Saturday, April 30, 2005

Want .wavs? Sound bytes from movies, TV shows and cartoons.

Use them as ringtones for your cell phone. Customize your computer sounds. Send them to your friends in an email or instant messenger. Listen to them to see if you want to buy the movie. Use them on your answering machine. Share them with your co-workers to pass the time. Use them on your radio station. I don't know there's got to be other uses. Smoke 'em... No you can't smoke them. I don't know, you figure it out. And the best part is all the sounds are free!

Play the longevity game

Welcome to the Longevity Game! See how your lifestyle can affect you in the years to come by answering just 12 quick questions. Your expected age will show in the tabulator in the upper left corner. Keep in mind your answers may increase, decrease, or have no affect on your expected age.

Friday, April 29, 2005


Finding the best search results on the Internet is a task made easier by using multiple search engines. I don’t know what you personally like to use, but I default to Google and Yahoo! for my searching needs. Google always comes first, but if it doesn’t give me exactly what I’m looking for, I’ll give the query a spin in the search engine that yodels. You can obviously open up two browser windows or tabs to use both at the same time, but a site called YaGoohoo!gle gives you a side by side result comparison.

Food Storage Label Maker> FREE

Food Storage Label Maker (FSLM) is a program designed to assist in keeping track of your food storage inventory. Anyone who stores food knows that the hardest thing about food storage is how to keep track of your inventory and an item's rotation.

EZBack-it-up v2.0.1 FREE

EZBack-it-up is a personal file backup utility. It is designed to be very easy to learn and use. It is not an archival tool that compresses all your files and folders into one file, but instead, it copies your data to a destination of your choice where you can readily access your backed up files any time you need. All directory structure is preserved and you can optionally choose to delete files from the target that are not in the source. EZBack-it-up includes a built-in scheduler, command-line switches, logging functionality, and more.


Keep track of the time around the worldQlock helps you see the time in as many different cities as you can fit on the screen. There are five different sizes of clock and each one can have an alarm. They also diplay the hours different from the local time. You can colour code the clocks and they snap onto each other so it is easy to arrange them onscreen.

If a particular city in not included in the list of 500 available, you can add you own and include details of daylight saving changes that apply to it.

Qlock is also completely free so there is no reason not to give it a try.

Cobian Backup v6.1.1.264 (FREE)

Don't get your back up about backing up. Cobian Backup handles the most tedious parts of this chore without taking away your options. Let this utility to back up files and directories automatically on the schedule you choose--without losing the ability to back files up manually. You can keep everyone else up to date on recent changes by backing up not only to your own PC and others on its network, but to your FTP server. Integrated .zip compression abilities let you make backups that consume less space as well as less time.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Space Oddity (Music and Video)

David Bowie wrote a number of songs during the late 1960's and early 1970's with a sound that's just as fresh today as it was at the time. Space Oddity was his first hit and for me, the first track that I consider part of the collection of timeless tracks that are a signature of much of his glam period that is best remembered with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. Earlier this month, Flash animation site Newgrounds featured a college project by someone who created a sort of music video set to Space Oddity. The animation is simplistic but effective in translating the story of the song to a modern medium. I have my doubts about anyone clearing the rights with Bowie, so I don't imagine it will be long before a cease and desist is issued, but it's definitely worth watching at least one. Be cautioned that some areas of Newgrounds are definitely not family friendly.
With thanks to Jake Ludington's Digital Lifestyle


Both Windows Media Player and iTunes have key commands for adjusting volume up or down making it easy to keep your hands hovering over the keyboard. Windows Media Player uses F10 for up and F9 for down, while the iTunes volume controls are Ctrl+Up Arrow and Ctrl+Down Arrow. In either case, you need the application to have focus on your desktop in order to make the shift. iVol gives you control over the system volume from the scroll wheel of your mouse. The volume control supports direct adjustment or requires the use of a hotkey in combination with the wheel. Hold down the Shift key and scroll the volume up or down. Use Alt with the scroll wheel to control a specific system volume, like Line In, CD Player, Wave, Microphone or any of the other potential sound sources supported by your sound card. One of the things I really like about this configuration is the ability to modify the volume increments so you can make volume adjustments on a more incremental level. You do need a scroll wheel mouse to make this work, so if you haven't already discovered the joy of scrolling, here's another excuse. [Windows 9x/2k/XP $0.00]

Neevia’s Document Converter eXPress

Neevia’s Document Converter eXPress is a PDF converter, but instead of installing software on your PC, you do it via the website. It’s aimed at businesses who can install it on their servers but, as a courtesy, Neevia has made it available to users over the web. There is a 1Mb file size limit, but that should be adequate for most uses

Opera 8

A cleaner interface is the most obvious improvement in this release of Opera, but there are also a number of not so obvious enhancements.

The inclusion of voice commands means that you can surf the web simply by talking to your PC (microphone and extra software required), whilst Small Screen Rendering technology and full support for SVG graphics ensures you can correctly view any website in almost any screen or window size.

Extra security helps to protect against phishing attacks by displaying the certificate owner for every secure site and a rating (1 to 3).

Page rendering is extremely fast, and is better than all the other available browsers.

It comes with its own mail client, M2, and includes integrated spam filters, automatic email organisation, and mailing list/newsgroup support. It also has full support for Google's Gmail.

The interface is entirely customisable, so you can display only the functions you want and even change the look and feel to suit.

Opera still has problems displaying some sites, but this is more to do with the coding on the sites rather than with the browser itself.

Orb Networks FREE

If you've got a big collection of digital music and video, you know that bringing it with you when you roam can be a hassle. Large media files can quickly overload a notebook's hard drive and they certainly won't fit on most cell phones or PDAs.
That's where Orb Networks comes in. The Web-based service streams music, video, and photos from your Windows XP PC to other Web-connected devices, including any notebook, many PDAs (generally including PocketPCs, but not Palms), and Microsoft Smartphone cell phones. If your home PC has a TV tuner, you can even watch live television on your portable device.


(the "Hoary Hedgehog" release, often referred to as "Hoary").
There's so much to like about Ubuntu, it's hard to know where to begin. Before I even get to the product itself, Ubuntu's genesis is worth a note. Work on the distribution is funded by Canonical, a company set up by South African gazillionaire Mark Shuttleworth. Perhaps you've heard of him: He cashed out big-time when he sold his security firm, Thawte, to VeriSign, and later became the second fabulously rich guy to literally buy his way into orbit. Now he's putting his money behind Linux with an eye toward increasing the flow of Free Software to all corners of the planet.

And I do mean all corners of the planet: Ubuntu's Philosophy page lists this goal: "Every computer user should be able to use their software in the language of their choice." Couple that with other ideals like "Every computer user should be given every opportunity to use software, even if they work under a disability," and "Every computer user should have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, share, change and improve their software for any purpose, without paying licensing fees," and you see very quickly that the folks behind Ubuntu are interested in something more than selling you a box with some discs in it. In fact, Canonical will send you an Ubuntu disc in the mail, completely free of charge, if you'd prefer not to download the distribution yourself:
What You Get For Free
You have to answer somewhere around a dozen questions before the installer kicks into autopilot and does its thing. None of these are the sort of questions that used to make Linux installs a nightmare: You won't need to know the timings of your video card, for instance. If you're setting up a dual-booting machine, you will need some basic knowledge of partitioning, and Ubuntu can help you shrink a Windows partition to make room on your drive. Once the installer is finished interacting with you, it starts copying files to disk, rebooting once in the process. Then you'll see your new Ubuntu log-in screen.

Once you log in, you're presented with a very clean Gnome 2.10 desktop. By default, all system icons like Computer and Home live in a Places menu at the top of the screen, leaving the desktop itself empty. Even the Trash is not on the desktop--instead it's an applet on the Gnome panel. I think this approach is mindful of the way most users use their desktop: as a place to stash work-in-progress. It's wise, then, to clear the desktop so the only items on it are files and folders that users put there. Here's a screen shot of the desktop:
Ubuntu's Applications menu (Windows users, think "Start menu") is very well organized--which is good, because there's no built-in way to edit the menu. This turns out to be a limitation of Gnome 2.10, and a lot of users aren't happy about it. I don't understand the gripes myself, but that's because I always put launcher buttons for the apps I use most frequently right onto my panel. If you prefer to launch your apps by pulling down a menu and looking through submenus, do yourself a favor and download the nascent Menu Editor application, which lets you set things up just the way you like:
An Entire World of Free Software
Ubuntu is based on Debian, the grandpappy of noncommercial Linuxes, and thus inherits Debian's best-of-breed package management system, Apt. You can deal with Apt via the command line or the powerful point-and-click Synaptic interface. The amount of software available is staggering. We're talking about more than 16,000 different packages, once you've enabled all the official repositories. Granted, a lot of these packages are extremely esoteric; for example, I was thrilled to find the latest version of Trn, a venerable Usenet reader that Perl creator Larry Wall first brought to life more than two decades ago. Others are simply fantastic apps that are not installed by default. If you're a software junkie, you'll have a blast browsing through the listings in Synaptic and trying out apps left and right.

To access these goodies, follow the instructions at for adding the "universe" and "multiverse" repositories to your Apt setup.
If you like, this is the time to pull down several non-Free packages that may make your computing life better. "Non-Free" doesn't mean you have to pay for them; it just means that they do not meet the requirements to be classified as Free Software:
You'll likely want DVD and MP3 support, drivers for the 3D side of your ATI or Nvidia video card, and Flash and Java plug-ins for your Web-surfing pleasure. You can also download support for Windows Media, RealNetworks, and QuickTime video formats, and even set up a package called Mozplugger that lets you play these video formats right in your browser, just like all your Windows and Mac-using friends do:HERE
You Know What They Say About Every Rose...
It's hard to come up with a list of gripes about Hoary. The annoyances are mostly minor--there's no pretty startup screen at boot time, for instance. The only glaring blemish is an unfortunate decision to change the default behavior of Nautilus, the Gnome file manager.

I've mentioned several times in this space that beginning with Gnome 2.6, Nautilus has had two modes of operation. One, the "File Browser" mode, is like Windows Explorer, with a two-pane display (folder tree on the left, folder contents on the right). Then there's the "Spatial" mode, which is what you get when you double-click a folder on your desktop. In Spatial mode, Nautilus behaves very much like the Finder in older versions of the Mac OS: A new window opens for every folder you access.

A lot of people think that this is a bogus way to operate. Just one of their complaints is that if you're drilling down to a buried subfolder, you end up with a screen full of windows in no time at all. Never mind the fact there's an easy way around this (the double-middle-click):
If you'd like to give Ubuntu a test drive before you install it, you can download a "Live CD" version:
This is a self-booting CD-based version of Hoary that should give you a pretty good idea of what you'll end up with if you go ahead with a full installation. If you decide to bring the Hoary Hedgehog into your life, drop me a line and let me know what you think:
Matthew Newton:

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


SmartBarXP is a bar that runs down the side of your screen, and can be configured to display interactive panels known as 'panes'. These panes include media players, slideshow and image viewing panes, a virtual desktop manager, and live news, weather and stock feeds to mention but a few. The panes can be repositioned on the bar, and scrolled if the bar becomes too full. The bar can also be host to extra sections, which include a recycle bin, explorer shortcuts, and taskbar replacement sections (start button, taskbar buttons and system tray sections).

To add to the incredible flexibility of functionality, SmartBarXP can be fully customisable in almost every aspect you can think of. Every pane has extensive options where needed, and can be customised to look and work just the way you want it to. The bar itself can be customised too, with options for positioning, auto hiding, pane scrolling, fading and translucency effects, changing the language and regional setting, and more. You can also select the theme the bar takes on; it can match your current Windows XP theme, the Classic Windows theme, or even use a third party SmartBarXP theme.

With a wide range panes to choose from, and seemingly endless ways to customise it, SmartBarXP can be configured to the needs of almost any computer user – be it for home or business use.

SnapFolders 2005

Of course you know how to make shortcuts to folders, but the shortcut function has changed little since the days of Windows 95. SnapFolders helps you create faster, more powerful shortcuts. Instead of forcing all shortcuts to open the target folder in a folder window, SnapFolders gives you the choice of having shortcuts open Explorer windows with the target folder either selected or as the root folder. SnapFolders' shortcuts automatically appear on the Start Menu; from there, you can copy, move, rename, or delete them.

Fresh UI

Fresh UI
free tweaking tool
v 7.33, release date: April 15, 2005

Fresh UI is a fresh solution for configuring and optimizing Windows operating system. Loaded with hundreds of useful hidden settings in Windows XP/2000/NT4/98/ 95/Me, it covers the customizing and optimizing techniques that you'll be glad to know. This software is 100% free, no ads, no banner, no spyware

AvantGo '05

Retrieve information from the Web and corporate intranets via your Palm OS handheld. AvantGo lets you store Web sites in your PDA, so you can read them later. Select the Web sites from AvantGo's desktop application, and then HotSync the information to your Palm. The AvantGo Palm client is compatible with ASCII text, HTML documents, and GIF or JPEG images.

Price: Free
To see how people just like you use AvantGo to enhance their personal and professional lives every day, click here.
A PDA or a smartphone, and a desktop internet connection. That's it. The AvantGo mobile internet service works on nearly all Palm OS® (palmOne, Sony, Handspring, etc.), Pocket PC (HP, Dell, Toshiba, etc.), Win CE, and Symbian Series 60 (Nokia 3650, etc.) devices. Just choose your content, then download and install the free software. If you have a wireless connection or Wi-Fi service, great! You can refresh away from your desktop. Otherwise just sync content with your desktop cradle and go — same great experience either way.
I DID say it was free

Monday, April 25, 2005

Great WebCam Software (Free)

Webcam Publisher 2.0 (Beta)WheresJames Webcam Publisher makes it easy for you to publish images to the web. Overlay text of any font, color, size, and posit..

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities.

Freeware is a beautiful thing. If you’re currently using a freeware application that you can’t live without, please thank the developer by either sending them an e-mail or a donation. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it. The life of a freeware developer obviously isn’t filled with caviar and champagne. They mostly rely on donations (if at all), and when the money isn’t flowing in, it can be an extremely costly thing to do. Why do they do it? The answer: pure, unbridled motivation. They slave over their code simply because they feel that their program has something better to offer over the pricey competition. Their reward is hearing from hundreds and even thousands of satisfied users. To find some great freeware, refer to this list of The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities.
This resource offers something for most every software category that you can think of. Explanations are given for why the software was picked as the winner, and most of the time you'll receive multiple program suggestions to check out. Yes, great software sometimes really is free.

SAM An answering machine for Skype

Skype doesn't currently include an answering service, so somebody else has created one for it.

SAM works just like any standard answering service. You simply record your greeting and then, when activated, SAM will intercept incoming calls, play a greeting and then record the callers message.

You can configure various settings, including the number of rings before SAM answers and the maximum length of message that can be recorded. You can also have different greetings/settings for Buddy and non-buddy calls.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Qnext v2.0

Qnext is a secure P2P communications suite that offers universal instant messaging, video conferencing, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), file transfer, file sharing, group text chat, online games, photo sharing, and remote PC access. IM networks Qnext can access include QNext, MSN, AIM, Yahoo, and ICQ. Qnext uses includes 512-bit user authentication and 192-bit encryption on all P2P data communications.

Qnext lets you share photos, files, and more in Zones that can be left open to all of QNext or to contact lists. This version introduces new games and streaming music zones, which lets you share music with your friends instead of with the entire Internet.

The product is spyware-free.


TrueCrypt creates virtual encrypted disks mountable in Win XP or Win 2000. It encrypts hard disk partitions and removable media like USB drives and flash memory. TrueCrypt provides plausible deniability through hidden encrypted volumes. AES-256, Blowfish, CAST5, Serpent, Triple DES and Twofish encryption, as well as cascaded algorithms. TrueCrypt never uses hash output directly as an encryption key. Max encrypted volume size: 9223372036GB.
OS: Windows2000,WinXP,Unix,Linux,Mac OS X

DVD Catalog

My DVD Catalog is a simple dvd cataloger. Easily organize your DVDs by genre and rating. My DVD Catalog allows you to input DVD features and descriptions.
Did I mention that it was FREE?

My CD Ripper V1.0 FREE

My CD Ripper V1.0 is a simple, but robust free cd to mp3 ripper. With only a few clicks, you'll be able to save the music from your music cds as mp3 or wav files on your hard disk. With an easy to use interface, you have the option to rip one or multiple tracks at a time. Upon selecting the cd tracks in which you want to rip, you will be given the option to choose the destination directory in which to store the wav and mp3 file(s).

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Magic Show - Online Magic magazine


Interested in magic? - want to learn a trick or two, find a magic store, read reviews of the latest effects for sale, watch video clips of tricks, learn what magic websites are out there, get some pointers on sleight-of-hand technique.

The Magic Show site provides a jumping-off spot to a whole world of magic on the web and is updated weekly with new reviews and effects. Lots of nifty stuff to explore here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Think of Qnext as the Swiss Army knife of Internet communication tools. With this slick suite of applications (available free from the Qnext Web site), you can send and receive instant messages, set up group IM chats, initiate audio chats, start a video conference, and take part in online gaming. You can also send and receive large numbers of files and photos, and even log on to a distant machine and do full-screen remote control (much as you could with a remote-control program such as GoToMyPC). All told, the public beta we tested (the official first release is slated for fall) is impressive. And did we mention it's free?
Qnext works nicely as a universal instant messenger, but this versatile freebie has many other tricks up its sleeve. I've always liked the way this communications service client opens extra features in attached panes called "zones" instead of in pop-up windows
Adding to zones for photo sharing, file sharing, and games introduced in previous versions, the latest crowd-pleaser--the rabbit from the hat, if you will--is the audio-streaming feature, which Qnext calls a "jukebox zone."
Since you decide who has access to your jukebox zone, you can decide who has the right to listen and who doesn't. The Qnext folks tell me that their latest users aren't seeking a Trillian-like IM aggregator; rather, they want to find a replacement for peer-to-peer music sharing networks. Certainly, Qnext's model of opening zones only to trusted buddies isn't as scary as opening your PC to the entire Internet. Nor is it as creepy to rifle through your spouse's music library as it is to sift through the potentially malicious files set out by a stranger.

Qnext lets you choose between playing files at a low-bandwidth reduced quality level or a high-bandwidth maximum quality level. To my untrained ear, both settings were acceptable--though they were discernibly different.