QR Codes

Ever see one of those square barcode like looking thingys?

I had one hanging on my door from Google Places, but, I did not know what it was or what to do with it.

It looked cool, so I stuck it up there.

So what the hell is it?

Well, finally getting curious I did a bit of web searching.  WikiPedia, of course, has a nice, concise, explanation which I quote below:

QR code (short for Quick Response) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. QR is the abbreviation for Quick Response, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.[1]

The technology has seen a large uptake in Japan and South Korea. However, in the west there has been a considerably slower adoption of QR Codes.[2]

I suspect that as SmartPhones become more prevalent, the use of the QR codes may increase here.

Give it a try! If you have a SmartPhone, and the appropriate app on it (you can find free QR apps on either the iphone or android phones)…….scan the QR code I put at the top of this blog entry.

Where did you go?  Pretty cool, huh?

I also have a QR code with my name, business, phone and email…in other words a contact QR code.

According to the “QR Droid” app (a great application by the way…I will donate some $$) I downloaded on my HTC Aria, I can make a QR code for:

  • Contact
  • URL Address
  • Application (calls up an app?, I have not tried it….yet)
  • Phone Number
  • Calendar Event
  • Free Text (how is that as opposed to priced text?)
  • Geolocation
  • SMS

Pretty impressive list of uses….I will start integrating QR codes in my work life more and more.  For example, do you want to rent a room, or sign up for coworking?  Scan the appropriate QR code to call me (and store my number easily on your phone), send me a text message, an email, or just go directly to Paypal.

VERY COOL. (Hmmmmm, I will make up a QR code with my contact information for the next Tracy Chamber Meeting….that would be interesting).

In addition to being useful…I think it is pretty geeky nerdy cool…..just like me!  :-)

Speaking of nerds……I will be getting a t-shirt made up with the QR code I made on top.

I can just see the kids at the Mall with SmartPhones scanning my shirt and then learning that they need to….

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.

DotXXX URL’s Coming Soon

Sorry ’bout that.  Just reporting the news on the technical front.  And, hey, like we are all innocent here…duh.  :-)

The Washington Post reports that yesterday the Internet naming authority has approved the use of the .xxx suffix.

“On Friday in San Francisco, the California nonprofit that oversees Internet addresses gave the green light to the virtual red-light district. The vote comes after several years of clashes and deliberations by the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers.”

There are always two sides to any issue, and with this one, that does not change. Interestingly, many in the porn industry are afraid that the .xxx sites might be subject to mass blocking.

Read the Washington Post article for all the information on this up coming change.  (Sorry, I could not resist.)

Video Conferencing and Porn

I’m sure I have told this story before, but, when video conferencing was new, many of the calls we got regarding the technical aspects of videoconferencing were from porn site operators.  The questions were super technical and very detailed.

I’m sure the porn industry has had it’s own (if not very quiet) impact on the development of video collaboration, video chat, and video streaming over the Internet.

Chrome 10, Firefox 4, IE 9 New Fast Browsers

UPDATE 12/9/2011:  Chrome printing is WAY improved, IE is shit, Firefox is still not as fast as Chrome.

Chrome started the lean fast browser thing.  As soon as I tried it, I was hooked, and I have not left since.

Now Firefox 4 and IE 9 are available and both are significantly faster (and leaner) than their previous incarnations.  I use Chrome 10 as my default browser, I use Firefox 4 as my “xtremeloco.com” browser, and I don’t use IE at all (but I will download and try IE 9).

I was breezing the Internet this morning and found this awesome report by the good folks at PCMag.com (I wonder if they need help?  THAT would be a fun job) comparing the three browsers wrt:

1. Interface

2.  Speed

3. Security and Privacy, Standards Support, and Extras

My Personal Experience

Between Firefox 4 and Chrome 10 I still feel like Chrome is faster (even though PCMag says otherwise).

I like Chrome’s look and feel (slim, trim, no bullshit).  The only issue I continue to have are:  printing sometimes is an issue, and no print preview.

I love the way I can set up my links in Chrome, how it holds my login information (or not, if I tell it not to), and the themes.

I will be staying with Chrome as my “default” browser.

I will download IE 9 and give it a whirl, but, I am not expecting much…so stay tuned, I’ll update this later.  OK, I downloaded it, then needed to restart my computer (don;t have to do that with either Chrome or Firefox).  It came up with the same old confusing array of menu bars I never installed (well, DUH, I never use it).  It (IE9) was faster than previous slower than snot IE versions, but, the interface is quite confusing and busy as hell…

I’ll stick with Chrome, thank you.

 

Vidyo Integrates with Microsoft Lync

Facebook friend Ckristian Zoli (he works for Vidyo) posted this announcement on Facebook this morning.

Not being in the corporate world anymore, I had never heard of Microsoft Lync…how funny.  (Gee, I feel so left out…..NOT!  :-)

I grabbed this from Microsoft:

Microsoft Lync 2010 is truly a unified communication client with instant messaging, meetings, and voice. With an updated user interface, Lync 2010 brings together communication tools that work the way you are used to using them. The client features a dashboard that makes it easy to find and use common functions such as the dial pad, visual voicemail, the contact list, and the list of active conversations.

But….I have heard of Vidyo and was suitably impressed with it’s capabilities (ok…they are awesome) when I tested it for this blog a couple of years ago (time flies…arrrghh).

Now, according to this announcement, Vidyo has been integrated with Microsoft Lync to provide HD multipoint video conferencing for Lync users.  For those who understand this:  The Vidyo app is a plug-in for Lync that is an extension of SIP utilizing H.264 SVC video coding.

What that means is that personal telepresence (Vidyo style…) is getting closer and closer to the personal telepresence we we defined way back in 1992.  :-)

iPad 2 and Video Conferencing

Steve Jobs (YES!) announced today that the iPad 2 will be released March 11th.

I went to the spec page, grabbed the screen shots,  and tried to learn a bit more about the cameras (yes there are now two) and video conferencing capabilities.

The iPad 2 will come in two flavors:  WiFi only (802.11a/b/g/n) and WiFi + 3G (looks like both AT&T and Verizon).  It will have 16Gig or 32 Gig or 64 Gig of RAM (do they still call it RAM???).

One source (that sounds official doesn’t it?)  says it will do Facetime video chat and I believe that, but, I wonder if it will use 3G, or just WiFi?  Oddly, I can’t find mention of video conferencing on the spec page….DUH.

Almost as interesting….the spec page mentions that “video will support H.264″ at up to 720p (the front camera is VGA quality, while the back camera supports up to 720p). Does that mean Apple video conferencing will be able to talk to other standards-based videoconferencing equipment?

Anyway…it will be interesting to see…

 

Facebook Video Chat

I mean seriously...who is better looking? :-)

I tried video chat (video conference) via Facebook about a year ago…it sucked.

Now…the good folks at PCMag.com tell me that the co-founder of RealNetworks, Rob Glaser, has developed a new Facebook video chat (video call) application called “SocialEyes“.

Very clever name.

But it remains to be seen how well it works….you know me…Mr. Skeptical.

I’ll give it a whirl sometime when I get the urge.  If you have already done so…leave a comment below.

According to PCMag.com SocialEyes can connect 5 to 7 people in a video chat (a good thing), and uses Adobe Flash 10.  Maybe not so good as I have had dropping issues with Flash-based video stuff.

Anyway…if it works well, this could be a great thing.  Facebook connects the world, if it can connect these people using video conferencing …WOW!

Playing with It a Bit

Just a few quick tries.  I can record a message and play it back using Chrome and Firefox (IE does not exist in my world).  BUT…I can’t figure out how to add friends to send the message to, and every time I click “Send” it wants me to record again.

It SHOULD be a whole lot easier to use than this.  I logged in with my Facebook account…it should grab all my friends and allow me to send a message easy as 3.14.

Some work still needs to be done.  I’ll keep playing with it…

Motorola XOOM

Looks like this new tablet from Motorola may cut into the sales of the iPad.

Can you hear me know?   Kinda late….but, maybe better late than never applies.

It uses the Android 3.0 operating system.

I hear it comes with two cameras, one front facing for video chats (video conferencing) and taking pictures of yourself easily, and one rear facing (higher resolution).

Hmmm, does it use 3G or 4G or just WiFi?  Ah…it seems as though this web site (Fuze Meeting) says 3G/4G works for videoconferencing.

Cool…..here is a video.

Toshiba Android Tablet

It looks like Toshiba is coming out soon with an Android based tablet.  I love Toshiba computers!  See the header picture to see my “Old Faithful” Toshiba laptop (6 years old and still going strong), and am writing this on my new Satellite A665.  Lori and Kristen both love their Toshiba laptops…

Before buying a tablet (IPad, etc)….I will wait for this one to be released to see it.

Google Docs Application Sharing

Note:  Fast forward to time 5:48 to see how you can share a doc.

This past week, I tried something new:  Joleen and I worked remotely, but, together, on a proposal we submitted for a new project.

In the old days, application sharing (working together on a document) with video conferencing stuff was unheard of.

WebEx (and others) came along to make application sharing a bit easier, but, truthfully, most of those solutions were geared toward the coporate world and were (and still are) dang expensive.

Then sometime later, video conferencing standards were developed (H.239) that allowed endpoints to present slides to a large audience, and individuals to work together on a document.  But again, the audience was limited to those who use standards-based corporate (for the most part) videoconferencing systems.

The world of collaboration was getting better. But, still difficult and costly.

Along comes Google.

And, now, application sharing using Google Docs is easy.  Super easy….in fact so easy that it never occurred to me to use it.  Why take the easy way out, when difficult is soooo much damn fun.  :-)

To make a long story short, Joleen and I worked collaborativly on a document that originated in Open Office and was uploaded to our shared folder on Google Docs.

I could see her typing, and she could see mine.  We could chat (if we were not in the same room…how funny is that?), and the document was automatically saved in the shared folder where we could both access it at anytime, from anywhere.

VERY COOL!  Application sharing made easy.  Gotta love the cloud.

If you are not using Google Docs…give it a try.  Collaborating with remotely located family, friends, and colleagues is easy, fun, and productive.

Hmmmm, Get off the roads!

Telecommuting = Coworking = Telework

Google Keywords-A Quick Introduction

Before you read my drivel, watch this guy explain Google Keywords.  Very nice, very clear…

Full-time AltamontCowork member, Joleen is researching how to attract more readers to her blog.

During her research, she found this Google keyword site that ranks the keywords according to how often people search for stuff with using those keywords.

Sweeeeeet.

You can sign into Google using your Google account or you can do it anonymously.  Lets do it in stealth mode and see what happens.

You can see below that there are are many advanced settings you can choose from.  I’ll keep it on United States and English, well….hmmm, just because.

I’ll search for the keywords that mean the most to this blog: “video conferencing” (there, see, just doing that will get me millions of hits…haha).

I put in the “I’m a real person” ID word and the screen below popped up.

You can see that “video conferencing” has 110,000 local monthly searches and 246,000 global searches but that the competition for that combination of words is high.

That is cool, but, a lot of the searches for video conferencing (more hits!) will end up at Wainhouse Research or somewhere other than this blog…competition.

It would be nice if I could find a keyword combination that has LOTS of searches and LOW competition. THAT would ensure a higher number of people hitting this site. Lets scroll down…and look for low competition and a good number of searches.

Here is the list from low to high competition.

You can bet that within the next few seconds, I will be adding a tag for “video call” (billions of hits coming my way!) and adding “video call” (billions more!) to many of my blog entries!  Done, I added it.

Next Day

Joleen told me to check the box “Exact” in the left hand column. Lets see what changes.

There is a difference….but it beats the hell out of me which is best to use.  I guess practice will tell.  Or maybe I should just listen to Joleen.  :-)

Conclusion

Anyway….This was a real quick introduction to the Google Keyword site….play with it and see how YOU can get more readers on your blog or web site!

Cool tool.

Solid State Drives

In the “old” days we had a term for random access memory that did not lose it’s data contents when power was turned off.  Non-volatile RAM…NVRAM.

It was cool stuff then, still is.

Now the the next generation of non-volatile memory is being used in solid state drives (SSD’s)…..and the latest smart devices (cell phones, MP3 players, etc) are taking full advantage.

Apple is once again pushing the envelope and the recently announced Apple  MacBook Air comes with 64 GB or 128 GB of “flash memory” for you computer data instead of the traditional, old technology, hard drive.

So far, SSD’s come in packages up to about 256 GB, but, I”m sure that will be increasing rapidly, as prices of memory come down.

The benefits of SSD’s over tradional hard drives, in mind are compelling, here are only a few:

1. NO moving parts. The traditional hard drive is a mechanically complex device manufactured to very tight tolerance.  One thing goes wrong and the drive can stop working.

2. Lower power consumption. Longer battery life, less energy used (multiply that by millions and millions and millions of devices and you are talking about a significant impact on the environment).

3. Faster access times. Solid state is ALWAYS faster than mechanical.  By a mile (speaking in electron terms).  You computer will be much faster.  And….no need to defrag you hard drive anymore.  Electrons are just so fast, it does not really matter where they come from on the drive.  The old hard drive read head cared….a lot.

4. Smaller form factor. SSD’s of the future can be smaller than tiny and hold gobs of data.  Again, the world will be changed…hopefully for the better.

Summary

One day VERY soon your computer will have NO moving parts.  And this will be a good thing.

BUT…keep a backup…you never can be safe enough.

++++

Help support the need to raise awareness of unsafe teen driving and the need for parents  enforce curfews as long as their child lives at home or past age 23 when the brain is supposed to be fully formed.

The Computing World is Changing

 

My trusty 4 year old Toshiba laptop :-)

Got a call yesterday from a friend who is buying her daughter a computer for college.

Once we got through the pricing for the system she picked out (it was a good price for a 4 Gig RAM, 320 Gig HD laptop, with web cam) we moved on to discuss virus protection, browsers, and Office.  This is where my advice has changed DRAMATICALLY in the past 6 to 12 months.

Here goes…

1. Do not pay for anti-virus.  Go to Microsoft (lets assume we are talking Windows machines) and download Microsoft Security Essentials.  It is free, and it works fine.  And who knows Windows better than Microsoft?

2. On the flip side of Microsoft, I suggest not buying the Microsoft Office Suite.  There are two valid options here:

A. You can download the free Open Office suite of software which in it’s latest versions (a few years back this was not the case) can read and save files that are Office compatible.

B. Move to the cloud and use Google Docs which are getting better and better at a rapid pace.

3. In the old days, the speed of the processor was what made a computer.  Now, with 32 and 64 bit systems, that does not seem to be the primary measurement anymore (at least not for me).  I would say that any processor you pick (or that is installed in the computer you choose) is going to be good to excellent.   So go with the flow.  I now look at RAM, HD space, size of the screen, and if you want, an embedded web cam or not.  Pretty basic.

4. As for browsers.  My suggestions now are Chrome or Firefox.  IE is not among my favorites, but, I must say it appears to be getting better and, more importantly, safer.  Chrome is so freaking fast….and the fact that I am quickly moving everything to Google cloud…..I use Chrome almost exclusively.  Firefox when I have to, and never IE.

Lets chat about videoconferencing for one second.   With Skype (and similar video chat apps, even Facetime), and the young kids now going off to college with an intimate knowledge, and comfort, with computers…I see the day VERY SOON where videoconferencing will be, finally (finally!), ubiquitous.  Not in the conference room, but, at home, at school, and at any WiFi hot spot.

Conclusion

The world is changing, computing is moving to the cloud, and it makes sense to start making the move, or at least, not tying yourself down with expensive software as you transition.

The kids will push videoconferencing to the levels I have always thought would be the case.  My Sharepoint slide show from March 2009 (or see it embedded below) talked about “mobile videoconferencing”…THAT is fast becoming a reality.  :-)

Move on, move up…keep creating!

View more presentations from Mike Pihlman.

Virus Hunter, Part 2

A long time ago, when I was YeOldeTechy (I am no longer old, so I dropped that silly name) I had a few gigs cleaning up trojans, viruses, and other nasties.  I actually was getting pretty good at it….

The past few weeks, I have had a string of computers that were either:

A:  Slower than snot, or

B: Under the effects of a nasty.

Virus Hunter (ah….my new name!) on duty!   All the aforementioned computers are now running slick as Jay’s Shelby Mustang….yeah he has one…

Here are some new, updated tips:

PREVENTION

1. Make sure you have your Windows Firewall turned ON.  DO NOT turn it off….clear?

2. If you need a FREE anti-virus program, who better to get it from but Microsoft.  Microsoft Security Essentials works well (maybe very good going on great as I get more experience).  No more excuses….use anti-virus!

3. NEVER click on a pop-up that tells you your computer has a virus and to click here to fix it.  Guess what you just did? You allowed a virus to enter your computer!  NEVER NEVER click on something that just pops up while you are surfing.  NEVER…hmmmm, did I already say that?

4. Make sure you do the Windows UPDATES regularly.  This is important because many of the updates close holes that can be exploited by the bored idiot hackers (many of whom are very smart people).

5. Use a STRONG ($tR0NG!) password on your admin account.  If you get a nasty…change the password immediately (assuming you can).  Also go off-line…take out your network cable and turn off wireless.  Stay off until the nasty is gone.

6. Go to thisTrend Micro web site and run HouseCall….this is the program that found today’s trojan and virus.  AWESOME!  And it is free to run.

SLOW COMPUTER?

This is easy….grab a free 15 day trial of TuneUp Utilities 2010 and use all the features to speed up your computer.  At the end of the trial period….you can buy a TuneUP Utilities CD at Best Buy that works on three computers (or you can buy it online).  Money more than well spent!

CONCLUSION

Your computer can run like a young kid again….take the proper precautions and use the TuneUp application to keep it healthy and happy.

If you don’t want to do it yourself….you can bring your computer to AltamontCowork and I’ll work on it for $50….hey, the Virus Hunter is baaaccckkk.  :-)

Speaking of baaccckk….make sure you regularly backup / synchronize your important stuff.  You can do it any number of ways now, online or (my preferred) locally (I have a terabyte hard drive).   Better safe than sorry.

Living in the Cloud

OK, this was eye-opening.

At last night’s GeekMeet meeting at AltamontCowork, member Phil showed us how he could boot up his new Netbook with several different Operating Systems (Chrome OS, Android OS, Windows 7, and three flavors of Linux) each loaded on their own SD memory card (4 Gig).

Very impressive.

Since I use Google Chrome as my main browser now (super fast!) I was really interested in seeing Chrome OS, but, was not sure how I felt about NOT having my files on my computer hard drive.  There is something comfortable about having my files on my hard drive…

What I found out is that there is no appreciable difference between having my files parked on Google Docs versus being on my hard drive.

Phil let me fire up my Google account on his Netbook.  With a click of the mouse, I was in MY Google Docs and could work on any document I wanted.  Wow…

I was expecting something different…harder?  uncomfortable? weird?

What I found was extraordinary, and I realized that I had just taken  a peek at the future of working in the cloud.  Cool.

Old Way

I am soooo used to opening a folder, looking for my documents, opening the one I need (or make a new one), making changes, saving it.  Then I go home and back it up once a week.  Now the information is on two drives, just in case something goes wrong with one.

By the way, before all that…paying a couple of hundred bucks for the software (both application and operating system). Ouch.

The Cloud Way

Using Chrome OS, I landed instantly on MY  (yes, that is amazing to me…I was using Phil’s computer) Google Docs where, for FREE, I had access to pretty much all the applications I need on a daily basis and all my files.  I opened a document, made changes (or made a new one), and saved it (I could also share it with a friend or colleague, easy as 3.14).  No need to back it up…Google will do that for me.

Sweeet.

Complication?

What happens if my Internet connection goes down and I am at home in my PJ’s?

But then again, how often has that happened since the emergence of DSL and Cable?  Hmmmm, maybe twice in umpteen number of years….and I now have a wealth of Internet access alternatives if I want to get dressed (or I can grab Bob’s wireless connection in my backyard, shhhhh, don’t tell him).

Conclusion

I am almost ready to take the leap into the cloud.  Google needs and easy way to synchronize / backup all the stuff on my hard drives up to Google Docs and then I am ready to go.

The new way of computing…Phil says “its’ the death of the local file”.  I tend to agree.  Move on, move up, keep changing!  This is great fun, folks.

Wait a second…what ever happened to Wyse terminals?  Is this back to the future?

:-)

Story: Back in 1995, I left a good job (what an idiot) to join a start-up (Zydacom) that was developing a way to access applications via the Internet.  To rent them.  Sound familiar?  That company only lasted 9 months….but the concept, although early, was sound.

Cleaning our Dell Computer

OK, our desktop DELL (that is it’s name: DELL)  is about hmmm, 6 years old now.

When we bought it, I bought the fastest, biggest, machine possible hoping it would last.  It has.  It has been almost perfect (had to replace a CD disk and I complain about various things, but, that is me).

Lately, DELL has been slowing down more and more, sometimes taking up to 10 minutes to boot up.

Yesterday, I went to CNET Downloads, in the Utilities section and decided to get mean and nasty with DELL and see if I could speed it up.

It worked!!!  I feel like I have a new computer…

What did it?

Not totally sure, but, it was a combination of these programs that, even in demo mode that did the trick.

1. Revo Uninstaller: I used this to get rid of programs we don’t use anymore. I will donate or buy this.  I love it.  It gets rid of crap that others leave behind.

2. Wise Disk Cleaner (Free): Apparently this cleaned out a bunch of junk on my hard drive and recovered a ton of space.  (on that note, overall, I recovered about 6 gig of hard drive).  I like it, but, the TuneUp software mentioned below may do the same stuff.  I may donate or buy…I’ll decide in a week or two.   I tried the defrag, but, it shut off when the disk cleaner was done…very odd.

3. Wise Registry Cleaner:  I liked the disk cleaner so I tried it.  Seems to work, but, it shuts itself off randomly…weird.

4. MemTurbo PC Optimizer: Interesting.  Allows me to play a little with my memory allocations.  Since the demo version does not allow you to do / try all of it’s features, I may not buy it simply because I cannot try it fully.   Too bad, since it could be the best thing since sliced bread, but I might not ever know.

5. TuneUp Utilities 2010: I suspect this one helped the most.  Slick interface, does a lot, and, after using it, my computer started up much quicker. I’ll probably buy this.

6. Auslogics Disk Defrag: This took a long time to work, but, I checked the disk this morning with Windows built in defrag and it was better than I have ever seen it.  Another donation or purchase.

7. Microsoft Security Essentials: I load this now on our new machines and am now going back to the old machines (remember I still have my trusty Toshiba laptop which is about 5 years old now)  and taking off Norton and putting in Security Essentials.  The price is right, and who knows the OS better?  I have no problems with it, so far.

Conclusion

CNET has a ton of Utilities (and other stuff) on their web site for download.  I like the fact that, for some of the stuff, the CNET Editors have tried it and I like the user reviews.

Gotta give credit to Dell Computer and Toshiba.  Solid machines.

Our world is changing to mobile / laptops (Kristen will get a laptop when she starts at the University of Pacific this Fall), so when DELL finally goes…our family will be totally mobile.  The central computer, in our family, will be a thing of the past.

I’ll add my 2 cents to the user reviews on CNET….

Google TV

Related to yesterday’s blog posting (funny how I timed that blog entry…completely random, believe me), this article on Computerworld tells us that Google, Sony, and Logitech are planning to introduce an Internet capable (smart) TV.

This Android-based TV (sure hope it will be High Def…interesting, Friend Paul posted this link on Facebook that mentions 1080p HD) will connect to your Internet connection that is now oh so very handy…at your TV!

When this happens, possibly this Fall, you can watch a TV show, record one on your DVR,  (I’m sure) videoconference using Skype (Logitech makes web cams too), work on an application with the remote end (via a planned wireless keyboard and mouse), and watch movies, TV shows, News, etc all from the Internet.

The center of the family and computer network will finally move to the vicinity of the TV.

VEEERRRY INTEEERESTING, indeed.

Hmmmm, is there gonna be a REBOOT button on TV’s now?  Since I have been aware of TV (the 50’s) my TV has been VERY reliable….I’m afraid that may change.

Comments?

Home Networking Paradigm Shift

Figured I’d change the tone a bit for this blog.  Instead of heavy emphasis on product testing (which is time consuming and sometimes expensive), I’ll start commenting on things technical that strike my fancy or when I see interesting developments that I just can’t keep quiet about.

The Old Days – Way in the Past

In the old days, I had the computer network in our house centered in the study.

We had our big desktop system (the DELL), an HP printer, a VERY old HUB (yes….a hub), and my trusty old Toshiba laptop (yes…it is still my main laptop since 2006!).

I ran cat 5 tp from the garage into the study for my DSL connection, and later on, I decided my trusty Toshiba laptop could be used in the Family Room, or outside, so I installed a Linksys wireless router….in the study, of course.

VUDU Days – Start of the Paradigm Shift – Not So Far in the Past

A couple of years ago (search this blog for VUDU for the complete story) I found a 5 WaterTower technology that allowed us to watch high quality movies via the Internet.  Only problem:  I needed to run a cat 5 (I could have done wireless, but, hey…) wire from the Study to the Family Room near the TV and the VUDU.

Now I had Internet access next to the HDTV (we bought this HDTV in Feb 2005…see one of my first blog entries).

The shift has begun.

Wireless Era – Recent Past

The old Linksys wireless router now was responsible for supporting a wider range of wireless devices.  Over a couple of years, we acquired 2 IPod Touches, and one more laptop computer which was used 100% of the time wireless.

The old Linksys was still in the study, but, now the computing devices were mostly mobile (the DELL and printer the hub and the DSL were still in the study).

Comcast Internet – Paradigm Shift Well Under Way – Current

Not happy with our DSL provider (how dare they think I’m a complete idiot when I called for technical assistance…) I moved to Comcast Internet (which I have at AltamontCowork and am very happy with).

But that move posed a dilemma.  I only have one cat 5 wire running from the study to the Family Room.  Where do I set up the cable “modem” (remember these are not really modems….), how do I connect the DELL, Printer, and Linksys?

Solution:  First of all….I was forced to place the cable modem near the TV.  The old Linksys was getting flaky, so I bought a new E1000 Linksys (I still like Linksys even though they are now part of the Cisco collective) wireless router, and a new 5 port switch (to replace the ancient hub in the study).

Now the DELL and Printer are connected to the new switch.  The switch is connected via the original cat 5 to the Family Room to the new E1000 wireless router.

VUDU is wired to the E1000 (a very short cat 5 cable), and the new Cable modem is connected via wire to the E1000.   The iPod’s and laptops are wireless via the E1000.  If I ever decided to connect the Blu-Ray to the Internet, the E1000 has room, and the needed cable will be short.

Conclusion / Future

The shift of our house computer networking needs from the Study to the Family Room is nearly complete.  I suspect a wireless printer will be next, and the new computer replacement for the DELL will be a laptop.  The study will then be free of computing devices, but, I will keep the new Printer there just for old times.

The new center of our world is now the Family Room….by the big HDTV (we now have a “small” HDTV in the Living Room.

Pretty soon my prediction of many many years ago will come true.  Kristen will be at college (she starts at University of Pacific in the Fall, not the University of Kansas in my article) and will call me, via videoconferencing, on my HDTV.

Google Chrome OS

Rating: 4 WaterTowers (the next step?)

I remember the Wyse terminals that connected to, and totally relied on, a mainframe computer.  There were also Internet dependent thingy’s that came out awhile back (hey…getting old, memory is fading).  I worked for a start-up briefly in the mid-90’s with the idea of putting apps on the Internet…we died.

I could be wrong…..but,  the Google Chrome OS seems to be the next step in the dumbing down (in a good sense) of the personal computer.   Your Netbook computer (or regular one?) can now (or will soon be able to) connect to the Internet to do what you need to do faster than you can now.  To me….it is the latest version of a Wyse terminal.

Forget files on your hard-drive…..all your stuff now will be in (on?) the Internet.  Your emails, documents, photos, movies, and all the cool things you do on a daily basis (write a blog!) will be located in the cloud.  What happens if your Internet connection goes down?  READ!  :-)

Cloud computing!?  Grid computing!?

Anyway…here is a coolio video from Google explaning a bit more about this new Operating System.  Hmmmmm, I wonder what Microsoft thinks about this?

One thing is for sure…7 seconds or so booting up is appealing. I use Google Chrome because it is soooo fast, I simply can’t go back to Firefox or, yuk, IE.

From the video:  1990 is a LONG time ago????  Yikes!  Seems like yesterday to me….

Thanks to (Twitter) @pyale for the discussions and links leading to this blog!

http://www.youtube.com/v/0QRO3gKj3qw&hl=en_US&fs=1&

Logitech V450 Nano Cordless Laser Mouse

logitech-v450-cordless-lase

Rating:  4 WaterTowers (cool laser wireless mouse)

Last night we went to Best Buy in Tracy, CA and, as usual, I browsed the aisles to find technology that, to me, might be new and exciting.  In the computer section, I saw the Logitech V450 Nano Cordless Laser Mouse and picked it up.  $50 or so.

Don’t wanna read?  Watch the video :-)

Background

I started coworking in the Tracy Virtual Office.   Prior to last week, I had set myself up with a “desk” and “office”, but, I decided to cowork like everyone else and quickly realized that I had too much stuff.  One of the issues I am running into are wires!  Wires everywhere.  If I could eliminate a wire or two or three…..that would be good.

A wireless mouse is one more step in the wireless direction.

I also had a slight issue with the old mouse….it did not work on some of the plastic tables (remember the TVO is a new operation) we have for coworkers.  So I had to use my Mickey Mouse Pad, which is ok, but, one more thing I had to stuff in my carry-all.

I am finding out….when you cowork, less is better.

Old Mouse and Mickey Mouse Pad Now in Storage

Old Mouse and Mickey Mouse Pad

I also figured I’d give the the laser technology of the V450 a try on the different surfaces. (It works!)

One more cool thing:  The USB receiver (operating at 2.4 GHz for the wireless communication) is very small and meant to stay in the computer.  The simplest solutions are the most elegant!

Mouse and Nano USB Receiver

Mouse and Nano USB Receiver

Installation

I installed the two AA batteries in the mouse and turned the computer on.  After the computer booted up, I installed the nano receiver in a USB port in the back of the laptop and turned on the mouse.  The computer (my very old Toshiba laptop running Windows XP) found the new hardware and after a few seconds I was good to go!

Nano USB Receiver Installed

Nano USB Receiver Installed

Excellent.  So far, it is working very well, and I have gotten rid of one wire, one mouse pad and now have a mouse that works on ALL the TVO work surfaces!  The brochure tells me I will also have more accurate position control of the cursor, and that seems to be true thus far.  Whoopee!

New Wireless Mouse

New Wireless Mouse

Summary

For $50 the Logitech V450 is working great and has cleaned up my coworking desktop just a bit.

I can download software to add features, but, hey, I’m happy with this.  If I get adventurous, I’ll do that at a later date.