Brand Thunder Holiday Browser Theme Contest Results

On November 29th 2011 I wrote a sponsored blog post for Izea’s Social Spark to advertise for Brand Thunder, which is a cool website where you can create browser themes for Internet Explorer and Firefox.  One of the requirements was that I create a holiday browser theme and enter in their contest to win an iPad2.

On December 17th 2011 I found out that my browser theme was good enough to be in the top 5 browser themes eligible to win an iPad2.  I asked for votes here on my blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.  I wasn’t as successful as the 3rd and 4th holiday browser themes because not enough people voted for me, so I lost.

Well, I didn’t really lose, I was still in the top 5 so I consider that to be successful enough.  Because I was in the top 5, I won a $25 gift card for Amazon.com, and tonight I bought a new webcam for my desktop.

The webcam that I have on my desktop is a Flexic@m which at one time was acceptable, but it’s such a horrible webcam that I no longer want to use it.  I would much rather have this Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 because it is HD 16:9 and it has a mic.  I would like to be able to call my aunts and friends with Skype, but I can’t because I don’t have a mic.  I can use the built-in webcam on my Chromebook, but it doesn’t do Skype.

I would also like to be able to do time-lapse videos to put on YouTube.  I have a time-lapse video of my Scooby Doo Chia Pet, which is not that great because of the horrible webcam.  Tonight I tried making a time-lapse video of my lava lamp, but the webcam is so horrible that you can’t see the beautiful colors of the lava. That was my motivation for choosing to buy a new webcam.

This webcam was only $24 and it was available for free shipping if I paid $25.  In order for me to get the free shipping, I had to buy something else, so I chose to buy a $5 4GB USB memory stick.  I needed a new memory stick anyway so this is perfect.  The USB memory stick I have now is only 1GB and it’s almost full, so I had planned on upgrading anyway. What I’d like to do is take all of my photos off of the 1GB stick, and put them on the 4GB stick.  I can use the 1GB stick for my book as a backup.

I wasn’t expecting to win the iPad2, and frankly I didn’t think my holiday browser theme was as good as the other ones, so I’m happy for the person who did win because they certainly deserved it.  Even though an iPad2 would have been cool, I’m happy to have a new webcam and USB memory stick.  So thank you Brand Thunder for the Amazon $25 gift card, I really do appreciate it.

*This post is not a paid advertisement for Izea‘s Social Spark or Brand Thunder.

Gmail Video Chat with CR-48

I got my CR-48 in December the first week they were shipping them and I didn’t really mess with the video chat until Christmas day when a friend of mine got a webcam for Christmas.  We tried it but my mic didn’t work so she couldn’t hear me.  When we came home from San Diego after Christmas we tried it again but my mic still didn’t work.

I’ve been so frustrated that the mic didn’t work and that I had no volume control but realizing I wasn’t testing the laptop but the operating system I started to come to the realization that it might never work.

Whenever Google would do an update on the Chrome OS I would check the mic settings and it never worked, that is until yesterday when they did their update.  I immediately checked the mic settings and not only did the mic work but so does my volume control.  Finally!

I emailed that same friend about trying again and she finally got on Gmail today so I sent her an IM directly from the Gmail site using Gmail chat.  I started the video chat but her video didn’t work at all.  I thought, well let’s go to Facebook using the Social Plus extension.  That didn’t work either so we went back to Gmail but I waited for her to engage me this time.  I don’t know what she did but it worked and we talked for about 45 minutes I would say.

It was a success!  It was as good if not better than using Skype.  Since I’m on a cloud based computer I can’t install Skype so Gmail chat is the next best thing.

The only strange thing about it was that when she held something up to her webcam it looked like a mirrored image to her but it looked normal to me.  I held up a package of something and it was a mirrored image to me but she saw it normal.  It was a little strange but if you think about it, we’re sort of like looking in a mirror, she can see me as if I were on the other side of the glass and vice versa.  A bit weird but that’s fine, I’ll take what I can get.

I’m just really excited that I can video chat lol.

My Chrome Apps and Extensions

I am really enjoying Google Chrome these days. This is my Google Chrome front page. As you can see I have a few apps and unseen a few extensions.

The apps that you can see are pretty cool. The top ones are what came automatically in the browser and the rest I added. If I can’t use programs on my desktop then I gotta find a way to use them on the browser only laptop.

Typically when you are given things in a new product, the first thing you do is get rid of the junk you don’t want. Well, I did get rid of something. There was an icon for a Poppit game from Pogo but when you click it, it loads the Pogo website with the Pogo logo but the game never loads. So screw it, it’s gone lol.

Entanglement is a really cool game and I like to play it so I kept it. I’m not very good but I’m just a beginner. You gotta start somewhere right?

The Gmail and Google Talk ones I can do without but I’m not going to get rid of them if I may need them one day. Instead of using those, I downloaded the app LiveGO . It allows me access to MSN, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Yahoo and AOL/AIM all in one web page. For Facebook MSN, Gmail, Yahoo and AOL, it allows me to get access to my inbox and IM. It doesn’t have MySpace or Skype and I really wish they would get Skype on there so I can use the webcam. The IM’s have the webcam button but it says Coming Soon when you mouse over it. Hopefully they will get that up and running soon. For now I can use Google Talk to video chat, although I haven’t had the opportunity yet as I still don’t have any Gmail friends in all the years I’ve had Gmail.

TweetDeck is great. I’ve used that for Twitter on my Desktop so I now use it on the laptop in browser format instead of the installed version my desktop has. I actually like the browser version because the program takes forever to load and the browser loads instantly.

Autodesk Homestyler is such a cool one. You get a measuring tape and measure the rooms in your house and add rooms in the program according to the measurements. Ok I don’t needthis but it’s neat. I can add furniture to each room so I can make decorating decisions. I’m not a decorator but Darrin is so he can use that.

Google Books I added because I’m a book-worm. Although I have a Nook so I don’t need that but I was using it to look up books. I may get rid of it if I need the space though.

Todo.ly is a to do list lol. Yeah I know, lame. I may get rid of it if I don’t use it that often.

Picnik is for photo editing, although they want you to pay for premium features, I just wanted it so I could use it for the webcam. Since I can’t have Gimp on this laptop I needed something but if I really need to make a graphic I’ll just make it on my desktop.

Spider One Suit FREE … It’s Spider Solitaire lol. I can’t imagine a world where there is no solitaire on a computer.

SoopBook is for writing your own book. You can write it in there and invite people to read it and correct your mistakes. Although I don’t know if I want anyone messing with my autobiography but it’s a good way to write it since I am using this as my primary computer.  It also gives me a backup so if my computer crashes then I don’t have to worry about a backup copy.

I haven’t been writing my book at all lately anyway because I’ve been too busy. When I am ready to write again I have SoopBook and/or my desktop to write with. Although I could use SoopBook when we aren’t home and I have the laptop with me so there’s a good reason to keep it for a while.

Do I really need to explain YouTube, Hulu, Google Maps and Scratchpad? I’m sure you know what those are.

I have a few extensions which are on the very top of my browser, to the right of the address bar. I’m using GlueAOLGmail and Yahoo email notifyer so if I’m not in LiveGO then I can see if I have email or not. Then I have Aviary for taking screenshots for blogging (example above).Amplify extension which I use occasionally for blogging and finally After the Deadline which is a great spell/grammar checker, not just for blogging but anywhere you type on the internet.

I am still adding extensions and apps so this is not all I am playing with. There will be more but for now, this is what I’m up to. Playing with and learning how to live with a browser only based laptop, it’s actually not as difficult as it sounds. I’m sure anyone can cut their ties to programs if they really had to. I guess this is an if you were stuck on an island, what program would you bring with you” type of question. Well, in my case I’d have to say the Google Chrome browser would be the only program I need since I can find a way to add all of my programs as web apps.

Ok that’s it for now. I’m tired and my eyes are too blurry from staring at this 12.1 inch laptop screen for the last 16-18 hours lol.

The Next PSP

Sony ready to unveil it’s PSP Go at E3 tomorrow | Dvice

PSP Go Video Game, E3 09: Conference Footage 2

Ok so here we go, they have a new PSP out which is their 4th gen called PSP Go.  This PSP is smaller, same widescreen but it flips up so you can use the control buttons below the screen instead of on the sides of it.  It then closes so you can watch movies or TV shows or even use it as an mp3 player and not have any buttons pressed while it’s in your bag.

The PSP Go has a 16GB flash memory as well as a Memory Stick Micro slot which is a different name from the one that is currently in the PSP which is Memory Stick Duo so no you can’t use the one that you already use in your current PSP.  They took away the UMD slot so all those games that you bought you can’t use anymore.  You have to buy all your games via the PlayStation store online.

It also has Bluetooth Support.  I don’t know what that means for the PSP though.  When I think of Bluetooth I think of a cell phone earpiece.  What does Bluetooth mean for a PSP Go?

On the video (which is the 2nd link above) at the E3 the guy talks about how people like to buy the actual physical product.  There will be a new media manager for PC so I’m guessing that maybe you plug your PSP 2 or 3 into your computer via the USB and it probably converts the UMD into files that you then upload to your PSP Go.  But that is just what I think that means, I don’t know for sure.  Who knows, but he did mention something about being able to buy the UMD even though you can’t use it in this thing.

I don’t know about this one.  I like my PSP 2000.  I didn’t upgrade it to the PSP 3000 when that came out because the only upgrade it had was a mic on the front so you don’t need a headset to call people with Skype and it had a more matte finish on the screen so you don’t get glare from lights or the sun.  With a $250 price tag I’m still not convinced that I need to upgrade to the PSP Go.

I kinda prefer having a UMD and being able to put it in the UMD slot when I want to play a game which of course means searching for the game I want but that’s perfectly fine by me.  I don’t know if I want to fill my 16GB flash memory with games then have to use a memory stick to add more.  Call me old fashioned lol.

Google 911?

Recently I asked a Rhapsody question and got a response within 24 hours on my own blog straight from the horse’s mouth.  So… now I want to ask a question for Google.

This year I found out that Google had come out with 1-800-GOOG-411 to make free 411 calls.  Their service is so amazing, you call and it asks you business name, city and state.  You say like pizza hut Bakersfield california and it automatically came up with a pizza hut on Stockdale hwy and said that it would connect me now or if I needed more listings to say so.  Awesome!  411 calls are outrageously expensive being that you get 3 free 411 calls per month but after that it’s $1 per 411 call.  Thanks google.

But how about this?  I’m thinking about canceling my home phone service and buying one of the new Nokia Skype phones from Skype.com because it’s only $3 a month for unlimited local and long distance calls.  I already got my goog 411 so now what about 911?  Skype doesn’t offer 911 like Vonage does so how bout it google?  Are you going to ever offer that?

Google is a great company, I’m sure they can come up with an automated 911 service that asks you what your emergency is and you just tell the computer and then it asks you if you need a cop, fireman or ambulance and then it dispatches those services without needing to talk to an operator.  Or they could give you the option to be connected to the actual 911 in your city.

The phone company isn’t going to last much longer thanks to internet calling like Skype and Vonage so if landlines are gone forever (sorry ma bell) then we need a 911 replacement.

Fidgit

Sci Fi channel has come out with a new website for gamers.  They seem to cover every platform, genre and every thing related to gaming.

http://www.fidgit.com

I try to look at everything for the PSP.  I just want to read everything I can about new updates and the future of the PlayStation Portable such as new features like when they added Skype and Internet radio.  This website doesn’t seem to have anything after July 2008 and right now it’s near the end of September.  I don’t really see this being a major source of news for me for the PSP right now but it is nice to have another source of news for the game system I love.

Skype Phone Number

Well, I’m sorry to say that I will not have a phone number for Skype. I refuse to pay $24 a year to have a phone number when I wont have it turned on enough to need a phone number for it. And that was with a $30 discount. And I’m not even sure if that discount was for the first year or not. I’m not going to have Skype running or even have the PSP running constantly so it’s just not worth it.

If I want to use it to call someone it will only be because either Darrin is on the phone and wont let me use it or if were not even home and I am too cheap to use the cell phone and we are near a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Which reminds me, I am gonna need to find out how to use the AT&T WiFi hotspots with my PSP. I know it works with my laptop but I can’t get it to work with my PSP. T-Mobile has Wi-Fi hotspots too but since I get AT&T hotspots free because of my DSL why pay more when I will probably only use it once a year you know? I’ve yet to even use it as it is.

Skype for PSP

Well, today we went to Game Stop at the mall and bought the “PSP Slim Skype Headset Kit” for $32.16 (after taxes) and made a call to my friend Sue. Darrin talked to her for nearly 45 min but then I was able to talk to her for a while until Big Brother after dark started.

The quality of the phone call was really amazing. I’m able to walk around the house, even go outside, just as long as I stay inside my wi-fi zone. With my regular telephone I get a lot of static because the cordless phone in my room is too far away from the main base in the living room so it’s nice to not have any static. So, I’m going to use my PSP from now on to make phone calls. I usually can’t get on the phone because Darrin is always on the phone hehe.

Skype for PSP

About a month or so ago Sony added Skype to their Sony PlayStation Portable but you have to buy the headset with the microphone and the remote control. Of course not long after that they created the combination for sale. Before you could only buy the headphones with mic by itself and then you’d have to additionally buy the regular headphones (minus the mic) with the remote control. You need the remote control for it to work.

I have started thinking about how maybe it is a good thing because if you have a cell phone and have unlimited calls that’s fine but I don’t. I have a pre-paid cell phone and so my calls cost .40 cents per minute. It’s especially frustrating when I am roaming. I think I should be able to call out for free on a cell phone like everyone else. Of course with Skype it is only free if you call other Skype users, otherwise you can buy time which is like 500 or 600 minutes for $10 which isn’t bad or you can pay $2.95 a month for unlimited calls (which is about 10,000 calls per month, they added that in there).

But you have to be in a wi-fi hotspot to be able to take advantage of that. I don’t know what T-Mobile has for you to use though. I was given a 6 month free wi-fi hotspot thing with the purchase of the PSP which I have not used yet because I don’t take it with me everywhere I go. I’m thinking that maybe the $10 phone card is a good idea cause I probably wouldn’t use it all the time and that 5 or 600 minutes wouldn’t expire after a month, you keep the minutes until you’ve used them up.

As soon as I get the money I’m going to think about getting the headset with mic from Game Stop and then setting an account up for me. I think it’s a good deal. And I want to see what T-Mobile does for PSP users per month.