We’re currently having trouble emailing AOL users, so if you’re with AOL and are expecting an email from Otaku Software please bear with us. I’ve contacted both AOL and our host and hope to have this problem sorted out within the next day or so.
Archive for February, 2006
BoxingClever, the latest product from Otaku Software, is a utility that makes it easy to send and receive files. It was born out of my frustration with trying to email large files to people; most file attachments are either quarantined or blocked completely.
There are quite a few online storage solutions out there that can help you workaround this problem, and while they’re great for a lot of people, none of them gave me what I needed: control of my data. Try as I might, I just can’t trust my files to someone else. For my peace of mind, I need to be able to control where my data is stored, who has access to it, and when it is accessed and deleted.
While most online storage solutions prevent the general public from accessing your files, for the majority of them they themselves still have access. They give you no say in where your data is stored (save that it’ll be somewhere on their servers), and the backup systems they have in place mean that when you ask for your data to be deleted it may not actually be deleted for some time (I’m looking a you, Google).
The solution I came up with was simple: use your own webserver. Nowadays it’s easy to setup a webserver on your PC (see XAMMP and friends), and if that’s not an option there’s a huge number of ridiculously cheap hosting solutions out there. Some people have already gone down this route, uploading their files via FTP and accessing them through a password protected webpage, but I found this time consuming and cumbersome to setup, and that non-technical users had some difficulty logging in and downloading the appropriate file.
I wanted a solution that was almost as easy as copying a file, and the answer I came up with was to have two separate applications, InBox and OutBox, to handle each end of the transfer. OutBox encrypts a file, uploads it to the webserver via FTP, and then emails a “key” file to the person you want to send the file to. When they receive the email, the recipient drags-and-drops it onto the InBox window, and InBox downloads and decrypts the file to their Desktop.
Sending a file is as easy as right-clicking on it, and InBox is zero-install and uses your Internet Explorer network connection settings, so there’s no setup involved on the download side. You can find more information on what BoxingClever can do and how it work at the BoxingClever page.
Finally, since it’s a v1.0 there’s plenty of room for extra features, so I’d love to hear feedback on what you’d like to see added and improved. I’d also love to hear ideas on how BoxingClever can be used with existing applications. For example, if you needed a more secure way to send the key file, you could use OutBox with PGP email.
TopDesk 1.4.1 is now out. Scott Hanselman had the idea that it would be cool if TopDesk emulated the upcoming Flip3D task switching feature of Windows Vista, and the suggestion was too good to pass up:
TopDesk was recently featured on Digg. It was extremely interesting to read the comments, as they effectively gave me a large sample of users first impressions of TopDesk.
The major thing I took from the comments was that memory usage was a problem for some people. TopDesk has two modes, “Use more memory”, which is faster, and “Use less memory”, which is slower. As the first thing most people want to see after installation is the tiling animation, TopDesk is tuned by default to use more memory so that the animation is as smooth and silky as possible. The thinking behind this is that users get to see what they want as soon as possible, and if they’re still interested in TopDesk they can then tweak it to meet their requirements.
Reading the Digg comments though, it looks like what’s happening is that people are running TopDesk, tiling a couple of times, then going straight to the TaskManager and having a look at the memory usage. Have seen that TopDesk is using more memory than they’d expected, they write it off as “bad software” and move on to the next “cool util”. I’d like to think that if they’d only read the documentation they’d have a different opinion, but as we all know, no-one ever reads the documentation .
Obviously I’d rather they gave TopDesk more of a chance, so beginning with the next version of TopDesk the installer is going to make it clear which options are available in terms of performance and memory usage, and allow users to tweak them before they run TopDesk. Hopefully this will give users a better idea upfront of the choices that are available to them and a better understanding of the tradeoffs between performance and resource use.
This feature of the IE7 Beta 2 is just plain cool:
There’s a similar feature available for Firefox called foXpose.
Because we develop TopDesk, some people don’t like Otaku Software very much. Since the beginning, there’s been a steady stream of hate mail directed at our inboxes, but the one I just recieved has shot to the top of my “all time favourites” list. If you read between the insults and squint hard enough it actually kind of sounds like a compliment. I’ve reproduced it below for your viewing pleasure:
It’s amazing how a team of engineers (namely the ones at Apple) can come up with a great concept like Expose and then a small company like you takes the idea, spins a total rip off of it, and packages it to try and make a buck. Companies like you are beyond the scum of the planet. Enjoy your hard-earned cash, you morons. I hope Apple sues the **** out of you.