Web 2.0

Gotta love the latest crop of “Web 2.0” applications. What does that mean? Simply put, these are applications that are entirely driven in a web browser. Web-based applications have been around forever, but “Web 2.0” applications are prettier, friendlier and in most cases use what’s available in modern browsers out of the box (Internet Explorer 5 need not apply). No pesky ActiveX controls or plug-ins to install. Who cares what OS you’re using as most of these applications work in Internet Explorer 6+, Firefox or Safari.

Some of the keywords to look for nowadays are “XML” “Ajax” and “Ruby on Rails.” You don’t have to have a clue as to what these technologies do, I certainly don’t. But what you usually get are very elegant and approachable web services. The big difference is that what you see on the screen is generated on the fly. Rather than taking in a whole bunch of ‘Input’ -> ‘Process’ -> ‘Spit out Result’ -> ‘Input’ -> ‘Process’ (repeat) a so-called “Web 2.0” application takes and processes the input mostly at the same time. This creates a fluid, individual experience. [O’Reilly has a much more involved explanation](http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html). Just about anything out of [Google](http://www.google.com) these days is “Web 2.0.”

Besides [Gmail](http://www.gmail.com), among my favorite of these new breed of applications are [Basecamp](http://www.basecamphq.com) for project management and [Backpack](http://www.backpackit.com). Both are from [37Signals.com](http://www.37signals.com). [A Venture Forth](http://www.aventureforth.com) has [two](http://www.aventureforth.com/2005/09/06/top-10-ajax-applications/) [posts](http://www.aventureforth.com/2005/09/16/top-10-ajax-applications-part-2/) listing some of the best examples of these web-based applications (focusing on Ajax). [Here’s another list of what’s out there now](http://www.wsindex.org/Web_2_0/).

I’m now trying [Remember the Milk](http://www.rememberthemilk.com) which is a *free* to-do list manager. I still haven’t found a task manager I’m completely satisfied with. Too much of my to-do list is me in the shower asking myself, “What am I supposed to do today?” and hoping nothing falls through the cracks.

What I really like about RTM (as opposed to 37Signal’s Backback, TaDa Lists, Outlook or the other applications I’ve tried) is that you can email tasks to an address and they automagically appear in RTM. And you can have reminders sent to via AIM *and* email. So if you don’t have the website right in front of your face, you’re still getting done what you need. Backpack has some of this, but the to-do list in RTM allows for due date setting in real language (I can type “next monday at 3 pm” and it will put in the correct date & time) and repeating tasks. You can also have reminders sent to your phone via SMS. I don’t need percentage complete or grouping…just simple “what’s on my plate” today management.

The only thing I would prefer in these applications is the ability to store the data on a local server. These companies go out of business or have a server crash and I don’t know what I have due next week. Plus…I’m careful to only type info that I wouldn’t die if it were posted on a public bulletin board. If someone cares that I need to update a website or finish a document, so be it. These sites say that they’re secure and they protect privacy, but one can’t be too careful.

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4 responses to “Web 2.0”

  1. Judi: on one of the lists I subscribe too Steve Bass of PC World fame has this tip for a To-do Manager called Evernote. You may want to check it out.
    “About a year ago, I told you about EverNote. I said: “EverNote Competes with MS’s OneNote: Evernote’s a nifty-looking note taking and idea-jotting-down product albeit it seems overly difficult to master. But the beta if free and if you sign up for the beta, you’ll eventually get a free version…

    The final version is available and it’s free. They plan to make money with the pro version that works with tablets and other writing devices. I doubt that’ll happen, but who knows, maybe MS will buy the company.

    The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg likes it You can read his review at http://ptech.wsj.com/archive/ptech-20050811.html >.

    Anyway, I was heading out to Costco, Peets, and Whole Foods, so I thought it’d be neat to cook up a quick shopping list with EverNote.
    I downloaded and installed it, and at first thought the interface was still a little intimidating. But after a few minutes of fiddling, things began to slowly fall into place. After another few minutes, I created a to-do list, but also realized that I’m just scratching the surface — there’s lots more to this program.

    If EverNote sounds interesting, give it a whirl: http://snipurl.com/EverNote1 >
    Steve “

  2. hi there…
    I was looking for some info on Ruby on Rails and stumbled upon your site…
    I’m currently doing some research on this topic cos I find it pretty fascinating…
    just thought I’d let you know that a good place you might wanna check out for more info is http://www.blinklist.com
    they’re building an info base for Ruby On Rails… it’s growing by the day, and they’re resources are pretty impressive…
    check it out when you have some free time… and do feel free to contribute if you have some good sources for Ruby on Rails.. I know a few people who are anxious for good sources already, including me! 😉

  3. Rick, I already own and use Microsoft OneNote, but the EverNote site mentioned the Graphire 4 tablet. I had no idea that was out. When my mouse died last week I was looking all over for a 4×5 Graphire tablet and I couldn’t find it, this explains why!

  4. Rishaad…Blinklist looks interesting. Like to-do lists, I’m always looking for the perfect way to organize links and bookmarks. It’s certainly prettier than del.ico.us and I like that you can backup what you’re feeding it. Thanks!