Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Always Reliable Makfax says 6 Feb Independence Day

Here's a quick clip from Makfax, quoting Radio Kosovo.  Independence may be declared on 6 February.

The independence of Kosovo will be declared on 6 February, Radio Kosovo cited sources close to the Kosovo's PM Hashim Thaci as saying. Radio Kosovo said that the document on declaration of independence will be adopted on 6 February in the Kosovo's Parliament, which would be followed by recognition by other countries. The same source added that the Parliament has already embarked upon preparations for that historic event, but did not specify whether will the European Union act in package or the recognition would be carried out by each country individually.

There was a lot in the media today about the EU and US having coordinated a date with the local government.  We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

James Blunt music video recalls the tragedy

I don't know how I missed this music video, but it is absolutely worth three and a half minutes. As the push for independence crawls on, as various US, EU, Serbian and Russian diplomats take the world stage with their proxies in tow, it is all to easy to forget what really happened here.

Award-winning, and Grammy Nominee James Blunt  wrote the song, "No Bravery" while an officer in the British Army serving in Kosovo.  As a captain Blunt was the first British officer to enter the capital, Prishtina, in 1999.

This music video relates some of his experience.

via FreeKosova

Thursday, January 17, 2008

SugarSync backs up & syncs everything - it may be everything I'm looking for

Today Read/Write/Web had an exclusive review and presentation of Sharpcast's new SugarSync product.  Though SugarSync is in closed beta, RWW had 1500 invites, and I scored one (thanks guys!!).  In a nutshell, SugarSync syncs and backs up all of your data into the cloud (their secure servers) and allows you to use your data from practically any device, including your mobile phone.

According to RWW, Sharpcast CEO, Gibu Thomas, calls this ability to use, back-up and sync data across multiple devices the the "holy grail" of web apps.  I would agree with his assertion.

Other applications handle some of this.  I've been impressed with DocSyncer, for example, and have written about it here and here.  Though it keeps your stuff synced in real-time, it only keeps your Microsoft Office/Google Docs stuff synchronized.  Several times over the last couple of days I've been over at our community center working on things when I needed a file.  I thought, no problem, I'll log into DocSyncer ....ooops.  Then I'd remember it wasn't a Word doc, it was a PDF file.  Nuts, now I have go back to my house and grab my laptop/flashdrive/etc.

SugarSync brings everything into the cloud; everything you tell it to, that is.  It also works in real-time.  When you modify a document on your computer, it is synced to the SugarSync secure servers.  If you create a document on a public computer you can, through SugarSync's secure web portal, sync that doc back to your home computer or laptop.

image A free account will apparently get your 1GB of storage, with upgrades available.  I am only syncing a portion of my "My Documents" and it weighed in at 2.4 GB.  Fortunately, extra space is free during the beta period.  Oh, and did I mention that with my awesome Kosovar Internet, it will take 15 days to sync up all my stuff?  Once it's uploaded, however, synchronization is reportedly quite fast.

Again, this product is in closed beta, but keep your eyes open for it, and read the article at RRW.  There is a huge amount of potential for this product, especially for those of us who travel regularly, and like to travel light.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Language Study Tools: Express Scribe - Transcription Playback

Most career missionaries devote a significant amount of time to learning and working with some foreign language.  We've all had occasion to transcribe some verbal "text" from our adopted language into English, or vice versa.  It's usually a bit of a painful process, juggling tape recorders, MP3 players and computer keyboards.

Express Scribe is a free, powerful piece of transcription software that may just make that job easier.

    1. Variable speed playback (constant pitch).
    2. Supports many professional foot pedals which connect to the game, serial or USB port to control playback. More info...
    3. Uses 'hot' keys to control playback when using other software (eg. Word).
    4. Ability to dock both analog and digital portable recorders to load recordings.
    5. Works with Microsoft Word and all major word-processor applications.
    6. Automatically receives and loads files by internet (FTP), email or over a local computer network.
    7. Automatically sends typing to the person who dictated the work.
    8. Works with speech recognition software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking to automatically convert speech to text.
    9. Loads CD audio directly - listen as it loads in the background.
    10. Integrate with dictation management systems using the Express Scribe SDK.
    11. Works with FastFox typing utility to turn difficult medical/legal phrases and common terms into mere shortcuts from your keyboard.
    12. Express Scribe is free.

via DownloadSquad

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Skype To Go: Make calls from any phone, including your mobile

I've mentioned, numerous times, how much money Skype has saved our parent organization. Skype To Go is part of the Skype Pro plan and allows you to call nearly anyone from your land line or mobile at really attractive rates.

I can see US mission executives or regional leaders embracing this kind of solution for lowering their tel-com expenditures as well as giving them more calling options.

Here's the latest information from the Skype Blogs:

How does the new To Go number work? It’s simple:

  • Sign up to a local Skype to Go number which you can call from anywhere in your country. See below for available Skype to Go countries.
  • Register online by adding up to six of your favourite friends phone numbers or Skype addresses you want to reach.
  • A friendly Skype voice will also guide you on the phone to tap in a phone number or select one of your six favourite friends from your speed dial list.

What are the costs?

  • Skype Pro subscription fee is €2 (€2.30 with VAT included) per month
  • The cost of a local call to your Skype to Go number (maybe part of your inclusive minutes, mobile or otherwise)
  • Plus the cost of the SkypeOut call to the country of destination number

The last item really bears checking out.  For example, the last time I checked, it was just as in/expensive to call from the US to Kosovo through Skype as through a Warehouse store calling card.

Xobni getting good press, offers Outlook plug-in

Xobni (inbox spelled backwards) is a windows-only, freeware application that adds some pretty neat features to Microsoft Outlook.  Some of these features are really gee-whiz and some actually seem pretty useful.

imageBasically Xobni adds another panel to the right side of Outlook which displays all kinds of helpful information about your email.

It displays some of the sender's contact info, the frequency of their emails, times at which they're sent, etc.  It also provides threading for your conversations, which is actually pretty neat too.  That is, you can click on a particular conversation and Xobni will assemble the thread in the panel.

Check out the video for a better explanation.

Both TechCrunch and LifeHacker have good write ups (and invite codes to boot).  See also Web Worker Daily and Mashable as well. 

Xobni is in private beta at the moment.  I've got 5 invites if anyone is interested in trying it out.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Typeroom Simplifies Web Page Editing Online

Many of us have been in the situation where someone has done some web-design work for us for free and then wandered off our social graph.  You either don't have time to change the site, or you don't know enough HTML to pull it off.  Your donated website ends up languishing somewhere, unloved, un-updated, un-hit.

Typeroom may provide the answer for you.  Typeroom is a web-based site design tool, but with a twist.  It allows you to do web design with its layout tools, as do many other companies in this space.  But Typeroom allows you to enter a specific web site which it then copies to its own servers for editing.  Once on their servers you can edit the site with their WYSIWIG editing tools.  You can take that old, donated site and spruce it up to your heart's content.

Once you've made your edits Typeroom can reload the finished product back to your own server.  Check out the video for a better explanation.

Right now Typeroom is in closed Beta, but if I can wrangle an invite I'll let you know.  I have a languishing website that badly needs editing.

via TechCrunch

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Official Google Docs Blog: New features for 2008!

According to the Official Google Docs blog you can expect new features in your GDocs account.  In addition to now being able to embed presentations Google is also releasing these features.

* you can now embed presentations anywhere online.

* Sub-folders, sub-folders, sub-folders...try selecting one of your folders and then choose New > voila!

* Rename documents and folders from the Docs home toolbar (the Rename option is now between Delete and More Actions).

These are some of the top requested features from users, according to the blog.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Google Extra gives you more in your search

Ryan at Cybernet has posted a great little greasemonkey script that gives you more bang for your (free) Google Search buck.  It's called "Google Extra" and it utilizes the abundant right-side white space that a Google search normally gives you.

If you look at the search below on "Kosovo" with the script enabled you'll notice a number of areas that have been added to the return.


First, on the left column, is a short section of news returns and then, underneath, the normal Google search list.  On the right column, which is normally just white-space you'll find an image section, followed by videos, Wikipedia and entry.  [Note, I have an additional image group at the top of the left column.  That's an artifact from another script or plug-in.]

You can re-order the right-hand column returns.  Hovering over an image or video shows you a larger version of the image or thumbnails from the video.

Get the script here.

Via DownloadSquad

Discovering vs Teaching Four Uses

Not long ago someone wrote me and asked, "what's so great about  It looks great, but I don't quite get it."  It's a good question and one that begs the previous question, why hasn't, a powerful social bookmarking application, and services like it, gone mainstream?

I just discovered a great post from John Udell asking these same questions.  Udell believes, quoting Richard Ziade, that hasn't gone mainstream for one of three reasons:

    1. Nobody really needs a way to centrally store their bookmarks
    2. Most people don’t understand what does
    3. People don’t feel compelled to share with others

I agree with Udell that the answer is almost certainly number two.  People just don't understand what does.  He writes a nice description of his top four uses here.

The title of Udell's post tells you what the article is really about, "Discovering versus teaching principles of social information management."  That's the key to so many Internet technologies.