What Does a Blogger Who Survived Hurricane Katrina?

Hurricane Katrina brought a real disaster to New Orleans and surrounding areas. People who survived it found themselves in the situation of not having anymore house to sleep in, no more clothes to wear, and so many times, no more family, or even no more life.

But as the human brain is set to forget, after a while people came back to New Orleans and tried to re-build their lives on the ruins of their old ones. Some of those people are bloggers. Maybe you’ve read their blogs many times without knowing that they were running away from the hurricane as they were writing those posts.

I was thinking the other day at a friend of mine, who’s working with me on an internet project, and who excused himself to be late with some things because he had to prepare for the hurricane. I’m fortunate to live in a blessed area, with moderate climate. The biggest wind I’ve ever seen was barely able to put down a dead tree. I think that if I had to face such a disaster, survival would have taken the first spot in my priorities (and the next ten spots on my priorities list would have been empty).

Today I discovered that there are people like PB, who after surviving Katrina, is now running away from Gustav, and meanwhile he still finds time to make a video post. Unbelievable, while being away, he’ll have to pay some $300 a night (or $100 a night) for the hotel room, as far as I’ve understood from his video. Again, I don’t get this democracy which cannot find a solution for lodging these people who were terribly hit by Katrina and who are in danger to be devastated again, this time by Gustav. Why do they give names to those storms? Only to have somebody to blame it on for so many deaths?

I’ve never read PB’s former blog (which he recently sold), but I cannot stop myself from thinking that maybe other bloggers I read are in the same situation. What I know, is that there are bloggers who pray for PB and for all other people in distress.

I surely hope Gustav dies young. Do you?


Does iPad come with SD Card

Many people have been asking this question – Does the iPad comes with and SD card slot ? The short answer is NO – and not only it does not come with an SD card slot, it is also not supported in any iPad dock. This is unlike the USB port, where at least you can get an extension by hooking an iPad dock.

The SD Card slot that would have been flushing with the edge of the iPad would have been a great boon to the photographers, camera users. You could simply take out the SD card from your camera put it in the iPad, and could start browsing the pictures in the SD Card. You could also browse through the videos shot on your SD Card. And if you needed to transfer the text files on between the computer and the iPad, SD card could have been very useful.

If you look at the price structure of the Apple iPad, you will notice that the iPad 16GB comes for $499 while the 32 GB Model comes at $100 extra at $599. Now consider another fact – a 16 GB extra SD Card comes for $30 or so on ebay. We have found it for even less at ebay, but for the sake of argument, let us say it is $30. Now you have two options to buy Apple – An iPad with 16 GB with and additional 16GB SD card at $530 or an iPad with $32 GB at $600. Which one will you prefer. And consider the flexibility that comes with the SD card. You will normally leave the SD card in the iPad, but, in case you need to transfer the data between a camera and the iPad, you just take out the SD Card from the Camera and insert it into the iPad and browse through the pictures. Is not the life easier ?

But then this does not fit into the Apple’s biz model. They will not be making extra dollars for the 16 GB space. $100 for 16 GB space is ridiculously high even by the Flash based storage standard.

An additional SD Card will also help transfer the data seamlessly between an iPad and a Windows machine. Say, for example you do some typing on your iPad while traveling. You can transfer the text document on the SD card, take it to your notebook or desktop in office and print it from the office printer.

Apple designers are you listening. Can you consider an SD card slot in the next version of the iPad ?


Review of HTC Touch Diamond

We have published by now several reviews of various aspects of HTC Touch Diamond (see the list at the end of this story!), but now here we are publishing an overall review of HTC Touch Diamond phone. After long time of using, afer release of the latest ROM upgrade that makes this phone very fast and stable, we can give informed judgement of this phone.

… so let’s start!

Hardware design

While one could say that beauty lies in the eye of beer holder, i.e. it is very subjective, certainly we can say that design of HTC Touch Diamond is very stylish from all sides. It is not a phone that other people would call “ugly”. It is nice looking. Furthermore HTC Touch Diamond is very small and thus very handy in everyday usage. It is not thick. Here is the front view of HTC Touch Diamond (click on the photo to zoom!): … where you can see the HTC Touch FLO 3D extension of HTC running on the home screen. It is a home screen plugin and can be switched off easily if somebody would like to use some other Windows Mobile home screen plugins (there are hundreds of them). You can see above that the front side of HTC Touch Diamond was designed as “very flat surface” with “HTC Black” styling, so everything is black. The case is made of metal and the display is made of very sturdy glass. The back side of HTC Touch Diamond is designed to resemble a diamond (literally!; click on the photo to zoom!): The cover can be easily removed by pulling it upwards and it reveals battery and SIM card slot (no SD card slot, instead this phone has 4GB of internal memory; click on the photo to zoom!): On the photo above please note a red point – it is a reset button that is located in the place where stylus rests. The battery is made in China but the phone is made in Taiwan (click on the photo to zoom!): The on/off switch is located on the top of the phone, together with holes for lanyard: At the bottom of the phone one can find a small hole for microphone, and an ExtUSB connector that takes also (i.e. is compatible) industry-standard mini-USB cables, but that also handles HTC-proprietary stereo headphones: In other words: one cannot charge or sync, and at the same time listen to the music with this phone – at least not without using additional accessories (like stand or cable adaptor). It is a huge mistake of HTC that they have not placed a standard 3.5 millimeter stereo miniplug inside of the phone – a phone that is supposed to be also an MP3 player due to 4GB of internal memory. People want to use other standard headsets to which they are used to, or that are made by high-class manufacturers or that offer noise reduction, etc. Quite simply: forcing people to use only HTC-made headsets or to use very uncomfortalbe in usage adapters is discouraging people from buying HTC Touch Diamond. Note: iPhone 3G has a standard 3.5 mm stereo miniplug in it, that takes any 3.5mm headset (here: HTC Touch Diamond lying on top of Apple iPhone 3G): Earth to CEO of HTC, Peter Chou: put standard 3.5 mm stereo miniplug in HTC phones or get ready for decline of HTC corporation! On the left side of HTC Touch Diamond one can find text “HTC Innovation” and volume up/down buttons: On the right side of HTC Touch Diamond one can find text “4GB Internal Storage” and (in lower part of right side) a stylus, that is automatically switching the display on, once pulled:


HTC Touch Diamond is very small and very handy. The stylus is magnetic so it sticks to the phone even if not placed in the cavity but when pulled, the act of pulling is automatically switching the display on – so there is no need to use the on/off switch at all! There is a lot of potential in this phone that is not used to the full: the tilt sensor is not documented by HTC and people are making games and utility programs based on reverse-engineered API (see link below). The automatic tilting of the display works in some applications like the Opera Mobile 9.5 that comes pre-installed in this phone. However we should mention that G-Sen utility greatly improves usability of HTC Touch Diamond because it enables automatic orientation switching – upon tilting of the phone – in all applications. And the orientation swichting is very fast withot any delays! Clearly HTC should publish documentation how to make programs that take advantage of tilt sensor and HTC should promote such programs. When one is browsing Internet with built-in Opera Mobile 9.5 then the wheel under the display can be used for zooming as you can see in this video: using Opera Mobile 9.5 in HTC Touch Diamond – it is absolutely gradual zooming and it is very comfortable. This wheel is not a physical wheel, but a surface around the action-button – a kind of virtual wheel! This wheel under the display increases usability when listeing to audio or video with built-in Windows Media player too: one can fast forward or fast rewind with use of ths wheel – while the playback is ongoing. It is very highly usable and allows for comfortable fast forwarding. All in all usability of HTC Touch Diamond is very high, and the phone is very comfortable. If you combine it with high-quality camera and highly-sensitive GPS receiver, it means that with this phone you can do a lot and still keep it very small. HTC Touch Diamond has ability to use USB as “Disk Drive (faster file transfer)” so that there is no need to install ActiveSync (Windows XP) or Windows Mobile Device Center (Windows Vista) to be able to copy files to the phone. It is a very comfortable feature and means that while you are at work you can copy files to the HTC Touch Diamond (like documents to read while commuting, or podcasts to listen, etc) without the need to install anything in your PC at work!


HTC Touch Diamond is powered by Windows Mobile 6.1 and users should always download latest version of ROM always – available at HTC’s website. Opera Mobile 9.5 is included in this phone and it is very well integrated so that it uses both tilt sensor and the wheel under the display. HTC included in this phone “RSS Hub” application that is an RSS reader and podcast catcher but it works very badly for podcast catching because it renames original file names of podcasts and generally is usueless for podcasting. Luckily there are several podcast catchers for Windows Mobile out there, many of them free, so it is not a problem, but clearly HTC should find better podcast catching application to include in their phones. The “Album” application for watching photos is nice because it enables viewing photos with sweeping gesture (to change to next photo) and it has also circle gesture used to zoom-in and zoom-out. The “Camera” application is also very good and apart from panoramic views, ability to take photos also with front facing camera for video calling, one can also record videos in 640×480/30FPS quality – so not bad. The autofocus can be controlled with the action button while user does not have to press fully this action button but even slight touch is enough to enable autofocus. Of course HTC has included also their add-on on top of Windows Mobile – HTC TouchFLO 3D, that should ease usage of the phone, but it is a matter of taste how usable it is. In any case the player included in this HTC TouchFLO 3D is nice because it shows album art – even if user downloaded the MP3 files over the air.



tilt sensor (also known as accelometer)

high-resolution display (640×480) combined with small overall size (thin and small, very handy to use)

one can turn on the display just by pulling out the stylus – no need to press any buttons

high-quality camera with 3.2 megapixel resolution and autofocus

full wireless connectivity: quad-band GSM + tri-band UMTS/HSDPA, Bluetooth, WiFi 802.11b/g

very sensitive GPS receiver is built-in

FM radio is built-in

fast data transfer over cellular network: 7.2 MB/s HSDPA


lack of standard 3.5 millimeter stereo miniplug – it should be in the phone, apart from the USB or ExtUSB socket; external adapters with 3.5 millimeter stereo miniplug are unusable for every day usage (we have tested them all!); not possible to connect super-high quality stereo headphones from high-class companies therefore.


Could Snowden Leaks Have Been Prevented?

Ensuring that an individual or organisation has enough bandwidth to carry out their tasks at work is an issue facing many modern businesses. The problem even extends to official government agencies. Indeed, a recent report from Reuters gives details about the base where famous US whistle blower Edward Snowden used to work. Plans to install an ‘anti-leak’ software system were delayed when officials at the facility believed that they did not have enough bandwidth to ensure that the installation would be successful. This is quite ironic seeing as one of the biggest revelations from the Snowden case so far has been the fact that the US intelligence agencies intercept 1.7 billion internet communications a day. It goes without saying that this would require a tremendous amount of bandwidth.

The NSA’s Remote Operations Centre in Hawaii is where Snowden worked and gathered most of his information. It is believed that he amassed a treasure trove of files within a few weeks of starting work at the facility. Whilst he managed to escape the USA and is currently granted a temporary asylum in Russia, the secrets that he discovered have shocked the world. However, the leaks may not have happened at all had a report by one of his bosses been taken seriously. In 2009 his boss at the CIA wrote a negative report on the man which identified a change in Snowden’s demeanour and an eagerness to gain access to files which didn’t concern his work interests. Who knows what would have happened if that report didn’t fall through the cracks?

Besides from the intelligence agencies, there are many other types of organisations that require access to large amounts of bandwidth. Any company that has to process a lot of information over the internet does not want to be slowed down by insufficient speed times. There are also many organisations which require a significant amount of WAN acceleration in order to conduct voice communications. Fortunately there are satellite WAN optimisation devices which can solve such problems. VOIP optimisation techniques have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, meaning that the right types of technologies are now available to deal with important tasks.

If one thing has emerged from the Edward Snowden affair, it is the fact that it is imperative to invest in the best technology possible in order for an organisation to run smoothly and minimise the risk of mistakes. Privacy is a valuable commodity in today’s world where it seems that everyone is trying to hack into other people’s conversations. Expert professional help is available for anyone who would like to invest further in their communication technologies but are unsure of where to start. Whilst there is no point in ringing up the CIA, it is relatively simple to find trustworthy suppliers online.

Never feel forced into buying products which you don’t fully understand. Any decent supplier will be willing to answer all of your queries and concerns before you have to commit to buying an item.

About the Author – Sarah Makinson is a regular contributor to a variety of consumer blogs, including Vocality.


Start Your Online Business Today: 5 Ways to Get Motivated

Many people are interested in starting their own online businesses, but these same people often cannot find the time to do it amidst all of their other responsibilities and commitments. Entrepreneurial ventures are not only an opportunity to work on projects and business ideas you are passionate about, they are also a good way to earn a living or to supplement current income to create a little more of a cushion. This certainly does not mean it’s easy.
This is a list of five ways to get motivated to start your own online business. I wrote this list with web businesses in mind because this is the kind of business I am pursuing and if you are hanging out your own shingle, chances are you are thinking about creating an internet business. In reality, to get started all you really need is web hosting.
Three Reasons an Online Business is a Good Idea
If you haven’t considered doing business online, I would highly recommend doing so even if it is just an offshoot of your idea or an extension of your brick and mortar business. Here are three reasons why.
1. Scalability and Reach
Internet business are highly scalable, meaning you can get your message or product out to thousands of people without the added cost of paying rent for a physical store. All you really need to get started is a web hosting plan and a website. Even if you just maintain a blog that you update twice a month (or less) you are still widening your footprint considerably and my be able to build leads or gain attention you otherwise would not have gained, like from people out of state–or on the other side of the world! Awesome website content is one of the things that will bring people to your website in droves.
2. Ease of Access and Affordability
You can operate a web business out of your living room–or a coffee shop (with internet access). Most coffee shops have free wifi connections so all you need is a laptop. Libraries usually have computers you can use for free.
3. Growing Opportunities and More Customers
Business is becoming more dependent on the internet and more and more people now go to the internet to find items or services they need. Many people believe that they can find the best deals online and some shop online exclusively. Consumer confidence and comfort shopping on the Internet is growing exponentially year over year. This holiday season I plan to buy most of my gifts for family and friends online. I am hearing the same sentiments from a lot of people. Why not when it is so easy and when gas is so expensive?
Five Ways to Motivate Yourself to Start Your Online Business
Now let’s get into how to motivate yourself to work on your own online business–here are a few tips.
1. Set ridiculously short times to work on your project
This is nothing groundbreaking, but I think you should start out by making the times you work on your project very short. Say, 20 minutes every day.
By making the times your work on your business extremely short, you will never dread starting because you will always know that after working hard for 20 minutes, you will be done and can relax and do something else for a few minutes. You get a reward for the time you put in. Look at it as the light at the end of the tunnel–or is that too morbid?
The truth is that if your personal business project involved something you are passionate about, you will want to work longer and will probably realize soon that hours have passed. But if you set an easy goal, you will achieve it and feel good. Anything is progress, even 20 minutes at a time.
2. Reward Yourself
You probably know the image of dangling a carrot from a stick in front of a horse’s mouth. The horse may continue to follow the carrot even after hours or days of not even getting a bite. This may work for animals, but humans are different. After ten minutes of this game, humans would give up. We’re too smart–we know we’re not going to get the carrot.
But if you set certain goals that are very achievable, you should reward yourself for a job well done. For instance, say you set a goal to work 20 minutes every other day. If you stick to this, you should reward yourself and give yourself that positive reinforcement. It’s all about creating a pattern so that the project progresses and you have certain goals to achieve and rewards to earn. Make this process fun. Don’t only reward yourself after you make your first sale or get a link from a well known website or something like this–keep it internal and reward yourself for simply finishing difficult tasks that need to be done.
3. Accomplish Something Small
Too often we ignore the small picture details because we are focused on the ultimate goal. This is important, but you don’t want to forget that it takes a lot of little steps to get to the final prize, and every step is important. Keep the end goal in mind at all times, like the launch of your new website, but really keep your eyes on the next few steps. It’s too easy to feel that the goal is too far away and unattainable. The next step forward is a whole lot closer.
4. Make a Friend or a Colleague in the Same Business
Everyone talks about networking in business and in life. It’s incredibly important–we’re social creatures. If you can find someone who is in a similar or related business to the one you are starting, it will help you immensely to talk to them about it. You will gain valuable insight as well as some pleasure from the interaction. This will make the solitary process of starting your own business more social.
5. Keep it Fun
Abandon projects that feel too much like work. Since you are starting your own business, you make the rules. The buck stops with you (whatever that means!). Why not keep it fun? Keeping it fun doesn’t mean you don’t work hard–in fact, keeping it fun will most likely make you work harder because it will be more enjoyable. Sure, every project has grunt work and difficult tasks that need to be handled, but if your project starts to become boring or you just don’t want to move forward with it, just move on to another one.
The truth is it is better to move on sooner than later. Why waste the time on something you are not passionate about anymore? You probably won’t do that good of a job anyway. It won’t be a total loss because you’ll learn something. Call it research.
Starting an online business can be a very worthwhile and profitable experience. Just remember it makes it a whole lot easier if you are passionate about your business idea. This will give you the added incentive to work hard at it.
It is easy to say that we are in very bad economic times at the moment and the job market is pretty terrible, but this poor market also opens the door to the opportunity to do something you love to do. I know it’s not easy, but it is a whole heck of a lot easier than it ever has been before.
I mean that the internet has cut out certain costs and other barriers to entry that have existed before in business. There is a lot of opportunity out there for entrepreneurs to fill the needs of consumers.
Small Businesses That Thrive
Owning a small business that thrives can be a very difficult venture. In fact, being a business owner is a lifestyle choice more than it is just a career choice.
You are not sheltered from economic change, i.e., you don’t have a steady paycheck if people stop buying your product or service. Small businesses that thrive are the ones that are light on their feet and can adapt to changing circumstances quickly and efficiently.
Good luck!

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