Profile of Barbara Krasnoff
News & Commentary Posts: 139
Articles by Barbara Krasnoff
Is there a real point to social networking? It is a lot of fun, and it can be a useful way to establish contacts. But it's usually a black hole of time -- a lot of chat without a lot of substance. However, there's at least one new site that's trying to offer social networking with a social conscience.
You know, I'm so glad that sophisticated, cool-looking smartphones like the iPhone have replaced the clunkier, less communicative PDAs of yesteryear. Because now we can pay $50 a year to do some of the stuff that we used to be able to do for free.
Around NYC, it's become common to see a giant inflated rubber rat sitting on the sidewalk when a local union is sponsoring a strike. The Writers Guide of America, however, is a bit more sophisticated than that -- they're using YouTube.
There are a number of "pie in the sky" dreams that have fallen by the wayside in the last few years. One of those is the idea of free, attainable municipal Wi-Fi.
I was wary of the claims made about Palm's new Centro smartphone. The iPhone aside, I've found few smartphones -- or, for that matter, plain mobile phones -- that have made me say, "Maybe I want that one." Those that I do like are usually so expensive that I can't imagine paying for one. But I'm sold.
On Monday, I reported that IMSLP, a volunteer Web site that offered copies of music scores that were (or had been perceived to be) in the public domain, had gone down because of two cease-and-desist letters from music publisher Universal Edition. On Wednesday, I received a reply from UE.
In a recent series of popular video ads, Apple portrayed itself as a young, hip guy challenging Microsoft's stodgy businessman. While that was an obvious marketing ploy, it is true that Apple (and Linux) users are often thought of as cooler than those who employ Microsoft Windows. How come?
While the big bucks in technology are dedicated to the development of enterprise solutions, occasionally it seems as though consumer-based apps can take the lead -- at least, as far as creativity is concerned.
While the RIAA goes after Usenet.com, a Vienna-based classical music publishing firm has succeeded in closing down a modest Web site which made public-domain musical scores available for free. Why? Because the site administrator wasn't an expert in international copyright law.
Where do you draw the line when putting your information online? Many people have gotten used to entering credit card and bank info online in order to pay bills and buy products. How about managing all your money?
It's amazing how dependent we've become on being in contact all the time, wherever we are. Going to a meeting? Make sure you have your phone with you. Getting a quart of milk? Don't forget that phone. Traveling to the South Pole? Don't bother -- unless you've got the right kind of phone.
While software piracy is a problem that should be taken seriously, it seems that many companies have placed the burden of dealing with anti-piracy inconveniences on the individual user -- sort of like handcuffing the guy who forgot to pay for a lollipop while ignoring the safecracker in the back of the store.
My first computer (back in 1983) was a Compaq Portable, a 28-pound DOS machine with two 5.25-inch floppy drives and a 9-inch display. I was delighted with my new purchase -- until I found the small sticker on the back of the machine that said if I opened it (to, say, add memory), I would void the warranty. Say what?
It seems that online word processing has suddenly become sexy. Within hours of each other, both Microsoft and Adobe have joined Google, Zoho, and other companies in promoting new online document creating/sharing services. What gives?
It looks like Microsoft may be backing down, ever so slightly, from its stance that Vista is the best thing to happen to consumers and businesses since the invention of the can opener. The company announced yesterday that it's extending availability of XP for another five months to June 30, 2008. In other words, if you want XP, you can still get it.
I'm always pleased when companies respond to the complaints of its user base -- especially when the user base isn't paying anything for the privilege. So while it is gratifying that Apple is offering irate early iPhone adopters $100 coupons, I feel even more appreciative that IBM quickly tweaked its originally irritating registration process for Lotus Symphony.
When I read about Lotus Symphony, IBM's spanking new free office suite, I was intrigued, and decided to try it out during my lunch hour. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Why? Because it took most of that hour just to get through the registration process.
The iTunes model of moving individual music and video files to users in return for small fees has become hard to beat. There's a new contender, however: SpiralFrog, which offers media downloads free of charge -- but with several strings attached.
At a trade show last year, a PR rep steered me happily toward an IP phone that came equipped with a camera and a display so you could easily have face-to-face conversations over the Internet. I don't remember exactly what the rep said after that -- I was too busy flashing back to the 1964 World's Fair, where AT&T touted its futuristic, just-around-the-corner Post a Comment
There are a lot of taxes that I'm (reluctantly) willing to pay. I've never been late on my income taxes. (Hear that, IRS? I'm a good citizen.) I accept that paying city and state taxes are the price of living in a large metropolitan area. But one tax I've always balked at is what is popularly known as the early adopter tax.
Lately, I've been getting two similar appeals in my business e-mail: from LinkedIn members wanting to add me as a connection, and from Facebook members adding me as a friend. So now I'm wondering: Which network should I actually take the time to cultivate?
Sometimes, when things aren't going your way, the best way to handle things is to simply walk away. At least, that's the philosophy being followed by the Japanese communications ministry, which apparently intends to build a new Internet.
It wasn't all that long ago that I was still declaring that online applications could never replace hard disk-based software. Just wouldn't happen. Yeah -- I was totally wrong.
With VoIP becoming more popular (despite occasional blackouts from Skype), there is more of a demand for wearable and efficient headsets. Logitech's Premium Notebook Headset is an efficient and, for the most part, comfortable choice, especially for those constantly on the go and on the phone.
My mother likes to chat with customer service reps over the phone -- that is, when she can actually work her way past the menus to a sentient human being. I'm now thinking of giving her a Netflix subscription for her next birthday -- because Netflix has apparently decided that offering real customer service is a viable business option.
There are a number of new sites popping up that focus on aggregating Web information about people. Want to find out what an old friend is doing these days? Curious about what's being said about you? Two services, Spock and pipl, are now making that easier. However, they approach the process very differently.
In a recent article, two professors from the University of Central Florida complained that movies tend to mislead audiences about how physics really works. They think they have it bad? They should try looking at how movies have portrayed computers.
Seagate's consumer hard drive offers enough storage space to handle up to 160GB of data in a stylish, portable form.
First, I will admit that I don't have kids myself. But I have friends with kids and kids as friends. And I remember what it was like to be a teenager myself. So my first reaction when I read the article Cyber Divide Widens: Kids Outsmarting Their Parents was: So what else is new?
Recently, a hospital system based in Indianopolis called Clarian Health announced that it was going to start taking money from its employees' paychecks if they didn't meet certain physical standards. I don't think Clarian went far enough -- I think that employees should be penalized for violations involving their technical health as well.
One of the informal rules of computing, as recognized by most of my friends and colleagues (at least, those who know anything about the subject), is: Thou Shalt Avoid Microsoft Works. The suite, which is presumably directed toward consumers, hasn't been really useful for anything but the most elementary tasks for years now. It's a suite with training wheels.
OK, now you have another reason to stay away from the office: According to the Queensland University of Technology, laser printers can be hazardous to your health.
Once upon a time, virtual environments weren't just places where you went in order to meet people in a more interesting environment than that of a chat room or an online whiteboard. They were places where you could reinvent yourself: slay dragons, look like Marilyn Monroe, be rude to your elders. Now, things are different -- at least, in Second Life.
It's a lot of fun to catch the latest user videos on YouTube, but you can never be certain about the verisimilitude of the information you're getting. A new site called VideoJug is determined to become the expert version of YouTube -- a place where you can find how-to videos from various experts for everything from etiquette to eBay to earthquake survival.
If outlines and project managers don't do it for you, this visually-oriented information organizer may help you put your ideas into coherent form.
Internet Explorer and Firefox are sitting on a bench, enjoying the warm summer sun. Suddenly, Firefox sneezes, reaches for its handkerchief, grabs its cell phone, and calls its doctor. "I think I'm coming down with something," it says. "Is there something I can do to get rid of this problem?" Then IE sneezes. What does it do?
Perhaps it was because the humidity was so high in New York that it felt like I was swimming through Manhattan's streets, or perhaps it was because my thoughts were drifting longingly to summer vacations by the beach, or perhaps because my cell phone recently took a disastrous dip in the Atlantic Ocean -- but I couldn't help noticing a trend toward water-resistant technology at the Digital Experience press event last night.
Since a bunch of badly disguised radicals trespassed on a merchant ship and tossed some of its cargo into the waters of Boston Harbor, people have come up with imaginative ways to protest laws that they see as unfair, unjustified, or wrong.... OK, that's a pretty hokey opening. I apologize. But it was the best way I could think of to introduce the topic of the "Day of Silence" that is being held today by a group of U.S.-based Webcasters.
What do you have on your laptop that you might not want anyone else to see?
While not exactly a 98-pound weakling, Apple's new Windows browser doesn't yet have the heft to make it a real contender.
A close friend recently sent me an invitation to join a new search service called Spock, which has generated a bit of buzz. Besides the lure of the name itself (OK, I admit it, I was a Trekkie in a previous life), I was attracted by the idea of a new search engine that uses tags and other strategies to pull in information about people, eliminate duplicate information, and pull it all together in a profile page. But not all the buzz has been favo
Immigration is a topic that has occupied the American mind since a group of English settlers had their visas stamped at Jamestown, VA, in 1607. However, while a great deal of the debate in the past centered around the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" who were the majority of those searching for a place in the United States, some of today's arguments concern a less desperate group: highly skilled workers, many o
The FlipStart provides all the functionality of a notebook computer in a highly portable form factor, although its small size makes some features awkward.
Have you heard about the razor-blade strategy (also called, according to Wikipedia, the "bait and hook model")? The idea is that a company sells you a razor for next to nothing -- or gives it away for free. Great deal, right? You get the razor, and the manufacturer gets to sell you high-cost razor blades for the next few years (or, at least, for as long as you use the razor), making a lot more than was inv
I was wandering around the outer bounds of the Interop show floor this afternoon and stopped by a booth from a company called SpectorSoft, which sells Internet monitoring software for small businesses and home use. Never having tried their software, I can't comment on it; from the short demo that I saw, it looked like it could be quite effective. It was the booth that made me feel a bit uneasy.
My assumption has always been that the best way to get enterprises to go "green" -- to institute conservation policies via decreased energy use and technology recycling, for example -- was to hit them directly in the pocketbook (or via regulations, of course). It's the bottom line that counts.
USB flash drives have become ubiquitous, among both tech professionals and consumers. They're used to pass along product information at trade shows, as a means to take your data and apps with you (when your MP3 player doesn't have enough space), as a backup device -- and as a fashion statement.
I was a bit nonplussed when I discovered that vendors catering to small businesses and individuals were starting to push 802.11n-compliant devices. Not only is it not certain that they even need them (since the only real advantage to individual home users would be if they're planning to stream video across it, and how many cable companies are advertising that these days?), but there is the small issue that 802.11 isn't going to be certified by the IEEE LAN/MAN Standards Committee for, oh, a coup
I knew I was about to attend a trade show in Las Vegas -- specifically, Interop -- when I hit the cab line at the airport. A couple of hundred people patiently walked up and down the roped-off aisles, one hand pulling their suitcases and the other clutching their cell phones, explaining to business associates why they may not make that lunch meeting, but they'll let them know as soon as they check in.
Back in the old, forgotten days BTW (Before The Web), when screens were green and text was all you had to work with, I spent a couple of years as the sysop of an local online forum called the Women's BBS -- a discussion group where women (and men) could feel free to discuss political, personal, and technical issues without having to deal with the obscene pick-up messages, virulent insults, and other pleasantries that we got from folks uncomfortable with our presence.
This first day of the month of May, popularly known as May Day, can mean different things to different people. For many, it heralds the beginning of spring, when you can finally stop running to weather.com to see if there's yet another late snowstorm coming and can start googling phrases like "weed killer" and "swimsuit sales." For others, especially if they live in some other country, or have certain political views, it means a
Popular myth -- those tidbits of received wisdom that epitomize the phrase, "Of course it's true, everyone says so!" -- is as evident in the technology community as it is in any other society. The only difference is that this particular community isn't divided by geographical location, but by language -- namely, the language that their favorite computer speaks.
Anybody who has ever worked with computers knows the old adage "garbage in, garbage out." Besides the most obvious interpretation, this phrase also expresses the truth that, in the end, it's the human element that determines the value of a computer's output. However, taking the human element out of your processes completely can also result in some very embarrassing, and costly, mistakes.
Whatever else Windows Vista does for your PC, it's not going to make the numbers on your budgetary spreadsheet any lower. Several software vendors have decided not to upgrade existing versions of their products to be Vista-compatible -- instead, they're going to reshape upcoming versions. So if you buy a Vista PC, you don't get to reinstall your existing application onto your new machine. Instead, prepare to fork out some additional cash to get the next iteration.
The UserFriendly.Org comic strip, which I've followed on and off for years, recently had a series in which a hapless user's computer dies, and he, of course, hasn't bothered to use the tape backup drive that the tech supplied him with. The tech simmers with righteous fury -- until his own hard drive fries, and he realizes that he hasn't backed up either.
When you plan an "executive" version of a product -- such as, say, the DocuPen Executive Pack -- you really should make sure that it includes enough support materials so that that the executive in question can assemble and use your product. Unfortunately, while the DocuPen -- a mobile scanner about six inches long and half an inch wide -- is a nifty and worthy product, the emphasis in its packaging is more on style than substance.
I couldn't resist testing Google's new Google Voice Local Search (GVLS), although it doesn't involve either booting up my PC or connecting to the Internet. As a result, it feels a bit strange, since Google is a name one normally associates with bits and bytes.
Last week, our old 19-inch tube TV became very ill -- it starting painting everything a weird shade of green -- and so we went out and bought a snazzy new 27-inch flat screen display. We were really happy with our new purchase -- until we realized that we now had to figure out how to get rid of the old TV.
When Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which forced online gambling companies to adhere to federal and state gambling laws, it wouldn't have been out of the ordinary to assume that the reason for the crackdown was the attempt to protect compulsive gamblers from descending into a morass of debt via their home computers. But, like many other "sin" regulations, the real story is a lot more complex -- and money has more to do with it than morals.
The technological revolution -- and let's face it, this is truly a societal revolution -- is attracting a wide range of reactions from various groups that are part of the movement. On the one hand, two industry organizations are trying to impose order on the chaos involved in getting support for home technology. On the other, an increasing number of tech workers are enthusiastically embracing a rootless, home-is-where-your-hard-drive-is lifestyle.
You know, now that it's out of the theaters, I imagine I'll probably rent the film Letters from Iwo Jima at some point. I've heard it's a great picture. However, if I didn't feel like renting it from Netflix or some similar service, and didn't care about copyright and ethics, I could always go to the Internet and download a copy. You say that Via
Whenever Google comes out with a new update, people pay attention. So when the company announced Google Desktop 5 Beta, the latest iteration of its desktop search utility, I thought I'd give it a whirl.
The skill (or, at least, the creativity) reflected by many of the videos appearing on video services like YouTube and Yahoo Video astounds me. Although it really shouldn't; this world is full of talented people, and given an outlet, they will find a way to use it. Throw a random phrase into a search field -- say, "NYC" -- and you'll come up with a report on building bike lanes or a Post a Comment
Not long ago, I bought an inexpensive DVD recorder at Best Buy. Being a careful consumer, I first checked the price of the unit I wanted on Best Buy's Web site -- but neglected to print out the page with the price on it. When I got to the store, I found that the unit I wanted cost about $10 more than I remembered. I was in a hurry, the line was long, and the clerk at the register was hassled -- so I let the matter drop. Now I'm sorry I did, because I might have been treated to a view of Best B
I've always admired people who could create complicated electronic products out of second-hand parts. For example, my brother thinks there's nothing quite as much fun as picking up some abandoned computer parts at the local electronics junk store and turning them into a system that works as well -- or better -- than your typical top-of-the-line server. That's why an otherwise run-of-the-mill news item about a guy who Post a Comment
Have you heard enough about Windows Vista yet? Unless you still use an Underwood typewriter to produce your daily reports, you've no doubt been bombarded with analysts, journalists, bloggers, and other pundits who have offered their opinion and advice about Microsoft's new operating system. But what about the people out there in the trenches -- the ones who will actually have to install, implement, and support Vist
It's not the organized people who need to keep task lists -- it's those of us who are so disorganized that we need some sort of written reminder to keep us on track (and to keep our bosses happy). As a past Outlook user, my inclination is to pair my task list with my calendar. As a current user of Google Calendar, I've been a bit peeved because, with all its advantages, it doesn't have a To Do feature. I'm a lot happier now -- because I found a site with the absurd name of Post a Comment
It may come as a shock to those technophiles who wouldn't be seen in public without their earbuds firmly attached, but there are folks out there who do not own an iPod (or alternate MP3 player). There are even people out there who don't know (or don't want to learn) how to download MP3 files. Most of us would simply leave those benighted souls to their AM radios and clunky CD players -- but at least one company sees them as a possible source of income.
The Vista Roundtable participants offer a few last words on the future of Vista, and its adoption by individuals and companies.
Six of our readers wonder whether there's really any "Wow!" in Vista, talk about increased security, and discuss the role of operating systems.
If you've spent any time on YouTube, or on any of the other video sharing sites that are now so incredibly popular, you'll know that a large percentage of the clips available have at least some copyrighted material in them. In fact, a good percentage are completely copyrighted. Surprised? Of course not. Not unless you've been hiding in an art film theater for the past 10 years.
I like to think that I'm an organized person, but I'm really not. My basement is nearly drowned in piles and piles of books that are in great need of organization. However, every time I go down there to start, I'm overwhelmed by the prospect. So when I got to review the Flic Scanner Media Organizer -- a package containing a small, handheld scanner and three applications from Collectorz.com for tracking music,
This combination of a small handheld scanner and database software can help you organize books, CDs, and DVDs.
Over the past few decades, the citizens of these United States have had to become used to the fact that, when it comes to technology, we are falling behind. Our cars, TVs, phones, PCs, and other gadgets are more likely to come from an Asian or European factory than from a U.S. facility -- and let's not even talk about who is doing the tech support for our computers. Now it looks like we can't even keep up with Internet access.
According to an article in the New York Times, marketers have their eyes on our cell phones. Apparently, they say, it won't be long before we will have to wait through a 15-second advertisement before we get to check our email or send a message. (So far, nobody is talking about having to listen to ads before making a voice call -- yet.)
Occasionally, when driving in NYC, I play a game that works this way: If I have to do a quick maneuver to avoid hitting some fool who isn't paying attention, I award myself a number of points, depending on the danger level of the pedestrian's behavior. That guy strolling out between two parked cars without looking? Six points. That woman who doesn't feel the need to check the traffic light? Eight points. The music-lover bopping out into Times Square traffic oblivious to anything but his iPod? Ga
I've been following the printer/scanner market for some years now, and one of the industry's dirty little secrets -- well, it's really not that secret -- is the fact that vendors make their money not on the printers themselves, but on the cartridges, paper, and other consumables. Have you added up what you pay in toner and/or ink cartridges a year? Scary, isn't it?
The latest Zoho online application will provide a free place for assembling and sharing info -- once it's ready for prime time.
You would think that, for the launch of its much-anticipated Vista operating system, Microsoft could transcend the typical hype session that companies seem to think are the best way to introduce their products. But Microsoft's vaunted Vista launch event was a bigger version of the kind of production that you usually see at trade shows such as CES or the late, lamented Comdex -- a lot of noise, a lot of lights, and a lot of sound and fury, signifying ... well, you know the quote.
A lot of talk is going around these days about social networking on the Web and how people are forming new types of communities via sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and LiveJournal. But as far as I'm concerned, the real online communities are those groups of people who gather online wherever they can because of shared interests, shared concerns, or shared values. And one of the most fervent, opinionated, interesting, and influential groups is the open source community.
OK, I realize that most of us have had news/features/ reviews/blogs/ videos/whatever about Vista pretty much up the whazzoo, and that a lot of you are thinking, "OK, already. Enough is enough! Just release the OS to the public, let us decide what's good/bad/indifferent about it, and leave us alone!"
With all the gadgets and devices that are being shown at CES (a large portion of them mobile) something has to power them. This can be really apparent during a big trade show, where the use of notebooks, PDAs, and especially phones is constant -- and you really don't want to drag around a power cord along with the hundreds of product info brochures and CDs that you've piled into your bag.
It's been a long two days, and at 6 p.m., closing time at the Las Vegas Convention Center, everyone is either on line for a bus, on line for a cab, trudging wearily back to their hotel -- or, as I am, sitting in Starbucks doing some last minute work and just letting their feet rest.
High-definition TVs, ultra-mobile PCs, MP3 players, and crowds, crowds, crowds are some of the views we captured in our travels through the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Microsoft has a tent at CES just outside the Las Vegas Convention Center where, among other things, they are offering interviews with families were were part of their beta testing program (excuse me: their Life With Windows Vista program). These families were given a computer loaded with an early version of Vista about two years ago and were asked to use it as their main computer while giving constant feedback.
For somebody who has spent most of her professional life writing about computers and associated technologies, the crowds at the Consumer Electronics Show are a revelation. Not just the vast number of companies shouting for the attention of the buyers and media -- even though classifying some of the products here as "consumer" can be a stretch -- but the attention it's getting in the popular media. It's been front-page news in the Post a Comment
At CES, everybody's middle name is entertainment -- even at the news announcements. As a result, Panasonic is going to have to learn how to present itself properly if it's going to get the better of, say, Sony. The former started its Sunday press conference with a canned question-and-answer session between two top executives in a seemingly desperate attempt to uphold the honor of their plasma displays (and eventually announcing two new HD video camcorders). Sony opened its event with violinist
I've always been warned that CES would be chaotic, and it looks like they weren't kidding. On Saturday, at the opening of CES Unveiled, the first press event of CES, the line of journalists waiting to get their first glimpse of new tech (and their first free meal of the day) was down the hallway and around the corner. And this was before most of the attendees had shown up.
Not being much of a sports fan -- sorry, guys -- I've always been a bit bemused by the lengths to which players will go in order to win for their fans, their teams, and (probably most importantly) their prize money or huge salaries. It seems to have gone from such traditionally accepted means as fixing games (as immortalized in countless boxing films) to taking unpleasant medications that will both increase your muscle mass and shorten your life span -- and now, to using technology to gain an ad
Over the course of my rather long and varied journalistic career, I've been laid off five times (usually because the magazine in question was shut down) and have survived two or three others, so I'm not unfamiliar with the anger and angst that can accompany that process. However, that doesn't mean I've got any sympathy whatsoever with the fool who reportedly planted a logic bomb in Medco Health Solutions' com
The online Office look-alike offers a free word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation package, along with social networking.
The GN 9350 wireless headset lets you work with your landline phone and VoIP at the same time.
Robots have always fascinated me: From Robby the Robot (who starred in the classic science fiction film Forbidden Planet), to the inhuman but highly effective mechanisms that build our automobiles, to the current crop of scientific toys that are available for hobbyists and experimenters. In fact, I actually wrote a book about robots back in 1982 titled Robots: Reel to R
The Powerline HD Ethernet Adapter HDX101 lets you use your home electrical system to create a network when wireless doesn't work.
Recently, a Metafacts study stated that most mobile PCs are used at two locations rather than all around town. The reason? Lack of Internet connections and, according to principal analyst Dan Ness, "the weight and hassle of carrying around a notebook."
You said it, Dan.
First, a confession: Like a lot of tech enthusiasts, I'm a long-time science fiction reader (and a sometime science fiction writer), and so articles that describe new inventions, technical gadgets, or future possibilities always catch my attention.
When was it that you were hit with your first Christmas commercial this year? For me, it was sometime right after Halloween, when I was watching a local TV station and was suddenly confronted with that overweight guy in a red suit who was urging me to think about what I wanted to get my friends this year.
There's a human tendency to root for the underdog--to hope that the losers who start at the bottom of the heap, who have the odds stacked against them, can fight their way to the top and stand tall in victory while the credits roll. Thus, the popularity of Rocky, the Mets, and, yeah, Firefox.
However, most of the time, things don't work the way they do in the movies
I don't know about you, but every time that "ink low" warning comes up on my printer driver, my day gets a little bleaker. Ink and toner cartridges (known as "consumables"--probably because printers eat 'em up like candy) are one of those expenses that few of us can avoid. You have a printer? You need ink. And the printer manufacturers are happy and eager to sell you some--in fact, one of the reasons so many printers have dropped in price lately is that consumables are the great cash cow of the
Everybody has an AOL story. Mine took place several years ago, when my parents were still on a dial-up connection and used AOL as their main conduit to e-mail and the Web. My father realized he needed to make an important call and signed off. However, AOL, as was its habit, took that opportunity to do a major upgrade (without, of course, asking whether it was convenient to do so). After waiting for several minutes, and with no idea how long the upgrade was going to take, my father finally broke