Archive for the ‘Cool Net Tricks’ Category

Google’s new translator will go where even Star Trek hasn’t gone before.

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

I think one of my most favorite things about the TV show Star Trek that has eluded modern technology (aside from a giant spaceship moving at light speed) is the ability for communications officer Lieutenant Uhura to speak English to every race. Yes this marvel of future technology was called the “universal translator.” As far as the show’s premise goes this simplistically named device was embedded in someone’s ear. Gene Roddenberry gave life to this hidden element of technology so that officers of the Enterprise could talk to all the many people of different worlds.

That’s great for TV but that kind of stuff won’t be possible for decades right? Wrong. You can have this technology right now but even better. You can SEE the words that are written translated like only the communications officer could do by looking into her screen.

On May 16, 2014 Google acquired the company Word Lens that makes a visual translation app that I must say works as advertised. With this

Lieutenant Uhura in Google Glass

Lieutenant Uhura in Google Glass

app, simply holding your mobile device up to see words on a sign, paper, etc were suddenly translated before your eyes into your language of choice. This field is called augmented reality translation. Integrating this into their Google translate product that already covers typed text translation and voice translation is the complete package to be your own communications officer and clearly is the move that makes Google own this space. Of course integrating all this into Google Glass is the goal so you can walk around and see the text in your language.

wordlensThree small hurdles. Thou this isn’t a major problem these days since most all languages on planet earth are already translated there are many dialects and local colloquialisms. A major example of this is Chinese. Parts of China can’t communicate well with other parts because they are speaking different dialects of the same language. The translation space would completely be owned with the addition of language learning (which by the way was even a hard task for Lieutenant Uhura with some languages namely Klingon).

The second issue is local (without internet) use. I notice that the Word Lens app was a whopping 41mb which I didn’t mind because it doesn’t need the internet. However, I tried to use Google translate outside of the country and it told me it needed Internet. That could be a problem that I’d be willing to sacrifice a couple megs of space to solve.

The third issue is that I hope those who speak Klingon don’t try to use this product because it’s not available. Microsoft has that integrated into their search engine/language translator Bing though.

Unlike Uhura, I think we’ll be ok with complete translation of Klingon though.

Impress the book readers you know

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Ever have a hard time figuring out what you are going to get someone? Well, I just came up with a super cool net trick that they don’t tell you about.

Most people shop for books on the internet by way of Well, if you know someone buys a pretty good amount of books (or anything else online) then you know them usually make a wishlist. When people add books to their wishlist they are usually books their thinking about getting. Amazon provides a feature to search for someone else’s wishlist. That’s right, wishlists’ are public! You just need their email address.

Look at books in the wishlist, buy the discounted used one that says “New” (and in my experience they are definitely new) . This can sometimes cost you less than a dollar plus shipping. Now you’re a star for knowing them so well.

Let Firefox help you search and study quicker

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

I was recently at the house of one of my nieces. I was talking to her for a while about her homework and her grades before I came to an idea that I don’t think a lot of people do or even know about. It’s the search engine box in the upper right hand corner of Firefox. If you used to use this a lot keep paying attention because I might have some more info for you that might prove useful.

The box in the upper corner comes with a couple useful websites in the drop-down list. You’ll find: Google, Amazon, Creative Commons, etc. Well, I don’t know why but there was a lot more search engines that you could add just by clicking on “Manage Search Engines” at the bottom of the list. Well this has changed a lot! Now there is only a minimum of sites there and even most of those aren’t search engines they’re addon toolbars. I hate adding toolbars. They add extra gunk in most cases and reduce the amount of screen you can see on the websites you view. Add toolbars if you need to but for search I’d go to: . This site is pure gold for anyone using Firefox (and if you’re not using Firefox we need to talk).

So, on to my neice. She has to look for books for school. Cool. Type in the book you want in that search box, drop down to Amazon on the list and hit enter. Poof! Like magic you’re taken to the Amazon website where you can find your book new or used. She needed quotes from different sources. I looked on the website for quotes, clicked on one of the sites listed, Firefox asks you if you want to install this search engine, you hit enter and you’ve got it. Type in a word like “Stupid” and you’ll get qoutes from people using the word or variants there of. There’s all kinds of Internet goodness there and thousands of plugin search engines as compared to about 100 if you just click the “Manage search engines” option in Firefox. Search the list for all your favorite websites that you look for things. I have ones like: Youtube, Wikipedia, Digg, Mahalo, Sourceforge, and a dictionary. There are torrent search sites, shopping, images, video, music, etc. Almost anything you can think of. I haven’t found a subject that I can’t find one. The even cooler thing is some only search in certain countries. If you’re in Britain, for example, delete the Google search that’s in your current list and click on Google UK or Google Images UK.

The reason they are so much better are because they go to exactly what you want. Say you want to price something on Amazon, eBay, and Newegg. You type that item in the search bar, click the drop-down to Amazon hit enter, open a new tab, click the drop-down to eBay, and so on. You will instantly have what you want on all three tabs for easy comparison. For studying I’d suggest a tab for a dictionary, encyclopedia, Wikipedia (for understanding not quoting as a source), and Google News, CNN, and/or BBC News to get the whole story.

Studying done in less time with more info. Oh, and before I forget. Hit control+F or command+F on the Mac to get a “Find” box in the lower left corner of the browser. Typing the work you want in that box will zip you to the place in the page where that word is. You don’t have to read the whole page to find it.

Try it now no matter what you are doing.

Follow me! Follow me! I’m naked to the net.

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Like the Pied Piper leading the mice from the village so in turn does blogging go. Everyone has the new opportunity to be able to follow the lives of other people. My life has always been an open book to most anyone that I meet, however, now it’s becoming that way to many that I don’t meet. This blog gives away my thoughts on my field to all that ask. Now, it can do the same with Twitter, blogging, microblogging, photosharing sites, and your social networking sites (i.e. Facebook and Myspace). Follow my everyday adventures and interact with me on what you think. I’ve recently forwarded my Twitter account to my instant messager so you I’m going to get more involved with my personal thoughts on Twitter. Follow me there too. Here’s my info:

Twitter: banksps

GTalk IM: banksps

AOL IM banksps1

Facebook: Look for aka my email address.

I love to hear from all my new friend on the internet and hopefully make more.

Am I really that internet uncool?

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

The more podcasts and RSS feeds I listen to or view has made me come to a conclusion.  I’m not internet cool. I have most of the technical ingredients for it. I have instant messengers galore. I have a Twitter account. I have a camera phone.

I guess it’s really that I feel a little left behind listening to Leo Leporte (or any ex-Techtv people) on shows like TWIT. They seem to know so many people by name in the industry that actually talk to them all the time.

I guess I’m not too far off because I have met a lot of the people talking on some shows at conventions or something else but they wouldn’t follow me on Twitter. Although, I have been surprised when people have remembered me.

I’m not mad at them though. Keep doing your thing you Internet Rock Stars! I may not have a couple thousand people following me on Twitter like Robert Scoble or Jason Calakanis. I may not have a name with presence like Leo Leporte but if I can or have offered just one kernel of knowledge in my blog that has made your day… Let me know.  That’s what I’m here for.

Old school newspaper for a new media world

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008


I absolutely love this idea and once caught something like it on a episode of the video podcast hak.5 about a year ago or so.

Here’s the cool future of the newspaper. You make your own. How? Well RSS feeds. Imagine taking RSS feeds (like this blog) and we get out a newspaper every morning. It would only have the subjects that we really want because it uses the RSS feeds we like. Thats what this website does.

The website is Feed Journal and it will take all your RSS feeds and make them into a printed newspaper (if you want to waste the paper) or a PDF file so you could read it on your computer. I’m totally torn on this because I love to read on paper more than on a computer but with advances in e-ink like Amazon’s Kindle will start to bridge that gap.

I can’t wait to be holding my one page of plastic that looks like a newspaper that changes pages digitally when I push a membrane button on the page because its all e-ink on a screen. It’ll probably feel like a page of laminated paper the size of a newspaper. For now there Feed Journal on your laptop, PDA, or Kindle/Sony Ebook reader. Come to think of it this might be the only good use for a tablet PC.

Is everyone getting too busy to podcast?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I’ve just become an RSS junkie in one way or another. It used to be strictly podcasts for the most part. Now I’m really getting into so many blog feeds that I sit up all night reading through blogs. My problem is partly my own but where are all the podcasts going? I realized this while going through all of my podcast feeds and noticing which ones I haven’t seen content for in a while.

I know my video podcasting friend Roxanne Darling would definitely get on me for not starting my own podcast by now so I do take some responsibility for the problem because I’m not creating content myself. However, in an article that I wrote a couple months ago about using sexy women for video podcasts it seems that some are gone now. ABC News has let Amanda Congdon go. Natali Del Conti has left the Podshow network. She has release a promo video for a new show she may be doing on CNet now but I haven’t seen anything about it yet but here’s the link. I’ve got to admit though, I’m not sure how much I’ll really follow her though because I was just telling my wife, “She’s a beautiful girl but I don’t know how credible I find her opinions. She’s just somewhat entertaining.” However, maybe some of that was because Adam Curry (the owner of the podshow network) just likes to see pretty women and boobs bouncing. Cnet seems to be more on the serious side and may hopefully show she has depth… If she has any. However, CNET is like the Clippers basketball team. It’s a training camp. People seem to be a lot better after they leave there.

Amber McCarthur of CommandN is still podcasting but has cut back on her episode time to 7 minutes a week and still does her live net@nite podcast with Leo Laporte but had been bailing on that and leaving Leo alone a couple times. I love Leo but it’s kinda boring when he’s alone and interviewing someone. That format of show was for her.

Fairwell to the “In the trenches” podcast. They’d been going for a couple years and once Kevin left the show because he got too busy the show started going down hill till they ended it last month.

Chris DiBona is a guy that’s all over the place doing everything but he also left Leo Laporte on FLOSS weekly and they finally started it back up. A guy named Randall Schwartz is there now but the content is going down hill and will probably soon call it quits too. I don’t think they’re working really hard to get interesting open source projects.

As far as my business and marketing podcasts go, Heidi Miller stopped her podcast “Diary of a shameless self promoter” a couple months ago and then at the end of December threw a quick episode out but I’m deleting her from my list too.

Where is everyone going? Are they proving that podcasting was a fad that is going away? Are they bored with it? I definitely hope not. If you’re starting a new podcast for techy people let me know. I’m actually looking for objective Mac and Windows podcasts that don’t just scream “I’m a fanboy for this company.”

White hat or Black hat hacker

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

I’ve got to admit. As a kid I was pretty mischievous. I’m sure many of us were. Thing is, what I need is internet all the time. I want to be able to get internet for free because I believe it should be as taken for granted as free radio. I’ve found myself asking clients and people I know if they could give me their WEP/WPA keys so I can log onto their internet if I’m near their house. I’m not going to be downloading movies or anything. I may just need to check my email or get directions and don’t want to spend a fortune getting it on my phone.

This is one of those times that makes a “White hat” hacker like myself want to turn into a “Black hat” one. There are more than enough resources to crack WEP out there. I just don’t want to get started using them to get access points. Somebody come up with a free citywide internet for Los Angeles. I’ve heard they’re working on it in Toronto and San Francisco. We definitely need it here.

Some real class acts

Friday, September 28th, 2007

While at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo this year I’ve got to give a quick shout out to some real class acts. First and foremost I’ve got to give my friend Roxanne Darling a hand for a great seminar today on how she makes video production easy (these pictures are from last year but I’ll take new ones tomorrow).


Then to Leo Leporte and Steve Gibson for “Security Now” getting Podcast of the year (Leo couldn’t come this year).


Also, I’ve got to give a quick applause to a very good video podcast for the children and the curious about animals. A guy named Joel Mark, of the Maryland Zoo, started a video podcast that’s 5 minutes long and about a different animal each time. It’s definitely something to look forward to as the upcoming video about camels is cute for the kids, funny, and educational. Find him at He was worried about his job because he started this without approval. However, I notice now that his link is redirected to the zoo’s site and embedded there. That must mean he’s safe.

Live blogging from Podcamp in Ontario

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

I’ve been so wanting to post something in the last day or so but a lot of running around and getting ready for going to the Podcast and Portable Media Expo has had most of my focus.  I am out in Ontario, California today at the Podcamp the day before the expo.  I’m listening to some great speakers right now and had lunch with Roxanne Darling of Beach Walks.

I seemed to have had a ton of interest in a question I decided to speak up on about getting my grandmother on Linux.  More precisely it was about making her listen to the new media of podcasting like the old media of radio.  I’ve been approached by quite a few people about how I did it.  One man was saying that I was the hit of the show so far.  The bad part is, I introduced myself but not my website.

I’ll have more info about what I learned here and possibly go into more depth about my family podcast setup and my new job as programming director for my family’s viewing and listening needs.

Follow the link to Roxanne’s show.  I should be on her podcast later today.