December 28 – Cynthia Leonard – Web Accessibility

27 12 2008

Many companies have websites, but not all of them adhere to common accessibility standards. Cindy joins Tom on the last TechTalk show of 2008 to discuss what should be one of your business’ 2009 resolutions. I know, we told you already.

Tough economic times etc etc. This is not what one can consider an “optional” expense no matter the forecast. Every person that cannot access your site because it does not meet accessibility standards is a potential customer you are discriminating against.

So. Do the right thing – find out if your business’ website is ADA compliant. If so, great. IF not, FIX IT!!

We will not post the Week In Review on Monday – It is a best of our stadium tech coverage. Enjoy and have a happy new year.

The first show of 2009 for TechTalk is a compilation of professionals in and around the New York City government technology scene. Tom was able to get some live interviews at NYC’s GovTech at the Brooklyn Marriott not too long ago. Tom speaks with one of the event’s organziers, a vendor and a 2008 Award Winner ….we’ll post details next week.

Tune in next Sunday, January 4th at 3 pm MST/5 pm EST to 1100 KFNX in Phoenix or stream the show on your computer from KFNX’s website www.1100KFNX.com for our NYC GovTech.

LINK of THE WEEK: The WebUrbanist … GREAT STUFF!!! Just go. Any explanation I could string together would not do it justice.





TechTalk Product Review – Otterbox Rocks

23 12 2008

The OtterBox 7030 laptop case is described on OtterBox’s site as Waterproof, dustproof, drop-proof, dirtproof protection. High impact Polypropylene construction for maximum strength. Shock-absorbing Elastomer corner bumpers. This case includes a shoulder strap, and a removable file folder accessory for files, pens, business cards and more.

We simply call it one mean motor-scooter. Not only is it lockable, it also has …wait for it…automatic pressure equalization in case it is submerged in water. The OtterBox is rated ‘MIL-STD 810F’ and IP67. Those equate to approximately 30 minutes in one meter of water. We did not test this feature. We have to take their word on it until we get a bigger budget.

It comes with customizable bumpers to ensure a snug fit for your laptop. We should note is it will not fit all laptops. Please check the site to make sure yours will fit. There is no give. It do or it don’t.

There is not much more to say about this case. It is simple. It is tough. It is a must have for mobile workers in extreme conditions – sandhogs, we are talking to you. Weighing in a just under seven pounds for the case only, it is not the lightest in the market. But, we are also pretty sure the doors at Fort Knox are not light either. Overall, the protection you get for the extra weight is well worth it if protection is a priority for your laptop.

We also tried out Otterbox’s iPhone case. The case retails for around $50. Considering it is water resistant and tough as nails, you can look at that as a $50 insurance policy for your device. It is also the best looking case we have seen for those that clip the phone to the belt. It has all of the same characteristics of the laptop case. They have PDA cases for iPhone, Treos, iPods, iPaqs and more on the way. We are not saying this is the toughest case on the face of the earth, but we are saying you should let us know if you find one that is tougher.

You can find all of these at http://www.otterbox.com and most likely in the offices of MI6. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Whatever it is, we are not worried about breaking it or whatever it encases.





December 21 Show’s Week in Review & Part 2 of Our TechTalk Gadget Review

22 12 2008

Week In Review from December 21 only had two news stories so we could make time for all the great gift ideas we had from our staff and Ben Patterson

Here are the two stories from the Wall Street Journal Online edition Tom suggested:

  • What’s in a name, More and more a number – Carl Bialik [LINK]
  • The Way We Will Watch – Wall Street Journal – Sarah McBride [LINK]

PRODUCT REVIEWS
Last week, we brought you our first installment of product coverage for the 2008 holiday season.We reviewed the
Cardscan for Mac, the Pathfinder TSA CheckPoint Friendly Compu-brief and the WildCharge charging mat.

This week we bring you a couple of very different digital frames.

The first was the DPF 1411 model, 14.1 inch from Westinghouse. With such a large display, the software on the device is able to show either full frame of one picture or split into three it using Westinghouse’s MosaicView™ technology. This technology shows three of the pictures at the same time with a vertical and two horizontal. Though the Westinghouse model only has 128 MB of internal memory, it is compatible with most memory card format (including SD, CompactFlash and even 😄 from Olympus). It will display JPEGs, A.V.I motion JPEG, MPEG 1 & 4 file formats. The frame is at home on the shelf and is wall mountable. Though, you will still have a power supply cord hanging down if you hang it on the wall.

Picture quality is similar to other models, but the extra screen real estate brings the suggested retail above $200. We did find it on a few sites between $160 – 180.

The next digital frame we tried was eStarling’s Impact 7. How is it so different from the Westinghouse? The biggest difference is the Impact does not have anywhere to put your storage device …of any kind. The way the eStarling frame works is wirelessly. This means the first thing you have to do is set it up on your wireless network. Then, you go to their website, sign up for an account and you are given an email address. Then you email your new address the pictures you want on the frame. You can also set the frame up to read feeds using RSS (like you use to download the TechTalk podcast).

The Impact retails for around $100. If you are an avid flickr or Photstream user, separated from from a friend/family member or want to put one in your reception area at your business, then the Impact 7 from eStarling is a very viable choice.


Finally, the belle of TechTalk’s 2008 Holiday Gift Product Tests comes to us from Otterbox.

The OtterBox 7030 laptop case is described on OtterBox’s site as Waterproof, dustproof, drop-proof, dirtproof protection. High impact Polypropylene construction for maximum strength. Shock-absorbing Elastomer corner bumpers. This case includes a shoulder strap, and a removable file folder accessory for files, pens, business cards and more.

We simply call it one mean motor-scooter. Not only is it lockable, it also has …wait for it…automatic pressure equalization in case it is submerged in water. The OtterBox is rated ‘MIL-STD 810F’ and IP67. Those equate to approximately 30 minutes in one meter of water. We did not test this feature. We have to take their word on it until we get a bigger budget.

It comes with customizable bumpers to ensure a snug fit for your laptop. We should note is it will not fit all laptops. Please check the site to make sure yours will fit. There is no give. It do or it don’t.

There is not much more to say about this case. It is simple. It is tough. It is a must have for mobile workers in extreme conditions – sandhogs, we are talking to you. Weighing in a just under seven pounds for the case only, it is not the lightest in the market. But, we are also pretty sure the doors at Fort Knox are not light either. In conclusion,

We also tried out Otterbox’s iPhone case. The case retails for around $50. Considering it is water resistant and tough as nails, you can look at that as a $50 insurance policy for your device. It is also the best looking case we have seen for those that clip the phone to the belt. It has all of the same characteristics of the laptop case. They have PDA cases for iPhone, Treos, iPods, iPaqs and more on the way. We are not saying this is the toughest case on the face of the earth, but we are saying let us know if you find one that is tougher.

You can find all of these at otterbox.com and most likely in the offices of MI6. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Whatever it is, we are not worried about breaking it or whatever it encases.

The staff would like to thank Kristin at Otterbox, Michael for Westinghouse and Jessica from eStarling for all their help getting these products to test out.





TechTalk Product Review – WildCharge: Stay in Charge of Your Battery

19 12 2008

We first saw the WildCharge in an article from David Pogue at the NY Times (and a video).

This intrigued us to try it for ourselves.

As seen below and on the WildCharge site, the WildCharge comes with a pad adorned with metallic strips. When the phone (with the adapter) is placed on the mat, the 4 small posts on the back of the case make contact with the mat and begin the charge.

Picture from WildCharge Products page.

The mat is smart enough to detect human fingers. No electroshock therapy here. If a person touches multiple strips, the device shuts off.

Our use proved to be …well, just as expected. We did not run scientific stopwatch tests , but the WildCarge charged our BlackBerry’s in around the same time it takes the wall charger. We did not notice any difference in the length of time the phone stayed charged.

As of now, there are a few cases for phones. Motorola Rzrs (some models. see site for details), BlackBerry Curve & Pearl are the only models with cases available now. iPhone cases are planned for the first part of 2009 and WildCharge is also planning to expand their offerings to video games as well.

We’ll let you make the call on this. If you already have a case you like or don’t want a case in general, this may not be for you. If you are always running out of battery because you forget to plug in your phone, then you may have found your soul mat.

The mat will run you around $65 and each case comes in at around $35





TechTalk Product Review – Pathfinder Checkpoint Friendly Compu Brief from Parragon Luggage

19 12 2008


Pathfinder CHECKPOINT FRIENDLY™ COMPU BRIEF

A bag with a TSA badge of Approval from Pathfinder…

All three of our users were mild upon first inspection of the Paragon’s TSA’s CHECKPOINT FRIENDLY™ COMPU BRIEF. What it lacks in WOW on 5th Avenue is forgotten the first trip through airport security. One less bin, one less thing to monkey with as you take off your shoes and belt is a very good thing. Since most of us aren’t excited about showing off our juggling skills, this bag “gets your laptop through airport security with an ‘unzip and flip’.”

The bag is pretty standard computer bag gear. It is black with an iridescent silver lining. Hearty zippers tempt you to overstuff the various sections. The side pocket protector compartment holds cell phones, pens, business cards and includes the real estate worthy of over packing…because you need both calculators, and there is room if you need it. The space opposite this area is perfect for networking tools and other everyday items for field techs. The file/folder area is also minivan spacious. Now, best for last is the TSA approved compartment. While it is only a neoprene sleeve, it has a “save time and juggling your laptop show at the airport” tag and print on the sleeve.

The maker of the bag, Paragon, went through forms, tests and other screenings so you can save one to two minutes every trip to the airport. If everyone that carried a laptop could save one or two minutes using a CHECKPOINT FRIENDLY™ bag, think of all the time that would save at the airport per day, week and year. An operations teacher could have a field day with this calculation, but we will stick with the vague “lots of time”.

The only key to getting through security quickly is “to not put anything else in the sleeve with your laptop” which means chargers, files, paper, pens…anything… just the laptop, that’s it. Opposite the approved laptop glove are three compartments, continuing the silver motif, that are good for adapters, drives, chargers and the associated what-not’s we all have to have when traveling.

The “one less hassle at the airport” makes the Pathfinder worth checking out for frequent flyers. Even casual or infrequent travelers can get plenty of miles out of the ample storage and solid construction of the Pathfinder CHECKPOINT FRIENDLY™ COMPU BRIEF. The bag as tested retails for $99. There is also a wheeled version for $149 available on their website. There are plenty of bags in the $100 – $200, but there are not any others we have tested that are TSA approved.

Company contact information:

Pathfinder Luggage, Inc.
1111 –A Bell Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780





December 21 – Ben Patterson – 2008 Gadget Gala

18 12 2008

Ben Patterson, Yahoo! Tech’s Gadget Hound joins Tom to discuss gadgets and gizmos of 2008 and his picks for this year’s holiday season. Cellphones, HDTVs & gaming consoles are on the list of topics for this weekend. As well as a list of the top searched gadgets of 2008 from Yahoo! Search.

Check back Monday for the product reviews and tech news you can use from the Week In Review.

TipTop TechTalk Links of the Week (v0.1)
Retailmenot – [LINK] – Hungry radio crew scored a free desert on our Domino’s order!
LaLa offers a new way to listen to tunes on the web – [LINK]





TechTalk Product Reviews – Card Scan Executive for Mac

15 12 2008


CardScan Executive for Mac

The first thing I notice when I hastily try to plug the device into the machine is the well placed sticker informing me to install the software before plugging into the machine. Glad you told me. People plagued with “Plug and Play” always anticipate plugging…then playing.

This review will be two for the price of one. First, CardScan’s newly added ability to work with a Mac. Then, for BlackBerry toting, Outlook using warriors, we will try it on Windows.

MACINTOSH
Installing is as expected. Drag the icon into the Applications folder…done. Copying…and done. Don’t read the license agreement and click accept, check. Serial number, check. Registration…later. We are ready to start in about 2 minutes…if you type slowly.

After plugging the device in and opening the CardScan application, I was feeding cards using the batch process. Both the batch and adding the single contacts was quite easy. The device has an acceptable accuracy, probably in the 90% range. The program has trouble discerning company names that include logos as part of the name, but does a good job for the most part. Errors are usually pretty blatant or occasionally in the wrong field. It even lets you scan the back of the card, which occasionally comes in handy.

Adding batches and new contacts one at a time are both very simple and intuitive. Synching is accomplished using the Preferences. It only really synchs with the Address Book, but since that Address Book is available in Entourage (and what mail uses), we will give them “Synchs with email programs”. I did not find a way to directly manipulate your Exchange address book contacts on the Mac version since the application only really interfaces with the local Address book.

The album slide view is very cool.
Album View
Yes, it is eye candy, but it is well placed eye candy and shows that the CardScan development team did not just try to “port” a Windows app to the Mac platform. It is a bit of a letdown that CardScan is the only application you can see the card images. However, if the point of the device is to quickly input card information and synch with your address book, then it is right on target. It does that and does it very well. And other than the inability to directly work with your Outlook contacts, the results were quite pleasing…especially the time saving factor that requires minimal editing on adding new contacts to the mix.

WINDOWS
What is the pay off for the Windows version…just like everything else, it is the Office Synch. The interface is not as fuzzy, it does not look like iTunes, but it does what it needs to and does if efficiently. Using Outlook 2007, a “CardScan” option is added to your main ribbon allowing you to view cards on the contact form. The scanning accuracy is about the same. The synch is top shelf. No doubt. And if I had the patience, the auto synch would probably run just as it is supposed.

Comparing Apples to Windows

So, how do they stack up?

Both applications stack up well in their respective categories.

All in all, both versions are perfect for the ecosystems in which they will be used. I do wish the Mac version was a little better at adding a card to a current contact. The Windows version functions nominally as expected. Another novel feature is the application can create a new contact from dropping a contact block from a document or a website.

Does the average person that occasionally get business cards need to spend $270 on this solution? Probably not. What about executives, sales people, marketing and other customer or vendor facing workers and road warriors? The cost is totally justifiable. It is wonderful for adding new contacts. It does a good job on either platform of keeping things in synch…and by that I mean minimal fuss and intervention is required. And for gadget loving execu-trons…what is better than another piece of hardware on the desk?

Review by Eric Johnson

Be sure to tune in the rest of the week for more TechTalk Product Reviews.

We’ll be back on at regular time this week when Ben Patterson joins Tom this Sunday @ 3 pm in Phoenix and 5pm in NYC