20 December, 2010

How to Create an Outlook Forward Rule

Note: These steps were written using Outlook 2003. Though most if not all versions should support this functionality, it may take slightly different steps in different versions.

These steps will describe how to forward an email that contains a specific Subject, e.g. “the subject,” from a specific email address, e.g. "foo@foo.com," to another Outlook user, e.g. "Outlook User."

1. Within Outlook go to Tools >> Rules and Alerts…
2. Click New Rule… This will start the Rules Wizard
3. Select the “Start from a blank rule” option
4. Select “Check messages when they arrive”
5. Click Next
6. Select the two check boxes “from people or distribution list” and “with specific words in the subject.” This puts both phrases in the lower “Step 2” text box.
7. Click on the “people or distribution list” text in the lower box. This will open a new Rule Address dialog box, similar to the standard Address Book dialog box.8. In the From - > field (at the bottom of the dialog box) enter the email address "foo@foo.com" -- this is the address the email will come from. Note: ypu do not have to search for an address from your address book.
You can add multiple addresses manually, separating each with a semi-colon ( ; ). Likewise you can use the Address Book features and find email addresses to exclude.
9. Click OK. Notice how “people or distribution list” was replaced with "foo@foo.com".
10. Now, click on the “specific words” text in the lower box. This will open a new dialog box titled: Search Text.
11. Enter “the subject” in the first line and click Add. When you click Add, the text will be moved into the lower Search list box.
12. Click OK. Notice how the “specific words” text was replaced with “the subject.”13. Click Next. Notice how the upper section of the Rules Wizard has changed.
14. Click the check box next to “forward it to people or distribution list.” This adds the phrase to the end of the text in the lower section of the Rules Wizard.
15. In the lower section, click on “people or distribution list.” This once again launches the Rule Address dialog box.
16. Find "Outlook User" in the list, and double-click on his name. This will add "Outlook User" to the “Specify whom to forward messages to:” (To - >) section of the dialog box.
17. Click OK. Notice how the “people or distribution list” text was replaced with “Outlook User.”
18. Click Next. The upper section changes once again, allowing you to add any exceptions to the rule just created.
19. Do not add any exceptions, click Next, again. Again the upper portion of the Rules Wizard has changed.
20. Go to the first text box, “Step 1: Specify a name for this rule” and give it a meaningful name, such as “Forward all foo foo emails to Outlook User.”
21. Check the check box next to “Run this rule now on messages already in the ‘Inbox’.” Once finished, this will immediately check for any emails in your inbox that match the defined criteria.22. Click Finish.
This runs the new rule and returns us to the Rules and Alerts dialog box.
23. Click OK. This completes our rule definition.


Here is how you can disable this new rule.
1. Within Outlook go to Tools >> Rules and Alerts…
2. Uncheck the checkbox next to the Rule titled “Forward all foo foo emails to Outlook User.”
3. Click OK.

09 December, 2010

Displaying special characters in your HTML and JavaScript

Occasionally I have the need to display umlauts or other non-standard Latin and Kanji characters in my HTML, JavaScript, and as a URL parameter. Each form have their own rules for encoding the characters to display correctly.
  • HTML: Use the HTML name or HTML number. For example & and " for ampersand and quote, respectively.
  • JavaScript: Use the Unicode equivalent. For example \u00E4 and \u00FC to add an umlaut over an 'a' or 'u', respectively.
  • URL Parameter: Use HEX codes. For example, %20 and %2F for a space and forward slash, respectively.
Here's a great reference from ascii.cl for the necessary codes.

08 December, 2010

Office Ribbon Frustrations: Repeat Rows and/or Columns When Printing in Excel

Excel can be rather confusing. If you try a Print Preview, and then Page Setup, you are unable to set either "Rows to repeat at top" or "Columns to repeat at left". Yet you can set other Page Setup items from this dialog box.

To set your row(s) and/or column(s), you need to select Print Titles from the Page Layout ribbon. This will bring up the same dialog box, but now you can choose the row(s) and/or column(s).

04 December, 2010

Wavee -- not worth the money

Dec 17, 2010: I finally received the email to claim my gift card -- it took 7 emails to Wavee in all before this occurred. On the 7th email, a representative who had not previously responded provided all the necessary information. This was the service I expected with my first email. As far as the gift card itself, many are electronic only. I did order one that had to be mailed -- I'm still waiting for it to arrive.

Some of you may be familiar with a new service, Wavee. You bid on items of interest, $0.01 at a time. The highest bidder wins, and gets to purchase the product for the bid price. Sounds good? Well, each bid you make costs $0.75. But consider, an item that sells for $300 took in $22,500 (30000 * $0.75) -- there's 30,000 bids at $0.75 each on an item that sells for $300.

So while you spend your money to be the single winner, Wavee's raking in the dough.

You can also buy items that are up for auction. In some cases, they offer a discount based on the money already spent on your bids. I made 4 bids, $3.00, on a $25 gift card. I was offered the card for $22. Why not? I thought I'd test the service, so I bought it.

Once my credit card was charged, I was notified that I would received an email to select my gift card. It's now 8 days and several emails later, and I have still not received the "golden" email so I can get the gift card.

Since the initial registration, with 100 bids, is $75.00, I'm out nearly $100 and have nothing to show for it -- I do have 42 bid credits left. Based on my experience, I recommend you wave goodbye to Wavee.

05 October, 2010

Thunderbird links wont open browser tab

My Thunderbird email client quit opening up links when I clicked them, regardless if they were in an email or from an RSS feed. Turns out the issue was with my web browser. I switched from Firefox as my default to Internet Explorer and it worked again. I then reset my default to Firefox, restarted Firefox, and it responded again, too.

No available system font when editing a PDF

I recently had to make a minor edit to an old PDF that I no longer had the source for. For large edits, there are PDF to DOC converters, but for minor edits I just use Acrobat. With this particular file I got an unexpected error message.
All or part of the selection has no available system font. You cannot add or delete text using the currently selected font.
Through a little searching I discovered that by selecting and then right-clicking the text, and entering the Properties dialog, I could change the font being used. In this particular case though, there were no system fonts embedded in the document and the only choices were from the original computer that created it -- a Mac. Since I was using Windows, this failed too.

Fortunately for me I have Adobe Illustrator. With Adobe Illustrator you can open individual pages of a PDF and using the text tool you can make changes.

If you don't have Acrobat or Illustrator and need to edit a PDF, PDFEscape -- a browser-based applet -- will let you "whiteout" existing text and insert new text. Not quite the same, but a good solution for free.

LastPass vs. RoboForm Password Managers

Updated Feb 18, 2011: I've received a few comments from people about the cost to upgrade from RoboForm version 6 to version 7. The issue is that apparently their original purchase was for a lifetime of upgrades. The RoboForm website indicated that any version 6 purchases made after Sep 1, 2010 are eligible for free upgrades to version 7. I don't have my original purchase receipt, so I can't verify the legitimacy of the claim myself. That being said, I cannot imagine a company surviving by charging a 1-time fee of $30. Regardless, the RoboForm product is one of the few products I would pay for again over using any of the current open source solutions available. (BTW: I'm still using version 6, as I have not ran into a situation that requires me to move to version 7.)

I've been a user of RoboForm for nearly 4 years, and its allowed me to have secure and unique passwords for all my websites, while only requiring me to remember one. In January 2007, I wrote a post on how easy it is to use RoboForm, and how much simpler it has made it to manage passwords.

As with any tool, we find their short-comings or flaws, so when something new comes along we try it to see if it works better. I installed LastPass last week, and disabled RoboForm, to see if LastPass could better meet my needs.

Let me give you a comparison of these two products, as they are quite similar in most cases. LastPass and RoboForm both work as a toolbars for Firefox, IE, and Chrome web browsers on Windows, while LastPass also works in Safari and on OS X/Macs and Linux. Both products also offer applets for popular Smart Phones. (While I didn't test LastPass on Safari or Chrome, nor on OS X/Macs and Linux, RoboForm is still new to Chrome and seems a bit buggy.)

They both have automatic form filling (by allowing you to store common used data) and secure notes features. RoboForm and LastPass also provide secure password generators. Both tools also let you organize your passwords through placing them in folders you define. While you'll pay $30 for RoboForm, LastPass is free, which is attractive for new users. RoboForm also charges $10 for each additional license, where again LastPass is free.

So we see both products' features are very similar, their implementations are quite different. For example, while RoboForm stores your passwords in individual encrypted files on your hard drive, LastPass stores all your passwords on their servers. Due to LastPass storing your password files on their computers, you can easily access all of them from any web browser. With RoboForm, you can either copy the individual files to another computer, or you can use their sync function. The sync function is GoodSync product specifically locked down to only work with RoboForm data.

Assuming that both products are secure (which I do), and they both work on your platform, then the most important criteria is usability. Does the product get in the way or enhance your productivity? (I realize I may be somewhat bias'd due to how long I've used RoboForm.)
  • Login to access passwords. The first time you try to access RoboForm, it prompts for your passwords before completing the command. With LastPass, you must click on the login button on the toolbar. If you're not online, you cannot access LastPass passwords.
    Advantage: RoboForm.
  • Password Organization. Because RoboForm is an installed application on your computer, you can drag-and-drop the password files to move them among folders. With LastPass you login to the LastPass site and open each password individually to change its storage location.
    Advantage: RoboForm.
  • Recognizing Password Forms. Both products are designed to work with standard forms and server dialog prompts. I had one instance where LastPass didn't recognize the form to capture/save or fill-out it out. This failure will keep me from adopting it, as I use the website nearly every day. This particular login form was embedded into the page with an iFrame -- RoboForm worked fine. Without this failure, I would likely rate their functionality as tied.
    Advantage: RoboForm.
  • Saving New Passwords. Whenever you login to a new website, RoboForm will prompt you to save the data for future use. If you don't want to save it, you need to click Cancel. LastPass adds a strip below the browser tabs with the ability to save the new data. It also offers the ability to never prompt you again for a given website.
    Advantage: LastPass.
  • Access/Use Passwords.
    • Open a new site and login. I use this function more than any other -- these are my bookmarks. (I bookmark very few other websites except those that require a login.) The default behavior for each product seem to work as advertised, though each are different. When selecting a RoboForm password from the toolbar, it opens and logs you in within the current browser tab. LastPass will open a new tab. I tried changing the default behavior with each (to work like the other), and neither worked as I expected.
      Advantage: Tie.
    • Login to a webpage you open. LastPass will pre-populate the login screen and you just need to click the login button. If there are multiple login credentials that can be used (for example if you have 2 Gmail accounts), a strip appears below the tabs with a button to select a different login. RoboForm does not pre-populate any form it recognizes, but the login button on the toolbar will allow you to select from multiple logins when needed. When selected, RoboForm will complete the form and submit.
      Advantage: Tie (they both require at least one button click).
    • UI. Both toolbars are very similar, though their behavior for long lists are different. If the list of passwords for LastPass exceeds the height of the screen, you must click the up or down arrow to scroll to a password. Roboform starts a new column, eliminating the need to scroll.
      Advantage: RoboForm.
  • Password Sync. This is the feature that got me to look at LastPass. The fact that all the LastPass passwords are stored on their central server means there's no syncing. No matter where you access LastPass, you will always have the same passwords. While the GoodSync product is quite good, the fact that you have to manage passwords across computers makes it inferior.
    Advantage: LastPass.
  • Access Anywhere. As stated previously, because of the central storage of passwords on the LastPass servers, you can access your passwords anywhere -- even without installing the toolbar. RoboForm requires an install, which last time also required a reboot, then followed by having to sync your passwords to the new computer. Your sync password by default is not the same as your login password, so therefore you also need to remember a second password. Additionally, you also need to have an available license to install RoboForm on a new computer.
    Advantage: LastPass.
If you're still with me, you can see each product has its strengths and weaknesses. As I stated previously, due to the fact that LastPass does not recognize the login form for a site I frequent (a business app), I will not switch away from RoboForm. If it weren't for that, I'd probably still be using LastPass to see if I can adapt to the differences and reap the benefit of having access to my passwords anywhere.

01 October, 2010

Your Writing Style Impacts Your Users Ability to Find What You Wrote

In my last post, "Our search sucks! Why can't it work just like Google?", I told you to also consider your content when improving your search. Poor titles and multiple articles on a single subject will impact success. I want to expand on content a bit more.

First, consider the search results again. If your search engine displays the first part of the content underneath the title, is the information helpful?

Next, when the user does click-through on a search result, can they quickly reassure themselves that the content presented is what they're looking for?

I believe if you follow the advice of Tim Ash in his article "Fix Your Writing or Suffer Lower Conversion Rates," you will be able to satisfy these two issues in regards to your content. Whether you're trying to convert a user to buy your product or you're trying to help a customer fix his problem with your product, the principles still apply.

Tim begins, "The vast majority of Internet users do not read a Web page word by word. They scan it and focus on individual words, phrases, or sentences." (Just like they scan your search results.) With this in mind, your writing needs to take this into consideration, which Tim covers for us. He breaks it down into 3 areas: Structure, Tone, and Format.

You should read "Fix Your Writing or Suffer Lower Conversion Rates," to get all the details, but here are a few highlights:
  • "The preferred structure for most Web writing is the inverted pyramid. It uses the principle of primacy (ordering) to control saliency (importance)." Sounds like you're writing a newspaper column, and your Editor may be chopping the end to make it fit in the allotted space.
  • "Get to the point and let them decide if your content is relevant enough for them to stick around."
  • "Save your visitors the aggravation and only tell them what they want to hear."
  • "Be careful about your exact choice of words. ... Do not use puns, metaphors, or colloquial expressions."
  • "Use clear, emphasized titles for page headings and important subheads. "
Tim Ash has put together a great guideline for your writing, be sure to read his enter post. And next time you write content for your website, consider the steps your intended audience will take to find what you've written -- and apply that to how you write the content.

29 September, 2010

Our search sucks! Why can't it work just like Google?

"Why can't I find what I'm looking for on my own companies website? I know the document/content is there -- I wrote it. When I use Google I don't have troubles finding what I'm searching for. Why can't we have Google for our website?" (This is a topic I would not typically post on this blog, but it's an often misunderstood issue that is raised frequently within companies -- an issue I've had to address many times.)

The short answer, whether searching your companies (public) website or intranet (website), is that your company websites are not like the Internet and therefore the same technology that Google has developed for you to search the Internet will not work for your company. "But Google sells a search appliance for the Enterprise -- why can't I just use that?"

Well, you can use Google's Search Appliance, and it may even be better than your current solution, but it wont live up to using Google to search the Internet. I have even suggested more than once that companies tell their employees that their search engine is Google -- even label it, "Powered by Google." (Of course it better really be from Google if you put it on your public website.)

I read a very good two-part article from Jeff Carr of CMS Wire today, "Enterprise Search and Pursuit of the Google Experience," (part 2) that addresses this same issue I've just presented. Part 1 addresses how the Internet is structured and how Google uses it to build their search index. It includes a great video from Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer at Google, explaining how Google works (go read Jeff's article to get access to the video). Part 1 also includes how users search, the problems it causes for search engines, and taking ownership of those problems (i.e. they're your problems, not the users').

Part 2 of "Enterprise Search and Pursuit of the Google Experience" suggests an alternate perspective of the issue -- "how can we make our search experience more like Google?" And as I've shared with my colleagues and Jeff explains, it can become much better if you're willing to invest the resources. Included in part 2 of his article are 6 steps on how your organization can improve search.

Before you go down the path suggested in part 2, I would highly recommend you begin with a different approach, starting with an education process. (I do recognize that this is not likely something you can do for visitors and customers coming to your website, though you can provide a link for search help and make sure your support people are educated.) Begin with admitting it's not Google, but continue with the explanation on how Google is able to perform so well and how your company websites are not the same as the Internet. Don't present it as an excuse, but rather why it's more difficult to achieve a Google like experience.

Now that your users understand there's a difference, and that you are working to make it better, educate them on how their own search techniques can greatly impact the results. Show them examples such as what Jeff covered -- of course using your own search engine and content.

Finally, you also need to include in this education process for all your content contributors how what they write can influence the ability to find the right content when searching. Here are two examples on how the content can impact the search experience:
  1. If several content items on your website address the same or similar subjects, it will create confusion for the user when they're trying to determine which one to read when they show up together in search results.
  2. Poorly written titles will cause users to miss the correct content that was actually returned by the search engine. Users are going to scan the list of results, and if the first 3 - 5 words don't grab their attention, they're not even going to read the rest of the title. If the next 3 - 5 words don't solidify that subject, then you've likely lost them as they continue to scan the results.
Now you have your education foundation in place, you can have discussions on how much time and money is your organization willing to invest to make your results even better. Do you invest in the top-down strategic approach presented by Jeff in part 2 or are there simpler, less costly things that might make it work well enough? For example, you may just require a governance program around content writing and posting coupled with an education program for new employees. Or perhaps adding meta tagging capabilities for content being posted coupled with surfacing the tags on the search interface and results, so users can use them to help them narrow down the result set.

I have one final piece to consider as part of your search experience improvement -- how well can users navigate your website? Many, many users of your website will navigate to the content they're interested in if they can "follow the scent" to access it. Those users only resort to searching when they've lost the scent. Better navigation and design of your website could lead to a reduction in users being frustrated by your search.

How's your companies search working for your users? Please share your input.

28 September, 2010

Analyze your computer and reveal software keys

I've been using Belarc Advisor, a free personal tool for analyzing your Windows computer, for some time now. It will provide a detailed analysis of several items:
  • Installed hardware
  • Installed software and version number
  • Windows Updates, and indicate if any are missing
  • Checks for virus protection and last scan
  • Software keys
  • Software usage (frequency)
  • User accounts and last login
What I like best is that it reports the software keys of my installed software. While it doesn't appear to grab all software keys on my personal computer, it lists all of them from my work computer including Microsoft, Adobe, Corel and TechSmith.

I recently used it before rebuilding my Dad's computer. In addition to being certain to have his software license keys, I was able to also view what programs he hadn't used in sometime -- therefore I didn't reinstall them.

Considering adding more RAM to your PC? Instead of taking the cover off to do a visual inspection, use Belarc Advisor to identify how much RAM you currently have installed and what SIMM slots are used/free.

Checkout Belarc Advisor yourself and keep it in your toolkit for those times when you're doing maintenance on your machine or a friend or family members' computer.

10 August, 2010

McAfee On Access-Scan Disabled

I noticed this morning that my McAfee On Access-Scan was disabled. (The shield in the system tray had a red-crossed circle.) When I opened McAfee, it was performing a scan, so it wasn't clear what was occurring. After some research, I found that the settings may have become corrupt. Here's the steps to correct:
  1. Go to VirusScan Console >> Help >> Repair Installation.
  2. Check the fist check-box to reset to the default settings.
  3. Click OK.
This should do the trick.

30 July, 2010

USB Headset on Windows 7

I found when I plugged my USB headset (Plantronics DSP 400) into Windows 7, it didn't work. I went through the normal stuff, trying a different port, making sure it wasn't on mute, etc. I finally determined that you need to tell Windows 7 that the headset is your default device before it will work. The good news is that you only have to do it once. Upon removal, it returns back to the external speakers, and upon reinsertion, the USB headset worked again.

To make the changes, the default configuration of the Control Panel makes it nearly impossible to make the settings change. Here are the steps:
  1. Plug-in the USB headset.
  2. Go to Control Panel.
  3. Likely you will see 8 categories, and if you click "Hardware and Sound" you wont find anything to help you.
  4. In the upper-right area of the Control Panel, it says: "Viewed by: Category". Change Category to Small- or Large icons.
  5. This now presented many Control Panel options.
  6. Click on "Sound".
  7. A window should open into the Playback tab. Speakers likely has a green check mark, while the Headset may have a green phone.
  8. Select (click) the Headset.
  9. Click the "Set Default" button.
  10. Click the Recording tab.
  11. Again, select the Headset and click "Set Default".
  12. Click OK.
  13. Close the Control Panel window.
Remember, this should be a one-time thing. Upon disconnecting your headset, Windows 7 should revert to the speakers as the default. Likewise when you re-insert the headset, they should become the default audio device again.

23 June, 2010

Useful Windows Utilities

I ran across a few useful, free Windows utilities today, all from Mike Lin. Though he created these years ago, I found them still helpful.
  • Startup Control Panel: This tool installs in your Windows Control Panel and allows you to disable programs that are configured to start on Startup. In October 2006
    in my XP Memory Problems and Startup Applications post I wrote about a similar program, Startup Inspector, which I've continued to use. I like Startup Control Panel a little more, but they both should work for you.
  • StartUpMonitor: The purpose of StartUpMonitor is to monitor programs on install and notify you before they add a new Startup program. While I haven't used it yet, I like this idea as I can catch these before they get into my system instead of having to use Startup Control Panel or Startup Inspector after the fact.
  • Clipomatic: Clipomatic will keep a "clipboard" of your copy/cut text, so you can access and reuse items clipped long after you've made new clips. Instead of ctrl-v for paste, use ctrl-alt-v and you get a list of clips to paste. This reminds me of an old program I used to use, Clipmate, which I had only stopped using when they didn't have a new version for Windows XP. On recent check, it looks like Clipmate is still going, with a recent release on a Windows 7 version.
  • PathCopyEx: This will add a command to your right-clicks to allow you to copy the path of an Explored folder.
So far I've only used these on Windows XP. Mike has a few other utilities as well. Checkout his website, www.mlin.net, and see what utilities might help make your computing tasks a little simpler.

21 June, 2010

Mapping HTML files to run Classic ASP on IIS7

I found that IIS 7 on Windows 2008 Server to be much different from prior versions of IIS. The first hurdle was to realize that Classic ASP isn't installed by default. In searching board posts to solve my issue, I found countless posts with directions to install Classic ASP.

So getting this far, I was unable to process my HTML files that had embedded Classic ASP code, In prior versions of IIS, you could just add *.html to the previous defined *.asp listing. With IIS 7 though, this created problems with the .asp pages, and did not solve the issue either. The trick is to make a new entry in the HandlerMappings specifically for *.html.
  • Request path: *.html
  • Executable: %windir%\system32\inetsrv\asp.dll
  • Name: anything meaningful to you
  • Mapping: File
  • Verbs: GET,HEAD,POST
  • Access: Script
Once you've completed this...
  • Go to %windir%\system32\inetsrv\config\applicationHost.config file
  • Find the new entry (search on the name you set in the HandlerMapping)
  • Remove the preCondition portion of the line
  • Restart the webserver
For me, this solved the problem.

Here's a bonus tip for configuring IIS 7.
When I went to my hostname (URL) without a file, it didn't display my Default Document (index.html). I had to change the StaticFile Mapping from "File" to "File or folder" to get it to work.

02 June, 2010

Office Ribbon Frustrations: Working with Pictures

Here's another frustration in learning Microsoft Office's new ribbon interface. I wanted to compress my PowerPoint images -- something I've always done to reduce the file size of my PowerPoint. I searched and searched for some indication of how I might do this.

I finally discovered that I must select an image, and magically a new menu appears. The words "Picture Tools" appears in the Title Bar, and below it is a Format menu. Upon clicking Format, I revealed several options for manipulating the image, including "Compress Pictures".

The Microsoft website covers file compression and other picture manipulation functions.

18 May, 2010

Sync Your Outlook Contacts and Calendar to Your Droid

As nice of a phone as the Droid is, its Outlook integration is not yet up to what you can accomplish with the iPhone. Previously I blogged about how to get your Outlook email onto your Droid, as the instructions that come with the Droid are not clear. The rest of this post will tell you how to sync your Calendar (events) and Contacts between your Droid and Outlook.

It takes three things to make this work.
  1. Compatible version of Outlook: Outlook 2003 or 2007 on Win XP (32-bit only) and Vista.
  2. Gmail account: You should already have this, since it's required for the Droid.
  3. Google Calendar Sync application: The Google Calendar Sync program will sync your calendar and contacts between your Outlook account and your Gmail account -- your Droid can interact with your Gmail account. Download this from Google onto your computer that's running Outlook.
Once you've downloaded the Google Calendar Sync program, install it. Just a few simple steps, and you'll have your Contacts and Calendar on you Droid.
  1. Accept the Terms of Service.
  2. Enter your Gmail account credentials (username and password)
  3. Select the sync option you want.
    • 2-way: Sync from Outlook to Google/Gmail and Google/Gmail to Outlook.
    • 1-way: Sync from Outlook to Google/Gmail.
    • 1-way: Sync from Google/Gmail to Outlook.
  4. Select the sync frequency: minimum time frame is 10 minutes.
That's all there is too it. Now any time your computer is running (and the sync program is running), the the accounts will sync based on the setting choice.

Notes and Tips.
  1. Google Calendar Sync should start every time you start your computer -- running in your Taskbar. If not, put an application shortcut in your Startup folder.
  2. Only pop-up reminders will be synced. Google/Gmail Calendar SMS and email reminders will not sync.
  3. Only your primary Google/Gmail Calendar and default Outlook Calendar will sync.
  4. All Calendar events are synced. There is no way to configure a specific time-frame.
Still want more information? http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?answer=98563 has information posted by Google.

14 May, 2010

Office Ribbon Frustrations: Use the Quick Access Toolbar

I continue to find new and frustrating things when using Excel 2007. For example, in most spreadsheets I want to freeze the top row and sometimes columns. To do this, I need to remember that I first need to go to the View Ribbon. If I want to use a Macro, it's not on the Insert or Data Ribbon, as I expected, but it is also on the View Ribbon. For Print Preview, you need to go to the Office Button and select the Print arrow. Needless to say, some of the most common tasks I perform are now hidden and/or further clicks away.

One way to make some of these tasks easier is to use the new Quick Access Toolbar. The Quick Access Toolbar is the toolbar just right of the Office Button, above the Ribbons. By clicking the drop-down arrow to the right of the toolbar, you can customize the toolbar with your favorite shortcuts.
Here's how to customize the Quick Access Toolbar.
  1. Click the drop-down arrow to the right of the Quick Access Toolbar
  2. Click on "More Commands...". This should open the Options dialog, with the Customize window open (see the left menu to change the open window).
  3. In the window, the left column displays possible short-cuts, while the right column displays your current shortcuts. Select from the drop-down above the left column to get a list of Popular Commands, Commands Not in the Ribbon, All Commands, Macros, or by various Ribbon Tabs and sub-Tabs.
  4. Once you find the short-cut you want to add to the Quick Access Toolbar, click it to select it.
  5. Now click the "Add>>" button that is between the two columns.
  6. Select others and click "Add >>" again to add more to the Quick Access Toolbar.
  7. In the right column, by selecting a short-cut, you can then remove it or change its order.
  8. When completed, click "OK"
This same process should also work for you in Word 2007 and PowerPoint 2007.

06 May, 2010

Block Offensive Facebook Ads

Updated May 6, 2010, due to new information.

Are you tired of giving Facebook feedback on offensive ads, and yet they keep re-appearing? Just because I'm single doesn't mean I want to continually see ads to meet women! In general, I believe displaying ads in an unobtrusive way is okay, as it is what helps pay for free websites. But why even offer a feedback mechanism, if you're not going to incorporate it into future ads?

Well I did some digging, and found a Firefox Add-on, Adblock Plus, that will block ads. Adblock Plus will work well beyond Facebook, but so far I've only configured it to block Facebook ads. The easiest way to make this work is to also install the Element Hiding Helper Add-on too. Here's the steps:
  1. Download/install Adblock Plus Add-on.
  2. Restart Firefox.
  3. Download/install Element Hiding Helper Add-on.
  4. Restart Firefox. You should have a new ABP icon to the right of the Firefox Search Box.
  5. Login to Facebook.
  6. Click the down arrow and click "Select element to hide" or press Ctrl+Shift+k
  7. Move your cursor around the Title element until the Title is circled with a red box the Sponsored heading on the right until the entire ad is circled with a red box.
  8. Click your mouse.
  9. A new ("Compose element hiding rule") dialog box will open. Click "Add filter rule".
  10. Repeat this process (6 - 9) for the Image and Body Text sections of the ad.

  11. I continue to find new flavors that have forced me to be more specific (i.e. more difficult to only exclude the offensive ads). With the image filter, I went to the Advance View, clicked the "src" box, and deleted everything after the domain (left "http://creative.ak.fbcdn.net/").
  12. Now the entire Sponsored section on the page should have disappeared, leaving just the thumbs-up image.
That's it!
If you want to remove the rule, so an element is no longer blocked, these are the steps:
  1. In Firefox, go to the Tools menu and click "Adblock Plus Preferences...".
  2. Right-click on the filter and select Delete. Alternatively, you can uncheck the Enable box and test how the page looks without the filter. BTW: The Hits column tells you how many times the filter has blocked an ad.
  3. This is my current rule set, which is more complex than what I had originally posted, but still easy enough to develop.
Let me reiterate, I don't support ad blocking in general, as website owners need revenue to continue to offer free services.

In a case like Facebook, where many ads are offensive and they ask but don't use our feedback, few options are left. In fact using the Element Hiding feature, the ads are still loaded, they are just blocked from view. So in fact Facebook will report page views and collect revenue from the ads, we just wont have to see them. Seems to me this screams for a review of when and what ads are posted on pages. Advertisers don't want to spend money on ads that will never have a chance of getting clicked.

One final note as I've already mentioned, Adblock Plus has many more features for blocking ads, including subscriptions to lists which are maintained to block known offensive and malware ads. In general (IMHO) I think if you avoid the more "questionable" places on the Internet and have good virus protection, it's likely these other features are not necessary.

View and Manage Your Social Networks in One Place

Update Aug 25, 2010: After 3 1/2 months of using Yoono, I've removed it from Firefox. It had a tendency to crash Firefox, particularly if it contained a lot of unread messages. In addition, it quit updating my Facebook feed, except for notices, around the 1st of August. I've switched back to TweetDeck and Trillian.

Earlier this week I installed Yoono's (Yoono.com) Firefox Add-on, as a test to see if it can successfully be used to manage all my social networks. Today I removed my other client tools from my auto-start, as I have been very happy with Xoono.

As I mentioned, Xoono is a Firefox Add-on (it's also available for Windows desktop) that you can use to manage all my social network interactions. It supports Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, FriendFeed, and 4 instant messaging (IM) clients: AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, and MSN. Each of these can show in one feed or you can select a tab to see the individual feed. I have been using 3 of the social feeds (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) and 2 IM clients (AIM and MSN). So far I have been very pleased with the easy of use and functionality. I have not used it with multiple IM sessions going at once.

Since it's a Firefox Add-on, the feed window is a left side-bar within the browser. It has a collapse button too, when you want the extra screen real estate. When collapsed, it displays the number of unread messages. With the 7 different skin colors, I found it easy to pick a color that is distinctively enough different from my browser skin to standout, but the palette choices are pleasing enough as to not be distracting.

When posting, you can post in one feed or all feeds. If you were in the All Feed tab, by default all the feeds for posting will be selected. Likewise if you are in a single feed tab, just the single feed will be selected. You can add and remove feeds through a simple checkbox.

I could go on about the many features, or you can visit the Yoono website and check it out for yourself. Needless to say, right now I think I've found a great new tool.

Office Ribbon Frustrations: Document Properties

Remember it used to be easy to look in the File menu and find the document properties of an Office document? This was an easy way to make sure you didn't post documents with personal information you didn't want shared.

In Office 2007 the feature still exists, it's just hidden like so many other things.
  1. Click the round Office icon in the upper-left
  2. Click Prepare
  3. Click Properties
You will also find in this menu the Inspect Document feature, where you can do further analysis and clean up of a document, including the items found within the document properties.

28 April, 2010

Get Exchange (Outlook) Email on your Droid

With my new Droid, it was extremely easy to get my Gmail, but I found the instructions for getting Exchange email not so clear. It's actually quite easy once you realize what's being asked -- the key is it's the same as your Outlook Webmail.
Here's what you need to do:
  1. Click/Open the eMail App and choose Add Account.
  2. Enter your Outlook email address and password.
  3. If you want this to be your default email, be sure to check the box before clicking next.
  4. Select Exchange from the account type options.
  5. Complete the following
    • Domain\Username: This will likely have your email username as entered in step 2. It may not be the same as your network username, which is required here. Most of us don't have to remember our domain, except when using Webmail, e.g. mydomain\myusername.
    • Password: The password you use to login to your corporate computer, and therefore your email. It should also be the same password you use when retrieving Outlook Webmail.
    • Server: This will likely have your email domain as entered in step 2. Likely it wont be correct -- this should be the sub-domain and domain of your Outlook Webmail, e.g. webmail.foo.com.
    • User Secure Connection (SSL): Should be checked.
  6. When you select Next, it'll validate the the information was correct and you're done.

Switched from iPhone to Droid for $20

With my contract expiring on AT&T I found myself in the market for a new cell phone. I could have waited for the next iPhone, by continuing month-to-month, but I really wanted to move to a 3G connection. With the announcement of the new iPhone OS only working on the 3GS, I had to spend $200 (and a 2 year contract) to get it. I'm not sure why with the threat of switching carriers that AT&T didn't have a better offer.

From my research and testing a few Droids owned by 3 friends, it seemed like a good alternative to the iPhone. In speaking directly with Verizon, they too could only offer me a $200 Droid with a 2 year contract, so it didn't offer anything better. Then in searching Amazon, I found that I could get it for $20 on a 2 year contract.

It's now been a few weeks, and I'm very happy with it. While the Droid has its own quirks, they're no worse than the iPhone quirks. There also is a promise to bring Flash to the Droid, which is a lot closer than Flash on iPhone, which I don't think we'll ever see. Further, I like the better service from Verizon -- yes AT&T Edge (2G) service was as bad as the claims about the 3G service.

So if you're in the market for a good, low cost smart phone, give the Droid a try.
Full disclosure: use this link below, and I'll get credit through the Amazon Marketplace.

16 April, 2010

Portions of a PDF don't print

I recently have had two cases where a portion of a PDF file that I saw on screen didn't print. Both documents had inserted signatures among other things. When I opened the file in Acrobat and Illustrator, I could see there were multiple objects. It was some of the objects that were not printing. I figured I should be able to solve with Illustrator, but never came up with a solution using it.

Back in Acrobat, I saved the PDF as a Word document. Then from Word, I created a new PDF. Now my new PDF was complete and it printed everything that I saw on the screen.

12 April, 2010

Fonts not displaying or printing correctly

Ever have a Word (or other) document given you by someone else, and it didn't display the fonts correctly? Perhaps they sent you a PDF or image of the file, and it displayed correctly there, but not in the file that you want to now update.

The first thing to check is to make sure you have the same fonts on your system. An easy check is to look at the font list in your application. For example, if you're supposed to display Frutiger 45 Light, but its not in the list, then it's likely not installed. If you don't have the font, and can get access to it, Microsoft has a process for installing it to your Windows machine.

In some cases, you may have the font, but it still doesn't display correctly nor is it in the list of fonts in your application. This is likely due to the original file being created on a Mac. It may even occur in some applications, such as Word or QuarkXpress, but not in others, such as Photoshop. The reason is that Windows uses style-linking, while the Mac used different fonts.

If you go to c:\windows\fonts\ and look at the font that is installed, but not working, you should see the typeface name used to create the font. The typeface name will be in your list of fonts in the application. For example, the properties for Frutiger 65 Bold uses a typeface of Frutiger 45 Light.
To correct existing documents, highlight the text that references the non-displaying font (e.g. Frutiger 65 Bold) and then select the typeface you found defined in the font (e.g. Frutiger 45 Light) followed by applying any modifications, such as bold.

To keep this from occurring, have the creators of the source documents on the Mac only use base fonts (i.e. Frutiger 45 Light and Frutiger 55 Roman).

Look in the Windows Issues section of the file on OpenType(R) fonts from Adobe to learn more.

07 April, 2010

iTunes 9.1 on Windows 7 (x64) fails on update

Perhaps like me, you accepted the prompt when iTunes notified you that 9.1 was available for updating on your Windows 7 (x64) computer. After the rather large download though, the installation failed. Trying again later ended with the same results. I found some reports of this occurring on 32 bit Windows 7 and on Vista.

From what I could gather, it appears to occur due to a conflict with the version of Bonjour that is already installed. (Bonjour is Apple's service discovery protocol, and is used by iTunes to find shared music on your network.)

I was able to successful perform a manual update.
  1. Download iTunes 9.1 for Windows (64 bit)
  2. Close iTunes
  3. Run the install
When I ran the install, it reported that my version of Bonjour was newer than the version within the install package, but it didn't cause any issues. (Note, I had previously installed the Bonjour Print Utility in troubleshooting a previous problem with my wireless modem and Apple TV. That fix ended up needing a firmware upgrade in my wireless modem.)

06 April, 2010

Share files across computers across the Internet

I recently had a case to share a few free eBooks with a friend in Europe. The files were large enough that sharing over email wasn't practical. My friend introduced me to Dropbox, a service that allows me to store up to 2GB of files for free, and I can designate a folder to share with him (or others).

Dropbox goes beyond just file sharing though. With their client application (Windows, Mac, and Linux), I can have my Dropbox folder sync across computers. Therefore if I add a file on computer A, it will automatically sync to computers B and C. And if I want to access one of my files from any computer, I can just login to Dropbox and get to my files.

Now that I've used Dropbox for a few weeks, I have detected one thing to be cautious of. It has a feature to perform a LAN check -- before sync'ing out to the Dropbox servers, Dropbox checks your LAN. This is an optional feature, that defaults on. What I found is that it though my WAN connection was part of the LAN, and it significantly impacted my throughput on the WAN. This one issue aside, I've found the application to work as advertised.

If you like the service and want more space, Dropbox offers services that provide 50GB and 100GBs of file storage. You can also get 250MG of additional space through referrals.

30 March, 2010

Create 2nd Set of HP/Compaq Recovery Disks

Once upon a time, some 5 years ago I got a new Compaq PC. I diligently created restore disks, in case the hard drive ever crashed. Fast forward to the present, and I started having boot problems due to a hard drive problem. Fortunately I had an automated backup running every day and I made my restore disks.

Uh oh, I couldn't find my disks.
No problem, I'll make more.
Err, it wont let me make more! Huh?
Google to the rescue!

After many searches and poking into newsgroups, I found a promising lead. I either had to delete 3 instances of hpdrcu.prc on the restore drive (D:\) or HPCD.SYS located on the restore drive and in C:\windows\SMINT. Upon looking at the restore drive, it was locked down, so I couldn't get to the file.

Fortunately I found a utility, FreeCommander, that ignored the Windows locks and tricks. After renaming the files (never delete until you know you have the right files), I was able to successfully run the CD Creator utility and create a new set of recovery disks.

29 March, 2010

Unable to Sync iPhone and Unable to Sync Photos to iPhone

Another issue I found moving my iTunes and iPhone to a new PC, was Sync'ing was hanging, though I did have my Apps, Podcasts, and Music. Upon further investigation, I discovered that if I did not sync my photos, then it no longer got stuck.

First I was thinking it was a permission issue with Windows 7 -- but I made no progress. I finally figured out how to solve the issue.
  1. Stop the sync'ing
  2. Delete the iPod Photo Cache in my photo folder(s)
  3. Resync
I can only assume the iPod Photo Cache had pointers to the location of my photos on my old computer.

27 March, 2010

Stop Unwanted Programs from Starting in Windows 7

Regardless of the OS, some programs insist on loading themselves every time you start your computer. The most friendly ones will have a configuration option, while others will use the Startup folder. Unfortunately some are even more sneaky.

All but the very worst offenders can be managed through msconfig, the same program we used with Windows XP. Go to the Run... dialog and type in msconfig to launch it. If Run... isn't in your Start menu list, try searching for it. This opens a System Configuration dialog box.

Within the dialog box, go to the Startup tab. Search through the tab and uncheck any programs you do not want starting up each time you reboot. You're prompted to restart your computer, but its not required. Just manually kill the ones that started the last time, and next time they wont come back.

iTunes Clean Up

In moving my music onto a new computer, I copied my backup music folder, which contained my iTunes library definition, onto my new drive. Then when I installed iTunes, I had duplicate entries of each file, with one being a bad link (as the path was different on my new computer). With nearly 4000 files (8000 listed), I didn't want to manually go through my list and delete the Songs that were broken (Exclamation point next to the Name in iTunes.)

Fortunately with some searching, I found Paul Mayne, who had a solution. Through the use of 2 Smart Play Lists and a Play List, I was able to quickly remove the dead, duplicate listings. See Paul's post for the specific details.

You can may also find yourself in trouble if you let iTunes scan your backup drive and your primary drive. This would actually create duplicates, one pointing to each drive. To correct this, temporarily rename the music folder on your back drive, which will make all the listings on the backup drive to now have invalid links. Then use Paul's technique to remove the invalid listings. Finally, rename the backup drive music folder back to what it was.

Free Anti-virus Software

I hope you're all using anti-virus software, and are having it self-update. I want to give a plug to Avast! Free Antivirus. I've been a user of Avast! for years, and have never gotten a virus on any of my computers. There has been the occassional trapping of a virus, but Avast! has stopped them all. If you're looking for a good, reliable, and free anti-virus software, I would recommend Avast!.

24 March, 2010

Word and Excel Hang on Startup

Perhaps it happened with prior versions of Word and Excel, but I definitely noticed for the first time switching to Office 2007. As a laptop user, I don't always work while connected to my office network, or it may just be that I'm connected via a much slower VPN connection. Regardless, every time I start Word and Excel, they ping the Default Printer, which happens to be on the office network. Due to this, whenever I'm using Word or Excel outside the office the applications hang for several minutes.

Apparently so the onscreen display will match the Default Printer specifics, such as margins, Word and Excel will perform this action when started. When over 95% of my documents are never printed by me, and the great possibility that when printed by someone else, they won't have the same printer, I fail to see why Microsoft has chosen this path.

From the research I've done, the workarounds are limited. For the Word/Excel VBA Power Users, you can write some code and have it as part of Normal.dot which will switch your Default Printer based on your domain. For everyone else, the best solution is to set your Default Printer to a local printer such as the Microsoft Document or Image Writer. If you use Adobe PDF and/or Cute PDF Writer, those are options too.

I think this issue supports my belief that just because there's a new version of software, it doesn't mean your current version isn't good enough. Unless you know the next version addresses a big issue or problem that you're struggling with, don't be the first to install it -- give the new release time and learn what others are reporting. While the new templates that come with Office 2007 can make my documents look better, the added headaches make me question the value of the upgrade. Oh and by-the-way, I'm still using Office 2000 at home.

16 March, 2010

Office Ribbon Frustrations: Switching Windows

I may be a little late to the party, but I finally upgraded to Office 2007 a few months back. While I like the new styles and themes, and I can still use the keyboard shortcuts I've learned, I'm still struggling with find other features within the Ribbons.

Top of my list has been switching windows (view another open file) within Excel. In prior versions of Excel, I could go to the Windows menu and select another file. With Office 2007, you have to first select the View ribbon and then click Switch Windows, where you can select a different open file. As with many of the changes, I had to hunt for a while to find the Switch Windows option.

In the mean time I did learn a new keyboard shortcut for switching windows. Use Ctrl-F6 or Ctrl-Shift-F6 to go in reverse order. As with the View >> Switch Windows menu, this also works in Word and PowerPoint as well as Excel.

08 February, 2010

Fix corrupt Outlook.pst (2007) in Vista

Unlike XP, Vista does not provide the same privileges by default, and therefore it can be difficult to repair your PST file. The trick is to run the scan and repair program with Admin privileges. Here are the steps:
  1. Close Outlook -- likely it's already closed, because if the PST file is corrupt, Outlook wont run.
  2. Find the Command Prompt, right-click, and run as Administrator.
  3. At the command prompt, enter "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\SCANPST.EXE", including the quotes. If you have a different version of Outlook, you may still have a repair program -- find it and replace with the string I have here.
  4. When prompted to Repair, select Repair.
  5. Enter 'Exit" at the command prompt to close the Command Prompt window, and run Outlook again.
That should do the trick.
Some folks may not have an Admin password for Vista. If that's the case, check out these instructions for further help.

06 February, 2010

Rip / manage music on your iPod

Sometime you need to manage music on your iPod that iTunes doesn't allow. I tried iDump, and it didn't recognize my music, so I tried SharePod. While iDump has a 30 day trial before purchase, SharePod is completely free -- donations accepted. SharePod installed quicker, and was very simple to use.

05 February, 2010

Press Esc to Exit Full Screen never goes away

I noticed in my video viewing that when I set the view mode to full screen, the message "Press Esc to Exit Full Screen" is never going away. I tried searching Google, and while many people have asked the same question, there was no clear answer.

Through some experimentation, I learned that in locking down my Flash Player (see New "Cookies" and your Privacy), I introduced this new issue. Apparently the Flash Player wants to store information as third-party content in order for the message to go away. You need to go to the Global Storage Settings panel and check "Allow third-party Flash content to store data on your computer." Interestingly, you can keep the storage setting on "None", and it will still work. (Remember, the Flash setting for your installation is reached by going to a website, with each tab having its own URL. There is no application you can open locally to make configuration changes. Learn more here.)

This seems like a real mistake -- to see a video full-screen, you have to allow any third-party to store a Flash cookie!? First, I don't see the reason any storage is needed to display text on the screen for a short time. Further, if required, why isn't the storage request coming from the same domain as the video? From what I gather, the full screen display, and therefore message, is a Flash Property. I suspect the third-party domain must be a Macromedia/Adobe domain, which also makes no sense. Macromedia/Adobe can track all our Flash usage, without any setting, so why make the 'call home' for full screen open yourself up to all other third-parties?

With the bloat of a Flash Player / Flash App, and the introduction of HTML 5 and native video support (see demo - browser must support HTML 5), perhaps Apple is onto something by not supporting Flash in their iPhone, iPod Touch, and new iPad.

20 January, 2010

Remove Paragraph Marks / Carriage Returns

I'm sure you've received an email from time to time that you need to save in Word or publish online, and there were carriage returns every line as if it was entered using a typewriter (you remember those). It can be very time consuming to manually delete each Carriage Return on every line. But thanks to a Word Macro, the job is easier. Note that once they are all removed, you still need to re-enter the appropriate paragraph marks.

Create a new Macro and use code:

Sub NameOfMacro()
For Each Xpara In ActiveDocument.Paragraphs
Xpara.Range.Select
Selection.Characters(Selection.Characters.Count).Delete
Next
End Sub

After saving, run the macro.

11 January, 2010

2010 Tech Predictions

2009 was a very difficult year for our economy, and many friends and colleagues lost their jobs and/or their homes. While I can't very well predict how our economy will do in 2010, I will try to out due my 1 for 3 predictions of 2009 with my 2010 predictions. In no particular order, here are my 5 top tech predictions for 2010.
  1. With the number of players increasing in the eBook Reader arena, Amazon will adopt the ePub format as a supported file format.
  2. The next version of the iPhone, announced this spring, will be available on Verizon.
  3. Similar to the data loss that occurred for Sidekick users in 2009, a significant data loss or corruption will happen on a Cloud platform. Though hopefully like with the Sidekick data being recovered, even if the data is recovered, it will send a strong message to CIOs and others considering moves to the Cloud.
  4. Depending on the reports you read, the browser war statistics can vary widely. Regardless, Internet Explorer continues to dominate, despite lowering numbers. Using MarketShare as a reference, by the end of 2010, Internet Explorer’s market share will drop below 50%. MarketShare currently reports Internet Explorer to have a 62.69% market share, with Firefox coming in second with a 24.61% market share.
  5. Microsoft will buy Palm and will make a Palm phone with Zune or a Zune phone featuring Palm WebOS.
There are several other predictions that I though about, but never quite got to the formalization stage. For example, there's no lost love for AT&T right now, particularily with their cell phone coverage, but to an extent with their position on net neutrality and their network management too. Likewise Comcast continues to be in the middle of several battles around net neutrality as the same time they're trying to purchase controlling interest in NBC/Universal. Will the FCC be able to step in and protect consumers? Or will they make it worse, or have no say at all? Will congress step in on the net neutrality argument?

Who knows what will happen around the naming space and ICANN? Will we get too many to count top-level domains (TLDs) as planned? And if so, will this really make cyber-squatting worse or perhaps most Internet users wont adopt the new TLDs, and therefore minimizing additional cyber-squatting problems.

There continues to be a lot of buzz about an Apple tablet, while HP and Microsoft have announced a partnership on a slate, which appears to be a competitor in the tablet space. Likewise I think the tablet/slate is going to directly compete the eBook Readers, which is quickly becoming a crowded market.

I think it was Buzz Out Loud that discussed the notion of more devices with built-in, no additional cost, wireless downloads, similar to the Amazon Kindle's Whisper Sync, so no prediction in that area. But perhaps we might see a phone/tablet combo device. In its tablet configuration, you can use the wireless 3G/4G data networks and a blue tooth headset. But the phone/tablet would have a detachable "phone" that could work stand-alone for those times you don't want to carry the larger tablet.

How will social networking continue to evolve over the next 12 months? It seems Facebook and Twitter are both struggling to find a profitable business model. Facebook continues to change its privacy and security settings, while the user interface has gotten much more Twitter-like. YEar end rumors have Twitter being purchased by Facebook, Google, or even Microsoft. In a year from now, will we even care?

Finally, I expect to see continued innovation with green technology, but it's difficult to say what exactly.

Wow, so many fun things to consider, and a few that worry me (predominately net neutrality issues, and of course the economy). Here's to a great 2010!

2009 Tech Predictions Review

I made 3 rather tame (or lame) tech predictions for 2009 -- none with any real relevance. Here's a recap of how I did.
  1. Apple will become less popular.
    Miss. Though a very subjective opinion, here's what happened. Throughout much of 2009 there was a lot of buzz about an Apple Tablet that never materialized, but it kept Apple in the news. Early in the year there was also a lot of buzz about Steve Jobs' health and further whether he would return to Apple or not. Upon his return, as announced, the buzz has died down. Finally, Apple received some spill over from the new Verizon ads that really trashed the AT&T 3G network. To counter some of the Apple buzz, we started seeing several Android phones (finally) ship late in the year. Overall, I don't think the buzz, and therefore popularity, died down as much as expected. On the other hand, clearly Apple was no where near as popular as they had been the two prior years with the iPhone.
  2. TWiT will lose its spot as the top tech podcast.
    Hit. I tried doing a little research on this, but it too is very subjective. But as I figured, I believe Buzz Out Loud (BOL) did pass TWiT as the top tech podcast. At the end of 2008, BOL was really hitting its stride, while TWiT had had too many episodes that rambled on too long. Mind you, I started listening, and really loved TWiT, well before I listened to my first episode of Buzz Out Loud. Early in 2009, Molly Wood had announced she's leaving BOL as a regular host, and I thought that this prediction would miss too. Further, I don't think BOL is the best platform to showcase Nateli Del Conte's talents (ironically, I think Nateli did a great job on TWiT). But to my delight, BOL started rotating through many great regulars and a few guest talents, which has led to a great show.
  3. Nateli Del Conte will move back to the Silicon Valley.
    Miss. Not really a tech prediction per say, but rather a prediction of a tech personality. What can I say, Nateli made a move to NYC that would be difficult for anyone, and she always appeared much more happy when visiting the Bay Area. As I referenced in the prior prediction, I thought early in the year, things got even more difficult for her as she became a regular host on BOL. But with another year past, Nateli has proven that she's very resilient and she's still in NYC. Congratulations Nat!
Well I was 1 of 3 for my 2009 predictions. I have 5 predictions cued up for 2010 -- watch for that post coming soon.