Thursday, August 28, 2008

Social Networking

I'm still playing with Social Networking, both on my iTouch/iPhone and on my computer with tools such as blogger, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace etc... One of the tools I've mentioned before is Twinkle, Twinkle is a chat room for lack of better world, I'm sure they'll come up with a glorious title saying it's a Web 2.0 empowered application using the 3G iPhone network, but in reality it's less functional than what I was using with CompuServe and Delphi back in the early 1990's (I'm getting old, but I'm also getting wiser ;)).

One of the interesting features with the iPhone is that it has a very nice camera, it also is GPS enabled, this allows a person to send a picture of what's going on near them, and for you to see about where they are at. The other day I started seeing pictures of a tornado running through Parker Colorado, about an hour after that I saw similar pictures on CNN. Think about it, these people scooped CNN on a news story, pretty impressive if you ask me. I've seen similar issues, I've seen reports of a heavy storm coming through the area, and people talking about damage, I've seen people around the country talk at the same time about how a movie (the same movie) stopped just before the end (of course this is because the theater is receiving a stream of the movie via satellite or web and the stream died). If I had the resources I'd write a program to sit and sniff twitter traffic to see what's going on in the world.

There are sad portions on this also, I've run into a number of people with relationship issues that are either having bad problems or just need to be cheered up. I'm always trying to be helpful, but not everyone wants help, and I've made it clear that anyone can come to me for assistance. I've also seen several bullies online, some have tried to pick fights with me, but I'm old enough where I don't blow up like they want me to (this of course drives them nuts, they want reaction, I don't think most people realize the best way to beat a bully is to ignore them).

I've also heard a bunch of issues with stalking going on, I've gotten a few requests for information that I ignore, it's mostly the women who are getting stalked and asking for things that they shouldn't be asked for (am I the last Gentleman online?). I do follow a couple of kids from time to time, because they seem so young and I feel they need adult supervision, I'm very happy to see that they are keeping their public noses clean (hopefully nothing is going on in the private area). Many of these kids need something other to do then being handed an iPhone and told to go keep busy.

I've been able to discuss politics with different people from around the world, see how people outside the US see the US (it isn't great right now). This morning I got on and one of my "friends", he lives in Florida, was getting torn apart by someone else. Despite I don't agree with my "friend's" politics, I didn't take kindly to anyone attacking him, so I stepped in and mentioned that he was a good guy and should be treated that way. Also this morning another one of my "friends" got laid off, she's in London, it seems that there are a lot of layoffs going on in that area now, the financial issues of the US are catching up to them. I've been able to make friends with people, old and young, who I might possibly have made friends with before (anyone who knows me will tell you that I absolutely love everyone). As I'm writing this I just learned that another "friend" in Georgia has just quit a job, she's going to bury her pain in donuts this morning.

The great parts about this? I was mentioning to someone in the public area how my mother had passed away in December of 2003, almost instantly I had several people expressing their condolences, I was touched to see so many people in the world care. I think a couple of us started crying as we discussed our parents (OK I cried, but that's what I do, it was a very manly cry though ;)).

I have been able to listen into people and get some great ideas from them (I wish I had a lot of research and development money right now, I'm sure I could make it a lot more with a few of the ideas I currently have). I'm also surprised about how many people don't know what Web 2.0 is or Social Networking, they have this idea that Twinkle, Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc... are all the same thing, but they aren't, they are all different and all have their own niche. Maybe I should write a book about all this?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Phone Technology

I'm not sure if I've impressed myself or become some behind in technology that I don't realized I've been passed up. I have had the same cell phone for over 2 years now, I can't believe this, I can even get $100 off a new phone from my service provider if I upgrade now, but I'm not doing it, well at least not yet.

I am currently using a Motorola Q, this is a good phone for receiving email, but horrible for using the web or viewing attachments (my iTouch does attachments much cleaner than the Q). What am I waiting for? A real phone on my network, the iPhone would do the trick, except it's using the AT&T network, AT&T is horrible in my neighborhood and my current provider, Verizon, has a great network, but sub-standard phones. What am I looking at in a phone, well it's simple:
  1. Great Network - Reliable and fast
  2. Email - Needs to support multiple IMAP accounts and the phone needs to talk directly to my email servers and not use something like Apple's Me network (I don't like the idea of one group gathering all my email, it's kind of creepy if you ask me).
  3. Sync with Outlook, this should be a no brainer for ANYONE creating a phone, most people use Outlook.
  4. Internet Access
  5. Decent and configurable profiles, so I can quickly switch to silent mode, and it should automatically switch to headset mode. It would also be nice to have the phone have a separate profile for when it was charging or attached to your computer.
  6. Bluetooth, people shouldn't be building phones without bluetooth.
  7. MP3, this is a must for any decent phone lately, it's good to have so you don't have to carry multiple devices.
  8. Expansion Card.
  9. Fantastic Battery Life (I have great battery life on my Q, but I've purchased a huge battery for it, on trips I also carry two other batteries, just in case).
  10. Nice screen, my iTouch has a fantastic screen, still small, but usable.
  11. Finally the ability to tether the phone to a laptop.

What I'm finding is 3 types of phones, your standard cell phone, a "feature" phone and a smart phone. I understand the standard cell phone, many people just want a phone, they don't need bells and whistles. I understand the "smart" phone, which is what I have above, but I don't understand the "feature" phone, which shoves features into the phone, but leaves out the functionality.

Possible Phones:

I want a full screen phone, like the iPhone, what I currently have the option for is a LG Dare, which looks like a fantastic phone, but it doesn't pass the email test, you need to log into a service to view your email, this is a security issue and inconvenient if you want to go through your email while you don't have service, email should be downloaded to the phone. My next possible phone is the Blackberry Thunder, but I have been reading very poor reviews of it (Verizon really shot themselves when they didn't deal with Apple). Until I can find a phone that is worth a new 2-year contract I'll be sticking with my good old reliable Motorola Q (now watch it die on me ;)).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I've been off traveling for the past two weeks, viewing the country by road, if you want more details go visit my other blog. While driving (and I spent many hours driving), I started to think of better ways to design my navigation screen on the computer.

Right now I can tell it that I want to go from Point-A to Point-B, but what would be great is to have the car suggest towns where they have fuel and hotels where I need them (or let me set a range of something like every 300 miles for fuel and a hotel by 6pm local time). The car also kept routing me towards Chicago, it would be nice to also tell the computer to avoid major cities or let you easily pick an alternate route by dragging the route marker, like Google does, but better (80 miles outside of Chicago was congested, my own re-routing of me around Chicago and through Indianapolis saved me at least an hour, even though I drove 50 miles out of my way).

I would also like to have the car show me the time/distance to my next way-point as well as to my destination (actually three way-points would be best, so I could have my re-fueling point, my destination for the day and my final destination, I'm a numbers geek).

Finally it would be great to have all this tied into the internet via my cell phone or some other method. What I could do then is to tell the car to book a room for me via the internet, I found that it's sometimes difficult to get a room when you just show up, but if I could book it online that would be great, allow me to select from brands, let's say I liked Comfort Inns, but not Days Inns or I wanted Best Western or Marriott (Marriott's kind of expensive for cross country traveling, plus they don't offer free wi-fi, I'm going to be holding a grudge on that for a while).

For my 2004 Acura TL I would give the navagation a C+, I'm not sure if there's anything that would get an A or even a B from me. For those it would need to have the options mentioned above, plus real-time traffic and weather. My suggestion to those building these devices is that they require their designers take a 2-week road trip and test the system out (or just hire me to do it ;)).

Overall it was fantastic to be on the open road, and I'll have memories that will last me a life-time (which seems to be getting shorter every day). If you can take the time, I'd definitely suggest you get on the open road.