I found this article on the Tidbits website today that does a good job of giving an overview of WIFI options that are out there. It is the best overview that I have seen of the options that WIFI surfers have when away from their primary connection.
Archive for December, 2009
A while back I downloaded the Microsoft Photosynth application and tried it out on some pictures that we took from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis this last summer. I was amazed at the ability of the program to accurately stitch the photos together and also to allow you a depth of view to the overall photo.
What I did not realize at the time, is that this program comes from a relatively unknown, to the general public, division of Microsoft that works on cutting edge technologies. The Microsoft Research group touts on their About Us page the following:
“Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Microsoft Research also collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to advance the field of computer science.”
So, while you hear about Apple, IBM, Google and other companies doing more research-oriented work, Microsoft also is doing the same.
Looking through the website, here are some of the more interesting projects that I found.
Songsmith – This looks interesting as it will create backing music for your song. According to the website, you just record your song by singing into your microphone and Songsmith will create the backing music for your song.
Image Composite Editor – This is touted as an advanced panoramic image stitcher. It will take multiple images and stitch them together to give a panoramic view of the environment.
World Wide Telescope – This application takes imagery from multiple sources and puts it together into a cohesive view of the stars that you can peruse. Along with the pictures of the stars, there are also narrated tours from astronomers and educators on the more popular places in the sky.
So, take a look at the site. Microsoft is doing a lot of interesting work that is outside of what is considered their core business of Operating Systems, Development Tools and user applications.
I have seen quite a few articles about the best iPhone applications of 2009, so I figured I would do a post on the applications that I can not live without. This does not necessarily mean that these are the best applications out there or that everyone will find them useful, it just means these are the applications I use all the time.
Echofon – I have tried a number of Twitter applications, but have constantly preferred the Lite version of Echofon. The only drawback that it has for me is one account, but since I only have two Twitter accounts (determan and periodicramblin), I just use the web interface for one and Echofon for the other.
Evernote – As I have written before, I love Evernote. I have all sorts of notes pertaining to all aspects of my life in here. The iPhone app lets me take pictures with camera or just take a note whenever I want and adds geographic specific location to the note.
Reqall – Instead of just being a simple interface for the web based reminder system, the iPhone application adds additional features, such as allowing me to speak my reminder/task and having it transcribed.
Facebook – Nothing much to say here.
Linkedin – Same as Facebook.
1Password (Lite Version) – I use the Lite version of this program to store my userids and passwords for work/web/personal needs. I have no need to sync to a desktop application, so the web based application is all I need.
The Weather Channel (Lite Version) – I am a weather geek, and this is probably one of the best weather applications in the store.
Google – I like the one-stop application for all Google services on the iPhone.
ESPN ScoreCenter – I am a sports nut, and this application provides me a single place to get all the scores for my favorite teams and sports.
So, those are the applications that I use every day. There are others that I find nice to have, but these are the ones that I would miss. I have my phone organized to have these all on the second screen right after the home screen for easy access.
The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia will begin in about 44 days. I remember as a kid having to watch events either on tape delay or at odd hours when they were in countries around the world, but as the Bejing Games showed, the Internet makes the games more accessible for all.
I ventured over to the Olympics site for NBC and can see already that a number of events will be online and there are links to a number of Twitter and Blogs for the athletes that are competing. No longer will the fan of the Olympics need to wait for the evening news or the next day’s newspaper. This is one of the benefits of the Internet that is overlooked a lot.
According to the site, here in Racine, Wisconsin, it is currently Hoth like. Hopefully, the Empire will not find me in my secret hideout.
Having spent a number of hours in college on a 2400 baud dial-up to the University of Wisconsin – Parkside to work on my Computer Science degree, this article on TechRadar about the history of modems intrigued me. To think that my son and daughter will not have the thrill of listening to the dial-up tones hoping that the modem on the other side does not need to be reset.
One of the biggest problems that I have had in my life is finding an easy system for remembering thoughts/ideas/tasks. I have tried paper lists, simple text documents and a myriad of other online systems, with little success. Here are the issues that I have run into with each of the three options I have tried.
Paper Lists – I end up with a lot of lists in a lot of different places and there is no automatic reminder that I have something that needs to be taken care of.
Text Documents – These end up being forgotten as I start one and then forget where it is, because again there is no automatic reminder for what is in those multiple documents.
Computerized Tools – Most of the tools that I have used are dependent on having the computer/PDA/phone with you with an elaborate if even exists syncing mechanism to keep multiple versions in sync. Others are complex and require you to categorize, prioritize, colorize, etc., which is just too much work for me.
So, where has this left me? Well, I found out about Reqall and decided to give it a try. Since trying it about a month ago, I have bought a Pro subscription and find myself using it everyday for my professional and personal engagements. The tool is easy to use, is online (so no syncing) and allows me to setup reminders on tasks that need to be completed.
I use the web version and the iPhone version to enter tasks and reminders. The online tool offers a simple interface with very little bells and whistles. Basically, it asks what you want to remember and then stores it for you. You can add a category or due date, but are not required to. The iPhone application offers an added feature of allowing the user to record a voice record that it will translate, with a pretty good success rate into your entry.
Overall, I have found Reqall to answer all my needs. It is easy to use, does not impose a number of requirements on me and reminds me to tasks that need to be completed. I heartily recommend this tool to anyone looking for a straightforward reminder/task system.
As a dad of a six year old girl and a two year old boy, Christmas time takes on a whole new level of excitement than it did before children.
A number of years ago, I was turned on to a website supported by NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) which “tracked” Santa has he left the North Pole through his trip around the world to deliver presents.
As the San Jose Mercury News points out, this tradition actually started in 1955 due to a printing mistake that caused people to call the Continental Air Defense Command (NORAD’s predecessor) instead of Sears. Over the years, the Santa Tracker has gone form a telephone call-in line to an online experience that utilizes Google Earth and on-line games to entertain all ages.
So, whether you have children or are a child yourself, head over to the NORAD Santa Tracker and Track Santa yourself this year.
Yesterday, I mentioned in my post on Evernote that having the ability to take my data with me was extremely important in regards to cloud applications. To that extent, Google has formed an organization within an organization to address this for Google products.
The Data Liberation Front is an internal group at Google that has a charter to make sure that data users have within Google applications is accessible and can be “liberated” from the application itself.
When you go to the home page for The Data Liberation Front, there are links on the home page to some of the most popular Google applications which when clicked take you to a page describing how to get your data in and out of the application. For examples, Google Docs is on there and the page listing how to get data in and out, lists the various import/export options and hints for exporting all your documents at one time instead of individually. I noticed that some applications have a bulk ability to export your data, while some still are on an item by item basis.
This is a step in the right direction for any “cloud” based organization. Providing APIs is one thing, but if your primary audience are not developers, this does not provide an easily accessible solution. The majority of users are going to want that easy click or menu option for importing/exporting data.
So, if you are like me and want to have the ability to get to your data, either for backup or just in case you want to move to another service, this page will at least answer the questions for Google applications.
I have been reading and listening to a number of discussions on the EU decision that Microsoft needs to provide users a choice of what web browser to install and set as default upon installing or upgrading Windows. What surprised me though, was the number of choices. I was figuring the usual suspects, IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and maybe Opera, but I was unaware that there was going to be another 7.
12 browsers to choose from, how many in the Read Write Web article on this do you recognize?