Old-school Collaboration Tools That Rock

Not everyone that we need to work with wants to have to learn a new tool in order to collaborate with us online. Sometimes simple “old school” tools, like IRC and mailing lists, can work just as well as, if not better than, the new tools.

Colloquy Brings IRC to the iPhone

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Even though services like Skype, Gtalk, Yahoo, AOL, Twitter and Facebook make it possible to instant or direct message just about anyone online these days, some folks still swear by Internet Relay Chat (IRC). In fact, for many die-hard geeks and software development teams, IRC is the only way to fly.

There are plenty of Web-based and standalone apps that let you join IRC chat rooms (or, channels, as they’re typically called) from your desktop computer, but once you go mobile, your options dwindle. Colloquy, one of the most popular open-source IRC clients for the Mac, now has a spiffy new version for the iPhone that lets you stay connected in-channel while you’re on the road. Read More about Colloquy Brings IRC to the iPhone

Milestone: 20th Anniversary of Portable Mac Era

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Today marks the 20th anniversary of the original release of the Macintosh Portable — the first truly untethered Mac, thanks to its internal battery.

There’s a quote attributed to Steve Jobs: “Do not trust a computer that you cannot lift.” The original compact desktop Macs were offered with an optional carrying case, and some pioneer Mac-users did lug them around, but analogous to the tiny Mac mini today, they couldn’t be considered truly portable due to the necessity of a wall-current umbilical.
The Mac Portable development project was launched in 1986, not long before Steve Jobs’ departure from Apple (s aapl), and the product was first released for sale on September 20, 1989. It was featured on the cover of the November 1989 edition of MacUser magazine, which called it “by far the most complex piece of machinery devised by sale by Apple computer.”
While it incorporated a laptop-style foldable form factor with a front-mounted carry handle/lockdown lever, the Mac Portable weighed only about a pound less than contemporaneous Mac Compact desktops — a hefty 16 pounds, due partly to it having a robust lead-acid battery. It wasn’t cheap either, selling for a likewise heavyweight $6,500 — or $7,300 with an optional hard drive. Read More about Milestone: 20th Anniversary of Portable Mac Era

Google Mobile for BlackBerry Gains Voice Search, My Location

fishnchipsMy fake British accent isn’t worth a darn, so folks in the UK will have to test Google’s (s GOOG) new features on a BlackBerry (s RIMM) for me. The latest Google Mobile client for BlackBerry includes support for British English (sorry, no Pig Latin but I hear it’s omingcay oonsay*) for voice searching.
You won’t have to specify where you’re looking for something any longer, either: My Location is also in the gooey center of this new release. Just point your ‘Berry at http://m.google.com to downoad and artstay peakingsay. I mean: start speaking. Sadly, there’s no Google Mobile love for the Storm yet. Other supported BlackBerrys need OS 4.1 or better for the app; you’ll need 4.2 for voice search.
* translation source

4 Hints for Managing Online Conversation

As a web worker, I find myself involved in a lot of online conversations – I mean, a lot. As I write this, for example, I have four instant messenger windows open to people on various services, I’m hanging out in 3 Campfire rooms and 3 IRC rooms, and have several private IRC conversations going on as well. Sometimes Skype chats come into the picture for me as well. Fortunately, such conversation tends to be asynchronous, and can be fit in between other things – but managing it all is still a challenge. Here are 4 tips that have helped me keep the situation from getting out of control:
1. Get a Unified Client. Assuming that you have contacts spread across multiple services (as most of us do), the first thing to do is to get a unified client to cut down on the number of applications that you have to run at one time. This also gets rid of time spent flipping through interfaces, trying to remember whether Jane was on MSN or GTalk. I’m using Adium (OS X only) at the moment; in the past, I’ve had success with Trillian or Miranda on Windows as well. These solutions aren’t ideal – I’d love to find something that aggregates all the chats I’m in – but they help.
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YouTube Admits to Autoplay Count Problem

Just a quick check in to let everyone know that we’re still trying to find out what’s up with YouTube apparently still not counting views of videos that are set up to autoplay on other web pages. This is a phenomenon we happened upon after top users complained their view counts had dropped drastically despite new videos being distributed widely around the web.

So far YouTube has let us know it’s looking into the missing view issue, but it hasn’t confirmed or denied any aspect of it. However, in a post in a YouTube forum this week, a YouTube employee named Jeff Fisher both acknowledged the issue and called it “a problem.” “We are looking into it,” he wrote.

That wording would seem to imply that YouTube did not knowingly crack down on autoplay abusers like Avril Lavigne fans, who had set up a page that autoplayed and auto-refreshed her Girlfriend video in an attempt to make it the most popular YouTube video of all time (it remains in second, but not by much, to Evolution of Dance, with both videos accelerating to 92 million-some total views as competition has intensified over the last month).

(Some background on “autoplay”: While YouTube videos automatically start playing on its own pages, when they are embedded on other web pages they are set by default to wait for a user to click the play button. However, it’s possible to tweak the embed code so a video plays automatically each time someone visits a page. People do this in order to make it easier for visitors to watch videos and/or to increase their play counts.)

VoIP: is Windows Mobile second fiddle to Symbian?

FringAfter reading this post by Matt Miller, I’m starting to think maybe so! Since I’ve used Pocket PC / Windows Mobile devices almost exclusively for seven years, I realize my perceptions might be jaded. It’s all too easy to get your perspective locked into a hardware or software platform, which is why I recently ordered my Mac Book Pro. Now Matt has me seriously thinking of borrowing a Series 60 device just to broaden my horizons!

From a VoIP standpoint, I’ve used Skype on Windows Mobile every now and then. There aren’t too many other options for me. Matt, however, has a bunch of choices on his Series 60 devices: Fring, Gizmo Project and TruPhone. Each has its own pros and cons; after reading up on Matt’s experiences, TruPhone looks appealing due to its feature set and recent support addition for Google Talk.

Matt says "While web surfing via WiFi on a mobile phone is enjoyable because it is faster than the EDGE speeds I get with my carrier, the "killer" application for WiFi on a mobile phone is VoIP". Some of you might say, "why is VoIP a killer feature on a phone when you can just make phone calls" but I see Matt’s point if you travel a bunch and want to keep that cellular bill down. Is anyone using mobile VoIP software on a regular basis? What are you using and how is the experience for you?

Update: on a related note, GigaOm reports that Gizmo Project just added voice support for Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Jabber and Google Talk! VoiP + IM = productivity!