For Professional Designers: Website Builder Showdown: Webydo vs Adobe Muse

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Professional web designers have been frustrated for years by coding. According to surveys conducted among web designers, about 70% of a budget is spent on coding. It is a major expense, increasing the cost of a project, thus eating into a designer’s profit margin. Coupled with the rapid growth of ecommerce and businesses needing an Internet presence, a designer’s workload can become problematic. Quick but professional turnaround is key, which leads some designers to visual website design platforms.

Adobe, one of the most well-known companies in the design industry, recently launched its new Muse software for designers who found Dreamweaver to be too clunky and inefficient. Another company, Webydo, also launched its own visual design toolkit, which makes the bold statement on their site of “By Designers, For Designers.”

For many, choosing which one to go with can be a difficult decision, so below we’ve outlined the benefits and drawbacks of each platform. This should help our readers single out which program is best for them.

Webydo

Webydo is an online SaaS website builder platform created for professional web designers, by a team of designers. Developed with the specific goal of helping designers to have a more streamlined work process. As a B2B website builder, it also aims to provide creative professionals with an all-in-one solution for website creation, design, hosting, and a clients management dashboard where designers can bill their clients and manage their sites.

When creating a website, Webydo offers several choices to start off with – a blank canvas, an already-designed template and a wireframe layout. All of them are customizable. Selecting any one of these options then brings you to Webydo’s ‘online canvas’ tool. This setup both facilitates pixel layouts, and supplies an easy way to customize how the layout looks, and what content is displayed. The UI somewhat resembles Adobe software.

One of its benefits for the professional designer though, is the simple fact that it generates W3C-compliant code. You can create a mobile-responsive template as well, and preview it in Design mode. The design is converted and generated into HTML and CSS, without you needing to code or manually create a responsive site.

As for pricing, Webydo is a freemium service. It’s free with no ads, and the ability to set up unlimited Webydo subdomains. To host on your own domain, there is a low monthly cost, which is lower if you pay by year and includes unlimited bandwidth as well.

Another feature of Webydo’s platform is their interaction with the professionals who use their product. Webydo holds frequent meetings and daily feedback sessions with its community. Through these meetings and the online forums, they receive suggestions on new features, and hold voting sessions to determine the priority of each one’s implementation.

Adobe Muse

Muse is Adobe’s newest product for web designers, built as a complement for their Dreamweaver program. Where Dreamweaver was a robust yet bulky and difficult coding tool, Adobe’s Muse is a lighter build software that allows for visual editing, and no code manipulation.

Designers familiar with InDesign and Dreamweaver will recognize what seems to be a marriage between the two interfaces, making it more suitable for use by print designers, rather than web professionals. First you have to build a template – and then create your pages from said template, and then build a sitemap from those pages. Unfortunately this setup can become confusing with larger sites, which require a lot of pages to be designed and organized.

Muse also uses a canvas interface to build site designs. Users can place images and content where they choose to, and Muse will then generate code dependent on where items are placed. Designers are unable to modify or touch any of the code, as Muse is “code-free”.

However, this code-free feature can also be a drawback. The code generated by Muse does not always pass W3C standards checks. Adobe has flagged several issues to be improved in future updates: overuse of divs and CSS, web font support, lack of HTML5 semantics, and more. Although it has potential as a code-free web design program, it does lack SEO features.

Both of Webydo and Adobe Muse have their advantages. Are you a web designer that has tried out Webydo or Muse? Post a comment here, and share your own opinion with us.

Image credit: Flickr

10 Amazing Apps You’ve Never Heard Of

There are a million and a half apps out there (actually, there are probably more than that by now), and by the time you’re done reading this sentence, at least one or two more will have been launched.

Still – not every app’s a winner. Even if it’s free, we’re probably not going to download an app that blows out our birthday candles for us or regenerates your hair by pumping special frequencies into your follicles (seriously?). C’mon, people.

While there are many well-known apps that are truly great, there are a number of genuinely-cool apps that somehow manage to slip under the radar, apps that you’d probably download right this second if you only knew about them. But never fear! Here’s a list of 10 amazing apps you’ve never heard about.

1. Meal Snap

Picture this: you’ve been working hard as nails to stick to your diet and keep those calories low. Suddenly, one of your friends orders the most delicious-smelling entrees you’ve ever had the pleasure to smell on this side of heaven. “No, I can’t have a little bite!” You tell yourself furiously.

Good Housekeeping released this nifty app not too long ago to solve this dilemma: for $2.99, Meal Snap lets you take a picture of a plate of food, and you get an actually-pretty-accurate calorie count of the food. Never again will you have to think twice about that sweet aroma coming from behind the kitchen.

2. Postagram

Forget Instagram – Postagram’s got your back. With this groundbreaking picture app, you can use the pictures you’ve taken from your phone (from Instagram, Facebook, your personal camera shots, etc), and turn them into actual postcards that you can send just about anywhere with a mailbox.

The whole process takes only seconds – take a picture, upload it to Postagram, write one of those hilarious, heartfelt messages you’re known for, and mail it to the address of your choice. Brilliant.

3. 8 MM Vintage Camera

8mm Don’t have a genuine 1940′s vintage camera as a family heirloom? That’s crazy! Everyone has one of those.
Just kidding. Unless you’ve got several hundred dollars laying around, you really can’t afford a camera that gives you a genuine old-timey photo anymore. Don’t worry though, because for $1.99, you can download the 8 MM Vintage Camera app that turns your phone into a legitimate old school camera from way back in the day!

You can change the lens, the sound effects, and you can definitely match your grandmother’s photo when she was 20 and see just how similar you two look.

4. Fitocracy

fitnesssuperheroThis app won “App of the Year” by Men’s Journal, but it’s for the ladies as well. This free app is about the coolest approach to fitness I’ve ever seen – Fitocracy allows you to input that monster workout you just hammered out at the gym into the app, and you reach new levels/accomplish new challenges/show the world your muscles accordingly.

Love video games and RPG’s? Fitocracy havs challenges, levels, and rewards for every time you enter your workout. Compare with friends with who’s the buffest-I mean, who has the highest level!

5. Urban Spoon

urbanspoonSadly, this little-known app could have been the savior to countless nights arguing with friends about where to eat. Instead of talking in circles about where to eat that night (let’s face it, you guys probably just cycle through 3-4 locations every time), let Urban Spoon choose for you!

This free app lets you input what type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, how much you want to spend, and what areas you’re thinking about, and tells you exactly what options you guys can finally try out. Ditch the fast food burgers and try some delectable french pastries or some exotic Mediterranean plates.

6. ToiletFinder

Possibly one of the most ingenious apps ever invented, ToiletFinder informs you where the nearest public bathrooms are to your location. Need I say more?

7. Barcode Scanner

Have you ever been in the middle of your shopping groove, only to find that the item you really need doesn’t have a trace of a price on it? One of the most annoying scenarios that happens in stores, especially when there’s no one nearby to ask (and there’s never anyone nearby to ask).

Fortunately, Barcode Scanner gives the power of the price checker into your own hands. This free app lets you scan the barcode of any item, informing you of the price as well as tells you reviews for that product. Neat!

8. Find my iPhone

It’s surprising how many iPhones don’t have an app that tells them where their phone is. Whether you accidentally leave in the seat cushions at dinner or someone maliciously steals it from right under your nose, Find My iPhone is a must-have app for any iPhone user (you’ll obviously need to use this app from something else other than your phone!)

9. Skyscanner

If you’ve ever typed in “cheapest flights” in Google, you know about the flood of airline companies all vying to get you to click them instead of the other guys. By the time you find the cheapest flight, your trip already passed and it’s time for work again!

Skyscanner cuts through all the online bartering and lets you know the lowest advertised prices for an airplane ticket. Just punch in the names of two airports, and Skyscanner scans the sky (maybe not literally) and lets you know how to have the most inexpensive trip ever.

10. Find My Friends

findfriendsMore like “Real Time Stalking,” Find My Friends lets you locate other buddies with iPhones and see where they are and what they’re up to. Don’t know when your spouse is coming home for dinner? Want to see how far away your friends are to dinner? Find My Friends is a nifty (albeit potentially eyebrow-raising) app for 2013.

About the Author
James is the Development Community Manager at Injekt, an open platform for third party app developers. An avid designer and coder since he was 12, James writes and curates topics on both basic web development and advanced languages with a particular focus on mobile. Connect with James on Twitter and Google+.

Top Five Project Management Apps for Mobile

Identifying, planning, collaborating and executing projects are vital to the success of any business, and the success of projects can be greatly influenced by the use of a project management application. So to help you on your way, we have scoured the app stores, read a plethora of project management blogs consulted our panel of tame project managers to come up with the ultimate “Top Five Project Management apps for the Mobile”.

So, whether you are at your desk, on the train or sat at home in your PJ’s, you can access the following project management tools no matter what device you’re on. In no particular order;

1. Mavenlink – http://www.mavenlink.com/

This HTML5 application is available in the Google App store only as a desktop application. However is compatible with iPhones iPads and Android devices and any browser that’s HTML5 ready. The app contains powerful collaboration features including the usual task, time and expenses tracking as well as an activity feed, keeping you up to date with all the latest actions and comments from team members, and the ability to share and collaborate on documents.

Cost – the standard access is free, with 500MB of storage. Professional access starts at $19/user/month with 20GB of data and additional features such as invoicing, time tracking and expense tracking.

HTML5 App (works on Android & iPhone) – m.mavenlink.com

2. BaseCamp – http://basecamp.com/mobile

Basecamp is considered a veteran of Project Management tools, and since 2004 has seen more than 8 million projects managed using the software. Basecamp allows you to create projects, add team members, start discussions, create and assign to do lists, upload documents and set due dates all with calendar integration.

The Basecamp App is only available for iPhone at present, but offers mobile browser integration so Android users aren’t left wanting.

Cost: Pricing is based on the number of projects and storage rather than users. $20 a month gives an unlimited number of users – the apps are free – and access to 10 projects and 3GB of data storage, or opt into the all singing all dancing Unlimited projects and 500GB of data for $3000 a year..

iPhone App – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id599139477

3. Clarizen – http://www.clarizen.com/

Clarizen contains a packed toolbox of project management features combining resource management, task management, issue management, budget management, team collaboration and time tracking all under one roof. With the option to report and export to a selection of other systems including MS Project, Salesforce and Google Docs.

The mobile application is available on Android and iPhone, offering all features included in its’ desktop counterpart.

Cost: There are no freebies here, with 3 tariffs beginning at $24.95/user/month, the only difference between the packages is access to the API and the volume of custom fields and mailboxes available.

iPhone App – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/clarizen/id407229256
Android App – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=clarizen.com

4. Evernote – http://evernote.com/evernote/

The elephant in the room (in a good way), Evernote was originally designed as a note taking app to boost productivity, which subsequently evolved to support a whole host of project management features including; store files, collaborate on notes taken, store webpages and keep Itineraries whilst syncing simultaneously across multiple devices.

Cost: Free to download and access. Premium functionality at $5 per month/user includes added collaboration functionality, greater upload volume and powerful in document search capabilities.

iPhone App – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/evernote/id281796108?mt=8
Android App – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.evernote

5. Google Drive – https://drive.google.com/

Need to build a presentation, share and work on a flow chart or just brainstorm in a word document? Google drive has you covered and all you need is a Gmail login.

Although Google drive is primarily for document storage, it boasts a host of features ideal for project management. The storage solution allows you to store, share and collaborate on documents in real-time with any web users or create specific teams, use Google’s search functionality to find and sort documents whilst getting updates of user activity on shared documents.

Cost: Free and well worth utilising. As it’s from Google there will no doubt be more innovative features added over time.

Phone App – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/google-drive/id507874739?mt=8
Android App – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.docs

Think we’ve missed a Project Management tool that should definitely make the top 5? Why not drop us a line and share your thoughts…

Author Bio: Edward Jones works for provider of official PMP certifications Firebrand Training. Edward writes on a series of Project Management related topics including How to Guides, product reviews and Industry news.

Six Awesome Apps For Your New Android Phone

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Connected devices are taking over as the world undergoes the most momentous technology shift since the internet was first opened up to the public. The same way PCs took over from mainframes, mobile devices are quickly replacing PCs and full size laptops.

Smartphone prices continue to drop and screen sizes get wider as more people want to do more things on their phone. It’s not so much that smartphones are taking over, it’s connected devices that are taking over and some of them happen to make phone calls. And what we’re seeing today is just the warmup act, what’s coming is even more amazing.

In the meantime smartphones have taken over our lives and have become more than a convenient phone, they are task managers, a compass when you’re lost, a light in the darkness, a still camera, a video camera and a device to watch movies and play games.

If you’re new to smartphones, here are the first six apps you’ll want to explore on that new Android phone. I was going to put Google Now on top of the list, but that’s only available for Android 4 and, for the five or six people who have that, it’s an awesome feature. The rest of us have to wait and that’s why Now didn’t make my list.

What you can get right now is amazing enough.

Netflix

netflixNearly identical to the experience you get on your PC. Even at 3G speeds you can still watch your favorites movies and TV shows. In fact, for spouses that Netflix cheat (watch an episode before their partner) most often that cheating happens on their phone.

Any.Do

any.doIf your life is driven by a hectic schedule, tame the wild timeline of your life with Any.Do. Featuring online sync, task snoozing, speech recognition, and a raft of options for reminding you about appointments, Any.Do is your digital valet. While it may not cover for you on the last bender, you can wipe away the evidence with a flick of your finger. Like it was never there.

The Weather Channel

weather_channelThis app made our list of Top Rated Weather Apps and is a must have if weather is a concern. Whether you’re at home or on the road the weather will never again sneak up on you and ruin your outing.

Pocket

pocketWhen you see something online you want to read later, store it in Pocket. The best part is you can sync Pocket across multiple devices for later viewing. You can also archive stories after reading them which are searchable by subject.

Google Hangouts

hangoutsIf your phone has dual cameras Hangouts is awesome for being able to have face to face meetings on the go anywhere. I use hangouts to routinely talk to family and friends and have regular meetings with a publisher in Virginia. Flip between rear and forward cameras to show your friends a view of where you are.

Google Voice

voiceIf you didn’t have enough reasons to get Google Voice before, you have another good one now. A Google Voice number is better than a burner phone and coupled with the app it’s nearly seamless on your phone. You can give it out to anyone without any connection back to your regular phone number. Screen calls, block numbers or route callers to specific voicemail boxes. The feature most people like the most on Google Voice is the transcripts of voicemails which is free, most cellular providers are charging extra for that feature. Google Voice is better than a phone number.

This is far from an exhaustive list but it will get you started with a set of features that will transform the phone in your hand into an information gateway to the world around you.

Like I said up above, this is just the warmup act. What’s coming just around the corner is even more amazing.

Google Introduces New Services And Features At I/O Conference

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Google announced a flurry of new services and updates to existing services at their I/O Conference in San Francisco. There were a steady stream of new products and enhancements to established services, so much so at times it was like trying to get a drink of water out of a fire hose.

For developers Google announced three new APIs, all of which will supply big improvements in battery usage. The fused location provider will supposedly use only 1 percent of the battery power used by older APIs. Along with that will be the Geofencing API, which tracks user location changes and activity recognition which can tell if a user is driving, walking or biking.

Whatever you’re doing you’ll be able to tap into Google’s new All Access streaming music service. Sign up now and get a free month and only $7.99 a month if sign up before June 30th, after that it will be $9.99 a month. Google says its service will make it easy to find and organize the type of music you like and with everything that Google knows about you that might be more frighteningly accurate than you would imagine.

Google Maps is getting a raft of new features that will make it easier to explore the world around you while keeping track of traffic, mass transit schedules and the fastest route to your favorite places to eat. Map enhancements will include 3D views, integration with Google Earth and…don’t ask me how they’re doing this…real-time rendering of cloud cover around the globe.

Google is touting the cross-platform theme for all their services and gaming APIs, one of the reasons I believe they’ll ultimately survive to take over the world from Apple and Microsoft. Users just don’t care about operating systems anymore, but developers do. Being able to build for all platforms against a single set of APIs is a very big advantage for Google. Cross platform and single sign-on for a variety of services is convenient for users and, if it’s one thing I’ve learned about technology over the years, always bet on convenience.google_maps_traffic

It remains to be seen if updates to Google+ will make that application any less of a muddled mess, but I’m not hopeful. HangOut keeps getting better and stands to become a serious competitor for Skype, TeamViewer and other group sharing apps, able to support multi-user video conference calls right out of the box.

With a continued emphasis on open development and small, quick apps, Google is like a digital candy store that keeps cranking out the gummy bears. If Apple and Microsoft don’t come up with a competitive strategy to co-opt developers and package services for users, it’s going to be a long, slow slide to obscurity for both of them.

Five Tips For Getting The Most From Your Wifi-Only Tablet

kindle_fire_7inAccording to sales statistics most of you seem content with wifi-only tablets, much to the chagrin of wireless data carriers. AT&T, Verizon and the others would much rather see you paying for data you don’t use or, even better, exceeding your bandwidth caps.

Statistically you’re also content with 7 inch tablets, which seems to be the sweet spot between screen real estate and convenient portability. In the go-go days of desktops you could look forward to buying a new, bigger machine with a new operating system every couple years. Today you’re downsizing, your apps and data are in the cloud and that big PC sits largely unused.

But wifi-only is not exactly second tier technology these days and with these handy apps you might not notice much difference at all.

Kindle Reader

Download thousands of books to read at your leisure, online or disconnected. Anytime you’ve got a few minutes you can get lost in your favorite book.

Pocket

Formerly known as Read It Later, Pocket lets you grab web pages, twitter feeds and videos for offline viewing. It takes only a few minutes to pocket enough material to get you through your morning commute.

Wifi Analyzer

Never wonder if there’s an open network nearby with Wifi Analyzer. Find the best networks and just the right place to sit for optimum reception.wifi_analyzer

Offline Mapping

Google Maps has new features for offline navigation, provided you lookup the route before you leave a hotspot, you can get around with 3D maps and a host of offline functionality. With City Maps 2Go you have to pay for the download maps but the detail is quite good.

gmapsThese apps will make paper maps a thing of the past, which is going to be a real problem for pirate movies of the future.

Google Voice or SendHub

When Google bought Grand Central it kind of dropped off the map, but they’re still working on it. In the meantime other competitors have arrived on the scene.  Get a free phone number or port your old phone number over for a small fee. With online telephony you can listen to messages, read transcripts, send text messages and make calls, all from a web interface. You can create custom messages for groups or individuals, screen calls and myriad of other handy features.

Early problems kept Voice from being more popular than it could have been and the fusion of your phone and the web it still a very compelling combination. Being able to send texts from your tablet is a great feature. Having a phone number to hand out that masks your real phone number and blocks that can’t be skirted by phone company greed or policy is an awesome feature.

With the explosion of useful apps and the portable power of tablets it’s becoming easier to tell AT&T where they can stick their expensive data plans and that may be the best feature of all.

Networks Experiment With Live TV Via Smartphone

abc

Mobile technology has been rapidly changing the world since data first became an option on cell phones. Through most of the march of technology content providers have been reacting to changes in the market. Now it appears content providers are more willing to forge their own path in mobile media instead of dealing with a middleman aggregator like Hulu or iTunes.

The gold rush in mobile media has been building for a long time as years of fighting for revenue with more traditional entertainment pipelines, such as cable and satellite, have left both sides weary and annoyed at one another. Entertainment providers are growing increasingly hesitant to deal with aggregators and feel that mobile entertainment offers them the ability forge their own path forward.

Networks are starting to dip their toe in the direct to mobile market. CBS is making full episodes available through streaming apps on the iPhone and iPads, although the episodes aren’t available until 24 hours after the show airs on television and are delayed by 8 days for prime time shows.

ABC just announced their first app aimed at live streaming to Apple devices and Windows 8, but they’re pushing it more aggressively with their app syncing up with their cable and satellite providers to provide live content on the go. You can bet that ABC’s parent company, Walt Disney, is looking for ways to forge their own entertainment distribution channels as well and will be monitoring ABC’s experience closely.

Android apps are supposedly in the works and should be popping up later this year.

The mobile content land grab is on in force and I believe that when the dust settles this will be a big plus for consumer choice. Content providers will be free to deal directly with consumers rather than forge relationships with middleman providers, eliminating another layer of profit between consumers and their favorite shows.

Another side effect of the great mobile land grab will also be the democratization of content development. Independent developers will be able to bypass the lengthy and frustrating process of trying to negotiate distribution deals and make their pitch directly to consumers.

In the end it will mean more choice and more competition, at least at first. Eventually the forces of Balkanization will consolidate choices in the mobile market, just like they did in broadcast and internet technologies. But that will take time and in the meantime, we will have more choices.

The interesting question to me is that TV on a smartphone is not much different than carrying a small portable TV. Maybe some consumers are starting to think they already watch too much TV and this will be a step too far. Either way look for the mobile push to make big changes in the worlds of technology and entertainment.

Google Now Coming To Your Desktop

500px-Android

Google Now is a mobile Android app that takes predictive technology to the next level. So much so that one starts to wonder exactly where the line between “convenience” and “creepy” is actually drawn. Google Now knows where you’re going, when you’re going to get there and can make some eyebrow-raising guesses at what you’re going to need when you arrive. All that combined with reminder and organization features that make Siri look primitive by comparison.

I do have to say the convenience is quite amazing; during your commute to work Google Now will map out alternate routes in case you run into traffic and keep you posted on train and bus schedules. Near mealtimes Now will present a panel with nearby restaurants and if you’re by a particular restaurant it will present the menu. Besides the location features Now also keeps tabs on the weather, notifies you of changes to your flights when traveling, keeps you on schedule for your appointments and keeps you posted on your travel time back home. The panels in Google Now are constantly changing to provide information about where you are and what it thinks you might need when you get where you’re going.

Now speculation abounds that Google is getting ready to integrate Now with the desktop. Support for Windows and Chrome OS have been spotted in the wild and, once the applications are opened up to third party developers, the universe that is Google Now could expand dramatically.

Imagine the possibilities for a suite of applications that coordinate both your work and personal life, for those of you fortunate enough to have a life outside work. Google Now would know when you’re at the office and switch over to desktop mode automatically, when your phone leaves it knows you’re on the move and starts populating your panels with relevant information.

The big, red flag with applications like Now is, of course, privacy. Google Now not only can take a guess about where you’re going but it will know everywhere you’ve been. If you’re around other people also on the service, the system would be able to build a relationship matrix in the background, both in your working and private life. And that’s just your physical location information. Google would be able to combine all that with what knows from your email, contacts and search as well.

In the age old battle between privacy and convenience, the smart money is on convenience. But now we’re starting to get into some pretty scary privacy territory. Santa Claus won’t be the only one who knows when you’re sleeping and when you’re awake, or whether you’ve been naughty or nice. As more of our life revolves around our phones, the greater the privacy implications. And there’s no place to hide from your own phone.

For now the Google Now server URL remains out of reach for testing, but as soon as it’s available, you can check back here for the full review.

Three Ways To Tame Chrome’s Start Page

speed_dial

For those wanting to customize that start page, the ways to do it through Chrome’s internals are bizarre and, in some cases, complex. The way the start page works has changed over the last couple years and searching for help frequently lead to outdated solutions that no longer work.

It was a problem looking for an app to fix and clever developers responded with some tools that make Chrome’s start page a customizable wonder and tear down the limitations on how the start page is setup.

Speed Dial

Speed Dial, pictured above, lets you configure the number of shortcut panels and includes many site logo panels. It’s simple, attractive and very useful. You can customize the number and size of the panels and set your own background. Speed Dial adds a speed link to your address bar which you can later disable when your panel page is set to your liking.

My only dings on Speed Dial are there could be more site logos and every so often some site panels will go blank for no apparent reason. Aside from those two minor dings it’s a big improvement over the stock start page. Note that Speed Dial 2 is a similar application by a different author, not the second generation of Speed Dial. Really, I like them both so you can’t really go wrong if you select the other one.

Incredible Startpage

incredible_Start

A Google featured extension Incredible Startpage rearranges the start page to include both side shortcuts and other types of bookmarks and task panels. The big bonus to Incredible Startpage is being able to put your apps on the same page as your shortcuts. Something that seems odd Google couldn’t figure out for themselves.

Start!

start

Start! is a highly rated bookmarks and app aggregator for your Chrome start page. Has a convenient Ctrl + R refresh shortcut for the days you’re burning up the net. This is another app that puts bookmarks and apps on the same page. Still a mystery that Google didn’t come up with that on their own, but that’s what keeps developers in business, right?

These three apps will make your Chrome start page a joy to use and take a good idea and make it even better.

Microsoft Modifies Office 2013 License and Three Alternatives If You Don’t Like It

officeChanges to Microsoft’s Office 2013 licensing agreement have users and journalists alike confused about the future of Office installations and what it means if your computer dies.

The most consistent answer is that the new licensing agreement binds Office 2013 to a single computer for life. If that computer dies or you have to reinstall Windows and Office 2013, the most frequent, though not universal, answer is that reinstalling on the same machine under those circumstances will be alright but transferring the license to another computer will not fly under the new rules.

The latest puzzling ding to Office users comes on the heels of the somewhat unpopular Windows 8 offering and have left many casting a wary eye on the future of their productivity applications. Many of the Microsoft faithful have determined their best option is to stay on Windows 7 and Office 2010, essentially forever. In the meantime here are some options for those considering alternatives.

GoogleApps For Business

Probably the best indicator of how fast GoogleDocs has grown in functionality are the number of companies scrapping Office and Outlook in favor of the business version of GoogleApps. I’ve helped many small businesses make that transition and, after a period of adjustment, most end up liking the portability and platform independence.

As more companies transition to a Bring Your Own Tech business model, device and platform compatibility become more important. In combination with services under development, like GoogleVoice, Google may be closing in on a turn-key office system with many compelling features.

LibreOffice

Now up to version 4, LibreOffice was forked from OpenOffice in 2010 and pursued a divergent development path. LibreOffice is a full-featured and powerful desktop productivity suite with a wide base of OS support.

While functional, the downside to Writer and Calc can be that there are formating and compatibility issues with Microsoft products. LibreOffice may be fine for you, but if all your customers use office and the documents you send back and forth don’t look right, that’s not a win.

OxygenOffice Professional

Another OpenOffice fork that comes packaged with templates, clipart, and 3D models so you don’t have to chase all those down yourself. It also comes with VBA support for automation.

Caligra Office

Calligra Office is one of the few that has a project manager built-in along with an app called BrainDump that lets you capture and organize your thoughts and brainstorming ideas. Calligra Office has some compelling features and it’s an application package worth watching.

If you stick with Office 2013 and run into a situation where you have to reinstall Office and you don’t like the answer you get from one tech support operator, try a different one.  Right now there is a lot of confusion, even inside Microsoft, so don’t hesitate to shop for a better answer if at first you don’t succeed.