Monthly Archive for October, 2009

Prism add-on for Firefox kicks Google Chrome out.

Firefox-Prism-Chrome

When Google launched Google Chrome, I did have a go with it and eventually uninstalled it mainly because I was frustrated the way Google Chrome installed itself on my machine.

Some weeks ago, I decided to give it a go again because I remembered one cool thing about Chrome, the application shortcut. That particular feature is a real adding value one. So I eventually used Chrome again not for my daily browsing activities but for gmail. I must admit it is very cool to launch my “gmail” application shortcut from the quick launch bar just like I would do for any application. Indeed experiencing gmail through Google Chrome with the application shortcut is great.

However as soon as I was using a link from an email, Google Chrome was used as the browser. It does the job; I didn’t come across browsing problem, but I discovered the web again: crowded and polluted with Ads. Damned, Adblock (or similar) is cruelly missing.

Recently I’ve been testing Google Wave (and still do). To make the Wave experience as full as possible I used a Google Chrome application shortcut. Indeed using Google Wave that way makes me feel I use a regular app on my machine. The experience is nice. But again, clicking on links launches Google Chrome as a browser and here comes the Ads.

I’ve been surprised that add-ons for Chrome haven’t exploded in numbers. The most wanted one, an adblock-like is not a reality yet. For sure, some solutions exist (scripts to install, Adsweep, Privoxy) but none of them are smooth to install and use for a typical user (those ones that are not IT savvy). For a second time, Google Chrome failed to become my preferred browser.

How can I get this great application shortcut approach then on my preferred browser, Firefox. This gets resolved with Prism Add-On for Firefox. This is nothing new (version 0.2 was out in March 2008) but its 1.0b2 is freshly installed on my machine.

I now have my Google Mail and Google Wave application shortcuts through Prism and Firefox.  Yabba badda boo!

I guess I don’t need Google Chrome anymore.

What is your view ? Do you still use Google Chrome ? Have you installed an Adblock-like add-on/program for Google Chrome? Did you returned from Google Chrome to Firefox ? Do you use Prism add-on for Firefox?

Google Wave: is this the next gen email thing?

wave-logoLike many I requested a Google Wave account and like many I did not received an invite directly from Google. No moaning here, this is part of the game. Did I complain not winning at the lottery?

However I’ve been lucky to receive an invite from a friend.Thanks Georges. (On the lottery side though, no friend of mine ever shared a chunk of their win so far)

This article isn’t about how good or how bad Google Wave is. I’m rather interested to understand what Wave is about and how it could transform the way we approach email and IM with collaborative content creation.

Daniel Tenner wrote a very nice article about Google Wave: What problems does Google Wave solve?

I must say I started dropping a comment to Daniel’s article but stopped halfway though. I felt an article would better highlight my current view based on what I read from his article and knew of Google Wave so far.

Daniel’s article explains nicely what Google Wave could do. Go and read it first before continuing your reading here.

I agree largely with the points brought by Daniel. There are pieces that make me smile in his article and especially in some of the comments. Many of us (IT/Technology enthusiasts that talk about it) seems to forgot that majority of companies is not ready to go outside for their email system. Typically these companies will have an Exchange (or Lotus Notes or something else) on their Network, behind a Firewall. Start-up companies, high-tech companies (being IT or not) are more likely to grasp on Google Wave as they are already widely more open on SAAS and online applications.

So unless Google Wave can be installed completely inside the network of the company I don’t see how Google Wave could get serious attraction from the corporate world.

Ryan (I’ve no link for Ryan) is one of the very few to point this important aspect:

How many corporations would allow these collaborations to take place outside of the firewall? Not many I have to believe. With that in mind, there would still need to be some steps taken in order to make it a viable corporate solution.

However, I learned from the comments sent by  Daniel that federated server is a possibility.

Also, Wave allows each organisation to set up its own server, using federation to sync with the rest of the world – so they could implement custom controls at that level.

As I understand it, the federation system means that everyone can have their own server(s) (much like Exchange servers), but still interact with servers outside of the company network.

I need to further investigate on this aspect of  Google Wave as it is clearly a key aspect in my opinion. More googling and reading for a later day, definitely. The starting point is a whitepaper from Google: Google Wave Federation Architecture

In the meantime, I’ll be testing Google Wave with a few friends (not my uncle Bob, though, but some IT enthusiast friends). I hopefully will have debates about how Google Wave could be (or not) a reality in a professional environment and what it could be used for!

I don’t see yet how this would get massive adoption (replacement of email) from typical home users any time soon, but time will tell us.

(Second day) The more I think about wave and use it,  the less I feel it can replace email. It will probably hit other needs like live/asynchonous interaction between small group of users to collaboratively create content. I can’t define this any better yet, more testing and usage required.

What is your view ?

Mobical as an online backup for your mobile phone contacts.

The pitch: I wanted to transfer all my contacts to a second mobile phone but something went wrong* and I lost many phone numbers from my mobile.  The story is a little bit longer but it doesn’t really serve the purpose of this post. (*: I messed up)

The piece that is important is that it forced me to think more appropriately about backup and restore for my phone contacts’ list.

Let’s be fair, like many of us, I store many phone numbers on my mobile only and do not have a copy of them somewhere else. Should you loose that phone number’s list on you mobile, you could collect them back investing some effort and time.  It turns sour when you think about having to retype them by dozens on your mobile: time consuming and rather boring. Best would be to have an electronic copy somewhere that you could automatically upload on your mobile.

I found, amongst others, this good article from mobilementalism: Top 5 Ways To Backup and Safeguard Your Mobile Data. I recalled about Zyb from a discussion I had with a good friend of mine 2 years ago: I didn’t liked the “social dimension” of Zyb. I didn’t know about Mobical.net nor Mobyko.com. I discarded Mobyko because I’m not ready yet to pay for a online backup of my mobile phone data.

Here is my review of Mobical.

The first impression that I have accessing the website is very pleasant: Simple, light, no bling-bling. I notice that the Mobical home page is https by default.

mobical-homepage

Browsing the “About” section provides you a lot of good info. Mobical is a demonstration service from Tactel. … Mmmm… I wonder if the Mobile Phone Backup service offered by Proximus to its customers is built from Tactel’ solution. I’m investigating on this.

You can verify that your mobile is compatible with Mobical on this page: Certified Devices.

Registering an account is very easy: minimal number of information to provide. Then you need to configure your mobile phone to synchronize with Mobical. I used the automatic configuration approach (via SMS) but manual steps exist too.

Mobical can synchronize the following components: calendar, contacts, appointments, tasks, notes, bookmarks, and SMS. Bear in mind that there is no automatic/scheduled synchronization. You have to do it yourself, initiating it from your mobile phone.

I must say that I did not test extensively all the features except how my phone contacts were handled. This is indeed useful if you want to add multiple contacts or modify details of your existing contacts. Import is possible using vCard file. Last but lot least, export is also available, outputting in a vCard file (vCard version 2.1). The interface for adding, editing an entry is a pop-up window generated by the webpage itself.

There are 3 additional sections on the page “My Account”. The section “Settings” is all about configuring Mobical for you. The section “Backups” is the master piece: you have here the possibility to create multiple backup/restore sets of your data, storing them online. Finally, the section “History” shows you all the synchronizations that you triggered from you mobile phone.

If you want more details about what kind of experience Mobical is about, give it a try!

Conclusion:

I wanted a online service that provides backup for my mobile contacts list and that could restore them should I lose my phone or some of my phone numbers. Does Mobical fulfill my needs ?  Yes it does, … easily and nicely.