Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Skype for Outlook public beta

Do you live in Outloook? Are you a Skype addict? If you answered "yes" to both questions, Peter Kalmstrom has the product for you! As previously discussed here, Peter brought us the Outlook Skype application last year; this year, he was commissioned by Skype to expand the functionality and bring true Outlook and Skype integration.

"I have been commissioned by Skype to build an Outlook add-on that makes the most of both these powerful platforms. I am very happy with the results. The finished result will soon be published on the Skype website for free!"

Peter was gracious enough to provide the opportunity to help in the private beta for the past month or so. I have to say, I was impressed with the application right off the bat. Aside from a few early version issues, the app runs fine for me although I have a limited number of contacts in Outlook. I'll be adding plenty more as I migrate Contacts from my work computer to my home computer.

So what does Skype for Outlook do? This won't be a full review, but enough to peak your interest...look for a full review here or on an upcoming techADDICTION show. Upon installation, it immediately matches up any Outlook Contacts you have with your Skype Contacts. The Skype name of any matched contacts will now appear in your Outlook Contact data. You can also search for a Skype contact name if the auto match didn't find anything. The other big item is a Skype toolbar within outlook. If you are in an e-mail or a contact record, the new toolbar will tell you the current online Skype status of the person. Get an e-mail from someone and you want to Skype them with a question? Easy to do right within Outlook! :)

Skype for Outlook

The download for this plug-in is a svelte 800Kb and installation is a snap. Keep in mind this is a public BETA, so the application might not be 100% just yet.

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Monday, May 30, 2005

techADDICTION #10 is available

I think this is one of our better shows....if nothing else, it's one of the more entertaining ones, so don't miss it!

"Show #10 is chock full of insightful commentary from our intrepid co-hosts James Kendrick and Kevin Tofel and you don’t want to miss it. Interesting topics from podcasts in iTunes to practicing safe computing are the rage in this show and there is also a great question posed to JK and KT that makes them think for a change. Hope you enjoy the show and as always, we love feedback so leave your thoughts, comments, suggestions and even gripes here on the blog or on the techADDICTION Skype line."

We cover a bunch of tech ground but still keep the show to a manageable length. Let us know what you think!

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Tech of Disney (part 2)

If you've ever travelled to Walt Disney World, you know that as soon as you enter the park, there are Disney folks waiting to snap a picture of you against a beautiful backdrop of the Magic Kingdom or some other prominent landmark. Disney of course offers prints of these pics at a price on your way out of the park. Previously, I've seen them take the pics and tell you that they will be available within an hour or so. This year, they're a little quicker.

I spoke with Lance, a Disney photographer, and he shared some cool info with me about his rig. He and his peers at the front of the park take the pics using a digital camera. I noticed that his was a Nikon, although I didn't catch the exact model. His Nikon is attached to a Sony Vaio U-70 via a USB cable. For those that don't remember, the U-70 is a handheld PC that runs full blown WinXP on a 5" screen. The Vaio hangs from a belt for the photographers. On a regular basis, the photos are transferred over from the Vaio to Disney's servers where they are quickly made available on the internet for 30 days. You can view or e-mail your photos at no charge during that time and of course you can even order prints as well. How do you know where to get your prints? You'll have to wait for my next post where I speak to Rick from Disney. He had a slightly different rig, but one that was even more effective even though it had less computing power.

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Tech of Disney (part 1)

Barb & I travelled from Philly to Orlando on Friday to visit Mickey & Company at Walt Disney World. This is my 4th trip to Disney and I see more and more tech each time. This trip was no exception. I always knew how much tech it took to keep the park running optimally, not to mention all of the animitronics and other fun gadgets that entertain the masses.

The first "upgrade" I saw was immediately upon trying to enter the park. There are no longer any paper tickets to enter WDW, all tickets are plastic cards that are similar to credit cards. Each has a magnetic strip, for example. To enter the park, you must insert your card into the turnstyle. That in itself is nothing I haven't seen before, but in order get your ticket back, you need to insert your first and second fingers into the turnstyle. Apparently, there is a biometric scanner that "reads" your identity and associates it with your ticket. Once you scan your fingers, you may pass the turnstyle and your card is "spit out" for you to take.

I did ask Disney personnel what information is captured and what it's used for, but I think I scared the folks...they really didn't provide much additional info.

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Off to Florida!

We're taking the kids down to Orlando for the 3 day weekend; heading out shortly for an afternoon flight. Knowing the "geek" in me, I'll be looking for hotspots. Hopefully there will be some fun tech to post about and I'm looking forward to the Segway tour of Epcot that Barb surprised me with! More to follow!

Let's see the suitcase. TabletPC...check. Dell DJ....check. Axim X50v...check. Mobile recording equipment..check. Clothes....clothes??? Hmmm....maybe I can buy some down there. ;)

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Google steals the Earth from Microsoft

Yesterday I mentioned the Virtual Earth from Microsoft, but apparently I overlooked the "other" Earth: Google's Earth. Check out item number 3 in this PC World article on the Google Factory Tour:

"Google is readying a software package called Google Earth, which is a Google-ized version of Keyhole, an astounding 3D mapping program from a company that Google acquired. It includes some built-in searching features that let you do things like see driving directions rendered as photographic flyover animations of actual the route you'll take."

I'd say the battle for the global domination continues and this time the prize is the entire Earth! I can hardly wait to see the finished product, so I can virtually zip around the world like a supersonic jet.

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Updated EverNote public beta available

Looks like the EverNote folks are continuing to make a good product even better; I received this from Courtney Brigham earlier today on the new EverNote public beta release today:

"A few highlights include: Extensive category improvements; Backup
support; Full screen support; New keyboard shortcuts (a new total of 80); File Import / Export; New date finder; Improved Outlook email transfers; Improved graphics support; Scanner support; Other improvements and bug fixes. My favorite enhancement is the new category icons (over 50), where you can easily assign icons to identifiable individual categories, such as Web Clips, Business, Personal, Ink Notes, and more."

The public beta is free, so grab this great app while you can and be sure to send Courtney & team your feedback. I think I'll pull the latest version and the available Firefox Web Clipper extension and see how it complements some of the RSS readers I'm using to blog.

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Dumb and Dumber Jedi Padawan learners

Xeni Jardin mentions this over at BoingBoing: "Two Star Wars fans are in a critical condition in hospital after apparently trying to make light sabres by filling fluorescent light tubes with petrol (gasoline). A man, aged 20, and a girl of 17 are believed to have been filming a mock duel when they poured fuel into two glass tubes and lit it."

Apparently a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away the gas prices weren't as bad as they are today. Dumb Jedi...no wonder nobody recognized that the Emperor was the "identical twin" of Senator Palpatine. ;)

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Podcast to Troops

Recently, Barb and I got to thinking of how we can use podcasting technology in a new way. Sure there the various business models to make money with it and of course, there's the entertainment factor also. There's more, however. There's the human aspect; the use of the technology to help people. Well, we think we found a way do to just that and we're looking for you to help out and spread the word. Today is the unveiling of a public service site called "Podcast To Troops".

Podcast To Troops is nothing more than a simple audio message board for the brave men and women that put their lives on the line every day for their country. Using a podcatcher, the troops can aggregate the messages and hopefully share them through the ranks. This isn't about "should we be in a war?", because the cold hard fact is: we already are. It doesn't matter if you agree with the situation or not, it just IS. In light of that, Barb and I thought that the spoken word would mean something extra special to our the men and women in the service; regardless of where they are or what job they do. We are thankful for them all.

Please consider leaving an audio message for the troops and help us spread the word. This is a true "grass roots" effort and no money or recognition are due to us. This is just our way of saying Thank You.

A special thanks to our close friends and family that serve. Kurt & Mike: we're thinking of you guys....be safe and come home soon.

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Microsoft combats Google Maps with Virtual Earth

"Virtual Earth is a fusion of many exciting dimentions that we experience from mutiple sources today; it provides a core set of reference points such as maps, aerial imagery, photos, consumer and business directories and ratings and reviews and allow the broader community of consumers and businesses to contribute their own location-specific information to create an always expanding, dynamic and relevant."

Virtual Earth Hybrid function

I watched the video demo over at Channel9 and liked what I saw. I was espcially impressed by the Hybrid functionality that overlays textual information and labels over the satellite photos. Watch for this in July; I can't wait! Check out Chandu Thota's site for more details as he's on the development team.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

...and...we're back

Nothing digital to report from the Cub Scout camping weekend as I don't have cellular wireless access. I did read an entire eBook on my Dell Axim X50v using eReader (which is now in VGA, buy the way). At least I can share a digital pic of Tyler's first ever fish.

Click Read More to see the "fishing-master" at his finest!

First fish for Ty

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Away for the weekend

I'm off to a weekend campout with my son, Tyler, and the Cub Scouts. If (and I stress the word IF) I survive, I'll be back on Sunday to catch up on some happenings I missed in the digital world. Why oh why doesn't Verizon have EVDO where I'm at???? I'd gladly pay for the EVDO modem and pop it the sad, empty slot in my Tablet!

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Need a Tablet PC Demo?

Marc Orchant points out a great Tablet PC demo: "Now this is what I’ve been asking for. A great demo showing why the Tablet PC rocks."

1. If you are in the market for a Tab, you need to check this out.
2. If you're not in the market for a Tab, smack yourself silly, get on board with the future, and go back to step 1.

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Interview on the Philly Feed podcast

We've been on the run all week, so no Commute-Cast this morning. We could record it, but we wouldn't be able to get it uploaded as Tyler and Kevin are off to a Cub Scout camping weekend right after work.

In the meantime, we were lucky enough to get moved up a week on the Philly Feed podcast. Philly Feed is put together by the Philadelphia Daily News and they pulled Kevin in for an interview on their show. Of course, you already knew that because we talked about it in the last Commute-Cast! You did hear it, right?? ;)

Be sure to catch the Philly Feed interview here and drive safely!

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

How to put a headset on a penguin

Looks like Xandros Linux & Skype VoIP are getting married and we’re all invited to the reception! Hmm….I wonder if any of their kids would be “open sourced” or “licensed” little critters? ;)

For $99 list (U.S.) you get a nifty little package including:

Xandros Surfside Linux
Skype client for Linux
Plantronics USB headset (Audio 45 model)
Bonus voucher for 120 minutes of free SkypeOut calls (limited time offer on the voucher)
Firefox browser & Thunderbird e-mail client for Linux
OpenOffice.org suite and more!

This is an appealing package for an open source platform; the headset alone lists for $59.95 and includes a noise cancelling microphone. Let’s not forget that the SkypeOut minutes just sweeten the deal. From a marketing standpoint, I expect to see more “Skype bundles" in order to spread the word about Skype.

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Eric Mack podcasts the arrival of his Tablet

Podcasting, blogging and a Tablet PC...does it get any better? Erick Mack finally got his Tablet PC. I just Skyped him in mid-upload of the experience via podcast. Sorry Eric, I'm not known for my good timing! OK, The box is open:
"I'm getting ready for my first out-of-box experience with the M4. I've promised Mark and James the first interview once I have the M4 opened and set up. We're planning to do that this evening. Meanwhile, if you're curious, you can listen along share the initial experience."

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Google can now read minds too

As I was reviewing a few RSS readers (FeedDemon and Onfolio) today, I said to myself, "Self, if Google plans to rule the web (and we know they do), then why don't they have a customizable portal for information?". Looks like they read minds as well as indexing 8 bazillion pages on the web. Here's their answer, courtesy of Gizmodo:

Google is launching a personalized home page tonight, which you can view now by going to the URL below. It's basically a custom portal of your own Google services, like a Gmail preview and Google News highlihgts, as well as Word of the Day, Weather, and Wired News updates (they must be pretty happy about that).

Oh, and a search box. I forgot about that.

Google Personal Page[Google]

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Motion Computing LE1600

That was quick; Motion just announced the new LE1600 this week and it's already a PC Mag editors choice. Motion has clearly demonstrated a commitment to Tablet user needs and continues to lead the way. If I hadn't already dropped $2k for my Toshiba Portege M205 Tablet, I would consider the LE1600.

Motion Computing LE1600: "
The Motion Computing LE1600 is our latest Editors' Choice among tablets, thanks to improved components, a superior screen, and an airtight security suite.

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Cub Foods introduces biometric scanning

Barb spoke about food shopping on-line in a recent Commute-Cast episode. I wonder if we can get a biometric scanner for the house. After all, every home should have one, no??

Cub Foods introduces biometric scanning: "
pay by touch (biometric scanner)

Not to be outdone by Albertsons Shop ‘n’ Scan system, Cub Foods introduced yet another hi-tech shopping solution when they began testing biometric payments on Monday. The Pay By Touch system reads the shopper’s finger (its unique heat signature, not the fingerprint) and then accesses their “electronic wallet.” While this will help reduce latency in the twinkie-to-couch mean round-trip time, supermarkets are most stoked at giving those darn credit card companies (and their transaction fees) a real drubbing. Please, do not steal your rich friends’ fingers.


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Monday, May 16, 2005

Paul let me borrow a Neuros

Paul of Paul's Blog and One-Egg-Ticket, stopped over for dinner this weekend. We even got some time to get him on the next techADDICTION with James; the show is coming soon. In the meantime, Paul let me borrow his Neruos MPEG4 recorder.

As soon as I can find some time, I'll give it a whirl. It looks to be geared for playback of video on a portable device due to it's resolution, but let's see how it goes. I offered to trade him our R2D2, but he said it wasn't necessary...thanks Paul!

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

WinMobile 5.0 out but I'm not impressed....yet.

I heard the news on 5/10 just like everyone else: Windows Mobile 5.0 is announced. Maybe I just need to dig a little deeper, because I'm simply not impressed yet. In fact, my Dell Axim X50v is eligible for a paid upgrade in the 3rd quarter of the year, so between now then folks will have to convince me to upgrade. I have some not so happy thoughts on the techADDICTION blog:

"So basically, what did we get after two years from the last major version?
....sound of crickets chirping....
.........longer pause....
Ok, maybe I’m overexaggerating, but seriously, how much do we have to show for two years of development? Sure, there’s some good new features, but not a whole heck of a lot. Let’s dig a little…"

Click the post title for my full thoughts and then shoot me a note. Will you upgrade if you can, and why???

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

New podcatcher and an idea

Robert Scoble mentioned a new podcatcher today, Primetime Podcast Receiver (PPR). Looks nice although I'm a die-hard Doppler fan. I'll give it a try simply because I like how it integrates info from the major Podcast directories.

"The power of Podcast Alley, Digital Podcast, PodcastDirectory.com, IT Conversations, and the Tech Podcasts Network podcast directories have all been integrated into the Primetime Podcast Receiver in order to provide you with the most comprehensive, fast, and easy subscription mechanism possible. Simply right click on the podcast you are interested in and subscribe!"

Here's a comment I passed to Robert: how about we reverse this integration? What if the podcatcher clients actually captured the download information during use and then passed that data back to a central podcast service? Instead of disparate statistics for downloads and votes, how about we have one centralized rating service? If the podcatchers can pull RSS, let's get some "podstat" functions in there and pass that info along. Thoughts?

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Saturday, May 07, 2005

New recording rig for the Commute-Cast

The Commute-Cast podcast that I record with Barb has quickly evolved from a once a week show on a Dell DJ! This week, we recorded three shows for your commuting pleasure; not only that but we dropped a few bucks on some REAL sound equipment. Previously we recorded on the first genereation Dell DJ through it's built in microphone. This week we picked up a portable sound mixer, two lavalier condenser microphones and the proper cables. In addition, we no longer record to the DJ; instead, we pipe the digital sound directly to a Tablet PC! Here's a preliminary pic of the setup:

Only the most recent show (#18 from 5/6/05) uses the new gear and you'll have to bear with us as we work out some sound issues. In some parts of the show, we break up due to too much signal gain, however 90% of the show is infinitely better than previous recordings. We'll figure it as we go....be sure to hop over to Commute-Cast for this week's three shows!

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Google's Web Accelerator in open beta

OK, it's only open in beta for North America and Europe, but at least the rest of the globe will benefit from our experience! Google Web Accelerator is a FREE download that is designed to further speed up broadband connections. Since these are the folks that help me search the entire web in mere milleseconds, I'm game to give this a try.

Here's a quick summary (from Google) of how it speeds up your surfing:

  • Sending your page requests through Google machines dedicated to handling Google Web Accelerator traffic.
  • Storing copies of frequently looked at pages to make them quickly accessible.
  • Downloading only the updates if a web page has changed slightly since you last viewed it.
  • Prefetching certain pages onto your computer in advance.
  • Managing your Internet connection to reduce delays.
  • Compressing data before sending it to your computer.

  • Here's the really nice part; Web Accelerator provides a nifty little indicator to show how much time it has saved you:
    Time saved by Google Web Accelerator

    This beta requires Win2000 SP3 or WinXP and will support Internet Explorer 5.5 (or better) and Firefox 1.0 (or better). How much time can you save?

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    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Skype contacts in WM through...."contacts"?

    Skype for Pocket PC adds a nice little menu feature to the WM Contacts application. I actually found this out while fiddling around on the Contacts applet of SPB Diary, but it works with the standard WM Contacts also. When you tap and hold a Contact, you will see a context sensitive menu. The last menu item was added by Skype and is labelled "Call With Skype". Now, there's no data field in the WM Contacts for a Skype ID, but presumably you could use Skype Out to call your contact, right? Well, what if you want to initiate a Skype to Skype call to a WM Contact? Without the data field, you can't.....or CAN you??? Yes, you can.

    Follow the rest of the story and results over at the techADDICTION blog!

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    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    Outlook update for SPOT watches

    One of the great features of a Microsoft SPOT watch is the ability to wirelessly synch your Outlook calendar appointments with your watch. This feature requires an Outlook plug-in to send your calendar events from your local Outlook client. The feature has worked well for me in the past, but now requires an update to the Outlook plug in according to SpotStop.

    If you utilize this function, you will need to update the Outlook plug-in or the feature will not work after today. Some folks in the SpotStop forums have reported some issues with the download and the available version, so click the post title to jump there. I'll be updating my plug-in later today and will post a comment on the process.

    Note to Microsoft: more notice next time would be appreciated. We're paying for the SPOT service so you already have our contact info. Perhaps a proactive e-mail next time?

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    Monday, May 02, 2005

    Dave's iPAQ celebrates 5 years with a HUGE giveaway!

    I equate the age of a website in dog years. You know...1 year for us is 7 for a dog? Same with the web, and if you follow my logic, Dave's iPAQ has been around for 35 "web years". Ok, maybe I'm just a little strange, but you have to admit: any enthusiast website that has grown from humble beginnings over 5 years is a TREMENDOUS accomplishment! Join me in congratulating Dave Ciccone and the rest of the gang over at Dave's iPAQ for everything they have given back to the mobile community.

    While you're doing that, be sure to check out the celebratory giveaway. Dave has lined up over 100 items starting on May 3rd. You need to check Dave's iPAQ every hour for questions about the giveaway products because the first correct response wins!

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    Sunday, May 01, 2005

    techADDICTION show #8 available

    Another fun show chock full o' tech! Here's an excerpt from James's write-up:

    "Kevin and I are happy to bring you this edition of the techADDICTION Show and feel this is our best show yet. Well, to tell you the truth our contract with The Podcast Network states we HAVE to tell you that. But really, it’s true! We made a concerted effort to keep this show shorter than past shows and Kevin even switched from martinis to wine for the recording since we always stop the show when Kevin runs dry. :) It didn’t work, this show is as long as the others but it’s so chock full of conversation about cool devices, what we’re looking for in mobile tech, and some of the best Skype calls ever. Hope you enjoy and as always we need your feedback!"

    Click the post title for quick hop over to techADDICTION on The Podcast Network!

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