Browsing is more fun with friends. That is the concept behind Channel.me. This browser based tool will allow you to visit a website, open a channel to invite a friend and review and collaborate with each other. Start at Channel.me’s site and enter the desired URL. You can then send your Channel invitation by Facebook, email or phone. You will be notified when your friend connects to the channel. You will see the same page and even each other’s mouse movements. Use the chat box to the right of the screen to talk about the site or anything you might want to discuss. Or add notes to specific spots on the page to spur discussion.
Clearly a single purpose tool, but one that fills an interesting niche. You and your colleagues can search together on Google at the same time, or discuss web-based content. Nice one to add to the tool box.
Moving in the opposite direction, there’s a new way to work locally and act globally, or more accurately, in the cloud, with the newly-released-to-everyone Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office. This service allows two or more to work on the same Microsoft Office file (2003 forward / Windows PCs only) and back it up using Google Docs.
Cloud Connect adds a toolbar to the Microsoft Office interface. With that toolbar, you can give Microsoft Office the same online capabilities as Google Docs. You also can give Google Docs meaningful offline capability.
The killer feature is sharing and simultaneous editing of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files from within office, but via the great Google cloud. Synced files are continuously backed up and fitted out with a unique Web address for sharing. Even offline edits make it up – Google Cloud Connect will sync those changes the next time you log onto the Web.
Don’t worry if you get too crazy with the edits – Cloud Connect stores previous versions and you can roll back to earlier versions if you want. When there are two or more edits to the same section at the same time, the user can choose which version to keep.
All you need is a free plug-in and a Google account. Google Cloud Connect works on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. However, sadly enough, it doesn’t work with Microsoft Office for Mac. Not sure if there is any hope for a Mac version in the future.
You can download here Google Cloud Connect onto your capable machine running the eligible Microsoft Office versions. And get cloud backup and collaboration within the Google ecosystem for free.
Now here is an interesting idea. A web app that promotes social collaboration on documents in progress. The service is called Entri (link here) and it is essentially an on-line document editor with collaborative features. It’s free and quite simple to use. Log in with your Twitter ID and you will see a text editor box, with basic formatting, image insertion and link creation features. There is a delete button, a lock button, a “get HTML” button and a save changes button. You can scroll through your Entri’s as well. Versions show on the right side of the screen and you can invite your Twitter friends to engage in the process of editing your document.
What’s the purpose? Entri provides a decent, stripped down text editor that you can use in a pinch to write and secure feedback. The suggesetd use offered on the site is roughing out a blog post and then inviting your followers to add their input into the mix before posting in final form on your blog. Entri advises that integration with the mainstream blogging services, such as WordPress, is coming, but for now you can copy and past the HTML generated on Entri right into your blog’s text editor.
Kind of a cool, special-purpose tool.