Archive for November, 2008

Express Scribe Transcription Playback Software

Friday, November 21st, 2008

screenshot of Express Scribe

Transcription from spoken words to written text can be challenging. If you're listening to somebody talk R-E-A-L-L-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y, it's not so hard, but if you're listing to someone speak at a normal tempo, or if they're using any kind of specialized or technical vocabulary, you may never be able to keep up with them. One solution is to record the speaking, and play it back as you type, but it's still likely to be faster than what you can keep up with. You need the digital equivalent of the old Dictaphone, a machine that let you play back recorded speech, with a foot pedal to start and stop that playback, as you try to type and keep up with the text.

Express Scribe is one such solution. Install this free app on your computer, and now you'll have a much easier time doing transcriptions. Not only can you play back the recorded voice track, but you can also vary the speed of speech, while keeping a constant pitch. That means that the speech will be slower, but not all distorted, as you listen to it. That helps you to increase the accuracy of your transcriptions. Use hot keys on your keyboard to play, rewind, and fast-forward through speech, so that you can play a tricky passage several times to make sure you're getting it just right. Purchasing an optional foot pedal can make things even easier.

Express Scribe is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows systems. It works with most audio file formats, including WAV, MP3, and AIFF.

Download Express Scribe

Tip'd: A community for financial news, ideas, and tips

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

screenshot of Tip'd

Have you heard? The economy's a mess. Between the stock market, housing prices, and more, it's a wonder any of us can sleep at night. There's a lot of financial information out there, but can you make any sense of it? It would be nice if somebody could help us to sift through all the facts, figures, and opinions to try to understand what it all means.

Tip'd bills itself as "a community for financial news, ideas, and tips." Think of as Digg for all things financial. Members of the community "tip" or "topple" stories, sites, and blog posts that address financial information. Rather than having to rely on your own wits, you can lean on the community to take advantage of everyone's collective awareness and understandings of news, events, and trends in the financial arena, and how they impact you and your money.

You can read recent tips on the Tip'd website. If you want to contribute, you'll need to register for a free account.

Download Tip'd

AltMove Windows and Mouse Manager

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

screenshot of AltMove Windows & Mouse Manager

One of the advantages to a graphical interface for your computer is that with a GUI you can get a lot of things done fast. A quick click here and another one there, and next thing you know, you're all finished. It can be a real time saver when compared to typing a bunch of commands on the keyboard. How would you like to be even more efficient when you run your system with your mouse?

AltMove Windows & Mouse Manager is a tool that helps your mouse talk to Windows. With mouse actions, you can move windows—even those without a title bar. It's easy to resize windows, change their opacity, or to hide and restore them. You can even assign Key-Mouse combinations to menu items from various applications on your system. You'll be speeding through your work in no time.

AltMove Windows & Mouse Manager is a Windows application.

Download AltMove Windows & Mouse Manager

FlexCal makes iCal updates easy

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

screenshot of FlexCal

If you're a busy guy or gal, then you're always adding things to your "to do" list, or creating reminders for upcoming events and deadlines. Typically this means you're running iCal all the time, which takes up system resources and clutters your work space. We've found a tool that can help you out here.

FlexCal is an application that helps you to enter "to do" and event information into your calendar app. Just hit a hotkey (that you've defined), and up pops a "to do"-entry dialog. Enter your task's information, priority, and due date, and go merrily on your way. If you need to enter a reminder for an event, just hit the hotkey a second time, and you get a window that prompts you for event information: start- and end time, alarm information, and location info. In both cases, just hit Return and your calendar is updated, the window goes away, and you're back in business. You haven't totally broken your concentration, and you're still focused on the task at hand.

FlexCal is an application for Macintosh systems. It runs under OS X 10.5.

Download FlexCal

Make your applications play nice

Monday, November 17th, 2008

screenshot of Process Lasso

Computers just beg you to do a bunch of stuff at once. Surf the web, download email, recalculate a spreadsheet, and more. Sometimes, though, your machine slows to a crawl. Usually when this happens, it's because there's one program—one process—that's taking up more than its fair share of your computer's processor—its brain. Download a big file, for example, and everything else may come to a screeching halt. Who knew that one job could cause everything else to have to sit there and wait. For Windows systems, there is a solution to this problem.

Process Lasso is a tool that monitors your system and what it's doing. It keeps track of which programs are using your CPU's time, and when it sees one of them hogging resources, it can automatically lower its priority, making it "play nice" with the other applications that are trying to run. You can manually configure it as well, to lower the priority on apps you run in the background. Now you can get the stuff you're working on done, while background tasks slow down and take their time.

Process Lasso is a Windows application. It runs under Win2k or later.

Download Process Lasso

Genealogy and Family History Tool

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

screenshot of It's Our Tree Home Edition

The study of genealogy and family history can be a fascinating hobby. Discovering who you are by seeing where you came from can be an interesting and rewarding undertaking. You don't have to spend too much time following this line of the family or that to know how complicated it all can get. By the time you add all the in-laws (and out-laws), you may have taxed your home-made datasheet or spreadsheet beyond its breaking point. Other folks have been looking at this stuff for a long time—why not take advantage of the work they've done to organize these kinds of facts and figures?

It's Our Tree Home Edition is the standalone complement to the ItsOurTree.com website. You can build your own family tree on your computer, edit it, and even share it with others on the ItsOurTree website. It's compatible with industry-standard GEDCOM file format, as well as CSV and XML formats, allowing you maximum flexibility. Enter names, important dates and locations, and you're building your own family tree. All-field text search is supported, so it's easy to find the facts you're looking for.

It's Our Tree Home Edition is a free download. It runs on Windows systems.

Download It's Our Tree Home Edition

Open Source Music Notation Program

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

screenshot of MuseScore

Hoping to be the next Mozart? It's one thing to be inspired and to imagine all the wonderful sounds to incorporate into your next concerto or symphony, but it's another thing entirely to get it all down in black and white. You can go through reams of expensive music paper, only to realize that you can't totally make out your own chicken scratchings against the staves on the paper. You gave up writing in longhand in favor of a computer keyboard long ago; there's no reason why you should keep writing your music the old fashioned way with pen on paper.

MuseScore is a free open source music notation program. Employing an easy-to-use virtual note sheet, it's easy to get all the notes just right, and to be able to read them when you're done. You can use a mouse, keyboard, or even MIDI files for data entry. It supports an unlimited number of musical staves on each page, with four voices on each staff. If you're writing music more complicated than that, you're probably not reading this post right now anyway.

MuseScore is available for both Windows and Linux users.

Download MuseScore

OmniFormat converts just about any file

Friday, November 14th, 2008

screenshot of OmniFormat

It never fails: you've got "x", but you need "y". Paper? I want plastic. Coke? I need Pepsi. It's not always easy to get what you want, but if what you need is as different file format, we've found the easiest thing around.

OmniFormat is a tool that lets you convert files from one type to another with no muss or fuss. Got an HTML web page that you want to turn into a PDF? No problem. Need to change a Word DOC into a plain-old TXT file? Here you go. In fact, it claims to be able to convert between some 75 different file formats in all. With free add-ins, you can even incorporate OCR functionality (turn images into text) and DRM capabilities (make your images into copy-protected PDF files).

It's easy to use OmniFormat: you just select a folder for it to "watch", and whenever you drop a file into that directory, it is automatically converted to your desired new format.

OmniFormat is a Windows application. It runs under Win95 and later, and even supports 64-bit versions where applicable.

Download OmniFormat

Phun 2D Physics Sandbox

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

screenshot of Phun

Did you sleep through high school physics class? Did you even show up? Physics isn't everybody's cup of tea, but that may be because it wasn't taught right. Unlike biology, where dissecting frogs is part of the drill, or chemistry, where evacuating the lab because of some foul smell is a regular occurrence, physics should be fun. After all, where else can you play with toy cars and watch springs for academic credit. But we digress.

Phun is a 2D physics sandbox that lets you create a virtual workspace to play with simple machines and forces applied to them. Build your own contraptions and see how they work. Make them go faster or slower. See what happens when you change the load on your machine. It's so much fun you might forget that you're doing real physics here. Oh yeah, you can let the kids work with it too. Who knows—maybe by the time they get to high school, they'll be eager to get into the lab.

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

Download Phun

Edit all your blogs with one tool

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

screenshot of Zoundry Raven

You blog, right? In fact, you may have multiple blogs. There's a good chance that they're not all in the same place, or even running on the same platform. Whether it's Blogger, WordPress, or others, everybody's got their own idea of how a blog editor should be set up, For you, it's all you can to do remember which command to use to get anything done. It would be nice if they could all agree on how things ought to work.

Maybe it's time for you to impose some order on this chaos. I'm not talking about coding your own blog platform here; rather I'm suggesting that it might be time to take a look at a tool like Zoundry Raven.

Zoundry Raven can serve as the front end for a bunch of different blogging platforms. Now instead of having to remember several different sets of commands, you can get the technology out of your face and get on with writing your content—after all, that's probably why you blog anyway. Its WYSIWYG editor means you don't have to keep track of a bunch of arcane HTML tags to make your posts look "just right". It includes tools to make adding links and multimedia files a snap too. And you can easily review all of your posts on all of your blogs.

Zoundry Raven is a free Windows application.

Download Zoundry Raven