Archive for December 3rd, 2008

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I’ve been using DriverMax for a while, and it’s a great tool – I included it in my 5 applications for a painless Windows reformat. One thing I don’t like about it is that it’s not portable and that the screens don’t display properly on computers running at 800×600 or 640×480.

Driver Backup! 2 is a nice alternative. While it doesn’t have DriverMax’s extra features (like driver updating), the just-under-1mb application provides fast, simple driver file backups and restorations.

Two other features I enjoy are that it’s fully portable and supports command line switches for fully automatic operations. Even better, there’s an integrated builder that will help you create your command line easily – as long as you can read a little Italian.

English help files are provided, though, and fully document the available switches. Setting one up manually is easy enough that you don’t really need the builder’s help anyway.

Both backups and restores are quick and painless, and it had no trouble with my Windows Vista x64 install. It’s well worth adding to your USB flash drive.

Driver Backup! 2 is a free, portable DriverMax alternative originally appeared on Download Squad on Wed, 03 Dec 2008 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Get the latest Vista update while its steaming hot

With the impending release of Windows 7 next year, Windows Vista SP2 seems set to launch next summer with its developers rushing to incorporate the many fixes and upgrades they had planned in time.  The release appears to be moving along on schedule, with the first beta set to make its public debut tomorrow.

Previously, Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 was only available to select partners — “Technology Adoption Program” customers.  Today it is free to download to any MSDN or TechNet subscribers, and it goes live for the general public tomorrow through the Customer Preview Program (CPP).

Microsoft describes:

The CPP is intended for technology enthusiasts, developers, and IT Pros who would like to test Service Pack 2 in their environments and with their applications prior to final release. For most customers, our best advice would be to wait until the final release prior to installing this service pack.

For those of you who choose to test this service pack, we encourage you to install the beta as soon as you can; your feedback will help us to ship a solid and stable service pack for Windows Vista.

As with previous service packs, SP2 bundles Windows Updates released since SP1 into a single source.  It also adds support for key new standards.  One update is Windows Search 4.0 which should provide faster searches and improved relevancy in results.  The update will also ensure that Vista and Server 2008 are compatible with the latest Bluetooth tech, via the Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack.  Native recording to Blu-Ray on Vista is also now supported at last.

A new utility called Windows Connect Now (WCN) is also added to help users set up wireless networks more easily.  In order to synchronize files across time zones, Microsoft also adds exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps.

Many other minor features are also featured in the new service pack.  Overall Microsoft hopes that it makes Windows Vista and Server 2008 use a bit easier and more intuitive, while fixing outstanding issues.

Head on over to TechNet tomorrow if you want to download SP2 as part of the Customer Preview Program.

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AIM Blast is a new AOL Instant Messenger feature that makes me feel old, because I just realized that it’s been a decade since I first wondered why there was no way to IM multiple buddies without opening a chatroom. Well, it’s finally here, and it works pretty well. You can’t make a Blast Group from within AIM, but if you go to, you can set up and edit a group from there. Blast seems to work with third-party AIM clients, although AOL says that Meebo may have some problems with it.

The Blast Group will then show up on your buddy list, and any IM you send to it will go to everyone in the group. The group acts like a normal AIM account, it just puts people’s individual screennames in front of their messages, so you know who’s talking. When you invite people (using your group admin page), they’ll get a message in AIM asking them to accept or decline. Once they’re in, they can IM the group, unless you make it admin-only. That makes your group more like a notification system than a chat, but that may work better for some people.

AIM Blast: finally, you can IM multiple buddies at once originally appeared on Download Squad on Wed, 03 Dec 2008 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Today, the online retailer launched its first iPhone/iPod touch application. Previously, Amazon offered a version of its site that was optimized for MobileSafari. Amazon has added some pretty nifty features in the iPhone application that could make shopping online a lot easier.

When you first launch the application, you are presented with your wish list, and the phrase “Get Yourself a Little Something.” From this home tab, you can also see your signed-in username. When you tap the search tab, you are able to type in a search string just as you can on the homepage. Search results are featured in a descending list, ordered by relevance. You can see the categories for the search results by tapping the “By Category” button in the top-right.

Once you’re on a product page, you are able to see the same information that you would see on the page, except compacted a little more. Tap the item name/price link, and you get a full product description. Tap the customer reviews section, and you can see all of the reviews. When you’re ready to purchase, select “Buy Now,” or “Add to Cart” at the bottom of the product page. The picture of the product will then “fall” into the shopping cart tab with a nice animation. You can also see a running count of all the items in your cart. If you decide you don’t want the item, just tap the edit button and remove it. When you are ready to complete your purchase, select the “Checkout” button in the top-right corner of the cart tab.

Probably the coolest feature of Amazon’s application is located in the “Remembers” tab. In this section, you can take a picture with your iPhone’s camera and have it sent to Amazon. In a few minutes, you get a link to the Amazon product page for that item (or the item that resembles it most closely). Note that Mike Schramm’s favorite iPhone app, Snaptell [iTunes link], has offered the ability to do the exact same thing for multiple shopping sites. The Amazon “Remembers” feature seems nice, and your results are saved on the Amazon site for later reference. In my tests, after taking the picture I received a link to the product page within 1-2 minutes. This definitely could come in handy if you’re in a store and want to find out how much an item sells for on Amazon.

Amazon has really created an all-around great shopping experience for the iPhone and iPod touch. You can download this application from the iTunes App Store for free.

TUAWFirst Look: app for iPhone/iPod touch originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Wed, 03 Dec 2008 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Many users have the same problem when it comes to configuring a backup application: they forget to add one important file or folder to the job. Backblaze – a new online backup service – thinks they have a solution to the problem.

Unlike most applications where items to be backed up must be manually added by the user, Backblaze works by automatically excluding the junk it knows you don’t really want to back up anyway. Gleb from the Backblaze team explained it like this:

“The reason we took this approach was that most users would get stuck at the “pick what files and folders to backup” step. They either didn’t know how to navigate the file system (try finding your PST file), or their files were not organized, or they just didn’t have time.”
By default it won’t back up operating system, application, or temp files, and you can add any other exclusions you like via the settings screen.

Now, if you’re like me and confined to 30kbps upload your initial backup is going to take a while – four days in my case. Once it’s done, Backblaze keeps things efficiently in synch by performing differential backups. Your data is encrypted prior to uploading, transmitted securely via HTTPS, and users that demand added security can add their own private key.

Continue reading Backblaze offers truly no-hassle online backups

Backblaze offers truly no-hassle online backups originally appeared on Download Squad on Wed, 03 Dec 2008 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Good news for those who like to read books on their iPhones (as opposed to listening to them read by other people). JKontherun reports that ebook seller Fictionwise is licensing support for the eReader format to Lexcycle for use in Stanza; Fictionwise is also launching an eReader store for Stanza users. This adds more than 40,000 titles to the Stanza family, and allows multiple options for licensed book content on the iPhone family; Fictionwise will continue to offer the eReader app that’s already on the App Store. For users with libraries of eReader-format content bought for previous platforms like the Palm handhelds, those books should work.

The press release quotes Lexcycle COO Neelan Choksi: “Just in time for the holidays, Stanza readers are going to be able to find their favorite authors like Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts. This relationship with Fictionwise is a big step forward in our ongoing effort to expand the selection of works available to our large and growing user base.”

While we love the sleek UI of Classics for books on the iPhone, that app doesn’t let you choose your own premium or free books to populate the shelves — and with thousands more ebooks now available to Stanza users, filling the shelves is going to be easier.

Thanks James.

TUAWStanza adds licensed eReader content for iPhone booklovers originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Wed, 03 Dec 2008 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Hawaii Endorses Plan for Electric Cars

Posted by Michael Barkoviak
In Uncategorized
3Dec 08

Hawaii continues to look for ways to go green

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Virgin America will equip entire fleet with Gogo service by mid-2009

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Honda readies its Prius-fighter

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Macworld notes today that Adobe won’t have a booth at Macworld Expo, but will still be offering training sessions at the conference. Traditionally, Adobe’s booth has been a major presence on the show floor.

The bad news might not end there: A tipster with purported connections inside Adobe told us that the company is considering laying off a significant fraction of its nearly 7,000 employees, including management.

  • Update 4 p.m.: The axe fell a few hours ago at Adobe, according to two three former employees, but we don’t know how widespread the damage is.
  • Update 5 p.m.: Mike Downey, principal evangelist for the Flash, Flex and AIR products is “no longer with Adobe.”
  • Update 5:10 p.m.: Adobe issued a press release: “Adobe also announced the implementation of a restructuring program, and has taken steps to reduce its headcount by approximately 600 full-time positions globally. The restructuring will result in anticipated pre-tax charges totaling approximately $44 million to $50 million. The Company expects approximately $28 million to $30 million of the restructuring charges to be recorded in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2008.” Read the full press release here.

This points to some serious, knee-jerk cost-cutting at Adobe, since Macworld Expo has been so valuable to Adobe’s relationship with the Mac user base in the past.

“Adobe has decided to shift its focus at the Macworld trade show this year,” the company said in a statement given to Macworld magazine. “Macworld [Expo] is a valuable industry show and we will still be an active part of it with members of our product team involved in Macworld tracks, including a full day of CS4 demo sessions with Adobe evangelists on Wednesday, January 7.”

Adobe Creative Suite 4 was released in October.

[Via O’Grady’s PowerPage.]

TUAWAdobe trimming Expo budget, 600 jobs [updated] originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Wed, 03 Dec 2008 11:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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