Archive for the ‘Linux Internet’ Category

Keep track of passwords and more

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of LastPass

Everybody agrees that when it comes to passwords, bigger is better. After all, one of the best ways to frustrate a brute-force attack is to increase geometrically the number of combinations of characters that are necessary. Add to this all the other safeguards that are included in any robust password protection scheme—upper- and lower case alphabetic characters, numbers, and a few punctuation marks, no dictionary words, etc.—and you've gone a long way toward keeping your accounts secure. The flip side of that, of course, is the impossibility of remembering dozens of unique 40-character passwords for all of your financial- and other accounts.

LastPass is an online password manager. All you need to remember is your password to get into LastPass, and everything else can be as complicated—and safe—as you want. Along with passwords, it also remembers all that other fill-in-the-blank stuff you need to speed-up the process of entering your information into web forms: name, address, credit card numbers, the whole thing.

It's available as a desktop app for Windows, or as a plugin for your Windows, Mac, or Linux web browser.

Download LastPass

lightweight and user-friendly e-mail client

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Sylpheed

Everybody's got an email client they swear by. Of course, there are other times where they've got a client they swear at. If you fall into that latter category, maybe you're in the market for a new mail program. This might be the time to check out Sylpheed.

Sylpheed uses a standard three-pane design, with a folder hierarchy on the left, and messages and individual message preview on the right. A small footprint means that system resources aren't taxed by this app. With powerful search and filter capabilities, you'll always be able to find just the message you're looking for. You can even save your results into a search folder, so you won't have to execute your query a second time. Smart junk mail control means that the more junk you receive, the less you'll actually see, as its filters improve with use.

Sylpheed is a free application. It runs on Windows (Win2k and later), Linux and other *NIX platforms, and Mac OS X (sorry, Intel processors only).

Download Sylpheed

Free Blog Editor

Monday, July 27th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Qumana Blog Editor

If you run more than one blog, there's a good chance that they're on different platforms. Trying to keep track of "who's on first" when you're jumping back and forth between WordPress, Blogger, Moveable Type, and others, can make you crazy. What you need is a uniform way to write your posts so you can focus on their content, instead of getting bogged down with the mechanics of making it all work. You need a Swiss Army knife for your blog posts.

Qumana Blog Editor may give you a leg up on this. Using a single interface, you'll never have to remember what the difference is between how you post an image to WordPress as opposed to Blogger. Just type into the editor, and it handles all the heavy lifting. You can even post while you're offline—save your posts to your hard drive and upload them the next time you go online.

Qumana Blog Editor is available for Windows (SP and Vista), Mac (OS X Tiger and Leopard), as well as Linux.

Download Qumana Blog Editor

Web of Trust

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of WOT

There are bad people out there, and they're doing bad things. Sometimes it's something as nefarious as some nasty virus that's just waiting to hit your system. Other times, it's just unresponsive online vendors who want your money, but aren't necessarily too concerned about giving you what you paid for in return. So how do you know who the bad guys are?

Web of Trust (WOT) is an add-on for your web browser. The guys behind this tool spend a lot of time looking around on the web, finding out who can be trusted and who you'd rather stay away from. With WOT installed, you're forewarned about sites before you visit them.

Run a query in your favorite search engine, and when you look at the results, you'll see little icons that report on the trustworthiness and reliability of the sites in your results. Sites with an excellent reputation will probably be your best bet for a successful online experience; sites given a very poor reputation rating may not be where you want to go. You'll want to remember, of course, that your mileage may vary. You may have no problem with a site that has a low rating, or you may have a terrible time with a site that's rated at the tippy-top. Just remember that these ratings can serve as a jumping off point, so you'll increase the likelihood of coming out a winner.

WOT is available for both Firefox (version 1.5 or later) on all platforms, as well as Internet Explorer (version 6 or later on Windows 2000, XP, and Vista).

Download WOT

File upload and storage system for large files

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

runs as Online Serviceruns on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of GoAruna

If you need to move files from here to there, there are several ways to do that. Setting up an FTP server may be efficient, but it's certainly not the easiest way to get things going. Attaching files to an email message gets the job done, but once your attachments reach a size of around 1MB, it starts to get questionable about whether it's really going to get delivered to where you want it to go. There are several online solutions available as well. Add to that list GoAruna.

GoAruna touts itself as being the easiest way to share large files. You can use it directly from your web browser like many other services: enter the email address of your intended recipient, choose a file from your local machine, click the button, and it'll be uploaded to their servers and your target will get a unique URL that lets them download the file.

This service goes a step beyond that, in that it also allows your to upload files to be stored on their servers. Now instead of each file transfer being just a one-off transaction, you can put your files up there and share a password that lets them download directly. There's a Java-powered desktop app you can use to just drag-and-drop files to the server, as well as widgets and plugins for your Firefox web browser, your iGoogle homepage, and more. They claim to give you the ability to encrypt your files before you upload them, but frankly their site and app are pretty light on information, so we couldn't figure out just how to do that. Hopefully their documentation will improve over time.

GoAruna is a free service. The desktop app requires that your system have a recent Java installation. The browser interface works with most recent Web browsers.

Download GoAruna

User-friendly, lightweight, fast email client

Friday, June 26th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Claws Mail

Where would we be without email? While we could probably go for quite a while without a telephone, we probably wouldn't last more than a couple of hours without email. While email itself is pretty simple stuff, getting it to work right can be more of a challenge.

There are lots of email clients out there that do lots of things, but as you know, when you add layers of functionality to any application, you're adding layers of complexity to it as well. By the time you format your message with all the pretty fonts and pictures, you can end up with a big message to send. This also means that the tool itself is pretty big and complicated. Claws is not such a tool.

What it is is a no-nonsense email client. You can't send HTML-formatted messages; you can't use it as a full-featured PIM. What you can do is use it for your POP or IMAP mail accounts—as many as you want to throw at it—as well as accessing your local mbox file. You can even create send-only accounts that let you access an SMTP server to push mail out into the world without receiving anything back. Plugins are also available to add more functionality to Claws Mail.

Claws Mail is a free app. It's available for a bunch of different Linux flavors, as well as Windows and Macintosh users.

Download Claws Mail

ReminderFox helps you remember appointments and "to do" items

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of ReminderFox

There are lots of ways to remind yourself of important appointments and "to do" items. You can use expensive leather-bound planners; you can set up elaborate systems with Outlook; or maybe even tie a string around your finger. Or you can use your web browser.

ReminderFox is an add-on for the Firefox browser. Like most other extensions for your favorite web browser, it's easy to install this tool. Once you're set up, you'll see a little "bow" added to Firefox's status bar (maybe it's a string to tie around your finger?). Move your mouse over it, and you'll get a tooltip-style listing of reminders and to do items you've got scheduled. Click on it, and you can add or edit new items. It supports recurring or single-time events, and lets you set alarms to remind you of what you need to be doing. You can add extensive notes to your entries, so you don't have to keep the "when" in ReminderFox, while the "what" lives somewhere else.

ReminderFox works with virtually any version of Firefox, so it's equally at home on Linux, Mac, or Windows systems. It's also compatible with many other Mozilla-based apps like Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, and Sunbird.

Download ReminderFox

KIDO'Z web browser for kids

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of KIDO'Z

Are your kids eager to get online? Are you scared to death of what they may find there? It's time to take a look at a kid-friendly browser. KIDO'Z may be what you have in mind.

It's got a simple user interface. In fact, you don't even have to be able to read to use it. That can help avoid frustration with your younger geeks-in-training. It doesn't support scripting and lets you access only approved sites, which helps you to better control just what your little ones are exposed to.

Even with these limitations, they'll be able to access pre-screened games, videos, and other age- and content-appropriate content, all with a single click, with new titles being added all the time.

KIDO'Z runs under Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. It requires the Adobe Air application platform.

Download KIDO'Z

Textpattern CMS

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Textpattern

If you are responsible for a website with more than just a couple of pages, and more than one author, then you know what a pain administering that site can be. Trying to keep everything in sync can be a never-ending battle, and more often than not, one that you can't possibly win. This is why you may need a content management system.

A CMS helps keep track of who's who and what's what on your site, so you can create the content without having to keep track of what's happening with it afterwards. Textpattern is a tool that you may want to take a look at to help you with this.

You simply type new content into the edit window, without having to worry about the proper markup syntax. When you're ready to publish, Textpattern does the heavy lifting, formatting your text in valid XHTML. You and your contributors can focus on content, rather than the minutia of formatting. It supports stylesheets and makes it easy to adjust the look and behavior of your pages.

Textpattern works best when installed on an Apache web server. It requires PHP ver. 4.3 or later, and MySQL 3.23+.

Download Textpattern

gDocsBar extension for Firefox

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

screenshot of gDocsBar

Since their beginnings as a humble search engine, Google has become many things to many people. Not content to help folks find information, they've become the go-to place for creating stuff as well. One of the more interesting ways that they have done this is with Google Docs, the online productivity suite that lets you create word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more. If you use Google Docs, you may want to take a gander at gDocsBar.

gDocsBar is a sidebar extension for Firefox. Once you've installed it, you can use your favorite web browser to easily upload documents from your local drive to your Google Docs account. Once they're up there, it's easy to search and filter documents from the sidebar, saving you time. Smart Folders help you to stay organized. And login to Google is easy with gDocsBar, with your passwords saved in Firefox's password manager.

gDocsBar is compatible with versions 2 and 3 of Firefox. You'll also need a free Google Docs account.

Download gDocsBar