Beyond Firefox 2 – Testing Minefield (Firefox 3)

OK, so everyone is very excited about Firefox 2. I’m excited, your excited, all the social networks are ablaze.

But development does not stop at whole numbers, and the testing must go on – which is how we got here.

So I’m testing Firefox 3 (Minefield). That’s right, I won’t be outdone. I must run the most unstable software. Well at least on the test boxes. So currently the Vista, Leopard, and Edgy boxes are running “firefox-3.0a1”.

The first things you will notice are the graphics – everything has a nice sheen to it (in fact, looks just like Firefox 2!), while remaining true to the normal Firefox UI. Also of note is the fact that favorites are now run using a SQLite3 database. For the full list of features, head on over to the Burning Edge page.

Firefox 3 Minefield Toolbar
Firefox 3.0a1 Toolbar
Firefox 3 Minefield Tabs
New Tabs in Firefox 3.0a1 Minefield

As far as I can tell this is just as stable as Bon Echo was (that’s right – was stable for me), with inline spell-checking and some other fancy goodies.That’s all for now, some more screenshots from other platforms (other than Windows XP of course) and crash reports as they happen

Note: of course this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I’m sorry for the Mozilla devs. We all need to stop worrying about the cutting edge and appreciate what we have – fantastic browsers! Opera, Safari, IE7 and Firefox are all great, really.

9 Great, Free Applications that Work with Vista

This is a list of my favorite Windows applications that I honestly couldn’t live without that also work on Microsoft Windows Vista RC as well, much to my surprise. All of the software is free to download and use, and in fact most of them are open source.

ConTEXT – ConTEXT is a free and lightweight editor for programming or can be used as a notepad replacement. ConTEXT supports find and replace in multiple files at once so changing one method in loads of files is no longer an issue. Works in Vista with no problems whatsoever.

Synergy – Synergy is like a software KVM, but only shares keyboard and mouse capabilities. Synergy is multiplatform, and I currently use it to have my keyboard and mouse work in Ubuntu, Vista, and my Mac Mini running Leopard with no problem at all! This way I get to use my favorite keyboard and mouse and get to free up some space on my desk at the same time.

VLC – VLC has been my favorite media player for years now. VLC comes with most of the codecs you will need to watch videos on your PC already. VLC is very lightweight, and JUST WORKS, something that can’t be said about many media players. The only issue with VLC in Vista is that it turns Aero Glass off while it is playing.

FileZilla – I use FileZilla to interface with clients that still haven’t moved to SCP. FileZilla is an open source FTP client that gets the job done, supporting drag and drop, SSL, and NAT to NAT connections. The only thing it is missing is FXP support, but that’s not really a big deal in my case. Works fine in Vista with no problems at all.

IMGBurn – I love IMGBurn. This is hands-down the easiest way to burn .IMG, .ISO and BIN/CUE disk images to backup CDs or DVDs. Free, open source, and awesome. Works a treat in Microsoft Vista Beta 2 as well.

WinSnap – I use WinSnap to make many of the screen shots you see on blandname. WinSnap supports full screen and windowed screen shots, and also allows for rotation and drop shadows if you feel the need.

Electric Sheep – I often refer to Electric Sheep as “the best screensaver ever”, but truth be told, it’s really a collection of computer-generated screensavers that allow users to vote on them using a Digg-like system. On Windows, Electric Sheep uses bit torrent to transfer the sheep data. Again, working just fine in Vista!

Xming – Xming is my prefered interface to remote Linux boxes. Xming is for Linux what RDP is for Windows – you get a local X server and acceleration that displays data from remote applications running on Linux machines. Tested more than a few times to a remote Ubuntu computer, and one Gentoo box with no caveats.

WinSCP3 – SCP is now my preferred file transfer method. Luckily my favorite client also works on Vista, or I may not have used it at all. Much like FileZilla, WinSCP3 has a very simple, streamlined interface that is feature-rich and gets the job done, even on Vista.

So there you have it: 9 free applications I couldn’t live without that work just fine on Vista, and make it easy for me to do my day-to-day tasks. Hopefully someday this list will include F-Spot and Amarok, but I’m happy with this as a start considering neither of them work on Windows XP SP2 either!

Parallels 2.2 Workstation Features

Parallels announced today the updated features of the newest iteration of Parallels Workstation.

Big new all around for Windows, Mac and Linux users.

Here’s the breakdown (from the newsletter):

Parallels Desktop for Mac is the first solution for running Windows and OS X at the same time – without rebooting!

The Desktop for Mac Official Update includes a number of powerful new features, such as:

  • Works on ANY Intel-Mac with ANY memory configuration with no system modification. This includes Mac Pro towers with up to 16GB of RAM, and the full line of Core 2 Duo iMacs
  • Support for Windows Vista as a guest OS
  • Support for Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” as a Primary OS
  • Better USB support, including support for isochronous devices and Windows Mobile 5 devices

Parallels Workstation 2.2 for Windows & Linux is a powerful, cost effective virtualization solution which boosts productivity and lowers IT costs by letting users run multiple OSes simultaneously – without rebooting – on any Windows or Linux PC.

The new version includes a variety of new features and improvements:

  • Full support for AMD Secure Virtual Machine Technology, and stronger support for Intel Virtualization Technology
  • Support for Windows Vista as a Guest OS
  • A new shared folder utility lets users share files and folders between OSes
  • Better networking
  • Better USB support, including support for webcams and Windows Mobile 5 devices

Manage Windows XP with Run Commands

Here is my collection of all of the Windows XP commands that you can start from the Start -> Run dialog box in order to manage a Windows XP (SP2) workstation.

  1. Accessibility Controls – access.cpl
  2. Accessibility Wizard – accwiz
  3. Add Hardware Wizard – hdwwiz.cpl
  4. Add/Remove Programs – appwiz.cpl
  5. Administrative Tools – control admintools
  6. Automatic Updates – wuaucpl.cpl
  7. Bluetooth Transfer Wizard – fsquirt
  8. Certificate Manager – certmgr.msc
  9. Character Map – charmap
  10. Check Disk Utility – chkdsk
  11. Clipboard Viewer – clipbrd
  12. Command Prompt – cmd
  13. Component Services – dcomcnfg
  14. Computer Management – compmgmt.msc
  15. Control Panel – control
  16. Date and Time Properties – timedate.cpl
  17. DDE Shares – ddeshare
  18. Device Manager – devmgmt.msc
  19. Direct X Troubleshooter – dxdiag
  20. Disk Cleanup Utility – cleanmgr
  21. Disk Defragment – dfrg.msc
  22. Disk Management – diskmgmt.msc
  23. Disk Partition Manager – diskpart
  24. Display Properties – desk.cpl
  25. Dr. Watson System Troubleshooting Utility – drwtsn32
  26. Driver Verifier Utility – verifier
  27. Event Viewer – eventvwr.msc
  28. Files and Settings Transfer Tool – migwiz
  29. File Signature Verification Tool – sigverif
  30. Findfast – findfast.cpl
  31. Folders Properties – control folders
  32. Fonts – control fonts
  33. Game Controllers – joy.cpl
  34. Group Policy Editor – gpedit.msc
  35. Help and Support – helpctr
  36. HyperTerminal – hypertrm
  37. Iexpress Wizard – iexpress
  38. Indexing Service – ciadv.msc
  39. Internet Connection Wizard – icwconn1
  40. Internet Explorer – iexplore
  41. Internet Properties – inetcpl.cpl
  42. Keyboard Properties – control keyboard
  43. Local Security Settings – secpol.msc
  44. Local Users and Groups – lusrmgr.msc
  45. Logoff Windows – logoff
  46. Malicious Software Removal Tool – mrt
  47. Microsoft Chat – winchat
  48. Microsoft Syncronization Tool – mobsync
  49. Mouse Properties – control mouse
  50. Netmeeting – conf
  51. Network Connections – control netconnections
  52. Network Connections – ncpa.cpl
  53. Network Setup Wizard – netsetup.cpl
  54. Object Packager – packager
  55. ODBC Data Source Administrator – odbccp32.cpl
  56. On Screen Keyboard – osk
  57. Outlook Express – msimn
  58. Password Properties – password.cpl
  59. Performance Monitor – perfmon
  60. Phone and Modem Options – telephon.cpl
  61. Power Configuration – powercfg.cpl
  62. Printers and Faxes – control printers
  63. Regional Settings – intl.cpl
  64. Registry Editor – regedit32
  65. Remote Access Phonebook – rasphone
  66. Remote Desktop – mstsc
  67. Removable Storage – ntmsmgr.msc
  68. Removable Storage Operator Requests – ntmsoprq.msc
  69. Resultant Set of Policy – rsop.msc
  70. Scanners and Cameras – sticpl.cpl
  71. Scheduled Tasks – control schedtasks
  72. Security Center – wscui.cpl
  73. Services – services.msc
  74. Shared Folders – fsmgmt.msc
  75. Shutdown Windows – shutdown
  76. Sounds and Audio – mmsys.cpl
  77. SQL Client Configuration – cliconfg
  78. System Configuration Editor – sysedit
  79. System Configuration Utility – msconfig
  80. System Information – msinfo32
  81. System Properties – sysdm.cpl
  82. Task Manager – taskmgr
  83. TCP Tester – tcptest
  84. Telnet Client – telnet
  85. User Account Management – nusrmgr.cpl
  86. Utility Manager – utilman
  87. Windows Address Book – wab
  88. Windows Address Book Import Utility – wabmig
  89. Windows Explorer – explorer
  90. Windows Firewall – firewall.cpl
  91. Windows Management Infrastructure – wmimgmt.msc
  92. Windows System Security Tool – syskey
  93. Windows Update – wupdmgr
  94. Windows Version – winver

Also to note: any executables found in PATH folders, for example “Program Files” can also be run from the Start -> Run dialog as well. This means to start VMWare Sever, you can type in “vmware” and it will start for you!

CD Eject Tool for Windows XP

We’ve been getting quite a few people coming to blandname recently looking for creative ways to eject CDs from there computers running multiple environments. One of the most popular searches are from people looking to eject or control their CDROM drives using software running on Microsoft Windows XP. Not one to refuse lending a hand, I searched around and came up with a great solution! The product is called “CD Eject Tool“, and not only does it allow you to eject CDs from within Windows, but it has some other nifty features as well. Let’s have a gander at the marketing material so skilfully written.

“CD Eject Tool is a utility that manages your CD Drive doors. It allows you eject and close the CD Drive door by using a hotkey, desktop shortcut, or via an icon in your system tray. It will automatically close the door within a couple of seconds if you have chosen the action Get CD.”

“The program creates a separate icon in your system tray for each CD Drive, so you can control (eject, close,.. etc.) any drive door by clicking on the appropriate icon.”

Eject/Close your CD Drives:

  • via tray icons
  • via desktop icons
  • by using hotkey

Control your CD Drives:

  • lock/unlock CD Drive door
  • suppress/disable autorun
  • run autorun at any time
CD Eject Tool

Unfortunately the software is not freeware, but there is a 30 day trial on their site. I’m still looking for an open source application that does the same thing, but have had no luck so far.

Review: Parallels Compressor Server

I have recently purchased Parallels Compressor Server because I work with virtual machines on a daily basis and also because it is CHEAP. At $179 this is very affordable software, even for someone on a budget – like me. Why purchase the software? What Parallels Compressor Server does is pretty complicated, but it comes down to one thing: if you run a Windows XP SP2 or Server 2003 R2 virtual machine (VM), Parallels Compressor Server speeds it up insanely. It removes unwanted services, temp files, files you’ll never need in a VM, and the same goes for drivers. Parallels also tunes things like network drivers in order to take full advantage of the virtualization.

Installation is a snap. It’s pretty much next, next, next through the Windows client installation. You enter your key, and are allowed to make a CDROM image for later use with the VM. Use you have finished, you boot the VM using the CD image and start the process (which can take some time). Parallels Compressor Server does it’s magic, and you reboot. HUZZAH! Faster VM just like that.

Conclusion – you may run a free virtualization platform – but how fast is it? For $179, Parallels Compressor Server is a steal.

No disclaimers needed – I am in no way affiliated with the software, I’m just that impressed.