May 22

I say portal, you say what?

I don’t particularly like portals. I look at the default pages of excite, or yahoo or the many like them and just get turned off and move along rapidly. When BT upgraded to BTYahoo, I got sent emails and phonecalls trying to get me to upgrade the software to their broweser, with one of the selling points being the BT home page that would bring me everythng I need – in other words a portal. I declined to upgrade on line and got them to send me a CD. They ticked me off their list..the CD is probably under the bed somewhere, still unopened.

I use MyYahoo! mainly for one reason – an online version of the Outlook calendar at work. As mobile technology is something we lack, the only other way to access appointments would be to carry the laptop around with me and boot it up. Instead I synch the calender and when I wake up in the morning check on the home PC (always on) whether I have to rush to catch the train or can take it easy. The only other content I have on it are the night’s TV programmes and my horoscope for a laugh.

And, finally to the point of this post – A look at Google’s latest offeringFusion. A portal by anyother name, they seem reluctant to call it that. It’s still at the Labs phase, so the offereing is not yet comprehensive.

Look and Form

The look is pure Google, simple, clean lines. The personalisable elements are confined to a section below the search bar. This can leave plenty of white space on the page. The interface is neat, with the modules/widgets (what do I call them) able to be picked up by the mouse and dragged around the page to be dropped elsewhere. This was my first disappointment, I wanted to drag the elements to the corners of the page, but the functionality is confined to a middle strip, and only to certain positions – it’s a three column layout. So all I can do is order within a table. MyYahoo has the same restrctions, content can only be placed in certain areas. The difference here is that placement is drag and drop on the page instead of from an editing page.

Another annoyance is that if I only have one row, I don’t appear to be able to drop the widgets down the page, creating space between them and the search box. SO the page now looks clutter. I’d like to jsut have a few of the options on the bottom of the page.

Content

Google has an editing page too, to add or remove the widgets. Currently, the choice is very restricted – only 12 option:

  • 5 News feeds (NYT, BBC, Wired, Slashdot and Google News)
  • Stock Market feeds (you can chose your stocks)
  • Driving Directions; provides UK as well as US.
  • Trivia – both Word and Quote of the day
  • Weather feed – not working today
  • Gmail feed – also not working yet

In comparison, MyYahoo has around 36 content items, one of which is a completely customisable RSS feed. So Google has a lot of catching up to do here. Understanding that it is a new beta, I guess this is likely to change.

Normally, if I’m online, I have 2 pages open by default – Gmail and Bloglines. So if I was to change to use this google consistently I’d want the gmail interface to work and the feeds to be configurable so that I keep keep track of all my feeds through one widget only

So I only need to have one page open which covers most of what i use now. Provide calender synching in another, then I’ll be really happy. I’d still likely to go and use lots of other pages to do the other things though.

May 19

Evil site

Got sent a work avoidance site today from Lee – The Gematriculator. Using the infallible methods of the Gematria, it looks at words and calulates how good or evil they are. This site comes in at 53% evil; me, however – I’m all of 96% evil!

Dec 02

Why do I blog?

I love this, Frank Paynter’s collection of responses to Why do You Blog? I’ve been thinking about that as well, although with more of Who am I Blogging To twist to the question. And this survey definitely clarified where my head to at, in that it’s not who but why. For me, I’ve decided I blog to myself, as way of geting things down, of exploring thoughts and getting my head in order. Other people reading is a benefit, providing connections and being a small part in a global community.

Nov 14

Back to Scotland

spent the weekend up in Glasgow at my first Committee meeting for the 2005 World Masters rowing champs which will be taking place in Strathclyde Park in Sept next year. This was a walkthrough meeting with the FISA Master committee to ensure they are happy with every thing we have got set up for the event.

The weekend started off badly, with a delayed flight from Heathrow, so did not get to the hotle til 10.30. But troubles magically melted away when I got offered a complementary glass of wine on check-in. The hotle is new since the last time I was up there, Alona’s, in the theme park at the top end but it was extremely comfortable for what is in essence a travellers’ place.

It was weird walking into the meeting room; I’d worked with many of the other people in organsing regattas over the years, so it felt a little like I had nver left. Four of the Masters team were there, and we spent the day going through the ‘cookbook’ line by line to ensure that any questions were answered and that the commission went away feeling htat we had everything in hand – which we do. Many of the team were on the 96 Worlds team or the 88 Masters team.

The day all done, it was time for a drink and a meal. The Motherwell Provast (or was it of North Lanarkshire?) was the guest of honour. Great fun was had, and lots of wine consumed…too much. the head was tough this morning. I slept most of the way back down – at least BA was on time.

All I have to do now is come up with a simple, easy and useful method of managing all the event tickets, whilst giving a hand to the marketing team.