Archive for November, 2010

Clipboard history tool

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of Clyppan

Copy and paste makes the world go 'round. Or at least it makes your visit to computer land go more smoothly. With the ability to copy text, your system's clipboard helps you shave minutes, if not hours, off of your work day. Unfortunately, by default your clipboard can only hold one thing—the last thing you copied to it—at a time. That's great if you want to paste that chunk of text you just copied, but if you're looking for the last thing you had on there prior to that, you're out of luck.

Clyppan is a clipboard history tool that lets you use not only what you just dropped on the clipboard, but also that thing you stuck on there an hour ago, or a day ago, or whenever. You just pop up a list of what's hit your clipboard, and then scroll through it to find the exact snippet you're looking for. You drive the whole process with a set of hotkeys, so it's fast. It also supports search, so when you've got a bunch of stuff in there, you won't then have to slog through all the entries one at a time, potentially killing any time savings you might have gained with this app.

You can download Clyppan for free. It's a Mac app, and requires OS X 10.5.6 (Leopard) or later.

Download Clyppan

FAT32 disk formatter

Monday, November 29th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Fat32Formatter

While the preferred file system for releases of Windows from Win 2000 and later is NTFS, in the interest of backward compatibility there is still support for FAT32 systems. While you can set up those drives in this way, it's not the easiest thing in the world to do, in addition to the fact that there are some severe limitations imposed by Windows itself. So if you've got a big drive and you need it to be set up for FAT32, you could easily be out of luck.

Fat32Formatter is a tool that can help you work around those limitations. It's got a sparse, easy-to-comprehend GUI, which puts it worlds ahead of any kind of command line tool. Select your physical drive, pick a partition to initialize or remove, and you're off to the races. There's no installer for this tool—you just unzip the tool into the directory you want it to live in—so there's not a lot of extra junk to clog your system up.

You can grab a copy of Fat32Formatter for free. It requires Win2k or later.

Download Fat32Formatter

All in one file transfer tool

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of BitKinex

Moving files from here to there is a daily occurrence for lots of folks. Uploading a web page, downloading a report, interacting with all different kinds of servers. Often that means having separate tools for plain old FTP, secure SFTP, and even the relatively recent WebDAV. But not if you have BitKinex.

With BitKinex, you've got an all-in-one solution to pushing files around. Uploading web pages via FTP is easy. It handles your more sensitive files securely via SFTP. And using WebDAV doesn't require any obscure command line commands. It's designed to take advantage of multiple connections, and smart enough to let you resume interrupted transfers, so you're going to save time in the process.

BitKinex is a Windows application. It requires Windows 2000 or later, and you'll also need to have at least IE version 5 on your machine.

Download BitKinex

Match web colors and create color schemes

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Color Match

The World Wide Web is a colorful place. Way back when, everything you saw on your computer screen was just black and white—or more likely black and green. With all the image formats supported, as well as extras like Flash and such, there's a ton of color out there. But how do they choose all those colors? And what about people, like your humble correspondent, who couldn't pick colors that go together if their life depended on it? That's where a tool like Color Match comes in to save the day.

With Color Match, it's easy to generate a palette of colors that make sense together. Pick a color, or type in the values to create one, and you'll get a bunch of swatches of color that would look just dandy with your choice. In addition to being able to see those resulting colors on-screen, you also get the hex and decimal values for those colors, allowing you to replicate them on your site or that nifty new desktop application you're building.

Color Match is a free online service. All you need to use it is a web browser.

Download Color Match

Slimmed-down editor for creative writers

Friday, November 26th, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of Creo

Generally, when you choose a tool to use for getting a job done, it's with an eye to making the job easier. Part of that is in choosing the right tool: you wouldn't choose to cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring, right? But what about computer apps. Sometimes the tool that looks like the right one really isn't the best tool for the job.

With most word processors, you can type a story or write a report, but they do bunches of other stuff as well. If you need all that added functionality, then you're in good shape, but if what you really want is just a quick and easy to get text into your machine, it may be overkill. You might find yourself being less productive, as you fiddle around with formatting, tables, embedded images, and a bunch of other goodies that do nothing to get your text into your computer.

Creo is an editor that is built specifically to avoid all those unwanted bells and whistles. Fire up the app and start typing. It's got a small footprint, so it starts quickly and doesn't hog your hard drive. It has the smallest possible number of buttons and other controls so that you can focus on getting your work done, rather than being distracted by all those shiny objects. No more spending too much time choosing just the right font or margins.

Creo is a Mac application. It runs under OS X 10.5 and later. While you can use it for free, the author suggests that if you receive any benefit from it that you may want to throw some money their way.

Download Creo

Verify file authenticity and integrity

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of HashTab

When it comes to keeping the nasties off your computer, you're well prepared. Of course you've got an antivirus app running all the time. Your firewall keeps outsiders out. You don't open email attachments you aren't expecting. But what about the stuff you download? How do you know you're getting what you think you are? Many reputable sites include an MD5 hash for the files they make available. After you download the file, you compare the hash on the file you downloaded with the one on the site. If they match, then you're golden; otherwise, you may not be getting what you're looking for.

HashTab makes it easy to generate a hash for your download, so that you can compare it to the one on the site. Naturally it supports MD5, but also can generate SHA1, SHA2, and other values as well. All you need to do to check your latest download is to right-click on the file and select File Hashes from the context menu. It doesn't get any easier than that.

HashTab is available for both Mac (OS X 10.4 and later) and Windows (XP and later).

Download HashTab

Tool for wireframes and mockups

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

runs as Online Serviceruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of MockFlow

Designing a new web page or killer desktop application carries with it a whole set of challenges. You can break out the legal pad and crayons if you want to put together a quick and dirty prototype, but then depending on your artistic abilities, it may look like something the kids planned out. Or you can fire up Photoshop and then be buried under the complexity of it all, to say nothing of having to build all the controls and widgets you want to use. That's not going to look so hot either.

MockFlow is a tool you can use to put together wireframes to use as mockups of your new website or application. It's got oodles of do-dads you can use, so if you need a combo box or a command button, you don't have to get bogged-down drawing it from scratch. There are all manner of grids and rulers, allowing you to space things just right and give your project a totally professional look. Zoom in or out to get a better look at things, and you're good to go.

MockFlow is available for free as an online service that you can run through your web browser. Or if you prefer, you can download it as a desktop app for Mac and Windows (requires Adobe Air).

Download MockFlow

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac

Back in the day, one of the more compelling reasons to buy a computer from the folks at Apple was that since there weren't as many of them out there, they were inherently safer: why would some nefarious hacker create an evil virus that targeted somewhere under five percent of all the machines sitting on desktops, when there was a world's worth of Windows boxes to go after. Over time, though, the installed base of various flavors of Macs has increased, and the day will come, if it hasn't already, when somebody's going to decide it's worth their while to put some nasty virus, Trojan, or worm out there that's going to eat your shiny new MacBook for lunch. And that's not good.

Sophos has a free antivirus solution for your Mac. It'll protect you from bad things that land on your machine, as well as Windows files that you may be handling in transit from here to there. It is updated constantly, so you're not protecting against just the last virus out there, but anticipating the next one as well, and since it monitors behavior as well as signatures, it can detect so-called zero day exploits even before they have a name, as well as dealing with all the oldies-but-goodies flying around out there.

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac runs under OS X version 10.4 and later.

Download Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac

Grab license keys and codes from the Registry

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of LicenseCrawler

It's a sad day when your computer dies. On the other hand, it may be a happy day when you finally get that new zillion-gigabyte hard drive. The one thing these two days have in common is that you're going to have to re-install a bunch of stuff on your hard drive. Finding the original distribution media for all those programs is a daunting task. Grabbing all the license codes and serial numbers you need to re-install may be impossible. You're looking at stickers on user docs, email from software publishers, and a lot more. But hey, your computer know what all those numbers were, right? How about asking it for the info you need to re-install.

LicenseCrawler is a tool that makes it easier to re-capture those license keys and codes. It looks through your System Registry to find all the registration and license info it can get its hands on. While you could use RegEdit to go in and grab this stuff manually, why waste your time when this app will do it for you.

You can use LicenseCrawler with any Win32 system from the most humble Windows 95 up to the latest Windows 7 and beyond.

Download LicenseCrawler

Just Solitaire

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

runs as Online Service
screenshot of

Playing solitaire on your computer is the butt of too many jokes about distraction and lack of productivity. Like many things, however, there is a time and a place for even this lowly activity. Maybe you really are just killing time or taking a break from more productive undertakings. Or maybe you really, really like to play solitaire. Either way, maybe you should check out JustSolitaire.

JustSolitaire has dozens of different solitaire games you can play. Whether it's old favorites like Klondike or Pyramid, or some exotic version you've never seen before—I didn't know there were that many ways to play solitaire—you can just go nuts. These online games are all built in HTML 5, so you'll need a modern web browser to use them, but you won't need Flash or some Java plugin. That also means that you can use them not only on your computer, but more than likely they'll work just fine on your iPad, your smart phone, or just about any other device that can get you on the Web.