Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Internet Day to Day tools - for geeks only

As you use the Internet on daily basis, either in work or home or both, for business or pleasure, you spend more and more time in front of your browser. Over the last month, I've been trying to cut down the time I spend on daily activities on the Internet. Here are some of the tools that helped me do that and others that introduce some really great benefits that might come in handy for you too..

Essential Tools

  •  Firefox: There's one feature in firefox that IE can't compete with, and that is Extensions. When I was on the edge between using IE or Firefox, Extensions - and themes also - was the winning card for firefox.
  • Google Reader: Great Web based RSS reader from Google. Not only you get to follow your favorite RSS feeds through this simple well-designed Ajax interface, but also, you can share the posts you find most interesting directly with your friends, you can also have a URL of page listing those posts. You can also receive links of feeds as recommended by Google (of course, through inspecting your data) which can be very accurate.
  • Windows Live Writer: very cool blog writer tool from Microsoft. With colorful very nice interface, WLW is open to large number of blogging services, starting of course with Windows Live.
  • Spell-check dictionaries: you can get spell check as you're writing e-mails or any text in web pages in firefox by installing the dictionaries of the languages you use. It might be not as accurate in corrections as Office but at least it's gonna catch the wrong words.
  • FEBE: Backup firefox data including extensions, themes, bookmarks, preferences, cookies, and many more..

Development and Technology

Bookmarks

  • Online Bookmark Manager - StartAid: Haven't you ever want to show your friend that web site that you bookmarked couple a days ago, but you can't remember the URL. Bookmarks (or Favorites for IE users) is a great tool but you depend on it too much that it makes you forget URL. StartAid helps you solve this problem by offering an online bookmark manager that has a web interface in a folder hierarchy with the ability to show those bookmarks in a firefox menu just like firefox bookmarks and a side tab to offer search capabilities. Also, sharing bookmarks and searching others' bookmarks are great features offered by this extension.
  • Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer: If you're using firefox on more than one machine, you would like to sync your bookmarks between those machines. This extension helps do that.

Google-Related

  • Better Gmail 2: Adds enhancements to the GMail web page. You can prefer Better Gmail, you can read the differences here.
  • Gmail Manager: manages Gmail accounts and shows notifications of new e-mails.
  • Google Reader Notifier: notification of Google Reader updates.
  • Google Gears: this doesn't really adds direct tool to the browser, but it enables web applications to provide offline functionality using JavaScript APIs. A functionality that is nice to have if you're using laptop.
  • Google Browser Sync: This extension from Google continuously synchronizes including bookmarks, history, persistent cookies, and saved passwords – across multiple computers.
  • Google Notebook: allows you to store notes on web pages using a popup in your browser.
  • gTranslate: Translates the selected text via Google Translate.

Firefox Interface Customization

  • CoLT: Adds a Copy Link Text item to the browser's context menu along with the Copy Link Location item.
  • CuteMenus: Adds icons to all menus.
  • Favicon Picker 2: adds UI for replacing bookmarks icon.
  • Fission: puts the progress bar in the address bar like Safari.
  • Tab Scope: Vista-like live thumbnails for firefox tabs.

Other tools

  • Skype: turns every phone number on each web page to a click-able link that can be called directly using Skype.
  • SearchWith: search selected text with various search services from context menu.
  • MrUptime: Get notified when an unavalible web site starts to work again.
  • Read it Later: Save pages to read later instead of keeping them as open tabs.

Let us know what tools are you using...

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Monday, December 24, 2007

Windows 7: What it's rumored to have, and What it should have..

As the year is coming to an end, everyone is gazing into the future and making predictions for 2008. So, I thought I’d gaze a little into the future of Windows..

Windows 7 is the codename for the next windows version, as you all might know by now. Until now, number of features of the next windows has been leaked/rumored recently, even some snapshots were claimed to of windows 7. The list contains some obvious, known, demanded, and - of course - copied features, like:

1. Virtual machines for legacy software: one of the main reasons for the late adoption for Vista by users is for incompatibility for most software. And as Windows team would want to make larger modifications in the OS, they should worry more about this issue. Apple people had a similar situation when moving from OS 9 to OS X, to overcome this they had "Classic" programs run in a virtual machine mode. With the Hyper-V feature in the new Windows Server 2008, it's possible for Microsoft to think about including a virtual machine mode to run classic programs too. This would give the development team the advantage of making as much modifications as they want.

2. New smaller kernel: Vista is installed in almost 14GB (just the windows folder on my machine) unlike XP that is around 3GB, if we're going to continue on this ratio.. we'll be seeing a 100GB OS soon. It's not about hard disk size, HDs gets more GBs every year with cheaper prices. It's about re-building the core of system instead modifying the existing one. Microsoft didn't change much of the core of windows since NT, maybe it's time to do so.

3. WinFS: Microsoft promised to include WinFS in Vista and they didn't. WinFS is as fancy idea as it's wanted. WinFS is announced to be included in ADO.NET Entity Framework and SQL Server 2008. In November 2006, Steve Ballmer said that WinFS will be integrated in the windows codebase after the development has fully completed, which should be in time for Windows 7.

4. Entirely new look: Vista got a new GUI , Areo, with significant new look, but the experience is the same as XP. Microsoft should inspect the real needs of the users and modify the experience to fit that, like they did in Office 2007. Luckily enough, Steven Sinofsky who is the Senior Vice President for the Windows Engineering Group, was responsible for developing Office 2007. Maybe he'll do the same in the new position..

5. De-coupling the interface from the explorer shell: sounds like a complicated inner behind-the-scene feature, but actually this would affect the user interface in a great way. Now, you can change the whole interface and still make full benefit of the shell.

6. Multi-touch Support: with Microsoft Surface going from research to production and Support for Tablet-PCs, Supporting Multi-touch in windows seems like a good idea.

That's what Windows 7 is most likely to have according to number of articles, but what it should have..

1. Better file operation management: Don't you just hate how XP is handling copy operations. If you don't, try to copy two files in parallel rather than in sequence, it'll take you almost twice as much time. Or try to copy/move a large folder to another drive and after half an hour you get this message that there's no enough space. What if you left your machine and came back in an hour assuming that copying is in progress but actually it's not. Also, There's the un-explainable waiting before displaying the confirmation message when trying to delete a large number of files. Well, that was in XP, what about Vista? I tell you, it's even worse.. I miss the good old days of XP when it comes to copying. In Vista, you can't rename/delete/move any file on the System drive without getting all those confirmation messages (at least 3 messages). And it's also slow, and when I say slow, I mean sloooooow. Of course, I don't need to mention the crazy estimated time counter, One time, Vista indicated that it needs 129 years to complete the remaining 7.55MB.

It's not that hard to have better copy operation. Check out those copy managers like Copy Handler, and Total Copy. That's not impossible to do, right? Copy operations in windows needs Pause and Resume capabilities, better handling for parallel copying, fault tolerance for network failure when copying over network or for removable devices, Minimize to tray button, centralized window for all operations and maybe history recording, and to put more human common sense in the sequence of messages.

2. Less/No UAC (User Account Control) pop-ups: If you didn't hear about UAC and how it operates, expect a moment of panic when your first UAC message pop up. But don't worry, you'll get used to it, as more and more are coming your way.

For those how hasn't experienced UAC, here's how it work. The screen turns to black in the same way it turns off, and then in about a moment everything is grayed and here's your UAC message, why the suspense? and for what? No UAC message has ever warned me about something I don't know, instead it treats Visual Studio 2005, VMware Workstation, and Real Player as they're programs that are about to violate my machine.

Of course, the principle idea behind UAC is running applications processes in a standard user privileges until the user grant them higher privileges. But, it's handled very badly as a user experience and most importantly, Applications still not playing nicely with it. Microsoft is putting avoiding UAC messages as an essential part in their conditions to grant application the "Certified for Vista" logo. But that's just for small companies or close partners to Microsoft, other wise, the user has face those messages on daily basis.

3. Less minimum requirements: One of the primary reasons for Vista's low distribution numbers is the high configurations that are set as minimum requirements for running the OS. And don't get fooled with the "Vista Capable" statement, this's just mean that you're gonna be running the OS, but we're not sure about other programs. To run Vista in a comfortable way, you need a dual core processor, and 2GB of RAM, not to mention a upper-medium graphics card.

It's not that difficult to expect when new hardware will be available, and when it will be mainstream. The hardware (Processors, Memory, and Graphic Cards like Intel, AMD, MSI, and those people) companies and PCs (Desktop and laptops like HP, Dell, and Toshiba) companies, they have road maps for these things and they can tell you if you lunch an OS in 2010 what kind of configuration will be available. If Microsoft took couple of hours to search on the Internet for these information (even without using Google), you should be able to fix the Vista hardware mistake.

4. Themes: Microsoft promised to enable themes in both XP and Vista, but didn't deliver. Large number of applications are allowing themes and actually helping developers and designers building themes, and also a large number of applications are turning to web applications which can change their looks every now and then or even allowing personalization. Microsoft should keep their promise this time, if they make one..

5. .NET framework built into Windows core: The idea behind the CLR and JIT compilation of the .net framework is to allow converting written code in the time of execution to the code appropriate to the platform which the application is running on, like the Java Virtual Machine. But wait a minute, Isn't Microsoft only releasing .net framework for the Windows platform. Yes, they're sharing source of the CLI and Novell is building Mono but .net applications are not really platform independent. On the other hand, Maybe Microsoft's perfect chance to push the .net as a development option for commercial software (and not just solutions) built by enterprises is to play their favorite move and integrate .net into the core of Windows.

If Microsoft pushed the framework into the core of the system and done it right, maybe that's will help overcoming the performance problem known for the .net applications.

I don't know if this is possible or not, but maybe it's worth thinking about.

What do you think.. what would you like the next windows version, Windows 7, to have.. let us know..

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How Firefox makes money..

Ever wondered how firefox is still running even though all of Mozilla's products are for free..

First, it must be denotations, the "Best Browser Implementing Web Standards" - according to Mozilla - must be receiving lots of denotations from its wide user base. But There are actually two Mozillas, the Foundation and the Corporation.

The Foundation is a non-profit organization that handles the leadership for the open source Mozilla project, the polices, key infrastructure, trademarks and that stuff. Its revenue is tax-exempt status under the U.S. tax code as it's based in Mountain View, California.

The Corporation is a subsidiary of the foundation that coordinates the development of internet-related applications such as firefox. It also depends on denotations but there's also a deal with Google that whenever a user uses that little search box on the top right and he/she clicks an ad in the search results offered by Google, Mozilla gets 80% of the revenue. That little box is rumored to had made $72M last year. It's confirmed (by Wikipedia, read the Financing section) that $61.5M were Mozilla's revenues in 2006 because of the little box out of a total $66.8M of revenues.

It's good to see Mozilla going strong financially as they are technically. Looks like the red fox is gonna be sticking around for a while.. bad news for the guys in Redmond..