5 days left to win a webOS 2.0 powered Palm Pre 2 phone!

Well then, think there’s enough relevant keywords in that post title? 😀

Good, because I really do want to make sure this little phone goes to a good home.

WebOS2 is a funky little OS, and hardware running it is very slick. So why not take a chance and enter the contest — who knows, you could soon be in a position to welcome this little guy into your digital lifestyle.

Here’s how to enter:

1) Fol­low me (@bgrier) on Twit­ter
2) Tweet once (one ping only please) the fol­low­ing:

Just entered to win a Palm Pre 2.
Fol­low @bgrier and retweet this tweet to enter
http://g1z.me/fJzl5c #WinAPalmPre2

And there you go. It’s simple. Fol­low me, tweet once and you’re entered to win the Palm Pre 2.

This con­test will run until mid­night, Feb­ru­ary 11th, 2011, MST , after which I’ll ran­domly select the winner.

Good Luck!

I’m giving away a Palm Pre 2

Time for another Lifestyle Technology giveaway contest — and this time the prize is one very cool Palm Pre 2 and a few accessories, worth around $500.00. 😀

Over the last few weeks I’ve had a chance to put the Palm Pre 2 through it’s paces and found it to be a solid smartphone.

And now, you have a chance to win your own, here’s how:

1) Follow me (@bgrier) on Twitter
2) Tweet once (one ping only please) the following:

Just entered to win a Palm Pre 2.
Follow @bgrier and retweet this tweet to enter
http://g1z.me/fJzl5c #WinAPalmPre2

Simple. Follow me, tweet once and you’re entered to win the Palm Pre 2.

This contest will run until midnight, February 11th, 2011, MST , after which I’ll randomly select the winner.

Bon Chance!

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.

hp_palm_pre_2.jpg

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.”

Saving time with Text Replacement utilities

I write a lot. Blog posts, proposals, reports, reviews, email…you get the picture. Often times I end up creating new documents that share similar format or content, and I cut-and-paste from older docs into newer ones. But I’m lazy, and always looking for easier ways to get the job done…

I’m Lazy
Over the past year I’ve been slowly learning how to save time and keystrokes by using text expansion software. In the old days we called them Macro keys.

Basically, what you do is create a database of commonly typed words, phrases or layouts and assign unique key triggers to each snippet of text. For example, I usually sign my email thusly:


Brad Grier

———-
Brad Grier Consulting
Lifestyle Technology & Community Media

Lots of characters and formatting, no?  Here’s the cool thing, all I typed to get that email signature was ‘.mysig’ (minus the single quotes). The software did the rest.

Another example? Sure!
Ok, the bright ones amongst you will be emailing me to say that most common email programs have a place for a signature, and it’s automated whenever you compose a new email. True. Save you’re email. But this was just one example. Here’s another.

Let’s say you’re a web designer, and you use common CSS or HTML snippets. It’s a simple matter to add this code to the database, and call it with a few keystrokes. This Lorem Ipsum layout text block, for example:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc mattis arcu sed quam tincidunt et lobortis nunc volutpat. Phasellus lacinia nulla quis lectus molestie in commodo mauris blandit. Nullam in vestibulum velit. Donec libero est, volutpat non accumsan ac, rutrum vitae odio. Curabitur pretium mauris non nisi vestibulum tincidunt. Aenean tristique quam sapien, vel dapibus ligula. Maecenas commodo faucibus pulvinar. Donec eleifend ante eget purus luctus ultrices. Nulla quis sem magna, eget feugiat dui. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Etiam sodales enim in dui ultrices in dapibus ligula porta. Aenean adipiscing ipsum id massa luctus vel suscipit metus elementum. Morbi venenatis mauris eget metus tincidunt luctus eget quis elit. Cras eget ligula quis diam pharetra luctus vel ut tortor.

That was generated by me typing ‘.lorem’ and hitting the Tab key. Much easier than pasting it in from the .txt doc I keep in my design snippets directory.

As well, text replacement software can easily automagically enter other dynamic data such as the current date (.d) [ Thursday, October 28, 2010  ] or time (.t) [ 10:09 PM ] in a bunch of formats. You get the idea.

The Software
On windows, I’d recommend the free Texter program, created by LifeHacker editor Adam Pash. And lookie here, there’s a video:

For iPhone and iPad, I use TextExpander Touch. Same features, with a few extra bells and whistles such as application integration.

For OSX, I don’t have one. I don’t do any writing on our Mac, it’s my wife’s computer :smileyhappy: But TextExpander Touch has a counterpart (called TextExpander, of course) that runs on OSX and others consider it the ‘benchmark’ for Mac text expansion and scripting tools.

texter.jpgSaving time?
One other thing, Texter actually tracks the keystrokes you’ve saved, and provides this fun little report showing how much time you’ve saved using it, and provides a handy printable chart of all your replacement macros.

Hello coders and writers, do you use a text replacement application? If so, weigh in on your app-of-choice, or perhaps a favourite replacement macro you use often.



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


Tablets will be the story this holiday season

The iPad has been out for a bit now, and it’s the tablet that all the others will be compared against as they jockey for position going into the holiday season.

But overall, I think this is the year that tablets finally start to make some headway into the marketplace; a marketplace already crowded with Desktops, Laptops, Netbooks and Data Phones.

So, why consider a tablet? Here’s a few things to think about.

Middleground
Tablets won’t replace your main computer, nor will they replace your laptop. They’re not powerful enough to do a lot of the work those computers do. But, they will fill in the middleground between your smartphone and your computer, simply because they are smaller, yet not too small, and offer a great interactive experience.

Tablets are  great to bring to meetings, light-weight and yet functional enough that looking up calendar conflicts or taking simple notes is a very simple process — and the tablet is much less obvious than a laptop when sitting around the boardroom table.

Oh, and you smartphone jockey’s out there, yes, you can do all that stuff on your handheld Android/BlackBerry/iPhone, but the screen size is kinda limiting when you want/need to share the view.

Cloudbusting
Using some cloud computing applications such as DropBox, any notes you create on your tablet are instantly stored in the cloud account and accessible to your other computers.

And, if you’re in that meeting and need to reference something stored on your desktop, you can use desktop control software such as LogMeIn Ignition (on the iPad / iPhone / Touch) or a VNC client written for your tablet. A couple of quick touchpad strokes and you’re working on your desktop computer as if you were sitting in front of it.

Ok, those are the big reasons that a tablet wins for me. And here’s a few more that are really just icing on the cake:

  • Inherently portable – smaller form factor makes it easier to take everywhere. My iPad is with me daily, whereas my laptop or netbook only came out when I thought I might need it
  • Casual usage – since it’s with me I use it more to jot down notes, surf, etc during otherwise dead time
  • Tactile, friendly, engaging – a tablet seems less imposing than a full-up laptop. People like to share work on a tablet, it’s easy to hand around a meeting and solicit feedback.
  • Portable media – tablets are great for watching movies or videos on the bus or wherever because they’re smaller and sleeker — no huge keyboard to haul around in addition to the screen.

So, in my humble opinion, yes, the tablet will make some serious inroads this holiday season, especially if the price can stay low, the hardware delivers, and the software is developed to live in this new middleground.

So that’s why a tablet appeals to me, how ‘bout you? Are you in or out when it comes to considering a tablet in the near future?



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


Legacy Hardware loses flagship application

Five years ago I modded my first Xbox to create a Media Centre. The software I ran, and still run is the uber awesome XBMC (for Xbox Media Center).

But now it seems that the days of using my original Xbox as a media center are numbered — the developers are stopping work for that hardware platform.

So now there will be no updates, no new ‘official’ features or bugfixes for what has become the cornerstone of my entertainment system.

And this means that I’d better start looking at a replacement that offers:

  • Multimedia playback
  • Huge library of media codecs
  • Native network awareness for Windows, OSX and Linux shared drives
  • Simple and easy-to-use interface

But I’m in no rush. My original modded Xboxen still run the last build of XBMC just fine. And will likely continue for some time. But now I know, the days are numbered. Something else just got added to my todo list. Lucky for me it involves tech 🙂

Use It and Lose It!

As our American friends leave turkey-day behind them, and the food filled holiday season approaches, I thought I’d take a look at Lose It! a well made little iPhone app. that has much more under the hood than a first glance reveals. …more



This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.