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My Email Buddy - Worst Gadget of CES09

My Email Buddy And the winner of Worst Gadget of CES 2009 goes to My Email Buddy. This device connects to your computer via USB and notifies you with lights, sounds, and a spinning postman when new email arrives. You can configure My Email Buddy for one or several email accounts. Why am I rating this worst gadget of CES09? Because it is probably the biggest productivity killer I've seen in a long time. All of the gurus who help people get focused on being more productive recommend turning off email notifications as one of the first steps to eliminating distraction in the workplace. My Email Buddy does the exact opposite, drawing massive attention to each new message. The only thing missing is something to drop confetti from the ceiling (maybe next year?).

If you really want to know more, check out the My Email Buddy website.

The NewerTech Voyager is a "Quad Interface" SATA I/II Hard Drive Docking Station with support for four interfaces: FireWire 800/400, USB 2.0, and eSATA. The Voyager turns any 2.5" or 3.5" Serial ATA (SATA) I/II hard drive up to 2.0TB into a fully bootable and hot-swappable external drive solution.

Using Voyager is simple: just insert any standard 2.5" or 3.5" SATA I/II hard drive (up to 2.0TB) into the docking base and select the fastest of the four interfaces supported by your computer for read/write data speeds of up to 3.0Gb/s. There's nothing else to install or configure. Voyager saves the time and inconvenience of installing a hard drive into a computer or using an external hard drive enclosure with limited interfaces and slower speeds. Getting to your data is now as easy as plugging in a flash drive.

The NewerTech Voyager is $99 and is available online.

Posit Science has designed a series of exercises for the auditory system to be done on the computer that can significantly improve hearing and memory.

The Brain Fitness Program has been clinically proven to increase auditory processing on average, up to 131%. This means that people could keep up with the speed of speech, thus improving comprehension and memory. In fact, 90% of a group of people over the age of 65 reached processing speeds typical of people under 40.

The program is easy to use, individually modifies to your performance, and easily fits into your schedule. It's recommended that you complete 35-40 hours within 3 months for maximum benefit. That's less than 30 minutes a day.

The Brain Fitness Program is available online and over the phone only, for $395-$495.

Not many people know that the TSA now approves of 3 types of bags for carrying and showing your laptop at the airport that you don't actually have to take it out. The Checkpoint Flyer Briefcase made by Tom Bihn just might be the best one.

It's a stylish 3 sectioned bag, of which one is a very special compartment for your laptop. The Checkpoint Flyer's laptop case is made of high-density thermo-molded foam and offers better protection from every angle than a regular padded sleeve. The case easily folds out from under the top flap to go through the x-ray at the airport, and just as easily folds back in. It's also removable and comes in 4 sizes to fit all Mac and most other laptops. The rest of the bag is U.S. made 1050 denier ballistic nylon, Japanese Dyneema rip-stop fabric, YKK splash-proof zippers, and Poron foam-padded handles.

The bag has more than 10 pockets, each with an O ring to clip on one of Tom Bihn's many organizational pouches, splash proof zippers and comes in 3 different color combinations. It is indeed the perfect carry-on/overnight bag.

The Checkpoint Flyer is available online for $220 which includes the optional sized laptop case.

25 Hot Tech Companies

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A Business 2.0 hitlist of 25 companies vying for the role as the next Google is the hot topic on Memorandum right now. What I think the list is missing is a serious look at wireless as the next power play. There's plenty of stuff in the VoIP space on the list, but VoIP is a stopgap. The tools, the apps and innovation that builds the next big app will hit on the cell phone (or some variant). ALl these so-called Web 2.0 apps are niche players at best.


OneNote Feature Request

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OneNote is the one and only thing Microsoft added to the Office suite in recent years worth mentioning. It's an awesome free-form note taking solution, made slightly better by Tablet PC, but effective on it's own. One of many killer features is built-in audio and video recording that syncs up with any notes taken during the recording, giving you context for your notes without needing a fast forward button to find the section of the recording matching any given section of notes. My feature request: An interface to distribute a OneNote session via RSS, so I could share my notes and the recording with other people. It's possibly more meaningful for students who want to pay someone to attend lecture, but the idea of being able to jot things down in an on-the-fly, record audio, have the two in sync and share that with others has some serious potential for communcating ideas. I'm sure there's a Share Point solution for this, but I'm not an enterprise. I want something that works for the 'me' consumer.
According to a recent analysis by ZDNet's George Ou, Firefox is not as secure as we'd like to pretend. Users still need to be careful, no matter which browser they choose.

Ballmer Vows to Bury Google

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Or so the statements by former Microsoft employee, Google new hire, Mark Lucovsky seem to suggest. John Battelle reported first, followed by the tech press picking up the story that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was outraged by news that another employee was leaving for Google.

It is assumed Lucovsky's statement is accurate, since it is part of the lawsuit between Google and Microsoft over Google's hiring Kai-Fu Lee. The chair throwing and swearing paint a colorful picture, but this level of passion is good for the industry. The only time big companies ever doing anything remotely exciting is when they preceive a threat to their bottom line. The departure of smart people from Redmond is the sign of that threat. And Microsoft is known for rising to a challenge.

Google is aiming for the Windows crown jewel of the Microsoft empire. Microsoft is on the verge of dominating in another platform space with Xbox 360; the gateway drug to unite the desktop and the living room. Longhorn is still too far away to matter, but I don't think the next rev of Windows matters as much as everyone thinks it does. You can deliver the stuff home users want to a game console in far better ways than an PC world ever invisioned. Lets get ready to rumble!

Update: The Business Telegraph has an article that puts a little doubt on the whole chair incident. Thanks to Scoble for pointing it out. Whether the chair was thrown or not, all signs point to a renewed energy in the deep end of the tech pool.

Webzine 2005 Here I Come

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If you can make a trip to the Bay area on September 24 and 25, Webzine 2005 is shaping up to be quite an event. The featured speaker is Jacob Applebaum, the guy who went to Iraq and blogged about his trip, making recommendations along the way for anyone else wanting to make a similar visit. I don't care what your politics happen to be, that puts him in a rather unique position. The event is geared toward anyone with an interest in personal publishing of the text, video or audio varieties. I'm making a road trip down to San Francisco, although gas prices are starting to make flying look affordable. At a mere $20 it's a great opportunity to meet people who are actively working on podcasts, video blogs and various text publications while potentially learning something or getting a great new idea along the way.

Seattle Gas Breaks $3.00

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This is the first time I've seen a sign with $3.00 gas. At this rate, the cheap gas will be $3.00 by Christmas. Maybe it's time to trade the Hummer for Prius.

Seattle Gas Breaks $3.00

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