Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kinoma Player, Slingbox, Pandora & Documents to Go, PALM PRE is Ready to ROLL!

The Palm Pre release is rapidly approaching and I am excited to put my Treo 700P behind me. I have resisted temptation to migrate to the iPhone's walled garden and it seems I will be rewarded for the wait.

The 700P is closing in on three years old and was essetially the last innovation Palm offered up before going dark (aside from the lower priced Centro line). The once vaunted Palm OS was left for dead years before it even hit the 700P. Developers kludged together great applications for the Palm platform before users had been exposed to Apple's "App" marketing speak.

Today I can watch my home TV with SlingPlayer,
STREAM podcasts with Kinoma Player and create MS Office documents with DataViz Documents to Go. The iPhone can't really do any of the above. You can stream select podcasts if there is an App associated with them and Pandora is a great way to stream music, but that's it. No SlingPlayer and no native MS Office Docs. I forgot to mention I can take videos on the 700P as well.

Enter The Pre

Kinoma was the must-have for me to move to the Pre. I literally use this to stream several podcasts everyday. UPDATE 6.17.09- Motion Apps does not support sound at this time. From the Motion Apps Blog: "
Classic v1.0 does not support sound but Classic v1.1 will provide a level of support for streaming audio. Classic v1.1 will be released very soon after the initial launch of v1.0 and will be available as a free upgrade to all existing users of Classic v1.0"

Not sure how sync will work.

Note Graphics are hyperlinked.

What is the Pre
Graffiti 1 Input was the most satisfying method of input for PDAs/Phones. Xerox sued over its use and forced the similar, but crappy, Graffiti 2 on future Palm users. Graffiti 2 and Americans unwillingness to learn new things sealed Graffiti's fate. You could use it with all Palm OS systems with the touch screen, but my understanding is the iPhone and the Pre screens are not capable of stylus input. A true shame and I hope Graffiti will make a comeback. Chinese character input practically dictates the use of a stylus and Asian demand may bring back Graffiti in some form in the future.

VIDEO- I have literally taken less than 20 videos over the 3 years with my 700P, but it seems like a step back giving up this functionality. Rumors claim video will be available at, or shortly after launch.

SD Card- Teal Backup was a lifesaver on my 700P. Say I am in a foreign country without cell access and I am using my Treo as a PDA with trip information. If the phone crashes and wipes all my data, I simply have to go to the backup and restore EVERYTHING (aside from a few custom settings). This scenario happened to me in China, and somewhere else. It is not uncommon and the SD card is the perfect solution, not the CLOUD!

Monday, May 18, 2009, Hello, Internet, We've been waiting for you... stormed onto the scene May 15th offer a plethora of data accessible by simple query. Were Google searches the web for information, Wolframalpha searches databases to provide you with succinct information on a variety of tops ranging from historical weather to calculus. It will even help with crossword puzzles!

WRA, I have taken the liberty to apply the obligatory acronym, comes in a day and age when the new-ness of the internet has worn off. People have stopped exploring, stopped "Surfing" and have likely become comfortable with a handful of sites they use every day. Google for search, Google News for current events, Gmail for email and Facebook or Twitter for social networking.

Getting back to basics and realizing there is an un-manageable amount of data out there in cyberspace that has to be tracked down discretely where its content owner/provider has posted it has really taken the fun out of exploring. The time it takes to peruse Wikipedia and scan an article for a few bits of pertinent information may not seem like a lot, but it is all essentially wasted time.

Yahoo Pipes has allowed the common user to build pipes with little knowledge of the workings of the internet to distill live information into RSS Feeds. These feeds are read by readers such as Google Reader. This gets streams of information in one area, but the user is still tasked with distilling the information down to data.

WRA is the tool, the brute force, that is the next step of the internet. Forget about Web 2.0 where stoners were supposed to revolutionize the net by commenting on the taco stand down the street. WFA is a useful, shift in the way we interact with the web and begin to treat it like a gigantic lookup table of all digitally indexed information.

Is WRA a threat to Google? Those who claim it is are missing the point. Using a point to access and calculate reams of data does not compete with the ability to search stories and context. WRA has created a niche and hopefully will start the ball rolling on the next iteration of the web.

At this point, I have only played with WRA a couple hours and watched their 13 minute "quick" introduction. I am anxious to learn their method of accessing data, do they host it or point to existing databases? What db standards are they using and how easily can they point to new data sources? What vetting process goes into testing the data before it goes into production?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beyond VLOOKUP: Using Names & INDIRECT Function

Using named ranges has several benefits:
  • Formulas are easier to follow if they use logical names instead of cell references.
  • If your ranges change size, grow in length or some other dimension, you can easily change the definition of the range to accommodate the change. If you do not use names, you would have to change the cell references in all of your formulas.
  • You can use the INDIRECT function to refer to ranges
Naming Cells/Ranges:
Highlight the cell or range of cells and then type the name in the cell reference box.

This function is so powerful, so useful and so underutilized, I am afraid I might not be able to do it complete justice.

  1. Indirect will allow you to reference individual cells by building a reference within a formula: Want to retrieve the value in Cell A1? Use this formula: =INDIRECT("A1")
  2. The true power of INDIRECT comes from its ability to build a name. Put the name of an variable or range in one cell and then add a number to it: Example Cell B9 contains RANGE and you want to reference RANGE2 =INDIRECT(B1,"2")
  3. Building names is very handy when using functions like VLOOKUP that refer to ranges or arrays of data. See example below with two ranges of data: RANGE1 = B3:C7 & RANGE2 = E3:F7

I have lost faith in the entire ANTM Franchise

Aminat Ayinde was eliminated as the 2nd runner-up for cycle 12 of America's Next Top Model. The foundations of reality TV have been rocked. I don't know if I can dedicate any more time to the ANTM Franchise. Justice has not been served.

I would have accepted Teyona winning with Aminat runner-up, but Crazy Eyes getting 2nd place? The chick that was jealous of people who have bloody noses?? Not cool.