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Project Stargate: "Always On" Skype video connection between remote offices

UPDATES:  Stargate is Live! | Also, see SimpleGeo's Implementation

We recently expanded PointAbout from its office in Washington DC, opening a new office for AppMakr in San Francisco (as an aside - interesting personal-interest story about the move here).

One problem with geographic separation is that the people in the other office are very abstract.  You might see work coming from them in the form of code, releases, email, etc., but it's very hard for the actual people between offices to make a connection.  And that inter-personal connection is very important to us as a company, so I set out to figure out a way to solve it.

My co-founder Sean aptly named this project "Project Stargate," after the science fiction Stargate movie in which shortcut paths to the Universe are opened up through a round, glowing portal (really wanna geek out?  More details on Stargate here), so the name has stuck.

I'll be adding to this blog as we figure things out, and I'd really like to have your thoughts in the comments section below, especially if you've done any work to solve this problem (any Y Combinator startups out there working on this vexing issue?).   Just to be clear, we all have AIM, or Gtalk, or Skype call & video chat abilities - that's not the problem.  The problem is that to initiate a call or IM chat requires effort.  And while it may be a very small, minimal amount of effort, nonetheless it's effort, which means that the magical moments where someone turns to another person and says "hey, I have an idea" or "can you look at this for me" are lost.  And that's really, really significant.  Since effort is required to establish a connection, the serendipitous connections are lost.  That's what I'm trying to bring back through "Project Stargate".

iPad 2 Keyboard Shootout: Finding the best keyboard

On LifeWeTravel

My requirements may be different than yours.  I wanted something that maintains the iPad's slim profile as much as possible, has some element of style to it, and most importantly, allows me to type well -- ideally as well as I can on my 15" Macbook Pro laptop.  Additional "nice to haves" were the ability to keep my Apple iPad magnetic screen cover and a good set of function keys on the keyboard.  One intriguing keyboard that I didn't test is the TouchFire keyboard concept on Kickstarter, which is a flexible keyboard that interfaces directly with the iPad's on-screen keyboard.  When it comes out, I'll give it a shot as well.

I tested five bluetooth iPad keyboards and found one I really liked:  The Logitech Keboard Case for the iPad 2.  The keyboard is actually one made by ZAGG, with Logitech branding the device.  I time-tested all five bluetooth keyboards against the iPad's on-screen keyboard and against the Macbook Pro, by typing a block of text on each device and timing how long it took.  The text doesn't make total sense, but I wanted something that required numbers, special characters, and copy/pasting.

First, here's a video of the setup process:

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