Two Examples of Good Online Software

As I mentioned in my other blog, Loud Murmurs, next week I’ll be at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. Nevertheless, I’ve seen some web software, little things, that have really impressed me, and one of them was connected with the conference.

Here’s the first one:

The Developer Conference has a very full schedule of sessions, split into 3 tracks. They are all categorized, numbered, and described in detail on the Apple WWDC Web site. While most attendees will want to go to a lot of these 150+ sessions, that’s clearly not possible, and not every session will appeal to every attendee . In fact, the schedule has been in place for nearly a month. What’s been added is the following: You can now create a personalized schedule of sessions and labs that will find its way to your hands, where you’ll need it during the conference. Using the online Conference Schedule, you click a session or lab you’re interested in, then click on the Select button in its information pop-up. (you can also add sessions and labs from an alternate Sessions and Lab page, where sessions are grouped by track rather than by the schedule):

Click to see full version

After you’ve selected all of the sessions that you want, like this one:

Selecting a session in the Schedule

…you click a link, which downloads a URL to iCal, which then subscribes to that calendar:

The Link Subscribes you to the Schedule in iCal!

Then, when you then sync that calendar with your iPod or iPhone, you now have your personalized Conference schedule for each day on your iPhone:

After syncing, the sessions I selected show up in my iPhone. Fantastic!

The other web software that impressed me is the always-handy Internet Movie Database (IMDB). Whenever I’m stuck with that Now what other movie was that actor in?’ question or several like it, IMDB has been a godsend. While several sites are rolling out iPhone versions of the interface, IMDB does a spectacularly good job of it. The clear and sensible breakdown of an actor’s bio or film’s information lets you do that wonderful ‘swivel search’, where you can hop from actor to movie to cast to another actor to movie to director, etc. It keeps perfect track of your breadcrumb trail, and the performance, as well as excellent use of the ‘slide left’ animation for drilling down make it a real winner as an iPhone web app. I hope some of my other favourite sites roll out iPhone versions (Digg, Slashdot, Fark, BoingBoing and a bunch of other wonderful time-wasters, I hope you’re listening!)

3 thoughts on “Two Examples of Good Online Software

  1. Hi Im diego form chile, you post me on screenshot website , and I ever response a post…sorry for mi basic english by the way, I say Hello y gOOD BYE..i’m tired…;9

  2. What’s your take on the MobileMe, while we’re on the topic of online software. I’ve been a .Mac user for years, mostly for email and the iDisk, but I’ve always hated the web mail application and wanted a Google Cal style iCal program for when I’m away from my Mac.

    I’ve actually been thinking of dropping .Mac in favour of Google’s stuff and maybe some sort of online storage. It would be cheaper, but MobileMe seems like it addresses my major complaints.

  3. Hi Jeffery,

    And BTW, nice to meet you the other night – I didn’t put your face with your name until later…

    My take on Mobilme is that it will hopefully take some of the headaches out of email, contacts and calendaring (and the syncing of these, which I also do at present):

    First of all, the idea that you ‘check’ your email will eventually be only as relevant a phrase as ‘dialing’ a phone is today (we’ll still use it, but it may mean something slightly different). We have a lot of habits and rituals that are connected with the current limitations of email; when I get home or to a hotel room when I’m on a trip, the first thing I do is awaken (or startup) my laptop, connect to the Internet, and download email messages. Now, with email being pushed to all of my email devices at the same time, I may not have to do that same ritual, or at least, not need to find out what I have waiting for me; rather to answer the messages that I couldn’t answer from my phone or any other computer I had access while out during the day.

    For contacts and calendars, the change will be less dramatic; no longer will I have to remember to re-enter an address, or to sync with .Mac. Anything I enter at all times into my calendar and contacts will go ‘into the cloud’, and subsequently get pushed down to all devices from there. Of course, this scheme does rely on a dependable, consistent Internet connection, but I’ve had a lot better success in that area here in Vancouver than I ever did in Boston.

    As for the offline storage, I’ve been quite happy with using iDisk as a way to shuttle files from a PC at work (when I was at IBM) to my Macs at home. I’ll probably keep using it that way, and being able to generate and email to have a file available for download by a friend or family member will be a nice addition.

    All in all, it looks slicker and more polished than Google’s offering (and more integrated into the OS – having the iDisk as a top level link always available in save file dialogs is always a nice amenity.) Still, polish isn’t everything, and Google Calendar, gmail, 30-boxes and some of the online file services are pretty good. Hopefully MobileMe will get the details right; for something like this, it’s what makes all the difference.

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