Archive for November, 2009

Persistent news search, aka news alerts

November 29, 2009

Many startups ago I ran Internet Operations for a persistent change notification service. In its simplest form, it monitored web sites and sent an email when it detected a non-trivial change. It was a great server-based product and was used by many of the major Internet companies back during the Internet boom because it was a unique service at the time. The company is long gone and similar technologies are in use all around the web today.

You may find this hard to believe but I just found myself in need of a persistent news search (a service that constantly searches new news stories and notifies me when certain terms appear) and couldn't find one! Where else would I look but Google, yet I could find nothing on the Google News page. So I turned to Google search and it turned up Google Alerts at You can set up your search to only look in news, blogs, web sites, etc. or search everything and you can have the alerts delivered in email or via RSS feed.

Once I found this on Google, I checked out and guess what? — it's more prominently displayed on its search results page! I would imagine Yahoo has the same capability but I couldn't easily find it on Yahoo's search page.


Verizon MiFi – the wonders of a cellular router

November 17, 2009
Last week, Wednesday, November 11 to be precise, I bought a Novatel cellular WiFi router from Verizon Wireless which Verizon calls the MiFi. No, I’m not giving up my Android phone, I’m adding coverage and flexibility. Yes, my phone can act as a cellular WiFi router but it’s not really designed to drive both the cellular radio and the WiFi radio (the base of the phone heats up quite a bit after a while).

The MiFi lets me connect up to 5 devices and supports both 802.11b and 802.11g (no, it doesn’t support 802.11n). You access the Internet via Verizon’s cellular network and I’ve gotten very respectable speeds — in excess of 2Mbps upload and 512Kbps download in some very limited tests. Verizon has 3 plans available, none of which provides unlimited data so I opted for the $60/month 5GB/month plan since I don’t plan to use in excess of 150MB each and every day of the month.

Setup and operation is a snap! Insert the battery, turn it on and connect via WPA-TKIP (the passkey is printed on the bottom of the MiFi). It supports MAC filtering, VPN, TKIP and AES as well as WEP and can function as an open access point (no security) via a web interface that also tells you how many bytes you’ve sent and received in total (resettable by the user) and since powering on.

Is it worth it? You’ll have to judge for yourself. To me it is. Verizon offers it without contract as well as on a 1-year and a 2-year contract. I can use it in my car, at hotels, at my work when I want to keep my traffic off the work net, really, anywhere Verizon gets a signal (which is nearly everywhere — there’s a map for that)

15″ Android tablet with 3G?

November 13, 2009
From what little’s there, it looks really sweet! The article says it should be available next year. See this AndroidGuys post.

Google welcomes Gizmo5

November 12, 2009

Don't yet know what this might mean but I love my Google Voice account. If you dial my Google Voice number, it's actually a free inbound Gizmo5 number that rings at home through my VoIP router. And, of course, I have the Google Voice app installed on my G1 and use it all the time.

Pay for hosted email? You betcha! And a deal on Fastmail accounts

November 6, 2009
     I’ve been an enthusiastic user and supporter of Fastmail for a while now.They’ve got Personal accounts, Business accounts and Family accounts (this last provides a single control panel for all related accounts). I started with a free account, called a Guest account, then moved right up to their top-tier, fully-paid Enhanced account and have never been unhappy. While their Guest account only allows for 10MB of email storage, it’s enough to give you a sense of what they offer. You can do what I did –set up a forward from my old email account to my free Fastmail account and manage my email from there to try it out. They’ve got a GREAT webmail UI, IMAP and WAP access (if your phone doesn’t have a fully functional browser) and, on everything beyond the free accounts, POP3 and SMTP along with file storage and retrieval, LDAP, the ability to publish a web site, rules, SMS, personalities and, well, a TON of other features that I just can’t list here.

OK, so, what’s the deal? This month (November), you can get 3 years for the price of two. So, you can get 3 years of an Ad-free account ($4.95 for a year) for $9.90, 3 years of a Full account ($19.95 for a year) for $39.90 and 3 years of an Enhanced account ($39.95 — the account I’ve had for a couple of years now) for $79.90!

Like I said, I can’t recommend them highly enough. And if you decide to sign up, please use my affiliate link and I’ll get credit for your sign-up.

What does Google know about you?

November 5, 2009
From this post over at GottaBeMobile I discovered that you can find out what Google knows about you by going to the Dashboard. You need to be logged in with the Google account about which you want information.

Live NBC/ABC/CBS/Fox on your phone

November 2, 2009 broadcasts live RTSP streams of the 4 major US
broadcast networks. You have to leave an “email” address but I
inadvertently left just “vui” and I got in.