Archive for July, 2011

Use your web browser as an FTP client

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of net2ftp

Getting files from here to there is a big deal. Whether you're collaborating on a project, sharing vacation photos, or making your next great application available for download, you've got to get the files up on some server before anybody else can access them. There are no end of services available to host and share files, but back in the beginning was FTP. If you're starting from scratch, you may not want to go through the effort to set up and configure an FTP server, but if it's already up there, you might as well use it.

Back in the day, the only way you could get files up onto that FTP server was to fire up the dedicated FTP client. If your desktop is already littered with applications and documents, the last thing you probably need is to open up yet another one. So how about using your web browser?

Net2ftp is a free online service that lets you FTP files up to a server using only your web browser. Of course, you still need to tell it what your server name is and log in with your user name and password, but once you give it that info, you get a relatively full-featured FTP tool that you can use to upload, download, and traverse the directory structure of your online file repository, but without needing to open that additional app.

Download net2ftp

Full-screen scientific calculator

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of RedCrab

There is a world of calculators out there for your computer. Most systems come with one of more of these tools built in, and there are tons to choose from if you decide that you want to do something a little more complicated than balance your check book. Even many of the so-called "scientific" calculators, though, leave something to be desired, in that they still operate like calculators, especially when it comes to entering the values and operators necessary to get your answer.

RedCrab is a different type of calculator. It features a full screen formula editor, which allows you enter your data much more like the way you would write out a problem on a sheet of paper or a whiteboard. It supports a full complement of trig and logarithmic functions, exponents, and more. It's easy to use for the novice, but just in case you want to really get in there and take advantage of its power, there is a big-deal PDF manual you can dig through as well.

RedCrab is a Windows application. You'll need a machine with at least a P4 processor and half-a-gig of RAM to use it.

Download RedCrab

Check your disk space

Friday, July 29th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of GrandPerspective

How much disk space do you have left on your hard drive? You can run directory listings and you can look around with Finder, but if you're looking at more than a few files, those numbers representing file and folder sizes don't really have any meaning. This is a situation where the picture may be worth a thousand words.

GrandPerspective is a tool that graphically shows you the disk space that your applications, documents, and media files take up. Rather than long strings of numbers, it used colored rectangles, which are sized proportionally to show you the relative sizes of your files. Now it's easy to see that that movie file you downloaded is taking up much more space on your system than it really deserves. Go ahead and get rid of it, or archive it in some other location, and now you've put off having to get a bigger hard drive for at least a couple of months.

GrandPerspective is a Mac application. It runs under OS X version 10.3 and later, on both Intel and PowerPC machines.

Download GrandPerspective

High powered note taking and outline tool

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of MindRaider

Everybody's always trying to make a better note-taking and organizing tool. After all, a lot of what we deal with in life is little bits and pieces of information. When the back of an envelope can't serve any more as your note-taking platform of choice, there is no end of little notepad apps and big deal outliners that are available for you to use.

MindRaider is a personal notebook and outliner. Instead of keeping several different lists of the stuff you need to take care of—including the inevitable list of the lists you are tracking—just stick it all in MindRaider. Enter your notes, important URLs, and more, with whatever annotations will help you to better remember and understand what you're talking about. Once entered, you can locate your information by drilling down through the outline structure or by using its robust search functionality. It supports several different views, which can help you to organize your data, as well as learn about relationships between different elements.

MindRaider is a free download. It's available for Linux and Windows, as well as a Java version, making it Mac-friendly as well.

Download MindRaider

Tweak your Windows Taskbar

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Taskbar Shuffle

We're all in favor of any tool that helps us to work more quickly and efficiently. When you open several documents at once, you typically drag them around the Desktop to put them in just the right location for doing what you need to. Put this application on the right side of the screen, but this one goes at the bottom. You have all kinds of control over this stuff, and it's good. But when it comes to the buttons on your Windows Taskbar, you're at the mercy of your machine. Didn't open those apps in the same order this time as last? You're out of luck.

Taskbar Shuffle is a tool that lets you rearrange the order of the buttons on the Taskbar. A simple drag and drop functionality lets you re-order how those buttons sit on the Taskbar. And with this tool, you can rearrange the icons in your System Tray as well. Finally you've got the control you need to really get some work done.

Taskbar Shuffle is a free download. It's a Windows application, with support for both 32- and 64-bit platforms.

Download Taskbar Shuffle

Save your clipboard to the cloud

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of ClipCloud

We think it's pretty much agreed: the system clipboard is one of the greatest things since sliced bread. The ability to copy and paste text from one application to the next, or even within a document, is a real time saver. So what else might you do with the clipboard, if only you were able?

ClipCloud has an answer for that question. Once the client app is installed on your system, when you grab stuff for your clipboard, it's actually being stored in the cloud. That means, among other things, that text you grab on one machine is now available to you on another machine—an instant shared clipboard. It keeps track of the last 40 things you saved to the clipboard. You can go back and re-use your snippets of text from earlier by browsing through a list, or by using its search functionality. Copy text from Machine A to Machine B at work. Or save something at work and then grab it when you get home. What's better than better than sliced bread?

ClipCloud is available for free. It's a Mac application, although for the adventurous among Windows and Linux users there is an API available for you to roll your own application.

Download ClipCloud

Match on-screen colors with Color Seizer

Monday, July 25th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Color Seizer

What is that color? You're building a logo or otherwise fiddling with an image file, and you need to match a color. Yes, maybe you could download that web page, open the image file in your paint program, and then figure out what the color is, but that entails a lot of extra steps, and if that image was in the background or otherwise hidden away in CSS land, you've got nothing to show for your work anyway.

Color Seizer is a tool that can help you figure what that color is you're looking at on your screen. Just fire it up, drag the little pointing finger icon over the color on your screen that you're interested in, and it will let you know what that color is in any of half a dozen different formats, including HTML hex values for pasting into your web page, decimal RGB values, those funny little Visual Basic codes, and more. No more guesswork, no more download folder littered with grabbed images that you really don't need any more.

Color Seizer is free download. It runs under Windows.

Download Color Seizer

Move your Desktop to the top of the stack

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Desk Topmost

If you're as busy as most of us, when you sit down at your computer, you've got several different applications running at once, many of which have multiple open windows. You're humming along just fine until you need to grab something from the Desktop. Maybe it's an application icon you need to double click to start another tool, or maybe it's that file you just downloaded. Either way, you typically get to that stuff by hitting the Windows key along with the D (as in "desktop"). Magically, all your open windows minimize and your Desktop is laid bare before you. That's fine as long as you are doing what you came to do, but then it's time to return to whatever you were up to before. Now you've got to dig through all those minimized windows to figure out which ones you need to bring back, and then you've got to get them stacked in just the right order so you can find what you need to get the job done.

Or you can check out Desk Topmost. With this application, instead of getting all the stuff out of your way and off the Desktop, it brings the Desktop to you. Once activated, Desk Topmost lets the Desktop "float" on top of everything else on your system. Now you can do what you need to do with the Desktop without making you deal with all that other stuff. It's just got to help make you more efficient. And that's good.

Desk Topmost is a free download. It's a Windows application.

Download Desk Topmost

Enhanced free image compressor

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Caesium

While digital photos and other images are handy for posting to blogs and including in web sites and are pretty easy to work with, they can also tend to get rather large. That means that you're investing a lot of storage space to keep these guys on your system or your server, and that your visitors are going to use a fair amount of bandwidth in loading those images each time they visit your pages or download your images to their local drive. Well, it turns out that often those pictures have more data in them than is really necessary. Trimming that excess is the job of applications like Caesium.

Caesium is a tool that can reduce the size of your pictures by upwards of 90%. That can mean a big savings in terms of storage space, and can help your web pages to load much faster. Compress your images individually, or process them in batches, whichever is more convenient for you. You can set the compression individually for different images, and you've always got the option of previewing your pictures before you commit your changes.

It's easy to take Caesium out for a drive: it's a free download. It's a Windows application, although they do say a Linux version may be available in the near future, and a Mac port is a possibly further down the road.

Download Caesium

Tincta text editor for Mac

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of Tincta

While high powered word processors are great for drafting a letter or writing a report, they're not so helpful when what you need to generate is a pile of plain text, like when you create a new web page or write a bit of code for your next software development project. For that, you're going to be much better served by a text editor.

Tincta is a text editor for your Mac. As you'd expect, it saves its files off as plain-old text files, perfect to use when coding a website or writing the next great desktop app. It features syntax coloring, which makes it easier to keep track of what's going on in front of you. Line numbering lets you keep an eye on where you are in the file, and is helpful in resolving errors. And it's got bunch of additional features built in, including the ability to change the case of your text, tweak end-of-line characters, search and replace, check spelling, and more.

A free download, Tincta is a Mac application. It runs under OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). It includes a Green License, which asks that you do something about climate change or pollution in exchange for using the software.

Download Tincta