Monday, December 31, 2007

Travel Tips: TSA limits lithium batteries on flights

If you're traveling after Jan 1st, you should be aware of new TSA guidelines on the your spare laptop batteries.  TSA guidelines now stipulate that

  1. You may not pack spare lithium batteries in checked luggage
  2. You may pack devices with installed lithium batteries in checked luggage
  3. You may carry spare lithium batteries in carry-on luggage
  4. You may bring lithium batteries installed in a device
  5. You can bring lithium ion batteries installed in a device that are up to 8 grams of equivalent lithium content
  6. You can bring up to two spare lithium ion batteries with an aggregate of 25 grams of equivalent lithium content.
  7. Lithium metal batteries, whether installed or carried as spares, are limited to 2 grams of lithium each.

I took this from Web Worker Daily and some comments are pretty funny.  One commenter was re-screened three times as TSA personnel resolutely tried to figure out what the plastic box in his carry on was (it was his laptop charger) :)  Who knows how they'll figure out how many grams of lithium you have on you!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Free Group of David Allen GTD Articles

If your New Year's Resolution impulse is cranking up (I resolutely suppress mine) you may find these free article offer grist for the mill.

    • 5 Phases
    • Stalking the Wild Projects
    • Palm
    • Are You Micro-Managing Your Mind?
    • The Weekly Review
    • The Coach as Personal Trainer
    • The Threefold Nature of Work
    • Make It Up and Make It Happen
    • Organizing a Paper Organizer
    • The Productivity Investments
    • General Reference Filing
    • The Tickler File
    • Overtime... All the Time
    • Managing Work on a Vacation
    • Personal Inventory Control
    • Workflow Diagram
    • Workflow Advanced

They are available here as a .zip file.

via LifeHacker

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Facebook adds 'Friends List"

Facebook just rolled out a new feature: Friend's lists.


Right now there doesn't seem to be a lot of functionality built into the change.  It appears that right now you're only given the ability to message a list.  You cannot, for example, restrict a video to a group of friends.

I'm sure FB will be adding this kind of function....but it's STILL not here yet.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nice upgrade to DocSyncer

Last week I wrote about a nice new service called DocSyncer, which synchronizes your desktop docs with your Google Docs account.  Yesterday they announced a much needed, and appreciated, upgrade.  With the new version you can:

  • Open desktop docs right into GDocs through a file association.
  • Open files on your desktop through the your browser.
  • find support for RTF, TXT, CSV, and HTML as well as the ability to turn off certain file types. 
  • Change your Google Docs account
  • Edit which folders are included in the synchronization

They're also working on:

    • Google Apps for Your Domain support.  We hear you and it's coming soon!
    • Google Docs Folder Support - Through Google's API, we have no way to assign documents to folders.  We'd very much like to do this so your Google Docs account is just as organized as your computer.  We're trying to work with Google to add support soon.

This is a great set of new features and answers some of the issues I have with DocSyncer.  I'm happy to hear, for example, that they're working on syncing folders with GDocs and allowing users to choose which folders are synced.  Great move DocSyncer!

Friday, December 07, 2007

DocSyncer: Keeping your docs where ever you are

docsyncerlogo I'm all for online document applications like Zoho and Google Apps, but they have one big drawback: you have to upload your docs and you risk creating various versions between your desktop and the "cloud".  Zoho has taken a step in the right direction by utilizing Google Gears.  Now you can work with your documents on-line or off (I wrote about two of those last week). 

But about a month ago a new service, called DocSyncer was reviewed on TechCrunch.  A limited beta was announced at the time and I just received my invite.  DocSyncer offers a lot of promise.  Simply, it claims to "Syncronize your Microsoft Office Documents with your Google Docs account."  From TechCrunch:

“DocSyncer is always sitting in the background,” explains founder Cliff Shaw, “watching for new documents. When something is added, it’s immediately synced up to our online viewer and Google Docs.”

It actually delivers on that...mostly.  Setting it up is simple.  After creating your account you're immediately taken to a Google Docs screen, asking you to authenticate access to your GDocs account.


After you've approved access you download a Desktop application which does all the heavy lifting.  The DocSyncer app lives in the system tray and keeps your documents synchronized in the background.

Nothing appears to happen on the desktop side of things, but DocSyncer keeps track of what's happening on their web interface.  This window shows the directory structure replicated on the left and a directory's contents on the right.  It also shows the status of remaining documents to be uploaded


The DocSyncer website shows all of your documents' status, but they actually are hosted with your GDocs account.  This is where the "beta nature" of DocSyncer begins to show.  The pic above shows the DocSyncer window.  It looks beautiful.  Here's my GDocs Windows:


The GDocs window is not nearly as attractive...or usable.  I'm inclined to think that this is an issue with GDocs and the way it organizes documents.  While DocSyncer clearly understands my file structure, GDocs is completely oblivious to how I organize my stuff.  The file structure isn't duplicated  at all, and all I end up with is a long list of file organized, not by creation date, but by upload date.

My other observation is the speed at which files are uploaded.  The DocSyncer applet has been running for a couple of days in the background, and I still don't have anywhere near all of my docs uploaded.

The application is still in beta, and I see lots of potential in this service.  This is the missing link.  If I could keep all my documents synchronized between my desktop and the Google cloud I could forgive GDocs for its horrible formatting.

Office 2.0 Database - calc5

Ismael Ghalimi compiled a great round of of "web 2.0" applications.  He's grouped them by categories: bookmarking, calendar, contacts, CRM, database, desktop, document management, etc.  Then he's listed his primary app and secondary/alternative apps.  This is a great list to bookmark.

via Scobleizer

Monday, December 03, 2007

Marc Orchant Suffers Massive Coronary

While sitting on my couch reading through my feeds I learned that Marc Orchant suffered a massive heart attach yesterday morning (Sunday) in his home.

At some time between 7:30 and 8:10 AM on Sunday Morning December 2nd, 2007, Marc Orchant, my fellow author on this blog, as well as one of my closest friends sustained a massive heart attack while working in his home office. At this time Marc is in critical condition at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Critical Cardiac Care Unit, Bed 3. He is not expected to regain consciousness for the next 24 to 48 hours.

I've never met Marc personally, but have followed his work for some time.  I first "met" him through 1src, a site dedicated to fans of the Sony CLIE PalmOS devices, several years ago. 

Please pray for his recovery!

via blognation USA

Blogs in Plain English

Another great "in Plan English" video from the LeFevers. These videos work great in presentations.  They really help people understand some of this plain English.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Twitter Toolset: 50+ Guides, Hacks, and Scripts

 Great set of Twitter tools at Visual  They just missed Snitter and OutBin, both of which I think are worth a look.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Online or off, Zoho Writer helps you get it done

Last week I was working on a learning contract for an intern due here next year.  I'm in Kosovo and he's in the US.  So I needed to use an online document collaboration tool so that we could work on the document together. Since our team has uses Google Apps on our domain, I naturally reached for Google Docs.  I uploaded my doc and took a quick look prior to sending the invites.  It looked horrible.

I was really surprised.  The document wasn't particularly complex. There were no any tables or complex formatting.  There were only a few things formatted with tabs.  The document just wasn't usable the way it appeared.  So I moved to what I thought was the second string...Zoho.  The document uploaded in a snap and looked fine.

About the same time I learned that Zoho now offers the ability to work with your documents both online and offline.  Thanks to their integration with Google Gears, you can now take your online documents with you. 

This video explains it well.

If you want to read more check out:




Digital Inspiration


Zoho is no longer second string in my book.  It's a first class tool that eclipses Google Docs on a number of levels.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Free SnagIt and Camtasia Studio

SnagIt is a great screen capture utility that I've long wanted to buy.  The problem was, it's just too expensive.  TechSmith, the developer, is now offering free, back versions of both SnagIt and Camtasia Studio (their screencasting software).  The hope is that, having used the apps, you'll want to upgrade to the current version for half price.  It's a great bargain.

How to you get them?


  • Step One: Download it here.
  • Step Two: Visit the TechSmith website here and request a registration key.

Camtasia Studio

  • Step One: Download it here
  • Step Two: Request your registration key here.

Both of these are great applications.  The retail value for the current version of Camtasia Studio is $300.

via Digital Inspiration

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Story telling: VuVox rolling out powerful tools

Missionaries have been taking photographs to tell their stories as long as there have been cameras.  The advent of digital photography and the Internet brings those images into people's homes almost instantly.  And yet, in many ways, they are just an extension of the classic rotary-magazine, Kodak slide projector.

One company that is offering to change that is VuVox.  VuVox brings some great tools to the table, one of which is still in private beta.  Their goal is to expand and extend the content that you may have already gathered.  That content might be photos, videos, music, text or whatever. VuVox helps you create and publish interesting, interactive presentations of that content.

Their simplest tool makes creating interesting slide shows a snap.  In fact, I made the below show in about 5 minutes with their Express option. 

First, VuVox allows you to tap into your existing content either online or on your desktop.  You can tap into your Flickr, Picasa, Facebook or any RSS photostream for images.  I went to one of my Flickr tags and copied its RSS feed.  Then I pasted that into the VuVox express input box and selected a style.  It generated a slide show based on the feed and the options I selected.  Once you've created your slide show you're given the options of emailing it, embedding it or getting a permanent HTML link.  I was having so much fun that I created a slightly different style and embedded it on the front page of my website.

But VuVox also has more powerful tools to offer. Another tool is called "Collage," still in private Beta.  Collage was developed with photojournalists in mind to help tell their stories.  I could explain it, but Dane Howard, CEO of VuVox does it much better.  Check out the below interview with Robert Scoble.

If you don't have time for the interview, at least look at this collage from the San Jose Mercury News.  It was created to tell the story of small-town Willow Glen.  Within the collage you notice embedded audio, video, HTML links and text on various hotspots created. If you want to see how Mercury News photojournalist Richard Hernandez did it, look here.

Imagine telling your ministry story with a tool like that!  Since it's all created with Flash, you could embed it in your blog or web site, or even use it in a table-top kiosk on a speaking tour.  With tools like this you can create powerful presentations that can be taken almost anywhere.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Can people listen to your Skype call: Skype Encryption

Our organization, at least on a field level, really depends a great deal on Skype for cheap communication.  But occasionally people ask,  "how secure are our conversations."  Of course, none of us are chatting about nuclear launch codes, but we do transmit information that's not for public consumption.

I long ago read that Skype data is encrypted, but I never really knew how well.  Now German Federal Police are complaining that it's too good:

“The encryption with Skype telephone software … creates grave difficulties for us,” said Joerg Ziercke, president of Germany’s Federal Police Office (BKA)

Sorry about the grave difficulties, but I'd prefer that no one listen over my shoulder.  Can people listen in on your Skype call?  Nope. 

via Mashable

Monday, November 12, 2007

Arrange your labels in Gmail as a hierarchy of folders.

 I've been trying to learn the ins-and-outs of Gmail's IMAP service over the last week or so.  One of the things I really like is the ability to replicate the Outlook folder structure with Gmail's label structure.

I've learned that dragging an email to a folder within Outlook, for example, won't create the label in Gmail.  You have to create those by hand.  This isn't so great, but the ability to "nest" labels is pretty cool.  Arend v. Reinersdorff has a great description of the process, including links to greasemonkey scripts to bring it all together.

Narrowly escaping being stuck in my inbox

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned using OutTwit as a great way to simultaneously update status to both Twitter and Facebook from an application that's always open on my desk--Outlook.  But I saw danger coming as I started using it.  I should have mentioned the risks involved to you....but didn't.

image Here's the risk: spending more time in the "mail view" of Outlook than is necessary (view at right).  Here's the problem: email is not my just contains some of my work.  My work is on my to-do list, or next action list.  Looking at this view all the time prevents me from looking at my list of next actions.

image The most productive way to use Outlook is for this to be your default view.  In this view my calendar is displayed on the left (the "hard landscape" for you GTDers) while my list of next actions is on the right.  With this view I always know what is going to happen next or what I should be doing next.  I've configured Outlook to open in this view when it starts.

For many years the first view, the mail view, was my default view.  It's counter-productive.  By adding OutTwit to my mix, I was regularly going back to, or staying in, the mail view to check out the latest tweets.  Bad idea.  I got rid of NewsGator Inbox, a great program, for the same reason.  I wrote about that here.  So rather than using Twitter in Outlook, I've been using Snitter, a small Adobe AIR desktop client.  Moving Twitter outside my workflow keeps me from being distracted.

I find that I regularly have examine my whole set-up pretty ruthlessly.  I have to clean the cruft out of my system to keep on moving.  Have you looked at your "work-flow" recently and eliminated (or moved, in my case) the distractions that slow you down?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Windows Live Writer: Out of Beta

 Congrats to the Live Writer team.  Windows Live Writer is out of beta and has been released as Windows Live Writer 2008.  WLV is a great off-line blog post editor that I've written about it here, here and here

Writer Zone: Windows Live Writer: Out of Beta

Friday, November 02, 2007

OpenSocial is now live on Plaxo Pulse

Plaxo has just announced that OpenSocial is live at Plaxo Pulse.     They say it's still in version 0.5 and so bumps are expected.  Last week's announcement of the Plaxo lifes-tream widget was just a small component of this growing OpenSocial movement.

In addition, we've built OpenSocial gadget support into our new Dynamic Profiles feature, which means just as you can now show a separate profile (photo, bio, contact info, interests, etc.) to your business contacts and your friends, you can also add gadgets separately to your professional and personal profiles, and also control which sets of contacts see the activity streams from those gadgets. So if you just want to emote with your friends and not your business colleagues, now you can!

If Plaxo is already leveraging this API to allow the differentiation of contact information in its first iteration, we're going to see a lot of people moving into this space.  That is precisely the issue many have had with Facebook: you can't differentiate between your contacts.

This is going to be an interesting week.

Social Networking "standard" announced: OpenSocial

Google and MySpace announced yesterday the release of an "OpenSocial" architecture that allows developers to write social networking application once, and have them work across numerous SN sites, even your own blog.  From the press release:

“MySpace, the world’s largest social network, and Google, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced that they are joining forces to launch OpenSocial— a set of common APIs for building social applications across the web. The partnership spearheads an initiative to standardize and simplify the development of social applications. Today’s announcement underscores MySpace’s commitment to supporting standards that foster innovation in an increasingly social Web.”

OpenSocial partners include MySpace, Hi5, Orkut, LinkedIn, Plaxo and others representing hundreds of thousands of unique visitors per month.  This is a big deal for Facebook.  Look at this chart comparing the potential aggregate visits from the OpenSocial partnership versus Facebook:

What does this mean for you?  All the information about your favorite books and movie, photos, Zombies, friends lists, etc., will replicate through the OpenSocial network.  Enter it in LinkedIn and it will show up on your Orkut profile as well.  You'll apparently be able to drop widgets on your web page or blog to display the same information.

Interestingly, the first place I saw the news breaking of the official release was through Twitter, as Robert Scoble was live tweeting from the press conference.

via Techcrunch and again,  Mashable and a elsewhere

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scoble Video: explaining RSS and feed readers


Robert Scoble posted a great video with Eric Englemann, general manager of Bloglines.

I can't imagine how I would keep up with all of the things I'm interested in without a feed reader.  Having converted from NewsGator to Google Reader I can't imagine how people can live without them.

This summer I set my mother up with a GMail account so she could use Reader to track the her favorite blogs.  She's never looked back.  Explaining RSS isn't always easy.  This video does a pretty good job, even if it's couched in a very geeky context.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Moo now offers postcards...great for notes back home

I've enjoyed the quality and versatility of Moo cards.  I first imagewrote about them here, last September.  In brief, Moo is a "print on demand" service.  From the Moo website you can bring in your photos from Flickr, Facebook or your own computer and receive high quality, inexpensive cards back very quickly.

In May I ordered and used a two hundred for a national conference.  My wife did the layout of three different pictures from Kosovo, each representing a different theme.  On the back we had printed a number of prayer requests for each theme.  We handed out these beautiful little cards (28 mm x70 mm) as reminders to friends and acquaintances. 

Moo just added post cards to their line-up too.  I regularly use post cards as thank you notes and reminders.  They're much cheaper to mail than a regular card, and include a picture of the country in which I live.  The downside is that the local post card pictures are usually very lame.  I might just order a batch of Moo Post Cards from my own Flickr feed!

via Download Squad

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Consumer Trends in Social Networking

I think that most Americans believe that Social Networking is a North American phenomenon.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  According to comScore the Asia/Pacific region is growing at nearly three times the rate of North America.  Europe, a more comparable North American demographic, is growing at nearly twice the rate.

Social Networking sites and tools are a growing global phenomenon.  While the current batch of "biggies" (FB, MySpace, Orkut, M5, etc) will certainly change with time, it's clear that the phenomenon will have a long (and wide) tail.


HT Mashable

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

GMail adding IMAP support?

Everyone is a-buzz this morning with the news that GMail may be adding support for IMAP.  There are two main ways you get email off of  (or out of?) the Internet and into your email program: POP and IMAP.  POP is by far the most common for average folks like you and me.  But IMAP has some powerful features that may be important for you.

Among other things, IMAP support lets you synchronize your email between computers, handhelds and the web. Mark a message read on one computer, and it will show up as read on another.  Move a email folder from one place to another and it will replicate on another.

It appears as though GMail is adding this functionality.  Here's a screen shot from DownloadSquad

Read more from these guys: Mashable and DownloadSquad

Getting Things Done Intro video

David Allen is the creator of the "Getting Things Done" productivity model.  If you're still struggling with how to organize your stuff this five minute video will give you an taste of what the GTD methodology looks like.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kawasaki Interview with Chris Brogan

Guy Kawasaki posts one his "ten questions"  series with Chris Brogan, social media guru.  Most of the Q's/A's revolve around the use of Twitter as a social networking tool.

It's worth a quick read if you're still trying to figure out what Twitter is and why you should care.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Frequent trawlers, let someone else put together the details

If you're a frequent traveler you may find TripIt just the thing for those missionary speaking tours. TechCrunch has a good write up on it:

It’s dead simple to use and it keeps you organized - all you have to do is forward confirmation emails to them when you purchase airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals, etc. Tripit pulls the relevant information out of the emails and builds an organized itinerary for you. You can send emails in any order, for multiple trips, whatever. It just figures everything out and organizes it.

I don't do that much regular travel now that I'm back in Kosovo, but this would have been handy while on speaking tours last year.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

From Pownce back to Twitter, through Facebook

It's a little difficult to keep up with all the status-updater/micro-blogger type of apps (Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, etc).  What's worse, until recently, Facebook was disconnected from all of them, requiring its own periodic attention.

My own understanding of the utility of micro-blogging is still in development.  But unfortunately, to know how to apply the app, one must use it regularly to see how it fits into his work flow.

After playing with Twitter some, and having few friends "tweet," I moved on to Pownce.  In comparing the two I actually came out in favor in Pownce back in July.  Pownce actually has a more powerful feature set.  But the usability of a social networking application sometimes has less to do with its features and more do to with its interconnectivity and the social cloud around it.  In other words, if it doesn't connect to anything, and/or your friends don't use it, it's pointless.

I still don't have many close friends "tweet-ing", but I do have quite a lot of friends on Facebook.  And so I've been doing most of my status-updating there.  Also, both Pownce and Twitter have released Facebook apps that offer functionality from within Facebook.  I dutifully installed both of those apps, but still knew something was missing.

Then I learned that the Facebook status messaging is also available in an RSS feed.  So in an attempt to keep all my status-messaging synced, I added the FB feed to Pownce and then, using Yahoo Pipes and TwitterFeed, fed it all into Twitter.  Actually, I'm not sure how I built this house-of-messaging-cards, but it did work, though teeteringly so.

Recently two developments have sorted it all out for me:

  1. The FaceBook Twitter app added the ability to set Facebook status through Twitter.  That is, tweet in Twitter and it shows up as your Facebook status. 
  2. The creative folks at TechHit created a little app called OutTwit.  From their website: "Now you can update your Twitter status and follow your friends without having to open any other applications. OutTwit seamlessly integrates Twitter into Outlook." 

These two developments have me sold (again? temporarily?) on Twitter.  The first means that I don't have to have FB open to update my status.  it also means I can update my status in one place and have it reliably replicate elsewhere.  The second mean that I can both tweet and follow fellow Twitterers in the one application that is always open on my desktop.

And so the experiment continues.  Though I keep reading blog articles (like this one) trumpeting the productivity or business uses for Twitter (or micro-blogging in general), I've yet to find its niche in my life.  Closer integration into FB and the OutTwit plug-in bring it close to ubiquity.




Then I found an Outlook plug-in for Twitter, called OutTwit via Mashable

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Google releases Powerpoint app: Presently


There have been persistent rumors over the last week that Google was going to release the final component of their online office application suite, a slide show application.

When I checked my feed reader this morning the news was all over the place.  Then when I checked my Google Docs page this morning, I saw a new option: New Presentation. 

Here's the bottom line for me: The biggest upside is the ability to collaborate with a co-worker on a deck of slides.  The downside is that it is not nearly as full-featured as the "real deal" from MS.  Still, it's a great addition. 

You can read more at TechCrunch, Mashable, Mashable again and DownloadSquad.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Apple store opens in Prishtina, Kosovo

I saw the billboards last week.  Apple was coming to Prishtina, Kosovo's capital.  This week I stumbled by it look for a Ministry building (Molla is the Albanian word for "Apple".  I went inside and took a quick peak.  There's not much in there yet, some iPods (nanos and shuffles) and a few Macs.  The helpful salesguy was quick to tell me that they were getting shipment in this week. 


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Google adds 54 new countries to maps

Hey, I'm back in Kosovo and trying to get back up to speed on my blogging.  Google Maps added 54 new countries to its all-seeing offerings Thursday.  Here's the full list of new countries:

Afghanistan, Aruba, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Bermuda, Brunei Darussalam, Bhutan, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Mongolia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Timor-Leste, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen

This is great news, not just for pure joy of mapping, but also for all the derived products like Gmaps Pedometer, a handy distance measuring web app.  Now you can calculate how far you have to walk to the market in 54 new countries!  Writing prayer letters has never been more precise :)


via Mashable

Thursday, September 13, 2007

International Saber-rattling heats up

Over the last few weeks the tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have been ratcheting up.  Today the US State Department responded to hints from Belgrade that it might use force if Kosovo declares its independence.  Turkish Weekly (quoting VOA news)reports:

 The State Department said Thursday it is seeking clarification from Belgrade after a Serbian official said that country might use force to prevent independence for Kosovo. Talks on Kosovo resume later this month in New York, with a December deadline set by the United Nations looming. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

The State Department is criticizing as "inflammatory and unfortunate" a remark by Serbia's top official for Kosovo that Belgrade might respond militarily to an independence move by the U.N.-administered Serbian province.

Local papers are also reporting that Albania has promised aid in the event of a Serbian military intervention.  NATO spokesmen are also quoted as saying Serbian military and police will not be allowed access to Kosovo territory.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Creating a Universal Wireless Repeater

Everyone once in a while I need to extend an wireless network.  I may be traveling and need to amplify an open wi-fi network.  I may need some additional range at home in some dark corner of my garage or workshop.

Creating a "Universal Wireless Repeater (UWR) is simple.  You only need two things:

  1. an off the shelf wireless router/access-point you may already own
  2. a copy of DD-WRT software (specifically v24 beta). I first mentioned dd-wrt here last fall where I took a $50 Linksys router and made it oh so much better.

A couple of weeks ago I followed the same process to create a UWR using the new v24 beta version of the same DD-WRT firmware.  The UWR is "a device that you can place anywhere and it will wirelessly repeat the strongest signal, onto another wireless network (with or without security)."  Great!! Who doesn't need to do that occasionally?

This time I used a Buffalo wireless router that I bought for $25!  (Incidentally, this same router is available again for $25 here.)  Once you've upload the firmware (being careful not to brick your new router, the whole process takes about 10 minutes.

If you have an old wi-fi router laying around, give it a try!  The instructions are here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Getting data out of Facebook: Broadcast your Facebook status as RSS

There has been a fair amount of talk lately about the "walled garden" nature of Facebook.  It is, as some have said, the data roach motel...your data goes in, but it never comes out.  For the most part, that's a valid criticism. 

The first hack I've seen for getting data out of the roach motel is over at the "Internet Duct Tape" blog.  Facebook apparently provides an RSS feed for your status, but it's not easy to find and it's not formatted well.  This hack will help you find your status feed, wash it through Yahoo Pipes for formatting reason and come out with a RSS feed that can be added to Twitter or a blog side bar.

It's pretty slick and the first method I've seen for getting anything out of Facebook.


Technorati Tags: , ,

Thursday, August 09, 2007

What's social bookmarking? Another great video explanation

It's no secret that I'm a fan of social bookmarking services, especially  But these social applications are sometimes difficult to explain.  Lee Lefever has done another of his "in plain English" videos.  This time he explaining how works, which I've written about here and here

If you're already a user and a geekish missionary, add me to your network!  I'm here!  I'd love to better leverage the social aspect of our bookmarks!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Once we pointed to the transcendent, now we point to our loss.

Wired Magazine has an interesting write up on the new stained-glass windows at Germany's Cologne Cathedral. 

Blood-spurting martyrs, biblical parables, ascendant doves — most church windows feature the same preachy images that have awed parishioners for centuries. But a new stained-glass window in Germany's Cologne Cathedral, to be completed in August, evokes technology and science, not religion and the divine.

Stained glass windows used to present biblical narratives and church lessons to help instruct the illiterate and remind people of God.  Now, in Germany, they're being used to point people to technology.

Where once they pointed people to transcendent, eternal realities, now they point people to time-based technologies that may be obsolete before the glass is even completed.  It's pretty sad, but this has always been humanity's tendency: to replace the Creator with the Created.  One might hope, however, that it is not the church that is leading the way.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Using OneNote for academic journal reading

We all believe that "sharpening the saw" is important, but it's not always easy to do when we're out in the weeds of our respective countries.  It's important to keep reading widely when we're on our fields but it's not always easy to keep up with our professional reading.  Mail service is slow, if it exists at all.  Periodicals are expensive and have to be packed or moved every four years or so.

I've found that using Microsoft's OneNote is fantastic way to read academic journals.  It allows me to:

  • build a great library of articles where they're easily accessible
  • highlight and comment as I'm reading
  • do searches throughout my library
  • email particularly interesting articles to my colleagues...with my annotations

Here's how I use OneNote in five simple steps:

imageStep One: Let's use Evangelical Missions Quarterly as an example.  I navigate to EMQ and log in.  EMQ is a subscription-based site.  An online subscription costs about fourteen dollars a year, which is pretty cheap.

imageStep two: Select the articles I want to read.  I do this in Firefox and just ctrl-click on all the articles that interest me; this opens each article in a separate tab.  In the past I felt like I hadn't "read the journal" until I'd read everything, including letters to the editor and book reviews.  Don't get into that trap.  Read what interests you or what you feel like would be profitable. 

image Step Three: I go to OneNote and create a "section" for this quarter's issue.  You'll see here that my EMQ folder has a section for various editions back through January of 1998.  Filing articles this way makes it very easy to search back through an edition and keeps things orderly.  You could just as easily keep them in one large notebook however.  I've only been downloading EMQ like this for a year or so, but my library is growing back to 1998.  As articles I'm reading refer to previous articles, I simply download them and include them in my library. 


Step Four: I print each article onto a separate page on the section.  OneNote comes with a built in printer driver, which makes this very easy.  Each article has a separate page in the section, and each issue a separate section in the notebook.  This makes it very easy to "thumb through" various issues and articles.


imageStep Five: I read, highlight and annotate the articles to my hearts content.  I can even hyperlink between articles, which is great if one article interacts a lot with another.  OneNote does not  require that you have a TabletPC, though the tablet some functionality comes in handy and makes a very natural reading and annotating platform.

image Other Great Stuff: One of the most powerful ways to leverage this approach is with OneNote's excellent search capability.  When material is "printed" into OneNote it's automatically OCR'd (optical character recognition).  This means that OneNote makes all the text and graphics searchable.

Take for example the word, "Partnership."  I enter it in the search box and almost immediately get the results back from my EMQ "library".  In the articles I've archived there are 15 that mention "partnership" and I can easily go to them by clicking on the links.  When I go there all of my previous comments and annotations are there to refresh my memory.

OneNote also has very useful email capabilities built in.  Sometimes I run across an article that may be interesting to a team mate or colleague. 


With one click OneNote formats an email with the page in the body and a OneNote file attached.  You don't have to have OneNote installed on your computer to be able to receive either the article or the annotations.  Both come and are rendered as HTML in your email.  If you do have OneNote installed you have access to the core file and it can be added to your own files.

In summary, OneNote is a fantastic tool for maintaining a library of academic journal articles, especially when you can only get them electronically . 


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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

GrandCentral: one ring to bind them all

It's taken me a few days to figure out how to explain this, but after using GrandCentral for about a week I think you may find that this is a must-have app.


GrandCentral is a service that offers you a normal, but special, phone number in the area code of your choice.  You can then link all of your other phones to this number.  When someone calls your GrandCentral number all of your linked phones ring (depending on how you set it up, see pic below).  It also creates a unified voice mail system which can be accessed over any of your phones or through a web interface.

This has come in very handy recently as we've been moving around in preparation for returning to the country in which we work.  First I set up GC to ring my home number and my cell phone.  Then when people called my GC number both phones rang and I was able to pick up either one.  Over the last several days we've been moving into my mom's house for a few weeks before flying out of the country.  When we made the move to "mom's", I added her number to my GC profile.  Now when my friends call MY SAME NUMBER, my home phone, my mom's phone and my cell phone ring. 


Yesterday one of the pastors from our church wanted to return a call I put in to him.  He had no idea where I was.  I might have been in our old house packing.  I might have been on the road or even at my mom's.  But it didn't matter because he called my GC number; GC makes it irrelevant.  His comment after I explained the service to him?  "Man, this is the phone I've always wanted...isn't this what everyone wants?" Okay, okay, I see you waving your hand, "Ya, but

image he could have just called your cell phone, which you always have with you!"  Yes, that's true.  But first, I don't always want to talk on my cell phone and two, GC also handles all my voice mail.  I don't have to check my cell phone's voice mail and my home phone's voice mail, etc.

The idea behind GrandCentral who's motto is, "one phone number for life."   Right now GC doesn't handle international calls, but they claim they may add that in the future.  I could, however, connect GC to a SkypeIn number and truly have one phone number for life.  You can read more here, here

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tricking out Google Reader...more Greasemonkey goodness.

 LifeHacker just pointed to a great collection of fifteen Google Reader customizations that have taken care of my last remaining gripes with the feed reader.

I wrote a couple of days ago about adding a search box to Google Reader (which is one of the fifteen).  But from the fifteen remaining scripts in this great round-up, here are the three real life-savers.

imageGoogle Reader Preview Enhanced - This script allows you to see the original post in its original layout, complete with comments, from within Reader.  I like this because it saves me from loading up another tab to check on a posts comments.  Pretty slick!

Auto-add feed to Google Reader - This script skips the annoying option of whether you want to subscribe and add the feed to Google homepage or Google Reader.  This is dumb to me...of course I want to subscribe in Reader.  This script is a real time-saver.

image Google Reader + -

This is a real time-saver too...sort of.  Now you can save the current blog-post right to your account.  The script is still a little rough.  it doesn't add common tags for the post (unlike the Firefox extension) and you have to log-in to each time you tag something.  It's still easier than opening the original post in a new window, however.

Google Reader is just getting better and better.  Like with most things today, however, the developer community is ensuring that the product continues to develop.


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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Greasemonkey script adds search to Google Reader - Download Squad

About a month ago I wrote about my grand experiment of abandoning Newsgator for Google Reader.  I'm going to write a comparison later, but one of my beefs with Reader has been a lack of search functionality.  Others have commented on how odd this is for a product put out by Google.

Today DownloadSquad reported on a new GreaseMonkey script that adds search to Reader.  Install the script and suddenly you have a search box in Google Reader!  If you're not familiar with GreaseMonkey, it's the ginszu knife of FireFox customization.  It's a platform on which all manner of wonderful things occur in Firefox. 

Find GreaseMonkey here and the search box script here.


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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Books: An awesome shopping tool

Who doesn't love books?  Who can't afford all the books they'd like to read?  If you're serving in some far away place you probably order all your books online.  But Amazon doesn't always have the lowest price on your next great read.

bookprice Check out Booksprice  a handy book-seller comparison tool.  Enter your book's title, author or ISBN number and Booksprice will return a gazillion different purchasing options, all sorted by price. 

You'll see how Amazon compares with Barnes & Noble against Ebay and

Of course, you still have to have that friend or family member send your new book to you in the latest care package, but at least you got a great deal up front.

via DuctTapeMarketing

Saturday, July 14, 2007

How to: Writing thank you notes

Writing thank you notes is a lost art.  This was never more clear to me than a month or so ago.  A college student we know was preparing to go overseas for a summer ministry and sent us a letter requesting our prayer and financial support.  Since we believe in this student and their work, we sent off a check.  While we later got an updated support letter, we never got a thank you note.

I didn't really think any more about it until someone else mentioned getting a support letter from the same person and that they were wondering whether they should contribute.  Why was there an question?  Because that person had never received a thank you from previous years' support.  Years plural, not year.

That got me thinking again about a great podcast I listened to back in March.  Produced by my favorite management gurus Mike & Mark, they give some great guidelines for the lost art of thank you note writing.

Here are some key take-aways:

  1. Materials - Store bought is fine, but an upgrade is worth it.  Some people get hung up on the quality of the materials and never right the card.  They're afraid store bought cards aren't good enough.  WRITE THE CARD... with whatever you have!
  2. Only say "thank you" twice in the body of the note.
  3. Never ask a question or request a favor in a thank you note.  It completely negates the value of your note. Maybe this is obvious but it should be stated.
  4. It is never too late to write a "thank you".  It's never, never, never too late to send a thank you note.  The debt owed by a kindness never expires.
  5. Hand-written is always best, even if you're handwriting isn't good.
  6. If you're thanking someone for a financial gift, don't mention the amount in the thank you.  This makes the note about the money and not about the relationship.

What should you write in a thank you?  Here's a simple format to get you started.  It should generally be three paragraphs:

First paragraph: One sentence long where you say "thank you".  Like, "Thank you for your generous gift."  "Thank you for hosting us for dinner last night."

Second paragraph:  Two sentences written to personalize the note.  This communicates you've thought about the recipient and not sent them a templated note.  For example, "The steak was great and the company was better.  I'll always remember the jokes we shared."

Third paragraph: Simply restate your thanks in one sentence.  "Again, you have my thanks and best wishes" or "Again, I'm in your debt and look forward to returning the favor."

That's just a simple format that covers all the bases and gives you a structure on which to build.

Earlier in the year I had several lunches with a wealthy man who has contributed significantly to several organizations, including my own.  He shared with me that he had once contacted an agency and asked how much it took to support one missionary family for a year on the field.  When he got the answer he wrote a check to support a particular missionary with that organization.  Months and months went by and he never heard from either the organization or the supported missionary.  He never did.  And he never sent a check like that again.

He told me, I didn't want a plaque, I didn't want a big thing made out of my gift.  I really just wanted some feedback that the gift had arrived and had the intended effect.

Missionaries, by virtue of their calling, often find themselves on the receiving end of things.  Their lives and work depend on the graciousness and generosity of others.  Let's make sure we're equally as gracious in thanking the people who make our work possible.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Language Learning Tools: Audio editing software

Language learning is one of the tasks most missionaries have to gut out.  Contrary to American television shows, it takes years of study to become fluent in a second language...especially for Americans!  Recording and reviewing audio "texts" is a regularly used golf club in every language learner's bag.  We all probably have tapes, CDs and MP3s lying around unused.  So whether you want to convert those old cassette tapes to MP3s or edit that language-helper study session you need audio editing software to make it easy.

When we first went to Kosovo I took an MP3 recorder and regularly recorded conversations, prayers & songs during church, and even the morning TV news.  At the time, the only product that I found for editing these samples was called "Cool Edit 2000."  Cool Edit eventually got bought by Adobe and has been released as Adobe Audition.

But like you, I like free applications best!  So long ago I found Audacity for editing audio files. In May the developers released version 1.3 which adds a couple of nice features,

  • Import Quicktime files in OSX (mov, aac, m4a)
  • Add metadata to OGG files
  • Improved export option selection
  • EQ and effects improvements
  • Screen capture utility
  • Improved spectrogram rendering
  • Selection bar improvements
  • New features for label tracks
  • Auto-save and crash recovery
  • Collapse and expand tracks
  • Multiple clips per track
  • Open multiple projects at once form Windows Explorer

Reaper is another nice-looking audio editing application.  I haven't used it personally, but the feature set looks nice.  Reaper is developed by the same guy that created WinAmp and has a lot of the features found in more expensive editing packages.

Though it's not free ($40) it has a lot of nice features, including the ability to decode the audio from AVI, WMV, MPG and MOV video files.  That's a nice feature if you have language resources on video and want to extract the audio out for study purposes.

I'm sure there are other products available out there as well, but these are two that I don't think will let you down for editing and combining language study audio materials.


via DownloadSquad

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Your Address, Their Apps: Using GoogleApps for your email, chat, docs and more

Many of us may already use Gmail, the simple yet powerful web-based email application.   Many of us have also set up our own domains for our organizations, teams or families.  I never realized how easy it is to put the two together with GoogleApps.

GoogleApps is a Google product that lets you or your organization essentially use and re-brand Google products.  That is, you can use Google's GMail or Docs & Spreadsheets application with your own domain name (

A couple of weeks ago Scott Hanselman wrote "the definitive guide" using GoogleApps in a way I could finally understand.  Though GoogleApps has been around for a while, I just didn't get it.  Now I do and it is sweet.

A while back I finally broke down and registered my own name as a domain.  There's a little background to this, but I wanted one semi-easy-to-remember place to find information about us and our work in Kosovo.  I created a site with SiteKreator, a fantastic and easy to use site creation tool, and that was that.  But I never thought about coupling it up with email because Sitekreator created sites are hosted at SiteKreator.  It wasn't obvious to me how to use someone else's mail servers for my own nefarious ends.

Twenty minutes after reading Scott's post, I had set up Jeff@ as a new email address.  Now I can go to and read my mail on the web, and can go to for all my online documents (while GoogleApps provides more services, those are the only two I've set up).  Both of these are run by Google and allow my website to remain unchanged.

What's best about this is that it is all FREE.  My website is hosted for free, my email (Gmail) is free, my documents are hosted for free.  All I've invested was the nine bucks it took to register my domain name. What's second best is that should I ever want to move away from using Gmail as the "back end" mail server, I can change mail servers without ever changing my email address again.

 If you read Scott's article, it look a little intimidating.  It's not as hard as it seems.  Give it a try!


via LifeHacker

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Pownce invites

image Whether you call it "status messaging," "micro-blogging" or "nano-blogging" people are all a-stir over new ways to communicate in near real-time with their geographically displaced friends.  I haven't written a lot about this yet because the space ( the market, demand and products) is too new to know where things are ultimately headed.

Twitter, Jaiku and Pownce are three of the front-runners space, with Pownce being the new-comer.

At the same time, if anyone is interested, I have six Pownce invites if anyone wants them.  What does this have to do with missions?  It's part of my broader experiment to understand how social networking and "online presence" affect the way to relate to our supporters and organizations.  If you want an invite, please be willing to use it and experiment with me.

Just leave me a comment and I'll get one out to you.

see also:

Your Guide to Micro-Blogging and Twitter

Is Pownce the Twitter or Jaiku Killer?
Pownce is the evolution of collaboration meets social media meets P2P

The Power of Timelines and tools for making them

History is important; it provides the context for everything else we experience.  Timeline are great tools for communicating that history.  A timeline can help you explain the history of your adopted country or your mission's work there.  It's a great way to give your supporters an overview of your work over the long-haul.  And it would provide a short-term missions team an overview of where they fit in the scheme of things.

Up until now it's been difficult to create timelines that could be easily embedded in a blog, powerpoint or website.  The first I found was the Timeline at SIMILE.  It has the advantage of being flexible and embedable.  It provides some neat formatting options and looks really sharp.


The downside was that it all had to be coded in XML (a sort of language) and run through an embedded player on your website.  I got this working, and embedded the result on my web site but every time I fiddled with and event I messed the whole thing up.  It was too delicate for an amateur like me.

 A few days ago I discovered XTimeline, a timeline creator for the rest of us.  It's still in beta but is already very, very powerful.  It's easy to create a great looking timeline in a short period of time.  I've embeded an example below, but to really view it as it's designed click here.


These timeline are very easy to produce.  Go to XTimeline and create an account.  Click on "Create" and you'll be taken to a dialogue box like this one:


Give your timeline a title, category, image and so forth and you're on your way.  Next, add some events. Click 'add event'  and fill in the dialogue box.


Add enough events and you're beginning to tell your story.  XTimelines is also a "social" application.  That is, depending on your settings others can comments on your timeline and/or events.  Others can even edit your timeline if you'd like. 

When you're done, embed your timeline in your web page or blog to help people understand your story.  Whenever you edit your timeline the new information will be reflected on your web site.


Note that this product is still in beta and that there are some ease-of-use tweaks to be made.  I hope these guys stay around a while.  As a history buff I love tools like these.


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Friday, July 06, 2007

Recharging your in-flight entertainment

My friend Mark is flying off to Taiwan in a few days, and in honor of his 24+ hour flight I should I'd mention this find.

The Inflight USB Power Unit plugs into the audio jack of your seat and outputs power to a USB plug allowing you to charge your iPod, phone, PDA or whatever.  From their site:

Plug compatible with any standard USB charging cable. The Inflight USB Power unit plugs into the passenger seat audio jack and outputs regulated power to the attached USB charging cable/connector.

I can't speculate on how well this would work, or how the airlines would feel about it.  It's kind of a one-trick pony for $35 but might come in handy.

via jkOnTherun

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Explaining Social Networks like Facebook, LinkedIn

Facebook?  LinkedIn? MySpace?  What's all the hoopla about?  Trying to explain the power of social networks is a bit of a challenge.  I'm becoming convinced that they will become the way missionaries will communicate to supporters 5 years from now.

But how to you explain it to your supporters...or your colleagues...or your wife (her eyes glaze over whenever I mention social networking). 

Lee Lefever really explains things well.  Last month I posted his video explaining the power of a Wiki.  This week Lee posted another of his videos explaining social networks.

I wish he would have gone a little further, but this is a good start.  If you read this blog I'd like to connect with you!  Please feel free to "friend" me on Facebook or add me as a contact on LinkedIn.

via Beth

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Skype 3.5 Beta is here

Happy 4th of July everyone!  I hope you Americans (and those of you Americans actually in the US) were able to celebrate the holiday with your family and friends.

But Skype's Peter Parkes isn't an American, he's from the UK and he's reporting on the new (newest?  latest?) Skype beta, 3.5

 It mostly adds a couple of new video features, "Video snapshot" and "Video sharing."  You can download it here or check out the beta forum here.

One commenter made an interesting observation:

I'm starting to feel a bit like I'd like a Lite version of Skype - chat & audio calls only - that installs no compulsory toolbar, plugins etc... In one year, Skype grew from more or less 6-7MB to a whopping 24MB :-(

He's right.  Skype has been bulking up, no doubt in response to the growing number of VOIP-ish service providers.


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Myths of Innovation

Most people admire "innovative people," but only from afar.  Up close and personal, however, innovation just seems like a lot of hard work.  To an outsider, innovators get all the breaks.  "Things just seem to happen around them."  But that's the myth.  Up close things are different. 

Guy Kawasaki has a great interview with Scott Berkun, the author of "the Myths of Innovation." As a sample here's the first interview question:

Question: How long does it take in the real world—as opposed to the world of retroactive journalism—for an “epiphany” to occur?

Answer: An epiphany is the tip of the creative iceberg, and all epiphanies are grounded in work. If you take any magic moment of discovery from history and wander backwards in time you’ll find dozens of smaller observations, inquiries, mistakes, and comedies that occurred to make the epiphany possible. All the great inventors knew this—and typically they downplayed the magic moments. But we all love exciting stories—Newton getting hit by an apple or people with chocolate and peanut butter colliding in hallways—are just more fun to think about. A movie called “watch Einstein stare at his chalkboard for 90 minutes” wouldn’t go over well with most people [emphasis added].

I'm not much of an innovator, though I would like to be; I'd like to be more creative.  I'm most often still hung up on "what people might think."  I may not be an innovator, but I'm trying to be a hard worker and a life-long learner.  The book looks like a good read!

Read the whole interview here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Upload files to your favorite sites with Fire Uploader

Lifehacker's featured Firefox extension yesterday was FireUploader.  This is a nifty little extension that allows you to transfer data from your computer to your favorite social media networking sites.  The description on the FireUploader site says:

As the name says, this firefox extension allows you to upload/download files from any website using a friendly interface. In this version, (1GB of free space), Flickr (photo viewing/sharing), Picasa (photo viewing/sharing), Youtube(Vidoes) are supported. You can upload videos to Youtube, upload/download/organize photos to Picasa, Flickr and Next versions would support other websites like Google Videos, Webshots etc.

image As good as it sounds, I've had significant difficulty making it work right.  When I added my Flickr account information the extension crashed Firefox.  I continued to get dialogue boxes telling me I was having errors I didn't understand.  After a reboot and restart of Firefox all seemed well. I connected to my account and tried to upload a team policy manual.  No dice. 

This is an extension I'm going to be keeping my eye one, but it's not ready for prime time yet.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sure you have travel horror stories, but can you tell them like this?

We've all spent more time waiting for flights than we'd like to remember.  But next time you're stuck, try creating a memorable anti-airline mockumentary like this one.

Delta Flight 6499, Seven Hours on the Tarmac

This is pretty hilarious, but only because I can sooo feel this guys pain.

via Consumerist and Scoble


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The world's most hated a loved reincarnation?

Trivia Question: Which of your friends' service did you hate the most?  Answer: Plaxo. Plaxo was that contact manager from hell.  If you subscribed to the service it pestered everyone you ever met until you wanted to scream.  Worse yet, if your friends subscribe it made you want to scream.  They got a well-earned, terribly bad reputation.  And now its back....only I think they've learned something.

Plaxo's new incarnation has a lot going for it.  It's positioning itself to be "an address book for life."  It wants to be the one place where all of your contact information, calendar, tasks and feeds come together, from a variety of services.

Plaxo brings together your your stuff from Outlook, Google, Yahoo, AOL/AIM, your mobile, Outlook Express, LinkedIn, Mac OSX, Hotmail & Windows Live.  For now, these are the "sync-points" supported by Plaxo.

After reading Scobles post, I thought I would take it for a spin.  After opening my free account I was taken to the screen above and asked which "sync points" I wanted to add.  plaxosyncpoints I thought I'd stat with Outlook and, when selected, asked me to download an add-on.  Normally I avoid Outlook add-ins like the plague, but I thought I'd try it out.  Once it was installed I had a new set of options from within Outlook


Next I selected "sync manager" and told Plaxo what I wanted synced from Outlook to the Plaxo cloud.  I entered my Plaxo account information and then selected my Outlook calendar, contacts, tasks and notes to be synced to Plaxo.

That was it.  I hit "sync now" and with in minutes all of my stuff was available to me on the web.


I was shocked.  I added a task to the left-hand task bar in the Plaxo window and it was brought to my Outlook to-do list at the next sync.  I added a couple of other sync points, my Google and Yahoo accounts just to see how it would work.  Those too synced up in a snap.

If you're interested, check out the below video from Plaxo's vice-president of marketing.

Now for the not so good news.

  1. The free version syncs up to 1000 contacts.  For more than that you need the Pro version, which will set you back $50/year.  The pro version also supports syncing with LinkedIn, a social networking app for the business community.
  2. Syncing isn't particularly fast.  This might be because the product is new and they're working through the scaling issues as lots of new people register.  I hope so.
  3. I'm not so thrilled with giving out my credentials to a third party.  More and more though, it's becoming a given for certain services.

Why is this interesting for folks in our line of work?

  1. We move around a lot and this makes it easy to keep all our contacts up to date.
  2. It allows me to change my task list and my calendar from any computer in the world, knowing that those changes will also appear in Outlook on my desktop.
  3. Its serves as an easy backup for my most important information: my contacts, my tasks and my calendar.
  4. It appears as though this would also allow you to sync multiple computers together effortlessly.   

I don't think I'll spend a lot of time on the Plaxo's website, but it is a very, very easy tool to use if you want to bring a lot of information together from a variety of sources.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

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