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Spicebird; Spice up Thunderbird and Sunbird 4 December, 2008

Posted by aronzak in web.
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Spicebird is a new tool that brings together mail, calendaring, IM and rss, borrowing design ideas from iGoogle. It uses a five tab interfae, combining Thunderbird and Sunbird along with its own elements. It’s a very cool idea, and could save you a lot of time, by using just one application.


You can easily add a second clock for a non-local timezone. The company developing sunbird is Indian, which may account for their default choice of timezones. Usually, people run their clocks according to the three major stock markets: London, Tokyo and New York. By default, there is an option of Berlin, Los Angeles or Calkutta. Slightly strange not to include London there. Colonial hangover?

I found a variety of minor design issues in the current beta.

The first thing I see in spicebird is the home tab, which by default is blank. This looks wrong. There should be a clock on it, as a reasonable default.

The next thing that gets me is that there is no way to move the contacts tab. The calendar tab is far more frequently used. The contacts tab can be turned off, as with an IM bar at the bottom of the screen, which I didn’t use.

Most of my other qualms are very minor differences in what I would like for design.One of the more obvious ones, as apparent in the picture, is that the name of the calendar is written on the top of the calendar events. The korganiser default is std.ics, an abbreviation of ‘standard’ but also ‘sexually transmitted disease’. This is customisable.

Do they paint doves in their torture chambers? 8 August, 2008

Posted by aronzak in Windows.
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I don’t want to be too political, but a dove in the Peking opening ceremony? They are using a symbol of peace and love, and even has religious significance (the Holy Spirit). Are we all just going to say “that’s nice” and pretend that Tank man and the massacre never happened?

Tank Man

Tank Man

On a technology related note, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are all helping provide the software that the regime needs to filter the internet (the great firewall of China) and find those that seek Democratic change in the country. Don’t even think about touching Red Flag linux (put out by the communist government), you don’t know what it’ll do to your computer.

Cuil 2 August, 2008

Posted by aronzak in web.
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Heard about a new search engine called ‘cuil‘. Amusing, as I instinctively searched for it with my trusty google box in ff. It has some nice features, such as icons for results. But it’s not really a game changer. It’s going to take a lot more than an ugly black interface to unseat the reigning champion of web searches. The fact is, if you want to find something, you instinctively use a web search. You don’t take the time to think about what tool you are going to use. That’s why Yahoo (and the rest) makes a toolbar, so that you’ll go to their search first.

6 Things that I don’t like within one use:

1. Ugly interface looks like a flash applet, not a webpage.

2. Wikipedia does not appear in the top of the results, unlike with google (and I like that)

3. Sponsorship seems present. A search for ‘linux’ brings up recommended ‘linux software’ and ‘suse linux’. Is suse paying for that?

4. Columns is nice, but I’m used to a single line, and reading across if something is interesting.

5. Having a picture from each page is interesting. Sometimes the pictures are of a completely unrelated thing.

6. The name is crap. There’s no two ways about it.