MindVisualizer - Formatting a Node

This week I'm hoping to strike a couple of things off my to do list.  I'm going to be traveling a bit through the Pigeon Forge area and probably staying there through a deal I found at Pigeon Forge vacation rentals overlooking the mountains.

Specifically, I'm hoping to test drive MindVisualizer.  They provide mindmapping software and there's nothing unique about another mindmapping tool, but they do have a feature that caught my eye and is driving the test drive.

Their mind mapping software has the capability to format an entire node of sub topics.  Instead of having to individually select all the sub topics and then format them, you can select a higher level topic and opt to format all the sub topics in that node with the same formatting.  Compared to MindManager (even the new Version 7) that saves about a half dozen mouse clicks to achieve the same formatting result.

MindVisualizer screen shot

The bottom line is that there are many mindmapping tools out there.  Mindmappers need to be vigilant against over formatting their mind maps in a way that detracts from their goal of getting things done and turns them into full time formatters.   In this regard, I think this simple and intuitive feature in MindVisualizer could be very useful.  I don't know if this or any other features in the program make it worth picking up the software permanently, but it is a step in the right direction and shows a level of intuition that is vacant from several other mindmapping systems that seem to be stuck copying each other with the same utilities and functions.

WebEx coughs on Wireless

I was viewing a WebEx presentation from Mindjet this morning.  A demo of their new MindManager Product Version 7, which officially launches in about an hour.

While I was watching the demo, I was listening in through the WebEx audio streamer tool.  Normally, WebEx recommends that you call in separately through a conference line.  That wasn't an option for me today.

I was in a noisy environment (sporadic noises), my cell phone was charging after a night of travelling and talking, and the available land line was one of those peculiar models without a mute button.  Plus, I searched high and low and couldn't find the WebEx instructions for muting a call with the keypad.  I knew it was possible, just couldn't find it when I needed it.

Halfway through the presentation, the streaming audio began to stutter and stall and cough and have fits.  I was connected  through a wireless connection and in circumstances like these I always blame my own equipment first.  Must be the wireless card, the wireless router, it would all work better if I were manually connected with network cables, must be my DSL connection, my DSL provider.

Services like WebEx have trained us over the years to trouble shoot problems like these by assuming there's something wrong with our systems first.  Nice of them right?

I can run Skype just fine on my computer without problems where the streaming sound is lost for 5 minutes at a time, why can't WebEx get up to snuff with my computer, system, cables, connections etc.

Broken Technology Series: Laser Combs - Skip it and get a transplant

If you are folicly challenged or like me come from a family with a long history of folicle disabilities, you may find yourself confronted with that infamous question.

Its not, should I come over or not.

Its not, should I just shave it all bald and put on a layer of wax.

Its the question of how do I get my hair to grow back?

If you want to grow hair on your arms or in the bald spot in the middle of the back of your head, you could try menoxidyl and try and avoid feeling like Homer Simpson with a hair tonic.

If you want to grow peach fuzz elsewhere, that won't every amount to anything significant and will probably fall out again any way, then you could try a laser comb.  Think some sort of souped up lazer pointer that looks like a comb that you use three times a week to stimulate your hair folicles like Bruce Lee stimulating his pectorals and abs with electroshock.

Apparently accoding to Dr. Larry Shapiro, surprise surprise, laser combs don't work!  Its been authorized by the FDA, but we all know that they will authorize anything.  If you don't believe me just check out the recent spike in pet cemetary burials.

Dr. Shapiro is a bit biased as he specializes in hair transplants.  Hair transplants really seem to be the only technology that really gets the job done.  The results may look a little goofy for a few months after the implanted folicles start to heal and grow in thicker, but if your wife, girl friendor mistress ever had a boob job, you know that those things can look a little odd for a while after the surgery as well.

Some things take time to heal and grow into their own.

Free Online Tests for your Websites

If you are a new blogger or an experienced webmaster or web designer, there is one thing that is relatively universal. 

You need to test your website, retest your website and test it again.

It is very important to test your website under many different circumstances and from a wide range of user perspectives so that you can make your website or blog universally acceptable and appealing.

The Aviva Directory provided an excellent article titled 'Grade Your Website: 31 Free Online Test'.

The article provides exactly that, 31 different tests gathered from all around the internet.  These are online utilities freely available to anyone that can be used to help insure that your website or blog is validated for everything from html, to xhtml to CSS and even for accessibility in the United Kingdom and around the world.

You can check your website to determine how it might look to people visiting using Internet explorer 5.5, 6.0, 7.0, Firefox, Netscape, Opera, Safari, even check your site using multiple screen resolutions.

The article provides several tools for checking your links to insure that there are no broken, malformed or links that have gone dead.  I highly recommend the article and the tools.  I've used about 30-50% of the tools regularly in the past and have several of them bookmarked.  There are quite a few new ones that I've bookmarked to add to my own testing toolbox!

Where are the Laptop Desks?

I am preparing to move this summer, and we will be temporarily staining corporate housing.  Anyone that's ever been a corporate housing knows that you don't get a lot of space sometimes in corporate housing.  This time around were actually opting for a smaller place and were sending a good deal of our stuff into storage.

That said I still need to be a little work effectively from our future temporary housing home.  I've been casually browsing for a nice and efficient desk to use with my laptop.  It seems like most furniture designed for holding your computers are designed for the older age of desktop computing.  I haven't used a desktop computer myself and three or four years a least.  In fact I have two desktop desks and I'm trying to find a good way to get rid of them.

I've seen a couple desks that are close to the right purpose at Studio RTA Furniture. They are still tailored to be used with desktop computers, but a couple of them are close to the right thing for a laptop. It makes me wonder when furniture manufacturers will get around to custom tailoring some desks as Pacific leave for laptop users.

What would such a desk include?

  1. cooling pad to keep the laptop cool
  2. some form of USB hub
  3. an optional monitor cable for either a projector or some form of flat panel display
  4. small drawer to hold wireless mouse that works with either Bluetooth or USB
  5. maybe even a portable hard drive stuck in a drawer somewhere
  6. a surge protector and possibly the laptops charging cable itself should also be hidden away somewhere in the desk
  7. A wireless keyboard tucked away in a tray to work with the laptop

Did Vote for the Worst Win last Week?

I suspect that American Idol was hijacked by both the worst last week.

I think that is terrific!

I am enjoyed watching American Idol in the past, however this season has been extremely painful as most of the people on the show have very little talent compared to pass contestants or even compared to actual American idols.

So in the best singer got voted off last week I immediately thought that vote for the worst had been successful.  There's lots of reasons to explain why Dolittle may have been voted off, but this is the most likely one as I look at it.

Sure she'll get to go on tour with the American Idol group and I'm sure she will get a record deal of her own, but I'm not about to go see her in concert nor any other American idols in concert anytime soon.  If I'm going to shell out money for concert tickets it can be for someone to do a lot more talent!

Need Help Finding a Bag to Hold my 17 inch Monster - Laptop

I am sure I have my priorities backwards, however when I travel I don't really worry about my clothes are my shoes or my bathroom bag or anything else, my first priority is making sure that my computer and all the accessories I need are packed and ready to roll.

I never find the luggage that I'm looking for when it comes time to pack my electronics. I think I have a luggage choosing deficiency or something because I always end up getting shoulder bags or backpacks that aren't quite right. I lucked out a few years ago and picked out a good shoulder bag from Samsonite that I basically had copied from a fellow coworker.

My firend and coworker had the same computer I had and I saw their bag and how they had it laid out working and I went and bought the same version. That was easy I was copying.

Unfortunately last winner I upgraded my computer and I now have one of those big 17 inch wide monsters of a laptop.  It doesn't fit in my benchmarked bag at all.

So I have to find a good shoulder bag or backpack capable of holding my 17 inch monster. Since I have a luggage choosing deficiency that's not likely to happen anytime soon, so if anyone out there has one of those 17 inch monsters preferably a Toshiba satellite, drop me a comment and let me know what type of computer bag or backpack that you use or prefer for your own 17 inch monster.

These days I write a motorcycle so if you have a good backpack that you could recommend for a 17 inch monster laptop that would be ideal for me.

Microsoft's advantage over Google's Office tools

This week Microsoft and San Disk announced that they were working on a project to provide people with an encrypted thumb drive that when plugged into a USB port on a computer would enable a user to use their desktop safely on any computer.

In essence if they succeed computers will become as ubiquitous as paper.  It won't matter what computer you work on eventually, they will all feel and look like your computer.  Microsoft is attempting to tackle this through hardware plugged into an operating system on the hardware.  Google and other open source groups are attempting to tackle this through server side web based software.

Microsoft has a natural advantage in that most computes do have USB ports but not all computers are connected to the internet all the time.  With this in mind its likely that those San Disk thumb drives will become as ubiquitous and universal as bic pens!

The Golf Itch

I have been toying with the golf itch for a number of years but it's never quite itched enough for me to have to do anything about it. One of these days I'm going to have to scratch that itch and learn how to play golf.

The thing is I have a dangerous slice as I've mentioned probably a few dozen times. My slice is so dangerous that it can hurt people. I'm going to need some extraordinary Golf Equipment and even more extraordinary golf training.

Getting a Natural Tan with Dragon Naturally Speaking Voice Recognition Software

When you think of computer nerds, you typically think of a pale pasty looking guy, who has been locked up in a computer lab somewhere for far too long.  Let's call that computer generation 1.0.

I say 1.0 because you may be thinking of a professional looking person, may be a male or female dressed in business casual attire sitting in Starbucks with wireless laptop.  Let's call that computer generation 2.0.

I'd like to suggest a potential future of computer professionals in computer generation 3.0.

The concept came to me while I was sitting on my front deck basking in springtime sun of Atlanta, Georgia.  I have previously lived in both computer generations 1.0 and 2.0, but now I'm living in something entirely different.

I'm sitting on my deck wearing a T-shirt and shorts and Teva sandals.  It's about 80° outside, the sun is out and there's not very much smog in the air today.  My laptop computer is about 5 feet away from me sitting under a shaded enclosure on my deck.  I am sitting out in the sun relaxing with my eyes closed hands behind my head face tilted towards the sun processing some vitamin D in my system. 

I am using Dragon Naturally Speaking 9 Preferred to transcribe this article.

I've written over a dozen articles about  using Dragon NaturallySpeaking on our sister site Maven Mapper's Information -- the Light.  This article seemed to be more appropriate for Maven Mapper's Information the Dark, because I'm working on my skin coloration a little bit.  All winter long, I've been working inside and I am feeling a little pale.  My Cherokee-German-English heritage is feeling a little challenged in pigmentation department.  Plus, I could use a little fresh air after fumigating a room attached to my office.

Working with voice recognition software from Dragon NaturallySpeaking allows me to work hands free and eyes free.  I am not confined to being at  arms length from my laptop while I write.  Writing that line, I am reminded of my days in the military where I was required to keep my rifle within arms length at all times. 

"This is my rifle,this is my gun, one is for  ..."  Full Metal Jacket

Did I mention that I do not even have to have my eyes open!  Granted, I will have to edit this article later to ensure there are no mistakes(no mistakes was transcribed by DNS as "no stakes"), but I can get the general idea out in a great first draft with my eyes closed and my hands resting behind my head - not quite behind my back.

Literally, I can sit back and relax in the sun, I don't have to worry about my computer getting overheated from direct sunlight.  I can enjoy the open air and the great outdoors.  It's really a beautiful thing.

This is just an example of the power of voice recognition and what it can do to free you from your computer and enable you to still get work done efficiently.

Ten years from now I can envision meditating on top of a mountain top, near the ancient civilization of Machu Picchu possibly, gazing out over the mountains and valleys and capturing my thoughts and perspectives and possibly performing some useful functions to enable productive communication with my friends and family and business partners from around the world. 

The computer generation 3.0 will not only be freed from wires and cables attached to a desktop computer, eventually they will be free from their computers themselves.

My efforts are admittedly in their infancy.  As I sit on the deck I have to concern myself with tan lines that might develop from the headset microphone that partially covers my cheek.  I am not using a wireless Bluetooth headset for Dragon.  They are available.  I just don't have one, but would accept a donation. 

So I am limited to a distance of approximately 3 to 6 feet away from my laptop.  It's not that far, but for sunbathing it is far enough.

Outlook - You Can not Win for Losing

I encountered my quarterly Outlook Qaugmire (yes I know I swore off Outlook last quarter, so why am I still complaining?   I am stuck with it I guess).

How did this all start?

It's all Audible's fault!  I have an Audible account.  I have a new computer.  Audible is a pain in the neck to work with when you have to migrate to a new computer or a new device.

I had to go into my Audilbe account and download the crappy Audible manager software.  I like a lot of things about Audible, but not Audible Manager!

Then I have to 'Activate' my device.  This is the step you take right after you install Audible Manager and proceed to nail your toes to a 12 inch section of 2 x 4 and take a 12 mile hike in the swamp. 

A Swamp hike with nailed on wood shoes is actually less painful than activating a device with Audible Manager!

So I hit activate and both my new computer and my Audible manager program can not find my Treo, so its time to share the love with Palm.  Your desktop synch software Sucks!

So I try and download the latest version of Palm software for my Treo.  I get a 404 page after filling in all the information.  The download is apparently not available . . .

So I dig out my treo disc from that place I stored it the last time I had to go through this stupid exercise.  I install the software.  I try and update the sofware, but it wants me to do a hotsynch first.

NOOOOOO!!!!    (Hotsynchs on new machines are always trouble!)

But I have no choice and I have it all backed up on my old computer, right?

So I run the hotsynch.  It takes forever.

I turn on my phone 20 minutes later and click on my address book to make sure all my phone numbers are still in my phone.

Big Surprise - They are ALL Deleted!   Palm Treo Hotsynch software Sucks!

So now I plug my phone into my old computer and start to synch it over there.  Its an older slower machine.  That was 40 minutes ago and it is still synching up, and hasn't moved off the calendar yet!  It still has Contacts, Tasks and Notes, so I take a break to calm down and get my nail gun back out and nail my fingers to some wood pieces of plywood cut out in the shape of hands.

I figure I will type like this to keep up with my machine running this slow software.

In the meantime, I'm troubleshooting the new machine.  I go into Outlook and I think that Palm couldn't find my contacts there or something.  I have this stupid little thing that happens when I try and send a new email.

Say I open a New email to send and click on the To button to pick a contact, it gives me this stupid error saying:

The address list could not be displayed. The Contacts folder associated with this address list could not be opened; it may have been moved or deleted, or you do not have permissions. For information on how to remove this folder from the Outlook Address Book, see Microsoft Outlook Help.

When I click on the OK, button I can then see my Contacts option labeled as 'Contacts' and I can pick my email address just fine.  Well apparently this is bad (yes Outlook sucks too!)  Outlook has 2 different contacts folders (and I use that term loosely because technically Outlook doesn't have Contact folders at all, it just uses that stupid name for all of us dumb schmucks that want a user friendly interface . . . where's my nail gun?

So I hunt the internet down for a cure.  Google sucks these days also and I go through 20 different pages of wrong turns looking for the answer for the problem.  I try 3 solutions that do not work at all.  Then I find this one and it works. 

So now I try to pick an email through the to button and every think is Hunky Dorry (no idea what that phrase means so I apologize to anyone that it offends - something from my scarred childhood I presume, where's my nail gun???)

So Outlook is fixed.  The stupid Palm software is installed, but not the update.  I had downloaded the update but its zipped.  I try and open it with PowerZip (PowerZip sucks because it turns all my zipped folders lime green and its share ware, which I'm not going to buy just needed something to open a tarz file one night.)  Well somehow PowerZip lost the download.

So I go back to Palm and hunt for the update.  I do not recall the keywords I used last time, so I come in through a different entry page.  I don't find the same update, but I find a different one that has the Day Light Savings time update (Thanks Congress really needed that small bit of hassle from you last spring and now again!  Congress Sucks!)

While I'm typing my phone finaly finishes synching up with my old computer. I check the address book and it has 12 listings called "Unnamed" and nothing else.  I have several hundred contacts.  Where's my nail gun???  The phone's getting it next!

I check my calendar on my phone.  It works.  Why delete my contacts but not my Calendar?  Must be an evil cabal between Microsoft and Palm and Motorola who may still own 25% of Palm and doesn't like it that Treo's still make better smart phones than Motorola, who isn't that smart.  I know I worked there for several years.  This can be confirmed by the fact that they let Mike Z go to Nortel I think.  Real smart send the guy packing that helped turn the company away from the brink of destruction.  Kind of like throwing Moses into a Volcano after parting the read sea.  Guess that would have saved everyone a bunch of rules . . .  hmmmmm

Plug stupid cadillac of a smart phone (Its a Treo 600 a dinosaur, but it gets good cellular coverage, better than any blackberry or cambells soup can with a string attached.  So I'm running the stupid Palm synch (not calling in hot synch any more, its Palm synch and it sucks.  Palm needs to fix it and then I'll use whatever stupid trademark brand name they like, until then its Stupid Palm Synch (SPS).

Now the first 2 times I synched it showed the contact names flashing through the Pocket Mirror monitor crap.  Like it had found 'Contacts' which it then lost somewhere.  Third times a charm and its showing the addresses again.  It runs real fast this time (new computer whooping some Palm butt!)  Or its just screwing up faster with twice the ram and a faster processor.

As this 3rd synch is winding down, I see that its backing up the databases.  That's good, the backup worked real good last time.  (Couldn't find the recover button.  Palm doesn't have a recover button.  Don't know where you recover that backedup data)  The synch just finished, I pick up my phone (after I stop typing these words)

It says Unamed again!  UGghhhhhh  I click on one of these Unamed names.  Its actually a name.  It only has an email address inside, no actual name no phone number and there are more than 12.  It just looked like 12 since they were all the same, I didn't realize that it was scrolling through the list.    My Kingdom for a nail gun!  (I do not really own a nail gun.)

So I have confirmed that Palm really does suck!  So now I have to trouble shoot why Palm is too stupid to synch all that other information into my 'smart' phone.

So now I install a Outlook conduit through Chapura something or other (Chapura another crappy palm software program apparently).  I double check all the mapping and things for the umpteenth time, but I don't think this is going to work well.  I run the synch and sit back and attempt to contain the bile rising in my throat.  Through the synchs a person that I keep intending to delete from my contacts keeps getting stuck and I have to cancel her contact from the synch.  I keep swearing that if I have to do this one more time, I will delete her from Outlook to save an extra milisecond on the next synch (that's the one right before I throw my treo in the trash.

Ah HA!

This time I notice that if I hit a letter on my phone it jumps me to names that begin with that letter.  My contacts weren't deleted after all (or not entirely).  It just added a few hundred new contacts with no names and only email addresses.

I go back into Outlook and what do you know.  Freakin Outlook has a bunch of email addresses in my contacts now and no names.  I didn't put them there.  No idea how they got there.  Stupid Outlook!

So how do I get the data garbage off my phone?

I sort it by name, and the select all the items that have no name.  I select cut and then paste them into a new contacts folder.  (I had checked a sample of them to see if there were any duplicates and I didn't see any.)

I then repeat this with a couple of categories of numbers that I don't want on my phone either.

I synch 2 more times for good measure and my contact list is back.  (Or so I tell myself, I'm positive that I lost a few numbers in all those synchronizations.  Outlook, Palm, Audible they all suck!)

Now I remember that Audible got me in this mess, so I start it back up again and attempt to Associate or claim or do whatever ritual I'm supposed to do with MY device for their stupid software.(I always put my books on a flash card anyway, wish I could just copy it to the card direct and then play it on my Treo but that would be too easy!)

I connect it and go throught the steps.  It tells me 4 times in a row that the device isn't connected, then it say it is but the activation fails.  I try again it loses the connection.  Try again it says it can't connect to the internet!

I try again, because I'm on the internet typing this message!

This time the screen just disappears and I assume that I am activated, so I start prying the nails out of my fingers and toes.

I glance down at my phone a minute later and see a message stating that its 'activate' would have been nice if they had mentioned that in the interface they were forcing me to work in!

So I start to download the book that I purchased from the 'Undead' series by Mary Janice Davidson series.  They are funny books with too much sex, but they are funny and I like sex.

So my book is downloading, I'm out of soda, so I'm going to post this and get a coke while the book finishes its download.  Then I can get to work while I read a book, which was my goal from jump.

For anyone that cares:

  • I'm running Palm 4.2 (now)
  • Audible manager 5 I think
  • Outlook 2003
  • XP Media center
  • An Imaginary nail gun
  • Treo 600

MasterSeek Global

Masterseek is a global profiling and business directory covering millions of businesses around the world.  Their company profiles cover businesses in the United States and Europe and Asia and many more areas.  There are multiple levels at which you can view these profiles, and masters he provides options for upgrading through their service or through other profile services on the Internet.  It's always good to have multiple ways to research a company and masterseek provides additional ways to gather information and intelligence on companies.

QuickBase Deep Dive

This week I've become a deep dive review into the online database service from Intuit called QuickBase. I wrote a couple reviews about QuickBase a couple weeks ago along with the free 30 day trial that they offer. QuickBase is not just a database program it's also a project management and CRM tool all rolled into one big online system.

It can even be used as an ERP system. In some regards its similar to Salesforce.com except it also provides people with many or capabilities than just performing CRM functions.

Looking for 290 million Americans?

Many of us do not want to be on a vast database compillation of mailing lists, especially when we are walking to the mail box.  However, dircect mail is still an effective way of getting your message out in direct advertising.

Martin Worldwide provides Mailing Lists with a mega database of over 290 million people living in the US.  They recently provided a release about their database ResponsCom a collection of buying behaviors and information for millions of people.  It does many business very little good to have an unqualified list of names and addresses, however with the right qualifying information a direct mailing campaign can be much more effective and for the person receiving the mail, it can useful as opposed to annoying.

Great Review by Kat Wins the Prize

Last Month Kat a great blogger from  My Single Mom Life provided a couple great reviews on her experience with two different web hosts.

She wrote a couple very good reviews about her hosting service experience and we published them at top-5-Hosting.com.  One of those very unique and she was talking about her hosting service in Hong Kong.

I'd encourage you to check out Kat's review and also her blog at  My Single Mom Life, she does a great job!


Note. You can submit reviews about your host, your good experiences and your bad experiences for paid and free hosts and we'll publish them at Top-5-Hosting.com.

Send your reviews to stories@top-5-hosting.com

Telecommutting from a Boat This summer

This summer I plan on taking some of my mobile work to a new level. I've been telecommuting for years and working full-time at my home office for the last year and a half. This summer I'm moving to a Lake in North Carolina. Initially while we are waiting to move into our home we are going to stay with some family members in a rather small home when you consider the total number of people that are going to be living there. However it is on the lake and there's plenty of boats. So I'm going to do a little boating with my laptop.

To get some peace and quiet, I am going to take the boat out on the lake, hook up a cellular card in my laptop and telecommute from the middle of the lake! I will also try and find one of those laptop coolers, the type that you set a laptop on to keep it cool. Plus, I will take one of those igloo coolers, the type that keep my beer cool, and I am going to see how productive I can be. ;)


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