Saturday, March 08, 2008

OpenID: an antidote to multiple online identities

How many different web services/ sites do you use regularly?

Lets start with the popular ones - Gmail, Yahoo, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Orkut, ebay, Amazon, Blogger, livejournal, Wordpress plus tons of other "one time signups".
How many times have you had to click that 'Forgot password?' link while logging onto your favourite site? As the web expands and more and more popular apps are being created each day, it is becoming difficult to manage multiple online identities. This is where OpenID steps in.

OpenID eliminates the need of multiple usernames and passwords across different websites, thus simplifying your online experience. You have to choose an 'OpenID Provider' from among a fairly large list that also includes Verisign among others. You get to choose a unique username and password that will enable logging on to ALL OpenID supported sites(about ten thousand in number and growing....). If you have an account at any of yahoo/wordpress/technorati/livejournal etc., you can use that username and password as your OpenID login. Now any site which supports OpenID will have an option of logging in via this username. Its simple yet powerful. You can also turn your own personal weblog into your openID.

OpenID is as secure as any of the other authentication channels available. For a detailed insight into security and other issues, do check out their forum and wiki.

The success of the OpenID project started by Brad Fitzpatrick depends to a great extent on how widely it is adopted by the major internet players like Yahoo, Google, Microsoft as well as emerging popular social applications. The end user benefit will only be obvious when it achieves a 'standards' status, which is still far away. Nevertheless, if you are an internet addict, this should (hopefully) convince you to make the switch.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Keep track of your time

A computer opens up so many possibilities, that it's easy to lose track of time. Proves to be especially expensive for students and freelancers.

RescueTime is a desktop activities tracking application. It tracks and times all your activities including internet activities. Using the data it collected it can makes graphs and help you analyze how you spend your time.
It doesn't track activities of windows minimized or running in the background, but only ones focused on. You can tag your similar applications to track your work, amount of time spent on reading, movies, etc. You can also rate the productivities of the applications important to you ranging from -2 to +2.

You can also set targets to be reached, like ' Spend less than 1 hour every day on news'. The dampener is, when you do not comply with your target the warning comes as an email or rss alert. Wouldn't work with me, because I'm not really checking my email frantically. A better alert system would have been better, especially when they have a desktop application.

But nevertheless a really good application. If you are looking for something to track your browsing activites only, you could look at 8aweek's browser addon. it's good for setting browsing targets, because it has a popup, which immediately disables viewing the site.

If you are aware of similar products, add a comment.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Flock- a social web browser

Flock is a web browser that has integrated many of the popular social networking tools into it. It is firefox with added features like facebook, blogger, and in all 15 other social networking tools.

Blogging: It has a blogging tool which has amazing functionality when compared to the other blogging tools which are available on the net. There is no extra setup required. One is required to log on to their (blogger,wordpress,xanga,blogsome, livejournal,typepad or any other self-hosted blog) account and you can compose a blog entry through the browser. It has all the features like inserting an image, editing an old blog post and saving drafts and all the other features that any normal blog editor would have. What sets it apart is ease of usage and the functionality of the editor itself.

Mailing: Flock has only Gmail and Yahoo! mail integrated into it. It automatically checks the mail client for unread messages. To read or compose message it takes you to the concerned page on the mail client. One can have more than one mail account integrated.

Bookmarking: Flock has a built-in bookmarking tool. Other than that it also provides and magnolia integration which allows one to bookmark any site online.
Other features:

  • Flock also has integration with flickr with which not only can one upload snaps directly but also can view the activity of their friends. One can also see their own albums and messages in the media bar.
  • Flock enables integration with facebook and it comes with many functionalities of facebook.One can directly upload images and links into their profile directly from the side bar. One could message, poke, share media and links besides others. Facebook fanatics are sure to love this.
  • One could also keep up to date with the twitter tool which is available in the browser. I am not much of a twitter user, but from what i gather it doesn't upload as fast as the other extensions (as Twitterrific) but does a decently good job.
  • It has an in built feed reader which does a decent job of retrieving the feeds and storing them locally. Any website which has a feed can easily be added to the feed reader with the feed icon which is placed near the left top corner of the browser.

People who are addicted to the whole social networking sphere would love flock with all the in built features. Even without all the tools, it looks better and is more stable than the firefox. All the drag and drop photo feature, blog editor and facebook tool are sure to win a few fans for flock. But with more and more websites flooding the social networking space it would be interesting to watch how flock will try to keep up its services. For now its a cooler and more 'social' browser that is creating a niche for itself in the otherwise flooded web browser space.

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