Looking for a smart phone? Consider the Palm Pre 2. Seriously.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been check­ing out the Palm Pre 2 — the next gen­er­a­tion key­board / touch screen data­phone from HP. Pre­vi­ously I’d not con­sidered a webOS phone much of a con­tender against the tra­di­tion­al lead­ers (Black­berry and iPhone), but this little unit changed my mind.

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In this review, I’ll touch on the things that appealed (or didn’t) to me about the unit. I won’t be going into a long descrip­tion about each and every fea­ture though, so if you’re inter­ested in that, you can read more here.

For a $99 phone (with 3 year con­tract) there’s a lot going on inside this little black box. Con­tin­ue read­ing “Look­ing for a smart phone? Con­sider the Palm Pre 2. Ser­i­ously.”

How to run your favourite desktop utilities from almost any computer using Portable Applications

photo.JPGIn the course of my day, I use two or three main desktop and laptop com­puters in two or three dif­fer­ent parts of the city.

And yet, work­ing on dif­fer­ent devices, I still have access to a core set of tools and util­it­ies that I find essen­tial to my daily work. Here’s how I do it.

Some of the com­puters are ‘cli­ent’ man­aged, so I don’t have com­plete con­trol over the soft­ware suite I have avail­able to me.

There are two options that I use, though I find myself mov­ing to one more often these days.

But before I get ahead of myself, let me write a little bit about the applic­a­tions. Con­tin­ue read­ing “How to run your favour­ite desktop util­it­ies from almost any com­puter using Port­able Applic­a­tions”

Two words I thought I’d never see together: Library & Groupon

I must say I’m rather proud of the Edmon­ton Pub­lic Lib­rary — my loc­al lib­rary. They were one of the first in Canada to:

  • offer free Wi-Fi to mem­bers,
  • jump into social media,
  • equip branches with self-check­out barscan­ners and RFID chip auto­mated checkin,
  • allow online holds and media reser­va­tions,
  • cre­ate a mobile lib­rary app,
  • offer digit­al deliv­ery of ‘loaned’ mater­i­al.

And now they’re tak­ing advant­age of Groupon to offer dis­counts on mem­ber­ship renew­als.

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dealdeets.jpgThis last ini­ti­at­ive is just anoth­er step the lib­rary is tak­ing to remain rel­ev­ant, and stim­u­late mem­ber­ship by ‘being where the users are’, while magazines, news­pa­pers and oth­er forms of tra­di­tion­al media are being chal­lenged by mobile inter­net tech­no­lo­gies.

At the close of the offer, it looks like just under two thou­sand people bought in to the concept and bought $6.00 lib­rary cards — a steal, actu­ally for all the ser­vices offered.

But mine can’t be the only for­ward-think­ing lib­rary in Canada…got an example of your pub­lic lib­rary embra­cing tech? Write about it in the com­ments!

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Speed up your Internet experience by using the right DNS server

Last week I saw this Life­Hack­er art­icle (via AppleIn­sider) about NameBench, a win­dow util­ity that tests the speed of your system’s DNS serv­ers.

And I was won­der­ing if my DNS was as fast as it could be…

Pre­vi­ously, I’d switched my DNS ser­vices over to OpenDNS, a free altern­ate DNS Pro­vider that adds value as:

  • Ultra-reli­able, glob­ally-dis­trib­uted net­work
  • Industry-lead­ing Web con­tent fil­ter­ing
  • Easy to use for fam­il­ies, schools, and busi­nesses of all sizes

Google also has free pub­lic DNS ser­vices avail­able, which NameBench scans and includes in the res­ults.

But recently I’d noticed that often videos and oth­er stream­ing media just wouldn’t play back smoothly, so after read­ing this bit in the life hack­er art­icle I thought I’d give NameBench a try.

When mil­lions of users all tap into the same DNS serv­er addresses to resolve domain names, as Google DNS does by design, Akamai and oth­er CDNs route con­tent to those users along the same path, pre­vent­ing the net­work from work­ing optim­ally. This causes prob­lems not only for Apple’s iTunes, but also any oth­er media stream­ing or down­load ser­vice that uses a sim­il­ar CDN strategy to dis­trib­ute down­loads.”

As an added bene­fit, NameBench checks to see if your DNS serv­ers are vul­nur­able up to secur­ity stand­ards, and if your DNS requests are being cen­sored or redir­ec­ted (WikiLeaks, for example).

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WOW.
Accord­ing to NameBench, By switch­ing back to my ISP, I’d get an amaz­ing DNS speed improve­ment of over 100%!! Remem­ber, this doesn’t speed up my inter­net con­nec­tion, just the speed that the Inter­net trans­lates domain names into those cryptic Inter­net IP addresses.

So, by mak­ing the recom­men­ded changes to my sys­tems DNS set­tings, NameBench was happy with my set­tings. Now to see if I actu­ally notice any improve­ment…

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In Real Life.
Well, I’m not too sure if I am noti­cing any dif­fer­ence yet or not. There’s so many dif­fer­ent factors that can con­trib­ute to net­work speed that one change rarely makes a huge dif­fer­ence.

But still, every small improve­ment you make adds up, and con­trib­utes to a more effi­cient online exper­i­ence.
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Reinventing the Walkie Talkie

walkie.jpgBack in the day, this kind of thing was what people used to talk to each oth­er over dis­tances, using radio waves. You were lim­ited by the power of the unit and the type and num­ber of obstacles between you and the per­son you were talk­ing with.

And gen­er­ally, your con­ver­sa­tion could be over­heard by any­one else using a sim­il­ar device.

Fast for­ward to this cen­tury and the digit­al data­phone. And this nifty Android & iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad app called Hey­Tell, brings the Walk­ie Talk­ie concept up to date.

Simple, but it works
Hey­Tell is a simple app. On an iOS device (I assume it’s sim­il­ar for Android), Hey­Tell uses your con­tact list to man­age con­tacts and invite oth­ers to the app.

Using Hey­Tell is drop-dead simple:

1) Select the con­tact to speak with

2) Push the ‘Hold and Speak’ but­ton
That’s it. The voice mes­sage is beamed to their device. They can talk back to you imme­di­ately.
And that’s the way it works. It’s not real-time two-way com­mu­nic­a­tion, rather staged deliv­ery of voice mes­sages… a great way to check in, update someone, when it’s not con­veni­ent or prac­tic­al to send out an email.

And it’s free (exclud­ing Inter­net charges).



This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.