TechWandering random header image



wandering the world of technology

wandering the world of technology



OpenID — a unified identity management system for the internet

July 10th, 2007 · 3 Comments

OpenID LogoOne of the annoying things about surfing around the web is that just about every website you visit wants you to create an account for yourself. To make matters worse, all of those accounts want to know a lot of the same information about you: your name, your address, your phone number, etc. Not only is typing that information over and over again more likely to result in a typo, it’s also tedious.

Most websites also make you choose a username and password so that you can log in when you visit the site. If you’re like 99% of the other web surfers out there you make your username and password the same for all of the sites you visit. From a security perspective that’s a dangerous thing to do since it means that if any of those sites get compromised it may be possible for a hacker to learn your username and password and log into any of those other sites while masquerading as you.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could create your account information once and have that information shared across all of the websites you visit? How about logging into your account once and not having to log in again as you surf around the web? OpenID is an open-source technology which may someday be able to turn that promise into a reality. How does it work? Let’s check it out. [Read more →]

→ 3 CommentsTags: Computer Software

Google Gears up for offline applications

June 15th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Google Gears LogoWe’ve heard for years that web-based applications accessed through a web browser (think the Writely word processor and GMail mail service) are soon going to replace applications installed on your PC (think Microsoft Word and Outlook). These thin-client applications hold the promise of allowing us to run complex applications on any operating system using any browser without having to install any bloated software.

Well, that’s the theory, at least. In reality things are a little more complicated. Many of these online applications require specialized plug-ins which means that they’ll only work on specific browsers running on specific operating systems. And, although these online applications are becoming more robust, they still have nowhere near the same feature sets that their thick-client cousins have. Still, though, those problems aren’t insurmountable. The plug-in problem is being addressed as more and more applications incorporate AJAX, and most of us use only the basic features of those applications, anyway.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle with using online applications is that, by definition, they’re only available when you’re online. Want to do some work during your 3-hour flight to Cleveland? You’re not online when you’re flying so you have to use the applications installed on your laptop instead of their web-based equivalents.

But what if there was a technology that would let you use your web-based applications when you weren’t connected to the web? There is, and it’s called Google Gears. Let’s take a look at what it is, what it isn’t, how it works, and what it can do. [Read more →]

→ 2 CommentsTags: Computer Software

Find out What’s Running on your PC

June 9th, 2007 · 1 Comment

What's Running LogoOnce in a while I wander across a PC utility that really saves me a lot of work. Recently I discovered a piece of software called “What’s Running?” which I now use instead of the collection of PC monitoring tools that I had been using. How’s it possible to replace an entire suite of tools with a single piece of free software? Let’s take a look.
[

→ 1 CommentTags: Computer Software

Joost — the future of television?

April 24th, 2007 · No Comments

Joost LogoThere have been a number of attempts to stream television shows and other types of video programming over the internet. All of these efforts have run into problems of one form or another – some technical, some legal, some monetary, and some a combination of all of the above. All of these attempts had one thing in common, however: they offered poor-quality internet TV service containing little or no compelling programming.

The latest attempt to deliver quality TV over the internet is called Joost. It’s still in beta but it’s far enough along to demonstrate that its creators have learned from the mistakes of their predecessors. Joost may even offer a glimpse at the future of television.

Let’s take a look at what Joost is and what makes it different.
[

→ No CommentsTags: Computer Software · Home Theater

Cooking with Tech — Raiding the Electronic Pantry

April 22nd, 2007 · No Comments

Kiss the Nerd ApronI can’t cook.

Well, I suppose that’s not completely true. I can cook a bit, but only if I can follow a set of simple directions or a basic recipe. If I have to somehow deviate because I have a 9″x13″ casserole dish instead of an 8″x12″ casserole dish or because I can’t find the oregano I’m in trouble.

My wife, on the other hand, knows how to cook. She uses a recipe as more of a vague suggestion rather than as a detailed set of instructions. If she can’t find a specific ingredient she can simply substitute something else using logic like “It’s in the same family” or “It’ll work — they’re both red”.

When my wife looks into the pantry she sees a hundred different meals just waiting to be made. When I look into the pantry I see a bunch of ingredients without knowing how they could possibly combined to make anything.

I find this ironic because, when it comes to technology, I’m the cook. I can look at all of the “ingredients” that I have (hardware, software, network) and have no problem coming up with ways to combine them to make a technological meal. Sometimes I can even make a meal and a dessert. [Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: Other

Already a Netflix member? Stream movies to your PC for free with Watch it Now

April 15th, 2007 · 19 Comments

Netflix LogoIf you’re already a subscriber to Netflix, the DVD rental website, you also have access to a new feature they’re rolling out called “Watch it Now” which allows you to stream content from the Netflix site to your PC. And you can’t beat the price: free. Let’s take a look at what Watch it Now is, what it does, and how you can activate it on your account.
[

→ 19 CommentsTags: Computer Software · Home Theater

FlyTech Dragonfly — WowWee takes wing

March 13th, 2007 · 1 Comment

FlyTech DragonflyIn the past I’ve written about two easy-to-fly radio-controlled planes (the Aero Ace Biplane and the Aero Ace Jet) and a radio-controlled car/plane/boat hybrid (the Storm Launcher). This time around I’d like to introduce you to something a little more — um — natural: a radio-controlled insect. Well, to be precise, it’s a radio-controlled dragonfly, and it flies by flapping its wings like a real dragonfly. Really.
[

→ 1 CommentTags: Toys

Manage your RSS feeds with Google Reader

March 8th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Google Reader LogoBookmarking sites like give you the ability to bookmark your favorite websites and use tagging to make it easier to find them later on. Since the bookmarks are stored on the servers at instead of on your local PC you can bookmark a website while you’re logged onto one PC and retrieve those bookmarks while you’re looged on at a differnet PC. For people who end up accessing the internet from a number of different PC’s (like at work, at school, and at home) using a service like is much easier than trying to keep your list of local bookmarks synchronized across all of your comptuers. But what if you also have a long list of RSS feeds that you want to keep tabs on across your many computers?
[

→ 2 CommentsTags: Computer Software