IN·ovation

Technology that helps us… Technology that Wows us!

Free Photo Software

Posted by kbaggs on May 7, 2006

As the switch to digital continues. 2 of the steps that are usually missed is organizing and touching up those digital photos. Now there are several packages out there. From Adobe Photoshop at the high end to Adobe Elements at the low end. There is one package that is consistenly highly rated for its ease of use. Not to mention, it is free. This is Picasa software. Google bought the company and now offers the software for free. Just click on the button in my Links section to get this software for free. It will help you keep those photos backed up, organized and looking their best.

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Never WRITE another To Do List

Posted by kbaggs on May 3, 2006


How many Post-It notes or scraps of paper do you have in your wallet or purse? How many different lists do you have floating around? No More! Now you can have one list, or one list per category. But no more transporting information around to try and consolidate it. As an added bonus, and for those of us with signifigant others. You can share your list. So whether it is a grocery list, or a “honey-do” list or goals. You can have it all in one place.

A few posts back during one of my Web 2.0 discussions I talked about a company called 37 Signals. One of their products is called TaDa lists. It allows you to create lists online. So if you’re at work and something comes to mind, you simply add it to the list. When I get home, I simply call up the list and review. I have added the web site to my links folder in my favorites. So it gives me a button on my browser.

I have created several lists. Personal To Do’s, Work at home and Blog topics. Now I can go to my Blog topics list and check off “Never WRITE another To Do List!” If you would like to have input on my Blog Topics, drop me an email, and I can share the list with you.

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Listening to your iPod in your Car

Posted by kbaggs on April 29, 2006

I have been asked by a few people to share on how to listen to their iPod through their car stereo system. There are a few methods of doing this. The most common is connecting your iPod to an FM transmitter and listening to your iPod via the radio. There are 2 products that I am familiar with that do this. The iTrip by Griffin Technology was one of the first. They have since come out with several versions, including one that supports the Nano. The iTrip sells for about $30 US.

The unit that I use is the Sonnet PodFreq. I was told it had a stronger transmitter. I like 2 things about this unit. First, the signal strenght is excellent. I have never had to search for multiple channels to get this to work. Even if you get into an area, where there is a lot of signal cross over, you can extend the antenna and get a stronger connection. The second reason that I chose this unit was because of their partership with Proclip USA, an auto specific bracket company. I ordered the bracket for my vehicle and now I have a permanent place to sit my iPod when I am in the car. It also comes with a charger for the iPod while it is in the car. They have a unit for the Nano. The PodFreq sells for about $100 US.

Both the above units are FM transmitters. The next way of connecting your iPod is to hard wire it to your car stereo. There are 2 ways of doing this. Some car stereos today have an 3.5 mm stereo jack for aux. input. You can simply buy a cable with the 3.5 mm jack at both ends and plug one end into your iPod and the other into the jack on your stereo. The sound quality is a little better, and you don’t have to worry about FM signal reception.

The other way to hard wire your sytem into the car stereo is to buy and adapter that plugs into the CD changer plug in the back of the car stereo and connects to the iPod via the iPod dock. For sound quality, this is by far the best solution. However, you get what you pay for as this is also close to $200. The most available product I have seen is the iPod2Car from Peripheral Electronics. This system is available from BestBuy or Futureshop. Note, this installation is not for the general population.

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Why didn’t I think of that?

Posted by kbaggs on April 26, 2006


Have you ever been to a bar and played the on-screen trivia game against others in the bar? Now you can play these same games at home. Zapit games has come out with Game Wave. It is a game controller that supports up to 6 remote contols. It comes with 25 hours of trivia questions and scores are based on how fast you answer and…of course, answering correctly. Pricing is about $130 and you can order direct from Zapit or get it at TOYS ‘R’ US or Mastermind Games. There are 7 other games available for about $30 each.

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Could this beat the iPod?

Posted by kbaggs on April 26, 2006


Samsung has realeased their new YP-Z5 MP3 player. Several reviews have stated “this could be the one” to take a bite out of the iPod market share. The unit comes in 1, 2 or 4-GB versions similar to the Nano. But it has a bigger screen of 1.82 inches. It has 35 hours of battery life which is about 2X the Nano. It supports the Microsoft DRM so that means you have numerous music sites to download from.

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Use Skype without a PC

Posted by kbaggs on April 20, 2006


I am a big fan of Skype. Who wouldn’t be, free phone calls anywhere in the world. Check out my Skype-me icon on top right.

Netgear has introduced a new phone that is Skype compatible and you don’t need a PC to use it. This is the first time I have seen this. There are a lot of Skype compatible phones, but they all plug into PC’s in order to work. This phone can be use anywhere there is WiFi access; like Starbucks or Second Cup for example. You can receive or make phone calls to anyone on your contact list for free.

The phone is coming soon, and you can Pre-order Phone Here

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Logitech Wireless, Bluetooth iPod headphones

Posted by kbaggs on April 16, 2006


I recently had a chance to try out the Logitech wireless, bluetooth, iPod headphones. They are the perfect match for the iPod. They have a small tranceiver that plugs into the top of your iPod. (note 5th generation and Video iPods will not work if they have the output plug at the bottom). The reception works up to about 30 feet. On the headphones you can control volume, song track forward or back, play and pause…and all without any wires to get in your way.

Our daughter gave them a try and now I may never see them again. She wandered all over the house and kept yelling out…”I can still hear the song!”

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Changing cell phones

Posted by kbaggs on April 15, 2006


Are you thinking about changing to a new cell phone? Does the idea of spending hours tranferring your contacts over to the new phone reason enough not to get that new cell phone. Spark Technology has a solution with their CellStik.

This device looks like a USB memory stick. It has a USB connection at one end, and a phone specific connector at the other. You connect the stick to your phone and it automatically downloads all of your contacts onto the stick. Then you plug the stick into your computer and upload. The bonus, is that the software on the PC allows you to enter and edit your contacts using a full size keyboard. When you’re ready to get the new phone, you just reverse the process above to load up your phone. (note, if you stay with the same phone manufacturer you can use the same CellStik. If you change, you will need 2).

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Apple Boot Camp

Posted by kbaggs on April 11, 2006

About a month ago PCMag journalist John C. Dvorak said that Apple would replace their OS with Windows. It created quite a commotion in the blogsphere. When reporters asked Apple store employees if Macs would ever run Windows. The usual reply was when pigs can fly and when Hell freezes over.

Well as of a few days ago we have airborne swine and it’s pretty frosty in Hades. Apple released Boot Camp. This software allows Intel based Macs to run Windows XP. Lot’s of speculation about why Apple would do this. The fact that Apples stock went up almost 10% over the proceeding 2 days would indicate that this is a good thing for Apple.

Now John wasn’t completely right as they are not throwing away OS X. But the fact that you can now run Windows on Macs raises some interesting questions. For example, say someone really liked the Mac user interface, but just had to run some Windows application for work. Now they don’t have to use a PC any longer. There is also talk about the soon to be released Intel Conrow dual core chips that will allow true dual processing. Think of it like using the alt-tab to switch between OS X and Windows XP on a Mac. Each having their own dedicated processor. A company called Parallels allows this to happen right now. There is even word that Microsoft is going to revamp their virtual Windows software to take advantage of the new x86 based Intel processors.

It’s going to be a very interesting year for Apple.

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What is Web 2.0, Part II

Posted by kbaggs on April 8, 2006

This post will cover the second part of What is Web 2.0. The rich user interface. I believe the first wide user experience to this was the new Google maps. These maps use a programming language called AJAX. Which is a combination of Java Scripts and XML. The key point about AJAX is that you no longer need to reload the whole page, each time something changes. Previously, on MapQuest for example, if you wanted to move the map, you had to reload the whole page, which can take time. With Google maps, you simply grab the map and move it. AJAX is quickly becoming the standard for web development. Where it gets really interesting, is that suddendly, you can have a web page act just like an application on your computer. To see more of this technology here are some of the more popular Web 2.0 sites.

Backpack by 37 signals is a project management and todo list tracker.

If you really want to see the power of AJAX, check out Protopage. You can customize a personal homepage by dragging and dropping right on the screen. Give it a try it is remarkable what you can do.

Microsoft has noticed this trend and are developing their Live platform of Web services. They have a long list of services that have been coming out quickly. By using the Web as the platform, development is very fast.There is also another reason for Microsoft’s focus on the Web as a platform. First, there has been speculation for some time that Google is coming out with an online Office platform. The recent purchase of Writely (an online word processor) by Google added to this speculation. Mary J. Foley also speculates on her blog that going to the Web platform also helps Microsoft on the legal front. As there will no longer be issues with what they bundle together.

The other trend you are seeing with Web 2.0 applications is Mashups. The unique characteristic of AJAX is that it is an open language. Because it uses scripts, anyone can look at the source code of an application. Therefore it is easy to take Google Maps and mashup the map with a listing of apartment rentals and create a web site called Housingmaps.com.

So getting back to the original question. What is Web 2.0. It is open source, coopetition, cooperation, social networking. And to coin a popular description of Web 2.0 it is Folksonomy!

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