Over the weekend, I ran into this story
Of course, I had to share it with my friends. It was interesting to see it being favourited and shared.
And, of course (2), I had to try it myself. Here’s my result as an image. I was really impressed with the stats popping up as you would mouse over various countries.
Did it take more than the minute promised? Probably; I’m a slow reader.
It was fun and would have been the sort of activity that would have been done at a computer contact meeting. There’s a lot there like finding and copying data, moving to a spreadsheet, copying it and then using the magic Google pixie dust to turn the data into the map.
I was ready to bookmark and move on when I got a message. “Hey, Doug, we’re an Office 365 board and can’t use Google. Will it work with Office 365?”
I didn’t know the answer right off but it seems like it should be possible. I don’t have an Office 365 account so I can’t be sure on that platform but I do have my regular Microsoft account. I decided to give it a shot and go pure Microsoft. That meant using Windows and the Edge browser.
I didn’t get far before I ran into challenges.
The first challenge came after I selected the data from the Wikipedia article. It copied all right but wouldn’t paste into Excel Online properly. Instead of honouring the various cells, everything from that country pasted into the same cell. This would take a lot of fixing to get right. I tried a few times to see if it was something that I was doing wrong. No dice. Then, I opened a new sheet in Google Sheets and it pasted properly. I copied again and pasted back into Excel and it went well. So spreadsheet to spreadsheet was OK.
The second challenge came when I wanted to draw the map. The selection of charts in Excel Online didn’t include an appropriate map. There was this…
It wasn’t the same. I poked around and looked for some add-ins that might do the trick but I couldn’t find something that looked like it would do the trick.
I’m now well over a minute.
I turned to OneNote. Bringing the data in generated an error that only 100 items could be pasted. I went with a smaller set of data but couldn’t find a way to generate the map.
So, for this example, it looks like there was only one choice.
I find that it doesn’t hurt to try out new things that will challenge my way of thinking or doing things. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a rut.
Over the weekend, I had read about Opera Neon, a concept browser from Opera, and read their rationale that the web needs a new browser. I was definitely intrigued so I immediately set off to download and check it out.
I installed the Macintosh version and was up and running in a few seconds. And, in that few seconds, I realized that I was in a different world.
In my world, I turn off bookmark bars and status setting so that I get more room to read content rather than constantly scrolling. So, I was really interested to see what would happen as the information indicate that Opera didn’t have tabs in the traditional sense. Traditional tabs do take up screen real estate.
But before I got there, I experienced “newness” just in the setup.
Neon, rather than taking a traditional approach to a browser mimics a desktop. In fact, you can bring in your desktop image as its background. So, I did that. Interestingly, like most browsers upon installation, you’re invited to bring in settings that are already there from another browser. I expected to be able to import from Opera Next or Chrome since it’s based on the Chromium project. Instead, the only option was to import from Firefox. Not a problem. I wonder if I had the actual production version of Opera that I could pull from there. No matter.
And I was off.
My next step was to look for a few of things that I have come to rely on with Opera Next – Turbo Mode, ad blocking, and the VPN. They don’t appear to be available. That didn’t come as a big surprise; after all, it was a first download of a concept. I did look to install some extensions – notably LastPass and Scribefire, two which I use daily. Extensions aren’t available either. OK, not a real problem, I can use WordPress’ internal editor and do an Option-Tab to copy and paste from Opera Next. It’s still early days.
Instead of lamenting upon what wasn’t there, I decided to poke around to see what was there. Exploring was really a pleasant experience. Here’s a screen grab.
Regular browser users should notice a few things.
First of all, there are no tabs at the top of the screen. Instead, take a look to the right side and you’ll see a number of bubbles. These would correspond to the tabs that I would normally have open. And, yes, you can have more than six. I’d be dead in the water without all the tabs that I normally use. Add more and you get scrollbars to go through them. It was an interesting experience; I thought that I’d be scrolling forever but I wasn’t. The latest used tab goes at the top and the browser works to identify the tabs that you use most and they bubble to the top. I didn’t find the need to go looking; perhaps that says more about my untidy browsing habits.
On the left side, you’ll see a number of icons that let you quickly access media, crop part of the screen, check downloads, etc. That’s a very nice touch; I often have to go searching for the features in the menu or use an extension. As with Opera Next, videos can pop out and play while you go about your business. If only I had fast enough internet access to truly enjoy that.
But look in the centre. Here is where I was really blown away. You have the ability to have side by side browser screens open. That is a feature that I took to immediately. When working in a Google document, it’s often so nice to have another resource handy. In the screen capture, I have Monday’s post on the left and today’s editor on the right. See how productive I can be? The reality is that I might just have Twitter or Facebook open in one so that I don’t miss a thing!
The new tab takes on an interesting format for Opera’s Speed Dial. The new address reminds me a bit of the Edge browser. But the floating bubbles for bookmarks stole my attention.
Click one and you’re on the site.
It was an interesting and yet uneasy tour of the browser. I liked that there was so much new to explore and play with. I didn’t like the frustration when I would reach for something that I would do in a traditional browser and it wasn’t there or worked differently. I guess we just get engrained with a certain skillset.
If you don’t like any of your existing wallpapers, the Neon browser has a couple of new wallpapers “inspired” by Neon that you can download and use. They are very well designed; I may end up using one of them eventually.
If you want to explore and possibly get thrown out of your comfort zone at the same time, download it for Windows/Macintosh from here.
Is this a look at the future of browsers? In a world where every browser works essentially the same way to the end user, it was a refreshing experience. I can’t wait to see where Opera takes it.
Localingual is another terrific way to explore the world.
And contribute back, if you are so inclined.
Visit the site and you’re presented with a nicely coloured world map.
So, pick a country – any country. In my case, I chose Denmark.
Then, check out the sidebar to the right.
Look at the variety of languages. Click on either the female or male icon to here the name of the country spoken in that language.
But there’s more.
Beside some of the languages, you’ll find what I would call a conversation cloud. Click it to open a new panel showing various phrases or more. Each of these are playable as well.
I’ll bet that you give your mouse and speakers a good work out.
What an interesting and engaging way to explore the world!
The whole project is incredibly well done. Sure, we’ve all seen maps online but this takes it even further – what more can we do with maps?