Tech Tip: Voice Messaging Blasts

My friend Sanjay just turned me on to Shoutnow.com. If you go check it out you'll see that I copy/pasted the above scenario from their website. The idea is a lot like the TextMarks service which provides text messaging blasts to lists of subscribers. The system has a few implementation differences (like using a centrally managed list instead of ad hoc end-user subscriptions - pros and cons there), but the obvious difference is that you send a recorded call to a distribution list of phone numbers instead of a text message.

Tech Tip: Text Blasts

TextMarks is a FREE service that allows you to create a subscription code via the TextMarks website www.textmarks.com so that anyone who text messages that code to the TextMarks number 41411 will subsequently be registered as a part of your distribution list. Then whenever you need to send out a text blast, everyone who has signed up will receive the messages you send.

This is a really useful service with lots of real-life applications, especially if you help coordinate medium-to-large groups of people during short-term events. Think disaster recovery situations (Sanjay?), church mission trips (Chuck?), big scavenger hunts, competitive events,...basically any event during which you may need to send out impromptu instructions or alerts.

Tech Tip: Coupons for your favorite Restaurant

Restaurant.com is an online service that generates printable gift certificates for participating restaurants in cities all over the country. Generally their deals work like this: a $25 gift certificate costs $10, and there is a minimum purchase of $35 or $50. Of course, that's just list price, and we bargain-hunters rarely settle for list

To get the rock bottom steal, you need to know that there is usually some sort of promotion code going around the Internet. Today the promo code is SANTA. I don't know how long this code will work, but right now if you enter it during the check out process on Restaurant.com your purchase will be discounted by 80%! (How did I found out about this promo code, you ask? I'll tell you tomorrow.)

I don't know about your city, but the list of participating restaurants in Austin is long - about 65 or so. The list is also quite varied - steak, seafood, ethnic, high-end (Zoot, for crying out loud!) and some grittier places.

Tech Tip: Achieving Zero Inbox

I learned this system at a seminar from leadership/productivity guru Paul Burton--his website is http://www.visionmechanix.com/QuietSpacing_agenda.html He calls the system "QuietSpacing," and it is an order of magnitude better than the previous productivity/organizational/time management system I had been using: The Franklin Covey Planner (adapted for use with Outlook and a PDA, of course).

Tech Tip: iTunes without an iPod

The misunderstanding is epidemic (and I wonder if Apple intends it to be so...), but let me reiterate for the 100th time: iTunes is way cooler than you thought, and you don't have to have an iPod to use iTunes....

Personally, I think iPods and iPhones are pretty cool, and some day I'll probably own one. But the really cool technology is iTunes. Just download the application for FREE here: http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/ , install it (Windows or Mac), and browse the iTunes store for the most amazing amount of audio content--especially FREE audio content--you can imagine.

Leatherman Crater Knives - A simple replacement for multitools

Leatherman CraterNeed a simple, lightweight, quick-to-deploy knife the Leatherman Crater™ knife series, might offer the perfect knife for you.   The Leatherman Crater Knife Series is part of Leatherman's new simpler lock knife range.

All the Leatherman Craters have a plain/serrated combo blade and a one piece glass-fibre nylon handle, designed for lightness and durability They all come with a carabiner that easily clips to a belt loop, or backpack and doubles as a bottle opener.  There are ten versions of the Crater Knives with some with an additional blades (different lengths, straight or serrated), screwdrivers (phillips and flat), blade launcher, and blade locks. Here's how you can decipher what each model comes with

Geomet'r GNC-35 - Easy geotagging for the Nikon D300

Geomet'r GNC-35 GPS GeotaggingEver taken a picture and then a few months later wondered where it was taken?  Geotagging -- inclusion of GPS positioning data in an image file's Exif header -- is a useful feature that is available in some modern cameras that helps solve this problem.  Once you've got GPS data in your images, you use an application or a service to map the location of your images.  Their are an increasing number of devices that let you easily add the GPS data to your photo files. 

The Geomet'r GNC-35 is a $145 GPS receiver is one such device, a GPS reciever designed to tap into the built-in GPS support of the Nikon D200, D300, D2Hs, D3xs, D3 and the Fujifilm S5 Pro.  The Geomet'r GPS receiver is a 1 1/2" square device that is approximately 3/4" thick which mounts on the camera hotshoe.  It attaches, and draws power, through the remote 10-pin terminal connectors.  The low-power receiver (with a built-in rechargeable battery for memory and Real Time Clock backup) uses a very small SiRF Star III GPS chipset to capture GPS data from any of 20 parallel satellite tracking channels. 

Manfrotto Modopocket - A pocket tripod

Manfrotto Modopocket Tripod The easiest way to improve the quality of your photos is to put the camera on a tripod--pictures taken ona  tripod are sharper, clearer, and blur-free..  Unfortunately, tripods are bulky and inconvenient.  Manfrotto has come up with an elegant design solution a stand that is only 1.67g and folds up to fit on your camera--the Manfrotto Modopocket. The stand can support up to 17 oz of weight--so it's not really appropriate for an SLR but should work for most pocket cameras.   In addition to letting you stably point your pocket camera in any direction you can also tilt the camera forward or backward with the ModoPocket, giving you a bit of flexibility.  Unlike a regular tripod you can't really adjust the height of your camera--this stand's competition is the table top tripod.  Once attached, the ModoPocket can be left on the camera when not in use, and when needed, shooters can unfold the legs in a matter of seconds and begin taking pictures.  Is it a true substitute for a tripod?  Probably not, but it can help improve your pictures and you are much more likely to have it with you than a tripod.

Legal Rights of Photographers

Is it legal for you to take that photograph?  Is it legal for you to publish the photograph?  Can you be arrested for trespassing? 

Photographers are being hassled more and more about taking photographs by law enforcement, overzealous security guards, concerned parents.  People are being stopped, harassed, and even intimidated into handing over their personal property simply because they were taking photographs of subjects that made other people uncomfortable. Recent examples have included photographing industrial plants, bridges, buildings, trains, and bus stations. For the most part, attempts to restrict photography are based on misguided fears about the supposed dangers that unrestricted photography presents to society.

What are your rights?  How do you stay out of trouble.  There are a number of resources that give you a some information on your legal rights:

Mailinator.com - A simple disposable email service

Is a website asking you for an email address and you don't want to give your primary address because you know you'll get spam-bombed?   Don't feel like filling out the forms for Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail?  www.mailinator.com offers the perfect service.  No forms to fill out.  Heck you don't even have to go to the website. 

Just makeup an address with a domain of mailinator.com.   Then when you need to retrieve the address go to the website and enter the email you made up.  Voila!  You can read the email sent there. 

Some caveats:

  1. The email address is truly disposable.  It'll only last for a few hours
  2. There's no expectation of privacy.  Anyone can access that email address.  So as mailinator says, if you use the website for your super-secret email you're just being silly.  Hear that Governor Palin?
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