At first there was an Internet, then came web pages. Then they evolve to blogs and eventually vlogs. Parallel to that, MP3 songs were blooming, then came iPod. Now the two equally important technologies can be merged to become one. Introducing vodcasting for the masses (by way of iTunes). In the near future, there won’t be much we can’t do with iTunes and our iPod. Unless, of course, Steve Jobs’ world domination plan is stopped before it bears any fruit.

vodcasting via iTunes

Tactile Computing

TactaPad image

I read about this before but didn’t really pay attention. This may not make carpal tunnel syndrome a thing of the past, but it could take porn surfing personal computing to a whole new level. Imagine how much more effecient it would be to fully utilize both hands to perform the same tasks on the computer? Dang it, I want want one.

It uses a camera as well as the tactile pad to track both motion and action of user’s hands. Forced feedback on the pad allows more precision and control on what’s going on. The company, Taciva of California, is trying to find someone to license the technology for the mass market. My feeling is, “WHAT? It’s not licensed yet?”

A couple of video demos can be found on the site.

Thanks to Brian for the site.

Exposé for the Non-Macs

Apple’s Exposé (more info here) was probably one of the most important windows management breakthroughs since “Alt + Tab”. Not too long after Apple released it along with Panther, developers soon found ways to simulate the effects in Windows.

Case in point:

On the Opensource side, developers haven’t been standing idle. They also have come up with remarkable apps with similar tricks.

Before we jump the gun and accuse everyone else for stealing introducing Apple’s innovations in other platforms, I must confess that I first saw an Expos%uFFFD-like functionality on a Linux system even before the introduction of Panther. And according to this document at Microsoft’s very own UI Research lab, a similar functionality had been in existence long before Mac OSX. Unfortunately the project just never made it to various releases of Windows.

Fold n' Drop windows

Now let’s take it a step further and examine some up and coming technologies. First up is Fold n’ Drop project from a French lab. The idea is to treat windows as pieces of paper. A user can fold, flip and leaf through them. There’s demo video and a Java demo app you can test it out. Very neat. And someone’s already made it work on a Windows Machine.

Project Looking Glass

Another pretty cool application is from Sun Microsystems. Porject Looking Glass manipulates the Desktop and its windows each as 3D objects. It has features even a Mac user will envy. I was hoping to see some of them to be implemented in Tiger.

A demo is available for playback.

Other emerging implementations:

I am sure there are plenty more advanced UI projects in the labs. If anyone knows any that’s not here, please do share them with me.

Speaking of emerging technologies, IBM’s “alphaWorks: Emerging technologies” website has been in my bookmarks for the longest time. It’s a site that features the latest technologies at IBM labs that are available for licensing.

Xmail Hard Drive.com

Xmail Hard Drive logoWhen Gmail first came out, there were a couple of hacks that allowed users to make their Gmail accounts as remote drives. But of course they didn’t really catch on. Found this today: Xmail Hard Drive.com. It effectively makes your Gmail account a remote storage. But it requires that you provide your login name/passowrd to a third party… I am not so sure about that…

via [LifeHacker]

Delicious Library — WOW!

Delicious Library logo I have read about Delicious Library at quite a few places. But I never really thought much of it. So last night, I decided to kick the tires at this award-winning software…. Boy, was I blown away or what!!

Once you use one of the three methods (Title, Author, ISBN) to search for your item (books, DVDs, CDs and games), the result is returned fairly quickly from Amazon.com’s database (needless to say, you need to be connected to the Internet to use this).

But there are still things I was annoyed at:

  • It only searches at Amazon’s database: I had some books that showed up only at Barns and Noble but not at Amazon. So I ended up having to hand code those. I also had to borrow pictures of some books from BN.com from time to time.
  • It gets confused on locale: Sometimes it returns results from Amazon UK or Amazon France when the book was clearly available in Amazon’s US site
  • Because it only looks at Amazon’s database, you can forget about foreign titles. All the books I got in Chinese (or even English titles from Singapore, Hong Kong or Australia) don’t show up even thought the ISBNs are valid.
  • The damn interface doesn’t scroll with the mouse. Using the scroll bar becomes a hassle when you have 100 items to enter

But the software was amazing overall. I spent about an hour and a half entering everything I own (less games and CDs) into its database. Despite its shortcomings, this thing is great. I can now keep track of who’d borrowed my books and DVDs!!

And damn it, I own 100+ books. I thought I’d shed most of them with all the moves I’ve had!

UPDATE: The comment Jeff made got me interested in finding out what else’s out there. Booxter from Deep Prose Software makes book entry WAY easier than Delicious Library. But it does require that I am on Amazon’s site as well. Too bad it doesn’t support DVD collections (or does it?).

Tiger-like Search Box

Took sometime to fiddle with the Search Box today to make it look like this:
My search box screenshot

Much to my dismay, this elegant look only works under Safari. Under any other browser, it’d look like any normal search box.

This All the other browsers blows!

Apple has an elegant solution at its Dashboard Widgets download site (upper right hand corner). But it involves image alignments… And I don’t really want mine to look like this:
Apple's search box screen shot
(this was happened in Firefox after a search result was returned)

GizmoProject — Threat to Skype?

ProjectGizmo Logo
While hopping about the Internet, some people said GizmoProject is to be a good contender to Skype‘s world domination plan.

Given that it supports as many platforms (less Windows CE, which nobody really cares anyway) as Skype (and is already available for Mac OSX), it’s probably the most attractively designed VoIP client based on the SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) technology, which is pretty much the standard in the VoIP industry. Skype uses its own proprietary protocol; and seeing how successful Skype is in the market, there’s no reason to believe Skype will provide its API to developers anytime soon.

However, since nobody is using this yet, I will hold out until enough people bug me to install it.

ProjectGizmo call-out screenshot

Be a Blog Author Using Your Mac

PCWorld has a nice article (Mac Skeptic: Be a Blog Author) on various different applications available to post stuff to your own blog. The author compared the big four:

She ended up picking Ecto as her top choice, which is what I would have chosen given that it packs more useful features than the other ones. What’s especially nice is its integration to iPhoto. But I see the apps as something I’d use when I don’t have Internet access. Otherwise, using WordPress’ interface is still my weapon of choice.

UPDATE: Based on the recommendation made in the comment, I installed the WP Tiger Administration plugin (FREE). See my entry about the plugin here.