Are These Security Wonks or Wank(er)s?

Many an Indian mountain road sign reads Better Late Than Never. Which goes for this column as well. So I’m a little late again. But do I have some interesting stuff for you. And its spicier than Zidane’s Red Card winning head butt in Sunday’s World Cup 2006 Final between France and Italy!

First is news from Australia that several IT companies. Worried by the possibility of confidential data exiting the enterprise on a USB stick or CD-ROM. Have removed the CD-RW drives common to today’s desktop computer. And they have also poured super glue into the USB ports to block their use. Maybe that’s what the Indian Navy should have done when they acquired all those shiny new computers for their Operations Room. Instead of waiting for confidential information to be copied to a Pen Drive and sold to a foreign power for profit. Let’s all chant Death to Spies.

On the free software front, there are new releases of Firefox 2.0 Beta RC1. Opera 9.01 Build 8518. CCleaner 1.131. And Total Commander 6.55 Beta.

Recently Blake Ross in an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Todd Bishop acknowledged that Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) Beta “… actually looks pretty good. People don’t expect me to say that, they expect me to say that it’s terrible. They did exactly what we were expecting them to do, which was take a bunch of time and get IE7 up to feature parity with Firefox. I haven’t seen any real innovation above and beyond what we delivered in Firefox. I think that it’s a solid product, but I think that by the time it comes out, we’re going to be another world ahead of them again …”

This convergence is taken a step forward by 2 Firefox extensions that blur user interface differences between Opera nd Firefox on one hand. And Firefox and IE 7 on another. But as you probably don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, let’s back up a bit.

Opera 9 Beta introduced a feature that displayed a thumbnail for each open tab. This pop-up appeared when you moused-over a tab without selecting it. IE7 Beta introduced a QuickView function that opened a new Tab displaying thumbnails of opened Tabs. But on Firefox you can combine both features using separate extensions.

Firefox extension cycles thru Tab thumbnailsThe Ctrl-Tab Preview extension displays thumbnails of each open tab as you shuffle through them using Ctrl+Tab. And is a time saver when you have lots of open tabs. There’s also an enhanced Windows XP PowerToy-type extension LastTab. This open a pop-up window containing a somewhat larger thumbnail preview of each tab. The thumbnails are displayed on the left. With the list of the open tabs on the right. These extensions work with Firefox 1.5.x (and later).

Firefox extension cycles thru Tab thumbnailsIn contrast the Viamatic foXpose extension scales all Tab thumbnails into a single tab. But unlike IE7’s QuickView, in foXpose, clicking a thumbnail will jump to that tab. They will also probably work with the recently released Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 (Release Candidate). Which, as always, is available in a handy portable format. All you have to do is download, unzip to a folder, and its ready to use.

New to Firefox 2.0 Beta RC 1 are several power features. That definitely make up for the absence of the SQLlite-powered Places feature that debuted in Alpha 1 but was dropped in Alphas 2 and still hasn’t made a comeback. Also included is support for session restore and scrolling tabs. As well as improved inline spell checking that’s handy for web mail and forums. The new Undo Close tab restores tab windows (often accidentally) closed a few seconds earlier. And once you downloaded and start using your copy. Learn how to tweak settings like modifying the scroll tabs function. As well as the tab close button behavior.

Don’t get too worried by the weekly Opera 9.01 Beta updates. As each build resolves issues discovered in the previous week’s release. It’s commendable that Opera Software is listening to user feedback. And upgrading their browser. And unless a specific build doesn’t support a feature you need. And unless this is resolved in the next weekly release. Don’t bother downloading the upgrade. The details about specific issues is listed on the Desktop Team blog. The most recent release, Opera 9.01 TP Build 8518, available for Windows, Mac and Unix/Linux, now includes a built-in spell checker that works with any web-based email client including GMail. As well as several other enhancements and bug fixes.

Also new this week is Total Commander 6.55 Public Beta 2. In case you (still don’t know), Total Commander is a two-paned Windows Explorer replacement. With powerful integrated file and text search feature. As well as archive and unzip, file comparison and directory synchronization. And a built-in FTP client with FXP and HTTP proxy support. It’s my default Windows file management and FTP software. And is available in 32- and 16-bit versions. And as a (new) install to USB version.

This Beta is compatible with both Windows XP and Vista themes. And the incremental Beta release resolve bugs and enhance the user interface. If you don’t use it, you are really missing a lot.
Total Commander has the following other editions available: Total Commander.

CCleaner (Crap Cleaner) is a freeware system optimization software. Use it to remove unused and temporary Internet files from your system. The software works not only with Windows. But can also clean up behind Opera, Firefox, Google Earth and SpyBot Search and Destroy. It also includes a Registry checker. The new 1.31.325 release supports IE7, SeaMonkey, Mozilla and Flock browsers. And also includes both bug fixes and interface improvements.

So that’s the end of another column. We’ll see what next week has in store next week. Until then Stay Safe!

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