Xobni beta invites

Image representing Xobni as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

In December I got into the Xobni invite-only beta, and I still have five invites left to give out – add a comment to this post with your email address if you want one.

Xobni is an Outlook plug-in that runs statistics on your email and gives you a different perspective on it. For example, there is a lot of information in your email about the people you communicate with and the relationships between them that is usually very hard for you to see. Xobni extracts that information and presents it to you very simply in a little sidebar.

It can automatically extract contact information from emails people have sent you (e.g. in their signature), which means you don’t have to go looking for it or maintain all that information yourself.

It works out what contacts have relationships with what other contacts, to help you easily email a group of related people.

It can help you find files you’ve sent to or received from people – something that’s tricky even with the cool search stuff Microsoft added to Outlook 2007.

It can also help you schedule meetings by examining your calendar and working out when you’re free.

The more email you have, the harder it is to organize. With Xobni, the more email you have the more it can help you.

 

 

 

 

 

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My Own Kind of Freedom

Firefly (TV series)Image from WikipediaIn February, Steven Brust published an unauthorized Firefly fanfic novel on the Internet. I’ve only just got around to finishing it.

Let me first of all say that I am a fan of Firefly – and I mean “fan” in its fullest sense, as in short for “fanatic“. As far as I’m concerned Firefly is the best sci-fi TV show ever made. The dialog was amazing, the unsteady-steadicam effects both on set and in CGI (!) were a breath of fresh air, the writing, the realism… The fact that it was cancelled after a single series is a travesty.

I didn’t think the Serenity movie was anywhere near as good as the Firefly series, though I couldn’t say why – it just didn’t feel the same. I wanted it to be good so very much.

I’ve also been a fan of Steven Brust’s Dragaeran series, which I was introduced to, very strangely, by Penny Arcade. He’s not the best author I’ve ever read – there’s an air of wish fulfillment to his books that smells amateurish, but I still bought almost all of the books in the series. I worried about his Firefly fanfic, as fanfic tends to be amateurish and full of wish fulfillment at the best of times.

However I was very pleasantly surprised – I don’t think the novel could have been better if it’d been written by Joss Whedon himself. He’s got the characters to a T – I could imagine all of the characters in the series saying all of the dialog in the book, thinking the same things (even River!) and acting in the same ways. Brust must have done a lot of research, because he even has all of the Chinese swearing and technical jargon down. Separate from the fanfic aspect, as a novel on its own there’s nothing to complain about – the plotting is clean and professional. All in all a good read.

I do now understand why people complain about reading things on computer screens (although I still view people who print out emails with eyebrow raised).