Get and read email with Opera Mail

opera-mail-iconGet and read email with this full-featured mail client for Windows.

August 2013 seems to be mail client month. I think I’ve looked at three in the past few weeks.  That should tell you how important mail clients still are in the computing world.  Email isn’t going the way of the dodo, and having a good app to get, organize and read mail is important, especially if you aren’t into Outlook.  That’s one of the big reasons why you might be interested in looking long and hard at Opera Mail. It’s an email client for Windows.

Opera Mail is a cool way to check mail.  Its elegant tabs allow you to view multiple messages at once and navigate between them with ease. Messages can be grouped into threads which help you organize your mail.  You can keep up with the context of any mail thread, and quickly view previous messages in the conversation.

OM-03

Opera Mail also supports labels.  They allow you to sort your messages quickly. All of these organizational tools allow you to take control of your inbox and set simple rules to sort mail automatically.

Opera Mail’s also has a built-in RSS feed reader provides automatic notification of updates to your favorite websites. In the absence of Google Reader, having the ability in Opera Mail isn’t bad, and gives you a decent way of finding and organizing RSS data in a way that’s easy to read.

Opera Mail is a decent application. Its easy to use and goes a long way to helping you organize your inbox and mail accounts.  The biggest issue with it, however, is that it doesn’t handle calendar data.  It may handle contacts within the app, but this is not a full PIM app.  Its unfortunate, as it would have been a much better app with that level of support.

download Opera Mail

Related Posts:

Windows 8.1 RTM’s

…and NO ONE will see the final code until GA in October 2013.

 

Microsoft confirmed today that it has released Windows 8.1 to manufacturing. This important milestone indicates that development and testing have completed and the final version is ready to burn to physical discs or ISO images to be distributed to OEM partners as well as MSDN and TechNet subscribers. However, it’s also been confirmed that MS will not make the bits physically accessible to anyone other than hardware partners, like Dell, HP and others, until 2013-10-18.

windows8-1

According to my buddy, Ed Bott, the reason(s) for the delay are pretty simple

 

  • Hardware makers need time to tweak and refine drivers so they work out of the box
  • Microsoft needs to refine its Mail, People and Calendar apps
  • Third party developers – like Facebook – need time to finish their Windows 8.x apps
  • Microsoft will also fix bugs via Windows Update, and lock it down

 

Barring any weird issues that prevent the 2013-10-18 GA release (General Availability) from occurring, the pubic accessibility of Windows 8.1 on that date will be about 1 year after the GA release of Windows 8. This also fulfills Microsoft’s promise for rapid updates of their OS: 1 year instead of 3-4. It looks like the day of the Service Pack is gone. It’s also in line with what Apple has been doing for the past few years with OS X – a major release a year.

 

Microsoft hasn’t said when MSDN and TechNet subscribers will get access to the final version of the new OS. However, based on Microsoft’s apparent desire to keep this under wraps until the GA release in October 2013, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if MSDN and TechNet subscribers didn’t get the software until the end of September, or the beginning of October.

 

I will have more information as it becomes available, as well as a full delta review here on Soft32 (the differences between the Consumer Preview and the GA release) once I get access to the software.

Related Posts:

I Hate to Say I Told You So…

But you probably know I’m gonna.

Many years ago, Midas Muffler used to air commercials where they had a mechanic come on letting you know that, no. You didn’t have to have them work on your breaks, tune your car or install one of their premium mufflers and exhaust systems for you. You could save the money; for now. But if you didn’t use their preventive and premium services, it would likely cost you more money in the future. Their slogan was, “you can pay me now…OR, you can pay me later.”

I LOVE that slogan. I use it often in life and at work.

I test software for a living. Many organizations spend a great deal of money on development but don’t always invest in a robust testing operation, as testing is a cost center, where development is a profit center. QA organizations burn cash but can save your bacon when something ugly is found before it hits production. In many cases, it’s an insurance policy, and I don’t know about you, but insurance is expensive, and you don’t always make use of all of its benefits.

The same can be said of testing and other quality organizations. The good QA manager or director knows how to sell an organization on the team’s value and insures that value is delivered and the services used and used often. This is one of the reasons why I have a huge problem with the news I saw on 2013-08-15 of Microsoft pulling previously released patches it released two days ago in the August Patch Tuesday.

patched_microsoft2

Actually, it really grinds my gears.

In summary, Microsoft has removed a series of updates issued during yesterday’s Patch Tuesday because they could stop Active Directory Federation Services from working.

Microsoft released 3 patches related to KB 2843638, KB 2843639, and KB 2868846. The updates were for Windows Servers 2008 and 2012. They were intended to block vulnerabilities that could reveal information about the service account being used by Active Directory Federation Services.

This is the second batch of updates from this month’s Patch Tuesday to be pulled by Microsoft. An earlier patch reported to have caused damage to content in Exchange Server 2013 was also pulled.

To be blunt, this is inexcusable. Microsoft’s test plans obviously need to broader and more robust. They need to catch critters like this, before they escape into the wild and cause problems for users in the enterprise.

It’s been widely reported that Microsoft’s revenues are down and their latest earnings call revealed a near $1B write off for Surface products that haven’t sold. Issues like the patch bug issues I’m speaking of here are totally preventable and well within Microsoft’s ability to catch prior to release. The testing and release processes at Microsoft are quite complex. There are a number of different testing cycles and reviews in place. Many people had to be asleep for this to have happened…and as I mentioned, it’s not the first time this month or ever, for that matter. It’s happened with other Windows Update/ Patch Tuesday releases.

I use Microsoft software every day at work. I use it to write for Soft32 and other publications. My kids use it in school and Windows powers more than 90% of all corporations worldwide.

This… is simply inexcusable. It looks like there are other changes besides the recent reorganization that need to take place at Microsoft; and if I were responsible for testing organizations there, I’d be asking some very, VERY tough questions right now…

Related Posts:

Download and listen to your kind of music with SoundFrost

Icon-SoundFrostOver the past 15 or so years, the face of the music industry has dramatically changed. MP3 files, digital music players, peer to peer sharing networks and copyright infringement lawsuits filed by the RIAA were unknown words, items and happenings until the iPod hit the streets and remade the music industry. The same thing is happening today with applications like Pandora, Spotify and the new, iTunes Radio.  However, if indie music is more to your  less than mainstream tastes then you need to take a long hard look at SoundFrost. It’s a music searching and playback tool for Windows.

SoundFrost helps provide users with free access to music. SoundFrost searches, provides for online playback as well as download of music on PC.  The app supports nine different audio formats – MP3, WAV, FLAC, OGG, WMA, AAC, AIFF, AU, and AC3. Support for these many different formats enables you to play SoundFrost discovered music on all types of media devices: pc, laptop, tablet pc, smartphone, mobile phone, as well as your portable media player.

SF-02

SoundFrost gives users to over 10 million songs from a number of different genres and styles.  On top of that SoundFrost offers high-speed download of music files with no quality loss. The app gives users the ability to create a playlist, drag and drop songs, provides for random playback, repeat of playlist or songs and provides for a great experience. The app will also convert YouTube videos to 18 different media formats.

SoundFrost tries a great deal to look like iTunes but doesn’t come close to iTunes at all. The app is an OK music search and playback tool, but not great.  The worst part of SoundFrost is its install routine, which wants to install 3-4 different pieces of junk-ware or add-ons that most users won’t want.  You’ll have to pay close attention to what the install routine wants to do in order to insure that none of it gets installed if all you want is SoundFrost and nothing more.

download SoundFrost

Related Posts:

ZenKEY – Take control of your PC

zenkeyI remember back in the DOS days when taking your hands off the keyboard to play with a joy stick or use a mouse often killed your productivity roll. While computer user interfaces have come a long way since the character based screens of a DOS and Windows 1.x-2.x world, there are still many who prefer keeping their hands on their keyboards than on their mice. Its for these folks that ZenKEY was created. It’s a keyboard action app for Windows.

ZenKEY is an app that allows you to control your computer with keystroke combinations. Using its  Configuration Utility, the ZenKEY Wizard, helps you create menus, each containing items that  perform different actions. Actions can be executed via mouse click or keystroke combinations.

For example, ZenKEY allows you to compute on multiple, virtual desktops.  You can move across desktops, moving program windows on any number of virtual spaces.  You can also open a program or a file with the file’s associated program.  Launching an app that is already running vies you the ability to give it focus or whether ZenKEY should launch another instance of that app.  You can even send apps to the system tray.  Specific custom commands can even be executed when the app launches.

ZK-05
ZenKEY can be used with your multimedia player.  You can control Windows Media commands or you can control Winamp.  The choice is yours.  If you need to execute system commands, ZenKEY can do that too.  For example, you can start your screen saver, open a DVD drive door, or switch between tasks.  The possibilities are limited only by your apps and your imagination.

ZenKEY is going to appeal to individuals who make heavy use of context menus or who are used to working with keyboard commands to execute tasks. Since the indoctrination of Windows XP and the huge success of Windows 7, using GUI elements to work with and control your PC have long been adopted by the general public.  ZenKEY feels like a port or hold over from either DOS or UNIX days  and while it may provide a GREAT deal of value to individuals who need or want to execute one off commands here and there, its value is going to be limited due to its lack of graphical elements.

download ZenKEY

Related Posts:

Blackberry Shops the Company – Too Little Too Late?

Trading was briefly halted this morning, so an emergency strategy meeting could take place.

BB Stock-01BB Stock-02

I’ve been talking about the demise of RIM – now called Blackberry Corporation – for quite some time now.  In fact, if you recall, I called this over a year ago.  Blackberry was in trouble then; and quite honestly, nothing that they’ve done has had the force or power to turn the ship around. They’ve got an arduous decision in front of them.

Steve Ranger from ZDNet had an interesting column with 5 different suggestions for the company. I’m obviously not going to regurgitate what he said, but I do have my own take on most of these. I’ll make it brief; but I’m putting on my thunderwear for this. The time for candy coating everything is long gone.
According to Steve, Blackberry can:

  • Form partnerships
  • Go Private
  • Shop and Eventually Sell the Company
  • Break Up
  • Do Nothing

Form Partnerships
Whether on a client-by-client basis or with a larger player, RIM could seek out potential hardware partners like Samsung, HTC (a personal favorite of mine in this scenario), Microsoft or Apple. There are pros and cons to all of them

If I were Samsung, Apple or Microsoft, I’d pass on the partnership deal. Blackberry has too much going against it right now to attract any of these larger players as a partner, though Apple might want to partner with them to handle sync solutions for PIM data that might be integratable into a point release of OS X Mavericks and iOS 7 or later. If I were Samsung or MS, I’d look to acquire the company outright, which MS has tried to do on more than one occasion. Blackberry was never too keen on.  Big mistake on their part at this point, I think…

HTC could be the best choice of a partner, as they need something to help pull them out of the deep end of the pool.  They are also the potential partner that is likely to take the most risks and be the most flexible. Neither Samsung, Apple nor Microsoft NEEDS anything right now.  They’d probably take a majority share and just tell Blackberry to shut up and sit there… I would if I were any of those three.

Go Private
Without a major revamp in strategy, the company doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of surviving. They’re profitable, but only for as long as they can convince customers to keep buying their services. Eventually, they’re going to run out of steam. It’s just a matter of time.

Going private isn’t an option without a huge strategic shift. Blackberry hasn’t shown the potential to do this in the past 5 years. If they can do it now, I’d call for the removal of Thorsten Heinz. A strategic shift of that magnitude should have been done in the 2008/2009 time frame. No excuses…

Shop and Sell the Company
If I were MS, I’d adjust their last offer for stock price and try one last time. They have the cash, and Blackberry really can’t turn down any serious offer at this point.  I would also bid for the whole damn thing, too. Thorsten Heinz has turned his nose up at Ballmer twice since 2008, but a melding between Microsoft and Blackberry could do a lot for Windows Phone and could give it a huge boost.

As I mentioned, Samsung and Apple could and probably should also bid for the assets, including the IP that may still provide income. Blackberry’s future may not be bright, but there something there that may be of value to a larger mobile player.

Break Up
As I just said, their IP and other assets have some value. This is a real option for them. Their stock price as of 1130am Central Time as 10.25, up nearly a 1/2; but it had 6.6x that value in February 2011, just over 2 years ago.

Breaking up should be considered a last resort, if they can’t get any real cash in either the partnership or sell categories. The assets are likely to get spread around to too many companies, and then the value is greatly reduced

Do Nothing
This is clearly not an option. Heinz was brought in to turn around the company after its co-CEO’s did nothing and nearly ruined the company.

You don’t’ just halt trading on a publicly traded company. Something serious is up; and while there haven’t been any major announcements made on the results that I can see, its clear Blackberry’s time is almost up. Back in 2008, it thought Microsoft’s bid of $50 per share undervalued the company. They’ll be lucky to get 12 or 15 at this point, let alone 20-25 (which would be half the original bid).

I think the time has come. Heinz gave it a good go; but he hasn’t done anything to successfully turn the company around; and unfortunately, BB10, Blackberry’s new mobile operating system hasn’t seen any notable success.

The writing’s on the wall, we’ll miss Blackberry…maybe.

Related Posts:

Filedrop – Transfer files to and from nodes on your home network

Transfer files to and from nodes on your home network with this cool Windows system utility.

filedrop1Moving files between storage nodes on your home network isn’t always easy. Some may be Macs. Some may be Windows machines. Some may be varying differences of the same OS. Sometimes these differences create problems making it difficult for you to use standard file copying difficult or impractical. Some or most of these issues can now be bypassed with Filedrop. It’s a multiplatform file transfer tool that also runs on Windows.

Filedrop is an app for sending files between devices on a local network. Its really easy to use. All you have to do is launch Filedrop on any two devices on your network. After that you can drag and drop files between them.

Filedrop is designed to allow file transfers between any kind of device, to and from any platform, and as easy as handing someone next to you, a pen, pencil, or any kind of object. If you need to send a file from your Mac to a Windows laptop, you can do it without any extra settings or insuring that you’re using the correct drive format or transfer protocols. Simply launch Filedrop on both computers and drag and drop files between them.

FD-04There are many times when you’re stuck for a way to get a file from one PC to another. If you have a USB stick, you can often sneaker-net, or copy the file to an intermediary device, walk the copy to another computer and then copy it from the intermediary device to the target computer. If you don’t have a USB stick, sometimes, you can’t even do that. With Filedrop, you can use your phone as a Wi-Fi sub-stick. You can copy files to your phone and it will appears in the Downloads section. When you get to the other computer, all you need to do is filedrop it from your phone to the target PC. Its really kind of cool.

You can also use Filedrop to stream files from your phone opt your PC. If you have photos and want to view them on your monitor or laptop screen, all you have to do is select the photos you want to show. Then tap on the Stream button and your photos will appear on a the target screen. You can do the same thing with other multimedia content like music and video.

Filedrop is a pretty cool little app. Its free, and allows you to move data between one networked object to another. It works with Mac, Windows and iOS devices, and support is planned for both Android and Windows Phone, though both of those are still in the works.

Streaming features are new, and while streaming music works, streaming video, while technically possible, didn’t work for me. You’ll also need to watch your battery life while streaming content, as it could be eaten up quickly. This is a decent app. You should really give it a shot and keep an eye out for both Android and Windows Phone clients, as they are certain to make file transfer woes disappear.

A word of caution, however – Filedrop is an Adobe Air application. It had a great deal of trouble running via Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac. I’m not certain if that was a Coherence issue or something else. The app’s display flashed a great deal, and lost connectivity when my iPhone slept.

download Filedrop

Related Posts:

Why Hasn’t Google Mopped the Floor with Apple?

The mobile space is very competitive; but how why hasn’t Google killed it? Let’s explore that a bit…

aaaIntroduction

Every now and again, even the best of us get hit with a moment of clarity. You know, that moment right after you lay your head down to sleep, you find it…you see it, and it hits you.

BAM!

THE reason, despite ALL others why Google, in spite of their huge vendor penetration and installation base, hasn’t totally mopped the floor with Apple and sent the iPhone packing…and it call comes down to one word –

Ecosystem. Or is it Fragmentation…? In many ways the two are so irreparably intertwined, it’s depressing. However, anyway you slice it, its totally Google’s fault.

Fragmentation

A couple years ago, I wrote an article titled, Opinion – How Google can Trump the iPad. Back in 2010, no one had ever said, heard or understood what an ecosystem was. I was kinda close, but didn’t quite close the loop.

I got about 98% of the way there. Yes, the ecosystem is all about your content on your device; but its more about capturing the consumer and keeping them and their business regardless of what device they’re using. They keep coming back to YOU as the source of truth.

They use your productivity services. They use your applications. More importantly, they purchase those services and applications from sources YOU control, continually providing you with a revenue stream.

Is this starting to sound familiar? Good. Hold that thought… I want to clear something up first.

This is NOT an article about how totally eff-ing awesome Apple is. This is really an article that asks, “how the hell could Google miss the damn boat?!”

Google is partners with Samsung, LG, HTC, and bought Motorola so they could create and sell Android devices of their own. There are more worn out Android devices in land fills now-a-days than there are iPhones in active use, yet iOS and Android are virtually even in market share.

Android Takeover

Can ANYONE tell me why that is?

If you go the fragmentation route, you find that there are so many different versions of Google’s mobile OS out there that it kinda gives you a headache. As of 2013-08-01, you can see the spread of Android versions currently in use. I’m not certain what’s most frightening, the fact that Honeycomb was a total loser, or that Android 2.1 Eclaire still commands a 1.4% share of all devices currently on the market today.

Including Key Lime Pie, there are 35 active versions of Android. That’s all of them, folks. To some extent, you can find every version of Android ever released by Google active somewhere; and Android devices are like grains of sand – numerous to uncountable, even from a single vendor.

To be honest, that figure includes every major, minor and point release of the mobile OS to be made available to end users, and not every version made it to every device.

To contrast this, iOS has seen about 1/2 as many releases in only 6 devices. In the Apple camp, OS releases are highly controlled. Many changes are rolled up to an annual major, release cycle. Minor releases are only introduced as needed. Point releases are used to address crucial, showstopper bugs. The OS simply doesn’t have the level of releases (in software, we call this “churn”) that its competitor’s does. iOS appears to be much more stable and organized as a result.

So, I think its safe to say that there are a bajillion Android devices from numerous vendors running a bajillion versions of Android. The perception here is not just fragmentation, but complete and utter chaos when it comes to devices and OS releases.

Next Page

Related Posts:

Stay in touch with Soft32

Soft32.com is a software free download website that provides:

121.218 programs and games that were downloaded 237.780.356 times by 402.775 members in our Soft32.com Community!

Get the latest software updates directly to your inbox

Find us on Facebook