Monthly Archives: August 2009

Google Voice

I got my Google Voice invite a few weeks ago, but only got my account set up last week.  I was hemming and hawing about the area code I wanted and just did not decide for several days.  When I went back in to check on it, they had added Washington, DC so I went ahead and got one of the numbers they had available.

I have to say that it’s pretty neat.  Being able to screen my calls is a great feature.  It’s like having a robot receptionist.  If I don’t want to take the call, I don’t have to.  And they are even screened for me.  It’s nice having all of my phones called at once, since I generally only have immediate access to one of them at a time.

I gave the number to my mother and had her leave a message.  So far, in my extensive tests, the voice transcription has a 100% rate of success.  This is for the one voicemail that she has left for me.  Also nice is the ability to log in to and just read the text of the voicemail or play it back.

Overall, very cool and interesting, but I am hesitant to throw myself fully into using the new number as the primary method of contacting me.  I know that limits its usefulness, but getting everyone to change to a new number is something that I am not ready to do at the moment.

In the meanwhile, I am content to use it with a select group of people as a test of the technology.

Champions Online

I’ve been playing the Champions Online Beta now for a couple of days and I can honestly say that I am probably going to get my money’s worth.  Especially since I went ahead and dropped the money for the lifetime subscription.

That is, unless it folds in six months.

Champions hopefully, will not fold in six months.  The game is fun, and while it is far from perfect, I like the character customization, the power selection options and the gameplay. They’ve added blocking to the MMO formula, and in a surprise move, it’s not simply a stance you take.  It’s an active skill that you hold down before an attack lands.

So in order to be successful, selective use of blocking is required.  It took me a while to get used to pressing block and not waiting for the background dice to roll a “miss.”  Once I figured that out, I had a great time figuring out the timing and mitigating damage in between my attacks and enemy attacks.  It’s a simple mechanic, but one that keeps you actively involved in the combat.  So it gives the game more of an action RPG feel.  This is in contrast to the typical “click buttons until the cooldowns are over then click them again” mechanic prevalent in most MMOs.

Not that Champions is not an MMO.  It has the social aspect of teaming, loot, leveling, and everything that one expects from that genre.  Unfortunately, the beta also had the unexplained crashes, lockups, and server hangups that one also expects from that genre.

I feel like I’m in the same car, only there’s been an engine swap and there’s a new coat of paint.  Which isn’t surprising considering the other product that Cryptic developed was another Superhero themed MMO called City of Heroes.


Evernote is a service that I didn’t realize I wanted I gave it a shot.

It is, at the simplest level, a note taking service.  Now I call it a service because it’s not just an application.  There are multiple clients, but they all sync to a central server.  Meaning that I can use Evernote on my phone, on my Mac, on my PC at home, and on my computer at work, and access all the same notes.

It’s great.  I’ve been using it for grocery lists, to do items, things I find on the internet and basically anything that I think I will come back to at a later date.  Even if I don’t ever come back to it, I know that it’s accessible to me via search and tagging features.

And I haven’t even started to use the OCR capabilities of the site.  Basically, I can take a picture using my camera phone, say of a DVD and then Evernote’s servers will scan that picture for any text.  Then I can search for that text and find that picture.

So far, the service works very well, and I am hoping for a dedicated client for my phone sooner rather than later.