Archive for September, 2011

Monitor network traffic

Friday, September 30th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of NetworkTrafficView

With any sort of network, there are packets of data flying back and forth constantly. Most of the time, you probably don't care, as long as your email arrives and you can access networked resources. If you're the network guy or gal, or are more interested than average about what's going on, then you might like to take a look at what comprises that network traffic.

For general information, NetworkTrafficView can let you take a look behind the scenes and see what your machine is sending out and receiving in terms of data across your network. More specifically, though, you can use it to check for spyware or other nasties "phoning home" on your machine. It lets you decide how to sort your data, and gives you info about the source and destination, protocols used, number of packets, and total data throughput.

NetworkTrafficView is a free download. It's a Windows application and has both 32- and 64-bit versions.

Download NetworkTrafficView

Random Password Generator

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Random Password Generator

For securing your computer, as well as your online life, there's nothing like a password. The best password, however, is not "1234" and it's not "password" either. This leads to a couple of issues: how do you create a good password, and once you've created it, how do you remember it?

Random Password Generator can help you out with both of these issues. It creates passwords between 6 to 64 characters in length, and you can include your choice of lower case letters, upper case letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. When you build a password containing characters out of three or four of these classes and make it sufficiently long, you're getting pretty close to impossible to crack that password. And now that you've created that super strong password, Random Password Generator will store it for you as well. You can associate an ID with your password—maybe an account name, maybe an email address—as well as leaving a plaintext remark that you think might come in handy at password time. And of course since you're storing sensitive info like this, you can also set a password for Random Password Generator.

Random Password Generator is a free download. You should be able to use it with systems running Windows 2000 and later.

Download Random Password Generator

Print to image files

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of ImagePrinter Free

In the beginning was the printer. If you had something on your computer that you needed reduced to a sheet of paper, you sent it to the printer. Somewhat later, people decided that a hard copy wasn't always necessary, but they still wanted to capture the information that would have been printed out. People started "printing" to PDF files. Now it's possible to even go beyond that.

ImagePrinter Free is a virtual printer that lets you print documents to any of several different image file formats. While the PDF option is still there, you can also print to web-friendly PNG and JPG formats, as well as Windows' BMP format and the old reliable TIFF format. Like other virtual printer tools, all you need to do is to install ImagePrinter Free as a printer on your system, and choose it for output when you want to print to a PNG instead of a piece of paper.

ImagePrinter Free is a Windows Application. It should be compatible with systems running Win2k and later.

Download ImagePrinter Free

Monitor time in multiple locations

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of LoversClock

Your Mac comes with a built in clock, sitting there in the menubar at the top of your screen. You can change what it looks like and how it behaves, but you're pretty much stuck with displaying time for only one timezone, probably the one where you are right now. If you regularly interact with folks in another location, it might be handy to know that time it is there as well.

LoversClock is a menubar app that will display the current time for you. Since you've already got the local time, you can configure it to show the time on the other side of the country—or the other side of the world. Our preference is to show GMT so all those Unix timestamps make sense. If you like, you can display the time for multiple locations, so you can try figure out when the folks in North America, colleagues in the UK, and the people in Singapore can all be up and running at the same time, ready for that conference call (hint: there is no such time).

LoversClock is a free download. There are versions for OS X 10.5 (Leopard), as well as an older Tiger-compatible release.

Download LoversClock

Check website links

Monday, September 26th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of SiteVerify

The day you set up a new website, you know that all the links work, 'cause you checked them, right? Over time, though, that perfect little site starts to show signs of wear and tear. Links to external pages get broken, as other webmasters change the pages on their sites. You may even make a change or two on your site, rendering links broken and giving your visitors the dreaded "404 Not Found" message that nobody wants to see.

SiteVerify can keep an eye on the links on your site—both internal links between pages and external links to other sites—and let you know their condition. You choose how deeply you want to crawl the site, so you can check only top-level stuff, or go as far down as you want. When it runs, the pretty colors give you the status of your links: blue for good links, red for broken ones, green for valid image files, and black for links that haven't been checked yet. Save your information to text or CSV files, and you can even create an XML sitemap file.

SiteVerify is a free download. It runs under Windows 2000 and later, and requires at least version 2.0 of the .NET Framework.

Download SiteVerify

Organize your stuff

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Stuff Organizer

How much stuff do you have on your computer? Sure, there's all those reports and spreadsheets, but what about the important stuff: music, videos, ebooks, and all that? And once you realize just how much of it there is, you also realize that you're never going to find what you're really looking for in that collection.

Stuff Organizer helps you to organize all your stuff. It'll unzip and unpack archive files for you. Sort your files into categories and sub-categories. Add tags to help make things easier to find. The three-pane interface helps you to drill down into categories to find just the particular item you're looking for. Drag and drop files using Windows Explorer to add to the database without actually having to move those files. Or even if all of those media files are still sitting in the Download folder, you can actually find them.

Stuff Organizer runs under Windows XP and later.

Download Stuff Organizer

Slimmed down newsreader

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Feed Notifier

Even in this day of Twitter and instant communication, there is still a place for subscribing to and monitoring RSS feeds published by sites that make them available. Whether you're following news, politics, tech stuff, of more, newsfeeds make their content available to you and make it easy to stay on top of what's going on. One of the drawbacks of many RSS aggregators is that they can grow huge, with all kinds of features you may not be interested in, as well as being resource hogs and taking a big bite out of your system's performance. Feed Notifier tries to take care of that problem.

Feed Notifier is primarily interested in getting you the latest news fast, without a lot of bells and whistles. It just sits there in the System Tray, keeping an eye on things. When a news item arrives, it pops up a message, but doesn't drag your whole machine into it. You can set how often each feed is checked for new content, as well as deciding how long that pop up will stay on your screen. And when an alert does make itself known, Feed notifier doesn't grab keyboard or mouse focus, so it's not going to make a mess of whatever else you're working on.

Feed Notifier is a free download. It's a Windows Application.

Download Feed Notifier

List optional Word settings

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Word Options Utility

Microsoft Word is nothing if not a complex and complicated application. While you can use it make your grocery list or dash off a letter to Mom, you can also use it to build websites, publish books, do graphic layout, and all kinds of other stuff. In fact, it does so much stuff, that it's really hard to know exactly what's available to you at any give time, and even digging through various menus and choices may not get you the piece of information you want.

Word Options Utility is a tool that will let you see all the options settings for your copy of Word in one place at the same time. It comes as a Word document template which, when you open it, runs a big VBA macro that gathers all of that settings information and delivers it to you in an easy-to-read report.

Just by way of warning, since Word Options Utility is an autorun macro, your copy of Word or your antivirus app may complain when you open it. It's available for both Windows and Mac versions of Word, so you'll want to grab the right version for your machine.

Download Word Options Utility

Pick and identify colors

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Colors MiniLab

Of all the pieces involved in web design, getting the colors right just might arguably be the most complicated. When you write your code, you're dictating how things are going to be done, and there may be many ways to accomplish a task to get the desired end result. When it comes to matching that precise shade of green, however, there is going to be exactly one way to do that, and close enough probably isn't really close enough.

Colors MiniLab is a tool that can give you a hand with all things color for web design. It lets you convert arbitrary color values between hex (#ffff00), decimal, RGB, and HSL (HSB). In addition, it features a color picker so you can grab a color on the desktop, essential in matching colors between what you've got and what you're building. It's a small app, so you're not making a major commitment in terms of disk space to bring it to the job, and it's just a single file, so you can stick it on a pen drive or just drop it anywhere that makes sense, without having to worry about an installer making a mess of your machine.

A free download, Colors MiniLab is a Windows application.

Download Colors MiniLab

Fingerspelling Tutor

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Fingerspelling Tutor

In this day of instantaneous electronic communication, it's sometimes easy to forget the importance of face to face conversation. We can take that ability to talk back and forth for granted, until issues arise that keep us from getting our message across to that other person. If you speak English but you're trying to talk to a Spanish speaker, you're going to have problems. Or what if one of you has a hearing issue? For years, many school teachers and Scout leaders have run units on fingerspelling, that most fundamental of ways to communicate with the deaf. Typically this has included diagrams that show how to form each of the letters, maybe even printed on a little card you could carry in your pocket, but for the most part, that's about as far as it has gone.

If you'd like to move on to the next level, Fingerspelling Tutor can help you learn and practice your fingerspelling. Rather than a series of static images, this tool uses animations to show not only what the individual characters look like, but how you move between letters as well. Along with learning how to form the signs for individual letters, you can also start putting them together to spell words. Then the Tutor moves you on to seeing words spelled, and gives you the chance to "read" what they say.

Fingerspelling Tutor is a free download. It runs under Windows.

Download Fingerspelling Tutor