Category: Geek Alert!

26
Oct
2005
17:22

And I thought I was just kidding!

As I’ve made several posts lately expressing my joy for all things Google, I’ve made passing and joking comments about the “Cult of Google” and Google taking over the world and such.
Per haps I was closer to the truth than I knew!
How did I find this article? Through the news links on my Google home page.

17
Oct
2005
10:24

Google overload!

I quit using the Google Toolbar when I switched to Firefox since it had a little search box in the browser. After checking out the most recent version, which is now compatible with the Firefox 1.5 Beta that I’m running, I once again have added the Google Toolbar to my browser. In addition to being able to do any kind of Google search (web page, images, etc.) it has built in spell checking for any web forms such as posting a message or creating a blog entry, it has an auto-fill function which can automatically fill in personal info for you so you don’t have to type your name and address every time, and some other pretty nifty features. Head over to the link above and check it out for yourself!

07
Oct
2005
17:08

More fun with Google!

As I’m sure you all know by now, when I find some cool thing I feel the need to share it. I already knew about Google news and how you could totally customize it to show what you wanted, but today I found the customized Google home page. Just go to Google and click on “personalize this page” then go to town. It’s now my home page and every new tab I open loads it up showing me the news of my choice, miscellaneous daily tidbits, movie times, weather, my Gmail inbox and more. Geeky joy!

07
Oct
2005
10:55

Pandora.com

Music lovers check out www.pandora.com. Very cool. You can make your own music station by putting in an artist or song and pandora then uses the Music Genome Project to “program” the station with stuff you might like. You can give songs a thumbs up or thimbs down to help train it. You can try it for free for 10 hours, and if you decide you dig it, it’s only $36 a year!
It’s quite in depth in it’s methodology. Let’s take a call from a listener! Hello, you’re on the air!

Continue reading…

06
Oct
2005
16:53

Gmail is my master now

While I still heartily recommend Mozilla Thunderbird for anyone who feels the need to have a mail client on their computer, or for those security freaks who think Google has some evil secret conspiracy going, I myself have become a full Gmail convert. I tried this once before but one thing sent me back to Thunderbird, and that was the fact that any mail I sent would show up as coming from my Gmail address instead of my heathallyn.com address. This has now been remedied. You can now set your address to show as coming from any address you actually own. There is a verification process involved so that not just anyone can enter you email as the “from” address, and now any mail I sen via Gmail shows up as coming from my heathallyn.com address, and all replies are sent to my heathallyn.com address (which in actuality just forwards to my Gmail address anyway. Basically this allows you to use Gmail as an email client for you current address, just as you would Thunderbird, Outlook or any other client.
I totally dig Gmail’s interface and their completely different philosophy on mail handling (using “Labels” instead of “Folders”, and much more). This way, I don’t have to worry about whether or not a certain email I’m looking for is on my home or work computer, as it’s all in my online Gmail account. I can easily use the search function to find any mail I’m looking for or sort by labels. I can set up filters to automatically apply labels to incoming mail.
As I’ve watched Gmail it has just kept getting better. One of the few downsides to be aware of is that there is no official way to set up an email distribution list in Gmail (as in you type in one name, and it sends to multiple people), but there is an unofficial work around to do so and they very well may add this in the future. You can also download Gmail Notifier to check every 2 minutes and notify you of new mail.
There are a ton of other features which I find innovative and generally cool, but if you think you might be interested the best place to get all the info is from the source.
There is also an excellent site full of Gmail tips. Join us in the Gmail cult! I have a ton of invites if anyone needs one.
One of us!

10
Sep
2005
10:08

Bloglines are clogged!

*edit*
Things seem to be coming through now so maybe it ahd to do with the maintenance they were doing yesterday. I am now once again endorsing bloglines with a watchful eye…

So I’m going to have to hold my full recommendation Bloglines for the moment. It seems totally awesome if I can get it to work right. At the moment very few of the blogs are showing any new entries since I added them to Bloglines. If I get it sorted out I’ll let you know…

08
Sep
2005
12:59

Syndication!

I’ve been meaning to learn more about all this “syndication”, “feed” and “RSS” stuff for a while now and I think I’ve finally got a start. I also think I’m digging it. Many sites produce a “feed” or a summary of your web content in a generic form that can be read by feed readers. Movable Type, Word Press, Blurty, and Live Journal seem to be doing this automatically, since I had no problem adding feeds from any of my friends on those services even though I’m pretty sure many of them have no idea what a feed is. Blogger and Blogspot can produce feeds but only if you turn them on and set them up in the settings>Site Feed section. By default they’re turned off. You can choose RSS or Atom ( the two major formats).
I discovered all this after trying Bloglines. It’s a web based feed reader. I just typed in the URLs of the blogs I read and if there was a feed (or several formats of feed) to be found Bloglines found them and let me subscribe. The immediate appeal of this is being able to go to one web page and see all the blogs I read, much like a “friends” page on LJ or Blurty. At first I thought I wasn’t really going to like Bloglines for several reasons. First, I like to see people’s individual styles and personalities on their websites, and second, unless you know what you’re doing and customize your own feed, comments are usually not included. Then I realized that Bloglines was still an awesome tool.
Normally I open all the blogs I read (using Firefox I right click my blogs folder and choose “open in tabs” which opens every blog in the folder in its own tab). I then have to look at each one and see if there are any new entries to be read. Now with bloglines, I just go to that one page and if anyone has updated since the last time I looked, the entry will appear on my list (as well as the number of new entries appearing in parentheses next to the feed name on the left). Any entries I’ve already seen will not. I can, if I choose however, view all content from the last hour, day, week, etc. I basically use it as a notification tool. If there are any new entries I will click the link and go to that person’s blog to be greeted by their personal style and see all the comments on the entry. I think syndication is probably going to become more and more popular and widespread.
For my site, MT produces three different formats of feed by default. I go a step further and use Feedburner for my feed. This is a website which allows you to put in the URL of your feed (any of the formats) and it provides you one link to put on your page so that no matter what format people want, they can all use that same single URL and feedburner will provide whatever format they need.
I’m still very new to this myself so I can’t really say if Feedburner always works, and I’m really just beginning to comprehend all of this, but I would highly encourage any bloggers to try and learn more about it. If nothing else, try to provide a feed of your blog for those who do prefer to use feed readers to keep track of their content. It seems most blogs are pretty much providing some feed capabilities without any user knowledge being needed, but as previously mentioned, in the case of Blogger or Blogspot you will have to do st least some minimal setup. I know you’ll need to turn feeds on, but I’m not sure what you would put in the required fields. I’d be happy to help any of you who want to try and enable it but don’t know what to do.

26
Jun
2005
22:21

The Cult of Prius

Anyone who spends $30,000 on a car which is not a Toyota Prius is a making a huge mistake. This car is the coolest thing I have ever owned. More importantly, the “bang for the buck” on this car is off the scale in my opinion. If I just had to guess the price based on seeing and driving it, I would put it much higher.

Continue reading…

15
Dec
2004
7:34

I think I’m a Winamp convert

I use to be a die hard Musicmatch Pro (yes I actually paid for it) fan. It had the best features, media library, and user customization that I had found. I think it has been dethroned.
Since Jess has an iPod and I will very soon have an iPod (yay X-mas!), that got me thinking. To sync with your iPod you usually have to use iTunes which comes with it. All in all, iTunes is ok and has some cool features, but there was more about it that I didn’t like than what I did. I found myself still using Musicmatch to rip, and alternating between MM and iTunes for playing and messing about. The problem with this setup is that when you rip a new CD you have to update both MM and iTunes if you want to keep your libraries up to date. MM used to have an iPod plugin, but due to some dispute with Apple, MM support told me it was no longer available.
Enter Winamp. I went researching the web to see if I could find a single solution. I used to use Winamp long ago when it was about the only mp3 player around. It’s come a long way. I found that it had almost all the features I liked about each of the other programs, and was highly customizable to your own likings. Most importantly, it has a plugin for the iPod.
One of my biggest concerns in a player is flexibility with how I rip my CDs. This is where iTunes failed horribly. When it rips, it creates an artist folder under which it puts an album folder under which it puts the tracks. If you don’t like that system, then too damn bad. iTunes has spoken and you will live with it peon! MM was much more flexible, though I still had to do a little folder editing in the end. Winamp seems completely customizable to allow you to name your directories/tracks in whatever fashion you choose.
My one bitch is that you really need to purchase the Pro version for $14.95 to unlock what I consider necessary features (such as being able to rip to mp3 at all as opposed to AAC), while with MM, the pro version just adds some nice perks (like ripping faster) but isn’t quite so restrictive in it’s free incarnation. I do think Winamp is worth the purchase. Of course some people are known to get the “pro” version without paying for it, though I would not condone this behavior, of course.[/disclaimer]
I’m still in the initial discovery stage with Winamp, but I think I’ve just found my one media player to rule them all. There are tons of other players out there, but these two are pretty much the kings of the hill, I think, and the only ones which I really have experience with. We’ll see if Winamp holds my attention as I use it from now on.