Dale Dietrich
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Category — cloud computing

I Was Eligible for the Free 25GB SkyDrive Upgrade

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Yay, I was eligible for the free 25GB Skydrive upgrade (vs 7GB for new users). To see if you are eligible for the free Skydrive upgrade click here.

Because I used Windows Live Mesh in the past (or maybe because I tested out Skydrive in the past, I don’t know), I was eligible for the free upgrade. Without this free upgrade I probably wouldn’t have used either Google Drive or SkyDrive because their free storage options (5GB and 7GB respectively) were not quite large enough to contain all the contents of my pictures (7.5GB) and key files (2.5GB) directories.

While I was an enthusiastic early user of Dropbox, I prefer SkyDrive over the new Google Drive and DropBox primarily because I can sync any number of disparate existing folders from my PC. Google Drive and Dropbox limit your sharing to only one dedicated folder.

[Update: After reading the Paul Thurrott piece listed below, I discovered that, unlike Live Mesh before it, Sky Drive does not yet allow you to sync multiple disparate folders Sad smile . It appears to have the same dedicated folder limitation that Google Drive and Dropbox have. Alas, while I’m happy to have the 25GB upgrade, it won’t be used until I can use SkyDrive to sync multiple folders.]

CONTINUE READING →

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How to Sync only Selected Outlook 2010 Contacts with Google Apps Sync

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Google Apps Sync (see video below) for Outlook is a Godsend!

 

Until recently I was using:

Until Google Apps Sync I had no way of syncing contacts between Outlook and Gmail. When iTunes version 9.1 crapped out and stopped syncing contacts and calendar with my iPhone (this was fixed in iTunes 9.2 by the way) I made the decision to pony up the $50 a year for Google Apps Premier which includes Google Apps Sync.

It was worth every penny. I am rid the sync hodge-podge described above. I now have an end-to end, email, calendar, contact sync solution across my PCs, Google Apps Gmail, my iPhone and my iPad.

The Problem – How to Sync Only Selected Contacts

I only want a relatively few current contacts synced from Outlook to Gmail, my iPhone and iPad – about 250 or so contacts. But, I have accumulated some 800 contacts including historic clients and colleagues from prior law firms, restaurants from when I lived in different cities, old friends I no longer keep in touch with and so on. I don’t want to lose these contacts but I also don’t want them cluttering up my Google Apps Gmail, iPhone or iPad contact lists.

While you can segregate contacts within different contact folders inside the Google Apps Sync account in Outlook, all contacts such segregated contacts continue to sync into the unified Gmail, iPhone and iPad contact lists – regardless of the contact folder structure you set up inside of Outlook.

CONTINUE READING →

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Bell’s Internet Usage Meter is Off by Up-to 60 Hours

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Bell Internet Max 16 logo Last March, I switched ISPs from Rogers to Bell’s fiber-to-the-building Internet Max 16 service. I made the switch at the same time I ‘cut the chord’ – dumping Rogers cable in favor of HD, over-the-air only, TV recorded on my Series 3 TiVo.

Bell offered me a one year promotional deal for their Internet Max 16 service where I would receive (in theory*) download speeds of up to 16 Mbps and 1 Mbps upload for $41.90 a month. At the time, my theoretical 10 Mbps down service from Rogers (with a 95 GB cap) was costing me $59.95 a month.

As with Rogers, all of Bell’s plans have data caps – much smaller than comparable U.S. ISPs I might add. The data cap for the service under the Internet Max 16 promotional offer is 100 GB. 

Periodically during each month, I check my Bell Internet usage meter** (shown below, after the jump) to make sure I’m staying within the 100 GB cap. This becomes particularly important towards the end of the month where I am always running up against the cap.

As you can see in the picture below (circled in red after the jump), Bell’s ‘My Internet usage’ meter contains fine print which reads:

Note: Current total Internet usage activity shown may be delayed by up to 60 hours.

CONTINUE READING →

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Evernote Review – It Has Become an Integral Part of my Life

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imageWhen I first purchased my Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, several years ago, I dabbled with an earlier stand-alone version of Evernote. It presented a never-ending scratch-pad of sorts that I could write on with the tablet’s stylus. It was nice, even useful, but it didn’t supplant OneNote as my primary note-keeping software, until recently.

Evernote is the latest of several cloud-based service that I have been experimenting with. See my prior posts on  Google Apps Gmail with iMap, xmarks (formerly Foxmarks) and Dropbox.

The new cloud-based Evernote blows both the old Evernote and OneNote out of the water.

Evernote Benefits

  • It’s free. Free accounts permit up to 40 Megabytes of new notes to be added / synced per month. I haven’t come close to using my monthly capacity in the two months I’ve used it (I have used, perhaps 1/4 of that).
  • More than Text Notes: With the free version you can keep text, photo, audio clip and handwritten notes (in my case, written with a stylus on my tablet laptop). You can also import PDF files into notes in the free version.
  • imageMultiplatform Syncing: These notes are continuously synced, accessible and editable across my three primary PCs (Thinkpad tablet, Dell XPS desktop and my iMac) and my iPhone.
  • Accessible from the Cloud: I can access and edit these notes through my Evernote account in the cloud.
  • Notes Backed Up: By virtue of its syncing across multiple platforms and a copy of all notes residing in the cloud, my notes are continuously backed-up across my systems and off-site.
  • e8fbda733b7f1ac3f333410a6e35dfe3Tagging & Search: You can tag notes, structure the tags in a hierarchy (if you like – see the picture of part of my tag hierarchy on the right) and sort them how you chose. Or don’t. Instead, you can rely on its formidable search engine to find your notes. Either way, notes I wrote years ago (imported from OneNote) are as easy to find as notes I wrote yesterday.
  • Indexes Text in Images: Surprisingly, Evernote can index text in images. If I take a picture of a bottle of wine, a business card, a plane ticket, or even hand written notes on my tablet, it will scan and index that text. That text then becomes searchable when looking for the note containing the image at a later date.
  • Clip From Anywhere: Evernote adds toolbar icons in Firefox and IE that allow you to clip webpage contents, text, columns or images into a note. You can clip entire pages or just a few paragraphs. Additionally, pressing Print-Screen on a PC (Control-Command-C on the iMac ) fires up a screen ‘Clipper’ app that can grab a screen shot of any running app or the entire desktop (or portion thereof). You can cut and paste from any app on an iPhone into the Evernote app.

See this ‘What is Evernote’ page for more details on what it does.

CONTINUE READING →

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I’m Using Dropbox to Sync Key Files Across My PC, Laptop and iMac

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dropbox logo

I have recently been experimenting with various cloud-based services. Among the best are EverNote, Google Apps Gmail with iMap, xmarks (formerly Foxmarks) and, now, Dropbox.

As described in more detail below, among other things Dropbox: (i) allows me to securely sync office documents between my PCs and Mac at any location; (ii) unchains me from my office PC; (iii) liberates me from coding on a single PC; and (iv) allows me to draft and maintain my Windows Live Writer blog posts from any of my PCs situated anywhere.

Dropbox Benefits

  • Sync: Dropbox synchronizes your key files between any number of Internet-connected PCs, laptops or Macs, effortlessly and instantaneously.
  • Access Your Key Files Anywhere: Synced files are also maintained on the Dropbox servers. You can login to your account from any web-enabled computer to securely access your files (download or upload).
  • Security: All file transmissions occur over an encrypted SSL channel. All files stored on Dropbox servers are encrypted using AES-256 encryption accessible only by you with your account password.
  • Backup: Because your files are synced across at least two PCs, your files are effectively backed-up.
  • Real-Time Offsite Backup: Because your files are also copied to the Dropbox servers, they are effectively backed-up, off site, in real-time.
  • Undo/File Recovery: Remarkably, Dropbox maintains a 30 day history of every change made to your files so you can undo changes or undelete accidently deleted files.
  • Shared Files & Folders: You can share files and folders with other drop-box users. For example, you could set up a shared folder of photos accessible only by friends and family through their Dropbox accounts.
  • iPhone App Coming Soon: You can view all your Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF, etc. files  using the free Dropbox iPhone App coming soon (see iPhone, Blackberry and other Dropbox mobile details here).

Click here for a detailed list of Dropbox features.

Dropbox Demo

How I use Dropbox

  • Office Document Use: As a lawyer I access, edit and annotate Word documents and pdfs all day, every day. When I move from my PC to my laptop, I save the file I’m working on and by the time I shift to my laptop, the changes made to that file are synced to my laptop. Similarly any edits made on the laptop are instantaneously synced back to the desktop. No longer do I have to email the document to myself, save it to a USB key, copy to/from network drives. I simply open and save files on whatever PC, laptop, or Mac I’m using, and the latest version is instantly available on the other synced devices.

CONTINUE READING →

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Eric Schmidt’s Definition of Web 3.0

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Eric Schmidt is the CEO of Google. In the 2 minute video below he describes what he believes Web 3.0 applications will be.

 

In summary, he defines, Web 3.0 as:

  • Applications that are pieced together.
  • They are relatively small.
  • The data is in the cloud.
  • The application can run on any device, PC or mobile phone.
  • Applications are fast and customizable
  • Applications are distributed virally via social networks and email.

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How to Host Your Email on Your Domain using Google Apps’ Gmail– for Free!

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google apps' gmail - sent mail screen With Google Apps’ Gmail you can set up personalized email addresses for yourself, up to 50 members of your family or 50 employees in your business, using an Internet domain you own and control – for free! Your email address will no longer be chained to your ISP or your web-based email provider such as Hotmail, Yahoo! or Gmail.

I have been using Google Apps to host my personal and professional ‘@daledietrich.com’ email (pictured above) for about a year now. In this post I provide detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to do this.

While Google Apps’ Gmail is completely free, to use it you must register your own domain. If you haven’t yet, you can register a domain with a Domain Host (‘DH’). I use GoDaddy. As of the date I write this, GoDaddy charges $9.99 U.S. ($9.99 on sale) for a one year registration of  a DOT COM domain ($6.99 to transfer in an existing .com domain) and $10.69 for annual renewals.

Screenshots below were taken when I set up my ‘daleipshere.com’ domain to use Google Apps Gmail using GoDaddy.com as my DH.

 

Why Google Apps for Email?

A. Email Hosting for Any Domain – for Free: I used to pay $65 a year to have my @daledietrich.com email hosted by Elehost (a terrific ISP by the way). Now my @daledietrich.com, @daleisphere.com and @wishhh.com email is hosted on Google Apps for free!

B. Freedom from ISP Domains: Most personal email accounts use the ISPs domain – eg: yourname@comcast.com, yourname@rogers.com. This artificially locks users into a given ISP. If you wish to change your ISP you may be reluctant to do so because you’ll have to change your email address. If a move results in a change of ISP, you’ll have the additional hassle of changing your email address. But, when you set up a Google Apps Gmail account with your own custom domain, email accounts you set up for your family or business can be used forever – regardless of your ISP.

CONTINUE READING →

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Facebook Connect Glitch with Disqus

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disqus - facebook connect - not logged in

[Update: As of April 18, 2009, the Facebook Connect glitch under Disqus discussed in this post appears to be remedied. As you can see, I have re-activated the Facebook Connect option on The Daleisphere.

I also note that commenters using Facebook connect have the option (when leaving a comment) to allow that comment to be posted back to their Facebook feed.

Finally, I have updated my ‘Why and How to Integrate Facebook Connect with Disqus’ post to reflect recent Disqus/Facebook implementation changes.]

————–

Disqus is in the process of enhancing their Facebook Connect feature. However, for the last day or so, with the feature enabled, only logged-in Disqus users were able to leave comments on The Daleisphere and on my iMedia Law blog. Neither Facebook users, nor regular commenters could leave comments here.

I recently updated sections 4.6 and 4.8 of my ‘Why and How to Integrate Facebook Connect with Disqus’ post describing the changes that Disqus recently instructed me to make on the applicable Facebook developer pages to facilitate the latest enhancements.  Clearly, they are not working.

For more information on the problem, I wrote a detailed description of Facebook Connect / Disqus problem here in the Disqus forums.

So, as of March 18, 2009, I have shut off Disqus’ Facebook Connect functionality on my Daleisphere and iMedia Law blogs. 

I will update this post when this problem is resolved.

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Pixlr – Terrific, Free, Web-based Image Editor

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pixlr in operation in full screen mode I discovered a terrific new web-based image editor called pixlr.com. It works like Photoshop Elements, Paint.net and other popular image editors – but from inside any browser, with nothing to install.

It’s free. No sign-up or user account needed. No downloads or installs required. It just works – instantly.

Remarkably, If you have Adobe Flash 10 installed, it works like a desktop app, but, still, in your browser. Load and save images from your PC via typical desktop pull-down menus. Press F11 to make it go full screen. It looks and feels like you are running a desktop app.

It works on the Mac or a PC – anywhere you can install Adobe Flash. This is particularly attractive for Mac users given that there is no useful image editor built into OS X.

CONTINUE READING →

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Why and How to Integrate Facebook Connect with Disqus

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 Using Facebook Connect with Disqus
The primary reason I switched from Intense Debate to Disqus, is Disqus’s integration with Facebook Connect. Below I describe why this is important. I then provide a step-by-step ‘how-to’ guide on how to integrate Facebook Connect with Disqus.

[This Post was Updated on April 18, 2009 to reflect the changes made to the setup process, both on Disqus and the Facebook developer pages.]

1. Why Facebook Connect is a Big Deal

Discussion via comments draws users back for repeated visits to their site while engaging them in conversation with the blogger and other commenters. Bloggers want traffic to drive more ad sales and, frankly, they want more people reading their content. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Users are understandably reluctant to leave comments on blogs. Most bloggers, including myself, require users to leave a name, email address and an optional URL. The reason for this, at least in my case, is to weed out spam commenters and to develop a sense of community among commenters. Requiring such information has the unfortunate side effect of dissuading most readers from commenting because they don’t want:

  1. the ‘sign up’ hassle just to leave a comment; and
  2. to provide personally identifying information.

Facebook Connect solves these two problems and provides other terrific benefits.

CONTINUE READING →

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How to Integrate Disqus within WordPress 2.7 Blogs

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disqus logo

Earlier this month I described How to install Intense Debate in WordPress 2.7 blogs. In my ‘Why I switched from IntenseDebate to Disqus’ post [coming soon] I describe why I made the switch.

The Disqus installation instructions are out of date (written for pre WP 2.7 blogs) and surprisingly difficult to follow.

Happily, both Disqus and IntenseDebate mirror/sync comments within a blog’s databases (though there are still problems with threaded comments not retaining structure – see part 6 below). This makes it possible to switch back and forth between the two at will.

Below I provide a step-by-step guide for integrating Disqus within a WordPress 2.7 blog. I first make some preparatory recommendations. Then I describe the steps needed to set up with Disqus, download and install the Disqus WP plugin, how to import your historical comments into Disqus and, finally, how to reclaim straggler comments.

CONTINUE READING →

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Scoble Convinced me to Join friendfeed

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friendfeed logo

Since joining Twitter a few months back, I have wanted to understand how it overlapped/interacted with the web-content aggregator friendfeed. I looked at friendfeed at least two or three times and never quite ‘got it’ – until today.

Robert Scoble was a guest on the recent episode 81 of net@night. This guy is quite the friendfeed evangelist (Arrington suggests he’s addicted to it). So much so that the net@nite discussion made me want to take another look. Leo mentioned that Scoble had done a ‘how to’ type video on friendfeed. A quick Google search lead me to this very informative 26 minute video: ‘Robert Scoble: 20 Things About Friendfeed”:

CONTINUE READING →

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How To Install IntenseDebate in WordPress 2.7

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intense debate logo

Since listening to this net@night podcast back in May 2008, where Amber and Leo interviewed Daniel Ha, the founder of the Disqus, I have been interested in implementing this kind of a community-oriented, commenting/discussion system on my blogs.

Early on, I had compared the feature set of Disqus and its competitor, IntenseDebate (“ID”), and Disqus’s feature set and looks won. Concerns surrounding the ability to import, export, sync and otherwise control my comments, held me back. I was not going to join any system where I lost ownership/control of my users’ comments.

In the interim, both Disqus and ID have added dynamic comment importing, exporting and synchronization features. I became comfortable that I would not be locked into any commenting system if/when I chose to leave. Scot Jangro’s December 30, 2008 post, ‘Comment System Review Redux’, compared the the two systems afresh and gave me substantial comfort that ID’s feature set had evolved to near parity with Disqus (see other comparisons: inquisitr.com | Mashable).

But the clincher came on Sept 23, 2008 when Automattic, the owner of WordPress, purchased IntenseDebate. (See: Matt Mullenweg’s commentIntenseDebate’s commentDisqus’s comment). I expect Automattic to integrate IntenseDebate’s community comment / discussion system into the WordPress core at some point. So, as a WordPress user, it seemed a no brainer to go with IntenseDebate.

[January 23, 2009 Update: Despite what I wrote above, I ultimately switched to Disqus not long after implementing Intense Debate. In my ‘Why I switched from IntenseDebate to Disqus’ post [coming soon] I describe why I made the switch.]

IntenseDebate’s WordPress Plugin features are discussed here.  The newest WordPress Plugin (v 2.0.18) has been completely overhauled, making the installation and comment import/export/sync process much easier than it was.

Below I describe why I installed ID. I then walk you, step-by-step, through the IntenseDebate installation process in WordPress 2.7.

CONTINUE READING →

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How to Sync ‘Work’ and ‘Home’ Email Addresses Between the iPhone and Outlook 2007 – Error Free

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iPhone to Outlook Contact Sync ExampleWhen adding contacts into each of the iPhone and Outlook 2007, there are built-in, distinct ‘home’, ‘work’/’business’ and ‘mobile’ telephone number fields. Yet, surprisingly, Outlook 2007 does not provide built-in, discreet ‘home’, ‘work’ or ‘other’ email address fields. Yet, the iPhone does!

As a result of this disparity, you can get very odd results when synchronizing your iPhone and Outlook 2007 contacts. Unless you are aware of, and properly handling, how the syncing works, it will seem as if the iPhone randomly categorizes email addresses originating from Outlook 2007 as either ‘home’, ‘work’ or ‘other’.

Happily, as described below, the Outlook and iPhone email fields do sync in a predictable way. With little effort, you can make sure that ‘home’, ‘work’ and ‘other’ email address fields are properly synched between Outlook 2007 and your iPhone.

The Problem

As you can see from the picture below (after the break), when adding new contacts in Outlook 2007, there are no built-in, discreet ‘home’, ‘work’, ‘business’ or ‘other’ email address fields. The only choice you have is the default non-numbered ‘E-mail…’ field, and the ‘E-mail 2’, and ‘E-mail 3’ fields (available from the pull-down menu).

CONTINUE READING →

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Best Demos at Techcrunch50

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TechCrunch50 logo

I just listened to the TWiT podcast 161 were Jason Calicanis described two of the most interesting demos shown at the recent TechCrunch50 conference – tonchidot and swype.  I also briefly mention the contest winner – yammer.

Tochidot:

tonchidot logo This demo, by Japanese “tonchidot”, got the best audience response at the recent Techcrunch50 show. Watch the demo here.

It starts off slow. It’s hard to understand the Japanese presenter. About 4 minutes in an English presenter takes over and describes the technology. The idea is really cool.

tochidot demo 
It’s an iPhone app that interacts with the world around it. As you are walking around the real world, and looking at the iPhone screen, tags (text/audio) about your surroundings, that others posted earlier, appear on the screen in real-time. It uses the iPhone’s built in GPS to know where you are and the iPhones accelerometer to know which angle and which way you are looking. Anyone can add tags about anything they are looking at that anyone later can read/listen too. Ultimately, if this catches on, the world around us could be tagged full of information left by users that went before.

Suggested uses include, restaurant/store reviews, site-seeing guides, museum/painting guides, tourist destination information. Restaurants could post their menus that users could read just by pointing their iPhone at the restaurant. Theatre goers can get reviews of the current show by pointing their iPhone at the theatre.

The question and answer period was hilarious because the presenters clearly could not speak English. “We have a puppet” was an answer to one tech question.

The obvious answer to the unanswered question-and-answer question (what happens when surroundings change over time?) is that the tags would/could be organized by date. The most recent tags would be presented first (to reflect the world as it is now – or most recently was) with the possibility to dig down to older tags to read/hear about how the thing/place you are looking at was in the past.

CONTINUE READING →

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iPhone Firmware 2.1 Promises

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iPhone 2.1 Software Update

I’m updating my 3G iPhone Software as I type this.  The installation screen above is promising the following improvements. I for one am looking forward to the “significantly improved battery life” – my only real issue with the iPhone 3G hardware.

iPhone 2.1 Software Update

iPhone version 2.1 contains many bug fixes and improvements, including the following:

  • decrease in call set-up failures and call drops
  • significantly improved battery life for most users
  • dramatically reduced time to backup to iTunes
  • improved email reliability, notably fetching email from POP and Exchange accounts
  • faster installation of 3rd party applications
  • fixed bugs causing hangs and crashes if you have lots of 3rd party applications
  • improved performance in text messaging
  • faster loading and searching of contacts
  • improved accuracy of the 3G signal strength display
  • repeat alert up to two additional times for incoming text messages
  • option to wipe data after ten failed passcode attempts
  • Genius playlist creation

I’ll update this after I’ve had a chance to test.

[Sept 17, 2009 Update: I've now had a few days to test and the battery life does seem to have improved. But not by as much as I first thought. My subjective guess would be that the battery is lasting about 10% to 15% longer than it has before the 2.1 firmware update.]

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I Purchased the 16 Gig Rogers 3G iPhone

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Dale Dietrich Poses With his New 3G Rogers iPhone On Wednesday August 13, I purchased a 16 Gig 3G Rogers iPhone.

Please see my “Rogers Canadian iPhone Plans – The Fine Print” post for the details on: (i) the actual (vs. advertised) hardware pricing; (ii) Rogers’ 30 day Buyers Remorse option; (iii) the applicable $125 to $500 Early Cancellation Fees (ECF); (iv) bricking on cancellation; (v) the jailbreak option/issue; (vi) the option to transfer the iPhone to a third party (and avoid the ECF); (vii) Canadian iPhone shortages; (viii) upgrading to future models; (ix) data roaming in Canada; (x) the 365 day warranty; and (xi) moving your SIM between phones.

Below I describe: (i) how I resolved my purchase impediments; (ii) the Rogers Buyer’s Remorse Option; (iii) my first impressions (I’m loving it); and (iv) the all-in Rogers iPhone and data plan cost.

Overcoming Obstacles to Purchase

In light of my strong aversion to cell phone contracts (let alone Rogers’ infamous 3 year iPhone contract) and early cancellation fees, there were several major obstacles I had to resolve before I felt comfortable enough to ‘purchase’ the subsidized 3G iPhone.

  • 16 Gig iPhone is Too Small – Upgrade Dilemma: I carry around about 25 GB of music, 50 or so podcasts at any given time, workout and a few other videos/movies on my current video iPod (most of the storage is used for music). I’ll need storage space for the App Store applications I download. Plus, I’ll need space for email, contacts, pictures and visual voicemail. To manage with a 16 Gig iPhone, I’ll have to give up carrying most of my music around. So, I will inevitably want to upgrade to a 32 GB iPhone when it comes out. Resolution: As you can read in my ‘fine print’ post, the Rogers rep assured me that future models will be released for purchase at retail (as opposed to subsidized under contracts as is the case now). So, if he is right,  at that time I’d be able to purchase and use the newer (larger capacity) unit under my current contract (and sell my 16 Gig iPhone). I rarely listen to music on my iPod anyway. Instead I use it mostly to listen to and watch podcasts. For now, I’ll use my current iPod for the rare times I want music while travelling.
  • Rogers Dataplan Issue: The initially announced Rogers data plans were ridiculous (see here). Resolution: I took advantage of the $30/month 6 GB limited time offer. Home WiFi data usage is not counted against 3G dataplan limits. The free Rogers/Fido WiFi hotspot usage is also not counted against 3G dataplan limits. I expect most of my data usage will be through WiFi so I’m hoping/expecting that the 6 GB limit should be enough for my needs – but I’ll only know for sure after a few months of use.

CONTINUE READING →

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Rogers Canadian iPhone Plans – The Fine Print [Rewritten & Updated]

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Rogers iPhone

[This post is a rewritten version of an earlier July 28, 2008 post. I 'purchased' a 3G iPhone on August 13. In the mean time I spoke at length with two Rogers representatives on the telephone and spent a couple hours of quality time with "Jay" at the Rogers Store at Bay & King in Toronto. Click here for my prior summary of the Rogers 3G iPhone Rate Plan Offerings]

$199 and $299 Price ONLY on New Activations

I was  unpleasantly surprised when I ‘purchased’ my 16 GB 3G iPhone, that they charged me $324.99 instead of the $299 advertised price. The Rogers rep (Jay) told me that the $199 and $299 prices are available only to new Rogers customers. I had been a month to month Rogers subscriber since November 2001. The representative explained that I was getting a special deal given that I’m a high-value customer. I was told that ‘lesser value Rogers customers’ face up-to a $50 premium over the advertised $199/$299 prices.  I didn’t feel special!

30 Day Buyer’s Remorse Returns

Summary: iPhone purchasers can return an iPhone for a full refund and without having to pay the Early Cancellation Fees discussed below provided all of the following conditions are met:

  1. the iPhone is returned within 30 days of activation to the store where it was purchased;
  2. you have used less than 30 minutes of airtime (no more than 29 minutes);
  3. you provide your proof of purchase (receipt – contract); and
  4. the iPhone is undamaged and returned ‘like new’ with all pieces and original packaging.

CONTINUE READING →

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3G iPhone Reviews Rolling In

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Rogers Announces Expensive 3G iPhone Rate Plans – No Unlimited Access

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Rogers iPhone

Reference: Rogers iPhone Facts | RuinedPhone.com
[August 15, 2008 Update: Many of the questions and concerns discussed below are addressed in my newer post: Rogers Canadian iPhone Plans - The Fine Print]

[October 6, 2008 Update: As of October 3, 2008 Rogers has changed their iPhone plans again. Details are available here.]

Rogers has announced its (and its subsidiary Fido’s) long awaited Canadian 3G iPhone (details here) data plan pricing. The iPhone will become available in Canada, and around the world, on July 11.

Unlike AT&T and other international carriers, Rogers is not offering an unlimited data plan option. Rather it is bundling rather meagre data tiers to tiered voice plans at considerably higher prices than charged in Europe and the United States (see here). Here’s the details:

  • Minimum 3 Year Contract (AT&T offers U.S. customers the option: (i) of a 2 year contract; or (ii) to purchase of iPhone outright with no contract- see below)
  • $199 for 8GB 3G iPhone; $299 for 16GB (same as U.S. – announced by Steve Jobs but not yet officially confirmed by Rogers)
  • No Unlimited Data Plan. Rogers offers the following mixed monthly voice/data plans:
    • $60400 MB Data - 75 outgoing SMS - 150 minutes*;
    • $75750 MB Data - 100 outgoing SMS - 300 minutes;
    • $1001 GB Data - 200 outgoing SMS - 600 minutes;
    • $1152 GB Data - 300 outgoing SMS - 800 minutes;

*Minutes are weekday minutes. Rates do note include $15 or $20 a month for an options such as Caller ID, more text messages and call forwarding.

[July 9, 2008 Update: Rogers announced a limited time $30, 6GB iPhone data plan that can be added on to any Rogers voice plan. This offer expires on August 31, 2008]

By way of comparison the cheapest US AT&T data plan costs $30 for unlimited data and $39.99 for voice which includes 450 minutes, no SMS messages, and unlimited U.S. long distance (for a combined $69.99 total) (See U.S. Plan details)
[See also U.K./U.S./Cdn Price Plan Comparisons]

  • $6.95 monthly system access charge is charged by Rogers/Fido on top of data plans. (AT&T does not charge a monthly access plan but does charge a one time $36 activation fee for newbies, $18 for upgrades for existing iPhone customers)
  • 3G iPhoneAll Rogers plans include unlimited:
  • ‘Subsidized Only’ There is no option to purchase the phone at full price to avoid the 3 year minimum contract and cancellation fees (a practice prohibited in some European countries and under review by the U.S. FCC). U.S. users will be able to purchase their iPhone’s without a contract for  $599/$699.

CONTINUE READING →

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$35 Rogers iPhone Unlimited Rate Plan Leaked – Rumoured

Categories: canadacloud computinggadgetsinteractive mediasmall office
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Rogers iPhone

[June 28, 2008 Update: Rogers announced its actual rate plans on June 27. Click here for the details. I'm leaving this rumour post as it was for posterity.]

This post on the ehMac.ca forum purports to have the details on Rogers/Fido rate plans for the 3G iPhone set for release on July 11. This was picked up by the Financial Post here, giving it enough credibility for me to blog about.

[July 20, 2008 Update: According to this article in the Toronto Star, the pricing plan set out below is wrong.  Here’s what the Star.com says:

Under the new model, smartphone users can choose between "flex" and "non-flex" plans with buckets of data that range in price from $60 for 1 gigabyte to $100 for 6 gigabytes. The plans are purchased in addition to a voice plan.]

[July 19, 5:28 pm Update: AppleInsider is questioning the veracity of this ‘leak’ here. They point out the purported leaked Rogers memo looks identical to an earlier AT&T memo. This could be a completely bogus cut and paste fake.]

Summary of the Salient Points

  • $35 Unlimited Data Plan: Rogers (and its subsidiary  Fido) will offer an unlimited data plan for $35 ($45 for enterprise customers), on top of your regular cell phone bill.
  • 3 Year Contract Commitment: Rogers will require you to commit to three years of service. No word on what the early termination penalties are.
  • “No ‘No Commitment’ Option: There will be no option to purchase a non-subsidized phone without a commitment.
  • $199 (8GB) and $299 (16GB) Device Costs: This is the same as in the U.S.
  • 30 Day Return Policy: If you don’t like the device you can return it within 30 days without breaking the long-term contract.
  • Mandatory In-Store Activation: Just like in the U.S.
  • No Word on SMS: Since SMS is nothing but data it should be included in an unlimited data plan. But, AT&T is charging extra for SMS messaging. Sadly, I’d expect Rogers to follow suit. This just means I won’t use SMS

This Would be Terrific

If this is true, it would be generally terrific news and a huge departure from the exorbitant data plan rates of the past. I concluded in this post that I would be willing to pay up to $50 a month for a decent data plan.

Long Term Contracts – Ugh

I do not like long-term contracts. I have always purchased my cell phones at full retail price to leave my exit options open.

There should be a law in Canada, as there is in France, mandating that carriers provide an option to purchase the device without a contract. This tried-and true carrier lock-in-by-contract technique is anti-competitive. It will keep Rogers/Fido users from switching to Bell/Telus when they start selling IPhones on their GSM overlay systems – due to be completed in a year or so.

But, if the penalty for breaking the contract is around $200 or less, I’ll take it. I’ll just consider it a cost of the phone.

Cross Border SIM Card Question

One big question I have is, can I take the SIM card out of the iPhone and use a U.S. AT&T SIM if/when I move back to the U.S. Yes, I know I’d have to pay the penalty to break my contract but I’d like to know if I purchase the 3G iPhone (especially if I pay the penalty) that I can take it with me if/when I move South. It angered me greatly when I returned from the U.S. years ago only to discover that I couldn’t use my the AT&T Motorola GSM phone that I payed full-retail price for on Rogers GSM network.

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3G iPhone, Yes But…

Categories: canadacloud computinggadgetsinteractive mediasmall office
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3G iPhoneIn episode 147 of This Week in Tech, Leo highlights a few of the ‘yes, but… ‘ shortcomings of the latest 3G iPhone offering.

  • Limited 3G Availability: AT&T’s 3G HSDPA is only available in limited U.S. geographical areas (I don’t know how widespread Rogers 3G Network is)>
  • Higher Dataplan Rates: The unlimited data plan price for U.S. consumers has gone up from $25 a month to $30 a month (a price point Canadians still salivate over) .
  • 3G iPhone's New AppsSMS Not Included: AT&T will charge 10 cents per 140 bytes (characters). This is ‘odd’ because SMS is only data. But carrier’s excel at squeezing every last penny out of their users. This is clearly a cash cow they intend to milk as long as they can (Android, please come to our rescue).
  • Turn by Turn GPS Prohibited: Not only doesn’t the 3G iPhone not provide turn by turn GPS,  but Apple’s SDK prohibits developers from writing turn by turn GPS programs. My guess is Apple intends to launch a for-pay turn by turn service in the future. One wonders whether the SDK prohibition violates anti-trust laws.

CONTINUE READING →

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3G iPhone Coming to Canada July 11 – $199 – $299

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3G iPhone 
June 9, 2008 WWDC 2008 Keynote Announcing 3G iPhone

  • New 3G iPhone: “Twice the speed, half the price” – Details on U.S. Apple Website here (Canadian details here)
  • Launching on July 11: in Canada (on Rogers and Fido networks) and 23 other new countries  
  • 3G Speeds Approaching wifi Speeds: U.S. details here (Canadian details here)
  • Lower Pricing  (U.S. pricing – hardware price identical in Canada)
    • $199 for 8MB iPhone (to put this in context the 8MB iPhone launched at $599 just last year and was $399 up to today )
    • $299 for 16GB
    • $30/ month for U.S. Consumers AT&T unlimited data plan (on top of voice contract).
    • $45/month for U.S. Business Users.
    • [June 28 Update: Disappointing Canadian tiered data plan announced – see details)
  • Built in GPS: Satellite GPS supplemented by data from cell towers. U.S. details here (Canadian details here)
  • Increased Battery Life:
    • 300 hours (6 weeks) standby
    • 24 hours audio (music/podcasts)
    • 7 hours video
    • 5-6 hours 3G surfing
    • 5 hours 3G talk (10 hours 2G talk)
    • no GPS battery details yet

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Automatic Outlook 2007 Email Backups – Sort Of

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Outlook 2007 For years now I have used Second Copy to both: (i) automatically backup my critical files to external storage devices (currently to a Drobo); and (ii) to synchronize key files between my computers across my network and laptops.

By and large it has worked well (perhaps some of its foibles will be the subject of a future post). But one thing it cannot do, and no other software that I’m aware of can, is backup Outlook’s PST files while Outlook is running. PST files are the files where Outlook stores emails, calendar data, contact info etc.

In my world, my PC is usually running 24/7 and so is Outlook.

For years I have searched, on and off and without success for software that can backup PST files while Outlook is running. Recently I came across Microsoft’s Outlook 2007/2003/2002 Add-in: Personal Folders Backup ("PFB")utility (download here).

While it cannot backup Outlook files while Outlook is running, it does the next best thing – it backs them up automatically when you exit Outlook. Since I exit Outlook at least a few times a week, my PST files are now backed up that often.

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Synchronize Firefox 3 Bookmarks with foxmarks

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foxmarks logo

[July 7, 2008 Update: I discuss the foxmarks beta version below. Foxmarks is now out of beta and available as a normal add-on for Firefox 3.  You can download it here.]

[May 2009 Update: Foxmarks is now named xmarks and can be downloaded here.]

Last year I became an enthusiastic user of Google Browser Sync (GBS). It effortlessly synced my Firefox bookmarks, passwords, browsing history and cookies across my several desktop and laptop computers.

When I tested Firefox 3, beta 4 in April I was saddened to discover that GBS didn’t work with Firefox 3. Mozilla has completely changed how the bookmarking system works in Firefox. As far as I can tell, Google has not announced plans to update GBS despite numerous bloggers and forum participants beseeching Google to do so (see for example here and here).
[July 7 Update: Google announced several weeks ago that it will no longer provide GBS for Firefox.]

Weave Didn’t Work for Me

So I downloaded Mozilla’s newest beta software, Weave, that promised to synchronize my bookmarks (latest version 0.1.28 available here – ars technica setup instructions here – poorly reviewed here – but working for this guy and this blogger). Despite hours of frustration I couldn’t get it to work – at all.

Lastly, I looked to foxmarks but, at the time, the Firefox 3 version was in private beta only.

So, without a means to synchronize my bookmarks and given the Firefox 3 ‘Open in Tabs’ Overwrite Bug that I previously wrote about, I fell back (tail between my legs) to using Firefox 2 – memory leaks and all.

Firefox 3 logo With the release of Firefox 3, RC1 I couldn’t wait any longer. I installed it expecting to use Firefox, for a time, without synchronized bookmarks – quite dispiriting given how I’ve become reliant on it for cross-system synchronization.

foxmarks for Firefox 3 Now Available in Public Beta

After installing Firefox 3, RC1 [Update: download current version here] I was happy to discover that a public beta for the Firefox 3 version of foxmarks was now underway. I installed it on my computers and it worked. It continues to work without incident across all of my Visa x64 and XP PCs.

CONTINUE READING →

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