I’ve had an interesting and varied journey through the sphere as a blogger with the exceptional good fortune to have been involved with three great communities of writers at the OfficeZealot.com portal, Weblogs, Inc.
James Farrar focuses on the business balance between financial performance and social-environmental impact.
I've been using the new Virtual Phone Booth from Plantronics for the past few weeks and it has utterly transformed my Skype (and Gizmo and Google Talk) experience. Formerly, I have either relied on the built-in microphone and speakers on my laptops (with the attendant howling and echoing that too often seems to plague VoIP calls) or used the excellent but too-bulky-for-travel Plantronics DSP 500 headset. That big unit has been a great solution for voice recognition and podcasting but is not exactly comfortable or convenient for all-day work.
I've been using the latest model from the folks at LapWorks - the Futura - for a while now and was delighted to see that every attendee at the recent Gnomedex conference received one as a premium for attending. It's a nice sturdy unit that provides two form factors - a flat desk surface when you have no desk or table available and an elevated wedge stand when you do.
Zoho announced early this morning that they've taken the first steps toward making Zoho Writer available as an offline app using the Google Gears tool. Initially the docs saved offline will be read only but full offline functionality is planned.
Scott Gilbertson, writing at Compiler on Wired News posted a pretty inflammatory piece titled "The iPhone is Internet Explorer 4 All Over Again". As you might imagine, the comment thread is long, heated at times, and populated with the expected mix of "you're an idiot!" and thoughtful replies both positive and negative. Gilbertson is essentially trying to argue that Apple gets a pass on stuff that would (and has) gotten Microsoft into big trouble and unloved.
I picked up a copy of iWork '08, the new update to Apple's productivity suite, the other day and have been noodling around in it since I installed it on my MacBook and my wife's iMac. It's a worthy upgrade for two principal reasons in my opinion: the significant improvements made to Pages (document processor) and the addition of Numbers, a new layout-oriented spreadsheet application. I'm not going to do a full, feature-by-feature review here – there's plenty of those already on the tubes. I just want to address the notion that this signals some throwing down of a gauntlet by Apple in front of Microsoft. It doesn't.
I've been unable to access Skype all day and it turns out it's not just me. User from around the world are reporting the service is down and impacting personal and business communications for potentially millions of people. There's not a lot of information available at this time. Here's what Skype posted on their blog earlier today...
Skype has just released a beta version of Skype 2.7 for the Mac with Chat groups, Address Book integration and more. Downloading it now. I live in Skype – it's my office number and preferred IM and video chat environment. I also use Gizmo Project (especially on the Nokia N95 and N800) and a number of IM clients but the bulk of my contacts and friends are on Skype so that's where I look first. These enhancements will make it all the more useful and bring things more on a par with the capabilities I already enjoy when working on the Tablet PC.
Chris Glass has posted a terrific set of images sized perfectly to be used as wallpaper on the iPhone. My personal favorite (and the one that's replaced Van Gogh's Starry Night - at least for now) is pictured here. I love robots - especially ones that transform! What can I say?
So a funny thing happened this week. After 4+ years covering events and blogging about them live, I attended Gnomedex, the Blogosphere's Conference, this past week in Seattle and I didn't blog a thing. More about why below. Gnomedex is an event I've always wanted to attend. I've known Chris Pirillo for years. Every year Chris asks me if I'm attending and every year I've had one bad excuse or another for not attending. But after last year's event – a watershed moment in this conference's history – I resolved to make it to Gnomedex 7.0 no matter what.
Media Temple is my hosting provider for my new personal blog and a few web projects I'm currently developing. This morning, they announced a web-based control center specifically designed for the iPhone that allows customers to manage their accounts, add domains, reboot servers, pay bills, and more from the iPhone from a very Apple-esque UI. It's one of the best designs I've encountered to date for the iPhone and provides an anytime, anywhere portal for me to manage my (mt) account.
I'm heading up to Seattle for Gnomedex which kicks off tomorrow evening. I'm looking forward to seeing a bunch of my friends and making some new ones too. There should be a lot to blog about from this event which Chris and Ponzi Pirillo, the organizers, have dubbed the Blogosphere's Conference.
Claritude Software has announced version 2.0 of their SpeedFiler add-in for Microsoft Outlook 2003 and 2007. This utility makes processing and clearing your inbox a much less onerous chore and the new version adds a few welcome new features and a blast of performance tuning.
When I read stuff like this, it confirms my belief that there's something very broken in the world of Vista. Here's a very knowledgeable user and talented developer who's confounded and befuddled by a well-documented and still unaddressed issue affecting Vista users running Internet Explorer 7. The problem manifests itself as an annoying and increasingly frequent hang or time-out during which the PC is essentially rendered useless. This is not a productivity enhancing experience folks. This is a huge time sink.
This is bad news for those of us who need some of the advanced functionality in Mac Office to collaborate with folks in the Windows world. Track Changes, in particular, is a compatibility issue that keep from from switching off Microsoft entirely on the Mac. It's so commonly used in the work I do that I simply can't afford to rely on another suite or set of products. I was pretty excited about the changes I've been hearing about in this next release but I guess I'll just have to continue muddling along with Office 2004 on my MacBook a while longer.