Archive for the ‘Linux Productivity’ Category

Character Reference Letters

Monday, April 4th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Character Reference Letters

Character counts. Even though it seems more and more that wealth and power rule the day, when it comes right down to it, a person's character can often be the determining factor in life. While anybody can stand there and assure you that they're a swell person, having somebody else vouch for us is the preferred way to get a read on an individual's character. Often, that means writing a character reference letter.

Character Reference Letters has a couple dozen reference letter templates you can download and use when you're asked to vouch for somebody. Whether you need to write a letter for a professional or a personal situation, you can probably find what you need on this site. They've got letters dealing with employment, childcare, school situations, court proceedings, and more. Download a letter, open it up in a word processor (the downloads are all Word-compatible DOC files), and personalize it to apply to your situation. And for more complicated situations, they've also got several articles and tips on how to write a character reference letter.

Character Reference Letters are available as free downloads.

Download Character Reference Letters

Hardship Letters

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Hardship Letters

Sometimes your life runs smoothly: job is good, kids are healthy, everything hums along. Hopefully you live most of your life in that space. Unfortunately, though, sometimes things just don't work the way you'd like. Whether it's a cut in work hours, unexpected bills, or just not making the best choices in our lives, we can run into trouble. That's a time when a hardship letter may be required.

Typically a hardship letter is going to be addressed to a creditor, asking for some help in working out payments. It may be a bank or credit card company, or it could be a medical provider or even your mortgage holder. While it may be tempting to just hide our heads in the sand and hope that by ignoring a problem that it will go away, generally a better approach is to be open and communicative with creditors, letting them know exactly what's happening, and asking them to work with you to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.

Hardship Letters has over twenty different hardship letter templates you can use. Starting with one of their letters, you can tailor it to your particular situation and hopefully reach some agreement with the bank, lender, or even the IRS that will work out for everyone. They've also got several articles on how to write a hardship letter, and what kinds of things you should be sure to include in your letter.

Hardship Letters are available as free downloads. They're all formatted as Microsoft Word DOC files, so you can open them in most word processors to customize them with your information. And good luck!

Download Hardship Letters

Open source support ticket system

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of osTicket

If you're running a business, hopefully you've got customers. And whether you're selling goods or services, sooner or later somebody's going to need some attention. How you respond to customer service situations can have a big impact on your success, so you want to make sure you don't let any problems fall through the cracks. What you need is a helpdesk solution.

osTicket is a free support ticket system. It's easy to set up, which is great for you, and easy for your customers to access, which is even better. Users can enter info to create help tickets via web, email, or phone, and they'll get a note back letting them know that they're in the system. From your site, you can answer inquires with canned text, or you can send custom messages to grab any additional information you may need, as well as keeping the customer up to date on how their ticket is progressing. Customers don't need to log in to use the system, which may help them with any privacy concerns. On your site, it's easy to assign and transfer tickets, and role-based access keeps your process rolling along and allows for adequate supervision and oversight.

osTicket is a free download. You install it on your server and need to be running at least PHP (ver. 4.3) and MySQL (ver. 4.4).

Download osTicket

Condolence Letters

Friday, March 11th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Condolence Letters

"To every thing there is a season… A time to be born, and a time to die"
—Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

The old joke has it that the only two things certain in life are death and taxes. While that certainly seems to be true, the inevitability of death doesn't make it any easier to bear. When a friend, relative, or business associate suffers a loss, there's really nothing we can do to take away their pain. What we can do, however, is to let them know that we're thinking of them. That's where a letter of condolence comes in.

While it may be easier to just grab a greeting card off the shelf, sending a personal letter of condolence will let the bereaved know that you care and are thinking of them in their time of loss. It's not always easy to know just what to say in that letter, and that's where Condolence Letters comes in.

This site features several different sample letters of condolence that you can use as a starting point for your own personal letter. They have letters for personal situations, as well as letters suitable for the workplace, and even the military. Along with several general condolence letters, they also feature tips on how to write a condolence letter.

Condolence Letters are all available for free. They're downloadable in Microsoft Word DOC format.

Download Condolence Letters

Unlimited file transfer with FilePhile

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of FilePhile

With small files, it's easy to share them with your colleagues by just attaching them to an email. If you're moving bigger files around, you may use a free file-sharing system (or the free portion of a paid system like Dropbox). But all of these come with limits, mostly because at some point in the process your files are living on their servers, taking up their disk space and using their bandwidth. For really really big files, you need another solution.

FilePhile is a service that lets you share files of any size you want, no matter how big. They accomplish this by virtue of the fact that at no point do your files sit on their servers. You install their desktop app on your machine, and make sure that your recipient has installed it on theirs as well, and then just start moving files across the wire. FilePhile is smart enough to keep uploading files after being interrupted by network problems, machines going to sleep, and all that.

FilePhile is a free service. The desktop app is written in Java, so it will run on Linux, Mac, and Windows machines, and the sender and recipient don't even need to be on the same platform to get the job done.

Download FilePhile

Goodbye Letters

Friday, February 25th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Goodbye Letters

It's never easy to say goodbye. Whether we're parting ways with a loved one who will be missed terribly, or getting away from a terrible situation, whether it's personal, work related, or something else, there is no end of raw emotion that comes to the surface when we make that final farewell.

Goodbye Letters is a service that can help make that goodbye a little easier. While they don't know all the particulars in your case, they do have some good ideas about what a goodbye letter ought to look like and what it should include. They've got some tips on writing those letters, and along with that, they've got samples of letters suitable for use in the workplace, at school, and for relationships, as well as several more general goodbye letters. And for the most modern among us, they've even got a goodbye email. No SMS text message is offered though—you've got to try a little harder than that.

Goodbye Letters are all available for free. They're downloadable in Microsoft Word DOC format.

Download Goodbye Letters

Java based web page builder

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Arachnophilia

If you're going to build a website from scratch, or write most any other code, you're going to need a text editor. While you may think that you and Microsoft Word are joined at the hip, using your favorite word processor just won't get you where you need to be in the world of coding. The stuff that makes that Word DOC look all pretty is the same thing that will keep your web page or C++ source file from doing what it needs to do. For that kind of thing, you need to drop the pretty formatting and get straight to the text itself.

Arachnophilia is a web page development tool as well as an editor for general programming use. It's got syntax highlighting, so it's easier to see what's going on in your code, and it's smart enough to know how to deal with HTML as well as PHP, JavaScript, Python, Perl, and all the rest. Various toolbars make it easy to insert HTML elements into your web page, and for those items not included, it also features a robust macro language that lets you define your own shortcuts and helps speed you along on your way to web page nirvana.

Written in Java, Arachnophilia should run on any system that has the appropriate version of the Java runtime. The version targeted for Windows has an installer, but putting it on your Mac or Linux system shouldn't cause you too much trouble.

Download Arachnophilia

Open source productivity suite

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of LibreOffice

While everybody uses email applications and web browsers, probably the most important tool to get real work done on your computer is an office productivity suite. Chatting back and forth is fine, and surfing the web can be interesting, but in terms of generating page after page of important reports, financial documents, and more, you can't beat those productivity tools. Of course the most popular suite of such tools comes from the fine folks at Microsoft. While it's popular, and the file formats are de facto industry standards, these guys certainly don't give it away. Contrast that with the folks who publish LibreOffice.

LibreOffice is a full-featured, cross-platform productivity suite that does most, if not all, of what Office does, but it does it for free. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, graphics program, and even a database tool. It can read and write files using most popular formats, including the newer DOCX and XLSX formats from recent versions of Office, as well as the older DOC and XLS files. It's available in many different languages, and since it's open source, you know that there are no hidden gotcha's down in the code.

You can grab your copy of LibreOffice for free. It's compatible with systems running Linux, Mac OS X (10.4 and later), and Windows (Win 2000 and newer).

Download LibreOffice

Compare and merge files and folders

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of DiffMerge

Comparing files can be a pain in the neck. Sometimes it's obvious where the differences are; but more often than not, the differences are minor and obscure. No matter how small those differences may be, however, when it comes time to compile your new program or finish that important report, those small diffs make all the difference in the world.

DiffMerge is a tool that lets you compare files and directories. Open two files to compare them; differences will be highlighted so you can easily see what's in the first file but not the second, and what's in the second file but not the first. In addition to showing you those differences, you can choose to merge files as well. Now you'll have the best of both worlds—or at least of both files. In addition, you can do folder-to-folder comparisons, to see which files are in duplicated between directories, as well as noting differences between identically-named files.

DiffMerge is a free download. It's available for Linux (Ubuntu 6, Fedora 7), Mac (OS X 10.4+), and Windows (Win 2000 and later) machines.

Download DiffMerge

Distraction free writing

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

runs on Linux
screenshot of PyRoom

Your computer's got a lot going on. You've got email and instant messages coming and going; Twitter and Facebook always want to be updated; streaming video must be watched. How are you supposed to get any work done? Unfortunately, sometimes you don't.

PyRoom can help keep you on task. When you fire it up, everything else on your system goes away. Well, okay, it doesn't really go anywhere, but you can't see it any more, and that's almost as good. By default you'll get a plain old green-on-black display, much as you might see if you were working on a terminal. Type what you need to, uninterrupted by all that other stuff that thinks it wants your attention. You can still work on multiple documents at once, so it's not really like going back to the typewriter (kids, ask your parents). There are no fancy buttons to push, but you can still control all the behind the scenes stuff through the use of keyboard shortcuts.

For right now, PyRoom is available for Linux systems, and there are installers for several of the more popular flavors. The developers also promise a Windows version in the not so distant future.

Download PyRoom