Anyone can benchmark a Web browser. While the overall validity of any given browser test can vary, in terms of how well it actually indicates a browser's average performance, there are nevertheless a ton of different ways to approximate your browser's rendering speeds. And not only can you run these tools across different versions of a single browser--you can use the benchmarks to compare competing browsers to determine which is really the best combination of speed and features for you.
Alright, Adobe Creative Suite 5, here's the deal: I really, really want to put my hands on all the neat features and general awesomeness you offer. That's not an admission of a fanboy, it's a gentle acknowledgment that this is the industry-leading suite of software for those that dabble with multimedia across a variety of formats.
That said, not all of us have a stock portfolio to dump off in an effort to raise the funds to purchase said Creative Suite. And this is the weekly Freeware Files column after all. Which leads us to a grand proposition: Can one recreate the best of Adobe's CS5 with freeware and open-source applications?
Fans of Twitter who own a BlackBerry can cast aside any lingering feelings of Android or iPhone OS envy. Why so? The uber popular microblogging site has teamed up with Research in Motion to develop a Twitter app for BlackBerry, which is now available for download.
"When you talk about messaging and mobile phones, BlackBerry immediately comes to mind and it was no surprise to us that it has become one of the most popular mobile platforms for Twitter around the world," Twitter's Kevin Thau wrote in a blog post.
The app features real-time BlackBerry push of Twitter direct messages, camera and photo gallery integration, browser integration for Tweeting links, a customizable interface for changing fonts and hiding toolbars, notifications of @mentions, the ability to search for users, content, and trending topics, and a few other odds and ends.
PDFs. Why do we use PDFs? It's a question I've asked myself time and time again during the following scenarios: my default PDF reader crashing my browser whenever I erroneously click on a link to the blasted extension, an image- or page-packed PDF consuming all of the system resources on my work machine, and while I'm spending extra time to convert a perfectly likable file (.doc) into a new format that's compatible with even more people. At least, I think that's the reason.
But really, though, why do we use PDFs? Perhaps it's the wrong question I should be asking, however. Sad to say, PDFs are here to stay. And I must confess, filling out a PDF form has a certain elegance to it (and built-in digital signature support) that you just can't find in a standard text file or Word document (or OpenOffice.org document).
So instead of asking ourselves how we can rid the world of PDFs, we should really be thinking about the various ways we can improve our interactions with PDF files. That's where this week's Freeware Files comes into play. I'm going to show you five freeware or open-source apps that'll hopefully ease the burden you face when you're trying to manipulate this quirky file format. As well, I'll show you a few more features and tricks you can use to turn your own PDF routines into nothing short of a master class.
Enterprise software maker Sybase on Tuesday said it plans to update its mobile device enterprise management software, Afaria, to support iPads and Google Android OS devices.
"The popularity of highly functional smart mobile devices, such as iPhone, Android and now the iPad, is significantly impacting enterprise mobility support requirements as these devices increasingly cross over from consumers into the corporate setting," said Jack Gold, president and principal analyst of J. Gold Associates, LLC. "The extensive communities currently established around mobile development will enable a near term and dramatic growth of data-rich deployments of enterprise-class applications where security and manageability are key requirements. Companies such as Sybase that exhibit leadership and a deep expertise in enterprise mobility, security and management, will be required to drive this emerging evolution in mobile business solutions."
The updated software, which will be available in in Q2 in the Afaria 6.5 feature pack, will include a new ability to manage Android devices from the Afaria console, expanded management capabilities such as the ability to perform a remote kill for iPhone and iPad, expanded security to block unknown or non-compliant devices from accessing corporate assets for mobile devices, and enhancements to scalability, Sybase said.
Just before the weekend, Digg ported its official app over to Android so that Droid, Nexus One, and every other Android-based smartphone owner can promote (or bury) articles using the same simple interface as the iPhone variant.
Digg's Android App lets users quickly view and sort through stories found on Digg.com. You'll find tabs for top, recent, and upcoming stories on Digg, and even the commenting interface is virtually identical to the one on the iPhone. Unfortunately, that's where the similarities end.
Unlike the iPhone app, you can't save articles in the Android version. You also can't push a button to share to Facebook or Twitter, or even have a Digg link open in Dolphin (or whatever browser you might be using, including Android's stock browser).
We gave the app a test run ourselves, and shortcomings aside, it's not a bad piece of software for keeping up with the day's top stories when on the go. You can find it in the Android Marketplace by searching for "Digg."
There's a ton of great freeware and open-source software in the online world today. That statement should be a no-brainer, especially if you're been reading these application roundups over the past year and a half or thereabouts.
However, that's not to say that every single application that you install on your PC--including your operating system itself--is immediately minted in gold just because it passed your personal, "do I need this?" test. That's no fault of your own; In fact, it's half the point of the open-source movement to begin with. Industrious users think of new ways to use a piece of software or, rather, new add-ons that they can build into a particular application. This transforms the common application into a forked project, which itself can become the source of inspiration for future spin-offs from an even wider range of users.
Seriously, it's open-source 101.
However, you don‘t have to be a coder, or even a visionary, to reap the benefits of new transformations that run on top of the applications you use day-in and day-out. That's why I'm profiling add-ons in this week's Freeware Files: By now, you should have a pretty healthy laundry-list of common apps that you're always fiddling around in. I'm going to show you how to make them just that much better.
Type "screensaver" into a Web search box - go ahead, I dare you. What you'll come across is a number of scamming, ad-filled, useless sites that care more about lining their own pockets with revenue than actually delivering you the goodies you want for sprucing up the look of your system's display. I can't help you much there. The appeal of a particular screensaver is, after all, in the eyes of its beholder. You might like flying toasters; I might like ports of OSX screensavers. There's little point in me trying to push my tastes on you via some freeware roundup.
That said, there are a number of interesting applications that can help you better manage your display. Regardless of whichever screensaver you choose to use--including none--the freeware tools listed below will let you best manipulate your screen to your liking. Enhance your daily computer use with increased energy-savings or prevent annoying interruptions to your media-watching, amongst other tricks. And, yes, you'll even be able to turn your screensaver on and off at a whim...
Starting tomorrow, Verizon customers with a smartphone and a data plan will be able to download and use the Skype Mobile application, the VoIP provider announced on Tuesday.
"A month ago at Barcelona we wowed the mobile industry by announcing this partnership with Verizon. It seemed improbably at best to many in the industry. Why in the world would a carrier want to partner with Skype," said Russ Shaw, general manager of Moible for Skype.
Skype said its app will work on nine smartphones to begin with, including the BlackBerry Storm 9530, Storm2 9550, Curve 8330, Curve 8530, 8830 World Edition, Tour 9530, Droid, Droid Eris, and Devour. Support for more phones and platforms is expected later this year, Skype said.
With the app installed, Verizon owners will be able to make and receive unlimited Skype-to-Skype voice calls around the world, send and receive unlimited IMs with other Skype users, and take advantage of Skype's international rates. Instead of using Verizon's data network, Skype Mobile routes calls over the operator's voice network, which might explain why Verizon requires a subscription to both its voice and data plans, and why it isn't too worried about partnering with Skype.
Apple isn't the only one who stands to make a lot of money off of its iPad tablet - app developers do too. Enter Amazon, who along with Barnes & Noble, revealed to The New York Times plans to create new digital readers and storefronts for the iPad.
"We have actually developed a tablet-based interface that redesigns the core screen and the reading experience," said Ian Fred, vice president for Kindle at Amazon. "Our team had some fun with it."
According to NYT, the Kindle app for the iPad allows readers to slowly turn pages with their fingers. The interface also introduces a couple of new ways for owners to view their ebook collection, including a view where large thumbnails of book covers are displayed on a backdrop of a silhouetted figure reading under a tree. What's cool about the backdrop is that the sun's position coincides with whatever time it is.
Amazon has also set up a page to promote "Kindle Apps for Tablet Computers," which includes all tablets.
"Tablet computers, including the iPad, are coming and with our free app you'll be able to read more than 450,000 Kindle books," Amazon claims. "Like all Kindle apps, Kindle for table computers will include Whispersync technology, which automatically synchronizes your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across your Kindle and Kindle compatible devices including PC, Mac, iPhone, and BlackBery."