Archives: May 2009

GOOG 411 Now Offers Intersection Information

goog-411Don’t you hate it when technology cuts you down to size? Take GOOG 411 for example. The wonderful free directory assistance tool from Google NEVER understands what I have to say – EVER. It’s so bad, that at one point I called another automated system just to make sure I wasn’t having a seizure or something.

While the voice recognition technology might not be desirable, the purpose of the app is. And starting today you can get audio info on geographic content. A no-brainer from the folks who have evolved maps into the 21st century. Read more

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Ballmer On Bing

ABC’s Charlie Gibson fired up his Webcam to interview Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer about his company’s new search engine Bing. (Here’s the CNet review).

Ballmer was only cautiously optimistic that Bing can top Google at its own best game. But Ballmer says he’s certain his company has a clearly different point of view on how to do a web search.

Here’s the first part of Gibson’s interview:

The “World News” webcast is available every weekday at 3pmET as a live stream embedded on the homepage of After the initial streaming, the webcast is available for replay on, as a video podcast on iTunes, via RSS readers and on mobile phones.

Last100′s Nokia N97 Smartphone Video Overview: N97 Looks Sluggish

YouTube video courtesy of last100dotcom has an interesting video tour of the upcoming Nokia N97 touchscreen smartphone (embedded video above)…

Hands-on impressions of Nokia’s N97

Couple of observations based on the video

- Camera has a lens cover (34 sec. mark)
- App launching and screen rendering looks very sluggish (39 sec. mark). I noticed a lot intervals of blank blue screens throughout the video demo
- The accelerometer is not used to switch from portrait to landscape viewing mode. You need to pull out the keyboard to switch to landscape. This is the way the Android-based T-Mobile G1 worked until its recent Cupcake update. (51 sec. mark)

It will be an interesting summer with the N98, Palm Pre, rumored new iPhone and a bunch of new Android and Windows Mobile smartphone schedule for launches.

Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting for Color Kindle E-ink Displays

A few weeks ago I noted…

Color E-ink Displays in Progress But It May be a Long Wait

Color versions of the E-ink grayscale display used by the various Kindle models have been in testing since at least 2005 based on the prototype photos shown on E-ink’s site. But, we haven’t seen anything in production despite the work that has presumably gone into it over the years since then.

This AFP report says that…

Color Kindle ‘multiple’ years away: Amazon CEO

The article goes on to report that CEO Jeff Bezos has seen lab prototypes and that they are not ready for prime time. So, if you want to read ebooks on a color screen, you’ll have to use conventional display technology like the one found on the iPhone and iPod touch using Amazon’s Kindle app for that platform.

Al Roker Gets Himself in Hot Twatter

Roker_5.29.bmpThursday morning as Matt Lauer welcomed guests back to the Today show he mentioned that Al Roker had to leave early for jury duty.

And off Roker went, downtown to perform his civic duty. With his iPhone in hand, Tweeting as he went.

And that’s when the trouble started. The Daily News reports “Roker’s postings set the blogosphere atwitter and in no time his pictures of jurors – their faces mostly blurred – popped up on and other Web sites.”

Here are some of Al’s Tweets from yesterday morning.

I’m not breaking laws…just trying to share the experience of jury duty. One that I think is important and everyone should take part in

So everyone is clear, I am NOT taking pictures in the courtroom. I am in the jury lounge. So folks need to lighten up.

Therre (sic) is something very cool about being here

Must be a slow news day. Was stalked by video-razzi from TMZ and the NY POST because I posted a pic from the jury room on Twitter.

Whew. Learned a lesson. No, I repeat, no court personnel told me it was ok. Going back into the courtroom, iPhone buried deep in my bag.

And here’s one from this morning:

Well, citizens of the United States of Twitterville, it was a fun day yesterday, with jury duty and twitpicking when I shouldn’t. Now onward

David Bookstaver, chief spokesman for the court system tells the Daily News, “It came to my attention and I reached out to the chief jury clerk” who asked Roker to cease and desist.

While Bookstaver praised Roker for doing his civic duty, he said the Tweeting was “ill-advised” but not illegal.”

And despite being “stalked” by TMZ, Roker still gave a Tweet-out to the site/show and its chief.

I will say this: I am thrilled that is following me on Twitter. Harvey is THE legal eagle.

Linpus Launching Moblin V2 Version of Linpus Linux Lite for Netbooks

Linpus Linux Lite is the Linux version (or distro in the parlance) that ships with the Acer Aspire One unless you choose to get Windows XP. I first saw it last summer when I bought a first generation Acer Aspire One netbook with an SSD (solid state disk). As a long time experience UNIX and Linux user, I thought Linpus did a pretty good job of providing a simple but capable graphical interface for non-techie customers. But, as time went on I ran into a number of compatibility issues with Linpus. The most notable was the inability to install Adobe AIR on it although earlier alpha releases had installed and functioned. I ended up wiping out Linpus and installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR). I suspect Linpus must have been hearing this story a lot, because they are announcing…

At Computex, June 2 – 6th, Linpus debuts Moblin V2 version of Linpus Linux Lite with Linpus and Intel UI versions

So, it looks like Linpus is dumping the Fedora Linux version that shipped with my Aspire One in favor of the Intel/Novell developed Moblin 2.0.

I recently tested Moblin 2.0 beta by installing it as a Guest OS in virtual machine using VirtualBox 2.2.2 running on a Windows Vista PC. I was so underwhelmed by what I saw while trying Moblin that I decided not to pursue it any further. Ubuntu Netbook Remix is providing a good enough solution for my Linux netbook needs. That said, Linpus’ decision makes sense since Moblin is the only netbook-tuned alternative they can turn to that can compete with UNR.

If you want to try Moblin without sacrificing a physical netbook, you can find information about a simple pair of setting tweaks you need to make for a VirtualBox VM that lets you install and test Moblin on any Mac, Windows PC or Linux PC at…

Configuring VirtualBox to run Moblin 2.0 Beta

Palm Describes More webOS Features Before D-Day Launch: Media Sync, Twitter Search, App Catalog

Palm and Sprint launch the much anticipated and oddly named Palm Pre next week Saturday (and an odd day to launch a phone) on June 6. Why did Palm and Sprint choose the 65th anniversary of D-Day (the Invasion of Normandy during World War II)? Do they see the Palm Pre as a combat attack on the iPhone and AT&T?

In any case, they chose a mere week before their D-Day to announce three previously unmentioned webOS features…

Palm Unveils More webOS Details: Palm Media Sync, Twitter Integration, App Catalog

1. Palm Media Sync: Synchronize with Apple iTunes to transfer music, photos and videos. This feature will work with both Windows PCs and Macs.

2. Twitter in Universal Search: webOS will search Twitter as well as internal databases like contacts and external services like Google and Wikipedia.

3. App Catalog: I guess this wasn’t exactly a new announcement and definitely expected. But, an app store is a must these days. The only major platform that doesn’t have one at the moment is Windows Mobile.

Finally Got to Use the Nokia Ovi Store: Initial Impressions


I was finally able to use the Nokia Ovi Store which was launched earlier this week. It can be found at…

…on the web. And, if you visit it from your Nokia smartphone, you are given the option to install an Ovi Store app. Note that you need to register a username and password and provide a mobile phone number before you can access the store or download the app.

While Google’s Android Marketplace is only available on the phone itself and you need to either use the iTunes app on your desktop or iPhone to access the iTunes app store, Nokia’s Ovi Store is accessible either over the web or directly from the phone. App lists tend to load very slowly on my Nokia N96 connected to the Internet via a 802.11g WiFi connection.

I had mixed results with the various free downloads I tried. As you can see in the photo above, the AP News app installed successfully but the Skyfire browser installed failed from the Ovi Store just as it did when I tried to download and install it directly from Skyfire’s web site. I think I was able to successfully download a Star Trek ringtone. I say “I think” because it did not show up in my list of ringtones when I searched for it. The Ovi Store did not let me attempt a second download since it decided the first one was successful.

Nokia’s Ovi Store is a much needed part of the ecosystem for Nokia smartphone owners. However, it needs to render much faster in its dedicated app if Nokia wants customers to browse it frequently for new apps.

Gizmodo Previews T-Mobile G2 (HTC Magic US) Android Smartphone

YouTube video courtesy of Android Community/SlashGear

Here’s another interesting item from Gizmodo…

T-Mobile G2 (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved Award

The T-Mobile G1 was the first phone based on Google Android and can probably considered, at the very least, a modest success despite launching with the smallest of the major U.S. wireless carriers (T-Mobile) and having a number of shortcomings such as poor battery life and the inability to install more than a two dozen or so major applications before running out of system storage (you can’t install apps to the external flash storage card).

HTC released the follow-up HTC Magic Android-based smartphone in Europe and it will probably be released as the T-Mobile G2 in the U.S. You can see HTC’s Eric Lin demonstrating the Magic in the video embedded above to get an idea of what the G2/Magic is like.

As I said in the past, it is an attractive looking unit that holds absolutely no interest for me because of its lack of a physical QWERTY thumb keyboard (which the G1 has). I’m also disappointed that the G2 has a navigation nub instead of the G1′s mini-trackball. The mini-trackball had a few issues. But, I’m sure a bit of re-engineering would have resolved them and produced a really great mobile navigation control.