Tag Archive for 'tech'

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closedAfter knock­ing over a cup of wine onto my Siemens s66, I knew the LCD screen would nev­er be the same. So, after scour­ing eBay and Craigslist, I decid­ed to get the RAZR v3 Black.

Every­one kept telling me that the Motoro­la UI is hor­ri­ble, but I find it sim­ple and intu­itive com­pared to the mess that is Siemens.

The cam­era size (VGA) seems like a step down from the Siemen’s 1.3 MP, but I think the qual­i­ty will be bet­ter. The lens is eas­i­er to clean, and the RAZR seems to adjust to changes in light bet­ter. But, I can’t fig­ure out why there is no one-touch access to the Cam­era.

And, though the phone can’t sync to my Power­book wire­less­ly with Blue­tooth & iSync, the phone has a mini-USB port. (Cin­gu­lar doesn’t give you the cable, but luck­i­ly my Canon Elph did!) I was able to trans­fer home-made ring­tones and wall­pa­per via Blue­tooth, though.

Last­ly, you can’t beat the look and feel of the RAZR. Alu­minum just feels smooth and cool in your hand, but I decid­ed to get the black mod­el because it seemed a bit less showy.

So far, so good!

Microsoft Live Betas

Windows Live mail I was just sort­ing through the 500 spam mes­sages in my Hot­mail inbox, and noticed that I received both a Mail Beta and a Mes­sen­ger Beta invi­ta­tion.

Mail looks nice and sim­ple, and the drag-and-drop func­tion­al­i­ty is showy. But, it only works in IE6/PC, and it’s slug­gish as hell. I wasn’t able to select & delete more than 10–15 spam mes­sages at a time with­out it tim­ing-out. SIGN UP HERE

Windows Live Messenger Beta Mes­sen­ger got a face lift, and they added some VOIP func­tion­al­i­ty. The “Shared Fold­er” fea­ture sounds inter­est­ing, but I don’t know any­body else with the Beta, so I haven’t test­ed it.



FeedLounge Casey was talk­ing about Feed­Lounge a while back, so when the beta final­ly launched, I plunked down $5 for a month sub­scrip­tion, most­ly out of curios­i­ty.

They seem to promise you the world, but I’ve found FL deliv­ers what it promis­es — a host­ed, Ajaxed-up RSS read­er, com­plete with Google Read­er-esque key­board short­cuts.

Inci­den­tal­ly, I’m a big fan of Google Read­er, because it facil­i­tates speedy con­sump­tion of a lot infor­ma­tion… learn a cou­ple of key­board short­cuts, and you can quick­ly read through your favorite web­sites on your lunch-hour. How­ev­er, it’s near­ly impos­si­ble to man­age sub­scrip­tions once you’ve import­ed that OPML.

Feed­lounge rec­ti­fies this by using a Rojo-like tag­ging func­tion, to orga­nize feeds into cat­e­gories, with­out the pain of hav­ing to actu­al­ly cre­ate and set cat­e­gories, like Blog­lines. All you need to do is add or remove tags from any giv­en post, and the sub­scrip­tion struc­ture will auto­mat­i­cal­ly adjust. Cool.

One gripe I have is the three-col­umn lay­out — I know it is a cool sell­ing-point, but I found it to be a bit of a pain… kind of bug­gy, espe­cial­ly when nav­i­gat­ing via key­board. Plus, I don’t real­ly want to read my feeds by tag (cat­e­go­ry) — I’d much rather just read the lat­est posts, in what they call the “riv­er of news” view. Nice that they pro­vide users with a choice.

Bot­tom-line, if you’re still using a desk­top client to read RSS/Atom feeds because you think all of the online ser­vices suck, give Feed­lounge a try, m’kay?

Airfoil 2

Airfoil 2Rogue Amoe­ba released ver­sion 2.0 of Air­foil, one of my absolute essen­tial mac appli­ca­tions. If you own an Air­port Express, and are less than impressed by iTunes’ trans­mit­ting capa­bil­i­ties, plunk down $25 now.

The first ver­sion of Air­foil let you trans­mit audio from any appli­ca­tion, but this new ver­sion has some great new fea­tures:

  • Sup­port For Mul­ti­ple Air­Port Express Units – Send audio to mul­ti­ple units
  • Audio Effects – New effects built into Air­foil allow for enhanc­ing audio with a 10 band equal­iz­er, vol­ume adjust­ment includ­ing vol­ume over­drive and bal­ance con­trols
  • Full Apple­script­abil­i­ty – Con­trol Air­foil with Apple­Scripts

And, to top it off, the UI has been much sim­pli­fied. Nice job!

UPDATE: Ver­sion 3.2 was released in May 2008. See Rogue Amoeba’s web­site for more infor­ma­tion.

Google Kwanzaa

google kwanzaaHap­py Hol­i­days, from Google. If you search for cer­tain end-of-the year hol­i­days, you get fes­tive bor­ders on the Google results page, (look between the results and text ads)

Are there more?

AT&T Wireless -> Cingular -> AT&T?

new AT&T logo So, hav­ing been forcibly con­vert­ed from AT&T Wire­less to Cin­gu­lar, I read this today:

Well, you can say good­bye to Cin­gu­lar. SBC, which closed its merg­er with AT&T last week, decid­ed that after spend­ing untold mil­lions pro­mot­ing the Cin­gu­lar brand for its joint ven­ture with Bell­South, that they’re going to drop the name and start sell­ing wire­less ser­vice under the AT&T brand name.

Why? On the day we read about GM shed­ding 30,000 Amer­i­can jobs, I’m hav­ing a hard time under­stand­ing just what the hell U.S. Big-Busi­ness is up to. Some­body is mak­ing mon­ey on all these shenani­gans, but I’m not con­vinced that work­ers and con­sumers share in the par­ty.

UPDATE: Won­der­ing about that new AT&T logo? It’s weak, right? Well, Rus­sell Beat­tie has a nice put-down review.

UPDATE 2: Design­wee­nie also feels uncom­fort­able with the new AT&T mark.

Google Reader, revisited

Google Read­er is now my only RSS read­er. Sure, it was slow and clunky when it first launched. But, there has been some per­for­mance improve­ment, and the adddi­tion of some new func­tion­al­i­ty.

For instance, you can use your mouse’s scroll wheel to quick­ly skip through the list of posts. Also, they’ve added some addi­tion­al key­board short­cuts — “v” opens the source page, (although you can’t hold down CTRL to open in a new tab), while “n” and “p” allow you to scroll through items with­out load­ing the con­tent, which speeds things up con­sid­er­ably.

Mapped FTP drive

mapped ftpThere was a great “how-to” arti­cle on Engad­get yes­ter­day: Map a dri­ve to your FTP serv­er.

Now, tweak­ing that CSS file is as easy as right-click, and Edit.


Flock has indeed land­ed, today — they released a Devel­op­er Pre­view this after­noon. In fact, I’m pub­lish­ing this very post from with­in the brows­er.

Ini­tial impres­sions — why can’t I select Mov­able Type text for­mat­ting?  I know this is a beta and all, but this is kind of a deal break­er for me… appar­ent­ly MT is giv­ing them some trou­bles:

Word­Press and Blog­ger work pret­ty well. There are some prob­lems still with Mov­able Type. We haven’t test­ed any oth­er blog­ging plat­forms

I haven’t done much with the del.icio.us inte­gra­tion yet, but so far this doesn’t seem very rev­o­lu­tion­ary. John Oxton agrees.

Wow, I just checked the code that Flock wrote to my entry… hard cod­ed <p>s and <br>s, no line-breaks… yikes. I won­der if it defaults to what­ev­er your default text for­mat­ting is?

The Poisoning of BitTorrent

O’Reilly Radar is report­ing that HBO is “poi­son­ing” Bit­Tor­rent down­loads of their hour-long dra­ma Rome:

HBO is now obstruct­ing the down­loads offered by oth­er peo­ple. Bit­Tor­rent down­loads are peer-to-peer, but the peers are intro­duced to each oth­er by a track­er (“you’re look­ing for Rome Sea­son 1 Episode 2, talk to”). HBO runs peers that tell the track­er they have all the chunks of the show, but then send garbage data when a down­loader requests a chunk. The down­load­ing client can detect that it’s garbage and will try anoth­er peer for the chunk, but the end result is that it takes much much longer to down­load shows.

I would care more if I didn’t have TiVo.

iTrip LCD

I’ve had the iTrip LCD for a cou­ple of weeks now, and I am very frus­trat­ed with it. I’ve used the reg­u­lar iTrip for a cou­ple of years, and it per­fomed about as well as can be expect­ed from an FM trans­mit­ter.

How­ev­er, when I recent­ly broke it, (the con­nec­tor some­how bent and detached, caus­ing some wires to dis­con­nect), I decid­ed to buy a new one. When I saw the LCD ver­sion, I ordered this instead.

My set­up in my car is exact­ly as it was with the orig­i­nal iTrip, (2000 Saab 9–3, 3rd-Gen iPod, with flat EQ and broad­cast to 88.7), but the result is sim­ply mad­den­ing.

With the old iTrip, the iPod vol­ume was set to about 90%, and caused very lit­tle dis­tor­tion. But, with the new iTrip LCD, the sound is heav­i­ly dis­tort­ed at 90% vol­ume, and the unit auto­mat­i­cal­ly reduces the vol­ume to about 50–60% for most music. This of course ampli­fies the sta­t­ic and back­ground noise. To make mat­ters worse, even then the music is still dis­tort­ed. DX-mode makes only a mar­gin­al dif­fer­ence.

I hate to rain on the parade, but I had the old one, and it worked fine. I sub­mit­ted a help tick­et to Grif­fin 12 hours ago, and have yet to receive a response… per­haps their ser­vice techs are busy draft­ing the product’s sup­port web site?

Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar

It’s a pain to build web sites that behave prop­er­ly in Inter­net Explor­er — and, if my IE7 beta any idi­ca­tion, it will con­tin­ue to be a pain.

But, Microsoft just released the Inter­net Explor­er Devel­op­er Tool­bar Beta.

Some of the many fea­tures are:

  • View HTML object class names, ID’s, and details such as link paths, tab index val­ues, and access keys.
  • Out­line tables, table cells, images, or select­ed tags.
  • Val­i­date HTML, CSS, WAI, and RSS web feed links.
  • Dis­play image dimen­sions, file sizes, path infor­ma­tion, and alter­nate (ALT) text.
  • Imme­di­ate­ly resize the brows­er win­dow to 800×600 or a cus­tom size.
  • Dis­play a ful­ly fea­tured design ruler to help accu­rate­ly align objects on your pages.

But of course, I still love the Web Devel­op­er Exten­sion for Fire­fox. It’s just that some­times you have to work with IE.

Google Secure Access client

Jeez, Google is branch­ing out in to all kinds of new busi­ness­es… the lat­est is a ven­ture to pro­vide the world with a secure WiFi con­nec­tion, espe­cial­ly use­fule in pub­lic places.

Dubbed Google Secure Access, it pro­vides a free VPN con­nec­tion to Google. Some observers are already ques­tion­ing Google’s com­mit­ment to user pri­va­cy, which gives pause — but, I for one, would love such a ser­vice. Too bad the down­load is avail­able only for WIn­dows.

Office 12

Microsoft unveiled its new user inter­face for Office 12 ear­li­er this week, and they seem to have depart­ed rad­i­cal­ly from past releas­es:

…we set about rethink­ing the UI from the user’s per­spec­tive, which is “results-ori­ent­ed,” rather than from the developer’s per­spec­tive, which tends to be “fea­ture-ori­ent­ed” or “com­mand-ori­ent­ed”… instead of hav­ing to learn how to make some­thing shad­owed, or what the aspect ratio is or the per­cent gray, you just say, “Oh, I like that one,” and you pick it, you click it and get it in your doc­u­ment. It’s more visu­al.

outlook12 outlook12-2

Word, Excel, Pow­er­Point, and Access are due to get the face lift, but Out­look (the one Office appli­ca­tion that I use con­stant­ly, and which piss­es me off the most), will remain large­ly the same, accord­ing to the press release.

(Although odd­ly enough, xBe­tas has a cou­ple of screen shots of a sim­i­lar­ly engi­neered Out­look.)

My ini­tial reac­tion is very wait-and-see… True, it looks like an aqua rip-off, but con­sid­er­ing I use the suite every day on my work PC, any­thing new will peak my inter­est.


Rol­lyo is cool — sign up to beta test.


Not to be out­done by Apple yes­ter­day, I saw that Sony is once again rethink­ing it’s Walk­man brand.

I admit that the design is far more com­pelling than Sony’s pre­vi­ous offer­ings, but a monocra­mat­ic, low-res screen? C’mon Sony!

Have a Mint

I just ordered and installed the new site stats pack­age Mint, which was launched today by Shaun Inman.

It’s been eons since I had a reli­able site stat track­er, and this pack­age looks as good as the hype. RIP, Refer.

Gmail Notifier

Rejoice! Google released a OS X ver­sion of their Gmail Noti­fi­er appli­ca­tion.

GCount was great, but often broke when Google made changes to the Gmail ser­vice. Since then, I’ve tried Dash­board wid­gets like GPeek, but it’s annoy­ing hav­ing to hit F12 to check for mail.

Can’t wait to install it and check it out.

UPDATE 9/12/2005: Appar­ent­ly Google did build the mac appli­ca­tion with sup­port for plug-ins… To get Growl noti­fi­ca­tions, check out this Gmail+Growl script

Google Desktop Beta

I’m on vaca­tion this week, but here I am on mon­day morn­ing, remot­ing into my work com­put­er to install and test out the new Google Desk­top Beta.

It includes a Dashboard/Konfabulator wid­get func­tion­al­i­ty called Side­bar — which puts infor­ma­tion on your desk­top — Gmail, local weath­er, news, and even rec­om­mends cool links based on your own brows­ing habits.

Also, I’m excit­ed for Quick Find, a Spot­light/Quick­sil­ver-like launch­er func­tion­al­i­ty. I’ve been using AppRock­et on my work PC for some time now, but it always seemed slug­gish. Time to unin­stall that app.

Then there are the search improve­ments… the new ver­sion comes with a con­ve­nient Out­look search tool­bar that is light-years faster than Microsoft’s own built-in search. I’ve want­ed some­thing like this for years — i just always assumed that it would have to come from Microsoft.

Meteor Showers this Weekend

Stef passed on this infor­ma­tion about mete­or show­ers this week­end:

The 12 th and 13th of August is the best time that you can see mete­or show­er this year.

They are called Per­sei­ds, and you can expect to see at least 60 mete­ors per hour.

Accord­ing to NASA, the best time to see the Per­sei­ds this year is “between 2 a.m. and dawn on August 12th, if you get away from city lights, you could see hun­dreds of mete­ors. This is a good time to go camp­ing!”


Tattoo”, posted by nedward

Presley’s new tat­too, done by Cus­tom Claire, of Fat Ram’s Pump­kin Tat­too, Jamaica Plain, Mass­a­chu­setts.

Poor Man’s TiVo: BitTorrent & RSS

I know a lot of you cats have TiVo, but I thought I’d share my favorite method of down­load­ing our favorite TV shows, sans TiVo…

Bit­Tor­rent is awe­some, as every­one knows… but, I hate hav­ing to con­tin­u­ous­ly scan the track­er sites for the shows I want, and then, I hate wait­ing for them to down­load. Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell your Bit­Tor­rent client what shows you want, and it would down­load them auto­mat­i­cal­ly?

Why, yes. That is the point of my post.

By using the java client Azureus, in com­bi­na­tion with its RSS plu­g­in, you can. I’ve been using this for a cou­ple of months, and I couldn’t be hap­pi­er… espe­cial­ly when trav­el­ing. When we flew to Buf­fa­lo last month, I quick­ly grabbed a cou­ple episodes of the Simp­sons and Viva La Bam. Instant air­port enter­tain­ment.

The details are avail­able in this post: How to nev­er miss an episode with Bit­Tor­rent and RSS.

Gmail Rich-Text

I got back from NYC last night, and noticed that not only has Gmail bumped up stor­age from 1GB to 2GB, but it also has Rich-Text for­mat­ting!

* Gmail Rich-Text for­mat­ting

del.icio.us Inbox

del.icio.us Inbox seems to be down again… has any­body heard any­thing about its sta­tus?

Trados 6.5 dongle

dongleFor 2 years, work­ing in Local­iza­tion, I had to scram­ble around for a Tra­dos don­gle when­ev­er I had to do some analy­sis or Trans­la­tion Mem­o­ry main­te­nance. Though I work for a major local­iza­tion ven­dor, with glob­al offices and almost 2000 employ­ees, we still had to share don­gles… expen­sive lit­tle bug­gers.

Today, how­ev­er, I final­ly received my own. I was so accus­tomed to the old Par­al­lel-port ver­sion, that I was excit­ed to get my hands on the small­er USB one.

Only prob­lem is, now I can’t use the excuse “I don’t have a don­gle“, when my boss asks why I’m not work­ing.