Archive for December, 2010

Get help unsubscribing to junk email

Friday, December 31st, 2010

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Unsubscribe.com/

Is your email inbox bursting at the seams? While there's no lack of spam that gets sent to us through no fault of our own, some of that clutter comes from decisions that we made. Like joining that underwater basket weaving listserv. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but who knew that your interest in submarine arts and crafts would wane? Multiply that by several other perhaps misguided subscriptions, and you've got a pile of preventable spam just waiting for you to turn the spigot off. Now you could read through all those messages and look for the unsubscribe information, or you could hand that task off to the experts.

Unsubscribe.com is a service that helps you unsubscribe to email. They've got a browser extension that works with Gmail and Yahoo accounts, and a plugin for Outlook. Or if you're using some other setup, you can always forward the email you want to unsubscribe from to them via email, and they'll take care of the rest. With a free account you're limited to five unsubscribes every thirty days, but that may be just the right amount to keep your mailbox from blowing up.

All you need to use Unsubscribe.com is email you want to get rid of.

Download Unsubscribe.com

Put a menu in the System Tray

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of SE-TrayMenu

The System Tray has been one of the more clever features of Windows for the past several releases. It puts all kinds of status information right where you can see them easily, at the right end of the Task Bar. If you'd like to get even more use out of that piece of on-screen real estate, you might check out SE-TrayMenu.

This application adds a pop-up menu to the tray, that you can populate with the important stuff you need to be able to put your hands on quickly. Whether it's programs you use regularly, documents you are currently working on, or even important web bookmarks, you can add just what you need to this user-configurable list. Add your own hotkeys, and you're well on your way to working more efficiently.

SE-TrayMenu is a Windows app and runs under Windows 2000 and later. It also requires version 2 of the .NET Framework.

Download SE-TrayMenu

System information

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Sys Information

So what exactly do you have in that pretty new computer sitting on your desk? With all the configurations available out there, who knows what processor, which hard drive, or how much memory you've got in there? Sure, you got some kind of a spec sheet when you bought that new machine, but in the excitement of getting it up and running, all that paperwork may have been lost along the way. Or maybe you bought a gently used box on eBay or someplace else, where goodness knows what is inside of it. You can break out the toolbox, crack the cover (caution: may void warranty), and take a peek, or you can rely on a tool like Sys Information.

Sys Information is an application that does the looking for you, and reports back on what it finds. You'll learn all about your CPU, RAM, and disk drives, as well as which flavor of Widows is installed, currently running processes, and what software you've got set up as well. And you don't have to worry about frying anything because you forgot to discharge any static before you touched the motherboard.

You can grab a copy of Sys Information for free. It's a Windows app and should run on systems with XP or later installed.

Download Sys Information

Menu bar on every display

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of MenuPop

On the Mac, you can pretty much count on the fact that no matter where you go, you've got a menu bar at the top of your display. Along with all the menu controls for your currently active application, you've got the all-important Apple Menu sitting there, with its System Preferences link, as well as Software Update and other old favorites. With Windows machines, the menubar is tied to the current application, and may be configured differently or behave in unexpected ways.

Back on the Mac, now that you're a big kid, you may be running a couple of different monitors. All of a sudden, the menu bar isn't behaving the same. It may appear on the primary display, but it doesn't show up on that second screen. Now when you need to invoke a menu command, you've got to navigate clear back to that other display to hit what you're after. That's where MenuPop can come in handy.

With this application, you get a menubar—or at least all the commands from your menu bar—on each display attached to your system. Specifically, you hit a hotkey and you get a pop-up menu at your mouse's current position. All the power of the menu bar, but with none of the hassle of having to navigate clear back to the other side of the world.

MenuPop is a free download. It's a Mac application, and runs under OS X version 10.6 (Snow Leopard).

Download MenuPop

Don't forget your USB drive

Monday, December 27th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Flash Drive Reminder

Flash drives are handy, convenient little guys. Back in the day, you had to stick a floppy disk (kids, ask your parents) in your pocket, or a CD in your backpack if you need to carry data from here to there. Now all you need to do is stick a USB thumb drive into an available port, and you've got instant access to amounts of data that little diskette could only dream about. Of course, when you're all done and it's time to log out, you need to remember to take that little piece of magic with you.

Flash Drive Reminder is a tool that can help you remember to do just that. It comes in two versions. One of them pops up a little window when it starts-up, to remind you that it's on the case. You can have it open an Explorer window to remind you which files are on your removable drive, if you like. And of course, it reminds you when you log out or shut down that you need to take your toys home with you. The other version just has the "don't forget me" reminder at the end.

Pick the version you like and download it for free on your Windows system.

Download Flash Drive Reminder

How many words on that web site?

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

runs as Online Service
screenshot of web.word.count

Some tools have a general use; think hammer, saw, that sort of thing. Then there are those tools that have a very specific purpose, like a fire extinguisher. We found another tool that has that specialized a purpose, a web app called web.word.count.

web.word.count counts the words on a web site. What earthly good would that be, you might ask (we did). Turns out that folks who do translating often are paid by the word. So if you're a translator, and you've been tasked with translating a website, I suppose you could download each page, sit down with a pencil and paper and start counting words, or you could use a tool like this. It's pretty easy; all you do is type in the URL of the site's homepage and press the button. The tool goes out and crawls the site—it'll examine up to 100 pages on a site, and up to five sites in a day in the free version—and comes back with a word count for each page that it finds. It's smart enough to filter out all the stuff that isn't words on the site—scripting code, pages and documents linked to that are actually on somebody else's site—and give you a word count for each page, including both the visible text as well as the ALT text that travels with your images. It calculates a total word count for each page, and a grand total for the site as a whole. You can grab the results from the screen, or download the information in a text file.

web.word.count is a free service. All you need to use it is a web browser and a site you want to know more about.

Download web.word.count

JujuEdit text and file editor

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of JujuEdit

Paper or plastic? Chocolate or vanilla? Regular or super-sized? Life is full of choices—sometimes you want more, other times you need less. This can apply to the tools you use during the course of your day as well: you don't need a great big sledge hammer to put a tiny little nail in the wall to hang a picture.

JujuEdit is an app that lets you choose how much is enough. You can use it as a straight-up replacement for Notepad if you like. It can open big files quickly without complaining, which can be handy. Unlike Notepad, however, it doesn't stop there. It's got a big undo buffer, so you can mess things up terribly in your file and still get back to where you started from. You can search for text using regular expressions, meaning that you can actually find what you're looking for. It's even got syntax highlighting, which can help you to better understand what's going on in source code files for your HTML (and other language) projects. And it's easy to resize text on the fly, so you can actually read what you're typing, no matter how old and tired your eyes are.

You can grab your copy of JujuEdit for free and run it on your Windows system.

Download JujuEdit

Ad blocker for Mac OS X

Friday, December 24th, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of GlimmerBlocker

Let's face it: unless you're an advertiser, getting a page full of ads every time you visit a web page can be a pain in the neck. Along with the general irritation of all that flashing, bouncing stuff, your system's performance takes a hit with all the extra bandwidth needed to download all those images, movies, etc. to your computer. And you're probably not going to buy that stuff anyway.

There are plugins and add-ons for many browsers that help filter this stuff out, but each time you upgrade to the latest version of Safari or Firefox you have to worry that this junk-blocking capability is going to be broken. GlimmerBlocker takes a different approach.

GlimmerBlocker isn't just a browser extension; this tool actually behaves as a proxy server. That means that rather than hacking your browser, it uses its own rules to filter objectionable material. While that means it isn't integrated as tightly into Safari as you might like, it gives you the option of tweaking it by adding CSS rules or judiciously-applied bits of JavaScript. Your browser doesn't have to figure out what to do with ads, because the ads never make it to the browser.

GlimmerBlocker is a Mac application. It runs under OS X 10.5 and later.

Download GlimmerBlocker

Mac disk data recovery

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of Disk Drill

You bought a Mac because it works, right? That is, until it doesn't. Yes, we know that it's your pride and joy, but sometimes bad things just happen. And when those bad things include files that have been bent, broken, and deleted, you may need some help to get them back.

Disk Drill is a tool that helps you recover files that aren't having a good day. Whether you're dealing with your system's hard drive, a removable FireWire or USB volume, a thumb drive, or memory card, this guy's on the case. It'll dig through the mess and help bring your files back from the Great Beyond. It's a native Mac application, so it understands the idiosyncrasies of the HFS/HFS+ file systems, as well as FAT, NTFS, and more. If you had it on your Mac, this tool will do its best to bring it back.

Disk Drill is a free Mac application. It runs under OS X (10.5 and later), and is compatible with both PowerPC and Intel Macs.

Download Disk Drill

Sticky Notes for Windows

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Sticky Notes

If you need to scribble down a quickie reminder or idea you want to hang on to, there's nothing like little sticky notes. Stick 'em on a book, stick 'em on your computer monitor, or stick 'em on your kids. Well, maybe not the kids. While this method is quick, it does include certain vulnerabilities. Like an unexpected gust of wind. Maybe you need stronger glue, or maybe a different type of sticky.

Sticky Notes is an application that takes the simplicity of the Post-it note and brings it into the computer age. Create a new note and use it to keep track of an idea, an address, an appointment, or any of the things you might use its paper analogue for. Your reminders can be edited, formatted, and moved around your screen. And they stay put, even through reboots, so you're not going to lose track of what you need to keep an eye on, just because your machine blew up. It's not going to hurt to give Sticky Notes a try, since all your notes are held in plain old text files, and the app doesn't use the Registry for anything, meaning that uninstalling is a breeze. But the amount of money you save in not buying packs of those little adhesive slips of paper may make you want to leave it in place.

You can use Sticky Notes on your Windows system, assuming you're running Windows 2000 or later.

Download Sticky Notes