Mac software

Outline disk usage with Grand Perspective (review)

The last time I needed an exercise in frustration, I tried using the Finder to locate files that were taking up the most space on my disk. While the program is great for navigating the filesystem and locating items, when getting information on files or folders, or setting the Finder to automatically calculate file sizes, the "Calculating size..." process can sometimes pause for several minutes, and sometimes for tens of minutes. After the sizes are eventually calculated, the system will only list them and not really give you a good feel of which are using the most space. The utility Grand Perspective does a good job at tackling this limitation.… Read more

Digital comics store-reader combo LongBox hands-on

After a much longer run as a private beta than originally intended, the digital comic book store and comics reader called LongBox has finally opened its doors. The public beta is available for Windows and Mac, and although it's still quite rough in some spots, it represents a major breakthrough for the print-centric medium.

When you open LongBox v0.5, you'll see a massive information overload. The layout uses boxes to keep the busy display from getting too chaotic, but the varying shades of blue don't keep things as separate as they could be. Just because this is comics doesn't mean you're going to encounter a lot of primary colors or ziptones here, but some of that old-school feel might have helped here.

In the upper left box, you'll see a horizontal scroll of featured titles. Below that is a newsfeed from the comic book news and reviews Web site Comic Book Resources. The Blackbox is a comic creator spotlight, with the debut focus on Steven Niles, perhaps best known as the writer of 30 Days of Night. It is currently not functioning.

The column on the right is devoted to your LongBox stats on top and a scroll list of comic books being published for the current week. The stats counter wasn't working in the version I tested but should display your purchased comics, comics subscriptions, and comics loaded on your current device. That's a hint at what's to come for LongBox, which anticipates an iPad version, an Android tablet version, Xbox support, and support for other handheld devices. Comics downloaded through LongBox are shared to your account in addition to being stored locally, so you'll be able to read them on any LongBox-supported device without having to download them a second time. … Read more

Chrome to ditch unique ID, sort of

In a recent white paper on security in Chrome, Google let it slip that one of the most controversial features it's added to the Chromium source code will be going away after the first program update check. The white paper (PDF) states that the "unique ID," which Google says it introduced to Chrome as a way to keep track of installation success, will be deleted after the program checks for updates for the first time. This means that if you run Chrome immediately after installing, the ID will be deleted within minutes of a successful install.

Google … Read more

Four awesome alarm clock apps

During a recent spring cleaning, my wife and I wondered aloud why either of us needed an alarm clock on our nightstands.

After all, my iPhone and her iPod Touch both have a perfectly good alarm feature. What's more, the App Store is home to hundreds of alarm-clock apps--many of which are pretty slick.

With that in mind, here are four "alarming" apps that aim to make your mornings a little nicer:

1. Alarm Clock Free Just the basics. Alarm Clock Free lets you choose from an assortment of alarm sounds, any of which can "fade … Read more

VoxOx now translates as you type

Since it was introduced in late 2008, VoxOx has tried to cut a name for itself in the competitive multiprotocol chat client market by providing users with an aggressive feature set. These include VoIP, a "personal assistant" for managing incoming calls with more than a simple redirect, and SMS and Web-based callback to cut down on the cost of long-distance, transnational calls. The latest improvement is a universal translator that translates all text-based messages in real time, and with a reasonable amount of accuracy, for both the Windows and Mac versions of the program. It will work with … Read more

A clipboard manager and 2D fighting at its best: iPhone apps of the week

Before we get to this week's apps, a news item over at AppleInsider indicates we may be getting a change to the iPhone operating system that many have been talking about. According to one AppleInsider's more reliable sources, the iPhone OS 4.0 could add multitasking support in the next OS update. This means you'll be able to run apps simultaneously making it possible to switch between apps without closing them.

A lot of smartphones already have multitasking support, so it's been one of the bigger complaints for detractors of the iPhone. Frankly, I think it'… Read more

Consensus emerges for key Web app standard

Browser makers, grappling with outmoded technology and a vision to rebuild the Web as a foundation for applications, have begun converging on a seemingly basic by very important element of cloud computing.

That ability is called local storage, and the new mechanism is called Indexed DB.

Indexed DB, proposed by Oracle and initially called WebSimpleDB, is largely just a prototype at this stage, not something Web programmers can use yet. But already it's won endorsements from Microsoft, Mozilla, and Google, and together, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome account for more than 90 percent of the usage on the Net today.

"Indexed DB is interesting to both Firefox and Microsoft, so if we get to the point where we prototype it and want to ship it, it will have very wide availability," said Chris Blizzard, director of evangelism for Mozilla.

And standardization could come. Advocates have worked Indexed DB into the considerations of the W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium that standardizes HTML and other Web technologies. In the W3C discussions, Indexed DB got a warm reception from Opera, the fifth-ranked browser.… Read more

Quickly create alpha images from icons in Preview

Have you ever wondered how MacFixIt gets all those cool icons to start each of our articles? Even if you haven't, this is how you can do it, quick and easy. This tip is great for bloggers who write about applications and don't want to go searching online for an image of the icon from the app they are writing about.… Read more

Tether for free via PdaNet

Just because the Moscone Center in San Francisco hosts a veritable plethora of techie conventions, that doesn't mean it offers Wi-Fi. If your phone can pick up a 3G signal, you might not care--and you might not have to pay for it, either. Thanks to PdaNet's phone app and laptop drivers, and the unlimited data plan that you're already paying for, you can use many of the major smartphones as your Internet connection.

From the improbably-named software publisher June Fabrics, PdaNet is known for offering tethering solutions for PalmOS, but it also offers iPhone, Windows Mobile, and … Read more