Efiko Ringtone Maker for iPhone

Now that the hacking is done and the smoke has cleared, some upstart vendors are slanging the tools to get ringtones on your iPhone. iPhoneRingToneMaker - the aptly titled program from Efiko (who also do wallpapers for iPhone) does just that.  For 10 bucks.  

So if you want to leave the L33T hacking to the experts head over and try it out.  It is a 1.7 meg download for Windows users only.  If you see any, let them know.

The iPhone Shortcomings – the Whys, What to dos and What to Expects

Cracked iphone No one is saying that the iPhone isn’t sliced bread – it most certainly is. But it does have some shortcomings. Below we are going to break those down and postulate what will come of them.

  1. Battery. Not replaceable. Waaa!
    Why? Form over function. Apple being Apple here. Are any iPod’s batteries replaceable? Nope. Hurt sales? Probably not much.  But, “this is a phone” you say.  Have you seen how beautiful the iPhone is?  Yeah, sorry Apple isn’t going to give you a replaceable battery unless by replaceable you mean sending it in for repair, charging you $80 and risking data loss.
    What to do?  Grin and bear it.  One less thing to lose/flap to fall off.  The battery is pretty impressive if you consider you are looking at by far the best looking mobile screen ever.  IF you really need the extra power, buy some of the long play iPod external batteries, an extra USB charger and a car charger why not?  For the super paranoid there is even a solar charger you can build.  Scandinavia in winter?   bummer.
  2. No iChat.  OUCH.  Sidekick users are scratching their heads right now saying that 90% of their day is spent on AIM with their buddies and shooting off quick group sms’s, how on earth does this not exist on the best phone that ever existed in the univese?  No one knows for sure why this wasn’t included in the initial iPhone software release.  The application may not have been ready for the launch.  Also there is speculation that Apple is making money not just off every iPhone sold, but also every sms message sent.  An iChat application would cannabalize some of this revenue.  What to do?  Use any one of the WebChat apps temporarily.  They work but are extremely rudimentary – especially if you are used to rich mobile chat applications.  Apple will release a chat application soon.  They’d better.
  3. Screen Keyboard – no tactile feedback, #%@$ for sausage fingerers.  This is an issue that iPhone users and Apple can probably come to a happy compromise on.  It is true that you do get better with the keyboard if you learn to trust it – but it will never be as good as a real thumb board.  That being said, it would be nice to have the landscape keyboard available to use outside of just the web browser (you’ve spoiled us!)   Look for an update in the next few months which will allow you to do any of your typing from the landscape keyboard – across all applications, not just Safari.
  4. AT&T.  This is the monster Elephant in the corner of the room.  But it is so big that you are in the other corner and your head is still up its arse.
    There is not enough room to write all of the bad things that AT&T deserves to get, where to start?  Net Neutrality opponent.  Monopolizer.  Crappy phone support.  Horrible signal strength.  Gouging for international data.  Confusing bill.  Salespeople are poor/untrained/unhelpful/powerless to do anything effective/upsell parts….I could go on for paragraphs.  I am not saying that the other carriers are much better.  The real problem here is that there isn’t any competition.  I am sure Apple has some performance metrics built into the contract  with AT&T but frankly I don’t expect the AT&T side of the equation to be any good.  What to do?  Grab your ankles iPhone lovers!  AT&T and Apple are married for 5 years.  A couple of ways out:
    • deal with not having the phone portion of the device.  A real downer – especially without iChat.  
    • Get one in Europe – expensive and you have to wait until November but more options abound.
    • Hope that Wimax comes out sooner than planned, Apple shoves a Wimax chip into the iPhone and has a softphone application.  They could probably back out of the AT&T agreement that way
    • Um.  That’s pretty much it.  Sad.  I hate giving money to companies I despise.
  5. Crippled Bluetooth – again, Apple being Apple.  Keep it simple.  Thing is, I want stereo sound for my iTunes.  I want to use my iPhone as a modem for my other devices.  Look for Apple or someone else to do something really tricky like turning the iPhone into a Junxion box type of device.  Yes, it would sap your power but it makes more sense than DUN any day.  Also, expect Stereo Bluetooth (A2DP) via upgrade in the near future.
  6. EDGE – This isn’t as big a deal as it should be without Bluetooth DUN.  Apple has made some concessions – like crappy Youtube while on EDGE as well as having a solid web browser that omits flash content and auto-compresses images (not sure about htis one – I know AT&T does this).  The big problem with mobile phone TCP/IP is the latency which doesn’t improve with HSDPA.  Still, Jobsy would have had to have a good reason not to throw in 3G.  Price?  Naw there is plent of room left in the iSuppli numbers.  Here’s a new one: Maybe he’s actually telling the truth.  Maybe it drains the battery.  My Nokia N95 dies in about an hour of using 3G and it doesn’t have a 3 inch screen to feed.  Or maybe AT&T doesn’t want a million Apple fanboys watching Harry Potter on You Tube over 3G on their network.  Unlimited data gets a lot more unlimited with 3G.  Well played Apple.
  7. Email – No email program is going to please all of the people all of the time, however, here are a great many problems with the mail client.  Surprisingly(for Apple) a lot of them are aesthetic.  The menus for having more than one account are so redundant.   Also, why no calendar invite support?  Landscape keyboard?  Long story short, all of these will be upgrades.  Patience.  Who are we talking about here?  Are they going to let overcomplicated software exist in their products?  Not likely.

So there you have it.  The seven most severe iPhone shortcomings and what’s likely to become of them.  Can you think of anything else?

iPhone Revolution? (part 1)

Perhaps Steve Jobs is right? He’s been right before…actually a few times come to think of it…

steve iphone Steve Jobs told Apple employees before the introduction of the iPhone that they will get to tell their children and their children’s children that they worked (long and hard) on a device that will go down in history as one of the milestones in technology evolution – then he hooked them all up with an iPhone.

You have to admit, he might be right – as well as generous.  And this isn’t just pure fanboyism talking.  Although that makes it all the easier.   What has changed in less than a month since the iPhone has been released?  Everything.

Phones are no longer phones.  They are computers. Of course they were always mini computers but now they are thought of differently.  Some of these computers are better than others.  The iPhone, though it does have tons of well publicized shortcomings, is far and away the best phone/computer that has ever been made.  There is nothing in its league.

But was it even Apple’s choice to go out and develop this whole new platform? Was this a natural evolution from the computer business or was it something that required a swift turn of the captain’s wheel – one like Bill Gates is famous for making at Microsoft when it became obvious to him that the Internet was, well, everything. It is apparent that at some point, the Apple management team said, “This laptop/desktop paradigm isn’t going to be around forever, we need to be working on the next big thing.” Add to that the landscape of seeing the success of mobile devices like the Blackberry and Sidekick which were starting to take away some of the roles of computers. Then throw in the proliferation of high speed wireless networks that are only going to become cheaper, faster and cover more ground. Finally, products like Nokia’s and Microsoft’s Tablet then UMPC’s start littering the landscape. What you have there is a recipe for change.

That’s all for now – continued soon!

So the CEO got an iPhone — now what's an IT staffer to do?


Another Computerworld article for y’all….

July 20, 2007 (Computerworld) With hundreds of thousands of iPhones flying off the shelves in the U.S. in the last three weeks — and numerous Apple stores reporting renewed shortages of the popular device — chances are good that IT staffers will be asked sooner or later to get an iPhone working on the corporate network. Given that Apple has a reputation for making consumer-focused products that — at least in the past — didn’t always play nice at work, most IT managers are likely skeptical of letting iPhones on their networks. Even without enterprise purchasing plans, a real keyboard and slow EDGE network speeds, the sheer form and function of this revolutionary piece of technology may soon have your management team pushing you to evaluate it for mass deployment.

Whether that new iPhone is company property or was bought by rogue employees, don’t panic. By following a few easy steps, IT staffers might find that iPhone can make their lives easier — and your colleagues (or boss) ecstatic.
Just follow these simple steps:

1. Lock down the iPhone. As your employees are going to be accessing corporate assets….

Read More at Computerworld!

Where Did All of the PCs Go? The Blue Skies IDC Q207 Figures for Apple Seem Low


Can these figures (also see bottom) be right? I mean yes it’s amazing Dell is tanking and where it is leaving the bargain basement PC market, HP is picking things up. Amazing is the wrong word. Boring is what I was looking for. 

The strange thing for me is that Apple is only at 5.6 percent.  Yes, Apple’s market share is increasing year over year at three times the industry average – which seems like very good news.  However, the 5.6% figure seems incredibly low considering my day to day observations.  I recently took a road trip from New York to Milwaukee with long stops in Cleveland and Chicago.  I saw Macintosh everywhere.  Even at rest stops along the highway.  A Cleveland Starbucks had three Macs for every PC and the AppleStore there was hopping (and this was pre-iPhone).  One of my parent’s friends had just got a Mac (and was of course asking for help with it).  In Chicago, the French Consulate had just rolled out Macs in the waiting area.  My wife’s family is like 95% Mac now where they had only PCs four years ago.  OK, I may have had something to do with that.  But Best Buy and what’s left of CompUSA are slanging Macintoshes like there is no tomorrow.

The global market, where Apple didn’t make the top five vendors and is probably sitting at 3%, is no different.  I work for an international governing body in Paris.  Sure, our office is mostly standardized on commodity PCs (yours truly, the Big Boss and one designer holdout notwithstanding).  However, more than a few employees including most of the management and IT staff use Macs at home and more frequently those machines are coming to work.

So what gives?

  1. Perhaps Macs are more visible?  People put their Macs on display and flaunt them whereas they seem to hide their PCs in the basement or in the closets.  Design is a big factor here.  How many offices have flashy new iMacs at the front of the office or with the receptionist but are running commodity machines in the back?
  2. Apple seems to have a much higher market share in the laptop market, where people tend to bring their computers with them and what other people tend to see more of.  I think Apple is at over 12 percent in the US, which is more than double its overall percentage.  Laptops are brought with people to lunches, airports, meetings, friends houses after school, college class, etc. etc. 
  3. Apple is strong in Education.  There is a lot of mixing and mingling in the education world so there are a lot more eyeballs on Macs porportionately speaking.  Also high school and college kids are “out there” in the cafes, coffee shops and libraries.  Those kids are also the trend setters so what they do often get noticed more than your average Joe on the street.  As an example, my Master’s degree program was 90% Mac.  So much so that the people with PCs were sometimes embarrassed to be using them.
  4. Hollywood has always been Mac-addicted – to the point that I do a doubletake whenever I see a PC on the screen.  This has been the case since Seinfeld had the Mac and bizarro Jerry had the PC.  So perhaps my brain is factoring all of these views into my calculation of real life figures.
  5. Apple advertises like crazy.  Mostly iPods and iPhones obviously but still, seeing that Apple logo everywhere has to be messing with my mind.
  6. Speaking of iPhones, do they count?  What about the new iPods?  They will all run OSX, right?  80GB of storage?  That’s a high end PC a few years ago.  Probably not.  But those things are everywhere! 
  7. I am mostly in Apple’s strongholds.  Most of my time is spent in Paris – a city with an abnormally high priority on aesthetics and art.   The results of my
    super-informal study are limited to my immediate surroundings – typically IT savvy, urban,
    liberal, big city with the 20-35 year old crowd.  I have the same issue
    finding George Bush voters too – but that is for another website.

So I guess 5.6% of the US PC market is good.  Most likely Apple will soon be the #3 (#1 in my heart Apple – who loves ya?!) computer maker behind HP and Dell as they have almost surpassed Gateway and are on a upward trajectory.   The world is catching on too.  Apple Stores are opening all around the World and more and more people are being exposed to this ridiculously great alternative to Windows.  

Will Apple’s market share ever meet the shadow it casts over the industry?  Probably not, I guess it depends  who is counting.

Top 6 Vendors, United States PC Shipments*, Second Quarter 2007
(Units Shipments are in thousands)





























































All Vendors






Universal Binary Microsoft Remote Desktop Client Nears Release

Remote desktop

The Mac Mojo Blog (otherwise known as the place where Microsoft Business Unit tells its Macintosh customers to wait just a bit longer) has made mention of an upcoming update.  The beta version of the Remote Desktop.app will be with us by the end of July according to poster CraigE.  

The current 1.03 version was released way back in 2004 – which was a pretty solid product (Remember it worked on Intel before Apple Remote Desktop :P).  What have they been doing during these last 3 years?  Big stuff!

“Like what,” you ask?  Well there is no mention of any new features but it will be a universal application so it will run a bit faster on Intel machines.

The first feature request that came to my mind was multiple sessions (like all other Remote Desktop clients).  Or how about VNC compatibility?  Or even better cutting and pasting between machines…I mean it has been 3 years right? I am not alone if you look at the comments section of the blog post.

In reality, this is just another example of Microsoft doing just enough to get by on the Mac platform but not enough to make their products as good as they are on the PC – which might make sense and be a good business model for Microsoft.  Will this change?  No.  Should you look elsewhere?  Yes.   

CoRDIf you really want a good Windows remote desktop, try an open source project like CoRD

I think commenter Harvy Dent  said it best:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 4:03 AM by Harvey Dent
# re: Coming soon


Intel's New Processors Bound for iMacs on August 7th?

On the 10th anniversary of Bill Gates’ appearance at Macworld in Boston (On the huge Orwellian 1984 screen behind a presenting Steve Jobs), Apple plans on finally unveiling the upgraded iMacs that were originally slated for release during WWDC 2007. It is not known, (outside of Apple of course) if this date was chosen for any historical significance. Additionally, many sources have indicated that new Video iPods will also be announced. This is obviously timed in conjunction with the incredibly important back-to-school shopping season.

What seems to be known about the iMacs is that they will support a brand new metal enclosure which is much more sleek (under 2 inches thick) than the previous revision and lose much of their “chin”. Contrary to popular belief (that the 17 inch version was a goner) they will be available in 17, 20 and 24 inch varieties. The keyboard is also redesigned to be much more mobile and gain additional media controlling functionality (remote control anyone?) – oh and it is RAZOR thin. This will be something designed more for the living room or family room (or bedroom or dorm room) than the office. It would also make sense that Apple would include the fastest processor available in an enclosure this small – likely Intel’s new Core 2 Extreme Mobile that was just announced. It would further make sense that some form of High Definition optical disk technology (HD-DVD or Blue Ray) will be included, however, these details can’t be confirmed.
Read on for more info….

6G ipodAlso arriving on or around August 7th will most likely be the next revision of the video iPods. Sources indicate that these video iPods will have an almost one inch shorter appearance than current models – which account for the removal of the regions between the click wheel and the screen and the click wheel and the bottom of the iPod. A mock up is pictured at the right. ——>

Some sources have also indicated that the Black Matte version of the Video iPod will also be “less shiny and more MacBooky”.

The Nano line is also due for a revision update sometime in the near future (the current Nano back to school promotion ends Sept 16th?) Details are still emerging about how much functionality the new devices will have but the new aspect ratio would seem to indicate that these devices will have the ability to play video. The storage of the devices is not known but bumping them up to sizes larger than the iPhone (16GB?) might be a psychological barrier that Apple doesn’t want to break.

For a release of this magnitude, Apple usually holds an event. No announcements have been made as of yet, but if there is an event, we can pretty much promise that Bill Gates won’t be showing up.

Edit: Hilarious comments. We take a design award winning 5.5G iPod, stretch it out just a bit (bigger screen) and eliminate the wasted spaces between the scroll wheel and the screen and the scroll wheel and the bottom. In Photoshop. Nothing else was touched. Now it is “burning people’s eyes out”.
So (design award winner) + bigger screen – wasted space = monstrosity.
Also, for the people who are losing their mind about the dock size change. I am sure apple will sell a 30 cent adapter (with a $10 markup) so that you won’t have to replace your precious Colby iPod dock.
EDIT EDIT One of our readers, Paul Ainsworth, has sent a much better mockup than my handywork…take a gander:

CUPS Purchase Makes Sense for Apple


News was released this week that the Open Source printing system that most UNIX, Linux and of course Macintosh systems use for printing was purchased by Apple. The CUPS system was developed as a successor to LPD in 1997 by Matthew Sweet . It has gained much of the printing marketshare since that point and many printer vendors include CUPS drivers with their printers out of the box.

Along the the CUPS purchase, Apple has hired Sweet to continue to develop the product and market it.

Filemaker 9 Adds a Few Things – Mostly Ho's and Hums

Filemaker Filemaker calls their new version 9 software “the most dramatic new product line in years“.  Reading down the list of 30 ease-of-use breakthroughs it’s hard to imagine how any of these breakthroughs will help me.

Don’t get me wrong, Filemaker is a great program that keeps getting better.  Much better than 4D or MS Access on the PC side.  IT is just that it seems like it may be attempting to make a mountain out of this molehill of a release.

Instead of trumpeting what amounts to some template and script updates, a “start screen”and and the ability to access external MySQL data, how about more on PHP integration, bringing the cost down or having a VMware image – just for starters.

New iMacs Coming in August?

ThinkSecretThinkSecret.com, probably the most accurate and informed of the Macintosh rumor sites, is reporting that the new metal iMacs are tracking for release in August, in time for the school buying season.  This makes a lot of sense in that a huge buying group for these machines are back-to-schoolers.

They mention two inch thickness and metal encasing which has been reported throughout the Macintosh rumor world…but this is the first we’ve heard about a release date.

Now I wonder if there is any news about the new square ipods we are hearing so much about….

O2 and Vodafone Could BOTH Get the iPhone

o2 The big news in the press this week is that Vodafone and then O2 are going to be the UK carriers of the iPhone. The prevailing tone is that it has to be one OR the other. However, where in the rules does it say that Apple can only pick one carrier for the UK?  Or Europe in general.

Apple chose AT&T only for the US but by all accounts had visited with Verizon and other carriers.  Perhaps only AT&T would give them the deal they desired.  Or maybe they made it so sweet that the other carriers decided to back out.  Who knows?

The only thing that is certain is that EDGE is much less prevelant in Europe and it is likely that the iPhone released for Europe will have HSDPA/UTMS support.

So why is everyone saying it must be Vodafone OR O2 when it could be  Vodafone AND O2?

iPhone 1.0 3G to be released November 1st according to Washington Post

The Washington Post is reporting that TMobile will carry the iPhone in Germany on November 1st. This is big news for a couple of reasons.

It means that Apple is probably going with the “National Carriers”  AT&T in the US (used to be a monopoly), Tmobile is Deutsche Telekom – the former government telecom.  So from this we can likely assume that Vodafone (or more likely O2) in the UK and Orange in France will also be exclusive iPhone carriers

The European release will be a 3G iPhone.  Why?  There is no EDGE in Europe.  Apple can’t release a slower phone in Europe that only does GPRS than the current model.  This also means that Apple will probably release a 3G iPhone in the US rather than have a “better” version floating around Europe.  

By then, the iPhone could also include GPS, better camera(s) and other hardware goodies.  The iPhone software suite will probably be rounded out at that point with iChat client (VOIP?), VLC client, simple image editing, etc.

This will be the true iPhone 1.0.  Though the current version isn’t so bad.