As web developers, keeping up with the web browsers is an ever-moving target. We write the cleanest, most universal code we can, but unfortunately not all browsers were created equally. Even when we’ve created what is ostensibly the best application we can, we must still run the site through some testing to ensure browser compatibility.
I always have the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari installed on my development machine, but depending on the client, you may need to ensure other browsers.
Thankfully there are applications out there devoted to this.
BrowserCam (http://www.browsercam.com) is another valuable service for web development. BroswerCam allows you to test your site similarly to Browser Shots, but BrowserCam is not free. You can sign up for a free trial that will let you see the screen captures from the various browsers for only 24 hours and you can only do that 200 times before having to pay. The interface isn’t as streamlined as Browser Shots, but BrowserCam allows you to choose the Operating System specifically along with the browser. So for instance, if a customer is having issues running Firefox 1.5.0 on a Windows 2000 machine without Adobe Flash installed, you can emulate that exactly on BrowserCam. You can also denote the screen shot format (JPG, PNG, or BMP), the screen resolution, and even if the capture will be just the browser or the entire desktop. This service is incredibly useful while troubleshooting specific situations and issues without having to build a system on which to test..
Lastly, if you would rather have 307 different browsers on your system, the Browser Archive is there for you (http://browsers.evolt.org/). The Browser archive is a collection of every browser and version you have heard of and many you haven’t. If you are looking for an old version of Netscape Navigator or the kid-friendly browser Surf Monkey, then this site has the installer for you. Download the installer and install the browser and get ready to take a trip back in time!
Whichever you prefer, it’s always best to test your sites across multiple platforms and browsers prior to the launch and with the help of these sites, hopefully that process just got a bit simpler!
I’m a big fan of FREE STUFF, so it should be no surprise that I gravitate towards free software. Sure much of it is junkie, but there are some realy diamonds out there that haven’t hit the mainstream yet. Here’s my favorite 10.
1. Logmein (https://secure.logmein.com)
Ever find yourself away from home and wishing you could e-mail yourself something? Or maybe you have a mother-in-law who lives 4 states away and is always having computer problems, and instead of loading up the kids in the family trickster for a marriage-trying trip, you could just log in to her computer remotelyÂ¦.without her needing to do anything? This is where Logmein comes in. There are lots of products out there that will do this, but very few will do all these things as well as Logmein ds for free.
2. Mesh (http://www.mesh.com)
Microsoft has a knack of not promoting some of the apps that they offer. Mesh is one of those apps. Another computer sharing application, but Mesh displays all the computers in a 3-D rotating ring and also offers a Web DesktopÂ that syncs with all the computers on your Mesh. There is a promise of making Mesh work on Macs, but I haven’t yet seen it work. Mesh is super responsive and I really like how it feels while using it! The interface is clean and intuitive and I think the reason Microsoft ds not promote it is too many people would use it!
Yet another non-marketed gem from Microsoft. Photostory 3 is one of the easiest ways to create a very professional photo slideshow complete with background music (MP3 or you can create your own with the built-in music generator) and narration. The application is super easy to use and the results are far superior that some softwares that I’ve paid to use. The only downfall is that it dsn’t have a built-in burning application to burn the slideshow to CD or DVD.
4. Orb (http://www.orb.com)
Like many people, I don’t get to stay at home with my vault of audio and video goodness at my disposal. This is where Orb steps in. Orb allows a simple way to put your audio, photos and video online and accessible to your little antsy fingertips. One of my favorite features is the ability to stream webcams live on the internet, so if I miss my dog, I can log in and see and hear him. Very slick and very easy to set up!
5. Dropbox (http://www.getdropbox.com/)
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a storage cloud of your own to store items and further more wouldn’t it be nice if it synced with your other computers? That’s Dropbox. I use it to store keepersÂ or documents and small apps that I want in multiple places or to ensure I don’t lose it. Dropbox installs easily and creates a folder on your computer. Drag the files you want to sync into the Dropbox and dropbox takes care of the rest. All the other computers you log into the dropbox with can now access and upload their own files. A great solution for simple collaboration or small off site back ups.
6. MWSnap (http://www.mirekw.com/winfreeware/mwsnap.html)
If you need to do lots of screenshots for websites or manuals, this is a great tool. It has a nice zoom tool to enlarging parts of the screen to draw focus to it, a ruler for measuring the size of items in the shot, and can export in BMP, JPG, TIFF, PNG and GIF.
7. Camstudio (http://sourceforge.net/projects/camstudio/files/)
If you need to create a screencast, this a a great free tool. Comparable to Camtasia or Adobe’s Captivate, it’s not as feature-rich as those, but it will get the job done. It will record whatever you do on your screen and produce and AVI or SWF output. Plus you can narrate as you go through a microphone. This is the easiest way to convey complex techniques or just a way of communicating step by step instructions.
8. DimDim (http://www.dimdim.com)
A tool similar to WebEx, DimDim allows you to create free webinar-style sessions where you can share screens, whiteboards, presentation, web pages and even voice and video. I have been super impressed with DimDim in that it supports up to 20 people, it dsn’t require any installation and it handles the voice and video, unlike some other pay-for softwares. Sure, it isn’t as ubiquitious as WebEx (I’m certainly not going to tell someone to DimDim meÂ, but for free, this is a wonderful offering.
9. Ning (http://www.ning.com)
If you’ve ever wanted a web site for your church group, scouting group, or maybe even class reunion, then Ning is the place to go. It’s a DYI social networking site that allows you to roll your own blog/forum/event feed/calendar/whatever. I’ve used Ning for several side projects to collaborate with large and small groups of people. I also use Ning for a special interest web site-BisManPhoto.com, which is a site devoted to camera lovers in the Bismarck/Mandan North Dakota area. The sites scale wonderfully and gives me the freedom to worry about content rather than functionality.
10. Qik (http://qik.com)
Everyone carries their cellphones with them all the time. Ever wanted to stream live video from your phone? That’s what Qik ds and it ds it beautifully. Great for budding independent journalists wanting to stream live to the web (and post an alert on twitter simultaneously) and it’s equally great to share part of your vacation with people at home. The stream is recorded from your phone and saved for posterity so people who couldn’t see the live stream can watch it archived on the Qik site.
Perhaps you have been thinking about purchasing one of those e-book readers that so many people are purchasing these days. Instead of just following the crowd, you should probably study the competitors.
Amazon Kindle: Clearly Mr. Bezos intended the prior version to be a milestone in the e-book reader industry, and thanks to a multi-media marketing campaign, it is. (It doesn’t hurt to be the World’s Largest Bookstore.)
- Connects to 3G network for content (no hotspot needed).
Memory: 256 MB
Price: Originally $359 – 399
Features: (Kindle 2)
- Slimer than Original.
- Battery life 25 percent larger than original model.
- Text-to-speech allows reader to read to you
- Whispersync allows synchronization with other Kindles
Memory: 2 GB
Features: (Kindle DX)
- Large 9.7 display
- Built-in PDF reader
- Bigger Selection with Kindle Store
- Better for Graphic Rich Content
Memory: 3.3 GB
Foxit eSlick: A very low priced e-reader that is also one of the lightest on the market.
Display: 6 inch
Memory: 128 MB with optional 2 GB SD card
Fujitsu Flepia: The Flepia goes down in history has the first e-book reader to have a color e-ink screen, but probably has the largest price.
- WiFi Support
- Includes Windows CE 5.0
- 600,000 colors
Memory: 4 GB with SD card
Hanlin eReader: An e-book reader from a Chinese company Tianjin Jinke Electronics.
- Runs a Linux-based operating system.
Memory: 32-MB via SDRAM
Interead’s COOL-ER: These are new to the e-reader scene, and are available in eight different colors. They are the first of its kind to be designed specifically for the non-technologically inclined reader in mind.
- SD card slot
iRex Iliad: This is an e-reader from a Phillips company spinoff that has recently completed a second version.
- Supports PDF, Images, and HTML format.
- SD Card
- Wifi Compatible
- Page Turning flipbar
Plastic Logic: Not much is known about this one as yet, but it might shake the ebook market with its large size (8 1/2 x 11 inches).
- Thin and light
- Supports Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Adobe PDFs
- Supports newspapers, periodicals, and books
Display: 8.5 x 11
Memory: Not listed
Samsung Papyrus: Not the most advanced e-reader, but not the least either. It is due out later in the summer.
- Stylus for the touchscreen
Memory: 512 MB
Price: $300, but possibly only in Korea
Sony Reader: This was one of the earliest e-book readers, it already has three versions. One of them with a touchscreen.
- Convert to PDF.
- Partnership with Google ensures a half-million titles.
Memory: 512 MB
This is not a comprehensive list. These are those I could find on my Source. There is one being made from iRiver, and Hearst is actually planning to release one as well.
Clearly, the e-reader market is growing at an alarming rate. I wouldn’t be surpirsed if colleges will require an e-reader in order for students to download their texts.
Featuring some of the most useful applications that will definitely help you improve your productivity on Mac. These utilities are available totally free of charge and can be downloaded right away.
SketchBox is a multifunctional sticky notes manager for your Mac Desktop. Unlike other Sticky notes it doesn’t limit itself to just writing text but you can even draw and set individual reminders for each sticky to use them as visual alarm clock.
SketchBox Sticky notes consists of three layers: The drawing canvas, a little text editor and an intuitive alarm timer that combines the best of analog and digital clocks. While editing text you can still see your drawing in the semitransparent background and vice-versa.
Anxiety is an excellentt To-do list application for Mac OS X Leopard that synchronizes with iCal and Mail. It is extremely lightweight and aims to provide a streamlined, easily accessible interface to add and check off your tasks, while remaining poised to melt into the background at a moments notice.
Anxiety’s sleek interface provides just what you need to jot your tasks down, without burdening you with cumbersome large windows. With a tiny desktop footprint and clean minimalist aesthetics, the application is simultaneously small, beautiful and effective.
Camouflage is a tool that allows you to hide all icons behind the wallpaper. If you were looking for Camouflage you probably have a messy desktop, so you should put this window in list-view to have a much better overview over the tons of files
Key features include
- Perfect system-integration: change your wallpaper and Camouflage will show the change instantly.
- Works with multiple monitors: attach new monitors and the icons will instantly be hidden.
- Drag & drop: drag files on the desktop and they will be copied onto your real desktop.
- Finder integration: click the desktop and Finder will be activated and opens or selects a separate desktop window. (You can disable this with the Popup Desktop option of the menu. To still open a window, press the option-key while clicking the desktop, or by double-clicking on the desktop)
- Support for Path Finder
- Ability to show and hide the icons
- Works with desktop managers
- Ability to ‘click through’ Camouflage to get the normal Desktop-Context menu
iClockr is a simple tool to show you a simple way to track your time. The concept of iClockr is based on 3 columns including
Projects: A project is a bundle of tasks
Tasks: A tasks is a bundle of durations
Durations: A duration is the smallest brick to calculate your total time.
iClockr is a great tool to Track Timeline for Different Tasks and Projects.
Appointments is an application designed to keep record of customers, contact persons and important events related to them. Information is collected in a structured way: there are separate dictionaries with customers data, contact persons, appointment managers etc. which are used to create appointments record. The application provides convenient user interface tools for sorting and filtering stored data.
Key features include
- Document based architecture
- File based datastore and
- Multiuser access
To take screenshots of the entire page I personally use Fireshot. It is like the perfect add-on for Firefox that also provides editing tool. On the other hand Mac users like to take advantage of a small utility known as Paparazzi.
You can grab a free copy of Paparazzi from here.
iStat pro is a highly configurable widget that lets you monitor every aspect of your Mac, including CPU, memory, disks, network, battery, temperatures, fans, load & uptime and processes.
It even allows you to filter out specific disks, network interfaces, or fan sensors, if you’d like.
AppFresh is responsible to keep all your applications,widgets, preference panes and application plugins installed on your Mac up-to-date. AppFresh works by checking the excellent osx.iusethis.com for new versions and lets you download and install available updates easily.
AppFresh provides a central place to control the software updates available to your Mac, integrating most popular and most common update checking technologies such as Apple Software Update, Sparkle, Microsoft AutoUpdate, Adobe Updater, osx.iusethis.com and more.
TextWrangler is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator’s tool. You can use this text editor for a wide variety of tasks from cleaning up data, to editing configuration files on your Mac or server, to writing HTML or coding.
Key features include
- Powerful single and multi-file search & replace
- Flexible ‘grep’ style pattern-based search and replace based on PCRE (Perl-Compatible Regular Expression)
- Sort Lines and Process Duplicate Lines plug-ins offer grep pattern support for sorting, extracting, and handling text
- Find Differences to compare two versions of a text file and merge the differences
- Support for a wide variety of BBEdit plug-ins
The Unarchiver is a much more capable replacement for “BOMArchiveHelper.app”, the built-in archive unpacker program in Mac OS X. The Unarchiver is designed to handle many more formats than BOMArchiveHelper, and to better fit in with the design of the Finder.
It can also handle filenames in foreign character sets, created with non-English versions of other operating systems. I personally find it useful for opening Japanese archives, but it should handle many other languages just as well.
These applications can definitely come in handy in everyday life routine.
I started blogging in December 2007 and soon realized that there was something I was missing. I started making a few bucks with Adsense, but there was just one thing that kept bothering me: “Where the hell my traffic is coming from and how can I track my visitors down?” Then I stumbled upon Google Analytics, which turns out to be one of the best ways to learn which online marketing initiatives are cost effective and see how visitors actually interact with your site. It comes totally free of charge and you can track down multiple website profiles within the same account.
Another recent discovery of mine is an excellent tool which allows you to access Google Analytics right from your desktop. Polaris is a desktop widget for Google Analytics that provides the easiest way to keep your data always instantly available to you.
Just like Google Analyitcs, “Polaris” also comes free of charge, but the free version is limited to one profile only. In order for you to view multiple profiles with Polaris you can update it to the full version for just $15/year.
The company claims that Polaris is one of the first Adobe AIR applications to be built using the recently released Google Analytics API and integrates beautifully with Windows, Linux and Mac systems. It lets you check your visitor numbers, traffic sources, keywords, referring sites and more.
Key features include
- A one-time easy setup
- Overview of total visits, pageviews and other useful metrics.
- Drag and drop date widget to switch between dates
- Day by day view
- Explore your traffic on the Google Maps report
- Learn which pages perform best with the top content report
When I was working at the call center a year back I use to setup lots of computers there. It has always been a pain to download individual programs for each system according to the users requirement. To avoid wasting time I had a few useful software always saved in my USB stick.
Recently I’ve come across something that is way more useful than I thought it would be. A free 24-in-one installer pack that allows you to install almost all the necessary applicatons a new PC should have.
Smart Installer Pack is a combination of tools such as browsers, messengers, torrents and Pc cleaners. The package includes Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Widgets, Skype, Google Earth, Winamp, Firefox, Bittorent, Gmail Notifier, Rocket Dock, Codecs Pack, Adobe Flash Player,Apple QuickTime, SunJava, Adobe Reader, WinRar, Open Office, Daemon Tools, ThunderBird, Gimp, Picasa, Avira Antivirus, Google Chrome, CCleaner and KmPlayer.
The best feature includes quick installation of each program. To get started all you have to do is download Smart Installer Pack, click on the icon of the application you want to install and it will be done within a matter of seconds.
Key features of Smart Installer Pack includes
- Easy, intuitive user interface design
- Contains usual start-up software
- Greatly improves the time needed to install that software, eliminating some of the unnecessary searching, downloading, etc
- All free
- The installer comes packed in a convenient executable file
- You can choose which software you want to install using suggestive icons
- The application is made as small as possible
You can grab a free copy of Smart Installer Pack from the official website.
Magic Bullet Quick Looks, which is the light version of the full Magic Bullet Looks software, allows users to quickly give their footage different colour schemes. By selecting from one of over 100 preset colour styles users can give their film a different mood, change the lighting, or emulate a classic movie’s style without any fuss.
Quick looks also includes a feature that gives colour-scheme previews on the user’s images, allowing quick comparisons of the available colour options.
While Quick Looks doesn’t come with as many features as the full version of Looks, it allows film-makers an inexpensive way to give their films a professional colour scheme, and can be upgraded to the full version after purchase.
Having a good colour scheme can be the difference between a visually dull movie and professional looking one, but colour correction software often requires technical expertise and can come with a significant price tag . Magic Bullet Quick Looks seems like it offers film-makers a way to get a professional quality look without a steep learning curve or bank-breaking investment.
Magic Bullet Quick Looks is compatible with Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Avid Xpress, and is available for Windows and Mac for $99.
It’s nice when the fans of a television show speak up with a voice so loud that a production network can’t help but listen. After all, Fox actually brought back the previously cancelled Family Guy, and it was Firefly fans that were, for the most part, responsible for the movie Serenity.
A similar situation happened with the show PixelPerfect, a show from Revision3. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, it stars Bert Monroy, who teaches the viewer what is new with Photoshop.
Just think of it as a This Old Adobe House, and the newest episode deals with CS4 that we discussed a while ago. PixelPerfect only had about sixty days worth of online airplay before it was given the axe.
However, PixelPerfect has been saved from execution as Ron Richards of Revision 3 felt the power of the people. He is quoted as saying you spoke, through a flood of e-mails, tweets, IMs and every other imaginable form of communication short of the carrier pigeon. We listened.
Ah, isn’t it wonderful when fans get together and save a show? Now, if only shows like Pushing Daisies could be saved, and worn-out shows like Smallville can get the axe they richly deserve.
If you are interested in watching Pixel Perfect, try looking here.
Adobe now offers AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) for Linux users.
Version 1.5 of AIR is available to users of Fedora Core, Ubuntu 7.10, OpenSuse 10.3 or higher Linux suppliers. The carryover to Linux is due to the overwhelming popularity of AIR on Windows and Macintosh, where the technology has already been available for months.
Future versions of AIR will be arriving simultaneously on all three platforms. Adrian Ludwig of Adobe says, “We’re experiencing nearly 100 million installations of Adobe AIR on Mac and Windows by the end of this year. That strength of platform across Mac and Windows is going to make it very easy for developers to build applications that will end up running on Linux as well.”
AIR is intended to make applications easier to use while offering new interactions between brands and consumers. This technology brings websites to you beyond the browser through useful applications that can be customized and integrated to fit your personal style.
One example of an AIR application is eBay Desktop which allows sellers to fill out a listing offline and then upload it to eBay when an Internet connection has been established. Other applications use similar techniques, allowing users to complete tasks offline and opt for those tasks to be uploaded to their respective websites when the computer becomes connected to the Internet.
The addition of this consumer-friendly download is yet another step in making Linux distributors more welcoming to the general masses. The stigma that Linux is complex and not for the average computer user is slowly becoming diminished as news like this reaches the ears of the consumers. AIR makes it easier for developers to create applications for Linux and may help to knock down more walls in the future.
Adobe AIR can be downloaded here.
The new Pogo Sketch stylus may turn out to be a low-cost alternative to a professional drawing tablet.
The Pogo Sketch, from Ten One Design, is a new pencil-style stylus for use with all “capacitive touch screens,” as the product’s site explains.
What this means, for those that have no idea what “capacitive” is (e.g., me,) is that it is compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch, and all Macbooks with multitouch trackpads, such as the Macbook, Macbook Pro, and Macbook Air. This means you can use the soft-tipped Sketch instead of your fingers on the trackpads of these products.
But what is truly interesting about the Sketch is that, according to Ten One Design’s site, the Sketch can be used on a Macbook’s trackpad like a pencil, making it a low-cost alternative to a drawing tablet. This means that users of the Sketch may be able to go about drawing and writing naturally in illustration programs without the need for a costly tablet.
It’s hard to say how well the Sketch performs without using it; a trackpad seems kind of small to simulate the act of drawing, no matter how natural the Sketch feels. But if it does in fact perform as well or close to as well as a full-fledged writing tablet, then the Sketch could make quite an impact on the digital drawing market, discarding with the need to get a bulky and expensive tablet.
Ten One Design also has a couple other selling points for the Sketch. They point out that the Sketch, which simulates a fingertip, can be used with gloves so users don’t have to worry about their hands getting cold when using their iPhone in the winter, and also ensures that users don’t get their iPod Touch all smudgy with their greasy fingers.
But really, these seem like trivialities compared to the possibility of being able to use Adobe Illustrator to draw naturally at a fraction of the cost of buying a Wacom tablet.
The Pogo Sketch costs $14.95 and is available here.