Tag Archives: Skype

MSN Messenger to end after 15 years

Here is the BBC Obit

MSN Messenger was a hard-working internet visionary which taught a generation to touch-type and lol, writes BBC technology reporter Dave Lee.

It touched the lives of millions of teenagers who, in an age before real social networking, were just getting accustomed to what it was like to live on the internet.

MSN Messenger heralded a new era: a time when chatting up a classmate no longer meant the terrifying prospect of actually having to say something to them.

It meant no longer would young teens have to endure the torture of ringing the landline number of their newest crush – knowing there was a high probability that dad would pick up.

But after all the “ASL?”s and “u there?”s, Messenger’s loyal subjects became less dependent. “I’ll brb”, people said… but they never did.

Other sites, smarter and better looking, would see Messenger cast aside. In an age of exciting digital discovery, Messenger became the web’s wooden toy.

After a long career, it spent its final year enjoying a comfortable retirement in China. Its less well-regarded relative, Windows Messenger, still battles on on work computers the world over.

“It’s like MSN,” office workers say, “…just not as fun.”

MSN Messenger is survived by Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Snapchat, Skype, Google+ and Instagram.

Monday Morning

Here is a summary of my weekend

  • Finished The Patrol by Ryan Flavelle by which is about a seven day patrol by Canadian troops in Afghanistan.  Recommended.
  • Came into work on Sunday and prepped for a meeting that I having this morning.
  • Had coffee with the Siebert’s which is always a good time.  I was also introduced to Ubuntu which is fast even on a P4.  It runs Libre Office, Skype, has five gigs of backup space, and handles email and the web just fine (Chrome and Firefox).  I could see The Lighthouse using it for both residential and office computers.  Oh yeah, Jared told me it installed in ten minutes which is 47 hours and 50 minutes faster than a Vista or XP install is taking me.
  • Finished watching Generation Kill.  It’s not as good as The Wire (few shows are) but it is amazing in it’s own way.  I really enjoyed both the book by Evan Wright and the show which was done by David Simon and Ed Burns.

Can a responsible adult please take over RIM

Company says it is taking a $485 million charge because they are selling the Blackberry Playbook at around $200.  The good news is that they are actually selling.  The bad news is that they are sold about about a $150-$200 loss per unit.

A $485 million writedown for the discounting, along with costs related to a worldwide shutdown of BlackBerry service in October, caused RIM to warn that third-quarter revenue would be “slightly lower” than the $5.3 billion to $5.6 billion it had previously forecast.

In a statement, the company also said that it did not expect to meet its earnings target for the year. RIM will announce official results for the third quarter on Dec. 15.

RIM has repeatedly struggled to meet targets this year as it worked to stem a loss of market share for BlackBerry phones in North America. Friday’s restatement sent RIM’s shares down by $1.81, or 10 percent, to $16.77 a share, on Nasdaq.

Its stock is down 76 percent from the 2011 high of $69.86 posted on Feb. 18.

The base model Playbook, once priced at $500, is now being offered for $200. Tavis McCourt, an analyst with Morgan Keegan in Nashville, estimated that the tablets cost RIM $350 to $400 to manufacture.

I heard on the radio today that the per unit cost is around $265 and this site says that they only cost $205 to manufacture if you marketing and research and development costs are not included.  It was odd to look back and read that RIM was going to ship this and that within 60 days of it’s launch and nothing has shipped yet.  It’s what stopped me from purchasing a Playbook a couple of months ago.  The other thing that has to hurt is when you see the Acer Iconia and the Motorola Xoom running Android which actually include Skype, IM, and email.

RIM has consistently overpromised and under delivered which is one of the reasons I traded in my Blackberry for something else, I lost confidence in the company.

Projects: About.Me

A lot of you know that I am a big fan of About.MeWendy, Mark, and even Oliver has a profile on it and every night I need to show Oliver his site after he asks for “Oli-er’s web page”.  Each page took under 5 minutes to create and I was suprised to find how useful mine has become, even after having jordoncooper.com online for over a decade now.

One of the things I have learned about homelessness is how disconnected our residents become from the rest of the world.  Some of the staff who are reading this have worked Christmases at the Centre and at Mumford House and know how few phone calls come in for the guys who call this place home during the holidays.  It puts a damper on a normally joyous day for a lot of them.

When I saw About.me, I realized this was a perfect for the clients to reconnect and be found.  To make it happen, I needed a couple of things. 

  1. Webcam shot of Jordon Cooper at work A computer: Nathan, our IT guru got me a couple of Pentium 4’s running Windows XP.  Not exactly cutting edge but cheap and they work well.  My boss Captain Rhonda and the other managers authorized me spending some money on new monitors.  We put the larger 19 inch monitors on some desktops and took their 17 inch monitors for the workstation.  Some keyboards, new mice and I was almost set.  Toss in a USB stick, a $10 webcam that takes photos and 640×480 video for Skype, a microphone, and some speakers and we are good to go.
  2. XS Cargo has $20 computer carts with wheels.  Since we don’t have the space for a permanent computer lab, portability is the key.  Now the cart took me 3 long hours to assemble so there was some labour costs but I finally got it set up.
  3. Software: Ninite.com provided everything I needed.  Firefox, Chrome, AVG, Open Office, Gimp, and Picassa.  I know there are some commercial programs that would be useful but for the most part, this works for us.
  4. A camera.  XS Cargo has some 10 megapixels point and shoots for sale we use for intake.  We will use it for a while but I want to find something cheaper and simpler like this Vivitar.  In addition to taking some photos for profile photos for About.me, I’ll use it to teach some digital photography.

So what does it accomplish?  Well for guys who are looking for work, the workstation will provide them a chance to create or redo a professional looking resume for submission online or in print.  It also also allows them to link to a space online, whether that be LinkedIn, About.me or another site so that employers can find and contact them.  It also gives them some control over their Google rankings.  For guys in the half-way house, a Google search for them may be damaging (and ignore the reality of rehabilitation), for others, they may never have been online at all and this lets them create and tell their story.

For others it allows people to find them.  The front desk at the Centre gets a lot of phone calls from RCMP and police departments across the country looking for guys.  A lot of them are here, they aren’t missing in the traditional sense but the family has lost contact.  A couple of weekends ago I was asking guys what they wanted to see here and a couple of them said, “Skype”.  Well Skype it is.

I need a couple of things.  I am going to see if I can find some headset/microphones for guys talking online and I probably should put some games on the computer.  I’ll check out the freeware game sites.  I also need to create a start page with links to Gmail, Hotmail, The StarPhoenix, Kijiji, and SaskJobs but I’ll do that this weekend.

I have never been a big believer of those that say that technology is the answer as often times it is a scapegoat for not taking personal action, in this case technology isn’t the answer but is a conduit for men and women who are ready to start connecting to their community and family again.  I’m excited by the workstations and tools like About.me.

Remembering a simpler time

I am getting stuff ready for a quick trip to Chicago in eleven days and am getting all of the stuff ready that make the trip easy.  Over the years I have become a lot better packing my carry on which makes a big difference but here is what I carry on trips now.

In my carry-on (a Swiss Army messenger/laptop bag)

  • iPod Touch loaded with music and a couple of podcasts :: I also have LED Football and Air Hockey installed on it.  The Air Hockey is for Mark and I while we are waiting but it has a one person game as well. I just sits in my shirt pocket and doesn’t actually make it’s way into the carry on.
  • PSP with three or four games ::  I’ll bring Ghost Recon 2, Madden 07, and Medal of Honor Heroes 2 along.  The memory card is full of YouTube videos that Mark helps pick out.  Mostly videos from TED.   I just hope that the cluster bomb guy doesn’t sit beside me. 
  • Noise canceling headphones ::  Wendy bought a cheap pair for me a couple of years ago and they work amazing while flying.  It makes flying a calming and relaxing experience no matter where I am on the plane.  Best $30 that we have ever spent.  Since I am on a plane, I fit in rather than look like a geek.  Thanks for Bose for making me look cool while flying even if I am using cheap knock offs.
  • A magazine or a book ::  I generally bring a sports magazine and a book of history along on a trip.  I am one that enjoys the Airline magazines as well. 
  • My Fujifilm J10 camera ::  I enjoy airport photography, what can I say?
  • My Dell laptop (power supply goes in the checked luggage) ::  I don’t actually pull it out but I hate to check it after seeing luggage dropped off carts, off loading belts, and run over by trucks on the tarmac.  My body frame, economy seats, laptops, and trays do not go together well.
  • 1 litre of Aquafina water ::  I used to drink coffee while flying which used to dehydrate me even more.  Now it is just water.
  • Business cards ::  In case the person beside me is interesting enough to chat with again, it’s always good to have some cards in the case. Of course the best flights are when no one is beside me and I can stretch out.  The second best flights are when they don’t want to talk to me either.
  • Passport :: I had this around the neck thing for when I went to Bahamas but it was awfully uncomfortable.  I’ll keep it secure in my carry-on this time.
  • A pen and small journal :: You have no idea how many times I have flown into Canada or the U.S. without a pen to fill out customs declarations.  If I keep it up, I may be put on the secretive “Annoying to Fly With List”.

In my checked luggage

  • My Skullcandy headphones
  • Webcam and mic for Skype ::  While Oliver won’t care that much, Mark loves to e-mail and chat via Skype when I am gone.
  • Small tripod ::  I won’t have a lot of free time in Chicago and if I get out, it would be at night so I figure that I would take a small tripod along and take some night shots of the Windy City.
  • Black and Decker Power Boost ::  It’s a battery for USB powered devices.  I saw it a while ago in XS Cargo and it was cheap enough to pick up even if it was junk.  It was originally bought to recharge iPods at the cabin (as it works like a powered USB hub) but is great to keep me going if we miss a flight or are delayed and I can find a WiFi connection.
  • MoviePix HD
  • Extra batteries and SD cards
  • My business card case with about 50 cards in it.

If I am lucky, I will have enough room for my clothes.  What do you take a long with you on trips?

My Gadgets

I was called a bit of a hypocrite for my last post because of my own perceived technology usage.  I assume that some think I have a disposable collection of iPhones but in reality I am a bit of a luddite.  Here is my list.

  • Samsung flip phone| 3 years old and is a pay as you go phone from SaskTel.  You can call me on it but unless I am travelling or am call for something, I won’t answer.  It probably won’t even be on.
  • Moleskine| Darryl Dash got me to switch from my obsolete Sony Clie a couple of years ago.  I go through one every year or so.  I don’t know if you can call paper and a pen technology but I carry one with me lots.
  • I have use a larger hard cover book that my friend Darren Friesen talked me into using.  Instead of keeping files, I date pages, write notes, and make them into action items if needed later.  I file them and the moleskine as an archive of my thoughts when they are done.
  • Sony PSP| Lee game me one for Christmas.  I do have a half dozen games for it, the game I enjoy the most is baseball.  The main use for it is watching downloaded videos from YouTube and Google Video at the lake.  It’s also cool in that I bring it on the road and with Skype installed, it is a cheap way to call home.
  • iPod Nano(four gig) | This is my favorite possession and I use it quite a bit at work, home, and at the lake.  I have a couple of cheap speakers I plug it into at the office and hit shuffle.  For Father’s Day Wendy and Mark gave me some speakers that we use at the cabin in place of having a stereo there and moving CD’s back and forth.   I also use it to listen to a couple of podcasts a week (Nick and Josh, Meet the Press, CBC Sask and CBC Ideas).  It integrates in with last.fm and it allows you to see what I have been listening to on the sidebar.
  • I have an old Dell D600 notebook.  I got it cheap and it runs Windows XP pretty well.  Sub notebooks are still a vice of mine.  If I need a 19 inch screen, I’ll buy a desktop.

It is a pretty boring list and is a long way from where I used to be.  (Remember the Timex Ironman PDA?)   I am not sure what changed but the technolust that I used to have isn’t there anymore.  I am not saying that gadgets are bad but they don’t mean nearly as much to me as they used to.   Looking through the archives of this site are embarrassing for me.  The sad thing is that I used to think they were the key to the future of the church in North America (high end media system, 3D animations, webcasting, streaming interactive sermons…)  While I still use a lot of technology and I like to think I still understand technology, I am far more selective in what I am using.  Eugene Peterson reminded me in The Jesus Way that uncritical adoption of technology is not a good way to live life.  I think this can be demonstrated by almost every Blackberry user that I have ever seen or some of my friends on Facebook who are shocked that when they post photos of themselves at their friends stag cause people to gossip about them at work.  I don’t think I have it right by any means but the above list has been agonized over.  Even if it does mean I am a Luddite.