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PDAs August 17, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Hardware, Technology.

I’ve been wanting a PDA for awhile now. I think my life has actually become hectic enough to where it might come in handy. The only problem is I’m not sure what to get. I don’t think I need anything too complicated; just the basics for a first try. I don’t think I would want to take the plunge into a PDA/Cell Phone combo ($400+ most places I’ve seen), until I knew I liked having the PDA functionality.

Here are the features I think I want:

To Do List
Address Book
Alarms/reminders for appointments
Computer Synchronization
Document Access (ability to edit word,excel files, etc)
Internet capable (check email, sports, etc) – Possible wi-fi option
MP3 music ready

I checked at the Palm website (for starters) and the Palm Z22 ($99), Tungsten E2 ($199), Palm TX ($299) all look like they could potentially fill my needs. $300 would definetely be my top-end price range. If I were to spend any more, I might as well get a PDA/Phone combo; a Treo of some variety.

I know there are different types of memory, programs, and operating systems on these things, but other than that I’m clueless. I’d really like to hear from some PDA user, or you tech-savvy folks who know more about this and might be able to help me.

Any knowledge you can pass on would be great. Such as which companies/units to avoid, other caveats to keep in mind when buying a PDA (accessories, etc), or any other helpful tidbits. I’d greatly appreciate your help.


Best of the Web: YouTube.com August 16, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Internet, Technology.

After I read this article, I figured I would start my “Best of the Web” posts. I had already planned on doing these random best of the web posts, and I figured this was as good a time as any to start.

I’m constantly on the internet and I always seem to find an interesting site or tool that is worth passing on to all of you. That is basically the gist of these posts.

As the post title indicates, I’m focusing on youtube.com today.

Until recently, I hadn’t really visited YouTube very often. I had heard of it, and seen it linked to incessantly across the web; but I hadn’t really checked it out.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve visited it on an almost daily basis, and I never leave without a good laugh. I usually come to YouTube in search of some hilarious bit to give me my daily dose of humor.

Here’s my favorite so far scary wolf!(video clips, so if you’re at work, make sure your volume is down)

I’ve also checked out some others such as the mentos and coke videos (mythbusters just recently did an episode on this phenomenon also), the mac spoofs (of the new mac tv commercials), and I’ve heard all the talk about the latest Britney Spears video.

As the article I linked to earlier states, YouTube has cracked the top 50 most visited websites in the world. This is quite an accomplishment, especially once you consider all of the websites out there today.

If you’ve been on the web for an eternity, like I have, and want something different or just want to kill some time surfing the web; check out YouTube.

Feel free to share your favorite YouTube videos, or your “best of the web” nominees.

AMD/ATI merger July 25, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Technology.
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Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is going to buy ATI Technologies Inc., for $5.4 billion. Here’s the complete story.amdati.jpg

AMD makes processors for PCs and ATI makes GPUs (graphics processing units a.k.a. graphics cards), motherboard chipsets, etc. ATI is primarily known for its graphics cards. Your graphics card is what your monitor connects to at the back of your PC and it determines how well your monitor renders graphics, etc.

This is the second large-scale merger between two tech companies in less than 18 months. The last big merger of such was between Adobe and Macromedia (a $3.4 billion deal) last year.
As someone who deals extensively with PC hardware and software; these mergers have left me with a sense of uncertainty about the products I love to buy and use.

An example: I love to buy AMD processors. They usually outperform Intel and they are boatloads cheaper. How does this merger affect their CPU development?

If you read some of the financial analysis of this merger, it doesn’t sound like the best thing financially with AMD. However, I’m sure if Intel did the same thing we might be hearing the same sorts of talk. Nvidia, another GPU builder and ATI’s main competition, could possibly benefit from this deal.

Another example: I love Adobe AND Macromedia products. Adobe and Macromedia build similar programs. Which versions will they keep; Adobe’s versions or Macromedia’s?

I hear they will keep Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, InDesign, Acrobat, and some others. I’ve also heard Freehand (Macromedia’s Illustrator equivalent) is toast and maybe even fireworks (Macromedia’s Photoshop equivalent).

All of this said, we really won’t see the true fallout (or success) of these HUGE mergers until they release their first batch of consolidated software or hardware packages. I’m really anxious to see the upcoming releases from each of these mergers, and you should be too. These are some of the biggest players in the PC hardware/software markets.

This will not only affect people like me (people who make their living with computers), but it will also affect vendors such as Dell, HP, and so on. Which in turn, means it will affect anyone buying a computer in the future.

Site Feeds July 24, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Technology.
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If any of my OUSTANDING readers are looking for an easier way to keep up with this blog; try using a feed aggregator (often called a feed reader) such as: Pluck, Thunderbird, Google Reader, NewsGator, etc.

A feed, in non-technical terms, is a very lightweight and compact version of the text/images/etc that you would normally read in a post on a blog, website, etc. This lightweight version usually cuts out all the extra webpage coding and other business you would normally see. The feed is basically just text and images and that’s it.

You can use a feed aggregator (often called a feed reader) program and setup links to your desired feeds. There a free feed readers out there and they are usually easy to setup.

Feeds are usually listed somewhere on the blog or website in plain view and might say subscribe or syndicate. Once you have setup links to a feed, everytime new information is posted to the blog or site you link to it automatically gets sent to your feed reader where you can view it.

Basically, if you read multiple blogs/sites every day it makes life much easier and you don’t have to keep returning to websites over and over again. This saves a lot of time and you can easily keep up with your information, and you’ll always know when new info is available because your program will tell you automatically.

Personally, I use Mozilla’s Thunderbird application. It’s an email client and has an RSS reader built-in. It’s pretty sweet, because I can check my mail and my blogs/news in the same application. Here’s a post I did on the Mozilla Project and it talks a little bit about Thunderbird.

I’ve tried Pluck and it also works very nicely.

Let me know if any of you are picking up my feed(s) (listed in the sidebar to the right) and how it’s working. I have two feeds, one is a standard feed for my posts and the other is for comments made to the site. Also, please chime in with other feed reader programs not listed above.

The Mozilla Project July 20, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Software, Technology.
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It’s finally time to put a true tech post out here on the ol’ blog.

This one is going to focus on a topic that I absolutely love: free software.

I should be even more descriptive; great, free software.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, aren’t tech savvy, or just don’t like change; you’ve been missing out on two of the best FREE PC software products available….Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird.firefox-128.jpg

Firefox is an ANSWER to Internet Explorer; not an alternative. Firefox is an open-source web browser that blows the doors off of IE. Honestly, the only time I use IE is for running windows update which will not allow me to use another web browser. IE7, which is still in beta form last time I checked, will finally get IE within striking distance of Mozilla. IE7 will offer tabbed browsing, better security, RSS subscriptions, pop-up blocker, etc. Most of these options have been availabe in Firefox for well over a year now. If you aren’t using it already…you should be.thunderbird-128.jpg

Thunderbird is an email client and is the counterpart of Outlook/Outlook Express, Eudora, Opera, etc. Thunderbird offers most of the same capabilities as Outlook or any other similar email client program. You should check it out sometime.

mozilla-foundation.jpgThe Mozilla Project has ties to Netscape (which is now owned by AOL) which had/has all sorts of ties to the University of Illinois and the NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications). This makes Mozilla products even more special, because they have ties to the Champaign-Urbana area and the University of Illinois in particular. You can read more about Mozilla’s history here.

Open source software is great. I absolutely love it. I currently use both Firefox and Thunderbird on all my PCs, and I’ve been using them both for well over a year and I haven’t even thought about switching back.

Please, check out the Mozilla Project website and get your free download of Firefox; the PC World 2005 Product of the Year. Also check out Thunderbird which I predict will be winning some awards of it’s own in the near future.

Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the Mozilla Project and any other great, free, open-source software you use.