MattD, over at TechGrid, has had his home office shown on web sites far and wide. In fact, it’s likely you recognize the shot above, from the second iteration of his home office, the one that got so much publicity on the web when he unveiled it back in 2007. Back then, rumors flew about who the owner was and what he did for a living that he could afford so much high-end gear in a home office, and what he did for a living that necessitated it.
While we still don’t know much about Matt’s life beyond TechGrid, we do know that he hasn’t stopped working on his home office, and in the most recent iteration, he’s put in some new flooring and furniture and paid attention to a part of the room that means a lot to me: his DJ nook, complete with audio gear and turntables, and some really awesome posters on the wall (all three of which I would love to have in my home!)
Head on over to TechGrid to see the latest evolution of his home office, and then start planning how you’ll up the ante with your own home workspace, if you have one!
Just because the Red Cross is a non-profit organization doesn’t mean they can’t have a little fun sometimes! And since I tend to pay a good bit of attention to social media and social media campaigns, I noticed when the folks at the Red Cross made this little mixup with their Twitter account. The result? The above image.
Anyone who’s ever managed multiple Twitter accounts or been responsible for an “official” Twitter account as well as their personal one can empathize with what the folks at the Red Cross had to deal with – and since nothing on the Internet these days is as simple as deleting the offending tweet and moving on, they deleted the tweet, made sure to tweet that there was an error in the first place, and then move on. It’s also worth noting that a couple of breweries (including Dogfish Head!) stepped up with some donations shortly after the faux pas!
Honestly, their reaction was the best way to go about it – by acknowledging the error they didn’t try to artificially wipe it away, and they wound up garnering positive reaction from their community. After all, who wouldn’t have laughed and offered to join in? #gettngslizzerd
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, everyone – where we’re all feverishly looking for the perfect gifts for the people in our lives. If you haven’t started your holiday shopping (like me, sad to admit) it’s about time! Oh, but what do you get for the geek in your life that’s looking for a techy present under the tree or in their stockinig this holiday season? Well, I have a few suggestions.
Granted, just like every year, everyone is doing holiday gift guides, but this one is a little different, and a little more fun. Ready? Head behind the jump to see five gift ideas that’ll make any technophile happy this holiday season!
If you have an iPad, or you think you’ll get one this holiday, the first thing you’ll want to know is what you should install on the thing. Don’t get me wrong – the iPad is great for listening to music, watching Web video, checking your e-mail, surfing the Web, and tons of other things right out of the box, but you can really extend its functionality by adding some great (and in many cases free) apps to it.
To help, PC Mag has put together a great list of 50 amazing apps for the iPad that will help you be more productive, squeeze more use from your iPad, or just have more fun with it. Some of my favorites in the list are games like Angry Birds, Geometry Wars, and Dungeon Hunter, but you can also use your iPad to get a little work done with apps like AirDisplay and iWork.
Kick back and relax with a book using the Kindle app, or listen to music using the Pandora app, or watch a movie instantly using the Netflix app. There are tons to choose from, and the list is definitely a must-bookmark if you have an iPad or you’re planning to get one.
If you’re looking for some really slick apps for your mobile phone, look no further than PC Mag’s massive roundup of 100 awesome free apps for your mobile device, no matter what operating system it’s running. If you have an iPhone, you’ve got 40 great free apps in the list to choose from! Using a Motorola Droid (like me) or an Samsung Moment? There are 20 awesome apps in there for Android mobile phones to! Even if you’re all business and rocking a Blackberry Storm 2, you can find 20 apps in the list to help you pass the time on those long business flights. There are even some generic free games and 10 Windows Mobile apps for those of you with Windows Mobile devices!
Because the roundup is strictly free apps, you’ll miss out on some of the high-end apps that may require you to pay to download them, but the list is incredible comprehensive and has a ton of useful applications that can help you do everything from shop on the go to check your travel plans at the drop of a hat to compare prices on an item in the store to items online to stay in touch with your friends while you’re out and about town.
If you read the roundup and you’re itching for some more great apps for your mobile device, or if you’re a Symbian user and don’t see yourself represented here, head over to Popular Science and check out my roundup of Must Have Mobile Apps to help bolster your list!
MotionBox is well known as one of the leading video sharing sites that already has support for true HD streaming video, downloadable media, and the ability to control who sees your video. Whether you want to share your videos with the world or you want to keep some of them private to friends and family, MotionBox has plans and tools to help you do that. Additionally, if you’re looking for a way to add some flare and spice to your blog or business, MotionBox can host your video somewhere that isn’t YouTube, for example, or one of the other popular video hosting services, and you can re-post and embed your content anywhere you choose.
The beauty of MotionBox is that even though other video hosting services have their hooks into mobile devices and camcorders, they still manage to make it easy for you to upload, edit, and share your video with the world whenever you choose.
MotionBox previously had both free and premium accounts: the free accounts give you the option to give the service a whirl, store and upload a limited number of videos, edit them online, and create DVDs and eCards using your own video for an added cost. Premium accounts allow you to upload virtually as many videos as you choose, securely share the ones you want to keep private with only the people you want to see them, upload and stream movies in HD, and even allow certain people to download the videos you allow them to.
Last week, MotionBox announced a new account type: MotionBox Pro, which allows commercial and business users to sign up for the service, and offers them unique streaming and editing tools to make video sharing work for their organization. Pro users also get priority video encoding, so you don’t have to wait as long to upload your video and have it be available for people to see, and you get all of the benefits that the premium accounts provide as well!
To celebrate the announcement, MotionBox is giving away a few Roku digital set-top boxes to select users who sign up for MotionBox this month – all you have to do to enter the contest is sign up for an account and e-mail their contest address with the subject line “Roku Giveaway!” Yes, before you ask, the contest includes the free accounts – so whether you’re a business user or a personal user looking to post your videos to the Web without dealing with YouTube commenters, you can get in on the action as well!
For more information, head over to MotionBox to learn more, see how much the premium and new pro accounts cost, and sign up today!
[ MotionBox ]
Microsoft announced last week that they would be discontinuing their Mac-based e-mail application, Entourage, and instead shipping a full version of Outlook with the next version of Microsoft Office for Mac, due out in 2011, if previous trends hold.
Quoth the Microsoft:
Outlook for Mac releasing in the next version reflects the team’s commitment to further develop the Mac’s leading productivity suite. This new application will deliver significant changes — ultimately allowing for increased productivity across platforms, which continues to be the top request of enterprise customers. The MacBU today shared a few of the features that will be in Outlook for Mac, including these:
• Cocoa. Built from the ground up using Cocoa providing users with improved integration with the Mac OS
• New database. A high-speed file-based database with support for backing up files with Time Machine and Spotlight searching
• Information Rights Management. Helps prevent sensitive information from being distributed to or read by people who do not have permission to access the content
“Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server have been a cornerstone of communications and collaboration for our enterprise customers,” said Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of the Office product management group at Microsoft. “Today’s release of the Web Services Edition strengthens Exchange connectivity for Entourage customers and sets the stage for the move to the new application — Outlook for Mac. These updates continue Microsoft and the MacBU’s tradition of delivering the most complete solution to help customers manage their time, and better share their information and collaborate with others.”
I’m glad to hear that Microsoft will take the lessons that it learned from Entourage and apply them to what Mac users look for in a high-end e-mail client when buildling Outlook for the Mac. There hasn’t been an Outlook for Mac since Outlook 97, which only ran in OS 9 and in “Classic,” a feature that many new Mac users have probably never even heard of.
Quick primer: back when OS X was new, in order to ease the pain of moving to entirely new operating system and processing environment, Apple included “Classic” with OS X installations, which allowed users to essentially emulate (using Rosetta) Mac OS 9 under the hood and run apps that were only supported in versions of Mac OS prior to OS X. You essentially needed a full OS 9 installation under the hood to make this work, but it worked – and kept apps like Outlook 97 alive. Classic died forever when Apple made the shift to x86 hardware, away from IBM’s PowerPC architecture, and isn’t even supported in Mac OS 10.5, the current version of the OS.
Entourage is an excellent app, don’t get me wrong – it’s great at getting mail, helping you stay organized, and being an all around stellar personal information management tool – if you really dig into it and make it the hub of your contacts, your appointments, and your email, it works really well. The problem is that Entourage never really fully supported Exchange the way its users expected it to, and it was woefully lacking in advanced features that gave it a home in the enterprise, and that Microsoft Outlook users on the PC-side enjoyed (and in many cases, thought were critical.) I liked Entourage a lot, but always thought it was about 85% of what it really ought to be.
There are probably a number of reasons why Microsoft is making this move now – aside from the desire to improve the strength of the Office for Mac product line, and the wishes of its userbase and of IT departments around the world that are being inundated with Macs that their techs probably don’t know how to support, Microsoft has another major competitor to deal with: Mail.app.
Apple announced earlier this year that along with Snow Leopard and the iPhone 3.0 software upgrade would come an updated Mail.app that featured full and true Exchange support. What does that really mean? Well, if Mail.app, Address Book, and other embedded applications that come with Mac OS are not only integrated with each other, but can be seamlessly tied in with Exchange, there’s little reason for an IT department to be concerned with a Mac user’s lack of integration, and considering the strength of tools like iWork (Pages is a stellar word processor and desktop publishers, and there’s no debating Keynote’s superiority over PowerPoint) and the fact that iWork opens MS Office documents, you have to wonder why someone would use Office for Mac at all.
It’s likely that these improvements to Office for Mac are designed not only to strengthen their product, but to ensure that have a competitive product against Apple’s own bundled desktop apps and productivity suite – Mac users who use iWork and prefer the convenience of Mail.app and the other bundled core apps may very well decide not to purchase Office for Mac in the future unless there’s a real reason to – and Outlook for Mac very well may be that reason, if Microsoft does it right.
Microsoft giveth, and Microsoft taketh away. Last week Microsoft announced that the shipping date of the upcoming Microsoft Office 2007 suite of productivity applications, including new versions of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, were going to be pushed back a few months from the October 2006 date that it announced in March to “end of the year 2006″ for volume licensees and retail versions should appear “early 2007.” Microsoft claims that the announcement is to give developers more time to respond to and encorporate feedback and suggestions from the Office 2007 Beta 2 release a few months ago, from which Microsoft reportedly attained a wealth of information from users who gave the office suite an official spin for their daily work. There are rumors that Microsoft is aiming at a joint Windows Vista, Office 2007 simultaneous launch, but those rumors go unconfirmed, and in fact a Vista spokesperson is quoted as saying that “The (Office 20007) announcement today does not impact Windows Vista timing.”
At the same time, however, Microsoft announced that you can “test drive” Office 2007 at their website; take it out for a spin on your own to explore the new “ribbon” menu and function system built into the interface, and try some of the other new integrated features in the office suite. Lifehacker took a screenshot tour of it here: [ Lifehacker :: Test Drive Office 2007 ]
They explain that the test drive is a little hard to get started and requires that you use Internet Explorer (of course) but once you’ve got it started, it’ll give you a good feel for how to get around the new applications, but most importantly gives you an opportunity to try out the “ribbon,” love it or hate it.
I can attest to this article being fact. I don’t know if I’d say “traumatized,” since that’s a pretty harsh word, but I can definitely say there have been some days (like today) where I wonder if I’m not slowly losing my grip on sanity, and it looks like I’m not alone by any means. Turns out that a vast majority of technology professionals understand how I’m feeling, and I get what they’re thinking. The reasons for why technology professionals feel this way are multifold; partially because technology consultants, administrators, support staff, and workers are in many cases viewed as “white-collar janitors” by many people, and because they’re only called upon when something is either broken, wrong, or needed by people who can’t do it themselves, they’re often treated horribly by those who call on them. Additionally, technology is often tossed at the bottom of the corporate ladder, with the least in the way of resources and equipment, but having to deal with people who have the best equipment and resources but need their help to make it work; technology is percieved as a “service” industry, to be treated as such, often with little more respect than is commonly seen in retail or other service professions.
The article, however, has some good points as well, beyond my own personal experiences-including how our society has cultured a constant and neverending 24/7 marketplace, a workplace where hyperactivity and hyperproductivity are rewarded, and the scourge of impoliteness in our offices and workplaces. I agree with all of those points, but would definitely toss in my own; as long as technology workers are supposed to behave in a “customer focused” and not “task focused” mindset, and are expected to cowtow to those who call them and allow themselves to be walked on, then technology professionals will always feel downtrodden and ill respected. Until then, I can only support my colleagues and hope we can all find some measure of reprieve someday, either in the form of therapy, or a promotion away from the stressful positions that many of us find ourselves in.
(image courtesy of Google Blogoscoped)
Google quietly signed up several people for the beta for their Google Spreadsheets application today, providing a select few access to what will eventually most likely become Google’s newest web-based offering among its already-impressive suite of services. Admittedly after the successfuly launch of Google’s calendar application, a spreadsheet isn’t horribly far off, but the question does remain, who is this service for and what is its target audience?
With headlines like Google Takes Aim at Excel and so on, its obvious that many analysts believe that Google is moving progressively in the direction of creating and marketing an Ajax/Web 2.0-ish office suite of applications that are linked to its popular GMail and Google Calendar services; luring people away from the Microsoft Office suite of products. However, whether or not this is their real aim is still a matter up for debate. In the meantime, the story has hit news sources like the New York Times, which is taking an in depth look at the new Google Spreadsheets beta and puts it in context of developing a web-based set of applications and services that will take the need for desktop applications away.
In the meantime, Google Blogoscoped [ http://blog.outer-court.com/ ] has a few demo videos of the new service and a preliminary review that overall, looks positively on the new service; saying that usability is quite good and many of the commonly used and best features of any spreadsheet application are right there in your browser when you use Google Spreadsheets.