Saturday, October 28, 2006

Really liking Windows Vista, but...

Gadgets. I think we need a better selection. Yea, they have the clocks and the calendars and the calculators and the CPU meters. I'm realizing that at the end of the day, the gadget sidebar is long and mostly empty when you are done filling it with what you actually want.

Mine has the clock, calendar, weather, and CPU items, shown below.  To fill in the void at the bottom I threw in a basic RSS feed.

What is a gadget's task? It should be simple, with no interaction required. Most of what the gadget does should simply be to passively convey information (such as a clock) or provide access (such as an RSS feed list).

Here is my initial thoughts on what I would want:

1) A Favorites list so I can quickly open a web page or hard drive location of interest. This may be my first gadget attempt.

2) Yahoo email integration. Hey, we have a Google gadget. Lets get yahoo in there. Show list of unread mail.

3) TIVO, baby. Get a Tivo gadget to show your box's to do list.

Mike Cane talks electronic ink based Sony Reader

A few months back I posted about the Sony Reader, a portable ebook device not based on an LCD display, but using eInk's revolutionary electronic ink displays that appear much like the surface of a book.


There are two advantages to the eInk displays:

1) They look like paper.  The contrast is not as white as paper.. think of the background as a bright gray.  The display is based on balls/spheres containing both white and black ink.  A charge is applied causing the black pigment chips within a sphere to push towards the user (and appear as a "pixel") or away (resulting in the white pigment chips being visible and "hiding" the pixel as the paper color). Hence eInk displays are actually opaque and ink-based just as paper.

Both paper books and eInk displays are of course easy to read and have little eye strain, unlike LCD products with active lighting behind them.  paper also offers bright contrast and readability in direct sunlight as well as by very little indirect lighting such as on a plane.


2) These displays do not require power once they are changed.  In other words, if you "turn the page" on your Sony Reader and then power it off, the display still has the text in full view.  Battery life is incredible, then, as no juice is needed to constantly refresh an active display such as those found on PDAs.


Well, with that being said,  Mike Cane is an avid reader and blogger and has some nice things to say about his experiences with the reader:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Windows Live Writer blog authoring tool

I'm trying out Microsoft's free blog authoring tool, currently in beta form.  It seems to work with blogger and live spaces just fine, and is infinitely easier to do data entry, which is why I post so little.  It has very nice preview, normal, and layout modes along with picture manipulation and spell checking.  All the while it shelters you from goofy HTML constructs.

Below is a screen shot of the tool in action


Unfortunately at this point Blogger (blogspot) will not allow you to upload posts with pictures.  You can download and edit existing posts that contain pictures, but the automatic publishing to blogger will fail if you have added pictures (pre-existing ones are fine).  You will still need to use the blogspot picture uploader web page to get this content onto your posts.

However, if you were to be able to control pictures on your blog through this tool you have a lot of photo effects you can apply directly within the application, however this part of the beta is delicate.  On vista it tends to crash.

It is very hard not to like this tool.  It saves draft posts, allows me to compose thoughts offline on a nice desktop application (as opposed to the small little URL data entry boxes on the blog sites) and publish at any time.  Actually, you don't even need to visit your blog much anymore as all of your blog posts are accessible right through the tool.  You can view, edit, and delete any posts from any of your blogs you configure with live writer.

So just how easy is it to configure a blog with live writer?  Well for starters, you don't have do do anything with your actual blog site.  You simply add a blog to the live writer using an add account wizard.  It wants the URL of the site, and your account and password.  That's it.

Here is the official blog site for the tool.  Download it and try it out.  I think you will like it.

Live Writer blog site



Saturday, October 21, 2006

"Thats spicy water!"

Another funny kid quote. This one from a friend of my oldest son when she accidentally tasted sprite thinking it was water (and had never had it before).


Saturday, October 14, 2006

New religious channel's kids logo: Super Fn Guy

You can't make this stuff up!

The FN (Family Network) channel has a new hero in its children's programming. Super FN Guy. At first I thought my tivo had snagged something off of adult swim. Then I realized it was serious. Are they that pure and untainted at the FN channel to not know what abbreviation is suggested? I just had to snag and preserve the logo for what has got to be a short-lived marketing blunder.

If you want more information on this fn guy, go here: