Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Gustav and Weather Technology - Update 5

Regular readers of this blog know that I'm somewhat of a weather geek (understatement :).

It goes back many years to when I placed one of the first independent weather stations on the Internet and joined with several rapidly growing weather communities on the Net.

Numerous friendships were made over the years, and I continue to learn almost as much about weather, as I do about computers, the Internet and yes, the ever-changing world of SEO (and Google), every day. 

While the science of local weather forecasting in the US has improved dramatically over the past few years, hurricanes are another story.  They can be spotted forming earlier. There are more computer models and better resources. But, in the end, they seem to always surprise us one way or another.

For those that are interested, I still maintain a collection of good weather, hurricane, and earthquakes websites here.  Many of the websites and blogs have been around for many years. Most have improved dramatically.  For all intents and purposes, it's now a live bookmark page for myself that I visit about once a month to update.

There are a lot of excellent hurricane meteorologists on the web and in syndication on TV.  My personal favorite is Joe Bastardi at  Jeff Masters also usually has a pretty good take on things at Wunderground.

During this event, I've been making a few posts to Friendfeed including this thread.  A large weather community is building there as well (with now three rooms devoted to weather).  The interaction is excellent between those watching and some who have just seen the storms pass over.

The FACT is that many weather vehicles (like local forecasts) are now incredibly accurate.  Hurricane forecasting is based on models and history (and experience).  Even the best forecast tracks still can't be exacting as these finicky systems can stall over warm water, or race to land, at any time.  As time goes on, no doubt, the models and computer comparisons will improve.

In the meantime, if you're in the path of one of these systems, watch their progress often.

Hope this helps a few as what appears to be the most significant hurricane in a while, Gustav, continues to gain momentum.

Update 9 PM Aug 30:  Earlier this evening, numerous announcements were made regarding mandatory evacuations in New Orleans as well as the current dramatic increase in the size and intensity of  Hurricane Gustav as it crosses Cuba.  Florida is feeling the outermost feeder bands at this hour.  New links and more are being posted to my FriendFeed (by others) and others to the Hurricane Room including numerous live feeds from throughout the area.  Excellent overall coverage.  I have added some additional resources to as well.

Update 11:29 PM ET - Another excellent link to four local Louisiana TV stations (Thanks Bwana)
(One of the best links during this event)

Update 5 AM ET - DirecTV has launched a Hurricane Gustav Information channel (363) with evacuation and other information. 

Another good list has been published here .

It's 11 PM on Saturday night and you certainly don't need me to tell you about the extraordinary evacuation of the Gulf Coast throughout the day today.

To the hundreds of people that chimed in to help in anyway they could on Twitter, Friendfeed, and the many other microblogging services and aggregators (prior to full time coverage by the mainstream media) .... If you helped one person get out of harms way, you did a GREAT thing.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Microsoft acquiring Greenfield Online

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), in a press release a short time ago, confirmed that the company is acquiring Greenfield Online (NASDAQ: SRVY) , the European shopping and consumer product price comparison company.

In a departure from past acquisition announcements, the statement was issued to several press release newswires, as opposed to Microsoft's own portal for journalists.

This past week. Microsoft raised the bar with an extensive buzz on it's Search Cashback program, with numerous new partners, as well as some new deeply discounted stores.

Greenfield Online's flagship website is, a popular shopping portal used throughout the EU and beyond.

Microsoft is paying $486 million (US) in cash to acquire Greenfield.  The deal remains subject to regulatory and stockholder approvals.

The complete text from PR Newswire can still be found at Yahoo Finance here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 is here

OK beta lovers.  Microsoft just unleashed Beta 2 of Internet Explorer 8.

As I've written recently, I've spent a lot of time with IE8 Beta 1 but didn't feel comfortable recommending it to anyone because of serious stability and other issues (some of which were solved over time).

This is just a heads up for you guys (and gals) with beta boxes that can't wait to get your hands on the 'next big thing'.

Well first, consider it's still a beta and not a release candidate.

As for me?  I'm takin' it for a little test drive tonight and will do a more in-depth feature tonight or tomorrow.

Compatibility? Speed? Features?

Stay tuned :)

The download for the new Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 can be found here.

Update: There are already at least 20 good to excellent articles on the new beta from Microsoft.  The links are at TechMeMe here. There's a lot to work through (not the least of which is privacy and under the hood in particular) so look for our review in a few days

Update 2: Lacking read time?  Microsoft has now posted a good 'quick Fact Sheet here

Update 3 ComputerWorld and others are reporting 'lock-in' issue with the beta under XP3.  Their piece is here.

Microsoft Toll-free Vista help and new patches issued

Microsoft has been sending out e-mails the past few days pointing to this page which provides an easy to read guide for those still pondering the Vista switch and also has a Toll-Free number with free Vista Q & A support for small business customers.

I phoned the number this morning and apparently this is a yet another strong initiative to move users to Vista.  The hold time was less than 30 seconds.

In other Vista news, more than a few Vista hot patches were posted to the Microsoft Download Center this week  (along with XP as well).  Some did not show up in the automatic Tuesday update as they were machine specific (especially for you 64-bit users!).  At least one was very helpful in my own use.

Note: Some are dated Monday, August 25 so be sure and scroll back.

You can check out the latest posts to the download center here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reaction to the Friendfeed makeover - Day Two

When I first started using Friendfeed, it was primarily for interaction among a small group of early adopters.

As the service grew, it became apparent that people were much more likely to comment on a blog post there, than right on your blog.  That 'magic' was echoed by almost everyone.  I think it came as a surprise.  For me, it was great.  I think it's a safe bet to say that most bloggers enjoy (and want) feedback. 

Friendfeed has experienced exponential growth since it's launch.  It has already crossed over to many mainstream web users (as evidenced by the titles of some of the Friendfeed user-created rooms).  IE:  It's not just for techies anymore.  The difference now is, that if you want a techie-only stream, you've got it in the new beta.

A few weeks ago, I began having some concerns that newcomers to the platform might be turned off.

Despite a variety of tools to 'keep things clean' in your own stream, all kinds of posts were appearing, and depending on how you originally set it up, you might  end up with a collection of photos, videos and feeds that didn't interest you at all.

My other concern was personal.  Was Friendfeed maxing out?  I like to discover new authors and developers, engage them, and sometimes even highlight them.  Many are absolutely brilliant but have yet to be discovered.  They have something to say, and many times, it's important.

My main stream was getting very crowded as I follow over 900 Friendfeeders. I stopped adding new people for literal fear that they would follow back.  The simplicity of Friendfeed was slowly going away.

I didn't want to start to unsubscribe.  I wanted to add more.

I honestly have no clue how people like Robert Scoble, Louis Gray and others were instantly finding and commenting on items that appealed to them (other than using the relatively new Friendfeed Search).

Last night's beta launch solved all those problems (for me) and more.

I can now create separate streams.  In my case, that might be people who I trust 'broadcasting news and opinion' from their own blogs, people who I just enjoy interacting with, people who are deep thinkers, a few Friendfeeders that are just outright funny, and yes, what people still refer to as the 'A-list'.  There's probably one or two categories I haven't thought of yet :)

I won't have to scroll through 6 pages to find 'cool stuff' anymore.  I suppose if I wanted to, even though I've only had to do it twice, I could now relegate the few 'crazy invaders' to their own category rather than blocking them.

In my wandering around after the launch last night, I found only two real concerns.

Tamar Weinberg, who I've been following in the SEO channels well before Friendfeed was concerned that she was getting 'too noisy' as people would 'unsubscribe'.  Tamar not only writes for numerous online publications but is also very active in the SEO and social network spaces.  She's a 'real person'.  (I like real people :)

I don't share everything on Friendfeed.  It's up to you which services you import and how often you post. I hope people like Tamar discover the controls or change their input to suit their desires.

The other concern expressed by Shey Smith and Mona N was that the 'new black' was making them dizzy.  I suppose that depends on your browser and monitor but watching the Friendfeed team address issues last night, almost in real time in the Friendfeed Beta room, I seriously doubt it will be a problem for long.

While some are strictly using Friendfeed for visibility (which is fine), they're really missing a lot.  The increased (highly visible) comments to their own streams.  The truly helpful group of users that have been addressing simple questions about all kinds of topics by users.  It's a community that works.

This post is already longer than I like, so let's consider just one more fact.  Friendfeed is the epidemy of Net Neutrality.  There is no censorship.  The controls are yours.

If you feel there's still a learning curve, I, for one, urge you to go through it.

The Friendfeeders, at least the ones I've gotten to know, will help you ... every step of the way.

Edited 2:50 PM to correct items mentioned in Disqus comment 

Monday, August 25, 2008

Friendfeed - New look in Beta open to all

A short time ago, Friendfeed co-founder Paul Buchheit confirmed what had been rumored on a few tech blogs over the past week (including VentureBeat and TechCrunch) .... advising the Friendfeed community (below - click to enlarge) that the beta is now active for current and new Friendfeed users.

 In an entry to the Friendfeed blog, Bret Taylor explained some of the new features and invited feedback in the new Friend Beta Room.  Friendfeed, for the most part, has been very responsive to feature requests by users.

As I write this, comments are already pouring in, not only under Paul and Bret's posts, but in the new Friendfeed Beta room as well.

Many had been seeking an improved interface for a while.  I commented on it the other night with a "Friendfeed needs a new dashboard", as I follow in excess of 900 Friendfeeders, my stream had become a little 'difficult to manage' :)  Others had started limiting their followers (and follow backs), or tried experiments with a second account.

In my case, I blocked Twitter on Friendfeed and made other changes which were noted here in a piece last week.

The changes in the beta are explained in Bret's blog post here.

Update:  I expect to do a follow-up post tomorrow.  Wandering through the Beta so far, there's a lot more there than appears in the 'official announcement'.

You can check out the Friendfeed beta now at, and log-in with your regular user name and password.

Google Launches Politics Portal for Cell Phones

Google has announced a new portal to help you keep track of events leading up to the US elections on your cellphone.

In a piece Saturday on the Official Google Mobile Blog, Google launched, a mobile portal to a variety of Google's services, including Mobile Search, Mobile News, Mobile Reader, Mobile YouTube, and Mobile Maps.

Included in the offerings is the new Google Power Readers in Politics, mentioned here last week.

The complete article with links to the various services can be found here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Screamer Radio - Free Software that just works

While I was continuing my quest to decide whether or not I want to start doing a new podcast or not, I surfed around iTunes a bit this morning. 

I downloaded some podcasts to see if I would actually listen to them myself, on a regular basis.

My attention turned briefly to re-visit some of the various music and radio clients as well as a few on-line music websites.  I wandered around a bit on,, revisted AOL Radio, and toyed around with the latest Microsoft Media Player.

They all have one thing in common ..they're a lot more than I need (or honestly have time for).

I started looking through some of the freeware I had used in the past and noticed that Screamer Radio, the freeware, adware free, spyware free, VERY lightweight PC radio player (and recorder) from David Zidar had been upgraded just last week to version 0.4.1.

This PC radio player has been around for a while, and just keeps getting better.  The amount of available channels is LARGE and extremely easy to navigate.  The sound is excellent and a variety of current formats are supported.

You can choose by genre, language, network, or country with just a couple of mouse clicks ... and your background music is hummin' away with almost no (or very little) system resources in use at all.

Discovery of stations is not only fast (and preloaded), but there are a few hidden gems in the directory from around the world (and even the latest regional US NOAA weather radio broadcasts that are currently available online).  Like any player, there were a few 'missing feeds', but a search by genre yielded numerous choices that streamed just fine.

There are versions of Screamer Radio for older x86 machines running Windows (WINE compatible), as well for Windows 2000, XP and Vista. 

There's a php forum and a developer blog (Check out the August 20 post .... talk about reverse compatibility!)

Screamer Radio is donateware so drop David a few bucks if you like it.

You can download one of four versions here.

...and drop a note here or on Friendfeed with YOUR opinion.  I'm just curious.

My guess if very few of you will uninstall it.

Mozilla intros QAC - Tool for news, bugs, more

Mozilla's new QAC tool keeps developers, contributors, and others up-to-date and provides bug reporting.

The website, at times, can be difficult to navigate.  While many portions of the website (that are promoting Firefox 3.0 as well as extensions) have been nicely re-written, others remain in the 'old format' with many pages remaining that are still somewhat out of date.

A beta solution has been introduced by Mozilla.   Mozilla QAC Beta or Quality Assurance Companion is a downloadable tool for those who wish to be part of the ongoing development community.

QAC is a Firefox extension, that provides a front end to news and forums, a Litmus tag (with help for setting up an account for those who don't yet have access to Litmus), a direct tab to Bugzilla, a tab to access 'the wacky world' of Chatzilla, and a Settings/Help tab that, as the moz team puts it is "for the confused or misconfigured" :)

The QAC info and download page can be found here .

Browser Wars Continued - IE8, Firefox, Safari, more

I spent some time the past few days on the 'beta box' (which yes, is now running Vista SP1) comparing the very early next generation versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 and Mozilla's Firefox 3.1.

Note: I would not recommend the use of either of these browsers on your 'regular' computer, in a network, or any mission-critical situation.  They are developer releases for those interested in testing, writing code, or seeing how their website 'may' render in the next round of web clients.

While Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 is expected in a week or so, if not sooner, it appears the latest build of Internet Explorer Beta 1 is slightly more stable than it had been. (One of Microsoft's significant challenges still remains a large group of users that still haven't migrated from Internet Explorer 6 to Internet Explorer 7).  This rapidly changing landscape could pose headaches for website and blog designers as new technologies come into play.

Mozilla has been quietly busy ramping-up the next version of Firefox (currently at 3.1alpha2pre). Numerous code changes and improvements are already undergoing testing and recommendation, and a code freeze for the first beta expected in about 2 weeks.

While Mozilla has always been open to community development, Microsoft recently put out a public call for beta testers for IE 8 Beta 2. The 'community' is also part of Microsoft's recommendations for the CSS 2.1 standard to the W3C as well as the WAI-ARIA Rich Internet Applications Suite.

As Firefox as well as Safari (with the unprecedented amount of iPhones now in use) begin to cut into the long dominant Internet Explorer space, it will be interesting to watch the next chapter unfold.  We can only hope, for the developers sake, that the standards remain 'close' if not a true standard for other platforms to build on.

The biggest surprise in this latest round of current and future browser testing was loading up Apple's Safari for Windows 3.1.2 under Vista SP1.  It is rocket fast and now rock stable (and you no longer are forced to download iTunes, Bonjour or Quicktime if you prefer not to).

The latest versions of Flock, Opera and Camino weren't tested in this round but will be over the next few weeks.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Russia next to see iPhone mania

Reuters is reporting that Apple has stuck a deal with two cell carriers to begin authorized sales of the iPhone in Russia, as early as October.

Estimates are that up to 3.5 million iPhones could be sold in the country in the first two years.

Up until now, there have been no authorized dealers for the iPhone in Russia, although over half a million units have apparently entered the country.

With the 3G spectrum already being the 'existing cellular standard' in much of the world, there's little doubt that Apple will be targeting numerous other countries in the coming weeks and months.
The complete story can be found here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rejaw adds new features

A short time ago, Rejaw added a few new features.

The one I noticed immediately was 'Help' (and a help form) down at the bottom.  I think a lot of the micro-blogging and lifestreaming services should be looking at that right now.  There are new users every day and MANY have questions. Some simply get turned off on arrival.

In addition to the Help module, Rejaw has added user blocking (a necessity these days), a timeline feed, API additions, muting, and a host of improvements that will be of interest to developers.

The latest updates can be found here.

I refuse to add a third monitor. Period.

Just when I thought I had things under control, a whole bunch of you decide to join Friendfeed, and then two people get me on with Rejaw (I like the UI!).

I had already joined and didn't even remember. Are things getting out of control here?

I'm not a great multi-tasker to begin with.

I do know the value of social media and actually enjoy it ... (most of the time :).

The time had come for a new 'personal formula'.

Not a time management thing.  Too much value in too many places, along with too many followers on Friendfeed.

So, I hope some of this helps some of you, keeping in mind it'll probably all change next month.

Firefox in tabs - Friendfeed (with Duncan Riley's little greasemonkey tabs at the top), Gmail and GReader and Rejaw.

Hide the Twits in Friendfeed (no offense) and use Twhirl.Whammo!  Not only is my (readable) stream back on Friendfeed but now I can 'dent' too!

How cool is this?

I'm aware that I'm leaving more than a few out here.  I do the Digg and Stumble thing (and most of 'the others' once or twice a day) and continue to watch the evolution of SocialMedian which I think has ongoing potential.

I value my Facebook account apparently more than most and visit it (and use it) often.  I still can't get used to the new version, so I went back to the old one.

To many of you, this is nothing new.  I keep thinking about the 'noise' then I keep getting more followers and I DO have a tendency to follow back.

That principle has not let me down because some of the most interesting people are the 'new discoveries'.

Finally, I turn the computers (phones, etc) OFF a minimum of once or twice a day and one full day a week.

That way, I don't lose track of what's going on in the 'real world'.

I still like a good movie.

PS: Never engage in a live podcast at 11 PM with a laptop from bed.  That's just nuts.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Technology at the Democratic National Convention - Countdown to Denver

The Democratic National Convention is just a few days away, August 25-28th in Denver and will be followed closely thereafter by the Republican National Convention Sept 1-4th in Minneapolis.

Although the official technology providers were announced some time ago, both Microsoft and Google have been making a few 'mini-announcements' leading up to the first of the two US presidential nominating events.

Google has put a literal barrage of features online including a list of Classroom aides for teachers as well as the newer Power Readers in Politics page, which features an all-star line up of political journalists sharing their insights on Google Reader.  Google also used Google Sites to announce they will be an integral part of the Big Tent blogger and press area.  The Big Tent website is also now showing a Twitter stream from @bigtentdenver ... which is just starting to get active.

Microsoft is the Official Software and HD Web Content Provider for DNCC08.  Microsoft's Silverlight technology will be used for video extensively on the DNCC website. A variety of other Microsoft software products will be in use behind the scenes.

How many bloggers?  The accredited list is here.  Times are definitely changing!

There are many other high-tech companies sponsoring and /or attending the Democratic National Committee Convention, as well as the Big Tent coverage. The current list of Official providers and sponsors can be found here and here.

Many delegates are also launching their own personal blogs.  Most seem pretty excited.

Some of you may may find it interesting to know which Content Management System is being used to create the DNCC08 Website?  SilverStripe, the open source CMS that was featured as part of Google's Summer of Code last year.

How all of this will effect TV and news coverage now and in the future remains to be seen.

One thing is certain.  If you've got broadband, one way or another, you've already got a front row seat.

Our in-depth guide to RNC coverage with numerous links will appear here shortly.

I just thought you might want to wander around some of the links above to get a little sneak peek  .... before the action starts.


Apple Private Labels iPhones !

Imagine an iPhone with your company logo on it.  A gift for that very important client.

I seriously doubt the ad specialty market has ever seen anything like this.

Calendars sure.  Schwag on everything from rulers to T-shirts and more.

Now, Apple has a program to put your company logo on an iPhone 3G.  Not just your company logo, but pre-loaded custom software (IE: Promotional videos, etc.) and more.

I'm not sure if we'll have SEO and Tech Daily iPhones (at least this year :), but you may want to check out the Apple Corporate Gifting and Rewards program here.

The Apple marketing genius continues.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Google is Changing - and so are 'we'.

For the last 6 weeks or so, there's been ongoing discussion in SEO circles (and by website owners) over a significant change Google's organic search results.  Big changes, unexpected changes....and, ongoing changes.

Websites that have held 'position one' for two or three YEARS are now on page two, while a few have seen the 'dreaded' -30 penalty (or -60 or even -90) applied.  (Ouch!)

Some search marketing consultants were caught off-guard and immediately engaged in discussions on various  SEO forums and websites..  What do I tell client 'A'?.  What's going on here??.

The writing has been on the wall for some time.  Some just didn't read it.

I like to compare SEO's to doctors.  If they think they know it all and don't continue to read on an ongoing basis, they get behind. There are new technological changes every day.

It's like bloggers with HUGE ego's.  The ego is a turn-off to most readers and it's a sign that whatever they're doing, they could very well be way behind the curve.  (Hint: Look for modesty).

The web is changing, and Google's all over it.

While you may see some funky returns in Google's blog search (a difficult prospect at best), the main Google  index is getting smarter and more fair.

Over the last month, in addition to several posts to Matt Cutts' personal blog and The Official Google Webmaster Central blog, Google has been posting numerous articles to the Official Google Blog explaining how Google currently indexes the Internet.  TONS of free stuff that's real.

While it isn't the entire ballgame, Google is being more transparent than ever.

The bottom line is 'relevant results' are what gets them the ever-growing search market share.   It's that simple.

Hyper-indexing, written about here numerous times, continues.  Significant changes in PageRank (just one piece of the pie - don't get carried away with this!), social media, and other factors are now being used by Google.  The web is getting bigger exponentially each day.

Is it relevant for the same site to hold the organic (free) position no. 1 for 3 years?

In some cases, absolutely.  In other cases, those websites have long since been replaced by a more informative, current, and relevant website or blogs.

Very small businesses, without the huge SEO budget, now have a better chance at balancing their paid ads and organics than ever before. 

This is all real and caused me to re-examine my own profile a few months ago.  This past week, I made those decisions, and even tested them with a few external websites.

I was going to hold off on this for another week or two until the other 'company' websites are up-to-date on this ... but the 'timing' is right for some minor changes here.

Shameless self=promotion?  Maybe. But what better place than hundreds of you have come to TRUST.

Anzman Consulting has been around for over a decade.  My first company was one of the first two US electronics exporters on the Internet (It was a fun time! :).

Quieter than most, I've helped many others over the years.

We're changing.

The 'we' is now just me (and of course, my strongest ally, my wife).  The company goes on ... for very small and small business SEO and Social Media Consulting ONLY.

Frankly, it's less of a 'brain drain' for me at my stage in life and I'm enjoying developing personal and rewarding relationships with smaller companies.

In the old days, I used to call it 'Playing Chess with Google'.  The Google Dance days are over (no, not the dance they held last night :).  There's new and exciting things happening all over the Internet. Social Media and Lifestreaming, at least right now, are more important than ever.

If you're a small company (or individual) , there's absolutely no reason you should be part of it. 

More details as the weeks go on ... A new (temporary) contact form is at the right.  I am probably going to limit it to 2 or 3 accounts at a time depending on the time needed and keep it reasonable .... because ... I'm really enjoying life right now and the time I've found to spend with my wife.

There are some really great SEO companies out there.  By all means, if you have the means, support the 'good guys'. Many have been linked to by this blog since it's inception (with no compensation whatsoever), and/or had their blogs posts shared in a rotating manner on the Shared feed.  Hand-picked, free stuff, twice a day.

Finally, if you're a blogger, face-to-face still wins the race.  Need a sponsor?  Need some contacts? Make some time to get out to a few events.  Do some in-person networking. 

For everyone else, go on over and read some of the Google stuff above. It'll help (a lot) and be a great start!

My goal.  To have more fun, doing what I do. Make sense?

Now that's transparent :)

PS:  I will be tapping a few of you directly for one or two (probably one) sponsorships of this blog.  The reason is I want to PAY a few people, whom I trust implicitly, to write a few articles here each week.  It's been fun watching this experiment grow since last August, and I don't want that to have any effect whatsoever on my upcoming 'profile change' from 'quiet seo' to 'seo coach to very small business and individuals.

Stay tuned and Thanks .... Charlie

Edited 10 PM ET

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Smart Fortwo begins to hit US highways

Apparently, the Smart Fortwo from Mercedes has been sold in 36 countries around the world for some time.

Introduced here (in museums) here earlier this year, Smart USA began taking orders on the Internet .... on a design-your-own, reservation basis. A dealer network has now been put in place as well.

I spotted two Smart ForTwo's in the past 2 days.  (They're VERY small  .. but very cool).

One was here in Central PA last week, and another on a brief biz trip to New York this past weekend.

You can find out more of the Mercedes Smart ForTwo at the SMART USA website here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

ReadyBoost for Vista - Does it work?

ReadyBoost is a feature built into Windows Vista that allows you to insert a flash drive or memory card, allocate up to 4 GB, and it's supposed to speed-up your system.

As I mentioned in the previous piece, I did some research before writing this piece but almost all of the articles were dated.  One implied that 'a fix' was on the way in SP1 (done).  Another said it wasn't working with all computer manufacturers (That was in 2007).

With the price of RAM dropping, and my system (finally) configured with all the latest drivers, and enough on-board ram to make Vista (very) speedy, I decided to give ReadyBoost a try this past week.

I was able to pick up a Verbatim 'Ready-boost enabled' 8 GB USB flash drive for $25 on sale .. (and I actually needed a larger flash drive anyway).

Off to the test...

Putting the flash drive in the the slot, a dialog came right up asking if I wanted to use a portion of the drive for ReadyBoost (with 4MB recommended).  One click ... done.

It's important to realize that ReadyBoost is not the same as adding RAM to your computer.  It essentially caches data that would normally be cached on your hard drive for faster rendering.  (A copy is kept on your computer so if you pull the drive, you're still in business).

There are numerous (again, mostly older) articles on the web with varying degrees of success with ReadyBoost.

Here's what happened in my case.

Putting the technical stuff aside, the best performance I achieved was leaving the flash drive plugged in and letting the computer 'get used to it'.  Using Sleep instead of Shut-down for a day or so, and keeping the drive plugged in (For 25 bucks ... why not?).

The are a lot of factors that will determine success with ReadyBoost.  System resources, how many programs you use and how often, and others.  I did vary the programs I opened and closed during the 'test period'.

Benchmark programs don't recognize ReadyBoost as memory do there's no hard-line test that I'm aware of.

It's been four days since the tiny drive has been plugged in. The system IS faster.  Positively not an illlusion (as one article implied??).  Faster boot, faster shutdown, faster program launching.

My take?  Everything to gain and nothing to lose (although I won't vouch for YOUR configuration :).
I did pull the drive a few times briefly, and in my case, there was absolutely no data loss although I'd probably recommend shutting down to pay it safe.

Apparently, things have improved since the early Vista reviews of ReadyBoost, or, this box just likes it?

I'd be curious if anyone else is using the feature and what your results have been, here in the comments or on Friendfeed.

While there are MANY ways to improve the performance of Vista .... my flash drive is staying right where it is ... plugged in.

Note for you technoplies (Do you really want to be called a geek? :)  The most extensive explanation in how ReadyBoost works from Microsoft that I could find is here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The good and bad - New adopters

This blog took a swift right turn not too long ago when Louis Gray hooked my curiosity on the 'latest and greatest'.  I did a blog post on 'the upcoming change', and continued to deliver what I considered to be relevant stories (and good SEO stuff!) on the shared feed (at right).

This morning I was about to write a personal review on a piece of hardware.  First, I tried something a little different.

I searched for other peoples' reviews.  (I usually try to avoid this or checking TechMeMe before, because it can jade my view to some extent).

Early adopters (and early reviewers) were all over this piece of hardware (in early 2007!).  The articles were never updated, with ONE exception. So, if you were going to try this (now excellent and inxepensive) hardware add-on today, and you Google'd it, chances are you might not?

Not a good thing.  Maybe some of us should be revisiting our very early posts.

The advantages of being a new adopter are many.  The 'ground floor' not only gives you an easy opportunity to join a small growing community and interact (in most cases), but your input on the future of the product is usually heard as well.  (It also makes for great blog posts :).

I use the net (like many of you) for just about everything.  Yesterday, I probably saved a car dealer visit for a (dumb) check engine light problem on the Nissan. (Gas Cap not tightened? ... ugh!!!!) 

Check the dates of what you're reading.  While there are some brilliant writers out there, the posts you're reading could be outdated.

As for me ... I'm watching the crop of new 'brilliant writers' emerge on Friendfeed, and yes, Twitter ... and once a month or so, adjusting the blogroll here and/or the 'Google Shared Feed' accordingly.

What was the hardware?

Stay tuned :)

Have a great weekend all

PicLens 1.8 out of Beta - Now officially Cooliris

More Freeware that works ....

Those of you that are regular readers know that one of my favorite (highly-addictive!) add-ons for Firefox has been PicLens. The program that literally lets you search or 'discover' new photos and videos across the web by just moving your mouse ... in simulated 3D!

A few hours ago, PicLens implemented a few changes... and, as usual, it just keeps getting better.

The program is now available for Firefox 2 and 3 (Windows or Mac), Internet Explorer and Safari.  A  Wordpress plug-in is also available.

The new version (1.8) is now out of beta, includes e-mail sharing, better navigation to the host websites, additional 'built-in' searches, much easier integration with YOUR own website, and a myriad of 'discover' categories. 

PicLens is changing it's name to adopt the company name, Cooliris.  The change started today (on numerous pages on their website) and is expected to be reflected on the program soon, once existing users have a chance to get used to it.

If you've missed it in the past, you get get a free copy of the new Cooliris here.

Developers can check out the new easy-to-impliment tools here.

edit 1:53 AM ET

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Got Money ? - Spend it !

I've seen a lot of economic cycles come and go in my life but I seriously doubt there's anyone (particularly in the middle class) that would argue with the fact that this ongoing foreclosure, gas price mess, is a biggie.

While the tech sector may be immune, to some extent, venture capitalists and private equity are in a good position .... with traditional credit continuing to dry up.

The experts will tell you that if you DO have disposable income, you should be saving it.  No argument there.
Unless, of course, you're in a decent position there already. 

So, here's the deal.

The 'reverse flea market effect' is in full swing both on the web, in stores and, on TV.

QVC (Liberty Media) and Wal-Mart are both out with strong earnings.

Department stores, online catalog stores, and just about other retail space you can think of (including business supply stores and many, many others) are blowing out merchandise .

This time around "Take 70% off already marked down" isn't fake.  It's real!

Not just the tech goodies that you or I might enjoy, but clothing, house goods ... you name it.

The 'big boxes' are probably NOT your best deal right now unless you really know how to pick and choose. (The only possible exception being Home Depot, Lowes and other building-related spots).

It's also regional. 

Wealthy towns and cities are not seeing price-cutting while middle income areas are.
From the pump to the department stores.

So what makes me an expert?

I'm not.  I just scored more deals for friends in the past 6 weeks (online and in stores) than I've ever seen.... and, as a few of you know, I'm cheap :)

Got a few bucks?.

Buy next year's suits, outfits, house stuff and business supplies now.

We'll see if I'm right next summer.

The reverse flea market effect is in full swing!

Edit 12:45 ET

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Windows Update - Super Tuesday again

Another big update day from Microsoft .....

I try to keep a lot of 'web aware' programs turned off and revisit them when necessary.

With so many applications joining the automatic update world, it can take some precious time on boot up, not to mention using some of your system resources or bandwidth just when you need them. 

While I do have Windows Update (Microsoft Update) notify when upgrades / patches are available, I like to pick and choose the 'recommended updates' (and also take a quick peek at system resources, processes, etc. after the upgrades or patches).

Example:  Desktop 4.0 works great in XP.  I haven't been able to detect any significant difference whatsoever in Vista.  It IS delivered as a recommended update to Vista users.

Yesterday was yet another Super Tuesday for Microsoft.  On 3 machines tested, updates varied from 25-40 MB.  A variety of Windows, Office and other patches and updates ... some performance, some security.

So just a quick reminder to drop by 'Update' if your little 'indicator' hasn't come on yet.  There were a few significant fixes in the mix.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quick Olympic Medal Count

..or how to write a useful blog post when you're really tired :)
Google's Olympic Medal Counter :

Long-time web personalities move to Friendfeed and

Here we go again...

....with Twitter.

No, they're not down. No 'fail whale'. This time it's worse.

Apparently, those with over 2000 followers can't access their accounts. As of this post, there's been no explanation on the Twitter blog (other than 'a work in progress' on spam filtering?). The customer service which finally appeared on Twitter (after numerous complaints) is nowhere to be found.

This has been a 'known issue' on Pownce for some time but they've addressed it publicly numerous times.
Good enough for me.

So what does all of this have to do with the title of this post?

In the past month, numerous web 'personalities', SEO people, and some of the original 'Social Networkers' (I really dislike that term) have all been posting directly to Friendfeed.

Veronica Belmont, Sarah Austin, Tamar Weinberg, Ann Smarty, Lora Lufark, Shana Albert, Matt McGee,
Kimberly Bock and many others, well known across various (and diverse) Internet marketing circles, are now using Friendfeed.

So now, Twitter pulls the plug on mega-bloggers?
This is either crazy, or they should have explained why .... IN ADVANCE.

The 'I told you so' came from Robert Scoble and he's right.

Twitter just shot it's No. 1 advantage and the reason people were willing to deal with the many outages. Most had spent a lot of time and energy building communities of friends there.

Where will they go? and Friendfeed.

I, for one, welcome everybody, including those that just joined the 'blog world' yesterday.

My guess is Friendfeed and will handle it just fine.

It'll be more interesting, informative, and just more fun!

Update 10:30 PM ET: First, the post on what is going on at Twitter is here. Apparently, it's not 'cut in stone' and some (including Robert, as of a few minutes ago) are 'getting a pass'. My own take, for what it's worth, is that 'fine-tuning live' is really bad (and outright not fair to many others?!). There had to be a better way. Twitter needs capacity, not censorship.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Microsoft releases .Net 3.5 SP1 for Download

Earlier today, Microsoft issued the latest version of their .Net framework.  Version 3.5 SP1 is available now from the Microsoft Download Center and covers most existing platforms (XP, Vista, etc.).

Note: Installing Framework revisions can take some time, so allow be sure an allocate at least a half hour (or more) for your computer to download the necessary files and perform the update.  The link is here.

Just a few moments ago, a separate language pack for the framework was also posted to the Microsoft Download Center.

In other tech news from MSFT, the latest August SDK for DirectX 9.0 c is now available
(DirectX 10 continues to make progress for those with specific NVidia and ATI video cards).

Update 1 - Links corrected

XP - Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated

In the past two months, I've read more articles on 'the end of XP' than I can count.

Last week, I wrote a piece on the upgraded Windows Media Player roll-up for XP.  It drew a 'little' outrage from a few that felt they had been 'forced' to upgrade to Vista.

I knew that, somewhere along the line, I had read the facts and decided earlier today to double check them.

I logged in to a few Microsoft websites including Connect and the Microsoft Partner site.  I'm not exactly sure why I still have access to this stuff as I closed my computer company in 1999, and after a very quick stint re-living local broadcast and print journalism, I turned my efforts 100 % to in-house SEO and online marketing.

First of all, XP ended 'sales', NOT support.  In fact, there are numerous 'special situations' where you can  still purchase XP.

Support for many users that have the service packs installed will continue until 2012.  A few could see full support end in April 2009 but that's the exception, not the rule.

Microsoft did a pretty good job on their public sites of persuading you to upgrade before numerous click-thrus to realize that if you want to wait a little while, it's OK.  Hey, that's business.

The closest Microsoft page I could find with the facts is hereBe sure and expand all the questions at the bottom.  In fact, if you click through a few times, you'll see that SP2 and SP3 customers have yet to be assigned a support termination date.

I have the official PDF if anyone has any questions.  It's probably a copyright violation to reproduce it here.  The link above tells most of the story. 

There's a HUGE embedded base of XP users out there.  Obviously, Microsoft didn't need a PR nightmare.

So should you upgrade to Vista?  See the previous piece just posted.  The answer is, if you have the system resources, at this point, my personal take is YES.  Try for at least the Home Premium version.  Again, if your hardware is there, it'll run rings around XP. There's A LOT of new stuff 'under the hood'. Make sure there are Vista drivers available for all your hardware first.

There it is.  I'm not sure I would have said this until very recently but the drivers are getting better and the hardware is getting cheaper.

For the rest of you with older boxes.   Don't sweat it.  There's still time :)

Are OEMs Deliberately Hiding Upgrades?

A few weeks ago, I picked up a new laptop.  The price was outright irresistible and my old one was, well, getting old.

It was a brand that I have come to respect recently, was 'current' and loaded, well under $500, and it had Vista SP1 installed. 

Vista is probably the latest I've ever personally 'adopted' any Microsoft Operating System, but the time had come.  XP was coming to an end , or so it seemed (watch for the next article ! :) but I was reluctant to 'upgrade' because I had tried to help numerous friends with earlier versions of Vista, and had been seriously  disappointed.

So after a few weeks, I decided to add some RAM.  It was pretty obvious Vista needed it, and the laptop had everything else, including a speedy processor.

"Maximum RAM upgrade 2GB"  Huh??  Is this a joke?

About ready to call the company and freak out a little, and thinking that my great new deal was about to head to XP, I did some quick research.

Note: The reason that I'm not mentioning the brand is I took a HUGE chance here and don't recommend it to anyone without extensive PC hardware knowledge.

I searched (yes, Google) for a bios upgrade specific to the model.  The manufacturer listed NONE AVAILABLE.  In fact, they didn't even list the much improved new driver for onboard Intel X3100 graphics accelerator.

A little more digging, now in the 'underground'.  Yes, the forums where the 'real geeks' hang out.

I found a link to the OEM's FTP site which had a bios upgrade 'close' to my model "Vista Bios upgrade to allow additional RAM".  Bingo!

I VERY carefully pushed a bunch of self-booting back-up stuff to DVD and downloaded the Bios patch.

I killed all programs, etc. and proceeded with the bios upgrade.  It stopped dead in the middle of the process.


While I pictured myself wasting a lot of time restoring the old bios, I powered off the box (totally - battery removed) and powered it back on with an additional 2GB installed (which the old bios refused to recognize).

Whammo!  Success.

Vista immediately reflected the new RAM.  I upgraded the X3100 drivers from Intel's site and had a Vista speed demon up and running (IE: I lucked out). 

Now running flawlessly for about a week, I have to think that some OEM's are hiding this stuff so you buy the next generation OR because they're afraid people will 'fry' their boxes and will have a new 'load' on the customer service lines.  So why sell a 2GB laptop with Vista when you still had time to XP it??

My experiences with Vista over the past couples of weeks (with all upgrades including SP1) have been a pleasant surprise.  There are a lot of improvements, mostly under the hood, that do make a difference, and yes, you do need a decent amount of RAM.

The key with Vista is watching for driver updates.  They're still being issued.  I found FIVE for this box.  The Intel update (mentioned above) wasn't posted to Windows Update (and still isn't).  It was, by far, the most significant.

In most cases (not all) if you call customer service they're going to be reading out of a book.  If you encounter a situation like this, find a highly-recommeded hardware super geek! :) 

You may have a really pleasant surprise.

Friday, August 8, 2008

More Olympic Coverage - Google trifecta

Google launched three ways to keep up with the Olympics this morning on the Official Google Blog.

A Google Gadget,  Google coverage on YouTube (see below ?!) and similar to their election maps, a 'who won what map' which can be found here.

You can download and /or check out all three here.

Try the video ... awesome :)

Great weekend all

Thursday, August 7, 2008 xRank Beta adds Olympics

Microsoft has been running an online Olympics promo campaign centered around the MSN / NBC Olympic Games partnership.

Another 'quieter' MS beta product known as xRank just added and Olympics specific tab.

There have been many 'what's hot' and 'what's being search right now' products over the years, but the relatively new xRank deserves a peek.  It's a quick take (which is nice) and it'll be interesting to see how the Olympic titles unfold as the games officially begin.

Finally, if you want to chime in on where you're watching the Olympics, either online or elsewhere, (and help a few that appear to have been 'blackout-out' in various countries), the thread started with our previous piece is still open to comment on FriendFeed here.

The New Facebook and 'Dear Mark'

As I'm just about to promote Facebook as still a relative 'sleeper' in targeted advertising to a friend, I log-on this morning, and receive this (unsolicited) message from Mark Zuckerberg:

"Hey -
At Facebook, our goal is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. More than 90 million people across the world have joined this movement and are using the site to communicate and share information with the people they care about most. Today, we're happy to invite you to check out the next evolution of our product. We've been working on it for a while, so we're really excited to show it to you.
We had three goals to improve Facebook in this version. First, we wanted to make everything clean and simple to use. Reducing clutter makes it easier for you to find what you're looking for and share information with others. Second, we wanted to give you more control over your profile. Everyone should be able to express themselves how they want, which means privacy controls and control over how content appears on your profile. Lastly, we wanted to show the most recent and relevant content. People share so much on Facebook that it's easier to keep up with your friends by focusing on the newest and most important information.
You may have seen the preview Page we created a few months ago to get suggestions from the community on the changes we were thinking about making. I want to thank all of you who wrote in and gave us feedback. It's always great to hear from people using our products all around the world. As you use the new Facebook, please feel free to let us know what you think using the "Send Feedback" link at the top of new pages.
To try out the new Facebook, look for a banner at the top of every page. If you get lost, there are help links available as well as the option to switch back to the older version for a little while. I hope you enjoy this next evolution of the site as much as we do.
Mark Zuckerberg"

Of course, there was no reply-to, so here it goes ....

Dear Mark,
1) My name isn't 'Hey'.  If you're going to invade my space (on your space?), 'Dear Friends' would have been a lot better.
2) I'm a pretty busy guy that LIKES Facebook and thinks it has incredible ongoing potential.  If there's any significant learning curve in getting my old stuff back, it'll be weeks before I do it, if ever.
3) I understand the need to stay competitive, ahead of the curve, and all that stuff.  I even watched the previews of the upcoming changes (and shared 'Inside Facebook). IE: I'm a fan! This is a wholesale change, and honestly, with all the new and exciting services coming online, I think it will alienate a LOT of people.  Most just don't have the time to re-arrange their stuff, which I'm still not even sure is possible.
4) I use Facebook mail for private conversations.  I like it.  ... Oh, there it is .... nevermind.

In closing, I would suggest that you take baby steps here.

It's bad.  Really bad.

Just my opinion.

Your friend

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bookmark of the Month - Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

As the Olympic flame ended it's journey as short time ago and began it's ascent to the Great Wall, it occurred to me that while I've seen hundreds of websites touting their coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, not one had mentioned an 'official' site.

For me, the Olympics should be preserved as an enjoyable and symbolic, cherished event, where we can come together if just for a week or two, and celebrate our planet, it's people .... as well as our athletes.

As it says on this year's official website, "One World, One Dream".

The 2008 Olympics technically begin tomorrow although coverage of some pre-launch events are  already underway.

The Official Website from The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad can be found here.

Note: This is the English language link.  The site is available in numerous languages which can be selected from the main page.  If you wish to view the official launch site in Chinese, it can be found here.

Other notable links include: The NBC Olympic Website, the United States Olympic Committee's coverage, ESPN's Olympic Coverage, the Official website of the Olympic Movement, Australia's ABC Olympic coverage, and hundreds of others from news and sports websites, throughout the world.

Update Aug 10:  You may need to do a little spam filtering but some decent quality replays are now appearing on YouTube.

Update 2 Aug 10 :  Yahoo's easy-to-navigate and almost realtime Olympic overage is here.

Windows Media Player 11 roll-up available for Windows XP

Microsoft has posted the latest version of Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP to the Microsoft Download Center.  The download also updates or can repair some Vista versions of WMP11.

The latest roll-up version of the Windows Media Player sports some familiar as well as relatively new security features and integrates with the library at, including Internet radio, free downloads, as well as pay-for (and burn to CD) selections.

The updated Media Player 11 for XP can be downloaded either from the Microsoft Download Center or from the Media Player Website here.

Update: This is the latest build of WMP 11 for XP.  System requirements and other notes can be found here.

Update 2:  In our Microsoft news, Redmond announced late today that SQL Server 2008 has been released to manufacturing.  The announcment can be found here .

WebKut rocks with latest version 1.2.1

Adobe Air apps seem to be popping up as fast as, well, new bloggers.

I tried WebKut when it was first launched and then revisited it this morning.

A screen capture utility, WebKut's latest version now easily moves it into the top-5 in that category (a freeware category that's been around for a LONG time). 

Note: The Fireshot add-on for Firefox is still our no. 1

Lightweight, virtually no learning curve, auto-upload to Flickr and more, the cross-platform app built on the Adobe Air 1.1 platform just works.

WebKut is donationware.  You can download a copy here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

John Battelle launches interactive music site CrowdFire

Net-Vet John Battelle, owner of Federated Media, has teamed with Superfly to launch an all-new music, tech, and online music interactive Beta called CrowdFire.

The website, which premiered late yesterday, sounds a little bit like SXSW but is interactive online NOW in a variety of ways, while promoting the upcoming Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco (Aug 22-24th in Golden Gate Park).

The project is being sponsored by Microsoft.  Intel is also a Platinum Sponsor.

Will it be huge?  We'll see :)

Crowdfire can be found here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A blogger case study - Louis Gray

There are literally TONS of ways to make your blog popular.  New blogs are coming online every day, and most,are using 'similar' techniques in reaching a critical mass.

Then there's Louis Gray

Emerging from 'the quiet' about the same time that I did, Louis first approached a niche sector. New online products and new adopters.  It interested a lot of people right out of the box and Louis found himself engaged by start-ups and others seeking to be 'tested' in alpha or beta .. or whatever :)

While he is the first to admit that the original 'bump' in his blog stats was a mention by Robert Scoble, that is now part of Internet history, while by my count, Louis' blog continues a slow and steady viral.

Louis wasn't really embracing the latest blog promotion methods in a big way (His blog isn't monetized and in his own words, he does it as a 'hobby').  Bloggers were looking for some 'fresh air'.  His timing was right onThe web was changing again, quickly, and he was right there.

Friendfeed was (and still is) a game changer.  It's becoming an integral part of the web landscape and one of it's biggest supporters has been Louis.  Why?  Because it works, it's different, and it has the potential of changing the landscape in a big way.  (Not to mention the fact that it's fun and interesting ?!).

The secret sauce goes further.

Louis is as transparent as they come.  From pictures of his new born twins to a few controversial pieces that he felt strongly about, it became obvious that he was blogging from his gut with no BS.  People starting crossing over from other tech spaces and subscribing to his blog.  They started mentioning him in their own articles.  That can become somewhat self-perpetuating and, if he keeps the content 'real' and informative, for now, it's my guess, it will continue for some time.

A few months ago, I picked up the phone and engaged Louis in a phone conversation.  My instincts are pretty good and this guy was 'the real deal'.  No crowdsourcing or other crazy (and potentially deadly) promotional methods.  Just a modest guy, having a little fun showcasing 'potential' game changers, while lending a hand to a few bloggers, that were smart, yet still undiscovered.

The other day, I received an e-mail from a well-established SEO person.  The person was seriously concerned that he (or she :) had dug themselves so deep into the 'same formula', that the products this person produced were being displaced.  As I've mention here numerous times, it's certainly possible now, especially since that advent of Friendfeed.  In this case, it simply wasn't true.  The person was well-known in a specific (and large) Internet space and wasn't going anywhere.  The concern is what got me thinking (again).

Numerous bloggers (with Scoble being no exception) have mentioned changing their profiles a bit.  Others are wondering aloud why their ads aren't working as well as they used to.  That's a subject for another piece, hopefully later this week.  Hint: Look for a sponsor and think back to Web 1.0 and banner ads.  Your little boxes are going to be obsolete soon.

So what's with the Louis Gray infatuation?  It's really pretty simple.  He's stays 'real'.  He stays 'engaged' (daily).   He maintains his modesty and perception of his blog's place in the bigger picture.  More importantly, he doesn't engage in 'calling out' others (unless he feels an undenyable necessity), or negative posting ..... something we're all having to deal with more and more each day.  No sensational headlines or other BS. 

I've watched many successful bloggers over the years.  Some had 'fame' in the tech space starting out.  Others didn't.  Maki's DoshDosh hit a mark that astounded me (and continues to), but that mark was realized using a completely different formula.

The moral (as some of you have watched many of us discuss on Friendfeed over the past two weeks) ...
1) Join the conversation
2) Keep it positive and real
3) Have a little fun.
3) Block the trolls and bad guys.  (They're nothing more than a distraction to YOUR success and / or happiness on the Internet).

Finally, give people a second chance.  If you've left a blog or website because of a disagreement or you simply didn't like it, take another look.  People change every day.  You may get a pleasant surprise.

Have a great workweek to all!

SXSW launches 2009 website - South by Southwest 2009

SXSW is probably one of the most ingenious gatherings of the decade.

With music, art, film, and yes geek, the festival has managed not only to reach the mainstream in a big way, but is also bridging generations in a unique way, that simply can't be compared to anything else.

While some consider it a party, it's an important event as well.

SXSW 2009 will be held in Austin Texas from March 13-21st.  As it says on just-launched 2009 website "The hotels aren't sold out yet", but I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they are by the end of the year.

Conferences will include the SXSW Music and Media Conference, SXSW Film Conference and Festival and the widely Internet acclaimed SXSW Interactive Festival.

The marketing genius continues.

A little less than 6 months prior to the 2009 event, discount passes are being offered on the website.  It won't be long before the festival that probably doesn't even need a buzz sees huge press building in ALL types of media ... worldwide.

I suppose there's only one question left.

Will Twitter be ready?

The new SXSW 2009 Website can be found here.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Windows Freeware that works - Free Software you'll use

I've done a few pieces here on free software (true freeware - adware and spyware free) ... that 'just works'.

As more people migrate to Vista, I added a Vista box to the mix a few weeks ago and took a few of the oldie but goodies for a fresh run.

Obviously, everyone's favorites will vary, and this is a 'short list'.

I'm pleased that we now have a variety of new RSS subscribers and 'Google Reader' sharers, so if you haven't seen any of these before, that's what this piece is about.  Fun, productivity, time savings, and just some stuff to try out over the weekend.  (Obviously, I have NO IDEA how any of these will perform on your configuration :)

There are more than a few 'system analyzers' out there.  There are two that I use most frequently.  The first because of the UI and the second because I forget stuff (and probably don't back up as often as I should):

1) Fresh Diagnose - Latest Version 7.86 (July 8, 2008)
2) Belarc Advisor - More than you want to know

PDF Reader -
While many Adobe products are getting lighter, Adobe Reader (despite some new features) is going beyond bloatware.
A great alternative PDF reader, time-tested is Fox-It Reader. It's important to note that the download docs may seem a little confusing.  The Free version is still very much available.  Look towards the bottom.

Anti-Virus -
There's been some discussion (on Friendfeed and elsewhere) about AVG Anti-Virus no longer being free.  The basic version IS still available.  If you're using one of the old versions, it stopped updating some time ago when Grisoft (now AVG Technologies) moved to version Version 8

It's been here before, but you simply can't beat it for zero dollars (donateware)  I just keeps getting better.

Desktop Conversation App
Twhirl version 0.8.4 (for those who tweet and otherwise microblog :) is a runaway winner for me (still).  The desktop app that now supports Twitter, Friendfeed, and more.

Clean-up your junk!
Now mentioned by more blogs than I can count, I count on CCleaner to remove umpteen megabytes of  'junk' several times a day.  The Latest version is 2.10.618 (July 30, 2008) and can be found here.  More recently I've been trying Glary Utilities as well.  It seems to find a few things that CCleaner misses (but I need a little more time on this one :)
It's important to note that unless you know what you're doing (for lack of a better way of putting it), stick to the 1-click (non-auto) maintenance on Glary and/or just the Clean-up on CCleaner.

Finally, the biggie.  Web Browsers.
Right now, I'll stand by Firefox 3 in a Windows envionment any day.   Best in class on a properly configured XP or Vista box ... hands down. It's not just for bloggers anymore and the adoption rate is increasing every day.  A few extensions and your on your way to creating a fast, customizable internet experience .... 'that just works'.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

PicLens Version 1.8 Public Beta unveiled

PicLens has posted a limited public beta of their upcoming version 1.8.

One of the most interesting and entertaining extensions for Firefox (and now IE), we first reviewed PicLens here.

Version 1.8 will offer photo and video sharing by e-mail.

The limited beta release is aimed at those willing to help test it, but is a fully-functional (and free) program. 

As of this post, the beta program is still open. More information for both Mac and PC users can be found here.