Monday, November 27, 2006

What's in a review?

A review is an evaluation of something, a look at something critically, something you give your opinion on. If you evaluate something, you what? You're talking about it from your viewpoint, whether it be a baseball game or the newest digital camera on the market. It's these features that distinguish a review from other literary formats, but interestingly, you can find reviews within those other literary formats.

It's important to realize the difference between facts and opinions when you want to give a genuine review, or when writing any kind of literary work that you want to be accepted by your peers or audience.

I'll try not to get too far into semantics here. A fact is a truth, a reality of something, a verifiable observation, and not simply limited to the definitions I gave. An opinion is a personal view, it's your thoughts towards something, and like fact is not simply limited to the definition I gave.

When giving a review about a product, it is coming from you. It's your opinions your giving about the product. If you leave out everything, every part of yourself and are only giving verifiable truths about the product then it is not a review. It becomes a description, like a technical or operating manual.

Reviews are reviews because of your opinion(s), which is not fact. Reviews can contain facts concerning the product they're reviewing, but the review itself cannot be factual.

Evaluating a review, or giving a review about a review, is simply the same as reviewing a product. If this is the case, then how do we determine what makes a review legitimate, what makes one review better than the other? We get into a case of opinion becoming fact. An opinion can become a fact simply by everyone agreeing on it. We have scholars who have, over the years, studied and agreed upon how one should write scientific journals, all genre of books, and so forth. Today we have agreed upon standards as to what you or I can do to improve our writings.

It's difficult to start quantifying reviews into categories of either bad or good. Because they are based off opinion. We could go to extremes and make up a fictional scenario saying Mr. A and Mr. B both wrote reviews of a digital camera. Mr. A listed all the different functions of the camera and included his opinions. Mr. B wrote a much shorter review, didn't list all of it's functions, and spent much of his review ranting about one aspect of the camera. You or I could probably get away with labeling Mr. B's review as bad, because chances are everyone or at least the majority would agree with us.

The problem, even with this extreme example, is that some people may like it based off different criteria. Maybe it's so funny that people like it based off it's humorous outbursts. Does that make it bad? or good?. You can see how it can be difficult to just have a bad and good category to put reviews in?

What's the criteria for writing the review? What's a person's criteria for reading a review. Even if a person has a set criteria they like to follow when reading, that still may change based on other factors like the specific product or public opinion on how a feature on the product will effect the economy, or the reader simply is wanting to see the latest version of a product because he just likes it, and yet still maybe what's going on around him/her in the world at any given time may change how one reads a review. We could go into a lot of detail about this. It could easily fill a book, and many people have written books on this, but we don't need to go into semantics to understand

It's of course easier to compare reviews when they are both written about the same subject or product, and both are written with the same criteria in mind. It's creating a set of rules to follow. One site may review all of there products based on a system of criteria that they developed. That way there reviews are more consistent from product to product.

You start breaking away from simply trying to place factual labels of good or bad on reviews. You are of course entitled to your opinion whether you think the review is good or bad, but you cannot scientifically, or factually label them, and rightly you shouldn't because everyone is entitled to their opinions.

When I write a review I ask myself who am I writing it for?, why am I writing it-is my goal to tell you how I think a product is bad, or is it to inform the uninformed that a new service is available to them? Am I wanting my audience to be aware of how different products function? I also, personally, like to be lighthearted with my reviews. I like to add a touch of humor-based off my knowledge of the intended audience.

I wrote an informational review about a new service. When I wrote it I tried to cover all the features they offered, and inputed my opinions throughout(based off what I like in that type of service and what I thought others might like). I also wrote a review of Final Fantasy 12. But when I wrote it, I didn't include all the features. I wrote it for an audience that plays games and who have played previous FF games, so it contained more of my opinions than facts about the game. I also don't get paid for my reviews-not yet anyways, so I'm sure that effects how I write a review.

Some may argue that my review of FF sucked, and maybe it did. Do I care? No. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Maybe I would have cared if my intentions were to better inform my audience of how the game worked. But I felt I may bore people who just wanted to know if it is fun compared to describing it in, what I thought would be, nauseating detail. However, they couldn't label my review as bad, unless everyone who matters(my audience) thought my review was bad. But it's a safe bet to say that probably everyone didn't find it bad. Some people, within my target audience, may not have even cared that much. That is to say that if I had a poll and asked if they liked it or not, some might not answer good or bad.

You are not going to be able to please everyone. Someone will always disagree with you. If you want to write a "good" review, or become a "good" writer I would stop and say "hey, I am not a bad writer, but I would like to improve my writing...make it better than what it is right now." If you are a new writer, maybe it'd help you to look up some academic sources on the basics of writing.

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What makes a review good?

So this is the part of the data collection where I'd like to hear your ideas. What do you think makes a review good or bad? weak or strong? If it matters to you to have a little direction, let's say we're specifically talking about tech reviews. But really I'm talking any and all reviews of consumer products.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Is This Review Good or Bad?

Take a look at the two following reviews, of the PS3, by Wired and IGN. How would you rate these?
As a note:I'm aware this is a loaded question, and I'm using the data gathered here for future posts. So just answer honestly. You're welcome to leave comments.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Enhanced Podcasts with Divicast

Technically, I'm still not back yet. I'm just testing out the new Divicast service and wanted to see what their embeddable player looks like. I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm taking the week off, but I'll be "fiddling" with the site a little bit. Just to give you something to pass the time while you wait in anticipation for a new posting from me next week, I'll leave you with a poll. Happy Thanksgiving!

EDIT: Well I took this down to put up a new one. I only got 3 votes-one yah,nay, and neutral. I may just have to wait untill I'm raking in more clickthru's

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Project Vykarious

One of the things I love to do on the net is look up places around the world. Photos, tour guides, a little history, and of course lots of video. Tour videos are nice, but you can't beat some really good footage taken by locals.

So I wanted to take this to the extreme. I searched all over the net for tour sites, video sites, pictures sites, and even did some of my own random site searching. I wanted to pick a place in the world and see if I could make a post or two that really made you feel like you got an immersing experience. I want to take living vicariously to the extreme. This site, in-itself, probably won't provide that, and that's okay. The ultimate goal can take many steps to get there, and this is, I'm sure, the first of many. My hopes are that some new great new ideas come out of this project.

My first step was sketching out what I thought made for a great vicarious trip to a location. Here are the results of that brainstorming session:
  • Show as much as you can of all the unique aspects of the location-scenery, monuments, buildings, parks, culture, eating, etc...
  • Photos-professional, and candid,
  • Some written history, and interesting facts.
  • Samples of the language-little fun facts about the language, samples(hello, goodbye, etc...)
  • Plenty of links to more indepth resources on any topics discussed.
So that's where I'm at right now. I will make many posts on this subject and after I try and retry, discover new things, and refine my experience and knowledge I will combine everything I learned into one big nicely edited post.

For now you can follow my little adventure, along the way I'd love to hear comments and ideas. Got a site I may not list?, or found some better photos? then let me know, and be a part of this little project.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Nintendo Wii Launches

Well, there will undoubtedly be news stories all over the net-many within the next few hours. I've decided to once again enlist the help of stuff a blog to give you a general buzz news release from different parts of the web.

Relevant pics from Flickr

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know Wal-Mart had presales that sold out but i heard you can still line up on launch day to get a Wii?
What time should I go to walmart to wait for the Wii launch?

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As much fun as it is to use StuffaBlog, I still think you can do better on your own. I mean sure it's quick and dirty and great for those spur-of-the-moment updates but the really good posts you do are usually by you.
So I thought I'd post some Wii news resources, but using stuffablogs format.

So first we have pictures via Flickr: I don't know about you, but Flickr Leech is one of the most fun tools out there. Here's my Flickr pics for "Wii launch"

Now we need some "Relevant News":
Okay so, I may have kinda skimped but to tell the truth I don't like how this post's formatting is coming out. So I'm going to bow out gracefully here, and say I'm sorry for such a bad post.

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Blog Queen Extraordinare

Well, seems like everyone is starting to talk about her, apart from the people who are already giving her blog over 100 million hits/month from Japan.

Shoko Nakagawa, or Shocotan as her fans call her, is a former pin-up queen turned game cosplayer. How the two are exactly different seems a bit sketchy. A few searches around the internet can give the impression that she is still notable for her very pin-uppable photos. Although, I suppose, her pictures are of her dressing up as anime and game characters specifically.

She's getting lots of advertising deals and probably the most notable news is her constantly updating blog(multiple posts a day) being printed as a book called Shocotan Blog. I've had trouble finding out if she holds the #1 spot for most popular book turned blog, or blook. Maybe I'll buy it, and do a separate review in the future.

There's also some video from youtube of her seemingly giving a lesson to someone about Otaku culture.

Part 1/3:

Part 2/3:

Part 3/3(unbroadcast):


There's plenty more videos of her on youtube. I'm sorry, but I'm going to make you do the work. There's a handful of mixed videos with her and of her including:clips of a game show, footage of her in a bikini, etc...

She is commonly known as being somewhat of a nerd, and perhaps it is this very fact, along with her cute looks, that makes her so endearing and attractive. One more tidbit for you-One thing she's known for is liking to put her pe
t cats head in her mouth. I'm not making that up.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Emergency Trap special popcast-Andy & Kathleen's podcast lesson #01

Here it is, a podcast just for you. Awww...
removed player
Well, this was supposed to be displayed using the clickcaster player but you'll just have to pretend.

Okay, this next one is what my camera image looks like while I hold it. As you can see It's pretty shaky, and it's not all me:) I also filmed this in TV high quality(640x480) although You're watching it on a screen size of 320x240

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

PS3 Mini Directory-Dissection photos/videos

With all the PS3 dissection sites popping up, I thought it would be nice to make a list of some of the ones that have original photos, videos, and content on the subject. Makes it a bit easier for you. The fact that it took me a good amount of time and effort to track the different sites down proves that it would be nice to have them gathered all in one place. So, I'm hoping I'm the first one to do this, but I doubt it.

Each one of these sites have original content. You shouldn't find duplicate photos or video between them.
  • Bit-tech: You can see the 4 part video of the PS3, and it's controller being Dissected.
  • GamePro: They have scanned images of the manual(English).
  • PC.Watch: 30+ photos showing components and guts(Japanese).
  • PC.Watch: (English translation).
  • DailyTech: 13 photos showing components and guts.
  • RuliWeb: tons of photos showing close-ups and games(Korean).
  • RuliWeb: (English Translation)
If you find any other original content, please leave a comment and let me know. Thanks.

GearLive features Emergency Trap, and some site updates

I felt honored and happy when I saw that GearLive printed an article of mine. "GearLive is a trend-setting web magazine, launched in June 2004, devoted to the high tech lifestyle". I thought I'd try to repay the favor by posting one of their recent videos covering Microsoft's new Zune MP3 player. Check it out.

I've been tooling around the net looking for more blog add-ons-I told you, in an earlier post, I like to fill my site with tons of widgets. Usually what I do in the long run is tone the site down. I like to keep a particular desing aspect in mind-usually something simple/minimalistic. Then I add add add. Eventually it gets pretty crowded, Then when it's to where I think I've got way to many things just cluttering the site, I do a spring cleaning. Along the way, I may tweak the overall design a bit. I'm already thinking about getting one of those all-in-one bookmark buttons to replace the cornucopia of 'bookmark this' buttons I have after every post.

I just added a MyBlogLog widget to show recent visitors. MyBlogLog has really gotten popular in just a short period of time. You can find it in the left column toward the bottom. I almost took of the MyChingo widget(it hadn't been working recently), but it's back and working fine. Don't forget about the Wikergency Trap-Emergency Trap's wiki on web 2.0 companies and sites.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wanna-be Writer in the Works

I created a tiny site to showcase and store articles I write online. I'm going to try writing reviews for a gaming site that's starting up soon.

I'm going to write for a column called Electric Panda. I'm not quite sure how the flavor of the reviews will come out or exactly what the creators expect of me yet, but I will be sure to post updates as I get them.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Random MEGA PS3 and Wii post

Okay, you asked for it, well didn't. But, You're getting it anyway. It's almost here, the public release of the PS3, and the Wii. So I'm doing a crazy complex mixed up mash of PS3 and Wii news. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I know the format is all mixed up, and maybe some day I'll go in and edit it up to look nice, but for now you'll have to deal.

ps3 ,
Relevant pics from Flickr

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ps3 ...................?
??? Ps3 ???
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Relevant pics from Flickr

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A Nintendo surprise? Mais Wii!

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Nintendo Wii.....?
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Nintendo Wii?
nintendo wii?

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ps3 , games ,
Relevant pics from Flickr

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Yahoo Answers
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My question is, can you play PS3 games on a PS2?
Now that E3 is here, are you more excited about the new XBOX 360 games or PS3 games?
Will PS3 games be shown in widescreeen on a regular tv?
what will be the best game for ps3 on the day the ps3 comes out.?
is it true that if you play a ps3 game once.. you cant play it in any other ps3 console?
anyone know a price for a ps3 games?
I want to know if it's possible to use only the controller on PS3 games that use the motion feature of the PS3

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Relevant pics from Flickr

No data

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Yahoo Answers
Who do you think will win the next console war? Wii, PS3, or XBox 360?
who will win the console wars the wii,ps3,or xbox360?
Who will dominate the future console wars? Y?
i am looking for peoples point of views on the ps3 and console wars over all.?
Nintendo Wii -----Is The New Console Capable of Beating The PS3 & XboX 360 in The Console War????
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Console Wars?
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PS3: who thinks $600 and mediocre design will be demise of Sony's console during this round of Console Wars?

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Final Fantasy 12 part 02

Well, I've got about 12 hrs in game play racked up and I thought I'd post another impression of the game thus far.

I'm really loving the game play. The battle system reminds me a lot of strategy games like the old Battletech pc game, and MOO. So I wasn't new to the concept of the gambit system which lets you set certain basic commands for your party members to initiate while in a battle. I like the gambit system and think you can get pretty unique and complex actions out of it, even if your other party members are acting on their own.

The other thing I love is the License board. It reminds me a little of the sphere system from FFX, but they didn't just stick with skills and abilities. They included everything in the license board-weapons, equipments, spells, abilities. It's an all-in-one deal, and it's really great.

The only thing is that it's starting to seem like they should have made the license board bigger and included more
things. I'm only 12 hrs into the game and have already earned enough license points to buy many licenses. It seems that I will have purchased most of the licenses well before I'm finished with the game, and that may make it less fun. I don't like the thought of playing much of the game without being able to do anything else on the LB.

There is still plenty of sidequests, and secrets as is typical with the FF franchise, so maybe that will keep me occupied enough to not care about the LB.

Also, I haven't even really gotten into the story. I just got Basche in my party and found out a little bit about why it looked like he killed the King of Dalmasca and my friend was kidnapped because some goons want to use her as bait to get to my other party member Balthier the skypirate.

I'll be sure to post further updates in due time.

Friday, November 10, 2006

10duke-another video hosting site?

I'm not quite how 10duke is going to hold up. I mean they offer free video uploading and embedding in you site, but doesn't other media moguls like Youtube and Metacafe? Well I went over and signed up for a free account. It gives you 25MB free storage, ability to embed in your site, and auto video conversion. There's a pay version that gives you 250MB storage and non-branded player embedding.

Perhaps some people like the creators of 10duke are thinking ahead to the possible video bubble bust. With Google acquiring youtube, and a lot of companies using the site as well as other popular sites like Myspace, maybe we might see the end of free video communities switching to a commercialized video internet. I hope that doesn't happen. Free video communities like youtube have been one of the best things to come to the internet in a long time. It would be a shame to see commercialization put a stop to that. It would just set the net back.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New, and some old but interesting gadgets

SPH-P9000: This portable media device by Samsung seems a bit over the top. It's chock full of digital goodness. With a size of 143x94x29mm and weight of 580g it has Windows XP, a 30GB hard disk, 256MB RAM, 1GHz CPU, WiMAX, CDMA EV-DO(EV-DO=Evolution Data-Optimized), and a 1.3MP camera. There's also a fold out QWERTY keyboard. It's like carrying around an "uber-PDA". Samsung has it pegged for an initial Korean launch during the first half of 2007.

You can check out plenty of pictures of it over at Akihabara News.

Bored of the iDog? Well Sharper Image has a new music player that connects to your MP3 player-the miFlower.

It's a Dancing, LED flashing fun flower that will play your music, tell you the time, and liven up any room in your house. At around 8" tall, it will wave it's two leaves, light up its six petals with colorful LED's, dsiplay happy images on its display, and
even tell you the time. It also has a motion sensor, so even if your not playing music you can wave your hand in front of it to start it moving.

It runs on
4 AAA and 3 AG13 1.5V button cell batteries(not included), and is priced at $24.95.

Sony Ericsson MBW-100 Bluetooth watch: In conjuction with Fossil, Sony Erricson has created the MBW-100 Bluetooth watch. The watch allows you to operate a Bluetooth compatible phone. You can control music playback on your phone, and the watch can be set to vibrate when you get an incoming call, and you can ignore the call as well. Incoming calls could be displayed on the phone as a number or contact name. There's also a place on the phone for TXT messages.

It's like a Bluetooth powered remote control for you phone.

Speaking of watches, I've always liked the Art 8 by EleeNo over at TokyoFlash.

Spacemouse Plus: If you like overpriced mouse controllers then the Spacemouse Plus is for you. It costs a whopping $500. 3D Connexion has this expensive mechanical rodent which contains 11 programmable buttons, and claims to boost productivity by up to 30%. It runs off USB, has sensitivity control, 6 degrees of freedom optical sensor, and works with over 120 applications. For the graphic designer who has everything.

I found this one over at The Daily Giz Wiz. I know Halloween is already past, but that's no reason you can't start planning early for next year. The Special FX Unit plugs into your lights or lamps and with the included CD creates a Halloween atmosphere. Watch as the lights respond to the different sound effects on the FX CD, plus it boasts that it works with your own CD's. The best part, for anyone interested in this little gadget, is the 50% off price tag. Sometimes it's good to buy your Halloween party favors after Halloween.

My favorite magazine, Wired, had this one on their site. What's slightly larger than an iPod and gives you the power of a DJ in a portable device? The Micro BR that's what. It offers four simultaneous playback tracks (plus 32 V-Tracks), an SD Card slot, onboard multi-effects, built-in rhythm patterns, a tuner, MP3 compatibility, USB, and much more. Plus it's just so pretty to look at. Gadget lovers beware.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Netcasting-the evolution of podcasting

I'm experimenting with a podcast format, so I can enter the world casting. Leo Laporte over at The TWIT Netcast Network are trying to spark a revolution by changing the universally known "podcasting" to "netcasting". I like this idea and from this moment forward, I will refer to it as netcasting. Thanks Leo, you have always been and continue to be a mover-and-a-shaker.

So basically, I just want to make a fun lighthearted netcast about what I've been doing, and what I've been into lately. Things like Final Fantasy, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica have my attention right now. Also, if I can come up with a good netcast format, I could make more regular, and consistent netcasts eventually creating a regular "show".

Sunday, November 05, 2006


There are a lot of new web 2.0 collaboration sites popping up all over the net. Thinkature has to be one of the best I've seen thus far.

Yes, it seems to be just another mashup site combining communication tools with a whiteboard, but thinkature's unique interface can make it more. Combining a nice modicum of graphics with the ability to add graphics of your own, and freehand in a very simplisitc design makes it attractive. There's no lag to speak of when pointing and clicking to create new boxes, or assigning values to the boxes. Links appear instantly just by typing the URL.

I know I should fight the urge and talk about all the wonderful business aspects of this, but I just have to go straight to the fun. With the ability to share photos, create text boxes, draw, and even chat in real-time all in a synchonous website, it makes for an awesome uber-chat forum. You can manage invites to your account to keep spammers at bay. Once you have your group you can really communicate in a much more dynamic way than simply using a chatroom or instant messenger. Sure you can share photos, and even voice chat using an IM, but you do it in a linear fashion that takes away that feeling of "hanging" with your friends or family.

With the ability to share photos(and even draw on them), chat, and doodle in real-time, all on the same site, you really feel like you're with the person, and not just chatting with them from miles away.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Mod Your Cell Phone's and PDA's

Bored with your cellphone but you don't have the money for a new one, or you just don't want to throw your hard earned cash at an expensive new one? Try modding your existing one. With a little imagination and a little technical help, you can modify your cell phone or PDA into a truly unique device that is all you.

Check out MetkuMod's Modding Gallery. There are plenty of full color, step-by-step guides to get your imagination running. Unfortunately most of the phones are much older models, but it sure is a fun alternative to throwing your old phone in the trash.

Metku is not only cell phones either. If you decide to check out their site, you really should pay a visit to their Hall of Fame. I particularly liked the computer monitor scorpion mod.

Check out some of these other cell phone modding sites. Remember, Emergency Trap does not condone any illegal actions.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Final Fantasy Xll-My first impressions pt. 01

Yes, Final Fantasy Xll is finally here. I haven't purchased it myself, but I had a whole evening to give it a spin. I'm now officially hooked, and of course will have to play the whole way through. But I'm just posting a "first impressions" post today.

When you first pop in the disc, you are treated to a terrific movie animation that's a fly through of a beautiful city. By the way, I'm leaving out any details because I am giving my opinions on the game, and besides with this game showing is much better than telling.

Then after you select 'new game' from the title menu, you are treated to even more breathtaking animation before you actually start playing.

Yes, in fact I want to talk more about my impression of the game, than actually describe the game. So please don't be annoyed.

Way back when FFX came out, I thought "Square Enix really seemed to have pushed the PS2's capabilities to the limit." But I was wrong. It only took me a second to see that the animation itself was much better. The in-game graphics look very close to FFX. I've played a couple hours and am free to look around a sprawling city. I've checked out about half so far. The voice overs that I've heard so far seem very well done.

Overall the look and feel of the game seems more mature, but there is still that humorous side that is now typical in FF games-I went to claim a bounty on a vicious Tomato Monger, and cut down some Cactites along the way(tiny green cactus beings that hobbled around like penguins and waved their little arms in a menacing but cute manner).

This is just the first of many posts on the game as I play through the story. I'm not going to worry to much about spoilers in the coming days. Most players are well past my point I'm sure, as I post this. So anyone who hasn't played the game yet, just avoid reading my future posts on FFXll.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

iCall-Are totally free calls finally here?

Well, not quite, but iCall offer more than most. iCall offers free phone calls to landlines anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, and recieving calls for free from anywhere in the world.

You need to download and install their software, and have a set of speakers and a mic, but after that you're good to go.

I haven't tried the software yet, mainly because I already have too many phone programs as is. I know Skype is advertising free calls to any landline in the U.S. and Canada, but that's only good until the end of 2006. iCalls claims there are no restrictions and ridiculously low prices on international calling.

It will be interesting to see what Skype does, if anything. As for me, I have everything I need in my cell phone plan. I don't think I will get totally excited until I see a way to have a cheap or free cell phone that let's me talk to anyone on a landline or using computer software anywhere in the world.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Quikmaps-making google maps easy to use and highly customizable

Quickmaps lets you make your own maps complete with a wide selection of icon tags, word tags, and even let's you draw freehand in multiple colors. You can then save it and/or put it on your site.

Quickmaps uses googles map technology and builds on it by letting you costum label it in many unique ways. I "doodled" up a quick map showing Emergency Trap's location to show you an example.

It's a great site. I think it's about time somebody gives you the freedom to label maps. I wish I found this site when I was planning my trip to Philadelphia.

I might put up a map on Emergency Trap permanently, but I'll wait until I can do a better job at labeling it.

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