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 Last.fm, 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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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Switching to Google Reader

I’m going to give Google Reader another try after it’s recent upgrade.  Here’s what I like:

  • Unbroken listing of new feeds (sometime referred to as “river of news”)
  • Ability to interact with feeds in their folders if necessary
  • Toggle between expanded view and list view of new feeds in the same window without posts being marked as read.
  • Posts only marked as read after I scroll past them instead of being marked as read when I click on a folder.
  • Import of the Bloglines OPML file actually preserved my folder structure, which has been a complaint in the past — not sure if this is a Google Reader feature or a Bloglines feature or just a standard feature for everyone.
  • Integration into my Google Account — single sign-on for lots of the stuff that I use is pretty nice.

Recent problems with Bloglines:

  • Saved posts no longer accessible — I can see what blogs that they came from, but can’t access the posts no matter what I do.
  • Random downtime with the plumber graphic.
  • Some of the stuff that I mentioned above that Google Reader does and Bloglines does not.

Link (if you already have Gmail, login, and then click the “all my services” link in the upper left corner)

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Link dump

Here’s a link dump to clear out all my saved Bloglines posts:

  • Get Rich Slowly writes about Sharebuilder, which seems to have an interesting model for simple investing; it’s also worth reading the rest of the post about “investment fun money.”  Link
  • Google mashup stuff as reported by TechCrunch — a great way to get caught up on Google offerings.  Link
  • 43 Folders reports on some good money management blogs.  Link
  • TUAW reports that Starbucks Hear Music is now part of the iTunes Music Store.  Link
  • Steve Rubel at MicroPersuasion talks about how Bloglines has lost its way — more on this from me in a future post.  Link
  • Paul Allen reports on how Mark Cuban turned broadcast.com into his billion dollar empire.  Link
  • Digg — why Apple will change TV.  Link
  • Digg — How to run a meeting like Google.  Link
  • Lifehacker reports on WriteToMyBlog — I’ll be testing this shortly as a Blogjet alternative.  Link
  • Seth Godin:
    • Things that can be learned from Columbus and how it all ties back to marketing.  Link
    • What’s important about things that seem important at the time.  Link
    • Is your problem the problem or the inability to admit there’s a problem?  Link
    • How do you measure success?  My guess is that it’s not about promises kept . . . at least not yet.  Link
    • Deal with an angry customer.  Link
    • Phrases you can use to ensure the destruction of good ideas — ensure that you are not the one killing good ideas by reading this list.  Link
    • Can you really end the job the job interview?  What if there was a better way that took very little of your time and resulted in better hires?  Link
    • Write down your dreams.  Link
    • Learn to understand belief.  Link
    • The Long Tail Squidoo Lens location.  Link
    • Fear of small enemies with insight from some others.  Link
    • How best available stacks up against good enough.  Link
    • This should be posted in every organization with salespeople.  Link
  • Guy Kawasaki provides some interesting data that every advertiser/marketer should read.  Link

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


An easy way to get in shape is to add a Xvest to your normal training routine.  Xvest has gotten a lot of press recently due to their release of a one-size-fits-all vest called the X2, but essentially the Xvest allows you to train with additional weight that is attached to your core — weight is adjustable in 1 pound increments and the total amount of weight that the vest will hold depends on the size of the vest that you purchase.  Consider this: if you simply walk a mile every day and add a Xvest to your walking routine, you will easily get a better workout by adding a Xvest to your workout.

The original Xvest is sized based on your waist size while the X2 is a one-size-fits-all as previously mentioned.  X2 is available with a maximum weight capacity of 20 pounds and generally ships with 12 pounds of weight; the original Xvest is available in 20, 40, and 84 pound maximum weight capacities.

Consider this information from the Xvest website:

If you weigh 180 lbs. And you jog for one hour, your body will burn 540 calories. Adding 20 lbs. (total 200 lbs.) and jogging for one hour will burn 635 calories, approximately 20% more calories. You also benefit from “Afterburn”, accelerated consumption of calories for up to 36 hours post exercise.

Link — Xvest site

Link — X2vest site