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Christian Nimsky's Weblog

Ultimate Home Vociemail

Christian Nimsky

Back when I traveled a lot I tried out this new service called SimulScribe because it represented a much better way to triage and return voicemail after landing at the airport, where it is difficult to write down voicemails you have received in-flight and return the calls as you catch a cab.  Now called PhoneTag (sorry guys, your new brand just doesn’t resonate with me so I’m going to refer to it as SimulScribe hereforward) the service takes voicemail and transcribes it as text which is sent to you as an email, along with the original attachment should you need to hear it yourself.  It is very accurate and as much a “life changer” as TiVo is for TV viewing. 

I was so enthusiastic that I got my wife an account of her own for her birthday and we are now happy users.  We wanted to apply the same functionality to our home phone to deal with the endless stream of soccer practice updates, voicemails from the kids’ school, playdate proposals from BFFs (best-friends-forever), etc.  but without paying for a third account.  We found a way to do so by capitalizing on one of SimulScribe’s most useful features.  Read on…

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Questions For the LHC

Christian Nimsky

In the spirit of firing up the Large Hardron Collider, I recently read (well, listened to on audio) A Briefer History of Time by Hawking and Mlodinow.  Even though I had more than my share of phyisics and math in college I prefer this, ah, more accessible version.  It’s a nice short read that gives some context to the questions we’re trying to answer with the LHC.


This Won't Hurt a Bit - Hold Still Please...

Christian Nimsky

lhc.jpg

(c) CERN, Image courtesy of Boston.comJust wanted to point out some great photos (and humorous user comments) on Boston.com of the Large Hadron Collider, which at 27km long is the largest particle accelerator and one of the most important scientific experiments of our time.  My favorite user-generated one-liner: “I hope it’s not running Windows Vista.” Its amazing to see such beautiful photos of technology that could change our understanding of the very fabric of our universe.  Thanks to Brad Feld for posting about this; otherwise I wouldn’t have seen it.

Super Bluetooth

Christian Nimsky

BlueAnt Supertooth IIIHere in California as the much publicized cellphone laws have gone into effect I’ve had to start wearing my earbud.  All the time.  Now while my earbud - a Plantronics 910 - is a great earbud, when I used it in the car previously it was more for when I had a big call to do.  Short “yes I’m on my way home” calls didn’t warrant the earbud in my mind.

For the past few weeks I’ve been wearing it religiously and it’s kind of a pain to do that: I don’t like having to carry an earbud and then either be faced with the job of keeping track of the darn thing - they’re small - or wearing it all the time and looking like “one of the earbud people.”   Some people still aren’t sure if it’s good to have a transmitter on the side of your head either.  So, we bought a portable battery powered bluetooth speakerphone for our two non-speakerphone commuter cars.  Our first was a Parrot Minikit, and the other was the BlueAnt Supertooth III. 

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Travel Light & Charge Anything

Christian Nimsky

Last year I read a book called The Four Hour Workweek which contains not only a thought-provoking philosophy but also little tips and tricks the author has learned along the way.  One of those tips was using a Solio charger to simplify the task of packing all the chargers for your electronic gadgets.

I bought one of the original Solio devices and was impressed.  Recently they’ve improved upon it however with the Solio Magnesium Edition. 

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Easy Does It With My Identity!

Christian Nimsky

I’ve enjoyed Plaxo’s ability to sync address data between multiple services for a while and I even enjoy their new Pulse product.  But the two are too integrated without enough control around contact info updates.  This week when I installed their Mac OS X Sync conduit to sync up my address book it took some old email addresses that I no longer use and evidently today the Plaxo service chose to broadcast those out to presumably everyone.  They weren’t work email addresses and I didn’t authorize Plaxo to do the broadcast.

After I did the sync yesterday I noticed an email asking me to confirm that a current email address was in fact mine.  I clicked on the link, logged in as myself and instead of some confirmation acknowledgement I saw that Plaxo had sent a “Pulse” update like this one:

plaxomisfire.jpg
plaxomisfire.jpg

What are you thinking Plaxo?!  If I wanted to broadcast new info out to everyone via Pulse, I would do so.  I don’t need you to take some address book sync - an operation that can often do funny things with old contact information - and automatically broadcast it without asking me. 

To the gang at Plaxo: I like where you are headed conceptually with your new services but you have got to realize you are now in the identity management business.  With that in mind, please put some gates around personal identity updates.  After I uninstall your sync conduit it will take me a while to fully trust you with my data again. 

Airport Express Tricks

Christian Nimsky

I have never used any of the Airport Express’ multimedia features and I don’t intend to.  On overnight trips I carry an Apple Airport Express with me because it is simple, small, travel-friendly way to share an internet connection.  The other night, I found out a new reason to carry one with me.

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Initial MacBook Air Opinions

Christian Nimsky

I’ve had the new MacBook Air for a few days now and I like it.  I ordered the 1.8Ghz model with the 64GB solid-state drive and, if I were to believe all the professional reviews, I have overpaid for a Mac that can’t keep up with a regular MacBook or Mac Mini, much less a MacBook Pro.

I own an Mac Mini and a MacBook Pro, and my reaction to those assertions is that speed and power aren’t the driving point although this Mac Air holds its own.  The MacBook Air is a well designed product and it’s useful, even without 5 expansion ports and a DVD drive.  My reaction to the design is that Apple is taking another step toward having an appliance with you 24/7.  It might be an iPhone.  Maybe a MacBook Air.  Whatever the machine, they want to be with you all the time.  That strikes me as the quintessential new media viewpoint - instead of “tune into me” Apple is sort of saying, “I will go along with you.  I’ll be there.”

That’s pretty cool.  Now if they could just increase the battery life on this thing and round off the edge of the keyboard that grates on my wrists as I type this note I’d be a completely satisfied camper…

Gasping for Air

Christian Nimsky

 

I haven’t posted for a while because I’ve been super-busy with a startup that I’m working on and with travel.  The title of this post has nothing to do with that however — rather I am breathlessly waiting for my Macbook Air to arrive and Apple is driving me crazy by shipping every single little accessory I ordered before shipping me what I really want: The Air.

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Why Is Renting an SUV So Hard?

Christian Nimsky

One of the reasons people buy SUVs is because they like to take road trips.  They may not need the size or cargo hauling capacity on a day-to-day basis but for packing up the kids and going somewhere - particularly if you need 4WD - SUVs are great.  We have owned an SUV and recently concluded a two-year stint of renting them for road trips.  Our conclusion: If you’re particular about your ride - or about getting an SUV period - for your road trip, either rent a day or two in advance of your trip or have a backup plan.  Or both.

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Apple Airport Extreme Now Supports TMobile UMA

Christian Nimsky

A while back I commented on how TMobile’s UMA service was not supported by Apple’s Airport Extreme N wireless router/access point.

As a result I had to run a second Wi-Fi network just for the TMobile phone. For some strange reason last week I thought I’d try the TMobile again after doing an Airport firmware upgrade and now it works on the Airport quite reliably…cool!

Thanks Steve!

Dead Buttons Unravel Society

Christian Nimsky

Dead Buttons Unravel Society

The parking structure elevators at the Southwest terminal at LAX have buttons that do not illuminate when pressed, even though they used to.

It's interesting to watch how people's behavior changes in light of such a circumstance. All the normal rules of "elevator decorum" dissolve and near anarchy results.

So for great people-watching hang out at the parking elevators at LAX Terminal 1.

What's With The Appletude?

Christian Nimsky

The past year or so since getting a Macbook Pro I’ve been a fairly vocal Apple fan, but a couple incidents recently leave me wondering if they are running the risk of alienating their best customers - the early adopters who will pay premium amounts to have the latest gear that looks good and works well.

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Wrapping up a busy week

Christian Nimsky

Been kinda quiet here this past week or so - one of the things I did was attend the first annual Defrag Conference in Denver.  Get a group of extremely smart people together to address a large issue (the implicit web) and some interesting things happen.

Sean Ammirati has posted a good summary of the conference.  It was nice to go to an event that wasn’t 50% PR fodder and it was nice to meet some people like Jeremy and Brad whose blogs I’ve been following for a while.

T-Mobile UMA pays off

Christian Nimsky

T-Mobile UMA pays off

Just checked into my hotel in NYC and I am looking out at another tall building just yards outside my window.

The lack of a good view - aside from illustrating the lack of "status" I have with this particular hotel - also means I am stuck in a brick canyon with no cellular signal. At all.

So when I connected my Airport Express router to the hotel's free high speed dataport, I now have UMA and the coverage issue is gone.

---sent from my Blackberry 8820 over UMA

More Smoke

Christian Nimsky

Smoke as seen from space - Image courtesy of NASA/MODIS Rapid Response
Smoke as seen from space - Image courtesy of NASA/MODIS Rapid Response

Image courtesy of NASA/MODIS Rapid Response.

Another smoky day in paradise, though in our neighborhood we have things much easier than folks in San Diego who are calling their own answering machines to see if their houses are still standing. 

*Cough*

Christian Nimsky

Southern California Fires

We have an air alert due to smoke and ash from fires burning in Southern California.  I’m working from home today and I stepped outside at lunch to find dirty cars, ash on the street and a yellow sun.

There normally would be a large hill (Palos Verdes peninsula) easily visible over my neighbor’s house in this photo.

T-Mobile Blackberry Curve

Christian Nimsky

Usually I’m the kind of guy that tracks and buys the latest gadget.  This has been true for celphones for a number of years, but recently I’ve become jaded.  The iPhone came and went and I didn’t bat an eye.  Two weeks ago I found myself replacing my celphone after my trusty T-Mobile Blackberry Pearl suffered from acute gravity-induced shock syndrome, also known as a hard drop onto the sidewalk.  What I found when I went to the T-Mobile store was truly cool.

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Johnny Appleseed

Christian Nimsky

My daughter loves Johnny Appleseed.  She sings a Zak Morgan song about his story and recently had us buy her a book with a story about Johnny Appleseed.  I read the book to her tonight, the story of which largely parallels the lore contained in the song.  I chuckled at the fact that today some guy wandering around randomly planting apple trees everywhere he went would be accused of environmental irresponsibility at a minimum, and environmental terrorism in an extreme case.

Except that’s not what he did.  After my daughter finally went to bed, I looked him up in Wikipedia.  He evidently had a much more complex life, and I’m glad that I looked him up.  Go read about Johnny Appleseed

Back from NY And A Nasty Cold

Christian Nimsky

I took a business trip to New York this past week and then had a nasty cold, so I didn’t post much.  I’m pretty unfamiliar with New York, and unwittingly booked a hotel right next to the World Trade Center site (the Marriott Financial Center). 

One day I was there I used GMaps to try and find the WTC site and erroneously thought I should go about 7 blocks south.  I didn’t find it, went to a dinner I had scheduled at Nobu (in the area) and the next morning tried again by asking the doorman at the hotel.  When I asked he gave me a look like I was a serious idiot and now I know why.  I was right next to it the entire time.

If you find yourself in the area please go by and visit FDNY Station House #10.  These guys were involved in the recovery operation and lost men in the effort.  They have a memorial up and it is worth a visit.