22 February 2010

Fav4.org: Minimalistic Icon Based Startpage

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Startpages seem to be in vogue yet again when it comes to the non-widget based kind.

Just startpages with shortcuts for the most frequently visited websites. No doubt that Opera 10 and Chrome 4 have something to do with this new found interest for what Opera calls the web Speed Dial and that later got shamelessly ripped off by Google with Chrome.

Fav4.org takes this idea to the bare minimum. Only 4 big icons for your 4 most visited websites. That is it. No more, no less. 4 striking and very soothing looking icons. I love the idea but dislike the limitations of it. Right now you can choose from a list of 73 web properties icons for your Startpage.

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If your favorite webpage icon is not in here, the only thing you can do is to suggest it to the developer so it gets added later on. Right no there is still no choice to make the shortcut icons to open in a new tab but the developer says it is coming soon. Other updates are also going to be added.

Some Notes

But that still don’t overcomes the fact of ONLY being able to have 4 web icons in your startpage at a time.  As much as i like the idea of Fav4.org. I would like to be able to decide the layout for it. In my case i would go with 3 row levels and up to 5 icons per row.

(If someone makes a clone of this with that option, let me know. Of course that the developer of fav4 will never be able to add those changes without changing the name of the site.)

So the only option would be if there could be more 4 icon line-ups (lets say 3) that could be slide-out/pop-out to appear by a tiny pagination selector at the bottom (like the one you see in this blog). At least that is the only solution i see that could work for Fav4.org being truly enticing to more users and also remaining with the same look it has now.

However, if you like the idea as it is. Fav4.org is a good option for a minimal and pretty startpage.

Linkage

Fav4.org

*Update*(15/08/10): Fav4 is now more as it got completely revamped and greatly upgraded as MyFav. Check the  post on that new iteration.

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Tomboy 1.1.1 : Now With Full Windows 7 Support

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Tomboy continues to improve and with the 1.1.1 dev release. You can now have  it in Windows 7 with Jump Lists fully supported. A dev release can be considered of Beta quality, so avoid it if you are only interested in stable releases.

 

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Other improvements include faster startup, better performance and snappier response.

Here is the full changelog for the 1.1.1 dev release:

  • Awesome new Jump List support on Windows 7
  • Rearranged Tomboy startup so icon appears within 0.5-1.0 seconds or simply faster than beforePrevent crash when entering empty notebook name
  • 3 Bug FixesNew translations
  • Translation updates: bg, bn, es, et, eu, he, it, nb, sl, sv, uk, zh_CN

For full information on Tomboy and its installation just go to  the original Appatic Tomboy Post:

http://www.appatic.com/2009/10/tomboy-10-simple-note-taking-app.html

If you are just updating, then just proceed to download the latest version below if you are ok with it being a dev (beta) release.

Linkage

Tomboy 1.1.1       <—Direct Download Link

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via Sandy Armstrong

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Tasque 0.1.9 : Now With Custom Highlighting, Mono 2.6 Support And More Integrations.

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After almost 14 months without any update. Tasque is now finally up to date again thanks to the 0.1.9 release.  This release comes with

  • Support for Mono >= 2.6  
  • Customizable color highlighting in tasks. 
  • Clear "New Task..." text in inputfield on drag and drop
  • Option to change category via context menu
  • Hiveminder improvements
  • Close task window on ESC keypress
  • Initial implementation of tooltip for the tray icon
  • Translation updates for: cs, da, de, en_GB, eo, es, et, gl, gr, hu, id, it, ja, nds, pl, pt, pt_BR, sl, sv, th, zh_CN.

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A seriously needed and worthwhile update for everyone using Tasque. Also makes it more palatable to those still in the fence on trying it or not.

Go to the Tasque post for full details on Tasque and its installation. If you are updating, then just proceed to download it.

http://www.appatic.com/2009/11/tasque-simple-todo-list-app.html

Linkage

Tasque 0.1.9     <—Direct Download Link

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via Mario Carrion

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Microsoft Live Labs Pivot Now Ready To Use Without Invites

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After showing it off live in the TED conference. Microsoft Pivot has now been updated with a version that no longer needs invites. You just have to download, install and use it.

app-screenshot

Linkage

Microsoft Live Labs Pivot

Microsoft Pivot Guide

*Update* (08/03/11): Looks like Microsoft has now taken down the Microsoft Pivot site for some reason. It is now instead just redirecting to Bing. But the original direct download link continues to work. If for some reason it stops working, let me know with a comment and I will upload Pivot to skydrive for you all to download again.

Download Microsoft Pivot     <—Direct Download Link

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Pip.io Is Now Open

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A lot has changed since it first appeared last year and now you no longer need invites to access it. Pip.io is now out of Private Beta.

Pip.io

To read my first preview post on the service just visit this post:

http://www.appatic.com/2009/11/pipio-social-operating-system-preview.html

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08 February 2010

Start.io: A Links Only Styled Startpage Service

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When you think about a Startpage service, you more than likely will immediately think of MyYahoo, iGoogle, Live Home, MyAol, Netvibes or Pageflakes.  What any of these have in common is that they are the most used Startpages (in the order i put them) and that there is a Widget factor to display information, games, news or other interactive content in them.

Start.io thinks that the Widget based Startpages are too complicated and that Startpages should return to their roots. When they were only simple html pages with live bookmarks (Activity monitored links like in Firefox) on them.

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That is the whole concept behind Start.io. A Stylized page with different categorized sets of live bookmarks. If you hover a link, it will show in a tooltip if there is recent activity by counting how many new entries are in that page it is linking.  You need a account and after you have one it sets you a short linked startpage like this: start.io/username

You can then add some categories, customize your links and the style of your page look from 9 predefined styles or make your own custom style.

To make it easier to set up. You can import your links from a exported bookmarks file from your browser or import a OPML file from you Feedreader of choice. If  later on you decide Start.io is not for you. but you have manually setup your links, you can export them out the same way.

Start.io sets a long lasting cookie so you will be always logged to your Start.io account once you are in. The part of setting it up as the browser startpage is actually up to you to do manually.

While the idea is almost TOO SIMPLE. It got some good merits to it. The only things i would like it to have are: (1) a automatic browser startpage setup (why i do have to do that manually?), (2) that the links had dropdowns and counters just like in the Firefox Live Bookmarks bar and (3) that there were more page styles to choose from.  Would it also kill it to have Video DEMO’s and actual live examples for previewing the service?.

Forcing a user to setup a a account just to check out the service is a horrible practice that only results in unused dummy tests.

Linkage

Start.io

Start.io About    <—Service Info

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*Edited* (10/02/2010)



Tagul: Woldle-Like Tag Cloud Widget Generator

Tagul.com

There are many Tag Cloud Generators out there. One example would be TagCrowd. But it is a super simple option compared to Tagul. In this case what you get is not just a Tag Cloud but a Flash based Dynamic and Interactive Wordle-Like Tag Cloud. 

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That means you can shape it, color it, set different fonts and interact with it. Because of that you need to make a Tagul account. With it you can create 10 Tagul Tag Cloud for free.

A Tagul can hold up to 300 tags based on a domain but you need to manually adjust and set everything for it to work. Once you do have it working right then you can manage the Tag Clouds from your Tagul account and you will then be able to embed the code in your Blog or Website.

A good little utility, that is quite feature packed. The only criticism i can make on it is that the setup should be easier and it should have several automatic setup modes, so anyone can try it out faster.  Some video demos and live examples in two test blogs (one Wordpress, one Blogger) would also be a good idea to really inspire confidence in people to use it.

Linkage

Tagul

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CPUID CPU-Z: A Simple Tool To Gather All Your PC Info

CPUID.com Logo

Usually, if you want to check some info of your Windows PC. You check System via:

Windows XP: Start > Control Panel > System

Windows Vista-Windows 7: Start > Start Search > System

And that will give you the most basic information about you computer, plus access to the most basic system settings.

If you want more specific information, then you can go to Administrative Tools, Check your Bios at Boot or even use the Terminal. But now you will not need to do so.

CPU-Z from CPUID is a simple and light single-purpose-tool that gather all the information you would get with all the said methods just by running it.

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                                    (Here you can see a example run for the info on a MSI Wind U100)

CPU-Z will then give you the following info:

CPU

  • Name and number.
  • Core stepping and process.
  • Package.
  • Core voltage.
  • Internal and external clocks, clock multiplier.
  • Supported instructions sets.
  • Cache information.
Mainboard
  • Vendor, model and revision.
  • BIOS model and date.
  • Chipset (northbridge and southbridge) and sensor.
  • Graphic interface.
Memory
  • Frequency and timings.
  • Module(s) specification using SPD (Serial Presence Detect) : vendor, serial number, timings table.
System
  • Windows and DirectX version.

Once you have it running, you can also generate a report in TXT or  HTML

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And that is it. A nice little tool you can use in Windows XP, Vista and 7 (both 32bits & 64bits) for all your PC info gathering needs.

Linkage

CPUID CPU-Z         <—Homepage

CPU-Z 1.53           <—Direct Download Link

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TicTacDo: Checklist Based How-To’s For Activities

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TicTacDo is a web service that forces me to use the Hollywood Movie Producer Pitch Method in order to describe it:

TicTacDo could be seen as ToDo Lists meets How-To’s meets Yahoo Answers meets Activity Planning meets YouTube-like community site.

Laying that set of comparisons would result in this condensed explanation:

TicTacDo is a web community site and service to host and build ready-to-use checklists that detail step-by-step activity based How-to’s that can be shared, rated, collaborated and commented.

 

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That is the core concept and i must say that TicTacDo is one of the best new community sites i have seen in 2010 (even if the service might be older). It takes a series of common concepts and really bring them together in a compressive, cohesive and just very well executed service.  It is based on Konolive, that is a collaboration software and platform. so that also point in favor. It is just a good sign seeing that platform in action into a finished product by the same people that created that software.

 

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Right now the TicTacDo community is still not as known and as used i think it should be. It is a really great service. Easy to use, clean design,  you can share, you can rank, you can “defy” a Checklist by doing your own based on someone else checklist; if you think it is not clear enough or something about it is wrong. You can also just comment and note it out to the Checklist creator in a collaboration track each page got once you are a member.

It is also great to see something that is 100% focused and don’t tries to tackle too many concepts at once. In the case of TicTacDo, it is all about activities as the motivation for everything. Those activities then need be thought as How-To’s that instead of written explanations or answers as you would solve or read them in a service like Yahoo Answers. You instead articulate them as ToDo Checklists.

 

That said, even the best community sites and focused ideas will die a quick death if people don’t use the service and if people don’t engage with the service. So the affluence of people in TicTacDo is what can make or break it like with everything else. I would like it if it succeeded. Not because i like it myself, but because it is actually good.

One thing i would do like is if TicTacDo Checklists could be portable for its creator or by the creator decision. That means that i not only would like to share the link, but the actual checklist as a widget. Other than that i find the service easy to recommend as it is.

Linkage

TicTacDo

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IzzyTodo: A Easy And Fast ToDo List Builder, Yet Uninspired.

IzzyTodo.com

IzzyTodo is a quite obvious, but still moderately clever phonetic word play of “Easy To Do”. Is a quick way to build ToDo Lists and keep track of more than one of them at the same time.

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The ToDo list builder is a asynchronous active form with a widget like behavior.  You set up a title (target) for the set of tasks you need to get doing. As you add them, they come prefilled with tasks so you can see how they will look.  You click on the text and change it as many times you want on the fly.  If you want to erase a task you can delete it and the space will be eliminated and the form will contract to adapt. You finish a task and it is crossed over.

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The builder and the aspect of the form is good. The service is easy to use and it don’t gets in your way. The only problem is that it is a single-purpose tool that lacks inspiration and some focus around it.

It presents you a landpage where you can accumulate and watch your lists but the page wastes a lot of space without reason. This makes it less proper and comfortable to use it as a Startpage or in a SSB.

That brings me to the question: “Is izzyTodo a web service page or a web service utility?”. Above i made the case that if it is supposed to be a startpage or landpage. It does a horrible job on that. It does worse on the second possible use. You cannot do anything with the lists beyond having them there. Why they aren’t exportable widgets?. even iFrame based would be welcomed. The answer is just: “No clue”.

So it takes me to the conclusion: That i like the idea and how the actual product works and looks (The actual ToDo Lists). But i am baffled on how it is being presented and “pitched” to me; because it cannot be used in a way that lives to the tool potential that would make it actually useful and worthwhile to use.

I hope that IzzyTodo makes up its mind on what exactly the service is and how it is supposed to be used. Given the tool is actually good.

Linkage

IzzyTodo

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