Thoughts on technology, investing, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Alternative to Adobe Acrobat for printing to PDF

If youâ??re looking for an alternative to Adobe Acrobat for creating PDF documents, Pdf995 by Software995 is an outstanding choice. Iâ??ve been using it to create PDF documents as a print driver and it works seamlessly. The only drawback to the free version is that a sponsored ad will pop-up in an Internet Explorer window (even if you use Firefox) each time you print to PDF. But as a very clean print driver for creating PDF documents from Windows, I havenâ??t found it obtrusive. This is especially true when you consider the price!

RSS news readers

Iâ??m currently on a quest to find an RSS news feed reader. Iâ??ve simply been using Firefox to this point to manage my feeds, but Iâ??ve found Iâ??ve outgrown the basic functionality provided by the browser and its extensions. Iâ??ve just installed trial versions of FeedDemon and NewsGator Outlook version. Iâ??m debating whether to use a separate app or keep everything within Microsoft Outlook. As a heavy Outlook user, the integration makes sense. The problem is there are less of the really useful features included compared to the stand-alone applications. Specifically, I like the built-in browser functionality in FeedDemon as well as its watchlists and “news clipping” features.

FeedDemon is created by Nick Bradbury, the creator of TopStyle and Homesite. The usability of Homesite was outstanding, so I have high expectations for this product. After I pound on both these software products, Iâ??ll post a more detailed commentary.

I’ve also tried FeedReader, but it was woefully lacking features. If all you need is a basic feed reader (thatâ??s free), I guess this is a viable option. Iâ??d stick with using a browser over FeedReader though.

If anyone has suggestions on other great RSS feed readers, please let me know.

Interesting Google facts

Reading Frank Barnako’s latest Internet Daily column, I saw an interesting mention of a recent interview with Google’s Product Manager, Marissa Mayer. This is a highly recommended read as it provides some fascinating insights into the founders and culture of Google. The interview specifically underscores the importance of focusing on and managing to the user experience.

SearchEngineWatch also has some additional stories on Google from Mayer.

Apple launches low-end MP3 player and PC

Walt Mossberg’s personal technology column has an article about Apple’s two new products. The first is a stripped down Macintosh starting at $500. The second (and much more interesting to me) is a $99 iPod. Named the iPod Shuffle, this is an iPod with less functionality. Instead of a hard drive, the Shuffle uses flash memory. In addition, the iPod Shuffle limits users to around 120 songs versus the iPod’s thousands.

Mossberg gives it a so-so review, praising some features while questioning missing features that made the iPod a smashing success (no screen, no scroll wheel). From what I’ve seen so far, there are numerous competitors with quality products at this price point. In contrast, the Apple iPod, for the functionality delivered, has much less competition. I’m sure this will be another success though. Simply because of the aura and buzz currently surrounding anything iPod, the Shuffle will sell very well.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Apple or its products, but I give credit where it is due. You have a hot product that has spawned its own mini-industry providing everything from music sites to accessories. With the nature of the consumer electronics market, Apple is doing the smart move to strike while the iPod is hot and milk its success for all its worth.

Additional Resources:
Apple Launches Low-End PC And $99 Digital Music Player
Macworld ’05: A New Direction?

The Apple iPod Shuffle

Yahoo desktop search (YDS)

It looks like Yahoo is finally entering the fray. Joining Google and Microsoft, Yahoo now has its own free desktop search tool providing users the ability to search their entire hard drive as well as the internet. I have only used Googleâ??s version so far and found it to be somewhat slow. Yahoo promises to be fast and support over 200 files types, so Iâ??ll have to see.

Apparently, YDS is based on technology from X1 which has had a great reputation for some time now.