When you want to share a slideshow, document, application or your entire desktop with several people simultaneously, what do you use? Microsoft’s Live Meeting (formerly NetMeeting) and WebEx are probably two of the most well-known commercial solutions.
In the open source world, VNC and its many variants (RealVNC, TightVNC, UltraVNC, Chicken of the VNC, etc.) also get the job done. But what about an open source and free (as in beer) hosted solution that’s like WebEx? That’s what Dimdim is all about.
Dimdim provides a web interface where you can host a meeting and others can join it for desktop sharing, chat and video and audio transmission. There’s no cost, but also no guarantee of uptime. However, all is not lost. Dimdim also offers a paid service with a 99.9% uptime guarantee and additional features for a flat $99 per year per virtual conference room.
If you’d rather not have your transmissions go outside the office, you can run the Dimdim software yourself. Again, this is free if you run the open source version or a fee for the enterprise version. See the Dimdim Editions chart for comparison.
Want to use video chat but don’t want to have to download and install more software on your computer? With TokBox, now you don’t have to.
This relatively new site (still beta, of course) makes use of Flash to enable you to do video and voice chat with your friends right from a web page. The video quality is a little grainy but that’s supposed to be fixed soon with Flash 9.
It’ll be interesting to see how much traffic they can handle as more people start using it. In order to avoid issues with firewalls, all the video and audio goes through TokBox’s servers so that’s going to be quite a lot of bandwidth. Just think YouTube times two!
Just saw on the Official Gmail Blog that IMAP support is being rolled out for free. Now I’ll be able to keep my mail clients synced up from different locations in addition to using the web interface.
The new feature is being rolled out over the next couple of days. Look for the “Forwarding and POP” tab in Settings to change to “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” to know that you’ve got it.
I was recently asked how to password protect a USB memory stick (a.k.a. thumb drive, USB key, etc.) without having to buy software. TrueCrypt is a free and open source solution for securely encrypting data on any kind of drive including USB keys. In addition, it’s available for both Windows 2000/XP/Vista and Linux so you can share the secure data between operating systems.
With TrueCrypt you can either create a file of a specific size that will appear as a separate drive on your system (virtual encrypted disk) or you can encrypt an entire partition/drive. Of course, you can’t encrypt your entire boot disk because your computer still has to be able to load the TrueCrypt software to read the boot files.
A unique feature of TrueCrypt is that you can create a hidden area inside an encrypted volume that uses a different password. This hidden partition cannot be detected even if it’s analyzed byte-by-byte because it all looks like random bits. By storing your most important data in the hidden area, no one will know it’s there even if they force you to give them the password–you give them the password to the main encrypted area, not the hidden one.
TrueCrypt supports AES, Serpent and Twofish encryption algorithms.
As you probably know, Firefox supports the creation of profiles so that different people can have their own browser configuration (buttons, add-ons, font size, etc.). If you’re not familiar with this feature, see How To Manage Profiles at the Firefox help site. A feature that’s more obscure is that you can actually run more than one profile at the same time.
Why would you want to run profiles simultaneously? I use the feature primarily so that I can check that pages look correct on a clean Firefox profile as well as on my heavily souped up one with lots of add-ons. You might also find it useful to have profiles with different add-ons for different tasks and then start one or more as needed.
Normally, if you start Firefox when a copy is already running, it’ll just start another window using the current profile. To start a completely separate instance of Firefox, add the -no-remote option. In Windows, you can either do this by selecting Run from the Start menu and typing in the entire command, or add the option to the shortcut that you use to start Firefox. On Linux, just add the option to the command line or if you’re using a GUI (e.g. Gnome, KDE, Xfce) adjust the command assigned to the desktop or menu icon that you use to start Firefox.
firefox -p Profile_Name -no-remote
will start a new instance of Firefox with the profile named “Profile_Name”. If, on the other hand, you want to choose the desired profile from the Profile Manager window, use
firefox -profilemanager -no-remote
Now you can start as many different profiles as you like. Have a novel way to make use of profiles? Leave a comment.