Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Sneak Peak At Google Offers (Courtesy Of Google Search)

Google just silently launched the "GroupOn" competition "Google Offers". First of all, I still don't understand why GroupOn turned on the 6 billion offer from Google, which I blogged about, and I think Google has the cloud to come up with a much better product here, and I still like to see Yelp and Google join force in this field.

A Sneak Peak At Google Offers (Courtesy Of Google Search)
Neither will they drive a huge amount of new customers to these businesses (the deals appear to be more pedestrian than insane). It is a different business model entirely. Groupon convinces businesses to offer amazing deals specifically because of its one-deal-a-day promotion and the promised surge of new customers. Google Offers seems to be more predicated on showing you deals in your vicinity, and will likely be more tied to your mobile phone and Google Maps. This approach may scale better than Groupon, but the quality of the deals may not be as exciting. Obviously, since this is a work in progress, we’ll have to wait and see what other bells and whistles Google Offers actually launches with.
 Google has a better approach here, GroupOn is still very limited to local salons or spas, their business category is very limited, and once the so called "new customer" tried a service with a much reduced deal, it'll be a question if they will come back and pay for the full prices.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to output Unix Join results in tab delimited format

If you like the performance of Unix join command to join two sorted data set, you'll like this one. For years I've converted the join output from space delimited to tab delimited using another script as this is join's default output format. Blogs here by GeekBrainDump, and JJinuxLand: UNIX: "join" show you the syntax and the way to insert a tab at the command line. Here is a summary:

For a left outer join with output in tab-delimited format:
join -a 1 -1 2 -2 2 -t '[use ctrl-v tab at the command line to insert the tab]' 1.txt 2.txt

Join is a very powerful command, and much faster than SQL join, there is a great tutorial of different ways of using the command:
Examples of the unix join command
Given the files:
1 abc
2 lmn
3 pqr
1 abc
3 lmn
9 opq

if we type:
join 1.txt 2.txtWe get
1 abc abc
3 pqr lmn
since the two files are trying to match on the 1st column, and both have a 1 and a 3 in that column. To tell join to use the second column to join with, we type:
join -1 2 -2 2 1.txt 2.txt (where "-1 2" stands for the 2nd filed of the 1st file, and "-2 2" stands for the 2nd field of the 2nd file) we get:
abc 1 1
lmn 2 3
which are just those fields that match in both files. This is refered to as an inner join. Inner joins look for rows that match rows in the other table. The problem with inner joins is that only rows that match between tables are returned.
If we type:
join -a1 -1 2 -2 2 1.txt 2.txt (where "-a1" says include all the records from the first file) we get:
abc 1 1
lmn 2 3
pqr 3
this is missing a number for pqr for the second file (since there is no pqr in that file) and is missing "9 opq" from the second file. This is an example of a left outer join, called such because it includes all of the rows from the left (or first) file specified.
If we type:
join -a1 -a2 -1 2 -2 2 1.txt 2.txt (adding "-a2" to tell join to also include all records from the second file) we get:
abc 1 1
lmn 2 3
opq 9
pqr 3
Which has all of the records. This is an example of a full outer join since it has all of the rows from both files. (Missing from these examples is the case where we had the -a2 without the -a1. That would have produced a right outer join which contained all of the records from the second (right) file and only those rows from the first (left) file that matched).
While this example has all of the rows from both files, we still have a problem since we can not tell which file the count is for on the last two records.
We now need to format the output using the "-o" command. The options for "-o" are as follows:
A "0" (that.s a zero) means display the join field
A number in the format of X.Y means to display the Y field from the X file (ex 2.1 means display the first field from the second file).
-e "0" says to replace any missing data fields with whatever is in-between the quotes (in this case a zero).
So if we type:
join -a1 -a2 -1 2 -2 2 -o 0 1.1 2.1 -e "0" 1.txt 2.txtwe get:
abc 1 1
lmn 2 3
opq 0 9
pqr 3 0
which has all of the records, and fills in the zeros for us. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How to easily save hundreds in your household

Here is a good article on "easy-ways-to-save-hundreds: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance":
1. Review Insurance Policies
Most likely the premium has gone up;
 2. Unplug Your Appliances
Maybe go to your electricity meter to check to see which one is the biggest electricity consumer by unplugging one at a time starting with the big ones; 
3. Reassess Your Phone Setup
Take a look at MagicJack, only $20 a year, I use it, caveat is that you need a PC to be running all the time.
4. Eat At Home and Pack Your Breakfast and Lunch
5. Tune Up Your Car and Check Your Tires
Not very intuitive, I guess you need to spend some money to save some.
6. Seal Windows and Doors
If you live in the colder states.
7. Pay Down Your Debt
Easier to say than done, but absolutely, especially credit card debts;

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Why Groupon Said No To Google's $6 Billion? Yelp is much better!

Well, as discussed in this article, this probably because Groupon didn't think the deal would have been approved and gone through. But at least Groupon saw some money: 6 billion, knowing it at lease worths that much now. Now it started to think about raising money to make the company value at just about or above 6 billion. The question is: why google would pay 6 billion for a company makes about $500,000 a year? All the so called "deals" are mostly spa or beauty services, or restaurants. There isn't review available of the business providing the service. I see Yelp.com has a much better business model: they list all (almost) the business in the area, providing with tips, reviews, and business can claim the its yelp and announces special deals on Yelp.
It's not that Groupon management was stupid not to take the offer from Google, but they didn't think that the SEC would approve the offer, so they would see the money anyway. They're all smart people, but Yelp will be a winner here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Vizio’s Via Tablet for my kitchen?

Vizio is showing off an iPad rival: Via Tablet at CES 2011:
The reps at Vizio's booth in Las Vegas were initially a bit camera-shy, but I finally persuaded them to take their new mobile wares out of their glass cases for some close-ups.
Let's begin with the Via Tablet, which boasts an impressive 8-inch display, a 1GHz single-core processor, a microSD memory expansion slot, a front-facing camera for video chat, and an IR emitter for taking command of your HDTV.
More interesting was word of a couple of the Via Tablet's slated accessories: an ATSC tuner dongle for over-the-air DTV channels — nice — and a dock for wirelessly streaming uncompressed HDTV video to your TV.
CES: Hands-on with Vizio’s Via Tablet, smartphone - Yahoo! News
Very nice! if their pricing is aggressive enough, I'll get one for the kitchen, which can be web browser, music player, netflix player, TV (with the tuner), and a bulletin board for the kids, say, reminding them to finish their homeworks before they can play.

Office Camera supports document imaging and video conferencing

Look out for these awesome gadgets!

New Office Camera in HoverCam Line of Cameras at CES

SAN DIEGO, -- Pathway Innovations and Technologies, Inc. introduces HoverCam Office Camera for document imaging and visual communication for professional and home offices. Office Camera is a new category of all-in-one office imaging products championed by Pathway Innovations and Technologies, Inc. with applications in the areas of document scanning, video-conferencing, video presentation, and with a break-through form factor that makes it a cost effective tool for every desktop or office on the go. The device also finds unique applications in assisting visually impaired individuals.

Scanners found in most MFCs (multi-functional copiers) scan a document line-by-line in a sweeping motion, while the HoverCam® Office Camera captures an entire page of document in a single snapshot action with an aerial-positioned high-resolution lens. The "scanning" is done instantly, and the image quality is excellent for most scanning applications. This not only saves time, but produces lifelike digital copies of the document.

The HoverCam has a slender vertical configuration with a tiny footprint, making it a convenient space saving imaging device. It is a daily office tool, just as essential and easily accessible as keyboard and mouse. All HoverCam models can be retracted to be highly portable, fitting into briefcases and even pockets. Mobile professionals can "scan" contracts, forms, invoices, receipts, and notes anytime anywhere.

In addition to the scanning functionality, the HoverCam is also an HD web cam, displaying and recording 1080P real time video of a document and the presenter at the same time. It can be used as an enhanced video capturing device for Skype, Webex, or GoToMeeting, or be combined with HoverCam Flex software for web shared whiteboard and picture-in-picture conferencing.

In office settings, HoverCam Office Cameras can be used in a wide variety of scenarios, from sales training, product demos, communicating ideas, collaborative works, document imaging, capturing engineering parts along with paperwork, organizing receipts, to magnifying objects or text-to-speech for the visually-impaired.

We have two lines of products on the CES Floor: The HoverCam Neo and HoverCam Mini. Product is shipping first half of 2011. (CES Booth# 35955)

The HoverCam Neo performs quick scans of documents and records full motion HD video at 1080p resolution. The Neo can be connected directly to a projector and work with a whiteboard. With its dual camera design, the HoverCam Neo simultaneously presents drawings, printed materials and 3D objects. Picture-In-Picture capability and built-in conferencing software make the Neo an essential tool for any office space.

There are three models in the Neo line with a range of resolutions:

Neo 5p: 9 Megapixels with "InstantScan" Technology, 1080p Full Motion HD Video, HDMI and USB 2.0 outputs

Neo 5i: 5 Megapixels with "InstantScan" Technology, 720p Full Motion HD Video, HDMI and USB

Neo 3: 3 Megapixels with "InstantScan" Technology, 17fps UVC 720p video via PC or MAC.

HoverCam Mini: 3 megapixels, 200 ppi optical resolution, digital enhancement to 400 ppi with SnapReader Software, OCR processing with HoverCam's Receipt Manager Software.

For additional information, contact Pathway Innovations and Technologies, Inc. at 858-812-6358 or visit www.thehovercam.com.

Pathway Innovations and Technology, Inc., based in San Diego, CA, is the designer and manufacturer of HoverCam(TM) Office Cameras with applications in professional offices, SOHO environments, and schools. Office cameras are used for live presentations, video conferencing, scanning, OCR, and assisting the visually impaired. For more information, visit www.thehovercam.com.

CONTACT: Claudia Ramstrum, claudia@thehovercam.com, +1-858-812-6358

Web Site: http://www.thehovercam.com

Office Camera supports document imaging and video conferencing., Pathway Innovation

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How To Find Pictures by Date In Picasa

This tutorial shows how to find photos in Picasa by date. This is done by sliding a horizontal scroll bar to filter the photos within a certain date range from current time, which is not very intuitive. The date range you can use can only be from whenever to today, I didn't find a way to specify a date range, as in from 2007 to 2008. But this is already quite useful, as I can find all the starred photos that are less than 5 months old, and export them to a folder and load them all into my digital photo frame.

Find Pictures by Date | Picasa Tutorials
Find Pictures by Date

When you have thousands of photos on your computer, it’s hard to keep track of them even with the best of tools. I’ve had some questions lately from people who have just imported their photos and they seem to have disappeared into computer La-La Land. This happens in Picasa because there are so many options for ways to view your library of photos. For example maybe the particular options you have set is sorting your new folder down toward the bottom and you don’t realize it. When it doesn’t appear at the top, you think they’re lost.

Notice the Recently Updated Album

One simple solution is to take a look at the ‘Recently Updated’ Album. This is an automatic Album that does just that – shows the pictures that were most recently updated. Automatic albums are displayed as a green folder icon with a star. Other automatic albums include ‘Starred Photos’ and ‘Recently Emailed Photos.’ These exists at the top of your albums collection – and they are automatically generated just for your convenience.

Use the Date Range Filter

Another way to find photos by date is to use the Date Range Filter. That’s the slider to the right of the filter section. It usually is placed all the way at the left end which means, “Show me all pictures no matter how old they are.’ As you drag the slider toward the right, you will be filtering your library of photos to newer and newer ones. In the screen shot below, notice the position of the slider and the text that indicates the date range is all pictures up to 10 days old.

The problem with this filter is that you can set a beginning for your date range (e.g. 10 days ago) but the range end is always set to today. I can’t find a way to filter for all pictures taken in September 2007 for example.

You may be saying, “But my folders are already sorted by date.” Well, yes, but that is Folders. What if you have a Folder called Christmas and every year, you put your Christmas day photos in there? That Folder will be sorted according to the date of the Folder which is usually the same as the earliest picture within the folder. (see article: How Folders get Dated)