Tagged With web applications

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.


Free markup sharing site A.nnotate offers a simple tool for letting co-workers or friends comment and review a document or web page without installing specialty software or hosting a web conference. Upload a Word document, PDF, or other file, or just pass A.nnotate a web page address, and you can start highlighting text or choosing areas to leave notes, either in the margins or as floating boxes. Once a page is started, the creator can email links to as many people as they want to comment. A free account at the site gives one person about 25 pages per month to offer for markup with unlimited annotators, but advanced offerings are available starting at $10 per month.



Cubescape, a free design tool from code wizards The Man in Blue, is a refreshingly easy way to design a great-looking logo, send a memorable message, or just doodle with the simplicity of stacked blocks. The controls are super-simple, consisting of coloured and clear blocks you drop and arrange into patterns and a tool to destroy your errors. Hit "Save," and your design is locked away, and you can link to a time-lapse animation of how you built it. Feel free to send the URL to that discouraging high school art teacher.



If you've been tinkering with (or just thinking about) Adobe's multi-system AIR platform and wondering if any apps are worth your time, James Whittaker has made the answer much easier to find with freshAIRapps. The directory offers ratings and reviews of many new and new-to-AIR apps, including:

Twhirl, a desktop Twitter client. Doominow, a slick-looking to-do list. MuxMaster, a Cover Flow-inspired browser for web mixtape builder Muxtape.

Got a useful AIR app you don't see on freshAIRapps? Submit it to the site, and share it in the comments.



Free travel guide site Schmap has crafted a pretty nifty interface for iPhone and iPod touch users looking for spots to hit while travelling. Navigate to the city you're travelling through, pick a category like restaurants or banks, and scroll through the vertical list of results. Flip your iPhone/touch sideways, and points from the section of the list you were scrolling through are mapped out, and contact and directions info are provided when tapped. Pretty handy for finding notable spots nearby without having to cross over applications. Point your iPhone or iPod touch to the link below to access the web app (but regular browsers can head there as well).



For certain projects, even the gargantuan list of pre-installed fonts on your system just won't do. When you want to create your own font but don't want to learn the archaic process for doing so, you want free font designer webapp FontStruct. FontStruct provides simple tools to colour in integrated blocks. You can fill out just one key letter or a whole font, distribute your creation freely or with rights reserved, and offer it up as an easy-to-install TrueType font. Using FontStruct's tools requires a free sign-up—or you could just browse FontStruct's library of original fonts for download.



Looking for an easy way to stitch together a cluster of photos you took of that great vacation scene? MagToo, a free online panorma-sharing service, offers a free online tool to create 360-degree panoramas (or more simple wide-angle stitches) and share them from a flash applet on its site or embedded on another. As the Digital Inspiration blog points out, you have to use Internet Explorer 7 to create the panoramas in MagToo's ActiveX app, but the Flash-based viewers can be seen in any browser. For a guide to creating high-quality stitches yourself, check out our guide to panorama-stitching with free software.



Once upon a time, if you wanted to access or share a file over the internet, you either had to have your own web server to upload it to or hope the file was small enough to sneak in under your email account's upload limits. Nowadays, you can upload and share gigabytes worth of data for free using a handful of web applications designed to make sharing and storing files online a breeze. We've covered gobs of them, but among all the choices, it's difficult to narrow down the competition to find the best. That's why you're here. For this week's Hive Five, we want to hear about your favourite. Hit the jump for details and to nominate your favourite online file storage and sharing application.


The Red Ferret Journal points out a slick, Japanese upload-and-convert tool for giving photos that browned-out, decades-old look. Select a photo or paste in a URL (both words are written in English, as luck would have it), and hit the bottom blue button. The photo results aren't returned at full resolution, but, depending on lighting, quality, and, of course, modernity of subject, you can get pretty authentic-looking results without any image editor filters or plug-ins. The site is free to use, and (it appears) doesn't restrict upload file sizes.



Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, is the grand-daddy of group chat applications, but it's far from the most inviting and easy-to-grasp apps out there. Mibbit, a free web-based IRC client, aims to change that. Jump right into a chat node if you've got the address or a specific search, or register an account and see what people are talking about. A huge number of tabs can be kept open simultaneously, and registering gives you a Firefox-like ability to launch all your favourite channels upon signing in. If you're looking for tech support, looking for a chance to yak, or just looking to try out IRC, Mibbit is a slick first step.



Want to share a presentation with friends, co-workers, or the web at large without worrying about who does or doesn't have PowerPoint installed? authorStream, a free presentation sharing site, offers the same kind of embed-anywhere utility as previously-posted SlideShare, but also provides options to download presentations as MP4 video files, putting slideshows with or without audio one step away from YouTube, iPods, DVDs, or whatever format comes in handy. To work as video, presentations must have either recorded narration or rehearsed timings added in PowerPoint, which the Digital Inspiration blog explains in detail at the via link below.



Need to make all-caps text a little less shout-y? Don't feel like going through a ream of lines and fixing all the capitalisation? TextOpus, a free text-filtering web app, is a great place to start. Paste in problematic text and choose from a wealth of options, from line adders to a decent, simple "Clean Text" option to a very handy "Strip tags" that takes the HTML and forum code out of a blurb. For those who know what to do with them, there's also options to hash, hexadecimal, and encrypt text. Next time you're staring at a wealth of un-printable babble, try TextOpus before diving in with your mouse and backspace key.


Regular expressions are archaic-looking, extremely specific, and amazingly helpful for finding the right data, files or whatever else you need. RegEx, a free online regular expression tester, lets you hone your expression language and terms down, giving you a box to put testing text in and highlighting the words that match your query. For users of Mac OS X, Linux, or even Windows with Cygwin installed, this web-based workshop (or desktop version) is a great way to get uninhibited but real practice at file-sifting. RegEx's desktop versions require the Adobe AIR platform installed to run.



More than a year after web-based photo editors began swarming the scene, Adobe this morning unveiled its free, long-anticipated Photoshop Express web app. It doesn't have nearly a quarter of the options, tools, and tricks of its desktop-based namesake, but it seems like a good platform for anyone who likes to spend a little time refining, and then sharing, their digital photos. The Flash-based app has just 17 basic buttons for editing, a thumbnail display of all the different changes you've made, and the album storing (2 GB of space), import (from Picasa and Facebook, among others) and sharing features seem up-to-snuff. In other words, you won't get layers, channels, and dodge-and-burn, but you can remove chocolate stains from white shirts pretty handily.


Fed up with your bank's hidden fees and customer service? Before you make the often time-consuming switch to another institution, consider checking out BankSwitcher. The web app (in beta, of course) asks you to grab the financial data from your old bank in the popular Quicken or Microsoft Money formats, then upload it to BankSwitcher. The site generates a list of everything you'd want to do to keep your same set-up—automatic payments, transfers, bill pays, and the like—at your new financial digs. The site repeatedly assures users that it keeps secure servers and doesn't commit unnecessary information like passwords or account numbers to the hard drive, erasing them from memory after the list is generated. If that's good enough for you, it could help you get up and running with a new bank and saving yourself money and headaches. Thanks, Keith!



If you're already using the Hardy Heron Beta, the next version of the Ubuntu Linux operating system, you've also got a dead-simple means of getting web apps like Google Docs, Google Calendar, Facebook, and others running in Mozilla's online/offline access program, Prism. The Ubuntu 8.04 repositories already have a lot of Google and a few other apps available for installing (sudo apt-get install prism-google-mail installs a Gmail interface, for instance), but you create more using the official Firefox add-on. Hit the link for Tombuntu's expanded explanation, and leave your impressions of the Ubuntu/Prism integration in the comments.

Easily Install Prism Web Apps in Ubuntu


Brilliant new file sharing web site EatLime expedites online file sharing by allowing your friends to begin downloading the file as soon as you start uploading it, meaning you don't have to wait for the file to finish uploading before they begin downloading. You can share files up to 1GB with a free registration or up to 100MB with no registration. In testing EatLime, I found that eventually—once my download caught up with my upload—I was essentially downloading in real-time from the upload, which is fantastic. If you've ever shared large files online, you know what a pain it can be in terms of time. EatLime could cut a significant chunk out of the time it takes to share files online.


If you only occasionally need to connect to an FTP site, or find yourself at a computer that lacks one, AnyClient, a free webapp that requires no sign-up, might be just the solution for a quick and easy connection. AnyClient's Java-based interface is fairly similar to desktop-based FTP clients, and it appears that it can save your connection details for multiple servers, assuming you don't wipe your cookies on a regular basis. For those not devoted to cross-platform clients like Filezilla or running FireFTP on their Firefox chrome, AnyClient is a free and worthy bookmark—if you really dig it, you can also download the client for Windows, Mac, or Linux.


Want to read a printed copy of a PDF that's portable and staple-free? BookletCreator is a free PDF conversion webapp that creates documents that can be printed and folded into an easy-to-read booklet. Assuming your PDF is oriented to "portrait" layout and is less than eight pages, you can get what appear to be pretty decent-looking booklets from your document. Got more than eight pages? Tell BookletCreator to split the file into so many pages per booklet, and spread your words and images across multiple copies. BookletCreator is free to use and doesn't require a sign-up.