Internet/Computer Classics Dieing off…

Yesterday I retweeted a post by ReadWriteWeb concerning Yahoo’s announcement that they are closing down GeoCities this year.

This was particularly sad news for me because GeoCities was where my first website was hosted. Within a day of getting the internet at home for the first time (On December 26th, 1995) I signed up an account at GeoCities, which was at Area51/Labyrinth/1226 (it’s long since gone so there’s no point in me linking to it here), but that site eventually evolved into The SubspaceLink.

I had a great time on GeoCities back in the 90s, and even was a volunteer for them as part of their Community Leader program, and even had stock in the company (a measly 10 shares, but stock nonetheless).

In 1999, Yahoo purchased GeoCities for about $4.5 billion, and my 10 shares of GeoCities became 6 shares of Yahoo, their stock split twice since then (in 2000 and 2004), so now I have 24 shares of yahoo, which I still hold today.

Yahoo didn’t waste any time in terminating the Community Leader program (a decision I always thought was a bad one, as the since of community was what made GeoCities great).

Anyway, this is more rambly then most of my posts, so I’ll probably end up editing or deleting it later, but I wanted to do something fun. I just checked to make sure it’s true but my old geocities email address still works (after all these years), so drop me an email at it at [email protected] so I can enjoy it again just a little bit more before Geocities dies forever.

Keeping in Step 2 – iPhone, Mac, and Google Calendar Syncing, now Better, and cheaper.

Back in August, I posted a how-to on keeping your iPhone (or iPhone 3G) and Mac in sync with Google Calendar all the time over the air, it basically required using both Mobile Me and Spanning Sync with an Always On Mac to make sure your iPhone was kept in constant sync with both your Mac and Google Calendar.

At the time, it was the only solution available to make this possible, now however, Google has made it all so much easier, and cut out all of the cost, in fact, I’m sure Apple is not too pleased about how Google has made it possible to have two way over-the-air syncing with iPhones for free, thus making their $99/year Mobile Me Service all but unnecessary to most people.

Without further ado, here is how to keep your Mac (which no longer needs to stay online 24/7), your iPhone, and Google Calendar all in sync for Free.

Continue reading “Keeping in Step 2 – iPhone, Mac, and Google Calendar Syncing, now Better, and cheaper.”

iPhone 2.1 Software – So far so good

So I upgraded to the 2.1 software this morning on my iPhone. There aren’t any new features, but the array of fixes that Apple promises with the new update are much needed, if it turns out to work.

  • Increased Call Stability
  • Better Battery Life
  • Faster Backups
  • Faster interface

I’m reserving overall judgment, but so far it seems to be working just like Apple said it would.

  • I turned backup back on and the backup part of iTunes sync was done in about 5 seconds, as opposed to the HOUR or more that I’ve experienced before.
  • Since getting everything synced the way I want it, I’ve had it unplugged for several hours with both 3G and Wi-Fi on, as well as periodic checking of email, and my battery gauge still shows full.
  • The opening and closing of applications, particularly the contact list on the Phone app seems much snappier.

I’ll let you know later on if it really has made an impact on the few negatives that were remaining on the iPhone 3G, but in the mean time, how about some news from the other side of the fence. Microsoft has released their second Seinfeld & Bill Gates commercial, and while it’s not going to make me switch back to Windoze, I have to admit, it made me chuckle a little bit.

For the sake of completion, here’s the first video:

Amazon Kindle Reader for the iPhone

I wish I was posting this as a follow up to an announcement, but actually it’s a suggestion to Amazon on how they can make more money, sell more Kindle books, and make more people happy.

Amazon KindleFor those of you who don’t already know, the Amazon Kindle is an ebook reader that uses E-Ink technology to display content on a screen. What’s cook about e-ink is that once it has rendered the screen’s contents, it takes no power to keep the content on the screen. The result is that battery life of the kindle is measured in “page turns” instead of hours. The Kindle is also cool because it has WhisperNet, provided by Sprint, which lets you have books you purchase from Amazon’s kindle store be sent straight to the Kindle, without the need to plug the kindle into your computer. The Kindle also gets a special email address where you can email documents to this address and have them appear on your Kindle for a nominal fee for reading. All in all, it’s a fantastic product, it only has one little problem, the price. The Kindle is $349 (previously $399), available only from Amazon, which is still a bit steep for an up-front cost before you start buying books from the Kindle store to put on it.

Amazon, I know you want to sell Kindles, but your bread and butter will always be the books themselves. My suggestion is that you write an iPhone app that can read the Kindle book format and will validate like a Kindle to your own DRM. You could sell this app in Apple’s app store to make even more money, I’m thinking something along the lines of $20 to $40. This way people with an iPod Touch or iPhone (which is quite a lot of people, including yours truely) can start buying Kindle books without a Kindle, and get the enjoyment of having instant access to literature the way only the elite Kindle owners do. The iPhone already has access to the internet, so it could support all of the functionality of Whispernet without any difficulty from you the developer. The iPod Touch has WiFi, so even it can download books directly when it’s on a hotspot.

Amazon can even take this one step further. Amazon already partners with Apple’s iTunes Music Store as a place to purchase content from it’s own Audible.com, once someone has purchased your iPhone app, partner with iTunes again and have people able to shop for books right through the iTunes music store, making it even easier for iPhone owners to purchase your Kindle books.

What I think Amazon may find surprising if they did this, is that it probably would bolster sails of the Kindle devices itself, not only the Kindle books.

See I’m a bit leery of buying a Kindle, and buying Kindle books, knowing that those books are locked to the Kindle. If I could start buying those books now, and reading them on another device, I’d probably later buy a Kindle knowing it’s a better platform for reading them on.

It’s also not exactly outside of Amazon’s business model to offer their digital products to other platforms either. In March, 2007, I blogged about Amazon and TiVo teaming up to make Amazon Unbox Videos (now known as Amazon Video on Demand) available on TiVo boxes. I immediately started buying Unbox videos when I never had before. Incidentally, I’d love it if Amazon Video-on-demand Videos were playable on the iPhone as well, and I’d probably buy a lot more videos from Amazon if they did, but I think that might be a bit of wishful thinking.

So come on Amazon, release an iPhone app that can read Kindle documents and you’ll have even more of my money then you do now, and I’d bet a whole lot of other people’s money as well.

Keeping in Step, how to Sync your iPhone’s Calendar with Google Calendar

I love Google Apps for Domains, I use it for all of my domains, I’ve even setup holodeck3.com with the Partner edition so that my users can get @holodeck3.com email accounts and services through them. Google does a lot, for free, and they do it well. I’m also a Mac an an iPhone user. I am never without my iPhone, and only rarely without my laptop.

Google has, over time gotten a lot better at providing me with services I need in order to keep my world more in sync. I was glad to be in the early adoption crowd of users for IMAP on GMail, and the first person among my group of friends to get IMAP support on my Google Apps for Domains accounts. This has helped a lot as my iPhone is now what I use for email when I’m away from my laptop, and in fact I find myself not going to the computer quite as often when I’m “off duty” because of it.

I love Google Calendar and prefer to have my calendar events in Google as opposed to simply a local Calendar on my computer or phone, however when I am at my computer, using iCal is so much easier then using Google Calendar (and having to keep yet another browser window open), and then of course there’s the little matter of keeping my calendar on the iPhone so I have my events easily at hand. Google has long allowed you to subscribe to a Google Calendar using iCal’s ics format, but this was one way, only allowing you to read your Google calendar in iCal, not make changes to it. Until very recently the best way to keep iCal in sync with Google Calendar is to use Spanning Sync, a $25 program (use this link and you can get $5 off!), that keeps your calendar in iCal in sync both ways with your calendar on Google.
Continue reading “Keeping in Step, how to Sync your iPhone’s Calendar with Google Calendar”

GMail Down

GMail Down
In the latest in my ongoing series of Major websites experiencing outages, GMail has been down for at least the last hour. Google’s Mail service is excellent and over all I’ve always been pleased with it. Their servers are redundant, I don’t have problems with lost email messages, and the spam filtering is second to none. I also am a big fan of the search, filtering, and conversation features that make it the best email experience I’ve ever had, but today, it’s down, and I can’t access my email, which again slows down my productivity. But I take it as a bit of comfort, because the next time one of my sites goes down I’ll remember, even Google has server outages sometimes.

It’s important to note that while the web interface (which I primarily use) is down, the IMAP appears to be fully operational, so I’m still getting new emails buzzing on my iPhone constantly, I just much prefer to work on the web based interface with all of the search functionality that makes it easy to find just the right message when I need it. I hope the server comes back up again soon.

Also before some jerk calls me a fool and tells me that I’m screwing up with my urls, it’s not just me, None of my coworkers are able to get on GMail, neither can my wife (who is not here), nor several friends online. A Simple Date Based Google Blog Search shows that many other people are experiencing problems with 502 errors on the GMail interface today

Update: After getting everything operational again, Google Blogged about the outage, apologizing for the inconvenience.

Google I/O – Part II – The Opening Keynote

Google is following it’s trend from last year’s Google Developer Day by posting up videos of all of the sessions on YouTube, but so far I can only find the Opening Keynote. They promised that they would upload them all within a week, so expect more parts of my reviews of Google I/O as they become available. Continue reading “Google I/O – Part II – The Opening Keynote”

7-11 Gave me the Finger… and other stories…

7-11 Gave me the FingerApril is here, and that can only mean one thing… practical jokes. Tuesday was April Fools day, and as usual, the jokes and pranks were out in full force. Some of them elaborate, some of them simple, and most of them funny. One of the more elaborate ones this year was a promotion done by the Nestle corporation.

Nestle had displays made up containing rebranded Butterfinger candy bars. The announcement on the display read that effective immediately Butterfinger candy bars are to be known as “The Finger” and to search the phrase in Yahoo to find out more. What was impressive is that the display actually contained a number of “The Finger” candy bars and they were giving them away for free. A great publicity stunt for April Fools day. Searching for the finger on April Fools day on Yahoo gave a link to a video on Yahoo! Video that outed the joke. It may be stupid, but at least I got a free candy bar out of it, as well as a chuckle (just for the record, I wasn’t fooled for a moment, it was obvious to me that it was a joke, though apparently some people thought they were serious).

Continue reading “7-11 Gave me the Finger… and other stories…”

It’s not Brain Surgery

Brain Surgery
Often when someone wants to indicate that a task doesn’t take a genious, they relate the task to one of two professions, and so two common phrases you will hear on a regular basis are “Hey, it’s not Rocket Science” and similarly “Hey, it’s not Brain Surgery.” This seems a strange way to start a blog post, but trust me, you’ll understand in a moment.
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Justia Regulation Tracker

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of this year’s MacWorld Conference and Expo, which my wife and I got to attend, was not the announcement of the iPhone, but the lack of the phrase “And now, one more thing” which has been Steve Jobs’ catch phrase at his keynotes for quite some time now. Since Jobs didn’t use it this year, I’m going to shamelessly steal the phrase for the day and say “And Now, one more thing from Justia”. I mentioned previously, that I was already working on the next project after Dockets and that Justia would be announcing it soon. My boss announced it today on a legal mailing list, so now I can finally talk about Justia Regulation Tracker at RegulationTracker.com!

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