Mac Software

DoubleTwist: Like iTunes for your cell phone

Yesterday, I blogged about how the forthcoming Droid won't be an iPhone killer because it lacks the simple sync interface provided by the iTunes desktop application. I neglected to mention an excellent application called DoubleTwist, which offers the easy sync experience of iTunes for a much wider variety of devices, including all the Android phones currently on the market, most BlackBerrys, Sony's PlayStation Portable, and a huge range of other non-Apple products--as well as the iPod and iPhone, if you're so inclined.

Created in part by Jon Lech Johansen (aka DVD Jon), who's best known for … Read more

Finding the catch in 'free' software

Browsing the Web has become like walking down a carnival sideshow. Everywhere you turn, you're bombarded with come-ons. You know there's a catch to each and every pitch because these barkers are pros at separating you from your money.

The people offering free software and Web services appear to be taking lessons from retired carnies. Their offers are too good to be true—literally. Most of these folks are in business, after all, so they have to make money somehow.

And as they say, the most successful cons are the ones where the victim doesn't even know … Read more

Firefox blocks insecure .Net add-on--awkwardly

Mozilla on Friday disabled a Microsoft plug-in for Firefox called the .Net Framework Assistant because of a security problem--then scrambled to give people with patched systems an override option.

Mike Shaver, Mozilla's vice president of engineering, announced the first step late Friday night on his blog. "It's recently surfaced that it has a serious security vulnerability, and Microsoft is recommending that all users disable the add-on," Shaver said. "Because of the difficulties some users have had entirely removing the add-on, and because of the severity of the risk it represents if not disabled, we contacted … Read more

A bar code scanner and a four-wheeler dirt racing game: iPhone apps of the week

Do you have a "jailbroken" iPhone? Ever since the iPhone first came on the scene, there has been a large group of users who believe Apple tries too hard to control what works and what doesn't on the iPhone. The minute a new iPhone firmware update is released from Apple, a whole slew of people search for ways to unlock the device, letting them download apps that have never had to go through the App store acceptance process. This means that apps that would have otherwise never seen the light of day can be used on an … Read more

Remove files attached to messages in Outlook, Thunderbird, and Yahoo Mail

Outlook, Thunderbird, and Yahoo Mail put Gmail and Hotmail to shame in one important area: handling attachments. Moving e-mail-attached files to a folder on your PC is a breeze in Outlook, Thunderbird, and Yahoo Mail. Doing the same in Gmail and Hotmail? Forget it!

Freeware strips e-mail attachments in a few clicks Back in June 2008, I wrote about Kopf Outlook Attachment Remover donationware, which lets you save some or all of the files attached to Outlook messages to your PC or network. The program adds a button to Outlook's menu that opens a single dialog box showing your … Read more

How Chrome users can scrub Yahoo logo off Flickr

Those of you who hate the recent arrival of Yahoo's logo on Flickr now have an easy way to erase it--and get a number of useful features--as long as you're using an edgy version of Chrome.

Chrome extensions let people customize the browser's behavior, and the Fittr Flickr extension from Gmail programmer Dan Pupius whips Yahoo's photo-sharing site into shape. Some people use extensions for using Delicious bookmarks, banishing ads, and filling out forms, but this is my favorite Chrome extension so far. You can also download Fittr from Download.com.

The Yahoo logo is ugly but not too bothersome in my eyes. Instead, what I like best about Fittr Flickr is its keyboard navigation options. Once the extension is installed, you can type "?" to see the options, but the two I now use a lot are "." and "," to navigate forward and backward through a person's photostream. Typing "s" will star a photo as a favorite, and in a nice Google touch harkening to the vi text editor, "/" will put your cursor in the search field. … Read more

Is Quicken at the end of the road?

Conventional wisdom is that Intuit's acquisition of the personal finance Web service Mint will mean the end of the line for the company's standalone software app, Quicken. Upstart Mint, which is being acquired by Intuit for $170 million, has a personal finance product more in line with the times, with a younger demographic, a working business model, and a passionate CEO, Aaron Patzer, who's slated to take over the Quicken product line at Intuit once the acquisition closes. It doesn't look good for the old desktop app, Quicken.

It's a shame that we think of Quicken that way, but it's Intuit's own fault that we've gotten here. The product, according to Intuit legend, started at founder Scott Cook's kitchen table in 1983 as he watched his wife struggle with paying bills. The original Quicken, little more than an DOS-based checkbook and register, over time became an ambitious personal finance suite that handled budgeting, retirement planning, loans, public equities and employee stock options. It became more capable but also more complex, harder to use, and much harder to get started with.

More importantly, as Julie Miller, director of corporate communications for the consumer group at Intuit told me, "Quicken made its way through the organization. We shuffled the Quicken business around. That had a direct effect on the quality of the product." You can see the effect on CNET's own reviews. Users hate Quicken. Few products have user reviews scores as low: none of the variations of of Quicken from recent years have user reviews garnering more than 1 and a half stars out of 5. (Our official reviews score the products higher.)

Another reason that Quicken suffered: Intuit shifted its focus away from the flagship product to new moneymakers, in particular its small-business product, QuickBooks, and its tax software and service, TurboTax. As Miller says, "There were decisions made over time that had the unintended consequence of putting the Quicken business where it was starved for focus and resources."

Finally, though, the light began to dawn at Intuit. Miller: "Our thinking was too limited. We weren't thinking beyond the desktop solution. The way we grow this, we realized, was to look for acquisitions."

Read more

Chrome Mac beta nearer; Win 7 features recede

Programmers have mostly overcome a crucial hurdle to releasing a beta version of Chrome for the Mac, printing support, but several Windows 7 features won't make the cut for the present 4.x version of Chrome.

The Mac printing support is now added, according to the Google browser's issue-tracking system, though there are "minor remaining issues" and the new features aren't yet distributed with the software.

Google has cited Mac printing support as one holding back a Mac version of the browser. Mac support is important for the company's ambitions to spread the browser … Read more

Opera prepares Unite for release

Opera Unite was going to change the Web, according to the hype from the Norwegian browser maker. Despite only being available for a number of months in a beta separate from the main Opera build--and the Internet looking more or less like the same place in the aftermath--the release of Opera 10.10 beta for Windows, Mac, and Linux indicates that Unite is about to become a standard Opera feature.

Unite is basically a peer-to-peer system designed through the browser, but its API allows users to create feature-rich apps using only HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. By default, Unite comes with … Read more

Adobe fixes 28 holes in Reader and Acrobat

Adobe on Tuesday released a security bulletin that includes fixes for 28 vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader and Acrobat, including a critical hole that has reportedly been exploited in the wild in limited attacks.

Affected software includes version 9.1.3 of Reader and Acrobat; Acrobat 8.1.6 for Windows, Macintosh, and Unix; and version 7.1.3 of Reader and Acrobat for Windows and Macintosh. The vulnerabilities could cause the applications to crash and could allow an attacker to take control of a user's computer.

Adobe recommends that people update to Adobe Reader 9.2 and Acrobat 9.… Read more