Oct 28

Every so often a new technology comes along that solves a really nagging problem.  As any photographer knows, taking a picture at the exact right moment with perfect focus and framing is a challenge and an art.  But thanks to a new camera by Lytro, you can shoot first and focus later.

The Lytro “light field camera” uses multiple lenses to capture an image at different angles and depth and with much greater light than a traditional digital camera.  Later, the photographer can use the exclusive Lytro software to focus the image on the desired subject.  This enables the photographer to just click away and concentrate only on framing the shot.

Visit the Lytro website to see how the software will work.  For example, here’s an image of four beautiful women.  You can use the software to focus on the woman in the foreground:

Copyright © Lytro Inc.

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Oct 26

Google+. Copyright © Google Inc.

Everyone loves to hate Facebook.  With over a half billion users, Facebook has assimilated most connected adults in the modern world, and resistance has become futile.  Even for me — I must disclose that I actually like Facebook and how it connects me to distant friends and relatives.  But like anything popular, there’s no way to please all the people all the time, so Facebook is target for lots of criticism. 

Some of the negativity is well-deserved, especially regarding privacy issues.  Facebook’s mission is to “make the world more open and connected,” which is in direct conflict with the desire of most people to keep their private information private.  The problem isn’t that Facebook provides many different ways to share your information.  The problem is that Facebook assumes you want to share all of your information to everyone — by default.

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Oct 24

I recently discussed how Microsoft is charging Android phone manufacturers a $5-$15 fee per smartphone to license Microsoft patents.  Now Oracle has its hand out and is asking for a whopping $15-$20 per Android smartphone for royalties on its patents.  So far none of the major phone manufacturers have coughed up any money to Oracle, but it’s only a matter of time before the Oracle lawyers get involved, and the money starts flowing.

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Oct 19

The awesome Ferrari 599 GTO. Copyright © Ferrari S.p.A.

Update: It appears that Elite750 has already gone out of business.  As the Bill Gates character said in a Simpsons episode, “I didn’t get rich by writing a lot of checks!”

Do you remember the “I Am Rich” iPhone app that did nothing and sold for the maximum $999.99?  Eight rich douchebags blew a grand on this waste of bytes before Apple pulled the app from its stores because the app lacked any useful functionality.

Well, it looks like the wealthy 1% have another opportunity to shell out big bucks on digital wares.  Elite750 is offering “The World’s Most Exclusive Email Address.”  Elite750 is restricted to 750 users worldwide… forever.  Signup is $7500, and the service costs $750 per month ongoing.  That’s $16,500 for the first year alone.

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Oct 09

Use the Ctrl+Space keyboard shortcut to remove formatting from text in Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel and Outlook.  This command strips fonts, styles, indenting, etc. and leaves only the plain text.

To remove text formatting:

  1. Select text in any Microsoft Office program.
  2. Press Ctrl+Space.  The formatted text is converted to plain text.

Oct 08

There is an easy (but tricky) way to open a command prompt window for a specific folder you are browsing in Windows Explorer in Windows 7 and Vista:

  1. Press and hold the Shift key, then right-click on a folder in Windows Explorer. 
  2. The Explorer context menu will appear.  Click on the menu item Open Command Window Here.

Explorer Context Menu

This will open a command prompt window for the selected folder:

Command Prompt Window

Note that this does NOT work if you shift+right-click in the tree view on the left side of the Explorer window!  Also note that this works only in Windows Vista and later, and not in Windows XP or before without special software.

Oct 07

Paste Special When you copy text from a web page and paste it in an email message or Word document, you end up pasting the fonts, formatting and styles along with the text.  But sometimes all you want is the plain text.

One option is to select "Paste Special" from the "Edit" menu or Office 2007 ribbon bar.

Another option is to use the Ctrl+Space keyboard shortcut available in Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel and Outlook.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Select and copy text in any program (typically using Ctrl+C).
  2. Paste the text into any Microsoft Office program (Ctrl+V).
  3. Select the text you just pasted.
  4. Press Ctrl+Space.  The formatted text is converted to plain text.

Note that the Ctrl+Space keyboard shortcut clears the formatting from any text in a Microsoft Office program, not just pasted text.

Oct 06

Steve Jobs passed away yesterday.  He was a creative genius whose impact has been felt around the world.  He will be missed.  May Steve Jobs rest in peace.

In this video, Jobs explains what it takes to be successful.  "People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing, and it’s totally true.  The reason is, because it’s so hard, if you don’t [have passion], any reasonable person would give up."

For more inspiration from Steve Jobs, check out his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address.

And if you missed it, check out the article I published just a few days ago, No, Apple Won’t Do “Just Fine” Without Steve Jobs.

Oct 05

The Windows key or Windows logo key ("WinKey") is found on most modern keyboards.  Microsoft introduced the key with the Windows 95 operating system.  There are a number of very handy keyboard shortcuts defined using the WinKey.

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Oct 04

Steve Jobs on Innovation. Copyright © Cea (Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology). Image used under Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 5 today at a major press event.  A PriceGrabber survey in July showed that a whopping 35% of respondents want to buy the yet-unseen iPhone 5 when it hits the market.  The iPhone 5 is arguably the most anticipated tech product of 2011.  It’s also the first major product released since tech legend Steve Jobs retired as CEO of Apple.

Mr. Jobs plans to remain Chairman of the Apple board.  COO Tim Cook has taken the helm as full-time CEO.  Cook had already served as Apple’s temporary CEO a few times since 2004 when Jobs was on medical leave due to pancreatic cancer. 

Cook has done a great job running Apple’s day-to-day operations while Jobs has been ill.  Cook is widely credited with getting Apple out of the hardware manufacturing business.  This helped the company reduce inventory levels, streamline its supply chain, and dramatically increase margins.

But a good businessman is not the same as a visionary technical genius.

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