Mar 6 2009

Readability Bookmarklet

I’ve previously mentioned Instapaper on this blog – a fantastic service that lets you easily mark web pages to read later. One great Instapaper feature is that it provides a ‘text-only’ view of any page you bookmark, removing any clutter surrounding the body of the article. I often find it difficult to read from a computer screen for long periods of time; any superfluous ‘debris’ is likely to distract me and I also find shorter lines of text much easier to read than long ones – so this feature is very welcome.

The guys at arc90 have taken this idea and produced a simple bookmarklet that sits in your bookmarks bar, with the aim of making almost any web page ‘readable’ with just one click. It doesn’t work with every website, as it has to try and work out where the main content of a page is, and some sites prove a bit too tricky. When it does work, it’s great for pages that I’m finding difficult to read, but don’t want to add to my Instapaper queue.

Readability – Read comfortably anytime, anywhere. from Arc90 on Vimeo.

You can get the bookmarklet here: http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/ (you can also customize it to your needs), and read arc90’s blog entry about it here: http://lab.arc90.com/2009/03/.

Jan 16 2009

What The Font for iPhone


WhatTheFont is a fantastic online service that helps you identify fonts. Simply upload a picture, tell it what the text you’ve uploaded says, and WhatTheFont should come back with some suggestions as to what the font might be.

MyFonts have just released WhatTheFont for iPhone, which makes it really easy to identify fonts on the go. Just snap a picture, highlight the text, and WhatTheFont will provide you with a list of similar fonts. You can then e-mail information about the found fonts to yourself in a couple of taps.

The app seems a little glitchy in places (in particular when ‘merging’ characters together), and is thrown off a little by bad lighting – but the font matches it finds seem pretty accurate. Best of all, it’s free.

via SwissMiss

Jan 16 2009

Instapaper

Instapaper is a really simple way to save web pages for reading later. They give you a little bookmarklet which you can stick in your browser’s bookmarks bar. Then, if you get to an article/page online that you don’t have to time to read just now, click the bookmark and the page will be added to your Instapaper list. Instapaper stores a link to the web page and also creates an easy-to-read text-only version of the page. This is especially handy for reading on the go, with the help of their iPhone application.

I’d certainly recommend it, and it seems everyone else loves it too.

From a web usability point of view, the site is incredibly easy to use. In particular, I really like the signup form:

 

 

 

 

 

 
You don’t even have to set a password! (Although you can later, once you’ve made the account). The barrier-to-entry here is so low, and it’s so easy to get started. It’s a refreshing change from pages-long signup forms that want your name, address, phone number, height, shoe size, favourite flavour of crisps… and something I think more sites should try and aspire to. As Luke Wroblewski says: Signup Forms Must Die!

Jan 15 2009

Dropbox

 

 

 

Dropbox describe themselves as the ‘easiest way to share and store your files online’, and they’re not far wrong.

You simply install a small Dropbox client on your computer (available for Mac, Linux, and Windows), which runs in the background. This’ll give you a Dropbox folder, which is where the magic happens. Drop any files into this folder, and they’ll be whisked across the internet and synced to Dropbox’s servers. If you make a change to any files in your Dropbox folder, the changes will be synced automatically (and just those changed bytes are transferred – which is really nice if you work with big files). And, because these changes are tracked, Dropbox does version control on your files – you have access to every version/change that you’ve uploaded! Accidentally deleted your important report? Never mind, grab yesterday’s copy! So, if nothing else, this is a nice way to seamlessly backup your files remotely. But what if you want to access them from another computer?

If you install the Dropbox client on another machine, your changes will get pulled down to that computer. Then, any changes you make on either machine will get pushed across to the other one – two folders on two different computers, both exactly in sync, without you having to do a thing!

What if you’re on a machine that doesn’t have Dropbox installed? Simple – you can use the fancy-pants web interface to access all of your files. There’s even have an iPhone-optimized version, so all your files are available on the go.

And how about sharing these files? Well, you have shared folders – you can either add other Dropbox users as collaborators (so the files will be synced to their computers) or for non-Dropbox users you can simply send them a hyperlink to a file, which they can download through their browser. If you send a link to a folder of photos, Dropbox will give it a photo gallery web interface!

It all seems very secure, too – files are AES 256 encrypted, and transferred using SSL. Dropbox opened to the public back in September 2008. You get 2GB of storage for free, and if you want more it’s around $99 a year for 50GB. For more information, take a look at a tour of Dropbox and the video on their homepage.