Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tips for Traveling in the South

-- If it can't be fried in bacon grease, it ain't worth eating.

-- If you run your car into a ditch, don't panic. Four men in the cab of a four-wheel-drive truck with a 12-pack of beer and a tow chain will be along shortly. Don't try to help, just stay out of their way -- this is what they live for.

-- Don't be surprised to find boiled peanuts, movie rentals and fishing bait in the same store.

-- Remember: "Y'all" is singular. "All y'all" is plural. "All y'all's" is plural possessive.

-- Don't be worried that you don't understand anyone. They don't understand you either.

-- If you hear a Southerner exclaim, "Hey, y'all, watch this!" -- stay out of his way. These are likely the last words he will ever say.

-- If you see a turn signal blinking on a car with a southern license plate, you may rest assured that it was on when the car was purchased.

-- Satellite dishes are very popular in the South. They are to be positioned directly in front of one's trailer, since it cost considerably more than the trailer and should, therefore, be displayed.

-- As you are cursing the person driving 15 mph in a 55 mph zone, directly in the middle of the road, remember: many Southerners learned to drive on a John Deere, and this is the proper speed and lane position for that vehicle.

-- You can ask a Southerner for directions, but unless you already know the positions of key hills, trees and rocks, you're better off trying to find it yourself.

(from Joke of the Day)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Interested in a Sneak Peek at Office 2010??

At the Scobleizer site, there's a bunch of new videos of discussions with the Office 2010 Team Product Manager. Outlook is going to be very interesting -- here are the major points from the video:

Quick Steps: If you have processes that you repeat over and over, you can put them on a button. For example, you work for a marketing company and people ask the same question repeatedly (of course they didn't go to the FAQ page!!). You can set up a Quick Step that, when clicked, will file the incoming mail into a folder of your choice and simultaneously generate a canned response to the sender with the requested information.

Conversation View: If you have an e-mail conversation that goes on and on, you can see it in a true threaded view. You can also see where conversations fork within the view. In addition, there's an option called Clean Up that will remove any redundant messages from the thread. For example, if Terry said some things and Pat responded with Terry's entire message encapsulated, then the message from Terry would be moved to the Deleted Items folder because the information was already contained in Pat's message. In the demo, the thread message count was reduced from about 12 messages to only 5. By the way, the threaded view will not only show items from your Inbox, but also items from your Sent Items folder so you get a complete picture of the conversation.

Ignore Threads: I hate it when I get copied on something with a bunch of other people and then get a bunch of Reply All's from some of the people that say "Stop sending me this info" or "Remove me from this message." Now there's a function called Ignore Thread that when chosen, will automatically move all future incoming messages for a selected thread to the Deleted Items folder.

Calendar View in E-Mail: If you receive a calendar invite, you can actually see your calendar around the invite's timeframe in a window embedded inside the invite. You don't have to switch to your calendar and find the date and time to view your availability. Sweet!

Calendar Groups: This is a way to add people to a group so that you can quickly display the calendars of everyone in the group. For example, suppose you want to set up a meeting with the folks that work for you. You can set up a calendar group that, when clicked, will show you their calendars compared to yours, and you can see where there are holes in the overall schedule. Seems much faster than the current Outlook method!

To see more, check them out at Enjoy!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Haven't Used Google 411 Yet? You Should! Here's My First Attempt

I needed to get some information about a local area store because I wasn't sure of the location and didn't know the phone number. Having my handy dandy spiffy new iPhone, and having heard about how good the Google 411 system is, I decided to see how far this thing could take me. Here's what happened.

After dialing 1-800-GOOG-411 (that's 1-800-466-4411) from my iPhone, I was greeted by a pleasant male voice, no accent, very mid-West sounding. He asked for the city and state. I said them and he responded almost immediately by repeating what I'd said. Then he asked for the person or place I wanted. I said the business name, and pretty quickly he came back with a list of 8 numbered items. He told me that I could say the number of the item I wanted as he told me the info for each one. At the third one, I said "number three" and he said he would connect me. OR I could say "details" and he would read them to me. OR I could say "text message" and he'd send the info via text. I said "text message" and I swear before I could finish saying the phrase, the message appeared on my screen. The message showed me the company name, the address, the phone number, and a link to a map. Being the curious sort, I jumped right in and clicked the link to the map. The iPhone Maps app opened and showed me the location of the store. The location also happened to have Street View so I could look around to see where the store is located. I recognized the area and knew right away where it was.

I just can't say enough good things about this scenario. Within 2 minutes, not only did I have the information about the store that I needed, but I also had a map location of the store and was able to verify the store's location by actually looking around the neighborhood. And all of this happened from my desk! Oh and all of this is free. Wow, just wow.....

Now, there is a bit of a hitch in all this gushing, because I wanted to put the info into my Contacts list, but couldn't figure out how to get it easily out of the text message and into Contacts. What to do? I highlighted the message, did a copy, created a new contact, and pasted the info into the Notes section of the contact. Then I copied line-by-line from the Notes into the different fields of the contact. If there's an easier way, please jot it down in the comments -- it would be much appreciated!!

By the way, notice I've said "he" and not "it" throughout. My interaction with Google 411 was just natural back and forth and the voice was very real sounding (kinda scary if I stop to think about how natural and calm our future robotic overloads can sound). Maybe by calling this system "he" I'll be spared during the uprising..... (grin)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Cute One, from Joke of the Day

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it was, and always will be yours.

If it never returns, it was never yours to begin with.

If it just sits in your room, messes up your stuff, eats your food, uses your phone, takes your money, and never behaves as if you actually set it free in the first place, you either married it or gave birth to it.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

TMZ App on iPhone

I'm not one to follow the "celebrity sites," but some friends recently turned me on to the TMZ app for iPhone. I've been playing around with the app and have found some interesting things. For one, it's been showing info about the death (won't say murder yet but we probably know better) of Steve McNair of the Ravens (and the Titans). I never really thought about ball players as being celebs like Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, and Taylor Hicks, all of whom are mentioned today.

In addition to the writeup, the app also displays a small picture in the upper left-hand corner that when tapped, often displays a set of photos to skim through. And there are plenty of videos as well. Pretty cool. Today, there's a timeline in pictures year-by-year of Michael Jackson that's kinda horrifying toward and into the 2000's -- methinks he was a tortured soul to so drastically change himself like that.....

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Looking for a Bluetooth Headphone for Your iPhone? Check THIS Out

I got the Sony Ericsson HBH-DS205 Bluetooth Stereo Headset dongle earlier today. I've been using it all afternoon with my iPhone and I've been quite impressed. This is one of those Bluetooth dongles where I can plug in my own headphones. For me, I'm using the Sony MDREX55LP in-ear earbuds. They have great sound, lots of bass, and isolate outside noise pretty well (important when riding on the cacophonous subway).

In this picture, here's my car key and a quarter, then the HTC Bluetooth dongle, the Sony, and the Tritton.

So far, here's what I've found it will do:

- Play music without stuttering. I can't tell you how many reviews I've read where the Bluetooth headphones will stutter every few seconds. This stuttering happened with my HTC Bluetooth dongle connected with iPhone. The HTC dongle, used with either the HTC Fuze or the Advantage, would not stutter. Same manufacturer, I guess, for all the pieces means good connectivity.

- It will automatically connect to iPhone when turning it on. The Tritton I had before would not autoconnect. I had to use iPhone's Settings app and force the connection.

- The Sony Ericsson will answer incoming calls by pressing the Action button. I can also hold down the Action button on an incoming call and it will be rejected and sent to voicemail.

- The Action button will let me transfer the call from iPhone to the headphone so I can go private if I've been using iPhone's speaker for group calls.

- The Volume controls are *very* easy to use. Slide the button up to raise the volume and down to lower it.

- The Action button will pause/play music. I've used this with iPhone's iPod, and with Pandora and ooTunes.

- Double-clicking the Action button will redial my last outgoing number.

- When charging, the dongle doesn't turn off (unlike with my HTC dongle). The Tritton dongle would also stay on when charging.

- The distance is great. I can get across the room from iPhone before I lose the connection. This is convenient when working around the office or the den because I can leave iPhone connected to power, yet still listen through headphones.

- The Tritton shorted out from sweating during my workouts, I think, because of the way it's made. When clipped onto a t-shirt collar, one side will be next to the skin. On one side there's the on/off switch and on the other is the control buttons, so some part of the electronics was being sweated upon. I always wore it with the on/off switch against my skin so that I could easily access the volume and action buttons. With the Sony Ericsson clip, sweating won't be a problem because the part that clips to my t-shirt collar and touching my skin is just a piece of plastic, and not actually any electronic part of the dongle.

There's one caveat with these Bluetooth dongles. I have the problem with this new one, and also had the problem with the other two. When watching a movie, I find that the audio and video aren't in sync -- especially annoying when a person in close-up is speaking. To get around the problem on WinMo, I used a program called CorePlayer because it allowed me to adjust the sound so that it was sent to the dongle about .75 seconds before the movie was displayed on-screen. This made the audio and video sync perfectly. Unfortunately, until Apple adds some similar adjustment to iPhone, I'll have to directly connect my headphones to the audio jack.

All in all, this dongle is highly recommended just after one day of use. I'll update this entry if I find out anything different from what's gone on today.

By the way, don't get it from the Sony Style stores or their on-line because it's $150. I got mine from Amazon for $79 plus $20 for overnight shipping. Other places may have similar or better prices so shop around!

Update: I've been having some problems when answering the phone while in ooTunes or Pandora. Something happens and I almost always have to tell iPhone to route the music back to the headset after the call is complete. Otherwise, it's been a great setup!

Update: As I'm reading about other headphones like the Motorola, it seems this is common on the iPhone. It isn't a problem now that I'm used to it -- I was just not expecting it to act this way because I never had this issue with Windows Mobile. I guess Apple will fix this as their Bluetooth software matures.