iPod Touch Tip #6: RSS Readers Still Missing The Mark

Having quick and easy access to information is one of the strong points of the iPhone and the iPod Touch. With their online capabilities, the Internet is at your fingertips, and just about any piece of information is just a few taps away. One group of applications that provides news information is the “RSS Reader” category. These programs provide news feeds in a (typically) organized and concise manner, allowing you to catch up news from your favorite sites wherever you are. But what if you are not online? What if an iPhone user is on a subway or in an area that has marginal or no coverage. What about an iPod Touch user who is not within range of a WiFi connection? Providing offline access to RSS feeds is a worthy endeavor, and AppStore has a dozen or so RSS readers that may fit your needs, however they all currently […]

iPod Touch News: Software Development Kit (SDK)

Apple announced that in February 2008, they would release a Software Development Kit (SDK) enabling third-party developers to create applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Many people are placing a lot of hope into this tool. As of this writing, it appears that its release will be delayed until March, 2008. Read on to see my take on what the SDK may or may not bring…. On one hand, I am very excited that the availability of the SDK could potentially provide some excellent and useful applications. Opening up application development to third-party developers could potentially rival the literally thousands of applications released for PalmOS PDA's. But on the other hand, I have several concerns or questions: 1. Because the applications will be distributed exclusively through iTunes, it is currently unclear what applications will cost. My guess is that it will probably follow a pattern similar to PalmGear with […]

Initiated as an Entered Apprentice!

On Tuesday evening, June 12, I was initiated as an Entered Apprentice into the Divver lodge #349 in Anderson, South Carolina. As I reflect back over the evening of my initiation, the one word that keeps popping into my mind is “impressive”. I was so impressed by the many events of the evening: From the friendliness of the members, to their devotion to the craft; from the seriousness and solemness of the ceremonies, to the memorization displayed by the team conducting the ceremony. It was certainly an impressive evening–one I’ll not forget. As you have probably read in my earlier posts, as I waited on the process from petitioning to initiation, things seemed to be moving along at a slow pace. This, of course, was only a reflection of my impatience. But then, “Bam!” things started happening quickly. My initiation was scheduled for just two days after I spoke with […]

Gmail Tip #62: Enhancement: “Univeral Navigation Bar”

Google has recently enhanced some navigational features across most of its offerings by providing a recognizable and (somewhat) consistent "Universal Navigation Bar" at the top left of every page:       This feature lets you quickly move to other Google applications with ease (and without having to remember the URL!) Read on for a brief description of the new interface… A source at Google explains that the Universal Navigation Bar will show its "nearest neighbors". This means that, depending on what Google page you are on, the choice of links will differ, presenting you with "related" Google offerings. For example, on a Google search results page, you’d see links to "Images" and "News", because those are related search offerings. On the other hand, if you are in Gmail, you’ll see links to Google’s "Calendar" and "Documents" applications instead.   Here is an example of the Universal Navigator Bar as […]

SageTV Tip #9: HD Content With HDHomeRun

I purchased an HDHomeRun receiver, and I now have access to four "local broadcast" HD channels through SageTV! The channels seamlessly show up in SageTV’s Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and I can now view and record any show on those channels. And any HD content vews, records, and plays back in full HD glory! Read on to see my experience with this excellent product… Some Background On HD In The PVR World HD content is typically provided in one of three ways: Satellite, Cable, and Over-the-air (OTA). Unfortunately for PVR applications like SageTV, Satellite providers encrypt all channels, so a Set-Top-Box (STB) is required to receive HD content. And in almost all cases, there is no PC-compatible output on the STB to pass through the HD content to be able to record the (true) HD content. Cable providers also encrypt most channels and therefore also require a STB for decoding. […]

Gmail Tip #58: Gmail Now Opened to Everyone!

Gmail, Google’s free Web-based email service, has swept the world, and has become very, very popular. Unfortunately, access to Gmail (and Google Mail in the UK) has always been by by invitation only. But no more! Anyone can now get a Gmail account. Just go to and click the "Sign up for Gmail" link. It’s that simple! But having a Gmail account means more than just Web-based email. A Gmail account opens the door to many other excellent  Google-related applications and services. By creating a Gmail account, you will gain access to personalize other Google-based applications including Google Maps, Google News, Picasa 2, Google Pages, Google Reader, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, and lots of other goodies. Admittedly, getting a Gmail invitation has not been a problem for most, but this should open up Gmail to a much larger audience. Oh, and as always, come here for your Gmail tips!

SageTV Tip #6: STV Import Modules

The second type of SageTV customization is the STV Import Module, or "STVi". These plugins get imported into the default STV to provide additional features and functions. By simply installing a couple of these plugins, you can really improve upon SageTV’s already amazing core features. Read on to learn about some of the best SageTV STVi’s available…. For me, this is where SageTV really shines. By letting third-party developers create innovative plugins, SageTV has enabled the user to tailor his SageTV experience in ways that SageTV probably never dreamed of. Below is the current list of Plugins. The descriptions should be pretty self-explanatory, but I did provide links for you to see the details if you want. Note that the STVi’s marked with an "*" are the ones that I have installed on my SageTV system. I find these to be the best mix for my needs. "Dynamic Customisable Main […]

SageTV Tip #3: All About My SageTV HTPC

I decided to build a Home Theater PC (HTPC), and with SageTV at its core, it is proving to be an excellent choice. Read on to learn why I decided to build a HTPC, what componets I chose, the issues I had, and my plans for the future…. Why did I build an HTPC? I’ve been a long-time DVR user, having used several ReplayTV models and a Moxi HD DVR. Each of these "standalone" DVR’s have excellent features, are very capable, and have stood the test of time (I purchased the first ReplayTV box very shortly after its initial release.) That said, there are three issues that were bugging me that caused me to decide to build an HTPC to replace them: 1. None of my ReplayTV boxes could reliably control our Motorola DCT-2000 Cable box. Unfortunately, cable companies don’t give you a lot of choice in Digital Cable boxes, […]

PDAs: Palm Z22 Review

I’ve been trying to simplify my life, and one area is in my use of PDAs. I realized that my PDA use tends to have more to do with tweaking and trying to make the device work better than actually using it as a productivity tool. (See my article "PDAs: Back To The Basics".) So, after some pondering and research, I decided to "step down" to a Palm Z22 PDA. After a couple weeks of use, I have to say that I just love it! No, it’s not feature-packed like other high-end PDAs on the market–in fact, it’s much simpler in design and function. But that was my goal: to simplify. Read on for a review of this fine PDA…. In my "PDAs: Back To The Basics" article, I explained the benefits of the slimmed-down Z22 PDA, but here, I’m going to get into more of the technical details, including […]

PDAs: Back To The Basics

A recent article on discussed moving to the Palm Z22 as a method of simplifying things got me thinking about just how I use my PDA. I have been reading David Allan’s book "Getting Things Done" (GTD), and it has prompted some serious pondering about the fact that so many things in my life are simply way too complicated. I’m trying to make "simplicity" my new mantra, and one area of complexity that I have noticed is my use of my Palm PDA. Read on to see how I have simplified by PDA use by embracing a more simple PDA … I am a long-time user and proponent of PDAs with my first being a Casio "Zoomer" PDA way back in 1993. {mosimage} The Casio Zoomer was an amazing PDA that was unfortunatly overshadowed by the Apple Newton’s popularity. Interestingly, the Zoomer had an optional version of the Graffiti […]