Feb 15, 2009

Nightly Tester Tools :: Firefox Add-ons

Being an agile blogger that I am, I found an installed a nifty extension for Windows Live Writer named Blog This today. Blog This extension for Windows Live Writer adds a button to Firefox which starts a new Windows Live Writer blog post pre-populated with content and title from the current web page. That way, one can blog the whole page, or just selected snippets.

Blog This

(Click on the image to view full size)

However, on restarting my browser, I was disappointed to see that the Blog This Extension in Firefox was marked disabled because it was found to be incompatible with Firefox version 3.0.6. Now this can happen sometimes because the developer of the extension did not update the extension after testing it with the latest Firefox update.


(Click on the image to view full size)

Desperate to make good use of this extension, I found the Nightly Tester Tools extension for Firefox, that lets you enable incompatible extensions (among other things), of course at your own risk.

After installing Nightly Tester Tools I was able to see a new option appear when I right-clicked the disabled add-on that would let me override the compatibility check in Firefox. There was another new button in the add-ons dialog that lets you override this for all Firefox add-ons at once:


Get the Nightly Tester Tools Firefox Add-on from here.

The difference between IMAP and POP

IMAP and POP are two most common ways to access your web-based e-mail offline, from multiple devices. Most web-based e-mail providers allow you to configure your desktop based e-mail programs such as Mozilla Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook to read your e-mail. This includes Gmail, Hotmail and even Yahoo! Mail.

So now the question arises that what exactly is the difference between POP and IMAP, and which is better of the two.

What's the difference between IMAP and POP?

Unlike POP, IMAP offers two-way communication between your online e-mail account and your email clients. This means when you log in to online e-mail account using a web browser, actions you perform on e-mail clients and mobile devices (e.g. moving an e-mail message to the 'Friends' folder) will instantly and automatically appear in your online e-mail account (i.e. it will already have a 'Friends' folder on the next time you sign in).

IMAP also provides a better method to access your mail from multiple devices. If you check your email at work, on your mobile phone, and again at home, IMAP ensures that new mail is accessible from any device at any given time.

Finally, IMAP offers a more stable experience overall. Whereas POP is prone to losing messages or downloading the same messages multiple times, IMAP avoids this through two-way syncing capabilities between your mail clients and your web e-mail account.

POP versus IMAP

(Click the image for a full size version)

If you're trying to decide between using POP and using IMAP, go with IMAP as your first choice. Note that since POP is a simpler protocol to implement, you are more likely to find support for POP than for IMAP.

Feb 11, 2009

Cloudo Web Desktop

What's a web desktop? Put simply, a web desktop is a desktop environment hosted on a remote server that you can access through your web-browser over an Internet connection.

To quote Wikipedia:

A web desktop or webtop is a desktop environment embedded in a web browser or similar client application. A webtop integrates web applications, web services, client-server applications, application servers, and applications on the local client into a desktop environment using the desktop metaphor. Web desktops provide an environment similar to that of Windows, Mac, or a graphical user interface on Unix and Linux systems. It is a virtual desktop running in a web browser. In a webtop the applications, data, files, configuration, settings, and access privileges reside remotely over the network. Much of the computing takes place remotely. The browser is primarily used for display and input purposes.

I recently did a comparison of some free to use Web Desktops available on the Internet, and came to rank Cloudo Web Desktop at the top. My ranking can be summarized as:

  1. Cloudo
  2. G.ho.st
  3. Psych Desktop

The ranking is purely based on how closely the desktop resembles the "real thing" and how polished it feels to look at and to use.

I recommend that you try all three and choose your personal favorite. I was most impressed by Cloudo and couldn't stop raving about how beautiful it looked with different skins:

Cloudo Web Desktop

(Click on the screenshot to view full size)

It was very easy and intuitive to switch the look and feel to resemble Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X, Ubuntu or even Windows 3.1 (if you were around when it existed). You won't believe what you'll see in your browser. Click here to try it out straightaway.

Jan 18, 2009

Bug in Windows Vista Search

I am an avid fan of Windows Vista - someone who goes out of my way to convince my friends and family that Windows Vista ain't as bad as it is made out to be by the media. 4 out of 5 laptops at my home are running Windows Vista (the fifth laptop and my desktop run Windows XP).

Therefore it really hurts me whenever I discover a glaring bug in Vista that out to have been caught by the Windows Quality Engineering team long back. Today I discovered one such bug that has significantly dented my perception of Vista and has caused me tremendous pain.

It all started when I decided to do something about a major annoyance that I had been facing with the Windows Search on my primary office laptop. Despite adding some of my custom folders to the Indexing Options, files from these folders would never show up in my search results. So I decided to tweak my search preferences (i.e. Indexing Options) and see if I could fix this longstanding problem of mine.

I started by typing "Indexing" in the snazzy Vista Start menu, and smiled on seeing Windows Search bring up what I wanted right on top:

Start Menu

I clicked on "Indexing Options", leading to the list of my indexed locations, and clicked on "Advanced":

Indexing Options

This brought up another dialog (the one that I was really looking for):

Advanced Options

The first thing that I tried doing with this dialog was to click the "Restore Defaults" button, hoping to start on a fresh slate. However, doing so brought up this horrendous looking dialog warning me that all hell would break lose if I proceeded with my actions:

Restore Default Settings

Now one thing that I always wish I had more of in this life is time. Not wanting to spend hours waiting for Windows to re-index everything on my disk, including zillions of files and e-mails, I hurriedly clicked "Cancel", and went back to what I was doing -- replying to my 6000+ unread e-mails in Outlook.

After working for 10 minutes and noticing that my laptop's hard disk was spinning endlessly, I noticed something that shook me completely. Despite clicking "Cancel" on the previous dialog (where Windows warned me that by going ahead, my entire index would be re-built from scratch), my index was still being re-built from scratch. Duh!

It has been three hours and I am still waiting for the index to be re-built. Every time I search for any e-mail in Outlook, this is what I get:

Microsoft Outlook

This index re-building has completely blocked me from doing my office work effectively -- which is mostly done on Microsoft Outlook -- as I wait endlessly for Windows to re-index everything that I had saved on this laptop in the past six months.

As I type this blog, I am thinking of the careless developer and the equally callous test engineer at Microsoft Redmond, whose joint oversight causes such loss of reputation to great companies like Microsoft.

I hope they fix this in Windows 7.

Jan 2, 2009

Want a light-weight alternative to iTunes?

When I purchased an iTunes-enabled mobile phone in 2006, little did I know that in order to be able to maintain my music library on the phone, I'd have to use the crappy combination of iTunes+QuickTime on my primary computer.

Not only are iTunes and QuickTime unnecessarily large, they leave a lot of crap on the system every time you update to the latest version, and they unnecessarily slow down the system by installing numerous services that need to be enabled just in order to add or remove songs to your iPod.

Luckily, I discovered Floola (a free, light-weight alternative to iTunes), which satisfies the following criteria of any good software:

  • Stable (does not crash)
  • Cross platform (available on Windows, Linux and Mac)
  • Portable (does not require installation)


What's more, Floola is:

  • Compatible with iTunes (in terms of functionality)
  • Even recognizes iTunes-enabled Motorola mobile phones
  • Can manage Music, Videos, Podcasts and Photos
  • Can repair corrupt iPod databases
  • Automatically converts incompatible audio and video format files to iPod-compatible format
  • Highly configurable, with a host of options that you can tweak (see the screen-shot below)

Floola Preferences

Floola can be downloaded here. If you like Floola, do not forget to donate.