Sunday, April 30, 2006

$10,000 is the magic number

I was reminded in a conversation with Geoff Katz yesterday about an old saw in the Web Development world.

Way back when, someone once wrote that, when you total up the true costs, a high-quality professional corporate web site costs $10k per page. It doesn't matter how you do it - it doesn't matter what kind of platform or technology you use... from Zero to the final, high-quality site will cost $10k per page.

Now... of course, as with all things that sound oversimplified, this is a serious generalization. But, none the less, there are a couple of things that I find very interesting about this statement.

First... the idea of "true cost." This is something that I think few people (client or service side) really understand. It's a hard thing to get your head around - but it's an important one.

To start thinking about "true cost" you need to understand all the actual costs that go into a site. So let's imagine that you need a 10 page corporate web site. Say it's a simple marketing site - pushing the message and the brand in order to create brand awareness, brand affinity and to create demand for the product. Say it also drives business leads to dealers for your product. Okay - so all of us in the web world can come up with some rough numbers on what we would bid to do the development. Now... you need to understand that that bid is not the "true cost" of the site. You need to add to that the cost of time spent by client employees - time spent defining the goals and the problem; time spent choosing a vendor; time spent managing that vendor; time spent managing internal stakeholders - the list goes on. Then we need to add to that the costs associated with the distraction that the development of the site causes. There will be opportunity costs associated with other initiatives and marketing goals that become de-prioritized. Then we have costs associated with hardware and software and additional third party vendors.

Okay... so we total that up. Now assume that the client has chosen a very, very skilled firm to do the development. Firms that are, in fact, good at this are also very expensive. In my experience, when we do the math on the above we will see that the $10k figure is pretty damn accurate.

Now... let's imagine that the client says "no way - that very skilled firm is 3 times the money of this other firm." And they take the low bid. At that point what we see is the internal costs to the client will increase - especially the opportunity costs. At the end of the project when we total it up we will see a number that is well below that $10k figure... but we will also see internal costs continuing to rise.... because the client is now working on fixing the sub-standard product. At this point they are likely either working with this cut-rate firm to re-do the site to get it to "high level, professional" status or they have gone back to square one and are doing new vendor selection.

In the end... the cost is the cost and is more often on the low end than on the high end.

Second Interesting thing... I can hear a bunch of you right now. "$10k per page!!! Are you crazy? I can buy a copy of Photoshop and a copy of Dreamweaver and have one of my IT people do the site! My daughter has her own web site! It's only a damn web site!!!"

Let's cut right to the chase.

There are web sites -- and then there are Web Sites. The two are not equal. Just because you signed up for some cheap hosting and used MS Publisher to create some bad HTML pages doesn't mean you have a Web Site.

What you get from the cheap end is what you pay for. If you look at the "true cost" model above you will see this. But more importantly - you need to think about what a web site really should be. It's not - at least not anymore - some bastard stepchild of marketing and IT. It's not a little weird thing in the corner. It is an integral part of your business. It is an integral part of your messaging. It is a key touchpoint for your brand.

Would you give your teenage son a DV cam and Final Cut Pro and have them do your TV ad campaigns? Would you let your exec asst handle your PR efforts? If you did - would the money you saved be worth it? Would you think that the results would have a positive effect on your business or a negative one?

If many businesses approached space planning the way that they approached web sites their staff would be sitting on milk crates in an unheated concrete room and sales people would meet with customers at the Greyhound Station.

Every touchpoint for your brand is critical. You need to own each one. There needs to be strategy and their needs to be synergy. One weak touchpoint damages all your efforts. As we used to say in the cooking world "the end product is only as good as the weakest ingredient."

This is why you pay $10k per page. Because without doing so the money you're spending on all your other efforts goes to waste.

Six key JavaScript techniques

These are six techniques I have found to be invaluable in my JavaScript/AJAX development. If you are using library like Prototype.js, these techniques will help you better understand what's going on behind the scenes. On the other hand, if you don't want to use one of the pre-baked JS libraries (for example because you are building a very lightweight page, and don't want to incur Prototype's 50K download), then these techniques provide a very lightweight toolkit to make your JS coding more efficient.

Each link below goes to a detailed description with code examples.

1. Optional function arguments
Parameterize your Javascript functions so that some of the arguments are optional, and have defaults if you don't specify a value.
2. Event broadcasting/listening
Make your classes more reusable by broadcasting events. You can bind multiple listeners in the main page to wire your objects together however you like.
3. Namespacing
Increase your code's reusability and maintainability by partitioning your functions and classes into namespaces. If you are programming in Java, you don't put all your classes in the same package, right?
4. Adding functionality to built-in classes
Everything in Javascript is extensible, including built-in types like strings and arrays. Add your own methods to make coding easier and more readable.
5. Object orientation
Utilize closures to create classes and methods with a simple syntax.
6. Try-catch blocks and logging
Use try-catch blocks in your JS coding -- and, more importantly, have something to put in the catch block when something unexpected happens. What do you do in Rails when you catch a runtime error? You write an error to the log. Program with the same robustness in JavaScript!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Yahoo Local and Online Yellow Pages

Yahoo announced Local Featured Listings today, a way for local businesses to advertise on Yahoo Local search results. This is not pay per click advertising, but rather first come, first serve service that allows local businesses to advertise on Yahoo Local for a flat monthly fee. This is the same pricing model used by offline yellow pages - small businesses are very comfortable paying a set monthly fee.

Local businesses that would like to have a permanent place in local search results can use Yahoo Local’s automated system for placing ads. There are just six total slots on each results page (three at top, three at bottom).

I’m confused as to the exact pricing. The blog announcement (linked to above) states that ads can be purchased for “a flat, monthly rate starting at $29.95/month, depending on the business category and location”, whereas the linked rate card states that pricing ranges from $15-$300 per month based on ad location, business category and geography. Either way, this compares very favorably to offline yellow page advertising options, and will be attractive to advertisers.

I thought there was a window of opportunity for a startup or open source project to enter this space before the big guys came in to dominate (see no 7 here). And while I still think there is an opportunity here (particularly for an open source project) for a true online yellow page business directory, that window may be closing fast with today’s announcement. For more on the offline yellow page angle, see John Battelle’s post earlier today.

Tags: , ,

Sneak Peak at ajaxOS!

ajaxOS is a fully functional AJAX-aware operating system. The most exciting feature in ajaxOS is the ability to store to a remote server, with full access to file navigation on this remote server as well as your computer's hard disk. As easily as you save and open documents on your local machine, you will be able to do so on our secure servers.

ajaxOS include:

  • Automatic launch of AJAX software when clicking on a supported filetype.
  • Ability to save files to virtual storage.
  • Ability to navigate through a file browser to the files uploaded to virtual storage as well those on your local computer.

The benefits:

  • Information Security - Your files and documents are safe since they are all saved on ajaxOS remote storage.
  • Web-based Software Applications Included - No need to buy expensive software – it's all included in ajaxOS.
  • Updated and Upgraded Automatically - Most ajaxOS applications are upgraded automatically.
  • Full file compatibility – Allowing you to easily transfer your existing files and share files created using AJAX software with others.

Must have RealPlayer installed.

ajaxOS will be available for download in the next few weeks, sign up to recieve early invite.

Other releases by ajaxLaunch: ajaxWrite, ajaxSketch, ajaxXLS
ajaxTunes I wrote about the service here.
eyespot I wrote about the service here.

Related Tags:

Friday, April 28, 2006

Five Things eBay Can Do

Five Things eBay Can Do

This week’s PodSession is about eBay shopping for partners. This is inspired by recent buzz about eBay looking to take on Google with new allies such as Microsoft and/or Yahoo.

EBay is voicing its concern with its checkbook and looking for new preferred advertising partners and cross-promotional opportunities. Should eBay be afraid of Google? How many management consultants did it take for eBay to wake up and realize its business direction? Is anyone safe from the growing power of Google over search and commerce?

Here are five things we suggest they do instead of mucking around with half-baked alliances.

1. Come up with eBay 2.0 and figure out a role for the company in the digital future.
2. Focus on core strengths. Buy Intuit (Quicken) to give eBay buyers and sellers accounting features.
3. Focus of the company should be Paypal and turning it into Citibank of online world. (Very Very Important.)
4. Figure out a way to get into shareware sales business. Perhaps acquire eSellerate. This is where Ebay can put its heft to good use.
5. Get into digital media sales. The recent Skype-EMI deal could be a good start.

This is just for starters. In the very near future, I am going to write a five-day series on eBay’s strategy and what they can do to grow even bigger. Funnily enough, Skype might be part of that strategy, though not as eBay might have thought. And the best part - all the advise is going to be free. McKinsey not required. I am sure one of you can even cook-up a nice PowerPoint presentation as well.

Anyway more here in week’s PodSession which is 20 minutes in length, a 9 MB download.

Goowy Launches Web Chat and Storage Products

San Diego-headquartered Goowy (a Mark Cuban investment) just publicly launched the enhanced IM and storage products that I tested last month. Goowy users now have Meebo-like IM funtionality built directly into their Goowy desktop, and 1 GB of free online storage via a partnership with

Goowy has also rolled out significant enhancements to their email client, including a three-pane view that looks and feels a lot like Outlook. Goowy is turning into an excellent desktop replacement - users can choose to use a Goowy email account or Pop in whatever email service they currently use (including Gmail). CEO Alex Bard tells me that over 100,000 people have logged in and used the Goowy email client in the last 90 days.

Everything is currently free…Goowy will layer in paid premium services down the road. You can also try Goowy without registering through their demo account.

Tags: Flash, techcrunch, web2.0, web_2.0

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Feedburner hack

Have you ever wonder how many subscribers a feed has? Well if it is a Feedburner feed wonder no more. Just throw the code below into any html page and replace the BlogName with the name of the feed. In some cases the results are pretty interesting

Example of hack below for Tech Crunch

<img src=";fg=44444" anim="0"" style="border: 0pt none ;" alt="" height="26" width="88" />

Tags: , ,

Google Maps in Europe

Google: We're excited to announce that we have just launched beta versions of Google Maps for France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. These sites include the full suite of interactive street maps, driving directions, and integrated local business search. This has been a global effort with Google teams in Paris, Hamburg, Milan, Madrid, New York, Mountain View, Kirkland, Sydney, London, Dublin, and Zurich working together for much of the past year to build a truly "local" product.

Accompanying this release, we have greatly improved high resolution imagery coverage for Europe in both Google Maps and Google Earth. Check out the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Olympiastadion in Berlin, and the Grand Canal in Venice.

To give you a preview of what's to come, we've also rendered street maps for many other countries in Europe. Developers, you can incorporate these maps and imagery into your own websites using the free Google Maps API Version 2.

Google: This is a test. This is only a test.

From time to time, we run live experiments on Google — tests visible to a relatively few people -- to discover better ways to search. We do this because there’s no good substitute for understanding how real people, in real-world situations, actually operate. Theories are fine, but “improving the user experience” really happens best when we understand what people do online.

So to learn more, we sometimes randomly select a group of people to see a possible improvement to search options. Or we may select a group of people and try out a new element while they're searching. If you ever wonder why your Google site looks slightly different from that of the person sitting next to you, this is why.

We are currently testing new ways to refine searches so that, for example, a search for jobs might offer a choice of job location or function, rather than forcing you to continually narrow the terms you type in to a standard Google search.

We’ve run another test to learn more about how people navigate to find the information most relevant to them: how you might find image search or information in Froogle, for example, when that might be just the thing you want. Here’s how that one looks.

And we test ways to enrich web results, such as by offering a "Remove Result" option that would omit particular results from future searches if you decide they’re not useful. You'll see this feature if you're already signed in to a Google service when you perform your web search.

There's no set schedule when we'll roll out these sorts of new ideas (if at all), but these tests help us to improve your search experience.

p.s.: Google is also active in CHI, the major organization on user experience and usability. We're participating in the annual conference this week in Montreal.

ThinkFree Online

ThinkFree Office Online

ThinkFree Online

discuss Discuss this now (3 posts)
While web-based office apps seem to be popping out of the woodwork almost daily—ajaxWrite, Writely, zoho, Num Sum—ThinkFree has been trying to take the productivity software market online since 1999. Today ThinkFree releases a major update to its suite, upgrading free online storage space from 30MB to 1GB and adding a new lightweight AJAX-based collaboration feature and the ability to apply folksonomy to a document through "tagging" (very Web 2.0). Another Web 2.0 feature of the suite is Mashup—when a web application incorporates functionality with other web services. In ThinkFree's case, the combination is with Flickr for inserting pictures into documents now, and later the company plans integrating Google and Yahoo for maps, and with for shared bookmarking.

ThinkFree uses both AJAX and Java. The company admits that AJAX is more portable in that it doesn't require a plug-in, but they contend that Java is needed to provide true Microsoft Office compatibility and functionality. Solutions like ajaxWrite can mimic an installed word processor interface with some success, but ThinkFree's take is that they don't want to limit users to one browser, as ajaxWrite does. And ThinkFree goes a lot farther than ajaxWrite in mimicking Microsoft Office functionality. Note that the office suite doesn't include a database app, so it's not really a complete replacement for Microsoft Office.

ThinkFree Online will be free; it's supported by banner ads, contextual ads based on what's in your document (similar to Google's Gmail ad strategy), and search ads. The company also hopes to lure users into upgrading to premium services like additional storage and ad-free operation.

ThinkFree Online's New Look

Webtop and Online Storage

When you first start using ThinkFree Office Online, the first page you'll see is the "Webtop." This is the page with buttons for the three office applications, recent files, your online document folders, messages, and information on your account, such as used disk space and "points." The page also offers buttons for uploading files to your gigabyte of free online storage, and for sharing, publishing, and deleting documents.

Even while writing this article, the advantage of having your document stored online is very evident. Since the article was written partly at home and partly at the office, having it live in one place, without the need to send it back and forth in email attachments, was a definite boon. And if you're mostly working with word-processing documents or spreadsheets, ThinkFree's free 1GB of online storage can go a long way. For presentations, the file size becomes more of an issue.

You can upload any kind of file you want in your disk space—even an .exe file. Recent files is a handy shortcut on the ThinkFree home page.

A company rep said they're still working on the details of the "points" program. Users will be able to exchange points for services, such as more storage space, template and clip art downloads, or even additional features in future releases. Users will also be able to gain points by being good citizens, publishing popular files to others, commenting, tagging, rating, inviting others to join. You get a thousand points for signing up, and 100 points for getting an acquaintance to sign up; you can also buy points in increments of one thousand per dollar.

You can add as many folders as you want, but there's no hierarchical nesting: All the folders are visible at the same level on the Webtop. It would be nice if each of the areas on this management page and your My Office page had some associated help links. Perhaps the folks at ThinkFree will add this as the product evolves.

You can start a new document in any of the three "power edit" tools—Write, Calc, or Show—or you can choose Quick Edit.

The ThinkFree Webtop
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The Quick edit button launches a popup prompting for a filename, then launches the Quick Editor. If you just click on the file, you'll get the third mode of display: Preview. This lets you see any of the three document types without any editing capability.

If you click on your user name, you get to your account settings:

The Setting page
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click on image for full view

Creating a New File
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Clicking on one of the office application buttons yields this dialog, allowing you to choose whether you want to use Quick Edit or Power Edit, which brings us to a discussion of the apps themselves.

ThinkFree Write

The first time you start any of the "power edit" tools, there's about a half-minute delay while the java code is downloaded to your system. After this initial delay, starting up the apps takes only a couple of seconds. The new version of ThinkFree gives you two ways to edit documents: With the AJAX-based Quick Edit tool, or through Power Edit, which opens the appropriate fuller-featured java-based application, Write, Show, or Calc.

Quick Edit lets you do quite a few things in word processing documents, such as drag-and-drop editing, inserting tables and pictures, and formatting text font, size, and color. There's even a separate Search and Replace—which already puts it ahead of ajaxWrite. You can also print and add symbols to a document in Quick Edit. But here too there's no help option—a definite usability drawback.

Quick Edit Word Processor
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We tried adding images in this tool, but they didn't appear until after we saved and reopened the document. Another time when trying to open one of our documents, we occasionally got this error:

File Sharing "Error"
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The full java word processor adds a menu bar and a far more Word-like interface:

ThinkFree Write
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When you look at the same file in Power Edit, you get the familiar squiggly red lines under words the spell checker doesn't recognize. You also get a ruler, and a help feature. But the help is pretty linear without searching for topics offered. You also get the ability to wrap text around pictures, and to export to PDF.

Unfortunately, when you click on the New Document icon, ThinkFree doesn't sprout up a new window and leave your current doc in place: You have to close the current document. You can get around this by going back to your Webtop and starting a new doc from there, but it would be nice if the button worked this way by default.

A word about cutting and pasting: There's no Paste Special command, and when you paste, for example, a formatted table from a web page into a Write doc, you lose any formatting, unlike in Word, where you have a choice to keep formatting or paste text only.

ThinkFree's autocorrect feature is welcome and quite complete, and shortcut keys like Ctrl-F, Ctrl-B, and Ctrl-I do just what they do in Word. Find and Replace, however, doesn't offer searching on formatting, for example finding any instance of text in italics.

Find and Replace
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You can insert fields (but no mail merge), text boxes, symbols, bookmarks, hyperlinks, and references, but not diagrams or objects as Word allows. There are some drawing tools at the bottom of the window for creating basic diagrams.

Formatting options are pretty robust, with styles like headings, bullets and numbering, multicolumn layouts, and dropcaps available. There's no Autoformat or Themes that Word has, but very few people probably use those anyway. Spell checking is there, but not grammar.

ThinkFree Calc

At the time of our testing, the AJAX-based Quick Edit versions of Calc and Show were not yet available. We'll be sure to update this article if we find any interesting variances in these tools from the Quick Edit version of Write.

Calc offers full Excel compatibility: We even checked that its columns go up to IV and rows down to 65,536 as Excels do. This support includes multi-tab spreadsheets and named areas. There are enough functions, accessible from a function toolbar, to satisfy all be the most deeply technical Excel users. Strangely, the Calc app offers a user dictionary, whereas Write doesn't.

In Calc, displayed graphs with no problem and offered most formatting and other chart options, but little things like making labels opaque or transparent missing.

ThinkFree Calc
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There's no Error Correction, but there aren't Excel's Goal Seek or Scenarios, and the Data menu of Excel, with all its database-like features such as Filtering and Pivot Tables, is completely absent. But again, these will only be missed by advanced users—not the vast majority of us who use Excel for general computation and charting.

Save As… lets you open from and save anywhere on your local disk as well as from your web storage space. As in the other ThinkFree apps, the Open dialog doesn't have the choice of recent documents, but of course you can see these on your Webtop. Browsing network drives just as fast as in Windows, if not sometimes faster.

Finally, you can save your spreadsheets as Scalable Vector Graphics and PDF, and even XML in addition to XLS.

ThinkFree Show

A side-by-side comparison of ThinkFree Show and Microsoft PowerPoint shows a remarkable similarity:

ThinkFree Show
click on image for full view

click on image for full view

In fact, the only major features missing from Show are the ability to insert movies and sounds into your presentations and to use a macro language. Show even offers a few nicely designed presentation templates, and a good choice of transitions and animations. There are some collaboration features that Microsoft takes advantage of its NetMeeting, and PowerPoint's Set Up Show dialog offers a lot more options than Show does. But all in all, we feel that most PowerPoint users won't miss much by switching to ThinkFree Show.

Collaboration, Sharing, and Revisions

You can share a document online with anyone through email by clicking on the Share button at the top of the edit window—they needn't join ThinkFree too. An even simpler way to make a ThinkFree creation available to anyone on the planet is the Publish feature. This lets you assign any file a URL that you can send to folks who might like to see your work. But these methods don't allow for collaborative editing. For that, everyone who is to participate needs to sign up for a ThinkFree account. But when you do send a file the simple way, if the user who gets the preview clicks one of the Edit buttons at the top of the window, he'll be sent to the main ThinkFree page where he can join.

click on image for full view

At present, ThinkFree can save multiple revisions of a document a team is working on, but you can't see revisions in a single document as you can in Microsoft Office with the color-coded text. A ThinkFree company rep stated that they were planning to add this capability. Comments are supported, which will be visible to other members of the team sharing a doc.

Adding Tags and Comments
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click on image for full view

There's also a basic messaging feature, but we think this is not a huge plus, as you'll already have the email of your collaborators, since they're required to use an email to sign up.

Part of ThinkFree's philosophy of making documents viewable on the web without the need for installed office applications is its iCdocs product. This basically lets any webmaster put code on his or her site that can display Office documents using JSP pages and APPLET tags so that users can view .doc, .xls, and .ppt files in their browser. So, if you wanted to put a PowerPoint presentation somewhere on your blog, iCdocs would allow you to do this. ThinkFree even has a dynamic page that automatically generates the code you need to put on your site to display the Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document. The document doesn't even have to be in a ThinkFree storage area, it can be on any FTP server, too. Continued...



ThinkFree plays well with some other web services, such as Flickr,, and several blogging services. We tried to get it to post to our LiveJournal, but that seemed to be the one major blogging API not supported. The company says that later versions of ThinkFree (which, remember, can be updated seamlessly at any time as a web-based service) will support LiveJournal.

Here's an example of how you can add a Flickr picture into your document:

Adding a Flickr Picture
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Choosing a Flickr Picture
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We were unable to test the integration with Google Maps or with at this time, but the company states these will be available soon, and we'll update this article to report any future findings.

Final Thoughts

ThinkFree's fairly full support of Microsoft Office file formats—and the fact that it's free—is great for anyone who needs to edit an Office document on the fly and to those who want to access docs from different locations without having to continually send updated email attachments. The collaboration features, especially the ability to share a file through email, will appeal to teams that need to co-edit documents and presentations.

We would wait a bit, however, before choosing ThinkFree as a company-standard business tool. ThinkFree Corp. needs to iron out some functionality and add an in-depth help feature with searching for topics. Another oddity of using this type of application is that occasionally you'll get a right-click menu for browser operations when you're not interested in, for example, going back one web page in your browsing history, but rather you just want some information about a button your mouse is over. Some, too, may hesitate to put their private documents on a web service.

Pointer Graphic for FingerlinksRead more software reviews in our Software and Development section.

Editing in ThinkFree is by no means as snappy as with an installed program, occasionally there's the need to interact with the server over the Internet, and that always presents the possibility of delays. And finally, there's no equivalent to Access in the suite.

But we applaud all of the office functionality, the gigabyte of free space, and the collaboration features ThinkFree is offering for free, and their iCdocs service should prove useful to some webmasters.

Product: ThinkFree Online

Company: ThinkFree Corp.

Price: Free.

Pros: Free; excellent Microsoft Office compatibility; includes most useful Office features; 1GB online storage; works with web services like Flickr and map sites; nice document sharing features.

Cons: Slower than installed office apps; no database app; occasional interface quirks; no in-document revision marking; point system unclear.

Summary: ThinkFree gives you a lot considering you don't need to pay anything for it: A gigabyte of storage, Microsoft Office-compatible editors, a way to share documents and to have access to and the ability to edit them from anywhere. It's not going to put Microsoft Office out of business, but if you don't need that Office's advanced features, this free webware can be a godsend.

Rating 7

Membership Centre

Apple owners can now use Windows
But will PC users shift to the Mac?
Apr. 27, 2006. 01:00 AM

One of the big stories in technology this year has been Apple's decision to move its Macintosh line of computers to Intel processors. This has been a big deal because for the longest time Apple was the one major vendor that used something different: the PowerPC chip. But things are changing, and Apple has already moved three of its lines of machines to the Intel processor. The iMac is simply a lovely desktop machine. This computer is built into either a 17-inch- or a 20-inch-wide display, so it's very sleek. The Mac Mini is Apple's line of tiny desktop machines, each about as tall and as wide as a large paperback. Finally, the MacBook Pro is the new line of high-end notebooks, with a bright 15.4-inch screen and a slot-loaded writable DVD drive that's only 2.5 cm thick — making it sleeker than most other notebooks.But what really sets the Mac apart is its unique software, which Apple has also moved to the Intel processor.All these machines come with the OS X 10.4 operating system and Apple's iLife 06 suite of applications, which includes iTunes for music, iMovie for editing videos, iPhoto, iDVD and the GarageBand music-making tool. And while no machine is perfectly secure, there have been far fewer attacks on the Mac than on Windows machines. (You should still be careful, though.)So it was interesting that Apple just came out with software that lets the new machines boot Windows XP. Called Boot Camp, this creates a "driver disk" with all the instructions that are specific to the machine, and then lets you install a full copy of Windows. You can choose which to boot. I've tried it with a lot of applications and it works well; it makes the Macs work just like Windows machines. Still, it adds a good deal of expense (you need to buy a full copy of Windows), and takes away what is one of Apple's core strengths — the integration of hardware and software. So my guess is most people who buy Macs will buy them for running Apple's software, and most people who want to run Windows will choose less expensive Windows machines.Looking at the specifics of the machines shows the strengths and weaknesses of the Macintosh platform. In general, all these machines look great — and each has a number of nice extra features. The iMac and the MacBook Pro both have built-in Web cameras just above the screen that let you connect easily to others with Apple's iChat software. Sure, you can do similar things on Windows machines, but most of the time the camera isn't as well integrated. All the machines have built-in support for 802.11 b/g (for wireless networks) and Bluetooth networks (for synchronizing a desktop and notebook, for instance). This is very rare in desktop PCs, and extremely welcome. It makes it easy to set it up in any location in your home if you have a wireless network. The iMac and Mac Mini both come with Front Row software and a remote, which is meant to compete with Windows Media Centre, letting you easily display a slide show, play music, videos or a DVD from a "10-foot interface." Front Row is prettier than Windows, and the remote has only a scroll button and a menu key, much like iPods, which makes it simple and elegant. And unlike most media centre PCs, the receiver is built in, so it doesn't stick out.On the other hand, sometimes the very things that make Macs so nice are also the things that drive you crazy. The Mac Mini is very small, but the external power supply is almost half the size of the unit itself. Setting up the wireless network isn't as obvious as it should be. Front Row looks pretty, but cannot be extended, and Apple doesn't offer TV recording, unlike many media centre PCs. Also, the iLife applications do have their limitations, and there aren't as many third-party choices if you want a little more power. Rosetta, the internal software for letting applications written for PowerPC Macs work on the Intel-based machines, is mostly invisible and surprisingly good. I was able to run Microsoft Office without any hitches. On the other hand, artists probably won't be happy with the current version of PhotoShop on the Intel-based machines, and Adobe is now saying an Intel-based version for Macs won't be out until 2007.But perhaps the biggest issue is price. Macs aren't cheap. The iMac starts at $1,499; the Mac Mini starts at $699 (and doesn't include a keyboard or mouse); and the MacBook Pro starts at $2,299. In almost every case, you could get a similarly equipped Windows machine for less money, or a lot more features for the same money. Apple's move to Intel hardware makes a lot of sense. The result is some nice-looking machines that are a lot faster than their predecessors. The move to allow Windows on the machine is an even bigger deal. In the long run, this may get more Windows users to try out Macs, and then slowly move over to OS X. Or it could mean Mac users will start installing Windows (to do things like play games) and eventually start doing more and more on Windows. So this is a high-risk, high-reward strategy for Apple. It could end up with a high-end hardware vendor selling Windows machines, or it could convince more people to run Mac. Either way, it's good to have more competition.

Beeplet - Need Reminders From Time to Time?

A little application that let you create reminders,
then get them in the Mail, SMS or IM (coming soon)
Also you can get the reminders as an RSS feed.

Beeplet is built in Ruby On Rails.

From Beeplet blog : We've planned a lot of features in the future, so stay tuned..