Apple Making Huge Social Software Push?

Bokardo.com summarizes some recent Apple developments from a social networking perspective. Some of these capabilities could have a huge impact but are not given as much press as relatively minor iPod changes.

Apple Making Huge Social Software Push?:

Update Added several points about upcoming Leopard features.

Several recent Apple developments suggest that the company is ramping up for a huge push of social features in its software:

Wiki Server
A wiki server? Yes, a wiki server. From the preview site:

Leopard Server includes a Wiki Server to make it easy for teams to create and distribute information through their own shared Intranet website. For the first time, all members of a workgroup can easily create or edit content right from their browser. With a few clicks, or by dragging and dropping, they can upload files and images, track changes, assign keywords, hyper-link pages, view and contribute to shared calendars and blogs, and search for content on the group Intranet.

This is huge news. This will allow teams to collaborate using wikis, blogs, calendars, all those new social tools we wonder how we could live without.

The trick here will be to make this easy to use but also have security administration that allows the collaboration to occur in a safe way. This is new news since it wasn’t mentioned at WWDC.

iCal Calendar Sharing
Apple will add CalDev support to iCal in Leopard, so that multiple people can not only view others’ calendars, but edit them as well. You’ll be able to schedule meetings for groups, access other’s public availability, and schedule things automatically.

In addition, this page hints that there will be an event dropbox in Leopard Server which allows people to share documents surrounding an event. I’m not sure why Steve Jobs didn’t talk about this stuff at the keynote, because this is a great social feature.

This was given a mention at WWDC but wasn’t discussed too much. This is another one where security implementation will be important for usability.

iChat Screen Sharing

In Leopard you’ll be able to share iChat screens with other people, which means that you both have control of the screen at the same time. I’m not sure how this actually works, it sounds like it could get hairy at times, but it could potentially allow for a new level of collaboration over the Web. I can imagine using it a lot with my parents, who aren’t familiar with all the little interface subtleties of iTunes and iPhoto.

In addition, in Leopard you can enter presentation mode in iChat, which allows you to present from an application while chatting. That sounds really cool, especially if you happen to need to talk to a room full of folks at least one of whom has a Mac.

I am really excited about this one since easy to use accessible remote tech support and collaboration could make a real difference in getting team work done.

iTunes Social Features Survey

According to MacShrine, Apple recently sent out a survey asking for information on the following details:

The ability to view a friend’s wish list, with permission
The ability to view what a friend is currently listening to, with permission
The ability to view a friend’s playlist, with permission
The ability to view a friend’s recent purchases, with permission
The ability to view a friend’s favorite artists, with permission

The details of the survey are nowhere to be found (so it may just be a rumor), but the need for these types of features is clear. People learn about new music from their friends, and iTunes needs to reflect that. Apple’s recommendation system lags way behind those of Last.fm and Pandora, whose services make it easy to discover new music and connect with others. By allowing people to see what their friends are playing (and not just those people on the local network), Apple will do some sorely-needed catching up.

These make sense and the elegance of the solution will be dependent on how well privacy is protected by how “with permission” is implemented.

Teams in Leopard Server

Apple is planning on adding a teams feature to next year’s release of Leopard Server. Teams let people set up ad hoc social networks that share calendars, wikis, blogs, and other tools. (You can see a group calendar in this screenshot). In an Apple developer’s own words:

Teams is a revolutionary new way for people to work together. Teams lets people share contacts, resources, information and communicate more effectively as a team.

With Teams, groups receive their own website an online Wiki Server listing the latest news, upcoming events and providing people access to online documents. This Wiki-powered website makes it easy for people within the group to create and edit web page content, hyperlink and crosslink between page and maintain history of all past changes. In addition, this group website provides web-based access to a shared group calendar, and a blog communication and podcasting.

This is a bit repetitive since it is more on the wiki server. What is interesting to me is whether Apple will make the wiki approach any easier for people who want a very intuitive way of editing.

What Apple Already Has
In Tiger Server, Apple already has an iChat server collaboration suite that it dubs collaboration services. It supports the Jabber protocol, enabling folks on other platforms to play, too.

Folks using iTunes and iPhoto will know about music and photo sharing, a very simple yet powerful social feature.

Signs of a Larger Trend?

Though I don’t consider myself an Apple-groupie (I’ve only been to 1 store opening), I do see a clear trend here. Combine the above items coming with Leopard, the existing collaboration features in Tiger, the sharing features of iTunes and iPhoto, and it’s clear that Apple is making a strong push into the social realm. They aim to enable social connections on many levels.

Not sure this is a sign of a trend or that the definition of social networking is pretty broad. Any computer supplier needs to develop features to help people interact.

Tools for Communicating
Notice that all of these features are about enabling communication as much as they are about creating content. It’s about getting the right information to the right person at the right time through interaction with their friends and associates. That’s how we do things out here in meatspace, so that’s how we’ll do things in cyberspace as well.

I think this is good news for Apple. As the proliferation of telephones, cellphones, chat software, blogs, and social networking sites have shown, there seems to be a market for this social software stuff.

No doubt there is a market but is it converging to make things simpler or diverging to create more choices. As contradictory as it sounds both are happening. People will really be attracted to packaging that can integrate the many forms of communicating since the complexity can be as distracting as it is helpful.

Organizing and sharing photos

Of course digital cameras are all the rage and Kodak has seen the rapid change in a very short period of time from film to digital photography.

Now the problem is how to keep track of all the photos and share them with friends and family. The old shoebox and family photo album don’t really cut it anymore when it costs more to print photos than to distribute them digitally online and show them with our iPods.

Flickr is the online photo service of choice but more on that later.

To organize and edit digital photos there are many choices but two stand out especially for organizing photos:
1. Adobe Photoshop Album
2. Google Picasa

If you don’t have the time or interest to read through this whole post, the punch line is that although Adobe Photoshop Album, which I purchased a few years ago is quite good (It won the PC Magazine Best of 2003 Award), I would recommend Google Picasa for most people because it includes all the necessary features for free and also can be used to easily tie into online publishing like Blogger and Flickr. Adobe’s model is clearly to entice users to upgrade to their high quality photo editing software but this will be overkill for average users. The most interesting and in the big picture probably most important difference between the photo organizers beyond the price is the ability to do tagging. Adobe is more capable right now with tags that can be combined and organized hierarchically (also easier to apply) but they are in a proprietary database. Picasa photo labels are embedded in the photo data itself so they are more portable and can interwork with other services like Flickr. Picasa will be updating the label capabilities while building on this IPTC keywords open data format. Avoiding lock in to a single program or vendor is important when investing many hours entering data to organize and classify your photos. Adobe also supports IPTC if you upgrade to Photoshop Elements.

1. Adobe Photoshop Album

Adobe Photoshop Album will do what you want as far as sending pictures by email (and a whole lot more). The best thing about it is that it organizes your photos and allows you to tag them with keywords so you can find them later.

Its available at this link:
http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshopalbum/starter.html

At the bottom of the page is a user manual and a video showing all the features of this free software.

Adobe® Photoshop® Album Starter Edition software is an excellent introduction to digital photography. And since Photoshop Album Starter Edition works with most popular digital cameras, you can use it in place of your existing digital camera software.

* Share photos and slide shows in Adobe PDF so virtually anyone can view them with free Adobe Reader® software.
* Quickly e-mail your favorite memories to friends and family — Photoshop Album Starter Edition automatically compresses your photos to the right size for e-mail!
* Easily print photos at home or via an online service.*
* Automatically fix basic photo problems with a single click, or use intuitive tools that make it easy to remove red eye or crop your photos.
* Use unique drag-and-drop keyword tags to instantly find your photos by people, places, events, and other subjects.
* Easily import photos from your digital camera in just a few clicks.

What you might find confusing is the different versions of Adobe software. Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition is version 3 and is free. It has good basic functionality and also shows additional commands you can use if you purchase Adobe Photoshop Album version 2 for $50 US. Strange to me that the upgrade goes back a version number. There is also Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 ($100 US) with more features, Adobe Photoshop Premiere for video, and the Grand-daddy of all photo editing programs Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 2 ($649 US). Adobe Photoshop Album has not been updated recently but new features are being implemented in the more expensive Adobe Photoshop Elements. To sort out the different software packages from Adobe check out their comparison reference.

2. Google Picasa
Picasa version 2 is a new winner of a PC Magazine editors choice award. It can be downloaded here for free and is relatively simple to install and setup. It is quite full featured although in some aspects not as refined as Adobe Photoshop Album. It does include more editing tools for no extra charge. Picasa automatically compresses your photos to the right size for email. You can create CDs for viewing your photo collections. Importing photos from disk could be easier if folder hierarchies could be selected rather than having to select one folder at a time.
Other Stuff:
Picasa Web Albums
Publish to Blogger

If you want a more in depth comparison (from a year ago) of Picasa and Adobe Photoshop Album check it out here.

Uploads to Flickr can be done via email with both Picasa and Adobe Photoshop Album. This is not nearly as sophisticated as what can be done with several photo uploaders that can be used with iPhoto on the Mac. This link provides a description for using Picasa and Gmail but can also be applied with other email packages. Email uploading to Flickr is also the technique used to publish photos from camera phones that have Internet access.

An early geeky Flickr uploading tool for Windows has become available but installing the python language to implement this solution is not for the average non-technical user.

There are some interesting thoughts on requirements for online photo publishing which speculate on how these types of services could evolve.

LifeHacker summary of Gmail tips

Gmail Tips and Tricks Monster Roundup from Lifehacker

Gmail Tips and Tricks Monster Roundup

The Cyber-Knowledge weblog has a pretty good roundup of cool ways you can take advantage of your Gmail account.
Since we’ve covered most of Cyber-Knowledge’s tips here before, I decided it was time to put together our own Gmail roundup. Ever since I bought my first Gmail invite for five dollars off eBay over 2 years ago, I’ve been all about squeezing every last productive drop I can out of Gmail. Check out my monster tribute to my favorite email application after the jump.
• Hack Attack: Become a Gmail masterMy Gmail magnum opus, in which I explain how I incorporate several of the tips below into one tightly-knit Gmail system.
• Gmail Macros and Label ColorsIf you like working from the keyboard, Gmail Macros let you navigate, label, and archive emails without once moving to the mouse.
• Hack Attack: Bookmarking with GmailIt’s like your own personal del.icio.us contained inside your Gmail account.
• Forward Gmail to your cell phone with SMSeSet up filters to forward your most pressing emails to your mobile phone.
• Gmail Drive shell extensionAccess your ample 2GB+ email account as though it’s another Windows hard drive.
• Download of the Day: gDiskThink Gmail Drive shell extension for your Mac. Your Gmail account becomes an accessible internet hard drive.
• Send a Webpage with GmailThisThis handy little bookmarklet makes it easy to email any web page to a friend with minimal effort. If you’re really feeling short on time, try adding a keyword to the bookmarklet.
• Attach any file with GmailGmail doesn’t allow us to send some filetypes in an attempt to protect us from the evils of potential viruses and malware, but this also means we’re sometimes unable to send important files. Unless you know the right tricks, that is.
• Adding your agenda to GmailIncorporate your Google Calendar agenda with your Gmail sidebar so you can always keep an eye on what’s coming up.
• Add encryption to GmailIf you’re worried about internet baddies getting their sticky fingers on your email, this Greasemonkey script should put your fears to rest.
• Download of the Day: GTDGmailIf you love Gmail, GTD, AND Firefox, this extension is your dream come true.
• Use Gmail as your universal email accountA beginners guide to managing several email accounts from within Gmail.
• Download of the Day: Google NotifierGoogle’s new notifier for Macs handles both Gmail and Google Calendar alerts.
• How to insert images and other HTML into GmailIf you like embedding images or other HTML in your emails but have been baffled by a method for doing so in Gmail, this should help.
• How to filter Gmail image spamNasty .gif spam clogging up your inbox? Here’s how to filter out the clever, wicked spammers of the world.
• Ask Lifehacker: Gmail as default mail programIf you’re using Gmail as your default mail app, you’ll want your operating system to know it.
• Gmail keyboard shortcutsIf you’re just getting started using keyboard shortcuts in Gmail (which I highly recommend), this printable cheatsheet might come in handy.
For more Gmail tips (yes, there actually are
more!), check out our Gmail tag or subscribe to the Gmail tag RSS feed. Share your favorite Gmail tip in the comments or at tips at lifehacker.com. — ADAM PASH
GMail Hacks/Tips [Cyber-Knowledge]

Capturing YouTube Videos to your iPod from your Mac or PC

Download of the Day: PodTube (Mac) and iTube (Windows) from LifeHacker
Download of the Day: PodTube (Mac) and iTube (Windows)
Freeware programs iTube (Windows) and PodTube (Mac) make it easy to download, convert, and add YouTube videos to your iPod.
If you’re using PodTube, you need to browse YouTube in Safari, but one click will download the video, encode it for your iPod, and add it to your iTunes library ready for syncing (the whole process took me less than the time it took for the 54 second video I chose to finish playing). Using iTube on Windows, you paste the YouTube URL into iTube, at which point is also downloads, converts, and adds the file to your iTunes library. These programs are similar to previously-mentioned shareware app
TubeSock, except they’re totally free (as in beer). iTube requires .NET. — ADAM PASH
PodTube (Mac) [djodjodesign.free.fr via Epic Empire]
iTube (Windows) [benjaminstrahs.com via Epic Empire]

Capturing YouTube Videos to your iPod from your Mac or PC

Download of the Day: PodTube (Mac) and iTube (Windows) from LifeHacker
Download of the Day: PodTube (Mac) and iTube (Windows)
Freeware programs iTube (Windows) and PodTube (Mac) make it easy to download, convert, and add YouTube videos to your iPod.
If you’re using PodTube, you need to browse YouTube in Safari, but one click will download the video, encode it for your iPod, and add it to your iTunes library ready for syncing (the whole process took me less than the time it took for the 54 second video I chose to finish playing). Using iTube on Windows, you paste the YouTube URL into iTube, at which point is also downloads, converts, and adds the file to your iTunes library. These programs are similar to previously-mentioned shareware app
TubeSock, except they’re totally free (as in beer). iTube requires .NET. — ADAM PASH
PodTube (Mac) [djodjodesign.free.fr via Epic Empire]
iTube (Windows) [benjaminstrahs.com via Epic Empire]

Test of text clipping

Drag and drop does what I want in transferring formatting and links as shown below. This is great but I still find drag and drop clumsy to do versus keyboard commands. If drag and drop works why can’t a key sequence do the same thing short of having to develop a script to extend ecto? Something to ask on the ecto forum.

Quick text clipping on a Mac
The Silver Mac weblog has a short roundup of five cool things you can do on a Mac, among them yesterday’s dictionary tip. My favorite new cool Mac, though, is text clipping:
I ask [my Windows-using friends] how would they save a piece of text from the document they are viewing at the moment, for example a web page.
Their answer is usually something like:
“Oh easy. You select the text, right click and copy. Then you go to desktop, right click and select New | Text file, give the file some name and click away. Now you double click the file to open it, paste the text in there and save it. Simple, innit?”
Then I show them how I do it on Mac. I select text, click it and drag to desktop and that’s it.
I didn’t know this before today, and yet I love it – how can this be? To think I never used to believe in love at first sight… how cynical I once was. — ADAM PASH

Google Maps Mobile

Having your maps mobile on your cellphone is a good way to avoid getting lost or getting somewhere faster.
Works on the Bell Samsung SPH-a920 and many other cellphones.

Download of the Day: Google Maps Mobile
Download of the Day: Google Maps Mobile
Google has brought the interactive mapping goodness of Google Maps to your mobile phone.
Google Maps Mobile is a free download with a look and feel just like that of the Google Maps you’ve come to know and love, offering directions, local search, movable maps, and satellite imagery of your location (I’ve been using it for ten minutes and I’m already hooked).
If you’re curious to see if your phone will work with Google Maps Mobile, check out the
list of supported devices.
Google Maps Mobile

AutoHotkey keystroke scripting utility

This software has been described as being similar to Quicksilver on the Mac which is high praise from my perspective and worth checking out if it is anywhere near as useful. If you are not familiar with the amazing Quicksilver software check out a video demonstration at the MacBreak website.

Introduction

AutoHotkey is a free, open-source utility for Windows. With it, you can:

Automate almost anything by sending keystrokes and mouse clicks. You can write a mouse or keyboard macro by hand or use the macro recorder.
Create hotkeys for keyboard, joystick, and mouse. Virtually any key, button, or combination can become a hotkey.

Expand abbreviations as you type them. For example, typing “btw” can automatically produce “by the way”.
Create custom data entry forms, user interfaces, and menu bars. See GUI for details.
Remap keys and buttons on your keyboard, joystick, and mouse.
Respond to signals from hand-held remote controls via the WinLIRC client script.

Run existing AutoIt v2 scripts and enhance them with new capabilities.
Convert any script into an EXE file that can be run on computers that don’t have AutoHotkey installed.

Getting started might be easier than you think. Check out the quick-start tutorial.

source: www.autohotkey.com

Adventures in blog formatting

I have been experimenting with quoting items and formatting blog entries and as you can see I haven’t yet got it right. It should be as easy as copying some content to be quoted into ecto (my desktop blog editor) and adding comments to the formatted content with the original links. Unfortunately the formatting is lost when the contents are pasted into ecto. I have found two workarounds but feedback on better approaches would be welcome.
1. Copy from web page into DevonThink. Copy from DevonThink into ecto. This retains some semblance of the formatting and links.
2. Highlight content and right click to view as source. Copy HTML into Ecto HTML and then change the format to rich text mode for further editting.
My previous post used method 1 and this one is method 2 which seems to work better. What do you think?

Leo wrote:

Tim in Oxnard – anti-virus software

His Norton subscription ran out and he’s having trouble updating it. I’m not crazy about Norton these days – it’s just too big. He bought CA eTrust Antivirus 7.1 on the recommendation of a computer store employee. It’s OK – not great. (Check the ratings at Virus Bulletin). I prefer NOD32 from ESET – it’s very fast, lightweight, and effective. I also like Panda and Trend Micro’s PC-cillin.

Jeff from Rochester Hills, MI adds: Grisoft and ClamWin offer free AntiVirus solutions for Windows.

The other alternative is AntiVir.