Monthly Archives: September 2009

Today’s Sputnik?

Great article by Thomas Friedman in today’s NYTimes. We can continue to support the entrenched status quo. We can say we like oil, gas & coal…it’s more important not to disrupt today’s economy…and then bequeath to our children an economy dominated by those countries who were willing to create disincentives to fossil fuel consumption, and support the development ofrenewable energy.

Or, we can decide that we need to mobilize, even if that means (gasp!) fuel taxes and continued incentives for alternative energy to really jump back into the race.

Oh, and we may save the planet in the process 😉

Another Vonage commercial…

Being able to pick up and move your phone number to any place with an Internet connection is so cool. We’re at the beach house this weekend, and as this is the first time we’ve gone out of town to a place with broadband since we converted to Vonage, we thought we’d take the Vonage router with us. Plugged the Vonage router into an Ethernet port, plugged in a phone, and bingo, real “portability” for our main home number! If anyone had called us while the router was traveling, it would have gone to vmail, but you can even forward it, to your cell, if you wish, and not miss a call…lovin’ it!


I’ve tried three Twitter clients on my Blackberry 8330, and it looks to me like Ubertwitter is a real keeper. I started with Twitterberry, but was disappointed with its ability to post to Twitpic (only very small pictures). I tried Tweetcaster, and while it worked better with Twitpic, it was slow and somewhat kludgy. I picked up on a story about Ubertwitter beta-5 while surfing RSS feeds. This version of Ubertwitter was released on 9/15/09, and seems to be a great piece of code. I’m using the free version right now, but I’m thinking about sending them the $4.99 for the ad-free version. It uses Tweetphoto by default (other options are available) instead of Twitpic, but that’s less important to me than the fact that it seems to work reliably, and that TweetPhoto seems to be a very viable Twitter-focused photo site. They say that the TweetPhoto API is more flexible and robust. I’ve only put a couple of pictures up, but it seems to work great. The Blackberry client has lots of configuration options. It offers a picture preview in the tweet stream. A great job…check it out if you need a Blackberry Twitter client!

Opera Mini 5 (beta)

I am seriously impressed with Opera Mini 5. I just downloaded it yesterday for my Blackberry 8330, and it’s a phenomenally better browser experience than the standard RIM browser. For mobile optimized pages, the RIM browser is fine…it’s just that if you want to browse some ad hoc pages, you are quite likely to hose the browser and the TCP/IP stack as it attempts to deal with a big page with coding it doesn’t understand.

I didn’t use Opera 4 much, as I just didn’t think it added enough value to use in lieu of the native RIM browser, but Opera 5 is another thing altogether. It seems faster than Opera 4, it offers tabbed browsing, and is truly effective in quickly loading (through its compression of pages thru the Opera server farm) random pages. Opera is not a Blackberry optimized program. It doesn’t alway work the way other BBY apps do, but it works in a way that lets it be platform agnostic.

The only thing that I’ve encountered that I don’t understand (and I don’t know if it’s a beta bug or my not knowing how it works) is that I can’t figure out how to update a Speed Dial site once it’s been set. I believe that to a degree this will be mitigated when Opera 5 gets the synchronization code working (it’s not, to the best I can tell, synchronizing like Opera 4.x does with your Opera account).

Bottom line is that with a browser like this, I feel that I can open any web page I want and see the content quickly, and not worry about crashing the browser/hanging the TCP/IP stack…way to go, Opera!

Seesmic or Tweetdeck?

Still tring to figure out which Twitter/Facebook tool I like best. I’ve been looking at Seesmic and Tweetdeck. Prior to this, I was content with Twhirl, and using the web interface for Facebook (FB). I don’t spend a lot of time in FB, and actually send in most status update thru Twitter (with a app in FB to pick up the tweets and update status). I’d go to the FB web interface and comment, etc. With Seesmic and Tweetdeck, tho, you get multiple applications merged into one UI. The apps are very similar in the way they use columnar layouts for the activity. Generally, I find Tweetdeck a bit more intuitive, but it seems to not process some FB status messages; not sure what’s going on there…I can see the updates on Seesmic or in the FB web interface. Another contender is the “lite” version of FB. Dispense with all the “noise” of the FB standard interface, and just see status updates with application foo. Run that and Twhirl. One thing that I do know is that I really don’t like the web interface for Twitter, so I’ll want some application to help me there, and all of these will do it!

Social networking and support of Healthcare Reform

Fascinating development on September 3rd. I make no secret of my political leanings. I am a democrat and and am strongly in favor of Healthcare Reform. As a technologist, I understand the revolutionary impact that the Internet, with collaboration and communication applications have had on politics. I was still fascinated, though, to see a very simple thing in action. One of my colleagues posted a Twitter status requesting others to retweet or post a Facebook status. The message was simple:

No one should die because they cannot afford health care; no one should go broke because they get sick.

The poster was encouraged to leave this as the status on Twitter or Facebook all day. I was surprised both by how fast I saw similar updates on my Twitter feed and on my Facebook status feed. It was inspiring. I know that a) we got similar requests from many of our friends, and b) of course many of my friends are going to share my beliefs. Still, I was impressed.

Now, if we can just encourage all sides on this issue to dispense with the polemics and have a rational discussion and actually do something to help the 47M Americans who don’t have health care.

Vonage mystery solved, but Mother-in-Law filter gone…

I’ve been officially on Vonage since 8/31, and working great except for one thing:

My wife calls her mother every day at 5PM…and like clockwork, it was dropping the call at 5:10PM. No problems at all with other calls. I say great, it’s a feature! A M-I-L filter! Alas, I needed to see about fixing it. It dawned on me that this was happening 24 hours apart…hmmm, sez I, sounds like a DHCP lease timeout. When I plugged the Vonage box into the AT&T Uverse 2-Wire router, I left it on DHCP and it seemed to work fine. What I didn’t realize until my number ported and we started “production” use was that it was renewing the lease during the “scheduled” call between wife and her mom. A clue yesterday, when my wife said that her mother was talking, then her voice went away for about 15 seconds, and then came back. Previously my wife had been talking during the “event” and hung up before the new lease was issued. I checked the Uverse router, and yep, a 24 hour lease. Set it to give the Vonage router its current address as a static from the pool, rather than dynamic, and all seems well. I’m pleased not to have to put the box into the Uverse router’s DMZ, as I have my Airport in the DMZ and don’t want to change that as it’s working fine. Time will tell if I’ve fixed it for sure, but it looks good!