Recently in Technology Category

The first one.  The Maryland State Senate passed a bill that would ban texting while driving.  It heads to the House of Delegates soon.  While forms of this bill have been killed in committee in recent years, there appears to be a better chance of passing it this time.

I have mixed feelings about this.  I will admit, I've read a text message while driving.  I have probably written one as well.  But it is bad for attention.  I do have however think there are a million other things that could be as distracting.  Still probably a step in the right direction.  Let's hope they don't go the route DC took of banning use of mobile phones without a headset.  I know I see it everyday I'm in the city where someone is driving with their phone in one hand.  I have even seen a very well known technology writer for a national newspaper do it on the Whitehurst Freeway in afternoon rush hour.

Facebook Friends?

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For the longest time, I resisted joining Facebook.  I have nothing against it, I just wasn't into the social networking thing.  I am in LinkedIn, for business networking.  However, last September or so, one of my business contacts started a Facebook group so I reluctantly joined.

I will say I am now enjoying Facebook to a degree.  There are people I've know from high school that I have kind of reconnected to.  Some business contacts I've known only by phone I now have more of an understanding.  But there is a dilemma.  Who exactly is a "friend"?  Here are people who have been suggested to me recently.

  • The younger brother of a high school classmate of mine.  I'm not sure if I ever traded two words with him.
  • Many people who work(ed) for my first employer out of college.  Many are good friends/acquaintances.  I'll have to dig through those deeper.
  • A female 1 year behind me in high school.  The name sounds familiar, but that was so long ago, I don't know if I really knew her, I knew a sibling, or what.
  • Various people from a professional listserv I belong on.  Those should be fine, as I'm Facebook friends with others on the list.
  • This girl who I worked with during high school.  She also went to high school with me, but I think a couple of years back.  The thing I remember the most about her?  She took me, a mutual female friend who also worked with us, and our not-quite-out hispanic boss to a party themed by her Asian ethnic background.  Oh, and she was trying to "turn" said boss.
  • People who I may or may not have had class with at the University of Maryland.  Hey thousands of students in each graduating class, I can't keep track of them all.  Besides, I read the Diamondback everyday.  Some of those names were reporters/editors for the paper, I think.
  • Finally many random people who happen to be friends of friends of mine.  I can't fault Facebook on those.

So really, who do I choose to be Facebook friends?  I guess each person has to decide on their own, but I don't know if I should be "friends" with all of the above people.  What's funny is I've had more interaction with some bloggers than some of the people Facebook has been suggesting to me.

photos_full_front.jpgRecently my work mobile smartphone went to crap, probably because it was running on Microsoft Windows Mobile or some other brilliant OS they conjured up in the great Northwest.  I previously had a Palm Treo so I thought about going back to that family.  I however opted to go with Blackberry this time.

OK, my first thought was to go with Apple's iPhone.  But you know, even though it is for work, I do enjoy actually being able to talk on it and AT&T has never been my friend.  Staying on Verizon Wireless, I was left with few options.  I decided on one of their older Blackberry World phones.  However, they decided to ship me the Blackberry Storm instead for the same price.  What a deal, I thought.

When I initially received it, I immediately disliked it.  It's heavier than the Motorola Q that I had been using and if memory serves me right, it seems close in weight to the Palm Treo 650 I had before that.  Then the touchscreen felt wrong.  You really have to put physical pressure on the screen.  I have an iPod Touch at home and that works like a charm.  Touchscreen there means brushing the screen.  Not on the Storm.

Amazon Kindle

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41mLdDed4ML._SL160_.jpg As a holiday gift to myself, I got the Amazon Kindle .  If you have not heard, the Kindle is an electronic "book".  After just a week of working with it, I'm very satisfied.  In the past, I was an avid reader, staying up until the wee hours of the morning reading magazines or books.  In recent years, that has changed for many reasons.  I have gotten older.  I have not visited the library in quite awhile.  While I can afford to buy books, I find it tough to justify buying many titles.  There are simply many books I want to read, but only once.

The Kindle seems to solve the last problem.  Paperbacks, mostly of the mystery or horror genres, are books I have no need to buy.  The stories may be good, but I don't see why I need to re-read some of them.  For example, The Bone Collector by Jeffrey Deaver.  I read the book years ago and have not picked it up since.  I may read it again some day.  With the Kindle, I can do so without taking up space on a shelf or a box.

Not only books, but the Kindle will also provide content from some magazines and newspapers.  I have not tried a magazine, but for newspapers, I find that the real thing works better than the Kindle.  Or I go to their website.  The Kindle is lightweight.  To me, about the same as a paperback, but the dimensions are bigger.  It takes some getting used to holding it, but after a day or so, I think it worked out.

About the only drawback is that there are no illustrations.  Or rather, there are crude ones but just for the cover of the book.  A limitation of the black and white Kindle, which may be addressed in later versions.  For now, though, any avid reader should consider one.  It may not work for all, but I think it's worth a tryout.  Try to find a friend who has one to see theirs.
Well, apparently Microsoft finally saw what virtually everyone else did.  The ads made no sense.  It appears that they have retired those Gates-Seinfeld ads.  Below is the second of the series.

I like how the executive said there was a short shelf life.  2 weeks?  That's really short for two ads.  There is apparently a third.  It had such a short shelf life, it never appeared.

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