lauantai 20. maaliskuuta 2010

Firefox Personas

The newest version of the Firefox browser, 3.6, offers a new, nifty little feature called Personas. A Persona is like a skin that Firefox can wear. Personas only change the background and not, for example, the buttons. On the Firefox Personas site you can try the personas by just hovering your mouse cursor over the Persona image and take it into use by clicking "Wear It". It couldn't be any simpler! There are already thousands of Personas from which to choose. I am using different Personas on different computers. So far they are these:

maanantai 15. maaliskuuta 2010

Opera 10.51 RC1

A month ago I wrote about Opera 10.50 beta. Now the 10.50 has already passed the beta stage and what's more, Opera 10.51 Release Candidate 1 for Windows has just been released. This version contains performance improvements and an even better JavaScript engine, especially what comes to memory management. These features are of course very welcome to all netbook users. :)

tiistai 9. maaliskuuta 2010

Image processing software

When you open an image file in Windows 7 it opens in Windows Photo Viewer by default. It can be used to view and rotate images but nothing else, so you need a better piece of software if you intend to crop, resize, adjust or otherwise edit your photos.

IrfanView does all this. It is a piece of freeware that I have used for as long as I have used the Opera browser and the NoteTab text editor, ten years or so. The user interface is minimalistic and the program is controlled using the menus or the shortcut keys. IrfanView can be used to batch process an entire folder full of images or just one image at a time. It can read dozens of file formats and write an impressive number of formats too. There are also lots of plugins for it bringing in some extra functionality. They are really easy to install because they are provided as one big installer file from the IrfanView homepage. What's also very important for netbook users is that IrfanView is a lightweight and fast program.

Hint: If you work with images that have transparency, set the IrfanView background color to pink (Options | Properties/Settings... | Viewing | Main window color). Then you will know exactly where the transparency starts and where it ends, as pink is featured in really few pictures, unlike black and white.

sunnuntai 7. maaliskuuta 2010

Text editors

So far I have introduced you to alternative office software, browsers, instant messaging software and PDF readers. Today it's text editors meant for plain text.

So, Windows ships with Notepad. It's as simple as a text editor can get. A good text editor can save you time by having useful shortcuts, being able to have several files open at once, allowing you to do search and replace on several files at once, allowing you to use regular expressions when searching and replacing, etc.

All this and much more can be done using NoteTab Pro. It costs $29.95 but is well worth every penny. There is also a free version called NoteTab Light which is a very capable program too -- a comparison of features between the different versions can be found here.

I myself have been an avid NoteTab user for years already, not least because it has got its own scripting language which can be used to program the application to do almost anything you can think of. Automatic reformatting of any text you just copied to clipboard from another program? Consider it done. HTML table wizard? Piece of cake. FTP integration? No problem. The scripts are called clips and organized into clipbooks. The program comes with many ready made clipbooks and more can be downloaded.

NoteTab has also got a very active and helpful community at the Yahoo! Groups. It is divided into a general section, clips, and www-authoring.

The only thing that NoteTab lacks is syntax highlighting for other languages than HTML. If you need that, I can warmly recommend an open source program called SciTE.

perjantai 5. maaliskuuta 2010

Alternative PDF readers

Previously I have written about alternatives to Internet Explorer and alternatives to Windows Messenger. This time it's alternatives to the Adobe Reader.

Foxit Reader is a small and fast PDF reader. It is commercial software but the basic version is free and has all the main features and, in some aspeceven more than Adobe Reader has.

Sumatra PDF is another slim and quick reader. It is designed so that it does not require any special installation procedures and can be used from a USB stick. It is also open source, if that's what you prefer.

Both of these are good alternatives to the Adobe Reader, so it's a personal choice between them. Either one works faster than the Adobe Reader, and the software that you are using on your netbook can never be too fast.

keskiviikko 3. maaliskuuta 2010

Pidgin instant messaging software

Windows ships with the Messenger instant messaging (IM) software. I, too, use Messenger, along with ICQ that I have even been using for a much longer time.

A while ago I found out that my Messenger was taking ridiculous amounts of CPU time, slowing down the entire system. It appears that it was because of (some of) the advertisements that the main view displays so I started looking for another IM software and found Pidgin. It is a lot faster than Messenger and does not display any advertisements. It also supports multiple IM protocols, i.e. you can use both ICQ and Messenger using the same piece of software. Google Talk and many other protocols are supported too, so give it a try. :)

PS. Related to alternative software: a month ago I wrote about alternative web browsers!

maanantai 1. maaliskuuta 2010

Keyboard woes

Some time ago I wrote that I bought a Bluetooth dongle and a Bluetooth mouse. Now I can plug my netbook into my TV and go sit on the sofa and still control the mouse. But how about keyboard? Well, surely there are Bluetooth keyboards too, I thought and went browsing a couple of resources, Hintaseuranta (literally 'Price monitoring') that tracks the prices of several retailers and, a large retailer which is not included in Hintaseuranta. They both revealed the ugly truth: the prices of Bluetooth keyboards start from around 60 euros, while you could get a cordless keyboard with a proprietary connection for around 20 euros! D'oh. I wouldn't want to get another dongle to fill my netbook's USB ports but I also wouldn't want to pay thrice the money for a Bluetooth keyboard, so I don't know what I'm going to do.

In this light the Asus EeeKeyboard sounds like a nice living room computer: it's a full featured PC in the case of a keyboard! They also claim that you are able to connect it to your TV wirelessly. Sounds nice. :)