The first official beta of Flock was launched last week and as it promised so much I gave it an extended test. Eight months ago I was pretty scathing about Flock. Not for me was the upshot of my brief trial. So why is it now so close to becoming my default browser?
The browser has established itself as the most used app on a pc, for me at least. Get news, share opinions, shop, blog, download etc etc etc. No other app is used as much as the browser. So to move application it has to be as quick as the opposition, render pages accurately and also support easy migration from your old app. Flock is based on Mozilla (same code as Firefox) and I found the import of data to be excellent. Cookies and form data were imported as well as favourites although how the favourites were stored is another matter – more on that later.
I thought the previous version of Flock was slow, not just in the application itself but also rendering web pages – not so this version. Almost all of the extra functionality worked well and was snappy in use. Web page rendering was fast and accurate. I also love the look of the app – more like a Mac than a Windows app although after using Vista there are some influences from there too. You can easily see when there is new photo or news content – a small orange circle shows you when your contacts or RSS feeds have been updated. Makes for an easier browsing experience.
Flock integrates with Flickr and Photobucket via a Photo’s topbar. Once you allow the app to talk to your Flickr account it will check to see if your contacts have added any new photo’s and let you know when there are new ones to view. You can easily select your own photo’s or your contacts to be viewed in the topbar. Click on the photo to view it in the browser itself. You can also view your own, contacts or public photo’s by tag. The topbar totally changes how I use Flickr and now makes it easy to keep up to date with new content.
If this wasn’t enough Flock also comes with it’s own uploader application to make publication to Flickr easy. Drag photo’s from any webpage to the topbar and it will launch the uploader app (which can be launched independently at any time). Using this app you can crop, rotate, resize images before uploading and create a new set, add to an existing set and then upload your images. You can also select files from your hard disk or just drag from explorer onto the app. Works really well and your newly uploaded images are instantly viewable in the topbar. More details after the jump. Continue reading
Opened my mobile phone bill and spotted that from 1st July Orange will now charge Â£1.50 to receive a fully itemised bill. As usual they will auto subscribe you to this great feature unless you opt out. To opt out text BILL to 2018 or call 150 from your phone and speak to customer services. You can get itemised billing online for free but obviously times are tight in the land of Orange. I’ll be keenly looking elsewhere as my contract is up and I don’t like underhand actions like this by companies I use. Just don’t see a phone that I want to get.
A new firmware update is being pushed out for Sky HD boxes. Details of the fixes can be seen here but include the time loss issue I mentioned and increased stability. Good to see official Sky reps keeping users informed in forums like Digital Spy. Sometimes they do listen.
First screen from my freshly installed Vista Beta 2. After partitioning my drive to allow for dual booting with XP and getting an iso image to finally burn correctly I installed Vista tonight. It took around an hour and a half to install but this was unattended so you could wander off and watch some football while it churned.
Flickr set is up although with only a few screens to begin with. Quick impressions – boot time is long, looks to be more security aware, couple of nice window opening effects, alt tab nice, speed seems ok which was surprising, Windows Update managed to install all my drivers which considering the pc is two years old was pretty impressive, XP still works, there still some Win 95 icons in there – it’s not crashed yet. I’m really wanting to test out day to day functionality like search, robustness etc as I’ve almost made my mind up that my next pc will be a mac…the beta will be a good test before I switch. More updates when I’ve used it in anger.
Ok – first night with it. Not done much except install Office Beta and also anti-virus. Thought I would use AVG free but once downloaded I tried to run it but Vista wouldn’t let me install – there are issues that might break Vista and I should contact the suppliers to pester them for a fix. Sigh. Microsoft though have sorted out a PC-Cillin anti-virus package that runs for the length of the Vista beta – that installed with no issues.
Tried Media Centre – worked OK although it seemed to crash on building my music library. Started it off well before the England game tonight but by half-time it stil hadn’t doen anything. Stopped the program, set-up library via Media Player 11 and it seems to be ok now. It’s either really slow (pc left unattended for 90 minutes yet failed to import 5000 tracks) or it crapped out.
Saying that system feels really usable. Office works well and one O/S has loaded it doesn’t feel any slower than XP. Need to delve into search though and see how that works. Pop-ups asking for permission to run apps and install programs is a tad frustrating too.