Mozilla Firefox 4
Wed Mar 23 22:56:40 +0000 2011
It’s been a long time coming but now it’s here. At time of writing the latest generation of the Firefox browser, version 4, has been downloaded over 10 million times and 24 hours have yet to pass. Firefox was a breath of fresh air when it first arrived into a browser market in stagnation due to the near total dominance of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Slowly that began to change as Firefox proved it could be done better. At it’s peak Firefox had 24 percent of the browser market, doing relatively better in Europe than the USA. That’s now more like 21pc but the big loser has been IE. Today we have three strong contenders in the recently launched IE9 (Vista and Win7 only) Google’s Chrome and, of course, Firefox. That revival in browser competition is thanks in great part to the not-for-profit team behind Firefox and this latest version will continue that trend.
Wed Mar 16 11:29:42 +0000 2011
It’s hard to believe, but eBay has now been with us since 1995. In that time the basic concept hasn’t fundamentally changed. It’s a global auction-based marketplace where people can bid for stuff old or new. The problem with this approach is that occasionally auctions end at times which makes it almost impossible to put in a bid. But there are solutions. One free example is Goofbay. Amongst the services it offers is a sniping tool. This allows you to set a maximum price you’d be willing to bid for an item on eBay and then, whether you’re at work or asleep, Goofbay will bid up to your pre- set limit on your behalf. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll win the items you’re bidding on but it does ensure that you’re in with a chance. Goofbay also offers a range of other handy services for help discover mis-spelt or badly promoted bargains and quick tools to check up on the background of the seller before you decide to put in that bid.
Wed Mar 09 20:28:47 +0000 2011
Ubuntu just might be one of the best kept secrets in IT. Why? Because it's a mature user-friendly linux OS that can transform your tired old PC of a few years ago, into a processing power-house. It used to be that there were just two options when it came to OSs – you either had a Windows PC or you opted for a more expensive Mac. But things have moved on in the world of linux and perhaps the best of the crop of user-friendly linux distributions is Ubuntu. Where it comes into its own is when you take a PC that's ground to a halt under the weight of processes running and wipe it clean with a fresh install from a USB key or CD of one of a number of OS flavours – netbook, PC, server. There are many variants to suit all needs on offer. But the current 32bit version of Ubuntu is excellent, giving any older PC a new lease of life and turning, what might have seemed like a piece of junk, into a viable box once again. And don't assume that there will be a lack of programs to run. You can get a comprehensive array of graphics, entertainment and business software, often for free. The same goes for netbooks, with Ubuntu's netbook variant transforming a sluggish device. So if you have an old PC lying around maybe it's time to try out Ubuntu. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
Wed Mar 02 21:29:14 +0000 2011
Our friends at Dublin City Council sent us the 'Medieval Dublin - From Vikings to Tudors' DVD set, to highlight the launch of their new iPhone app on a similar theme, Dublin City Walls. The DVD, produced by animation company Noho and web development firm Silver City Media, comes in two parts: a series of short films illustrating Dublin life between the years 800 and 1540, and an interactive disc providing more detailed information on topics like 'sickness and health', 'the role of rubbish' and the Viking slave trade. Both discs employ 3D animation, high-res graphics, video and photos to great effect. Old scrolled maps unfold; modern buildings 'collapse' as the ghost of the medieval city arises and springs to life again. At times, the animated 360-degree swooping aerial views of Dubh Linn put me in mind of acclaimed period action videogame series 'Assassin's Creed'. A new way to enjoy old Dublin.
The Story of Stuff
Wed Feb 23 18:53:36 +0000 2011
If you ever find yourself wondering what you're going to do about all the accumulated tat that's filling up your home, be rest assured that you're not alone. One site that's making a valiant effort to highlight the error of our ways without beating us over the head with guilt is The Story of Stuff Project. The site, with a light bias towards the US of A, provides some interesting, entertaining and thought-provoking videos covering how stuff is made and looks behind the curtain to see what various manufacturing sectors are up to. So far you'll find videos on cosmetics, bottled water and electronics. A great start is the latter, 'The Story of Electronics'. It's a smart piece of video campaigning which makes most other efforts pale by comparison. Well worth a visit.
Wed Feb 16 17:06:23 +0000 2011
If you have been somewhat envious of your iPhone owning friend and his ability to easily peruse new stuff in the iTunes App Store, you'll be pleased to discover that Android finally has a store worthy of the name. Until recently you could peruse a fairly limited list of potential apps for your Android phone but you couldn't actually install them without going back to your phone, starting up the Market App and installing it from there. That's all changed. If you pop over to the Android Market you can now see the whole gamut on offer from the convenience of a full-blown browser. Better still, as well as being able to read user comments, if you decide you like the look of an app you can add it to your phone by simply clicking the install button. No more intervention required. It's an example of connected up computing that seems so ridiculously simple, yet requires quite a bit of work under the bonnet. It transforms the act of discovering new and potentially useful apps from a chore to a pleasure. It was a long time coming, but it's good to see it's finally arrived.
Pulse News Reader
Wed Feb 09 14:49:37 +0000 2011
If you enjoy being on top of the latest news you probably have a smartphone to keep up-to-the-minute. Problem is, whilst many websites now offer site-specific apps for phones, they don't let you control your many sources. On Android you can now get the excellent Google Reader app, which shows you all your RSS-enabled news sources whilst on the move. But if you want something that's just that little bit more stylish and visually engaging, you really can't beat Pulse News Reader. Also available for the iPhone, Pulse takes all that text-based content and turns it into a visual mozaic by using any associated photos with each top story. It makes for a treat on the eyes that Google Reader (for the moment) just doesn't offer. In fact it's similar in concept to Feedly for your PC's browser. It attempts to make the act of reading the latest news that little bit more pleasureable. But in Pulse's case, given the very limited screen real-estate available on many smartphones, the result is all the more impressive. If you have more than one newspaper or blog that you regularly follow on your mobile, then this is an app that you've been waiting for. Price: free!
Wed Feb 02 12:07:50 +0000 2011
You may have already discovered the value of Bit.ly. It can take those overly long web addresses and turn them into something short and customisable so that others have half a chance of remembering and then being able to type them in. This is especially useful when browsing using a smartphone and the thought of typing a 200+ character web address is enough to make you run for the hills. Of course, Bit.ly, in creating these short-cuts can do all sorts of interesting trending on who's clicking what and how much. This has lead to a rather interesting offshoot called Bit.ly Labs, where the company cooks up cool ways to interpret and add value to this data. One of those is bitly.tv. At more than two billion clicks a month, the labs team has decided to show the most interesting, most quickly-trending links, starting with a showcase of the top viral videos shared via bit.ly. That's bitly.tv in a nutshell.
Wed Jan 26 17:58:15 +0000 2011
If you are a serious news-junkie then the chances are that you are already a convert to the convenience of subscribing to various news services' RSS feeds. Instead of having to go visit each site you like, an RSS feed brings all the latest updates to you. Off the back of RSS we now have a plethora of RSS Readers - some web-based like Google Reader, others downloadable programs for PC, Mac or your phone. The choice is endless. But therein lies the problem. If you are subscribed to loads of interesting website RSS feeds it's probably because you want to know what's new the moment it happens. But you can't go checking your RSS reader of choice every five minutes or you'll never get anything done. Step up to the plate then for the disarmingly simple Feed Notifier. It sits in the system tray of your PC (not Mac unfortunately) and each time there's an update on one of your favoured sites, a small pop-up appears in the screen's corner, to give you the essence of the story. From there you can then choose to go read it... or not. Loads of customisation options let you set and forget, leaving this handy little (free) app to do all the heavy lifting.
Wed Jan 19 18:52:17 +0000 2011
Credit where it's due. Over at Nikon someone in the marketing department was plainly working hard to come up with an innovative way to grab your attention on a daily basis. The result is a rather good website called "This Day". The idea is fairly simple. People arrive at the website and are presented with interesting snippets of information about events that occurred on the same day in the past, somewhere in the world. Simple yet effective. And to make sure that you come back again and again, there's even a flash screen saver or desktop gadget running on Adobe Air, meaning it ought to work on PC and Mac. It may be a site originally intended to promote Nikon, but in seeking ways to catch consumer attention the company has created a really interesting little service.