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FireFound – Firefox Add-On to Find Stolen Computers

This website lets you get a free download of FireFound which is an add-on for the Firefox browser, and also the mobile version Fennec. It helps you locate your computer or mobile phone if they get lost or stolen. It works by sending a secure message to a central server each time your computer or mobile phone are moved to give the location, and you can log into the server and check up on them at any time. The geolocation data is approximate so the police need to be involved in tracking the equipment more precisely. The website warns not to try to retrieve it yourself.

The location data is encrypted and can’t be accessed by anyone without your password. If you realise your computer or mobile phone have been taken you can alert police and also clear your browsing history so that the thieves can’t access your private and financial information. FireFound can also alert you if your computer or mobile phone have been moved, so you would know quickly if anybody else had taken them. The code for the server is open source, so you could also run your own FireFound server.


Blabbelon – High Quality Voice Communication Online

The moment I saw a description of Blabbelon I could see it was a service I’ve been looking for, so it should prove useful to others. Blabbelon allows users to talk to others, either individually or as a group, no matter what they’re doing on the internet at that time. They might be involved in a virtual world game or conducting professional business, or perhaps using the internet for a distance learning course and workshop.

Isn’t that just like Skype, you might ask. Well, in a lot of ways it is, but one major difference is that you don’t have to download software and adjust the settings to get it started. With Blabbelon you could quickly direct people to the website where they can log in with their email address to receive a password, and you can start the communication almost immediately.

Once you’ve registered you can invite your contacts by email to join Blabbelon and add them to any ‘Blabs’ you want to set up. Afterwards you can also add contacts using their Blabbelon name. To talk to them you use a hot key, the default is the right Control key but you can change it, or you click on a Talk button with your mouse. Discussion can continue while you browse other websites or carry on with your game, and if you don’t want to join in by talking you can also use text. One of the main difficulties with voice communication online is that everybody talks at once, or two people talk over each other. With Blabbelon you can only talk while you hold the button, and as you release it another person takes a turn.

Although I couldn’t test it, as I need to add contacts first, I can see it will prove useful to me based on the website statements. Apart from the ease of getting started, which I really need when I suddenly want to have a group discussion for distance learning workshops, I would value the push-button approach to stop people talking at the same time. Blabbelon also promises high quality sound, which would be invaluable when I need to film a meeting or performance. The high-definition sound quality uses technology called Silk created by Skype. The website describes SILK as a ‘super wideband audio codec that delivers optimized voice clarity while minimizing internet bandwidth needs.’ While people like me would use this for a small group, it could also be used for hundreds or even thousands simultaneously, according to Blabbelon. Future plans include Blabbelon for the iphone and other mobile/cellphones.


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