Archive for April, 2011

Tail lets you watch logs in real time

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of MakeLogic Tail

Your computer's a busy place. Even when you're not banging away on the keyboard or clicking wildly with your mouse, it's doing all kinds of stuff behind the scenes. And while it's working away in the background, it's keeping track of what it's doing by recording all kinds of important information in various log files. You may never have occasion to look at those logs, but if you do, you'll quickly see that they're not the easiest thing in world to work with. Logs are all written in chronological order, which means that the most recent happenings are at the end of the file; but when you open that log file to look at it, you're dropped at the beginning, which means paging through lots of data before you get to the information about the most recent application crash or security details.

In the *nix world, you've got the tail command, which lets you look at the most recent lines written to those log files. And when you through the right command line arguments at it, tail will actually follow those files and show you what's happening in real time. Not on Linux? Check out MakeLogic's Tail program. It runs like tail, but with a pretty GUI. In addition, you can keep track of several different log files at once. Since it's a Java app, it will run on any machine with the appropriate Java runtime, which means that one size really does fit all.

MakeLogic's Tail is a free download.

Download MakeLogic Tail

Organize your small business info

Friday, April 29th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of Organise

Congratulations! You and your trusty Mac have decided to go into business together. Whether you're writing code or selling widgets, you're going to have a million things to keep track of. And who knows: maybe you'll even have time to make some money.

Organise is a tool that can help you keep track of the details so that you can spend more of your time doing the stuff you really want to do. It's an integrated database tool that includes functionality to keep an eye on customer and supplier contact information, products and orders, and even time management, as well as spitting out reports on all this. By keeping it simple, you can get the tedious "paper work" stuff out of the way and spend more time doing the stuff you do well. As you might guess from the spelling of the application's name, this tool is written in British English, so some of the names and labels, as well as date formats, may take some getting used to for folks on this side of The Pond.

Organise is a free download. It's a Mac application and runs under OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and later.

Download Organise

Let your mouse scroll wheel work even harder

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of WizMouse

In the relentless forward march of technological progress, the invention of the digital computer rightfully takes its place as a real game changer. It made it possible to do in relative short order what would take armies of people lifetimes to accomplish. A similar leap forward was the invention of the computer mouse. The ability to use this pointing device instead of relying strictly on typed commands sped the process up yet again. Add multiple buttons and a scroll wheel to that device, and you're really on fire. With a legacy like that to live up to, how do you improve that mouse?

WizMouse is a tool that lets you speed up your work even further by allowing you to scroll through the contents of a window without clicking on that window and making it active. All you need to do is to hover the mouse pointer over any window on your screen, one with focus or a background window, and spin the scroll wheel. Your window will scroll up and down as if you had actually clicked on the window. And you can also configure WizMouse to add scrolling functionality to apps that don't support scrolling, by translating those mouse movements into up- and down scrollbar commands. Configuration is easy by clicking on an icon in the System Tray.

You can use WizMouse on your Windows system.

Download WizMouse

Add a Mac-style dock to Windows

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of ObjectDock

There seem to be a couple of different schools of thought when it comes to computers. On one hand, it's a powerful tool that helps enhance your productivity and lets you accomplish a lot with the least amount of time and effort possible. On the other hand, it's a fun toy that lets you play with games, multimedia, and all kinds of cool leisure-time stuff. So what about combining the serious productivity with a bit of fun as well? After all, you can drive your Ferrari down to the corner market for a gallon of milk, right?

ObjectDock is an app that adds a Mac OS X-style Dock to your Windows desktop. Get rid of your stodgy old Windows taskbar; ObjectDock even replaces your Windows Start button with an icon in the left-most position on the Dock. Drag your favorite apps onto the Dock, show or hide running apps and open docs, just go nuts. It's even got a couple of "docklets", little widget-like apps that are integrated with the Dock. While it may not be as much fun as an afternoon at the ballgame, it can add at least a little cool to your work day.

Object Dock is a free download. It's a Windows application and will be right at home on your XP (or later) system.

Download ObjectDock

Create new documents where you want them

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of NuFile

Whenever you open a new file, whether it's a Word DOC, an Excel XLS worksheet, or some other, the first thing you need to do is to save it somewhere, so that you've got a name for the file, and so that you can do regular saves to keep your hard work from vanishing in a puff of smoke the next time your machine decides to go south. Pain in the neck, right? You'd much rather just start working than bothering with all that housekeeping stuff.

NuFile adds an item to Finder's Context Menu (the right-click menu) that lets you create new files of the type you want in the location where you want them. Yeah, the Windows people have been doing that for a long time, but not so much on Mac. Now instead of having to dig through several layers of folder hierarchies to save that file, all you need to do is get to the folder you're working in and get started. To save even more time, you can add your own document types and templates to the menu. You'll be so productive, you just won't know what to do with all that extra time in your day.

You can download NuFile for free for your Mac. It runs under OS X.

Download NuFile

Browse through your digital images

Monday, April 25th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of WildBit Viewer

How many images do you suppose you have on your computer? Whether it's all the digital photos from the family get-together last Thanksgiving, the logos for that new killer website you're working on, or whatever else there may be on there, you know you've got a bunch of pictures. While having them sit there might be nice, it would be even better to be able to look at them.

WildBit Viewer is an app that makes it easy to browse through your collection of digital images. You can put together a slideshow to look through last Summer's vacation, using dozens of different transition effects. It also supports a fair amount of editing functionality, letting you crop and rotate pictures, add shadows and banish the dreaded red-eye. You can even use it with your scanner to acquire additional images, so you'll have more stuff for your next slideshow.

You can grab a copy of WildBit Viewer for free. It's a Windows app and is compatible with systems running Win2k and later.

Download WildBit Viewer

Backup tool for Windows and Linux

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Windows
screenshot of Duplicati

If you've ever needed to restore data from a backup, you know how important they can be. Whether it's a simple human error—Oops! I deleted the wrong file!—or a total system meltdown, having that copy cached away can save your bacon. And if you never have had that need? Well, count your blessings, 'cause it's going to happen to you at some point.

Duplicati is a tool that makes it easy to create backups. It's got a wizard to walk you through the steps of setting things up. It's even made some choices for you, like the locations on your hard drive that you're most likely going to want to archive, so you'll be up and running that much faster. Your backups are both compressed and password protected, so that you save space and can sleep at night, knowing your data isn't going to fall into somebody else's hands. And the big difference between Duplicati and lots of other backup solutions is that your backups are designed to be stored off-site. After all, it's no good having a pristine backup in your home or office that then gets wiped out when fire or flood comes calling. You can choose to direct your backups to a network volume, or even to an FTP or SFTP server, as well as Amazon's S3 service or a WebDAV volume.

You can grab a copy of Duplicati for free. It runs under Windows (Win 2000 and later) and various flavors of Linux.

Download Duplicati

Color picker tool

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Color Cop

So there you sit in front of your computer, looking for inspiration for your next graphics project. You've surfed around for a while, and find yourself looking at an image and you decide you really like the blue in that logo or the green in that photo. But how are you going to match that color? If you're trying to match colors on your display, there seem to be two choices: either you have a really good eye, or you find an easy-to-use tool to help you out.

Color Cap is a tool that helps take the guesswork out of this process. Start it up and drag the little eyedropper to the location on your screen where that color lives, and you get the RGB values in decimal and hex versions. You can zoom in if you're looking at a complicated image, so that you get just the right pixel. And while you're at it, Color Cop will also offer its own suggestions on colors that would complement your choice—it's like getting a whole palette to work with from just that one pixel. Now that's efficiency!

Color Cop is a Windows application. While there's no cost to use it, the publisher suggests that a nominal donation might be appropriate if you feel so moved.

Download Color Cop

Find any file

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of FindAnyFile

Finding stuff is a good thing, especially if you're searching for it. Your Mac comes with Spotlight, which is supposed to help you locate files on your system. Unless they're hidden or are inside a package or bundle. For those, you can resort to Terminal and all kinds of exotic command line tricks, or you can check out FindAnyFile.

FindAnyFile has an easy to use interface that lets you choose any mounted volume to search, or you can drag-and-drop individual folders into the interface and go from there. You can search on partial or complete filenames, creation and modification dates, file type, and more. Your results are available as either a list of names, or you can check out the hierarchical view to give your results a bit more context. And it's smart enough to report back on hidden files—those files you can't see in Finder—so that you can really see what's living on your disks.

You can download a copy of FindAnyFile for free. Strictly speaking, the latest release is "donationware", with older versions being available for free. It's a Mac application and runs under Tiger (OS X 10.4) and later.

Download FindAnyFile

Free Flash Clocks

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Free Flash Clocks

Life can be more interesting and more fun when you add the little things. A dash of cinnamon on your oatmeal, or maybe that new pair of shoes—they're not absolutely necessary, but they add a little bit of interest and excitement to what might otherwise be just another day. If you've got a website, maybe you've thought of adding a little digital "bling" to spice it up a bit. How about a fancy new clock?

The folks at Free Flash Clocks offer oodles of interesting little Flash-based clocks. They're easy to use—just look through their galleries of clocks and pick one or more that speak to you. Choose from analog clocks, digital clocks, animal clocks, clocks that count up and down, or any of a zillion others. Once you find the one you like, just click the yellow button to copy and paste the code for the clock into your web page, and you're off to the races. They don't require any programming skill, so there's nothing to be afraid of.

All you need to use Free Flash Clocks is a web page to stick them into.

Download Free Flash Clocks