Sunday, November 16, 2008

No More Stopping to Ask for Directions - GPS Devices

j0432597 Don't have a GPS (global positioning system / auto navigation system) if you travel often or live in large metro areas? Then consider getting one.

In the old days, we would often ask for directions from a friend and/or gas station attendant, and often later finding out they were either given wrong or incorrectly written down, GPS devices can dynamically help with directions.  Its true that web based map programs allow you to print your directions work, but if you run into a detour, bad traffic or a emergency road closure, the printed maps are no good.

If you travel often or live in large metro areas such as NYC, D.C., Chicago, Houston, SF, and LA, then buying a GPS device is money well spent.

There are basically three ways you can use GPS devices. One, plan a route to go from point "A" to point "B". Secondly, they can be used as a follow along map to show you where you are. This is good way to learn about the area you are in when traveling or moving.  Lastly, they can help you find the near points of interest (poi) from where you are. Points of interest can be gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and museums. Some devices have emergency location services for pointing you to the nearest hospital, police or fire station.

Going from point "A" to point "B" doesn't have to be going across the country, but rather to specific points. Like from your home to a particular museum downtown or a specific address. When using a GPS device, if you plan a route in advance and encounter obstacles such as road closures, construction or other issues, you can specify there is a detour and get automatically re-routed with a new route. GPS devices are also helpful if you miss an exit for any reason - to help you get back on track to your destination.

Many of your are wondering about using GPS or navigation services from their handheld devices - which usually requires a monthly fee.

While I haven't subscribed to such services, in a review of my travel demands, I determined that its cheaper in the long run to buy one, which will pay for itself in about 2 or 3 years depending on the model selected.  For instance, if the monthly fee is $9.99 a month - in 2 years, you would spend $239.00.  Just enough to buy and own a good GPS device.

If you are deaf/hh then skip devices that have Bluetooth / cell phone capabilities / spoken commands. These not needed features cost extra and can set you back hundreds of dollars.  Also by having a dedicated GPS device, you don't tie up your handheld/phone from email when traveling.

GPS devices have larger screens and can be mounted on the dash or windshield. They can be moved between vehicles like to a rental car. For those that have deep pockets, get a built in dash system (In a few years they may become more common and standard in cars like air bags).

Some of my findings in using a Garmin GPS for a year now.

  • They are useful for short and long trips.
  • At times they can produce an error or contain outdated exits or roads. This is often in the case within growing suburban areas - like in Dallas.
  • Learn to use it before embarking on a long trip.
  • Learn to set it up and glance at the screen instead of fiddling with it while driving.
  • Input favorite locations (frequent travel destinations) in advance.
  • Directions sometimes stop working or get confused when going through parking lots or quickly turning around.  Once you exit a parking lot and drive a couple hundred feet, the maps start working again.
  • If available, utilize passwords to lock the device to protect your information.
  • Put away / take the device with you when leaving the vehicle to reduce the likelihood of theft. Even on your own driveway.  Like laptops, they are high on the theft list.
  • I don't utilize the screen saver mode for pictures, since it creates a driving distraction. Its a feature that's not needed and its mostly a marketing gimmick to get you to buy the device.
  • Lastly, don't be overly reliant on the device.  Sometimes you have to make judgement calls / ignore the provided directions.

You can read more about GPS devices on the web. Garmin and Tomtom are two well known brands. Visit their web sites and your local electronics store to research and determine which device is best for your needs.

Happy travels.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wireless Device: Phone Research and Shopping


While conducting some research on the latest wireless phones, I came across a web site that you might find quite useful:

This web site has reviews for many wireless / cell phones, laptops, and digital cameras.  The site has product reviews, comparison charts, and gives you the ability to compare phones side by side in terms of their features and ratings.  For example, you can compare the Apple iPhone against a Blackberry Curve 8330 in terms of their sizes and reviewers ratings.

Besides doing your own comparisons, I recommend reading web reviews for checkpoints that may or may not be of concern to you.  You don't necessarily have to agree to the ratings or the positive / negative comments provided by the reviewers - they can serve as a starting point for things you might want to consider or be on the look out for.

If you "power users" are researching for your next wireless phone, I recommend the following methods of researching for your next wireless device:

  • Utilize reviews and comparison charts at and
  • Download and review owners manuals for each device - usually found either at the wireless carrier's and/or manufacturers web site.
  • Consider visiting stores that have live working examples of the phones to get a feel of the devices in your hands.
  • Talk to friends and co-workers who may have the wireless device you are interested in.

For some, researching wireless phones in depth may seem an overkill.  But remember, once you purchase a device, sign up for services, and go beyond the 30 day "trial period", you are usually bound to a 2 year contract which can be equally expensive to break if you terminate it within two years.

Some say its usually good practice to upgrade or replace wireless devices after a minimum of two years to stay on top of technological advances and software upgrades.  In other cases, if your device is more than two years old and it still meets your needs - then keep using it until it gets to the point its no longer reliable or supported by your carrier.  There may be a dozen of other reasons why you may/may not want to change devices or carriers, but that's  often left up to the owners.

Lastly, when new devices first come out on the market, they usually have a few "bugs" and kinks to work out.  If there is a newer device or model you are interested in, if possible, wait a couple of months to let the "early adopters" identify and work out early issues.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Web and Wireless Device Security

j0439607Today the web, laptop/desktop PCs, and wireless devices are often fused with our everyday lives: They often containing personal calendars, emails, contact info, and personal info, which has becoming increasingly important to take security precautions for handling your personal information.

Some security tips to consider:

  • Do not use the same password for multiple web accounts.
  • Do not use personal info (such as names, date of birth, or commonly used / dictionary words for passwords.  Set up complex passwords that you can remember.  For example: wilex9z$
  • Utilize password managers to help keep track of passwords.  SplashID from is one product I recommend.  The application works well on PCs, many wireless and handheld devices.  You should password protect this application as well - to protect all of your passwords!
  • For those with a few passwords and don't need SplashID, utilize a password protected MS-Word or Excel document.
  • When using public or work computers, to log into web accounts, DO NOT allow the browser to memorize your profile or password.
  • When you think a password has been compromised, change it immediately.
  • Consider changing passwords every 30 days for highly sensitive accounts such as those for banking and financial sites.
  • Do not share, write down, or give out your passwords to anyone.
  • Set your devices to auto lock after a period of inactivity to prevent snooping from by-passers.
  • Implement password security on all computing devices such as PCs, laptops, handheld and wireless devices. 
  • Yes, even use passwords on your wireless handheld devices.  If not sure on how to set up one, consult with your device owners manual - which can often be found on the web.

By utilizing passwords, you can protect your confidential and sensitive information in the event something is misplaced, lost, or stolen.  Identity theft is a major problem, and by utilizing passwords, you can reduce the chance of being an identity theft victim.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tips for Managing Your Email Accounts

Today, many people have more than one email addresses.  Especially those within the deaf / hard of hearing population segment tend to have multiple email accounts in order to accommodate the use of wireless email devices. Drawing on my personal experiences, follow these tips for managing your wireless and wired email accounts.

- To reduce the number of wireless email messages you get, only give out its email address to a select few people.  Such as family, important friends, co-workers and significant others. So that your wireless device isn't buzzing all day long.

- Use a Internet service provider email account for your everyday non-time sensitive / everyday emails.  If you do not have Internet services at home,  try Gmail (Google), Yahoo, and Hotmail, which are free email providers.

- Utilize RSS feeds and news readers to help cut down on e-mailbox clutter from subscriptions.  In fact, this blog is available via a Rss reader such as Google Reader.  Review your email subscriptions and see if you can subscribe to RSS feeds instead of their email services.

- If possible, utilize email rules on your computer (I.e. Ms Outlook) or with your email provider.  By using rules you can automatically sort incoming emails to designated folders.

For example, I sign up for Chicago Tribune email alerts to stay on top of important breaking news which I can access wirelessly.  The next time when I use my computer to check / respond to my regular my emails, a rule will automatically dump Chicago Tribune emails into a specific folder. There I can either re-read, save certain messages, or delete them all at once instead of having to peck and hunt to emails received from with in Inbox.  This is especially the case when I travel and emails easily pile up.  By using various email rules, I can clean out my mailbox faster and spend less time managing my box.

For email subscriptions, I sign up for RSS feeds whenever possible.  It helps to keep the number of emails down even more.

Lastly, be careful who you provide your email addresses to.  If its someone you don't know, its likely to be a spammer (junk emailer).  They can get you on all kinds of email lists, and you can end up getting a lot of junk email. Which requires time to clean out or set up email rejection rules.  In worst case scenarios, if spam email seriously becomes a problem, you can create new email account(s) and start over.  Which of course take time and requires you to notify your contacts so they can update their electronic address books.

By keeping these email rules in mind, you can get a better handle on your e-mail boxes and be more productive.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Missing Link: Data Sharing Among Wireless Devices

This blog entry has nothing to do with accessibility but rather data sharing between devices.

I'm constantly finding that many wireless devices do a poor job sharing bits of data in other ways than using Bluetooth or doing infrared beaming.

Sharing data is a topic that's rarely documented or discussed, and is often left up to consumers to spend some time experimenting on how to share data and information.

What's The missing link?
Being able to send items such as memos items, contact cards, files, and calendar events to other consumers who are not in the same room.

In a sense, yet, only a few devices such as the Treo Palms can do this now.  Items can also be sent by sending items from ones laptop.  However, in today's world, many of us don't want to use / carry our personal laptops everywhere we go.  Our wireless handhelds are supposed to be an extension of our laptops.

Currently it appears that Windows Mobile devices can't share info without subscribing to a complex Exchange service or shared Internet calendar.  For many consumers, including my spouse, these exchange services are usually expensive, complex, and a overkill of what is needed for occasional use.

Wouldn't it be great if Blackberrys,  Windows Mobile, Palm, SideKick, iPhone, and the Google Android devices could share information seamlessly without needing to be in the same room?

Let me point out a couple of typical scenarios:

Scenario #1
- I plan meet with a friend later in the day, and would like to give him my updated contact info without having to resort to my PC or having him to re-enter my details.  Solution: I email him my contact card from my handheld device.

- Scenario #2:
I have a new upcoming business trip planned, and need to inform my spouse to jot it down in her calendar.  Solution: Email my calendar event.

We should be able to do both of the above scenarios without having to resort to our desk/laptops, or Bluetooth / infrared beaming or the re-entering of information.

There are many other possibilities of what could be sent / shared between devices. 

Hope the wireless industry is listening for this need to share data easily.  If we can send emails, documents and photos, we should be able to send memo, calendar and contact items.

To help others be able to send items between lap/desktops and wireless devices now, a few tips are listed below

- Palm Treos can send contacts and calendar items to other Palm Treos directly.  By selecting the item: select menu, send item by email.  The receiving Palm Treo can just open the email and click on the attachments.

- Memos can be sent by opening to specific memo, select menu and select 'Send Memo'.

- Palm Treos can't send to Windows Mobile devices directly. 

However, there are a couple of work arounds.

1) Send to the recipients email box and have them open the attachment with MS Outlook on their computer and synch with their device. 

2) Alternative, is to use their Windows Mobile Treo to open the emailed attachment in their main email box.  Note that it seems this can't be done thru MS Hotmail, but will work for other providers such as Comcast email.  You will have to experiment by trial and error to see what does/does not work.

- Oddly enough, Windows Mobile 6.1 doesn't seem to be able support the ability to send calendar, memo or contact items. You can send items from desk/laptops to other desk/laptops and Windows mobile devices by selecting the record and send to the recipient email/device.  Again, trial and error is needed. Again, the whole point of this article is to encourage wireless providers and makers to offer easy ways of data exchange between devices for consumers.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weak Points of the Apple iPhone

Over the past few weeks I have been seriously considered getting an iPhone to replace my existing Palm Treo. As it turns out, I found a few weaknesses with the iPhone. For some, these concerns may not be an issue. However, I believe over time, Apple and 3rd party developers may improve on these concerns.

The following weaknesses were identified by playing with the device in Apple stores and by research on the web.

The 4 areas that the iPhone needs improvements are:
- (1) No cut and paste capability between applications or emails
- (2) No two-way synch of Memo Notes or To-Do lists with Microsoft Office
- (3) No slot for external memory cards for increased or portable storage
- (4) Lastly, while the touch screen keyboard is intuitive, I found it somewhat difficult to use. It would be helpful if the keys on the screen were larger, offered in landscape mode, or have an optional slide out keyboard. If you plan to email, write, or text a lot with the device - then I highly recommend trying the touch screen keyboard in a store or on a friends / co-workers iPhone to see if it suits your typing styles.

While the iPhones applications are eye appealing, colorful and fun to play with, the short comings identified above may be some of the deciding points for me not to pick the device for my Treo replacement. For some, the iPhone may be perfect, while for others, it may lack the needed advanced features for "power users".

Monday, September 29, 2008

Accessible Microsoft MS-Word 2007 Online Training

Microsoft provides text transcripts for some of their Microsoft Office 2007 web training resources.  In this case, for MS-Word 2007.

This is especially useful for those who can not utilize audio / voice overs on web presentations and demos.


Check out the following link:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Travel Tip: Wireless Travel Alerts

clip_image002[4]Do you often travel by air and carry a personal wireless device such as a cell phone, blackberry, iPhone, Motorola Q, Palm Treo, Sidekick, and other? If so, consider signing up for wireless travel alerts offered by most major airlines: such as with American, Delta, NW, Southwest and United. Travel websites such as, and also offer some email and wireless alert features.

Wireless alerts are useful to help keep you informed of any flight delays or deviations from your booked flight(s) so you can respond accordingly. Depending on the provider, some can also send you reminders for other travel related issues such as severe weather alerts, and details for upcoming travel for hotel and rental car arrangements.

From personal experience, wireless alerts work well. On two recent occasions I was alerted in advance of a major impact on my travel plans. Because of the advance travel notifications, I was able to respond and change my plans accordingly.

The only draw back to signing up for wireless alerts is that when your flight details change, most alerts do not automatically carry over to your re-booked / re-scheduled flights. This has to be done manually by logging into your account on-line to set up new alerts.

While wireless/email alerts are useful, it is always a good idea to verify the information by speaking with your travel agent, airline representative and significant others.

The next time you make travel arrangements on-line, sign up for email / wireless notifications.

Note: You usually have to complete the reservation(s) before you can set up any alerts.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Quick and Dirty Guide to Selecting Your Next Smart Phone / Wireless Device

Confused by the number of wireless devices available for your use? You're not alone.

Despite the number of devices and the ever increasing confusion over devices, they all offer a big improvement over the numbers only pagers and the limited no-email devices several years ago. Remember the Motorola T-900, the TimePort or early Rim devices? If not familiar with them - then consider yourself lucky. Wireless handheld technology has come a long way since then.

This guide does not compare each device into depth. You can use this as a "Quick and dirty guide" to help you get started in selecting your next device.

The key is to determine what kind of user you are:
  • Just want push email and texting (sms) with some minimal personal information management? Select a Blackberry.
  • If you like to add / tool around with a number of third party applications, have above average technology and computer skills. Along with desire the to have to equivalent of a mobile Swiss army knife. Go with a Palm Treo or Windows Mobile device. Check out details for Windows Mobile devices at Microsoft's web site here.
  • If you want a cool device with colorful apps with a full touch screen, go with an iPhone or similar products like the Dare, Instinct, or the Voyager.
  • If you want the cool teen-factor, get a Danger Sidekick (only available from T-Mobile).
  • If you don't email or text much - get a "not so smart" cell phone.

Simple enough?

Be sure you do your homework and research online to learn about the plans, device features, costs, and coverage choices. Also go to stores to get a real feel of each product you are interested in. Another useful way of researching the features of products is to download and review the product manuals.

Every device and plan has their strengths and weaknesses. Choose what's best for your needs.

A side note: From what I have read is that some devices such as the iPhone does not have cut-n-paste ability. If this is a feature you need - be sure to check for it on the devices you are interested in.

The Blackberry, Treos, and iPhone do sync with MS-Office. So if its something you need - be sure to check the compatibility requirements.

Lastly, be sure to check on special "data only rates" for Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile if you rarely make voice calls.

Final word: Phone manufacturers have started to release new pda and phone models for the 2009 year. Such as the Blackberry Bold, Blackberry Flip, and HTC Touch Diamond and Pro. So if you are not in the need of an immediate new phone or a replacement - keep your eyes open for new devices coming onto the market.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Meebo: Web based IM

Check out It's a company that provides web based instant messaging. This allows you to use a pc connected to the web that does not have IM installed by the use of flash / Java web page. It also has been know to work thru corporate firewalls.

Meebo allows to connect to various chat networks at once.
Better yet, create a Meebo logon ID, and connect from users across several networks at the same time.

Some of the popular networks that are supported:
- AOL Aim
- Google talk
- Microsoft Messenger
- Yahoo

Many of us have contacts inside and outside of the work place, and most companies only allow internal chats with the application of choice. Yet it has been shown to work thru firewalls.
- Use at your own risk -

Meebo is also good if you are traveling, or at a different location - say at a public library, friends or relatives house - you can still chat without needing to install anything on their computer. (In most cases it should work if not blocked by the locations firewall or network).

This is also an ideal IM tool for those (the older generation) who may be intimidated by having to install / maintain an instant messaging client on their computers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Networking: Are You LinkedIn or on Facebook?

Today, the Internet provides new ways of professional and social networking which was unheard of 10-15 years ago.

Internet based social networks allow you to reach out virtually and connect with others nearby or globally without the need to travel or exchange business cards. LinkedIn and Facebook are two popular networking sites. These web sites can help you build and maintain networks of professionals and friends.

LinkedIn:, is viewed as more of a professional networking site.

Facebook:, is more casual, one that provides humorous ways of connecting and exchanging topics.

Both of these sites provide a number of ways of connecting to your professional peers and friends.

What social networks can be used for:

  • Finding old friends and colleagues,
  • Making new acquaintances,
  • Learn about ones career background,
  • Search for business opportunities,
  • Identify potential clients and subject matter experts,
  • Search for jobs
Registration: In order to search, connect with others, and use advanced site and networking features, both sites require that you to register and create a profile.

LinkedIn has both free and subscription options. In general, the free membership option serves most peoples needs. However, if you are a recruiter or a hiring manager, then the subscription option with additional capabilities may be worthwhile.

Facebook is free, with a number of playful features, which may appear somewhat tacky to serious business users - this is more of a fun social networking site.

Final Word: When using networking sites keep in Internet security mind - be sure not to include or disclose any personal or confidential information to prevent identity theft and fraud. Make it a good practice to confirm that the person(s) you correspond with are those you know or have previously come into contact with and feel that they can be a trusted connection.

Initially starting and maintaining your professional and/or personal networks takes some time and effort - it is not done automatically.

Connect with Others: Do sign up with either LinkedIn and/or Facebook to connect with others Try to expand your networks and learn about each other. Who knows, the next time your school alumni, friends, local community, or employer has a special project, someone may request your expertise.

My Linkedin Profile can be found at:

Send your feedback / comments to: Donald Moore or

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In Brief: What Technologies Are Being Used By Commuters on Trains

Wondering what technology devices that commuters use on trains and subways in cities such as NYC, DC, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, and SF?

Other than cell phones, many commuters in large cities, such as those here in Chicago use the following electronic devices while commuting.

Here is a list of what's I've seen on Chicago's Metra trains:

- Wireless handhelds (Blackberrys, Apple iPhones, Palm Treos, other PDAs and Danger Sidekicks).
- Portable dvd players
- Gaming systems (PSP, GBA, DS)
- Laptops with wireless cards/tethered wireless devices
- iPods, Microsoft Zune, and MP3 music players
- Electronic book readers (Kindle / Sony)
- Digital cameras

Of course, there are still plenty of low tech solutions found on board:
- Newspapers, books, and magazines.

The only major gripe is that power outlets are usually not available on board, and you should recharge your device as much as possible before leaving the office for the day.

Sometimes wireless connections are disrupted when going thru several communities, under buildings or being underground - the outages are usually temporary.

Lastly - don't forget to take your devices with you when you get off at your stop.

Now isn't commuting a little more productive and fun?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

No More Landlines in this House

This summer we got rid of our landline phones (also known as the regular plug-in-a jack phone). With all the other technology options we've been using, our TTD was collecting dust. Now with higher gas prices, we looked around and realized we were paying for services we hardly use. With Vonage, we have been able to cut our phone bills into half. Which includes local and long distance services.

By dropping the landlines, we also were able to free up come space on our counters and desk by replacing TTDs with small cordless phones for the kids and visitors.

Don't fret if you have hearing significant others, CODAs, or kids in your household. If you have a broadband or dsl connection, in most cases you can piggyback phone service off them using services such as Vonage, Skype, and Comcast phone. (Minor service fee required). In some cases, you may be able to keep your same phone number.

Now about those voice callers to your house phone. Set up your service to automatically roll over to your relay service of choice after a certain number of rings. They can contact you based on your preference of vrs, text messaging, aim, or message transcription services, or can call them back after receiving a message.

Note that some services do not work with TTD devices. The long answer is that some can support TTD devices with some advanced research and tweaking. Better yet, use your other communication options.

Lastly, check out Nextalk, this service (also free) allows you to use a pc to make a TTD call (Internet connection required).

Push Email for Palm Treos

I have been a Palm Treo 700P user for nearly two years now. It has been a fairly good device, but the Palm O/S is starting to show its age.

While Palm Treos do not have push email right out of the box. You can subscribe to 3rd party push email providers for relatively low cost. They are just as good as blackberry push email services. Versamail that comes with the Palm O/S does not work with push email providers well. I suggest Chatteremail, an email client, which is available from Palm for a one-time cost. It works with push / IMAP email providers to provide you with real-time push email.

Fusemail and are such examples of push (IMAP) email providers.

The new Trep 800W (Windows Mobile 6.1), provides push email out of the box utilizing Microsoft Hotmail. While its free and it works, the notification options on this Treo are noticably weaker. That is, you have very little to no control of how to set up LED and/or vibrate alerts. Because of this, I have been investigating 3rd party options that allows you customize alerts... More to come on this.

Lastly, the 755P Treo has NO LED indicator at all. It is not recommended for those who rely the LED for notifications.

Purpose of this Technology Blog

Instead of having a blog about myself, I'm going to utilize this space to to blog, discuss, and share about everyday technologies that we consumers use. The primary focus of this blog will be for deaf and hearing-impaired consumers because we have different needs and uses for technologies than the general population.

I'm hoping that with this blog, we can help others by sharing our findings and experiences to help this population segment fully utilize technology for everyday needs. Overtime, I will include articles and links to some white papers and publications I have written or will soon to write.

You can also subscribe to this blog using your favorite Blog or RSS reader such as Google reader and Bloglines. Check out the "Subscribe to Blog" box in the upper right hand corner.

There are approximately 20 million deaf and hard of hearing consumers within the U.S., and 100 million world wide.

If there is a topic or technology item you'd like to for me to cover, feel free to contact me.