The almighty FSM has finally answered my prayers and sent an invite for Netvibes‘ new iteration, “Ginger”, my way. You could of course argue that it was a member of Netvibes who sent this invitation my way, and that it was less my praying to the FSM and more my incessant begging all over the goddamn web. But that’s a technicality I’m not going to indulge in any further here. Lets move on to what Netvibes has created with Ginger:
First and foremost, you can now add a public page for yourself, humbly called “universe”.It’s a nice way of showcasing all your feeds and what else you’ve got going with that myriad of other services you’re probably using. Plenty of widgets like the Twitter or Skype ones will facilitate that. Well, here’s mine. When you’re having a look at it, don’t forget to note my last.fm widget, for it displays the groovy taste in music I undoubtedly have.
Another new feature, but not yet active, is a 2GB online space, letting you store mp3s, documents and whatnot. Like I said, not yet active, but showcased on the Netvibes blog here.
And since it’s web2.0 and nobody wants to do stuff alone anymore, Netvibes also enriched their service by adding contacts. Find out who’s on Netvibes and add them as contacts by importing from your address book or other services like Twitter and Flickr (I can’t wait for Open Social to make all that redundant). Save items from feeds and show them to your friends. Like so:
Whatever your friends or contacts are sharing you can view by clicking the “Activities” tab on the top bar of Ginger:
As I’m hugely unpopular and haven’t yet had time to trick and bully people into becoming my Netvibes “friends”, there’s nothing in that list yet. But I’m sure it will look quite awesome once there’s stuff in there.
That’s it for now.There’s a slew of other little changes, which you’ll be able to notice yourself either mid-February when Ginger will launch for everyone or sometime before that if you were able to shamelessly beg yourself into Ginger the way I did.
It’s not for nothing that I’m always as happy as a pup when I see that Google Reader is ready to serve me a new item from the Netvibes Blog. Because Most of the time, it’s an announcement about their service that just shows they really do work overtime to make it as perfect for people as possible.
Well, today was no different. In their latest blog posting, they announced even more ways of personalization options for their wildly popular starting page. Here’s what’s new:
Themes – While they already have a bunch of themes, it’s always nice to add even more options. Their new themes are quite colourful and add new looks to tabs. All have rounded corners of course ;). In addition to that, you can create your own custom theme, utilizing their other new feature:
Wallpapers – While they call this new feature wallpapers, it’s really more than that. You can add images to the top and bottom part of the portal, but you can always just change the colours of these areas, including text colours. As for the images, Netvibes provides a few stock images, but you can also add images from Flickr, MySpace, Twitter or even direct URLs.
As always, these changes are implemented quite elegantly and intuitively, demonstrating once again that while Netvibes may not have the cash of the big contenders (iGoogle or MyYahoo!), they sure do lead the pack when it comes to innovation and implementation. So basically, they do everything the others do, only better.
Once in a while I like showcasing new webservices I’m infatuated with. If you’ve come for the inane chatter usually prevalent in this spot, just skip this entry. More of that some other time.
The service I want to present today has been getting quite a bit of buzz lately, mainly because they’ve struck a few nice deals with other popular services. I’m of course talking about everyone’s darling web-storage company box.net (the really smart ones among you may have guessed that from looking at the picture in the top left corner). Now, what is so extremely nice about web storage? I mean, you don’t usually write an entry about that storage garage you’ve rented for your old furniture. Well, here’s the catch: it’s not simply web-storage, it’s web-storage in a web 2.0 manner (and it’s of course not furniture).
Web 2.0 you say? That buzz-word that’s been around for too long already? Well, yes, only that it’s not just a buzz-word but also an actual collection of distinct features. And these features can be observed in box.net, almost textbook style. Time for bullet points:
* Sharing: Yes, you can store your stuff and you can share it with your friends.
* Tagging: Although tags don’t get anyone excited anymore, they keep being helpful. Assign as many tags as you want to your files. That’s bound to make your life easier when you start having a lot of files stored.
* Ajax interface: A nice, clean interface sprinkled with piece of Ajax use. Very intuitive and lean.
* Rounded corners: No web 2.0 company can be taken seriously without them. Seriously. No, I really mean it.
Apart from these features, box.net also offers a bunch of other stuff that just make life easy (well, if your life consists of playing with web-storage services, but nevertheless). First of all, box.net offers 1 GB of free storage and 5 GB storage in their premium package. And if you’ve got a loyal circle of friends who don’t mind being spammed with invitations, you can actually be upgraded to their premium service simply by referring five friends. Even I managed to turn five people onto the service. And if I found five people, you can as well, trust me.
As I mentioned above, box.net is collaborating with a few other webservices, most notably Netvibes, the best of the starting pages currently around (here’s my entry about them from a while back). Thanks to their collaboration I can access the files I’ve got stored on box.net directly from withing my Netvibes starting page. Which is as easy as platform independent access to files can be implemented.
Overall it can be said that box.net is one of those services you never knew you’d need, but once you’ve used it for a while, you just won’t be able to do without.