Review: Reddit Enhancement Suite makes Reddit browsing easier and more pleasant

Mark O'Neill , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Expatriate Scotsman now living in Wurzburg, Germany, freelance writer, frustrated future bestselling author, obsessed bibliophile. Other interests include trying to understand The Architect in the Matrix movies, decrypting codes and ciphers, and trying to persuade my landlord and my wife to let me have a Highland Cow for a pet.
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Reddit may be the site of the moment, but its design looks like something from the 1990s. Open-source donationware Reddit Enhancement Suite can bring Reddit's look and functionality into the 21st century. RES provides you with a set of features that enhance the user interface on reddit.com. This browser plugin is available for Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and Safari (but not Internet Explorer).

Reddit Enhancement Suite includes features from any longtime Reddit user's wish list.

Highlights include a "neverending" Reddit page, on which the next page automatically loads as you get to the end of the current page, and the ability to subscribe to discussions. The latter is invaluable if you make a lot of comments and want to be notified when people reply to them.

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Review: Clownfish for Skype translates as you type

Mark O'Neill , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Expatriate Scotsman now living in Wurzburg, Germany, freelance writer, frustrated future bestselling author, obsessed bibliophile. Other interests include trying to understand The Architect in the Matrix movies, decrypting codes and ciphers, and trying to persuade my landlord and my wife to let me have a Highland Cow for a pet.
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Not everyone in the world speaks the same language, so what do you do when you meet someone on Skype whose native language is not l'Anglais? Simple. Use the free Clownfish for Skype add-on.

Clownfish is a translator that integrates itself into Skype and instantly translates every chat message said between you and the other person. The speed is admirable, but the accuracy less so. When I tested it with my wife, who is German, she told me the German translations were not that great.

This exposes the limited usefulness of online translators in general. Machines can only understand so much, and they don't really do context. It's not bad for getting the gist of some marketing copy, but don't depend upon it to translate those rocket science manuals or bomb defusion instructions.

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Review: Convert video to many formats with Sorenson Squeeze 9

Jon L. Jacobi Jon Jacobi, PCWorld

Jon L. Jacobi has worked with computers since you flipped switches and punched cards to program them. He studied music at Juilliard, and now he power-mods his car for kicks.
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If you're looking for a video transcoding product to compress your vacation vids, look to something other than the ultra-competent, but extremely pricey Sorenson Squeeze 9. If however, you're a busy professional who needs to produce video in a variety of formats in the shortest possible time, Squeeze is what you're looking for.  It's a fast, comprehensive, extensible, and highly configurable transcoder. The client program comes in three flavors: a $799 standard version, a $999 pro version, and a $2000 server version.

Sorenson Squeeze 9's interface sports a host of minor improvements and some color to break things up, but it didn't need a lot of help in the first place. Here you see the side-by-side preview with a B&W filter engaged on the left.

New to Squeeze 9 are support for HTML 5, an improved video preview window with side-by-side preview, a slightly improved interface…and more speed. The company claims three- to six-fold improvements, depending on the output codecs involved—and Squeeze supports a lot of those—from Main Concepts h.264 to Ogg Theora, and just about everything in-between. Also new is pre- and post-roll video for advertising headers or tags. Closed captioning support now includes EIA-608 or EIA-708 and Quicktime timecode is now passed through. The Adobe Premiere plug-in has also been updated.

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Review: OmniPage 18 Standard has great OCR and page reconstruction

Jon L. Jacobi Jon Jacobi, PCWorld

Jon L. Jacobi has worked with computers since you flipped switches and punched cards to program them. He studied music at Juilliard, and now he power-mods his car for kicks.
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OmniPage 18 Standard ($150) equals Acrobat XI at outputting Word files and editable PDFs, and it also does a very good job of extracting pure text. By default, it's a tad aggressive at rotating images trying to find text to extract. However, you can disable this behavior in the settings dialog.

OmniPage features the side-by-side comparison editing of all types of files that Acrobat's lacks, and its interface is bit more flexible than Abbyy FineReader's, allowing you to arrange the various panes in more ways. OmniPage, like Acrobat, also provides a batch manager for automating multiple jobs.

By default, Omnipage 18 Standard is a tad aggressive about rotating images. But you can turn this behavior off, and it did a bang-up job making an editable version of my high-school yearbook.
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Review: Nextly brings together the best of RSS, social networks, and Web browsing

Yaara Lancet Contributor, PCWorld

Yaara is a foodie, horse-lover, and biologist who enjoys being a geek as a full-time job.
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Google Reader is dead. It changed forever the way we read our news, and it's gone for good, leaving the arena open for other players to attempt the same feats. Nextly, an innovative reading app based on streams, takes regular RSS feeds, strips them of everything that's annoying about the format, and provides a new reading experience that combines RSS with regular website browsing and social-network surfing.

Nextly turns any webpage or feed into a stream you can easily browse through.
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Review: Instagram Explorer puts Instagram on display in Windows 8

Liane Cassavoy , PCWorld

Liane Cassavoy is a veteran technology and business journalist. She contributes regularly to PCWorld and has written about business issues and products for Entrepreneur Magazine and other publications. She is the author of two business start-up guides published by Entrepreneur Press.
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You may think an Instagram app that doesn't allow you to take pictures would be kind of pointless...but Instagram Explorer, a Windows 8 app for the Modern user interface, has plenty of potential. Using it is not unlike browsing through the Instagram.com site, but Instagram Explorer brings that experience to Windows 8's alternative view.

Pretty pictures look even prettier on a big screen.

Instagram Explorer's default view is to display your live feed, much like when you visit Instagram.com. It's a nice change to view some of the gorgeous photos you can find on Instagram on a bigger screen. It's also easier to comment on photos when you're using the spacious real estate of a Windows 8 desktop or laptop, and the comment field is more prominently displayed here than it is on Instagram.com.

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Review: Abbyy FineReader 11 Professional Edition does clean OCR and is easy to use

Jon L. Jacobi Jon Jacobi, PCWorld

Jon L. Jacobi has worked with computers since you flipped switches and punched cards to program them. He studied music at Juilliard, and now he power-mods his car for kicks.
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Anyone who's purchased a multifunction printer or scanner recently will probably recognize the name FineReader, as the Sprint version ships with many such products. Obviously, there are deals being made, but there's no questioning that the program also does a very nice job of OCR. Text extraction is great, though it's not quite as good at recreating complex documents in Word and RTF files as Acrobat or OmniPage.

Abbyy FineReader 11 Professional ($170, 15-day free trial) is straightforward and easy to use. The main window shows a list of images in a column to the far left, the image being processed in a pane next to it, and the OCR'd text and elements in a pane on the right side. This side-by-side arrangement, shared with OmniPage Standard 18, makes it super-easy to spot mistakes and compare page elements.

Abbyy FineReader 11 Professional's easy-to-understand interface makes it easy to use even if you're new to OCR.
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