Friday, December 28, 2012

Help Me Sell My Nook Color

Sorry for the crappy picture, but my iPod does not take very good shots.
Hi, guys. I bought a Nook Color a couple of months ago. I've decided to upgrade to a Nexus 7, but in order to do so I need your help. I just posted the Nook on Ebay. I installed Cynogenmod on it after I bought it, but I have since reflashed it to the original software. I updated the software to the latest version (1.4.3). I tested it to make sure that it works by downloading a couple books and apps. (I since erased and deregistered.) It also comes with a screen protector installed and a cover. I'm also throwing in a 16 GB microSD card because the Nook only has 1GB for non-Barnes and Noble content.

Why am I selling it? Because it works great as an ebook reader, but not so good as an Android tablet. If you want a device to read book and listen to music, that has all the extras that all tablets need (i.e. screen protector, cover, and extra memory), then give this auction a look. If you are not interested, but know someone who might be, send them this link.

You can find the auction here:

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Facebook Uses Firefox Integration to Fight the Exploding Growth of Google Plus

Back in April, I wrote an article entitled What Browser Should Facebook Buy? about the need for Facebook to use a browser to direct traffic to the social network. It is important for them to do this because Google will eventually leverage Chrome to do just that. In that article, I stated that Facebook had two options: build or buy. It turns out that there is a third option: integrate.

Starting with Firefox 17, Facebook has been integrated into the browser. This feature is called Messenger for Firefox. It adds the ability to chat, check notification, and friend requests. You can turn it on by going here if you have Firefox 17/

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Kindle App is My Favorite App (Android or iOS)

The Kindle app is my favorite app for both iOS and Android.
I say this for one simple reason: you can use it to read any document or article on any device.  I have tried other e-reader and read later software. The best one I found was the Kindle app. The beauty is that this app turns your device into an e-reader without limitations. With a Kindle DX or Paperwhite, you are limited to reading, unless you jailbreak or root it. Not so when you use one of the Kindle apps. If you have an iPod with the Kindle app (like I have), you have all of the power of a Kindle e-reader plus access to a world of other apps and games. My point is that you can use a FREE app to turn your device into an e-reader instead of shelling out extra money.

Out of the box, the only way you can get documents into the Kindle app is to email them to an Amazon account. However,the file types that you are allowed to email are limited. To over come this limitation you can use a site called WappWolf to convert documents to a Kindle friendly format. You can configure WappWolf to monitor a DropBox folder. Once it detects a file it will convert it to a Kindle format and sent it to  your Kindle.

Another great tool is called Klip.Me extension for Chrome is the best extension I have found to send articles to Kindle from your browser. It works better then the official extension from Amazon, for some reason. The best extension that I found for Firefox is Push to Kindle.

To download the Kindle apps for iOS, Android and other, go here. Enjoy reading.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Windows 8

A couple of days ago, I decided I would give Windows 8 a try and installed the Consumer Preview on VirtualBox. In fact, I am writing this post on Windows Live Writer 2012 on Windows 8.
Here are my initial thoughts about Windows 8 after spending a few hours with it.
The Good
  • Desktop UI (User Interface) is very similar to Windows 7. The glass taskbar from Windows 7 is still present.
  • Integration of Microsoft products. In order to sign in, you need a Microsoft (or Windows Live or Hotmail) ID. Once you enter your Microsoft ID, your calendar, mail, pictures and other data is automatically populated.
  • The task manager has been redesigned to give you tons more information about processor, network and hard drive usage.
  • The Windows Explorer has gotten it’s biggest makeover since Windows XP. Like many other Microsoft products, it is equipped with the new Ribbon interface. It gives you the ability to perform many functions with only a few clicks.
  • The Desktop UI is only slightly different than Windows 7. There are no rounded corners, only square edges. Overall it’s not much over a change, but still nice to look at.
The Bad
  • In order to install the touch friendly Windows 8 apps, you need to use the Store tile. I tried it and it was slow and painful to browse. Thankfully you can still download the latest version of your favorite program and run it like before in the desktop.
  • Windows Media Player no longer has DVD playback support, so you cannot play DVDs out of the box. However, you can download VLC to enjoy your films.
The Ugly
  • Microsoft announced that you will not be able to boot directly to the desktop. This means that every time that you boot up, you are forced to see the new Start Screen covered with multicolored tiles.
  • As far as I know, there is no way to turn off the Start Screen. For computers that do not have touch enabled screens this will become annoying very quickly. To understand what I mean, make all the icons on your screen an inch square.
  • No Start Button. This is my biggest gripe. Hitting the Start button pulls up the Start Screen, which is a pain to use.
There are some nice features in Windows 8, but there are also some real pains. I think that Microsoft spent way too much time trying to make Windows 8 touch and tablet friendly by default. These features should be optional to desktop and laptop users. It is almost like they are forcing touch technology on you. Since I just installed Windows 7, I will not be upgrading anytime soon and I would not recommend that anyone rush out and do that either once Windows 8 comes out in the Fall. Wait for Windows 9 to see if they come to their senses.

Friday, April 27, 2012

What Browser Should Facebook Buy?

The other day there was an interesting article on entitled “Why Facebook Needs to Build a Browser”. The main idea of the article is that Google's Chrome browser would soon over take other browsers, including Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Since Google's overall strategy is to send people to their products to get as much ad revenue as possible, once Chrome becomes dominant all social network users will be sent to Google's very own Google Plus social network. Google has already begun building Google Plus buttons and connections into all of their products. It's only a matter of time before it becomes a built-in feature in Chrome. This mean that Facebook would need to build a browser.

The problem is Facebook should build a browser or buy one? At the current rate of Chrome market share growth, Facebook would need to move quickly, so building a browser from scratch is out of the question. Their best bet is to purchase an existing browser and adapt it to their needs. But which one? It would have to be one of the current top four browsers.

Facebook could made a deal with Microsoft to create a fork of Internet Explorer, but I don't like that idea for two reasons. First, I doubt Microsoft would appreciate losing control of their property. Second, IE is very slow and it's extension system stinks.

I doubt they could use Apple's Safari because of Apple's strict proprietary rules.

That leaves Firefox or Opera. I doubt they would use Firefox because there would be an uproar in the open source community.

Opera is the best bet for Facebook. Among other things, Opera has its own social network for its users and an email system. It would be easy for Facebook to fold these services into their current line up of features. Once again, Opera is the best bet.

One thing that Facebook should keep in mind when they create their browser is to make sure they are not too obtrusive. They need to take a look at MSN Explorer and AOL Explorer and then do the opposite. The problem with these browsers is that they force their products on the users. Subtle is better. Less is more.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Monkey See, Monkey Do: A Game of Technological Follow the Leader

Since its founding in 2004, Mozilla released new versions of Firefox infrequently, often waiting until a list of features and UI (user interface) updates were completed. Bug fixes and security updates were released as needed between major updates.

Recently, that all changed. Firefox started to lose market share to Google's Chrome browser. Google has followed a policy of rapid version release to catchup with other browsers. They have done so and in fact many people predict that they will even surpass Microsoft's Internet Explorer very soon.

In an effort to stop their market loss or even to recapture lost ground, Firefox decided that their only option was to adopt the rapid release strategy. Within a year, they went from version 5 to version 12 (which was released today). This is a very stupid move in my opinion.

This is stupid for two major reasons: it hurts developers and destroys the mystery.

When a company released a new version every six weeks or so, it's hard for extension developers to keep up. Because of the rapid release, several of the extensions I use are disabled because they are not compatible with the newest version. Some of the better extensions are written by hobbyists who don't always have the time to write the two or three lines of code need to update the extension. And when they do. The get it updated a new version of Firefox is released. What a pain!

My favorite part about the early versions of Firefox was waiting expectantly to get the new versions to see what the new features were like. Between the first 3 or 4 versions, there were major interface changes. Each version had a different look and feel. Not so with the new versions, there is nothing to really differentiate them for each other.

In the end, there is really nothing that Mozilla can do to stop Chrome from taking their market share. Google has the biggest advertisement system in the world. Eventually they will convert the whole world to Chrome. It is inevitable.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TweetDeck, The Story of a Maligned App

In today's technology and communication heavy world, it is important to have a presence in a wide range of social networks, from Facebook to Twitter to Tumblr to FourSquare and so on. If you want to submit a single message across all of these different networks (or even across multiple accounts on the same network) it is nice to only have to do it once. That is were a social media manager or dashboard can come in handy. There are several applications out there that can do that for you, but I want to talk about one in particular: TweetDeck.

As part of my job I have to manage the company's social network presence. I tried several apps, web-based and Windows-based. I tried HootSuite, Seesmic and others, but my favorite was TweetDeck. To put it simply TweetDeck had everything I wanted. It had among other features:
  • the ability to look at multiple accounts across multiple networks
  • use to shorten links
  • a neat feature called that allowed users to post messages longer than 140 characters to Twitter
TweetDeck had a web version, an Adobe AIR version (which would run on PC, Mac or Linux) and a iOS version. All in all, I was very happy with it.

And then, Twitter bought it...

At first, I had great hopes for the purchase by Twitter. I expected great new feature to be added. I was wrong.

Shortly after purchase, Twitter released a new version of TweetDeck that was no longer written for Adobe AIR, but was now OS specific.(I imagine that this makes it harder to write.) This new version looked much plainer. This new version dropped support for LinkedIn, Google Buzz, Foursquare and MySpace and killed the feature.

I have the uneasy feeling that eventually, TweetDeck is going to be renamed the Twitter Manager (or something else with Twitter in the title). It's already been changed to TweetDeck by Twitter.

Even the logo has been changed to look more like Twitter.
I guess what I'm saying is that I'm very unhappy that Twitter bought a program I like and messed it up. I wished they would have kept the features and improved them. But I get the feeling that Twitter is trying to boost their own product line to the detriment of some customers.

In the end, I still use TweetDeck, albeit, the pre-acquisition Adobe AIR version. The only thing that does not work is, so I'll need to find something else for that.

On another topic (but one very similar), Twitter has recently purchased another product that I use: the blogging platform Posterous. Twitter says they are not going to do anything to Posterous at the moment, but rumors are flying that they just bought Posterous for the talent. Lifehacker even had a article on how to switch your blog from Posterous. We'll see what happens next.