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.