Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Best Thing since Sliced Bread

I think it was from my father I got the saying, "That's the best thing since sliced bread."  When I think that about a product or service, it is truly a complement.

I felt that way the first time I obtained a word processor program, Sciptsit, on my  old Radio Shack Model I.  I was just two years out of college and I was giddy with joy, and wished I could go back and do college all over.  Word processing would have made it so much easier.

Other products that fall into the sliced bread category are Visicalc (and all the spreadsheets I've used since), email, the web, and of course Evernote.

Now a new service has my attention.  IFTTT.com, or If Then This Then That.

With IFTTT I can build a Task that watches my Google Reader, and when I Star an entry, it copies the item into my Evernote account.

Why would I want that?  When I remember seeing something on the web, I don't have to first search Evernote to see if it is a link I captured with the Evernote Web Clipper, then if I do not find it, search my Google Reader starred items.  They are all in one place.

I also have a Task to copy all my Favorited Tweets to Evernote for the same reason I want Google Reader items in Evernote.

Users can share the tasks they have created with other users by creating Recipes.  There are many Recipes at IFTTT you can use to get started doing this for yourself.  I am not bothering sharing mine, since all of mine are simply taken from existing recipes.

Unfortunately there is not yet a way to take the thousand items I already have Starred in Google Reader and using IFTTT move them to Evernote.  IFTTT only works on current, new events.

And I must say, their support emails are written by adults to adults, and are the best I have ever received.  Kudos to their support people.

Thanks to Mike Elgan's Google + post leading me to his Computerworld article about IFTTT!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs 1955-2011

A lot is being written about him tonight.  I want to wait until I have more perspective.

Meanwhile, a story I wrote in January 2009 about almost meeting him.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Family Tech: Small Video Cameras

Small, inexpensive video cameras bring the surveillance society right into our homes with Nanny Cams, home security and cameras for fun and adventure.  This is the topic of this week's Family Tech column.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

First Impressions of the Amazon Fire

Amazon gave the tablet world a good shaking up this week with the announcement of their $199 Fire tablet.

My cousin Dani has asked me via Facebook for my thoughts, and I wanted to share those with a wider audience.

The most impressive thing of course is the price.  The only other tablet that compares with this price is Barnes and Noble's Nook at $250.  The Fire is faster and has more memory, so the comparison breaks down fast.

Those who know component pricing suggest Amazon is selling this unit at very near cost; maybe even taking a slight loss on each unit   They can do so because they are banking on the razor blade theory of marketing.

The Fire is setup to only buy books, apps, streaming video and music from Amazon.  And the biggest advantage is their tie in to the physical products Amazon sells.  Expect UPS business to grow too.

There is a huge market out there of people who will see the value of a tablet in the  $200 neighborhood who do not see it in a $500 iPad.  I am tempted to get a Fire just for web surfing.  Almost 100% of what I do on our iPad is surf the net.  I do it so much my hand actually numbs up holding it.  I have always been able to multi-task.  I'll surf the net while watching TV.  I've been known to read while watching TV.

The Fire is a better financial value if all you want to do is surf the net, and it is lighter then the iPad since it has only a 7 inch screen.

The Fire does not ship until mid-November.  So far, I haven't seen anyone review one that they have had more then a few minutes with.  I am need to to see an independent review before committing.

Some have been concerned about the browser on the Fire channeling all the requests through Amazon servers as part of its Silk browser's Split browser capability (described on the lower half of Amazon's page about the Fire).  Amazon will be able to know every page you see, and that has raised privacy issues.

In truth, where you go on the web is hardly a secret anymore.  If this concerns you with the Fire though, you can apparently turn off the Split Browser and go direct, avoiding Amazon servers.

My biggest issue is I am a Google fanatic.  Fire uses Android as its operating system, but you can't tell that from their information.  No where do they mention Google or Android.  Android is Open Source, meaning Google is ok with anyone downloading it and putting it on their devices.

Because Amazon did not choose to use an official Android version, but the open source one, Fire users do not have access to the Android App store from Google, only the Amazon one.

And you cannot get Google Android apps from the Amazon app store, like Maps, Gmail, Voice etc.  I use a lot of those services, and would miss them.

The $250 Nook is as tied in to Barnes and Noble as the Fire is to Amazon.  One reason it has been popular is there are ways to "Root" the Nook and install a standard Android to it, with the Google Apps.  It is unknown how locked down Amazon has the Fire and whether tech savvy users will be able to do this with the Fire.

That does kind of break your social contract with Amazon since they are selling the Fire with the expectation it will drive traffic to themselves.  I would be OK with that, because I am already an Amazon customer and would likely still use them more then anyone.  If they were giving away the Fire, or loaning it as long as you continued to buy a certain level yearly from them, I'd feel differently ; it would still be their device, just used by me.  Instead they are selling it me, so I can do what I want with it.  We just have to wait to see if it technically will be able to be rooted.

Maybe after I read some reviews or actually get to play with one, it will go my Wish List.

Update 10-01-2011 : This appears to be a cousin driven blog post!  Nothing wrong with that.  My cousin Linda just asked on Facebook chat whether the Fire would support a keyboard for use with emails.  It apparently has an onscreen keyboard, but I missed where it does not have Bluetooth.  That pretty much eliminates a wireless keyboard.  Our iPad is very handy for taking notes at conferences.  I wouldn't use it for final product production, but for raw text it is fine. Too bad you can't use the Fire in the same way.

Finding Shared Circles in Google Plus

A great tip from "This Week in Google #114" (TWIG) from the TWIT network : to find shared Google Circles, just search in Google Plus for "Shared a circle with you" (use the quotes).  You can refine it by adding a word after the quote, like Photographer, or a state name, or city etc.