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Posts Tagged ‘web’

Access your online storage with Gladinet

July 4, 2009 2 comments

You may have jumped on online storage bandwagon. I store things online occasionally, but I’ve never liked the fact that I have to wander off to the storage website to access and edit my documents. Therefore, some time ago I went off hunting for a way to access my online documents using Windows Explorer. I found it in the form of Gladinet. I’ve only recently rediscovered it tucked away in my Start Menu. Having brushed off the layers of dust, I decided I would babble about it here since you might find it of use.

Copying a file to my online storage using explorer.

Copying a file to my online storage.

After downloading and installing, a little icon should appear in the notification area which provides various options for mounting your online storage. I’m still using a beta version of software since I installed it quite a while ago, and it’s working just fine for my purposes. However, the release version is now up to version 1.1, and it brings along new features and a better interface which makes it easier to add your online services to Gladinet. You’ll need to have the software running in order to be able to access your online storge from Explorer; which is why it’s set to start with your PC by default. You can change this by alterting the options. If you don’t use your online storage very often, you may not want it starting automatically.

Online storage locations are mounted as drives. This means that there will be a new item added to your ‘Computer’ window which represents your online storage. Within that you’ll then have listed the different resources that you’ve added. For instance, I currently only have one online storage location set up within mine. I could add others using Gladinet if I wished to. The best feature of this software is that it allows you to interact with the files as if they were stored locally on your hard-drive. This means that you can copy, move, delete, rename, and other such jazz in the same way you would with an ordinary file that’s saved on your PC.

If you use online storage hopefully you’ll find this useful. It cuts out the necessity of visiting the storage website. It also allows you to quickly edit documents, especially in such activities as copying and deleting. You can download it from www.gladinet.com and give it a spin.

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Create custom web-slices with LiveSlices

July 2, 2009 3 comments

The LiveSlice website has been down for a number of weeks. It appears that it might not be returning.

During my brief stint with IE8 I’ve been making the most of the features that it has to offer. One of these is web-slices. You can also grab an addon for Firefox which replicates this feature, but doesn’t seem to work quite so well. However, the number of webslices provided by site admins is a bit limited. I therefore went on the hunt for a way to create my own. Low and behold, the Internet has an answer in the form of LiveSlices.

The Twitter WebSlice

The Twitter WebSlice

The site’s aim is pretty simple – create new webslices and enable users to create their own. The site doesn’t yet have many of their own creation, however, the ones it does have are quite useful. I especially like the Twitter slice, which allows you to keep track of your updates from Twitter without visiting the website or using one of the bajillions of third-party Twitter applications vying for your use. As with all other WebSlices, the text changes to bold if there’s new updates, then clicking the item in the favourites toolbar pops a little box down which lets you see your updates without leaving the webpage you’re currently on.

Aside from the rather spiffing Twitter slice, another great feature of the website is the ability to create your own slice from an RSS feed. I’ve never particularly liked RSS feeds because I’ve never seen the reason behind having updates to websites hidden away in your bookmarks. Therefore having an RSS feed in a web-slice makes more sense to me. It will add a drop-down item onto your favourites toolbar which can be clicked to see the latest updates to the feed. I’ve got three news sources – one of which was custom-made with LiveSlices, and a few from other sources. In order to create your own RSS  WebSlice you simply need to go to website you want to keep track of, find the RSS feed and copy/paste the URL into LiveSlice’s webpage for creating your own custom RSS slice. You will also need to provide a name and a couple of other settings when doing this. You can then click ‘Install’ to have the slice added to your favourites bar. I had trouble a couple of times when the slice didn’t work correctly when clicked and would refer me to a webpage instead of appearing in a box. I found that deleting it and trying again fixed this.

LiveSlices is a spiffing little website. They’re also working on creating a slice to allow you to add Facebook to your favourites bar. You might be concerned that you’ll end up spending your whole time looking at your social updates from Twitter, but you can counter-balance that by creating your own unsociable feeds for news sources and other such jazzy locations. You can get the feeds and create your own at www.liveslices.com.

Check websites with SiteAdvisor and WOT

June 20, 2009 3 comments

Most of us download a lot of stuff from the Internet – ranging from free trials of software, to handy little widgets. We’re also likely to do a fair bit of shopping online too, ranging from buying doorhandles to DVDs. However, if you’re looking to buy something obscure – stuff that’s not stocked by the usual trustworthy sources – you may find yourself on a more obscure website, and unsure of its integrity. McAfee SiteAdvisor and Web Of Trust are ready and willing to help you out of such situations.

For the purposes of keeping this article clear and preventing either me or you from getting confused, I’ll try to focus on the two separately, reviewing and giving a brief guide to both of their websites and the browser addons.

An example of a page checked by McAfee SiteAdvisor. Click to enlarge.

An example of a page checked by McAfee SiteAdvisor. Click to enlarge.

SiteAdvisor is run by McAfee, the renowned and largely trusted security software company. The website allows visitors to type in a website address, and it will pull up a page with information about the site requested. This will consist of the company’s own tests, which includes testing the links and downloads, and reviews from users. A rating will also be given which gives you overall advice about the trustworthiness of the website. You can also add your own review to help other users who check the same URL as you. If the site is not listed, the submission will be placed in a queue to be checked by McAfee’s systems. Unfortunately this can take quite a while, so it’s not worth waiting around for it to be checked before your very eyes.

A browser addon is also available. This places a mark next to search results

The SiteAdvisor addon checks search results as well as notifying you of the safety of the webpage you're currently on. Click to enlarge.

The SiteAdvisor addon checks search results as well as notifying you of the safety of the webpage you're currently on. Click to enlarge.

which either notifies you that the website is fine and safe, potentially risky, or dangerous. There will be a faded grey icon if the item has not been checked. The SiteAdvisor item will also sit at the bottom right of the browser’s status bar, notifying you of the safety of the website you’re currently on. It can be clicked for more information.

The second website and addon which I’m looking at is ‘Web Of Trust‘ (WOT). This alternative to SiteAdvisor is far more community-based, relying on the reviews of consumers. These reviews consist of sliders where the website is rated on different categories, namely: trustworthiness, reliability, privacy, and child safety. In addition, users can submit a text review of the website to provide any additional feedback or information. These reviews are aggregated to provide an average rating in each of the above listed areas.

An example ratings page from Web of Trust.

An example ratings page from Web of Trust. Click to enlarge.

WOT’s website works in a similar way to SiteAdvisor’s in that they both allow the user to input a website address to have it checked. However, WOT does not use testing systems to determine the safety of downloads and links. It does, however, have a large number of users who rate websites. The system of a linear rating in each area is also a far better method that McAfee’s mainly text-based reviewing system.

Like SiteAdvisor, Web Of Trust also sports an addon, which can be installed

The addon allows you to easily rate websites. If you have rated it low or it has been rated as dangerous by other users, you will receive a warning to protect you.

The addon allows you to easily rate websites. If you have rated it low or it has been rated as dangerous by other users, you will receive a warning to protect you. Click to enlarge.

into your browser. It also checks results from search engines against its database to give you an overall rating. However, it surpasses McAfee’s offering in terms of making it incredibly simple and easy to see other users’ feedback and add your own. A simple button is added to the browser. This will remain green when the website is safe; will change to orange when there’s a risk; and turn red when there’s real danger. Upon clicking this button, a box will pop down which shows the average ratings in the different categories. Sliders are also present to allow you to add your own rating of the website, in addition to an optional text review.

Overall judgement on which is better is quite tough. McAfee is better in the sense that it they use systems to check the websites – scanning downloads and checking the websites which it links to. However, Web Of Trust is much better on the community front. It’s easier to check websites on the fly and add your own rating by clicking the button to check the average ratings of different people. Overall, I would suggest checking webistes with both before downloading or buying anything. However, if you’re going to use one of the addons, I would highly recommend opting for Web of Trust over McAfee.

Visit McAfee Siteadvisor at www.siteadvisor.com and Web Of Trust at www.mywot.com. You can check websites and/or download the addons from these sites.

Most of us download a lot of stuff from the Internet – ranging from free trials of software, to handy little widgets. We’re also likely to do a fair bit of shopping online too, ranging from doorhandles to DVDs. However, if you’re looking to buy something obscure – stuff that’s not stocked by the usual trustworthy sources – you may find yourself on a more obscure website, and unsure of its integrity. McAfee SiteAdvisor and Web Of Trust are ready and willing to help you out of such situations.

For the purposes of keeping this clear and preventing either me or you from getting confused, I’ll try to focus on the two separately, reviewing and giving a brief guide to both of their websites and browser addons.

An example of a page checked by McAfee SiteAdvisor. Click to enlarge.

An example of a page checked by McAfee SiteAdvisor. Click to enlarge.

Starting with SiteAdvisor. This is run by McAfee, the renowned and largely trusted security software company. The website allows visitors to type in a website address, and it will pull up a page with information about the site requested. This will consist of the company’s own tests, which includes testing the links and downloads, and reviews of users. A rating will also be given which gives overall advice to users about the trustworthiness of the website. You can also add your own review to help other users who check the same URL as you. If the site is not listed, the submission will be placed in a queue to be checked by McAfee’s systems. Unfortunately this can take quite a while, so it’s not worth waiting around for it to be checked before your very eyes.

A browser addon is also available. This places a mark next to search results

The SiteAdvisor addon checks search results as well as notifying you of the safety of the webpage you're currently on. Click to enlarge.

The SiteAdvisor addon checks search results as well as notifying you of the safety of the webpage you're currently on. Click to enlarge.

which either notifies you that the website is fine and safe, potential risks, or dangerous. There will be a faded grey icon if the item has not been checked. The SiteAdvisor item will also sit at the bottom right of the browser’s status bar, notifying you of the safety of the website you’re currently on. It can be clicked for more information.

The second website and addon which I’m looking at is ‘Web Of Trust‘ (WOT). This alternative to SiteAdvisor is far more community-based, relying on the reviews of consumers. These reviews consist of sliders where the website is rated on different categories, namely: trustworthiness, reliability, privacy, and child safety. In addition, users can submit a text review of the website to provide any additional feedback or information. These reviews are aggregated to provide an average rating in each of the above listed areas.

WOT’s website works in a similar way to SiteAdvisor’s in that they both allow the user to input a website address to have it checked. However, WOT does not use testing systems to determine the safety of downloads and links. It does, however, have a large number of users who rate websites. The system of a linear rating in each area is also a far better method that McAfee’s mainly text-based reviewing system.

Like SiteAdvisor Web Of Trust also sports an addon, which can be installed into your browser. Like SiteAdvisor, it checks search listings against its database to give you an overall rating. However, it surpasses McAfee’s offering in terms of making it incredibly simple and easy to see other users’ feedback and add your own. A simple button is added to the browser. The button will remain green when the website is safe; will change to orange when there’s a risk; and turn red when there’s real danger. Upon clicking this button, a box will pop down which shows the average ratings in the different categories. Sliders are also present to allow you to add your own rating of the website, in addition to an optional text review.

Keep copies of websites with BackStreet Browser

Before you groan and trundle back off to wherever you were going, this isn’t a review of some obscure, naff browser. Despite its name,  Backstreet Browser doesn’t serve the purpose of being another browser which vies for your usership when browsing the Web. Instead, this application is a rather nifty way of keeping a copy of a website on your computer (or CD, USB key – anywhere you desire.)

Backstreet Browser allows you to download and keep a copy of any website

Backstreet Browser allows you to download and keep a copy of any website

I’m preeempting that you are thinking one of the following two questions: ‘why would I want to save a copy of a website’ and ‘can’t I just save the pages as I normally would?’ Starting with the former. You might find a website which contains some rather smashing information or content, but you fear that it won’t be around forever – it might be a really old website which is likely to be taken offline soon or have its domain name registration run out and not be renewed. Keeping a copy of the entire website would be rather snazzy way to avoid this problem. As for the latter question – you could indeed save the webpages individually, however, this is likely to be a long and rather difficult process. I tried it, and organising the various saved webpages into a reasonable order in a folder is a bit of a difficult process. You might also end up losing images or other content this way or missing certain pages.

In addition, what sets BackStreet Browser apart from the manual method of saving the pages is that it retains the links. If you were to save each webpage separately, the links that page would still go to the original location on the Internet. This would force you to open each page you want to visit from your files. With Backstreet, you can simply open up one of the pages that it saved, and all the links will point to your own internal copies of the site. It’s like browsing the website on the Internet, but from your own local storage. There’s no risk of it disappearing unless you delete it or something goes kaput on your beloved computer.

You tell the software which website you want to download by clicking ‘New’ and then telling it the URL. You can then tell it how far to drill down into the links. For example, you may only want the top, most important layer of a website – the ones which are linked to from the homepage, so you would just choose ‘1’ for the link depth. Alternatively, if you want to nab everything, you could set the link level to a higher value. You can also choose whether you want the software to save copies of external pages to which your chosen website links to – eg, if a website links to a Wikipedia article.

I think my only criticism would be that the software is a bit dated; the interface has the potential to be confusing and difficult to use. In addition, the datedness of the application shows more clearly in the fact that the choices for the way the software identifies itself to websites consist of ‘Backstreet Browser 3.1’, IE 5.1, Netscape 4.5, or Opera 6.05 . This causes me to wonder whether things will display correctly when it downloads them. I think anything you download from newer, more advanced websites should be fine provided that you open the downloaded pages in a modern, capable browser.

This is a great bit of software for keeping backups of websites which you think might dissapear sometime soon, or something which you think might prove useful to you in the future, but you might not be able to find again. You can download from the official website at www.spadixbd.com/backstreet, or from Download.com.

View TV with Zattoo

Online television has only become a viable possibility in recent years; with increasing broadband speeds and advances in multimedia downloading and streaming, consumers have been able to benefit from a wealth of online entertainment. A lot of online possibilities have popped up on the ‘Net which allow you to view TV shows and other entertainment sources.. However, Zattoo is slightly different in that it allows you to watch a variety of channels live in fairly high quality.

Zattoo streams TV from a wide range of channels over the Internet at near real-time.

Zattoo streams TV from a wide range of channels over the Internet in near real-time.

I must admit that the first time I tried this software I was excited but quite unimpressed: the video was choppy and kept breaking up. It was so poor that I usually gave up with it and turned on my television, putting up with abysmal picture quality. I only started using Zattoo again when I wanted to ardently work away on my masses of work on my laptop whilst enjoying a rather smashing film on my desktop’s monitor, which happens to be merrily placed behind and to the left of my laptop’s home. Upon loading up Zattoo, I was startled to find an update. After recovering from this profound startlement, I applied it, noting that one of the issues which it claimed to fix was the choppiness of the video. It seems that it did. I can’t say that it’s perfect – there’s still a bit of occasional choppiness, but it occurs much less often than previously and to a less extreme extent. I had also been ailed by occasions where the software would stop receiving video for a little while; I’d be stuck watching the same frozen picture whilst the sound continued on, this is much rarer now, too.

Anyway, the program itself is really quite dandy: it allows you to watch a variety of TV channels live (well, only a very slight delay, which can be expected from streaming like this. I’ve currently got over 40 channels to choose from, 5 of which are offered in high quality – picture streams with better images than the other channels. That’s not to say that the other channels have poor picture – they’re actually quite good. Unfortunately there’s currently no way to pause or rewind TV, and I don’t see this feature coming any time soon due to the licensing issues I would expect they’d have to tackle to add these features.

Overall, a great bit of software. I’m hoping they’ll iron out the final few picture quality issues in this useful and entertaining application. I should also be remembered that it’s still in beta, so here’s hoping that the final release will be even better. The software is, of course, completely legal – it’s supported by revenue from adverts. You’ll see these whilst waiting for a channel to load and above the list of stations, but they’re not distracting and shouldn’t sour you on this good bit of kit. You can download it from www.zattoo.com to give it a try.

School organisation with Soshiku

March 8, 2009 2 comments

The number of web applications has exploded recently, seeing a number of really useful stuff running directly from your browser or Internet enabled phone, without the need to download or install anything. Whilst this is one of the less exciting, it’s a really simple, sleek and helpful web application which will help you organise your studies. Soshiku is, in a word, fantastic.

If you’re like me, you get so much homework you can’t keep track. I’d tried keeping a log in various ways, such as using

Soshiku makes organising your schoolwork a snap - no more excuses!

Soshiku makes organising your schoolwork a snap - no more excuses!

Excel or Onenote, even the hated paper, but none of them compare to the features and simple interface of Soshiku. The registration process is incredibly simple and easy, only requiring three details from you: name, username and email address. After that, you can log in and set about creating a snazzy space to organise your school work.

You can add sections for each of your subjects, or if you’re only studying one or two subjects, you could use that feature to add different modules or segments for your course. You can then add assignments; these would likely consist of homework, coursework, reading, revision, etc. Define a title for it, a due date, add a few notes and you’re finished. You can even break down assignments into individual task lists to make it clear for yourself.

Soshiku will keep track of when your assignments are due by putting them on the homepage under headings like ‘due tomorrow’, ‘due this week’ and the dreaded ‘overdue’. This allows you to prioritize at a glance. Clicking on an assignment title will take you to the details you added earlier, allowing you to view and edit them. Each subject you add also gets its own page, where your current and past assignments are listed.

I don’t know about you, but I hate having to work on projects with other people; I’m a control freak, but occasionally I have to. Soshiku helps me to get through this traumatic experience by allowing me to set projects as being available either publicly or to selected Soshiku friends, making it easy to collaborate with them. Ican also utilize the feature which lets me upload documents, sharing them with my workmate so he can make changes and then upload it again.

There’s no need to be at your computer either – just set Soshiku up with your mobile and you can receive assignment reminders whilst you’re plodding around town or hiding from your masses of work in a bar. You can even add new assignments from your mobile via a text message! It’s really simple to use after having a fiddle around and getting aquainted with the features. I’m sure you’ll love it, so sign up now at www.soshiku.com! If you find yourself confused, have a read of the simple help pages.

Safari 4 beta released

February 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Apple’s Safari browser, originally a Mac OS only product, has been released on the Windows platform for some time now. However, a new version has been released for testing, and it’s pretty polished for a beta. Its speed is astonishing – slightly faster than the other front runner for speed, Google Chrome, and astonishingly faster than the most widely

used browser, Internet Explorer 7. It also adds some nifty new features: ‘top sites’ appears in an aesthetically pleasing

The Safari history cover-flow

The Safari history cover-flow

showcase when opening a new tab; a cleaner and more complementary interface has been donned, replacing the awkward-looking brushed aluminium of its predecessor; and the ability to flick visually your bookmarks in a similar way to Apple’s famous Cover Flow on their iPods and Operating System is a welcome addition.

The new look for Safari sees an end to the somewhat obtrusive Mac-style appearance which the previous versions forced into Windows. Instead, it has a much more ‘Vista-ish’ appearance, allowing the glass of Vista in the title-bar to shine though. It’s also used Chrome’s bright idea of moving the tabs to the top, making good use of the title-bar; therefore allowing more room for the webpage to be viewed and wasting less on the browser’s frame. As mentioned, it also ports Apple’s trademark flair for visuals: Safari greets the user with a sleek grid of their most commonly used websites when a new tab is opened. It also allows the user to search through their bookmarks and history using a Cover Flow type interface, where each page is represented by an image of it, rather than just the name or address, as in most browsers.

However, it’s still lacking in some features which you might expect. There is no ability to add custom search providers: this means you’ll have to navigate to the site you want to search in order to use the search box there, rather than simply using the search box built into the browser. I was quite startled to see that this feature had not been included in this release, as it’s commonplace in all other modern browsers, greatly saving time for the user. There is also a lack of customisation options: the user is limited to a very small number of buttons which can be added to the toolbar. It also currently to lack the ability to save tabs when closing it and have them reopen when next using Safari – a must for anyone who wants to quickly get back to the websites they were using last time. The new look also seems somewhat out of place on Windows XP; the baby-blue of XP’s default theme do not work well with the new use of the titlebar.

A pleasing sight for all web developers is the 100/100 results on the Acid 3 Test. This means that it should have no problem handling the modern coding standards – allowing it to display modern websites seamlessly and quickly. It also aces the CSS3 Selectors test. By comparison, Microsoft’s latest offering, Internet Explorer 8, comes nowhere near to Safari’s results in either of the tests.

It’s certainly worth trying out, but I’m not convinced that it’s worth the switch for most users. However, it does seem to go a long way to helping dissolve a lot of the bad press and opinions which are often vented about this browser. It’s still in beta so I hope to see the fairly minor issues ironed out by the time of its full release. Why not check it out and see what you think?

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