Download This: Back Up Your Brain
Your PC isn't the only device that runs low on memory. Most of your important data is in your brain, and it's time you got some backup for it. This month, try out some software to help lighten the load under your thinking cap. We've found a program that condenses all your passwords into one, a helper that pulls up the half-recalled lyrics to songs as you play them, and a puzzle game that won't tax your short-term memory.
Never Say "Darn" Again
Hackers and identity thieves have taught us that unless your dog answers to "Xt7LbP1wO4," the days of using your pet's name as a password are over. Strong passwords are the order of the day, and you need a different one for every site and every important program.
Darn Passwords offers a smart way to store all these strange nonwords. This password keeper conveniently holds all your passwords in the same place, and it's far more secure than a sticky note on your monitor. Just enter the names of the keyed sites and programs, categorize them as you see fit, and assign the appropriate passwords. You can minimize typos by clicking and dragging into Darn Passwords instead of typing, and you can have the program generate strong passwords for you. The only password you'll need to remember is the one that lets you into Darn Passwords itself.
Thornsoft Development offers a 30-day free trial for this $15 program. The company will never, ever tell anyone--even you--what your Darn Passwords password is. You can remember just one, can't you?
In Memory of Lady Mondegreen
Even if you think you know the lyrics to your favorite songs, chances are that you're missing a few of the words. Worse yet, you may have them completely wrong and embarrass yourself by singing mondegreens. (Author Sylvia Wright coined this term when she learned that the Scottish ballad "The Bonnie Earl O'Murray," which she recalled with the lyrics "They hae slay the Earl of Murray / And Lady Mondegreen," actually ran "and laid him on the green.")
Although we at PC World like to think of ourselves as a force for good, this special case calls for EvilLyrics. This freebie checks your PC's music player software for songs, scans over 4 million lyrics, and shows you the lyrics as you listen.
EvilLyrics pulls up searches from several different sites, sparing you the pop-up ads endemic to lyrics sites. If the lyrics from one site don't look right, click the arrow button to check another site's version.
Although EvilLyrics didn't locate lyrics for every single song in a day's rotation on my PC, it found lyrics for all the well-known ones and even transliterations of a few Japanese pop songs. When EvilLyrics couldn't find lyrics for a bonus track on an out-of-print CD, it admitted that it hadn't found them and showed a related page. EvilLyrics won't replace Google searches for hard-to-find lyrics, but it's faster and more convenient than sifting through page after page of search results.
EvilLyrics works with many popular music players, including Winamp and ITunes. A skin downloaded from EvilLyrics maker Evil Laboratories makes it work with Windows Media Player, too.
It's a Puzzler
In this Aztec-themed game, colored balls spiral on tracks around you, rolling ever faster toward the golden skull. You shoot colored balls at the moving strand, matching three or more of a color to clear a spot and score points. If a ball reaches the golden skull, you lose a life.
It takes minutes to learn the basics of Zuma, but this engrossing game has lots of little tweaks and features to keep you hopping. Some tracks go underground; some loop over themselves; and the track can split to allow two golden skulls a chance at ending your fun. You're not without defenses, though. Power-up balls help you stave off the dreaded "Game Over" screen with Slowdown, Reverse, Accuracy, and the satisfying Explosion.
If you click another window, Zuma automatically pauses. I can't promise you won't lose your temper at all the things that come clamoring for your attention, but this feature will keep you from losing your game over them. Test the software on the Web first, then download a short trial if you like. If you're hooked, you can buy it online for $25 without interrupting your game.
PC World Senior Downloads Producer Max Green contributed to this story.