Archive for June, 2011

See how your machine stacks up with HeavyLoad

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of HeavyLoad

Maybe you just went out and spent a mint on a fancy new computer. Or perhaps you're trying to figure out whether your older system still has the horsepower to take care of business. Either way, the question remains: what can my machine do?

One way to answer this question is with HeavyLoad. This tool lets you put your machine through its paces, and it'll tell you how it did. It's designed to push your system to see what it's really capable of. It has routines to work your machine's CPU, memory, disk storage speed and space, video display, and even pushes Windows itself to see how your current configuration stacks up. Maybe you'll find you don't need to upgrade your system, or this might be just the excuse (or reason) you need to spring for that new computer.

HeavyLoad is a free download. It's a Windows application and should run just fine on systems using XP and later.

Download HeavyLoad

Open and view all kinds of files

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Free Opener

It's a big world out there, and there are files everywhere. While that may be an interesting fact, for the most part the files that you can use are probably more interesting than the files that just are. Using a file means being able to open it. While there are some files, like many image formats, that conform to open standards, others are proprietary in nature, like the DOC format for Microsoft Word. And often having a file of a proprietary format means having a special tool to open it.

Free Opener is a tool that will open—and let you view—all kinds of files. You don't need a copy of Office to open that DOC or Excel XLS spreadsheet, or some fancy audio or video player to open and play multimedia files with this guy on the case. It can recognize dozens of different file formats and open them all, without you needing to have a Flash player or a copy of Photoshop on your system.

Free Opener is a free download for your Windows system.

Download Free Opener

Add captions to your digital images

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of TextnPic

Who are the people in that photo? Back in the day, you could just flip your snapshot over and scribble the names on the back. But now that you're shooting digital photos, you don't have anything to flip over. So how do you propose to keep track of who's there or where that picture was taken?

TextnPic is a tool that lets you add a caption to your digital images. Just drag the picture into the application window and start typing. It supports multiple lines of text, and allows you the flexibility to add a border, tweak background colors, and even rotate and resize the image. When you're all done, save your handiwork in either JPG or PDF format. Never again will you have to figure out whether that's Uncle Bob or Cousin Fred in that photo.

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

Download TextnPic

Printable Luggage Tags

Monday, June 27th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Printable Luggage Tags

If you're going on a trip, you're going to bring luggage. Unless you can live for a day or a week with just a toothbrush shoved in your pocket, you'll want to have a change of clothes or two, some toiletries, as well as a camera, sporting goods, and other toys. Take those suitcases, trunks, and duffel bags and pack them full of stuff, and head off to the terminal. Whether you check your bags or try to stick them under the seat in front of you, you need to identify them—after all, everybody else has that same exact bag that you have. Time for a luggage tag or two.

Printable Luggage Tags offers a big range of luggage tags you can download, personalize, and print. Choose from luggage tags with animal themes, images from nature, sports, or plain old luggage tags. Luggage tags come ten to a page and can be printed on heavy paper or on special business card stock. Choose from PDF versions to print out and enter your information by hand, or grab a Word DOC version, where you can type your name and contact information into the luggage tags before you print them out.

Printable Luggage Tags are free to download, so grab as many as you need. And bon voyage.

Download Printable Luggage Tags

Make your Windows machine bend to your will

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Fresh UI

Lots of products work pretty well straight out of the box. When you get a new toaster or shower head, you pretty much get what you get, and you know how to use it without messing with it. Your computer probably worked pretty well straight out of the box as well. But that computer is orders of magnitude more complex than that kitchen appliance, and there are ways it can be tweaked to make it work better for you.

Fresh UI is a tool you can use to make your Windows system look and feel more the way you would like it to. It allows you to customize the interface, so that colors and locations work better for you. You can also optimize many system and hardware settings, making your machine run like not just a well-oiled machine, but like your well-oiled machine. Your toaster never had it so good.

Fresh UI is a Windows application. You should be able to use it to tweak your computer, whether it's an old timer running Windows 95, or some cutting edge brand new Windows 7 box.

Download Fresh UI

Uninstall Windows apps via right click menu

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Menu Uninstaller

All good things must come to an end. And sometimes the less-than-good things have to go as well. Like that application you installed on your Windows machine. Maybe it doesn't do quite what you thought it would, or maybe you found something better. Usually it's relatively easy to uninstall an app, but that doesn't mean it's tons of fun. Open up the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel, find your app, and send it packing. There are those programs, however, that don't play as nice and drop their uninstaller in the application directory instead. Don't you suppose there might be an easier way to handle this?

Menu Uninstaller is a tool that makes it easier to get rid of programs you don't want hanging around your system any more. Instead of having to navigate through multiple layers of directory structure, with this app installed all you need to do is to right click on your application's icon. You will see an Uninstall option in the context menu that lets you uninstall the app from right there. It'll dig through the mess to find the right uninstaller stuff, confirm that it's removing the right application, and then get rid of it for you.

Menu Uninstaller is a free Windows application. It is compatible with systems running WinXP and later.

Download Menu Uninstaller

Be two people at once with Multifox

Friday, June 24th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Multifox

Life is a complicated proposition, and your online life is no exception. You probably have several different email addresses you use, and lots of different logins for various sites you frequent. But if you have a couple of different Gmail accounts, for example, typically you have to log out of one before you can log in to another. Sometimes it might be helpful to be able to log into both accounts at the same time.

Multifox is a Firefox add-on that allows you to assume multiple identities at once. Instead of having to log out to change from one Gmail account to another, for example, all you need to do is tell Multifox to add a New Identify Profile and you're off to the races. This tool keeps separate login information, lists of open tabs and windows, and individual sets of sets of cookies for each profile. You can open a window from the menu as a new profile or right-click on a link and follow that link as that other identity.

Multifox is available for both versions 3.6 and 4.0 of the Firefox web browser.

Download Multifox

Check name availability at social networking sites

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Namechk.com

If you decide that you need to build your brand, probably the first requirement is that you have a brand to build. You may come up with the most clever domain name in the world, but if that name's already taken on Twitter, Facebook, and a bunch of others, you're already fighting an uphill battle. It would be handy to be able to check out the lay of the land before you start, stop, and try again to become a contender.

Namechk.com is a service that can give you a hand with this job. Pick a user name you'd like to be known by, plug it into their form, and they'll take a look and see if it's already been taken on any of over eighty blogging and social networking sites. It only takes a few seconds to run a query, so you shouldn't have to spend all day figuring out just the right handle to get your message out there.

Namechk.com is a free service. All you'll need to access it is any old web browser.

Download Namechk.com

Control access to your computer with a USB drive

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Predator

If you wanted everything you do on your computer to be public, I suppose you could set up shop in Times Square. You don't have to be involved in anything nefarious to want to keep your business away from others; maybe it's something as simple as that business proposal you've been working on, or that email from mom (you never call!).

Predator is a tool that can help you keep your business to yourself. Basically, it uses a standard run-of-the-mill USB thumb drive as an access device: once it's set up and running, if you remove the thumb drive, you lock your system. Now instead of having to go through the process of closing your Windows session or waiting for that password-enabled screensaver to kick in, your keyboard will be disabled and your screen will go blank by pulling that drive. Getting back on the air is just as simple: stick the drive back in and you're good to go.

Predator is a free download, but you will need to shell out a few bucks for a USB drive, unless you've got somebody's swag drive with their name plastered all over it in your desk drawer or kicking around at the bottom of your laptop bag.

Download Predator

Send email from the command line

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of SendEmail

There are lots of straightforward ways to send email out there, with all kinds of email client applications. There are some more complicated ways to send email as well, like talking directly to sendmail or postfix. Apps with GUIs are nice for humans, but not so easy to incorporate into scripts. Command line tools are scriptable, but they can be complicated to set up, configure and run. There is, however, a third way.

SendEmail is a Perl script that you can use to send email messages either directly from the command line, or by incorporating its functionality into batch files or shell scripts. You basically include all the regular bits and pieces required for any email message—to, from, subject, body, name of the SMTP server you're using—in the command that invokes the app, and then just send the message. While it may be a bit complicated to do this from the command prompt yourself, sticking it all into a script is pretty easy, and now you can send messages programmatically.

A free download, SendEmail is available with installers for Linux and Windows, although it's no great challenge to use it on your Mac as well. All you need is a Perl install on your system, and you're good to go.

Download SendEmail