And we have a winner…

This week­end was a busy one with the reg­u­lar life stuff, as well as draw­ing a win­ner for the Palm Pre 2 giveaway con­test.

Through a rigirous and exact­ing pro­cess of fil­ter­ing new fol­low­ers review­ing tweets, and gen­er­at­ing a ran­dom num­ber a ran­dom num­ber of times — the win­ner of the Palm Pre 2, Touch­stone Char­ger and case is:

Audemars02

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Audemars02, and thanks for play­ing to all who entered and tweeted.

Oh, and I’ve got anoth­er con­test and announce­ment in the works — stay tuned!

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.”

Keeping your holiday photos safe

fz50.jpgThe hol­i­day sea­son is upon us, which means that we’ll be enjoy­ing time spent with fam­ily and friends. Many of us will grab our handy cam­era-enabled data phones and snap price­less shots that we’ll want to share, and keep for pos­ter­ity.

But that’s where the tech can get a bit tricky. Sure, we’ve tried shar­ing to our vari­ous Face­book, Flickr and Picasa accounts, but what about the ‘sav­ing for pos­ter­ity’ part.

Pho­tos in the Cloud
Well, two of those three ser­vices men­tioned above are a great start. Here’s the four that I’ve seen and used that will offer sol­id photo ser­vice over the hol­i­days and into the future:

  • Flickr offers a Pro level account (about $25 per year for unlim­ited photo and video stor­age) that will keep all your pho­tos online and avail­able. Free gives you unlim­ited stor­age, but only your most recent 200 pho­tos are view­able. Online image edit­ing provided by Pic­nik.
  • Picasa has a free account that offers 1GB of free photo stor­age and basic image edit­ing tools.
  • Smug­Mug is pri­ci­er, offers three levels of ser­vice, and is geared toward the more ser­i­ous pho­to­graph­er.
  • Adobe Pho­toshop Express gives you access to basic online photo edit­ing and organ­iz­a­tion tools, and 2GB of free photo stor­age. Addi­tion­al stor­age space can be pur­chased annu­ally.

flickr.jpg

So, what’s so great about stor­ing your pho­tos online any­way?

  1. Backup — you don’t have to worry about keep­ing your images safe; the ser­vice you’re using does that.
  2. Shar­ing — easy to embed the images into blogs, email and twit­ter mes­sages. Each photo usu­ally has a pub­lic URL that’s shar­able (or private, if that’s your thing).
  3. Print­ing — a few of the ser­vices are offer­ing part­ner­ships with pro­fes­sion­al print­ing labs which lets you pro­duce pho­to­books, cus­tom prints etc.
  4. Integ­ra­tion — some of the more pop­u­lar ser­vices are already integ­rated into your iPhone cam­era applic­a­tions (such as Instra­gram). Push a but­ton and your latest shot is uploaded to the ser­vice, ready for you to edit and share.

Loc­al stor­age?
Yep, you can keep your pho­tos on your own com­puter, but you do run risks should your com­puter crash or worse. I do keep the major­ity of my images at home, stored on a net­work attached stor­age device that’s got two drives, one a mir­ror of the oth­er. So if one should die, I’ve got a copy of my data on the oth­er.

Also, I backup my pho­tos weekly, and move the backup drive to an off­s­ite loc­a­tion for even great­er safety. Yeah, a house­fire would ruin a lot of things, but I know my pho­tos and oth­er import­ant data would be safe.

Your needs?
It depends. Take a sol­id think about what you plan to do with your pho­tos, how you want to share them, and how import­ant they are to you (can you afford to lose them?). I’ve likely giv­en you some ideas to try and exper­i­ment with as we head into the hol­i­days. I’d love to hear what you’ve tried and how it worked (or didn’t).

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.

Android, Blackberry or iPhone? Which is right for you.

Earli­er today I dropped in to the CityTV’s Break­fast Tele­vi­sion set to chat about the three main types of data phones.

Basic­ally we were look­ing at the data phones, and the types of people who each type of phone is best suited for — or not suited for 🙂




Here’s my notes from the early morn­ing chat:

Black­berry — Research In Motion — RIM
This is the ‘Go To’ busi­ness device. It’s the Star Trek com­mu­nic­at­or for the C suite set. You know you’re a black­berry type if you cov­et the device for the fol­low­ing reas­ons:

1) Huge busi­ness and gov­ern­ment pen­et­ra­tion — the key here is that most gov­ern­ment depart­ments and divi­sions, and the organ­iz­a­tions that do busi­ness with them have sim­il­ar tech­no­logy. They speak the same lan­guage, look at the same screens and share the same exper­i­ences.

2) Secur­ity — The Black­berry sys­tem is based on a pro­pri­et­ary serv­er tech­no­logy that routes all com­mu­nic­a­tion through a cent­ral serv­er sys­tem, man­aged by RIM. Black­Berry is basic­ally a totally integ­rated pack­age that includes phone, hard­ware, device soft­ware and hos­ted ser­vice, provid­ing you with a com­plete end-to-end email solu­tion.

3) Keypad — Though more recent mod­els use the touch screen inter­face sim­il­ar to the iPhone, the hall­mark fea­ture of the Black­berry over the years has been mini­ature chick­let-style key­board. This has caused numer­ous thumb-cramps over the years, yet some­how, the work of gov­ern­ment has been done. Go fig­ure.

Google’s Android
This is Google’s con­tri­bu­tion to mobile com­mu­nic­a­tions. If you remem­ber the old BASF com­mer­cial, Google doesn’t make the phone, Google makes the phone bet­ter. Google provides the oper­at­ing sys­tem, hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers provide the phone tech.

1)  You love the concept of an open and some­what hack­able phone oper­at­ing sys­tem. This lets you con­fig­ure the device to do exactly what you want, how you want.

2) You accept the risk of an open and some­what hack­able phone oper­at­ing sys­tem. This means that an applic­a­tion you add to your Android based phone could poten­tially cause you unforseen grief in the future. The Android store is open to any­one with min­im­al reg­u­la­tion and oversite. This is a good thing, and a bad thing.

3) You enjoy being at the bleed­ing edge of tech­no­logy. There is no finer place to be, as long as you really, REALLY, know what you’re doing with this tech­no­logy. There are dif­fer­ent Android devices run­ning slightly dif­fer­ent fla­vours of the oper­at­ing sys­tem. Yet, you know which apps will and won’t work on your phone. Yes, you are an Early Adop­ter..

Apple’s iPhone
This is the gold stand­ard by which all oth­er data phones are being meas­ured. Apple has basic­ally taken con­trol of this mar­ket, and for very many good reas­ons. Apple has cre­ated the tele­phone appli­ance.

1) an out­growth of the iPod — the iPhone is much more than a music play­er with a phone glued to it. It’s really a full-blown data appli­ance that you’d expect to see on Star Trek, but not only in the exec­ut­ive suite of cor­por­a­tions — the iPhone is the device for the rest of us.

2) The Apple store enabled a safe envir­on­ment for developers and con­sumers to explore the digit­al applic­a­tion mar­ket place for mobile digit­al devices. Apple ran the store, and had the right to approve applic­a­tions avail­able in the store. Put­ting the Apple repu­ta­tion on the line, applic­a­tions had to be safe, main­stream-accept­able, and tech­no­lo­gic­ally sound. You’d not get porn, vir­uses, or faulty pro­grams from the store on Apple’s watch.

3) It’s a data appli­ance. It must work. Every time. All the time. Apple guar­an­tees it. Your mom and dad could use it, and that’s what Apple’s bank­ing on. You don’t need an IT depart­ment to sup­port it (like the Black­berry) nor have to deal with eso­ter­ic inter­faces and com­mands (ala the Android). It just works.

How to keep your travel communications costs down, easily.

Wheth­er you’re on vaca­tion or trav­el­ling for work, tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions costs are a pain, and can really impact your the cost of your travel. Recently I’ve star­ted using two tools that let me call home or the office, talk as long as I want, and not break the bank. …more



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