tech tips

Nook e

I don’t really forget about this blog, I just have a hard time updating any of them.  Posterous has really made it more convenient by adding posts by email.  I use to tweet once in a while from my phone, but once I could post pictures and short notes to my blog with an email from my phone, then it made it so much easier.  This was especially true when I got my Android phone.  I posted a few times from my Windows Mobile phone, but the camera was enough better on my new phone to make a difference.  I have a huge post on Android and its apps that I haven’t posted, yet.  I’ll have to clean it up and do that before it’s too old, but back to the happenings from the last couple weeks…

Today at work, I had a question come up that I have looked into some, but really wish I knew more about.  The question was what was the best way to get Google Books on to an eReader and how much would it cost?  I recently bought my wife a Barnes & Noble Nook ebook reader – so I was leaning that way, but the Kindle is the name most people recognize right away.  I did a little research before buying the Nook, but each one has its own strengths.  I’m a big fan of Amazon and had always bought books for her from there, among everything else in the world I’ve bought from there.  It’s off topic, but Amazon Prime is awesome.  But the Barnes & Noble reader runs Android, of which I’m also a huge fan.  The Barnes & Noble book store offers the same books at similar prices, but has a little more flexibility with adding your own books, and I thought getting books from Google was one of the options.  I’ll have to look into that to see how easy it is.  The newest Nook software has an internet browser and other fun things included.  The Nook also has the color touch screen for browsing books.  These are the things that pushed me to chose the Nook – and so far she has been happy with the decision.  We got her the 3g version, but she is recommending the WiFi version to her mom – you can’t beat the $150 price tag now.  I wish it was that cheap when I bought hers.  I’m also wanting to see how hard it is to log on as her to my iPod or Android phone to read the same books.  I don’t read much – ok, I don’t read at all – but it would be nice to know that i could if I wanted to, or she could use my iPod or phone if she forgot her Nook.

As for other features, we thought it was really cool that you could lend books with the Nook, this isn’t possible on the Kindle.  But then again, 14 days isn’t very long and the only person she’s really going to lend books to is her mom, so they could just trade Nooks.  (That sounds funny, I may have to change what I’m calling it.)  I’d like to see how the future of e-Book readers changes with the size and color print.  I think they need to advance a little in the technology to be really useful in schools as text books, or to be known as reference books.  It would be cool to have the Nook sitting next to me and be able to pull up an article from Wikipedia to read about something on I saw TV, or maybe to look up a word in the dictionary or thesaurus.  I’m sure some of this is possible, but I think it should be quicker to do and quicker to change pages and scan a technology book for an answer.

So as for ebooks, I guess overall I’d recommend the Barnes & Noble Nook, but the Amazon Kindle would be a very close #2.  As for other options, I think the Sony would be cheapest and most flexible if you didn’t need 3g and were converting and loading your own books.  And I know Borders is coming out with one soon, but I don’t know much about it.  Then, of course, there’s always the iPad – if you can afford it. It uses a different technology for the screen, but I’ve heard its still pretty easy to read.  The iPad also has a world of other stuff to offer besides just reading from the iBook store, including reading your Kindle or Nook books.  I’m surprised Apple is finally letting people decide how they want to get their media, kinda.

Posterous

I’m just starting to play with Posterous and getting it setup for my blog.  I love the idea and can’t wait to get started.  They have an iPhone app, work with about every social network and they guys there are smart and easy to work with.  So it’s time I get more into “micro-blogging” and back into updating my regular blog again.

Tech: Twitter

There’s so much buzz going on about Twitter right now, especially with Ashton Kutcher beating CNN to 1,000,000 followers. I think I joined about a year ago, but hadn’t really heard much about it being applicable to me until RAGBRAI posted any tweets with the hashtag #RAGBRAI in them to the Des Moines Register’s website.  I thought this was a creative way to share with everyone, basically from your phone while on RAGBRAI.  Then like everybody else, I made a couple “tweets” that said, “Just trying to figure this out”. I didn’t really understand it, but liked to follow a local band and see what they were up to and where they were performing. Once I had followed them for a while, I started to learn how it works and some of the lingo. I felt pretty dumb trying to Google “RT” and what the “@” or “#” meant. For those friends of mine that aren’t on twitter, which you must not be, I only know about 10 people on there compared to the hundreds on facebook or myspace, “RT” stands for retweet. Which means, when someone in your network says something you like, then you retweet it to your network, trying to spread the word or show gratitude to the person that originally posted it. And it’s abbreviated to obviously save characters since you can only use 140. So back to the showing graditude and giving credit, when retweeting be sure to put a “@” before the person that orginally posted the tweet. You also use the “@” to reply to someone. So if you’re answering their question, or just saying something to them publicly then use the @. Next the “#” which is to note a subject or event that you want to point out. With search.twitter.com parsing every tweet this isn’t as important anymore until you are trying to point out something with a common name as something else less unique. I can’t think of a good example right now, so that’s not much help. Also if you’re going to use a hashtag, be sure to use the same one that everyone else is using so the tweets can be grouped. Often an event will have an abrieviated tag so that it’s shorter, those can be found on hashtags.org.  Which brings me to one of the cooler features of Twitter. Twitter Search, which was acquired by Twitter from Summize, will show the most popular words mentioned in all tweets. Then it shows the top 10 “trends”, this will usually tell you what’s going on at the time, like earthquakes in California, who got kicked off of American Idol, or bombings in Mumbai. If your timing is right you will find out about stuff before it’s in the news. Here’s a twitpic from the plane that landed in the Hudson twitpic.com/135xa, it was a first hand picture taken among the many that made it to twitter before the news was on TV. Twitpic is an easy way to send pictures from your phone or computer and have them resize the pic, then automatically post a link to your twitter account with a note about it. The one from this link is probably the most popular twitpic ever, although I perfer this one from Ashton twitpic.com/2bj58. There are tons of other applications built by people outside of twitter that aggregate similar tweets, or messages from the same geographical area.

It’s a fun service, that has been popular in the tech area, but just went crazy when celebrities starting using opening up a whole new level of communication between celebs and their fans. There are a few things that bug me about twitter. For 1, I hate that some people make it out to be a big popularity contest. To be honest, who cares if Ashton has more followers than CNN or me as far as that goes. I think you get more out of it if you actually interact and read your feed instead of just trying to get the most people to follow you. I guess it’s kind of a cool feeling to be listed as a top for some catagory (http://wefollow.com/tag/omaha), but that’s not really my goal. This also leads me to how people try to use it to market themselves. Once again, it has been amazing the traffic that it has brought to my site, but I’m not out there saying how cool I am, and how good I am at stuff and how I can make you money. I just don’t get that, I guess maybe it’s cause I don’t have to rely on it for an income, but I just want to use it as a socializing tool, and yes find out about some new cool blogs and people along the way. The marketing part is real annoying people will follow you to get you to follow them back, then they will remove you from their list and just spam you with “how to make millions” messages. I’m pretty generous, I’ll follow anybody that looks like they are following me, because they are interested. I also go back and check to make sure that the people I’m following are following me back (http://friendorfollow.com/). There are quite a few people I will still follow if they’re not following me, but mostly it’s the people that added me first then removed me. There are a few tools that make it easy to follow as many people as you want and sort through them. I use Tweetdeck the most, but Seesmic or Twirl are other good ones. They allow you to create groups and follow a small number of people more closely. I like to follow people from the Omaha & Des Moines areas just to see what’s going on in the area. I’ve found out about some pretty cool startups and interesting entrepenuers. They also annouce local Tweetups, to get a chance to meet people in the area and network in person.  I also have groups for celebrities, musicians, and “tech celebs”, I think they are the ones that really have brought twitter to where it is and have the most interesting ideas on how to use it.

Everyone has their own methods to get their tweets out. The most popular is the web, but Twitter was originally intended for using your cell phone to send and receive text messages. I use both of those, then also Tweetie on my iPod touch, PockeTwit on my Windows Mobile phone, then Tweetdeck on my computer and Friendfeed from the web. I’m still playing with using other clients from my desktop at home. I’m also still customizing Friendfeed. It’s actually a way to agregate many web services, but I use to to read my friends tweets, you can check out my web activities there at friendfeed.com/oneniner . I like to follow a lot of people and sort through their messages, but I don’t get why not everybody will follow back. I have the hardest time getting half as many followers as the people I’d like to follow. For some reason most of the local people I follow don’t follow back, I don’t really care since it’s not a contest, I just don’t think it’d be that hard especially with some of the ways I mentioned to group your friends. Pretty soon, I’ll reach the 2,000 cap and not have enough people following me to follow more people, but oh well, I guess we’ll wait till I get there. I was pretty excited that I finally got to 500 followers and I did it in a fair way, I wasn’t tricking people into adding me. It’s especially good since I don’t post as much as some people do. So if you like the status updates in Facebook, there’s a ton more cool interesting things going on around twitter, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but try it out, follow me, I’ll follow you back and just take your time getting comfortable, you’ll catch on pretty fast. Then it’ll be too late and you’ll be addicted.

Tech: Photo Editing

I’ve been a fan of all aspects of photography for a while.  I’m not a pro by any means, but I find it entertaining to take the perfect shot, then to edit the picture on your own and get it out to your friends and family to enjoy.  What little artistic ability I have, I got from my mom.  She is very artistic and loves to do everything by hand.  I wouldn’t even be able to name all of the stuff she’s worked on, but everything from drawing with pastels, oil paint, & charcoal to pottery, sculptures, and more recently a little tech related with editing photography on the computer.  That’s the area that gets me excited, because I can use my tech experience to help.

I recently got more excited about this with the purchase of an iMac.  I’ve been wanting to learn more and dig more into the photo & video editing with a little web design on the side, so I figured, what better way.  I haven’t gotten the chance to use iPhoto yet, but here’s a few tools I like to use and would recommend.  I use Google’s Picasa 3 to organize all my pictures.  It’s a basic and easy to understand program that can actually be pretty powerful if you want it to be.  I also use Picasa’s web galleries to display most of my pictures with my family and friends.  Picasa makes it easy to just make a few minor changes and easily upload them for free.  One of the advanced features are that it will let you make batch edits to multiple files.  This is nice when you took a lot of pictures inside in bad light, it will try to auto fix the whole folder to make them look nice in a hurry.  The web gallery has face recognition, which will organize all the pictures with similar looking faces to let you name who that person is.  This came in handy for me, when Amy and I went on a vaction and took probably a thousand pictures, but only wanted to send the ones of other people to them.  Then a few other good pictures that we marked with Picasa’s star feature.  If you’ve had problems finding pictures like I have, you’d like Picasa’s photo tagging.  It took a little work to get started, but I like to tag each picture with who’s in it and what was going on, whether it was an event or a holiday or something significant.  It’s necesary to take the people, location, or date if you use Picasa’s other features, but it doesn’t hurt.  Speaking of location Picasa will geotag your photos with the location they were taken, showing them on a simple google map, or even exporting them to Google Earth, espeically fun for people that travel a lot.  It also intergrates well with the other places you would like to use your photos, like uploading to blogs or even to a Facebook photo album.  I use this feature to upload a few of my favorites to Facebook to share with my friends.

As for editing pictures and giving them artistic effects, I usually turn to Picnik.com.  It is an awesome free site with some amazing features.  You upload your picture, then it shows all these options on how to change the photo and make it unique.  It’s much easier than having the 500 page book & second job that Photoshop would require.  Just a few clicks and you’re ready to save the picture back to your computer or share it to a web gallery.  I shouldn’t knock Photoshop too much. They have a verynice site, photoshop.com, that also lets you edit pictures online.  I’ve used it a few times, but I like Picnik a lot more.  Picnik really lets you bring out that inner artist and you can be as dramatic as you’d like.  If you’ve seen those pictures around facebook that looks like a polaroid, then Picnik is probably what they used.  It’s one of their options for borders.  They also have a facebook app, that works pretty smooth.  Most of the features are free, but there is an option to pay a little bit to get more features.  I think it lets you save more of your past photos and a few other things.

I’ve also heard good things about GIMP & Paint.Net.  I haven’t actually used either, but both are free programs used to edit pictures.  And if you’re willing to pay a little, I’ve used Adobe Photoshop Elements and it’s not too bad either.  I’m looking to have iPhoto fill this area for me to see what it can do.

The most fun part of photography for me is sharing the pictures with people.  Flickr has a great web community, I just haven’t started using it as much as I’d like.  I used to use Yahoo photos and those albums got converted to Flickr, I just haven’t done anything with it yet.  As I mentioned above Facebook has become the most popular place to share pictures among other social networking sites.  I use PicasaWeb for most of my pictures, then I put my favorites out on Facebook, and I just have a few of the main ones in MySpace.  Another fun way to share photos is using TwitPic and sending them through  Twitter.  Like  tweets, most of these pictures are from cell phones, when you just want a quick easy way to share them, not always the best quality.  I’d use TwitPic when I’m on the go and I see something cool, or when I just don’t have a camera handy.

Next to the really fun part, bringing those still frames to life.  I used to use Windows Movie Maker or other slideshow tools, but one of the really cool web ones that I discovered is Animoto.  This site will upload about 10-15 pictures and put them to some of their music to make a 30 second music video.  I’ve shared my most recent one above.  I just threw some pictures in there to see what it could do, but this has some really cool posibilities.  Like Picnik, there is a paid premium version to make full length videos that cost something like $3 a video.  Which really isn’t much when you think about it.  Then you can download them to your computer to play on your ipod or other media devices.  Animoto will also let you upload the videos to your YouTube account or embed them into a webpage.  I’ve used the embed feature above, the YouTube upload is nice again because of the community they have.  You get a lot of views on their site.  Speaking of video sites, I like use YouTube and Vimeo to upload my slideshows that I’ve made on my computer, because I think the HD quality is a little better than YouTubes.  I’ll put one of those video’s below (note to see the HD version, you have to click on it to go to the site).  Vimeo and Viddler are both YouTube competitors if you’re looking for somewhere else to post videos.

I can’t mention all the stuff I like without mentioning where I heard about some of it and some of my resources.  I enjoy listening to Scott Bourne on the MacBreak Weekly Podcast, then he also has his own blog/podcast called TWiPPhoto (This Week in Photography).  Another site of his I find interesting is Scottcritiques, basically you upload your pictures and he tells you how bad they are.  It’s not really that harsh, but I haven’t uploaded any of my own photos or it probably would be.  It’s definately intersting though.  Lifehacker is also a good source for finding cheap, efficient tools to help you out, especially when you’re wanting to find that free tool, that does a simple task.

Lastly, you can’t spend so much time on your pictures and videos without backing them up.  Some people don’t realize tell their hard drive crashes and it’s too late.  My backup system isn’t too extensive right now, anytime I work on stuff I run a manual backup to an external drive, then store the external drive in a firesafe box, but I’m really wanting to get a Drobo to replace my external drive, then I would have data redundancy similar to a RAID array and could backup more data than I do on my 300GB external drive.  Another service, I’d like to try out is to backup my important data to an Amazon S3 server.  You can use their storage in the cloud and pay for how much data you upload to them per month.  This way if you have a fire you can pull all your stuff back from the web.  This kinda takes backups to the next level, but I think it’s important.  You can read more about “Managing Your Digital Life” from another Scott Bourne site.  I know another shameless plug, but I’m working on getting me a drobo and saving some money.

These are just a few things that have made my photo editing more fun, if I missed any please let me know, I’m always looking forward to try new things or save some time & money here and there.  I’ve also linked to a few of my sites that I use, feel free to add me or look around.

Jamaica from Nolan Carson on Vimeo.

Google, Cool-gle

I recently figured out Google Apps, and it has to be one of the coolest things. I’ve been a fan of Google since I first heard their name. I wish I would’ve bought some stock at the time. I’d love to have the opportunity to work for them. I’m sure you’ve heard about their bennies. They are in the top of the Fortune list. So anyways, back to this Google Apps stuff. I have recently added my Google blog, calendar, start page, docs and even GMail to my own domain, oneniner.com.

GMail is the coolest part of it all. By going to http://mail.oneniner.com I can log into my oneniner.com email addresses that I have created and named. The catch is GMail hosts them and it saves me the storage and work of having to host them myselves. And all this is FREE!!! I’m as google’s mercy as far as makeing sure the servers are up, but I don’t think that’s a bad gamble.

What’s next? I can’t beleive the ideas they come up with and how well they pull them off.

MySpace vs Facebook

I’m sure everyone has atleast heard of these to web giants right now. The debate comes to whether or not these sites give information out too freely or if they are a gateway for “bad things” to happen with younger users. I have accounts with both and would be confident in saying that you are in control of how much info is out there. Both sites do a good job of regulating thinks to a certain point so that you don’t accidently put information that you don’t want seen. Many people complain about the new features that FaceBook added which provide updates to friends on what is going on with your profile. Each of these features can be limited or disabled, so it’s kind of silly for someone to complain. This is one of the features that I think makes FaceBook better than MySpace. I’m also partial to the way that it networks your friends and makes searching a little easier, among other things.

I really have enjoyed both sites for the fact that I have been able to keep in touch with high school friends that I haven’t talked to in 10 years. This is by far the biggest reason that everyone should join. I would have to say that the quizes get a little old, but the customizations of the site can show your creative side. Feel free to add me and mention that you read about it from my blog. The links are off to the right.

So what other sites like this are out there? I’ve recently joined TagWorld, it is very similar, but near as popular yet. If you’re interested in soccer at all, Nike & Google have put together a pretty nice soccer version called Joga. The one that I have most recently looked into is WAYN. This site uses your geographical location and the trips you are making to associate people together. Kind of an interesting idea, when people travel and move so much. Lastly is LinkedIn. This is a site for networking from the business side. Where employees can find other employees they work with to use for references and information on other jobs or companies. Again I haven’t dug to deep yet, but I’m sure I will be here in a month or two when I get into the job hunt a little more.

So why didn’t somebody think of this years ago. I mean chat rooms have been popular forever. I wish I was Mr. MySpace right now. Someday I’m going stumble across, the thing that makes my millions.

Signed In (Away)

So I’m trying to develop a new webpage, but I keep on getting distracted by other stuff. Does anybody else find it hard to concentrate on one thing when their sitting in front of their computer. I have 3 instant messanger programs going, atleast 3 email addresses I receive email on, then MySpace & FaceBook which are as addicting as crack. Let alone I’m trying to stay up on this blog thing and my gf keeps texting me on my cell. I guess it’s just a sign of the times, that technology has made people so readily available. I guess I don’t really mind, but my webpage is falling behind. Enough ranting about that.

There are a ton of other cool things technology wise that keep my away from the work I want to do. Here are a few, let me know in your comments if you have any others. The first 3 sites were recommended by my buddy G. He and I are co-workers in the IT department.

LifeHacker – this site has all kinds of tricks and kinds of software to make things easier.
Engadget – a cool site with all the newest in technology gadgets. I really shouldn’t be looking at this site, cause I love gadgets.
FatWallet – the place to go to find deals on the coolest gadgets, and anything else as far as that goes, you need cheap toilet paper in Texas, look here first.
Slashdot – News for Nerds, enough said.

There’s a few other’s I go to, but I can’t think of them. If you ever need to know how to fix something, be sure to do a search on Google or the site for the source of your problem. I’m sure somebody out there has had the same problem before. Even though sometimes we feel like we have to of been the first. This will save your uncles, brother’s, nephew’s friend that works on computers some time if you can solve it on your own, trust me.

Google, is a whole other topic I’ll have to discuss some other time. I love that place. They have done some incredible things and I’m looking forward to what they have up their sleeves.

My First Blog…


So I’m trying to get into the whole blogging thing, but things don’t just come to me when I’m sitting front of the computer. I’m actually pretty creative usually. There’s alot to this blogging stuff that I don’t understand. First of all, who would want to read my blog. I’m not sure what I have that makes me that much different than anybody else. Maybe I should tell you a little about myself first.

I have a wonderful girlfriend named Amy. She is from Omaha, NE and still goes to school at Simpson College. Which is my Alma Mater. I played football and baseball there, and currently coach football (running backs). I also coach high school girls soccer in Newton. I’ve been doing the coaching thing for 4 years now and I’ve decided it’s a field that I’ll never be able to get out of. I’ll be coaching my great-great-grand kids at the sports that are invented by the time they are playing. And I’ll still be telling stories about the 2003-2006 soccer and football teams.

I am also an IT professional currently working for the Maytag Corporation. I started here in November 2003 as a temp and then was hired full-time 2 months later. I’ve been working as an IT Customer Support Analyst and was recently promoted to a level 2 analyst. I’ve worked in many different areas, but most recently in SAP Basis & web development, but continuing first and second level support to Maytag employees. We were recently acquired by the Whrilpool Corporation and my position has been transitioned. On March 1st, I will no longer be employed by Maytag/Whrilpool.

The name oneniner has a lot of meaning to me. It sounds like a silly screen name that I made up to be unique on the millions of sites that I have signed up on, but it comes from the number 19. When my dad was growing up the number 19 was lucky to his father (my grandfather). His father died when he was young, and therefor I never got to meet my grandfather on his side. When I was starting to play sports I was talking to my dad about what numbers I should choose. I always prefered 9, but never thought of double digit numbers as lucky until I had this talk with my dad. He was telling about the meaning that the number 19 had to him, so I decided to adopt the number as my number. So all though highschool sports I was number 19. The only sport I couldn’t be 19 was basketball because in high school nobody has any digits over 5 in their numbers, but for football, soccer, and baseball I wore the number. In football I started my carreer playing quarterback so the number fit my position perfectly, then my senior year I moved to playing defensive line. I was probably the only defensive linemen in the state wearing 19. The nickname Oneniner came from baseball season. It just kinda grew on me from hearing people say “lets go one-niner”. So I decided Oneniner is now my nickname. Nobody has ever called me that, but I have used it online every since ncarson was gone from the hotmail database in 1996.