Recent software trials

* Via lockergnome, XrayPC — another useful tool for isolating spyware and other malware. Also note this review of spyware fighters. You probably should be running a couple tools on all your machines. The free tool as part of the yahoo toolbar is a great value.
* Drivesitter. I’m not sure why but I love these tools that watch your harddisk and attempt to predict failures. I have backups of everything important and so a HD failure is not catastrophic for me but it is a time waster and I’d like to know if a failure is imminent.
* MT Posting plugin for Newsgator. Promises to combine two of my favorite pieces of software — alas it doesn’t work for me yet due to my security config, I’m in contact with Newsgator support.
* Mike points in here to PDF speedup — man everyone needs to run this, the adobe reader is jammed so full of crap that most of us don’t need.
* Now that I have finished Halflife 2 missions (though am still vastly entertained by the online deathmatch — gravity guns rule!), here’s a whole trove of free games
* Chris points to a bunch of nice editors, one of these will probably find its way onto my machines.
* PortQueryUI from MSFT. Haven’t had time to play with this yet but will soon.
* Another from MSFT — a tool to see if have a good MPEG decoder. Why does the Windows Media Player make your codec config such a mystery? It is hard to tell what you have installed, unless you grovel the registry.

Lastly a nice post from LarryO about hiding complexity. This sure feels like the reason a lot of software goes wrong…

Software roundup 11/25

* Software I’ve tried — from Scoble, the cleartype tuner, I had no idea I needed this; ID3-TagIt, hugely useful for cleaning up mp3s; Hector Protector — just plain odd, MSFT clearly has too much time on its collective hands.
* Software I mean to tryEvernote — looks nice, will it sync with my bberry or blog?; converting windows movie maker files to DV2; via thoughtsonthinking, a whole list of great software; Sanmelody — a better way to network files at home?
* Interesting — it’s almost 2005 and we are still using the fat filesystem on consumer devices.

Utilities roundup

Since I can’t play Halo2 today, trying out other software:

* from Gadgetopia I found Editplus. Love the integrated FTP support.
* Firefox 1.0 releaseirresponsibly upgrading all machines now…
* Furrygoat points to the MSFT error code lookup tool — as he says despite the title this tool works for all windows error codes.
* Marc points to a new version of Clipmate. Ok I didn’t really try this one, just posted here because it reminded me of WFW and the mods we did to the clipboard to support network sharing of clipboard items — boy was that a waste of time.
* Turborisk — a free classic. OK the opponents are braindead but it is free.
* Photostory 3. Free. Haven’t tried yet but intend to…
* Udell talks about MSH — this looks pretty cool. I waded thru the beta signup process and have my key so I can try later today.

And I’ll close on a good general point raised at Microsoft MonitorThere is no reason why back-up capabilities shouldn’t be built into digital content software, even if consumers don’t immediately use the function.

Microsoft home media software

Been a busy couple of weeks…

* Comcast deploying MSFT software — how do I get on the trial? Will it work with my existing fairly new comcast pvr settop box? The comcast/moto provided software is so clunky, I would love an alternative.
* Looks like a little ecosystem of media center addins is developing…
* MSN remote record will let you remotely futz with your media center box…

It’s too bad that it is so hard for consumers to get their hands on all the above — waiting for your cable company to roll the features out is no way to kickstart a market, nor is depending on new pc purchases. Contrast with the Halo2 release which is going to be a huge hit — consumers have an easy way to acquire the product.

UPDATE: according to someone who should know re the comcast/msft offering, “This is not a trial ? it?s full fledged commercial deployment to over a million subscriber in Washington state. The software will be eventually downloaded to all set top boxes including the older stuff, but I would warmly recommend upgrading to Comcast?s new dual-tuner DVR with HD. It?s a steal at $9.95 a month and if you already have HD, it?s only $4.95. You can order it starting next week”. I can’t find it on the comcast web site yet but I’ll check daily.

firefox share goals

From Paul Thurott, the Firefox marketing team is aiming for 10% share: Bart Decrem, the marketing contact for the Mozilla Foundation, told ZDNet UK on Friday that he expects the browser’s market share to reach 10 percent by the end of 2005. “I think we’ll get to 10 percent over the next year. We don’t have 10 percent of the Web at the moment, but we have the momentum,” claimed Decrem.

C’mon guys, get aggressive! Strike while the iron is hot. You should strive to get to 30% over the next year. If you don’t set an aggressive goal, you won’t get great results.

Software roundup

* Halflife 2 coming and will require online activation — we just downloaded the new counterstrike variant with the HL2 engine — oh my god does it look gorgeous, it has toppled Far Cry as the best looking game ever — on an x800 xt anyway.
* Lamp stacks a popular notion
* Save this for later — how to fix Media Center autoplay DVD behaviour
* Monitor IM traffic on your network — if you don’t want to see it in tomorrow’s newspaper, don’t type it.
* FlightSim history — I remember the old Apple ][ cassette version, just stick figures for mountains. You could fly off the stick figure grid and just start randomly flying thru Apple ][ memory, and the game did it’s best to render the contents as stick figure geography.

Interesting software this week

* WinXP Media Center 2005 unbundled — hey anyone (rich?) want to go in on a 3-pak with me?
* Raymond on WMI — this scriptomatic thing sounds cool
* fireFTP — an FTP plugin for Firefox
* Slashdot thread on VNC software — I didn’t know all these choices existed.
* Firefox tips and tricks
* 43folders — lots of cool mac software — have to buy a mac again
* Rich is playing Call of Duty UO — hey rich try Tribes Vengeance as well.
* Nanocrew blog — all kinds of good DRM avoiding links

Firefox Extensions

OK I love the fact that there are a gazillion extensions available. But my gosh this is confusing. There is a huge need for an authoritative editorial voice and packager — someone who pulls together the bundle of extensions needed for normal browsing, for a web developer, for an RSS junkie, for image-centric browsing, etc etc.


Like Rich, I am pretty enamored of Firefox right now. The community of addon developers, the ease of installing addons, tabbed browsing — great stuff.

It is interesting that browser innovation has been so slow over the last 3-4 years. Given that we spend so much time staring at this app, you’d have thought there would have been a lot more going on. Glad to see the pace picking up.

One thing I wonder about is the “One Size Fits All” design of the browser. We spend all day in this app, but we are actually doing very different things at different times. But the app provides a single set of fairly generic features, controls, menu items — a set that is constant across all our usage.

I think we are doing very different tasks during the day tho. I can think of at least 4 classes of distinct usage — and I think we might want different features in our supporting app for each usage scenario.

# “Intranet” apps. Outlook Web Access, MT/blogging, Wikis/Collab apps, etc. Usually behind a tighter security wall, a lot of data input compared to other usages. I use these apps continually, I want very quick access to them, I want high security but I don’t want to have to fight thru all the trust/security config in the browser to make these sites work (remember passwords, permit popups, allow scripting, allow java, allow activex, permit cookies, etc etc etc), i want much better in-browser editing tools, i want easy file upload/download, etc.
# Commerce/shopping. I want great automatic search for competitive prices and offers, I want easy autofill of forms, I want to easily go back and check past transactions and their status including shipping, I want to easily save all the “transaction completed” pages, I want to see relevant ads from competitive vendors, I want to see user reviews, etc etc.
# Search (not commerce oriented). I want much better navigation of search results — easy ability to drill down on found pages but then easy to pop back up to the root, i want to save search results (the exact pages i find ala furl), i want meta search, i could go on for a while here.
# Reading. There are a set of sites I hit every day that sadly don’t have RSS feeds — mostly commercial sports sites. I want to easily hit these pages every day, navigate thru new articles — I kind of want the same behaviour for these sites that I get for RSS-enabled sites thru my aggregator.

Seems to me there is room to innovate in the browser to make it more task/usage specific.