All posts by Kevin Baggs

Why didn’t I think of that?

Have you ever been to a bar and played the on-screen trivia game against others in the bar? Now you can play these same games at home. Zapit games has come out with Game Wave. It is a game controller that supports up to 6 remote contols. It comes with 25 hours of trivia questions and scores are based on how fast you answer and…of course, answering correctly. Pricing is about $130 and you can order direct from Zapit or get it at TOYS ‘R’ US or Mastermind Games. There are 7 other games available for about $30 each.

Could this beat the iPod?

Samsung has realeased their new YP-Z5 MP3 player. Several reviews have stated “this could be the one” to take a bite out of the iPod market share. The unit comes in 1, 2 or 4-GB versions similar to the Nano. But it has a bigger screen of 1.82 inches. It has 35 hours of battery life which is about 2X the Nano. It supports the Microsoft DRM so that means you have numerous music sites to download from.

Use Skype without a PC

I am a big fan of Skype. Who wouldn’t be, free phone calls anywhere in the world. Check out my Skype-me icon on top right. Netgear has introduced a new phone that is Skype compatible and you don’t need a PC to use it. This is the first time I have seen this. There are a lot of Skype compatible phones, but they all plug into PC’s in order to work. This phone can be use anywhere there is WiFi access; like Starbucks or Second Cup for example. You can receive or make phone calls to anyone on your contact list for free. The phone is coming soon, and you can Pre-order Phone Here

Logitech Wireless, Bluetooth iPod headphones

I recently had a chance to try out the Logitech wireless, bluetooth, iPod headphones. They are the perfect match for the iPod. They have a small tranceiver that plugs into the top of your iPod. (note 5th generation and Video iPods will not work if they have the output plug at the bottom). The reception works up to about 30 feet. On the headphones you can control volume, song track forward or back, play and pause…and all without any wires to get in your way. Our daughter gave them a try and now I may never see them again. She wandered all over the house and kept yelling out…”I can still hear the song!”

Apple Boot Camp

About a month ago PCMag journalist John C. Dvorak said that Apple would replace their OS with Windows. It created quite a commotion in the blogsphere. When reporters asked Apple store employees if Macs would ever run Windows. The usual reply was when pigs can fly and when Hell freezes over.

Well as of a few days ago we have airborne swine and it’s pretty frosty in Hades. Apple released Boot Camp. This software allows Intel based Macs to run Windows XP. Lot’s of speculation about why Apple would do this. The fact that Apples stock went up almost 10% over the proceeding 2 days would indicate that this is a good thing for Apple.

Now John wasn’t completely right as they are not throwing away OS X. But the fact that you can now run Windows on Macs raises some interesting questions. For example, say someone really liked the Mac user interface, but just had to run some Windows application for work. Now they don’t have to use a PC any longer. There is also talk about the soon to be released Intel Conrow dual core chips that will allow true dual processing. Think of it like using the alt-tab to switch between OS X and Windows XP on a Mac. Each having their own dedicated processor. A company called Parallels allows this to happen right now. There is even word that Microsoft is going to revamp their virtual Windows software to take advantage of the new x86 based Intel processors.

It’s going to be a very interesting year for Apple.

What is Web 2.0, Part II

This post will cover the second part of What is Web 2.0. The rich user interface. I believe the first wide user experience to this was the new Google maps. These maps use a programming language called AJAX. Which is a combination of Java Scripts and XML. The key point about AJAX is that you no longer need to reload the whole page, each time something changes. Previously, on MapQuest for example, if you wanted to move the map, you had to reload the whole page, which can take time. With Google maps, you simply grab the map and move it. AJAX is quickly becoming the standard for web development. Where it gets really interesting, is that suddendly, you can have a web page act just like an application on your computer. To see more of this technology here are some of the more popular Web 2.0 sites.

Backpack by 37 signals is a project management and todo list tracker.

If you really want to see the power of AJAX, check out Protopage. You can customize a personal homepage by dragging and dropping right on the screen. Give it a try it is remarkable what you can do.

Microsoft has noticed this trend and are developing their Live platform of Web services. They have a long list of services that have been coming out quickly. By using the Web as the platform, development is very fast.There is also another reason for Microsoft’s focus on the Web as a platform. First, there has been speculation for some time that Google is coming out with an online Office platform. The recent purchase of Writely (an online word processor) by Google added to this speculation. Mary J. Foley also speculates on her blog that going to the Web platform also helps Microsoft on the legal front. As there will no longer be issues with what they bundle together.

The other trend you are seeing with Web 2.0 applications is Mashups. The unique characteristic of AJAX is that it is an open language. Because it uses scripts, anyone can look at the source code of an application. Therefore it is easy to take Google Maps and mashup the map with a listing of apartment rentals and create a web site called Housingmaps.com.

So getting back to the original question. What is Web 2.0. It is open source, coopetition, cooperation, social networking. And to coin a popular description of Web 2.0 it is Folksonomy!

Favorite sites for organization

One of the areas of interest for me is organization. There are so many tools out there that allow you to keep track of things. Some of my favorite sites to find out about these are Lifehacker and 43 folders. Both of these sites have all sorts of suggestions on making life easier. (take anything posted on April 1st with a grain of salt, as it was April Fools day).

I have an ongoing search for the perfect project tracker. At the present time I am using Microsoft’s OneNote. What it lacks in features, it makes up for in simplicity. The key thing about OneNote is that it allows me to easily make a list in outline format. This is how I think. Major bullets divided into smaller actions. The one feature that is lacking would be a way of assigning a bullet to a person and then being able to summarize a person’s list of actions. Maybe they’ll add that to Office 2007.

A newer site that is getting a lot of attention is 30 boxes. This site is a online calendar application. It uses some newer technology called Ajax to give the user a better experience on the Web. This site is on the list of Web 2.0 sites. Check back soon for my posts about Web 2.0.

Which came first, the iPod or the PodCast

Being the Gadget person that I am, I own an iPod. I was late to the party though as I only got one about 4 months ago. I have to tell you, this thing is obsessive. I have the 4th generation 40GB model. When you first get the iPod it is great to carry your complete music library with you. You can never get bored.

Then it starts…first I had to listen to it at work. So I bought the JBL Sound Stage. Of course, who wants to plug and unplug speakers every day. So I bought a JBL unit for home. Let’s not forget the car! So I bought a Sonnet Podfreq. Then I heard about the new Shure ear buds. The sound is amazing.

Somewhere out there is a 12 step program for iPod accessories.

But seriously, the iPod is a cultural and marketing phenomena. Recently I discovered Podcasts. These are basically radio like broadcasts, that you can download and listen to on your iPod. They have everything from Technology to business to how to make bar drinks. Whatever your interest, someone out there has a Podcast on it.