Archive for May, 2009

AnyClient file transfer tool

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

runs as Online Serviceruns on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of AnyClient

It's a big world out there. If you want to share your work, whether ideas, images, or what-have-you, with everybody else, you've got to move it from your desktop onto the appropriate server. Whether it's a web page, a file archive, or some more exotic location, nobody will appreciate your brilliance until they see your stuff.

AnyClient is a platform-independent file transfer tool. Written in Java, you can use it for bare-bones FTP exchanges, encrypted SFTP transfers, or even for WebDAV sessions. You can choose to download it and install it on your local machine, or run it via a Java applet through your web browser, with no installation required. Either way, you can save your connection information in a site profile, allowing you to easily connect to your servers again and again.

AnyClient is a free application. You'll need to have an appropriate version of the Java runtime installed on your system.

Download AnyClient

Draw graphs with Graph

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Graph

How do you know if you're a real math nerd? Does your heart go pitter-pat at the very thought of a pair of Cartesian coordinates? Are functions your life? Maybe you should take Graph out for a spin.

Graph lets you draw all kinds of functions—normal functions, parameter functions, polar functions. It's got built-in trig and log functions as well. Enter your parameters, choose the appearance you want—fonts, colors, axes—and go. Use shading to fill the area under a curve. Give it a series of points and it'll draw a trend line for you. When you're all done, you can even save your handiwork as an image (PNG, BMP, JPEG) or as a PDF.

Graph is a free Windows application. You should be able to use it on systems running Win98 and later.

Download Graph

Reduce onscreen distractions with Backdrop

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of Backdrop

Are you easily distracted? Do you have to turn your email off to keep from taking a look each time a new email from your favorite Nigerian prince comes in? Does your IM app keep you busy all day? If you lose your concentration every time something shiny flashes at you from your screen, maybe it's time to suppress all that extraneous activity on your computer.

If this all sounds like you, Backdrop can help make your life a little easier and more productive. Just fire it up, and it fills your screen, successfully obscuring all the apps running on your system except for the front-most application. Now instead of getting all bogged down with all the excitement happening in the background, you can focus on the task at hand, and actually get some work done.

Another use of Backdrop is for use when taking screenshots. If it usually takes you five minutes to tidy up your desktop to give your screen captures a clean background, all you need to do is invoke Backdrop and you've got instant clean.

Backdrop is a Mac application.

Download Backdrop

Rooler helps speed your onscreen layout tasks

Monday, May 18th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Rooler

Rooler is a set of tools that can help you with your onscreen measuring and layout needs. Whether you're designing a web page or building forms and dialogs for a desktop application, it's important to get the layout "just right".

Move your mouse pointer into any region of the screen, and the Dimensions tool will let you know how far it is from the edges of that chunk of real estate, making it easier to position design elements on your page or dialog box. The Bounds tool lets you rough-out regions on your screen to see how much space is between adjacent elements. Inspect lets you zoom in to examine individual pixels on your display. With Snip you can capture regions on the screen and save them to the clipboard.

Rooler is a free application for Windows systems. It runs under WinXP and requires the .NET Framework (version 3.5 SP1).

Download Rooler

Satisfy your need for speed with TORCS

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of TORCS

If you've always wanted to drive a race car like a bat out of you-know-where, but are prone to getting car sick, you could have a problem. For you or anybody else with a need for speed but the inability to follow through—whether because of that motion sickness problem or the lack of a major corporate sponsor for your racing team—a racing simulator may be your best friend. TORCS may be just what the doctor—or the mechanic—ordered.

The Open Racing Car Simulator is an open source multi-platform racing simulation. Choose from dozens of different cars, tracks, and opponents. You don't need any special hardware, since you can drive using your keyboard or mouse, as well as a joystick or steering wheel. It turns out that there's a pretty big user community out there as well: you can grab additional cars and tracks from other websites to add to the official offerings.

TORCS is available for Linux, Mac (OS X 10.3.9 ), and Windows platforms.

Download TORCS

Use Clavier+ to create keyboard shortcuts

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Clavier+

While a program with a name like Clavier+ sounds like it ought to do all things musical, the connection to the musical instrument is not the obvious one. Clavier+ is a keyboard (get it?) shortcut tool, letting you issue commands or type text with just a keystroke or two.

With Clavier+, you can designate a hotkey to run an application, another one to open a URL in your default web browser, or even use it to type text into a document. For the more rodentially-inclined, it will even simulate a mouse action for you. Your hotkeys can be used systemwide, or you can specify a particular app to apply them to. With the ability to add pauses, you can open an app, create a new window, and then type text into it all from one hotkey. Pretty slick.

Clavier+ is a Windows application.

Download Clavier+

CrashPlan makes offsite backups easy

Friday, May 15th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of CrashPlan

The best backup in the world is no good if it gets ruined. Whether you're backing up from one volume to another on your desktop machine, or even burning backups to optical media and the dropping them into your desk drawer, you still aren't as protected as you might want to be. After all, your machine could crash catastrophically, taking your original data and backups with it; your home or office could experience fire, flood, storm, or worse, taking your backups out at the same time. To be extra sure, it makes sense to store backups offsite.

While it might be tempting to say you'll just stick a CD in your bank safe deposit box, realistically how often do you think you're going to do that? You need a tool that's going to make sure that you run your backups, and that they're stored in a safe place. CrashPlan can take care of that.

In its most basic form, CrashPlan works automatically in the background to take care of business. It watches your disk activity, and once a day it saves your changes and creates a backup. It will then automatically send that backup to a machine you've specified, whether it's another one of your computers, a friend's machine, or some other location. A paid upgrade lets you backup to CrashPlan's servers, but that's not required for basic service.

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

Download CrashPlan

Freebie Notes electronic sticky notes

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Freebie Notes

Freebie Notes is a quick and dirty electronic sticky note application. While it doesn't necessarily incorporate all the features of a more robust (and more pricey) tool, it just may take care of business for you.

You can create an unlimited number of notes, with a maximum recommended size of about 4000 characters each. That's a pretty sizeable note. You can adjust your notes' appearance: color, location on your desktop, transparency (Win2k and later) so that they don't get in your way onscreen. Set basic alarms to remind yourself of important tasks you need to take care of, or flag them with the "VIP" setting. Now your notes will jump up, flash, change color, and generally make a nuisance of themselves until you respond. If you've ever missed an important meeting or phone call because you hit Cancel instead of Snooze, you'll appreciate this.

Freebie Notes is a Windows application. It will run on systems with Win98 and later.

Download Freebie Notes

Forte musical notation software

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Forte

Whether it's in the smooth, measured hand of Mozart, or the frantic chicken scratchings of Beethoven, if you're a serious composer or arranger and want people to be able to help you to realize your artistic vision, you've got to be able to put your musical ideas down on paper. Getting those ideas in black and white can be a challenge. Whether it's page after page of manuscript paper itself to have to keep track of and organized, the writing of the notes, time signatures, and other musical notation, or most importantly the ability of your performers to actually read your writing, it's always going to be a challenge. A tool like Forte can help you to hear with your ears what you can already hear in your head.

Forte is a musical notation tool that lets you compose and write music on your computer. You can easily edit your work, including drag and drop capabilities. Transpose an entire piece, or just one instrument or voice, making it easier to replace that F horn with the E-flat one you really wanted. You can generate midi files as well, so if the Philharmonic isn't available to play your masterpiece, you can at least listen to an electronically-generated version.

Forte is a Windows application. It works best on systems running Windows 2000 or later.

Download Forte

Keep track of your appointments with Appointments

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of Appointments

Appointments is a contact manager application for your Mac. If you're in touch with people, or have meetings with them, then you know it's critical to be able to keep track of it all. When you create a new appointment, all you need to do is to enter start and end times, and then grab your participants from the Appointments database.

Appointments uses a SQLite database for a backend, so there's no server to set up or administer. Even with a fancy database like that, it still follows a document model, meaning that it's easy to undo/redo edits. And it even supports multiple users, although you're probably not going to want to use this for Enterprise-level CRM work.

Appointments is distributed as a Universal Binary, so it's good for PowerPC and Intel machines, and runs under OS X 10.4 and later.

Download Appointments