Archive for the ‘MacOS Internet’ Category

Cross platform bookmark service

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Xmarks

If you spend any time on the Web—and who doesn't?—it takes no time at all to build up quite a list of sites you want to visit again. Assuming you aren't just scribbling URLs down on a legal pad, you're going to want to bookmark those sites and the important pages on them. But if you bookmark them in Firefox, that doesn't do you any good on Chrome. Or if you bookmark them at home, that's no help at work. And online bookmark services like Delicious require that you log in to use them.

Xmarks looks like it may help you to overcome all these obstacles. You download it to your computer, but it then integrates with your browser—currently Firefox, Chrome, IE, and Safari (Mac)—to let you create bookmarks with any browser on any machine and share them with yourself on any other machine. You can create sync profiles, so that maybe your work bookmarks can be shared with your personal machine, but not vice versa. In addition, it also keeps a backup of all those bookmarks, just in case.

Xmarks is a free service. You just need to be running one of the supported browsers on Linux, Mac (OS X), or Windows (XP and later).

Download Xmarks

Be two people at once with Multifox

Friday, June 24th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Multifox

Life is a complicated proposition, and your online life is no exception. You probably have several different email addresses you use, and lots of different logins for various sites you frequent. But if you have a couple of different Gmail accounts, for example, typically you have to log out of one before you can log in to another. Sometimes it might be helpful to be able to log into both accounts at the same time.

Multifox is a Firefox add-on that allows you to assume multiple identities at once. Instead of having to log out to change from one Gmail account to another, for example, all you need to do is tell Multifox to add a New Identify Profile and you're off to the races. This tool keeps separate login information, lists of open tabs and windows, and individual sets of sets of cookies for each profile. You can open a window from the menu as a new profile or right-click on a link and follow that link as that other identity.

Multifox is available for both versions 3.6 and 4.0 of the Firefox web browser.

Download Multifox

Full screen web browser

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of Plainview

Sometimes bigger is just better. Bigger car, bigger house, bigger paycheck—we want it all. The same can be said of computer stuff as well. Bigger, faster processors, more storage, huge monitors, the list goes on. Sometimes, however, bigger just isn't big enough. When you visit a website with your high powered cinema display, you still aren't able to take full advantage of that monitor. What you need is a web browser that isn't going to get in the way.

Plainview is a full-screen Web browser. Rather than having to deal with all the various menus, toolbars, and status bars of most browsers, Plainview lets you spread your web page out over the entire display, making full use of that high-powered monitor of yours. While it's nice to look at web pages, from time to time you're going to need some kind of control—maybe to look at another page, or to save an interesting page to a bookmark, or all that other browser-y stuff. Well have no fear; each of these can be easily handled by a quick keystroke combination, or even more easily be just moving your mouse to the top of the screen. As if by magic, your Mac's menubar will appear and you'll be able to drive this app the old fashioned way. But once you're done with this stuff, move the mouse back into the middle of the page, and you're back in full screen mode. In addition, Plainview also features a presentation mode, that lets you pre-program pages you want to display, kind of like a PowerPoint presentation, as well as a kiosk mode, that lets you access pages but nothing else.

Plainview is a free download. It's a Mac application, and runs under Tiger (OS X 10.4) and later.

Download Plainview

Ad blocker for Mac OS X

Friday, December 24th, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of GlimmerBlocker

Let's face it: unless you're an advertiser, getting a page full of ads every time you visit a web page can be a pain in the neck. Along with the general irritation of all that flashing, bouncing stuff, your system's performance takes a hit with all the extra bandwidth needed to download all those images, movies, etc. to your computer. And you're probably not going to buy that stuff anyway.

There are plugins and add-ons for many browsers that help filter this stuff out, but each time you upgrade to the latest version of Safari or Firefox you have to worry that this junk-blocking capability is going to be broken. GlimmerBlocker takes a different approach.

GlimmerBlocker isn't just a browser extension; this tool actually behaves as a proxy server. That means that rather than hacking your browser, it uses its own rules to filter objectionable material. While that means it isn't integrated as tightly into Safari as you might like, it gives you the option of tweaking it by adding CSS rules or judiciously-applied bits of JavaScript. Your browser doesn't have to figure out what to do with ads, because the ads never make it to the browser.

GlimmerBlocker is a Mac application. It runs under OS X 10.5 and later.

Download GlimmerBlocker

Blogging platform with no database required

Friday, September 24th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of FlatPress

You've got a blog, I've got a blog—heck, your cat's probably got a blog. For the ultimate in ease and simplicity, all you need to do is grab a spot on one of the free hosted services and start writing. Of course, the ease of starting up there is offset by the lack of control you have over the look and feel, to say nothing of the functionality of that canned blog. You can always to to the other extreme and install WordPress on your own server. With that, you get flexibility, but you also have to do some of the heavy lifting, especially when it comes to getting all the technical pieces to work and play well together.

FlatPress splits the difference between these two extremes. You host it on your own server, or with your ISP, or whatever your arrangement is. What you don't need to worry about, however, is access to MySQL or some other high-powered database back-end. That's because FlatPress doesn't use a database; it stores all its data in "flat files"—plain old text files that don't require a database engine to use them. Presumably if you're making a zillion posts a day, at some point you're going to take a performance hit for this, but if you're blogging a normal human amount—or a normal kitty amount—you're probably going to be okay.

Since it's an open-source project, you can grab a copy of FlatPress for free. The machine you install it on will need to be running a web server (Apache is great) and have PHP installed as well.

Download FlatPress

Zimbra Desktop challenges Outlook

Friday, July 9th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Zimbra Desktop

We've seen numbers that show that no matter how many web pages there out there, and no matter how much social networking stuff is available, the most-used facility on the Internet is plain old email. Even if you factor out all the spam and junk flying around, that's a lot of email.

Zimbra Desktop is a free email client with a lot of added goodies. It does all the email stuff you'd expect, allowing you read and write messages, and work with both POP and IMAP servers. It's also smart enough to work with web-based mail services like Gmail, Yahoo, and the lot. But along with email, it's also got contact management, calendaring, and more. Think of it as being like Outlook but without Outlook's hefty price tag. And since there are versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, you're going to have to work pretty hard to find a machine you can't use it on.

You can download Zimbra Desktop for free. In addition, they've got big deal enterprise-size network email solutions (not free), although you don't need them to run the free app.

Download Zimbra Desktop

Prism brings web apps to your desktop

Friday, May 7th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Prism

You run tons of software every day, but how much of it actually lives on your machine? If you use Gmail instead of Eudora or Google Docs instead of Word Perfect, you've heard about "software as service" and "cloud computing". Rather than having a copy of somebody's shrink-wrapped software application running on your desktop machine or even a box back in the server room, you're accessing those types of tools via your web browser or otherwise making things happen across the 'Net.

Firing up a full-blown web browser every time you want to check the mail or edit a document can get to be a bit of a pain. You don't need all of the browser's functionality—or all of its distractions—to get your job done. That's where a tool like Prism comes in.

Running as a standalone desktop app or as a plugin to your web browser, Prism basically creates a single-purpose instance of your web browser. Rather than surfing all around, or getting sucked into Facebook, if you're running Google Docs through Prism, you get Google Docs and nothing else. It's kind of like running Word, inasmuch as you've now got a single-purpose tool that helps you get your work done, and doesn't get in the way in the mean time.

Prism is compatible with systems running Linux, OS X, and Windows as a desktop app, or you can run it as an add-on in Firefox. Either way it's free.

Download Prism

A different kind of web browser

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of OmniWeb

There are all kinds of Web browsers out there. We're all familiar with the big guys: IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari. There's even the next level, including such contenders as SeaMonkey and Camino. There's a whole world out there beyond those, but many of them come in under the label "best kept secret." One of those is OmniWeb.

Like most browsers worth their salt, you can use this app to visit web pages and all that. The difference comes in how they implement the various bits and pieces of what you see. Their version of tabs, for instance, doesn't involve real individual tabs; instead, when you open a page in a new tab, it actually loads a thumbnail version of the target page in a pop-out drawer. To view that page, just click on the thumbnail and your current page—which is also shown in that drawer as a thumbnail—goes away and the new one is swapped in. If you've got combinations of pages that you usually access together—maybe Google News, your Gmail screen, and so forth—you can save them all into a Workspace. This makes it easy to restore your various favorites and keep your surroundings familiar. It's also easy to block pop-ups and ads, and even to block Flash content from the pages you view, and that can be a great time and bandwidth saver.

OmniWeb is a Mac program. It runs under OS X 10.4.8 and later.

Download OmniWeb

Only hackers and thieves like weak passwords

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

runs as Online Service
screenshot of The Password Meter

For much of the modern world, all that stands between you and utter disaster is a password. Lots of online accounts depend on an email address as a user name, so if somebody's after your stuff, they're halfway there just by virtue of knowing that address. That means that choosing a good password is even more important.

The best password is the password that has the least meaning in the real world. Your pet's name, dictionary words, the word "password"? Not such good choices. Passwords that include both upper- and lower-case alphabetic characters, numbers, and even punctuation marks are better. And you get bonus points for making them extra long as well. So how do you know if your password is a good one?

Check out The Password Meter. This free online service takes a look at your password and lets you know how it measures up. Sure, there are no "password police" out there to really say that you've made good choices or bad, but these guys will point out places where you could improve things (no repeated characters) and where you've made good choices (including at least three of the four character types listed above). One drawback to this tool is that it caps you at a max of 16 characters for passwords that it tests. The security of your passwords will increase dramatically as the number of characters increases.

If you're a little squeamish about checking real passwords on a non-secure site like this, you can download the tool and run it on your local system. The heavy lifting and analysis is done by a chunk of JavaScript, so it's not really talking to the server.

The Password Meter is a free service. If you've got a browser and care about security, you should be good to go.

Download The Password Meter

Check for typos and misspelled words with After The Deadline

Friday, February 26th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of After The Deadline

When you write in Word, OpenOffice Writer, or any other high-powered word processor, you've got built-in spell checking, grammar checking, and more. But any more, lots of your writing doesn't take place in one of these desktop apps. Writing blog posts, creating Tweets in Twitter, and lots of other places have you composing directly in your web browser, where these types of tools aren't necessarily available to you.

You can add the ability to check spelling, grammar, and usage with After The Deadline. This tool is available as an Add-on for Firefox. Click in a text field on your online form, hit the After The Deadline hotkey, and it'll take a look a things and let you know what it thinks might need attention, highlighting spelling errors in red, problems with grammar in green, and even style suggestions in blue.

And if you don't happen to have Firefox, they've made the core functionality of this tool available as a bookmarklet that you can use with Safari and Internet Explorer.

After The Deadline is free for personal use. All you'll need to use it is a recent copy of Firefox and a dedication to making (and fixing) spelling errors.

Download After The Deadline