App of the Week: join.me

More and more, meetings are being held over the Internet as a cheaper and more efficient way to get projects done and share ideas.  Likewise, screen sharing is becoming a greater part of these meetings.  And while some apps have screen sharing built-in, such as Skype, they just don’t hold up as well as dedicated screen sharing apps, which tend to cost a bit of cash.  So when I need to teach a lesson with screen sharing, I use join.me.

Join.me is a free screen sharing solution made by LogMeIn, so the quality of the app is exceptional.  To share one’s screen, the presenter must use the free app.  Upon launching the app, you are presented with two large buttons: one says “Share” the other “Join”.  Hit the share button, and then you can share your screen with anyone by giving them a 9 digit code listed just above the settings.  The viewers (you can have up to 250 viewers at a time) can then enter the code on their own app, or go to the website and enter the code in there.  Likewise, the code is in the form of a link that you can email or post for anyone to click and view.  Note that you can only view from the website, all sharing must be done from the downloaded app.

The app keeps a very sturdy connection.  I’ve used it for many presentations with an active Skype video call, Preview, as well as Mail, and my Twitter client open at the same time with no crashes or lagging in the presentation.  The presentation is very clear, clear enough for people to read the text on my screen.  Join.me also allows you to pause the

join.me presenting my screen

presentation at anytime, as well as share files over the connection, use a text-based chat, switch the presentation between multiple monitors, and more.  By upgrading to the Pro version, you also get the ability to switch who’s presenting with one of your viewers, meaning that multiple people can share multiple plans from multiple places.  You also get access to international and conference lines, a scheduler, and more.

As for problems with the app, they are really minor.  The app does not fit the Mac style, but the look is very simple, and still looks great.  In this case, I’m glad for a less Mac-ish feel.  Plus, this helps it stick out from the other apps, helping to remind me that the app is running.  Of course, I can’t forget that it’s running because it sits on top of every window on every desktop on my Mac. While I don’t mind that I always know when it’s running, it doesn’t help that I have to move it if I want to access to a browser tab, a button, a setting, etc.  There’s really no way around this, expect maybe to make the window fade into more translucent state when not the selected app.  But as I said, this a minor grievance for an app that does its job very well.  I would say it needs VOiP capabilities, but those are currently in beta testing.

If you’re looking for a cheap yet effective screen sharing solution, give join.me a shot.  Join.me is a free app for Mac OS 10.5 and higher, as well as Windows XP and higher.  There is an app for iOS and Android, but it only functions as a viewer not as a presenter.  It is made by LogMeIn and is available for download at join.me.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus Page  Thanks!

App of the Week: Sleipnir

In recent years, the number of web browsers available for Mac has grown in recent years.  Some have tried to stick to a Mac-like theme, or follow the path of Chrome and take a more minimalist design.  And then some take a wholly different path, like Sleipnir.  Sleipnir is a web browser that has been on Windows for a while and gained a devoted Japanese following in the process.  Named after an 8-legged horse from Norse mythology, it looks about as strange, but has plenty of speed.  Having used for a short while on Windows, and its release just last week from beta (or release candidate as the case may be), I decided to give it another go.

Sleipnir looks completely different from any other browser I’ve yet to see.  It has a really clean interface up top and can integrate well with Lion’s full screen mode.  The tabs are integrated into the top of the browser, hidden inside the title bar with the back and forward button.  Don’t see a URL bar to type you web address?  On the right side the site’s name, HTTPS status, reload button, and a download icon/manager, much like Safari 5.1.  Click on the URL, and the URL bar opens up and lets you get to the site you need.  WHen you’re done, it retracts back to a smaller size, returning a title bar.  I have to say that as strange as it is, it actually feels like a design choice that Apple could have made themselves.  Interestingly there are a couple seeming design flaws in it.  While I had the option to show a bookmarks bar, I never could get it to show up.  Sleipnir also has no Home button, even though you can set a homepage, which is a rather strange setting for a browser.

The browser runs off of the Webkit engine, just like Safari and Chrome, making it quite fast.  In fact, I found that it loaded various pages almost instantly, faster than most Chrome or Chrome based browsers I tried.  This is true for very media intensive pages, which it excelled at.  The Peacekeeper browser test showed it faster than Firefox, but slower than Chrome, though my experience felt different.  But this browser is more than speed or looks.  It has some very Mac like features as well.  It

Sleipnir's look and its Peacekeeper score against other major browsers (longer bars are better, Sleipnir listed as Safari 5.1)

has gesture support for those using Trackpads: a two-fingered swipe left or right takes you back or forward in that tab’s history respectively.  A two-fingered pinch in also shows you an overview of your tabs.  You also can organize bookmarks into several pre-made categories, such as shopping, research, and more.  It also has a read it later feature, which I like but I think should be more prominent.  You can also sync bookmarks using the Fenrir Pass to other copies of Sleipnir, including those on other platforms, like iOS.

The iOS version also has some neat features, like Hold to Go, gestures, and touch paging.  Hold to Go lets you press and hold on a link or bookmark to open it in the background.  Gestures include drawing a circle to reload the page, and S to start searching, and more.  Lastly, the TouchPaging feature allows you to scroll through your tabs by flick left or right.

Back to the Mac version for a minute though, there a several flaws that just put me off.  For example, there is no security settings in the Preferences, which would be nice to have.  And while the Windows version has a few extensions, none of them work for Mac.  Full screen in Flash also still shows the menubar, which I have mixed feelings about.  I also would still like that Home button.

Overall, Sleipnir is a really quick and interesting browser that could shake up the game if it gained traction, but it feels like it is incomplete.  But for quick web browsing and a new browser experience, Sleipnir makes for one heck of a ride.  It is available for  Mac OS 10.6 and higher (Snow Leopard and Lion) & iOS (iPad and iPhone).  It also works for Android as well as Windows 98, XP, Vista and 7 (that’s not a typo, it really can support Windows 98).  You can find the version you want at http://www.fenrir-inc.com/ or check out the Mac specific version at http://www.fenrir-inc.com/global/mac/sleipnir.html.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus Page at https://plus.google.com/107817518299218190319  Thanks!

App of the Week: Dropbox (plus a bonus)

 When you install a new app for the first time, your first thoughts are usually judging whether or not it’s worth keeping and using, especially for the inevitable day you get a new device.  It is not everyday, though, that an app makes it to your personal "top 10 apps" list, especially in the first 5 minutes.  But this week’s app, Dropbox, did just that.

 Dropbox is a file synchronization tool, that can also acts as a backup tool, and a file sharing utility, all in one program.  After making a free account on Dropbox’s website, you download the apps, and install it.  The app logs your computer into your Dropbox account, and makes a folder on your computer.  From there, any files you put in there are copied and uploaded onto Dropbox’s very secure servers.  You still have the file on your hard drive for anytime use, but also one online that you can access anywhere, anytime by logging into your Dropbox account through a Web browser.  Even better, it works for Mac, Windows, and the major versions of Linux.  They also have an iOS, Android, and Blackberry app (other systems on the way), that work a little differently, but we’ll discuss that in a bit.

 You can also make folders within your Dropbox folder to organize your stuff.  There is also a pre-made "Photos" and "Public" folder that allow you to share files with other people.  The Public folder is especially useful; once the file has been uploaded to the Internet, you can copy a link from Dropbox, and share it with anyone by email, social networking, anywhere you can put a link.  Once they click on the link, the file will start downloading to their computer. 

 Since it is cross platform, you can install Dropbox on multiple computers in your own house or across the world that will sync to your web account, so you have the same files everywhere.  You can tell Dropbox, though, to only sync certain folders to certain computers, which is nice if you don’t want to mix home and work files, but still want to keep them backup and access anywhere.  If Dropbox sees that your multiple devices are on the same network, it will sync over the local network first before the web syncing (which is many times faster).  I wouldn’t suggest syncing applications though, only files like documents, pictures, etc., as they won’t necessarily install across devices (not to mention the legal issues). 

The mobile apps work a little differently compared to the desktop apps: mobile apps only show you a link to the files in your Dropbox, but don’t download them to your device unless you manually tell Dropbox too.  A bit of a hassle, but makes sense given the small hard drive space of a mobile device compared to a full computer. 

What’s the catch you might ask?  Dropbox is free, but it only gives you 2 gigabytes of online storage, or the storage size of a small flash-drive.  For things like school papers, documents, etc., this is still a lot of space, but people with large photo or music collections  this certainly won’t solve their problems.  You can pay Dropbox for 50, or 100 gigs of online space.  However, Dropbox gives you several ways to get more space for free including:

        Following thier tutorial after the first installation,

        Connecting it to your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts

        Having a .edu email address (college students and professors).

        Sharing Dropbox with your friends

        And many more

 That’s where my apology comes in:  Last week, I went to Charleston to go help rebuild some houses for those in need (I highly suggest everyone does that many times in their lives, though don’t everyone fly to Charleston).  Because of my leaving though, and the purposeful leaving behind of my Macbook, I did not get a chance to upload an "App of the Week" post like I usually do.  For that I am sorry.  To make up for it, I have a special Dropbox link for you all.  If you don not yet have a Dropbox, and you want one, hit the link below.  Once your register, Dropbox will give you 250 megabytes of free space (about 1/8 the size of Dropbox by itself).  It’s not much, but it’s free space.  Can’t argue with that can you?  I didn’t think so.

Here’s the link: http://db.tt/AMoy7pj

And for those of you who don’t like the free space: www.dropbox.com

If you have an app that you would like me to look at, feel free to shoot me an email at easyosx@live.com, or leave a comment.  And don’t forget to check me out on Youtube by hitting the Youtube button at the top.  Thanks for reading.

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