Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Free Windows/Mac/Linux Desktops!

A lot of my customers have been wondering where they can get free screensavers and desktops for Windows systems. To all of my customers: they typically aren't worth the potential trouble. Spyware and viruses are often hidden in them because they know that the typical Windows user tired long ago of the bouncing "Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete To Log In." As an added disincentive, I've configured Group Policy at most of my sites to prevent changing of the screensaver.

Now that that's out of the way, lets talk about Macdesktops - although it purports to be for Macintosh's, and a lot of desktops are feature Apple logos and themes, the fact is that these are simple images that can be used on any computer desktop!

Once you're at the site, pick a category, find a picture you like, click on the desired resolution (most of my customers are either using 800x600 or 1024x768 - if you not sure, go with 1024x768!), then right-click on the image and choose "set as background." Now you have a new background!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Suse 10 has been out for some time now, and has shown itself to be a robust solution for both desktops and servers. I've had OpenSuse 10 for several months, and almost bought a copy of Suse 10 Professional yesterday. Then I realized that Suse 10.1 is almost here and decided that it would be silly of me to buy 10.0.

So I downloaded the 5 OpenSuse 10.0 CD's using BitTorrent - no FTP install this time, I can't stand to be without my lappy for three days. I then put the 5 CD's together on one DVD using Novell's Tutorial Making a DVD from CDs and installed it - the install was completely finished within three hours.

Free Linux Antivirus - Finally, an alternative to ClamAV!

Woohoo! My fave free antivirus for NONCOMMERCIAL use - Avast - has finally released a Linux version for home users. It looks like it has the least demands of any antivirus system with respect to dependancies, only requiring the GTK+ 2.x libraries if you want to use the graphical user interface. Oh, and they demand you register (its FREE!) if you want the required serial number.

Free Windows Antivirus

Avast is also available for MS Windows - I prefer this one for home users due to the ease of use and nice interface. This one also demands free registration.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Virtual Desktop Managers

I'll never forget the first time I installed Linux and discovered virtual desktops - I was thrilled - before too long, I had a unique background image on each desktop, and was telling my high-school buddies how lame Windows was.

A freely available desktop manager exists from none other than the MotherShip herself. It lacks the fullness of features that can be found in the imaginatively named:

"Desktop Manager"

for OS X (and supporting Tiger, and as an added bonus, working quite well on an Intel-based Powerbook, though I didn't check its status in the aforementioned Rosettatest) - this cool app has a half-dozen or so available transitions between pages, flexible ways to change screens, and many other cool features. Now if only I coluld assign a new desktop to each "virtual" desktop.

er-hem, anyhow,

Virtual Desktop Manager

Manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar with this PowerToy. - Microsoft's description is as good as any. Unfortunately, this is all it does, and it offers no thumbnails of screens, and no nifty transitions. It works on XP, not 2k or 9x.

Alt-Tab Replacement

MS's description: With this PowerToy, in addition to seeing the icon of the application window you are switching to, you will also see a preview of the page. This helps particularly when multiple sessions of an application are open.

I say: This has been around a while, and I wish MS would do more along the lines of these two power toys to innovate on the interface. This reminds me a bit of how OS X and other desktop managers use thumbnails to show you whats up - I use a hot corner in OS X to activate Expose's "All Windows" function - quickly filling my screen with clickable perfect little thumbs of my work.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Opera 8.5

Rejoice! Yet another app that has builds for OS X, Linux, and Win32!

Opera, the long time 3rd or 4th place browser (behind IE, Mozilla, and Safari) has released version 8.5, from which I am composing this blog on a Suse 10.0 machine. It is freely available, and is an excellent alternative to Internet Exploder if you're a Windows Weenie. However, Firefox is still my fave - Opera has some trouble rendering pages; for instance, the Blogspot web post editor is missing 90% of the buttons that I can use in Firefox on any platform - I'll check the Windows one and see how it behaves. Yup, identical results- web-based apps don't seem to render in Opera in either Linux or Windows.

Still in all, it has a good interface, and sports most of the features that make Firefox a good choice. Its nice to know that Mozilla and Microsoft aren't the only cross-platform browsing game in town!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Why I Won't be Buying an Intel Mac Soon

Well, I had a dickens of a time making either KisMac or MacStumbler work on an Intel Powerbook 17" using the integrated WLAN adapter, which, by the way, I'm not sure whether it is an Airport or an Airport Extreme. However, IStumbler worked great for basic WiFi discovery; I didn't try the Bluetooth discovery.

That's not the only reason, however. Most of the cool apps that I know and love (NMap among them) are either a big pain to get running, or run slowly. The ones that run slowly, however, seem to run stably, and the slowness more tolerable once you convince yourself that its only temporary and that the developers of your app will make a free upgrade for Intel users. However, rumor has it that some developers are planning Intel support as a paid upgrade - that's right, some apps (like MS's Office suite) are going to charge for the upgraded version of their app, and the rumor didn't make it sound like it was going to have any new features or interface changes, it'll just be faster.

I'm willing to bet that the development of many current freeware and open sourc Mac apps will end as some developers may turn their attention elsewhere.

RosettaTest is a nifty app that resembles the "Force Quit Applications" applet in OS X, but it has a little red "R" on the corner af applications that are running under Rosetta, thus diagnosing the likely cause of the sluggishness of your application.

AbiWord is a nifty word processing app not too dissimilar from OpenOffice.org, but not requiring of X11 and only being a word processor, nothing more, nothing less. Abiword ran very well under Rosetta.

OpenOffice.org and NeoOffice
OpenOffice.org 2.0.x is nearing completion for Intel processors, and can be downloaded using the
Intel and PPC based non-qa'ed Community Builds link. Remember, it requires X11, which can be installed using your OS X Tiger CD.

NeoOffice reportedly won't run on the Intel Mac, so I haven't even tried it. That being said, I've used it on a PPC, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.