In my ongoing quest for the Holy Grail of ToDo lists, I found a site that could just about be the right one. The site is called Stikkit. If you watch the demo you can see the amazing functionality of this software. For example. If you type lunch with Dave tomorrow at 12. It will add this appointment in your online calendar. If you say to copy Ted, Dave and Fran on the note, it will attach the note and email it to them. There are far too many features to list them all. They are on a fast track to add more features. Have a look at the screencasts for demonstrations.
Are you getting tired of listening to the same old artists and the same old tracks on your iPod? There are 3 web services out there that can help you expand your music listening experience.
First is Pandora. This service asks you to enter some of your favorite artists and songs. It then uses a very sophisticated algorithm to mathematically quantify the music from those artists. Pandora will then play those artists as well as other artists and songs with a similar scoring.
You can play this through your computer, or if you have been reading my blog, via WiFi with the Sondigo Sirocco. Also, thanks to a partnership, Pandora also works with a WiFi player called Slim Devices (which was recently bought by Logitech).
The other service is lastFM. Similar to Pandora, it allows you to select your favorite artists and songs. It then uses the social community of its members to offer up other artists that were chosen by others as favorites along with your favorite artists.This service can also be played from your computer or wirelessly using the above devices.
The 3rd service is Yahoo’s Launchcast radio. You can select your favorites in several ways using this service. You can add a list of your favorite artists, albums, songs or genres. Or, you can simply select one of the previous options and start playing. As each song plays you have an option of rating the song, the artist or the album using 1-5 start or 0 for don’t play this again.To start, you may want to spend some time with this and quickly skip through the songs and rate them. Launchcast then uses these ratings to play other songs from artist or genre you have rated highly. Over time as your rate more and more songs, the “station” becomes more and more personalized.
So now you have 3 options to expand your musical tastes.
So you may be wondering what these Digg This buttons are on my blogs. Digg.com is a web site that has become hugely popular over the last 6 months. How it works, is people post news stories, then people vote or ‘digg it’. The stories with the most Diggs usually is including in their weekly podcast. From a blogging perspective, this can drive a lot of traffic. When you hit the Digg button next to my posting, you are casting a vote for the post. It will get posted on the Digg site, where others will see it. If they Digg it as well you will see the counter go up. All of this will drive more traffic to my blog.(if you want to add the Digg buttons to your blog, check out http://ottodestruct.com/wpstuff/diggImplementor.zip )
So Digg away…
I have noticed that more and more I am turning to online applications as opposed to desktop applications. As I work on 3 different computers; work, home and notebook, it just makes things much easier. There is no synchronization required, everything is just there when you open it and you can start where you left off. Here are some of the applications I use to keep myself organized.
First there is 2Go SyncIT. This is a small application that runs in your system tray. It automatically will synchronize your Bookmarks in real time as you add or delete them. This is one of those amazing applications that you never know is there and simply works all the time. I posted about it a couple of months ago. They also have some other great features that saved my butt once. Somehow my favorites folder got corrupted and I lost all of my bookmarks. The downside of having all your bookmarks synchronized is that if you lose them all on one PC, you lose them on all PCs. Now I don’t know about you, but my favorites have evolved over the past 5+ years. I emailed 2Go and asked if there was some way for me to retrieve my bookmarks; all 700+ of them. Turns out that one of the standard features of the product is that it keeps all deleted bookmarks from the last 30 days. I just went into their utilities and restored all of my bookmarks.
Next is keeping track of To Do’s. For simple lists I use Ta-da. This simple application allows me to keep multiple lists. I can add the different todo lists to my Links folder in my bookmarks. I also did a post on this. This allows quick access from any computer when the thought strikes me. I use this for personal todo’s for work around the house (this list is shared with my wife…not sure that was a good idea 🙂 and for blog topics. Since I use the SyncIT program above, when I add a todo list on one computer, it is replicated on all of my computers.
Another new offering in this simple todo list application is WallNote. This application is both an online app. and a desktop app. at the same time. What it does is reads your todo list online and keeps a list on your desktop wallpaper.
Ta-da is great for simple todo lists. For lists that are a little more complicated there is activecollab. This is an open source, on line mini-project manager.
One of the other online apps that I have been using is Bloglines for my RSS feeds. As you can see in my toolbar above I have 2 links in my bookmarks. One is for adding a new feed to Bloglines and the other is for reading my feeds. Bloglines also has some other features for bloggers. if you notice down the right side of my blog, there is a section called Blogroll. This lists all of the feeds that I read. Bloglines makes it easy to quickly scan a large number of feeds. As it is an online app. when I read a post on one computer, it is flagged as read. So when I pull up my list at home, I only see new posts.
One of the new online apps. I am going to try is the new meebo online instant messenger. Everyone knows about instant messengers. Yahoo, MSN, AOL all have their own version. With meebo, you can login to all 3 at the same time and never have to install any software on your computer. This is great for users who work at companies who have locked down their systems, or Internet Cafes.
How many Post-It notes or scraps of paper do you have in your wallet or purse? How many different lists do you have floating around? No More! Now you can have one list, or one list per category. But no more transporting information around to try and consolidate it. As an added bonus, and for those of us with signifigant others. You can share your list. So whether it is a grocery list, or a “honey-do” list or goals. You can have it all in one place. A few posts back during one of my Web 2.0 discussions I talked about a company called 37 Signals. One of their products is called TaDa lists. It allows you to create lists online. So if you’re at work and something comes to mind, you simply add it to the list. When I get home, I simply call up the list and review. I have added the web site to my links folder in my favorites. So it gives me a button on my browser. I have created several lists. Personal To Do’s, Work at home and Blog topics. Now I can go to my Blog topics list and check off “Never WRITE another To Do List!” If you would like to have input on my Blog Topics, drop me an email, and I can share the list with you.
This post will cover the second part of What is Web 2.0. The rich user interface. I believe the first wide user experience to this was the new Google maps. These maps use a programming language called AJAX. Which is a combination of Java Scripts and XML. The key point about AJAX is that you no longer need to reload the whole page, each time something changes. Previously, on MapQuest for example, if you wanted to move the map, you had to reload the whole page, which can take time. With Google maps, you simply grab the map and move it. AJAX is quickly becoming the standard for web development. Where it gets really interesting, is that suddendly, you can have a web page act just like an application on your computer. To see more of this technology here are some of the more popular Web 2.0 sites.
Backpack by 37 signals is a project management and todo list tracker.
If you really want to see the power of AJAX, check out Protopage. You can customize a personal homepage by dragging and dropping right on the screen. Give it a try it is remarkable what you can do.
Microsoft has noticed this trend and are developing their Live platform of Web services. They have a long list of services that have been coming out quickly. By using the Web as the platform, development is very fast.There is also another reason for Microsoft’s focus on the Web as a platform. First, there has been speculation for some time that Google is coming out with an online Office platform. The recent purchase of Writely (an online word processor) by Google added to this speculation. Mary J. Foley also speculates on her blog that going to the Web platform also helps Microsoft on the legal front. As there will no longer be issues with what they bundle together.
The other trend you are seeing with Web 2.0 applications is Mashups. The unique characteristic of AJAX is that it is an open language. Because it uses scripts, anyone can look at the source code of an application. Therefore it is easy to take Google Maps and mashup the map with a listing of apartment rentals and create a web site called Housingmaps.com.
So getting back to the original question. What is Web 2.0. It is open source, coopetition, cooperation, social networking. And to coin a popular description of Web 2.0 it is Folksonomy!
There have been several articles written about Web 2.0. Many have asked how can there be a Web 2.0 if there was no Web 1.0. Shel Israel (co-author of Naked Conversations) asks the question. “Is it already too late to rename Web 2.0?” This post is what I believe Web 2.0 is about. I believe it is evolutionary, not revolutionary. Web 2.0 is comprise of 2 elements. Social Networking and a Rich User Experience. This post will cover Social Networking. Social Networking really got attention with the creation of the Friendster network. This started a community where entry was by invitation only. It grew quickly and today has posted more than 27 million members. Friendster-like sites began to grow. LinkedIn, was the professional or job hunting site. Recently Facebook, for the students. Of course the most well known site is My Space. All of these site share the same thing. Like people, connected via the web, exchanging thoughts, files, photos, music…etc. This social networking phenomena was continued with Wikipedia. Imagine walking into Encylopedia Brittanica and telling them you didn’t need them anymore. That you were going to start a web site, that would allow everyone to add or edit information and create a better, bigger online encyclopedia. Completely moderated and edited by volunteers from around the world. I’m sure the laughter would have been deafening. But here we are today, with over 1 million articles in English, (there are 36 other languages). Anything you need to know is there. If you know more about the topic, then go ahead and add it. As the social networking spread Blogs were created. Blogs have become more than just daily journals. CEO’s are blogging at our company SYNNEX, Intel, General Motors or the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. They give insight into the people that was not previously available to the press.
Â In the last 6 months, social networking has really taken off. A photo sharing service, was nothing new on the Web until Flickr came along. They took social to a whole new meaning. You could share your photos with people you knew, or the World Wide Web! They also started adding tags. You could use these tags to organize your pictures. Then you could go out and use these tags to search the archives to see if anyone else had the same tags, and what their pictures were.Â Now take that same concept above and apply it to Bookmarks and you have del.icio.us. Post your bookmarks, then pick one and see what other people have book marked with the same topic. See what’s popular. And again, tag to your heart’s content. In less than a year one site had sprung up as the people’s news. That is Digg. Taking a page from Wikipedia, Digg lists news stories posted by users. Then users “digg” the story. The more Diggs then a higher rating is given on the site. At the end of the week the hosts post a Podcast on the top stories. Every one of these sites has one thing in common. The user. The user is creating the content and deciding what is right and wrong. But not a single user can change the content for long if it is not correct. Someone said about open source programming code “with many eyes, the bugs are shallow”.