Archive for July, 2011

Edit tags for media files

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of TigoTago

There's data, and then there's data about data. Your web page contains data: the text, images, links, and all that on the page are the stuff that people look at when they visit your site. The source files for the pages on your site also usually contain data about data, in this case called meta data. You've seen those tags in the page headers: description, keywords, that kind of thing. These guys aren't the actual data of your pages, they are additional chunks of information that talk about your data. This kind of data-about-data is used in other contexts as well, like in the media files you deal with every day.

When you fire up iTunes or some other player and see things like performer, album name, and all that, this information comes from tags that are embedded in your media files. These tags can be edited and customized if you have the right tool. Maybe TigoTago is the right tool for you.

TigoTago is a spreadsheet-based tag editor for media files like MP3 and WAV audio files, AVI and WMV video files, and more. Grab the files you want to tweak and open them up with TigoTago. You can edit any of the fields, either one-at-a-time for individual files, or as a group for multiple file operations, like adding an album name or performer name to a whole bunch of files all at once. You get to see that your changes will look like before you commit them—after all, you don't want to have to go back and fix a typo after you've just updated dozens of files.

A free download, TigoTago is a Windows application. It should run under all versions of Windows from Win9x on up.

Download TigoTago

Birthday Reminder

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Birthday Reminder

While forgetting your anniversary may be the worst thing you can do, date-wise, forgetting an important birthday probably comes in a close second. But with all the stuff on your mind, who could blame you for forgetting. If your brain is too full, maybe it's time for a dedicated birthday reminder.

The aptly named Birthday Reminder is a tool that can help you keep track of those important birthdays. Just enter the people you want to keep an eye on, add their birthdates, and decide how far in advance you want to be reminded—maybe only a day ahead for a co-worker, but two weeks for grandma, so you can send her package off—and you're good. And just in case this reminder isn't enough to keep you on the straight-and-narrow, you can set it so that your reminders will always appear on top of your other windows. That'll keep you from forgetting to take care of business.

Birthday Reminder is a free download. It's a Windows application.

Download Birthday Reminder

Free watermarking software for your digital images

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of Star Watermark

It's nice to share. A lot of what goes on online is built on the notion that you're going to be sharing something. That's fine, until you find yourself in a position where that thing you're sharing is something you'd rather collect a few bucks for. Like an electronic image.

If you're in the business of selling images, or even of just making images available for your visitors and customers to look at, you probably want to make sure that everybody knows where those electronic pictures came from. Sticking a watermark on your images reminds everybody of their origin, so that then can come running back to buy the non-watermarked version from you, or at least to learn more about you from that watermarked sample you made available.

Star Watermark is a tool that lets you put watermarks on your digital images. Select your image and then add the particulars for your watermark. Type the word or phrase you want to use, pick the font and size, and then add whatever decoration you like, including color, shadow, and transparency. Save your watermarked image and you won't have to worry that folks are going to use your image in ways you didn't intend.

Star Watermark is an application for your Mac. It runs under OS X 10.6 and requires an Intel processor.

Download Star Watermark

Check directory sizes with Folder Size

Monday, July 18th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Folder Size

You've got stuff stored all over your hard drive. But just how much is there, and where is it all located? That's not so easy to answer. But just because you don't know doesn't mean you can't know.

Folder Size is a tool that can help you figure out exactly how much data you've got squirreled away. Just point it at a folder or an entire drive and it will scan the target and let you know what it finds. Get your info as text, or for a different look, try a bar chart of a pie chart. It reports not only how big your folder is in terms of bytes of file size, but also gives you the number of files in there, and even percentages (does this folder contain 5% of your space? 50%?). It's smart enough to work with all kinds of media, including USB drives, optical drives, and more, as well as your hard drive. And scans are easy, since Folder Size inserts itself into Windows Explorer's context menu, which means right-clicking on a folder will start the process for you.

You can grab a copy of Folder Size for free. It's a Windows application and runs under Win98 and later.

Download Folder Size

Graphity Diagram Editor

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Graphity

Nothing explains like a diagram. While you can detail a complicated process or relationship in words, sometimes just drawing that flow chart or putting that org chart down on paper can make everything all clear. Back in the day, creating a diagram like one of these required that you grab a pad of graph paper and a plastic flow chart diagram template. Things have come quite a way since then (no more quill pen and green eye shade), so maybe it's time to modernize your process.

Graphity is a free service that makes it easy to draw whatever diagram you need to explain it all for you. Most of the shapes you're likely to need are already included in palettes along the left edge of the screen. Choose a category and drag the shape you want into the main drawing space. It's easy to connect shapes by simply dragging your mouse from one spot to the next. Add labels and you're good to go. Save your handiwork in Graphity's default GraphML format (similar to XML), which allows you to go back and edit your diagram, or export to a PNG to include in your document, blog, or web site.

You don't need anything fancy to use Graphity, just a web browser running a recent version of Flash. You don't need to sign up, and since files are saved to your local machine, you don't have to worry about giving away any secrets.

Download Graphity

A timer with a difference

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of VisiTimer

There's always something you need a timer for. Whether you're making tea or need to swap out the laundry, if you don't set a timer, either you're going to let the tea steep too long, or you're going to forget about that pile of wet clothes that need to be moved into the dryer. You can grab one of those crank-up kitchen timers for a couple bucks at Food 'n' Stuff, or you can check out this cool timer app.

VisiTimer is a timer like all other timers, in that it lets you know when a particular interval of time has passed. Its appearance, however, is anything but usual. Instead of digits counting down the minutes, or even a big clock dial spinning around, it shows the time passing by sweeping an an image across its face. The more time passes, the more the background shows—think of it as wiping condensation off a window to gradually reveal what's behind it. You can choose from their library of images, or add your own. Or if you prefer, use no image at all and just have a circle colored in for you. No matter which way you go, the bottom line is this: no more burned cookies.

VisiTimer is a free download. It runs under Windows.

Download VisiTimer

Put your display to work

Friday, July 15th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of CornerClick

While you may use different applications at different times, there are a handful of go-to apps that you use all the time. Finding those can be a pain in the neck if you're having to dig through layers and layers of folders or squinting at icons on the Dock. It might be handy to have an easier way to start up the important tools.

CornerClick tuns the corners of your display into great big buttons that you can use to launch applications. While there is built-in functionality in OS X that lets you use screen corners to launch your screensaver, for example, there is a very limited list of things you can do here. With CornerClick, if you assign the upper-left corner of your monitor to your go-to screen capture tool, you'll never have to dig around for an icon to click—and no matter how cluttered your desktop gets, you can always find the corner of the display. Open apps, close apps, go to a particular URL in your default browser—go nuts!

CornerClick is a free download for your Mac. In its current iteration, it runs under Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6), but they're still got the Leopard (10.5) version available as well.

Download CornerClick

Build your own dot-to-dots

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Picturedots

Almost everybody loves dot-to-dot puzzles. It's always fun to be faced with a page full of nothing but dots, and then to see it turn into something interesting as you draw the lines to connect those dots. We've looked at sites in the past that offer downloadable dot-to-dot activities, but here's one that lets you build your own.

Picturedots is a service that lets you create your own dot-to-dot puzzles based on your own pictures or other artwork. Just pick an image available online—if you have a photo on your local machine that you want to use, you'll need to upload it to Flickr or some similar service—and start drawing. You just click around the outline of your picture and this tool automatically places the dots and numbers them sequentially, so that by the time you're done clicking around the edges in your photo or drawing, you'll have a dot-to-dot that you can download, or even share with other users. It's pretty easy to use, but they've got an online tutorial just in case. So instead of doing a dot-to-dot of a cute little dog, you can do a dot-to-dot of your cute little dog.

Picturedots is a free service. All you need to use it is a web browser (and maybe a cute dog).

Download Picturedots

An IDE for your PHP

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of CodeLobster PHP Edition

Building a website in PHP can be a big challenge, but when it's complete, it feels like it was worth the work. While writing your code in a generic text editor is a perfectly acceptable way to get things done, there are specialized tools that may help you finish the job easier and quicker.

CodeLobster PHP Edition is an integrated development environment (IDE) tool you can use to build a website or otherwise write and test your PHP and related code. It features syntax highlighting, so it's easy to recognize keywords and functions in your code. Its autocomplete feature helps you with your HTML and CSS syntax. Code collapsing gives you a hand in concentrating on the task at hand, instead of getting bogged down by a page of code that's not relevant to the task you're currently working on. Pair highlighting helps you find those missing parenthesis and brackets that can take a page of code that almost works and turn it into a disaster where nothing works. The built-in debugger helps you find problems in your coding before your pages go live.

You can download a copy of CodeLobster PHP Edition for free. It's a Windows app and will run on any system from WinMe/Win NT up through Windows 7.

Download CodeLobster PHP Edition

Menubar app launcher for Mac

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of XMenu

If you're busy, then your Dock is probably bursting from the seams from all the application icons you've dragged into it, hoping that you can more easily find those apps that you use all the time. After a while, though, it gets almost impossible to see which apps all those little icons stand for, because they're just too darn small. So how do you keep those important apps close to you, but still be able to tell which ones you're clicking on?

XMenu can give you a hand with this. It lives in the menubar and gives you single location to pick your applications from. It groups apps into categories, and lets you unfold them as you drill down to find the one you're after. Application names show, so you're sure you're getting what you're after, and once you make your selection, the menu goes away and gets out of your way. Spend more time getting work done and less time trying to remember what that teeny tiny little Dock icon stands for.

XMenu is a free Mac application. It runs under OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and later.

Download XMenu