Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm published!

Sunday saw the first of my "Family Tech" columns in the News & Messenger newspaper.  It is now on their website.  The topic is Technology for Students.

Hump Day Tech


I'm hoping I'll be one of the 100,000 who receive a Google Wave invite today.

Lifehacker.com had an interesting tip on using Evernote, and a scanner to tame your physical filing monster.  The method is similar to what I do, but I don't bother with a fancy label maker.  Pens work fine.

Basically it's this:
  1. Create a Folder with a title of today's date
  2. Scan any new piece of paperwork into Evernote
  3. Record in the Evernote note, the date of the file folder you created in step 1.
  4. File paper in file
  5. Do steps 2 to 5 until folder is full, then create new folder

Then in the future you search for the document in Evernote, and if you need a physical copy, it directs you to the appropriate file

One thing I've done is I no longer buy file folders, but instead buy file jackets.  They cost more, but things don't slide out of the sides when you have them laying on your desk.

And my favorite file storage/sync took, Dropbox, now has an iPhone app in the Apple App Store.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Welcome to Readers of Family Tech


Welcome to visitors who found this blog through my new column in the News & Messenger, Family Tech. 

Links for today's column and future columns can be found here.

Many of the tools I talked about in this first column, I have blogged about before.  Feel free to click the logos to the right for other blog posts on those topics.

Update: The column is now on their website.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Common Evernote Questions on Twitter

If you like what I write about Evernote, check out my e-book, "Get Productive Fast with Evernote".  Just $10.


One search column I have going in TweetDeck shows anything anyone says on Twitter about Evernote.

The same questions often come up.  So I thought I'd create this post to answer some of them.  I am not with Evernote, so these are not official answers.  When I see these questions on Twitter, I'm going to reply with a link to this post. I hope no one considers it spam; I'm just trying to be helpful.

Does anyone use it?  Do you like it?  Love it!  It has become one of the programs I install any every new computer that comes into the house.  I just wrote about students using Evernote in the the local paper .and also an article advocating it for everyone.  I blog about it like crazy here.  Look at the bottom of this post for links to all I've written here about it.

What do people use Evernote for?  Here's a whole list of uses.

What should I do to get up and running fast on Evernote? I wrote a whole post about "Your First Day with Evernote"

Is there an Android app?  Yes!  They released on on 11-16-2009.  Download it now.  TechCrunch first had the news.

Is there a S60 app?  Again, not yet, but as of Nov. 30 2009, they have a Beta in their forums for the Nokia N97.  I am not able to try it.  Let me know how it works.

New Windows app.  In January of 2010, Evernote released Evernote 3.5.  It was a major upgrade from 3.1 and made the Windows version much more like the Mac version.

One exciting comment Evernote's CEO, Phil Libin makes about the new version:  "Now that we’ve made the investment in modernizing the Evernote for Windows codebase, we’ll be able to release future enhancement much more rapidly. Look for lots of exciting features in the near future."

Local Caching in Phones.  The iPhone got it just about Christmas of 2009.  I suspect the Android will have it soon.


How to do you highlight text?  Oddly, there is not a way in either the current Windows client or the upcoming 3.5 that is in beta.  The best I've found is you can change the text color.

Cool tip from one of their podcasts.  If you hit your free 40 megabyte upload limit for a month, you can go to Premium for $5 a month, and then suspend it after that month.  You go back to 40 megabytes a month.  Be careful though.  If you like any of the advanges of Premium, you won't have them when you shut down Premium.  And if you upload a file type not supported by Free while you are Premium, you won't be able to get it back while Free.  And later, you can re-engage Premium for another month if you need it.  They don't mind, they said in the podcast.

I've captured other web pages with Evernote Tips and recorded them in my links page (kept, of course, with Evernote as a public folder).

I have other Evernote posts here.  And my the homepage for this blog is here.

Picasa 3.5 with Facial Recognition Spookily Good


For years I've used Thumbsplus to organize my digital photos.  When Google first released Picasa, I downloaded it but didn't find anything in it I liked better than Thumbsplus.

Two days ago Google upgraded Picasa.  The new version has facial recognition in it.  The geek in me just had to try that out.

First it has to make a pass through all your photos on your hard drive and isolate out each face it can find in each photo.  While it is doing that, you can begin telling it who the person is.  Once you identify a face, it finds other photos with that person in it.  If it isn't confident enough in its match, it sets the photo aside and asks you if it really is who it thinks it is.

This takes a bit of time; it has been churning away now for over 24 hours and isn't even half done.  I do have thousands of photos going back over ten years though.

It is spooky how good it matches up faces.  I identified my son in a photo when he was 18, and it linked up a baby photo of him.  Oddly, it asked about photos of him taken a few months from the first photo I identified as him.  And its missed some of his, but each time I label one as him, it gets better.

As a test, I am eager to see how it does with two siblings I have photos of going back over 10 years. They are four years apart and the younger looks exactly like the other did at that age.  So far they have not fooled Picasa.

Download Picasa 3.5.  It's free.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Evernote Podcast Up

A new Evernote podcast was published this week, just in time for me to move it to my phone and listen to it yesterday on a flight home.

Also, Guy Kawasaki published "14 Practical Ways to Use Evernote".  Guy is something of a legend in high tech.  For him to be a user of your product, and enthusiastic enough to write about it, speak volumes for Evernote.

I had a chance to use the Mac Evernote client this week.  It is much nicer then the current Windows client.  I can't wait for Evernote to finish the 3.5 version and have a similar experience on Windows.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dropbox has new web features

Dropbox, my preferred file storage/file sharing/synchronization site just improved its website.

They have added File Search as well as the ability to do bulk actions against more then one file at a time.

One nice feature is the ability to select several files, then download them as a Zip file containing all the files.

Details are on their blog.

Dropbox is one of those "first-apps-to-install-on-a-new-computer" for me. I can't work as well without it. It is especially valuable coordinating the team that produces the slides for our church service each week.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Global Inbox with E-mail, Text, Voice Mail is Closer

Back in March when I really became infatuated with Google Voice, I made five predictions about where Google might be taking Google Voice.

One started coming true last night.

To review, the predictions were :
  1. Google will have a phone spam list similar to Gmail's spam list
  2. fax send and receive
  3. Google will have their own soft phone, maybe even buy Skype
  4. Someone can send an email to you by sending to [your Google voice phone number]@gmail.com
  5. The Google Voice inbox and the Gmail inbox will merge, making a Global Inbox
Last night Google announced that Text messages sent to your Google Voice number could be forwarded to your email address.

Since you have long been able to have incoming voice mails sent to e-mail, #5 is done. You are able to check for email, SMS text messages and voice mails all in one inbox.

To set this up, in Google Voice, go to Settings, Voicemail & SMS tab, and click the checkbox by SMS Forwarding to select it.

Let's take a moment to review the other four predictions; one of which is almost here.

Number 1: Spam : While you can designate a contact as Spam, and future messages go to a spam folder, I do not yet know of Google instituting a Spam list.

Number 2 : Fax Send & Receive : Not yet. That is my #1 desire. I hope they do this.

Number 3: Softphone : I was hoping they'd buy Skype. Skype did recently sell, but not to Google. Maybe the new owners will be interested in some partnership with Google. If not, there are ways Googl can still go here including intregating thei Google Talk into Google Voice.

Number 4: Email : Actually, when I wrote that I forgot that when Google Voice was Grandcentral they had that feature. It is still there. If you email [a Google Voice Number]@grandcentral.com then that person gets the email (example 555-555-1212@grandcentral.com)

Changing that over to the gmail domain would seemingly be a trivial exercise.

Update 9/10/2009 : Gmail Labs has a new tool letting you listen to Google Voice voice amils from right inside your email. In Gmail, go to Settings, Labs to Enable it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Could Skype now move to honoring standards?

Looks like E-Bay has managed to sell Skype, or at least 65% of it. Never did make much sense to me why they bought them in the first place. I guess there was thinking at one time it would give buyers and sellers a way to communicate. They never really implemented that.

I know a lot of people swear by Skype. I know people in the US with family and business contacts oversees. Skype makes it affordable for them to stay in touch. Several years ago while my family did an archaeological dig in England, it cost me $2.48 a minute via AT&T to talk to them. With Skype, today, it would be twenty-one cents a minute.

In March a study showed Skype handled 8% of international calls. That is more then AT&T. Think about that a moment. A piece of software has seriously undermined the bread and butter of what was once one of the predominant corporations on the planet.

This internet thing is sure causing some upheavals, isn't it?

One thing I could never understand was why Skype didn't take their predominance and partner with other disruptive influences in the voice market. Companies like Asterisk who have a software only PBX software, or Google and their Google Voice. Together they could have re-engineered and replaced the entire telephone space. Asterisk recently came out with a link to Skype, but I think efforts like it were without the cooperation of Skype and thus harder and more kludgy then they needed to be. That's my impression anyway.

And Google Voice links to the standards compliant Gizmo5.

That's been one of the pet peeves about Skype. Much of the rest of the VOIP market tends to work together using SIP standards, but Skype has always gone it alone.

One of today's purchasers is Marc Andreessen. As an undergraduate intern, he co-authored Mosaic, the first graphical web browser. His work begat Netscape, Firefox, Internet Explorer and more. His company Netscape was known for honoring web standards. Could this mean Skype will now move to honoring standards?

If they did, it could mean the largest VOIP platform could begin to integrate with other advances in the space.

Someday, your grandchildren may look up from their history books and ask "You really once paid a company just to let you talk to someone else?"

I love BIG cats (Tigers and Lions)

I am very happy with my very big dog (170 lb. Great Dane), but I have always wished I could have a pet Tiger.

Apparently my friend Melanie does too. In her brand new blog, she tells about a wonderful big cat a rescue center she visits in Texas.