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May 11th, 2007

A Skype application for the Blackberry that works? Maybe?

I saw this a few days ago and have held off writing about this Skype for Blackberry app until I had some time to play with it:

IM+ for Skype Software by SHAPE Services is a mobile client for Skype Software. It enables voice and text communication with other Skype users as well as cost-effective calling to landline or mobile connections. IM+ for Skype Software uses SkypeOut credits for voice communication ensuring cost- effective calls to any number around the globe. For users of Skype Unlimited plan (only USD 29.95 per year) IM+ enables almost free calling from a BlackBerry smartphone to any PC with Skype or any landline/mobile number. All you need is a BlackBerry smartphone and IM+ for Skype Software installed.
Source: Experience Mobility » Blog Archive » IM+ for Skype Software Debuts see also Crunch Gear

Skype is my primary business IM client.  Gtalk hangs around because until now it was the only one I could get on my Berry for free.  I’ve been looking for a real MSN client (RIM has developed one, but it isn’t available for all carriers) without much success.  A Skype client?  That would be awesome.  Well, the search might be over.  This is heavy on the might part.  IM+ for Skype is a pretty basic app.  Shape Services clearly wanted to tap into the Skype calling features instead of just looking at IM.  I haven’t tried calling, just IM at this point.  IM+ For Skype isn’t free, either, I’m running a 7 day trial of it.

I’m going to give it a lukewarm thumbs up right now.  The IM side could be a lot better.  I’d like to see people’s real names and not Skype names.  I’d also like better sorting (I have a ton of contacts in Skype), but my main gripe might not be their fault at all-network setup.  IM+ has a simple auto-config tool, which consistently fails for me, but I can still connect, only to have to go through the process again when I reopen it (you can send it to the background or close when hitting the esc key in the contact list).  Trying to listen to a sound crashes the app on my 7130e.  Not a big deal.  Annoying, yes, however.

So the network problem.  No, I don’t know what’s up and no I haven’t had a chance to send info to the developers about it.  I’m betting it’s just something on the Telus network.  Now, if I can get it all figured out…I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying the app.  I really don’t care about calling … the IM alone will be great.


By Tris Hussey -- 3 comments

March 19th, 2007

IE7Pro makes IE7 better?

As much as IE7 has made major leaps forward over IE6, it still leaves something to be desired compared to Firefox, Opera, and Maxthon.  Some folks have found IE7Pro as a suite of add-ons for IE7 to bring it close to par with the others:

Ajay has uncovered a great addon for IE7 called IE7pro that makes a good product even better. IE7pro adds six features to Internet Explorer, including Tab Management, Ad Filters, Drag and Drop and Mouse Gestures. If I can find a way to do inline search with IE7 in addition to these features I might totally leave FF behind.
Source: Expand IE7 With IE7pro | Connected Internet

I haven’t downloaded this set of doo-dads because I’m happy with Maxthon (and can’t wait until Maxthon 2 is out of beta).  I took a look at what the plugins offer and they do look like they would help IE7 a bit.  If someone does give them a try, how about reporting back here with what you think?


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By Tris Hussey -- 1 comment

March 18th, 2007

Ultimate Boot CD could save your tush in a pinch

I seem to be tech guy du jour lately.  I’ve been working on machines left, right, centre, up and down.  If it isn’t the computer from the garage it’s a friend’s.  Often what I need is a rescue CD to help things along.  This boot CD has a lot of power tools for the uber-geek

You need the Ultimate Boot CD if you want to:

  • Run floppy-based diagnostic tools from CDROM drives. More and more PCs are shipped without floppy drives these days, and it is such a royal pain when you need to run diagnostic tools on them.
  • Free yourself from the slow loading speed of the floppy drive. Even if you do have a floppy drive, it is still much much faster to run your diagnostic tools from the CDROM drive, rather than wait for the tool to load from the floppy drive.
  • Consolidate as many diagnostic tools as possible into one bootable CD. Wouldn’t you like to avoid digging into the dusty box to look for the right floppy disk, but simply run them all from a single CD? Then the Ultimate Boot CD is for you!
  • New! Run Ultimate Boot CD from your USB memory stick. A script on the CD prepares your USB memory stick so that it can be used on newer machines that supports booting from USB devices. You can access the same tools as you would from the CD version.

When you boot up from the CD, a text-based menu will be displayed, and you will be able to select the tool you want to run. The selected tool actually boots off a virtual floppy disk created in memory.
Source: Ultimate Boot CD - Overview

I tried this CD yesterday and figured out that I really need to make sure I read the directions for each of the tools.  These aren’t the nice, user-friendly tools like Norton and such.  These are power tools (read no wizards or step-by-step things).  I have to say, however, one of my standard things to do to help a Windows machine along is to boot into Safe Mode (press F8 at boot) and run chkdsk /f from the command prompt.  Of course, when you’re in Windows it can’t fix anything, but it will ask you if you want to run the check and fix at the next reboot (yes is the correct answer here).  Often, that’s just the thing you need to get stuff working again.


By Tris Hussey -- 1 comment

March 14th, 2007

Microsoft Time Zone answers the "what time is it where you are" question

PYW friend Amit blogged a free tool from Microsoft that lets you quickly see what time it is in five different time zones.  Since the U.S. & Canada have thrown the world a curve ball by starting daylight savings time this past Sunday, remember what time it is in the rest of the world is just a bit more complicated.

This free tool called Microsoft Time Zone runs as a tiny icon in your system tray and allows you to watch the current date and time of upto 5 cities around the world simultaneously.
Source: A World Time Clock for your System Tray from Microsoft at Digital Inspiration

If you’re using Vista you can display two additional timezones to your own without any extras.  Why, pray tell, more folks haven’t pointed this out is beyond me, but it’s so, so easy.

  1. Right-click on the status bar and select Adjust Date/Time
  2. Click the Additional Clocks tab
  3. Click the tick boxes for “Show this clock”, select timezone, and name it.
  4. Click okay

Now when you mouse over the time your time, the date, and these additional clocks will appear.  Pretty spiffy, eh?


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

March 14th, 2007

And who doesn’t need to type faster?

In this day and age (man is that a tired phrase) typing is key.  Remember all those people who you laughed at for taking typing in high school (now called “keyboarding”)?  Who’s laughing now?

I sorta touch type.  My dad taught me the “home row” and after years of practice, I’m not too bad.  I certainly am not the most efficient typist, I rarely use all 10 fingers to type.  Well now you don’t have to listen to Mavis teach you, TypeFaster is a free download that puts a keyboard on screen for you to type and practice.  Maybe I should download it and see if I can speed things up a little?

Hat tip: Lifehacker


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

March 13th, 2007

gSyncit brings Google Calendar and Outlook together

Like Google Calendar but use Outlook to manage your day?  That’s my problem too.  Looks like there might a solution in gSyncit:

This Outlook plug-in supports one-way or two-way synchronization (you can go Google-to-Outlook, Outlook-to-Google or both) and works manually or automatically. After installing the program, look for a new two-button toolbar in Outlook; click the Settings button to access gSyncit’s surprisingly robust configuration options.
Source: Download of the Day: gSyncit (Windows) - Lifehacker

I gave this a shot and it worked great with my personal Google Calendar, but I couldn’t get it to work with a hosted version.  Still, it was pretty fast and it didn’t make my Blackberry barf!


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

March 6th, 2007

Psst, a new version of ClearContext is available and a Vista gadget too

It does pay to read your feeds!  Today Brad has this great announcement:

Regular readers of the weblog may have noticed that posting has been light the last couple of months.  Work on our v3.1 release has kept us busy.  I’m pleased to finally come up for air and offer all of you early access to our v3.1 release (download here).  We’ve implemented several new features along with numerous small fixes and preliminary support for our upcoming Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget (more on that in a bit…).  New features in v3.1 include:
Source: ClearContext Corporate Weblog - IMS v3.1 Early Access Release and Vista Gadget Beta Testers Wanted

Of course I downloaded and installed right away. Went fine, as expected.  Frankly I haven’t played with any of the new features, but I have played with the new Vista sidebar gadget.  Now, that’s cool!

Right now it’s simple.  It just shows the unread items in your inbox.  Boring?  Nope.  In the options, besides the nice silver colour, is a filtering selection.  I have mine set to “Normal”, which means if the e-mail isn’t ranked Normal or higher, it doesn’t show up.

In practical terms this means that if I hear e-mail come in, and it doesn’t show up there, it probably isn’t worth my attention at the moment.

See, this is a key thing when you get lots of e-mail.  Sure it goes off and you know it’s there, but you have to check to see if it’s important or not.  Yes, if it isn’t important you can ignore it, but see I like having zero unread items in my inbox.  It might not be cleaned out often, but it doesn’t have unread items.

Everything that comes in gets read.  Often deleted right away, but always read.  Now, I know when something important has come in, so I can just wait until I have a moment to check.

Nice, nice touch.


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

March 5th, 2007

SuperGenPass another secure password generator

From Google Operating System comes another password generator:

Yesterday I suggested some ideas to keep your passwords secure. In the comments, Thunder Rabbit pointed to a very simple solution to generate secure passwords, without having to remember them. SuperGenPass is a bookmarklet (a bookmark consisting mostly of JavaScript code) that uses a master password as a seed to create passwords for different sites. The nice thing is that the script generates the same password for a domain, but the process is unidirectional: you can’t obtain the master password from a generated password. It’s also cool that your master password is not stored anywhere (unless you want it to be stored in the bookmarklet).
Source: Google Operating System: SuperGenPass - Simple Password Generator

If you’re having trouble making and remembering good passwords, this might do the trick for you.  When I need something secure I still use the Ultra High Security Password Generator, but this might be a good option if you want to have them on the go too.


By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

February 27th, 2007

HP provides templates and resources to help Small Biz

Although I’m more thana little pissed a HP at the moment for their lack of Vista support for older, but Vista-capable laptops, it is nice of them to provide resources for Small Biz:

One of the main attractions of the site is the Business Templates area (not surprising for a printer company), which offers about 700 pre-built designs for Microsoft Office, CorelDRAW, QuarkXPress and more. Most interesting to small business owners is the collection of agency-quality graphic design templates from StockLayouts, where you’ll find great-looking brochures, letterhead, flyers and so on.
Source: Business Opportunities Weblog | Free Online Resource Helps Small Bizs

The main page of the area is heavy on sales, of course, even support is not obvious, but looking towards the bottom of the page yields the templates section.  Being a big fan of templates, I’m always on the look out for good ones.  We’ll have to see how good these really are.

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By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

February 27th, 2007

Even if you don’t have Vista, you have to check out these wallpapers

It might seem a little superfluous to go looking for wallpapers for your machine, but really, if you’re staring at the thing all day you should have something nice to look at.  I change my wallpapers pretty often.  Movies, nice pictures, geek babes, whatever I’m in the mood for (I had Trinty from the Matrix for a while, and Rouge from X3, V for Vendetta … lots of stuff).  Vista comes with some awesome wallpapers.  Stunning, stunning images.  Even versions scaled for widescreen laptops like mine.  Hamad Darwish has some of his work used for Vista when it launched, well I found on Connected Internet today that Hamad is offering a ton more for download.

One of the beautiful features of Windows Vista are the fantastic wallpapers.

The Photographer, Hamad Darwish submitted many photos to Microsoft when they were selecting the default Vista Wallpapers.
Source: Download Additional Windows Vista Wallpapers | Connected Internet

You have to check these out.  I’ve got a nice beach scene right now that is just so nice to look at.  I had trouble choosing which one to use first!  I hope these work for lots of folks because the images are just so amazing.

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments