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.