FixYa’s new iPhone app lets you ask repair questions on video

Are you lost for words when dealing with the inner workings of common household appliances? Then you might want to check out FixYa’s new iPhone app, which gives users the option to record their problems in video, so they don’t have to write about “that thing.”

Xmas Cleanup: Where to Recycle Your Old Gadgets

It’s that time of year again: time to get rid of your old, busted or just plain out-of-date gadgets, cell phones and computers to make way for your brand spanking new ones. Here some new, old and innovative ways to do it:

Don’t toss that old UMPC, make it a portable Linux device!

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Frequent commenter and fellow mobile enthusiast, TaxMan wrote something interesting on his blog and it coincides with something I pointed out earlier today. Namely: we have so many more portable device choices than we did a short time ago. Instead of selling his original Samsung Q1 UMPC, TaxMan decided to take the Linux plunge, something I did with Ubuntu in 2006 with mixed results.It just goes to show you what a little Googling and elbow grease can do. TaxMan has the Gutsy Gibbon release of Ubuntu installed and unlike my failed efforts, he has the touchscreen working as well!“After much tweaking and re-reading of the instructions I posted in an earlier post, I got the touchscreen working. The callibration isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough for onscreen navigation and light text entry using the on-screen keyboard.”He has links to the instructions right on his site and he now has his Sierra Wireless 875U AirCard working as well. If this type of solution appeals to you, you’ll want to hit up his recent posts for the info. Nice job!

5 Sites That Want Your Janky Gadgets

Amidst the flurry of carbon credits, lead-free electronics and green everything, the truth of the matter is that folks who are truly green don’t buy a lot of stuff. But that’s no way to push products, so we’re stuck with greenwashing. The technology industry is as guilty of this as anyone, but at least it’s also providing online communities and services aimed at keeping consumption down and recycling activities up. Here’s our handy guide to web sites devoted to electronic reuse and recycling:

FixYa — This site is made up of a community of users who can help people figure out what’s wrong with their appliances and digital gadgets, and hopefully get them back up and running, avoiding the pain and ecological damage of a trip to the landfill. FixYa recently raised $6 million to keep it up and running.

Partstore.com — Don’t want to throw it away, but you’re missing a key part? Head to Partstore.com, where you can find everything from old washing machine knobs to replacement bulbs for your televisions. It looks like customer reviews of the site are pretty uneven, so I’d keep the orders small, for now.
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DEMO 2008: TimeDriver for One-to-One Appointment Scheduling

timetrade-logo.pngThere are already web applications focused on scheduling meetings between a bunch of participants including ScheduleOnce, Tungle, iKordo, Jiffle (formerly iPolipo), and others. Helpful if you have 4 or 5 people who need to meet at the same time and you want to narrow in on consensus.

TimeDriver, a new application making its debut at DEMO today, is designed for folks who have to make multiple one-on-one appointments with different people across pre-determined available blocks of time.

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Google Desktop for Mac OS X Released

picture-1.png Finally, one less reason to use my Windows laptop at work.

Late last night, Google released the long-awaited Mac OS X version of their popular Google Desktop application, enabling Mac users to break away from Apple’s bundled Spotlight application and use the familiar Google interface to search local documents, e-mail, Web history and GMail archives from their Web browser. While the PC version, out for more than 30 months already, is more full-featured, including Widgets and a Dock-like news sidebar, the Mac version of Google Desktop offers the same level of index and search functionality.

Available from Google’s Mac software downloads page, the software is, as you would expect, very easy to get going. Download the .dmg file, expand it and click the application installer. The Google Updater application will download the needed application, and start the process of indexing. In addition to installing in your Applications folder, Google Desktop offers you a menubar icon and the option of installing in the Dock.

Then, the app really goes to work, crawling your local hard drive as if it were the World Wide Web. Almost three hours into the process, my own PowerBook hard drive is still crunching away, and the index reports more than 50,000 files are indexed so far. But from the very first file, you can search from Google Desktop – either by hitting the Command key twice in succession to bring up a floating app bar, or by selecting “Open Desktop Homepage” from the menubar icon. The desktop homepage button looks like Google.com, only with your Desktop being one of the available resources to query.

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Floating Toolbar Search for the Term Backup

Instead of search results from Web sites around the globe, Google Desktop segments your own local results into categories of “E-mail”, “Web history”, “files”, “media” and “other”. In the two-plus years I’ve used the PC version, e-mail is 90% of what I search, with “files” taking the other 10%. Of course, that’s mainly because Microsoft Outlook doesn’t have the excellent search functionality already present in Apple’s Mail, and tons of .PST fields can be a beast, but I digress.

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Google Indexing in Progress: Status

For me, I find Spotlight isn’t as intuitive as Google Desktop, and keyword searching is comparatively arduous. Google Desktop for the Mac is one of the very few applications available for Windows and not Mac that I’d really wanted, and it’s finally here. Download it today, and you’ll wonder how you functioned without it.