Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Sun, 25 Oct 2009

Stuff I'm playing with

I'll admit to being a fan of Google. I use several of their on-line tools including Gmail, Calendar, Reader and GTalk (mainly as a Jabber client). I keep an eye on their Labs for their latest developments. I heard about Wave when it was announced back in May. It sounded like a combination of email, IM and wiki. It wasn't open to the public at first. I registered an interest and eventually got an invitation a couple of weeks back. I thought at first it had come from a friend, but it looks like I was one of the lucky 100,000 who got added. That allowed me to nominate eight others for invitations. Those mostly went to on-line contacts who I thought could use them.

So far I've only played a little with Wave. A 'wave' is a bit like a persistent IM conversation that you can add people to or even make public. Anyone can edit any previous post/'blip'. I see this as useful for brainstorming sessions where a group of people want to produce an outline specification for a product. You can paste in various content such as images, videos (from Youtube) and maps as well as some special gadgets. Bots can be written to automate certain aspects. Simon introduced me to his bot that translates all updates into 'Swedish', but they could be useful to add links and standardise format.

Wave could be a useful tool in general if enough people use it. Email has been around for decades and there are hundreds of applications to use it. That's a lot of inertia to overcome. Personally I need to use it more in real situations to see how useful it can be.

I Installed Mozilla's Ubiquity ages ago, but hadn't made a habit of using it. At its simplest if gives you a command line in your browser that lets you perform operations like search and starting an email based on the page you are viewing or text within it without having to open more windows/tabs or copy/pasting information. A more intriguing use is to perform all sorts of changes on a web page such as translation or changing elements. There are various videos that show what it can do. I was inspired to try it again by this blog post. I had some problems with the latest version locking up my whole desktop, but the latest beta is working better. Like Wave it requires a change in mindset, but could make lots of jobs easier and quicker. This talk includes Ubiquity, along with some other cool stuff Mozilla is working on.

Like many people I am a bit lax about making backups. I've got loads of pictures, documents and other data on the PC that is not stored anywhere else. I've been lucky not to lose much in the past, but a hard drive can crash at any time or a PC be stolen. I've got some of it on CDs, but have not been rigorous in backing up the latest data. I have used rdiff-backup to back up to the web server I use, but that has some issues when the server and client software are on different versions.

Ubuntu introduced Ubuntu One on-line storage service recently. You can have 2GB for free or pay a monthly subscription for 50GB. The free account is enough to store my documents so I've been trying to get that working. I've installed the client and it worked at first, but has been getting confused when I added multiple folders. You have to copy data to a specific folder and cannot just use symbolic links. Currently I can't get it to stay connected to the server or synchronise any files. Perhaps I need to somehow reset the client and start again. Ubuntu are selling it more as a service for sharing files, but it has potential as an automatic back-up too. The next version of Ubuntu due out next week has it included as standard, so may work better.

[14:43] | [/Internet] | Comments | G
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