Friday, February 27, 2009

Collaborative Software

There are plenty of solutions out there for collaboration, including Microsoft's One Note, which I find charming but limited, SharePoint, which is a powerful monster, Google docs, which you can access if you have a gmail account (top left corner), and so on.

I found one yesterday that beats anything I've seen for sheer simplicity. It's called EtherPad, and it's a free service that allows real-time collaboration with no sign-up. You simply click and start writing.
I've started one as a sample for readers of this post. Click here to see it. Try adding a quote or favorite bit of poetry to the document. If others are online too, you can watch them edit around you; everything is color-coded so you can tell who is doing what. There's a built-in chat also. I started using it yesterday to write a retention document. It works great. There are some limitations, however. There is no text markup for bold, italics, or fonts, so headings are hard to read. Hyperlinks don't link, either, and you can't hide them with HTML anchor tags. Still, this is a fantastic tool. I can see many classroom uses for it as well.

For the musically inclined, there's a nifty Flash-based program called Noteflight for creating, editing, and sharing music. You do have to create an account, but that's takes less than a minute. Once you're in, you create music in the time-honored way of moving notes around on the staff notation, changing pitch and duration, key, etc. The editor alone is pretty cool, but what makes it really come alive is the ability to play the music you've written by clicking the play button. You can see and hear my test composition below.

Finally,there's a very simple productivity application that I discovered (like all of these, on Reddit) called SimplyNoise. All it does is pipe one of three types of noise to your speakers: white noise, pink noise, or red/brown noise. My favorite is the last of these, which seems to be pitched lower than the other two. It sounds like the sea to me. This soothing shushhhhh can mask otherwise annoying sonic clutter in your workspace. It reminds me of another product I blogged about a long time ago here. That product made sounds based on vowels to hide speech around you.

No comments:

Post a Comment