Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Rice for the poor this holiday season

I came across this website/vocab game called FreeRice.com. The concept is pretty neat. You play an online game, get subjected to some advertisements, but instead of someone making money off of you, they buy rice with the profits.

So you get to increase your english vocabulary, and help feed the world... Seems like a better concept than most online games these days... I wonder if anyone is starting to play this on their Nintendo WII's web browsers? Sony Playstation 3's are already starting to work on curing diseases when they are not being used.....

See mom? not all games are about blowing things up....

Monday, December 10, 2007

Enough fun and games, lets get down to business.

I previously briefly wrote about the OpenSocial platform which is still in it's infancy, and while some developers have been hesitant to jump onto this bandwagon, here comes a whole herd of developers and business minds alike.

LinkedIn is taking it to the next level, allowing applications to be driven and directly tapped into folks business/professional networks. Initially, only Google's own Orkut allowed applications to be developed. Within the US, this didn't mean much as Orkut is not one of the current top social networks by any stretch. I expect LinkedIn's wave to be much larger, and hit home with a lot of the tech/business minds... So, with your network of professional contacts, how would you like to tap into the power of that network to provide more value?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Location Based Services

Here we are on earth: we live, work, travel where we choose. You are right here, right now, and maybe at this moment you need something or someone to help you accomplish what you are trying to do. You rub your magic lamp, out pops a genie, and grants you your wish.

Your lamp: it is actually your cellphone or computer...
Your genie: most likely works for Google, but possibly Yahoo, Microsoft? Altavista?? AskJeeves???
Your wish: if you are lucky is the top result of your search query....

Location Based Services, is a concept of providing you with relevant information based on where you currently are. Google recently released a beta update to their mobile Google Maps application which triangulates your approximate location using cell-phone tower information. Based on that information, you can easily imagine where they could be heading with this... Looking for the closest gas station? T-stop? Pizza shop? Done. Take it one more level further, the closest/cheapest gas-station, the train station with an incoming train any minute, the best slice of pizza around... This is where we are heading, and we will get there quicker than you can imagine...

The problems won't be technical, but more security and ethical in nature....

Saturday, November 03, 2007

open social, developers love reusability.

Not so long ago, Facebook released a public API and developers went crazy, marketers drooled, anyone with any interest in reaching the youth demographic started to rethink about how they can bring their products through this channel. A new type of web application was now available, a plugin to your existing Facebook account.
The problem?
Facebook controls the language, their own proprietary/new syntax FBML, they tended to break deployed code with their security/feature improvements, they control which applications users can browse and see/add. Worst of all, your 'Facebook applications' code could not be re-used easily.

Open social, Google and the rest of the gang answer... Trys to learn from some of Facebooks lessons.. and of course, one up them whenvever possible. Its still a plugin model, but if you know HTML/Javascript, you know how it works out of the box. You want to deploy the same application on multiple social networks? Ok. You want to maintain one set of code for your application? Who doesn't. Time will tell where open social goes -- but my guess would be further than FB's API.... And if Microsoft didn't now have a stake of Facebook, FB would maybe consider supporting it sooner.

Developers buy some coffee beans and grab a few cases of your favorite caffeinated soda -- It's going to be a wild next few months.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bostons Best

This post will be about Boston, and why I love my home city. Typing on my cellphone wont cut it, so for now i leave you with a picture of the eve!

Update: (Few months later...)
Well, it's a bit colder now... but being an avid snowboarding fiend sort of makes this cold weather make me feel like I am in my element.. Well I was born up in Maine. Boston in the winter is cold, you dress for it, and just deal with it -- The train gets you into the city quickly, I can hop out on the commuter rail to enjoy a nice evening at the beach in Gloucester... or if I'm working late, just hop over a few stops within Boston. Driving in, I guess is a different story... I've done it once, and that was enough to not do it again... On the train, the time is yours to read, think, write, or just zone out to some of your favorite music. Not to mention the environmental impact and cost of commuting by car.... Once you are in town, getting around is quick. Being frugal, Taxi/Limo are not usually the norm. Walking preferred, but sometimes wind up using my monthly T pass to get around a bit further quickly... Coffee, get your fresh beans at your favorite shop. Restaurants, I have a good one for each day of the week, or even month to try out... I bring in left-overs whenever possible, but it allows for the occasional lunchtime splurge (hey, after-all mantinee 's are cheaper than primetime). Fridays vegetable market deals, Northends Ernesto pizza, Chinatown's Pho Pasteur's noodle soup, West Ends Vivo Burritos, Downtowns Al's subs, Artu's of Charles St's prosciutto mozzarella, Scollay's squares Beacon Hill elegance -- Ok, I guess I can go on about food for a while... Amante amare, no?

I think I save the rest of the city's great characteristics for a future post, I'm now feeling pretty hungry...

Friday, October 19, 2007


GSM unlocked and unbranded

Luckily, T-mobile gave me the unlock code to my first GSM phone. I had to enter a special code that they emailed me, and enter a password and that was it. T-Mobile I think is one of the few carriers in the US that allows this(They want you to use your T-Mobile phone overseas too on their networks there). My t68i was a great phone, but it actually lacked one of the frequencies used by North America, especially in rural areas.. Worked fine in the city... I also am a Cingular, Pay as you go customer... I just need to pop a different SIM card in, and I'm on Cingulars network. I have found this handy in a few dead spots up in the mountains.

My k790a unlocking was a bit trickier. I really got hooked on Sony Ericsson's phones, they are loaded with really useful features.. This one has a 3 megapixel camera and loads of other features. One problem, this phone was only available in Canada, and it was locked to a canadian carrier. So I bought it off ebay, locked, it was a few hundred dollars cheaper than the unlocked version.

Then the fun begins, I still had my t68i but one of the buttons started to act up.. I got a new Blackberry Pearl from T-mobile, wait a few weeks and unlock it, sell it on Ebay brand new, and it all comes out in the wash as an upgrade to the phone I actually wanted, not the one the carrier is pushing to sell.

Unlocking the k790a took a bit of research... If you are not technical, have one of your tech friends do it or visit any non-carrier gsm reseller and pay a guy to do it. The phone came with a USB cable, so that was key, I knew I could somehow use my computer to unlock it. I used Davinci Teams software to unlock it, and Mobile2Mobile.net's software to unbrand it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Radiohead's - In Rainbows released.

As I download Radiohead's new album directly from their website at 335kb/second, I also write this post to promote their new album. This album isn't chopped up for sale for 1$ per song, this album isn't at the store for 20$ for the CD. This album is available online for the price of **.**.

One more time, **.**. That means, you determine the price. I bought the downloadable album for .01 pounds(they are a UK band) to try before buy, and of course if you use credit card, Visa want's their 'processing fee' of .45 pounds. So the whole digital album cost me about US 1$ dollar. I heard a lot of these songs back in June when they were on tour, but I wanted to download and hear the studio quality versions before splurging for the more expensive 3fer Downloads + CD + Vinyl set packaged together. There is no record industry middleman in this transaction, Band -> Fan, so my words of wisdom, buy a few sets and save them as a piece of history as one of the first albums to take the recording industry out of the picture, completely.. and deliver their music to fans to decide the true worth of the music.

Oh, my downloads done... time to check it out.

After listening to the album about 5 times, it's definately a Radiohead classic that gets better with each listen. That infectious electric keyboard, and his unique voice that just grows on you like it did for classics like 'Karma Police' and 'Creep'. I like it better than Kid A, and I liked that album too. I'm throwing the commererative discbox (Record+CD) onto the wishlist....

Monday, October 01, 2007

got mail?

Remember back before the days of email, how in the morning you'd send out maybe a letter or a bill and raise the flag on the side of your mailbox? Then on your way home, you would check the box, grab anything inside and take it home to sort and read. Send in the morning, receive/respond in the evening...

2007, and email (electronic mail) has become such a part of our lives that we wonder how we may have gotten along without it. Then again, we probably used that novel invention the telephone a lot more frequently... But that point aside, I am planning to revert back towards the days of old, and send a few personal messages in the morning and once again read/send a few in the evening... What does this mean if you want an immediate quick response from me? You may just have to call or txt me. The major motivation for this? I want to figure out the best mix of frequency and amount of time spent communicating through email, and I'll start by minimizing it to just twice a day... Lets see how long it lasts, maybe I'll check my email just one more time before I post this!

Monday, September 10, 2007


10$ for fruits and vegs goes a long way here!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Early Adoption of beta software

Are you an early adopter? Do you like to beta test software before it is available to the general public? Do you have some accounts with beta software companies, with some invites to spare?

Well this new site, InviteShare is designed to help you put those spare invites to good use, and in return, get access to some of those beta sites that you don't have access to...

I sent a few GrandCentral invites, and in exchange I got an account with Joost!
I recommend using a spare email address though, even though they do take some measures to make sure your email address won't be harvested by spammers, it is always good to use your spam/spare email address for things like this....

Monday, August 13, 2007

Family vaca 07

Flickr album of photos

Folly beach near Charleston, South Carolina was very nice, and we enjoyed our time with the Platings over at Lake Hartwell, in northern Georgia.

Call Me

Go ahead and click on the Call Me button. Enter your name/number and give it a shot.

GrandCentral will call your phone and connect you to me for free. If I can't get to you right away, please leave a message and i'll call you back.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


A quick job took a few days, rust thwarted Bram and I more than once... Brakes and rotors are looking good now on the Pathfinder.

=alias i-names and your digital identity

A few weeks back, I changed a few minor things on this site. You may have noticed =Amante across the top and around my blog, and wondered whats up with that equal sign in front of your name?

Well, that equal symbol followed by my nickname(lastname) is my registered 'i-name'. Whats an i-name? is it anything like a domain name or email address? I guess the best way to describe it is my 'universal login', the only problem is the universe hasn't fully adopted the standard yet. Someday it may be possible to use my =Amante i-name as a login at many different sites, like Yahoo Mail, Google Calendar, Ebay, commenting on blogs, or even my online banking account. The great part is, when I change my password for my i-name, I do it once and can still use all those web services with my new password. Over the years you may have heard about single-signon and identity management solutions, well to date, the i-name is one of the keys which may actually make this work in the future. People can contact you through your i-name http://xri.net/=amante/, but it is difficult to send SPAM, as you need to be authorized with either an i-name or through an email-confirm-click verification process. People may also be able to locate your website, blog ie: http://xri.net/=amante/(+blog), or resumehttp://xri.net/=amante/(+resume), or any other web-link you wish to provide by knowing your i-name as well.

So, in short, if you want to be a prospector and reserve your i-name now, go ahead and do so over at 2idi.com for example... but if you just want to get a feel for what it is all about, go ahead over to freexri.com and get yourself a free name within their community namespaces.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

White mountains

We camped over at Russell Pond off of Tripoli Road near Lincoln, NH. On Saturday we did a 5 mile hike, up Coppermine trail on the back-side of Cannon mountain. It was a nice hike alongside a stream most of the way, and at the top were the Bridal Veil water falls and rock-slides. A great first hike of the season, wish the weather was a little bit nicer, but we had a great day anyways...

Looking forward to a few more trips this summer!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th

Great views from a balcony near the prudential tower!
Day 1 of my 5 day weekend!!

Monday, July 02, 2007


What I like about the i-phone, is what I like about Apple. They don't make the best products always, but they encourage the whole market to look at them for a minute, before they going back to creating their competing products....

Take i-tunes/ipod for example, mp3's were out for a long time before itunes/ipods came along... But back in they day, turning a CD into mp3 tracks was something that took the average computer most of a night to do... making playlists and setting up your mp3 player for a listen, took some advanced planning before you could enjoy... Then along comes the ipod, plug it in, and you have your music... (ok, almost that easy) But it encouraged the masses to move their audio from their cd-racks to digital files and competing companies to pay attention to the things they did right.

The i-phone is OK. But of course their model that worked for i-pod already may work again, incrementally make updates and people will buy the next new one when they are ready. If i-phone packed in all the features that they could have today, why would anyone upgrade next year? What i-phone points out to the masses is two things, data services are prime time with phones.. You no longer need to be tied in any way to your desk, home, or laptop to get the information you want. And secondly, multi-function devices that the whole world can use are here to stay. I'm talking about your device, which connects you to your people & calendar/music/photos/work... and that the rest of the world can use, thats right, they built it on GSM standards so you can travel from country to country and switch from carrier to carrier with the flick of a SIM card.. Sorry Verizon/Sprint, join the rest, stop being stubborn.

Honestly, my Sony Ericsson k790a is much nicer than current i-phone releases... but i'll save that discussion for another time.

Monday, June 18, 2007


5 pounder from Steve Connolly's!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Garden planted!

Looking forward to late summer veggies!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mothers Day

Well, mom, as the first person to usually read my blog you probably have some time to have me remove anything you don't want posted forever...

This year we had a nice sunny May day, nothing like the flood-waters and downpours of last years weather... Unfortunately with my final presentation/project for my ASP.NET 2.0 class due tomorrow, I wasn't able to spend a whole lot of the day with the fam, but we still got in a brief trip to the beach and had dinner together...

My mom absolutely loves it when all her kids are in the same room, car, house or really anywhere.. I think if she had a big enough nest she would sit on top of us all and keep us warm. She's done a pretty fine job raising us, along with dad's help of course.. They both played very good role models for me growing up, and I think we all turned out thoughtful, caring, honest and with good heads on our shoulders...

Thanks mom for all your time and work, I owe a lot to you.
Love you!!


Friday, May 11, 2007

Big dig

There used to be an ugly green freeway here. As a kid I remember family trips to Boston's northend, parking the car here beneath the highway...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lunch on the harba

May is here, time to start enjoying lunch outside more often!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Geotag your Photos, Youtube videos and more!

Check this out, mountains where I've ski'd or snowboarded over the last few years... Viewable in Google Maps or if you have Google Earth you can check it out using that by downloading this KML file and opening it up(right click, save as.... IE saves it as an XML file so you may have to rename the file extension to .KML).

I added some YouTube clips to some locations, and some photo's to some others... It's a pretty nice way to document your trips.. The easiest way to create these files is with Google Maps - My Maps feature, which just requires a Google account to use.. The other way is through Google Earth, and even another way to do this is with a GPS device and some software --

I've been working with the Google Map API a lot recently, and you can now also use these files with KML/GeoRSS Overlays

Monday, April 16, 2007

What is my ip address? And why would I care?

Some of you may know what an IP address is, and some may not have any idea... or care. But after enough friends have asked me about it, I figured it's time to write something up on the subject. It stands for Internet Protocol address, and if you prefer to read the wiki article, go for it...

Before I explain it, I'll offer some reasons as why you would want to know about it.
-Do you ever wish you could get to your home computer's desktop when you are not at home?
-Do you ever wish you could get to some files on your computer at home?
-Do you want to setup your own web-server, file-server, internet-radio station, email-server or game-server?
-Have you ever tried to do something like play a video-game, send a file over instant messenger, or used a p2p file sharing application and have gotten an error message saying your firewall has blocked you?

My way of explaining it to people best is, it is like your 'phone-number' for your computer using the internet. Although you may rarely care which number you are 'called or make calls with' , behind the scenes your ISP is using it to let you use their services... It is pretty easy to figure out your external IP address on the internet, www.whatismyip.com is one of my quick ways to identify it. If you hooked your computer directly up to the Cable/DSL modem this would truly be your IP.

Now for the tricky part, home routers, wireless access points, and hardware firewalls.... Your home access point is the device that is directly connected to your Cable/DSL modem and it gets your external IP assigned to it. Every computer/laptop that connects to your access point gets a different 'phone number extension'.. To make things confusing, this extension is usually an internal IP address... but the good news is they are in a range specifically designed for home/private use, 192.168.x.x being the most popular range for home use..

So great, my router has an external IP address, for example: it also has an internal IP address, for example, and my computer plugged into my wireless router has an IP address too, given to me by my router.

Ok I get it.
What about Port Forwarding? What if my external IP address from my ISP changes? What if my internal IP address from my wireless router changes?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

ASP.NET 2.0 - Sending Email with your application

This is a very simplistic example of how to send an email within your ASP.NET 2.0 application. This example uses Google's gmail service, although it should work with any SMTP email server as long as you have the correct server settings (Host, Port, SSL) Good luck with your application!

public bool SendEmail(string strTo, string strSubject, string strBody)
bool bReturn=false;

System.Net.Mail.MailMessage mail = new System.Net.Mail.MailMessage();
System.Net.Mail.SmtpClient smtp = new System.Net.Mail.SmtpClient();

mail.From = new MailAddress("sender@gmail.com", "Senders Name");
mail.ReplyTo = new MailAddress("sender@gmail.com"); // optional
mail.Subject = strSubject;
mail.Body = strBody;
mail.IsBodyHtml = true;

smtp.Host = "smtp.gmail.com";
smtp.Port = 25;
smtp.EnableSsl = true;
smtp.Credentials = new System.Net.NetworkCredential("sender@gmail.com", "password");

bReturn = true;
return bReturn;

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wireless Photo Printing with Kodak Kiosk and Sony Ericsson k790a

So I walk into CVS yesterday with Melissa.. She had a few things to get, and I didn't really need anything. I walked up to a Kodak Kiosk and notice a Bluetooth icon on the machine.. and think, cool...

So I hit a few buttons on the screen, select a picture out of my phone, and beam it over to the machine.. I make a few 29 cent prints, and am on my way...

Good stuff! Nice work Kodak and Sony Ericsson for making it that easy....

Heres the picture of Nibbles I printed!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Power Use - Advanced features of k790a

After playing around with my new phone for a few weeks, I've explored some of the advanced features of the phone.

Java Applications
Google Maps(traffic updates!!)
Salling Clicker - Use your cellphone as a remote control for iTunes, PowerPoint, etc.
MFRadio - Wirelessly stream music from my collection at home
vNes Nintendo Emulator - Playing classic Mario and Zelda is great!
Opera Mini browser!

Calendar Sync - SyncML
Using GooSync's free service to sync my Google Calendars with my phones Calendar automatically.

Rss News Reader
Gloucester daily times, Google News, Weather and Forecast
Animated Radar images

A2DP - Wireless tunes! You can now have headphones with no wires, no cables between your home stereo and your tunes...
Modem - Using my laptop to surf the internet is always easier than viewing on a small screen, and typing on a small keyboard.. EDGE Is a bit slow(20-50k/s), but still usable in a pinch. And a data plan for 6$ per month fits the bill. Thanks for the setup scripts Ross Barkman.
File Transfer - A breeze with OS X, just drag and drop the files to/from the mounted drives.. Adding mp3 ringtones, wallpapers, taking pictures/videos off of the camera is a breeze..

Sunday, March 04, 2007

cell phones - New phone! K790a

So back in the day(2005), I wasn't able to take a picture with my phone. I wasn't able to instantly upload it to my blog. I didn't always carry around a 3-megapixel camera.

This photo was uploaded directly from my phone to the web, know what that means? You'll probably start seeing less text and more pictures! I'll try to add text and stories after the fact, cause you know how much fun it is to T9 or type text message style --

Check out technical specs...

This post, really one up's my first mobile blog-post... I guess my ole t68i can now retire after 4 great years of usage...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Subject: Email pet peeves

I think my number one pet peeve with email is the subject line... when the subject line has nothing to do with the message or reply below or is missing entirely... I understand sometimes a thread changes over time, but when digging(searching/sorting) through email months/years later, you really appreciate accurate subject lines....

So pretty please, with sugar on top, clean up your subject lines...
no subject is better than an off-base one...

What do you dislike about emails?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Colorado Trip

Back from Colorado!!

Vail, A-basin, and Breckenridge were my favorite mountains we went to, but they were all great. We had mostly perfect blue-sky days with temperatures perfect for being outdoors in January... Wish we got a bit more snow while I was out there, maybe next time if we are lucky!

I have a photo album on Flickr, let me know if you'd like to see some more shots from our trip!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Linux on PSP

Here's a post about my friend Chris' latest project, I tried posting it to Slashdot to help him get some other developers to help him with the project --

Check out:

uClinux ported to Playstation Portable (PSP)

Maybe it's to prove a point that some variant of Linux can run on any digi device....
Maybe he didn't want to play games on his PSP, but instead take it apart..
Maybe he wanted to bite down on a kernel without cracking his teeth at the movies...

Well anyways, that crazy mofo named chris is at it again, this time booting his PSP device up with uClinux.. Sure if you want wifi, video, or keypad input you'll have to write the drivers... don't even think about fireing up Mame and launching your fav old skool game yet... as this project needs some basic drivers first... but writing device drivers for your fav unsupported hardware/software hasn't stopped you in the past, has it?"

Thursday, January 04, 2007

GIS - a hobby or career?

GIS - Geographic Information Systems is an emerging field which I have taken interest to, spawned by great applications such as Google Earth and Google Maps, there have also been sites of value such as HousingMaps.com, CheapGas.com, Zillow.com all which present valuable data to you based upon what you are looking for overlayed onto a geographic map. Flickr now also allows you to tag where a picture was shot --

I've been thinking about taking a few courses in GIS to become more familiar with the field and concepts used in developing GIS solutions.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Years resolutions


With many hobbies and talents, life is a challenging balancing act of when and where to do the things that I want to do. This year, I want to focus my efforts more.. Instead of working on too many things, to work on only a few and see them to completion or the next milestone before focusing my efforts on something new.

-Challenge myself

The world is as easy or as hard as you make it... I want to be challenged. I want my work to be meaningful and valueable. I want to be busy, but not with busy work. Think of and develop solutions that work. I want to continously learn, be it at work, at school, at home or outside travelling the world.

-Minimize environmental impact:

The population rate of humans alone will inenvitably cause the consumption of finite resources of our planet to become extinct. There should be two bins in your house that go out on your street each week, trash, or things that disintegrate naturally and everything else which should be recycled... If your town doesn't recycle, someone has to start it. If your town doesn't recycle plastic #10, ask them why not..
Use less energy, or put the energy you use into the grid cleanly.