Archive for June, 2011

Backup with Bvckup

Monday, June 20th, 2011

screenshot of Bvckup

Backing up your machine is an important thing to do, and really shouldn't be avoided. Unless it's too much trouble. Or too complicated. Or any of several other often-used reasons. And they're all good, until your system chokes and you need that backup. At that point, most of the excuses aren't worth so much to you—certainly not worth as much as having your data back.

Bvckup may be the solution you're looking for. It's got a small footprint, is easy to set up, and keeps an eye on things. It only backs up files that have changed since the last check, so you aren't creating huge archives containing mostly redundant data. It's smart enough to grab not only the files it encounters, but also the various timestamps, attributes, and ownership information necessary to keep your NTFS file system humming along if you should ever need to restore from your backups. After all, that's the real test: what good is the backup that you can't use to make your system right again?

You can grab a copy of Bvckup for free. It runs on systems under Windows XP and later.

Download Bvckup

Capture what's important to you with Catch

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Catch

Keeping track of all the little bits and pieces of info you come across during the course of the day can be a job in itself. Thoughts, reminders, URLs, and all that stuff can fill a legal pad or notebook in no time. And then if you've got all this good stuff squirreled away at work, how do you access it at home? Now you're in trouble.

Catch is a service that can help you deal with that information overload. It's easy to get your stuff into their system—use a web form, upload an image, even send an email, and it's all included in your account. Sort by date, subject, or keyword, and it supports Twitter-like hashtags, so you can filter by keywords as well. Access to Catch is easy via the Web or from your mobile device. Record your ideas once and they're available to you where ever you are.

A free service, all you need to use Catch is a web browser. And there are add-ons for Chrome and Firefox, as well as an accelerator for IE, making it even easier to keep track of your notes.

Download Catch

Monitor free disk space in System Tray

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Tray Disk Free

How much space is left on that hard drive? The last thing you want to have happen as you're downloading some big file or building the next version of your killer app is to be unceremoniously told that you are out of disk space, thank you very much. Sure, you can keep track of how much room you've got left, but that means opening a window or three and digging through stuff to see just what's available to you.

Tray Disk Free is a tool that lets you know at all times just how much disk space you've got free on your system. It sits there in the System Tray keeping an eye on things, so you won't have an "oops" moment when you try to cram a gigabyte of data into a megabyte of space. It displays free space both numerically and with a little bar graph, so you can see at a glance whether you've got a lot of space or just a little. Now you'll know when it's time to do a little tidying up, or maybe go ahead and spring for that bigger hard drive you've been eyeing.

Tray Disk Free is a free download for Windows.

Download Tray Disk Free

Generate random numbers

Friday, June 17th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Random Number List Generator

No matter how hard we work to impose some kind of order on our world and our experience, sometimes there's still a lot of random left over. While random isn't necessarily the way to run a business or a household, random does have its uses. Many contests rely on picking a name out of a hat—a kind of random. Passwords that are random are much more secure than the time-honored password scheme of using a pet's name or an anniversary date.

Random Number List Generator is a tool that can take the power of random and put it to work for you. Just tell it how many numbers you need and how long you would like them each to be and press the button. It returns a list of random numbers that you can copy and paste for whatever use you've got in mind. Along with digits, you can also add prefix and suffix strings that include non-numeric characters as well. Use it to generate a random password and you can sleep easy at night, knowing it's going to take the bad guys a long, long time to hack their way into your account.

Random Number List Generator is a Windows application. It should run on any flavor of Windows from Win95 on up.

Download Random Number List Generator

Format USB drive

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Any Drive Formatter

Portable USB pen drives are certainly handy critters. In a package no bigger than a pencil eraser, you can carry the equivalent of dozens and dozens of floppy disks (ask your parents), or several CDs or DVDs. Copy your files, drop the drive in your pocket, and you're out the door. Unless, of course, you can't format that little thumb drive.

Any Drive Formatter is a tool that you can use to format your USB drive, or any other drive that's not cooperating with the whole formatting thing. With your removable drive in place, start the app, browse to and select your drive—it will recognize it automatically—add a name, and format it. You can choose the "quick format" route, or do a full disk format. It's got a progress bar to let you know that things are moving along.

A free download, Any Drive Formatter is a Windows application.

Download Any Drive Formatter

Secure your laptop

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of LaptopLock

Nobody wants to lose their laptop. While the loss of the hardware represents a big chunk of change in itself, the data on that portable computer may represent an even greater loss. After all, you can buy a new computer if necessary, but you're not going to be able to get back those photos, spreadsheets, and everything else that lives on your system. In addition, to that, there is always the possibility that your information will be used against you: think of login and account information for your various online accounts, as well as proprietary business information, your address book, and more.

LaptopLock is a tool that can help out when your computer goes wandering. There's a two-step process at work here. On your computer, you can use this app to encrypt your files and also set it to phone home. Using their service, after you register your machine, if it ever goes missing, you can set your status to indicate that, and now whenever your machine goes online, it's going to check in with the LaptopLock folks. It will pass along whatever information it can glean regarding its current IP address, location, and all that stuff. In addition, if you have set your system up to do so, it can automatically run a selected application, or even go so far as to delete and wipe selected files, keeping your super secret data secure.

LaptopLock is a free service. The desktop application runs under Windows 2000 and later.

Download LaptopLock

Rename Windows desktop icons

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Desktop Renamer

It's your computer, so why not make it behave the way you want it to? You can install the apps you want, and organize your data in ways that make sense to you, but the fine folks behind Windows have some pretty set-in-concrete ideas about some of the behaviors of the pieces of this operating system.

The standard desktop icons that Windows puts out there for you don't lend themselves to being easily renamed. Whether it's Recycle Bin, My Computer, My Documents, or My Network Places, you are not encouraged to change those icon names. Whether you are experienced in the ways of the Mac and would prefer to call it Trash instead of Recycle Bin, or can't quite wrap your head around the "My…" prefix for the others (of course they're My Documents—aren't they on My Computer?), you can' t easily tweak those labels. Desktop Renamer lets you do just that. Start it up and go in and edit those names. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. And if you decide that the folks from Redmond really did get it right after all, there is a Reset All button that lets you bail on your clever new names and go back to the defaults.

Desktop Renamer is a Windows app. It was designed to be used with WinXP, but it will probably work equally well with other flavors as well.

Download Desktop Renamer

Printable Paper Dolls

Monday, June 13th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Printable Paper Dolls

Have you ever had the experience of buying some fancy new gift for a kid and finding out that they're more interested in the package than the item itself? In spite of how great we think this spiffy new fancy do-dad is, sometimes simpler is better and more interesting.

Paper Dolls have been around forever. They're easy to use, very portable, and there are no batteries required. If you're industrious, you can make them yourself, but there is also help available out there, at places like Printable Paper Dolls. These folks have created several dozen different paper doll designs, with all kinds of interesting clothing and accessories. Browse their site to check out boy paper dolls and girl paper dolls, ballerina paper dolls and princess paper dolls, as well as paper dolls of several other types and descriptions. Many of them are the same size, so it's easy to mix and match outfits between different dolls. And they're all available to download for free.

Printable Paper Dolls are available as PDF files, so you will need a copy of Adobe Reader or another app that can print PDF files.

Download Printable Paper Dolls

Lock a folder

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of LocK-A-FoLdeR

If you've got something you want to protect, you slap a lock on it. Now unless somebody's got the key, they're not going to get into your stuff. The same philosophy is at work with the LocK-A-FoLdeR application.

Whether you've got a directory full of super-secret business plan goodies, or just a folder that you don't want the kids to get into and mess up, all you need to do is fire up LocK-A-FoLdeR and lock that folder. This tool lets you lock up to three individual folders behind a password. Not only are those folders locked, meaning that they can't be changed, they are in fact invisible, so nobody will even know of their existence. To bring them back, just run the app again, choose to unlock the folder, supply the password, and everything's back the way it was when you started. For simplicity's sake, there is a master password, so at least you aren't going to have to remember a bunch of extra information to bring your files back.

LocK-A-FoLdeR is a free download. It's a Windows application, and should work on systems running XP and later.

Download LocK-A-FoLdeR

Clean up text files with TextMorph

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of TextMorph

It seems that text files make the world go 'round. Whether it's Web pages, programming source code, or even configuration files on various systems, they're all just plain old text files. Sometimes, however, that plain text also includes a bunch of other stuff which while it may be important for your browser or compiler, doesn't help human beings very much in terms of being able to easily read through those documents.

TextMorph is a tool that can give you a hand with getting the extra junk out of the way so that you can deal more easily with text files. Need to grab the content on a web page? Yes, you can view source, copy and paste into a text editor, and start deleting angle brackets and such, or you can feed it all to TextMorph and let it clean things up for you. In addition it can also deal with capitalization issues, line spacing, and line ending characters. As an added bonus, you don't even have to open the files you're manipulating: just point it at those files and pull the trigger. And if it doesn't do something you want it to do, you can even build your own tools and add them into the mix.

TextMorph is a free download. It is a Windows app and runs under Win9x and later.

Download TextMorph