Flying into the Jolicloud

I have a netbook (ooh I know soooo last year) and have been very happy with Linux Mint on it but have recently returned to Jolicloud which now has an HTML5 based desktop, easy install of apps in a that increasingly familiar app store way and fast web browsing via Chromium though Firefox and Opera are also available to install.

For existing windows users there is a 15Mb download installer that installs within windows to give a dual boot netbook with automatic access to Windows side files when running Jolicloud.

There’s is also easy access to many popular on-line file storage services including dropbox.

I must admit I’m very impressed with version 1.0 of Jolicloud which yields a good hybrid of local apps and data and those in the cloud. Though aimed specifically at the netbook form factor this desktop would be great for re purposed computers in the community or as a fast booting second desktop option for any windows user.



Using Microsoft’s Web-Based Office on Mac and Linux

No word wrap for pictures, clip art of tables

Microsoft’s free web version of Office has finally been opened up to computing platforms other than windows. I’ve tried it on both Mac & Linux and it worked reasonably well though on linux there’s a frequent pester box to ‘improve’ the rendering of text by installing Microsoft Silverlight which of course you can’t do in Linux. I have no idea if Moonlight , the mono Silverlight project on linux ,would work but the performance didn’t seem bad enough to proceed down that particular potential road of disappointment.

I tried the web application on Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome and despite ‘the word on the street’ saying that the web office is optimised for Firefox and IE8 only I found no problems using Google Chrome. In fact I’d say it was less sluggish on Chrome than Firefox for me.

Curiously the ability to export your online document is hidden away in the the reading view hidden file exportwhich reveals you can export in any format as long as it’s Microsoft’s proprietary .docx format.

The most glaring omission for me is the complete inability to align or justify text around an embedded picture, clip art or table in Word. For me this is a serious flaw when comparing Microsoft’s web office offering against the more established alternatives such as Google Docs, Zoho Office,ThinkFree Office or Adobe’s Buzzword.

Maybe more features become enabled if you actually own a copy of the standalone Office application but presume that the Mac & Linux versions will remain forever crippled in some very key feature departments which slightly negates the whole idea of platform neutral web based applications available in the cloud.

Microsoft’s Office for web is free to users signed up to a account and is available to Facebook users too albeit still in beta form via

Google Docs Adds Vector Drawing Ability

Google Docs now has a modicom of vector drawing tools at its disposal.Google has had to wait for browser feature sets to catch up by supporting Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) within the browser though Internet Explorer (including the latest IE8) does still not support this.Where a browser has no SVG support Google will revert to using Vector Markup Language (VML) instead.

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I do enjoy getting inspired by the creative possibilities of technology as sometimes there are better ways to visualize a large ammount of information aside from writing it all down in an essay style.

Creating timelines is one such example where a life history, event timeline or cultural changes can be explored visually. Circavie allows us to create personal timelines of events with interactivity built in by allowing external linking and the embedding of photos and YouTube video.

Sadly I can’t embed any timelines I make on due to the restricted code policies here but it’s easy to embed on platforms that have a slightly more laissez faire attitude to html code use such as a self hosted site, blogger etc.

I’m slowly starting a couple of blogs elsewhere that will allow me to experiment with a few visual technologies and will be making their locations public very soon.

For now you can view a timeline I’m in the middle of here (and I’m open to suggestions as to who or what I’ve currently left out).

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