What’s New For 2010

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I’ve been traveling to meetings with vendors and writing pretty much nonstop the last few weeks, and have neglected you, the gentle reader of this blog.  Accordingly, I’m going to simply link to some great coverage of good tech tricks from my recent work/writing.

  1. Windows 7 “God Mode” – My friend Dr. Bob Spencer recently posted on an unsupported “hack” in Windows 7 to allow sophisticated users to create a “super control panel”.  Read on @ www.bobspencer.com.  There is also a freeware (UNTESTED) application called “GodMode Creator” for Windows Vista and Windows 7 – use at your own risk.  (No word on whether or not you can order up a Garden of Eden without the serpent…)
  2. Outlook Data Exporter – I’ve been working on a course on a webmail and web calendar productivity apps, and have noted that it’s notoriously hard to get data out of MS Outlook.  I discovered a utility earlier today that may make this a little easier.  The utility is called Outlook Data Exporter, and it’s an open source application which lets you export data like events from your calendar into a number of different formats.  More available online at http://outlookdataexp.codeplex.com/.
  3. ZumoDrive is a web-based application which will let you share directories across numerous PC and Mac computers.  It also will store your synchronized data as encrypted files in the cloud.  Finally, you can use ZumoDrive to share content with people no matter where they are, and it has features like version control which make it very interesting. 
  4. Google Apps – I’ve been working on a course on Google Apps for quite a while now, and am starting to see how it provides a compelling alternative, particularly for small businesses.  The e-mail and calendar are absolutely brilliant (powered byGMail and Google Calendar, respectively).  Google Apps and Google Docs are particularly interesting in how the features sets reflect the priorities of Google itself, a company of brilliant engineers.  For example:
    • The Google spreadsheet tool is extremely feature rich, and has the majority of the functions in Microsoft Excel as well as some new web functions, and a very compelling method for publishing charts to the web or to a dashboard.  There are some major holes in the tool for Accountants – PivotTables, support for cubes, and ODBC support are all missing in action.  (Google is working on a tool called FusionTables, which is in Google Labs now, but it’s still not functioning at the level where PivotTables were 15 years ago on my 486 laptop (25 Mhz, 1MB RAM, Windows 3.1).
    • The Google word processing tool seems to be designed for writing content for the web, and leaves something to be desired for editing documents to be printed on dead trees (e.g. paper).  Google expects you to edit CSS and use javascript to do some of the functions you know and love like modify styles and other functions.  The tool is probably OK for basic correspondence, but where the form of the correspondence is important, this one leaves something to be desired.
    • The Google presentations tool  is pretty compelling, but the lack of meaningful support for styles without being a web programmer just isn’t going to be enough for most office workers to change .

It's clear that there is a role for style in computing, and Google Apps clearly needs a new pair of shoes (and a wardrobe).

How about you, readers.  What are you working on, and what have you learned lately?  You can read more of the stuff I’m reading by following me on Twitter.  For more, visit twitter.com/bftcpa

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