Friday, December 21, 2007

Dopplr - Radar for the Web (2.0, That Is!)

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that since my daughter was born, my already sporadic posting to any of my other blogs has become even more infrequent (if that's even possible!). All I can say is that anything worth posting about really has be significant in order to divert my attention away from my daughter. Let's face it, she's not going down without a fight!

Well, as an all-too-frequent traveller, I have to say that I'm thrilled with the new Dopplr which just opened up to the public. It's a great way to combine blogging, photos and connect with other travellers, no matter what city you happen to find yourself in!

C'mon, admit it. As a traveller, you get sick of eating in chain restaraunts and you're always looking for that opportunity to savor the best cuisine a locality can offer. (And deep in your heart you know that the best is never going to be Applebee's...) Or you find you've got 4 hours until you need to be at the airport, a rental car and no where to go. What do you do? Me, I go shopping...which has to stop because I have diapers and formula and diapers and formula and diapers and formula and diapers and formula...well, I have baby stuff to buy at home.

So c'mon peeps - join up and start telling me where to go! Trust me, an invitation like this doesn't come along very often!

Monday, July 23, 2007

My Favorite Web Services

Okay, for those of you who troll the MonkShack on a regular (or maybe less than regular?) basis, you've probably noticed that I've added some new stuff - feeds from Twitter and Jaiku, a community map from Frappr, a blog aggregator from Tumblr...and the list goes on. I figured it was about time I actually chronicle them in one spot so you can add these fun tools to your website too!

Some of my current faves are:
  • Twitter
    Twitter is a social networking, text messaging site. I love because I can post to it using a simple text message. Great for those times when internet connections are few and far between. Plus, you can get updates from your friends when they post on their Twitters...Of course, that means you have to have 1) friends and 2) friends with Twitters. Another cool feature is their mobile interface - one of the best I've found - at You'll also want to check out and, two applications that will help you become as addicated to Twitter as I am.
  • Tumblr
    Tumblr is a great blog aggregator. If you're anything like me, you're almost always posting something, just in many different locations. I have something like 11 blogs that I post to on a (relatively) regular basis. Different topics or subjects go on different blogs, etc. I generally try to not cross certain blog-boundaries. But to remember what I posted or where I posted it, impossible. I simply don't have the brainpower. Plus, if someone was looking for all of my blog posts, well...they'd have a lot of work to do with Tumblr. I added Tumblr to the MonkShack in an effort to help everyone find everything I write. I'm really just that considerate. Plus, they allow custom urls, so if you already have a domain name, you can use that for a Tumblr of your very own! Mine is at
  • Frappr
    Frapper allows you add maps of where your site visitors are from. Users can actually enter some basic stuff about themselves when they create a Frappr account (free, of course...I'm cheap!) and it becomes part of the log of visitors to your site! Much better than any stupid ol' guestbook.

Ok, that's all I have time for now. Trust me, there's more, but its going to have to wait for a follow-up post. I simply have to get to blogging...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fixing Unrelated Email Subjects

I'd dedicated today to clean my Inbox, after a week and half of vacation (and two weeks of travel before that), I figured it was a pretty ambitious goal to get done in one day. As I was wading through the clutter, trying to get rid of the stuff I didn't need to read and evaluating questionable emails (a new system I'm trying - delete stuff where the subject doesn't seem relevant to me first, then evaluate emails with questionable subjects to narrow down my focus to the stuff that really needs my got a better idea?), I came across a few of the dreaded "replied to" emails where the content is completely separate from the title in the subject.

Now, I know, I've struggled with the for ages. I've tried to teach people not to do this. I've preached about this in countless presentations. I've replied just to change the subject line. But that still hasn't helped me when I'm managing my own emails. Today, I realized that I have the power to keep emails in my inbox subject-related. Maybe you've figured this out long ago and I'm just slow to catch on, but in the off chance that you haven't here's what you can do...

Change the subject for emails you've received where the subject and the actual content don't match.

Sounds too easy to be true, right? Well, maybe that's why I never thought you could do it. Or maybe it couldn't be done in Outlook 2003 but it can be in Outlook 2007. Whatever - you should try it, if it works, great! If not, you're back on your own.

In Outlook 2007, even though the subject of the email isn't highlighted or given any indication that its an editable field, it is. When you open an email you've received, you can click on the subject line and then enter whatever text you want. Lets face it, if people are going to change, at least they don't have to drag you down in chaos with them. We can rise above it and keep ourselves organized and focused. Yea us.

Then just close the message and Outlook will prompt you with a warning - do you want to save these changes? Damn right I do! I'm right, I'm always right - when will everyone else realize that?

Ta-da! Now the email that was previously (and erroneously) subjected is now on-topic and sensible. I'm in heaven! Join me on Cloud 9!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I'd Almost Forgotten...

Somehow, it had almost completely slipped my mind that I signed up for a Grand Central account. One of the features of VoIP that I love is the ability to have all of your phone numbers ring simultaneously, then whichever phone you pick up is the one that takes the call. Grand Central offers that, along with some other really cool features...

I'd almost forgotten until I received an email announcing that they'd been purchased by Google. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I guess I'll have to wait to find out...

In the meantime, sign up for your own number today!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Jott - A New Addiction

Have you ever wanted to send an email, but didn't feel like opening your laptop and logging in, just to send it? Or maybe typing a message on your Blackberry was just too much work. And sending an email via your cell phone would be so much more effort than it was worth?

Well, my fine-feathered friends, you're in luck. My latest addiction may free me from typing short messages forever! Aren't you curious? You should be! I've just started using Jott ( and am so very excited about it! It's definitely a double pant on my dog-approval scale (pant, pant).

Why don't you check it out and send me a, jott of your very own!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

My "New" iPod Mini

I have to say, my Zune now has some competition. At least for audio podcasts and music. Thanks to Keri's purchase of a new Apple laptop, which came with a free, new iPod, I have inherited Rachel's old iPod Mini. It's blue, to match my eyes, which I appreciate. But more importantly, I now feel affirmed in my original comparison review of the iPod and the Zune. The iPod is so much easier for podcasts and music, plus the battery life is so much better. The Zune still holds my heart for video podcasts and video content, despite its limited battery life.

I have to say, I wasn't too thrilled having to add iTunes to my workstation - it took almost 24 hours to sort through all of my mp3s and load them into the library. Maybe I need to cull my music collection...but I'm really bad with the delete button. Of course, I've always been bad throwing things away - that's why our garage is packed full.

I'm loving of my newest faves is net@nite from - give it a listen. Maybe it's just me, but Leo Laporte's voice is very soothing - I think he must have some reverb added to deepen it, but maybe it's all natural.

The one podcast I can't find is All Things Considered on NPR. I thought for sure they offered a podcast, but I can't seem to find it anywhere. Anyone want to point to the link that is so obvious that I can't find it? Please?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tumble This

I've been playing around alot lately with a number of content aggregators and presence-based web tools. Some of it comes from the fact that I write content in so many places, that its hard for anyone to find it - sometimes myself, too! I've also realized that I need to make be more of a focal point for accessing all of my published content. Now that there are homes on the web for everything from text to videos, I've really been trying to figure out a) which of the services that are out there do I like, and b) which ones might actually be around in three to five years.

It's harder than it sounds! At last count, I have something like eleven (yes, that 11, for those of you that are numerically impaired) blogs that I post content to. Crazy, right? Well, I try to keep the content somewhat localized within each of my blogs to help you, dear reader, only read what interests you (as if anyone's reading them anyway).

My latest addition, joining the ranks of Twitter and Jaiku, is Tumblr. I've added my tumblr to the MonkShack at Will someone please check it out and let me know what you think? C'mon, would one little, itty bitty comment hurt you all that much? I don't think so...

Scaredy cat, scaredy cat....
(what can I say, it worked in second grade, I figured it was worth a shot now!)

A Disposable Telephone Number? How Cool!

Have you ever wanted to give someone your phone number only to have second thoughts as the numbers spewed from your mouth? Maybe it was a new acquaintance, a distant relative (or sometimes a close one...) or maybe you just posted an ad on, but didn't want to have you're real phone number published for all to see.

Whatever the situation, its obvious (at least to me) that there are time when you really need to be reachable by someone, but you also don't want to ALWAYS be reachable by that certain someone. With the growing use of disposable email accounts (, - even offers them, how much more mainstream can you get?), doesn't it make perfect sense to use something similar for your phone number?

Granted, there are more laws and regulations that can protect you from someone stalking you by using your telephone number, but who wants to deal with the courts and the police just to admit you were stupid by giving out your phone number in the first place? Here's a great solution for everyone...check out more at!

Friday, June 15, 2007

My Strobe XP 100 Scanner

You know you're a geek when you carry around a portable scanner. I've been doing it for years, pretty much since I started my current job and have had to fill out expense reports on a regular basis.

There's nothing nicer than being able to scan in receipts at downtime in airports or hotels before you actually get home. It makes submitting the expense report so much easier! I highly recommend it!

That being said, I have to confess I've not been thrilled with my Stobe XP 100 by Visioneer. While it's size and weight is fantastic, and the scans are great for any scanner, it's major flaw is its user interface. The one-touch button is virtually useless as it can't be configured to scan directly into Adobe Acrobat or any program other than PaperPort (which is so lousy I refuse to install it on my laptop). Of course you can still use the scanner with any other application by opening the application and initiating the scan using that applications interface, but it kinda defeats the purpose of having a one-touch button, doesn't it?

Maybe I'm just complaining for the sake of complaining...after all, I've managed to use it for years - and it's still working. After the beating it's taken and the miles it (and I) have logged, maybe I should be glad that I haven't had to replace it. But then again, maybe I'm secretly longing for it give in to the rigors of the road so I can replace it with something better...that would definitely be in line with my geeky nature....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Making Air Travel Nicer...Please!

As someone who spends far too much time in airplanes, I appreciate any effort anyone makes to alleviate some of my (probably petty) annoyances. US News & World Report included some pointers in a recent article for new and veteran air travelers alike!

I'd highly recommend you check this out before you get on your next flight! Pretty please?

read more digg story

If you're looking for a guide for how to navigate security, check out my previous posting in Amazon's "So You'd Like To..." section by clicking here.

If you're in need of a good book to keep those darn extroverted sales reps out of your hair for the duration of the flight, check out my Amazon guide to the Best Books to Read While Flying...I'd guarantee each and every one of them if I could!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My New Phone

Okay, I know that y'all expect me to always have the latest and greatest when it comes to anything tech...well, when it comes to cell phones, I have to admit I've fallen behind the curve.

I went through a period a few years back where I was upgrading cell phones like they were going out of style. But somehow in my cell-phone-whoring, I came across the Nokia 6230 and fell in love. It was a small, candy-bar style phone that had everything I needed. In fact, I wound up keeping the darn thing for almost three years. (While that may seem short, in Shawn-world, that's almost an eternity!) Only recently did I start to have pangs for a better camera, larger screen, more customization options, etc.

The factor that threw me a curve was the price of some of the new cell phones on the market. Ones with all the bells and whistles were $500-700! Now, I may be a geek, but I'm not a wealthy geek. Even technology has its limits, and one of the big ones is price. If I can buy a laptop for the same price as a cell phone, there's something wrong with the universe. To appease my desire for a new cell phone, I did some research, dug around and came up with a suitable improvement over my current phone, but still not in the monthly-car-payment range. After waiting and watching some prices on eBay, I made the splurge and bought a used Nokia 6682. I was excited, it used the same battery and charger as my beloved 6230, meaning I wouldn't have to buy all new accessories (car charger, data cable, etc.). Then it arrived. Of course, it didn't work. A quick check on Nokia's site showed it was still under warranty, so I sent it off for fixin'. Turns out the website lied. It wasn't under warranty and would cost $150 to fix. (I'm cheap, remember?)

I happened to be in Denver when this news reached me and I reacted like a petulant child. I immediately hit the web and decided to get my idea phone, cost be damned. I wound up ordering an unlocked N80ie direct from Nokia. $500 smackers. But I wasn't done. I then went to Cingular's site to see if the new N75 from Nokia had arrived - it hadn't. But I did find the 8525 that integrated a Pocket PC with a phone....hmmm...that would mean I could "donate" my Pocket PC to my wife and have less to carry...intriguing. Plus, it offered 3G compatability for faster surfing, doubly intrigued. So I visited the Cingular store in Denver and upgraded to the 8525.

By the time I got home, the N80ie had arrived. I'd played with the 8525 for the whole trip and was once again reminded of how much I hate Windows Mobile. It awkward and clumsy and a pain in the ass to customize. It's bad enough that I have to deal with Windows on my laptop, I decided I definitely didn't want it on my cell phone! Even worse was the fact that I couldn't use the 8525 with only one hand - a definitely liability when you're running through airports as much as I am. Even worse, I had to add a data plan that added $30 to my cell phone bill. (Remember, I'm cheap?) So I returned the 8525 and focused my attention on the N80ie.

My first impression was that it was fat. No, not phat, just fat. The sliding keyboard thing sounded neat, even though I'd read in numerous reviews that it was too easy to slide. In reality, it was a pain-in-the-tuckus. Aside from a better camera, it wasn't that much of an improvement over the features of the 6682 (remember the phone that was sent for repairs to some facility in Minnesota?). Yeah, wifi sounded neat, but if I'm going to be surfing the web or checking email - its either going to be on my laptop or my Blackberry (laptop=web, Blackberry=email). So the N80ie was returned too.

That left me with my original 6230. After all of this, I simply wasn't going to admit defeat. So I went back to eBay and bought a new Cingular-branded 6682. Granted it cost me $200, but it was a brand-new phone and to date it worked beautifully. Great screen, great features (gotta love the Symbian OS!) and its a breeze to use with only one hand! Yes, I may have strange criteria for a cell phone, but they're born from experience - trust me.

Now the question is, what else can I do with it? Stay tuned as I try to max the sucker out...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Just finished Day 2 of Gramm-Leach-Bliley!

Here i am after just wrapping up Day 2 of my Gramm-Leach-Bliley workshop @ G-town! Do i look as tired as i feel?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Presenter's Dream!

I don't know what inspired me, but I had this sudden revelation during a recent presentation. Actually, it was just before the presentation when I was setting up my bluetooth mouse that I use to run the presentation. The batteries were dead.

I was mad. Then I looked over at my cell phone and's bluetooth. Why couldn't I just use that instead. Then I wouldn't I have to carry batteries or a separate mouse just for presenting. I don't know why I didn't think about it before!

Once I got home, I spent some time looking for something that would give me a clue as to whether or not this was even possible. By some miracle of Googling, I came across PuppetMaster. I was hoping to find something free, preferrably open source, but after I downloaded the trial version of PuppetMaster, I was hooked.

For $20, this is a must have for anyone who presents on a regular or semi-regular basis. It's a great way to control your laptop using your cell phone. It works not only on PowerPoint but also on a host of other applications. You can even use your cell phone as a mouse! It's awesome!

I don't often hawk software, but I this one is worth every penny!