Sunday, 26 February 2006

Battlestar GalacticaI've had just a bit of down time lately, and knowing it was coming, I figured this would be a good opportunity to watch all the episodes of the new Battlestar Galactica series (as opposed to the 1980's version) on my iPod that I have not yet seen. I downloaded all the episodes from iTunes and started watching the series a month or more ago whenever I was on air travel, and have become hooked. Before I had my surgery a week or so ago, I'd finished watching the original miniseries, which is made up of four shows, and about the first half of the first season. So, the remainder of that season and all of season number two were waiting on my iPod for me to sit down and watch.

Now, holding the iPod in your hands and watching video on the built-in screen with headphones is great on an airplane, but not so much when you're stuck in bed or on the couch at home. So I looked into how to connect my video iPod device to the TV at home. I could do the crazy Apple a la carte thing and buy the proper Apple dock, plus the special AV cables, plus an Apple remote, etc., or I could pick up a third party package. And the latter is the route I took.

HomeDockI picked up the DLO HomeDock for iPod at a Target store after seeing it advertised in their Sunday circular recently. At about $80 in the store, it cost me less than the comparable individual Apple parts and is better integrated. It will hook to a computer via USB (powered) and provides composite or S-video outputs to the TV as well as left and right audio via RCA jacks. It also includes a AC power supply for use without the computer, which is how I have it set up in my living room. And it comes with a small remote to control playback of video, pictures and audio files stored the iPod right from the couch.

I really like this thing. Shortly after buying it, I found out the company, DLO, is about to ship their new HomeDock Deluxe, which will include on-screen menus and more-fully-featured remote. For my purposes, the regular HomeDock is doing the job nicely. I'm about half way through the second season of Battlestar Galactica now, and I've become a huge fan of both the show and DLO's dock.

By the way - If you haven't had a chance to see the new Battlestar Galactica on the SciFi Channel and you're a sci-fi fan (or maybe you liked the classic Battlestar Galactica series from the 80's, although the new one is much better), you should check it out. Heck, even if you're not a sci-fi fan you might like it, as it's a great story and adventure.

And if you're looking for a good dock/charger/AV connection and remote for a video iPod, you can check out the HomeDock.



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Tech
Sunday, 26 February 2006 22:18:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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The Office 12 system release has been formally named "Office 2007" by Microsoft. I'm running Beta 1 software and it's quite interesting and looks like some great changes. The new Outlook is terrific in design. I can't say anything (per NDA) on the server side of things, but prepare to be wow'ed.

Anyhow, here is a list (from Microsoft) of the MS blogs that cover the Office 12 components. If you know of any others, please post them in the comments.

Microsoft® Office Access

What's New in Access 2007 (Eric Rucker)

 

Microsoft® Office Excel®

What's New in Excel 2007 (David Gainer)

 

Microsoft® Office FrontPage

What's New in FrontPage 2007 (Rob Mauceri)

 

Microsoft® Office OneNote®

A User-oriented View of OneNote 2007 (Chris Pratley)

OneNote General (Owen Braun)

 

Microsoft® Office Outlook®

Outlook General (Will Kennedy, GM)

Outlook Tasks and Time Management (Melissa MacBeth)

RSS/Search/Sharing (Michael Affronti)

Outlook Programmability (Ryan Gregg)

 

Microsoft® Office Project

What's New in Project 2007 (Dieter Zirkler)

 

Microsoft® Office Publisher

Publisher 2007, XPS and more (Jeff Bell)

What's New in Publisher 2007

 

Microsoft® Office Visio

Visio 2007 (Eric Rockey)

 

 

Microsoft® Office Word

What's New in Word 2007 (Joe Friend)

 

Microsoft® Windows SharePoint Services

Windows SharePoint Services (PJ Hough)

Document Management, Workflow, & Records Management (Rob Lefferts)

 

Office 2007 New User Interface

Office 2007 New User Interface (Jensen Harris)

 

Office 2007 New XML File Format

Office 2007 New XML File Format (Brian Jones)

 

Publishing XPS Documents

Publishing XPS Documents (Andy Simonds)

Publisher 2007, XPS and more (Jeff Bell)

 

PDF Support in Office 2007

PDF Support in Office 2007 (Cyndy Wessling)

 

TechTalk with Steven Sinofsky

TechTalk with Steven Sinofsky

 



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Office 2003 | Tech
Sunday, 26 February 2006 20:18:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 25 February 2006

OrigamiScoble posted a few days ago about the Microsoft-registered Origami Project web site. It's all the buzz around the net, people guessing and sometimes seeming to know a bit about what it is.

JK posts some info that is interesting and worth checking out... A video on Digital Kitchen's web site titled "Microsoft Origami."

Click on http://www.d-kitchen.com/launch_center.htm

  • enter the site,
  • click WORK,
  • and then click BRAND THEATRE,
  • you'll find the first entry says "Microsoft Origami"

Nice find by Kevin Tofel, who noticed it on the Engadget site in some post comments.



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Mobile | Random Stuff | Tech
Saturday, 25 February 2006 14:42:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 24 February 2006

Recently a couple coworkers at Corillian turned me on to TextPayMe, which is a cool service you can use to send money to others (and even to a few online merchants). Click the banner below to check it out and sign up for free - They'll even deposit five bucks in your TextPayMe account when you sign up. For real. You don't even have to provide a credit card or bank account info unless you want to transfer funds into the TextPayMe account, so there's no risk. It costs you nothing.

And, if 35 people sign up via this link, I'll get a XBOX 360. You can do the same thing. nice eh?

    

TextPayMe services are used to send payments to (and receive payments from) people you know, using text messaging on your mobile phones or wireless PDAs (I'm using it on my Blackberry phone). Let's say you go to a restaurant with three friends. Instead of asking the waiter to split the bill, or even worse trying to find the right amount of cash to put in the pool and pay your part, one person pays the bill, and the other three send their part to the person who paid using TextPayMe. They send it to your cell phone number, nice and easy. And for the people sending the money, the security system (which is a two-factor secure system - nice) calls their cell as soon as they text the payment. They answer the phone and are prompted by the peppy IVR voice on the other end to enter a PIN (which you provide at the time you sign up). Only then is money sent.

So - a cool service to try, nothing to lose, and five bucks to gain! Click here to go to the TextPayMe site and sign up to give it a try!



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IT Security | Mobile | Tech
Friday, 24 February 2006 14:33:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Magellan Road Mate 760Last week, while heading home from Seattle, we stopped briefly on the way out of town to pick up something at a mall. While there we saw a Brookstone store (I'm such a sucker for those places) and were pulled in by the magnetic gadgetness. Only Sharper Image compares in terms of pure gadget tractor beam power.

Anyhow, a minute or so after I entered the store, over walked an employee, nice guy. First words out of his mouth? Anything in the store you can touch on the floor - all floor models - 50% off (except massage chairs and tempurpedic mattresses, those were discounted 30%). Woah! So, I started looking around. It was almost too good to be true. And I just got my tax refund. Heh.

There were all sorts of cool things, and my mom and friend Mary Beth - they were there with me - picked up a few some stuff they liked. Me? Time to look for some electronics, baby. I was shocked to walk around a floor stand and find a Magellan Roadmate 760 GPS display - one of those displays where the device is security-sealed in a hard clear plastic frame, but it's a real, working model, you know? I call the sales guy over. Sure enough, half price, he says. He looks in the back to see if the box, papers and parts were anywhere to be found - and again, sure enough, he found everything. Score!

So, I bought it - essentially brand new for $450. Talk about luck. This is a GPS system that typically retails for around $750 to $900 in stores, sometimes more. It definitely pays to shop around. Froogle searching for new units shows you can get it for as low as around $700 if you look hard enough. Costco members can buy it online as of the time of this posting for $750 (after a $150-off coupon). I've been traveling a lot lately, and my job will have me traveling more and more in the future, so with all the unfamiliar cities and rental cars, having a GPS unit that does everything will be very useful.

Note: The RoadMate 760 has been around for something like a year now, and it's a terrific unit. The RoadMate 800 is pretty much the same device, only with a battery built into it, different color case, some button changes and whatnot - so you can use it without external power. And it costs a bit more.

It talks to you and gives turn by turn directions with street names (via a text-to-speech feature), has a bright touch screen display, and tons of cool features like auto dimming of the display at nights, auto color changing of the display at night, automatically increasing volume as you drive faster to account for road noise, and more. the pre-installed maps cover all of the US and Canada, and maps for Europe are pre-installed (you buy an unlock code to license those).

Having used mine a couple times, and with plenty of time to play with it (I'm a passenger when it comes to cars right now), I can say that the money was well-spent. The first time I plugged it in, it fired right up and found the GPS satellites. I created a route by entering the name "Olive Garden" into the locator as we were driving down the highway, and then instructing it to display destination results to me with the closest match shown first in the list. I selected the restaurant I wanted, and it displayed the address and phone number of the business (phone numbers - nice feature!), then I just clicked to create the driving route.

Almost immediately (this thing calculates routes very quickly), it started speaking the driving instructions and showed the route on the screen. As you drive, the map scrolls and updates, with your location in the center of the screen. I set the unit to display heading-up orientation, so that the top of the map is the direction of travel (you can also set it so that the top of the map is always north, but I didn't find that to be very intuitive). It warns you when you're two miles from a turn, then again at a half-mile, and one more time as you approach the turn. When you reach a waypoint in your route, it plays a sound (you can choose the sound, like a chime or beep, etc.) to let you know you've made it each step along the way. If you go off route it will immediately recalculate a new route and tell you where to turn, or if needed it will tell you to "make a legal U-turn" to get you back on track.

I'm a lucky guy to have found it at the price I did, but I can honestly say that after having used it for a day or two I would buy one anyhow at the available market prices. It makes driving and finding things remarkably easy and the routes it found were spot on. It will meet a real need with all my business and personal travel.

Features:

  • Map Software: Ready to use detailed, seamless North American map (48 contiguous United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and all of Canada) loaded on internal 20GB HDD. Pre-loaded European maps may be unlocked for an additional fee - for more information see: http://www.magellangps.com/en/users/keysIntl760/
  • User Interface: Touch Screen or dynamic keypad input
  • Display: High Resolution TFT LCD full color touch-screen display automatically adjusts to lighting changes
  • Display Size (H/W) 2.25" x 3.0"
  • Route Calculator: Choose from four different route methods: Shortest Time, Shortest Distance, Least Use of Freeways, Most use of Freeways
  • Turn-by-Turn Navigation: TrueView 3D screen shows upcoming turn while voice prompt politely gives turn-by-turn guidance in any of 11 languages (French, UK and US English, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish)
  • Route Recalculation: Automatically and quickly calculates new route when car deviates from the established route
  • Multi-Destination Routing: Create and save multi-destination trips. Use route optimization to determine the quickest way between stops or choose your own order.
  • Track Progress on Map: Dynamically tracks progress on the onscreen map - the map scrolls as you drive
  • Choose heading-up or north-is-up map orientation
  • QuickSpell Technology: Simplifies data entry by pre-determining letters from the available database when spelling street and city names
  • Address Book: Holds 200 addresses per user — up to 600 total
  • Points-of-Interest: Almost 7 million points of interest
  • Portable: True plug-n-play in any region - just a 12-volt lighter plug
  • Mapping Data: Provided by NAVTEQ
  • Dimensions: 3.25" H x 6.5" W x 2" D
  • Weight: 13 oz.
  • Mounting hardware: Supplied with suction cup and fully-articulable snake arm, quick release mount
  • Device antenna folds up, can be removed to attach external antenna if desired


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Tech
Friday, 24 February 2006 10:24:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Verisign's iDefense Labs has a program running that will pay you up to $10,000 if you submit a security vulnerability to them during this quarter that ends up being ranked as critical by Microsoft:

For the current quarter, iDefense Labs will pay $10,000 for each vulnerability submission that results in the publication of a Microsoft Security Bulletin with a severity rating of critical. In order to qualify, the submission must be sent during the current quarter and be received by midnight EST on March 31, 2006.

Well, there you go - if you gots the skillz, go gets some cash.

And by the way - the iDefense Labs site is a great resource for IT and security types to keep any eye on. They provide content on the site as well as webcasts with well-done content.



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IT Security | Tech
Tuesday, 21 February 2006 09:03:24 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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