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Daily Digest

Snap Any Window to Half the Screen syncing, of course, but it is guaranteed to work with-
Size in Windows 7 [Windows 7 out any significant effort on your part aside from car-
Screencast] rying around a thumb drive. Option 2: Sync Portable
You can take the portable idea one step further with
We’re on a Windows 7 screencast bender! You’ve free syncing tools like Dropbox. Just download and
already seen Windows 7’s Aero Shake and Peek features install Dropbox on every computer you want to sync
today, but another useful drag-and-dropper is the abil- Firefox to, then download Portable Firefox and store
ity to resize any window to half the size of your monitor it in your Dropbox folder. Dropbox will automatically
and dock it to the left or right side of the screen. In an sync to Portable Firefox to the Dropbox folders on your
earlier screencast you saw that dragging a window to other computers. Since the whole point of Portable
the top of the screen maximizes it. Following that, if Firefox is that it can live anywhere, and it doesn’t re-
you drag a window all the way to the left or the right quire any specific folders outside of itself, every change
of the screen, Windows 7 will display a glass overlay you make on one computer should automatically sync
on the desktop. Let go of the mouse button and it to all of your other Portable Firefox installs on the rest
will snap the window onto that overlay, which is half of your computers. As long as you aren’t using Firefox
the screen’s sizemdash;a handy helper for widescreen on two computers at the same time, everything should
monitor owners. Hit the play button above to see this run flawlessly. With two Portable Firefoxes running si-
in actionmdash;apologies for not including the half-size multaneously, you may run into the occasional conflict-
docking action in the earlier clip. mdash;though even then it’s rarely a major problem.
Finally, since Dropbox syncs to the web as well as your
desktop, this setup as two more benefits. First, both
computers don’t need to be running at the same time
How Can I Sync My Firefox to perform the sync. Instead, whenever one computer
Installations? [Ask Lifehacker] turns on, it’ll automatically sync up to the latest ver-
sion from the web. Second, if you’re ever at a computer
Dear Lifehacker, I have Firefox installed on three that isn’t yours, you can navigate to the Dropbox web
separate computers, and I find it difficult to keep the interface and download your customized Portable Fire-
same Add Ons/Preferences synchronized between all fox to any computer. That way you can have your per-
three machines. Is there an automated way to synchro- fectly personalized browser no matter where you are,
nize my Firefox installation between all three machines? then delete it when you’re done. Option 3: Sync Ap-
In other words, if I add a new Add-on or Greasemon- plication Data If the Portable Firefox route doesn’t ap-
key script to one Firefox installation, can it be auto- peal to you, you can still sync Firefox installationsm-
matically added to my installation on my two other dash;extensions and allmdash;by syncing your applica-
machines? Signed, Three Firefoxes, One User Dearest tion data with FolderShare or a similar syncing tool.
TFOU, This has been the holy grail of Firefox needs (Dropbox isn’t ideal for this one because it doesn’t let
since Firefox extensibility turned us all into tweaking you choose multiple folders anywhere on your desktop
junkies. You can already use tools like Foxmarks or to sync, while FolderShare does.) I’ve walked step by
Mozilla Weave to sync bookmarks, passwords, and a step through this process in detail once before, so I
little bit more (with Weave), but unfortunately there won’t go into it here. Like the Dropbox version above,
are no tools built specifically for syncing your exten- you may see the occasional conflict if you sync Fire-
sions in the same seamless manner. So what’s a Firefox fox this way. I hope that helps, TFOU. It’s still not
lover to do? As it turns out, there are several ways you perfect, and we’re all waiting patiently for the day that
can go about syncing Firefox so that you’ve got the ex- one Firefox extension takes care of all our browser sync-
act same browsermdash;history, extension, bookmarks, ing needs, but in the meantime, one of these methods
passwords, and allmdash;no matter where you’re work- should do. If anyone has other suggestions for how they
ing. Option 1: Go Portable Probably the easiest option keep their Firefox installations in sync, let’s hear them
is to download Portable Firefox, toss it on your thumb in the comments. Love, Lifehacker
drive, and take it with you everywhere you go. It’s not

Thoroughly Invade Someone’s Privacy And every six months, without fail, users looking to
with 123people [People Search] download a new CD or upgrade their systems slam the servers, leaving many with huge download
People search engine aggregates search waits, and users just trying to grab the latest updates
results from several different sources online mdash; and in the lurch. Save yourself the cyclical grief, and save
off. Simply enter a person’s name, a city or zip code, Ubuntu’s developers some hosting costs, by switching
and 123people will display search results from social to mirror servers for updates. Universities and Linux
networks, telephone listings, web pages, Wikipedia and groups around the world are happy to dish out the lat-
the like. A quick search on my likely new representa- est system updates, which are mirrored hastily from
tive in city government, David Chiu, turned up some Ubuntu’s servers, and you’ll probably get better speeds
good candidates for his home address and phone num- finding a nearby host. Upgrade to 3
ber, and certainly found plenty of photos on Flickr and Ubuntu sticks to a rigid release schedules, so the latest
web sites and articles related to his recent campaign (as version, 8.10, had to wrap up its software picks before
well as plenty of information about David Chiu, com- the OpenOffice project could finalize its 3.0 version.
petitive poker player and others). Potentially creepy? Luckily, it’s not too hard to put the latest open-source
Yes. Potentially useful? Also yes. As with our tips office suite on your desktop, either as a replacement for
on how to track down anyone online, Lifehacker cannot the 2.x default or next to it. The Tombuntu blog de-
be held responsible in the event you’re slapped with a tails the steps, which require only a minimal bit of com-
restraining order. mand line work. Back up your home folder The ”home”
folder in Linux, found at /home/yourusername, is more
than just a stash for MP3s and cat pictures. In hidden
files (named with a . at the start) and specific fold-
Five Tweaks for Your New Ubuntu ers, it’s where most applications keep your preferences,
Desktop [Linux] data files, and other customizations. Having a backup
With the recent release of the popular Linux distro of your home folder is pretty crucial to reinstalling a
Ubuntu’s 8.10 version, code-named Intrepid Ibex, we’ve system that went bad, making painless upgrades, and
recently detailed some productive-minded Ubuntu Kung generally feeling better about your stability. You can
Fu, as well as a user-minded tour through 8.10. This kick it old-school with rsync or hook up an external
morning, though, we’re taking a more nuts-and-bolts hard drive, but the recently-opened Dropbox makes it
look at changes you can make to your newly-installed seriously easy and automatic to back up the home folder
system to make it faster, reliable, and more enjoyable with a native client application. BONUS: Install Win-
from the inside out. Read on for five tweaks that any dows fonts and multimedia codecs Because of its open-
Ubuntu user (or Linux user in general) should consider source ideals and licensing, Ubuntu can’t include non-
making to get started on the right foot. Disable or open codecs like MP3s, WMA/WMV, or DVD play-
throttle back Tracker indexing Installed and running back by default. Getting it all working, though, isn’t
by default on Ubuntu desktops, Tracker is an actually too hard. Head over to the Medibuntu site, and fol-
handy search tool that’s placed, Spotlight-style, in the low the instructions for ”Playing Encrypted DVDs” and
upper-right taskbar, giving you quick access to files and ”Playing Non-Native Media Formats.” So those are a
folders. The only catch is that Tracker eats up a good few things this writer always does when installing a new
bit of processor power to keep itself current, and, de- Ubuntu system, or helping friends install theirs. Let’s
pending on how you use your system, might not be hear our Linux-savvy readers’ hit listsmdash;what are
necessary at all. The How-To Geek walks through the the first steps you always take when setting up your
process of scaling back or disabling Tracker entirely. new system? Share your items, and commands, in the
Looking for a low-power, high-functioning alternative? comments.
Try learning the magic of find. Disable atime to speed
up your hard drive Some older Ubuntu distributions,
and other Linux systems, mount hard drives using an
atime option. The problem, as noted by Linus Tor-
valds himself, is that atime writes to the hard disk
every time a file is accessed to keep up its indexing
records. We’ve detailed how to turn off atime for faster
hard drive access, and newer Ubuntu users can go a bit
further in disabling the replacement relatime as wellm-
dash;but be sure to back up your original /etc/fstab
file, as some applications and services might get cranky
without it. Switch to mirror servers for updates Ev-
ery six months or so, a new version of Ubuntu drops.