Archive for the ‘Free Service’ Category

Free Thanksgiving Printables

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Thanksgiving Printables

Holidays are fun, but they can come with some heavy burdens as well. With Christmas, you've got to shop for the right gift for everybody on your list; for Easter you've got to find just the right springtime bonnet. That's one of the reasons we like Thanksgiving: the biggest pressure is finding enough room in your bulging belly to squeeze in just a little bit more pie. Sure, it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it, right?

Thanksgiving Printables offers a feast of different downloadable Thanksgiving-themed items. Start with Thanksgiving greeting cards and invitations—after all, you've cooked that huge turkey, so you're going to need a bunch of people to help you finish it off. And after the big meal, if you can stay awake and are looking for something to do other than watch the big football game, you might try out a Thanksgiving coloring page or two, a Thanksgiving word search puzzle, or even solving a Thanksgiving maze.

Thanksgiving Printables are free to download. They're all available as PDF files, so you'll need a copy of Adobe Reader to print them. In addition, the Thanksgiving greeting cards and invitations can also be downloaded as Word DOC files, so you can customize them with your own tasty greetings.

Download Thanksgiving Printables

Paper Airplanes

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Origami-Kids

One of the time-honored ways to waste time—I mean to show your creativity—is to fold paper airplanes. Whether you're not paying attention in class, not paying attention in a meeting, or hopefully just killing a few hours on a rainy Saturday afternoon, paper planes can fill the bill. Unfortunately, many of us only know one or two designs, and that can get old pretty quick. That's where it's handy to visit a site like Origami-Kids.

Origami-Kids has instructions for folding a whole bunch of different paper airplanes. Choose models that glide slowly or fly fast, or even "vortex" models—paper helicopters! And as with other origami projects, you don't need tape, glue, or scissors to complete any of the projects—just paper and the ability to fold it. And if you get tired of airplanes, they've also got a variety of boats and other paper folding projects to keep you busy and entertained.

Origami-Kids is a free online service. All you need is a web browser and some time on your hands.

Download Origami-Kids

Free Halloween Printables

Monday, October 17th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Halloween Printables

Halloween is almost upon us. This annual Fall festival is fun for young and old alike, as we dress up in fancy (or scary) costumes, bob for apples, and eat too much candy. If you're afraid of a sugar overdose, you're probably looking for other ways to enjoy this holiday.

Halloween Printables is a sugar-free way to celebrate the spookiest season of all. You can choose Halloween greeting cards to pass along your ghostly good wishes, as well as Halloween coloring pages (keep the little ones occupied as you check through their Trick or Treat candy), Halloween maze and word search puzzles, and even some scary signs (Black Cat Crossing!).

Halloween Printables are free to download. They're all available as PDF files, so you'll need a copy of Adobe Reader to print them. In addition, the Halloween greeting cards can also be downloaded as Word DOC files, so you can customize them with your own frightening greetings.

Download Halloween Printables

WAVE – Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of WAVE

If you're charged with the care and feeding of a website, presumably you want to make your visitors' user experience the best it can possibly be. You use good design techniques and test your code to make sure that it behaves the way you want it to, and is totally accessible. As a double check, to make sure everything's behaving itself, you probably run your site past some type of evaluation tool.

WAVE–the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool–is one place you might check out. Rather than just spitting back a complicated and hard-to-read report on what it finds, this tool displays the page you're checking and in that context adds little icons and comments to show you not only what problems it has found, but also where those problems are in your page. Rather than looking at some obscure error or warning message that pertains to Line 603 on your page (Line 603 of what: the header? the footer? the sidebar?), you'll see the little red box telling you that you don't have ALT text associated with a particular image on your blog. Seeing troubles in context will make it much easier to find and fix them in your code. And if you're still building your page, you can also upload individual files, or even paste code into their form and have it checked on the fly.

WAVE is a free service. You'll need a web browser and a page that you want to check, but really nothing else.

Download WAVE

Online bar graph generator

Monday, October 10th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of BARCHART Generator

Sometimes the best way to explain a bunch of data is with a painstakingly complex narrative, interpreting all the rich complexity of your data. Other times, it's better to just draw a picture. That's why they invented charts and graphs.

BARCHART Generator is a tool that will take your complex data and turn it into an easy-to-understand bar graph. It's your data, so you get to define the parameters of your chart: width and height, a name for your chart, labels along both horizontal and vertical axes, colors, and all that. Enter your data as a semicolon-delimited list, press the button, and you get to see your data as a bar chart. Add multiple series of data and fiddle with the options 'til your chart is just right. Then you can download your creation as a PNG image and use it in your report, blog, or wherever else you need that bar graph.

A free service, BARCHART Generator only requires that you have a web browser and some data that you want to represent graphically.

Download BARCHART Generator

Free online service lets you edit SVG graphics files

Friday, September 16th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of SVG-edit

In the world of computer graphics, there are basically two different ways to get a picture on your screen: a bitmap file and a vector file. Bitmap files typically come from places like Photoshop or your digital camera, and in those files are included each and every one of the pixels you're going to look at when the picture is displayed on your monitor. Vector images come from tools like Illustrator, and rather than containing a squished-down version of the image, actually contain the instructions necessary for your computer to draw that picture in real time. Though the bitmaps may be easier to work with, the vector images allow more flexibility, especially when it comes to enlarging and reducing the size of the image: rather than getting all broken up and pixelated, they will still show smooth curves and be generally better looking.

SVG-edit is a free service that lets you edit SVG files, a particular format of vector image file, in your browser. Rather than having to shell out the bucks for Illustrator, or go through the hassle of installing Inkscape, all you need is your browser. You can access most of the functionality of this tool by just pointing your browser at their site; in addition, they have several plugins you can add to Firefox and Opera to let you do even more. And since this service is built on HTML5, you don't even need Flash on your system, which will be helpful to folks who run a certain brand of tablet computer.

SVG-edit is a free online service.

Download SVG-edit

Convert media files

Friday, September 9th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of FileWiggler

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. No matter what you've got, it seems like the thing you haven't got is more appealing. Look out your back door and check out the neighbor's patio furniture, and maybe you'll decide you would like a set like that. Or maybe you actually do like their grass. It just seems to be human nature that we always want something else. On your computer, it could be something as simple as a file in the wrong format.

FileWiggler is a tool that can help you out with that. It is designed to let you convert most audio and video files from one format to another. Got a Flash movie that you need as a QuickTime MOV file? Convert it. Got a WMA that you can only use as an MP3? Convert it. You get the picture. FileWiggler supports many of the common—and even less common—formats, so you can probably turn whatever you've got into whatever you need.

FileWiggler is a free online service. All you need to use it is a web browser and a desire for something you don't have.

Download FileWiggler

Decompress TAR and TAR.GZ files

Monday, September 5th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Decompress TAR

If you've been around computers for any time at all, you're probably familiar with ZIP files. These archive files generally contain a collection of individual files—documents, images, applications, or whatever—all stirred together, and then compressed. They make it easy to move files around, because you've only got one file instead of dozens (or hundreds), and since they're compressed, they generally take up less space than in their original uncompressed form. That means you can pack more of them onto a CD at backup time, or you can upload them faster and easier to share with others. You may not be so familiar with other archive formats, like the TAR file.

TAR—Tape ARchive—files hearken back to the day when stuff was stored on magnetic tape instead of disk drives. When you had a bunch of files to store, you dumped them into a TAR file to keep them all together. Since there's no compression in TAR files, some clever engineer figured out a way to use GZip, a compression tool, in conjunction with TAR, resulting in files that variously carry a TAR or TAR.GZ (or even TGZ) extension. While these files are well-know in the Unix world, you may not be so familiar with them in the World According to Windows. If you get one of these files, you may be ill-prepared to open it up and extract all the digital goodness from it. That's where Decompress Tar comes in handy.

A free service, Decompress Tar lets you upload your TAR archive (compressed or not), and break it out into individual files for you to download. Or if you prefer, you can take those individual files and ZIP them into a more familiar format before you download them. Either way, you take that TAR file you weren't sure what to do with, and turn it into useful stuff. There is a 10 MB limit, so that everybody gets a chance. And your files are removed after 24 hours, so you don't have to worry about leaving your toys laying around.

All you need to be able to use Decompress Tar is a web browser and a funny-named archive file.

Download Decompress Tar

Store and share files

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

runs as Online Serviceruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Cloud Experience

Sharing files and 'round-the-world collaboration is just a fact of life. You may have noticed a huge proliferation of file storing and sharing sites, places where you can stick your backups, save your vacation photos, or push work files out to your colleagues. Many of them give you access via the web. Others, like Dropbox, also supply a desktop app, essentially letting you merge your storage world with the filesystem on your computer. Unfortunately, at least in the case of Dropbox, a free account offers at most a couple of GB of free storage.

Cloud Experience is a file sharing service that gives you access via the web and through desktop applications, but a big difference here is that they also give you 10 GB of storage for free. That's a lot of storage no matter how you slice it. Sync your files between machines, store backups offsite, share files with co-workers, and get at them from anywhere. In fact, along with both Mac (OS X 10.5+) and Windows (XP and greater) clients, they've also got apps that let you access your storage space via your iPhone, Blackberry, and Android device, as well as a web interface for none-of-the-above. When you specify particular people to share files with, they also need to have a CX account (free, by the way) in order to check out those files; but if you want to make your file "world-readable", you get a URL you can email or stick in a blog post that allows anybody to grab your file.

Cloud Experience is free to use. They're looking at adding features down the road in a paid version.

Download Cloud Experience

Crop and resize images online

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

runs as Online Service
screenshot of Pic Resize

It's just one little picture, and all you need to do is resize it. It's not worth firing-up Photoshop (or going out and buying Photoshop) to do this little job. But you can't exactly take out a pair of scissors to trim the edges off that PNG to make it fit better into your blog post. And if what you really need to do is scale it larger or smaller, there's no real-world analog for that task (wash it in really hot water?).

Pic Resize is an online service that lets you tweak your images easily and quickly. Browse through your filesystem to your image and choose it. You can do a quickie resize, or crop the image to fit. Rotate it for good measure if you like. You can even grab multiple images at a time if you're got a bunch of 'em to process. When you're all done, you can save your image as a GIF, JPG, PNG, or BMP and download it or save it to the web. And 20 minutes after your download it, they throw it all away, so you don't need to worry about your stuff just floating around out there in the Cloud.

Pic Resize is a free online service. All you need to use it is a web browser.

Download Pic Resize