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Never be lost for WordWeb

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

If you like words, I dunno you’re a crossword person or something, then you need WordWeb. WordWeb is a quick and powerful international English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows, which can be accessed to look up words from almost any program running on Windows, showing definitions, synonyms and related words. It also like any good dictionary includes pronunciations and usage, and spelling and my favorite “sounds-like” links for when you have a senior moment and look up the wrong word but it sounds the same.

The downloadable WordWeb is a free cut-down version of the Pro version of the software. It includes a comprehensive English thesaurus and dictionary, includes definitions and synonyms, proper nouns, related words, and pronunciations. The program features over 140 000 words, with around 115 000 synonyms, and allows you to look up words in almost any program simply and quickly. Apparently “millions of people from all over the world use this top-rated software“. News to me. This is the first I’ve heard of it. Sounds very cool though.

Get it here.

ArcExplorer gets geographical

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

If you are someone who uses Geographic Information System (GIS) files then this might interest you. ArcExplorer lets you display and otherwise probe a variety of standard geographical data sources. As a stand-alone desktop application, you can look at ESRI shapefiles, ArcInfo files, various sorts of image files, even Spatial Database Engine layers, and a bit more.

You can pan and zoom through map layers and interact with all the attribute information. You can also colour up map features based on data in the files, and present the data in a variety of other ways too. The really cool part is of course as the software is free you can re-distribute the ArcExplorer software and your data to your users, who can then install ArcExplorer on their machines and view your data as easily and effectively as you did.

There are editions of the software for Java (which basically offers cross-platform support for Windows, UNIX, and Linux), a Java Edition for Education (primarily for the Macintosh OS X platform, but also Windows) and then there’s ArcExplorer Web which you can use directly from your Web browser.

Follow this link to download ArcExplorer for free.

Model the Earth with SketchUp

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Being a 3D expert I’m always keen to hear about new 3D object creation software. I was aware of SketchUp before, but now of course it is a Google product and the engine of choice for making new objects for Google Earth.

The program is a simple but powerful tool for rapid prototyping of objects. Just make the shapes and pull them around in the interface. Colour and texture are easily editable. And also lighting is easy to adjust and preview. In fact real-time shadow casting lets you see exactly where the sun falls on your object as you work.

There are a huge amount of pre-drawn shapes to get you going, so you get a leg up into a job rather than having to start from scratch all the time. Once you’ve built your models, you can place them in Google Earth or post them to the 3D Warehouse.

The program works with both Mac or PC and you can get it here.

Zone Alarm checks for intruders

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Okay I haven’t tried Zone Alarm for a while and it’s much improved since I saw it last. I didn’t used to like it very much because it used to subject me to many alarms which were just normal functions of programs I was using. In case you don’t know what it is, it is an easy-to-use firewall software which blocks hackers and other unknown threats from barging into your computer and breaking the place up.

The program identifies hackers and blocks access attempts, giving you an alert and letting you know what’s under attack and from where. The software automatically makes your computer invisible to anyone on the Internet. Better or worse than the built in Firewall software in Windows? Hmm, can’t really tell you, but it is easier to see what is going on. XP firewall just sits there telling you it’s working, but it never tells you at what.

Go to the web space and get your copy.

Get back into code with Visual Basic

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

I miss BASIC. I used to code all the time when all computers had BASIC built in, now I hardly ever even think about it let alone write a line of code. But recently I’ve been getting the urge and I just noticed that the Visual Studio series has Express versions, like Visual Basic.

You can easily design great-looking applications using the simple drag-and-drop interface designer. ANd using themes you can make apps that have that XP look. To help you debug your code, there is Code colorization, syntax checking, and what it calls “IntelliSense” which provides an kind of interactive suggestions and code snippets, I think. That’s not something I’ve tried yet. But AutoCorrect is very cool. It’s like the spell checker in Word and can suggest corrections apparently for over 230 common programming mistakes.

To learn more about getting back into code, go see Visual Basic Express on the Microsoft web.

Opera sings on the Net

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Most people I know these days use Firefox. It’s a fast, secure tabbed browser that isn’t made by Microsoft, so scores big with all my PC and Mac friends. But Opera has been around longer and has some cool features too. I’m currently road testing the new version to see if I’ll migrate, and not sure at the moment.

It has advanced fraud protection which protects you against sites that try to steal your personal information. It speaks BitTorrent so you can (cough) download files. You can add your favorite search engines to it easily and quickly, although most people I know only use the one, maybe two. There’s a bunch of other features like widgets, content and pop-up blockers. It’s all very good. Good enough to win me away from Firefox? Hmm, the jury is still out on that one.
For more info and a download go to the Opera Web.

Videozilla makes conversion a snap

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

78909879-0900.jpgVideozilla is a video conversion tool for converting video files from and to a variety of different file types really easily. Supporting AVI, MPEG, RM, MOV, ASF, WMV, SWF, FLV, MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2 all the hard work is done with a simple a right-click on the video files. You can also do rudimentary editing, setting your own start and end points in a video. You can also change width and height, video and audio quality etc, all on the fly.

You can also do audio extraction from video and save as audio as an industry standard MP3 or WAV. A fabulous add on to any Windows machine. Once you have it you’ll wonder how you got along without it. Shareware product so be prepared to shell out the cash because this one is real good.

Nullsoft Winamp makes a play

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

1234567898765434567890-09876.jpgWinAMP is one of those must have programs. Some people swear by Windows Media Player but I’ve always found it to be a little bit dull. WinAMP has way better skins and visualizations.

With it you have access to their own Digital Music Store containing over 2,500,000 songs,and a thing called In2TV which is free episodes of classic TV streamed direct to your player. Also you have portable device support for iPod®, PlaysForSure®, and Creative® Devices. The player supports SHOUTcasts and also rips CDs to disc.

WinAMP is the cool audio player of choice. The pro version will cost you $20, but the free version is still available so check it out at

MapleXP not all syrup

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

If you have an attention problem, like ADD or ADHD, two things are possible. 1) you have trouble concentrating on the task in hand, and 2) you have probably stopped reading this by now so who cares? Maybe you don’t have ADHD, but you are just VERY busy. How do you manage your time?

It helps to manage something you can quantify or measure. The MapleXp application gives you the ability to track a number of projects at a time and analyze how much time went into each of the tasks. After processing a project can be divided into a hierarchy of tasks, a structure, which allows for very precise tracking of working time and also if you think about it planning future projects based on the data.

Really boring looking but very powerful. Get it here and start managing your projects with class.

Tarot Dictionary spreads the future

Friday, December 15th, 2006

tarot.jpgMB Free Tarot Dictionary is exactly that, a cross referenced dictionary of Tarot terms. But it’s a little more than that too. You get the meanings of different spreads, the layouts you do with the cards, plus you get information about decks, individual cards, and symbolism and other meanings.

It’s all very clearly explained, but I suspect you have to have an interest in Tarot to begin with or not much of it will make sense. This is not a beginners tool, although as a supplement to other tools like a really good book on the subject,it will be very helpful.

It’s more of a glossary that a reference guide, but will be of use to experts and intermediate users alike. Get it from the author’s web site.

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