More Heads Than One

I was pleasantly surprised by a number of things today. Yeah, me, pleased. Go figure.

For starters, Google merged Writely into "Docs & Spreadsheets", and (beyond all expectations), I like the result. As usual, it's not rocket science, and it is not a replacement for Office (I think nothing will really be, not for a while yet), but it's surely good enough to draft posts and have basic collaboration - and the collaborative aspect of it needs to be emphasised further: Google has the (still completely untapped) potential to run rings around "collaboration" tools like EMC's Documentum, which I use every day and feels like a "Web 0.9" application.

(Obviously) Google isn't in that market, but the main point is that as a web-based collaborative application, Google's stuff has amazing potential for small companies wanting to share data with their customers.

Anyway, I'd love to have decent search on it (a shortcoming it shares with Reader), and a little more functionality. Om has already mentioned slideshows and databases, but I would dump either of them for a Writely-based Wiki and a search feature.

Another thing that was a great surprise was ScreenRecycler. Although the name feels, well... a bit off, the basic functionality is something I have been looking for years now: A virtual framebuffer driver that adds an additional, virtual display to your Mac and publishes it via VNC.

No, I'm not talking about "multi-machine" solutions, or screen sharing, or remote desktop. You get an additional logical screen and a way to send it to another machine that acts as a "dumb" display and does not control your main one.

Something called Maxivista has been around for a while for Windows (and it is possible - although not quite trivial - to do the same thing with Linux and heavy tweaking of X settings), but using VNC is the thing. That way I can use my Windows/Linux laptop (or another Mac) as an extra display panel for my Mac without having to install junk proprietary viewers.

Of course, VNC isn't something you'd want to watch video through - but the extra display is perfectly good for IM, reading e-mail, watching log files or keeping documentation visible.

I'd love to see two things, though (besides some protocol/configuration tweaks): the ability to add more than one display, and a decent VNC client for the Mac (I still host a copy of VNCThing sources, if anyone wants to poke at it...).

Which reminds me:

Random Bytes:

  • On the whole Firefox/Debian controversy, I have only three words: get a life.
  • On Eudora basing their next version off Thunderbird: What, you mean there are still people using Eudora?
  • On Adriana: Suddenly, all first shots of mobile devices display Google apps.