August 26, 2008

Things to Do, Gadgets to Buy

By Carroll, Jim

I recently had two weeks when I wasn't scheduled to be on a plane going somewhere to give the keynote address at a conference for a large group of hungover people. (That's been my job description for the past 15 years.) That meant I had a bit of time on my hands. Well, not really - there was research to do, a book to write and preparatory work for the next round of events.

The challenge is, when there's lots of important stuff to be done, there are also lots of new tech toys that beckon (and purchases to be made). This, of course, freaks out my CA-trained wife who manages the home office.

"It's a business expense," I say, as I sneak in the latest contraption.

Everything seemed to culminate at once. First off the mark: I was the opening speaker for the launch of Virtualis, a convention center located in the online world Second Life. I gave a 30-minute keynote presentation with slides, then a 10-minute Q&A with the audience. It was a fascinating experience, given that meeting planners and various association executives from around the world were participating.

I closed my session with a live video feed projected from my home office onto the screen in the virtual conference room. For that, I used my new webcam, and streamed out live using the services of Veodia, a new company that specializes in delivering webcam broadcasts to high-volume audiences.

The new webcam got me thinking about Skype, which I tried for video conferencing a few years ago. I decided that if I was going to respond to the interest in me coming from global markets, I might as well present myself appropriately. So I bought a telephone number in London, England, and one in Hong Kong (in addition to the Dallas number I already have) using the Skype-In service.

There is no end of excitement around the house now when we hear the Skype phone ring. "Dad, it might be Hong Kong!" yells my 15 year old. My contact page now features my new globalness. It's amazing to find the number of Americans who call my Dallas number rather than my Mississauga, Ont., line. In the flat world, image is everything.

I also went social, adding a bunch of "tag this,""add this" and "share this" buttons to my website. So when people find information they like on my blog, they can easily share it with friends on networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, on other blogs, via e- mail or any other method.

I particularly like the service, which lets people share to their hearts' delight. My blog has gone into a whole new dimension.

And, oh yes, the Mac juggernaut continues. (Readers' reaction to my May column, "A Mac made in heaven," was astounding-there are obviously a lot of Mac fanatics out there. See "Mailbox" p. 4) One little application, Picturesque, allows me to take a picture and easily add shadows, reflections and curves. It might not sound like much, but it sure adds visual impact to my blog.

We're also planning to do the entire layout and design for my next book on the Mac. Which means my beleaguered CA wife will likely have to get one, as she's been using my Mac laptop to get things ready. I suspect this will be a good thing, because my sons keep stealing my MacBook; they can take hers instead.

I've got to get back on the road soon, or I'm going to spend way too much money.






Jim Carroll, FCA, is a well-known speaker, author and columnist. Reach him at [email protected] or log on to his website at


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