Free software site makes programs that
compete with big-buck Windows applications
READER BRIAN GANLEY wrote in, full
of praise about a Web site called AnalogX. Sure, there are shareware
and freeware sites up the wazoo, and I could write 52 columns a year
about nothing but the latest shareware. But it turns out Ganley is
onto something useful.
One programmer, Mark Thompson, has created over
the past year or so a vast library of useful Windows utilities, all
of which are available for free.
Thompson's collection is refreshing. Instead of
Web pages filled with 20 nearly identical Windows clocks to
download, Thompson offers a select list of tools designed to match
expensive software, but for free.
Here's a sampling of downloads from the system,
network, and programming sections at www.analogx.com/contents/news.htm.
Pop-up killer. Irritated when Web sites
hosted by GeoCities, Tripod, and others make new browser windows pop
up unbidden? Wish you could make them stop?
AnalogX's Pow utility does the trick.
Designed to work with Internet Explorer,
Netscape, and NeoPlanet browsers, Pow is easily configured to close
annoying intrusions for you.
Server on a diskette. SimpleServer is a
full-featured Web server that takes up only 140KB, Thompson says.
This allows you to run a server on your PC to play with HTML code
that may not be ready for prime time and enables others to test the
pages on your local Web server.
A cousin, SimpleServer:Shout, creates small
Internet radio stations that support the Shoutcast streaming MP3
Zoom in on performance. NetStat Live shows
you the speed of your data as it moves across the Internet or your
local network. It also graphs the percentage of your CPU that is
being utilized. This is a great way to find out whether slowdowns
are being caused by your machine, your network, your Internet
connection, or something else.
Thompson isn't going broke giving all these
programs away for free. He's a contract programmer based in Phoenix,
who has recently been named vice president of technology at
Aerocast.com, a streaming media company.
In an interview, Thompson said that whenever he
finds an expensive program he doesn't like, he writes his own
version and gives it away free. He's been a developer for more than
10 years, and his no-charge programs seem to have brought him more
attention than they've cost him in time.
Thompson is also a musician with a band named
AnalogX. So he's written many utilities for people who play or
TrackSeek, for instance, is a program that
searches for MP3 files on the Internet. It combines the results from
30 music-oriented search engines, which Thompson says is more than
MP3-Wolf, a $29.95 program, can handle (see www.trellian.com for a
comparison). I first mentioned MP3-Wolf on Dec. 14, 1998 (see "Turn
Windows into a jukebox for all your audio preferences.")
Another music-oriented program is Scratch, which
allows you to use an audio file to make scritch-scritch sounds, as
if you were pushing a vinyl record back and forth. This kind of
studio production tool is great for hep cats like me.
In his spare time, Thompson has cooked up a
separate Web site called Prepal.com that just went live a week ago.
It searches auction sites such as eBay and reports the latest
Go to the site and click Find Price, then click a
link such as "Akai" to see how it works. The site currently indexes
music gear, but Thompson has ambitious plans to expand it to all
kinds of products. You read it here first.
Reader Ganley will receive a free copy of Windows
Me Secrets for being the first to send me a tip I printed.
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