Archive for August, 2009

Nero 9 – free version

Monday, August 31st, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Nero 9 - Free version

Free is good; I think we can all agree on that. Sometimes, though, free brings concerns along with. If it's free, is it worth what we're paying for it? How about free when you're getting what you used to have to pay for? Maybe that deserves a second look.

The folks who publish Nero are making a limited-functionality version of their flagship optical media burning and copying software available for free. It's the same tool that they're more than happy to sell you, but with a more limited feature set. You can use this free version for simple data copying and burning to CD and DVD media. If you want more bells and whistles, you'll need to buy the "regular" version. The free version doesn't have a time bomb in it—it's good for as long as you want to use it.

Nero 9 – free version is a free Windows app. You'll need to be running WinXP to use it.

Download Nero 9 – Free version

Find that file with TheSearchMan

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of TheSearchMan

How many files do you have on your computer? Even if you disregard the zillions of files that Windows puts out there, when you add up all the applications and data you've got on there, it's a wonder you can ever find anything. Windows has built-in search capabilities, to be sure, but it would be nice to speed the process up a bit, letting you find what you need and get back to work, instead of just twiddling your thumbs.

TheSearchMan is a tool that helps you to speed up this process. Tell it where to look—give it a drive letter or a folder to start in, or even "all" if you want it to scour your whole system—and a file name, and let it go. It supports Windows wildcard characters, so you don't have to remember the whole file name to start looking. And it supports "search within search", so you can further narrow your results. It's small and fast and may be just what you're looking for.

TheSearchMan is a free Windows download. It comes in a .RAR file, so you'll need to be able to decompress that archive to install it.

Download TheSearchMan

Keep your To-do List with Ta-da List

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Ta-da List

Okay, finished that job. What's next? If the answer to that question is to look at that wadded-up piece of paper in your pocket, or even to just sit back and scratch your head wondering just what it was that you needed to do, then you probably need some help. One candidate for that assistance is some kind of to-do list. While you can use paper-and-pencil lists, maybe you'd like to upgrade to something a little bit more fancy than that.

Now you're not looking for an Outlook clone, with tons of features that you'll probably never use; rather, you just want to remember what you need to be working on next, but without letting anything fall through the cracks. Maybe Ta-da List is what you're after.

This free online service does to-do lists and nothing else. Nothing fancy here—no dates to set, no email reminders—just a quick and dirty checklist of all the stuff you need to take care of. You can create and manage multiple lists, with several tasks on each one. It looks like any old web browser will work with it. And being web-based, you can access from any device that has Internet connectivity. You can even share lists with others, making this a very low-cost project management tool.

Download Ta-da List

Jeopardy-like game for classroom use

Friday, August 28th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Stu's Double Jeopardy

I'll take "Potent Potables" for $200, Alex.

If you understand that cryptic remark, then you may be a candidate for Stu's Double Jeopardy. It's a free downloadable adaptation of the popular TV game show for use in educational settings. While there is no affiliation between the publishers and the Jeopardy folks, the game is quite similar. Choose from different categories, and given the answers, contestants come up with the questions. You can play as individuals, or as teams—up to six at a time.

Teachers can create their own question files, choosing categories and questions that serve to reinforce classroom learning, or general knowledge areas. You can get started by downloading selections from a list of prefab questions as well. There are "Daily Doubles" that allow players to wager points on upcoming questions. Incorporate MP3 files to add sound to your questions. If you don't have time for a full game, you can create scaled-down versions that include only ten or twenty questions instead of the normal 30.

Stu's Double Jeopardy is a Windows application.

Download Stu's Double Jeopardy

Remember what's important to you with reQall

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

runs as Online Service
screenshot of reQall

You need to remember stuff. A string around your finger used to be enough, but lately that just doesn't seem to cut it. There are bunches of low-tech and high-tech solutions, each having its own set of advantages and limitations. If you're having troubles with your current setup, maybe it's time to take a look at whatever else is available out there.

reQall is a tool to help you remember all the stuff you're responsible for. Probably the most interesting feature it's got going for it is that sheer number of ways you can interact with it. Instead of being saddled with a desktop app that may not be available on your favorite computing platform, you've got a pile of different ways to talk with it. Along with the standard web interface, you can use email, SMS text message, Google Calendar, your favorite instant messaging client, and more to set and retrieve notes. A Firefox add-on even lets you create items from web pages. Now you rally don't have any excuse to not get organized and stay on top of things.

reQall is a free service.

Download reQall

Free printable maps in PDF format

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Printable Maps

It's a big, wide, wonderful world out there. How big? Big enough to fill a big expensive atlas with maps and maps. But you don't need to spend all that cash—not if you visit Printable Maps.

This site has a huge collection of maps—something like 150—for you to download. They've got maps of continents, and countries; regions and states. There are maps that are all labeled for you, and others that are left blank for you to label yourself. Get out the vacation brochures and plan your next trip. Teachers can use them in their classrooms. Students can use them for study and reports. And best of all, they're all free. Grab a map, grab two, or maybe download them all. Now you're giving Rand McNally a run for their money.

Printable Maps are free to download and use. They're all available in PDF format, so you'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the files and print them out.

Download Printable Maps

Short term bookmarking service

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Instapaper

As you prowl the web during your day to day activities, you know you're going to run across things you want to examine more in-depth, but just don't have the time right now. You can add to your bookmarks or favorites, but you already know that once you've added something to these lists, it's never going to go away. The same is true if you use del.icio.us or another bookmarking service: once it's there, it's there for good.

Instapaper is a bookmarking service with a difference. Rather than being designed for long-term storage of pages you need to check, it is designed for more short-term storage. Once you've gone back and re-examined that page you saw earlier today, you can easily dump the link. Save your browser bookmarks for the real stuff that you're going to go back and visit again and again. And if you really need to share an Instapaper bookmark, you can do so easily.

Instapaper bookmarking service is a free service. If you've got a browser,you can probably use it.

Download Instapaper

Automatic time tracking with manicTime

Monday, August 24th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of manicTime

Where has all the time gone? You know you've been working all day, 'cause you're just beat. But if you haven't kept notes through the day, you may not remember everything that you did. Sure the 4 hours you spent on the Johnson report is easy to remember, but what about the little ten- and twenty minute jobs you did? You got the work done, but you'll never be able to tell anyone about it. Until now.

manicTime is a tool that helps you log your time. It keeps track to when your computer was active (presumably you were working, or at least playing Minesweeper) or idle. It also keeps an eye on which applications you were running, helping you to focus in on what work you were doing. And finally, you can add your own tags to really capture what you were up to. All data is stored locally, so you don't have to worry about anybody else getting into it, and since it's on your machine, you don't have to be online to record your activities.

manicTime is a free Windows app. You can use it with systems running WinXP+.

Download manicTime

Shred your deleted files to really get rid of them

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of FileShredder

When you've got a sensitive paper document to dispose of, you don't just throw it in the trash—you shred it. Why should your computer documents be any different? Deleting a file on your system doesn't really delete it, and it's not that big of a challenge to bring it back. That's true whether you just deleted that file, or possibly even if it was deleted a long time ago. To really get rid of that file, you need something stronger.

FileShredder is a free app that can help you to really get rid of that deleted file. Rather than just telling Windows that the space formerly occupied by your file can be re-used, this tool overwrites that file multiple times with binary data. Think of it like this: write a word on a sheet of paper with a pencil. Now erase it. You can probably still see it. Now draw a line through it. Still there. Okay, now draw multiple lines through it—horizontal, vertical, diagonal. Now draw a series of curlicues through it, Repeat. After a while, you're going to have a tough time identifying that original word. That's how FileShredder works. There are several different shredding algorithms to choose from, so you're probably going to be able to do a pretty thorough job of killing that file you want to get rid of.

FileShredder is a free Windows tool. It runs under Windows NT / 2000 and later.

Download FileShredder

Teachers and Classroom Printables

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Teachers Printables

Whenever you turn on the news, education is always a big topic. Whether it's stories about why Johnny can't read, or about lack of funding forcing teachers to spend their own money on supplies, there's always something. While we can't help Johnny directly, we have found a way to give a hand to the teachers.

Teachers Printables offers several dozen printable items of use for teachers and classrooms. Whether it's attendance charts, to make sure everybody shows up, lesson planning forms to help Johnny with his reading, or classroom management items like hall passes there's a wealth of free stuff just for the taking. All the various forms, logs, and charts are available as PDF docs for printing, or as Word DOC files, ready to be customized to your specific needs.

Teachers Printables are all available for free download. They've also got an option to download everything from the site all at once for $27.00, or a site license to use the content for an entire school for $69.00

Download Teachers Printables