Amazon rocking iPhone and iPod Touch optimized site

Amazon has built an iPod/iPhone optimized site for the hordes of people who have been buying ipod touches on their site.  It isn’t overly functional but it works nicely.  The product scrolling is very cool as well.

You also have the ability to use the traditional browser experience to do your shopping inside the iPhone/iPod.

Amazon detects your browser type and adjusts the browser window accordingly.  They are also offering a generic mobile browser version of their site with considerably less functionality.

To get there, simply point your iPod/iPhone browser to


iPhone bands?

The idea of a band based on iPhones and Gameboys has probably come up often with all of the latest musical instruments available on hacked iPhones.  We are huge fans of iAno and  Gizmodo found an interesting little "iBand".  While the idea is good, the implementation leaves more than a little bit to be desired.  If you want to see how far this technology can go – check out LEMUR – the League of Musical Urban Robots.  Urban :P

Safari 3.1 will be FAST!

I just spent a few hours running tests on the latest version of WebKit for Computerworld.


The upcoming builds of WebKit/Safari are really realy fast.  The unoptimized WebKit is often twice as fast as the current standard Safari in page load times.  And Safari is supposed to be the fastest desktop browser out there!? 

According to the WebKit surfin’ Safari blog, the speed increases are largely due to Javascript handling improvements.

Whenever the new WebKit code gets pushed into Safari (soon?), you’ll notice these significant speed increases and possibly even more after the code is optimized.  Download the latest WebKit here, compiled for both Mac and even PC to get a preview or check the article for more results.

Oh and Firefox users (like myself) should also see similar speed  improvements in coming versions.

Interview: XBox Media Center hits the Macintosh scene

The XBox Media Center (XBMC) project was started as an alternative OS for the original modded XBoxes in 2002.  It has since grown into one of the most functional media center applications out there.

Last year it was ported to Linux and it was reborn as one of the best media centers for the platform, doing many things that Front Row/AppleTV and Windows Media center can’t do. 

Recently a team of programmers led by Elan Feingold decided that maybe an OSX version might have a he puts it, "it seems like it’s a

9to5Mac: That sounds like a lot of amazing stuff. What functionality are you working on now?

Elan: We don’t support DLL loading on OS X yet (or linux, that i know of), but we CAN. Note that the Xbox version of XBMC supported Windows codecs through DLL loading for "closed" formats like RealAudio, WMV etc. We can use and enhance the existing DLL loading code which comes from MPlayer. We are also working on full support for the Apple Remote and other popular remotes out there like the wireless XBox 360 controller, etc. We also want to get Python working as soon as possible. As more people join the project, more interesting things get picked up.

9to5Mac: Speaking of other devices, do you have any plans to port XBMC to the AppleTV?

Elan: Unless Apple opens up a SDK for the AppleTV, it is very unlikely that our core group will do so. We are all huge fans of Apple and are trying to stay on their good side. We’ve talked to a lot of people lately who say they went and picked up a Mac Mini for the sole purpose of running the XBMC. Hopefully we are putting some money into Apple’s coffers for developing such a great operating system and hardware combination.

9to5Mac: (plays devil’s advocate) Why not just put XBMC on a cheap ShuttlePC with Linux and let it be the sole application? XBMC would appear to be almost everything you need in a mediacenter PC.

Elan: I happen to think OS X is a much better platform for XBMC than Linux. It’s got great OpenGL support and in the long term, desktop Linux (in my opinion) just hasn’t stuck. People who love Unix are moving to OS X. My grandmother is moving to OS X…and what better looking HTPC is there than the Mac Mini?
Oh, and Linux probably has more OpenGL driver issues. Ultimately, though, as compared to the original Xbox version, I think there is use for an OS. For example, you can install some headless bittorrent client, ssh into it, or put whatever you want there to work along side XBMC. Those little boxes that just turn on and run a media center as firmware are ultimately limiting.

9to5Mac: You mentioned BitTorrent. Are there plans to include other media-centric applications like a Vuze, Sling Client, Joost, or EyeTV support?

Elan: I think there are some interesting things going on with Bittorrent in the field right now. I am focussed on Mac support so I can’t say specifically what is coming up. Those other applications are great reasons why you want a full OS underneath the media center. Again, it is an open platform, if you want to build it in, you are welcomed to – a bit of Python code later and you’ve got it.

9to5Mac: That brings us to the XBMC team itself, how have you found the team, the code, and the atmosphere?

Elan: It was highly intriguing to be brought into their inner circle. The XBMC code is top-notch, compared to lots of other open source products i’ve worked with. It’s well written by smart people who know what they’re doing…and "pike", the project manager boss-man does a really nice job of managing the project – something that’s lacking with lots of other open source projects.

9to5Mac: Cool, that really comes through in the buzz around the project and the quality of the product. One last thing. The name. It seems like it would be a big turnoff for Mac-heads and even Linux people. You’ve moved pretty far away from the XBox, any chance we’ll see a catchier name in the future?

Elan: There has been talk around the water cooler. Nothing yet to report on that.

9to5Mac: Thanks for your time Elan! We’ll let you get back to work. Or you can eat breakfast while we go to sleep…

If you wish your Mac could do a lot more and/or want an alternative to Apple’s iTunes/AppleTV/Front Row, check it out: Download

Although, it is only version 0.1, you can already see the awesome potential that this system has. 

From the site:

XBMC Project Background 









OS X Port Background 




  • Goal: To provide the best media platform for the best computing platform. While XBMC has been the platform of choice for hardcore mediaphiles for many years, the fragile, underpowered, and discontinued (!) Xbox platform running unsanctioned code is driving the desire for new and more open platform support. The power and media-friendly nature of OS X combined with the powerful, attractive and affordable Apple hardware that is available make XBMC on OS X a truly perfect match. The current crop of commercial and open source media center options for personal use are either simply too difficult to use, lacking critical features, completely proprietary and closed, or simply too immature to be attractive for today’s living room and personal media enjoyment.
  • The port is initially focused on core XBMC functionality, including rich video, music and photo support. The port is currently targeting only Leopard on Intel hardware
  • The port will eventually add features that OS X users have come to expect from quality Mac applications, such as support for auto-updates, Growl integration, the Apple Remote, and many other features under consideration.
  • 12 December 2007: OS X Port first announced.
  • 4 February 2008: First drag and drop DMG package available with core features in a mostly working state (v.1).




Community Interest  




  • Official XBMC OS X User+Dev Forums: 50,000+ views since 12/12/2007
  • Official OS X XBMC Port homepage: 20,000 page views since 1/16/2008, now averaging around 2,000 vs




Current Status (Working features)




  • Working sitings on current (Intel) Mac Mini, iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro (X3100 graphics hardware DOESN’T play video).
  • Audio
    • MP3
    • OGG
    • AAC
    • FLAC
    • MPC
    • Project M support for audio visualization
    • Playlists
  • Videos
    • Playing (AC3/DTS digital passthrough is supported, analog downmixing is not working)
    • Full-screen support (XBMC with 1080P support that just works!)
  • Photos
    • Viewing, browsing, slideshows
  • XBMC Core App
    • Full
      UI working
      (minus on-screen keyboard weirdness)
    • Networking
    • Full-screen
    • Video thumbnails, IMDB, AllMusic lookups





Next Milestones





  • Port of Python scripting support
  • Add official OS X port remote control options/support
  • AC3/DTS mixdown support
  • Port of XBMC Virtual File System features (SMB, FTP, UPNP, etc.) 




Contact Info









Battling iPhone

Edit: This is the first in a series of four articles on Battling iPhone’s GSM Buzz. A solution to this issue is described in the fourth installment.

I wanted to share this experience with the  9to5Mac readers, because I thought that many of you might be in a similar situation. Like many happy new iPhone owners this summer, I immediately set up my iPhone dock on my desk and plugged it into my Mac. I’d had a GSM phone before, so I was well aware of GSM buzz. My old T-Mobile/Nokia rig would drive my crappy Logitech speakers nuts in the seconds before I would receive a call. It was never much of an issue, though, because unlike the iPhone, I charged the Nokia phone in the other room, away from the computer speakers.

As you know, the iPhone is different. Syncing and charging require docking the thing, and so the GSM buzz in the speakers is a fact of life when I’m working at my desk. And it seems to occur more often than it did with my old phone (probably something to do with it being docked to a firewire cable, which could be a conduit for the radio signal).

I got annoyed enough with the buzz-buzz-buzz of my Logitechs that I started to look into  properly-shielded speakers. I’ve now learned that the shielding is mostly to guard your display from speaker interference, and has less to do with protecting the speakers from GSM buzz. Here are a few articles that I found helpful in explaining the situation:

And many people claim to have solved the problem with artfully-placed tinfoil:

I find this absurd. I didn’t spend $399 on an iPhone just to have to wrap it in tin foil. In the car, I’ve taken to just using my old iPod for audio, which seems like a good way for it to spend its retirement. But at home, I need a real fix.

I decided that $100 would be a reasonable amount of money to spend on a solution. That gives you a clue about the level of annoyance that GSM buzz causes. The most probable culprit was the $15 pair of  Logitech speakers I bought when my circa 1991 speakers, originally purchased for my first mini-CD player, finally died (RIP).

I started reading about speakers in this range. I knew I wanted a 2.0 setup because I didn’t want the clutter of a subwoofer or satellite speakers in my office. I already have a 5.1 system in my living room. Narrowing it down, the choices appeared to be:

•    Bose Companion 2 Series II multimedia speaker system
•    Klipsch Groove PM20 2.0 Speaker System- Black

I had found some complaints about GSM buzz in the Bose product, and I was about to pull the trigger on the Klipsch ones, when I started to read reviews of the M-Audio Studio Pro 3. Amazon had them on sale for $89.28, and the reviews of the sound were very favorable. My thought was that a low-end pro-audio monitor would have better fundamental construction and shielding than a high-end consumer 2.0 computer speaker. I also read a bunch of audiophile hate about Bose in general, which lead me to believe that they use their high margins for marketing rather than on research as they’d like you to believe. The Klipsch pair had some favorable comments specifically about a lack of GSM buzz, so I was conflicted, but I rolled the dice on the M-Audio product because it is housed in a “custom tuned wood cabinet” and the Klipsch is just plastic.

I was very pleased to get my “Super Saver” shipment a full 5 days before Amazon projected, and I installed the set last night. It came with a .125” plug for my G5 tower’s audio card that splits into two RCA connectors on the right hand speaker/amplifier unit. Then there’s another .125” connector to the left speaker, and a simple, brickless power plug for the amp. It also came with little wedges that angle the speakers upward, which I deployed immediately because I have another M-Audio product, the M-Audio Keystation 61es Keyboard, and the wedge prevents the back of the keyboard from muffling the sound. Oh, the sound.

Glorious, rich midtones. I never appreciated midtones in a speaker until I got these. I heard detail in the music I’ve never heard on headphones or my 5.1 system. The bass is clear and not muddy, but audiophiles will want a sub (they always do). I also noticed that the high-frequency sound did not appear as painfully loud as with headphones, possibly because they are so well-balanced with the midrange.

I played a couple of whole albums in a row on itunes and various other single songs I was very familiar with, so I would know if I heard any interference, and I started calling my iPhone with my home phone. I called myself with the iPhone in the dock and directly on top of the speakers. No interference. I docked and undocked the iPhone several times. No interference. I used the iPhone to call my 5.8ghz cordless phone (also on the desk next to a speaker). No interference. Then I just did some work with itunes on and the iPhone docked. I enjoyed the sound and heard not a peep of interference. I was very pleased with myself.

Later that evening, as is my wont, I did one last check of the e-mail before bed, and also to admire my new purchase. The speakers were on, but the music was off, and the iPhone was docked. Suddenly, I had about 3 seconds of “bp-bp-bp-bp-bp-bp-bzzzzz” –The dreaded GSM buzz had finally dropped in for a visit. I winced in disappointment. It was quieter on these speakers, and only happened once last night (as opposed to the logitechs, which would dependably buzz every time I docked the iPhone and in pretty regular 5-minute intervals) so I think I’ll spare myself the trouble of repacking the speakers and shipping them back to Amazon. The sound is so good, that I think I can put up with a fainter, less chronic kind of GSM Buzz. But I still have my receipt, so we’ll see in the next few days. I can’t help but wonder how this article would have ended up if I’d chosen the Klipsch speakers, though.

My next course of action will be to investigate the Ferrite beads supposedly available at Radioshack, and see if they help at all. I was able to find one product on their website that looks promising, though I’m not holding my breath:

If anyone has a solution to this problem that does not involve tin foil, please post in the comments.

Listen to iTunes over the net via a free streaming server

This may become obsolete in oh say about 24 hours but it is a great post – one of many – over at Mac OS X Hints.  To quote:

I’ve seen some other hints about this, so I decided to contribute this "nothing-can-be-easier" hint. The solution is to use the free, open source, and absolutely easy to install and configure SlimServer. First, download SlimServer and follow the instructions to install it.

Note: SlimServer was originally designed by SlimDevices (i.e. Logitech) to be used with actual music bridges (hardware) which, obviously, you have to buy from Logitech, so you can play your music collection in your home stereo. However, SlimDevices (i.e., Logitech) was kind enough to open source the program, allowing us to stream music to any software MP3 player capable of playing MP3 from URLs, for free. Here’s how to configure it to stream your iTunes library:

  1. Go to System Preferences and click on the SlimServer icon. Turn the media server on. (You can set it to always run when you log in, or reboot.)
  2. Using your browser, open http://localhost:9000 to see the server’s web interface — it takes a little while to open on the first time.
  3. Go through the web interface to configure the server according to your needs. I suggest you enable the login/password so nobody can acuse you of illegally distributing music over the internet.
  4. From any media player supporting streaming (iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc.), go to Open URL in its menus, and open, where is the IP address of the Mac serving the music files. The media player will login into your media server (and require user/password if you enabled such), and buffer some of the music. This might take one or two minutes depending on your connection. Some players are able to show you the title of the current song, but some aren’t.

To control which music you want to play, use the server’s web interface (http://localhost:9000). Using SlimServer, I can successfully listen to my iTunes collection stored in my Mac at home from my cube at work, 10 miles away.

Check out or subscribe to their feed.

Turn Leopard's Screen Sharing into a better "Apple Remote Desktop lite"


We brought you early coverage and the first news of Leopard’s Screen Sharing capabilities back in August but Apple legal made us take it down.

Today, Macworld’s Rob Grifiths shows us how to turn Leopard’s built-in Screen Sharing into a full-fledged screen sharing application – with a lot of he features that are sold in Apple Remote Desktop.  It only takes a few lines of code in the terminal.

1. Find the screen sharing application and put it in the dock.  It is at /System/Library/CoreServices/Screen

2. Run this in terminal:

defaults write ShowBonjourBrowser_Debug 1

You will now be able to open Screen Sharing and see local computers on your network that can be controlled.  Close it again so you can add some more functionality…

3.  Now, to add a bunch of buttons that are also found in Apple Remote Desktop, type in this command (it is one line):


defaults write \
'NSToolbar Configuration ControlToolbar' -dict-add 'TB Item Identifiers' \

Now restart Screen Sharing.  You should see all of the goodies that you also see in Apple Remote desktop.  Macworld runs down the list:




So what do these new buttons do? Here’s a quick rundown on each.


Switch between controlling the remote Mac (the default) and simply observing the other machine.


Switch between allowing the remote Mac’s keyboard and mouse to be used (the default) and locking them out.


This button will lock the other Mac’s screen, displaying an all-black background, a huge lock icon, and the text you enter after clicking this button. Note that there’s a minor bug here; you’ll actually see the name of a variable that Apple left in the text field, too—so if you type “Using remotely,” the displayed message will be “Using remotelylockedByString.” This button is off by default, meaning the other Mac’s screen displays what you’re doing.


Click this button to capture the remote Mac’s screen to a local file. You’ll capture the full screen, and the system will ask you to pick a name and save location for the file.


Toggle between windowed (the default) and full screen modes. In full screen mode, the toolbar floats in the top left of the screen. To exit full screen mode, click the “X” button on the toolbar.


Not really a button at all, this is the quality slider. If you’re finding that screen updates are going slowly, for instance, you can reduce the quality—all the way down to a badly dithered black-and-white representation—to speed things up.

Some more great Mac related Christmas deals from Amazon

When doing some holiday shopping this weekend, we happened upon some more deals from Amazon.



Amazon lists the 8GB iPod Nanos for $179. That is 10% off of MSP and the best price a retailer has ever listed. It is far below Corporate or Educational discounts which usually are closer to $190. Get them while the getting is good.  Of note, All colors are availble at this price exept for the (Red) edition.


Elgato Eyetv Hybrid (NTSC) for $129

The Elgato Eyetv Hybrid (NTSC) is $129, the lowest price we could find anywhere.  As owners of other EyeTV products and users of CyTV Place shifting – which works much like Tivo, we are excited to be able to take our EyeTV experience on the road.






Also on our holiday shopping list is a few monitors.  A great price on a high end Samsung SyncMaster Monitor 22" display with built in speakers at $249 – which is almost 40% off.




Also, the HP LaserJet 1020 Printer is $99. That is over $100 off of the normal price and about the best deal we could find on a Laser Printer.




If you are a big Skyper like us, check out the Philips VOIP8411B/37 Dect/VoIP Phone System. It allows you to do your Skyping without a computer. $99 is the lowest price anywhere.


Sony HandyCam HDR-SR5 40GB for $699, HDR-SR7 for $999

Hey everyone – we are continuing to try to bring you some great Mac related deals at our Amazon Store. Hope you find these items relevant and useful. We’ll keep these going periodically until Christmas.  BTW, we make a few percentage points off of a sale if you buy – we haven’t tested nor do we endorse these products) offers the Sony HandyCam HDR-SR5 40GB HD DV Camcorder (pictured) for $699.99. With free shipping, it’s the lowest total price we’ve ever seen by $28. Features include a 40GB hard drive, Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with 10x optical zoom, 1080i recording, 2.7" widescreen LCD, 2.1-megapixel still images, Memory Stick PRO Duo slot, USB connectivity, and more.  It lists for $1000.


If you want to take the next step up from Sony and get 1080P recording, hit the Sony HDR-SR7 AVCHD 6.1MP 60GB High Definition Hard Disk Drive Camcorder with 10x Optical Zoom which is  $999.  It is $400 off of list.


Sanyo Camera HD Video/ 7 Megapixel still camera half price at Amazon – Glitch?

Sanyo Xacti HD700 7MP MPEG-4 High Definition 720p Camcorder with 5x Optical Zoom (Silver)


(edit – too good to be true – wentback up to $519 – hope you got one early! We’ve linked to the Brown one which can still be had for a very reasonable $349)

Reatil Price: $600

Other stores: $530-600

BTW- we should be able to provide a review on oh about December 26th…

Manufacturer Description
Shoot high-definition today with this elegant state-of-the-art true 720p high-definition camcorder that doubles as a 7-megapixel digital camera. Encased in a stunning enclosure, the HD700 features a 5x optical lens and a large 2.7-inch widescreen display making the HD700 as convenient as it is useful. And, a HDMI port on the docking station allows you to simply connect to the latest high-definition TVs and recorders to view and share your footage. Also, the HD700 records to the latest MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 global standard, delivering exceptional video clarity and detail while maintaining the smallest file size possible.

Xacti HD700 Highlights

5x optical zoom The HD700 digital media camera features a 5x all-glass optical zoom lens with a bright maximum aperture of f/3.5. Consisting of nine groups and twelve total lenses (3 aspheric elements, 5 aspheric surfaces), the HD700’s lens provides a fantastic field-of-view with a 38-190 mm range (35 mm equivalent). Combined with the 12x digital zoom, the HD700 provides up to 60x zooming capability.

Large, 2.7-inch widescreen display The Xacti HD700 features a large 2.7 inch widescreen Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). The display flips out from the camera and rotates up to 285 degrees on an axis that allows you to take great video or still images from otherwise-difficult-to-view positions, especially useful when shooting in large crowds or in small rooms.

Convenient SD/SDHC memory card slot The Sanyo Xacti HD700 records high-definition and photos directly to a standard SD or SDHC memory card. In fact, the HD700 is capable of recording up to 2 hour and 46 minutes of 720p high-definition video on a single 8GB card (sold separately).

Random access Each video is recorded as an individual MPEG-4 and each still as a JPEG so you can have true random access allowing you to review a specific image or video quickly and easily, without waiting for tape rewinding or fast forwarding.

Ergonomic design The Xacti series has become known for the small size and ergonomic design. The HD700 features a comfortable angle designed to easily fit in the palm of the hand. The HD700’s adapts the new 105-degree angle design that is research proven to be less tiring to hold and shoot than typical camcorders. Easy to hold and easy to shoot with, the HD700 raises the bar in compact camcorder design.

Mac OS compatible Got a Mac? The new HD700 was designed to work with Apple’s full complement of video editing applications including the new iMovie ’08. Easily edit your movies and add them to your website or YouTube for sharing or create versions for iPod, iPhone or the Apple TV. It’s easy!


Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0 included For Windows Customers, the Sanyo Xacti HD700 includes the powerful award-winning Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0 video editing software. Adobe Premieree Elements 3.0 software makes creating and sharing impressive home videos a snap. Burn your footage to DVD in two simple steps, complete with a DVD menu and scene index, or easily assemble your movie by rearranging clips with drag-and-drop simplicity. And share your movies on DVD, the web, mobile phones, and virtually anywhere else.

Other Great Features

  • HDMI highi-definition output
  • Digital image stabilization
  • In-camera editing
  • Innovative docking station included
  • Superfast Startup (Record in as little as 1.3 seconds)
  • Playback directly onto a HD or standard TV screen
  • Easy connection to VCR or DVD recorder
  • Remote control included

Product Description
Shoot high-definition today with this elegant state-of-the-art true 720p high-definition camcorder that doubles as a 7 megapixel digital camera. Encased in a stunning enclosure, the HD700 features a 5x optical lens and a large 2.7-inch widescreen display making the Sanyo HD700 as convenient as it is useful. And, a HDMI port on the docking station allows you to simply connect to the latest high-definition TVs and recorders to view and share your footage. Also, the HD700 records to the latest MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 global standard, delivering exceptional video clarity and detail while maintaining the smallest file size possible. Playback directly onto a HD or standard TV screen. Easy connection to VCR or DVD recorder. Remote Control Included 5x all-glass optical zoom with a bright maximum aperture of f/3.5. Consisting of nine groups and twelve total lenses (3 aspheric elements, 5 aspheric surfaces), the HD700’s lens provides a fantastic field-of-view with a 38-190 mm range (35 mm equivalent). Combined with the 12x digital zoom, the HD700 provides up to 60x zooming capability Each video is recorded as an individual MPEG-4 and each still as a JPEG Records and plays from optional SD and SDHC memory cards; accepts up to 8GB capacity ? The new HD700 was designed to work with Apple’s full complement of video editing applications including the new iMovie 08. Easily edit your movies and add them to your website or YouTube for sharing or create versions for iPod, iPhone or the Apple TV NTSC / PAL (interfacing via included docking station or connecting adaptor) 720p 1280×720 video HDTV resolution capability Unit Dimensions 2.9 x 1.4 x 4.3 inches (W x D x H); Weight 6.7 oz. approx. (main unit only), 7.5 oz. approx. (including battery and a standard SD card) Includes SANYO Software Pack, Docking station, Dedicated AV interface cable, Dedicated Component interface cable, Dedicated USB cable, Cable adaptor, Lith

Skype Updated for Leopard

We’ve been using Skype on our Leopard MacBook since – oh about mid-October with very few problems – but there have been many cited on the Internets – mostly in relation to Apple’s redesigned firewall.

Well, for those with problems, Skype has answers – in the form of a 2.7Beta release (at your own risk).  Skype betas have treated us relatively well over the years so we’ll be downloading and testing this shortly.

From Skype:

New in this version

Leopard compatible – if you have the latest Mac OS X 10.5 then you can use Skype with confidence.

Better video resolution – your video conversations are now set at a whopping 640 x 480 pixels by default with up to 25 frames per second. If your webcam can handle this resolution you’ll soon be appearing in an improved and bigger format on friends screens.