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Moved July 22, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Uncategorized.
4 comments

I’ve decided to host my own blog so you can find all my new home at http://DorianoCarta.com

Ciao!

BrainDumping July 17, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Collaboration, Lists, Mobile, Personal, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , ,
3 comments

Sometimes you just need to capture a thought in your head or else it’ll be gone forever. There are many ways to record these ideas or brainstorms, but none of them truly take full advantage of the social media and social networking benefits available today. Sure, there are many good mindmapping tools online but none of them work well with mobile devices which is critical when it comes to capturing thoughts wherever and whenever you have them. The process needs to be quick and easy too. Here are some mobile methods for handling your braindumping on the go.

Wridea has just released 2.0 after two long years in Beta. It was previously reveiwed here in the Best Checklist Sites. Judging from my initial experiences with the new look and feel of Wridea’s totally overhauled GUI, I have to admit that it is much improved.
Here are some of the key new features:

  • Full API support for integrating Wridea with third party projects, systems, websites, desktop and mobile applications
  • New user interface for faster idea management
  • Improved idea collaboration with friends or other Wridea users
  • RSS feeds of your idea pages and idea comments
  • Better friend management
  • Expandability with Idea Tools

The best feature of Wridea is the ability to send your ideas to your account via your own email address. The format of the email is Idea_username@wridea.com so it’s easy to remember. Just add the entry to your cell phone’s address book and you will be able to capture your thoughts and ideas anytime, anywhere straight to your wridea account. You can share these entries and collaborate if you want but mostly I think it’s best suited for braindumping.

Here are a couple of screencasts of the new and much improved Wridea.
What is Wridea?
What are the best new features of Wridea 2.0?

Jott is an excellent service to use for capturing your ideas thru your cell phone. Unlike Wridea which does this thru the use of a personalized email address that posts to your online account, Jott accomplishes this in a unique manner via your own phone number. Once you call Jott it asks “Who do you want to Jott?” and you simply reply with “Me” to capture thoughts and ideas to your account. The nice thing about this is that Jott also transcribes your audio message to text and emails it to you so it can be copied and pasted as you wish. The accuracy isn’t that bad but it isn’t 100% either so you must double-check every time. Here’s a visual explanation. Here’s a list of all the tricks you can do with Jott on your cell phone.

Zoho Planner also allows you to send thoughts and ideas to your online account via your own unique email address. You can then turn those notes into to do items, appointments on your calendar or add them as notes to your planner. While the functions work and come in handy, the interface is gludgy and not very user-friendly.

Remember The Milk is mostly for tracking tasks and appointments but you can very well use it to manage your thoughts and ideas because it also provides you with your own email address. So, you can use your cell phone to send any idea you had right to your RTM account. Another perk is the way that RTM integrates seamlessly with GMail (thanks to Firefox)! Here’s a video of how that looks. Here’s a tour of what it can do.

Utterz is like a hybrid of Twitter + Seesmic + Tumbler + Jott. It has some new features that allow you to send ideas privately to your utterz account via email (the format is very easy to remember, username@utterz.com). You can record private audio messages on your cell phone and send them to yourself privately to play back later on or make public and embed on your website or in the utterz public timeline.

Final Thoughts on Thought Capturing
Look for this space to continue to catch on fire thanks to the ever increasing popularity of social networking and mobile devices like the iPhone, Blackberry and many others. It will become increasingly easier to capture and share whatever we want, even those thoughts that used to vanish into thin air.

iRevolution: Breaking the chains from Apple and AT&T June 10, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Apple, Gadgets, Mobile, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
3 comments

attapple

While everyone is excited about the new 3G iphone (as I am), I feel compelled to complain about the exclusive distribution deal that Apple and AT&T have in place for this beautiful little gadget! I don’t like exclusive deals like this and hope that more of us complain about it so that it doesn’t become a common business practice.

Choice

This is the United States of America and we believe in our freedom of choice! In this day and age I find it appalling that we are forced to purchase a mobile device from one specific carrier! How did this happen? There’s no way that we should stand for this.
We should be allowed to use whatever carrier we want to use: T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, whatever! Shame on Apple and AT&T for this blatant money grub maneuver. Our best interests were not considered one iota! They only thing they focused on was the bottom line which was profit and revenue.

The iRevolution Has Begun!

What can we do about this? Well, a revolution has begun already. People are going with other phones such as the Blackberry. Others are waiting for the GPhone from Google slated for release this fall. Another thing that many frustrated consumers are doing is unlocking the iPhone so that they can use the carrier of their choice! Yes, it’s totally legal, easy to do and get this, it’s free!

Unleashing the Beast
http://www.ziphone.org is the best place to start. It’s been around a long time and has been very successful even for the most novice of users. They’re already working on the 3G version so that will be available very soon. Once you do this, then you will be able to use the carrier that YOU, not Apple or AT&T wants you to use! What a concept, huh?

So Easy Even a Caveman can do it!

Final Thoughts

Look, I like Apple and AT&T and can’t wait to get my hands on the 3G iPhone someday. I just don’t like what they’ve done here with their exclusive deal that has totally taken away our freedom of choice. If they want to establish a system with different levels of preferred vendors as Microsoft and others have done, then fine. Apple could’ve made AT&T their premiere or preferred vendor of the iPhone with greater quantities and preferred product shipment and support, but they should not have closed the door on all of the other carriers!

You’ve Got Milk June 5, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, rss, Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,
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Thanks to an excellent Adobe Air application called Snackr, you can now view the posts on Utterz from your circle of friends on your desktop! The good news is that it works on Windows, the Mac and even Linux and best of all it’s FREE!

snackr

Here’s how easy it is to setup:

Go to Utterz and copy the URL to your circle of friends (sometimes referred to as your Herd). Tip: It will be in this format: http://www.utterz.com/~h-Paisano/v-circle/r-1/rss.php (replace Paisano with your Utterz name, of course).

Go to http://snackr.net to download and install their cool RSS ticker. If you’ve never installed Adobe Air before (used by other services such as Twhirl, Snitter, AlertThingy and many others) then you will need to install it first. Go here to install Adobe Air.

Once Snackr is installed it will ask you what you want to do. Select the manually add feeds. Then click the plus sign on the bottom leftside of your screen and paste the URL of the RSS feed for your circle of friends on Utterz.

Within seconds all of your friends’ utterz including your own will begin scrolling across your screen and look like this:
snackr_ticker

Note: You can add all kinds of other RSS feeds to Snackr as well. This was just a way to show utterz members how to add their feed to their desktop.

Want a Personal MilkShake?

By the way, you can add your own Utterz RSS feed to services like GoogleReader and FriendFeed. Just add your own RSS feed from Utterz just as you would for any other RSS feed. (On FriendFeed click the add Blog feed option) Here’s the format:
http://www.utterz.com/~h-Paisano/list.php (again, replace my name with your Utterz user name). Bada Bing, Bada Boom! You’ve Got Milk!

How to clean your dirty windows June 1, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Freeware, Microsoft, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

 

Ever notice how much faster Microsoft Windows seems to run when it’s fresh new computer or a reinstalled system?

There are many reasons why performance degrades over time, such as defragmentation of the hard drive and a bloated registry but we will focus on a lessor known reason for sluggish windows and how to fix it.

 

First, let’s explain what the windows operating system is before we reveal what slows it down so much. Windows is not a single program or application but a complex system of processes that run together in a massive symphony of bits and bytes. Want to take a quick peak at this matrix of mahem and mischef? Press your Ctrl-Alt-Del keys and select your task manager, then select processes. You will see dozens of processes going on, even if you have no applications open. This is what keeps windows running.

 

The Dirt on Dirt
As you know, windows lives on memory so the more RAM it has the better it performs. Thus, the more programs/applications that you run at any given time, the less memory the operating system will have available for all of those necessary processes and threads it needs to run. So, the goal is naturally to only keep those things open that you need, but most of the time that doesn’t seem to make a difference. Why is that? Well, even though you “think” nothing’s running, the chances are high that there are several memory hogging programs running in the background.

 

The Windows Detectives
The task manager is pathetic when it comes to revealing the whole truth about what’s really going on inside windows behind the scenes. That’s why you will need a few free tools from Microsoft that are incredibly useful when it comes to spying on your system. Best of all, they are all free, small and easy to use!

 

The first one to get is called AutoRuns , which is the best utility there is when it comes to showing you everything that runs automatically when you start your windows (hence the name). One of the best features is the ability to hide all Microsoft processes that need to run for windows which lets you focus on all of the non-windows processes and programs that runs.

You can then disable or delete them for startup, thus freeing up a great deal of memory which will in turn make windows run much better. Download it here.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell what a process or thread really is or what owns it.

No need to take dangerous wild guesses thanks to the following two tools.

 

Process explorer exposes everything you’ll ever need to know about any process that is running in windows. It will reveal which program owns the process and its path and location.

Download it here.

 

Process Monitor is like the task manager on steroids and more! It’s an advanced windows monitoring system that displays real-time file system, Registry and process/thread activity.

Download it here.

 

Final Curtain Call

Obviously, this is merely one simple method for cleaning your windows. There are many other things you can do to improve your performance but cleaning up your startup procedure is an excellent start.

 

 

 

Magic Kingdom of Marketing and Technology May 19, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Business, Marketing, Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,
4 comments

After a week of incredible fun in Disney World, I’ve come away from the experience filled Wishes01600with wonderful memories of precious moments with my family. I’m also filled with awe with Disney’s amazing skills in marketing and use of technology. No one takes more advantage of these tools more than they do when it comes to benefiting their business.
Sure, they are the ultimate merchants of fun, but they fully understand the importance of using everything possible when it comes to satisfying their customers (family members). Here are just some of the brilliant things that I noticed during my week there:

FastPass
The biggest complaint about the Disney experience or any large park adventure is always about the long lines and waiting. Disney implements a fantastic technology called the FastPass which vastly reduces the amount of time you have to wait in line to go on a ride or see a show! Slide your ticket into a machine and out pops a new FastPass ticket with the time that you need to return to casually waltz into the ride/show of choice.

Brilliant Layouts, Maps & Guide Books
Disney does a great job with the layout of their parks and provides plenty of guide books and maps everywhere you go. The brilliant layout continues within each park as well. Take the Magic Kingdom for example. At the center of it all is Cinderella’s Castle which acts as the hub in the wheel. Each part of the park is divided into different themes which makes the experience much easier to manage and enjoy.

Excellent Revenue Generating Design
Another genius layout design that generates tremendous revenue is the way that most rides and shows exit into a gift store! They provide a pleasurable experience and get their customers all lathered up and lead them into the lion’s den full of merchandise related to the experience they just enjoyed! Do you hear the cash registers? Brilliance!

Illusions of Convenience
Many of the things that Disney provides customers appear to be merely convenience features but actually serve dual purposes such as yet another revenue generating enhancement tool. For example, being able to send anything you purchase at a gift ship automatically back to your hotel room not only allows you to enjoy your time in the park more because you don’t have to carry those packages around all day (convenience) but it also keeps customers in the park and gives the illusion that they haven’t purchased anything and thus encourages them to make more purchases and so on. Again, brilliance!
Also, customers who can afford to stay at the more expensive hotels close to Disney don’t even need to drive to the parks! They can just jump on the monorail or even a boat and slide right in, take their rides and make their purchases all day long.

Collecting on Collectibles
Everyone knows how masterful Disney has been when it comes to generating a frenzy for collecting their classic movies by stealing a page from the DeBeers family and how they’ve dominated the diamond industry by managing the laws of Supply and Demand. Well, Disney has tapped into another goldmine: Pin Collecting! Yes, it appears to be a very inexpensive and fun little hobby at first glance, but it can quickly become a huge investment. There’s even an official website for Disney Pin Collecting.

Summation
Please don’t mistake any of this as negative. I fully enjoyed my experience at Disney and cannot wait to go back! I’m just impressed with the way they do things over there. They are a well-oiled machine of entertainment and capitalism. All businesses should study Disney and emulate their efforts. Please your customers and they will gladly spend their money with smiles on their faces. I know I sure did!

Social Networking for Email May 4, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Email, Social Aggregators, social networks, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , ,
4 comments

There are new social networks for just about everything so it makes perfect sense that there will be a great deal of focus now on our inboxes. Yes, expect tremendous changes to come with the way we use email. Whether it’s webmail on the big players (yahoo, gmail, hotmail) or even on your desktop client like Outlook, email will never be the same again.

Here are several new innovative email services that will give you a glimpse of the future of the inbox. Remember, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Expect an avalanche of email tools and services to roll down the social networking mountain very soon.

xobni_logo

Xobni (inbox spelled backwards) actually works inside your Microsoft Outlook email client. It improves searching for emails, attachments and contacts. It also reveals a great deal of information about the people you correspond with via email. One of the best features is the way it creates threaded conversations from your email exchanges.

Even the head-honcho Bill Gates himself seems impressed with Xobni.

Seeing is believing so checkout this video demo.

xoopit does things a little differently. It works with your GMail account (other platforms coming down the road) and lets you easily view all the photos, videos, and files buried in your e-mail as attachments and sent to you as links from across the Web.
xoopit_gmail_overview_lg

zenbe_logo

Zenbe takes yet another approach to managing email. It doesn’t plug into your existing webmail account or desktop email client but offers to host your email and an entirely different tabbed interface.

tripitlogo Tripit is an excellent example of new service that integrates extremely well with your email account. In this case, they are a service for travelers who direct all emails related to their trip to their tripit account which organizes all of the tedious details from those emails and presents the data in a more user-friendly manner. Look for all new services to understand the value of using email accounts of their members instead of trying to re-invent the wheel or adding yet another messaging system to manage.

fuser_logo

Fuser is an email account aggregator that manages all of your different types of email accounts in one place. Add your gmail, yahoo, hotmail and pop accounts along with the messages you receive from social networks like MySpace and facebook. It also supports Twitter and includes a full client which means you can even send tweets from within Fuser.
For more details about Fuser, they were covered in Inbox 2.0 in an earlier post.

Final Thoughts
Everyone has an email account so it’s a great idea to try to offer services that work with existing accounts. Whether it’s a plug-in, add-on, or just a connection to your email system, services would be wise to offer ways to work with your existing email account. Eventually, we will be able to do everything from within our inbox.

Windows Live Writer April 25, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, Microsoft, Uncategorized.
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2 comments

Microsoft has actually released an excellent new application! Windows Live Writer is truly a powerful and useful tool for bloggers! It’s like Word for the Web 2.0!

I haven’t been this impressed from a Microsoft product in a very long time. Live Writer allows you to credit blog posts with amazing ease and spectacular results. It totally blows away another other blog editor that I’ve used before such as Google Docs, Zoho Writer, WordPress, Blogger, etc.

Any Blog, Anytime!
Live Writer has no problems working with just about any blog platform as well. I was able to open/edit and publish to Blogger and WordPress blogs without a hitch. What I liked best about the experience was its ability to open any existing blog post from any blog on the fly. You could then make any changes and re-publish it instantly. The results were almost always exactly what it looked like in Live Writer.

Insert This!
Inserting elements are also vastly improved on Live Writer. Simply click on the item you want to insert such as video, picture or link and Live Writer does all the dirty work for you. The options for manipulating the look and position of pictures is also very impressive.

Plug-in Mania!
One of the best features of Live Writer is the incredible amount of free add-on plug-ins!
Go to Live Writer Plug-ins and take a look at all of the things you can add to the experience! I instantly added a dozen must-have plug-ins! Plus, there are always new ones coming.

Here’s a visual rundown of the new Live Writer:

Preview before you post

Screen shot of Windows Live Writer view menu options

Know what your blog post will look like before you post it, including photos and other rich media. Writer detects your blog theme automatically, including fonts, and displays it while you compose and edit.

Works with your blog service

Screen shot of Windows Live Writer choose weblog options

Writer works with most major blog providers, including Windows Live Spaces, SharePoint, WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, Moveable Type, Community Server, and many others. Get started with your blog in minutes, thanks to automatic blog configuration. Post to multiple blogs: themes are automatically detected for each.

Rich media made easy

Screen shot of Live Search Maps page

Turn your blog into a story with photos, videos, maps, tags and other rich media.  Writer publishes all of it automatically when post.  Quickly link to previous blog posts and other Web pages.

Powerful editing tools

Screen shot of Windows Live Writer spell check feature

Insert and edit tables directly in your entry. Inline spell checker helps you polish your text. Easy hyperlink support lets you link your blog to the online world. Use the HTML view to edit directly in HTML.

More rich content with easy plug-ins

Screen shot of Windows Live Gallery plug-ins

Use plug-ins from Windows Live Gallery to add more rich content to your blog like music feeds, emoticons and quotes of the day. Can’t find the plug-in you want? Make your own and upload it to Gallery for the whole world to share.

Final Thoughts

The only thing missing from the Live Writer experience is the ability to save drafts to online storage accounts such as Microsoft Workspace Office Live, Google Docs, Zoho Writer, or any others. I have no doubt that it will come someday, so we’ll just have to settle for saving drafts to the local drive until then.

Good Links

Download Live Writer here
Live Writer Blog offer useful information about Live Writer.
Windows Live Writer Group is a discussion forum for Live Writer users.

Here’s a good screencast on Live Writer:

Stop Flipping the Bird! April 24, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, News, Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
3 comments

twitter_logo

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of bashing Twitter every time they experience a problem with performance. I’m just as guilty as the next guy when it comes to bad-mouthing Twitter whenever they have a glitch. I vow right here and now to never complain about them again. Why the change of attitude all of sudden, especially after all the horrendous cache problems they’ve had recently?

I owe it all to something I read today on one of my favorite blogs, TechCrunch. It was a surprisingly offensive post called “Amateur Hour Over at Twitter?” composed even more shockingly by none other than Michael Arrington, Mr. Techcrunch himself! In the post, Arrington utterly nukes Blaine Cook, who recently parted ways with Twitter after being one of its chief architects since its inception. blainecook I am convinced that there’s some major subtext behind this story between Arrington and the subject of his public flogging of Blaine Cook, . What else would explain the level of scrutiny that Mr. Cook endured in such a public manner? How could anyone place so much of the blame for Twitter’s woes solely upon one person’s shoulders? Was Blaine responsible for some of the problems that Twitter endured (as well as all of us)? Sure, that’s a given, but to label the work that he and his team accomplished as “amateurish” is just plain inexcusable.

The Rumpelstiltskin Effect

After doing some more research into this I came across more starling information that changed my own opinion and view of Twitter and any other web service for that matter. Apparently, one of the most successful communications successes of our time (twitter) accomplished their massive popularity with a staggering engineering staff of three (3) people, including the “incompetent” Blaine Cook. Not too shabby for rank amateurs, huh?

Look, as a member of I.T. and over a decade of experience with networking infrastructures, I will admit having a slight bias towards under-manned tech staffs. I know what it’s like to deal with the “spin gold from straw” expectations like these guys have done for the past few years. That is why it’s so disappointing to see anyone get disrespected for a job that really should’ve been praised instead. To learn more about the complexity of the Twitter infrastructure and the tremendous challenges they have dealt with, simply checkout Blaine’s presentation: Big Bird (Scaling Twitter). Most of us won’t fully understand the magnitude of their challenges but I think this presentation will give at least a glimpse at some of the reasons Twitter has experienced the problems they’ve had. As a matter of fact, I’ve come away from all of this in amazement that we haven’t had far more serious problems than we’ve all had!

I spoke to a couple of friends who are rock star Ruby on Rails developers who’ve seen Blaine’s presentation and who use Twitter on a regular basis. Our conversation was incredibly enlightening and revealing. The following image is a basic diagram of a simple Ruby on Rails web application, which is what Twitter was built upon. rails2Just imagine a diagram for today’s Twitter. It would dwarf this design because they encompass countless databases and web servers that span the globe with no end in site. The more of us that sign-up and add others to our network, the larger the Twitter databases and network grows. Obviously, this also means the greater the possibility of performance problems and downtime. I’m not making excuses, just telling it like it is, folks. It’s all part of growing pains.

Final Thoughts

While writing this I just read a news flash on Techcruch about Twitter’s VP of Engineering and Operations Lee Mighdoll leaving after only three months. No one seems to know what’s going on at Twitter these days. Obviously, there is something major taking place at the corporate level. Rumors are running wild about Twitter scrambling for funding and potential sale of the service, but it’s all speculation. The lack of a visible business plan and revenue generation stream only adds more fuel to the fire of these rumors. All I know is that we shouldn’t be so quick to throw anyone under the bus without first learning more about the facts. I know I’ve been bad about that in the past and I will not repeat those mistakes ever again with Twitter. These nameless, faceless services have living breathing human beings who take pride in their work and careers. Also, there’s always more to the story than meets the eye.

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