This is the first podcast that I started listening to back at the end of 2004 (maybe October or November). At the time I had just heard of SlashDot and was intrigued. The problem was that I already read a lot of stuff on the ‘net and, interesting as SlashDot looked, I was going to have to pass on it.

But I had heard about this cool thing called podcasting and, having started a new job with a 40+ minute commute, I was looking for some variety over the audio books that I was listening to.

Slashdot Review

Enter Slashdot Review, the host is Andy McCaskey. He promises and delivers:

SlashdotReview is a ten minute audio podcast summary of recent technology news items from

I enjoy being able to listen to the "cream" of Slashdot’s content each day.

As an added bonus, Andy is quite the fan of and posts a track by a featured artist in each podcast after the news. I must admit that I did not think that I would find much to like in the usually non-commercial music being featured here. My musical tastes are pretty banal, but there have been a couple of tracks that I must confess took me by surprise and I’m now keeping an eye on this feature to see if any more gems come up for me.

Doppler Podcast Client

Doppler button   I am using Doppler as my podcast client. This mini-review is for version

I like my podcast clients to be relatively lean but still have enough features to simplify the process of keeping up with my feeds.

I use the scheduling feature of Doppler to seek out new content from each of my feeds once a day at about ten to seven in the morning. It downloads them into iTunes for me and I usually attach my iPod to the computer to synch up just before I leave in the morning. (I allow the iPod to recharge in my exercise room where I can listen to it if I wish while working out).


  • Just need to type in the URL for my podcast and Doppler gets the rest of the info for me
  • Ability to preview the podcast before I commit to downloading the whole thing on my iPod
  • Ability to retrieve only a single feed if I want
  • Intelligently designed "Catch Up" ability that allows me to set up new feeds without needing to download every podcast that has been posted to the current feed
  • Intelligently designed "History" that allows me to quickly see what has been downloaded and, if I want, I can blow away history entries to have them download again. Again very useful for picking and choosing podcasts in a newly set up feed.
  • When I delete a feed, it also offers to clean up all the associated files from that feed to.
  • I like the fact that when I sort a column it stays sorted. I sort by "Last Updated" so I can always see which feeds were most recently downloaded.



  • The Bittorrent implementation is a bit of a nuisance. I realize it was set up that way so that I could plug in any bittorrent client I want, but for some reason I just can’t seem to configure bittorrent to work well on my machine. Probably a combination of blocked ports and the dreaded MPAA and RIAA closing down all the bittorrent resources in sight that is complicating this for me…

I recognize that there are scores of client features that I haven’t mentioned, but frankly I just don’t use or need them.

The podcast client is free, the podcasts are free, much of the content is kind of amateurish, but there is a lot of really good stuff out there too.

I’ll be posting separate entries for my favorite podcasts over the next couple of days.

Spell Checking plugin for WordPress

A quick shout out to Coldforged for his plugin to provide spell checking functionality within WordPress. A very handy feature.

It’s great that WordPress is designed in this manner. Very minimalist but with plenty of plugins (and more showing up every week) to customize and tailor the product as you see fit. This keeps your site as lean and mean as you want it to be.

Just started using Vonage – The Broadband Phone Company

Decided to try Voice over IP (VOIP) and have selected Vonage as my carrier.

So far, I must say that I’m pretty impressed. Everything I’ve wanted to configure so far is configurable and the line quality is much better than I expected.
I was on the phone yesterday while downloading some really large books from for my iPod and could see the book downloads slow down but there was no perceptible degradation in the voice conversation.

The router they sent me was a Linksys RT31P2. I tried and tried to set it up so that it was outside of my current network (between my DSL modem and my Wireless router) as described in Vonage’s site. But eventually I had to concede that I really was making this more complicated than I needed to.

I checked out Broadband reports to see if they could shed some light on the configuration changes needed to make my current router not the gateway to the internet. But eventually needed to contact Vonage Tech support to get their advice on it. After all, they must face this issue dozens of times per day. Even though their website is loaded with useful information, it didn’t cover this little issue.

The Vonage guy was obviously in India – definitely the trend for CSRs these days but I was still surprised at how thick his accent was. It took a couple of tries to understand what he was saying. He assured me that I could put my new router inside my network and not have any ill effects due to bandwidth contention. He said if there were any bandwidth issues I could call back and we’d work them out.

It was definitely an easier solution than I was trying to implement and so far so good.

Pentium vs. Athlon (2004)

I’ve always had difficulty trying to compare AMD vs Intel chips. Recently the folks on Screensavers on "TechTV" have been raving that AMD is now the way to go bang-for-your-buck-wise.

I think the best you can hope for is to check out some of the known review sites (CNET, ZDNET, etc.) and see if they have anything that can help.

I did a quick search on Google and got the hits below.

I’ll tell you that *I’m* expecting to make the move to a tablet PC when the time comes to replace my laptop.

My Word with Douglas E. Welch: SCALE: Southern California Linux Expo with Douglas E. Welch

Douglas has a great podcast, I’ve only recently been checking out his website using my news aggregator.

He recently published a mini-review of this expo. Of interest to me was his desire to make use of an old Win98 machine so I recommended my personal favorite backup solution: 2 Bright Sparks’ Syncback product.
My Word with Douglas E. Welch: SCALE: Southern California Linux Expo with Douglas E. Welch

Picasa 2

I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this software. I was just looking for something I could use to remove redeye from my pictures. I saw a suggestion in one of the google newsgroups about Picasa 2 and I decided to give it a go.

Holy moses does it do a *lot*! The fact that it’s free is just an added bonus. The search abilities and the sophisticated viewing / manipulation abilities rival most of the other programs I’ve been trialing (ACDSEE and Photoshop pro are the most notable ones).

Basically I’m pretty useless when it comes to photo manipulations. Trying to adjust the lighting levels and the hues and saturation really isn’t something that comes naturally to me. The “I’m feeling lucky” button in the “Basic Fixes” section usually does a great job at enhancing the pictures enough that I’m much more satisfied than when I try tweaking bits myself.
That combined with a really simple redeye remover and the myriad other cool features (check out the timeline feature) makes this a winner in my book.

Cons? Except for committing the redeye adjustment to the files on disk (saves the originals in a folder called… “originals”) most of the changes made, rotation, lighting, colors, etc. Are retained only as information in either the folder INI files or in a database someplace (haven’t found it yet need to back it up). This means that for me to give the picture files to other folks, or to upload them on my website, I need to export them. Otherwise they just see the unretouched originals. If I use the email function in Picasa this is done for me so emailing isn’t a concern. But this *is* something to watch out for if you decide to move to another photo management product. You’ll probably need to export ALL of your subdirectories just to be sure that you won’t lose all that retouching work.

I suspect most of the photo management systems have some proprietary quirks like this.
I felt it was a risk worth taking in this case.

MP3Search.Ru – Great MP3 Music Archive!

A friend sent me a link to this website recently:
MP3Search.Ru – Great MP3 Music Archive!

He’s been quite happy with it and I have to admit I’m tempted myself. I’m much more of the opinion that songs are finally reasonably priced now that we’re not forced to purchase an album of largely unwanted songs just to get the one or two that you want. So I’ve been buying all my music lately from Apple’s iTunes.

Here’s my response to my friend:
I have heard about this site before. Nothing bad, it was profiled on “The Screensavers” on TechTV last year. It is located in Russia and is, presumably, legal there. Whether or not that translates to legal here was a question left up to the viewer. But the reviewer indicated he was quite pleased and liked the idea that he could select the quality of the songs he downloaded.

I suppose it comes down to how comfortable one would be holding up a receipt from this website as proof of purchase! 🙂

News aggregators

Is anybody out there using a news aggregator?

I’m using NewsGator – it’s tied in pretty intimately with Outlook 2003 but I’m finding it works really well. The biggest issue with blogs and web sites is filtering out the stuff I’ve read before and it does a terrific job at that.

I *was* using Bloglines but I found it didn’t do a very good job at remembering what I had read before.

This blog and my photo gallery both support aggregators to let you know when something has changed. I find this useful for keeping a handle on other sites that don’t change on any particular schedule.

Let me know what tools you use for this purpose