Tuesday, June 26, 2007

iTunes activation for iPhone

This is pretty cool:

Apple® and AT&T Inc. today announced that iPhone™ users will be
able to activate their new iPhones using Apple’s popular iTunes®
software running on a PC or Mac® computer in the comfort and privacy of
their own home or office, without having to wait in a store while their
phone is activated. Activating iPhone takes only minutes as iTunes
guides the user through simple steps to choose their service plan,
authorize their credit and activate their iPhone.

Read the rest of the press release via the link below.


iPhone data pricing announced


All plans include visual voicemail, 200 sms messages, RollOver, unlimited M2M, and unlimited data:

  • $59.99 includes 450 voice minutes (only 5,000 night and weekend minutes)

  • $79.99 includes 900 voice minutes (unlimited nights & weekends)

  • $99.99 includes 1,350 voice minutes (unlimited nights & weekends)

Family plans will also be available and presumably there will be an iPhone data plan buy up for heavier voice users.

I might be one of the few, but based on what I pay Cingular now for voice and data, these plan prices look to save me quite a bit of money . . . if I decide to make the investment in the hardware.

Link -- InfoSync World 

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Empower your BlackBerry with HTML e-mail


One of the major gripes about BlackBerry devices is that they only support plain text e-mail, meaning that HTML-based e-mails come through looking pretty strange as all of the HTML code is displayed.  However, a company called Empower is developing a suite of BlackBerry add-ins, and one of them specifically addresses the rich e-mail problem.

The first portion of the suite available from Empower is the HTML e-mail viewer, which just launched as a public beta on June 17th.  I downloaded the Empower viewer on my BlackBerry and I have to say that I am very impressed.  To configure the Empower viewer, you simply hit the Applications button in your Message Inbox and set things like font, etc. (use a different font than your normal display font so that you know when you are seeing a message through the Empower viewer).  When you go into an individual e-mail, hitting the Application button allows you to toggle between plain text and HTML.

This program solves a major issue for me and if you're a BlackBerry user, you should definitely check it out.  My guess is that RIM will add in this functionality in the next BlackBerry OS, but it's sure nice to have right now.

Direct download OTA (e-mail this to yourself on your BlackBerry and just click the link) -- www.getempower.com/emv.php

Link -- Empower main site

Tim Armstrong from Rancid has his own CD

I happen to like Rancid and Tim Armstrong's new CD, A Poet's Life, isn't bad; the new CD is a collaboration with Armstrong and The Aggrolites , which gives it more of a ska sound.

Check out his site by clicking the image below.  Note that the link takes yu to Hellcat Records, a label in which Armstrong is very active managing -- he signs the bands.  Interestingly, Tiger Army is on the Hellcat label as well.

tim armstrong

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Getting Spotlight to index Thunderbird e-mails

spotlight thunderbird

Ok, I'm going to consolidate how to do this in a bunch of easy steps:

  • Download Thunderbird 2

  • Download Mozilla Mdimporter

  • Get Thunderbird all set up how you want it

  • Unpack the Mozilla Mdimporter and leave the uncompressed file on your desktop where it's easy to find

  • Press F11 to clear your screen so that you can see your desktop

  • Double-click your hard drive icon

  • Click "Library" (I'm assuming you're in column view here, so if you're not, you should probably just switch to it)

  • Click "Spotlight"

  • Drag the Mozilla Mdimporter file (probably named "Thunderbird" with no extension) into the Spotlight folder

  • Close the Finder window

  • Hit F11 again to restore everything

  • Open Thunderbird

  • Go to the "Thunderbird" menu

  • Select "Preferences"

  • Click the "Advanced" icon

  • Click the "General" tab

  • Click the "Config editor" button next to "Advanced Configuration"

  • Scroll down to "mail.spotlight.enable" -- click it and change it to "true"

  • Shut down Thunderbird

  • Restart your computer

  • Launch Thunderbird

  • If everything is working correctly, then you did everything correctly

  • Give the computer 30 minutes to do some indexing and enter in some search terms from an e-mail into Spotlight -- you should see the results show up as "Mail"

As with all of these sorts of things that I post, your mileage may vary and I'm happy to help with an further questions.

Some sources that I pulled information from:

Link -- dennis.ca has a post on how to do this with more detail than mine

Link -- MacOSXHints has a thread about this and though it's about the Thunderbird 2 beta, I don't think that anything's really changed 

Thunderbird image from Max Boss  

Using Parallels 3 SmartSelect

One of the cool features of Parallels 3 is the SmartSelect feature that allows you to use Windows applications to open files in OSX and OSX applications to open files in your Windows virtual machine.  Although I read the documentation, it took me a while to figure out how to get the feature working, so here's my quick instruction manual on how to set a Windows app to open files in OSX (I specifically needed this for Visio files):

  1. Make sure that Parallels is running. (I know that seems obvious, but none of this works if Parallels is not running)

  2. Open the application -- Visio in my case -- in the Parallels Virtual machine.

  3. You will see that the application now has an icon in the OSX dock.

  4. Ctrl-click (or for MacBook users that have it enabled, hold down to fingers on the mouse and click) the application icon in the dock.smarselect dock

  5. The contextual menu will pop up and click "Smart Select".

  6. In my case I have OmniGraffle on my OSX machine, which is an analog to Visio on the OSX side, so I had to actually change the settings to have all Visio documents opened with Visio rather than OmniGraffle.osx smarselect

  7. Once you've saved your changes, if you run Parallels in Coherence mode and double-click a file that you've designated be opened by a Windows application, the application will automagically open as if it were simply a native OSX application.

If you click the pictures on the side, they will link through to larger images.

Link -- Parallels 3 

Monday, June 11, 2007

Safari now available for Windows


No, you didn't read the title wrong, Safari, Apple's web browser is now available for Windows.  I personally use Firefox on all platforms because, well, it works on all platforms, but I may be reevaluating that decision.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Beer for bags

b4b wheel

Crumpler Bags does one of the coolest promotions ever: you can go into their retail location in New York on June 9th and trade beer for one of their cool computer bags.

The tradition started 5 years ago in Australia and this is the second year in the US.

I love this kind of stuff and hope that no matter how big they get that Crumpler never stops doing it.

Note: be sure to visit the Crumpler link below to use the online decoder; you wouldn't want to show up with the wrong kind of beer or not enough to trade. 

June 9, 2007 is the date this year, so only 5 more days to get to the liquor store. 

Link -- Crunpler beer for bags 

Link -- Gizmodo post (where I grabbed the image) 

A get a lot of e-mail about my review of Seth Godin's The Dip

the dip

Here is a great, general response (not written by me), which, not surprisingly comes from Seth Godin's blog about The Dip:

The one possible weakness of this otherwise terrific little volume
is that it is aimed solely at people who are creative, intelligent and
want to succeed. Those who are mediocre, unmotivated or just coasting
through life will probably not get much from Godin. He is not an
elitist, but his message is squarely aimed at those who want to succeed
or at least achieve excellence.

This was originally written by Richard Pachter.

Link -- The Dip blog post

Link -- original article by Richard Pachter 

The blurry line between personal blogs and the business you work for when people know where you work

Read the post on this topic by Chris Sacca at Google.

Interesting to see that he's moved a lot of his conversations to Twitter.

Link -- post

Link -- Sacca's Twitter 

Pay off your mortgage more quickly to save money


If you have extra money laying around, you may want to consider paying down the principal on your mortgage to save on long-term interest -- Lifehacker has some information on how to do this.

Jus tmake sure your mortgage company knows that any extra money that you pay is towards principal (i.e., if you use your bank's bill pay function, you might want to sign up with your mortgage holder to give you the ability to designate).


Photo by EricGjerde  

Rich e-mail signatures in Gmail

5ThirtyOne has detailed instructions on how to do it via the web client.  Be sure to read my post about Better Gmail and get that installed before visiting the link below as you'll need Better Gmail to make everything work.


Doing PR yourself


Guy Kawasaki shows you how and you might be surprised at how easy it can be.

Read this before you even think about hiring an agency. 


Picture from cheetah100  

Sunday, June 03, 2007

What's the big deal about Google Gears?

Google Gears

Google Gears takes things like Gmail (although Gmail's not available this way yet) that normally require you to be online and moves them to your desktop.

Why Google will be likely to succeed:

  • Lightwieght program -- doesn't tie up a lot of resources on your computer.  If you can automagically use web-based programs without being connected to the web, they should move at the same speed you would expect when connected.

  • Open source software -- Google is releasing the software for anyone to be able to use.  This is as important for consumer-facing sites as it is for internal sites.  For Google, if you get everyone on your standard, then you wind up with dependent users and monetization opportunities.

  • Support for major browser platforms -- Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari are all supported now and Opera support is promised.  This will be increasingly important in the mobile space with users running versions of IE on Windows Mobile, Opera on all kinds of devices, and Safari on Apple's soon-to-be-released mobile offerings.

  • Test base of applications that are consumer-facing and corporation-facing -- Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar for consumers and the same suite of applications offered in Google Apps Basic and Premium.  Consider being able to deploy Google Apps in your organization to users that needed offline access without having to support Thunderbird or Outlook -- everything happens through the browser whether the user's online or offline.

  • Strong partners -- Mozilla, Adobe, and Opera for now.  Adobe's done pretty well at creating the PDF standard and with their Apollo platform they have a heavy interest in offline capabilities.

So consider this:

You have a flash drive/portable storage device that runs a browser like Firefox (you can already do this).  When you get to work, you plug it into your machine and do everything online.  At the end of the day, you take just the portable storage device home with you and plug it into your machine at home that might not be connected to the internet and get some work done.  The next morning you come in and plug in your device and everything automagically synchronizes. 

Of course in the scenario described above, if you were to apply the Google Apps suite, you might wonder why most people would needed anything other than a machine running open-source Linux with a pretty good processor, an ok video card, and a keyboard and mouse.  If you were really thinking about it, you might even wonder why you couldn't accomplish an awful lot wit, say, a Google Phone and the recently announced Palm Foleo .

David Berlind has a great article on Google Gears with some key interviews with folks at both Google and Adobe, so check it out through the link below.

Link -- David Berlind

Link -- Google Gears 

Better Gmail

Better Gmail just, well, makes Gmail better on Firefox .  You'll have to get Greasemonkey installed on your Firefox browser in order to use Better Gmail as Better Gmail is really just a compilation of individual Greasemonkey scripts.  Sidebar: Greasemonkey allows you to run lightwieght javascript on top of webpages; if none of that makes sense to you, then Greasemonkey allows you to run Better Gmail and that's all you need to know.

One of the most important things that Better Gmail does is force Firefox to use https to connect to Gmail, meaning that your e-mail connection is secure.  If I were deploying Google Apps in an organization, I would force everyone to use Firefox with Better Gmail only for this reason.  Luckily Better Gmail does all kinds of other cool stuff.

Download direct from the Better Gmail site link below as the Mozilla add-on site goes down a lot.


Twitter: worth your time?


I've had people ask me whether or not I think Twitter is worth the time -- that question can be asked about anything.  Here's how I answer that kind of question and how I specifically answer about Twitter:

Whether you believe it is or not, you're right.

New music to check out: Tiger Army

Chances are good that you haven't yet heard of Tiger Army . . . chances are good that if you live in LA and listen to KROQ , you probably have.  Tiger Army isn't yet getting national radio play, but the band has one of the top 5 most requested songs on KROQ, which says a lot.

band picture

I got myself a copy of the Tiger Army album and have to say that it is pleasantly surprising to listen to: the songs range from decent to really good, but unlike many albums, you can listen to the whole thing without skipping tracks.  The band has members with hispanic background, so a couple of the tracks are in Spanish, but I think that's what adds to the whole disc being pretty good.

Link -- website

Link -- MySpace Page