Archive for January, 2006
Ben Goodger, the lead engineer for Mozilla Firefox, has just written an article summing up what Mozilla Firefox users can look forward to for Firefox 2.0. We should see Firefox 2.0 by the middle of 2006 with some “significant user experience enhancements”.
A proposed new feature in Mozilla Firefox automates a common web linking technique and consequently brings forth some concerns about user privacy. As of now, this feature is only in Mozilla’s nightly trunk versions (not the version of the average user would download).
Currently, many web sites send people, who click on links, to a server which counts their click and then redirects them to the link’s original destination. Firefox’s “ping” proposal lets web sites do this in a less transparent and more efficient manner. When you click on a link, a “ping” is sent to a server notifying it of your click while the browser loads the destination page. As explained in Darin’s post, “I’m sure this may raise some eye-brows among privacy conscious folks, but please know that this change is being considered with the utmost regard for user privacy. The point of this feature is to enable link tracking mechanisms commonly employed on the web to get out of the critical path and thereby reduce the time required for users to see the page they clicked on.”
This is not something that Mozilla should be including in Firefox, especially if the user cannot control the pinging taking place and be able to block the feature from any site they wish (a white list). In the end, this “ping” feature seems to be another version of tracking users and does not rise to the level of spyware. From a performance standpoint, I see the desire for this feature and it is encouraging that Mozilla has been so forthcoming about it. What does concern me, though, is another section of Darin’s post, “This change is being considered in large part because some very popular websites have asked for a solution to this problem.” I am sure that Google, Yahoo, and others are begging to have this feature enabled to help track clicks, but it is a feature very few users would ask for. I would hope Firefox continues to be a slim light-weight browser that focuses on the needs and security of the user. This “ping” is about neither and I hope is not a sign of things to come.
Rollyo has just released a tool that enables Mozilla Firefox users to create toolbar search engines, of up to 25 sites, very quickly. These search tools will install in the upper right hand corner of your browser along with the Google, Yahoo, etc. search engines. It is a very simple process to create one yourself or use one someone else has created.
Using a Rollyo Firefox search engine is easy. Look for the link on each search page that says “Click here to add the ___________ to your Firefox Search!”. Click on this link and then click on OK when Firefox asks if it can install the search engine. To use the search engine, just click on the little drop down error in the search box and choose the Rollyo search and away you go.
Note: If you install a search engine which you do not want to continue using, it is easy to uninstall the search engine by using the Firefox SearchPluginHacks extension from IosArt. The SearchPluginHacks extension adds a entry to right-click menu in the search plugins drop-down list, which allows quickly deleting unwanted search engines.
Update: Rollyo has also developed a tool to allow a user to create and add a search engine to Firefox without having to register with Rollyo.
As mentioned earlier, Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5 has been released and I would recommend the product to anyone. A word of caution when installing the new version of Thunderbird if you have an existing version on your system. Nasty things can happen, as has been documented on the MozillaZine Forum, if you just to an install of the new version into the same directory as the old one.
Below are the simple steps I took to succesfully upgrade to Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5.
2. Uninstalled my previous version of Thunderbird.
3. Installed a clean version of Thunderbird 1.5
This procedure is simple to do but is a complete lack of communication on the part of Mozilla. If you read way down into the release notes you will find a line that says, “Prior to installing Thunderbird 1.5, please ensure that the directory you’ve chosen to install into is clean and doesn’t contain any previous Thunderbird installations.” It is not part of the Windows instructions on the release page on how to install Thunderbird nor is any warning mentioned if you just do a download of Thunderbird from the product’s page (as most users will do).
Hopefully, with the new software update tool that automatically downloads updates in the background, this problem will not occur again. Never the less it is little things like this that could prevent Thunderbird from reaching the critical masses.
This is the time of year where many people are getting Palm handhelds for the first time or upgrading to a new Palm. Thus, I felt is to be appropriate to create a “Palm Best Of” series, laying out what I feel to be the best free Palm software, the best Palm developers, and the best Palm websites. The best free Palm software is presented below, the articles on the best Palm developers and websites are to follow.
Best Free Palm Software
Adding additional functionality to your Palm, outside of the built-in applications, does not require a large outlay of money. While there are several programs on my Palm that I have gladly paid for, Agendus, SmartListToGo and ZLauncher come to mind, there are many high quality freeware and/or open-source programs available in the Palm universe. Some of these programs are as good or even better than their commercial counterparts.
The following is a list of some of the best and most popular free software for Palm handhelds. This is not in all inclusive list. This free Palm software listing has been split up into three categories: Productivity, Utilities, and Fun with several subcategories in each group. I have not included several free niche and device specific pieces of software and also have not included every piece of free software for each category. For example, there are numerous free high-quality ebook readers. Some of these are not included as I selected what I felt to be the best and most complete of the lot.
Calendars and Tasks
A5 is a replacement for the default Datebook and Tasks applications. It uses the same database as its built-in counterpart and adds a week view with an uncluttered interface. Support for repeating events and Icon Manager icons is included.
KsDatebook and KsToDo are replacements for the default Calendar and Tasks Palm applications that use the same database as their built-in counterparts. They add additional features such as weekly view with text as well as text display in monthly view.
Today gives a one page overview of current appointments, tasks, mail, etc., along with the current date/time and owner information of the device. It is similar to the Today screen on Pocket PC and to the Agenda view found in the newer built-in Palm Calendar applications. Today is very configurable, can be skinned and will work as a mini-launcher.
Pilot-DB is a flat file database with a strong set of features and a desktop component that will run on multiple platforms. Plugins are available for Mobile-DB and JFile databases, for access to the built-in Calendar, and for external memory card access.
HandyShopper is a shopping list database application that can also be used to create any simple kind of list. For more information about Handyshopper see this site or visit the Handyshopper Yahoo Group for ideas and samples on how to make lists for almost anything.
PsMemo is a replacement for the built-in Palm MemoPad that adds several useful features.
SiEd is a text editor with features such as split screen views, editing of plain text files, and support for external keyboards.
eReader is an ebook reader that will read ebooks in both the standard PalmDoc format and in eReader format. eReader is also available in a version on the desktop for both Macintosh and Windows users.
PalmBible+ is a Bible reader program with dual version display, footnote support, highlighted bookmarks, and drag scrolling. A variety of translations are available, including foreign language translations.
PalmFicition is an ebook reader that can read PalmDoc, zTXT, Word and text files.
Palm PDF is a true PDF viewer for the Palm.
Time, Calculations and Conversions
Chime is a utility that presents the time in speech, chime and vibration.
Converter is a free unit conversion tool that supports over 200 unit types in 23 different categories.
SnapCalc is a simple calculator that can be launched, like a DA or hack, with a simple stroke or button sequence.
ClockPop5 is a clock popup application that can display appointments and phone info on the ClockPop screen.
Power48 is a PalmOS based emulator for the Hewlett-Packard 48SX, 48GX and 49G series of calculators.
Watchmaker is a clock application with configurable analog and digital clocks, as well as daily and weekly alarms.
KMaps is a mobile version of Google Maps which uses Google Maps search results, directions and satellite imagery. It requires a connection to the internet to be of any use. Visit the KMaps Wiki to learn more about the software.
Metro is a guide to public transport systems with data on over 200 cities. Besides offering a map and schedule, Metro also offers information on nightlife, places of interest, tourist spots for selected cities, and lets you link contacts to specific stations. City data can also be stored on memory cards and beamed to other users. You can access the Yahoo Metro Group here.
Tide Tool will compute tides and currents worldwide as well as provides some sun and moon data.
AvantGo is an offline newsreader and web browser. On each hot sync it will copy a specified web page and store it on your Palm allowing you to access web content offline.
Opera Mini is a fast, mobile browser. It requires the use of the WebSphere Palm Java environment.
Plucker is an offline web page browser and ebook reader. Use the excellent Sunrise desktop converter to convert web pages in Plucker format.
McPhling is an application and DA launcher from which you quickly select from a list of your favorite applications or switch from your current application to the previous one. (Free but developer requests donation).
DA Launcher is an application that launches a Desk Accessory (or DA). Included in the download are the following DAs: acBaklit, acGraffitiRef, acRomanKbd, acNumkbd, acWordc, Phone, and SimpleClockDA
Other DAs of Note:
- Cool DAs – Allows you easy view your palm information, execute some commands and change some perferences. (Free but developer requests donation).
- Julian DA – Performs Julian date conversions.
- SelectDA – Allows easy access to all DAs from a popup screen.
- Tiny DAs – Contains four DAs: Flip T3/T5 screen, toggle Clie/T3/T5/Tapwave statusbar, rotate T3/T5/Tapwave screen, and toggle FontSmoother.
ScrBtn is a basic, fast application launcher. It will launch applications from a SD Card applications if the shortcuts has been created by another program.
Switch5 is a preference panel application which can switch immediately to the previous app, or will select an app from a list of recently launched apps.
ButtonsEx will customize the Home buttons and the 5Way button on your Palm.
MapButtons will remap the Voice and Camera buttons on your Palm.
SharkButton will allow for full customization of how the Palm’s buttons act.
3XCommander is a file manager. The information can be presented in one panel or in split screen mode.
FileZ is a system utility and file manager application. The file manager provides access to all files on both internal and external memory cards and allows for detailed information about each file to be viewed and/or edited. The general system information provides device, battery, and HotSync information. The system preference manager allows preferences to be viewed and/or removed.
BatteryGraph is a program for monitoring the battery status of a Palm.
FontHackV is font substitution tool for Palm OS5 handhelds. To manipulate Palm fonts on the desktop get Palm Font Converters. (FontHackV is free but the developer requests donation).
HSNSwitch can change the Palm hot sync name.
Key Color changes the Tungsten’s DIA key and icon color.
ShortCut5 is a preference panel application which supports large shortcut definitions with additional support for macro shortcuts.
Speedy is a benchmark utility for the Palm.
Spell5 is a clipboard editor and an English spell checker.
WebSphere provides a Java environment for the Palm.
HRCaptDA is a screenshot utility that will capture the main viewing area of the Palm. It requires the use of a DA launcher.
ZGrab is a full screen screenshot tool.
Aeroplayer is a full featured portable music player that will play Ogg Vorbis files stored on an expansion card. It offers features such as equalizer, screen blanking, volume and bass boost, skins, and album art. Note: If you install the MP3 plug-in, you can try it free for 14 days. If you install the Ogg Vorbis and/or Speex files, Aeroplayer is free.
The Core Pocket Media Player is an open-source audio and video player that can play many formats of video and multimedia files such as mp3, avi, ogg, mpg. etc. A high quality, free desktop tool to convert videos to play in TCPMP is PocketDivXEncoder.
Sudoku is a placement puzzle game.
Pyramid Solitaire is a solitare game.
Breakout 480/320 is a fullscreen breakout game.
Crosswords is a Scrabble clone.
Patience Revisited is a collection of solitaire games including Klondike and FreeCell.
SU: Additions is a collection of sixteen Solitaire games.
Feringa is a chess game.
MicroFluxx is a clone of the LooneyLabs card game Fluxx.
PilOth is a clone of Othello.
Yahdice is a clone of Yahtzee. You can visit the Yahdice Yahoo Group here.
FreeJongg is an adaptation of Mahjongg Solitaire. The objective is to remove all the tiles from the playing field by following a simple set of matching rules.
JPGview is an image viewer for JPEG Image files stored on a media card on a VFS compatible PDA.
Icon Manager is a icon creator and editor. It will create or edit icon sets for programs like HandyShopper, DateBk, and Agendus. You can visit the Icon Manager Yahoo Group here.
Free Icon Manager Icon Collections
I have added a print stylesheet this site. This should give you much better results when printing. Generally speaking, the only things that will now print are a heading that says “Leslie Franke” and the main white content area No ads, footer, header or sidebars will be printed.