Andrew John Smallwood

Digital Dynamo & Online Expert

The next Google Reader

I’m worried.

Google Reader has it’s writing on the wall and I don’t know what to do.

Why?

I have a wealth of read or starred articles in my Google Reader account, they’re all nicely organised into folders and more importantly I use Google Reader every day.

The only thing is, that I don’t actually use Google Reader every day. I use the data that it outputs but the user interface so so horrible that I would never actually sit and read Google Reader.

What do I use?

Flipboard.

Continue reading “The next Google Reader” »

Wave goodbye to Google Wave

So, one of the most anticipated launches of 2009, Google Wave has come to an end less than a year later in 2010. At one point, Google Wave invites were passing hands on eBay for hundreds of dollars but now it’s getting brushed under the carpet. There were definitely some critics of the technology that set out to replace email.

On the one hand, it was a concept that was better than email. On the other hand, perhaps this was a step too far ahead of its users but you can’t blame Google for trying.I don’t think it has all been a waste though. A lot of that innovation won’t end up on the scrap heap, but surely must be reused in alternative projects.For example, we already have (in the US) embeddable maps within GMail. One of the hallmark features of creating a wave was being able to embed a map and collaborate on it. This feature will  live on and hopefully be released throughout the world soon. Continue reading “Wave goodbye to Google Wave” »

Chrome OS imminent?

It feels more and more likely that Google Chrome OS will be upon us very soon. There have been mutterings throughout the industry that the first Chrome inspired netbooks are being developed and they may be out just in time for Christmas.This must mean that the finishing touches are being applied to Google Chrome OS over at Mountain View and this is evident in many developments that are happening online.The most obvious addition to the Google homepage is that you can now customise it with any image you wish.

This obviously mimics the fact that we can customise our wallpapers on our desk and laptops. It also leads me to believe that any normal ‘desktop’ will be eradicated from Chrome OS. Obviously OSX rarely uses the desktop (due to the dock) and you should be encouraged to use it as a temporary storage space rather than a hub for shortcuts (as Microsoft would prefer).Also, new subtle upgrades and additions to Maps, Docs and Gmail make these pages look more like the web apps that they are and further away from web pages (what they are in essence). Continue reading “Chrome OS imminent?” »

Web design protocols

As web design continues to grow, we seem to be bombarded with an endless list of client requirements that we need to adhere to.Some are interested in accessibility, some think they are avid designers themselves, most won’t take no for an answer.There are a number of tools available to help alleviate some of the production time associated with our projects. Most of these tools are battling for our attention and they mainly deal with the initial planning of a project or website.I’ve recently been using Slickplan to create simple site maps.

Everyone can draw a sitemap if they really wanted to, but why should it take an hour when it could take 5 minutes. Slickplan is really easy to use and, although it’s not extensive, it will quickly produce a site map that your client can read.The hole in between a sitemap and a design is plugged with a wireframing application. In the past, I’ve been using PowerPoint to create wireframes. The presentation is largely dependent on the library of elements at your disposal but again the process can be slow and largely dissappointing. It can be quite difficult to line elements up and even if you manage that, it can still look quite poor. Continue reading “Web design protocols” »

Chrome, more than just a browser

We should have seen it coming, the rise of Google has resulted in Docs, Calendar, GMail, Picasa and Orkut amongst many others. Wave is on the way too. But then they announced Chrome OS. It just makes perfect sense for Google to take their portfolio of applications and turn it into an operating system, and perhaps only they can take on Microsoft.They even had the audacity to take a dig at Microsoft:

“We are completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates.

“It should just work,” said Google. from BBC News

They intend to work WITH other companies instead of against them. For example, Google will be working alongside Adobe in efforts to integrate Flash and Air as much as possible. Microsoft decide that they need to develop their own ‘Flash imitation’ called Silverlight. We need De Facto standards, not rivalries.

Microsoft are the biggest name in the industry but Google are snapping at their heels because they collaborate with so many other companies. Apple will survive because of it’s cult following. The rest of Silicon Valley had better help Google because it’s in their best interests.

It may take a good decade but finally there is a realistic threat to the monopoly that is Microsoft.

iPhone, therefore ical

I am trying to vary my blog posts but 3 days into owning the holy grail of current technology, I felt compelled to post about the iPhone again. But, this isn’t an ordinary post! For those that find it, it can serve as a tutorial on how to receive push calendar combining iCal and gCal. There is an added twist as well!I’ve used girlfriend for the duration of this explanation, please alter accordingly1 – The SituationI lead a pretty hectic life if you include work, freelance work, mates, girlfriend, family, girlfriends mates (in no particular order). I do not own a diary, the iPhone was going to be the answer to my prayers. A diary at the touch of a button, great!My problem is that when my girlfriend tells me she’s arranged a date for the diary, it goes in one ear and out the other. Although, I swear that sometimes she never tells me and just assumes that I know (but that’s neither here nor there).The solution, my girlfriend can update my calendar from her iPhone or the Internet and it will wirelessly update on my Mac, on the Internet and my iPhone, no wires attached! You may say it’s easy, but you may also have a MobileMe account, or you may have paid for BusySync or NuevaSync etc… If you are like me and you’ve already shelved out enough money on the phone itself, I’d rather do things as cheaply as possible – or free. Believe me, this is going to stop a lot of arguements and my grey hair growth may slow down as a result.Solution:

  1. Sign up for Google Calendar (I’m sure you already have).
  2. In iCal, add your gCal account in preferences using CalDav – View tutorial (you can now read and write from iCal – gCal, test by refreshing)
  3. Set up CalDav in your iPhone – View Tutorial – (you can now read/write from your iPhone – iCal & gCal, test by refreshing)
  4. Share your google calendar with your girlfriend. Give her read/write privileges (under settings)
  5. Download the Google Apps App for iPhone on your girlfriend’s phone
  6. Log in to Google Calendar (gCal) scroll down and click settings, you may need to deselect>save>exit, reselect>save>exit the shared calendar in order to make it visible in the browser window
  7. Test it, your girfriend should be able to edit something in the shared Google Calendar (on iPhone/Internet). This should update in your iCal (Mac), gCal (internet), iCal (iPhone).
  8. Ta  da! No more arguments, well, no more arguments about arranging your life.
  9. A nice touch from the lovely people at Google is that if your girlfriend edits something that you’ve already input, you’ll be sent an update email! How nice!

Issues:I haven’t gone to the trouble to find out how to totally share iCals from iPhone > Internet > iPhone because I don’t need to. My girlfriend still uses an old fashioned filofax but she can keep me updated wirelessly.I haven’t found out how to share and update multiple calendars so I’m just going to use one.I’ve trawled the web looking for a free answer to this so when it happened, I thought it was too good to be true, I’ll update you if there are any bugs because I can’t believe that I’ve solved this problem. Alternatively, let me know if this is easy and Ive just been looking in the wrong place! I look forward to your feedback (as long as it’s constructive).