My first Wikipedia update = Podcatching
I noticed yesterday morning that the Wikipedia definition of "Podcatching" was simply stated as "The art of Podcasting. Podcatching is a verb". I don't believe that's an accurate definition, so I've edited it to see what happens. The new definition of Podcatching reads as follows (until someone else edits it!): "The receiving end of podcasting. Podcatching is a verb that describes the functionality of software that subscribes to RSS podcast feeds and aggregates them in a file or folder. Podcatching is the action that the aggregator takes to get podcast content.". For folks not familiar with Wikipedia, stay tuned later today for my Daily Digital Dose (DDD).
Auto-podcast proof of concept
Last night I was visualizing a way to enhance blogging by combining it with podcasting automatically. My thought is to have a podcast file created in .mp3 format upon posting to a blog. You would post your text to the blog and then have some type of script convert the text to speech and save the output as an .mp3 file; instant podcast! I'll also need some way to have the podcast included in an RSS feed as an enclosure; again an automatic function would be ideal.
To test the concept, I downloaded a trial version of 2nd Speech Center. Once installed, I copied the text of a previous post and the application immediately read it back to me. The application can also output the text to speech in .mp3, which I did. Granted, there are more advanced speech applications out there, so it sounded very mechanical. However, I still believe this could be a good way to "cross-market" blogs, both in a textual way as well as an audio delivery. More to follow as I think this through. If Blogger allowed me to host files here, I would upload each post as an .mp3 after typing it. Unfortunately, that's not an option so once I find a place to host the files, I'll drop a note.
Shame on you John Dvorak! In PC Magazine yesterday, you just trashed the whole Podcasting movement in a way that shows you really don't understand it from your very first paragraph:
"Every so often someone comes up with a new idea that depends upon another not fully developed new idea. So the two ideas get put together and also get a cool name. This is followed by a manic period where the new idea is extolled as the next big thing, and nutjobs run around like dogs released from the kennel yapping about how great it is. In this fashion, we have been introduced to podcasting—the next big thing. Too bad it's a kludge that doesn't work as advertised unless you have a Macintosh and an iPod."
I could go on and on and point out all of the incorrect statements, but then that would take too much of my valued blog space; frankly, your ill-informed opinion isn't worth the bytes I would waste.
The fact is: Podcasting is a simple mechanism to record, deliver, receive and hear an audioblog. There are a number of informative feeds and even some that are mainstream broadcasts jumping on board before the train passes by. Looks like you stayed on the train one stop too long.
For the truly bored who are looking for a "what not to write" example, click the post title for Dvorak's full text. Then send him a note.
DDD (10/26) - Live NASCAR race radio and car telemetry
Today's Daily Digital Dose is timely; if you're a NASCAR fan like me, that is. Each year, I susbscribe to Trackpass through Nascar.com. Trackpass extends my viewing a NASCAR race beyond just my television set by enhancing the experience. With Trackpass, I use the Internet to get live in car audio from the race radio of my favorite driver (Rusty Wallace, in case you were curious). You can set Trackpass to scan for just your driver's race radio or it can hop through each driver as they call in to their crew chief and pit crew.
Trackpass also shows live in-car telemetry so you view the actual level of gas pedal and brake pedal of your favorite driver. You can view where your driver is on the track, which is a nice use of GPS and even get second by second updates on how far behind the leader he or she is. Trackpass is free during a 14 day trial and now that the NASCAR season is about to wrap up, I recommend you give it a try. If you're a NASCAR fan, you will absolutely love Trackpass!
Doppler Gold 1.0 released
I last looked at Doppler's release candidate 1 for podcatching and was already impressed. The beta testing for Doppler is complete and Doppler Gold v.1 was released into a production version earlier this week. Aside from bug fixes, this software has a number of great features if you're looking for a podcatching application. Key features include playlists for iTunes & Windows Media Player, video feed support, blogline subscriptions, history of downloads, and OPML support to import and export your RSS subscriptions. The Doppler team put a ton of time and effort into the final release and it shows. If you're at all into listening to Podcasts, this software is definitely worth a look. If you're not into listening to Podcasts, WHY NOT? ;>)
Wallop: Microsoft's "uber-blog"?
About a year ago, Microsoft began in-house beta testing "Wallop" with about 100 employees. This weekend, I was lucky enough to get an invite to Wallop from James Kendrick of JKOnTheRun. (Thanks James!) Wallop is both an experiment in social computing as well as blogging from what I can tell so far. In Wallop, you create a social network of people; each person is a node in your web of information. You can read their blogs, share pictures & music, send messages and more all in one combined interface. No word on if this will actually become a Microsoft product, but for the meantime, I'm doing my civic duty and will take part in the experiment. In the meantime, take a look at eWeek from for some screenshots.
Google's Desktop Search; use with caution
Google recently released a Desktop Search application that allows you to easily find files on your PC. It's a great concept, one that Microsoft and Apple are both working on for their upcoming operating system releases over the next two or three years. I love the fact that I can easily find text, documents, e-mails and more on my PC very easily with the Google Desktop Search, but I would never use it on a shared PC. In it's current state, the Desktop Search will potentially show information from any other user of that same computer. While the application is intended to be used on a single user machine, a majority of households have shared computers. I'm not suggesting that you boycott the new tool; it's excellent at what it does and I do recommend using it. However, you need to understand and accept the privacy concerns and issues if you intend to install and use it.
Google stock prediction
In the "you heard it here first" category, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Google's stock will drop 15% to 20% by the end of the year from it's current price of $172.43. My take is that we'll see Google drop back down around $140 to $150 per share before 12/31/04.
1. Restrictions on insiders and Google employees from selling expire in mid-November. If you were them, would you take your money and run? I would, and I'm betting they will too since tax rates on capital gains are historically low.
2. Google's share price is a whopping 207 times it's trailing 12 months earnings and a hefty 51 times expected earnings over the next year. In other words: relatively expensive.
No, I'm not a professional investor and no, I'm not responsible for your losses if you consider my thoughts and lose money as a result. I just see an interesting aspect to the Google-mania this year and thought to put it in writing. I'll check back on this prediction before the end of the year; I hope you do too.
DDD (10/22) = Use the internet for free phone calls
Skype is a Voice over IP (VOIP) service that uses a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) infrastructure. In the past 14 months, Skype has registered over 28 million downloads of their software, which allows you to make low-cost, over even FREE, phone calls using your Internet connection. Skype is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and as of September, Pocket PC. I just downloaded Skype today and will give it a try on my Toshiba e805 using my wireless network at home. Does this sound too farfetched to you? Ask the 1 million people who simulatenously used Skype on October 20th. I think they would disagree. ;>) I'll write up a brief report on my Skype test and post back here over the weekend. In the meantime, feel free to comment on any other VOIP solutions you've tried; Vonage, FireFly, Packet8, etc.....
Samsung's 5MP camera phone; convergence success?
Convergence; you're either for it or against it. I tend to be against it, mainly because I don't often see it successfully done. Why should I pay extra for more functions in a device when each of those functions is watered down from a single use device? Take camera phones for example. We have a 5MP digital camera, which is more than good enough for our use. It takes great pictures and is simple to use. Now take a cellular phone with a 1MP camera. Sure, it's convenient to have a camera in the phone, but I'm used to the photo quality of the camera, so to me this is a convergence failure. Samsung may have changed my mind today however. They announced a 5MP camera phone, which is more appealing to me. I would give up a 5MP camera if I could get a simple to use same resolution camera in my phone. To me, that's the true measure of convergence success. What do you think about convergence? Love it or hate it?
Another great use for the internet is connecting to the U.S. Atomic Clock to check the exact time. WorldTimeServer provides the exact time for all time zones for free. If you don't want to check their site, you can download their free utility called Atomic Clock Sync.
I use Atomic Clock Sync because it can manage my system time for me. Using the configuration settings, I have the program run upon Windows start up to "ping" the time servers. I also have the application configured to check my time once per day, ensuring that I always have the right time!
Click the post title for more information as well as the free download.
I've added a trackback link to the blog today. You will notice a duplicate Comments link as well; it was easier to add the trackback and comments function from Haloscan. Over time, I'll phase out the comments from Blogger.
Please don't hesitate to ping my Trackback link if you see anything of interest here that you want to share with others!
How quick is the SPOT Watch?
I just received (at 9:15am EDT) the following news flash on my watch: "More than 100 killed or wounded in attack on Iraqi National Guard." When I get an alert like this, my watch beeps as it's "important & instant news". I just hit some of the major news websites and see nothing on this story yet which means it's not worthy of top billing, or the SPOT watch is close to real time. I noticed this type of speed in news a few weeks ago when my watch told me about an earthquake. Once I got the news on my watch, I checked Yahoo! and noticed that the same exact text was published only 5 minutes prior.
We interrupt this broadcast...
Just a quick post to explain the interruption in my blogging, which is unintentional. As I try to expand my miniscule presence in the "digital world", I basically am finding myself doing many things "half-assed" as I'm spread thin; by choice of course, but that doesn't help the situation. Ideally, I would like to find a way to make a living by fully immersing myself in technology; writing reviews, news, tutorials, etc... I do currently post items on PocketPCTools.com which has lit the fire underneath me to pursue this evolving dream. However, even there I am finding it difficult to give it the time it deserves. Work and homelife have their own unique demands and certainly have to take some precedence. My new goal therefore, is to build a plan to eventually leave my full time position and make a career change. The difficulty lies in the fact that (and I never thought I would say this), I am unfortunately paid very well at my full time position.
So the challenge is laid before me: find a way to transition careers without sacrificing too much salary in the process. In the meantime, I'll continue to build the posts in this blog and continue to support the PPC community over at PocketPCTools.com. Thoughts and ideas on the transitional process are more than welcome....more to follow as details unfold!
I downloaded Release Candidate (RC) 1 of Doppler this evening. It's a small program, roughly 276kb and has all of the features a Windows user would want for pulling Podcasts. Keep in mind that as an RC, it is still in beta and may have some bugs. Doppler provides two key features I was looking for: the ability to pull Podcasts at various intervals and the choice of what download directory to save the Podcasts. With Doppler, all I need to do is tell it what Podcasts to pull and I can synchronize them automatically to my Toshiba e805.
Doppler supports what I would consider advanced features as well. Instead of typing the URL of an RSS feed, you can drag and drop it right into the Doppler client. You can also configure how many of the most recent Podcasts to pull from a publisher, such as only the last one or two. In addition, it supports filtering by file size. If you don't want download any Podcasts over 50MB, for example, you can tell Doppler not to do so.
Overall, I think Doppler is currently the best "podcatcher" available. It is listed as shareware and I've sent an e-mail to the developer asking what the application may cost.
Click the post title for additional information on Doppler.
Another "Podcatching" application = Doppler
I've used both of the current applications that retrieve Podcasts (Ipodder and IpodderNet), but each is lacking at least one piece of functionality that is key. Now there's a new player on the block for Windows platforms: Doppler. From the look of it, I think this will meet all of my needs but I'll have to install it later today and put it through the paces. The interface looks clean, it supports drag and drop feed information, allows you to specify your target download destination and supports OPML & scheduled retrievals. Look for a brief review of it here on my blog along with a potentially more detailed story on PocketPCTools.
Amazon recently introduced their "A9" search engine, which is really built of off Google. A9 saves your recent searches and preferences on their servers, so you have a search history from whatever internet connected computer you are on. I recently found a new feature: an Amazon discount of 1.57% on any items at all times. All I need to do is keep using A9 as a search engine:
"Kevin C. Tofel, since you've been using A9.com recently, virtually everything at Amazon.com is automatically an additional π/2% (1.57%) off for you. Collecting this discount is zero effort on your part. It will be applied automatically at checkout (it will happen whether you use the shopping cart or our 1-Click Shopping®). You don't need to do anything to get this discount except keep using A9.com as your regular search engine."
Click the post title for the A9 search engine.
Soapbox: WMP10 for some devices, but not all?
One of the most used applications on my Toshiba e805 is the mobile version of Windows Media Player 9. Today, Microsoft announced the next version of WMP, version 10. The new version contains some great features such as a better way to maintain your music library, more music formats for better compatibility with audio files, viewable album art and playlist synchronization. Sounds great, right? Not from where I'm standing. Microsoft has only released the software for new devices; specifically one handheld and one SmartPhone. There is a small blurb on their site indicating that the HP rx 3700's and Axim X30 handhelds will have an upgrade available soon.
Why create or enhance software for just a few select devices? There is a large user base for other devices and this is really a slap in the face for the "early adapter" crowd like myself. It's reasons like this that movements like open source survive in spite of Microsoft.
There are several print and on-line television listing services. Today's DDD focuses on my favorite TV service: TitanTV. TitanTV (TTV) provides a highly customizable view of what's on television up to two weeks in advance. All you do is enter your zip code and indicate who your cable or satellite provider is. You can also get the regular over the air listings, which is fantastic for me since I receive free HDTV over the air using nothing more than an HDTV receiver and regular rabbit ears from Terk! Once you've got TTV customized, it's just a quick click away for your personalized listings:
There are also advanced features such as automatic PVR recording and setting reminders for upcoming shows. I use the latter feature to add a reminder to my Outlook calendar, which then synchs up with my SPOT Watch. The end result is a calendar event on my wrist, so that I don't schedule anything during my favorite show. TitanTV is free, so click the post title for your television listings.
GPS devices for autos and general navigation are certainly "en vogue"; there are various GPS add ons for laptops & handhelds. I have a good general sense of direction, but where I have a problem is altitude and speed. You see, I'm a runner and both of these often overlooked attributes are very important to me. If I could only have a small device that told me my current speed or pace while running. It would be nice if it would save that information for later usage as well. Hmm......how about the Garmin Forerunner 201?
I picked this device up about a year ago for less than $130 and I absolutely love it! It locks on to three of the 24 GPS satellites and updates my pace every second. I only wear it on training runs because I think it gives an unfair advantage in races. It functions as a regular GPS as well; complete with general mapping. I recently used it for a business trip from PA to CT...269.1 miles. The data can be stored for up to 2 years and can be downloaded to a PC via XML files for running log usage. If you're truly brave, you can even match up the XML data with satellite maps on Terraserver.com and overlay your route! Way cool.....I'll see if I can whip up a sample. In the meantime, click this post title for more information on the Forerunner.
Yahoo! upgrades custom MyYahoo! portal
Aside from the RSS aggregators posted a few days ago, custom web portals are a great way to manage your view of Internet content. I've had a custom MyYahoo! page for roughly three years and I've continued to keep it as one of my main "Home" pages. For IE users, you're probably saying, "Wait, you can only have one home page"....watch this space over the next few days for IE alternatives that allow multiple home pages.
MyYahoo! was updated today, providing additional functionality that was previously in beta, such as: additional news, blog & RSS feeds for content, a better search interface, easier ways to add content (such as the "Add to MyYahoo!" button I posted about a few days ago), and simpler methods to arrange your page. There are plenty of new features, so rather than rattle them off here just click here for the full scoop!
Digital News: Dell X50 handheld pic & specs
Sorry for the two Dell posts back to back, but I don't make the news; I just post it! ;)
Dell is expected to announce three new Windows Media devices tomorrow. One of the three is a high end, VGA capable device with a 624MHz processor. Prices are expected to be in the $300 to $500 range for the three units. This is Dell's first foray into the VGA handheld market and these units are priced competitively against other VGA units from Toshiba, Asus and Fujitsu-Siemens. Check PocketPCTools.com for the X50 picture and more links for specifications. In the meantime, watch Dell's site for any announcements.
Not sure how long this deal is good for, but on a GB per $ basis this is untouchable. Dell DJ Digital Jukeboxes are 25% or 30% off, depending on the storage size you choose.
A 15GB DJ will set you back $149 which includes the 25% discount, while a 20GB DJ costs only $195 after the 30% off. Bottom line = tons of data and music storage at a rock bottom price. I own the 15GB version and will post a write up & review when time allows. Click this post title for the Dell deal while it lasts.
After a few days of trial and error, I've finally got it right...well, sort of. I've been trying to get an "all in one" automated solution to receiving Podcasts on your Windows Mobile device. Turns out, there isn't one just yet.
The Ipodder software has a great interface and allows you to configure the interval that your content is pulled. However, Ipodder doesn't allow you to specify the download directory where you store your Podcasts; this is key to auto synchronize to a Windows Mobile device.
IpodderNet software does allow you to specify your target download directory, but unfortunately, it does not yet pull content at intervals you specify. You have to manually press the "Retrieve Now" button.
Since both apps are open source, I expect to see one (or both) of these applications become the "total package". In the meantime, I'm using IpodderNet because I don't mind clicking a button once a day. I've written up a complete tutorial today on PocketPCTools.com. Check it out!
RETRO DDD (10/9) - Happy 21st birthday to my Commodore 64
I was cleaning out the garage today and came across my original Commodore 64. I checked the back panel and according to what I saw, this computer was built in October, 1983! Of course, I had to fire it up to see if it still worked. I grabbed the shoe box shaped C1541 floppy drive, attached the 15" Commodore monitor, added the power sources and flipped the switches: it fired right up!
I'm not sure what I'll do with the computer, but I am taking suggestions and requests. What's interesting to me is that the computer came on instantly; no boot up time, no hard drive to load the operating system, just a happily blinking cursor and the Ready command.
Just goes to show that if you think the digital world is new, it's been around for a long time...about 21 years in my house, much longer in others. Drop me a line if you've come across any vintage digital technology.
I've got my Podcasts on my Windows Mobile device
I spent quite a bit of time last night working on a "how to" article. It's a method to pull Podcasts and then synchronize them to my Toshiba e805 Windows Mobile (WM) device. With the right software and configuration, you can have your Podcast content downloaded in the background or while you are sleeping. Whenever you want new content to listen to, you just attach your WM device to the host computer and the Podcasts will be transferred automatically.
Since I've thrown the "synchronization" concept around in this post, I think I just got an idea for a new post within the next day or two... ;>)
In the meantime, if you're looking for Podcasts, look no further than Adam Curry's Podcast Directory.
Daily Digital Dose (10/7) - listen to digital music
OK, so I alluded to a "digital audio device" in my recent Ipodder note. A digital audio player is more commonly known as an mp3 player. They can be flash based or hard drive based. Flash based players essentially have no moving parts which is one advantage; there are no moving parts to wear out or break. The down side is that they typically have much less storage space and therefore you can't fit as many songs on them. My first player was flash based and contains 64MB of storage. I can fit roughly 2 hours of music on my Creative MuVo.
I've since upgraded to a hard drive based player, my Dell DJ jukebox. The Dell DJ can store 15GB
of music and data, roughly 5,000 songs which is much more than 2 hours of music on my MuVo! I can save audio files (such as Podcasts), data, and complete albums in MP3 or WMA format. I tend to use the WMA format as my ears prefer the sound of WMA's over MP3 at the same bitrate
. Literally my entire CD collection is stored on my Dell DJ and I have about 11GB to spare. My complete music collection is the palm of my hand, ready to listen to whenever and wherever I go.
Add this site to My Yahoo!
Along the lines of the RSS Newsreader post from yesterday, you can now add this site (and many others) to My Yahoo! if you use that service. Look for the My Yahoo! button in the Site Feeds, give it a click and you've got a feed to your customized My Yahoo! page.
First use of Ipodder
Woke up this morning and what did I see? Nothing really, but I did hear something: the Podcasts that Ipodder pulled for me while I was sleeping. As I indicated last night, with zero configuration Ipodder saved the audio blogs to C:\Program Files\Ipodder\Downloads. What I also noticed was that there were Playlist shortcuts for the Podcasts where I have all of my other audio media. All I needed to do then was to use Windows Media Player 10 to sync the Podcast playlists to my digital audio device...more on what that is in a later "DDD" post.
So, let's recap where we're at now: I've installed Ipodder and subscribed to a few audio feeds. Based on a setting in the software that I chose, Ipodder checks every 2 hours for new audio feeds on those channels. When I get up in the morning, I connect my digital audio device (no, I'm still not giving away which one it is!) to my laptop and use WMP 10 to sync the audio from the laptop to the portable device. I'll be looking more at WMP to see if I can "auto sync" these files rather than manually pick and choose...details to follow.
End result: I have roughly 3 hours of audio content that I've chosen to listen to whenever and wherever I want. It's a digital world and all is well!
Follow up to the Podcasting article from yesterday: Ipodder version 1.0 was released about an hour ago and can be accessed by clicking on this post title.
The current version is roughly a 5 MB download and is a very quick install. It was very easy to add feeds as shown above. Ipodder is currently pulling audio content which I will sync to my Dell DJ in the morning. From what I can see so far, Ipodder is saving the .mp3 files to C:\Program Files\Ipodder\Downloads. I'd like to see if I can configure it to save the audio files to the same storage area I save my WMA music. My hope is that I can auto-synch these files with Windows Media Player 10. More to follow...
I read today that Google, the search engine, indexes over 4 billion web pages. With that much content on the web, how do you get the information you want? Instead of searching for content, let the content come to you using a News Aggregator or RSS Reader.
A news aggregator is a piece of software that lets you "subscribe" to websites of your choosing. You can subscribe to any website that provides a syndicated feed, usually in RSS or XML format. Look on your favorite websites for an indicator that it has a feed available; there are two such indicators on this blog for example.
Once you find a site you like that you can subscribe to you need the news aggregator. There are many great aggregators available, a Google search will find dozens. For my use, I use SharpReader, which is a free application. After you've installed your aggregator, you just tell it what the site addresses are that you want content from. You can choose numerous sites and the aggregator will pull the content from those sites into one central place as you can see by the screenshot above.
For true digital mavens, a simple but full explanation into RSS as well as reviews of news aggregators and RSS readers is available at cNet.
Earlier this year, various watch manufacturers introduced a watch in conjunction with Microsoft. The watch is the first of what Microsoft expects to be many devices that are SPOT enabled. SPOT stands for Smart Personal Object Technology and while new, this technology has plenty of potential. My SPOT watch is an Abacus model made by Fossil and cost me $99 after rebates. I pay an annual fee of $59 to Microsoft for personalized content sent to my watch via FM radio.
What kind of content can you get on SPOT watch? There are various "channels"; all of which are personalized to me. On my watch, I get local weather details and forecasts, sports information on the teams of my choice, local & national news, stock information and more. All of this is on my wrist at the touch of button. As if that wasn't enough, the watch also has any appointments I have in Microsoft Outlook & I also receive Instant Messages up to 100 characters on it. The watch sets itself to the U.S. Atomic clock, even if I change time zones. My Abacus also has about 10 different watch "faces" which I can change depending on my mood.
I've found the watch a great way to stay connected to the digital world when I'm on the run. My hope is that Microsoft finds new ways to embed SPOT technology into other usable personal devices.
Today's DDD is more of an advanced brush with the digital world. However, as with any advanced level of effort, there's usually a higher level of value associated, so don't be shy about trying something beyond the basics!
Digital music is fairly common now, having originated in the mainstream with the Compact Disc back in the early 1980's. Today there are a plethora of digital audio formats; the more common being mp3, WMA, aac and ogg. Each of these is uses a different compression technique to store your audio files and each has it's own pros and cons; most of which are personal preferences.
So what is Podcasting? Podcasting is a brand new way to share information much like blogs. Think of the technique as an audio-blog. Anyone can publish their thoughts via voice recording (rather than text like you're reading now) for the public to download on demand. These audio blogs can then be listened to on just about any audio platform; laptop/desktop, handheld device, iPod or any other digital audio player. You can pull down these audio feeds with software from Ipodder.
Conceptually, think of what you can do. You can find ipodder "feeds" that can be downloaded while you're sleeping and synchronized over to a portable audio player before you leave for work so you can listen to what you want, when you want it throughout the day.
For additional information click the title of this post.
Daily Digital Dose (10/4) - Post to a blog via e-mail
Starting a blog (or weblog) is very simple. I had this one up and running in less than 30 minutes. One of the interesting aspects of posting to a blog is that some of the blog hosts support mobile posting; in this case, via e-mail. As a test, I'm creating this particular post in Microsoft Outlook and then sending it to a certain e-mail address that is linked to my blog.
You don't need to know any programming, HTML or any other scripting language to run your own blog, although it does help if you want to add any "extras". For example, I added HTML to show links of websites I visit as well as the current eBook that I'm reading. If nothing else, you can try to add HTML and learn it in the process. Some blog's are run as free services (such as Blogger.com, which I'm using) while others have a small recurring monthly fee that varies depending on the services you require.
While some of the advanced features are nice, I've decided to go the "free" route for now. Hey, even for free, I can post to this blog from anywhere in the world that has e-mail capability!
Since I moved into a new home last December, my lawn isn't what it should be. The lot was hydroseeded in May, which is not the ideal time for growing grass. NOW is the ideal time, so I've purchased enough seed and starter fertilizer to overseed. I also aerated last weekend to get more air and water down to the roots of the grass.
"So", you ask, "what exactly is digital about all of this?" Glad you asked! In order to grow grass successfully, you need cool temperatures and water. I use a free program called Weatherbug that provides me with all of the data I need for real time weather as well as weather forecasts, radar, etc.
is linked to the National Weather Service and also has several thousand of it's own weather related data collection stations for real time weather. All you do is enter your zip code and Weatherbug does the rest. For example, at this exact moment, I can see the weather at the local school, which is less than 2 miles away. The wind is currently blowing at 1MPH from the SW, the temp is 63.8 degrees. There's oodles more info, but you get the idea.
I have also signed up for a free reminder service from Scotts
, the lawn care company. Again, just provide a little information such as your e-mail address and zip code. Once you do that, Scotts will send you lawn care reminders that are specific to your area of the country.
Today I read part of a digital eBook on my Toshiba e805. It's very handy to have one (or a hundred!) books in the palm of your hand. The text is very readable and you flip the "pages" simply by pressing a button or scrolling with a jog wheel. Want to know how it's done and what you need?
I use the eReader software from Palm Digital Press. The software is available for Palm organizers, Windows Mobile handheld devices and even for you laptop or desktop. You don't need a handheld to read eBooks! I use eReader simply because I've found that they handle the DRM, or Digital Rights Management issue the best from a consumer's point of view. DRM is necessary to protect the rights of the authors and to ensure that they are paid for their work.
eReader utilizes the credit card number you used to purchase your eBook to "unlock" the DRM content. This allows you to move your books from one device to another using a single piece of information that is unique to you. Other methods from other software providers utilize various registration methods and simply are too complicated for us, the consumer.
I've gone almost 100% to eBooks over the past two years for a few reasons. One, the books are generally cheaper. Two, it's very convenient to carry a book with you any where you go in a digital format. Three, if I wanted to publish any content, I can easily create and electronically distribute my work using free add-ons to the reader software. If you haven't read an eBook, drop a few bucks for a book, install the free reader and give it a digital read!
Gadgets galore (Part 1 of many)
"It's a digital world", he says. OK, but what does that mean? To help answer that question, this post starts a sample list of devices and tools I use along with some thoughts on how I use them.
Toshiba e805 Windows Mobile device.
My "Tosh" is with me wherever I go. It's always within an arm's reach when it's not in my hand or my pocket. The Tosh is roughly 3" wide, 5" tall and about three quarters of an inch thick. This device is easy to carry around and provides so much functionality.
First it was the first PocketPC with a 4" diagonal screen capable of VGA resolution. All PocketPC's prior had QVGA screens, meaning the screen shows 320 pixels vertically and 240 pixels horizontally. The Tosh can show 640 pixels by 480 pixels. Although that sounds like twice as many pixels, it's actually 4 times as many. (I'll let you do the math!). What this means is that the clarity is outstanding, which is a key feature of a handheld type computer.
Secondly, the Tosh runs on the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system, which is a subset of Windows CE . As a result, it's fully compatible with other Windows applications we use every day. Specifically, I can run mobile versions of Word, Excel and Outlook. This gives me the capability to write a Word document at work and then carry it around for later use on my Tosh. I can edit the document on my Tosh and have it sent to desktop and laptop users to read in Word. This is a great feature for carrying around tons of important paperwork in a small form factor.
In the beginning...
...there was the web. What started out as a simple way to view and share information in the early 1990's has exploded into a very complex, but very informative system that connects the world. For the overly curious, you can view a brief history of the Web and it's building blocks at the W3C site. W3C is the World Wide Web Consortium and is the main organizational driver for the current and future state of the web.
So, why do you care? Well, perhaps you don't. What if the web didn't exist? Can you imagine life without it? No more tracking of your packages through the major carriers. No more electronic bill payments. No more downloading of digital music. You would have to wait for the 5pm news instead of reading about the news as it occurs. You wouldn't be reading this blog.
So what is this blog, you ask? It's really nothing more than a collection of my thoughts and comments, probably more things that you don't care about. I'm willing to bet that some folks do, however. Folks that I don't know yet, folks I may never meet, it doesn't matter. What matters is that the Web provides us the current, single most important opportunity to share our information and knowledge in a digital forum. This blog will attempt to contribute to that knowledge and expand it through conversation and debate with others around the world. Hopefully, that knowledge will become more powerful and usable as a result.
Welcome to my "digital world"!