Archive for the ‘Windows Internet’ Category

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

Understand your web pages better with Site Inspector

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Site Inspector

If you're serious about web design, then you've got to make sure that your sites and their pages behave as expected under various browsers and situations. One way to deal with this is to make sure you've got several different ones running all at the same time; a more civilized approach might use a tool like Site Inspector.

Site Inspector can let you see what your site would look like under both Microsoft's IE as well as Mozilla's Gecko/Firefox family of browsers. That in itself is probably worth the price of admission. But wait—there's more! You can also list all the images, forms, links, and other goodies on a given page. You can highlight different page elements to better understand why your page is so awesome (or why it is so broken). An onscreen grid can help you fine-tune your page layout.

You can download Site Inspector for free. It's a Windows app, so you'll need to be running at least Windows 98 and have a copy of IE 6 or better. Adding Firefox lets you do the whole two-browser thing as well.

Download Site Inspector

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

Quick and easy web page thumbnails

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Web Page Thumbnails

Some people just love souvenirs. You may recognize them as the ones who can't go to the Grand Canyon without grabbing an official Grand Canyon ashtray or water bottle. On the other hand, it is nice to collect a little something and bring it home with you to help prompt all those happy memories of journeys past. That all works okay if you're traveling around in the real world, but where are the souvenir shops for the trips you take around the web? For those, you're going to need to create your own little bring-along goodies.

Web Page Thumbnails is a tool that can give you a hand. With its easy to use interface, you'll be grabbing web pages and turning them into thumbnail images in no time. It's got a built in web browser, so there's no messy cut-and-paste of URLs between IE or Firefox and this tool. Use your new thumbnails to catalog interesting pages you run across as you wander around the web, or maybe something more useful, like creating a graphical sitemap of your website, complete with pictures. It creates a gallery of images you've already grabbed, so you'll always know where you've been (keeping an eye on where you're going is up to you).

Web Page Thumbnails is a free download. It's a Windows application and will run under WinXP and later.

Download Web Page Thumbnails

Transfer bookmarks and favorites

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Transmute

Hardly a day goes by—or at least hardly a week does—without a new version of some big deal web browser being published. Sure, they've all got the greatest new features and can run rings around what you're already using, but there's one thing they definitely don't have: your bookmarks.

If you've been online for any time at all, you probably have a list of bookmarks and favorites longer than your arm, and it would be a major-league pain in the neck to have to move all that stuff over manually. Good thing there's a tool out there like Transmute.

This application is designed specifically to import and export bookmarks and favorites between different browsers. It supports Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, Safari, and more, so your to- and from browsers are probably included. And it's easy to use; just pick your Source and Target browsers from the drop-down lists and let the exporting begin.

Transmute is a free download. It's a Windows application, although they do offer unsupported versions for Mac and Linux as well.

Download Transmute

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

Turn Firefox into a full-blown file transfer machine

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of FireFTP

Back in the day there were web browsers. You used them to visit sites and, umm, browse the web. Then came Firefox. Sure, you can still use it to look at web pages, but with the advent of Add-ons, now you can do all kinds of extra stuff, from analyzing the structure of web pages to setting-up to-do lists, and more.

FireFTP is a full-blown FTP client that comes as a Firefox Add-on. Once you go through the install process, you've got a fully functioning FTP tool to use for file transfers to- and from your system. It supports both plain vanilla FTP transfers, as well as encrypted SFTP uploads and downloads. Even though the browser and Add-on are platform independent, you will need to go through some extra machinations to get SFTP to work on your Mac or Linux system. It's got enough options to let you customize its behavior in ways that make the most sense to how you work, including saving login info, default directories, and such.

FireFTP is a free download. Since it's a Firefox Add-on, you'll need the Firefox web browser (version 3 or later) to use it.

Download FireFTP

Simple CSS is like stylesheets with training wheels

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Simple CSS

There's no doubt that Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are the wave of the future for web page layout and formatting. Gone are the days when everything was a table and <FONT> tags ruled the day. Stylesheets give you much greater flexibility and accuracy in your text formatting and page layout. Unfortunately it's not always easy to figure out just which commands to use to get the job done.

Simple CSS tries to help make the whole stylesheet thing easier. A desktop app, you can use a series of dropdown lists to build your style rules. It's almost always easier to pick stuff from a list that to pull them up from memory, and this seems to be no exception. Text formatting, page layout, borders, and more are available to you. Use it to create new stylesheets, or import existing ones and use it to tweak them and get them just right.

Available in both Windows and Mac versions, Simple CSS is a free download. The Windows version runs under Win98 and later; for Mac it's a Universal Binary and runs under OS X and should do fine with Tiger (10.4).

Download Simple CSS

Capture an entire web page into a single image

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

runs on Windows
screenshot of WebShot

Taking screenshots of web pages is a way of life. Maybe you've created a new page or site and need to show it to a client. Maybe you're documenting your work and want to grab a whole page to stick onto a report. Either way, it's not easy to capture a whole page. Use your machine's standard screen print functionality, and you're going to grab the visible portion of the web page at best, but if your page is longer than that, you're pretty much out of luck. Or you can save your screen as a PDF, but now you've taken one continuous screen and stuffed it into a multiple-page document. That's not really what you had in mind either.

WebShot lets you capture the whole page—not just the visible portion—into a single file—no multiple pages here. If your page is 2500 pixels tall, for example, then your screenshot file is going to be 2500 pixels tall. You get the whole page with none of the traditional limitations. You can save into several different image file formats, so you can use your pretty pictures however you want.

WebShot is a Windows app. It runs under Windows 2000 or later. You'll also need the most recent version of Internet Explorer to make things work right.

Download WebShot