Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How to: Find how to

The interweb is chock full of information about anything and everything you can imagine. All of this can be overwhelming to the average user. In an effort to cut through the overload, a number of sites have emerged that attempt to catalog answers to simple everyday questions. These sites generally fall into 2 overlapping categories:

  1. Question and answer - Lets you submit questions that are usually answered by other users or content experts. The answers are usually rated by the community. The questions can vary from why does a microwave oven heat food unevenly to what is the medical term for bad-breath. [Yahoo Answers | Live QnA]
  2. How to - A smaller subset of the question and answer category that provides clear, step-by-step instructions on how to achieve a specific and narrow goal. For example, how to tie a tie.
Lets discuss the latter category in detail.


A database of over 20,000 articles, professionally written providing clear and concise instructions on how to do just about anything. Articles are organized into categories such as Business & Finance, Health, Computers, and Pet Care making it easy to find the answer you are looking for. You can rate, comment, print and email articles. eHow goes the extra mile by listing all the items you will need to get the task done upfront in addition to tips such as those for avoiding common mistakes.



eHow's sister site, where you can share your expertise or specialized knowledge with the rest of the world. weHow provides a platform for you create your profile to answer questions and get your ideas out there. Articles are organized in categories similar to eHow. You can rate, comment, print and email articles. The article is laid out similar to eHow with a stuff you will need section and a tips and warning section. You can browse profiles to see general information about the user, the articles they have written as well as the comments they have made.



Another eHow sister site with emphasis on collaboration. wikiHow contains over 13,500 articles as of this writing. wikiHow aims to create new content and improve existing content through your contribution by allowing you to edit and update articles submitted by others in the community. Just like Wikipedia, they expect the quality of these articles to rise as multiple users refine the content. wikiHow publishes a set of guidelines for participating in the community. The articles contain the usual set of steps, tips, and warnings. In regular wiki style, you also get to see the changes made to an article as well as the list of articles that link to it.

wikiHow is different from weHow in that weHow allows you to completely control the content of your article whereas on wikiHow the content belongs to the community and you are one of many editors on a given article.

wikiHow is different from its sisters because it is the only one in the network that
  1. Is being slowly translated to other languages.
  2. Provides an RSS feed of How to of the day.
wikiHow | wikiHow International | wikiHow RSS

The above network of how to sites are good for the written medium. Some how tos lend themselves better to the visual medium.


ViewDo is an aggregation of instructional videos submitted by its users. You can showcase your talent with the videos you submit. The videos are organized into categories such as Arts & Crafts, Electronics, and Fitness. ViewDo encourages you download videos to your portable media player, such as your iPod, so that you can watch the video while you are doing what you are doing. They even make this ridiculously easy by offering 1 click download to your portable device or iTunes. Each video is preceded by an advertisement that helps monetize the site. Additionally, you get the usual fixings of a web 2.0 service such as code for embedding, email sharing, comments, rating, and playlists. ViewDo provides RSS feeds for its newest videos.

ViewDo | ViewDo RSS


VideoJug is "Life explained. On film." through submission of user generated videos. The videos are categorized into very general topics such as Food, Drinks, and Health with subcategories to help you navigate to the video you are looking for. For example, the Food category is further sorted by cuisine, dish type, and ingredient making it easy for me to find Indian cuisine how to videos, soup type videos, and how to videos containing fruits. VideoJug is unique in that the videos are accompanied by text instructions. Although step-by-step written instructions are not required, they are definitely a plus in videos that provide them. Videos can be rated, tagged, shared by email, embedded, commented on, as well as downloaded to your iPod, PSP, or another portable media player. There are no RSS feeds for new videos so you will have to check back on the site for the newest or the most popular videos.


If you find any other instructional sites, text, video, or otherwise, share it in the comments.

Ads by AdGenta.com

Tags: ehow, , , , ,

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hilarious (fake?) MasterCard commercial

Even though this is not in the vein of regular programming here at Tecnirvana, this video is way too funny to pass up.

Does anyone think this is real? I for one think it is fake, but I am torn because of the high production value. What do you think?

Tags: , ,

Testing Windows Live Writer Beta

I ranted about about the lack of support for posting to Blogger beta with 3rd party tools yesterday, but I might not have been up to my game. Joe Cheng, a Microsoft developer for Windows Live Writer, commented that Windows Live Writer Beta had in fact added full support for Blogger beta in their newest build (145).

Skeptically, I downloaded and installed Windows Live Writer Beta build 145 and am composing this test post from within it. Did I mention that I have my fingers crossed.


Ads by AdGenta.com

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Publishing to Blogger beta with 3rd party tools

I have been on a hunt to uncover an alternate publishing tool that would work reliably with Blogger beta. In my adventure I have discovered that most tools do not work reliably or at all with Blogger beta and thats a shame. I tested Windows Live Writer Beta, performancing for Firefox (1.3), Qumana, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, WriteToMyBlog and a host of other services with limited success.


I recently tested publishing using Qumana blog editor and although the post succeeded, it had no title (and, therefore, no permalink). This is the same problem as the one I had with Google Docs & Spreadsheets. At that time my instinct led me to believe that this was a problem with GD&S, but since Qumana blog editor displayed the same behavior, I am more inclined to believe that it is a bug in Blogger beta. Just a word of caution to anyone already using or planning to use any other editors besides the built-in one. Have you had any success with the post titles (and permalinks) when publishing from another tool?

Tags: , ,

Testing Qumana

A test post from the Qumana blog editor.

Ads by AdGenta.com

Tags: ,

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

mTextBox - eBooks for your mobile phone

Imagine if you could bring all your reading with you without carrying all the weight. That is the problem the good folks at Mapada Inc. are trying to solve with their mTextBox product. All you need is an internet-enabled mobile phone. Once you download and install the Java-based mTextBox on your phone, reading is a piece of cake. You can choose to read text already uploaded by others (usually, public domain books) or you can fill out your own text to read. Every piece of text (be it a book or a grocery list uploaded by you) is assigned an mCode. You must enter the mCode for the text you want to read in the mTextBox application on your phone.

I am very impressed with the implementation of the mobile application. I was curious as to how the entire text of The War of the Worlds would be transferred to my phone. I was anticipating a long download time of a single chapter if not the entire book when I first entered the mCode to read The War of the Worlds. To my surprise, the book loaded nearly instantly. As I scrolled down madly to see how such a large body of text loaded so quickly I realized what was going on. The application was loading small chunks of text as I scrolled. This is brilliant because each web request to fetch the next chunk of text is unnoticeable. I wish mobile browsers could do the same too.

The second great feature of this application is that when you stop reading or switch to reading something else a virtual bookmark is automatically created so that the next time you go to read it will pick up from exactly where you left off.

I would not recommend abandoning the trusty paper back because there are no batteries that could discharge nor do you have to worry about coverage (like on a plane). But for casual reading or taking some notes or your grocery list on the go with you mTextBox can't be beat.

mtextboxmtextbox Hosted on Zooomr

Mobile Download | PC Download | FAQ

Tags: , ,

Replace your Firefox bookmarks with del.icio.us Bookmarks extension

If you use Firefox and have longed to integrate your del.icio.us bookmarks with the browser, then you must get the del.icio.us Bookmarks extension. This is the official extension from Yahoo! for Firefox. I have used this extension before, but decided to drop it in favor of del.icio.us Complete because of performance. Before del.icio.us Complete I was using Foxylicious to sync my bookmarks with Firefox. Although these extensions satisfied the basic requirement of providing access to your social bookmarks, they were slow and buggy and never felt completely integrated with the Firefox browser. del.icio.us Bookmarks solves this problem beautifully with a killer feature set to boot.


Not only do you get complete integration of your bookmarks from your Bookmarks menu (all pages are automatically bookmarked at del.icio.us), you also get the ability to search through your bookmarks using tags or keywords in the title of the pages. The search feature opens in the sidebar with a two-pane view. The top pane listing any tags that matched your search and the bottom pane matching any pages. This is not even the killer feature of this extension.


The greatest feature of the extension is favorite tags. You can create a list of favorite tags and then access these from the bookmarks toolbar with a single click. By default firefox:bookmarks and firefox:toolbar are in your favorites list. You can choose to display bookmarks tagged with one of your favorite tags in the bookmarks toolbar. The ability to control your favorite tags and to display all bookmarks with one of your favorite tags allows your bookmarks toolbar to have multiple personalities (without being a disorder). For example, I have my dailies like Gmail, Bloglines, and Digg, tagged with firefox:toolbar. I have my blogging related bookmarks such as Blogger, Feedburner, Google Analytics, and Performancing metrics tagged with firefox:blogging. Now, I can readily switch between my dailies and blogging sites with a single click.



The one minor gripe I have is the order in which tags are organized in the bookmarks toolbar. They are sorted chronologically from right to left meaning that your oldest bookmarks are on the right and the most recent ones are on the left. I would prefer the ability to drag and drop the bookmarks on the toolbar to create my own arrangement. That aside, this is a fantastic extension to your Firefox browsing experience and I recommend you waste no time in downloading it.

Happy bookmarking!

Tags: , ,

FREE Zonet ZRC2011 USB 2.0 Starter Kit

Newegg is offering the Zonet ZRC2011 USB 2.0 Starter Kit for FREE after mail-in rebate.


[via Techbargains]

Tags: , ,

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Firefox tip: Find as you type in links

Another tip for the keyboard power-user inside you, if you are using Firefox that is (if not, why aren't you?). I love the find as you type feature in Firefox. No muss, no fuss search at your fingertips. But did you also know that you can limit the find as you type searches to links within the page? If you didn't, then prepare to be enlightened.

Simply hit the ' (apostrophe) key before you begin typing the name of the link you are searching for and be dazzled. Try it now - hit the ' key and then type Tecnirvana on this page.

Bonus: Press the Enter key to open the link.

Bonus 2: Press F3 to find the next link (works on regular text too).



Thursday, October 26, 2006

Firefox tip: Open URLs in a new tab without creating a new tab

Firefox 2 is out and my trustworthy Tab Mix Plus extension is no longer compatible. One of the features from Tab Mix Plus that I miss on a daily basis is its ability to open the URLs I type into the address bar in a tab by default. Ever since I have upgraded to Firefox 2, I have had to remember to create a new tab using the shortcut (Ctrl + T) or by clicking on the new tab toolbar icon when I want to browse to a new page. Every time I forgot to do this, the new page would open by overwriting my current tab. This got really annoying really quick.

I also upgraded to Internet Explorer 7 around the same time. Internet Explorer gives you some really good tips about working with tabs when you open a new (blank) tab. One of these tips educated me to using Alt+Enter from the address to open the page in a new tab. I was looking for something like this in Firefox, so, just out of curiosity, I decided to give it a try. Voila! A new tab opened without the muss and fuss of creating a new tab beforehand.

Bonus: Alt+Enter will also open results from the search bar in a new tab.

Tab Mix Plus - where art thou?



FREE Airnet Wireless Products

Newegg has Airnet AWR014G8 108 Mbps wireless router with 4-port switch, 802.11g wireless USB adapter, and 802.11g wireless PCMCIA card for FREE after mail in rebates.


[via Techbargains]

Tags: , ,

Publishing to Blogger beta using Google Docs & Spreadsheets

Google Docs & Spreadsheets is a fine tool for composing documents online. The advantages of using Google Docs & Spreadsheets is conversation for another day, but I will tell you this - how you can compose and publish your blog posts from Google Docs & Spreadsheets to Blogger beta. So the obvious question is why would you want to compose your posts in GD&S rather than using the built-in editor provided by Blogger beta?

  • Auto save - You will not lose your post if you inadvertently close the tab/browser. GD&S constantly auto saves your document at regular intervals.
  • Spell checking - The Blogger beta post editor provides no means to spell check your posts.
  • More control - GD&S provides advanced options when inserting rich elements like images, links, and tables into your posts.
  • Interface - The editing interface of GD&S is more akin to a full featured document editor.

Although GD&S does not support publishing to Blogger beta directly, I have successfully been able to configure GD&S to publish to Blogger beta. GD&S help center provides documentation on how to publish your documents on any blog, but these will generally not work for Blogger beta. To publish to Blogger beta using GD&S:
  1. Click on "Settings" in the upper right corner of your GD&S home page.
  2. In the "Documents" tab, select "edit info" in the "Blog settings" section.
  3. In the "Blog Site Settings" dialog,
    1. Choose My own server / custom
    2. API: Blogger API
    3. URL: http://beta.blogger.com/api
    4. Enter your user name and password
    5. (Optional) Enter your Blog ID/Title
      1. If you host multiple blogs on Blogger beta, I strongly recommend entering the Blog ID/Title to ensure that your posts are published to the desired blog.
    6. Select any desired options

You are done!

Full Disclosure: Tecnirvana runs on Blogger beta. This post was published using Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

Update: I have discovered that publishing from GD&S does not provide a title to your post. This means that you will not get a permalink to your post. I have edited this post in Blogger beta editor to give it a title.

Tags: , ,

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Unite against Protect DVD-Video

The Hollywood movie industry needs to wisen up. While I am for the protecting the rights of creators from unfair use, this is taking it a bit far. Protect DVD-Video is a DVD copy protection technology like Macrovision that prevents a DVD from being played on a Windows PC. The technology is used to create a non-standard Universal Disc Format (UDF) file system on the DVD such that the IFO file, used to store chapter, subtitles and track information, will appear to the PC as zero-length file.

ZDNET says,

The upshot of this is that if you have a DVD disc protected by Protect DVD-Video and you try to play the disc in a PC-based system using, say, Windows Media Player, the process will fail. Now, lets be clear here, we are taking about a genuine, legitimate DVD disc not working in a PC, not a pirated disc or a download via a torrent. Protect DVD-Video protects a DVD by basically making it un-playable in a DVD drive that's in a Windows-based PC (I've no information on whether this also locks out Linux users - I would imagine that it does).

So, if you recently bought yourself an expensive Media Center PC rig or are using your PC to watch DVDs (on, say, a flight), you are fresh out of luck. Even though the protection mechanism has been circumvented by Slysoft in their AnyDVD software, this is reflection of the hunger for profit by the suits in the movie business. As usual, a technology like this ends up hurting the paying consumer more than anyone else. I call all movie-goers to unite and boycott DVD purchases till these people get their heads out of the sand.

[via ZDNET]

Tags: , ,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

FREE Maruson SUG-B602 6 Outlet Surge Protector

SuperGoodDeal has Maruson SUG-B602 6 outlet surge protector for FREE after $13.99 mail-in-rebate. Use coupon code FREECDBAG at checkout to get a free CD wallet.


[via deals2buy]

Tags: , ,

FREE Airnet AWU108 IEEE 802.11b/g USB 108Mbps Wireless Adapter

Newegg is offering the Airnet AWU108 802.11b/g USB 108Mbps wireless adapter for free after $27 in mail-in-rebate.


[via dealcatcher]

Tags: , ,

Catalog your books, movies, music, and games online with Zestr

Zestr is a tool to catalog your collection of media online. It has all the trappings of a web 2.0 application including sharing and RSS feeds for each component of your collection, meaning, there are separate feeds for books, movies, music and games.

The Goods:

  • Simplicity and the slick user interface.
  • Ability to add "stuff" using ISBN, ASIC, or UPC bar codes.
  • Amazon back-end for search and display of items.
    • International catalog with access to 6 different regions.
  • Badges for collecting unique and rare goods.
  • Sharing and subscribing to other user's lists through RSS feeds.
The Not-so-goods:
  • No privacy control of your items.
    • If I have porn in my collection, do I really want to advertise it to the whole world?
  • Badges can be faked.
    • There is essentially no system to verify the items I own. I can add all the rare items I can think of without actually owning them to get prestigious badges.


Zestr [via eHub]

Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, October 16, 2006

Use iPod as a tool to fight AIDS

iPod - use it to listen to music, podcasts, watch photos and videos, and now to help fight AIDS. Proceeds from the sale of the special edition red iPod nano will be given to help fight AIDS. Apple is claiming to donate $10 of the iPods purchase price to the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa. The iPod (Product) Red is available with 4 GB only.

With the introduction of the red iPod nano, Apple has joined other corporations such as Motorola, American Express and Gap which are also offering special edition products such as the RAZR cell phone from Motorola in the effort to combat AIDS. AIDS is a serious issue and it is killing thousands of people in Africa because there is a lack of medicine people need to survive. When you buy a (Red) product, you are helping save a life. I implore you to consider buying a (Red) product, on your next purchase for a good cause.

[via methodshop]

Tags: , , ,

Saturday, October 14, 2006

FREE Airnet AWR014G8 IEEE 802.3/3u, IEEE 802.11b/g 108Mbps Wireless Router with 4-Port Switch

Newegg is offering the Airnet wireless router with 4-port switch for FREE after $50 in mail-in rebate.


[via Deals2Buy]

Tags: , ,

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Google Time

What does a Google search not do? In addition to movie show times, package tracking, stock quotes, flight status, and weather, you can use your friendly, neighborhood, Google search box to get the local time for a particular city or country. Although this search feature is not explicitly mentioned in their search features help page, I have verified that it works but with mixed results.

To get the local time, simply search with the phrase 'time' followed by the city or country of your choice. For example, the search phrase

time india

reveals the local time in India.


I tried searching for times in other cities around the US and internationally. The only places that did not return with their local time were cities in China. Go figure!

[via tech-recipes]

Tags: ,

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Enjoy FREE international calls for the next 3 years

I have friends and family abroad, as you might have figured, being that I am from India. When I heard of futurephone, I was both delighted and a little disappointed at the same time. Delighted because futurephone promises FREE calls to "the world's most populous countries", which according to their list are 54 in number. Disappointed because India, strangely, is not in the list (even though it is the world's second most populated country).

The service works by having you call a number in Iowa followed by your destination number. Now, if you are still in the dark ages where you are paying long distance charges for calls within the US, then you got bigger problems. But, if you have an unlimited long distance calling plan on your phone (landline or mobile), then this service is absolutely FREE to you.

So, what's the catch? There is none except for the fact you can enjoy the luxury of a smaller phone bill for the next 3 years. They say that they are doing this in the hopes of gaining your confidence in the company and its services, so that they can introduce other (paid?) services to you in the future.

I used the futurephone to call my dad in China and the call quality was fantastic. I called him on a landline, though, so I am not sure if it will work when calling to a mobile phone. I am going to keep my fingers crossed and wait for India to be included in the list.



Tags: , ,

Subscribe to podcasts in iTunes through the web using PodNova

Often times I will come across an interesting podcast that I want to subscribe to while I am away from my home machine that has iTunes and syncs my iPod. So, when I come across such a podcast and I am not on my home machine, I am faced with a challenge. iTunes does not synchronize your podcasts across machines even when you are logged in to your iTunes account on another machine. I can only pray that Apple adds this functionality to iTunes some day. So, my challenge then is how do I subscribe to a podcast in iTunes without the mess of emailing myself a link or bookmarking it to del.icio.us only to remember to subscribe to it when I get home?

Enter PodNova. PodNova is a FREE service that lets you subscribe to podcasts online. Once you create an account, you can add and delete subscriptions to podcasts as and when you choose as long as you have what they call an internet connection. So how do I get my podcast subscriptions on PodNova to iTunes to download to my iPod?


The beauty of PodNova is that you also get the PodNova desktop client to run on your local machine. Mac and Linux users beware - PodNova desktop client is supported on your platform too! The desktop client is the glue that holds your online subscriptions and iTunes together. The desktop client is based on Juice podcast receiver with one significant difference - you can synchronize your subscriptions to your desktop from the PodNova website by logging into your account through the desktop client. The desktop client provides integration with iTunes (and Winamp, although I have not tested this). The desktop client will add each podcast episode to iTunes, create a playlist for each of your podcast subscriptions, and set the Genre of each downloaded episode to Podcast (or any other value) for easy searchability within iTunes.


So there you have it, subscribe to podcasts online (or using the desktop client) on PodNova and let the desktop client do its magic to get it into iTunes so that you can home and download the latest and greatest episodes of your shows to your iPod.

Tags: , ,

Testing posts from the new Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

Monday, October 09, 2006

How to: Save money on your next international getaway

If you are travelling international and you need to fly between local destinations in the country you are visiting then this tip is for you. Often times people will use big name travel websites, such as Travelocity and Orbitz to book their entire travel to and within the destination they are visiting. But, you can save a whole lot of money by booking your travel within the destination by booking your flights directly with a local airline that serves the cities that you want to visit. For example, I want to travel to India. In India, I am interested in visiting New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Jaipur. I could use Travelocity, Orbitz, and such to book my tickets to New Delhi. Now instead of booking my travel within India (to Mumbai, Bangalore, and Jaipur) with them, I can save by booking with local airlines like Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, etc.

How do I find out about which local airlines serve the destinations I want to visit, you ask. That is where A-Z World Airports comes in. On this website, you can browse through the index of all the airports by city or by country. When you find the airport for the city you are interested in visiting, you will be able to see all the airlines that serve that airport. Now, it would be nice if it had links to websites for each airline, but you can always use your favorite search engine to dig that up. Note that not all airlines will have an online presence, and even if they do, they might not let you book tickets. If you book tickets you might also have to worry about the forms of payment they are willing to accept as well as the currency conversion rates to determine if you are, in fact, getting a good deal.

A-Z World Airports

Tags: , ,

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Search online with a concierge

ChaCha is a new search engine (in "experimental" alpha) that lets you search by connecting you to a real person called a "guide", in addition to the traditional search that everyone is used to. Your guide is a person who is an expert at finding information on the web and is knowledgeable on the subject of your search. The idea is that the guide can filter your search results and provide you more relevant results on the topic of your search with their expertise.

When you submit your search, an alert is sent to all appropriate guides who are logged into the system. Because your search is sent to a real person, you can submit your search in a natural language, like "What are the symptoms of cataract?". Once you are connected with a guide you can chat with him/her to refine your query or provide more specifics on what exactly you are looking for.

The guides are paid for their services and are rated based on their performance. You can rate a guide between 1 and 5 stars at the end of your search session. ChaCha does not disclose how much guides are paid or if their star rating is used to determine their pay.

Searching with human assistance has been tried before by Ask and by Yahoo! Answers, but the convenience of having a human help you in real-time is what sets ChaCha apart.

In all my attempts on searching with a guide, I was told that "All chacha guides are currently searching with others." and I should try it again soon. I was also presented with a set of links that were relevant to my search results. While I can understand that they are new and only have a few guides on the payroll, I do not think that with a dearth of guides the service could be useful. They really need to ramp up on the number of guides.


[via PC Magazine]


Tags: ,

Friday, October 06, 2006

vFlyer: the swiss-knife for selling online

Selling online is an art. Some people are eBay fanatics, some like Amazon Marketplace, others prefer Google Base, while still others want to be on craigslist. Regardless of your choice of the store you want to use, it is common sense that cross-posting your goods to multiple stores increases the success rate for the sell. With this in mind, I bring you vFlyer, an online tool you can use to easily post your classified at more than one store.

vFlyer allows you to create a professional-looking classified ad and post it to multiple classified sites such as Google Base, eBay, Amazon, and more. You are provided more than 30 pre-defined categories to select for your ad. You can also get an HTML version of your ad that you can put on your own site or download the PDF version to print and post across bulletin boards in the physical world. Creating your ad is FREE and easy.

It only took me a couple of minutes to create an ad for a TV. The site gave me a number of fields to fill out for the TV - the title and description as well as the manufacturer, model number, screen size, color, weight, and quantity (if you have multiple items). I could also specify my asking price and whether it was firm or a negotiable as well as the forms of payment I am willing to accept (such as cash, check, credit cards, PayPal, etc.). I filled out my contact information, selected the template for the look-and-feel, added a photo and I was done. Quick, painless, and simple. I was also provided the option to add links to other sites. I see this useful if you would like to link to manufacturer's site where your buyers can see more details about the features of your item. You could also use this to link to other online merchants where they can compare the price of a new item to the price you ask. The default expiry time is 30 days from the date of post, but you can change this to another date or remove the date completely to prevent it from automatically expiring. You can preview your ad before submitting to the stores, or you can choose to save your work as a draft.



Tags: ,

The case for Bloglines

Gina at Lifehacker has compared Google Reader to Bloglines and has made the case for Google Reader. Steve Rubel agrees whole-heartedly. I have been using the new features they rolled out and I agree with most of their assessment. I beg to disagree with Steve's claim that Bloglines has not innovated since being bought by Ask. In the last few weeks Bloglines has rolled out improvements to address issues that were starting to annoy me:

  1. The entire left pane does not refresh when you select to keep an item new.
  2. The time between automatic updates has decreased so that your feeds are updated more frequently.
  3. The left pane can be expanded or collapsed to provide more reading space.
Additionally, where Bloglines shines, in my opinion, is in its mobile interface. They improved the mobile interface recently to integrate Skweezer. Skweezer compresses and reformats the content when you click on a link on a post. In the past, I was afraid of doing this on my mobile phone because of the load time some sites that contained flashy images. Skweezer is my shield. Sure, Google Reader also has a mobile interface, but it is not nearly as featured as the Bloglines:
  1. You cannot select which feeds do and don't show up in the mobile interface. While subscribing to a feed Bloglines lets you select whether to include the feed in your mobile reader.
  2. The feed items are presented in the river of news format. While this might be ideal for the desktop, when I am on-the-go, I prefer being able to select the feed I want to read. Google Reader mobile lets you browse feeds in the river of news format or by label. Bloglines presents me with all feeds that I explicitly chose for my mobile reader in the familiar folder hierarchy visible in the left pane. From there, I can choose to read only the feeds I want at that particular moment.
Thes features combine to make Bloglines a superior feed reader for mobile device. And since mobility is key for me, I am going to stick to Bloglines until Google Reader can deliver.

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, October 05, 2006

GE puts your imagination at work

I cam across this General Electric website that lets you draw inside your browser and share your drawings with friends (via email) for FREE, of course. It is not just a simple drawing web application. You are given your choices of tools you want to you use such as pens, shapes, and text. You can also choose colors for your pens, shapes, text as well as the background color. Another nice option is the ability to save the image. When you save, you get an email with a unique link to your drawing. Clicking on the link replays the entire drawing and you can choose to continue working on it or start a new drawing. You can also share the drawing with your friends. Sharing your drawing gives your friends permission to change it and send it back to you.

I can see the utility of this as a quick and dirty whiteboard for collaborating on designs over long distances.


Tags: ,

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Call in sick - Web 2.0 style

Call-in-Sick is a website with which "you can record your sick message the night before then schedule it to be sent directly to your boss's phone early in the morning without you even getting out of bed!". Some other great features include displaying your caller-id on your bosses phone, the ability re-record your message to that perfect sick sounding voice, and, here is the kicker, confirmation that your voicemail was delivered with a text message on your cell phone. Did I mention, it is FREE? Genius!

Available in US & Canada only (sorry international friends).

Tags: ,

Websites that changed the world: Guardian Unlimited

Guardian Unlimited, a UK newspaper with a large subscriber base, has published a list of websites that changed the world. The list is numbered and there are 15 sites on the list, but if the numbers indicate their rank, then I have to strongly disagree. Number 1 on the list is eBay, followed by Wikipedia, and Napster in the number 2 and 3 spot. While I can see the case for Napster, I think it was Napster the application that revolutionized the web rather than Napster the site. The usual suspects - Google, Yahoo!, and Amazon - also grace the list and there are a few surprises (Friends Reunited), but overall it is a respectable with good background information about each site.


No Tags

AOL releases OpenRide - Browser, e-mail, AIM, Media Center, Search All-in-one

AOL has released an all-in-one application called OpenRide that lets user's browse, check e-mail, manage contacts, chat, play their media and, of course, search. While this is not for everyone, it is a great app for users of AOL services. Best of all, it is free, but only works on Windows XP. Basically, you can think of OpenRide as a rehash of their subscription software with some enhancements. One of these enhancements is something they call the Dynasizer. Dynasizer automatically resizes the application, normally tiled with other OpenRide applications, to have the most real-estate when you click on it.

Tags: ,

Support a good cause using your computer's idle time

You can volunteer your computer's spare cycles to good causes with the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) project. So, how is this different from SETI@home you ask? Not a whole lot. In fact SETI@home is a module in BOINC. You can use your computer for projects in biology/medicine (malaria control), astronomy/physics/chemistry, earth sciences (climate prediction), and mathematics and strategy games (chess). BOINC is cross-platform and works wherever Windows, Mac, and Linux does. You can download and set BOINC as your screensaver and choose the projects you want to support. You can also specify the percentage of time you wish to devote to each project.


Tags: , , ,

Monday, October 02, 2006

How To: Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

If you were curious on how it is done, here is your fix. As for me, I will try to remember most of what is instructed, but I wish to god there never comes the time when I have to put this in practice. Because I know, I will not have a web-enabled machine with access to my del.icio.us account while that clocking is ticking away.


iTunes smart playlists not so smart

Even though iTunes is my favorite player, I really bemoan their implementation of smart playlists. Don't get me wrong, I love smart playlists and have used them in creative ways.

For example, I use PodNova to subscribe to podcasts because it lets me update my subscriptions using a web interface. It creates a regular playlist for each podcast that you subscribe to in iTunes and labels each downloaded podcast by setting the Genre to Podcast. All this is well and great, but if I wanted to listen to all my new podcasts, then I had to move from playlist to playlist which was starting to become a pain. So, I created a smart playlist by matching Genre to Podcast and Play Count to less than 1. To AND conditions in a smart playlist, you simply set the playlist to match 'all' the rules.

Now, I also have news related podcasts from Wall Street Journal, Business Week, etc. that I would like to separate from my other podcasts. I want create a single smart playlist for my news podcasts by matching 'any' album that belongs to a news podcast (Wall Street Journal OR Business Week). I also want to specify that Play Count for all these albums must be less than 1. And herein lies the limitation of iTunes' smart playlists. iTunes will either let me AND all my conditions by matching 'all' rules or let me OR them by matching 'any' rule. It will not let me create a smart playlist by using a combination of AND and OR cases. When Apple lets me create complex playlists such as these I will have no problem in calling it a Genius Playlist.


Tags: , ,

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Want to edit a PDF?

An article in The Register-Guard describes all your options for editing a PDF file. While there are no free ways to achieve this, the cheapest option is the Foxit Reader Pro for $39 and it goes up from there. The only gripe I have is that article does not provide links to the software in question, so you are just going to have to search Google for it.


Tags: , , ,

White House RSS Feeds and Podcasts

White House is certainly more Web 2.0 savvy than I had imagined. They are offering RSS feeds and podcasts for everything from White House news, Presidential speeches, and Presidential radio address (also in Spanish) to vidcast of the first dog, Barney. Hail Bush!


[via Micro Persuasion]

Tags: , ,

Friday, September 29, 2006

Zune accessories now available for pre-order on Amazon

Amazon has accessories for the Zune now available for pre-order. Head on over to get a pretty picture of the various accessories available including premium earphones, travel pack, FM transmitter, dock, sync cable, wireless remote, A/V cable, and car charger.


[Via Engadget]

Tags: , , ,

Free 128MB Ridata USB Flash Drive

Office Depot is offering the Ridata 128 MB USB flash drive for $12.99 with a $13 rebate. Choose free in-store pickup to avoid shipping costs.

[Via Techbargains]

Tags: , ,

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"Zune won't be undercut on price by iPod"

At Zunester blog, a Microsoft developer posted about a week ago that

"Don't believe everything you read."
It went on to say that
"Zune won't be undercut on price by iPod".
Now that details on the Zune are out and it costs $249.99, a whole $0.99 more than the iPod, I have to agree with Zunester's assessment - "Don't believe everything you read." and that includes Zunester.

Tags: ,

Flurry is not for me

Flurry [via Tipmonkies] is a new service that lets you access your e-mail and feeds on your Java-enabled phone. You can sign-up for free and download the application to your phone through a link in an SMS sent by Flurry. You will need a data plan on your phone in order to access it. Although I see the value for such a service and have played with it for its novelty, I personally cannot see a use for it. I am a Gmail/Bloglines user and both services provide a great mobile interface to access e-mail and feeds. I can see users of multiple email accounts, email accounts with POP mail servers or feed readers that do not have a mobile interface to their feeds finding this a godsend.


Tags: , , ,

10 uses of RSS feeds that you never thought of

Of course, you can use RSS feeds to keep up with your favorite blogs or subscribe to news feeds, but did you know that you can also be notified of changes in ticket prices for flights through RSS. In no particular order, here goes my list of 10 other things you can do with feeds that you probably never thought of:

  1. Get a local guide from About.com.
  2. Get free downloads of both music and videos from iTunes.
  3. Keep on top of the latest movies with movie reviews.
  4. For a movie double punch, keep on top of upcoming movies with movie trailers.
  5. If you still cannot get enough movies, you can get notified of the latest DVD releases.
  6. Get your daily dose of comics.
  7. If you missed out on the latest viral video to hit YouTube, you can still catch it by getting their latest, featured, or most viewed videos.
  8. Be a smart shopper by getting the latest deals on everything under the sun.
  9. Get the latest flight fares to your favorite destination.
  10. Get ideas for cooking your next meal with recipes.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Stuff a Blog: online blog editor with rich content

Stuff a Blog [via eHub] is a service to "enrich and extend your plain-vanilla blog post with relevant content". If you are a blog author, then this is of interest to you because it lets you add rich content such as maps, photos, tags, news, Amazon.com product details, etc. in your blog post. You can choose to either generate only the rich content by specifying keywords relevant to your post, or you can choose to compose your post in addition to the generated rich content. Stuff a Blog will then generate HTML for your content that you can paste into the blog editor of your choice (or on your platform).

The Goods:

  1. Instant gratification, no registration or account required.
  2. Integrated blog editor to compose the entire post on one site.
  3. Improves the quality of out-bound links, hence improving your page rank.
  4. Earn using Amazon.com affiliation
The Not-so-goods:
  1. Yahoo! only integration - The rich content is generated using only Yahoo! services, such as Yahoo! Maps, Flickr (a Yahoo! property) photos, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Questions & Answers. In the future, I would expect the service to be expanded to use other services for photos, news, tags, etc.
  2. Confusing array of options - The user interface needs to improved to provide help for advanced options such as Amazon.com affiliation and site search. The array of options presented to the user is a little confusing as well with a lot of colors and scattered buttons to update the generated HTML.
  3. Post to blog - A killer feature would be to provide the option to post directly to the most popular blogging platforms, such as WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, MoveableType, etc. by creating a Stuff a Blog account that stores logins for your blogs.
Tags: , ,

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Free Ice Cream from Cold Stone Creamery

Via dealcatcher:
Cold Stone Creamery is offering free 3 oz. serving of ice cream this Thursday, 9/28, from 5pm to 8pm.

Tags: , ,

Monday, September 25, 2006

How to prevent loosing all your money if you are mugged

One of my colleagues’ husband got mugged somewhere in Europe some time ago and lost a lot of his money. To prevent this from happening to him in the future, he has come up with a strategy that is indeed quite ingenious. He carries around 2 wallets - his real one and another "fake" one containing just a few dollars and some expired credit cards to make it seem real. If he gets mugged again, he plans to give away his "fake" wallet to the perpetrators and not have to worry about how much money is in his pocket and losing all his credit cards, IDs, etc.


Tags: , ,

Google Calendar Wishlist

I am slowly migrating from using 30Boxes as my online calendar to Google Calendar for its tight integration with Gmail. I have accomplished this by feeding my 30Boxes iCal into Google Calendar and using the "copy to my calendar" feature in Google Calendar. In the process, I have found a few shortcomings of Google Calendar.

  1. "copy to my calendar" - The user interface presented for the copying the event does not have an option to specify repeating events. If you are copying repeating events, such as birthdays (which form the bulk of my copied events), then copying the event becomes a 2 step process. 1) Copy the event without any repeating options specified and 2) edit the event to set your repeating pattern.
  2. Quick Add reminders - Google Calendar does not let you specify reminders using the Quick Add feature. I would love to be able to specify
  3. "lunch with joe today 1pm reminder 15minutes"
    and have the event created to remind me 15 minutes before my lunch with joe.
  4. RSS feeds - Google Calendar should allow addition of any RSS feeds, such as my Flickr photos, into the calendar. This is useful for sites that publish the weather information as RSS feeds. I have worked around this by using the Weather Underground which publishes weather in the iCal format.
  5. WAP access - http://m.gcal.com/What? No GCal from my mobile web browser?!?!
  6. More SMS commands - I like that you can get the next event, the agenda for today, and the agenda for the next day simply by sending an SMS to GVENT, but Google Calendar does not have an SMS command for looking up the agenda for any arbitrary day.
Tags: google, googlecalendar, google calendar

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hello World!

Hello World! This is my first post.