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September’s News – Special Issue

A few days ago Google celebrated its 11-th birthday. I think it’s a good reason to dedicate my September’s News post to Google innovations. So, this September:

Google Chrome version 3.0  Final released a year after this browser’s  birthday. New stable release is claimed to be significantly faster, supports HTML5, has new better Tab page and of course great Chrome Themes. But there is still no version for Mac. Let’s wait.

One more invention of search giant was delivered this month – Google Fast Flip. Controversial yet worth trying news reader that presents news and articles just like in printed magazine. Mobile version of Fast Flip is available as well. As for me, Fast Flip’s interface is not perfect yet, but it does its main job – browsing news becomes faster.

An old idea in the new implementation – Google Sidewiki, an add-on for Firefox and Internet Explorer which lets users to discuss web pages from browser sidebar. Sidewiki adds button to Google Toolbar and looks like a sidebar when active. It offers you to add your opinion about web pages you visit. When you highlight text on a page, a little icon appears on the left side. Click it to open sidebar and post your entry about the page.


Happy Birthday Google! We’re waiting for your new achievements.

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September 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Useful Freewares for Everyday Use

Let me share a few freewares I use every day. These helpful tools will make the part of life you spend working on computer much easier and more pleasant. Try them out.

1. doPDF – this tool allows converting documents into PDF format. doPDF adds virtual printer driver to your system. That means you can save files as PDF in any program with Print option. Simply select Print from an application and choose doPDF as a printer. The tool allows setting custom resolution and paging scaling, choosing one of predefined page sizes, etc. The great feature: doPDF creates PDF file that are searchable by both people and search engines. OS: Windows all.


2. Q-Dir – a multifunctional file manager. Its distinctive feature is unusual interface with four panels displaying files and folders. The program has to versions – for 32-bit and 64-bit systems/ This file manager lets quickly access most often used folders, generate file thumbnails, etc. Q-Dir integrates into Windows context menu. It supports working with ZIP archives and FTP links. Q-dir includes some great tools to simplify your file management. They are screen magnifier, color filter, highlight filter, file-filter, quick-link’s for fast folder access and many other. OS: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/Vista.


3. AkelPad – small yet handy and fast text editor. It can process text documents in single or multi window mode, provides full support of Unicode strings and codepages. With AkelPad, you can edit even read-only files and preview files before opening. Other great features: column text selection, multi-level undo, fast search/replace, print option. AkelPad can be installed on Windows Vista and Windows 7 to replace NotePad.


Hope you’ll enjoy them!

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September 17, 2009 Posted by | Software | , , , , | Leave a comment

iCal for Windows – get iCalendar events on your desktop

“iCalendar is a standard for calendar data exchange. The standard is sometimes referred to as “iCal”, which also is the name of the Apple, Inc. calendar program…”
As iCalendar is to be used in Apple Macintosh operating system environment, there is lots of tips how to show iCal on Mac desktop. And there is so few information about iCal on Windows desktop that one can think there are only Mac users who need iCalendar on their desktops. Nevertheless, iCalendars became much more popular last years than they were in times of iCal invention because of using iPhones and iPods, Google Calendar and other web-based applications that support and use iCal format. And you got the possibility to have iCalendar directly on your Windows Desktop.
Screen Calendar, desktop time-management and calendar application, lets you import iCalendar events from local or remote files, subscribe to web sources in .ics format and have your iCal events always on your fingertips even when you’re offline.
Screen Calendar lets you:

  • Import events from iCal files to your desktop calendar
  • Add or edit events and export results to iCal file
  • Subscribe to iCalendar sources for automatic update
  • Always show iCalendar events on the desktop even when you’re offline

Now you can order Screen Calendar with discount and get 20% off the regular price of Screen Calendar till September 30th, 2009

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September 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Browser Malware Protection Test – Thought Provoking Results

NSS Labs issued results of its second test of web browser protection against socially engineered malware. Social engineering is a technique of deceiving Web users to receive their personal information and get profit out of it. As an example, this can be an email supposedly sent by your bank with the request to confirm your credit card details. Or it may be sent supposedly by your social network support staff and contain a link to the fake page where you should enter your username and password to verify your profile or get access to the new interface. Both credit card details and your profile details will be used by violators to get material or immaterial profit. Even the most experienced Web user can be hooked by “social engineers”. It’s needless to say that newbie can be hooked by them easily. That’s why we need protection against this way too widespread web evil.

12 days’ testing of the most popular web browsers conducted by NSS Labs showed which browsers protect users from visiting malicious web sites best of all. NSS Labs tested the latest generally available versions of web browsers and got the following results:

  • Internet Explorer 8 became a leader with almost 81% protection from malware. This great result proves that SmartScreen technology is really worthwhile. The result is even more overwhelming when compared to Internet Explorer 7‘s 4% protection – IE has made a great progress.

  • Firefox 3 achieved 27% catch rate against malware. This is the highest result among products based on Google SafeBrowsing API.

  • Safari 421%.

  • Chrome 27%.

  • Opera 10 Beta as well as Opera 9 provides almost no protection with 1% catch rate.

    Do you hate using Internet Explorer just like I do? Even if your answer is “yes”, this report gives cause to consider using it once again🙂 . Meanwhile, you can download the full report here.

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    August 27, 2009 Posted by | Browsers, internet | 2 Comments

    Firefox add-ons for Facebook

    After switching to Firefox 3.5, it’s time to revise add-ons that makes your connecting with Facebook friends easier, faster and much more pleasant. Here is the list of Firefox add-ons for Facebook – Firefox 3.5 compatible only!

    facebook_icon1Facebook Toolbar is one of the most widespread Firefox add-ons for Facebook users. Still, it’s reported to not always work smoothly for Firefox 3.5.x, so maybe you’d better replace it with the following toolbar:

    friendbar Friendbar – integrates both Facebook and Twitter activities. It displays a running stream of text and photo updates from Facebook and Twitter, and allows you to post updates, retweet, direct messages, and replies.

    boost Boost for Facebook – add tons of Facebook features to Firefox – autopoke, auto-login, hundreds of skins, album options, rollover pics, etc. The best is that Boost options are selectable – you can use only what you need.

    pad FacePAD – Facebook Photo Album Downloader.  FacePAD allows you to download your friends’ facebook albums, Events albums, and Group Albums. It takes some time to get all the features working, but it does the job.

    facebook_video Facebook Video lets you download or convert Facebook videos, and embed videos outside of Facebook. The download, convert video, and customize code links are added to Facebook video pages in an unobtrusive way.

    user_search Facebook User Search – the name speaks for itself.  Search for Facebook users either using their names or email address.

    web_forum Facebook Web Forum – Chat on any web site you browse. This extension adds a sidebar from which you can start discussions and join top or latest discussions. It’s easy to show/hide, but one can’t adjust sidebar width.

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    August 19, 2009 Posted by | Browsers, Mozilla Firefox, Social Networks | , , | 3 Comments

    Create Flash Audio Player of Winamp Skin

    The post is republished from Flash’y’mania blog by kind authority of its author Helen Grigorieva

    In spite of emerging lots of mp3 players software, Winamp still remains the classic of media players. Thousands of skins add to its brilliant features ability to change player’s appearance to anyone’s liking. It’s great to have such options for web audio players too. And we’ve got the possibility to do it with neat FlashWAmp tool.

    FlashWAmp is so easy to use – all you need is Winamp skin you like and mp3 tracks you want to embed to the web page. Or you can even use URLs of mp3 files to stream them directly from the web.

    Options to customize player in FlashWAmp are rather numerous:

    • Player view – normal or small with or without playlist
    • Sound options (autoplay, repeat sound)
    • Playlist options (playlist height, option to change visible playlist).

    Settings can be saved to cookies for further use.

    The tool has lots of advantages and the main is that it really allows to make flash audio player of WinAmp skin in minutes. Then the player is saved as SWF file and can be easily published to the Web. But it’s necessary to mention its disadvantages as well:

    • audio can’t be embedded into the player, it is external only. That is not very good for bloggers who can’t create folders on the hosts to store player file, mp3 files and playlist file in one folder
    • the program is compatible with Winamp 2.x skins only. Still, these skins are easy to find – for example, here.

    I think that the idea to make flash audio players of Winamp skins is brilliant. Not only because there are thousands of skins of any kind, but also because Winamp is familiar to everyone. Sometimes I see mp3 web players of so weird design, that I don’t even know where to click to make this futuristic device play. Moreover, I can understand that this is a web music player only when I see playlist. I never want to make my website visitors guess whether this stuff play music, or open game, or what on the earth it can do. I want them just see the player and enjoy the music. Familiar Winamp interface will simplify listening to the music from your web page, even for dummies. That’s why I like FlashWAmp.

    So, try and create your own Web Winamp FlashWAmp player🙂

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    August 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

    July’s Most Interesting and Important News

    calendar_julyI realize that you’ve already read that many times, but this July’s news can’t be imagined without mentioning the announcement of Google’s new project – Google Chrome OS. Chrome operating system is intended to be lightweight and web-oriented. For now  no one  cares whether web apps only would be enough for users or not and how fast software manufacturers would release Chrome compatible programs. Everyone’s just wondering whether Google can compete Microsoft. Still, Google now position Chrome as operating system for netbooks and nettops, so the only prospective rival of Chrome OS is Windows 7 and particularly its version for netbooks and nettops.

    Microsoft keeps up with Google in giving occasion to buzz about. Less then in a week after Google’s announcement of Chrome OS, Microsoft has announced that the new version of Office – MS Office 2010 – will include Web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. You can see Office 2010 preview at the preview site.

    The less buzzy but not less interesting July’s news are:

    1. On July 14th, 2009 Bit.ly celebrated its first birthday. One year old URL shortening service is already a serious competitor of tinyurl.com which held the first place in this field for years. And the main achievement is that Bit.ly became Twitter’s default URL shortener instead of tinyurl.com. 4 characters shorter – this means a lot when you have only 140 chars for a tweet.

    2. Google already removed Beta label off its popular services – Gmail,  Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk. It’s a little surprising, even though successfully works for 5 years, because users got used to Beta label. If you still can’t imagine Gmail out of Beta, go to Settings > Labs in your Gmail account and enable “Back to Beta” option.

    3. Firefox 3.5 released. In the first 24 hour after release it was downloaded by more than 5 mln people. Of course it’s less than 7.7 mln for Firefox 3.0, but the number is still overwhelming. Read more about Firefox 3.5 new features and find useful tips in my review.

    4. Bing launched BingTweets search tool to combine Bing Web search and Twitter search. This is not actually what I consider to be real-time search, but it’s probably a step towards this. Bing and Twitter search results are displayed in two different boxes now. What I don’t like is that Twitter results emerge one by one and the oldest goes down. When the search is finished, you can see 4-5 latest tweets only and can’t scroll down to read even the tweets you saw while they emerged in the window. Other features work pretty well, including the option to share or tweet your search results.

    Keep up with the latest news! Stay tuned.

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    July 21, 2009 Posted by | Google, internet, Social Networks, twitter, Web 2-0, Windows | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

    TwitTruth – Twitter Lie Detector

    Do you want to learn who is who on Twitter? Who are your new Twitter friends – promoters or engagers, what are chances they will respond to direct messages, what percent of their posts contains links, retweets, hashtags, etc.? Learn the truth at TwitTruth.com. It gives various statistics about Twitter accounts registered in TwitTruth.

    You can add your account by simply logging in to Twitter and allowing TwitTruth to access your account. Also, you can invite other Twitter users to add their accounts.

    One more interesting thing – on a home page of TwitTruth.com you will find a list of the top 500 Twitter users and statistics for their accounts. Go and learn the Twitter Truth!


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    July 7, 2009 Posted by | internet, Online tools, twitter, Web 2-0 | , , | 2 Comments

    Firefox 3.5 New Features and Useful Tips

    In a year after the record braking Firefox 3.0, Mozilla releases Firefox 3.5 to make web surfing even faster and handier.

    Here are the new features of FF 3.5 and tips how to use them:

    Private Browsing: surf the Web without leaving a single trace. Start to browse privately by clicking  Tools > Start Private Browsing or Ctrl+Shift+P.

    Forget About This Site: the option to forget about a particular web site you have visited that means all entries related to that site will be removed from your browser history. To forget a site, go to History > Show all history (or press Ctrl+Shift+H) and in the Library window right-click the site you want Firefox to forget about and select Forget About This Site.

    Smooth Scrolling through Tabs: if you have a lot of tabs open, put your mouse on the row of tabs and scroll with the mouse wheel through tabs to easily find the one you need. Note that scrolling works only when you have so many tabs opened that the scrolling arrows appear on the right and on the left of tabs row.

    If you have not so many tabs opened, you can try this shortcut for fast moving to the tab you need: press Ctrl + the number of tab you want to view, for example, Ctrl+2 for the second tab.

    Location-Aware Browsing: Firefox 3.5 comes with a new location-aware browsing (geolocation) feature that is enabled by default. It identifies your location using your computer’s IP, Google’s random client identifier, etc. and share it with the websites that ask for location data. Don’t be scared, data isn’t shared without your permission. Any time a website asks for your location data, Firefox will show you a message so that you can choose whether you want to share or not to share geolocation data with this website. Settings you chose can be remembered for this site so that you shouldn’t click buttons every time you visit the website.

    If you don’t like the idea to share your geolocation data at all, try more advanced way to solve the problem. Type about:config in the Firefox address bar, enter geo.enabled into the filter form. Double-click geo.enabled entry so that its value become “false”. Geolocation feature is now disabled for you.

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    July 1, 2009 Posted by | Browsers, internet, Mozilla Firefox | 2 Comments

    Social Mention – a Real Time Search Platform

    Real-time search is what everyone talks about and looks for nowadays. Are you not satisfied with usual organic search and want to have the latest news only in your search results? Try Social Mention search.

    “Social Mention is a social media search platform that aggregates user generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information”.

    The number of social media monitored by Social Mention is rather big – more than 80 including the most popular like Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google, Yahoo, WordPress, Technorati, etc.

    Social Mention search is not very fast, but the results you get for every query are really up-to-date and rather relevant. Results can be sorted by date, source, and post rank; you can view results for a specified time only. As well as in Google, you can apply phrase search (“your query” – in quotes) to narrow your search and get the most relevant results.


    Social Mention also provides social media alerts. They are much like well known Google Alerts, but for social media – free daily email alerts on selected search phrases. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed for mentions of certain keyword and save your search results as CSV\Excel file.

    Besides, you can get a kind of analysis of your search term popularity – you can see strength, sentiment, passion and reach values for each query. Also you’ll see the info about average time per mention, last mention time, unique authors, retweets, top keywords, top users, top hashtags, rank of the posts that mention your search term and sources where your term is mentioned most often.

    Maybe, search results provided by Social Mention sometimes need to be more relevant, but I like the idea and believe  that Socialmention.com is a good implementation of real time search idea and it will be improved in the future.

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    June 25, 2009 Posted by | internet, Online tools, search engines, Social Networks, Web 2-0 | Leave a comment