Archive for the ‘Windows Internet’ Category

Cross platform bookmark service

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Xmarks

If you spend any time on the Web—and who doesn't?—it takes no time at all to build up quite a list of sites you want to visit again. Assuming you aren't just scribbling URLs down on a legal pad, you're going to want to bookmark those sites and the important pages on them. But if you bookmark them in Firefox, that doesn't do you any good on Chrome. Or if you bookmark them at home, that's no help at work. And online bookmark services like Delicious require that you log in to use them.

Xmarks looks like it may help you to overcome all these obstacles. You download it to your computer, but it then integrates with your browser—currently Firefox, Chrome, IE, and Safari (Mac)—to let you create bookmarks with any browser on any machine and share them with yourself on any other machine. You can create sync profiles, so that maybe your work bookmarks can be shared with your personal machine, but not vice versa. In addition, it also keeps a backup of all those bookmarks, just in case.

Xmarks is a free service. You just need to be running one of the supported browsers on Linux, Mac (OS X), or Windows (XP and later).

Download Xmarks

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

Check to see if your website is still up

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of http-ping

If you're responsible for the care and feeding of a website or three, then you know that your two main priorities are creating the site and then making sure that it's accessible to the big wide world out there. If you've only got a single site, you could probably just wander by a couple times a day to make sure that things are happening, but if you've got multiple sites—or you have other responsibilities than just browsing the Web all day—then you could probably use some help.

http-ping is a tool that can help you make sure your sites are up and running. As the name might imply, it's kind of like "pinging" your site, but rather than looking for just the terse ICMP response you'd get from a ping, you'll get the HTTP status code that the server returns for your page, as well as the number of bytes in the response and the round-trip time for your request to get a response. What that all means is that you'll know that your site—or at least the page you pinged—is alive and well and you can get on with your day. And since http-ping is a command-line tool, you can integrate it into scripts and batch files to automate your checking.

http-ping is a Windows app. You can use it on systems running WinXP and later.

Download http-ping

Be two people at once with Multifox

Friday, June 24th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Multifox

Life is a complicated proposition, and your online life is no exception. You probably have several different email addresses you use, and lots of different logins for various sites you frequent. But if you have a couple of different Gmail accounts, for example, typically you have to log out of one before you can log in to another. Sometimes it might be helpful to be able to log into both accounts at the same time.

Multifox is a Firefox add-on that allows you to assume multiple identities at once. Instead of having to log out to change from one Gmail account to another, for example, all you need to do is tell Multifox to add a New Identify Profile and you're off to the races. This tool keeps separate login information, lists of open tabs and windows, and individual sets of sets of cookies for each profile. You can open a window from the menu as a new profile or right-click on a link and follow that link as that other identity.

Multifox is available for both versions 3.6 and 4.0 of the Firefox web browser.

Download Multifox

See all your browser windows at once

Monday, February 28th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Slickscreen

Do you ever have to do two things at once? Of course you do! When you're juggling tasks on your computer, things can get mighty complicated on the screen, with windows here and tabs there. Rearranging things to get all the stuff you need to see visible all at once can be a major challenge, as well as a big time drain.

Slickscreen is a tool you can use to help you manage your web browser better. Once you install it, fire up your web browser and put it to work. It comes with 6 pre-defined layouts that lets you position your browser windows for maximum visibility and no overlap. Now you can see all the web pages you're looking at all at once, and without having to fight with resizing browser windows. You've got that big display, and now you'll finally be able to put it to good use. And it's compatible with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and more.

You can run Slickscreen under Windows XP and later. It's free for personal and educational use, although if you want to use it at work, you're going to need to spring a few bucks for a license.

Download Slickscreen

Browse websites while offline

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Fresh WebSuction

With all the innovations in Wi-Fi and 4G, it's almost possible to be online all the time. No longer tethered to the world by a network cable or modem cord (kids, ask your parents), the world is your oyster. Unless you're on a plane. Or out in the middle of nowhere. Where's your Internet now? Hopefully, you remembered to bring it with you—or at least those pieces you're interested in.

Fresh WebSuction is a tool you can use to grab your own little piece of the 'Net. Choose a site you're interested and turn this guy loose, and it will download the pages along with the supporting assets (images, etc.) so that you can browse through that site, even when the nearest connection is miles away. And because it's capable of downloading dozens of files concurrently, you'll get your files faster, or if you need to limit your connection time, you'll be offline quicker as well.

You can grab a copy of Fresh WebSuction for free for your Windows system. They do require that you register, but there's no obligation beyond that.

Download Fresh WebSuction

Blogging platform with no database required

Friday, September 24th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of FlatPress

You've got a blog, I've got a blog—heck, your cat's probably got a blog. For the ultimate in ease and simplicity, all you need to do is grab a spot on one of the free hosted services and start writing. Of course, the ease of starting up there is offset by the lack of control you have over the look and feel, to say nothing of the functionality of that canned blog. You can always to to the other extreme and install WordPress on your own server. With that, you get flexibility, but you also have to do some of the heavy lifting, especially when it comes to getting all the technical pieces to work and play well together.

FlatPress splits the difference between these two extremes. You host it on your own server, or with your ISP, or whatever your arrangement is. What you don't need to worry about, however, is access to MySQL or some other high-powered database back-end. That's because FlatPress doesn't use a database; it stores all its data in "flat files"—plain old text files that don't require a database engine to use them. Presumably if you're making a zillion posts a day, at some point you're going to take a performance hit for this, but if you're blogging a normal human amount—or a normal kitty amount—you're probably going to be okay.

Since it's an open-source project, you can grab a copy of FlatPress for free. The machine you install it on will need to be running a web server (Apache is great) and have PHP installed as well.

Download FlatPress

Secure Browser has your back on the Web

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Secure Browser

If you're out running around in the "real world," you can tell when you're getting into a more dicey neighborhood. Whether it's the look of the people, the appearance of the buildings, or just the incessant wailing of the police sirens, it can become pretty obvious that you may want to take some extra precautions. The saying goes that on the Internet nobody knows you're a dog. By the same token, on the Web you may not know that you just stumbled into an unsavory neighborhood.

Secure Browser is, as its name might suggest, a secure browser. What that means is that with this tool you're really playing in a sandbox: no matter what bad things you might run across online, not to worry, because everything is walled-off from the rest of your system. Nasty scripts and bad downloads aren't going to mess you up. You can explicitly whitelist or blacklist sites to allow or deny access. And even if you do run into a problem, it's easy to back out of it and reset things on your machine to their original state. So now if you decide to live dangerously and click on one of those Google "visiting this site just might seriously mess up your life" links, you may stand a chance of getting out alive (your mileage may vary—please think carefully before you do that).

Built on top of a Windows version of Firefox 3.6, it comes complete with Adobe Reader and Flash plug-ins. That means you should be able to use it on any system that supports that browser.

Download Secure Browser

GreatNews newsreader

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of GreatNews

Unless you have unlimited time and resources on your hands, you're probably familiar with newsfeeds. There just aren't enough hours in the day to visit all the sites you're interested in, so you've subscribed to a bunch of feeds to bring that information to you. Everybody's got their favorite newsreader, the tool that lets you keep an eye on all those feeds. Here's another one you might want to take a look at.

GreatNews calls itself "the intelligent RSS reader." The intelligence seems to be in the myriad ways it lets arrange and rearrange your feeds and keep an eye on what's happening in the world. You can choose a layout as simple as a list to catch headlines to one as complicated as a newspaper page, displaying whole articles in fullscreen mode. Organize items with labels, or create filters to highlight new items that are particularly of interest to you. It robustly supports import and export of subscriptions, so it won't take you days to configure it to monitor all your current subscriptions.

GreatNews is available with a full-on installer, as well as a ZIP version that gives you only the most important bits, suitable for installation of a USB thumb drive. It's a Windows application and should be right at home on your Win2k (or later) system.

Download GreatNews

Record streaming audio and video

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Ask and Record Toolbar

Seems lately that you can't go through a day without somebody calling your attention to some clip on YouTube or another video sharing site. Watching it once is okay, but if you decide you want to look at it again, you're stuck with having to download (stream) it all over again. It might just be quicker to save it locally and watch that copy instead.

Ask and Record Toolbar can help you with that. Hit the magic button and tell it to save your video, and it will keep a copy on your local drive. Now you can replay it as often as you like, including while you're offline. And while you're in the neighborhood, what about audio? Well, as luck would have it, you can also record streaming audio with this tool. Same drill: just listen and record, then play it back at your leisure. There's also a built-in tool to convert your new video and audio files into different formats. And there's built-in search engine goodies too—the "Ask" in the name is the folks at Ask.com, the other other search engine.

The Ask and Record Toolbar is a Windows application. It runs on systems under Windows 2000 and later. And remember, kids, play nice and don't use this to do bad things with copyrighted content. But you knew that, right?

Download Ask and Record Toolbar