January 14, 2008

UPDATED: Appleinsider got the goods – spoiler – no placeshifting

With Sling backing up into EyeTV’s territory on the Mac and possibly even on the iPhone, the Mac TV tuner software maker looks to strike back.  TUAW reports that it is readying version 3.0 for Macworld.  Will EyeTV start firing back at Sling by introducing its own place shifting service?  CyTV is getting a little stale!

Also, will El Gato have anything to do with Apple TV 2.0 – rumored to be hitting at Macworld?  It certainly helps when your former CEO is now the head of Apple Germany.  Update: WAS the head of Apple Germany "Freddie Geier resigned as Apple CEO Germany/Austria in May 2007" – we didn’t get the memo.

 

January 8, 2008

People have been calling for the Internet to get crushed under the weight of its own bandwidth since it was created in the 80s.  Of course it never has.  But the threats have always been overstated. 

However, next week, Apple will almost definitely launch it’s iTunes movie rental store, and millions of people will start downloading like they never have before.  One and a half hour movies can get up to one gigabyte in size.  Contrast that to a four megabyte iTunes music file which is 250 times smaller.  This is a huge amount of data.

Additionally, these movies will only be good for a short time – at that point they will be deleted from the computer.  So if you want to see Casablanca again, you’ll need to download the whole gigabyte of data all over.  In iTunes you hopefully only have to download a file once.

Apple already utilizes Akami for media distribution which house web file servers all over the globe and at ISPs to help alleviate Internet congestion.  This will certainly help – but will it be enough?  Other people have said that Apple could use the AppleTV as a bit torrent client which would help distribute files quickly and more cost effectively.

Or perhaps this threat is overstated.  It isn’t just Apple in this game.  Netflix and Amazon are currently selling movies as downloads without crippling the Internet.  But neither of these vendors has anywhere near the marketshare as Apple.  iTunes currently resides on over 100 million computers.  Again, we are talking about a lot of bandwidth here.

By most accounts,  Apple’s movie rental store will most  be a big success – hopefully not at the expense of the Internet.

December 12, 2007

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)

Amazon.com 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.

 

9to5toys 

December 11, 2007

So it came out last week that Apple had been saving a bit of money.  They are likely going to buy something and the internet blew up with ideas on what that should be.  Ars came up with Adobe, Tivo, Nintendo.  We aren’t feeling any of those – here’s why:

  • Adobe – there is too much overlap in products.  Final Cut/Premiere.  Aperture/Lightroom, etc, etc.  Adobe has a great portfolio of applications but overall the line isn’t close enough to Apple’s core competency.  Plus the two companies aren’t getting along that well anymore.  Adobe is also pricey.
  • Tivo – It is a great technology for the next 3-5 years.  Soon though, networks will be broadcasting their content over the net by themselves.  The technology to leverage advertising will make them more than the currently falling costs of broadcasting over the net – so it won’t matter.  As someone who has to watch college football on a slingbox, I say hurry the fsck up.
  • Nintendo – great idea, but they are too expensive.  Any buyout of Nintendo would have to be more like a merger.  Can you see Steve Jobs agreeing to a merger and taking in top management?  Us neither.

So, we’ve come up with three companies that Apple should buy – and which they actually have a shot at.  Yep, telecoms:

  • Clearwire.  Fresh off their split from Sprint talks, Clearwire is looking for some more dough.  Apple has 15 billion reasons why they should come into the Apple fold.  Oh, btw, WiMAX is great match for Apple’s new mobile platform.
  • Skype – Recently devalued and a bargain.  Ebay is looking for a buyer.   Over 100 million users.  VOIP.  Phone Numbers.  iPod, iPhone, tablets…it all makes much more sense.
  • 700MHz spectrum.  Not a company per se – but a huge amount of power in the telecommunications industry for the next 20+ years.  Apple would likely partner with Google and a few other technology giants (MS?) on snapping this up.  It goes without saying that tech companies are sick of letting the telecoms tell them how they can use and sell their products.  This will be an interesting auction.  NFL draft, eat your heart out.
  • EDIT – didn’t think of it but makes perfect sense.  a Studio!  Maybe they even roll their own.  With the other studios starting to give up on Apple and in some cases giving preferential treatment to other online distributors (see Amazon’s DRM free music from Universal), it might be time for Apple to move down the value chain a little.  Apple has one of the biggest distribution channels on Earth in iTunes and can offer new artists a really big, hip audience in a tenth of the time it takes traditional studios to get content out.  Oh.  And why just music?  El Jobso knows a few things about running a movie studio (Pixar). – thanks D-Jents

Will Apple put its feet into the telecom world?  $15 billion is a whole lot more fun to spend than distribute to shareholders.  Maybe we’ll get some news at Macworld on January 14-18. OH btw- the telecom auction is on Jan 17.😉

 

 

Frankly, I don’t understand why there isn’t more hype about this.  As an expat living far away from friends and family, I rely on Skype at home to make and recieve calls.  Local calls.  Cheap local calls.  Lots of them.  When I spend two hours talking to American Airlines, trying to get my Christmas return tickets sorted, it saves me hundreds of dollars.

I use a Belkin Skype phone (which is awesome in every way except battery life).  I use Skype over Fring on my Nokia N95 which is simply amazing – especially over 3G. I use the MacOSX Skype client both at home and while at work.  But I’d sure love to use an iPod or iPhone for this.  It is just the perfectly natural fit.  The hardware can handle this.  As of today we have proof.

Now I am not saying it is Skype or bust.  I am perfectly happy to switch to any SIP or Vonage phone or whatever.  Just give me a US number and a reasonable price.  Better yet, give me a few choices, make some competition.  Turn this into a positive for consumers.  Apple, so far, has not made any movements at all on this, either on the desktop or on the portables.  A few possible scenarios exist:

  • Apple could be building its own VOIP network and planning to integrate it into iChat both on the desktop and on the iPhone.  Hopefully, they use the open SIP platform that allows it to communicate with many of the other phone systems in the world. Perhaps it partners with Cisco on this – part of the "iPhone" naming deal.
  • Apple could be partnering with Google and using its GoogleTalk/Jabber platform and plan integration across its line of products.  Google is likely looking to expand its Google Talk service so users can receive incoming calls.  This, in turn, could be connected with other google account services like email, calendar, contact list, etc.
  • Same thing as above but instead with Yahoo!.
  • Apple opens up iPod/iPhone for applications.  Vonage, Skype, Fring. SIP, etc. jump on board.
  • Apple buys Skype from Ebay and turns it into a defacto communications platform.  While it has the legacy phone number/SMS system, it also includes chatting and claims over 100 million users currently.  Skype is undervalued and not being developed properly by Ebay.  Apple has $15 billion in the bank.  Oh and *cough* 700Mhz Spectrum is also for sale. *cough*
  • Apple does nothing.  Waits for phones to die and instant messaging to take over in a few years.  Puts $15 billion in pork bellies and frozen concentrated orange juice.

Will we see a VOIP service at Macworld?  I certainly hope so – but if I had to bet on it, I’d say no.  Apple has kinda missed the whole VOIP boat so far.  I hope I am wrong and we see some big announcements – just about any of the above scenarios would be really exciting.  But, until Apple opens their eyes / rolls out their VOIP application, go hackers!

 

November 16, 2007

EDIT: Our mysterious friend, a Mr. Cruz X. Lefforts is not happy about his iTunes and needed a place to rant…it is Friday and why not?  So here, without further ado….

Cruz Lefferts is mad. Really mad. So mad, he’s talking about himself in the third person.

Cruz Lefferts wanted to believe that iTunes was The entertainment capital of your world, but Cruz found out that iTunes is only interested in his capital.

You see, Cruz had an opportunity to upgrade some of his library to the DRM-free, 256Kbps bitrate AACs offered by iTunes plus, but Cruz only wanted to upgrade a few select albums in his library. Cruz buys music for different reasons—not just for listening enjoyment. Sometimes he needs to research a song, sometimes he needs to hear a song he’s learning from the sheet music, and sometimes he wants to buy a joke. Cruz is just like that. But that doesn’t mean that Cruz necessarily cares about extra sound quality on a George Carlin rant—it just doesn’t matter. Isis’s Panopticon album, however, is something that Cruz wants to hear every friggin note of (and share it with friends in need of endarkenment). Cruz is pretty sure that Aaron Turner would approve, since he’s bought all the albums fair and square and seen three live shows for full ticket price. But Cruz digresses.

Why can’t Cruz choose which songs he wants to upgrade? This is an absurd vestige of the old music industry in what should be a beacon of the new. Cruz actually tries, within reason, to purchase all his music because Cruz thinks the artists he generally likes could use the money. If you’re into multiplatinum teenybop crap, then by all means, steal it. They only spend your money on cocaine and hair color anyway. But now Cruz is being punished when he attempts to upgrade, for 30¢ a song, his AAC files.

Mind you, gomusic.ru sells the whole damned album for about what it costs to get one song on iTunes plus, and that’s at 192Kbps and no DRM. Okay, say you don’t want to give your payment information to a business in Russia. You can buy the album for 99¢/song from Amazon.com at 256mbps with no DRM.

But Cruz bought his version of Panopticon on iTunes, and rather than purchase it again elsewhere, he thought upgrading would be the right thing to do. But Cruz couldn’t just upgrade Panopticon, iTunes forced him to upgrade everything he’d ever bought from the iTunes music store that was now eligible for iTunes plus, including shit he doesn’t even really listen to anymore.

For those of you who find this whiny, Cruz apologizes, but they make it so hard for Cruz to be an honest consumer of music these days, especially when, in the midst of all these outrages, his clicking finger starts itching to find the Azureas icon on his dock and just torrent the shit. Apple ingeniously started the iTunes store on April 28, 2003, and since then, Virgin Megastores and Sam Goodys all over the country have been boarding up their windows and taping "retail space available" signs to their plate glass windows. Why? Because Apple made it too damned easy for Cruz Lefferts to sit on his fat ass and get his music over a cable modem in two minutes. But it’s the DRM and this stupid, draconian "iTunes Plus" upgrade that makes Cruz long for a life of crime. His CD towers were long ago donated to goodwill, and his local record shop is now a dry cleaners, so really the only other legal option is the gray legal area (not to mention the risk to your personal data) of a Russian music/mail-order-bride outfit, or Amazon, which is proving to be the best alternative to outright theft.

Which brings Cruz, at long last, to his point: We are in a period of evolution right now where the archdukes and demigods of the old economy are scared shitless for their survival, and are using their considerable reserves of raw power to screw the consumer into maintaining their outdated revenue streams. Well, the consumer is not going to put up with it for long because bittorrent is too damned easy, and when you’re pissed off because a company like Apple is considering the needs of its partners over its paying customers, it’s not only easy—it feels good.

Sure, Amazon is bucking the trend, but its music store started selling mp3s in earnest only this year, four years after the advent of iTunes. Shame on Amazon for that. Did they forget they were in the business of innovation? Was it really so long ago that they actually started turning a profit (4th Qtr. 2002, btw)? There are other notable exceptions. Radiohead let Cruz choose how much money he wanted to pay for their last album, and because he perceived that gesture as thoughtful, Cruz paid Radiohead £10. And in Cruz’s unscientific survey of everyone who also bought the album, it appears that everybody chose to pay at least something. Thom Yorke can finally afford to get that lazy eye looked at. Still, these two examples hardly constitute a consumer-friendly music biz.

So, Cruz Lefferts is thinking of stealing music from now on. He can take comfort in the fact that the artist really doesn’t  get a fair share of the $1.29 at iTunes anyway, and that if they are worth their salt as musicians, he’ll be able to see them on tour some time soon, when they can make their real money. But Cruz Lefferts has to remember that 9to5mac.com takes no responsibility for his actions should the Rapacious, Idiotic Assholes of America come knocking.

Cruz Lefferts is a freelance technology journalist living in (nice try, RIAA).
9to5google 

October 21, 2007

Mike Schramm over at TUAW (who we usually love to tease about being unapologetic Apple fanbois) posted a great article pointing out how Apple has enraged a large part of its once loyal fanbase with its recent actions.  Originally inspired by another (usually pro-Apple Macworld) article, TUAW calls for Apple to stop its current path.  Although it has made attempts to heal the wounds, Apple’s offerings have been measly:

  1. Apple lowers the price of DRM free music.  TUAW points out that this has probably more to do with competeing with up-and-comer Amazon in the online music sales biz.
  2. Apple has unlocked the iPhone.  Albeit in France (woohoo!).  Albeit because they have to because of France’s consumer protection laws.  Albeit they will charge an absurd amount for it negating the benefit of taking it to a more convenient carrier…and helping the black market importers (terrorists?!  ha) from the US.  Oh BTW, bring more iPhones over to Europe.  Don’t worry about unlocking – we got it covered.
  3. SDK for the iPhone.  In February of next year.  Apple will be the distributer and decider of what goes out and what doesn’t.  So basically they get help from 3rd parties pushing iPhone apps.  Otherwise hit the Web 2.0 "SDK".
  4. Charging for ringtones (itoner is working again woot!) Which is a blatent FU to Apple’s customers over its Music Biz partners who are reselling the same song to the consumer twice.  Of course this was not Apple’s choice so it isn’t entirely fair to blame them.
  5. Bricking unlocked iPhones – can now be unbricked thanks to some 3rd party work.  Again – not entirely Apple – probably some AT&T thrown in there.

Hard to argue Apple’s side on this – which Schramm rightfully points out.   He then points an appeal to Apple to wise up but doesn’t say how…don’t worry TUAW and Macworld, 9to5Mac is not about problems, it is about solutions….

Think about this scenario:  Apple buys itself out of its carrier agreements (because is Apple adding value to the voice or data connection?- why should they get a piece?).  Much the same as when it bought itself out of the clone biz oh about 10 years ago. 

Apple then sells the iPhone unlocked in every GSM market for a price which it decides is fair.  They would then sell their ten million iPhones by Christmas.  It is a revolutionary device – just about everybody wants one.    Sell it just like the iPod.  Sell it with VOIP.  Sell a Skype client for $50.  Vonage, SIP – Sure.

Apple would now also  have a bigger market to sell music and video content all over the world.  Heck, people can even buy ringtones if THEY CHOOSE to.  MO MoneyEveryone would be happy…Huge market share, Mind Share. Everything.  Everyone wins including those who are looking after the currently plummeting Apple brand.

The reason why Apple fans like us are upset is because we buy Apple products for what they bring to us on a holistic level.  We happily pay $129 for an operating sytem upgrade because it has better features.  It is a fair give and take.  There is no lock in..we are free to do what we decide.    We don’t have to deal with CALs.  We don’t want DRM.  We don’t have viruses, spyware or malware.  We don’t like Genuine Advantage checking up on us every 10 minutes to see if we’re behaving.  We have a trusting relationship with our devices and the vendor (Apple).

The iPod was the same.  We can put our MP3s and old CDs on there.  We can put iTunes stuff on there.  Even Windows users are invited to the party – and Linux – sort of.  It is the customer’s decision.   We could even throw Linux on the iPod if we pleased.  No bricky bricky from Apple.

Along comes the iPhone/Touch and the game totally changes.  We can use only one ISP (carrier).  The iPod touch doesn’t have 1/2 of the Apps that it should (Offline email, notes, editable calendar maps etc.).  When people figured out how to put the iPhone on their carrier, Apple bricked their devices.  

We realize that most iPhone users won’t ever want to put games, their own ringtones or 3rd party apps on their devices.  They are happy with the awesome music and web browsing experience alone.  We also realize it is human nature to argue an issue to your point of view – therefore a lot of people within AT&T’s coverage range are content with Apple’s  software offering and are naturally taking up Apple’s side on 1 ISP and closed development choices. 

If they could see out of their fishbowl, they’d realize that it is a bigger issue.  If Apple only offered their devices to Europeans on a single network, these same people would be the ones most enraged.  We all know this by now.  The term Stockholm Syndrome is thrown about to describe their defending the lock-in….but we need to get back to the point here…

Computing devices are very important.  We technologists deserve the best.  It’s like the mattress salesmen says:  You can justify spending a lot more for a bed because you spend 1/3 of your life using it.  Computing devices are the same.  We fortunately or unfortunately spend a lot of time on our Apple devices and have a strong relationship with them.  Apple knows this.  That is why most of their consumer products are "i"This and "i"That.  It is about identifying the relationship.

Apple has started to taint the personal relationship in a  big way.  We (9to5mac, TUAW-Schramm, MacWorld/Dan Moren, Brian Lam/Gizmodo, the rest of the Technology Media) are asking Apple to please reverse your course.  It isn’t too late and can be much more lucrative in the long run.  We know you’ve been working with communications and recording industry monopolists for a few years now and their business models are tempting.  But..

It just isn’t who you are, Apple.  Not to us anyway.

Whatever short-term financial gains can be made by partnering with/becoming monopolists at the expense of disenfranchising a big chunk of your customers, in the long term will do far more to tarnish Apple’s most important asset, the Apple brand.

 

Oh BTW, because some of the more absurd comment fights that have been happening recently on 9to5mac, we’ve had to start administering comments.  If you don’t have anything to bring to the conversation and just want to diss us or another commenter – or use derogatory terms – don’t bother it won’t make it to the page.  We can handle criticism but you better bring some sort of evidence/relevant data to the table.  Otherwise, you are just wasting everyone’s time.  At some point we’ll have an automated comments rating system like Digg….

Don’t like that?  Welcome to OUR closed Ecosystem – we’ve modeled it on the iPhone😀

October 18, 2007

Just a random observation here but I can’t help myself. Why in the world doesn’t some company come out with a PAN (Personal Area Network) device that turns 3G wireless to Wifi? Something that would take a mobile signal and turn it into a very low powered (enough for maybe 6 foot radius) Wifi zone for all of my devices.  

It doesn’t have to be 802.11G or N – it could be the incredibly low powered 802.11b electronics that are pervasive in super-small mobile phones like the iPhone.  The bottleneck in speed isn’t going to be the Wifi.  At least not this year.  Cost-wise, an unlimited data plan is about $80/month these days.  I can handle that.

Think of it.  You get to use all of your wifi devices, computer, cell phone, tablet etc anywhere you go.  It is always on and is very small.   It would only sign on when you tried to access the net and could have different levels of security to protect you from getting hacked.

Who could make such a device?  Novatel would be a good candidate as the make a great deal of SIM Card wireless devices.  So could Nokia or any of the other handset providers.  In fact, they could make one out of the N95 and throw in GPS to boot.  The hardware is there.  Just write the software.

Larger variants like Junxion boxes already exist and the even less expensive DLink variant can be had for under $200.  You can technically make one out of a Sony UX series or OQO device but thats overkill and still too big and too little battery.

But there is no reason why these things can’t be made way way smaller.  Perhaps the size of a deck of cards.  About 1/2 of that deck of cards is battery which should last 24 hours.  If you need more, you get an extended battery that is another deck of cards in size.  Now you have a whole 3 day weekend worth of broadband network in your pocket.  Or your briefcase or car or whatever.

Then you can start adding things like (SAN) memory, GPS receiver and bluetooth.  All things you don’t need in your hand – things you can leave in your briefcase.  The new hand gadgets (like iPhone) would pick up on this  device and use it for all kinds of fun stuff.  You could even share it with your friends and colleagues.

With VOIP, the traditional telecoms are all but dead in terms of phone service.  Skype, SIP variants and Vonage could all use this device to have an always on mobile phone.  The telecoms could focus on their strong points – delivering packets quickly, efficiently and everywhere.

This device that doesn’t exist?  It will.  The future will be begging for them.

btw – I hope I am wrong and something like this already exists.  If so, please point me to it so I can join the future.

Update: Cradle has answered our prayers

October 3, 2007

Nobody sent us a flyer and we aren’t getting paid to post this (though we’ve provided an easy link to our Amazon Store), but we just got ourselves a crush on the Mitsubishi PK20 LED DLP Pocket Projector. Why? Several reasons:

  1. It is LED powered so very low power consumption compared to bulbs
  2. Power Consumption is so low that it includes a laptop-sized battery that lasts for up to 2 hours. – a normal projector would require 2 car batteries for that
  3. LEDs are cool – temperature cool – so they don’t heat up your space
  4. SD card slot reader
  5. SO SO Small and getting smaller. The design of the device fitting on the palm of a woman’s hand below says it all. As the Tech gets better we could see much smaller devices and even *gasp* built into laptops
  6. A nice, simple remote for easy access

All of this efficiency of course comes at a price. The device can be found under $500 at certain shops which is a bit higher than the equivelent powered bulb projectors. Of course with LED projectors, the projection isn’t nearly as bright – so you will need to dim the lights. Also, this device being ultra basic, it doesn’t have the finer controls that you need for focus and resizing. Also it is native 800×600 with the ability to do an interpolated 1024×768.

Still though, with Component AV in and a tripod adapter and at such a low price, we can’t help but think this would be a great addition to our gadget gear.

-Even with an iPhone component cable (yeah we tried! We can’t stop talking about it)

From an Owner/Amazon Reviewer:

Pros:

  • -no need to replace lamp (ever)…this feature is worth the price of the projector alone
  • amazingly small – 7’x5′ (or smaller) image – simple menus
  • tripod mountable makes it very portable & easy to adjust size & position
  • excellent for DVD movies – project image on walls (don’t need the hassle of having a screen)
  • very silent
  • auto shut-off if no signal detected

Cons:

  • can’t adjust size of the picture to fit screen, except by moving unit
  • Lights overwhelm the picture – no standby mode…will not turn on automatically if signal detected
  • pain to fit to a screen

Wishlist:

  • more powerful/multiple LED
  • more adjustments
electrek 

September 27, 2007

Don't do it!!!!!Apple, as expected released the iPhone 1.1.1 software update today.   Initial reactions are that it breaks the anySIM hack and Installer.app so this is a one way street.  We know it is tempting to hit the red button and download and install but hold on just one second while we let you take a gander at the pluses and minuses.

Listed on the 1.1.1 updates page is the following: 

  • iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store;
  • Louder speakerphone and receiver volume 
  • Home Button double-click shortcut to phone favorites of music controls 
  • Space bar double-tap shortcut to intelligently insert period and space 
  • Mail attachments are viewable in portrait and landscape 
  • Stocks and cities in Stocks and Weather can be re-ordered 
  • Apple Bluetooth Headset battery status in the Status Bar 
  • Support for TV Out 
  • Preference to turn off EDGE/GPRS when roaming internationally 
  • New Passcode lock time intervals 
  • Adjustable alert volume

Not bad for a incremental update but nothing earth shattering.  We think Apple could have called this 1.0.3 but when you juxtapose (triple word score) these features with what you get in the 1.0.2 HACK version you may want to pause..at least until everything becomes clearer..

Read on for the full comparison between the two OS’s.

iPhone Features per software version

Apple+hackers 1.0.2HAX Apple 1.1.1
Phone Carriers? Any GSM Providor in the World including AT&T and TMobile in the US AT&T ONLY
Roaming? Just stick in a SIM card from the country you go to to get local rates. Insane roaming rates BUT you can turn off EDGE
Instant Messaging Apollo AOL IM and MSN(Yahoo), Jabber(GoogleTalk) Coming No
Games Any NES or Mame (1000’s) plus 100s of other native apps like iPhoneDoom. Online web games like Scrabble Online web games like Scrabble
RSS yes native app or Google Reader Google reader
Terminal app? Yes No
Remote Desktop? Yes (VNSea) No
GPS? Soft GPS by Navizon – not quite as accurate as real GPS but faster No
Voice Recorder? Yes No
Offline Dictionaries and references Dozens No
IRC client Yes No
eBook Reader? Yes No
send songs and full res picts via email? Yes No
Ability to delete menu items Yes No
Ability to browse iPhone’s File system Yes No
Full iTunes integration for Music, TV Shows Movies Audiobooks Yes Yes
Ringtones? Free $.99/ea after you buy the song
Mobile Music store? Amazon DRM Free coming iTunes

EDIT: ActuallyWired’s excellent artists have made a mockery of our HTML Table skillz and put up a much better graphic.  Check it:

September 3, 2007

With the new iPodnano coming in at a little over two inches and almost square, there are a lot more interesting tricks that can be done with them than previous iPods. As small as the gen-2 iPod was, the form factor of the new Nanos begs for more applications. One such use is the watch.

Now don’t get us wrong, we don’t expect Steve to roll up his sleeve to reveal the new Nano on his wrist the way he yanked the generation 1 Nano out of the change pocket in his jeans two years ago. As a matter of fact, we wouldn’t even expect Apple to come out with a watch band for the device. This task will most likely be left to the third party iPod accessory makers.

Oh by the way, before you run to the comments and tell us our artwork sucks, let it be known that we are well aware of this. If you want to be constructive, dear readers, why not put your art skills to good use and make some hot mockups. We’ll replace our ugly, half-assed ones with yours.

BTW, thanks Gizmodo for the original Nano that we slapped on the watches!

More ugliness after the jump….

 

The previous iPod nano was squeezed on a wrist. If they dared to do this with the old Nano – the temptation to do this with a more watch-faced Nano will undoubtedly irresistible.
Lots of other “wrist watches” come in much bigger than the new Nano
yeah we know the headphone won’t come in there…
Yuk
There are other absurdities that are much bulkier that have been put on wrists……
Maybe even the iPodtouch can be put on your wrist?
   

 

August 30, 2007

ipod touch airport wifi With the September 5th Apple announcement sure to be exciting for those who are waiting for new iPods, questions still remain on the final specs of these devices. Perhaps Apple dropped some clues on us with their recent Airport Extreme update (Probably not).  If not, the questions still loom: will these new flagship iPods have WiFi?  Are they hard drive or flash based?  POLL

Our informed readers and insiders have been somewhat split on the answers to these questions.  

A hard drive (compared to Flash/NAND) uses a lot of juice.  Hard drive-based devices require more battery and stabilization space than RAM based device like the iPhone.  To have both in a device the form-factor of an iPhone would be pretty tough  – but doable if the device were to be made thicker.  The hard drive alone would add significant bulk to the device and its spinning could also throw off the accelerometer that adds so much cool functionality to the iPhone’s OS.

However, 1.8 inch hard drives are relatively cheap and huge.  For the price of a 16 Gb flash-based iPod, Apple could probably give you a 160 Gb hard drive based iPod that was a few millimeters thicker and might not have the same battery life.  Would users be cool with that?  Yes, certainly.  Would Apple’s designers?  Probably less so, but it certainly is in the realm of contention – especially knowing that millions of potential customers are salivating over the possibility.

As for Wifi, we know the iPhone certainly does it quite well.  The only question is if including Wifi will hurt the iPhone sales (it certainly could) and will Apple – and by extension AT&T and the Euro-carriers be willing to accept that?  We know Apple doesn’t really care too much about it’s partners but  they do care about their iPhone.  If they release Wifi in their iPods, they will have to beef up the storage in the iPhones at some point soon as well.

Wifi-based iPods bring up a lot of other possibilities as well.   Perhaps some of the storage loss by going exlusively flash RAM based could be made up by having your music/video data on Airport Extreme based, inexpensive USB hard drives?  Streaming your MP3’s and movies over the WLAN or Internet would be extremely cool.  Just ask Sling customers.

VOIP also comes to mind.  We know however, that the new iPods don’t have phone-like speakers and mics.  Therefore, it is probably not Apple’s long term plan to use the iPod as a phone.  Of course Bluetooth or tethered headsets could easily be used and I am sure someone like Skype or Cisco would be happy to add a bit of software that could enable this.

What about future releases?  At some point in the future we know that the iPod and iPhone will be the same device.  It is just too easy and imperative to add VOIP functionality to a iPod sized device. The flexibility and function of VOIP services kills traditional carriers’ capabilities.   Look how hard it was to get visual voicemail from AT&T?  Skype and Vonage had that functionality a few years ago.  

When the smoke clears in the portable device industry, Apple wants their devices to the THE SINGLE device people carry around.  Apple’s current portable device lineup have the ability to be those devices.  Maybe by Macworld, we’ll see something moving in that direction.

August 14, 2007

August 7th brought many excellent product updates for the Mac platform but some product lines were sorely overlooked. Mac Pros, for instance, received very mild memory discounts and a surprising $999 RAID card.  This RAID Card isn’t the traditional type that has the SATA ports built in.  This one turns the Mac Pro’s motherboard SATA ports into something that can be used in a hardware RAID array.

For people in the know on RAID cards, the advantages are plenty. Mirroring (RAID 1) protects you from a hard drive failure. Striping (RAID 0) speeds up the data access speeds of your drives by writing to two drives simultaneously. RAID 5 does a little of both if you have three or more drives. From there, you can go on and on with different configurations and levels to your heart’s content.

Another popular Disk Array configuration is JBOD – which stands for “Just a bunch of Disks”  As the name suggests, it is a span of the disks available but it isn’t striped so that losing a disk doesn’t mess up any data not housed on that disk.  The speed is usually just that of the hard drives.

RAID cards used to be SCSI only, but have filtered down to the IDE and have been on the SATA bus for a little over two years.

Over this time, SATA RAID cards have come way down in price and have added many features that were previously only available to high end SCSI RAID cards. If you want to know everything about SATA RAID cards, check out this article from a few years back – it is essentially a SATA RAID card bible.

OK, now that we know about SATA RAID cards, we have to ask ourselves, how can Apple ask for $1000 for a mid-range, bare-bones SATA RAID card that doesn’t even add external ports?

**disclaimer, I have not bought one of these to try it out first hand, nor will I based on the (sparse) specs provided by Apple.  I have used the Xserve model on a few occasions and found it solid, if uninspiring.

So first of all – for you glass half empty people out there – let’s talk about what this card lacks:

  1. External ports for external drives
  2. PC Drivers for Boot Camp or removal and using in PCs (see citation 6 in specs – and Virtualization is questionable)
  3. More than 4 Ports that are currently on the motherboard
  4. The specs say nothing about SATA-II
  5. Anywhere close to a reasonable price
  6. It is huge – with a large array of heatsyncs – which means lots of juice needed – so it ain’t green
  7. Speed…It is only about 50% faster ON PAPER than just using software RAID on an older Mac Pro 

So there have to be good points about this $1000 SATA RAID card?

  1. It is build to order and has Apple Software and Warranty Support
  2. It has a 72 hour battery (usually a $100 upgrade) and 256 meg cache (standard faire).

Yeah, that’s about it. This isn’t even as feature rich as the RAID controller on the XServe that is smaller and lets you do SAS in case you still like SCSI. The speed – mediocre for a RAID card – is barely faster than Software RAID. There are no external ports so you can’t hook up any external SATA drives without buying another card (or wiring the onboard port cables out through the back) – which is a huge loss for professionals. 

So, for those of you who want solutions, not problems let’s look at some alternatives…

On the low end, you can find a number of RAID cards for $150$300 which aren’t going to be as feature rich and you’ll need to check the driver compatibility on Macintosh.

In the midrange,you have a $485 product with MacOSX drivers from HighPoint called the RocketRAID 2340.  This guy packs 16 internal AND External SATA-II ports (downward compatible to SATA 1).  

On the high-end (but still less than the barebones Apple offering), ATTO makes the R348 Adapter for $910.  This card offers SATA, SATA II and SAS (Serial Attatched SCSI) interfaces and speed that will more than likely blow away the Apple product in real world tests.

Still though, Apple will probably do well with this product add-on.  For Sysadmins, it simplifies the ordering/building/warranty process and is probably best adapted and tested by Apple to work with the Mac Pro.  If you are using the Mac Pro as a server – and reliability trumps speed and features, you have more reason to stick with Apple covered products.  Unfortunately, you cannot currently get the Apple Mac Pro RAID card as a stand alone product if you fit into this subset.

Edit: Removed the Adaptec SATA Card because of the lack of driver support for the Mac Platform.  Thanks commentors!

9to5toys 

August 12, 2007

iPhoto 7, part of the new iLife 08 suite, has some great new features, including the much-touted “events” categorization instead of “rolls,” a better levels slider and a new “reduce noise” slider that clears up fuzz (and in the extreme can make your friends look like digital cartoons – nice).

The upgrade is not without its faults, however, and even the most simple of operations

August 10, 2007

Solid state drives

So there is a bit of a quiet revolution going on in the computer world lately. Solid State drives (drives is a legacy term that needs to go – it is not a drive at all) have been coming way down in price over the past few years to the point where they may actually make sense for some normal power users.  Now I am not saying that you should take out your current hard drive and replace it with something marginally faster and about 10 times the price in terms of Gb/$.  That isn’t fun. 

80 Gb 2.5 inch  HD = $60

64GB 2.5 inch solid state >$600

Yes, MacBook hard drives are easy to replace, but,  last time I checked, it wasn’t that much fun to take the hard drive out of a MacBook Pro.  Plus that is kinda pricey.

So what I decided to do is get a Lexar Solid State Express Card from Amazon.   They happened to be having a sale on the largest current available size – 16Gb and I got it for $199.

They also have an 8GB version for about $100 for the lower budget minded.  Word on the street is that there is soon to be a 32GB version which should clock in at a relatively reasonable $400ish.

The first thing I did after inserting the Expresscard  was open Disk Utility and reformat it to HFS+ format (it came in Fat32).  I then did a disk image of Leopard boot disk which is about 8GB.  It only took a few minutes until it was done and popped up on my desktop just like any other drive would do.   I then went to the Startup disk system preference and chose the Express card partition.  Finally, I restarted.  So started the fun things you can do with an Expresscard:

  1. A Boot Drive -The restart seemed to take as much time as the hard drive overall but with noticeably faster “after login” speed.  The machine was very quick even though very few programs were installed on the machine.  I  was able to watch Quicktimes without any problem.  The machine seemed very quick.  I don’t have any benchmarks but I suspect that the battery used less power when the OS was running from a Flash Drive.
  2. A Backup Drive – The 16Gb Expresscard is an awesome backup device.  It worked great as a Tiger backup using Rsync and even better using Time Machine under Leopard.  It isn’t going to be able to save all of your music and photos if you have a big collection, but it is nice to know that my important docks are being backed up often and without my intervention.
  3. A Parallels Image – The Solid state drive comes formatted with a 16Gb Fat32 partition on it, but if you are handy you can probably fit a Linux and a Windows partition on the little memory card.  I simply moved a Parallels Disk image to the card.  I can now take this image between my two MacBook Pros without even having to reboot.
  4. Your Home Directory – The Expresscard file format may be the perfect storm between speed, size, cost and flexibility.  As the size of these drives goes from 16 to 32 to 64 up to 128GB in the next few ears, it is possible that this is what you will take with you to work and school as your mobile home directory.  The size is big enough that it could even be your mobile boot disk as stated in step 1.

Whatever the case these little guys are sure to be valuable, and could possibly be the next big thing...Here’s a link to Amazon’s store where I picked up my card which was very well priced.

EDIT: I know some of you are mad that we linked directly to the torrent site.  The reason we did this is to show people what we are talking about (that it does exist).  People who are going to steal are going to know how to find a torrent.  Those who don’t steal aren’t going to be swayed by our link.  Move along.

Well, that didn’t take very long.  It looks like those Internet “Evil Doers” have  posted Apple’s new lifestyle set of apps on the Internet for all to see.  It is really just unfortunate for Apple, who does not include any sort of serial number or tracking on their consumer applications, to miss out on revenue. I guess at a very reasonable $79.99 price point, they expect most customers to do the right thing and pay to play.   If pirating eats too much into Apple’s bottom line, they will be forced to implement some sort of complicated  hassleware to keep their innovations from being picked up from illegitimate sources.  That would be bad.

On the flip side, I guess it is good to have this sort of thing for people who have defective or lost installer DVDs.

If you are too lazy/scared/morally-not-bankrupt to steal iWork, just head over to Apple’s iWork ’08 trial download page.

People, don’t steal – buy it cheap!

9to5google 

July 25, 2007

Looks like all the shackles are coming off the “protected” iPhone one by one.  Today we learn that cre.ations.net (via O’Grady) has effectively done one of the holy grails of broadband mobile phone usage by enabling the iPhone to share its EDGE (why oh why not 3G Apple?!)connection with a host computer. What’s next hackers? If you are taking requests, turn my iPhone into a junxion box!

 

Don’t believe us?!?!  Roll the tape (after the jump)…

July 23, 2007

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?

June 27, 2007

Not surprisingly, the big four non-Apple civilians who had been given iPhones to play with (and had signed their life away in NDAs) finally showed their cards ahead of the rest of the media yesterday. Also, not a surprise to anyone, they loved it almost unconditionally.  How does the public let Apple get away with this round robin “give us good reviews and you get our newest product early, bad reviews and we give our new products to your competitors” game?  Freedom of the press and Democracy Inaction” as the Daily Show would say…so here they are, your unbiased reviews:

They really all just wrote the same review – what is on Apple’s PR website plus:

  • Pros: It’s a game changer device. Interface, hardware amazing, etc. – which, give credit to Apple: it is revolutionary.

  • Cons: Keyboard takes time to adjust to and has no tactile feedback (duh), EDGE is slow (double duh), no iChat and 200 SMS messages/month (this should be the headline) – but why?  Haven’t any of you heard of Meebo!?  Ever thought to review that?

What is most frustrating about these reviews is the lack of any coverage of the most “Game-Changing” part of the phone. The “Lock-in“.

Why would Apple want to lock you into one particular phone company?  What’s the advantage?  Besides the need to create a CDMA version of the iPhone, not much.  Visual voicemail on T-Mobile?  I am sure it’s not that hard, especially the second time around.   The iTunes registration?  Not much there either.

Why not sell it direct like Nokia is doing with their very capable N95 phone in the US?  More customer base, more options, equals more sales – right?  Why would Apple choose to follow the super lock-in model that T-Mobile has built around the Sidekick – (which relies on 3rd party Danger server but despite the lock-in has had considerable success?)  Maybe, like me, Steve Jobs is super-pissed that he can’t take his Sidekick 3 overseas and use another carrier – even if just for phone and SMSing.   Probably not…in fact, if the Apple people knew this frustration and hate, they would not voluntarily, and without any benefit, lock in their customers to one carrier.

Apple isn’t such a control freak that it would give up customer experience, sales and exposure – all for control..

…well maybe it is.

Because Apple has to be taking some of the monthly customer payment cut.  There is no other logical explanation for why Apple would choose to lock itself in with AT&T.  Now how much?  Probably not a lot.  Maybe $5-10/month.  Maybe a bit more on the SMS plans – otherwise why only 200 SMS messages and no iChat?  But multiply that little amount times 10 million customers and 24 months and you’ve got a pretty healthy chunk of change – not many companies would scoff at a quarter of a billion dollars or more.  Apple has had a taste of the economics of scale from the iTunes store, which besides Apple’s stated best intentions to only make money on iPods, is turning a healthy profit.  Go MBA’s!

For instance if Apple makes 1 cent on each of the 10 billion itunes songs sold through iTunes, that is $100 million.  If they make 10 cents, that is a billion dollars.  Economics of scale are nice when you have a large marketshare, aren’t they Apple?

It is also the reason Apple is having a very difficult time finding a partner in Europe.  They say “Arrogance” is the reason why no one wants to deal with Apple.  This is business…5-10

electrek 

March 11, 2007

This digital document is an article from T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), published by T.H.E. Journal, LLC on September 1, 1988. The length of the article is 2306 words. The page length shown above is based on a typical 300-word page. The article is delivered in HTML format and is available in your Amazon.com Digital Locker immediately after purchase. You can view it with any web browser.

From the supplier: Cornell University’s administrative organization is highly decentralized, and of the 5,000 Macintosh computers on campus, nearly 1,000 are used, at least partly, for administrative purposes. Popular Macintosh applications at the school include: project management support, word processing, desktop publishing, spreadsheet calculation, budgeting, and student recordkeeping. High speed networks are used to join the Macintoshes to Cornell’s mainframe computer. The school also has an Apple Loaner Program that lets administrative departments experiment with Macintosh technology before purchasing equipment, and its Media Services unit uses Macintosh computers to help produce campus publications. Cornell is committed to using technology in support of its mission and goals, and the school expects to see such future microcomputer-related developments as custom programming of administrative applications, and wider networking capabilities.

Citation Details
Title: Cornell finds Macintoshes are useful administrative tools. (Cornell University) (Macintosh Special Issue supplement)
Author: Russell S. Vaught
Publication: T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education) (Refereed)
Date: September 1, 1988
Publisher: T.H.E. Journal, LLC
Volume: v16 Issue: n2 Page: pS66(5)

Distributed by Thomson Gale

Submit a Tip

cancel

Submitting a tip constitutes permission to publish and syndicate. Please view our tips policy or see all contact options.

Powered by WordPress.com VIP