Archive for September, 2011


FreeOver at Tech-A-Break I’ve been blogging about the economy and starting your own business.  Here on Techsnoop’s Helper I would like to offer up free tools for those in the Design industry.  As a freelance designer myself, I understand how important it is to maximize time and finances so here are a few tools to help with both.

First up; free smartphone apps.  GetJar offers apps that are normally paid for free for most platforms other than Apple.  Also, Amazon App store offers one app free every day.  Both sites offer productivity apps in addition to games.

Next; get paid for roaming the city and clicking on ads – with MobiboTrello is a great app for collaborating with peers and customers.  3D Issue converts your PDFs into page-flip magazines.  While it’s not free, they do offer a free 30 day trial to test out.

And no roundup of freebies would be complete without mentioning Smashing Magazine, Net Magazine and Mashable.

Thanks for reading, I hope these all help you as much as they do me!

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phonesSmartphones are almost taking over the mobile marketplace. The versatility more than makes up for the battery life trade off, and newer phones are gaining in this area too.

In addition, the warehouse of apps available for these devices makes them even more useful as all around tools. There are apps for shopping lists, making your phone into a scanner, games, music and even a remote control.

If cost is a concern, check out this article from CNN Money comparing costs of some popular models.  The real cost of a smartphone is in the use – how much do you use the majority of the features. If you only talk and text, these phones are not for you.  But as someone who is a power user, I can state that you get very comfortable having all that convenience at your fingertips.  I can update my blogs, take and edit photos and send tweets from my phone, read digital magazines and books and still have enough battery life for lengthy conversations and some text messaging.  Oh, and I can never be lost with my built in GPS.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Droid Bionic and wished for an update to Gingerbread on the EVO.  A couple of days ago my wish was answered and an update was downloaded to my phone.  This type of service extends the useful life of a smartphone and makes it a better investment than models which cannot be updated.

So, make your wish list of features and get to the nearest mobile provider or go on the web to Amazon or Wirefly to compare prices.
And if a large screen is as important to you as it is to me, check out the HTC EVO. Or, slightly smaller screen but with a keyboard, the HTC EVO Shift.

I’m interested in the experiences of people with other types of smartphones such as the Droid, iPhone (any model) and Samsung models.  Please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts.

toolsTechsnoop found a couple of great tools for designers, developers and other freelancers.

The first is Trello, a collaboration tool that works like a social network tool and bulletin board all in one.  Features include the ability to clip pictures and video into the app as well as assign tasks to team members.  And the most important feature of all is that Trello is FREE.  That’s right, a really useful collaboration tool that is free. Trello works on all platforms and tablets and smartphones without any downloads.  Sign up today.

And if you need some inspiration for creativity, try a couple of these free Photoshop brushes courtesy of Smashing Magazine.

Today’s Example of Social Media Gone Wild;

Did some “reporter” actually reveal a “Secret Drone Base” and list the locations on the Internet?

Yes, our safety and the war on pirates and terrorism is being lost due to loose lips (or fingertips).  What is the point of the military doing their jobs and trying to protect us if yo-yos keep revealing all the plans and weapons so that the enemies can prepare for them or send some suicide idiot in to destroy the equipment?

This story did not reveal a scandal or misuse of public funds.  It does not tell of anyone being mistreated or abused.  No animals were tested on or injured.  This is a simple story of the military and government doing their JOB for once, and should have been kept under wraps with the location redacted.  But NO, some hot shot wannabe and their editor deemed this story worthy of being a “scoop” and therefore endangered lives all over the good ol’ US of A.  There is a reason some documents and communiques are classified, thank you.

A better point of view would be to talk about the technology aspect of the drones and the amount of jobs building of the drones created, not reveal their uses or launching and storage locations.

Next time you hear of someone being kidnapped on the open ocean or killed by terrorist bombs, please thank JoAnn Allen, her editor and all like them for rampant, irresponsible reporting.

I’m just saying.

NetflixFirst I raise rates and thumb my nose at customers.

Second I tell them “so what”

Third I tell stockholders I underestimated how much customers were ticked off.

Fourth I say “mea cupla”, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, but the prices stand.

Fifth I announce a great venture splitting up the company.

Sixth I find out I don’t own the new (stupid) company name.

Seventh I try to explain the business justification for all the changes.

Eighth I find I lost the company a bundle of money.

Ninth I lost a valuable streaming partner.

Tenth I start over again, maybe I’ll listen to my CUSTOMERS.

In July I blogged here about the Netflix proposed price increases and hoped that the company would come to their senses.  Unfortunately, just the opposite has happened.  The scandal with Netflix, the proposed Qwikster, the price and structure changes and the Twitter account seem to grow worse by the hour.

Companies have the right to run themselves however they see fit.  They do not have to kow-tow to customer needs and wishes.  It is fine if a company wants to do the exact opposite of what market research shows is the trend.

By the same rules, customers have the right to take their money and their business elsewhere, to a company or service that does meet their needs, wants and budget.  So Hola, Netflix, we once loved you, but you don’t talk to us anymore.

Previously I wrote here about the need for social media to be managed correctly so that it will be a tool and not just another frustration.

Now I want to introduce two new social engagement tools that can be used to increase exposure to blogs, videos and networks.  They are helpful in broadening your subscriber base.  First up is Crowdbooster, a site that can provide analytics of your Facebook and Twitter accounts and also allow you to schedule posts to your Twitter feed for when you may be busy.

Next is Empire Avenue, this is both a social connection tool and a game as you create yourself or your business a company and buy and sell stock.  Your social activities on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and YouTube gain you stock points and money.  The more you grow, the more others take note and buy your shares and endorse you.  The down side: do not start this site if you cannot regularly post and interact, even for a few minutes a day.  One day’s missed activity can tank your shares.

The fun part is that you can register as a person or business so your activity reflects your goals; fun or networking.  You meet like minded people as the interests are a prominent area on the profile of each.  And getting to play stock market with no real money at stake is great fun.

Come join Techsnoop on these sites, we are listed under DKemp Designs.

Dear HTC,

I want a dual processor EVO.  Waaaaa.  I love the EVO and it could only be made better with a dual-core processor.  Over at Verizon they are touting the new Droid Bionic, (which by the way is a cool name and the commercial – zowie) but really, the EVO has an HDMI port and smooth interface along with being a mini-computer already.  Pump up the speed and it is still the greatest invention since the car.

Oh, and could we get an Android update to Gingerbread?

EVO Rocks!

In case you missed it, Yahoo recently fired it’s CEO by telephone.  Yes, that’s right, the board of a multi-billion dollar corporation picked up a telephone and fired their top executive.  Can you say “faux pax” anyone?  But, wait, don’t be sad for her, Carol Bartz will walk away with a cool $10 million to ease her broken heart.

By Yahoo’s own statement, Ms. Bartz was released for “termination without cause”.   And Yahoo stated in their press release that the board was appreciative of Ms. Bartz’s service and has appointed the CFO as interim CEO.  Techsnoop doesn’t know about you but I wouldn’t release anyone a year early if it would cost me $10 million if they were a good worker.  Even if we hated each other, we would have to get along for that much money.  We’re talking about salaries for 10 developers for 20 years.

Next in said press release was the statement “The Co-founders of Yahoo!, David Filo and Jerry Yang, will each continue as Chief Yahoo and will provide counsel to Tim and the Executive Leadership Council.”  Yes, that’s right, they will each continue as “Chief Yahoo“.  Did someone really let this critical communication be released with a typo of this maginitude?

I smell job opening and I want to apply.

InklingWelcome gadget geeks and lovers of all new toys.  I am about to start your Christmas wish list.  I’ll be showcasing one new item each week as we move into the holiday frame of mind.  First up;

Ah, Inkling, where have you been all my life?

The great minds at Wacom have produced a tool that takes your sketches and translates them to vector art: enter the Inkling.  More than just another pen that sends information to your computer, the Inkling actually records your sketch and can separate it into layers and upload to your Mac or PC in the format of your choice.  Then you can refine your work into digital perfection.

Imagine the possibilities.  A random doodle can become your next masterpiece or the main character in your new movie.

Personally, I hope all my family and friends are reading.  This is the toy for me.

Space travel has captured the imagination of humanity for millions of years.  Now that NASA has been stripped to oblivion, the private sector has begun its own space race.  This competition will be just as fraught with set backs as the early tests at NASA, but backed by private dollars.

Now, I know many will think in the current global economic climate all dollars should be spent on terra-firma, and further space exploration is a useless  a waste of money.  But let’s look at the larger picture.  Most of today’s medical and daily technology has come as a direct effort of experiments with space travel or trying to duplicate technology from sci-fi franchises such as Star Trek or Star Wars.

The hypospray, a needle-less delivery system for medications is a reality and now the diagnostic bed, a non-invasive tool for reading patient information is also here.  Read more on Trek Technology here and here.  All of these radical inventions and many life saving drugs and tools are spin-offs from space exploration.

Look no further than your flat-screen TV and cell phone to find even more tech from the stars.  The challenge for us mortals is to merge humanistic efforts here on Earth with our necessary exploration of the surrounding universe.  They are both worthy goals and even in Star Trek, the ending of poverty and world hunger began with the development of Warp Drive.

Live long and shoot for the stars…

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