Archive for January, 2009

Moving closer to the cloud

The first time I used Google Maps (almost 4 years ago?), I clearly remember thinking “This is the start of moving applications off the desktop and into the browser”.  Since then it appears that we’ve made slow, but steady, progress in that direction.

email, in my opinion, is an application that makes the most sense “in the cloud”.  That being said, there are benefits to having some level of desktop integration: keyboard shortcuts, alerts, pretty icons to click on, etc.

I’ve played with a couple of applications today that fuse the GMail web interface w/ thick client functionality on OS X.  They are MailPlane and Fluid.

MailPlane is specifically written to work with GMail only.  The level of integration they have is quite astounding: Drag’n'Drop attachments, email-friendly (from the KB-perspective) photos straight from iPhoto, Growl notifications, hot key support and many others.  I used it for the better part of the day, and liked it quite a bit.  The only downside (which probably isn’t much to most folks) is that it costs $25.

Fluid, on the other hand, is not written specifically for GMail.  It creates “Site-Specific-Browsers” for any web app you like.  It also allows for extension via User Scripts (I think it has some relationship to GreaseMonkey…but I haven’t dug deep enough yet).  In very little time, I was able to customize my new Gmail.app to integrate with Growl (desktop notifications on OS X) to alert me anytime a new mail arrived.

I like where they’re going with Fluid.  Right now, GMail is the only “app” that I spend a significant amount of time in (basically occupies a browser tab 24/7).  I could see Google Calendar or Google Docs getting their own Fluid app on the Danker-desktop in the near future.

For now, I think I’ll stick with Fluid over MailPlane.  I’m mostly looking for alerting of new messages and the little “badge” that tells me how many new messages I have on my dock icon…both of which are accomplished with Fluid.  That being said, if you’re a GMail power-user, MailPlane is likely money well spent.

Reasons I cannot ditch Firefox

I’ve been a loyal Firefox user since the “Pheonix” days.  Throughout Firefox’s existence, it has seemed (to me) the brower’s greatest strength was also it’s downfall…plugins.  I’m a plugin (extension, add-on, whatever you may call it) junkie.  But it seemed that once I had Firefox loaded up with a dozen or so of my favorites, it started to get “wonky”, as a co-worker of mine would describe it.

Since I made the switch to OS X over the past year, I’ve noticed that Firefox doesn’t zip along quite as fast on OS X as Safari does.  So over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to use Safari more…but it just hasn’t worked out.  Safari seems to be the antithesis of Firefox when it comes to customization/extension.  Yes, I’m aware of PimpMySafari, but it feels forced due to the lack of proper extension support in Safari.

The 3 features I seem not to be able to live without are:

If anyone is aware of drop-in replacements for the 3 features listed above for Safari, please leave comments below!