Monday, August 21, 2006

Utility Ten

Ten Things for the Utility Lovers

1. Need a small, fast editor for plain text? Try out AkelPad.

2. Voxelsoft's Alert is a utility that flashes the keyboard's LEDs like an alarm; does sound nifty. Another note: the original link for this one has up and vanished; my apologies to Katherine -- I was getting a cookie every time I clicked. And yes, it's definitely Monday.

3. Create protected CDs with Alternate CD Lock.

4. ArtPlus is offering a lite version of EasyNoter as freeware.

5. Poromenos has an entire page of freeware downloads; people who are disabled or risking CTS should check out Clicker (scroll down), which saves some repetitive movements by clicking the mouse for you. Note: I'm removing this one from the list per Katherine's comments to the post.

6. Jordi's Handwriting Fonts allow you to add a more personal touch to your e-docs.

7. Duomart offers a cool free utility, Laptop Battery Power Monitor (scroll down) which displays a very small battery icon to show you how much power you've got left on your laptop and other status info.

8. ThinkerSoftware's Photo to Sketch is a neat little tool that converts your favorite pics into different types of sketches.

9. Clean up your desktop and organize your icons with Squal and Boerbull's SpeedMenus.

10. Jan Verhoeven offers over 100 different freewares, including a nice collection of various utility programs (click on categories in left sidebar to view details.)

Elsewhere: Tech Support Alert's links list to the 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities.


  1. Anonymous9:23 AM

    The link to Alert is broken.

    Some of the Poromenos downloads are potentially very dangerous, as they are intended to allow various kinds of remote access to your computer and/or network traffic. Fine if you know what you're doing, potentially nightmarish if you don't. Clicker itself appears innocuous, though.

    Most name-brand laptops come with battery monitor software, so it's worth a look around your system before installing a third-party utility.

  2. Anonymous10:07 AM

    Thanks for the very helpful info, Katherine. I struck the Poromenos link off the list. The Alert link is working for me, although it takes a few seconds to load.

  3. Anonymous10:29 AM

    Another brief warning: I know nothing about "Alternate CD Lock" so it might be great software. But I'm not convinced. There's a lot of dubious software out there in this field, and it's very easy to get it wrong.

    I'd suggest (if you want to put stuff on a CD that nobody can read without a password) using TrueCrypt. It isn't hard to use, and a lot of people who know what they're talking about in terms of security software have recommended it. To make a CD, you'd tell it to create a volume that's slightly smaller than a CD, put your files into that volume, then write the file that you created the volume in onto the CD. I'd also put a copy of truecrypt onto the CD with it, in case you ever lose your copy and want to get at the CD data.

    It can also encrypt USB flash disks, which is handy.

  4. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Thanks for the useful links.

    I wonder if you could recommend a good voice recorder program for PC. I would like to record my voice and then input the resulting file to Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 8. In this way I'm hoping to be able to concentrate on novel writing first and then on the Dragon's transcribing process. I know it could be easier to just buy one of those fancy digital recording devices, but they are too expensive for me.

  5. Pencilone,

    If you have Windows XP, there's a Sound Recorder utility included. On my machine, it's located in All Programs, Accessories, Entertainment area. I haven't played with it much, but I don't think there's a limit. It records a .wav file.

  6. Anonymous4:44 AM

    Jean, Cheers. So I still have programs on my PC that I have no clue about. Well spotted! I'll give it a try.

  7. The problem with Sound Recorder, though, is that it won't let you record a sound file that's longer than 60 seconds. There may be a way around this, but if so, I haven't found it.

  8. Anonymous9:45 AM

    Why not just dictate into Dragon directly? I turn my back to the screen and ignore the transcription until later.

  9. Anonymous11:25 AM

    If I dictate directly I get a lot of garbage (and words that have no resemblance to what I was really saying), and that frustrates me a lot at a time when I should be focussing on the story. I wonder if version 9 is better than 8.

    What a pity my Preferred version of the Dragon does not save the audio file too. Only the Professional version allows that (please correct me if I'm wrong).

  10. Anonymous8:38 AM

    Just in case anyone is still interested...
    I have just found Audacity and it's great so far (see
    I've done a test running a recording simultaneously in Audacity and Dragon and then I transcribed the audacity file (exported as .wav file) into Dragon. Comparing the results they were almost identical (about 60% good - but that's maybe just my pronunciation and lack of Dragon training). I was surprised to notice that there were about 2 words that were correct following the Audacity first route and not direct Dragon. So far, so good! At least using Audacity first I have a saved audio to go back to.

  11. Anonymous8:38 PM

    I like the handwriting fonts. Font junkies can find numerous goodies with varying licenses at


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.