Archive for Web 2.0

A day in the life of the Internet

// December 11th, 2009 // No Comments » // Featured, Tech Culture, The InterWeb Thingy, Web 2.0

This long graphic put’s the size and impact of the Internet into perspective. How can you look at this and not see the potential. Little if any of it existed 20 years ago. It is both humbling and exciting at the same time.

A Day in the Internet
Created by Online Education

Mozilla’s Ubiquity is a great concept

// November 18th, 2009 // No Comments » // Collaboration, Cool Tech, Featured, Tech for the masses, Web 2.0

If you don’t use Firefox for web browsing, this probably won’t be of much use to you. On the other hand, if you don’t use Firefox for browsing… why not try it. OK, enough on that…. here’s the real intent of this article.

It may be old news to some, but I recently discovered the Ubiquity Project from Mozilla. What is it? Well the best way to understand that is to view the introductory video below:

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

If you didn’t watch the video… Ubiquity is a natural language based command interface that allows techies and non-techies alike, to create instant mashups as they browse and work on the web.

Although it’s integration with other web sites and web apps is still limited, it is conceptually a great idea, and the list of commands is growing everyday. I find my self using the easy twitter update and weather update constantly. I use the translate command daily as well. It also makes for quick short cuts to almost every web based utility out there, be it Google, Wikipedia or Youtube, etc…

If you use Gmail, you can really do some cool mashup, quite easily, but I wouldn’t make that a reason to switch to Gmail if you are happy with what you are using for Email. Now, if someone smarter than I builds an interface to Google Wave, then the possibilities will be endless.

My search for a Paperless Business Card

// October 9th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Collaboration, Featured, IT Professionalism, Web 2.0

I remember, somewhat fondly, my first PDA (the original Palm). It had an Infrared port that allowed you to “beam” your business card to another similarly equipped Palm devices. I remember thinking, this is great, this will spell the end of paper business cards. Well, too many years later, we are still a drift in a sea of paper business cards.

OK, my Palm example was fraught with problems. First you had to find someone with a an IR enabled Palm, then they had to have the IR enabled, they had to have pre-setup their business card in their contacts, and then you had to get them physically pretty close to make it work. I quickly abandoned my use of beaming business card and went back to the old school paper cards.

Well, the other day I said to myself, surely there has got to be some better options available today, and so I went on the hunt for a simple, yet easily distributable, virtual (paperless) business card.

My criteria was simple, what I wanted was:

  1. Need to be able to store my particulars (for free)… duh
  2. Need to easily be able to share it with people
  3. Would be nice if the recipient didn;t have to manually re-enter my data
  4. Was cool enough that those I gave it to might be interested in trying themselves
  5. Elegant

Of all the options out there, here are the ones I tested (in no particular order):

  • Card.ly
    Card.ly is trying to be the bit.ly of the virtual business card world. Here is a link to my card.ly business card. Although the interface is slick and I am happy with the appearance of the final product, it took me quite a bit of time fiddling with the settings to make it all fit within the displayed card (initially, it ran over and looked like crap). They also don’t have a field for your Title, although they do have the ability to add your own fields. In the end, to make it look nice, I ended up having to put my title and company name within the address box, which of course makes the download able Vcard useless for someone trying to load my info into their contacts automagically.
    Rating: Doesn’t fit the bill (or the Bill for that matter).
  • DUB Dubmenow.com
    This was one of the easiest to setup and worked as advertised. However, there is no way to share this card in a URL. You need to send an Email, or use a downloadable Blackberry app to it to your recipient. When your new contact gets the link, it asks them to sign up to DUB in order to store your info in their contact list. It’s too bad, because if they had my card URLable, I probably would have liked this the best.
    Rating: Fail…. don’t force the people I send it to, to sign up for the service!
  • Hoocard
    This was by far the coolest bizcard setup I tried, but they fall short in a couple of areas. Most notably, it doesn’t appear to be supported by anyone. Following their Contact link, took me to a page that gave me another link to go to, which when I went there, told me they had merged with someone else. In the end it was just too difficult to find an email address where I could send a simple question.
    Having said that, one of the cool things about Hoocard is that you can set up multiple business cards (ie: one business and one personal) and send which ever one is situationally appropriate. They have an interesting delivery mechansim as well. They give you a unique hoocard.com email address for each card you setup. To send someone your info, you address an Email to that unique hoocard email address, and enter the recipients email address in the subject line, and hit send. The recipient receives an email which contains the graphical representation of my business card, and an attached Vcard so they can load it into their contacts.
    No where on the site does it show you a direct URL to your card, but I managed to figure it out. Here is a link to my business Hoocard and my personal Hoocard.
    Rating: Does the job, I like the multiple card options, but I don’t like having to hunt for the URL
  • BusinessCard2
  • BusinessCard2 is by far the most professional of the group and is very simple and easy to use. Although they lack the fancy “send” options of some other players, it sets up an easily rememberable URL and does have the option to email the link to your intended recipient. Unfortunately, it only allows you one email address per profile/card, and I originally used my personal email, but entered my company info. So now I have 2 cards, one for work and one personal.. Here is personal BusinessCard2 card and here is my work one.
    After all my testing, this is the one I’ve landed on as my default online business card. It was easy to setup and is easily distributable. Just send your intended recipient the URL and they can go to the site and view your card as well as download a Vcard. The one thing I’d like to see them change though would be to send the actual Vcard with the email that contains the link, so save the recipient the extra step.
    Rating: Best of the lot
  • Do it yourself option
    Just for fun, I tried a little do it yourself project. I found a cool looking WordPress theme that did one thing and one thing only…. present your info in a cool way. Here is a link to my DIY Card.
    Although somewhat cool, it has the drawback of not having a downloadable Vcard. I suppose I could build one and insert a link, but…. meh…. I’lll stick with BusinessCard2 for now.
    Rating: Cool now that I have done it, but too much work if you are looking to do it yourself.

So, from this point forward, I will be sending people my paperless card rather than giving them a real one.

Make what you read on the Web actually readable

// August 14th, 2009 // No Comments » // Cool Tech, Featured, Web 2.0

OK, I admit it, I am a StumbleUpon addict… and I admit that you need to stumble through an awful lot of crap before you stumble upon a gem, but today I did just that!

There is a site called arc90 lab, which has put together several download-able experiments, one called Readability, caught my eye. It very elegantly solves one of the most frustrating aspects of trying to read something on the Web. Namely, that the article you are trying to read is surrounded with a bunch of noise, some of it static text in bold eye catching colours and others in animations or videos, all with the same purpose… “come look at me”.

By Simply adding the Readbility link to your links tool bar, you can eliminate the noise on any site you site by simply clicking the link. Here is a video showing it in action.

Readability : An Arc90 Lab Experiment from Arc90 on Vimeo.

Cool stuff, enjoy!

Let’s get together and feel alright!

// May 15th, 2009 // No Comments » // Collaboration, Featured, Tech for the masses, Web 2.0

OK, so this post has nothing at all to do with IT or technology….. or does it? The video below is powerful on a multitude of levels….

  1. Powerful message — One Love… unite the world !
  2. Powerful music — Who doesn’t like Bob Marley?
  3. Powerful demonstration of collaboration — People from all over the world, singing and playing in unison. But you know to make it look as seamless as it does, there were a lot of people collaborating for many hours to produce those few minutes.
  4. Powerful demonstration of Technology — Something like this would not have been possible just a few years ago, unless you had millions of dollars to spend.

Glimpse the future and the power of collaboration. It’s going to change the world, and this video encapsulates the how and the why!
Enjoy

Presdo – digitation… simple, smart scheduling

// April 25th, 2008 // No Comments » // Email, Web 2.0

I stumbled upon the really cool web 2.0 scheduling tool, called Presdo. What’s so cool about this app is that it is simple and it does exactly what it says it does. It has a very simple Google-esque user interface, where, using natural language, you tell it what you want to schedule (ie: a meeting, lunch, bring the car in for service, etc…). Click the button and it presents you with it’s interpretation of what you entered, translated into dates, places and/or people. If all is well, you can hit another button to add it to your calendar!

This is a great example of what web 2.0 application should be. Nothing fancy and does one thing really well.

So… you say, why would I want to use this when I can just open a new calendar entry in my Email/Calendar software. Well, my dear naysayers, it comes down to less navigation, fewer keystrokes/mouse clicks, and you have to think less.

For Example, say I wanted to schedule a lunch with Mickey Mouse next Tuesday at noon, at Pluto’s Bar & Grill.

To put that into Outlook, you would have to:

  1. Bring up the calendar
  2. Navigate to next Tuesday on the calendar
  3. Click on or about the day to bring up the calendar entry form.
  4. Enter the subject “Lunch with Mickey Mouse”
  5. Tab over to the Location field and enter “Pluto’s”
  6. Tab over to the time boxes and adjust the time, if necessary
  7. Click save and send

To do the same with Presdo, you would just:

  1. Go to www.presdo.com
  2. Enter “lunch with Mickey Mouse next Tuesday at noon, at Pluto’s” and Clcik on the “Do!” button
  3. Verify everything is OK (and it will be) on the screen that pops up and click Save to Calendar button
  4. Choose your calendar type
  5. Click save on the pre-populated Outlook Calendar Entry form (if that’s the email type you chose)

If you wanted to send an invite to Mickey, you could either have put his Email in the text, or clicked on the enter email link that shows up.

It’s not so much the fewer steps, but the ease by which everything I expected to happen, happened without me navigating and deciding what goes into each field.

In any case, I’d recommend you take it for a spin.

Anyone out there find something better or equal to the task?

A little dabble will do ya

// September 28th, 2007 // No Comments » // Collaboration, The Long Tail, Web 2.0

I recently stumbled upon a cool web 2.0 application called dabbledb. As the name might suggest, it’s an online database. So what you say, DBs are everywhere. The difference here is that for a very low price (free if you don’t mind other people seeing your data), you can house a number of databases and build an application interface which can link data from one DB to another. You can import data from almost anything that you can get into a CSV or Excel file. With Excel it’s a simple drag and drop, and dabble automatically figures out field (column) names, and creates picklists from repetitive data.

Essentially you can easily build your own web application and share it with almost anyone. This would be a great option for companies (or departments within companies) that need to have multiple people update Excel spreadsheets, or that have someone consolidating spreadsheets completed by multiple individuals. Why not create the spreadsheet in Dabble and have everyone access it in one place.

Dabbledb is not yet a competitor to a professionally developed database application, but it’s plugin capabilities will allow you, given enough time and creativity, to do almost any data manipulation you could dream of.

This is definitely something to keep in your arsenal of tools. You can try it out, free for a month with their special promotion that is on now.

What’s in a name… try $350 Million

// September 26th, 2007 // 4 Comments » // Collaboration, Email, Web 2.0

Yahoo recently purchased Zimbra for $350 million. This a great example of good things happening to good products. For those who don’t know, Zimbra is an open source Email, Calendar and file collaboration suite that is simply amazing. They have an AJAX based UI that is simple, elegant and IMHO knocks the socks off of Outlook. This package has everything, from simple administration to sophisticated add-on (called Zimlets) that expand functionality.

Last year, I was researching Email options and took a very serious look at Zimbra and was very impressed by what I discovered. There are similar Open Source products for Email, such as Scalix but for my money, I think Zimbra has a slight edge.

I’ve looked at apps like Zimbra and Scalix as Exchange killers, and indeed they are. However, what Yahoo has done with this move is potentially a Google Apps (or at least Gmail) killer. As an avid user of Gmail and Gmail calendars, I can say with confidence that the Zimbra interface blows gmail away. In fact, I don’t use the Gmail web interface if I could help it, I use my Outlook client, as it efficiently married my Email, Contacts (which I use a lot), and Calendars in to one nice interface. I use Outlook because there is nothing better out there, that is until now. If I could get the Zimbra UI on my Yahoo mail, I’d switch from Google in a heart beat.

So as much as this is good news for both Yahoo and the folks at Zimbra who are now suddenly a lot richer, this is great news for the internet community as a whole. It’s free enterprise at it’s best and positions Yahoo to provide real competition to the Google quasi-monopoly. What would make it even more interesting is if MSN where to scoop up Scalix and be a 3rd contender. Or why not have the tail wag the dog and have Scalix acquire or partner with  some of the Office 2.0 companies out there and be the 3rd alternative.