Category Archive: Utilities

Sep 23

FormatFactory Centralizes DVD Ripping, Media Conversion

Windows only: Free media file converter FormatFactory is a handy all-in-one utility for taking one kind of audio, video, or picture file and converting it to another. The interface is a dead-simple drag-and-drop affair, and it’s meant for running batches of files through converters—FLVs to Windows Media, MPEGs to iPod-friendly video, DVDs to DivX files, etc. You won’t get a lot of options for quality control, compression rate, or other tweaks, but for some folks, that’s really a benefit. FormatFactory is a free download for Windows systems only.

Sep 16

Turn Gmail into a Tagged Knowledge Base

Blogger and information junkie Steve Rubel details how he uses Gmail as a taggable, searchable knowledge base using previously mentioned tricks and tools like Gmail plus addresses, the Ubiquity Firefox extension, and Gmail Labs Quick Links. It’s a fantastic system, not only because it works perfectly with apps you already live in (namely Gmail), but also because you can save and tag an entire web page in a few keystrokes. Likewise, you can access the information quickly and easily with Gmail’s excellent search. I recently detailed how you can expand your brain with Evernote, a free, cross-platform note-taking application, but if you live and breath Gmail, Rubel’s methods (which improve on similar Gmail solutions we’ve seen before) are worth a try.

Aug 02

Monitor Your Monthly Bandwidth with Your Router

In the face of internet service providers like Comcast instituting bandwidth-capping, the Simple Help weblog details how to use a router running the open-source DD-WRT firmware to monitor your bandwidth. It’s actually very simple to do, requiring no work on your part aside from installing DD-WRT on your router. DD-WRT automatically tracks bandwidth, so from there it’s a matter of knowing where to look. If you’re running the user-friendly Tomato firmware (we also showed you how to install Tomato), you can easily access your daily, weekly, or monthly bandwidth as well.

Like DD-WRT, Tomato automatically tracks bandwidth usage for you, so all you need to know is where to look. Just log into the Tomato interface, and then click on the Monthly link under Bandwidth in the sidebar (or, if you’re using a default configuration, just follow this link). You’ll get a simple table displaying your bandwidth stats for the month. Tomato also displays bandwidth use by week, day, and even in real-time if you’re interested.

I’ve used DD-WRT and Tomato exclusively over the past few years, so I’m not really sure what the status is for bandwidth monitoring on most default router firmware. If your router supports bandwidth monitoring, let’s hear about it in the comments.