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Test Driving the Blog Editor in the Flock Browser July 13, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Freebies, Learning, Online Service, Reviews, Software, Technology.
3 comments

The ultra-cool new web browser, Flock, incorporates a blog editor for speedy posting.  I thought I’d try this out with this post.

Here’s how I used the blog editor in Flock:

  1. I surfed the web with Flock for an article to blog about.
  2.  Once I found one, I went to the VIEW menu, the sidebars sub-menu and then clicked on the “Web Clipboard”.
  3. With the web clipboard now a visible column on the left, I dragged/dropped a link and an image onto the sidebar.
  4. Next, I went to the TOOLS menu and chose the “Blog Editor” tool and a new window opened.
  5. On the blog editor window, I again went to the VIEW menu and chose sidebar and clicked on “web clipboard”.
  6. In the blog editor, I see the link and the image that I previously saved to the clipboard in step 3.
  7. I drag n’ drop the saved link and image into the body of the blog editor to use in the post.

All in all,  that’s an easy way to post to your blog from your web browser.  The blog editor is fairly basic, not a lot of whistles and bells, but it’ll help you post quickly.  Here are some of the features included in the blog editor:

  • Choose Font, Size, Bold/Italic/Underline, color
  • Bullets or numbers for creating lists
  • Indent buttons
  • Button to create link
  • Button to insert images (if you haven’t used the web clipboard)

Before Flock can send the post to your blog, you’ll need to configure your blog account into the Flock blog editor. It can be configured for a blog hosted on a free service like WordPress.com or a self-hosted blog. This is done from the TOOLS menu in the Blog Editor.

When you’re ready to publish your post, you can choose to create the entry as a new post or to replace an existing one.  You can also assign categories.


SAMPLE LINK:

http://www.engadget.com/ 2008/ 07/ 12/ kodak-intros-the-c913-m1073-is-and-m1063-chea…

SAMPLE IMAGE:

Kodak Cameras

Blogged with the Flock Browser
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An Ode to the New Hands-Free Driving Law in California July 1, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Fun, Hands-free, Hardware, Humor, News, Poem, Technology.
2 comments

An Ode to Hands-Free Driving in California

California drivers, July 1st is here!

Get that cell phone out of your ear!

Hands free is the way to be

Or you’ll get fined by the CHP

If you want to drive hands free

A BLUETOOTH ear piece is the key

Driving and dialing just isn’t shrewd

(Not to mention a tiny bit rude)

But take heart, Dear Drivers

Don’t feel vexed

The law still allows you to text!

(That’s it. This agonizing poem is done. Thanks for reading. Rhyming is fun.)

Get answers to the FAQs about the law from the California DMV.

Get Fit! Technology That Moves You June 28, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, exercise, family, geocaching, Hardware, health, iPod, Reviews, Software, Technology, Worth the Money.
7 comments

What other technology products out there are designed to help you exercise or enjoy the outdoors?

The excitement surrounding the release of the Nintendo Wii Fit got me thinking about this question.

I spent a little time browsing Amazon.com and came up with a few technology gadgets — with many positive user reviews — that will help you get off your couch and get outside (or at least break a sweat inside):

Wii Fit

Exercise without leaving the comfy confines of your own living room. With Nintendo’s addictively fun Wii game system, this new software package will get you exercising in four key areas: Strength Training, Aerobics, Yoga and Balance Games. The games and activities are designed to appeal to all ages, so Mom and Dad can enjoy it just as much as the kids.

Price: $171 on Amazon.com

Apple Nike + iPod Sport Kit for iPod nano 1G, 2G, 3G

This is actually an add-on package for an iPod Nano. You’ll need to buy the Nano iPod separately.

“Consisting of a wireless sensor and receiver, the Nike + iPod Sport Kit works exclusively with your Nike+ shoes and iPod nano to give you real-time feedback during workouts.” – Amazon product description.

Price: $29.00 on Amazon.com

Garmin eTrex H Handheld GPS with High Sensitivity GPS

This one intrigues me. GPS devices like this one have led to an explosion in popularity of a game called geocaching. In a nutshell, geocaching is a game of high tech treasure hunting. Players hide “caches” in various places, like parks or camp sites or even urban locations. The map coordinates of the cache are then posted online and other players can go and search for it using a handheld GPS.

For a full description of geocaching, please visit The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site

Geocaching sounds like a great family activity. I fully intend to play when my sons get a little older. When the time comes, I’ll take my friend Chris up on his offer to join him on a treasure hunt one day.

While there are a great many varieties of handheld GPS devices, this one is under $100 and should fit the budget of most families.

Price: $93.16 on Amazon.com

Omron HJ-112 Digital Premium Pedometer

Amazon Product Description:

“The HJ-112 accurately measures your steps, as well as aerobic steps and minutes. You can also use it to measure calorie consumption during your workout, as well as the distance you’ve traveled.”

Price: $19.82 on Amazon.com

So, now you can have your “tech” and exercise too. I’ll see you outdoors. Don’t worry about that big ball of light in the sky. That’s called the sun. It’s a good thing. Have fun!

Technology Provides Parenting Peace of Mind June 27, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, children, family, parenting, Reviews, Technology, Worth the Money.
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Electronic Child Guard Child Safety Alarm

How many of you have worried about your child wandering away from you in a store, park or public place? OK, all parents may put their hands down. There’s nothing more heart pounding than losing sight of your son or daughter in a store for a few moments.

How much would you pay for a little peace of mind and your child’s safety? For less than $30, this little device can provide just that.

The “Child Guard” is a wireless transmitter/receiver. The transmitter (looks like a toy) on the child sends signals to the receiver in the parent’s purse or pocket, etc. If the child starts to wander, the receiver starts beeping to alert Mom or Dad.

If you’re traveling, visiting theme parks this summer or just going to the shopping mall across town, the “Child Guard” is an item you can put to good use to help prevent lost children or, heaven forbid, a kidnapping.

The image from Amazon.com shows a pink transmitter, but I’m sure they offer them in different colors to appeal to the boys out there too.

Bad Spelling and Online News – Sloppy or Smart? June 13, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Business, News, Technology.
3 comments

Hello,

How many of you have noticed that misspelled words are becoming more common online in legitimate news articles?  Whether I am browsing CNN.com or ESPN.com or a local newspaper web site like the San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate.com,  I see the same problem.

Misspelled words are an exception rather than the rule in traditional newspapers.

Why are they more abundant in online articles?  After all, word processing programs have a handy little spell checker button to eliminate the problem. (On a side note….does anyone find it humorous that the word “blog” is still identified in many spell checkers — I’m looking at you MS Word 2003— as a misspelled word?)

I have a few ideas as to why spelling errors are tolerated in online news:

  1. Need to produce more articles, more quickly
  2. Sloppy editing or none at all
  3. More “non traditional” journalists writing the news and making mistakes

OR……is it intentional?   I hadn’t considered this option until I googled “increase in spelling errors” and came upon Shaun Low’s blog where he had written this article:

Are Spelling Mistakes Good?

Shaun’s article asks the question from a blogging perspective.  Specifically,  googlers misspell words when they type in a search.  If you include a misspelled word in your blog post, it may increase traffic to your blog.  Of course, in theory the same line of thinking may apply to online new articles.

However, I’m not sure this is the reason for sloppy spelling.

I think it is just carelessness and a change in attitudes among writers and readers.

A Blogger’s Best Friend: Zoundry’s Blog Writer Software June 4, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Freebies, Organize, Reviews, Software, Technology.
3 comments

zlogo-beta.png

Attention fellow bloggers!

Zoundry’s Blog Writer software will make your life easier.

How, you ask?

  1. Free software (click to visit download page) makes it easier to compose and upload your posts to popular blog sites like WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, LiveJournal, etc.
  2. Download your existing posts (and categories) into the Blog Writer software for faster editing and updating.
  3. Innovative “Create Link to” feature allows you to quickly locate product images (very helpful if writing a product review) on web sites like Amazon.com and Buy.com. For example, It helped me grab images when writing my post about Father’s Day Gift Ideas.
  4. Use the software to backup your blog posts. After downloading your posts, you can save them as HTML files on your PC.
  5. The software allows you to quickly ping Technorati, Google’s Blog Search, Feed Burner, My Yahoo and and other similar sites.

And more good news…..Zoundry is updating Blog Writer to make it even better. The new version, in beta, is called Zoundry Raven and is available for download now.

Read more about it on Zoundry Raven’s blog.

If this software isn’t to your liking, you may want to try BlogDesk software instead.

Powered by Zoundry

I’m Now an Official Yahoo Power Mailer! May 14, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Online Service, Technology, Yahoo.
2 comments

Computer graphic of a person holding a gold ribbon

Here’s part of the email message I received from the folks at Yahoo! today:

“As a loyal Yahoo! Mail user, you’re one of the select few to receive our exclusive Power User rewards.”

What privileges does the title of “Power Mailer” bestow upon me?

  • Sending messages up to 20MB in size
    • Never mind that standard Yahoo email accounts only accept 10MB size emails
  • Premium Customer Care
    • Think of it as a Disneyland-esque virtual “Fast Pass” that puts me near the top of the waiting list for technical support help.
  • Priority Notifications about important Yahoo! Mail developments
    • Every blogger’s wish….early info on new products and features for new blog posts!

I promise not to let this esteemed title go to my head….much.

In all seriousness though, it’s nice to know that a company appreciates my loyalty to their services and gives me a few free perks.

The “Power Mailer” features still do not equal those offered by the Yahoo! Mail Plus service, which costs a reasonable $19.99 per year.

Who knew that my 3,707 emails (and counting) in my inbox would earn me Power mailer status? Yes, I’m an email pack rat. But, what’s the harm in keeping emails? Yahoo gives me so much mailbox storage space that I’m disinclined to delete anything and its not like my wife or family has to deal with my virtual clutter.

Should Yahoo! reward its heavy users with perks even though the subscribed to service is free?

What do you think?


Technorati : ,

Be an Informed Voter with this List of Web Sites February 2, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Humor, Learning, News, Politics, Videos.
1 comment so far

With the 2008 Presidential primaries campaign in full swing and the Super Tuesday primary elections a few days away, many Americans are still deciding who to vote for this year. John McCain, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul and other presidential hopefuls are zig zagging across the country to shake hands, kiss babies and stump for votes.

Remember to vote in the primaries and in the election next November. If you don’t participate, you shouldn’t complain about the results.

Here are some web sites to help you be an informed voter on the candidates and the issues for this 2008 campaign.

Candidates official web sites:

  1. Mike Huckabee
  2. John McCain
  3. Ron Paul
  4. Mitt Romney
  5. Hillary Clinton
  6. Barack Obama

Informational:

  1. Project Vote Smart
  2. News Coverage 2008 Candidates
  3. Democratic Party Web Site
  4. Republican Party Web Site
  5. Rock the Vote
  6. Who’s Donating Money? 2008 Campaign Contributions

Worth a Look:

  1. QUIZ #1: Take a Quiz on the Issues to See Which Candidate You Should Vote For
  2. QUIZ #2: Another Quiz to See Who You Should Vote For
  3. QUIZ #3: The Glassbooth Quiz

Opinion (Humor, Blogs and Videos):

  1. Vote Different YouTube Video: Hillary as Big Brother
  2. YouTube Video: Actors Impersonate Obama and Hillary
  3. MyMcCainBlog
  4. Elect Romney Blog
  5. Vote Hillary
  6. Blog Obama ’08
  7. Huckabee for President Blog
  8. Colbertocrat – Craig Colbert’s Political Humor

WordPress Bloggers Can Blog from YouTube January 9, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Freebies, Technology, Videos.
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YouTube has a feature that allows bloggers to associate their blog with their YouTube account. WordPress is one of the blog services that works with this feature. Other services include Blogger (naturally, since both are Google owned sites), Friendster, LiveJournal, Pizco and FreeWebs.

By adding your blog to your account, you can quickly compose a blog entry about a video you’ve seen without leaving the YouTube site.

When you’re logged into your YouTube account and viewing a video, click on the SHARE icon beneath the video. You should see a link to “add a blog/site” to your account.

Once your blog is added, this is what you’ll see when you click the SHARE button:

Screenshot of YouTube

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Getting Some Respect: Blogs will soon be included in Google’s Universal Search December 14, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, News, Online Service, Technology.
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Google Sphere

I came across this article by Clint Boulton on eweek.com.

Google Adds Blogs to Universal Search

Read this Post by SuperBibliodigital to Keep Current on New Software and Online Services November 20, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, News, Software, Technology.
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Her blog will point you to a great site for keeping track of the latest and greatest web sites, software programs and other tech goodies.

SuperBibliodigital’s Killer Apps Post.

BlogDesk Software Helps Bloggers Post November 3, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Freebies, Reviews, Software, Technology.
14 comments

blogdesk-logo

I’ve recently started using BlogDesk software to write and upload articles to my blog. I like the fact that I can write my post in a software program offline and either save it or upload it to my WordPress.com blog when I’m done.

The software feels more like Microsoft Word and I think its more user-friendly for writing and editing than the free online word processing tools offered by WordPress.

BlogDesk is totally free of charge and optimized for the blog systems WordPress, MovableType, Drupal, Serendipity and ExpressionEngine as well as the bloghosters Blogg.de and Twoday.net.

COOL FEATURES:

  1. FREE (is always cool)
  2. Work offline on your blog writing.
  3. Edit existing blogs offline
  4. Easier to insert images and edit text.
  5. Good, user-friendly image editing tools.
  6. ‘Manage Blogs’ feature allows you to import your existing blog posts and categories for editing.

NOTE: I did have a few problems getting the import feature to work for my WordPress blog, but its worth the trouble. You’ll need to get it working to be able to upload your finished work to your blog.

Read Qiyas II’s Blog on Top 100 Software Tools for Learning October 23, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Learning, Software, Technology.
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I’m finding some good blog posts today. I’d recommend reading Qiyas II’s entry about the Top 100 software tools for learning and productivity. It’s always interesting to see what tools and services are being created to help us learn in new ways.

Here’s a link to his blog.

I’m planning on testing out some of these tools. Who knows, I may find the topic for a future post myself!

Top 50 computing tips « Family Resource for You October 23, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Software, Technology.
1 comment so far

I was blog surfing and came across a good post by Family Resource for you. It has to do with computer tips for the everday user. They link to a PC Magazine article that covers a lot of topics, including, upgrading hardware, software, passwords, undiscovered web sites, etc.

I’m sure you’ll learn something new by browsing the article.

Top 50 computing tips « Family Resource for You

Quick Tip: Drag n’ drop to change your driving directions on Google Maps October 13, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Freebies, Online Service, Technology.
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I just noticed this feature in Google Maps. You can call up driving directions and then re-do your travel route right on the map.

I’m not sure how new it is, but Google is promoting it as such. Maybe it’s a few days new or a few weeks. Heck, maybe its old news. At any rate, it’s news to me so I thought I’d share it with you.

It’s quite simple…….just drag the blue line on the google map along the new route and drop it. The map will update and the turn by turn directions will too.

I found this feature quite helpful one day when Google’s directions chose to take me on a scenic route instead of taking the freeway.

Click here for a sample screenshot.

Which mapping site do you use most often?

Record and Share Your Screen Activity with Jing October 2, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Business, Freebies, Learning, Online Service, Reviews, Software, Technology, Training, Worth the Money.
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You need to try Jing software by Techsmith. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and am very pleased with its ease of use.

What does it do, you ask?

Here’s a quick definition, courtesy of the JingProject.com web site:

The concept of Jing is the always-ready program that instantly captures and shares images and video from your computer to anywhere.

Why do I like it?

  1. Easy to use.
  2. Great for sharing.
  3. Great for troubleshooting computer problems.
  4. Great for demonstrations and training.
  5. Great for blogs.
  6. Easy to share recordings with others.
  7. Free (for now). Hopefully, inexpensive when out of beta.

# 6 deserves additional explanation. Techsmith has integrated JING with its Screencast.com file hosting service. When you complete a recording, you can click a SHARE button and the recording is immediately uploaded to your account on the screencast.com web site. From there, you can share the recording as a URL.

I believe the Screencast.com web site is fee-based, but Techsmith offers a free account for those using JING in beta. I am not expecting the free Screencast.com account to last forever, but it is impressive to be able to quickly upload my recordings to their site and share them.

What don’t I like?

The one down side for me is the 5 minute time limit on your recording. Users cannot record longer than 5 minutes.

The program does a good job of tracking your time left with a clock during the recording process, so you shouldn’t be surprised when the recording stops. It would still be helpful to have the option to record a bit longer though.

Please keep in mind that this software is simplified screen recording. It also can capture screenshots in better quality than your “Print Screen” button. It is designed for the masses to capture and share these recordings. It doesn’t allow you to edit your recording after the fact. That said, if you don’t like your recording, then your only option is to delete it and re-record.

How to Use Jing

How many times have you written up instructions about a computer process for a family member, a friend or a colleague?  If you’re like me, the answer is a lot.  

With JING, you can now show someone how to do it. 

Best of all, you can record the steps quickly and send the person a link to view them.  It may not be a polished, presentation ready demonstration, but it is intended for an individual not a group.  Jing gets the job done quickly and that’s what counts.

Competing Products

Adobe Captivate 3 and Camtasia Studio 4. In basic terms, both of these products offer screen recording/capture. However, these two programs have much better editing tools and options for formatting and presenting these recordings. They also have a much higher price tag.

Final Thoughts

Try it. You’ll like it (sort of like green eggs and ham). Ideally, I think this type of technology should be included in future operating systems. The ability to quickly record my PC activity and share it with others is a great way to educate and train users on new products and features via email, blog or instant message.  It is also a great way for a person to show tech support exactly what steps they took to get an error.

The 5 minute time limit is a little short. However, realistically, most people have short attention spans and a 5 minute video may be enough to get your point across.

As an example, I used JING in an earlier blog post to demonstrate how to mail merge.

For details, FAQs and to download the software, please visit JING Project.

How a Radio Show Host Made Me Blog Off Topic September 11, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, News.
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flags.jpg

This topic has nothing to do with technology, but given the significance of today’s date and the events of 6 years ago I thought it best to talk about it.

Listening to Ronn Owen’s on KGO NewsTalk 810 this morning, he began his show with an hour’s discussion about 9/11.  In particular, he was concerned that networks were choosing not to show video footage of the terrorist attacks because they were worried it would upset viewers.

Callers to the show provided varying opinions on whether or not this footage should be shown.  One woman was concerned that her son’s school wasn’t discussing the terrorist attacks with the students and another caller said that his son (age 14) couldn’t recall seeing the actual video of airplanes crashing into buildings and killing hundreds of people.

I agree with Ronn.  We need to see the footage on the anniversary of the attack.  It is the Pearl Harbor of our time and we must not forget the shock, the grief or the savagery of these attacks.  There are people in the world who hate Americans with such fervor and vitriol that they killed civilians on our own soil.

9/11 happened. 

Remember the day.  Remember the victims.  Remember the grief.  Remember the courage. Remember the compassion.  Remember so our children and future generations do not forget.

Watch this tribute and remember:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDh_pvv1tUM

Time for some Fun: Create a Simpson’s Character from a Photo August 10, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Creative, Freebies, Fun, Humor, Simpsons, Technology.
2 comments

Mike McGinley - Simpsonized!

It is Friday, so it’s time for a little fun!

What can be more fun that turning photos of yourself, your friends or family members into Simpson-style characters?

I simpsonized myself (see above) so now I know what I’d look like in Homer’s world.

I highly encourage you to try it yourself.  The web site is Simpsonizeme.com.  Yes, it is sponsored by Burger King. No, you don’t have to enjoy fast food to use it. 

It’s just good old-fashioned, high tech fun.  And free, of course.

You can even save or email your creations to friends and family. 

It’s a blast!

How to Blog: Resources to Help a Person or a Business Start a Blog August 3, 2007

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Business, Creative, Learning, PC ABCs, Real Estate, Technology.
4 comments

Blog KeyboardThere are many resources on the web to help a person or a business start a blog
and my goal with this post is to list many of them to educate and inform new bloggers.

First of all, why blog? That’s a personal question, but a blog can be your own voice on the Internet to discuss a topic you are passionate about. Passion is a key ingredient, because you have to enjoy a subject in order to write about it on a regular basis.

I’m assuming that you’ve already decided to blog if you’re reading this. Here’s what you need to do:

GETTING STARTED:

  1. Learn how to blog by seeing how others are doing it. Use Google’s
    Blogsearch
    to locate other people blogging on topics similar to yours. For example, You’ll get lots of ideas on
    different writing styles and templates that exist for blog sites.
  2. Sign up for a free account with a blogging web site. (Yes a blog
    is a web site just like a square is a rectangle.) Here are some popular
    ones: WordPress, Google’s Blogger, Typepad.
  3. Educate yourself on blog vocabulary. How? By visiting the blogossaryor wikipediaof course!

READ THESE BLOGS!

The folks who wrote these blogs have provided all of us with a wealth
of information on blogging. You’d be wise to read every last word.

  1. RSS Pieces Besides the catchy name that makes me hungry, this site is a great place to learn how to blog effectively. It’s target audience is the real estate community, but the advice is good for any blogger.
  2. Lorelle on WordPress. Straight talk on blogging plus a collection of additional links to articles related to blogging.

Blogging for Business

A blog can be a great way for a small business owner to improve the web presence of their local business. People go to Google to search for florists, pizza places, restaurants, doctors, bookstores, etc. When we search, we type in a city or zip code along with keywords like “bookstore”. Wouldn’t it make sense for the local bookstore to be on
the first search results page? A blog can help a business get recognized more prominently on search results pages, but it takes time and effort and won’t happen overnight.

Business Owners Read These Blogs:

1. 20 Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic

2.Blogging for Business Owners

A company called Blogging Systems offers to create a web site for small businesses, non-profit organizations, churches and other groups that may want to establish a blogging site for their community. Again, I’ll recommend a blog post written at RSS Pieces titled “Ultimate Guide to a Real Estate Blog Site” because the advice given can really apply to any blog site. Blogging is still a new and ever-evolving form of communication.

I am by no means an expert, but I wanted to share what I’ve learned (and found) so far to help others get started. If you have another resource or a suggestion, please let me know.


Now that you’ve learned your blogging ABC’s, you can start blogging today!