Software roundup

I enjoy experimenting with new software  just to see what people come up with. There’s just so much unknown software to discover. I suspect most people find something they like and then stick with it until it doesn’t work anymore, but there’s something to be said for proactively replacing your software and searching for better things. Here are some things I’ve taken a liking to recently.

New iPhone OS: Apple released version 3.0 a few days ago. It’s been all positive so far. I get spotlight search for the phone, the keyboard feels more responsive, it finally has copy and paste, Youtube appears to have higher quality, and a slew of other features. (Also MMS which I don’t really need in Japan).

GWT: I started playing with the Google Web Toolkit just for fun. For those who don’t know, it’s an API for developing AJAX based web applications using pure Java, which is then compiled to client side Javascript and a Java servlet. It turns out I can be extremely productive with it – I found that it lets me develop fairly advanced web applications using my existing skills. There’s a very high reward/effort ratio that makes me excited. It feels like I don’t need to learn Ruby on Rails properly when I have GWT given that I’m very comfortable developing in Java.. but we’ll see.

Fluid.app: A web browser enhancement for the Mac that allows you to create separate “applications” from web sites you visit often. This means they will show up in the task bar and application switcher, have their own icon, and occupy less screen space. It sounds simple, but it’s a revelation. (And if you’re like me, you tend to have 15+ tabs open in your web browsers constantly, which is a poor way of managing windows).

Chandler: Like many others, I found out about this little calendar and note manager by reading Scott Rosenberg’s Dreaming in Code , which chronicled the misfortunes of an open source startup project. It went 1.0 last year after many years of development. The impression you get from the book is that the developers had a lot of bad luck despite setting out with the right ambitions. This is now an old debate, but the tool is actually usable today – I’ve been using it every day to manage myself for 3 months. Aside from slight bugs, it feels very smart sometimes, thanks to its unique user interface and features.

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