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Technology

Gina Trapani – Control Your Email Inbox with Three Folders

Gina Trapani, one of the hosts of This Week in Google, founding editor of the website Lifehacker and publisher of Smarterware.org, presents a very simple and effective method of keeping your email inbox organized and empty, no matter how many emails you get.

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Kevin

Watch Out! John Stewart Might Skullf#$k You!!!

At least, that’s what the blogosphere says…

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Rant

The Fair Elections Now Act

For the second time since I started this site, I’ve felt compelled to write my congressmen about what I feel is a very important issue.

About two weeks ago, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The case focused on the constitutionality of limiting corporations’ independent spending during campaigns for the Presidency and Congress.  In a 5-4 decision, the court essentially removed any restrictions on corporations and campaign spending.  What this means is that our voices as voting American citizens will be drowned out by large corporations with deep pocketbooks who want to see THEIR candidate in office. Our votes now count for much less than ever before.

I, like many others, feel this is unacceptable.

Harvard Professor of Law Lawrence Lessig has started an online petition called Change Congress in support of the Fair Elections Now Act.  The basics of the bill would allow federal candidates to choose to run for office without relying on large contributions, big money bundlers, or donations from lobbyists, and would be freed from the constant fundraising in order to focus on what people in their communities want.

Today, I had the opportunity to send an email to John Boccieri (D), George Voinovich (R), and Sherrod Brown (D), my representatives in Congress, to ask them to support the Fair Elections Now Act.  Here is what I wrote:

My voice should count as much as any other voter during the elections. With the recent decision by the Supreme Court, however, I feel that the power of my voice is now directly proportional to the size of my checkbook. To me, this flies in the face of everything the Founding Fathers stood for so long ago.

There is a way to fix this problem: the Fair Elections Now Act.

You have the ability to remind this country what a democratic republic is and how it is supposed to work. You have the ability to renew the faith of the American people in you and Congress. You have the ability to make things right.

Please do so. Thank you.

Please research the court decision and the House and Senate bills which have been introduced in response to the decision.  If you feel like I do, let your voice be heard. Don’t let our democratic republic be taken away from us.

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iPhone

My iPhone Experiment Wrap-Up

It’s the end of January, so it’s time for me to bring my iPhone experiment to a close.  Let’s see how I did.

For the most part, I found almost everything I needed to work exclusively from my phone. Here’s a list of what I wanted to do and what apps I found to do them with:

Posting to the website – WordPress app
Tracking my finances – PocketMoney
Twitter – TwitBird Pro
Facebook – Facebook app
MySpace – MySpace app
LinkedIn – LinkedIn app
Downloading and listening to podcasts – RSS Player
Weather – AccuWeather
Accessing my Dropbox account – Dropbox app
Controlling my computer’s iTunes – Remote
Managing my web logins – LastPass
Voice over IP – Skype
Grocery shopping – Grocery Gadget
Task management – Toodledo
Notes – Evernote
Streaming audio, music – Slacker Radio
Streaming audio, talk – TWiT
Managing my bank accounts – Chase
Managing my cell phone account – AT&T myWireless
Audio recording – iTalk Lite
Streaming video – UStream Viewer
Ordering dinner – Chipotle
Follow the Australian Open – 2010 Australian Open app
Drum corps related apps – iLike Phantom Regiment,  Drum Corps Europe News

As you can see, there’s a few apps I haven’t reviewed yet.  I’ll be posting those as soon as I can, hopefully today.  Also, there’s a few areas which I haven’t downloaded apps for, but hope to in the future.  Those are:

Instant messaging
Document editing
Digital wallet

I have a pretty good idea of which apps I’ll get to fill those needs, but I won’t post those until I’ve downloaded and used the apps in question.

Overall, I was able to use my iPhone to do whatever I needed to do most of the time.  There were a few times, such as updating the Drum Corps Planet front page, where I had to use my computer, as Joomla 1.0’s editor isn’t compatible with the iPhone Mobile Safari web browser.  There is an iPhone app and corresponding site plug-in for Joomla 1.5, which I have conveniently sent to DCP’s publisher, so that’s a possible fix for that particular issue.  Overall, while it isn’t the most convenient way to do things, both for personal and work purposes, I feel it is possible use your iPhone as your primary device.  That being the case, imagine how easy it would be to do all of this with an iPad, which uses almost all of the same applications as the iPhone, but with a larger screen.

If you’d like to see all of the article I’ve written this experiment, you can do so by going to the menu bar at the top of this page, holding your mouse over the Technology item, then choosing the iPhone option in the drop down menu that appears.  You can also click this link here. I will be creating a separate sub-category for all of the My iPhone Experiment articles so they are self-contained from other iPhone-related articles I write.

If you have any feedback for any of the articles I’ve written, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the article in question.  I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you have and would love to read your thoughts on my writing and the site.

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Technology

Epson Stylus NX510 All-In-One

I picked up this all-in-one for the upstairs office in my house earlier today. Now that I’ve set up my laptop at my desk, the old setup of a wired USB printer won’t work. Also, my old Canon scanner won’t seem to work with Windows 7, either. Fortunately a sale came up at OfficeMax for the NX510 ($69.99 plus free shipping at their website), so I decided it was time to upgrade.

The all-in-one comes fully installed in the box, so no need to put together a paper or feed tray or anything like that. Wireless setup is quick somewhat painless, depending on the length of your wireless key. Unfortunately, my DVD drive decided to die on me, but the Epson site has a download of all the necessary software to print and scan wirelessly. Software installation was also fairly painless, although it took a couple tries to get the computer to see the printer. I actually had to add the printer via Devices and Printers in Windows 7 before the Epson installation software would see it.

This is a FAST printer. The specs say it does 36ppm printing drafts of both black and color prints. Higher quality prints take more time (15ppm for black, 9.3ppm color). I’ve only printed the test page so far, but that practically shot out of the printer before I pressed the button. I’ll post more as I run the machine through it’s paces, but, at $70, with a PC World Editor’s Choice to it’s credit, the NX510 would be a great pick-up for home or small business.

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Podcast

Box Center Episode 2010-04

Download the show here

Discuss the show here

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iPhone

My iPhone Experiment – LinkedIn

I’ve been remiss in reviewing the last of the four social media “giants” for the iPhone – LinkedIn. Part of the reason is due to the discovery of some great apps which I wanted to pass on to you as soon as possible. Unfortunately, another reason is because there are some issues with the LinkedIn iPhone app which are not resolved at the time of this article.

LinkedIn is the professional’s answer to Facebook and MySpace. Instead of connecting with your friends or promoting your band, you connect with co-workers and business partners, past and present. In the same way that you would network with fellow professionals at a conference, you connect to these people as a means of getting your name out there, either to further your career or to further your business.

The iPhone app recently underwent a major upgrade and, like the Facebook and MySpace apps, allows you to access many of the functions you would normally use on the site. You are able to update your status, see updates from connectd LinkedIn members, check your inbox, invite people to join your netwok, and respond to invitaions sent to you.

One particular app function is a welcome addition and makes business cards a little more obsolete. With the InPerson function, you and another iPhone user with the LinkedIn app installed can trade contact information over Bluetooth. No need to email or type the information in, jus let the app do all the work. This is a great feature and, as far as I know, only available on the iPhone at this time.

Unfortunately, there are some issues with the app. The Reconnect section, for example, has a bug which does not allow you to invite somebody off the Someone You May Know list. Also, you can’t invite anybody to join your netwok from their profile. You have to manually type the invitation in the Invite section of the app. Despite these issues, the LinkedIn iPhone app is still quite useful and worh adding to your app library.

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iPhone

My iPhone Experiment – LastPass

If you’re like me, you probably peruse a lot of websites, some of them on your iPhone. Considering that a lot of those sites requires a login of some type, how do you keep track of all of them? You definitely don’t want to use the same password over and over as that just opens you up to hackers. LastPass will do everything you want and more.

LastPass started out as a service for your computer web browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome). You install the toolbar or extension for the paricular browser. At each site you visit, LastPass will fill in the correct login and, if you choose, automatically log you into the site. LastPass can also randomly generate passwords for new sites you sign up on or as replacement passwords for your current logins.

The iPhone app, which is free to download but requires a premium LastPass account ($12), does the same as it’s full-sized counterpart. Unfortunately, LastPass is unable to access Safari, so the app includes it’s own browser. You also get a set of bookmarklets for Safari which give you limited LastPass abilities, mainly for filling in forms and logins.

The beauty of this app is that you can easily access all of your website accounts on your iPhone. Google, Amazon, Twitter – just a simple touch of the LastPass screen gets you in. On top of all that, LastPass encrypt your password list, both on your end and on the LastPass server, ensuring that your logins as completely secure.

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Kevin

New Best Technology Post – Backing Up Is As Easy As 3-2-1

My latest article on the Best Technology Strategy website is now available for reading. Enjoy!

Article

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iPhone

My iPhone Experiment – iTalk

Today was rehearsal for the alumni drum and bugle corps I perform with, the Erie Thunderbirds. Near the end of rehearsal, the sections of the corps got together to perform the music for this year. I wanted to get some recordings I could use for my podcast, but only had my iPhone with me. Fortunately, I found the perfect recording app for the situation.

The app in question isn’t the built-in voice memo recorder, introduced with iPhone OS 3.0, but the iTalk Lite recorder from Griffin. The app is “lite” because there is also a paid version which removes all ads in the app. I don’t see any need for the full app, though, as the free version does everything I need.

Unlike the voice memo app, iTalk will do more than record your audio. You can also transfer your audio recordings over wi-fi to your computer using the free iTalk Sync companion software from the Griffin website. The recordings are in AIFF format, but you can use iTunes to convert the files to MP3 or AAC. You can also use editing software like Audacity to make your audio clips exactly the way you wan them.

I’ll post some examples on the website, but I have used iTalk to record high school orchestra performances. The recording came out very clear and required no processing on my part to sound good. For a free app, iTalk does a lot and does it well.