Archive for the ‘Windows Productivity’ Category

Windows application launcher

Monday, September 19th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Executor

You've got a whole pile of applications on your machine. While they're all pretty important (why else would you have them?), some are more important than others. Yet every time you need to use this tool or that, you have to sift through all those not-so-important programs as well before you get to the icon to launch the app you're really looking for.

Executor is an application launcher that might just help you bring that mess under control. Grab your most important apps, so it'll always be easy to find them when you need them. In addition, it can serve as a souped-up version of the Windows Run command—giving you a textbox into which you can enter commands or keywords that will trigger apps. You might type "photo" to start Photoshop, or "google" to launch your browser and load your favorite search engine.

A free download, Executor is a Windows application.

Download Executor

Browse Mac filesystems with your Windows machine

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of HFSExplorer

If your organization uses machines all running Windows or Mac systems, it's pretty easy to work together. Once you start mixing platforms, though, things can get more interesting. Mac users can use Finder to browse Windows volumes without any real problems, but for the Windows user looking at a Mac-formatted drive, it may not be so smooth.

HFSExplorer is designed specifically to let Windows users dig around in Mac filesystems. It has a GUI, so it doesn't look all that different from Windows Explorer. It works with the older HFS, HFS+ extended, and even HFSX with case sensitive filenames. Mount that networked Mac volume, or even your HFS+ formatted iPod. It also lets you get into Mac formatted .DMG disk image files.

HFSExplorer is primarily a Windows program, although since it is written in Java you could use it on your Mac or Linux machine if necessary.

Download HFSExplorer

Organize files and folders with Folder Axe

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Folder Axe

How much stuff can you keep track of at one time? Personally, once I run out of fingers and toes, things can get kind of dicey. But if you've got a folder on your computer that has dozens or hundreds or more files in it, how do you propose to figure out what you've really got? One way to organize things is to take big piles and break them down into little piles. But where do you start?

Folder Axe, in spite of its rather brutal-sounding name, is a helpful tool that can help you get organized when you're feeling overwhelmed. You can choose to have your files divided up by the numbers—break them down into ten directories, for example—as well as by file size (give me a bunch of 250 MB folders, if you please), or based on their names, file types and extensions. or dates. If you like, it can also then ZIP those files up into archives and add 256-bit encryption as well. You'll get so organized, you may be tempted to go back and just create more files.

Folder Axe is a Windows application. It runs under WinXP and later, and requires version 4 of the .NET Framework.

Download Folder Axe

Speed up the file copying process

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Copy Handler

If you've got a few files here and want to put copies of them other there, you can issue the "copy" command in a DOS box, or drag-and-drop files in Windows Explorer. If you're dealing with more than a few files, or if you have folders full of some files you want to copy and some that you don't, then your life can get more complicated. That's where a tool like Copy Handler can come in handy.

Copy Handler is a WYSIWYG tool that helps you copy or move files more quickly and efficiently. Specify the files you want to copy by extension, size, date, or file attributes. Set the priority of your copy session, so that your work doesn't come to a screeching halt as you wait for the files to be copied. You can even specify multiple copies for your destination if you like.

Copy Handler is an open source Windows application, and a free download.

Download Copy Handler

Classroom seating chart maker

Monday, September 12th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Seating Chart Maker

Teaching is an interesting undertaking. On one hand, as a teacher you have the opportunity to mold the minds of the next generation and get them off on the right foot. On the other hand, you're also janitor, social worker, and traffic cop for all the kids in your class. Lesson plans are important, but so are seating charts. You probably got into teaching for the academics, so maybe you could use a tool that helps take some of the administrative overhead off your shoulders.

Seating Chart Maker is an application that can help you get all your students where they belong. Whether it's a child with vision issues who needs to be in the front of the class, or those two kids who just cannot be allowed to sit next to each other—too much talking or too much fighting—this tool can help you spend less time figuring out the classroom logistics and more time teaching your students what they need to know. And isn't that really why you teach?

Written by the spouse of a teacher, Seating Chart Maker runs under Windows and is a free download.

Download Seating Chart Maker

Industrial-strength find and replace

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of TexFinderX

Back in ancient times when typewriters roamed the earth, making changes to documents was a major undertaking. Your best bet if you needed to change "foo" to "bar" in a document was to re-type the page where the change needed to be made. Using correction fluid or erasers never really worked, and trying to line the text up after you had rolled the paper off the platen was next to impossible. And then there's the whole problem with trying to find all occurrences of your text in a document, whether it be a single page, or a multi-page tome.

TexFinderX is one response to this problem. Rather than being dependent on a particular application to do the find-and-replace for its own documents (e.g. Microsoft Word and a directory full of DOC files), with this app you can throw a whole directory at it and let it find—and replace—all instances of your target word or phrase. Piles of files with word processing documents, plain text files, and even source code for web pages and more are no problem.

You can download a copy of TexFinderX for free. It's available for both Mac (OS X) and Windows (XP and later).

Download TexFinderX

Listen to your computer

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of DeskBot

Sometimes it's nice to sit down with a newspaper. Other times you'd rather listen to the news on the radio. It's more-or-less the same content, but there are different circumstances where the written word or the spoken word is more useful to you. As a general rule, when it comes to computers, you're going to get more written than spoken. If you'd like to reverse that, check out DeskBot.

DeskBot is a tool that takes a lot of what you do with your computer and makes it available for you to listen to instead of reading. You can select text in any running application and have it read to you. Or if you've got text on the clipboard, you can listen to it instead of having to look at it. It can even announce the time of day if you'd like to be reminded of how your day is progressing. It automatically adds a choice to Internet Explorer's context menu that lets you right-click on a web page to have it read to you. You can run this app when you need it, or you can set it so that it starts automatically when you boot your machine, making it always ready and available to you.

A free download, DeskBot is a Windows application. It runs under Win98 / NT and later.

Download DeskBot

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

Task automation app

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Task Till Dawn

With all the games, music, and video clips you deal with each day, it might seem that your computer is a toy. For many of us, though, this piece of high tech wizardry is really a tool, and you use tools to get work done. Some work—typing reports, setting up spreadsheets—has to be done hands-on. But there is some stuff that you can actually leave up to the machine to take care of business. Things like backing up data and compiling programs don't really require that you interact with the computer at all, with the possible exception of getting things started. For tasks like that, check out Task Till Dawn.

With Task Till Dawn you can let your machine do the deed. Choose an app and a time and you can automatically run a backup, download a podcast, defragment your hard drive, or just about anything else that doesn't require hands-on attention from you. Once your job has been run, it can notify you via Growl (on Mac) or in the System Tray (Windows).

A free download, Task Till Dawn is written in Java, so it should run just about anywhere. And to help you out, they've got a couple of pre-compiled versions for Mac (Intel only) and Windows, with the promise of a Linux version coming soon.

Download Task Till Dawn

Track your hours with Kapow punch clock application

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Kapow

How busy are you? You know that you're pushing yourself to get as much done in as little time as possible. But how much time is that? If you're working by the hour, or if you're on a tight deadline, there are important numbers here to keep track of. And if you're splitting your time between multiple projects, it's even more important to know how much time you're allocating to each project.

Kapow is a punch clock tool to let you keep track of how you're spending your time. Click the Start button, do your work, and click the Stop button, and your time's all recorded. Forgot to clock out when you took a break, or didn't clock in until you'd already been at your desk for half an hour? Just go back and edit your numbers and you're back in business. Along with tracking individual sessions, Kapow also tracks total cumulative time, so you can see how much time you're spent in total on this project, as well as how long you've worked since the last time you billed your client.

Kapow is a cross-platform app. It's available for Linux (several packages are available for popular distros), Mac (OS X 10.4 "Tiger" or better), as well as Windows XP and later.

Download Kapow