10 free web tools you didn’t know about

10 free web tools you didn’t know about
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First Published: Tue, Jun 16 2009. 08 42 PM IST

Updated: Tue, Jun 16 2009. 08 42 PM IST
ShowDocument
Do you have to conduct a Net meeting or Web conference where you also need to share documents, work the whiteboard, or discuss particular elements on a Web page—all collaboratively, across continents? Try this file-sharing and Web-meeting platform. You can set up any of the above and mail the join-in code to your cohorts. They simply arrive at the site, type in the code to join you online for synchronized co-browsing, commenting, or editing. Any uploaded file or Web page can be marked with a pen/highlighter tool, etc. during sessions.
CopyTaste
This Web tool allows you to create specific private URLs for data that you want to share. All you need to do is copy-paste what you want to share—be it quotes, stories, tips, or uploading an image or video—and simply mail people the specially generated URL. You can make your page private or public, allow comments and post formatting-rich text. Sadly, the site is vague on instructions and this can be galling. No registration required.
MonkeyOn
Getting things done by people can be quite a job sometimes. Here’s a website that takes on the onerous task of constantly auto-prodding (politely termed reminding) them into action until the deed is done. Quite simply, the tool allows you to create a to-do list (along with associated deadlines) for others. MonkeyOn then keeps sending them reminders (termed “monkey on their back”) until they complete the task and activate a kill process to silence the reminders. Registration is very simple. No monkey business, this.
PDF to Excel
Culling data from tables in a PDF file can be tough when it involves tedious key entry. PDF to Excel makes the task of creating editable XLS files faster and easier. It can create reusable tabular data that can be edited in Excel, OpenOffice, or Google Docs. All you need to do is go to the site, upload the PDF file you want to extract table data from, hit the “convert PDF to XLS” switch, and enter the email ID where you want the XLS sent. No registration, no verification needed.
OldVersion
Software upgrades are good. But sometimes the bloated features do not agree with your PC’s working capabilities or your relearning abilities. Or you may have developed an affinity to a particular feature that has been killed off in a subsequent version. Instead of sitting and cursing coders, check out this site that gives you older versions of various programs. These range from instant messaging (IM) to security, multimedia to utilities, the Internet and enterprise-level stuff. Very useful also if you have an older-generation working PC stowed away somewhere.
DocJax
Yes, there’s Google, Bing, Wolfram and many other nosey search engines to dig out whatever you’re looking for. DocJax, however, is a search engine for burrowing explicitly into documents such as text docs, spreadsheet files, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs and e-books on the World Wide Web. Once you spot what you need, you can either browse it online or download it. The service is co-powered by Google as well as Yahoo And there are some 187,748 free e-books you can also browse here.
Superminder
Everyone needs reminders. But often, the problem with to-do lists is that they’re far too lean and simplistic. And calendar reminders tend to be a shade too complicated to set up for trivial stuff. Superminder is a tidy Web app with a clean, easy-to-understand interface that attempts to marry the simplicity of a to-do list with the orderliness of a calendar. Large fonts and buttons, minimal typing requirements and a reminder service that nudges you about impending to-dos and events via mail make it a very agreeable tool to use. You can receive SMS reminders on the go as well, if you are willing to fork out cash.
Answering machine for Instant Messaging
As the name suggests, here’s a useful auto answering machine for instant messaging. Answer.IM lets you stay online even when your PC has been switched off. The service supports MSN, Google Chat, ICQ, AIM, Yahoo and MySpace, along with some others. Be aware, however, that the service is not always dependable. It can work erratically at times. Due to the heavy load on its servers, your account may get booted out after a day or so.
Cometdocs
This is a happy little nook to help you with online conversion of documents. And, contrary to its name, it doesn’t do doc files alone. It can handle Audio, PowerPoint, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, PDF, Excel, etc. In fact, there’re about 50 types of online conversion options here. Depending on the complexity and version, the formatting of the resultant documents is fairly true to the original. So next time Zamzar ( www.zamzar.com ) doesn’t give you what you need, you know where to look.
Bubbl.us
Several brainstorming and mind-mapping software downloads let you outline your thought streams as they come. But an online mind-mapping service such as Bubbl.us is good because it is platform-independent (Windows, Mac or Linux), always accessible if you are connected to the Web, and allows cooperative collaboration from colleagues who may not even be present. This easy-to-use thought plotter allows an unlimited number of undos, colour control, onscreen help. You can invite friends to collaborate, export the chart as a PNG or JPEG file, or as an XML or HTML chart to embed online. You can fool around with it without registering. But you’ll have to register eventually to use the service. Very neat stuff.
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CONNECT
How to open files with unfamiliar extensions
What would you do if someone sent you a .GAN file? Or one that ended with .DJV? Or something with a .MD5 tail? Or, for that matter, any file type that you’re unfamiliar with? Instead of foaming at the mouth and flapping your arms about in frustration, we suggest you follow through to OpenWith ( www.openwith.org ). Besides offering detailed information about most file extensions that you can encounter, the site conveniently provides links to free programs that you can download and open such atypical files with.
Ashish Bhatia
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Check out Nero’s new BackItUp and Burn software
For those whose computers bulge at the seams with photos, documents, music and videos. Nero’s new BackItUp and Burn software, $50 in the box ($40 to download), offers lots of space to park copies of all your files. It even guides first-time users through setting up a backup session, but it offers more advanced controls for experts who want to manually adjust options such as compression and encryption settings. It runs on Windows XP and later versions, and can also make a disaster recovery disc of your OS to get the computer running after any unfortunate incident.
©2009/ THE NEW YORK TIMES
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Microsoft’s new compact webcam
Looking for a good webcam? Check out the Microsoft LifeCam VX-5500 (Rs3,781, http://is.gd/134hB). The 1.3 megapixel webcam with a built-in microphone can deliver superb VGA video-imaging even in low-light conditions. Its collapsible design makes it a compact travel companion. The clever claw-like base can also grip notebook screen frames. Interchangeable faceplates and 3D video effects add to the fun. It supports Windows Live Messenger, Skype and other video instant messengers. Downers? Mac incompatibility and average software.
Ashish Bhatia
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Connect to Wi-Fi spots easily
WeFi, an app that runs on Nokia and other Windows Mobile phones, helps you locate Wi-Fi hot spots and can connect you automatically. It runs in the background, looking for the best open Wi-Fi signal and, when it finds a good connection, signs the phone on. From the WeFi app screen, you can see how many verified spots are within range, how many are open and how many require logging in. The spots you find are sent back to WeFi, which creates a map that can be searched online using a computer.
©2009/ THE NEW YORK TIMES
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First Published: Tue, Jun 16 2009. 08 42 PM IST