I, Robot Beta-tester

Do you have this itch in you to use the latest and greatest software (that’s a good thing) all the time? Do you have to download a 33 mb large setup file just because the version number changed from 4.56.34 to 4.56.35? Well I do.

I am proud to say that apart from Windows XP and Office 2007, all the software on my computer is Beta. Yes, all of it. Here are some of the software I actively beta-test.
WinAmp: One of the first pieces of software I beta tested, WinAmp will always be close to my heart. When it was first released, the media player was reputed for being able to play any file you threw at it. Over time it has become bloatware, complete with useless and resource hungry components. The lite install is still a very good try.

Opera browser: In my opinion, Opera is the greatest browser out there. Even the figures on the Wikipedia browser comparison page say so and I look forward to downloading the latest alpha builds as soon as they release.

TweetDeck: The only application in the Twitter-world that I truly find useful, Ian Dodsworth’s TweetDeck is the best there is. I have been on the mailing-list right from the early alphas, and I truly believe that this application has been revolutionary as against being evolutionary when compared to other Twitter apps.

Firefox: I will be honest, I am not really a Firefox fan. I think its bloatware. Having said that, I like to test out every alpha release to see if there are enough hooks for me to make it my primary browser. It can’t be that bad if so many people are using it! So far, I have been disappointed.

Internet Explorer 8: Inspite of all the hate, I believe Microsoft have made some big strides with Internet Explorer 8. The browser is slick, has some revolutionary features and renders pages faster than earlier versions. The clincher for me however is that the browser breaks tradition to render pages in strict HTML. When this browser is released to the masses, it will go a long way in ensuring that we don’t see any of the crap of websites being incompatible with browsers.

µTorrent: This is another piece of software that I am enthusiastic about. I believe that bittorrent technology will come into its own in 2009. Especially as broadband penetration increases. Get ready to see more desi content on Mininova (its already happening, actually). This will surely heckle the Bollywood industry and it will be interesting to see its fallout.

RescueTime: is a web-based time management and analytics tool for knowledge workers who want to be more productive. It sits on your system tray and tracks what you are doing on the computer. This data is then uploaded to the cloud from where you can analyse how much time you spend on which app or site. RescueTime is most definitely my ultimate GTD tool.

Wow.. now that I have written this post, I realise that most of the software I beta-test is internet related! Not bad 🙂 What is your flavour?

Update: Since I have written this post, I have actively started testing Windows 7, Windows Live Writer and Fennec (in a virtualised environment)

j j j

World of My Own

Quite a bit has happened in the last few days! Since I have started using my old phone, I have more respect for SE than Nokia… their usability standards are wayyy up there with the very best. The community help and participation is wide and I have always gotten help for any issue I have faced. Nokia however, is a totally different story. The Nokia Developer Forum is in a state of limbo, other sites have Nokia focused communities but most of the help you get there for the N-Series models is very basic and lame. This is because of the closed nature of the phone. You really can’t do much about it, you can’t enter the developer mode, you can’t play around with the OS, can’t modify, can’t get to the OS files… nothing. Kinda sucks when you think about it.

I got a haircut done. This time it’s a mohawk. I went to my barber (how rudimentary, am sure he’d cringe at the word, so lets call him hair stylist!) initially and asked him to give me a really short crop so I can bear the summer heat. In that spur of a moment, I asked for a ‘spike cut’. He gave me his patented WTF look and told me that this was not 2005… and persuaded me to get the mohawk, so the mohawk it was then.

I want to change the blog design too. Firstly, remove the freaking Twitter RSS feed injection but I have forgotten the service I used to do it in the first place so I’ll have to find a workaround for the same. Then I want to make the blog posts more scalable and use full screen space rather than a fixed width. I don’t want to mess with the one-column design or the colours as I think I have reached an optimal there. Lets hope I don’t run into any complications while making these changes!

The family gathering is scheduled on the weekend and I hope it goes well. Many friends from my school, college and work circles are joining Twitter and I can see them all mingle. Its like the line between all these circles is now slowly getting blurred and being ‘social’ is certainly helping!

I stopped using Google Reader and have been testing Feed Demon since yesterday. I am glad to say that I have been a complete dunce for not trying offline RSS readers out in the first place. The first thing I noticed was how time zones affect the content upgrade on various websites. Now, most websites that I follow are in the western hemisphere and it was fun to see how their feeds were getting updated at around 10-11am their time, there. Then in the morning, I could see how the Indian websites were getting updated around the same time. I could never get this level of real-time update notification with Google Reader and I realised that the best time to update one’s site is around 8am, so that the Google Reader has at least 2 hours to pick up your feed and the subscriber gets to read absolutely fresh content when he logs in, in the morning. Also like the way Feed Demon syncs between the work and home computers. I thought I’d have to install it in DropBox but this functionality – being inbuilt – is impressive.

Guess I better get going now and get the blog update fixed. Ta ppl! See you on the other side of this weekend!

j j j