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Showing posts from February, 2008

Outlook Help, Via Twitter

I've written many a time about how I hate Outlook. Today, I struggled for hours to get Outlook even to start. I vented my frustration on Twitter, and, much to my surprise and delight, a Twitter person decided to point me to a great set of tips: Arrow Tips . Now THAT is the power of the Web to deliver solutions! Now, excuse me, I'm back to figuring out how to reduce a 4GB Outlook Archive file...

YouTube Drives Business

A great article from Internet Retailer on the effect of a single YouTube video on the fortunes of a niche DVD seller. The "12 Days Of Christmas" video, sung by the amazing a capella group, Indiana University's Straight No Chaser, has been such a YouTube hit that the sole distributor of the DVD went from selling 100 copies a year of a single title, to an amazing 5,300. Best of all, the popularity has convinced the 1998 graduates featured in the video to reunite for a follow up performance! Here's to the power of the Internet! The original performance, in all it's glory:

How To Make Your Own iPhone Ringtones

I do love my iPhone, but sometimes the restrictions are asinine. Take ringtones, for instance. Can you ask for a more prefect device for ringtones? And yet, Apple insists the only way to have ringtones is to buy them from iTunes. Period. Now, I grant you, the ringtones they ship with are exceptional, but I have some ones that are quite specific and highly unlikely to be on iTunes. What to do? Leave it to the power of the Internet. In browsing this forum , I found one solution that actually did work: 1. Take any song in iTunes and if you don't want to mess with the timing, right click and choose "convert selection to aac" and a new version of the song will appear just below the old one. 2. Right click the song, select Get Info, and go under "Options" and "Start Time" as well as "End Time" and pick which part of the song that you want to make into a ringtone. (It seems the general consensus with this is under 30 sec.) 3. Once you've selecte

I'm Not Alone In My Flat Tire Hatred

In the central plaza of downtown San Rafael, CA, on a wet and windy day, I encountered this homage to all who have suffered the pain and frustration of a flat tire on their bike. Nice to see this expression of catharsis and irony.


Two seagulls hover for the hope of a Friday snack as the ferry departs the city for the weekend.

Bouncing Gift Cards

An unexpected side effect of The Sharper Image bankruptcy: gift cards are not being accepted for payment anymore. Although the Consumerist points out that you can sue for compensation under bankruptcy law, I'm kinda shocked. Chapter 11 allows a company to reorganize, granting temporary relief from debt to emerge slimmed down, leaner, and more competitive. TSI is closing over half of their stores, allowing them to escape long term leases and layoff employees; that's cost savings. If they can get relief from the looming Ionic Breeze judgment, those two moves alone will provide the chance to actually make a go of it. This one I don't understand: the gift cards represent actual cash that has been paid to the company by consumers, not a promise of cash. If a supplier sells TSI gizmos, they get paid on a net 30 or 60 basis; TSI can hold back that money, and the supplier is screwed: the gizmos are in TSI stores, and the supplier has to get in line with everyone else to get paid.

The Inevitable

A moment of silence this morning for my old friends, employers, and purveyors of all things needless. The Sharper Image has filed for bankruptcy. I shall shed a burltech tear in its honor. Thanks, fellow TSI alum Tim for giving me the heads up.

Paper: The Hobgoblin of Analog Minds

I have an admission: I hate paper. From printouts of emails, to handwritten notes, I detest paper in almost all forms. It has become the trash and detritus of our daily life: credit/debit cards have nearly replaced paper money, but they leave behind the droppings of indecipherable receipts that we, as a society, are terrified to leave behind for fear that our entire identity will be stolen from that innocuous pizza payment. As we have moved to a digital world, complete with multifunction scanner/printers and both enormous hard drives and online storage, paper is simply a crutch to be finally snapped in favor of bits. It looks like the New York Times is noticing. The article points out how a Google engineer has already eliminated paper from his family's life; I have been fighting this battle for nearly a decade. My weapons of choice? Visioneer's line of sheet-fed scanners and both CD burners as well as Moxy . I scan EVERYTHING: receipts, photos, notes, legal documents, even r

It's 2008, not 1988

Great article by Ken Magill on the surprising laggards in the direct marketing game to adapt to e-commerce, even in this Internet infused world. Including the hilarity of being privacy policy compliant...even with no ability to be so, as no data is being collected. Having been on the forefront of this with one of the world's most direct marketers over 10 years ago, I watched the industry slowly adapt, cautiously embrace, and then often thrive on the change. Reminders like these make me shake my head in astonishment. Read and enjoy. Stupid Catalog Watch: You Don't Have a What? By Ken Magill, Magilla Marketing A favorite catalog in the Magilla household is Make Life Easier . It's simply full of some of the coolest stuff to, well, make life easier. For example, there's the four-tools-in-one set of pliers, monkey wrench, pry bar and slot head screwdriver. Then there's the thumb saver, a device that allows the user to hold nails, tacks and screws at a safe distance so t

Andre Tippett, Hall of Famer

I was surprised and pleased when watching the Patriots accept their sixth AFC Championship trophy two weeks ago that the presenters were none other than John "Hog" Hannah and Andre Tippett, two former Patriot stars of the 1980's. I've always been a football fan, and growing up in New England, was exposed as much to the Pats as possible, even though I always rooted for my Dallas Cowboys. See, back then the Patriots were an afterthought; in Boston, you had, in order: - The Red Sox. This was not a team, it was a religion, based on tradition and misery. They crushed the souls of all who dared to root for them, but since it had happened every year for generations, it was practically required. - The Celtics. Ah, a team I was lucky enough to see in its heyday, in a sport I actually played and loved to watch. The C's had dominated the sport for so long, they made the Yankees look like rookies in baseball. And the 1986 Celtics were the culmination of the greatest team, o

Making Firefox Live Bookmarks Favicons

Firefox's Bookmarks toolbar is invaluable. To allow for more links and more efficient use of real estate, I usually kill the name of the bookmark, as the favicon is more than enough for me to be able to know what site I'm clicking on. However, one annoyance I've had is with Firefox's Live Bookmarks: the ability to add an RSS feed as a bookmark that is updated with the articles in the feed. Useful for browsing sites with lots of interesting content, like digg or headlines on the NFL , without having to wade through the pages. However, they lack favicon support, meaning they take up a lot of toolbar real estate. Enter LiveClick , a Firefox extension that allows you to bring the joy of favicons to your Live Bookmarks, as well. While also offering a ton of micromanagement for these bookmarks, I really love it for the favicon support: it's automatic, slick, and lets that real estate stay valuable. Now, if I could just figure out why some bookmarks actually pay attention

Pulse Goes Public

Plaxo's Pulse continues to get better and better. Today, they became the first to use Google's Social Graph API. The result? A public "pulse" page, that you can control the content of, available to anyone, not just Plaxo users. Mine is up. Another perk? Pulse status updates now link with your Twitter account and vice versa: update one, the other is automatically updated. The article I link to above actually does the best job yet of stating why Pulse is not a Facebook "me-too:" "Plaxo's Pulse platform, mistakenly thought of by some as just another social network, is actually an attempt at an open version of the social web where sites inter-operate with each other. Currently Pulse supports integration with flickr, YouTube, digg, LiveJournal, Windows Live,, yelp, MySpace, webshots,, Pownce, xanga, tumblr, jaiku, twitter, smugmug, Yahoo 360, Picasa, and Amazon." Gotta say, I hope Plaxo continues their trend, missteps and all,

Tesla Uncoiled

Amid the strange doings at Tesla Motors, the first all-electric, 250 mile range, stunningly fast production Tesla Roadster arrived stateside today , with the "P1" (Production, 1st model) making landfall at Tesla HQ for its happy owner, Tesla chairman Elon Musk (of PayPal and SpaceX fame). "P1 was flown from the Lotus manufacturing plant in Hethel, England; its battery pack came from Tesla’s plant in Thailand and is being installed this afternoon at the company’s California headquarters." Tesla, located in the Bay Area, has been a darling of the technorati, but has recently gone a bit off the rails. Many of the key personnel have left; the Roadster was long delayed (despite having sold through the initial run in preorders); the transmission was scrapped for a "temporary" 1 speed that will be replaced in all of the cars when the new one is perfected. But even odder comes the news that the fabled WhiteStar sedan, which was always Tesla's secret weapon (th

I'm On The Schmap

Ok, I'll be the first to admit that I had never hear of Schmap . Time Magazine raved about it. The Washington Post gushed over it. And I was ignorant of it all. However, thanks to geotagging my Flickr photos , I was approached by the editors and asked if they could include two of my photos in their San Antonio edition. I was flattered, and received word today they are in. The photos in question? From the King William section of San Antonio, with it's stately mansions and immaculate grounds. The Guenther House, a working flour mill with a restaurant on the banks of the river. We were tipped off to this King William gem from a great Riverwalk waiter, and brunched here the next day amid the most tranquil setting in a factory you can imagine. Check out the widget with my photos included. Geotagging pays off!

10 Minutes You Must Watch

Keith Olbermann. You may know him as just the guy who does the "Worst Person in the NFL" segments on Sunday Night Football. Or, if you are a long-time ESPN watcher, you may remember him for defining the hip SportsCenter anchor position. But he is so much more. Specifically, he is the Paul Revere of a new revolution. Think of him as the anti-Rush Limbaugh, or, as he would prefer, the perennial foil to blowhards like Bill O'Reilly. Olbermann's speech tonight is the type of language people like me crave to hear from leaders. As we are left with a President who can't even properly pronounce "nuclear," it falls to men like Keith Olbermann to make those words reality. Take 10 minutes and listen for yourself: The amazing prose that stands out for me: - "You told Congress, if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened, and our citizens would be in greater danger," Olbermann said. "Yet you you are willing to