Monday, September 22, 2008

Oosah free terabyte sounds good except

The new online storage offering from Oosah of one terabyte of online storage for free sounds great until you read the Terms and Conditions. First you are not allowed to store your music collection or at least any of your copyrighted songs because this violates Oosah's Terms and Conditions. The same goes for copies of videos you have purchased since most of those are also copyrighted. So you say ok fine I can store the 1000's of digital pictures I have personally taken and yes from what I have read that is allowed. But once again read the Oosah Terms and Conditions in particular 9.c which says you retain ownership but once you have uploaded your pictures Oosah can use, copy, perform, display, distribute and prepare derivative works. So my advice think twice before uploading anything to Oosah. But Oosah isn't the only one that may produce derivative works evidently Facebook claims the same right to produce derivative works from your uploaded digital pictures. So I think I will stick with my paid Flickr Pro account but I'm going to reread the Flickr Terms and Conditions and in particular how it applies to photos I have not made public. So my advice read through the Terms and Conditions on any of the various free or paid online storage offerings before uploading.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Eliminate the waste of Yellow Pages and White Pages

I don't know about you but I can count on one hand minus a few fingers how many times I've used the Yellow Pages and White Pages in the last year. So when I saw this post on Lifehacker about eliminating the delivery of Yellow Pages I thought I would pass it on in case you don't happen to read Lifehacker. Also to save you a click here is the link to site that Lifehacker brought to light. Then once on Yellowpagesgoesgreen click on Sign Up which lets you opt out of both the Yellow Pages and White Pages. My question is will this get rid of all the various versions of the Yellow and White Pages I receive these days. For instance I happen to live in SBC now AT&T territory but for some reason I just recently received a Verizon combo half Yellow half White pages directory and in the past various other phone companies have sent me their version of the Yellow Pages or White pages. Hopefully this opt out service will eliminate all of the paper directories the phone companies deliver, but only time will tell. Also please note Yellowpagesgoesgreen is currently only setup for US households and business even though numerous other countries have Yellow Pages and I'm sure various White Pages.

So now your looking for online directories here is a link to Yellow Pages and White Pages but even better in my opinion is Google's free directory assistance(411) service. Give it a try by calling 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411). Also at your option Google's 411 service will place the call to the business it finds for free.

So join the movement at home to eliminate the waste of paper the Yellow Pages and White Pages represent for many households these days. Also Yellowpagesgoesgreen is suppose to work at the office and then if you feel so inclined save your employer money by having your Telecom group redirect your companies 411 calls to Google's service. Believe me having seen first hand what the phone companies charge for 411 service this could win you some big points at the office.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Malware on Facebook

Public Safety/Computer Safety message to Facebook users.

This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone but malware (i.e. virus, worm) is on Facebook, if you already know this and/or have had to deal with it what I call "runtime error 21" skip the rest of this post. If not here is how the scenario went at my house -

daughter - "Dad my computer is acting weird"

dad - "what is it doing?"

daughter - "it keeps giving me this message - Runtime error 21 followed by some numbers"

dad - "ok ... does it go away when you reboot"

daughter - "no"

dad - "ok, I'll look at your PC when I get home"

later that evening

dad - "so did you install anything new on your computer"

daughter - "no ... but I did click on this link on my Facebook wall from this girl I haven't talked to in about 2 years, it looked like some sort link to a funny joke or ecard"

dad - "oh wonderful"

initial investigation - well the Runtime error 21 is there and constantly repeats and System Restore doesn't get rid of it. None of the System Restore points work they all come up with nothing has changed even though System Restore clearly shows one new item installed earlier in the week. In addition as of 08/08/08 Norton 360 and PC Tools Spyware Doctor do not detect or remove it. So looking like time to restore from that last backup, glad I did that a few weeks ago.

dad - "do you remember a couple years ago when your sister clicked on that link in the IM message from some friend she rarely talked to"

daughter - "yeah I kind of remember that"

dad - "well it looks like someone is doing the same thing with messages on your wall, so please don't do that again."

resolution - well I just could not take the easy way and do a full restore, so instead I finally did find a link on Tech Support Guy Forum with info on what I needed to do to remove this malware. The problem with this information is my particular strain of malware required booting from a standalone BartPE disk otherwise it just kept reinstalling inself. So for many users creating a BartPE boot disk or some other standalone boot is not going to be something they want to tackle. So if I find a removal tool I will let you know, likewise if you find a removal tool please comment so everyone can clean this up quickly and easily. I have also sent a message to Max Kelly who according to this post on is head of Security at Facebook asking for information on removing this malware but so far no answer.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Twitter users frustrated is uptime improving

Although I posted previously about how Twitter can be used as a universal IM client, beware Twitter has reliability issues. Here is a rant from Molly Wood over at Webware about Twitters reliability issues. So I decided to track Twitter uptime myself using Pingdom starting on May 21 and the first 2 days each had down time of 1 hour or more. Then for the next few days the worst day was 21 mins. and 2 days with no downtime so it looked like things where improving but then on June 2 the downtime was roughly 1.75 hours so it would appear Twitter is still having issues. Overall since starting my monitoring using Pingdom Twitter uptime is at 98.2%, so there is room for improvement.

Now in case your wondering what Twitter has to say about the reliability issues of their service, here is a post on the Twitter Developer blog. Basically Twitter says the underlying issues are being addressed but it will require a significant amount of time to re-architect and re-write the various pieces needing attention. Well hopefully the people at Twitter will succeed in improving the reliability of their service so they can then concentrate on new functions and features.

In the mean time think about Twitter like I do my cell phone - It's Great when it works.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Free High Quality Wallpapers

I don't know about you but I'm always on the lookout for new pictures, art and such to use as backgrounds for my desktop Wallpaper. Well here is a new free program which is currently in beta for Windows called Desktoptopia that you should give a try. If you're a Mac person you may already be using have Desktoptopia which has been around for awhile. Also it appears there is no longer a charge for the Mac version. Anyway Desktoptopia is a wallpaper manager that pulls down new artwork from the Desktoptopia site. Once installed you can choose from the following categories (3D, Abstract, Architecture, Films, Games, Graphic Design, Illustration, Photography and Typography) of artwork for Desktoptopia to choose from as it randomly downloads your next wallpaper. Currently there are over 250 different pieces of art to choose from and I have found most of the pieces to be very high quality. The other nice feature is you can rate each piece of art that Desktoptopia loads and you can also reject a piece so that it will not load again if it's something you just don't care for. One feature I would like to see added to Desktoptopia is the ability to load images from a local or networked folder so that you can add your own images. In the absence of allowing you to load images from a local folder Desktoptopia does allow you to submit art which if selected will be added to the public images Desktoptopia downloads for all users.

Monday, May 12, 2008

PC History - great read

The first model of the IBM PC, the personal computer whose successors and clones would fill the world.Image via WikipediaIf you have been around PC's for more than a few years here is a very entertaining review of PC History by Briard that will bring back memories or fill in pieces of the story you may not have heard. It covers not just the IBM PC but also Apple and the fun that led up to the IBM and Apple branches of the PC tree and the growth of those branches through the years. In addition Briard adds a lot of color to PC History with his naming of the characters that were involved.

Also this article is part of a new wiki started by Gizmo Richards who puts out the Support Alert monthly ezine which is one of my must reads every month.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Hack your Canon Digital Camera

Canon PowerShot A60Image via WikipediaThe geek part of me just loves CHDK which allows you to hack your Canon Digital Camera firmware. Also when I read that CHDK is non destructive to your cameras firmware I was really interested, I mean bricking your gadgets really puts a damper on hacking a device. If your thinking ok what will CHDK let me do here is a list of the Canon Digital cameras for which the CHDK firmware add on works and what new tweaks CHDK adds, very impressive. If that wasn't enough there are thousands of scripts to tweak your camera even more with CHDK. I don't know about you but I know a Canon Digital Camera is now on my short list as I try to decide what Digital Camera to buy.

If you know of other Digital Camera brands with firmware add-ons/tweaks similar to CHDK let me know so I can include them in my list of Digital Cameras as I research the overwhelming number of options available these days.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Twitter -> Universal IM client and more

I have been using Twitter on and off for a little over a year. Initially Twitter seemed like an interesting idea but somehow it just didn't seem to stick with me. Well recently I discovered that Twitter allows you to send private messages or Direct messages as they are called in Twitter. Well for me direct messages solve the problem of a mobile IM client for which I've been looking for a solution for several years. So when you consider that Twitter has a text message (i.e. SMS) interface you now have a universal IM client that will work on any phone, no need to worry about the OS on your mobile phone and whether there is a client for your device. If you haven't tried Twitter or you have but where not sure you liked it think about Twitter as more than just a way to tell the world what you are doing. Twitter can be very macro if you have the desire to tell everyone what you are doing or very micro using direct messages and with the SMS, IM and web interfaces it is also very accessible.

Now if I could just find a way to send Twitter direct messages to existing AOL, MSN, Google and Yahoo IM ids then Twitter would be not only a universal IM client but a universal IM hub.

Stay tuned for more on Twitter.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Memristors what amazing potential

If your into physics or electrical circuits you may have already heard of the term memristor. If you have not heard the term before a memristor is a fourth type of passive circuit element to go along with capacitor, resistor and inductor. So you say I've heard of the other circuit element types but not memristor why is that. Well until recently no one had been able to build a memristor even though they had been theorized 37 years ago by Leon Chua. But recently researchers at HP Labs using nanotechnology have solved that problem and have built a working memristor prototype. So now you say what good is a memristor, well as the name implies one use would be memory. But you say current DRAM memory works well already and DRAM is fast what advantage would using a memristor have. Well first memristor based memory needs no power to retain its state, so for example if you hibernate your PC, resuming your PC would be nearly instantaneous like flipping on a light switch. So that sounds good memristors are energy efficient but memristors are also fast possibly many times faster than current DRAM. Then you have size, memristors are small and memristors actually function better the smaller they get. To get an idea of the size of the memristors in the HP prototype the prototype puts 100 Gigabits onto a square centimeter vs. 16 Gigabits for current flash memory technology. In addition HP thinks they can further improve the density of the current prototype to allow 1 Terabit or more to be contained on a sq. cm. in future updates. Next memristors not only operate in digital 0's or 1's they are also analog in nature. So assuming you can get a memristor to store 256 measurable states you now have increased your storage density by 2 to the 8 power. Aside from memory applications another exciting possibility due to the analog nature of memristors may be various neural network applications such as image recognition. So unless memristor technology encounters a fatal manufacturing hurtle I would say the potential for memristors is truly amazing.

If you want to read further about memristors here is a link to my Delicious bookmarks on the subject. I have also found a Google Group called - Memristor Computer Programming

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Atom smasher and micro black holes

Thousands of particles explode from the collision point of two relativistic (100 GeV per ion) gold ions in the STAR detector of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider; an experiment done in order to investigate the properties of a quark gluon plasma such as the one thought to exist in the ultrahot first few microseconds after the big bangImage via WikipediaHere is something to get you thinking, if have any interest in particle physics go to Geeks are Sexy and read about the LHC (Large Hadron Collider (i.e. atom smasher)) which has been built by CERN in Europe. Some scientists are voicing concerns that the LHC could create micro black holes and stranglets. Well I have heard of black holes but not micro black holes so I went to Wikipedia to find out what a micro black hole is. Well micro black holes are as you would expect very small black holes so small that they may not be big enough to affect even one atom. In addition micro black holes may just evaporate or fly off into space at the speed of light. But the LHC is not the only possible source of micro black holes though, cosmic rays are also considered to have sufficient energy to produce micro black holes and I would assume stranglets also. So then I went back to Wikipedia to find out what a stranglet might be and if I understand correctly a stranglet would be a group of strange quark(particles that protons and neutrons are made from)s vs. up and down quarks and if there are enough strange quarks you end up with a quark star. So having a star created in the middle of the LHC sounds like an undesirable result also.

So let's hope that neither the LHC or cosmic rays are able to produce a stable black hole or quark star. But if they do will any of us know it since everything would be sucked into the black hole or annihilated by a quark star or will time move so slowly that we will see it happen in slow motion.

fyi. On a sad note I just read this post that John Wheeler the scientist who coined the term "Black Hole" just passed away at age 96.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Free Virtual Drive software for CD's and DVD's

Have you ever wanted to read a .iso file but didn't want to take the time to burn it to a CD or DVD. Well I have had a pay for program that does that for a few years but today Ask the Admin pointed me to a free program call Virtual Clone Drive from Elaborate Bytes (i.e. elby). In addition I installed VCD (Virtual Clone Drive) on my Vista machine and it works although the elby website does not specifically state that Vista is supported. Anyway this will save me from having to pay for the upgrade to my existing program in order to get Vista support. In addition to mounting .iso files VCD will also let you mount .img, .ccd, .dvd, .udf and .bin files. Also VCD seems to be actively supported based on the Version number of which is the current version with a date of 4/10/08.

One word of caution that was pointed out on Ask the Admin if you plan to reinstall VCD as it is updated make sure you uninstall it first and I would also recommend a reboot or else you will receive repeated BSODs, I guessing someone learned that the hard way.

Thanks Ask the Admin for saving me a few bucks and helping me avoid the repeated BSODs in the future that's assuming I remember and don't get in a hurry.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Good News Network

If your tired of all the bad news with which we are constantly bombarded then give the Good News Network a try.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Top Open Source Security Tools

If your a fan of Open Source tools and software then you might want to check out this years list of Top Open Source Security Tools put together by Cynthia Harvey over at eSecurity This list has her choices for the Top 75 Security Tools covering Anti-virus, Encryption, File Transfer, Firewalls, Forensics, Security Suites, Intrusion Detection, Log Analyzers, Network Monitoring, Password Management, Remote Administration, System Admin Tools, User Authentication and VPN Tools. One area not covered by this list is wireless security and I'm sure there are other Open Source Security tools but it's always nice to see a list like this to see what you might not be aware of. If you have a favorite security tool that didn't make this list leave a comment I'm always on the lookout for security tools.

As far as 2007 and previous years I have not been able to find anyone consistently doing an annual list of Top Open Source Security Tools but following are 2 different sources of Top Open Source Security Tools from past years.

For 2007 there is this list from Network Security Journal - Top 105 Open Source Security Tools and this list does include a section on wireless.

Then for 2006 and a few previous years produced the Top 100 Security Tools.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

College students and Tax rebate

Well thankfully my taxes are done for another year. But in the process of doing my taxes with Turbo Tax it shows you the amount you can expect to receive from the US Govt. economic stimulus payments. Well guess what your children in college don't qualify since they are 17 or older. But in addition when I worked on taxes for my college age children who earned just enough to qualify earnings wise for the economic stimulus payments, guess what they didn't qualify since they can be claimed on a parents tax return.

Someone please explain why college students don't qualify on their own or under their parents. Does someone think parents of college students couldn't use some extra money or does someone think college students have lots money, well they are wrong in both cases.

This just makes no sense to me why are college students and parents of college students penalized, someone please explain this to me.

Oh and one more point what is magic about age 17, are children suppose to be out on their own, WRONG AGAIN usually they are in the last year or two of high school. So why once again do tax credits disappear for children at age 17?

Well now that I have vented about this I will get back to my normal posts, but please comment if you have some thoughts on this subject or you would just like to rant about this yourself.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Scrum it is, so what are the odds

Looks like Larry at ZDNet likes my pick for the sport so Microhoo scrum it is. So that gives us a name for this match. Now I just need some artistic talent to do justice to a good cover for the scorecard. Should we pick colors for the teams, who is the home team. Let's have some fun with this.

As far as odds go I've had no luck finding any listing on that from the betting parlors. I've heard you can get odds on most anything in Vegas, let me know if you find odds posted. The best I've been able to find on odds is this post from MSN Money saying the probability is 55% that Microsoft will win. Longer term and for the really big money what are the odds Microhoo will win against Google and which stock should you buy.


Google plans for bigger role in Microhoo scrum by ZDNet's Larry Dignan -- Google has hired Frank Quattrone, a long-time Silicon Valley investment banker, and his firm Qatalyst as an adviser. Hiring Quattrone indicates that Google has no plans to let go quietly as Microsoft makes its play for Yahoo. According to the New York Times’ DealBook blog, Google has retained Quattrone’s services. Quattrone, a controversial figure, recently launched [...]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yahoo going critical

Couldn't resist forwarding the post below from ZDNet, the title caught my eye immediately. If you need a tech soap opera to watch or will this be a drama to entertain you this year then stay tuned, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google are continuing to write the script. Then as I'm writing this post I see this from GigaOm which calls the Yahoo deal with Google "Sleeping with the Enemy", ah the headlines. Oh and the cast of characters is growing according to the GigaOm article now AOL is in the mix. Definitely going to need a scorecard to keep track of the players in this ballgame. Another update now Microsoft is trying to work a deal with News Corp.. Also let's not forget another interested player who may join the mix DOJ or at least Microsoft is bringing up antitrust ramifications, how ironic. So place your bets on who is going to win, is anyone giving odds on who will win this I wonder.

Pass on your favorite headline for the Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, AOL, News Corp. scrum.

(pictures courtesy Wikipedia)

Yahoo goes nuclear vs. Microsoft: Inks limited Google ad deal; Microsoft fires back by ZDNet's Larry Dignan -- Update: Yahoo hit that big red button that could nuke any potential merger with Microsoft (or at least raise the price): An ad deal with Google. As first reported in The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo has launched plans to carry search advertising from Google. The move is a “test” at this point, but could evolve into [...]

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Google Application Engine vs. Amazon Web Services

Well AWS (Amazon Web Services) with a reported 330,000 developers now has significant new competition from the just announced Google Application Engine. Google's new cloud computing service went into limited beta on Monday and was opened to the first 10,000 users to sign up based on the post in the Google App Engine blog. It appears those 10,000 slots have already been taken since when I tried to sign up I received a message saying I would be added to the waiting list. Google's App Engine beta which I assume will turn into the base level service once the service opens to more widespread use will most likely be free based on Google's past performance. So what is Google offering users well here are some of the details on the capacities offered to the beta users - 3 applications, 500 MB of storage/application, 200 million CPU megacycles/day and 10GB of bandwidth each for in and out per day, which is suppose to equate to roughly 5 million page views per month. Amazon Web Services on the other hand has charges for storage, various service requests and bandwidth just like other hosted solution and currently no base level free service. So the question is will Amazon be forced to offer a free base level service to compete with Google or do the 330,000 current Amazon developers represent a large enough mass with enough momentum to keep Amazon from having to offer a free version, it will be interesting to see what happens.

In the mean time AWS is already hosting well known services or parts of those services such as Twitter, 37signals, Smugmug, Elephant Drive and Facebook Apps. So if AWS is something you want to consider further along with joining the ranks of the many AWS developers checkout the following -

AWS Developer Connection
AWS Blog

In addition O'Reilly just published Programming Amazon Web Services if you're really interested in getting into AWS.

Since Google just announced their service the documentation is currently only offered online. In addition Google has an application gallery for some of the applications that have already been created.

As far as programming options AWS supports C#, Java, PHP and Ruby while Google only supports Python at this time. So if Google App Engine intends to compete head on with AWS it would seem that Google will need to broaden their supported programming options in the future. But is Google really interested in competing head with Amazon I'm not so sure of that. Also due to Google's infrastructure and how they build applications they may want to focus on only supplying the limited Python interface.

One other point of interest, if this does turn into true head on competition between Amazon and Google, will Google in particular have to reveal more about their infrastructure to satisfy prospective customers due diligence needs as they decide which service to use, at some point you would think so.

In the meantime tell me what you think about Amazon Web Services if you already use them. Same for the Google Application Engine if you were lucky enough to get in as part of the initial beta group. Or is there another service you think is superior. Do you think Yahoo and Microsoft will expand Office Live Workspaces in order to more fully compete in the cloud computing arena.

Friday, April 04, 2008

New tool cracks enterprise wireless LANs

I am hoping the article noted below from ZDNet is wrong and only 50% of companies are vulnerable. But when you consider how prevalent wireless LANs are in most companies I'm sure I don't want to know the percentages of companies that are vulnerable. So if have a wireless LAN at your company you should check out the following article and if your not the network admin get your admin to review and implement the changes if possible. One problem that is pointed out in this article is that Apple machines can not be configured to prevent the problem. Because as I pointed out yesterday Apples market share is increasing and even if that was not the case most companies have always had a few Macs somewhere in the company and you can bet Mac users want to be on the wireless LAN too.

Also something to keep in mind you don't want your company to repeat what happened at T. J. Maxx last year.

New tool cracks most enterprise wireless LANs by ZDNet's George Ou -- If your company or organization runs an enterprise wireless LAN network, I have some troubling news for you. Odds are high that your current “enterprise-class” wireless LAN deployment is vulnerable to authentication leakage which not only exposes your internal network but all of your server access controls. You can use all the strongest authentication protocols such [...]

Thursday, April 03, 2008

PWN2OWN - Apple is now the target

Apple Macs have in the past been perceived as more secure than Microsoft Windows systems and depending on what you read and who did the tests you might have been able to make that argument. Well I think the PWN2OWN contest from CanSecWest last week and last years month of Apple exploits shows that Mac owners just like Windows owners need to keep their systems current on patches. Also with Apples increased market share the size of the bullseye on Apple is growing. The problem I think for Apple is first having to admit their systems need frequent patching just like Windows machines. But a bigger problem for Apple and Microsoft users in general is finding out about patches and then the real killer is getting people to take the time to install the patches once they are aware of them. For Microsoft products you have the Microsoft Update tool which helps users find and if you let it automatically install patches. But the problem is your average Windows machine has lots of other non-Microsoft software on it and Microsoft Update does little to help you with non-Microsoft software. So here is where a free tool that is currently in beta from Secunia called PSI (Personal Software Inspector) helps you find most of your unpatched software. PSI continually scans your Windows PC for installed software and then lets you know if patches are needed and where you can download the patches from, no it will not automatically install patches and probably never will . Now if Microsoft and Secunia would just team up and make PSI part of Microsoft Update so that all Windows users would be more aware of the all the needed patches that would be progress. For Apple owners tools that accomplish what PSI does are also needed and hopefully are a priority for Apple. Overall both Apple and Microsoft need to keep improving their patch management tools so users can easily keep all of their software patched not just the software from the OS vendor. Also scanning for patches needs to be a free tool that is part of the OS, not another paid subscription tool like anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc.. Otherwise most users will not take the time to install a free tool and forget it if you expect most consumers to spend money for a patch management tool.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Gmail Custom Time

In case you haven't seen this Gmail announced a new feature today called Custom Time check it out here.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Xoopit beta Invites

Here are links to articles by Techcrunch and GigaOM with links for Xoopit beta Invites. Let me know if the beta invites run out so that I can remove this post.

Xoopit Inbox 2.0 for Gmail

Xoopit lanuched there Inbox 2.0 interface to Gmail today. Currently you need an invite to be a part of this private beta. Xoopit is also working on interfaces to Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, AOL and .Mac. Once I have access into the beta I will pass on my first impressions and share any extra invites if they are generous enough to grant any to the initial beta testers.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

New Hidden Google Mobile Service Revealed

Google mobile "LCB" was uncovered by picking apart a publicly available file containing a list of all pages that crawlers shouldn’t be able to see. Essentially, LCB is an interesting move away from Google’s typical offerings.

net1492 says - If you want to give this a try here is the url -

read more | digg story

Court Ruling Denies EMI Access to Millions of Personal Files

A New York Judge has denied a request by EMI to force MP3tunes turn over all music files for its 125,000 users. For now, this means the contents of personal music Lockers will remain private. In court (EMI v MP3tunes), EMI demanded that MP3tunes provide copies of the more than 100 million songs in their subscribers' personal music Lockers.

net1492 says - This is good news otherwise EMI could go after consumers for storing music on any number of online backup services.

read more | digg story

Amazon takes on Apple with copy-protection-free music

Amazon's MP3 store - which sells only songs without copy protection - has quietly become No. 2 in digital sales since opening nearly six months ago.

net1492 says - Nice to see Apple getting some competition. Even better Amazon in general only charges $0.89 cents per song and there are additional savings on albums. Amazon music also has no DRM (i.e. copy protection which is the biggest reason I see to move to Amazon). Also Amazon has a deal going with Pepsi where you can buy music using Pepsi points.

read more | digg story

Friday, March 28, 2008

Apple Forbids Windows Users from Installing Safari

As spotted by our Italian friends at setteB.IT, Apple's Safari license says that users are permitted to install the browser on no more than "a single Apple-labeled computer at a time." This means that if you install Safari for Windows on a Windows PC, you're violating the license.

net1492 says - It looks like the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing at Apple.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's the Browser not the OS anymore

After seeing a post on Safari for Windows at Because I said So and now this post on the AT&T Pogo browser at Techcrunch I started thinking. What is Apple thinking and especially AT&T what am I missing, why would these large Internet players want to get into the middle of the desktop browser wars. Well It's the Browser not the OS anymore, if you can own the browser which is where many of us live, you own the user for the near future. So what better way to do that then to have a browser that is as similar as possible on your desktop and your PDA/phone. Speaking of the PDA you have browser wars heating up there also. You have a private beta of the Skyfire browser for Windows Mobile and eventually Symbian, next is Firefox Mobile which is suppose to be out sometime this year. Then there is Opera which has a browser version for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Windows Mobile and many phones. But what about Microsoft and IE, IE for Mac had support discontinued in 2006 and Microsoft has never had a direct Linux version. But there is IEs 4 Linux which allows you to run IE5 through IE7 on Linux. So one question is will Microsoft sit around while Apple moves in on Windows with Safari or will Microsoft buy what it needs to fight on all fronts in this round of browser wars. The other question is what will Microsoft arch rival Google do, is Google working on developing a browser from scratch, that doesn't seem to be there style based on what I read. Instead after reading this article at Read WriteWeb about Google and Opera, you wonder if Google is now going after Opera or still working on Firefox or maybe Google buys both Opera and Firefox to keep them from Microsoft. Add it all up and this year looks to be very exciting in the browser world.

Let me know who else we should add to the scorecard I'm sure I have missed some of the players.

Driver Magician Free

If you haven't tried Giveaway of the Day, today would be a good time to give it a try. Today you can get Driver Magician for free, this program backups all your drivers and also checks for updates on all the various drivers on your system.

Now for a couple of words about how Giveaway of the Day works, you have to download and run the activate program before the end of the current day (so as of 2pm Central time here in the US you have 12 hrs in which to download and run the activate program). After running activate program you then have to install the program. Some of the Giveaway of the Day offers have you enter the license key manually so always check the readme file that is normally part of the download.

Let me know what you think about Driver Magician and Giveaway of the Day. My experience with Give away of the Day has been you see programs repeated so if you happen to miss something you really want keep checking it could come back in a few months. Also read the comments to see what the general opinion is about the current days download assuming it's even something your interested in. In addition what is really good about the comments is that many times someone will suggest another package that is as good or better than the current give away.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How used is that PC

Another thought crossed my mind as I'm considering picking up a used PC and that is how used is it. After you get past the general specs that are acceptable for the used PC you are looking to buy wouldn't it be nice to know what shape the system is in. Well the best idea I have been able to come up with so far is using anyone of a number of tools that check the S.M.A.R.T stats on the Hard Drive. In particular S.M.A.R.T. tracks the power on hours for a hard drive. So far HDDlife which has a free and Pro version fits the bill. Here is a sample of the information that HDDlife provides, it's particularly nice for the purpose of determining how used a PC is because it does the calculation of converting the S.M.A.R.T. attribute for power on hours into days, weeks, months and years.

In addition you can see that S.M.A.R.T. tracks a number of aspects on the hard drive and a tool like HDDlife can tell you about the overall health of the hard drive. So this doesn't answer everything you would like to know about how used a PC is but it gives you a decent idea. Now for a system you buy from a local reseller this works fine but I wonder if any of the online refurbished PC sellers would run this tool for you on the systems they have in stock.

In case you are wanting to learn more about S.M.A.R.T. the Wikipedia entry on this subject contains a lot of details. Also the Wikipedia entry has links to a number of other hard drive utilities for both PC's and Mac's that process S.M.A.R.T. attributes.

If you have other tools you use to check out used PC's or Mac's let me know. What has your experience been buying used systems? Do you have a favorite online reseller of refurbished systems and if so why? Maybe we could develop a previously owned certification process for systems. Please share your thoughts and ideas it would really help provide needed information for those who for whatever reason are considering buying a refurbished system.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Getting Windows XP before or after June 30

Here is a follow up from my post about Vista SP1 performance and in particular grabbing a copy of Windows XP so you can delay your move to Vista. So assuming your thinking about getting a copy of Windows XP before June 30 checkout this great article by Scott Dunn at WindowsSecrets from last week on various options and considerations when buying a new PC with XP or downgrading a new Vista PC to XP. In addition there is a follow up at WindowsSecrets this week which gives another option to extend your time for getting Windows XP beyond June 30 and that is buying a refurbished PC with a valid XP license. You may not be aware of this but many PC manufactures sell refurbished systems with warranties. Following are some links to sites with refurbished PC -

Dell - currently they only have Vista on there inventory of refurbished systems.
TigerDirect - lots of options here from a number of PC manufactures, check to make sure the system includes an OS since some of there systems come without.

You should also check the specs on these systems many of these are very low end by todays standards fine for email and browsing the Internet but obviously not up to running the latest PC games. Also if your thinking of transferring the XP license off of a refurbished system that can present a number of challenges especially for systems with OEM licenses. In the case of a Windows OEM license the licenses is tied to the motherboard and according to Microsoft can not be transferred. So if you want to have flexibility with your Windows license and the hardware you run it on then you need to get a retail/boxed version.

One last thought if a refurbished PC does fit your needs give yourself a pat on the back for helping the environment by recycling. On that same note when you do permanently retire a PC make sure you dispose of it properly.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Verizon unlimited data plan beware

According to this article at CrunchGear the Verizon Unlimited Data Plan is not really unlimited. Evidently it is a 5GB plan and for each megabyte over 5GB you are charged $0.49. Since I'm not a Verizon data plan user at the moment I don't know how or if you can monitor your data usage. Hopefully you don't have to find out by getting a large overcharge for your usage on your bill should this happen.

On my wish list is an option from the wireless carriers to cutoff usage when you hit a predefined limit. This is really needed for SMS, Data usage and even voice minutes so you don't get that surprise when the monthly bills comes and you find out your kids have went over the SMS text message limit by $20, $30 and more. I know from experience as my my kids have done this a number of times. Maybe I should look into the prepaid plans more closely. You would think with all of the churn in the wireless market that the carriers could market usage capping as a way to show that they cared about there customers.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Save electricity with LocalCooling

LocalCooling is a free program from Uniblue I have been using for over a year and with the recent update to Version 2 it is now something I'm comfortable recommending (Uniblue got rid of the annoying beep LocalCooling made before blanking the screen). What the LocalCooling program provides is an easy way to adjust the energy saving options on your Windows XP or Vista PC.

In addition it tracks your savings and tells you how many trees or gallons of oil or kilowatt hours you have saved.

Then if you have multiple PC's and want to setup a free account LocalCooling will track the savings on all of your PC's.

If you will notice the savings do add up over time. So give it a try and save a few dollars and help the environment in the process. - Fight Global Warming From Your Desktop

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Intel Atom for PDAs and UMPCs

Andriod Guys picked up on the new Intel Atom processor which is targeted at the PDA and UMPC market and I like the thought about this chip being used in Android based high-end phones. To start with the Intel Atom comes with the Core 2 Duo instruction set so that should really open up the software possibilities. Next with clock speeds up to 1.8GHz this chip should blow away any of the current PDAs. Last based on the information in this article at Computer Active the power draw is 0.6 - 2.5 watts compared to the normal power draw of a standard Core 2 Duo notebook which is 35 watts. To put that further into prospective a PPC 6700 with a PXA270 @ 416MHz has a typical power draw of 0.57 watts. In addition the idle draw of the PXA270 @ 416MHz is 0.186 watts while the Atom is only 0.030 watts. Or you can compare to the new MacBook Air with its new Core 2 Duo which has a power draw of 20 watts according to AnandTech. So the Atom sure seems to have the potential to really open up the possibilities for PDAs and UMPCs and I can hardly wait to see Android based phones using the Atom chip.

If you want more details here is the link to Intel Atom information.

Monday, March 03, 2008

ICE (In Case of Emergency)

Here is a good idea that I saw over at IT-AID about putting emergency numbers in your cell phone. Basically the idea is if you happen to be in an accident or some other emergency put the numbers you want called into your cell phone as ICE, ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 as needed.

For additional information Wikipedia notes this idea was started by a British paramedic named Bob Brotchie in May 2005. I also found that someone is trying to make money by offering ICE Stickers to slap on your phone. If you want to hear the pros and cons of this idea here is the link to Snopes.

Friday, February 29, 2008

OpenID needs strong authentication

Here is a nice tutorial from Kim Cameron that demonstrates using OpenID for signon. This tutorial also illustrates the risks if you don't use strong authentication. Also one way to implement strong authentication with OpenID is via the Paypal Security Key which I have mentioned previously.

If your looking for more information on security tokens Information Week has a good article talking about OATH which is a industry wide group working on open authentication. Or you can go straight to the OATH site to get there latest information.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Heavy Machinery from Crooked Brains

If your needing a good laugh today go over to Crooked Brains and checkout the Heavy Machinery photo sequences. I wonder which sequence was the most costly in terms of monetary damage, my guess is the airplane. As far as job damage I wonder how many of these people managed to keep there jobs.

Monday, February 25, 2008

DTV is coming don't panic

What is DTV, it's Digital Television signals vs. our current system which is ATV or Analog Television signals. In case you haven't heard next year on Feb. 17 Analog TV signals in the US will cease to be broadcast. Not a big deal to the many who have cable or dish/satellite TV service, homes with cable or satellite service will not need to do anything. But if you still have an antenna on the roof or in your attic you will need to buy a converter box not a new TV. I repeat you do not need to buy a new TV to pickup DTV signals, ignore your friends or others telling you other wise. Further if you bought a TV in Mar. 2007 or later it is should be DTV capable. If you need a converter box, the converter box is being subsidized by the US Dept. of Commerce. So if you follow the directions at, the Government will send you up to 2 $40 coupons which should bring the final price to around $20 per converter box. Beware you have to use the coupons within 90 days from when they where issued. One other point to note is DTV is not the same as HDTV, HDTV is High Definition TV and in order to view HDTV you will need to get a new HD capable TV.

If your wanting more information on DTV, CNET has done a very good job explaining DTV so check out CNET if you want additional information. I found one very interesting link via the CNET information on DTV related to Antennas which is provided by CEA and NAB. Basically this site will tell you the type of antenna needed based on your street address. What this site does is figure out the distance between your house and the TV stations in your area. It then gives you the location on a compass to point your antenna and what kind of antenna you need to pickup your areas TV stations.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Femtocells what and why

Kind of a strange name but femtocells are very small cell towers. You may also see the term picocell used in place of femtocell, femtocells are a type of picocell. If your question is what good is a small cell tower think about cell phone coverage inside your home, in my case a femtocell has to help. Basically this femtocell is suppose to give you good cell phone reception in your home and sends the calls out over your broadband connection. So depending on how good your broadband connection, that will determine if one of these Femtocells will help in your situation. There is lot of work going on in this area. Sprint has started a trial with there AIRAVE device in Sept. 2007 in Denver and Indianapolis with plans for general availability in 2008. The pricing on the Sprint device seems very good also at $49. Although I have heard that femtocells may go for around $200. So not sure if the Sprint pricing is just for the trial or will also apply for the nationwide roll out. In addition to Sprint, Vodafone has a trial starting in Spain and O2 is starting a trial this month in the UK. I'm guessing the other wireless carriers will also be doing trials in the near future. So assuming this technology performs well the decline in land lines could really accelerate especially with the recent flat rate unlimited calling plans that many of wireless carriers have just come out with here in the US.

If you are using one of these offerings how about posting a comment about your experience with your carriers offering.

In case your interested here is additional background information on femtocells from Wikipedia.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dilbert Widget

Well I've been a fan of Dilbert for a long time and well today I couldn't resist and decided to add "The OFFICIAL Dilbert Widget" that's been in the works for a few weeks.

In addition to the Dilbert cartoons Scott Adams Dilbert Blog it's worth a read in my opinion. I may even add Scott's blog posts in a sidebar widget also, still thinking about that one.

Enjoy the Dilbert cartoons I know I will.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Los Angeles can now tax VoIP calls

Los Angeles has changed there tax code so that they can now tax VoIP calls. Well not a surprise that cities will start taxing VoIP many if not most already tax your cell phone charges. What I'm curious about is how they are going to do it. If you pay for the service or some part such as Skype Out/In minutes then they will have Skype/eBay adding the tax onto your purchase. But what about VoIP via your IM client AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk all have VoIP capabilities or even Skype to Skype these are all currently free. The updates to the tax code indicate the changes are broad enough they can also tax your Internet connection fees. But if they try to go after IM VoIP traffic how would they measure the usage and what would they base the charge on since it's free. Also Facebook and other Web 2.0 services are building in VoIP capabilities, so assuming cities try to get all the tax money possible how will they track all the new VoIP applications and there usage. Last I'm wondering where things currently stand at the Federal level, in the past taxing the Internet has been prohibited, has that changed and does that override state and local level taxing authority.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Vista SP1 vs. XP SP2 performance

You probably know that Microsoft has SP1 in the works for Vista and what many people are hoping for is improved performance. My understanding from the testing that Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at ZDNet has done is SP1 has improved performance in Vista SP1 but when compared to XP SP2 well XP is still the winner. XP was the winner in 11 of 15 tests and 2 other tests where a tie with Vista SP1 only winning 2 of the 15 tests. So here are my recommendations -

  1. If you have an older PC (2.5 Ghz or slower with less than 1GB memory) running Windows XP don't even think about upgrading to Vista.
  2. If your going to Vista get SP1.
  3. If you have a newer PC or are buying a new PC get a minimum of 1GB of memory 2GB is preferable for Vista.
  4. If your big on running games on your system make sure you get current video card drivers there where significant issues with early versions on Vista.
  5. If your buying a new PC buy it before June and get Windows XP (after June Windows XP will no longer be available unless Microsoft changes there mind).
  6. Wait for Vista SP2 maybe by then Vista performance will be on par with XP.
Following are links to the ZDNet articles and benchmarks on Vista and XP performance. Also here is a detailed article from Mark Russinovich at Microsoft giving background on how Vista SP1 file copy performance was improved.

Vista SP1 vs. XP SP2 - Benchmarked by ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes -- Over the past few days I posted two sets of benchmarks comparing Windows Vista RTM with Vista SP1. These posts generated a lot of feedback, and from reading this feedback it's clear that what many people are really interested in is not the performance differences between Vista RTM and Vista SP1, but between Vista SP1 and XP SP2. How does Windows Vista SP1 compare to Windows XP SP2? Read on ...

Vista SP1 - The promised performance gains are there by ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes -- People are very anxious to know whether Windows Vista SP1 brings with it any noticeable performance gains when carrying out day to day tasks. My preliminary results seem to indicate that SP1 offers measurable benefits when carrying out a variety of tasks.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Alienware Android Phone

The mobile phone world just had there annual gathering in Barcelona Spain and here is one possible new phone as reported by Dialaphone that Alienware is working on. This phone will use the new Android OS that Google is working on. Definitely an eye catching design which sure would attract attention when you pull this phone out. Assuming this phone makes it onto the market it will be interesting to see how much mass appeal is has beyond the PC gamers.

Now thats a flashlight

If your wanting a brighter flashlight I have found just what you need it is called the Maxblaster. This flashlight built by Ralf Ottow a Dutch optics engineer puts out 38 million candlepower enough to light things up to 4 miles away according to this article at Popular Science. To put that in perspective your standard 100w bulb puts out 1600 lumens/12.57~127 candlepower, so the Maxblaster is 299,212 times brighter than a 100w bulb. The Maxblaster is also portable but heavy since it uses 54 batteries. You also want to have UV filtering glass or else you can get a sunburn as Ralf determined during his testing. Anyway one should be enough to light up your yard at night although if your neighbors are within a mile or four I'm sure they won't be too happy. Also I just noticed there was an update on a forum and a later version of the Maxblaster puts out 52 million candlepower or 409,448 times brighter than a 100W bulb. So I'm guessing this version should be able to light things up to 5 miles away assuming the relationship between candlepower and distance is linear. I wonder how long a set of batteries lasts.

Here are some additional pictures and lots of detailed information from Ralf over at the CandlePowerForums. If your thinking of building one yourself Ralf estimates the cost at $2000 US. Personally I would just like to see the Maxblaster in action.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine Day humor

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Who Owns What

Well I'm not the only one who has trouble keeping track of who owns what companies. First there was Dealipedia from Michael Robertson. Now Amy Webb has started working on an RSS feed of Who owns What to track the Web 2.0 companies. My suggestion is that Amy contribute to Dealipedia wiki.

Whose phone is it

I don't know about you but I'm hoping that the promised openness from the mobile carriers fixes one item in particular and that's Bluetooth. My Sprint PPC6700 works just fine with my Plantronics 330 Bluetooth headset but only when making phone calls. Why I can't use my Bluetooth headset to listen to music, podcasts, etc. just really irritates me. I'm assuming the reason Sprint locked this down is to prevent a user from using alternatives like Skype. To add insult to injury my corded headset is only working on one of the 2 earbuds and the replacement is $30. I've heard rumors that there are hacks to allow more general use of Bluetooth but I hesitate since I'd prefer not to brick my phone. If you have information on how easy it is to modify the Bluetooth capabilities on a PPC6700 please pass that information my way. Also if you know that the reason Bluetooth is limited is due to technical reasons and not done artificially by Sprint let me know that also.

ps - Whose phone is it

Monday, February 11, 2008

Free High Resolution Wallpapers

Here is a nice collection of over 450 High Dynamic Range (lots of color and contrast) and High Resolution photos all setup for wallpaper from HDRwalls. If you interested here is additional detail on how the photos where created using Photomatix Pro. They have them in a number of high resolution sizes up to 2560x1600 and in addition have formats for Blackberry, iPhone and iPods. The photos/wallpapers are free according to the website which is ad supported.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Fancast has Star Trek TV episodes

If your a fan of Star Trek the TV show then you might want to checkout a new currently free (I have no indication there will be a charge in future but Fancast is run by Comcast) service called Fancast. Fancast has 77 of the 80 original Star Trek TV episodes plus numerous other current and past TV shows to stream to your PC. I was not able to find any hardware requirements for Fancast but it runs fine on my over 4 yr. old PC. You will need a decent broadband connection based on my observed average download rate of 2mbps while watching. The picture quality is decent when displayed at roughly 1/4 screen size but definitely lower quality when you go to full screen size. Your viewing is also interrupted by commercials every 10-15 mins. but commercial breaks I observed are shorter than on normal broadcast TV.

Overall in my opinion programs are watchable but don't get rid of your regular TV and obviously not even close to HD. But when you consider you can watch the program you want on your schedule and not the networks this type service has some real value in my book.

Fancast is currently in beta but you do not need an invite and you don't have to register unless you want to save favorites and such.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

OpenID gets money

Some of the big players Google, IBM, Microsoft, VeriSign and Yahoo! have made financial commitments to the OpenID Foundation and in exchange get board seats. Not sure how much each of these companies put in but hopefully this will provide the impetus to move OpenID to the next level. The real proof is still going to be how well each of these corporate players allow there OpenID offerings to let each other act as providers. If I have to get an OpenID from each of them then OpenID will provide little improvement over existing authentications processes. So far Yahoo now has OpenID up in Beta for access to the main Yahoo sites and you can also access Plaxo with a Yahoo OpenID. In addition Yahoo claims they will allow other OpenID providers to provide authentication to Yahoo sites but so far no definite time frame for that level of access. What about the other new board members Google has OpenID in beta with Blogger but that is all I'm aware from Google. Microsoft and IBM as far as I know do not have beta sites up yet. VeriSign has a very nice OpenID beta which interfaces with the Paypal Security Key which I'm hoping the other top tier providers also offer. Stay tuned hopefully there will be an ongoing stream of announcements with generally available implementations following shortly there after.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Microsoft buying Yahoo deal review at SEO Blog

If your looking for a good article outlining some of the details of Microsoft buying Yahoo check out this article at SEO Blog by Jim Hedger. The article has a good metaphor of Microsoft buying an aircraft carrier so assuming Microsoft is successful acquiring Yahoo, the first question is will Microsoft be able to drive there new boat. But more important assuming they can drive the boat will this aircraft carrier add enough firepower to the Microsoft fleet to defeat the current master of the search seas Google. Considering the amount of time it will take for Microsoft to get control of the boat, Google's actions during the next year or more will be of great interest.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dealipedia - wiki of business deals

Now here is an interesting service based on the wiki concept/technology. Michael Robertson has come out with a new wiki called Dealipedia for the purpose of tracking all the various business deals that happen constantly. I know I will start using this wiki just to check on who owns which company because over the last few years it's been nearly impossible for me to keep track of who bought who. It will also be interesting to see if Bloomberg, Thompson and others who charge $1000's per month and up react to this wiki. My guess is initially they will pay little attention but with a disruptive technology such as the wiki in this case and the associated crowd sourcing the big players may want to keep an an open mind with regard to the future.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Website monitoring - Site24x7 from Zoho

If your looking for free to low cost website monitoring service checkout Zoho's Site24x7. The free version monitors 2 urls every 60 minutes, if you want more sites, shorter time intervals and additional features there are a number of options and associated pricing. One of the priced options that interests me in particular is the email monitoring which I had been unsuccessful at finding a few years ago when I really needed that type monitoring.

Friday, January 25, 2008

St. Peter's Church Dome - Vienna, Austria

Here is a very nice 1 gigapixel zoomable picture of the Dome in St. Peter's Church in Vienna, Austria by Photoart Kalmar.

If your interested in more information about this historic church here is the Wikipedia entry on St. Peter's Church or Peterskirche as it's called in Austria.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Is OpenID the Master Key

I was reading an interesting post about OpenID at and how Great Inventions for the Computer really need a metaphor in order for the average computer user to understand them.

Let's try this, OpenID is the Master Key vs. the current state of affairs which is a key ring with a key for every site.

Still working on how to fit Security Tokens like the PayPal Security Key which I posted about earlier into the metaphor.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

HTC Class Action lawsuit and Sprint PPC upgrades

I have had a Sprint PPC6700 made by HTC for over 2 years and have been very seriously considering upgrading to the latest and greatest Sprint Mogul (i.e. PPC6800) built by HTC. But as I read more about the Mogul my desire for that upgrade continues to decline. The latest issue which is getting attention is an issue with the video drivers and this has prompted HTC users to put up a website which may lead to a class action lawsuit against HTC. Since I haven't upgraded I can't comment about the video issues with the Mogul but my issue is upgrades in general from Sprint/HTC. My understanding is the PPC6700 which I have is capable of running Windows Mobile 6 but so far Sprint and HTC have declined to offer that upgrade. The reason in my opinion is Sprint wants you to upgrade to the Mogul. Here are additional reasons I haven't upgraded, Sprint/HTC was suppose to release an upgrade to support EVDO Rev. A last year but as far as I know that upgrade has not happened and the date keeps getting moved back, current rumored date is Feb. 2008. In addition the Mogul has had issues with Bluetooth. Also the GPS capabilities of the Mogul are currently not implemented but are supposedly going to be implemented as part of the upgrade for EVDO Rev. A. One thought is I should wait for the PPC6900 or whatever the next version is since I'm not going to hold my breath hoping that Sprint will provide a Windows Mobile 6.1 upgrade for the Mogul. Overall this is just more reason to wait for details on the upcoming Google phone since my PPC6700 seems to be holding up. I think I can wait a few more months to see what Google comes up with and especially if Google gets away from the 2 year lockin Sprint and the other wireless carriers love. Also I have some confidence that a Google phone will have more timely upgrades and will not always be pushing you to drop $500 for the latest hardware. Hopefully Google won't burst my bubble when they deliver there phone later this year.

If I where Sprint and HTC I would work on providing timely upgrades with fewer problems and stop teasing users with the promises of features you can't seem to deliver.

MacBook Air if only

If only Apple had added a Ethernet port, user changeable battery and 3G wireless then the MacBook Air would truly be a machine to be hyped. I have to admit the size and current features of the MacBook Air are impressive but I'm going to wait for MacBook Air version 2. Here is a suggestion Apple, provide a means for docking the MacBook Air that would satisfy the need for an Ethernet port for me. Next the MacBook Air is touted as built for wireless, well wireless is more than Wi-Fi. You really need 3G wireless for the traveler because the current state of Wi-Fi hotspots from so many different providers doesn't work for me. Why didn't Steve leverage the iPhone relationship with AT&T and at least provide AT&T's 3G network builtin. I know this can be solved via a 3G USB adapter which I believe most carriers have although I'm not sure about drivers for MacBook's. But the sealed battery is probably the biggest show stopper for me. I don't want to pay $300 every 2 years in order to have a battery that will hold a charge. In addition based on the experiences my family has had with a number of iPod batteries Apple's track record with batteries is not the best. I find it hard to believe Apple could not make the battery user changeable, I'm not asking for the addon battery in an expansion bay just a few small screws on the bottom and out drops the battery.

Let me know your thoughts on the MacBook Air, what should Apple have done different or have you already prepaid so you can get one as soon as possible.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

OpenID is coming so get a Paypal Security Key

OpenID = one logonid + one password to access any site supporting the OpenID standard.

If you have not heard of OpenID start paying attention when you do. OpenID is a open source sign-on standard that has been under development for awhile and now appears to be getting ready for prime time. According to a PCWorld article last week Yahoo is close to announcing support for OpenID. In addition according to TechCrunch UK Google, IBM and VeriSign are in final talks with the OpenID foundation. Microsoft and AOL have also previously committed to support OpenID. Also AOL is already publicly testing OpenID support with there Plaxo product. Add it all up and there should be enough of the big players to push OpenID prime time and thus make OpenID the default sign-on standard.

OpenID = one logonid + one password + PayPal Security Key = Greatly Improved Signon Security

So one id and one password for accessing all your websites what could be better. Well here is where PayPal comes into the picture. PayPal is offering a Security Key for $5 which generates one time passwords (i.e. 6 digit random number). If your in the Corporate world you may already have an equivalent to the PayPal Security Key in your SecurId token (~$40) which many corporations already use for increased signon security. Anyway if you don't understand one time passwords, they are a second password to use in addition to your primary password. These security tokens generate random numbers/passwords which are tied to your logonid and are only good for 30 seconds in the case of PayPal or 60 seconds with SecurId. So what this means is if someone at your favorite Wi-Fi Hotspot shoulder surfs your passwords or some spyware/malware should happen to capture your primary password and your one time password it doesn't matter since you need both passwords and the secondary password generated by the security token is only good for 30 seconds. Currently the only OpenID Provider I have found that supports the PayPal Security Key is VeriSign hopefully other OpenID Providers will join in supporting the low cost PayPal Security Keys. So the VeriSign support for OpenID and the PayPal Security Key is currently in beta but hopefully with OpenID going prime time VeriSign will move the service out of beta quickly and in addition keep providing the service free of charges. VeriSign also offers a couple of other nice features I have not seen with the other OpenID providers, the ability to set expiration dates by website for your access and a access log showing the sites you have accessed with your OpenID signon. VeriSign is also providing a Firefox extension called Seatbelt which provides assistance with the OpenID signon process and some phishing protection.

If your interested in learning more about OpenID here are some additional sites you might want to visit -
OpenID Foundation
Spread OpenID
Lifehacker - One OpenID to Rule Them All...or Not?

Update - earlier today Yahoo officially announced support for OpenID. According to Yahoo beta testing of OpenID will begin on Jan. 30. Also it appears Yahoo will initially only support itself as the OpenID provider, so the PayPal Security Key I previously mentioned will not work unless Yahoo adds that feature or Yahoo in the future supports 3rd party OpenID providers such as VeriSign.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Xobni Insight for Outlook Beta

Xobni is a new email overlay/addon which is currently in Beta and is initially targeting Outlook 2003/2007 but is suppose to later work with other email interfaces (Xobni please make Gmail your next target, read my previous post My Gmail IMAP experience for my reasons why Outlook to Gmail via IMAP is not the answer and also since my Outlook usage is continuing to fade). So anyway I just received my invite for Xobni today and proceeded to load it up and let it loose on Outlook. My initial reaction is I like what Xobni is doing to improve email and so far no major problems. I really like the speed of the search capabilities although I wish I could get Google results vs. Yahoo. One area that still needs improved speed is when reading through email sequentially Xobni takes at least 10 secs. sometimes considerably longer to pull up information on the next person when I move from one email to the next. Not sure why the Xobni search box is so fast but moving from one email to the next is not.

In the meantime I will do additional testing of Xobni for Outlook but I'm really hoping for a Gmail version sooner rather than later. If you need an invite to Xobni I currently have 4 available so let me know by adding a comment with your email address.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Lexar to license Eye-Fi technology

Lexar is licensing Eye-Fi technology and will be at CES this week so says Engadget. So far no details of what this means but here are some possibilities -

Lower cost Eye-Fi cards, currently Eye-Fi charges $99 for there cards. Maybe
Enhanced software from Eye-Fi due to Lexar licensing fees. Likely
Variations of the Eye-Fi card format which is currently SD such as Compact Flash, microSd. Very Likely

Monday, January 07, 2008

Gmail spam filters

In general Gmail's spam filters have done a very good job for me. But Gmail seems to have some odd quirks. One I have noticed and that still continues is Gmail marking my posts as spam from this blog which I receive a copy of via email. What's really starting to annoy me is I keep marking them as "not spam" but with each new post to this blog, you guessed it they end up in my spam folder. You would think Gmail would recognize a message generated from Blogger/Blogspot as not spam.

If you know how to access any settings or force Gmail to accept mail from an address as not spam let me know since the "not spam" button doesn't seem to work.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Scoble kicked off Facebook due to Plaxo Pulse

Well known blogger Robert Scoble/Scobleizer was kicked off Facebook yesterday. According to Scoble's blog he was using an alpha version of Plaxo Pulse. Well I don't have the latest version of Plaxo Pulse like Scoble but the beta of Plaxo Pulse 3.0 is starting to make me consider paying for the Premium version of Plaxo Pulse. But I think $49.95/yr. is high once again when you compare it to Flickr which gives you unlimited storage and bandwidth for $24.95/yr. I know apples and oranges as far as the type of service but I think Plaxo needs to think about price points and where users will buy in. In general $20-$30/yr. to me seems to be a good price point, when you get to $50/yr. I have to really want whatever it is.

Anyway back to Scoble and Facebook, if Plaxo Pulse and the harvesting of information Plaxo does gets you kicked off Facebook, then Facebook is going to be losing more than a few customers in my opinion once the new version of Plaxo is released. Also there is a movement to get Scoble reinstated on Facebook and popular opinion is it's only a matter of time before Robert Scoble is reinstated. Another interesting side note - some Facebook users actually want to be deleted/wiped from Facebook but in the past Facebook has claimed that can't be done. Well obviously that's not the case since Scoble has been completely removed according to those who had access to him on Facebook.

Last I wonder if Facebook may have shot themselves in both feet with this move. What if Facebook rushed to remove Scoble and oops forgot to think ahead about the backlash and then having to restore his id but in removing his id made no provisions/backups needed for reinstatement. bang bang - more negative PR if word gets out you don't do proper backups.

PS to Facebook - your view is Robert Scoble violated your TOS but you might want to consider the negative PR your recent actions and new features have generated in the past few months. If you just want buzz well then your doing a great job but some how I'm guessing that's not the case.

Update: Scoble's Facebook account has been restored this afternoon. Of interest is the fact that in Facebook's response to Scoble they take the path that they view this activity as a possible malicious script. No indication or reaction to the fact that Scoble was using a Plaxo tool to scrap data. Also Facebook indicates that an automated process disabled Scoble's account, so if other Facebook users want to be removed they just need to find a script to scrap all the data they can find under there Facebook account. I am glad to see that Facebook has the means to restore an account when it get's wiped by the automated script detection bot. Now it will be interesting to see how the data portability aspects of this event play out. If your interested in data portability and the associated issues go over to

My Gmail IMAP experience

Well I have been testing the Gmail IMAP feature and so far Mozilla Thunderbird is the winner from the client side. First a little background I have roughly 79,000 pieces of mail in my Gmail account which takes about 1.6GB of storage.

In addition to Thunderbird I have also been using Outlook 2007 and MailStore. Well Outlook took forever to pull down my mail and in general Outlook is now so slow I'm going to have to remove the IMAP account for Gmail from my account list. In addition Outlook times out trying to pull updates from Gmail. Well MailStore has a similar problem it also times out and took over a day to pull in all my mail from Gmail. MailStore is also very slow to pull in new updates. Now the reason Thunderbird may be working well is the fact that Thunderbird does not pull in all the mail from my various folders until you click on the folder the first time. Also to be fair as far as being slow pulling in mail all 3 programs average about 300kbps so that would seem to be a Google or IMAP protocol issue since I can consistently access other sites at a sustained rate of well over 2Mbps on my 6Mbps DSL connection.

In case your wondering why I'm testing Gmail IMAP it's because I'm hooked on Gmail but wanted to have a backup in case Google happens to mess up my account, delete my Inbox etc.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Gmail space, Google storage, Photo storage what to do

In case you have not noticed Gmail by default now gives you 6.24GB of storage and climbing. So you think wow that is great maybe I should store all my Photos under Picasa Web Albums. Well on Picasa you only get 1GB by default. You can purchase additional storage but 10GB for $20/yr. seems a bit expensive and 40GB for $75/yr. is definitely more than I want to spend. The obvious next choice is use Flickr which has a PRO option for $24.95/yr. which gives you unlimited storage. So my quandary is will Google soon see the light/competition and provide an unlimited storage option to compete with Flickr/Yahoo. Maybe I should just use Flickr since it's a much more developed web based Photo site. My concern with Flickr is the fact that if they are using Yahoo infrastructure will Flickr have the same slow downs and such that I see even with my paid Yahoo Mail Plus account.

Does anyone know if Yahoo has merged Flickr into a common infrastructure used by all Yahoo services?

Let me know your thoughts.