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

Knowledge Snippets

Goowy Media – Power to Your Desktop ?

As you may have been able to read here in my weblog, I have been using Yahoo! Widget Engine (a.k.a. Yahoo! Konfabulator) for some time now and having upgraded I just couldn’t help but to weblog about it as I have been enjoying the upgrade ever since it first came out. However, a colleague from work pointed me to a weblog post over at Scobleizer where he mentioned a couple of days ago Goowy, a relatively new desktop application that works with widgets as well, amongst other things.

And, of course, I had to try it out and see how it would be matching the expectations that I have placed already for Yahoo! Widget Engine. But not without checking out first Scobleizer’s weblog post where there are some interesting comments about people’s experiences. And so far they don’t seem to be very positive. Mine either.

After having installed Goowy and played around with it during the last couple of days, it has got some interesting options like access to other different offerings like del.icio.us, Flickr, IceRocket, Technorati, weather forecast, quotes, games, etc. etc. but it still doesn’t cut it for me, as far as I can see. Apparently, the RSS newsfeeds seem to get stuck themselves on the top left of the desktop and it will not allow you to drag them anywhere unless you close them down. That seems to be consistent every time I start the application and so far I haven’t found a way to get rid of that issue. Still looking …

Also it looks like Goowy seems to be a US only application because the weather forecast does not seem to be working for locations out of the US. I just cannot understand why applications are provided for a worldwide audience and then they are restricted to provide US only information. Like the rest of the world does not exist. I know that this seems to have happened to Google in the past, but I was not expecting that from, supposingly a Web 2.0 application. Hopefully, that will be addressed at some point, like the folks at Google have done already, at least, for some of the applications.

However, the main issue that I seem to have been experiencing with Goowy is actually its performance. Starting it up seems to be taking some time despite the fact it is based in Flash but the main problem is when trying to update some of those widgets. Like, for instance, the Stocks one, where it would take me several minutes to enter the different symbols I would want to follow up on. And at that point it is where I have decided it is time to wait for an updated version and see if those performance issues would be addressed soon enough, because I doubt I would be able to wait minutes in order to have different widgets updated, whereas with Yahoo! Widget Engine things have been running smooth and haven’t noticed any performance issues, not even a single crash, like it has happened with Goowy a couple of times.

So, in short, a good attempt towards providing some really good functionality to get so much more from your desktop but then again may be not ready just yet for prime time. I will have to wait for a little while and see if they would be addressed and fixed in upcoming versions. Time will tell.

Technorati Tags : Goowy, Konfabulator, Yahoo!+Widget+Engine

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Upgrade Your Widgets Today !

Just as Yahoo! seems to get hungrier making a number of different acquisitions while entering the Web 2.0 collaborative world in full force (See recent acquisitions of Flickr and del.icio.us; and watch out because I doubt that would be the last major acquisition from Yahoo! for other social networking offerings (If not check the recent announcement on how Yahoo Builds Blogging into Small Business to get an idea of how things may eventually turn out to be)), I have been playing myself around with upgrading to the latest version of Yahoo! Konfabulator and some of the latest widgets available over at the Widget Gallery.

Yes, for those folks interested, Yahoo! has just released the latest version of Yahoo! Konfabulator and it surely looks much much better than the previous version. I must say that at the beginning I was not sure 100% if I would go ahead and do the upgrade but after checking out the new widgets I just couldn’t resist the temptation and it surely makes sense to go for it, if you are a regular user from previous versions. And if you haven’t used it yet, I strongly advise you give it a try as I am sure it will change your opinion about how your traditional desktop should look like and how some sources of information may be delivered out to you.

Thus if you haven’t upgraded yet, I would recommend you take a look because you are bound to find some really cool widgets out there that would help you become much more productive in getting access to the right information that you can then share it with others in whatever the collaborative environment you may be working in, at the same time that you are getting so much more from your desktop. And since I guess you will probably be wondering what Widgets I am using in my computers here you have got a screen shot of my current list:

I know it is not a complete list but those are, so far, my favourite widgets. I am sure you have got your own, which may not necessarily be the same and that is why I would love to hear from you folks which ones are your favourites. Which ones do you think I should try out to continue enjoying further the Konfabulator experience ? Any suggestions ?

Technorati Tags : Konfabulator, Yahoo! Widget Engine, Widgets

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Pandora – Discover Music

Some time ago a good friend of mine mentioned to me, while we were talking around online music, to check out a relatively new offering out there on the Internet called Pandora. I am sure that by now most of you would have heard about it or read some more around this same topic. He did mention back then (a few weeks back) that I would certainly enjoy such offering as it allows you to build up on your musical taste by being able to find other pieces of music related to the same one(s) you have already listened to. And he was right. I really loved the experience !

If you are ever looking for an online service that would allow you to play the music you want at your own leisure and with instant feedback about the different tracks that are played then Pandora is your choice. Besides that, not only has it got a very appealing design but you would also be amazed at the ease of use and how quickly you can build up on a lovely set of tracks to keep on playing back and forth.

However, what most people may not be familiar with though is the fact that there are some tricks out there that would allow you to actually save those tracks in an .mp3 format which you can then upload to your favourite .mp3 player. Check out, for instance, Pandora Streaming Radio Caches to Your HDD. In that particular article you will see how it is describe how you can grab those .mp3 files and then upload them into your .mp3 player. And although it describes there how you can grab those files from both IE or FireFox I thought I would let you know the trick to get them from Opera while you are still playing the tunes.

In principle you would need to go to this particular folder location: C:\Documents and Settings\[Windows User Name]\Application Data\(Opera)\Opera\profile\cache4 and from there sort the folder by size as in most cases those audio files would take some more disk space. Once you have done that you will find out that you will have a file name following this name convention: opr0D5QY.tmp, as an example. From there onwards just rename the .tmp file to .mp3 (And whatever filename you would want to give it) and you are ready to play that file with your favourite .mp3 player or upload it whatever the audio device.

Pretty nice trick, indeed, and as I have mentioned before, a very handy one in order to help Pandora build up your music collection with your taste in whatever the tunes and then have the opportunity to save all that searching and listening to your .mp3 player for later enjoyment.

Kudos to the Pandora development team for such an outstanding service and thanks a bunch to Wilson for sharing this great tip with us and for letting us enjoy the Pandora ever so much more !

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Special: Lifehacker’s Guide to Weblog Comments

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

You have got to love this. I am not sure if you have subscribed already to LifeHacker’s weblog or not, but if you haven’t, you do not know what you are missing. In another fantastic weblog post, Gina Trapani just details her Lifehacker’s Guide to Weblog Comments and I must say that although I have got a tendency to follow most of the tips she shares above at her weblog from quite some time now, I still have got that to do for my external weblog as I have not been able to engage very heavily yet with those weblogs I am interested in.

It may well be because I might be finding it somewhat difficult to bump into, appealing enough to me, weblogs around the topics I am passionate about. Anyway, I am sure that I will eventually find my way and my set of weblogs to participate in. So, if you are looking for an impressive set of guidelines on how you can engage with the weblogs you tend to follow on a regular basis Gina’s weblog post is a must read. As an excerpt, I am just going to list the different items she mentions extensively and then I would like to refer you back to her weblog post because she just puts it in much more effective words than what I could do myself trying to reinvent the wheel. Thus no need for that. Here you go with them:

  • Stay on topic
  • Contribute new information to the discussion
  • Do not comment for the sake of commenting.
  • Know when to comment and when to e-mail.
  • Remember that nobody likes a know-it-all
  • Make the tone of your message clear
  • Own your comment
  • Be succinct
  • Cite your sources with links or inline quoting
  • Be courteous
  • Do not post when you are angry, upset, drunk or emotional
  • Do not feed or tease the trolls
  • Yes, indeed, a gem of a weblog post, right ? From the set of weblog comment guidelines, and I highly recommend you have a look into the full thread for some interesting reading, I have always tried to preach and lead the way in a number of those: staying on topic, contributing new information to the discussion and owing your comment along with citing your sources with links or online quoting, amongst others. Those, to me, would be the ones that would certainly get you off to a good start, but if you can go and apply all the others all the better. Either way, a BIG THANKS ! to Gina for sharing this great weblog post. Now it is time to engage with the Blogosphere out there !

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    iTunes Upgrade Has Users Griping

    (Migrated weblog post from LSR)

    A couple of days ago there was one article in CNET that really grabbed my attention as it was covering one of the applications I have been using quite often ever since I received my iPod. The article in question is titled iTunes upgrade has users griping and it comes to share some interesting views from end-users who have upgraded their iTunes to the latest version, iTunes 5. I must say that I got to read the article myself because I, too, upgraded to the latest version and although so far I haven’t encountered any of the problems described in it I still wasn’t 100% content with the upgrade. And I will explain why,

    While I was going through the article I was hoping that someone would mention the main issue I have been experiencing since the upgrade; and that is the language iTunes uses after installation. Apparently with this new version it is supposed to pick up the language settings specified under Regional and Language Options, for XP, that is. So what happens when you do not want to use that language? Easy answer … You are in trouble.

    I have got two different laptops, one whose language is Dutch and the other Spanish, yet I always want my iTunes to run in English, so I ended up having a look and see if there would be any option to be tweaked and bring me back to where I was before. No, there isn’t. Call it lazy design and development, call it no, we didn’t want to add the menu option since it is not necessary, call it we don’t want to give people such kind of functionality, whatever, the thing is that iTunes does not have any menu option to tweak the language settings.

    And looking around on the Web it looks like I was not the only one that was complaining about this same problem, but nobody has offered so far to improve that user experience, which I must say I find it a bit irritating. I want to have control over my applications and not let it up to the operating system to regulate that. Yet, the change was done and nobody noticed till it was a bit too late. Luckily, smart end-users are always there for the rescue and they have figured out how to fix this issue, and although it may be a bypass or a workaround, it certainly fixes the problem and puts you back in business.

    The actual workaround can be found by clicking on this URL and I thought I would share it over here so that other folks who may not like this new feature would be able to fix it in no time as opposed to have to spend several hours searching for it, like it happened to me. So here it goes. In order to fix this you will need to go to the X:\Program Files\iTunes\iTunes.Resources directory and then rename / remove the specific language files / folders. In my case I renamed my nl.proj folder to NoThanksnl.proj. Obviously iTunes needs to be closed during this process, but after doing that, and restarting it up it will come back with the default English language and you are back in business. At least, I was.

    I am not sure what is going to happen with the next upgrade, that was announced, that would fix some other issues, but I do seriously hope that in that upgrade they give me back the control over the application(s) I run and do not let them depend on the operating system itself as that is not the best user experience you can think of. End-users should always be in control, not the other way around. Let’s see what happens then with the next release.

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    Simple Single Sign-on

    (Migrated weblog post from LSR)

    How many times have you had to type the same password all over the place to access whatever the application you would need to access? How many different passwords you have got for all those web sites or applications that you visit / use once or twice and by the third time you have already forgotten about it. A few times, right ? Yes, me, too. Well, there may be a quick, easy and effective solution to it and something that you would wonder how something so powerful yet could be made available in such a simple way.

    Check out the screencast that Jon Udell created a couple of months ago that describes a superb way to keep your passwords in a central place and without having to worry too much, except for that one master password: Simple single sign-on.

    Pretty neat, eh? Yes, that is also what I said. Password Generator was created by Nic Wolff and as I said there is no other solution easier than this to handle your passwords. There is even a Bookmarklet for it, which is what I am currently using at the moment (And quite happy with it, I must say), and for all the FireFox users out there are a couple of GreaseMonkey scripts available: Pwd Composer and Password Composer.

    So if you are looking for a way to solve that ongoing problem of handling your several dozens of passwords do not look any further. Just use Password Generator after watching Jon Udell’s screencast on the subject. And you will realise how much time you have been wasting having to go through that tedious process of handling your passwords.

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