Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New iBloglines for iPhone

My RSS Reader of choice is Bloglines. This is a web aggregator, which allows me to read feeds anywhere, so that I can keep track of what I read both at home and in the office. Another very good reason for me to use a web reader is that I can easily read feeds of blocked websites.

Bloglines is considered an old service, especially compared to the new web2.0 Google Reader or Rojo. However it does what I need to do and I so am used to it that I find it hard to change.

Now Bloglines has a released a new version of their reader for iphone: iBloglines. This site actually looks very cool web2.0-like, even in my Firefox (don't have an iPhone) and it even feels faster.

I'd be curious to know how it works on the iPhone. Anyway, good job.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Good-bye Veronica Belmont

I listened to Buzz Out Loud #521, the last one with Veronica Belmont and I must say at the end it was very sad. I actually really liked that episode, I felt all hosts were very funny and had great chemistry, even more than usual.

I also liked the various clips that they played, the first few appearances by Veronica (which I missed, since I only joined about a year ago). But the best clip was the one at the end, a sort of blooper reel featuring Veronica, only it contained actual clips from the podcast, which makes it even funnier.

As I said a very funny episode, but a very sad ending. Tom said it himself, he didn't know how to end it. I think he even choked at the end, did he? I know Veronica and Molly did, when I heard their last "bye". I must admit I was teary when I heard that.

Anyway, it is really the end of an era. I wasn't a huge fan of the podcast, I didn't read the forum, never wrote an email, never called the voice mail. But I listened everyday for the past year, so obviously I was attached to listening to Veronica. I also watched a few of her videos, and she really worked great in front of the camera. So I am glad that she will now be the host of a video show of her own. I will surely be tuning in for her new venture at Mahalo.

I will surely miss her on BOL, but I can't wait for her new show.

Friday, July 13, 2007

New Google Docs & Spreadsheet Doc List

In June, Google released the new doc list for its Docs application. Unfortunately this new version has removed many of the main features that I used GDS for. One feature that I don't believe a lot of people care about is blogging to Wordpress.com.

Since Wordpress.com is blocked where I live, I used GDS to post to my ibcfilm.wordpress.com blog. It was very useful because the tags in GDS would map to Wordpress categories, but it doesn't seem to work anymore. I hope this is just a glitch and not a conscious decision to eliminate this feature. Without this feature my usage of GDS would decrease by 90%.

Other problems with this new version:

- The "Save & Close" button on a file editing window does not close the window anymore. It just goes back to the doc list, which was already open in a previous window, so now I have two of them. A solution would be to have tabs for each document.
- "Add to Folder" does not have scroll bar or "New Folder". So if I have a long list of folders I cannot scroll down to add it to the file. This is a huge bug.
- Archive button is gone. They say they will bring it back, but in the meantime I really miss it.
- Different sorting options (name, folder/sharing...) are not available anymore.

To me tags and folders are completely different concepts, so I do not like that my tags are now folders. For example I add as many tags to a file that would describe that document to me, so that it is easier to view these documents in different categories with other docs of the
same type. Folders are just a way to file these docs, but I don't want a huge list of folders all on one level. I always try to reduce the number of folders on the same level, and create as many sub folders as possible.

I would have preferred the introduction of folders as separate from tags. Why not keep both? If you are afraid that people get confused, then put it somewhere in the settings, so that more advanced users can decide which one to use (or both).

I must say this is the first time I am disappointed by a Google release. Hopefully the old version will be brought back (as an option for whoever wants it) or changes will be made to the new one. At this point I am forced to look for alternatives, at least for my blogging needs.

Friday, February 16, 2007

iPhone Obsession

I haven't been writing here for a long time, I guess I haven't gotten into the habit of posting here. Not much has happened that caught my attention, except for one thing: the Apple iPhone. I wasn't very interested in it before it was announced, I just don't care much about either cellphones or PDA/smartphones. I was more interested in a widescreen iPod Video.

When the iPhone was announced I looked at the Apple website and I was kind of interested, since it included the widescreen video functionality. However, once I managed to watch Jobs' entire keynote I was blown away.

Yes, it was partly Jobs' ability as a presenter, but the product itself was impressive. It really felt like a gadget from the future. A true touchscreen phone/video/audio/internet device. I have already decided that I will buy an iPhone sooner or later in my life.

It is only scheduled to come out next year here in Asia, and once it really comes out in US in June it might get bad reviews. But once they have a stable product in Asia I will get one. I haven't been buying mobile phones for 4 years, so by the time the iPhone is available I will have saved 5 years of phone purchase.

I don't care how much it costs, I don't care that I don't really need it, actually I don't need it at all. I want it. I am obssessed by it, so much that I actually dreamed about it. And sometimes I catch myself thinking of ways it would useful to me.

For example, if I am away from home for a long time, I could use the iPhone to surf and check my e-mails instead of using the crappy hotel computer, or having to bring a laptop (which I don't have). Or while travelling I could watch a movie or TV show in a decent sized widescreen device.
I just obsess about it very often. Can I wait for next year? I think once it is out in US I will go insane!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Google Docs & Spreadsheets on Opera

Opera is a great browser, but unfortunately it does not work with many of the web 2.0 sites. Google services in particular seem to ignore Opera.

However it is possible to use Google Docs & Spreadsheet in Opera, with some tweaks:

- Browse to docs.google.com. It will tell you that you cannot use this browser.
- Right click on the page and go to "Edit site preferences..."
- In the "Network" tab, choose "Mark as Internet Explorer" for the "Browser identification".

Once you load the doc list, click on a spreadsheet and repeat the same steps for spreadsheets.google.com.

It works ok, some things look bad, but the main functionalities are there. However, one huge problem: you cannot edit docs, only view them. Spreadsheets are fine.

Hopefully the soon to be released Opera 9.1 will solve this problem.

For the moment I am still using Firefox.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Writely + Google Spreadsheets = Google Docs & Spreadsheets

Today I found out that Google combined Writely and Spreadsheets. I haven't seen this announced anywhere, but I might have missed it. The new service is now called Google Docs & Spreadsheets (from now on GDS). I wonder why don't they just call it Google Office, it is much easier!!

Being a user of both Writely and Google Spreadsheets, I will write down the main differences I have noted in the hour I've been using the new GDS.

GDS now uses Writely's file manager to list both docs and spreadsheets. I am really happy about this, since I was missing this on the old Spreadsheets. All the main actions remain: tag, delete, archive, star, delete. The old Writely design has been changed to match all other Google services, and the Writely brand is nowhere to be seen. So we can assume that the Writely aquisition is complete.

Following are some minor changes/bugs:
  • When trying to assign/remove tag to files, the tag list is not complete. However if you click on the Browse D&S button it will show all my tags. I am sure this will be rectified in the future.
  • There is an unarchive button that I don't think was in Writely. Usually active docs are those modified in the last 30 days. Older files are archived. The unarchive button simply changes the timestamp of a file to "7 hours ago" and bumps it up to the active list. This doesn't seem an elegant way to do this, I wish they could come up with something better, but for the moment it works.
  • It is now possible to save any file as PDF. I tried saving a spreadsheet but it didn't look very good. Maybe I have to play with the settings.
  • Not sure if this is new, but it is now possible to open gmail attachments with GDS, which is a very nice integration of services.
  • Posting to a blog works as well as before, even updating the post. I tried updating with Writely but it didn't work in the past.
There are probably other things, but I haven't found them yet. What's missing is blogging to Blogger Beta, and setting up multiple blogs.

Overall I am very happy with this change, it still needs some bug fixing and important features, but this is already a great product. Next step: presentation files?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

GoogleTube is here!

So it is finally confirmed: Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction.

I think this is a good thing for YouTube, since they were burning bandwidth money while not having a clear business plan. But with Google backing them now, they will have the freedom to develop their platform and improve their services.

On the other hand, I hope Google has a plan for YouTube. Maybe their ad plan will work with it, I hope so for them. In the meantime I am just glad that I can keep using YouTube for the forseeable future.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Google Reader? no, Bloglines!

I have many RSS feeds to read daily, so I used a web aggregator to read them. I chose a web and not a desktop aggregator because I wanted to read them both at home and at work, and I also cannot install programs at work. Not to mention that if I install a program which downloads feeds every hour I would skyrocket to the top of internet users in my company and flagged by IT (which actually happened to me, when I used Opera for a little while, so dumb!!).

So my aggregator of choice is Bloglines. It really does everything I need, even though it might not be the best one. I tried Rojo and Newsgator, but I couldn't get their feed display. So I always stuck with Bloglines, even though it seemed to lag behind the web 2.0 revolution.

Last week Google Reader was revamped, and it seemed very attractive to me. The new interface was very cool, and almost similar to what I was used on Bloglines. And it was very fast. I almost decided to switch to it and have one more Google application (after Writely, Spreadsheet, Gmail, and this blog). However for some reason it wouldn't load at work. I could log in and see the main Reader page, but my feeds weren't loading.

Plus, on the same day I tried Reader, Bloglines comes up with its own little changes, which were actually nice enough to convince me to stay with them. The main change was an ajaxy left pane which containes the feeds tree. Previously it was normal html, so whenever the left pane was refreshed it was reloaded completely. Now if there are new posts, the left pane simply updates the post count, without reloading the whole frame.

I will always monitor what Google Reader and others introduce in the future, but for the momet I am happy with Bloglines.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

R.I.P. EvokeTV

EvokeTV was a great TV listing site. You could rate your shows/episodes, and get a feed of all your favorite shows, that would update before each episode's showing. It was a wonderful tool to help keep track of new episodes.

Notice I use the past, since it was just announced in their blog that EvokeTV is no more.

This is very sad for me, and just as the TV season is starting. I hope either they can continue their site in the future, or someone else creates a new site. I can't believe this isn't used by everyone.