The Lifelong Learner :: Do what you can, with what you have, where you are -Roosevelt ::

Archive for the 'Technology' Category

My Top 10 Products in 2010 January 4th, 2011
My Top 10 Firefox Extensions February 5th, 2010
2008 Products I Can't Live Without January 8th, 2009
I'm a Mac User: First Impressions May 15th, 2008
See How Fast You Type July 12th, 2006
Trulia, Zillow and RealEstateABC May 11th, 2006
2005 Products and Services I Love January 20th, 2006
2004 Products I Could Not Live Without December 31st, 2004
How I Get Off Mailing Lists December 29th, 2004
Local Google October 27th, 2004

My Top 10 Products in 2010

I try to do this every year. I compile a list of products that I cannot live without. These are products I use every day. My favorites.

It’s not only a Kindle reader, it’s the Kindle books I can read on my Droid X, on my Mac, at work, on the train. It’s everywhere and I love it.

Droid X
I got it this year as I switched jobs and we no longer have a Blackberry. I love it. I love the 4.3” screen. Love how fast it is. Camera could be better, some other things could be better as well, but I got it for the screen size and it delivers.

Intellij Idea 9
This is the first year I started using it as my IDE. And it became my #1 IDE. Not without issues. Not without some frustration. But it sucks the least. :) I hope it’s a mainstay in my development world.

It’s fast. It’s simple. It has extensions. Do I need more from a browser? :) I still use Firefox, and FF is still OK, but Chrome is better.

Windows 7
I switched, in 2009 I believe, to Ubuntu Linux. Just before the end of 2010 I switched back to Win7. It’s more polished. It’s better as a desktop. There are issues that annoyed me on Linux: can’t watch Netflix, no iTunes, Kindle, and other things. Windows 7 is a very good operating system. Better than Windows XP, I think.

If you’re into Twitter and Facebook and want to minimize the time you spend on them, TweetDeck is for you. That’s why I use. I can now also use it on my Droid. Love it.

Google Reader
I used to rely more on Bloglines. But they announced “out of business” message (supposedly somebody else acquired them). I wanted to separate my dev-related feeds with my personal ones, so that’s why I used both. Now I only use the Reader, with 2 accounts setup. Not the greatest, but I can’t find anything better.

No longer renting movies. Just streaming them. I have my bluray setup with Netflix. The sooner the “big guys” realize Netflix is for real and that people stopped buying DVDs, the better for them. I pay for Netflix and no longer buy DVDs — I don’t think that will change.

It’s the best picture manager that I know of. Simple, intuitive, fast. Do I need more? Plus, it’s available on a Mac.

If you want a blogging platform, WordPress is the best. I love it. (Though manual updates annoy me.)

What are your products you can’t live without?

My Top 10 Firefox Extensions

Here are my top 10 Firefox extensions that I use on a daily basis.

1. Morning Coffee
A very simple way to load your “morning” bookmarks.

2. Firebug
If you are a web developer, this is a must.

3. Delicious Bookmarks
I’m utilizing it more and more, and utilizing browser’s favorites less and less.

4. ScribeFire Blog Editor
An easy way to publish to my blogs.

5.  Adblock Plus
Unless you love ads, gotta have this extension.

6. LastTab
Very useful. Pressing Ctr+Tab switches to your previus tab.

7. Xmarks
Synchronizes your bookmarks across all computers. Beats manual synching.

8. Web Developer
Also a must for developers.

9. FireShot
Useful utility to take partial screen shots.

10. Download Status
I don’t like the default download dialog. This extension fixes that shortcoming.

P.S. Not on the list, though I now consider it a must have: Chrome! :-) It’s really a sleek browser! As more and more extensions are being developed for it, maybe I’ll create another Top-10 for Chrome! :-)

Do you have any that you love that are not on the list? Add it as a comment!

2008 Products I Can't Live Without

Here is a list of products that I discovered in 2008 and that I cannot live without. These are products that I use everyday, both at work and at home. Quite simply, I would not be able to live without them. Literally. :-)

Blackberry – internet on the goI can’t believe I have not started using it before. Perhaps because I did not get it from work. But internet on the go is here to stay. It’s so useful and practical. I started commuting to NYC on the train, what better way to convert the downtime to catching up on news, email, etc. Great tool. Great toy.

Picasa — great photo organizerI did not know I was hooked on it until I started using iPhoto on my Mac (Picasa was released for the mac just this month). I find Picasa so much better than iPhoto. Much easier to browse and I hate that iPhoto moves your images to its internal location. Picasa is just all you need to manage your “growing” photo collection.

Canon Xsi DSLR — great cameraI own a Canon Xsi and what a difference! I used to like those small digital cameras which take decent pictures. They’re very mobile, take them anywhere you go. But image quality is not that good. You only discover it after you use a DSLR. What a difference! And great fun as well. It’s cheap now as well ($500-600). Great toy!

Jungle Disk — Amazon Webservice — central storage of filesI had about a service like this for years. Now it’s a reality. Map your network drive to an external, internet-based storage. Now I can store my files and docs centrally, and access them on my Mac, at work, and on my PC. Great and simple to use.

Delicious – bookmarkingCentral storage of bookmarks is really useful. Accessing them by tags in your browser (Delicious Bookmarks extension for Firefox) is time saving. I can’t believe I stayed away from it for so long.

Rocket Dock — Mac-like docking station for WindowsIf you own a Mac, you know what I mean. It’s a great simplification tool and a productivity booster.

I'm a Mac User: First Impressions

I just bought a MacBook Pro and I started using it for the 1-st time yesterday. First impressions? I like it. It has great looks and so far it’s fairly easy to use. It’s fast!

But it’s different! I am used to Windows and I’ll have to adjust and find ways to do some more complicated things.

Wireless It has a Wireless N Wi-Fi receiver. It’s much faster and can reach X-times as wide as G. It’s the next generation Wi-Fi — but it takes forever to actually get approved by IEEE. I also liked it when it discovered my home network right when I was configuring the machine for first time. I was on the network in no time. No technical expertise required.

Keyboard It’s just beautiful. I love typing using it. The backlight is something really special.

Installing Applications Seems to simple to be true. I’m a big confused on how things work. I was able to install Skype and Firefox with no issues but I’ll have to get more comfortable with the process.

Files – Hard Disk I’m a bit confused where everything is located. Do I need to know? Not for now. :-) I’ll figure it out.

Users I setup two accounts on the computer. However, when I logoff, it seems that I have to shut down all applications. It can’t be true. I want my wife to login, do her stuff, etc, but I don’t want to close my open apps. It must be something I’m doing wrong.

Second OS I heard and have seen how you can run another operating system in parallel. I would love to use XP and Linux. Boot Camp allows you do that, but I think I might have to buy VMare to do that effectively. Will have to investigate about this.

Overall, it’s a thing of beauty. Great looks, elegant design. It’s a Mac! :-)

See How Fast You Type

Test your typing speed!

Try it several times and average it out. I tried it twice and my speed is around 80 words per minute. Not too bad, but could do a lot better. I guess I need to improve, but I think I keep improving year by year.

How fast can you type?

ReferenceHow fast can you type, Otaku Cedric’s post — that’s how I learned about this tool

Trulia, Zillow and RealEstateABC

If you’ve been following the real estate in US, you must have at least heard these names (if not tried them). If not, I’m going to recommend these as helpful to asses the housing market, and a great help in finding your next house.

They are all real estate tools: interactive websites that allow you to search and value the houses on the market in your area, and in United States overall. It is a site that I like the most. This site puts together listings of houses for sale in your area, as well as in the whole US (noticed this last week). As I take a look at houses for sale on my street (by walking or driving), I see 3 houses for sale; on Trulia I only find 1, but there are still a lot of houses listed in the area. There are a lot of listings and you get get a good indication of what the houses are going for. They also have email updates. I just signed up for one: they’ll send me a weekly update of houses for a town in NJ. I just discovered this site today and I’m already liking it. Why? Because it is putting the real information, information released by the authorities. How can I tell? I can see my parents house there and it displays the actual amount the house sold for. Wow. My parents bought a house in Garfield, NJ for $253K two years ago. Now the house can go for $350-400K. I think it is unrealistic that the houses went up so fast (has your pay increased 50-100%?). The site looks very good. However, I’m not so sure that it does a good job (at least not in Garfield). On the same site, my parents house is listed for $118K. They say it’s the tax-assessed value. Do I want to see that? How does it help me? Not sure. But I hear that in other areas it displays the actual value. Try it out.

Out of the three above, I prefer Trulia and RealEstateABC. Those tools are very cool. They give me the ability to see how much the house on the street is listed for, and then how much it actually sold. Those are tools that Internet savvy users have waited for. Finally they’re arriving. (We’ll see more of those, I think.)

ReferenceReal-Estate Snoops Use Sites To Find Prices of Others’ Houses, The Wall Street Journal Online

2005 Products and Services I Love

This was easy for me last year (see my entry, 2004 Products I Could Not Live Without), when I had a lot to choose from (I still use all of those programs, btw). But in 2005, there had not been a lot of products that I use on everyday basis. That was until last month, where I discovered two great services: reddit and digg. I use them everyday now and I get to read a lot of excellent material. I love it.

reddit.combest articles by users’ ratingsReddit is a source for what’s new and popular on the web. Entries (mostly articles) are referred by users and rated/ranked by users as well. I visit this site everyday, ever since it was recommended in an article by Paul Graham, and everyday (or almost) everyday I find great material to read. Topics are mostly non-technical but there is a lot of great stuff. I wish they had a top ranking for weekly and monthly, but great nonetheless.

digg.combest tech articles by users’ ratingsDigg is similar to what reddit is, but covers only technical material. It works better than reddit, as they have it broken to different categories, for which you can subscribe through RSS. Overall, I like it better than reddit, but reddit contains general information, so they cannot be compared on content. One of my favorite categories are design, software, programming, and toplinks thisweek (I subscribe to them separately through Bloglines, my RSS reader).

TaskSwitchXP Protask-switching programLike I said in this entry, Better Switching and Minimizing of Programs, if you use Alt+Tab to switch tasks, TaskSwitchXP is an upgrade to that. I started using Alt+Tab more often because of it. But the second very big benefit, and why I love this product, is the ability to minimize to tray. I’ve been looking for that for some time. This product works great.

Not a big list, but not bad, I think. But because I found reddit and digg, I’m finding more and more good stuff, so next year the list will probably be bigger (and better).

2004 Products I Could Not Live Without

Here is a list of products that I discovered in 2004. These are products that I use everyday, both at work and at home. Quite simply, I would not be able to live without them. Literally. :-)

Bloglines — RSS reader

Bloglines changed how I read news. Bloglines changed how I browse the internet. Bloglines gave me what I had always wanted: control of the internet. I read what I want, when I want. I don’t miss anything. There are so many RSS feeds out there (I even have several of my own on this domain — click on the xml image), that you can pretty much get what you want. I have 93 different feeds (and the list is growing). I read blogs. I read news. Bloglines is great. Not a day passes by without using it.

Firefox — browser

Like I said before, I had watched Mozilla struggle with their browser for years. Well, in 2004 they finally delivered a browser that is a lot better than Internet Explorer. I use Firefox all the time now. On a rare occasion, I am still required to use IE, but that’s once or twice a week. Firefox brought back the fun to my browsing experience.

Thunderbird — mail program

What is Thunderbird, you might ask. To me, it is a replacement of Microsoft Outlook. It is a mail client. It is sleek. It is fast. It is customizable. It has good IMAP support. I can’t live without it and I am very happy that I got off Outlook. Did I say how much it costs? Free.

Milenix MyInfo 2.6 — note-taking tool

What is MyInfo? I know you’re asking yourself that. I know, I know. Because not a lot of people use it. To me, though, MyInfo is like a notebook that I take with me everywhere I go. It is a note taking tool. I put all of my notes, goals, personal stuff, reference info, and more into it. It is a very small program but it’s very useful.

There you go, the list is short but I don’t use a lot of products on a daily basis.

How I Get Off Mailing Lists

I am tired of pre-approved credit card offers. I have several credit cards and I don’t want any more. I want to opt out from the list where these credit agencies get my name from. OK, Stas, go to this website and opt out: That’s what I did yesterday. We’ll see what happens. :-)

I am also tired of unwanted letters in the mail. I only want to open letters that are of interest to me. I have to say that after signing up for this service, Mail Preference Service (MPS), I receive a lot less junk (just like you get less calls after signing up for do-not-call list). I’m seeing that my wife is getting a lot more junk mail now — I signed her up last week. :-) You have to mail a letter to them.

So that’s how I keep myself from opening unwanted letters.

Local Google

Are you looking for coffee shops in the area where you live? No? Are you looking for barber shops in your area? No? Are you looking for anything in your area and want an easier way of finding it? Sure you do. Google Local to the rescue! It let’s you search in your area. Plus, it shows you the location in the presented, zoomable map. Wow! It’s amazing what Google is doing. (Maybe their stock price is where it should be? :) )

Google Local: check it out for yourself!

I remember a professor in my freshman year in college talking about this. He said, that in the future you’ll be able to search locally. That’s exactly what this is. I believed in what he said, as it made sense. It was just dificult to do. And now, localized searches are almost a reality (almost, because I don’t know if this is 100% effective). This will be big!

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