Tagged With collaboration tools

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Microsoft is continuing to play their game of catchup/leapfrog with Slack, Hipchat and other collaboration tools. The company has announced a slew of integrations with applications that will allow users to include information from apps in conversations, a new store for accessing apps that work in Teams as well as the ability to launch queries and other actions straight from the command box.

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Remote collaboration is both a blessing and a curse. One one hand, it allows for unmatched convenience as team members can work together from anywhere in the world. On the other hand, communication can get a bit muddled when a team isn't all together in one location — specifically when it comes to sharing files. That's why Droplr was created as a reliable way to share critical project information to the people who need it. And, you can take an additional 40% off its sale price when you plug the CYBER40 code in at checkout.

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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After a three month delay, Microsoft has delivered on its promise to enable guest access in Microsoft Teams. Although Teams was released earlier this year, it boasts over 125,000 users across 181 countries. Now, anyone with an Active Directory account across Microsoft commercial cloud services and third-party Azure AD integrated apps can be added as a guest in Teams.

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Microsoft's new chat-based workspace and collaboration tool, Microsoft Teams, is now available for all Office 365 users. Dubbed the digital equivalent of an open plan office, it provides the functionality of a chat client with additional features, including full Office 365 integration, enterprise-level security and a host of compatible third-party apps. Here's what you need to know.

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Google Documents rolls out two features that make collaboration easy, even amongst friends and co-workers that don't have Google accounts. Spreadsheets now have an "Anyone can edit this document without logging in" option in their share tab, turning your document into a wiki that tracks changes in real time and can email you a summary. Also, those who dig the custom input forms can now embed them on any web page, and users who don't like your choices can submit their own answers with a new option. Great tools for those who want to collect opinions and data, but don't want to spend a lot of time setting up the web pages to do so.

Embed Your Forms

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Online collaboration service PalBee integrates video conferencing and whiteboard sharing so you can meet up with co-workers over the internet. PalBee supports one free hour at a time for up to five collaborators, and it can record the session as its happening for later review—the results of which can be embedded on any web page (similar to the video above). Naturally, since PalBee is web-based, it works on all platforms as long as you've got a webcam. PalBee is currently completely free to use, though pay plans are likely to emerge.

PalBee

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Next time you agree to meet someone for coffee or lunch "sometime soon" head over to collaborative scheduling webapp Presdo. In Presdo's single entry box enter the event, your cohorts' names, and a time (vague times like "afternoon" or "next week" work too)—like "Powwow with Adam, Kevin, and Tamar next week". Presdo will create an event where you can enter a description, pick a location and shoot off an invitation email to whomever is joining you. You can suggest times and dates, and your invitees can choose which ones work for them. Check out Presdo's two main screens in action.

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Group scheduling web application When Is Good makes picking the best time for everyone easy as pie. Similar to previously posted Doodle, no registration is required at When Is Good: simply fill in the calendar with your proposed times for a conference call, meeting, or family reunion. Then enter your email to get an invitation message with a unique URL to your event. Send that sucker out to your invitees, who choose which times work for them. When Is Good is smart about time zones, too—your cross-country invitees will see the available times in their local time zones. Much better solution for figuring out what time works for everyone than that endless email thread.

When is Good

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Webapp the Awesome Highlighter aims to give context to shared links by allowing users to highlight text in a webpage before they send it out. Very similar to previously mentioned web site Jump Knowledge, the Awesome Highlighter creates a special URL that saves your highlighting schemes and displays them when you click through to the link. It's good to give quick context to a link, but if you want to heavier annotation, Jump Knowledge is a lot more feature-rich.

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Twiddla, a free whiteboarding service that doesn't require sign-ups to start using, turns any web site, photo or graphic file into a canvas for marking and discussion. Winner of this year's Technical Achievement award at the SXSW festival, Twiddla isn't the only whiteboard service, for sure, but its ease of use and quick setup and extra features—including live conference-call-style audio chat—make it a stand-out. You can check out Twiddla's features without even launching a "guest" account by trying out its live "sandbox" mode. For web workers, design types, and anyone needing to draw out or discuss an idea, it's a worthy tool to keep bookmarked.

Twiddla

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Google has unveiled the results of their purchase of JotSpot—the free collaboration tool you could once use to make wiki-like collaboration pages and organize your family—and while the offerings are somewhat slim at this point, it's looking like a promising addition to the Google Apps suite (both free and premium). You can set up Sites to create pages that only users with email addresses on a certain domain can use, or have your page open to edits or viewing by anyone. Each Sites account gets 10 GB of storage, and importing data and tools from other Google services, like group calendars, spreadsheets, Picasa slideshows, and the like, is pretty streamlined. Google Sites is free to use, and requires a sign-up with a non-Gmail email address.

Google Sites

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Online storage web site Box.net keeps rolling out new features, but opening up stored files to online collaboration adds a whole bunch o' new potential uses at once. Any file you store at Box.net can now be shared with collaborators (who, it must be said, must also have Box.net accounts) and manipulated through any of the sites' web service partners. That means you and your friends could all crop and edit your weekend getaway pictures in Picnik, or edit a trip diary in Zoho, and so forth. Added to desktop mounting and free iCal publishing, Box.net is vying to become almost as handy when you're away from your computer as your trusted thumb drive—maybe even more so.

Announcing Box.net Collaboration Beta

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Microsoft Word and I have a love/hate relationship that consists of mostly hate—but one feature that does help redeem the bloated word processor is Track Changes. When you're passing a Word document back and forth between, say, author and editor, enable track changes to make Word keep detailed notes about who's done what to the document. Then, the boss can select edits and choose "Accept Changes" to make 'em final. As I slog through the last stage of editing the new Lifehacker book, my various editors and I have been tracking changes all the way. After the jump, get a screenshot of track changes in action.Note: this is Microsoft Word running on my Mac.

You can see there that deletes are shown with strikethroughs, and inserts are underlined. You can also select text and add a comment to it—comments are displayed in the bottom pane.

Tracking changes is one of those advanced Word features most users probably don't touch, but when it comes to version control, it's really useful. How and in what context do you track changes in Word? Let us know in the comments.

How to track and manage changes in a Word 2002 and a Word 2003 document Track changes while you edit in Microsoft Word 2007

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Collaborative music website BoomShuffle gives you and anyone you invite the ability to add and organise music into streaming playlists. The site offers a decent, if noticeably incomplete, commercial music database and lets you customise the look and embed your playlist in blogs or websites. Unlike similar applications (including Facebook's iLike widget), BoomShuffle streams entire tracks, but only after you've added 15 or more songs to a list. BoomShuffle is free, in open beta and requires a sign-up to use, along with sign-ups for any friends who collaborate.

BoomShuffle

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In yet another Google Maps upgrade in recent days, the My Maps feature has been opened up for collaboration. That means that you and your friends can add markers (with custom icons and pictures if you'd like), draw out areas and collaborate to map out great food, awesome photography spots or whatever strikes you. If one of you already has something mocked up in Google Earth or their own My Map, you can start by importing a KML or GeoRSS file. Chalk up another useful addition to what was already a great tool for making personalised maps.

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Buzzword, the online word processor acquired by Adobe earlier this month, is now open for a public "preview." There isn't a wealth of features not available in Google Docs or Zoho, but there are a few noticeable differences. The most obvious is the minimalist, Flash-based interface that swings toolbar menus around as you select them. The fonts are also unique—Buzzword uses seven smoothed-out Adobe varieties that venture outside the standard set. The webapp offers all the document saving/printing/sharing features of its brethren, but adds a commenting system for shared documents. Buzzword requires a free sign-up to use.

Buzzword

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Event organizer webapp Fasterplan creates collaborative "billboards" that help users hammer out the details of an upcoming event. Set up a Fasterplan billboard for your event and drag and drop widgets onto it—like polls ("Where should we eat afterwards?"), date finders ("When's good for you?"), images, and text notes. Get your event billboard's permalink and email it out to all your friends to answer the polls and plan your get-together. Check out a sample billboard to see Fasterplan in action.

fasterplan

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Instantly share files, notes, and photos with Stixy, an online bulletin board web application. An information manager at its core, Stixy gives you plenty of control over tasks, appointments, photos, notes, and bookmarks, and you can share your bulletin board with family and friends. There is no limitation on the size of a workspace but each file is capped at 10MB. Also, for now, there's no way to view many files (PDFs, DOCs, videos) without downloading them locally—but hopefully they'll implement functionality to support accessing these files server-side. However, for collaboration, Stixy makes it easy to share many files and store files online.

Stixy