Tag Archives: Klip

Watching the World Cup on a Widget

Opera 9 is officially out today, so perhaps now is as good a time as any to offer some FIFA World Cup 2006 plugins:

For Firefox there’s

  • FootieFox, which has actually been around for a year or so. Nice and small, it displays any soccer scores (not just those of the World Cup) in your status bar, and even gives visual and acoustic notification when goals are scored. It also provides a customisable skin, according to your team of preference. Kick-off times in local time, world cup teams in local language:
    Footie1
  • Joga – a slightly fancier offering from Google and Nikefootball, Joga is community of soccer players dedicated to keep the game beautiful. It offers a sidebar that provides updated scores, as well as videos and “communities”:
    Joga1

Both expect you to know your country flags, which is probably no bad thing. (FootieFox’s comparison of the two extensions is here. Certainly FootieFox seems to be lighter and faster.

For Opera there are a couple of widgets:

  • Goal 06 which gives you a desktop window with access to all the usual information, plus photos etc. Seems a bit memory and CPU hungry. There’s a Mini version of this for your smart phone (just open your WAP browser and go to: http://mini.opera.com/goal/ and follow the instructions. The Goal 06 World Cup content is available in the site Bookmarked as “World Cup 06” in the Opera Mini home page.)
  • gCalendar World Cup edition which I must confess I didn’t really understand. Information with these widgets is minimal and barely intelligible. Grumble…

For Yahoo!, there’s a special Widget as well as some more basic (or out of date) ones. For Macs there’s a World Cup schedule widget which you can also get here. Microsoft has a Soccer Scoreboard, so long as you don’t mind validating your computer first.

For Google there’s a special news page module. There’s a collection of Klips if you’re into that. (Not quite as inspiring as I’d hoped; Klips, I thought, would be tailor made for the World Cup). For your Treo there’s the Football 2006 Manager, courtesy of Palm and TinyStocks (thanks, Mark), which is very cool but could be a lot cooler.

In fact, at the risk of sounding spoilt, none of these really jumped out at me. But if you’re working and can’t watch the games live, this might be a second best. Of course, there’s always the BBC website, which remains highly popular.

A Directory of Monitor Extenders

This week’s WSJ.com Loose Wire column (subscription only, I’m afraid) is on getting more screen for nothing:

People of the future will laugh at us for many reasons, no doubt, but one of the most likely sources of their mirth will be the miserly size of our computer screens. It isn’t that our screens haven’t gotten bigger, both in size and in what we can fit on them (this is the so-called resolution, allowing smaller fonts and images so we can pack more on, so long as our eyesight holds up).

I’ve written about the joys of having two monitors before, and I’m still surprised that very few people do it. Mind you, I was called a dinosaur yesterday by someone who has a 23” screen, so I guess I can’t get too snooty. Anyway, the column mentions a couple of programs you might want to try out:

  • MaxiVista ($30 from www.maxivista.com), which lets you use your network to extend your existing screen onto those of your other computers. It’s like buying a second or third monitor, but without actually having to, because you are using the screens you already have. I
  • Multiplicity ($40 to $70 from www.thinkdesk.net). Multiplicity does something similar to MaxiVista — corralling extra computers on your network — but instead of enslaving them to become one long screen for one computer, it creates a team of computers under one boss. In short, you control all the computers from one keyboard, and one mouse. (Update: The guys at MaxiVista tell me that their product does the same thing, but I haven’t tested this feature. Thanks, Mario)
  • For Mac and Linux users (and Windows users who don’t mind a less friendly interface, or don’t have any money) there’s Synergy, which does more or less what Multiplicity does.
  • And there’s also a Mac-only freeware program called teleport. (Thanks, Julian)

I’m now using Multiplicity to run a separate laptop next to my two-screen rig, which is running iTunes, my Skype stuff, as well as doing some backups, running my Klips among other things. Takes the load of the main rig, and yet I don’t have to move a muscle to run it.

Td

Then there are a few other bits and bobs you could try out to grab extra screen real estate.

  • If you do have two screens use Ultramon to control them. Adds some excellent management features to Windows rather basic support for more than one monitor. The guy who runs Ultramon also has an excellent resource page about multi-screen systems.
  • There are lots of Desktop Managers out there, which basically let you have lots of screens on one. Microsoft’s own version is called the Virtual Desktop Manager and it’s included in the PowerToys for XP. There are lots of others. I know some folk love these set ups but I’ve never gotten too excited about them. Sorry.
  • Another approach is WindowSizer, which gives you more control over how you manage and rearrange your windows. I love the idea but I’ve never quite mastered it. I’m still looking for a program that lets me organise my windows really easily and then remembers the layout until I tell it not to.

Blindsided by Google’s Sidebar

I’ve had the Google Sidebar aboard for nearly a month now and, sadly, I’m not impressed. I had hoped early teething problems would somehow fix themselves, but they haven’t. These are the problems I’ve encountered (some of which may be down to my own ineptitude, or conflicts I grant you):

  • unable to access Gmail account in Email Plug-in (password not recognised). Others report a similar problem;
  • unable to access AdSense account in third party Adsense Status plug-in;
  • Unable to ‘train’ News Plug-in so it gives me news I can use. I’ve been telling it what I don’t like by clicking on the ‘Don’t show me items like this’ for weeks now and it still gives me news even my broad interests don’t embrace;
  • The otherwise neat Todo Plug-in occasionally won’t allow me to add items — the box appears but won’t accept text.

I know we shouldn’t look gift horses in the mouth but this is one of the biggest (in terms of features and file size) pieces of software Google has shipped to consumers and it doesn’t bode well that it works so poorly. I think that, for what it was, the Desktop Sidebar was better. I also heard that Serence is planning a sidebar version of Klips that doesn’t take up as much space as the Google version. Watch this space.

Betting on Widgets

An interesting use of the KlipFolio desktop widget thing: Live Soccer Odds on Your Desktop

The free Live Soccer Odds Desktop Alert available now here, is the latest development in a comprehensive Gambling Guru Networks service that helps players more quickly find precisely what they are looking for and gives them access to live soccer match betting odds from the world’s premier soccer leagues.

“With Live Soccer Odds Desktop Alert, punters can now react to live soccer odds as they are published and monitor their favorite team using the integrated alerting tools,” said Dan Campbell, corporate Vice President for Information Technology at Gambling Guru Networks.

In short, this is an example of how these kind of desktop widgets can provide very specific, updating information that is relevant to the user. In this case, soccer betting odds.

Undermining the Browser

If it was from any other company it wouldn’t really matter, but Google’s Desktop Sidebar is important, not because it’s particularly new, but because it undermines the primacy of the browser.

Loose Wire ‘s WSJ.com column in June looked at desktop widgets like Konfabulator and Klips before, as well as existing sidebars like the Desktop Sidebar, put together in his spare time by software engineer Damian Kedzierski, 34, who lives in Katowice in southern Poland. Or the SpyderBar from New Orleans-based TGT Soft. In the longer term, Microsoft has indicated that it plans to incorporate a very similar approach in its next version of Windows. Yahoo!, of course, have already bought Konfabulator and I would be very surprised if someone doesn’t snap up Serence, the folk behind Klips, pretty soon.

That’s probably where the battle is going to be: the space on top of the browser. Google can find a way past Microsoft only if it’s able to supplant, or bypass, the browser as the main tool for not merely looking for information (like the search toolbar) but also how the information is displayed once it’s retrieved. That’s where the Sidebar comes in.

While I don’t think Google have done a particularly good job with the Sidebar. The weather widget, for example, only shows U.S. cities. There’s nothing new in there to surprise anyone who has used Damian’s Desktop Sidebar. But the power is not there, it’s in the fact that it channels all existing Google products — search, Gmail, presumably Google Earth etc later — straight to your desktop without going anywhere else first. The heat, finally, is on.

More On Klips

In today’s Asian Wall Street Journal and in WSJ.com (subscription only, I’m afraid) I talk about widgets as an alternative, or addition, to RSS. The two widgets, or dashboards, I look at are Klips, just into version 3, and Konfabulator (I know the latest Mac OS has a dashboard, but I don’t have access to a Mac right now, so I’ll take a look at that later).

Here are some of my favorite Klips:

  • Sun Cam: Not a webcam focused on Sun, but on the sun (although it’s throwing up a ‘CDD Bakeout’ message right now)
  • CustomWeather: displays seven-day extended forecasts for any one of over 58,000 locations around the world
  • Google News: gathers stories from more than 4,500 news sources in English worldwide
  • BBC klips: a whole bunch of them, from news to listings
  • TeleTrader Index Monitor: as Allan Wille points out in his interview, Europe is more excited about Klips than North America. This one lets you choose from the list of stock indices provided by (German stock website) TeleTrader AG and monitors each of those indices.

Would love to hear from folk who have their own favorites.

Interview With The Guy Behind The Klips

In today’s Asian Wall Street Journal and in WSJ.com (subscription only, I’m afraid) I talk about widgets — sometimes called dashboards — as an alternative, or addition, to RSS.

Here is the transcript of an email/IM interview I did with Allan Wille, president and CEO of Serence, the company behind Klips:

The new Folio looks good. what’s the main new feature in this version?

Based on customer feedback, mostly from Content Providers, images and a richer content experience were very key. Much of that had to do with increased branding capabilities as well. So images are likely the BIG feature in KlipFolio 3.0. Enterprise to a lesser extent were also asking for images – charts, graphs that can tie into CRM or other enterprise applications

 

why would someone go for Klips over an RSS reader or similar device?

We are positioning KlipFolio as a dashboard – a personal dashboard for consumers or an digital/business dashboard for enterprise. We are not an RSS reader, and I see our paths moving appart, such that the two products –KlipFolio and an RSS reader– can exist in parallel. Klips are intelligent agents, where the value lies in their ability to inform and alert users of complex data. Klips are very good at allowing personalization of content, and persenting users with alerts to critical data. Of-course Klips can do news feeds, but the differentiation there is less apparent, and in some cases, an RSS reader will do a better job.

 

You seem to have a lot of European users. is that right, and if so, any reason for that?

KlipFolio started to have sucess with a number of key German news outlets – Tagesschau, Heise, Spiegel Online etc … this started back in 2002, when RSS was not quite as hyped as it is today. I believe this gave us significant visibility among other content providers in Germany and Europe, and has led to a very large European userbase, and subsequently a good source of leads and customers. North America was hesitant to try new technologies and as RSS was adopted by more and more content providers in NA, Klips were caught in a difficult differentiation battle. With the features present in 3.0, wer are looking to overcome these challenges in NA.

 

You’ve been doing Klip for a while, and while as you know I’m a fan, it doesn’t seem to have caught on as I might have expected. I don’t see that many Klip buttons on websites. any thoughts on that?

When you compare the visibilty of Klips to RSS, you are quite right – it seems to be taking a back seat. It is important for us to continue to get the Klip buttons out there, as this is a major marketing program for us. Again, it is a question of differentiation, of added value over RSS. 3.0 will be addressing much of this, and we need to aggressively make sure we educate key content providers of the value – a trend we are seeing though is that the major content providers are contacting us not for simple Klip publishing, but more so for the development of branded desktop clients …

 

Related to the last one, where do you see the market for this? it seems to be different fields you’re playing to, from the RSS on a stick audience, to the secure corporate feeds…

Interesting question – our markets are (a) Content Providers (ie: CNET, Kluwer, Penton, Spiegel) for branded versions of KlipFolio (branded KlipFolio, downloadable from their sites, with their Klips bundled), (b) Enterprise (Wells Fargo, Advanded Telcom, Curtiss-Wright, NDR) who license KlipFolio Enterprise as an internal dashboard, and, (c) Application Vendors (Connotate, BizActions) who wish to OEM distribute KlipFolio as their own product, sublicensed to their customers (in other words a channel play). End users are not a market for us – they are a source of leads.

 

Critics might say that because its proprietary software, Klips are a step backwards, locking users and providers into something that’s Old Economy.. any thoughts on that?

It’s not proprietary. Anyone can build and publish Klips. We publish our APIs, and a full SDK free of charge, and with no need to register. We use XML and Javascript. Konfabulator, Apple dashboard, and Macromedia Central (or Adobe now …) are more like Flash (as a mini-application environment). I must say it’s very cool, and I have tried it a number of times, but the inconistency of the interfaces have ultimately gotten in the way. I do think it will attract a number of Content Providers due to it’s brandability.

 

Where do you see this space (Klips, but also RSS, Konfabulator etc) going? Do they at some point move off the desktop?

I see a clear short-term trend where RSS readers are going to be melded into browsers and email-clients. I see them as becoming more capable of rendering html (and soon video, and audio), where their value as an “alerting” tool become less apparent. I also would consider this a very dangerous time to be an RSS reader client company – even for the forerunners, I don’t see competitive advantage, or amongst themselves, competitive differentiation. Longer term, I believe RSS will become an important background technololgy — and enabler — much the same way html is today to the web. RSS will not be a house-hold name among the early majority and on. There will be readers and alerting tools on various platforms and form-factors (and likely powered by xml/rss/whatever), but people won’t be calling it rss.

 

What are the most exciting uses you’ve seen of Klips? How do you use them yourself?

On the consumer front, I find the email watchers (the hotmail, yahoo, gmail and pop3 mail) Klips to be very exciting – they are secure, access complex data and present users with dynamically generated setup options. One the enterprise front, two very interesting ones are a company that is using a Klip to alert their call-center agents of key data from their CRM system, and a bank who uses Klips as part of their work-flow system to increase productivity and review speed. Where the Bank’s internal processes saw documents, policies, forms, and client applications being worked on by many employees and managers, the current work-flow system put the onus of moving forward on the employees and manager’s shoulders and relied on email to notify them when a document was edited, or in need of approval. We improved on this process by working with their work-flow application where each individual user is now alerted to pending documents, policies and applications via KlipFolio – it’s relevant to what the manager or employee is responsible for, and a popup alert ensures they take action, and of-course with a single click from the Klip, they can jump right into the familiar work-flow system.

 

So far there are only a few 3.0 feeds. what else is in the pipeline, feed-wise?

We will be updating all of the email Klips, the stock tracker, eBay monitor Klips and as with Betanews, we are working with a handful of key content providers globally to update their Klips. In general we will be focusing our efforts on more service oriented Klips, and encouraging our community of developers to do the same – part of our efforts to differentiate.

 

How do you make your money from this? And how would you characterise the journey so far? I first wrote about Klips more than 3 years ago, and a lot has happened on the internet since then. Are Klips struggling to keep up with these changes?

The hype of RSS has both helped and distracted our progress. On the one hand, RSS has educated the markets, and generated interest in desktop alerting. On the other, RSS has made our position more difficult to define – educating the market that we are not an RSS reader, but rather an alerting dashboard targeted for commercial purposes. The markets are more conductive – more educated, more financially willing, and more competitively driven. Also, I truly believe that in our space – alerting dashboards – we are positioned as one of the best players.

I’m not sure it’s a matter of keeping up with RSS – we support RSS among other standards. One thing we have found is that real-customer deals are hard to find the closer you get to RSS – it’s a very early adopter marketplace – lots of hype, not much real value or money yet. As we distance ourselves from RSS we find the client conversation is more focused on solving real business needs.

As mentioned in an earlier answer, we target content providers, online retailers and premium content providers as our KlipFolio Branded customers; application vendors, service providers, ISPs as our OEM customers; and corporations as our KlipFolio enterprise customers. We have a solid base of customers in all three areas and (with out venture funding I might add) are profitable.

You are right – lots has happened, but I think the interesting stuff is yet to happen. Same goes for Serence …

 

 

Thanks, Allan.

The Klip Marches On

Serence, the company behind the RSS-like Klip, is about to launch a new version, which offers some interesting new features that could well give the standard a bit more edge in the face of the RSS revolution. Indeed, given that practically any RSS or Atom feed can be read in Klip form, one could argue that Klips are just a better way to read RSS. (Here’s an earlier posting on Klips.)

KlipFolio version 2.6, to be launched today (no URL available at time of writing), will include the following new features (I’m quoting from an email from Serence’s Allan Wille here):

  • Networked and Local Data Access. A Klip can monitor an accounting database over a local network for changes, a shared network directory for updates, a remote directory via FTP, and a POP3 server for new email.
  • Real-Time Push. Klips can now receive updates via a real-time push from a remote server.  Real-Time push is vital for weather warnings, earnings alerts, stock trades, sports scores or any type of live-data. KlipFolio is now able to handle both push and pull depending on application.
  • New Mini-Toolbar. KlipFolio’s L-shaped Toolbar can now be collapsed to a small square … less intrusive and more flexible when placing it on the desktop.
  • New Klips. In concert with KlipFolio 2.6 comes a Hotmail inbox watcher, a POP3 email monitor, an FTP directory Klip and a Klip to keep an eye on local or remote file folders.

What does all this mean? Well, I guess Serence sees Klips as more flexible than RSS and other kinds of feeds, as well as being more secure. The press release, for example, portrays KlipFolio as “a world leader accessing and monitoring networked or local data-sources or applications” where “unlike other news and information monitoring applications that are limited to specific data formats, KlipFolio is an open platform that is extensible through thousands of pluggable, task-specific information services called Klips”.

This extensibility is backed up by what Serence bills as a as “Enhanced Security Model”, where “Serence can now certify and digitally sign Klips to enable advanced functionality … to prevent tampering by 3rd parties and provide end users with increased security.” So anyone can make a Klip but for them to be ‘official’ Serence would have to review them before any “digital signing”.

All this makes sense, although I can hear some folk complaining about the idea that the manufacturer of the software positioning itself as the authenticator of Klips. But so long as RSS feeds are easily absorbed into the KlipFolio world I can only see good things happening for both formats if a company like Serence is trying out new ways of pushing and pulling different kinds of data to the desktop.

A New Kind Of Klip

An alternative to RSS? Or an advance? Or can the two sit together?

Canada’s Serence will today announce a new version of KlipFolio, which describes itself as a a ‘uniquely powerful and globally-adopted information awareness and notification platform’ but could probably be better termed a variation of RSS that uses a proprietary software and a slightly more modular approach than most RSS fans are used to.

This new version of KlipFolio, 2.5, has advanced statistics for content providers, encryption for Klip data and some enhancements to the Klip software for end users, including audio alerts, scroll-bars and configurable fonts.

There are some advantages to some in using Klips over RSS or Atom feeds, and this seems to be the direction that Serence is taking: Corporate data, or any other material where the provider wants to ensure it doesn’t get into the wrong hands, and where the provider wants plenty of data back on who’s reading what, when and how much.

The small modular approach also lends itself to small chunks of deliverable data rather than the big grab-bag of news that RSS readers have become. This is something I’ve mentioned before.