Showing posts with the label free

Analyze your computer and reveal software keys

I've been using Belarc Advisor , a free personal tool for analyzing your Windows computer, for some time now. It will provide a detailed analysis of several items: Installed hardware Installed software and version number Windows Updates, and indicate if any are missing Checks for virus protection and last scan Software keys Software usage (frequency) User accounts and last login What I like best is that it reports the software keys of my installed software. While it doesn't appear to grab all software keys on my personal computer, it lists all of them from my work computer including Microsoft, Adobe, Corel and TechSmith. I recently used it before rebuilding my Dad's computer. In addition to being certain to have his software license keys, I was able to also view what programs he hadn't used in sometime -- therefore I didn't reinstall them. Considering adding more RAM to your PC? Instead of taking the cover off to do a visual inspection, use Belarc Advisor to identi

Useful Windows Utilities

I ran across a few useful, free Windows utilities today, all from Mike Lin . Though he created these years ago, I found them still helpful. Startup Control Panel : This tool installs in your Windows Control Panel and allows you to disable programs that are configured to start on Startup. In October 2006 in my XP Memory Problems and Startup Applications post I wrote about a similar program, Startup Inspector , which I've continued to use. I like Startup Control Panel a little more, but they both should work for you. StartUpMonitor : The purpose of StartUpMonitor is to monitor programs on install and notify you before they add a new Startup program. While I haven't used it yet, I like this idea as I can catch these before they get into my system instead of having to use Startup Control Panel or Startup Inspector after the fact. Clipomatic : Clipomatic will keep a "clipboard" of your copy/cut text, so you can access and reuse items clipped long after you've made new

Share files across computers across the Internet

I recently had a case to share a few free eBooks with a friend in Europe. The files were large enough that sharing over email wasn't practical. My friend introduced me to Dropbox , a service that allows me to store up to 2GB of files for free, and I can designate a folder to share with him (or others). Dropbox goes beyond just file sharing though. With their client application (Windows, Mac, and Linux), I can have my Dropbox folder sync across computers. Therefore if I add a file on computer A, it will automatically sync to computers B and C. And if I want to access one of my files from any computer, I can just login to Dropbox and get to my files. Now that I've used Dropbox for a few weeks, I have detected one thing to be cautious of. It has a feature to perform a LAN check -- before sync'ing out to the Dropbox servers, Dropbox checks your LAN. This is an optional feature, that defaults on. What I found is that it though my WAN connection was part of the LAN, and it signif

Free Anti-virus Software

I hope you're all using anti-virus software, and are having it self-update. I want to give a plug to Avast! Free Antivirus . I've been a user of Avast! for years, and have never gotten a virus on any of my computers. There has been the occassional trapping of a virus, but Avast! has stopped them all. If you're looking for a good, reliable, and free anti-virus software, I would recommend Avast!.

Free fax service

For most of us, faxes are quite dated. Having a fax machine to receive documents can be quite a chore to coordinate the logistics in figuring out where someone could send you a fax. If you use K7 , you can receive faxes and voice mails for free. Go to, give them your email address, select a 4 digit pin, and answer 4 questions on the service you want, and you will have your own (206 area code) fax number. Service options include the following: Save faxes only (which can be retrieved off the K7 website) Save faxes and send you a copy via email Do not save, email only Faxes are saved in TIF format, which will give you multiple images in a single file -- one image per page. The service claims to continue to support your account for free as long as it is used at least once every 30 days. If you have the Washington State only plan, which receives calls only placed within Washington, you can have up to 90 days of inactivity before your account is released. Next time you need to receive

Free audio books

Many of us find ourselves in the car or on the bus bored, as we travel to and from work every day. If we're lucky, we've got an audio player and listen to podcasts and/or audio books. If you like audio books though, they can become rather expensive leaving you back to finding an alternative. This is where comes in. Using, you can subscribe to books of your choosing, and have the chapters delivered to you at a specified interval, for free. For example, you might want a new chapter a day; subscribe using your podcatcher and each night when you sync your audio player, the next chapter will download to your device. Downloading at an interval you specified is great for people who have audio players with a small amount of memory -- you don't need to store the files until you're ready to listen to them. Podiobooks has over 270 titles and is being used by over 50,000 listeners. Categories include: Fantasy, History, Romance, and Thriller, just to

Free PDF Hosting

UPDATE 18-Nov-08: I missed this one; not sure what changed -- Google Docs DOES NOT allow sharing of PDFs. Of course a single user can store and view a PDF; you just cannot share it. "Please note, at this time you can only share PDFs from the Docs list, not the PDF itself. Publishing a PDF so that anyone can view has not yet been implemented." I guess I am back to finding an alternative. I looked into free file hosting, to see if I could find a place to store a few PDFs for this blog. The real need came from my current host, Blogger, not providing this service when I last checked in August. It is free, so I can't really complain, yet it is part of Google that gives me 10 GBs free for using their Gmail and Picasa services -- that are also free. Of course I could use Google Docs, but then that forces me to format my documents to fit their tool. STOP - I spoke too soon, Google Docs now supports PDFs; I can host any PDF up to 10 MB in size (and I can always purchase more

Write, fold, mail, and other folding fun

Seems letter writing is dead -- not according to Letterfu. contains several page templates that you can use to send a letter without using an envelope. The steps are easy: Find a design template you like Print it Write your letter (on the back) Fold per the printed guides Address Add a stamp Mail If Letterfu intrigued you, then you might find one of these other paper folding sites of interest. is all about origami, from the history to easy lessons to complex origami art. A Paper Folding Project contains instructions for a single design from Paul Haeberli. has a collection of links (some broken) to folding instructions for various origami. So give Letterfu and letter writing a try. Perhaps letter writing isn't quite dead, yet.

One spell checker to rule them all

Many applications we use come with built in spell checkers; with F7 being the most common way to execute the spell checker. With more and more web based apps, I seem to find myself occasionally not having a spell checker or the spell checker is cumbersome. For me, this no longer is a problem. I have been using a free product called Enso Words from Humanized for over 6 months as my spell checker. Here's how simple it is: Highlight what you want to check (ctrl-A to select everything) Hold the Caps Lock key down and start typing "spellcheck". In my case, just an "s" is enough to put spellcheck in the top of the Enso list. Release the Caps Lock key If there are no misspellings, Enso Words will tell you so. If there are, a window will open with your text, and the misspelling will be highlighted. Click and hold on the misspellings to see possible correct spellings. Select the correct spelling or select Learn. Alternatively, you can type the correct spelling. When you

Get ebooks and audio books for free

If you enjoy reading, you know that the cost of getting new books can add up quickly. For the commuters who listen to books, purchasing new audio books is nearly prohibitive. If you fall into one of these groups, you might find Project Gutenberg to be a great resource. Project Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, or eBooks. Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, invented eBooks in 1971 and continues to inspire the creation of eBooks and related technologies today. Imaging going to a never ending bookshelf to pick your next book to read. Project Gutenberg is a volunteer organization working to make every public domain (copyright-free) book available in electronic form. Unfortunately copyright law has changed since Project Gutenberg was started. While a book used to be public domain 28 years after written, the law now says the author must be dead for 50 years. Nevertheless, there is quite a collection of interesting books available -- 25,00

Macro language for Windows -- AutoHotKey

Some colleagues at work have been touting AutoHotKey as a good way to write macros for Windows. I thought, "what do I need to write any macros for?" Well today I finally had a need, and AutoHotKey came through with flying colors. AutoHotKey is an open source macro program for Windows. You can use it to replace keyboard, joystick, and mouse operations; you can even save it as an .exe so you can run your macros on machines that do not have AutoHotKey installed. I had to update about 50 entries in a database with the same text, but my only interface was through my web browser. I had a list of records in Excel, so using AutoHotKey, I was able to perform my updates in 1/10th of the time. All I did was select the next record and press my keyboard shortcut -- AutoHotKey did the rest. Here's what AutoHotKey did: Copy the record number from Excel Go to my web browser and paste the record number in to find the record Click modify record Click to another tab Go to the 5th line and

Free Secure Wireless Connection from your Home

If you're lucky enough to have free access to a wireless Internet hot-spot, it's easy to connect your entire home network to it and get free Internet access. David A. Karp explains how with just a few slides at PC Magazine ( This is a great solution if you live in an apartment complex or close in the city.

Open Source Software -- Free and Legal

I recently ran across a blog posting at The Simple Dollar titled 30 Essential Pieces of Free (and Open) Software for Windows . They are not quite all essential; perhaps 10 are. Many I have heard of, but a few are new to me. Of course it lists popular open source software such as Firefox , Thunderbird , and Audacity , but there are some other good ones including Filezilla (FTP client), Handbrake (watch DVDs locally without the DVD), and FreeMind (mind mapping). Check this blog post and see what you might be paying for that you could get for free and legal.

Use Excel to solve Soduko puzzles

I found a clever Excel template on the Microsoft site . With this template, it can help you solve Soduko puzzles. You enter the numbers you have, and have it calculate possible answers for the remaining open spots. If it cannot completely solve it, try 1 of the possible numbers and recalculate. Eventually, you will solve the puzzle. Microsoft has other game templates as well.

Take a Third Look at Google Desktop

I had tried the free Google Desktop at work, twice, and each time uninstalled it. First because I could not search my network drives. (I like to use network drives to share files with my colleagues, and to make sure they are backed up.) Later I had decided to try again, and then discovered the possible security issues. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Google now has addressed the security concerns and they have released an update that will index networked drives. I have been running this now for about two weeks, and it generally has performed well. The Google Desktop Search is based on keywords, so it does not always give you the most relevant results. I also had some troubles with PowerPoint running very slow while editing. (I turn the search off when I am working in PowerPoint.) With those caveats, it seems to be a good solution. A nice, new feature is that if you hit your CTRL button twice, a search dialog appears in the center of your screen. Of course Google Desktop will

Discover Free Music on the Internet

Contrary to what you might hear, there is a lot of free music available on the Internet. A good place to start is with podcasts. There are a few different licenses available to podcasters, such as Creative Commons . Podcasters are often also granted rights to play music from smaller labels. In some cases, because the podcaster is not in the U.S., they can also play artists that would never be approved for play within the U.S. Here is three to get you started: The Roadhouse Raven n Blues IndieFeed Another option is to try services such as Pandora or Blogmusik . With Pandora, you can suggest an artist or sing that you like, and Pandora will play it. From there, Pandora will play other songs that they believe you will like based on your selection and others before you. This is a great way to discover new songs and new artists. With Blogmusik, you can search on artist or song, and it will return sources for you to select and listen to. Both services play the music through Flash , making i