NevOn NevOn is the archive weblog of Neville Hobson, a British business communicator based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, a record of commentary and conversations from December 2002 until 22 February 2006. This site is no longer updated - please visit www.nevillehobson.com.
Beta 2 of FeedDemon 2, the RSS aggregator for Windows, was released this week. If you've been testing FD's development versions since release 1.5, this latest beta is worth getting.
I've just installed it and the first thing I notice is how much faster the application seems to be overall compared to beta 1. The release notes outline a long list of additions, changes and fixes since that first beta.
John Peddie's TechWatch: [...] Over 600 million PCs shipped in the last 3 years, and are still in service. These are the ones that are most logical to upgrade with the new Vista operating system. However, because of the low graphics performance of integrated graphics chips found in most of the PCs, they would not be able to take advantage of the richness and benefits of Vista's new Aero Glass GUI and the graphics-based operating system would be unusable on most of them.
I for one will definitely upgrade to Windows Vista when it appears later this year (I'm in the current beta programme).
Peddie's article, though, raises a key question - what if your computer just doesn't have the muscle for taking advanatge of some of Vista's advanced features, such as the gorgeous new interface known as Aero which offers spectacular visual effects such as glass-like interface elements that you can see through?
Well, short of upgrading or buying a new system, you can get close to the look-and-feel of much of Vista with Windows XP if you skin the operating system using a tool like WindowBlinds version 5 (the latest version).
There's a great community of developers who create imaginative WindowBlinds skins you can freely download from places like Wincustomize and DeviantART. Already there are quite a few that give you some of the elements of Vista's Aero, eg, the glassy look to the black taskbar icons, the red highlight when you hover your mouse over the X you click on to close a programme, real-time shadows, transparency, pleasing-on-the-eye typefaces, etc.
The latest beta 3.0.0-b1 reflects some serious development work over previous betas - they do listen to the testers - and shows a strong commitment by Qumana to produce a reliable tool for blogging that will stand up well against the competition.
One thing I'm very pleased (and relieved) to see is that a major issue with posting to TypePad blogs has been resolved with this latest beta. Until now, if you posted to your TypePad blog, any category you'd set in your post would not carry through to final publish. This for me was a complete show-stopper for QumanaXP. From my email conversations with the developers, it appeared that this was a TypePad issue, not a QumanaXP one. Either was, they've fixed it.
I also tried QumanaXP with my WordPress blog - works perfectly including with categories.
Today QumanaXP goes into public beta, meaning anyone can download the beta and take it for a spin. It will be formally launched at the Northern Voice 2006 community-based blogging and personal publishing conference taking place today and tomorrow in Vancouver, Canada.
But don't wait - download the beta now! Try it for yourself. You might also want to take a look at the contest Qumana has launched as part of their incentivizing bloggers to use their tool ;)
I'll be posting more detailed commentary about QumanaXP soon.
Mozilla released an update to the Firefox browser earlier this month which, the release notes say, provides improved stability, improved support for Mac OS X, fixes for several memory leaks and several security enhancements among other things.
Notwithstanding the security fixes, I'm not upgrading to this latest version 18.104.22.168 yet. The reason? If I do, some essential plugins (aka extensions) will stop working.
Every couple of days, Firefox pops up a dialog (the image you see here) reminding me that the new version is available. Every time it does, I click on the 'later' button as the dialog tells me some plugins won't work. Clicking on 'show list' displays them - googlebar 0.9.15.07, SpellBound 0.7.3 and Mozilla Spellcheck Libraries 22.214.171.124 (the latter two in particular being essential to have, and have working).
There may be others but these are the ones on my system that Firefox says won't work if I upgrade.
This situation is always a pain as it occurs with each Firefox update. If a plugin doesn't work, this is Firefox's advice in known issues:
If you find that your favorite Extension or Theme has not been updated to be compatible with this release of Firefox, write the author and encourage them to update it.
Right. So in the meantime, I'd have to do without their functionality.
This post isn't really the rant it might seem to be. It's just that I wish this dance between Mozilla and the developers of plugins would get more in sync.
So I'll wait until the popup doesn't tell me about things that won't work.
If you're a TypePad customer, be aware that the hosted blog service will be in maintenance mode this weekend. From a note on the Six Apart Status blog last night:
We have a scheduled maintenance window on Saturday evening from 11:00 PM through Sunday morning at approximately 4:00 AM to upgrade our database server. Upgrading the database server will enable us to further scale our operations and deliver stronger, more reliable performance.
Those times are equivalent to 8:00am to 1:00pm Central European Time (GMT +1) tomorrow Sunday. And here's the most important news for customers:
Weblogs will be accessible to your readers during this time, however you will not be able to publish posts, leave comments or receive TrackBacks.
In other words, people can visit your blog but you'll not be able to do any publishing, editing, comment/trackback approvals or otherwise interact with your blog, only visit it.
Further service maintenance will take place this coming Tuesday. From a post in the Everything TypePad news blog:
[...] As of 9:00 am PST on Tuesday, February 7th, We will no longer be accepting weblog traffic on IP addresses 126.96.36.199 (old IP) or 188.8.131.52 (temporary IP used during data center move)
The vast majority of our customers and readers of their blogs will not be impacted by this change.
There are a small number of customers (less than 100, based on our analysis) who are currently using the Domain Mapping feature on TypePad and have hardcoded their domain to either of these IP. As of 9:00 am on Tuesday, their weblogs will be inaccessible at their mapped domain name. Viewers of these domain mapped weblogs will be presented with information explaining this service change and steps necessary to remap their domains.
In preparation for this event, we have emailed these customers on nearly a weekly basis, informing them about this change, and encouraging them to modify their settings at their domain registrar.
With such things going on, now is a good time to back up your blog. Do it today if you can, before the maintenance starts. Here's how:
Backup your blog
Log in to your TypePad account.
Click on the name of one of your blog accounts (or the only one). You should now be at this location: TypePad home > Your Weblogs > [Blog name].
Above the blog name towards the top of the page, you'll see a row of links. The one you're looking for says "Import/Export."Click on that.
Location: TypePad home > Your Weblogs > [Blog name] > Post > Import/Export.
Scroll to the very bottom of the page, where you'll see a link called "Export Posts from your TypePad Weblog: [blog name]."
In Windows, right click on that link and choose "Save link as..." (Firefox) or "Save target as..." (Internet Explorer).
Choose a place on your compouter to save the file.
The file downloads, and you're done.
A couple of things to note.
I've just backed up this blog; the default filename the backup has is post.htm. If you get a similar name, you'll need to do at least one thing - change the file extension to .txt as it's not an HTML file, just plain text. Then you'll likely want to give the file a more meaningful name.
Yesterday, the German enterprise software vendor SAP announced it is entering the hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) market with the expansion of its mySAP CRM offering to include a hosted option.
The first service SAP will offer as a subscription is its sales-on-demand solution, with pricing from $75/user a month, and with hosting services from IBM.
In a Business Week article yesterday discussing SAP's move, market researcher IDC estimates that, while on-demand sales made up only about 6 percent of the roughly $9 billion CRM market last year, that percentage could rise to as much as 25 percent in five years. A commentary by Line56 also yesterday says SAP's announcement illustrates a convergence of interests and models as the 1990s best-of-breed concept fades further into the distance.
DestinationCRM.com's report on the CRM market leaders in 2005 says a recent AMR Research report indicated that 47 percent of large enterprises, or companies with more than $1 billion in revenue, were going to look at the hosted model as part of their "going forward CRM strategy." If there is a single one-to-watch on-demand provider, destinationCRM says, it's Salesforce.com.
One to watch right now clearly is SAP. The obvious new-customer target for SAP would be Saleforce.com (whose CRM SaaS pricing starts at $65/user a month). That's not quite how Business Week sees it, though:
[...] While SAP's battle with Salesforce.com is lively, its most ferocious competition is with Oracle, the No. 2 corporate applications company. With the completion of its $5.58 billion takeover of Siebel Systems on Feb. 1, Oracle overtook SAP to become the leading traditional CRM software supplier.
Oracle already has both traditional and on-demand CRM products, as does Siebel. Now, with the combination, it expects to make headway against SAP in both spheres. That's partly because the uncertainty about Siebel's future has been resolved and customers are feeling more comfortable about buying its software again. Juergen Rottler, executive vice-president of Oracle On Demand, says Oracle will be much more aggressive about pushing on-demand services than SAP. "We believe that on-demand is the future of our business," he says.
When I started podcasting, I used the free cross-platform audio editor Audacity as my application of choice for recording and editing audio. This is a common route that many people go when they start out podcasting.
Audacity is very good and easy to use. Good enough, in fact, for many people to stick with it. Not just for podcasts, either - it’s good enough to be one’s primary audio editor. And a new version was announced last month with some fixes and new features.
The main negative I had with Audacity, though, was that I found the learning curve quite steep on understanding precisely how to use many of the program’s features. There are some good online tutorials and documentation, though. It is free after all.
This lack of easy-to-understand help was one of the main reasons why I decided to purchase Adobe Audition 1.5 for Windows earlier last month. Having used the free 30-day trial, I knew this was the one for me. The help is excellent, making it relatively easy to understand some of the things you can do with audio that can be difficult to grasp if audio editing isn’t something you routinely do as part of your job or profession. Audition also lets you do things with audio files that either you can’t in Audacity or I never was able to figure out how.
For instance, with Audition you can easily set the exact bit rate and sampling rate of an MP3 file when you come to export your audio to that format. So let’s say I’ve recorded audio as a high-quality stereo WAV file, or mixed a number of individual audio files which have different bit and sampling rates (a common activity with my podcast), I can set those rates precisely to, say, 64Kbps and 44.1Khz respectively and export the content to a mono MP3 - typically what you’d want for a vocal podcast. This gives you a good balance between good-quality audio reproduction and file compression.
Today I saw that a new version, Adobe Audition 2.0, is now available. Version 2 has some very interesting new features including a built-in compressor.
If ease of use, powerful features and lots of help are what you need, then this could be worth the rather hefty price tag - over €400 from Adobe’s European online store. Quite a price jump from 1.5 which I recall was less than €300 (I didn’t pay anywhere near that, though, for 1.5 as I bought my copy via the Amazon.co.uk Marketplace). At about €150, the upgrade price to 2.0 from 1.5 is less eye-watering.
Adobe also offers this new version on a free 30-day trial. You get the fully-functional package to try for this time. Once your time’s up, it just won’t run any more.
Trying it out is definitely worth doing if you want to see for yourself whether Audition is right for you.
Participating in the first UK preview of Windows Live in London last Thursday evening was a worthwhile experience. This event was the first public (ie, to a private group) UK presentation of and discussion about the collection of new internet-based services from Microsoft that are currently in beta testing.
I've not yet directly experienced any of the constituent parts of Windows Live (I'm on the beta sign-up waiting lists) other than pop in now and again to the website portal and play a bit with the Ajax-based customization features where you can add and subtract content that will appear in your personalized page.
Here's a screenshot so you can get an idea:
As I mentioned in conversation at the event, I've not been that impressed with it. Ok, it is a beta, but it's not been anything that has really held my attention or interest other than to note that it's in development and will likely be a big consumer offering once it moves into the more polished and getting-to-final development stages. Still pay attention to what's happening with it, in other words.
What I learned last Thursday is that this view is pretty narrow and barely scratches the surface of what Windows Live is actually all about.
So what is Windows Live? Briefly, it comprises these layered services:
So last Thursday's event in London was worthwhile in providing everyone there (some 30 people plus MSN and the PR agency) with a better focus on the overall offering and where it's at in its development cycle.
Light blogging until the weekend as I'll be in London tonight for the first UK preview of Microsoft's Windows Live.
Windows Live is a set of personal internet services and software designed to bring together in one place all of the relationships, information and interests people care about most, with more safety and security features across their PC, devices and the web. While it has clear benefits from an individual consumer's point of view, I'm especially interested in learning more about those benefits from the business point of view.
More later. Meanwhile, if you want to learn a little about Windows Live, here are some places where you can: