Archive for the ‘The software I use’ Category

Finally got started with Pinterest

Finally, I managed to get past the annoying “Building Feed” message that would greet me every time I logged in to Pinterest.

The workaround is here:

I really hope Pinterest fixes this issue soon. It has been open much too long!


Installable clients for SaaS

The more I use smaller-screen devices, the more I get convinced that SaaS software and Web applications deliver the best user experience only when I’m using them through ‘installed’ frontends. Why else would I prefer using the Facebook app on my Android phone over browsing Facebook in a full browser window on my laptop? Or access Twitter using TweetDeck (an AIR application)?

The online-offline integration that such frontends offer takes user experience to a different level. That’s precisely why Picasa is such a pleasure to use on my laptop, as against just using it online. In fact, my mind doesn’t quite register an app running only in the browser as a bonafide app yet!

Why don’t we have more installable frontends for popular SaaS applications out there? Google Docs, for example? That the traditionally shrinkwrap software applications are Web integrated now is a different matter altogether. Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office, for example.

Food for thought, eh?

BTW, this blog post was written using the WordPress app on Android. 🙂

Android: Delete user-added words from the keyboard dictionary

If you use Android on your smartphone, you’d appreciate that it’s really easy to add words to the keyboard dictionary. Next time, when you’re trying to type these words, predictive text inputs makes life simpler for you. Example: since a lot of my text messages are a mix of English and Hindi, I’ve added many commonly-used Hindi words to the dictionary.

So far, so good.

Eventually, like me, you may realize that you’ve added some unnecessary/misspelled words to the dictionary. You now want to delete these words from the dictionary, so that they’re not suggested to you when you’re trying to type something entirely different.

Here are the steps you need:

  1. Tap Settings > Language and Keyboard > Touch Input > Personal Dictionary.
  2. Tap Edit Personal Dictionary.
  3. Tap Menu and then tap Delete.
  4. On the Delete Word screen, select the relevant words and then tap Delete.
  5. You’re done!

The relevant options are a bit buried inside the menus, so I thought a blog post would help. These steps are relevant to Android 2.2 (Froyo) running on my HTC Desire HD.  I guess they’ll be relevant for 2.1 and 2.3 as well.

Some kudos for Evernote

I stumbled upon Evernote a few months ago while looking for a software application to manage my ever-growing to-do lists. As the name suggests, Evernote is not a to-do management software. It is simply an application that lets you take quick notes in any situation and from any device. However, since it let me add check-boxes next to lines of text, it doubled up as my simple “to-do management” app as well, besides becoming my everyday note-taking software. It suited me just fine also because I work across three computers — my office laptop, my office PC, and my home laptop — on any given day.

So what does Evernote have that Google Docs (unfair comparison, I know!), Notepad, or for that matter some of the expensive note-taking software out there, doesn’t? Here’s what:

  • Evernote is not entirely in the cloud or on your PC. It’s somewhere in between. Most importantly, it lets you decide which notes you want to save in the online repository and which ones you want to store locally. So, if you’re worried about your intellectual property living on somebody else’s servers, Evernote may be a good app to try.
  • It supports elaborate on-the-fly tagging of notes and notebook/folder-based organization; something that you’d expect from a good note-management software.
  • The storage limit for free users is well calibrated. I usually take only text notes and I haven’t been able to consume even 10% of my monthly limit over the three months that I’ve been using Evernote for.
  • The “ink note” feature comes handy if you like to conjure up impromptu diagrams and schematics.
  • The Search, Print, and Email features work like a charm. It’s obvious that the app developers chose to stick to a limited array of features, but deliver them well.

And did I tell you that the UI of Evernote rocks as well? It’s clean, unambiguous, and very thoughtfully designed.

Another good thing about Evernote is that, besides PCs, it works with almost all breeds of smartphones out there. I haven’t used Evernote on a mobile phone yet, but I’ll likely have an opportunity to do so later this year. More about the mobile experience later then!

[Update 6/2/2011] I use Evernote on two more devices now — my HTC Desire HD running Android Gingerbread and iPad 2. Having all my notes available on any of the five devices I use is a great convenience. However, the app developers could probably add a feature or two to better support checklists and rich-text notes on smart portable devices.