Friday, December 30, 2005

Performancing for Firefox

I'm going to be testing out the new Performancing for Firefox extension. I've been searching for the right bloggin editor for quite a while. Blogjet is far and away my favorite, but for some reason it won't work right with my proxy server. I'm going to give Performancing a try.

Performancing for Firefox |

Performancing for Firefox

Performancing for Firefox is a full featured blog editor that sits right within Firefox. Just hit F8 or click the little pencil icon at the bottom right to bring up the blog editor and easily post to your Wordpress, MovableType or Blogger blogs.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Free Audio books

I don't have a lot of access to English language public libraries as a missionary. I do, however, love books, and love audio books. I regularly have to stand in lines for various things and usually find my time well spent listening to podcasts or audio books. If that's you too, check out LibriVox


LibriVox provides totally free audiobooks from the public domain. There are several options for listening. The first step is to get the mp3 or ogg files into your own computer:

Monday, December 26, 2005

Free copy of ActiveWords available

I've probably downloaded a hundred different utilities in the last year thinking they would score me significant productivity gains.  Most of them have been uninstalled and deleted but one remains my definite favorite, ActiveWords.  My favorite tablet guys interviewed ActiveWords CEO Buzz Bruggeman last week.  During the show Buzz offered a free copy of ActiveWords, but you’ll have to listen to the show to find out how to get it. 

I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you give this awesome product a try!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Geek Christmas, Kosovo Style

Merry Christmas everyone!  Happy Holidays too. 


It was great to read Eric Mack’s post this morning about the truth behind the Christmas holiday.  We celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth who freely offered himself to bring humanity back into right relationship with the creator God.  I’ve been a little non-plussed at what I’ve seen in the American media lately regarding the whole “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holiday” deal.  For the last week my neighbors, who are all Muslims, have been giving me hearty, “Urimi Festin!” greetings, which means simply, Happy Holiday.  The funny thing is that they mean it with all their hearts.  They don’t understand Christmas really (a situation we’re earnestly trying to remedy) but non-the-less, they hope it’s good for us.  It seems to me that the words matter less than the hearts behind them.

Christmas as a missionary always presents certain challenges.  First, there’s the ministry calendar to “contend” with.  For example, this afternoon we’re having a Christmas “outreach” to which we’ve invited our whole city.  I’ll write about that on my other blog, The other challenge is what to buy for gifts and where to buy them.  Kosovo is not what one would call a shopper’s paradise…or any sort of paradise, really.  We usually end up traveling to Greece a few months before Christmas to buy gifts for our six- and four-year old girls.

But geek gifts…now that is another story.  Several months ago my wife started asking me what I wanted.  I finally settled on a Bluetooth headset.  I started researching them on the internet, since there aren’t any Best Buys around for hands-on shopping.  After much web-browsing, and noticing that no user-reviews ever matches the web-sites reviews, I settled on the Jabra BT250.  These are actually available in the next couple of countries over, but not at low, low, American prices.

So about a month ago I placed my order with an online retailer.  The next issue was how to get it here.  Kosovo is not technically a country, so mail service has all been routed through Albania or Switzerland, until very recently.  Switzerland, you ask?  Yup, Switzerland.  The “safest” way to get things here is to have someone carry them over.  So I had my headset shipped to a colleague who was on study leave in the US. He carried it back with him to Macedonia, where he lives.  It’s only one country away, so that’s pretty close.  Then last week another colleague, who had business in Macedonia, brought it back up for me.

It’s now sitting under the tree, wrapped up and waiting.  It’s really had to work to get here!



Great OneNote video

As some of you know, I love the OneNote product.  It is THE repository for all my stuff including my GTD system, journaling, meeting notes, etc.  Unfortunately, OneNote is a little hard to explain since it most closely resembles a big digital notebook…it’s just too obvious for some people to get.  This video gives a great explanation of both the current version of OneNote and some great demos of what is coming in OneNote 12, the version currently in beta.  Check out this 32 minute video interview with Owen Braun and another guy whose name I can’t remember because he doesn’t blog.


Hat tip to James Kendrick, where I initially saw the link.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Michael Gartenberg picks the X41 ThinkPad as Notebook of the Year

This is making it’s way around the tablet geek blogs very, very quickly.  Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research, has named the IBM/Lenovo X41 his Notebook of the Year.  He didn’t say Tablet of the year, but notebook.  How about that!  It’s not perfect, but I really, really enjoy mine.  People over focus on raw performance and under appreciate the build, features, quality, battery life, etc.  This is a great laptop!

He writes:

Lenovo X41 Tabelt PC
”...the X41 is the successor to my laptop choice last year, the fabulous x40. IBM added a few tweaks here and there but mostly addressed my single biggest issue, the lack of Tablet functionality. Now that’s been addressed and the x41 is a killer system. It’s the first Tablet PC I’ve used where there is no penalty at all for the Tablet OS feature. It just works as a great notebook and when you need it in Tablet mode (like in that middle seat in coach on the way to CES) it’s just there for you.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Office 12: Beta 1-derful: The 'Top 30' List

If you've been reading geeky magazines lately, you will have noticed that the next version of Microsoft Office is being released next year.  Code names "Office 12," it has been touted as the most significant upgrade or redevelopment of Office ever...or at least in a long time.  I'm inclined to agree!  I for the last several weeks I've been involved in the beta test of this new version and am loving it.  While I can't talk about all that is the new products, I can repost what Microsofties have been saying about it.
Jensen Harris is probably one of the most prolific MS (technical) bloggers writing today about Office 12.  A couple of weeks ago he put together a list of the most significant articles on the new version.  If you're interested in learning more about the new user interface, check these out:

Consider this list a "best-of" from my first two months of blogging.

Posts about the Ribbon and how it works:

Posts about Galleries, Formatting, and Results-Oriented Design:

Why did we make a new UI for Office 12?

The philosophies, ideas, and design tenets behind the new UI:

Usability techniques and validation of the new UI:

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Death of Traditional Book Publishing

Books are big deals to missionaries.  Books are heavy, they are difficult to pack, difficult to ship and difficult to store, especially in humid climates where missionaries often work.  Missionaries need books, lots of them.  They need them for studying theology, prepaping sermons, studying language and culture and, most importantly, just for fun!  What to do with books is a question every missionary has to ask an answer.  When we moved to Kosovo, we shipping about 15 small boxes and books videos via "m-bags" through the post office.  It was a major pain.
Most of us have left traditional books for electronic forms of one type or another.  My complete "Word Biblical Commentary" set easily fits on one CD.  Most of the novels I read these days are downloaded from  I read occasionaly read magazines on Zinio reader.
Michael Hyatt, the President and CEO of Thomas-Nelson Publishing, the largest Christian publishing company and ninth largest publishing company in the world write a blog I follow closely.  In this post he casts a vision for the future of electronic distrubtion of books.  It's a good read if you're any type of book bug.  I would love a device like he envisions below.  Quoting Michael:  
.... we are only one device away from a digital revolution in book publishing, what might such a device might look like? Here’s what I envision:
  • It looks similar to a tablet PC slate. No keyboard, no monitor, and it folds in half.
  • It is the same size and thickness as a hardcover book, say 6" by 9" by 1/2". Unfolded, it is 12" x 9" by 1/4". It feels great in your lap. It can even be bent slightly like a book, so you can curl up on the sofa and read away.
  • It uses a tablet PC interface with a built-in stylus that feels like a high-end pen. You can use it to make menu selections, enter text (via handwriting recognition), or highlight passages in books.
  • It weighs less than a 256-page hardcover book (about one pound). It therefore dramatically changes the shape and heft of your computer bag.
  • It has a battery life of 12–18 hours.
  • It completely replaces your computer and runs all your favorite applications.
  • It has 256 gigabytes of flash drive storage. It has room for tens of thousands of songs, photos, movies—and books. Because it has no moving parts (unlike a hard drive), it is faster and more reliable.
  • It is wi-fi enabled (of course).
  • It includes a software application similar to iTunes for the purchase and download of books. Heck, maybe it's just a modification of iTunes.
  • It has a simple, elegant book reading application, similar to Microsoft’s Reader.
  • It has a docking station that allows you to use a keyboard, mouse, external monitor, etc.
  • It runs an Apple operating system. (Okay, I couldn't resist.)

Friday, December 09, 2005

An unexpected use for my Tablet PC

Last weekend we were in Macedonia for an annual team event.  I serve on the “Field Leadership Team,” an elected group of mission leaders and during the weekend the FLT sat to meet briefly on a number of pressing issues.  Since I’m the newest guy, I’m tasked with taking minutes for the meeting.  I’ve really enjoyed the freedom that a tablet gives me to engage in a group, sit in a circle of chairs, and generally make the technology low-key.  Because of that, I was taking all the minutes in ink using Word. 

Suddenly, I heard my 3-year-old daughter begin crying in the corridor outside.  She entered the meeting room, having fallen down and was unhurt, but upset.  As she climbed up on my lap, I didn’t miss a beat writing the minutes for the meeting.  I could easily hold her with my left hand and write with the other.  Try doing that with a traditional laptop! 

A tablet just makes doing everything you normally do with a laptop that much more easy and flexible.