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TabletKiosk warehouse robbed – let’s help them out (Digg this)

This story needs to get onto Digg, Netscape, Techmeme, and all of the web news outlets. This story over at Gottabemobile was the first I heard of this, so that’s the one I’m linking to. Here’s what happened:

The Tablet PC and UMPC fan base is often referred to as a community. This is why am reaching out to the online Tablet and UMPC fan base so that we can all respond in a unified front.

On Sunday, February 11, the TabletKiosk warehouse in Torrance, CA was robbed. The thieves stole a considerable number of Sahara Slate PCs, eo v7110s and eo v7210 units.

We are working with the police to catch the perpetrators and retrieve the stolen units and are exploring every possible avenue. This is why we are asking for assistance from the Tablet and UMPC community who often uncover significant information about Tablet PCs and UMPCs online.

The stolen units are both pre-configured and configured units as well as some customers’ personal machines.

If you find information about any eo UMPC or Sahara Slate PCs for sale which seem too good to be true, I would appreciate if you would send the information to my attention. A reward will be provided for the person who provides us with information leading to the culprit.

Gail Levy
TabletKiosk
gail@tabletkiosk.com

Gail Levy has been a great liaison to the community, and it just plain sucks that someone robbed a warehouse full of specialty devices like the Sahara Slate Tablet PCs and the eo UMPCs. So let’s use the geeky tools and technology at our disposal to help catch whoever did this (whoa – I felt like I was on America’s Most Wanted for a second).

First, Digg this story, so we can get the story in front of as many people as possible. (As of the time of this writing, it wasn’t on Digg yet, so I added it.) Post it to reddit, Netscape, forums, or wherever you think people might see it and be able to help.

Second, create some search feeds to keep an eye out for any TabletKiosk units on eBay or Craigslist. Here is an eBay RSS feed for all “TabletKiosk” items (only 5 as of now).

Subscribe to that feed, and you’ll see any new items listed on eBay that match. You could also subscribe to the feed for a more specific search, like v7210, but as of now, there are no results, so I think the “TabletKiosk” search is about the right level.

You can do the same thing on Craigslist, but since Craigslist is separated by city, do it in your own town. I’ve got a search feed for Portland, but you’ll need to create one for your town. Just search the “For Sale” area, and click the little orange link to get a feed to subscribe to.

If you find anyone selling these devices for “too good to be true” prices, or you have any other leads, please email Gail directly with your tips. If you want to be anonymous, use your favorite anonymizing proxy service.

If you have any other ideas or suggestions to try to track down these stolen units, and/or catch the perpetrators, post a comment, or something on your own blog.

Gail, I really hope we can help you out with this – please let us know if there’s anything else we can do!

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The new Intel Software Network blog is alive

We’ve been in the process of moving the Intel Software Network blogs over to WordPress since, well, before I joined the ISN team. Today, the migration is complete, and the shiny new blog is up and ready for you to subscribe!

http://intel.com/software/blogs

The new setup is actually just a single WordPress blog, which simplifies things a LOT on the backend, but you can still view posts (and subscribe to separate feeds) based on author or category. You can pretty much add “/feed/” to just about any page on the blog, and get an RSS feed for it. The main feed for all posts is here.

Since I am ISN’s “Social Media Evangelist”, I just did an introductory post, and of course, I’ll continue to blog here, as well as there. Expect some cross polination where topically appropriate. We’ll be making improvements as we go along – we don’t expect to be perfect right out of the gate. So please, have a look, and let me know what you think. Better than they way they were? Something not working for you or driving you crazy? Post a comment, there or here, and let me know, and we’ll fix it.

Thanks!Β Β πŸ˜€

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Unboxing the Cinuglar 8525 PDA Phone (30 photos)

I got a new phone/pda/communicator device this week – the Cingular 8525. It’s an awesome device, and I’m really loving it so far. The feature that was most important to me, the 3G data speeds, have been better than I hoped. I average about 850Kbps at home, and downtown Portland yesterday, with 3 or 4 bars, I managed a speed test over 1Mbps. πŸ™‚

I’ve posted 30 photos of the obligatory Unboxing Ceremony, which you can find in this Flickr set. Actually, my wonderful wife Rachel was the cameraperson, and she did a great job. My daughter Emma also makes a cameo appearance in some of the photos – she just loves to be part of what Daddy is doing, and she loves Daddy’s new “Microsoft phone” (I have no idea where she got that – I’ve never used that phrase :-)).

Here are some photo highlights:

The box contents: the 8525, a standard mini USB type B cable, AC adapter, 1300mAH battery, spare extendable stylus, software CDs, manuals, etc. The usual.


Closeup of the camera on the back. The usual tiny mirror for self portraits (does anyone use these?) with the reflection of my Canon SD700 IS. The thing I want to point out here is the little slider to the right of the lens. You can’t see it very well in this picture, but it moves from a “normal” position to a “macro” position. I think it actually physically moves the lens back and forth between a normal lens and a “macro” lens, to focus on close up objects. A very nice feature. The camera itself is pretty good, but it’s still a phone camera. Nothing stellar, but the 1600×1200 2.0 megapixel resolution is better than a kick in the teeth.


Ooh, shiny! πŸ™‚


I just liked how this shot came out with Emma. Gratuitous cute kid picture. πŸ˜‰

I’ll be posting more thoughts and impressions as I use the device. So far, I love the speed, both of the processor/system, and the speedy 3G UMTS/HSDPA wireless data connection. I have a metal case for it that’s OK, but it’s a little awkward to use inside a hard case, so I’m not sure if I just need to get accustomed to it, or if I’m going to switch to some other kind of carry option. Vaja makes a nice leather pouch for the 8525, starting at $65, which, like all Vaja items, is very tempting. πŸ™‚ Stay subscribed for updates, and let me know if you have any questions!

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GrandCentral knows how to make customer evangelists. Do you?

I wrote a post yesterday about my new cell phone, and a new service I’m trying out with it – GrandCentral.com (go read that post for all the details, and expect me to be talking more about it).

This morning, I got an email from Craig Walker, CEO of Grand Central, commenting on my post, giving me some contact information for feedback or suggestions, and basically just reaching out and saying “hi”.

THAT is how you make customer evangelists. Kathy Sierra had a great post about this the other day over at Creating Passionate Users (a must read blog – you are subscribed, right?). I am now a passionate user evangelist for the Grand Central service, even with its faults. Do you know how to make people passionate evangelists for your product or service? This is one great way to do it.

Here’s my email reply to Craig (I’m not posting his email because I don’t have permission to do so).

Wow, a personal email from the CEO! πŸ™‚

That tells me a few things about your company that make me happy.

1. You know how to listen to what the blogosphere is saying about you, and you’re doing it
2. You care enough to make a personal contact, rather than a form letter or something.

I’m quite happy with GrandCentral so far, and now that I feel like I have a “relationship” with you guys, I’m sure it can only get better. And of course, I’ll be telling lots of people about how great the service is. πŸ™‚

I do have a couple of issues so far. One is probably easy to address, and would add a ton of value. The other might be harder, but would still be great.

First, I need GrandCentral to send me attached audio files when I get a voicemail, rather than just a notice that I have voicemail. MP3 would be preferred, but WAV would be fine, too. The reason is, when I’m on my Windows Mobile phone, and get email that says I have to go to the GC site to hear my voicemail. Except the GC site doesn’t work in Pocket IE (no Flash, probably not enough AJAX support). This is how my Vonage at home does it, and I LOVE it. So, pretty please, can we have, at least as an option (or maybe a paid Premium service – I’d pay for this) the ability to send voicemails as attached audio files?

The second issue is more of question – is there any way to have my GC number show on the Caller ID when I make outgoing calls to someone? I know that’s probably tricky, and might not even be legal (to spoof someone’s Caller ID), but I know a lot of people, including myself, who keep track of people’s phone numbers based on what shows up on Caller ID. This is how most smartphones and cell phones know the name of the person who is calling, since they only get the number, not a full name like a landline. This would really let me have only one number for people to use to contact me.

I’ll be blogging more of my experience with GC as I use it more, so stay subscribed! πŸ™‚

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Mike

Mike, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

Having lunch with Mike and Matt.

Sent wirelessly from my

Windows Mobile device.

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I have a new cell phone number, and a new phone

I got a new phone today, a Cingular 8525 (tons of unboxing photos and impressions to come soon!). I had to get a GSM phone, because I have no CDMA coverage (Sprint or Verizon) at my new desk location. So my phone is pretty much useless when I’m at work, and that sucks. T-Mobile was out of the question, because I use wireless data more than voice, and T-Mobile’s data speeds are still stuck in the EDGE dark ages. That left Cingular, with speedy 3G UMTS/HSDPA, cool phones, and coverage at Intel’s Jones Farm campus.

I picked the Cingular 8525, a Windows Mobile/Pocket PC phone (a.k.a. the HTC Hermes/TyTN). It’s got WiFi, a 2MP camera, side slide out keyboard with large keys, and of course, the speedy HSDPA data service. I really love it so far, though I have already dropped it on the hard wood floor! :-O No damage, luckily, though my heart stopped, and I think I cried a little…

I was about 20 months in to a 2 year contract with Verizon, but since Verizon is raising the price of their text messages from $0.10 to $0.15, my contract states that I can end service with no Early Termination Fee. There’s a great script/post over on Consumerist.com with all the info I needed to get my service dropped with no fee. I was prepared for battle – no one can throw a consumer tantrum like I can – but they were really nice about it, and didn’t resist at all.

I love my new phone, and HSDPA is quite fast – I have about two bars here at home, and I did some speed tests from dslreports.com/mspeed (the 1MB test), and got about 850Kbps. Very nice! πŸ˜€

The biggest change is that I didn’t bother to try to port my number from Verizon. So I have a new phone number for the first time in 7 years. I also wanted to try out GrandCentral.com, a number abstraction service (think FeedBurner for your phone). It lets me do custom call routing and answering, emailing me voicemails, call recording, and a lot of other cool features. And it’s free (though they might charge for Premium services in the future, only to recover costs they incur).

So I’m going to give you that number, instead of my real cell phone number. Like FeedBurner, I could change my number again in the future, and my GrandCentral number wouldn’t change. The downside is that if I decide I don’t like GrandCentral, I have to tell everyone to update their address books again with a different number. Jason Harris and I have been batting the idea around, and one other shortcoming is that you can’t send text messages to a GC number, and if you use a lot of Mobile-to-Mobile minutes, incoming calls might not count as a mobile-to-mobile call.

My new number is:

503-334-1889

I’ve updated the sidebar on TinyScreenfuls.com to reflect this, but if you had my cell number in your address book anywhere, please take a second to update it now. Am I crazy for putting my cell phone number on my blog? Maybe. But in the couple of years I’ve had it there, I’ve only ever had good things come of it – never a bad/unwanted/spam phone call. And GrandCentral has spam filtering, so I’m not worried about that, either.

I’ll keep you updated on the new phone, service, and the Grand Central experiment – let me know if you have any questions! πŸ™‚

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Sprint to fire any employee that blogs or writes anywhere online

Whoa! Talk about draconian measures! I put this in my linkblog, but I think it deserves a post of its own, and maybe a little conversation.

According to a post at Consumerist, Sprint/Nextel’s head lawyer, Len Kennedy, sent the whole company an email stating that they’ll be fired for commenting on or contributing to any online service, including blogs, consumer report venues, etc. Ouch! They say that they’re worried that any leaks online could “compromise Sprint’s competitive positioning”, and they have a team of people dedicated to monitoring online sites for contributions by Sprint employees, so they can be tracked down and fired.

I understand the intention of such a move – to protect proprietary information, and be competitive. But this is SO not the way to accomplish it! Some of the problems I see with this policy:

  1. You’re basically telling your employees that you have absolutely zero trust or confidence in them. May as well have mandatory strip searches every morning when they come into the office, and search them again when they leave. Way to kill morale, and the goodwill that your employees had toward you.
  2. The policy (which admitedly, we haven’t seen in detail) sounds way too vague. What about employees posting after hours, from home, to try to HELP customers? Acceptable use policy is one thing, this sounds like quite another. Go read chapter 3 of The Cluetrain, the story about the Saturn employee, and then think about whether this is a good idea.
  3. This is an unenforceable policy. If someone wants to “leak” something, without a being caught, there are a million ways to do it. All you did was warn those who are inclined to such activity to be extra stealthy. Are you sure your “internet adroit sleuths” are as good as you think they are?
  4. Do you think this is going to attract and retain the smart geeks that you need to get and keep that precious “competitive positioning”? Way to create crappy PR for yourself, Sprint.
  5. As mentioned in one of the Consumerist comments, it’s not clear if this is breaks “whistleblower laws” – it might not even be legal.

Like I said, I’m not saying that an employer is wrong for trying to keep sensitive information out of the wrong hands online. Heck, I work for a giant corporation (Intel) whose founder, Andy Grove, wrote a book called “Only the Paranoid Survive“! But Intel, and lots of other big corporations, has sensibly adopted a policy of telling your employees what’s acceptable and what’s not regarding online posting and behavior (basically, don’t give away the recipe to the secret sauce, and don’t be stupid), and holding them responsible for following those rules.

In short, a kinder, gentler way to accomplish what Sprint is trying to accomplish – Trust Your Employees, and Give Them a Reason to Want to Protect You Instead of Hurt You. Whose side do you want them on?

Though I guess doing it that way is much harder than the zero tolerance firing squad approach. Path of least resistance and all that… πŸ™„

What’s your company’s policy about blogging and online participation, and how do you feel about it? Am I way off the mark here – just a crazy blogger ranting about free speech rights, and raging against the machine? Let me know in the comments.

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New feed for my linkblog – please update your aggregators

I’ve been toying with the idea of an overhaul of my linkblog feed for a while, and now I’ve done it. My linkblog contains items that I find interesting or useful in my reading, but not interesting enough for a whole post.

The new feed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/JoshBancroftLinkblog

Please update your aggregator accordingly, and if you’re not already subscribed, give it a shot. Why the change? If you don’t really care, you can stop reading here. πŸ™‚ Some really geeky stuff follows.

I’ve been using del.icio.us for my linkblog, because with tons of available tools (like bookmarklets and Firefox extensions), it makes it super easy to add something whenever I come across it. But as I’ve fallen more and more in love with Google Reader (which manages all 600+ of my feed subscriptions), I’ve been jealous of the “share” feature. One click or keypress (shift+S) and whatever I’m reading gets added to my shared items. Scoble has been using this to great effect – his linkblog is both popular and interesting. The downside of using Google Reader for my linkblog is there’s no way to add something if it’s not in one of the feeds I’m reading (where del.icio.us can add stuff from anywhere).

The geek solution? Use a couple of feed mashing services to combine everything into one feed, to get the best of both worlds. I’m using FeedShake to combine the feeds from del.icio.us and Google Reader, as well as my photos from Flickr, and my status updates from Twitter. Then, since the FeedShake URL is ugly, and I might want to switch services in the future, I piped it through my good friends at FeedBurner, to get the new pretty URL.

So if you subscribe to the TinyScreenfuls feed, you’ll get my blog postings, and only my blog postings (I’ve turned off the nightly feed splice from del.icio.us which injected the things I had tagged in del.icio.us that day). If you’re a geek like me, think like me, or want to tap into what I find interesting and/or useful, you’ll want to subscribe to my linkblog feed, too.

I really love the way Web 2.0 separates form from content (as explained in the video I posted yesterday), and lets you mash and mix your flow of information in whatever way you see fit. It’s stuff like this that makes me feel like I’m living in the future! πŸ™‚

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