Archive for the ‘MacOS Communications’ Category

Send notes privately with Privnote

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

screenshot of Privnote

Email is forever. Once you write an email and send it, you can safely assume that it will exist in some form forever. Even if you delete it from the sending machine, and the recipient deletes it on the receiving end, there are enough servers that have passed it along that you're going to find it living out there somewhere. And we all know how easy it is forward an email—just check out all the spam messages that have been forwarded to you lately.

Privnote is a free service that makes it a little easier to control who reads your messages. Rather than sending an email directly to your intended recipient, you enter your message into a form on the Privnote site, and they in turn give you back a URL to send to your recipient. The fun thing here is that this link allows them to access your message one time only—once they've seen it, it goes away. It's almost like a Mission: Impossible message that self-destructs in five seconds. And since it's not an email, it's impossible to be forwarded.

Now of course, for the message to be seen—even once—it has had to sit on Privnote's server, so you'll want to be careful what you say, because they don't claim that your words aren't going to end up in one of their log files somewhere down in the guts of their network, but you are certainly limiting your words' exposure by not including them in the regular email stream out there.

Privnote is a free online service.

Download Privnote

Google Send To Phone sends text messages from your browser

Monday, March 31st, 2008

screenshot of Google Send To Phone

Did you ever want to text yourself? You're headed out the door to some place you've never been before, so you dutifully looked-up the address and driving directions on Google Maps. It would be handy to send yourself a text message with that info in it, so that you don't have to drag along that printout of the directions.

Google Send To Phone is a Firefox extension that allows you to send SMS messages (text messages) to your mobile phone from within your web browser. Copy and paste whatever content you want from your page into the "text to send" field. If you're going long, the tool will automatically split your text into multiple messages.

Not only is this useful for texting yourself, but if you need to dash off a quick note to somebody else, you can do so as well. All you need is the phone number and carrier for your recipient.

Google Send To Phone is compatible with any system running Firefox version 1 or later. Sending messages through this extension is free, but charges may apply to receiving them; check with your carrier for details. Most major carriers are included in the list for sending.

Download Google Send To Phone

NewsFire keeps you in the loop

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

screenshot of NewsFire

Where would we be without RSS readers? As we all get more plugged-in, we've all got more and more places we want to keep track of, and more information to digest. News sites, blogs, the list goes on.

NewsFire is a newsreader that lets you set things up the way that makes the most sense to you. While you can use it for plain vanilla subscriptions to your favorite feeds, you'll want to use its "Smart Groups" to filter and organize the constant flow of information coming across your desk. It has a minimal interface, so it's not all up in your face, demanding your constant attention.

NewsFire is a true Mac application, so it looks like and behaves like you'd expect it to. We've all been disappointed with Mac apps that really just look like Mac, but don't behave that way.

NewsFire is a free application for your Macintosh. It requires OS X version 10.4 or later.

Download NewsFire

i.Scribe therefore I am, at least email-wise

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

screenshot of i.Scribe

Who can live without email? We all use it multiple times a day. If you're looking for something beyond what you're currently using, you may want to give i.Scribe a spin.

i.Scribe is a lightweight email client that combines email functionality with an integrated contact database, as well as a calendar. It doesn't require an installer (one is included for user convenience), so it can be dropped wherever you want it to live, including USB drives, making it super easy to bring along with you.

It starts up fast, requiring only a second or two to get up to speed. It may be one of the safer email clients out there, since it supports HTML email but not embedded scripts, so you won't have to dread opening emails like in Outlook. It features a Bayesean spam filter, so it will learn what you consider spam and react accordingly, getting smarter and more efficient over time.

i.Scribe supports only a single account (they have a paid version that supports multiple accounts), so it may not be the most flexible tool you own, but you can't beat the price.

i.Scribe is available as a free download. It runs under Windows (most features run under 98/ME, more under 2k/XP), Linux, and a beta-level version for Mac OS X.

Download i.Scribe

RSSOwl is a wise old bird

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

screenshot of RSSOwl

RSS has made everybody's life easier. Rather than having to run around the Web to see what's going on out there in the world, you can let the world come to you. Whether it's news and politics, social networking, or the musings in the blogosphere, the world literally beats a path to your door through RSS syndication of content.

RSSOwl is a free newsreader that lets you read news the way you want to. Along with the expected subscribe and read functionality, there are extras that deserve a good look. Enhanced search capability allows you to find just the posts you are interested in.

You can also search for newsfeeds you haven't discovered yet, helping you to cover your interests even better. Once you find a site you like, RSSOwl will scour the site, looking for every feed that they feature.

There's an internal browser, so HTML content will be rendered correctly for your viewing pleasure.

You can minimize the app to the System Tray, keeping it out of the way until it detects new unread items. It lets you new when you have new stories to look at, keeping you right on top of things.

A new Version 2 is currently under development. It promises to add Usenet capability, allowing you to go old school and keep track of Newsgroups as well.

RSSOwl is a Java application, and is available for Linux, Macintosh, and Windows systems.

Download RSSOwl

Free calls and more with Gizmo

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

screenshot of Gizmo

VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) is one of the bigger deals out there for taking advantage of the Internet. Instead of using the phone company and its network of wires and switches, you use the Internet as the conduit for your phone calls to travel from here to there. Commercial services like Vonage allow you to make calls this way, although you still get to pay for the privilege. Free providers like Skype are out there, allowing you to call other members for free, while paying to call numbers that aren't part of the network.

The Gizmo Project is another free VoIP service. Like Skype, you can call other members for free, or for an additional fee you can call and receive calls from phones that aren't part of their network. There are differences, however, between Gizmo and Skype.

Based on the open SIP standard, Gizmo allows you to also talk with Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, and Windows Live users, as well as IM your AIM and MSN buddies. file sharing is available through the IM window. Free voicemail and conference calling further enhance your options.

If it's time to tell the telco to take a hike, you may want to hike over to Gizmo and take it for a spin.

Gizmo is available for Linux, OS X, and Windows, so just about everybody can use it.

Download Gizmo

Make free video calls with SightSpeed

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007


SightSpeed is a communications service reminiscent of Skype. The free Personal Edition allows you to make free computer-to-computer voice calls to other members anywhere in the world. With SightSpeed you can also make video calls as well–and the person you're calling doesn't even have to be a member. (Non-members must be running IE 6 or later.)

In addition to real-time communication, SightSpeed allows you to create video mail, allowing your recipient to view and hear your message when it's most convenient for them.

SightSpeed also has a built-in chat client, so you can be on a call with somebody and still IM-ing with someone else.

Sight Speed Personal Edition runs on both Windows (Win2k or better) and Mac (OS X 10.3.9 or later) systems.

Download SightSpeed Personal Edition

Free Printable Valentines

Thursday, February 1st, 2007


Valentine's Day is coming soon. Remember gradeschool, when you got to make Valentine's cards for everyone in your class (and even had to give one to the kid that you really didn't like?) Giving Valentine's cards isn't just for kids — just about everyone appreciates getting a silly, cute, fun card on Valentine's Day. makes giving Valentines easy. The site offers 50 Valentine's Day card designs in PDF format, which you can download and print for free. The site includes cards for sweethearts, friends, children, and even (who knew there was a need for this?) Valentines for robots.

So you can print out 40 copies of your favorite card and give one to everyone in your workplace. Even the folks that you don't like that much.

Get Free Printable Valentines

Adium: IM client for the Mac

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006


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 which goes into a very comprehensive comparison. Adium makes the grade as one finds evidence of great user and developer activity.

Get Adium

MSN Messenger beware – aMSN is here!

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006


Microsoft Messenger is a well-known and popular instant messaging program. It is supported and works well nearly all of the time. So why a clone? Well, presumably there are those who want more than Microsoft is willing to put into its product or or who are less willing to pay Microsoft's price (both in money and control). Thus there is "Alvaro's Messenger clone – aMSN".

The product presently is up to snuff on Windows and MacOS systems, and Linux versions are very much in the works. As well as the laundry list of built-in features, plugins of all sorts can be applied to change the behaviour of various functions or add tnew ones, and the program's appearance can be redone with the various "skins" offered. The system is free, but solicits donations. There are at least two forums — one each for Windows & MacOS users — and adventurous folk are invited to download the latest, most "bleeding edge" prerelease versions to have a go themselves.

Get aMSN Messenger Clone