plug-ins

Adobe Flash Player for Mac review

Adobe Flash Player for Mac lets you access Flash content in Web sites when using browsers like OS X's Safari. The plug-in integrates seamlessly and through a preference pane, gives you control over the type of access each Web site has to your system. The only downside to using it is that it suffers from performance issues.

Pros

Configurable: The plug-in adds a new preference pane in System Preferences where you will be able to adjust your local storage, camera, mic and peer-assisted networking settings to either allow the feature for all Web sites, on a per-request basis, or … Read more

Java Runtime Environment (JRE) review

Java Standard Edition (SE) is a free software bundle that provides the Java Runtime Environment and the libraries and components you need to display a wide range of programs and Web content on 32-bit Windows PCs. It includes the Java plug-in for Web browsers and Java Web Start for deploying standalone apps written in Java over the Internet or other networks. Java SE Version 7 Update 55 addresses 37 security vulnerabilities.

Pros

You probably need it: Lots of Web sites and programs depend on Java to run. Up-to-date Java libraries and components keep your content fresh.

Now with JavaFX: Java … Read more

Sony Noise Reduction review

Sony Noise Reduction consists of four professional DirectX sound restoration plug-ins that can clean up your vinyl recordings and tracks, eliminating noise that has been accidentally introduced or unwanted and annoying sound sources from otherwise good recordings. To use them effectively, however, you need to know what you are doing.

Pros

Great performance: Sony Noise Reduction includes Audio Restoration, Clipped Peak Restoration, Noise Reduction, and Click and Crackle Removal, all of which work as advertised.

Plug-in settings: You start with the default values and, if the result is not satisfactory, you can adjust many settings. Once you are happy with … Read more

Review: Change facial expressions in Photoshop with Redfield's Face Control plug-in

Redfield describes its Face Control plug-in for Adobe Photoshop as a precision tool for facial expression synthesis. It applies highly controlled distortions to images, especially faces, to achieve subtle or dramatic effects. It can alter the Mona Lisa's famously enigmatic smile or turn the most charming movie star into a leering, sneering villain. It's optimized for facial close-ups, but it works on any image in Photoshop. It's freeware that downloads with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

Installing Face Control isn't quite like installing an ordinary app since you must browse to Photoshop's plug-in folder. Not … Read more

Manage plug-ins on a per-site basis in Safari 7

As part of its OS X Mavericks release, Apple has included version 7 of its Safari Web browser, which not only offers compatibility with the new operating system, but also brings some enhanced features. One of these is a new plug-in manager that allows you to enable or disable plug-ins, either globally or on a per-site basis.

While the technologies built into Apple's Safari browser are relatively safe and constantly updated, some of the notable security breaches have come from the use of third-party plug-ins such as Java and Flash, among others. Since a good portion of Web content … Read more

Google paves over hole left by Chrome plug-in ban

Google has added a new feature to Chrome to help programmers who relied on soon-to-be-banished browser plug-ins to call upon the services of a third-party program.

The Native Messaging interface will let programmers do things like trigger a password management program, said Google programmer Sergey Ulanov in a blog post Tuesday.

The interface arrived with Chrome 29, Ulanov said, for Windows, Linux, and OS X.

Starting in January, Google is phasing out support for the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI), which lets third-party software augment a browser's built-in abilities.

Google will permit several top plug-ins that use NPAPI … Read more

Firefox to deactivate most plug-ins by default

Mozilla has dealt another blow to those who want to use plug-ins to extend the browser's capabilities. It's keeping all but Flash Player deactivated by default in a version of Firefox now under development.

With the click-to-run plug-in feature, announced in January, plug-ins such as Silverlight and QuickTime won't run unless the user authorizes it when a Web page using them loads. That feature now is built into the Aurora version of Firefox that will grow into the final release in coming weeks. The plug-in hurdle doesn't apply to Adobe Systems' Flash Player, by far the … Read more

Google begins barring browser plug-ins from Chrome

In case it wasn't clear before, a Google decision has shown the writing is on the wall for plug-ins such as Java and Silverlight that for years have been used to extend what browsers can do.

Starting in January 2014, Google will ban all but the most widely used browser plug-ins in favor of programming methods that use standards built directly into the Web, Chrome security engineer Justin Schuh announced in a blog post Monday. And those plug-ins will be barred "over the coming year," he said.

Most Chrome plug-ins (not to be confused with the lighter-weight … Read more

California extends HOV lane access for plug-in cars to 2019

California's HOV lane sticker program -- which is meant to give drivers incentive to adopt more efficient, but more expensive, electrified vehicles -- was scheduled to come to a close at the end of 2015, but a bill approved by the state legislature has extended the program until 2019.

Drivers of fully electric vehicles (such as the Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf, or Fiat 500e) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (such as the Toyota Prius Plug-in or Chevrolet Volt) can receive white or green stickers, respectively, that will allow them full access to high-occupancy vehicle carpool lanes, even if they'… Read more

Review: Convert image files using Adobe DNG Converter for Mac

Despite its poorly designed interface and lack of additional features, Adobe DNG Converter for Mac converts image files well, but will not likely appeal to average users who do not work with large numbers of image files.

Adobe DNG Converter for Mac is a free utility that enables photographers to convert the digitally unprocessed image files from many known mid-range and professional digital cameras to a more universal format such as Digital Negative. Download and installation completed quickly, but the application's size of nearly 500MB is overly large for its type. There were no user instructions, but those familiar … Read more