Everyone who uses a web browser should use this tool.

If you want to save a lot of time with your online browsing, research, and other common tasks (like email) then you should use Hyperwords which is a plugin for the Firefox web browser (also works with Flock).

My good friend Ami Givertz just recommended it on a phone discussion we had yesterday and I’m really appreciative of his recommending it and paying his info knowledge forward. So, here’s my contribution to keep the chain going.

Get Hyperwords Now.

Watch the demo.

GrandCentral bug and the ultimate GrandCentral Hack

Hurry GrandCentral guys please fix this one ASAP!

I’m addicted to GrandCentral, the one-number service that rings all your phone numbers at once plus a whole lot more. I’ve got a bug to share with my fellow GrandCentral users and a few points that you might find helpful in using the service.

Don’t miss my GrandCentral call recording hack at the end of this post – you can use it to keep your service providers honest when you cancel their service and they later magically deny having heard from you.

First the bug

The problem comes if you disconnect one of your phone lines and forget to update GrandCentral. Like a lot of other GrandCentral users I typically have 3 to 4 phone lines hooked up to my GrandCentral line:

1) home
2) office
3) primary mobile
4) secondary mobile

My secondary mobile is the one that I use to evaluate mobile phone carriers and phones. It changes frequently. The other day I disconnected my latest trial phone with a Helio Fin (awesome features / boring as hell) and Helio Drift (fun as hell but missing a few things) and forgot to take the number out of Grandcentral.

The result? Complete failure.

No ringy dingy on any phone even though ALL my other lines were operational. If my friend and I hadn’t been IM’ing I would never have known. GrandCentral, please fix this. I recognize that people don’t all carry second cell phones and change them all the time but your GrandCentral users DO change their numbers – it’s a primary reason people want a SMART number platform like GrandCentral in the first place.

I’ve used one-numbers or SMART numbers for a long time. I still use Accessline as my drop-dead-reliable-one-number and so does IBM. Er, I guess that means I have two one-numbers which is kind of sad. But I’ll keep Accessline for the $20 a month I pay for it until GrandCentral is completely out of beta and 100% bug free. Then there’s the question of what Google will do to GC. Hmmmm, let me guess – text link ads everywhere on the web site and voice over ads when you call in to check messages. That will drive us to pay money for their service just to shut the ads off. No problem, I’m in!

And here’s why I’ll pay.

Three things I love that are unique about GrandCentral

  • Lets you transfer live calls to your other phones.  You need to walk out the door to a meeting or to get your kids and you’re no longer chained to your office phone. Never be late again. 🙂
  • Let’s you record in-bound phone calls for podcasting or the ultimate in note taking (don’t worry it tells your callers even if you forget to, saving you from an embarrassing trip to jail). I have a hack for this for outbound calls (see below)
  • Listen in to callers leaving you a voicemail with the ability to pick up and take the call at anytime. It’s like your ol’ mechanical answering machine from 1982 but without the fake wood grain and all the vagaries of microcasette tapes.

The outbound call recording hack for GrandCentral

aka AT&T/Sprint/Verizon/Comcast/Adelphia/Time Warner/DirecTV

Now on to that hack for recording outbound calls. These instructions sound convoluted but they’re really not. If you can handle using two phones and a web browser then you can do this. The only requirement is that you have two phones and since you’re interested in GrandCentral this should be a no-brainer. These instructions assume you’ll make the outbound call from a land line at your home or office but it works with any combo.

  1. Login to GC web site and head over to settings
  2. Uncheck your land line phone from the list of active phones (you don’t need to delete it – just uncheck it so it won’t ring when someone calls your GC line)
  3. Now call your own GC number from the landline phone you just unchecked in your GC settings
  4. Your cell phone rings. (power user tip: put it on vibrate for a cheap thrill)
  5. Answer your cell phone, it is YOU after all. Now mute your cell phone.
  6. Now from your land line place a three-way call to the person/company you want to record. Don’t forget to join the calls – usually by hitting the TALK or CALL key again on your phone keypad.
  7. When you get your party on the line explain that you want to record the call. Then hit the 4 key on your cell phone (hitting 4 on an inbound GC call turns call recording on).
  8. Record away
  9. When you’re done you can simply hang up both of your phones or you can hit 4 again to turn call recording off. If you want to turn call recording on/off during the call just use 4 to toggle. Great when your client wants to trash their boss!

Since Google purchased GrandCentral they’ve demanded that GC avtivate an automated greeting when you turn call recording on to prevent untold litigation against the Googleplex. Smart move since call recording is illegal in some states when you don’t tell the other party you’re recording them.

about that jail thing… 

Now, I’m not suggesting that you do this, but for those of you in states where IT IS legal to record conversations WITHOUT telling the other party you can always turn call recording ON at your cell phone BEFORE you make your three-way call. The message about call recording will come on but since you haven’t dialed your other party they’ll never know. Now you three-way the person you want to call and record. Again, user-beware, check your own local, state and federal laws before considering this.

Keep in mind that the power in call recording really serves you BEST when everyone knows. It’s not just a question of staying on the right side of the law. For example when you turn on voice recording for note taking purposes both you and your other party relax. You both know that you won’t miss something important. I use this all the time with web site design so I can make sure I’ve nailed down all my action items. And if you’re podcasting it’s really easy to download the file from GrandCentral and then edit it in your favorite recorder.

Second, when you’re calling someone like a service provider to get help or cancel your service you WANT them to put their best foot forward. Call recording DOES that. If you cancel, you can rest assured that the customer service rep who has just heard a message saying that they’re being recorded WON’T “forget” to cancel your service. And if they’re bold enough to do so, or if they make an honest mistake, you have a record of your conversation.

No other smart number service has ever had this much power. It’s no surprise that Google bought them. Keep up the good work GrandCentral.

p.s. If you need a beta invite I’ve horded a few.

[tags]Grandcentral smart-number, one-number, call-recording[/tags]

check out my tumblr


I’ve got a weblog or two (or 6) and I’ve been wanting to aggregate all my blog posts in one place and put them under my main url julians.name which I don’t use at present (only blog.julians.name).  I also want to include my other postings from identity tools like Twitter and Flickr. This is Lifestreaming. 

There’s a lifestreaming plugin and other LS resources for WordPress (like these here featured on krynsky.com) but I like the idea of using something off-the-shelf that’s easy to setup and maintain. At present the available WP plugins for lifestreaming are anything but. Enter tumblelogs as a possible solution.

I started a tumblelog on https://julians.tumblr.com yesterday. What’s a tumblelog you ask?

“To make a simple analogy: If blogs are journals, tumblelogs are scrapbooks.

You can also look at tumblelogs as slightly more structured blogs that make it easier, faster, and more fun to post and share stuff you find or create.”

That’s what leading tumblelog service tumblr has to say on the topic.  In the past year I’ve been hearing about tumblelogs and they’ve always been presented to me as something akin to microblogging like Twitter (and similar to how tumblr themselves presents them). That’s good but I already microblog on Twitter and there you have the benefit of being part of a community and conversation.  On the down side Twitter doesn’t capture video, pics and other media well like tumblr can.

Yesterday via Twitter Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion presented Tumblelogs as a great lifestreaming solution. Now tumblelogs don’t seem redundant to my efforts on Twitter and elsewhere. SO I’ve plugged in to give tumblr a try. On this topic it seems to me like Jaiku gets you most of the tools that tumblr would have from a lifestreaming perspective with the addition of friends/community.

One thing I really like about tumblr is that you can use your own url for no additional charge – that’s good stuff and I may use one that is hanging around, like jinfinite8.com, since that’s the ID I use on all my online tools and communities.

Stay tuned and check out my tumblelog for an all-in-one place to see what’s happening in life – mine that is.

Got ya spammers – captcha!

Hi Friends, family and guests.

If you’re commenting on my blog you’ll notice a new addition that looks like this.


It prevents very annoying site spam. The downside is that it also can be annoying for people like you to fill out who are just trying to leave a comment! But hold on, there’s an upside for you!

I thought you’d like to know that your perseverance in filling out my captcha will also help with the accurate digitization of history. You see, those words you type in my captcha I’m using to fight comment spam are words that have been scanned from real books by an optical character recognition tool. People are digitizing books for easy access in online form. Carnegie Mellon University is behind this (thank you).

Picture 1
The problem as you may know is that OCR doesn’t bloody work! Too many mistakes, especially in older, harder to read books. That’s where we come in. The words you type in reCaptcha will be used to correct the OCR work of books that Carnegie Mellon is performing. Brilliant!

More here. Don’t forget that you can get reCaptcha for your site.

[tags]captcha, comment spam, spam tools[/tags]

My Friend Ami – part time lifestreaming

I was having a nice chat with my good friend Ami just yesterday. We covered a lot of topics as we typically do from social mores, business, social networking, media, philosophy, blogs, web development, family, psychology, and I think a couple of others.

I was explaining that I get overwhelmed by blogging because I have so many blogs. Hard to keep up with them all and I don’t! He told me he had an answer to that and directed me to this new site https://amitaigivertz.blogspot.com. It’s an Ami Portal page of sorts – an aggregation of everthing Ami online. Like me, Ami has a lot of online presence to manage and he found that using blogger (Google’s off the shelf and ever so popular and easy to use blog tool) along with a leveraged use of RSS feeds has delivered him unto us. Perfect.

I’ve had this exact idea in my head for at least a year now. I already own my own name as a url and I would aggregate content on my name for all my different properties. Of course I would have to launch another blog and then find a good wordpress tool to accept all the feeds. I know they’re out there I just don’t use them and so don’ t know their names. The idea is that if I was to aggregate my blogs you would see that I actually DO update my personal blog pretty frequently. My other blogs run in spurts. BUT, if I (and you) knew without having to check that there was activity on my other blogs I would find it easier to stick with my other blogs (because I do REALLY like posting to them all). I could have one blog about everything and this is a perfectly good solution but it doesn’t work for people who find blogs because of a specific interest. I would have the satisfaction of seeing the efforts of my work in one place.

Rather than wank on with all the technical stuff as I am want to do Ami just used blogger and he’s done. Rather nice that. I imagine it didn’t take him long to do it either. He accomplished everything I want to do and he’s already done. I think that’s just fantastic. That’s the power of using off-the-shelf web apps and not worrying yourself over silly things like custom urls which don’t really matter in the end anyway. People just need one address – one place, a jumping off point to launch you into everything you are doing online.

Ami, you asked me to drop by your site and I have and I will. I love that I can find out what you’re doing by going to your site EVEN though I already track your every move on Google Reader. I like visiting sites. I will enjoy visiting yours. You have inspired me to get my online life aggregation finished – one way or the other.

And about that web 3.0 definition you wrote about (aka the semantic web.

I like to summarize web 3.0 or the semantic web as the personification of the web. I’m sure I nicked that off someone but if so I couldn’t tell you when or who. I believe that all the amazing underlying technology that is being developed to drive the next generation of the web will and should have only one purpose – to make the web more human – to make the web even more intuitive – to amplify and more accurately represent US – the people.

There you have it, my wank is done for the day.


The depths of my stupidity

The depths of my stupidity? Let me count the ways.

Today I was loading the latest version of Last.fm on my Mac when my typical computing reverie was smashed with a simple little arrow that I had not noticed before.

Yes, the huge gray arrow in the picture above. In my defense, not all Mac applications for OSX feature an Applications folder within their install folder – just a lot of ’em.

What I’ve always done at this point BT (before today) is drag the in to my hard drive Applications folder. Presto, the app is installed.

“To install Last.fm on your Mac, drag the Last.fm icon in to your Applications folder.”

I’ve been doing it this way for the 2 1/2 years that I’ve been using my Mac. Today, that Last.dm graphic made me stop. And I wondered…Does this mean I can drag the Last.fm application to my Applications folder all from within this one window without needing to open my hard drive and Applications folder?

Yeah, that’s right. It works. I’ve been a bonehead for 2 1/2 years in one more area. This one is rather painful since I install apps almost every day and I am a ‘computer expert.’ Hah!

As for those written instructions that were designed for reading…

“To install Last.fm on your Mac, drag the Last.fm icon in to your Applications folder.”

First off, I stopped reading them after the first time I would have read them 2 1/2 years ago. Lock in – lock out. Second, they do say “in to your Applications folder” and not “in the the Applications folder in this window.” Third, not all apps have them. Example below. Then again, I’m probably in a small percentage of dufuses who interpreted the instructions incorrectly.

copy to applications folder on Mac OSX

[tags]Mac OSX, Apple, Mac[/tags]

Cingular BlackJack Long Term Review

I purchased the Cingular BlackJack (aka Samsung i-607) from Cingular on the day it was released. Why? It was one of their very first 3G phones and it looked gorgeous! A Windows SMARTphone that is thin and light – it packs a ton of features into a small, good looking package. Watch my video below to learn about this SMARTphone’s pitfalls and why I still love it for all its warts. Would I buy it again? Yes, it’s still the best overall multifunction PDA on the market from my perspective.

[tags]vlog, vlogging, Cell phone review, Mobile Phone review, tethered, phone modem, modem, high speed, 3G, Cingular, Cingular 3G, HSDPA[/tags]

Vlog Vlogging Video podcasting – why not

Well, there are a lot of reasons that I shouldn’t podcast, mainly that I talk too much, and mostly because I say too little. At least when I write I can edit out some of the drivel. In the end though I’m too interested in technology, social media, and the Internet to let everyone else make all this user generated video content and not play around a bit with it myself.

Equipment has always been a barrier for me – especially finding a decent web cam to use. I read recently about using your camcorder as a high-end web cam and the hack attracted me. I wanted to set up a good web cam for me and the kids so Shannon could see us on her business travels and Max and Charlie could see me from California. We’ve tried this before but it’s never really worked. Perhaps using the camcorder will help make it a more permanent solution. That and video podcasting.

I purchased a 6-pin to 4-pin Firewire cable (aka IEEE 1394 cable) from CompUSA today so I could hook my Mac Powerbook up to my 7 year old digital camcorder. Everything worked the first time I plugged it in. I then signed up with the free service called ustream.tv that lets you both record and stream live web cam podcasts. The most popular content creators are now attracting thousands of viewers for their live shows and it’s actually pretty fun to watch some of them.

So, here’s my test on ustream. The audio is horrid, as is the content, but it’s a start. First order of business is to figure out a decent and inexpensive microphone.