Monday, March 22, 2010

Synaptics multitouch driver for PC touchpads.

This tip has been making the rounds on tech blogs like Engadget. But in case you missed it:

Basically, the HP support site has posted a driver update from touchpad manufacturer Synaptics that enables two-finger scrolling, three-finger flicks and other gestures on laptops with Synaptics touchpads that didn’t previously support multitouch.

The WHQL-certified driver works on many older laptops with Synaptics touchpads including those that aren’t HP branded.

This solution beats previous attempts at unlocking multitouch that involved hacked drivers, messing with the registry and disabling signed-driver checks in Win7 x64.

It works brilliantly on my two year old Dell m1330. No more multitouch envy of those white Apple MacBooks.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Long live PDF XChange!

That’s it. I’ve finally had it with Acrobat 8.

I’ve installed the latest patches and still it lets me down. From missing PDF preview icons in Windows Explorer, to the broken Outlook preview plug-in, to the non-functioning PDF plug-in for Chrome, to it being slow, slow, slow, Acrobat 8 time and time again disappoints me.

Buying CS3 / Acrobat 8 when I probably couldn’t afford it was bad enough. I’m not going to shell out more money for Acrobat 9. And installing Acrobat Reader 9 on a system with Acrobat Pro 8 just didn’t work. I know, I’ve tried.

The final straw though was when a PDF document I downloaded wouldn’t open without crashing Acrobat. A PDF program that can’t open PDFs? What’s that about?

So I’ve switched. To PDF XChange Reader. This little gem from Canadian developer Tracker Software is a real winner, and it’s free.

It’s quick, lean and powerful, opening all my PDF documents without a hitch. The free version, which I’m using, even lets you annotate documents, which I use for taking notes and highlighting text right in the journal article PDFs.

I did try the popular alternative, FoxIt Reader, but it won’t let you annotate documents without adding an annoying watermark, unless you upgrade to the paid version.

I’ll still keep Acrobat 8 Pro on my computer for creating PDFs and OCR, but for day-to-day PDF viewing, PDF XChange can’t be beat.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Opera 10.50 is fast!

I just tried the new Opera 10.50 release on Win7 x64 and, boy, is it fast! Although I don’t have any real benchmark numbers, everything is really, really snappy.

The Monster test on Chrome Experiments actually runs pretty smoothly on the new Opera. Previously, only Chrome could run it well on a PC – both Firefox 3.6 and Internet Explorer 8 failed miserably.

There are a few nice new UI tweaks as well, including support for Aero Glass everything, jump lists and a nice little recycle bin in the upper right hand corner for recently closed tabs. Also, the tab bar can be resized to give a mini preview of each page.

I don’t anticipate using Opera Link for setting synchronization or Opera Unite for social media sharing, but Opera Turbo seems interesting, especially when in a crowded cafe on a slow Wi-Fi link or browsing while borrowing someone’s 3G dongle.

Overall, this seems like a really strong release and may give me pause when thinking about what browser to run as default. Great job Opera!

EDIT: Opera Unite is quite a bit more interesting than I had initially thought!

It basically runs a web server within Opera from which you can host different services like file sharing, media streaming or even web hosting.

Obviously you aren’t going to run any heavy duty web services on this, and all pages are served under a sub-domain of

Still, everything just works and this feels like it has the potential like peer-to-peer technology to be a game changer. Especially if you can get you and your friends to mirror each other’s content.