Archive for the 'technology' Category

LinkedIn Dashboard for Outlook

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Receiving an average of more than a dozen emails per day, my Outlook requires more upkeep than I’d prefer. I installed the LinkedIn Dashboard for Outlook to get my Outlook contacts rebuilt after migrating to a new laptop – Sony VAIO VGN-SR39VN, loving it, the best thing since a Macbook I’ve used – since Microsoft’s lack of migration tools made the transition difficult. The plugin got the job done very well.

I was somewhat irritated to see what kinds of crap it installed into my Outlook, already something of an unknown with all the features I never use getting in my way day to day, but coming into the LinkedIn Dashboard was a revelation. It is presenting me with precisely the information that’s so fuzzy about my old Outlook – is there someone I’m forgetting to reply? Is there a red flag somewhere down the line, buried under all the contact requests from outsourcing companies? Am I forgetting that someone even exists?

My old Inbox is still the way it ever was. The LinkedIn Dashboard makes sense out of it and I would pay something for it. All the better that it’s free.

LibraryThing

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

As someone who has too many books, LibraryThing is all kinds of awesome. I’m likely going to use it for my videogames, as well.

Related to this, I’ve recently begun reading and buying ebooks. I’m beginning to wonder how I’m going to catalogue those.

PicLens

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

A surprisingly funky, natural way to view images online, PicLens is a free add-on for Firefox and a bunch of other web browsers. I thought it would be very systems-heavy, but it works just fine on my basic laptop at work.

Essentially, it gathers the images on a site from a separate “media” RSS feed and shows them as a 3D image wall, in full-screen. The catch? The site needs to support PicLens. Crucially, they already have Facebook, Google image search, Picasa and Flickr (and others) working. As a taster, they have an add-on-independent Lite version available as well (check it out here). Cool stuff.

www.piclens.com

Back on PC hardware (HP-Compaq NC6320)

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

I got my new work computer. It’s an HP-Compaq NC6320. I have spoken loud and clear against HP before, mostly due to disastrous printers, but I have to say that my initial impressions of this laptop are very positive. The machine is pretty large, but not too heavy. Especially the screen and keyboard are excellent. If I’m going to add an external keyboard, it’s because of the separate numpad. I did add an extra screen, simply due to needing the extra space – if this was a widescreen panel, I might do without.

So far I’m mostly missing the Macbook’s better still screen and superior touchpad. This machine’s touchpad is alright, but the “mouse” buttons feel rubbery and too light and the instantly accurate feel of the Macbook touchpad isn’t there. I’ve only used the machine in the office so far, but it sounds quieter than the Macbook and I think it doesn’t get as hot.

I’ll be in Amsterdam most of next week, so we’ll see how the machine does on the road. (The battery life should be a respectable 3,5 hours.) I have extremely limited user rights on the rig, though, so I know I’m not getting the full experience. I would love to play with the integrated fingerprint sensor, for instance.

Active Collab

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

A colleague tipped me off to check out Active Collab, an open source alternative to Basecamp, the widely respected project management solution. Upon setting up my first project, it feels pretty good. Some things are just off, like the way it’s centered around “companies” and “clients”, when I feel that many people (say, students) might use these things for other uses than business. In any case, definitely worth checking out, supposing that you have your own web host. I wouldn’t change my paid-for Basecamp projects over to it just yet, though, since a lot of features are still being developed.

My motivation for trying out Active Collab was that I needed a solution for a freelance gig and the idea of having zero restrictions (number of projects, size of files and so on) appealed to me. As it stands, Basecamp is still easier to use and better designed.

Stepping back (Apple MacBook)

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

I’m changing jobs and I need to give up my MacBook. I’m not sure what I’m getting in my new job, but most likely PC hardware, in any case, the company I’m working for being large, as opposed to the very flexible advertising agency environment I’m currently in.

I admit I’ll miss the computer a lot. Making the change back to the Windows world does not please me; although the possibility of trying Vista on for a size intrigues me. I’m very likely to get a new portable Mac at some point for personal use.

As it happens, the MacBook has severely let me down just this weekend. Coming back from a holiday, its battery had depleted and the computer just won’t recognize it anymore. The software update didn’t help and it needs to be replaced. Well, not my problem anymore.

I’m hoping Colibri can alleviate my need for Quicksilver. There is one thing I’m welcoming back though, that being the Windows Explorer as opposed to the Mac Finder. Although Path Finder improved file management a lot, I guess I’m just so used to the Explorer that it never felt quite as natural to me. Coda will be missed, as well.

Looking at the whole, though, I’m pretty certain I will first and foremost miss the keyboard and touchpad. This laptop is a joy to type and work on, something I can’t say I have nearly experienced with any PC laptop hardware. Most likely an external screen, keyboard and mouse are called for, again.

Recommended reading

Friday, June 29th, 2007

I find it very difficult to read multi-page stories on the web, but this is so good that it just breezed by. It’s about Hans Reiser, a Linux programmer now suspected of having murdered his wife. I don’t really want to elaborate on it, it’s a better read if you don’t know much about it before the fact. I suspect the writing style isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I found it enormously well written.

Wired on Hans Reiser.

iSync and Nokia 9300 play together

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

I’ve been brewing a disaster, running three separate calendars (Lightning on the MacBook, Basecamp on the web, mobile phone). I finally managed to combine them using the MacBook’s iSync with Nova Media’s cheap plugin (about 10€ + tax). When I stopped trying it the hard way and just paid for the plugin, I was up and running in less than five minutes. Recommended!

I don’t yet have experience on how it all hangs together in practice, but with the plugin I got iSync talking with the Nokia 9300, and iCal should be able to subscribe to Basecamp’s milestones. I think that I can also get Lightning to play with the iCal, but I’m not at all sure if I want to use it anyway… I always disliked the way Outlook put the email and the calendar in the same workspace, making it a pain to write email and check the calendar at the same time.

Ah, the relief. I was expecting disaster to hit at any time, trying to keep up with the three separate calendars. Phew.

Mac apps: communication

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

Continuing to list Mac software I’ve found useful, let’s tackle IM, IRC and Web development.

Adium is a multi-network instant messenger. I’m using it for MSN Messenger and Google Talk, and it just works. No problems at all and you don’t have to tweak it to make it look serviceable or unannoying, unlike the many Windows-based IM clients I’ve endured. It’s free, too.

I am not much of an IRC user, so when I do need IRC, I’d like it to be as easy as possible. Colloquy is, and it’s free, to boot. You don’t really have to learn anything, it works the way you’d think it would.

To work, I need a simple Web editor. Dreamweaver is way too hardcore for my needs (updates, small text changes), although I do like it for full-blown development, which I haven’t had to do in some years. And doing things with a plain text editor, web browser and FTP client is a chore. In steps Coda, which basically just integrates the three functions of editing, previewing and transferring to one application. It comes in at a currently reasonable 79$ USD. I’ve been using it for a couple of sites now and so far I like it a lot. It helps that it has integrated CSS support with visual helps, because I do not live and breathe style sheets.

Mac apps: refinement (MacBook)

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Continuing on my initial Mac applications impressions and recommendations, this is an update of sorts.

Path Finder by CocoaTech is essential, really. Considering how good the rest of Mac Os X (Tiger) is, the suckiness that is the Finder baffles me. Path Finder replaces it with a much more useful application which does all of Finder’s work and then some. It isn’t free, but the $35 USD seems very reasonable for less frustration and more work done.

I’ve been using Thunderbird now. Apple’s own Mail did not play nice with our office Exchange, but Thunderbird does. No problems whatsoever, recommended! I am loving the Saved Search (Smart) folders. Make an automated search for all unread or tagged (to-do) email, and presto – they’re in the same virtual folder. Immense time saver.

I just installed the Lightning add-on to Thunderbird for calendar support, we’ll see how it turns out. Currently I need to run several calendars side by side which is a serious pain in the butt (Basecamp, GSM, office).

Neo Office has worked for me, although I’ve only needed Writer (=Word) so far.

I did a clean install on the MacBook to save space and eliminate clutter. It was painless. I would’ve appreciated some options on what bundled apps to install, though; now I need to go through the trouble of throwing away a lot of stuff. The Comic Life is a fun discovery though. Don’t know if I’ll ever use it, but some kids out there ought to be inspired by it.