can choose formats to print a whole page of the same label (so you can send your favorite client a dozen different bills), or you can put a different address on each label (to send a newsy letter to your Christmas mailing list). You can choose to include images on your labels as well (your company logo may be just the thing to convince them of how serious an operation you are).

They've got templates for nearly three dozen different labels, ranging from rectangular mailing labels to round labels to labels for CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes, as well as file folder labels and labels for name badges, and even business cards. They're all cross referenced to Avery part numbers, so you can pick up the label stock at your local office supply store.

autofillPDF-labels is compatible with Linux, Macintosh, and Windows systems, as long as you've got a recent version of Adobe Reader.

Download autofillPDF-labels

Kuku Klok online alarm clock

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

screenshot of Kuku Klok

Dozing at the keyboard again? Maybe it's time to check out this free online alarm clock.

Kuku Klok is a simple concept: it's an alarm clock you can run in your browser. Just go the website, set the time for your alarm to go off, and go back to sleep—I mean get back to work!

The application grabs the current time from your system's clock, and it's easy to set the alarm time with a couple of button clicks. You can choose from several different alarm sounds—a rooster crowing, a wicked guitar riff, an (irritating) electronic beep, or a wind-up alarm clock.

Because the alarm itself is a little Flash movie (.swf file) that's downloaded to your hard drive, once you've set the alarm you don't even have to be connected for your alarm to fire off on schedule.

Kuku Klok is a free service. It should be compatible with most modern web browsers with a current version of the Flash plugin.

Download Kuku Klok

Bricksmith virtual Lego building set

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

screenshot of Bricksmith

Are you addicted to building with Lego blocks? Did you ever run out of the block you really needed to complete your project? Have we got the tool for you.

Bricksmith is your entry into the world of virtual Lego modeling. Chock full of every type of Lego block imaginable, you can go totally nuts with your creations. Its drag-and-drop interface makes for easy assembly, and support for steps and sub-models means that the sky's the limit in terms of your project's complexity.

With an unlimited number of each type of block, you won't have to settle for anything less than your full artistic vision. And with the ability to change the color of any block, you have additional capabilities that a plain old Lego set can only dream about.

And maybe the best part: you'll never again step on a stray block in the middle of the night! (How do they make those things so sharp?)

Bricksmith is available for Mac systems running OS X 10.4 or later. It's a Universal Binary, so it'll run on your PowerPC or x86 Mac.

Download Bricksmith

Free binary clock

Monday, August 18th, 2008

screenshot of Binary Clock

How big a geek are you? While some folks strive for the latest and greatest, others are driven in the quest for the more obscure. (We once new a guy who balanced his checkbook in hex.) If you fall into this latter group, or you just like flashing LEDs, then you might want to take Binary Clock out for a spin.

Binary Clock is a fun little app that tells you what time it is via (simulated) little green flashing lights. Not only that, but it's all in binary. It takes the current time, 11:45:15, for example, and breaks out the binary equivalent of the hours, minutes, and seconds, giving you a result like :1011:101101:1111. With all the flashing lights and 1s and 0s, it's a veritable geek-fest.

While it's fun to amaze your friends, it also gives you a chance to bone-up on your binary numbers. After a bit of practice, you may find that it's as easy as 01-10-11!

Binary Clock is a free download for your Windows system.

Download Binary Clock

Buxfer online financial management tool

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

screenshot of Buxfer

Financial management. The easiest variety, I suppose, is to have no money—not much to manage then. Nobody wants to be there.

For real money management, applications like Buxfer can help give you a hand. You can synchronize all your accounts, so you can stay on top of your bank and credit card transactions and balances. If you're looking to build a budget, your past spending habits give you a starting point. If you're already living with a budget, you can check to see how closely you're tracking to your desired numbers.

Buxfer is also a handy way to keep track of shared expenses. Got roommates? Now it's easy to see who owes what. Treasurer for the local model railroading club? Keep track of dues and more.

You can even use it to make payments. Buxfer uses Amazon Payments to transfer money online, so it's easy to settle up.

Just because you're out and about doesn't mean that you're far from your Buxfer account: you can also report expenses and check balances via SMS text message from your phone, by email, and more.

Buxfer is a free service, and should be compatible with most modern browsers. Its text message interface should work with all major cellular carriers, but remember that standard text messaging rates apply.

Download Buxfer

Find rhyming words

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

screenshot of Write Rhymes

Are you an aspiring poet? While some folks' poetic endeavors seem to always start with "There once was a man from Nantucket….", there is a whole world beyond that. One of the drawbacks has always been the search for the perfect rhyming word. Here's a tool that can help you to overcome that hurdle in your efforts to surpass Mr. Shakespeare.

Write Rhymes is a free online tool that helps you to come up with rhyming words. Start typing your text into the the browser window, and when you come up with a word you need to rhyme, just [Option]+Click on the word, and up pops a list of rhyming words for you to choose from. With "June", for example, you'll get the expected "moon" and "swoon", but also the less often seen "contrabassoon". It's up to you to decide which of the rhymes is appropriate for your use.

And of course, when you run out of real rhymes to look up, you can always fall back on the old favorite: orange. Nope, they can't find anything to rhyme with it either.

Write Rhymes should be compatible with most modern web browsers.

Download Write Rhymes

Take control of Services with Service Scrubber

Friday, August 15th, 2008

screenshot of Service Scrubber

"Services" on a Mac are a little-used, often misunderstood feature that could potentially make your computing life easier—that is, if they were better understood, and if there were some way to impose some sanity on them.

Fire up any app under OS X on your favorite Macintosh, and take a look at the Application menu. On the menu bar, click on the name of the current app, or even Finder if nothing else is running, and you'll see the item Services. Expand that item, and you'll see a long list of Services that are available to you. Some of these are probably associated with applications you run every day—Finder, web browsers, productivity tools—and others are probably from things you don't even recognize.

The wonder of Services is that they allow you to do things with applications you aren't currently running. Looking through a Word doc, you run across a URL. Want to open your browser to that page? Highlight the address in the document, go up to the Services list, and you'll probably find an item that'll let you open that web page.

There's no direct way to clean up that list of services. There may be some services listed from apps you don't recognize, and others that you know you'll never use. To get rid of those, you need a tool like Service Scrubber.

Service Scrubber allows you to remove unwanted services from this list; in addition, you can arrange the ones you want to keep, and can even add or customize hotkeys to use to trigger them. Now you can harness the power of Services without having to get out your machete to cut through all the underbrush.

Service Scrubber is a Universal Binary, so it will run on your PPC- or Intel-based Mac. It requires OS X 10.4 or later.

Download Service Scrubber

Webalizer web server access log analysis tool

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

screenshot of Webalizer

Maybe you're a web designer, and you've created the World's Best Site. Or maybe you're a business owner and you've just taken the plunge and staked out an online presence. You might be a blogger, and you've just started up the killer blog. Okay, so who cares?

Unless you've just built a site for a school project, one of the most important things you're looking for now is traffic. It doesn't make any difference how great it is, if nobody's looking at it, then it doesn't really mean anything. Your server access logs will tell you a lot about who showed up, what they did while they were there, and all kinds of other information. Unfortunately, you really can't read through raw server logs and make any sense of what's going on with them. You need a tool to help you digest and analyze all that raw data.

Webalizer is one such tool. It understands most commonly-used log formats, and it can work with archived files, so you don't have to keep a huge pile of files on your server. Configure it to generate the reports that help you to measure what you need to know about traffic coming to your site.

Webalizer is a Linux app, so if you're running an Apache web server, you probably already have everything you need to use it.

Download Webalizer

Windows Macro Recorder

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

screenshot of Windows Macro Recorder

Repetition: something that computers do well, and people don't. Give your system a task, tell it to repeat a hundred—or a thousand—times, and you can just walk away. If you had to do that same thing that many times, you'd surely go nuts.

It's easy to work within applications to get them to repeat actions like updating records in a database or mail-merging a letter to your Christmas list. What about other actions that aren't so easily defined? In those situations, keyboard macros are often the way to go.

Windows Macro Recorder by Freelabs is one such tool. To create your macros, it records keystrokes and mouse events from any application. Once you've recorded these actions, it's easy to play them back. Use them to insert little passages of text into your documents ("Dear Mom….") or use the repeat function to have them carry out complicated procedures. You can run it from their GUI, or you can use its command line interface. Either way, you'll be automating your workflow in no time.

Windows Macro Recorder is (obviously) a Windows application.

Download Windows Macro Recorder

Find open files with What's Keeping Me?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

screenshot of What's Keeping Me?

You know the drill. You're trying to empty the Trash and your system won't let you. You want to eject a remote volume, but it's a no-go. Clearly there's still something happening here—a file's open, an application is running—but it's not always clear exactly what the problem is. Can't you just make it go away?

With What's Keeping Me?, you can do just that. Easy to use, you just type in the name of the problem file, press the button, and let this tool find out what's really getting in the way. Once it's figured out what's going on, you have the option of quitting the offending app, relaunching it, or just killing it outright. With that out of the way, you can then complete your intended task.

What's Keeping Me is a Mac application. It's a Universal Binary, so it'll run on both PowerPC and Intel Macs. It requires OS X 10.4 or better. It's also put out there as "donation ware", so if you like it and use it, you may want to send them a couple bucks to help out.

Download What's Keeping Me?