Archive for July, 2010

Change Windows file timestamps and attributes

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of BulkFileChanger

Is anything ever really the way you want it to be? Sure, maybe you know you've got the perfect peanut butter and banana sandwich recipe (Elvis has left the building), but more often than not, you're always tweaking this and fiddling with that in the quest for that elusive perfection. If you're a computer geek, that goes double (at least). Add this new app, reorganize those files, the list is never ending. Your friends may think it's time for an intervention, but we're going to suggest something else you can use in your tweaking.

BulkFileChanger is a tool that lets you mess around with the dates and times on your files, as well as their attributes. You can adjust the creation, modification, or access time stamps for a single file. or you can grab a bunch of them at one time. In addition, you've got access to Windows' archive, hidden, read-only, and system attributes. If you were on a Unix-y box, it would be like you've combined "touch" and "chmod" and put a pretty face on them. Now you can fiddle to your heart's content.

A free Windows download, BulkFileChanger runs under any flavor of Windows from Win2000 up through Windows 7.

Download BulkFileChanger

Clear clutter from the Dock with Dock Dodger

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of Dock Dodger

One of our favorite parts of Mac's OS X is the Dock, that cool little toolbar that contains all those shortcuts to the apps you use most. If you know you're going to have to fire up Word a dozen times in the day, there's no point in having to go hunting for it each time; just drag it to the Dock and then run the app from there. The other purpose of the Dock is to show you which apps you are currently running. For each of those programs, the little application icon shows up in the Dock, reminding you of what's happening out there. After a while you can end up with an awful lot of stuff in that Dock. It might be nice to be able to wrangle some of that mess in.

Dock Dodger is a tool that can help bring order to the chaos. If you've got an app whose icon you don't want to appear in the Dock, just drag and drop it onto Dock Dodger. Next time you fire this application up, its icon won't be added to the Dock, saving space for the stuff you want to have there. If you decide you want to see that icon again, just drag your app to the dock Dodger window and drop it, and once again your application icon will show in the dock when you start it up.

A free download, Dock Dodger is a Mac application. You need to be running OS X 10.4 or later; it's distributed as a Universal Binary, so it's equally at home on PowerPC and Intel-powered Macs.

Download Dock Dodger

Free FTP tool for Windows

Monday, July 19th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Free FTP

When you've moving files locally, all you need is Windows Explorer. Even if you're pushing them across the network, it's the easiest game in town. Once you start to deal with remote locations, though, you need a different tool. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and its various secured siblings are the way to go here. Since that functionality isn't built into Windows (other than via the command line), you need to go grab an after-market tool to help you take care of those chores.

As far as FTP tools go, you certainly couldn't find a more aptly-named tool than Free FTP. We all know about the "free" part, and adding "ftp" to that means you know you're going to be taken care of. Server profiles let you set up your server information and then not have to mess with it again. You can set local bookmarks to make it easy to get back to often-visited locations on your computer or network, remote bookmarks to get to server locations that you frequent, and "combo" bookmarks that save both local- and remote locations so that you can easily get to the "to" and "from" locations you use the most. File transfer is as easy as drag and drop, so if you know how to operate a mouse, you're most of the way home.

Free FTP is a Windows application. It's compatible with systems running Windows XP and later.

Download Free FTP

Make annotations on web page bookmarks with iCyte

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

runs as Online Service
screenshot of iCyte

As you tool around the Web, you're going to run across pages that you want to revisit, or that contain information you want to keep track of. You can bookmark those pages or add them to your favorites from the convenience of your browser. If you want to share them, or access them from different locations, using a bookmarking service like Delicious may be the way to go. But what if you want to keep track of that page and remember just what it was on there that was so interesting?

iCyte is a tool that lets you do just that. After you sign up for a free account, you can start saving the pages you want to keep track of. Now you can highlight important text, make notes and annotations, add tags, and otherwise mark up your page. Keep it all to yourself, or share it with others.

A free service, iCyte should work with recent browsers (they support IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari) for saving pages; once those pages are saved, you should be able to pull them up with just about any web browser.

Download iCyte

Format citations and build a bibliography with EasyBib

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

runs as Online Service
screenshot of EasyBib

It's one thing to thoroughly research and write your paper, thesis, dissertation, or even letter to the City Council; it's another thing to get all the citations right. After all, unless you're only compiling your own data, you are no doubt depending on the work of others. And we all know that we need to give credit where credit is due, meaning you need to cite those sources. But how do you correctly and accurately give your sources? And what format should you use?

EasyBib is a site that can give you a hand with all that. Whether you need to cite a book, newspaper, website, or any of dozens of other sources (song? patent? podcast?), these guys can give you the correct format. And speaking of format, you can get your citations in MLA, APA, or Chicago Manual of Style formats. And even better, it organizes your sources into a list, suitable for inclusion in- or adding to your bibliography. Now your readers, whether that pesky Econ. professor or just the fans of your blog, will know for sure what you're talking about. Or at least where you got your information.

A free service, EasyBib just requires a web browser and a citation for formatting.

Download EasyBib

Make big files into little files with JR Split File

Friday, July 16th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of JR Split File

We're all familiar with the notion of jamming a square peg into a round hole—or is it a round peg into a square hole? Either way, you know it's not going to turn out well. Trying to make things do what they aren't built for usually doesn't get you a good outcome.

Computer files are good things. They can be documents, web pages, spreadsheets, and more. Some files are small; others are large. If part of what you need to do during the course of your day is to move files around, you can be in for some unpleasant surprises. Suppose you've got a big report that you need to email to your boss. Or maybe you've got the numbers for next year's budget and you need to save them to a floppy disk (kids, ask your parents). Either way, taking a large file and trying to move it around in these, or any number of other ways, can give you less-than-satisfactory results. Smaller files will work better than larger ones in these situations, so it would be nice to have a tool that would help you get to smaller files.

JR Split File is a tool that can take large files and chop them up into smaller files. Once you've got the smaller files, you can move them around with ease. Save them to diskette, attach them to email messages, go nuts. When it's time to glue them back together, just run the batch file that was created at the same time, and your pieces are automatically glued back together. No muss, no fuss.

JR Split File is a Windows application.

Download JR Split File

Write tomorrow's Tweet today

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

runs as Online Service
screenshot of SocialOomph

When you blog regularly, one of the tricks you learn quickly is that you can write posts ahead of time and just tweak the dates on your posts so that they go live at some time in the future. No, you don't really have to sit down at 6:00 am every day to have a daily post, just post-date them, as it were, and go from there. But blogs—they're so last year.

Twitter seems to be the new go-to location for getting your story out there. Whether it's just killing time (eating ice cream—yum!), making a political rant, or even doing a little guerilla marketing as part of your latest website promotion, Tweeting is a whole new way to go. Unfortunately Twitter doesn't have any mechanism that allows you to write now and publish later. SocialOomph is a tool that lets you do just that.

Just set up a free account with these guys, tie it back to your Twitter account, and you're good to go. Now you can write your stuff in advance, and when the magic moment arrives, SocialOomph will make sure that your thoughts, ideas, and observations become full-on Tweets. You can hit the East Coast before you roll out of bed, or hit the Left Coast long after you've retired for the evening. Hey, you can even tell everybody about your vacation before you take it. Or not.

SocialOomph is a free service. Just sign up for an account, hook it into your Twitter account, and let the good times roll.

Download SocialOomph

Free PDF tool with free tech support

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of FreePDF Creator

Everybody loves PDF files. Or at least they tolerate them. The ubiquitous Portable Document Format has become the de facto standard for sharing documents incorporating text and images with others on your network or online. Because those documents are platform-independent, you can read them on your Mac, a Windows machine, or even your Linux box.

There are a bunch of tools that you can use to turn your documents into PDFs. Some are pricey, and others are free. What a lot of them don't include is support for you while you're busy PDF-ing things.

FreePDF Creator is a tool that you can use to take your documents and make them into PDF files. It's designed to work well with Microsoft Office applications, but it doesn't end there; indeed it supports hundreds of different formats. You've got at least a few document security options available, and can do a touch of editing on your new docs. The tool itself is free, as is customer and technical support. They've got an email address, as well as a phone number to contact, which presumably will put you in touch with real human beings to help you work through your questions or other issues. Note that this is not a toll-free number, but with the software priced so low, footing the bill for a couple of TS calls shouldn't sting too bad.

A Windows application, FreePDF Creator should run well on systems running Win98 or newer.

Download FreePDF Creator

Screenshot tool that automatically uploads your new images

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

runs as Online Serviceruns on Windows
screenshot of Gyazo

It's hard to get through the day without needing to take a screenshot of something. Whether you're checking out a page layout or grabbing an image, the ability to take a snapshot of what you're seeing on-screen can make all the difference. Most screenshot tools are pretty much alike: grab a screen or individual window, dump it to a file, and away you go. Some of the fancier ones let you define a region you want to grab. Well here's one that lets you automatically put your screenshots online with no muss and no fuss.

Gyazo is a free screen capture tool that lets you take your snapshot and then saves it for you online. Once it's done, it drops the URL for your new image onto your clipboard, so you can paste it into an email, browser, Tweet, or wherever your little heart desires. Or if you've already got an image on your desktop that you want to share, just do the drag-and-drop thing onto the Gyazo application icon and your picture will be automagically uploaded for you.

Gyazo comes in two pieces. There's a desktop application that you download and install onto your computer—it's available for Mac, Windows, and Linux systems—as well as the online service that hosts your images. One word of warning here: there is currently no way to modify or delete your images once they're online, so you may want to leave the photos of the last office party off the list for now.

Download Gyazo

Keep an eye on changes with Watch 4 Folder

Monday, July 12th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Watch 4 Folder

One of the great things about computers is how they multiply your efforts. It's a lot faster to write a book with a word processor than it is with a typewriter. With the mindless stuff it's even better. Compare looking at items rolling in to your favorite newsreader to having to go out and prowl around on the Web to find the original items, articles, or posts. There's really no comparison. So how else can you leverage the technology to help you get more done (or to work more efficiently)? Check out Watch 4 Folder.

Just fire this tool up, and point it at a folder. Tell it what it's looking for—a new file added, an old file removed, changes in a file, or what-have-you. Once it spots that change it'll do something for you—fire up an app, write to a log, pop up an alert. Now instead of having to keep checking a file drop for newly checked-in work, you can let Watch 4 Folder keep an eye on things and let you know when something's happened. You can get your real work done, while not missing that background stuff that can also be important to you.

Watch 4 Folder is a free download for your Windows machine.

Download Watch 4 Folder