Zune: Use Your Zune as an External Hard Drive

We've already told you how to use your Zune as a portable hard drive so your Zune can double as an external drive, but if you've tried the hack and had some trouble dragging files to your Zune, the video above not only demonstrates the fix, but also takes you on a step-by-step through the registry hacking required to enable the Windows Explorer browsing. It's our opinion that every portable media device should double as an external hard drive (though the trend with Zunes, iPhones, and the like is to disable disk modes), so if you're bummed about this deficiency on your Zune, this simple hack should do the trick.

Stats Feed: Today's most popular headlines are Hibernate ...

Today's most popular headlines are Hibernate vs. Standby (18,246 views today), Top 10 Distraction Stoppers (10,962) and Opt Out of Junk Mail and Prevent Credit Snooping (4,095).

Online Documents: Microsoft releases three screenshots and ...

Microsoft releases three screenshots and more details about their upcoming Office Live Workspace product, which will include calendar tools as well as file storage and sharing.

Writing: Stephen King on Becoming a Better Writer

Stephen King's On Writing is one of my favorite volumes on the subject of putting pen to paper, and the Positivity Blog sums up seven points from the book. The simplest (and most difficult) tip when you're editing your work?

Cut down your text. When you revisit your text it's time to kill your darlings and remove all the superfluous words and sentences. Removing will declutter your text and often get your message through with more clarity and a bigger emotional punch.
Anyone working a job that requires you write well—the majority of knowledge work positions—can benefit from this advice, which applies to email, blog posts, and comments as well as novels.

Flashback: Two years ago, Wendy listed her favorite ...

Two years ago, Wendy listed her favorite search engine helpers to turbocharge your web searches.

Featured Download: Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon Released

Ubuntu 7.10, the "Gutsy Gibbon" release of popular Linux distribution, is officially out this morning. You can download a live CD, request a CD through the mail, and users of 7.04 (or "Feisty Fawn") can upgrade. Check out our screenshot tour of Gutsy to see what's new and improved. Ubuntu 7.10 is, of course, completely free, and runs on PCs (and Macs) with 32- or 64-bit Intel or AMD processors.

Google Maps: Google Maps Goes Social with Profiles

Google Maps makes custom mapping and user-submitted reviews more friendly, and useful, with the addition of user profiles. Users can click through a review to find out what else that reviewer liked, and customized maps and routes can be shared with other users. Group road trip planning could get a whole lot easier with a feature like this. The user ID and signup appear to be identical to Google's Shared Stuff social bookmarking project, so it's not hard to assume those features and other Google services will be integrated soon under common user profiles.

Outlook Tip: Get Directions to a Contact

outlookmap.png Microsoft Outlook 2007 offers one-click access to a map of your contact's location. Fill in a contact address and click the "Map this" button on the contact tab to launch MSN Maps in your default browser, where you can get directions to and from the location. The question is, how do you change the map service to something other than MSN? First person to post how in the comments gets a cookie.

Hive Mind: Ask MetaFilter Roundup

Flashback: One year ago, law student Stewart Rutledge ...

One year ago, law student Stewart Rutledge described his best tactics for beating a speeding ticket (or bettering your chances).

Personal Finance: Replace Your Budget with a Spending Plan

spendingplan.pngFinance blogger JD Roth says a budget makes him want to spend more money, so he uses a "spending plan" instead to map out what cash will go where. JD writes:

To me, a budget is a detailed itinerary. A spending plan, on the other hand, is just a list of places I'd like to go. It doesn't have the same sort of rigidity that I associate with a budget. When I create a spending plan, I tally upcoming income and expenses, and then use these numbers as a guideline for determining my financial direction.
JD includes an actual spending plan he put together three years ago, and although the path he took is different than the one he mapped out, he will still reach the goals laid out in the plan. Any budget-phobes out there manage to plan their finances without feeling tied down? Let us know in the comments.

Environment: Offset Carbon and Improve Communities with PopTech Carbon Initiative

poptech_calc.jpgCalculate your personal CO2 production and offset as many tons as you'd like with a donation to a carbon reduction project at the PopTech Carbon Initiative. A joint venture of online auction site eBay and the PopTech Conference, the PopTech Carbon Initiative chose three specific projects users can donate to that offset the environmental impact. Unlike some other carbon offset brokers, the projects were chosen not only for proven impact, but for their contributions to social and economic development in communities, according to PopTech volunteers. There are, of course, other carbon emission calculator/offset sites out there, and you can always make your own small changes to live greener.

File Sharing: Play a Single iTunes Library from Two Computers Simultaneously

Reader Brett writes in with an interesting observation about his shared iTunes library, which he plays from his laptop and his desktop:

Previous to the latest update of iTunes, I could only have one installation of iTunes running at a time—either the desktop would work or the laptop would work. The error message was something like 'iTunes library already in use.' However, with the latest release, I've found that I can have iTunes open on both.
A quick test between my MacBook and Powerbook confirmed Brett's findings. You can play music from a single shared library on two machines simultaneously and edit ratings and playlists, which update on each computer—effectively removing the need to sync the iTunes library file manually. But it's not perfect.

Listening to the two libraries at once, for the most part, goes without a hitch. Playcount and ratings do update across libraries (eventually, if not immediately.) If you edit ratings on a song (which means iTunes has to write to its library file) and try to access that same song right away, you'll get an error like this one:


So this isn't without its choppiness or risks. I also had one machine intermittently lose track of where media files were located on the shared drive while accessing the same library. (You get the little exclamation point and iTunes says it can't find the file, and prompts you to browse for it.) In both cases, by just restarting iTunes all was well again.

Brett also says:

Prior to the latest update, I could see the iPod on my laptop when it was plugged into my desktop. Now, that no longer happens.
My tests also confirmed this, and further testing opening and closing the same library on two machines triggered another interesting error message.


Disclaimer and notes: I only tested this on two Macs, not two PC's, using the Mac's built-in file sharing. As far as I know, the iTunes library file is not compatible between Mac and PC (due to the differences in how each OS addresses file paths), so I doubt that will work at all. Brett says he had this working even when the library was shared remotely with Hamachi.

If you try this yourself, be sure to back up your iTunes library first, because having two machines write to the same file, in theory, can corrupt it. Anyone else give this a try? Let us know how it went in the comments. Thanks, Brett!

Screenshot Tour: Is Mint Ready for Your Money?

mint-head.pngAfter just four weeks of their public beta, financial management web site Mint is already boasting over 50,000 members and managing over $2 billion of their money, and early next week Mint is launching several new features intended to improve its already impressive all-in-one money management tool. There's no question that this snazzy web application deserves of much of its hype, but is it ready for your money?

A Word on Security

As soon as any web-based financial software like Mint is mentioned, the security watchdogs among us pounce on the comments to let the rest of us know that we should never, ever trust anyone with our financial data, especially our aggregated financial data.

safety.pngI'm not quite as cynical or concerned about my security with Mint, especially after having read Mint's Privacy and Security statement (give it a look before you naysay). That said, ultimately some of you will be comfortable with this, and some of you won't. If you are comfortable making the leap to web-based, aggregated money management, the question remains: Is Mint good enough to justify that leap?

The fact is that even if Mint is secure enough to satisfy you, nobody wants to move their financial nerve center to a web application that's not completely up to snuff. So let's take a look at the good and the bad of Mint to get a better idea of whether or not it's time to hand Mint the keys to your cash.

The Presentation, Integration, and Features

Automatic, no-hassle importing of your financial transactions from over 3,500 banking and credit card institutions is what Mint does best. First, let's check out how Mint integrates all of that financial data and presents it to you in an attractive, user-friendly interface, including its soon-to-be-released budgeting and account customization features.

The Savings

deals.pngMint takes a look at your bills, spending, and credit cards, then suggests ways you can save money through different offers. In fact, Mint makes its money through these referrals. Some of them are sponsored deals through Mint partners and some are not, but Mint will always suggest the best offer first.

emails-sms-alerts2.pngLikewise, Mint can save you money with the alerts described above. Receiving an SMS or email alerting you of a low balance or unusually high spending can provide you with a reality check before you go overboard and over budget.

The Drawbacks

Of course, Mint's not all daisies—at least not yet. You can't import data to Mint in any way other than through your financial institution, meaning that if you've got years' worth of financial data in Quicken, don't count on importing it to Mint. That said, Mint can load over a year of your most recent financial data (depending on how long your institution provides it) when you sign up.

On a similar note, Mint doesn't export data—meaning if you decided to ditch Mint for another money management solution, you're not going to get a CSV file or any other export of your data.

too-much-with.pngThe most notable and practical drawback to Mint came in the form of strangely named, incomplete transaction descriptions (the imported name was strange—the actual transaction name at the originating financial institution was more descriptive). As a result, I ran into problems setting up renaming rules for transactions in Mint. For example, a transaction that read in my checking account (at the actual US Bank web site) as "Web Authorized Payment AT&T" showed up in Mint as "Web Payment" or something along those lines. I set Mint to automatically rename this transaction to AT&T, but then every Web Authorized Payment in my account was renamed AT&T, although some were gas or water and power bills. Similarly, "Purchase with PIN" shows up in the ledger as "With," which is not terribly helpful. Next to the all-in-one account integration, automation is Mint's biggest draw—which means these sort of minor issues need worked out before you can set up renaming rules with complete confidence (especially since you can't currently undo renaming rules). On the flip side, Mint claims to accurately identify and rename 90% of imported transactions without any need for user import, compared to Quicken's 40% (their numbers).

The Future of Mint

According to the people at Mint, their next major moves will be integrating other financial realms, meaning that someday you may also be able to track and manage your student loans and investments from within Mint. Imagine an all-encompassing financial dashboard that provides you with a snapshot of your entire financial situation at a glance. And since Mint completely automates your data imports, it requires very little work on your part.

The Conclusion

As you can see, Mint has done its homework when it comes to how it organizes your information, and Mint's marquee feature—the ability to see and understand all of your finances at a glance—is astoundingly good. I've used Quicken in the past but am embarrassed to say I've never really gotten the hang of it. If Quicken had an ounce of the easy-to-grasp interface of Mint, I suspect that most of us would be happy to shell out the premium for the software.

With Mint as a free contender, you almost have to wonder what normal person (i.e., anyone with a relatively normal and uncomplicated financial situation) won't be using Mint or an application like it (maybe even built by your bank) within the next five to ten years to manage their finances. We're already managing most of our finances online in some form anyway, and the technology will continue to improve while consumers will continue to grow more comfortable with the idea. To that end, let us know what you think about Mint—whether that's explaining what you like, don't like, what you'd like to see, or why you'll never use it—in the comments.

How To: Survive a Computer Crash with VMWare

vmware-backup.pngYou've got your computer tweaked and streamlined so that every program, bookmark, and password you count on is at your disposal whenever you need it, but what happens when your computer crashes and suddenly all this data is gone? Sure, you've already automated your data backups, and that's invaluable for saving your documents, but that perfect system state is another thing. Weblog Freelance Folder describes how to create and save a virtual machine containing all of your must-have software, passwords, and other custom settings so that in the event of an unexpected crash, you've got a quick backup "production" system that still contains everything you need. It's not as good as a complete system backup and restore, but it's a helluva lot better than nothing—and it's free.

Featured Firefox Extension: Chat with Any IM Client in Your Sidebar with Meebo

meebo-alert.pngWindows/Mac/Linux (Firefox): Web-based instant messaging service Meebo connects to any and every IM chat client you can shake an avatar at, and now the popular in-browser chat application integrates tightly with your Firefox sidebar with the new Meebo Firefox extension. The extension supports visual IM notifications and drag and drop link and image sharing directly from web sites in addition to other already existing Meebo features—including file sharing. There really aren't any robust, fully cross-platform chat applications out there (though there are a few great platform-specific apps), but with this new Firefox extension, Meebo is getting close.

meebo-sidebar.pngAfter you install, you can either sign in to accounts individually or sign in to your Meebo account, which holds all of your different account credentials so you can sign in to multiple IM accounts at once.

meebo-sidebar-connected.pngOnce connected, you've got a simple contact management pane in the sidebar that you can view or collapse easily. You can even drag web content onto contact names to automatically open a new IM and share the link or image. In the meantime, your IM conversations all take place inside a Meebo tab, which is automatically opened when you sign in. The Meebo extension is free, should work wherever Firefox does. I know there are tons of Meebo fans out there, so let us know how the new extension is working out for you in the comments.

Google Reader: Create a Gmail Database of Your Favorite Reader Items

Google Reader's built- in search feature has made Reader a million times better, but if you use Gmail as your personal nerve center, wouldn't it be convenient if you could search your favorite reader items, text included, from the comfort of your Gmail account? Blogger Ruud Hein details how he uses Reader's Shared Items in conjunction with FeedBurner to create and deliver an email digest of each day's Shared Items to his Gmail inbox. At the end of the day, every important story Hein wants to bookmark is imported with full text into his Gmail account, and with a filter set up to separate his bookmark database, he has quick access to all of his daily "bookmarks" inside Gmail. Handy.

In Brief: Expect to see a new Google Health in early ...

Expect to see a new Google Health in early 2008 somewhere along the lines of Microsoft's recently launched HealthVault.

Web Publishing: Build Your Own Mashups with Microsoft's Popfly

popfly2.pngWeb application Popfly takes a building block approach to mashup creation, allowing regular folks like us to connect services like Flickr, Twitter, and maps to your heart's content and your creativity's limit. It's all available through a drag and drop interface somewhere along the lines of Yahoo Pipes. Popfly is free to use, requires a Windows Live login and the Silverlight browser plugin. It's currently in beta, and be aware that I saw significant slow-down on my computer when using Popfly. Hot mashups currently on the site include Flickr Mappings and Seattle Traffic via Virtual Earth, but the real question is: Does anyone want to build their own mashups? If you give it a try, let's hear your thoughts in the comments.

Stats Feed: Today's most popular headlines are Is Mint ...

Today's most popular headlines are Is Mint Ready for Your Money? (12,951 views today), Play a Single iTunes Library from Two Computers Simultaneously (6,959) and What's New in the Other 'Buntus (6,563).

Featured Mac Download: Customize Your Mac with TinkerTool

tinkertool 1.png
Mac OS X only: Freeware customization utility TinkerTool tweaks hidden settings in all corners of your Mac, from modifying Finder and Dock features and effects to adjusting your system fonts. Similar to previously mentioned system tweaker Onyx, TinkerTool focuses more on visual tweaks in contrast to OnyX's maintenance-focused tweaks (making them nice companion tools). My favorite feature: the ability to reorganize the order my startup items run via a simple drag and drop. TinkerTool is freeware, Mac OS X only.

Screenshot Tour: First Look at Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac

Mac users have been waiting since 2004 for an update to Microsoft's ubiquitous office suite, and especially eagerly since Apple switched to Intel processors. Now that the 2008 release is quickly approaching, it's time to take a look at what Office 2008 for Mac has in store. The new Office is chock full of interface enhancements following in the footsteps of Office 2007 for Windows, including a new ribbon-like toolbar, lots of snazzy animations, and a much snappier performance. Hit the jump for a look at the visual refresh of the Office for Mac suite.

As you can see in the screenshots, the Office 2008 for Mac ribbon (I'm not entirely sure if they're calling it a ribbon or not, but it's strikingly similar looking, so I'm making the leap) is very different from the Office 2007 for Windows ribbon. That's because with the Mac's menu bar, you still have access to all of the traditional menus. The new ribbon provides quick access to templates, graphics, and other similar tools. Click the ribbon title once to expand it, click it again to hide it.

Most importantly, Intel Mac users should notice a significant jump in performance from the new universal binary. I haven't been using it long enough to give a good measure, but so far I'm very happy with the results I've seen.

Let's hear what you think of the new look of Office 2008 for Mac in the comments.

Office Pranks: Change the Default Message on HP Printers

insert_coin.jpgFlummox your coworkers with an "Insert Coin" message on the office printer using the HP Printer Job Language (HPPJL) command set. The Hackszine blog describes how to customize the Ready prompt on HP printers' LED display with a few simple commands:

I haven't been able to test yet (no HP printer here), but if I'm reading the code right, you can actually do this right from the command line using telnet. Just telnet to port 9100 and type in the following:
\e%-12345X\@PJL JOB
Sadly, I don't have an HP printer here to test this out either, but I'd love to see someone pull this off. If you do, let us know how it goes in the comments. (Oh yeah, and here's how to undo it when the boss hunts you down.)

Featured Windows Download: Customize the Open and Save Dialog with OpenWide

openwide.jpgWindows only: Get a customized Open and Save dialog box (with details, icons, or lists) with OpenWide, an application that does what Windows does not. You can already customize the views of your individual folders using Folder Options in the Explorer, but unfortunately, your saved view does not extend to dialog boxes. The application is extremely small (72KB) but many might find the default System Tray icon feature unnecessary. Fortunately, the tray icon can be disabled. For those who often save files and need detailed information quickly, this application comes in handy (though Windows itself should really support this without the need of an extra app). OpenWide is a Windows-only freeware application for personal use.

Flashback: Two years ago on Lifehacker, we posted some ...

Two years ago on Lifehacker, we posted some still-applicable tips on how to clean out your iTunes library by de-duplicating songs, tagging your files and importing album art.

Friday Fun: Make a Facebook Friends Collage

facebookcollage.pngThe Digital Inspiration weblog found a hidden Facebook feature—the ability to view your friends as a grid of profile pictures. Here's how:

Step 1: Log in to your Facebook account and click the Friends tab.
Step 2: Select the drop-down box and click the list separator (-).
You'll get back a neat collage of your entire friends list in profile photo thumbnails. Okay, so Facebook's not the most productive webapp out there, but it is great for networking. How do you get stuff done (besides playing Scrabulous) on Facebook? Let us know in the comments.

Mac OS X: Prepare Your Mac for Leopard

leopard-box.jpgMacworld says there are a few things you can do to clean up and prepare your Mac before you take the leap to OS X 10.5 Leopard. Install the latest versions of your current applications (many are rolling out Leopard updates), clean up your hard drive, uninstall unneeded software, run the Apple hardware test and repair your hard drive using Disk Utility. The list of file and folder deletion candidates is especially impressive. First there are the usual culprits like Documents and Applications, but to dig deeper and rid yourself of cruft, look in:

  • In /Library, /Library/Application Support, ~/Library, and ~/Library/Application Support, look for folder names matching applications you no longer use, and delete them.
  • Your /Library and ~/Library folders may contain other folders that store components of third-party utilities. Look in Application Enhancers, Bundles, Contextual Menu Items, InputManagers, and PreferencePanes for any system enhancements you no longer use, and drag them to the Trash.
  • Third-party Dashboard widgets live in ~/Library/Widgets. Any widgets you don't use can go.
  • Applications use cache files to increase their speed and efficiency, and rebuild them automatically if necessary, so you can delete them safely:
    • The contents of /Library/Caches and ~/Library/Caches, can sometimes occupy hundreds of megabytes of valuable disk space. Drag these files to the Trash.
    • You can empty Safari's cache by choosing Safari -> Empty Cache (Command-Option-E).
    • Safari stores favicons (those tiny icons that appear next to a site's URL in the address bar) separately from its main cache. To remove them, quit Safari and drag the folder ~/Library/Safari/Icons to the Trash.
  • Software that requires some component to be running in the background all the time may install folders in /Library/StartupItems. In most cases, you should leave this folder alone, but if you see anything there from software you're sure you don't use, delete it.
Don't forget you can also use the free DiskInventoryX to ID what's hogging your Mac's hard drive. As for the Leopard upgrade, personally, I plan to do a clean sweep of my Mac and just reinstall my apps entirely. It'll be a good cleanup as well as upgrade, and as a Windows user, the idea of a clean install will make me sleep easier.

Stuff We Like: Pop Sealed Jars with the Lee Valley Jar Opener

jar_opener_sm.jpgWeb site Cool Tools recommends the Lee Valley Jar Opener, an unassuming piece of strategically shaped metal that takes all the work out of wrestling a jar open:

You simply place it on the top of the jar with either of the rolled sides caught just under the edge of the lid. Your fingers hold the piece in place, which acts as a lever, and the bend in the metal serves as the fulcrum. The downward pressure of the heel of your hand provides just enough force to release the vacuum without distorting the lid. I can happily report no more bent spoon handles, no more splatters, no more spills, just a nice "pop" sound when the vacuum has been broken.
This looks like a more effective alternative to my current jar-opening weapon, the circular piece of grippy rubber. The Lee Valley Jar Opener will set you back 8 bucks.

How To: Recover a Deleted Word Document

worddoc.gif That 20-page report you've been writing for weeks suddenly disappear from your hard drive? Weblog Hack College lists 10 ways you may be able to recover an accidentally deleted Word document, including searching your hard drive for Word's AutoRecover backup file:

In Word, go to Tools, then Options. Under the File Locations tab, double-click AutoRecover files and make a note of that path location. Click Cancel and Close. Open up that folder in My Computer or Windows Explorer and search for any .ASD files.
While a full-on backup system is your best bet for avoiding this situation in the future, you can also set Word to automatically back up your files (and if you already do, search for *.WBK files on your desktop for possible recovery, too.) If not, turn it on in the Tools menu's Options dialog's Save tab.

In Brief: CNET reporter Elinor Mills has a computer ...

CNET reporter Elinor Mills has a computer but no TV and runs down how she watches television on the laptop on the cheap. See also our 6 ways to catch your favorite TV shows online.

RIAA sues Usenet: Wait, you can do that?

The RIAA certainly knows how to keep on top of the latest trends in piracy. Wired is reporting that the Recording Industry Association of America is suing Usenet.com, claiming that the internet platform that predates the web is the next big thing in illegal file sharing.

Never mind the fact that people have been sharing files on Usenet for decades. And never mind the fact that Usenet.com is just one company that provides access to Usenet feeds.

In other words, RIAA could sue Usenet.com into oblivion with absolutely no impact on the number of illegal music, movie, and other files you could download from Usenet. This is sort of like suing internet service providers because subscribers used their internet access to fire up web browser, BitTorrent clients, and Gnutella-style file sharing applications to download copyrighted music.

Oh yeah, and in case you've forgotten how to access Usenet feeds (you know, for the engaging conversations, not the file downloads), Wired has written up a nice little tutorial to get you (re)started.

Dept of obvious research: Girls with photos online get more messages

Pew contact study
Every now and again a study comes around that's so stunning it makes us wonder, "wait, somebody took the time to study this?" And now, for the findings from the Department of Obvious Research Pew Internet & American Life Project: girls who post photos online are more likely to be contacted by strangers than boys or girls without pictures. Shocking, but true.

We suppose it's important for objective researchers to test conventional and unconventional wisdom about the web in order to stave off fears that every child who ever goes online will become the victim of sexual predators. But seriously, did we need a study to let us know that dirty old men out there like to send inappropriate messages to girls online?

Other key findings include:
  • Girls were more likely than boys to have been contacted by someone who made them feel scared or uncomfortable
  • Teens who created profiles on social networking sites are more likely to have been contacted by strangers -- but they were no more likely to have been scared than other kids who have been contacted online
[via Mashable]

Dr. Shuttleworth or; How we learned to stop worrying and love Open Source

Tomorrow Ubuntu 7.10 launches, and with it a whole new era in Open Source operating systems. Sure, it may be just another Linux distribution but, make no mistake, 7.10 is the tipping point.

After 7 releases, Ubuntu's track record remains stellar. Maintaining a rigorous release schedule, the Ubuntu team have managed to "slip" less than one day per release cycle, putting other commercial closed source vendors to shame. Try that, Microsoft.

While impressive, Ubuntu's dead-on release strategy is nothing compared to the level of innovation contained within those cycles. Giving users and developers what they want is a big piece of Ubuntu's core strategy, and it's starting to pay off in spades.

Continue reading Dr. Shuttleworth or; How we learned to stop worrying and love Open Source

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Google Analytics adds more tracking features

Google Analytics adds more tracking featuresGoogle has quietly announced some new features for Analytics, its web tracking tool. They seem small, but these additional tracking features will provide much greater insight into what is going on your website since you can't always peer over visitors' shoulders to watch.

The updates include:

  • Site Search Tracking - Users will now be able to tell exactly what keywords visitors searched for on your site, and where these searches end up.
  • Event Tracking - Currently in a limited beta test, these website reports will show how users interact with various multimedia aspects on your site, including flash and Ajax without messing with pageview metrics.
  • Outbound link Tracking - Also in a limited beta test rolling out in the next few weeks, reports will show what links website visitors click on that direct them to an outside site.
If you have a website, and don't already have the free Google Analytics code installed, you are missing out on understanding how your visitors move around, how they interact with your content and how they got there in the first place. Google Analytics not only provides insight on how people navigate, but it also aids in targeting site content towards what people enjoy. It's easy to set up, free and Analytics reports are super simple to understand.

The Web Design Survey results

The Web Design Survey resultsEarlier this year we let you know that Jeffrey Zeldman and his crew at A List Apart were compiling statistics in an online survey for the web design profession. This survey includes insights from many people in this area of expertise including designers, developers, project managers, writers and editors. The survey results have now been released to the public in a freshly designed PDF report.

33,000 web professionals chimed in to answer the 37 questions asked. The raw data was then churned out into this 82 page document , nicely designed of course, answering many questions like Who Are You?, Education, Salary, Jobs & Titles to how many designers have blogs and websites and what skills they have.

Take a peek at it, and let us know your take on their findings.

First peek at Microsoft Office Live Workspace

Office Live Workspace
Microsoft has released a few screenshots of its upcoming Office Live Workspace. And we have to say, it looks about as much like desktop software as any web-based app we've seen. Which is a good thing, since it's meant to work with the desktop version of Microsoft Office.

But while Office Live Workspace certainly looks a lot prettier than Google Docs & Spreadsheets, the two services might be addressing different markets. That's because Google Docs is a standalone suite of Office applications allowing you to create text/HTML documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You can also import and export files compatible with Microsoft Office.

Office Live Workspace, on the other hand, is a way to share and collaborate on files created using Microsoft's commercial desktop application. Look, we're not saying Microsoft has to give everything away for free just because Google's doing it. If you've got superior applications, go ahead and charge a premium. But we'd like see Microsoft offer the ability to create and edit documents online without first purchasing MS Office. We might even consider paying a small subscription fee for access to such a service.

Kubuntu 7.10 released today too

Kubuntu 7.10 with KDE4
There's been a lot of talk this week about Ubuntu 7.10, which was released today. It has improved hardware and driver support, 3D Desktop graphics, and integrated desktop search. But Ubuntu's main branch isn't the only OS getting an update this week. Kubuntu, Edubuntu, and Xubuntu and other Ubuntu-related projects are also getting a facelift.

Kubuntu, if you're not familiar, is basically Ubuntu with the KDE interface instead of Gnome. You can easily turn Ubuntu into Kubuntu by installing the KDE packages from Ubuntu's repository. Or you can download it directly from Kubuntu.org.

Here's what's new in Kubuntu 7.10:
  • KDE 3.5.8 is the new default desktop manager, but you can also install KDE 4 Beta 3. This is an unstable release, but it's a dramatic redesign of the KDE Linux desktop environment.
  • Dolphin is the new default file manager. It doesn't replace Konqueror, which acts as a file manager and web browser. But Dolphin supports split views, undo and redo, renaming of multiple files, and other features familiar to Windows users.
  • The enterprise version of personal information manager Kontact is available.
  • There's a new KDE front end for the APT package manager. GDebi KDE lets you install Debian based packages with a single click.
Overall, Kubuntu looks and feels a bit more like Windows than Ubuntu. It's up to you to decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. But we have to say, we like the default blue background better than Ubuntu's orange and brown scheme.

Adobe: 10 years, and all our apps will be online

Adobe: 10 years, and all apps will be onlineAdobe CEO Bruce Chizen says within 10 years, the company will be offering all of its applications online. His remarks come at a time when we see more and more companies offering online applications as an alternative to desktop products.

Google Docs, Zoho, Picnik, SnapLayout, Zude, just a few of the many successful online applications that can be accessed anywhere without the large cost of boxed versions. There might be some features missing, but this new breed of application has much to offer the user with free, portable, cross platform, accessible with no upgrades needed as a few of the benefits.

Major software development companies like Adobe are starting to take note and recognize their shrinking market share. The likes of Picnik and PikiFX are emerging and growing the free online image editing space and have forced Adobe to quickly rethink their software strategy pushing them to develop a version of their popular Photoshop for online usage. Adobe still has no release date for Photoshop Express but realizes that the future of software lies with online versions and is working to deliver all of their applications via the web.

Chizen says he believes that these new online applications will only appeal to a younger generation of users that would never think of paying $400 for a packaged software product. Dear Adobe, we think this will appeal to all users, young or old, just as long as they, along with the rest of the world will have access to broadband in 10 years. After all, what good is an online application if it can't be accessed properly?

MS Office 2008 for Mac: new screens and first impressions

Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac, due sometime after Macworld San Francisco this winter, has been the subject of much obsession among Mac folk ever since Apple started the Intel transition, mostly because the current incarnation of Mac Office, 2004, runs like a dog on Apple's Intel machines and hasn't seen a code change in over four years. While we're satisfied that at least Microsoft is consistent (they often go 4 years between Windows Office releases, too), we were really hoping Office 2008 would've been Office 2007 (or Office 2006).

Lest we digress. There's a new gallery of Office 2008 screengrabs here. We were given an opportunity to see the new software demonstrated, and the rumors about the speed increase are very true. This thing runs circles around its predecessor on Intel hardware, and we're especially geeked about the speed and zest of Microsoft Word. Paginating a 500+ page document on our 2 gHz Macbook Pro only took about 8 seconds. The other thing that's immediately obvious about this new Office is the addition of "object insertion bars" in all the apps, allowing you quick access to objects usually dealt with in other parts of the suite--for example, rapidly inserting a chart into a Word document. Entourage still has a case of the IMAP hiccups, sadly, but its interface has been improved as well. That immobile navigation bar that clogs up the top-left corner of the 2004 version is gone, gone, gone, and we couldn't be happier. All in all, this update appears to be coming along great.

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