A Quick Look at Flock 2.0 Beta

18 Jun 2010
June 18, 2010

flock-button-200x60The latest beta of Flock’s “social browser” is out now and I thought I’d give it a look this week. I’ve checked it out in the past but generally been pretty underwhelmed… In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever written about it before. However, this latest version is based on Chromium which is the same code running Google’s Chrome browser and I’m rather bull’ish on Chrome.

Here’s the pitch:

Flock is faster, simpler, and more friendly. Literally. It’s the only sleek, modern web browser with the built-in ability to keep you up-to-date with your Facebook andTwitter friends.

The install is simple, as is the initial startup experience. I created a flock account (seemed to be necessary to use the social features) and then pointed it towards my Twitter and Facebook accounts. The browser started and I have this nifty little sidebar on the lift that has all the activity from both services mixed in.

Using the browser is, for the most part, just like using Google Chrome with slightly different fonts and colors. Basically, this seems like another Chromium port with a sidebar so I looked a little closer at the sidebar.

I don’t love it.

OK, I don’t hate it, but it is missing a few features that really bug me.

  1. No Twitter Groups support. The Flock sidebar does support groups and offers some really cool features. But. No access to your pre-existing twitter groups
  2. No Facebook comments. Yes, you see Facebook status updates from your friends, but you don’t see any comments or “likes” that might be on those updates. You have to click them (one by one) to see if anyone commented. Ugh.

Odd design decision? The twitter stream shows everything, including replies where you don’t know both parties. Old school! I’m on the fence if that’s good or bad.

If you really like Chrome and want some social integration, then give Flock 2.0 beta a look – unless you’re big into setting up Twitter groups! I’m going to hold off for now and see what subsequent betas bring to the table. Perhaps there’s more to come that will make me a bit more excited to switch over.

Office 2010 Live on SkyDrive

10 Jun 2010
June 10, 2010

Years late to the party, but Microsoft has finally made their online office suite a bit more available to the general public. I learned about it from the “Office is now live on SkyDrive” article:

[…] if you live in the US, UK, Canada, or Ireland, you can head over to Office.live.com today to start viewing and editing Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote documents right in your web browser – and share them with your friends.

I’ve been playing with it a bit over the past few days and am pretty impressed. You can do all the stuff you’d expect: Upload existing docs to SkyDrive, edit them there or locally (with Office plugins I believe), collaborate, share, go mobile, etc.

Office Live on SkyDrive

The Web version of OneNote is especially worth a look. At first blush it is almost exactly like the real deal… but that blush fades after a little digging. Still, very impressive. Very useful.

What I really love is the fact that the tab key works so well for indenting / out-denting list items (which is one of my favorite features of the “real” OneNote). All the normal keyboard shortcuts work too: Ctrl-1 for the first tag item (checkbox by default), etc.

What’s disappointing about the web version of OneNote? You can’t customize the tags which is something I rely on for my own GTD’ish way (inspiration) of doing things. Sadly that doesn’t matter much because you can’t view/search by tags either. That’s a bit disappointing. I uploaded some of my old Notebooks but couldn’t open them with the online version. That too was a bit disappointing.

But still. Good stuff and worth a look.

Dropbox Selective Sync Experimental Build

07 Jun 2010
June 7, 2010

Dropbox - Secure backup, sync and sharing made easy.Here’s an exciting tidbit for the Dropbox users: Selective Sync is likely coming soon! This is an oft-requested feature and I, for one, am quite excited to see it coming. Just think, not every folder in your Dropbox will have to be synced to every machine.

I have an old Asus Eee 701 4G netbook – the old-school one with the 4GB SSD drive. Incredibly handy machine to have around for “utility” purposes, but I had to remove Dropbox from it because I had more in my Dropbox than this thing has storage! With this new feature I’ll be able to sync just the few directories I need on the netbook and still have enough space to, you know, install an operating system.

I haven’t installed the experimental build yet, I’ve had issues in the past getting too far ahead of the releases, but I’m really looking forward to a peek soon. Anyone running it – what did you think?

Remote Desktop Connection Manager 2.2

04 Jun 2010
June 4, 2010

Microsoft released version 2.2 of Remote Desktop Connection Manager last week and I have to say that I am rather impressed. Been a long time since I checked out their RD Connection Manager so I’m not sure what’s new to this version but there are some great features here.

For instance, you can create a group of machines and then connect to all of them with a single click. Nice when working on a project that spans servers like a lab. You can see each machine framed in the connection manager or you can monitor them all at once by thumbnails. The thumbnail view over multiple machines is pretty awesome – you can even click in the thumbnails and control them! An interesting way to monitor process monitors on a bunch of machines at once.

The image below shows the “Connect Group” option and one of my home desktops in a (rather large) thumbnail view:

Remote Desktop Connection Manager 2.2 in action

You can have many machines open at once and toggle the thumbnails you see just by clicking the groups that you’ve pre-configured.

Not as fancy as my essential app mRemote, but for “just” remote desktop connections this is about as good as I could ask for (mRemote adds VNC, ssh/telnet, HTTP(s), etc) and the price is right. The thumbnail view option alone has me planning on using this more often now that I’ve discovered it.