I recently had to purchase a domain and some hosting space for work-related reasons. I decided that while I was at it, I might as well set up a WordPress installation. I've been thinking about doing this for a while, but I needed a good reason to do it. The new blog is up at http://www.bryanbartow.com. I'll also be hosting a portfolio there, along with some other good stuff. Come check it out.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
Adobe has finally given us developers something to work with. The alpha version of Apollo was released tonight on Labs. Download and rejoice. And love the fact that they're still not giving us file access.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
I've decided to create a series of screencasts I've dubbed "Tech Essentials" illustrating some of the applications and services I consider essential to keeping my PCs and other gadgets running at their best. The first-Firefox + Adblock-can be found by clicking the badge at the bottom of the post. I've always considered dedicating a blog just to this sort of thing. If there's enough interest in "Tech Essentials" I'll consider doing it on an ongoing basis. Are there any applications you consider essential for your OS to run its best?
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Upon logging into Google Reader tonight, I immediately noticed that the team had added stylized buttons to some of the command links. Nothing major, but nice to see the Google Reader team at least giving some attention to UI. I've recorded a screen cast, which can be seen here or by clicking on the badge below. Again, nothing earth shattering; I just needed a good reason to test Vista and Camtasia Studio.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Looks like someone has finally been able to get Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook to play nice with each other, and by play nice I mean two way syncing. Spanning Sync has been doing this for iCal on the Mac, albeit in beta, for a while now. It's just a shame that somebody hasn't given us a one stop shop for multi-platform PIM syncing. Yes, I'm talking about you Plaxo.
Digg - gSyncit for Microsoft Outlook
Update: Just saw this over at macosxhints.com. It looks like a Java daemon that runs on a user's local machine that allows them to sync iCal and Google Calendar. According to the hint, it also allows the user to use GMail as an LDAP server in Address Book.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Perusing through the Skype Garage this morning, I noticed that a new beta of Skype 3.1 has been released today. Hot on the heels of Skype Find, Skype Prime is the beginning of the long overdue Skype-eBay-PayPal integrations so many have been waiting for since eBay purchased the two companies. Skype Prime allows Skype users to charge for services offered through voice and video calls on Skype.
This idea isn't new, however, as Ether has been providing essentially the same service since last year. The big difference here, of course, is the integration with PayPal. Users' service fees are collected in their PayPal accounts where they can be transfered, spent or saved. The next logical step is for eBay to provide sellers with dedicated virtual stores from which services and/or goods can be provided. This seems to be the most logical implementation of the "power of three" integration. The question is, will people use this and will the average user be as apt to buy a conversation online as they are a good or product. I hate to toot my own horn, but I predicted this some time ago. It's nice to be right sometimes.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Digg - It's kind of official: Apple iPhone & JAJAH VoIP
Looks like someone is trying to ride the coattails of the iPhone's popularity. Even though this was announced on January 9th on the company's blog, there seems to be a bit of buzz today about JAJAH announcing official support for the iPhone. They even included an artist's rendition of
what the JAJAH application icon might look like on the iPhone Home UI.
Unless they have struck some sort of secret deal with Apple and/or Cingular, or whatever their name is now, this is a weak PR stunt which just oozes of desperation. Technically, JAJAH calls can be initiated from the iPhone through Safari and JAJAH's web-based dialer. Technically, the iPhone will support any website in which you can fill in two form fields and click a submit button to initiate an action. I fail to see why JAJAH had to announce this support. I guess it's time for me to announce that Not Quite Right will officially support the iPhone from day one. Look for a press release soon.
Update: It seems as though a number of people have picked up this "story" and run with it. It seems to get even more unbelievable by the post. The latest I post I read claimed that all calls will truly be free because "...most providers don't charge for incoming calls..." Is this some kind of coordinated joke? First, which providers in this country don't charge for incoming calls? I have T-Mobile and they sure as heck do. Of course, it only really matters if Cingular gives away incoming minutes since they'll be the provider all iPhoners are using, at least initially. However, I can't find anything in any of Cingular's documentation that makes any mention of free incoming calls. Can anyone show me where I'm wrong or might be missing something?
Friday, February 23, 2007
By now we've all heard about Apple and Cisco agreeing to "share" the iPhone trademark. I'm not at all surprised that a deal was reached, even if it did take much longer than expected. What I'm wondering is this: has there ever been another case of a company (Cisco) agreeing to let another company (Apple) use its trademark to identify a product so similar to its own? I'm an unabashed Apple lover and Steve Jobs fan, but I'm shocked that he has this much clout or could pull this off. I mean, he basically got Chambers et al. to pseudo-abandon the trademark, which Cisco clearly owned. Anyone know of any similar cases where this sort of agreement has been reached?
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
The webosphere was abuzz today, with the news of WalMart releasing a video download service. According to the write up over at TechCrunch, it looks like someone forgot to test the CSS on Firefox. Simply amazing! Then again, does it really matter anyway? Didn't they learn their lesson with the music downloads? It doesn't matter if you can sell a movie for $0.02 less than your competitor (using the term very loosely here), if you can't match or beat Apple's ecosystem then you might as well throw in the towel. When are these people going to get it?
I have been happily using Google Reader as my primary feed reader since its rebirth last year. I've been impressed with the responsiveness of the app, and while it hasn't always performed like a desktop counterpart, it's been pretty good. During the last several days, however, Reader has been cutting through my feeds like a hot knife through butter. It seems much more responsive now that it ever has at any point. I have not made any modifications to my MacMini, OS X or Firefox 2.01, which I use to browse my feeds. Does anyone know if the Reader team snuck in an update and hasn't told anyone?
Monday, February 05, 2007
So, the big game was mildly entertaining. Most Super Bowls don't live up to the massive hype machine that grows over the two week wait between the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl itself-and Super Bowl XLI was no different. It was an OK game, but it was nothing great. Usually, however, one can count on the commercials being as or more entertaining than the game. In fact, some folks watch the game solely for the clever advertising and "flip-a-coin-maybe-good-maybe-bad" half time show. Now that the game is over and I have seen all of the commercials, I can honestly say that this year's crop of ads was among the worst I've ever seen. Sure, there was some novelty with Doritos and the NFL giving us user-generated content. I applaud them for taking a risk and being the first, and certainly not the last, companies to capitalize on the YouTube phenomenon. But even those commercials were average at best. GoDaddy.com was unusually conservative and boring with their annual ad. Maybe I've just let my expectations get way out of whack or maybe there's something to my rant. Anyone else feel like they were let down this year?
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
With the recent purchase of our first home, my wife and I decided that it was time to take the next big step in telephony and get a home phone. For the first 3+ years of our marriage, we have used only cell phones and the Skype VoIP application to audibly communicate with others not in our immediate vicinity. This sufficed, but it was not an optimal solution, especially at our church, where they would only allow one phone number per household on the official roster. This meant that one of us had to endure call after call on our cell phone from someone looking for the other. Unfortunately, I drew the short stick and have been fielding those calls for the last several years, most of them at the most inopportune and/or inconvenient times.
There were two options available to us as I saw it: regular old PSTN land line service through SBC-or-whatever-their-name-is-today or a Skype handset. (At our previous residence, we would have had a third option-Digital Phone service from Time Warner-but our new provider, SuddenLink, does not yet have a digital phone service, or at least that's what they told me when I signed up for service a few weeks ago.)
Being the technologist that I am, or at least consider myself to be, I went out and purchased the only Skype handset that I could find in stock after the Christmas rush: the Linksys CIT200, or iPhone. Sure enough, this is the same model of handset that Linksys has been shipping for some time, although not under the iPhone moniker. I won't attempt to share my thoughts about the Apple iPhone or the Cisco and Apple trademark dispute here. More on those issues later. Rather I'll offer an honest assessment of the combination of Skype and CIT200 during our time with it.
The first thing I did was buy a local phone number from Skype. The process was painless and simple. It took about 2 minutes and 6 mouse clicks before I had my very own local number. (As an aside, I should like to invite any executive of any large telco to explain to me why I can't get a number from them as easily as I can from Skype. The last time I called and ordered service from a telco, I was on the phone for almost an hour. Truly pathetic. Granted, this was several years ago, but I can't imagine their archaic processes have changed much, if at all.) The next step was to procure a handset, which I did with relative ease. Setup of the CIT200 was very simple. I plugged in the USB "dock", or whatever it is they call the device which transmits data from the PC to the handset, and let the install CD do its thing. A few short minutes later, I was up and running.
The call quality of the phone has been great. Walls and other obstacles between the PC and the handset have not caused any perceptible degradations in call quality. Battery life seems to be up to snuff. Using the Unlimited SkypeOut plan, which I also purchased, we can easily make and receive unlimited calls in the US and Canada. My wife has not yet complained about its usability, which means it must be easy to use. All of those things are to be expected of any phone. The clincher is price.
I payed roughly $50 for one year of SkypeIn and SkypeOut. That means I'm paying approximately $4 and some change each month for phone service. Any other service would have cost me on the order of between 5 and 10 times more per month. Not even Vonage, the alleged "Leader of the Itnernet Phone Revolution", can come close to offering that kind of price/value combination. Skype truly is a game changer, in my opinion. Would you ever abandon your local telco for Skype or another VoIP service? Have you already done so? Leave a comment.