Posted by: englishdubai | May 18, 2009

Six Great Web 2.0 Applications I can’t live without

As a self confessed geek and web addict, the advent of Web 2.0 and the almost seamless integration between desktop and on-line applications and services is so powerful. Here are a few that I find absolutely essential and use on a daily basis:

1. Chrome

The browser from google. While I am a huge advocate of Firefox I find that on my netbook Chrome’s turbo mode is fantastic for editing blogs at high speed. Chrome is also my browser of choice on systems with limited capabilities i.e. my Netbook

2. Picasa and Picasa Web Albulms

The photos on this blog are hosted on Picasa Web albums which integrates beautifully with Picasa allowing me to quickly share photos with people. Picasa is a gem of a photo organizing and lightweight image correction tool. I currently have over 30,000 photos in my collection and I can surf through them at blazing speed. I also really like the plug in for facebook which makes uploading a whole album of photos a breeze.

3. Spotify

A mate of mine was telling of some amazing web based replacement for iTunes. It kind of interested me so I want to check it out, this was further reinforced with a vast selection of tunes available. The sad thing was that being based in the UAE the free ad-sponsored version was not available but the premium paid for version was. I thought I would try it out and have enjoyed having a perfectly tagged selection of music at my finger tips.

4. Digsby

I admit it. I am hoplessly addicted to social networking. Similar to the way that reality TV grabbed me when I first saw Big Brother some years ago. The issue with this whole Web 2.0, user generated content trend is that to keep up to date with it all means a sprawl of web browsers open all over ones computer.

I read about Digsby on Lifehacker and thought I would try it out. It consolidates instant messaging (MSN, facebook, Yahoo messenger, AIM and ICQ), social networking (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and email (Google, Hotmail and Yahoo). As I regularly use nearly all of these services I find Digsby a boon. I now only have to log into one application to see everything I need. If I want more detail on any one thing it is all hotlinked to the appropriate website. It is neat if you can get used to its interface. I would describe it as a “stock ticker” of social networking. It is a real shame it is not available on Mac OSX.

5. Xobni

I get an overwhelming amount of email. Not just circulars but things that I need to action on a regular basis. As a longterm user of Thunderbird the switch to Outlook was painful to say the least. Xobni is a plugin to outlook that I find invaluable. It scans all email that I have sent and recieved and discovers links to those emails.

Who do I email the most? Who emails me the most? What files have I shared with that person? It answers in blazing fast speed these and many more questions. Xobni is built on an ethos that we organize are thoughts not around topics but around people and their networks. As a result, threaded conversations are highighted. Also if you are connected on LinkedIn or Facebook  to that person their profile is provided in the Xobni window. It really is a super useful plug in but I found I needed a powerful computer to run this on, so I don’t run it on my netbook for instance. Again, a real shame it is not available on Mac OSX.

6. Mozy

My photos and a number of documents I have on my computer are irreplaceable. While I have some folder syncing going on giving me multiple copies which is great for convenience. But having an offsite back up then I can access anytime is really what I want. I am happy to pay for such a service to protect my valuable digital assets I have spent sometime researching online back up tools. The good news there are plenty of them. A little status update on Twitter/Facebook led to a flood of recommendations. These were:

Dropbox, Mozy, Carbonite, SafeCopyBackup, BackupMax, Cloudberrydrive and Zenfolio

I really liked Dropbox as a service that is beautifully integrated into the OS shell, and I use it for quick filesharing. However, it was just too expensive for the 60gb of online storage I wanted. This was a similar story for the others too.

I settled on Mozy which for a very reasonable $4 a month (with voucher) I get unlimited online storage. There is a nice tool which is set and forget – but the downside with all online back up programs is that getting it all online for 60gb is going to take about two weeks of constant uploading. However, once done the incremental updates are a breeze. So far I am about halfway through uploading my photo library and I will be glad when it is done.


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