Want To Stop Sending Hot-Headed Emails? There's An App For That

I’ll give you the spell-checker. While I wish we all could embody the skill set natively of a National Spelling Bee finalist, the spell-checker has been around long enough to gain even my old-school acceptance. But what if you suffer from email rage? For those of you who have a problem with the premature send, check out Tone Check. Tone Check, the “emotional spell check for email”,  is an add-on to Outlook or Lotus Notes. Or it can operate as an extension to Gmail in Chrome. Coming soon for Firefox, Safari, Apple Mail and Windows Live Mail. Once installed, it essentially assigns a tone rating via meter  on the bottom of your email. There are plenty of settings for establishing how you want the checker to respond to your writing and when you want it to respond. You can use a slider to establish the application’s sensitivity.  It’s free for basic use, with two tiers of pricing for pro and business levels for added features.

On one hand, I find it amusing that someone thought we might need an app for this. On the other, I have received enough emails to recognize that we might, in fact, need an app for this. So, what’s the harm in getting a little reading at the bottom of your email that tells you your language is “too darn hot?” If you want to know, Tone Check’s your tool.

(Facebook) Friends To Gmail Rocks

A few years back, I found myself wishing for a means to export Facebook information into my Gmail account. I had discovered connections on Facebook that I hadn’t been in touch with for years, but had happily reconnected with, and I wanted to be able to organize the information via my email client of choice. Back then, however, there was no meaningful way to accomplish this task – the best option I found was a spammy third party application that I ultimately abandoned.

Flash forward to 2011 and enter, Friends to Gmail. This web application has a simple function  – it converts your Facebook friends list into a CSV file that can be uploaded to Gmail. It doesn’t include contact info yet, but you can get birthdays, hometown, work history, etc. So, ifor example, you can get your friends’ birthdays on your G-Cal – my calendar of choice. The developer, Dan Loewenhurz, is looking into ways to get the actual email information out of Facebook for import, so stay tuned.

If you are looking to use the G-Universe as your CMS system, Friends to Gmail is a nice place to start.

Thanks a bunch, Mr. Loewenhurz.

Website Notation & Sharing Now Clear As Glass

Does your work ever require you to review and share notes with others regarding the information you find on websites? Glass offers a specialized tool to assist that effort. Fresh out of private, invite-only beta, you can freely try this new application out and see if it fits your needs.

Via Firefox and Chrome plug-ins, you can easily and quickly add your own thoughts to a site, much like peering through a layer of glass. Those thoughts can include text, links, images or video. Then, send these thoughts to others via a messaging-type interface, with real-time like updates. There is a companion mobile application, iOS only at this time.  With the features in the interface, you can create a pretty solid annotation to the page, something worthy of sharing. And Glass does offer a measure of SSL secure encryption to the interaction and comments are not sharable by default.

Sort of like a social bookmarking site, with more collaboration, and a smooth-as-Glass execution. Nice new toy to play with, for certain.

Tweet From Outlook With Twinbox

Yes, there are still some of us who love to use Outlook as their home base for all things digital. Calendars, tasks, contacts, mail and now even Tweets! If you find yourself far more comfortable with the Outlook interface but are interested in delving into the world of Twitter, check out Twinbox (link here) – a free application that allows you to Tweet from within Outlook.

The relatively small application file adds a few buttons to the Outlook bar that allow you to interact with the microblogging site. The app also supports multiple Twitter accounts. There are some simple preference selections to be made, including a clever option to use a keyboard shortcut to bring up a Tweet window. I also like that the service uses bit.ly for shortening links – my link shortener of choice.

Some of the benefits of Outlook are borne out with Twinbox as well – you can leverage Outlook’s foldering, filtering, archiving and search functions to keep track of and locate Tweets, which are now stored within Outlook. Incoming Tweets show in a very Outlook-like window as well, keeping the experience well within the bounds of familiarity. All the usual Twitter conventions, such as RTs, @ mentions, tags and DMs, are supported, and attaching pictures to Tweets is relatively easy – highlight an email that attaches and image or load one up from your computer’s hard drive.

And Twinbox has some great analytics features built right into it – you can easily view top Tweeters compared to total Tweets over a designated time frame.

While Twinbox does not give you all of the possible panoply of Tweeting options, it does a credible job of making Twitter manageable for the Outlook-obssessed set (which includes many professional and business-types). Not a bad way to get an introduction to realtime, social banter in a familiar environment.

New Mr. Tweet – From Recommender to Social Director

Since the early days of the public microblogging service Twitter, it has been a challenge for users to figure out who to follow and whose tweets to read. The challenge is getting, well, even more challenging as the number of Twitter users grow. If only someone could just tell you “hey, go follow @so-and-so, they are talking about EXACTLY what you want to be hearing.”

I started using the third-party Twitter directory Mr. Tweet very early on in my Twitter usage, and I am coming up on three years of tweeting. I previously blogged about Mr. Tweet here in the Studio way back in the beginning (link here). I periodically go back and use Mr. Tweet when I feel the need to follow some fresh ideas and, for the most part, I appreciate the personalized suggestions the service yields.

Apparently, Mr. Tweet has not rested on its laurels of more than 400,000 users of the service. The Mr. Tweet blog (link here) just announced that there are major changes to the service on the way. An example of the new Mr. Tweet is live (link here). Mr. Tweet claims to have been listening to users who don’t really want to follow celebs on Twitter and would prefer to connect with members of their “communities of interest” in a more meaningful way. Gee, what a good idea!

From the screenshots, it appears the “new” Mr. Tweet will be more than a simple recommended user-type service. The new interface looks much more like interest-based social communities growing out of Twitter. You can post discussions, get answers from other members of the community, and see top users.

 

You can filter by current discussions, not yet answered, and all activities.

You will still be able to secure old-school Mr. Tweet service at http://classic.mrtweet.com.  But kudos to Mr. Tweet for its innovation – the new service looks to be a promising means for distilling down your Twitter-actions into the topical areas of greatest interest. By doing so, Mr. Tweet will allow you to see the top users in action, including how interactive they are with members of their chosen community. Looking forward to checking out this new, more social version of the service.

Play With Office Docs On iPhone – Free

There are iPhone applications that allow you to manipulate MS Office docs on your iPhone, but they tend to fall into the “getting-on-expensive” side for the average iPhone application. If you want to get down with your docs but don’t want to drop between $10-$20 in the process, try Office2 Plus (link here). It’s Free!

Office2 Plus works with Word and Excel files. Access local files, Google Docs files or files shared on your MobileMe iDisk. While the editing tools are fairly minimal, they hit most of the usual functions one might require most of the time. Remember, this is iPhone editing we are talking about.

The app is optimized for Office 97 – 2003. If you need to read a 2007 file, it is doable but not attractively formatted. On the other hand, Office2 Plus also includes a PDF viewer – nice addition!

While there may be applications out there with more features, you simply cannot beat the price! Office doc manipulation on the go, without impacting your wallet. Excellent combination.

The Entire U.S. Code. On Your Phone

Do you have some spare memory sitting around on your iPhone and you don’t know what to do with it? How about loading it up with the entire United States Code? The drawback is the space investment, but the very real benefit is access to the Code whether or not you have a live internet connection. Very handy in those rural District courts.

U.S. Code is the creation of Assistant Professor Shawn Bayern, currently teaching at Florida State University College of Law. Professor Bayern graduated from Yale University in 1999 and the University of California at Berkeley in 2006. Not suprisingly, before his legal career, he worked in computing research, served on groups responsible for developing programming languages, and wrote several books and articles about computer programming. Professor Bayern relates that he helped design JSP and some other Java-related languages, but then dropped that effort to go to law school.  He always knew he wanted to teach, but not in the computer science field.

Professor Bayern has married his interests in computers and law by creating an application of unique interest to lawyers and researchers. The app is free and, as Professor Bayern explains, designed to be useful.

Professor Bayern contacted me last week about his app and I have now had a chance to try it out. It took quite some time to download and searches are not lightning-fast, but are not intolerably slow either. The simple interface permits searching by keywords (with auto-complete) or citation. You also can browse by title, section and subsection. When you enter a particular section, you can navigate back and forth between sections via arrows, bookmark a favorite section and email it to someone or somewhere for printing. You can view either in portrait or landscape mode. Search terms are highlighted. Entries include the language of the section and codification and amendment information.

There is nothing more than what is absolutely needed to find a Code section. There is a caveat, however, to keep in mind when using the app (link here). U.S. Code  includes the latest “official” Code sections, but does not include the most recent updates via public laws. Those most recent updates can be found in the traditional, paid resources. U.S. Code might certainly is a handy “in-hand” resource, but it should not be considered the last and final word on the law, particularly if your research results will be showing up in court papers, pleadings or motions.

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The Dragon On Your iPhone

Way back in the day, I always thought it extremely cool when the crew of the Enterprise used to speak out load to the ship’s computer and Majel Barrett’s soothing voice would respond accordingly.

Fast forward to today – I am often found cursing my iPhone’s touchscreen keyboard and the stupidly stubborn suggestions that it insists I really meant to write. Add to that the fact that there are many times I wish I could access a function on my phone without having to huddle over the screen and hunt and peck.

Enter the Dragon. Nuance Software’s Dragon Naturally Speaking has long been the name associated with dictation software for your desktop or laptop. From its humble beginnings, Dragon has evolved to become quite a powerful tool, capable of all sorts of functionality from email, to wordprocessing to search and beyond.

Nuance has now released an iPhone application called Dragon Dictation to bring some of that verbal pizzaz to the iPhone. The 3GS has limited voice functionality already built in, accessed by pressing and holding the home button. However, Dragon brings this functionality one step cooler by employing speech recognition technology to power emails and text messages and even the phone’s clipboard for cutting and pasting. Text is editable, too, so you aren’t stuck with “elephants dance merrily while I make cookies in the petunia patch” from your original phrase “just wanted to see if you needed me to pick up some milk tonight.”

The only drawback is that the service does require an internet connection (unlike the built in voice control) so that Nuance’s servers can go to work on your speech.  Oh and the other objection is price. No, wait, strike that. It’s FREE (for a limited time only).  For iPhone OS 3.1 users only. Go get it!

Google Wave Extensions: 6rounds

6roundsI was going to link this comment to my original blog post on Google Wave, but I ultimately thought it best to simply copy and paste this as a new post right here for maximum visibility. From Natasha at 6rounds.com, the first video chat widget for Wave:

Hello, I saw your article on Google Wave and I wanted to introduce you to our Google Wave extension 6rounds. Google Wave has chosen 6rounds to be one of their very first 6 applications and its only video chat extension for its launch. To learn more about 6rounds platform capabilities and the Google Wave extension, you can view our press release (http://uk.prweb.com/releases/6rounds/GoogleWave/prweb2952104.htm) and check out the special page for Google Wave on 6rounds (www.6rounds.com/googlewave). I’d love to give you a deeper look into our extension and am more than happy to answer any questions you may have and elaborate on the cooperation. I also wanted to let you know that we are doing a 6 day competition for users to win 6 Google Wave invites. You can read more about it on our blog post: Google Wave invites up for grabs! (http://blog.6rounds.com/google-wave-invites-grabs/) I know that many of your readers are dying to get Google Wave invites so I hope that you will share this legitimate opportunity with the. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best Regards, Natasha

Well, there you have it, Studio readers. Go check out 6rounds and maybe you could be “Waving” by next week!
If you are interested in learning more about 6rounds, and the unique features it brings to video chat, check out the articles here and here. I will be checking 6rounds out myself (independently of Wave until I can get my own invite). If you have access to the Wave / 6rounds experience, I would surely love to get some feedback in the comments below.