Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Get a Real (mobile) Browser

OK, pet pevee #1 for so-called smartphones: the browser is dumb as a box of rocks. That thing that lurks in Windows Mobile? Terrible.  The abomination that passes for a web browser on a Blackberry? Ugh.  Palm? HA.  Why is it that my phone has more computing power than my desktop had in 2001 and I can't surf like it's 1999?  I'm not sure what the answer is... but...

Here's the deal: most smartphones come with stupid browsers.
Here's the solution: Opera Mobile.

Here's what web pages look like with Opera Mobile:

Just like the big computer, right?  Here's the current asking price: $0 (at least for the beta, which is better than the browser built in to your phone)

GetOpera Mobile

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fix Your Home Network With Open DNS

Ok, so you are tired of Comcast's absolutely awful DNS. You also have kids and would like to at least protect them a little from the red light side of the internet. If you believe all the ads, then you need a bunch of security software, ad blockers, and anti-spyware software right? Wrong. Try OpenDNS out.

Here's how it works: it replaces the domain name server (DNS) your ISP provides. DNS is the "white pages" for the internet - when you look up an address, like google.com, your DNS gives your compter the actual address (a bunch of numbers separated by periods). Open DNS gives you control of what kinds of websites you can access, and what you can't without a bunch of extra software. One really nice feature is that OpenDNS will help block sites distributing malware or phishing for logins to your accounts. Plus OpenDNS refreshes faster than the local cable company so you are more likely to get a website and less likely to get a 404 not found error.

Oh, and OpenDNS is pretty much free and it's used even by big companies:
OpenDNS, provider of the award-winning service that makes the Internet safer, faster, smarter and more reliable, today announced healthcare organizations across the country are switching to OpenDNS in masses for all Web content filtering and DNS infrastructure needs.
OpenDNS > About Us > Healthcare Organizations Across the U.S. Switch to OpenDNS, Get Safer, More Reliable Internet and Save Thousands Per Year

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Four Killer Open Source Applications You Don't Know About

Ok, so you've probably heard a little about Open Source. Chances are most of the websites you see are served using the Apache Webserver. You've also probably used the Firefox browser, used OpenOffice and maybe even have played around with Linux. Here are four incredible open source applications you can download and use for free. There's no strings, and if you want to get source code to the applications, you can.


Marble is a shockingly good "desktop globe" that includes lots of maps that works on Linux, Windows, Mac and eve Windows CE. Need a map you don't have? Click Open Map and you'll find some Want a quick map to see how to get to the local Tweetup? Use the OpenStreetMap Map. Tweetup on Venus? No problem, switch to Marble's Venus map. Want to plan a bike tour? Use the Bicycling Map. Want to see how hot it is on average in Buenos Aires? Use the average Temperature map. Marble is like having a complete collection of globes, a street map and even an old historical globe. Marble has been great for helping my daughters with geography and science.

Price: Free. As in free beer.
Linux: install the marble package for your distribution. Debian & Ubuntu - sudo apt-get install marble
Windows & Mac: Download Marble Here

Want an easy to use, totally web enabled and customizable music player? Ok, look no further than Songbird. Unlike iTunes, Windows Media Player and Linux uberplayer Amarok, Songbird is built on top of the Mozilla Firefox web browser - so it makes using sites like Last.fm, Shoutcast and Amazon.com a snap. Songbird is shaping up to be one of the best music players around... and it works on everything.

Price: Free. As in free beer.
Linux, Windows & Mac: Get Songbird Here

Want to work up a newsletter or print brochure? Don't want to shell our $1,000 for software? Look no further than Scirbus, an open source Desktop Publisher. Scribus isn't a toy - it's actually a professional grade page layout program that lets you design print shop ready publications - newsletters, brochures, magazines, whatever. This is one seriously powerful program, and it's free.

Price: Free. As in free beer.
Linux, Windows & Mac: Get Scribus Here

Want a nice web page editor that lets you edit exactly as your page will look in a browser? Well, a few years ago there was a program called Nvu that did that - but the company that funded development gave up on it. Then one day a programmer named Kompozer is a very easy to use web page editor. It's free, and for straight HTML, it's almost unbeatable.

Price: Free. As in free beer.
Linux, Windows & Mac: Get Kompozer Here