Aciqra : Open Source Planetarium

Aciqra (Version: 2.2 tested) is an open source planetarium software. It is one of the more complete ones available. It features star catalogs and NGC and IC catalogs that include millions of stars and 1000s of deep sky objects such as galaxies. It offers corrections for atmospheric refraction and other enhancements to be as accurate as possible in tracking stars and other objects. It also provides extra information on objects such as asteroid and comets and events such as eclipses.

The interface of the program is not the best but it does try to stay true to the claim that it is made to be efficient. The color and contrast of the buttons is the first issue when using Aciqra. They almost mix into the sky image behind them.

The bottom of the program from left to right features the buttons to exit, correct for refraction, track for earth’s rotation, toggle night vision mode (red color) and toggle current view information (universal time, location, field of view, right ascension, declination, azimuth and altitude).


The right hand side features the time control (view the sky in the past and future), label data which lets the user view very useful information on the objects in the sky like  magnitude brightness,  color (star temperature indicator), common name, scientific name and size. Object labels highlights constellations, stars, solar system and deep space objects. Further up the right hand side are toggles for the visibility of stars, deep sky objects, solar system objects and ground level.

The program opens with a DOS window where it takes longer than one would expect to load the objects and other information. Also upon first install it opens with its configuration settings text file where default user location, font and many other settings can be viewed and edited. It has some of the mouse and keyboard controls to navigate and move within the sky but the scroll wheel does not zoom in and out as I expected. Aciqra includes an option to save the current sky view as an image. It is available for Linux as well.

PDF To JPG: Convert Your PDF Files (Free Until July 1!)

PDF To JPG is simple shareware. It does a task that is sometimes done to avoid using pdf readers and it does it well. The program interface and startup are as simple as the function it performs. When launched the program gives the user the option to choose the conversion type. The options, which are also available within the main window are pdf to jpg, pdf to tif (almost always referred to as tiff), pdf to bmp, pdf to png and pdf to gif.


Once open file(s) or folder of files can be added. The program will list the pdf files that are to be converted and presents the option to narrow down or choose pages to be converted. If needed one can change the dots per inch or resolution for the images.

PDF To JPG runs on Windows 2000 and newer and its regular current price is $29.95 but it’s free from the publisher’s site until July 1st.

EasyTournament: Freeware Multi-Platform Tournament Organizer

EasyTournament aims to automate and organize sports tournaments. It is free software made to make it easier to set up and calculate games and points.

Using EasyTournament, the user chooses a sport – soccer, football, basketball, hockey, floorball and handball are available – then defines tournament rules based on the presets made available depending on the sport chosen.

Tournament details is first and it is where general information such as name, description, picture or logo are added. Based on the sport being played duration, rules and events can be edited or left as they are. For example changing a soccer win from 3 points to 2 or forcing away goals as the first rule to calculate group position. Teams are then entered, including players and staff. Referees details as well. The Designer tab allows the user to create a visual of the tournament and use lines and arrows to determine the structure of the tournament. Schedule can be added manually or generated automatically based on the groups and teams, here somehow one feels this step should be later in the list since next up is Group assignment where teams can be dragged and dropped into their respective groups. The Games tab does the explicit work of the earlier Schedule tab as it generates the actual schedule and shows the team names. Tables is up next and standings are generated based on the results entered in the Games tab. Finally Statistics works both automatically and manually to create stats for goals scored, penalties, assists and other combinations which can then be sorted by team or player.

EasyTournament is both simple and complete, the tournament diagram can be exported into an image and tables and results into html and xml. It is java based and works on Windows XP and higher (available in both portable and installer) and on Linux. The download page includes a sample tournament using Euro 2008 stats. Online help is at


BImageStudio: Freeware Simple Image Editor

BImageStudio (Version: 1.2.1 tested) is a freeware and simple image editor with some basic tools and an unusual method of working with images.


Features or tools that are included are edit, resize, crop, rotate, flip, watermark (image and text), rename and convert. BImageStudio can work in batch as well. What is somewhat different about BImageStudio is how this is done. One must add individual or folder of images using the add button or drag and drop them. The black and white interface and larger than usual interface of the program shows thumb previews of the image(s) and the buttons under the preview(s) allow the user to view them in pane (like windows explorer), gallery (like windows’ flimstrip) and details (like an explorer list).

When one or more image is selected the operations are chosen from the left hand side. Everything can be done from this left hand side, however to ‘set filter’ – use the brightness, contracts, saturation, hue and gamma sliders –  is left to a separate window.

The watermark is also added in a separate window and lets the user choose a position for the watermark, either set to a corner or a custom one. Renaming is basic and simple using a file name, separator and increment or counter.

Finally one must click the process button to start the operation. BImageStudio prompts the user to choose which operation to do first, second and later. For example if images are being renamed and resized the user must choose which of the two BImageStudio processes first.

BImageStudio works on Windows XP and newer.

MyTetra: Cross Platform Notes Organizer

MyTetra (Version: 1.30 tested) is an open source and cross platform note taker, notes organizer or PIM. It doesn’t have the most modern interface but it is a good option if looking for an organizer.


MyTetra is tree structured. Its structure is item (or sub item) with separate note(s) within each item or sub item (see image). It comes with a base item and sub items or siblings or other items can be added.  MyTetra has an unusual characteristic, it requires each item to be divided into notes, the nodes in the tree themselves don’t hold any text, just a list of notes that belong to them. Notes are added by clicking the Add Note (top middle of interface) button.

Note content appear below the notes list. The note editor includes paragraph, justification, font, indent, list, table and image tools. Additionally there is an Edit HTML button to edit or work in pure HTML.

Search is a strength of MyTetra. One can search within an open note, if necessary, by clicking the Find button to the right of the font selection dropdown but more usefully the find section occupying the lower part of the program can search across all notes and all fields (tag, author, url, title or content or text). If the find area is not visible it can be toggled on at Tools—>Find In Base. Tags belonging to an open note are visible under the note area and are clickable to aid in searching for other notes with the same tag.

MyTetra supports copying and pasting nodes so one can create duplicates. It also supports encryption (Tools —>Settings —>Crypto) and Synchronization over a version control system like Git (Tools —>Settings —>Synchro). It is available for Linux, Windows, Mac OS X and FreeBSD.

Freeware, Useful Image Editor: PicEdit

PicEdit is a useful image editor with a ribbon like menu.


It features the typical brightness, contrast, hue and saturation sliders to the left of its interface. Also on the left are the image effects mosaic, blur, sharpen, noise, invert, and grayscale. Canvas resize, rotate, copy, paste (from file or clipboard), watermark (image) and stamp (an extensible clipart library) are the other options available.

Shapes such as polygon, rectangle, ellipse, arrow and line are also available along with others like fill and highlighted rectangular area. Each with their own relevant settings. For example if the line tool is chosen the options for thickness, opacity and style (dotted, solid, etc.) appear in the ribbon-like menu.

Text and balloon text are also available in different styles but as may be obvious in the image it is not clear how to apply or finish inserting them on an image.

PicEdit has a restore button that acts as multiple undos to reset the image to its initial state. However this didn’t work when I applied several random lines to an image.

PicEdit does not write to the system registry and should run on Windows XP and newer.