Lucas and I are crashing Steph’s bachelorette party here in the Big Apple, and we’re staying with some old friends! Having a great time, with more pictures to come.



Just another perfect day

Just another perfect day

The long winter is finally over!


Why Google Voice Hasn’t Won (Yet)

Google made big news a couple years ago with their purchase of GrandCentral, after which they did … nothing. Until a couple weeks ago, when they announced Google Voice, the evolution of GrandCentral. So what?
I’ve had a GrandCentral number for a couple of years. Its key feature has always been the ability to use one number, and set what phones ring when that number is dialed (even on a caller-by-caller basis). I mainly use it for 2 things: (1) to give to people I don’t want to give my mobile number to, like service people, who might still need to get in touch with me by cell phone, and (2) for work people who might need to reach me whether I’m at my desk or on my mobile phone. In fact, my GC number is what I put on the corporate intranet as my mobile number, so as not to put my actual mobile number all over the place. If I am ever forced to get a company-sponsored phone, I’ll just tie that into my GC number. To complete our telecommunications situation description — we haven’t had a landline in about 5 years, and recently we’ve been using Skype for times when our cell phones weren’t the best idea (like international calls or conference calls for work).
So, when I heard about the bells and whistles of Google Voice (like free voicemail transcription, free domestic calling, cheap international calling), I thought it was the end of Skype.
But the killer feature that Skype still has is that it actually lets you make and receive calls through the computer. As far as I can tell, Google Voice doesn’t. You can place a call “for free” by putting in a phone number, and telling GV which phone to ring (e.g., “mobile,” “work,” etc), and that’s great. But without a landline, you’ll be using mobile minutes to actually talk. No good, that. Needless to say, for the (admittedly few) international calls I make, it’s no good for that, either.
Also, I’m not quite ready to throw all my contacts up on Google (and, reader, you should be worrying about me, and your other friends, putting your phone numbers up on Google!) — I’d rather have some integration with my computer’s Address Book. Or my iPhone’s, which brings me to the fact that…
The other thing that Google Voice sorely lacks is iPhone integration. GrandDialer was a program that did two things: integrated with your iPhone contacts, and set your outgoing caller ID number to your GrandCentral number (key if you’re trying not to give out your cell phone number). When you dialed through GrandDialer, it would connect via the iPhone’s data connection, then ring your phone when the call was being placed. Brilliant. Google’s current mobile website for Google Voice is OK, but definitely suboptimal. Thankfully, it sounds like another independent developer is taking up the mantle and writing a similar app for Google Voice.
Hopefully we’ll see the whole thing grow, with Google opening it up a bit to outside developers. Anybody else tinkering with Google Voice? Any thoughts?

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Catalina Marathon, 2009 Edition

Catalina Marathon at my other blog.
So after my epic race at the 2007 Catalina Marathon, and a respectable finish at the 2008 Catalina Marathon, I knew that I’d be back for a third try at the Catalina Marathon. Unlike 2008, this was no ill-conceived venture. Nope, this time I had trained hard, running 3 times over 22 miles including a truly epic run from San Pedro to El Segundo that went over the top of the peninsula. So I was confident, and estimated my race time at 4:20-4:40, although I would have been shocked to come in under 4:30. In retrospect, that was a pretty narrow range that really only took into account my fitness and not race tactics– my last 6 marathons were perfectly paced, but was it realistic to expect 7 in a row?
Catalina Marathon Terrain
The course, as hilly as ever. Take a closer look.
Keep reading.

Read the rest of this entry »


iPhone 3.0



Born to run!

Born to run!

It’s some time before 4 AM and I’m waiting on the ferry in Marina del Rey as it prepares to motor us to the start of the Catalina Marathon in Two Harbors. It should be fun. And painful. I’m psyched.


Email Bankruptcy

So today I emptied out my personal (Yahoo!) and work (Notes) email inboxes. I’m getting too many emails, and I find that if I don’t respond to emails quickly, they are lost in the deluge. I have a good filing system, also known as don’t-file-anything-just-use-search, but no good flagging system. For my work stuff, I’m going to strive to actually file and work on an single-screen email protocol; right now, I have about a dozen emails in the Inbox since they are current issues. My question is, how does everyone deal with receiving 10-50 emails a day? Some people love the Gmail, some folks file eveything, some people respond or delete. But what will work for me?
Yahoo! Mail might be hopeless, but probably not– there must be a good solution. As for my work / Lotus Notes, is there a better option than filing? Does anyone use email filters, or tagging systems, or segregated inboxes? Kelvin & I had a little Twitter back & forth about this earlier.


Yesterday’s Apple Announcements

Yesterday, Apple announced all sorts of new gear, including updates to the Mac mini, iMac, Mac Pro, and MacBook Pro 15″, as well as perhaps less exciting stuff like their Airport Extreme and Time Capsule. The computers were mainly speed bumps and price changes (except the Mac Pro). In my opinion, the Airport update was the best example of “Apple Being Apple.” Not terribly exciting, but shows that they’re still thinking and innovating in spaces that seem innovation-free.
Check out the new features of the Airport Extreme:

  • Simultaneous Dual Band. Until now, on every router I know of from any company, it wasn’t possible to use 5GHz 802.11n on the same network as legacy 2.5 GHz 802.11b/g devices. You had to choose. If I had an 802.11n router, I couldn’t use the n speed without losing my AppleTV and Airport Express, which have g and b cards, respectively. But with the new Airport Extreme, I could. Everything chooses the highest-speed band automatically. Not sure exactly how this works in practice (do you see two networks with the same SSID if you have an 802.11n card in your laptop?), but it’s a great idea that I’m sure will be in every router very soon. Bravo Apple on doing what should have been obvious, but making it work right (I’m assuming).
  • Guest access. Basically, a firewall so that you can wall off your local network from the internet, so you can give internet access to people without exposing machines on your local network. This is one of the main reasons we don’t just open up our network, and I could see that this would be a great thing for people running coffee shops.
  • Hard drive sharing over MobileMe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a MobileMe fan — I think it’s overpriced and seems flaky from what I read. But access to all the files on your home computer, this easily, is nice. Not like you couldn’t figure this out before, or use other NAS’s that similar features, but still, nice that it’s so easy.

Anybody see anything else that looked good yesterday? I thought it was basically all pretty ho-hum, which I guess is why they didn’t have a big event. What’s coming on the 24th?


Kindle II

Amazon Kindle
This seems to be getting some conversation lately. Just bought a Kindle for Mom
s birthday, and she digs it. Even the lousy web browsing capability is nice since she doesn’t have any other portable web access. I set up bookmarks for a few websites (Yahoo! Mail, NY Times) and got her the Kindle Download Guide. If you don’t have that yet, get it– hundreds or thousands of free classics, from The Origin of Species to Tom Sawyer. But yeah, as a book reader it’s really nice. Text is crisp, easy to read, and it’s easy to use. Now that most of the Pyslent readership has at least used a Kindle, so what are your thoughts? We’ve talked about this recently and when it was announced.


Whale Watching from Redondo Beach


Went whale watching yesterday from Redondo Beach with my mom & cousin. Didn’t actually see any whales, but spotted many sea lions, a bunch of pelicans and the most acrobatic dolphins I’ve ever seen! Better to let the photos do the talking.