Stories by Neil McAllister

Make older add-ons work with Firefox 3.0

If you're like me, you've been playing around with the beta releases of Firefox 3.0. The new version of the open source browser is better-looking, uses less memory, and feels snappier all around. There's just one problem: Every time they release a new beta version, some of your extensions and add-ons are bound to stop working. With the release of Firefox 3.0rc1, almost none of them work.

Parallel processing calls for a Fortress mentality

When you're the inventor of one of the most successful and influential programming languages of the last decade, what do you do for an encore? Judging by demos at the recent JavaOne conference, if you're Sun Microsystems, you invent another programming language.

Visual Basic to return to Mac Office

According to a press release issued by Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit Tuesday, Office 2008, which debuted at this year's MacWorld Expo in January, was the biggest release of the productivity suite for the Mac platform ever. It's selling three times faster than the previous version, say Microsoft sales reps.

Do new Web tools spell doom for the browser?

Since its inception, the Web has been synonymous with the browser. Pundits hailed NCSA Mosaic as "the killer app of the Internet" in 1993, and today's browsers share an unbroken lineage from that humble beginning.

Developers vs. designers: Who wins?

It remains one of the thorniest problems in app dev: How to get the folks in the blue shirts, khakis, and glasses to make nice with their black-shirted, skinny-jeaned, faux-hawked neighbors down the hall? Like as not, your own answer largely depends on which side of the building you sit.

Review: OpenOffice.org Beta Fails the Office 2007 Test

I'm not embarrassed to admit it: I'm a big fan of Office 2007. I think Microsoft got a lot right with its latest release, starting with the ribbon interface and including any number of tweaks and improvements that make my day easier. I can't say I'm thrilled about the price of the suite, however; nor the countless SKUs to choose from. Plus, I'm also a big Linux fan. That's why I always try to keep my eye on the current state of OpenOffice.org, the open source office suite founded by Sun Microsystems.

Yahoo: Open to disaster

It seems Google isn't the only company borrowing a page from Steve Ballmer's playbook. Yahoo CTO Ari Balogh took the stage at last week's Web 2.0 Expo to announce that his company, too, is mounting a major push for third-party developers. Calling it the Yahoo Open Strategy, Balogh said its goal is nothing less than to transform Yahoo from a portal to a bona fide social network.

OpenOffice.org update arrives

OpenOffice.org 2.4, the latest version of the free productivity application suite, was released Thursday and is now available for download for a number of operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

Ubuntu 8.04 beta: an agile upgrade

The beta of the next version of Ubuntu Linux has arrived, though judging by its stability and polish you'd be hard pressed to tell it's a testing release. Ubuntu 8.04, code-named "Hardy Heron," is scheduled to be an LTS (Long Term Support) edition, and you can tell its developers have worked diligently to make it worthy of the title.

Tech's all-time top 25 flops

Imagine how different the tech industry might have been had Gary Kildall accepted IBM's offer, back in 1980, to license his computer operating system for a top-secret project. CP/M would have been the OS that shipped with the original IBM PC, and the world might never have heard the name of Kildall's competitor, who eventually accepted the contract: a Mr. Bill Gates.

Sun's billion-dollar baby

If you had any doubts about Sun Microsystems' commitment to open source, it's time to set them aside. Sun put its money where its mouth is Wednesday, with the announcement that it would buy open source database vendor MySQL for a whopping US$1 billion. If the price tag set tongues wagging, however, it was no more tantalizing than the question that immediately sprung to the minds of IT managers everywhere: Now that Sun owns MySQL, what on earth does it plan to do with it?

Windows to desktop Linux in three easy steps

Are you geek enough for Linux? Though it first earned a reputation as a platform for hobbyists and hackers, Linux has come a long way since Linus Torvalds cobbled together the first kernel as a student project. A modern Linux desktop is a sophisticated, user-friendly GUI environment, with features and applications to rival any proprietary OS. In fact, when compared to the mainstream alternatives, there are lots of compelling reasons to give Linux a try:

Seven reasons why your software is so slow

In terms of computing power, we've come a long way since 1981. Today's average desktop CPU is more than 600 times faster than that of the original IBM PC. Throw in blazing-fast graphics cards, mind-boggling amounts of RAM, multimegabit network connections, and hard drives that spin faster than a Ferrari engine, and you've got a machine that's powerful beyond the imaginings of the original PC pioneers.

Chip advances leave developers in the dust

Ever since Gordon Moore's 1965 proclamation in Electronics Magazine, we've come to expect processing power to double every two years. So why don't the latest CPUs seem significantly faster than those made even five years ago? Has the lease on Moore's Law run out? Or has the science of silicon left software developers in the lurch?