Archive for August, 2009

Timer for Mac with voice recognition

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of Chimoo Timer

Timers are useful for lots of purposes. If you're steeping your tea, you want to know when it's done, before it turns into something nasty and bitter. If you're making a phone call, you want to know how long you've been on the line—after all, time is money. Chimoo Timer is a handy little app to help you on both counts.

While it's not the most complicated tool you'll ever use, it makes up for any shortcomings in its simplicity and ease of use. And with built-in voice recognition, you can do things like set the timer from across the room without having to push any buttons. Start it, stop it, even have it read the current time value to you, all by voice. Heck, you can even use voice recognition to turn off voice recognition. It's a Universal Binary, so it'll run on your PowerPC or Intel-powered Mac. And it's a Cocoa app, written by people who understand your Mac.

Chimoo Timer is a free download. This open source app requires OS X 10.4 or later.

Download Chimoo Timer

Brainstorming Made Simple

Monday, August 10th, 2009

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Bubbl.us

Life is full of decisions. Whether it's chocolate or vanilla, paper or plastic, or even "tastes great" or "less filling", you've got to have some criteria for making your choice. In trivial cases like this, you probably don't have to subject your decision-making progress to much scrutiny, but if you have decisions of greater importance to make, then you probably have to consider a number of factors and alternatives, and weigh their relative importance, to make the best decision that you can.

The time-honored process of making a "pro" and "con" list might be helpful, but that may not be enough either. Bubbl.us is a tool that can help you to approach your decision making process more seriously. You can create a "mind map" of all your considerations. Once you have several nodes set up on your sheet, you can drag them around the screen, define relationships between them, and otherwise fine-tune your thinking. It's easy to share your sheet with others; now you can collaborate and make even better decisions when you've got everybody's input.

Bubbl.us is a free online service. You should be able to use it with any modern Web browser with a Flash plugin installed.

Download Bubbl.us

Control wallpaper and task bars for multiple monitors

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of DisplayFusion

If you're lucky enough to have a multi-display system, congratulations. You've now got more screen real estate than you know what to do with. Whether it's bigger images or more pages of code, you've opened up a whole new world of usability on your system. But of course, no good deed goes unpunished, so you also know that your life can get geometrically more complicated through the addition of this extra monitor. A tool like DisplayFusion can help you win control back of your system.

DisplayFusion lets you define individual wallpaper designs for each monitor, or you can use a single image and have it stretch across both (or more) of your displays. In addition, you can add a toolbar to each screen, allowing you to control your system from whichever display you're working on at any moment. You can also move application windows from one display to another, allowing you to make maximum use of your screens at all times.

DisplayFusion is a Windows application. You'll need Windows XP to use it, as well as version 2 or later of the .NET Framework.

Download DisplayFusion

Delete locked files and kill rogue processes

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of LockHunter

There you are, minding your own business trying to delete a file, but your system says NO! Now maybe it's because your word processing software has the file open and you're writing to it (duh) so your computer is keeping you from shooting yourself in the foot. Okay, that's good.

But maybe it's not so clean. Maybe you've closed all of your apps and you still can't delete that file. Now you have to wonder whether whether you've got some ill-mannered piece of malware that's trying to do bad things to you, or if it's just Windows up to some of its old tricks. Either way, you still want to get rid of that file.

LockHunter may be the tool for you. Find out which process is locking your file, and then decide what you're going to do about it: delete the file, kill the process, or even delete the app that spawned that process. And just in case, you can delete into the Recycle Bin so that if you need to go back and resurrect your deleted file, you can do so.

LockHunter is a free Windows application, and will run under Windows 2000 and later. It's still technically in Beta, so you'll want to be careful about using it for any mission-critical applications.

Download LockHunter

Free Printable Medical Forms

Friday, August 7th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Free Printable Medical Forms

Health care is a topic that's on everybody's mind. Whether it's the pundits on TV or just the chatter around the water cooler, everybody's talking about it. Whether you've got health coverage, or are among the too many people without insurance, there's one thing everybody can agree on: you are your own best advocate when it comes to taking care of your health. And if you think about it, it makes sense; after all, who cares more about you than you?

One way that you can take control of this part of your life is to keep track of what's going on with you. Are you taking medications? Watching your weight? Working out? It would be helpful if you could track all this. Check out the downloads at Free Printable Medical Forms.

These guys have all kinds of forms, logs, and records to help keep you in the driver's seat, health-wise. Whether it's fertility information, tracking info on babies and children, food and nutrition, medical diaries, or more, you'll probably find something helpful here. There are even forms for use in medical offices.

Free Printable Medical Forms are available as free downloads in PDF format. You'll need a copy of Adobe's Acrobat Reader to open and print these files. Also available are paid versions of these forms, running $3.99 each. They come in Microsoft Word DOC format and can be edited.

Download Free Printable Medical Forms

Build a photo mosaic

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Foto-Mosaik-Edda

Hey everybody, it's more digital photos! Maybe you can hear the yawning from across the room. It would be nice to do something a little different to add some interest to your digital handiwork.

Here's an interesting way to jazz up some of your digital photos. Foto-Mosaik-Edda is a free application that lets you build mosaics of your images. Using your own pictures, as well as photos you've grabbed from Flickr and other locations, this tool digs through looking for images where the color, brightness, etc., can be used for rendering your picture as a mosaic. Depending on the particulars of your image, and configuration choices you make, you may employ upwards of 2000 individual images to render your full-sized mosaic.

You can choose portrait or landscape for your finished product, as well as square. Decide on your resolution and paper size, and you can generate up to a poster-sized mosaic image.

Foto-Mosaik-Edda is a free Windows application.

Download Foto-Mosaik-Edda

Find and remove duplicate files on your hard drive

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Fast Duplicate File Finder

Spring Cleaning is an idea that's been around for a long time. While you may dust a little here and vacuum a little there on a regular basis, it's a chance for a big-deal, deep cleaning that takes care of business in a serious way. When was the last time you did a Spring Cleaning on your hard drive?

Fast Duplicate File Finder is a tool that can help you tidy things up around the ol' computer. As you work you can end up with duplicate files scattered across your system. Maybe it's a project that you got halfway through that you abandoned and restarted someplace else. Maybe you pulled together a directory of copies of files that you wanted to burn onto a CD. Either way, you've got multiple instances of files—duplicates—taking up space on your system that you might be able to put to better use.

Turn this tool loose on your system and it'll search through folders, volumes, or even your entire system looking for duplicate files. Because it looks inside the files themselves, it will find identical content that has different names, so that you can really clean things up. To make sure you're deleting what you really want to get rid of, it has built-in preview capability for many types of files, so you can look before you trash. And speaking of trash, you can dictate that your duplicate files be moved to Recycle Bin or any other directory you want, just in case you need to being them back.

Fast Duplicate File Finder is a Windows application. It will run on systems from Win98 up through Vista.

Download Fast Duplicate File Finder

Create new documents directly in open folders

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of Document Palette

Organization is everything. You can have all kinds of swell stuff, but if it's just crammed in a closet and you can't find what you want, you might as well not bother to have it. The same can be true for your computer.

Often when you work on a project, it's a good idea to put related files together. When you're working on the Johnson Proposal, a folder named "Johnson Proposal" might be a great place to keep all the documents, spreadsheets, images, and more that you're using to work on the project. It's easy to drag existing files into this location, but when you have to create a new Word DOC or open a text file for the next page you're going to code, it can be a pain to open the new file, and then immediately have to browse to that folder where you're keeping everything, in order to save it along with its accompanying files. If you could open a new document and already have it in the right location, you just might save some time.

Document Palette is a tool that lets you do that. Pre-load it with the types of files you might be interested in opening—maybe Word DOC files, Excel XLS files, a TXT file or two. Now when you want to create a new file, just navigate to the target directory, activate Document Palette using [Control]+[Option]+[Command]+N, pick a document type, and you're off and running. In addition to using it for new empty documents, you can grab files with content to use as templates.

Document Palette is a Mac application. It's a Universal Binary that runs under OS X 10.3 or later.

Download Document Palette

Drive Manager puts you in your system's driver's seat

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of Drive Manager

How many drives does your system have? You've got one or two hard disks; maybe they're broken down into several different partitions. But then there's optical drives, removable drives, network volumes, and more. By the time it's all said and done, you could easily be dealing with a dozen or more different drives. How do you propose to keep track of them all? While Windows Explorer will give you a list and some rudimentary functionality here, it might be worth looking at a dedicated tool to help you stay on top of things.

Drive Manager is such a tool. You can see which volumes you're dealing with, all in one place. In addition, it helps make it easier by letting you tweak disk settings: maybe you want to rename a drive, or you've got a handful of thumb drives to manage that you want to add the manufacturer's name to. In addition, you'll get all the vital stats for each of your drives: capacity, bytes used, filesystem format, and more.

In addition, Drive manager can be used like a supercharged version of the old reliable DOS SUBST program. Now instead of having to keep track of a long and complicated path for that important directory you're working in (like C:\deep\dark\nested\six\levels\down\directory), you can just refer to it as Z: and go on your way.

Drive Manager is a free Windows application.

Download Drive Manager

Pick the winner out of The Hat

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of The Hat

If you have kids—or have ever been a kid—then you know that competition is one of the driving forces of the Universe. "I call shotgun!" "We always have to do what YOU want!" You've heard them all. If you want to maintain some sense of order, or at least keep your hearing intact, then from time to time you may need to step in to settle things. You might just decide arbitrarily who "wins", or you might choose another method, like picking names out of a hat.

The Hat is an electronic version of that tried and true decision making process. Enter a list of names, and The Hat will help you make your pick. In addition to the all important decisions about who gets to sit where and who picks the movie to go see, The Hat can be used for other types of drawings as well. Running a raffle? Enter names and let it you help pick the winner. You can also choose pairs of names for assigning teams and such.

The Hat is a Windows application.

Download The Hat