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Coin, One Card To Rule Them All – All Your Credit Cards In One

Coin - One Card To Rule Them All

Coin – One Card To Rule Them All

Coin is the wallet minimalist’s dream come true.  ”Coin is a connected device that can hold and behave like the cards you already carry. Coin works with your debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards and membership cards. Instead of carrying several cards you carry one Coin. Multiple accounts and information all in one place.”

Using a smartphone app and a card reader (provided), you load all your different cards on to your Coin and voila the only other thing you need to carry is your ID.

When I first saw this thing I started salivating.  It’s so smart and slick and the $50 pre-order price vs $100 retail price is super tempting (If you want the details on how it works check out the website, onlycoin.com).  I almost jumped on it right away, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized it probably isn’t for me.  That being said, according to my Facebook feed, at least 5 of my friends have already ordered.

I’m not worried about the security… In fact, the electronic tether that notifies you if you get separated from your Coin is an interesting feature and it deactivates itself if you manage to lose it.

I am worried that at $100 it has only an estimated 2 year battery life (needs to be thrown away and replaced once it dies) and that I don’t need another device I can break, lose, get wet, etc.  Right now my wallet is the only thing I can accidentally drop in water or fall on hard without rendering it useless.  I get that this isn’t a problem for most people, but I know, for me, it is.

Beyond that, I see Coin as a cool technology to bridge the gap until we’re all paying for everything via our smartphones (NFC, bar codes, etc).  As Google Wallet expands and Paypal is being accepted at restaurants we’re headed towards not needing anything more than our phones and an ID (and, if you’re me, 3 extra batteries).

In the meanwhile, check out this top 10 list of minimalist wallets to go along with your Coin.

 

AppSpace.com Helps You Find The Right App

The number of apps available for the iPhone, Android OS and Blackberry is rapidly approach a combined 200,000. Wading through the sewage that constitute most apps to find that diamond in the rough can be a daunting task.  For some of us installing and deleting apps is a hobby, but most people don’t have the patience or desire to go through all that downloading and testing.

AppSpace.com is a recommendation engine for the app store of your choosing (WebOS is once again snubbed) and is intended to help you find just the right app for your needs.  By taking your indicated areas of interest and the apps you like and dislike (based on your ratings) AppSpace will recommend apps for you to try (along with the appropriate download links).

It’s a handy little system and while you’ll probably still have some trial and error in finding the perfect app for your tastes, AppSpace should definitely make the process easier.

This video will do some explaining and you can click through to MakeUseOf for a writeup on the site and it’s features…

via [makeuseof]

Get Help Finding Tickets!

There are a lot of sites to buy tickets from out there and it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out the best way.

SeatGeek seems to be a pretty slick way to search multiple sites (like Razorgator and Stubhub, but not Ticketmaster) at the same time and get a pretty little diagram of the available tickets with your results.  This definitely makes finding those 4 seats in that one section for that one show much easier.

The site seams to be using SeatQuest.com‘s engine with a nicer front end and in addition to the basic searching features SeatGeek provides forecasts on the ticket price (will it go up or down between now and the event).  This is a cool feature, though at a self described ~83% average accuracy I wouldn’t trust it for tickets that are real important to you.

SeatGeek also publishes TicketPulse, a monthly analysis and report of trends in sports and music based on the data SeatGeek captures from the sites it searches.  For example, “The Lakers vs Celtics game on February 18th represents the highest average ticket price for all remaining games in the second half of the NBA season, selling at an average of $300 or 375% of face value.”  Quirky interesting stuff…

The site is a TechCrunch50 Finalist (for what that is worth) and has announced plans for additional products including one to help ticket resellers maximize their profits by forecasting trends and prices.

If you buy a lot of tickets to sports or concerts you should check out the site and sign up for the email alerts.  Maybe you’ll save a few bucks on your next show.

via [lifehacker]

4 Favorite Firefox Plug-ins I Can’t Live Without

First off, if you use Internet Explorer regularly… What is wrong with you?

Now that that is out of the way lets talk about Mozilla Firefox.  The beauty of open source applications are the plethora (I can’t say that word without thinking of the 3 Amigos) of plug-ins, add-ons and extensions to let you add or tweak features.  Firefox is no exception and offers thousands of add-ons to allow you to manage your web browsing experience.

The key to technology is making it work for you.  Choose applications and technologies that put the power of customization in the user’s hands then take full advantage of making the technology better for yourself.

To that end, here are 4 add-ons that almost everyone would benefit from using regularly.

Sage

I subscribe to a ton of RSS feeds that I need to get through regularly to stay on top of news around the world and sage is my favorite RSS reader.

It is basic and simple, displays in the Firefox sidebar and allows for drag and drop adding of feeds.

Xmarks

Xmarks synchronizes your bookmarks and passwords across to a server so that they can be accessed through the web and in different physical locations.  I spend a lot of time reading articles and bookmarking resources, but I do it at work, at home on my desktop and on the road with my laptop.  Now when I find a work related link while at home I don’t have to e-mail it to myself, it’ll just show up in the bookmarks folder in every location and everything happens in the background so you don’t have to worry about it.

Firebug

I am not a coder, but I do often have to mess with CSS elements of a website to tweak this or that.  Every skill level from code peons like me all the way up to hardcore developers use Firebug to steal look at and tweak code.  From figuring out how a page is laid out to where a particular DIV ends, there is no tool better for getting a quick look at the behind the scenes action of whatever page you’re look at.  If you’re curious, download it and mess around. You wont break anything.

Greasemonkey

Greasemonkey is a plug-in that allows users to run javascript to modify or manipulate web pages.  For example, there are scripts for creating a Facebook Dislike button, re-organizing gMail’s layout and (my personal favorite) automating Mafia Wars playing.  There are thousands of scripts and often many for the same purpose so you should read the comments and consider ratings and # of downloads before you choose  (also don’t be afraid to try one then replace it with another).  Is there some way that you wish you could tweak a site you use every day?  Check userscripts.org and you might find the script to do.

3 Cool Things You’re Not Going to Spend the Money to Buy

3 things from Uncrate.com that I want, but will surely not buy.

Ping Pong Paddles – Brodmann Blades ($100)

These are the craziest table tennis paddles I’ve ever seen.  They remind me more of Klingon weapons then paddles.  I have no idea if they are actually intuitive to pick up and play with or if it’s just awkward.  Either way, I’m curious…

Dog Collar -  Bark4Beer ($15)

Ok, so this one you might spend the money on.  If you’ve got a dog that is always following you around you might as well put it to work!

Soccer Ball – Adidas Jabulani World Cup Match Ball ($150)

Yep, it’s a $150 soccer ball. I still want it.  If you like soccer you should too.

via [uncrate]

Google Voice Now On the iPhone with HTML5

I’ve talked about using Google Voice in your daily life before, but Tuesday Google quietly released a new version web based version based on HTML5.

I’ve already been using a gVoice program for my Palm Pre (gDial if you were wondering…and yes it’s updated with this release), but iPhone users were stuck in limbo without an app that Apple would approve.  So, the Big G has basically gone around Apple’s app store and created a web based version that iPhone 3.0 users can take advantage of (accessible at m.google.com/voice).

Users get the ability to make calls from their gVoice number at Google’s rates as well as text message for free.

If you haven’t tried Google Voice yet you need to find someone with an invite for  you and get on it.

The really interesting subtext to this is Google avoiding the Apple app store and the power of HTML5.  If Google can put together as robust a web app as this then there are going to be a lot of people that will opt for HTML5 rather than jumping through Apple’s hoops.  HTML5 provides excellent power and is OS agnostic so developers won’t need to develop for Android, WebOS and iPhone.  They’ll be able to work in HTML5 and deliver their product to multiple platforms much more easily.

via [Google Voice Blog]

Keep Personal Errands and Work Projects on Track With the Right Tool

Everyday people have tasks they need to complete.  Be it at work, at home or somewhere in between there are chores, tasks, issues, assignments, to-do’s, … on and on.  There are basically as many ways to track and organize all of these from the always classic Franklin-Covey planner to a well organized spreadsheet to enterprise level project management platforms (and yes, in the end, I believe all of these serve the same purpose).  Most of them have individual pros and cons and it’s up to the user to choose the right one.

Today we’ll talk about solutions for different applications ranging from managing daily errands to project management for medium to large-ish projects.  There is a lot out there, but we’ll focus on the ones I’ve had the best experiences with while trying to keep my life and projects organized over the last decade.

A quick talk about my organizational philosophy…  For a tracking system to work, first and foremost, it has to fit with what you are trying to accomplish.  A 1,000 line project plan and gantt chart aren’t necessary to get your grocery shopping done and your dry cleaning picked up, but a checklist isn’t going to get you through a a significant development project either.  Next most important is that the tools fit the process.  A person without a smartphone is probably not a prime candidate for an online task list and you can’t use MS Project with anything agile project management.  In the end, I like a solution that is just barely powerful enough to support what you need.  This usually helps keep things streamlined and prevents the tool from becoming a crutch (this is obviously a fine line, but is something to always watch out for).

So, without further ado…

The Spreadsheet

The simple spreadsheet is a category unto itself…  The beauty of the spreadsheet is that it can be as simple or complicated as you need/want.  When you think about it, all the other tools you might use are really just pretty front-ends on some really complicated spreadsheets (I may have just oversimplified the concept of a database, but I’m going with it).

For most people just writing down the things they need to get done for the day, a party, or even a research project is an extreme improvement in productivity.  Create a spreadsheet with columns for a task name, task description, priority and due date and you’ve got a powerful little method for keeping track of your tasks.   For example, input the list of chores for the day and rank them as 1s, 2s, or 3s (don’t agonize over it, you can change it later) and set the due date for all the tasks to today.  Now you can use the sort function of your spreadsheet app (I recommend Google Documents) to sort everything into a prioritized list of tasks.  Review your tasks, rework your numbers, sort again and keep crossing things off the list until it’s all done.

Maybe you need something a bit more complicated to keep track of tasks at work?  Add  ‘last action’, comments, and ‘assigned to’ columns and now you’re ready to track yourself and other across a broader range of tasks.  If you want to get fancy learn a little bit about conditional formatting to highlight what is late, who is assigned to what or what is the highest priority.  In no time you have a quick, reasonably powerful, and well organized document you can use for yourself or share with others to keep you and/or your team on track.

I’ve gone as far as using spreadsheets to run small projects with great success.  The point is, the spreadsheet is the most flexible of the options because, small or large, it is what you make it.

Personal Use, Get your errands done or your party planned

RemembertheMilk.com is basically a project management platform for your life.  It offers organizable lists with due dates and priorities in a simple web interface with a great deal of integration and power behind the scenes.  You can setup different lists to group tasks, prioritize the tasks within that group then schedule all manner of updates to be sent to you through e-mail, sms, etc.  There are iPhone and Android apps (where are my WebOS apps!) as well as a number of ways to integrate RTM into your life.  It’s an excellent platform for people serious about using an application to stay organized.  Jump into the the RTM Tour and signup for an account (it takes about 15 seconds) or hope over to Lifehacker’s extensive rundown of the features.

A far less powerful, but still very useful tool is Google Tasks.  Integrated into gMail it offers a simple way to create and manage lists.  For now it’s about as simple as can be and due dates don’t show up on your gCal, but it’s Google and you can expect gTasks to grow like any other Google product.  If you want a quick and simple task list accessible on almost any platform, Google Tasks is a great option.



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Small to Medium Project, Getting things done with other people

Redmine is my personal favorite for a project where I get to choose the tracking platform.  It’s open source, easy to setup and offers the flexibility necessary to work on many different types of projects.  It’s simple to keep multiple projects going on the same installation of Redmine while limiting access across projects to only those people that need it.  In particular I like the ways that Redmine manages tasks across users and projects in summary views while also allowing for very granular resource and activity tracking.  Checkout Redmines site and demo to get a feel for the application.

Redmine is not a hosted solution and requires installation on a web host.  Anyone that has ever FTP’d a file to a webhost can get this setup in about 10 minutes and any SysAdmin worth his salt should be able to do it in 5 (if yours can’t then I suggest you find a new one).  This done mean there is a little bit of effort upfront to setup the site, but it also means no monthly fees (beyond your hosting) and unlimited accounts.

For a hosted solution ProjectOffice.net offers an excellent feature set at a reasonable per user price.  I always prefer to host my own apps, but not everyone can do that.  Project Office is clean and simple without a lot of overhead or clutter.  In addition to the basic project management features there are some gantt charting abilities and Blackberry integration too.

Conclusion

Both in your personal life and in business the key to the right tool is to choose one that fits what you’re trying to accomplish.  There are literally hundreds of solutions out there and I’ve tried A LOT of them.  I’ve touched on my favorites here, but what works for me might not work for you (heck, what works for me on one project might not work for me on the next) so it’s up to you to try things out and tweak them until they do what you need (which is why I love spreadsheets so much).  The key is that you try different solutions and continuously improve on your methods as you gain experience.

No matter what the venue or goal following the basic best practices of writing things down, assigning tasks and setting due dates will always lead the charge.  Start there and add-on accordingly until you’ve found the limit of what you need to track to be effective.  Follow that method and, at the least, you’ll always end up with an efficient system for your needs.

GPS Trackers for Tracking Whatever You Want

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I  came across two standouts for portable GPS based tracking.  The, Xact Trax and Insignia Little Buddy, both offer a way to track your kids, car, wife, friends, dogs?, etc with similiar features and pricing.

The basic feature set of these devices allows you to place a GPS device on something mobile (car, kids backpack, etc) and view the location of that device through a website.  Depending on your pricing plan ($15 monthly unlimited or $.99 per use) you can track the device continuously or on an ad-hoc basis (i.e. My kid is late getting home, where is he right now).

If that’s not big brother enough for you, these devices offer geo-fencing (you can be notified when the device leaves a certain pre-defined area…like school grounds) and speed notifications (you can be notified if whatever you’ve attached the device to is speeding).  Notifications may be through e-mail or text.  All my examples have been of parents tracking their kids (which is the obvious one), but there are many less intrusive uses (like GPS tagging a car or motorcycle for theft recovery).

If you are using this to track a kid (or god forbid significant other) you still have no guarantee that the device will stay with that person (not sure how many times I lost my backpack as a kid).  Also remember that these devices are subject to the same limitations as other wireless and GPS devices (i.e. if you’re not in a coverage area or otherwise can’t get a signal the device will not work).

The Insignia product is a super simple GPS device powered by USB.  The Xact device offers things like a panic button and on-device medical history database in case of emergency.

All in all, these products are probably very effective if you need some element of their feature set.  Both pricing models are excellent depending on your needs.  If you do use something like this drop us a comment.  We’re curious what you use it for.

SlingMedia Launches 4 New Products…Flash Support More Important

Full Disclosure: I freaking love Sling Media. On the time line of groundbreaking home theater technology the Slingbox falls between the TiVo and 3D TVs.

[ NOTE: Real quickly for those that don't know, the Slingbox enables 'place shifting' which is a fancy way of saying you can watch YOUR TV from anywhere you've got an internet connection and laptop (or properly enabled mobile phone).  If you are on a trip you can control your TV and cable box (TiVo, DVD player, etc) remotely just as if you had your remote in your hand.  It's fantastic. ]

At CES this year Sling Media announced 4 pieces of hardware and one software change that may be the most important of all.  All of this works into the ‘TV Everwhere’ movement that is the buzzword du jour of the cable companies and all of these products will only be available directly through cable providers (only Dish Network, so far).  It should be noted that Echostar bought Slingmedia (they also own Dish Network) and all of these products are integrated or compatible with Dish’s new products.

[Editor's Note: Everyone I spoke to said that these devices will be available through providers other than Dish Network.  When I jokingly said, 'Ya, when EchoStar allows it.' They all rolled their eyes, dropped their heads and said, 'Ya, there are some challenges. It'll happen eventually.'  Not sure how bad a sign that is, but I have to assume it's EchoStars strategy and other providers are not eager to boost EchoStars bottom line (that is 80% speculation).]

Slingbox 700U

Slingbox-700uThe 700U is designed to be sold by the cable and satellite companies as a USB connected add-on to DVRs and cable boxes.  It should reduce the cost to the customer, but it will require providers to make their boxes compatible.

This is a good idea and a logical way to expand the market of users, but it’s definitely not groundbreaking.

Sling Receiver 300

Sling-Receiver-300The Receiver 300 is basically an extender box.  It has to be used on a network with an existing ‘SlingLoaded’ device and in standard Sling fashion, it allows you to watch / manipulate your primary TV source on a second TV.  It’s small and meant to be mounted on the back of a TV or on a wall.  The idea here is that the customer could use this device to get a HD signal to a TV without having to run additional wires (perfect for a 1 bedroom apartment with 2 TVs).  The device connects through HDMI and presumably slings the signal through WiFi.

Sling Touch Control 100

Sling-Touch-ControlThis is basically a really fancy IP-based universal remote.  Just like any remote, it will control all the devices in your entertainment center.  It’s trick is that IP-based part.  It’s a WiFi enabled device that use your home network to control compatible devices over your home network (it uses IR for ‘legacy’ products) while delivering a streamlined user experience to the 4.3″ screen.

The whole SlingGuide product is just an enhanced channel guide.  It provides additional ways to search your channels while also providing more access to additional information on a particular show.  SlingGuide is really Slings way of standardizing the channel guide experience across their products.

All in all, this is a pretty slick universal remote but depending on the price might not be worth it (no idea what the price will be).



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Sling Monitor 150

Sling-Monitor-150Continuing the TV Everwhere trend this is a 15.6″, 720p display that includes speakers and 802.11n wireless.  This is basically the Sling Receiver 300 with a screen.  It’s meant to be setup (wall or countertop) anywhere running a TV source wire would not be practical.  Again a very cool product that isn’t groundbreaking and whose adoption will likely be defined by it’s price.  For the record, it doesn’t have a battery and requires WiFi so it’s not portable (now if someone could add a battery pack and wireless 3G card…THAT would be a product).

Support for Adobe Flash

adobe-flash-player-iconLastly, but possibly most importantly, is Sling’s support of Adobe Flash Player and Flash streaming protocols in the Pro-HD and SOLO.  This means that any device that supports a Flash Player will be able to receive the Sling content.  Since Flash is already so heavily used for streaming, support across devices is very very high and Adobe recently announced Flash for Mobile there will be a rapid influx of ways that you can receive your Sling’d media (Fingers crossed that means a WebOS Sling player in the next few months).

In Conclusion

Sling has a fantastic technology.  EchoStar has integrated that technology into Dish Network’s products pretty well.  In an effort to expand their user base EchoStar is pushing the idea of ‘TV Everywhere’ and all of these products go a long way towards enabling that technology.  Hopefully TiVo will support this technology and I can continue my love affair with TiVo and Sling the way it should be (i.e. without IR blasters).   Most of all, the support of Flash will break down the most frustrating wall of Sling’s products … the mobile players.

Video Camera in My Goggles? It’s about time.

Liquid Image Camera GogglesIn a ‘what took you so long’ moment Liquid Image will be unveiling it’s 335 Snow Camera Goggle at CES this week.

This thing doesn’t mess around either… 5MP camera, video recording w/ audio, integrated controls, over 2 hours of video recording battery life  and expandable memory!  What more could you ask for!!

It’ll go on-sale for about $150 sometime this summer (with plenty of time to spare before the next season and perfect timing for my birthday).