Thursday, February 15, 2007

Joost Token Winner

AppScout held a Haiku-and-Limerick-Your-Way-to-a-Free-Joost-Token Contest last week. Yours truly was awarded one of the ten tokens given away for an "Epic Haiku". Enjoy!



I came across BrightSpot.TV today via AppScout. Apparently they pay you for watching commercials. I definitely need to check this out.

UPDATE: Can't seem to register. Is anyone else having this problem?

Make your apps portable recently profiled the release of PortableApps Suite 1.0, a polished, light weight application that adds new functionality to USB keys, mp3 players, and external media by transforming these storage platforms into portable, private, personalized vehicles for launching programs and storing data. PAS achieves this by utilizing customized open source software packages accessible via an attractive integrated menu from which apps are launched and folders opened. As these programs are run off removable media, one need not worry about registry dependencies or leaving telling temporary files on the host machine. PortableApps Suite 1.0 comes in standard, lite, and base editions. Applications can be added or removed via the PortableApps menu. The following represents a sampling of apps available on the site:

  • 7-Zip
  • PortableAbiWord Portable
  • Audacity Portable
  • ClamWin Portable
  • FileZilla Portable
  • Firefox Portable
  • Gaim Portable
  • GIMP Portable
  • Miranda IM Portable
  • Nvu Portable
  • Portable
  • Sudoku Portable
  • Sunbird Portable
  • Thunderbird Portable
  • VLC Media Player

Portable PortableApps Suite 1.0 is a fantastic way for mobile users to compute securely using software they’ve selected on any Windows PC. So, why don’t I use it? In a word, flexibility. In order for programs to become portable and thus compatible with the PAS interface, they have to meet certain requirements; I will mention two, here. The first, and perhaps most important, is licensing. Since most commercial software packages prohibit modification, a prerequisite for compression and dependency resolution, the number of potentially portable programs is limited. Secondly, an application must be wrapped as a paf.exe in order to be integrated into the suite. To its credit the PAS site does describe launcher construction, though, this limitation represents a significant obstacle to mass adoption in my opinion.

So, what is a burgeoning tech savant to do? Firstly, don’t forget that programs available sans installers are portable by nature. Often compressed as ZIP or RAR files, the executables contained within are incredibly versatile once decompressed, running off local drives, optical storage media, memory cards (SD, SM, CF), and even venerable floppy disks. Also, don’t automatically preclude software wrapped in installers. Some -- not all -- applications can be "unwrapped" in order to expose the files contained within. I recommend UnivUniversal Extractor to check whether or not a program is capable of becoming portable. The brain child of Jared Breland, UE extracts files from a myriad of archives, including but not limited to ZIP, ARJ, LZH, MSI, and EXE. Once a package has been unwrapped, you might find yourself looking at folders named {app}, {tmp}, or embedded as well as a few shortcuts and text files depending on your particular software. While this is no guarantee, I’ve had pretty good luck moving all the files in all the directories into a single folder, {apps} for example, and launching the program from there. You can then rename the {apps} folder to something more closely resembling the program contained within, assuming the program proves stable. The last step would be to move your newly created program folder to your preferred platform.

Before you begin testing your entire software library, though, it would be worthwhile to browse the extensive repository of pre-tested portable freeware available at the aptly named the PortPortable Freeware Collection. On. Once you have assembled the requisite applications on your preferred device you will need an interface from which to access them. PStart can be installed on your portable media and launched automatically when connected to a PC. The program is also accessible via a system tray icon. Through PStart’s main menu folders, groups or files can be added and organized. It also sports limited search functions, an attractive notepad, and information about the media. Additional customization options for hardcore tweakers are available as well.

This article also appeared on gHacks.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Microsoft's Live Writer

This is a test of Windows Live Writer. The installation process was simple enough. The layout is simple yet attractive. Looks like Screenshotthey've included the true type font functionality present in IE7. It was easy to add and orient graphics. It incorporates spell-checking, though, its functionality could be enhanced by checking words as they're typed rather than relying users to manually execute the spell-checking feature or waiting until posts are published. A thesaurus would also be a welcome edition -- integration into Word and Bookshelf would be welcome. It also appears that categories are unsupported. However, that could be a limitation of Blogger as I was having trouble with categories while playing with Post2Blog -- courtesy of Giveaway of the Day. As for resource requirements, it's been holding steady at 50,000K. All in all, it has potential.

Update: Before you go and download Writer, it is worth noting that the application is incapable of uploading images directly to Blogger or other popular photo sharing sites, ie. Flickr I ended up using a community plug-in that allowed for the browsing and insertion of Flickr photos in order to include the above screenshot. A bit of a hassle really.