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Showing posts from August, 2007

Better and Better: Google Earth’s Hidden Surprise: A Flight Simulator

Hot on the heels of the inclusion of Google Sky, an astronomy viewer in their excellent Google Earth program, I see this accouncement from TechCrunch that the lastest version also includes a built-in Flight Simulator. How cool is that? I have just played around with it a bit and found it simple to use, with very basic features, but fun as all get out! What a great way of using all that great imagery in another unique way. Google Earth’s Hidden Surprise: A Flight Simulator We’ve always known that Google has wanted to challenge Microsoft’s desktop dominance in a number of areas, but to date we didn’t know that extended to gaming. Hidden inside Google Earth is a secret Flight Simulator that takes full advantage of Google’s extensive satellite imagery. ( Continues ) (Via TechCrunch .) An anonymous commenter passed along this link to a YouTub video demoing the new Flight Sim Functions...

Blog Day 2007 - 5 blogs for you!

What is BlogDay? BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors. With the goal in mind, on this day every blogger will post a recommendation of 5 new blogs. This way, all blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, previously unknown blogs. In the spiirt of BlogDay, here are my 5 picks: AnimalBytes withg Keri Dearborn This blog and podcast focuses on all things natural, from the backyard to around the world. Recent posts include Creating a Garden That Attracts Wildlife , Of Mourning Cloaks and Hummingbirds and Beneficial Wild Creatures In Your Garden . Goosing Your Muse with JoAnn Braheny Need help being a bit more creative, check out Goosing Your Muse. News, creativity exercises, insight and more. Recent posts include 7 Ways to Help Yourself Recognize Opportunity , Writing Tips -

Check your bills...regularly!

This post from points out why it is so important to check each of your utility bills, especially your telephone and cell bills as often as possible. Since I pay the bills in my family, I can usually tell if a bill has increased dramatically from the last month, but I still make a point of reading each bill -- IN FULL -- at least every couple of months. The truth is, as the article notes, scams like these are rampant. Worse yet, they are facilitated with the knowledge of your phone provider. Technology can be used for good, but it can also be used for evil, so beware of those might try to take advantage of you. Make sure you aren't paying more than you should for anything. Those dollars belong in your pocket, not the bank account of some scammer. Class Action Lawsuit? ...I look at the messages, and they are all from 90900, the Joke of the Day mobile phone service ( The first message gives me the PIN I will need to start the service, and the next two messag

Samson H2 Handy Recorder

(Updated 8/31/07 530pm : A review of the H2, along with audio examples, can be found at Michael W. Dean's site, ) My fellow Friend in Tech member, Victor Cajiao, from the Typical Mac User podcast , mentioned he is picking up one of these units, so I started to check out the specs. If I have the opportunity to "lay hands" on this unit at the Podcast and New Media Expo in September, I will give you a review and more information. Link: Samson Web Site Technorati Tags: audio , hardware , podcast , podcasting , record , recording , samson

Web: FotoFlexer Raises The Bar On Online Photo Editing

Here is another online photo editing service that allows you to do all sorts of crazy things to your photos. The truth is, most of us don't need something as powerful as the expensive Adobe Photoshop or even the free, GIMP image editing program. FotoFlexer Raises The Bar On Online Photo Editing Online photo editors keep getting better and better. For hardcore image manipulation, desktop software like Photoshop or Gimp will always have its place, but online editors are free, easy to use and a lot of fun. ( Continues ) (Via TechCrunch .) Technorati Tags: service , technology , web , web2.0 , graphics , picture , image , editor

LIVE from the Library - August 23, 2007

This is the podcast audio for today's LIVE from the Library Internet Seminar. A video of the first 40 minutes of the seminar is available in an earlier post on the page. Watch it now! Listen to LIVE from the Library - August 23, 2007 Technorati Tags: california , education , losangeles , seminar , training , video

Things I Believe: I (or your consultant) could get hit by a bus tomorrow

Many of my clients have heard me discuss my methods of computer consulting over the years, but for those of you who have missed it, I wanted to write up some short articles on my consulting philosophy. Mainly, this is summed up with the simple phrase, "I could get hit by a bus tomorrow." Despite this depressing idea (especially for me) , I think it shows something very fundamental about the way I work with all my clients, whether I am setting up their computer or network or helping them to get started with a web site, blog or podcast. Everything I do is meant to insure that the client could continue to work, and be productive, even if this theoretical bus and I had our fateful meeting the day before. I began describing my actions in this way after countless consulting calls where I was following up after another consultant or staff member. I am often called in to complete, modify or clean-up projects that have failed for one reason or another, More times than I like to contem

Elsewhere Online: Robots: PicoBotz Let You Build Your Own Robot on the Cheap

I love playing with robots and this little platform looks to be a great entry-level kit for you and your kids. It sounds like it might even be a bit hackable, once to you assemble it and get it working. I could see putting in some circuits I have found in other books and web sites, like photovore/photophobe behaviors and more. With a big enough solar panel you could probably also use the sun to power it. For more infor on robots check out these great resources: Previous mentions of robots on Solarbotics - Robot kits, parts and more BEAM Online - All things beam robotics How to build BEAM Vibrobots BEAM Robotics page @ Wikipedia Robots: PicoBotz Let You Build Your Own Robot on the Cheap These $77 PicoBotz kits are the perfect thing to let the budding engineer (your kids) get their hands on some robotics. The "robot" has 180 programmable commands and operates in three modes, obstacle avoidance, sound repositioning mode, and line tracing mode. It also runs on

Elsewhere Online: Stuff We Like: decTOP $100 personal computer

There are some really cheap computers out there, if you don't mind being a bit of a computer "gear head". I would probably want to add a little memory to this unit and then run Puppy Limux on it. I suppose I could also replace my old Win 98 retiree and use this as my file server. It would be a lot quieter and take up a lot less space. Stuff We Like: decTOP $100 personal computer The decTOP (originally created by AMD) is marketed as a personal internet communicator made specifically for browsing the web. In actuality, decTOP is a fanless personal computer that weighs in at three pounds and runs off of eight watts of power. DecTOP comes without an operating system (though it supports Windows CE and Linux) and although it comes with low level specs (128 MB RAM, 10 GB hard drive, 366 MHz processor), its hard drive and RAM are both upgradeable. DecTOP sells for $100 and includes a mouse and keyboard. If you're looking for a cheap computer for the kiddies, a Linux server,

News: Skype Suffers Major Outage (Duncan Riley/TechCrunch)

I have come to depend on Skype more and more, esepcially for doing remote podcasts, so this doesn't make me feel very well. Alternatives include, AOL Instant Messenger and Gizmo . There are some online alternatives like , too, which allows 1-4 people live video conferences. Skype Suffers Major Outage (Duncan Riley/TechCrunch) Skype Suffers Major Outage   —  Skype has suffered a major service outage that started from approximately 3am PST Thursday.  —  Skype advised that their engineering team had determined that the downtime was due to a software issue, with the problem expected to be solved "within 12 to 24 hours." Source:   TechCrunch Author:   Duncan Riley Link:… Techmeme permalink (Via Techmeme .) Technorati Tags: free , service , software , skype , outage

Real World Example: Computer-Aided Embroidary

Just to show you how technology has become an intimate part of our lives, I wanted to relate a support call I had today. A client called about checking out a new Windows Vista laptop she purchased, along with the device pictured here...a Husqvarna Viking Designer I USB . While the PC issue mainly had to do with lack of memory, the embroidery machine fascinated me. Here was what looked like a sewing machine, but instead of the usual direction and thread tension controls was a sizable LCD screen. On the side was a USB port, exactly like you would see on a printer. In fact, that was exactly what this machine was...a printer. The machine even has firmware that has to be updated, just like your Internet routers and high-end printers. To apply the upgrades, we "booted" the machine into "software update" mode and then shipped over the firmware from the PC. It just goes to show that even the most fundamental crafting is finding a way to put technology to use.

Podcasting for Writers Class at UCLA Extension

The UCLA Extension calendar for Fall 2007 is now accepting admissions. Among the offerings is our new class, Podcasting for Writers -- a 10-week online course. If you, or someone you know, would like to join us for this class, here is the complete information. Rosanne and I are really looking forward to the class. NEW COURSE Podcasting for Writers (Online) X 430.27 Film & Television 3 units $525 Podcasting has given writers direct access to a worldwide audience and freed them from absolute dependency on television networks, radio stations, and publishers to buy and market their work. To the audience, podcasting is "what you want, where you want it, when you want it," while to the podcast creator and producer, it is the ultimate creative freedom. This course covers the current state of this new medium; the basics of writing for it; and strategies for publicizing your podcast and expanding your readers, viewers, and listeners. Guest speakers available via audio and v

Computers for students: A back-to-school guide

August is here and thoughts (and retail advertising) are already turning towards the start of the next school year. This was driven home quite clearly this week when I visited my local office supply store, only to be overwhelmed with row after row of notebooks, pens, pencils, calculators and, increasingly, computers. The truth is, computers are becoming part of every school-age child's toolkit, just like No. 2 pencils and college ruled notebooks. In the past, this was usually limited to college age students, but more frequently high school and even elementary school students can benefit, if not require access to a computer and the Internet. In an effort to assist all my fellow parents, here are a few guidelines for what computer might be the best for your student and what features it should contain. College Students If your son or daughter is heading off to college for the first time, a laptop computer is almost certainly suggested, if not required. Laptops are nearly perfect for c

Get my newsletter and find great LA Events!

If you would like to receive my regular email newsletter, you can join my mailing list, WelchWrite. This newsletter highlights upcoming events, interesting sites and more. WelchWrite Visit this group You can also find out about some great Los Angeles Events by joining the WelchEvents mailing list. Here I highlight free or cheap, family events around LA that I enjoy. I monitor event calendars for many of hte museums and parks in LA and select thos events I will be, or would like to, attend. WelchEvents Visit this group

Apple iLife, iMac, Keyboard announcments and updates

In case you didn't hear it somewhere else first, (how that would be possible I do not know), Apple introduced a new design for its iMac line of systems today, a new, slimmer than slim keyboard and significant updates to its iLife software suite. Visit While I am not in the market for a new computer at this time, the updated features of iLife '08, including significant ones to the iMovie application might just find me at the Apple store soon. Technorati Tags: apple , computers , new , computer , imac

Web Site: The Cool Hunter

Despite my (ahem) advanced age, compared to other Internet hipsters, I love to find out about cool, new stuff as much as your average MySpace user.'s service, Frogpond hooked me up today with this cool new site, The Cool Hunter . Generically, cool hunting is find great new trends, products and services and sharing them with others. The Cool Hunter certainly fits the bill. Lots of cool new stuff in architecture, design, fashion, art and more! Even better, they have RSS feeds so you can subscribe to whatever interests you most or the entire collection of cool items. Link: The Cool Hunter Technorati Tags: cool , design , new , web