Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pardon our year-end dust

Over the next few days we'll be experimenting with a new look and feel for SEO and Tech Daily (and deciding whether or not to move it from Blogger to Wordpress).

So if things look like they're movin' around ....

.... it's not you :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 : It's all Louis Gray's fault

It was somewhere around early last summer when I began reading Louis Gray's blog.

As time went on, it became part of my daily 'social graph'.

A few months later, Louis and I chatted on the phone and I even broke my own rule and did a 'guest post' on his blog.

For those of you that (have been living in a closet???? and ...) don't know who Louis is, or what he writes about, he spent much of this past year breaking stories on new and unique online products.  Some of them were pretty cool.  Some were probably dead out of the box (or will be).  A few were game-changers.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to play with 'new toys', so as Louis brought them to my attention, I subscribed, commented ... even featured (more than) a few right here.

So now I have a problem.

I'm overconnected?!

I belong to all of these cool services.   I have absolutely no idea which I set to import what.  It's true.  In all honesty, I didn't keep track.  I probably lost the passwords to more than half ....

..... and now I'm getting a few surprises.

Earlier this week, I wrote a passing piece here.  It wasn't one of my best and I decided to delete it. 

Usually, I'll relegate stuff like that to 'draft', and then re-write or decide later.  For some reason, in this case, I just shot it quick, before it was picked up by the 'micro-blog-where-am-I-and whos-got-my-stuff-stream'.

Facebook imported it and published it in it's entirety

I can't even hide when I want to!?

This is Louis' fault too.  Why?  It just is.

So on Christmas Eve, I'm sitting with my wife and daughter wandering around YouTube.  We check out a few old friends and then I show them Louis' babies?  The guy is clear across the country and we really don't know each other as 'real' friends. Is something wrong here?

As I've been sitting here this week, redesigning my own 'social graph' as well as the business .....to help those effected by the downturn, I'm wondering if it's necessary to revisit the gobs of sites importing this blog or my other 'spaces'.  There would be at least 50 password resets as well as reading back my own stuff (and Louis') to figure it all out.

I think I'll just wing it .....

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa delivers new version of TweetDeck

TweetDeck, the popular Adobe Air-based Twitter desktop client moved to version .21 beta last night.

Among the changes is a built-in spell checker and more.

How many times have you sent as Tweet and said... "I can't believe I did that"?  Unfortunately, you can't take a Tweet back.

Well, if online spelling is on your New Years resolution list, TweetDeck just made it a little easier, as well as adding a host of improvements and fixes:

Along the same lines (You guys knew I had to get this in here .. :), Friendfeed now allows you to edit your own posts.  Gone are the days where you had to delete them altogether and re-post, (taking those all-important 'likeys' with you :) ......

Merry Christmas All !


Monday, December 22, 2008

Picasa goes to Version 3.1 (and rocks!)

Picasa, the free photo editing (and uploading software) from Google took a little jump to version 3.1 last week.

The software's secret is something we talk about a lot here.

It's easy (and now it's faster and better).

Picasa 3.1 (at your option) will search your computer's hard drive for images at light speed.  From there, like many other programs, you can sort them into albums, add titles, and more.

One button upload to Google's picasaweb.com, one button e-mail or blogging it makes it super-simple.

The editing tools have been improved and are also very easy for those not familiar with photo editing.  Adding geo locations has been added as well.

Overall, it's certainly not Photoshop.  It IS easy and produces excellent output in a variety of export formats.

Add the freeware Paint.Net (one of my favorites) and you've got a decent 'suite' of photo and image tools .... for FREE.

Both programs now support larger image sizes being produced by the higher megapixel cameras now in the marketplace.

You can explore or download Picasa 3.1 here.  Paint.Net can be found here.

Update 1: It's worth noting here that Windows Live Essentials from Microsoft has also been 'refreshed' and more information on the new Photo Gallery beta, Free 25GB online storage and more new features can be found here.

Test Post – Windows Live Writer RC1

Just a quick test post using the just released version of Windows Live Writer 2009 (Release Candidate 1)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Out With The Old (Feeds) - In With The New

One of the projects on my to-do list this week was to 'clean-up' my Google Reader subscriptions.

Like many of you, I get my 'morning take' from a few select websites and blogs.
One of my first stops in the morning is my Google Reader.

The problem?

As I continued to discover new and interesting blogs and websites over time, I added hundreds of feeds. Despite Google's recent changes to Reader, it now greets me with "1000+ unread feeds" each morning.

I needed a more efficient way of pairing down the list... and I decided to re-visit Feedly to help me out.

Feedly, despite a few minor problems in the early stages, has matured dramatically.  The online plug-in  organizes your Google Reader feeds in an easy-to-read format, and provides unique navigation, as well as 'sharing', and numerous other features.

(Kudos to Edwin Khodabakchian for his continued and ongoing development of this project.  It's come a long way since Beta 1!).

I made a list for a 'one week review' using Feedly.   Now ..... The next question became ... What am I missing?  With tens of thousands of important and timely feeds, there have to be a few that I want to read every day.

Like many of you, I visit a number of so-called aggregators and tech sites each day. For me, it's TechMeMe, the newly re-launched Google Blog Search (Technology), and yes, discovery using Friendfeed (and Twitter).

'Discovery' is becoming easier than ever!

Many of us have been 'sharing' feeds over the past year. Those 'shares' are picked up by aggregators such as ReadBurner and RSSMeMe.  They provided some good insight. There were more than a few popular and interesting feeds among the 'most popular'.

The project has a way to go, but since I really do spend way too much time with this stuff (and I know that many of you do too), I thought I'd share a little of the process I'm using to cure my RSS 'feed mania'.

More to come.

Hopefully, when this is finished, I can start setting up some real comfortable (interesting AND fun) Friendfeed categories ....

.....and add another thousand or so of you :)

Great weekend all!

Edit Dec 20 AM

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Google downloads now offer Chrome by default

Google's Chrome browser which came out of Beta a few weeks ago is being adopted by many in the tech crowd as well as those with limited system resources on Windows boxes.

It appears Google has found a way to take the browser mainstream in 'steps'.

While Chrome did replace Firefox in the Google Pack a while back, many average Internet users probably still don't know what a Google Pack is.

This morning, because of this article on the (independent) Google Earth Blog, I decided to download the latest version of Google Earth and check out the new imagery of New York City (Paris and more).

I was presented with this 'option' at the top of the page (which incidentally also installs the Google Updater software):

While a huge majority of Internet users now use Google as their primary search, it appears Google is bundling the new Chrome browser with individual, popular Google free downloads.

Honestly, I have no problem with this at all and see it as another very smart move by the gang at MountainView.

The latest version of Google Earth can be found here.
The individual (stable, no public) version of Google's Chrome browser (Windows platform only) is here.

Upgrades issued for Firefox and Internet Explorer

Mozilla has launched a new release of the popular Firefox 3.0 browser bringing the latest stable (public) version to 3.0.5.

Included in the latest release is a patch for a widely documented security issue that 'could' run code on your computer without you realizing it.  That virus has also been addressed by Microsoft with an emergency patch for Internet Explorer versions 6, 7 and IE8 Beta 2.

Mozilla also took the opportunity the implement some additional fixes in this upgrade (for you 'tech types') including:
   XSS vulnerabilities in SessionStore
   XSS and JavaScript privilege escalation
   Escaped null characters ignored by CSS parser
   Errors parsing URLs with leading whitespace and control characters
  Cross-domain data theft via script redirect error message
  XMLHttpRequest 302 response disclosure
  User tracking via XUL persist attribute
  Crashes with evidence of memory corruption (rv:

Users of Firefox maybe automatically updated, or can simply hit 'Help' on the top bar and then 'Check for Updates'.  Internet Explorer users should visit Windows Update or Microsoft Update for the security patch.

Internet Explorer details can be found at this Microsoft Website.
Details from Mozilla on Firefox 3.0.5 can be found here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Internet Marketing Vet launches Eco Product Site

There are people you come across in this business that you simply know will succeed, usually because of their deep passion for a timely product.

Earlier this week, I got a sneak peek at Home Energy Resource, a new website being driven by Peter Troast.

I have worked with Peter in the past, and despite this new website's modest beginnings, it's one to keep an eye on.

Peter is all about all things 'eco', and even had me to doing some reading on eco-friendly buildings and more,  earlier this year.  I learned A LOT, much of which came as a complete surprise.

As many of you probably know, there are many technologies in place that can save us right now from using oil, reduce greenhouse emissions, and just stop us from polluting our childrens' world.  MANY large and small companies are already building green and/or retrofitting to save money.  The technology has made it cost effective.

Since becoming interested myself, I have seen some newer renovations that can now pay for the retrofits in less than 6 or 7 years.  It's been an eye opening experience for me (and has already saved me a few $$ ! :).

Despite the economic times, I think Peter's choice to soft launch the start-up now was right on.  Humble beginnings with a mission that will become much more apparent as the weeks and months go by.

No doubt a crowded field, this is one guy's integrity you don't have to be concerned about. I can say that without hesitation.

As we begin to close the gap, as eco-friendly, energy efficient housing gets closer to almost any homeowner's budget, this new website will grow to become a significant contributor to the eco information and product marketplace on the Internet.

You can find the soft launch of Home Energy Resource here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is Firefox Doomed? Chrome joins Google Pack

You'd be hard-pressed to convince a die-hard blogger or your neighborhood 'geek' to switch from Firefox.  The customization and versatility have made it a winner among the tech crowd.

In fact, just about everyone's stats show that the Mozilla browser (which will probably move to 3.1 sometime this month), is gaining significant ground against Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

The 'browser wars' have been going on for years.  There have always been numerous players and alternatives to the browser that comes 'built-in' on most Windows-based PC's.

Today's landscape is different.

Internet Explorer is technically no longer part of the Windows operating system.  In fact, many of Microsoft's own websites have been made compatible with Firefox.  

Enter Google's Chrome which came out of beta this past week.  The no-frills, lightweight browser is already a hit with many, especially those with limited system resources.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer still has an identity problem.  Some 'techies' are readying for IE8 when it leaves beta 2.  Some individuals and companies have been automatically upgraded to IE7.... while still, many others are moping along with IE6.

Current financial conditions have stopped some large and small companies from upgrading hardware and software and many have downsized their IT departments, which slows the upgrade process further.

It's no secret that a very significant amount of Mozilla's income comes from Google.  The 'deal' that makes the browser default to Google as the primary search engine is, by all accounts, HUGE.

Of course, Apple's Safari remains strong with MAC and iPhone users, and other players in the browser space, such as Opera, have found a home on desktops and mobile devices.

From all indications, it appears Google is very serious about Chrome.  The new version works fine, is fast and cross platform.

The beta tag is off .... but are the gloves out?

Reading some of Google's bloggers this past week and a few Googlers on Twitter, my guess is YES.

If I'm right, and developers jump on when the 'extension bandwagon' kicks in, it could be a whole new ballgame.

If Google finds a way to convince corporate IT departments that there's a reason, and a good one, to switch ... and then makes it incredibly easy, the browser landscape could change in a heartbeat.

The best reason, and the one I think they should be watching VERY closely is security.

There's simply no company that wouldn't want a more secure infrastructure .... for free.

Update Dec 13 :  Shortly after we posted this piece, Google replaced the Firefox browser with Chrome as part of their Google Pack.

Update 2 Dec 15: Several readers chimed in, in the comments below, on Friendfeed and elsewhere with regard to my 'cross-platform' mention, which, in fact, is wrong.  While the Chromium project does offer a preliminary build for Mac (and less for Linux), the Chrome browser currently is limited to Windows based PC's.

In addition, one e-mailer pointed out that Google Docs is still prominently displayed on the Firefox 'Getting Started' page ...

Either way, 2009 will be an interesting year.... especially if the economic conditions allow a significant Tech / IT upgrade!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Is Verizon taking on Grand Central?

Over the past couple of weeks, Verizon has been soft launching a new feature known as Verizon Call Assistant.

A combination of client applications and a web-based product, Call Assistant allows full control of your 'hardline' as well as transfer of your contacts between a variety of PDA's, smartphones and synchronization with e-mail clients.

The PC client app provides real-time caller ID and allows you to listen to your voice mail with direct integration to the web-based suite (which makes your messages available to you at almost any public PC).

Google's Grand Central is a similar product offering voice mail over PC and transfer of calls to your cell or other phone numbers.  Voice over IP (GChat) has not yet been integrated into the product, however one clear advantage of Grand Central is that it provides you with an additional phone number (for free) that can be used for a variety of purposes.

Both products allow customization of your greeting and storage of voice mails for later retrieval.

Verizon's Call Assistant currently works on Windows based PC's but a newer version is pending that will be MAC compatible.

Grand Central, as of late, has been curiously closed to new subscribers.

Information on the new Verizon product can be found here.
Grand Central can be checked out here.

Google Friend Connect spawns new Directories

It didn't take long for a few smart people to launch 'specialized directories' of blogs and websites implementing Google's Friend Connect.

Those familiar with website and blog marketing know, that over the years, specialized directories that gain popularity are an outright home run for those taking advantage of them in the early stages.

In one of my own case, a landscape webcam that I had on the Internet for years was picked up by one of the first 'webcam directories'.  That directory site was, for all intents and purposes, 'ripped off' by HUNDREDS of others, and over the course of time, created THOUSANDS of inbound links to the page.

The result was more than incredible.

Firstly .... to the two new directories that I've found so far. Try to find a way to protect your content (and/or leverage it NOW and try to stay ahead of any competition that comes along).

To those implementing or testing Google Friend Connect (I am using it here to see how it goes, in the lower right hand column on this blog) .... Be sure and check out Friend Connectified and GFC Directory ... and get yourselves listed NOW.

These specialized directories have a way of proliferating (fast!) once they have a decent amount of listings.

You may just get a big surprise watching your analytics over the coming weeks.

It all depends how these sites and any others roll-out but it's certainly worth your time to go there.

More to come later today.

Have a great week!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Update: Friend Connect DOES support Blogger

Blogger Marianne chimed in on the last post (in the comments) with a thread from the Google Blogger users group, that the 2 required HTML files are apparently native to Blogger.

There simply was no announcement from Blogger yet.

Details for adding Friend Connect to Blogger are here

Use the Javascript widget.

There is no need to modify your template.

I have put an example at the very lower right on this blog.

Of course, you are more than welcome to 'put your face' there :)

Again, our thanks to Marianne for the heads up!

Great Weekend All!

Friday, December 5, 2008

No Google Friend Connect for Blogger?

About 2 days before the 'entire world' got access to Google's new Friend Connect, I received an e-mail saying 'You've been whitelisted to try Google Friend Connect'.

While it makes for a great promotion to give someone the idea that they have an 'inside track', this practice (used by many others for a long time) is, at best, cruddy :),

Regular readers of this blog know I rarely if ever have bad things to say about Google.

I did add Friend Connect to a few clients' Wordpress blogs this week.  It was easy, fast, and makes a good appearance.  Hopefully it will help them grow.

So here's my beef.  (Me .... rant?).

One of the many reasons I keep this blog on Blogger .... is that Blogger is fast and easy.  It integrates with my other Google log-ins and more.

 Anything that looks good, saves me time and consistently delivers, works just fine for me.

Free or not, it should work.

This morning, I decided to try Google's new Friend Connect right here.  I logged into 'draft.blogger.com' (the entry point for the latest Blogger stuff) thinking that it would be, like many other Blogger features, a plug and play addition.

It's not there.  It's not even mentioned in the Blogger help screens or user group.

Is it me?

If you're going to put a product out there that garners tech headlines for two days, shouldn't it work with your own stuff?

So, for now ... You can still be my 'pal' on Twitter or chat a little on Friendfeed but until late-January, when I plan to finally re-launch my 'personal place', you just can't be my Google pal here......


Updated Dec 5 PM

Yet another Java Update

Just a couple of weeks ago we noted that Sun had released a new version of Java 6 for Windows.

For those of you that haven't been auto-updated (See the previous post for instructions), it appears that Java 6 Update 10 is now Update 11.

The Google Chrome support is still there and it appears that a long-time bug is now gone.

At first blush, it looks like the '200 plus MB of nothing' (IE: The previous Java install) is now automatically removed with this version.

Release notes can be found here.

You can update to Java 6 version 11 from the Control Panel or download the full install here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

PC meets XBOX - Microsoft Games adds Desktop Client

Microsoft has been busy the past two weeks redesigning the LIVE.com interface, and, as many blogs have noted, taking the online product deeper into the 'social networking' world.

While a few of the upgrades have been a little 'touchy', overall the revamped Live.com product exhibits a clean, easy-to-use interface.

While Gmail still remains my primary web-based e-mail, I also maintain a few Live.com accounts and have been checking out the various 'mini' desktop apps that have come along with this latest roll-out.

Late Tuesday, Microsoft posted yet another desktop interface to the Microsoft Download Center and gamers and / or XBox fan may want to check it out.  The desktop client known is Games for Windows (Version 2) is now here .... and so far, looks pretty sharp.

Some XP users may be directed to a security patch prior to the client operating correctly.  (Installation of the patch was fast an easy).

Those new to the online product will need to choose a new 'gamer' identity.

Log off, log on and you're playing (interestingly via the XBOX online website) online with no visible browser.

This product, if it matures a bit, could very well deliver 'some' xBox-type games directly to your PC.  At first blush, that certainly seems to be the intention.

The Games for Windows client Version 2.0 can be found here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Firefox moves Test Builds to 3.2 Alpha - UPDATE Version 3.1 Beta 2 now posted

Despite the recent 'invasion' (in the browser) field by Google's Chrome a few months ago, Mozilla is still developing Firefox at a rapid pace.

The publicly available Firefox 3.1 Beta 1 recently went into 'code freeze' and add-on developers were urged to get their extensions ready.  Beta 2 builds have quietly been moved to a new location at Mozilla's FTP site (in a host of languages).  The Beta 2 release, originally scheduled for Mid-November was delayed due to 17 (+/-) bugs that the team has been working on.

Is Mozilla about to unleash the latest version of Firefox?

Firefox Beta 2 (or possibly a Final Release?) is due sometime this week.

Beta versions of Firefox are tested in what Mozilla calls the 'Minefield'.  In fact, nightly test downloads carry the Minefield (not Firefox) label.

The nightly builds have now moved to 3.2 Alpha 1. In fact, there are already next generation nightly builds now posted at the Minefield ftp site for Windows, MAC, and Linux.

Our guess is Mozilla is simply waiting for the 'most used' extensions to get on board with the new 3.1 version  and then .... well .... new (FREE) browser .... just in time for the holidays.

3.1 sports a variety of new features and improvements.

The latest 3.1 'Official" Firefox Beta can be downloaded here. (As always, beta software should not be used on a mission-critical computer).

In other browser news, Google's Chrome recently went to version (Just click 'the little wrench' and then 'about Google Chrome' to be auto-updated).  It's also noteworthy that Apple is now simply stamping Safari with 'Version 3.2' but also recently released a minor upgrade for both Windows and MAC.

Is Microsoft's Internet Explorer being challenged?  In the tech / blogger world, there's simply no doubt about it.  In the enterprise?  Time will tell :)

Update: The latest stable (public) version of Firefox can be downloaded here.

Update: Dec 8, 2008  Mozilla moved the 3.1 to Beta 2 today.  Release notes are here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Microsoft showcases School of the Future

The fourth annual Microsoft School of the Future World Summit runs from today through Thursday in Seattle.

"The theme, “What’s Possible,” will enable more than 250 participants to facilitate a global discussion on what schools in the future can look like by examining the areas of instruction, organization design, technology, the challenges of implementing new policy and emerging trends everyone faces as they prepare students for the 21st century global workforce."

Pioneered by the software giant, the first pilot program has been ongoing in Philadelphia.

250 participants from 30 countries are attending the conference presented by Microsoft Partners in Learning.

Extensive information and downloads on this forward looking initiative are available from the 3 links above.

Students and educators can also 'join' and learn more at the MVU CareerForward website here.