Category Archives: Tech

zune hd’s tripit and flickr app (-ish)

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It’s no secret that there’s an app shortage for Zune HD. Right now, there are only 15 high quality apps available for Zune HD and more will come. I know, I know I’m making it sound like there’s an awful amount of hope. Anyway, you can add two additional apps(-ish) on your Zune HD. These not really native apps, they’re web apps but they are good enough. Here’s how:

Filckr

Point your web browser to http://m.flickr.com, once logged immediately exit the browser by pressing the home button. On the main screen, your history should show a Flickr icon, press and hold that button until the context menu shows up. Select the ‘Pin to Quickplay’. Viola! You have your own Flickr app right on your main screen.

Tripit

Follow the same steps like the Flickr app except this time point your browser to http://m.tripit.com

The icon (favicon.ico) of the web app makes a lot of difference. With that, its nice to pin it on the main screen. Anyway, web apps can satiate your hunger for apps in Zune HD for the mean time. Here are other web apps that you can use on your Zune HD.

Digg – http://m.digg.com
Facebook – http://lite.facebook.com
Flickr – http://m.flickr.com
Tripit – http://m.tripit.com
Google Reader – http://www.google.com/reader
Gmail – http://mail.google.com/mail
Windows Live Messenger – http://mim.live.com/wlm 
Yahoo Mail – http://m.yahoo.com/
Yahoo Messenger – http://delaware.ebuddy.com

Enjoy!

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Filed under Gadget, Tech, Zune

cloud vs desktop?

 sword_fight_smallSpeaking of cloud computing, I’ve been itching to write an article about it.

Ever since the inception of Web 2.0, it has been prophesized that it will kill desktop computing. Some people believe that browser is the new operating system and the underlying OS is now irrelevant or it will come to a point that it will be irrelevant. This reached fever pitch when Google  announced Chrome OS, a cloud OS that will change the way we interact with computers. Personally, I think it’s foolish. Here are my reasons why.

  1. Cloud purists (yeah, I said it) believe that online and offline computing are mutually exclusive i.e. one is the antithesis of another. I strongly disagree on this matter. I believe that the future of computing, web 3.0 if you will, should be the marriage of online and offline computing. One that harnesses the benefits of both worlds. Think about it, they are doing it now but won’t admit. Both worlds are trying to outflank each other by implementing each other’s core strength. Here’s how:
      

    • Desktop apps are now starting to implement online capabilities. Take MS Office for instance. Office 14 have now collaboration features and the ability to be saved on the cloud.
       
    • Web apps now increasingly mimicking desktop apps. Google has released Gears to enable offline capabilities. Google also released Native Client (NaCl) to allow browsers to run native (sandboxed) code locally. On the UI side, we’ve been pushing AJAX and CSS to copy rich desktop applications.
       
    • Flash and Silverlight are new breed of platforms that harness the power of both worlds. They are blurring the line between desktop and web applications. Silverlight has now the out-of-browser experience that allows application to persist outside the browser.
       
  2. Internet’s reach is now well extended beyond PC and we can’t expect every device to have a browser. Internet experience should not be confined to the browser. Rather, the web experience should be connected to the device’s experience. iPhone is a monumental evidence for this. Yes, browsing in iPhone is cool and fast but you have to admit, it’s still broken (don’t get me started on that). The same reason it is broken on an Android, Blackberry or a WinMo phone. Mobile web browsers just don’t cut it. That’s why developers chose to develop native apps for iPhone despite the fact that Apple initially offered web apps for the iPhone. Today we are increasingly living in a connected environment. Phones, TV, portable media devices, photo frames, etc are now internet capable. Pushing a browser into these devices is just burying our heads in the sand.
     
  3. Personal computers (even devices!) these days are just too powerful to be left untapped. The ubiquity of low cost yet powerful device is just too huge to ignore. Yet web applications barely scratch this computing power while users demand too much from them. Web apps have been pushed too much even on some areas they’re not supposed to. What we have are sometimes missed, sometimes hit user experience *cough* Google Docs *cough*. Native apps can deliver incredible great user experience once done right. Why? They can take advantage of computer resources such as local storage, hardware acceleration and GPU processing.

These are 3 compelling reasons why cloud alone is not the panacea of computing. Rather, together with desktop computing, it can create the seamless experience every user is looking for: an experience that takes advantage of all the resources – networked and local.

The issue of standards

Despite of the points I made there’s one thing that outweighs them all: standards. Yes, native frameworks / OS are proprietary (most of them anyway). In these days of open source, open standards and anti-trust lawsuits, people just go nuts over standards. This is for good reason. I am not in any ridiculing what standards have brought to us. Standards allow fair competition and encourage innovation. However, the same standards are holding us down. Standards are slow to implement and too much politics are involve. This is where I think that standard has to also evolve into something else. They have to evolve from specific implementations to strict guidelines of native frameworks. Let the companies innovate as long as they operate under the rules. This way, again, we are harnessing the best of both worlds. It’s a stretch, I know.

What’s your take on cloud computing? Hit the comment section and let me know.

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Filed under Cloud, Desktop, Tech, Web 2.0, Web 3.0

life in sync

sync_logo_bg One of the most frustrating aspects about computing is being able to access your data anytime, anywhere. Some people will say “That’s easy, store it in the cloud”. As promising as cloud computing may be, in reality it is still not the be all and end all solution. For starters, cloud computing requires internet connection ALL the time. A point MAY come that everyone will be connected to the internet but as of the moment we are not. With that, the cloud falls short in solving the problem. For this limitation, various tools can be used to achieve data ubiquity.

As an IT professional, it is almost mandatory that you have access to your data anywhere, anytime. Imagine doing a presentation and telling your audience that you forgot your presentation material in one of your computers. Or finding that you forgot to attached a report to an email for your boss. Having your important data always available makes your work more predictable and controlled. It certainly a good habit to practice.

Here are the tools that can help you in making your data always available to you:

  • Live Mesh – is a free file synchronization tool. It allows you to sync your files to any device and the cloud. It supports Windows, Mac and Windows Mobile. I believe this one of the best synchronization product out there. It is nicely baked into the OS that you need almost zero attention when and how to sync data. Download Live Mesh.

    Other products that you may use: DropBox, Box.net

  • FeedDemon (w/ Google Reader) – is an RSS reader for Windows (the best one!). You can manage all of your RSS subscription from here plus, with Google Reader, it synchronizes your subscriptions on all of your machines. Download FeedDemon. Sign up for a Google Reader account.

    Other products that you may use: MS Outlook, Web browsers

  • RoboForm (w/ GoodSync) – is password manager plug-in for IE and Firefox. It also stores your credentials on the cloud and can sync it to any machine that you use. I must say after using it for a few days, I can’t imagine how I lived without it. It makes browsing such a pleasure! Download Roboform here.

    Other products that you may use: Keepass

  • Windows Live Mail – is desktop email client. Synchs your email to any machine and the cloud. I use most of Windows Live products since they are a combination of software + services and nicely integrated to Windows. Get Windows Live Essentials here (Windows Live Mail included)

    Other products that you may use: Thunderbird, Zimbra

I hope these can be a good addition to your arsenal as an IT professional. If you have other tools that you use please hit the comment section and let me know.

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Filed under Mesh, Tech, Windows Live

Oh AeroSnap!

If you love Windows 7’s Aero Snap feature and you’re stuck with a Windows XP machine – like me with my office computer, don’t fret. Here’s a nifty little tool that mimics the feature. It’s a very handy productivity tool. Enjoy!

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Filed under Tech

tweaking our home network

For a few months now, I’ve noticed that our home network is just painfully slow either on accessing files over the network or just surfing the net. We have three PC’s on the network, two of them run on Windows 7: a desktop, our media center and a Sony Vaio laptop running on Windows XP. We also have a few gadgets that occasionally piggyback on the network: three mobile phones and PMP (portable media player) with wi-fi and the only thing that connects them together is a 4-port wireless Linksys WRT54GC.

Googling (and Binging) around, I saw a couple of tips on how to improve our hapless router’s performance. Some of them are straightforward, like picking a good location for your router so that it has good coverage on each of the device on the house. Some of them are just trivial, which I will cover here:

  • The first that I did was to change my router’s channel. It turns out that most routers use the same channel by default so if you’re in a wifi congested area, connection gets weaker. To change your router’s channel access the router’s page, if you’re using a Linksys router, point your browser to:

    http:///192.168.1.1/

    You will be prompted with a security dialog box, provide the credentials. The default username is admin, leave the password empty.

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    Go to the wireless section of the page and the value router’s wireless channel. Six, one and eleven are common values so stay away from them. You can download net stumbler to detect the channels that are being used around your area.

 

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  • The next thing that I did is to tweak the settings of each of my PC’s wireless adapter. I’m not going to discuss them here since most of the things that I did was just fiddle with the values of the adapter’s settings. I suggest that you check the documentation of your network adapter first before changing anything.

    To view your wireless network adapter’s settings, right-click on “My Computer” > Manage > Device Manager > On the right pane, expand “Network Adapters” then double click your network adapter.

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  • The last that I did – it may sound Greek but just bare with me – was toimage configure my router to use  OpenDNS instead of the default DNS  from my ISP (SmartBro). OpenDNS is a fast, secure and reliable DNS alternative, in english, it’s just plain better. Anyway, applying DNS can be a little tricky depending on the router’s model. Case in point, Linksys WRT54GC only allows you to specify the DNS using “Static IP” and not “DHCP”. The first thing you need to do is go to the router’s settings page just like on the first tip. Once you’re there, go to the Set-up section of the router’s settings page. If you’re using a Linksys, its the default landing page. On this page, change your “Internet Connection Type” to “Static IP”. After this, you will need to supply the values for the fields. I found the values of these fields by checking the “Status” page of my router setting page.

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    Copy these values on their respective fields.

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    Don’t forget to click the “Save Settings” at the bottom of the page.

After these steps, there’s a noticeable change of speed in copying files over the network and some very subtle change in internet connection. There you go. I hope these tips help. Leave me a comment if you have some questions.

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Filed under Linksys WRT54GC, OpenDNS, SmartBro, Tech

How does your desktop look right now?

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I just love how my desktop look right now. Windows 7 + Night blur + blu twitter client + gadgets, really, really nice. Plus, since it has an overall dark color my carbon footprint is lower. Ok, I just made that up. How does your desktop look right now?

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Filed under Desktop, Tech, Windows 7

my 5 favorite FREE windows programs of all time

I read Ed Bott’sMy 10 favorite Windows programs of all time” and decided to come up with my own list. (Click the image if you want to download the app)

1. FeedDemon

How do I start praising this app? Let me do that by telling you that I’m a tech blog reader junkie. I read at least 20 articles a day. It’s my morning newspaper (or coffee, same effect). FeedDemon is an excellent RSS client that allows me to view and manage my entire RSS subscription. Now nothing’s fancy there, all other RSS readers do that. But one great thing about this is whenever I used other computer, it automatically synchronizes my subscription. So not only my RSS subscription is instantly available in my office computer (or any other), I can also pick up where I left reading. And the best part of all, it has a mobile client for Windows Mobile that’s also in synched with the rest of your subscription!

2. Windows Live

Sure, another Microsoft products that’s late to the party. But please, please, please, try it first before joining the naysayers club. These apps are so useful and amazing that I don’t think I can put up words to prove them to you unless you really try them. They’re top notch on the software + services department. It’s a package of several apps so I just decided to count them as one otherwise my list would be all MS products and that would just make this list silly.

  • Windows Live Photo Gallery – do you remember ACDSee back in the Win98 days? It was very useful and insanely easy to use (until they try to open every files in Windows with it). Well, WLPG is like that, only streamlined and a lot useful. Aside from organizing your media library in every possible way there is, it let’s you tag your photos thus making it searchable via Desktop search. It also, allows you to tag people directly connected on your Windows Live Contacts. And it’s coolest feature would be the facial recognition! It automatically detects the faces on the picture and lets you identify it by People tagging them. Very sweet.
  • Windows Live Mail – Synchronized email wherever you go – PC, mobile, web – ah, now that’s peace of mind. I was really reluctant giving up my Yahoo mail over Windows Live. First and foremost, it was my email for (trip to memory lane, this could be a while, hold on..) 8 years (finally!). People know me though that mail. But when I started using Live Mail, it was just a breeze. The experience of using a client email program tramps web-based, AJAX-ified email. I tried doing this with my Yahoo using a free SMTP proxy with Outlook but it just wasn’t working. No synchronization via mobile or web.. ahh!
  • Windows Live Writer – using it right now, as we speak, err write. If you’re a  blogger, then this client is a must for you. Live writer supports so many blogging sites (WordPress, TypePad, Blogger etc), has a very snappy UI and powerful features like a real document editor. Also, like the Live Photo Gallery, there are so many plug-ins available.

 3. Crimson Editor

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I’ve never really tried other text editor extensively, so most of my considerations here are basically moot point, but this nifty code editor has been with me for so long and it never failed me. Number 1, it’s lightning fast. The way how you should expect any code editors. Pin it on your Quick Launch and you have an all-purpose, easy-access note-taking machine. Two, tons of features. It has all the power of a standard code editor plus more. Editing remote files? No biggie, this baby can edit and save text files via FTP. Multiple edits? It has a multi-tabbed interface that allows you to edit, find, replace and save simultaneously all opened documents. Doing repetitive text-editing tasks? Macro that!

4. Skype

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If you want to do VoIP, there’s no other way to do it other than Skype. The experience and call quality separates it from any other VoIP client. The call is so clear it makes Yahoo Messenger Voice a joke. It also has a mobile client version.

5. Paint.NET
It’s not Photoshop but it gets the job done. I have a good background with Photoshop and I was never comfortable trying other image editor. For me, there was only two image editors, Paint  and Photoshop. Don’t laugh but MS Paint serves handy as my clipboard for images. Just Window Key + R > Type “mspaint” (which is usually in the autocomplete list) > press enter and it’s there, easy and fast. Photoshop, well, is for everything else. I can’t of anything that can’t be done using Photoshop. The problem is this: Photoshop is too slow for quick edits and Paint is just a joke for any edit at all. That’s where Paint.NET fills in. It’s very fast to launch and yet still powerful enough to do edits.

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Filed under Tech, Web 3.0, Windows Live