Truly Trulia

July 29, 2010

I’m on the road, and I see a house I like. I check or on my Palm Pre smartphone. And I don’t like what I see.

I don’t like the house? No, that’s not what I meant. I don’t like how Realtor and HomeDatabase’s websites appear on my smartphone. To my dismay, these two web leaders in home searches are not optimized for smartphones such as the Palm Pre / Pixi, iPhone, or various Android phones. Even up-and-coming contender does not have a mobile version. Rather, their webpages are the full version, which can still be seen on these smartphones but are bulky and slow to use. No fun while looking at potential houses on the road.

So it’s truly a relief to discover logo automatically displays its mobile version on smartphones, and the web version is jam-packed with features. To begin with, you can either do a simple search using a zip code / city name, or an advanced search with a good number of criteria. It even provides a list of neighborhoods that’s automatically configured for the city (not zip) you provide. And you can sort the resulting list different ways, including most expensive to least expensive, newest listings first, and more.

Trulia advanced search (1/2)

Trulia advanced search (2/2)

You can search for homes for sale or for rent, and Trulia displays the results either as a list (including a pic of the exterior of the home) or as a map. The map doesn’t seem to be zoomable in the mobile version, though. Selecting a home displays its details, photos, and a map of where the home is. It even displays how long the home has been on the market, recent sales information on the home and whether the sale price has been reduced (and from what) – a very useful feature! details details photo view

You can create a “My Trulia” account – again via the mobile version – and save specific searches as well as your “favorite” listings. A nice touch for when you do repeated searches over time for new listings, and you can save favorite homes for easy reference later.

Obligatory feedback: I wish there was a way to search for homes near a specific address rather than within a town or zip code. And when viewing all pictures (rather than individual ones), it’d be nice to be able to customize the thumbnails so that they can be larger.

So, there you have it, folks. I recommend for its mobile site, and the full web version also holds its own versus its more established competitors.

Obligatory pun time: truly shines.

San Francisco continues to keep up its uber-geek credo: it will now accept complaints from people via Twitter.   Just follow @SF311. Can even post photos via TwitPic.

Damn.  This is terrific for deaf folks living in or visiting San Francisco.  Hope Frederick, Maryland will do the same soon.  I do know that several city and county commissioners in and around Frederick, MD are tweeting via Twitter.  But an official Twitter account like @SF311?  Priceless.

Any other towns / cities / counties accepting complaints via Twitter?

(Thanks, TechCrunch)

Barnes and Noble has acquired Fictionwise, which owns   The acquisition is part of Barnes and Noble’s strategy to open an e-Bookstore later this year.

This looks like an attempt to fend off’s Kindle-inspired expansion into the possibly lucrative e-book market. has been selling Kindle hand-held electronic readers to sync and read electronic books, and recently unveiled an iPhone version which should prove to be hugely popular.

I have been purchasing e-books from for several years now — heck, I *ONLY* read e-books nowadays.   People may think I’m crazy for reading e-books on my comparatively tiny Palm Treo 755p screen, but believe me, once you get used to it, it’s hard to live without it!  I read in the elevator, I read while walking to a restaurant near work, I read on the train, I read in bed, I read while standing in line …   I read so much that if I had paper copies of all the books I’ve read over the past several years, I would have filled up a small library! carries a good number of new releases, plus books written by some of my favorite authors.   Hard for me to run out of what to read from

However, I’d begun to be unhappy with  Despite the addition of a new (but slow!) mobile site and a iPhone app, the site had been stagnating.  I’m hoping that the Barnes and Noble acquisition will give it a much-needed boost, and that it will serve as a viable competitor to Amazon’s Kindle bookstore.  Especially since’s e-books can be read on a wider variety of smartphones than’s e-books.

Good move, Barnes and Noble.  Now, start advertising — you need to overtake’s headstart!

New Laptop, and Dang

February 20, 2009

My HP’s graphics card recently blew up, and so I had to buy a new laptop.  Because I mainly use it for digital scrapbooking and browsing the Internet, I decided not to buy a top-of-the-line laptop this time.  So, I bought myself a Gateway MD2614u with lots of bells and whistles for a cheap cheap price of $549 from Best Buy.  Awesome bargain.

And then I came across Laptop Logic, a website that evaluates and lists top laptops and news.  Dang, wish I saw this before I bought my new laptop!  Good thing it gave my new laptop’s series a good review.   Still, after seeing this list, I would’ve considered Lenovo and a couple other brands that I had previously ignored.  

And Laptop Logic has several interesting articles, like this one on the World’s Largest WebPage — which has a staggering 8.1 nonillion pixels.  I didn’t even know nonillion is a word (but interestingly enough, nonillion is still smaller than a googol).

I’m definitely checking Laptop Logic next time I (or a friend) plans on buying a laptop.

Don’t Use!

December 4, 2008

My dear mother just fell victim to a phishing scam from  As a result, was able to hack into and steal her entire contact list and email everyone on this list.  My mother had to email an apology to all her contacts.

Rather than explain what happened, I thought I’d reprint an edited version of her email.  It’s chock full of info — now I know where I got my Proud Geek-ness from!

Dear Friends,

I sent out an email two days ago, asking you to join and it seemed a little strange. I did some online searching and apparently this is some kind of phishing scam. Here are some links to information about the scam. You may want to alert your address book to the scam!­reunioncom-will-scrape-your-­address-book-then-spam-your-­contacts­reports/0/348/RipOff0348286.­htm

Here’s the information from this one:

This company should be banned from the Internet. Here’s what happened to me last week. First of all, let me explain that I have been a member of for about 5 years, and it is a very reputable site that does nothing illegal or objectionable.

So when I got an e-mail about in my Hotmail Inbox, I thought it was similar. WRONG! I signed up for the free service, and started typing information into my ‘Profile’, which was quite inclusive, although you could pick and choose what information to give. Here’s what they did: the idea is to keep you online long enough for them to get into your e-mail account and literally STEAL your entire CONTACTS LIST!

How do I know? Luckily, two of my best friends were online at the time, and one sent an e-mail, and one called me on the phone, asking me ‘what’s up with this invitation to join me on’ I hadn’t been on the site for more than 10 minutes and they had already hacked my e-mail!

Here’s what I did: I immediately deleted all the information I had typed in, logged out, and left the site, and my Firefox preferences prompted me to remove all my personal information from the previous session. It was too late, unfortunately, so I immediately contacted every single person on my Contacts List with a note of apology and explanation that I had been inadvertently, innocently been raided by this disgusting company before I had even finished my profile, and that in no way had I given them permission to contact my friends. I told every person to report the e-mail that they had received as a ‘Phishing Scam’ and then put the original message into their Junk Folder. and delete it.

(For those of you who don’t know what Phishing is, it’s a devious and much more effective cyber variation on the old ‘fishing expedition’ trick, wherein someone asks you a lot of personal questions in order to get something they want: your name, address, even your social security number, and then on to your whole ID.) Hotmail allows you to report any suspicious e-mail as a Phishing Scam; I don’t know about other sites, but Ã…OL makes it very difficult, it seems you can only put it in Spam,which still allows the perp to continue scamming other innocent people.

Anyway, after I did that, I went back into, and sure enough, all my info was still there. I searched around for a way to cancel my membership, and sure enough, the only way is to call the toll free number given, be put on hold forever, and only that after you navigate your way through endless prompts. I am so enraged at these people there is no way to express it. Since my info’s been out there, and even if my membership’s canceled, a whole lot of other people have it, I’ve been getting a lot of junk mail about ‘guess who’s looking for you’, ‘guess who’s got a crush on you,’ etc. etc. I trash them all.

This definitely should be a matter for the FCC, since they are using the Internet to steal people’s information nationwide, maybe even worldwide. Don’t fall for it under any circumstances. Join (((competitor’s name redacted))) instead: you’ll be glad you did.

A couple weeks ago, the latest Facebook craze was getting your (or your friends or enemies’) photos re-done at YearbookYourself. And now that fad’s gone, and we’ve got a new fad.

At YearbookYourself, happy campers put their face (beautiful or otherwise) into different photos from the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s. Different apparel, hairstyles, and accessories through the decades can be seen, and people had a blast finding which hairstyle looked the funniest on these photos. And then folks made those photos their profile photos.

Here’s my favorite (thanks so much, Drago – I think!) — something from the 1980’s:

But YearbookYourself is so yesterday. Today’s new rage? FaceYourManga. You get to create a “comic-book” avatar using dozens upon dozens of tools — and it’s very likely that you’d be able to make an avatar that looks much like you. Or an unflattering one of your enemy.

Here’s my avatar. I absolutely love it.

By the end of the week, FaceYourManga will be so yesterday too. What’s tomorrow? I don’t know – stay tuned …

(Thanks, Adam and Drago, for pointing me toward this!)

Folks who really know me know I’m a voracious e-reader.  I read on the train, I read in the car (sometimes while waiting at red lights!), I read while walking from the elevator to my office, I read in the (ahem) bathroom, I read while folding the laundry, I read just about everywhere.  I read a book or two a week, even with two young daughters – quite an achievement.

I don’t buy paper books anymore – that’s so NOT twenty-first century, and besides, I’ve already got too many paper books.  Rather, I buy them all via eReader and then read them on my Palm Treo 755p.  Ereader keeps a virtual library (called bookshelf) of books for me under my membership (I shiver at the thought of it going bankrupt), and when I’m finished with a book I can just make it go *poof* away in a shower of electronic electrons.  Via this site, I can buy many of the same current books that I see in my local bookstore, written by Stephen King, James Patterson, Stephenie Meyer (which I’m reading now), Nora Roberts (which I LOVE!), Cecil deMille, and many more.  Too bad Harry Potter ain’t available via eReader, tho.

One major gripe I had was that the eReader website was not ideal for use via my Treo’s web browser.  Each page took foreever to load, and it always looked clunky on my relatively small Treo screen.  This seemed counter-intuitive, because after all, eReader books were being read on mobile devices — and I’d buy many of my books via eReader while on the train or subway or at the airport.

No more.  eReader added a mobile site at  Hurrah!  Here, I can view my bookshelf, browse books, make purchases, and make changes to my account.  In sum, it seems identical to what I can do on the larger eReader website.

Thanks, eReader, for adding this feature.

Face it. You’ve been at plenty of parties and gatherings where you’ve found yourself in a sticky situation. Maybe you’re at a party and you want to approach a certain attractive someone yet you don’t want to use a pilthy opener. Or you want to network with someone at a conference but you need a good way to introduce yourself.

MixonMixers has made sticky situations even more sticky!

Wait, let me explain. At some parties and nearly all conferences / workshops, participants wear name-tags. Instead of just having one’s name (and business / agency info), how about affixing a small sticker with a graphic showing what kind of personality or interest you have? Perhaps a Spock graphic showing that you’re a true-blue Trekkie, a peace symbol sticker for down-to-earth folks, a Hogwarts sticker just for the heck of it, or a Shrek sticker revealing your inner child. That way, other people would get a glimpse of what kind of person you are just by looking at your name-tag, and conversations would be begun much more easily.

That’s the entire premise behind MixonMixers. At MikonMixers, the host(ess) can select from thousands of different icons (or even design her/his own or hire others via the webpage to design them!) and then order dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of sheets of different icons. Then s/he can distribute them to participants at parties or conferences. Nice!

Pricing seems a bit steep and may be a bit confusing at first. It charges a declining rate depending on how many hundreds of sheets you order and how many icons you put on these sheets. For example, MikonMixers charges $1 per sheet (and a $9 set-up fee) of 21 different stickers when you order just 1-99 sheets, 90 cents (with no set-up fee) per sheet for 100-249 sheets, and so on.

Be sure to give yourself enough time when ordering this for your next event. Up to 7 business days are required for shipping small orders, and longer for larger orders.

Go forth and create sticky situations!

I use Weather Underground (Wunderground for short) as my source for all weather-related info. Most of its weather info is free, and for a low low yearly fee of $10 you can get access to more services like longer animations, no ads, and a few other goodies.

I’m a freak for radar maps. I love checking radar maps and seeing if any storms are coming, trying to predict how long it would be before it starts to rain (or, heaven willing, snow!) in my area, how severe the storm may be, etc. etc. I’ve been quite disappointed with most of the radar maps out there, even on Wunderground … Until I came across a new Weather Underground feature: WunderMaps.

(Click on the image for a larger view)

WunderMap Screenshot

This feature uses zoomable / moveable Google Maps as its underlying map. Since Google Maps is my favorite mapping application, this is already a big plus in Weather Underground’s favor. There are a good variety of options and settings with different animation options (and don’t forget, you get even more options and longer animations if you pay the low low $10 yearly fee), including:

  • NEXRAD satellite data, with adjustable opacity, number of animation frames (up to 6 if non-paying, up to 15 if paying member), adjustable frame delay, and off/on storm tracks.
  • Weather station data, with options for various weather-related information
  • Severe storm warnings
  • Webcams (nice!)
  • More satellite data (I presume on the cloud cover versus NEXRAD data which only displays precipation info)
  • USGS river information, including water flow, flood stage, and other info
  • Model data showing pressure, accumulated precipitation, different models, and much more
  • Hurricane data
  • Fire data, including fires in the area as well as smoke cover

To find the WunderMap for your town, enter the zip code of your town in the search box at the top and then click on the “WunderMap” link.

If you think your favorite online weather radar gives better info, let us know in the comments!

Some trivia: Weather Underground, for some reason, took its name from a radical leftist organization from the 1960’s and 1970’s which incited at least one riot and bombed several buildings (including the U.S. Capitol, Pentagon, and U.S. Department of State). Don’t you love a website on the fringe? Uh, not …

Some screenshots of the various WunderMap options:

Facebook makes it easy for people to find and contact you. Now, the question is, do you want them to find you? Fortunately, there’s a Facebook page where you can make changes to whether non-friends can find and contact you.

If you go to the Facebook Search Privacy page, you’ll see a range of settings. You can set who can find you via the search box on Facebook (everyone, your networks, friends of friends, friends, and/or custom). You can turn off the “public search listing” that shows up in Google (!!) — I forgot about that one myself. And you can turn on or off several settings for how people can view or contact you; whether they can see your picture, send you a message, add you as a friend, and/or view your friend list. (I didn’t realize my “view your friend list” was still checked! I’m gonna uncheck it right now.)

See screenshot below.

Facebook Search Privacy

Now, go forth and make yourself invisible to non-friends if you want!

This is part of an on-going series of posts on Facebook privacy.  See related posts on photo albums, profile page, and search options.

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