Friday, February 23, 2007


Do you wonder if your spouse, kids, or network administrator is rifling through your, um, sensitive files on your hard drive? Wouldn't it be nice to know that you could store your pr0n, proprietary source code, or top secret spreadsheets in a place that only you could access? Well that's where TrueCrypt comes in.

TrueCrypt creates an encrypted file on your hard drive that you can mount as a regular Windows or Linux drive. Once mounted, this virtual drive reads and writes just like a normal drive, except that the contents are encrypted and decrypted on the fly. Encryption is 256-bit, so it's very unlikely that anyone is going to be breaking into it anytime soon.

Another cool feature of TrueCrypt is inner and outer passwords. Let's say you're a spy carrying top-secret info, such as naked pictures of Hillary Clinton. Well if Hillary's goons get hold of you, they might try to strong-arm you into giving them the pics. With TrueCrypt, you can store a few files that look secret in the outer vault, but the really good stuff is in the inner vault. If you feel like you're in danger, you give them the outer vault password to get them off your back and hopefully spare your fingers from getting broken. Obviously they don't see the inner vault stuff, so you can rush it to the Enquirer after you've been let go.

To anyone accessing your drive, the TrueCrypt file is just a mass of unreadable garbage, and you can rest assured that no one will be accessing your files. When you are through reading and writing to your encrypted drive, simply unmount it and everything is safe and sound. TrueCrypt is free, has Windows and Linux versions, and also can be used on USB drives. Go get it before your wife finds all of your pr0n...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Screenshot Captor

I thought I had already reviewed this fine piece of software, but due to laziness, parenthood, and my job, it somehow slipped my mind. All bullshit aside, go get Screenshot Captor now, whether you think you need it or not. Because you do -- you really do.

"So what's so damn hot about this program?" you might be asking yourself. Well, I'll tell you. Screenshot Captor (I'm going to call it SC from here on out) can capture all or any portion of your screen, then allows you to enhance the captured image with borders, arrows, text, transparent shapes, and even blur the background to highlight certain screen elements. It will capture long screen areas such as web pages that need to be scrolled, and can even capture its own image if you happen to be writing a software review and need a screenshot of the tool that takes the screenshots.

Our QA department was using SnagIt to capture screenshots for reporting bugs, but once I told them about SC, they let their licenses expire because SC did everything SnagIt did, but for free. Even though I don't use it in my daily work, I use SC at least every few days to capture images for software reviews, and for use on my StumbleUpon page.

If you have even a remote chance of needing to capture your screen, get Screenshot Captor. It's a fantastic piece of software and you can't beat the price -- free. The fine folks at DonationCoder have done it again.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Miranda Instant Messenger

I originally picked Trillian as my instant messenger client of choice because it supported multiple protocols and had a skinnable interface. I maintained my allegiance to Trillian until a co-worker pestered me to try Miranda. The only thing that intrigued me about Miranda was that it supported Jabber, and the only way to get Jabber support in Trillian was to pay $25. I have no problem buying software if it warrants it, but in this case it didn't. So I installed Miranda, along with the Miranda IM Pack, and was instantly hooked.

Beside the fact that it is free, supports just about every protocol under the sun, and is skinnable, Miranda does just about anything you'd want an IM client to do. You can customize every aspect of your contact list, and their plugin architecture has yielded a lot of support. RSS feeds and letting the world know what Winamp tune you're currently listening to are just a few of the plugins that are included in the Miranda pack, and there are a lot more out there.

Miranda is definitely my current choice for an IM client because of its cost (free), protocol support, plugins, and customization options. The only complaint about Miranda is that it is almost too configurable, and finding the location of an option to change is sometimes difficult. Other than that, it's awesome.