Clear just went under

One of the ways I used to make travel a little easier was to use my Clear card to zip through airport security. Clear was an approved TSA pre-screening service that you would apply for and basically get a TSA background check. Once you were approved you got a Clear card that you could use to go through a much shorter line at the airports that offered Clear lanes. So imagine my heart break when I got this email last night! I’m totally bummed!

clearoutofbusiness

My tech blog just got a make over

I had been using the same WordPress template since I switch my blog over from iWeb to WordPress. I was starting to feel that it needed to be updated and perhaps have a more custom feel to it. There were also features that I wanted that I’ve seen on other blogs, but anyone that knows me knows that while I dabble in web stuff, I’m NOT A WEB GUY! Sure I can do basic stuff, I can look at HTML and kinda know what’s going on, but building websites and web templates is really not me. So being smart enough to recognize my limits, I turned to a professional. I turned to legendary designer Erik Bernskiold of XLDStudios and I said, “make me look good.” Not me personally, but my site.

xldstudios

Erik went right to works and his first question to me was “well what other blogs do you like and what features do you want?” One of my favorite blogs not only from a content standpoint, but also a design standpoint is my buddy Scott Kelby’s blog. His response was, “I had a feeling you would say that!” Now of course I didn’t want to rip off Scott’s site completely 🙂 (Scott, put the phone down. No need to call the lawyers) So I told Erik to use the things I liked about Scott’s site and come up with a design that would be “ME”. I was VERY EXCITED with what he came back with! There’s just no way I would have been able to do this myself.

Erik was easy to work with and we did everything via email. I highly recommend him! As a matter of fact he’s offering a discount to any reader of this blog of 15% off any of his services (web design, hosting and media production). Just enter the code “twhite when checking out or asking for a quote.

You can get to Erik’s site here.

Thanks Erik!

iPhone 3G S Review and a little fun with Woz

iphone3gsinmyhand1 The iPhone 3G S is Apple's newest offering for an already insanely successful product. The iPhone's success has exceeded everyone's expectations and even the naysayers can't deny that Apple came from nowhere and all of a sudden became the market leader that every other phone maker now aspires to be like. If you don't believe me, look at all the other smart phones that were recently released and you'll see "me too" like features and advertising. So what do you do when you have one of the most successful phones ever created? You improve it to keep the momentum going. My original iPhone review 2 years ago has had over 135, 000 reads. If you Google "iPhone Review" mine will come up on the first page. The reason for this success is that my first review was one of the most in depth reviews written. I spent almost 24 hours writing it. Then the iPhone 3G came out last July and I followed up with another in depth review. Now it's time to take a look at the iPhone 3G S, however, this review will not be anywhere near as long or in depth as the last two. It's not because I don't feel like writing, it's just that there isn't as much to cover that I haven't already said. If you have read my iPhone 3G review last year and my iPhone OS 3.0 Review a few days ago, you're 95% there in knowing about the New iPhone 3G S. (Also see my iPhone 3G S Unboxing Video here). Continue Reading »

Unboxing my iPhone 3G S 32GB

Well today is iPhone 3G S day and while I have a full review coming sometime this weekend (no later than early Monday morning), I thought I would share a first look at the outside of the iPhone 3G S in this video. Now keep in mind that the on the outside the iPhone 3G S is pretty much identical to the iPhone 3G form factor:

iPhone App of the Week – Helper Apps

I often come across great apps for the iPhone/iPod touch that work great and are very exciting to me, however there’s a problem. Some of these apps are really only useful to people that have a certain piece of hardware or a certain piece of software on their computer or use a certain service such as a particular bank. If I make one of these apps the iPhone App of the Week, then chances are the app will only appeal to a small segment of my readers. So rather than profiling an app with limited appeal or ignoring the app completely (as I have done in the past), I figured I would group them together from time to time in one post so that there will be a greater chance in seeing something that you can use. So welcome to my first “iPhone App of the Week – Helper Apps!” Here are 10 of my favorite Helper Apps:

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More iPhone OS 3.0 Subtle Changes

Yesterday, I gave you my visual walkthrough of iPhone OS 3.0. These were the things that I had discovered so far. The good folks over at MacOSRumors have put together a list of the subtle changes that would be easily over looked. Some good stuff there. They’ve found over 90 things so far and the list is ongoing. Check it out here.

Thanks Jack for the tip!

Do you still use a Fax Machine?

Do you still need to send or receive faxes? My guess is probably not. Or certainly not every day. However, as soon as you get rid of your Fax machine or Fax line, that will be the day you either need to send or receive a Fax. Although I have an Epson Workforce 600 that can send and receive faxes, I almost never use it for that. I receive my Faxes via email and now I send them via the web for FREE! Often when I want to send a Fax, I’m looking at it right there on my computer display. So why should I have to print it out just to stick it in a fax machine and then either shred it or recycle it 2 minutes later?

Receiving Faxes via email for FREE

efax

I’ve used a eFax for years to receive Faxes via email. After you sign up for a free account, you get a randomly assigned fax number that is yours. You have no control over what area code the number will be in. After all it is FREE! Any faxes sent to that number will automatically be sent to you as an email attachment. The email attachments come in as multi-page TIFF files and they give you a free viewer app. Now keep in mind that if you want more like the ability to choose your area code and the ability also send faxes via email attachments. However, their lowest package is $16.95/month and at that point you might as well look at getting your own dedicated fax line. Here are the features in case you are interested in their paid service.

Sending Faxes over the internet for Free

faxzero

Like I said, I’ve used the Free (hidden) version of eFax for years to receive faxes via email, but they’ve never offered a free way to send faxes. In order to send faxes you have to use one their paid services. I send so few faxes that I just couldn’t see paying for a service. Also I do have the ability to send from my Workforce 600. However, I figured there had to be a way to send the occasional Fax over the internet for Free. After doing a little searching I found just such a service. FaxZero is a website that allows you to send up to two faxes per day with a maximum of 3 pages each for free. This has worked out perfectly for me! I can go months without needing to send a fax and when I do it’s usually on a couple of pages. If I did need to send more than 3 pages or more than 2 faxes then I could use my own fax machine or pay their low price of $1.99 (for up to 15 pages). You can upload either a PDF or Word doc (.doc or .docx). The cover page for the free fax will have an ad on it. If you use the paid version your cover page will be ad free.

The Bottom Line

I find that I’m doing less faxing each year as more and more businesses move to email and web services for communicating with their customers. So it doesn’t make sense to maintain fax equipment and fax lines anymore. There are both free and paid services out there to both send and receive faxes electronically over the internet. If your fax needs are low, you may want to look into these services.

iPhone OS 3.0 Review: What’s New and Noteworthy?

iphone30update

Now that the New iPhone OS 3.0 Software update is available, I thought I would give you a first look and point out some of the new features that you may overlook or not discover right away. The good thing is that at first glance iPhone 3.0 looks just like iPhone 2.x. This is what makes it hard to know what’s there because there isn’t a lot that jumps right out at ya. Also hundreds and hundreds of the enhancements are under the hood to improve performance and give developers the hooks to write more powerful apps.

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There’s always an ink cartridge in my drawer

I use a variety of different printers. Some are ink jet based and therefore require ink cartridges. Nothing is more frustrating than to run out of ink in the middle of  a job. Of course that’s exactly when you need to replace an ink cartridge. After all the printer is not likely to run out of ink just sitting there (unless it sits there for months). Usually I have a set of ink cartridges in the printer and another set ready to go for when I run out. A good rule is that when you replace a cartridge with a spare that you would then buy a replacement for the one you just put in. Unfortunately I’m a busy guy so I’m not going to remember to order or go buy a new cartridge right then and there. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Staples Ink Drop Service

I’ve been using the Staples Ink Drop Service for years now.  Here’s how it works: You load your printer up with ink just like you do now. You buy an extra set (from wherever you like) so that you have one set of replacements on hand. Then when you run out of ink for a particular color or set of colors, you put those empties in a Staples Ink Drop postage paid envelope and drop it in the mail. Staples gets your empties and sends you a new replacement (of the exact same brand and model number), billing it to your credit card on file with FREE shipping. They then recycle your empties properly. When you get your replacement cartridge, they also include a couple extra envelopes for your next order. There are no signup fees or membership fees or any other fees of any kind. You just pay for the ink (plus applicable sales tax).

staplesreceipt

The Bottom Line

Could I find cheaper prices for my ink cartridges? Probably. Could I find a more convenient, painless, automatic service? Probably not. Learn more about Staples Ink Drop Service Here.

Comcast vs. DirecTV

cable

After 11 years of DirecTV and 10 years of Comcast I’ve finally decided to cut DirecTV loose. Yes, I actually have had both services for the last 10 years. Why? Well it wasn’t the original plan, it just happened that way. Before I moved into the house I’m in now back in 1999, I had DirecTV in my old house for my TV service and life was good. Never had a problem, not a single outage or “snowy” day as the Comcast commercials would have you believe. When I moved here, of course I wanted high speed internet and the best and only option back then was “Media One.” Media One was the local cable company in the area. I got my cable modem from them and still had DirecTV for TV. As the years went by, Media One was eventually acquired by Comcast. Although I had a couple of TV’s hooked up to the Comcast line for basic cable, I wasn’t really interested in Comcast for TV because I was so happy with my Series one DirecTV TiVo units. I absolutely LOVE the TiVo UI (user interface). Although you can get DVR service from any company today, TiVo really gets it when it comes to the user experience. If you’ve never used one, you wouldn’t understand.

The move to HDTV

When HDTV came along, I had to make a decision. It was either go with DirecTV for HD and that would require a new dish and new DVRs that were NOT TiVo based or go with Comcast and just go with their DVRs. So I added a Comcast box to my first HDTV just to get the HDTV and have a DVR to record the shows in HD. The Comcast (Motorola) box sucked on a level you can’t imagine! These boxes, or more to the point their firmware were garbage. Constant crashes, reboots, and other problems. I swapped out my Comcast DVR more times than I care to remember, while the DirecTV TiVo hummed along right next to it with no problems.

Then there was TiVo HD – the deciding factor!

tivohd

Once TiVo shipped the TiVo HD, it was a done deal for me! That was it. I would finally have everything I wanted. I would have HD and I would return back to the TiVo interface that I loved. I would also get the things I had been missing by not having a Series 2 box like transferring recording to my computer and to other TiVos in the house. So one by one I swapped out Comcast DVRs for TiVo HDs. They were all swapped out except for the one in my office (connected to my SlingBox) and since it was working fine and I don’t watch a lot of TV there, I figured I’d leave it.

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