I came across this article on Lifehacker recently. It got me thinking. I had been using the OpenDNS servers and then Google’s Public DNS servers for a while now because they both advertised that it could speed up your internet experience. Now that there are so many location-based services and location-based load balancing, it seems that they may not necessarily be faster. So I tried the tool, Namebench, mentioned in that Lifehacker article. It turned out that if I switched back to Verizon’s (I’m a FiOS user) DNS servers, I could, in fact, speed up my internet. In fact, Namebench told me it would be about 500% faster by switching. So I switched my DNS servers in my router and will hope for the best. Keep in mind that you may not notice a huge difference, but when it comes to large downloads from services that use location-based mirrors determined by the DNS lookup, those might actually be noticeably faster.
I’ve been using Google Chrome as my main web browser on my home computer, which runs Windows XP. While I will say that I really like it, there are some features I miss from Firefox. I miss my extensions and plugins. That’s the one nice thing about an established browser, even if I do have to add on to it. I have that option. Specifically, I miss the Gmail notifier. I suppose I could just download the one from Google to run in Windows, even when the browser isn’t open, but that’s one more thing running and I like to keep as little running as possible. I also miss Twitterfox, my Twitter client, though I have downloaded Twhirl, which seem to work pretty well, though I find it to be a bit more than I need. I like the simplicity of Twitterfox. Other than that, I don’t really regularly use the other extensions I have installed (web development stuff, FireFTP, etc).
I love the homepage feature of Chrome, showing the most frequently visited pages. I also like the speed. It seems very streamlined and small. I like the multi-threading with a new instance for each tab. That makes buggy sites easy to kill without killing the whole browser. It’s a promising browser. That being said, it can be a little buggy and sluggish at times. For the most part, it’s quick. I like that it uses Webkit, because Gecko just isn’t as standards compliant as I’d like it to be (for instance, my blog looks noticeably better with a Webkit browser than a Gecko browser).
I hope Google keeps up development on Chrome and that it becomes more mainstream with support for extensions or plugins. I wish there was an option to open or save certain files (Quicken files for example want to be downloaded and not opened directly). I like how it uses Windows Media Player as a plugin right inside the browser. It could be a real contender and it’s kind of fun to have browser wars starting up again. Now if only they’d release a Mac version (as I type this in Firefox on my MacBook Pro).
I noticed some odd differences in my Gmail account the other day. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Today I decided to check my Contacts and it’s completely different. It’s a lot nicer and easier to use than the way it used to be. I’ll have to play around with it, but I think I like the change. Nothing else really looks different, though.
Anyone waiting for the new version to make it to them will probably be getting it soon (I tend to get cool new stuff last for some reason).
There’s a nice article over on Slate (via Slashdot) about how Google’s presentation software doesn’t even come close to the much loathed MS PowerPoint. The biggest reasons behind this are the following:
- Google’s software only works with an active internet connection. While you can save them as HTML files, you can’t edit them. This means that you can’t edit them on the plane when flying to a customer to make a sales presentation.
- PowerPoint offers a whole lot more in the way of customization, including animations; drawing on the slides; custom templates, fonts, colors, etc.; different types of slide transitions.
The only thing that Google offers that PowerPoint does not is live collaboration. However, as I reported before, MS is releasing something in the near future that will allow for that. While I said it comes up short, that only applies for people who aren’t already using MS Office.
However, the ultimate presentation software, according to the article is Apple’s Keynote. The reason being that it offers even more fine tuning over PowerPoint. While I seem to be an Apple hater based on previous posts, that is very far from the truth. Keynote is a pretty impressive piece of software.
Google is still popping up on the news sites. The first thing is that they’re very slowly (much slower I would assume than the IMAP rollout) rolling out a new version of the Gmail interface. The differences that I’ve read about are an improved contacts management page and more integration and improvement of Google Talk/chat. It’s also supposed to make Gmail faster. Now I don’t know how anyone will notice it since Gmail is already very responsive and smooth, but faster wouldn’t hurt. Screenshots are here. Official word from Gmail Blog.
Finally, this popped up on Slashdot as I was writing this. The GooglePhone has long been rumored to be in the making. Google has said it isn’t, others have said they’re lying and there is one. Apparently, it’s not actually a phone, but a mobile operating system for a phone. This, unfortunately, does not tie together with their interest in the 700 MHz spectrum. However, there is now talk of Google talking to Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile about providing phones that run their mobile operating system. This would give Google a large established customer base.
I finally have IMAP as part of my Gmail settings! Don’t really have much else to say. Perhaps I’ll write a review of it later on in the week when I get the latest Thunderbird and start using it again. I’m excited though. I would assume that anyone who was still waiting for it should check their Gmail accounts because you probably have it now as I’m usually the last to get anything cool.
Many users of Google’s Gmail service will begin to see IMAP listed along with Forwarding and POP in their settings. Google started rolling out the availability of IMAP for their Gmail webmail service. This will allow for “2 way” communication between your email client and Gmail on the web, meaning that if you move a message in your email client, the next time it connects to Gmail, it’ll sync it up in both locations. They currently only have a handful of supported clients and devices (which includes most of the major email clients), but I’m sure that list will expand in the future.
I think I might just have to break out Thunderbird again and start using an email client to check my email again. There’s always been certain things I liked better about a client than webmail.
UPDATE: Post from Boing Boing Gadgets… and if people are wondering when they’ll be getting it, I don’t know. I don’t have it yet myself. Google tends to roll out these new “big” features over time, so be patient.
And remember, we’re rolling out IMAP starting today, so if you don’t see it in “Settings,” don’t worry, it will be there soon.
Yesterday, Microsoft issued a press release announcing web-based versions of it’s Office software designed to allow users to collaborate live in an online workspace. Unfortunately, potential users will be required to have Microsoft Office installed on the computer they wish to use Office Live Workspace. I can understand Microsoft wanting to keep being able to sell copies fo MS Office. And I can also understand Microsoft wishing to compete with Google, as Google Docs can be considered a reasonable alternative to MS Office, so long as you don’t need any of the more advanced features. What I don’t understand is the need for the MS Office requirement to use it. If Microsoft truly wants to compete with Google, they would release a web-based version of the basic MS Office products (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) for free, cutting out some of the more advanced features, but leaving in some of the features that would make them better than Google Docs, starting some real competition.
I applaud Microsoft for making the attempt, but it falls short of actually being a useful attempt. I don’t see this getting Microsoft anymore business. The only thing it really allows for is easier online collaboration for people who already own MS Office. As some of the tags say in the Slashdot article below, this is too little too late.
Microsoft punts web-based apps to the masses (The Register)