Archive for the ‘Mostly Tech’ Category

Mar 10th, 2009 6 Comments

Firefox becoming the Swiss Army knife of software

The Firefox Web browser is quickly becoming the only software you really need on your computer. And that will make lots of people happy because it will simplify their lives.

Firefox showing my current add-ons

Firefox showing my current add-ons

The online replacements (think Google Apps or Zoho) for your basic desktop office software like word processing, spreadsheets, project management, accounting, and e-mail are getting good enough to replace their desktop cousins. They work in Firefox and any other Web browser, saving users the trouble of buying, installing, and constantly upgrading their programs. But where Firefox really outdoes the competition is the huge collection of "Add-ons." There are thousands of add-ons available at the Firefox Web site. These add-ons can replace almost all the other software people normally have installed on their computers.
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Feb 27th, 2009 1 Comment

Convenient backup for Google Gmail

We have been proponents of Google’s mail service almost since the day it was announced. Low cost (or free), huge storage space, secure IMAP, plus all the resources of Google to keep making it better. Over the past couple of years we’ve helped a number of companies move off of costly private mail systems, and everyone has been happy with the result.

When Gmail is offline

But, no matter how big Google, Amazon, Yahoo, or anyone else gets, or how much money they have, their services will eventually go down. Volumes have been written in just the past week about Google’s Gmail outage. Read the official Google blog post, or yesterday’s Wall Street Journal story.

So this seems like a good time to encourage our readers to take time this weekend to pick up some new ideas to help make your e-mail more reliable, and use a nice free program to back up all of your Google mail.
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Dec 18th, 2008 3 Comments

REDFLY Smartphone Terminal – Review 1

We received a REDFLY Smartphone Terminal for testing today and started writing this review while unpacking so we wouldn’t forget anything important. This installment will only cover the basics and first impressions. We’ll post more comments after living with it for a week or so.



For anyone that doesn’t know, the REDFLY is basically a dumb terminal for your Windows Mobile phone – a screen and keyboard with no ability to run software on its own. The manufacturer’s Web site ( ) says “no OS, no CPU, and no storage” but I don’t believe that. There’s clearly some logic in this thing, and the documentation says that I might have to download firmware to match the drivers being installed on the phone. So there’s some OS and some processor, we’ll just have to figure out what it is on our own.
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Oct 5th, 2008 No Comments

Send e-mail, set reminders, make appointments by phone

Some of my most productive time, that is, when I can really think undisturbed by phones or other people, is when I’m riding my bicycle or driving alone.  Unfortunately, those are also about the only times that I’m unable to capture my half-baked ideas on my business planning napkin, or compose that new blog entry on my computer.  Some people read and send text messages while driving, but that isn’t very healthy.

A new company called Jott ( ) has come up with an easy and clever solution for using the phone to create e-mail, text messages and calendar appointments.  Or as they put it "Turn your words into action."

The Jott service recently came out of beta and the service works as advertised.  In fact, it’s uncanny in its ability to accurately transcribe your messages.  They say they use a combination of computerized text-to-speach, and human operators.  My guess is that computers handle the easy stuff like dates and times, and that real people transcribe the actual messages.
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Aug 25th, 2008 1 Comment

Utilities for getting the most out of Google Apps

Last week I wrote about Google Apps and what a great tool it can be for small to mid-size companies.  Today I’ll give you a list of add-ons to help integrate your Google calendar and contacts with your computer and phone.

It’s really ridiculous that these utilities are even necessary, but the fact is that two of the most common applications of computers and cell phones, that is the humble calendar and address book, are the most difficult applications to share between different devices.  Every device and application has its own calendar and rarely do applications want to share.

Fortunately, Google provides a convenient way to connect from a variety of devices.  So using Google as the "hub" or main repository finally gives us some nice flexibility.
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Aug 18th, 2008 2 Comments

Google Apps is a great deal for small business

Managing e-mail, contacts and calendars are some of the most fundamental tasks in any business.  Yet even today it’s surprisingly difficult to set up an integrated system for a typical small business.  E-mail is probably the easiest, but there are competing standards for calendar information and contacts, and several different ways to handle security.  And if your company has a mix of Windows and Apple computers, and different phone models it’s very time consuming and training/support-intensive to get everyone working together.

Microsoft’s Exchange Server, combined with Microsoft Outlook is the most common way to integrate contacts, calendars and e-mail, but it’s a very expensive solution and requires a fair bit of technical skill to set up and maintain.  Very good, and less expensive, replacements for Exchange have appeared (the best is probably Zimbra , which was acquired by Yahoo! recently) but these still require hardware and technical support.

The new trend, which goes by such catchy names as "cloud computing" or "SaaS" offers a very appealing solution, particularly for small to mid-size companies.  Cloud computing, or Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to the concept of having programs out in the "cloud" of the Internet as opposed to having the software on your personal computer (or your company’s servers).  For example, your calendar would be stored in the cloud, on somebody else’s servers where you can reach it from any computer and easily share it with other people.  Turning over your calendar to "the cloud" might sound dangerous, but it’s no different from the way e-mail works, and everyone has come to accept those risks.
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May 14th, 2008 No Comments

Use Google or Yahoo account to log in to Zoho apps

Starting today it’s possible to log in to Zoho applications using your existing Google or Yahoo! account information.  See the full story here.

Two reasons this is important.  First, it’s nice to see someone trying to reduce the number of user IDs and passwords we all have to remember.  I know every company wants to “own the user” but the number of passwords we all have to remember is ridicules.

Second, and more important, you can now easily share Zoho documents with your clients and associates that already have a Google or Yahoo! account.  They simply log in to Zoho using their existing account information.

This is another example of why we like Zoho.  Great products (and getting better), great prices, and they really try to make our lives easier.