« October 2007 | Main | December 2007 »

November 29, 2007

Thank you DIA

It must be tough running an airport.  When things go well, people pretty much take the airport for granted, but when a big storm parks itself over the airport and shuts down flights or an airline has trouble keeping their commitments for departing and arriving on time, the people running the airport take a lot of heat.

I myself am a frequent flier, and I'm pretty quick to think I could do it better when things aren't working well.  I've heard myself say more than once, "If I were running the airport there would be plenty of power outlets and WiFi would be free."  I hate paying for 24 hours of access just to sync Outlook for five minutes before I jump on a plane.

The people running the Denver International Airport (DIA) must be listening to their customers, because months ago I started noticing that more power outlets were available and now according to an article in the Denver Post by Elizabeth Aguilera, DIA is offering free WiFi service.  Thank you DIA, and the next time my flight is delayed, I'll try to remember that you are trying to make traveling a little more convenient for people like me.

November 29, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 24, 2007

Kindle ebook weekend update

Kindle2 I promised I would do an update after getting some experience with my new Amazon Kindle.  After only a few days, it's pretty clear to me that I won't be buying many more books of the paper and cardboard variety. 

Before you write me off as a techie who doesn't get how important real books are let me say that I love books.  If I had to choose between technology and books, I'd probably choose books.  And I have a lot of books - I'm going to guess I have about 2,000 books between my bookshelves at home and work.  I'll always love the books that where mine as a child, and books that were my dad's as a child.  I even have some of my grandfather's books.  No amount of electronics will ever replace them, so I get that paper-based book are important.

I also love the random books that fall in my hands when I'm traveling, or that friends give me because they know that I will want to read them.

So I love books, but mostly I love reading.  I love the way that I can escape, and learn, and focus, and create my own pictures.  And it turns out, I can do that without paper.  After having spent a long weekend with my new Kindle, I just went and deleted all the books on my amazon wishlist that are available for the Kindle, but not before having Amazon send me a free sample of each to my Kindle.  My iPod, and then my Zune and most recently my Zune Pass changed how I listen to music, and now I'm certain that the Kindle is going to change how I read.

The think I like most about it is that it just works.  Right out of the box, with only a few minutes looking at the user's manual and NO setup, and I was comfortable.  Since Wednesday, I've read a novel and started a second, I've read copies of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Seattle Times, and I've listened to the first part of an Audible audio book while sorting laundry.

I've read the Kindle everywhere I'd read a paper book.  This afternoon I took it outside into the bright Colorado sunshine and compared the display to a paper book.  The Kindle was easier on my eyes.  When the light is low, I just make the font a bit bigger.  When it's dark, I clip my book light onto the leather cover that came with the Kindle and the experience is even better than with a paper book.  With a paper book, I'm always having to readjust the book light as it moves every time I turn the page.  With the Kindle, I just touch a button and I'm silently on to the next page.  One criticism of the Kindle is that the display is not back-lit, but they were trying to duplicate paper and I think they made the right call.  I don't feel any fatigue from reading it, whether it is in bright sunshine or total darkness with a book light clipped on the cover.

While you don't even need a computer to use the Kindle, and you can buy a book or magazine without a computer connection, you can connect it if you want and manually copy over any documents or unprotected ebooks that you already own.  As a test, I went to the gutenberg.org web page and downloaded a Mark Twain book (it's public domain now and free) and I had no trouble saving it to the Kindle.  It occurred to me that I could also save music lyrics to the Kindle too, and that worked just fine.

I've been working on writing a book of my own for about five years.  OK, I haven't been working very hard at it, but this just might get me going again.  Amazon makes it easy to publish for the Kindle and this might be the perfect format, or at least an interesting option for me.

So, what could be better?  At $399, it's not cheap.  It's new though and I imagine the price will come down.  eBooks are about half the cost or less of printed books, so in time I might make it back.  I haven't dropped it yet, but it feels like it might break if I dropped it on to a hard floor.  I was at a friend's house last night, and a good friend who loves books wouldn't touch it because she was afraid she might break it.  It hasn't hung or done anything strange since I first turned it on and the (free) high-speed wireless connection has always been there when I needed it.  I've found more than enough books that are available for the Kindle to keep me occupied, though it's a small fraction of the books in print.  This will change though, and I imagine most new books will be available electronically.

My first review was picked up by thekindleblog.com, and they seem to be collecting reviews, so check them out.  Or as I've already told a couple of my techie/bookie friends - just buy it.

November 24, 2007 in Books, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2007

Amazon Kindle in my hands

I've been a big fan of Amazon.com from the very beginning, and I've written about them before.  After reading Brad Feld's blog on Monday and realizing that their new ebook was shipping, I ordered an Amazon Kindle and it arrived today.

Wow.  This is the closest thing to magic I've seen in a long time.  The photos don't do it justice and the praise that has already been written doesn't come close to describing how cool this is.  The design feels right to me, starting with the box it shipped in.  I was using it effectively within two minutes, and I had already sampled a book and bought today's New York Times (75 cents) within five minutes.  It just works.

It was shipped to me already connected to my amazon.com account, and it came loaded with a letter from Jeff Bezos addressed to "Terry" which was a nice bit of personalization.  The wireless just worked.  No setup, not searching for a hot-spot, it just worked.  The display is amazing.  It looks like paper.  I did not realize that the electronic paper technology was here but apparently it is.  Even with it asleep, it displays a nice picture that reminds me of an old book.  Here's how it looks, but again, the photos don't do it justice.  This is going to be big.  Really big. 



November 21, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 20, 2007

W3W3 Interview on Unified Communications

Larry Nelson, the co-founder of w3w3.com Media Network, and Mark Richtermeyer, the CEO of The Spitfire Group, interviewed me last week on the subject of disruptive technology and the effect unified communications is having on the enterprise.   You can find the audio interview here.

Unified communications is a term that means different things to different people, and it isn't brand new.  Companies like Avaya, Nortel, Cisco and many others have been working to bridge computers and telephones and all the different forms of communications.  When I left AT&T sixteen years ago, it was because I believed there was a place for a new company to help build that bridge. 

More recently Microsoft has made a big move into unified communications.  While I spent a lot of time talking about Microsoft in the interview, I also point out that this is a technology that is going to span across a lot of companies and it will create new opportunities for everyone.  My customers expect us to work with the network, the PBX, the databases and the desktops that they already have installed.  A rising tide floats all boats, and the tide is coming in!

Thanks Larry and Mark, it was fun talking to you both.

November 20, 2007 in Unified Communications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 19, 2007

Tech and Car Computer Update

I've been really busy - Gold Systems is having a record year and I'm just not getting as much time to play as I'd like!  Still, I get a lot of questions about the car computer project and other various gadgets that show up from time to time at my house, so I thought I would do a quick update.

  • Car Computer - I'm still stuck waiting for the touchscreen to ship.  It was mid-June when the Infill T3 died and I still haven't got the new machine ready to go.  I've got the computer (thanks Mp3car.com!) and it's hot - Dual Core, 4 gig of ram - but I'm still waiting for the touchscreen.  It's a new transflective device that is readable even in direct sunlight so I'm hoping it's worth the wait and the fabrication that Team FJ is signing up for to get it installed.  It should be here the first week of December.
  • Zune 2 - I ordered the new Zune months ago from amazon.com, and after a last minute delay, they emailed on Saturday to say it has shipped.
  • Chumby - What's a Chumby?  Find out at Chumby.com  It's on my kitchen counter right now but it could end up anywhere.  This is part of my quest to find an inexpensive, programmable, wireless-internet-connected device that I can use around the house.  This one might even have a place on my desk at work if I can hack it a bit.
  • Amazon Kindle - Brad Feld reminded me this morning in his blog that the Kindle was just released. Twenty minutes later, mine was on the way, scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. The Kindle is an electronic book, with some great inovations that just might make the idea work this time.  I read my first eBook on my Palm VII years ago, but the screen left a lot to be desired.  The Kindle is getting great reviews by people who've played with it, and people who haven't tried it seem to hate it.  I love my books, but I'd be happy to trade a few bookcases worth for a device that really works.  My favorite quote comes from Zoot, commenting at Gizmodo, who said, "Any nerd who, on seeing one of these for the first time doesn't just stand there playing with it and giggling uncontrollably for ten minutes has no soul."

That pretty much blows the gadget budget for awhile.  I'll do an update after Kindle determines whether I have a soul or not.

November 19, 2007 in Car Computer, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Announcing the Lastocean.org blog

In my last post, I told the story of meeting John Weller, an amazing guy who's part of a team that is making a great effort to make the world a better place.  The post was titled, "One last place we haven't screwed up" and it's just the beginning of the story.

I asked John how I could help, and I signed up for two jobs.  One is to help him fund some of the effort, and I'll be writing more about that soon.  The other job I took on was to help him get a blog going while the real website is under construction.  It occurred to me that there is email access even in Antarctica, so I suggested to John that he could send me updates while he's there and I would edit and post them so that people could go along on the journey via the Last Ocean blog.

I hope you'll subscribe to the blog at lastocean.org, and follow along.  John's going to be camping out in the Falkland Islands over Thanksgiving, and then he'll head on down to Antarctica.  You might remember him as you are sitting down for dinner - he and the team are doing great work.  Check out the latest at lastocean.org.

November 19, 2007 in Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack