Archive for June, 2009

Shrink your PDFs with Free PDF Compressor

Friday, June 12th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Free PDF Compressor

There are lots of tools out there that can help you make PDF files out of your documents. Once they're PDF-ed, it's easy to share your files with others, even across platforms. Unfortunately, it's not always the case that these new files are set up in the most compact form possible.

Free PDF Compressor can give you a hand in compressing your PDF files. You can chose from Flate or RunLength compression algorithms to get your files as compact as possible. Smaller files can be downloaded faster, and don't take up as much storage space. And just for grins, this tool will also decompress PDFs as well, allowing you to expand them back to their normal size. This may come in handy if you need to perform additional file manipulations.

You can download the Free PDF Compressor application for free, of course, for your Windows system.

Download Free PDF Compressor

Get in the backup habit with GFI Backup Home Edition

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of GFI Backup Home Edition

How important is your data? Whether it's the design for your new web site, last year's taxes, or the photos from your vacation, life wouldn't be nearly as much fun if they all went away. Backing up your data is—or should be—at the top of your "to do" list.

If you're looking to start a backup regimen or maybe to improve on your current procedures, GFI Backup Home Edition may deserve a look. With its wizard interface, it's easy to get set up. You can choose where you want your archives to be stored, whether it's on another local hard drive, or across your network. Or you can back up to optical media (e.g. CD-ROM), removable media like USB thumb drives, or even to a remote location via FTP. They use ZIP files for your backups, so you're not tied into some proprietary file format. Your backups can even be made self-extracting, and can be split into smaller pieces to span volumes.

GFI Backup Home Edition is a Windows application. You'll need to be running XP or Vista to take advantage of this free tool.

Download GFI Backup Home Edition

Start applications quickly from the keyboard with Find and Run Robot

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Find and Run Robot

There are two types of people in the world: those who think there are two types of people in the world, and those who don't. When all is said and done, there are a bunch of different ways that the world can be divided into two groups: paper or plastic? chocolate or vanilla? Red Sox or Yankees? Or one of the geekier indices: mouse or keyboard?

While use of the mouse has become ubiquitous with the almost universal use of GUI front ends for computer software, there are still some folks who can do things faster from the keyboard than from clicking buttons and links on the screen. For those folks, it's good to have a tool like Find and Run Robot.

Find and Run Robot (FARR) is an application launcher that lets you type your choices rather than click them. To invoke an app, just start typing its name, and you'll get a list of matches—it's like doing a search for programs on your system, with the added bonus that you can then start them up immediately. In addition, it supports all kinds of plugins and customizations, so you can tweak it to your heart's content.

Find and Run Robot is a free Windows application. You can use it on systems running any Win32 operating system, from Windows 9x on up through Vista.

Download Find and Run Robot

Compress image files with PNGCrushrrr

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of PNGCrushrrr

Do you have a graphics-heavy website? By the time you include an interesting masthead, some nice photos, a handful of buttons and other widgets, you can have a lot of bandwidth tied up with images. Multiply that by several pages—or several websites—and you can be looking at some serious storage space here. In addition, each of these little pictures has to be downloaded by each of your visitors. Add to that the possibility of a slower connection for several of your visitors, and all of a sudden you're not providing the best possible user experience.

PNGCrushrrr to the rescue. This tool will take your PNG images and squish them into more compact, bandwidth-friendly versions. We were able to take a fairly compact graphic and shrink it by over 80% without breaking a sweat, although of course your mileage may vary. And it leaves your original intact, so if you don't like the results, you haven't lost anything.

PNGCrushrrr is a Mac application. It requires OS X version 10.3 or higher.

Download PNGCrushrrr

Count down or count up with TimeLeft

Monday, June 8th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of TimeLeft

We all love countdown timers. Only 327 shopping days 'til Christmas! Only 187 days to graduation! The list goes on. If you want to do a countdown to Aunt Sophie's birthday, though, you're probably not going to find it ready-made out there.

TimeLeft lets you create your own countdown timer, or any of several different time-related functions. Along with counting down to a particular time or date, you can count up with a stopwatch, keep track of working days or hours until a deadline, or even replace the clock in the System Tray. You can display the time in any time zone, and even schedule pop-up reminders for stuff you've gotta' do. You can resize all these reminders and clocks to just the right size for your system.

TimeLeft is a free Windows application. You're limited to one of each type of clock or reminder, or you can get an unlimited number if you upgrade to their paid version.

Download TimeLeft

Run applications when you want with RunAsDate

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of RunAsDate

Everybody knows that their computer has a system clock. While this may be useful in reminding you when it's time to go eat lunch, it's got other less-mundane responsibilities as well. The timestamp you see on each file on your system, for example, comes from that same internal clock. Different applications rely on system clock functionality as well. If you run accounting software, it's important to know when the end of the month is and all that. System clock again. Sometimes, though, you may want things to happen at a different time.

You can always reset the clock on your computer, but that may complicate your life in unforeseen ways. If you've got things that happen at a particular time, like big-deal virus scans of your hard drive, you may not want to trigger that functionality. RunAsDate is a little utility that can give you a hand here.

Rather than having to reset your system clock, you use RunAsDate to change the time for just one specific application at a time. Need to double check some end-of-the-month process in Quicken, but don't want to mess-up the timestamps on all your email? This is your answer. (It would have been handy to have back when we were all excited about Y2K testing.)

RunAsDate is a free Windows app. It can run under Win2k and later.

Download RunAsDate

ERUNT: The Emergency Recovery Utility NT

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of ERUNT

In the World of Windows, the Registry is everything. This magical repository of data is where Windows keeps all the important info it needs to find things and function correctly. It's nice that it's all in this one location, but then that means you need to be extra careful to make sure that it stays intact. The ability to backup and restore this all-important database is crucial if you take your Windows machine seriously.

ERUNT—The Emergency Recovery Utility NT—can help you keep your system up and running. It backs up the entire system Registry to the location of your choice. Now when the unthinkable happens and a piece of the Registry gets trashed, you're not left twisting in the wind. All you need to do is to restore and you're up and running again.

Along with the expected backup and restore functionality, there are several other Registry-related tools offered here. Like other files, for example, the Registry can become fragmented over time, and they've got a tool to defrag your registry, putting a bit more spring in your computer's step.

ERUNT works with any version of Windows that's built around the NT kernel, including WindowsNT, 2000, XP, and Vista, as well as the various server flavors.

Download ERUNT

Email files with Filemailer

Friday, June 5th, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of Filemailer

Email is probably the biggest use of the Internet. Just think about the number of messages you send—or the amount of SPAM you receive—in a given day, and you'll realize what a big deal it is. And it's used for more than just communicating with Nigerian princes. We've all sent ourselves an email to remind us of a "to do" item that we need to take care of. And then there's file transfer. It's easy to email Mom a photo from your last vacation, or to send a copy of the Johnson Project report to a co-worker.

While it's easy to use email for file transfer purposes, maybe it isn't the most efficient way to handle this task. After all, you've got to create the email, make a little introductory small talk, tell your recipient that you're sending them something, attach the file, etc., etc. When you send it, your email client often will save a local copy of the message, plus a copy of that attachment. Now not only is it taking extra time, but it's eating up storage space as well.

Filemailer is a dedicated use-email-to-transfer-files tool. All you have to do is enter the info for your recipient and then just drag the file you want to send over their name and click the Send button. No muss, no fuss—your file is just sent, with no copy generated in your Sent box or any of that foolishness. It's a pretty simple, no-nonesense way to deal with this issue.

Filemailer is a Mac application. You'll need to be running OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or later to use it.

Download Filemailer

Flexible Renamer makes sense of filenames

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Flexible Renamer

Files have names. Even files that have no data—zero-byte files—still have names. Sometimes those names make sense: firefox.exe. Sometimes they don't: HP326475.jpg. Renaming files isn't that complicated a task, either via Windows Explorer or in a terminal window. Renaming a bunch of files gets much more complicated. Using a batch renaming tool can be a real help here.

Flexible Renamer, as its name suggests, can give you a hand with this tedious task. Sure, it can do straight-up file renaming, but its capabilities don't stop there. You can use it to move files to different directories on your system. It supports Perl-like regular expressions, which is handy when you've got a bunch of renaming to do. In addition, you can change characters from upper- to lower-case and vice versa, add or remove numbers, and even tweak timestamps and file attributes.

Flexible Renamer is a free Windows app. It runs under Windows 2000 or later.

Download Flexible Renamer

Grab onscreen text with Textractor

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Textractor

No matter how many pretty pictures our programs put up on the screen, what we humans are really interested in is the words. While images do a lot to help convey meaning, generally textual content is more specific, and less ambiguous. Reading all that text is important to getting things done. But it becomes a real challenge if the words go flashing by like the credits at the end of a TV show. How are you ever going to see what has flashed across the screen?

Textractor can help you to grab this text. Just tell it which application to monitor, and it'll keep track of all the text that the app writes to the screen, and log it. Now you can go back and peruse it at your leisure, including copy-and-paste into other apps if you like.

Textractor is a free Windows application. It's compatible with systems running WinNT, 2000, and XP.

Download Textractor