Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 5: More Calendar Woes

As often as I hear people complaining about the Google Calendar, I'm having much more difficulty with Zoho's. Meeting times are in half-hour increments, and there are no settings to change this. I can't schedule my class at 9:10 or 10:40. The calendar can't work in my situation and I've had to move back to Google's calendar.

Not having all the apps in one place is really going to hurt Zoho's interest for me.

On the other hand, Google started offering offline access to the calendar yesterday. I noticed it when I logged in, clicked the link, and was finished. Zoho has offered offline access for its suite for some time, but I'm not clear on which apps that includes. I'll look into it.
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Monday, March 2, 2009

Day 2:, a Firefox Add-on for music

I ran across when looking for a better music situation than I had the last time I went "OS-free." As the name suggests, it is a Firefox Add-on for which will play artists and neighborhoods. It even does searches of past plays from the Awesome Bar. The setup is simple and it just works. Happy, happy me!
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Day 1: Impressions of Zoho

I had my first full day working in Zoho, mostly using the calendar and spreadsheet application, and I came to some conclusions:
  • The interface is remarkably fast -- much moreso than Google's apps.
  • The calendar is fancy, featuring drag-n-drop, yet it lacks certain advanced features that Google's calendar has -- namely, the repeating event dialog is much more limited.
  • The event creation in the calendar isn't well designed. If I click the calendar in "Repeat until," shouldn't the radio button be selected instead of leaving the selection on "Never?" When I choose a contact under "Invitees," why should I also have to click ">>" to add him/her?
  • The spreadsheet has some annoying bugs. It hung on my once. Row numbers don't line up with the rows themselves in some cases.
  • The interfaces aren't similar between applications. I have the same complaint about Google. It makes sense that the name change dialog, for instance, should be the same across all the document-using apps. Writer has a tabbed document interface. Sheet doesn't. The other file functions (Open, Save, etc.) are also all in different places.
  • Apps nicely remembers what documents I have open when I switch to and fro.
  • Gmail doesn't like being in a frame, so it won't work when added as a Zoho app. Yahoo! Mail, however, does.
  • Wiki is much less powerful than Google Sites is. Sites integrates well with other Google Apps, allowing you to insert documents, pictures, and videos (although it won't help you set the proper sharing settings on documents you share, possibly leaving the page blank...).
  • I didn't spend a lot of time screwing around with getting the interface to work for me like I did with Google. The dashboard already does that for me.
I did some reading and watched some videos on the Zoho site. The marketing ("evangelist") team says that 2009 is the year that will see much more intergration between apps. Zoho needs this. For that matter, so does Google. I don't see any reason to have lack of integration in an on-line apps suite. You know that the user will have access to all the applications, and they are one platform -- they should present the same loon and feel, interoperate well together, and re-use as much information as possible. Google is half way down this road already, and Zoho is just starting the journey. I look forward to a couple of years from now, when the integration is complete.

Zoho offers offline use with Google gears, alread installed on my machine.

Off the topic of Zoho, I installed Open IT Online. The site says:
Thanks to Open IT Online users can choose to use different online services to open their documents and images: the most popular are Google Docs, Zoho and Vuzit for documents; Pixlr, Picnik and Snipshot for the images.
This Firefox add-on will help me with limiting my file manager use.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Zoho Experiment

It's the first day of the new semester, and I've determined to do another 30-day test, this time with Zoho. The same rules apply as before --
  • I'll do all my work online.
  • I can't use any local apps other than a browser and a file manager.
  • I should try to avoid using a file manager where possible and instead work with files completely online.
  • I will prefer Zoho applications over other choices.
I expect that using Zoho will be easier than using Google Apps was because outside services can be added to the Zoho interface. I can't really switch to Zoho e-mail for all my work, so I'll still be using Gmail, though I'll try to limit it.

The first thing that I'll mention is how much more like an integrated application Zoho feels than Google does. I've been using Google Apps for over a year now, so I'm pretty used to it, but there's no real dashboard (iG doesn't make the cut). Zoho has a nice menu and even has the "desktop" which summarizes all your important information.

Zoho offers the following services in the "Personal" edition:
  • Mail
  • Calendar
  • Documents
  • Desktop
  • Writer
  • Sheet
  • Show
  • Meeting
  • Wiki
  • Tasks
  • Notes
  • Links
  • Contacts
  • Notebook
These are all descriptively named. I didn't originally get that Sheet was the spreadsheet, though I'll never forget that now, and I had to look at desktop to understand what it did, but the learning curve is very slight.
The applications all appear to be more like their desktop equivalents than the Google Apps do. This will make learning the new application easier, but I suspect that Google is embracing the online aspect of the suite more than Zoho is. Zoho's visually attractive aspect comes at a price with regard to the speed, too.

Since Zoho supports posting blogs from Zoho Writer, I'll be using that from this point on.

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