Molly Wood and CNET TV's Insider Secrets takes you through a tripartite of free alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Although Photoshop's a great program, for some users it provides way too much editing power and it's way too expensive. Try one of these freeware substitutes, and also check out our series on building your own Adobe Creative Suite using top-notch freeware applications. Part One; Part Two
Every computer user needs a solid file compression program. Not only are they mandatory for opening downloaded software, they offer several other useful features for tasks like creating e-mail attachments, performing backups, and saving space on your hard drive. Most people use WinZip because it comes pre-installed on a lot of Windows PCs, but WinZip isn't the only program available for file compression.
There's certainly nothing wrong with WinZip, but some programs offer better file compression or features that may be more in tune with what you need. For instance, some apps make efficient compression their focus, while … Read more
This summer, Nielsen Net Ratings released a study of the fastest-growing instant-messaging clients from August 2006 to June 2007. The big winner was Meebo--the Web-based cross-platform chat app that lets AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, MSN, and Meebo's own users talk amongst themselves anywhere they've got a Web browser and an Internet connection.
The second-fastest growing chat client was more of a surprise. IMVU--which gained 154 percent more users over the year studied--is a 3D chat client that allows you to create your own avatar (covered previously) and interact with other users in a proprietary "metaverse.&… Read more
Microsoft is stepping closer to providing anywhere access to Office files. The free Office Live Workspace (more here), which lets people share work in Word, Excel and PowerPoint online, is expanding today to invite more beta testers.
You can sign up to try the work in progress at OfficeLive.com, although access may not be immediate. A final version is set for next spring.
When Office 2007 debuted nearly a year ago, it seemed curious that Microsoft offered no easy, one-click option for accessing work from the Web. Meanwhile, Zoho built an add-in for Office 2007, as Google Docs & Spreadsheets and other tools allowed people to share as well as compose work within a browser.
The free, ad-supported Office Live Workspace is a bridge to Office software, not a browser-based replica. Workspace synchronizes changes made to files stored both on a desktop and at Office Live's servers, including Outlook contacts and events. It works with Windows XP SP2, 2003 Server, or Vista with Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox 2 or higher (required for users of Mac OS 10.2 and up).
The online tools preview Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files as well as PDFs, PNGs, and JPGs. Workspace is meant to work in tandem with Word, Excel and PowerPoint XP, 2003, or 2007 running locally on a PC. You can preview, not edit, documents from a browser. Web Notes, on the other hand, do enable the creation and formatting of small text documents online.
Office Live Workspace emphasizes collaboration rather than composition. To share documents with other people, you can send them a secure URL without requiring them to sign in with a Windows Live ID. Everyone with access to the workspace can make and view each others' comments.
Those invited for editing can make changes to the work, as long as they have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on their hard drive. Office Live Workspace handily preserves the Track Changes feature from Office apps while also keeping five histories of a file. And the Share View screen allows control of another user's PC.
Another desktop component of this service is the Office Live Add-In for Microsoft Office. This is a quick download, although you'll have to restart the system afterward. Once it's installed, a Save to Office Live option will appear under the Office button within Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, with the subsequent dialog box showing your available workspaces.
Workspaces are collections of documents. Ten templates are built to manage a classroom, sports team, travels, job search, household, and so forth. For example, a travel workspace will include an expense report spreadsheet with Word files for an itinerary, packing list, and personal data. You can store a maximum of 500 workspaces containing 500 documents each for a total of 500 MB per account and 25 MB per file.
Office users who learn about these tools are likely to come to depend upon them to stash their work online with a few, quick clicks. Workplaces that use Microsoft's staple software will probably find Workspace a fine collaboration tool that makes it easy to take work away from the office.
This is a well-designed service, but I'd still like something not only to store work, but to let me make edits without opening local applications. What if you only want to correct a misspelled byline in a 20 MB report? You'll have to open Word, since Office Live Workspace doesn't even allow light, text only edits within a browser. I'll continue to lean on Google Docs for that.
Office Live Workspace, by the way, is not to be confused with Office Live Small Business, which offers a free domain name and Web design templates.
Please see more images after the jump.… Read more
Mozilla has released a version of the Firefox 3 beta 1 for PortableApps. For those hardcore Firefox 3 fans, this means that you never have to leave home without it. If you're curious about the beta, though, and you don't want to risk your Firefox 2 settings, the Firefox 3 beta 1 portable gives us all an easy and safe way to play around with the browser as it's in development.
As with the other programs in the PortableApps suite, this FF3 beta contains most if not all the features of the full version of the program. Most noticeable to those who haven't played around with FF3 yet will be the page rendering time. Web sites load much faster than they do in FF2, and it's hard not to appreciate that.
Back in October, I wrote about the Norton Fighter, a Kamen Rider-inspired mascot for Symantec in Japan to help the company sell Norton 360 to the denizens of the Floating Kingdom. Did I say sell? I meant, "fight honorably and do great battle to protect from evil." Or something.
Anyway, whoever's marketing Norton 360 sure knows its audience. The company has now put out a series of long commercials, filmed on grainy stock and in the Technicolor style of the '70s, showing the Fighter doing his best to not only defeat the evil Botlas, but also to … Read more
Yahoo is set to release a preview of Yahoo Messenger for Vista on Thursday.
It's just a preview, or a very early version, so it doesn't have all the features other versions of Yahoo Messenger do, such as voice, Webcam, chat rooms, text messaging to mobile phones, easy photo sharing and conferencing. Those features will come later.
What it does have is a new interface, and it lets you organize conversations into tabs and drag and drop tabs out to create a new window. You can also keep favorite contacts by dragging them into the Windows Sidebar gadget, … Read more
Microsoft on Tuesday said that it has reached the "release candidate" with the first service pack for Windows Vista, with plans to make the test software available publicly next week.
It is releasing the test code this week to the 15,000 or so people who have been beta testing SP1 already, and will also make it available on Thursday to those in the MSDN and TechNet developer programs.
"We feel really good and we look forward to receiving feedback from our larger set of testers," said David Zipkin, a senior product manager on the Windows … Read more
Microsoft's Live Labs, a standalone product research group, released on Wednesday Volta (download it from CNET Download.com), a development tool designed to make it easier to partition an application's component pieces across a network.
The problem that Microsoft researchers are trying to address is the difficulty of deciding which part of the application runs under which tier--either the client or server.
Typically, developers need to write code to handle the communication between those tiers. And they need to decide during development on how to best architect their applications for optimal performance.
With Volta, developers can make "… Read more
The response to my post last week about how to convert digital photo collections to DVD slide shows was a resounding, "Whatever. How can I grab a screenshot from a video or DVD?"
Who knew that the number of would-be "screencappers" was so legion? Regardless, I'm your humble servant, and your wish is generally my command.
First off, for image screen captures of digital video files, I highly recommend VLC Media Player. I know I mention the free media player quite a bit, but it's still the cream of the freeware video crop for me due to its light footprint and flexibility.… Read more