I Bought A Toy – Flip Mino

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Oilman Now Powered By Feedburner

yeah yeah yeah – I know. It’s about damn time. Click below to update your feed to the new Feedburner URL. Really I just want to see high numbers in the Feedburner doohicky at the bottom of the right sidebar ;) Subscribe to Oilman on Feedburner

Feedburner Numbers Jump

I’ve seen a lot of reports lately about FeedBurner subscription numbers jumping up drastically sometime in the past couple weeks. I’m too lazy to go find the actual posts but what reminded me of this was meeting a couple dudes from FeedBurner here in the Range offices about an hour ago. I poked my head into the meeting and asked them straight up what was the deal with the numbers jump and they told me that it was essentially Google and to a lesser extent services like MyYahoo and Bloglines actually reporting back to FeedBurner accurate numbers of subscribers in their respective services. Essentially Google et al was, for all intents and purposes, showing up as only one subscriber. So even if 1000 people were subscribed to your FeedBurner feed via Google Reader or Blogines etc it was only showing up to FeedBurner as one subscriber. Now that the readers are reporting numbers back to FeedBurner you are seeing the true number of subscribers you have. Sorry to say none of you generated a ton of new subscibers overnight but at least you can bump your ad rates because your readership is higher than you thought. Watch the FeedBurner blog in the next few days for a more detailed explanation.

Kensington Sucks

UPDATE: Kensington just sent me a email asking me to take a survey regarding my customer service experience. Sweet. I gave them the link to this post. BTW – Targus has a fully stocked Canadian online store. Choke on that Kensington.

Hot on the heels of my good experience at Gateway comes a shitty experience at Kensington. I just bought the 120 Watt Kensington power adapter that works in planes, cars and regular wall sockets. I have a long flight to London this week and didn’t want to run out of juice in the middle of a movie or some work.

So this is nice replacement to carrying around all the chargers I normally have to carry. It has a bunch of swappable tips for all kinds of devices. Of course it only comes with laptop tips and a bonus iPod tip – cuz the whole damn world has an iPod right? WRONG! I have a Zen Video. So I figure I’ll just order up the tips I need and the dual charging cable and we’re off to the races.

Well, several phone calls later I wind up calling Kensington Canada directly because nobody carries any accessories for this piece of crap. I get a very nice girl on the phone that offers to look for the tips I need and send them out. Today I get an email from her that they don’t have the tips I need nor do they even sell the dual charger cable in Canada so I should call Kensington US and see if they can help. WTF?!

I just got off the phone with Kensington US and yeah they have what I want but won’t ship to Canada. I asked if I can use my credit card and just get them ship to somewhere in the US where I’ll be soon. No can do – only US credit cards.

Time to investigate the Targus power adapter and see if I have better luck with parts for that.

To be fair I can understand why American companies ignore Canada. We only have about 30,000,000 people up here – sheesh.

Gateway Technical Support Rocks

Well – sorta. I just bought a refurbished Gateway Media Center PC. It’s a pretty decent machine:

  • Athlon 64 X2 3800+
  • 1 Gig Ram
  • Stupid big hard drive
  • TV Tuner
  • Windows Media Center OS
  • DVD RW
  • 13 in 1 card reader
  • $549 CDN

I mean jeez you can’t even buy the parts for that price. So I jumped all over it as a second machine for at home.

Of course right out of the box it didn’t work. The computer didn’t recognize the TV tuner so I couldn’t watch TV while I worked (a requirement for evening working). So I call in to Gateway support and wait on hold for 20 min and get to chat to Amanda who is the sweetest young lady I believe I’ve ever encounter in any suppport role. She wasn’t very bright and really only suggested reinstalling drivers etc which I had already done. At the end of all that she sent me out a new TV tuner card.

Two days later the new card shows up and I install it and no love. Poke around online a bit more and find out there is a major update for MCE. Yeah yeah – my bad for not updating Windows very first thing. So her fix didn’t work but I’m still pretty ok about it at this point because Amanda was so very cool and genuinely tried her best.

So I finally get the patch installed and bingo bango TV works but it’s really spotting and hiccupy and I have to restart the application over and over and it only ever works for 15 min at a time or so.

I figure I’ll give Gateway one more chance and try their online chat system for support. I log in and get someone right away. I tell them my problem and it turns out it’s a known issue and the fix is to install the drivers for the AMD cpu. That’s right – the drivers ARE NOT installed at the factory. How lame is that? Anyhoo – download, install, reboot and we have hiccup free TV.

All in all a fairly painless experience and I have to say when I compare this to other nightmarish support experience this is about as good as it gets. Way to go Gateway.

iPhone Launches

wow – damn cool looking device but is that any suprise? Apple is completely about style. In the PC world nobody comes close for pure sexiness of design. In the cell phone world there are some cool devices for sure but the iPhone has completely eclipsed everything eye candywise. Launch info here and here. iphone.jpg

How To Set Up A Blog

Blogging is everywhere and like my buddy Shandyking I get asked alot to help set up blogs for friends and family but now that Shandy has put in some time and laid out the steps I can simply point people over there and say “Hell, they’re Shandy’s instructions. Email him”. Perfect.

Laptops and Desktops and Treos OH MY!

I do a fair bit of travelling and to help pass time in airports as well as to have something to work on when I get where I’m going I have accumulated some portable gadgetry:

  • Dell 700m (12.1″ widescreen laptop)
  • Treo 700w
  • Creative Zen Vision:M – which has nothing to do with this post at all it’s just very cool

I often get asked how I synch email in 3 places and documents in 2 places all at once since I clearly don’t work on a 12.1″ laptop as my primary machine. I have a desktop system with dual monitors and an ergo keyboard and yadda yadda yadda. Working on that small laptop is managable for only a few days at a time and even then it’s not ideal but it’s small and sexy and travels well. So in an effort to simplify my life and orginize my data I have tried several methods from by hand to a variety of synchronization tools and backup programs and I’ve finally hit on a very slick and easy to manage combination. Email Solution: Hosted Exchange by www.4smartphone.net Hosting your own MS Exchange is not really a cost effective solution not is it that easy to set up (well – at least not for a guy like me) it is better to look at najlepszy hosting options. Then there is the cost and maintenance of running it and making sure it’s up when you’re on the road and all that crap. I don’t have the time or inclination to do that so I’m more than happy to shell out $6.99 a month to have all my email in one place and let someone else make sure it’s there for me when I need it. The hosted exchange system is very easy to set up. First off if you don’t have Outlook 2003 don’t worry – you get a copy with your subscription and it’s included in the price. That alone makes it worth the money. Ok – so you’re signed up – what next? Well you fill out the forms and then download an Outlook pst config file and double click it and Outlook is automagically set up for you. Next you connect to the Exchange server and drag and drop all your email from the old folders to the new Exchange folders – this may take awhile. Once that’s done you grab your laptop and run the config file again and then restart Outlook. Outlook will connect to the Exchange server and download all your email. Voila – you are now synched between your laptop and desktop. Got a Pocket PC? No sweat – they have instructions for that. Got multiple email addresses you mange? Yep – they have a solution for that as well. Don’t have your own computer handy? You guessed it – webmail access. I used to move giant pst files back and forth by hand and even tried a few syncing programs but nothing works as slick as a hosted exchange account. I’ll never go back. File and Document Solution: FolderShare by www.foldershare.com FolderShare is a great Windows app that does exactly what is says. It allows you to share folders between computer. I use it to synch My Documents but you could easily use it to share a project folder within a work team or share picture folders with other family members and friends. It’s free and easy to set up. It used to cost about $100 for a professional level account back when they were still a startup but Microsoft stepped in a bought them out and made the service free. Thanks Microsoft (now get off your asses and throw a party at a Search conference!). So how does it work? Simple – download it on to each computer you want connected and select from a preset list of folders to share such as My Docs, Favorites etc or drill down to specific folders and select those. Make sure that folder path exists on both devices and connect. The program will scan your files and synchronize them. As usual the first time takes the longest. After that files synch in near real time as long as all devices are connected. Also, if you’re somewhere and you can’t get online but maybe your client’s desktop is online . You can login to your FolderShare account and access all your shared folders on the the machine back in your office that is still online. Very nice indeed. 24/7 access to your files with or without your own laptop. Before you naysayers get involved – it’s password protected and encrypted and FolderShare does not store an actual copy of your files. My days of watching a status bar creep across the screen before and after every trip are over. When I leave the office I grab my laptop and roll along with some addons from http://www.kukook.com. When I get home I simple site down and login back in to my desktop and there’s my files and email waiting. I havne’t given a second thought to synching my documents or email in weeks. One final note – this actually works as a pretty slick backup system as well. My laptop and desktop are rarely in the same place so even if my office burns down I sitll have everything on my laptop. If my laptop gets stolen or lost I still have everything on my desktop. Thanks to my buddy Jason over at Pocket PC Thoughts for pointing me at these resouces and hounding and HOUNDING and HOUNDING me to set up hosted exchange. (actually he signed me up for the trial program and then held a gun to my Vision:M and made me do it – well, that’s sorta true) also you can find out more at lowhosting.

Thundercougarfalconbird – The World of Mashups

I’ve become quite a fan of mashups lately. The merging of 2 or more existing products to create a whole new product really resonates with me. Mashups have been around for a long long time – remember that mix tap you made for the blonde chick 3 seats behind you in high school chemisty lab? In my case her name was Christy and I’m fairly sure REO Speedwagon and Concrete Blond made their way onto that tape but I digress…

I was going to register a new domain and start a new blog all about mashups (the tech kind – not the mix tape kind) but why split the effort? Clickity-click – new category in WordPress install – and we’re off.

I’d like to start with overplot, a mashup of www.overheardinnewyork.com, the Google Maps API and Google Reader. I came across this by way of Nat at O’Reilly. First off, OiNY is a gathering of the, more often than not, typically off beat things heard in the streets of NY. That alone is fun enough for example:

Guy: How do you get to Astor Place?
Old man: You go up 2 blocks, make a left, then go fuck yourself.

–10th St & 5th Ave

Gather this feed up and use the cross street information to plot occurances and make it searchable and you can find some intersting things about about NY. Things like:

  • Canada is not a hot topic on the streets
  • Penis is 13 times more popular as a topic than Canada is
  • There is a fair bit of cursing on the streets of NY

Anyhow – go check it out. The mashup is fun and OiNY will become a daily read. You’ll feel better about yourself.