Category Archives: Information

Limetown



LimetownWhile season two of Serial might be getting all the news at the moment, I’ve been enjoying Limetown, a seven part podcast investigating the disappearance of over three hundred men, women and children from a small town in Tennessee over ten years ago. American Public Radio host Lia Haddock asks the question, “What happened to the people of Limetown?” and starts looking for answers.

Lia doesn’t always like what she finds, with intrigue and secrecy at every turn, getting deeper and deeper into the mystery. Episode six came out on Monday…is it the end?

If you enjoyed the X-Files, then you’ll love this. The podcast is available through the Limetown websiteiTunes and RSS feed. I have heard the future.


Papago GoSafe 520 Review



Over the past month I have had a Papago GoSafe 520 in my car recording the driving environment. In that time there where two close calls with cars cutting me off and one driver that had road rage against another driver, recording everything that was happening while I was on the move. The road rage video was turned over to local law enforcement, as it did provide witness to an accident caused by the road rage.

The video below is on the H3 Expressway here in Hawaii Kaneohe bound around 7:30 in the morning today. While the Papago will record just as well at night, I thought I would share some scenic Hawaii.. Priced at $89.00 this HD 2304×1296 Dash Cam – Car Camera Video Recorder with Night Vision, Parking Monitor, G-Sensor & 3″ Screen is worth every penny. It’s small enough that I put it in front of my rear view mirror, and as you can see in the video it simply does a great job.

With all the crazy drivers out there, and also teenage drivers I can post-drive monitor there driving habits. It automatically turns on when you are moving thus I am guaranteed to have their complete drive time stamped.. While I do not make it a habit to check my kids driving habits, it is also a reminder to them that their actions are being recorded and provides protection from an errant driver.

This is the perfect gift of self protection and for nothing else catching cool things you see on the road on Video.


Pantone Color of the Year 2016



Pantone Color 2016Pantone has announced its Color of the Year for 2016 and for the first time ever, the chosen color is a blend of two, Rose Quartz and Serenity. “Why two?” you might reasonably ask….

Pantone says, “As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfil our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

PANTONE-Color-of-the-Year-2016-v5-1080x1920By choosing the combination of girl pink and boy blue, Pantone is making a socio-political statement too.
In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.” 

For the graphic artists and web designers, Rose Quartz is Pantone 13-1520, #F7CAC9, and Serenity is Pantone 15-3919, #92A8D1. The full colour standards are available from Pantone.

For fashion aficionados, Pantone has prepared a series of desktop wallpapers so you can really show off your cool color credentials.

As ever, we can expect to see these Rose Quartz and Serenity incorporated into fashion and design over the coming year, though given the similarity to baby colors, it will be tricky to spot the real trends. Last year’s color, Marsala, is now officially out of favour.


Ancestry.com to shutter Family Tree Maker, alternatives make themselves known



ancestryGenealogy is a popular hobby and these days it’s also big business, as companies such as Ancestry.com have proven. The site also issues the very popular Family Tree Maker software program that many use to track their history.

Unfortunately the company apparently doesn’t see the benefit in continuing to issue and support its program and it will cease selling it on December 31st of this year. However it claims it will continue to support the desktop app through January 1st 2017.

In a statement issued by Ancestry.com the company says “We remain dedicated to helping people gain new levels of understanding about their lives, and who and what led to them, harnessing the information found in family trees, historical records and genetics. As a company, we’re also continually evaluating ways to focus our efforts to provide the most impact and best product experience for our users through our core offerings”.

While this is certainly bad news for the many customers, a lot of competitors are stepping in. One is RootsMagic which issued a statement saying “We understand that change isn’t easy, so we’ve worked hard at putting together some new tools and supports to make the transition to RootsMagic as painless as possible for Family Tree Maker users”.

Numerous others exist, such as Legacy (who is offering a discount and easy switching), Brother’s Keeper and more. You don’t need to rush into the move just yet, so make sure you pick the one that works best for you.


Dropbox is Shutting Down Mailbox and Carousel



Dropbox logoDisappointing news for people who are using Mailbox and/or Carousel. Dropbox has announced that they will be shutting down both products.

Dropbox posted that they acquired Mailbox in 2013 because they believed in the way the product was making mobile email better. Dropbox launched Carousel as a new way to experience and share photos. The overall goal seems to be to extend the simplicity of Dropbox to other parts of user’s lives. It is that focus in simplification that has led to the decision to shut down Mailbox and Carousel.

Mailbox is shutting down

The Mailbox Blog states that when Mailbox joined the Dropbox team, it was intended to be the means to an end to solving the email problem. Dropbox has since realized “there’s only so much an email app can do to fundamentally fix email”. They now believe that the best way to improve people’s productivity is “to streamline the workflows that generate so much email in the first place.” Details about how Dropbox will be winding down Mailbox can be found on a Mailbox FAQ.

Carousel logo

The Carousel blog notes that “over the past year and a half, we’ve learned that the vast majority of our users prefer the convenience and simplicity of interacting with their photos directly inside of Dropbox”. It assures users that all of the photos that they have stored in their Carousel timeline will remain safe in their Dropbox where they always have been. They suggest you visit the Carousel Help Center for instruction about how to save photos you received through shared conversations or shared albums.

Mailbox will be shut down on February 26, 2016. Carousel will be shutdown on March 31, 2016. Dropbox will continue to communicate details directly with users of both apps in the coming days.


Microsoft Office 365 reveals new communication enhancements for business



MicrosoftMicrosoft Office 365 is for home user and businesses. In the former case it’s a good deal providing the software for five computers in the customer’s home for a monthly or annual fee. The deal for business is tiered, depending on size, but that’s Microsoft’s biggest customers and it aims to keep them.

To that end, the company is unveiling new enhancements to communications within Office 365. Vice president of Microsoft Office Kirk Koenigsbauer reveals the news in some detail. Also being annouced are some new security features that Microsoft says will add “significant new security and analytics capabilities aimed at dramatically improving our customers’ ability to protect their organizations and glean insights from data”.

Much of the communications is built on Skype, which Koenigsbauer points out has become a verb in today’s world. That’s true, it joins the realm of things like Xerox, Google and Kleenex.

Added are PSTN conferencing which allows people to dial into a meeting from a handset, Skype Meeting broadcast allowing for up to 10,000 attendees and cloud PBX which hopes to let business drop the traditional systems.

On the security side, there is the new Delve Analytics that claims to provide better management of time and relationships. There’s also Customer Lockbox, which Microsoft says will “Give customers new approval rights, transparency and control over their data in the cloud”. Finally there’s Advanced Threat Protection to try and keep people safe from malware and viruses using behavioral analysis.

That should be enough to keep Microsoft’s biggest customers happy for a little while.


Mailchimp Has Enhanced Automation Tools



Mailchimp logoI haven’t had the need to build many e-mail lists over the years. But on the rare occasion I do, I’ve found Mailchimp to be a good solution. Mailchimp’s template-based e-mail newsletter system makes it easy to compose nice looking messages, and its handy collection of plugins and widgets make it easy to add subscription tools to my WordPress sites. I haven’t delved deeply into all of the features Mailchimp has to offer. But it’s a pretty extensive set and it looks like the company is working to constantly improve them.

Recently, Mailchip announced it would be adding enhanced automation tools to its platform. These tools will allow users to:

  • Introduce new subscribers with an onboarding series
  • Automatically follow up with customers after a purchase
  • Surprise your best customers with a coupon based on purchase activity
  • Create custom workflows based on API calls
  • Connect with shopping cart integrations
  • Set up win-back campaigns using advanced post-send actions, and more

Mailchimp has also updated its interface, making the service’s drag-and-drop system even easier and more efficient to use. And while the tools themselves may seem simple on the outside, they open up a lot of possibilities for complex automated actions, based on how e-mail recipients respond to the messages they’ve received. Many of these features could be beneficial to Mailchimp customers who are running an online business.

To see more about what Mailchimp automation can do, click the link at the top of this post.


STM Cable Wrap Review



stmBeing a travel Ninja I really like to keep my all of the gear I travel with from SD Cards, USB Stick, Cables, Travel Mouse, Cables, chargers etc organized.. Typically I never unpack my travel kit as it saves time when I need to fly on short notice. This way all my cables and accessories I am going to need are with me.

The folks over at STM sent over the STM Cable Wrap for me to review. I have had it a number of weeks, and only today was re-organizing my gear for an upcoming trip. The STM Cable Wrap is a Quad-fold organizer with one zippered pocket, and 9 separate pockets of various sizes to keep things organized.. After the Cable wrap was packed with my kit it folded up nicely and is secured by a nice strap. If you pack neatly you can keep the thickness down and it will go into your back pack or even your carry on nicely. When folded its about 10x6x1 inches. My only wish is that it had a few mor zippered pockets.

In the past I kep all my gear in a single zippered pouch but it always drove me crazy as it ended up being this ball of gear.. The STM Cable Wrap solves that and folds and stores flat. So if you like to keep organized this @ $25.00 you really cannot go wrong.. May make a nice stocking stuffer this coming Christmas.

stm2


Pandora, Deezer and Tidal arrive on Control4



PandoraNPWhole home audio is something that has been gradually growing over a number of years. What used to be a toy for the rich has slowly become accessible to regular users. Thanks to systems like Control4 things are improving all the time.

The device maker is announcing the addition of new music services. Customers can now stream Pandora, Deezer and Tidal throughout the home

This comes with an update to version 2.8 of the operating system. Pandora works in the US, Australia and New Zealand, while Deezer covers more than 180 countries, with Tidal available in 31 nations.

“We are committed to providing the very best entertainment experience for the Smart Home,” says Martin Plaehn, Control4 Chairman and CEO. “Adding these music services as part of the Control4 experience makes it easier for homeowners to access and enjoy the music they love throughout their entire home. By providing these music services natively, our Control4 dealers can deliver an exceptional standard for entertainment to their customers, and can do so more efficiently and cost-effectively”.

Version 2.8 of the OS also brings the ability for customers to stream multiple music channels in different parts of the home, support for Airplay devices and a new look to the interface.

You can check out the products by visiting Control4. There’s a lot more than just audio there.


Device Wars



surface-bookAs technology relentlessly moves forward, functions continually consolidate and devices get smaller as capabilities increase. This march forward has caused form factors to shift. The first desktop computers were relatively large and boxy and certainly not portable. Over time as laptop computers improved, desktop sales began to fall.

Imagine the succession of devices you have gone through over a long period of time. They start out as clunky and single purpose, and over time as the tech improves they get smaller and some of them are simply absorbed such as camcorder and point-and-shoot cameras. Imagine them endlessly changing and continually morphing as your expectations changed over long periods of time. There is an ongoing war not only between devices, their capabilities and their form factors, but there is also a war going on inside of each end user of these devices as to which one is better and performing specific tasks.

The first mobile phones were large and clunky. Mobile phones went through a long progression over time of getting smaller as capability increased and eventually turned into the ubiquitous smartphones we know and love today.
The ongoing warfront is now between smartphones, tablets running apps such as the iPad, and conventional laptop computers. Which one is better at performing what task?

Up until about 2011, I did all of my mobile computing on laptop machines. I got an iPad 2 in 2011. I found the iPad 2 to be a great media consumption device, so between the iPad 2 and my Android phone, I gradually stopped using my laptops for all but real productivity tasks, where the iPad and other tablets really seem to fall flat.

In 2013, I bought an iPad Air. In retrospect, I justified the purchase to myself thinking that the faster processor in the iPad air might enable me to move completely away from laptop computers altogether. Sadly, this was not the case. The iPad remains a great media consumption device, but as a productivity device it is still quite lacking.

My primary use for computers includes writing articles, editing video, editing my websites, and recording and publishing audio podcasts. While it is possible to do all of these tasks on an iPad or an Android tablet, it’s an unnecessarily painful, slow experience necessitating jumping through multiple hoops.

I believe many people did exactly the same thing I did, trying to turn the iPad into a small ultraportable laptop. The iPad makes a lousy laptop. There is no mouse, and though the iOS apps are great for media consumption, the apps make lousy productivity impostors. The iPad makes a poor netbook. I believe that is why Apple forbids the iPad from using a mouse.
The conventional laptop makes an inferior media consumption device.

Beginning in May of 2014, a new entrant entered the ongoing device war. I believe a significant portion of the future of computing resides in the so-called 2 in 1’s. I don’t believe that conventional laptops or tablets running apps will go away, but I believe the 2 in 1’s such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and above will eat into laptop and tablet sales. Apple has yet to enter this 2 in 1 market, despite the recently-announced iPad Pro. The iPad Pro running iOS apps will be a bigger iPad and thus a bigger media consumption device that can’t run genuine productivity software.

I personally see a future for myself with a large screen smartphone, and a 2 in 1 tablet/computer, with some room left over for inexpensive mid-sized tablets that function as media consumption devices and offer mapping and GPS functions. I will allow my conventional desktop and laptop computers, the majority of them now-older out-of-date Macs, die of attrition as they inevitably quit working over time.