Tag Archive for 'tech'

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RAZR v3

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.

SIGN UP HERE

FeedLounge

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

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 127.0.0.1”). 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

Rollyo is cool — sign up to beta test.

Walkman

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

“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.