Archive for the ‘Windows Productivity’ Category

Server-based To Do List

Monday, October 24th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of myTinyTodo

Life is complicated, to be sure. Keeping track of what you've got to do can be quite a job, and if you're collaborating with others, that complexity can grow exponentially. Setting up complex collaboration tools can take a lot of time and effort, to say nothing of expense, making you wonder if it's all worth it.

myTinyTodo is a tool you can use to share scheduling information. You set it up on your web server and hook it to a database back end, and you're off to the races. You can enter and edit tasks, add notes and tags, and even assign due dates and priorities to them. And since you can keep track of multiple to-do lists, each project can have its own list to work with. Add passwords to keep your data secure and you can get going. Now everybody's reading off the same page, and that's got to help make everybody more productive.

myTinyTodo is a free download. Your server needs to be running PHP 5.2+ and either MySQL or SQLite.

Download myTinyTodo

Keep Track of Stuff People Have Borrowed

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of yLend

Unless you're a total troll, you do have occasion to interact with other people. While some relationships are totally functional—you have to talk with the IT guy if you want your machine to connect with the network—there are others that go beyond that into the personal realm. Once you take it into friendship, you know that there's going to be lending and borrowing of stuff. You just read that new novel and can't help but talk about it with your friends. Or maybe you just grabbed the latest DVD release. No matter what it is, somebody's going to want to borrow it. But whether it's a book or our hedge clippers, you probably want to get it back—or at least remember where they've gone the next time you want to work in the garden.

yLend is a tool that makes it easy to keep track of who you've lent your stuff to. When you decide to trust your buddy with that book or disc, it's easy to enter the date, name, and item name. Add notes to help you remember exactly which things you've lent, and you've got a permanent record of your generosity. When they return your item, just go in and delete the record. Pretty simple

yLend is a Windows application and runs on both 32- and 64-bit systems.

Download yLend

Lock Your Keyboard and Mouse

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Kid-Key-Lock

If you've got a computer that you don't have to share with your kids, then you may not be interested in Kid-Key-Lock. After all, you don't have to worry about them trashing that important report you're working on for the office, or killing your budget spreadsheet. If that's not you, however, read on.

Kid-Key-Lock is a tool that lets you configure how your mouse and keyboard behave. Choose to activate, or deactivate, the left, right, and center mouse button, as well as the scroll wheel and even the ability to double click. You can lock down "regular" keys (alphanumeric and symbols) as well as additional keys (function keys, arrows, Home, End), as well as even various shortcut keys (Windows key combinations, [Alt]+[Tab], and the like). Your little Picasso can draw away without putting the rest of your life at risk. Since it lives in the System Tray, it's easy to bring up Kid-Key-Lock to tweak your settings.

Kid-Key-Lock is a free download. It's a Windows app and should be right at home on systems running WinNT/2000 or later.

Download Kid-Key-Lock

Address Book Tool

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Addressido

Back in the day, if you were trying to keep track of contact information for friends and family at home, you probably had some fancy address book where you wrote all that info down. Everything was fine until Cousin George moved and you had to go back and scribble some edits into his address. At work, you had a Rolodex and just kept sticking new cards into it. Neither of these was a very good solution, and they certainly weren't too portable. Fast forward to today.

Addressido is the electronic equivalent of the address book and Rolodex all in one. It's easy to add, edit, and remove entries, and you'll never have to worry about messy scratch-outs when you change an address. All your records will also be in order, rather than having the last entry always be at the bottom of the list. Organize your contact info into categories and add notes to keep track of what you've said to whom and when. In addition, Addressido fits easily on a USB thumb drive, so you can always carry your information with you.

Addressido is a free Windows application.

Download Addressido

OpenWith Enhanced

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of OpenWith Enhanced

In the World of Windows, most files of a particular type have an application that's associated with them. If you want to open a particular DOC document in Word, you can fire up Microsoft Office, browse to where your document lives, choose it, and you're off to the races. Or you can find the file in Windows Explorer, double-click on it, and automagically Word starts up and loads your DOC.

Other times, things may not be quite so clear-cut. Say you've got a CSV file–a text file with comma-separated values–that was created in Excel. If you double click on that file, will it open in Excel, or will it open in Notepad or some other text editor? That's where the Open With option in the right click "context" menu comes in. Windows lets you dig through a list of apps to decide which one you want to use to open your file. Even then, though, it's generally a fairly limited list.

OpenWith Enhanced is a tool that lets you open files the way you really want to. Sure, you can pick the application you want to use, but what if you're not sure which app really belongs to that file? Instead of just giving you a suggested list of apps that already live on your system, OpenWith Enhanced also relies on a database of what other users have successfully opened that type of file with in the past. And as an added bonus, if you don't currently have a particular application installed on your machine, choosing it will take you online to a place where you can obtain that missing app.

A free download, OpenWith Enhanced is a Windows app and runs under both 32- and 64-bit versions.

Download OpenWith Enhanced

Classic Shell brings back missing features

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Classic Shell

Just because something's new doesn't necessarily mean it's better. While typically a new version of Windows has all kinds of cool new bells and whistles, sometimes that comes at the cost of losing some other feature that you personally rely on. Since you're not going to prevail against Redmond in asking them to re-introduce that missing functionality, you're typically left to fend for yourself. Or, if you're lucky, some third party will step into the breach and pick up the slack.

Classic Shell attempts to bring back many of the features you used in XP and earlier versions that were unceremoniously dropped with Vista and Windows 7. Included features include a classic Start Menu that supports drag-and-drop to organize applications, right-click context menus to help you delete, rename, and sort files. A Windows Explorer plugin that lets you get rid of breadcrumbs in the address bar, adds sorting headers in list view, and more. By the time you're done, you'll have all the speed and power of the newer O/S, but with the familiar look and feel of that older version you maybe reluctantly gave up.

Classic Shell is a Windows application. You'll need to be running Vista or 7 to use it.

Download Classic Shell

Virtual desktops for Windows

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Desktops

Sometimes things work best when everything is all in a big pile. Other times, you need to organize your stuff into smaller groups. Whether you're building a patio or working on your computer, you know you'll be more efficient when you're properly organized.

In Windows, you've got one desktop to work with. If you're involved in a fairly complex project, or juggling several jobs at once, it's easy for all the applications, windows, documents, and such to get out of control. In the Linux world, solutions involving virtual desktops—multiple screens each holding just some but not all of what you're working on at a given time—can be a big help. While researching your report, for example, you can have your word processor open in one desktop, with a web browser open in another, along with maybe a spreadsheet and an image editor in a couple more. That way, you can actually see what you're doing, and maybe—just maybe—you'll get something useful done.

Desktops is an application that brings multiple desktops to your Windows system. When you open your email client in Desktop 1, for example, switching to Desktop 2 will make it disappear and bring up your web browser or whatever applications you've got configured to run in that window. With less clutter in the way, you might just become more efficient, finish that important project, impress the boss, and receive a swell promotion. Or at least maybe you'll be able to go home on time today.

Desktops is a Windows application, and runs under XP and later.

Download Desktops

WYSIWYG ebook editor

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Sigil

It used to be that if you had a used paperback or two, you were all set for a trip to the beach or maybe a quiet evening in front of the fireplace. But that's so old school; now everybody's got an ebook reader. With that reader, you need something to read. You can buy ebooks, or you can download them for free at places like Project Gutenberg. Or maybe you can "roll your own", whether it's for your own use, or because you've written the next great American novel and want to share it. Either way, it might be handy to be able to create your own ebook.

Sigil is a WYSIWYG editor that lets you create and format EPUB documents for ebooks. Starting with a plain text file, or some other version of your publication, Sigil lets you format your document so that it looks just right for your readers. Add images, insert page and chapter breaks, create a table of contents, format text, and more. Now you can be the author and publisher all at the same time.

Sigil runs under Linux, Mac (Intel only), and Windows.

Download Sigil

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

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