iWork iCloud Under The Radar Still?


iWork to iCloudApple’s iWork in the cloud still seems a bit under the radar despite recent announcements. Tried it recently on a Ubuntu compy. Screams at me for using Firefox (Chrome preferred it says) but otherwise fun to use.




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Trap.it is a site presently in closed beta that attempts to give a highly visual dimension to news discovery. A simple search gives a scrollable page of relevant links which can be collected in ‘Traps’ and then shared.

The idea is that successive searches together with the ability to thumbs up or thumbs down the results that are served up will help the system learn you preferences.

An open beta will be available in the future. For now you can submit your email and hope for an invite. Whether Trap!t becomes a standalone service or a technology that gets purchased by an existing content provider it’s a welcome alternative to existing content discovery alternatives.

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 live.com account and is available to Facebook users too albeit still in beta form via Docs.com.

BBC Launches Democracy Live

democracylive2aThe BBC has launched a new web site dedicated to live and on demand coverage of the UK’s national political institutions and the European parliament. Interesting to launch at a time when our faith in political institutions is being sorely tested. Who knows maybe such sites are a flag stone on the road to a greater interaction between voters and the institutions that claim to act on their behalf.

BBC Democracy Live

OAuth Availablity Grows

oauthTwitter can now manage 3rd party application access using OAuth

It’s been a while coming but there are a handful of applications out there using the OAuth protocol which allows secure authorization between web applications and services that use an API and allows those authorisations to be easily revoked if need be. This makes a lot of sense for social networking services such as Twitter where third party services have previously required you to enter your preious user-name and password in order to use their services and you had to hope and pray that these complimentary services were not just out to farm your account login details or at a future point might abuse these previously simple authorisation details. With Twitter which has introduced OAuth as an option for authentication a new connections tab now shows who you have authorised via the protocol.

I’m very careful who I hand out my Twitter login details to so OAuth adds a much needed layer of user centric security.
Hopefully OAuth will continue to grow as a  means of secure on-line API authentication.

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Web Snob

You know that awful thing they say: “What’s so good about Sainsburys? It keeps the scum out of Waitrose”.

It’s that awful British snobbery.

In the same way, if someone’s email address is hotmail or AOL, you kind of think “Hmmn, I see, they’re not a real player, are they?”

I mean please don’t be offended if you’re thinking “How dare you – it’s a perfectly respectable address”, of course it’s a respectable address.

It’s ridiculous and, like all class things, absurd, but the web has it.

Stephen Fry highlighting how  snobbery continues onto the web (hotmail addresses-grits teeth.Must fight own inner prejudice. Smacked wrists all round).

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Netbook On The Starting Block


With Asus promising a £130 netbook sometime in 2009 the low cost netbook niche is joined by Maplin’s offering which receives a temporary price cut down to just below £140.

This gives you a 7 inch screened netbook with a debian sourced linux pre-installed on a 2GB nand flash inbuilt memory. Expansion via USB and SD cards is possible.


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