This week’s Freeware Files come courtesy of podcast aficionado (and mother of the epic dream date winner from podcast #36) R. Ellen Ferare. Or, rather, you can thank her for the idea. We got to talking this past weekend and she noted that she’s been having trouble finding a legitimate way to search through her desktop for this, that, and the other. Obviously, Windows’ built-in search functionality just isn’t cutting it—and I don’t blame her for thinking so. It’s slow, it’s bloated, and I’ve personally found that it just doesn’t quite get the job done compared to other applications out there.
“Other applications,” of course, is just a code phrase for what’s really on everyone’s minds: Google Desktop. But it would sure be boring to just write 75 words saying, “Don’t use Windows Search; Use Google Desktop. Eat a cupcake.” There’s more to life than what Google bestows. And, in fact, you might have legitimate privacy or performance concerns when using Google’s great—but not deal-breaking—search utility. For example I hate that the service only indexes your drive when your system is idle. That doesn’t do me a lot of good if I need to quickly search through new contents I’ve added to a particular location.
So, grievances aside, what does one do if one doesn’t want to use Windows built-in search tools or Google Desktop to sift through one’s computer for information? Solution: Try out one of the five freeware apps buried below the jump. They vary in format and features, but all are designed to fix some aspect of system searching that, right now, just isn’t being fulfilled by the two big aforementioned apps.
A recent survey hit my radar this weekend and, I must say, I’m not that surprised by the results. Contrary to my usual columns, I won’t bury the lede: Accenture polled 300 large organizations in both the public and private sectors and—surprise!—found that half of them are “fully committed” to using open-source software in their businesses.
To be honest, I expected results more in line from the Zenoss survey I ran across this weekend, which notes that 98 percent of all enterprise companies use open-source software in some capacity. But I’ll leave that difference up to nomenclature / polling differences. The real juice of Accenture’s story is buried in a single, meager sentence somewhere toward the bottom of the press release: less that 29 percent of surveyed companies intend to shovel their open-source contributions/modifications/development back into the community.
It takes a special kind of finesse to manipulate the various files scattered across your system like Minority Report’s John Anderton. Was there only a piece of freeware that allowed one to transform one’s monitor into a touchscreen for such a purpose.
But I digress. I’m not referring to the actual means of tossing files around with one’s hands. Rather, I’m just trying to use a metaphor to illustrate the fluid-like motion that some people have with their systems: files, commands, and folders flinging all around the place like a robot on speed. Not many people have this kind of mastery over their file systems; In fact, I’ve only met one person who’s ever been able to display such rapid synchronizations of keyboard and mouse to organize one’s files.
What am I getting at? It’s tough to be a whiz of file management. Which is exactly why a number of freeware and open-source applications look to automate or otherwise enhance your ability to interact and arrange the very data strewn about on your PC. From applications that automatically delete files and folders at a given time, to apps that allow you to copy complex directory structures sans files, to apps that turn your folders into automated image resizing machines… there’s an app for seemingly anything you want to do with your PC’s files.
I’ve picked out five general apps that are must-haves for those that want hardcore control over their hard drives. Anything else—as the commercial goes--would be uncivilized.
According to Canalys, a technology analyst firm primarily based out of the U.K., Google has reason to gloat. That's because Google's Android platform is making enormous strides in the smartphone market, with shipments of Android-based smartphones having grown a whopping 886 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2010.
"The latest release of our detailed and complete country-level smart phone shipment data for Q2 2010 clearly reveals the impressive momentum Android is gaining in markets around the world," said Canalys VP and Principal Analyst, Chris Jones, commenting on the publication. "In the United States, for example, we have seen the largest carrier, Verizon Wireless, heavily promoting high-profile Android devices, such as the Droid by Motorola and the Droid Incredible by HTC. These products have been well received by the market, with consumers eager to download and engage with mobile applications and services, such as Internet browsing, social networking, games and navigation."
As a whole, the smartphone market grew by 64 percent annually worldwide in Q2 2010, Canalys said. In the United States, the smartphone market grew by 41 percent year-on-year, making it the largest smartphone market in the world. Of those devices, Google's Android OS nabbed a 34 percent share, making it the most used smartphone platform in the country.
I'm a pretty avid college football fan, which has absolutely nothing to do with the world of open source or freeware. Or does it? I just made my yearly donation to Electronic Arts in the form of a cash gift, of which they happily accepted and used, in part, to bestow me with a copy of their latest carbon-copy of last year's sports title of choice.
I'm referring, of course, to NCAA Football 2011.
As it turns out, Electronic Arts--in an effort to thwart used game sales--has made it so that you actually have to enter a physical code to unlock portions of the game (many of the multiplayer options) that have previously been part and parcel for any of its sports titles under the sun, if not "video gaming" as a general concept. If you want to access these parts of the game, but find that your code has already been used by another, you have to pony up a small fee to, you know, play what you purchased.
Obviously, the closest we have to microtransactions in this environment is good ol' shareware--I don't often see many programs saying, for example, "for 500 uses the paint bucket tool, please pay $3 to..."
Won't somebody think of the children? Or the editors?
It seems that mass hysteria is breaking out across the Internet--or Slashdot, the only Internet a geek needs to know--about a new proposed treatment by HP and Yahoo in regards to that whirring hunk of metal and plastic in the corner of your room. I'm not talking about WALL-E, nor Jeffrey, but your printer. You know, that crude device that that basically transforms your hard-earned money into a few pages of text and color?
There are few more toxic battlegrounds than the ol' home printer, the site of a thousand separate arguments over the role a manufacturer can play in shaping your fate with a product post-purchase. It cuts to the very heart of what's an "open" environment-perhaps not in direct function or in one's ability to install Linux on a device, but rather, the concept that what you purchase should be yours to alter and modify as you see fit sans infringement or prevention by others.
According to the Internet hysteria, HP is ready to invade that sense of ownership with unwanted, location-based advertising to accompany your print jobs. But that simple generalization is, thankfully, completely blown out of proportion.
It only makes sense to follow last week's "Best Mouse Ever" review on Maximum PC with a listing of some of the best freeware and open-source tools for making the most of your handheld input device--or, in layman's terms, the mouse.
If you think that's an easy task, than I have a golden, $500 mouse with your name on it. Simply put, there's just not that much love for the ol' mouse in today's software world. I suppose that makes sense, however. I have a flashy gaming mouse, yet, the only real software I used to extend its functionality is the very app, shipped by the manufacturer, that helps me customize said mouse's buttons. That's all you need, right?
I have indeed managed to find five apps that do their part to enhance your one-handed experience with your computer. At the end of the day, I'd still opt for a flashier mouse over a new piece of software when it comes to really making your input device rock. However, that's not to say that these programs aren't cool or useful in their own rights. Give ‘em a shot and let me know what you think in the comments!
I don't exactly know how often you take screenshots. As you might guess, I take a ton of screenshots--far more, on a weekly basis, than I'd ever care to take. But I'm not here to brag. I'm here to show you how you can take screenshots with greater detail and precision than the ol' default technique: Jamming print screen, saving a huge bitmap file, downloading an open-source photo editing program, cropping it, saving it, and... doing it all again.
Seriously though, that's the typical process I go through in order to snap pics of applications and what-have-you. You shouldn't have to spend this much time just to snap pics of your desktop. Thankfully, due to a fun little open-source application, you won't have to.
I am a little disappointed with the Android operating system, not gonna lie.
If you've been following my exploits over the past few weeks, you know that I've been in search of a new phone to replace that-which-was-sacrificed to the Maximum PC community in a vain effort to prove my loyalty to the PC platform. And by that, I mean the non-Windows platform, because my latest purchase--a fancy new Android-based phone--isn't really a "PC" in the "it runs Windows" sense of the word.
In switching to an Android device, I've encountered a heck of a number of obstacles that simply don't exist on the good ol' iPhone, for better or for worse. I'm not going to compare the two platforms; You've read enough of that lately. I just find it strange that an open-source phone would have so many challenges over elements that, in theory, open-source should enhance, not hinder.
In a blog post last Thursday, Android SDK Tech Lead Xavier Ducrohet promised that "Android 2.2 will be here soon, and some devices will get the update in the coming weeks." Making good on that promise, Google has now begun pushing out Android 2.2, otherwise known as "Froyo," to Nexus One owners.
If you're not seeing the update on your Nexus One just yet, hang tight. Like previous rollouts, Froyo's is staggered, and it appears that members of the press are getting first dibs, says MG Siegler over at TechCrunch. For those of you who find that unacceptable, you can always take matters into your own hands and manually install the update by following these instructions posted on Phandroid.com.
Android 2.2 ranks as the first mobile OS to fully support Adobe Flash 10.1. In addition, the latest update finally allows users to install applications to an SD card instead of their phone's internal memory. Some of the other features include an app launcher bar in place of the pop-out app tray, an improved camera, and tethering and mobile hotspot functions.