Category Archives: Software

Amazon Kindle E-Books

Shortly after getting my HTC Evo phone, one of the initial apps I downloaded from the Android Marketplace was the Amazon Kindle app with the idea I’d probably check it out at some point. Weeks went by, and I pretty much ignored the app.

Yesterday I was talking to a good friend that is in the process of formatting e-books for an author friend of his, including formatting the books in the Kindle format. During the course of our conversation, I mentioned to him once again that I needed check the Android Kindle app out. He pointed out that there were free e-books available in the Kindle format on the Amazon website, including many books from 1922 and before that were now in the public domain, so after I finished his call I went on Amazon.Com with my computer and started digging around in the Kindle Store area of Amazon. Sure enough, there seemed to be plenty of free e-books available, so I started adding them. To get the Kindle app on my phone to synch with my Amazon account couldn’t be easier, I simply entered in my email address and Amazon password into the app. Any books in my Amazon storage area are quickly updated to the app.

Sure, some of the free books weren’t exactly my taste, but I was able to open them on my phone and finally see how well the Kindle app worked. Hummm, not bad – not bad at all. To make a long story short, I ended up finding a current book I really liked and purchased it for $9.99.

What a pleasant surprise I was in for. Reading a Kindle book on my HTC Evo is actually a good experience. The text is quite legible. The surprising part is that twice now I’ve carried the phone with me into restaurants and was able to easily read using the phone while eating. Of course, the HTC Evo has a handy built-in kick stand that allows the phone to sit on its side at an angle. I can eat and then periodically lightly touch the right side of the screen in order to make the Kindle app advance to the next page. The Kindle app even synchs the latest page I’m on back to the server, so if I open the book up again either on my phone or on my laptop, it opens up right at the exact page where I stopped reading.

At this point I have no plans on buying an actual Kindle, however I suspect I will be buying more Kindle e-books in the future. I often carry my phone around with me wherever I go, and because of the way the Kindle app works across all Kindle apps associated with my account, I have instant access to every Kindle e-book in my Amazon account storage area on every associated Kindle installation. There are often times I end up having to cool my heels waiting on something, and it’s incredibly handy to be able to use that otherwise often wasted waiting time reading. Ten minutes here and twenty minutes there really do add up over time.

All of this talk about, “Oh, the iPad has killed the Kindle” is bogus. Amazon has been very smart to put Kindle apps out for as wide a variety of devices as possible. Even if they don’t sell that many Kindle readers, the Kindle format e-book is a huge Amazon win, both for Amazon and for consumers like me.

Ending A Relationship

Our relationship had always been so full of promise and fun. Being gone so much of the time due to my job was certainly a strain. Even so, when I was around, I didn’t make many demands.

Something was coming between us. Lately I’ve been looking elsewhere and slowly began finding satisfaction on the Internet. The thought of divorce has been crossing my mind over the past few months. It was a painful decision, but I knew it had to be made.

Today I decided it was time to sever our ties.

I’ve been a Dish Network customer for about 10 years – until today.

What came between us? I’ve been experimenting with the idea of getting TV content from various sources on the Internet. I’ve tried connecting both Mac with Front Row and Windows Media Center laptops to an LCD HDTV. A full-fledged computer is very flexible in that it can play virtually any file type, but the clunky, complex hands-on Interface is not designed to be operated from an easy chair. I want as much content as possible integrated into one place.

In the meantime I stumbled across some software called Playon TV available at The software comes with a 30 day trial and works with the DLNA and UpNP network device standards. The software sells for $39.95. Playon TV is designed to be installed either on a computer or a home server on the home network. Playon TV enables streaming of Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Videos, Pandora, etc. to a DNLA/UpNP device like the WD TV Live Plus, X-Box 360, etc. There are also plenty of free third-party plugins for Playon TV that add a mind-boggling and growing variety of content to the Playon TV network share. It works well with my hacked Apple TV with XBMC.

Yesterday I visited my local Best Buy store and bought a Western Digital WD TV Live Plus to connect to the small HDTV in my kitchen. The WD TV Live is a very small set-top box that comes with a small remote control that has an Ethernet port in and an HDMI port out. Straight out of the box it does an excellent job of playing Netflix and is capable of playing back 1080P content. Only the Plus version plays Netflix.

The WD TV Live Plus combined with the Playon TV software convinced me it was time for radical measures. This afternoon I cancelled my Dish Network account and will save $97 dollars per month. I also bought a second WD TV Live Plus unit to connect to my main HDTV/surround sound setup.

At $97 dollars per month savings the two WD TV Live Plus units will have paid for themselves within 3 months.

Can I live without access to Dish Network? I think it’s going to be similar to a few years ago when I dropped my wired phone line. There was a bit of an emotional attachment that I had to let go of, but once I cut the cord it was no big deal.

Checking Your Website with Browsershots

I always forget about this website.  When I finally go there to check my site amongst OS browsers, I always find one small problem. Quick change in the CSS and everything is all better.

I am talking about Broswershots. They simply take my site and call it up using different browsers on all Operating Systems. Linux, PC, Mac and BSD checking the following browsers:

  • Avant
  • Chrome
  • Dillo
  • Epiphany
  • Firefox
  • Flock
  • K-Meleon
  • Galeon
  • Iceape
  • Iceweasel
  • Internet Explorer
  • Kazehakase
  • Konqueror
  • Minefield
  • Navigator
  • Opera
  • Safari
  • SeaMonkey
  • Shiretoko

I can also view the many versions of the browsers. Let’s say I am optimizing for Internet Explorer. I can check IE 4.0, 5.0, 7.0 or 8.0 on a Windows format. Check the boxes, enter the URL and away we go.

What Dillo sees of my websites from Browsershots

The process is not instantaneous. The service will set a 30 minute time limit which you can extent, but you have to physically be there to do so. If you checked all boxes, then you will definitely need to extend the process a couple times. It can also really show you how slow your website might load if you have an influx of users. One website I checked came up with all versions in about 10 minutes, yet another website (a little more PHP process driven) took a little more time.

Once your screenshots appear, you can view and download. Of course, this is dependent on the Internet connection at both sides, so you may have to request a new screenshot if you don’t see the proper results. For instance, IE 8.0 came back with a blank screen. I then told Broswershots to retry and the end result was perfect.

This website is pretty useful in detecting problems. Although I do have a PC, Mac and Ubuntu machine, I am really happy I don’t have to load up every browser on those machines. It’s about 80 different browsers and their versions to choose from. I am hoping soon they will also check across phone browsers. That will be a perfect addition to Browsershots.

Saved by GotoMyPC!

gotomypc-2009In the past month I have been getting out of my office and working remotely. Being I live in Hawaii sometimes working remote means working at the beach. Seriously I have needed to get out an among people a bit more,  having the chance to get out of the office has been great.

For several years now I have been diligent in putting documents on our Jungledisk S3 storage account so regardless of whichcomputer I have with me I have access to all of our documents traveling the way I do it is critical as I never know which computer I am going to be using..

Last week I had a large number of media buyer meetings, some of which I was finishing up Request for Proposals along with a variety of other paperwork. On Friday I was scheduled for a pretty important meeting.  This is where I was saved by GotoMyPC. I was in my CX9 which has awesome wireless for my hands free, and I am parked in a starbucks parking lot with my laptop out and connected to the net via sprint. I am scheduled to have a GotoMeeting session with a client in less than 5 minutes, and I cannot find the document I need on my computer or in the Jungledisk S3 storage network..

In a panic now because im on a tight timeline. I fire up GotoMyPC, login to my home machine that is 23 miles away, find the file on my desktop, download the file to my local machine, close the GotoMyPC session, then load Gotomeeting just in time for the appointment. Not missing a beat I complete the meeting and thank my lucky stars that I could access my machine at home at a moments notice, and not come off as an idiot with the client.  Between GotoMeeting and GotoMyPC these are two tools in my business and personal arsenal that I could not live without.

Note: GotoMeeting is a sponsor of this site and my podcast, I manage other podcasters on GotoMyPC and GotoAssist ad buys, but this is the first time that I have talked about my personal utilization of the GotoMyPC product in a blog post.

Here is the point I want to make Citrix makes a fine line of products and the $19.95 I spend each month on GotoMyPC is worth every penny. I would not give it up for nothing and it is one of several tools I use that allow me to travel the amount that I d,o and still run a very successful company in the new media space. Get a free trial of the product on me. Windows 7 Must Have!

connectifyOn Saturday I was part of our monthly Tech Podcast Network Round Table and we had the CEO of Connectify in to do a demo of

Connectify is pretty amazing, it allows a Windows 7 machine to become a Wifi Hotspot in about 60 seconds. In fact one of our round table participants set it up while the presentation was underway and was pretty blown away.

You have to watch the demo. I am linking you to a Flash Video of the event the demo starts about 5 minutes into the Video it is worth the time to watch this. As Andy McCaskey says, what has brought to the table is going to sell a lot of copies of Windows 7 and when you see it your going to want to upgrade you computers.

Yes as the image portrays it truly is that simple!

Customer Service – You’re Doing it Right!

thumbs upAs a followup to my post from yesterday, I wanted to talk about customer service being done the right way. As tech-geeks who work directly with users, doing customer service the right way is something we should strive for.

Along with my trouble yesterday over and old purchase order, I had another one to follow up on. This one was for a software upgrade to an existing piece of software our audio/video engineer uses. His job is to take mountains of videotaped events and turn them into usable bits of digital uploads. One piece of software he uses is called Trapcode, from the folks over at Red Giant Software. The engineer needed to upgrade the product we already owned, and I put in the purchase order to do so. Turns out, the company only takes purchase orders for anything over $1000, anything less than that, and you need to use a credit card. Our purchase was going to be under $100. Well, this is a giant bureaucracy here, and we don’t have credit cards, or access to credit cards, so we were stuck. I explained the situation to the customer service representative I was talking to, and quickly received an email resolving the issue. They were offering us a complimentary upgrade to our existing product, since we weren’t able to purchase with a credit card. Of course, the email came with a little sales pitch at the end about how we could use the software in an academic environment, but I can’t complain about that.

The fact is, my problem was resolved, within minutes, without excuses, and with a resolution better than I could have ever hoped for. Resolving issues quickly, and satisfactorily, should be the goal of anyone serving an end user of any type. I now can go about my day worrying about other things, than waiting for an email or a phone call to resolve an issue. As of this moment, my request to the vendor from yesterday has not been answered. Guess which company I’m apt to be spending more money with in the future?

Customer Service – You’re Doing it Wrong

"no" imageI spend a lot of time at my daily J.O.B. following up on orders with software/hardware companies. Most of the time, my experiences are good enough, even pleasurable, although I’m not really big on having to make phone calls in the first place. But today when following up on an order, I ran across something I thought was a bit unusual.

Two months ago I placed an order for a piece of software. It was relatively inexpensive, but highly recommended to me by some colleagues in my industry. I decided to give it a try, and sent off the purchase order per their website instructions. Two months later, I still don’t have the software, or anything from them saying that there is a delay or any other issue. So I trot off to their website and look for a customer service number I can call. To my surprise, there wasn’t one. Instead, on the page with their mailing address, was a clickable statement, “Why our phone number is not listed here.” Of course I clicked it, to be taken to a page that, in five paragraphs or so, said to this effect: We would love to talk to you but we are too busy and it costs to much to talk to people on the phone. So, email us, and we’ll get right back to you. And this quote pretty much sums it all up for me: “We think you’ll agree once you’ve tried us, we’ve decided to offer the best email support on the planet. Every email is answered within 24 hours.”

This does not bode well for me trying to figure out where our order is. It also does not bode well for me recommending this company, or their software, to others. Ironically, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews for the product, a text-to-speech software that can be used by disabled (or non-disabled) people to read email, web pages, text files, etc. I can give it no such reviews, as I’ve not yet been able to try the product, and don’t know when I will be able to. I don’t care how small you are, if you are offering something for sale, then you’d better be able to back it up with at least minimal customer support, and not some long, drawn-out excuse for why you won’t provide that service. As a busy tech-geek, I don’t have time for excuses when I’m trying to get the job done. It’s unfortunate that this company can’t see that their behavior now can hinder their future success. They’ve already lost me as a future customer, and I won’t be able to say anything good about them to anyone who asks, either.

It isn’t always about the product; sometimes it’s about how we get the interaction we need as we’re going along.

Software Bundles Prove Golden

So here I am working on a side web design job.  As I look at the programs I am using to get it all done I realized they were, for the most part, all from software bundle purchases.  If my memory serves me correct I have taken part in 3 different purchases from MacUpdate and Macheist.  The price was never above $59 and I usually received 8-12 different titles.

Big discounts and great deals on Mac software every day - MacUpdate Promo

“What is so golden as you certainly cannot have found all 30 programs as useful?”  I can read your mind and you are correct.  I am probably only using six or seven of them on a regular to daily basis and another ten of them occasionally.  Six of them I use all the time.

  1. MacHeist » Welcome1Password (Retail $40)
  2. Vector Designer (Retail $70)
  3. Pixelmator (Retail $60)
  4. CSS Edit and Espresso (Retail Package $80)
  5. Task Paper (Retail $30)

The total retail cost of those alone would be $280.  By my calculations that would mean by participating in the promotion I saved about $130 off retail of just these six programs. That does not include the programs I use occasionally such as AppZapper ($13), Snapz Pro X ($69), and a bunch of others.  Golden, I tell you golden.

All of the promotions send a substantial portion of the income to charities.  I am not trying to avoid paying for great software.  The developers chose to participate either to help the charity or to get the word out about their products.  So why not take a shot and try one out?

Please know that I do not participate in every promotion.  I look closely at the titles being offered to see what I have need of.  If the cost benefit is not at least the equivalent of 2 for 1 I don’t buy.  Chances are I can get along without it for a while.  But I must admit it is hard to resist such a golden deal!

ATT Passes on Free Commercial and Goodwill

ATT and Apple must be in a mini public war over the future of the iPhone.  At least I hope that is the case. Why else would AT&T have so botched their free PR opportunity at Apple’s recent unveiling of the iPhone 3G S? Let me set the stage of what I saw and heard. While watching the Apple Keynote address Scott Forstall was speaking about the new iPhone 3.0 software. He made the grand announcement that the iPhone will finally (emphasis added) have MMS. iphone3gsThen he added the caveat of “subject to the carrier support”. The next slide showed all the carriers ready to roll out the iPhone MMS service. As he transitioned he stated with a straight face (barely) “AT&T will be ready to support MMS later this summer. Next…” The audience booed.  AT&T has MMS on every other phone! Surely the iPhone implementation is close to the standards. Or is it as the recent Mac Roundtable podcast suggested, that the at&t system is so maxed out already that this new traffic would take it to the ground?

The second noted surprise came when Apple announced that iPhone 3.0 would make tethering possible. Once again the caveat was given about provider support.wireless-dsl-internet-digital-tv-services-and-phone-att Once again AT&Twas not on the list. This time Scott did not even mention AT&T . He simple started to transition to a new topic. The audience quickly noticed AT&T ‘s absence on the slide and from the speech. This time they laughed.

Even if AT&T will not be able to retain exclusivity on the iPhone, this was certainly a key event to be roll out ready for.  After all, no competitors are in the near future for the phone. Or is that exactly what AT&T is thinking? “We have no competitors so we will do no more than we need to.”

Another option is that this is a passive aggressive jab from Apple.  Pushing/bullying AT&T into compliance with their wishes certainly would be Apple’s style. Or perhaps Apple is simply paving the way to release the phone on other carriers while slowly working the AT&T partnership into publicity oblivian.   Seems wrong in that AT&T is still the only sanctioned US carrier.  And yet next time they may not even mention the first US iPhone company. Who did carry it first? Verizon? It’s such a distant memory.

Major PowerPress Podcast Plugin Update!

We punched out the PowerPress update this evening, and as I promised last night I told you we would have some video for you to watch. I am going to send you over to a page that has two videos linked that will get you up to speed with what we released.

Before I send you over there let me run you through the update.

  1. We added a podcast statistics summary to the WordPress dashboard.
  2. Blubrry Podcast hosting customers can have their ID3 Tags written automatically.
  3. We added Category Cast, podcasters can now setup categories as independent podcast feeds.
  4. The final update which is the most important is our new 3 Step Podcast Publishing Process

Check out the New Feature in Action and watch the Video as a picture is worth a 1000 words!

Come back after the jump and let me know what you think!

The PowerPress Podcast Plugin is free and available at