Archive for July, 2009

Note Taking and Organization Tool

Friday, July 31st, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of KeepNote

There used to be a time, way back when, when we could keep track of everything we needed to stay on top of just in our heads. As our lives got more complicated, and our brains got less efficient, we needed to transition to non-volatile forms of memory. Thus was born the To Do list. After a while, that list isn't big enough, so maybe we tried using a calendar/organizer or even a spiral-bound notebook. That was okay as long as things were easily organized by time (for the calendar), or there still wasn't a lot to remember (the notebook). After a while, though, it became impossible to find anything (digging through dozens or hundreds of pages). So next we transitioned to a searchable tool to use on our computers. That's much better, but since many of these types of tools are text-based, it's impossible to annotate our notes with images, charts, and other non-textual content. KeepNote may be the next generation of note taking tool.

With an interface that looks not unlike Outlook, you can build a hierarchy of your ideas, notes, appointments, etc. in the sidebar. Within each of these divisions, you have a list of individual posts that shows at the top of your screen. Click on an individual item, and you get your specific notes—with illuminations—in the main pane of the application window. As you'd expect, your information is fully searchable, so you won't spend minutes (or hours or days) looking for info you know is in there, but maybe not in a location you remember.

KeepNote is a free application. It's written in Python and is available for Windows (with a regular installer) as well as installers for several flavors of Linux, and a platform independent distribution for Mac OS X and just about anybody else.

Download KeepNote

Run modern applications on not-so-modern computers

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Minimem

If your once zippy computer now likes to run slower than the proverbial molasses in January, it may not be your system's fault. As software is updated, there is generally an increase in its bells and whistles. This doesn't come without a cost: among other things, this often means that the amount of RAM required to run increases. Unless you're in a position to keep adding memory to your machine, you may have to just live with its new-found sluggishness. Unless you can figure out a way to convince your new version to curb its appetite, you might as well just go get another cup of coffee. Or you can try Minimem on for size.

This tool tries to help you run your apps with the smallest amount of memory possible. It does this by regularly checking which processes are actually doing something, and removing the other ones from RAM. When you need those formerly idling process back, they're just loaded again, and you're on your way. In the meantime, you've got your memory back to use for things that are really happening right now. This can help you with big apps, as well as smaller applications that may have some nasty memory leaks (it's not a bug, it's a feature). Along with helping you with not-so-optimized applications, it can also help breathe new life into your older hardware.

Minimem is free for personal use. It's a Windows application and should run under just about any flavor of Windows, although it's been tested mostly under XP.

Download Minimem

Send an email tomorrow—or next week

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

runs as Online Service
screenshot of DeferredSender

You&#39ve got a fancy system: the latest this and the greatest that. It can do just about anything you want. Except send an email tomorrow. Yeah, it's an important note you need to send out, and it's on your mind right this minute, but you really don't want it to go out until tomorrow, or next week, or even just an hour or two from now. Good luck with that.

DeferredSender is a free service that lets you send an email that won't get delivered until you want it to. Create your email with whatever tool you usually use—Outlook, Eudora, or any other desktop email client—or even your favorite online service, like Gmail, or Hotmail. Give your note a special address to get it to the DeferredSender folks, add a line or two of information about where you'd like your message to go and when you'd like it sent, and these guys take care of the whole remembering part. Through the wonder of modern technology, when your chosen time arrives, they send your email, and it looks like it came right from you. (If you dig through the headers, you'll see that it passed through their servers, but you've got to be really motivated to dig that deep.)

DeferredSender is a free service. You have to create a free account to use it, but it's really not any more complicated than that.

Download DeferredSender

DateLine onscreen calendar

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of DateLine

If your life is run by your calendar—and frankly in today's hectic world, whose isn't?—then the ability to get into your calendar quickly is probably pretty important to you. Sure, you can drag an icon into your Dock, click on it, and open iCal. But how about getting in there even quicker? Check out DateLine

With this tool running on your system, you get a transparent linear calendar at the bottom of your screen. Need to check on where you're going to be on the 22nd? Just double-click on "22", and you're into iCal, ready for action. Personalize your installation by tweaking the color of the background and text for your calendar. You can even decide how transparent it is, so that it doesn't get in your way.

DateLine is a free tool for Mac OS X. You need to be running Leopard (ver 10.5) to use it.

Download DateLine

Free Blog Editor

Monday, July 27th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Qumana Blog Editor

If you run more than one blog, there's a good chance that they're on different platforms. Trying to keep track of "who's on first" when you're jumping back and forth between WordPress, Blogger, Moveable Type, and others, can make you crazy. What you need is a uniform way to write your posts so you can focus on their content, instead of getting bogged down with the mechanics of making it all work. You need a Swiss Army knife for your blog posts.

Qumana Blog Editor may give you a leg up on this. Using a single interface, you'll never have to remember what the difference is between how you post an image to WordPress as opposed to Blogger. Just type into the editor, and it handles all the heavy lifting. You can even post while you're offline—save your posts to your hard drive and upload them the next time you go online.

Qumana Blog Editor is available for Windows (SP and Vista), Mac (OS X Tiger and Leopard), as well as Linux.

Download Qumana Blog Editor

Free file archiving tool

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of ArcThemAll

The virtues of archiving tools are well-known. You can save individual files, multiple files, or even folders or volumes full of files into a single storage archive, saving space in the process, and allowing you to move this single file around into storage or to transfer to another system. Creation of backups, packing away non-current source code, and many other uses are available to you. These tools also allow you to unpack these archives as well—after all, what good is a backup if you can't restore it when needed?

ArcThemAll is a tool that you can use to create and extract archives. As its name would suggest, it can handle archive files of several different formats. Along with the standard ZIP and 7z formats, it also supports UPX compression, which allows you to compress and decompress executable files. If space is at a premium, you can compress your program files, making those compressed files self-extracting. Now when you run your app, it will automatically extract itself into memory and run exactly as if it were a "normal" executable file.

ArcThemAll is a free Windows application.

Download ArcThemAll

Printable Jewish Calendar

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Jewish Calendar

Keeping track of Jewish dates, and especially holidays, can be complicated when you live in a world of Gregorian calendars. While most calendars include important days in the Jewish year—Rosh HaShanah, beginning of Passover—there's always the complication that a given holiday actually began on the day before at sunset. And what about days that aren't holidays? Maybe you ought to look at grabbing a Jewish calendar.

Printable Jewish Calendar has a bunch of calendars to choose from. You can grab Jewish calendars with Gregorian (civil) dates on them, or Gregorian calendars with Jewish dates on them. You can choose whether to display Jewish holidays or not. Or you can go nuts and create your own custom calendar. Pick the month and year—either Jewish or Gregorian—choose whether to display names of days of the week in English or Hebrew, add in holidays, and you're set.

Printable Jewish Calendars are available for free. You'll need a web browser to grab them and a copy of Acrobat Reader, or other program that can open PDF files to print them.

Download Jewish Calendar

Track warranty information with Warranty Elephant

Friday, July 24th, 2009

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Warranty Elephant

Nobody likes broken stuff. Whether it's a car, a computer, or something more mundane, it's a drag when things stop working. One way that you can use to stay on top of potential problems is to keep track of your warranties. Whether you're looking at the standard warranty that often comes with a new purchase, or the so-called "extended warranty" that you can buy as an add-on, the only warranty that's really any good is the one that you take advantage of. But that doesn't have to mean that you now become a full-time warranty administrator.

Warranty Elephant is a free service that can help you remember everything related to your warranties—after all an elephant never forgets, right?. Sign up for a free account, enter your warranty information, and you're done. Now you'll always be able to get your warranty information without having to dig through the pile of papers on top of your desk, or wondering if you actually threw the paperwork away. In addition, they'll send you reminders as your warranty comes up for renewal or expiration.

Warranty Elephant is a free online service. It should be compatible with most modern web browsers.

Download Warranty Elephant

DRoster Employee Scheduling Software

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of DRoster

If you're responsible for employee scheduling, you know what a challenge—and pain in the neck—it can be. You've got to cover all the shifts on all the days, keeping track of hours assigned, who can work when, and about a zillion other variables. Typically this is all done on something like a desk calendar (if you're lucky) or the back of an envelope (if you're not). It would be nice to clean this process up a bit, don't you think?

DRoster is a free employee scheduling tool. Along with being able to keep track of all the players, it lets you build the rules you need to make your business run smoothly. Need two supervisors on at all times? Susie can't work on Tuesday? Multiple locations? It handles them all. With a rich set of reports, you'll be able to keep track of what's really happening. And your employees will happier and more motivated, when they know what's going on.

DRoster is a free Windows application, compatible with systems running Win2k and later. With the free version, you're limited to 300 shifts at a time, but you can delete older ones to replace them with more current information. Or of course, you can upgrade to their paid version, which doesn't have this limitation.

Download DRoster

TreeSheets Free Form Data Organization

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of TreeSheets

Everybody's brain works a little differently. In the same way that "one size fits all" clothing doesn't fit anybody very well, one size solutions to data management aren't probably going to work the best for you either. A tool that lets you work in a way that makes sense to you will always be preferable.

TreeSheets is an interesting app that combines the best of spreadsheets, mind mapping apps, outliners, and more. By bringing in aspects of all of these tools, it can help you to get more done. You can organize your data hierarchically, so it's easy to keep related information together. Use it to build To Do lists, keep track of appointments, jot down random bits of information you need to be able to find—the possibilities are really endless. And the price is right, of course: it's free.

TreeSheets is available for Windows XP and Vista, as well as Linux (it's beta-level software), and OS X (alpha here, so you should expect some rough edges and maybe even be prepared for some data loss).

Download TreeSheets