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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mailbox App for iOS - Can you adjust to it?

Mailbox App for iOS - Can you adjust to it?

I downloaded this application about two weeks and I had a countdown from roughly 600,000. I finally got it today. I set it up with my GMail and I got a chance to use it throughout the day.

I had a lot of emails in my Inbox. To make this application do the GTD (Getting Things Done) on your emails, I first had to archive all my emails or move them to some "AlreadyReadEmails" label.

So I started with empty Inbox and messages were flowing in.

As you can see in the screenshot, the Mailbox app allows you to do the following with each email by just swiping:

** Archive it
** Delete it
** Snooze it
** Move it into a nested label that belongs to "Mailbox" parent label



In the past, I trained myself to do the following when I get emails:
  1. Move email(s) into an "action" label  OR
  2. Star it   OR
  3. Leave in Inbox and then at the end of day try to clean my Inbox
When it comes to the Mailbox app, I find myself spending too much time deciding where to put the message because the rule of thumb is that you cannot leave it in the Inbox. Maybe I am not fully trained on the GTD approach. I like only acting on option 1 or 2 from above and at the end of the day, I would be cleaning the the Inbox.

Another frustrating thing is that I cannot move emails into one my previously created labels. I only have options to move to nested labels/Lists within Mailbox parent label as per the screenshot.

Conclusion:

If you are used to iOS Mail app and Google's GMail app, you should/might give this application a try, but don't have high expectations. If you already have a good system for managing emails and it is not fully a GTD system, then you will struggle. Be patient.

>>> Update after 3 days
Three days into it and I am liking this app more and more. Emails sometimes come a few minutes late, but I am sure that they will improve their servers. I am assuming that Mailbox keeps all the email headers and scheduling information on their servers and also on the client/phone; so if the phone dies, you can still sync it and get your snoozing information back.


Keywords: #mailbox #mailboxapp #GTD #emailapp #iOS #managingemails
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2012 Mazda 2 - my test-drive

2012 Mazda 2 - my test-drive

I test-drove a 2012 Mazda 2 with 5-speed manual transmission.

Here is a quick review:

It is somewhat a zippy little car. It handles good with stock suspension as people talk about it online and with aftermarket mods, it can do Porsche 911 and Nissan GTR handling; I am talking about 1.04Gs.

It has no horsepower and no torque. It really never pulls you in the seat.

The engine is very eager and wants to be revved so it makes it fun. It reminds me of Civics back when I was in high-school days.

The car likes to be driven hard and the stick shift is really good. Very precise and crispy. It is not good to compare it to a short shifter in one Boxter I test-drove, but to be honest, it is very similar to that. Mazda must've taken the transmission from the Mazda Miata; that's why it is precise and fun.

The clutch is very soft and very sensitive in 1st gear so it is tough to launch for me as I am used to medium/heavy feel in the clutch in VWs that I owned.

Overall:

It is a nice little fun car, but I got spoiled with 220hp on my modified VW. If I could get 10-20hp on top of stock 100hp keeping it normally aspirated, I would consider buying this knowing that the car handles well. It has a potential to pull 72mph in slalom and 1.04 Gs with aftermarket parts; the B-spec version of this car gets those numbers.


Keywords: #mazda #mazda2 #bspec #carreview #autoreview 
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2006 Porsche Carrera S - My test-drive

2006 Porsche Carrera S - My test-drive

This is car is just amazing. My friend let me test-drive his 2006 Carrera S (997) and I was smiling all day. Porsche 911 definitely is still my dream car for sure 110%. This car would put a smile on your face every day going to work. This car handles like it is on rails and at the same time it is comfortable enough for my taste that I could take it on a 3-4 hour trip to Vegas and not get tired. 


Engine/Transmission:
Let me talk about the power. It has 355hp but it feels like 380hp because Porsche just masters in transferring that power to the wheels. I don't think that I would need the Turbo version of 911 because this one is just perfect as daily driver. This one had an automatic transmission (with shifting buttons on the steering wheel) and the shifting felt as if you are driving a manual as the shifts were not too perfect and fast such as double-clutch transmissions that a lot of cars have these days; I kind of liked this automatic as I've been driving manual all my life and it clearly makes me aware of what gear I am in and when it shifts. I am sure that the new PDK transmission performs better, but I definitely like the shifting on this automatic.

Handling:

This car just takes any apex confidently and the feedback through the steering wheel is raw and perfect; it is neutral with a bit of over-steer in street driving and on the track, I could definitely get it to oversteer more. The steering gives you the real feedback from the road that I could almost tell if I ran over a dime or nickel.

Conclusion:

If you were looking to buy a new sports car in $45k-$70k range, step back and think about it. Test-drive a used 2006 Porsche 911 Carrera S with low mileage; the car felt like new, tight and reliable. Let me put it this way: I spend more money maintaining my old VW (which I loved) than my friend did on his Porsche.


Keywords: #porsche #porsche911 #carrera #porschecarrera #testdrive #carreview #autoreview
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Living with Chromebook

I have been using Chromebook for more than a week and I am in the position to comment more on how useful this device is.

For $250, it seems to be good build quality. The keyboard feels good. I love the touch-pad  The screen is nice because it is NOT glassy.

The file manager local app is good enough for users that do simple things such as saving pictures and accessing specific documents that are saved locally or on your flash drive.

The battery lasts solid 6 hours. This is a big advantage of this laptop. Instead of signing out of your account, I always shut down because that saves the battery and I only need  up to 10 seconds to boot up.

The file manager local app has ability to navigate to Google Drive. It actually scans your whole Google Drive and downloads the header information and caches it locally. 

The search button on the keyboard pops up a search field and what I love is that it searches your bookmarks, local drive, Google Drive and Google search in general.

Is this a computer for you?
It is as a secondary computer that you use to browse the web, pay online bills and occasionally upload pictures from your camera to your USB drive or to the cloud. If you plan to do anything more than this, then you need that primary computer in your house to save you. When you think about it more, we probably spend more than 90% of our time in the browser when it comes to personal computing. If you go home and continue doing programming and other technical work, then this laptop is not for you.

I say that I feel more "secure" with Chromebook. When I say "more secure", I mean the computer is very lightweight and the number of apps doing outgoing and incoming connection is pretty much limited to the browser. The more apps/services you have running, the higher chance is that some have loopholes that hackers have not discovered.

CONCLUSION:
I think that the trend is going in the direction where our computers will be very lightweight terminals tapping into servers/cloud for more processing. This reminds me of Unix world where I started my software engineering career. I think that Chromebook is a bit ahead of its time because you cannot do everything on the web that you can do on your computer with local application. With HTML5 this is becoming more possible and we are heading in that direction.



Keywords: #chromebook #chrome #chromeos #cloud #cloudcomputing #samsung
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Technology News - Alternative to catching up on tech news


How do you approach catching up on technology news?


I typically go into some RSS reader to read the technology news or I would visit the web sites of all tech news/review companies. 

There is an alternative and that is sitting back and listening to podcasts and internet TV. What do I mean by this? 

You can catch up by watching tech shows on 




Get a Roku 3 box and watch these shows on your TV through Roku apps. It may sound that I am promoting these two companies, but that’s not the case. You will be enjoying these tech shows and their sponsors will take care of the rest.

If you care only about audio, you can listen to these shows live on TuneIn Radio or you can choose to listen to previously recorded shows.

Enjoy it because I am.


Keywords: #tech #technology #twit #revision3 #tekzilla

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Friday, March 22, 2013

1Password vs. LastPass? Which password management product is for you?


1Password vs. LastPass? It boils down to Local vs. Semi-Cloud vs. Cloud solution. Both products are very good solutions. What fits you?

A lot of us constantly struggle with the question where we keep our passwords. First, I strongly recommend that you passwords are all very strong and unique. Then it boils down to three cases and answers to that will guide you towards 1Password or LastPass. Those cases are:

OPTION #1: Passwords are encrypted and kept on you computer without ever being in the cloud? Keep in mind that you sacrifice the ease of use.


OPTION #2: Passwords encrypted and kept on your computer locally and also in the cloud where it is also encrypted by the Dropbox cloud solution. This approach gives you ease of use, ability to sync across computers/devices through the cloud and it also keeps the file on your local hard-drive so you have it for yourself in case things go wrong in the cloud.

OPTION #3: Passwords encrypted and kept ONLY in the cloud and hidden behind two-factor authentication. With this approach you don’t have a local version of the file; so if the website hosting your information goes down, you might possibly lose your information. On the other hand it is easy to use because you don’t need a desktop application; all you need is a browser.

CONCLUSION:
If you are happy with option 1 or 2, then you need to use 1Password software.

If you are happy with option 3, then you can pick LastPass.com and keep your passwords in the cloud.


Keywords: #1password #lastpass #security #cloud #passwords

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Passion for cars: Magnus Walker and his Porsches


Passion for cars: If you are a car guy, you need to watch this short film again and again. It is about Magnus Walker and his Porsches. Here is the link to the film:







After watching this short film, it makes me want to sell my car with all the electronics and get something old-school to drive to work. 

Magnus was also on Jay Leno's Garage show. Here is the video of that:












Height adjustable desks to treat the sitting disease: What choices do you have?


Height adjustable desks to treat the sitting disease: What choices do you have?


1. Innovative and expensive

One example is HumanScale adjustable table that floats:

2. Electric and average price



3. Manual/CrankUps and it still works


4. Versa Desk that is installed on top of your regular desk.... interesting.




Keywords: #desk #adjustabledesk #adjustabletable #workdesk #table #tech#

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

OneNote and OmniFocus? What about Evernote and Google Keep?


OneNote and OmniFocus. Can we compare these? What about Google Keep and Evernote.

As you know OmniFocus is a rich tool for managing your tasks with scheduling/reminder capability on Apple devices.

On the other hand, OneNote is a powerful Microsoft’s product for managing your notes.

Evernote has been around for a while and Google Keep is the new player in the game.

The purpose of this post is:

1. Urge Microsoft to look into functionality of OneNote and slightly expand it to meet the requirements of advanced users.

2. Urge Evernote to look into functionality of Evernote and slightly expand it to have scheduling and reminder capabilities.

A lot of you use Microsoft Outlook at work and at home and you might manage your tasks and to-do list within the tasks feature of Outlook. This is relatively basic way of managing your tasks. On the other hand, you are keeping all your notes in OneNote. Wouldn’t it be good if you could have everything in one tool. What I am alluding to is OneNote having scheduling features that Outlook tasks have or what OmniFocus has on Macs.


The same applies to Evernote and Evernote having scheduling/reminder capabilities.


In a nutshell, it would be good if you could tag notes in OneNote/Evernote with a due date and maybe have single screen where you can see all the notes that have due dates. This feature would make OneNote/Evernote very powerful.

What do you think?


Keywords:  
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OneNote in Google Drive or Dropbox? What? Why?


OneNote in Google Drive or Dropbox? What? Why?

If you are really paranoid about the security and you desperately want two-step authentication, then Hotmail/Outlook.com/Skydrive is not something you would use. However, you might be a big fan of Microsoft OneNote that increases your productivity.

So what do you do in this case?  Simple answer is run OneNote and save your notebooks in Google-Drive or Dropbox.

1. Install Google Drive or Dropbox client on your computer.

2. When creating your notebooks in OneNote, save them into GoogleDrive or Dropbox folder.

3. This automatically syncs it into the cloud.

4. Then you do the same setup on your other computers where you use OneNote.

5. When you go to your other computer, your OneNote notebooks will be automatically there.

Note: To keep the sync process very stable, make sure you close OneNote on one computer before you use it on the other computer.

Adding more security typically means the impact on usability and that is the case in this situation as well. If this is too complicated for you, then I suggest just using OneNote with SkyDrive and make your SkyDrive passwords very strong.


Keywords: #OneNote   #Microsoft   #GoogleDrive  #dropbox #sync #twostep #twofactor #security
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Car Purchase - Tips on how to approach it?



1. Bring someone with you so that the salesman does not keep the eye contact with you 100% of the time. That's what they want.


2. Bring printouts of Invoice prices from Yahoo Autos or MSN Autos. This can be used so that salesman does not give you some unreal MSRP prices.


3. Never negotiate on the monthly payment. Negotiate on the price of the car before taxes or after taxes (your choice).


4. It is NOT over yet. After you make the deal on the overall price of the car, it is NOT over yet.


5. You will be taken to a finance guy who will print out a bunch of papers and trust us, they will always be some add-ons that you did not explicitly agree on. Please review it all and see if your monthly payments match and if the duration of the loan matches. Take your time.

6. Now, you are done. Wait, did they give you the keys and the car.


Keywords: cars, auto, purchase, buy
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Monday, March 18, 2013

How much do you trust the cloud?


How much do you trust the cloud? This is a very loaded question and it is very connected to the customer loyalty that companies display these days and how much trust they convey in their encryption methodologies.

(1) Loyalty to customers

If you are using services from big companies, then the reality is that these services are not the only focus of this company and at the same time you know that the company is very stable overall. They could discontinue a product if it is not generating enough revenue; that is totally understood because they have responsibilities towards shareholders to keep the revenue flowing. One recent example is Google Reader being discontinued even though it is not a crucial part of average person's cloud experience.When I say crucial, I am talking about the documents that you save in the cloud and important emails. For example, I would be very frustrated if my Gmail and Hotmail/Outlook email services got discontinued. I would be very impacted if Google Drive, SkyDrive and Dropbox got discontinued.

On the hand, if you are using services from smaller companies, you know that this specific service is one of few products they offer and that they are committed to it; however, you have to carefully track the stability of this company.

(2) Encryption Methodologies

You base your decisions on the encryption methodologies for passwords and data that you store in the cloud.

For example, you know that Google does not encrypt your data that is in the cloud, but they offer a very good two-step authentication that gives you extra confidence.

On the other hand, Dropbox encrypts the data that you store on their servers and until recently they did not have two-factor authentication. Now that they do have two-factor authentication, their service is definitely more attractive to me.

In conclusion, you are the one who needs to decide for yourself by taking this information into your consideration.

For those of you who are new to cloud solutions, here are some of the products/companies. You probably are not new to the cloud because you are on my blog. In any case, here is the list:


  • GMail
  • Hotmail/Outlook
  • Yahoo Email
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • SkyDrive
  • Carbonite.com
  • 1Password
  • LastPass.com
  • Facebook.com
  • Twitter.com
  • Evernote
  • OneNote in SkyDrive
  • OmniFocus




Sunday, March 17, 2013

Scratch - programming language for kids


You probably heard by now that a bunch of celebrities and company founders (i.e. Bill Gates) are promoting the understanding of computer programming for kids in regular education.

MIT developed this programming language for kids called Scratch to teach kids the concept of programming. You can download it for your kids, nephews and nieces from code.org.

I really like it. I wish I had this before I started programming in Basic back in early high school days. It puts aside all the low-level details (that needs to be eventually understood), but it focuses on easy writing of code, the concept of loops, IF conditions, WHILE loops, variables, events and so on.


Here is a link for video tutorial for Scratch:


#tech #technology #code #programming #computers #scratch #MIT