TVersity (tested v126.96.36.199 RC3) Media server Developer: TVersity OS: Windows Price: Free Site: http://tversity.com
Last week, Apps We Love featured XBLA , a media library application for PCs and Microsoft Xboxes. The program turns computers into media centers, able to draw music and videos from a wide array of sources on hard drives, local networks and the internet. XBLA isn't available for current-generation consoles like the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, but that's not a major loss because both consoles already function as media centers. It's not quite as simple as plugging them into a home network, however-there's also special software that needs to be installed to turn your computer into a proper media server.
TVersity is a versatile package that makes the process of setting up and running a media server quick and easy. Anyone who's ever added music to a media player application like iTunes will be instantly familiar with TVersity's media library interface. Any files or Internet media feeds added to TVersity will be scanned and made available on the local network. Aside from the occasionally lengthy scanning process, setting up and using the server application is mostly painless.
Where TVersity really shines is in how it handles a wide variety of media formats, and transcodes them to whatever formats your console supports, meaning you don't have to worry about making sure your videos are in the right format. In extensive testing with a PS3, the only files TVersity was unable to handle were Matroska (MKV) videos. From YouTube videos to high-definition content, TVersity can do it all without hassle.
Foxmarks (tested v188.8.131.52) Firefox bookmarks synchronizer Developer: Foxmarks Inc. OS: Windows/Mac/Linux (via Firefox) Price: Free Site: http://www.foxmarks.com
If you use multiple computers, you've likely run into the problem of trying to remember a site you have bookmarked on a computer other than the one you're currently using. Several services have cropped up to deal with this problem, most notably delicious (better known as del.icio.us-they recently dropped the dots in their name). But Foxmarks is a different take on the problem of accessing your bookmarks from many places.
While delicious focuses on the social aspects of bookmarks, like sharing them amongst friends and categorizing sites with tags, the main goal of Foxmarks is the seamless integration of online bookmarks with Firefox. Though you can access Foxmarks bookmarks via the web from any browser, the emphasis is on the addon that allows you to synchronize bookmarks across Firefox install. If you're used to the way Firefox handles your bookmarks and don't really want to learn a new system just to have your bookmarks follow you wherever you go, Foxmarks is perfect.
Another great feature of Foxmarks, though intended strictly for advanced users, is the ability to eschew Foxmarks' own online service for storing bookmarks, and instead save bookmarks to your own server. This single feature is more than enough to recommend Foxmarks to those who like to keep their personal data as private as possible. For everyone else, it's the "just works" features like automatic synchronization and the web-based access (for when Firefox isn't available) that make Foxmarks a must-have.
Google SketchUp (tested Windows v6.4.112) 3D drawing application Developer: Google OS: Windows/Mac Price: Free, $495 USD for Pro Site: http://sketchup.google.com
Here's a dilemma for you: you're moving to a new place, and you want to find out if your furniture will fit. You could eyeball the whole thing or work it out on graph paper, like people have done for decades. Or you could use a computer to build a model of your new place and all your furniture, and make sure it'll all fit. It's for practical concerns like these that SketchUp was originally created.
Designed to be easier to use than industry-strength 3D modeling and animation tools like Maya, SketchUp is an all-purpose 3D modeling tool that can spin out complex three-dimensional models like houses without breaking a sweat. Originally aimed at a professional market, SketchUp now comes in two flavours: the original, retailing for $500, and a free version that retains many of the features. Because SketchUp is so easy to use, the low cost of entry means the world of 3D modeling is open to anyone with a bit of time on their hands.
SketchUp is so named because of the central concept: draw flat shapes, then "pull" them up to make 3D versions of those shapes. It's a very easy system to pick up, though it takes a fair bit of experience to figure out how to make complex models. Not only is the system accessible, it's also satisfying to use. Extruding 3D objects out of nothing feels a bit like playing with magic, so don't be surprised if you start looking for things to lavishly recreate in SketchUp.