I’ll just lift the description off the Google Browser Sync page :P

Google Browser Sync for Firefox is an extension that continuously synchronizes your browser settings – including bookmarks, history, persistent cookies, and saved passwords – across your computers. It also allows you to restore open tabs and windows across different machines and browser sessions.

I don’t think I need to further expand on that. :P I have yet to try it out, but will do so shortly since I frequently switch between my desktop and notebook and could be a better option to my current setup of using Syncback to do the synchronisation/backups between the two for the browser side of things.

Google Spreadsheets on the other hand allows you to create, store and share spreadsheets. Currently still under Google Labs, it’s aimed more towards those who constantly send spreadsheets to and fro via email. You can apply to try it out here. A writeup on it can be found here.

The first public beta of the next release of Microsoft Windows is finally out. You can get more info on it here. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to download it as the servers are probably flooded. :( I’ll probably download it after my exams are over..

Gmail caused a storm when it was launched by Google 2 years ago offering 1GB of space (now in excess of 2.7GB) and having a really slick interface. I’ve stuck to it ever since I got my invite and apart from a few disruptions, it has been the best webmail interface I’ve used so far. Invites are no longer scarce and you can even invite yourself over here.

The other 2 beta webmails I do use on and off are Windows Live Mail and Yahoo! Mail Beta. Both are invite only as well with overhauled interfaces to compete with Gmail.

Live Mail takes a lot of cues from Microsoft Outlook and is pretty decent but unfortunately I find the Internet Explorer-only requirement (loads up the standard Hotmail ‘classic’ interface if you use Firefox) and the ads at the top and right of the page a tad too annoying (no Adblock extension in IE7 :P).

Yahoo! Mail Beta on the other hand took their standard interface and attempted to remodelled it with a look similar to Yahoo! Messenger which in my opinion, made the standard non-beta look and feel a lot better. It feels sluggish overall, which is especially apparent when scrolling. There’s supposed to be an ad on the right hand side as well, but Firefox’s Adblock extension probably made it disappear. :P Here’s a trick you can use to invite yourself to try Yahoo! Mail Beta yourself taken from this page:

  • log in to Yahoo Mail
  • click Options
  • select Account information from the left panel
  • go to Member Information, General Preferences, Preferred Content
  • select, for example, Yahoo UK
  • click Finished
  • go to Yahoo Mail
  • you’ll see a page that says “It’s the New Yahoo! Mail Beta… and you’re invited.”
  • click on “Try Beta Now”.

Here are the screenshots of Gmail, Windows Live Mail and Yahoo! Mail Beta courtesy of Wikipedia.


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Windows Live Mail:

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Yahoo! Mail Beta:

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VMware now makes it extremely easy if you want to try out various ‘appliances’ on your current operating system (probably Windows) without requiring you to meddle with your current setup. All you need is to download and install the free VMware Player and then choose the appliance which interests you, download and load it up in VMware Player. You can then freely experiment with the appliance you have loaded up and easily throw it off when you no longer want it. ;)

SWT Designer has got to be one of the best visual composition editors for designing GUIs using Eclipse’s SWT (Standard Widget Toolkit). Due to the relative young age of SWT, there aren’t that many tools that have been developed for this as opposed to if you develop GUIs using the standard Java‘s AWT/Swing. Other tools which I’ve tried such as Eclipse’s Visual Editor project wasn’t that user friendly and pretty confusing to use (I probably will give it another shot again as I was hard pressed for time then :P) and didn’t support the new widgets our UI was going to have. Jigloo GUI Builder had the same issue of not having support for ‘ExpandBars’ and SWT GUI Builder doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2003.

IMHO SWT looks a lot better than Swing due to the way it retains the system’s look and feel instead of enforcing a standard (ugly) look over all platforms. It blends in nicely with other applications and doesn’t look out of place when being run with other applications.

However, it seems Microsoft is actually going away from that approach (or at least for some of their products for now). Their recent applications such as Windows Media Player 10/11, Windows Live Messenger have the option for the standard windowing to be hidden allowing the application to have menus, buttons, colour schemes that are totally disconnected from the underlying Windows’ theme.

So was Sun right after all in having a GUI which runs in its own shell without taking into consideration the native look and feel? Or is the reason because Sun’s Swing isn’t aesthetically pleasing? Although those applications by M$ looked fine on my Windows desktop, it probably would not have the same effect if it was run on a Mac OS X or Linux’s Gnome for example. Since Java applications are meant to be cross platform, I believe Eclipse’s SWT approach is the way to go.