Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gmail Allows 20mb Attachments

Google Operating System's blog is reporting that Gmail now allows 20mb attachments. Originally capped at 10mb the email system is now ahead of many of its competitors in file attachment size. It should be important to note the GOS comment that many email providers will not accept emails with attachments larger than 10mb so the 20mb addition might only work with other gmail users.

As file sizes of the average attachment continue to grow larger with the influx of higher quality digital cameras and larger office documents it will be interesting to see if the rest of the intraweb follows Gmail's lead and increases attachment file size.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Google Supports the Wii

ZdNet has an interesting article about Google updating their Google Reader software to support the wii remote.

"To try the new interface in your current browser if you don't have the Wii, visit In an attempt to be as cheesy as possible, I'm going to call it: Google Wiider."

With Wii Support, it will be interesting to see if xbox and ps3 browser support is added next.

Will the web continue to adapt to console browsers?

Google Improves Analytics

Google has started to roll out what it calls an improved version of its web analytics software. The site is now designed to make reading the numbers and charts a bit easier/cleaner and quickly presentable.

Although the update has been made to some, Google explains that they'll be sending emails to the individuals who have accounts with the program when they have been updated to the new system. They are also allowing temporary use of the previous version of the online software if you can't find the numbers you're looking for with the new flashy reports.

After quickly scanning through some of the reports for website I have with Google Analytics its clear that they have made things easier to understand. The previously combined report of pageviews and visits with different scale numbers made it difficult to view how your site is doing in both those categories. The new improvement makes selecting data ranges and comparing them to other data ranges that much easier. Now you can tell how your numbers look compared to a month ago at the same time quickly and easily.

It isn't as easy to find the locations of all the previous information provided in Google Analytics but I believe its all in there, even if its hidden in the back. Check out some of the features from the Google provided demo.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

iGoogle & Personalized Gadgets

Google released yesterday an update to the Google Personalized Home Page that they've been offering users. Your home page is now named iGoogle and you'll notice the lowercase "i" in front of Google when you login to your home page. While the name adjustment is small it will help Google to market this site to increase additional traffic and at position themselves against other major "home page" websites like one's offered by AOL or Yahoo.


In addition to the new name for the personalized home page, Google has started offering personalized gadgets that users without any programing knowledge can create. Initial gadgets include ones that display pictures, sends digital notes and digital flowers to ones you love, a personalized "status" gadget, free form, YouTube channel for watching those videos you love, A to do list, and a countdown to any event of your specification.

Google has quickly realized that what makes a home page is the ability to make it your own. With the tab features, themes, and now personal gadgets Google is quickly offering users a powerful search tool nicely placed above the custom features of each individual user.

Expect to see more and more users adapt their home page to the new iGoogle.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Windows Vista: Its not that bad

A flood of reviews about Windows Vista have spread to the far reaches of the internet mostly detailing new features that are included in Windows Vista and how this is a great or terrible new Operating System from Microsoft.

As soon as Apple released bootcamp 1.2 I quickly grabbed it, a copy of Windows Vista Premium Home edition and then spent some time installing Vista onto my iMac. I wanted to see not only how realistic some of these reviews about the system were but how it ran for a normal average user.

Initial Feel

Having originally participated in the public beta for Vista I was surprised at how much had improved in the OS by the time they released it publicly. Applications actually worked as expected and often ran faster and more stable than what I had experienced before. Not only that, many applications seem to work better than they do on XP.

I must admit that while many features have improved since the original Beta or even improved on the stable system that has become Windows XP, I quickly turned off User Access Controls (UAC) that constantly warned me of anything my system was doing. My friend said it best when describing UAC:

It's like forcing me to make a 25 character password, upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters to sign into my hotmail account.

Yes it is that bad and often pointless.


My iMac was rated a 4.5 out of 5 by Vista's custom analytic tool that will rate your hardware and how optimal it is for the Operating System. Booting up the system is as fast as ever but it still gets beat my OS X. Shutting down seems to take Vista a lifetime.

Standard applications that people will use everyday perform great. They open quickly, shut quickly, rarely lock up, and don't crash as often as they do in XP. Getting to your files and applications is also easier.

Although the integrated search could be more powerful, it does make it easier to find the applications you're using for. I know that with XP many users quickly switch the start menu back to windows classic mode. You won't need to do this with Vista as you'll never use the navigation tree to find an application. Click start, type in Word, hit enter, and Microsoft Word 2007 will quickly open. It really makes it easy and quick to find and launch the files or applications you're looking for. The location of the search is what makes it so useful. In contrast, I believe spotlight for OSX is underused because it is located poorly. Most users go to finder or their Hard Drive to find files. If Spotlight was somehow better located and available in these locations I believe people will use it as often as I expect normal Vista users to use the built in search feature.


ReadyBoost is a built in feature to Windows Vista that allows users to use USB based flash memory to increase the performance of their system by caching portions of their hard drive for quick easy reference. by the Operating System. I will never be able to say enough about this feature. It is the best thing that Microsoft has done with Windows Vista. With USB based flash memory readily available to every user, Microsoft has provided users a way to increase their systems performance without having to use a screwdriver or install anything complicated.

Insert your flash memory, set it to be used with ReadyBoost and you'll quickly notice how much faster your applications open, close, and perform. Additionally finding files and saving items to the Hard Drive takes that much less time. Its like giving your Computer a dose of caffeine followed up with a shot of steroids.

I hope Apple and Linux developers quickly follow the lead with this Microsoft idea and implement it into their own Operating Systems.


Windows Vista is an improvement on what Windows XP does well. The UAC is intrusive but can easily be turned off by the user. While some people feel Vista has under performed I would say that most of the areas it is lacking are with features or ideas previous versions of Windows has not provided. The system for typical users is improved upon and I expect Windows to make right what is lacking through feature updates. If they can get ReadyBoost right there is still hope for Windows!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Online Storage: Store and Share Your Files For Free

While there are a number of online storage options available, many of them cost money or restrict what and how you can upload files. After trying many different options I've become completely satisfied with Divshare.

Divshare is a new and growing online storage site that allows you to not only host your files privately but also allows you to share your files with others.

The service is free and has unlimited space for each account but does limit file sizes to 200mb per file upload. You can purchase for $9.95 a month an account that ups that file size limit to 2gb.

Divshare has also started a social network amongst its users. A user can create a Group which others can join and provide easy access to upload files, share files, and download files others have shared. This can be great for open source projects or anything that might be accessible digitally. One of the groups I've joined is for Apple and currently the users have only uploaded images related to Apple computers but it has promise for other interesting files in the future.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How To Pay Your Bills On Time

Having recently purchased a home and a new car the number of bills I'm responsible for has gone up considerably. At first I found myself always wondering when the next bill was paid and found myself checking my banking and account records to make sure that I hadn't missed a date. Unfortunately I completely missed one Credit Card due date. The frustrating part was that I had plenty of money to pay for it and on time.

I know that many people enjoy the Bill Pay feature that Banks offer that allow you to write checks for your various banks but some may prefer paying their bills the more conventional way. Lucky for us, Google Calendar is a free tool that can help make sure we never miss a bill due date again.

As I mentioned in previous posts, Google Calendar great for reminding you of events, your schedule, and everything else that you need to get done. It can also be setup to help you keep track of your bills and their various due dates. Simply create a new calendar and call it something like Bills. Post the various dates that your bills are due and then be sure to set the reminder to something like 2 days in advance. You can setup Google Calendar to remind you by email, and even through text messages.

Be sure to go back to Google Calendar and enter a comment when you've actually put the bill in the mail or paid it online. This will help keep track of things just in case you forget which bills you've paid.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Google Earth Adds Another Partner

Google explained on their blog that they've added new Architecture layers to their Google Earth application. By partnering with the AIA (The American Institute of Architects) Google plans to help users learn and understand about the Architecture around the country.

The new layers include both America's favorite architecture and a community based layer which is based up of architects using their free time to work with local leaders to make the community a better place.

Google Earth continues to become a more and more powerful source of information as Google is combining efforts with notable organizations around the country to make the information relevant to location around the globe.

Google Earth is quickly becoming a tool that helps you not only see where you are going, but what you can do there.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Google Adds Video Conference Firm to Portfolio

Google announced that they've acquired Marratech - A Swedish based company that has been developing browser based video conferencing software.


This new addition to Google could be vital to the companies long term strategy. It has been clear since Google acquired Writely and developed it further into the impressive Google Docs and Spreadsheets that the company is big on collaboration. The potential of working productively over the internet continues to look as a strategy Google supports. Video conference capabilities would only improve collaboration efforts.


With Google preparing its Presentation addition to the office suite its developing it won't be long before we see solid solutions that will allow individuals to not only create presentations but also present them over the internet with the addition of Marratech's technology.


You can also see how the addition of video conferencing would help them in the Instant Messenger field. While MSN, AIM, Yahoo, and Apple's iChat all offer ways to Video conference Google Talk is still limited in many of its features. Video conferencing capabilities will help position itself for the future of instant messaging. Don't be suprised when Google Releases an update to Google Talk that includes video conferencing capabilities.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Google Spreadsheets Adds Charts

Everyone can now add charts to the various spreadsheets they've developed on Google Docs and Spreadsheets. This new feature is a great and needed addition to the online office tool.

Adding charts is quick and easy and moving them around your spreadsheet is as easy as dragging and dropping. The number of available chart types is also impressive and customization of features such as title, legend, and axis labels make for a solid addition to the spreadsheet tool.

Personally I'll be using the new additions to Google to help me keep track of my "to do" progress and the weekly, monthly, and yearly goals I've set for myself.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Joost: Bringing the TV to your Internet

While Apple TV and other new media devices have pushed to find ways to bring video content to your television Joost is attempting to bring the TV to your internet.


Joost describes itself on their website as being FREE TV with complete control and exciting extras. They currently are streaming TV shows as user demands over the internet and to the Joost Client.

At first I was skeptic of the whole idea given that the most important item or any TV service would be content. Fortunately for all of us, Joost has been working deals for a while with a number of different providers. Their channel lineup includes MTV, Comedy Central, BET, National Geographic, and many many others. While most of these Joost Channels only include one to two shows, the potential of additional content seems endless.

The application is still in Beta but I must admit that I'm very impressed with my initial experience with the application. The current version of the software is 0.9.2 for windows but also has a similar release available for Mac OSX.

After receiving an invite to the Beta testing I quickly downloaded the software and registered an account. The application loaded quickly and within seconds started streaming video content to my computer. While the user interface is a bit flashy for me, it provides all the userful options for navigating a TV internet application including channels, shows, and even personal options that allow you to chat about the episodes you're watching with other users currently watching the same show. It was nice to be able to quickly pick from one show to another and start watching in full screen a decent quality video for free.

Currently Joost is only available by Invite only. Post a comment if you'd like an invitation and I'll share any that come my way.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Google: Docs and Spreadsheets To Get a New Friend

Presentations will soon join up with Google Docs and Spreadsheets to offer more office based applications to end users. Like their other web based applications, Google plans to add collaboration capabilities to the new Presentation software. Google expects to have this out to end users by sometime this summer.

This addition will bring it even closer to the home user versions of Microsoft Office. With the online capabilities of the software and its expanding software package it will be interesting to see if Microsoft next versions of Office include more web based tools and collaboration abilities.


Google also made the announcement today that they've purchased Tonic Systems:

"Tonic Systems is a San Francisco-based company that provides Java presentation automation products and solutions for document management - Tonic Systems Builder, Tonic Systems Filter, Tonic Systems Transformer, Tonic Systems Viewer, and JarJar Links. Features of their products included text extraction for indexing documents, presentation creation capabilities and document conversion tools."

It looks like Google is hoping that some of the software and ideas from Tonic Systems can help them with Presentations and all the Google Office features.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Adobe's New Media Player

Adobe announced today that they'll be entering the Media Player market to compete with Microsoft Media Player, Real Media Player, and Apple's Quicktime.

With proven track record of providing online video options through their flash based software Adobe instantly stands on stable grounds in the increasingly important online video market.

Some of the features that their new media player will offer include the ability for users to save copies of video they access on the web to their hard drives and personal media devices and even mobile phones. In accordance with the web 2.0 movement, the Adobe media player will also support RSS feeds.

One of the most interesting technological aspects of their new video system is its increased ability to provide relevant advertisements to end consumers. A future partnership with Google may be a very interesting possibility.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Find a Hike with Google Earth

If you're an outdoor type person and always looking for new places to explore, things just got a little bit easier for you.

Google announced a partnership with Trimble Outdoors to provide Google Earth users information about hiking trails and opportunities. Through the user of GPS technology the two companies will provide users with detailed information about hiking locations and the trails you'll set out on.

Trimble Outdoors website explains how easy it is to add the layer to your own Google Earth:

  • Start Google Earth
  • Go to "Layers" in the Sidebar on the left
  • Expand the "Featured Content" folder under "Primary Database"
  • Click the "Trimble Outdoors Trips" checkbox
  • In the main window, pan and zoom into the area of interest to you until you see red lines and dots indicating Trimble Outdoors trips
  • Continue to zoom in until you see little "Green Hikers":
    "Green Hikers"
    Depending on the zoom level and context, clicking a Green Hiker will open a popup window with detailed information about a trip or its element, for example a photo as shown above.

Based on the screenshots from their announcement... it looks like people in California have a lot of exploring options...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Google Calendar: Features has posted an interested article with some additional insights on how to get the most out of Google's free Calendar application.

While I listed and talked about some of these Google Calendar features in the past, the article is well written and explains how simple adding tasks can be with a simple push of a button (q).

Check out the article and the links to read more about how you can optimize Google Calendar to help you stay organized and productive.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Free 411 - Google Offers Local Voice Search

You'll never need to pay for a 411 call again - for business listings anyways. Google has released to their labs a free 411 call by dialing 1-800-Goog-411 (1-800-466-4411).

I tried the new service out as soon as I heard about it and searched for a printer ink cartridge refill store that a friend of mine had just opened that week in the area. After asking for the City and State and the Business Name the recorded voice told me there were 4 stories in the general area that matched my request, and the first was the new store I was looking for.

I asked the system to send me a text message with the details on the number and before I had hung up the phone the requested text message was their waiting for me on my phone.

Google 411 also will connect you to the business you're looking for.

I was most impressed with the Google Database. It wasn't more than a few days ago that I helped my friend list his new store on Google Maps using their Local Business tools and help him setup an adwords account to start to drive local searches to his store and in addition to having this all setup, the store was also listed first in a Free 411 call to Google. Making these type of requests to the phone company or yellow pages might take weeks or at least until the next printing.

While it is still just part of Google Labs - Google 411 is a great feature and something you can use often to find those numbers addresses you're looking for while on the run.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Google Maps: Marking your Map

Google continues to bring users enhanced map features through their Google Maps service. Today they announced that in addition to the Google Maps API that allows programmers the capability to create custom maps for their website they have provided a service that allows anyone to mark the map just the way they want to.


To support their claim from their blog that the new service is so easy a caveman can do it, Google has provided a mapping tools that will allow users to mark any place in the world, and upload pictures, video, and add custom titles and text. To access the new mapping tools navigate your browser to Google Maps and then click on the My Maps tab next to search results.


After you've entered the My Maps section be sure to search for the location you want to map around and then start clicking the new tools available that allow you to mark locations, give them titles, and then add description including pictures and or videos. you can draw lines or shapes around areas of interest and then save the map so you can access it again in the future.

If you want to show your map off to others, just click the link to this page option and then copy the url in your web browser. You can send that to your friends or link to it all over the web.

Find out more about these new tools from Google Maps!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Google Desktop Gets its Mac On

Today the Official Google Mac blog announced that they've released Google Desktop Search for the Mac. Like it's PC counterpart this service will index your Hard Drives and help you quickly search to find files.


Google's Desktop Search for Mac can quickly index and help you find files that you create with your standard apple programs. This includes the ability to search iChat conversations, Apple Mail, Microsoft Entourage, your Address Book contacts, and music and video files.


In addition to helping you find your files, Google Desktop Search for the Mac also creates snapshot copies of files every time you use them that can be accessed in case you save over that important file with something not so important. It may not be as safe or useful as some of the future Leopard backup features but its a start.

Find out about additional Google Desktop for Mac Features or talk about it in the discussion group.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Tutorial: How to Install Windows Vista using Boot Camp 1.2

Apple released Boot Camp 1.2 beta this past week that updated drivers and added support for Windows Vista. Upon hearing this, I quickly purchased an upgrade license to Windows Vista Home Premium and got started on upgrading my Windows XP partition to Windows Vista.


Before doing anything else you must download Boot Camp 1.2 and update it on OSX. After Boot Camp has updated to version 1.2 Burn the Driver CD so that you'll have it ready once Vista has finished installing.

NOTE: If you have previously installed Windows XP on your Apple Computer with the FAT file system you will not be able to upgrade to Windows Vista without reformating your Hard Drive to the NTFS file system. I learned this the hard way, and had to completely reinstall XP on a NTFS partition before I was able to install the Vista upgrade.


After installing Boot Camp 1.2 and burning the Driver Cd, reboot your system into XP and insert the Vista installation DVD. It will take you through a few steps and allow you to start the installation process. Follow the on screen instructions and let the installer do its work.

It may be of some interest to note, that since I had to reinstall Windows XP on an NTFS partition that I did not activate XP before installing an upgrade to Vista. It all installed perfectly, without once prompting me to activate my copy of XP before continuing my upgrade installation to Vista.

The system will reboot a number of times, but this all seems to be part of the installation process. The system froze once for me, but simply restarting the computer let it move a long past the part that was holding it up.

After Vista finishes installing, you should insert the Driver CD and install the windows vista drivers for your apple hardware.

Everything, including the remote seems to be working great. The only thing I've noticed is that if you have any external Hardware that requires a driver Vista doesn't like, you may get a Blue Screen of Death followed by a system reboot until you are able to uninstall those drivers.

Vista rates my iMac Core 2 Duo with 1gig ram and ATI x1600 a 4.2 on its hardware performance scale. It runs smoothly but I had to turn off Vista's UAC (User Access Control) in about the first 5 minutes of using the operating system.

iTunes: EMI Offers DRM Free Music

EMI, the European recording company that distributes music for The Beatles, Coldplay, and The Rolling Stones amongst many others announced today that they will be distributing music without any restrictive use DRM technology. It is still unclear as if


These tracks will cost $.29 more than the usual $.99 tracks on iTunes but they will also allow users much more freedom with how and where they decide to play their purchased music. EMI also made it clear that they would still sell tracks for $.99 that include DRM features.


DRM is the technology that limits the ways owners can use the music they purchase. For example, music purchased from iTunes that includes DRM technology limit the user to only playing the tracks on their 5 authorized computers and their iPods. Without DRM, users will be able to play their music the same way the do with the tracks they rip from CDs.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Google Notebook Gets a New look

Google Notebook's user interface got an upgrade over the past few days. For those that are less familiar with this Google web based application, Google Notebook is another way to store and organize bookmarks, comments, or anything you'd like to remember about the world wide web.

The new interface allows you to manually add website and any comments you'd like to include about the site. Additionally it allows you to create "Sections" that can help you keep your bookmarks and notes organized.


In addition to the new user interface and the increased organization tools, Google Notebooks allows you create a number of different notebooks. The service also gives you sharing options so that you can share the notebook with whom ever you specify. This would be a great tool for group projects in school or for keeping your team at work up to date on the latest websites related to your industry or job functions. A share this notebook with everyone feature can be enabled which creates a website of the notebook and updates it as add new notes.


If you're interested in including useful comments about your bookmarks, keeping them a bit more organized, and being able to access them anywhere, check out Google Notebooks.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jott - Phone, Voicemail, Email communication is a newer web service that is providing expanded communication options to its users. This free tool allows users to call in emails, send voicemails to a wide group of people, and even post blog messages from your phone.

Signing up for their public beta was easy. I gave them my information, confirmed my email address, called a number on my phone, and was ready to go. uses some kind of caller ID technology to match the phone you're calling from with your account and then sends you notices via email of any changes in your account. Additionally, a recorded voice message (limited to 30 seconds) will be transcribed and sent to your email for your future reading. You can also set this up to send emails to friends, family, or people you work with. Of course Jott also gives the option of sending the message to your contacts phones.

You can also record one message and send it to a predefined group of people. This might be great for when you have an important event in your life. Announce an engagement, a new child, or both by calling Jott and letting it disperse the information to everyone on your contact list simultaneously.

Over at they described how Jott can also be used as a personal TO DO List.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Slow Computer ? Let Google Help

One of the first things that I do when I get a new computer or reinstall Windows is to get all the free software that Google offers and that I find myself using constantly. A while back Google made this easier by packaging these all together in their own Google Pack.

The best part about Google Pack is you can pick and choose which software they offer to download, install, and stay up to date with.

Google's made some enhancements to their Pack by adding new software to help you clean up your computer and get it running fast again including software from Symantec and PC Tools.

With the recent software updates to Picasa Web Albums Google also has enhanced their screensaver software available via Google Pack to pull live picture feeds from the web. The enhanced screensaver also allows you to pull feeds from flicker and other online sources.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Google Adsense - Help Your Visitors Make $10

Google Adsense has added a new referral option that can help you and your visitors make money.

Now under the setup tab in your Google Adsense profile you can add a referral ad for Google Checkout. When someone clicks on this ad and signs up for Google Checkout they'll get $10 of any purchase in the first 90 days.

Google will also send you $1 for each time some one signs up through the link on your page.

It'll be interesting to see how this sparks Google Checkout in its efforts to compete with ebay owned Paypal.

After all, people have to have an account with you before they'll start using your services.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gmail Hard Drive - Save your files with Gspace

Since gmail was released by Google people across the internet talked about how the large file storage they were offering for free could be used as a place to store and backup personal files. Gspace is a Firefox extension that lets you quickly and easily do just that. If you needed one more reason to switch over to the Firefox browser this is it.


Gspace works a lot like the Firefox extension FireFtp (grab this too if you haven't already) that allows you to login to your gmail account in a windows explorer type view with the capability of uploading and downloading to and from your local hard drive. Navigate to the file that you'd like to store on your gmail drive and simply click the arrow pointing to your gmail drive and the Gspace will upload the file to your gmail account. It's even capable of uploading files larger than 10mb.


Like all Firefox extensions installation is as easy as downloading the file and restarting Firefox. To find Gspace once its been installed go to tools and you'll see Gspace is now available. Once you've click on it, it will open a new tab and display your local hard drive to the left and a window for your gmail drive to your right. Manage your accounts by typing in your username and password and then click the login button.

Unfortunately, Gspace doesn't allow you to see all the files that are already stored on gmail. But once you're logged in, you can upload any files... Gspace will send yourself an email with a long subject line that acts as the meta data that Gspace uses to see what files are available in your gdrive. You can download any file thats been uploaded through a similar process..


In addition to storing your files on your gmail account you can also view the photos you've uploaded through Gspace. Music files can also be played through the extension so you can now have an mp3 library accessible any where you can log on to the internet.


Gspace makes it easy to stay stay organized as you can create folders and folders within folders so you can quickly and easily find the files you're looking for. These folders are added to the subject line so if you need to access your gmail drive on Internet Explorer you can simply login to gmail and do a search for the folder you know the file is in. Creating labels for each folder may also speed things up as you'll be able to quickly click in gmail itself and see all the emails with the attached files under each folder.

GSpace is a great tool that allows you to quickly and easily store your files in a safe password protected environment. If you haven't started using Firefox yet, this extension may be the reason to change your ways.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Apple TV Ships

While the Apple TV was announced a few months ago the company hadn't actually shipped any units until Today. You can pick them up at or at a local apple retailer.

The system is expected to "revolutionize" TV the way the iPod changed music. I'm interested in converting my DVD collection to an all digital format that would fit on an external hard drive. It would make accessing the movie you want to watch, quick and easy.. Too bad iTunes doesn't have a rip from DVD option.

Apple TV Compatibility

Before you purchase an Apple TV make sure you've got the other hardware to make full use of the system. The device only has HDMI and Component Video out so be sure to check that your TV has these types of inputs. The Apple website for Apple TV also explains that you'll need a widescreen TV and wired or wireless network.

UPDATE: You can read an initial review of the product at Macworld.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Google Front Page: Don't Forget to Customize

When I discovered that Google added another feature to the custom Google front pages I realized that even with all these custom settings and tools still so many people are not using Google's front page to its full potential.

How To Personalize Google

All you need is a google account (You have one if you use Gmail) and an internet connection. Then instead of going to go to .

If you haven't already log'd into Gmail or any other Google related site you can by clicking the login link at the top right hand corner. After entering your password you'll be brought back to the personal Google Front Page and a few selected gadgets will be displayed below the Google Search field.

Pick Your Gadgets

Google has made it easy to pick the simple gadgets that you want on your front page. If you don't like what they've selected, simply click the close 'x' and the gadget will be removed from your site.

To the top right there will be an Add Stuff link that will display a number of interesting, entertaining, and productive Gadgets that you can add to your Google Front Page. You'll also links around on other people's websites about how to add their custom Gadgets to your website to bring you the Personal information you want.

Newest Features

New features to the Google Personal Front Page include a tab option, where you can add a number of different tabs that you can label and add a number of other gadgets too. Google will also offer to help you populate a new tab based on a topic of your choosing.

Today, Google also added Themes to their front page. A new link will appear on the right side of the page next to the Add Stuff link and will allow you to pick from 1 of 7 themes. These themes include interesting features and will update with the time of day for your location. Just another way to give Google Search a Personal Touch.

Great Gadgets

I've added and removed a number of gadgets from my front page. Overall I like to keep things simple but four gadgets I have kept are:

1. Gmail - I love seeing a brief snapshot of my inbox and can quickly decide if its something I need to look at or it can wait until I have more free time
2. Weather - I like to see what the overall weather will be like for the next few days. I still go to for when I'm looking for more information
3. Google Talk - I mentioned this new feature previously. I love being able to sent a quick note to any of my contacts from any web browser, and being able to see who is available right when I load up my webpage.
4. To Do List - this is a great tool, that lets me manage the number of things I need to do and stay on top of everything right from my front page.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Google Adds Ads

Over the weekend, Google announced that they were adding to their internet, tv, newspaper, and radio advertising efforts. Adscape is the newest acquired company by Google and was one that was pushing its way into in game advertising.

Adscape's site, now showing a FAQ about the Google acquisition, explains:

"Adscape Media is a small in-game advertising company based in San Francisco California. Adscape Media offers dynamic delivery of advertising with plot and storyline integration - making its solutions a truly interactive marketing platform. Adscape Media supports sophisticated demographic and geographic targeting and also provides a robust reporting interface for marketers."

In game advertising is a new approach, and Google must find a significant amount of value in the method to purchase a company with no significant track record in a new approach to advertising.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Use Technology to Help you Loose Weight

It seems that so many people in the world have gotten themselves out of shape and over weight and are now looking for the quick and easy way to loose weight and be healthy again. Unfortunately, the quick and easy ways usually don't work or last a lifetime. Loosing weight takes changing your habits and replacing them with new ones. This is where technology can help you out.


A new free website has started to grow in popularity that lets people monitor their dieting progress. Its a great web 2.0 application that allows you to keep track of your daily diet, workout, weight, and even a few custom fields of your own (I've set one up to monitor my sleep habits) to help you get skinny and healthy again.

In addition to giving you free access to weight management application, also gives you a custom site on the web where people can type in your url and see how you're doing on your dieting. The website focuses on receiving motivation from others and being accountable to your weight loss goals. You'll select 4 motivators who will receive weekly emails updating them on your progress, and also the ability to leave you messages on your custom site to help you stay motivated.

THE TRAINEO COMMUNITY also includes various workout groups to help you stay active and give you new ideas on ways to help you loose weight. One of the most interesting and most popular groups is one surrounding the Nintendo Wii and how people use its new motion controls to help them get a fun workout everyday.

The site also includes general discussion forums with a wide variety of topics that allow those trying to loose weight a place to discuss their efforts.

Its a nice quick free technology to help you adjust the habits in your life to become and stay healthy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Google Talk Goes Front Page

Google announced today that they've created a Google Talk gadget that can be added to your customized Google front page. They've brought meebo type web based communication to you.


In addition to being able to easily reach your Google Talk contacts you can now also watch Youtube videos right in your chat conversation. Simply drag and drop the Youtube url to your embeded chat conversation, send it, and you and your friends can watch the video together.

This feature also works for Picasa Web album urls.

One of the best new features is the ability to add the gadget to your own websites. You can see an example of this to your right of this page.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

iTunes: Find The Name Of The Unknown Track

If you're like me and have a number of songs or mp3 files in your iTunes library that are missing the name, artist, and album and you're not sure who sings it you need to look no further.

ieatbrainz is an application for Mac OSX that uses the sounds from the song to help it determine what song it is and then updates the meta data information for the file.

To update your iTunes library, download ieatbrainz and then after launching the application, select the songs you want to update the information on and it will scan the files, compare them to the musicbrainz database and then display what it has determined to be the name of the song you're looking up.

Be sure to look at each songs because sometimes it will offer a number of options that are potential matches. After you accept the suggested changes from ieatbrainz it will update your iTunes Library with the additional information.

After you've added the missing information, be sure to have iTunes go out and get the related album artwork so that you can browse your library in Full Screen mode on the latest version of iTunes 7.1 .

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Get Important Emails As Text Messages On Your Phone

Have you ever been expecting an important email but had to step away from the computer for a while and don't have a blackberry or the new iPhones. Now you too don't have to wait to receive email messages while you're out and about. In previous posts we've talked about receiving notices of scheduled events on your Google Calendar via text messages. Today we'll explain how you can also receive those important emails as text messages. While this technique should work for any mailing software that allows you to set rules for your incoming mail (Outlook or Thunderbird for example) we'll use gmail to show and explain how you can easily setup your phone to receive those important emails as text messages.


In addition to having a phone number that allows you to receive standard text messages, most cell phones now also have an email address that you can receive text messages at. To discover this, open up your text message and in the TO: box enter your email address and send yourself a short message. Now check your email and you should receive a new message from your phone. Check the address of the sender and that should be your phone's text message email address. Mine for example was my phone number at (for example: I replied to that email to see if I would receive back a text message. After a few seconds my phone chirped to let me know I received a message and it was the email I had just sent.


Now that you know you're phone's text message email address you can setup a rule or filter to send those important emails to your phone so you're always in the know. For Gmail this is quick and simple. After signing into your gmail account click settings and then the "Filters" link. Click Create a new filter. New input fields will pop up with a number of different options to filter new emails. Most email clients have these same options but may call them rules.

One of the options is the "FROM:" field. You can enter in the specific email address of someone you're expecting to hear from or if there are a number of people from the same organization that you don't want to miss emails from you can always use the "*" field and the domain name to apply to all messages from that group (For example: *

The ability to get these messages on your phones is set at the next step. Select the "Forward it to" option and then enter in the email address for your phones text messages. Apply the filter or rule and you'll be set to receive future emails on your phone as text messages.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Google Desktop 5: Better Equipped To Take On Vista Sidebar?

Google recently announced that they've upgraded their Google Desktop Search to release number 5 (beta of course). They explain that the release offers better search and better security than previous releases. But the greatest addition is the user interface and how its sleek look appears to be added just to take on the Vista Sidebar.


The security received a nice addition which allows you to lock your search from anyone that doesn't have your windows user password. Simple right click on the desktop icon in your taskbar and click the "Lock Search..." option. This will prevent anyone from search for files on your computer without your permission. Follow the same steps and enter your Windows Password to unlock Google Desktop Search.


This release of Google Desktop added enhanced visuals to the gadgets, the sidebar, and the add new gadgets window. All of the new additions make having these simple applications on your desktop much more enjoyable. When I first looked at these they instantly reminded me of the sidebar included in Vista. Google must feel that this feature included in Windows Operating system might pull away some of their Desktop search customer base and to combat this they enhanced the look and security of their own desktop search engine.

It would be nice if the search built in to Vista was lockable.

Overall the enhancements are great. If you're already using Google Desktop Search upgrade quickly. If you're not, nows the time to start. You'll find the files you're looking for easier and faster than ever before.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Automatically Mount A Network Drive On Startup

As people start to purchase more and more computers, they often keep their old ones around the home and create home networks so that they can quickly access data or programs on their old systems. This is an approach for Mac OS X and the following is a quick way to use Automator to create a small application that mounts a network drive and then how to set it up so that it automatically runs each time you start your computer.

This article assumes that you know the location of the drive you'd like to mount on your network and and can find it by clicking on Finder and then Network.


1. Open Automator for your applications and select Finder from your Library.
2. Select Get Specified Server and drag and drop it to the work area to the right.
3. Click the Plus Button under Get Specified Server
4. Under the "Show:" drop down menu select File Servers
5. Select the drive you'd like to mount
6. Click Connect - The Drive should now show up under Get Specified Servers
7. From the Action list drag and drop Connect to Servers to the work area to the right (This should be number 2 in the workflow)
8. Click Run to make sure everything is working correctly - The Drive should mount to your desktop.
9. Save the Automator script as an application in a location you can easily access it.
10. Go to System Preferences and click accounts - Select the Login Items Tab
11. Drag and drop the Automator application we've created to the area below "These items will open automatically when you login.
12. Restart your computer to make sure that everything is working correctly.

You can also use these steps to mount other types of servers on boot up.

Friday, March 9, 2007

How To View Local Movie Listings in Google Calendar

As I've been using Google Calendar more and more I've come to notice some great features and abilities that are offered to any individual or group that use the web based calendar. One of the recent features I discovered in Google Calendar was searching and adding local movies to my Google Calendar.


To Search for a movie on Google Calendar you'll need to follow these few easy steps:

1. Login to Google Calendar
2. Know the name of the theater you'd like to watch the movie at
3. Type in the name of the theater and then the location of the theater into the search box. (For example: Regal Countryside 20 Sterling, VA)
4. Click the Search Public Events
5. At this point Google Calendar will show in List View all the movies that are playing at that theater. I prefer to click to Day tab and which will quickly show the movies and their particular show times
6. Click on the Movie at the time you'd like to see it. Google Calendar will open up a small dialog window and show information about the movie including the time, location, map, and a copy to my calendar link.
7. Click Copy to my calendar. Google Calendar will let you know the event was copied and give you an option to view your Calendar.
8. Click View Now
9. The movie will be added to your Calendar with time specific details included. Be sure to set the reminder so you can get an SMS text message reminding you of the upcoming event.


You can use this feature for any event you're interested in attending. Search Public events for everything in your area and you'll never need to wonder what you should do on the weekends again.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Google Maps Gets Pictures / Local Business Coupons

Just after announcing an upgrade to Picasa Web Albums Google has added features to Google Maps.

Again reporting from their blog, Google Maps now include pictures of various locations. Clicking on the icon marking the location will bring up a picture of the place you're looking for. Inside the little window you can click more information and find additional photos and web page links.

Here is a link to the Sony Building in Japan.

Using Google Maps to find new places just got easier.

Additionally, Google allows for local business owners to update information about their business and how it appears on Google Maps. An interesting part about this new feature is the ability to add coupons and other details to your business listings.

Picasa Web Albums Upgrades - Includes Blogger Pictures


Google announced today on their blog that they've upgraded the free storage for your photos from 250mb to 1gig. In addition to the additional storage space, Google also added the ability to share your pictures with the community. Here is a complete list of all the new features to Picasa Web Albums.

If you decided to share the pictures or keep them private you can always look around at other peoples shared albums by drop down arrow next to the search box and selecting community photos.


Picasa is a great photo organization and quick editing application and the ability to quickly upload your albums to share with friends and family only make it better. I use this exclusively on my Windows XP systems.

If you're a mac user you can also take part in the Picasa Web Albums. Google has released a plugin for iPhoto that lets you export your photos from iPhoto simply by selecting the export option and then selecting the Picasa Web Albums tab.

Another option for Mac Users is the Picasa Web Albums Uploader. This stand alone application allows you to drag and drop photos you'd like to upload to your Picasa Web Albums.


After loading up my Picasa Web Albums I quickly noticed a new album that I had not installed. The title for the Album was the title of my blog and I noticed that all the pictures I had uploaded to some of my posts were now included in one location as a new Album in Picasa Web Albums.

Clicking in the Album brought up all the pictures on my Blog and I noticed a "Link to this Album" option and a "View Blog" link to the left of the pictures. Creating Photo Blogs may have just gotten a little easier.

Monday, March 5, 2007

VMware Fusion Beta 2 Can't Handle Counter-Strike: Source

The New Beta

Recently VMware released a new beta for their OSX based Virtual Machine Fusion. This beta offers something no one else has previously offered, 3D graphics. This release of Fusion includes an experimental software that includes support for DirectX 8.1. This allows users to play their windows based games while still running OSX. Download Fusion Beta 2 over at VMware's site (Registration Required).

As an Intel iMac user I was extremely excited at the thought of not having to boot into XP through bootcamp to run the various games I played including Counter-Strike: Source which I play often and I know runs at the directX 8.1 level. If VMware can deliver with 3D graphic support I would only load up Windows in a virtual machine when I wanted to play games.

Installing the Beta

After downloading the beta files I quickly installed the application, Windows XP, and started downloading Steam and then Counter-Strike: Source. This process was as if I was installing Windows onto any other machine and once installed it functioned well. Steam and Counter-Strike: Source also installed easily.

Turn on 3D Acceleration

VMware doesn't have 3D acceleration running by default. You have to turn this on by going to Settings, Display, and Checking the Enable 3d Acceleration box. NOTE: The virtual machine must not be running while you do this. The system will not allow you to check the box until the machine is stopped.

After turning on the acceleration I booted up the virtual machine and ran dxdiag to test the 3d acceleration. It passed the 8.1 test. I was excited and hopeful that this virtual machine would have what it takes to run CS:S.

Crash and Burn...

I setup Counter-Strike: Source to run in directX 8.1 mode by adjusting the launch options to include the command - dxlevel 81 and attempted to run the game. It gave me a warning that my graphics card wasn't supported, I clicked passed it and at first everything seemed to be going ok. The game started to load and I got a quick flash of the Counter-Strike: Source logo but then something terrible happened. A Blue Screen of Death ruined my excitement and I was left with a crashed Windows in VMWare.

It is true that VMware doesn't list CS:S as a supported game at this time, but I was still hopeful give the listed support for directx 8.1. Hopefully future releases of their software will include the support for all Windows games.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Friday, March 2, 2007

How to Make Windows XP look like Windows Vista for FREE

One of the major improvements of Windows Vista is the graphical interface that the system delivers but unfortunately not all of Windows XP applications turn out to run as smoothly as one would hope. Fortunately there is an option for those that would like a fresh interface experience but with the proven stability for applications that Windows XP has grown to offer.

While I was reading an RSS feed from one of the Yahoo! Pipes I had created I acme across a tutorial from that gave instructions on how to Vista-ize your XP. Its basically as simple as downloading the Vista Transformation Pack and setting your graphic card settings to enable transparent windows. Check with your graphics card manufacturer for instructions on how to enable the feature.

The Vista Transformation Pack can be downloaded here.

Also, if you don't like some of the applications Vista Transformation Pack sets to startup with the operating system boot you can turn this off by going to:

1. Start
2. Click Run
3. Type in: msconfig
4. Click Ok
5. Select the StartUp Tab
6. Uncheck the items you do not want to boot at startup and click ok
7. The system will prompt to reboot again. Reboot the system and the items should not boot at startup.
8. A warning box will let you know that you started in a manner where some applications were not loaded. To turn off that warning, you can check off the box that tells Windows not to warn you with this information in the future.

After installing the Vista Transformation Pack your XP system should look very similar how Vista looks and functions.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

5 Ways To Be More Productive In Your Every Day Life And How Technology Can Help You Do It.

Its amazing how busy life can be and the number of tasks that pile up before you each day. But there is nothing better than the feeling you get after you've accomplished the things you needed to. Below are 5 ways that can help you be more productive in your life and how technology can help you do it.

Set Goals

One of the most important aspects of productivity is knowing what and when something needs to be accomplished. With out this information nothing will ever get done. By setting goals you chart out the various things in your life that you would like to accomplish. Be sure to write down the goals you have. In reality, it isn't a goal until its been documented.

After you've written down your goals, list below each one all the tasks and objectives that must be completed for you to reach that goal. For example, if your goal is to save $1,000 this month you'll have to do a number of things to reach this goal. The first may be creating a budget. The second may include spending less on lunch each day. I like to call these mini-goals. They're the goals that you have to live in order to reach your end goals, or in other words, they're the means to the end.

One of the best ways to record your goals is through Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Recording your goals online allows you to access them from anywhere. I personally like to use the spreadsheets as I can easily add mini-goals by inserting rows and check off the goals I complete. Google Docs & Spreadsheets also let you quickly and easily share your goals with others. A great way to accomplish a goal is to tell other people what you're working towards. It adds accountability and another edge to help remind you of what you're trying to accomplish. The share feature also allows you to create group goals or family goals that other people can access and record how they're doing. For example, if you're trying to diet with a friend or family member. You can setup a spreadsheet that you both can access that displays how you're both doing on your diet.

2. Use To Do Lists

To do lists should include some of your mini-goals. Almost all goals require that you change or add something to your daily life. The list will help you keep track of all the tasks that are ahead of you and help you manage your time better to ensure that you accomplish your mini-goals. Set to do lists in places where you can see them throughout the day. They should help you work towards your weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. offers a great way to create and manage your to do lists. Setting up an account takes just a few clicks and once you're registered you can quickly add tasks on a day to day bases or set them up to reoccur periodically. You can organize the lists based on categories such as personal, work, and inbox; or even create your own.

One of the great features about creating your to do lists on is that you can add your to do list to your Google Front page or to Google Calendar. This is a great way to remind yourself of everything you need to do each day.

3. Follow A Schedule

Keeping a schedule is the only way to help yourself stay on task. Use a Calendar to help do this and keep track of all activities you want to accomplish. I use Google Calendar to keep track of the various engagements in my life. I try and schedule everything that takes up time from my day and then work in the things on my to do list to make sure I continue to meet my daily responsibilities and still am capable of reaching my goals.

Google Calendar is great in that it allows you to send yourself reminders of events either through pop-ups, email, or even text messages to your phone. This can be done by changing your settings and adjusting how you want to receive notifications. I currently have Google calendar setup to send me an email every morning listing the agenda for the day and then I set important events to remind my through sending a txt message to my phone. This helps me be at the places I need to be and to stay on schedule to meet all the daily expectations.

4. Wake Up Earlier

You'll accomplish more before everyone else is actively about. I've found that the first few hours of my day are my most productive. My mind is fresh and my body is rested. I feel that I get things done faster and I'm able to stay more focused as I know that there is nothing else to do in those early morning hours. On a good day, I try and wake up early enough to finish a few things around the house and then still get into work by 7am. Everything runs much smoother and I find my email inbox, my tasks at work, and the people I interact with to be much more organized and less stressful. Having Google Calendar send me a daily agenda each morning at 5am also is extremely helpful to remind me what I need to accomplish as soon as I get out of bed.
gives additional detail on early mornings and productivity.

5. Review Progress

Check off what you've accomplished each day on your mini-goal documents, your to do lists, and on your Calendar. It will help you keep track of what you have accomplished and what else still needs to be done. Using online tools allows you to review your progress from anywhere.

Technology is making these 5 methods to increase productivity easier and is a great way to keep track of all the work you are doing in your personal and work life.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Add Music to Your Phone's Ringtones

Getting Started

One feature that is continually being added to more cell phones is the capability to play music and have music as your ring-tone. Unfortunately the cell phone companies want to sell you an additional hardware package to give you the ability to add your music to your phone. After searching the web and trying the suggested methods I found a quick and easy way to add your music to your ring-tones without purchasing any additional hardware or software. This tutorial will walk through the process on OS X 10.4+ but most of the software used is also available for Windows XP or Vista. Additionally, your phone and computer must both have bluetooth installed and enabled.

Connecting Your Phone To your Computer

The most important part of this tutorial is making sure that your computer and phone can communicate to each other. In Mac OS X make sure that bluetooth is on by going to system preferences >> bluetooth >> Settings: Bluetooth Power should be on. Next click on the Devices tab and then click on Set Up New Device. At this point, the Bluetooth Setup Assistant will appear and walk you through the process of connecting your computer to your phone. NOTE: Your Bluetooth enabled phone must be set to discoverable mode. After you've finished the Bluetooth Setup Assistant click the Sharing tab in the Bluetooth Preferences set Bluetooth File Transfer and Bluetooth File Exchange to On.

Setting Up Free Software

Now that your phone and computer are setup to communicate with each other we need to install the software that will allow us to edit and add to the files on your phone. BITPIM for Mac is a great tool that easily allows users to extract and add information to the files on their phone including ring-tones, sms messages, and address book information. It is also available for Windows and works in a similar method. After installing this software onto your computer you'll need to set it up to communicate with your exact phone. To do this go to preferences >> Phone Setting Wizard. Follow the onscreen instructions and select one of the available communication ports. After clicking next click Detect phone. The phone must Pass detection. If it does not, step back and select a different communication port and try again. Once your phone is detected by BITPIM you're set to start to edit your ring-tones and other files on your phone.

Adding Your Music to Your Ring-tones

Not that your phone and computer are connected through bluetooth and through the BITPIM software you can easily access the ringers on your phone. Click the Phone icon on the top with the are coming from the phone. A new window will pop up showing PhoneBook, Calendar, Wallpaper, etc. Check all of these and make sure Replace All is selected and hit Ok. Your computer will start to pull down all the related information from your phone and save it in BITPIM. After the information has been pulled from your phone click on ringers(Under Media). Any previous custom ring-tones you've installed on your phone will be listed. Click the Music Note with the green plus sign on the top of the menu. This will bring up a window to allow you to search for your music. Find the mp3 file you're looking for and then click open. A Convert Audio File window will appear with options that will allow you to convert the file into a format your phone can read. I suggest setting the bitrate to 96 as it will sound better on your phone. Click Convert. This will convert the entire song and when it is finished click ok. You should now see your song included with the others previous installed under Ringers. It is important to note that for your ring-tone you may only want 30 seconds of a song as more than that will rarely be used as a ringing option and the extra time of the song will just make the file larger and take up memory space on your computer. To edit these songs I'd suggest using a program such as Audacity with will allow you to edit your song file down to just the 30 second of the song that you would like as your ring-tone.

Now that your song has been added to your ringers it is ready to add to your phone. Click the Phone icon with the green arrow pointing towards it and check just the Ringtone Box. Change the selection from Replace All to All and then click ok. You've just told BITPIM to take the data you've added to ringers and send it to your phone. THe status bar the bottom will start to move and various files on your phone will be updated. When its finished you should be able to go to your ring-tones and see the song that you've just added. Select it and test it to make sure that it sounds the way you like. At this point you should have successfully added a song to your ring-tone. NOTE: to remove songs, delete the desired songs from the ringers list in BITPIM and then send the Ringtones to the phone using the above instructions but click replace all. This will remove the desired songs from your phone.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

RSS Feeds Rediscovered with Yahoo! Pipes

The amazing thing about the Internet is that it is always adapting and evolving into something better, more powerful, and more enjoyable for us, the users. The Internet got a lot more enjoyable when Yahoo! released a new RSS product, Pipes. But before I jump into how wonderful this tool that Yahoo has created for us and that makes the internet that more enjoyable I'll give a quick background on RSS feeds and my experience with them

One of the things I love to do with my free time is to venture out to the ends of the internet and read about the various new technologies that are being developed and the cutting edge technical products that will soon be released. A while back I came across some articles that talked about RSS feeds and how they were changing the way people used the internet.

I wondered to myself "what are RSS feeds?" I did a quick Wikipedia search for RSS feeds to learn more. When I discovered that RSS feeds were "a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds or podcasts." I started to understand what the various authors meant when they referred to RSS feeds as changing the way people used the internet. RSS feeds would allow the internet to come to users instead of users going out to the internet. One area I struggled with was how people receive this information and whether they could customize it. Receiving the content didn't turn out to be an issue but there weren't many tools that allowed you to customize the various RSS feeds.
Shortly after reading these articles I started to notice the RSS logo appear on various webpages and used my web browser to subscribe to the feeds from the websites I frequented often. Firefox and Safari allowed users to subscribe to this new frequently updated content. IE6 did not include any built in RSS features but Microsoft quickly fixed this when they released IE7 with full RSS support. Of the three, Safari for Mac OS X is the best browser based RSS reader. Unfortunately I use a Windows based laptop at work and wasn't able to use Safari all the time.

I tried using Google Reader as a RSS feed reader but never felt fully comfortable with it. I must admit that it has come a long way since its original release, but navigating to a website to find out about other websites bugs me. I eventually stumbled across Snarfer a FREE windows application that allowed you to subscribe to various RSS feeds and group them into categories to help you organize the information that the internet was sending you. It also gives the users the ability to assign how often feeds should be checked for new information and how long to save the information you've gathered. Snarfer has been great as it works its way to version 1.0

Added features to web browsers and the new RSS reader software that was readily available quickly solved my worries about how RSS content would get to users but customizing this information was still a problem.

Yahoo! Pipes is the solution. I didn't completely comprehend the power that Yahoo was giving us through pipes but after looking through a few examples and sketching out a few on my own the ability to clearly specify the information I wanted to receive got me excited. To demonstrate how powerful Yahoo Pipes are lets walk through one I created.

Photoshop is an amazing application that lets users create and edit images in anyway they can imagine. But with all that power it is sometimes difficult to learn how to do what you want to do. This is where Yahoo Pipes brings search and youtube together to send users a constant RSS feed. After navigating to login with a yahoo ID and go to create a new pipe. The first thing you want to do is select a source from the left.

For this pipe select Yahoo Search by clicking the arrow to drop it down on to your pipe. In the Search for box enter "Photoshop Tutorial" and below in the input field listed with a url enter This Tells the pipe to do a yahoo search of information just at youtube for photoshop tutorials.

The next thing we want to ensure is that all the video tutorials we receive in our RSS feeds are unique and not duplicates of themselves. To do this we select operators on the left and then unique. To connect the search criteria with the Unique filter we need to drag pipes from one box to the next and then finally to the output. You should see a small circle at the bottom and/or top of each of the boxes. Click the circle under the Yahoo search and drag it to the Unique filter. At this point the Unique filter will update and in the drop down menu give you options. For this particular feed you can filter based on title or description. We'll use description which will eliminate two videos that are the same from appearing in our feed.

To finish the pipe, simply drag the circle at the bottom of the Unique filter to the Pipe Output box. At the bottom you'll see a Refresh button. Click this and your field details will display. The Photoshop Tutorial Pipe is now finished and we can review our results by saving the pipe and clicking back to my pipes. What ever you saved the pipe as will appear in the list of your pipes. Click that and then click run this pipe. Your feed will display with details about each of the tutorials found through your Pipes Criteria. You can subscribe to this feed through a number of different readers or set it to your browser and then any updates to this feed will automatically be available to you without you doing the search in the future.

While this is a short and simple approach to Yahoo! Pipes the possibilities of how you can create custom information feeds around your web browsing habits are endless. You can follow this tutorial and adjust the search terms to anything from programing tutorials to Wake boarding videos and it will output you with an RSS feed set just the way you want it.