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Best Mobile Map Services March 17, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Mobile.
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Mapping services for mobile devices that pinpoints your location with or without a GPS are all the rage these days. They’re able to perform this without GPS thanks to the ever-growing number of WiFi networks all across the country. The more wireless hotspots that are added to the grid the more accurate and powerful the locating services become.

Here are some of the best of breed for these types of services for your cell phone.

Google Maps for Mobile is the latest to unveil such a beast. This downloadable application puts local information, directions and maps in your pocket. Here’s what it can do:

Where am I?
New! Google Maps with My Location. Learn more.
Where’s the nearest…
Cup of coffee, late night pizza or last-minute bouquet?
Is there traffic up ahead?
See it so you can avoid it.
How do I get there from where I am?
Type your destination and away you go.

Here’s a screencast on how it works:

In this roundup, Google Mobile for maps is the only service that doesn’t include any social networking capabilities which is strange. I would look for these features to come very soon though.

Loki was one of the first services to offer GPS-like tracking for mobile devices. With Loki Mobile you can post your location to MyLoki from wherever you are. As you move around MyLoki can automatically let your friends know where you are using your favorite platform — Facebook, RSS Feeds, or badges for your blog or even Jaiku. You can pick and choose how and where you want your location displayed.

Loopt does the same thing but with more social networking options such as sharing photo’s and videos from your cell phone. They use the term social compass to describe their service which allows you to see where your friends are and vice versa.

Plazes offers a manual method of showing your friends where you are in the world via SMS on your cell phone.

Summation: The mobile web is the future of the Internet (especially once 3G becomes more common!), so these mapping and locating services will become increasingly important. Look for Microsoft Earth to get in the mix soon, among others!

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Free Online Quickbooks Clones for Bus… March 15, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Business.
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Intuit’s QuickBooks is arguably the king of accounting systems for small to medium sized companies. They sell standalone as well as online versions. The pricing for QuickBooks Online runs either $4.95/month for basic account or $16.95/month for Pro version.

Here’s a crop of QuickBooks Clones that offer less expensive alternatives and in some cases even FREE online accounts! There are strict limitations to the free basic accounts so pay close attention to the details which are clearly described on each site.

SimplifyThis is an excellent service and easy to use. The free account allows you to manage unlimited number of customers which is fantastic and offers SSL Encryption, your own logo, autobilling, support, track incidental charges and accept online payments. The only negative is that it only allows you to create three invoices per month. This makes the free account only viable for very small companies, most likely a single person consulting service. Still, it’s a great way to test drive the service before signing up for one of the beefier accounts such as the Tall account that offers 30 invoices per month for just $7 per month. Here’s a breakdown of all their plans.

FreshBooks has the best interface and also easy to use. The biggest difference between FreshBooks and SimplyThis is the way they handle maximum number of customers and invoices.
SimplyThis offers unlimited customers but limits invoices to just three per month, while FreshBooks does the complete opposite: unlimited invoices per month but you can only manage three customers.

Blinksale doesn’t offer as slick an interface as the previous two services but it is still pretty good. They offer the same service limitations to their free account as SimplyThis, offering unlimited customers but only three invoices per month.

Saasu has an impressive user interface and offers many features. Their free account allows unlimited customers and 15 invoices per month. Not too shabby.
Here’s their demo page where you can learn much more and see what it looks like in action. Here are all their plans and pricing.

30-day trials only

These services don’t offer unlimited free accounts as the ones above, but they do offer 30 day trials.

Less Accounting


Final Thoughts

This public document will track the best online accounting services similar to QuickBooks so check back often.

Now That’s Social Networking March 12, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Comedy, Comic Strips, social networks.
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What strange coincidence that the two largest social networks, FaceBook and MySpace, both make the news this week.
First, FaceBook CEO Zuckerberg’s interview disaster with journalist Sarah Lacy then the MySpace callgirl who had a hand (pardon the pun) in bringing down the New York governor Spitzer who resigned today. It inspired this comic and the start of a new series called “Anti-Social Behavior”


Create professional videos online March 12, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Personal, Photos, Video.
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Animoto is a new online video editing service but unlike any you’ve used before. You can quickly and easily create impressive videos with your own photo’s and music and share them instantly via email or by embedding it on your website/blog. The special effects are extremely slick and professional quality. If you don’t like how things have been generated you can click the remix button and it automatically recreates the video (without touching the original!). You can also remix the original video yourself and change the images or music and again keep the original intact.

Here is a sample video I put together in less than five minutes! I just chose 10 photos (the minimum requirement) from my computer and added one of my favorite songs from my mp3 collection (The Simple Things) and let Animoto do its thing. It actually took longer for the service to render and produce the finished video than it took to design it!

But Wait There’s More!

You can actually use images you have stored online from Flickr, Photobucket, Picaso or other sites. You can also use music from Animoto’s impressive online music library.

When you’re done creating your videos they are all stored in your own library called My Videos. Another fantastic feature is its integration with YouTube! With the click of a button your videos can be exported to your YouTube account, tagged and bagged! You can also download your videos to save them to your computer.

Here’s their 60-second demo:

How Much?
OK, creating professional videos can’t be cheap, so how much will it cost? Well, the basic account is free which lets you create unlimited 30-second videos which is a great deal! If you want to produce a full-length video then you can either chose the pay-per-video option which is only $3 per video or the incredible unlimited videos and download package for just $30 not per month but per year! Amazing, huh?

Final Thoughts
While I love the unique remixing feature that never produces the same exact video twice in a row, I hope they someday give more options and controls over that feature. It would be awesome to be able to pick and choose whatever effects and transitions we want just like we do with presentation packages and full-blown desktop video packages. Still, who can complain about an online service that can offer this kind of high-quality type of product that produces such professional results so quickly and easily?

One last thing, don’t think of this as just for home movies and personal use. I have no doubts that many businesses will make full-use of this technology to produce cool marketing and promotional videos for their websites and viral marketing campaigns.

OneClick OpenID: ClickPass March 11, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in OpenID.
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I’ve been a longtime supporter of OpenID but I will admit that it’s not as easy to use as it should be. There are far too many hoops to jump thru and too many clicks to use your OpenID account instead of creating yet another new one. Identity Crisis covers OpenID in more depth if you want more.

ClickPass plans to change the game and will make our lives much easier when it comes to our online profiles, logins and passwords. The key to their success is the much needed concept of one-click access which they do very well thus far. Here are the services that already offer ClickPass access.

Remember, they are new and the list of sites that will support ClickPass will continue to grow rapidly so be prepared to see this logo everywhere you go:

Here’s how easy it is now to join new sites with ClickPass. Let’s say I wanted to join Disqus so I go to their site: www.disqus.com and see their sign in/create account screen as we do on all sites.

Since I am new and want to join I click on Sign up now like we do everywhere else. However, here is where the game changes forever, folks!
You will notice the usual account name creation fields but take a look at the bottom of the screen and you will see the new ClickPass Enter logo with the OpenID logo next to it.
Click on that instead of filling out anything.

You will then see this screen which will be filled out for you by the kind folks at ClickPass who kind of know what you will use already but you can change it if you want to or if it is taken already.
Click the Sign up now button and that’s it. Bada Bing! Bada Boom! New account!
The other thing that is unique and impressive about ClickPass is the home page to your account there. It becomes your grand central station for all your accounts and sites!
Here’s what it looks like:

Click this for more information about ClickPass and why they created their service and their vision for the future. I truly believe they are on to something big here.
I believe this is something everyone is going to use in the near-future. Why not get on board now?

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AntiSocial Network March 10, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Comedy, Comic Strips, IT Happens.
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While having lunch without my trusty laptop and its aircard, I rather enjoyed being outside with a new book I’ve been meaning to read. It was a pleasant change of pace being “offline” and “disconnected” from the world for a brief period of time. Sure, I still had my Blackberry but I turned it off and pretended to be in 1991. Ah, ignorance is indeed bliss!
I got to thinking that this might become a regular routine for me and wondered how many others felt the same way.

Then I had the idea to do a new installment for my I.T. Happens comic strip regarding this notion of being offline and perhaps antisocial. How many would join a network of people who are tired of always being connected and socialable?
I know, antisocial types wouldn’t want to belong to any network. 🙂

Anyway, I just think it’s a good thing to be Net free sometimes and get our head out of the cloud (among other places).
Get some fresh air (without any Adobe or Macbooks)!

By the way, after sharing my thoughts on this on utterz, someone shared the following link:
http://nosoproject.com/about !!! I guess I’m not the first to think of this.

(Click to enlarge)it-happens-n5.png

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Comics 2.0 March 9, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Comedy, Comic Strips.
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Toon creating services appear to be the hottest trend these days. A whole new crop have sprouted up all of a sudden. Here’s a rundown of the best of breed. Trust me, there are many more that just aren’t as good as these selected services. Many of them just offer the ability to add captions to your photo’s, but the services in this review all let you create a comic strip like we are familiar with from newspapers. Some even allow you to edit existing characters to create your own. All of these services provide the ability to embed your comic strip on your website and share them with others.

ToonDoo appears to offer the most features and generates a wider variety of toon styles. Their online editor is also very easy to use and offers a vast array of objects such as characters, backgrounds, balloon bubbles and more. Their most unique offering is something called a ToonBook which allows you to create a flip book with any of the toons that you’ve created which is pretty slick. Here’s a ToonDoo ToonBook that I created for my I.T. Happens comic series. Here’s a sample strip from the series:

Toonlet is quickly gaining popularity. Their online editor and variety of characters is also very good. Here’s a sample from a friend, Tojosan. Here’s his Flickr Toonlet fan club.

Pixton is another newcomer. Their primary characters are stick figures but they look pretty good. Here’s a lineup of some of their many characters:

BitStrips is the newest toon creating service that has gotten a great deal of attention. The quality of the comics generated are top notch.
Here’s another sample from Tojosan. This is the link to his Flickr BitStrip fan club.

StripGenerator is similar to the others on here only without as large a library of objects or characters.


Comiqs is a little different than the other services in this lineup because they do more of the captioning photographs type of comic strips. However, the reason they are included here is because they do offer the ability to use your own drawings so it can allow you to create and share your own comic strip online like the others. Here’s a video of how it works:

Final Thoughts:

All of these services and any worthy newcomers will be tracked in this public document called Comics 2.0. Come back to it often to see what’s new or what’s changed. These services give everyone a great way to unleash the artist trapped within and easily share our comics with the world.

I.T. Happens! No. 4 March 8, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Comedy, Comic Strips, IT Happens.
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Web 2.0 vs Web 3.0 March 8, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Semantic Web, Web 2.0.
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Web 2.0 is still alive & kicking but everyone is already focussing on Web 3.0. What is Web 3.0? Well, the old adage is true: a picture is worth a thousand words. With that said, I will let the following images and videos explain the differences between web 2.0 and web 3.0 otherwise known as the Semantic Web.

In the Beginning there was Frontpage
Before comparing Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, it might be helpful to compare Web 1.0 with Web 2.0 first. Here’s an excellent image that does a great job showing the differences:

Here’s a visual comparison of all three: web 1.0, web 2.0 and web 3.0

Here’s a really ambitious image that shows web 1.0 thru web 4.0!

Here are some videos that do a great job covering web 2.0 & web 3.0.
The Machine is Us/ing Us

Here’s a straight forward explanation

Tim O’Reilly’s definition

Tim Berners Lee on Web 3.0/Semantic Web

Digital bazar’s explanation of the Semantic Web

Here’s a video showing the history of web 1.0 to present and beyond to web 4.0!

Final Thoughts:
No matter what the terms or how things are explained, one thing is certain: the future of the Internet and technology is extremely exciting! Things will only continue to evolve into more collaborative and personal ways which is great for everyone on a personal and professional level.
By the way, this isn’t the first time that Web 2.0 was given its last rites! Nicholas Carr called Web 2.0’s time of death on 11/11/06!

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8 Things You Didn’t Know (and more!) March 7, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Personal.
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Thanks to Merlene, I’ve been tagged to share 8 things about Pai that most people wouldn’t know.
OK, I added a little more than 8 things but it’s a visual so it won’t take too long to read. 🙂

Live MindMap of 8 Things about Paisano (and more)

Here’s a static image of the mindmappaimap.jpg

Here are the next 8 people that I’m tagging to contribute to this: