Archive for September, 2004

Cool Tool Friday: The Danger (T-Mobile) Sidekick 2

I usually stay away from hardware on Cool Tool Fridays, but this week, I can’t resist. After having my Sony Ericsson T616 quit on me about two weeks ago, I’ve been madly searching for a new phone/PIM device. The timing was all wrong because the new Treo 650s are due out sometime next month (as is the Sony Ericsson P910), both of which I had my eye on. I’ve never owned a “smart phone” before (combination PDA and mobile phone), so I thought it was time I gave it a try.

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Central 1.5 Launch: Get the Cliff Notes

If you’re curious about the Central 1.5 launch, but don’t have time to read through all the material on the website, you might want to check out the recorded Breeze Live presentation I did a couple of weeks ago. It’s a pretty good summary of the launch, and includes a discussion of the most salient new features, the future direction of Central, and a Q&A session at the end. No reading required, so watch it while you eat, or during your next incredible boring 60 minute meeting.

http://macromedia.breezecentral.com/p29545718/

Cool Tool Friday: Macromedia Central 1.5

I usually don’t use Macromedia products as topics for Cool Tool Friday, but I’m going to make an exception this week. Macromedia Central 1.5 (code-named Gemini) is now live. Gemini is still a developer release, which means it is still meant for developers and early adopters rather than widespread end-user adoption, but it has a lot of very cool new features for developers to play with, like:

  • File I/O support
  • File upload and download support
  • Automatic network detection
  • Flash MX 2004 extensions to better integrate Flash authoring with Central during development
  • Support for Flash Player 7, ActionScript 2.0, and the new component architecture
  • Support for instant messaging and presence detection using the AOL AIM and ICQ networks

We’ve also significantly restructured the Central licensing models in ways we’re pretty sure developers will be very happy with (see link below).

To learn more about Gemini and what it means to you, take a look at the article “What is Gemini, and Why Should You Care?” That will give you a good foundation for understanding Central, and where the technology is headed. Here are some other resources you might find useful:

There are tons of resource available on the website, but if you have a question you can’t find an answer to, feel free to ask me.

Flash Player for Solaris Goes Live

Now Solaris users can enjoy all the benefits of Flash Player 7 on both Sparc and Intel machines. Solaris users, download the new Flash Player 7 now!

Breeze Live by the Month or the Minute

Peter Ryce talks about the new Breeze Live monthly and pay-per-use plans through a recorded Breeze Live presentation. Even if you aren’t interested in new ways to use Breeze Live, it’s worth checking out the presentation just to see the live, real-time polls he conducts. Very cool stuff.

The First of Many New Search Options

In the old days of search, there was HotBot, Yahoo!, AltaVista, Excite, MSN, etc. Then there was just Google. For a very long time. The word “Google” became synonymous with “search”. People started Googling rather than searching. Then Google started making too much money and attracting too much attention. Now everyone is working feverishly either building new search technology, or digital music systems (in fact, some companies are doing both). Amazon has officially released their first attempt to compete in the search space with A9. It’s sort of like Google, but with personalization. You can sign in with your Amazon credentials, and save searches, notes, bookmarks, etc. And it will automatically keep a history of everything you search for. It also automatically returns images along with text results, which is pretty nice (images courtesy of Google, ironically enough). Oh, and it’s slower than Google, but it’s still plenty fast.

I’ll give it a try. I love changing my habits, and experimenting with new technology. I’m not sure how much I’m going to like the personalization angle, though. Not only am I undecided about how useful it will end up being, but I kind of like the idea of quick, stateless and anonymous web applications. I already have 136 different accounts with various websites (not including anything associated with Macromedia), and it gets old always being asked for a username and a password. Yes, Amazon remembers your login information, but only for that session. And I’m also wondering if my search history is going to end up being used to suggest products to me on Amazon. Not necessarily a bad thing, I guess, but also not something I’m 100% comfortable with.

So what search technology do you use? Likes and dislikes?

Firefox 1.0 Preview Release Now Available

I’m a big Firefox fan, but recently, I was forced to downgrade from .9x to .8 because of certain bugs that had been introduced (OS X version). Even though it was frustrating to have to roll back, Firefox is still my favorite browser, so I’m really hoping for a better experience with the 1.0 preview release. It’s still a “technology release,” which means “While this software works well enough to be relied upon as your primary browser in most cases, we [the Firefox team] make no guarantees of its performance or stability,” but it has enough interesting new features (Live Bookmarks, improved find, Password Manager encryption), that I’m very curious, and anxious to give it a try. All we need now is for Firefox to come with Flash!

You can check out the new 1.0 preview release at the Firefox page on mozilla.org.

Cool Tool Monday: GPS Navigation Systems

I missed Cool Tool Friday last week because I was on vacation, so I thought I’d sneak in a Cool Tool entry on a Monday. This week I’m excited about GPS navigation systems, and in particular, the Garmin iQue 3200. I’ve had the iQue for some time now — probably about four months — but taking it on vacation reinforces how cool it really is. I drove 4 hours to the beach, drove around a new area for a week, drove home, and drove some relatives to a distant airport I’ve never driven to before, and didn’t get lost once (except when I wasn’t using the GPS). But not getting lost is sort of a given with a GPS, I think, and isn’t really the biggest advantage since even if you had directions scrawled on the back of a cocktail napkin, you probably wouldn’t get lost. The real advantages are:

  1. Never having to get directions. Just hop in your car and go, whether you know where you’re going or not.
  2. Automatic rerouting. If you miss a turn, the device will reroute in a matter of seconds, and fix your mistakes for you.
  3. Location-based services. Don’t know about other GPS devices, but the iQue has a very comprehensive database of locations which you search for by all kinds of criteria, which means you don’t even need to know where you want to go so much as what you want to do.
  4. Always having a map. Even if you aren’t using your GPS device’s ability to route, it’s nice looking at a map of where you’re going. You can see landmarks around you on the map that you can’t see through your windows, and quickly evaluate shortcuts to avoid traffic problems.

The iQue is a handheld GPS rather than one that actually installs or is integrated into your dashboard. Since I drive a Jeep with a soft top, everything that might be overly tempting has to be removable and small enough that it can be locked in a console or glove box, so the iQue is perfect for me. In-dash units have a lot of advantages (always available, larger screen, integrated antenna), but the iQue actually has several advantages over many in-dash units (fast processor, expandable memory, handwriting recognition, PDA functionality, portable). As always, in a perfect world, I would have one of each, but as it stands, I’m pretty happy with the iQue.

Any other satisfied GPS users out there?

Cool Tool Friday: Stock Tickers

It occurred to me one day how useless it is to get stock quotes via SMS on my cell phone once a day from Yahoo! since one particular snapshot wasn’t telling me much. I could follow broad trends, but when it comes to making serious decisions, snapshots of delayed stock quotes are pretty useless.

I decided to install a stock ticker this morning to keep myself a little more current. (Ironically, it’s a bad day to be watching the market!) I settled on wStock for OS X which is a free utility that scrolls symbols and fluctuations across your menu bar. It’s free (which was my #1 requirement), and although the quotes are delayed (as all free quotes are, I think), I’m much better able to keep track of trends throughout the day.

I usually have to try several different applications before finding the best one out there, so I thought I get some feedback from you guys. Can anyone recommend a good stock ticker for OS X? What about Windows, for when I’m over on that side of the fence?