Category Archives: Cool Tech

Video Conferencing Consultant

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Looking at video conferencing for your company?

Independent video conferencing consultant with 23+ years (yup…since the very beginning) of experience in real world video conferencing design, implementation, and administration can help you:

+ Help you understand video conferencing technology (from Telepresence to Mobile BYOD) and how you can implement video conferencing to maximize your productivity.

+ Separate the wheat from the chaff (i.e. understand your needs and pick the right vendor(s))

+ Design an architecture specific to your needs

+ Project Manage the installation / testing of your system(s).

+ Train your employees to run your video conferencing operation

+ Provide long term support

+Independently troubleshoot problems.  Work with vendor to fix.

My Resume


Texting is Not My Thing: Using the SwiftKey Keyboard

(accurate, good looking, solid feel)

OK, I love my Android Motorola Smartphone, but, when it comes to texting….I suck.

I text with one finger (the way I used to type way back when typewriters were the thing), and constantly have to go back and correct my mistakes.

Fat fingers.  🙂

I spotted this article on CNET today about SwiftKey and thought I’d give it the free trial.  If I like it, after 30 days….I will buy it for $3.99.

I went to the Android Market (now Play Store….how weird is that name??) and did a search for “SwiftKey”.  I found it right away, downloaded it and went through a couple of very easy steps to get it working.

I chose the “Pumpkin” theme (dark and orange).  Pulled up a text to my wife, and typed away.  For two texts to her… mistake, where I normally have a dozen or so and get frustrated.

I like, so far

The colors, the fact that the keys are small but get it right when I am texting, I like the vibrate feedback (although I suspect I could have selected that with the built in keyboard?), and I can move the phone on it’s side for a bigger keyboard (I could do that with the other one too….but, with that one…I HAD too.)

Not fond of..

The warnings that they can capture your private information such as passwords, bank account numbers, etc.  But since I do ZERO banking online, and only blog, I really don’t care a whole lot, but, you might.  So buyer beware.

Preliminary Conclusion

So far so good….I will continue using SwiftKey for the next month….

Check out the video of the latest version:

Google+ Hangout Video Conferencing Meeting, Part 2

Google+ Hangout is the PERFECT way for ANYONE, ANYTIME, ANYPLACE  to video conference.  It is FREE, you can meet with up to 10 friends, and the quality is awesome (for a free service).  The technology behind this is from Vidyo.

I will shut-up and let the video do the talking….

AWESOME!!!!!!!!  Sorry, I had to do it.

Join us in the next Hangout!  Watch this blog, Telepresence Options, or Linkedin for dates and topics!

Also…as we learned in this meeting (from Robert..), Google+ Hangout can be a stepping stone to the more advanced video conferencing systems.  A small business can try Google+ Hangout to get a feel of video conferencing then decide if they need to upgrade to a full video conferencing system.

Very cool!

Google+ Hangout Video Conferencing Meeting, Part 1

Before any good, errrr…..AWESOME meeting, there is preparation.   That is especially the case with a video conference.  The initiators of the video conference must work diligently to make sure the meeting goes off without a hitch.

No joking around….deadly serious business.  If you want to get involved in video conferencing and put on an AWESOME meeting (watch for Part 2 of the “Hangout Meeting” here later today)…throw your sense of humor out the window….. and get to work!

Here is a video clip of our Pre-Google+ Hangout Preparations.  We learned from the BEST….kidding around is for losers!  SERIOUS is the only way to make it in this business.

Now watch the video!  Do it!  😐


David Maldow, Telepresence Options

Mike Pihlman….you are here!


Amazon Kindle Fire

Today, Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire tablet.

I watched a few news reports and to summarize:

The Kindle Fire is fast using a dual processor, it can run Android Apps but you gotta get them from Amazon (not a bad thing).

One analyst says it is NOT an iPad killer since the Kindle Fire is a consumer of media not a producer of media / content like the iPad can be.

Makes sense.

However, this same analyst says it can put a dent in Barnes & Noble’s Color Nook.

It works on WiFi only and costs a “reasonable” $199 U.S.  Storage of your media is via the Amazon cloud and they say that is for free.

The Fire will be available in mid-November but they are taking pre-orders now.  When you get it, it will be pre-configured with your Amazon account information…that is cool.

Here are two videos:

–From the techy’s at

–Some guy playing with Fire (sorry, I had to say that…)–

You gonna get one?  Comment below!  🙂

Google Flight Search

Surfing the Internet yesterday I found this interesting tidbit.

Google is now offering a “Flight Search” service where you can, in one place, find your flights!  Since I hardly ever fly (someday I will tell you why) I hope never to use it, but, you might find it helpful!


Well it is pretty limited:

1. It does not have Stockton, CA listed as an airport departure point, so I assume other smaller airports may not be listed either.

2. I can’t find out what kind of plane I will be on (YES..that matters a lot!).  I will not step foot on a smallish plane.  737 / 757 and bigger or it will be driving or training.  🙂

3. I did a search for a flight from San Francisco to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Apparently, “Flight Search” is only good in the U.S. (see pic below)

I wonder if they will expand to international routes?  I can’t imagine them NOT…the next time I get on a plane it may be to Vietnam to visit the old Buddhist Temples my friend Chau sends me pictures of.

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote

Lori could not learn the process I had for watching a movie on the blu-ray or on VUDU.

Geeez what is her problem?  Using a combination of three remotes, 27 button pushes, and moving one wire (just kidding)….it was easy!

She wanted me to write the process down….well, I do not have time to write a book, so get over it.

Luckily, Lifesize (a Division of Logitech), had a contest recently that someone at Lifesize entered one of my blog entries for (Anytime, Anywhere…) and I won 3rd prize!!!!

A Logitech Harmony 650 remote!  How cool is that!  🙂

This remote promises to replace up to 5 remotes!  Well, there ya go….maybe the Harmony 650 can simplify the movie watching process and give Lori the ability to watch movies in case I croak sooner than expected.

My Home Theater Configuration

An old (see this blog entry…one of my very first!) 55 inch Sony projection HDTV (only about 720p resolution, but, still good), an older Bose audio system, a Comcast cable box (HD), an old VUDU box for movies, an old Sony Blu-Ray player, and finally a Black Box HDMI switcher. Lots of old stuff (I really need to start making money again) but everything is working fine.

All of these devices need a separate remote!

Thankfully, I could make the Comcast remote work with the Bose, and the Cable box.

And I figured out a way to keep the TV on line 7 for the Blu-Ray, watching TV, and VUDU so the TV remote is not needed all the time.

<–See the pic for the three remaining remotes I hope to replace with the Harmony 650.

(No wonder why Lori was having such a problem, I am having a hard time keeping it easy to understand here….)

Harmony 650 Remote

OK, so I open the box, and read the directions very carefully….yeah, and if you believe that, I have some ocean front property in Arizona you can buy (thank you, George!).

I did know (from reading the back of the box) that the Harmony 650 could be configured using the Internet assuming you have a Windows or Mac computer and the CORRECT browser (see my browser bitch further down).

Very cool!

Sooooo, I plugged the USB cable (supplied by Logitech) into one of our laptop computers and fired it up.

Oooops, wrong browser (see my browser bitch further down).

I switched to another browser, and I was allowed to enter the devices (very cool by the way) and I was damn surprised that it had VUDU (even though the VUDU is on all the time, and I still am using it’s remote….so far).

After I was done naming my “activities” (Watch TV, Watch Movie, and Watch Movie VUDU) I hit the “Sync” button and waited…..and waited……and waited…..then fell asleep……woke up the next morning, unplugged the remote from the computer and brought it to work.  Arrrghhh…..(see my browser bitch further down).

Syncing at Work

Firing up my new Toshiba laptop, I plugged in the Harmony 650 to finally get it synced.

Shit….wrong browser again (!!!!!!!) (see my browser bitch further down).  So I tried another browser….damn….that did not work either (see my browser bitch further down).  Finally, I used the worst browser known to man and it worked!  Yeah……Arrrghh….(see my browser bitch further down).

Taking the remote home that night, I tried it.  I had to answer a few inane questions on the remote, and it had to try each of my devices again…but, in the end, it WORKED!

Joy to the World!

Using the Remote

This is the best part.

Pick up the remote and the display comes on (motion sensing…cool).  Hit the soft buttons on either side of the “activity” and magically….the correct devices turn on!  WhoooHooo!

Hit the top left button and all the devices turn off!  Wheeeee!

I tried all three of our “activites” and the remote turned on the appropriate devices every time!  Lori tried it and…..drum roll… worked for her too!

Life is good!

The Browser Issue

As promised, there is one major issue (major to me anyway).

I had to use the awful, terrible, Internet Explorer browser to finally get the remote synced up and working.  The latest version of IE absolutely sucks….it is just awful.  Terrible.

As a tough little hairy guy with big ears would say:  Total crap, that is.

Logitech REALLY needs to fix that, and get it working with Chrome and Firefox (they say Firefox works, but, not on the version I have…the VERY latest, 6.0).


The browser issue aside, the remote so far is working fine.

It has simplified the process for Lori and it works much better than the Comcast remote (faster, and the button pushes feel better).

I like the Logitech Harmony 650 remote!

Just gotta fix that browser issue and it would be nearly perfect.

So much for that (a few weeks later):  it died.  Arrrghhh……


Vidyo on the Apple iPad2

Damn this is great!   Friend Czoli from Vidyo shared this on Google+ today.

I have said this a thousand times before: Video conferencing anytime, anyplace, anyone.

Vidyo (see my getting old review of Vidyo here).

Barnes & Noble Introduces a New Nook

Surfing the Internet today I spotted this article from the NY Times stating that a new Nook eReader has been introduced!

Very cool.

Here are some basics of the $139 eReader:

It is WiFi only, it uses e-ink technology so glare will not be a problem, the entire display is touch screen, they claim the battery can last (without WiFi turned on) for 2 days, and it has a slot for SD memory expansion.

It weighs 7.48 ounces, and is as thin as a #2 pencil.  It is 6.5 inches tall and 5 inches wide.

Unless I missed it, the article does not say anything about an Android OS or Android apps?  I’ll dig a bit more after I post this….

Here is a page comparing the new Nook to the Kindle 3.

And a page showing the specs….no word about Android…how interesting.  Found it! It is Android (it is on the Nook / Kindle compare page), but, guess what?  No web browsing.  Not sure if that was smart….

Anyway….this looks really cool….I may have to request one for my 60th…ouch.

Google Chromebooks

Samsung Chromebook


Acer Chromebook


Google announced today the availability of their new Google “Chromebook” laptop like computers that will be at Best Buy and starting June 15th.

These are laptop like devices that connect to, and use, the “cloud” for everything you do.

They are pricey….anywhere from $350 or so to almost $500.  There are special monthly subscription plans for businesses, gov’t, and schools.  For example, your school can get a Chromebook for $20 per month.  For that price all support, etc. comes with it.

Not bad I suppose…

Is this the beginning of the end of Windows OS or Mac OS?  Are dedicated computers with gobs of memory, loaded with expensive software becoming obsolete?

Time will tell….my hunch is it is time to say Good-Bye to the old laptop, and operating systems…..this (using the cloud for everything) could be earth shattering in a year or so…or not.  🙂