Archive for May, 2010

Dabbleboard virtual whiteboard

Friday, May 21st, 2010

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Dabbleboard

Ah, meetings. What can rival the excitement of traveling halfway across the country to sit in a too-hot room with a cup of too-bad coffee and a too-stale doughnut listening to a too-boring presentation? Hey, if you're lucky, there may even be some useful information there too.

If that's just too much excitement for you, maybe you should check out Dabbleboard. This free online service lets you and your meeting's participants work with a virtual whiteboard without leaving the comfort and convenience of your office. While there's a paid version, a free account lets you share that all-important whiteboard with an unlimited number of participants. With everybody reading off the same page—whiteboard—it will be easy to make sure everybody understands what the next step is in your quest to conquer the world—or at least corner the market on widgets.

Dabbleboard is a free online service. You need a web browser with Flash support to use it.

Download Dabbleboard

Move your users directory to a different location

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Profile Relocator

By default, on a Windows system, all the user stuff is located on the system drive. That's great, as long as everything is behaving the way it's supposed to. But that's all wrong when you have to do something dramatic like reinstalling Windows, and your data all goes away. Unix systems have been putting the main system stuff and the user data on separate volumes since forever. It would be nice to mimic that on Windows systems.

Profile Relocator is a tool that lets you do just that. Set your system up just so, then choose a different volume for your user data, and you're good to go. Now if you have to—heaven forbid—reload Windows, you don't have to worry that all your hard work is going to go away. Unfortunately this tool won't move existing user profile goodies—although they say that if they were to do so that you might not be at all pleased with the results—so if you decide to use it on an existing system, you'll probably have to rebuild stuff just one more time. But after that, you'll have smooth sailing. Hopefully.

A free download for your Windows system, Profile Relocator is designed to work with XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

Download Profile Relocator

Secure your laptop with LAlarm

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of LAlarm

What's worse than losing your data? How about losing your computer with your data on it? Youch!

Laptops are handy things. You can grab your whole workspace and bring it with you. Working on a big project? Bring it home and finish it there. Pretty swell, until your laptop goes missing. So let's keep that from happening.

LAlarm features a bunch of different alarms to help protect you, your computer, and the data stored on it. Along with an anti-theft alarm, it comes with several other alarms as well. If your hard drive starts acting like it's going to fail, LAlarm sounds an alarm to let you know your data may be in danger. If your battery's about to run out, there's another alarm to let you know that you really ought to save your files. It's even got a "panic button" alarm that lets you sound an alert in case you happen to get into trouble while using your system—presumably something more than marauding bands of geeks.

LAlarm is free for personal use. It runs under Windows XP and later. Business users need to purchase a license.

Download LAlarm

Free personal accounting tool

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of HomeBank

Nobody's got enough money; that's a given. But you can probably get more done with the money you have if you know how much you've got and where it's all coming from and going to. That's where budgeting and keeping an eye on your various accounts comes in.

Now one way to stay on top of that information is to sit at a high desk with a green eyeshade, something like what Bob Cratchit might do in a Dickens story. Or you can get a little more modern in your approach and put your computer to work for you. That's where it's handy to have a tool like HomeBank.

While you can enter transactions directly or by importing data directly from your bank, the analysis functionality of this tool is where it really shines. Slice and dice your data based on payee, purpose, time period, and more. Track your budget and see how well you are keeping on-target (hooray!) or where you may need to do a little cutting-back (boo!). It supports multiple accounts, so you really can get a complete look at what's up in your life, finance-wise.

HomeBank is a free download. Originally developed for Amiga (yes, it's been around that long), it's available for various flavors of Linux, and well as Windows and OS X (via MacPorts).

Download HomeBank

Put all your important stuff on a USB drive and go

Monday, May 17th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of MojoPac

With each passing season, laptops get smaller and smaller. If the latest and greatest isn't small enough for you, you can get a netbook instead. These are even smaller. But what about taking it to the extreme: an entire computer on a USB drive? Well, you can't really get there from here, but you can get close with MojoPac.

MojoPac is a tool that lets you load your whole system—or at least your data and the apps you need to run it—onto a removable USB drive. Now when you hit the road, you can grab your report and your own copy of Word, stick them on your thumb drive, and head off to do battle with the Forces of Evil. No more having to worry about whether they've got the right version of an application where you're headed, because you're taking what you know is the right version—yours—with you.

You can load MojoPac onto any USB 2.0 removable device. It's available as a free download, and should run just dandy on your Windows XP machine.

Download MojoPac

KiTTY is a better secure shell client

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of KiTTY

SSH—Secure SHell—is a protocol that lets you exchange data between computers in a secure fashion. Often it's used to run command line applications remotely on another system. It's similar to the tried-and-true Telnet application, but with security.

In the past if you were on a Windows system and needed to connect securely to a Unix box—maybe your webserver—you had to install PuTTY. Alas, while it took care of business, it wasn't a native Windows app, so things didn't always go as smoothy as you might hope for. And when you're working at the shell level, a little extra smooth can be a really helpful thing. That's where KiTTY comes in.

KiTTY is a fork of the PuTTY project, but it's built specifically for the Win32 environment. With fewer moving parts, there's less to get broken. In addition, they've also added bunch of extra features, including management of multiple concurrent sessions, and even automatic sending of SSH password, something you can't do even on Unix systems.

KiTTY is a free download.

Download KiTTY

High Quality Photo Resizer

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of High Quality Photo Resizer

The name pretty much says it all. If you've got a photo and need to resize it, High Quality Photo Resizer may be your ticket home. This tool is specifically designed for batch processing of image files, so if you download the latest photos from your digital camera, it should be a snap to resize them for use on the Web or as attachments to email.

It's easy to resize images, either as a percentage or their original size, or to specific dimensions. In addition, there are a bunch of effects you can add to your pictures, adding visual interest and cleaning things up. In addition to your camera's JPGs, this app can deal with a boatload of other image formats, making it a pretty handy all-around image processing tool.

High Quality Photo Resizer is a free Windows application. It should run on anything from Win2k up through Windows 7.

Download High Quality Photo Resizer

Hear how to pronounce names

Friday, May 14th, 2010

runs as Online Service
screenshot of HearNames

Names are tricky things. Since many of them aren't of Anglo Saxon derivation, they don't necessarily follow the pronunciation rules we've learned for English words. When that's the case, we often stumble over them and struggle to pronounce them correctly. Now if you work at the UN, you probably have access to several translators who could give you a hand with that. For the rest of us, HearNames might just be the answer.

When you visit this site, you can enter the name in question into a textbox, hit the Search button, and (if you're lucky) it will return a spoken version of that name. It includes both first names (e.g. John, Jane) and surnames (Smith, Johnson). You can also browse lists of names if you're just shopping around. Not every name is in there, but there are plenty, so hopefully the ones you're looking for can be found.

HearNames is a free online service. All you need is a web browser, an Internet connection, and a name you want to hear about.

Download HearNames

Protect against kids and cats on the keyboard

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Toddler Keys

We're not exactly sure what the fascination is, but there's just something about kids (and cats) and computer keyboards. Put them in the same room, walk away, and next thing you know you're looking at a line of gibberish on your screen (best case), or your last six months worth of work has gone away (worst case by far). You can't realistically turn things off each time you go to refill your coffee cup, but you sure don't want those little two- and four-legged critters getting in there and trashing your system.

Toddler Keys may be the key to your sanity. With this tool, you can lock your keyboard, optical drive, and even power switch. To make things more entertaining for Junior, you can set this app to display pictures or play sounds when keys are pressed. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that Kitty will be impressed by this. Once you're back with a fresh cup of Joe, all you need to do is type QUIT and you'll be back in business. Surveys show that few toddlers (and virtually no cats) will type this word. Or at least they would, if such surveys were actually taken.

Free for personal use, Toddler Keys is a Windows application.

Download Toddler Keys

FlyingBit Password Keeper

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of FlyingBit Password Keeper

Good passwords are necessary for good security. The more complex and complicated your passwords, the more secure your data will be. Unfortunately, the best passwords, with a healthy mix of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, are next to impossible to remember—in fact if you can remember that password, it probably isn't complex enough. So now your stuff is secure, but you can't get into either, because you can't remember the password. You may need some help.

That help may come in the form of FlyingBit Password Keeper. This tool lets you store your passwords so that you don't have to remember them—just copy-and-paste from the tool into your app or web browser. But don't worry about the security of your passwords—they're all encrypted in a database on your hard drive, so even if somebody should grab that file, they're not going to be able to do anything with it. And if you travel, you can even put your password database on a USB stick or other removable media and bring it along. Yes, you will need to have a good password for your encrypted password database, but it's certainly easier to remember one password than dozens.

FlyingBit Password Keeper is a free download for your Windows system. It should run under Windows 98 and later.

Download FlyingBit Password Keeper