Sunday, January 28, 2018

Now I am a TV broadcaster!

Audio version of this post
One of the reasons for this blog was to share my absolute delight with technology.  Let me share my most recent delight.

First, a little of my background is relevant here.  I earned a BA in Broadcast Journalism back in 1978 yet within two years embarked on the career of selling computers, other technology and enterprise software.  Broadcasting becanme a memory.

About twelve years ago we bought a couple consumer grade video cameras and Adobe Premiere. I was astonished at the product I could put out. It was comparable to what I could in 1978 with access to a TV station.  I used the capability to shoot a couple of friend's weddings and make a couple of documentaries.  Some are at my YouTube Channel.

Last night, I fooled around with a free software product called Open Broadcast Studio, or OBS for short.

For those who know video production a bit, OBS is basically acts a video switcher.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Ken Levine

One of the many things I could have seen myself doing was writing television screenplays. I even wrote a MASH script for a class in college. It's long lost, probably a good thing.

One person who knows about writing good MASH scripts is Ken Levine.  He is a writer, producer and director on shows like MASH,  Cheers, Frasier and many more.

His blog at is a daily read. He has a lot of insights on television and the entertainment business. And he has a great podcast too.

I'd forgotten until recently that back in 2008 he even wrote an entire column answering a question I wrote.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Goodbye Amazon Cloud (for us--it's not going away)

When Amazon Cloud first came out, I was happy to sign up for $60 a year for unlimited storage.

I knew there had been many unlimited cloud offers that later became limited (I'm looking at you Microsoft! among others), but I thought if anyone would keep their commitment it would be Amazon. After all, with AWS and their other services, they are as much a cloud services company as they are a retailer.  And they offer a lot of add-on benefits to Prime members like us.  I thought they stood the best chance of being truly unlimited. Or, if they did one day limit storage,to do so at a higher value than Microsoft or others.  That is, more than a terabyte.

My primary responsibility as the Director of Family IT in my opinion is to make sure there is effective backup for our various computers.  Amazon Cloud would play nicely for that.

I purchased licenses of ARQBackup and had it setup so my laptop and my wife's backed up to Amazon.  It worked wonderfully. I was even able to log into Cloud while my wife was out of the country for four months to make sure her system was still backing up.

Alas, Amazon  reneged on their unlimited offer.  They have instead setup multiple tiers.  For the $60 you used to pay for unlimited for a year, you now only get a terabyte.  And each additional terabytabout e is a full $60 annually.  It isn't a bad deal compared to the competitors.  Google is $120 a year for a terabyte, Dropbox is about $100.

My contention remains : as a service to Prime members, and considering their awesome Cloud presence, I expect better from Amazon.

And why 100% for each incremental step?  That first terabyte has customer acquisition, advertising, overhead, and retention costs in it. Why not add additional terabytes for less than the full $60?  

I think they missed a chance to soften the blow. They should have made it five terabytes for $60 a year.  In one year of Cloud service, I've paid for a physical drive (I'm assuming they pay a lot less per gigabyte of hardware drive than their charge consumers for consumer drives.   Year 2 I've likely paid for the bandwidth and overhead costs.

So why not just buy a 5 gigabyte drive of my own?  Responsible backing up requires off site backups.  That's the service I'm buying from Amazon.

So now I've switched so each machine backing up to One Drive. We get a terabyte of One Drive with our Office 365 subscriptions for five people; essentially, five terabytes for $99 a year.  It's a great deal!  But I could see us dropping Office at some point in the future; Google Docs is good enough.  

It would be great if Amazon met our needs for storage as we once hoped they would.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Delta to allow inflight texting

Now this is an idea I can get behind.

The idea of the person next to me talking on their cell phone during a flight is repulsive.  They likely have to yell to be heard,

and the coverage is likely to be spotty and frustrating (more yelling).

But texting?  That would be awesome. No yelling. Buffering of messages should coverage be momentarily lost, and people can stay in touch.

Heck, I text more than I call now, and I'm a boomer.  X-Gen and Millennials will likely have no issue with this.

Delta announced they will offer free in flight texting!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

RIP Jerry Pournelle

The writer that may have influenced me the most, is one whose books I have never read.

Jerry Pournelle has passed away at age 84.  He authored countless sci-fi books.  He is known for writing the first book using a computer; a computer that is now in the Smithsonian.

It was his column for Byte Magazine in the 80s that caught my interest.

In his monthly Chaos Manor column, he told his tales of woe for that month getting the computers in his home to work properly.  He struggled with early networking, balky printers, buggy software and all the struggles those of us from that era knew all too well.

I recall some computer publication wag as saying Apple should send a copy of Chaos Manor to every one in the country.  It showed just how much easier those early Macs were to the PCs of the day running Windows.

I still remember Pournelle's Law : check the cables first.  Too often they are the culprit, but often the last thing we check.  My cable tester is my best used tool.

When I wrote my own tech column for the newspapers of Prince William County, I strived to be like Jerry and tell stories of my own adventures but to try and make what I learned benefit the reader.

For more information about Jerry, see his website, Wikipedia and a list of his books on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Please help me make a list of note taking apps with phone & web and/or PC/Mac clients?

Regular readers know I use and write about Evernote and Keep. In fact, I am enchanted  with all notetaking apps. I'm constantly adding them to my phone to play with for a bit.

In my mind,there are three tiers of notetaking apps

  • Tier 1 : smart phone apps for iphone and/or Android coupled with both a web app and a client for PC and/or Mac
  • Tier 2 : smart phone apps for iphone and/or Android with a web app
  • Tier 3 : smart phone apps only 

The apps store list the Tier 3 apps. And if you explore each one, you can determine which are really tier 2 or 1 apps.

My question to you then, is do you know of  tier 1 or 2 note taking app I am not yet aware?

I know about :

  • Dropbox 
  • Paper 
  • Evernote 
  • Keep 
  • OneNote 
  • Trello 
  • Simplenote 
  • Audionote 
  • Also Zoho Notebook because apparently a web app is coming soon
Which ones am I missing?

You can comment here, or use this Google Form to tell me.

Once I have a good list, I'll review each in the coming months.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Do you use your cell phone for business? You need a filter between your business & personal communications.

If you use your cell phone for business calls, you will want to set up a “filter” between your phone and your business contacts i.e. clients, customers, co-workers, supervisors.

Google Voice is that filter.


How does Google Voice work?

You receive a unique telephone number.  When someone calls that number, it seamlessly forwards to your cell phone.  When you place a call, your Google Voice number shows up on caller ID.

Likewise, when someone sends a text to your GV number, it shows up on your phone. And when you text, it shows up as having come from your GV number.

And the best thing:  it is free.

What does Google Voice do?

As mentioned above,when someone dials your GV number, it can ring your cell phone. It can also ring your landline too, if you have one.

If your phone is lost or damaged, you can borrow someone else’s phone, or buy a cheap pay-as-you go phone and simply tell GV to forward calls to that phone until  you find or replace your phone.

Without GV, any business (or personal) calls to your lost or broken phone would go to voicemail you would have to pick up periodically from another phone. Not good customer service.

GV gives you a lot of power to control when your receive calls.  There is a Do Not Disturb function you can set from the mobile apps. When you go into a meeting, you can set the phone to send all phone calls to voicemail, and not notify you of text messages until you turn Do Not Disturb off.

You can set up GV so any calls from numbers you do not know, are answered with an announcement asking the caller’s name. GV then plays you the name, and lets you decide whether to take the call or not.

Voice mails are transcribed by Artificial Intelligence and text and/or emailed to you. While not perfect, it gives you the gist of what the message is about.

Voice mails and text messages are stored forever; giving you an audit trail of your business  communications.

Calls placed from GV in the US are free, and low cost for international calls.

Unfortunately, GV is only available for US customers.

What if a former client insists on contacting you?

You can make a custom voicemail announcement for a specific phone number. That client calling it, would get a message reminding them that someone else is working with their account, and giving out that phone number.

What if I leave the company?

You can simply have all of the calls go to an announcement advising your business contacts you have moved on.  And then you can create a new Google Voice number for your new job.

How do I get a Google Voice number?

In an Incognito Mode window of your desktop or laptop web browser go to
That window may be called InPrivate, or some other name depending on your browser.

Click More Options

And then Create Account

Go through the prompts to create a Google Account. You can have as many free Google accounts as you want.  So if your personal account is, you can make the one you are using while at IBM as

It really does not matter what the name is; you are not going to use that email address.  You just need to have a Google Account to get a new Google Voice Account.

Next, go to

Click the blue button, and follow the prompts.

Choose Web for now.

Follow the rest of the prompts to create and setup a Google Voice number.

Finally, search the Google Play Store, or Apple App Store as appropriate, to find the Google Voice app for your phone and install it.

You can manage your Google Voice at :

Some settings are still on the legacy Google voice at :

This is not meant to be a comprehensive user's guide for Google Voice.  There is a ton of help information and articles about Google Voice online to help you be productive.

I've been using Google Voice since it was Grand Central; before Google bought them in 2009. Since about 2006, my Grand Central/Google Voice number has been the only one I have handed out.

This might sound like an ad. It isn't. I'm just a fan.