Archive for September, 2008

Free personal antivirus software

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

screenshot of Avira AntiVir Personal

It's a rough world out there, and there are all kinds of folks who would like nothing better than for your computer to die a slow, lingering death, or to help themselves to your private data, or to use your machine to wreak havoc across the Internet. Whether it's a virus, worm, Trojan, or some other diabolical app, they're out to get you. The best line of defense is to have strong antivirus protection on your system.

You can spend a fortune on antivirus tools, but you don't have to. The folks at Avira offer one solution that costs nothing: Avira AntiVir Personal. Free for personal use, this application protects your system against viruses and more, including many rootkits, designed to take your system over for use in denial of service attacks, email spamming operations, and more.

Avira AntiVir Personal is a free download for use on a single computer. It runs under Windows 2000 and later, in both 32- and 64-bit versions, and is available for Linux and other UNIX-like systems as well.

Download Avira AntiVir Personal

WavePad full featured sound editing tool

Friday, September 19th, 2008

screenshot of WavePad

Back in the day, if you were going to do serious things with sound, you needed a bunch of expensive equipment, or maybe access to a real recording studio. With computers, the bar has been lowered considerably. Now you can record a podcast, or make your own mix CD on your desktop. Get yourself a microphone or an optical drive, and you're halfway there. All you need now is the software to manipulate your sound files, and you'll be in business in no time.

Wave Pad is a full-featured professional quality sound editing application. You can use it to record voice, music, or other sounds. As an editor, you can work with either WAV files or MP3s, as well as several other formats. Copy, paste, add echo and reverb to your recordings; voice-activated recording lets you quit fumbling with controls and read your script; auto-split lets you break large recordings down into individual tracks.

WavePad is available for both Windows (any Win32 platform from Windows 95 on up) and Mac (OS X 10.2 or later, on either PowerPC or Intel boxes).

Download WavePad

Keep track of web pages you want to view with Read It Later

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

screenshot of Read It Later

Are you a creature of the Web? Over the course of the day, how many sites do you suppose you visit—dozens? hundreds? more? If you're on the move, you probably don't stop to read them one at a time; chances are you set a bookmark for each of these sites so that you can come back later and browse through them. The problem there, of course, is that now you have hundreds of bookmarks set, but you really only plan to use each one only once. If you want to maintain any semblance of sanity, now you have to dig through that pile to weed out the one time only bookmarks, while leaving your real bookmarks intact. What a mess.

Read It Later is a Firefox extension that lets you save these use-once bookmarks and deal with them in a way that makes sense. When you run across a site you want to get back to, just click the button, and it's added to your list. When you go back and read through your list, you can choose to delete entries once you've read them, or upgrade them into real bookmarks in Firefox, posting them to, or any other service.

Read It Later works with Firefox 3. They have an older version that is compatible with earlier releases of the browser.

Download Read It Later

Sakina Privacy Protector

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

screenshot of Sakina Privacy Protector

Whenever you go online, you leave your fingerprints behind. Server logs keep track of where you've visited, who you've sent email to, and more. There's not much you can do about that. Your computer also keeps track of where you've been. Web sites set cookies in your browser. Caches keep images you've downloaded and lists of pages you've visited. Even when you're not online, your machine keeps track of recent documents you've opened and edited, temporary files created on your hard drive, and more. You can easily get rid of some of this, but there is a lot of data that is trickier to find, so it's still going to be on your system.

Sakina Privacy Protector is a tool that helps you clean up after yourself. When you turn it loose on your computer, all this history is history. Sure, it'll go after cookies and temporary files, but it's also wise to all the hidden stuff as well. And when it deletes these items, it really deletes them, so they can't just be dragged back out of the Recycle Bin or undeleted from the hard drive.

A Windows application, Sakina Privacy Protector is a free download.

Download Sakina Privacy Protector

Dump tunes from your iPod to your PC with iDump

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

screenshot of iDump

It's a simple proposition: you have an iPod, you have a PC, you want the music from your iPod to go onto your PC. It's easy with iDump.

All you need to do is to mount your iPod as an external hard drive, and then run the iDump program. You can choose the individual songs you want to grab, or download all of them. A search tool lets you find the individual tracks you want. It supports playlists, so your organization scheme comes down with your music. If you've got tons of music, it features an "unattended" mode, that allows you to start the process and just walk away.

iDump is a free Windows application. It runs under Windows Me or greater. All but the most recent iPods are supported as well (it doesn't work with iPod Touch or the iPhone).

Download iDump

Free DVD Organizer

Monday, September 15th, 2008

screenshot of DVD Hunter

To say that movies have come a long way over the years is an understatement. From the grainy 8 mm movies of your summer vacation growing up, to the noisy 16 mm films you suffered through in school, up to the 35 mm offerings of the local cinema, and beyond, there has been a great metamorphosis in the way films have been produced and distributed. With home video recorders, laser disks, and DVDs, it's all gone through the roof.

If you're a big film buff, you probably have a collection of movies that rivals the catalogs of many of the big studios. How many DVDs do you have? Do you remember what they are—or who you've lent them out to?

DVD Hunter will help you keep track of what's going on with your DVD collection. Sure, it can help you inventory and organize your collection, but it goes beyond that. You can flesh-out the entries for your films using it to query online movie databases. It integrates with Address Book and iCal, so you can keep track of who has borrowed which movies from you. It has a distinctly iTunes-like interface, so you already know how to use it.

DVD Hunter is a Mac application. There are versions available for OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and 10.4 (Tiger).

Download DVD Hunter

KnowYourStuff home inventory tool

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

screenshot of KnowYourStuff

How much stuff do you have? Sure, you have a lot of things, but what exactly do you have? Nobody likes to think about it, but there are times when that precise list may become vital.

If your home were to be burglarized, or if a fire or some natural disaster should befall you, your insurance company is going to want a complete list of what was lost, including names, numbers, purchase dates, values, and more. That's a lot more than "some computers and other stuff."

Of course, the time to take a detailed inventory is before you need to use it. A software tool like KnowYourStuff may be a good way to make sure you're prepared for this unfortunate eventuality. This easy-to-use tool makes taking and recording inventory information much less onerous. The setup wizard makes it easy to start, prompting your for the names of the rooms in your house. Working room-by-room, you can go through the process of adding to your list. Once your inventory is complete, it's easy to add additional items over time when they acquired.

Once you're done, you can store your inventory electronically (hard drive, CD-ROM, remote location) or print it out and stick it in your safe deposit box. They also have an optional paid service where you can upload your list.

KnowYourStuff is a free download. It's available for both Windows (Win2k or later) and Mac (OS X 120.3 or later).

Download KnowYourStuff

Measure on-screen objects with Meazure

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

screenshot of Meazure

Back in the old days, nobody cared about what things looked like on computer screens—you had your choice of green text on a black background, or if you were really adventurous, you might have amber on a black background. Nowadays, everything's graphical: desktop applications, web pages, and more. Graphics are everything.

With text, you could describe what you saw on your screen in terms of characters and lines—maybe an area ten characters wide and three lines tall. Now, it's all pixels. Images, icons, on-screen widgets, web pages—everything has a size, and those sizes are important. Will this control fit on the screen? Will this picture fit on the page? There are a zillion things to consider.

Meazure is a cool tool that helps you wrap your head around all these graphic elements. You get on-screen rulers that allow you to measure all of the stuff you see on your display. In addition, you can grab screen captures for any piece of the screen you want. You can even measure to see whether what you've got on your screen will fit into common screen or video sizes.

How much would you expect to spend for all this functionality? You're right: it's free. Meazure is a Windows application. It runs under Windows 98 or later.

Download Meazure

Private network and remote control tool

Friday, September 12th, 2008

screenshot of Remobo

Everybody's collaborating online these days. It's not that uncommon for a programmer on one continent to work with an analyst on a different continent, and for both of them to update a tech writer located on the other side of the world. Sure, through the miracle of the Internet, it's possible to communicate and share work product between you all, but do you really want your hard work and trade secrets mixed with all the junk email and other foolishness flying around out there on the 'Net? You really want a network you can use that separates you from all that other stuff, but to do it without having to string cable all around the globe.

Remobo is one possible solution here. You can set up a network between all your machines, which allows you to share files privately, or even to run applications remotely. Now you can look over each other's shoulders, or even drive programs on other user's systems. Instead of telling them what you're talking about, you can show them.

Another way to use Remobo is to access your home or work computer when you're not at home or work. On a business trip? Log on back at the office to check your email. Took work home last night, but forgot to bring it back to the office? Log on to your home computer and grab your stuff.

Remobo is a Windows app, and runs on Windows 2000 or later. Their website says that Mac and Linux versions are coming soon.

Download Remobo

Blerts, the graphical RSS feed reader

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

screenshot of Blerts

So much news, so little time. If you're really plugged-in, you probably spend a fair amount of time trying to keep up with the latest, whether it's the latest news and politics, the latest tech updates, or just the latest on your favorite blog. You can spend a lot of time checking back to these sites multiple times a day, or you can let their updates come to you via RSS feeds.

Blerts is a cute little feed reader that sits in your System Tray and waits for interesting things to happen. Pop it up to read the latest and greatest from the sites you're monitoring. View just the headlines, or drill down to look at the full text. It's easy to add new channels to keep track of even more of what's going on out there.

Blerts is a free download. It's a Windows app and will run under Windows 2000 and later. It requires a web browser, and supports IE 6+ or Firefox 1.5+.

Download Blerts