Monday, October 30, 2006

Wikergency Trap


I've started a little wiki over at Wikispaces that lists web 2.0 sites and technology. I'm not done building the basic framework yet so I'm keeping the site "protected". Only members can edit pages. I haven't decided yet whether or not to make it public. I'm afraid of people maliciously messing things up, and It's taking a lot of time to work on. I would feel really bad to have all my hard work go down the tube in one fell swoop.

I'm going to add a widget to the right sideblog showing a live update of things I'm adding to the site, plus there will be a link to go straight to the wiki itself.

Please let me know if you don't see any sites you think should be there. Also, let me know if you're interested in helping build the site up. I'm only one man, and it takes a lot of time to just make these posts, and do the research. I would love help.

Youmail


I can tell Youmail is going to take off. It's currently in a free Beta stage that couldn't be more attractive. If you love your cell phone, Youmail is a fun customizable voicemail feature that adds another level of uniqueness to your phone.

At it's core, Youmail is a service that re-routes your standard voicemail to their service which lets you assign multiple voicmail messages to specific numbers. It's like assigning your favorite Barry Manilow song to your honey's phone number. Their service is free and works with any cell phone, but they send you a TXT whenever someone leaves a message. You'll need to check with your service plan to see how text messages are handled. You can set a default voicemail for all unkown calls, so don't worry, you'r professional image isn't at stake. One other feature offered is the "ditch mail" feature. They claim that if you get a call from someone you'd rather never hear from again, you can send a numeric code which will "give them a ditch mail, and you'll never here from that person again." You can access, record, delete, and manage messages from their site. Alternatively, you can choose to record and assign a new custom email from your phone.

I've signed up and found the voice interface to be clear and helpful. I've listened to a couple messages my friends left me, and they sound just as if I were using my service providers voicmail service. As of this writing, I haven't gotten feedback from them on how my custom voicemail messages sound, but I listened to them on my computer and they sound fine-virtually indistinguishable from my service provider. I haven't tried the ditchmail feature, and am a bit confused by it. I started wondering if they totally block that number or if they simply send some kind of default message stating that I don't want to hear from them again. I'm counting on the former, but I have a feeling it won't work for unavailable calls-which would really be great to stop telemarketers.

I don't know how long this service will stay free. I'll be surprised if they don't start charging. The big service providers are already charging extra for customized ringbacks, and other extra services. If it does stay free, then kudos to Youmail.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Extreme Time Management

I found this article on time management by Steve Pavlina, and I found it so interesting that I thought I'd share it here on the Trap.

In a much smaller way-much smaller, I think I do most of what he recommends. About the only tip I follow regularly is the one on multitasking. I'm always reading during commercials, while I watch TV, read while I'm on the treadmill, surf the web and eat, and eat while I'm on the internet, etc...

You should check out Steve's article, even if you have looked at plenty of time management sites or books for the simple fact that his is pretty extreme. He says using these ideas, he went through a four-year college degree in 3 semesters(attaining a GPA of 3.9).


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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Veeker-Movlogging made simple?


Look out, there's a new mobile video blogging site vying for your attention.

Veeker offers quick and fun mobile video sharing. My immediate reaction, when seeing this site, was that it's a site to help facilitate sending video from phone to phone. However, it's more like another mobile community site. I'm not implying that that's a bad thing. Veeker actually has an embeddable player that I really like.

The site is fairly new, so there asking initial wanna-be's to sign up via there mobile. I don't know if they'll keep this format or simply make a web form sign up standard in the future. It actually was quite painless. I simply had to send a short video, over my phone, and then enter my phone# on the website. There's a very short learning curve. It didn't take me 5 minutes to sign up and upload my first "veek"(video peek).

My favorite part of the site is using the embeddable player to share your videos. I think this will appeal to travel Blogs, and vacationers who want to send instant moments back home to friends or family. With the upload time being almost non-existent people can go to your site and see what your doing in next to real-time. This type of instant travel Blogging would also be conducive to educational Blogs and sites. With a little time budgeting and planning you could set up a site where students on a class trip could broadcast all their clips of there experiences to their school or to the world. It would be awesome to go to a website and see dozens of clips taken by different students on the same event.

One of my favorite things to do is look up video, pictures, and info on Japan. It's where I'll be taking my next vacation. I think it'd be really cool to have a site set up on a specific location like Osaka or Tokyo, and get Veekers who live or visit these locations sending all their veeks to the site. It would be a totally dynamic travel site. Uploading the videos to display on the embeddable players is practically instantaneous(did I forget to mention you can send pictures with veeker as well?). It would be much more immersive to have multiple perspectives on the same location or event. I think it would be best to limit the events to smaller locals like a specific temple, garden, or hot spot. It would be like you were there, amongst the people all sending in the veeks for you or I to watch. I'll probably experiment with this format in the future.










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Friday, October 27, 2006

Mochimention


Mochimention is one of those fun sites where you can get viewer feedback through a voting/commenting system. The niche of this site is that you can get feedback on particular elements of your site. Say you have a Flickr slideshow and your showing off your artwork. Just copy and paste the appropriate code from your Mochimention dashboard, and paste it in the appropriate place in your site editor. When you view the site, a widget will show containing a voting system, commenting system, or both.

You can check and monitor your votes/comments on your dashboard at Mochimention. They give you 5 free "mentions" to put on your site. You can upgrade for $23.95/year, and get ad free, unlimited mentions, and the ability to let viewers join your group.

I like the site and have added a couple vote only widgets to specific sections of the Trap. I chose not to add the ability to comment simply because the widget is too bulky.

Perhaps if they added a little more costumization they could generate more business. I would add the ability to pay monthly as well as yearly, and I would add a few different sized widgets to choose from. The comment widget was just too large for my taste. It's probably fine for people who don't have blogs or otherwise don't have any other way for viewers to comment on their site, but for placing in specific locations it takes up too much room. It wouldn't be hard to make a "no-frills" widget that had two lines containing small input boxes for name, email, comment, and submit button like say Cbox does with their chat widget

Sites like this are extremely popular for social communities like the Myspace crowd. I can't really see Mochimention doing badly, but if they ever decide to branch out into the Blogosphere, the edits I mention above may be in their favor.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

BeamFile


Beam me up Scotty. No, it can't send people, but BeamFile can send your files fast. BeamFile is a small program(1.61MB installer) that you download and run on your computer to send(or "beam") files up to 5GB in size to others.

I love the simplicity of this program. It's so great they didn't try to weigh it down with unnecessary features or sponsored ads. Clean and simple. It seems they've got all important features covered, as well. You send files by emailing a 'file-link'. Just run the program, pick the file you want to send, fill in the form with the recipients email address, and hit next.

They also were smart and covered all the bases. Does the person you're sending to NOT have BeamFile? No problem. When the recipient receives the email, they can still click on the 'file-link'. The only difference is they will be given the opportunity to download BeamFile, and then they will receive your file. Even if you or the recipient gets booted off the net, or has to log off, BeamFile will let you resume from where you left off once you log back on.

I think they understood the smart and simple idea with not only the software, but also their website. They have a nice, easy to understand help page with plenty of pictures for a no-brainer approach. A One-click download button on the front page, and a mail form along with a support forum(that has a FAQ) add to their ability to help if you ever have problems. I checked their forums and their isn't any complaints or problems listed. It seems they have a largely bug free program.

The only problems I've seen are on the website. The 'About Us' link isn't working at the time of this article, and the forum is in desperate need of some spring cleaning. It is clogged with spam.

I love BeamFile, and will be emailing all my friends and family about it.

Robotech? or Real Life?


Remember the first episode of Robotech? Well, maybe you don't. Robotech city was a sprawling advance of alien technology in a future Earth. Complete with transforming jets, state-of-the-art alien weaponry, a giant alien spaceship, and vending machine robots that wheeled around pestering parents to buy buy buy.

While we may not see giant alien spaceships landing anytime soon, or jets that transform into fighting robots, we may just see vending machines wheeling around to make it more uh-convenient for you to quench your thirst, thanks to Pepsi. Then again, maybe not.

Back in the oh so futuristic year of 2000, VGG posted about this marvel of marketing. Just remember to buy a prepaid card before you go on your next vacation. The cards would have RFID tags that the little carbonated tanks would be able to monitor whenever you were in their vicinity. Been too long since your last soda? or need an emergency thirst quencher? The tags keep track of the last time you bought and tells the machines to wheel it on over, or a button on the card will do the same whenever you choose.

Perhaps we won't see vending machines tearing up the asphalt anytime soon, but as more and more technologies are implementing RFID, it seems only sensible that the technology makes it's way into the vending business. In fact, Pepsi has already started building machines to use credit cards, in addition to cash and coin. M-travel gives a more comprehensive outline of how these credit accepting machines work.

RFID security will have to keep up with the expanding technology or we may soon see a small 'bubblegum' effect similar to the first dot bomb. There's already been cases of people hacking RFID to break into new cars, and steal gas. I could only imagine the havoc that could be created by future hackers and motorized vending machines.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Firefox 2 released


Okay, so I'm a little late with this one. My server had some more outage time last night when I wanted to do another update. Well it's working for now, so here it is.

Firefox 2 is out of the bag. Actually this post is pretty anti-climactic. I mean, I'm late with it, and I didn't even download Firefox 2 yet. I will definately post again, on Firefox 2.

I want to wait just a little while, and get some feedback from people using it.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Semapedia.org


Semipedia.org lets you print data matrix barcodes to stick anywhere you want. Normally these barcodes are found strictly on websites. They help facilitate surfing the web on your phone. The barcodes correspond to specific URL's. You simply point and click, with your camera phone, and it takes your phone to that website(no need to type the URL in by hand). You're probably asking why you would want, or need, to 'print' these barcodes.

Semapedia connects with the ever-popular Wikipedia to help 'tag' the real world. At their website you can enter a Wikipedia URL corresponding to what you want to tag(your car, school, city, etc...), print the tag, and stick it. Any would-be passerby who is interested in knowing more can use their camera phone to snap a picture of the tag and it will take them to the Wikipedia entry giving them the defintion.

I really like the idea of this niftly site, but I just can't get rid of the little
pessimistic voice inside that says it won't take off. The places where it seems to be most useful would also be the places someone wouldn't want you sticking them. For starters, you'll probably get a nice littering fine for putting them in most public places like outdoor artwork, roadsigns, on buildings, and so on, but even indoors you'll probably run across problems. It would be great to stick them on books, electronics, toys, etc..., but you can't exactly walk into a Walmart and start tagging like mad. Yes, you could tag a product you bought, but the idea is for someone else to see it, get curious, and read the tag to learn about it.

It's hard to imagine that you could get away with sticking these barcodes around in public places(at least in the USA). Although, I could really see advertisers, and companies using this technology to their advantage. Next time you go shopping for a music CD, movie, or your deciding between a new Blue-Ray or HD DVD player, how would you like to be able to use your cellphone to snap a picture of a tag and get a video commercial instantly?

Or, how about tagging tourist attractions. It may be useful to supply a tag on a landmark plaque. I was on Chincoteague Island, in Virginia, a couple years ago. They used wooden plaques everywhere-on the bridges, at the monuments, all over. It would be interesting to see how well data matrix barcodes worked on those. The plaques usually only have a breif outline of the place or monument, but with the barcode you could take the visitor to a website with more comprehensive information.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Gadget-FM Transmitter

Ah, the handy FM transmitter. I am tired of running an adapter from my MP3 player to my car stereo. The cord that's too long always getting in the way, wrapping around my cars shifter at unopportune times, and having my stereo tethered to my player means I'm limited to where I can set my player. The FM transmitters might be the perfect solution. Small, Lightweight, and NO CORDS-well maybe a teeny tiny one. There's plenty of choices out there to fit your budget or style. I compare three. All Prices are from Amazon.

iRiver AFT 100: Able to tune into any unused station on the FM dial, battery-less: plugs into cigarette lighter, simple and bright display, and works with any audio device. I think It's a bit expensive at around $32, but if you are on the road commuting to work, or driving truck all the time, it may be well worth the
investment.





Belkin Tunecast: The Belkin just may be the ideal FM transmitter to match the budget-wise casual
user. It is not the cheapest out there, but it is nice for it's price. At around $11, it is small, looks nice, and it's ultralight. It has a range of up to 30 ft., requries 2xAAA batteries, works with other audio devices, and the FM range is between 88.1 and 88.7. I think it's a good middle ground device. Even if it doesn't have the frequency range of the SoundFeeder. You know the saying "You get what you pay for". Well reports on Amazon say the quality isn't that great on the Soundfeeder, plus it's bulky size is a turn off.

Arkon SF 120 SoundFeeder: Battery operated-requires 1xAA battery, tune to any unused radio station on the FM dial. Unlike the iRiver their is no LCD display but because it runs on batteries, you can use it in your car as well as use it in the home. Use it to play your MP3's through your home stereo. I couldn't find a distance, in feet, that it could transmit, but most FM tranmitters reach anywhere from the 20-30 ft. range. Last I checked, they weren't selling these at any stores anymore, but I saw one used for $7 on Amazon.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Podcast Test

removed flash player

Server Outage

The server I'm on went down for almost two days. I'm glad I had a post draft ready to go, but I think I'm gonna have to make up a few more in case this happens in the future. Maybe I'll record a little audio blurb, like they have on the TV for emergency reports. If only I knew it was going down beforehand, then I could warn you.

Anyway, This week's episode of Lost is barely over, and I'm already chomping at the bit for the next episode. I'd really like to do some podcasts about the show, but I have serious doubts about finding anyone to do them with me.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Grazr + Bloglines

If you haven't discovered Grazr yet, you're missing out. Grazr let's you organize RSS, RDF, and Atom syndicated feeds, along with OPML outline files in a small scalable widget. It's alot like having a mini browser right on you own page but instead of surfing websites, you're surfing feeds.

This is a fantastic tool in an age where syndication is everywhere. With all these feeds floating around it becomes harder to organize them efficiently. It's bad enough for news junkies who could be tracking literally hundreds of feeds, but throw into the mix: podcasts and video casts- the numbers can get staggering.

Say you have a list of your top ten favorite news sources, or an even larger list of favorite podcasts that you like to listen to. You could get a feed aggregator to help you keep them all in one place, but most aggregators are programs you need to download, and configure. Grazr is both online and much simpler to use.

Perhaps one of the best uses I've found was to use Grazr in combination with Bloglines. I stumbled upon this little trick at Josh Bancroft's site. Josh Bancroft seems to be a power user who surfs hundreds of feeds. He has an account at Bloglines and used it to subscribe to many, many feeds. He then made his Bloglines subcriptions public. One of the things Bloglines lets you do is surf other users subscriptions. If you find a use who has similar interests, you like, you can export their list as an OPML file. This OPML file is where Josh's trick works. Since Grazr can read OPML outlines, he simply right-clicked and saved the link location, from his public page. When he set up his Grazr widget, he used this link, and presto. He put the widget on his site and he has a live view of his Bloglines subscriptions, right on his own Blog. Anytime he adds new subscriptions to his Bloglines account, his widget automatically gets updated. In my opinion, this is a truly powerfull way of using Grazr.

I was toying with this, since I have my own Bloglines subscription. I am also a fan of youtube, and I knew they offered feed subsriptions. I was curious to see how this would look in Grazr.

I found feed links by visiting youtube's RSS page(I clicked on their RSS icon at the bottom of their main page). I then searched for these feeds through Bloglines, and found them. I then found out that you
could subcribe to specific youtube search tags through Bloglines. So I subscribed to their main tags like: most viewed today, most viewed this week, newest videos, videos tagged 'Japan', etc.. After putting the widget here on the Trap, I took a look at the youtube feeds. I was pleasantly surprised to find I could actually watch the videos withing the Grazr widget.

Youtube videos must resize automatically according to the size of the browser, because the videos are quite small, but still viewable. I had to fiddle with the dimensions of my Grazr widget because even though the youtube videos resized themselves they still must've been on preset increments. I set my Grazr widget width to just under 200px, and the videos fit nicely. My next task was to check podcasts, and audio files.

I had already subscribed to some podcasts, through bloglines, and found that you can listen to them from within the Grazr widget.

Not all podcasts are the same. Some have direct links to the audio file(as shown in the picture on the left). Some others use various flash audio players. When trying to listen to LOSTCasts, I found I had to click the direct link which opens a new browser window. But the ones that have flash players show up within the widget, and you merely click the play button and it starts playing.

I did a search on Technorati for blog posts about Grazr, to hopefully find some other ways to use Grazr. Check out some of these innovative ways of adding to the power of Grazr.
If you spend some time searching you can find some neat and interesting ways to utilize Grazr, and discover many new feeds you never knew existed.



Writetomyblog.com


Writetomyblog is an online web word processor that configures posts for your blog. Basically it has all the features of other web word processors like Google Docs, and Zoho Writer. The idea is simple- to have more control over the look and feel of your blog posts.

It's really a great little web 2.0 site. Writetomyblog said they work well in Firefox, and being a firefox user, I took it for a test spin. I just opened a second window so I would be able to make posts while looking at other sites.

Many powerfull word processor tools are at your disposal. Writetomyblog also supports most major blog services.

I have to admit I have quite a short review on this web 2.0 site, but that's only do to it being so self-explanatory.

I only have one gripe. It doesn't seem to translate posts accurately for blogger. I have been using writetomyblog for about a week now, and I still haven't gotten it to format just the way I'd like. So new users may experience a big learning curve-spending many times posting and reposting until it looks right in their blog, depending on the blog service they use. This seems easily correctable though. They only need to spend a little more time gathering user feedback to tweak their system. I will be visiting this site often over the coming weeks and hope to see it improve.

Aside from the learning curve it's a great service. I love being able to have so much control over my posts.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Happy Hall"oh"ween


I'm gonna try add at least one new post a day, to this blog.
Today I decided to jump-the-gun on celebrating Halloween. I mean, you only get one day. I thought it'd be more fun to 'spice' up the site for more than just one day. so I have this years Emergency Trap Halloween logo. I hope you like it. I was thinking about doing more on the site, but it's too close this year. I mean, I'm still working on the regular site code, so I went simple. Maybe next year I'll do more for the blog.
I also added a neat 9 and some odd seconds video by one of my favorite artists. Tomoko Kawase(AKA Tommy February6, Tommy Heavenly6). I honestly like the Brilliant Green(lead singer) better, but they've been on hiatus indefinately.

Monday, October 16, 2006

PageFlakes vs. Favoor

Remember the 'startpage' craze? Back in the day, companies were jumping to get you to use their site for your start page. Some of those are still around. Case in point: Yahoo. Yahoo offers you a startpage where you can costumize it with widgets to show the weather and headlines from sports and news services.
Now web 2.0 is everywhere, and the ease of getting what you want, when you want, has gotten easier and better.

There are many sites that indivdualy specialize in offering different kinds of content. I found two that actually offer a costumized startpage. Favoor and PageFlakes both offer their services for free. I decided to compare the two and see how effective they are for an audience that really likes having a start page.

example of what pageglakes looks like PageFlakes is probably the most well known of the two. At first glance you see a partially formatted page with a few preloaded windows. The idea is you open 'flakes'-small customizable windows that you can position in different places on your page. You can add and delete new flakes to suit your individual preferences.
Pageflakes offers many different types of services to put into your flakes. You can have weather, search, and picture flakes along with many others.

I started to build my own page and had to play with it a bit to learn how and what I could do. The learning curve was short at around 5 minutes to get started, and my speed at adding and costumizing flakes sped up the more I used the service.

I set up some flakes that offered news headlines from different services like the New York TimesGoogle , and YahooFlickr , and Youtube . I liked how I could cosumize the Flickr flake to display pictures eithier in a 3x3 grid or as a single photo with the ability to search by tags. The Youtube flake was similar to the Flickr flake in that you could search by tags and set how many video snapshots were displayed in the flake.
. I also added a search box that lets you choose between a couple engines like . Some of my favorite flakes included weather,
Overall it's a pretty comprehensive site that offers many options to display content.

example showing what Favoor looks like Favoor is the lesser known startpage service. I don't have as much to say about Favoor's options, as it is fairly limited compared to PageFlakes. It is this minimalistic aspect that I want to touch on further.
Favoor is beautifully minimalistic. The learning curve is negligable. If you're like me, there is just something very attractive at having a well designed page that offers alot of content without looking noisy.

Simply put, Favoor lets you add a link, folder, RSS feed, and notes.

These are added in much the same way as PageFlakes, and is a little faster to load up than the latter. The notes window is a barebones notepad that just lets you enter text without any formatting options. I used it to make a mock list of things to do. I found that I was doing a lot of leg work when entering feeds. I had to know the address of the feed I wanted before entering it. Both do offer a list of feeds to choose from with PageFlakes being larger. But for my individual tastes I had to input most individually. I can see someone who just wants mainstream news using PageFlakes a lot more because of this feature.

All in all, I found both sites easy to use with PafeFlakes coming out ahead, as far as the different kinds of content you can add.

Upon closer inspection of both sites, I found that they can serve two different audiences effectively. I use the 'my dad and me' approach.

My dad, being a simple, more casual browser would like the wider range of information provided by PageFlakes. He would like the pictures and video brought to him so he can browse, check the weather, and do a web search right from the same page. I, myself, being a more hardcore surfer and internet user, likes the simple barebones look to Favoor and the ability to have many feeds set up in simple lists. I already have specific sites that I'd just rather go straight to because I already know what I'm looking for. The news feeds are the major plus for me, while browsing pictures and video isn't so much.

One last note I'd like to make is regardless of the user, you have to spend the time to build your page. This would stop my dad right away and send him back to a prebuilt page like Yahoo. If we eliminate the casual surfer, that leaves us with primarily kids and news junkies. As for me, I'd be a news junkie. And with the simplistic look and feel I chose Favoor(indeed I do have it as my start page).




Sunday, October 15, 2006

New extra shiney 3rd column-hmm...yummy

After a lot of grueling, agonizing, painfull (continue to insert adjectives here untill satisfied) coding, I am now the proud father of a third column.
Yep. Look at it. No, really. LOOK AT IT.
There's not much there right now, but I am planning on adding my contact info along with a bunch of widgets.
I love widgets. I think it's safe to say that you can expect to see this site slowly get clogged with numerous widgets, badges, bookmarklets, and any other obtrusive wholly unnecessary gadget that I can squeeze in.

Check my OgOg profile
Addicting Games