Friday, January 27, 2006

Podcast: Instant Messaging with Skype, Yahoo

Miss the January 26th, live version of Your Day? Here is your chance to listen to the whole show including our technology segment on the various instant messaging services available. The technology segment begins at 34:09 in the show.

You might want to read the Pew Internet Report on Instant Messaging.

You can learn more about Skype at their website or try out Skype's voice mail by calling the GSA Technology Council on a real phone. You call (864)946-9109 using a real phone and we'll either answer using Skype, or you can listen to our outgoing message and leave a question or comment for us which we will pick up on our computer.

You can learn more about Yahoo Messenger at

Think AOL is the messenger for you? It's at

We talked a few minutes about a particularly nefarious instant messaging worm that can chat with you. I previously wrote about that in this blog entry.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Phil Yanov -- As Seen on TV

Lucky you. This is no informercial. Nigel Robertson and JL Watson of WYFF came by to chat about Google yesterday and our interview turned into a little something that ran on last night's five and six o'clock news. Apparently some of you saw it as well as my phone rang as soon as the six o'clock version ran.

The internet helps build social capital.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project today released a report describing how the internet improves Americans' capacity to maintain their social networks and how they gain a big payoff when they use the internet to activate those networks to solicit help.

The report is based on two surveys and finds that the internet and email expand and strengthen the social ties that people maintain in the offline world. The surveys show that people not only socialize online, but they also incorporate the internet into their quest for information and advice as they seek help and make decisions.

Disputing concerns that heavy use of the internet might diminish people's social relations, the report finds that the internet fits seamlessly with Americans' in-person and phone encounters. With the help of the internet, people are able to maintain active contact with sizable social networks, even though many of the people in those networks do not live close to them.

The report, "The Strength of Internet Ties," highlights how email supplements, rather than replaces, the communication people have with others in their network.

The full report is available at:

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Archimedes Screwed

As a kid, I said that if I ever had access to a time machine that I would return to the library at Alexandria and read all of the cool books they had there. I now realize that they all would have been Greek to me. (ahem.)

Through the magic of TV time travel, I watched last week's episode of Nova this week. It looks like the episode might have even been older than that, but it was the first time I had seen it, thus it was fresh. The show told the amazing story of how Archimedes developed the rudiments of calculus in 212 BC, and then it was lost until 1906. Which means, of course, that Newton and Leibniz had to reinvent that branch of math without the benefit of the guy who had done all the work 1800 years prior.

The show described in great detail how the last remaining copy of Archimedes great book had the ink scrubbed off the pages in order to create a copy of a prayer book. Since the rediscovery of this only known copy of the work, they have been trying new technologies to get at the remaining faint images of the original text. I liked it.

Even if you don't care much about geometry and calculus, you can take comfort in knowing that these are the same guys who invented Baklava, Sambuca, and Democracy. They can't be all bad.

qv: Nova

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Podcast: Free Phone Calls from your PC

Miss today's Your Day radio show where Eric Rodgers and I spoke about PC to PC phone calls using Yahoo Messenger with Voice and Skype? Never fear -- the link is here!

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Call with your questions on Feb 9!

Welcome again to all the Your Day Listeners. Don't forget to mark your calendars for February 9. On that day, Eric Rodgers and I will be taking live calls about computers and the internet on the Your Day radio show. Your Day runs from 12:00 noon until 1:00 PM Monday through Thursday on the South Carolina Educational Radio Network. The call-in segment will be on the second half of the show on Thursday, Feb 9.

qv: Your Day

Skype adds video...Will I care?

I am a member of several of the great disconnected Instant Messaging networks. My account on Yahoo I use regularly, I have an account on Skype that I use intermittently, an account on MSN which I use with a very limited scope, and I know I have an AOL Instant Messenger account which I haven't loaded in years. Even among my regular IM pals, most don't have a microphone attached, so I don't get to use even voice chat with them. Now Skype has added video to their chat. If I ever use this, it will probably just to be to prove that it works. Skype's audio is more than sufficient for me at the moment.

What do you think? What do you use? (Tell Me.)

Check out Skype for yourself.
Try the new Yahoo Messenger with voice.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Podcast: Your Day - Firefox, a safer way to browse

Miss the live version of Your Day? Here is your chance to listen to the whole show including our segment on the new version of the Firefox Browser.

Click to listen: YourDay

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Another Firefox goody

This Firefox feature snuck up on me. Since discovering it myself, I've peered over a couple of other Firefox user's shoulders. They don't seem to use it. It seems I may have discovered something that most of my techie friends haven't previously noticed.

It's a button under Tools, Options, General...

Right there, in plain view, it says you can use current pages, not use current page as your home page. I like it! I have set both my Google and Yahoo portals to appear in tabs. Now when I start Firefox, they both load automagically!

qv: Firefox

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Why I browse with Firefox

Welcome once again to the Your Day listeners. I hope you enjoy Thursday's segment on the Firefox browser.

I started a new gig this week which meant I found myself sitting in front of a computer that didn't know much about me. The computer had lain fallow for some weeks or maybe even months. I first went out to Windows Update and loaded all of the critical system updates it had missed while no one was paying attention. There were 25 of them. It took quite a while for them to download and apply. In fact, I ended up having to cycle through the Windows Update website twice in order to get everything that I needed.

Once I was satisfied that I had applied all of the necessary windows patches, I loaded the Firefox browser. A computer, whether work or play, is not really very useful unless it is properly kitted out to browse the web.

I am glad that Firefox allows me to surf the web more safely than other browsers, but in truth I only thought about that when I first got Firefox. Now, the safety features in Firefox are like the airbags in my car. They give me assurance, but I don't think about them much when I am driving.

What delights me about Firefox every day is that it lets me surf the web more quickly and more productively. I learn more and work faster by using Firefox. The tabbed interface lets me keep a number of pages open without cluttering up the Windows taskbar. The profile manager (on my home computer) allows my wife and I to share the same browser without having to waste the several minutes that elapse when we log in and out of Windows. You can learn about Firefox Profiles on the mozilla website. I keep the buttons I use most installed on the toolbar, including my furl button and links to the resources I use most on the web. I have set the searchbox to use to that I can get the definitions of words and terms very quickly while I am researching my writing. I haven't yet loaded their 1-click plugin that promises to eliminate the copy and paste step as I drag text up to the search box, but it is on my list of things to try.

I do a bit of customization to my Firefox without installing any plugins. For example, I tell my Firefox to override links that want to open new windows and force them to open in tabs instead. I also tell Firefox to be diligent in maintaining my preference of it as my preferred browser, and I also customize its many privacy settings to suit my distaste for danger. There are quite a few setting I never change, but that's probably because the defaults work for me. I like knowing that they are there should I never need them.

Like I stated earlier, Firefox is safer -- but safety isn't all that sexy. Safety is simply a basic requirement for my continued browsing of an increasingly dangerous Internet. It's Firefox's ability to let me browse the way I want that keeps me coming back.

qv: Mozilla's FireFox

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Happy Birthday to Super Dave Urquhart

Dave Urquhart USA In 1999 I lost a great friend, Super Dave Urquhart. He was truly a generous soul. I still think of him often. Today would have been his birthday, a day he year after year graciously shared with Elvis.

Just after he died, I wrote him an email. I still have it on my hard drive. In honor of him on his birthday I post it here. I'd like for him to know that I am still thinking of him.

October 5, 1999

Super Dave,

I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know that I am missing you. I probably feel a little bit guilty too that I have never expressed enough appreciation for what you mean to me. Sometimes I get wrapped up in the stuff I think is important, and I forget to catch up with you like I should. I hope this letter makes it to you. If anyone could wire the place for Internet, it would be you.

Thank You for always offering your help, even when I didn't think I needed it. Somehow, you knew better than I did what I needed, and you helped without judging. Thanks for letting me know that I could talk to you about anything. I wish I had taken advantage of it more often.

Thanks for letting me know that you were more than just a little bit scared. I know that you are Super and all, but it gave me hope to think that you were human. It made me feel better about myself to think that I could listen and be a support to you. Few will know the fears you overcame in your battle to stay terrestrial. Thanks for letting me know and help.

That reminds me....I have one small favor to ask. You had a secret that I watched in action time and time again, but never figured out. How did you always give more than you received? Whether it was family, friends, neighbors, or community, you reached out and gave to everyone. We all have the same number of hours in a day. But I always liked what you did with yours. Without regard to your own benefit, you helped others. Angels do walk among us. Thanks for being such a shining example, buddy. You know I love you for it.

One last thing, Thanks for loving me more than I deserved.

Your friend always,
Phil Yanov

Happy Birthday Elvis!

Happy Birthday to the King. I'd like to thank him for leaving us all the tunes. I sing them to my brand new baby girl all the time. We can only hope that she'll grow up to appreciate his stylings as well. When she is fussy and needs some help in drifting off to sleep, I sing her Can't Help Falling in Love as a lullaby.
Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can'?t help falling in love with you

It calms us both...

Also be sure to visit my friend Phil Arnold at ELVISBLOG

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Calling Santa Pays Off!

We previously reported that Vonage has a direct IP to Santa. It turns out, according to a press release from Vonage's marketing department, that they listened to all of the calls (really?) and had Santa deliver the requested presents to ten lucky kids. Who says there is no Santa?

Podcast: Your Day - Insane amounts of Storage!

Did you hear the 12/26 Your Day Podcast? If not, you can listen here as Eric Rogers and I talk about email, pictures, and amazingly huge amounts of storage...

The web is a big place. It so amazingly, mind bogglingly big that it offers websites that offer nearly unlimited email storage. Google's GMail offers over 2 Gigabytes of email storage space for free.

Yahoo's email integrates into all of the Yahoo offerings including their portal page. If you want access to a lot of information on one page, then you'll like Yahoo a lot. Also, they have just started a beta test of a brand new user interface for their email that looks great. My early test leads me to believe they are still working the bugs out of the systems, but it looks great.

Kathryn 2880
As you heard me mention, Flickr still offers an insane amount of photo storage online. (Flickr Photo Sharing) You can even share adorable photos of loved ones on blogs and websites like this one. (Isn't she cute?)

Did you really hear me try to explain Perpendicular Magnetic Recording? Just in case you didn't get my homespun analogy, then perhaps you'd prefer to visit the Hitachi web page that explains PMR with a Flash animation. (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording)

Listen: Listen to the full Your Day Podcast.

By the way, the tech segment starts at 15 minutes and 44 seconds into the show. I'd recommend you start at the beginning, however, as I really enjoyed Bob Becker's discussion of Santa as a possible "dead weight loss."