Archive for the ‘MacOS Entertainment’ Category

Flesh out your family tree with Personal Ancestry Writer II

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of Personal Ancestry Writer II

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Does this apply to our personal history as well? In other words, will we each become our parents? That may be good—or bad—but either way, it's a good idea to know where we come from on a personal level. Thus is born the study of genealogy.

Once upon a time it may have been easy enough to keep track of who's related to whom, but any more with nuclear families, blended families, multigenerational families, adoptions, in-laws, out-laws, and every other possible combination, it can be challenging to try to keep track of it all on a legal pad or two. This is a place where software comes in handy, with its ability to do all the heavy lifting without getting a headache in the process.

Personal Ancestry Writer II (PAWriter II) is a tool that deserves some attention. It has a fairly straightforward editing interface, so entering family members is pretty easy. You can work your way up- or down the various lines, or you can jump to a specific individual. It's smart enough to deal with people who are related in multiple ways (e.g. brothers married sisters). It can spit out several reports, so you can get the "big picture" on where you came from as well.

PAWriter II is a free Mac application. It runs under OS X, as well as OS9.

Download Personal Ancestry Writer II

Free Tooth Fairy Letters and Coloring Pages

Friday, September 4th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Tooth Fairy Letter

Do you remember when you lost your first tooth? Do you remember when you still had teeth? Either way, even though it was a little frightening—am I falling apart here?—there was consolation in knowing that evening a visitor would come by and convert your tooth to cash or some other little goodie. The Tooth Fairy was an idea that was almost too good for words.

Times have changed. Even though the amount she (he?) leaves has changed from a dime or quarter to five or ten bucks, the excitement is still there. And did you know that she's added another item to her bag of tricks? It turns out the Tooth Fairy can also leave a letter on her visits as well. If you're in charge of helping the Tooth Fairy out at your house, take a look at the offerings at Tooth Fairy Letter. They've got a dozen different letters from the Tooth Fairy to the little ones. There are general letters, notes specific to a boy or girl, and even letters for when the tooth is missing—can you imagine the heartbreak of the kid swallowing a tooth, leaving nothing to tuck under the pillow? In addition, they've also got a bunch of Tooth Fairy-themed coloring pages to keep the little ones entertained. And they feature a couple of pages of information about Tooth Fairy Family Traditions, as well as Tooth Fairy tips for parents.

Tooth Fairy Letters are available to download as free PDF files, or for a couple of bucks you can grab DOC versions formatted for Word, so you can personalize them. And don't forget to floss.

Download Tooth Fairy Letter

Free (Play) Money!

Friday, July 17th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Printable Play Money

Back in the day, Monopoly was my favorite board game. While it was always gratifying to get to choose the Scotty dog as a playing piece, and I always loved charging rent for Boardwalk (not so excited about paying it when I didn't own the property, however), probably the most exciting part was getting that pile of money to start with. All you had to do was to sit down at the table and you got a free $1500, by far the easiest money anybody ever made. Of course, you couldn't do much with that money, because it wasn't real, other than to the other players in the game. Nevertheless, play money can be oddly satisfying in its own way.

Printable Play Money lets you print all the money you could ever possibly need. Like the Monopoly money, you can't really spend it anywhere, but then maybe that's just a way to encourage saving, right? Use your play money to help teach kids how to work with money—count it, make change, that sort of thing. Or print a bunch of it and roll around on the floor in it, pretending you're Scrooge McDuck. Use it to light your cigars, proving to the world that you've literally got money to burn. (Don't really do that—fire's not safe, and goodness knows what type of nasty chemicals are in your printer's ink.)

Printable Play Money is free to download and print. You'll need a copy of the free Adobe Reader application to print out your fortune.

Download Printable Play Money

Calculate the tempo of your songs with BPM Analyzer

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of BPM Analyzer

Whether you like up-tempo music or prefer the slower stuff, you need to know how many beats per minute that new–or old–song has. Want to build a playlist of fast stuff? iTunes and other digital music players will let you keep track of the tempo of your various songs, but at some point you have to sit down and figure out just what exactly that number is for each of your tracks. Can you imagine hanging out with a stopwatch for hours–or days–counting beats? Neither can I.

BPM Analyzer by MixMeister can give you a hand with this daunting task. Just fire it up, open your audio files, or just drag-and-drop them onto this app, and you'll generate accurate listings of the number of beats per minute of your collection. You can update the ID3 tags in your music files directly from the tool, so there's no need for tedious and error-prone transcribing of this data. You can also generate reports and export this data to any other apps that can make use of it.

BPM Analyzer is free for non-commercial use. It's available for both Windows and Mac systems.

Download BPM Analyzer

Free Printable Bookmarks

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Printable Bookmarks

Way back when, we all used to read books. That was before the rise of the World Wide Web, e-Books, and Kindle. You're reading along, but eventually came to the point where you needed to put that book down—maybe it was time for school, or dinner, or maybe it was lights-out and off to sleep. How do you keep track of where you were reading? You could always lay the book down face-first on a table, but that could crack the book's spine. Go ahead and dog-ear a page, but eventually all the pages will be dog-eared and that won't be much of a help. So they invented this neat technology called a bookmark. It's kind of like a PostIt, but without the adhesive.

If you actually read books still, maybe you'd like a nifty bookmark to go with it. Check out the selection offered by Free Printable Bookmarks. They've got a couple dozen different designs to choose from. Just grab one you like from such categories as Adventure Bookmarks, Mystery Bookmarks, Christian Bookmarks, and more. Each bookmark is available as a PDF file. All you need to do is download it, print it out, trim it to size, and let the reading begin.

The bookmarks at Printable Bookmarks are all available to download for free.

Download Printable Bookmarks

Printable Birth Announcements

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Printable Birth Announcements

Are you, or someone you know, expecting? Even though it feels like the pregnancy is going to last forever, the Blessed Event will be here before you know it. You're going to want to let everybody know about it: date, time, weight, and length—all the vital statistics. And the last thing you want to do after coming home with your new Bundle of Joy is to head off to the stationery store. So maybe you want to think about birth announcements that you can print yourself? That's probably a much better solution.

Printable Birth Announcements has over twenty different designs to choose from. They've got announcements for boys and for girls; announcements with room for photos and footprints; they've even got announcements for adoptions. And the best part, aside from the whole not-having-to-go-out-shopping thing is that they're available for free. Just pick the one, or ones, you like, download them, and print them out with your copy of Adobe Reader. Or if you want to customize your announcements, for a couple bucks you can grab Microsoft Word DOC-compatible versions that you can personalize.

Either way, congratulations on the new addition. And don't forget to start saving for college!

Download Printable Birth Announcements

aTunes Java-powered audio player

Friday, June 19th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of aTunes

Way back when, music used to come on things called "records." Those gave way to the audio cassette, which in turn was replaced by the compact disc. Lately, one of the biggest ways that music is distributed is via digital files—the MP3 and all of its cousins. Since these guys work with your computer, your smart phone, and a bunch of other platforms, they're quite handy to have. Of course, in order to listen to them, you do need the appropriate application. The phonograph played records; the tape deck played tapes, but your computer handles myriad other tasks, as well as taking care of your need for a soundtrack for your life. Luckily, it's not that hard to find that app.

aTunes is a digital audio player, similar in design and intent to iTunes, WinAmp, and all the others. One big difference here is that aTunes is written in Java. That means it'll run on any machine that handles Java—just try running iTunes on your Linux box and you'll see why this is important. You can listen to all the file formats you'd expect, and maybe even some you didn't. Use it to organize your music collection, and even rip tunes from your CDs so you can bring them along.

aTunes is a free download. It should run on any machine with a current Java runtime installed.

Download aTunes

Bonus: Free Father’s Day Printables

Monday, June 15th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Father's Day Printables

While it may not be the biggest holiday on the calendar, who can deny that Dear Old Dad deserves his own day? Whether he sat up with you all night when you were sick, checked for monsters under the bed, taught you how to throw a ball, or helped you struggle through algebra, he's a heck of a guy. Help make his big day more special with some free printables.

Wish the old man the very best with a printable Father's Day greeting card or two. Add a special Father's Day gift tag to the goodies you've got in store for him. One of those gifts could be a special picture you've colored just for him—your own original work of art—that's sure to be posted prominently on the refrigerator. And you can always award him a World's Best Dad certificate.

All of us here at wish your dad—and all the dads—the best Father's Day yet.

Rip and convert audio with Max for your Macs

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

runs on Mac
screenshot of Max

There are lots of ways to rip your CDs to audio files. iTunes will give you a quick-and-dirty copy of your favorite tunes, but that doesn't give you much flexibility. MP3s are pretty easy, but it can get tricky to try to go beyond that.

Max is a tool that lets you grab audio content and save it in high-quality files. It supports most popular audio formats, and lets you easily convert files between formats. To maximize speed, you can choose a no-error-correction mode for ripping cuts from a new CD, or you can slow the process down and filter-out any noise you may be picking up from older disks. It's even integrated with MusicBrainz, so you can automatically grab performer and track information as well.

Max is a Mac application. It requires OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or later.

Download Max

Name that tune with Tunatic

Friday, May 8th, 2009

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Tunatic

We're all familiar with the game "Name That Tune". Given a ridiculously short snippet of music, contestants try to win fame and fortune by correctly identifying a song—"I can name that tune in two notes, Tom!" Or if they come up short, they're sent home with some lovely parting gifts.

In the game show, if you didn't correctly name the song, at least they would reveal the right answer for you eventually. Today, though, if you hear a song on the radio, or even on the Internet, you might not be so lucky. That's a great tune, but nobody's there to tell you what it is, or who's performing it. Maybe you should ask Tunatic.

Tunatic comprises two pieces: a client app you install on your local machine, and a server that it talks to. Use a microphone to grab a sample of what you're listening to and Tunatic will do its best to tell you everything it knows about that song. It only works with recorded music, so you can't play the song back on your kazoo, and of course it only knows tunes that are in its database. So the next time your toes start tapping, give Tunatic a try.

Tunatic is a free download. It's available for both Mac (OS X 10.2 and later) and Windows (Win2k+).

Download Tunatic