The Trouble-Free PC

Other Must-Haves

Seeing Is Believing

VisualRoute 2005 is great for sniffing out the story behind a sluggish network connection. Simple to use, this Java-based graphical trace-routing program puts a pretty face on the dull, text-based output of the old DOS TRACERT utility, which tracks the network path between your PC and the Web site you're trying to reach. Launch the program and type a URL into the Address box, and you'll receive the response times of the long list of servers involved in the connection. This utility could use a more polished map interface and a display of top-level network nodes and backbone networks. It would also be nice if the continent of Australia weren't missing on the global map. $50

Better Clipboard Management

The Windows clipboard is the junk drawer of the Internet generation. ClipCache transforms it into a virtual library for keeping frequently used tidbits such as a digital image of your signature or stock e-mail message closings. Click an item in the compact ClipCache program window and immediately paste it into your applications and documents using the standard Windows paste function (Ctrl-V). ClipCache also lets you set up topical folders for dragging and dropping copied objects and files. The text cleanup function removes indents, special characters, and hard carriage returns to turn munged e-mail threads into clean, pasteable text. $20

Beep This

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best. A boon for users of Microsoft Word and other text-based applications, Insert Toggle Key prevents you from typing over existing text after accidentally hitting the Insert key. Launch the application, and your PC beeps whenever you press the offending key. Donation requested

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