As the quintessential early adopter and a propoent of creative disruption, I never thought I’d find myself saying this: when it comes to messaging, I’m old school.
Sure, email has it’s problems, but it works. The same goes for SMS. Both are ubiquitous - it doesn’t matter what mail client you have or what phone you use, it just works. For everyone.
Once again, I avoided CES this year. In principle, I love CES, but it’s expensive and difficult to get around Vegas during the event. Since I’m not officially covering it, I simply gather the cool stuff from my favorite blogs.
Here’s what I found interesting this year.
I've wanted to go "all-usb" with my podcast setup for years but was always held back by the fact that there was no such thing as a "software channel strip" that would work with applications like Skype, Google Hangouts or Zoom.
At one point, I went so far as to hack one together using a combination ofSoundflower (with Soundflower Bed) and GarageBand.
Soundflower is the audio routing software while Soundflower Bed is the configuration tool.
It worked, but the CPU on my 11-inch MacBook Air would max out, making the video capture almost unusable.
As one of the original backers of Coin, I had completely given up on it.
I figured it was an experiment in crowdfunding, one where I was the butt of the joke.
Imagine my surprise when, after almost two years, I received an email asking me to confirm the shipping address for my Coin. ("Wow. Is it *really* going to ship this time?")
A week later, I was finally holding the impressively engineered device in my hand.
A number of years ago, I decided to simplify the number of items I carried day-to-day and consolidated my wallet and iPhone protection into a single case. (You can find some unique handmade items on Etsy.)
To date, I used a sleeve case with pockets on the outside for credit cards, ID, etc. This is primarily because I always preferred a "naked" iPhone instead of one that's in a case all the time. I've always liked the way the phone felt in my hand but also, a phone without a case is easier to fit into the mounts I typically have in my car.
All that changed when I purchased the iPhone 6 Plus.
I then had an epiphany and decided to go all-USB.
Just. Like. That.
While I have a task list, that I manage religiously, email drives a lot of my workflow.
As a result, I've created a labeling system for my inbox to help me manage my tasks. It's loosely based on David Allen's GTD methodology, but I've adapted it to fit my own needs.
I want to share a seemingly mundane but completely work-saving solution I cobbled together.
I had two challenges, both overcome thanks to Moore's Law and a little research.
I swore that there were only two reasons that I'd stay with AT&T as my wireless carrier:
1. My thousands of rollover minutes and;
2. My grandfathered, unlimited data plan for iPhone
This past week, I proved myself wrong on both counts.
Almost exactly a year ago, we were without power (And heat. And fresh water.) for almost five days.
My wife and I vowed that we would never go through that again if we could help it, so we planned to buy a generator and transfer switch for this year's storm season so that we could power our home's basic necessities (heat, hot water, sump pump, fridges).
Long story short, we didn't. The money we budgeted for a generator went toward replacing our broken hot water heater, but we vowed to get a generator as soon as it made sense for our budget.
Then we started tracking Hurricane Sandy.
Thursday night, my wife said, "We should get a generator tomorrow."
Powering our sump pump is critical for us, especially after installing a new hot water and heater and, six months earlier, replacing a broken washing machine - both of which are located in our relatively wet basement.
At 7 AM on Friday I began calling around, looking for generators. Most retailers laughed at my request while others were sympathetic to my search - but they still couldn't help me as there weren't generators in stock, anywhere.
So I started to do some research to find a creative solution. Here's what I came up with.
My favorite mail app (for both Mac and iPhone) was just acquired by Google. Or should I say, acq-hired.
In 1998, my wife bought me a Swatch Beat watch. I think she heard me mention it after reading about it in Wired magazine and she got it for me as a gift.
WTF is a .Beat?
Swatch, along with the endorsement of Nicholas Negroponte, who was then the Director of the MIT Media Lab, proposed a Universal Internet Time known as the .Beat.
It works like this: A day is divided into 1000 ".beats". So, one Swatch ".beat" is equivalent to 1 Minute 26.4 Seconds.
You set your watch according to Biel Meantime (BMT). (In a classic marketing move, Biel, Switzerland is the corporate headquarters of Swatch.)
So, when you want to schedule a phone call with someone across the world, you don't have to figure out time zones - you simply indicate that the meeting should take place @xxx .beats.
Sparrow for iPhone was released yesterday and by all counts (including my own) it's great.
The one complaint that some people seem to have is that it doesn't support Push Email. I've rarely used the Push Email feature in the iPhone mail client due to the major suckage of power from the battery.
However, that doesn't mean that I don't want to be notified of new email.
I use Google Apps Mail (Gmail with my own domain name) and the connection to that service is plain ol' IMAP. Built into the technical standard for IMAP is something called IMAP IDLE mode.
Basically, if your mail client supports this feature of IMAP, you'll receive notifications when you have new mail. Of course, the iPhone Mail app doesn't offer this (and neither does Sparrow) but that's OK: for a couple of bucks, you can purchase a third-party app that can do this for you.
My son loves to read, so my wife and I decided to get him a Kindle Touch for Christmas.
He recently turned nine and we think that he's responsible enough to care for an eReader - and what better way to demonstrate our confidence in him than to surprise him on Christmas day?
The problem that we had (as do many parents of young children) is the lack of parental controls on Kindle devices.
Kindles have gotten cheap enough that they can serve as suitable replacements for kid's books without breaking the bank (or a kid's back) but they're still designed with adults in mind: one-click purchases for books, games, apps, movies, music and audiobooks. (Sorry, Amazon, but that doesn't work in our house.)
So, I set about figuring out how to handle this with our son.
A while back I wrote a post about my experience searching for pre-paid mobile broadband. I ultimately chose Virgin Mobile USA as my provider but one thing that bugged me was that I had to use the MiFi 2200 mobile hotspot since there were no drivers for their USB dongles for OS X Lion.
I've always known that the MiFi could be tethered to a Mac using its USB cable, but I also thought that the drivers for Lion weren't available.
As it turns out, I get the best of both worlds with the MiFI.
Either the drivers were recently update during an OS X Software Update or I just plain missed the fact that you can tether the MiFi 2200 to your Mac running OS X Lion. (At least using 10.7.2. I haven't tried to tether using earlier versions of Lion.)
The process is simple:
Starting in January, you'll be able to watch live HD TV on your Boxee Box using a new USB dongle from the company.
Announced today, the device will cost $49 and will enable you to view live HD channels from your local broadcasters - ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX with no monthly fee as these are over-the-air (OTA) HD channels produced for your local market.
There's a bug in one of the blogging platforms I use which has been consistently appearing during regular use. (Not this one, BTW.)
It's a minor bug, but it's appearance has become annoying and tedious. I continually remind myself that the service is free, and that I shouldn't complain.
Yesterday however, I figured I should take a moment to notify them about it as it could be helpful for them to know.
The response (from offshore) is below:
A solar charger is a convenient, eco-friendly way to charge your gear on the go but is typically required to rest on a flat surface in the sun in order to work properly. The folks at Quirky have figured out how to fix that.