For years, I’ve been using My Yahoo! as my start page. It has lots of great modules available, I use a free Yahoo! account as my “web form” address (instead of Hotmail), and I use Yahoo! groups, all of which has made it pretty functional. When they added the ability to add any RSS feed instead of just their own modules, I was convinced that I’d never switch.
Today, I tried out Netvibes, and I’ve already switched my start page over. There’s a few things that I’m missing (such as the movie times for my local theatre), but there other things that I find to be useful enough to make the switch.
- First of all, a to do list. That sounds like a small thing, and there are a ton of other apps that will do that for me, but to have it integrated into my start page so that it stares me in the face every time I open my browser is a big help.
- Secondly, and more significant, is access into my POP mail account so that the last 5 (number configurable) email subject lines are displayed. It doesn’t provide click-through access to my email, but gives me a heads-up about anything that might need my attention. Since I have a bookmarks module containing a link to my webmail immediately below that, I effectively have one-click access to my email anyway, which is one click less than it takes to access it via MyYahoo. I spend almost my entire day with multiple tabs open in Firefox, but without Outlook open because it can be a real resource hog, so I sometimes just handle email directly through the webmail client. The really ironic part is that Yahoo! hosts my email (my real paid account as well as my free one), yet I can’t do this with MyYahoo: it will only provide a count of the number of messages in my free Yahoo! account on the MyYahoo page, and nothing related to my real account.
- Third is the interface: sleek, easy to use, and advertising-free (for now). I suppose that they’ll have to monetize this through advertising at some point, but right now it’s beautifully unadorned.
- Last, I just figured out how to add an iCal feed from my upcoming.org calendar – cool! And there are a ton of independently-created add-ins, such as the Google maps module which provides the functionality that is missing natively.
Just to summarize, here’s what I have on my NetVibes start page:
- Left column: Upcoming.org (viewable as agenda/week/month); BBC news headlines; CBC news headlines
- Centre column: POP mail (last 6 email senders/subjects); bookmarks (imported from my Firefox bookmarks, organized in folders)
- Right column: To do list (with “done” checkboxes); Toronto weather; Google map search form; Mountain View weather (I’m headed there soon for Mashup Camp; also shows the current date/time there)