Canuck going to South by South West (SXSW)?

If you’re going to South by South West (SXSW) in March, then consider checking in to the Maple Leaf Digital Lounge — a new concept that helps promote and highlight Canadian technology to SXSW attendees.

We are creating a cluster of Canadian technology that will be promoted at this event.  This is a unique concept and Canada is the only country to host a lounge at this conference. It will act as a catalyst in promoting Canadian innovation to a large technology and media audience.

The MLDL will feature Canada’s top Interactive digital media technology companies from the following industries: social media, mobile, marketing, multi-media, game development, web development or any related IT areas. At the event, each company will have a table set up/booth to showcase their technology over a two-day period.

So if you’re heading down to SXSW, the Maple Leaf Digital Lounge should be on your must-see list. And if you’re a Canadian tech. company, you may want to look at partnering.

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!

It’s cold! Pamper your tech

frost_250.jpgWith the amount of gear I have around I’m surprised this doesn’t happen to me more often.

The weather in Edmonton has been rather cool of late, in the -20 to -30 degree range in fact. And today, since it’s warmed up to a reasonable -2, I decided to drive the car, rather than our other, warmer, SUV.

After digging it out, scraping it off, and jumping in to wait for it to defrost, I rummaged around in the centre console — and discovered that I’d left my TomTom GPS in the vehicle since the fall.

Hmmm, this was not good. Weeks of cold-soaking the batteries at extreme temperatures can harm their life, and perhaps even physically damage them.

As well, bringing the device into a nice warm room also has it’s own hazards. As anyone who wears glasses and shovels snow in Canada knows, moisture quickly accumulates on these frozen devices. Wet electronics are not a good thing.

So, what can you do to keep your gadgets safely working through the winter? Here’s a few ideas:

Don’t let them freeze (duh)
Staged Warming – If they do freeze, warm the slowly, in stages, in a humidity free environment. In my case, I left the GPS in my garage for an hour (warmer than outside), then moved it to my car (warmer than my garage), and finally moved it inside the house. This reduced the shock to the components, and reduced the capacity for humidity to form as the unit was warmed.

Outdoor use
Cameras, music players, phones — keep them in an inside pocket, next to your body if possible. This’ll keep the batteries warm and extend the charge of the unit. Cold temp reduces the power of a charged battery.

While not all electronics are designed for Canada’s extreme cold swings, there are things you can do to enjoy your devices in the great outdoors. What do you do to keep your tech working in the weather?
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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!

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).

Print? Scan? Copy? Fax? It’s covered!

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Recently I had an opportunity to put one of the new Brother multi-function printer devices through it’s paces, and overall, I liked what I saw.

Priced as an entry level unit, the Brother MFC-J615W (that’s a mouthful, why can’t they just use names) is a solid home and light-duty small business document centre.

The first thing that impressed me was the packaging — no styrofoam. Now I know that’s minor, but I appreciate it when companies make the effort to design their packaging with the environmental impact in mind.

Judge me by my size, do you.
This is a fairly small unit, and very well designed. Once it’s set up and ready to use, the unit is smaller than most toaster ovens. Unlike my current printer, which when in print mode has a huge paper ream support rising out of the back and another finisher support out the front, the Brother has an internal paper tray and feed system that keeps the footprint small — great for small home-office situations.

Continue reading “Print? Scan? Copy? Fax? It’s covered!”