Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Preview of Office Web Apps Expanding

Yesterday Microsoft announced that they will expand the technical preview of Office Web Apps. This is great news if your in the US or Japan, everyone else (like myself) will have to wait until (hoepfully) sometime later this fall. For US and Japan citizens, you can sign up here for a technical preview:

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Zoho Show Becomes More Interactive

One of the complaints about Web 2.0 presentation tools is that they are not very interactive. Slides can be flipped through, there may be a simple animation, but that's about it. Zoho's presentation tool, Show, is changing that. This advanced Web 2.0 presenting tool already allowed the embedding of Zoho's spreadsheets and charts, now Zoho Reports (a reporting tool) can also be embedded. Check out the embedded slideshow to see this in action.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Preview Google Docs In Gmail

The Google Docs (GDocs)/Gmail team introduced another great feature today; the ability to preview Google Docs in Gmail. This is an excellent addition because a lot of us spend a considerable amount of time clicking on GDocs links in emails, now the document will simply be previewed within Gmail. Make sure you go to Gmail labs to enable this feature. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

My Next Computer Will Be An iPod Touch

I've made a very important decision; I am going to buy an iPod Touch soon!! I currently own a desktop computer and I spend a lot of time online, this equals a lot of time spent at my desk, and this equals me getting really tired of sitting on a once comfortable chair and once modern desk. With the newest iPod touch (Apple calls it a pocket computer) I can do most of my online stuff, plus play some really great games and use it to cart my music around. Since I have Wi-Fi all through my apartment, I can do all of these things away from my desk. I could purchase a smartphone to meet my needs, but they are damn expensive. For my uses, one would probably cost me ~$100/month which is too much for a laboratory instructor paying off student loans. 

I plan on purchasing the 32 GB iPod touch since this version has more features than the 8 GB and 16GB, most important is OpenGL graphic support which will be very important for future iPod Touch games. The cheapest price I could find online is futureshop, $298.99 + taxHow am I going to finance this? I currently own a 3rd Gen iPod nano, this will be hopefully sold on eBay, and suprisingly, I should be able to get ~$140 for it. So all I have to do is come up with another $200 and it'll be mine, woo hoo!! How am I going to get the remaining $200? That part I'm still working on....

Monday, 12 October 2009

The Google Docs Interface Gets Rehauled

The Google Docs interface finally got a makeover that was promised about 3 months ago. Besides the new colors (which I really am liking), multiple files can now be uploaded (so far I haven't found any limitations on how many can be uploaded) and similar to Zoho, Thinkfree, and Microsoft Office Web, a destination folder can be chosen. This is going to be such a timesaver; prior to these features I would spend so much time uploading individual files and then placing them in their destination folder.

The New Upload Interface (progress bars also appear)

The New Interface

The other big news announced today is that whole folders can now be shared. This is so much better than having to individually share every file. Again, this will be another huge timesaver. Along with this, the "Items not in folders" folder has been reinstated after a four month disappearance and subfolders can now be viewed in the "My Folders" section.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Easily Insert Picasa Photos Into Google Sites

Over the past years, Google Sites has become a central point for sharing Google files such as documents, maps, calendars, and now individual Picasa Web photos. Prior to this, albums could be added; this worked very well for showing slideshows of photos (I used it to show field trip photos). Photos can be searched for from within the Insert Photo window which is great since organization is not a top priority for me. Along with the ability to insert photos, uploading photos can be done within the Insert Photo window. I love how Google products are becoming linked. 

Inserting a Picasa photo into Google Sites

Uploading photos to web albums via Google Sites

Another nice addition to Google Sites is that announcement pages, site comments, and site activity can be acccessed as a feed. So, if your using a service such as Google Reader, all of these will appear in your unread items. Great features Google. 

Friday, 9 October 2009

Improvements To Drawing In Google Docs

Everyday I am amazed at what can be done in a browser. One of the areas that creates a lot of amazement and interest is drawing/illustrating within a browser. Google Docs added the ability to create drawings about 1/2 a year ago, and today they announced another round of improvements. There is now a Polyline tool that allows the creation of polygons, the Snap to Grids feature aligns objects with the canvas or guides, and finally multiple lines can be created without having to click on the line tool after completion of the first line. I use drawing a lot in my Presentations, these added features, especially the polyline tool, will make my life a lot easier. Next on the features-to-add list will hopefully be a Bezier tool. 

My drawing-in-progress of a benzene ring

Monday, 5 October 2009

Over 10 000 Windows Live Hotmail Account Passwords Leaked Online

If your have Windows Live Hotmail account, you may have been subject to a phishing scam that has allowed someone to obtain over 10 000 accounts with email domains including,, and The Windows live team has acknowledged the issue and have posted information here. Apparently the usernames and passwords are posted to the website PasteBin and may affect accounts in alphabetical order beginning with the letters "ar" to "bl". Personally, I think that the whole spam/phishing problem is getting worst. I use Gmail for most of my email communication, and I've noticed lately that some of this nasty stuff is getting past the Gmail Spam gates. 

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Google Spreadsheets Gets Translate Function

For those Google Spreadsheet users out there, two new functions have been added to your arsenal:
  1. =GoogleTranslate("field one", "field two," field three") allows translation of a cell of text. Field one is the text to be translated, field two is the two letter language code of the the text you want to translate, and field three is the code for the language that you want the text to be tranlated into. 
  2. =DetectLanguage determines the two letter language code of the text in a cell. 
These are great functions.....if there weren't errors!! In the Google Docs help forum, users are reporting that Hindi is showing up as English when the DetectLanguage function is used!! Brutal!! Google does this frequently, that is, releasing products that are full of bugs, maybe more refinement in product releases is needed. 

Friday, 2 October 2009

Upload .xlsx To Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects, the great collaboration tool just allowed users to upload .xlsx files. This was badly needed since so many people use Excel 2007 to meet their spreadsheet needs and having to go to the Save As icon can get time consuming when alot of documents are open. I gave it a whirl and it was smooth and without errors. Not much else to say here, great feature.

Google Docs Has Let Me Down :(

As you can probably tell, I am a huge Google Docs fan....HUGE!! This semester I decided to get my students to submit lab reports using Google Docs, which would avoid the whole attachment nightmare. So during the first lab of the week, I introduced Docs and got the students to signup for accounts. All was going well until a few hands popped up and students starting asking, 

"Why is Google is asking us for our cellphone number to verify our accounts?" 

I was speechless. Approximately 25% of the students could not setup an account without providing a mobile number, the others could do it via email. The students were against providing their number and so was I. I posted a question regarding this on the Google Docs Help Forum and as of this blog posting, no one has responded. I did manage to find information from Google regarding SMS verification, here is a quote:
"If you'd like to sign up for a Gmail address, you need to have a mobile phone that has text-messaging capabilities. If you don't have a phone, you may want to ask a friend if you can use his or her number to receive a code." 
Apparently this applies to certain regions of the world. So if you don't have a phone or can't get one, then you can't have a Gmail address or a Google Docs account or a Google account. What's even worse about this policy is that only only some mobile carriers are covered, in Canada it's just Rogers.
     This is simply a terrible move by Google and they are really going to miss out on a lot of potential customers. To sum up, goodbye Google...HELLO Zoho!!