Monday, March 30, 2009

Skype for iPhone coming this week

According to TechCrunch, Skype for the iPhone will be released tomorrow.

Skype is a free application that allows users to talk to each other over the internet through connections called Voice over IP (VOIP). The iPhone app will also be free and allow any user of an iPhone to make 100% unlimited and free calls to other Skype users as long as they are connected to a wireless network.

Skype's application allow users to talk through VOIP no matter where they are in the world. The release of this application for the iPhone is HUGE becuase before you really had to be a geek to connect a mic to a computer and make a call from Starbucks, tomorrow - you'll just need to pick up your iPhone and call your cousin in Paraguay. Oh, by the way you can talk all you want, it'll be free.

T-Mobile launched Unlimited Hot Spot calling and I wrote about it inway back in October of 2006. The reason it never took off? You needed to be in a T-Mobile hot spot location. Bad move, T-Mobile, you could grabbed some serious marketshare there.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What is Twitter?

A lot of people in my circle have begun to ask me about Twitter. It seems the media is a buzz about Twitter and people are wondering what it is all about, should they join, and am I on Twitter? Since I read the entire internet so you don't have to.® what follows is my view on what Twitter is and why it's becoming so popular.

Twitter is a way to update your status or "micro blog" on a subject in 140 characters or less (basically the length of a SMS text message on a cell phone). Since
61 percent of the worlds population has a cell phone - the Twitter phenomena continues to explode through text messaging.

Once you join Twitter and get a username (mine is PatrickKaine), you'll want to start following people. When you follow someone and they send a tweet (the really gay way of saying they updated their status), you'll be able to see the message on your Twitter home page, on your cell phone as an SMS, through an RSS subscription, or any/all of these.

Keep up with things that are happening RIGHT NOW. I am following 69News (our local news station) and tonight they tweeted (I really hate writing that) about a severe thunderstorm approaching with hail and a funnel cloud. Lets say you are absolutely fascinated with Facebook and want to read everything about it. Do a Twitter search for Facebook and get real time results of people "talking" about it. Tip: I like going to Twitscoop and watching the rising trend key words to see what people are talking about right now.

Stay 'indirectly' connected. Lets say that a group of co-workers are working on a project or are just working together. I wouldn't send an email to Amy telling her that I'm stopping in on a client - but I might chose to use Twitter to update my status about this and all of those who follow me will be a little more "connected" knowing what I'm up to. When you do the same, we're staying connected - maybe even from hundreds of miles away from each other.

Connect with people who share similar interests. I recently contacted a co-worker through Twitter about how she was using her iPhone for work and if she was able to access SalesForce.com on it (the CRM program we use at my job). I end up getting an @reply from someone who saw my message and wanted to let me know that SalesForce now as a free lite version for the iPhone.

Posting mobile photos. Take a photo from your mobile phone and upload it to Twitpic. The subject line of the MMS will be your status update on Twitter with a link to the photo you just uploaded. Who could forget the US Airways crash in the Hudson? This photo was uploaded to Twitpic and Twitter in real time. This guy was in another plane crash and was Twittering his updates from the inside of the jet!

Here is some basic Twitter know how to help get you started.

  • @username + message
  • directs a twitter at another person, and causes your twitter to save in their "replies" tab.
    Example: @patrickkaine I love your blog!

  • D username + message
  • sends a person a private message that goes to their device, and saves in their web archive.
    Example: d patrickkaine want to pick me up some milk while you are at the there?

  • WHOIS username
  • retrieves the profile information for any public user on Twitter.
    Example: whois patrickkaine

  • GET username
  • retrieves the latest Twitter update posted by the person.
    Example: get patrickkaine

  • NUDGE username
  • reminds a friend to update by asking what they're doing on your behalf.
    Example: nudge patrickkaine

  • FAV username
  • marks a person's last twitter as a favorite. (hint: reply to any update with FAV to mark it as a favorite if you're receiving it in real time)
    Example: fav patrickkaine
  • STATS
  • this command returns your number of followers, how many people you're following, and which words you're tracking.

  • INVITE phone number
  • will send an SMS invite to a friend's mobile phone.
    Example: Invite 415 555 1212

Goose Throwdown

No fear goose!

Broken Bulb


Broken Bulb, originally uploaded by PhotobyTimLim├│n.

I have always wondered how shots (like this perfectly timed image) are taken with such accuracy.

Tim Limon uses a sound trigger for his flash. When the unit hears the sound (in this case - the bulb breaking) it fires the flash. All the while his camera is taking a 3 second exposure and magically captures the shot.

"These shots were taken with a 3 second exposure at f/3.5 in a dark room using a sound trigger flash built from these plans: hiviz.com/tools/triggers/triggers2.htm. The sensor was about 10 feet away from the site of impact."

Signs, Patrick Hughes

Watch this movie, it will make you feel great!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Google Voice

Ever wish you could just answer your home phone instead of your running to get your cell phone that's charging in the other room?

Ever wish you could screen a caller before deciding to take the call?

Ever wish you could record a conversation in order to remember directions or important information?

Ever wish you could read your voice mail instead of listening to it?

Ever need to leave the house and wish you could "transfer" the call to your cell?

Ever wanted to have unlimited calling from your cell, your home, and your office phone for free?

Ever wish you could send that telemarketer or annoying caller to voice mail automatically based on their caller ID?

OK, OK. I could go on and on - but if you answered "yes" to any or more of the above questions then Google Voice is going to be for you. It's currently in private beta and I'm lucky enough to have an account because I was a GrandCentral user (who was purchased by Google and became Google Voice this month).

How many phone numbers do you think you'll have over the next 10-15 years? If you consider home phone numbers, work phones, cell phones... they really add up. I once had the same cell phone number for almost 10 years and gave it up when my company offered a free Cell phone. Just last week someone told me they tried to call me on that number (who now belongs to some girl who sounds like she's in a rap video, but I digress).

ONE NUMBER FOR LIFE

The foundation of what Google Voice offers is this: Get one number, for life, and give it to everyone.

GET CONTACTED WHEN A WHERE YOU WANT TO

Enter your contacts by category such as business, family, and friends and tell Google Voice where these people can reach you. When your family calls your GV number, you can set it up to have your cell phone and home phone ring. When business contacts call, you can send them to voice mail if it's after 6PM or on the weekend, and have your cell phone and office phone ring during the work week. When you pick up one of the phones - the other stops ringing.

SCREEN ALL OF YOUR CALLS

Screening allows you to know who's calling. If your callers are in your Contacts list, Google Voice will read their names. New callers will be asked to say their names the first time they call.

RECORD A CALL

To record your call, simply press 4. You can do it when you first accept a call, or any time after it's started. Pressing 4 again (or hanging up) will stop it. Your recordings are saved online and you can access them just like you do with voice mail.

VOICE MAIL TRANSCRIPTION

Google will transcribe your messages and email them to you at any email address you provide. These voice mails them become search able via a key word in the future.

SWITCH PHONES DURING A CALL

To switch phones in the middle of an incoming call, just press * while you're talking, and your other phones will ring. Then, for example, you can pick up the call from your mobile phone (if you're about to head out), or from your desk.

MUCH MORE

These are only some of the awesome features of Google Voice. Go ahead and sign up here and get ready to be part of the future of telecommunications.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On portraits of friends and strangers [Guest Post]

Here is another post in a series of guest writers designed to improve the quality of this site.

Jeff Kirlin is a "A nosey, over-enthusiastic, curious, adventurous Photowhore...... Will whore for comments, photocredits, faint praise, loose change or what-have-you." kind of guy.

Lastly, he writes "Everything I call my own I stole from you."

You can find Jeff on Facebook, his blog, flickr, and Paddy Murphy's.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

People don't mind letting you take their photo if they think it's reasonable that someone would want to take their photo. For example I have a series called People at Work. People at Work do not mind you taking their photo. People at Play do not mind you taking their photo. People at home? People shopping and trying on clothes? People at rest? A little more reluctant.

Sneak a photo, ask permission, take a photo. You have 2 photos! Or at the very least, one. Yeah, you know what I'm saying.

People like how they look in Black and White and always so "Oooh!, Black and White!" as if it's new. So shoot it out of the camera so they can see it. You don't have a colored version. So what. They are right, They are uglier in color. When converting a color to Black and White, or if able to set a filter for your camera, choose red, the skin will glow bright white. Ummm..if you are photographing white people.

People think you are a better photographer if 'the background is blurry' and will like the photo better so shoot in as wide a f/stop as you can.

Never ever ever just take one photo. And try not to show them the ones when they are half blinking, or won't shut up and have oddly pursed lips.

Do not shoot strangers with super wide angle lenses, or fisheyes. You will give them Pinocchio noses. Save that for friends.

There is a direct correlation between a person's willingness to let you photograph them and how much more superior your camera is than theirs. If you have a little point and shoot that is less good than theirs, not so easy. A bag full of cameras bodies and lenses that you don't even know how to use, a little easier.

There is almost an INVERSE relationship between how well someone knows me and how likely they are to let me photograph them. Complete strangers with a decent explanation are FAR easier than close friends. Wankers.

I have an easier time photographing someone if I am using some oddball thing like my Lensbaby 3G which looks like a Lunar Lander on the front of the camera or my TtV device which looks like an upside down neoprene periscope because of the 'What is that thing?' factor.

Go and find the nastiest, most likely stranger to terribly abuse you for asking to take their photo because after that, they are ALL easier. (It's harder to find someone like that than you might expect, and USUALLY will come when you DON'T expect it.)

ALWAYS ALWAYS have an answer when a stranger asks why you want to take their photo. Lie if you must but don't pause. I also find having a business card with info on it helps. I've handed out hundreds. I've heard back less than 10 times. It's like a Get out of Jail Free card.

If you are at an event, credentials will cut down exponentially the amount of time you have to spend explaining what the hell you are doing.

After you take some nice looking photos of people and they get seen you won't BELIEVE the people who will seek you out to do some for them and why.

Let people present themselves as they like even if it's not what you want. Let them smile while looking at the camera or let them look off heroically into the distance. (like this shot he took when we had lunch together)

Me in Maine (photo by Jkirlin)

(And besides after you take that one, THEN you can ask them to do you evil bidding ) Whatever. They don't work for you. After all, you are stealing their souls.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Make your own font! [stuff I just like]


















According to Wikipedia, sloppy handwriting kills more than 7,000 people annually. Since I don't write prescriptions, I don't need to worry about that - but I do like to write correspondence and typing a letter is sometimes not personal enough.

I've tried hand writing letters, but I always seem to misspell something or want to move a sentence after I've finished it. Enter YourFonts.com, where for free, you can create a font out of your own handwriting and have the best of both worlds!

Just download their template, complete it, upload it, and you've got your own font.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

They're using YOUR information and selling it BACK to you. Hmmmm. [Guest Post]

















(This is the third post in a new series of guest writers.)

Tim Coleman is the author of Convert Offline and former sales manager and technology sales trainer at a well known national yellow page publisher.

Here is what Tim has to say about how "they" are using your information, but then selling it back to you :

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I did a search on Google for garage door repair in Orlando and the first organic result was not a garage door company in Orlando. Rather it was a directory, superpages.com.

Interestingly, if Google wanted to advertise in the Verizon Yellow Pages (superpages is owned by the same company as the Verizon yellow pages) under the garage door heading, they would not be allowed. I don't think that google would want to but that's hardly the point.

These directories seem to pop up quite a bit in the search results in all business categories; Did you ever wonder why? After all, Superpages is not located in Orlando and they don't fix garage doors.

They rank because they list company's that have words like Orlando and garage door repair in their names.

They do this... then they re-sell the traffic back to the small businesses, whose information allowed them to rank and get the traffic to begin with... interesting business model, eh?

What if small business owners refused to allow other websites to publish their listing information?

What if every business owner united and called the phone company today and non-pubbed (de-listed) their address and telephone number? An awful lot of Directories would go right out of business including the yellow pages print editions.

Depending on who you asked, it could be as much $100 Billion in Local Ad Revenue gone-overnight. And of course, $100 Billion in expenses saved by the local businesses.

It gets even better, the result of doing this is that their websites would then rank in Google searches instead of these directories. They would then get a lot of very high quality traffic for free instead of paying for it as they are now. I bet if you own a small business and you just read this it made you sick... sorry.

Unite brother... Unite.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Contxts texts your contact info

Now, here is an idea I am absolutely in LOVE WITH. As a mobile sales professional, I am often on the road and it seems that most of my clients are doing business from the road as well.

Being mobile and effectively sharing contact information via a business card or a brochure is likely to get lost or misplaced when you need it, but everyone's got their cell phones with them all the time, right?

In order to get my contact info sent directly as a text message, you simply need to text Contxts by texting the person's user name to 50500. To get mine to text:

SPK
to
50500

You will receive a reply in seconds with all my contact info and you can then enter me as a contact in your cell or just keep the text to call/email/fax me later.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Moon-set Sunrise


Moon-set Sunrise
Originally uploaded by BY-YOUR-⌘
This is so cool.

"With the help of the non-destructive, aftermarket firmware, CHDK, installed on my camera, I set the tripod up, and set the camera to fire off as many frames as it could, until it filled the SD card memory.

I did not know where the moon would eventually set, nor did I know if the sun would rise too soon, and thus wash everything out, as I could not reset the shutter speed, nor change any other settings once I set the program in motion.

It was pure, once in a 'blue moon' kind of luck.

ISO 50, shutter speed 1/60th of a second, +2 EV bias, and other info can be seen in the two stills, from this video, that I uploaded previously."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Flight 1549 Computer Generated Flight. Wow.

Computer animation of the entire flight path of US Airways 1549, overlayed with air traffic control audio. The whole thing takes only about 2 minutes. Really gives you a sense of how little time there was to react.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Andrew M Kish III

Becky and I visited Andrew at Bethlehem's famous Banana Factory Friday. Below is a small sampling of just how talented Andrew is.

Visiting Andrew Kish

Visiting Andrew Kish

Visiting Andrew Kish


Andrew M. Kish III
484-225-7958
art@andrewmkish.com
www.andrewmkish.com

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Your opinion needed

We've got an interesting problem on our hands. This conundrum represents a significant part of our current economic state. What is the answer? I'd really like to know your opinion.

Facts:

- A homeowner buys his dream house for $600,000 and puts down $300,000 and mortgages the other half with an interest only loan.
- Real estate bubble bursts.
-House now worth $270,000.
-Due to negative amortization, now owes $350,000
-Guy wants to walk away.

Is he right? Should he walk away?

Is the bank right? Should they expect him to honor his contract?

Lets take both sides.

Guy:

-His interest only mortgage is ending and he will owe principal plus interest in a few months
-He's not late on his payments, so the mortage company will not re-finance
-He could buy his exact house down the street for $270,000
-It's not his fault the real estate market crashed
-If he leaves, he leaves $300,000 in cash at the house
-If he stays, he pays $350,000 more

Bank:

-Valuated the house at $600,000 before lending
-Loaned $300,000 to qualified buyer with an asset worth twice that
-Is making a good profit off the interest only mortgage right now
-It's not their fault the real estate market crashed
-If nothing changes, they stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars
-If buyer walks away, they own a home worth $270,000 which means they're down $30,000

What's the right thing to do? I'd really like to hear your opinion.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Finding ways to save money at the grocery store [Guest Post]

(This is the second post in a new series of guest writers.)

Becky Kaine is the mother of my two children, my wife, my best friend, and the most amazing person you could ever meet.

We've been working together to manage our finances through this "new economy" and since groceries make up a large portion of "controllable expenses" - we made a budget and Beck made a commitment. We exclusively use the FREE Mint.com to track our expenses and budgets, check it out if you haven't already.

Here is what she has to say about all this:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ll admit that I’m not necessarily the best saver. I really like the THOUGHT of saving…..but I really like the feeling of spending! This is why I’ve been put on a grocery budget. It’s this whole debacle of the economy that has our family – like countless others – abuzz with assessing our money habits – specifically where it is going each month. I’ve learned some very interesting things about my habits over the past three months. These revelations will not be new to many of you who were responsible with your purchases in the first place. But maybe a few ideas here might help your household, too.

First, I had to take an honest look at how and why I shop. I mean clearly, I’m going there to get food. But why am I getting the food that’s going into my cart? I am a visual shopper – easily persuaded by fancy displays and signs that tout “Special Savings!” My cart was filling up with expensive specialty items and bulk purchases that didn’t save me anything at all. I needed to arm myself with a plan if I was going to maintain my new budget. And here is the plan:

Shop once a week.
Yes. I was overwhelmed at the thought – but it has actually reduced my stress level tremendously. I have two daughters (3 and 5) and for each of you that have ever shopped with children – the grocery store is one of the last places you want to be with them. I can handle once a week. Of course this means you will need to….

Plan ahead.
I take a little time each week – a day or two before shopping – to decide what the family will eat the following week. I love to cook and bake – so I try a few new recipes and then round it out with old standbys. There’s a balance in the menu. Some dishes are a little “fancy” and require extra time to prep and cook. Of course, like most families, our days are filled with obligations like school, gymnastics, Girl Scouts, etc. I need to be flexible and have those quick go-to meals on hand, too. In addition, the tastes of our girls are not the same as mine or my husband’s and one daughter has food allergies. But don’t let the circumstances of your family steer you away from the simple act of planning ahead. And because you know when you’ll shop next it’s manageable. But you’ll need a…….

Shopping List.
This list has everything I’ll need for meals the next week (obviously) in addition to anything we ran out of. And here is where I really benefit from shopping once a week. My (bad) habit was to go buy something that I was running low on. I would stick it in a storage cabinet until I needed it. Two weeks later I would run out of the original product and (forgetting I already bought a replacement) buy more. Now when something runs low….I ask myself…..will it last another week or do I need to buy it now? That helps me decide if it needs to be written down on the list. It took me a couple of weeks to decide “how much” I needed for certain staples (like milk) to last a whole week. Also, I focused on using up fresh and “faster-going” fruits and vegetables soon after my purchase and then using frozen or heartier ones later in the week. But you have to stick to the list to make your plan work. Of course to really get your money’s worth out of your groceries you’ll want to….

Reduce. Re-use. Recycle.
Sort of. Become a fan of leftovers…..discover artful ways of “recycling” your meals into new creations the next day. Or at the very least….start freezing!! This has become a whole new world for me. Sounds silly almost….but I would usually eat leftovers for a day or two…..then let them mold over….forced to toss them in the garbage. Now I freeze leftover portions of soups, muffins, cookies, etc. right away. They make great meals and treats later on. Which brings me to my “safety net” of sorts. Once a week we have a “cleanup” meal. Basically whatever you can find to eat – that’s your meal. Simple classics like pb&j. Frozen meals. Breakfast for dinner. Essentially it’s a back-up plan for a night that didn’t go the way you thought it would – but it makes the most of the food you’ve already purchased. It doesn’t mean an unhealthy meal….just one that uses up what you have.

So there you have it. My plan for keeping to a grocery budget. Nothing earth shattering. Just common sense. Some days I feel frugal. Mostly I feel responsible and empowered. My husband loves that our grocery bills have been cut by almost 50%. I wonder what budget he has lined up for me next???

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mortgage Refinance: Do the math, it's not always obvious

I'm a numbers guy, and I love math. Despite this, I almost made a huge mistake on my mortgage refinance.

Let me explain: I had a 30 year fixed mortgage at 5.75% and had been watching the rates drop. I decided to re-fi when they hit 4.75% fixed for 30 years, no points. This one point spread is the "rule of thumb" for refinancing a mortgage. When you are saving one point, it usually makes sense to re-fi. I had the paperwork drawn up and was ready to sign it when I decided to "do the math" first.

I visited my favorite mortgage site, and opened excel. What followed was a quarter-hour of work that netted me $6,348 a minute in pure profit. Yes, by doing some math I saved us $95,000 of real cash.

What was blinding me was the new mortgage payment with the 4.75% rate - it was $300 less than my current payment per month!! No brainer, I thought. Not so fast. Over the last 5 years, I paid down a bunch of principal so the new loan wasn't apples to apples. When I looked at interest over the life of the loans, here is what I found:

-$69,601 of interest already paid.

-$165,225 to be paid if I just kept my current loan.

-$168,125 to be paid if I refinanced to a whole point lower. That's a loss of $2,900 (plus closing costs).

How can this be? A point saved, and paying more? The simple answer is that I just made my mortgage a 35 year mortgage.

The loan I ultimately chose (and closed on today) was 4.375% over 15 years (also with no points). The new interest will be $69,996 over the next 15 years - a difference of $95,228.

Thanks Dan!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Deep Fried Pizza at Pizza Snobz in Easton

April 22, 2009 Update:

Pizza Snobz moved
308 Old Mill Rd
Forks Twp PA 18040
610-438-5550
Free Delivery!

You can follow him on Twitter too.


Who knew that people would come from Doylestown and Philadelphia just to eat David Barker's deep fried pizza?

David is a client of mine, and a really great guy - check out the story and video that appeared in the Morning Call.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Do you use an RSS reader? [My 1,000 post!]

If you just said: What the hell is that? Then, this article's for you.

In plain English an RSS reader is your inbox to the web. When you want to see if you have new email - do you call each of your friends up and say "Do you have anything to tell me?". Of course you don't, you just check your email to see if there are any new messages, right?

The same goes for the web. When you want to see what's new on CNN or what articles are posted on ESPN, you don't need to go there and check. Your RSS reader will gather up all the new articles and place them in your RSS reader (your inbox to the web). This video from google will help:



See that orange logo up there /\? That's a universal logo for an RSS feed. When you see that logo, you can click it and add it to your RSS reader. I currently subscribe to 132 feeds and read an average of 600 posts per day. (Now you know a little secret about how manage "I read the entire internet so you don't have to.®")

I use Google Reader, but you can check out this list from LifeHacker and choose the best one for you.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Coordinate & Share Calendars with Google Calendar

I can't tell you how many times I've called Becky to find out what time I need to be home tonight or to ask what's going on this weekend?

Here is how we communicate our schedules:

- I started to use Google Calendar and shared it with Becky by selecting: Settings > Calendars > Sharing
- I installed Google Calendar Sync on my work machine and selected 2 way synchronization through Outlook.

Here are the benefits: Whenever Becky or I add en event, we can see it in near-real time on the Google Calendar. No more double-booking a weekend or coming home late with the girls have somewhere to be.

Don't use Outlook or don't need to sync with just one person? A Google Calendar can be shared publicly and published so your group/customers can have immediate access to all events.

Do you have a different solution for sharing your information? Then give me some comment love!