Musings on personal and enterprise technology (of potential interest to professional technoids and others)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Skyfire Loads Flash in a Flash - Gadgetwise Blog

If you've played with Windows Mobile's packaged mobile Internet Explorer, you know of its various strengths and weaknesses, many of which have been greatly improved in the well-known free Opera Mini browser (which has, among other things, user-friendly "Speed Dial" and bookmark sync capabilities).

However, relative newcomer Skyfire is definitely worth a look, especially if you are on a high-bandwidth data plan. As explained in the Gadgetwise blog excerpted below, Skyfire is outstanding for Flash content, and I have also found its ability to stream audio on my phone's speaker excellent. No wonder one of the comments on that post expresses an impatience to have Skyfire for Blackberry (which is apparently in the works).

Here is the excerpt from App of the Week: Skyfire Loads Flash in a Flash - Gadgetwise Blog -

"...Smartphones have become the browser battleground that the computer once was, and my hands-down favorite is Skyfire, a browser that is still in beta, but works on Windows and Symbian phones.

The main reason I like it is that it does one thing I haven’t seen any other phone browser do: it runs Flash video. Any Flash video. It opens sites I couldn’t access before.

Perhaps a better reason is its speed. Compare it to your phone’s built-in browser, or even the popular Opera browser, and you’ll instantly see the difference.

Finally, although I often find predictive typing bothersome, Skyfire quickly honed in on what I was searching for.

There were some glitches. Although it will work on any Windows 5.6 or 6.1 phone or most Nokia N and E series Symbian OS phones, it is most suitable for smartphones. On the Pantech Matrix Pro, a dual slider, Web-enabled phone that isn’t quite smart, I had some problems navigating to and around the Skyfire screen.

The speed may be a fair tradeoff for the few stumbles. And you can’t complain about the price. Skyfire, you had me at “flash,” “fast” and “free.”"

Friday, May 22, 2009

New in Gmail Labs: User-friendly Inbox preview

Just announced: Another example of the small but quite valuable enhancements the Gmail team keep adding to the Gmail experience.

As explained in Official Gmail Blog: New in Labs: Inbox preview:
"...we created a new feature in Gmail Labs called Inbox Preview. While Gmail is loading, a simple, static preview of your inbox with your ten most recent messages is displayed. Turn it on from the
Labs tab under Settings, and if you're on a slow connection you'll know from the start if it's worth the wait. "

LifeHacker observes accurately:
"As Gmail's engineers point out, it stinks to wait for Gmail to load up all its AJAX-y, gadget-loaded interface, just to find out there's no new mail."

IMHO, this and similar features (including especially gmail's cool Tasks-related enhancements) really differentiate Gmail from the rest of the pack (Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL etc.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Should Project Managers Twitter?

Some interesting observations from the gantthead blogs about the potential relevance of Twitter to Project Managers:

Why Project Managers Should Twitter: "How many times have you heard that project management is all about communication? Communicating with your team is important, but so is communication with the outside world... you should at least become familiar with Twitter..."

I agree that PM's should become familiar with Twitter... However, the decision for any specific project would of course depend on the audience, sensitivity of the information being transmitted, overall environment and expectations of the customer, etc...

For those of us (including current or aspiring PMP's and CAPM's) familiar with the Project Management Institute's PMBOK, this basic issue is addressed as part of the Project Communications Management knowledge area, e.g. the Communications Planning process, for which the PMI observes that it is critical both to:

  1. Identify stakeholder information requirements, and
  2. Determine a "suitable means" to address those requirements.
Twitter may not be the most "suitable means" to communicate for all projects, but certainly could be effective and appropriate for some. For example, it would be out of the question to even consider Twitter for sensitive projects/customers (e.g. military or defense-related). Tweets are fully visible to anyone (even without a Twitter account!). However, Twitter could be both appropriate and effective if the project does not focus on proprietary or sensitive information and customer staff are already familiar with Twitter (e.g. if the customer's core business is the communications / public-relations field).

Similarly, there could be situations in which the risk of not communicating by Twitter is much greater than doing so. Think of an emergency natural-disaster evacuation scenario in which affected parties need to receive extremely urgent information... Some of them may be accessing Twitter on a very regular basis, but their cellphone number for SMS might not be functioning at that particular moment.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

“If a computer can figure it all out, we can get lazy”

A cool application, connecting learning, nature, and mobile computing:

Full Article:

Novelties - Foliage Field Guides for Cellphones -

'The traditional way to identify an unfamiliar tree is to pull out a field guide and search its pages for a matching description. One day people may pull out a smartphone instead, photographing a leaf from the mystery tree and then having the phone search for matching images in a database.
A team of researchers financed by the National Science Foundation has created just such a device — a hand-held electronic field guide that identifies tree species based on the shape of their leaves, said Peter N. Belhumeur, a professor of computer science at Columbia and a member of the team.
The field guide, now in prototype for iPhones and other portable devices, has been tested at three sites in the northeastern United States, including Plummers Island in Maryland and Central Park in New York, said W. John Kress, a research botanist and curator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, who is also on the research team. The computer program compares the leaf snapshot to a library of leaf images.
“We believe there is enough information in a single leaf to identify a species,” he said. “Our brains can’t remember all of these characteristics, but the computer can.”

With a nicely written conclusion:

"...Matthew Brown, supervisor of the soil, water and ecology lab at the Central Park Conservancy, thinks that ID programs can be useful. “If people are walking through the park and they come upon a tree that’s not in their field guide,” he said, “they can snap a photo, send it in, and get the name back and find out more information.”
But he believes in traditional education, too. “People don’t have to take botany for four years, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the value of learning information. If a computer can figure it all out, we can get lazy.”

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

PMP + Project Management eBooks included in PMI membership

The Project Management Institute ( ) is well-known for its PMP Certification (and other project-management related certifications).

For those who invest in PMI membership - even without trying to obtain PMP certification - there are some interesting and useful benefits, including online access to a number of eBooks. The titles include both PMP-specific (e.g. PMP: Project Management Professional Study Guide, Deluxe Edition
) and general business titles such as the 2003 edition of Harold Kerzner's
Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling

If you are a PMI member and have obtained member access to , you can access Kerzner and other of the PMI eReads & Reference titles via these steps:

  1. Login with your PMI login and password at
  2. Click on the link near the lower left-hand corner of the page labeled Go to eReads & Reference
  3. Click on the link near the upper right-hand corner of the page labeled My Home
  4. You can now search by title, keyword etc. as per the detailed summary below

And here is the official description as per : Resources
e-Reads & Reference
Powered by Books24x7

"An exclusive PMI member benefit, eReads & Reference provides online access to 250 complete and unabridged books from PMI and other leading publishers. Topics include project management, leadership, teams, cross-cultural business, knowledge management and more.

With eReads & Reference it’s easy to expand your project management horizons online, anytime. Powered by Books24x7’s sophisticated search engine, eReads & Reference lets you find books by keyword, phrase, title, author, publisher, or International Standard Book Number (ISBN).

Use eReads & Reference as an on-the-job guide, a research and study aid, or to preview books before you buy. For quick reference, bookmark titles of interest or build your own bookshelf."