Keith Shaw Cool Tools chat transcript

Transcript of live chat with Keith Shaw, Cool Tools editor and gadget guru, on Aug. 17, 2007.

Moderator-Julie

Welcome and thank you for coming. Our guest today is Keith Shaw. This is a moderated chat. When you submit questions or comments they are sent to the moderator. They do not instantly show up in the main chat area. They will appear when Keith sends his reply. Often your question is waiting in a long queue. So please be patient. There will be a delay between the time you submit your question and when you see it onscreen. We will try to get to as many questions as we can during this one hour chat.

Some of you have submitted questions in advance. The moderators will be publishing those questions and Keith's answers throughout this chat. If you have requests for other guests you would like to chat with, please send an e-mail to jbort@nww.com.

Now, onto the chat.

Keith_Shaw

Hi everyone: I'd like to thank all of my family and friends for showing up today for my chat. My lifelong dream has been to star as a guest in an online chat, and now that dream has been realized. If you're not a family member or friend, I thank you for taking some time out of your day to speak with me about personal technology and gadgets. Let's have some fun today and see if we can learn something as well…

010101etc

RE: "iPhone alternatives" -- In your opinion, are there better ways to spend $500 for a phone? If so, which product -- or is the iPhone the second coming?

Keith_Shaw

In terms of hype and the ability for Apple to make you want something, the iPhone is the second coming. Have you ever wanted something so badly as the iPhone? Probably not. However, as a mobile phone, there are lots of others out there that offer the same, if not more, functionality, and of course the price is much lower for these phones. But you won't be able to whip out these other phones and go, "Look how cool I am" like you could with the iPhone. Having an iPhone now means you can brag to all of your friends.

Mr Mr

What is your opinion on the 802.11N wireless standard?  Do you think it can replace wired Ethernet?

Keith_Shaw

Good question. I think once the standard is finalized (and probably now if you don't care about interoperability), the speeds of 802.11n will be as good as wired Ethernet (regular, not Gigabit Ethernet or the faster speeds). In fact, most companies will start looking at 802.11n as its main network, and use wired Ethernet as a backup system. In the home, wireless will likely continue its dominance over other transmission technologies.

Moderator-Julie

Keith is busy typing an answer to a question, so here is his answer to one of the questions submitted in advance.

Q: Of all the devices that use Palm OS, which ones do you like the best, and why?

KEITH SHAW: I always tell people that the best Palm OS device is the next one they come out with. That would leave us with the Treo 755p at the moment. More importantly than the device, however, is the network that the smart phone is on. I'm a larger fan of the Verizon EV-DO network than the AT&T EDGE/UMTS network at the moment, but that's mainly because of the area I work in. Verizon on average seems to have better coverage in New England than the other wireless providers. The best Palm device doesn't even have a Palm OS on it -- the Treo 700w and 700wx use the Windows Mobile operating system, and with the Palm hardware it really is a nice device for enterprise users. It should be interesting if Palm comes out with a Treo that has Windows Mobile 6 on it.

Blah

Are there any really good wireless speaker systems you recommend? Good quality, not just a toy, but at a good price

Keith_Shaw

Most of the wireless speaker systems I've seen are usually classified as toys rather than some serious devices. One system I can highly recommend, and one I regretted having to return, was the Sonos Digital Music System, which uses wireless mesh technology to stream music all around the house. They just made an announcement with Sirius to allow for its satellite radio connections to be streamed around the house. It's a little bit pricier than most people would like, but it's a really slick system.

Moderator-Julie

While we give Keith time to type up another answer, here is another question and answer from those submitted in advance.

Q: What are the top three must-have products for road warriors?

KEITH SHAW: Despite about a billion products geared at road warriors, the best thing for people who travel a lot is to keep it simple. Technology-wise, the list for me would be: 1) Lightweight laptop with wireless LAN capabilities and an optical drive (the ultra-lightweights don't allow for application installation via CD, a must-have in my book); 2) a good cell phone and 3) an iPod.

Non-technology products: 1) a good pair of walking shoes; 2) a backpack-style laptop bag and 3) a good paperback book for those times when you can't boot up or listen to your iPod.

Mr Mr CRT monitors when you upgrade to a fancy new flat screen monitor?

What do you do with your old

Keith_Shaw

Ha! I try to sneak them into the office and hope that our IT department won't notice the extra monitors. I think most people don't really know what to do, but there are some options. This week, for example, we did a video that showed how you can take that old monitor and create a dual-monitor system, so you can have two (or more) monitors instead of just one. The second option would be to try and find out when your town does a computer recycling day and utilize that option. Third is to donate the monitor to a local school or charity, although I'm not sure they'd want old monitors either. The last option, which most people probably do, is to just keep the monitor sitting somewhere in the house collecting dust.

ticktock

Do you think CES will take over the world?

Keith_Shaw

CES has become the new Comdex. Every technology vendor in the world now goes there, and it's really a huge circus of lights and hype. Although this year, the biggest news was about 500 miles away in San Francisco at Macworld, with the launch of the iPhone. So CES probably won't take over the world as long as Apple keeps doing Macworld. I also enjoy going to DEMO (disclaimer: DEMO is run by Network World events), because of all of the technology optimism that is seen at that show.

Hkroft

What gadget do you get the most use out of?

Keith_Shaw

Like most people, I'd have to say my cell phone, because I'm always carrying it around with me. While I don't do as much on my personal cell phone as I could, I still use it to take photos, I use it for text messaging and of course for making phone calls. I love the Bluetooth technology for the hands-free headset, and it has GPS.

Moderator-Julie

Keith is working on another live question. So here's the answer from one submitted in advance.

Q: Are there any devices that I can use to take a "game" break at work while still looking like I'm being productive?

KEITH SHAW: I'm not sure if I'm going to get in trouble for answering this. There are some cute devices that will let employees hit a "panic" button that switches their screen to a fake-looking spreadsheet when the boss walks around, but there are better methods out there.

1: Get an office, and arrange your computer and desk so that anyone walking into the office can't see what's on your screen. This gives you extra time to hit the "Alt-Tab" button in Windows to switch to your other documents.

2: If you're playing a game with sound, use headphones. If the boss asks, explain that they're noise-canceling headphones used to drown out the excess office noise (doesn't work if you work in a library)

3: If you don't have an office, invest in one of those black-screen protector things that prevent snoopers from looking at your display from the side.

samEnt

What's the coolest tool for the enterprise?

Keith_Shaw

I don't want to start a war here, but I think the BlackBerry is the best and coolest tool for the enterprise at the moment. Having a device that so strongly understands corporate e-mail is tops for the enterprise at the moment. I haven't really enjoyed Windows Mobile devices, and the Palm, while it's a cool and easy-to-use device, doesn't seem to do e-mail as well as the BlackBerry. But that could all change, of course, and quickly.

careyblast

What brand of Bluetooth headset do you recommend, Keith?

Keith_ShawAliph Jawbone, which has great noise cancellation technology. The recipient of the phone call can never tell whether you're in a noisy location. Every time I call my wife with this phone from the car, she has to ask whether I'm in the car because she can't tell. That is rock and roll technology. I also just got a sample of the new BlueAnt Z9 Bluetooth headset that includes voice isolation technology, so I can't wait to try that.

My favorite one at the moment is the

Hkroft

DEMO is fast approaching - any hints as to what we can expect to come out of there?

Keith_Shaw

Even though Network World produces the show, I'm not privy to the information as much as people would think. I do receive some details about what's coming up, but I'm under the same NDA restrictions that all of the companies are under, not to reveal anything until the opening day of the show. From the dispatches from Chris Shipley (by the way, everyone should read the DEMOletter blog at www.demo.com/demoletter), this upcoming DEMO will include lots of "real" Web 2.0 technology instead of just hyped services looking for VC buyouts. I just hope there's some cool gadgets as well....

Moderator-Julie

Keith answered this one from an earlier question ...

Q: What's the worst-ever device you ever tested, and why did you hate it?

KEITH SHAW: That's tough, because the name of the column is "Cool Tools" and generally I like to highlight the really good stuff out there in personal technology. When a product fails or is totally awful, I generally don't write about it (unless it's Windows Vista and the product deserves it). There were two products that I wrote about that were cool in concept, but not in delivery. One was a solar-powered device charger that could keep multiple portable devices charged through the power of the sun. The problem was that the device didn't keep the charge stored, you could only recharge it if the sun was out (you couldn't pre-charge the battery, so to speak). The other device was a mini-projector that would let you display the contents of your smart phone screen onto a larger display, such as a computer screen or even bigger projector. The problem with that one was the smart phone display was always so bright, it washed out the quality of the image it was trying to display.

careyblast

Thoughts on the iPhone... live up to the hype?

Keith_Shaw

With the amount of hype the iPhone got, I'm not sure it has lived up to its hype, but a lot of people lined up for one, and they all seem happy. Of course, this is only the beginning. When Apple figures out some of the enterprise issues (Exchange connections, VPN access, faster networks) and also starts doing over-the-air downloads of iTunes songs to the phone, then all bets are off. I think I'll get more excited about the 2nd or 3rd generation of the iPhone.

samEnt

What is the greatest 'tool' threat to the Enterprise?

Keith_Shaw

I'd like to say the "rogue user" is the greatest threat, but sometimes I feel like I'm the rogue user here at Network World, but I think they do have a role at the enterprise to keep IT thinking about new applications, devices and software that can help employees be productive. That said, the greatest "device" threat is probably the USB memory stick, because of its ability for quick and easy file transfer. People can steal data from a company quickly with a USB stick, and then of course your mobile employees can also take the sticks with them on the road and then end up losing the data.

Hmonroe

What technology are the Patriots going to deploy this year against the Indianapolis Colts? Peyton Manning has a laser rocket arm!

Keith_Shaw

I have it on good authority that the Pats are going to be utilizing anti-laser-rocket-arm technology this season. Palm, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Cisco have all teamed up to create this technology to prevent the Colts from repeating as champs....

Moderator-Julie

Keith is working on another live question. So here's the answer from one submitted in advance.

Q: What's your opinion on those "fast pay" credit-card devices for phones, PDAs and the like. Is it worth the bother?

KEITH SHAW: I'm always amazed at watching companies try to come up with new features for phones and mobile devices that aim to make things easier, but in the end they make things more miserable for the end users. No wonder I'm always getting e-mails from readers who say things like, "I just want a phone that makes phone calls" whenever I write about new video, music or other bells and whistles that are popping up on cell phones. Same thing goes for these "easy pay" systems. For more than 6 years now we've been hearing about how Bluetooth technology and micro-payment technology will allow you to do things like pay for a soda or movie tickets with your cell phone. Sure, the technology might work and it's all whiz-bang, but if people look at you and go, "So what?" it's not going to fly. And with all of the problems with identity theft on the Internet, there's no way I'm going to give out credit-card information to any other device, whether it's trustworthy or not.

Ticktock

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