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What time is it?

Sometimes, all it takes is a few minor tweaks to your computer to make you happy. Bring a little sunshine into your life with a new clock, and a better way to do research.

Are you tired of staring at the same little clock setting in your icon tray? If so, you just might be ready for Say the Time. Say the Time replaces your regular Windows time display with an attractive timepiece that announces aloud the date, time, or both, at specified intervals, using your choice of a male or female voice.

The program is very easy to install and get running, with a minimum of decisions to make to get things started. Once the program is installed and running smoothly, however, there are a multitude of options that you’ll want to play with, including the ability to set multiple reminders, each of which can play a sound, display a message, or even run a program at a specified time. The reminders can be scheduled just once, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly, and you can specify the starting and ending dates for repeating reminders.

Say the Time also lets you customize your taskbar clock with a variety of colors, textures, and fonts, and will let you display both the date as well as the time in your choice of formats. You can also view the moon phase as well as upcoming reminders, all simply by clicking on the time or date. And, like most replacement shareware clocks, Say the Time lets you synchronize your PC’s clock with an atomic clock server, either manually or via an automatic schedule.

With the ability to customize the look and feel of the program, Say the Time is a welcome change from the traditional Windows tray icon clock. What I’ve enjoyed the most about the software, however, is the ability to schedule and announce reminders. Left to my own devices, I’d spend countless hours sitting on the PC, writing articles, reading my e-mail, and surfing the web. The reminders (as well as the voice announcements) serve as a break, giving me the impetus to get up and perform a chore or two before getting back to the keyboard. If you’re like me and spend too much time sitting and staring at your screen, your eyes and back will thank you, even if your optometrist and chiropractor don’t.

A 30-day trial version of Say the Time is available for trial download and costs $20 to register.

Just browsing, thanks

If you’ve ever researched anything on the Web, you know what an exhaustive process it can be. There are thousands of links to just about any major subject, and you’re lucky if you can actually use even 10 percent of what you find. While no program out there will search through the multitude of Web pages and give you exactly the results that you need, Zylox’s Internet Researcher comes awfully close.

Internet Researcher, which is a more powerful version of the company’s Offline Commander, allows you to download, manage, and browse an unlimited collection of Web pages, graphics, and other Internet-accessible resources. The program features a built-in search facility that will help you narrow your parameters, thus avoiding much of the chaff in the wheat field that is the Net. You tell the program exactly what you want it to find and then go to bed; the next morning, your hard drive will be full of data for you to look through and read at your heart’s desire.

Internet Researcher also boasts a fully-integrated Web browser, extensive drag and drop support, the option of saving files to an MS Access database, the ability to copy entire websites to your hard drive, and much more. There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to using Internet Researcher, but it’s relatively easy to get everything up and running and do your first search. Once the program is installed and you’ve downloaded and browsed a few sites you can play with the various options and really get into the meat of the program.

You can download a trial version of Internet Researcher. The demo is limited to downloading 10,000 files (which isn’t as much as you might think) and costs $60 to register.

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