Archive for June, 2009

nPOP portable email client

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of nPOP

When you're out tooling around in the world, you need to check your email from time to time. Back at home or in the office, it doesn't much matter how big your messages are—you just download them and go about your business. When you're going portable, you may not want to download the photos from your nephew's dance recital or your niece's ballgame. You need an email client that lets you decide what you want to download, and when.

nPOP is just such a tool. It's got a small installation footprint, so you save space on your hard drive already. But the serious advantage comes when it's time to check your mail. Instead of automatically downloading all your new messages from the server, it just grabs message headers, like an old USENET reader, and lets you choose which messages to actually download. You'll know what's up there, without taking up the space and bandwidth necessary to actually download it all onto your portable machine. And if you like this model, you can certainly install this tool onto your desktop box as well.

nPOP is a free download. There are versions available for your Win32 desktop system (Windows 95 and later) as well as for your Windows CE-equipped device.

Download nPOP

Keep track of network configurations with NetSetMan

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of NetSetMan

If you've got a portable computer, then you know that you probably spend too much time tweaking configurations. Your network at home uses fixed IP addresses; the network at school uses DHCP; when you plug into your buddy's system, you've got yet another set-up to deal with. What a pain in the neck.

NetSetMan is a tool that helps take some of that pain out of frequent system reconfigurations. Rather than having to fiddle with each setting one at a time—IP address, default gateway, DNS servers, and all that—you can save whole configurations. Now it's just as easy as choosing a profile when you move from here to there. In addition, it helps you to keep track of your computer's name, printer addresses, workgroups, and more.

NetSetMan is a free Windows application. You can use it for any non-commercial purpose (home, school, non-profit). If you want to use it at work, you need to upgrade to the "Pro" version.

Download NetSetMan

aTunes Java-powered audio player

Friday, June 19th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of aTunes

Way back when, music used to come on things called "records." Those gave way to the audio cassette, which in turn was replaced by the compact disc. Lately, one of the biggest ways that music is distributed is via digital files—the MP3 and all of its cousins. Since these guys work with your computer, your smart phone, and a bunch of other platforms, they're quite handy to have. Of course, in order to listen to them, you do need the appropriate application. The phonograph played records; the tape deck played tapes, but your computer handles myriad other tasks, as well as taking care of your need for a soundtrack for your life. Luckily, it's not that hard to find that app.

aTunes is a digital audio player, similar in design and intent to iTunes, WinAmp, and all the others. One big difference here is that aTunes is written in Java. That means it'll run on any machine that handles Java—just try running iTunes on your Linux box and you'll see why this is important. You can listen to all the file formats you'd expect, and maybe even some you didn't. Use it to organize your music collection, and even rip tunes from your CDs so you can bring them along.

aTunes is a free download. It should run on any machine with a current Java runtime installed.

Download aTunes

Keep track of your USB devices with USBDeview

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of USBDeview

How many USB devices do you have attached to your system? With thumb drives, optical drives, potable hard drives, printers, input devices, and more available through USB, you've probably got quite a few. Want to know how many, and what they're all doing?

USBDeview is a tool that keeps an eye on all things USB on your system. Not only does it report on items currently connected—device name, type, connection status—but it even maintains a database of items previously connected as well. Need to uninstall a device? This tool can give you a hand. Want to disconnect an item currently connected? Ditto. You can even keep track of devices attached to a remote system, as long as you're logged-in as an Admin user.

USBDeview is a Windows application. It runs under Win2k and later.

Download USBDeview

Organize your thoughts with ActionOutline Lite

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of ActionOutline Lite

We're always looking for a way to keep track of all the little bits and pieces of information that come into our lives each day. Piles of legal pads on the desk, handfuls of PostIt's on the monitor, an email in-box bursting at the seams—you know the drill. It would be nice to be able to stick all this stuff in one place, where you could store it, and then hopefully retrieve it as you need it.

ActionOutline Lite is a tool that you can use to do just that. Built around a tree outline form, you can now stick all your random musings, important phone numbers, and everything else in one place. There's no limit to the number of outline items you can create, although your ability to create sub-items is limited in this free tool. It's easy to drag-and-drop nodes as you organize and re-organize your thoughts. You can even flag important items for followup.

ActionOutline Lite is a Windows application. It will run under Windows 2000 and later, for both 32- and 64-bit versions.

Download ActionOutline Lite

Drag and drop DMG creation with iDMG

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of iDMG

One of the handy things about your Mac's OS X operating system is the ease with which you can create DMG disk image files. Stick a file, a folder, or an entire volume into one of these guys, and you're guaranteed that all your files' Mac-ness will travel with them. That's not always the case when you create a ZIP or TAR archive file. iDMG takes this built-in capability and makes it even better.

With iDMG, it's easy to drag-and-drop your files or folders into the application's window, or onto its icon to build your disk image. Want to do something fancy, like add a custom icon? No problem. You can name your image, set permissions, and even compress the image. It'll tell you if you're trying to create a new image file that's going to overwrite an existing one, and for big images, it can use Growl to let you know when the process is complete.

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

Download iDMG

Bonus: Free Father’s Day Printables

Monday, June 15th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Father's Day Printables

While it may not be the biggest holiday on the calendar, who can deny that Dear Old Dad deserves his own day? Whether he sat up with you all night when you were sick, checked for monsters under the bed, taught you how to throw a ball, or helped you struggle through algebra, he's a heck of a guy. Help make his big day more special with some free printables.

Wish the old man the very best with a printable Father's Day greeting card or two. Add a special Father's Day gift tag to the goodies you've got in store for him. One of those gifts could be a special picture you've colored just for him—your own original work of art—that's sure to be posted prominently on the refrigerator. And you can always award him a World's Best Dad certificate.

All of us here at wish your dad—and all the dads—the best Father's Day yet.

Automatically take screenshots of your desktop

Monday, June 15th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of TimeSnapper

Did you ever have one of those days—or lifetimes—where you know you worked yourself half to death, but you can't for the life of you remember exactly what you spent your time doing? Sure, if you're writing the Great American Novel, it may be easy to remember how you spent your day (umm, writing?), but if you spend you time doing this and that and something else, it may be easy to let it all slip through the cracks. TimeSnapper may be what you've been looking for.

This tool will automatically take screen shots of your desktop on a schedule you dictate. What better way to know that you've been doing than to look at your computer's screen? It's smart enough to figure out when your system is idle, so you're not going to get a bunch of screenshots overnight when nothing interesting is happening. You can define how long you want to keep your images around, or limit the amount of storage space your screenshots take up, so your hard drive won't be filled with pictures of your desktop.,

TimeSnapper is a free download for your Windows system.

Download TimeSnapper

Run your own country with NationStates

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

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

We all suffer from delusions of grandeur at one time or another. Whether it's that crazy thing your boss did at work or the boo-boo your partner made at home, we all know how to do it better. And those guys in the State House and Washington? Don't get me started. So if you think you can do better, why not give it a shot? No, we don't mean that you should run for political office, or execute a coup d'état. How about playing a game instead?

NationStates will let you create the country of your choosing. Whether it's a workers' paradise or a totalitarian police state, it's all up to you. Pick your country's name and flag, define its style of government—ranging from Sensible to Psychotic—you even get to define the unit of currency and national animal. You'll determine the quality of life for your citizens, and you will interact with other nations—for good or for bad—just like real countries in the real world.

NationStates is provided as a free online service. You should be able to play it on most systems that have a recent web browser that allows JavaScript and accepts cookies.

Download NationStates

Download royalty-free sounds from Sound Jay

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Sound Jay

Multimedia. The very term requires that more than one medium be involved. Pretty pictures? Not multimedia. Silent movie? Not multimedia. If you're going to do multimedia, often that means that you're going to include sound with your visual content. But unless you've got your own recording studio or a big library of sounds, you may be out of luck.

Sound Jay offers a bunch of royalty-free sounds that you are free to use on your website or in your project. You can pick from mechanical sounds like cars and tools, electronic sounds like phones and appliances, human sounds like footsteps, and even some music tracks. Most are available as WAV files or as MP3 downloads.

You're free to use the sounds however you like, provided you don't just sell them or claim them as your own. And it might be nice to credit the site for any that you do use.

Sound Jay is a free online service. You should be able to get there and download their sound files using any modern web browser.

Download Sound Jay