Update for TweetDeck desktop, good but still not perfect yet

TweetDeck have updated their desktop version to version 0.31. There are a fair few improvements. The main one is updated alerts interface which looks much nicer (shiny glass-like semi transparent look) and is more customisable,  including the ability to only show alerts for certain columns.  You can also cycle through the new tweets in the alert box, similar the way Digsby’s alert box works.  You can also pick which quarter of the screen the notification box shows on and whether to see the full alert box or just the new items summary (see below).

 Full alert box

Summary alert box

It would be nice if you could muck with the opacity on the alerts, but no biggie.

Steven Hodson over on The Inquisitr has done a good rundown of TweeDeck’s features and what he does & doesn’t like.  He still isn’t going to use it for a few reasons, especially because of its lack of spam & keyword filtering and the inability to change the font sizes and a few other UI irritations.  I agree with his points, but these aren’t deal breakers for me.  For the way I use twitter, it’s still the best client.

However there is still one issue that really frustrates me, and I don’t know if it’s just a limitation of Adobe Air (the software TweetDeck runs on) or whether it’s just an oversight but it is really annoying that it doesn’t cache the user profile images.  Every time I scroll up & down the page it has to reload everyone’s profile picks from Twitter as they scroll into view.

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World of Goo available at any price

2DBoy, the makers of World of Goo, have announced that for the game’s 1 year birthday they are making it available at any price.

World of Goo

This is a great idea.  This game is brilliant, it’s entertaining, funny and at times really hard. For an independent software company who have refused to poison their software with useless DRM, this is a masterpiece. You want to get this game, and at any price, it’s a bargain!

If you haven’t seen this game before, you can download a demo. For a description of the game, I defer to Games Radar

The premise, like any good puzzle game, is simple – you need to guide a certain number of blobs across increasingly treacherous terrain. The catch (something else every good puzzler needs) is that the blobs have to stay connected like a giant matrix, so you have to literally build them across the stage. Grab one blob with the remote, move him outside the lattice yet still close enough to latch on the rest of his buddies and so on. Eventually you’ll find a pipe that sucks up the goo and moves it to the next stage. Later you learn that the pipe connects to the World of Goo Corporation, a benign-yet-ominous overseer that uses the goo for drinks, cosmetics and, ahem, personal lubricants. Basically, a mix of Mom’s Friendly Robot Company and Slurm of Futurama fame.

If it were just a matter of linking blobs together, there wouldn’t be much of a challenge, would there? That’s where the physics porn comes in – your various goo creations will behave as a real-world object, bending, falling and teetering depending on their height and length. One early level had us balancing a goo-bridge out a frog’s gaping mouth, with spikes lining the ceiling and floor. If we made the bridge too long, it started to droop and touch the spikes, killing all our precious goo. That’s where pink blobs (balloons, more or less) come into play, and with proper placement, we used them to levitate key areas of the bridge until the end-of-level pipe appeared.

Also, while you can’t read their blog at the moment due to the huge amount of traffic they’re getting, they announced there that an iPhone version is coming too. Awesome!

We have it running well on the iPhone 3GS, and with a little luck we hope to get it running smoothly on the 3G as well. Hopefully more news on this soon.

World of Goo iPhone 

Kyle Gabler the co-founder of 2D Boy a while ago posted the soundtrack for World of Goo on his site. You can download the whole thing for free.

The 'unnecessary' Scout is released by Office Labs

Despite Microsoft Senior VP Chris Capossela saying that a search interface for the new Office ribbon device was unnecessary, Microsoft Office Labs yesterday released the internal project called ‘Scout’, now given the far less interesting title ‘Search Commands’.  What is it with Microsoft having cool development names and then giving the products really boring release titles?

Anyway, the plugin adds another tab to Word, Powerpoint & Excel.  It’s added as the last tab, but helpfully, you can just click ‘Windows Key + Y’ and it will jump to the search box from the application. 

image

All it really is is a search box, a bunch of suggestions plus a gigantic help button. It is very useful though.  Just start typing in the box and it will come up with a list of commands related to what you’ve typed in.  It starts with partial matches and narrows down as you type.  What is particularly handy is that it isn’t just doing a text match on the name of the commands, it’s doing a contextual match too.  The example given in the help tutorial is that if you enter ‘background’ it comes up with a bunch of commands related to document backgrounds (in Word).  This includes things like Watermarks, changing themes and shading.  I’m not sure how this is done, there must be some sort of categorisation for the application’s commands behind the scenes.

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Windows XP Service pack 3 RTM, public release due April 29

Microsoft has announced that Windows XP Service Pack 3 has have been RTM.  This means that OEM providers and Enterprise customers will be getting it in the next couple of days, while it is due to be released via Windows Update & the Microsoft Download Centre on April 29th.  A PDF with an overview of the contents of the Service Pack is available.

This is a much smaller update than the previous 2 SP releases, especially SP2 which added a lot of functionality, especially security.  According to the PDF

With few exceptions, Microsoft is not adding Windows Vista features to Windows XP through SP3. As noted earlier, one exception is the
addition of NAP to Windows XP to help organizations running Windows XP to take advantage of new features in Windows Server 2008.

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Australian English FeedDemon language file

While I’m on the topic of FeedDemon, Nick Bradbury posted a couple of days ago about how to localise the language of FeedDemon.  It’s fully customisable using the language xml files in the [FeedDemon Install Folder]/Data/lang/ folder.  So in view of that I put together a modification of the default American English language file that changes the spelling of words like ‘colour’ and ‘synchronised’ from the American to the Australian (or British) spelling.

If you want to use it grab it from here.  If you’re viewing that page in FeedDemon it will install it automatically.  If not, just copy the file to the folder above & restart FeedDemon.

It's new release week

New software releases in the last week or so:

  1. TopStyle 3.5 – Awesome, made more so by the fact it’s a free upgrade from v3.0!
  2. FeedDemon 2.6 Beta.  Nick out-does himself by releasing 2 new programs in one week
  3. Freshbooks is releasing v4.1.  Can I just re-iterate to any of my fellow freelancers, that this is an invaluable site, sign up!
  4. AdSense is releasing a new ad format that will allow you to change the look of the ads on your site without changing any code.  Currently in closed beta
  5. Gmail gets IMAP support. Also currently in closed beta.

    and last but not least

  6. Firefox released a new security upgrade!

It always seems like these things come in batches.

FeedDemon 2.5 Beta 3 available for download

 

FeedDemon 2.5 Beta 3 is now available.  The big addition in this release is a completely rewritten “Popular Topics” feature, which includes the most popular topics in everyone’s subscriptions.

NewsGator Support Blog – FeedDemon 2.5 Beta 3

Best new features:

  • Synchronised news bins with publicly available RSS feed (hello lazy link blog! Here’s mine. I’ve now added this as a permenant link up the top of this site.)
  • Offline pre-fetch, great for people with laptops without remote wireless access on the train
  • Dinosaur report (dead feeds report)
  • Popular topics for everyone.  Sort of like a feed subscriptions version of TechMeme or TailRank.  Along with this, the ‘Links to this article’ button on each news item, showing who’s linking to that item in your local feeds and in all NewsGator subscriptions.

Download here, report bugs/issues/questions in the beta forum.

Users on crack

So amazingly funny

Our support team just received an email from a FeedDemon user which contained a screenshot of an error he was encountering.  Clearly visible in the screenshot is a RAR file which contains a crack for FeedDemon.

Yep.  Not only did he contact us despite using a pirated version, but he also included a screenshot which proves he’s using a crack!

Unbelievable.

Seriously, why do people still insist that they have a God-given right to have whatever they want for free? And then to expect Nick & his support team to spend their time supporting them?!

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Paint.NET 3.0 released

The final version of the 3.0 release is now available for download. It’s only been just over a week since the release candidate was made available, so it looks like everything was ok. If you’ve got an earlier version installed, open up Paint.NET and go to Help -> Check for updates and follow the prompts, otherwise grab the installer from the download page. Note this version requires at least Windows XP SP2, Windows 2003 or Vista & the .NET Framework 2.0 to be installed.

Just a reminder of the new features in 3.0:

  • Simple and intuitive tab-based multi-document user interface
  • Now available in 8 languages: English, Chinese (Simplified), French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), and Spanish
  • Interactive Gradient Tool that makes it very easy to draw and then fine-tune placement and coloring of a gradient. (this is very cool, you can move the markers anywhere after placement to change the angle and distance of the gradient)
  • User-definable color palette (as opposed to just the color wheel)
  • New effects: Clouds, Median, Unfocus, Outline, and an improved Sharpen
  • More intuitive and more powerful toolbar
  • Generally improved and cleaner user interface
  • History files are now compressed to save disk space, reduce disk activity, and improve performance.
  • “Merge Down” layer command

Congratulations to Rick & his team, it’s a great product, worthy of support.

Get Paint.NET!

Send to Reddit or Netscape from FeedDemon

FeedDemon RC 2 has been released, with the added functionality to edit the ‘Send To’ menu option. This is great, it seems every time FD gets updated, Nick adds yet another feature I’ve been hanging out for. This means you can send news items to any url you like (eg del.icio.us, Digg, reddit, etc). Del.icio.us has been on that menu for a while now, and this release adds Digg by default.

You can add further items to the Send To menu by adding XML files to the {FD Install Folder}\Data\SendTo\ folder. Each file needs to look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<fdsendto service="name" template="url" />

The name is just plain text, the label that will appear in the Send To menu. url is parameterised url, similar to the command lines for the ‘Blog This’ options. There are a number of keywords to use that will be replaced with the information from the selected news item. The two you’d normally need are {title} & {url}, which sends the url-encoded title and url of the news item. So, for example, this is the url for the Digg Send To file: http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&amp;url={url}&amp;title={title}.

I’ve done up one for reddit. To use this copy the text below into a file called reddit.xml & save it into {FD Install Folder}\Data\SendTo\.

One other thing, for sites that require a username in the url, like del.icio.us, there is a {user} keyword, that when used, will prompt you for a username before continuing on to the send to url. Once you’ve entered the username, FeedDemon remembers it so you don’t have to enter it every time. Bonus!

I’m not sure how the favicon next to the option is generated, I tried dropping a reddit.gif file into \Data\images\ but that didn’t work. If anyone knows, please leave a comment. Update from Nick Bradbury

Update: here’s the file if you use Netscape.com:

[tags]FeedDemon,Reddit,Digg,Blogging,RSS,Netscape[/tags]