Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Dec 9, 08 - 7:57 am

Categories //
Google
Software
Technology
Web

Comments Off

Just in time to help you with your holiday shopping, Google on Monday said that it had added a lightweight to-do list called Tasks to Gmail.

Google engineers Jonathan Terleski, Michael Lancaster, and Brett Lider have published a blog post with the details:

To enable Tasks, go to Settings, click the Labs tab (or just click here if you’re signed in). Select “Enable” next to “Tasks” and then click “Save Changes” at the bottom. Then, after Gmail refreshes, on the left under the “Contacts” link, you’ll see a “Tasks” link. Just click it to get started.

Adding a new task is just a matter of clicking inside an empty part of one’s list, typing, and hitting return. E-mail messages can also be converted to Tasks using the menu More Actions/Add To Tasks.

Google has been throwing new features at Gmail with abandon recently. In June, it opened Gmail Labs. In October, it launched seven features for Gmail: Gmail Gadgets, emoticons for messages, Gmail for mobile version 2.0, Canned Responses, contact manager improvements, advanced IMAP controls, and Mail Goggles. Last month, Gmail got Themes, Video and Voice Chat, and stickers.

Frankly, I wish they’d slow down a little. Every time I open Gmail, there’s something new to learn about.


Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Oct 30, 08 - 1:38 pm

Categories //
Google
Open Source
Software
Technology

Comments Off

Google on Wednesday released a new version of its Chrome browser, the third Chrome beta release.

Chrome users can expect an automatic update soon.

Version 0.3.154.9 fixes a security issue that allowed address spoofing in pop-up windows:

“The window’s address bar could be manipulated to show a different address than the actual origin of the content,”

- Mark Larson
Google Chrome program manager
Source: blog post

Version 0.3.154.9 also enables laptop touchpad scrolling, improves plug-in and proxy performance and reliability, fixes a PDF crash generated by closing a tab, and eliminates the storage of data from secure sites.

The updated Chrome also has benefited from some housekeeping and interface changes. The menu commands “New incognito window” and “New window” now always open new windows, privacy protected and normal, respectively. The spell checker now works on text input fields and allows users to add words to the spell check dictionary, and file downloading has been changed to make it more secure.

Chrome is currently a distant fourth in terms of market share. According to Net Applications, the global browser market-share breakdown, as of October 30, is as follows:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer (71.52%)
  • Mozilla Firefox (19.46%)
  • Apple Safari (6.65%)
  • Google Chrome (0.78%)
  • Opera (0.69%)

Chrome is currently available for Windows XP and Vista; Google plans to release a Mac version in the near future.


Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Oct 7, 08 - 5:54 am

Categories //
Google
Software
Technology
Web

Comments Off

Every so often Google adds something new to Google Labs, where it tests non final versions of software that may or may not become a standard feature.

Google Labs

The latest is called Mail Goggles — a play on “beer goggles” — that just might save your tail when it comes to e-mail.

Everyone has probably done it. Late at night, clouded by fatigue, you send an e-mail to someone that you later wish you could recall.

Heaven forbid you send an e-mail after consuming a few alcoholic beverages. That’s a recipe for disaster, and one that is all too easy to serve up given the proliferation of smartphones with mobile e-mail capabilities.

You surely remember the term “beer goggles” from when you were in college. You know, the more you drink, the more attractive you are likely to find someone of the opposite sex (even if they aren’t).

When you were on the prowl, you probably had a wingman or other friend who served as a filter to prevent you from making a mistake when you were wearing your beer goggles.

It’s in the spirit of protecting us from our inner e-mail demons that Google engineers brewed up Mail Goggles. Think of Mail Goggles as your new, electronic wingman.

According to The Official Gmail Blog:

“When you enable Mail Goggles, it will check that you’re really sure you want to send that late night Friday e-mail. And what better way to check than by making you solve a few simple math problems after you click send to verify you’re in the right state of mind?

By default, Mail Goggles is only active late night on the weekend, as that is the time you’re most likely to need it. Once enabled, you can adjust when it’s active in the General settings.”

Some people will either love this feature or hate it. For me, I love it. Not that I’m out on the prowl these days and need a wingman :)


Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Sep 5, 08 - 6:09 am

Categories //
Apple
Open Source
Software
Technology

Comments Off

Apple's iPhone Apps StoreApple’s iPhone Apps Store approval process clearly has some bugs to work out. Apps will be approved, and then pulled. Some bad apps remain in the store, while others aren’t approved at all.

The latest casualty is an application that, well, I probably shouldn’t publish what it does here in the first paragraph, but Beavis and Butt-head would have loved it.

The rejected application is called iFartz. I think you can figure out for yourself what the application does. The rejection letter was sent to the application’s developer by an Apple employee named Victor Wang.

According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Mr. Wang is “a near legend for his rejection letters, usually long, delayed, and for aesthetic reasons that leave developers blinking with surprise.”

But, really. Is anyone surprised that an application called iFartz, which has what Apple called “limited utility,” wasn’t approved? I’m not surprised. Much.

TUAW writer Erica Sadun calls iFartz “a simple, stupid joke app … but it’s the kind of simple, stupid joke app that a lot of people would download and use because people like simple, stupid joke apps.”

The author of iFartz has taken his case online. He set up a Web page begging (and scolding) Apple. On that page, he wrote:

“Sure, the App Store makes it nice and easy to find, purchase, and install iPhone applications, but is it worth the cost of a single authority telling us what they think adds utility? Ironically, if ‘limited utility’ was a factor by which we judged all software development, Mac OS probably would have died in the ’90s. At the very least, we can show Apple they’re wrong, that there’s a demand for Pull My Finger. Join this campaign pledging to spend up to $0.99 cents if PMF is accepted to the iTunes store.”

But Sadun says it better. She writes:

“Until Apple offers developers a firm set of guidelines, developers will continue to be ticked off by seemingly arbitrary rejections like this one. Apple needs to step forward, and do so soon, with a clear set of guidelines that explain to developers exactly what to expect when they press that ‘submit’ button for their new app. Developers shouldn’t be wasting Apple’s time with unpublishable software. Apple should not be wasting Developers’ time with a secretive and arbitrary review process.”

Until Apple does send out a usable set of guidelines for developers, we’ll have to abide by its sense of what’s good and what isn’t, rather than let us determine for ourselves.

Apple, can’t you let the free market decide?


Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Sep 1, 08 - 12:58 pm

Categories //
Google
Open Source
Software
Technology

Comments Off

Google ChromeYes, you read that correctly. Google is taking a major swipe at its competitors with the imminent launch of Chrome, a new Web browser based on Webkit, thus marks the beginning of a new phase in the browser wars.

Kara Swisher at All Things Digital got perhaps one of the biggest scoops of the year. She spoke to some people familiar with some of the projects Google is working on.

Those sources say that Google is set to unveil a brand new Web browser that will be available to everyone as early as tomorrow (Tuesday).

Not only is Google going announcing a new browser, but it is making the announcement with a comic book. That’s hot.

Google has talked the browser talk for years. The last time I heard anything formal about it from the Google camp was nearly a year ago. Looks like Google is ready to walk the browser walk with Chrome.

Here are some details about what makes Chrome so great, as relayed by Blogoscoped.

Chrome is an open source browse based on Webkit. It will include aspects of Google’s Gears. It will include a JavaScript Virtual Machine that is being dubbed “V8″. This virtual machine, built by a bunch of coders in Denmark, can be embedded within another browser. It will also help render pages faster.

Google is taking some features from Firefox, such as the tabs, and adding its own spin, placing them above the address bar rather than below it. The address bar will have an auto-complete feature, much like that of Firefox. The Chrome browser home page will offer a speed-dial feature, similar to the one seen on Opera’s desktop browser.

My favorite feature is that Chrome will have a “privacy” mode. Surfing with the privacy setting enabled will create a new browsing window and allow you to browse with no history of what occurs in that window being stored on the computer. In other words, you can browse sites and no one will be able to track down where you’ve been on that machines.

A few other things include the ability to launch Web applications in their own browser window, absent the address bar, and tools to help fight malware and phishing.

This all sounds amazing so far. Google appears to be taking some of the great features of Firefox and Opera, merging them, and setting it up as an open source project.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still has the lion’s share of the market. Firefox and, to a lesser extent, Opera, have put a dent in that marketshare. Neither, however, has matched Microsoft.

How will Chrome compare? Can it stand up to such weathered competition? Will it really take marketshare away from Microsoft, or will it bleed users away from Firefox and Opera?

Only time will answer those questions. Until then, I am looking forward to taking Chrome for a test spin.


Posted by //
Sean

Date //
Aug 23, 08 - 1:13 pm

Categories //
Open Source
Software
Technology
Web

Comments Off

Mozilla Labs announced the winners in their contest for the best Firefox 3 add-ons. The Extend Firefox contest received over 100 entries. Tags and bookmarks ruled the winners. See if you can find one or two new extensions to try out.

Best New Add-on

Pencil is a user interface prototyping tool. Not your ordinary extension and it could be useful, too.

Tagmarks is tagging in a click. Rather than use words to describe a bookmark, click icons.

HandyTag uses text tags, but doesn’t make you create them yourself (though you still can). Grabs common tags from del.icio.us and other sources.

Best Updated Add-on

Read It Later has almost hit 1.0. This extension makes it easy to create a “to read” list without the clutter of using standard bookmarks.

TagSifter provides several different ways to browse through the tags you’ve already created. Advanced users can use some fancy logic syntax to find just what they want (i.e., tagged with movie and comedy, but not jackblack).

Bookmarks Preview brings coverflow to bookmarks. Scroll through thumbnails of the pages before deciding where to go.

In addition to these six, the judges also chose some excellent honorable mentions (Close and Forget is a neat idea, if not a little paranoid).

Also, probably in honor of sponsor Last.fm, the judges named Fire.fm the best music add-on.