E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Knowledge Snippets

Pumping Up My Overall Web 2.0 Experience – Flock 1.0 Beta on the Mac Rules!

Over the last few days I have been bumping into a number of different blog posts from the various folks I follow in my feed reader, who have been trying out the first publicly available beta client from one of my favourite Web browsers: Flock v1.0 RC3, and I thought it was about time that I should a comment or two on what my own experience with it has been thus far. If you have been reading my blog for a little while now you have probably noticed already what a big fan I have become of such particular browser and it seems it is not over any time soon! Yes, that is right, folks, Flock v1.0 Beta just rocks!

I am not going to mention all of the different nifty social software features that have been put together for this particular beta release. For that I am just going to point you to the superb blog post that Harry McCracken has put together over at PCWorld where you would be able to read one of the best, and most thorough, reviews put together so far on this very same subject.

However, I am surely going to be sharing this with you. Flock still is my default Web browser for all of my Web 2.0 activities, like the previous versions have been all along. But here is the new thing. Flock in combination with the MacBook Pro I am currently using as my work machine just takes things into a whole new experience! Flock on the Mac rocks! And rock solid! Incredibly stable, hasn’t crashed a single time yet, very intuitive to navigate and make use of the various different features, all of the different social software capabilities are very nicely integrated (Much better than in Windows) to the point that I am really enjoying the integration with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Ma.gnolia etc. etc. and overall I can certainly comment on the fact that over the last few days I have been trying it out it has enhanced my exposure to Web 2.0 quite a bit. For the better.

And I am surely glad it has, because I was starting to get tired with how poor that same experience is with my Windows machine. Up until now I have been enjoying Flock quite a bit in the Windows notebook, but as soon as you try it out on the Mac you surely know what you have been missing all along, or, what I have been missing all along. It just feels smoother, more natural, just like a lifestyle. Exactly how social software has been envisioned from the start.

Yes, I know that most people are enjoying FireFox quite a bit, but to me it lacks some serious functionality as a Web 2.0 browser, along with some stability and memory footprint issues. Plus rather simplistic. Oh, yes, I know about the extensions, but let me tell you something. Those very same extensions work as well with Flock and don’t need to carry them with me. They are already there. At least, the ones I am interested in from day one.

I know that people may have different issues with a couple of the components that may need some work, like the integrated feed reader or the blog editor and I am sure, while those capabilities get to be improved as time goes by, I will still be making use of them in between my default options at the moment: Vienna and Qumana. So I can surely wait till they are finally done. But still the overall experience from a Mac is just so much more compelling than everything else that I may have been exposed to in the past, including Flock itself in Windows.

I know that this may sound rare, but contrary to what I thought was going to happen with this new MacBook Pro I am finding out that I spend less and less time working in it, but instead hang out more on the Web 2.0 apps. out there helping me enjoy that exposure quite a bit and making it much more integrated with my daily workflow. And Flock 1.0 is doing a superb job at it, too!

Ok, ok, I realise that it is not as fast as Opera is. In fact, Opera beats them all in that particular respect, including Safari, and that is why for my straight up front reading of Web sites Opera is my default browser, but for all of my social software tools Flock 1.0 on the Mac rules. Now and for quite some more time to come! Thus there you have it, some of the main reasons why I am sticking with Flock and why I am still enjoying the overall MacBook Pro experience… Oh and the empowering Leopard will be installed over here very soon, too! But that would be another story for another blog post…

(Keep up the superb piece of work, Flock developers!! And thanks ever so much for making our Web 2.0 experience much more enjoyable and resourceful. We would never probably be grateful enough for what you have been doing all this time — quoting Harry’s post shared above: "Two years ago, when the Flock people started talking about the notion of a social browser, they might have been a little ahead of their time.")

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Vyew – FREE Anytime Collaboration and Live Conferencing – on the Mac

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As I continue to read how some of the folks out there on the blogosphere start making their transition successfully from their Windows to a Mac based machine, I continue to enjoy the experience myself very much so with my  own MacBook Pro. So much so that over the last few days I have been consolidating all of the different work-related tools that I use on a regular basis and I am in the process of creating another blog post where I am detailing what those different tools are. However, today I just wanted to mention briefly one of those tools that will become essential to my on the Mac from here onwards.

It is actually a Web 2.0 offering that I have been using already in the past, although perhaps not as heavily as you would have expected. But now that I am on the Mac I can see how I will get busier and busier with it from here onwards. If you have been off my ITtoolbox blog you actually know about it already, but just in case here you have a couple of weblog posts that detail some more the initial experiences I have had with this particular Web application:  Vyew 2.0 – Free Web Conferencing and Always-On Collaboration and Vyew 2.0 – Free Web Collaboration.

Yes, I am talking about Vyew, perhaps one of the most solid and competent e-meeting tools available out there at the moment, and, best of all, free of charge. In a world semi-dominated by Windows based virtual meetings applications, it has always been refreshing to actually find another offering that is not only browser independent, but also operating system independent. That is what Vyew is all about.

A couple of days ago I was actually attending a live demo with a lovely slide deck of some of the new functionalities from this particular offering, and at the time while we were going through them, I was actually making use of my Windows Lenovo 3000 N100 machine to attend the session. Making use of Flock, of course. While we were being explained why Vyew is one of those essential tools for any knowledge worker out there wanting to conduct effective virtual meetings, I decided to be brave and try out whether it would work in my Mac machine.

Well, it did! Yes, indeed, it worked beautifully! I was actually having two sessions, one from my Windows machine and the other from Mac, using Flock in both of them, and getting the most out of it. Performance was incredibly fast and reliable, despite the fact that there were a whole bunch of folks in it. We didn’t notice a single glitch and while I was making use of it on the Mac machine I noticed how I was getting an even much better experience. The Mac experience. I am sure those of you who are Mac users would understand what I mean. If not check out this quote from Jay Cross on something that I can certainly identify with him big time:

"[…] today the action has moved from the desktop to the web. web connectivity may flake out, but it’s not going to disappear forever as did my PC’s hard drive. relationships (the web) trump nodes (the desktop).

I plan to buy a mac to use as a terminal and to make the web my primary platform."

Yes, that is right. The Web user experience is way way different and if you give yourself a chance and try it out with Vyew, both on a Windows and on a Mac computer you would be able to see what I mean.

I was looking for an e-meeting tool that I could use in order to conduct ad-hoc e-meetings on the fly. Without hassle. Without hassle to install extra software. Just sharing a single URL address and off it goes. From your favourite browser! How cool is that?

Well, my search for an e-meeting tool, something that I use on a very regular basis, is now over. I have found my ideal productivity tool to conduct those virtual meetings effectively. Vyew is the word. Vyew is the application and if you haven’t tried out I strongly encourage you all to go through the set of features put together for the current version 2.5 and enjoy the ride. Because I am sure you would.

There are lots and lots of things I could say about Vyew and why I like it so much. Instead, I am just going to sum them up with a couple of words: Free, easy to use, instant access and works beautifully on the Mac. Need to say more?

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Vienna – The K.I.S.S. Approach to RSS / Atom Feed Reading for the Mac

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One of the things that I have been very conscious about this time around over the last few weeks, while I am putting things together to make my MacBook Pro my default work machine vs. the Windows notebook, is to actually apply the K.I.S.S. principle. Something that perhaps I should have done a long while ago, but that I didn’t. This time though I am learning my lessons and throughout the entire process I am keeping up with that minimalist flavour to get the most out of the Mac without having to clutter it right away.

And when I put myself to the test I knew that things were not going to be easy in certain areas. One of those being using a competent RSS / Atom feed reader client, one of the various essential tools that I couldn’t live without nowadays. On my Windows machine, and over the course of the last few years, I have probably tried out for a number of weeks / months several RSS / Atom feed clients. Most of the times running concurrently to test them out and see which one would make the winner.

For the last few months, this winner has been, still is, Omea Pro. To me, it is one of the best feed readers for offline reading available out there! No doubt! I would recommend it any time to anyone who may want to get things going. Still do. However, on the Mac things are different.

To start with, there is no Omea Pro for the Mac, so I had to dig in quite a bit and try out a number of different feed reader clients that I have been getting through recommendations, performing several searches or just by bumping into their Web sites and decided to try them, just in case. That is how I got to try out endo, NetNewsWire, Shrook, Google Reader, NewsFire, BlogBridge, etc. etc. The list goes on and on and on.

Overall, most of those readers do a pretty decent job. However, none of them cut it for me for one reason or another. Surprisingly for something so relatively simple as basic functionality. Perhaps at some point in time I will detail why each of those feed readers fails to meet my needs at the moment. And this is where Vienna comes into place, because after having played around with for a few days I can share with you all that it has now become my default RSS / Atom feed reader for the Mac.

You may be wondering why, right? Well, because apart from being freeware, which we all know is an attractive option for us all on its own, it also applies the K.I.S.S. principle very nicely: subscribe to the feed, get the subscriptions / articles, read them, flag those you want to keep and delete the others. Believe or not, this is where most of the other feed readers I have tried failed to come up front with what I would call some key basic functionality: delete what you don’t need and keep what you just need.

It may be pretty simple, but you would be amazed as to how many of those readers would not allow you to delete items you are not interested in. You would expect that the tools would allow you to keep things clean and tidy, but alas, it is not going to happen with most of them. On the other hand, Vienna does this job beautifully with just a single key stroke, which for filtering and quickly scanning through feeds is just … ideal!

So much so that I have been using it for the last week or so and it has become one of those tools I cannot live without in my Mac. Just brilliant, how can such a piece of simple software can get the job done without the hassle, the clutter, or complicated features that most of us are not going to make use of. Yes, I knew I was right when I decided to go minimalist on the Mac, and so far the software I have put together to be as productive as ever, if not more, has been working out like a charm. Vienna has got all you ever wanted to have in an RSS / Atom feed reader client and before you pay some $$$ for some piece of software I can certainly recommend you give it a try. I bet you will stop your search there. Just like I did. For good.

Vienna, simplicity at its best on the Mac!

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The Why and How of Establishing Your Web Persona by David Ing

In a time where more and more knowledge workers nowadays are starting to look after their online presence on the (social) Web, sometimes it is actually a bit difficult to get things going. Probably more than anything else because of the huge amount of resources to get started that are available out there. So with the intention of helping out in this particular area to those folks who may thinking about it, but who may not be quite sure where to go, here is a weblog post that I guess I should have shared over here a little while ago. I know. Better late than never.

I am sure that you are now expecting from me to put together a number of different tips on how to get things going, right? Well, not quite so. In the spirit of knowledge sharing and, specially, re-use, I am actually going to point you folks to a couple of weblog posts from one of my IBM fellow colleagues, David Ing (Co-author of Coevolving), who has been making use of those resources in order to get a bunch of other people online and in charge of their own online presence. And quite successfully.

Check out, for instance, "The Why and How of Establishing Your Web Persona" where David gets to put together a very thorough article sharing some really good tips on how you can manage your own online persona to match your needs, interests and whatever else. Here is a quick, brief outline of what you would be able to learn in there:

"A. Why would I want to take control of my Web persona?
B. The first two steps: A webmail address and a domain name search
C. A blog on WordPress.com is free, and it’s easy to move content elsewhere (If you decide so, later)
D. Offer e-mail subscriptions to your blog
E. Write content!
F. Move the content to your own hosted domain"

You would be able to see how David has included some really good explanations for each of the different entry points, but at the same time you will see how he has put together a pretty dense set of helpful links that would provide you with that additional edge of everything you would need to know about. Pretty impressive and incredibly helpful. (I have gone through it myself and I have found a few tips that I was not really aware of and which make just perfect sense). Totally recommended, to say the least.

But that is not all of it, because talking about the topic related to the creation and maintenance of your own blog on the Web, here is another superb blog entry that David has put together and which basically explains how you can go ahead and create / maintain your own blog in your own domain: "Installing and Customising WordPress on Your Own Domain".

To give you a little bit of an advance of what you can expect on that second blog post from David, here is the outline from the article itself:

"A. Some Web site steps leading up to installing WordPress
B. Install WordPress
C. Select and upload some themes
D. Activate a style, and set up the basic look
E. Set Options
F. Create a user persona as editor
G. Install plugins
H. Edit the Blogroll and "Hello World" post

Yes, I know, both of those articles are rather extensive and would need some digesting further, but, I tell you, if you are looking for an extensive user guide on how to get things going with your own online persona beyond the firewall and on to the Web, these David Ing’s blog posts are probably as good as it gets: rather fundamental and resourceful to help you make it successfully.

(A big massive thanks to David for putting together such insightful resources and, much more importantly, for sharing them with us all! Well done, David! Thanks!)

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Nokia N95 – “No Gateway Reply” – Here Is How I Fixed It!

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One of the different consequences that I suffered from last week, while I lost my Internent connection for several days, was the fact that when I got everything back to a normal status I could no longer connect my Nokia N95 to the Wi-Fi network. I tried everything I could think of and nothing. It wouldn’t connect. I talked to a whole bunch of folks and most of them advised me that it might have been a problem of incompatibility between the N95 and my new wireless router, so was kindly asked to check that out with my Internet provider

However, before spending some time doing that, I thought I would check things out through our good friend Google and see if folks were having the same problems as myself with that nasty error message: "No Gateway Reply". And lo and behold plenty of folks have been having similar issues to the ones I was experiencing. Very nice! Things were looking good!

Unfortunately, none of the solutions offered in the various forums, I tried them all, did the trick for me. A bit disappointing, seeing how many folks have encountered a similar problem in the past. Was starting to get a bit frustrated as well, thinking that I was not going to get the N95 to work again with the new router.

Then, all of a sudden, I remembered something that really did the trick for me. And, like usual, it was a rather simple solution. Yes, indeed, simple things work the best, don’t they? In this case it was a problem with the WEP key that I was using for my wireless router and which my N95 apparently accepted in the first place, but still didn’t allow me to connect to it.

That is right, to fix the "No Gateway Reply" error on the N95 I just needed to change the WEP encryption key from the 13 alphanumeric combination that the router came with by default to a string of 26 Hexadecimal (Hex) characters (0-9 and A-F). And voilá! Problem fixed! I can now browse again the Web with the N95 in the same protected environment I was having before the router crash. Way cool!

And, of course, since I couldn’t find this other solution to such error, I decided to blog about it, hoping that those folks who may be searching for this problem are able to find another solution to the problem, apart from the ones that other people have been suggesting all along.

Time now to continue experimenting with that fascinating world that Mobile 2.0 really is …

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ClickComments Now Available in elsua – Plus a Few Other Changes

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A couple of weeks back I was actually browsing through the Knowledge Management related bookmarks from del.icio.us and I bumped into a couple of them from different weblog posts that I have shared over here in the past, where next to the links themselves there was also a number of different comments indicating how heavy this weblog was to load up. That got me thinking and put me into the case of finding out what was actually causing the problem. And after investigating things a bit, I found out that most of the problems were caused by a number of the widgets I have been using for a few months now.

So instead of leaving those widgets hanging around as part of the template, I have gone ahead and removed most of them, at least, the ones that were creating the most problems when loading the page. If you are reading this weblog post from my syndicated feeds, you may not have noticed the change, but I have removed everything and just left ClustrMaps, my Twitter badge, MyBlogLog and my Flickr badge. The end result is that from now on, whenever you would try to load elsua.net it should load way way faster. At least, it loads twice or three times as fast as before, when the widgets were there.

But this weblog post is not just to let you all folks know about some of the different changes taking place over here. I would also want to share something else with you. Something that I have been enjoying myself in several other weblogs that I visit on a regular basis and which has helped improve the overall user experience of WordPress blogs. Yes, that is right. I am talking about one particular WordPress plugin that I have put together a few days ago already and which if you are reading this from a syndicated feed you may not have noticed just yet.

Check out ClickComments. A fine and very helpful plugin that is not only really simple to put together, but quite effective in what it tries to achieve: help weblog commenters share their thoughts on the stuff they read without not necessarily dropping a comment. On the contrary, just with a single click! Yes, that is right. A single click.

For a few days now, every time that I get to publish a weblog post over here you would be able to see a number of different icons underneath the weblog entry that you would be able to click on to rate the content of that particular weblog post in a number of different ways: cool stuff, inspired me, entertaining, write more, creative, insightful, touched my heart and great find! So not only would it be possible to make the overall experience a bit more enjoyable, but you would also be able to participate in the kind of content that I get to share over here. And all of that without leaving a comment, if you don’t want to, that is. You know that comments are more than welcome! Always. 🙂

Finally, I should probably mention how the good thing that I like about this particular WordPress plugin is not only how simple it is to set up, but also the fact that they have made use of YouTube to share a screencast of how it actually works. You can find the link for it over here, but for the sake of showing you how it works, so that you can start participating from it right away, here is the embedded version of the clip:

Very shortly, I will be sharing some further changes that I have made into the template and the actual content of the weblog, including some minor changes of the About page, which is just about to go through some major updates in the next few days, but that would be the subject for another weblog post.

Hope you get to enjoy ClickComments just as much as I do whenever I get to visit a number of WordPress blogs where I have seen it running already… Now, who said that blogging is boring, eh? 😉

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