The Digi-Cult

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Archive for the ‘Hardware/Software’ Category

Google introduces Transit Layer to Maps

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on January 15, 2009

Montreal is currently the only Canadian city avialable with a Transit Layer

Montreal is currently the only Canadian city avialable with a Transit Layer

Many of you have probably used Google maps over the years and found it’s geographically correct maps pretty handy.  Well they just got a bit handier, especially for those who ride public transit.

Google Maps has added a Transit layer to it’s mapping system that allows users to view transit routes super-imposed over the previously mentioned geographically accurate maps.  The service is available for 50 + cities currently, but Google being Google, I’m sure they’ll add more.

Users and writers across the Internet are saying that while the maps are awesome and neat to look at, they’re a bit more complicated than most Transit maps (which are simplified representations of the transit system). The better you are with maps the more comfortable you’ll be with the new Google feature.

Don’t dispair though!  If you use Google’s Transit site you can have it plan your trip, snag your accompanying maps from Google Maps and be set!

Frankly I think this will be a good add on for Google, though I suspect it won’t be that highly used a feature until more maps are available.  For a full list of cities and links to view thier transit maps visit the Google Maps team blog.  What would really make this feature is full integration with Google Transit.

I’m waiting for a cost effective GPS device that does this same thing.  Input your destination, it picks your starting point and gets you on the right busses etc, alerting you a stop ahead of when you get off that your stop is coming up, AND can be programed to avoid certain routes (if one is blocked for example).

A girl can dream, but maybe it’s something for you to get on Google 😉


Posted in Digital Culture, H/S Reviews, Hardware/Software, Interaction, Tech News, Web News, Web reviews, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Forwarding from Hotmail: Someone made it easy!

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on December 21, 2008

The super clean and functional GetMail is BRILLIANT and a must have for anyone trying to forward their Hotmail to GMail

The super clean and functional GetMail is BRILLIANT and a must have for anyone trying to forward their Hotmail to GMail

So, I’m gonna admit something a little shocking: I just got a GMail account a few weeks ago. The only thing that held me back from getting one of these wonderful slices of internet storage heaven was the logistical issue of forwarding my Hotmail to GMail.

For those not in the know, Hotmail has a quirky system for getting you your mail that has become a bit antiquated. Hotmail doesn’t use the very standard POP3 servers that most everyone else uses, which lead to a major problem for GMail users looking to forward their old Hotmail to their new account. GMail simply can’t access your Hotmail because Hotmail doesn’t use POP3, and Hotmail doesn’t give you the tools to forward the mail from the Hotmail side of the equation.

Many people have been trying to solve this problem and since getting my GMail I’ve tried a few forwarding services. Most fizzle and fail pretty fast, or require cumbersome installation that forces the user to dust off old Command Window skills (C:\KILL_ME.EXE).

However, do not fear! I found a great little utility this morning that I am now in love with that is doing a PERFECT job of getting my old Hotmail into my snappy new GMail. The program, GetMail for Hotmail, operates in the background on your computer, shoveling your Hotmail to your Gmail while giving you the option to save the messages to your hard drive.

The setup was SUPER easy. Unzip, Install, Right Click the icon, input your mail settings (login info for your Hotmail and address to send the messages to) and BOOM, it’s done.

There are a few more advanced features in it for filtering spam, controlling message size, and setting how and when the program checks for messages. There aren’t a lot of techy aspects to this utility, but frankly, I like the clean functionality of it.

A simple utility to do a simple job. Love it. Grab it!

Posted in Digital Culture, Geekdom, H/S Reviews, Hardware/Software, Interaction | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Does this really need to be seperate?

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on December 9, 2008

So a friend of mine sent me this link to a BBC story about a Muslim oriented virtual world.  Think Habo meets The Sims.  I love the idea and the execution of it all, don’t get me wrong but I’ve got one question:

Does this need to be seperate?

I understand the whole idea behind starting a Muslim only community, but to me making such a separation seems strange to me.  Adding a prayer mat to The Sims would have much the same effect.  If you’re playing any other online game you could create a community for Muslims who play their characters according to Muslim customs.

Now I admit, this could be all my perception, and the whole reason I wrote this was to start some discussion.  I was raised Irish Catholic and have tried on various religions over the years.  Currently I’m undecided.  I just don’t see the big deal about religion and flaunting it or seeing it as a dividing factor.

The creators of Muxlim Pal say that the game is for those interested in Muslim culture, but to me, it seems like an excuse for people to cut themselves out of society and create even more of a mystique around themselves.  The developers also mention that Muslims don’t live a life all that different from non-Muslims.  If that’s true, then why create a seperate game?

I’m not saying this is bad or anything, please don’t get me wrong.  I just question this continuing need for “cultural diversity via separation” that I’m seeing everywhere.

Discuss people!

Posted in Buzz, Digital Culture, Groups, H/S Buzz, Hardware/Software, Interaction, Video Games, Web Buzz, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

An E-Book Proposition

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on November 10, 2008

The new Sony Reader PRS 700 has touch screen note taking abilties, and is only 6 inches long.  It lacks colour though.

The new Sony Reader PRS 700 has touch screen note taking abilities, and is only 6 inches long. It lacks colour though. For more on this reader click here

I was flipping through a magazine at the doctors office the other day and read a quick review on an E-book reader, which got me thinking.

E-books, for those not in the know are books in digital form.  They can be likened to PDF’s or scanned images of a paper book, but an E-Book is formatted like a cross between a PDF and a Word Document.  Long story short you can read the E-book page by page just like a regular book, can highlight things on it (if your reader allows the function) and can save your place so you can come back to it later.  It’s not a terribly revolutionary concept I know, and that’s most likeley why we don’t hear alot about it.

E-books cost about as much as the average paperback, or less depending on the licencing.  This cost is the main turn off for most people who don’t see the point of paying for digital content, just like they don’t see the point of paying for an MP3.  And maybe for the average reader I can understand that, but I have a question.

Why aren’t we doing E-books for post secondary textbooks?

Textbooks cost a fortune, are used for one class and then either resold or left in a corner to collect dust.  They’re bulk, heavy, easily damaged and take a ton of materials to make.  So why aren’t we using E-books instead.

Imagine picking up a small E-book reader and having all your textbooks in it.  A purse sized object holds a semester’s worth of knowledge.  You can highlight on them, and if you have the right interface even scribble notes on the digital pages.  Imagine how little it would cost.  The reader would be the biggest investment but it would be reusable over the years.  Each textbook would cost a fraction of it’s current cost because you simply pay

Programs like Mobipocket allow those using non specialized readers to annotate thier e-books easily

Programs like Mobipocket allow those using non specialized readers to annotate their e-books easily

for the license not the materials used to produce it.  Imagine the environmental benefits of not cutting down the trees needed for each book.

I’m sure if a program doesn’t already exist, one could be developed that could transfer your highlighting into a word document.  Instant notes.

I propose we work at getting publishers and post secondary institutions to look in to at least making E-books an option. Now I know there are problems that need to be solved for this to work.  Mainly that there needs to be further improvements in digital readers such as colour screens and more touchscreen capabilities, and the cost of E-books needs to drop to really reflect licensing fees, but because we’re looking at this for educational purposes arrangements on all of the above may be made.  We all know that companies look to affiliate with post secondary institutions to look good.

Thank you all for listening to my ramblings, now post yours and lets try to think this through, and maybe into existance.

Posted in Digital Culture, H/S Buzz, Hardware/Software, Interaction, Tech News, Web Buzz, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »