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I talk a lot about technology, this is probably more about advancements or new things. Or just techie ramblings.

Written By: Gary on August 7, 2013 No Comment

I love my Kindle, ever since I got it, I’ve thought it was great. Do I miss reading real books? Certainly! Does it outweigh the convenience of the way I read eBooks? Not a chance! I’ve always got a few books with me and it still weighs the same.

Can you can think of any great features I left out? Please leave a comment and let everyone know…

kindleimage_.jpgCONVIENENCE: With paper books, I always had one in the car and one in the house. I tried to make them two different kinds of books so that I don’t get confused over similar plots (I’d avoid two mysteries at the same time). With my Kindle, I always keep it in the car (I can charge it with cell phone charger) so when I put the same book on the Kindle (in my car) and on my Kindle app on my iPad (in the house), I’m always on the same page since it keeps them synced. This is great, I’m reading the same book in both places.

I can even put the same book on my Kindle app on my iPhone and it’s on the same page too. I hate reading on my iPhone since the pages are so small, but if I don’t have my Kindle or my iPad, it gives me something to read if I’m stuck somewhere. If it starts raining while I’m out running and I take shelter somewhere, I can still read (or I’m meeting friends and they are late).

BETTER THAN A TABLET FOR OUTSIDE READING: The Kindle is great for outdoors and my iPad is great for indoors. If I want to read outside on the porch I’ll get the Kindle to read outside or grab one of the few paper magazine subscriptions that I still get. The glare that you get outside on the iPad is the same glare you’ll get on the other color tablets (Kindle Fire and Nook HD). Only the black and white eReaders look readily good outside.

YOU CAN TEST DRIVE A BOOK: Most Amazon Kindle books are available with a preview of the first few chapters for free.

I CAN BORROW BOOKS: Some libraries are able to lend you Kindle eBooks (large selection for most Michigan libraries via the state). You can borrow Amazon eBooks from friends who have a Kindle. You can join a free on-line book lending club like lendle.me (please use my referral code TTXLDIO1 if you do and I get a few extra borrows).

SUPER BONUS! I can get books that do not exist in print! Some authors big and small only release some books in eBook format. Usually for the really big authors it’s some super short book (“singles”) and they’re only a few dollars.

MONEY: Prices are another great bonus, some authors (more independent authors sell their eBooks for $4.99 while the paperback might be $9.99. Some authors have been releasing books as eBooks first since they can get to press faster. One of my favorite authors is updating one of my favorite kids/YA series of books so that they are a little more modern, she starting writing these books 30 years ago and things have changed since the time of the Apple II (we now have internet, smartphones, WiFi and text messaging) while at the same time clarifying some plot points and even adding a few scenes and plot enhancements, these are only available as ebooks at this point.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SHOP AT AMAZON.COM FOR YOUR BOOKS: You can buy your books other places and put them on your Kindle yourself. It’s not as convenient, but sometimes it’s a bit (or a lot) cheaper.

marsburning.pngSUPER SALES: Cidney Swanson just released the 4th book in her excellent Saving Mars series (titled Mars Burning) currently only available as an eBook. As a bonus she put the book on sale for 99 cents for the first few days to help get the word out. Where are you going to get a new book for that cheap anywhere? While writing this, I just noticed the first 3 eBooks are also on sale for 99 cents!!! These are not small books, all the printed copies are 350+ pages long. This looks like this ends Aug. 8th, 2013 and will (probably) be $4.99 each after (but you can get the whole set for $3.96 now!). These are on-sale at the same price at the Nook and Kobo stores too! Book 1 is free at the Kobo store. All these bonuses at once are more the exception and not the rule, but it’s a pretty nice thing that happens occasionally.

APPS FOR MY iPAD and iPHONE (and other devices): You do NOT need a Kindle to benefit from the features that I talk about. You can just put the app on your iPad and you can get the cheap books and use books from other vendors and everything. But it’s going to have the glare on the screen if you go outside (the same glare that the Kindle Fire will have outside too).

I KEEP MY ELECTRONICS MANUALS ON HAND: As an added bonus, my Kindle will read PDF documents. So I’ve put the manuals for all my portable devices (cameras, GPS, bluetooth speakers, car stereo, bike rack, etc.) on my Kindle so that I’ve always got them with me (just in case). I rarely use them, but the few times I’ve needed them while on vacation, I already had them with me. The PDF viewing is not as nice as the Kindle eBooks, but it is usable. It generally works very well for portable device manuals that are normally pretty small anyways; a large full page manual would be hard to navigate around on the small screen (but it’s doable if you just need to look something up).

Most of the features I listed above are Kindle specific, other brands may have similar features (or many not.

Written By: Gary on March 13, 2013 One Comment

Seriously, Google is retiring Google Reader? I feel like they’re trying to get into every corner of the internet and they’re giving this up? I thought they had the market on this, maybe I wrong and there is something better. But many many feed readers (clients) support this program and they’re giving it up…

Am I expressing my disbelief enough? I’m not even sure what I’d chose as an alternative. I think bloglines is still around (wasn’t it supposed to go away?) but do they support third party APIs? I need to do it on the desktop via the web (and/or a client) and I need to also be able to do it on my iPhone and iPad while keeping all the feeds synced so that I’m not rereading them.

retire-reader.png

I gotta tell you, personally, I think this is going to affect me more than if I heard that gmail would be shut down. I can get and set up and support other e-mail accounts, there are standards there, I don’t think there are standards for syncing feeds and unread feed data, is there? It’s not the only service Google is shutting down.

That said: I’m clearly looking for suggestions for a feed reader that I can use on the web and have client software (apps) on my iDevices that will keep them all in sync. To be clear, I need the feeds themselves to sync but then items I read need to be marked as read on all devices. And I’ve got to figure it out before July 1, 2013!

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Written By: Gary on August 21, 2012 No Comment

What’s the cost difference between purchasing an iPhone and an iPad? Not just the cost but what are you missing between one product and another. We’re going to talk about price first, but you need to remember an iPhone is not $199, it’s $649 for an unlocked world phone. A subsidized iPhone with a contract is $649. We’re talking prices of the latest models with 16GB (the lowest). On one hand, why would you buy an iPhone without a plan? But on the other hand, why would you buy an iPad with cellular and not activate it? But if you need a smartphone with a data plan anyways, you’re really only going to pay $199, but it’s not fair for me to compare those numbers.

Why am I focusing on this aspect of the pricing? Because if people see an iPhone (with contract) for $199 and last years iPad for $399, it just seems obvious that they could make a $299 tablet in-between the size. But when you compare a $199 8GB iPod Touch and a $199 16GB iPhone (with lots more features) it doesn’t’ seem so clear.

iPhone 4S For Dummies Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitusSo right there, the prices are remarkably similar: an iPad with cellular is $629 and the iPhone is $649, pretty much the same price. That’s interesting when you consider the screen size of the iPad is more than four times the size of the iPhone and the battery is pretty huge too.

What other differences do we have between the two models: the camera flash (not on iPad), the vibrator for alerts / calls (not on iPad), the phone (not on iPad), battery life (I think the iPad has much longer life), camera on iPhone better than iPad (not sure if iPad lenses are as nice as iPhone), digital compass (not certain, but not listed in tech specs for iPad) and maybe a few others I missed. All these differences have been there for the last several years, not just the latest models. While the specific number of mega-pixels changes, the iPhone camera has always been better. I’m specifically not talking about LTE as a difference as it’s expected the Fall 2012 iPhone (6) will have this feature and the phones (and iPads) have stayed at the same prices for several years.

iPad For Dummies Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitusFrom an electronics cost standpoint that screen and battery have got to cost a lot more for the iPad. The iPhone has all those features, but none of them seem super expensive; don’t forget the IPhone does require the additional electronics for making a phone call, but you can get that (and vibrate) in a $19 pay as you go phone. But still, it seems like the pricing is quite similar. So is the iPhone overpriced or is the iPad underpriced?

If you drop the cellular for the iPad it goes down to $499, but you lose the cellular and the GPS. You can still get the 16GB iPad 2 for $399, but it’s got the non-retina display and the cameras aren’t as nice.

Switching gears a little: Let’s factor in the iPod Touch, it’s more of a poor iPad Jr., but it’s only $199 for 8GB ($299 for 32GB). iPod touch For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)) Tony BoveIt’s got the same size/resolution screen as an iPhone (but it’s not as nice quality, contrast, or brightness, and no oleophobic coating), it’s got significantly lower quality cameras, no GPS, no vibrate, and no compass, but somehow they make it for $199 (it didn’t get a refresh of any significance last year, but these specs are still below the previous year iPhone). Still a lot of power for $199 (I think it used to be $229 or $219).

So what does that mean if the rumors are true and they make an iPad mini? For $299 can they decrease the size of the iPad 2 screen / memory or (depending on how you look at it) increase the size of the iPod Touch? I think so. I don’t know what that says for what they’ll do about camera quality, but I really think they can make a smaller 7-8 inch tablet for $299. They can’t go much higher without getting too close to the $399 iPad 2 pricing and they want to stay closer to the other tablet pricing (the Kindle Fire is $199). If they could go $249, they’d have the market (IMHO), I don’t see them going to $199 unless they have some way to subsidize an iPad Mini (data, video, etc).

Back to comparing the iPhone and the iPod touch: It’s really really hard for me to see the price jump up to an iPhone for $649 (to compare fairly, the 32GB iPod Touch is $299 and the 32GB iPhone is $749), that’s $450 more for cellular, GPS, vibrate, nicer screen, nicer camera, compass and a bigger battery. I could probably buy a Kindle Fire, GPS and camera for $450 (that’s 3 more screens and 3 more batteries) and integrating them would certainly be cheaper especially since Apple is already doing it with the iPhone, so production costs are already reduced.
I’m assuming R&D, manufacturing and shipping costs to be proportionately similar between these devices. But with such similarities between these products, I assume there is lots of savings too.

And back to the iPod Touch: I do think this means an update for the iPod touch, price drop (or both) or removal from the product line (or rename it the iPad Jr.). I don’t see the removal as being likely, it’s a good way to recruit younger kids into the iOS family. For a while it looked like they might make it into a gaming machine but that marketing disappeared after a while. Last year got a while iPod touch, but the breakdowns revealed very little compared to last years models.

Did I leave any differences out? Anything else I should mention in regards to hardware?

Written By: Gary on July 12, 2012 No Comment

It really wasn’t that long ago that people didn’t have e-mail. Twenty years ago* Dephi was the first commercial on-line service to offer internet e-mail to it’s customers. I’m not saying some people didn’t have internet e-mail before that, I’m just stating this was a turning point even though it was still a while before other providers offered the same service. A few of you may have had e-mail before then, but if it was a commercial service, it was likely an island (people could only e-mail other subscribers of your service) and some larger universities started rolling it out for students around the same time.

emailAt the time, it was where can I go to check my mail when I’m out of touch. On-line access from other places was an issue. Laptops were expensive and if you had one to take with you, you needed to tie up the phone line to use it. Dial-up was generally the only way to access the internet and if you went somewhere else where you didn’t have access, you couldn’t check your mail. Even if someone had a computer, it didn’t mean they had a modem and even if you brought your own, it didn’t mean they had a phone line near the computer.

Checking your e-mail and other messages is easy these days. You can do it on your phone, your computer, your tablet, our iPod and you can even check it on devices like your Kindle. You can probably do it on the whatever device you’re using to this…

E-Mail for Dummies, Second Edition John R. Levine, Carol Baroudi, Margaret Levine Young, Arnold ReinholdThese days, it’s an issue of how many places do I need to check my messages. E-mail (work, home, old accounts), text messages (home and/or work), Skype messages, Facebook and any other countless services you may have. Plus, every time you buy a device or get a new service someone gives you a new e-mail account (cable company, eBay, cell phone company, iPhone, iPad, smart phone, etc.). Your charge cards, banks, health insurance and more all have their own private messaging system that send you an e-mail to tell you that you have a message on their site, “your fill in the blank company has sent you a message, please log into your account to read it”. Those were just the practical sites, you’ve still got social networks (Facebook, MySpace, Google+, Twitter, FourSquare, etc.), photo sharing sites, YouTube, travel sites, dating sites, technical support sites or some sites related to some hobby you may have; odds are you don’t have all of those, but you probably have some.

Back to e-mail: Finding old e-mail is confusing sometimes. I know someone mentioned a book to me, but where?!? Did they e-mail me? Did they send me a Twitter message? Did they write it as a comment on that Facebook post when I was talking about books a few months ago? Did they mention the book when we were confirming plans for something else unrelated? It’s definitely the information overload age…

We’re more connected. But are we better connected?

This isn’t really the post I started to write, but where I was trying to go is such a big subject, I think it’s going to take multiple posts.

Written By: Gary on June 6, 2012 No Comment

WIth today’s (alleged) password breach of LinkedIn, it made me think to change some passwords. Why? Because I had a few accounts that use the same passwords. Yes, I know that’s bad. But they were “unimportant” to me at the time I was checking them out, but later they because more important and yet I still had a week password.

If you don’t know why it’s bad here’s why: password.jpegNow that they’ve got your login and password, the bad guys are going to start plugging in that password into every computer system out there (Facebook, Amazon, Google, the USPS, Twitter, etc.) and knowing many of you, they’re probably all the same. Some variation doesn’t count, having your google password is gary1234google means someone’s probably going to guess for Facebook it’s gary1234facebook. There are computers out there trying to guess your password all day long, I promise you.

A few of the sites I could log into, but couldn’t find where to change my password. So I logged out and clicked “I forgot my password” and it sent information to my e-mail account on how to reset the password.

They’ve mentioned it’s only a small number of the passwords stolen (6 million), it’s assumed the other 150 million users were also compromised, they just had easier passwords to crack. They also believe that a bunch of eHarmony passwords were breached also, because many of the passwords consisted of the words “harmony” or eHarmony”. I think most of this is done for money, but do you really want some bored hacker posting your eHarmony information to your LinkedIn profile?

To clarify about my accounts, most of my accounts that deal with money all have unique passwords (and unique logins) the same goes for my places that I shop. But a few older accounts still had some older shorter passwords. Does it matter to me if someone hacks those passwords? Maybe not, but still I want my Flicker photos right where I put them.

With a site like “www.HowSecureIsMyPassword.net” you can punch in some passwords and it’ll tell you how long they might take to hack. FYI, most 8 character (letter and numbers) are about 3 hours. Try it, you don’t have to give them your password (if you don’t trust it), if you use a word, year or name, just try a different name and year, just so you can see (how many minutes or seconds it takes).

Also, keep in mind if someone has access to your e-mail, they can have your password reset at many sites and have the change password information sent to the compromised e-mail (that someone else has access). Some sites are smart, Ticketmaster when resetting your password, also deletes your credit card information.

Back to my passwords: Keep in mind some sites the function changes. Maybe when I created that password at the Post Office or FedEx, I just used it for tracking alerts or vacation holds. But now they might let me purchase postage or other things that I just couldn’t buy when I set it up with a non-complicated example.

And I know some people don’t worry about shopping accounts, because they don’t keep their credit card information on-line. But all your receipts are in there, you might want that someday (and where you had all that stuff sent). What if you sign up for that Amazon card with the $50 bonus and it automatically puts it into your account?

And when your computer remembers passwords for you, that’s great, but who else uses your computer? You trust them, but do you trust they won’t download a virus or something that will steal that information? What happens if you lose that computer or it’s stolen?

Personally, I keep passwords on my computer just to wake it up from sleep mode. Passwords on my iPhone (10 tries and it deletes all the data on it). I even keep a password on my Kindle, why? Because I occasionally check my mail or access my Amazon account on it.

I was surprised that some of the apps on my phone didn’t need new passwords. They had already authenticated to the other accounts so many seemed okay. I’m not sure I liked that…

Written By: Gary on March 31, 2012 One Comment

It’s World Backup Day! It’s not that you should only backup once a year, it’s an awareness day. So I guess it should be called “Backup Awareness Day”. But seriously, you should backup your important documents and photos all the time. Why? Because you’ll be very sad / upset / angry when you lose those files. Please notice, I said “when”, not “if”. Moving your photos to a different device (and deleting off the computer) is not a backup, it’s the only copy. Multiple copies is alwaysrecommended!!!

worldbackupday.png

If it’s an important document, save multiple copies. If it’s your resume (CV), save it as “Resume March 2012″ so that you’ve got previous versions of the file if something happens. If you’ve made massive changes to that document, just e-mail a copy to yourself; the copy in your mail account is an off site backup. When I do new technology plans (100 page documents) I save new versions every few hours, I don’t want to think I moved those 10 pages from section 7 to section 5 and realize later I never pasted them, I can go back and get an earlier version of those pages later.

If it’s photos, don’t wait until your camera is full, that’s the only copy of those photos, if you lose the camera, it gets stolen, or something else weird happens, you lose all those photos!!! Even uploading them to a site like Walgreens, Costco, Kodak or wherever you might send your photos is a backup (it’ll cost to get your photos out, but at least they aren’t lost); these places don’t guarantee that they’ll keep your photos but they do want you to share them and print more copie$ of them, just be sure you’re uploading the largest possible size photos. Facebook is not good for this, they do not keep high quality versions of the photos, they will not be good for printing later.

Every so often back your documents and photos up to multiple DVD (standard DVD’s hold more than 4 GB) and make multiple copies; once you’ve got them sorted making five copies isn’t much harder than making one copy. Keep a copy at your Mom’s house or at your kids house or in your safe deposit box. You don’t want all the copies at the same place in case there is a fire and they all burn down. Then you can delete these photos from the cloud and you’ve got more space for more photos.

The last few versions of the Macintosh OS will back up to an external drive via Time Capsule and you can go back in time and look at what version was on the computer at a particular time (it’s very cool and easy).

There are off site services you can use (I use Dropbox).

Syncing your photo to your computer generally backs up the phone numbers, calendar, photos and more. The latest version of the iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) will back up automatically daily to the iCloud if you wish; the problem with this is it’s an all or nothing option when you want to restore.

All photos that you take with your iPhone or iPad get automatically backed up to the iCloud. These then show up on your computer in the iPhoto Photo Stream. If you import from a camera to iPhoto, it automatically puts those photos in the Photo Stream and you can see them on all the devices you’ve synced with the iCloud (including your AppleTV). It only keeps the last 1,000 photos and doesn’t keep any videos, but it’s a partial backup. So this is an automatic download that I get have in the cloud too.

Backing up is especially important if your main computer is a portable device. You can earlier drop or have stolen your laptop or tablet, you need those files backed up!

Written By: Gary on March 20, 2012 2 Comments

For an amazing device it’s got a few little things that make me cRaZy…

FYI, this is my iPad 3, but I think all of these things are iOS 5.1 iPad related, not “the new iPad 3″ related:

  • Why does the Photo App not let me send photos to the Message App? I can e-mail and tweet them. Plus I can pick photos from within the Message App. It’s a very big inconsistency between the iPhone and iPad platforms.
  • The number of Apps (or folders) on an individual screen on the iPad is 20, it’s laid out 4×5, until you turn it sideways then it’s 5×4 and most of the Apps are not in the same place any more! I know where it is but then it’s in a different location, I can’t find anything! Let’s make it 5×5 so everything can stay the same! Any there is definitely room, you can put up to six (6) icons in the dock at the bottom!Apple iPad 2 MC979LL/A Tablet (16GB, Wifi, White) 2nd Generation Apple Computer
  • Why isn’t there a Weather App? It’s not that the Weather App was amazing, it bothers me in that it means that there isn’t a weather widget in the notification pull-down; I never realized how much I used that!
  • Why didn’t they build Siri into this? It just seemed like a no-brainer to have put in it. I knew this feature wasn’t in there but still disappointed.
  • No Clock App. Which means no alarms or timers. The bonus of using this app was that the sounds even go off if the iPhone was muted. I used this all the time. And I used Siri for it all the time (“Siri, set a timer for 3 minutes”). I had no idea that wasn’t in there.

So since these all appear to be software related, I expect they’ll fix them all for me by the next iOS release, right?

These are a few smaller complaints that I’ll mention (since I’m here anyways): My iPad (covers iPad, iPad 2 and iPad 3rd gen running iOS 5.1) (4th Edition) Gary Rosenzweig

  • No vibrate option for alerts of any type. This is minor but it was nice even if I had it muted, it’d slightly vibrate on the table. I knew this wasn’t in there, but I miss it.
  • No camera option on the lock screen. I’ve got a icon for a digital picture frame, but not for the camera?!?
  • Minor differences to the iPhone settings: iPad Sounds is hidden in General while on the iPhone Brightness is hidden in General. It just doesn’t make any sense (to me).
  • The Camera App doesn’t do High Dynamic Range (HDR). Assuming that’s only software, but if it’s hardware (and I thought it was the same camera, but different lens, as the iPhone 4).

P.S. Twenty items on the screen also means twenty items in a folder (only 12 on the iPhone), I love this part, but even the folders jump from 4×5 to 5×4 when you turn the iPad sideways.

Written By: Gary on March 14, 2012 No Comment

So this amplifier for the iPhone by Bone is very cool. It’s requires no power and it’s made of silicone (rubber?) and your iPhone just sits in it and it’s significantly louder. It surprised me a lot when I got mine.

bone-amp.pngDid I tell you it’s less than $4 shipped?!? It says that the “horn” increases the sound up to 13dB.

The amplifier is available in Black, Red, White and Blue too. The red one says it’s good for the iPhone 3, 3G, 4, and 4S (although the package for mine only mentions the iPhone 4). I assume it would work on an iPod Touch if the speakers are also at the bottom (a reviewer says this works on the recent touches also). It’s got room to plug in the power cable at the bottom too.

Written By: Gary on March 13, 2012 No Comment

This is why I canceled my new Verizon iPad 4G LTE order…

It’s really not as drastic as it seems, I still have my order in for an AT&T iPad 3, I only canceled my Verizon order. When they were first announced I wasn’t sure which one would be better to get to use globally either Verizon or AT&T; you’d think those companies would have information published so you’d choose them(?). So, as a result of no information, I ordered both, with plans to cancel or return one…

It seems that AT&T has faster LTE, but it’s very limited deployment at this time (and the Detroit area isn’t included, yet); AT&T appears faster, maybe if everyone was using it, it would slow down(?). On the other hand Verizon LTE is in my area.

But my question was/is, what’s going to be more useful globally for LTE; the 3G GSM seems to be universal world-wide, I’m not sure about the HSPA+ (4G-ish) standards around the world. This is me talking, so realize when I say globally, I mean Costa Rica. Costa Rica cell service has just gone from a monopoly to three (or 4?) carriers in the last few months; rumors/plans for LTE in Costa Rica are around but no specifics that I can find.

LTE is “Long Term Evolution” what some people consider 4G, but there really isn’t a good definition and I’ve read there are 30+ different incompatible implementations of LTE around the world. The
iPhone 4s has HSPA (or is it HSPA+) which AT&T labels as 4G (FYI, before the software upgrade last week, it would have shown up on your phone as 3G). And technically 4G is even faster than LTE can provide, so it’s hard to tell. Sometimes LTE is called 3GPP.

So the more I researched this the more I realized I wasn’t going to get a good answer. The iPad 3 is almost identical to each other, the Verizon has CDMA frequencies but is lacking one of the LTE frequencies that AT&T has. This had me leaning towards AT&T already (and their GSM 3G service on the iPhone works great in Costa Rica) but then I started looking around. In the United States we’ve got the AT&T model and Verizon model of the iPad but when I looked at Canada, France and Japan it appeared that the model they had available was identical to the AT&T model (and Costa Rica isn’t on the list for release yet). So that kind of made my decision, I opted for the AT&T and canceled my Verizon order. This worked out for me in that it was actually too late to cancel the AT&T model on-line, I would have had to refused delivery (which would have been tricky since they probably would have been delivering both at the same time) or I’d have to return it later.

I haven’t seen anything yet to make me decide that I should have gotten the Verizon one yet but I think Apple has the two week return policy (with no restocking fee) even if you buy it on-line. So if anyone hears anything different, please let me know!

Apple’s specs for the Wi-Fi + 4G for AT&T model:
4G LTE (700, 2100 MHz);
UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

A semi-big Verizon benefit is that they are going to allow tethering to share it’s Internet connection with your laptop (or other iPads) at no extra charge (other than the data you use) while AT&T is not going to do this. But I’m not sure how that will actually work globally so I’m not sure if it will matter to me.

Speaking of cellular data in Costa Rica, I generally get better speeds than I get in Michigan for the GSM 3G service. Actually, the more remote in Costa Rica I am (as long as there is cell service) the faster my data seems to be. I think that’s just because there are less people using it. If you’re looking at traveling with your AT&T phone, they’ve really dropped the pricing on their international data plans and they pro-rate them them pretty good (in the customer’s favor, IMHO).

Written By: Gary on November 9, 2011 One Comment

On the Detroit to Atlanta part of my trip, the gogo wireless on the airplane it was $4.95 for the whole flight, but they offered 15 minutes for only $1.95.

gogo-195.png

I didn’t think that was too bad of a price, so I thought I might do it on the next leg of the trip. But they didn’t offer that option later on. Actually, it’s was only $4.95 for the whole flight (both flights) and I didn’t think that was too bad either. Didn’t airplane internet access originally start off at $10 or $15?

There were some services you could access like movie rentals and shopping. It also looked like it was set up for flight tracking, but that didn’t seem to be working. It knew where we were heading, how hight we were and how fast we were going (500+ miles/hour).

Written By: Gary on October 21, 2011 No Comment

I had a list of the things that I wanted on the new iPhone 5. Yes, I said iPhone 5, this is the 5th iPhone no matter what you want to call it. I take a lot of photos and it’s not so important that I use my phone, but the phone is the best way to be able to upload them on the go. If the phone would use the USB/SD reader that the iPad uses (used?) I’d probably rely on the phone camera less. So I had a list of what I wanted and some things that would be a bonus for me, most of them revolving around photos or video. Everything else is great on the iPhone it just needed to be be faster and have more storage.
iPhone 4S All-in-One For Dummies Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd
I Needed:

  • More megapixels with a better lens.
  • Image stabilization.
  • More storage space.
  • Faster (of course).
  • Faster downloads and uploads (of course).

Would like:

  • Better front facing camera
  • Light for the front facing camera
  • Significantly better rear camera. Make the camera thicker to accommodate better lens with real zoom.
  • SD slot or USB adaptor

But I saw none of these possibly happening except maybe a slightly better front facing camera.

They actually met everything in my “needed to buy” list, it’d have been a dilemma if they’d only met a few. I was not expecting the faster downloads but that’ll be on my want list every model. The camera went from 5 MP to 8MP, from a 4 to 5 lens optics system. They also added image stabilization for the video (I’m not sure if that helps the stills too?). Yes, I really like that this phone is meeting exceeding my basic photography needs.

They increased the speed (they say doubled, but the on-line speed tests say about 70% faster) and increased the graphics speed by seven times. How many years go by before you see that much improvement in a new computer? That’s why this is the iPhone 5!

They also add the Siri personal assistant for doing tasks verbally and taking dictation. This was not a selling point to me, it was a fun bonus.

There are a bunch of other perceived features on the iPhone 4s but many of those are iOS 5 upgrades and most run on the previous version or two of the phone already.

Another huge rea$on to upgrade now: Gazelle.com offered me $340 for my phone (assuming they evaluate it the same way I did), that price has already dropped about $120 since I got my quote from them (which was Sept. 14th and I had 30 days to ship it back) they just got it yesterday but they haven’t evaluated it yet. But imagine when the iPhone 6 comes out how much more that price will have dropped.

Yes, I do realize this process rationalizes me upgrading every year. But I like this phone, I think I use it more than I watch television (and sometimes I use it to do that!).

I wish they’d put something extra in the $299 model, like a better front facing camera with a flash or more RAM. It kills me to pay an extra $100 for the first 16 GB upgrade and then the extra $100 for the next 32GB; I wish there was some extra minor difference that would be a bonus for paying that “Apple Tax”…

iPhoto '11: The Missing Manual (Missing Manuals) (English and English Edition) David Pogue, Lesa SniderQuick mini-review:
It certainly feels faster, I wish they’d upgraded the RAM too (still at 512 MB), I’d think that would help with multiple applications open and bouncing between them. Occasionally, I see the faster download/upload speeds but nothing stellar so far.

I quite often would throw my tiny Canon sd780 in my pocket when I’d go out, just in case. That will now happen less, since I’ll already have something with me. If it’s an event or party, I’ll grab a camera to keep in hand, but if I don’t know for sure I’ll be taking pictures, I won’t grab one of my Canons (either pocket, digital SLR or video). I can see the image stabilization when recording video. Plus, they made the video be 1080p too; although I almost wish I could turn 1080p off, it’s eating up the space and it’s really not that necessary (at least that’s how I feel at this point).

And Siri is amazing. You just have to try her it out. I actually use my portable keyboard less since the dictation is so good.

UPDATE: So when I took my phone out of the case while the phone looked great, there were a lot of scratches along the metal edges of the housing and a few on the back, I thought the front looked great (they also mentioned a few minor on the front) but I do trust these guys, there are too many good reviews and I’ve used them before too. So they only offered me $260 (or they’ll mail it back for free). As I said above prices drop, so taking it somewhere else at this makes no sense and I’d have done it for that price anyways (I think).

Written By: Gary on October 18, 2011 No Comment

It’s really more of a history of entertainment and communications technology and how it grew (or shrunk) into the iPhone. The iPhone part is pretty small overall (it’s not just an Apple video).

CNET UK Presents: History of the iPhone from Drew Stearne on Vimeo.

history-iphone.pngI thought it was a good introduction to technology video and pretty easy to follow. Lots of text and it moves pretty quick, you’ll want to make it full screen to read the details (pay attention to the prices!).

Written By: Gary on August 23, 2011 No Comment

Yes, I know it’s not an iPad but it’s a Kindle, a video Skype Phone, a clock(!) or a variety of other things. Once they crack it and put android on it, I’ll probably wish I’d bought the bigger one. These were actually nice tablets at $500, but they weren’t an iPad, but for $99 it’ll do.

As you can see, I’ve redacted most of the information below because it changes so quickly. I expect all vendors will be dropping price, keep your eyes on SlickDeals.net, if you scroll down you can see they are even keeping a list of who has them at full price (because they’ll be dropping).

Their servers are getting nailed so be patient. Just click to order and wait until it times out, then try again…

Barnes and Nobel has 16 GB for $101.95 as of 6am Eastern (but they still want $600 for the 32 GB). I’d order one, but I haven’t gotten a rejection letter from my CostCentral order (that I’m guessing was sold out).

Cost Central has the 16 GB for $99 and the 32 GB for $149. hptouchpad.jpg

As of 10 PM eastern Cost Central had 10,000 of the 32 GB and 7,000 of the 16 GB (this is listed on the product pages). It was $9 for shipping (that may vary) and probably no sales tax for 49 out of 50 states.

These were on Amazon Sunday for the same pricing and I spent too much time researching it before purchased it and they sold out (I guess HP had them for that price earlier). So I had a little regret about it, but then I saw these. Even if I get a rejected order message, I’m sure the other places that have them still at $500+ will be dropping prices, so keep your eyes on that SlickDeals link above, they’ll keep it updated with who has it in stock.

You can get Touchpad specs and overview at the HP Site.

Supposedly PCmall and MacMall have them, but their sites are even hit worse, 32GB or 16 GB.

In case you are wondering why the price is so low: HP is spinning off it’s hardware business and discontinuing the mobile / tablet (hardware) business. I think these devices just came out in July 2011.

UPDATE: I actually ordered these from two places, the one canceled after a week, the other still says it’s expecting a shipment (but I’m not sure from where at this point). So it looks like I’m not getting one…

UPDATE 2: Early November, the second company sadly canceled my order. Looks like it’s time for a Kindle Fire!

Written By: Gary on August 11, 2011 No Comment

My favorite episode of Doctor Who is probably Turn Left. How one tiny little thing can change the world, whether you decided to turn right or turn left. And in telling the story, a time-travel type story (but not exactly), they manage to integrate the rest of the Doctor Who universe. As the others stand up to fill the void, they save the day, but leave our world with one less hero, until there are none left.

donna-rose-turn-left.jpg

Rose and Donna, working together, stopping the stars from going out.

At the end, she whispers two words into Donna’s ear, a message for the Doctor. It never crossed my mind what the two words might be, until The Doctor asked and then it hit me(!), I knew without a doubt what the two words were and then Donna said them and DW fandom went wild! It’s funny, I don’t know if Rose ever said those two words to this Doctor…?

Why I didn’t want to pick that one is because you just can’t go and watch it if you aren’t a big follower of Doctor Who because it references so many things it just isn’t relevant to a non-fan. Turn Left is a very non-Doctor episode, what’s funny is my second favorite episode is Midnight, which is a very non-Donna episode, takes place right before this episode, but could be watched on it’s own, Midnight is David Mamet meets sci-fi.

Other favorite episodes that stand on their own:

  • Rose – The first episode of the 2005 reboot.
  • 2005 Christmas Special – The transition between Doctor’s nine and ten; plus a real Torchwood reference and Harriet Jones.
  • Smith and Jones – The first episode with Martha. This was the first season I ever watched in order.
  • The Shakespeare Code – Martha, The Doctor and Will Shakespeare.
  • Blink – Spooky! A non-Doctor and non-Martha episode.
  • Vincent and the Doctor - Amy, The Doctor and Vincent Van Gogh (and an alien)
Written By: Gary on June 22, 2011 No Comment

So when driving during rush hours, I listen to WWJ 950 AM for traffic reports on the 8’s. But the don’t get a chance to report every problem every report and sometimes I miss the last report as I’m walking out the door. So I also subscribe (for free) to Traffic.com (which is run or sponsored by NAVTEQ) and they send me text alerts during the time frame that I select (Usually about the hour before I need to be there). Usually if they don’t send me one, the ride is pretty good, so it’s been very helpful. If they do send me one, I pay attention to the on-ramp before I get on the highway or if they say it’s really bad, I’ll take an alternate route.

traffictext

It’s just traffic for the expressway part, and they think I have 9 minutes on the express way and there is a 2 minute delay (total 11). I think they’re being generous, my experience is to double or triple the number they use for the delay; plus, it’s never 9 minutes on the expressway unless it’s the middle of the day or late at night.

As you can see there is a number to call and there is also a mobile web site at mobi.traffic.com, but I’ve never used those. For me, the text is just enough to tell me that if I’m in a hurry that I might have some delays. But I have a relatively short ride, when there is no traffic, it’s just during rush hour that it stinks, and I’ve got limited options.

They’ve also got an Traffic.com iPhone app (and an ad-free version for $3) and one for Blackberry.

I can see my routes (from the web site) on the iPhone app and it tells me how bad the traffic is. This is helpful for routes that I take often, but not often enough to where I want text messages. I use this for for a quick glance when heading to the doctor’s office after work so that I’m not late.

The thing is, when it texts me, I remember; when I have to look at the app, I forget…

Written By: Gary on May 18, 2011 No Comment

I saw the Hasbro my3D at the store yesterday and just had to have it. It makes for an interesting interactive 3D experience. Hasbro 362190000 my3D Viewer for iPod Touch and iPhone - White Hasbro CEYou need an iPhone or iPod Touch to use it and I think it works better with the newer ones that have the gyroscope built-in. But there are a half-dozen my3D apps you can get from the Apple App store for free and a few you can pay for; as of today five my3D apps are free and one is 99 cents and another is $4.99 (both have free “lite” versions). A few months ago, they were giving all the games away for free, so I grabbed them while they were free(!)

Sector 17 is the space game, looks pretty cool and is fun for the bit that I played with it. The image below is the two halves of the image that I was looking at alternating; if you can alternately wink at three-tenths of a second, it probably looks 3D to you.

sector-17-ani.gif

All the games have no more than two buttons to play (where your thumbs stick into the device), but you do a lot of head tilting and spinning around to make some of the games work. Sector 17 and 360° Sharks really require standing. Sector 17 has a “couch mode” but it’s a lot harder to play; I believe not having a gyroscope model if the iDevice is like playing in “couch mode”. My old first generation iPod Touch (I think it’s 1st gen) works with the few games I tried.

shark-360.jpg

They’ve got a pretty good thing going here, $35 for a hunk of plastic and a few games, plus they’ll charge you for more games in the future. At 99 cents, I’d probably buy most of them to try it out, at $4.99 I’d probably try the lite version until I was bored (for $4.99 the space game does look pretty cool).

There is a Teleport L.A. game (that is more for kids) on a pier in Los Angeles which is all 3D 360° that you can pan around, this would be cooler if it were the Grand Canyon, the Moon or the Pyramids! And there is another more kid-like game called Bubble Bolt that you can roll around in a hamster ball collecting points. The iamge below is how is it looks on your iPhone screen.

teleport-la-both frames.PNG

A game called ShatterStorm is like the classic Tempest, but I thought it was a little hard to control. Spinning my head around like I did the controller back in the ’80s just doesn’t work for me.

There are separate snap on trays trays for different iDevice models (they could be labeled better) and there is a open cutout for the camera on my iPhone 4, so some interactive 3D VR type games are a possibility!

Pluses:

  • I don’t need my (reading) glasses to use it.
  • It’s 3D and 3D is cool!

Downsides:

  • I have to remove my iPhone from the case to use it.
  • Lots of game load times, these programs are very large (one was 500 MB!) and they have lots of loading time between levels and menus.

  • The default volume for the music in the background is very loud (it drowns out the game sounds), but it’s all adjustable (and so is the sound effects volume).
  • The games seem to work better if you have the model with the gyroscope, it’s more intuitive; you just look verses tilting your head. Although some games like the Tempest clone are just tilting your head left or right.

It’s actually cheaper shipped on-line (via Target at Amazon) then at the store (I paid $35), I asked at the counter but they wouldn’t match their own price (“that’s just to compete with other on-line services”), but I guess it didn’t matter, I bought it anyways. The plastic part will come down in price, they actually have a unique code on the viewfinder you need to input (one time) into a game before you play it.

UPDATE: And as of the update a few minutes ago, my3D Sector 17 started working with Apple’s Game Center. Also, this app has shrunk in size (from 434MB to 270MB).

Written By: Gary on April 2, 2011 One Comment

If you don’t know by now, I’m a Macintosh fan as in: “Hi! My name is Gary and I’m a Mac User…”. This is from last week’s Friday Question, but I never got around to it.

I was a PC user before I used Mac and when I say PC, I mean DOS user, not Windows. Actually, I used Windows before that, but I wasn’t really a fan at the time, I think the last machine that I had was a laptop with floppy (no hard drive) that I had a crazy way set up to boot it and put some of Microsoft Works in the RAM drive and then I stuck in disc 2 with the dictionary and room for some documents (or something like that).

Apple MacBook MC516LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop Apple ComputerBut where I was doing work they were Macintosh so I was always converting my word processing files back and forth and couldn’t do any of the HyperCard* stuff at home, so I picked up a used MacPlus with an external hard drive and never looked back. That was probably nineteen years ago..?

Since then, I’ve owned (or work owned) a Mac Classic, IIcx, PowerPC 610, PowerPC 6100, MacBook Duo 280c (with a docking station at home and work) that I eventually converted to a Duo 2300, a monster PowerBook G3 (it was more lugable than a laptop), a tower PowerMac G4 (the first with a DVD burner), iBook 12 inch, PowerBook 12 inch (2 different models), MacBook 13.3 inch and for a few weeks a MacBook Air 10.6 inch (I returned it since it didn’t have enough storage for me (awesome machine though). I could ramble more about models and printers and stuff, but I did this in a Happy Twenty-Fifth Birthday Macintosh! post a few years ago.

Needless to say, I’m a huge fan. I’ve never been one to jump on their new things, but I do grow to love them. I waited until the color iPod before getting one. I waited until the third iPhone (the 3Gs) before getting one (and that was after specifically getting a iPod Touch to try out for a few months first since I didn’t really want to switch to AT&T at the time).

My MacBook is my main computer, my desktop is a little old, I think it’s ten years old and while it’s gotten a few processor upgrades, memory and hard drives, it’s more convenient to have everything on my laptop.

But my MacBook is getting a little old too, it’s just over three years old and I’m looking around. I’ll probably upgrade my MacBook this summer, if they come out with a new one (or else I’ll get the MacBook Pro)_, but I’m hoping they’ll do a new education promo with a free iPod touch again.

*Hypercard was one of the most amazing pieces of development software ever! You could learn how to do some pretty incredible programs without learning too much coding.

Written By: Gary on March 7, 2011 No Comment

So, I was really considering the iPad a year ago. I thought it looked amazing as devices go.
hands_pad.jpg

But I decided that “I think I’ll pass this time around” and “it doesn’t have a camera of any sort. Yet…”

Now it’s a year later and I think I’m ready to take the plunge. It’s faster, two times faster and the graphics are nine times faster (does the nine contribute towards the two?). It’s got the front facing camera and the 720p HD video camera.

What doesn’t it have? A lot of things, but I can get past those little things. But there are two things I wish it had: a higher resolution display and a smaller size. A higher resolution would have guaranteed that I’d purchase the top of the line, as it is now, I’m not sure what model to get. I also wish it were smaller, I could work with a 7″ version just fine.

What makes me crazy with Apple on these things is that the 16 GB model is $500, it’s a $100 more for 32 GB model (that’s $100 for 16 GB more) but it’s only another $100 for the 64 GB model, why is that 32 GB half the price? I need something extra for that first extra $100, like a flash or a better rear camera.

So it’s going to cost me at least $500 for the unit (up to $829), probably $100 in accessories (HD out, SD/USB reader and cover) and I’m sure I’ll pick up some applications (another $50) like: The Elements and while Solar Walk is iPad ready, it looks like I’ll have to re-buy Star Walk. I already pre-purchased some iPad apps, like Scrabble (so maybe I’ll get into that again) and SimCity when there were some sales or promotions.

And I’ll need the new iMovie. And Pages, Numbers and Keynote. There goes another $35. And probably Garage Band, even though I’ll never use it other than to show others how cool it is…

And I have to figure out if I want it in black or white. I’ll probably do the homage to the iBook and get it in white, if it’s available…

Written By: Gary on February 26, 2011 One Comment

So all I could think when I read this is “Where’s my Jet Pack?”, which is what I thought I’d have by now. The cartoon is actually four frames, so you’ll have to click it for the last frame (and it’ll take you to the site that I got it from.

xkcd.com-864b.jpg

After clicking it, as with all xkcd cartoons, be sure to hover your mouse pointer over it for an extra punchline, while it’s not as funny, it does reference my initial needs.

Written By: Gary on December 30, 2010 No Comment

I’m not sure what kind of playback unit this is, probably digital, but it doesn’t look like it. The screen was only about 4 or 5 inches diagonal and had some kind of touchscreen interface. It looked like it was ancient and belonged in a rack in an old TV studio.

Now while I’m picking on it, I do realize this was probably pretty cool technology when it came out. But these days the could probably just be using a $200 iPod touch for it. That’s probably 15 pounds they’re not flying around for hundreds of thousands of miles a year (a month?). And while they’re at it, ditch these old TV monitors (that weigh a ton) and put in some cheap LCD screens that barely weigh anything…

Watch in HD

The audio isn’t that great, I’m kinda hoarse and the plan is kinda noisy.

Please note, I shot this with my iPhone on the plane, uploaded it to YouTube (via GoGo) and typed this text and posted it while sitting on a plane. That is so cool (IMHO).

Written By: Gary on December 30, 2010 No Comment

Skype 3.0 has now been released for the iPhone and it now supports video! Of course it supports the front and rear cameras on the iPhone 4! And it does the calls over 3G too! And it’s free. What are you waiting for? Go get Skype with video right now…

What’s New in Version 3.0
Improvements:

  • Make Skype to Skype video calls on WiFi and 3G*

  • Call Skype desktop users (Mac OS X or Windows) and other iPhone users.
  • Two-way video calls supported on iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch 4th gen.
  • Receive only video supported on iPad and iPod touch 3rd gen, with no camera.
  • Make video calls in portrait and landscape.
  • kype video calling requires iOS 4.0 or above.
    *Additional Data charges may apply

What more can I say other than go try it out?

Actually, I could say “Where was this for the last 10 days when I was in Costa Rica?!?“.

Written By: Gary on December 23, 2010 One Comment

The Word Lens application is amazing, one of the best uses of augmented reality yet! word-lens-logo.pngYou just point it at a sign (or any text) and it removes the words that are there and superimposes the translation over the old text.

The program is free and if you want to test it out, it’s two translation modes: “erase the text” and “reverse the letters”, while not very useful, make a great demonstration. The Spanish-to-English dictionary is $9.99 (they also have English-to-Spanish for an additional $9.99).

spanish-sign-word-lens.jpg
Here’s the sign that was taped up that I wanted to read.

It’s not the best video, but I really wanted to demonstrate this in a real world example. And since in the middle of recording the video I realized it was time for my bus, it’s pretty real world…

You’ll want to make the video full screen to actually be able to read it (and maybe you’ll need to pause it to really see what’s going on).

As I said you’ll want to look at it full screen (in HD) or you won’t be able to see the action on the iPHone screeen, so be sure not to just watch the embedded version.

I forgot to mention, no internet connection is required to use it! Once you purchase a dictionary it’s on your device (I assume it runs on the iPod touch with the camera also), it’s actually got a “dictionary” where you can look up words.

UPDATE: Also available for Android devices and Glass.

UPDATE: Now they also have Russian, Portuguese, German, Italian, and French available. To be clear the program translates back and forth between English and the other languages, but does not translate between the other languages (yet!).

Written By: Gary on December 19, 2010 No Comment

Just testing out the Free WiFI on my plane! I shot this with my iPhone 4 and uploaded it and now I’m blogging it from my McBook.

And you can even watch it in HD!

The world of technology is an amazing place!

FYI: The WiFi is free because of a promotion Google Chrome is doing through the holidays.

Written By: Gary on December 14, 2010 No Comment

I got a new book and it’s hysterical. But you’ve got to love books end enjoy technology to get all the jokes. If you’ve provided some technical support you’ll find it extra funny too. But it’s really for everyone who’s got a digital device but still reads…

It's a Book Lane SmithThere is a few pages from the book posted at Amazon if you scroll about a third of the way down it gives you a good feel for the book; there is also a video but the video really gives way too much away (and I don’t think it’s as funny).

The problem is there’s one line in it that might offend someone if you let kids read it (one of the character’s name is Monkey while the other is Jackass); it’s fine, but there’d be complaints if it was in a children’s library. While it’s presented as a kid’s book, it’s certainly for adults, especially for adults who read…

So if you’re looking for something else for the reader in your life who has trouble giving up books to get a KIndle, a Nook or some other digital reading device, they’ll appreciate this book.

Also, it’s really inexpensive. But Amazon always jumps their prices around, so I can’t promise the price, but today it’s listed at only $5.55, so it’s kind of a no-brainer if it stays that low…

Written By: Gary on October 16, 2010 No Comment

So Verizon will start to carry the WiFi iPad and sell it with a MiFi wireless access point for $130 more. What’s interesting is that they’ll sell it for $20 a month for 1 GB of data (and no contract). This is an interesting pricing plan as AT&T charges $15 for 200MB and $25 for 2GB, so it’s an interesting sweet spot for the data. Apple iPad MB292LL/A Tablet (16GB, Wifi) Apple Computer Verizon’s next jump is $35 for 3GB and $50 for 5GB (see the FAQ). Plus, they’re legitimately buying them from Apple (and they sell them just with WiFi too). So you can use the MiFi with other WiFi devices too, but you’ll obviously use more data (duh!)

I just thought it was some interesting competition for AT&T…

Written By: Gary on May 24, 2010 No Comment

I thought this was an extra cute advertisement. So that means you get to watch it too…

Here’s the direct link.

Personally, I’m not a huge AT&T cell phone fan, but they do have the iPhone and do I love that part of them. And the network is really fast…

Written By: Gary on May 19, 2010 One Comment

Throughout life, even before cell phones and even before call waiting, I’ve called people on the phone sometimes initiating (but sometimes returning a call) and they don’t answer so I leave (or not leave) a message. I then move on with my day: I hop in the shower, go to work, I start some laundry, go for a bike ride or I might have even placed the call before walking into a meeting of some sort (it’s not like I’m calling people at 4:59 on a business day).

Cell Phone Etiquette: Observations from a Mom Michelle CiminoI can’t tell you the number of times I get a call back within moments and, because I’m not there any more, I can’t take the call so I end up with a message that says “why aren’t you there?”. In most of these cases I have no reason to believe they’ll be calling me back in a few minutes, I have no idea why they didn’t take my call. In a few cases, I’ve even gotten a “I don’t like that you aren’t then when I call you right back!”. I’m not on a tether, I’ve committed no crime…

Isn’t the real question,
“Where were they when I called?”?

If I don’t know you’re calling me back soon, why would I be sitting by the phone? They weren’t sitting by the phone, right? I could be there for hours and still be unavailable when you finally call. Especially these days, many people have call waiting, if they needed to click over just to say “I’ll call you back in 5, unless it’s important”, or they could text back with out even interrupting their call (although I’d prefer “I’ll be done in an hour” compared to “what do you want?”). The other problem is when someone does answer when already on a call, they say they’ll call you back in 5 minutes (or an hour) and triple the time has past. How long do you wait before leaving or calling back? If you leave, are you in trouble because they said they would call?

I’m not a big fan of people clicking over for every incoming call, so if I’m expecting a call I’ll tell a person I’m talking to (at the start of the conversation), “I do need to take a very quick call from so-and-so” or “I’m on my way to meet someone, so if they call I need to take it for a minute”. Otherwise I generally ignore call waiting. Although, when doing a job search, I’m apt to take unknown callers when from area codes of where I’m applying.

Related sidebar: I’ve noticed times that when I don’t leave a message, I think I’m more likely to get a call back when I don’t leave one! But then it doesn’t mean they played the actual message (if I left one) that might have some useful info like “I’m running late, I’m hopping into the shower and I’ll be on my way”.

Written By: Gary on April 3, 2010 No Comment

So I checked out the Apple iPad today. It’s very cool. I just have a hard time justifying one when I already have a MacBook and and iPhone. And I wouldn’t want it without the data plan option either (so their’s more money).

ipad-IMG_0042.JPG

It’s a beautiful piece of hardware and simple to use. If you’ve got family members you’ve never been able to get into computing (parents/grandparents), this is the device for them to use…

ipad-IMG_0040.JPG

I did make sure that I did not bring my $100 in Best buy gift cards. It was calling out to me, “Buy me!”, and I’d have been sorely tempted. Everyone who walked by was very interested.

The display of this web site was very good, you can click for (slightly) larger images.

Written By: Gary on March 31, 2010 No Comment

It’s a beautiful day out. So instead of sitting in the house on this great day, I went for a bike ride and I’m sitting outside the library. They’ve got WiFi and it actually reaches outside pretty good.

The problem is the sun is really making it hard to see my screen. I could sit in the shade but then I’m not in the sun (I might as well as be at home). My XO laptop had this great LCD display that actually worked better in direct sunlight than it did in indirect sunlight. It has a color display but in the direct sunlight it washed out all the color leaving a very clear greyscale image. (I think it might have two different types of LCD displays sandwiched together.)

I’d like some kind of a high contrast display for my laptop that worked like that one (that wouldn’t get washed out in the sun). It’s just to get information typed in, it doesn’t need to be pretty ,have a fast refresh or anything. It’s got a clip at the top theat just rests on my current laptop display (the top edge of it could be a spall solar panel to help with power) and it’d plug into the video port on my laptop and the USB for some power.

Here’s a quick video to show you the quality of the display of the XO Laptop. It’s a little out of focus at times because I’ve got macro on and I keep moving the camera.

Watch a larger version of this video in YouTube.

If the XO didn’t have such a crappy keyboard, I’d be tempted to use it outside and use VNC to remotely access the display on my MacBook. But then I’d have to haul to computers around with me.

Anyone have any suggestions for something like this?

Written By: Gary on March 7, 2010 No Comment

How could you not want one of these? The ad makes it feels like it’s something out of Star Trek and that’s before they run the Star Trek movie promo clip!!

Direct link to the Apple iPad commercial. hands_pad.jpg

Actually, I think I’ll pass this time around. I’d ditch my iPhone if it were a phone, but really don’t need another device to carry around and I have a laptop. To get the GPS it sounds like you need the 3G card (otherwise it just uses the WiFi for an estimate). And it doesn’t have a camera of any sort. Yet…

Written By: Gary on February 10, 2010 No Comment

So what do you think it would look like if you wandered too close to a black hole? Scientists at the University of Stuttgart in Germany created a black hole simulation to let you input some different parameters to see how it would look.

The program’s creators say it could be an excellent tool to familiarize people with the weird ways that black holes warp light.

The video below is a narrated sequence with a few different views. Here’s the original article at New Scientist.

Direct link to the black hole video.

Found at the Woot blog (which is not generally where I get my science news).

Written By: Gary on January 23, 2010 No Comment

Here are a series of three videos taken in Haiti last week by CNN. They’re not of the earthquake itself but of the area afterwards.

What is so interesting is that it’s video and you can drag the mouse to look in all directions, but the video (and audio) keeps playing as you drag the video around. At 900×500 it’s pretty large video too, I can’t promise how it’ll play on your older computer. CNN put this together so maybe they’ll add more later.

cnn-haiti360.png

Video 1 in a three minute car ride through Haiti.
Video 2 on a three minute walk in Haiti.
Video 3 short car ride through Haiti.

It’s similar to the YellowBird demo I mentioned a few months back

Written By: Gary on November 8, 2009 No Comment

Here’s a demo of a panoramic 360 degree video, it’s actually more than 360 since you can look up too. Just click and drag as you watch the video and you move while the video is running. It works really really well.

yellowbirdlogo.jpgHere’s a link to it full screen.

The company has more information and demos at their website, which might be the longest URL I’ve ever used it’s www.YellowBirdsDontHaveWingsButTheyFlyToMakeYouExperienceA3dReality.com but then again it’s also yb.nl one of the shortest too.

I found this at pda-247.

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