Monday, September 28, 2009

iPhone Keypad Tip

I suppose this could work for any cell phone, really, but I never fully appreciated the need for it until my iPhone.

You know how you call a service that requires a boatload of button pushing, like checking your bank balance or phoning in a renewal for a prescription, and you’re left constantly pulling your phone up to your ear to see what’s being said, and then down in front of you so you can type the next number?  If you ever make a mistake while typing and it starts talking to you, you won’t even hear it until you’re 8 numbers into your mistake and thoroughly confusing the thing.

Next time, put it on speaker phone.

Now you can keep it right in front of you while you type, and still hear what’s being said.

When you’re done with the typing, take it off speaker phone and talk to the human.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spying On Competitors with Bit.ly

I see a link on Twitter that I’m not interested in retweeting personally, but I’d like to see how well it’s doing.  In this case it’s a work-related URL that’s not appropriate for my personal Twitter account.  But couldn’t it just as easily be my competitor that I want to check up on?

Bit.ly is my URL shortener of choice because it lets you track the action that your links are getting – as well as how many other people have used bit.ly to track that same link.

* Click on the bit.ly link to get to the original source.

* Now, use bit.ly to shorten it yourself.  Make sure you’re signed in.

* When your new shortened link appears at the top of your history, it’s going to say something like “0 out of 50”.  The 0 represents your copy, because you haven’t done anything with it.  But if that second number is anything greater than 0?  It means that other people have used bit.ly to shorten and publicize that URL.

So for instance if you run a blog, sending your headlines out to Twitter, and you’re following your competitors wondering how much traction their headlines get?  Now you can check up on them.  You can even delete your own copy of the links if you don’t want to clutter up your own list.  Just use this trick to take a peek.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don’t Rely On Windows Update

http://blogs.chron.com/techblog/archives/2009/09/windows_7_some_ingredients_may_not_be_fresh.html

You’d think that something like this would be obvious, but it’s good when a high profile blogger brings up the problem.  If you think that just clicking Install everytime Windows Update tells you to will get you everything you need, you’re quite mistaken.  Microsoft only serves up drivers that the vendors have provided to them, and in the case of Windows 7, only those that have passed the approval process.

It doesn’t necessarily tell you that, though.  So you’re left thinking that if Update has no updates for you, you’ve got the most recent.  And that’s not true.  You’ve got the most recent that Microsoft has provided.  If you head off to the vendor’s site you’re often going to find a more recent version.

Disclaimer : If I haven’t mentioned it in the past, I work for DriverAgent (http://www.driveragent.com), whose flagship product specializes in exactly this service.  We do go out and crawl the vendors, keeping a database of the latest drivers for everything we can get our hands on.