Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jing, The New Screenshots

I use screenshots & screengrabs a ton for work. If I see something I like, or want to change something on the site, I do a screenshot.

Most of the uber-cool (apparently) utilities are for the mac, sadly. Skitch and SnapWeb sound like great tools, but until Zecco gets me a Macbook instead of a Dell, I'm stuck with a PC. So I was happy when swissmiss pointed me to Konigi, who in turn pointed me to Jing.

For the basics, you can easily (one-click) get screengrabs of a section of a window, or an entire window. With the screengrab, you can mock up the image with arrows, text, boxes, or semi-transparent boxes so easily I wanted to cry - especially knowing how much time I've spent in paint. When you're done, save the image locally, or upload to Flickr (as I did) with one click.

What blew me away was the videos. It takes the same idea & ease-of-use as the screen grab, but lets you create video walkthroughs. Check this out below, or click here.

I won't say it's perfect, and the ability to resize videos is a must-have that I couldn't figure out. But for the most part, this really rocks!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Data Portability – The Internet As Movement

Attending this past week’s Web 2.0 Conference & Expo, I was struck by a number of concurrent themes. I touched on many of them at a high level in my company blog, ZeccoPulse, but wanted to delve into this one in a little bit more depth to help flush out my own thoughts. Matt Jones (Dopplr) and Tom Coates (Yahoo! Brickhouse, Fire Eagle), who seemed to be two of the stars of the conference, led a session called “Polite, Pertinent… and Pretty,” which talked about how to display people’s information to them – or, as they called it, “Instrumenting Your Life.”

What stuck out most was the idea of Web As Movement. As Matt and Tom envision the world, information flows to where you need it, just in time. This isn’t a new idea, but struck a chord with me once I saw the simplicity – and the integration – of Dopplr and Fire Eagle.

Fire Eagle does nothing other than store where you are at a given time – information it pulls from Dopplr, Loki, your GPS phone, or manually via their site or Twitter. There’s no personal history or social features (yet). But what it does with you information is provide a single place for other applications to see where you are – which could be fun and powerful, if you choose to be open.

So learning from these guys, it sounds like people are envisioning a world with single-purpose apps that fit in a much wider ecosystem with related apps. No one can control the whole thing, since they all interact with each other via open standards. There's no longer a need for a single company providing everything (Sorry, Google), or even a single platform/web OS to host all the world's apps (Sorry, Facebook). And that could be a great thing, allowing many people to participate and contribute, each playing a unique role in a happy utopia.

That’s all great - I like happy utopias and all - but I’m still left with two questions. How would any of these single-purpose apps make any money, even if they’re tremendously valuable? And when does this approach to the web get to be such a big, messy clusterf%$k of information and “standards” that one single company buys everything up, control it all, and improve it – like Apple did to PC’s?

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