Archive for January, 2009

Tweak your keyboard with KeyTweak

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of KeyTweak

So what the heck does the "Scroll Lock" key do anyway, and does anybody really care? If your keyboard is built around somebody else's reality, maybe it's time to make it work the way you want it to. Maybe you need to re-map some—or all—of your keys.

The standard Windows keyboard is just that: standard. It works most of the time for most people, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's the best layout for you. If you only ever use the [ALT] key on the left side of your keyboard, why not map the right-side one to something else that you will use? Whether it's exchanging the [CTRL] and [ALT] keys, or maybe adding a [MUTE] or [EJECT] key, KeyTweak can help you to make your keyboard more useful.

KeyTweak isn't a keyboard macro tool, so you won't be able to set a key to automatically open your email program, but it is a good way to make your keyboard just a little smarter.

KeyTweak is a Windows application. It runs under Windows NT/2000 or later.

Download KeyTweak

Track your time with iClockr

Friday, January 30th, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of iClockr

How many things do you do in a day? I suppose that depends on what "things" are. Maybe a more important question is "how much time did you spend on 'x' today?" Whether it's homework assignments, or billable hours for your business, we all need to know how long it takes to get things done.

One way to try to track time here is to keep a pad next to your computer. That may work if you keep things pretty low-key, but once your working life starts to get complicated, you may want more than that.

iClockr is a tool you can use to track where your time goes. Using the notions of "project", "task", and "duration", it's possible to keep track of where your time goes, and to whose account you should bill those hours. Projects contain multiple tasks, and are associated with a specific customer. Now you can keep track of the hour you spent here and the 10 minutes you spent there and make sure that your costs—and bills—accurately reflect your actual working time. Enter time with "begin" and "end" points, or keep track "flat rate" style, where a particular task is allotted two hours, for example, regardless of how long it actually takes.

iClockr is a Mac application. It runs under OS X Leopard (10.5).

Download iClockr

Foxit Reader for PDF files

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Foxit Reader

If you want to open, read, and print PDF files, you can grab Adobe's Acrobat Reader application for free from their website. It's a free download, so why would you look anywhere else?

Well for starters, Adobe Reader is huge. And slow. And complicated. If you want to read PDFs rather than take care of a big program, take a look at Foxit Reader. It's small, fast, and has an impressive feature set. It's compatible with version 1.7 of the PDF standard, so you can read the latest and greatest documents. Its built-in annotation tool lets you mark-up your files, something that you can't do for free with the "official" tool. It's also easy to convert entire PDFs into text files, which can be helpful when you need to use the content for other purposes.

Foxit Reader is a Windows application. It supports Windows 2000 and later.

Download Foxit Reader

Examine the contents of your hard drive with WinDirStat

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of WinDirStat

How much stuff do you have on the hard drive of your Windows box? With larger and larger drives, there is room for a lot of files: documents, images, databases, and more.

Windows Explorer can help you to find your files, and gives you at least an idea of how they all fit together, but sometimes it's not so easy to really see what's going on with your data. Sometimes you want something other than the default file manager.

WinDirStat is a tool you can use to keep track of "who's on first" on your hard drive. Fire it up and take a look. Along with a standard directory listing, it's also got a "treemap", a graphical way to represent files with colored rectangles that show relative sizes of files on your system. (It may actually make more sense when you look at it than it does when you hear it described.)

Along with looking at your files, this app lets you manipulate your documents as well, with Open, Show Properties, and Delete actions built in, as well as allowing you to create your own. You can generate disk usage reports as well.

WinDirStat is a Windows application. It runs on any Win32 platform, from Win95 up through Vista.

Download WinDirStat

Seashore basic image editor

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of Seashore

You need to do some basic image editing. You may be cleaning up some digital photos to send to mom, or you might be tweaking your website. You love the functionality of Photoshop, but not its hefty price tag. You know about GIMP, but for what you need to do, that's like swatting a fly with an atom bomb. You need just what you need, and you don't need to spend a bunch to get it.

Seashore may be what you're looking for. With support for layers and textures, you can do what you need to do, but without the huge overhead of a big program. It can read most commonly-used image file formats, and write back to most of them as well. And it's a Cocoa app, so it should behave like you would expect a Mac application act.

Seashore is a Mac app. You'll need OS X version 10.3 or later to use it.

Download Seashore

K-Meleon browser for Windows

Monday, January 26th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of K-Meleon

In a world of one-size-fits-all applications, K-Meleon tries to be different. Built on the Gecko rendering engine that's at the heart of Firefox, it's a web browser built specifically for Windows.

By combining the best of Mozilla and Microsoft, you can choose, for example, to use your IE Favorites or Mozilla's Bookmarks, or even Opera's Hotlist, whichever works best for you. You can customize menus and toolbars to put the features you need most right where you can get to them the quickest. Tabbed browsing goes without saying. And it supports a pile of plugins, giving you access to mouse gestures, customizable macros, and more. It's fully skinnable, so you make it look as cool as it is functional.

K-Meleon is a Windows application. It's designed to run on any Win32 platform, including Windows 95.

Download K-Meleon

Create and store strong passwords with OnePass

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of OnePass

Passwords, passwords everywhere. Without a password, you can't pick up your email; you can't log on to your bank account; you can't buy a book or download a tune. That's a lot of passwords to keep track of.

The best password is one that is long, complicated, and doesn't mean anything. Oh yeah—it's best if you don't use a particular password for more than one account either. How in the world do you plan to keep track of all those passwords?

There are a bunch of "password locker" tools out there that let you store your passwords. But they can be complicated beasts, and take more care and feeding than what you might want to give them. What you need is a simple tool that will just help you to keep track of your passwords.

OnePass may be that tool. Without a lot of bells and whistles, it just helps you to take care of business. Along with storing your passwords, it can help you create passwords as well. You can choose longer or shorter passwords, and decide whether to include "special" characters. No matter how you slice it, you're going to have passwords that will help keep your accounts safer, without the headache of having to remember them all—or writing them on a sticky note to hang on your monitor. And that's a good thing.

OnePass is a Windows application.

Download OnePass

KIDO'Z web browser for kids

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of KIDO'Z

Are your kids eager to get online? Are you scared to death of what they may find there? It's time to take a look at a kid-friendly browser. KIDO'Z may be what you have in mind.

It's got a simple user interface. In fact, you don't even have to be able to read to use it. That can help avoid frustration with your younger geeks-in-training. It doesn't support scripting and lets you access only approved sites, which helps you to better control just what your little ones are exposed to.

Even with these limitations, they'll be able to access pre-screened games, videos, and other age- and content-appropriate content, all with a single click, with new titles being added all the time.

KIDO'Z runs under Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. It requires the Adobe Air application platform.

Download KIDO'Z

Add a calendar to your Windows desktop

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of AMP Calendar

How hard is it to find a calendar in your office? We've usually got one pinned to the wall, but it's got so much stuff stuck on it that it might as well not be there anyway. What's today's date? Which day of the week is the first of next month? Which day of the month is the Fourth of July this year? Okay, maybe that one's not so hard to figure out, but the rest can be a challenge.

AMP Calendar is a free download you can add to your Windows System Tray. It features a full 12-month calendar, that you can tweak to fit the way you work—choose whether weeks start on Sunday or Monday, for example. The current day of the month always shows in the Tray, so you've got that little tidbit of information always available.

AMP Calendar is a Windows application. You can download it as a ZIP file, or grab the complete installer.

Download AMP Calendar

Free Printable Greeting Cards

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Free Printable Greeting Cards

Did you ever wake up at oh-dark-thirty and remember that you needed to get a card for your mom, dad, spouse, kid, or other important person in your life? Birthday, anniversary, Arbor Day—they're all important occasions and they all call for a card. And it's amazing how few Hallmark shops are open at that time of day.

Or suppose it's the middle of the day, and you remember this same thing. Now there's oodles of stores open, but who really wants to spend and arm and a leg for a greeting card? Either way, the perfect solution would be a card shop that's open 24 hours a day, and doesn't break the bank when you just need a card.

Free Printable Greeting Cards may be just the place you're looking for. They're always open, and their cards are always free. You can choose from dozens and dozens of greeting cards: cards for birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, and more. For a few dollars, you can even grab customizable versions, where you can add your own message. And Hallmark doesn't let you customize your card at any price.

Free Printable Greeting Cards are free to download. You'll need a copy of Adobe's Acrobat Reader to print them out.

Download Free Printable Greeting Cards