Archive for August, 2006

E-bay Sniping (with a new word)

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

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There are lots of programs out there that enable you to place "snipe" bids on ebay — that's to say, to delay your bid until the last second so as to keep the final price down. For those who like to snipe, BidNobble's for you!

This program is young and still developing, but useful. There are a number of options to customize the way the program acts and appears on the screen. It can access all the various ebay sites; connects by Secure Socket Layer protocol; supports multiple users; synch's with ebay's time; and tracks auctions by their time remaining, informing you of their status as it goes. This is of course in addition to the usual last-zillionth of a second-bid-placement procedure.

The author of the program invites feedback and suggestions as well as bug reports, so here's your chance to have a hand in the development of a popular tool. The program will run on any system that has the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 1.4 or newer (and provides a download if you need it.) The documentation is comprehensive although a little idiosyncratic in parts.

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Combine PDF files on MacOS X

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

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It’s a mystery where these sites come up with their names. What does “Monkeybread” mean?! Well, whatever it may mean, the important thing is what it contains: in this case, lots of Mac utilities. The one being reviewed here is called simply “Combine PDFs” because that’s what it does.

The site is German and the text, although in English, is obviously by a non-native English writer. Still, it’s enough to work out what goes on: you drop PDF’s or picture files on the application; re-order or drop the pages as you see fit; add or change the meta-information such as titles, and save the whole under a new name. It’s cautioned that the final combination process may take a while.

The current version is at 2.1; it’s written in Realbasic and the source code and the application are available from the page. It’s recommended that all pages created by this utility be checked out carefully, as older PDFs may have errors which can’t be coped with. PDFs created by Windows applications may work, but there may be incompatibilities (“Microsoft does not include such nice PDF libraries.”)

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Adium: IM client for the Mac

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

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Adium is an instant messaging client for MacOS X. It was first written in 2001 by Adam Iser, a college student at the time, and has progressed through incremental improvements and complete rewrites (to make use of more capable libraries) to the point where it is now a very popular tool.

Its particular strength vs. iChat (the IM client that's built into MacOS X) is the number of protocols that it supports, and therefore the number of IM services that it can communicate with. These include AOL, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabber, and Google Talk. Technically, the fact that it relies greatly on plugins rather than its own hard code makes it easy to extend and expand. As well, "xtras" defined by users can be applied to change the emoticons the program uses, Dock icons, contact list styles, message styles, and sound sets; AppleScripts can be used to alter the program's response to certain trigger events.

There are literally dozens of free IM clients out in cyberspace and a review such as this can't possibly compare them all. There is an article in the Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_instant_messengers which goes into a very comprehensive comparison. Adium makes the grade as one finds evidence of great user and developer activity.

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Ares P2P: Use the god of war to share

Monday, August 28th, 2006

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Here is another peer-to-peer service to check out for your file-sharing and peer communications wants: ARES P2P supports a library organizer so that you can classify your files any way you want — into audio or visual, for instance, and subcategories within each; multisource downloads — the program finds multiple sources and downloads from them all simultaneously, which can really super-power your download speed; a chat room service so you can create your own channel or participate in others; and a file viewer and audio player which can operate during downloads.

The Ares project is licensed under GNU and runs on Windows. While the Ares team doesn't provide support via e-mail, it does have a FAQ and has links to several relevant forums. The site includes a very useful information page describing the privacy and safety issues that users may want to consider, along with guides on protecting one's own data and privacy.

All in all, ARES will serve you very well. Just have lots of disk space available so that you can save each and every one of the 12 billion songs now out there in cyberspace!

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Make Animated GIFs

Friday, August 25th, 2006

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Want to make animated GIFs? GiFfun makes composing web animations dead easy. Individual slides or images are dragged directly into the GiFfun window; then, simply saving it as an animation makes it into a an animated GIF. It can then be edited further by setting the delay between frames, varying the number of loops on each frame, and more.

The resulting animated GIFs will run under any standard web browser. GIFfun and the other programs by Stone Design all run on either any Mac (including the new Intel models) running MacOS X. GiFfun has a short but sufficient on-line manual.

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Online Dictionary

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

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Computer-based dictionaries, spell-checkers, and thesauruses (thesauri?) are nothing new — after all, they come with the poplular word processors or can be acquired as add-ons. Independent products are available also: this is one of them.

Everest Dictionary's coverage is extensive: dictionaries are available in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Romanian, and Bulgarian. There are several specialized dictionaries, too: medical and technical words, Biblical names, synonyms and antonyms, "hypernyms and holonyms", the French Larousse, and (intriguingly) "English Romanian proverbs", among others. Translation dictionaries are also supported. There are 37 in all at present.

In action, all the standard vocabulary capabilities are implemented. As well, the Everest Dictionary supports instant translation within most Windows applications by use of a special keystroke combination; instant translation of given words; and instant, complete translation of the clipboard. There's a glossary section that the user can update and make available to the world. There's even a voice component to pronounce English words!

Support is by a help file and forums. The author, Daniel Vladutu, invites comments, suggestions and donations; he also states that e-mail support is no longer available due to the number of viruses and the constant barrage of spam that have come to his support site..

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