Archive for review

Xobni - the e-mail management tool

When I read about xobni on Webware the screenshot looked intriguing so I went to the website which asked the question “Drowning in e-mail?”. Well, yes. Yes I am. I receive around 100 real actionable e-mails a day for my job and managing that load is somewhat taxing. A tool to help with that would be very useful.

I love tools. Really without online banking I would not be able to pay any of my bills and be a grown up but that’s another story.

Xobni is still currently in beta and requires (like nearly everything it seems nowadays) an invite. I requested one but was put on a list. Luckily my Twitter friends are all in the Web 2.0 Invite Overload groove and I was able to score one.

As Xobni is an add on for Microsoft Outlook installation was the same for any app. I downloaded the exe. Exited out of Outlook and ran it. It then appeared as pane on the right hand side of my Outlook. It took about 10 minutes for it to scan all my e-mail during which time my Outlook ran as normal.

Now when ever I click on an e-mail I have information such as how many e-mails I have sent or received from that person, that person’s “rank” as in who I talk to the most, that person’s phone number, a list of people that person talks to the most, past emails in conversation from a la gmail, as well as every attachment that ever passed between you. That’s a lot of information.

The weird part is that all that information doesn’t seem all that useful. True, I’ve only used it for a few days but I was kind of expecting all that real estate to be well used. You can minimize the pane which I find myself doing often as I read longer e-mails in order to not distract myself from all that eyecandy data.

A nifty thing I’ve found is when switching from mail to calendar or contact the pane changes from data to the contents of the e-mail you were looking at which is nice when trying to schedule a meeting.

The much touted search is indeed lighting fast and truly an upgrade from Outlook’s horror of a search. I do have Google Desktop installed which is what I was using to sort through my thousands of e-mails but Xobni is actually quicker by quite a margin. You can also search for only part or all of a word as you type with xobni pulling up results for each letter as you type it. It highlights your search term in yellow and clicking on the results pulls up the content of the e-mail inside the Xobni pane with the options of reply, reply all, forward, open, or view conversation. Clicking “open” opens the e-mail within Outlook as normal. Clicking “view conversation” displays all the e-mails on that thread, a slider for the amount of detail you want to see on those e-mails as well as a list of all those involved on those e-mails. Clicking on any of those people brings up the stat page for that person.

Throughout this process it has opens tabs for each step of the way so if you have dug all the way down into the stat page for a person you had a conversation with last week you can go back to your search results again or go back to the original e-mail.

The more I play with Xobni the more I see that it is a very well thought out and seamless application. I feel just plain bad that it hasn’t done much to increase my productivity or organization in the 4 days I’ve used it. However, just by going through the steps again in order to write this I see I just haven’t really given it a chance. It’s so pretty and so slick and so full of promise that I feel I need to make an effort in order get in the habit of using it.

If you want to use it I do have 6 invites available. I will just need your e-mail address. You can leave a comment or DM me on Twitter.

It should be noted that I would normally be doing all kinds of screen grabs for this kind of thing but since it’s on my work e-mail that just isn’t a good idea. If I photoshopped out all the work related bits there would be nothing to see. To make up for that I’ve embedded the video below from Xobni.

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This is a re-post from my old blog from 4/21/08

According to Crunch Base BrightKite is a location based social network based in Denver, CO. In real-time it lets people see where their friends are, share their experiences and make new friends based on the places that they frequent. Businesses and venues can capture and syndicate the activity around them via their website, and RSS. Brightkite can be used via the web, text messaging, e-mail, WAP, and the iPhone, giving users an immersive experience.

I haven’t poked around quite enough to give any kind of full review but it has been dovetailing quite nice into my Twitter addiction. My only concern is the ease people can have stalking you. I haven’t given it my real home address but just close enough to make use of some of the local features.

I’ve been using it for a couple days. Mostly in conjunction with Twitter which it plays very nice with.

It does have some optimization for iPhone. However, I don’t have an iPhone. I have a Blackberry Curve. It seems to work quite well with my Twitterberry Twitter app and text messaging.

There are a number of text messaging shortcuts that make posting on the go easier. There is also a custom e-mail address you can e-mail cell phone pics to. An example is here.

I did go to the NY Comic Con this weekend which would have been the perfect test for such an application but sadly it’s still very beta and there weren’t any other users there. Or if there were there were in privacy mode.

You get 5 invites to the beta test when you get in and I have 2 left if anyone wants to give it a try. There are numerous ways of contacting me all over this blog. I just need an e-mail address.

Another good article on the subject is Clint Ecker’s Blog.

It’s very interesting and I’m curious if it will catch on. My Twitter circle seems to enjoy playing with it. Time will tell.

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Cool Stuff Review - GelaSkins

This is a re-post from my old blog from 5/20/07

GelaSkins are removable “stickers” to customize your iPod or your laptop.

I bought 3 different styles for my iPod with video as well as my old 12″ Powerbook to take advantage of their buy 4 get one free deal.

Here is one applied to my iPod, one package and one contents of package. (You can click for a larger image.)

Here is the Powerbook Skin.

On the Powerbook.

It’s very easy to remove with nothing left on the laptop.

The stickers are high quality, look great and are very easy to apply. I was concerned that it would be difficult to apply to some of the smaller areas such as the click button on the center of the iPod wheel but it was fairly easy even for someone like me who doesn’t have fine motor control. The included screen protector was the best I’ve seen in ease of application and the lack of any bubbles.

They were a bit expensive. The iPod skins were 14.95 USD and the 12′ Powerbook skin was a whopping 32.95 USD. However it does do an excellent job of protecting my old already scratched up laptop and you can’t be to careful with those video iPod screens.

I’ve also gotten numerous compliments on my iPod from co-workers and envious (at least I thought they were envious) stares from folks on the train.

If you are looking for a great way to customize your tech toys without damaging them then GelaSkins might just be a great way to do it.

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