May 262009
 

Writemonkey is described by its author as

Zenware for full screen distraction free creative writing. No whistles and bells, just empty screen, you and your words. WriteMonkey is light, fast, and perfectly handy for those who enjoy the simplicity of a typewriter but live in modern times.

Writemonkey is a text editor where any writing, essay or note can be initiated while keeping a minimal look and feel. That is not to say Writemonkey does not have useful features but the full screen – which can be exited by pressing the Esc key – has a black background by default, or any other color using the preferences, and provides a good measure of quietness. To keep it in that serene look all settings can be accessed by right clicking on the ‘paper’ area so exiting from the full screen mode is rarely, if ever, necessary. It has many features that make it useful and interesting such as keeping a tab of number of words typed with the possibility of adding a progress bar to keep a running indicator of how close a user is to a word minimum or limit for an essay for example. This, with all other application settings, is accessed either in the relevant, in this case Progress, tab of the preferences or straight from a right click. On the same Progress tab there is also a timer feature to keep tabs on how long a project or writing is taking. Other notable and pretty rare and unique features include a Repository where unfinished notes can be stored and accessed later. Any text can be added to the Repository by highlighting it and then right clicking and choosing Move to repository. The Jump, a popup toggled on/off via a right click, lets the user move between paragraph and bookmarks within the document. One other, but certainly not the last, feature of Writemonkey is Replacements. This is a text replacement feature for re-using common words where triggers or hot keys are defined in the preferences.

Of particular note is that if a user does not associate .txt files with Writemonkey the only way to access the said files is by opening the Writemonkey executable itself and then clicking Tab and Ctrl to get a list of recently open and used documents. Alternatively Open With Writemonkey can be added to the Windows context menu or the Start with last opened file setting enabled in the preferences’ Open & Save tab.

Writemonkey is a no installation freeware and its executable file is less than 1MB. it is extremely fun to play with and has many simple yet interesting features. The features page has a more complete list and the application’s facebook group many screenshots. Writemonkey is also UTF-8, Unicode and ANSII capable, runs on XP, with .NET Framework 3.5 installed, and higher including Windows 7.

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Appetizer Is Food For Your Application Launching Needs

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May 212009
 

Appetizer is described by its author as

…a free application launcher, or dock, for Windows

Appetizer is an open source entry in the application launcher list that includes the likes of 8Start, reviewed here previously, LaunchBar Commander from DonationCoder and many others. It is available in an executable and ZIP package portable. It also supports skins and plugins.

Appetizer

Appetizer, as it stands now at version1.3, keeps it simple. The first step in using it can be importing Start Menu and Quick Launch shortcuts using a special importer. Alternatively one can click on the + button (see image, showing Appetizer using the iAppetizer skin) or drag and drop program icons into the dock to create shortcut items manually. By right clicking shortcuts one can change the display name of the shortcut, change its path and icon and add special parameters that control how the application is launched. In addition to the aforementioned shortcuts can be added to ‘multi-launch’ groups. A multi-launch is often useful when one wants to open several portable applications (non-portable ones too) by clicking one single button. Here, using Appetizer, one can add many shortcuts to a group and open several applications simultaneously.

The configuration menu of Appetizer lets the user do the following: choose its language (18 available as of this review), keep the app on top, check for updates, change its skin, its orientation (vertical or horizontal), its icon size, its transparency, auto hide it after an application launch, run multi-launch groups on start up, add a hot key to hide/show the dock and enable/disable plugins. One of the useful included plugins is the one that opens the folder where the application being launched resides in. Once enabled a plugin becomes accessible via a right click on any of the shortcuts.
Appetizer is a very promising relatively new software and runs on Windows 2000, XP and Vista.

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May 182009
 

CSS-BuMa is described by its author as

CSS-BuMa is a program to create pure Cascading Style Sheet Buttons

CSS-BuMa is an alternative to the CSS Tab Designer reviewed here earlier in the year or the online CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) menu generators like CSSMenuMaker just to name one. Besides being a lightweight and interesting application it has an advantage over its online counterparts in that it is possible to save menus as re-usable projects. It does not create or generate multi-level menus however as it is limited to creating horizontal or vertical pure CSS menus.

Entering button captions or text and the accompanying links is the first step in creating a menu, adding them for as many menu items as needed, then collectively for the whole menu or each item individually various settings can be chosen and edited. (Almost) everything can be set and edited including text of course but also font, background color, position, letter spacing, height, width, margin and others. An integrated color picker can aid in choosing a color as well. The same is configurable to control the behaviour of the menu in hover and visited states. Additionally a background image can be chosen for one or all the items and its position and repeat state set as well.


CSS-BuMa

In addition to the aforementioned feature of saving a menu as a project, with CSS-BuMa one can also save menus as templates where everything (color, font, etc.) is saved except the menu text. This allows future use while retaining something akin to a theme.

Finally the “Parse HTML File” tab supposedly extracts (in a “the address”;”description” format) links from an existing HTML file so the link targets can be automatically added to a menu that the user has created using CSS-BuMa. In my test of an HTML page with 10+ links only two links were parsed or shown so I am not sure about the usability of this feature.

Like many other programs from Sam Francke CSS-BuMa is easy to use even if it is not always updated anymore. It is cardware or freeware and it runs under Windows 98SE, XP and 2000.

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May 152009
 

Svante Arrhenius (Feb. 19, 1859 – Oct. 2, 1927) was a Swedish scientist and Nobel Prize winner in 1903. His earliest works were on electrolytes and later in life he turned to astronomy and origins of life but along the way he worked on predicting the effects of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) on the Earth’s atmosphere.

He studied the works of French scientist Joseph Fourier, who had earlier predicted surface temperature increases, and worked on predicting how much they would affect the Earth. He even went as far as saying that it may possible to prevent the next ice age with the increases in emissions. One of his main conclusions was that doubling CO2 levels, plus the water vapour that will be held in the atmosphere partially as a result, could cause a 5 to 6 degree centigrade rise in surface temperatures. His conclusions were long term, he had cited 3000 years as a time line for example, and he even viewed it as a positive because the Earth’s climate would be less harsh or cold as a result. In the late 20th century his work has had him called the father of climate change for the predictions that he made and is one of the basis for the more modern and accurate climate change models.

Read more about him at his entry at the Britannica online encyclopedia, at the Nobel Prize site, wikipedia and a feature article on the guardian newspaper website.

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PicPick Tools Is The All In One Design Tool

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May 132009
 

PicPick is described by its author as

PicPick is an all-in-one software for software developers, graphic designers and home user

and it packs a punch in a 942KB zipped download (an installer is available as well).
Unzipping and running PicPick opens an initial window that writes to an .ini file. Here one chooses one of the many translations available, set it to start with Windows if needed and configure hotkeys for many of its operations. After that PicPick sits in the system tray and its every tool is a right click away.

Whiteboard is a tool that uses the monitor space itself and is basically what it says. Using shapes, lines, arrows one can draw anything freehand and save the whole area which includes the desktop background. The Whiteboard also includes a screen magnifier. Show CrossHair displays the cursor position in x and y pixels on the screen. The interesting feature of this tool is that by clicking on one of point on the screen and then moving the mouse subsequent x,y positions are shown relative to the clicked point.
Show Protractor, as its name suggests, uses reference points created by mouse clicks and movement to measure angles on the screen. Show Pixel Ruler allows vertical and horizontal screen measurements, right clicking on it brings up its options which in the case also includes the ability to change its transparency to be able to use it as unobtrusively as possible. Show Magnifier enlarges areas the mouse is hovering on between 2x to 10x.

The color options includes Show Color Palette that acts as a reference for RGB, C++, Delphi and HTML color codes. With Open Color Picker colors are chosen and saved into the Color History where they can be saved in any of the aforementioned formats using the Copy Color As.

PicPick

Capture Settings sets the output type (to PicPick itself, to clipboard and others), the image format of the output (JPG, BMP and others) and includes support dual monitors and auto scroll to capture whole pages like those that are not fully visible on the screen and have scrollbars. Subsequent to choosing the settings a whole range of capture possibilities are included in Screen Capture. Those include active window, fullscreen, region, freehand and what is called window control that captures the aforementioned whole page. As interesting and useful as PicPick is perhaps the best part is that even at that small download it also includes an image editor with all the usual features one may needs. Invert color, blur, rotate, crop, zoom, draw shapes and many more are all here.

An ongoing poll is running on the developer’s message board to vote for additional languages the program would be available in. PicPick is a very useful and lightweight image tool well worth a download.

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SpaceSniffer Is An Attractive Disk Report Utility

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May 092009
 

As a follow up to this post reviewing 6 tools to view and analyze disk usage and this post on TreeSize here is review of SpaceSniffer. It is described by its author as

SpaceSniffer is a freeWare (or, better, donationWare) and portable tool application that gives you an idea of how folders and files are structured on your disks

SpaceSniffer is certainly one of the more attractive and fun to watch applications around. Upon launch and when a drive is chosen SpaceSniffer goes to work. As it does its analysis colorful (colors are configurable) rectangles appear in relative sizes creating a percent by percent 2 dimensional picture of the drive being analyzed.
SpaceSniffer

Files and folders are given different colors as are free and unknown spaces. The latter 2 are excluded in the default analysis but that can be changed of course. If the program is left open while other changes are made to the system the affected folders are highlighted briefly. Single and double clicking a rectangle gives more information as it zooms to show a more complete picture, that is its subfolder(s) and contents, of the folder being clicked on. It is also possible to filter the whole drive or any other view for a more specific mapping of the analysis. For example by typing “<3months” (without the quotes) in the filter box only files that are less 3 months old will be shown.

SpaceSniffer runs on Windows 2000, XP and Vista and is a very useful 871KB zipped download. The download also includes a Quick Start PDF.

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JetPhoto Lets You Manage Your Images

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May 062009
 

JetPhoto Studio is described by its author as

JetPhoto Studio is a feature-rich and easy-to-use digital photo software

With JetPhoto it is possible to organize photos into albums, and to archive and back them up as well. One can browse collections or albums in the usual thumbnail mode where not only it is also possible to add notes or tags to individual images or collections of images but it is also possible to star or favorite selected ones, view them by date either utilizing the file creation/modification information or EXIF details. Double clicking on individual photos takes the user to an (almost) full screen mode with some of the expected effects and tools included. Images can be made into a wallpaper or a screensaver, sepia effect can be added, the image can be cropped and watermark added just to mention a few.


JetPhoto

One of the negatives of the concept of JetPhoto is that when it creates its albums it actually copies or replicates the photos. Perhaps it is possible to choose the album location (prompted when first creating it) to be in the same, originating folder that your images reside in but I did not test that possibility. Another unexpected behaviour or bug is that the magnifier did not always work in my usage, the icon did change to a magnifying glass one when the image was loaded into the full screen mode but actions -clicking and holding the mouse- had very little or no effect on the portion of the image the focus was on and even then that depended on the actual image size. A look at the program’s features pages explains

You can place your mouse pointer on an interesting part of a photo, press and hold the mouse button to reveal a magnifier which magnifies the image with actual pixels at full size of the original photo.

so perhaps this is not actually a full blown magnifier in the true sense of the word or is it?

JetPhoto makes it easy to search an album or across albums and besides the normal search criteria there are possibilities of searching photos by location if the photos have that info attached to them. To do that JetPhoto can connect to a map server to allow the geotagging of photos or to connect to google maps and generate KML or KMZ files for use with Google Earth.

JetPhoto adds a few attractive output options (see image) but some are either crippled by bearing the JetPhoto text in one frame (in the web flash gallery for example) and/or limits on the number of times they can be used to create an output. A PhotoJet server can be setup to store images online on any webspace using the program itself as a management interface. This is available as a sort of alternative to flickr, which the program itself also supports. JetPhoto runs on Windows 2000, Windows XP and Vista. A Mac OS X version is also available.

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May 042009
 

The world is slowly and surely pushing ahead with green and sustainable technologies. Wind power, using turbines, is growing and is one way to generate electricity using the second most abundant source of energy after sunlight.

Today there is news that China plans to increase its existing wind power output threefold by 2020. The original plan was to have a 30 Gigawatts output by then but that has been increased to 100 Gigawatts and plans to forge ahead even further after 2020.

China is one country that has realized coal is not the way to go and as the second most polluter in the world is taking some steps necessary now.

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