Windows Explorer hasn't always been the most feature-packed of elements inside Microsoft's operating systems. Yet, oddly, it's probably the one part of your Windows version that you use most frequently. But that's not to say that everything is Microsoft's fault. We're often so quick to blame the software giant for what's more a lack of future-proofing than outright failure. In this case, Windows Explorer can't predict what's going to be the next big thing--it can't know that you'll want your photographs easily updated to Maximum Photos someday; it has no idea that you might somehow need to paste a direct link to a file instead of its name or containing folder.
Windows Explorer is, in a word, dumb.
But that's not what we're here to talk about. We're not going to sit around a table and lament about all the features Windows Explorer could have were you one, Bill Gates, and had access to an engineer, or two, or twenty thousand. We're going to go over all the unique little elements that you can build into Windows Explorer right this darn second. I can think of five off the top of my head that are useful additions to your standard interactions with your operating system. They're free, they're awesome, and they're yours for the taking after the jump!
Adobe on Monday announced it has joined the LiMo foundation, an industry consortium "dedicated to creating the first truly open, hardware-independent" Linux OS for mobile devices.
The move will have Adobe bringing its Flash platform to the LiMo platform, enabling developers and content providers to create apps that can run on LiMo devices.
"Bringing the Flash platform to LiMo opens up a significant opportunity for Adobe to further its goals of open standards and multi-screen interoperability of rich mobile content," said David Wadhwani, general manger and vice president, Flash Platform Business at Adobe. "Following the goals of the Open Screen Project, the openness of Linux and the Flash platform represent a common vision to enable consumers to engage with rich Internet experiences seamlessly across any device, anywhere."
In addition to Adobe, the LiMo foundation said it also added ELSE Ltd. MobiTV, and SRS Labs to its ranks.
Symbian on Thursday announced that it has completed the "biggest open source migration project ever," having just completed the open source release of its source code.
"Any individual or organization can now take, use and modify the code for any purpose, whether that be for a mobile device or for something else entirely," Symbian stated in a press release. "This strategic move provides the Symbian ecosystem with greater potential for innovation, faster time-to-market and the opportunity to develop on the platform for free. Symbian’s commitment to openness also includes complete transparency in future plans, including the publication of the platform roadmap and planned features up to and including 2011. Anyone can now influence the roadmap and contribute new features."
The move to open source falls well ahead of schedule of the software maker's original goal of releasing the platform by mid-2010.
Symbian remains the most used smartphone platform in existence, even though Google's Android and Apple's iPhone OS receive most the attention. Symbian has shipped on some 330 million devices, the company claims.
Optical drives aren't potatoes. You can't boil them, mash them, or stick 'em in a stew. And by that, I mean there's simply not that much you can do with your average digital coffee holder. Optical drives read CDs. Optical drives write CDs. And... well, unless you have your drive hooked up to some kind of crazy Rube Goldberg device that feeds your guinea pig whenever you eject the tray, there's simply not much else you're going to be able to do with this essential part of your PC. CD goes in; CD goes out--end of story.
Of course, I'm being a little tongue-in-cheek with this description. There's a great deal you can do with your optical drive on the software side of things. Here's the problem: There are a ton of different programs out there for ripping, burning, and mounting images, amongst other behaviors. Finding the best-in-class application for your device can be like trying to find a tiny scratch on the bottom of the disc itself--a mind-numbing task that's sure to frustrate you as you sift through the 30 different utilities you've pulled down onto your desktop.
Allow me ease the pain a bit. In this week's freeware files, I'll be taking a look at some of the must-have software to supplement your CD drive. With these five apps, you'll be covered for a wide range of uses--ripping all different kinds of media to your (presumably) terabytes of storage space, burning your own custom discs and presentations based on preexisting files, and converting physical media to digital images that you can pull up off of your hard drive instead of ever having to fiddle with a disc again.
Grab a CD-R coaster for your drink and join me after the jump for all the software goodies!
Sometimes it can be difficult sifting through the speculation and figuring out what's real and what's not, so we're always pleased as punch when a company bigwig spills the beans on an upcoming project. During a recent interview with Bloomberg, Jim Wong, senior corporate vice president and president of IT product business group at Acer, did just that by confirming earlier reports of an impending Chrome OS netbook.
And not just one notebook, but one million of the them. That's how many Chrome-based laptops Acer will try to ship in 2010, which would account for about 7-8 percent of all notebooks the company plans to ship, Wong said.
According to Wong, Acer will begin shipping Chrome-based notebooks in the third quarter, but he stopped short of offering up any other details, such as what kind of CPU will be used.
The third quarter's shaping up to be a big one for Acer. In addition to the upcoming Chrome laptops, Wong said the company will also release its e-book reader in Asia and Europe, coinciding with the launch of Acer's upcoming app store.
It's difficult to envision a life without email. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. Suffice, digital messaging is just a fact of geek life that we all have to deal with on a daily basis. Whether your inbox gets flooded with messages like the Nile during rainy season, or it's barren as one of those outback wastelands that Bear Grylls likes to visit, you probably aren't using your email client of choice to its fullest potential.
That's ok. Neither was I before undertaking the research for this week's open-source and freeware roundup. But now that I have seen the light, as it were, I would never go back to the ol' vanilla installations of Outlook, Thunderbird, Gmail, or whatever one's particular email utility of choice happens to be. There are just too many interesting ways to tweak and alter the normal email experience to better enhance your ability to read, organize, and shuffle your messages.
That's kind of "the big point" of the roundup this week--making your email work better for you. Click the jump, and I'll show you five apps and utilities for taking your email processing to the next level!
Myxer, the Florida-based website which claims the Internet's largest catalogs of free ringtones, wallpapers, videos, applications, and games, has put together its inaugural report analyzing the download behavior of 30 million Android and iPhone users.
According to Myxer's data, Android users downloaded seven times as many freebie offerings as iPhone users in 2009. During that time, visits to Myxer's mobile site from users on the Android OS grew by 350 percent, compared to a 170 percent growth rate among iPhone users.
So what does it all mean? Myxer doesn't offer an explanation of why it thinks Android users downloaded so much more content than those on the iPhone, but even so, the two demographics combined don't account for the bulk of downloads. Blackberry owners dominate the free download scene, at least on Myxer's site, accounting for almost 70 percent.
Following a series of cyberattacks on Google and 33 other large-scale U.S. institutions suspected to have originated from China, Google earlier this week said it would delay the China launch of a pair of cell phones made by Samsung and Motorola. But if there was any fear that Google would attempt to stop all Android-based smartphones from launching overseas, you can put those concerns to rest. According to Lenovo, the company has every intention of releasing its Android-based LePhone in China this May, The Wall Street Journal reports.
"LePhone uses the Android operating system but we tailor our phones with our own applications. We are cooperating with other major Chinese Internet service providers including Sina, Sohu, and Tencent," said Lenovo Chief Technology Officer He Zhiquiang.
Meanwhile, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said his company remains "quite committed" to staying in China, but how that plays out is anyone's guess. Google last week also vowed to no longer censor its Chinese website, even if it led to halting operations in the country. This was reiterated on Thursday when Schmidt said his company will make changes to its now-censored search results in a "reasonably short time."
Woe to the open-source developer that doesn't showcase his or her work.
I'm speaking, of course, about the most important tool on any open-source project's landing page. It's not the feature list, nor is it even the download button--it's the screenshot. When I take off my Maximum PC hat, I'm an average consumer with simple needs: I need a program that does what I want it to do, is relatively easy to set up and maintain but, most importantly, looks good.
The thing about hunting for open-source alternatives is that it's real easy to find quite a number of programs that mimic the success of a popular program or treatment. Need an open-source Photoshop variant? Piece of cake. How about a Content Management System? Sure. Now, how about... an application that looks just like Adobe Premiere? Danger, Will Robinson, danger!
Try as you might, it's just not going to be same experience--even if a program performs as well as its closed-source variant--if the interface flat-out sucks.