Mobile Services Review


General Thoughts

Google provides the most coverage of the categories, although typically not the best.  They have some real improvement to be made here.  Yahoo! seems to do the best for coverage and quality.  Microsoft is lacking on a few fronts but their find a business (which is probably the best feature of a mobile service period) feature was clearly the best. Google services are slow, so are Yahoo!.  Microsoft is the fastest.

Rating scale 0-3, 0 if they did not offer the service.


The Winner

I’m a gmail guy so I find myself in Google’s Gmail Mobile most of the time, Google understands mail & map applications.  Yahoo! has the leg up on Google for the other areas besides Find Business.  Microsoft does a really nice job with their category/movies/find a business, it has the most potential.    But still the winner goes to Google Services. 

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Shiny new Surround SCM 2008

Today I upgraded our internal Surround SCM database to the latest beta build for Surround SCM 2008.  We run the server on a MAC OS X 10.4 box and the server upgrade was a snap. One of the nicest features of Surround is that it just “works” across platforms, server or client.  The client install also was piece of cake (except for the PC restart, but hey that’s not too bad).  The UI in Surround SCM 2008 is the first thing that will catch your attention.  Not saying the previous version was ugly, ok it was ugly, but 2008 “feels” so much better. Surround does some really cool menu navigation which helps out the navigation immensely.  One challenge developers/software have is as they add features, the software itself becomes complicated to use, so thinking about the UI can really let users get more from these added features.  I have to say I’m pretty impressed.


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Verizon Wireless Tools

Phone Number Checker – Put in a phone number and it tells you if it is part of the Verizon IN network.  A great tool to see if your friends are free calls or not.  Psss, here is the Cingular/AT&T version.

Verizon Minutes Used Firefox Extension – This tool is really sweet, a firefox plugin that looks at your Verizon account and displays how many minutes you have used, text usage, how many minutes left, next billing cycle and more at the bottom of your FireFox browser. – This is your verizon email address (replace with your area code phone number of course).

Who Called Us – Not a verizon tool but a still good to know.  Plug in the phone number and see who really called you from that 1800 number.

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Blackberry 8830 Applications

So now I’m running with a Blackberry 8830, carried by Verizon.  Verizon stripped out the GPS in this phone & a bunch of people are more then upset (see class action lawsuit).  Hopefully they will get the picture soon & release a firmware update to un-disable their feature.

Applications I’m running

  • Gmail – A must have if you are running a gmail email account.
  • Google Maps – I find it better then Blackberry’s Maps, plus the ability to search for local business and get directions is too easy.  Google Maps mobile is a must have.
  • Opera 4 mini beta – It gives you that iPhone feeling browsing the web. It’s the not the greatest but the best small phone browser I’ve found 
  • Berry Bloglines – A Bloglines rss reader that works very nicely. It only pulls down unread entries and allows you to read post there and not have to
  • JiveTalk – Verizon won’t let you run the Blackberry native AIM client (http://www.blackberry/aim), Jive Talk gives you multiple IM clients (AIM, Yahoo, Live).  I’m running the 30 day eval, if I end up buying it, it’ll cost me $19.95. Pretty sweet.

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Interspire’s StoreSuite

 It looks like the Interspire folks are going to be releasing a new PHP/MySQL e-commerce solution named StoreSuite in the 4th quarter 2007.  I’m really excited about a new player in this space.  Like all of the tools you’ll get the source code when you purchase.  I already use their SendStudio product for mass mailing and definitely dig it so I’m hoping for a similar experience with StoreSuit.  Interspire is doing some great thing in the php/mysql commercial web application space.

Features that I like:

  • Payment gateway configurations
  • Built in SendStudio Integration
  • Ajax Interface
  • Product Comparison Built in
  • Shop By Price
  • Shop By Brand
  • Drag & Drop Design Mode
  • Real Time Recommendations (see Chris Smith post about the tech side of doing this, a great read for php/mysql developers.)

New technology makes online shopping easier than ever! The best credit cards offer identity theft protection so you stay safe while shopping online. Look online for great offers on student credit cards with low limits or a gas credit card with great rewards.

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Remote Desktop Replacement

Scott released his 2007 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows.  Scott’s the man. especially for tools so I’ll be checking into his suggestions over the next months for sure & giving a little write up on some of the finer tools I discover.

First one up is Terminals.  An open source multi tab remote desktop client.

Why it Rocks
  • Multiple TS connections on one screen, managed thru tabs just like FireFox
  • Saved connections.  Very similar to a smart SSH client like SSH Tectia Client
  • Saved Passwords.  Encrypted of course.
  • Change Environment Variables.  You can set connections to use variable screen resolution, no wallpaper etc…
  • Log into a group of server at once. No need to log into individual servers at a time with this thing.

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Amazon S3 for Backups

I’m really looking forward to Google’s version of S3, Google tends to do things better plus free ;).    Until then I’m going with Amazon S3 for my personal backup strategy.  Right now I have a media PC with a 100 Gig hard drive, that is mirrored that serves this purpose but we really don’t use it enough to justifying it running all the time.  Plus in the bigger picture of things, this just fills my life with more work that I don’t want to do. 

  • A List of Amazon S3 Backup Tools – Mostly these are tools that work via Linux/OS X
  • elastic8 – A nice list of these tools
  • S3Fox – Firefox plugin – I’m probably going to be using this for my ad hoc client
  • S3Drive – Provides a drive on your my computer that is your Amazon storage
  • S3Browse – Uses a web interface to interact with your S3 storage.
  • PutPlace – Promises to publish to S3, Flicker, etc… Still in beta
  • Jungle Disk – Looks to be the premier paid software to give WebDAV support.
  • I really like ideas with tagging but it looks to new for me to rely on.
My Setup

I’m looking for a way to automate backups of certain folders at certain times, tag folders so I can search later on, an ad hoc way to get files.  I’m looking to backup source code files, pictures, and important documents.  For now I think I’m going with S3Fox until I find something more automated and with tagging/searching.

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If you have a dual monitor setup do yourself a favor, walk, no run to Jon Aguino’s blog to download JumpWin. It lets you hit WinKey + Enter to move a windows from 1 windows to the next. It was part of the power tools collection on GotDotNet. – This was via

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Vista Battery Life

So Vista was suppose to be easier on laptop batteries then XP.  I’m not convinced, my Dell D820 last ~2 hours but should be getting close to at least 4.  I do have Aero turned on and will confess I have lots of windows open at a time + background services, but still 2 hours is no good.  I’ve been manually switching off Areo for the last week or so but that is a big pain in the arsh 😉 

Today I found Windows Vista Battery Saver.  This looks very promising, it automagically turns off Aero and Sidebar when the laptop is running on battery and it’s open source so you can peek at the code that manipulates the theme on Vista.



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Thanks to the Atlassian folks for letting us know about this gem, finding cache info in firefox just got easier – type about:cache in your browser:



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