Will technology ever catch up?

Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

Attack Of The Tech-Savvy Toddlers – News by InformationWeek

Posted by cascadehush on January 24, 2007

Attack Of The Tech-Savvy Toddlers – News by InformationWeek:

The NPD Group announced results from a survey of American parents with children ages 2 to 14 in its report, Kids & Digital Content. The report said children are becoming more tech-savvy, with children as young as 2 years old downloading content to cell phones, computers, and portable digital music players.

Did you notice who was surveyed? The Kids? No, the parents.

I never cease to be amazed just how often technologically illiterate parents overestimate their children’s tech-savvyness. Usually it doesn’t take much for a child to be a step ahead of their parents. When they are, the parents often assume the child knows much more about the device than they actually do.

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Compare Linux distros side by side – Lifehacker

Posted by cascadehush on January 23, 2007

Compare Linux distros side by side – Lifehacker:

Pro-Linux site polishlinux.org has a new tool that lets you compare Linux distributions side by side.

Too little, too late for me. In the past I have spent many hours searching the web in search of distros, and many more hours struggling with various flavors of Linux.

In the end I run XP on my PC boxes, because for me the windows license is a reasonable price to pay for a system that I can setup quickly with known results. I know XP will work with my hardware. I know it will not crash. I know my software will work, and almost all the best open source software has Windows binaries available.

For those occasions when I get a hankering for something like Unix, I have OSX.

You can access the site directly: polishlinux.org » Compare distros

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OSX: Melman Quicksilver User’s Guide

Posted by cascadehush on January 23, 2007

Melman Quicksilver User’s Guide – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW):

The great thing about Quicksilver is how much functionality it puts at your finger tips. Of course the main problem with Quicksilver is how much functionality it puts at your finger tips!

I must say I still only use it as a launcher. Maybe one day I’ll read Melman’s guide.

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Vista: Lifehacker Vista tips

Posted by cascadehush on January 23, 2007

Windows Vista Tip: Save your searches in virtual folders – Lifehacker

Ever wish you could save the results of a desktop search so you didn’t have to repeat the search in the future? Windows Vista lets you do exactly that with a new feature called Virtual Folders.

Windows Vista Tip: Built-in Quick Launch keyboard shortcuts – Lifehacker

Windows Vista automatically assigns keyboard shortcuts to programs and documents on your Quick Launch bar. Just use the Windows key + the number of the program in the order it appears there.

Much as I dislike it, Vista isn’t all bad.

Of course OSX has had ‘Smart Folders’ for awhile now, and QuickSilver beats just about any other way of launching applications.

Still, these are two handy hits. And if you are going to use vista, you need all the help you can get.

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Vista: Please don’t buy it online

Posted by cascadehush on January 22, 2007

Microsoft to offer Windows Vista online – Yahoo! News:

The download program, being announced late Wednesday by the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker, will also include the Office 2007 line of software when both are released for consumers Jan. 30. At least initially, the huge downloads will be available in North America only.

Not just Vista but Office available for download.

Actually this is not as surprising as it seems. For the last 5 years or so, Microsoft has been moving the emphasis away from Boxes and Disks and towards Keys and Activation as the primary factor in software license ownership. Microsoft have a tried and tested anti-piracy system which involves tying software to hardware to prevent a single copy of their software being installed on multiple machines.

Of course this will be a nightmare for local PC Technicians, who have a hard enough time keeping track of who has a legitimate license for what. At the moment we can trust that a PC with an OEM windows license sticker probably has a legitimate license, but how are we to be sure when someone simply tells us that they bought their copy online.

Add to that the tech support nightmare of failed or partial downloads and lost keys.

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OSX: Screenshots of Office 2008 for Mac

Posted by cascadehush on January 18, 2007

Screenshots of Office 2008 for Mac – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW):

Check out the gallery for a look at some cool new features in Office 2008.

Well, I must say this looks horrible.

I’ve seen screenshots of the PC version, and whilst I doubt I’ll like the new version, I can at least see why they are doing what they are doing.

But based on these Mac screenshots, it looks like Office 2008 will be a total mess.

What I find most appalling is that they have retained the formatting palette – an awful abomination of user interface design which one can never find a comfortable home for, which just sucks screen real-estate whilst forcing you to continually re-locate it in order to see what you are trying to work on.

One can only hope for the death of the modern word-processor which thinks it’s a desktop publisher and diminishes productivity by focusing on flair and form over content and structure.

Meanwhile Microsoft are trying to kill more trees by herding spreadsheet users into a paradigm of creating spreadsheets specifically designed for printing. Yes I know this began in Office 2004, but it does look like they have pushed things even more in this frightening direction. If ever there was a document that should live in electronic form, surely it is the spreadsheet.

Office 2004 never looked so good.

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OSX: TubeSock – Rip videos from YouTube

Posted by cascadehush on January 16, 2007

TubeSock – Rip videos from YouTube:

TubeSock costs $15

Witness the spectacle. On the one side a dodgy website full of copyright violations and naff home-movies. On the other side, a video player with limited codec support, even more limited screen space and yet more limited battery life.

Now, standing between, a celebrant ready to marry these two misfits. That celebrant is TubeSock and it only costs $15. Will it be happily-ever-after for YouTube and the iPod?

I must say it seems like an ideal match. If I’m going to watch crummy, low quality video I may as well do it on a low-quality-video player. If it was free, I’d probably give it a try. $15 is not unreasonable, but I just don’t care enough to pay for the privilege.

If you do care enough to pay, I suggest you take advantage of the opportunity before Google sues stinkbot out of existence, or else just changes their website API to make the software unworkable.

(And before Apple sues me out of existence, make note that I am not calling the iPod low quality, just the video codecs that it plays.)

Posted in iPod, Media, Opinion, OSX, Software | Leave a Comment »

OSX Freeware: Open Source Mac

Posted by cascadehush on January 16, 2007

Open Source Mac – Free, Open-Source software for OS X:

Free and open-source software is good for you and good for the world. This is the best OS X software that we know of.

Nice, clean site which should be one of the first places you visit when you are setting up a new Mac. Many of the apps listed are also cross platform, which is extra nice.

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Blogging: Looking for an Editor…

Posted by cascadehush on January 15, 2007

I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated by the editor built into ecto. It’s not that it is a bad editor in it’s own right. It’s just that I find I am always juggling between ecto, Safari and Firefox and I find it hard to make posts like this one, where I am quoting comments from multiple sites. I’ve spent the afternoon scouring download sites looking for a solution.

It looks like the Performancing plugin for Firefox is the go. It sits in a hidable pane a the bottom of Firefox. It adds an option to the right-click menu for adding quote text to your post (as you see a lot of below). You can also drag and drop links from a page and the link text is preserved. This doesn’t happen when dragging links from FireFox to the ecto editor (you only get the URL, not the link with it’s formating preserved). Dragging links does work from Safari to ecto, hence the need for 2 web browsers.

After installing the Performancing, I couldn’t see how to access it, so I went to performancing.com. At least I tried to, the website was down.

I did find these posts, which were enough to get me started.

Performancing extension for Firefox :: tiffany b. brown // v 4.1

While reading and writing about Flock, I kept seeing mentions of a extension for Firefox that would handle blog publishing better than Flock does: the Performancing extension.

muSick in the Head: Firefox 2.0 & Performancing Extension

It runs as a Firefox extenstion and makes it really easy to post and comment about a page in an easy-to-use WYSIWYG editor that essentially pops open as a drawer from the bottom of your Firefox window.

Skimming down the search results, I discovered that the Plugin has a new name.

Performancing Blogging Plugin Now ScribeFire

It’s alive and well and has been rebranded as ScribeFire. The site has a landing page up and will be launching shortly. In the meantime, the old plugin can stll be downloaded on the Mozilla site.

It turns out that performancing was to be bought-out by PayPerPost a company that, as far as I can tell, bribes bloggers into becoming corporate shills. At the front of their site, they talk about getting paid for your opinion, but as you drill down it becomes clear what your opinion needs to be in order to get paid.

Apparently a week later the deal was off.

PayPerPost: Performancing Deal is Off

After much discussion and heartache we have decided to walk away from the Performancing deal. We listened to our Posties and other Metrics users, dug into the Metrics platform and regretfully found that it wasn’t what we were looking for right now.

Techcrunch: Amateur Hour At PayPerPost

It’s not often that a company announces the acquisition of another company and then subsequently walks away from the deal, but PayPerPost isn’t a typical kind of company

So it’s all a bit up in the air. Both scribefire.com and performancing.com appear to be offline. Scribefire.com only contained a link to the current version of the plugin (which is still called Performancing).
I also tried Flock. Blogging in Flock is very much like blogging with the Firefox plugin Deepest Sender. Except that Deepest Sender is better in almost every respect. The major flaw in Flock’s editor, which seems to be common to a lot of free blogging tools, is the lack of ability to post as a draft. Without this feature, any would-be blogging tool is dead to me.

Problems with Performancing
I had 2 problems with Performancing. The first is the font used in the editor. It must be about a 16 or 18 point font and is a serious space-hog given that one wants to make the Performancing panel as small as possible. Perhaps the guys at performancing.com are all 40-somethings and starting to get a little hyperopic. Or maybe it’s all the late night blogging sessions.

The second problem is that when copying and pasting text it wants to keep the font formatting. I never want to do this. When I cut and paste text, I want the text. Every time. I wish there was some kind of operating system patch that would disable rich-text on the clipboard so that any cut-paste text operation always throw-away the formatting.

Rant aside, this feature in Performancing would not be so bad if it actually worked properly, and didn’t fill your post with a lot of junk html. Fortunately there is a ‘paste no formatting’ option on the right click menu. clumsy for sure, but it saved the plugin from the Trash Bin.

So all I need is an option to change the font in the editor, and a way to make ‘paste no formatting’ the default paste option, and this will be a killer app, both for FireFox and blogging in general.

Posted in Blogging, Firefox Extensions, Internet, Software | Leave a Comment »

OSX: UnRarX – RAR Extraction Utility

Posted by cascadehush on January 12, 2007

UnRarX – Mac OS X RAR Extraction Utility:

UnRarX is a Mac OS X Cocoa application that allows you to expand rar archives and restore corrupted or missing archives using par2.

Freeware/Open Source. Probably quite useful if you are downloading binaries from newsgroups.

Posted in Freeware, OSX, Software | Leave a Comment »