Monthly Archives: October 2006

Ubuntu 6.10

Ubuntu 6.10 named Edgy Eft was releasd yesterday. It contains many new exciting features including a new startup routine called upstarted instead of init. It comes with GNOME 2.16, Firefox 2.0 and a host of other software. To read about the features in GNOME 2.16 go here.

Both sever and desktop versions have been released. A point to note is that this edition does not offer long term support. This version will be supported only for 18 months.

I did not get a copy of the OS yet. So could not try it out. Its going to be a while before I could do that.  I will write more on this once I get hold of a copy.

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And today…Firefox 2.0

It looks like there is again a browser war. If it was IE7 yesterday it is Mozilla Firefox today. Firefox 2.0 was release today and I got it installed. The first apparent change is a new theme. Looks like the Go button and the Search button were designed in line with Netscape.

What is new is listed here.

The new browser was a little faster. I did not test many AJAX applications. So I do not want to comment on that aspect. The most notable features as far as I am concerned are inline spell check and session management.

You can configure Firefox to open all the tabs that you had open the last time while closing the browser. This was long due and is one of the best things to come true. Most extensions did work but my theme did not. But that is not Mozilla’s fault.

Anti – Phishing is built in and that takes care of one of the security aspects. There is no substitute to common sense when it comes to staying secure online.

There is no multi-homepage concept yet. I wish that comes in soon. With all that it has been and what is coming up, I think Firefox will get more market share in the years to come.

Firefox 2.0

IE7 – A review

Microsoft today released IE 7. IE7 can be downloaded here. IE7 runs on genuine Win XP SP2 editions only. I should mention here that I did not beta test IE7 or did not try out the Release Candidates that have been coming out in the past few months. I decided to upgrade and felt quite good after it.

Usability – IE7 was pretty easy to use. I would not say that it has been greatly improved. The menu bar appears only if you decide to enable it or press the “Alt” key. The Address Bar stays at the top of the window. The toolbar has been redesigned. The back and forward buttons are now a part of the address bar.

The standard toolbar has been redesigned. It contains the “Tools” menu and the “Page” menu along with homepage button and a RSS feed button.

IE7 comes with integrated search. Live Search is the default. You can add more search engines to the browser as well as make whatever you like as the default.

Tabs – IE7 is perhaps the last browser on earth to ship with tabbed browsing feature. A few minor irritants there. You cannot close the last active tab. I did not find a way to remove the new tab button. May be it is buried deep into the Tools > Options dialog.

Feeds – IE7 supports RSS feeds. The feeds button lights up if the page you are currently viewing has feeds enabled and you can subscribe to the feeds you wish. All Feeds can be found under the Feeds section of the Favorites Center which is another new entrant. This can be compared to the side bar in previous versions or panels in Opera.

Minus Points – No mouse gestures. No integrated mail client. Download is about 14.8 MB. Opera comes at 6 MB. Firefox is around 5 MB. So IE7 is pretty big. No voice commands (as far as I know)

Plus Points – Anti phishing is built in. Can check sites while its loading. Can view all open tabs in a slide view and jump to that tab. Can set more than one page as home page and each will load in a tab. Page rendering is faster than previous versions, though not dramatic.

As always, a few screen shots

IE Tab Layout Tools Tabs RSS Feeds

Holidays

Festival holidays and a lot of work means I would not be able to spend time writing here. In a few hours I would be hitting the road. I have to squeeze time to keep this blog going. Let me try.

Wish everyone a happy Diwali. Let the festival of lights bring cheer and joy to everyone.

Tech support for free online office apps

Over the last week, I had been trying out various web based office applications like Zoho, EditGrid and Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Whatever I had written about them had got some visibility and some tech support

So, how was the tech support? Very Good indeed! Both the Zoho and EditGrid teams help me solve my problems in almost a day. That is quite fantastic becuase I spend about an hour a day on these applications. It might be too long for others, but still I feel this level of support for a free app is really good. Thanks to both Zoho and EditGrid teams

Ok. Here is the problem and the solution offered, just in case any of you out there are facing it.

Zoho – I did not receive the confirmation email. I had to verify my email address. Else, my account would be cancelled within 5 days. The Zoho team, confirmed my account on my behalf.

EditGrid – Spreadsheets did not load when I used Firefox. I had a few extensions installed. The problem was that I had “Show XMLHttpRequests” enabled option in my Firebug extension. Once I disabled it, EditGrid worked like a charm.

EditGrid – another online spreadsheet

Continuing with my reviews on online office apps, this time its EditGrid. First things first. EditGrid is a free online spreadsheet application based on AJAX competing with Zoho Sheet and Google Docs & Spreadsheets. EditGrid worked only on IE and not on Firefox (atleast for me). EditGrid resembled a standard desktop app complete with a menu bar and toolbar.

The application is easy to use and provides standard formatting options, sort, and a slew of formulae. Rows and Columns can be inserted and removed in a single click. Charts of various formats can be created. Similar to other online applications spreadsheets can be exported to a variety of formats including HTML, PDF, OpenDocument, Excel, CSV and additional formats like TeX, Gnumeric (the GNOME spreadsheet format) and XML. Files can be imported as well and posted to blogs.

Spreadsheets can be shared with others by making them public. Public spreadsheets can be either read only or read and write. Spreadsheets can be tagged and notes can be added to each sheet. Documents are managed at the “My Workspace” tab which provides options to manage spreadsheets that have been created, imported, tagged, trash and a special feature called Add-Ons.

What stands out in EditGrid is the ability to insert remote data such as stock quotes, currency conversion rates etc. in real time. Another feature not present in other apps is templates. There are templates for tasks ranging from contact management to birthday management. Add-Ons are additions that help you distribute, locate, translate your spreadsheet. There is a nice properties sheet which allows you to post your spreadsheet to del.icio.us, email to a friend, gives you a permalink to the spreadsheet, document history etc.

The Grid2Calendar Add-On helps you create an iCal for your spreadsheets. Other Add-Ons like Grid Translate, EditGrid Sync, Grid2Map, Search2Grid are provided. It would have been helpful if a short description for each of these Add-Ons had been provided. I had to try each one out before understanding what it did.

On the whole, it is a versatile app with a lot of features such as real time data update, additional export options, Add-Ons. The only disappointment was it did not work on Firefox.

Here is a screenshot of EditGrid

EditGrid

Zoho Sheet vs Google Spreadsheet

After Zoho Writer, it was time to get on and try Zoho Sheet. Instead of just writing about what it is, this time, I decided I will compare it with a similar product; Google Spreadsheet though it is not a separate entity anymore. It is now available from Google Docs & Spreadsheets

As I was researching on this, I came across this fact-sheet. This could be pretty old. But I will not be so specific about the details on what I list here. I tested both applications on Firefox 1.5.0.7

Rows and Columns

Zoho Sheet

I did not come across anything that stated the max rows and cols. But this is how far I went
Max Rows – 150. You can keep inserting rows.
Max Cols – AZ. For average use I think this is more than sufficient.

Google Spreadheet

Max Rows – 100. Insert after that
Max Cols – T. Insert after that

Usability

Zoho Sheet

Very easy to use. The user interface resembles a desktop spreadsheet. Standard tasks like align, sort, changing font, accomplished with single click

Google Spreadheet

Easy to use. Some standard tasks like sort need more than a click as these functions are placed in a separate tab.

Features

There are a lot of features on both these applications. But I have listed the ones that set them apart.

Zoho Sheet

  • Starts with three default sheets. Sheets can be renamed.
  • Has a fill series option which Google Spreadsheet does not have.
  • You can create charts with Zoho which is not available in Google Spreadsheet. The charts get updated as you update values in the cells. Charts can be made public and shared with others.
  • Comments can be inserted on cells
  • Looks like there is a problem in un-merging merged cells.

Google Spreadsheet

  • Starts with one sheet. More sheets can be added.Sheets can be renamed.
  • Google Spreadsheet has a Formula tab which makes it very very simple to apply sum, average and a host of other Math, Financial, Logical, Date, Statistical formulae

Finally…

Both apps can export the online document to CSV, HTML, PDF, Excel and OpenDocument and allow you share, publish your spreadsheets. The Look and Feel of Zoho is better compared to Google SpreadSheet. You can upload Excel spreadsheets to both applications.

If you need a bare minimum spreadsheet to calculate a few things, you can use the Google Spreadsheet. If you need something more, then I suggest you try out the Zoho Sheet.

We all love screenshots, don’t we? Here is one screenshot from each of the applications

Zoho Sheet Zoho Sheet

Google Spreadsheet Google Spreadsheet


Disclaimer: This is just my opinion on what I had observed from these two applications after using them for a while for my own purpose. I might be wrong in mentioning something and features could have been added/removed by the time I write this. I cannot be held responsible for anything you do after reading this post. Always check with the application websites for details before using the application. Above all, I neither work for Google nor for Zoho.