Microsoft has just announced two new Windows Live products, Windows Live Folders and Windows Live Photo Gallery. Windows Live Folders is Microsoft's online storage solution, set to compete with AOL's Xdrive, Box.net, and a lot of other startups in this market. Windows Live Photo Gallery acts as an upgrade to Vista's Windows Photo Gallery, providing tight integration with Windows Live Spaces and Windows itself.
Windows Live Folders
Windows Live Folders features a 500 MB storage limit, which is a below the industry norm, compared to competitors like Xdrive which provides 5 gigs or Box.net which … Read more
Box.net is an online Web storage provider. Users can store 1GB of whatever they want or pay a little extra for more space with the service's premium plans. What really makes the service stand out is its slick-looking file-sharing widgets. Users get instant previews of images, music, and text documents. The files reside in your Box.net storage area, and as the widget owner you can even upload files through the widget.
The newer and more advanced widget enables group sharing for members with premium and professional accounts. Users can password protect a shared folder, which … Read more
HeyCast is a new service from the folks that made HeyWatch [review], the online video conversion service. It lets you grab videos from popular hosting sites such as YouTube, Google Video, and Apple's Quicktime movie trailers site, and clump them together into a handy RSS feed you or anyone else can subscribe to in iTunes or other feed readers. The feed isn't just your standard RSS though--HeyCast grabs the Flash videos, converts them, and makes them available for offline viewing on your computer or portable devices.
I gave it a go this morning and came across a few … Read more
One of the more interesting takeaways from this morning's keynote at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference was the news that .Mac subscribers running Leopard would be able to enjoy a new remote desktop feature called "Back to my Mac." Users will be able to sort and scavenge through the contents of computers far away from their home network machines using Leopard's new finder and transfer files to and fro freely. The service works with any Mac running Leopard that's been set up with .Mac authorization.
During this morning's demo, Apple's CEO Steve Jobs … Read more
Box.net is beta testing a new plug-in for Microsoft Office that lets users save Office files to their Box.net storage folders. The plug-in works for both Office 2003 and 2007 on Windows XP and Vista, provides users a new "Save to Box.net" button, and gives visual notification when the file is uploading and then successfully sent. Users can then access that file anytime on their Box.net Web storage folder.
DPhoto is a photo-hosting and sharing service that uses a Flash interface for both organizing and sharing photos. It's no Flickr-killer in terms of price or community features, but it's got a really easy to use uploader, and the slide shows look great. Give it a look if you want to make a cool-looking slide show or gallery with a few of your photos.
Adding your shots to DPhoto is very user friendly. The uploader tool lets you pick out your photos one at a time or select entire folders on your hard drive. There's also a custom e-mail address that lets you send pictures from your phone.
The free version of DPhoto is limited to 100 photos, and also limits individual file size to 3MB, which is about the size of most people's photos, assuming they're shooting in something around the 5-megapixel range. DPhoto charges $2 a month to upgrade to their Lite account (and $7 for Pro), which is on the steep side. Both premium-level accounts net you the option to upload more shots. The Pro level account increases the cap on individual photo-file uploads from 3MB to 20MB, and lets users download entire photo albums as .ZIP files, which is handy if you intend on using DPhoto as a business tool.
I can't wholly recommend using DPhoto over some of the more established photo-hosting services, especially since at $84 a year, the Pro subscription is a hard sell over typical mainstream photo services (Flickr, Fotki, SmugMug) that come in at about $25 to $50 a year. I'd like to see them build on the looks with a little more backing on the community and support. The service is a still a little rough around the edges and certainly is capable of improving its offerings in both departments. Either way, the site navigation and photo browsing are very well designed, making it a joy to use.
If you're the owner of a blog, there's a chance that, come one day, you might lose some or all of your posts. In order to avoid this, there's BlogBackupOnline, a free solution that will grab everything you've ever done and make a backup of it off site.
Registering your blog (or anyone else's for that matter) is easy, just give it the URL, and if the site is on a popular blogging platform like Blogger, TypePad, or WordPress, it will start backing up posts right away. You don't actually need to give it … Read more
Review Basics is a collaborative workspace for small teams and businesses. It runs right in your browser, and offers a fairly simple and straightforward way for others to share and leave feedback on photos, video files, and office documents. The interface runs entirely in Flash, so there are no special extensions to download, or programs that need to be installed on your computer. Just start up a workspace and go.
Review Basics works with a variety of common office document standards like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF. It also can handle uploading an entire zipped folder, so if you get a zipped attachment in an e-mail, you can upload it straight to the service without having to unpack it and send files one at a time. Review Basics also handles videos, although they have to be in the .FLV Flash format, which despite its popularity on the Internet, isn't a consumer-friendly standard compared to .MOV and .AVI. Files are capped off at 25MB apiece, so if you're working with any video clip over a minute or two, it's likely to be too large.
Annotating media is fairly simple. Users get five different tools to mark what's on the screen: boxes, arrows, a highlighter, call-outs, and emoticons. There is no drawing tool, which is one thing I enjoy and make use of on other collaborative workspace services like ConceptShare [hands-on] and Octopz [hands-on]. I think at a basic level it makes things feel familiar, like using a pen. There are still boxes which can be resized and color coded, but for irregularly shaped elements, you're out of luck.
To separate which feedback is being displayed, you can toggle each person's edits on and off. It's a lot like PhotoShop when you show or hide layers, and useful when you have more than two or three people working on a piece of media at a time, as things tend to get crowded.
Review Basics is very versatile for a free app, but it's missing a few things I think would make it far more competitive in this space. I'd like a way to leave audio or video notes. Some people (like me) find it easier to hit a record button, say something and move on, instead of writing it out. I'd also like to see live chat or live video conferencing, something that can take telephones out of the equation for both businesses and customers. The service is planning on moving to a paid model in the future, adding these things would certainly put it in the realm of some of the other services charging monthly fees.
The team has put together a series of hands-on demos you can play with to get a feel for the service. [More screens after the break.]