Daily Archives: May 3, 2009

Keypoint – web slideshows for the iPhone

Ever wanted to build a slideshow on your iPhone?

keypoint-sim.png

Well, Keypoint is a webapp, so it means I can’t sit here on my flight into Dallas this afternoon and build a presentation… besides, I have Keynote on the Mac to do that. But if I didn’t have the laptop with me, and I had access to a network, then I’d definitely play around with Keypoint. Open Safari on your iPhone and navigate to http://keypointapp.com so give it a try.

Keypoint is a beautiful, simple application that just works. You sign up on the site, and from then on the user interface is delightfully simple. You can choose from one of a limited number of templates and themes, and then quickly add text to your slides (not great for those into picture-heavy slideshows like me, I’ll admit… but great if you want to quickly summarise a series of points). You can play the slideshow by rotating the iPhone and swiping through them – no animation effects, but that’s not a big issue.

The best part is that you can share your slideshow online by sending an email to friends with a link showing where to find it so they can flip through an HTML slideshow… or, you can export it as a Keynote file and email yourself a copy! It lacks the richness of an ordinary Keynote presentation, of course… but the very fact that you can do this is just stunning to me.

keypoint.png

Here’s a very simple demo I recorded using the iPhone Simulator and iShowU:

Socialising with geeks – My developerWorks

I spend a lot of my time talking to IBM customers, prospective customers, and, well, anyone who will listen, really, about how social software and social networks have transformed the way I work and connect with others – both in my job, and my daily life. In many ways it’s a disproportionate amount of time – my day job does not strictly focus on social software, and I’m not in our Lotus brand where this kind of thing would be my bread-and-butter. The point is that I’ve gained a lot from my early adopter status, I have compelling examples to share (I hope), and I’ve followed IBM’s trajectory in this space very closely. Best of all, I’m invited to talk about this stuff.

You may be aware that our process around a lot of the social software space has developed from our Technology Adoption Program – after proving that an enterprise blogging platform (BlogCentral), rich user profiles (our Bluepages internal directory), enterprise social bookmarking (Dogear) and other services worked on a large scale inside the company, we released Lotus Connections, an enterprise social software platform built from these innovations.

My two worlds have now come together. I have a lot of interaction with IBM customers and folks who develop using our technology, and I’ve been a long-term advocate of IBM developerWorks, since before I joined the company, in fact. I’m the first to admit that sometimes our product documentation lacks examples or can be a tricky read, but developerWorks consistently delivers great content by developers, for developers, which I always find hugely useful.

Over time we’ve opened up developerWorks to increasing amounts of interaction. There have been forums for a long time. Last year we introduced developerWorks Spaces, which enabled users to form their own interest groups and build customisable portals for sharing data. Last week it was time to put Lotus Connections into developerWorks (or is that the other way around?!), which led to the creation of My developerWorks – now anyone can sign in with their IBM ID, create a profile, make connections with friends or those with similar interests, and track and share their content. ReadWriteWeb describes it as “the world’s geekiest social network”. You know what? I don’t mind if it is…

There’s a great, short podcast on the usability and design experience behind My developerWorks on the developerWorks podcast channel. Oh, and if you’re a member, come and connect with me!

Evernote – a bigger brain?


CC image thanks to Jason Tester via Flickr

One of my favourite amusing and simultaneously most cringe-inducing moments as a consultant came a number of years go, shortly after I started doing middleware consultancy. It had been a long week on a hectic, high pressure project. I was part of a team helping to design and implement a new system. The system design had been debated over and over again, and some of the basic technology principles had been described just as many times. Eventually the lead architect snapped, and without either meaning to (or possibly, without realising what he’d done in that moment) turned to the project technical lead and said “sorry, but come back when you’ve got a bigger brain!”. There was a stunned silence in the room… fortunately it was all pretty good natured as it was a friendly team, but it’s just… not the sort of thing you expect to happen.

The moment came back to me while I was listening to a recent podcast, which interviewed the CEO of Evernote. Evernote is a note taking application available on Windows, Mac and iPhone (other platforms to come) which lets you synchronise thoughts, ideas, photos and memories between devices. It has been around for a year or so now… the obvious thing to describe it as is a cloud service, since your stuff gets sync’ed through the cloud, but it seems as though it has been around longer than the term itself – maybe I’m imagining it.

Actually the description I just gave of Evernote doesn’t really do it justice. It’s far more than a way of syncing simple notes. It has text recognition in images, so you can actually search for text inside the images you add to Evernote. You can grab pieces of web pages on your desktop and paste them into Evernote. You can make voice notes. You can take photos of business cards to remember and index people. It’s very clever.

I struggle to use it though… I can see what a great idea it is, but it’s rare that I physically remember to put notes in there. Since I’m at a conference this week, it seems like I should be using it as a scrapbook a lot more, but I think it will take discipline.

Why did the interview about Evernote remind me of my consulting story? Well, simply that the CEO describes it as his “bigger brain”, and their ambition to be the place where your external memories or brain overspill ends up. It doesn’t quite map to the original anecdote, as that was really a matter of frustration of lack of understanding of a concept, rather than simply the ability to remember facts – but the words struck a chord.

The moral of the story is – don’t forget anything, just use Evernote. As long as you remember to keep using it… or something.