Pinnacle TV for Mac: A Great Gift
In this down economy, people have been asking me (since I have a reputation as a gadget freak) what would be great gifts for this holiday season and would be ones with "a high geek factor and a low price."
The Flip Mino HD has been one I've recommended at $229 as has this Asus netbook at $329.
Usually I've rarely had good luck with low-end products that purport to do big things that more expensive gear performs, but the two above are exceptions to that rule.  So I was naturally skeptical when the box arrived for me to evaluate the $129 Pinnacle TV for Mac HD USB mini stick (more info on it here).
I opened it up, installed the software, and waited the 15 minutes or so that it took to seek out all the possible stations in my area the included antenna could pick up. To say that I was stunned, surprised and delighted when suddenly a gorgeous high definition TV station appeared on my Apple 24" Cinema display, would be doing this little product a disservice!
Every available over-the-air station worked flawlessly and it was easy to switch back-n-forth between channels. As I fooled around with it and viewed some content, I realized how much I would've loved having this device when the debates were going on (too often I had stuff to do at my desk and could've had live TV running watching them, instead of having to record the first half and watch it later).

After several days of using TitanTV (the online listing service) and trying out the personal video recording (PVR) functions, getting a signal became more problematic for some reason. Could be my location in the house (my home office is in front while most towers are located directionally behind my house) so I connected it to my in-attic antenna with the outlet in my office. Perfect once again (though I never did figure out why it was great and then intermittent).

A screengrab of a kids animated show on my local PBS affiliate and it was spectacular!
Next, I brought the Pinnacle TV upstairs along with my Macbook Pro and tried it out with the included antenna. NOW I had zero trouble with the included antenna signal since our second floor is up high and with perfect sightlines to where the broadcast towers would be. As such, I'm using it upstairs often.
This HD stick is certainly not a replacement for an HDTV or digital video recorder combination, but for traveling, in a home office, bedroom or spare room, it's a remarkably good solution, especially for the laughingly small $129 price point.
The Pinnacle TV for Mac HD USB mini stick is now on my strong recommendation list due to its "perfect high geek factor and low price."  That said, I'm also strongly recommending it for non-geeks since it's so simple to setup and use. Check it out for yourself and see.
from google
november 2008
Optoma's palm-sized video projector looks great
Filed under: Multimedia, Video, iPod classic
Optoma's tiny Pico projector has caught our attention. This small device (50mm x 103mm x 15mm) weighs four ounces and features up to 2 hours of battery life, an LED lamp with a lifespan of 20,000 hours and mini USB connectivity. The manufacturers claim that images can be viewed at 60" (measured diagonal from corner to corner) from a maximum distance of 2.6 meters. The AV Input combines stereo audio and composite video via a 1 x 2.5mm 4 pole jack socket.In the video above, it's connected to an iPod Classic and the image looks pretty good. Of course, our experience is only as good as the quality of the clip, but it definitley looks like a fun device. Videos, images and even slide presentations could be run off of your iPod and pocket projector, eliminating the need to bring a laptop, adaptor and full-sized projector to your meeting.The proof is in the pudding, and we'd like to get our hands on one of these. Optoma says they'll start selling sometime next year with a price point around $400US. TUAWOptoma's palm-sized video projector looks great originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Fri, 14 Nov 2008 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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from google
november 2008
Coda 1.6 released, offers plug-in support
Filed under: Internet Tools, Developer
A cheery little dialog box informed me just a few minutes ago that Coda 1.6 is available from the fine folks at Panic.

Coda is a one-window web-development and editing environment that is one of my favorite apps, and one that we've covered here before.

Coda 1.6 introduces a plug-in architecture that extends Coda's already pretty robust text-editing functionality. With Coda Plug-in Creator, even users who aren't familiar with Cocoa can create plugins, which follow a similar format to TextMate's command bundles. The plug-in functionality mirrors that of up-and-comer Espresso, with its Sugar plug-ins. Espresso is still in beta.

Also included in the update is the Open Quickly command: a Spotlight-like command that searches your sites for files to open. Hit Control+Q to show the Open Quickly window, type a few characters, and open one of the files listed to get to work.

On top of that, Coda improves spell checking support, and now includes an Objective-J syntax mode. Full release notes are available here.

Coda 1.6 is available from Panic's website, or from inside the app by selecting "Check for Updates" from the Coda menu.
TUAWCoda 1.6 released, offers plug-in support originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Tue, 11 Nov 2008 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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from google
november 2008
IPhone 2.2 coming on November 21...just in time for Thanksgiving
iPhone Hellas (via Giz) is hella sure that the newest version of the iPhone OS 2.2 (including the Google Maps features, application scoring and direct download of podcasts) is going to be ready to go in time for you to show the whole family on Thanksgiving. Will it have Push notifications? No, but maybe for Christmas ...if you are good.
november 2008
Loferno Firepit
Very well built and cool looking metal firepit. Nice.
november 2008
Snow Leopard to see HFS+ compression, default gamma switch
Details of Apple's first Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard build for developers since WWDC have been published on the web, including confirmation of a Cocoa Finder and HFS+ compression.
october 2008
Apple's System Preference icon goes Green
Filed under: Apple Corporate, Odds and ends, Apple, Macbook Pro, MacBook With the introduction of EPEAT Gold rated MacBooks and MacBook Pros last week, Apple has definitely been warming up to the environmental movement lately. So, it was only fitting that they would change a small part of System Preferences to reflect the EPEAT rating. That's right, the Energy Saver icon has changed from an old incandescent bulb to a newer, more energy-efficient fluorescent bulb. Now you will only have to change the energy saver icon every 7 years, but be careful when you dispose of the old icons because they contain mercury (just kidding). This change has only shown up on the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Do you think Apple will eventually update their entire line to have this new icon (and, of course, be EPEAT Gold rated)? We definitely hope so! Thanks to everyone who sent this in! Read
october 2008
1TB hard drives dipping below $100 retail for the first time
Another milestone has been reached as hard drives keep getting bigger and bigger and cheaper and cheaper. The sub 10 cent Gigabyte era is upon us as a few retailers are selling 1TB hard drives for $100. Frequent 9to5mac.com advertisers, Other World Computing are offering Samsung Spinpoint P drives for $99.
october 2008
It's FOX News Channel vs. The Middle Class
Raw Numbers:
FNCMSNBCCNNACORN70667112AYERS525340279Economy8261032954"middle class"137170163
A special thanks to Beyond Media for loaning me an evaluation unit of a Snapstream Enterprise Server, which I used to generate these numbers.
october 2008
A Peek At Brightkite For the iPhone
Brightkite, a geo-aware social network from the TechStars class of 2007, has given us a peek at the site’s upcoming iPhone application, due to appear in the App Store in the next few weeks (pending Apple’s approval process).

Brightkite’s featureset will be familiar to users of similar applications like Loopt. The app allows users to syndicate their current location to their friends, meet nearby Brightkite users, and lifestream with the equivalent of geo-encoded Tweets. The application is tied to Yahoo’s Fire Eagle, which allows users to manage their location from a number of other services. The site also uses databases to automatically associate POI’s and cross streets with GPS locations, so user positions aren’t simply displayed as coordinates.

The application looks impressive, but it will have plenty of competition: there’s already at least six major geo-location networks vying to get some traction on the iPhone. Founder Martin May acknowledges that Brightkite shares many similarities with other geo-enabled social networks, but points out that Brightkite is available worldwide, while most of its competitors are not. He also says that Brightkite’s SMS integration and existing user base of 50,000 users through its website and other mobile platforms may also help give it a leg up, though some of its competitors have estbalished users bases and distributions on other platforms as well.

If you’d like to try Brightkite’s main website (you’ll have to wait a few more days for the iPhone app), you can sign up for the private beta through this special link.

Disclosure: Brightkite competitor Loopt should be considered a TechCrunch sponsor.

Crunch Network: CrunchBase the free database of technology companies, people, and investors
from google
october 2008
FRONTLINE: the choice 2008 | PBS
Watching Frontline: The Choice. Good show.
from twitter
october 2008
I told you so: bankers are brainless
Nassim Taleb interview in the Times.
october 2008
Interesting possibilities for MacBook dock
As you can see from the Chinese spy shots below, the new MacBooks will have all I/O ports on the left and optical drive on the right. While this seems somewhat trivial, it does enable one of the more interesting patents of recent memory to become a reality. The 'iMac dock'. It is also interesting to note that the ports generally line up between the smaller and large laptops. Will we see a dock on Tuesday? Thanks to Gizmodo for for the mockup Update: Check up this image from the comments:
october 2008
Apple working on networked HDTV?
Apple hasnt really had the same experience with AppleTV. While there are many compelling reasons to get one, it isnt a "must have". Yet. Perhaps if Apple innovated up the value chain making some heavy duty equipment with the ability to play videos (please Apple, acknowledge other file formats besides .mp4 and .mov) from a media server. Or just put a 1Tb drive in the AppleTV model of the HDTV and a H.264 encoder and let me have my way with my media library.
october 2008
SlideShowPro for Lightroom
Really powerful slideshow module for Lightroom.
october 2008
17-85 Exposed - FM Forums
Fred Miranda takes apart a 17-85 IS lens. Lots of rings.
october 2008
No Shame Left In Politics
To be honest, there’s really little shame left in the country (world?) in general, but in politics, it’s effectively non-existent.

I could write all day about this topic, or have a post-a-day for a very long time. Instead, I’ll cram it in to this one post.

First, John McCain. Two recent giant disappointments. I was appalled when people called it a stunt that he suspended his campaign to return to Washington to work on the bailout bill. In the end, they were correct, even if that wasn’t his intention all along. While he returned to Washington for the weekend after the debate, he did not stick around (or work hard enough) to get it passed the following week. Clearly, it wasn’t his most important priority.

The second McCain disappointment is even more appalling though. One of his most often repeated stump speeches is how he will veto any bill that includes pork in it. Further, he claims he will name names, and make the sponsors of the pork famous. Well, as urgent as the bailout supposedly was/is, it is loaded with pork, and McCain voted yes. Of course he couldn’t have vetoed it, but he could have shown the courage to say that regardless of how important the bill was, he could not in good conscience vote for it as long as it represented politics-as-usual.

Next, Congress in general (both sides of the aisle), but Democrats in particular. The sub-prime mess is a direct outgrowth of the desire of Democrats to give away housing to those who can’t afford it. It gets really complicated after that generalization. I may write a long post on that some day as well (I was on the inside on Wall Street in the 80’s, supporting the mortgage business, and I invested in a sub-prime lending technology company as a VC), but this isn’t that post.

Clip after clip shows clearly that both the Bush Administration, and specifically John McCain (in addition to other House and Senate Republicans), were calling for more regulation and better oversight for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Democrats (specifically Barney Frank, Christopher Dodd and Charles Schumer) consistently defended Fannie and Freddie, and continued to praise the people we now know were clearly defrauding the public (through accounting shenanigans and other wrong-doing).

Those Democratic leaders simply won’t apologize for being wrong (I’m not suggesting they knew the extent of the wrong-doing, just say you made a mistake!). Worse, they continue to blame Bush and the Republicans for their desire to deregulate. That’s a heinous lie (blatantly obvious from watching any of the testimony from 2003 onwards!), and is beyond shameless.

The Republicans may not be worse, but they have no reason to consider themselves above the fray. Saying stupid things, whether for political gain or not (and whether they work or not) is simply shameless. When the bailout bill was defeated in the House the first time around, Congressman Eric Cantor held up the text of Nancy Pelosi’s speech, and chided her for giving a partisan speech and turning just enough Republicans off to cause the vote to fail.

There’s simply no good way to spin that. First, if true, shame on the Republicans for allowing a speech to change their vote. You should be voting your conscience, not your ego. Second, if it’s not true, then he shouldn’t have said it, just to give Republicans cover, and attempt to embarrass Pelosi. Third, Pelosi was stupid to inject partisanship into something that clearly required Republican support.

Most important in that first failed bailout vote was the lack of Democratic support, and the complete lack of honesty associated with the reasoning behind it. Aside from the fact that the Democrats control both houses, and could have passed the bill without a single Republican vote, all the Democrats needed was for the 12 Democrats who sit on Barney Frank’s committee (who voted no) to have voted yes, for it to have passed!

Folks, here’s the head of the House Financial Services committee, and one of the top supporters of Fannie and Freddie, cheerleading the bill, and his own committee members (I’m speaking specifically of the Democrats!) vote against it. These are the people who should be most familiar with the issues and the reasons why the bill needed to be passed. Yet, in the face of this, Barney Frank has no trouble playing to the cameras and offering to speak to any Republican whose feelings were hurt by Pelosi’s speech. Incredible!

Lastly (on the Congressional side), we have reports that Pelosi specifically absolved Democrats (in advance!) from voting against the bill, because they were in tight re-election campaigns, and needed to say they voted against the bill. Either the bill is that important, and couldn’t afford to fail (for the good of the entire country!), or, re-electing Democrats is much more important, and it’s OK if the country goes into a depression in order for that to happen. Again, shameless!

Finally, Barack Obama. I don’t ascribe any ill-will to Obama in regards to his love of this country and his desire to lead it honorably. That said, he’s exactly like every other politician (McCain included) who not only will do anything to get elected (there’s zero change there folks!), but he’s also every bit as calculated, for many years, to get to be the President.

I don’t believe that because he associated with William Ayers and his wife that he condones domestic terrorism. I do believe that he knowingly associated with them in order to further his own political agenda.

I don’t believe that because he was a member of Reverend Wright’s church that he beleives the heinous things that Reverend Wright regularly spewed. I do believe that Obama wanted the street cred that came with being a member of that particular church in order to further his political ambitions. I do believe that he well knew exactly what Reverend Wright was preaching (regardless of his claims to the contrary).

His ties to Tony Rezko are blatantly obvious. It’s not that Rezko is a convicted criminal that should matter. It’s that Obama directly engaged in dealings with him that personally benefited Obama!

To all of the above (and a million more examples), I say that they are all shameless. They care not a lick about any of us. They care about power, control, wealth, and most important, their own egos. There isn’t one of them that is different, regardless of whether they call themselves a Democrat or Republican.

Shame on all of them!

Tags: Barack Obama, John McCain, Politics

Related posts

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Professional Apologists (2)
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from google
october 2008
Sexist, much?
No wonder Obama is winning with women. Or maybe I'm just being all "emotional."
october 2008
How to Choose Categories for Your Blog
“How do I choose categories for my blog?” This is a question I’m asked a lot so when Ali Hale from Alpha Student asked if he could write a post on the topic of choosing categories I was all ears!

Before you start reading this, take a quick look at something very important: your own blog. What do you see when you glance at the Categories list? If you’re anything like most bloggers, it will include categories which:

You used a couple of years ago but don’t use any more
Have only one or two posts in
Have names that aren’t self-explanatory
Seemed like a good idea at the time, when you added them for one specific post

There’s plenty of blogging advice about how to craft posts, how to gain readers, and how to start your first blog - but surprisingly little has been written about how to choose your categories. The only advice I could find was from Lorelle on Wordpress:

Most people add categories on the fly or list everything they want to talk about in their categories and then work to fill them up as they go. I made a plan for this blog’s articles and I wanted to keep the focus narrow and the structure clean. I believe working from a very specific plan helps keep a blog on track and more successful. Plans can change over time, but start your journey with a good map.

I’ve just launched a new blog (Alpha Student), which has meant a lot of planning, brainstorming and head-scratching. One of the biggest puzzles has been how to choose suitable categories - which has led me to think hard about how I use categories as a reader, and how categories are typically used in the blogosphere.

I thought a good place to start was my first blog, The Office Diet, where I followed a similar process to most bloggers:

I entered the categories that I thought I might write on when I launched the blog without putting much thought into it.
I added more categories as I went along (for series, or any post which didn’t fit an existing category).

In doing so, I unwittingly made a number of common mistakes. I’m going to go through four big ones - and bring in some examples from other blogs where I think the categories list could have been more effectively planned.

And once I’ve shown you some of the mistakes, I’ll explain how you can choose your categories effectively in order to avoid making them.

Mistake 1: Failing to Plan
The mistake which most bloggers make is failing to plan at all - and, if they do plan, failing to adjust that plan to fit reality!

With The Office Diet, I knew I wanted to create a few downloadable resources for readers in the first month (January) - such as a food diary template. So I had a category called “Resources” which was supposed to hold this sort of posts. In practice, though, I’ve only written a handful of these.

I suspect some other bloggers have met similar problems, when they’ve either not planned ahead (ask yourself “Will I use this category frequently?” if you add one for a specific post) or where their plans haven’t quite matched up with what really happens.

For example, on The Simple Dollar, Trent has the categories “Décor” and “S&P 500” which only have one post in each. “Sunday Conversation” only has three posts. Although this is conjecture, I think Trent probably added those categories on a day when he wrote on those specific topics - and didn’t plan ahead for whether he’d use them again.

Mistake 2: Using Categories for Series
Lots of big blogs, including ProBlogger, Daily Blog Tips and many more use categories for series. I did the same on The Office Diet, when I wrote the “Basics”, “Healthy Mind” and “Excuse-Busting” series. I now think that this was a mistake.

Readers who come to a blog for the first time are likely to use your categories to navigate to posts that they’re interested in. Category names often aren’t self-explanatory, and if the series ran a year ago, all the posts in that category will be old. If you run a lot of series, your category list will quickly become cluttered up. And navigating through a series by clicking on a category often means scrolling through multiple pages of posts - often a pain for readers.

I would suggest that, for the majority of blogs, posts in a series should be categorised “normally” just like any other posts. Each post in the series should have a link at the top and bottom going to an index post (or even a page) which holds links to the whole series. You might also want to include a link to the previous and next posts in the series from each.

For a shortish series (under 10 posts), you could even put the index at the top of every post - the Men with Pens do this to great effect on their Guest Posting series (as an aside, this is a great read for any blogger thinking about writing guest posts). Or put it at the bottom of every post, like Sonia on Remarkable Communication is doing with her Objection Blaster Series.

Mistake 3: Categories at Different Granularities
A very common problem with categories is not keeping your categories at the same level of granularity. By that, I mean that some of your categories are probably very broad and others are very narrow. This is often caused by failing to plan: it’s a good idea to sit down for an hour or two and decide roughly how many categories you want, and how broad or detailed that means they’ll be.

Blogs which are narrowly focused on a niche will probably have narrow, specific topics as readers are likely to be looking for expert advice in particular areas. Blogs with a very wide remit need broad categories to help readers weed out the areas that aren’t interesting to them.

On Problogger, I would suggest that the categories list has some items which cover too narrow an area. For example, “Yahoo Publishing Network” is very specific when compared with categories like “Advertising” and “Blog Networks”.

Mistake 4: Inconsistent Category Naming
I’d bet good money that, at some point, you’ve come across a categories list on a blog and wondered what the heck some of the categories meant. Perhaps most were self explanatory, like “Reader Questions” or “Content Writing” but then you came across “Special”. Special what? Try to make sure your category names can be understood without the reader having to click on them to figure out what they might mean.

Or maybe you see a blog which has a nice neat list of one-word categories, then one which is five words long so gets a disproportionate amount of space compared to its importance. (Usually, the shorter the name of a category, the broader its remit and the larger the number of posts it contains.)

This is a tiny point - but be consistent with capitalisation. One of my favourite blogs, The Change Blog, capitalises all the categories except two (“blog carnival” and “personal growth”) - to me, this looks a little odd.

Another problem is when some of the categories have quite formal names (“Finances, Frugality, Investment”) and others are slangy or chatty (“Quick tips”, “Easy wins”). The way in which you name your categories is important in setting the tone for your whole blog. On most blog templates, the categories list displays on the front page: that means you need to put at least as much thought into the wording of your categories as you do into the wording of your headlines.

Doing It Right
Now that I’ve been through the common mistakes people make with categories, you might be looking at your own blog in dismay - or rethinking your plans for the one you’re about to launch.

I mentioned earlier that I’ve just launched a new blog which took a considerable amount of planning. You can see the categories page at www.alphastudent.com/categories (I chose not to list the categories on the front page).

Rule 1: As Few Categories As Possible
Due to my blog design, I needed to keep the number of categories down to make sure they fitted comfortably in the list. I also wanted room to show the latest post from each category.

Most bloggers would benefit from using as few categories as possible. This avoids blog clutter in your sidebar, and avoids presenting readers with a forbidding list of dozens of different topics.

Alpha Student has a wide remit - “Helping you make the most of your time at university” - and covers everything from advice on exam technique to lists of flash games to play when you need a break. I decided on the categories:


When you’re planning your blog, think about how many categories you really need … can two of your topics be conflated into one are?

If you’ve got an existing blog, take a look at your categories list and note any which are superfluous.

Rule 2: Don’t Be too Specific
Try not to be too specific, at least to start with. I deliberately kept my topics very broad. I could have broken down “Academic” into “Essays”, “Exams”, “Lectures”, “Seminars” and so on. When your blog is new, having dozens of categories means that lots of them will only contain one or two posts for a while.

Even if your blog’s been going for a while, you’ll find that some categories are too narrow - anything which contains under 5% of the total posts on your blog can probably be ditched.

Rule 3: Think Ahead
I know that with Alpha Student, I’ll want to run some series. For example, I’m going to do a series on essay writing with posts on topics like “Planning your essay”, “The first line of your essay”, and so on. But I don’t want to introduce a category just for a short series.

So I’m planning to categorize all those posts under “Academic”, which means readers browsing the academic section can find them easily. (Bear in mind that the majority of your readers won’t sit down and follow a whole series from beginning to end - they might only read one post from the middle.)

I’ll also have a single post announcing the series which will contain a list of the posts in … [more]
from google
october 2008
The Apple NDA is lifting...
A great huzzah! was heard through the land. Apple today announced that they will be lifting the NDA on the iPhone SDK. This is incredibly good news, as it means that, once lifted, developers will be able to talk with each other about the iPhone. And, among those developers are those that have created iPhone content for our Core Animation and iPhone SDK Development Books, a screencast series on iPhone development, and a brand new Pragmatic Studio on iPhone Development. All of these have been sitting here, waiting to get released.

So, all day I've been getting calls and e-mails saying “The NDA is lifted. Where are the books?” The answer is simple: right now the NDA hasn't been lifted. Apple have announced that they will be dropping it, and that a new developer agreement will be sent out within "a week or so." Our developers are still apparently bound by the existing NDA.

So, I spoke with someone senior at Apple this morning, and I'm waiting to hear back. In effect, the NDA is dead. But I need to protect our authors, so we can't release any iPhone content until we hear back that they're out of danger.

I'll blog here when I know more. We'll also send out an e-mail to our announcement mailing list and RSS feed.

Interesting times...
from google
october 2008
Summit Pics
Jared recently posted his thoughts on the Slicehost Summit. Several great pictures are up, the result of him creeping around like a ninja snapping shots when we least expected it.
from google
october 2008
IOS Developer Program - Apple Developer
via iPhoneDevMN list, iPhone NDA is dropped!
october 2008
Are Your Financials Minty Fresh?
In July, we posted a blog about the rising traffic of the finance sections of the major portals (e.g. Yahoo! Finance, MSN MoneyCentral). In the blog, we hypothesized that the increase in online interest for financial research and information is contributing to increased interest by people researching their personal finances online as people are taking a closer tab on their finances these days.

This interest caused me to take a closer look at how several personal finance sites are performing online. Each site, which allows people to aggregate and track all their personal finances, has its own flavor. Three of the most popular sites are:

Wesabe.com provides a community-like atmosphere where people share tips about personal finance
Geezeo.com is an ad-driven site with a heavy emphasis on selling credit cards
Mint.com uses the information you provide to serve up comparisons of your accounts with competing accounts that could save you money

From personal experience tracking my finances is becoming an obsession (of course, never during business hours). Apparently, Im not the only one obsessing about my dwindling 401k. Mint.com was viewed by more than 480k visitors during August 2008. Since August of 2007, Mint.com has grown in traffic by more than 965%. As the chart below demonstrates, none of Mint.coms competitors has come close to that kind of traffic or growth.

So why are people visiting Mint.com more than Wesabe.com or Geezeo.com? The reasons are both experiential and strategic:

Mint.com does not serve up one ad on its website. Got that? Not one ad. Now, you might get a money-saving offer like the one in yellow shown below, but those offers are on a separate tab and you can choose to ignore them completely.
There is a limited population of consumers who want to do their personal finances as a group activity. I think Im pretty loose-lipped when talking about money, but Im not going to open my kimono on a website.

Mint.com has a smart marketing strategy. Mint.com is prominently placed in search listings for keywords like Quicken and personal finance software. As a result, there is less likelihood that consumers are going to find Geezeo.com or Wesabe.com.

Mint.com recently announced the capability to add your mortgage, student, and auto loans to your portfolio to give users a broader picture of their finances. In this economic climate, this seems to be what people need right now, and it should be interesting to see how Mint.com will continue to expand its capabilities and grow its customer base.
september 2008
iPhone heart monitor is a creative way to use iPhone sensors
This one belongs in the "what will they think of next category". Some enterprising programmers managed to make a heart monitor out of the microphone in the iPhone headset.

While this is a cool idea and fun for most, we wouldn't recommend it just yet for those with heart conditions.
from google
september 2008
IYo Yo-Yo almost certainly doesn't work
Seriously? I have to say: I don't buy it. I really don't believe that you could pull enough power to charge an iPhone out of an inducting yo-yo, but that is apparently exactly what the iYo Yo-Yo claims to be. It's not actually in production yet (or even produced, singular -- there's a demo of a rendered unit running on the site), so I'm as skeptical as James Randi at an astrologists' convention.Not to mention that nothing developer Peter Thuvander would actually be able to release could have that logo on it -- even if it did work, Apple would just release their own anyway, and then pay Pete twenty years later, right? But some people will do anything for alternative energy these days, including believing that a yo-yo could power your iPhone. Someone call the Mythbusters!
september 2008
Building A Bigger Nerd Ranch
When newcomers to programming on the Mac ask me for advice about getting started with Cocoa, I usually boil it down to three steps, depending on the amount of time and money they are prepared to put into the task:

If you’re the slightest bit curious, buy Mark Dalrymple and Scott Knaster’s affordable book, Learn Objective-C on the Macintosh. It’s great that this book not only starts from the very beginning, but is available as an easy electronic download, for instant gratification.
If you’re convinced you’re in for the long haul, but prefer to learn at your own pace and in your spare time, pick up Aaron Hillegass’s Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X.
If it’s time to put the pedal to the metal, and you want to minimize the chances of failing as you learn the basics of this art, drop everything and enroll in the Objective-C and Cocoa Bootcamp class at Big Nerd Ranch.

Big Nerd Ranch is run by the very Aaron Hillegass who authored the book you picked up in step 2, and he teaches the Cocoa bootcamp class himself. The class is not cheap, but neither is it exploitatively expensive. You will learn to program for the Macintosh with a group of classmates, living and programming on a bucolic country retreat, where your meals and lodging are taken care of.

The Big Nerd Ranch concept is exciting, and I have often fantasized about attending a class there myself. I’m probably overqualified for the boot camp, though as with most life experiences, you learn something when you review the basics. The ranch offers a variety of classes in addition to the boot camp, including courses on more advanced Cocoa programming, iPhone development, and even on Django and Ruby on Rails web programming.

Right now, Aaron is busy building a bigger, better, greener, serener (funner? funnest?) Big Nerd Ranch. He’s actually bought a large plot of land and is drafting plans for several new buildings. He’s treating all of us to many glorious details on his personal blog: possible/probable. The blog frames itself as the chronicle of a man in his mid-youth, aiming to improve an already successful life by taking chances and aiming for the stars. It so happens that his stars form a constellation that idealizes and glorifies learning to program on the Mac.

When you check out the blog, be sure to read through the archives. You’ll be riveted by his stories of searching for suitable property, securing bank loans, winning and losing architects, and grappling with the underlying question of just how crazy pursing this dream might be.

Fortunately for us, Aaron seems to be guiding his own life with the words of his blog title, “possible” and “probable.” I interpret these slash/stroke separated terms optimistically, as I expect he does. If you can imagine something, if it seems vaguely possible, then with a little work it is made probable.

I find Aaron’s optimism inspiring, and his stories remind me of my own possible/probable dreams still waiting to be fulfilled. His zeal for the pursuit of happiness rests safely between recklessness and painful deliberation. He recognizes that while frightening risks need to be taken, putting in hours of hard and tedious work will greatly improve the odds of success.

We should all get to work turning our own possibilities into probabilities, because nobody else is going to do it for us. With the help of Aaron’s blog, we might find ourselves inching just a little bit closer.
from google
september 2008
McCain's Thirteen Cars
When you have seven homes, that's a lot of garages to fill. After the fuss over the number of residences owned by the two presidential nominees, NEWSWEEK looked into the candidates' cars. And based on public vehicle-registration records, here's the score. John and Cindy McCain: 13. Barack and Michelle Obama: one.
september 2008
Minneapolis Photographic Society - Welcome
Minneapolis Photographic Society is the only Twin Cities club devoted exclusively to print photography. We are members of the Twin City Area Council of Camera Clubs and the Photographic Society of America.
september 2008
Parallels 4 to tout OS X Server VM, dual-core, new interface
Competition between virtualization software developers is about to kick into overdrive thanks to the ongoing development Parallels Desktop 4, which people familiar with the update say will significantly expand hardware and software support as well as deliver a redesigned interface.
september 2008
The Gold Rush is On
Joe Heck reacts to the news that Trism has made $250,000 since the App Store opened: I about fell of my chair when I read that. I know a lot of folks have nice sales with the iPhone applications, but that just completely blows through any sort of expectations I ever had.
september 2008
Report: Microsoft to cancel Gates+Seinfeld ads
Remember those awful Microsoft ads with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates? Well, now you can forget them...
from google
september 2008
Doing Light Drawings With the myLite App
A photographer only identified as bjeung has posted a fun set of images on Flickr that were made using our myLite app. He captured several shots of his iPhone screen casting colored light in a darkened setting, against a dark background. We assume the photographer was using the Trippin setting of our app, which runs through all the colors available and lets you select the speed of the color change from 0.1 sec to 0.5 sec. We assume he set his camera for a timed exposure, on a tripod, and moved his iPhone around quickly to create these drawings. Congratulations, bjeung theyre cool!
september 2008
United Airlines Bankruptcy and Newsbots
There's a very interesting story on Hot Hardware (of all places) about how two news robots interacted to help kickoff the (false!) rumor that UAL was going bankrupt, leading to a huge selloff in the stock. Apparently the news bot for a newspaper moved the story to the front page because someone read it during a "low news time" -- during which even a single read was a lot. Google News saw the story on the page, and picked the date up from the top of the page, since there was no date on the article. This date was the current date, not the six years ago date of the original story. An analyst saw the story on Google News, and a billion $ later, the rest was history.

As a recommender researcher, the scariest part of the story is the inference drawn from that single view of the article, which looked at the time -- in the wee hours -- like a statistically significant indicator that the article was becoming interesting. This problem reoccurs in recommenders all the time: if we're looking to make recommendations of items that are not popular, we'll often be recommending based on not very much data.

september 2008
Coda updated to 1.5.1
Filed under: Software, Internet Tools
Lost in the din of yesterday's Apple announcements, Panic has updated Coda, its all-in-one website editing tool, to 1.5.1.

The update largely fixes possible crashes, issues with source control, and squashes several bugs. CFML syntax coloring has been improved, and the release notes promise more syntax coloring improvements to come.

Coda 1.5, released on August 26, added Subversion source control, multi-file find and replace, custom books, and a host of other additions and improvements.

Coda 1.5.1 is available by selecting Check for Updates... from the Coda menu, or via their website.

Thanks, Gordon!
september 2008
10 PHP Principles
10 Principles of the PHP Masters.
from google
september 2008
ITunes Speechification
Filed under: iTS, iTunes
Doesn't matter whether you're a Republicrat or a Demublican, or if you're blue, red, or purple. If you've got an interest in World Events, the US iTunes stores has all the speeches from the recent American conventions -- from both sides of the aisle.
The speeches and video highlights are free and available as podcasts for your delectation (and bonus raised blood pressure, where applicable).
Pretty much everyone wants the same good things for the US and the world. Let these speeches help you decide which side can get you there.
Thanks, Gordon Werner
september 2008
Learn Cocoa With Me
One of the perks of running a training outfit is I get to pick the topics that I want to learn better and the instructors I'd want to teach me. (Ok, the abundant snacks are perks too, but everybody gets those.) Why Cocoa? Well, it's a lot of fun to learn. And Mac OS X applications are cool. Oh, and you need to know Cocoa and the Mac development tool chain to create iPhone applications. Need I say more? :-)

Seriously, building GUI applications with Cocoa is a lot of fun. And you absolutely must know Objective-C and Cocoa to build iPhone applications. But there's a fairly steep learning curve to the platform. You're up against a new language, a new set of libraries, a new IDE, and perhaps even a new development style. Heck, I've been fiddling around with Xcode and Interface Builder for years, and I must admit that I still don't fully "get it". What would really seal the deal is to spend a few days with a couple experts and have them show me how they build Mac applications. And that kind of interaction is exactly what a Studio is all about!

So I'm excited to announce our new Cocoa Studio in Denver, CO on October 28-30. I believe this three-day course is the best way to get a jump start on building GUI applications on the Mac (or the iPhone). You better believe I'll be a student in this one. Check out the outline and sweet venue for more details.

Who's teaching it? I couldn't be happier with the instructors we landed. You'll learn directly from two seasoned Cocoa developers and authors. Daniel Steinberg and Bill Dudney really know their stuff, and they're excited to help you become a Mac OS X developer. They both have programming backgrounds in Objective-C and Cocoa, a few books and screencasts underway, and even a couple commercial applications. Equally important, they're experienced teachers and trainers with great personalities. I'm really looking forward to seeing them in action as co-teachers.

So if you're planning to build GUI applications on the Mac (or the iPhone), this Studio is for you. Register by September 28th to reserve your seat and save $300. And if you've attended any of our other courses, you'll save another $300 on top of that. Either way, it's gonna be a lot of fun.

I hope to see you there!
september 2008
The New Facebook: Learning From Old Mistakes
A few weeks ago, I logged on to Facebook to see if any of my friends had dared to challenge me in another game of word twist. As was expected, due to my unprecedented dominance in the game, no one had. What was not expected, however, was an inconspicuous link at the top of the page telling me to try the New Facebook. So, I decided to check it out.

This New Facebook had an entirely different layout, putting many elements of friends Profiles on various tabs and allowing for greater control of what your friends see on your profile. In my opinion, the change was an upgrade. Gone were the days of needing to scroll past super pokes, ninja and pirate fights, graffiti, aquariums, and the latest roshombo matches to write on the walls of friends who dont seem to know how to click no to application invites. In general, things felt cleaner and easier to use. Not everybody sees it the way I do though. When I showed it to my boyfriend, he was appalled at the changes. He had gotten used to Facebooks layout and did not want to go through the hassle of learning a new layout and figuring out how to do what he wants to do on Facebook. Luckily for him, Facebook was kind enough to put a link at the top of the New Facebook allowing you to go back to the old Facebook experience. He eagerly went back to the familiar styles he has come to love. Facebook is clearly being cautious with this release, providing links to allow users to give feedback and input prior to the full release. A friend who signed up for Facebook last week was even introduced to the old Facebook, rather than pushed to the new, indicating Facebook is not ready to make the new site the standard. The beta testing style of this release made me curious as to how many Facebook users have decided to check out the New Facebook since its rollout.

Since its rollout, the New Facebook has progressively attracted more visitors as the weeks of summer roll by. As of the week of August 10th, more than half of all Facebook users have at least checked out the new site. By the week of August 17th, that visitor count had topped 60% of all Facebook users. Because Facebook has slowly rolled out this new site, inviting more and more people to check out the New Facebook each week, this chart only tells us half the story. It is also important to look at how many users checked out the New facebook and then decided to go back to the old style in the same session.

Facebook users using the New Facebook are slowly trending towards only using it, rather than clicking to go back to the old. This has leveled off in the last couple of weeks, holding steady at about 40% of Facebook users checking out the new site deciding to click back to the old. Having 60% of users continue on to use the new site is good news for Facebook, as it indicates users are beginning to come around to the new style. It is clear that Facebook has learned and grown from its last major new release. For those of you that dont recall, in Sept. 2006 Facebook suddenly unveiled its mini feedwhich shocked and scared off many of its users with its openess and seemingly invasion of privacy. This time around, Facebook is letting its users get accostomed to the new style at their own pace, as well as allowing them to provide feedback regarding the new design. Hopefully for Facebook, this will result in more satisfied users, while in my opinionproviding users with a cleaner, more streamlined Facebook experience.
september 2008
Leicester (UK) Apple Store to open Thursday
Filed under: Retail, Apple After several years of planning and waiting, the Highcross shopping center in Leicester (UK) is finally ready to go and with it the Highcross Apple Store. Apple Store Highcross will open on Thursday, September 4th at 10:00 AM. The store is located at the Upper Mall. You can get full travel directions here.As usual, we're asking any TUAW operatives who visit this weekend to send us stories and photos. Good luck, have fun and we're hoping you score a T-shirt!Read
september 2008
Weblog Tools Collection: First Look At WordPress 2.7
Although tentatively scheduled for November, WordPress 2.7 looks to be as big of a release since WordPress 2.5, perhaps even bigger.
september 2008
LR/Enfuse V3.00 announced
Timothy Armes has announced that LR/Enfuse version 3.00 is finally here.

After many requests Tim added a batch processing option. Simply group images to be blended into stacks, select all and then run enfuse in batch mode.

As an added bonus LR/Enfuse can now automatically reimport the blended images and even stack them with the originals.


Both of these new features require Lightroom 2.
from google
september 2008
Apple TV + iPhone = Ultimate geeky car audio system
If you ever wanted to prove your geek-cred to your friends what could be better than using your iPhone as a graphical remote for your car stereo.

Nels Johnson has done exactly that, and has posted the details for how to do it yourself at his site http://www.quickanddirty.tv/.

We’d point out that you should probably have someone else controlling the tunes, whilst you pay attention to the road!
from google
august 2008
Terminal Tips: Make your Screensaver a desktop background
Filed under: Terminal Tips

Have you ever wanted your screen saver to appear as a background image? Probably not. But if you like to show off to your Windows-using friends, then this tip can definitely help you out. By typing the following command into Terminal (Applications > Utilities), all on one line, and hitting enter, you will instantly see your screen saver displayed as a desktop background:/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app/Contents/MacOS/ScreenSaverEngine -backgroundTo get things back to normal (which you probably will want to do, as many screensavers will put undue load on your processor), either close the Terminal window, press control + C, or restart your computer. If you are running Leopard and have the clock overlay active, it will appear above all windows, which can get a little annoying.Want more tips and tricks like this? Visit TUAW's Mac 101 and Terminal Tips sections.Read
august 2008
SCART - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Plan to plug iPod into TV here in London is thwarted by confusing SCART connector!
from twitter
august 2008
IPhone Earth App Available Now
Last May I published a video demonstration of a cool iPhone application I saw at Where 2.0 which looked like Google Earth. The video demo was such a huge hit, Earthscape - the company who made it - quickly made it into a product you can now buy at the Apple store (available for $10). I purchased the app a couple of days ago and have just now had time to make a new video demo:

A couple of things to note: Earthscape has a 3D terrain model for the Earth, and they have high resolution satellite or aerial photos for some areas - especially in the US. But, you won't find as much high res data as Google Earth. They have included a "Wikipedia" layer which includes placemarks to places from Wikipedia which when clicked on provide a summary of the related site. In the earlier demo I saw last May, they had the ability to use the iPhone accelerometer to tilt and rotate. But, the released app doesn't include that feature. Tom Churchill, CEO of Earthscape, told me they found the UI was confusing to some people. But, they hope to put the feature in an update to the app in the future. Given the limited utility at this time (no KML support yet, no search capability, and no accelerometer support), I'm not sure how many people will buy it for $10. But, it is a cool app to see on the iPhone. I hope it inspires Google to port a version of Google Earth to the iPhone (if they haven't already been working on it for months).

Here is Earthscape's video demo of the new application.
august 2008
97 Philbeach Gardens, Earls Court, London SW5 - Google Maps
Here is us in London. If you have suggestions, especially kid friendly, @ me with whatever you have.
from twitter
august 2008
More App Store sales figures
Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, iPhone, App Store
Last week, iPhone app shop tap tap tap released preliminary sales data for its iPhone applications. The figures were interesting (and impressive), but at the time, only seven days of data was available. As Steve Jobs told the Wall Street Journal on Monday, the App Store's first month generated about $30 million US in sales, and I was interested in how that would translate on a micro level. Yesterday, tap tap tap's John Casasanta posted its full July sales totals (save a few territories, which will likely have little effect on the final tally), allowing us to do just that.As with the data released last week, the numbers are extremely impressive. Apple's reporting process calculated sales from June 29, 2008 through August 2, 2008. However, as John notes, because the App Store didn't launch until July 10, 2008, the sales data is actually for 24 days.For tap tap tap's two applications, this is the breakdown:Where to Go (App Store link) sold 24,094 copies at $2.99 a copy in 24 days.Tipulator (App Store link) sold 3,168 copies at $.99 a copy in 24 days.After Apple's 30% cut, tap tap tap's net revenue was $52,815 US for 24 days. Wow. That averages to just about $2200 US a day. Read on for more analysis.Continue reading More App Store sales figures
august 2008
Big companies are where small companies go to die
Farhad Manjoo (who wrote a cover story on 37signals for Salon.com a few years back) is now writing for Slate. This time he wonders about the Google Black Hole.
august 2008
Crooked Still WBUR and NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook
Now, seven years later, with world tours under their belt and a recent overhaul of their lineup, theyre a little older, a little wiser and every bit as innovative. Bluegrass and folk, pop and blues, maybe even jazz. They play mountain music from an old-time era, polished with percussive banjo-beats and an ethereal voice.
august 2008
Finally buying a license for DeliciousSafari.
from twitter
august 2008
London with Kids
Overview of London stuff with kids.
august 2008
Volumizer Puts Your Mac Drives on the Dock [Featured Mac Download]
Mac only: When you want to keep your Desktop clear but still get easy access to disks and network drives, you want Volumizer. This simple utility adds your Mac's hard drive and other...
from google
august 2008
Big Green Egg, World's Best Smoker and Grill
@mkortekaas Awesome grill. I have a large one. Cooking everything on it.
august 2008
Tom's Hardware says Apple and PC prices are equivalent
To the average user, that seems true -- if you go to, say, a Best Buy or a Circuit City, and look at the Macs they're selling versus the seemingly equivalent PCs they're selling, then yes, you're seeing higher pricetags on the Apple stuff. But when Tom's lays out what you get out of each computer, the prices are generally the same. In fact, they even build an equivalent Mac Pro, and there's only a $5.67 difference.
august 2008
Remove Your Mac's Hard Drive from the Desktop [Mac Tip]
Mac users who like to keep their workspace free of shortcuts and folders will love this "oh, duh!" tip for removing your hard drive from the Desktop. In Finder's Preferences pane, in the General tab,...
from google
august 2008
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