Wednesday, February 21, 2007

YourMinis...a flashy, widgety start page

I recently discovered YourMinis, a Flash-based start page/RSS feed reader/widget platform. My first impression is favorable, but time will tell if it deserves a space as my browser's home page.

What I like:

  • Easy RSS feed addition

  • OPML file import/export

  • Interesting widgets built in (calendar, Gmail, clock, to-do list, Digg feed, calculator, notes, bookmarks, full browser, search, video, etc.)

  • Beautiful default look

  • Drag & Drop windows, lock 'em down, change opacity, colors, etc.

  • Publish your "minis" or your whole tab of minis.

  • Social feel. Very Web 2.0.

  • Multiple tabs

  • Inline web browser makes loading a news story convenient

  • The ability to load any image as my tab's background

My questions:

  • Is Flash going to be too heavy for my browser's start page?

  • Are more interesting widgets coming?

  • Do we need another widget platform? Can't we all just get along?

  • Will we be able to further customize the look of our minis, or the basic mini windows?

So far, I really like what I see. It feels more polished to me than Netvibes or Pageflakes. They apparently have over 800,000 users so far, which is not bad, but still lags behind their competitors. But I still question the use of's a great tool, but there are many people who would prefer to stick to standard HTML for a much lighter weight start page. We'll see!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why I hate Apple

For those of you who know me, you've undoubtedly heard me say bad things about Apple computers, and probably think of me as a PC fanboy, or simply an Apple bigot. Let me explain my reasons, and say some things you may find surprising.

First, I started hating Apple way back when they were a small, proprietary hardware shop with an OS that was very closed to tweakers. Back then, it made sense to dislike them because anyone savvy with computers knew that an open hardware architecture meant you could do lots more, and the Mac of the day was anything but open, not to mention how much more money the hardware cost. PC's were cheap, modifiable, expandable. No brainer for me.

Apple floundered for a while to the point where I was getting ready to celebrate their demise. But then they had a turnaround (in part due to the success of the iPod), Steve Jobs rejoined, the fanatics rejoiced, and Apple actually did something I never thought possible: they switched their OS from a proprietary system to a UNIX based system which is much more open, mature, and expandable. Apple added their lipstick and made it pretty. Contrary to what you may think, I have always appreciated Apple's design skills. Their stuff always "looked" good.

My opinion of Apple, at this point, raised significantly and I now actually respect them for this decision. So why do I still dislike them in general?

First, the company is "elitist". What do I mean by that? Well, their attitude is basically "Our shit don't stink". That by itself is not a big deal, since they are a company and are entitled to profess their greatness. But they do take it to extremes, with Steve Jobs acting as the savior, prolonging and hyping product releases until people salivate and their heads explode. And those commercials, although funny, position Apple as the "cool" computer, and PC's as "nerds".

Ok, so the company is a little bit snobby, and I *could* look the other way, but what really grinds my gears are the elitist Apple "fanboys". Yes, that term gets tossed around a lot these days, but a fanboy is a good term for the most die hard of Apple worshippers. Now, I have lots of friends who use Macs, and are NOT fanboys. They simply use it because it's the best tool for them. Fanboys are the ones who look down on PC users and let them know it. They are the ones who "ooooh" and "ahhhh" when Jobs pulls a Shuffle out of his pocket. They are the ones who abbreviate Microsoft as M$. They are the ones who blindly buy anything and everything Apple just because it is made by Apple. They are, quite frankly, akin to religious zealots who can never have their faith thwarted. Honestly, these people give a decent platform a bad least to me.

For example, I went to an Apple store to look for a case for my iPod (yes, I have an iPod and I DO like it), and the person behind the counter was a total fanboy snob. I simply asked if they had any other cases other than what was on the wall, and he gave me a look that said "omg, I can't believe how big an idiot you are, Mr. Uncool geek", and actually said to me, in a mildly condescending tone, "If it's not on the wall we don't have it", and then just walked away, all bothered. I felt like saying "get a real job", but held back.

For those that will inevitably tell me that Macs are just better than PC's because "they just work" or "they are virus free", well, you can all just eat me. Yes, I agree the Mac arguably has a better user interface. Yes, it does work well and it IS a solid machine. And YES, it has less viruses (because it has a lower market share and is therefore less of a target). But, NO it is NOT the platform of choice for anyone who considers themseleves gamers. And NO, it is not cheaper than comparably equipped PC's, although it has made strides in that direction. And NO, they are not perfect. Neither are PC's. Far from it.

But I will always be a PC guy as long as Windows remains the market leader. Compatibility with the rest of the world is useful. And yes, I know that the Mac can output Word files, write Excel spreadsheets, read email as good as any PC. But where do you go if you need any sort of tech support? It's a bit harder to find that geek friend who can help you with your computer if what you have is a Mac. Sure, the numbers are growing, but let's face it. Right now, the industry standard platform for most businesses (as well as the gaming industry) is Windows on a PC.

My bottom line here is that I respect the quality of Apple products, but severely dislike the environment in which the company and fanaticism from a crowd of sheep who think the company can do no wrong. Again, not everyone who uses a Mac falls into that category...but enough do to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

With that, I leave you with one of my Zazzle creations: