Applications that are downloaded and installed on the local device. These applications can be used to manage (view, create, edit, publish) MicroContent.
I have been using Google Plus now for several days and time to draw some conclusions: I do not like it. But I am still intrigued by it.
At it’s heart Google Plus is a blog aggregator / reader, and a lousy one at that. I much prefer to read my blogs (i.e. RSS-feeds) in NetNewsWire. Google Plus uses the Combined View layout of NetNewsWire. It is a layout that I do not like, it is not efficient enough to my liking. I like to skim headlines and go from headline to headline quick.
But it is also the way people use Google Plus. Some write original posts and thus G+ becomes a blogging service. Others republish their posts from their blogs and it becomes just another venue. Others use it as a bookmarking service, where they post URL’s with (hopefully) a small comment. And yet others use it as a photo publishing service. And again other use it as a microblogging-service.
It is nice that G+ is so diverse, but your blogging service could have done the same. For me it becomes to much. I have to inefficiently wade through posts in order to find a gem. I prefer the short messages of Twitter, where I can quickly scan and decide whether I want to dive in. G+ forces me to see all.
The discussions of G+ are an interesting feature. Normally I do not engage quickly into a discussion, but on G+ I tend to react more often. I am not sure that I want to do that, time is short. When I read a blog in my newsreader, I hardly ever descend to the blog-webpage in order to react. In my Tweet-reader I react much more often with either replies and/or retweets. This makes a lower quality channel. And my blog(s) become a higher quality channel. And it is up to the reader to chose the quality level they want to follow.
I do the same when following people, I decide what part I want to see of them. Some I follow on twitter and other on their blogs. I also can decide on the nature and type of content I want to follow. A granularity that G+ does not give me.
What is left is the whole circle thing of G+. I do not see the value of it. I never really used it the last days. I do not use it to filter my stream. I either follow somebody or I don’t. The same goes for posting: I always post to public and I leave the decision up to the reader to decide whether he wants to see it.
And finally there are some fundamental things about G+ that I do not like. I want to own what I publish. Of everything that I write a copy stays on my machine and my backups. I publish myself on my own blogs. And I republish with some service providers. I want to get my data out of a service. And I want RSS-feeds so that I can decide how I consume the content.
Well, I will follow G+ for a while more, engage from time to time, follow some people in my RSS-reader and see whether things change.
There is now some evidence that young users prefer apps over a browser on mobile devices. I wonder when this will extend to other devices as well? It might start with an iPad, but I hope will extend to normal PC’s. Then I can retrieve my MicroContent Client posts.
There exist many services on internet, which help the user to manage his wine cellar. It is hard to determine what is a good service. I tend to go with CellarTracker as it seems to have a large database of wines.
In order to get an overview of possible applications, I had a look in the Home&Learning; category of the downloads section at Apple. And I had a look at the wine tag at iUseThis. I found the following applications:
There are several applications on the iPhoneOS that support wine tastings. Cor.kz looks interesting as it has integration with CellarTracker. I noticed wineSnob, OpenCellar, Drync. And there are many apps that help you to buy a wine.
In conclusion, there is no service/application/app combo that fits my bill. For the moment I continue with CellarTracker, Cor.kz and WineXT.
A new application for tagging on MacOSX is introduced: Tags by Gravity Apps. This allows a user to add tags to files, music, web-pages etc. Any application that supports AppleScript in the right way is supported (OmniWeb: fail, MarsEdit: fail). One can use Spotlight are the tags application to find tagged files. Tags has a simple tags browser (could be improved).
This is a very interesting application. I do not understand why they use the weird interface, let me at least select another, standard one.
I have a feeling that the standard way of finding files, the Finder, is slowly morphing into something else with all these addon’s and applications. Time for Apple to step forward here.
Another application, BusySync, that does syncing calendars came in the news today, thanks to the Eddy they just won. So an opportunity to try it out. This application does a bit more than the Calaboration application that I just looked at. BusyMac allows for syncing of iCal calendars on your local network and between different users on a single machine.
This application installs itself as a preference-pane, which seems second best location. The best would be an installation within iCal itself, but I guess iCal does not support these kind of extensions.
In the preference-pane the user can specify which of the calendars must be published (read and/or write access) and one can subscribe to published calendars on the network. It also allows for publishing and subscribing to Google calendars. Makes you wonder about interference with Calaboration.
And the preference pane allows you to reset the things, start afresh and resolve conflicts. Which shows that syncing remains a difficult business.
I just downloaded, installed and ran Calaboration. This small application creates a Caldev-link between the iCal application and Google Calendar. I am not a Google calendar user, but as far as I can see, calendars that have been defined in Google Calendar will be created in iCal as well.
Then one can create an event in either iCal or Google Calendar and the two calendars will be synchronised.
I do not know how well it works, but it made me thinking about replication, duplication and synchronisation of MicroContent. Should dive into this a bit.
Since a week I am using Bento for two different projects. The application offers a great flexibility, which is great. For such a young application there are naturally still many improvements that can be made.
Bento is called a personal database system and can (and should) not be compared to a full fledged relational database application. And this is also the challenge for the developers: what functionality can be added without becoming to complex. I have the feeling that quite a lot can still be added without becoming to advanced. It should have not become more complex than one of Apple’s iApps.
In my first testcase I created a flat database, such as a collectioneur might use. In my case the collection consists op bottle caps. I have a version of this database online at Listphile. As you can see there, a record consists of a title, a description, an image, links, etc.
It might seem that I have a lot on comments on Bento (and that I am not happy with it). The contrary is true. It just inspires me and I see many growth directions. The list here are just some ideas that I would use right away. It can become more complete without being much more complex. It does not have to be as simple as iTunes, but can be complex as Keynote. Anyway, I put my money where my mouth is and acquired the application.
Bento is a relatively new application under MacOSX. It recently got an update and is now called Bento 2. This application can be seen as a generic MicroContent Client. Bento is created by the makers of Filemaker, which is a true database application. Bento is fortunately much more simple and reminds much more of MicroContent. So let’s look at it in more detail.
Bento allows the user to create any MicroContent Type he likes. In Bento each MicroContent Type is called a library. The user can create as much types as he wants. Each Library consists of one or multiple fields. One can select from field types text, number, choice, textbox, media, time, date, duration, counting, rating, address, phone number, email address and URL. This shows the database origin of Bento. As nothing is preset, one can add any field, one can say that Bento supports Wild MicroContent.
The nice thing of Bento is that it can link to other MicroContent Types. These links are called Lists. Out of the box Bento recognizes File Lists, Message Lists, Address Lists, Event Lists and Task Lists. These Lists are by the way linked to the Finder, Mail, AddressBook and iCal applications. These fields are truly Lists as they can be linked to multiple Items.
Also nice is that one can export definitions of MicroContent Types, called Library Templates. So sharing of MicroContent definitions is thus easy for Bento users.
The main Bento screen is very straightforward and reminiscent of other MicroContent Clients. On the left one has the Libraries pane. Each MicroContent Type is indicated by booklike icon. The libraries such as Address Book, iCal Events and iCal Tasks are preset. For each Library it is possible to create handpicked and smart lists. Thus the small icon labelled ‘beer’ indicates a smart list from Capsules.
Below the libraries pane one can see a field pane. This pane allows to add and remove fields. The visibility of this field pane can be suppressed. Also the visibility of the entire library/field pane can be suppressed.
The top right pane is the standard Items pane in table format. One can drag columns around, set the sorting on a column. The nice thing of this implementation is that it works like a spreadsheet. And one can suppress the visibility of this pane.
This brings us to the view-pane. As expected this shows an individual Item. Each field is presented with its label. Note the Bookmarks and Tags Lists, which are presented as Item-panelets. Everything in Bento is editable. There is no separate edit-mode. Thus any field can be changed as needed. Some fields come with preset buttons, for external linking, etc. Below the view-pane one can see controls to add/delete/import/export/print Items.
Above the view-pane buttons allow to change forms or to change to items-pane. The layout of the view-pane is known as a form. And the user can define as many forms as he like. And this is another important feature of Bento. The user can design the view-pane form. Thus he can set which fields should appear on a form, where they should appear, etc. There is no separate design-mode either, anything can be changed, resized, etc. at will.
Naturally Bento can still be improved. I would like to seem integration with other applications, such as iPhoto, iTunes and iMovie. I would like to see some standard libraries for MicroContent Types such as bookmarks, blogs, recipes, etc. I would like to see support for tags as a field type.
Instead of the table format for the Items pane, I would like to see support other formats, such as a grid format for images. I have mixed feelings on the instant editability and designability. I would like to see some locking mechanisms to prevent errors.
The import and export facilities are reminiscent of a true database: csv and tab-delimited files. I miss XML support, such as RSS and OPML and a Internet publishing facility.
All in all a very good application for those who like to keep lists or have the need for a simple database. I guess I will be buy it.
I started playing with Twine. It is not very obvious from the beginning. I must find and invest some more time in it.
NetNewsWire drops support for microformat. I am afraid that is a right decision. NJobody seems to use microformats within feeds/blog posts. So deleting this code will speed up NNW, which is of greater importance.
[Inspiration Chris Casciano]
The Photo Browser Window shows the images that can be found in the iPhoto-database. The window is limited to a Lists-pane (at the top) and an Items-pane (at the bottom). The size of the window can be changed to view more or les images in the Items-pane.
The Lists-pane shows all Lists, handpicked and smart, Events, etc that are also found and defined in iPhoto (no Albums though). The Events-list even changes the content of the Items-pane to mimic iPhoto’s behaviour. Thus moving the mouse over an events image will present the images pertaining to that event.
And finally there is a search facility (title, description, keywords and rating) for quickly finding images. The window also supports videos, but these have to be in the iPhoto supported format.
The only thing that I miss is access to the Pictures folder and the image scaling.
With the introduction of the lasted release of Firefox 3, a new approach to managing bookmarks has been introduced. In order to test this feature I imported my 3000 some bookmarks from WebNoteHappy. This did not make Firefox very happy, I had a crash, but in the end I could access these bookmarks. Unfortunately all this bookmarks were added to my Bookmarks Menu. This really brought Firefox to a temporary halt when I accessed the bookmarks menu item. I missed the cross-application exchange of folders and tags from WebNoteHappy (a lack of standards?).
The Items-pane shows the bookmarks of a selected list in table format. The user can determine which fields must be shown. In addition to the bookmark fields, the user can also show the visit date, the visit count, the added date or the last visited date.
The most interesting part is the Lists-pane, as this is not totally compatible with other MicroContent Clients. The History-list is a folder with the recent browsing behaviour, so not really a bookmark thing. The Tags-List is really a group that contains preprogrammed smart folders for each tag. Each tag-folder contains the bookmarks that have been tagged as such. The All Bookmarks group is really the entire library of bookmarks. This group contains three other lists/groups: the Bookmarks Toolbar group, the Bookmarks Menu group and the Unsorted Bookmarks group. These three groups are fixed and one can not add other groups on this level.
When adding a bookmark one can chose on of these groups or any folder in these groups. One can also drag&drop bookmarks from one group to another. The Bookmarks Menu group has two predefined Smart Lists: Recently Bookmarked and Recent Tags. I assume that ‘recent’ means the last 10. These Lists can be d&d’d to other groups.
The Bookmarks Toolbar group has smart lists for Most Visited and Latest Headlines. It is again unclear what Most Visited means. Latest Headlines refer to Items in a RSS-feed. This seems to be part of the Live Bookmarks feature of Firefox.
All in all a pretty reasonable implementation of a MicroContent Client, but it is not match for WebNoteHappy. The tag-feature is nice, but the approach will break down with hundred of tags. I miss XBEL-support. And I can not create my own smart lists. And it is just to slow for many bookmarks.
On the other hand the integration with the browsers allows to create smart folders such as ‘most visited’. I do not like the split between Toolbar, Menu and the rest. In this way there is no entire library. I understand why it was done in this way, it seems simpler. The integration of the URI-bar with the bookmarks library is very nice. This allows to make very clever URL-suggestions and can indicate whether the URL has been bookmarked yet.
The user can create multiple ‘newspaper pages’, add feeds and assign a feed to a pane. The location of the panes and the format for each pane is set and can not be changed.
At this stage of the application I have mixed feelings. I appreciate the possibility to see multiple headline in one glance, so I can quickly scan news. Depending on how interesting a feed is I can increase of decrease the amount I see. So it should be much quicker scanning and reading. If there is something interesting I can drag it to a shelf for later reading.
I however miss some control. How can I see whether I read an article or not? Why can I not edit my RSS-URLS? My RSS-feed did not show anything, I was not able to figure out what went wrong. The import feeds from NetNewsWire is nice, but with hundreds of feeds imported shows that tthe current feed management solution is not the right one.
However the application shows an interesting new visual apporach to MicroContent. And one that I do not yet have fully my head around.
I have very mixed feelings after reading this post on ReadWriteWeb. I agree with the conclusions, but not with the reasons.
Web Apps do not yet have the required trust in order to become mainstream. You only trust what you have in your hands, on your computer. A good point. There is a lack of transparency. With a browser based web app, you know your data is in the cloud. With a desktop based web app it is much unclearer where your data is stored. There is no need to know, location is transparent.
One of the reason mentioned is that Web Apps are not ubiquitous yet. We do not have access everywhere yet. a very good argument. I loven reading blog-posts, listening to music, looking at vidcasts, creating blog-posts, when I am forced to be offline.
I agree with the comment that ‘the browser is no place for multitasking’. Josh Catone wants to replace it with multiple browser applications, each application for a single web app, as is the intention with Mozilla Prism. As indicated in the post: ‘a browser is not for hosting applications’. Adobe AIR is already a much better approach, but it is not good enough. Real desktop apps are just much better. Just have a look at MarsEdit, WebNoteHappy, etc. Unfortunately there are now also bad MacOSX examples, such as net4mac, which is just a dedicated browser. Real Desktop Web Apps are based on API’s and not on parroting the corresponding web-pages.
For me it is all about the integrated experience between all the applications.
The TimeLine application by Bee Docs is an interesting application. It reminded me of the role of time in MicroContent, but hat should be a future post.
In TimeLine one can either import MicroContent Items or create one’s own. A TimeLine Item consists of a title, a date (or a date range), notes (optional), an image (optional) and a link (optional).
On creating a new TimeLine it is possible to import Items from the AddressBook (birthdays), iCal (a selected calendar), iPhoto (creation dates), iTunes (recently playes songs/albums), RSS/Atom feeds, System Profiler (recent Apple updates), Skitch and NetNewsWire (publish dates). And when Images are available they are shown on the timeline.
The timeline is one of the presentation modes for MicroContent. The other are the table, the grid and location.
All in all very interestying. Unfortunately I did not have a need yet for such visualisation. The application si a bit rough at times. I had a few stalls that required me to force quit the app. I would like to see the possibility to import events at a later stage and on the secondary timeline. And I guess there other Items that could be imported as well, a Framework to do this would be in place, although the generic RSS/Atom helps a lot. And I woulk like to see a zoom possibility, so that I can see the entire timeline in a single screen.