Monday, April 23, 2012

Unzip the Google Doodle - Geeky Zipper Tribute

Google Doodle lets you unzip the screen to search for Gideon Sundback, inventor of the zipper
If you go to right now, the latest interactive doodle lets you unzip the page! Don't worry, there's nothing NSFW behind the barn door or fly; the zipper opens a search window that leads to "Gideon Sundback," who was the inventor of the zipper.

To celebrate Gideon Sundback, we're including a geeky tribute our favorite uses of the incredible and often underappreciated invention: the zipper.


Barbara gets zipped in Beetlejuice
Barbara manages to get at least one "Beetlejuice" in before getting zipped by the B-man.

Selina Kyle (Adam Hughes Version)

Adam Hughes Selina Kyle Catwoman
What would Selina Kyle aka Catwoman be without the zipper?

Doug Funny's Monster Has a Zipper

Doug Funny Monster Has Zipper
How could Doug Funny have laughed off his fears without seeing the zipper in the monster's costume? (Image Source)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Popular Twitter Retweet Stats No Longer a Mystery Past 100 Retweets

It used to be that when a celebrity or popular twitter account tweeted something and the hordes of twitterverse retweeted, it would only show that the tweet had 100+ retweets instead of the actual number.

This has now changed.

Twitter has updated the interface, and with the update apparently there is a new availability of the actual number of retweets. There is one catch though: you have to be logged in to see the actual numbers.

It will be interesting in the coming months to see how many retweets popular Twitter users receive. Verified Twitter accounts such as Zooey Deschanel, George Takei, and Neil deGrasse Tyson already show that their influence in the retweet sector has well exceeded the 100+ retweets count. As of 10 am PST of this article, this sample of retweets received by these well-known humans is already impressive:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Google Voice

Using Google Voice Makes for Faster and Easier Communication
One of the exciting technologies I have been using for the past few months is Google Voice, which has been quite an experience.

The Google Voice unified communication software has proven to be almost as entertaining as it has been time-saving. I also just received my Google Wave invitation today, which I will follow-up with an article shortly, once I have had a chance to testdrive the wave.

What is Google Voice?
Google Voice is a unified communications tool that enables users to combine their different phone numbers into one central number, while taking control of junk calls and rerouting the important ones.
“With Google Voice, you get all your calls through a single number. Just add your other numbers to Google Voice and then make your own rules for how your phones ring.” (Google Voice)
Initial Concerns When Using Google Voice
My first concern of course was the cell phone bill. I was unclear what the charges would be from using the program (it says it’s free and for the most part, it is). I use AT&T for my provider, and in light of the recent FCC intervention with regards to the Apple rejection of a Google Voice app, I had a bit more to think about. But at the time, the temptation was indeed worth the risk.

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Potentially Top Choices for Google Voice Users
T-Mobile offers unlimited calls through the myFaves plan, AT&T joined the bandwagon later with an A-List plan, and Verizon offers the Friends&Family plan with unlimited calls to a select number of contacts. This is ideal for Google Voice users that opt to use the new phone number offered during signup with Google Voice (now optional), since the Google Voice number can be added to the list of phone numbers to have unlimited calls.

There is a pretty big catch though: you lose your caller ID if you use the myFavs, Friends&Family, or A-List feature.

The Workaround: Google Voice offers the ability to Enable Call Presentation, which requires users not in your contact list to announce their name upon calling, while giving you answering options. This can be a bit cumbersome and eliminates the faster, easier communication aspect, so for those wishing to take advantage of unlimited calling services, be forewarned.

Top features that make Google Voice very worthwhile for everyone, including business users

  1. All incoming calls can be recorded by pressing the number 4 (unfortunately not outgoing as of yet). It isn’t a stealthy feature, since the caller receives a recording notification that tells them the call is being recorded. There is no transcript feature for recorded phone calls, but hopefully Google will add this feature soon. It would be great to have transcripts of recorded incoming calls, especially if you have a lot of new action items from a business call that you could review in a searchable format.
  2. Voicemails come with audio recordings and transcripts that can be saved from Google Voice, which is great for users that would like to save those funny or important voicemails for future use. You can also receive e-mail notifications of new voicemails. The transcripts are searchable and a great way to save time and keep records.
  3. Text message conversations with replies are grouped together, making it easier to follow text messages surrounding a specific communication topic.
  4. International calling rates are impressively cheap, with calls to Mexico at $0.08 per minute, Japan at $0.03 per minute (WOW for Japan especially), and hundreds of other countries. VoIP is available for international calls through Google Voice.
  5. Create custom voicemail greetings for groups and individuals, separating professional voicemail from personal calls. It is also possible to setup certain individuals to be redirected to other contact numbers, including home or office.
  6. Block phone numbers by treating them as spam or completely preventing them from reaching you by calling or texting.
  7. It is now possible to keep your current mobile phone number through Google Voice, without choosing a new number. Personally, I opted for the new phone number since I have been wanting a Los Angeles area code phone number for some time, and this was a free and easy opportunity to hand pick a number that was easy to remember.
  8. Easily import contacts with CSV files from Outlook, Outlook Express, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, Eudora and some other apps as well as vCard from apps like Apple Address Book. You can export contacts into Google CSV, Outlook CSV, and vCard for Apple and other applications.

    Issues and bugs that make users want to throw a proverbial brick
    1. When receiving text messages, the text message caller ID shows a redirect number, all from area code 406 so that when you reply it shows the text message as being from your Google Voice number. Although the contact information shows up correctly from the Google Voice interface, this is not as helpful in identifying the caller when you have an extensive contact list. You have to manually add this new text message phone number to the contacts list in your phone. Google explains this as follows:
    • When you send an SMS through Google Voice, the SMS appears to be sent from your Google number. When someone sends an SMS to your Google number, and it’s forwarded to your mobile phone, it won’t appear as from the sender’s actual number (e.g., the SMS may appear from 1-406-xxx-xxxx). This is so that when you reply to the 1-406-xxx-xxxx number from your phone, the SMS you send appears to be sent from your Google number and will be saved in your Google Voice inbox. 
    • When adding multiple contacts manually to a calling group (such as Friends/Business, etc.), the Groups drop-down menu does not allow more than one contact to be moved at a time to a group. It works individually at least.
    • While the interface is for the most part intuitive and easy to figure out, changing settings and customizing contacts and groups requires too many clicks and as mentioned, some of the contact features are buggy as it is.
    • The voicemail transcript feature every so often will poorly translate messages (which in some cases can be ridiculous). A dog barking has even been incorrectly translated as “hello.” For the most part however, the transcription is impressively close to verbatim accuracy, though your less articulate friends and colleagues might have some interesting transcriptions for your amusement.
    Overall, most of the bugs are minor annoyances or hiccups, which will likely be fixed once the Google Voice system makes it past the earlier stages. While Google Voice is a free service, it seems likely that Google could have a more robust paid version, ideally suited for enterprise users and individuals who are technology junkies, such as yours truly.

    Easy to Sign Up
    Google is now open season for Google Voice and it's free to use (well, unless you want to make international calls, but still quite cheap). Simply login to your Gmail or Google account and visit to setup your account.