Category Archives: Product Reviews

office.live.com – Docs in the Cloud

For a while, there have been offerings from Google (Google Apps/Docs), Zoho, and others, and recently, Microsoft jumped into the “online office” game with office.live.com.

Pretty cool. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in the cloud. Limited, but you can create docs, share them, edit them, with *no software* installed on your system. Good in a pinch, good to sync some docs up that you might want to edit, good on a relatives computer that doesn’t have office.

Where have I started to use it more though? OneNote. What is OneNote? Well, before Office 2010, OneNote was installed as a separate application with Office. Kind of like Visio. My biggest problem with OneNote was that I was stuck to my laptop, or whatever. Had to be on the actual box.

Now, you can create a OneNote notebook in the cloud, and edit it in the browser, or on your machine. OneNote also has some cool features, like

“You can now share your notes with other OneNote users in real time by hosting or participating in shared note-taking sessions. Over a live connection, you can work together on a project or share a read-only copy of your notes with an audience.”. It also integrates nicely with tablet/bamboo and mic/text/voice recognition, as well as Outlook and meetings, etc. Integration everywhere.

I actually like OneNote better than Evernote – but Evernote I can get on my computers, web, iPad and iPhone. Yes, there is a OneNote iPhone app (MobileNoter) but you have to install a client, blah blah. Should just work over the cloud.

Anyways, if you need office online in a pinch, try office.live.com, but also check out OneNote and using it with others to share/read notes in real time, really cool features.

Goto Meeting vs Whatever

I have used a ton of “meeting” apps. Live Meeting, Goto Meeting, ATT Web Conference, TeamViewer, etc, etc.

Best of the best? My opinion? Goto Meeting. Easy to setup, easy to use. Just works.

There is also an iPad app! I have used a couple of times and it works great. Whenever some *other* meeting software seems to fail, Goto Meeting works.

Not saying there isn’t room for improvement, but it just seems to always work. I have had to use it to step in when LiveMeeting fails, or ATT web meeting fails, etc. It is a pretty awesome product and if you have a chance to use it, I would say go for it, You won’t be disappointed.

One Thing About the iPhone 4..

I still love it. Like I said, I don’t use it as a phone. But I have noticed something different (And I blame AT&T for this – working for cell phone company for 5 years, I blame the carrier :))

In Madison/Sun Prairie, I get 3G ,works great, no issues. When I drive out to work, in the big city of Waterloo, WI – there is no 3G, just Edge/2G. I noticed that the phone is just “Searching..” or low bars – trying VERY hard to connect.

What I did was turn off 3G and it was at FULL bars. So once I get to work, I turn off 3G, and once I leave, I turn it back on.

What it is, the phone is hanging on to the 3G signal from the big town of Sun Prairie, and tries, tries, tries its hardest to hold on to that. Bad handoffs or something. The cell sites aren’t handing it off gracefully to the Edge/2G network, so I have to force it.

Go figure.

Thoughts on the iPhone 4

I picked up my iPhone 4 on Friday afternoon (July 16th). Wonderful device. Retina display is awesome. Video camera, front facing camera, flash: awesome.

People wonder about the dropped calls, etc. Whatever. First, I may be different. I haven’t even USED the phone yet. I don’t really use the iPhone as a phone. Personal Handheld Online News Entertainment ? Who knows.. I use it for everything but a phone. Maps, Reading, Feeds, Twitter, Facebook, News, Movies, Games, Work, Email, etc, etc, etc. It isn’t a phone. :)

Any ways, Steve Jobs already told us that we are getting bumpers, I might use it.

This device is the best out there, by far. Most gripes might be with AT&T, not Apple. Like others have said, build a better device, and then we will see. I don’t see it yet. I have tried other devices and they just aren’t as smooth.

I can’t wait for Emily to get hers so we can do the FaceTime thing, that will really be awesome.


Thoughts on the iPad

I am writing this from my iPad. What do I think of it? Pretty awesome. More apps will make it even better.

Playing “board” games is pretty fun. Crosswords, Sudoku, Words with Friends and others.

IMDB and Wikipanion are nice too. News and magazine apps make total sense. Of course this device is just completely built for consuming media but you can still create as I am now.

I like email in landscape mode, maps is awesome too.

Biggest thing i wish i could do? SMS. Other than that i am pretty pleased.

Next versions of the iPad will be better (as usual) so I am pretty excited.

Redgate SQL Search – Free Download

I have always wanted a good way to search all the db’s on a server, find procs, views, whatever that have something in their DDL so i could do what I want with it. There are ways using DMV’s or other things in SQL Server, but it just becomes a pain.

Then came along SQL Search (http://www.red-gate.com/products/SQL_Search/index.htm) – from Redgate. And it is free! Works like a charm. It eliminates the need to fire up some query and change what you are looking for. It works well. Check it out the next time you are trying to find every object that has “whatever” in its T-SQL DDL.

Reeder, a Google Reader App for iPhone

I have tried many iPhone Google Reader apps, and nothing has come close to working well for me but the web app as a web clip shortcut. That changed this week when I checked out Reeder (http://reederapp.com/2/)

I read a ton of Google Reader (usually 10,000+ posts a month) so I need something good. Reeder has actually replaced my Web Clip Reader link on my second iPhone page as my go to Google Reader app.

If you read a lot of feeds, from Google Reader, I suggest checking out Reeder.

FlickrFetchr – great little Mac app to download flickr sets (supports Guest Passes!)

I get photo’s shared with me on Flickr. Guest Passes. Pretty cool to look at them and do slideshows online, but what if I want to download them all?

There are many apps out there for windows and mac that let you download your OWN sets, or also download public sets from other users, but I needed to get a guest pass set.

stumbled upon this, FlickrFetchr. Works as promised, nice little app.


Product Review: Balsamiq Mockups

Have you ever wanted to quickly mockup software, website, iPhone app, etc? Most people do it on paper, or try something in Visio, or Word, or even Excel!!! But they just lack that feeling of what they want you to build. I was looking around on the web and stumbled upon Balsamiq Mockups

I download the Adobe Air app pretty quickly and got started, I wanted to see how quickly I could mock up a website I am working on, because there are some new pages and I want just a template, and then be able to quickly mock up what a new page would look like and let the other team members see it without having to code anything. Check this out (this is an example of my site, not the final version):

image

I did this in less than 5 minutes. I spent more time and refined it to what I wanted, and now I have a template which I can use for new pages, and also a mockup of a report page.

Check out http://mockupstogo.net/?c=1 to get more items, and see examples. You can mock up pretty much any existing site on the web or app, this software is awesome! I wish I would have had this for the last 8 years doing software development.

There was one thing I couldn’t figure out, which was a bar graph but having the bars as columns, but I am guessing I just don’t know how to rotate it, or I need to download some more mock objects.

If you are looking for some software to easily mock up new projects to clients, or to other users on your team, or whoever, check out this tool, you will find that it is easy to use and allows you to quickly mock up and communicate what you are looking for in an end result to your devs as well as other team members (there are some awesome collaboration tools they have baked in – even if someone doesn’t have balsamiq installed, they can import an XML file into a web version to view what it looks like, tweak it, and email it back to you)

Try it out, and happy mocking! :)