Did They Read Your E-Mail? When?
The problem: You send out an important e-mail message reminding your coworker to bring copies of your PowerPoint presentation to the big meeting. You get there, and he doesn't have them. His excuse: He never got your e-mail. Possible, but questionable; anyway, you want to know for sure.
The trick: Send messages you want to monitor through DidTheyReadIt. The Web site embeds a tiny image in each e-mail it sends. When the e-mail is opened, the recipient's e-mail client, in many cases, will automatically send a request for the embedded image; when that request is made, DidTheyRead then knows that the e-mail was indeed opened, when it was opened, and for how long it was open.
The effect: If you really need to be sure that someone received a particular message, DidTheyReadIt works as advertised. The only catch: If the recipient's e-mail client doesn't automatically download embedded images, DidTheyReadIt's tracking mechanism may not work.
Create a Web-Streaming Spycam
The problem: You want to keep a closer eye on your kids when you're away without having to buy a nanny cam.
The trick: The free application WebcamXP streams video from your Webcam over the Internet so you can keep an eye on your home from anywhere. If you have a Webcam with a tracking motor, WebcamXP can even control the pan and tilt of the camera over the Internet, giving you full control over what you're seeing.
The effect: The application works very well, though the free version supports just one video source. Upgrading to one of the shareware versions gives you motion detection, and the ability to hook up and view feeds from multiple Webcams.
Crack a Windows Password
The problem: You lost your Windows password (or you want to discover someone else's). Now you have no way to fully access your account without getting it back.
The trick: Download Ophcrack Live CD and burn it to a disc; then restart your computer and boot from the CD. Point Ophcrack at the hard drive where Windows is installed, and it'll start cracking your Windows password.
The effect: The shorter and simpler the Windows password, the more quickly and easily Ophcrack will break it. But Ophcrack can only crack alphanumeric passwords. If the password contains other characters or symbols (like "@"), Ophcrack won't do the job.
Read Books on the D.L. at Work
The problem: Whether or not you've got any work to do, most employers frown on cracking a book at your desk.
The trick: Web site Read at Work is a full-screen Flash application that mimics a Windows desktop and serves up public-domain works in a format that resembles PowerPoint presentations. Classics by Twain, Fitzgerald, Dickinson, and Tolstoy are all yours to read on company time. (Well, if it's Tolstoy, you might rather just work).
The effectiveness: To the casual onlooker, Read at Work convincingly looks like a standard Windows XP window. Whether or not your boss will believe that the Oscar Wilde you're reading is actually a PowerPoint presentation depends on your boss. And it helps if reading PowerPoint presentations is actually part of your job.