Friday, December 29, 2006

Go back up your Gmail

There are reports all over the web about users losing all of the mail in their inbox, which is sort of scary considering how much a lot of us rely on Gmail as a sole mail source.  My suggestion: pick an e-mail client that can use POP, enable POP in Gmail, download all of your e-mail, back up the download however you back things up.  You could probably set up some sort of way to do this daily, weekly, monthly, etc.

Note that Google's PR department is stating that this only affected 60 accounts, but what if one of those accounts had been yours? 

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Amazon sent me an invitation to their new service called Askville this morning.  Essentially Askville is a social question and answer space that uses questions as the basis for social interaction and discussions.  I like that there are lots of people asking totally free-form questions and getting lots of answers -- I think I'd probably ask questions about good restaurants, places to stay, etc. when traveling to a city I was unfamiliar with just to see what locals or people that have been there before would say.

There is some system of points and levels and "quest coins," but I didn't spend much time reading about any of it -- you can find details here in the FAQ.  I have to guess that Amazon may use some of this content to link through to products that they are selling to provide even more valuable product information and insight.

Check it out.


Electric Orange

INGDirect just sent me an e-mail about a new paperless checking account that they are offering called "Electric Orange."  As with most of their offerings, Electric Orange offers some pretty aggressive interest rates:

  • 5.30% on every dollar for balances of $100,000 or more

  • 5.05% on balances between $50,000 and $100,000

  • 3.00% for balances up to $50,000

In addition to the aggressive interest rates, Electric Orange also offers free bill pay, free electronic checks (this is a paper-free check solution that sound pretty cool as it's conducted via e-mail and secure hyperlinks), and a debit MasterCard. and free ATM access at 32,000 locations in the US.  In doing a little more digging about the ATMs, it appears that ING will use the Allpoint ATM Network of surcharge-free ATMs.  I searched my zip code with Allpoint and it appears that most of the machines are in Targets, Rite Aids, Costcos, liquor stores,  bars, and other random places -- this is what would make me think hard about opening an account like this as it's hard for me to envision myself doing my ATM banking at Target.

Electric Orange is currently only available to existing Orange customers, so you'll need to sign up for a Savings account in order to be able to enroll in Electric Orange.


Denver blizzard update

Thanks to everyone for the e-mails and comments.  Below are some pictures from this morning.

Backyard at 8AM:

Backyard 8AM

My truck in the driveway last night around 10PM -- this was after having shoveled the driveway 3 times:

Truck in driveway

Here's our daughter in the driveway standing next to the mountain of snow as we were shoveling this morning:

Child in driveway

There's still about 2 or 3 feet of snow out in the street in front of our house, so I'm not necessarily planning on going anywhere, though it is fun to play with the truck in the snow.  A few of the neighbors have been out in their snow shoes and have told me that the main artery streets are relatively clear, but no one is out driving on them.  At some point I may have to make tracks in the snow so that others in the neighborhood can use them to get out as our residential streets are considered tertiary and are therefor the last streets that the county plows. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

WriteToMyBlog responds quickly

Within a few hours of my original post , WriteToMyBlog has updated their site to reflect the changes in the "new" Blogger implementation and I am happy to report that I am having no problems using their service to post.

 Not only did WriteToMyBlog leave a comment on the original post, but they also sent me a personal e-mail addressing my issue.


By the way, it appears that WirteToMyBlog supports my cateogrizing blog posts, which is a new feature of the "new" Blogger. 

2006 Denver Blizzard

Got some notes about the blizzard, so here are some pictures:

 My backyard at 4:30PM:


Backyard at 8:00PM:


Basically my chocolate lab and rotweiller are in the snow up to their shoulders. 

New Blogger transition

Ok, so I changed from the "old" version of Blogger to the "new" version of Blogger that used to be the "beta" version of Blogger, but now is not longer in beta. Transfer took quite some time, which I assume has to do with the large number of posts archived in this blog. Here are some other strange things that happened:
  • A bunch of comments that I had already moderated needed to be moderated again -- 28 comments to be exact.
  • Some random posts got syndicated via RSS, so I apologize if you got some posts in your reader from a few months or even years ago.
  • WriteToMyBlog stopped working completely regardless of whether I choose "Blogger" or "Blogger Beta." I'm hoping this is some sort of Google API issue and that WriteToMyBlog will resolve it shortly
I'll keep you posted on other things that I notice, but the fact that I have to use the Blogger editor to publish posts and that the "new" version still doesn't have Technorati tagging support is probably the most annoying.

Major winter storm in Denver

An absolutely massive winter storm has been dumping one inch or more per hour since early this morning in the Denver Metro area -- shoveling out the driveway yields very large mounds of snow on both sides of the driveway and I suppose less snow to shovel tomorrow. To be honest the driveway's been shoveled 3 times today and about 2-3 hours after shoveling, with the exception of the ever-growing mounds of snow, it's impossible to tell that it was done.

I just heard that DIA is not planning on starting normal flight operations until tomorrow night, so I really feel for all of the people stuck at the airport especially this close to the holidays.

The bright side of all this is that with this amount of snow and the forecasted cold temperatures through next week, it will be a white Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Full instructions for Gmail Mail Fetcher

Mail Fetcher is the name of the POP3 access that Google is adding to Gmail accounts and full instructions on how to use it are now available in Gmail help.

I'm just waiting for it to be enabled on my account.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Google Co-op

Someone sent my a note about Google Co-op, which allows you to create custom search engines and share revenues generated by custom searches.

I had to take a look at some of the featured examples and specifically at the blogger examples to see how people are using this -- looks pretty interesting, but I don't have enough time right this second to see if it's something that I can use.

Check it out if you're interested.


Google Apps for Your Domain solutions with Google Notifier and Google Mobile

I have some information about Google Apps for Your Domain ("Google AFYD") that I figured other might find useful:

  1. Google Notifier .  Although it appears that it might not support it, if you enter your e-mail address from Google AFYD (i.e., "") as your "username" in the Notifier application, Notifier will provide you e-mail and calendar notifications as it does for normal Gmail accounts.  The nice part about using notifier is the closer to Outlook experience of notifications for new e-mails and pop-up notifications for Calendar events.

  2. Google (Gmail) Mobile.  Google Mobile supports Google AFYD in much the same way as described above -- enter your e-mail address from Google AFYD as the "username" and Google Mobile works as it does for any other Gmail account.  I have to say that with my Cingular 2125, the Google Mobile experience is less than pleasant and I'm simply going to stick accessing Gmail via my mobile browser using the address.

I'll continue to post as I learn more about utilizing Google AFYD.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Google domain registration and Apps for Your Domain tested

So I went ahead and registered with Google to try out not only their domain registration service, but also Google Apps for Your Domain ("Google AFYD") -- note that I wrote about this service just a few days ago.

Registration took literally around 3 minutes: I signed in with my Google Account, checked the availability of the domain, proceeded through the registration process, and, of course, used Google Checkout to pay for the registration.  Following payment, I clicked the link that had me set up an administrative account and immediately took me to the Google AFYD Dashboard -- Start Page was running immediately, E-mail took about 45 minutes to configure itself, Chat was running immediately, and Calendar was running immediately; Domain Web Pages required my interaction in order to start running.

While waiting for other services to start up, I went to, which was already active and resolving with DNS -- the page redirected to the default Start Page as I had not yet configured Domain Web Pages.    So, the next thing I did was configure the Domain Start Pages, starting out with the main/index page; I very simply created the main page on the site with Google Page Creator in about 5 minutes.

I left to run some errands, and when I came back, the E-mail  service was running, so I checked out e-mail administration, and was pleasantly surprised to find that for my $10 per year, Google allowed me to create up to 200 unique user accounts (note that you can create user accounts using a spreadsheet to lay out usernames and default passwords, exporting the spreadsheet as a CSV file, and uploading the file to the Google AFYD dashboard) -- quick math tells me that if Gmail offers around 2.5GB of free storage for each e-mail account, that Google AFYD is giving me around 500GB of storage.

It did take me a little while to figure out what some of the Google AFYD services were, but I've got it figured out now, so here's a quick list of services with analogs to common Microsoft products and services:

  • E-mail -- web-based e-mail that is similar to Outlook and the Exchange server that supports Outlook.  Contact sharing is available between users, which is similar to the Outlook Global Address list function.  Calendaring is easily accessible from the e-mail window, though not as directly integrated as Outlook; one nice feature is that the e-mail service is intelligent enough to recognize calendar events within an e-mail and give you the option quickly click and add them to your calendar.  E-mail provided by Google AFYD still runs contextual advertising, which is something not seen in current iterations of Outlook.

  • Start Page -- a landing page for all domain users, which makes it like a very basic version of SharePoint.  The administrator can lock certain areas of the page in order to provide domain-specific data to users while other areas are user-editable.  Presumably once Google launches a storage solution there will be some sort of document sharing interface, but that does not currently exist.

  • Chat -- Google's direct competitor to MSN Messenger with tight integration into the e-mail interface.  Administrators have the ability to restrict chat to other users int he domain or to allow users to chat with others outside the domain, control that is available through Exchange.

  • Calendar -- web-based calendar that is similar to the Calendar included in Outlook and Exchange.  Users can keep multiple versions of calendars with different sharing permissions for different users inside and outside the domain.  All of the standard features of Google Calendar are included int he version implemented by Google AFYD, including SMS reminders for appointments.

  • Domain Web Pages -- primarily for administrators, this is a web-based WYSIWYG web page creator that works in a similar fashion to Microsoft Front Page.

It is important to note that individual domain users can gain access to all Google products such as Docs and Spreadsheets and Google Reader, but there are not currently any sort of administrative controls for these products.

For a startup that's bootstrapping, a small business that just getting off the ground, or even a large family that wants to set up a common domain with individual e-mail addresses (think "" with each family member receiving their own address), it's hard to imagine being able to get so much for so little.

Happy to answer any further questions about the service if anyone has any.

Link -- Google AFYD  

Friday, December 15, 2006

Gmail is apparently adding the ability to check other accounts

Only because I just finished the previous post hoping for it, TechCrunch is reporting that Gmail is in the process of activating the ability to check other e-mail accounts using POP.  Here's the screen grab from TechCrunch:

Get mail from other accounts - Gmail

I truly cannot wait until this is activated on all accounts -- once it is, I'll probably go set up my master Gmail account on my personal domain, using Google Apps for Your Domain to do the registration and provide the domain-specific e-mail services. 


Gmail account consolidation

I've finally tired of checking multiple Gmail accounts, so I sat down to figure out how to get all of my mail coming to a single, master Gmail address -- there are multiple parts to this tutorial, so I apologize for the length.

FIRST -- set up forwarding in the account you want to stop logging into:

  • Log into the Gmail account you want to stop logging into

  • Click "Settings" in the upper right

  • Click "Forwarding and Pop"

  • Click the radio button next to "Forward a copy of incoming mail to . . ."

  • Enter the address that you want the mail to be sent to in the box that says "email address"

  • From the drop-down, decide what you want done with the forwarded mail -- in my case, I selected "delete Gmail's copy" so that no new mail will be added to the account

  • Decide if you want to do the Optional Pop part below, if not, click "Save Changes"

OPTIONAL POP (totally optional) -- set up POP access to get any saved mail out of the account you no longer want to log into and into the single account you plan on using

  • Click the radio button next to "Enable POP for all mail (even mail that's already been downloaded)"

  • Select from the drop-down what you want done with mail that is accessed via POP -- in my case I selected "delete Gmail's copy" so that once all of the old mail is extracted via POP, it is deleted from the account I'm no longer logging in to

  • Click "Save Changes"

SECOND (optional) -- configure your master Gmail account to allow you to respond to e-mails with the address from the account you will no longer log into.  If you have no desire to continue to use the address of the account you are no longer logging into in your replies, but still want mail forwarded from said account, you can skip this step.

  • Log in to the master Gmail account

  • Click "Settings" in the upper right

  • Click "Accounts"

  • Click "Add Another E-Mail Address" -- this will trigger a pop-up window

  • Enter your name as you wish it to be seen by recipients and the e-mail address of the account you are no longer logging into

  • Click "Next Step" -- this will trigger a verification number e-mail to be sent to the e-mail address of the account you are no longer logging in to and change the pop-up screen to an entry screen for the verification number

  • Leave the pop-up screen open and click "Inbox" in the Gmail screen -- if you have configured forwarding correctly, then the confirmation e-mail should be in your Inbox

  • Click the e-mail from Gmail to open it

  • Select the verification number and copy it

  • Go back to the pop-up window and paste the verification number into the "Verification Number" field

  • Click "Next Step" -- the pop-up window will close and you will be left at the Inbox view

  • Click "Settings"

  • Click "Accounts" -- if everything went through correctly, then you will now see another e-mail address listed from the account you are no longer logging into

  • I suggest checking the radio button next to "Reply from the same address the message was sent to.", which will cause Gmail to automatically use the address that the e-mail was sent to when replying.

OPTIONAL OLD E-MAIL IMPORT (totally optional continuation of the Optional POP above) -- this will allow you to pull out all the e-mail saved in the account that you no longer wish to log into and load them into your master Gmail account.  Note that many of these instructions are duplicated from my original post on how to get e-mail out of Ureach and into Gmail.  Further note that these instructions are for Windows.  I would not suggest attempting this process on a dial-up connection and have only tested on broadband.

  •  Download gExodus.  Once done, you will have a zip file — be sure to use the WinZip Extract
    button instead of dragging and dropping the files out of the archive. 
    The first time I installed, I did a drag and drop and the program could
    not find the Python dll file.  Once you have extracted to whatever
    folder you have chosen, go ahead and double-click the gExodus exe file
    to make sure it works.  Keep gExodus minimized throughout this process
    until I call for it in the instructions.

  • Download and install Thunderbird
    Once installation is done, launch Thunderbird and cancel out of the
    wizards.  Unless you are going to continue to use Thunderbird, there is
    no reason to waste time filling in any information.  Keep Thunderbird
    minimized throughout this process until I call for it in the

  • Maximize Thunderbird  and follow the Google Instructions to configure it for the account that you no longer want to log into.

  • Once Thunderbird is configured, click "Get Mail" -- if everything is configured  correctly, Thunderbird will download all of the mail from the account you no longer want to log in to

  • The most important thing to do is to located where the Thunderbird
    mail files are on your computer.  In order to do this, you must have
    invisible files and folders activated in your Windows view options and
    you should have the hidden file extension option de-selected (Google
    this if you don’t know what I’m talk about).  I highly suggest locating
    the folder before using gExodus, but it depends on your level of
    comfort.  The files are located here:

    • C:\Documents and Settings\xxxx\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\xxxx.default\Mail\Local Folders\Outlook Express Mail.sbd

    • Note that the red letters represent items that will be unique to your system.

    • Note
      that there will be a regular version of a file and a .msf version of
      the same file in the folder (i.e., “Inbox” and “Inbox.msf”)

  • Maximize gExodus

  • Under “Account Setting” enter your master Gmail address

  • Under
    “Import From” either paste in the path from your Explorer window or
    click the “Browse” button and navigate to the file that you want to
    import.  Note that you should select the file that does not have the
    .msf extension (i.e., “Inbox”)

  • Under “Label”, you can add a
    label if you really want to, but read the example below the box — I did
    not use this when I did my imports.

  • Leave the “SMTP server” alone and click “Import into Gmail” -- Note that if you have a problem with the address that's in there, click the "MX lookup for Gmail" link jsut below the box and enter one of the results that comes up in the browser

  • The “Progress” box will let you know about any errors, when everything is complete, etc.

  • gExodus essentially forwards all of the e-mails in the file you
    have decided to import into your Gmail account — while the To and From
    information is retained, the date information that shows up in Gmail
    will be the date and time the you run gExodus; there is no way that I
    could find to fix this issue.

  • Every e-mail shows up in Gmail as
    an unread e-mail, so you will need to do a select all on every page and
    mark every e-mail as read.

All of the processes and steps listed on this page can be used for forwarding multiple Gmail addresses to a single, master Gmail account; at the time of writing this post, I have 2 Gmail addresses forwarding and incorporated into a single, master account.

It is my hope and I have heard rumors that Gmail is adding POP access support to Gmail accounts so that the vast majority of whole Thunderbird and gExodus process described above becomes obsolete.

As usual, use all the stuff in this post at your own risk and your mileage may vary -- I'm always happy to help with questions.

Good luck! 

Google Apps for Your Domain now offers domain registration for $10 for 1 year

If you are looking at registering a domain, you may want to take a look at using Google to do it.  Simply go to the Google Apps for Your Domain link below, click the "Sign In" link, either set up a Google Account or log in with your existing account, and check domain availability.  Once you register you domain, Google automatically configures their Google Apps such as Gmail and Page Creator to work on your domain for no additional charge.

This is very cool if you wanted to register, say, your name as a domain from a personal perspective or if you were a small business and wanted to set up a quick website and office software system for very little cost.


Anyone have any Venice Project tokens?

If you have one and are willing to share, I'd love to check it out -- just shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.


Here's a surprise: hackers have already "cracked" Vista

While not really available to consumers until the end of January 2007, hackers have already released a solution that allows you to bypass Vista's authentication system.  Essentially the solution consists of a virtual machine that emulates the working of an authentication server for the business and enterprise editions of Vista.   Lots more details in the link below.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

WriteToMyBlog Blogger display tweaks

I apologize that some of my posts this week had some extra paragraph breaks -- I'm pretty sure this only affects those of you reading via the web and not those reading via syndication.  In any event, when using WriteToMyBlog with Blogger, be sure to log in to your Blogger account, select your blog, click the "Settings" tab, click the "Formatting" tab, scroll down to the bottom, change "Convert Line Breaks" to "No", click "Save Settings", and then click "Republish Index".  If you do not follow the aforementioned instructions, Blogger will add a second carriage return to each paragraph break, which makes the posts hard to read.

Link -- WriteToMyBlog

Link -- Blogger 

Talkster is live

Ok, I'm a little behind on this announcement, but because Talkster was willing to let me participate in the private beta, I wanted to be sure to mention that the Talkster service is now available to the public.  There are lots of improvements since the last time I reviewed the service, not the least of which is the user interface, which now makes it much easier to interact with the site.

It you are looking for a VOIM service, Talkster is worth considering.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

MacBook Pro switch

I recently started using a MacBook Pro as my primary computer.  One of the biggest attractions was the fact that I could not only run OSX, but could also run Windows through a variety of different methods.

The MacBook Pro that I am using is the 15" with 2GB of RAM, 120GB hard drive, and all kinds of other nifty bells and whistles -- full specs here at the Apple store, just look at the middle model on the page.  In order to also run Windows, I am using Parallels rather than Apple's Boot Camp solution -- I like that Parallels gives me the ability to run Windows as an application, easily create multiple virtual machines, and does not require restart of the system to switch between OSX and Windows.

One of the interesting experiences in switching to a Macintosh full time is realizing how little I need to do with Windows -- 85-90% of the stuff that I do on my computer I do in OSX and most of it is either no different of a user experience than Windows or is a better user experience than Windows.  Certainly there are some applications that are not made for OSX, some sites (especially corporate intranets) that run more effectively with Internet Explorer on Windows, and some file types (i.e., Outlook PST files) that need to be used with Windows applications for a better user experience.  By the way, if you are looking to get PST files converted into a format that you can use with OSX, Aid4Mail seems like the best program out there for around $50, but note that it is a Windows application, so if you are leaving Windows for good and don't want to run Windows on your Mac, you should do the conversion of the PST files prior to switching.

Another interesting experience for me was realizing how many of the applications that I spend time with on a dialy basis are hosted applications and are, therefore, operating system independent.  If you aren't currently using a lot of hosted applications, you may want to do some Google searches about hosted alternatives to common applications -- in many cases, hosted solutions are cheaper or even free.

Getting Outlook contacts easily into the OSX Address Book challenged me for a little bit until I realized that I could simply install the Plaxo software for Address Book and sync everything together -- this process took less than 5 minutes to download the software and sync all of my contacts to Address Book.  Certainly there are other solutions to getting Outlook contacts into Address Book, but this seemed like the easiest solution. 

The built-in video camera on the MacBook makes me wonder why its' taken me so long to get into video conferencing -- if you know people with iSights and MacBooks, there is no reason not to use iChat for video conferencing because it's just too easy.

I'm sure that I will have more information on this and please feel free to ask any questions as I'm happy to share my experience.

Top 10 business books of 2006 from Amazon

Pretty cool list of the Top 10 Business Books of 2006 from -- don't mind the fact that the list appears on 800-CEO-READ.


Monday, December 04, 2006

"It will be small as shit"

If you read my linkblog, you’ll see that I’ve linked to a bunch of posts about the iPod phone (read “iPhone”) rumors that were supposedly “confirmed” by Kevin Rose of Digg.  To his credit, Kevin has correctly “predicted” many Apple releases, so it would be silly to totally discount everything he has to say.

Thankfully Kevin has succinctly summed up the iPhone with the statement in the title of this post — I sure hope that he’s right so that I can figure out exactly what the statement means.


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Is the PS3 the cheapest Blu-Ray disc player?

It seems that if you can find one of the 20gb PS3s for the retail price of $499, then you’re saving about $500 off the cost of Sony’s first stand alone Blu-Ray player and you get some bonus extras the the stand alone player just can’t give you.  Alternatively you could get the Samsung Blu-Ray player for $666.66 (strange number, huh?), which is only a little bit more than the PS3 20gb, but probably cheaper than you can get one for right now — at least it, unlike the Sony player is available for Amazon Prime.

It’s worth thinking about if you’re an early adopter . . . or you could just wait a few months until production ramps up and more movies are released at which point the market will be flush with PS3s and the stand alone players will likely be much less expensive.


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For those looking to compare and contrast top searches at Yahoo to those at Google, please visit Google Zeitgeist.  Note that the Zeitgeist for 2006 will not be available until, well, the end of 2006 — does that make you wonder why Yahoo can release theirs before the end of 2006?

Anyway, how many times did you search for “Britney Spears”?


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Yahoo top searches of 2006

It launches at 9PM PST or 1 hour from the time of this post.

Check it out.


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J K J J Shift+S S GS J J

For those of you that use Google Reader, the title of this post makes total sense to you; if you do not use Google Reader, feel free to skip this post or use it to convince you to start using Google Reader.  Below you will find a link to the Google Reader keyboard shortcuts, but the most common that I use are:

  • J — move down a post list
  • K — move up a post list
  • Shift+S — shares or unshares a post
  • S — stars a post
  • GS — goes to starred items

The biggest problem that I have these days is that Google Reader is the only “application” that uses these commands (to be fair, Gmail uses some similar commands for similar things) — I find myself trying to use J to scroll down various other websites and even to scroll through Word documents.


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Frugal Cuisine

Frugal Cuisine is a blog that basically details recipes and tips for eating well while only spending $2–$3 per day on food.  Interesting stuff and some tasty looking recipes.


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Cool gifts for guys

There are a lot of people out there that can’t come up with cool gifts for guys.  Luckily, Design*Sponge has a post that features a bunch of cool gifts for guys that range from the $20 range up to the several hundred dollar range.

Also check out the November archive for other gift guides that are not necessarily male-oriented.


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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Why third place might not be the worst place

The Nintendo Wii gaming console sold something like 600,000 units in 8 days at an extremely low price as compared to competing offerings from Sony and Microsoft.  Certainly the Wii has a reduced feature set as compared to the all-in-one home media offerings from Sony and Microsoft, but those that I’ve talked to that have one strictly as a gaming console are very happy with their purchase.  In addition, Nintendo is selling their consoles at a profit while Sony and Microsoft are both losing money on each console sold.

The New Yorker has a great article about the Nintendo Wii being in 3rd place and why that’s not such a bad place to be:

The point is that business is not a sporting event. Victory for one company doesn’t mean defeat for everyone else. Markets today are so big—the global video-game market is now close to thirty billion dollars—that companies can profit even when they’re not on top, as long as they aren’t desperately trying to get there. The key is to play to your strengths while recognizing your limitations. Nintendo knew that it could not compete with Microsoft and Sony in the quest to build the ultimate home-entertainment device. So it decided, with the Wii, to play a different game entirely. Some pundits are now speculating, ironically, that the simplicity of the Wii may make it a huge hit. Nintendo wouldn’t complain if that happened.

In doing some Technorati searching, I found that Ed Sims from BeyondVC had picked up on the same New Yorker story and has some interesting comments about how this can relates to startups:

First, as a startup you have to get away from a feature/function battle because you will always lose against a big boy.  If a customer has already bought a product from an incumbent, they are more often than not willing to stay with that incumbent if they can deliver the extra feature/function soon enough in a good enough way. What I like startups to do is win with the product roadmap and vision.  Show the prospect how you solve their needs today better than the incumbent but more importantly why you are different and how your approach will solve their future needs.  If you can differentiate on this level, it gives you a much better chance to win. 

The moral of the story for every person in business is: Third place is not necessarily a place to avoid especially when competing in a large market and focusing on not being first or second can actually help you focus on core competencies.

Link — New Yorker

Link — BeyondVC

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Quotiki is a wiki that allows you to collect, share, submit, and tag quotes; like Digg, the most popular quotes are pushed to the front page.  Being the quote collector that I am, I plan on definitely using this site.

For some reason there does not seem to be a way for you to subscribe to my quote feed, but I have to assume that’s coming.


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Germophobia mitigation device

I know some people that actually will use the inside of their pocket or shirttail to open a door because of their level of germaphpobia.  Certainly I will open a bathroom door with a paper towel that I have used to dry my hands, but I don’t really have an extraordinarily high level of germaphobia.  In any case, if you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for the germaphobes in your life, you may wish to consider The Handler:


$9.95 buys you the keychain-size, nano technology silver impregnated, door handle hook to feed into your germaphobic lifestyle.

Originally seen at this post on Gizmodo.


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Free security tools

Rob Pergoraro at The Washington Post has a great article about free security tools that you can use to minimize viruses, worms, adware, etc. without paying a thing.


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Generate warning labels

I love the Warning Label Generator, an online tool that allows you to generate custom warning labels free of charge.


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Six Apart, known for the Movable Type software, has launched a free, hosted blog platform called Vox that likely is designed to compete with Blogger.  If you’re looking to get into blogging, you may want to check out the service.


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My WishList

The American Express WishList promotion went live this morning with the first offering being a 37” Sharp HD Aquos LCD for $900 (original retails of $2999).  As usual, there are lots of cool items in limited quantities for very inexpensive prices.

The interface to the Wishlist is much the same as last year, though they have added some refinements, most notably the “My Mobile WishList,” which allows you to attempt to purchase items from your mobile phone via a SMS gateway.  Note that there are certain restrictions to the mobile service and that not all of the items are available via the mobile service.

Link — WishList main

Link — WishList mobile

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Light blogging ahead as I’ll be in San Francisco for the holiday.

As a public service to anyone frying a turkey, consider this method from Jalopnik:


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Monday, November 20, 2006

$6,000 Carl's Jr. combo meal

You may not have seen the ad, but Carl’s Jr. is running a television spot with the Maloof Brothers that features a $6,000 combo meal with their $6 Burger, fries, and a bottle of 24–year-old Bordeaux.  The ad is great in that the first time that you see it, you think that it might be a joke or a spoof until they get to the punchline: the $6,000 combo is only available at The Palms.

As usual, the Maloof brothers have created an amazing brand extension for Carl’s Jr. and have integrated one of their main properties, The Palms, into the equation.  Will a massive number of people go The Palms to purchase this combo meal?  Probably not.  Is the advertisement, the concept, etc. new, cool, unique, and extraordinary?  Absolutely!

View the commercial on the Carl’s Jr. site through the link below or via the embedded YouTube.


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$6,000 Carl's Jr. combo meal

You may not have seen the ad, but Carl’s Jr. is running a television spot with the Maloof Brothers that features a $6,000 combo meal with their $6 Burger, fries, and a bottle of 24–year-old Bordeaux.  The ad is great in that the first time that you see it, you think that it might be a joke or a spoof until they get to the punchline: the $6,000 combo is only available at The Palms.

As usual, the Maloof brothers have created an amazing brand extension for Carl’s Jr. and have integrated one of their main properties, The Palms, into the equation.  Will a massive number of people go The Palms to purchase this combo meal?  Probably not.  Is the advertisement, the concept, etc. new, cool, unique, and extraordinary?  Absolutely!

View the commercial on the Carl’s Jr. site through the link below or via the embedded YouTube.


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Thursday, November 09, 2006


I use a lot of yellow sticky notes — traditionally I use them to take phone messages and then toss them out as soon as I return a call, do a task, etc.  Occasionally I find stickies on my desk with random bits of information, no clue as to when I wrote them, and with no idea if the stickies are actionable or very old (sometimes I can tell by whether or not the adhesive still sticks whether they are really old).  Other times I’ll leave something on sticky note on my desk and then need it when I’m somewhere else.

Based on all the stuff above, I was thrilled to start using Stikkit, which is a Web 2.0 version of digital sticky notes.  Here are some of the key features:

  • It’s hosted, so anywhere I can connect to the internet, I can get at my sticky notes.
  • Notes are archived, so I don’t have to worry about losing them.
  • Notes can be shared, which is pretty cool — I want to play around with having my receptionist use Stikkit to take phone messages for me.
  • Notes can be tagged to make it easier to find them.
  • Stikkit is ‘intelligent” and categorizes notes based on the information that is input — if I type in a name and a phone number, it catalogues it as an “individual” and if I type in a date and time, it classifies it as a calendar item.
  • There are nifty keyboard shortcuts that make it easy to navigate categories.
  • There’s a nifty landing page that summarizes calendar events.
  • Bookmarkelt with a clipping function for webpages.
  • RSS feed for my notes.

What’s missing?

  • Outlook/Google Calendar/Gmail contact integration — it would be nice if I could dump information that stikkit has collected into my PIM because all of my PIM information is not going to be in Stikkit.
  • Configuration/preferences — it would be nice to be able to change layouts, colors, etc., but not critical.
  • Time zone configuration — for some reason Stikkit thinks I’m creating and modifying things 18 hours prior to the actual time when I do things, which is strange.

Overall Stikkit is a strong product and will be added to my daily arsenal of web tools.


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If you want to be able to easily pull down YouTube videos on your Mac and easily convert them for use on your iPod, you could spend $19.99 when Tubular is released . . . or you could pre-order now for $12.99 . . . or you could click the link below, scroll to the bottom of the blog post that I’m linking to, and pre-order for $9.99.  Even at the full price of $19.99, this software looks well worth it.


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Black Friday sales

Want a jump on those Black Friday sales that will happen the day after Thanksgiving?  Want to know if you need to air out your sleeping bag and get in line immediately following turkey dinner? is collecting and posting all of the leaked 2006 Black Friday ads before they run.

Check it out.


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Monday, November 06, 2006

Sam Walton's 10 rules for Business

Hey, Wal-Mart’s a damn successful company:

  1. Commit to your business.
  2. Share your profits with all your associates, and treat then as partners.
  3. Motivate your partners.
  4. Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners.
  5. Appreciate everything your associates do for the business.
  6. Celebrate your success.
  7. Listen to everyone in your company and figure out ways to get them talking.
  8. Exceed your customer’s expectations
  9. Control your expenses better than your competition.
  10. Swim upstream.

Originally seen on the Business Opportunities Weblog.


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My link blog is stealing from other authors?

My link blog is not stealing from blog authors and neither is Scoble’s.  Scoble has a post about how someone has accused him of stealing content in his Google Reader link blog and he has some strong thoughts around it that I agree with.  Neither Scoble nor I are re-publishing every article that a blog author posts on his/her blog — we simply post what we like and presumably if you read my link blog and like the content from a particular author, then you subscribe to the author’s blog feed.

Further, this person accuses Scoble of “stealing RSS,” which is laughable as the whole RSS protocol was designed to make it easy to share information — it’s easy for the end user to opt-in, easy for the end user to opt-out, and easy for the author to syndicate his/her information.  Perhaps RSS is referred to as “Really Simple Syndication” for a reason; if it was protocol designed to make it hard to share information, it might be called “Really Restrictive Syndication.”

Here’s the deal: if you don’t like the fact that I’m putting some of your content into my link blog, then send me an e-mail or drop a comment and I’ll remove all of your posts that currently exist in my link blog and never put one of your posts in my link blog again — it will actually be really easy for me to ensure you never are in my link blog again because I’ll probably unsubscribe from reading your blog on a daily basis.  Note that like Scoble’s, my link blog is totally public and runs no advertising that I have control over; in fact, it appears that the link blog preserves the original feed advertising from the original blog from which the posts are pulled.

Link — Scoble

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Online file conversion

TechCrunch has a post about some online file conversion services.  As with many traditional computer user services, online file conversion services are taking the process off of the user’s desktop and onto their own server.  Unlike the traditional user computer method, you have to take into account the time that it takes to upload and download the files that you want converted — if you don’t have a broadband connection, you probably don’t want to be using these services.  Although free for limited numbers of conversions, these services presumably have a revenue model based on bulk batch conversions at some point in the future.

Link — TechCrunch

Link — Zamzar

Link — Media Convert

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Lots of people don’t know anything about trademarks — some people don’t even know that the little “R” in a circle means that a trademark has been registered.  Seth Godin has a great post that summarizes everything that you need to actually know about trademarks, but as usual, your mileage may vary.


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OpenDNS is just what is sounds like: an open source DNS project.  If you do not know what DNS stands for, then this is probably not for you though they do have great instructions on how to configure various routers and desktop computers to use their service.


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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Gmail java app available for mobile phones

If you are a Gmail user and have a phone that supports Java applications, this Java app will make it much easier to access Gmail than using WAP.  Note that if you have a phone that supports IMAP or POP3, you might want to consider using that instead of the Java application.


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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Eye.Fi beta

I wrote about Eye.Fi before they had released a beta product, but now the SD card with integrated WiFi is available for beta testing.  Here are the terms of the beta test:

  • Phased approach to the test over a 2–3 month period
  • Application required to participate in beta with application not guaranteeing participation
  • $99 fee for beta participation with a 30–day rebate if you decide not to participate
  • Camera compatibility only — no mention of compatibility with smartphones or other devices that use SD cards where users would want WiFi capability
  • OSX 10.4 or Windows XP on your computer
  • Only JPEG file format transfers are supported

Read the full information on the Eye.Fi beta page.


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BlueTie free e-mail

It’s probably the best Outlook alternative that I’ve seen for small business.  Here’s what they offer for free:

  • Spam & virus protection
  • Shared contacts, calendars, and files
  • 5gb storage per user
  • Domain name support
  • Up to 20 users per account


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The Wall Street Journal Career Journal lists the 2006 Best Careers

Check out the results, you might find them interesting.


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Zettabyte Zbox

If you read my blog, you know that I am a user of Amazon’s S3 service, so I was excited to see the Zettabyte Zbox, which lives in your home/office as a hard drive, but also backs up all of your files to Amazon S3.  The pricing plans that Gizmodo is posting for Zettabyte’s offering seem aggressive compared to the actual cost of the Amazon S3 service, but I suppose that you are paying for convenience.


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How to enusre that you kill marketing creativity

Follow these simple steps:

    1. Be afraid, be very afraid
    2. Refuse to use your imagination

More on Seth Godin’s post about this subject.


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So if you are using all kinds of online services, how are you backing up your data?

It’s a very interesting question.  Are you backing up your e-mails that are in Gmail?  Isn’t the point of Gmail to divorce you from your computer?  There’s a big opportunity here for a storage company to figure out how to easily back up these web-based services and generate revenue.  The Wok Better Weblog refers to this process as “back-down.”


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It seems like there are Starbuck's across the street from each other . . .

. . . and in fact, that’s a strategy that Starbuck’s is pursuing according to a post on Boing Boing.  From the post:

"Going to the other side of the street can be a barrier," said Launi Skinner, senior vice president in charge of Starbucks' store development.

I’m speechless.


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Ever heard "it's just business"?

I’m a strong advocate of trying to separate business from personal, but it’s damn hard to do because business is simply people interacting with people, meaning that it’s hard to completely divorce personal from business.  Seth Godin has this to say on the topic:

Work takes too much time and too much emotion for it to be just work. As far as I'm concerned, I don't want to spend time or money with anyone who has this particular attitude disfunction.

Read the rest of Seth’s post and consider how you act.


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Stranahan -- whiskey made in Colorado

I’ll always post interesting stuff that’s made in my home state.  Certainly I never would have thought that Colorado would be producing a whiskey, but that all changed when I read about Stranhan’s on Luxist.  Lyke2Drink reviewed the whiskey and actually gave it a pretty good review.

Link — Luxist

Link — Like2Drynk

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Tweaking Firefox 2.0

Lifehacker has a great post on how to customize Firefox 2.0.


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Introductory Guide to Social Media

Corporate Engagement has a great, free Introductory Guide to Social Media that is available for download and is definitely worth sharing.


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Learning to speak in a "human voice" from Bill Clinton

Presentation Zen has an interesting post that details key qualities that Bill Clinton uses when speaking to speak in a “human voice.”  Think what you will about Bill Clinton, but the guy is a very engaging public speaker and well worth taking some tips from.


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Learn how to freelance

Phil Gyford has created “The Beginner’s Guide to Freelancing,” which is available for free from his site in electronic form.


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Monday, October 30, 2006

Coupon codes with RetailMeNot

It’s like BugMeNot for retail stores.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of minutes before someone writes a Firefox search box extension for this.


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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Firefox 2.0 final is out now

Go an get it.


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New TSA rules and a lack of consistency

I’ve traveled many times following the TSA allowing 3oz or smaller items that can fit into a 1qt resealable bag and seem to always run into the following problems:

  • Deodorant — they don’t make my particular flavor of deodorant in a “travel size,” but the regular size is 2.6oz, which, if I’m counting correctly, is less than 3oz; in most airports the TSA representative either yells at me, tells me they’ll “let it go this time,” and/or removes the deodorant from the bag to read the size information even though it’s in a clear plastic bag.
  • Cologne — the cologne that I use comes in a 2.5oz “travel size,” but the size information is not printed on the side of the bottle, rather it is printed on the bottom of the bottle.  TSA people seem to get angry when I tell them where to look for the size and in some cases have to find a supervisor to come and approve the cologne, which is silly.  The simple fact of the matter is that the cologne I use does not allow me to remove the cap to pour it into a smaller or different container.

My worst experience was in Denver this past Sunday — Denver is my home airport so I go through security more times in Denver than in any other city.  I have put my hair gel, lotion, etc. into Nalgene leakproof containers that are 3oz or less and I know that there are tons of other people using them because I see lots of people using them for their products going through security and they are basically sold out in 3oz and smaller sizes at the Container Store and REI.  A TSA agent in Denver stopped my toiletries from going through the conveyer, opened my plastic bag, and told me that the Nalgene containers were not allowed because they did not have the size stamped on them and did not have a manufacturer tag on them.  Shocked, I informed her that I had flown out of Denver at least 6 times and other airports at least 6 times without a single mention from the TSA, I pointed out that the Nalgene containers were factory-stamped with the size on the bottom of the container, and then I asked her to show me the policy from the TSA that stated the containers had to have a manufacturer label.  The TSA agent’s response to me was that I was lucky she wasn’t throwing my items away and that she would “let it go this time.”  Next the TSA agent attacked me about my plastic bag of over-the-counter medication and eyedrops, telling me that I was only allowed one 1qt plastic bag, not 2 bags — I informed her that I only put my OTC medication and eyedrops into the bag to make it easier for me to declare and easier for her to inspect and she shook her head at me, threw my items back into the bin, put the bin into the conveyer, and walked away.

Now here’s the thing: security is inconvenience or inconvenience is security; the aforementioned phrase that applies to you depends upon how you view the world.  I truly have no problem with the inconvenience of having to put my toiletries into a 1qt bag and have everything in a 3oz or less container — I would prefer not to have to do this, but I understand the security justification for the inconvenience.  What I cannot understand and do not agree with is the overwhelming lack of consistency that is tolerated by the TSA.  The TSA encourages people to read their rules before traveling, and below are the rules as listed on the TSA site:

  • All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not allowed. Each container must be three ounces or smaller.
  • All liquids, gels and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. Each traveler can use only one, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag.
  • Each traveler must remove their quart-sized plastic, zip-top bag from their carry-on and place it in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening. X-raying separately will allow TSA security officers to more easily examine the declared items.

Nowhere in the language above does it state that a container must be clearly marked as 3oz or less by the manufacturer, though you could make a reasonable argument that the container probably needs to be marked so that the traveler can prove that it is 3oz or less.  Further, nowhere in the language above does it say that you cannot use packages and containers that do not have a manufacturer product label — the TSA agent in Denver was simply flat-out incorrect and totally inconsistent with actual TSA policy.  Finally, nowhere in the language above or in the further language on the site does it restrict you from putting OTC medication or other items that are required to be declared into a plastic bag; I had actually just flown back from Vegas to Denver on the same day and a TSA agent in Vegas thanked me for putting my OTCs and eyedrops in the plastic bag because “it makes it so much easier.”

Link — TSA

Thursday, October 19, 2006

IE7 installed

Just installed the final (read “no longer beta”) release of IE7.  Having used IE7 beta for quite some time, there’s not a whole lot that’s changed from a user experience standpoint.

A few things to know when installing:

  • Probably best to quit the Spybot S&D Resident
  • The installer recommends quitting virus software, but I didn’t do that and had no problems
  • The installer will validate your copy of Windows before doing any installation
  • The installation takes some time following validation:
    • First the installer ran and removed the old version of IE — note that I was using a beta version of IE7, so I have no idea if it does this if you are running IE6 or below
    • Second the installer made me restart to complete the uninstallation
    • Third the machine rebooted directly to the installation, which downloaded some updates, installed the core components, and then ran the Malicious Software Removal Tool — this took about 10 minutes
    • Fourth the machine restarted again to complete the install
    • Finally upon logging in the installer finished up some installation tasks and displayed the desktop
  • Upon opening IE7 the first time, you are presented with some options to select including your default search provider, whether or not you want the anti-phishing filter enabled, and whether you want to participate in the feedback program
  • After filling out the initial screen, you can take a tour, add options, or go to your homepage 

I’m not sure if MS will be pushing this as an update, but if you want to get it now, you can download it via the link below.


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Sunday, October 15, 2006

New link blog

Google Reader makes it so easy to create a link blog that I have decided to actually resurrect my link blog that I had abandoned almost a year ago because the process was not nearly as easy as Google makes it.  My link blog will contain posts that I find interesting, but do not feel the need to comment on.  You can subscribe to my link blog like any other blog through a RSS feed.



Tuesday, October 10, 2006


This post was written with WriteToMyBlog, which is a web-based WYSIWYG blog post creator.  WriteToMyBlog has many of the same features that Blogjet includes, but I like the fact that it is web-based and therefor platform-independent.  I suppose that there are probably people that author posts when they are not connected to the internet, but that's not the way that I post, so WriteToMyBlog is a pretty compelling service to someone like me.   One key feature that I have not seen in Blogjet is the ability to tag without having to edit the code -- WriteToMyBlog has a tagging feature built in that automatically generates Technorati tags.  Now all WriteToMyBlog needs is to develop some bookmarklets that mke it easy to launch an authoring window that automatically creates links to items you are looking at in another window/tab.


Tag music in iTunes with Qloud

Qloud is software that allows you to tag your music in iTunes, but it only currently works with the Windows version of iTunes with the Mac version “coming soon.”  There seems to be a lot of conversation in the blogosphere about the lack of tagging ability in iTunes and different “hacks” that you can use to do tagging, so Qloud definitely serves the needs of the people that are missing this feature.

I think the big question is whether or not Apple will simply include the same features of Qloud in an upcoming version of iTunes and simply blow Qloud out of the water.  Personally, I’m not feeling like I need to tag my music library, but I suppose that could change in the future.

It is important to note that there are definitely some other features to Qloud that make it a competitor in the same space as services like Pandora and, but in this post I am solely focusing on the iTunes functionality.


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Talking with Talkster

I recently received an invitation to play around with an alpha release of Talkster, a service that will compete with other VOIM (that would be “voice over instant messaging”) services once it is officially launched.  During my initial login to the Talkster site, Firefox had a meltdown (it couldn't possibly have been the 48 tabs that I had open), which actually wound up locking me out of the service.  In order to ensure that I had a better experience the next time that I tried to sign up for the service, I was put directly in touch by phone with James Wanless, President and COO of Talkster.

The Talkster service is very straightforward from a user perspective — you simply tell the service your phone number for a “mobile alias” (the service currently allows you to set up 4) and add some contacts that you want to chat with.  Essentially the service provides a gateway between the telephone network and various IM clients with voice capabilities — I may get this wrong, but I think that service currently supports Google Talk, MSN, and Gizmo Project.  There is no software required on your computer or your phone; everything is handled via the Talkster main website and mobile website.

In the simple test that I did with Mr. Wanless, I simply added a contact with a Hotmail address (Google Talk user) to my list, navigated to the mobile Talkster site, and clicked to call the person I wanted to connect with — the URL in the mobile site generated a number for me to dial, I dialed the number, and was connected after a few rings to the MSN user.  The Talkster service is also configurable to do a call out to your phone after you click to connect, which is nice for people like me that have the Sprint/Nextel free incoming plan.  Unfortunately when I tried the call back function, my web browser was still receiving data, so the call was shunted direct to my voicemail — Wanless said that they are working on refining the timeout time for the call back to minimize this problem on CDMA networks where data traffic shunts calls to voicemail.

Talkster does allow you to make calls to normal telephone numbers instead of using VOIM; provided that you have stored phone number details with your contacts, any number outside of your local area can be dialed through the Talkster service in the same way as VOIM call (numbers in your same local calling area are dialed directly through your phone).

For Google Talk and Gizmo Project contacts, Talkster allows you to see the status of the user on the mobile phone — at the time of my writing this post, I do not believe that Talkster can show status for MSN users.

As it transitions out of alpha, Talkster will have aggressively low rates for international calls and will be attractive when traveling as you would be able to define a pre-paid SIM as one of your aliases to enable inexpensive calls when out of the country.  Further, Talkster will also be introducing functionality that will allow you to use a desk phone to perform the same functions via the Talkster main site — presumably you would enter the direct dial number for the desk phone, click the contact that you want to call, and then Talkster would call your desk phone to complete the connection.

I will continue to play with the Talkster service and provide updates as the service is updated and/or new features are added.  Hopefully as Talkster transitions out of alpha they will do some work on the interface design and perhaps even look at making the user experience fell more web 2.0 with some Ajax goodness.


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