BBC News - Dot brand versus dot com: Internet domains go head to head

BBC News - Dot brand versus dot com: Internet domains go head to head
30 September 2011 Last updated at 03:54 GMT

Dot brand versus dot com: Internet domains go head to head


Death sentence?: As brands are given the opportunity to have their own domains, could the dominance of .com be at an end?

Business is good. Your bathroom fittings company has replaced the conveniences in half the homes in your neighbourhood. But there's one small fly in your ointment.

You were a bit late to the game when it came to the internet.

And when you finally decided to go online, www.bloggsbogs.com was already taken. You're pretty sure this must be the reason you haven't made quite the splash you wanted in other towns.

Is there another way?

Domain dominion

Beginning in January 2012, applications open for a new class of gTLD (generic top level domain).

The people who control the use of internet domains, Icann (Internet Committee for Assigned Names and Numbers), announced in June they were extending the suffixes used for web addresses beyond the existing 22 (.com, .net, .uk, etc).

Interested parties can apply to run one, and either retain it for themselves, or set up as a registrar selling domains within groups like .car or .bank.

Icann meeting Singapore
Icann voted to allow the proposals for the new domains at their meeting in Singapore in June 2011.

The suffixes don't have to be roman letters, so could for example be Chinese characters.

Some rules do apply - for instance, they must have at least three letters (Icann is holding onto the remaining two letter domains in case new countries are created).

So now companies can bid for their own gTLD for the first time. Think .hitachi, .coke, .facebook.

Could .com's dominance be coming to an end?

Time limited

If your dream of registering .bloggsbogs is going to become reality, you'd better get your skates on. The application period opens on 12 January 2012, and closes three months later on 12 April.

Miss this and you may be twiddling your thumbs till 2015 according to Tim Callan, chief marketing officer at domain experts Melbourne IT DBS.

"[Companies] have to be prepping, and they have to be getting ready and figuring out what they're doing so they're ready."

Some may be left behind, says Simon Briskman, partner and IT specialist at law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse.

Tim Callan Tim Callan: "Verisign predicts there will be 1,500 applications"

"I think it's difficult for brands to take this very short period we've got - the last quarter of this year - to assess and make a full business case."

Mr Briskman says some companies have stalled, initially put off by the cost.

"I think we've now got to the point where people are going: 'Hang on a minute, this is a drop in the ocean compared with the investment we make in the brand. We really do need to properly assess the business case.'

"[Some] big brands are going to miss the window - simple as that. You can't move large organisations at this speed."

Shirt off your back

Cost may cut out all but the megabrands.

Applying will set you back $185,000, and it doesn't stop there, says Melbourne IT DBS's Tim Callan: "Your corner mom-and-pop shop, this is not right for them.

"A good estimate is it will cost between $150,000 - $200,000 a year to run [a gTLD]. So costly yes, compared to your and my wallets, but for the companies we're talking about - trivial.

"I've yet to run into anybody who I would consider a prospect for this who has a cost objection."

Rebecca Moody, head of planning at advertising agency Euro RSCG, agrees: "It's a no-brainer for John Lewis or for Coca-Cola, for example, both successful big brands who can probably afford dot brand."

Bloggs Bogs may have to settle for registering for a dot category domain - if anyone applies for .toilet that is.

Coke sign
The cost of applying for your own gTLD will probably restrict it to megabrand corporations like Coca Cola

When the application period closes, Icann will decide who has a viable bid.

"They're taking the public facing internet, they're slicing chunks off and they're giving them to people to operate," says Mr Callan. "So they want to be confident people can run it correctly."

Where there are multiple qualifying bids, Icann has a set of criteria to decide who wins - in the case of dictionary words for example, open communities trump private ones.

If this process doesn't resolve the situation, then it goes to auction, with the highest bidder winning. The first gTLDs could be live by early 2013.

Return on investment

So what is pushing companies to buy their own dot brand?

Mr Callan says protecting your trademark is one motive, not only to thwart cybersquatters, but to beat other companies using the same name to it.

"Trademark law allows non-colliding trademarks to exist. If I'm operating in North America and you're operating in Europe and we don't cross over, then we can both have a trademark. But only one of us can have the TLD."

New domains

  • dot category: .bank, .music, .shop
  • dot place: .london, .berlin, .nyc
  • dot brand: .canon, .hitachi, .unicef, .motorola
  • non-Roman scripts allowed: Arabic, Chinese etc
  • minimum three characters
  • no numbers, hyphens or non-letter characters
  • no country names
  • no two words that differ slightly
  • no plurals if singular exists, e.g. bank not banks
  • trademark holders can block cybersquatters

Then, he says, there's the marketing benefit.

"[Companies] think they can have a better connection between offline marketing and online traffic by having names that are shorter, more memorable, easier to pop out in a marketing campaign."

"For example, laptop.hitachi. Very crisp. Very easy to remember, very easy to communicate."

This includes the benefits a loaded url brings in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy, a process where sites are built to make them more attractive to search engines.

Security is another draw.

"There are a lot of people who won't do internet shopping because of the security, I think dot brand has a lot of potential there," says Field Fisher Waterhouse's Simon Briskman.

"[It] is going to really help as a seal of authenticity."

Perception is a big deal, according to Dr Jonathan Freeman, senior lecturer in psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London and managing director of i2 media research.

"A lot of this is consumer perception. Reassuring consumers is going to enhance the online behaviours and transactions. They'll feel a lot more happy dealing [with] it."

Despite this, he anticipates consumers will not immediately take to the new naming conventions.

Dr Jonathan Freeman
Dr Freeman says finding dot brand sites without having to search could be easier on mobile devices

"What people are used to doing is going to be a big determinant in how consumers adopt and use dot brand as it rolls out.

"I'd expect it to take a while to embed in consumer behaviour, especially given the extent to which consumers rely on search engines today."

So where does this leave the brands that cannot afford to be part of the new world order?

"There will inevitably be a new brand ranking system, which in a way I find kind of concerning." says Euro RSCG's Rebecca Moody.

"Do you risk looking like a second rate brand?"

Out of the loop

Understandably, smaller brands are uneasy.

"What the small businesses and not-for-profits have been complaining about is there's a significant barrier to entry," says Field Fisher Waterhouses's Simon Briskman.

"People are selling off slices of the internet real estate, and they feel they're going to get closed out."

He says subsequent rounds may prove a little cheaper.

Start Quote

It's just not possible for everyone to get the names that they want in the new dot com space”

Simon Briskman Field Fisher Waterhouse

"I think people will start to aggregate the running of these day-to-day, which ought to bring down some cost. I still don't think that it will be accessible to Martha with her boutique in Marylebone."

And the ubiquitous dot com? It's probably safe for some time to come.

"I don't believe anyone is going to be shutting their dot coms in the next five years," says Tim Callan of Melbourne IT DBS.

"But does any of us think we're going to be typing dot com in a hundred years? No."

Simon Briskman is somewhat more tempered.

"The reason dot com will survive is [for example] the Times - there's the Financial Times, the New York Times. It's just not possible for everyone to get the names that they want in the new dot com space."

"If you want a good presence, but maybe not the best presence, if you want someone else to run the infrastructure, you'll probably use dot coms.

"They'll happily co-exist I just don't think they'll have the same power that the dot brand does."


Free Data Backup, Recovery and Security - CrashPlan - Software Features

Free Data Backup, Recovery and Security - CrashPlan - Software Features

CrashPlan FREE Features

Data Backup

automatic protection

Automatic Protection

CrashPlan backup happens all by itself. Nothing to remember. No annoying popups. If backup is interrupted, CrashPlan automatically resumes when computers become available again.

automatic protection

Back Up Attached Drives

CrashPlan can back up files and folders on attached drives. You can even remove and later reattach drives without restarting the backup. CrashPlan doesn’t care how long they’ve been disconnected either.

file size

Unlimited File Size

Some backup services limit the size of files you can back up. CrashPlan has no restriction on file sizes.

file size

Open / Locked File Support

On OS X and Linux, you can back up any open file. On Windows, CrashPlan uses Microsoft's Volume Shadow Copy Service. If the application that created the open file does not support VSS, CrashPlan retries until the file is not busy.

smart backup

Smart Backup

Backups to different destinations occur one at a time. To ensure you'll have a full backup at one location as soon as possible, CrashPlan automatically determines the order of your backups based on which destination will complete first. In general backups to local destinations happen before backups to remote locations.

backup scheduling

Backup Scheduling

If you want to control when backups take place, CrashPlan gives you the option to schedule your backup.

support star

Outstanding Customer Service

Answering questions from our Minnesota headquarters, CrashPlan Support professionals are trained to deliver insanely great knowledgeable, helpful, supportive customer service. Whether you are new to backup with basic questions or a backup pro with advanced technical issues, CrashPlan Support is ready to help.

transmission icon

Transmission Efficiency and Compression

CrashPlan’s advanced backup engine works to make your backup as small as possible. In addition to minimizing bandwidth and storage requirements, small backups allow CrashPlan to work faster and invisibly. This is possible because:

  • Differential Backups: After the first backup completes, CrashPlan first checks for data that is already backed up and ignores it for subsequent backups. Subsequent backups are usually much smaller because they contain only new or changed information.
  • Data De-duplication: This data de-duplication happens at the block level, so even repeated information within a file, as well as across all files, is not backed up unnecessarily.
  • Compression: New / changed information is compressed before the backup is sent.

Data Recovery

time machine

Flexible Restore Options

With CrashPlan, you can go back in time and choose to restore specific versions of files based on date. You can also tell CrashPlan where to save the files when you restore and whether or not to rename them.

restore icon

Seeded Backup and Restore to Your Door

If you have a lot to back up, the initial backup might take longer than you'd like. So we offer a ‘seed service’ where we send you an external hard drive to use for your first backup. After you send it back, we transfer the data directly to CrashPlan Central, saving a lot of time on your first backup.

Similarly, if you ever need to restore a large amount of data, use CrashPlan’s Restore to Your Door service, to have us ship your backup archive to you on a hard drive or DVD, so you can restore locally.

time machine

We never throw anything away

Unlike other backup products, CrashPlan keeps your deleted files forever (unless you tell us not to.) No matter how much time passes after you delete a file, you can get it back. (Files backed up to CrashPlan Central are retained as long as you have an active subscription or free trial).

Data Security

encryption icon


CrashPlan uses Blowfish encryption to safeguard your backup. Combined with data de-duplication and compression, your backup archive is safe from view. Your friends can’t even see the names of the files you have backed up to them.

password protection

Multi-Level Password Protection

In addition to the option of requiring a password to access the CrashPlan desktop, CrashPlan offers several encryption options for higher levels of security for restoring your files.

  • Account Password (Default): Use your account password to secure your data.
  • Private Password (Added Security): Use a private password to require that you provide an additional password before restoring your files.
  • Private Key (Enhanced Security): Replace the default encryption key with a private key that you generate yourself for even greater security.

crashplan plus

online backup

Online Backup Destination

When you back up your personal files to the CrashPlan Central online destination, they are securely stored in one of several data centers around the world. Each of our data centers complies with the strictest security standards and conforms to industry best practices for power redundancy, cooling and fire protection.

version retention

Flexible Version Retention

By default CrashPlan retains more versions of newer files and fewer versions over time. With CrashPlan+ you can adjust the number of backup versions being retained to meet your retention requirements.

continuous backup

Continuous Backup

With CrashPlan+ you can specify that backups take place as often as once a minute.

backup sets

Backup Sets

When you have different groups of files that you want sent to different destinations or with different backup settings, you can enable the backup set feature in CrashPlan+. Backup sets give you even more choices about what to back up, where to back up, and how backups take place, allowing you to manage your backup down to individual files. Now you can back up personal files to CrashPlan Central, and non-personal files to other destinations.

password protection


CrashPlan’s 128-bit Blowfish encryption is plenty good, but some people would be more comfortable with even greater security. For them, CrashPlan+ delivers 448-bit Blowfish encryption for even more robust security.

Web Restore

Web Restore

By backing up your personal files to CrashPlan Central, you get the ability to restore them to any computer using your Internet browser and an Internet connection.


iOS-Like Dark Menu Bar for Mac OS X Lion

iOS-Like Dark Menu Bar for Mac OS X Lion

iOS-Like Dark Menu Bar for Mac OS X Lion

Dark menu bar for Mac OS X

If you’ve been using Nocturne to get the black menubar in Mac OS X but don’t care for any of the features outside of the darker menu bar, check out MenuBarFilter. All it does is turn the Mac menu bar color into a dark black gradient, closely resembling iOS.

Download MenubarFilter now or head to the github page.

MenuBarFilter is extremely lightweight, just uncompress the app and double-click on the Panda icon to turn your menubar black. There are no configuration choices or menu items, so if you want to quit the app you’ll have to find it in Activity Monitor and kill the process, or type this into the Terminal:

killall Finder

Why would you want to stop running this gorgeous little add-on? Bugs of course. MenuBarFilter certainly works in Lion but it doesn’t play that well with Mission Control or full-screen apps, and you’ll see some display artifacts and mismatched colors here and there. I’ve been using it since last night and as long as you don’t expect a perfect fit quite yet, MenuBarFilter is a very nice looking customization to Mac OS X.

dark menu bar in Mac OS X

Speaking of bugs, if you’re crafty and want to try and troubleshoot the display oddities yourself, you can grab the source code through git with:

git clone git://github.com/eece/MenuBarFilter



Project management applications that integrate with Google Apps


Project Management with Google Apps

Project management software with Google Apps is the next big thing right? But does the Docsintegration hype measure up? Will it actually help you or your team to be more productive?

More than a few project management tools are quick to announce “integration” with Google Apps – but what does that actually mean?

Project management applications that integrate with Google Apps

Project Management with Google AppsThe the most popular project management apps on the Google Apps marketplace are:
Manymoon, Zoho Projects, Freshbooks,Smartsheet, Deskaway, Ace Project,Huddle, Comindwork, Wrike, Mavenlink,Teambox, Harvest Glasscubes and Jira.

How do project management apps typically ‘integrate’ with Google Apps?

  • User can create tasks from emails. A button at the bottom of the email that allows you to create a task. Used in; Manymoon, Zoho Projects.
  • Attach Google docs to tasks, messages and projects. This is available in most of the apps.
  • One click sign in with a Gmail account. This is pretty much a given for all apps that integrate with Google.
  • Exporting reports to Google Docs
  • Importing Google contacts into your project management app. A great way to expand your user base.
  • Integration with Google Calendar. For example, adding milestones or due dates on tasks to the calendar.

There are also some other more unique integrations:

  • Smartsheet allows you to attach a Google doc within a row on your Smartsheet. An interesting the approach when you consider that Google might be seen as their main competitor.
  • Jira which is primarily for software development also has some unique features. You can embed a Google Doc within a wiki on Jira. Also you can access Google Talk within Jira as well as Gmail and Google Calendar.

Which project management software offer the best Google Apps workflow?

It really depends on the way that you work and the type of tool you are looking for. Manymoonhas perhaps the most comprehensive Google Apps feature set. However if you need other project management features such as invoicing or Gantt charts you should choose look around…

We’ve compiled a list of the top project management software solutions that integrate with Google Apps to help illustrate exactly what type of integration each service offers:


How to make a Gantt Chart with Google Docs

Milestone Planner progress graph - YouTube

Milestone Planner progress graph - YouTube:


OS X Lion: Recover iLife Suite After Reinstall | How-To | The Mac Observer

OS X Lion: Recover iLife Suite After Reinstall | How-To | The Mac Observer

TMO Talk (8)

The newest Apple MacBook Air and Mac mini have no optical drive, and there is no physical media included in the box. That raises the question of how to recover and install the iLife suite if you have to reformat or replace the internal Flash drive or hard disk. Here’s how to do it.

Previously, all Macs included an optical drive and a DVD that would allow you to boot from it and reinstall the OS X. The latest version of iLife was included on that DVD.


Nowadays Apple is moving away from clunky, rotating plastic discs. In addition, Lion’s hidden recovery partition allows you to boot, examine the main partition, do modest repairs, reformat if necessary, and reinstall OX X Lion. (Hold down the Option key at boot.)

Alternatively, your problem may be so severe on one of these new Macs (an unlikely event) that you need to boot from Apple’s servers and have it check your hardware. (Hold down CMD-R at boot.)

Either way, a Lion reinstall begs the question: with no DVD in the box and no copy of iLife on the recovery partition, how does iLife (iMovie, Garage Band, iPhoto*) get reinstalled?

The details are buried in Apple’s Knowledge Base Article # HT4718. Here’s a recap.

  1. After you’ve reinstalled Lion, restart the Mac
  2. Double-click the App Store in the Dock or select Apple Menu -> App Store.
  3. Authenticate with your Apple ID and password.
  4. Select the “Purchases” tab.
  5. You should see the iLife suite appear in the “Accept” section. You can download it free of charge.

Although Apple doesn’t mention it, we at TMO suspect that you need to register your new Mac under your Apple ID when you first boot up. That way, the Mac App Store knows that it should present you with the option to download iLife in step #5 above.

Finally, if your Internet connection is very, very slow, you may need to take your Mac back to an Apple retail store or find a fast Wi-Fi hot spot to accomplish this free download.


* iLife ‘11 no longer includes iDVD and iWeb. With no optical drive, iDVD is less useful unless you’ve bought one of the external USB MacBook Air SuperDrives. But that’s a separate article.

iLife images: Apple, Inc.

Google Docs - Add Support for Offline Mode

Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs Add Support for Offline Mode

Chrome: Google's adding offline support to Gmail, Calendar, and Docs. The offline support comes via the Offline Google Mail extension, available now in the Chrome Web Store.

Offline Gmail

To get started with Offline Gmail, install the Offline Google Mail extension. Once installed, Chrome should open a new tab; click the newly installed Gmail Offline button, select Allow offline mail, and click Continue. Once everything's up and running, you'll be able to read, respond to, and search your email when you don't have an internet connection. When an internet connection is available again, the extension will sync your messages and other "queued actions" with Gmail.

The other thing you'll notice off the bat is that the offline version of Gmail uses the attractive, two-paned tablet version of Gmail (similar to the one you can enable in your inbox using Gmail Labs). Some of your muscle-memory will still work there—for example, the j and k shortcuts still navigate between messages—but beyond that it's mostly a point-and-click affair. (Hopefully they'll add more shortcuts in time.)

Offline Calendar

To enable Offline Calendar, visit Google Calendar, click the settings cog in the upper right corner, and click Offline. You'll be prompted to install the Google Calendar extension for Chrome. Currently, when you're offline in Gcal, you can view events and RSVP to appointments. Not bad, but that doesn't appear to include creating events, which seems like an important option. Look for that improvement in time.

Offline Docs

To enable Offline Docs, visit Docs and, likewise, enable Offline from inside the settings cog. You'll be asked if you want to enable offline mode, then you'll be prompted to install the Google Docs extension for Chrome. Like Gcal, the offline options are limited. You can only view docs and spreadsheets when you don't have a connection. But Google says they know editing is an important feature, and they're working on adding it.

This Is New?

If you previously used the now-defunct Google Gears to get offline access for Google Apps, this may seem like we took one step back, then another forward. The difference, as far as I can tell, is that the new offline support uses local storage features added in the HTML5 spec. So it's in many ways the same as a feature we had and then lost, but it's a little more future proof.

It's unclear whether or not other browsers (like Firefox) will get these features via extensions, but if I had to make a guess, I'd say probably not. At least not from an official Google extension.

Using Gmail, Calendar and Docs without an Internet connection | Gmail Blog

Related Stories

LibreOffice - forks from OpenOffice.org

Home » LibreOffice

LibreOffice is the power-packed free, libre and open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base. Support and documentation is free from our large, dedicated community of users, contributors and developers. You, too, can also get involved!

4 Reasons to Try LibreOffice | PCWorld Business Center


OpenOffice.org, from which it is derived:

Component Description
LibreOffice 3.3.1 Writer Icon.png Writer A word processor with similar functionality and file support to Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. It also can act as a basic WYSIWYG editor.[7]
LibreOffice 3.3.1 Calc Icon.png Calc A spreadsheet program, similar to Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3. It has a number of unique features, including a system which automatically defines series of graphs, based on information available to the user.[7][8] LibreOffice Calc still has a function called "Solver" but it is slightly different to that in OpenOffice.org.[citation needed]
LibreOffice 3.3.1 Impress Icon.png Impress A presentation program resembling Microsoft Powerpoint. Presentations can be exported as SWF files, allowing them to be viewed on any computer with Adobe Flash installed.[7][9] LibreOffice Impress also includes 3D transition effects.[citation needed]
LibreOffice 3.3.1 Base Icon.png Base A database management program, similar to Microsoft Access. LibreOffice Base allows the creation and management of databases, preparation of forms and reports that provide end users easy access to data. Like Access, it can be used as a front-end for various database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC data sources, and MySQL or PostgreSQL.[7][10]
LibreOffice 3.3.1 Draw Icon.png Draw A vector graphics editor and diagramming tool similar to Microsoft Visio and comparable in features to early versions of CorelDRAW. It provides connectors between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles and facilitate building drawings such as flowcharts. It also includes features similar to desktop publishing software such as Scribus and Microsoft Publisher.[11]
LibreOffice 3.3.1 Math Icon.png Math An application designed for creating and editing mathematical formulae. The application uses a variant of XML for creating formulas, as defined in the OpenDocument specification. These formulas can be incorporated into other documents in the LibreOffice suite, such as those created by Writer or Calc, by embedding the formulas into the document.[12]

LibreOffice also comes with a PDF creator and also a PDF import tool allowing PDF files to be imported.

Open office dilemma: OpenOffice.org vs. LibreOffice Dueling open source alternatives to Microsoft Office match word processors, spreadsheets, and much more; which one should you choose?

OpenOffice.org is one of the leading competitors to the Microsoft Office suite of business productivity applications. Originally developed as StarOffice in the late 1990s, the suite had been managed in recent years by Sun Microsystems as an open source project. But when Oracle acquired Sun in April 2009, the future of Sun's software offerings -- particularly free ones like OpenOffice.org -- was called into question. Before long, key OpenOffice.org developers, unhappy with the status quo under Oracle, began defecting from the project.

The result was LibreOffice, a new fork of the OpenOffice.org code base that's maintained by a nonprofit organization called the Document Foundation. LibreOffice looks like OpenOffice.org and it runs like OpenOffice.org. It even reads and writes OpenOffice.org's OpenDocument file formats. The difference is that LibreOffice is being developed in a fully community-driven way, without oversight from Oracle. (The "libre" in the suite's name is derived from a Latinate root meaning "liberty.")

[ Also on InfoWorld: "10 great free desktop productivity tools that aren't OpenOffice.org" | Track the latest trends in open source with InfoWorld's Open Sources blog and Technology: Open Source newsletter. ]

The question is, which suite should you use? Both OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice recently announced version 3.3.0 of their respective wares. Both are available as free downloads (although Oracle also sells a version of OpenOffice.org that includes commercial support). Which one will be the better bet for now or in the foreseeable future? I installed both to find out.

Installation and language support
OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice each consists of six applications, called Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, and Math in both suites. The modules provide word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, business graphics, database management, and formula editing, respectively.

Both suites are available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X (Intel and PowerPC). You can also get OpenOffice.org for Solaris (Sparc and Intel). Because I wanted to test the most typical Office-replacement scenario, however, I ran both suites on an Intel PC running Windows 7.

The executable installers for both suites are similar; they ask the same questions and the install scripts seem identical, although LibreOffice setup is a little slower. I chose Typical Install for both.

LibreOffice has support for a broader range of languages than OpenOffice.org.

Register now! Official LibreOffice Converence, Paris, 12th-15th October, 2011

Sync Application Data & Preferences Across Multiple Macs with DropboxAppSync

Sync Application Data & Preferences Across Multiple Macs with DropboxAppSync

Sync App Data Across Macs with DropboxAppSync

If you’re one of the many Mac users who uses multiple Macs, say an iMac at home or work, and a MacBook on the go, you should get DropboxAppSync.

This free utility syncs your ~/Library/Application Support/ folder across multiple Macs via the free Dropbox service, allowing you to have the exact same app setups, like preferences, plugins, bookmarks, game files, cache, etc, on all of your Macs, regardless of where you are, as long as you have internet access.

To use DropboxAppSync, you need:

Setup is very simple. Once you have Dropbox configured, quit your open applications, and then just launch DropboxAppSync on the first Mac that you want to be the primary /Application Support/ folder to be synced.

Approve the following message, which informs you that ~/Library/Application Support/ is about to head over to DropBox (via a symbolic link):

This utility will relocate your Application’s support folder to Dropbox. This may be unsupported by the developer! A backup copy of your application’s data will be saved to your desktop just in case…

This utility will save your data to:
Dropbox/Application Support/ApplicationName

If this utility finds your Application data on Dropbox already, it will simply link to the data on Dropbox instead of copying the data over. However, a backup copy will still be saved to your desktop.

Then you run DropboxAppSync on the other Macs, and the app is smart enough to already detect the app data exists so it will simply link to it, syncing your Macs apps.

The developer reminds us that not all apps may support being synced like this, but from user testing there haven’t been many reported issues.

The 2GB free Dropbox account should be adequate for this service with the vast majority of Macs and Mac apps – unless you have Steam games installed like TF2, which store all of their application data in your /Application Support/ folder and causes it to take up a lot of space. For example, without Steam my Application Support folder is about 700MB and I have tons of apps installed, but with Steam it’s well over 25GB. In that case, you’d want to pay for a larger Dropbox account, or just exclude Steam apps from being synced, but it would be an easy way to have all your game data the same on all your Macs rather than manually moving the Steam folder yourself.

Syncing app data across multiple Macs is something that iCloud should do, and hopefully it will in future versions, but in the meantime this is a great free solution.

Superior Alternatives to Crappy Windows Software

Superior Alternatives to Crappy Windows Software

Superior Alternatives to Crappy Windows Software

Whether it comes bundled with your computer, bundled with other software, or is just the go-to program for a specific task, the Windows ecosystem is rife with oft-used, yet craptastic software. We asked you what your most hated Windows apps are, and you gave us tons of shudder-inducing examples. We've compiled your answers into a list of our least favorite crapware, and the better programs you can use in their place.

Application to Avoid: Adobe Reader
Indictment: Slow as molasses, insecure, and runs annoying helper app at startup
Superior Alternative(s): We prefer SumatraPDF, though Foxit Reader and PDF-XChange Viewer are also popular alternatives
Notes: Adobe Reader isn't great, but you may find that some PDFs—particularly those with watermarks, editable form fields, or other special features—work better in Adobe Reader than in other PDF readers. If you have to work with PDFs often, Adobe Reader might be unavoidable, but it's a good idea to try something like Sumatra first just to make sure.

Superior Alternatives to Crappy Windows Software

Application to Avoid: Adobe Flash
Indictment: Slows your computer, causes frequent browser crashes, hogs resources, drains battery, makes laptops heat up, and much more.
Superior Alternative(s): None, sadly.
Notes: It's pretty hard to go without Flash these days. HTML5 is slowly replacing it in some cases, but a lot of sites still require Flash. The best solution is to install something like Flashblock, available for both Chrome and Firefox, which will let you load Flash only when you need it. Alternatively, you can uninstall the Flash plugin entirely and use Chrome's self-contained version when you need it. This has the added advantage of loading HTML5 on some sites, like YouTube, when using Flashblock would just block the original Flash instead of serving the new HTML5 content.

Application to Avoid: Norton, McAfee, and other premium Antivirus suites
Indictment: Pricey, Slow, Bloated
Superior Alternative(s): Microsoft Security Essentials
Notes: Ever since Microsoft Security Essentials came out, you haven't had much of a reason to use anything else. MSE is lightweight, good at catching viruses, and does all of its work in the background without bugging you. If you really don't like MSE, though, you have a few other solid options.

Application to Avoid: Internet Explorer
Indictment: Always stuck in the past
Superior Alternative(s): Google ChromeFirefox, Opera
Notes: IE isn't horrible (in fact, version 9 has made a few improvements), but it always seems behind the times compared to every other browser in existence. Unless it's the only browser that can load a specific webapp, it's not worth your time. Use IE to download a more extensible, feature-filled browser and forget about it.

Superior Alternatives to Crappy Windows Software

Application(s) to Avoid: Browser Toolbars
Indictment: I don't even know where to start. They'll change your home page, track your browsing habits, take up space, and offer you features you don't want in return.
Superior Alternative(s): Not installing toolbars.
Notes: There are a few exceptions to this rule, but in general, you want to avoid browser toolbars at all costs. Toolbars often come packaged with other software and hijack the crap out of your browser, so any time you see a checkbox with the words "Ask Toolbar" next to it, do whatever it takes to keep that thing off your system.

Application to Avoid: Windows Media Player
Indictment: Lack of format support, crappy interface
Superior Alternative(s): VLC, KMPlayer, Media Player Classic
Notes: Windows Media Player isn't all bad, but rarely is it preferable over simpler video players like VLC and KMPlayer.

Application to Avoid: iTunes
Indictment: Slower than a turtle with dumbbells on its feet, comes with the annoying Apple Software Update and the unnecessary QuickTime
Superior Alternative(s): Winamp, Foobar2000, MediaMonkey, Spotify, and tons of others
Notes: If you have to sync an iOS device, you might be stuck with iTunes. However, you can always use iTunes solely for syncing and use something different for actually listening to your music, which'll help you escape iTunes' bloat for most of the day.

Application to Avoid: QuickTime
Indictment: Unnecessary, comes with the annoying Apple Software Update
Superior Alternative(s): VLC, KMPlayer, Media Player Classic
Notes: QuickTime isn't nearly as bad as it used to be, and if you use iTunes, you have to have it on your system. If you're not going to use iTunes, though, you can play QuickTime videos in VLC without a problem. VLC and Media Player Classic even come with a browser plugin on the off chance you come across a QuickTime-only format video embedded in a web page.

Superior Alternatives to Crappy Windows Software

Application to Avoid: WinZip and WinRAR
Indictment: Pricey, Unnecessary
Superior Alternative(s): 7-Zip, among others
Notes: WinZip is completely unnecessary on modern Windows machines, since it has ZIP support built-in. On the rare occasion ZIP isn't good enough, RARs provide great compression, but WinRAR is shareware, and RAR isn't that much better than 7-Zip's 7z format. For more information on file compression, check out our rundown of the best way to compress your files.

Application to Avoid: Nero Burning ROM, Roxio Creator, and other bloated CD/DVD burners
Indictment: Pricey, bloated
Superior Alternative(s): ImgBurn
Notes: Suites like Nero and Roxio are certainly more advanced than their freeware counterparts, but the majority of users will never need their more advanced features—especially considering their cost (both in dollars and in bloat). Plus, between smartphones and thumb drives, how often do you burn optical media, anyway?

Application to Avoid: Paint
Indictment: Is it still 1995?
Superior Alternative(s): Paint.NET, GIMP
Notes: If you ever have to do any basic image editing, you've probably realized Microsoft Paint is an incredibly primitive (almost childish) program. Paint.NET will serve your basic image editing needs, while GIMP provides more advanced features.

Application to Avoid: AIM, Windows Live Messenger
Indictment: Only support one network at a time, filled with ads
Superior Alternative(s): Pidgin, Miranda, Trillian, Digsby
Notes: We can't recommend Pidgin enough, though if you don't like it, Trillian and Digsby are also feature-filled, multi-protocol options. However, both contain either ads or bundled crapware, which is the exact problem we're trying to solve today. They're certainly better than AIM and Live Messenger, just be aware they're still dangerously close to being adware and crapware.

Application to Avoid: Windows Picture Viewer
Indictment: Doesn't support every format, very basic
Superior Alternative(s): IrfanView, XnView
Notes: Windows Picture Viewer is okay, but if you want support for other formats and extra features like keyboard shortcuts, IrfanView is a great replacement.

Application to Avoid: Skype
Indictment: Difficult to quit, runs at startup, horrible interface
Superior Alternative(s): Google Video Chat
Notes: This one's a little harder to escape, since everyone else you know probably uses Skype. But it's such a pain in the butt, it's worth trying to get all your friends to convert, since Skype probably annoys them just as much as it does you.

Application to Avoid
: Microsoft Office
Indictment: Pricey, painfully slow, difficult to use
Superior Alternative(s): LibreOffice, Google Docs
Notes: Office suites have never been the poster children for blinding speed, but Microsoft Office is one of the worst offenders. It feels like you stare at that splash screen for hours before you actually get to start working. If you don't absolutely need Microsoft Office, LibreOffice is a great, free replacement that can handle most users' needs, though Google Docs'll also get the job done for more adventurous users.

Application to Avoid: Notepad
Indictment: Severely lacking in features
Superior Alternative(s): Notepad++, Notepad2
Notes: It's fine for one-off text edits, but if you ever spend any time in text editors, you know how painfully basic Windows' Notepad is. Notepad++ is is packed with useful features that make it stand out over Notepad. If you really want to complete the transition away from Notepad, a few system tweaks can make sure you never have to deal with it again.

Application to Avoid: Windows Command Prompt
Indictment: Annoying interface quirks, lacks real power
Superior Alternative(s): Cygwin + Console2, PowerShell
Notes: If you rarely visit the command prompt, Windows' built-in offering is probably fine. But if you're a heavy command line user, you'll want something a bit more advanced. Users familiar with Windows commands will love PowerShell, which is bundled with Windows 7, while UNIX veterans will love the Cygwin shell coupled with a better terminal program like Console2.

It's hardly an exhaustive list, but these are certainly the most annoying pieces of crapware you'll find on a given machine. Got another program that we didn't mention? Tell us about it (and its superior alternative) in the comments.

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