Archive for August, 2011

Free tool lets you compare CSV files

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of TableTextCompare

If you've got a lot of data to deal with, your best bet is a great big database solution like MySQL or MS SQL Server or something like it. If you're dealing with something a bit smaller than that, or you're exchanging data between different systems, the CSV—Comma Separated Value—file seems to be the way to go. With these plain-text files, you can move data between systems without having to worry about incompatibilities. So now that you've got a pile of CSVs, can you tell what's going on? Like, for instance, do you have duplicate files? Sure, you could do a byte-by-byte comparison of a pair of files, but what if they both contain the same data, but in a different order? Those are not going to be seen as identical.

TableTextCompare is a tool that lets you compare comma-separated files, or files which use other delimiters like the [TAB] character instead. It will identify lines (rows) that occur only in one file or the other, as well as rows that exist in both files but contain different content. Use it for before- and after comparisons of spreadsheets, or to check for differences between pairs of data files.

TableTextCompare is a free download. It's a Windows application and runs under Windows 2000 and later, including 64-bit versions.

Download TableTextCompare

Identify global keyboard shortcuts

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of ActiveHotkeys

Everybody loves a shortcut. Why take the long way 'round if you know that sneaky back road that gets you to your destination in half the time? As is often the case, real world metaphors often apply to computer stuff as well. Specifically, we're talking about hotkeys here. Sure, if you want do something quickly—maybe grab a screenshot or pop up your note-taking tool—you can look for the application, start it up, dig through several menus, choose your action, and head off on your way. Or if your app is clever, it supports hotkeys, so that by your merely typing some pre-assigned combination of keystrokes, you make things happen. That's all good until you start to get a bunch of apps that each have their own set of hotkeys. So how do you keep track of them all?

Active Hotkeys is a tool that can show you all the active global keyboard shortcuts on your system at any given time. This may be helpful if you're trying to remember what that important keystroke combination was, or if you're creating and assigning some new hotkeys for another application and don't want to step on anybody's toes. Unfortunately, what this tool can't do is tell you which application will respond when you hit those magical keystrokes. Apparently because of the way the way in which Active Hotkeys operates, Windows doesn't expose that information to the app. Nevertheless, it's probably helpful to have at least this much info on those system-wide hotkeys.

ActiveHotkeys is a Windows application, and should run on any system under Win95 and later.

Download ActiveHotkeys

Screenshots for social networks

Friday, August 19th, 2011

runs as Online Serviceruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of TinyGrab

Whichever social networks you're active in, you're there because you want to share stuff. Whether it's your thoughts and ideas, or maybe your pictures, you're looking for an easy and painless way to get it all out there. One way to help with getting your screenshot images out into the world is with TinyGrab.

TinyGrab is both a desktop application and an online service. Once you install the app on your system, hit the trigger keys, drag the crosshairs across your display, and off your image goes. In return for your not-so-hard work, a URL for the destination of that image is stuck on your clipboard, which will let you paste it into IMs, emails, tweets, and so forth. You've now shared that interesting thing from your desktop to all your dedicated followers out there in social network-land, and you didn't have to jump through a bunch of hoops to make it happen.

You can grab desktop clients for Mac (OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and later) and Windows (XP and later, with .NET ver 4 installed).

Download TinyGrab

IObit Malware Fighter

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of IObit Malware Fighter

There are bad people out there and they mean to do you harm. You've got a lock on your front door to keep them out of your house. You've got an alarm to keep them out of your car. What are you doing to keep them out of your computer?

IObit Malware Fighter covers the waterfront in terms of keeping bad things from happening to your system. Run it in conjunction with your antivirus tool, and you'll be taking care of threats from spyware, adware, trojans, keyloggers, bots, worms, hijackers and other security-related risks. It watches your system at its most vulnerable points: system startup, web browsers and cookies, files and network activity, and more. Let it run in the background to watch for threats in real time, or run a full scan to deep clean your system, or set up a custom scan to check the pieces you're most interested in.

IObit Malware Fighter is a free download. It's a Windows app and runs under Win2k, XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

Download IObit Malware Fighter

Split big files into small files

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of A.F.6

You've got a big file. You need to make it into a small file. Or many small files. You can't just get out the carving knife, but if you need to constrain the size of your files so that they fit onto a diskette (ask your parents), attach to an email, or make available for download, you're going to need to tool to make it happen. That tool might just be A.F.6.

A.F.6 takes big files and splits them into small files. There's nothing fancy going on—no changes made to the data, no proprietary file-sequencing number added—just chopping big files into small ones. And even though they do have a put-them-all-back-together tool you can use to reassemble your split files, all you really need to do is issue a simple DOS command from Windows "Run" command line window.

A.F.6 is a Windows app. It runs under Win9x, NT, and anything later.

Download A.F.6

Text Completion Software

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of Kissphrase

You're probably familiar with the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. When computers are on their best behavior, they take complicated stuff and make it simple. And if you're really lucky, you can find applications that help make things even less complicated.

Kissphrase is a tool that can help simplify your life. It runs as a System Preferences pane and basically allows you to type in little shorthand mnemonics that will expand out to complete words or phrases, or more. Just type your keyword followed by a space, tab, or return, and no matter which program you're currently operating in, it will replace your typing with the text you've associated with that keyword. Whether it's the tricky spelling on a client's name, a chunk of stock text you use in your correspondence, or even entire boilerplate documents, once you give it a little push, Kissphrase takes over from there.

Kissphrase runs on your Mac, OS X version 10.5 (Leopard) and later.

Download Kissphrase

Don't let your hard drive fail

Monday, August 15th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of CrystalDiskInfo

Your computer is a ridiculously complicated collection of bits and pieces of electronic and mechanical stuff. While it's humming along, everything is great, but once things start to wear out and break down, you know it's going to get ugly. Some failures are pretty easy to scope out: once your desktop computer starts to sound like a threshing machine, it may be a sign that your power supply and cooling fan are on their last legs. Others, like your hard drive, may be more subtle and harder to scope out. For years now, many HDDs have supported S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) to let you know when your hard drive is on the verge of going south. Getting at that predictive information, however, is often easier said than done.

CrystalDiskInfo is a tool that lets you see what your hard drive is telling you. It keeps an eye on what's happening with your system, and if (or when) it sees something amiss, it'll raise the alarm and even email you to let know that you need to pay attention. It generates several reports to keep you up to speed on things, some of which contain not-so-interesting but important rows and columns of data, and others that include easy-to-assimilate graphs of important parameters.

You should be able to use CrystalDiskInfo on systems running Windows 2000 and later. And of course, your hard drive needs to support S.M.A.R.T.

Download CrystalDiskInfo

Online HTML5 WYSIWYG authoring tool

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Maqetta

So you've heard all about HTML5 and figure you probably ought to start looking into it. But of course you're running a business and don't have time to sit down with some zillion-page long manual to figure out the syntax and new tags and all the other stuff you'll need to make pages that actually take advantage of this new technology. Or maybe you can give Maqetta a try.

Maqetta is a free online tool for authoring HTML5 pages. As a WYSIWYG app, it makes it easy to drag and drop buttons, textboxes, and all other onscreen widgets around to place them just where you want without having to figure out the actual code to make the magic happen. Add headings and text and you're good to go. You can spend your time getting work done, instead of fighting with the syntax.

While the code generated by Maqetta should work fine for any browser that supports HTML5, in order to use it you need to be running a fairly recent browser (Firefox 4, Chrome 5, Safari 5 or later) for your page building adventures.

Download Maqetta

Symbolic Link Creator for Windows

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Symbolic Link Creator

So you've just downloaded and installed the latest release of Frammitz 9000, the must-have app for people who do whatever it is that you do. Now Frammitz isn't too smart an app, and insists on hard-coding where it wants to keep its data. If you're cool with their choice, then you're golden. If, however, you need it someplace else, you may be out of luck. What you need is a way to make it look like that data is where it's supposed to be, when in reality it's living somewhere else. In the world of Unix-y things, this is the perfect spot for a symbolic link. But, alas, you're on Windows. What to do?

Symbolic Link Creator is a tool that brings this Unix-like functionality to your Redmond-powered machine. You move your data to where you want it—maybe a different directory, maybe a different drive; heck, maybe even a different network volume. You then create the link that points from the original location to the new location, and Frammitz 9000 is none the wiser. Turns out this functionality is already included in your install of Vista or Windows 7, but only as a console app; what Symbolic Link Creator does is put a nice, no-nonsense GUI on the front, to make it something that mere mortals can use easily.

You need to be running Vista or 7 to use Symbolic Link Creator, as well as version 3.5 of the .NET Framework as well.

Download Symbolic Link Creator

Monitor files for changes

Friday, August 12th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of FileMonitor

It's important to know what's in your files. After all, if you don't know what's in there, it's probably not worth having. Sometimes, though, it's not just the contents of the file, but the fact that there's been a change to it. Take log files, for example. If you're interested in what's happening on your system, you might want to keep an eye on when big-deal events are written back to the system log. If you don't want to just sit there and wait until something happens—not your most productive use of time to be sure—maybe you should use a tool that can keep an eye on things for you.

FileMonitor is an app that sits there and just waits for things to happen. Point it at your system log file or any of the other status-y files on your system, and it will tell you when there's been a change; that is, some event has happened that warranted writing an entry back to that file. Or if you prefer, you can point it at a folder—maybe a dropbox on your FTP server—to let you know when files have been added to that folder. Either way, you can go about your business while this tool keeps an eye on things for you.

FileMonitor is a free download for your Mac.

Download FileMonitor