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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Thank you, Google! Chrome starts supporting WSR!

Some time ago I posted that I was abandoning Chrome until it supports Windows Speech Recognition (WSR). 

I did go back to Chrome after some time as I became more embroiled in the different Google Apps services, but I have always found it irritating that speech recognition wasn’t supported.

Every once in awhile I try it again and found today an important improvement.

WSR does work in GMail now, albeit just with the “dictation scratchpad”, but that is a big improvement.  It doesn’t quite work in Google Docs, but I’m hopeful they’ll get that working soon.

Thanks, Google!

BTW: I actually don’t know if this is Google’s doing or the result of a Windows patch . . . I hope it is the former, otherwise this is likely the end-state.

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GMail as a Skype replacement? Nope . . .

Over the last couple of months I have started to rely on Google Voice (GV) and have been eagerly awaiting the integration of VOIP with Google Voice.  My current solution of using GV with Skype is almost perfect, but I am hoping that Google VOIP can eliminate the pesky “where’s my voicemail” problem with Skype.

Anyway, this new Google feature was enabled on my account yesterday.  While it holds some promise for me once GV is moved into GAFD, it has too many caveats today.  Why?

Because the in-browser VOIP phone is a flawed premise for receiving calls:

  • Hunting for the incoming call dialog within a browser tab is a terrible user experience.  Perhaps they can fix this through an extension that allows a non-modal, “always on top” popup for notification of incoming calls. 
  • What if your browser stops working, is restarted, etc?  You don’t get your phone call.  Of course, you can say the same thing for the Skype client (i.e., if it isn’t running you don’t get your call), but I restart my browsers several times a day.  And browsers crash a lot more than Skype (or Google Talk), for that matter. 

Google really should resuscitate the Google Talk client – or the Google Voice Desktop App – and enable the same functionality there.  In fact, I’ll go further and say that they will have to release a native Windows client if they want enterprise adoption of GV / VOIP.

Granted, the in-browser premise is great for the casual user, making outgoing calls, or as a backup when away from your actual work environment, but it just doesn’t work as a Skype replacement.

Does anyone know if the the GV Desktop App is actually dead?  The last reference I find to it is the Arrington post: Google Voice Desktop App Launch Delayed, May Be Scrapped.

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Please make GAFD a first class citizen

I control my online identity as much as I can.  I don’t like using email addresses / identities that are controlled by a vendor.  Like phone # portability, this allows me to switch vendors when I want without (much) disruption.  That is the main reason I host my blog and email on my own domain.  I used to maintain my own servers to do that (literally in-house).  Then I moved them to a hosting company.  Then I moved email to Google Apps for Domains (GAFD). 

GAFD is pretty cool.  It allows you to put many services (i.e., mail, calendar, docs, sites, chat) behind your own domain.  Other Google services don’t exactly fit this model, and so they aren’t supported.  For example while App Engine does allow you to use your own domain, you probably don’t need to host your App Engine development portal from within your domain.  Not too big a deal.

But for the services that use your contact list (e.g., Voice, Wave, and Reader), I really don’t want to use my GMail address and certainly not the contacts list I have there.

I am at a loss to understand why Google doesn’t have a corporate policy that products must support GAFD.  Isn’t GAFD an important part of Google’s business model?  Obviously not as important as trying to sell us things we don’t want, but certainly strategic against Microsoft.

What gives?

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FeedDemon.Next or Outlook 2007?

As noted before, I recently started using Outlook 2007.  It has improved my ability to track the myriad tasks on my list.  Mainly this is due to its merging standard todo items with emails marked for follow up* in a single view.

This means I’m doing a much better job of getting back to emails than I used to.  In fact, this has caused me to re-consolidate all of my email reading into Outlok 2007 (abandoning gmail).  

Now in one place, with one view, I can see all the items on my list (of course, there are still too many, but that is another story).

There is still one thing missing, though:

FeedDemon is my RSS reader of choice.  I often flag items there to read later; however, I rarely ever go back and read those posts.

I would like to see my flagged items (email and RSS) and todos together in Outlook 2007.  How to solve this problem?

  1. FeedDemon changes (best, because then I get everything I want):
    1. FeedDemon begins supporting Outlook 2007 tasks, perhaps the way OneNote 2007 does.
    2. Alternatively, FeedDemon begins (optionally) using the Windows RSS Platform (presumably flags and “read” settings are persisted in the store, though I don’t know). 
  2. Or I change: I start using Outlook as an aggregator.  I used to do this with NewsGator in Outlook 2003.  The experience was painful (don’t know if I should blame Outlook, NewsGator, or user error here).  Maybe it is better now.

Thoughts or suggestions anyone?

* And tasks linked with OneNote and, as I understand, Project tasks.

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