Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Google Notebook

I just started messing around with Google Notebook and I'm is like an easy to use app that you can save bookmarks or easily make notes. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Open Source Alternatives to Windows Apps

Linux App Finder is a great site that has a growing list of open source apps that can perform the same functions as more known windows apps.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Futurama is Back: Bender's Big Score

Tomorrow the legacy continues for Futurama. For all of those who love Futurama, this is a must see.

To Buy it:

To rent it:

Read about it:

Bender's Big ScoreTrailer:

OLPC christmas gift

OLPC(One Laptop Per Child), is currently running a give a laptop get a laptop deal. Seeing that christmas is around the corner, this is a perfect gift for the child in your life. The laptop is user friendly and can perform all of the basic computing needed including email, web browsing, document creation, and even chat. The laptop is durable and includes one year of wireless for T-Mobile hotspots. Check it out.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Holiday Recap

Thanksgiving vacation started Tuesday night for me when my wife's family came in to town. Here is a breakdown of the vacation by days:

Wednesday: This was the first official day of vacation and we drove around SD checking out the sites and having a good time. Towards the end of the day we went to my favorite Mexican restaurant Fred's. After that we went to a blues bar in the gas lamp called Patrick's II. My wife's cousin came into town too and joined the fun.

Thursday(Thanksgiving): This was the first thanksgiving that I have hosted and I have to say it turned out pretty good. We had: Turkey, Cranberries, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, a relish tray with olives, carrots, and celery, rolls, stuffing, gravy, green beans, apple pie, pumkin pie, and about 3-4 bottles of White Zin. It was awesome!! After dinner we hung out.

Friday: We went to ocean beach and watched my wife's cousin surf a bit and then went up to La Jolla and checked out seal beach. We ate at my favorite bar Little Italy Urban bar and then came back to my place and watched Scene It.

Saturday: We went to Coronado and hung out there a majority of the day...we also recovered pam's cousin's cell phone that he lost from the night before. The best thing is that, and this is the guy who found it said, the Cell phone was found by some crack heads and then traded to him for a "little something something"...the guy was really impressed that the cell phone was nice and if he shut it off "it would just recharge, right?" This was a good day. My wife's cousin and brother had to leave to go home.

Sunday: We hung out a bit and then decided that we wanted to go to we hopped on the trolley. After about 6 stops we noticed that the clientelle on the trolley were getting suspicious
. My wife's mom was getting a little nervous and so we decided to get off and go grab a FlexCar. We went down to the border and was going to cross but saw that the line to get back into the US was about 8-10 blocks we decided to look at TJ and hang our in San Ysidro. It was a lot of fun.

Video that sums up this weekend:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Same Money on Cable and avoid Tivo

Recently I've been looking at getting a solution like TiVo but am put off by it a little by the recurring fee for the service, especially since the service really doesn't get you anymore than a configured computer. The cost of a TiVo box is $99 plus $129/year for the service...this is for the minimum system. For $500 you can get a dynamic system based off of either Myth software or even using Media Center for windows(I'm partial to Linux though which Myth is).

Windows Vista includes media center functionality but because the OS is bloated and will over utilize the RAM and Processing power, you'll have poorer performance on the media center functions.

I haven't put my money where my mouth is yet by purchasing a mob to put mythtv on as I haven't had time. DVR's(Digital Video Recorders) are really cool and will change the way you watch tv. Also with MythTV you'll be able to backup your recordings to watch on different mediums like Ipods and Laptops.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Music of the Week

Well big surprise I have another song stuck in my head. This song is brought to you by Apple with their new Ipod Touch commercial:

What's been going on with me?

Well I've been posting a lot about technology and videos but I haven't put a lot about me up...and you can't' really Live Vicariously through me just with posts about technology so here we go:

All the in laws are coming out tomorrow for is going to be awesome. Only my brother in law has been out to SD so this will be cool to show them around and have them check out my pad.

This is the first Thanksgiving that I am cooking for. I'm excited...I did the best I could to actually get a turkey etc...but it may turn into a charlie brown thanksgiving:

It should be a good time though and before you know it Christmas is going to be here. I'm going back to MN to hang out with the fam. It will be a good break and will give me my snow fix.

One time use Credit Card Number

Paypal is coming out with a one time use credit card number that will allow you to use Paypal on sites that don't accept it. This one time use number will link to the users account and doesn't require an application to use...beneficial for people that don't have good credit but still have a Paypal account.

Another part of the implementation allows for a secure auto fill of website payment forms with the required information, making it easier for people to purchase on the site without having to transfer all of the newly created CC info over.

This service will be available next Tuesday to users. See release on this announcement.

This definitely increases the ante in comparison to Google Checkout. See my previous post on online payment processing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wikis - The New and Improved CMS

Working for MindTouch keeps wikis on the brain a majority of my waking hours and some of my non waking. One thing that becomes more apparent to me everyday and will continue to be more apparent to others as time and development progresses is that Wikis are the new and improved CMS. Here is a comparison of Wikis and CMS using Deki Wiki as the wiki to compare:

What Wikis do better than CMS:

  1. Easier to edit and collaborate on Content
  2. Easier to set roles for users
  3. Allows for easy integration/mashups of web services
  4. Easily build hierarchies and communities that allow the site to grow faster and have more relevant content

What CMS do better than Wikis:
  1. More development of plugins/extensions
  2. Been around longer, more well known(this is becoming more level everyday)
  3. Workflow

Where they are Equal:
  1. Deployment - both can be installed with a little bit of effort
  2. Skinning - CMS have some more themes but both are leveling off in regards to narrowing down to CSS/HTML editing of the look and feel
  3. Good to use for setting up a website

Wikis aren't at the full development point that CMS are at because of how long CMS have been around...but they are getting there and offer a better way to have dynamic websites that can easily aggregate content and mashup web services.

In many cases a Blog is a better CMS than typical CMS solutions. Hats off to WordPress for that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Trying to Go Legit

Well I've noticed a lot more people checking out my blog and decided I was going to kick it up a notch and make my blog legit. The first step Was I took a majority of the advertising off of my blog(I kept the header ads). Next I cleaned up the content on my blog and added Lijit
and also added myself to Technorati. If you like my blog add it to your faves on technorati or check it out daily with my RSS Feed

I'm going to be trying to promote my blog more over the months to come...mainly because it is pretty sweet :)

Idea Management for Companies

Capturing information from customers and users is very critical and beneficial to a company. It lets them know if they should spend time on a certain feature or drop it and move to something that has more interest within their community of users.

Recently SalesForce came out with an idea management interface that will allow you to customize and link to your site so that businesses can capture this info. Salesforce has been using this product with their own development. It has a nice interface but is an additional $50-$100/month for subscribers of their salesforce service.

Another company does the same thing with also an intuitive interface and management, FeVote
On top of it being easy to use, they have integration with multiple authentication providers including: Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and OpenID...allow a user to not have to worry about signing up for another account. It is free to use and has a widget that can be placed on your site for people to submit ideas and vote from.

I've heard that they are working on this and will be coming out with more customization a SalesForce user, I'm glad I have another option as $600-$1,200 tacked on to an already inflated price is crazy.

Reasonable PBX service

I read about today which is a hosted PBX service, a PBX being an automated phone system that allows routing of calls, digital receptionist, hold music etc. This is a great solution for a small business that doesn't have the framework to host a PBX system, even though Trixbox is an Awesome system to have. It seems reasonable for pricing.

Another option I have looked into was using Skype as a PBX. There are a couple of extensions for Skype that allow this but at the same time if there is a nice Web GUI for and no dependency on local software, then that would be ideal for small businesses.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Media file conversion

How many times have you run into the issue where you record in a certain format but need it is a separate format OR when someone sends you a file and in order for you to view it or listen to it it needs to be in a different format? I encounter this quite often especially now that I am getting into video tapping my vacations. I found a couple of really cool and free media converters that work well.

WM Converter
A lot of options for output and works pretty well

Media Converter
Very easy to use and configure, lightweight and converts fast.

Since necessity is the mother of invention(or in my case search) I was troubled with the fact that I had an MP4 that I wanted to upload to youtube but I needed to edit it first...all of my video editing software didn't support MP4 or even read it.

Google Android - The Next Mobile phone platform

Google recently released a video on their new Open Source platform called Android. Here is a video of it:

I like the platform a lot being an open source advocate and am glad that a dominant player finally is releasing a platform for smart phones that encourages development as opposed to hindering it(Apple). I'll be interested to see with an open source OS, will Open Source Mobile Hardware follow?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Soup, Singing Bee, and Sticky?

I am an avid watcher of The Soup, and a couple of weeks ago they showed an awesome clip of the week that was from The Singing Bee. It was a guy that didn't know the lyrics to the Wicked Witch is Dead from the Wizard of Oz. After scowering the internet looking for a copy I decided to get my own. I found the soup episode and was able to isolate the Sticky section. For your enjoyment it is posted here:

This wouldn't have been possible without help from some video converting software which I'll cover in my next the meantime, enjoy!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Web Payment System Comparison

There are a lot of web based Payment systems. Recently I've been looking into them to see what is best for small to medium websites. I compared the following:
Google Checkout
Amazon Flexible Payment Service(Beta)

Here are some Writeups about them with the conclusion at the end of this post.

Google Cart
Google Cart is new to the payment processing industry but they offer a Paypal like experience with easy to integrate checkout buttons and low rates: 2% + $0.20 per transaction
Google Cart also has a pretty strong company behind it ;)


Paypal has been the staple for authorization online ever since it became the prefered method of payment for Ebay. It has a strong developer community and an easy to integrate option with checkout buttons. The fee Schedule is available here but they start off at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Requires monthly quota to improve rate. Good security and also has a strong company behind it.

Amazon Flexible Payment Service(Beta)
Amazon's flexible payment system is still in beta but has a lot of promise with the chance to lumping together micro payments to save on processing fees along with an easy to integrate backend. There transaction fee for CC for transactions above $10 is 2.9% + $0.30. If it is under $10 though then it is 5.0% + $0.05 for credit card. Which is better because the flat transaction fee is only $0.05 so it will probably workout better but at the same time still pretty high. Doesn't appear to be a monthly quota that can lock you in at a fixed rate.

Authorize.Net makes it hard to find the fees for transactions and has a bad interface for integration. Customer Support is Great though and responds very fast.

Final Comment
I'm going to try out Google Checkout as it has the lowest rate for what I am looking for and has an easy integration. I'll be interested to see how Amazon develops their platform and as always Paypal is improving. So conclusion is right now use Google Checkout or Paypal, wait for Amazon to come out of beta, and proceed with with caution.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Blog World!!

Blog World is currently going on in Las Vegas and MindTouch has a booth there. Check us out at #401. Typically this would be a conference that I would go to but we have been having constant growth at MindTouch with downloads of Deki Wiki and interest in our product so I decided to stay behind and monitor support.

MindTouch is sponsoring the wiki at blogworld. There are a lot of funny pages there. Check it out and digg any that look cool as it is also a contest and the highest Digged page gets prizes. If you are attending BlogWorld make sure you join the contest as you can win cool prizes and get a chance to use an awesome wiki.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Can't get this song out of my head!!!

So every since I did the post on Elijah Wood on Yo Gabba Gabba with the dubbed over song from Ozone I have had it stuck in my head and it is driving me nuts. So for your enjoyment I'm posting it here.

Someone please add a comment of a different song I can get in my head. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wireless signal for rear speakers on surround sound

I've had my surround sound system for a couple of years now and up till my current residence have been able to successfully run and hide wires. With my current setup I couldn't run the wires without having them across my floor in my living I did some research and found an awesome solution. I got a wireless transmitter for my rear speakers. It works pretty good. The brand I got was RocketFish. I got it off of Ebay for around $50. Here is a review. There are a couple other options available too like Think Geek's wireless amp

It definitely helps with a signal and allows me to utilize my surround sound again.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Yo Gabba Gabba

Along the same lines as the last post, Yo Gabba Gabba a Nick Jr show focuses on getting kids to dance along with education. They get some good cameos including Tony Hawk and this video of Elijah Wood, that was put to a parody of the Numa Numa song:

Nathaniel likes to Dance

Here is a clip that was on the soup that I thought was hilarious...watching it says it all:

Visa commercials

There have been some Visa commercials that show people moving like clockwork in a food court or toy store and then someone pulls out a check/cash and then everything stops because it takes so long. The thing that kills me is that if it were up to the business they'd rather have Cash because everytime they process a credit card it costs the business at least 3%.

I myself enjoy using credit cards because I like a trail for business write offs...but the killer is that the one expense that I write off the most is the one service that is hard to get them to accept CC....A Taxi Cab.

Zen Cart as a ecommerce solution to sell digital files

I've been looking at a lot of different solutions to use for e-commerce and there aren't a lot of options that work, especially for digital files. I tried Wordpress with an e-commerce plugin but the plugin was buggy. I looked at different hosted options specifically for selling digital files and found that the cut they took for selling was very expensive. Then I setup a Zen Cart install, which is a one click setup thanks to DreamHost, and it worked great. There are very good setup instructions for selling digital files provided by Zen Cart. Zen Cart has a lot of bonuses that one wouldn't expect from an e-commerce solution like newsletter management and a CMS feel management.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

When You See the Flash

There is a play coming up on the 15th of November playing at the University of Minnesota called When You See the Flash, reserve your tickets now on their website
I have some affinity for this production because my sister in law is in it. They have some teasers for their production that I have to say makes me want to fly to MN to see it.

Here they are:

If you are in MN from November 15th-18th, then you should check out When You See the Flash.