Desktop gadgets are simple little tools that add simple little features to the desktop in Windows 7 and Vista. Simple, yes, but extremely useful. The most popular gadgets are clocks, calendars weather displays, Web feeds--stuff you need often and want fast. Clocks make great gadgets because there are so many ways to improve on the box-standard Windows system tray clock. We took a peek at ActiveX Clock Gadget, a free digital clock display that automatically changes hues. It works on 32-bit editions of Windows Vista and 7 with up-to-date ActiveX controls, or you can download a version for Windows XP.… Read more
As long as your system is performing to expectations, there's no reason to risk trouble by weed-whacking your registry. On the other hand, tossing out junk left behind by Web sites and programs can boost your system's performance. If you like the idea of a free system cleaner but are put off by tools that do too much or don't offer enough user control, try AppCleaner. Like the others, AppCleaner finds and removes old, obsolete, and broken files, freeing up disk space and system resources, but only where you tell it to look. It offers several secure … Read more
We know we're not alone in a tendency to whip open a new text file to jot down some notes and then save it haphazardly, until you reach a point where you've got multiple notes on the same issue instead of one properly labeled text file containing all the notes pertaining to whatever the heck it was you thought was so important that you had to write a note about it in the first place. If you can see where this is going, then Text File Joiner might be for you. It's a free tool that lets … Read more
DNAML's PDF to ePub converts e-books formatted as PDFs into the industry-standard ePub format in six quick steps. It can convert an unlimited number of files and automatically split the output into segments that conserve device memory. It even offers a scripting language option for advanced users.
PDF to ePub's gray-skinned interface combines a wizard with a conventional file menu. The program opens with Step 1, Select PDF file, which involves browsing to a file and selecting one of three output file types: ePub, HTML, or Kindle (mobi). However, when we clicked Next, we received a Product Activation … Read more
Trying to create an employee schedule--especially when many of your employees are part time or have limited availability--can be an especially infuriating puzzle. ABC Roster is an easy-to-use program that can take at least some of the hassle out of this important managerial task.
The program's interface is attractive and fairly intuitive, with an optional wizard that can walk you through the steps of creating a schedule for the first time. We were surprised by the number of features that ABC Roster has; you can assign skill levels to each employee and set the minimum average skill level per … Read more
TransTools, or Translator Tools, adds a useful set of free translation-related utilities to Microsoft Word, Excel, and Visio and Autodesk AutoCAD. It speeds up translations, checks to see that translations are complete, localizes numbers, and performs other useful functions from inside these powerful applications.
TransTools installed itself in our copy of Word by default, but we could check boxes to install it inside Excel, Visio, and AutoCAD. We clicked Add-Ins on Word's toolbar and selected the TransTools menu. From this menu, we could perform a Language Check, including finding and removing highlighted words. We could also replace multiple items … Read more
JPEGsnoop is a free image decoder that wrings every drop of data that can be extracted from JPEG images. It's compact and fully portable, so you can take it along with you on a USB drive or other memory device and run it from any compatible Windows machine without having to install it. It can open not just JPEGs but also AVI, DNG, PDF, and THM files, and it also extracts embedded JPEG files. As for the data it extracts, we didn't know that JPEGs contained so much information.
We extracted JPEGsnoop's compressed download and opened the … Read more
JB Music Catalog is a personal database for music lovers and collectors. It catalogs your CDs, LPs, tapes, MP3s, and more with a level of detail few other databases can match at any price, yet it's also freeware. It's highly customizable in its look, layout, and properties. It incorporates a music player and can generate detailed reports and discographies, too.
To open JB Music Catalog, you must first create a new catalog or open an existing catalog. We created a new catalog, which involves either changing or accepting the default name and directory in Explorer. The program opened … Read more
Media players are a dime a dozen, which makes it hard for them to stand out from the crowd. Media Player Classic Home Cinema is another contender in the category, but its glitchy performance failed to impress us enough to make the switch from our current player.
The program's user interface is as basic as it gets, which isn't a bad thing. A menu runs across the top of the window, offering navigational options: File, View, Play, Navigate, Favorites, and Help. A bar with buttons for playing, pausing, stopping, and skipping forward and backward resides at the bottom … Read more
Desktop Ticker is a free scrolling RSS feed display that you can place anywhere on the desktop for an unobtrusive yet instantly accessible and highly customizable news crawl. It's easy to use yet offers lots of options. It can follow news, stocks, and pretty much any other feed you can subscribe to.
Desktop Ticker's small dock-style interface resembles a ticker tape, only with small directional arrows at either end for quickly scrolling forward and back and, on the right, an icon to minimize the display and close the program. A left-side menu has three entries: File, for managing … Read more