Launchrock helps your start-up make a website in minutes

As a developer, I always have a few web start-up ideas incubating.  And as the technology arm of a new venture, it’s up to me to get something put together quickly so that we can start building an audience and a name for ourselves.  At the same time, I have to balance that with quality and stability.  If you throw something up too fast, the technology (and sometimes the entire concept) may not be fully fleshed out, with embarrassing results.

Thankfully, I’ve found launchrock, a great new site that lets you toss up clean-looking ‘launching soon’ pages really quickly.   Read More

Faxing stuff: apparently still a thing

Last Monday was my birthday, and I took a personal day to go downtown and enjoy my favorite NYC cheesesteak.  While relishing my sandwich, I couldn’t help but overhear a group of guys talking at the next table.

“I mean, who sends a fax anymore?” one of the young men asked his group.

As they went on talking, I was able to figure out that they were a film crew.  Apparently, in the course of their current shoot one of them needed to send a fax on the fly. They met with some difficulty, since they couldn’t find a Kinko’s or other available fax machine that they could use.

Being nosy and alone, I helpfully chimed in with some information about the eFax site, which I’ve used to send digital faxes.  However, I wish that at the time I’d known about the eFax iPhone app, because I would definitely have recommended it to them.  It’s great – a straightforward business proposition that takes faxing into the mobile productivity era.

This simple app would have probably been perfect for our friends in the sandwich shop.  Some sophisticated business users may have found it too simplistic, but luckily eFax has responded by announcing today that users can now integrate digitized signatures into documents for fax and email. The free app can now e-sign, authorize and approve documents right from your iPhone.

As if it’s not enough that you can now receive, endorse, and return documents when you’re miles away from your desk, they’ve also added some nifty sorting and searching features for folks with lots of documents to fax.  I also like the smart integration with the phone’s contact list that allows you to easily populate a cover page with your intended recipient’s information.

Although an app like this is not as entertaining as playing Temple Run, the value of managing your faxes from your handheld likely sounds very sexy to some business folks.

How to Manage Your Small Business Reviews

Just about every review site has a mobile app and many small business owners have a love/hate relationship with these apps.  On one hand, a slew of negative reviews could wreck a budding entrepreneur’s vision.  On the other hand, well-placed positive reviews could sway a potential client and gain their trust.  Online reviews are a big part of any small business’s web presence, and can require careful, attentive management.  This task is made more difficult when online review sites don’t play nicely with each other, causing headaches for even the most tech-savvy owners.

Take my sister, for example.  She just started her own small photography business, and of course wants to generate good initial buzz.  So, several of her happy clients offered to post positive reviews to get her off on the right foot.  Pre-July 2011, this was simple – Google embedded reviews from other review sites (Yelp, Trip Advisor, Yahoo! Reviews etc) directly on a business’s “Google Places” page.  So, she could just smile, thank her customers for their help, and let them review on any site they wished – no muss, no fuss.  Post-July 2011, however, Google stripped out all reviews from other sites, leaving only reviews left by Google users.   Read More

RIM CEO Shakeup: Meet new President and CEO, Thorsten Heins

Thorsten Heins

RIM’s big announcement on Sunday, where they named their former COO of Products and Sales Thorsten Heins as President and CEO, may not be the seismic change that Blackberry fans have hoped for.  Many voices of the blogoshpere are openly wondering about the decision to appoint someone who has been long ingrained with the RIM culture, especially with many speculating that what RIM really needs is a big shake-up to stay competitive with “the other fruit company”.

It’s no secret that RIM has lost substantial market share recently. Some have switched to Google’s Android, but even more have swapped for Apple’s sexy consumer-oriented iPhone 4S.  The Blackberry interface has publicly lagged when compared to Apple’s slick and user-friendly features (like Siri, for example).  Apple is known as the master of the “big show”: updates to the popular iOS and hardware are released regularly and with much fanfare, and their fans wait with bated breath.  RIM’s OS fiasco has been just the opposite; if people have been holding their breath waiting for a Blackberry 10, they‘re likely turning purple as the product has missed its shipping date several times.

Additionally, Apple and Android have embraced open platforms that allow millions of developers to create apps for the platform, and RIM’s closed system seems geriatric in comparison.  To be competitive in this market, RIM should embrace the developer community and leverage their as-yet-untapped creativity.

With all this said, is RIM dead?   Read More

Finding the perfect 4G Tablet for my Dad

My mother called me a few days ago with a simple question:

“What kind of tablet should I buy for your father’s Christmas present?”

Should be easy to answer, right?  But, she had a few requirements:

– Must be 4G
– Large, bright screen
– Easy to use
– less than $400

And with that list, the pool of qualified applicants dwindled significantly.  However, this list of “must-haves” might also need some examination.  First off, we’ve explored previously in this blog that 4G doesn’t always mean “faster”.  I explained to my mother that, while dad may want the fanciest new technology, it might not actually provide a tangible benefit.  Unfortunately, I could hear her shrug through the phone; “Well, you know your father!” Read More

SOL Republic Delivers impressive quality for under $100

I recently got a demo pair of SOL Republic Tracks headphones and I couldn’t have been more excited.  Honestly, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I unboxed them.  Everyone with a mobile lifestyle knows that headphones are a vital part of your day.  As a New Yorker, I wear headphones a lot; like, really a lot.  I wear them on the subway, in the gym, at my desk, and just about anytime that I take a phone call.

Because I do all of these different things with my headphones, I need durability; but I also want something that is comfortable and cool-looking.  It would be a bonus if they could also control my iPhone, and maybe even actually produce good sound.  At the same time, I don’t want to break the bank buying headphones.  It’s hard to explain to your wife that she has to wait to replace the dishwasher because your headphones make the latest Ratatat single sound REALLY awesome.

I’ve got to say, these Tracks headphones had me covered on all counts. Read More

LiveScribe Echo a few weeks later

A while back I wrote about my LiveScribe Echo smart-pen.  At the time, I was totally enamoured with the tool, and it was perfect for use at my job.  Now it’s a few weeks later and I’ve changed jobs, and I have to say the Echo smart-pen is just as awesome as it was when I first got it.  As a matter of fact, I’ve found a great new use for the pen.

First of all, the device has held up really well.  After weeks of daily use, it looks and functions like new.  The capacity is impressive, since I still haven’t come close to filling the 8 gig limit of this pen and I’ve already logged quite a bit of Pencast footage on it. Read More

Cluzee? It’s snoozy.

Since the debut of Siri, the voice-controlled virtual assistant included with the iPhone 4S, there has been a race to offer the same capability on Android devices.  The latest attempt, Cluzee, seems to be creating buzz as an app that might equal (or even surpass) Siri’s offerings.  However, can Cluzee really surpass Apple’s electronic Jeeves?

The buzz around Cluzee is due to the fact that it offers a few flashy features that Siri doesn’t, like providing driving suggestions for the locations of upcoming calendar appointments. Cluzee also provides the standard range of personal assistant magic tricks, including a list of “essentials”, “local search”, a “personal day planner”, “personal health planner”, and “personal radio”.   Read More

Platform as a Service makes building apps a breeze

In business, development time can mean serious money.  There’s a delicate dance of cost vs. benefit – processes that could potentially be automated aren’t because the time it would take to write the code isn’t worth the time that would be saved.  Luckily, the industry is changing, and we’ll soon see a day where your business can develop an app without writing a single line of code.

That day might just be today, AT&T’s new “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) product is a huge step in the right direction.  PaaS offers a complete development environment designed help your business build and launch custom applications quickly, run them reliably and manage them easily throughout the full application lifecycle.  The best part is that you can make it accessible from any device, all at the click of a mouse. Read More

Gone in a Flash

Adobe is going through some serious changes, one of which involves the cutting of close to 750 jobs as part of a broad restructuring; probably not what we need in this economy, but times are tough all over. The second rumor is also surprising, and bad news for many: according to ZDNet, Adobe will no longer support Flash on mobile devices — devices including the ones running Android. Adobe was quoted saying,

“We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.”

I hope this means that Adobe is moving more towards AIR mobile apps and heavily investing in HTML5, which in my opinion is the way of the future. Adobe is expected to make an announcement in the next few days. Even though this probably means good things for Adobe, if you are a Droid user you can’t help but be disappointed. Android users have long flaunted the Flash support as proof of superiority over Apple’s iOS. Can Android compete with iOS if it loses Flash forever?  Your thoughts in the comments.