Opera Mini, Unite and the Future of Mobile Browsers

mail.google.comIn the serious world of high-tech executives, Jon von Tetzchner stands out as a refreshingly irreverent leader. The Icelandic-born CEO of Opera Software — who in 2005 comically attempted to swim from Norway to the U.S. as a public-relations stunt — preaches the company’s vision of “One Web” that jon operawould deliver a full Internet experience to people regardless of whether they access online content with a desktop, a mobile computer or a wireless phone. It’s a goal Opera continues to work toward with its mobile and PC browsers and with Opera Unite, a new technology that aims to turn PCs — and, eventually, cell phones — into servers that let users share content with others via the browser.
In the edited interview below, Tetzchner, a speaker at this week’s Mobilize 09 in San Francisco, offers his thoughts via e-mail on the U.S. mobile market, the evolution of phone browsers, and the effect app stores will have on the space. Read More about Opera Mini, Unite and the Future of Mobile Browsers

Opera Unite Struggles to Keep up With Its Ambitions

[qi:004] It’s been a month since browser maker Opera (s OPERA) announced Opera Unite to much fanfare, and it’s about time for a reality check: Its users have been struggling to access the browser’s new server functions in recent days, with file-sharing services unavailable and personal web pages returning server errors. At fault is Unite’s proxy architecture, which was supposed to make networking your browser easier, but has been unreliable at best. Add to this the fact that personal Unite pages have been showing up on Google, and you start to wonder what Opera really meant when it claimed to “reinvent the web” with Unite — start from scratch with a shaky architecture and unresolved privacy issues, just like in the early ’90s? Read More about Opera Unite Struggles to Keep up With Its Ambitions

Simplifying Email

atsignAs web workers, we are often asked to help friends and relatives fix computer problems. For me, the majority of these problems seem to be related to email. It’s ironic, as email is now less popular than social networks.

So why is email such a hassle?

  • It’s more than 30 years old. Email has come a long way, but its underlying protocols haven’t changed much since the 1970s.
  • It’s really three different systems. Sending (SMTP) and receiving (POP or IMAP) are totally separate functions, and are often handled on different servers. That’s why I often hear comments like “I can receive, but I can’t send” from clients.
  • It’s being used for a lot of things it was never designed to do, like send images and attachments, highly formatted messages, signatures and calendar entries.
  • It’s been overrun by spam, and even well-designed spam filters aren’t perfect, and cause unwanted side effects, like messages that get misidentified as spam, or just go away.
  • Email software is too complex. These programs that were originally built for offline use; that is, they were set up so that users could read and write messages without being connected to the internet. Sending and receiving would happen in batches. That made sense when internet connections were slow, expensive and charged by the minute. Now that most people have always-on connections like cable or DSL, that process is less necessary. Desktop email client software is a pain to set up and use; as someone who helps many people with email, Outlook is the bane of my existence.
  • Many of us connect to the Internet in more than one place — at work, at home, and on cell phones. It can be very frustrating to realize that we’ve left the message we needed to reply to at the office.
  • Many of us have more than one email address. I try to keep my work and personal email separate, plus I have a series of email addresses that I use when registering on websites that might try to send spam. And I have several email addresses that were given to me, such as the ones that are automatically created when signing up for instant-messaging services like Yahoo, AIM and Windows Live/MSN.

What can be done to overcome these problems? Here are some tips that might help you and your clients and friends be more productive. Read More about Simplifying Email

Opera Unite: Enabling a Decentralized Web?

Since last week, browser maker Opera has been teasing us with a placeholder site promising the launch of something that¬†would “reinvent the web,” but while I was expecting them to announce that Opera 10 was out of beta already, I was wrong. Opera has instead lifted the covers off the alpha version of Opera Unite, a component of Opera 10 that effectively turns any computer into an easy-to-use web server through the use of “services” (applications built using HTML, CSS and JavaScript) running in your browser. Currently, the range of services is limited, but Opera has provided an API and documentation in the hopes that developers will add to the services ecosystem. Read More about Opera Unite: Enabling a Decentralized Web?