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iChat and chatting networks

May 14, 2007 1 comment

iChat works w/ .mac, AIM, and jabber.  Gmail chat works though the jabber network.  no other networks are supported.  i really like the iChat interface, but the ability to video conference still does not work across networks.  that means if i want to video conference w/ AIM, i need an AIM client; same for Yahoo and MSN.  Skype is also obviously standalone.  it would be so nice if i could do video chats w/ a Yahoo buddy while using AIM through iChat.  in fact, it would first just be nice to be able to chat w/ a Yahoo buddy through iChat.  there are other clients that provide multi-network accessibility, such as the wonderful Adium.  there are also websites that provide the same service right w/in the browser, such as Meebo.  but none of them allow of video yet.  so as it stands, video remains a cool feature but rarely used.

to fix that, it would be great if Apple would configure iChat such that people could write plugins to allow connection to other networks and additional features.  maybe it is configured in such a way and nobody’s stepped up for all i know (knowing the Mac community, i doubt that’s the case).  Google Talk is open network – anybody can connect to their network assuming they use the same protocol.  so add a Google Talk module to iChat – in fact, considering the strengthening Apple/Google alliance, i’d be surprised if such connectivity did not appear pretty soon.  anyway, the ultimate point of this rant is to open iChat to all the chatting networks and to develop inter-network video connectivity.

Categories: tech, web

ipod + nike = pretty sweet

April 16, 2007 Leave a comment

gearpackage20060912.pngi decided recently to start running again, as it will help tone more of my entire body than just riding my bike does. gotta get rid of that flabby belly, you know. being a tech geek, i decided to buy the ipod + nike attachment since it’s only $30. i wasn’t going to buy a pair of $100 sneakers just to make this thing work, so i started checking out some of the many DIY (do-it-yourself) solutions found online. i would have been perfectly happy doing that, had i not come across the nike outlet store at the round rock outlet mall while snapping pics for a theory paper. i needed new sneakers if i was to start running anyway, since my current pair is 3 yrs old and the shocks are likely worn out. i found the cheapest nike ipod compatible sneakers for $50 – one of the lance armstrong 10/2 sneakers.

so yesterday i read the instruction manual, transferred some of LCD Soundsystem, Muse, Lemon Jelly, Shins, and Radiohead to Cindy’s ipod nano (i couldn’t run to country, sorry), slipped the accelerometer component inside the new nike shoe, and attached the wireless component to the ipod nano. everything worked like a charm. scrolled through the menu to nike + ipod, told it to start a basic workout (open ended, instead of a timed or distance based workout) and got running.

this was my first run in years, so despite the fact that i warmed up and stretched, my legs still felt really tight. i ran around the neighborhood and around the UT Intramural Fields. it was so much nicer to run on grass instead of concrete. i started remembering some of my techniques / mindsets from when i ran cross-country back in high school. the only problem was that this time i was listening to music. i honestly am not too sure about listening to music while i run – which is obviously a big component of the this nike + ipod kit. i think part of my enjoyment of running (or how i used to enjoy it) was setting the pace to a song in my head, repeating that beat/refrain, and slowing it down or speeding it up based on my gait. when listening to music, the music sets the pace. that can be good, i suppose, at keeping your speed higher rather than lower, but the music would have to keep the same beat. the nike + ipod can be set to not play music and just track your running, so the whole point could be moot – it will still allow you to play your powersong, though, which is essentially a preset song of your choosing that’s meant to give you that extra mental boost when you’re running your last straightaway (or whatever).

an equally great component of this nike + ipod thing, aside from tracking your pace, distance and calories burned for the entirety of your workout, is the online community. the first time you sync back to itunes after using nike + ipod, it asks you to register w/ the nike + ipod website. once you do that, all of your stats are sent to and maintained at this website. you can draw and track your running routes through the embedded google maps interface. you can browse workout song collections (of course you can buy them on itunes as workout imixes). you can browse all of your runs – and it even gives you a line graph of each runs progress charting speed v. distance. you can browse other people’s stats, and view who has run the most or the fastest or whatever else by week, month, or ever. you can look for a partner to compete w/ anywhere in the world. you can set personal goals – my first goal is to run a 7:35 mile at least 5 times in a month. i’m that out of shape – granted i slowed to a walk for a minute or so mid-run, but my average mile on this 2 mile run was over 11 min.

there are loads of other features, and it’ll probably take me a little bit of time to fully appreciate how this works and to acclimate myself to the workout. the nike + ipod is a great attachment at the very least for tracking your progress – better than a cheap accelerometer and an excel spreadsheet b/c of the tools found w/in the online community.

Categories: health, music, web

MSN Web Messenger: the antithesis of a web app

April 12, 2007 Leave a comment

i couldn’t log onto my MSN IM account through Meebo today – it said my password was incorrect. that’s pretty odd since i haven’t changed it. so i decided to try to log in to any MSN page that uses Passport, the username and password system for most Microsoft services. i immediately found that MSN provides a web based messenger, but lo and behold! what a shock! i could not log on b/c i WASN’T RUNNING WINDOWS. microsoft continues to baffle me for the way they alienate users. instant messaging is an internet platform. it is not, ideally, platform specific. there are loads of different clients out there already that allow you to log into nearly every IM service, and microsoft does, in fact, put out an MSN Messenger client for Mac – though why anyone would use it when there are lighter and cleaner options like adium (which connects you to nearly every IM service in existence) is beyond me.  so why stop there? why put the restraint on web users that you be using windows in order to access the web messenger?! the whole point of web based apps is that they are accessible anywhere, from any platform!

here’s the message from the MSN web messenger site:
You must have the following to use MSN Web Messenger:

  • A web browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or later, Netscape 7.1 or later, or Mozilla 1.6 or later, running in Microsoft Windows.
  • An Internet connection (56 Kbps or faster recommended)
  • A Microsoft® .NET Passport. If you have a hotmail.com or msn.com account, you already have a Passport.
  • Popups enabled for this web site if you are using popup blocker software like the MSN Toolbar
Categories: tech, web, WTF?

Spanning Sync and Scrybe

March 9, 2007 1 comment

some time ago i posted about how it would be great to have a desktop client that syncs w/ google calendar. that product is now available in public beta (though i’ve been testing it out since private beta – yay me) in the form of Spanning Sync. i’ve installed numerous beta builds of the spanning sync client as it’s fixed bugs and become more robust. i absolutely love it. Spanning Sync very simply does automatic bi-directional syncs of iCal on the Mac with google calendar. no buttons to press. what you create in iCal shows up in google calendar and vice-versa. Spanning Sync is now up to its 16th beta build, and supposedly the next version will be the final version ready for mass consumption. since i started using Spanning Sync, i’ve pretty much spent most of my calendaring time in iCal, and only opened up google calendar when i wasn’t on my own computer.

i also just received my invitation the other day to join Scrybe, another new online calendaring app. it has a great hype video (on their homepage, take a watch) and has been written up in loads of places. i’ve been eager to try it out. it’s big deal is how it shows your events in context – basically you look at the month view, but you generally only see events. well, w/ Scrybe, you can click on that day’s events and it gets larger so that you can see all of the times. all of the other day boxes in the month view shrink to accomodate this. there are to-do lists, multiple color coded calendars, and a few more goodies. i’ve actually been having a hard time w/ Scrybe – i think it could use a really good designer. you need that contextual view w/in Scrybe b/c it’s near impossible to understand anything going on in the month view – all of the events seem to bleed together. google calendar and iCal have this view down much better. if you combined the month view from gCal and iCal w/ Scrybe, then perhaps you’d have something. a really cool feature of Scrybe, though, is its printing options: you can select to print up your events and to do lists on a sheet of paper, and then it tells you how to fold it up so that it fits in your pocket. that’s great if you don’t have a PDA or blackberry or your computer around.

overall, i think i’m pretty happy w/ Spanning Sync and see no reason to switch to a different platform.  it would be great, though, if iCal or gCal (or both) took a hint from some of Scrybe’s feature set.

Categories: tech, web, work

Google Transit finally in Austin!

March 8, 2007 Leave a comment

i’ve blogged about it, emailed CapMetro about it, and emailed Google about it. for months. multiple times. i don’t know how many other people have bugged them to get it sorted out, but Google Transit finally works in Austin as of this morning! i was emailed today by a CapMetro employee w/ whom i’ve been discussing Google Transit. i tried it out, and it works wonderfully. i hope it gets added to the CapMetro homepage soon – i think it would really help people in catching the bus and taking mass transit, b/c CapMetro’s Trip Planner tool is woefully difficult to use (it can’t find major streets, like San Jacinto Blvd. which runs right through UT’s campus).

Google Transit in Austin
Google Transit
Google Blog announces Google Transit for Austin in time for SXSW
Digg Google Transit in Austin!

Categories: Austin, sustainability, travel, web

joost: juicy tv now on the webby

March 4, 2007 Leave a comment

joost is a new p2p tv and movie viewing platform from the guys who created skype. a key component of joost is that it doesn’t contain user generated content – which means there is no capability to distribute copyright violation content. supposedly joost is in deals w/ production companies small and large alike, and essentially is aiming to be the platform for legal tv viewing on the web. it’s still in private beta, so i can’t say how it works or how great it is. i’d love to snag an invite, though, if any of you dear readers are feeling generous. it’s been hyped to high heaven, and was formerly known as the venice project – that’s before anyone really had any idea at all about its purpose. techcrunch describes a joost deal w/ viacom. here’s a screenshot:

 

Categories: media, tech, web

funny (sometimes) short stories

January 4, 2007 Leave a comment

apparently this site was started by its author as a method of character development, and since evolved into a series of short stories (1000 words or less). i like it. the site layout and colors are nice, too.  and it seems to be a general rule throughout the internets that commenters are morons.  except those who post on my site.  only some of them are morons.

http://thethingswethink.wordpress.com/

Categories: creative, haha, web

Google Maps calling feature – in Gmail??

November 16, 2006 Leave a comment

Google Maps, aka Google Local, now has a calling feature that’s been flitting about in limited quantities recently.  Apparently it went completely live and is available on just about every business w/ a verified listing.  I’ve tried it several times, and it works pretty well.  Funny sidenote – I called my fiance’ at work through Google Maps, and the receptionist asked if I was ‘on a Google’.  While she thought I was calling from my computer, which I wasn’t, she was still on the mark.  Apparently, Google uses Skype behind the scenes to make these call connections.  Was the entire call VoIP?  I don’t know.

Anyway, now that this is live and looks like it will be a successful addition, I think it would be an awesome addition to Gmail.  I would love to look up a contact and be automatically connected by pressing a ‘call’ button instead of looking up the contact and then dialing the number.  It’s not that I’m particularly lazy (though I likely am), it’s just that the technology exists, it’s in Google’s framework, and it’s a logical addition.

Google Maps w/ Calling Power: http://local.google.com/

Techcrunch on Google Maps: http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/11/16/google-local-ads-click-to-call/

Categories: tech, web

one step closer to Google Transit in Austin

September 29, 2006 3 comments

i’ve been waiting for Google Transit to include Austin for a year now, but the other day saw only the addition of four other cities. i’ve emailed Google Transit and CapMetro multiple times, but never saw anything happen. well, now that Google Transit has added more cities, they’re providing the ability for transit agencies to get their route info into Google Transit. that’s super exciting, b/c now the possibility exists for CapMetro to become a part of Google Transit, which means that getting route info and times could be a relatively painless issue (if you’ve ever tried to find out the route you need to take using CapMetro’s ‘Trip Planner’, and then checking out what route the recommended bus actually takes, you know what i’m talking about [*see explanation below]).

in an attempt to jumpstart the process, i immediately emailed CapMetro’s customer service, and then called them as well. i then spoke to the first operator, who hadn’t ever heard of Google Maps. i was then transferred to a different operator who had heard of Google Maps, and she then hooked me up w/ the CapMetro IT dept. now we’re getting somewhere. the IT dept doesn’t handle this type of request, though, so i was hooked up w/ the head of customer service next. this guy rocked, he knew of Google Transit, and was eager to learn more about it. i emailed him the link w/ instructions to get Austin involved, and then we chatted up the benefits of getting Austin into Google Transit. he did tip me off that we’re dealing w/ a bit of a bureaucracy, so this wouldn’t be an overnight fix, but he was encouraging and took my contact info. here’s to hoping!

*okay, here’s how i sometimes like to drive myself mad: start out at CapMetro’s home page where i can find the ‘Trip Planner’ in the righthand column. i then insert as starting point: ’50th St. and Duval’ and as ending point: ‘W. 22nd St. and Guadalupe’. CapMetro doesn’t know what 50th St. is, so i need to go back and specify Eas 50th St. it doesn’t recognize that either, so i specify 51st St., and then East 51st Street. no-go. i then finally insert my address as a last ditch attempt, which works. now it doesn’t understand the ending address, so i try West 22nd St. and West 22nd Street, both to no avail. it finally just recognized Guadalupe Street, which in reality is not what it should do (maybe i want to get off at 7th St. instead of 22nd).

ok, we’ve got the route set. now i’m given a list of 3 possible itineraries. i can either take the #7 from 51st and Duval to San Jacinto and 26th – or, get this – 50th and Duval to San Jacinto and 24th. wow, incredible recommendation. i can also take the #5 from Speedway and 45th to Guadalupe and 25th. but where do those routes go? how do i know which one would be a better choice? the only way to see the route is to open the accompanying pdf file containing the route and stop times. what a huge aggravating waste of time. plus, all the time required for me to input the info has probably made me miss the most recent bus. grrrrr.

so this is why it would be great for CapMetro to join Google Transit. 🙂

UPDATE: Google Transit finally in Austin!

chat w/ me right now!

August 18, 2006 Leave a comment

as you can see, there is now a new addition to this blog that i’ve added just for the sake of having the latest and greatest. actually, meebome has been around for almost 2 wks now, so it’s not so new. 😉 anyway – if i’m online, that box on the right will say so, and if the urge takes you, just go on and pop some letters in that box and we’ll see if a conversation starts. fascinating.

UPDATE: i don’t use meebo all that often anymore, and i’ve never chatted w/ a visitor to this blog (except for myself when i tested it out), so i took down the meebo-me widget.

Categories: blog, tech, web