Added a page of stuff I’m trying out

I just moved over from my old site a page I call “just messing with,” which lists software, web sites or gadgets that I’m giving a trial run. That’s followed on the page by a list of things that didn’t make the cut, under the heading “Canned.” Today, I just quickly cut and pasted the old page over here. Soon — really — I’ll add some new entries.

Next version of Firefox gets ready for prime time

icon for firefox web browserSeems like the Mozilla project has been working on the 3.0 upgrade to free, open source browser Firefox since time began but really it’s only been since the Pleistocene Era. Finally, we’ve arrived at the so-called release candidate (download here), or the almost, not quite but really almost finished beta version. I was hanging around reading other people’s tweets on Twitter when I saw Mac expert John Siracusa mention it and link to the download page. So, I guess it’s about time to cowboy up and try it.

I’m usually not big on beta software, but it’s the weekend. At first, I grew very apprehensive when, reading way down the list of improvements, I eventually happened upon this sentence: “Please note that installing Firefox 3 will overwrite your existing installation of Firefox on Mac OS X and Linux.” Hmm. That’s a little scary. But I was comforted just three lines later when told: “You can remove Firefox 3 through the Control Panel in the Start Menu on Windows, by removing the Firefox application on OS X, or by removing the firefox folder on Linux. Removing Firefox 3 won’t remove your bookmarks, web browsing history, extensions or other add-ons.”

Some of the cool new features I’m looking forward to (and which I’ll be reporting back on shortly):
— Full page zoom: from the View menu and via keyboard shortcuts, the new zooming feature lets you zoom in and out of entire pages, scaling the layout, text and images, or optionally only the text size. Your settings will be remembered whenever you return to the site.
–Optimized Open in Tabs behavior: opening a folder of bookmarks in tabs now appends the new tabs rather than overwriting.
–Triple-clicking selects a paragraph.
–Integration with the Mac: the new Firefox theme makes toolbars, icons, and other user interface elements look like a native OS X application. Firefox also uses OS X widgets and supports Growl for notifications of completed downloads and available updates. A combined back and forward control make it even easier to move between web pages.
–Location bar & auto-complete: Results are returned according to their frequency (a combination of frequency and recency of visits to that page) ensuring that you’re seeing the most relevant matches. An adaptive learning algorithm further tunes the results to your patterns!
–Speed: improvements to our JavaScript engine as well as profile guided optimizations have resulted in continued improvements in performance. Compared to Firefox 2, web applications like Google Mail and Zoho Office run twice as fast in Firefox 3, and the popular SunSpider test from Apple shows improvements over previous releases.

Stay tuned.

New version of VMWare’s Fusion brings multitude of improvements

VMWare is out with a public beta of the 2.0 upgrade for their Mac-based virtualization program Fusion. One problem — you can’t run the beta alongside the current 1.1.1 issue because the beta overwrites it. So I’ll be holding off for a good long time. But in an excellent first look review, Macworld’s Rob Griffiths has the run down on how the many improvements are functioning so far, including better 3D graphics, printer set-up and dual screen support. Still he warns:

While writing this article, in fact, I experienced a couple of crashes with Fusion 2.0, though none that affected the VMs. In an era when the “beta” tag gets slapped on a lot of perfectly usable products, sometimes we can forget that, for some products, beta really does mean beta. This version of VMware Fusion is one of those products

Consider yourself warned!