Category Archives: Apps

Firefox and its Plug-ins

Oh yes, I like Firefox 2! I like it more than IE7, Konquerer, Opera or any other browser (even if I have some weakness for Opera every time again). It is a handsome, fast and good designed browser that comes with everything I need. Everything, I said? No, not everything!

Most of all I like Firefox’ great Plug-in structure and its massive Plug-in community support. And of course it is Multi-Platform. So as it is my favorite browser at the moment, I give you my Top 5 of what makes Firefox my very own perfect Internet Browsing eXperience (IBX, I think I am going to patent this ^^’).

All-in-One Gestures
Mouse Gestures may be standard in most browsers today but I still prefer one of the first extensions for the Firefox, the All-in-One-Gestures. There may be newer ones, there may be better ones but I am totally fine with this one. It has everything I need. Customizing gestures, add gestures, mousetrace, gestures on links and much much more.
I don’t know what to state but this is one of the finest extensions ever.

BugMeNot
Everyone knows the situation: You’re at a site, just need to read a topic because it is your ultimate problem solution, or you just want to download a file, maybe the newest driver, but err… LOGIN REQUIRED! And that’s where BugMeNot comes to play…
BugMeNot is a site where people can post their logins (most likely with temporary or fake emails of course) for different websites and other can grab them for their own needs. It is a very large community and additionally rates the success rate of login attempts (users can rate them). Just enter the website you like to log in and BugMeNot gives you all stored logins with there success rates.
This fabulous website has an even more terrific plug-in. With the BugMeNot Extension you just easily right click on the username or password field of the current site you need to get into and from the context menu you pick “Login with BugMeNot”. The extension will now fetch logins and automatically fills them in. It submits and if a login has not worked it will try the next… fully automatically (with most websites)!!! Need I say more…

AdBlock+

Bender: Behold… The Internet!
Fry: My god! It’s full of ads!

– Futurama – A Bicyclops built for two

Yep, the net is for porn… uh, I mean for ads. Many many ads, popups, flash-ads, textads, Google and more. Yeah, I know, it’s for financing and stuff but damn it, must it be just directly over the whole text I want to read? Does it have to be flashing so that people get an epileptic seizure? The answer is no!
I show you who’s your daddy, it’s AdBlock+. But do not be mistaken, this is not the AdBlock+ you will find of you Google for it. There are several AdBlock+ versions out there, but no one can keep up to this one. It’s straight, it has everything you need and it will clear your sight.
Uh, “AdBlock+” you say? Well, golly gee, you mighty blogger of the future have shown me whats the fuzz about. Right you are, so now go ahead, install the extension and get an ad-free IBX (patent pending).

Web Developer Extension
Another great extension, especially for webdevelopers is the Web Developer Extension. A must have if you are writing websites.
Basically its another toolbar that gives you extensive extra features while surfing with Firefox. To name some functions, it’s able to let you alter the CSS while rendering, outline table cells, disable images, show id information and the very important private cache clearing ^^’. As you can see a very very helpful toolbar.
Nice to have is that you can customize the toolbar and add an extension button to it to hide the toolbar. For those who cannot stand more and more toolbars.

ReminderFox
My last most favorite extension is the ReminderFox. It is my personal small ToDo list application that helps to keep track of some issues.
In addition to its simple Reminder features it allows you to store the information on an external ftp or WebDav enabled location. I have a Firefox running on the several systems that I use so it is very helpful.
You can set a time reminder, have it floating every now and then to remind you etc. Actually it is nothing special but based on Firefox it gives you access to a small timetable from different machines with different Operating Systems. Most ToDo or Reminder software on the market is either with costs or does not work on different systems. So this is a good choice. And if you are like me, you have Firefox open the whole damn day ^^.

What troubled me…

…this week was my Wii reservation. A made that reservation at Amazon.de and thought as soon as they know how and when to order the Wii everything should be fine: I get my E-Mail, place the order and will be the happiest freakin’ man at the 8th of December. But I was very wrong. At Thursday this week Amazon.de emailed every person that put a reservation on the Wii. It said “Now: Order your Wii. Limited quantities available.”. “Ok, then go on and order it!” you might think but I attended a seminar at the time I got that E-Mail. “So what? Order it later that day!” you might say and I tried so but the presale was online for about 20 minutes. That was a timeframe I could not make. “Poor man!” you think (at least I hope so ^^’) and yes you were right but I could not stand the fact to not play Zelda at the 8th of December.

I went to my local retailer and asked for their help. With teardrops in my eyes, crawling on the floor I begged for mercy to give me the chance of holding The Sceptre of Light in my hands at the first day of the new dawn. And they had mercy. The Wii is as good as mine and you will hear from it many many times ^^

Doom your AcrobatReader
This Friday I had to make some changes to an old program I worked on. It is about programmatically report generation, so nothing very fancy or interesting but it had to be done. There is a “GuideProgramming” for this amazing report generator but due to the fact that it does not really apply to the library it is somehow worthless.
What’s with Adobe Acrobat? Ah yes! So I had this “NoGuide” and more and more reports for testing reasons. My whole system got slow, simple browsing or text editing with my editor was impossible. I was in a really bad mood and got more and more annoyed by the AcrobatReader. Always 10-15 seconds of waiting just to open a 2 sheet paper I want to read. Filling up the memory with 40-50MB. I thought “Damn it! It can’t be!” and started to look for alternatives.

I asked a friend and googled for alternative solutions. A simple PDF Reader cannot be too much to ask for, can it? The first thing you will find if you look for a “pdf reader” in Google without looking for Adobe products, is the Foxit PDF Reader. I found some more PDF Reader but every single Software was Shareware or had something else that pissed me off. So I tried Foxit and I instantly was happy. I clicked on a PDF and it opened up in less then a second even with Eclipse and VS running. Some titles and the page displays font was bold but the speed was so marvellous that I made it my standard PDF Reader.
There is one thing I hope they will implement very soon: Foxit opens an instance for every PDF, even if another clean instance is running. With more and more PDF Reports opening up for testing that can get a bit messy. But nevertheless everything else works fine and the idea of clicking on a PDF and actually see it at the same time makes this program worth a big recommendation. So download and install this rapid PDF Reader.

Intel Demo Competition
INTEL has called out for the first “Intel Demo Competition”. In cooperation with ASUS and Digitale Kultur e.V. Intel summoned probably the five best European Demogroups from all different countries. The contestants are as follows:

The rules are pretty simple. To show off that Intel is the best hardware manufacturer (and as supporter of the Demoscene for some years now) every group got an identical machine, an Asus Intel Centrino Duo Notebook to make a Demo on. A Demo has to be between 30 and 40 seconds long and has to run on that machine. How long the Demo has to be was determined by DJ Hell. He produced five tracks for these five Demos. All contestants had about 10 weeks time to finish their work and now is the time to vote.

All Demos can be seen online at the Intel Demo Competition Website or downloaded from the same source. There is a voting running to decide which group made the best Demo of them all. The voting is open till December, 1st. Then we will know who will be the first European Intel Demo Competition Champion. So go ahead, watch them all and vote for your favourite.

Blue Screen of Death
WindowsMfeOh hell yeah, Windows nostalgia. The Blue Screen of Death is back and we missed it, don’t we ^^!? And who if not Microsoft can give it back to us. No, Vista has not been publically released yet. But it is MS who brings you the BlueScreenSaver. A small ScreenSaver for your crash proven Windows PC that will make you reminisce about the good old Windows95, Windows98 and WindowsME times. It gives you just a simple BlueScreen with a more or less real error message. Actually there is nothing special about it, just 640×480 pixel of Windows history but I love it ^^’.

Fanboys
To end this wonderful, delightful and splendid post I would like to present you the Fanboys Trailer. A journey for friendship. A journey to give their dying friend his only hope to see Star Wars – The Phantom Menace. Fanboys shows us this journey of four guys that are way too much into Star Wars. See them rock the Skywalker Ranch and Role over the enemy, the antagonist, the villain Star Trek ^^.
Go, go, go and watch the trailer over at IESB! Itse very nice man!

Rainlendar 2.0

Probably the most important tool I use on my PC. Rainlendar, the desktop Calendar. “So what?” you might say, “There are hundreds of them!” and yes you are right. And let me tell you this, I tried them all. I tested nearly every single one of them. Night after night I was searching sites like BetaNews or was hunting for a shareable desktop calendar in Google. But none of them was nearly as clearly structured, intuitive to use and as fast as Rainlendar. A great and almost fully customizable tool that is very dainty and does not take all your desktop away.

Normaly I would state “…and as free as Rainlendar!” but that has changed. A long time Rainlendar stayed in a very low versioning (0.2.xxx) and was free. Lots of skins and languages were available and I was happy. Last month Rainlender 2.0 was released. Fully enhanced. Even better than before and with an improved Network Shared Calendar. But wait? What’s this? Lite and Pro Versions? NOOOOOO! I was shocked and paralysed in the first twopointfivefoursix seconds but then I started reading.

Yes it is true: The Pro Version costs 15€ Euros and adds Network shared calendars as well as Outlook support (which no sane man should use) to the Lite Version. BUT everyone can download the Pro Version and install it. It runs fine and is fully functional without a time limit. What it does is that it adds the word “[UNREGISTERED]” to every Network and Outlook Calendar entry. I think we can live with that and if you cannot just buy it. 15€ Euros is a good price for this really really good program with the following features:

Feature Lite Pro
Events and Tasks    
Alarms    
Localizations    
Multiple calendars    
Event manager    
Import & Export    
Backup & Restore    
New XML format skins    
Old Rainlendar skins    
Printing    
Lua Scripting    
Network shared calendars    
Outlook support    

You can download Rainlendar from here. There is a Windows and a Linux Version. Go ahead and download the Pro Version because as I stated earlier it is fully functional. The download is about 3MB small. I would recommend to anybody to try this program. It is just a great addition to your normal day planning.

Microsoft to the rescue!

I must admit I am no Microsoft hater. I use Windows since 3.11, loved DOS, have an affinity for Linux but if I think about a good graphical user interface Windows pops up (OK, maybe it’s all stolen and MacOS X is better but I needed about 5 minutes to crash OS X the first time I started Firefox). So I had my come out… I am a Microsoft fetish!

Why this post? In my opinion Microsoft has learned of its flaws in the past and is going in the right direction. Visual Studio 2005 has become an easy to use and intuitive development suite. Microsoft’s way to free the Express Editions is to support and not to criticize. Of course they want to push .net development. So what? Every company wants to push its own product but if Microsoft does so its the way of the devil.
I pretty much liked the Vista beta. It needs a better PC but a normal mid-range Computer today can run Vista just fine. I had it installed on my over 3 year’s old laptop and after updating the harddisk driver it ran good. The new color scheme is much more eye-friendly than XP (how blind do you have to be to mix green and orange…!?), Taskbar, Sidebar and Explorer have grown-up and the security system is much more witted than before. A little more compatibility with older software (I noticed some minor incompatibility) and Vista is the first Windows I will like from the first release on.
Microsoft Office 2007 made the biggest leap. I hated Office XP and Office 2003. Just more colors, just more annoying avatars that try to disturb your slumber at work and much to complicated. With Office 2007 everything changes, at least the user interface. The tabbed based bars give you fast and intelligent access to nearly all the features you need with live previews of the changes. It automatically gives you the right Tab based on what you currently edit. Most features are by far more stable as in Office 2003. It’s quick, it’s an ease to use and Microsoft definitely is on the right way with their current products.

Windows Media Player 11
wmp11_shuffle_list.jpg Microsoft released the Windows Media Player 11. The 24MB download gives you a new and improved (as always) user interface that is based on the Vista color scheme. It somehow reminds me of the Vista Explorer because of its pretty simple and straight forward style. Clearly structured menu on the top, content in the middle and mediabar on the bottom. The design is tabbed based which quickly lets you switch between Playlist, Layout, Library and MusicStore. As MusicStore it integrates the URGE Music Service (Yeah, Microsoft dictates your MusicStore but Apple, ITunes and IPod would never do so ^^) but you do not need to use it. The strong graphical interface is faster than WMP10 in my opinion and gives you quick access to standard features. I must say that WMP11 is not only a MediaPlayer but a MediaStation. As every new program tries to imply everything you may need the MediaPlayer covers every media that is on your computer and gives you administrative powers over them. So conquer them! Try it!

Internet Explorer 7
ie7_insanitydesign.pngAfter 5 years (IE6 was released in 2001) the Internet Explorer has been updated. And as nearly every browser on the Internet is has Tabs ^^’. But to be concrete again the interface is oriented on the Vista style which I like. It comes with common features you might know from Opera 9 or Firefox 2 so nothing special there. Overall the IE7 has nothing to really hype it for or complain about. It’s just a standard browser. Wait… standard? Maybe not as standardized as we would like. Some bugs and hacks have been repaired but others pop out. It is not as W3 compliant as expected so there still will be a lot of work for every real web designer. Not that Firefox or Opera or Konquerer or any other browser do better. Still every browser has its special behaviours so we dumb and underpaid computer scientists have to find the way in the middle to reach every user on the Internet. Much work to do! But to defend IE7: It is better. It is by far more compliant than before. It uses about as much memory as Firefox (a little more). It has an integrated Phishing- and PopUp-Blocker and makes an overall good impression. I will stay with my Firefox because of the plugins but IE7 has a plugin interface too. We’ll see what will come next…

Windows Desktop Search
wds_msndesktopsearch.gif The Windows Desktop Search follows all those desktop search engines on the market: Google Desktop, Copernic, X1 and many more. There is nothing special about just a solid search engine. It has a browser like search interface, quick access through a taskbar textfield and some minor options. Basically WDS is the first to concentrate on searching and not flooding your computer. I tried them all and many more but WDS was the first to convince me. It indexes faster than the most and while indexing you computer can still be used (had my problems with others in this point). The browser interface is not beautiful but functional. WDS categorizes your files into different Medias like Photos, Music or Video and let you specify what filetypes you want the content to be indexed too. With the taskbar textfield you can quickly access your indexed content and a little popup shows you the categorized outcome.
Why WDS? Windows Desktop Search is not new, it basically is the MSN Desktop Search but in its newest version. Now there are much more options you can control like index snoozing or what hdds to index. It has some nice plugins that add support for e.g. PDF, MP3 ID3-Tag, Thunderbird and more. Just try it once (I tried them all) and maybe you are as convinced as I am.

Microsoft Office Accounting 2007
Nothing for the normal house husband but definitely worth a look. Microsoft Office Accounting 2007 is as the name states an Accounting Software. Manage employees, time tracking, the payroll, track you’re in- and outcome et cetera. It is nothing anybody can make use of but everybody can have a look if it has some minor features to manage its own finances or anything else. Office Accounting is free but uses some plugins that are shareware so beware of them. The basic functions are all free and if you do not run a big business (which you probably won’t otherwise you would not read this) you do not need other features. The about 300MB download contains nearly everything to run a small business.

That’s it for today. This post is all about objectiveness. Do not curse Microsoft by default. Just try and you’ll see even Bill Gates has some good features. So for now: Hail to thy Microsoft ^^!

Source of Pictures: http://www.microsoft.com/, Desktop Screenshot taken by myself.