Windows Live Mail – Update your Hotmail today!

I don’t think there’s anyone who haven’t used Hotmail – so it’s time to update! Windows Live Mail is a part of Windows Live Ideas which is more than just a new webinterface to access your mail. It’s, as Microsoft says themselves:

“Your online world gets better when everything works simply and effortlessly together. That’s the basic idea behind Windows Live.”

So the live.com concept is simply putting all your online services together instead of keeping your mail in one place, your RSS feeds in another place, your favorites somewhere else and so on. But this article is not about the complete suite but Windows Live Mail. If you already have Hotmail – you can upgrade in a few seconds and still keep all your e-mails. Just go to ideas.live.com and click to register.

I already covered Hotmail, so I will only cover the news your get with Windows Live Mail. Please note that live.com is under heavy beta so new features will probably be added every week. Here are the main new features:

  • Previews of your messages you can read without leaving your inbox
  • Drag-and-drop organization
  • Easy importing of your Microsoft Outlook contacts
  • One-click control over junk and scam e-mails
  • Right-click power—reply, delete, and forward
  • 2 GB of storage

Compared to Hotmail – this is way better so I would suggest you change today! But if you’re using Google Apps for your domain, I think it’s just a matter of taste what you prefer.

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Voo2do – simple web-based to-do lists

Voo2do offers you to manage your to-do lists. Here’s a quote from their site that kind of gives you a good look of what they offer:
“What makes voo2do different?
Unlike most online to-do lists, voo2do tracks priority, due date, and time estimates for each task. There is no notion of “lists” in voo2do— tasks can be grouped by project, but you can view and edit a bunch of projects together. Voo2do supports some basic sharing of tasks”

With that in mind, here’s the main tabs once you login:

Voo2do tabs

The interface is quite “ajaxy”. What you do is add tasks to the tasks tab. You put the description, priority, due date etc. You can also e-mail your tasks to the list:

Voo2do tasks

Then you have projects. Each task can be put to a project. When you create a task you get a list of all your projects once you start writing in the projects box. You can then list the projects and see which tasks are assigned to which project:
Voo2do projects

Collaboration is possible in two ways, either you can collaborate so you can assign who is responsible for a certain task but you can also make your list viewable to public (or with a password…). Notes is a summary of all notes for all tasks. Deadlines is a summary of all tasks that have a deadline coming up. History is a list of tasks that has been completed.

Then there’s the Dashboard which gives you an overview of everything which you also can customize.

Voo2do dashboard

I like Voo2do. It’s playful and easy to use. However, it lacks some functionality like a calendar so you really need some other tool aswell to do the job to replace your “Outlook” or “Moleskin”. However, if you’re looking for a to-do list – check it out!

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MyMemorizer lets you send reminders via SMS/textmessage

MyMemorizer is a reminding service. You add events and it will remind you via e-mail, SMS/textmessage to your mobilephone.

I would say it’s more of a calendar service. You can share events with other users, import from iCalendar, vCalendar and Outlook. I wouldn’t say the interface break any new ground – it’s pretty basic!

What makes this service stand out is the possible to send reminders via SMS. Only 2 free/day though, but it’s possible to buy more (from 50 SMS for $8 to 500 SMS for $35). So if you’re looking for this – MyMemorizer might be something for you!

MyMemorizer MyMemorizer

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30 Boxes – Your personal calendar and web desktop online

30 Boxes consists of a calendar, to-do list and a webtop.

The Calendar is pretty basic – you can add Events and the usual information such as reminder, repeats, notes, tags and invites. The To-do list is very simple. You can more or less only tag your entries. The interface is fast and quite “web 2.0″-ish.

30 Boxes To-do 30 Boxes Calendar

30 Boxes also offers a “webtop” – which is a web-based desktop. First it will give you an overview of your calendar, to-do list and search. You can change your desktop’s background and then the important things, add docks. Docks are small “applications” that plugin to your webtop at 30 Boxes. At the moment, the following docks exist:

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Those services will open up as a “window” on your webtop. Netvibes, My Yahoo, Personal Google offer you to add feeds and other components to a “personal startpage”. So if you’re a fan of any of these, or use several of them for different purposes – be sure to check out 30 Boxes.

Google Calendar, MySpace and Flickr - I think most of you know of those services.

Meebo lets you run ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabber, JTalk and MSN Messenger over the web! Facebook is a social utility that enables you to share information with your friends. Webshots is a service where you can upload and share photos.

I’m amazed how fast everything is. With a few new docks – this thing will be very useful. I often struggle with the fact I have several different “portals” I have to visit for specific tasks. Keeping them all together – and still use the unique features of each service is a good thought.

Here are some more screenshots of the Webtop when opening upp different services:

30 Boxes with Google Calendar 30 Boxes with Flickr 30 Boxes with Google Personal and Flickr

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iScrybe – probably the best online calendar around

I’m looking for the perfect replacement for installed desktop software and so far I feel that most online apps do what they need to – but not much more. They do what the installed apps did a few years ago. Yes – I admit, much of it is eyecandy and drag’n'drop features – but that is needed to succeed in my point of view.

But iScrybe really turn heads. It has all the bells and whistles that you need and it does the job more than fine. It but it runs very well and it got some realtime features I haven’t seen on the web before with nifyt little animations and stuff. And best of it all – It works even though I’m offline!

But how does it do in the real-world? Is it usable? You can browse your calendar by year, month, week or day. When you go between the views it will animate the transition which is really cool (see screencast). You can easily add appointments by simply just clicking in the calendar and start writing. When you click an entry you will get the details such as times, notes, reminder sharing etc. You can also categorize your entries with different labels and colors. Speaking of colors – you can more or less style your theme in any color you want.

iScrybe colors

Reminders will popup and you can decide on Snooze it or dismiss it. You also have a task-list where you easily can add tasks. This list can be filtered on date, status, labels etc. If you need to take action on a certain task at a specific time, you can simply drag’n'drop it into the calendar and it will schedule time for it. This is really good for structured time management people like myself – I work a lot with using the “GTD – Getting Things Done” time management philosophy.

If there’s anyone out there who like to print their calendar, iScrybe offers a great customization for this:

iScrybe print

The best way by far is to simple show you the screencast:

This webapp really is what I’ve been waiting for when it comes to user interface. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles when it comes to functionality compared to, for example, locally installed Outlook – but that maybe is a little bit too much to ask. There’s a button called “Upcoming modules” which sounds very interesting. Let’s just hope they keep up the good work!

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Import all you old email and contacts GMail HOWTO Part 2

My post on how to import old email and contacts to GMail doesn’t always work well – many have failed. But I got a suggestion to check this solution out instead. And yes – it sounds soo much easier!

Thanks for the tip Zoli.

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Import all you old email and contacts GMail HOWTO Part 1

Have you used a local e-mail client last couple of years and want to switch to GMail and you don’t want to loose all your old e-mails? Here are some alternatives how to import it into GMail.

Google GMail Loader (GML) is a free tool that enables you to import your existing mail to GMail. It supports many clients using the mBox format such as Netscape, Mozilla, Thunderbird etc. There’s no support for PST yet, but there’s an application called PST Reader that can convert PST to mBox.

gExodus also an application offering you to import your mBox format mailbox.

Also, here’s a tip how to import your contacts into GMail or simply use the Google Help and do it using an CSV file.

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Scrybe – online calendar works OFFLINE

Work Offline Have you ever had an online organizer or calendar and was frustrated you couldn’t access it when you were offline? I think, this is one of the number one showstoppers for online applications. But now there might be a service out there that offers you an “offline-mode” – without installing anything! It’s called Scrybe. Among other features you’ll find:

  • Don’t have to install ANYTHING
  • It’s as powerful and fast as a desktop app
  • Zoomable calendar views (this is cool – watch the video)
  • Organize your thoughts with bookmarks, web snippets, images and files
  • To-do lists integrated with your calendar
  • Share and collaborate with friends and co-workers
  • Elegant, compact and handy print formats
  • Easily work across multiple timezones
  • Import and export from other apps easily – I hope they’ll do Outlook so I, at last, can uninstall it ;)

The beta will be available in October, but check this demo out in the meantime. You’ll see some groundbreaking things in the interface that I’m really excited above. I really hope it turns out well:

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CalendarHub – calendar online with drag’n'drop

CalendarHub offers you to keep your private/public calendar online.

You can view the calendar by day, week, month, year or as a list. When you create an event you can choose to put it Private or Public, reminders (via email), location, recurring and attendees (which will receive invitation via email).

One nice feature is when you have created an event you can drag’n'drop it between dates. You can also create several different calendars, for example one for work and one for personal. You can import (Outlook, Yahoo Calendar, ICal, and many others), export (CSV, ICS – ICalendar).

You can also share your calendar with other CalendarHub users or publish your calendar which creates a web page that anyone can view and you can subscribe to other user’s calendars.

Check out this Screencast for a good overview of the features:

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HiveLive – Keep your notes online

hivelive.gifhivelive.com can keep notes, bookmarks, account numbers, and all the little things you can never remember. You can also share this with other members.

It works so that you create a “hive”. A Hive is a place where you can post and share information online. A huve can consists of address book entries, custom text fields to add notes, photos and whatever. There are many templates (430 at the moment) available and you can create your own templates aswell from scratch. When you create your own templates you can define what can of data (types) your hive consists of for example a textnote, address book entries, photos or you specify in very much detail what type of data can be added. In other words, everything is very modular. You can more or less specify exactly what you want to add and create templates to suit your needs!

So more or less, it’s a way to keep your notes online and share them with others. Even though it’s very powerful and makes you add cusotmizable pages I kind of think “what do I need it for?”. As far as I’ve seen it lacks the possibility to put reminders and it’s more a replacement for your notes on paper.

However, it’s still in early beta and it’s invite only so it will be interesting to see which kind of features that are added in the future.

Hive Live Screenshot Hive Live Screenshot Hive Live Screenshot

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Hotmail – all-in-one Outlook replacement

MSN Hotmail is an oldie. It’s been around forever and it seems everybody once in their lifetime has used it. Most people have a love-hate relationship so I was first thinking I should simply skip this review but then I realized that Hotmail has really evolved the last couple of years.

Maybe one of the most interesting features is the possibility to have your own domain hosted on Hotmail’s servers so no need for @hotmail.com. Check out Windows Live Custom Domains for more info.

You have all the features you need, E-mail, Calendar, To-do, Contacts and notes. The interface is very Microsoft:ish so if you like that, you feel right at home. I wouldn’t say the interface is the most modern one out there since it’s still point-and-click interface with few new stuff such as drag’n'drop.

E-mail

Managing your emails is easy. When writing, you can get addresses from your contacts, there’s a spell checker and you can enable a rich-text editor. You can create different folders to organize your emails.

There’s a few features I miss and that’s message filters to automatically move certain mail to certain folders.

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Calendar

Also very basic. Click new and off you go. You can send invitations by email (and when they accept this will be shown), you can have notes to each appointment, categorise them (including creating your own) and recurrence. You have the possibility to share your calendar in several ways – to other Passport members, to everyone and also on what level they can see the calendar. You can view the calendar by day, week, month or year. Still I miss the simple usability as you have in other calendars. It’s very “point-and-click” and this doesn’t feel very effective and I can’t find a way to search my calendar.

The Calendar has all the functions you can think of. If you have used Outlook calendar, you’ll find most of the options here aswell but still, the interface needs some modernization.

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To-do

Tasks is share the same categories as the calendar. Reminders can be sent via e-mail and MSN. When listing the tasks you can group them in different ways such as Staus, Priority, Category etc. Compared to Outlook I miss a bunch of stuff since I use Tasks for many many things. I’ve used Tasks for many years and have over 1000 tasks in my Outlook. For example you cannot filter the view of the list in specific ways which I use often. The notes are just notes (text). I want to include graphics, screenshots, files etc.

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Contacts

In Contacts you can create contacts and groups, and att contacts to groups. When adding contacts you can add much information about the users but I miss the way to categorise them (for example Personal and Work). When you view them you can just choose List View or Card View – no easy way to search and since there’s no way to categorise, you cannot group by that either. Sending an email to one or several contacts is easy.

Still – much point and click which feels old and ineffective but still, it does the job!

hotmailcontacts1.png hotmailcontacts2.png

Notes

Not much to say. Text-only notes and you can assign them a category. When you view them you can sort by category (not group though) and Last Modified.

Conclusions

So, hotmail really does offer all the stuff that I was looking for. It even enables me to use my own domain name using Windows Live Custom Domains. Yes – it does offer me all the features that I need but I miss so much. Most of the features just have the basic functionality compared to Outlook. And it feels like the look’n'feel is a couple of years old. Where’s that drag’n'drop? Dynamic Views? Web 2.0? Ajax-stuff and so on.. I guess they have to maintain support for older browsers but the Hotmail experience is just dull and boring compared to the other services out there.

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Remember The Milk – keeping your to-do lists online

Remember The Milk is a nice little service that is focused on keeping your to-do lists online.I really like the simplicity and somewhat playful design around the service. It’s exremely easy to use. For example, if you want to set a due date, you can write “two weeks” or “tomorrow” instead of a date.

You can share your tasks and send tasks to other users on the site. You can get your task lists via RSS/ATOM feeds and you have the possibility to access your list from iCalendar software. Another nice feature is “Quick Add” which adds a button to your browser so you quickly can add tasks. You can tag your tasks and even show a “tag cloud”.

Reminders can be configured in detail and can be sent to MSN, Skype, ICQ, E-mail and Mobile (not all networks supported). There’s also a mobile version which you can access from your mobile phone.

So are there any downsides? Well – not really. Just the fact it’s only a tool for to-do lists. I miss the integration with contacts and calendar (even though you could use it for that). I like the simplicity and the excellent functions but if you’re looking for a tool that can do everything Outlook can – I’m afraid you have to look for something else.

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Ta-da list – Ta-da list is an extremely easy to-do list service.

Ta-da list is a to-do list service. It’s extremely easy to use! You can create seperate lists, for example one for Private and one for Work. You can subscrive to your lists with RSS. You can share your list with anyone or with just a few users. That’s about it! Easy if you want the basic stuff.

If you want to see the service in action, they have some movies available.

BTW, if you like this servie, check out other tools from 37signals. One of them is Backpack which I also test on my site which includes much more than just to-do lists.

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Backpack – keep your to-do lists and ideas online

Backpack is a service to keep your to-do lists and ideas online. If you pay, you also get a calendar. The interface is playful and easy to use!

You create a set of pages. Each page consists of several items such as body, lists, notes, links, files and images. It’s easy to use and good to keep notes online. You also have the possibility to create reminders and subscribe to iCalendar. If you share something and they make changes, you can subscribe to these changes via RSS.

If you don’t want to pay you only get 5 pages, 10 active reminders, no image & file storage, 2 writeboards and page sharing. If you want to store files, images, get a calendar and more pages/reminders you have to pay som dough. I personally like the world of free stuff so I won’t have the possibility to test their extended functionality.

Here are some examples what you can aquire with the free version:

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There are many examples here which you can look at if you’re interested in this service. Here are some more screenshots with examples which you can aquire if you pay a small amount and images and files.

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Oh and BTW, the same company, 37signals has some other interesting tools namely,

  • Basecamp – a project collaboration tool
  • Writeboard – a tool to write, share, revise and compare documents

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Kiko – calendar and contacts online application with many cool features

Kiko is calendar and contacts online application. Some features include drag’n'drop, natural language quick-add, reminders via e-mail, AIM and SMS. RSS feeds of your calendar and sharing with other users. You can group appointments and contacts so you can separate Work from Personal items. You can manage your RSS feeds with Kiko and it will add the feed to your calendar. I don’t think it’s meant to use for all your RSS feeds but could come in handy.

I like the look’n'feel of the interface. It really looks like a calendar. To get you started you can import data from iCal and VCard.

Eventhough a good competitor to the calendar and contacts modules but for a complete solution and Outlook (OWA)-killer – I’m sorry to say it still miss some pieces.

kiko1.jpg

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