J
    Jason Clarke

    Jason Clarke

  • A Dozen Daily Deals, Day 3

    Well, Black Friday is here! If you're looking to save some money, here are another dozen deals from DealNews.com to consider once you wake up from your tryptophan-induced coma: Walmart: [Black Friday] Walmart Black Friday Sale now live Other World Computing: [Store Events] OWC Black Friday Sale: Accessories, HDDs, speakers, RAM, LCDs, more Apple Store: [Black Friday] The Apple Store Black Friday Sale: Up to $101 off select items Dell Home: [Black Friday] Dell Home Black Friday Sale now live iTunes Music Store: [iPhone / iPod Apps] App Store Freebies: UpNext 3D Cities, Sip-N-Store, PhotoScatter, Super Shock Football, more Staples: [Black Friday] Staples Black Friday Early Bird Specials available online OnSale: [Black Friday] OnSale.com Black Friday Sale live now TigerDirect: [Black Friday] TigerDirect.com Pink Friday Sale now live eForCity: [Black Friday] eForCity.com Black Friday Sale: Deals from $3 + free shipping MacUpdate Promo: [Mac Games] MacUpdate 2009 Black Friday Game Bundle: 11 Mac games for $30 AT&T Wireless: [iPhone] Refurbished Apple iPhone 3GS 16GB for $49 + free shipping, 32GB for $149 eForCity: [Black Friday] eForCity.com Black Friday Web Buster: 30% off sitewide

  • A Dozen Daily Deals, Day 2

    As Victor mentioned yesterday, for the next few days we'll be featuring daily deals from our friends at DealNews.com. Lots of good stuff today, so why not get started browsing for Christmas gifts on stuffing day? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Walmart: [Black Friday] Walmart Thanksgiving Day Sale live now Best Buy: [Black Friday] Best Buy Thanksgiving Weekend Sale: Netbooks from $180, more MacMall: [Black Friday] MacMall 72 Hour Apple Black Friday Sale: Up to 25% off Apple systems after rebate RadioShack: [Black Friday] Radio Shack Shack Friday Sale live now Sam's Club: [Black Friday] Sam's Club Black Friday Sale live now JR: [Black Friday] JR.com posts Black Friday Sale 6ave: [Black Friday] 6th Avenue Electronics Thanksgiving Day Sale live now DicksSportingGoods: [Black Friday] Dick's Sporting Goods Black Friday Doorbuster deals now live iTunes Music Store: [iPhone / iPod Apps] Gameloft iPhone / iPod touch Apps: Real Tennis 2009, Blades of Fury, more for 99 cents each Lowe's: [Black Friday] Lowe's Super Friday Sneak Peek Sale live now GoGamer: [Black Friday] GoGamer Black Friday Madness: Deals from 1 cent + $3 s&h iTunes Music Store: [iPhone / iPod Apps] CoPilot Live North America for iPhone downloads for $20

  • TapLynx media-based iPhone app builder from NewsGator released

    The iPhone app platform TapLynx from NetNewsWire was released yesterday, after months of anticipation. TapLynx provides you with a way to build media-rich iPhone applications without having to write any code. It's basically NetNewsWire's way of leveraging their RSS expertise along with their iPhone development skills, in the form of Brent Simmons. Although TapLynx users don't need Cocoa knowledge, if you're a Cocoa developer you can use TapLynx to quickly add media management features to your app. In fact, NewsGator distributes TapLynx as a Software Development Kit, making its development roots fairly obvious. Beyond the ability to customize the user interface and choose the feeds you want your app to display, TapLynx offers the unique feature of being able to do remote updates to the app. This means that you can change a number of things in the app including the look-and-feel without requiring an update to be submitted to the frustratingly slow App Store. Brent Simmons, the developer behind TapLynx, is the guy behind the perennial Mac favorite RSS reader, NetNewsWire. What many people don't know is that before he did NetNewsWire he worked at UserLand, creating tools for developers. So in some ways this is Brent returning to his roots. [Update] As commenters have pointed out, the pricing for TapLynx is a little over the top: $3,499US for an Enterprise license, which is the only type of license they offer. That makes the news of TapLynx's release a little less interesting, in my opinion.

  • iPhone's Google Maps app now shows ads

    Have you noticed the new "Sponsored Link" search results showing up when you search in Google Maps on your iPhone? These new search results are ads. They're easy to pick out, because they use a customized icon instead of the typical push pin icon. While it's not surprising that Google is going to want to find every way possible to monetize its mapping service, it's still a little disconcerting to see these results popping up. Given this obvious new revenue stream, it makes us wonder whether Apple wants to get in on the lucrative mapping action. Their recent purchase of the mapping service company Placebase certainly suggests the possibility. Do you mind seeing ads intermingled with your map search results on a mobile device? Why or why not?

  • Get your notifications: experimental Mac app from Facebook

    Mac-using Facebook fans are going to be happy to learn about Facebook's experimental Desktop Notifications app. Desktop Notifications sits in the menu bar, and pops up notifications (using Growl if you have it) when they occur. It also gives you quick access to your news feed, profile page, and quick ways to update your status or start a new Facebook email message. There are two things about Desktop Notifications that are compelling, yet have nothing to do with the app itself. The first is the fact that it's a native Mac application, rather than yet another Facebook client written on Adobe Air. The second is that it was actually developed by Facebook themselves [Update] Thanks to Raul and Nate for pointing out in the comments that the application is marked as "not developed by Facebook", though one of the developers listed works for Facebook. It's unclear at this point how serious this project is; it's clearly marked as experimental, which is clearly becoming the post-Gmail way of denoting that something is beta. In terms of raw functionality, Desktop Notifications is pretty barebones, since most of what it does is take you to a particular Facebook page. Personally I kind of like it that way. It's relatively light in terms of memory usage, and uses virtually no CPU cycles at all unless you are actively interacting with it, which is exactly what I want from a utility that is running all the time. My one beef is that the built-in hotkey that pops up a status update dialog box conflicts with another utility on my system, and there is no way to modify it. Since Desktop Notifications is still in the experimental stage, that's a pretty small complaint. [Update] Commenter Scott points out that there is a preference setting to change the hotkey. [via TechCrunch]

  • OmniFocus for iPhone finally has reminders, but implementation is awful

    [Update] Ken Case comments below, addressing some of the concerns listed here. It looks like a future version of OmniFocus on the Mac will be able to directly update the OmniFocus reminders on the server, removing at least one of my complaints. Ken Case from The Omni Group has been twittering for awhile about the impending inclusion of alarm reminders for OmniFocus. The task management app's iPhone users have been pestering The Omni Group to implement reminders as push notifications, but OmniFocus refuses to do so. They say that reminders that rely on connectivity are not good enough, and they have instead chosen to implement reminders by exporting due dates and times into iCal. Once the time comes for a reminder, it pops up like a normal iCal appointment reminder. Well, OmniFocus 1.5.2 for iPhone was released, and now we get to see how this alternative reminder system works. If I had to choose a word to describe this implementation, that word would be "awful." Here's why: The Omni Group has taken great pains to point out that you do not need to be using the desktop version of OmniFocus to get use out of the iPhone version. But for users that only have the iPhone version and are not synchronizing it to either MobileMe (which has a yearly fee) or a WebDAV server (complicated for non-techies), they can't use this implementation of reminders. That's right; the way it works is that OmniFocus on the iPhone exports your reminders to your synchronization server, then points iCal on the iPhone to the server to import your reminders. That means that if you enter new due dates in OmniFocus for iPhone but don't happen to have connectivity, you won't get reminders. Wait, I thought it was implemented this way in the first place to guard against a lack of connectivity? Your OmniFocus reminders unnecessarily pollute your iPhone calendar with reminders. This is a visual problem when you need to glance at your calendars and see what actual appointments are coming up. On the iPhone you can either look at one specific calendar, or all calendars, so if like me you need to regularly stay on top of more than one calendar, you're forced to look at your OmniFocus reminders as well. Oh, and even when you complete them in OmniFocus and resync, they don't go away in your calendar. [Update] Stephen points out in the comments that this works as expected, and upon further testing I have to agree. Maybe I was being a bit too impatient. Since your OmniFocus reminders are actually just fake appointments, there is no way to audibly differentiate them from appointment reminders. They sound and look exactly the same. Remember the Milk, for example, uses push notifications on its iPhone app, and you can set the notification sound to a number of different options. That way you know that you're being reminded of a task rather than an appointment. Reminders are set based on Due time, rather than Available time, and in terms of flexibility you can set the reminder to be 5 to 60 minutes before the task is due. By the time a task is actually due, isn't it too late to be reminded about it? Finally, if you're a user of OmniFocus for the Mac, your reminders are not created on your iPhone until you think to launch OmniFocus on the iPhone and synchronize it. That means that if you work all day in OmniFocus on your Mac (like I do), then drive home and start doing other stuff and don't happen to open OmniFocus on your iPhone, you won't receive any reminders for tasks that you might have set for that night, or until you actually open and sync OmniFocus on your iPhone. So, what would I rather see? Push notifications, like the many other OmniFocus for iPhone users out there that have been providing their feedback to The Omni Group. As mentioned, Remember the Milk has implemented push notifications, and the ability to change the notification sound isn't the only trick it has up its sleeve. The Remember the Milk icon on my iPhone's screen shows how many due tasks I have that day, and the number changes almost instantly when I make changes on the web version. To see how many currently available and due tasks I have in OmniFocus, I again have to launch the app and wait for it to synchronize. While I love OmniFocus and I think The Omni Group does amazing work, this implementation of reminders for the iPhone version of OmniFocus is just full of an amazing amount of fail. It's a hacky workaround that still doesn't ensure that a lack of connectivity won't adversely affect the user's ability to receive reminder notifications. Omni folks, this is just meant to be tough love -- I wouldn't be saying all of this if I didn't truly care about OmniFocus.

  • Dateline - add a linear calendar to your Mac's desktop

    I love simple utilities, and Dateline certainly fits that bill. This small application puts a linear calendar on your screen that shows a dot on the current date, and will jump to a given date in iCal if you double-click it. That's pretty much the full extent of what Dateline does, but in this case simplicity equals elegance. Considering its functionality, Dateline contains a reasonably complete set of preferences that control how it is displayed. You can choose the colors and opacity for each visual element, the size of the overall date line, the window level (as Gruber points out, setting this to Desktop icons seems to be the most reasonable setting), whether or not to show the month's name, and the option to hide the app's icon in the dock. After trying it for only a couple minutes, Dateline immediately went into my list of applications that automatically open at login.

  • TapLynx - Create iPhone focused newsreader applications without programming

    Users of NewsGator's NetNewsWire iPhone news reader have been waiting with bated breath for the next iteration of the application, with the promise of the ability to mark news items unread and send articles to InstaPaper Instapaper, amongst other enhancements. As time has gone on, it became clear that Brent Simmons was working on other projects that are related to (but most decidedly not) the next iteration of NetNewsWire for the iPhone. So what has been keeping him busy? As it turns out, NewsGator is rolling out an entire iPhone framework called TapLynx, which will allow its users to create content-rich topic-focused newsreader applications. The first such application, the All Things Digital iPhone app, was created by Simmons himself. The goal of TapLynx is to offer users a framework that allows them to simply choose some images, set URLs for content feeds, and generate a media application for the iPhone without requiring any programming. TapLynx is currently not even yet in beta, but you can sign up to get an alpha invitation on the TapLynx site. By the way, for the NetNewsWire iPhone fans out there, it turns out that the next iteration of the app will be based on TapLynx, so even though it doesn't seem like there has been much recent movement, things are still progressing. We may even see the ability for NetNewsWire (both the Mac and iPhone versions) to synchronize with Google Reader accounts.

  • Rogers allows iPhone tethering in Canada for no extra charge until 2010

    While US iPhone users are stuck waiting for AT&T to get their act together, Rogers in Canada has stunned iPhone users by not actively trying to screw users right out of the gate as they did when announcing the data plan pricing for the iPhone last year. After a high-profile backlash, Rogers was forced to offer more reasonable data plans for iPhones, and it appears they've learned their lesson this time. As we all know by now, tethering is built in to the iPhone 3.0 firmware, and as long as you are on a data plan that gives you at least 1 GB of throughput per month, you can use iPhone tethering for no additional charge in Canada until at least the end of 2009. It's unclear what will happen next year, and it seems that Rogers isn't sure yet either. But rather than simply not allow it while they figure it out (as AT&T is doing), they chose to allow it. My guess is the execs at Rogers are doing a few things here: Looking to increase goodwill after the disastrous data plan fiasco last year Wanting to watch usage patterns to see just how popular tethering turns out to be, to help them determine price points Using the drug dealer method of marketing -- get people hooked, then jack up the price Of course, this is assuming they will revert to their evil ways; it would be nice to think that Rogers has actually turned over a new leaf and wants to provide reasonable service for a reasonable price. My guess is that most users of tethering are like me in that they want to have access to it for emergencies, but don't actually need it on a day-to-day basis. In that regard, allowing tethering as part of the not-inexpensive <1 GB data plans that Rogers provides makes reasonable sense. So, does anyone think Rogers will continue to do what makes reasonable sense next year when it comes to tethering, or will the lure of a few extra dollars be too much for them to resist?

  • Mac 101: Locking your Mac with a hotkey, like you can with Windows

    One of the things that confused me the most when I switched to the Mac platform was the fact that there's no built-in way to lock the computer manually with a hotkey when walking away from it. This is something that was drilled into me from working in an office full of pranksters where leaving your computer unlocked was virtually a guarantee that you would be hosting a party for all of your co-workers that coming weekend. It turns out that this is an oversight in Mac OS X, and a 3rd party utility is required to be able to lock your computer with a hotkey. For a simple solution I would suggest installing a very basic preferences pane called LockTight. LockTight does exactly what you're looking for: assign a specific hotkey that when pressed will lock your Mac, requiring a password to unlock it if you have it configured to require a password to wake from sleep or screen saver (which you should). Update: Reader Chad reminds us that if you actually want your machine to go to sleep with a keystroke (as opposed to simply locking the screen) you can use the Option-Cmd-Eject key combo. [via Lifehacker]

  • Mac 101: SizzlingKeys - control iTunes with keyboard shortcuts

    Controlling your music while you're working (or playing) on your computer should be virtually seamless. While these days it's almost impossible to buy a keyboard without media keys built-in, there are many users that either don't have media controlling keys on their keyboards, or would simply prefer to keep their hands on the actual keys. While iTunes is not capable of assigning hotkeys on its own, there are a number of iTunes controller applications on the market that can add this functionality. In my opinion SizzlingKeys deserves to be at the top of the list of iTunes controller apps for its simplicity, reliability, and extra features. SizzlingKeys installs as a preferences pane, and has a very intuitive interface that allows you to choose which functions to enable, and what the hotkeys should be for those functions. The list of things you can control with hotkeys is fairly comprehensive: Play / Pause Previous / Next Track Volume Down / Up Mute / Almost Mute Show / Hide iTunes, Playlists, Search Set song rating Show floater (song information) In addition SizzlingKeys offers some non-iTunes "extras" that you can control: Sleep computer Lock computer Activate screen saver The standard version of SizzlingKeys is free, but there is also a Pro version for $5 that includes the ability to skip forwards and back by a customized interval, the ability to toggle shuffle and repeat modes, and the ability to control the system volume.

  • Make your display's gamma in Leopard match Snow Leopard

    John Gruber mentioned in a recent post about Apple's Snow Leopard list of Enhancements and Refinements that one of the small adjustments to Snow Leopard will be that the default gamma on displays will switch from the typical 1.8 value to 2.2, which is what is used on TVs as well as being the long-standing default gamma value in Windows. Gamma affects the visual contrast you see on your screen, and a higher value indicates a higher level of contrast. The cost of this higher contrast is that you lose some detail on the less luminous parts of your screen. If you're interested in seeing what this is going to look like in Snow Leopard, or switching your gamma setting now so that you're used to it ahead of time, here are the steps to do it using the Display Calibrator Assistant: Head into System Preferences, and click on the Displays icon. Click on the Color tab, and press the Calibrate... button. On the Introduction window that opens, click Continue On the next screen, "Select a target gamma", choose "2.2 Television Gamma" Click Continue leaving your Target White Point set to Native (or whatever yours is set to) Now name the new profile you've created, click Continue and then Done. Lastly, you can now choose to switch between your default color profile, and your newly created profile with the gamma set to 2.2. I realize this might seem terribly obvious to some users, but for others playing with color profiles is not ground they've previously covered. If you're one of those people, this tip is for you.

  • Terminal Tips: Rebuild your Launch Services database to clean up the Open With menu

    Problem: Some piece (or pieces) of rogue software have cluttered up your Open With contextual menu, which you can see by right-clicking or control-clicking any document in the Finder. This problem seems to be most prevalent with virtual machines that allow you to open documents with Windows applications, but tend not to clean up after themselves. After having both Parallels and VMWare installed on my MacBook Pro, my Open With menu was a mess. Solution: Lucky for me, I noticed David Chartier's question about this on Twitter around the same time as I was wondering what to do about it. Some friendly person pointed him to a posting on Apple's discussion forum (also noted on Mac OS X Hints here and here), noting that running a specific command in a terminal window will rebuild your launch services, which repopulates the Open With menu with a current list of applications, without duplicates. It worked perfectly for me, but beware, on my system it took about 10 minutes to complete, and I suspect it could take more on a sufficiently gummed-up system. Here's the Leopard version of the command (the path to the tool is different in Tiger, see here). I broke it into three lines for readability, but the \ at the end of the line is bash-speak for "keep on going with the same command" -- you can copy and paste it directly and it should work, or if you type it on one line without the backslashes, it will also work fine. Just copy and paste it into terminal and it'll work just fine. /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain user If, preferring to avoid the Terminal, you want a handy GUI app to rebuild the Launch Services database with a couple of clicks, check out Titanium's OnyX or Maintenance utilities, both free of charge.

  • New Mobile Google Calendar on the iPhone too

    Hot on the heels of the new version of Gmail Mobile for the iPhone comes a new mobile version of Google Calendar leveraging some of the same technology. The previous iteration was frustratingly feature-poor, allowing you only to view your appointments and add new ones using a natural language interface which could be frustrating with the iPhone's keyboard. Thankfully the new version has a more typical appointment entry screen. Better appointment entry is nice, but the big new features in the new version of Google Calendar for the iPhone are the ability to edit existing appointments, invite other people to events, and the ability to manage appointment invitations and attendance statuses. Although the official announcement on the Official Google Mobile Blog inexplicably downplays it, Google Calendar now has a modicum of offline functionality on the iPhone and Android phones. Now even if you have no network connection it can still show you appointments that you've previously viewed, though you can't edit them. Hopefully this matures into a true offline capability in future versions, but it's sure nice to know that you can get to your appointments if you need to when you're without a network connection.

  • New Gmail Mobile site released for iPhone (and Android)

    Back in March I made a plea for a native Gmail application on the iPhone. As it turned out, Google was working on a new version of the Gmail Mobile site that takes advantage of HTML5 features like database storage to provide caching functionality on the iPhone and Android phones. The demo was compelling; a super-fast Gmail experience that includes long-awaited features like full label support, the ability to apply changes to multiple messages at once, and a floating action bar (dubbed the "floaty bar") that allows you to archive, delete, mark read/unread, add or remove a star, or mark messages as spam without having to scroll to the top or bottom of the thread you are viewing to do so. The demo was certainly exciting, but though I was hoping would be released soon, I was fearing we were still a year away from seeing this new version of Gmail Mobile. Boy, was I wrong. This sexy new web version of Gmail Mobile was released yesterday, and as a heavy Gmail user I have only one word for it: Glorious! Okay, I'm a blogger, so we know I never only have one word for something. But if you've been using the built in Mail app on your iPhone to avoid the clunky web version, it's time to try Google Mobile again. While it's a huge, massive improvement on the previous version, the new Google Mobile is not without areas that could use improvement. For one, it is very slow to load. For me, I'm willing to put up with this since once it does load everything is significantly faster than it was. But it would certainly be nice to see an improvement in this regard, and that's something that was hinted at on the Official Gmail blog post announcing this new version. Another small annoyance is that the buttons are smaller than standard iPhone buttons, and there are more of them. It's manageable, but does require a bit of extra care and attention. All in all, a very solid improvement, and one that makes working with email on the iPhone significantly more pleasant for Gmail users.

  • The iPhone needs a native Gmail application

    [Update] Check the bottom of the post for a video from Mobile World Congress showing Gmail with offline support running on an iPhone. The iPhone needs a native Gmail application. There, I've said it. Every time I bring this up with iPhone users, I get one of the following questions: What's wrong with the built-in Mail app? What's wrong with the Gmail iPhone-optimized web interface? How dare you criticize the iPhone! Okay, that last one isn't a question, but you can tell that some people are thinking it. Let's tackle the questions: What's wrong with the built-in iPhone Mail app? I have to admit that Mail on the iPhone is the best email client I've ever used on a mobile device. But that's really not saying much, since virtually ever app that I regularly use on the iPhone is better than the equivalent Windows Mobile or Blackberry versions I have used with previous devices. The main thing that I find to be missing in Mail on the iPhone is message threading. Gmail is the gold standard when it comes to keeping messages grouped by thread, and Mail.app on the Mac comes a close second, in my opinion. For me, this is a must-have feature, and it drives me crazy that it is missing from Mail on the iPhone. One other frustration with the iPhone Mail client (admittedly one that native Gmail would not fix) is how many taps it takes to move between mail accounts. It sure would be nice for Apple to include an integrated Inbox that works the same way it does on Mail.app for the Mac.

  • iPhone app Feeds handily synchronizes with Google Reader

    Google Reader is unarguably an extremely popular RSS news reader with a very good mobile interface for the iPhone. But as good as the mobile interface is, for me well done native applications will always beat an in-browser experience. A good iPhone app that synchronizes with Google Reader already exists by the name of Byline ($4.99, iTunes link), but a new one has just been released that is worth your attention.I used Byline for a few months before finally tiring of not having the ability to unsubscribe from feeds that I'd lost interest in. In fact, I switched to NetNewsWire (free, iTunes link) on the Newsgator platform for just that reason. But this new RSS reader has come along with not only the ability to synchronize with Google Reader, but also the ability to manage my Google Reader subscriptions right on my iPhone. This new (to me, anyway) app is called Feeds ($2.99, iTunes link).

  • Securing your iPhone web traffic with Hotspot Shield

    Have you ever wondered whether the wifi data you send and receive with your iPhone or iPod touch at the local coffee shop or airport is secure? Well, I bet if you hadn't wondered that before, you are now. It's easy to forget that inside that cute little handheld device live the guts of an actual computer, and likely a lot of personal data. Depending on your surfing habits, you could be sending and receiving personal information in a non-secure way over public wifi. If you're concerned about your data's safety, consider using Anchorfree's Hotspot Shield free VPN service. Hotspot Shield has been a great way to lock down your laptop's wifi for a long time now, and just recently they have released instructions on how to take advantage of their service on an iPhone / iPod touch. Pleasantly, the service does not require that a program be downloaded to your device, but rather takes advantage of the iPhone and iPod touch's built-in VPN functionality. My only gripe with Hotspot Shield is that it can sometimes be challenging to get the VPN to successfully connect. Anchorfree recommends performing a quick reboot of your device to get your connection going, but in my experience even that can be a hit-or-miss scenario. But it's still better than letting that creepy guy that keeps hitting on the barista peruse my http requests. 'Cause I'm not paranoid, but I'm sure that's what he's doing.

  • Remember the Milk for iPhone

    My search for the perfect software task management solution has been going on for a long time, and I think I've finally found the answer: Remember the Milk for iPhone (iTunes link). I've tried almost all of the big names in task managers: iGTD, Things, OmniFocus, and even Leopard's built-in todo functionality. None of them have met my needs. For me, a task list needs to be ubiquitously available, and very quick and easy to interact with. For me, that means I need a native iPhone app, which immediately eliminates iGTD and Leopard's To Do list, since there is no iPhone equivalent. That leaves me with Things, OmniFocus, and RTM, all of which now have native iPhone apps. One of my requirements is that my tasks synchronize to a web server, so that I don't need to have my laptop turned on to synchronize my tasks to my iPhone. This eliminated Things as a contender for me, since it currently only supports direct synchronizing over the same wireless network. OmniFocus had therefore been my de-facto task management tool due to its ability to synchronize both the Mac and iPhone versions to either MobileMe, or your own web server using WebDAV. The main problem I've had with OmniFocus on the iPhone is how incredibly slow it is to start up and synchronize. A recent update attempted to address this issue by allowing new tasks to be added while the synchronization was occurring, but it's still just not quick enough.

  • Screaming fast Mozilla browser Minefield gives a glimpse of Firefox's future

    I was really disappointed when Google released their Chrome web browser for Windows only. When it comes to browsers, I've tried them all. Right now I regularly switch between Firefox and the latest nightly build from Webkit (essentially Safari). Firefox has the extensibility I rely on, while Webkit has the performance I crave. I had hoped that Chrome would magically combine those two crucial traits and become my new go-to browser. Unfortunately, Chrome is not yet nearly as extensible as Firefox, and isn't available for Mac (yet). So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon the latest experimental Firefox build from Mozilla, called Minefield. This Minefield should not be confused with the unofficial optimized builds of Firefox that Brett wrote about, which are also referred to as Minefield. Minefield is Mozilla's code-name for this generation of Firefox, and the code name is used for unofficial builds to avoid infringing upon the Firefox name. So, what's so special about the Mozilla Minefield build? It's fast... smokin' fast. This is essentially a version of Firefox with the new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine under the hood, and as Ars Technica reports, it tests even faster than Google's V8 JavaScript engine. As most Mac users have noted, Firefox is kind of pokey on the Mac platform, particularly compared with WebKit or even Safari, and even when compared with Firefox on a similarly spec'd Windows machine. Version 3 of Firefox was supposed to fix the performance problem, and while it's somewhat better, it's still not great. Well, Minefield is great. Using Gmail or even a complex content management system is a breath of fresh air. I feel like my web apps are finally keeping up with me.There's one caveat, and it's a big one: though the current version number is 3.1b2pre (the "b" denoting beta status), this is really alpha software. That means there will be bugs, and you will experience problems. Surprisingly, though, Minefield has been very stable in my testing -- not yet crashing in a full day of testing. I have restarted it a couple of times due to suspicion that something strange was going on, but I can't say for sure if it was. If you use it with your regular Firefox profile rather than creating a new one, Minefield will complain that most of your extensions are not compatible. Using Nightly Tester Tools, I re-enabled all of the extensions that it disabled, and every single one of them appears to be working normally, even the complicated ones like Better Gmail 2 and TabMixPlus. I've only had a problem with one site so far, but unfortunately it's a big one: Google Docs. The page simply won't load. But for now, I'm willing to open WebKit or Camino to edit my Google Docs, because I'm just too smitten with the raw speed that Minefield offers. One last note: being a nightly build, you will likely find that new versions are available, well, nightly. Mozilla makes the process of upgrading to the latest version virtually painless by using the built-in version monitoring process that Firefox uses. [via Ubuntu Unleashed]