If you have a dial-up modem on your computer and broadband Internet, chances are that modem isn’t getting much use. Here’s your chance to make it useful and solve a number of phone headaches at the same time. PhoneTray takes data off inbound calls – showing caller ID info on screen and announcing callers via audio. You can configure ringtones for various callers to help identify whether a call is worth answering or not. Zap telemarketers with a special tone (which works for some but not all marketing calls). PhoneTray can also play a do not call warning and block unwanted callers automatically. Additionally, PhoneTray provides call logging, so you have a record of inbound calls on your computer. [Windows 9x/2k/XP $0.00]
If you use Ctrl+C more than a couple of times daily, you really need a clipboard manager. I happen to really like ClipMagic, because in addition to storing the text I copy, it also stores the URL I got it from (if it came from a Web page), offers handy categories for clipboard items, and makes it a snap to recall previously copied text. ClipMagic saves tons of time for things like sending similar messages to multiple recipients via email. It’s especially handy for recalling something you copied a few Ctrl+C combos back, because you won’t have to track down that text again as you do with a standard Ctrl+C operation. ClipMagic also includes a handy feature that lets you merge two copied items together. For personal use ClipMagic is totally free making it hard to pass up. If you use it for business, the $20 it costs will be made up in increased productivity. [Windows 9x/2k/XP/Vista $0.00]
Also from this software developer:
Macro Scheduler Automation Tool
QuickButtons Application Launcher
Who wouldn’t want a sweet and adorable fairy soaring across a beautiful fantasy landscape on their desktop? Okay, maybe not me, but if you’ve got kids (or grandchildren) or are a kid at heart, this is a fun freeware screensaver that entertains while the computer is idle. Taken from the game Feyruna Fairy Forest, the screensaver features animaged scenes with the fairy using dazzling spells to defend herself against evil goblins and blazing firebirds. If you keep your speakers on, Feyruna Fairy Forest screensaver also includes the option to turn on some ambient music and sound effects. The animations are great non-violent stuff and make for something more compelling than watching a Windows Media Player visualization or iTunes Cover Flow. [Windows 9x/2k/XP/Vista $0.00]
You can also download the Feyruna Fairy Forest game.
Automatic sync between Google Calendar and Outlook is one of the more popular things I’ve ever written about. Previous solutions ranged from a clumsy add-on for Outlook called RemoteCalendars and a handful of solutions that cost money. As of today, Google officially supports calendar sync with Outlook using their very own Google Calendar Sync freeware app. You need both Outlook and a free Google Apps account to use the app, but I’m highly impressed with the simplicity and speed of the official Google product. I downloaded the app and had complete sync of all my Outlook items within under 10 minutes. I’m currently defaulting to the 120 minute update timeframe, but you can update more frequently if your calendar changes more often. If you’re a Plaxo user, you’ll also now get a convenient way to get from Google Calendar to Plaxo by way of Outlook. [Windows XP/Vista $0.00]
Great freeware image animation apps are hard to come by. Most of the free stuff is either entirely confusing to use or so completely lacking in features as to make it useless. Beneton Movie GIF fits right in the sweet spot of image animating apps, providing both a simple interface for creating animations with enough features to create something you won’t be ashamed of when you finish. While the title implies being a GIF only app, Beneton Movie GIF supports JPG, GIF and BMP files for input. Output is either animated GIF files or AVI video you can then use in other apps. Import frames, drag them to the location you want, then set various properties for each of the frames. A handful of image effects allow you to tweak things like motion blurring, image rotation, and color blending, in addition to also being able to animate transitions between frames. Some basic image editing is also built-in, making tweaking your images a breeze without needing to launch an external editor too. [Windows 2k/XP/Vista $0.00]
Copy the contents from one smaller hard drive to a larger one, without needing to reformat or reinstall your operating system. HDClone installs on a bootable CD, including it’s own OS, making it compatible with any desktop operating system. Once you’ve made the boot disk, simply boot into the HDClone interface, copy the contents of your old drive to the new larger drive, and when you’re finished, you can completely swap out the older drive for the new one, saving tons of time you would have spent installing new programs and hassling with copying file to the new drive. HDClone works with any IDE, ATA, or SATA drive, with copy speeds of approximately 300MB/minute. The software works with both PS/2 style keyboard and mouse combinations, as well as with USB interface devices. If you need additional copy features, there are several fee versions of HDClone as well. [Windows 9x/2k/XP/Vista $0.00]
Lost your cat and want help finding it? Lost and found posters are a common way to get the job done. Love those one-word motivational posters available at bookstore, but want to create your own? Look no further than Poster Forge, a freeware app that’s like a lite version of expensive tools like Microsoft Publisher. You supply the photo, choose from preconfigured layouts, customize fonts, enter text, and size the whole project, then save out a file ready for printing as a poster. The core movie poster, motivational poster, and wanted poster styles are all fully customizable making it easy to get what you need from the poster. If your poster is larger than what’s supported by your home printer, Poster Forge automatically prints sections across multiple pages so you can tile them together to create a finished product. [Windows 2k/XP/Vista $0.00]
I’ve seen many instances where a well intentioned person deleted important Windows Operating System files, thinking they were freeing up space, only to find out that they completely destroyed their computer. While you may think ‘this can’t happen to me,’ if you share a computer with anyone (kids, spouse, in-laws) you are putting your computing sanity at risk. Enter System Protect, an application designed to prevent the accidental deletion of important system files. You can also protect documents and files you don’t want deleted. Using System Protect is a handy way to help make sure a virus doesn’t futz with your system too. The downside is you’ll have to enter a password to make some kinds of changes to your system, but particularly for Windows XP, this can cut down on unwanted support headaches and may just save you from losing data. [Windows 2k/XP/Vista $0.00]
FastStone Photo Resizer is a handy tool if you take lots of photos. As the name implies this is a photo editing tool specializing in image resizing, but it does so much more. Crop, watermark, rotate, rename, and otherwise tweak your photos so that they are more meaningful than the raw IMG_00112.jpg label offered up by your computer either one-at-a-time or in batches. Create saved settings you can reuse on future batches of photos. Add text and borders to images to dress them up for publishing. This is a generally slick tool for making sure you breeze through those hundreds of images you’ve stacked up on your digital cameras flash memory card. There’s a handy self-contained version that runs off of thumb drives if you frequently use public computers. The company also makes a screen capture app that I reviewed previously. [Windows 9x/2k/XP/Vista $0.00]
You may also want to try Visualizer Photo Resize.
I have around 10 years of emails backed up, with the most recent three years of my mail still in my Outlook PST file. A large percentage of that stuff is useless, but there are times when I do open old archives and reference my mail. Having that much mail either buts into software limitations, or becomes unmanageable in a working environment, especially if you’ve changed applications over time (for example going from Outlook Express to Thunderbird). MailStore Home lets you archive all the mail you don’t need ready access to in a MIME compatible format that remains searchable with complex queries. Better yet, MailStore Home consolidates mail across multiple email clients into one handy location so it can all be searched from one common location. You never encumber your primary email client this way, because you shuffle your mail off to an archive. And you’re never bothered with re-importing a mail file you want to access later. MailStore also conserves more space by saving only one copy of an attachment, instead of storing a copy with every message where the same file appears. If you really want to open a specific message in your current mail client, you can re-import that one message instead of sifting through your entire email history. The whole thing is reasonably future proof by storing mail in as MIME compatible messages instead of a proprietary database structure like Outlook’s PST system. [Windows 2k/XP/Vista $0.00]