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Post image for Tired of Coordinating Arrival Times or Notifying If You’ll Be Early or Late? Use Twist! App Walkthrough & CEO Interview

As a parent in a busy family of 5 with 3 kid schedules to coordinate, activities galore and timing managed literally down to the minute, I have often felt a bit overwhelmed trying to let everyone know when I would arrive for a pickup or where I was en route to a variety of destinations. You can’t text while you drive and sometimes it isn’t convenient to get calls or bug people by calling them to let them know that you are running late. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an app that knows where you are going, when you will arrive and notifies all interested parties on your ETA? And do it all automatically in the background? Well there is! It’s called Twist. It’s free. And it’s fantastic!

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Honestly, I thought that if I got another phone call or text saying “Where you at?” one more time, I was going to lose my mind. Now, Twist is so ingrained in my family’s lifestyle, we use it as a verb: “Can you Twist me?” or “Don’t forget to Twist us!”

I will go into some of the functionality that makes Twist such an essential smartphone application for parents and kids (actually, this app is for anyone who plans meetings with other people…uh, that would be just about everybody!) After the functionality walk-thru, be sure to read my interview with Twist co-founder & CEO, Bill Lee.

The Art of Twisting

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Post image for How To Configure Location-Based Reminders on the iPhone with iOS5

I kept hearing about how with iOS 5, you could set up Reminders that would trigger when you arrived or left a particular location. It’s a pretty neat concept. You can program in an address, like your work, and set up a series of to-dos that magically remind you when you are geographically near that location. Or perhaps, you are at a vacation home and need to have a checklist pop up as you leave the location (e.g., did you check to be sure the hot tub was set to low). It’s a smart use of GPS technology to let your brain focus on other items at hand.

So I was very excited to set up some shopping lists that would pop up when I arrived at my local supermarket. Only, I had a problem, I couldn’t figure out how to put in the additional geo-location details to my to-do’s or reminders (and I’m supposed to be good at this stuff). After a bit of digging, I figured it out (and I’m a bit surprised that Apple seemed to bury this functionality into the app).

Here are the steps to create and configure a Location-based reminder:

1) Create a new Reminder. Remember, choose an iCloud-related list. I tried to do this with a Task list that was synced with my Outlook/Exchange profile and the location setting does not show.

HTD-iOS-location-reminder1

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Post image for Ooma VoIP Adds Innovative Feature to Assist in 911 Notifications

Today, I learned that Ooma, a VoIP company who I recently reviewed, has added a pretty interesting feature to their telephony service. In the past, there has always been a bit of a question around the reliability of 911 calls using a phone service that uses an Internet connection for it “digital dialtone”. Advances have been made and now most VoIP services include Enhanced 911 service; the “Enhanced” part means not only is the caller ID sent to emergency services, but also the full address associated with the caller’s phone number, and the call is routed to the nearest Public Safety Answering Point.

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But Ooma’s announcement today is not around Enhanced 911, a service that they have long had, but around adding more value to their customers that do need to call 911. Starting today, you can now add up to 3 email addresses or text numbers to the “My Ooma” online control panel within the 911 section. These addresses or numbers are used to notify key people should 9-1-1 be dialed on the subscriber’s Ooma phone. The configured text numbers or email addresses will be notified automatically when 9-1-1 is called. This is in addition to the call made to emergency responders.

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This service does require you to be on the Ooma Premier plan, something that I definitely recommended in my review. The plan costs $9.99/month and you can pre-pay for a year for an additional discount. Ooma does also offer a “free” service where the only cost that you pay is the tax on the line.

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I have received an advanced copy of the release notes coming from Plaxo’s next build (build 479) slotted to be release any moment now. My previous post discussed some issues that Plaxo was having with Leopard and a timeline for a fix to be released. As indicated, the first round of bug fixes is coming out the door (today?) with more substantial fixes and feature releases coming in the next few months.

Without further ado, here are the release notes (as of this writing, not yet posted on Plaxo’s mac release notes page).

v479

  • Added new options to Plaxo menu item
  • Improved error handling if Plaxo is not able to read saved iCal sync data
  • Removed Plaxo menu from Address Book menu (no longer required)
  • Enabled Plaxo Dock in Apple Address Book (for Leopard)
  • Added support for URL field for calendar events
  • Added validity check to ensure that events and calendar references are good
  • Fixed syncing of Groups when they are un-ommited from sync preference control
  • Added sync support for address formatting
  • Fixed link for changing communication preference in Click To Connect
  • Fixed problem with Plaxo member identification in Click To Connect button in Apple Mail
  • A new ‘Me’ card will now be created in the Address Book if ‘Me’ card sync is enabled and no existing card is present in the Apple Address Book
  • Some minor text layout improvements in Plaxo’s Address Book dock for some localized versions
  • Enabled Calendar folder mapping in Advanced setup (except for Leopard which will be fixed in next release)
  • Fixed code handling auto-start of Plaxo at login-time (for Leopard)
  • Fixed problem where empty “work” address was being created in Address Book – added cleanup code to fix affected entries

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Mac: Plaxo working on Leopard issues, Fixes due soon

October 31, 2007

The dust is still settling with recent Leopard upgrades on the Mac and some issues and incompatibilities are starting to surface. As I recommended in a previous post, you should try to update all of your Applications prior to installing Leopard, however, this practice is also good AFTER you do the upgrade. One program that […]

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