Archive for March, 2010

Transfer bookmarks and favorites

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Transmute

Hardly a day goes by—or at least hardly a week does—without a new version of some big deal web browser being published. Sure, they've all got the greatest new features and can run rings around what you're already using, but there's one thing they definitely don't have: your bookmarks.

If you've been online for any time at all, you probably have a list of bookmarks and favorites longer than your arm, and it would be a major-league pain in the neck to have to move all that stuff over manually. Good thing there's a tool out there like Transmute.

This application is designed specifically to import and export bookmarks and favorites between different browsers. It supports Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, Safari, and more, so your to- and from browsers are probably included. And it's easy to use; just pick your Source and Target browsers from the drop-down lists and let the exporting begin.

Transmute is a free download. It's a Windows application, although they do offer unsupported versions for Mac and Linux as well.

Download Transmute

Hide your email address in plain sight

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Email Creator - Signature Generator

You've just created the latest and greatest of the fifty bazillion sites on the Web. Yours is different, of course, because it contains only important information and sells only useful products. And yes, you want people to be able to contact you–if they can't send you an email, how are they going to ask you questions or order stuff from you? So you put your email address out there and sit back waiting for the orders to come rolling in. Naturally, the first thing that starts rolling in is the SPAM.

Once your email address is public, you're fair game for all the spambots and scrapers to come by and grab that address and put you on their list for every scam and ripoff out there. What started out as good has become evil.

Email Creator – Signature Generator is a service that can help you out with that. Go to their site, enter your email address, and these guys will create a graphic for you that contains that information, but is next to impossible to do anything else with. Your human visitors will see your address and be able to read it and type it into their email client, but the robots can't read it–remember, it's an image, not text–and even the super-smart ones that use OCR won't be able to read it when it's all doctored up. Remember, though, if you use this image as an anchor for a "click here to send an email" link, they're still gonna' grab your address from the underlying code, so don't be tempted there.

A free service, Email Creator – Signature Generator just requires a web browser and a hatred of junk email.

Download Email Creator – Signature Generator

Onscreen ruler, magnifier, and more

Friday, March 19th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of PMeter

When you work with images and other graphical elements, every pixel counts. If your alignment is off just a tad, it doesn't look right; if your measurements are off just a bit, ti's not going to work.

PMeter is a little tool that can help you with these problems and more. This portable app has a bunch of features that make it helpful. First, it's a ruler, so you can measure goodies on the screen. While by default it sits horizontally on your desktop, a quick double-click rotates it to a vertical orientation. Drag it around your screen to measure this and that. It also includes a magnifier and a color picker, so you can zoom in and grab colors from images. And it displays mouse pointer coordinates, so you'll always know where you (or your mouse) are.

PMeter is a free download and runs on your Widows machine.

Download PMeter

Wiki on a Stick

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Wiki on a Stick

There are bunches of personal note-taking and information-tracking tools out there, some with more and others with fewer features. While each of them has its advantages, there are always drawbacks. Maybe they're too big, or they're incompatible with your system, or some other such thing. Here's another take on that whole issue.

Wiki on a Stick is a single file. Now, granted, it's a great big hairy XHTML file, but it literally is just that one file. All its brains, as well as its data, is self contained. Open it up in your browser and start editing away. As a wiki, it's got built in support for all kinds for markup, both for formatting as well as hyperlinks. That means you can cross-reference stuff and actually jump from one piece of information to the next, and never leave that single file. Obviously that means this is portable, since there's no program involved–just fire up a web browser on whatever machine you happen to be sitting in front of, and you're good to go.

Since saving your entries involves writing back to your local drive, something that web browsers don't like to let web pages do, you're going to see a bunch of warnings and second-guessing "do you really, really want to do this" messages. Once you get over that shock, it's all really pretty straightforward.

Wiki on a Stick is a free download. It should work on just about any system that has a web browser; it explicitly supports Firefox, Opera, and IE.

Download Wiki on a Stick

List your files with FileList

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

screenshot of FileList

If you want to know which files live where, all you need to do is open Windows Explorer and take a look. If you want a list of those files–maybe to put into a report or some other document, or to do some sort of analysis–you'll need a better answer. Opening a DOS window and running a "dir" will give you the list, but not necessarily in a format that is terribly useful to you.

FileList is a tool that may come in handy here. It's a command line tool, so there's no bells and whistles, but as often is the case in situations like this, what it lacks in nuance it more than makes up for in efficiency. Just give it the directory you're interested in and turn it loose. It generates a CSV file that you can use with Excel or any other tool that uses structured data like that. It grabs all the important info about your files, including name, extension, size, path, dates, and more. Now you've got a list you can work with.

A free download, FileList is a Windows application. It runs under Windows 2000 and later.

Download FileList

Lightweight spell check tool for Mac

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of SpellMe

Not every app I use has built-in spell checking, but they all seem to have built-in misspelling. Seems like the classic problem of the nut behind the keyboard. One way to take care of this is to copy your potentially problematic text to the clipboard, fire-up Word, paste your text into it, run spell check, make the corrections, copy it back out, and paste it back into your application. Gets the job done, but it takes a non-trivial amount of time to fire that behemoth up and do the deed. Maybe if there were a quicker way to take care of business, it would be less of a pain in the [insert name of favorite body part here].

SpellMe is a tool that speeds this process up. Sure, you still have to copy your text to the clipboard, but when you start this app, the first thing it does is look at the clipboard and grab whatever's there–no pasting into the app. It does the whole spell check thing, including making suggestions for what it thinks you might have meant, and it'll learn new words when it comes stuff it doesn't recognize that you vouch for.

A teeny tiny application, SpellMe runs on your Mac under OS X.

Download SpellMe

PDF to Word Converter

Monday, March 15th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of PDF to Word Converter

Everybody uses PDFs. These Portable Document Format files can be used across platforms, so there's no system compatibility issues, and the Adobe Acrobat Reader app is free, so everybody can access the content of these documents.

There are bunches of tools out there that convert Word DOC documents into Adobe PDF files, making it easy to crank out your very own PDFs. But what about the other way around? You've got a PDF that you need to edit, or with content that you want to re-purpose? Maybe it's time to check out PDF to Word Converter.

With this tool, you can convert files into either DOC or DOCX-format Word documents. It supports all versions of the PDF standard, so there is no file too old or too new to work with. You can convert individual files or do a whole batch at once. And it adds a context menu (right click menu) item that lets you start the process without even firing up the program. It does its best to grab not only text, but also all the images and formatting from your original. And maybe best of all, you don't even have to own Word to use it, so if you're an Open Office or Google Docs user, you're good to go.

PDF to Word Converter is free for non-commercial use. They've got a Mac version, but it's not free, so you're not going to feel the love there. Thanks to Mark for giving us a heads up on this app.

Download PDF to Word Converter

Scheduled shutdown with Switch Off

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Switch Off

What goes up must come down. What turns on must turn off. There's a reassuring symmetry to the whole start-and-stop thing. Sometimes, however, one side of the equation takes more effort than the other. Take your computer, for example. If you want to turn it on, you just push that big button and away you go. But when it comes time to shut down, you've got to search through menus and click on this and that–do you really want to shut down?–to make it happen.

An app like Switch Off makes the whole shut down thing go more smoothly. It sits there in your System Tray just waiting for you to bring it into action. Okay, so now you've solved the accessibility issue. But it can also work on its own to turn things off at pre-determined times as well. You can set up a schedule based on a daily routine (system goes down every day at 8:00 pm), weekly events (nighty-night at 9:00 pm on Fridays), or even specific times (6:42 am tomorrow). In addition, it can handle other requests, like restarts, scheduled logouts, or locking your machine. It's got a web interface, so you can shut your system down remotely if you need to–no more "Honey, did you unplug the iron? What about the computer?".

Switch Off is a a free download for your Windows system. It will run under Win2k and later, and is compatible with both 32- and 64-bit systems.

Download Switch Off

Keep your private stuff private with LockNote

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of LockNote

Sensitive stuff. When you were a kid, your secret decoder ring—just send in three boxtops—was all the protection you needed to keep things private. Things have gotten a bit more complicated since then.

Locknote is a small, secure memo pad. Use it so protect any kind of information you want to keep private: passwords, account numbers, birthday lists, whatever. The executable is self-modifying, meaning that your data is actually incorporated into the program file itself. What this means is that you don't need any additional tool to get your data back—just fire up your data-and-program file, type in the password, and you're up and running. Save stuff for yourself, transfer it to a removable drive, or even send via email. You'll want to keep multiple copies for each type of information you're keeping track of. While it' s not a big-deal security suite, it does offer a quick-and-dirty way to protect data.

LockNote is a Windows application. You should be able to use it on systems running Windows 2000 and later.

Download LockNote

Check your mail without downloading it

Friday, March 12th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Vallen POP3 Mail Checker

You're out on the road, but you want to be in touch with what's going on back at home or in the office. You know the email is piling up, but you don't want to grab all those messages just yet, since you know a fair percentage of them will be from some Nigerian prince or some guy who's willing to let you in on the latest magical fruit juice drink that will make you healthy, wealthy, and wise (perhaps wise enough not to fall for their scam?). Basically you want to check the mail, but I don't want to read the mail.

Vallen POP3 Mail Checker is a tool that lets you preview email in your POP3 email accounts. It's probably going to be most useful in situations where you're stuck with a low-bandwidth connection—like visiting Mom, where you know there's no broadband—or where you want to see what's going on but don't want to take up the space required for downloading messages onto your laptop or phone. You can also use this tool to kill spam on the server, rather than waiting for it to download and go through your email client's filters.

A Windows application, Vallen POP3 Mail Checker should be happy as an electronic clam on systems running Win98 or later.

Download Vallen POP3 Mail Checker