Our parents had Dear Abby; we have the hive mind of the Internet. When it comes to resolving arguments and disagreements, technology can play a role. Factual disagreements are easy to resolve – a quick Google search or a visit to WIkipedia can resolve most such disputes. But what about a disagreement that boils down to a matter of opinion? Side With Me is a web site that helps declare winners and losers in arguments that aren’t based solely on fact.
So let’s talk. There’s been a lot of conversation around the web — and on this site — about possible alternatives for Evernote. Springpad was the goto app for many, though the most recent update has pulled them further away from that comparison, and drawn the ire of many users in the process. If you look at Springpad, though, as well as several other apps that offer services that are considered comparable to Evernote (Shelfster, Thinkery, OneNote and Catch, for example), you can define a general criteria for a note taking application that I think — no matter how odd it may sound — could also be met by Google’s latest cloud offering and the new face of Google Docs: Google Drive.
Stick with me. I’d love to have a conversation with you all about this.
First: What is Google Drive?
Google Drive is the latest cloud drive offering to hit the web jungle. It came out just this past week and has already been cited as a direct threat to Dropbox, Skydrive, Box, and all the rest. On the flip-side, it’s also received the standard Ahhhhh, Their Stealing My Private Information!!!!! treatment by the web media, as well — in this case, somewhat unfairly (more below).
Google Drive Features
Once you start using drive, you can say goodbye to the docs.google.com url. Your docs shall forever become a part of Google Drive. You’ll still be able to revert to the old Google Docs interface, for a limited time, but the default new dashboard is where you will start, and eventually end up.
Here’s the feature-set, in a nutshell:
Storage is low cost and in abundance. And it can take crazy large files, and allows you to view files most other services don’t. Sync with your computers and mobile devices (iOS coming soon) in the same manner as Dropbox.
5GB of free storage space — and Gmail goes up to 10GB
Additional space starting at $2.49/month for 25GB, $4.99 for 100GB — all the way up to 16TB (these also up your Gmail to 25GB)
Google Docs don’t count against your storage
10GB filesize limit per file
Upload up to 30 types of files –this includes Photoshop, Illustrator, movies, photos and more, as well as viewing of those files (graphic designers, rejoice! — and yes, this means movie and music playback, too)
Add and manage files from your desktop environment
Google Docs files (.gdoc, .gsheet, etc.) are actually shortcuts to their respective web editors, so don’t take up additional hard drive space on your PC
Offline viewing (offline editing is in the works, too)
Sharing, sharing, sharing! Collaborate! Individual files, folders, or your entire Drive…
Add a person, go public, or share a link — you can even give people without Google accounts editing capability
Send Drive links in Gmail to make sure everyone always has the updated version — no attachment worries
Or send Drive files as attachments, or even in the body of the email (classic Google Docs features)
Share photos and videos right from Google+
Easily view and manage files and folder shared with you
Collaborate on any type of file — comment and chat on any of your files, in real time
30 days of revision history
Search — including including OCR and Google Goggles
Filter by keyword, file type, file owner, and more
Search text in scanned documents
Find a photo using the search bar — Goggles can recognise objects in your images
Third-party apps. There are already several available on the Chrome Web Store, many of them free or freemium services. These apps will plug right in to your Google Drive allowing you to do all kinds of fun things. Some examples:
HelloFax lets you send free faxes right from Google Drive — it also has signature signing capability, as do a couple of other Google Drive apps like DocuSign
Pixlr and Aviary for Google Drive let you edit uploaded photos
SlideRocket can be set up to be your default presentation app
Revisu lets you share designs for feedback and track version history
Lots more available and lots more coming via Google Drive > Settings > Manage apps > Get more apps
Any of you starting to see why I couldn’t help but compare it to Evernote? More on that, below.
What About My Privacy?
Google’s Terms of Service states:
“You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.”
This is a good thing. But here’s where the confusion comes in:
“…you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.”
At first glance, this is freaky — but the reality is that this is used so that Google can integrate Drive with its other services — for you, of course — and to provide the other functions of the service, such as OCR and image recognition. Of course, this also means they can use the content to better provide you with more accurate advertising, but this is something they do with their services already.
Bear in mind that they can also be compelled to give up your information to government bodies or law enforcement agencies if required to by law. This is a standard thing that applies to every online service that houses its servers in the United States.
What does this all mean? Only this: Google’s scary privacy points are, in this instance, not so different than any other online drive’s terms of service. Does this mean there aren’t potentially frightening possibilities; that it’s all really candy and roses? No. Not unless you consider that the candy and roses could be laced with Rohypnol, that is. But these privacy issues are simply the risk you take when you put your files and personal information online. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be concerned, just that you need to make the same decision, no matter what cloud service you use.
Next: Google Docs vs Evernote
Sync between devices (including mobile)
Keyboard shortcuts for quick launch
With tweaks (custom shortcuts)
Rich text editing
Easy organization by notebooks and tags
Yes, but with folders (no more tags)
Search within attachments
Third party integrations
Yes, with more on the way
Add content by email
Not at the moment
Only manual copy and paste works at the moment
NOTE:You can create desktop shortcuts to open new Google Docs files, and then add custom hotkeys to those shortcuts to easily open new “notes”. The same urls used for the shortcuts can be used to create a dropdown in your browser’s bookmarks bar, although one bookmark, loaded in the browser sidebar is a great option for Firefox. The URLs you need are in this Google Document:http://bit.ly/IIiHAo. I’ve also added the shortcuts I decided to use, while testing. If there’s interest, I’ll do a full how-to on this.
NOTE:You can also add Google Drive to the Windows Send To context menu by typing%APPDATA%/Microsoft/Windows/SendTo to a Windows Explorer window – press enter. Then open another Explorer window, create a shortcut of your Google Drive, then drag it to the Send To folder you just opened. Now, when you right click on a file, you will be able to send it right to your Google Drive (this is based on the Windows 7 OS and also works for Skydrive and Dropbox).
Where Google Drive Wins
Google Drive allows you access to a full office suite, from full document and spreadsheet creation to presentations. It will also allow you to handle files more easily, as well as have real-time, collaborative conversations within the files/notes themselves. For people who want to have a powerful suite that they can leverage in nearly the same way as Evernote, then Google Drive could be a very good option. The same goes for people who don’t like the new Springpad, but find that Evernote just isn’t enough for them.
Where Google Drive Lacks
The lack of speedy clipping is an issue for me. This can be overcome with some simple copy and paste, or with extensions like Send to Google Docs (turns a whole web page into a PDF and sends it to Google Docs), and will likely no longer be an issue once some enterprising person or business creates an app for just that, but for the moment it is a bit of an annoyance. Not a deal breaker, though.
The other thing is that it is just not as straightforward as Evernote. The workarounds I put together make it easier to get going, but I find that the keyboard shortcuts I created sometimes fail until I remake them in the shortcut’s properties. And as I’ve mentioned in posts before, Evernote is really good at the simple things it does: taking and organizing notes. Once you add all the extra power and options of Google Drive, then you run into the potential of it becoming unwieldy, unless you manage it really well.
So there it is, my curiosity and thought process laid out before you. Your turn now! I want to know what you think — feasibility, practicality of application, pure ridiculousness, et al. Let’s chat about it and see what we can come up with as a group!
We have come one step closer to Nerdvana. Felicia Day — creator of the incredibly funny and successful web-series about gamers, The Guild — has rolled her success and her understanding of the web and television mediums into a brand new online TV channel just for you and me called Geek & Sundry.
I can’t begin to describe what level of awesome this reaches. Geek & Sundry is, essentially, a niche-focused, online television channel that contains all original, independent programming. FGBG — for geeks, by geeks. But these are geeks with an understanding of what makes a TV series work, not to mention how to extend their brand into as many mediums as possible (comics, games, books, music, merchandise, etc., etc., etc.), and create a cultural movement around their passions and products.
Felicia Day has seen the future of TV — and she is not alone. Some of the greatest cultural icons in geekdom are playing too. Wil Wheaton — the ultimate geek celebrity – has his own show on the network (see below), and guest appearances on The Guild run the gambit from Nathan Fillion to Neil Gaiman. Let’s not forget that Felicia is chummy with the Whedon clan, as well – which never hurts when you are into creating a fan-base that is both loyal and passionate. Geek & Sundry promises to be a regular go-to for geeks of all ages and around the world.
The Guild will be on Geek & Sundry, of course — and if you haven’t watched it and you like giggles, you should get on that — as will six new shows:
The Flog is Felicia Day’s weekly video blog. In the first episode, she talks about many a thing that interests her — and endeavours to become a blacksmith. Or maybe just steal his hammer — you decide.
Wil Wheaton has a show called Table Top, wherein celebrities do not play poker — they play geeky table top games of yore (and possibly now). The first episode has some prominent online personalities and a Mythbuster in a battle for world domination. Fantasy world domination, that is: Small World.
A few months ago, we looked at how you can check a site for safety and malware history with the Google Safe Browsing Diagnostic Tool. To do that, you needed to manually tweak a URL. The tool also only checked Google’s database. For an easier method that not only checks with Google, but two other sources, check out ScanURL.net.
Today is the deadline for most NCAA March Madness brackets — the first game of the second round. If you’ve been invited to participate in a pool or some other sort of friendly competition, you need to get your college basketball stats together in a hurry. It’s a bit of a bear of a project though, isn’t it? Especially if you’re busy, don’t follow basketball like it’s your religion, or statistics make your eyes roll into the back of your head.
Not to worry , though… PickMyBracket.com has come to your rescue! It’s bracket generator algorithm will create a full bracket for you in seconds — and you might even win a “Brand New iPad,” to boot.
PickMyBracket.com was developed by Information Systems students Jerry Potter and Nick Walter at Brigham Young University. The site pulls statistical data on NCAA teams from ESPN and runs comparisons to pick a winner. To make sure everyone has their own bracket flavour, and to keep things interesting, there are random factors you can choose from, as well, such as hotness of coeds, partying reputation of colleges, SAT scores, mascot type, etc.
The idea actually originated with Walter’s father.
“For around the past 10 years he made an excel file that filled out your March Madness bracket for you based off of team’s ranks and some randomness. He called it ‘The Pickalator,’” said Walter. “I thought this would be a great chance to bring The Pickalator to the whole world!”
If you want to participate in this year’s March Madness bracket competitions, but figure you’re out of time or don’t have the know-how, think again! PickMyBracket.com can have you up and running with a good bracket in just a couple of minutes. Get on it now, so you don’t miss out. Who knows… you might win.
So you have a ton of carefully crafted playlists in iTunes, and are hopping onto the streaming music bandwagon. You probably don’t want to recreate those playlists by hand. If Rdio is your streaming music service of choice, you can get your playlists into Rdio with a third party web app, Trnsmit.
Netflix has been making big moves lately, spreading its goodness to countries around the world, making television networks nervous, and generally growing its subscriber-base despite annoying a large portion of its American users. One of its most intriguing steps forward has been to launch its own original series, Lilyhammer, starring Steven Van Zandt of Sopranos and Bruce Springsteen Fame. The series is quirky, fun, and well-written enough to keep you coming back for all eight episodes — which Netflix smartly released all at once. None of this “wait a week or month” business! That’s a thing of the past! We’re all about marathons, now, baby.
Lilyhammer takes place in Lilehammer, Norway, where mobster Frankie “The Fixer” Tagliano decides to go when he winds up in the witness protection program. Why Norway, you ask? Because Frankie has a romantic side, and fell in love with the place when he happened to catch the ’94 Winter Olympics. “Clean air, gorgeous broads…” — hey, why not, right? The ensuing culture shock, combined with Frankie’s base nature and… er… life experience, make for some interesting plot lines that I found really enjoyable. Those of you expecting a return to the Sopranos are expecting too much. This is a mobster show, and it has its dark moments, for certain, but the vibe lends itself more to black comedy than hardcore HBO. That said, there’s not a lot of censorship going on, and its definitely not something you want to watch with the little ones.
There are a lot of subtitles in Lilyhammer, but they flow in and out without distracting or annoying the viewer. There is also has some great music, which is unsurprising considering Steven Van Zandt is also the Music Director (and executive producer and sometime writer). Springsteen fans may recognize him as a member of the E-Street Band, and he uses his talent to great effect on the Netflix series.
Netflix also has a a remake of House of Cards on the docket, as well as the much anticipated Arrested Development Season Four (which my wife is simply giddy about). Personally, I find their move into original — and quality — productions to be a fantastic one. It’s another one of those ever-increasing moments in which new technology sets old media companies on its ear and potentially signifies something new and better. Well, unless the old media companies get it in their heads to destroy them, of course. That’s never pretty.
What do you think of Netflix’s move into original programming?
Producteev, one of our favourite — and one of the best — to-do apps, has released a massive upgrade that includes some long-awaited features and platform updates. The web and iPhone apps have gotten a makeover, the much clamoured-for Android app has finally arrived, and there is now a Windows 7 desktop app to balance out the Mac version. Even the logo has been updated (bye bye Tasky the beaver)!
To top it all off, Producteev has added a few new features into the mix — and yes (drumroll), that does include sub-tasks…
Check out the video below for the overview of some of the new functionality in the multi-platform task manager.
There have been usability and visual enhancements across all apps, improvements to some of the main Producteev feature-set (discussed in previous posts), and some brand new features such as integration with TaskRabbit (a service for crowdsourcing small tasks), the ability to print tasks and export them to CSV, as well as the aforementioned sub-tasks.
Now, I know many of you have been waiting patiently for sub-tasks, but don’t get too excited. At this time, sub-tasks are really nothing more than a checkable list added to the top of the main task’s detailed view. There is no way to interact with them outside of that view, or to add specific dates, labels, or anything else. Also, they don’t appear to work in the mobile apps yet, either. Hopefully, there will be improvements, and soon, especially in the case of the missing mobile integration.
The Android app is great. I can now use Producteev with my wife’s phone just as easily as my own, and with an interface that’s nearly identical to the iPhone’s. As Producteev mentions in this post, however, Android users should be aware that the new app is in beta. Don’t expect an error-free experience, just yet.
As always, Producteev is free to use for workspaces that have one or two people. If you want to collaborate with larger teams, unlimited people and storage space can be had for $20 USD per month (it gets cheaper the more workspaces you buy).
Update: Google Calendar integration has been temporarily disabled due to stability issues. It should be back up and running within the week — and it will be better than before. Two way task-sync with Gcal, folks!
Back in August of last year, we wrote about Summify, a fantastic tool for getting to and sharing the highlights of your social streams and feeds. I’ve used this tool religiously for the past several months and have found it to be incredibly useful, especially with Twitter. Just last week, however, I received an email from the Vancouver-based start-up and discovered that they had become yet another in a long line of services to be snatched up and absorbed by a tech giant — in this case, Twitter. Great for them, but sad for you and me.
The Summify team will be moving to San Francisco, where they will become a part of Twitter’s growth team. Summify the service will be stripped down for the time being, and will eventually shutdown altogether as a standalone product.
Here’s the main list of changes from their announcement:
New account registrations have been disabled.
Email summaries remain, but only for a few weeks, and then they are gone as well.
Users will still receive their summaries via the web app (and the iPhone app, as well, I believe), but will no longer be able to make them public.
Profile and influence pages are gone, as is auto-publish.
I’ve also noticed that sharing posts to Twitter from Summify no longer adds credits to the end of the tweet. Previously, the tweet would add in an @mention to a few of those in your network that shared the information with you in the first place, but this is no longer the case, at least from the mobile app.
There is no word yet as to when Summify will shut down completely, or what cool newness might arise in Twitter as a result. Either way, while I’m happy for the people behind the great service, I will really miss Summify as a standalone tool. Hopefully, something truly great comes out of this. In the meantime, we can only hope that Zite — and maybe Flipboard — will pick up the slack by improving how they filter our streams.