Monthly Archives: September 2009

>Microsoft vs. Google

>

Microsoft Office Logo

Google Documents Logo

The latest talk from Microsoft is about the new Microsoft Office 2010. This version of office is said to be able to work on the phone, browser and desktop. This release of Office will be Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access, InfoPath, Office Communicator 2007 R2, SharePoint Workspace, Visio, Office Web Apps, and Office Mobile. With the addition of the Web Apps, Microsoft will be creating a direct challenge to the current Google docs. Below is a brief comparison of Google Docs to the Office Web Apps.

Price
For personal use the Microsoft Web Apps will be free. With a Windows Live ID you will be able to use Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and Word for free. These will of course be scaled down versions of the desktop software but will still prove to be quite useful for the portability aspect. So in this area Google and Microsoft Web Apps are equal.

Look and Feel
Google maintains a simple and easy to use interface for the Google docs. This is one area where Microsoft will differ from Google. The Microsoft Web Apps will have a similar look and feel to their desktop counterparts, including the ribbon feature. Microsoft is also promising that the formatting of the documents on the web will render correctly in IE, Firefox and Safari browsers.

Collaboration
This feature is what could set Google apart from the web version of Microsoft Office. With Google docs it is very easy to have multiple users work on the same document. With Office not enough has been said as to how this will be done. They are introducing a co-authoring feature which claims it will allow users to simultaneously share and work on documents.

So which one is better?
That answer will vary depending on what you are looking for. If you want a very simple easy to interact with tool then Google docs is the choice for you. If you want to stay with the more familiar Microsoft Office and don’t mind a little complication then you of course would want the Office Web Apps. Personally I think I will prefer the Office Web Apps. I do currently use Google docs but I do see many downfalls and limitations to the Google docs. If Microsoft can provide at least some of the missing features in Google docs then I think they could take a large audience away from Google docs and into Microsoft Office Web Apps.

For more information about these tools you can visit the following web sites:
http://www.microsoft.com/office/2010/http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9135485/Microsoft_Office_vs._Google_Docs_A_Web_apps_showdown
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9135485/Microsoft_Office_vs._Google_Docs_A_Web_apps_showdown
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/13/AR2009071300661_2.html
http://docs.google.com/support/?hl=en


>Twitter Tools

>There are several tools for Twitter out on the web for all different purposes. Today I am going to discuss a handful of the tools that I found to be interesting and useful.

Twitter Grader
I found this tool to be quite interesting and could be useful to users of Twitter. This tool is designed to give you a ranking of your Twitter page or of the Twitter account for anyone else. From the home page you simply need to enter the username of the Twitter account you would like to rank. Once you enter this information, Twitter Grader will create a report for you. This report will show the number of followers, number of users being followed and the number of updates. There is also a ranking assigned to the username. For example H&R Block on Twitter is ranked 51,477 out of 4,625,713. H&R Block has 3,552 followers, and they follow 3,421 users and have 1,233 updates. A combination of these figures gives them a grade of 98.9 out of 100. In addition to this information, you can also view a graph of the user history. This tool could be useful in creating or modifying your list of people you follow on Twitter. Over time you may find you are following a lot of people and you may not really be interested in all of them since some of them are no longer updating. Grading the people you follow can help you determine if someone is worth following or not.

Twinfluence
This is another interesting tool that could have similar uses to the Twitter Grader. What this tool does is measure the influence of a given Twitter user. For example Good Morning America (Twitter id gma) has an influence rank of #2 at 100%. This is based on a measurement of reach, velocity and social capital. The use of this tool is also similar to the Twitter Grader in that all that you must do is enter the Twitter username for the user you would like to evaluate. On the Twinfluence web site you can also view top 50 lists for each of the three evaluation categories.

Tweet Cube
This is a tool that will allow you to share files on Twitter. From the home page for this tool you will sign in to your Twitter account. Once you have logged in you will then upload the file you wish to share and type a message to accompany the file. You can upload a .zip, .rar, .pdf, .jpg, .png, .gif, .mp3 or .txt files. This tool would be useful for users who would like to share pictures with their friends or for companies who would like to offer users information that could be downloaded and stored locally so that it could be accesses outside the web.

SnapTweet
What this tool does is to post your latest picture on Flickr to your Twitter account. From the website for SnapTweet you simply need to provide your Twitter credentials as well as your Flickr URL to get started. You can tweet your latest photo by sending SnapTweet a direct message on twitter. You can also set up fully automated and tag-based posting. This post would be useful for users of Flickr who would like their photos to be easily viewable from multiple sources without having to do a lot of extra work.

TwInbox
This is a tool that could prove quite useful for Microsoft Outlook users. What this tool does is to essentially allow users to treat their tweets as e-mail messages. You can send updates from Outlook as well as receive updates in Outlook. When receiving updates, if the message is a reply or a direct message to you it will be marked as important in Outlook so that you can view it at a glance without having to go through messages to find the replies and direct messages. This tool can be used to help sort and organize your updates and fully integrate them with Outlook. To send replies, all you have to do is use Outlook’s built in reply or reply all features to send a reply or direct message. There are many other features of this tool that can be found on the main website for the tool. This tool I believe can be very useful for people who are already regular users of Outlook and are looking for a little more organization with their social networking.

The tools that I have discussed above barely scratch the surface of the number and types of tools available for Twitter. Mashable provides a much longer list of tools available for Twitter, but again this would not be an exhaustive list of tools available. The many tools available can cover just about and need you would have to expand and help your usage of Twitter.


>How Businesses and Organizations Use Twitter

>There is no denying the fact that Twitter has become a popular tool for sharing information. Although a lot of the information shared may appear to be completely useless information for most people, business professionals are also using this tool as part of their business strategy. Several companies are already using Twitter for a range of uses. Some examples of these companies are:

Comcast
H&R Block
Mzinga
Evernote
GM
EMC Software
Baskin Robbins
and many others!

These companies are using Twitter for different uses. Comcast is using Twitter to announce to its followers what the new onDemand listings are. This helps Comcast to be able to directly connect to customers about their product. H&R Block is using Twitter to connect with customers as well as to offer advice. Mzinga uses Twitter as a means for offering customer support as well as announcement about the company. Evernote uses Twitter as a means of communicating with customers as well as to offer advice and information about podcasts. GM is also using Twitter as a means of communication with its customers. EMC Software is using Twitter to communicate information about their products to their followers. Baskin Robbins in uses Twitter as a means of Marketing as well as providing information about the company to customers.

What are the top business uses for Twitter?
The answer to this question boils down to three main things. First, demonstrate knowledge and add value. by doing this you will be creating a sense of trust in your potential customers since they can get a sort of “test drive” of your services or product before they invest their hard earned dollars in you. Use Twitter to set yourself up as a source of information. Use this tool to become the go-to person for an area. Third, use Twitter to drive people to your main website or blog. These main business uses of Twitter can be found in more detail on Michelle Baca’s blog.

How can companies begin using Twitter?
Chris Brogan does a good job of providing the answer to that question in his blog. In his post, Chris describes 50 ideas for using Twitter. The ideas range from as basic as using Twitter to listen for talk about your company to using Twitter to market your business or organization.

Sources:
http://www.businessweek.com
http://blog.convergencecoaching.com


>Getting Started with Twitter

>Getting started with Twitter is an easy process. Once you have created your account (which only takes a few minutes) you are ready to go! If you do happen to have a problem or need to know how to do something, Twitter has a good help page. The Getting Started section gives a good overview of the basic workings of Twitter. There are a few features I have found through reading the help section that I found to be interesting/important.

Public vs. Private Accounts
You don’t have to allow everyone to be able to view your updates. When you protect your account, anytime someone wants to follow you a request will be sent that you can then either accept or deny. When you protect your account you are limiting your interaction with the Twitter community. When your account is public you do not have to verify everyone who follows you. With a public account you can interact with others in the Twitter community even if they aren’t following you or you are following them.

Various Types of Limits
There are some limits existing for all user accounts. Currently Twitter limits the length of updates as well as the amount in a given time period. There is also a limit on how many people you can follow. The length of updates is limited to 140 characters per updates with no more than 1,000 total updates per day. For the limit on the number of followers, that will vary for each user. It is based on a ratio of followers to people you follow. It restricts you from being able to follow significantly more users than users who follow you. For most users these limits do not cause a problem. These limits are designed to help protect the system from errors.

@replies and Mentions
Sometimes on Twitter you may want to send a reply specific to a user. To do this you would use @reply. This works by starting your Tweet with @username for the person you would like to respond to. So, to give an example, if someone were to send a reply to me they would start their Tweet as @jlstoudenmire (message goes here). This message would then show up in my list of replies. A mention is very similar to a reply. You use the same format as the reply; the only difference is that a mention is in the body of a Tweet and not in the beginning. With a mention you can also have more than one username as a mention in the body of the Tweet.

Direct Messages
A direct message is a private reply to a user. If someone is following you, then you can send them a private (direct) message. A direct message can be thought of as something between a Tweet and an e-mail. It is still formatted like a Tweet and follows the same rules as a Tweet but it is private like an e-mail is.

Twitter Widgets
A Twitter widget allows you to add a mini version of Twitter to your website, Facebook or MySpace page. This widget can be customized so that you can show what you want to display. You can also add a Twitter Search widget (note: the search widget will not work on Facebook and MySpace pages). You can also add JavaScript to personalize your widget even farther.


>Opera

> Opera Software is a Norwegian based company founded by Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner(CEO) and Geir Ivarsoey. Opera is a leader in development of web browsers for desktops and mobile devices. Opera claims to be “Simply the Best Internet Experience on Any Device.” They are known for providing high performance levels, standards compliance and a small size.

Opera Software’s Products

Opera Browser
The Opera Browser has much to offer when it comes to features. Overall the Browser offers a fast and easy to use piece of software. Opera Browser is known for being innovative and the many unique features offered proves that. Some of these features are Opera Turbo Compression, Tabs in thumbnails, customized ‘Speed Dial’, Web Integration, Resizable search field and many others. Overall the Opera browser offers a fast, safe and customizable Internet Experience.

Opera Link
Opera Link is a useful tool to help keep you organized. The tool will synchronize your browsers so that you always have your bookmarks and other browser data wherever you are. It can be used synchronize multiple computers or mobile devices. You can also log in to a web version so that you can still have what you need even when you aren’t using an Opera browser. Opera Link will synchronize you bookmarks, Speed Dial, Personal Bar, Notes, Typed Browser History, and Custom Searches.

Opera Mobile
In 2000 Opera Mobile was the first mobile web browser to use the full web on a small mobile screen. It has been installed on over 125 million phones.

Opera Devices
Opera software is used in both the Nintendo DSi and in the Nintendo Wii. On the Wii the Internet Channel is powered by Opera. The channel can allow you to browse the web on your TV through your Wii device.

Opera Mail
This tool is an e-mail client built into your browser. With Opera Mail you can access your mail even when you are offline and when you are back online your e-mails with be synchronized again. You can also use it in a low-bandwidth mode so that when you are using a slow connection you can fetch only the necessary information. Opera Mail will work with all of your different e-mail accounts.

Opera Unite
Unite can allow you to have the power of a Web server in your browser. You can easily share your data or run a chat room and host all of it within Opera Unite. You can also share with other web browsers.

Opera Dragonfly
Dragonfly is a tool for developers that can allow you debug JavaScript, CSS, the DOM, and HTTP from the browser. This tool can also handle mobile debugging in addition to the browser on your computer. Dragonfly is released on an open source BSD license.

Opera Mini
Opera Mini is “The world’s most popular mobile Web Browser with over 30 million users.” Mini is a complete, fast, and free solution to your mobile web browsing needs.

Sources:
http://www.opera.com/
http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2006/05/10-features-youll-find-only-in-opera.html


>iPhone Applications…Paid vs. Free

>Today my focus will be on development for the Apple iPhone. This has become a growing field along with the growing popularity of the iPhone device. One important question for anyone developing an app for the iPhone is going to be, ‘Should I give my app away free, or should it be a paid app?’

In short, the answer to that is that it depends. According to graph of iPhone app downloads comparing for both free and paid apps along with a graph of downloads for Android, iPhone and iPod TouchadMob there are significantly more free app downloads than there are paid app downloads. So this bit of information may lead you to think that with a paid app you won’t have many downloads thus making it difficult to make money. However, the number of free apps downloaded should be promising to you. Even free apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch can make money for you.

How can a free app make money?

There are several ways that a free application for the iPhone or iPod Touch can make money. These applications can generate money thorough advertising, commissions, use of licenses, or by offering a paid version with more features. This is also not an exhaustive list of ways that free applications can make money. As a developer you simply have to be creative about how to make money off of a free application. According to AdWhirl applications that make it to the top 100 Free Applications list can make anywhere from $400 – $5000 a day (even at the low end that is $146,000 a year!).

So to go back to the original question I posed of should you sell your app or give it away for free. Both ways can provide a good amount of money…if it is a popular application. You just have to remember that even paid applications can end up not making any money for you if no one downloads the application.


>Wikipedia

>Almost everyone has probably used Wikipedia at one time or another to find information. How many of us have ever bothered to make a contribution of our own? Until today I had never made a contribution to a page on Wikipedia, even though I have used the site countless times. The process of making a change to a Wikipedia page was very easy. First, I had to create an account. Once my account was created I had to decide where to make my change (this was the hardest part). I do not consider myself to be a real expert in a particular field so I decided to choose a hobby of mine. I chose to edit the crochet page in Wikipedia. On this page I made my contribution by expanding the list of basic stitches. The list I added by no means exhausts the list of possible stitches but I do believe it covers the basics. Previously there were only 5 stitches listed and I expanded the list to cover a total of 10 stitches. Once I made my changes in the editing page I was able to preview my changes prior to submitting them. Once I saved and submitted my changes they were immediately posted to the page for all to see. Now that I have experienced the ease of editing in Wikipedia I am now more inclined to make changes as I see necessary while I continue to use the site as a source of information.