Google Android G1 Week 2 Review

So I’ve had this Google phone for 2 weeks and I must say that I’m very pleased with it. Unfortunately, I have not used a blackberry or an iPhone for 2 weeks, so I cannot fairly compare the phones. I can, however, point out the important features as well as the ergonomics of the phone that make this phone awesome.

Features That Rule!

The functionality and tight integration of the applications make this phone kick butt.

Gmail – Gmail works awesome on the phone. It has its own separate Gmail application which makes it easy to send and view Gmail messages. Since the phone is multi-threaded, everything works similar to how things work on a regular computer. For example, during the election I was following twitter on the phone and NBC4 Columbus put out a tweet asking for pictures of the lines at the voting booths. First I opened up Gmail, started a message. Then I turned on the camera, took a picture, closed the camera whcih brought me back to my message then quickly attached the image I just took and finished by clicking send. The whole process is pretty seamless.

Contacts – My contacts in Gmail and on the phone are all part of one single database of contacts. Anytime i add a new contact on the phone, it appears in Gmail. When I add a contact in Gmail, it appears on the phone. This is just one super powerful feature.

Calendar – I have a number of calendars. As expected you can view your calendar on the phone. What’s sweet is it also views all the calendars that are shared out to your Google Calendar. This means that the overlay of calendars from my work, personal and wife’s calendars appear in my phone. What’s even more awesome is how calendar events that have alarms configured set off the alarm in the phone. This whole calendar integration was very well thought out and Google deserves an A+ for this one.

Google Maps – This has already come in handy twice! Last week I was trying to find the West Marine store here in Columbus. When I mapped it at home, I thought the store was located on the west side of Sawmill road. When I drove over there and couldn’t find the store, I decided to re-map it in Google Maps on the phone. Though the point mapped did not indicate which side of Sawmill I needed to be on, it displayed the phone number for the business as a clickable number in the same way other numbers appear as contacts. I just clicked once and bam, the phone dialed West Marine and within seconds I was talking to someone who helped me find the store.

Dialer – The dialer application is what it is, the app that lets you dial numbers and contacts. This may be the first part of the phone that i could see vast improvement with. One cool feature though is how the Phone’s contacts can be filtered by groups. I setup a group in my Gmail contacts of people I call the most so those are the numbers that only appear in the main list of contacts in my phone. But don’t let this fool you, just because you only list contacts that are in a specific group does not mean the phone doesn’t recongize all of your contacts. It’s pretty tight phone in that regard.

Text Messaging – This works similar to Gmail, with each person you text listed as a separate thread. Nothing good or bad to say about it.

IM Client – It works pretty well and does the job.

Browser – The browser works pretty well. The coolest part of the browser is how it handles tabs. I like to open new links in a new tab, so all I do is hold my finger on the link for 2 seconds then a menu appears letting me open the link in a new tab. Moving between the tabs is pretty easy too. Sometimes I find myself in twitter in one tab and reading a blog in another. My only gripe so far is that you cannot perform file uploads from the browser. Not sure why this limitation is set but it is definitely something coded into the browser.

All around the default package of apps in this phone make this a very powerful tool for keeping in touch with others in all modern forms of communication.

Ergonomics Gets a C+

Though the phone is growing on me, it has some obvious ergonomic flaws. I pointed these out early on in my first blog post about the phone (click here) so I’ll just touch on them.

Ports, or lack there of – The position of the USB port sucks when you are texting. Though so far I have not found a need to have headphones plugged in while I am texting I can foresee that this will be a problem when I’m using the phone as both an mp3 player and as a phone. The lack of portion options also limits this phone. Had they just put a headphone jack along the right side of the phone then I’d be a happy camper. Then I could listen to music while texting without the plug getting into the way of my hands.

Camera – The camera has absolutely no options which sucks. Since it’s a camera phone, I’d like to set the picture quality a little lower so the files are smaller for sending in email. One other complaint is the delay when clicking the picture button and when the picture is actually taken. You absolutely cannot take a crisp picture with this phone holding it with just one hand. I am getting used to it but boy my last phone had a 1 Megapixel camera and took pictures much faster than this one.

3rd Party Apps

SSH Client – Okay, the average person would not even care about this but being a programmer and network administrator this feature is awesome. The application is called ConnectBot. It’s a petty simple SSH client. Though it is a bit painful to use with a texting keyboard compared to a regular keyboard, it does the job. I haven’t had to use it in a practical sense yet but if I am ever out of town and away from a computer I still have a way to connect to one of our rack servers and fix a critical problem through the shell. Extremely powerful tool in my opinion.

Twitter – There is a pretty good Twitter app for Android called  Twidroid. It works pretty well. The only feature that it lacks is a screen of public @ replies. Otherwise it works pretty well.

Pac Man – Yea, who doesn’t like old Atari games.

Others – I’ve installed an app for calculating tips at restaurants, an app which lets me use the camera to scan bar codes at stores to search other stores for comparable pricing and a weather plugin to easily obtain the current, hourly, 3 day and 10 day forecasts.

Overall Opinion

This is a great tool. I no longer want to refer to this as a phone as it is much more than that. I now know why so many people love their Blackberry’s or iPhone’s, these multi function devices let you do so much. However, they will never replace a computer, that is for sure. If anything, these devices could bridge the gab for the need for laptop computers. I am sure it will not be long before I hear about folks going back to desktop computers because their phone does everything they need when they are out of the office. I also predict that in a year or so we will see Android based laptop and desktop computers. I don’t see any reason why Google would not do this, as this would complete the gamut of needs for the average person and business as far as computing is concerned. Apple took OSX to the phone and I am certain Google will take Android from the phone to the desktop. Time will tell if I’m right.

G1 Android Phone Day 3

Okay, I said I would wait a week before I give my review of my new Google G1 Android phone, but I now decided to wait 2 weeks since next week is the election. So this post will be a 3 day review of the phone thus far.

First conclusion, if you use Gmail, then this phone is for you!

Integration with Google

This phone is tight, I mean tight, with Google services. I use Google apps for my Domain, which means Email sent to mandato.com is actually handled by Gmail. The phone worked right out of the box with my mandato.com Gmail address. This tight integration with my Email and calendar alone will save me a lot of time and help me better manage my communication via both Email, IM and phone. If you use Gmail for your business and/or to communicate with family and friends, you will appreciate this phone.

So how tight is Android with Gmail? Well, all my contacts in Gmail are contacts in my phone. My calendar events are now synchronized between my phone, Google calendar on the web and my desktop Sunbird calendar application. Sure other applications and services (Act, Lotus Notes and Outlook come to mind) integrate with Software phones on computer desktops, etc.., but this does the job for new kinds of customers like myself, those who have mobile and/or virtual business environments.

So, this is why I got the phone and I must say it does everything I expected.

The Good, The Interface

The Interface for the phone is intuitive, though I would have to say this phone is not for everyone. As far as a phone is concerned, it works pretty well. In normal mode (keyboard closed), you can do a lot of basic stuff with the phone, access your calendar, dial, Google maps, web browser, email, etc… As soon as you need more computer like functionality, just put your thumb on the left side of the screen and push it to the right, and you got yourself a nice functioning keyboard. I never understood why someone would design a phone like this, but now I have it I know why, to keep things simple when possible. For example, I don’t think my parents will have a problem answering a phone call with this phone, but they certainly would have problems using the keyboard. I still have a phone that my mom could make a phone call with without getting completely confused.

There are some items about using the phone, that I’ll call techniques, that someone will need to learn to appreciate how to use and navigate a G1 phone.

First is the menu button. At any point, you can click the menu button to do essentially the same as clicking the ‘File’ pull down menu in any Windows application. For example, in an IM chat, click the menu button to do things such as close the IM chat window or toggle to another ongoing chat window. You’re going to need to learn this fast as there is no touch screen option to get to these options or settings screens.

Touch and hold, in some instances, will achieve the same as a right click when in a Windows application. For example, when viewing email messages, touch and hold the message in question to see options such as delete and mark as read/unread.

Back button is very important, as it does as it implies. Anytime your in a screen and you want to cancel what you’re doing or go back to the last screen, just click the back arrow button and you’re good.

The most tricky but coolest of features is the “closing the blinds” like feature to see the current list of notifications. It is hard to describe, but basically at the top of the screen is a bar that tells you what’s going on with the phone, date/time, battery life, etc… The top left corner will have icons for different types of notifications such as email, gmail, calendar, IM, txt, missed calls, voice mail etc…. All of these incoming messages or notifications are all listed in these blinds. This feature is definitely pretty sweet.

The Bad, The Hardware

I do have a couple items with the phone that I don’t like. Fortunately, they are issues with the hardware, not the software.

First problem is the lack of port options. The only way to plug anything into this phone is through its one proprietary USB port. The phone does come with stereo headphones, though if you want to keep the phone plugged in to charge, then listening to some music or making a hands free call isn’t an option. I did order an adapter off Ebay, but you would think it would just make sense to solder on a 2.5mm jack, as it is the most common hands free jack size.

Using the keyboard while something is plugged into the USB port is no walk in the park. My right index finger wants to surround the sides of the phone when typing, the cable just gets into the way. See photo. When nothing is plugged into the USB port, I’m just peachy keen. When a cable is plugged in, my finger constantly has to decide if it should wrap above or below the cable. Very very annoying. What would be ideal is either a second USB port on the right side of the phone (top side when in keyboard mode) or if the USB port was at a corner and could rotate from corner to corner or bottom. My vote is for either a second port or headphone jack centered on the right side (top side when in keyboard mode).

The built-in camera is not so hot. Part of the problem may simply be with the button location though. When I take pictures holding it vertically, it is hard to press the camera button. When turned sideways, the button is a little easier to push but you still need to hold the camera with both hands to keep it as still as possible to prevent blurring. I have yet to take a clear photo with the camera.

Conclusion

This phone is awesome. It is definitely going to save me time allowing me to keep up with work when I otherwise would not be able to as well as keep everything tightly together so I can access all my data from any computer and my phone.

Ohio Wind Storm September 2008

If you haven’t herd, our house was one of the many casualties of the Wind Storm that blew through Ohio this past Sunday. No one was hurt, but the roof on the house got a pretty good beating. Our power was out from about 5pm that Sunday and was restored at about 9pm Monday evening. We were without power for about 28 hours. Just about everything but the pop and water in the frig is marked for the trash.

The storm also damaged a fence gate and blew off one of the rails to our deck. Many other homes in the neighborhood have similar or worse damage.

Sunday night was very interesting, before the sun went down Heather and gathered all of our flash lights and candles, got our small gas grill out of the garage and figured out how to open the garage while the power was out.

On Monday, Heather navigated through the city of broken stop lights and got to work. I spent the first half of the day fixing the fence gate and putting together the baby change table. Once I ran out of things I could do without power, I took the laptop to my Brother-n-law’s office and got myself caught up on email. When Heather and I got home around 6pm, there was still no power so we went out for dinner. Finally at about 9pm, the power was restored!

Our neighbor had to get a gas generator in order to keep their sump pump powered. Though we don’t have a water issue under our home, our dependence on electricity from the grid hit home pretty hard. We’ve decided that we don’t want this to happen to us again. Over the next 3 months, we’re going to make an investment into purchasing solar panels and battery packs for both situations like these and they can be used for camping/traveling.

I did some math and discovered that our cable modem uses roughly 2 Watts and my laptop uses roughly 75 Watts. In a pinch, it would not take much in order to power just these two items. I did some research, it looks like I can get a battery pack and some solar panels to charge the battery for less than $500. It’s a start, though not a complete power replacement for all of the electronics and lights in the house. I’m also ordering a Kill A Watt device to monitor the Watts used by certain devices in the home so in the future we have a good idea what we can and cannot power through a solar system.

Another item I’m going to be ordering soon is a solar USB charger. You can find these on Ebay. Anything that you own that can be charged plugged into a USB port of a computer can use a solar USB charger. Both heather and I have a USB charging cable for our cell phones, which would have been very useful for us this past weekend.

How did the wind storm impact your home? Were you prepared for the power outage? Are you taking steps like I am to be less dependant on electricity from the grid?

Potential Fraud FirefoxiiL.com Web Site in China

I was downloading the latest version of Firefox today and came across a Google sponsored ad in my firefox search . The sponsored link goes to FirefoxIIl.com (that’s the word firefox plus two capital i’s and one lower case L). I found it interesting that the Mozilla foundation would sponsor a new distribution, and more interestingly under a new domain name. After checking out the web site, I found the site did not have any copyrights or links to other mozilla/firefox web sites or plugin downloadss. Further more, the only thing you can download from the site is the version 3 exe install and a couple themes. Who ever put the site together listed a few Firefox plugins, obviously the authors favorites.

The owner of the domain is not the Mozilla foundation. The current domain owner is “INTERNETWIRE COMMUNICATIONS GMBH”, web site: http://www.internetwire.de. They do not appear to have any connection with Firefox or Mozilla.

Just to check that someone is not doing some weird hoax or distributing a version with spyware or a virus, I downloaded the version from firefoxiiL.com and did a compare to the one from Mozilla. They are identical files, so at least no one is being harmed by this stunt.

So the question is, why would someone create a hoax site and pay Google to advertise it?

Update

@blookins from twitter replied with the lookup of the IP address of the server hosting firefoxiiL.com, it is hosted in China. Very suspicious.

Google

Why are you selling your Adsense service to a potential fraudulent web site?

Columbus Ohio Internet Usage Unknowningly Monitored for Profit

I just found out my Internet Service Provider (ISP) called WOW Internet and Cable has been monitoring our web traffic since March of 2008 for profit. The monitoring takes place by installing hardware made by NebuAds within the ISP’s network, WOW Internet in my case. Web traffic from WOW Internet customers (like me) is routed through these hardware devices for tracking. The data (html, javascript, images, etc…) that customers like myself request from web sites such as Google could be modified in order to display targeted advertising. According to DSLReports, WOW cable (and other NebuAds clients) can make at least $2.50 a month per customer.

I was made aware of this by a local TV station here in Columbus, Ohio.

When I spoke with WOW today, they informed me that I was recently made aware of this change when they sent me a notice in the mail of recent change in the terms of service. Like any trusting customer, I did not read the fine print. The notice did not come with a cover letter explaining what part of the notice changed and/or why. See Third Party Advertisers section of WOW Internet Terms.

Notice that in the WOW Internet Terms they created an acronym for “Personally Identifiable Information” as “PII”. The way the acronym is written in the sentence it implies that it encompasses other items. Make no mistake, they clearly state that PII is your name, address and phone number and nothing else. They do not state that IP addresses are PII. In my opinion, your IP address on the Internet is just as personally identifiable as your telephone number or street address. An IP address identifies you on the Internet so data knows where to be directed over the entire World Wide Web. The same can be said about telephone calls and snail mail. Apparently WOW does not believe that your IP address on the Internet is considered “personally identifiable information” even though IP addresses have been continually used to identify individuals and is commonly added to header information of many Internet protocols such as email and web browsing.

Users may opt out of the service on a per browser bases using cookies. This means that anytime I decide to switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox, Opera, Safari or another computer for that matter, I have to remember to follow a procedure (that I currently do not know) to add a cookie to each browser I use to turn this tracking off. Further more, I now have to do this for every computer in my home and for anyone who visits who uses my Internet. This means that browsers used in my home must support cookie handling, removing my choice (or anyone else in my home’s choice) of turning off cookies in web browsers. For 3rd party applications (Non web browsers) that use the Internet (such as to download or check for product updates) will continue to be tracked by WOW.

WOW Internet is the 12th largest Cable provider in the United States. WOW has been using NebuAds to profit from its customers since March/April of 2008. For the past three months, WOW has made more than $7 from myself alone. I have yet to see any savings passed onto my bill. It appears this $2.50 is an additional revenue stream for WOW and is not something they are using to pass savings to their customers in exchange for invading their privacy.

The 3rd largest cable provider, Charter Communications, recently decided not to use the NebuAds service to make money from its customers. Charter decided to abandon the practice following the release of a report that caught the interest of the United States Congress into the legalities of the adveritsing targeting mechanisms.

The most upsetting aspect of this whole thing for me personally, is that I’ve discovered that this tracking is known to cause problems with Google Gmail. I use Gmail and Gmail for my domains and have come to rely heavily on Google’s Gmail service. Since March I have experienced issues with Gmail and for the longest time have presumed Gmail was the problem. Now that I know that my ISP, that I’ve been paying over $100 a month to provide me reliable access to the Internet, may have been the cause of the problems I’ve been experiencing with Gmail frustrates me greatly. I’ve lost a lot of time and productivity with the problems I have had with Gmail. Email is a vital service, especially for someone who requires not only for tracking and paying bills but for employment and work as well.

I’ve called and notified WOW that they will have to contact me in 7 days to let me know that they will no longer be tracking my Internet and have stopped modifying my Internet traffic. Otherwise I will switch to another ISP. They have until July 7th to resolve this issue, or they will loose me as a customer. If after July 7th, they do not rectify this problem with their service, I will contact federal, state and local government representatives in my area of WOW’s shady practices, notify my neighbors what WOW is doing with their Internet usage, and make it a point to NOT recommend WOW for Internet services.

WOW, you have 168 hours. What is your answer?

UPDATE (GREAT NEWS)

WOW cable called me today (Thursday) at about 4pm to let me know that they are removing the NebuAds for all of their customers! I no longer need to switch ISPs! What an emotional roller coaster but unlike some businesses apparently WOW does listen to its customers. I’m going to stick with WOW now that they will no longer deploy this questionable intrusion of advertising in my web surfing.

As soon as I have a press release to link to I’ll create a new blog post about it.

Columbus Social Media Cafe – Central Ohio Bloggers, Podcasters and Social Networking

Anyone in the Central Ohio area who is a blogger, podcaster or social networking enthusiast/expert should be aware that there is a potential meetup group organizing called the Columbus Social Media Cafe. Yesterday was the 4th SMC meetup and I gathered that they are just now working on defining what the goals are of the group and plan on forming a mission statement. You can read more about the last meetup at Elephants on Bicycles and This Woman’s Work blogs.

When I arrived, I found myself briefly explaining what PodCamp and PodCamp Ohio is. I was not prepared to make any sort of presentation at the meetup but I did my best. This was a learning experience for myself, as I found myself speaking to a crowd of bloggers who are aware that podcasting should be included in their space but don’t exactly have a grasp on what exactly podcasting is. I also mentioned briefly some of the viral networking techniques that PodCamp Ohio is using in order to market the event to bloggers, podcasters and social networking enthusiasts.

I learned a lot from the meetup. What I found the most interesting was what they are envisioning; a social networking web site that pulls in feeds of blogs and podcasts and provides social networking features such as tags and comments. The group would be the perfect customer for the RawVoice Generator, which does pretty much what they want. One of the organizers mentioned someone who is in the process of developing such a tool that the group could use, so I didn’t quite feel comfortable mentioning that my company already has such a product on the market for more than 2 years now. The process they are undertaking made me feel vindicated that the past 3 years of my life that I’ve spent developing such tools is of real importance, not just globally but also for the local community. There is real potential for blogging and podcasting to connect with its local communities, and I for sure want to be involved in helping that happen here in Central Ohio.

I hope they can create a brand/logo soon and put in place a scheduled meeting time using not just meeting spaces in the public but also utilizing those social media tools that are so important such as TalkShoe/BlogTalkRadio for on-line recorded phone meetings and Google Group public mailing lists. At the moment the only way anyone can participate is by attending the public meetings, which may limit the audience size of participants. The more opportunity to let someone be herd, the more opportunities that will be used by those with the means. I’m pretty confident they will pick up on these other tools soon.

I am a little concerned that some of the founders organizing the Columbus SMC group found PodCamp Ohio somewhat threatening. I hope they did not get that impression cause it is definitely not something meant to compete with other groups with similar goals. PodCamp is a social event with the primary goal to bring bloggers and podcasters together to share knowledge and network with each other. I hope the Columbus SMC organizers don’t feel threatened by the event, that’s certainly not the events goal and I am confident that’s not what Chris Brogan or Christopher Penn intended when they created PodCamp.

A Good Keyboard is Important

Last summer, I purchased a new computer, right away I had to swap the new keyboard that came with it (HP Pavilion) with my previous worn down IBM keyboard. Well in October, the keyboard wasn’t working so well so I hunted through the house till I found a keyboard I could live with. Oddly, it’s a HP corporate keyboard from about 10 years ago. It works ok, I am typing on it as we speak, but a couple keys aren’t as reliable as they should be. So last week I went to Microcenter and purchased a $30 Microsoft Keyboard. It was the cheapest keyboard that had a normal keyboard layout with the 2 key wide backspace key. It also had the normal 6 keys between the mail keys and the numeric pad. Many keyboards are starting to re-engineer the 6 keys (insert, home, page up, delete, end and page down) in non standard ways. If you’re a programmer like me, that completely sucks. Some of the keyboards have a 2 key sized delete key and have removed the insert button completely. I don’t know what keyboard designers are thinking lately!

I used to always buy IBM brand keyboards but since they left the desktop/laptop computer market, they no longer sell keyboards. Oh how does that suck! In my opinion, IBM made the best keyboards.

So I’ve been trying out a Microsoft keyboard out for about 5 days and quickly came to hate it. I finally disconnected it and plan on returning it. It did have softer key action, which was keeping my wrists from getting tired. Now I am using this old HP keyboard, my wrists feel like someone stuffed rocks in them.

Dell USB Multimedia KeyboardSo the last keyboard I used that I really liked was the Dell Multimedia Keyboard pictured. This and its non multimedia variant were pretty well designed keyboards, the keys were where they should be and the space in front of the keyboard allowed you to add your own wrist pad.

There’s a few other little things about this keyboard I like. First, the mute button is on the right hand side. The Microsoft keyboard had the mute button on the left, which doesn’t help me at all. The volume control is an actual dial on the Dell, which doesn’t matter for me because I usually use the windows controls for that anyway. It makes a nice holder for my wedding ring when I feel the need to take the ring off while working.

So today, I ordered a new Dell USB Multimedia Keyboard. With shipping it was about $33.

What kind of keyboard are you using? Are you as picky as me as far as key placement?

Netflix on computer plus 50 DLP TV equals AWESOME

Netflix‘s recent announcement that customers can watch as many movies and TV shows on their PC recently motivated me to check out the online service. I have to say the service is AWESOME!

We recently purchased a new 50″ DLP HD TV which includes many inputs including VGA. So we hooked up a computer and away we went. In no time we were watching movies from netflix.com on our big screen! The picture quality is excellent, I would have to say better quality than traditional cable. I would even go as far as say to say the quality is high enough that if Netflix offered all of their movies online, we wouldn’t even bother with the traditional movies by mail.

Future entertainment is going to move on-line. Live events will be streamed live and pre-recorded content will be released in the same fashion as podcasts. On demand services accessed through the Internet opens the doors of possibility that no Cable or Satellite service could match. I’m convinced Podcasting will be considered the pre-cursor to this New Media movement. I’m very excited to say I’m part of this revolution.

Firefox Crashes because of QuickTime

Well, I’ve finally found others who are finding the same problem. I will be surfing the net, open a page and bam! Firefox crashes. More recently the computer was running slow when Firefox crashed and I swear I saw a pop up from quicktime asking me if I’d like to update. Since then, I’ve used a computer without iTunes and QuickTime with Firefox and have had no problems.

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=4630001

I want my iTunes. So to avoid this crashing in the future, I’ve taken the necessary steps below.

  1. Click Start >Â Programs > QuickTime > QuickTimePlayer
  2. Click Edit ? Preferences > Player Preferences
  3. Click the Update tab and remove the check next to “Check for updates automatically”
  4. Click the File Types tab and unselect everything except “QuickTime Movie Format” Uncheck the option at the bottom titled “Notify me if other applications modify these associations”.
  5. Pray that QuickTime doesn’t crash your Firefox again.

Hopefully this is helpful to others.

New Year Update

It’s been a while since I blogged anything. I’ve been very busy. Here is my update of what is going on in my life.

RawVoice
Been very busy working on a number of projects as usual. We are about to launch a new web site on Monday, January 14, 2008. If things go well, we’ll be launching some new service each Monday for the rest of the month. We’ll see if I can keep up.
http://www.rawvoice.com/

Spaceblue
I reprovisioned the server the day after Christmas, I am happy to report that I finally have everything on-line and running strong. I quickly got the crucial items on-line. I mainly had to get web stats and a few other little things setup after the new year. Setting up the new server took much longer that I anticipated since I switched from using Apache to Lighty web servers. It is paying off though, the server is handling the same amount of traffic without using all of the system resources.
http://www.spaceblue.com

PodCamp Ohio
I’ve been leading up the charge to organize PodCamp Ohio. Over the past month, we’ve secured a venue location and launched the web site. I am pretty happy with the core podcasters participating, they are really on the ball and have no problem taking charge of items they are good at. PodCamp Ohio will be on Saturday, June 28, 2008 from 9am to 5pm at the ITT Technical Institute in Hilliard (just west of Columbus), Ohio. More details are available on the web site.
http://www.podcampohio.com/

Association for Downloadable Media
Last fall I was elected Chair of the Measurement Committee of the Association for Downloadable Media. The entire process is exciting. I purchased a copy of Roberts Rules and have been slowly coordinating all of the members of the committee. After 12 people joined the committee, I was looking for the board members to set a limit to the size of the committee so it would not become too large to manage. The consensus of the board is to allow as many ADM members to join the committees as possible. I understand the motives, as the podcasting community is oriented in a way that encourages participation, it just makes managing the committee that much harder. I am up for the challenge and started devising ideas how to manage the situation. My position as Chair of the Measurement Committee could not be more perfect for the Association since I have both a technical background with Internet Engineering and vast experience with measuring podcast downloads.
http://www.downloadablemedia.org/

The House
Dad was in town two weeks ago when I was about to fix a shower leak. The work started with Dad reminding me to buy the tool recommended to remove the faucet cartridge in the documentation I printed out. A couple of minutes later, I broke the cartridge trying to remove it with pliers. Lesson learned, still listen to your parents! At this point I think Dad was convinced we would have to call a plumber, but my plan was to buy the removal tool and a screw tap. My plan worked luckily, with the help with an extra long screw replaced in the recommended tool. The rest of the process of installing the new cartridge went smoothly. I am happy to report the shower no longer leaks! If any family or friends need to fix a Moen shower/bath leak, let me know cause I have the recommended tool to remove the cartridge. Definitely don’t try to remove it with pliers!

San Giorgio Pasta Choo Choo Wheels
I told Heather a long time ago about Choo Choo Wheels Pasta and she looked at me rather strange. Two weeks ago I came across a package of San Giorgio brand Choo Choo Wheels and snagged a box. Sam Giorgio is my preferred pasta brand. The back of the box has a recipe for spaghetti meat sauce, so I thought I’d give it a try. I don’t have all of the details here, but the main ingredient are 2 large cans of whole pealed tomatoes, 2 small cans of tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, graded and 1 pound of ground beef or sausage. I used a 1 pound roll of Bob Evans Italian Sausage. Cook the sausage, then mix everything except the Parmesan, bring to a boil then cook on a medium/low heat for 30+ minutes. When you are ready to serve, add the Parmesan, which will thicken the sauce. I like thick sauce, so stumbling upon this tip has revolutionized my spaghetti sauce making abilities! 🙂

Anyway, the sauce on the back of the Choo Choo Wheels box was awesome and so far is the closest thing I’ve been able to get to taste like real home made spaghetti sauce the way Grandma would make. She would cook the sauce for hours and have 3 different types of meats in the sauce. It is the standard which I use to judge all other sauces. Funny how that works.

What’s Next
I’m going to restart my Compiled Weekly podcast. The recent work I’ve been doing moving blogs around for RawVoice and reconfiguring the Spaceblue server with Lighty has given me a lot of content ideas for the show. I got a lot of knowledge to share about Lighty and tips with server management. I got just about everything automated so I don’t have to manage anything now. 🙂