One of the great things about Google spreadsheets is how easy it is to set up a web form to capture information really quickly. At this time of year, an ideal use it to plan what each person wants to eat at your Christmas lunch or party. Here is a more general example of a survey. It took me 3 minutes to build the form, and about 10 minutes to build the charts that display the results.
I do love Apple’s design approach and the great quality of their devices, but the one downside of Apple in general is their lack of openness and the tendency to lock you in to Apple products. A prime example is the Apple address book, which makes it really difficult to get your contacts into another app. I wanted to export all my contacts into gmail, but apple address book doesn’t have the option to export to CSV (which would make it easy to export into gmail or outlook). Their are numerous tools available online, including one on the apple site that you have to pay $18 for. However, if you have Apple’s spreasheet app (Numbers) installed there is a VERY easy way to do this, and in fairness to Apple, they’ve done a great job at getting their apps to work together.
1. Open Numbers (The Mac spreadsheet app)
2. Open Address Book, select your contacts and drag them into an empty spreadsheet.
3. Voila! Now you can export them to csv, excel etc.
If you don’t have Numbers installed, there is also a freeware utility available at http://gwenhiver.net/address-book-exporter.html
What does an Android user look like? Some cool stats courtesy of mobclix
Steve Ballmer (MSFT), Werner Vogels (Amazon) and Imagination CIO Matt Ballantine talking about cloud computing on channel4
There are many benefits to cloud computing apps such as Google apps and Salesforce.com, especially in terms of reducing costs and allowing someone else to run things that are not part of your core business. However one of the downsides is that once you take the plunge and invest in a “cloud-based” application, it can be difficult to get your data back out again, or switch to another provider…. So kudos to Google for their Data Liberation initiative
I wonder if MS will follow suit?
This is an interesting innovation from US-based Magenn Power; a high altitude wind turbine that is designed to harness the powerful winds such as the low-level jet streams that exist at around 1000ft above ground level, by embedding a turbine in a balloon.
The ability to deflate and redeploy quickly would also make it pretty attractive for temporary power sourcing.
This would be an interesting alternative to normal wind turbines, provided that the implementation can be practical and economical.
This is an interesting webcast where Serena Software talks about their migration from an on-premise email system (Exchange) to a cloud-based solution (the well-known Google Apps)
Many IT teams feel threatened by cloud based services because they are not under their direct control. However, forward-thinking IT teams realise that the right strategy is to embrace the cloud, let someone else manage commodity services (such as email), enabling them to focus on tasks that provide a direct business benefit.
For example, email does not provide a competitive advantage, because everyone has email. It is a massively important and critical part of a business operation, but in essence it’s a commoditized service that should just always work, much like a utility such as electricity and water.
I like this story because Serena is firmly in the “forward thinking” camp – the technology that they migrated to and from is not really important – however the principle of using cloud based services for things like email is something that I think more businesses could benefit from.
Some interesting points from the presentation:
- Serena software wanted to increase each user’s mailbox from the current 150MB, mainly for the purpose of e-discovery which is very difficult with the current setup because everyone archives their mail to PST (personal folder) files. The process of finding emails stored in these PSTs in the event of a legal requirement to do so, would be very difficult. With Google each user gets 25GB of storage so there is no need for people to use PST files.
- The cost of increasing each user’s mailbox to even 1.5GB would have been pretty expensive. They say that they’ve saved $750K – calculating what they would have spent versus what they did spend.
- They used this migration as an opportunity to reduce the number of distribution lists from 600+ to 26!
- They went for a “big bang” approach – mainly due to calendaring. For example if you had half the company on Google and the other half on exchange you could have some sync issues with meeting requests etc. so it’s better to switch everyone at once.
- They did a few “practice migrations” with 4 pilot groups, testing their training documentation, user guides etc. They had it right by the time they did the 4th pilot group.
- They didn’t actually migrate the user’s mailboxes, but provided guidance for people in the event that they did want to do this themselves. This meant that the actual migration day work was only 6 hours work for 2 people.
- Lastly, for unified communications they used a solution called vmerge from Voice Mobility, which seems to offer good integration with google apps.
Ever since I bought my Canon HV10, I had assumed that you needed to use the HD branded mini-dv tapes if you wanted to get uncompromised HD -quality recording. This was probably down to the guy in the shop telling me that I needed HD tapes (in order to sell me some) and I’d never really questioned it until a recent trip when I needed more tapes and I couldn’t find any “HD quality” tapes… which prompted some research. To give you an idea of price difference, the “premium” sony mini dv tape costs about £3 and the “HD” tape costs about £14.
It turns out that you don’t *really* need “HD quality” tapes, they are just higher quality tapes that may have fewer frame dropouts than lower quality tapes, but your actual recording quality is the same. I guess it comes down to how important your shoot is, whether or not you can afford a few frame dropouts to happen in a year. Personally, I’ll probably use the cheaper tapes most of the time as I always shoot more footage than I actually need, so a dropout (which I’ve never had) is not the end of the world. On the other hand, a part of me thinks it’s silly to spend £600 on a camcorder and then concern yourself with saving £10 per tape (although the marketing and branding folks at the manufacturers probably realise this, hence the steep price in the first place – “reassuringly expensive”)
Here are some links to what others have said about this…
If you have any practical experience with this issue I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.
I found this great wordpress plugin called WPTouch from Brave New Code which automatically creates an iPhone interface for your wordpress blog.
It’s brilliantly designed, clean and also shows the number of comments for each post.
You can easily browse categories, search and subscribe to RSS feeds directly from your iPhone.
If you are browsing this from your iPhone then of course you are already experiencing it.
Installation is easy it took about 30 seconds via “plugins, add new” on the wordpress admin dashboard. There is no config required – it will automatically detect an iPhone or iPod touch and render it accordingly.
The screenshot in this post shows what my blog looks like on an iPhone.
I’m looking for a freelance web deisgner with experience in Joomla, for a possible short term piece of work. If you know of anyone please leave a comment (which would be publicly visible and might also lead to other work for them), or if you want to send me a private message find me on twitter (robgray) or email me “rob” at, well, this domain.
Ideally I’d prefer to give the piece of work to a freelancer or someone that needs the work, rather than a design agency.