Saturday, December 30, 2006

Great quote to kick off 2007

I'm always a sucker for a good motivational quote, especially this time of the year. How about this one, from Mark Twain:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that
you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.

via Jason Womack

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gmail disaster: mass deletions

TechCrunch is reporting that an unknown number of users have had all their Gmail deleted...everything in the account.

The first message, posted on the Google Groups forum on December 19, stated “Found
my account clean..nothing in Inbox, contacts ,sent mail..How can all
these information residing in different folders disappear? ..How to
write to gmail help team to restore the it possible?..Where
to report this abuse?.Any help ..Welcome..Thanks in advance ps101″

Other Gmail users then added to the conversation, saying that their
emails had been deleted as well. Most of the users reported using
Firefox 2.0 and that Gmail was open in their browser when the deletions

Good's official policy is evidently that deleted mail can't be recovered. If you are using Gmail as your only and/or primary email account you should follow this issue either at TechCrunch or the Google thread.

I user Gmail, but I use it through a pop3 connector and receive it in Outlook. That way I stay responsible for my own email. Anyone notice any missing mail? Oh, by the way, you have to read the comments at TechCrunch...they're a hoot.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Google's new blogger out of beta...

Everyone writing about the new Blogger, which just came out of beta. What's been odd is that people who are new to blogging have been using the new version for months while older "customers" have been stuck with the old version.

Last night up "upgraded" both my blogs, this one and missionary in Kosovo to the new version. In the main, I like what they've done with the upgrade. The new version includes tags (which Blogger calls labels), new template options, new publishing method, etc. It also includes some slightly heavier weight improvements:

  • something like trackbacks, only they call them "backlinks" I'm not sure whether these are automatically generated or not.
  • improved control over who has permission to read your blog. This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but for people working in closed- or limited-access countries it's a big bonus.
  • improved layout controls. You can now add widgets and scripts very easily. I added a Flickr badge in about two minutes on my missionary blog. It also allows you to drag-and-drop components of your layout, which is nice.
Blogger has also made it very easy to upgrade old blogs to the new format. I've read some complaints that people with a very large number of posts are having difficult upgrading, but haven't seen anything to confirm that.

For more information check out:
Silicon Valley Watcher
Information Week

My biggest disappointment in the whole thing is that my BlogJet, my favorite blog editor, doesn't work anymore. Dmitry, the author only comments that this issue will be resolved in the new version of BlogJet but won't commit to a release date. That's a little frustrating and I may begin to look elsewhere again.

Overall I'm happy about the new version of Blogger. I would be happier, I suppose, if I didn't feel like Google had left Blogger to rust for the last several years. Only after years have they tuned up the engine, changed the oil and replaced the running-gear. Maybe its not a good analogy, Google executes so well in some areas and in others....not so much.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Got 19464fae56553de2257e ??

Lately I’ve noticed these strange folders on my c:\ drive that usually have names like: 19464fae56553de2257e.  I’ve been wondering what they are, assuming that they’re safe to delete, but not quite having the nerve to.

Ed Bott “unpacks” them for us:

I have those on several machines here. They’re perfectly normal, if a bit baffling. The best clue [is] the name of the attached file: msxml4-KB927978-enu.log

It’s easy enough to break that down:

  • The .log extension means this is a log file, in text format, documenting changes that were made to the system.
  • The -enu bit at the end means it was in the English (U.S.) language.
  • KB927978 refers to a Microsoft Knowledge Base article number.
  • And if you look for that article, you find out that it’s entitled “MS06-071: Security update for Microsoft XML Core Services 4.0&Prime, which pretty neatly takes care of the msxml4 part at the beginning of the name.

The long, gobbledygook number is a security precaution. If you write a patch to a known location on every one of a few hundred million PCs, then the bad guys know to target that location. By creating a system-generated name for the folder, it’s impossible for an attacker to target the files in that location.

If you’ve got one or more of these folders hanging around, you can safely delete it.

Go ahead an delete these pesky folders.  Oh, and ya, I know, Mac users don’t need to worry about them.



Monday, December 18, 2006

Making use of those old cassettes

I remember my first real need to create digital audio files from cassette tapes.  I was doing foreign language study and hated using a tape recorder for the cassette that was included in our study program.  I always got lost, and couldn’t figure out whether Fast Forward was really Reverse or not.  I could never cue the appropriate spot so  I finally decided I would try to record the tape into my laptop and access any point on the tape almost instantly.

But how to do it?  I started, like a lot of people with Windows’ built in “Sound Recorder” only to find out it would only record a section about two minutes long.  Then I began to peruse the web to find some software that would let me, not only convert my language cassette tapes into something usable, but also record foreign language TV, radio and edit the files from the MP3 recorder I used for language study.

I wish I would have had access to Rick Brioda’s latest piece in LifeHacker.  Rick offers another basic tutorial in his “Alpha Geek” series, this time on converting cassette tapes direct to MP3s on your computer.  It’s not really very complicated; here’s what Rick used:

  • A cassette player. I dug out my old Walkman, which I found perfectly suited to the task, but you could also use a tape deck.
  • A stereo patch cord. Specifically, you need a cable that connects your Walkman's headphone jack to your sound card's line-in jack. You can get one at Radio Shack for around $5. If you're connecting a tape deck, you may need an adapter to accommodate its larger headphone jack.
  • Audacity, an open-source, cross-platform program that makes simple work of recording and editing audio. It's available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. If you plan to turn your tapes into MP3 files, make sure to get the LAME MP3 encoder as well; there's a link to it on the Audacity download page. (Detailed instructions on setting up the LAME MP3 encoder are included in Gina's feature on how to make a ringtone from an MP3 with Audacity.)

I wish I would have known about Audacity several years ago.  Instead of using this high-quality and FREE piece of software, I bought a copy of “Cool Edit,” a product that was later bought out by Adobe and made into Adobe Audition.  Audacity works great for most every Average Joe’s needs and I’ve quit using Cool Edit.  If you’re interested in converting those old language tapes into usable (and storable, edit-able and archive-able) MP3s make sure you check out Rick’s post.

Also take time to read through the comments.  Several commenters added some good stuff, including a link to a pay-to-convert service called  Another commenter posted a link to “mp3DirectCut” which will (apparently) automatically cut your looong-ish recording into tracks.

Turn that pile of old cassettes into something useful!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas is something more with your camcorder

Most of us have video cameras these days.  Most of us take endless “footage” of kids opening Christmas presents, birthdays and other family events.  Most of the time that footage just sits there are a pile of accumulating tapes that fall out of the camera bag or are stuck in  a drawer somewhere.

Why not take the next step and create a short video on a CD or DVD  to mail to family members or post on the web?  If you’re a far away from home in some remote and dusty place I bet the folks back home would love to see your moving mug in your special Christmas locale.

LifeHacker has a short primer on video editing that will get you started.  It’s all much easier than you may think and you probably own everything you need to get started:

  • Digital Video Camera – look to see if your tapes say DV on them.
  • Decently powerful PC –  Contrary to the Lifehacker guys, you don’t need anything real powerful; I used to edit video on a Pentium III laptop.  Just remember that the slower the computer the longer it takes to make video.
  • A firewire card – Your computer may have this built in, if not pick up a cheap adapter card for $20–40. 
  • Windows MovieMaker – built-in to Windows XP (if you’ve installed Service Pack 2, which you should have  )

You don’t have to be great at movie-making to make something your family will this is great.  Why not give it a try?  Read more to learn more.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Skype 3.0 goes live...and more

More news from Skype.  Their new version, 3.0 went live today which adds a number of interesting features, including public chat, improved quality and new (wow) emoticons.  I ran the beta for a while and was pleased with what I found (I wrote about that here).

This news came from an official Skype blog but I’m a little surprised at what they didn’t mention in the feature list.  For instance, ten days ago Jaanus, another Skype blogger wrote about the new white-board functionality available in Skype 3.0.  White-boarding is not built in to 3.0, but it’s a plug-in available as a free down-load.  Obviously this gives you the ability to sketch stuff while talking to someone.  This isn’t earth-shattering.  I wrote about the new (at the time) Windows Live Messenger sketching functionality back in May and Microsoft wasn’t the first to the table with this trick either.  Still, Skype is pretty ubiquitous these days and there are times when pictures really do speak louder than words.  This is especially cool if you have a Tablet PC…you don’t draw with a mouse, like the guy in the pic above, you draw with your PEN.

In other news, Skype is again charging for Skype-out calls to North America.  Skype’s limited time offer ends (as promised) at the end of the year.

To that end, starting January 1st, Skype will charge $29.95 a year for unlimited SkypeOut calling, which is still a pretty good deal if you ask me. And if you sign up before January 31st, you'll get service for just $14.95. If you don't have a plan, calls within the U.S. and Canada will cost 2.1 cents per minute. Rates to other countries vary.

via Download Squad

Paying only $14.95 for unlimited intra-North-American calling is a pretty good deal.  I only wish a similar deal could be struck for international calls.  I continue to use SkypeOut regularly to call back to Kosovo, my adopted country.  Prices have gone up, however and seem to be nearing what I pay when I use a phone card from Sam’s Club.  Oh well, calling my colleagues who have decent Internet and Skype is still free…can’t beat that.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

YouTube now offers instant recording with QuickCapture

Last Spring I started shooting a series of impromptu, unscripted and unrehearsed videos to update my supporters on what was going on in Kosovo. I shot one video at an outreach event, another at an empty square during the funeral of our country’s president, and so forth. When I was done I would usually add a title using Movie Maker (hey, it’s free and comes with Windows XP) and post it up to my web server. I got a many, many positive responses from these videos precisely because they were short and unscripted. People even started using them in church services, though that wasn’t really my intent.

YouTube, the ubiquitous host-er of all-that-is-video, has just begun Youtubeoffering a way to record video right to their servers. Not only can you record right from your computer, but you can upload video straight from your mobile phone as well.

YouTube gives the following guidelines for putting your video directly on YouTube.

  • Uploads will usually take 1-5 minutes per MB on a high-speed connection.
  • Converting your video takes a few minutes; you can add more info or upload more videos while it's processing.
  • Videos are limited to 10 minutes (unless you're a Director) and 100 MB.
  • Videos saved with the following settings convert the best:
    • MPEG4 (Divx, Xvid) format
    • 320x240 resolution
    • MP3 audio
    • 30 frames per second frame-rate

This could make a pretty positive impact on missionary vloggers for a number of reasons. First, you don’t have to have a server anywhere to host your videos; YouTube does that for you. Second, you don’t have to worry about editing…and you won’t want to. Honestly, for what I want to do, editing makes the whole process take too long and takes all the fun and authenticity out of it. Third, it makes very easy to insert video into blogs and web-pages, since YouTube’s posting tools make it pretty simple. Okay, I could go on, but this makes the whole thing pretty simple.

I tried my hand at making a quick video, but it took three takes. The first gave me a “unknown file format” when I was done and wouldn't work. I thought that was odd since YouTube did the encoding. The second attempt….aside from my ugly mug…had awful audio. I’m not sure why this is, but I used the built-in mic on my camera. It wasn’t that the sound quality was poor, it just kept cutting in and out. The third time worked just fine though.

You can see it here. You can also embed the videos quite easily into a blog. YouTube is offering a pretty handy service and best of all, it's free.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Newsgator products on sale

I’ve been using Newsgator as my “feed reader” for quite a while now.  I’ve settled on Newsgator Inbox, which plugs right into Microsoft Outlook, because it best suits my needs for my low/no/slow bandwidth situation in Kosovo where I normally live.  Now that I’m in the US I find myself using Newsgator’s own site to feed-read as it naturally includes all the graphics that are turned off by default in NGInbox. 

It doesn’t matter though, because wherever I read my feeds they stay synchronized.  That is, if I mark something marked in one Newsgator product, they automatically get marked “read” in the other products.  This really works out well if you travel a lot, or are plagued with lousy Internet from time to time.

According to this forum post Newsgator products are now $10 off through the end of the year.  Just use coupon code NGHoliday when you order.  Their catalog really has a number of great offerings, from web-based feed-readers like FeedDemon to mobile solutions, to my favorite, Inbox.  Most of these products are around $30, so this is a pretty good time to grab one of these products if you want to read all your blogs, feeds or gather your podcasts in one place.

via DownloadSquad

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Reading over his shoulder...from two thousand miles away.

I got a call from a friend overseas today who wanted some input on a document he was working on.  He emailed me the document and then, over Skype, we began to talk about it.  I was marking it up, he was also talking about it and making changes and quite quickly the whole thing was out of control and neither of us knew what we were talking about.

Enter web-based collaboration tools. Quite some time ago I experimented with a web-based application called “Writely,” which allowed people to work on documents in real-time together through the web.  I hadn’t used it for a while, and knew that they’d been bought by Google.  So when I went to I was quickly redirected to the Google Docs site and walked through a 30 second process of porting my old Writely docs over to Google Doc.


From there I sent an invite to my overseas friend and within a couple of minutes we were simultaneously working in his document in near real-time.  I say “near” because the page and its edits only refresh about every 30 seconds or when you hit the “refresh” button.

All in all we were both impressed by how easy it was to work on a document together that we could both see, read and edit together…all from a couple of thousand miles away.  It was a great way to work together.



Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Making the most of an unexpected Windows reinstall

Most of us realize, after nearly twenty years of frustration, that Windows needs to be occasionally reinstalled to restore it to youthful vigor.  I was gearing up for my annual/semi-annual Windows re-installation, but I wasn’t exactly ready when it happened.

On Black Friday I bought a nice new 400GB Western Digital MyBook external drive for only $99, after rebate.  When I finally decided to open it I wanted to break it into a NTFS partition and a FAT32 partition, for backing up my wife’s Mac.  I loaded up Partition Magic and got ready to get to work.  When I ran PM I was greeted by a kindly message advising me of a bad sector, corruption, error (or something) at a particular location on my main drive.  It asked me if I wouldn’t want it to take care of that little problem.  I happily (and too quickly) clicked ‘yes’ and that was that.  When the system reset there was no more Windows.  Oops

Fortunately IBM includes some pretty decent recover options and I was able to back off my “documents and settings” to preserve … well, my settings (I keep all my data on a separate partition for this very reason.

I had been waiting for this day for some time.  Months and months ago a guy wrote a very long post over at on reinstalling windows in the Lenovo X41 Tablet sans all the IBM crap that comes built in.  Like most manufacturers these days, IBM/Lenovo doesn’t include Windows recover CDs with their products.  Instead, they create an image on the hard-drive from which Windows can be recovered.  That actually works pretty well, accept that you have very few options when it comes to reinstalling all of the (mostly very helpful) software that comes pre-loaded.

That long post has since been reposted over at  The first step is to create a bootable CD or DVD with Windows Tablet Edition on it.  This is a pretty neat trick since you can’t buy TE at your local store.  I had actually made that CD when I was still in Kosovo waiting for the day to reinstall a clean copy of Windows on my Tablet.

Anyway, here’s the point: Just because your laptop came pre-loaded with lots of stuff, don’t feel like you have to reinstall all of that when you reinstall Windows.  Take advantage of the community and find people have found ways around this annoying problem.  My Tablet PC runs so, so much faster with a fresh install of Windows minus all the pre-loaded applications Lenovo so lovingly included.

Oh, and by the way, this explains why I haven’t posted anything here in about a week.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Decision-making, daily discipline and failure

I’m kind of an on-again/off-again John Maxwell fan, but this article makes a pretty powerful statement:

Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail. Deficiency in decision-making ranks much higher than lack of specific knowledge or technical know-how as an indicator of leadership failure…Successful people make the right decisions early and manage them daily.

Maxwell goes on to say some really powerful things that link decision-making with daily discipline.  Good stuff.  Someone wise once told me that a good decision made now is often better than a great decision made too late.

via Jason Womack


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Airport Wi-fi: now with international airport list

US airport wi-fi directories have been circulating for a while but the folks at TravelPost have put together a set of pretty detailed wi-fi guides for airports, domestic & international, and US hotels.  For example, I fly through Vienna most frequently and the guide tells me that at VIE I can expect:





I knew there was wi-fi at a couple of restaurants around (you can tell by the squatters sitting around outside hunched over their laptops) but I didn’t have the semi-official skinny.

via WebWorkerDaily

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Portable Apps + USB Drive = Portable desktop

For my last anniversary my wife gave me a great gift, a 1GB USB drive.  The question is, what do you do with all that space?  A while back Lifehacker had a great round up of portable applications that fit on a USB drive and don’t have to be installed onto the host computer.  I put most of the recommended apps on my USB drive before I went on a 6–week speaking tour this fall.  Plugging my USB drive into any computer and loading up my own version of Firefox, complete with extensions, bookmarks, cookies and, yes, passwords was a breeze (note: be very, very careful about your passowords on a portable device).

A couple of days ago released the Portable Apps Suite 1.0

The PortableApps Suite is available in multiple Editions for drives of every size. The Standard Edition includes the menu, backup and icons mentioned above as well as ClamWin Portable (antivirus), Firefox Portable (web browser), Gaim Portable (instant messaging), Portable (office suite), Sudoku Portable (puzzle game), Sunbird Portable (calendar/task manager) and Thunderbird Portable (email client) and runs comfortably from a 512MB drive. The Lite Edition uses AbiWord Portable (word processor) instead of Portable and runs comfortably from a 256MB drive.

If you travel much at all, and use someone else's computer a fair bit then these portable applications are the way to go.  While not part of the Portable Apps Suite, Skype is one of my favorite apps to take portable.  Find the instructions here.

via Lifehacker


Thursday, November 16, 2006

No sooner do you need something...collabrative web annotating

For the last couple of days I’ve been trying to get a “place keeping” website up for our work in Kosovo.  We had a really gifted young lady design the site for us, but getting it edited out in two languages has been really challenging.  I had been thinking that it would be great to have the ability to discuss the site with my colleagues back in Kosovo.

Then this evening, as I’m reading through my feeds, I come across this from TechCrunch.  “This” is Fleck, a new service that allows people to comment, annotate and collaborate on a website.  That is, people can view, change and add notes at any time to any website.  TechCrunch’s Marshall Kirkpatrick gives us an example of comments he made on the top a TechCrunch article here, but I also made a screen capture of the image:













This is pretty slick stuff.  Fleck is still in beta, and it currently only supports Firefox, but IE support will arrive later this year.  The tool bar at the bottom gives you options to insert notes, bulleted items and other collaboration options.

I’m always looking for tools that will allow geographically dispersed team members to collaborate on projects and this is definitely going in the tool box.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Skype 3.0 beta released...distance-learning platform anyone?

The folks at Skype have released 3.0 beta.  There are some neat new features here, but nothing earth-shattering.  But that’s not to say it’s not worth looking at and upgrading when the code goes gold.  The majority of the upgrade is in interface improvements and bug fixes.

On the other hand, there is something interesting here for missionary folks.  By clicking on the “Live” tab you’re taken to an interface for “Skypecasts” which are being billed as “live public conversations.”










You can click to enter any of the available “Skypecasts” and just listen, or interact if you chose.  There isn’t really anything earth shattering about this; other programs have offered “party line” feature for years.  I don’t believe, however, that they’ve had Skype’s quality and installed user base.

Because of Skype’s ubiquity this function could readily lend itself to distance learning.  This caught my eye after reading Integrating Technology in Leadership Training by Donald Sommer Evangelical Missions Quarterly.  Sommer profiles some of the technology being used in the missions field to facilitate distance learning given the decreasing costs of communication and the increasing availability of computers and “internet cafes” around the world.  While entry into a Skypecast cannot be password protected, you can mute or eject unwanted participants.  Skypecasts are currently voice-only and there doesn’t yet appear to be file-sending functionality.  If both were added before the beta goes gold, however, Skype might make a pretty sweet.  Add something like Talk & Write , a free Skype “extra” and you’ve got a pretty powerful conferencing platform.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hold your critics close: lessons to be learned from the "secular" work-place

While this is primarily a geek-ish blog, but I also like to write about productivity, management and work-place dynamics.  Today I was struck by something Robert Scoble wroteScoble used to work for Microsoft and was one of the most influential bloggers there.  He has also had a profound effect on the “blogosphere” around the world, co-writing a great book called “Naked Conversation” with Shel Israel and about which I wrote here and here.  More recently Scoble has gone to work for Podtech Network where he is vice-president of Media Development.

Scoble was writing about a new hire at Podtech, Chris Coulter, a long-time contrarian of Scoble.  People have reacted to that so he articulates his reasons.  The reason that really caught my eye was the fourth:

Fourth, if I’m going to grow as a manager and as a leader I need people I work with who see the world differently than I do. Translation: who can tell me I’m full of it. Why is that important? Well, beyond keeping the ego under check, it’s where great ideas come from…. Having diverse ideas on a team is important and brings better ideas.

Man.  I don’t know Robert Scoble at all, but I sure appreciate this kind of self-understanding.  Obviously this looks great on paper and will probably be occasionally painful to live with.  You have to really court honesty and forthrightness for that to come off well.  Not all leaders can handle that degree of feedback. 

I’d like to be one of them.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Smart phone guide

I just spend a weekend with a bunch of a guys at a faith-based retreat; several of whom had smartphones.  The Two of the guys in our small group had the Motorola Q, with which I wasn’t familiar.  When I got home this afternoon and checked my feeds I found CrunchGear had just come out with a first time buyer’s guide to smartphones.  If you’re interested in taking the plunge this might be a decent place to start.  Oh, and don’t miss CrunchGear’s “10 things I hate about smart phones….it may change your mind.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cell-phone minute minder

From time to time we’ve all wondered how many minutes we’ve used our cell-phones.  Whether its raw telephone minutes or SMS messages, time flies when you’re communicating with people.  Lifehacker points to some Firefox extensions that helps keep track of minutes for T-mobile, Verizon and Cingular users.

A glimpse of the 'new normal'

James Kendrik has a great post “a day in the life” post about his Ultra-Mobile PC, the Q1.  He uses a Samsung Q1 as his normal, take-to-work computer, even though its only about a half a sheet of paper big and 1.7 pounds.  James is a consulting geophysicist who works for some big oil companies in Houston.  His clients are pretty big-dollar people and his schedule, after reading him for a couple of years, seems pretty full.

What strikes me about this is how normal all this will appear in a couple of years.  One should be able to fit all their data and work material into something the size of a paper-back book.

If you’re interested in how appealing all of this might be, give James a read.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Skrybe goes beta

Earlier this week I wrote about Skrybe, yet another on-line calendar options that also offers off-line editing.  Last night they went beta, which means that some people will be invited to participate.  TechCrunch has more.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Five-year birthday of Windows XP, we love you

Travis at Gizmodo is helping us celebrate the five-year birthday of Windows XP.  Mac users, don’t ever bother reading this…it’ll only get your blood-pressure up.  Seriously, there are things I hadn’t thought of here.  If you’re a Windows XP user under the onslaught of  “competitors” check this out for a birthday happiness.

NOTE:  To those of you with sensitive ears or eyes, you should note there is some bad language here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Backing up Outlook automatically

We all know we should back up our data regularly.  Sometimes its tough to get to, or remember to and that’s why I look for the most idiot proof  method available.  James Kendrink pointed me to Jake Ludington’s blog with a simple, and better yet, free method for backing up my Outlook data daily.  He uses a simple text file to create a batch file that is then run by Window’s Scheduled Tasks.

The upside is that this method is completely free and that it can be set up in about two minutes.  I have a 2 GB SD card that sits in my laptop all the time and which I use for backups.  I’ve followed Jakes simple steps to backup all of my Outlook data daily.

The downside is that Outlook has to be closed to do this.  That’s not Jake’s fault, that is a limitation with almost every file; they’re locked while in use.  Since I rarely ever close Outlook, and neither does Jake, he includes a command that closes Outlook before running the ‘copy’ command.  This isn’t exactly rocket-science, but if you’re looking for an easy way to backup Outlook, or any other folder for that matter, check out Jake’s simple method.  James points out that OutbackPlus does the same thing, and also backs up your IE and Firefox settings and other docs as well.  The only catch is that it is $39.95

Now where did I put that--bookmarking and finding stuff fast

Niall Kennedy wrote an interesting piece yesterday called “Bookmarking and social sharing trends.”  While the article is really about social sharing trends, and not bookmarking per se,  it’s a great summary of the way people are bookmarking content on the internet.  If you’re not very geeky, skip his first couple of paragraphs which are about an upcoming conference. He presents about nine ways people are currently dog-earing online information to look back at later.

The bottom line for me is this: How do I retrieve the information I’m looking for quickly and easily? That is, how can I  be the most productive with the information I’ve already found once.  If it takes me more than a couple of minutes to find a website or other content I’m looking for it’s taking too long.  How do you find your stuff quickly, and more important, effortlessly, when you’re looking for it?

Here are nine ways.  I’m only explaining two, because they are the two that I care most about.  Check out his article if you’re interested in learning more.

1.  Local bookmarks – this are what most people use; it’s built into their browser.  The advantage is that they’re always there, ready to use.  The downside is that they can be hard to organize, unless you’re really intentional.  Click on your bookmarks toolbar button right now.  Are they organized?  Can you find what you’re looking for quickly?  If you’re like most people you probably have a long list of unsorted sites lurking there.  The other downside is that they are easily lost if your system crashes or you’re using someone else's computer.

2.  Live bookmarks

3. Bookmark clusters

4.  Synchronized bookmarks

5.  Bookmarking in public – This is the method I’ve chosen to use.  I do this primarily because if a site even remotely interests me I can tag it with a descriptive word and bookmark it in about 3 seconds.  The bookmark is then saved in “the cloud” and I can access it from any computer or find it easily later.  I’m using to do that and there are a number of extensions for Firefox that help me tag things quickly.

6. Bookmarking for another individual

7. Bookmarking for an affinity group

8. Shared collections

9. Additional data collection and display.

Pretty neat stuff if you’re into leveraging the information you’ve already found once, and don’t want to have to search for again.

Treo 680 Pricing from Cingular in

Engadget is reporting the new pricing on the Treo 680 from Cingular:

Treo 680: $424.99 straight, $349.99 one year, $249.99 one year with unlimited data (and $100 rebate), $274.99 two year, $174.99 two year with unlimited data (and $100 rebate; their ad, however, shows a $200 list price, but it's good to know we can count on around two Benjamins. Expect it November 5th (tentative).

This is apparently based on an Cingular marketing presentation that you can find here (PowerPoint presentation).  But included in that deck is some pretty good comparison charts on the 650, 680 and 700P/W.  If you’re into that, check it out.

The 680 will apparently become available from Cingular on Nov 4th.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Comparing Web Browsers: IE7, Firefox, Opera, et

With the recent releases of both Firefox 2 and Internet Explorer 7 the trash talk is heating up in the browser space.  Read/WriteWeb has a pretty decent quicky overview of the dominant players right now.  But for kicks, you've gotta read the comments! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Firefox 2, tweaks and TabMixPlus

By now you’ve probably heard that Firefox 2, the ever popular browser was released yesterday (download it here).  What you may not know is that there are lots of ways to tweak ‘fox through the about:config set of parameters.  You can adjust things like the scrolling behavior, which I wrote about here and a whole host of other things.  Lifehacker has a list of the most obvious ones here.

That saddest thing about ‘fox 2 for me has been the loss of Tab Mix Plus, which hasn’t been compatible with the most recent builds.  However, commenter murph2481 points out that the bet of TMP for Firefox 2 is available here.  This has really made my day as it gives you control over where you’re new tabs will appear, which links create new tabs and which don’t (history, links, other apps, etc) and a whole host of other great stuff.  It apparently isn’t perfect, but it works fine for me.

Embedding a Flickr slideshow in your site or blog

Jordan over at DownloadSquad writes about how to embed a Flickr slideshow into a blog or website.  All you need is this script:

<iframe align="center" src="
user_id=12345678@N00&tags=YOUR_TAGS" frameBorder="0" "width=500" height="500" scrolling="no

You have to replace the green user_id and tag fields with your own. If you are a Flickr user and don’t know your user_id click here and a little app will tell you.  You use whatever photos you want from your Flickr site.  I tagged a bunch “slideshow” for use on my website.

If you want to see how this might be used you can check out my effort here.  I’m a pretty lame web designer, but little tricks like this help brighten things up a little.  You should note that in the comments section of the DownloadSquad post there are other ways to do this as well.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

One of the coolest online organizers I've seen

I saw this on Techcrunch a few weeks ago and haven’t had time to look closely until today.  Skrybe, which hasn’t officially launched yet, is a browser-based organizer that lets you edit and interact with your data whether you’re connected to the internet or not.  Check out the short video over view on the Skrybe site and I’m certain you’ll be impressed.  It offers:

  • Seamless offline access - without any installations
  • Rich and fast like a desktop
  • Intuitive zoomable calendar views
  • Organize your thoughts with bookmarks, web snippets, images and files
  • To-do lists integrated with your calendar
  • Share and collaborate with friends and co-workers
  • Elegant, compact and handy print formats
  • Easily work across multiple timezones
  • Import and export from other apps easily. Your data is yours!

I was most impressed by three things:

1.  The way Skrybe handles time-zones seems to be intuitive and very easy to use.  It’s one of the few products I’ve seen that assume that you’ll be working with people in various time-zones and visually helps you set appointments with them.  Very cool.

2.  The zoomable calendar looks very slick.  It’s fast and again, intuitive to use.

3.  Skrybe allows you to print out your data in a format that is formatted in such a away as to make it easy to fold up and take with you.

Again, take a look at the video and see what you think.  The seems like the first app I’ve seen in a while that seems to begin with the actual, day-to-day needs of regular people.  We’ll see when the product goes public.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Treo 680 headed to Cingular

Engadget is reporting the inside scoop from an internal Cingular powerpoint presentation that the new Treo 680 will be released to Cingular.

It'll have everything we've been expecting: Palm OS 5.4.9 with that new five-tabbed quick access (dial pad, favorites, home screen, contacts, call log), quad-band GSP / GPRS / EDGE, 312MHz XScale processor, 2.2-inch 320 x 320 display, SDIO, Bluetooth 1.2, IR, PocketTunes, 1200mAh battery, and a 4.41 x 2.36 x 0.88-inch body weighing in at 5.28 ounces.

No details yet as to WHEN.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Prayer card of the future...redux

Several weeks ago I mentioned a new on-demand print solution for small business cards…or in my case, prayer cards.  I ordered a bunch, but haven’t seen them yet because I’m on the road.

Amber over at Download Squad also ordered a batch.  She says they’re great, high quality and, well…cute.  She posted several pictures there too.

Disable (or modify) tab scrolling in FF2

One of the things that has annoyed me about Firefox 2.0 is the way the tabs are created to a set width and once you’ve opened five or six tabs you have to start scrolling through them.

Lifehacker tells you how to modify the tabwidth or disable the scrolling.  This is a great hack; once I have 18 tabs open, I want to know it!

via Lifehacker

Firefox 2.0 almost ready to ship

Read more at TechCrunch.  There isn’t apparently much new between Release Candidate 3 and the official release version.  Once the extensions (add-ons in FF2) get written compatibly this is going to be great.  The built in spell-checker is great for commenting on blogs and online forums, etc.

More on the Treo 680

Brian over at Brighthand has a nice little review of the new Treo 680 I mentioned a few days ago.  This is really going to be an interesting line-up, especially for those of us who aren’t looking for a high-end ‘smartphone.’  I was really interested in the 700p but it has built-in support for high-speed EVDO which won’t do me a bit of good where I live in Kosovo.  I need a quadband

It also has 64MB of memory, twice that of the 650 and support for 2GB SD cards for all that multimedia content that’s fun to carry around.  Also, according to Bryan:

To further make the Treo 680 an outstanding value, Palm is offering a bundle, for the foreseeable future, that includes many of the accessories that new buyers need right away. This kit includes a 1 GB SecureDigital card, a headset, and a 30-day trial to Yahoo Music Unlimited.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Packing tools for life on the road

I need to admit on the outset that I’m not really a road warrior in the consultant-life-on-the-road sense of the word.  My trip are usually fairly short, or I end up staying where I’ve gone for long periods of time.  But for the last five weeks I have been on the road visiting with churches and staying in people’s homes.  While staying in homes has many advantages one thing that it does not afford is the ability to unpack one’s bag. 

Not only am I no road warrior, I’m also probably the worst folder-of-shirts that can be imagined.  No matter how carefully I fold my things they’re a mess by the time I take them out of the suitcase.  Before this six-week tour I invested in a couple of things from Eagle Creek, the folks that make odds and ends for travel. Eagle Creek makes a number of various sized “folders” which help in folding shirts and packing them in such a way that they don’t get wrinkled, or at least don’t get wrinkled as much.  Their web page has illustrates the various sizes, but doesn’t illustrate how clever the design is.  Each folder has a fairly rigid plastic “folding board” of the type you might use if you worked for GAP or other clothing store.  The folding board has printed instructions on it that even someone like me can understand.  When used each shirt is folded to the same size and then can be placed in the folder, velcroed up and put in your bag.  Besides helping your clothes to say comparatively unwrinkled, they also make it very easy to sort through your things when you can’t unpack your suitcase.

I bought three, one for long-sleeved dress shirts, one for short-sleeved shirts and one for pants.  Packing and re-packing is a breeze.  If you can’t fold a shirt to save your life and you live out of a suitcase for periods of time these may be worth checking into.  I bought mine retail from an Outdoor Provision Company store I stumbled across.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Firefox Instant Calculator

I’ve been using Firefox RC2 for the last few days.  Overall I like it, though there are some of my older extensions that I can’t quite get to work.  Lifehacker points out that there’s an instance calculator available through the Google search bar.

Pretty slick.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Palm announces the "low price" Treo 680

There have been rumors of (several) new Treo’s floating around for months.  Then a few months ago Palm released the 700p, which is the Palm version of their first-ever Windows Mobile 700w.   Yesterday Palm announced the Treo 680 which should come in under $250.  Check out the pictures from the Gizmodo post.

The 680 isn’t ground-breaking in terms of features, but it does open up the Treo line to a whole new demographic who want a cheaper, but full-featured smart phone.  I’ve been watching Ebay for months for a good price on a Treo 650.  Since the release of the 700p prices on 650’s have begun to drop slightly, but not quickly or sharply enough.  The 680 may be the smart-phone for a guy like me who wants a full-featured phone with Palm OS but doesn’t have a corporate budget to back up the purchase.

Here are some of the specs from the Palm site:

64MB user storage Memory
320 x 320 pixel TFT touchscreen 
352 x 288 pixel resolution Digital Camera
Full QWERTY key layout with backlighting
Expansion Slot for SD I/O cards
See also this good post from Treonauts here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Final status issues becoming more complicated

Life is always interesting in the Balkans.  As many know Kosovo is in the midst of negotiations to determine the final status of the essentially independent province.  Though legally still a part of Serbia, Kosova is essentially a non-state country run by the United Nations. Negotiant ions are currently underway in Vienna, Austria to determine its final status.

Naturally the country of Serbia wants to hold on to Kosovo, which it sees as an important, historic part of the Serbian nation and people.  The 90–95 percent Albanian population of Kosovo wants to become an independent state.  Into this mix comes a new Serbian constitution.  Earlier this summer Montenegro succeeded from the country called Serbia-Montenegro triggering a rewrite of former country’s constitution.  Last Saturday the Serbian parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve the new constitution which declares Kosovo to be an “integral part” of Serbia.  Though the constitution still needs to be approved by a public referendum scheduled for Oct 28th, the message is pretty strong.

The UN Special Representative of the Secretary Genera, the man responsible administering, Kosovo quickly fired back that “the adoption of a Serbian constitution defining Kosovo as integral part of Serbian territory will have no effects on the final political status of this province” [quote from the article, not from Joachim Ruecker the SRSG].  On Monday the US State Department fired its own warning shots.  According to spokesman Tom Casey, "Neither party is going to unilaterally decide this," Casey said. "This is going to be something that's going to have to be worked out among them through this negotiated process."

Now the whole timetable for discussions is up in the air because negotiations may be delayed until after the Serbian Parliamentary elections which may be called for in late November or early December.

The bottom line is that Serbia will not willing let go of Kosovo, though interestingly a recent Reuters article (through KosovoReport) says that though fifty-eight percent of Serbs want Kosovo to remain part of Serbia, only twelve percent actually believe it will happen.  The Albanians of Kosovo will not willing remain within the country of Serbia.  While all sides would prefer a negotiated settlement on the issue an imposed one may be necessary and that doesn't bode well for peace in the Balkans.


More team tools

From time to time I post new services that may be helpful to geographically-disbursed, communicationally-challenged groups.  Google Groups just announced some upgrades to their popular discussion groups.

Use it for information about your group, shared documents, or anything you want to publish online. Any member can view, contribute to, and comment on the pages, from right within your group.

In less than about three minutes I set up a group for our particular field:Googlegroups (Small)

For missionaries with decent internet access this would made a handy place for ongoing field discussions, posting of organizational documents, mailing lists, etc.

When a group member makes changes to the site all the group members can be notified by email or xml feed.

And of course, its all free and very intuitive.

via Lifehacker

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Meal-time etiquette

Every culture has its own set of relatively fuzzy meal-time manners.  This becoming more apparent to me recently as I have had both “hosted” and “been hosted” on my travels on “missionary tour.”  As I’m getting older I’m coming to realize more and more that proper etiquette isn’t about a stuffy set of rules and behaviors; etiquette is a set of guidelines to help people treat people kindly and to facilitate relationships.

You may think this is a post complete with missionary jokes about eating in exotic places, but its not.  Though I could write a little about that, this is more about how to treat people kindly over dinner.  To that end I want to point you to two pod-casts from the guys at Manger-Tools.  These aren’t Emily Post talks, or notes from Miss Manners.  They’re practical tips on how to have be a polite host or guest over a meal.  They cover things like how to seat larger groups of people, where the host should sit and how you should arrange for the paying of the bill.  This is important stuff for those of us who work with people regularly.  I was invited to a dinner recently where I was the only “new” person in a large group and where people wanted to hear about missionary work in Kosovo.  Rather than being seated near the middle where I could interact with a broader group of people, I was seated on the end where I could only conveniently talk to three others.  That’s not a big deal but I missed out on meeting some pretty neat people!

These two podcasts are distinctly oriented for the North American business world and the business dinner, but there is a lot of good information here for people who are spending their time making connections with relative strangers.  Here is their introduction:

So, are you up to speed on how to have a business meal? Or even worse, HOST the meal yourself? You are? GOOD! Then you already know when to start talking business, and whether it's different at breakfast, lunch and dinner. You know how much alcohol to drink, and how many glasses of wine there are in a bottle. And the ideal way to pay for a meal, or what to do when the check comes. If you know all THAT, then we bet you also know where to seat your guests, and yourself, whether there are 2 or three of you. And, of course, what to order, and what NOT to order. Soup, you say? NO. And if you're not sure... that's why there's a Manager Tools podcast covering all that and more

Part One

Part Two

If you’re in ministry and are regularly hosting or being hosted these two podcasts are great.  Give them a listen.

UPDATE: Sorry but the links above are dead.  Here are the permalinks for the two podcasts: One, Two

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Windows XP SP1 support ends October 10

If you haven't upgraded your Windows installation to service pack two you should do so as Microsoft is apparently ending support for that version on October 10. 

via Mary Jo Foley

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The prayer card of the future?

I saw a pretty neat deal on Lifehacker yesterday.  A company called Moo, which does on-demand printing, is offering Flickr users 10 free “minicards” which are like small business cards.  If you follow the link below you can pick pictures from your own Flickr photostream and then add the text of your choice on the back.

I ordered mine using pictures of Kosovo and my family with my contact information printed on the back.  This kind of deal may take the place of larger run print jobs.

In fact, as I think about it, I could use something like this in place of the expensive magnetic prayer cards I just had printed up.  That experience was horrible.  I’ll write about that a little later.

Anyway, if you’re a Flickr Pro user and want to try out these free cards check out Moo Flickr Minicards

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A new $600 router in my back yard

Wow, this is my first post in a long, long time.  My family and I are finally settled into the parsonage at our Raleigh church home, getting things unpacked and settling the kids into school…their first time in North American schools.  The only drawback to our living arrangements has been the lack of internet access.  The church has a good DSL connection, but the problem was how to get that to the back of the property.

Several years ago the church built a “multi-purpose building” aka gym and during that process they laid down underground conduit to connect all the buildings.  So this week the youth pastor and I have been pulling CAT5 network cable and tonight we finally had internet in our home at long last.

The final piece was the wireless connection between the Education Building and our home, which is across the parking lot.  I thought about a number of options, including wireless repeaters, signal boosters and bridges.  In the end, I thought it would be easiest to put an access point in the Ed Building and hope I could get a solid signal at my house.

The secret to the deal is an article I read on LifeHacker back in June.  It described how to turn a $60 router into a $600 router by replacing the firmware with DD-WRT firmware.  After a little shopping around I found a Linksys WRT54G on sale for $49.99 and bit the snatched one up.

Because the 54G has a lot less memory than others in the series I had to use the “micro” version of the firmware found at the Bitsum Tech Wiki along with installation instructions.

The DD-WRT firmware upgrade is fantastic.  Among the many awesome things it allows you to do is to control the radio's power.  By default the Linksys is set to 28mW.  The DD-WRT allows you to change that all the way up to 251mW.  I didn’t try it but I think if you set your transmit power to 251mW the magic smoke would promptly leak out leaving you with a bricked router.  I set the power at the suggested 70mW and left it alone.

So far I’m really excited about the solid performance and tweaking I’m able to do.  I’d really recommend this for anyone who is trying to reach into those far corners of their home or yard.  All the other stuff is just a bonus.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Getting Things Done...various tools

I’m a big fan of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done,” which is a powerful time-management/productivity methodology.  This week Jason Clark from the Downloadsquad writes a two-part article on GTD.  Specifically, he compares using Microsoft Outlook versus web-based products as your “organizer”  Both posts are worth the read if you’re into GTD.

Part One

Part Two

In summary, Jason like the online options, citing the strength of having your “stuff” anywhere you might want it.  It’s also pretty robust, can’t be stolen, etc. The downside, and this is the killer for me and most missionaries I know, is how reliant on internet connectivity it is.  Until the whole world has broadband, and that will be a looonngg time, no web-based anything is going to be very useful.

Color-code your folders

Like you I have a lot of folders under My Documents.  Sometimes it takes me several moments to find the one I’m looking for which irritates me and wastes time.

Yesterday Lifehacker had a post on how to color-sorting your folders by color.  The little application, Folder Marker lets you:

….change folder icon (mark folders) by priority (high, normal, low), level of project completeness (done, half-done, planned) and type of information stored in them (work, important, temp and private files).

I downloaded it and tried it out.  But while looking at the Lifehacker comments I found a little application that I like better.  Try out icolorfolder for a great way to add color to your folders.  It’s a great way to make that commonly used folder pop out visually, helping you find it just a little bit quicker.  Once installed, simply righ-click on the folder you want and select the color you’re looking for.



Sunday, August 13, 2006

Where is that old command in Office 2007?

Microsoft is trying hard to make sure people can successfully navigate from older versions of Office to the new Office 2007.  Personally, the new version is so much more intuitive that I don’t think people are going to have too much trouble.  BUT, if you’re worried that you’ll get lost in the new “ribbon” interface, here is hope. 

The interactive screen takes allows you to navigate through a Word (or whatever) system of menus to find your old favorite command.  When you’ve drilled down and found it, it pops up the new Office 2007 interface to show you how to find the old command.  Neat.

Here are the links:

via Marc Orchant

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Incompetence really hurts

For some reason I’ve gotten hooked on this crazy Manager-Tools podcast.  I’m not a manager, I’ve never been a manager in the technical sense of the word.  But these two guys are always putting out interesting stuff that from which I learn a lot.

A couple of weeks ago Mark Horsman briefly posted on Incompetence and an article from the Harvard Business Review.  The key findings?

Incompetence is far more pernicious than we realize. “Incompetent people don’t perform up to speed, don’t recognize their lack of competence, and don’t recognize the competence of others.”

It’s the last two statements of the drop quote that are most troubling.  Incompetence people don’t recognize that they are incompetent…and guess what, they can’t tell whether you’re competent or not either! 

I’m fortunate to work with a lot of very, very highly competent people in my organization and in my immediate team.  There isn’t a dud among them.  But articles like this, and the research a paper here always make me wonder how we handle competence and management in Christian circles.  We trust God a lot, and we trust that the Holy Spirit will straighten people out.  Fortunately God is really, really good, but maybe we’re missing some things. 


Voice Recognition in Vista shaing up nicely

Ever since Captain Kirk started talking to the "ship's computer"  voice recognition has kind of been a  "holy grail among computer users.  The ability to either dictate, or  better yet, command a computer using the human voice has had a very high "gee whiz" factor, to say nothing of productivity enhancement.
Windows Vista is delivering some really significant advancements to "voice reco," especially the ability to give the computer real world commands.  You have to check out this awesome video demonstration by Long Zheng if you're even remotely interested.  Microsoft has done some great work helping the computer do precisely what you're asking.  Long has an Australian accent and Vista rarely hesitates.

Hat tip to

Friday, August 11, 2006

Review: Picasaweb vs. Flickr

Adam Scheinberg has written a great little review/overview of Flickr and Picasa Web Albums.  I’m been messing around with Flickr for some time now, and fiddled a little with Picasa Web. 

I’ve been using the Picasa desktop version for quite a while to sort all my pictures and I’m pretty happy with it.  The biggest issue that I have with it is that you can only give a photo one tag, or “label” in Picasa parlance.  That’s a real bummer when a picture fits into multiple categories.

For instance, when we go on vacation and my wife takes some great pictures of the kids, I would tag those photos with “kids,” “vacation” and “family” in Flickr.  With Picasa (both the desktop and web versions) I have to choose one label to which the picture will belong.

For my money (and both services are free) I’ll stay with Flickr for my photo-sharing needs.

via downloadsquad

Windows Updates: Now in bulk

Reinstalling windows is a pain regardless of where you live.  It is a particular hassle if you live in a low-bandwidth place, like many missionaries I know.  Downloading endless numbers of small security patches takes forever…or is simply impossible.  I’ve often wished I could easily download one large file that I could archive on a CD for future updates, redistribution to other missionaries, etc.

According to Ed Bott, Microsoft quietly began doing this earlier in the year.

Microsoft has been doing this since the beginning of this year, apparently, but this is the first time I’ve noticed it. Security patches for August 2006 are now available as Bulk Updates in ISO-9660 CD image format. The files can be burned onto blank CDs, used on multiple machines, and archived.

This is good news for people who prefer to do updates manually. No more downloading a dozen or so individual patch files and then saving each one. Just make sure you get the right CD image(s). One is for Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003; another is for Windows XP; and a third is for IE.

If you want to go back and get earlier releases, try this page, which lists all updates in ISO image format since January 2006.

If I were an IT-minded missions administrator I would seriously consider downloading these, burning them on CD’s and distributing them to my personnel.  It would save the guy in the field a huge amount of time.

via Ed Bott

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why we don't do what we know we should.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The wonders of no internet

I’ve pretty much not had internet access the last couple of weeks.  Obviously I haven’t posted much, though there seems to be interesting things happening.  I’m sitting in a bagel store in central Iowa…best internet around, it seems.

I am still here though, and following goings-on as best I can.  In some ways I’m really enjoying being unplugged for a couple of weeks.  It’s annoying when I’m trying to find an answer to something…but I’ve had good time with the family!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Marc writes a solid OneNote overview

Marc Orchant writes a solid overview of OneNote 2007’s capabilities.  Marc is one of my favorite bloggers for his balanced style, clear writing and broad perspective on software and productivity.  However this article feels like either it was heavily edited by MS editorial writers or Marc really turned up the geek-meter.  That is, it’s very geek-centric.  Even given that, if you struggle with organizing your information effectively, read the whole article.  OneNote is a powerful tool that I couldn’t do without.

I believe that one of the secrets of truly effective information management is establishing a single place in which you can collect and organize all your information, act on it, and share it with the people you collaborate with. Microsoft Office OneNote® 2007 provides just such an environment, and many of the enhancements and new features introduced in the 2007 Microsoft Office release make that environment more powerful than ever.

This article highlights the following capabilities offered by Office OneNote 2007 to collect, organize, search, and share the variety of information you can manage in this one application:
• Creating multiple notebooks to provide additional structure for your information system
• Recognizing text in images using the new Image Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capability
• Integrating Office OneNote 2007 with Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 to create a highly effective time and task management system
• Sharing Office OneNote 2007 notebooks as a real-time collaboration tool


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Really, really light posting these few weeks

I haven’t had much time to write lately.  We’ve got a couple of major things on our plate that isn’t leaving much time to blog.  As I write this, a group of 16 American high school students and adult leaders are preparing for another day of fun and frolic here in Kosovo.  They’re on a “missions trip” here until Monday and have been involved in running a children’s program, ecological river clean-up project and a cultural exchange with local youth.


The second major thing is our return to the US for our one-year home assignment.  We’re obligated to spend one year in the US for everyone four we’re overseas.  We’re leaving on an early morning flight on Tuesday, about 14 hours after our guests leave.   Sooo…we’re busy packing up our house while hosting a team too!  We’re having a lot of fun, but blogging will be sparse.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

English Standard Version for OneNote 2007 now available

From Rob Bushway over at GottaBeMobile:

I am pleased to announce the availability of the English Standard Version Bible for OneNote 2007 via This version for OneNote 2007 is formatted with wide margins and double spacing, especially tailored to Tablet PC users for ink notetaking. In addition, each book in the Bible is a seperate OneNote section, with each chapter in the book belonging to a page within that section. Using the built-in functioanlity of OneNote 2007, you can insert your own ink notes, view the Bible text and notes in full screen mode, search your ink and text notes, sync your Bible notes between multiple computers, record the audio of sermons and play it back in time with your notes (with permission of course !), and insert additional pages – all right within your ESV Bible for OneNote 2007.

Follow for more.

I’m downloading this now!  OneNote is a great way to study texts.  I recently downloaded a copy of the Koran and printed it into OneNote.  I need to study up more on the majority religion where I live.  OneNote is the perfect way to annotate, highlight, and work with texts like these.

I imagine I’ll still use BibleWorks for most of my heavy lifting, but that program is great for working with the text as language; doodling with it in OneNote is working with the text as a living thing.  Those are completely different, but complimentary functions. 

Rob, thanks for all the hard work on this!  This is a great addition!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Using OneNote to track your tasks

David Rasmussen, part of the Microsoft OneNote team has begun blogging.  His first two posts are really, really great.  He talks about his search for the perfect task/time management system and how he’s found the combination of Outlook and OneNote to be perfect.  He says:

With the combination of OneNote 2007 and Outlook 2007 I now have a system that works very well for me. Here's how I manage my task list and workflow now.

  1. I created a ToDo page in OneNote in my general section. This always contains my current to do list and grows and evolves as my tasks change.
  2. I have a direct keyboard shortcut to this page, Ctrl-Alt-T, so that I can instantly go to this page whether OneNote is running or not. This works from anywhere. See my post on Keyboard Shortcuts for Favorite OneNote Pages for how to do this.
  3. I write each task on a line.
  4. I hit Ctrl-Shift-1 to mark that item as an Outlook task for today (or Ctrl-Shift-2 is tomorrow, 3 is this week, 4 is next week, Ctrl-Shift-K pops up the Outlook task dialog for custom date and fields). This process gets the tasks roughly distributed on my calendar correctly.
  5. That line gets flagged as an "Outlook Task" in OneNote. It gets added to the task list in Outlook, and there is two way sync between them. If it gets marked done in Outlook it shows up as done in OneNote and vice versa.
  6. There's also cross linking. A link is created in the Outlook task that will jump you directly back to this item in OneNote. Or you can right click the flag in OneNote to open the matching task in Outlook.
  7. I add hierarchy to the task list and manage the structure and priorities of my tasks in OneNote by indenting lines. Or change order and priorities by moving things up and down. Alt-Shift + left arrow, right arrow, up arrow, or down arrow are great keyboard shortcuts for doing this easily and quickly.
  8. I manage my time on the Outlook calendar. The tasks show up in the "task well" below each day on the calendar. I can drag the task onto a slot on the calendar to schedule it. I can drag it out to a different day if I want to defer it. This is very quick time management.

Though I often add tasks in OneNote (which then sync to Outlook) I’ve not moved my task creation “center of gravity” to OneNote, nor did I ever think I might.  I’m going to give this some thought though.  I use OneNote for my “Getting Things Done” system, so all my project files are there.  It would be only a slight shift to do my task creation there as well.


Anyone else have any experience with doing this?  I picked up two other tips as well.  The first was that you can use “Alt-Shift+arrow” for moving items around on the page.  That’s pretty sweet and great for re-ordering lists, tasks or whatever.  The second was using the new hyper links in OneNote to create a keyboard shortcut.  I’m still trying to get my mind around the fact that OneNote uses “usable” hyper links.  I hadn’t mentally extended that to creating desktop shortcuts or keyboard Ctrl-Alt-shortcuts. 


I hope David keeps blogging!  If the first two posts are any indication, it’ll be worth reading.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Oh, for the difference a preposition makes

I’d seen this story in the different paper so I knew what the headline meant, but this is what I saw this morning:


What is missing is the “at.”  That is, “Two British tourists shot at in Kosovo”  It seems a couple of brits were wandering around western Kosovo in a car with Belgrade license plates on it.  Their car got shot at, but they were unhurt.

I too “condemn” the shooting, but somewhere there is a friend or tour guide that needs a good thrashing.  They sent these two out into the wild country with a big sign saying, “Shoot me first” plastered across their car.   Dumb.

It’s the little things in life that make the difference…like a missing preposition or the wrong license plate in the wrong place.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Doing it their way

Sometimes it’s challenging being an American.  We’re almost hard-wired to think we know the best way to do everything.

In a couple of weeks we’re going to  have some visitors, a group of 15 high-school students and their adult leaders.  While here they’re going to be doing a children’s program, an high-school cultural exchange thing and they’re going to be serving the community by helping to clean a stretch of trash-filled river.

I’ve never cleaned a river in my life, and I’ve never been a professional trash-picker-upper…but I’ve seen a lot of them on TV and hence my confidence about what kind of tools are necessary.  And so I issued forth instructions to my faithful friend and co-worker, Kadir, a very faithful, but very poor man from a village near-by.

I explained to Kadir exactly what I wanted…the classic wooden stick with a nail on one end whereby trash may be spike and bagged without bending over.  Kadir looked around town, but couldn’t find anything.  He suggested he find some re-bar, cut it to length and bend a hook on one end.  Then he’d put some hose over the hook to protect the sensitive American hands and grind a sharp point on the other end for the easy impalement of garbage.

I was skeptical about this design.  Re-bar?  A hook on one end?  But, after some thought I leaned back on my instincts and thought to myself, “I’ve delegated the job to him, he knows what we’re trying to do…let him do it his way.”

I’m really glad I did.  As he cranked out 15 of these pieces it occurred to me that the design is simple genius.  We’re going to be working in a river bank.  A hook is going to be perfect, not only as an aid to climbing in and out of said river, but also for grabbing trash, tires and junk just out of reach.

I’m a little embarrassed that I was resistant…and am glad I let him do it his way.  Quite often I discover that my national co-workers know far better than I do exactly what will work and what won’t. 


Thursday, June 15, 2006

My short article on

The great guys over at invited me to contribute an article on living in ink as missioanry.  If you’re interested, check it out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Picasa Web Album

Google project manager Adrian Graham wrote about yet another Google beta-product a couple of days ago.  Called Picasa Web Albums, it allows you to seemlessly upload and share your photos from your computer. 

Picasa is a great, free, desktop photo managemeant tool from Google but has long lacked the ability to upload to Flickr or other online social photo-sharing services.  Picasa Web Albums will give you 250 MB of storage for your photos, with additional upgrades available.  Sample albums are available here but there doesn’t seem much in the way of tagging or sharing available yet.  On the other hand, there aren’t any ads either.

This is an interesting offering, especially given what we’re reading about Google fatigue lately.  I think it actually answers a need in to the Google product line.  Of course, I’d much rather Picasa just plug into Flickr, but with Flickr owned by Yahoo, that’s probably not too likely.

Right now PWA is by invitation only (I don’t have one) but more news should be out soon.

More free ebooks

Since there isn’t a local English book retailer where I live, I read a fair amount of ebooks and I’m always on the lookout for free ones.  If that’s you, check on  These days most of the free ebook sites I see have the same collection of public domain titles.  This one has a lot I’ve never seen, or never noticed.  Of couse, with almost 14,000 titles, it’s hard to tell. 

Via GottaBeMobile