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CPR – Cell Phone Repair Service in the Bay Area September 11, 2008

Posted by Mike in Business, Hardware, Technology, Worth a Look, Worth the Money.
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cpr_san_jose_001004.jpg

Mobile phones are more indispensable than ever. And, more expensive than ever if you’ve got a smart one that can do everything but cook dinner for you.

At any rate, the folks at CPR in San Jose, CA can help you fix that phone when you drop it or damage it. If you don’t live in the San Francisco Bay Area, then you’re still able to get a phone repaired by shipping them the damaged phone.

One of my colleagues took a few phones there and said the prices are reasonable and the service is good. Cell Phone Repair will also provide you with free estimates so that you’ll know how much money it will cost before deciding to fix it.

One of the postcards I’ve received from them states the following:

  1. Authorized repair center for Motorola, Samsung, LG, Kyocera, Sony Ericsson, Nokia and Sanyo.
  2. Most repairs done on the spot.
  3. Repairs include: Liquid damage, cracked LCD, dropped phone, shattered, no sound.
  4. iPod repair also available.

Keep this option in mind if you’d rather pay a little to get a phone fixed instead of paying a lot to get it replaced.


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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.

LogMeIn Baby! February 2, 2008

Posted by Mike in Business, Freebies, Online Service, Reviews, Technology.
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Who do you call for tech support?

To paraphrase the Beatles, we all get by with a little help from our friends.

For most of us, that’s quite true when it comes to computer problems and questions. Most of us don’t like to pay for it unless its absolutely necessary. Parents may get their tech-savvy kids to fix things. Girlfriends may call boyfriends or vice versa. Friends call in favors.

That’s great if your tech superhero lives nearby. What if they’re across town or across the country? Maybe you’re on a trip and want to retrieve some information on your home computer. Or, perhaps you want that tech superhero living in New York to be able to help you in California.

Just logmein, baby.

Logmein.com is a free web based service that allows a person to remotely access a computer over the Internet. Its like flying them across the country and having them sit right next to you to see the same screen at the same time. You no longer have to write down cryptic error messages or struggle to follow over-the-phone instructions from your tech superhero.

The basic premise is much the same as Microsoft Remote Desktop or PC Anywhere software. You can connect to a PC to view screen activity, retrieve a file or help a person. However, in my opinion, LogMeIn is much easier for the basic computer user to setup and use.

For instance, just the other day I was working in an office and had my laptop directly wired to a Comcast cable Internet modem. My colleague used my LogMeIn.com account to connect to my laptop to check the settings on the modem.

In my situation, I setup a free LogMeIn.com account and then shared my username and password with my colleague. The computer that will be accessed using the service needs to have free LogMeIn software downloaded and installed or else remote access isn’t possible.

The free account has limited features, but it works fine if you just need remote access. It’s quick and easy to setup and use. I created my account in less than 5 minutes. There are five different LogMeIn plans, each with different features and pricing. The LogMeIn IT Reach plan has the most whistles and bells.

Of course, there’s one problem your tech superhero can’t resolve using LogMeIn.com: a loss of Internet connectivity.

In the News: Palm Apps to Run on Nokia’s Internet Tablets November 16, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Hardware, News, Software, Technology.
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It looks like thousands of applications designed for the Palm OS platform will get new life on Nokia’s 700, N800 and N810 Internet Tablets.

I found this article today while browsing eweek.com.

 Read Henry Kingman’s article.

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.

Constant Contact: An Email Marketing Campaign Service for Your Business August 28, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Online Service, Technology, Worth the Money.
1 comment so far

Constant Contact logo

Customer relationships are the life blood of any business.  Businesses need to keep in touch with clients (existing or potential) to help develop and sustain these relationships. 

If you’re looking for a way to set up a marketing campaign with your clients via email, I’d suggest that you take a look at ConstantContact.com.   Better yet, you can try them for free for 60 days without providing any credit card information.

Here are some of the benefits that I see in their service:

  1. Free 60 day trial…..try before you buy!
  2. Professional HTML email newsletter templates save you time.
  3. Reporting feature allows you to track who looked at your email and when.
  4. Email Campaign Wizard will help you get started.
  5. Import Data from a Text (txt), CSV or Excel (XLS) file.
  6. Live Product Demos, Online Tutorials, Free Technical Support.

 If you have additional questions, you can look at their FAQ page or their detailed description of email marketing features.
With a 60 day free trial and monthly plans starting at $15it certainly looks like an affordable option for small business owners.

Do Your Part to Reduce E-waste: Resources for Computer and Electronics Recycling August 25, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Hardware, PC ABCs, Technology.
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Recycle for Earth image

Governments and businesses are beginning to offer good options for consumers to wisely dispose of their old computer and electronics equipment.

The goal is to keep these items out of landfills because the components inside of these devices are often harmful or toxic if not disposed of properly.

The state of California seems to have taken the lead in promoting e-Waste recycling. As a result, Californians have a growing number of options available to them when it comes time to part with a computer, TV, VCR, etc.

I’ve compiled a brief list of recycling options to help folks understand the options available to them.

Recycling Programs sponsored by Businesses

ComputerTakeBack.com compiled a list titled, Which computer company will take back your old computer?

Computerworld.com has posted an article titled Sony to offer e-waste Recycling in the USA.

Earth911.org announced that Staple’s first major retailer to accept e-waste

General Recycling Info

eRecycle.org offers Californians the option to find an eWaste Recycling Center in California.

Recycleforbreastcancer.org is a local recycling option for San Francisco Bay Area as is RapidRecycle.net.

GreenPeace offers a Guide to Greener Electronics and reports on which companies are leading the way in improving their manufacturing processes.

EPA.gov offers basic information on recycling or donating computer equipment.

 

 

Pingme and Jott: Two Great Services Mashed Up Together! August 20, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Freebies, Online Service, Organize, Technology.
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In my earlier post about PingMe,  I casually suggested that combining the services of PingMe and Jott would be an excellent enhancement to both; kind of like combining chocolate and peanut butter.  Both products benefit. Mmmm. Peanut butter.

 Lo and behold,  Stephen Lombardo of Zetetic LLC was reading.  He and his software development consultancy created PingMe and they’ve now created a PingMe/Jott mashup that turned my suggestion into reality! The mash up allows someone to create a PingMe reminder by calling it in via Jott’s phone to email service!

 Stephen will give you all the mash-up details on the Zetetic site.  Read all about it!

 Thanks, Stephen!

Do You Need a Reminder? Pingme’s Free Online Service will Keep You on Task August 17, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Freebies, Online Service, Organize, Technology.
5 comments

 pingmelogo.png

Pingme has designed an easy to use reminder service to help us remember what’s important to us. If you’re like me, you have too much to remember in your daily life. To keep track of it all, I resort to post-it notes stuck to computer monitors, messages scribbled on the back of scraps of paper or emails sent to myself with a “to-do” list.

Whether its a grocery list, an anniversary date or a reminder to pick someone up at the airport, Pingme can help.

With a free Pingme account, you can setup the service to send a reminder to your email address or your mobile phone as a text message. These reminders can be recurring (i.e. once a year to remember your anniversary) or a one time reminder to pickup your friends at the airport.

Pingme also has a “pester” option that allows me to send my reminder more frequently, say every hour, 30 minutes or 10 minutes.   I’d get irritated (at myself) quickly if I received a reminder every 10 minutes.  However, to each his/her own and that may be a valuable feature to you.

When I setup my account, I was asked to verify my email address and mobile phone number (via text message). After doing so, I logged in to create a new reminder for myself. You can add multipe emails and phone numbers too. You’ll be able to choose where to send the reminder (email, phone or both).

I think the folks at Jott and the folks at Pingme should join forces to create a stellar service.

Jott’s voice to email technology could be modified by PingMe to quickly create reminders when I’m driving in my car and not in front of my computer.

Take a look at Pingme and keep it in mind the next time you’re staring at your post-it covered computer monitor trying to remember what you forgot.

The Future of Mobile Computing? Palm’s Folēo, a mobile companion for Treo Smartphones. August 14, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Hardware, Technology.
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Foleo and Treo 

The answer is NO.  It’s not the future of mobile computing.  Palm has scrapped plans for the Foleo.  Read all about it on Palm’s official blog. 

As Palm sees it, smartphones like the Treo are the wave of the future. Small devices packed with information and capabilities. However, these über-smart devices have two key limitations: small screens and small keyboards.

The solution? A mobile companion device called Folēo that turns on in an instant and offers users a 10″ screen and a full QWERTY keyboard.

Is it a laptop? No.

It uses Bluetooth to wirelessly sync your emails from your Treo to the Folēo so you can view them and respond to them on a big screen with a full keyboard.

It also allows you to edit MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents as well as display PowerPoint presentations.

I have yet to see the device in person and I do not believe they are for sale yet. However, Palm claims the device turns on in an instant (no need to boot up like Windows). It also has 5 hours of battery life.

You can read all about it on Palm’s web site.

After viewing an online demonstration and reading some of the fine print, here is what I’ve learned about Folēo:

PROS

  • Big Screen
  • Big Keyboard
  • Long Battery Life
  • WiFi capability
  • Attachment support includes viewing and editing Microsoft® Word, Excel® and PowerPoint® files with DataViz® Documents To Go®. You can also view PDF documents as well as JPG, GIF, and PNG images.

CONS

  • Attachment support only includes viewing and editing Microsoft® Word, Excel® and PowerPoint® files with DataViz® Documents To Go®. You can also view PDF documents as well as JPG, GIF, and PNG images.
  • Requires compatible phone with Bluetooth® wireless technology.
  • Email requires data services on the phone from a mobile service provider at an additional cost.
  • Does not support local or streaming video.

UNKNOWN (to me, at least)

  • Any USB ports?
  • Any video adapters for connecting to a projector?
  • How much does it weigh?

Even with these cons and unknowns, I’m still intrigued by the concept. For web browsing, email answering, photo viewing and PowerPointing, I think the device will be satisfactory for business, educational or recreational purposes.  I can see it being used at airports, cafes, classrooms, small meetings and presentations.

The introductory price is $499 after a $100 mail in rebate. Of course, you have to own a compatible phone too.

Has Palm created the next great device? Time will tell.

It won’t be as innovative as the iPhone, but it definitely has the potential to improve the mobile computing experience.

The folks at engadget have used one.  Click here to see what they think.

For a detailed description of its capabilities, read this article from PalmInfoCenter.

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!

VFlyer.com: Create and Distribute Flyers Online for Free August 1, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Free Kittens, Freebies, Online Service, Technology, Worth the Money.
2 comments

A colleague of mine at work sent around an email the other day.  She found 6 adorable kittens under her house and wanted to find homes for them.  Her husband is very allergic, so keeping any of them wasn’t an option. Her last resort is to turn them into an animal shelter, but she doesn’t want to do so for fear they’ll be euthanized.

I offered to help her by creating an online flyer using vflyer.com.  Their service is great and the flyers are easy to use.  You begin by selecting the purpose of your flyer.  In other words, are you selling your house or your car? Advertising a job opening? Offering your computer services for hire? Classes? Tryouts for a sports team?

They didn’t quite have a flyer for “Free Cats”, but I just took their template for Pet for Sale and set the price to $0.00.  That seemed to do the trick.

 With the flyer created, you can choose to:

  1. Print the flyer
  2. Email the flyer
  3. Publish the flyer to the online marketplace of edgeio, Oodle, Vast, Trulia, Google Base, Craigslist, etc.
  4. Send the flyer to mobile devices, like phones.
  5. Embed the flyer into a widget and post it to a blog.

 Vflyer offers various pricing plans as well as a free account. Not all of the features are available to free account users. 

All in all, it is a very user-friendly and effective service. I’d suggest you give it a try the next time you’re trying to sell your car, your computer or searching for homes for a few cuddly kittens.

Blinksale – Easy Online Invoicing for any Business July 17, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Freebies, Online Service, Technology, Worth the Money.
2 comments

Do you need a professional looking invoice for your business? Look no further than Blinksale.  I logged into the site today and took advantage of their free account to create a Sample Invoice.  It took me about 15 minutes. 

If you only need to issue the occassional invoice,  the free account allows you to create and send up to 3 invoices per month.  If you’re doing more business than that, you should consider upgrading to a pay account. The prices are reasonable, ranging from $12 per month to send up to 50 invoices to $49 a month to send up to 1500 invoices.  Click here to read more about pricing. 

A nice feature is the ability to view open, closed and past due invoices via your Blinksale account.  You can email or print invoices.  With a pay account, you can also generate the invoice as a PDF.

All in all, it seems like a good service for the small business person who is looking for an inexpensive yet professional invoicing service.

Checkout the Blinksale blog for more information too.

Moo.com – Creative Cards for Business or Fun July 3, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Creative, Fun, Online Service, Technology, Worth the Money.
1 comment so far

Moo MiniCards

Looking for a way to jazz up your business cards? Want to make a memorable “save the date” card for your wedding? Look no further than moo.com.

Their web service allows you to make cards by uploading your own photos or choosing from a large selection of stock photos like nature scenes, puppy dogs, flowers, buildings, city scenes, etc. The cards are quite unique, especially if you’re using your own photos.

The MiniCard size is distinctive too….it’s only half the size of a standard business card. I’d equate it to the size of a stick of gum. Sadly, I don’t have a stick of gum to conduct an official measurement, but it’s in the ballpark. The site lists the miniCard size as 20mm x 70mm. Living in the last non-metric measuring country on our blue marble of a planet, those numbers don’t mean much to me.

One side of the card is the photo……..the other side is your contact info or message. You can order a pack of 100 cards (cost $19.99 + shipping) and select multiple photos for your cards. That’s what I did when I bought some. Variety is more fun anyway, right?

If the MiniCard is too Mini for you, then you may want to look at their NoteCard size instead.

Some people are getting very creative with the cards. Click here for a fun example listed on Moo’s site.

If you’re starting a business and want to be remembered, planning an event or just want to get a bit creative, try Moo.com. I think they’d be great for musicians, actors and artists too. Oh, and read their blog for more Moo.