Monday, 14 April 2008
I'm not a huge fan of using credit cards, but with that caveat I discovered something last night that I thought was a great idea and service offered by Capital One for their US-based customer's credit cards: Use your own images.

Under the program, every 30 days you can create a replacement card using your own pictures (provided your account qualifies and you have the rights to the images you use, of course). You go to the web site, provide some information, upload your picture (or choose from one in their library if you're dull and boring like that, heh), and submit your design. Once approved, they send you the card in the mail. Pretty simple and cool.

I decided to create my personal card from this image, which I took off my front porch a couple years ago one morning:



... and once I was done shifting the size and sliding the image around on the card for optimal fit, here is what I ended up with. It's almost like God created the view just to be put on a card (except of course that I'd bet God doesn't like credit cards one bit and the whole idea is just ridiculous):

XX

If you're a Capital One credit card holder, you can check out and use the Image Card service at http://www.capitaloneimagecard.com/.

Now I just have to wait 30 days to make another one, heh. I wonder if we can get the state DMV to let us do this with our license plates?



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Photography | Random Stuff
Monday, 14 April 2008 06:43:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 13 April 2008

Richard Campbell and I sat down and discussed virtualization with Anil Desai. Released in beta with Windows Server 2008 and soon to be released in it's final form, Hyper-V is an interesting and worthwhile technology that leverages 64-bit computing and allows you to run different virtual OS'es on the server with full symmetrical multiprocessor support. Virtualization is a primary role of Windows Server 2008. The release candidate of Hyper-V is available now.

You can download and listen the MP3 version of our interview with Anil by clicking here, or click over to the RunAs Radio site for more formats (like WMA, AAC), which is where our weekly IT audio talk show "lives."

For more information from Microsoft about Hyper-V, check these links:



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RunAs Radio | Tech
Sunday, 13 April 2008 12:23:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I downloaded a new iPhone native app this morning called Twinkle, which is a terrific Twitter client with integration to the iPhone's camera and the radio geolocation abilities. Even without those two enhancements, Twinkle would be - by a long shot - the best option for the iPhone when it comes to Twitter. To get Twinkle, you need to install it via the Installer.app program for jail-broken iPhones (see below for some more info).

Twinkle automatically figures out (approximately) where you are using Erica Sadun's FindMe utility, and uses that to label your Twitter posts with your location - very cool. It also allows you to cclick on a "near me" button to find posts from people located - you guessed it - near you. You can fine tune the distance and it's a nifty addition to Twitter.

A few observations:

  • Twinkle is a very fast app - which is welcome since web-based options tend to be very slow, to the point of painful. This app, however, races.
  • The UI design and usability to pretty darned terrific. It's quite well though-through.
  • I wish I could follow people from within Twinkle. That's one feature that's missing. I hear it's coming soon though.
  • Looks like I cannot click on URLs in tweets - that's certainly a missing feature (also coming soon).
  • Need links to pics that are posted in the tweet - Can't see a reference to the image in the web Twitter interface if I include a pic.
  • The app has has crashed on me a number of times while it's trying to do the geolocation, not sure if my fringe-area location has anything to do with that or not.

Of course, the app creator has a Twitter account, and you can see how popular it's becoming when you look at tweets that refer to Twinkle on TweetScan.

A few iPhone screen-grabs to show it off (click each one to view full-size):

Twinkle1
View of my followed peeps' tweets

Twinkle2
You wouldn't normally see this too often. My
fringe coverage area means I'm hard-to-locate.

Twinkle3 
Viewing an individual tweet, with ability to
reply, direct message, or go to the tweeter's
individual profile/post page.

Twinkle5 
Replying to myself. Yeah, that's a little weird.

Twinkle6
What you see when you view an individual
profile. Nice.

Twinkle7
Ah screen-door effect. Taking a picture
to attach to a tweet.

Twinkle8
Note the paperclip showing a picture is
attached. Also, the character count actually
works and is accurate, which is a weakness
of many twitter clients.

Twinkle9 
Clicking on the paperclip allows you to
view the attached image - a nice friendly
addition. You can also remove the image
from here, if you change your mind or
want to shoot a new one.

Note: In order to use Twinkle today, you have to "jailbreak" your iPhone, a modification that allows third-party applications to be installed on the device. In the future, you will hopefully be able to download Twinkle from the Apple app catalog (once it's made available). But not today. An obligatory word of warning... If you do the jailbreak process, Apple won't provide support on your phone in the event you need it (unless you restore the phone to non-jailbroken status of course). The ZiPhone jailbreak app is slick and simple - you can just download for Windows or Mac, plug in your iPhone, click a few times, wait a few seconds and you're done. Google it if you want, you'll find it.



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Apple | Mobile | Tech
Sunday, 13 April 2008 12:09:15 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 12 April 2008
Since I "needed" a new high-def disc format player (specifically Blu-Ray Disc) to take the place of my suddenly-antiquated HD-DVD hardware, and since Thursday was my 41st birthday, I decided to get what is arguably the best Blu-Ray player out there. The Playstation 3. Ah mid-life and gadgety toys, heh.

As luck would have it, my dad called me and asked what I'd like for my birthday. We go through the same conversation each time, and it's really kind of funny. I say I don't know and we end up in a friendly stalemate. I told him what I was looking at buying for myself, and he got interested. It was too much money, really - but he insisted (thanks, dad!). And so I went to the local big box store and picked one up and brought it home last night.

I'm not going to do a PS3 review. Yes, it's great hardware and the Blu-Ray discs play great. Watched 3:10 to Yuma last night (good flick). I was impressed, just as I was with HD-DVD.

But you know what impresses me more? In the past few weeks I have seen device after device - from different, even competing manufacturers - communicating with each other to share media on the network.

My Windows Home Server and Windows Media Player devices can share out media with the Xbox 360, with my DirecTV HD-DVR receiver, and now I see also with the new Playstation 3. Streaming audio around the house that's stored on the Home Server is a daily occurence around here. The XBox 360 is, of course, also a front-end for Media Center (which runs on my Vista Ultimate machine), and once we see a real-world version of the DirecTV USB component receiver (dubbed the HDPC-20 and currently in limited beta we're told), that's going straight into my den and should truly round out my interconnected, media-driven home.

With about 2TB (yeah, terabytes - who woulda thunk it a few years ago eh?) of Home Server storage and all these devices spread around that stream various media, it really is turning into a whole different kind of user experience - and a good one at that.



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Home Servers | Tech | Windows Media Technology
Friday, 11 April 2008 23:28:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 08 April 2008
A technical event for the whole family? Yep. With content for technical and non-technical people alike. This weekend. Passing along some info here...

Load up the whole family (seriously) and get your geek on this Saturday, 1 p.m. at the OGI School of Science and Engineering at the PDX Webfoot event. The registration page is here and the PDX Webfoot site with all the info is here.

From the site:
On April 12th, we'll be participating in the first Webfoot event in Portland. Webfoot is a web-focused event for all creatures, techie and non-techie alike. Bring the whole family for a day of education, entertainment, and fun!

Technical topics include Silverlight 2, Internet Explorer 8, and hopefully some sessions from the Firefox and Adobe gang if we can get them to show up. :)

Non-technical topics for the normal people include safe Internet browsing.

We'll have food and even some activities set up for the kids, such as Lego Mindstorms.

When: Saturday, April 12th
1:00pm to 7:00pm (dinner provided)

Location: OGI School of Science and Engineering
Wilson Clark Center for Lifelong Learning
20000 NW Walker Rd
Beaverton, OR 97006



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Tech
Tuesday, 08 April 2008 10:03:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 07 April 2008
Today in the mailbox I received a letter from Best Buy with the previously-promised $50 gift card to help compensate for the fact that the HD-DVD player I bought from them is a no-longer offered format. Cool stuff, and well ahead of the "expect it by May 1st" timeframe they established in their original communications.

Great service on this one, and again kudos to Best buy.

Some interesting trivia from the letter in the mail: "Customers will get a gift card for each player or HD DVD attachment they purchased. While we can't supply a specific number of gift cards that will go out, it's safe to say that, through this program, Best Buy will distribute more than $10 million in gift cards to customers across the country."



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Random Stuff
Monday, 07 April 2008 15:56:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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