Three programs with big names have recently released some minor updates. Take a look at what's changed in the Opera Web browser, the remote access app LogMeIn, and Orb, which gives you the power to stream your music just about anywhere.

Don't confuse house music progenitors The Orb with Orb the program. This Orb melds module-based personal portals with your hard drive's media content and lets you stream it to almost any Internet-connected device, including handhelds. This means that any Pocket PC with Windows Mobile or Windows CE, or any cell phone with a Web browser and either Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, TCPMP, or 3GP Player is good to go. Newer game systems like the Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 also work with Orb. Orb's publisher's have provided a handy Web site from which you can test your device.

The fact that it's free to use for multiple remote PCs, with reasonable monthly plans if you need more--five computers for $20 per month or $200 per year--makes LogMeIn a killer remote-access program. The program differs from its competitors in that the application runs in your Web browser. If you're running Firefox, it asks to install a plug-in and then opens an emulator of the remote PC in a new window. If you have a lot of tabs open, LogMeIn will slow down your browsing and possibly drag your CPUs clock speed a bit.

Widgets for Opera can live outside the browser window. (Credit: Opera)

The user interface used to be great, and has just undergone an overhaul making it even better. It wasn't screaming out for a redo, so this attention to detail does no harm and even speeds things up a bit. You need to upgrade to take advantage of the file transfer and synchronization abilities, but creative users should be able to find ways around that restriction, at least for small files.

Opera has all the basics covered, including tabbed browsing with mouse-over preview, a search bar, advanced bookmarking tools, and simple integration with your favorite e-mail and chat clients. Mouse-gesture support, keyboard shortcuts, and drag-and-drop functionality further enhance your surfing experience, and provide a great alternative to Firefox.

The latest version is a security-fix, but don't let that scare you away: Opera is at least as secure as Firefox, and with excellent mobile versions and shared bookmarking, it should be at the top of anybody's list for portability.