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Things related to Apple (computers, iPods, iTunes, OS X, Macintosh, etc.) hardware and software made or influenced by apple.

Written By: Gary on November 24, 2013 2 Comments

I love this program and it just did a major update so thought it was due for an update on the review I did before, but when I looked I realized I never reviewed this amazing app before, so here we go…

galileo-app.pngFirst of all this program should be thought of as a digital map, the GPS in your iPhone/iPad will find your location and keep the map centered but it doesn’t have directions (just like a paper map doesn’t have directions). What’s really nice about this program you can download maps and they stay on the device so if you’re somewhere with without data (say somewhere on a hike in Costa Rica) you still have your maps with you. Or if you’re traveling internationally and don’t have a data plan you’ve got the maps already, the same goes if you have a plan with a small amount of data, you don’t need to use up all the data.

galileo-maps-IMG_9096.PNGGalileo also has several ways to get maps onto your iPad or iPhone, but the newest way is the fastest and easiest. You just go in to the program, click download maps and pick your states, countries or providences and it downloads them and they are on your device. These downloads are relatively small, Michigan is about 30MB while Costa Rica was about 9MB, but have remarkable zoom levels and are very fast. I wasn’t sure how often they were going to be updating these maps, but when I went to get the screen shot, I see they’ve already updated several of the maps I’ve downloaded (that’s why the screen is downloading that map, it’s an update).

This program is free and the vector downloadable maps are free but the program has many other in app purchases (which I’ll talk about).

I use this a lot when I’m out hiking and biking and traveling. I know where I’m traveling, a question I used to ask all the time is “Where am I?” and people wanted to know where I was going but I’m just walking around taking in the sights and I want to know where I am (I quite often got confusing looks). I want to know where I am and zoom around quickly and not worry about how fast my data is or if I’m roaming somewhere. I get a pretty good signal in Michigan but if I’m in some state/national parks there isn’t always coverage.

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Maps show how fast you’re going, the scale of the map and (optionally) your longitude and latitude.

I like to sightsee / wander around and see what I can find, when I travel I try not to be in a hurry. I went up north to visit my Uncle Jim and Aunt Karen once and when I arrived around 5PM they said “What time did you leave?” and I said “Noon”, which got the reply “You made pretty good time” and then I had to clarify with “Noon, yesterday“! I like to stop and do things, I’d been to different places and going biking and rollerblading and taking pictures and been all over before I got there. It was fun and I saw things that I’d not have seen if I’d had a specific plan.

In Costa Rica, most roads don’t have names and it’s confusing to get around, looking at the map and seeing the icon where you are is incredibly helpful (you need an iPhone or an iPad with the GPS for this to show you where you are).

So my suggestion is download Galileo and grab a few maps of places you frequent so that you’ve always got a nice map in your pocket.

The rest of these features starts to get a little confusing, if the above doesn’t interest you and you don’t care about maps, you should stop reading. If you’d like to be able to download other types of maps and know more, then read on!

This is one of those apps with many 5-star reviews and many 1-star reviews. Although, if you read the 1-star reviews most of them complain about things that if they had read the description they’d know that’s not what the program is supposed to do.

The other thing you can do is choose other map sources: biking, hiking, tourist and it’ll download them, but it remembers the maps until you delete them, so if you want some specific maps you just need to download them and zoom in at different levels and they’ll save and be there for you later (you can set the time limit). Other maps cache this data but purges it when it feels it doesn’t need it any more, you don’t have control over how long the data stays around. That said, I still like pre-downloading them myself (see last item of this review) and installing on the device is my favorite way to go. This next map is a sample of a map that isn’t so much like the “normal” Apple or Google maps.

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Example of a different type of map with altitude/terrain markings.
Good to know if you follow that path you’re going up/down paths over 200 feet in height.

Other (paid features):
Bookmarks – You can leave bookmarks/pins at locations for easy finding later, incredibly useful for marking places that have no other frame of reference. If hiking, you can mark and interesting spot. If someone lives in the middle of nowhere and you want to find it again, leave a pin at that spot.

Breadcrumbs – It will record a trail of where you’ve been. You can look at this later or export the data for other uses later.

Generate off-line maps – Downloading other off-line maps (this is great and it why I got the app in the first place) you can get maps from different sources and build them (on your desktop computer with Mobile Atlas Creator) and put them on the device for later. I downloaded great maps with heights of the hills/mountains for where I hike in Costa Rica, I don’t need to use international data roaming for this since I built them once and they stay on the device.

FYI, the screenshots and map captures are clickable to much larger versions.

Written By: Gary on October 19, 2013 No Comment

If you’ve got an iPad and you occasionally use the $15 a month cellular data plan option, there is a way you can save a lot of money (and get more data!). The $15 data plan gives you 250MB of data per month, if you go over it either runs out or you have to start the next month early. logoatt.jpgAT&T has a new $25 plan that last three months and gives you 1GB (1000MB) of data. That works out to 333MB a month for about $8.33 a month, about a third more data for close to half the price. The other benefit of it is that since it’s spread over three months you could use 600MB one month, 100MB another month and 300MB the other month. It gives you a better chance to utilize more of the data since it doesn’t expire three times after 30 days, it’s once after 90. It also doesn’t auto renew, so after 90 days you need to add that service again; the benefit to you is that after it expires if you don’t use it for a few weeks, those days don’t count against your next 90 day block. This is in the United States, I’m not sure if they’ve adjust prices in any international markets yet.

I think AT&T is doing this to get people to use it more, some people would turn it on for a month and then turn if off for a month, this way they spend $25 instead of $15 and if they don’t use it AT&T makes more and if they do use it more, they might get hooked.

At this point it makes almost no sense to turn the monthly $15 plan on and off a half dozen months throughout the year (that’s $90), for $10 more you could have it on every month of the year and have even more data to use. If you kept the new plan for the whole year it would be $100 for 4GB of data, the old plan would have been $180 for 3GB of dat a (with monthly expiration).

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This is now cheaper than the cheaper data plans on the iPhone. Right now you pay $20 a month for 300MB of data (some people still have the $15 for 200MB data plan), that’s $60 for 900MB of data. That’s quite a bit of difference!

FYI, if you almost never use the cellular data, but once in a while wish you had it, they also offer a new plan for $5 for one day that gets you 250MB. This is not meant for daily use, but if you’re traveling for the day on train or waiting at airports, it might be worth it. Or even if you activated the data plan once in a while while you were traveling for the weekend, doing the $5 plan could be cheaper for two days ($10 instead of $15) or actually get you more data during that time.

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 August 1, 2012 No Comment

Apple quietly put in BlueTooth 4.0 into it’s last few iPhone and iPads and most of it’s recent laptops and has barely said a word about it. What makes BT 4.0 so different? Part of it is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), it uses much less energy than the previous BlueTooth options (and can go farther).

170px-Bluetooth.svg.pngSo it’s been almost a year since Apple put BT 4.0 in the iPhone 4s and they haven’t really done anything with it. I don’t think they’ve even done new versions of the Wireless Keyboard or the Magic Trackpad. Apple, when you do update these place make it easier to keep them turned off, I hate when my keyboard in the trunk of my car gets bumped and turned on and then I can’t type on my iPhone or iPad since they’re connected!

Rumors have been crazy for the last few years that Apple is going to do some kind of “use your iPhone to pay for things” option. But the rumors keep inferring that they’ll add something to the iPhone for this (NFC – Near Field Communication). My opinion is that this is incorrect, they’ve already got a wireless option in the iPhone, Bluetooth 4.0 (or they’ll use one of the wireless chips already in the phone).

Why do I think this? Because if they want people to adopt a system in stores and businesses to use the iPhone, they need many many users out there using this. Well, this fall they’ll have the iPhone 4s and the iPhone 6 will all have this feature (and nothing to stop them from adding this to the iPhone 4). It’s also likely that these three phones will be the all that will still be sold by Apple and it’s carriers (just like now at $0, $99 and $199). How’s that for an established user base?!?

The biggest concern is that Bluetooth data travels much much farther than NFC (many feet compared to several inches), but Apple may have a way around that (I’m not sure if they. I’m not even really sure why they want/need a wireless technology for this. My Mobile SpeedPass and my tap option on my credit card does almost the same thing, it just needs to be a little closer to work (yes, those are older technologies and probably need to be updated and more secure).

PS – I don’t think I’m supposed to capitalize the T in Bluetooth

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 31, 2012 No Comment

One of the easiest services I use for backing up is Dropbox. They give me a folder to store documents in and it automatically pushes a copy of those documents into the cloud (be sure to use a great password) and syncs them with my other computer; so I’ve automatically got 3 copies of the file now. I can view these files from anywhere on the internet with a web browser or with my iPhone, iPad or an Android device. If I store photos from my iPhone to Dropbox it’s now in the cloud and on my two syncing computers (and on my iPhone).

DropBox will give you 2 GB (more than 3 CDs of storage) for free. dbox-logo.pngDropbox syncs that storage with your computers plus you can view with your Android and iOS devices. Are you always sharing certain documents with a co-worker or friend? You can have a shared synchronized folder between your computers. You can even share specific photo albums via the web with friends. If you’ve got your computer synced you don’t even need to be on the internet, those files are there on the computer, if you change, add or delete any files the next time you connect it will sync everything automatically for you.

And if you get more friends to sign up (and install it) they’ll give you more free space (so please use my link for extra space). It runs on Macintosh and on Windows, the programs and apps are free! Not only do I get 500MB for free if you sign up if you follow my link, so do you (you get 500MB extra for following my link verses no bonus on your own!).

They make it incredibly easy to share photos with others, even just via their web site. You got a folder, you share the link and you’ve got a photo album shared. Super super easy.

3 GB of bonus space: After you sign up, they will then let you import directly from your camera and give you an extra 3 GB (that’s 5 GB total, about 8 CDs of back up!). This camera imports directly from you camera and from chips, it’ll also import automagically from your iPhone or other iOS device when you plug it into the computer. Even if you don’t want this feature, import in 3 GB of photos and video and then delete them, you’ll still have the space (as far as I can tell all this free space is for life). As far as I can tell, after getting the 3 GB free you can delete the photos, turn off the upload and keep the 3 GB of space…

Tip: To get more use out of all that storage, once you get a few GB of photos into the cloud, back them up to a DVD (standard DVD’s hold more than 4 GB) and make multiple copies. 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.

Advanced features: You have options to not sync certain folders with dropbox, so if you don’t have the 5 GB of extra space on your laptop you don’t need to keep every folder synced with your netbook or MacBook Air. You could just sync your documents folder and recent photos and not worry about everything else.

Don’t like: The one thing I don’t like about the Dropbox photo import is they rename your photos with the date and time. I actually like the date and time part but I wish they just added that to the original file name, it’s hard to tell where the duplicates are with completely different filenames. But I can decide if that is important later, it’s the 3 GB of extra storage that I want for free, I can use it for anything I want later…

Another tip: Whenever I buy a new product, I try to go on-line and get the digital version of the manual for it, then I put all these documents in a folder in the cloud somewhere. Then no matter where I go, I have the manual for that computer, digital camera, car stereo, GPS unit or anything that I might be traveling with. On the other hand, I also have the manual for my stereo and stove with me too, I don’t really need those all the time, but it’s nice to have those manuals easily accessible when I need them.

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

It’s a Kindle. That’s the number one point, Amazon seems to have the eReader market and I believe they’ll have it long term. And in case I’m wrong, I’ve got the Nook eReader App on it too (with several other eBook readers, Kobo, etc.). I think the price of this is subsidized on the fact that they hope to sell you movies, music and books.

Kindle Fire, Full Color 7That said: This Apple FanBoy says the Kindle Fire is an AWESOME product. It’s a killer product for $200.

The number one thing for you to understand: The Fire is a LCD display, it is NOT eInk (the black and white viewable in sunlight display). The Kindle Fire has the same kind of glare as an iPad would have outside (have you seen the add with the guy and girl at the pool?). This display is backlit and can get washed out in bright light and uses lots of power (I’m not saying it’s not usable, I’m just saying it’s not a B&W Kindle), see the video below.

This ad that makes fun of the iPad glare is the same issue for the Kindle Fire,
you will have glare.

Flashback to (non-published) thoughts I had when I ordered it in September:

I don’t think it’ll be competition to the iPad – it’s not even close to being able to stand up and compare features one-to-one.
But, I think some people will get it and it’ll be “enough” for them to get by (and NOT purchase an iPad).

First off, I’ll say I was wrong with the first thought. I said over and over that this should NOT be compared to the iPad. But now that I have it, it should be totally compared, but compare it to the iPad 1 (since the iPad 2 has cameras). Think of it as the 7 inch iPad, but with only 8 GB of storage but Apple would charge $300-$400 for it.

Second item, that’s part of why I bought it, to hold me off from the iPad for another year, to get me to the iPad 4.

They do need to polish their eBook reader app on the Kindle, it’s not as nice as the black and white models (folders and sorting are missing). The reading experience is the same though. It’s actually not as nice as the iPad or iPhone Kindle reader (which just recently got some more upgrades).

It’s an excellent first try it feels like it’s the second or third tablet Amazon has tried, but they’re building on Android so I think that’s part of it feeling like it’s very complete.

This is great for e-mail, newsreader (RSS feeds), eBook reading, weather apps, Pandora, Zinio, The Economist, Scrabble, Overdrive, Mint, Stitcher, DropBox (for photos), YouTube videos and everything. I think it’s an amazing device. If you check your mail while you have WiFi, it’s accessible when you leave the WiFi area, you can even reply and it sends it when you reconnect.

But unlike the eInk Kindle, all the other applications were a distraction, I’d check my mail or the news or the web or Facebook. I didn’t read as much as I could have…

The biggest limiting factor: Amazon locking US out of the Android Marketplace and blocking many Apps from being loaded on the device. It’s inconvenient to work around to get other apps on the device.

2nd biggest limiting factor: They really need to work on the Kindle app some more to make it more like the EInk versions. Folders and syncing really needs to work better.

From a hardware standpoint it’s great, I wish they had a model with more memory or had an SD slot, but since the eInk Kindles don’t have an SD slot, I won’t hold my breath. I wish it had a mic, just for some VOIP or Skyping.

But it wasn’t an iPad, and I am an Apple / iOS fan, I’ve got iPhone apps and iPad apps I bought when on sale. I spent birthday money on pre-ordering the Kindle Fire in September (it didn’t ship until late November), in January I sent it back; combining the September refund with some Christmas money, I ordered the iPad 3 last week. I do fear the iPad will be too large, I really liked the form factor of the Kindle Fire. While the iPad 3 isn’t that large, the screen is almost the same size as my tiny MacBook Air laptop screen (just an inch or two along the long edge of the small MacBook Air).

Don’t let this change your mind, it’s a great device. I loved reading at night with no lights on, I think it helped me to fall asleep sometimes. And it’s only $200.

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 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 2, 2011 No Comment

So I ordered a MacBook Air 11 inch, that’s a whole different post, but I got the sleeve that I ordered from eBay and it only took eight(?) days to get here (they’ve got more, but no promises for how long this link lasts). I’m sure it’s non-authorized but it was only $7.13 shipped(!) and I needed something cheap until I found something I really like, but here’s the thing, I really like this one! And I can turn it inside out and it’s all red (they offer the same one with no logo for 56 cents less).

macbookairsleeve.jpeg

Hopefully this will be my most boring post of the how 31 photo challenge. Why I didn’t think to take any photos when I stopped at the junkyard, I have no idea; there was all sorts of cool stuff: things getting smashed, piled high, old cars, people getting the parts they needed. I needed a plastic up thingy for the door handle, it cost me a dollar!

This is from Day 2 of 31 photos in 31 days.

Written By: Gary on July 30, 2011 No Comment

According to CNN, Apple now has more cash on hand than the United State government. Wow!!!

“the government had an operating cash balance Wednesday of $73.8 billion.

Tech juggernaut Apple had a whopping $76.2 billion in cash…”

Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World's Most Colorful Company Owen Linzmayer, Owen W. Linzmayer The thing to keep in mind is: isn’t most of the ca$h the government has already allocated for something? This money that Apple has isn’t even allocated to do anything (to our knowledge). Their stock has hit it’s highest numbers ever and they’re likely to release a new iPhone in a month or two when they usually release new iPods and new iPod touches.

The was a rumor the other day they might buy Barnes and Nobel for $1.5 billion, that’s pocket change when they’ve got $75 billion(!) in the bank. Imagine how cheap they could have got Borders if they had wanted it.

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 16, 2011 No Comment

So this kid Trevor plays songs on the computers at Apple stores and records videos of himself dancing to them and posts them to YouTube. iTr3vor.pngThey’re entertaining and he’s certainly not shy! I actually heard about him because someone else was complaining about the girls in the background making fun of him in a different video and that they’re the ones that look like idiots…

I’m wondering out if Trevor is really just marketing for “Active”, he sure wears a lot of shirts with their name on it. And as far as I know, the other shirts could be their brand too.

Watch on YouTube.

And if that’s not the case, why the heck isn’t someone paying him to wear their shirts?!?

Either way, it looks like he’s having fun and that’s all that matters. I’m not sure how old he is, but he did comments on being 5’1″.

Written By: Gary on April 10, 2011 5 Comments

Last month I saw the HP LaserJet Pro CP1525nw Color Laser Printer on sale so I picked one up. Why?

  • Because I don’t have a color printer set up (inkjet printers usually dry out before I use them all),
  • I wanted a network printer (I gave Mom my networked laser printer so she could keep it in my old bedroom instead of at her desk) and this one also has WiFi,
  • I wanted to be able to directly print to the printer via an Apple Macintosh (not routing it through a Windows PC),
  • I wanted it to print directly from my iPhone (and my future iPad)
  • and it was only $150 plus tax!!!!

The darn thing got to my house in under 48 hours and it didn’t cost anything for shipping.

cp1525nw.pngThe one I received needed the firmware updated (maybe that’s part of the cheaper price?) but that only took a few minutes. It works great. It was easy to put together and I can print from my iPhone!

What else can I tell you: It’s also built-in Ethernet, wireless 802.11b/g/n and USB connections. And it’s got some other kind of feature that you can set up so you can e-mail files to it via HP ePrint. It’s got 4.3 stars our of 5 at HP.com and about about the same at Amazon (but it’s $70 more).

The huge benefit is when I’m looking at an e-mail or web page, I don’t need to remember to go back later and print it, it just does it for me then. And my e-mails and web pages look just like I printed them from my computer. The photos print small though (maybe 3″ x 5″?) but they look great. I wish the iPhone would let me print while on the go and then sync up to the printer when I got home (that’s the way it works on the computer); I’m sure that will come in a later version. I’m almost tempted to get a second one because that would get me 4 spare toner cartridges at only $37.50 apiece.

So the color wireless HP LaserJet printer is only $150 until the 15th of April, 2011 so if you’re thinking of a new printer get it. It’s worth it for the cost of toner alone…

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 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 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 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 April 1, 2010 No Comment

hands_pad.jpgNot much to say other than if you’re interested in the iPad, this is a good five minute review. They pack a lot of info into a few minutes…

If the video doesn’t show up above or if you want to watch it in HD then watch the iPad demo at Vimeo.

I’m not (planning on) getting an iPad. But I think if a store were open right now that had one, I’d be tempted…

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Written By: Gary on March 25, 2010 No Comment

This is just a test of MacJournal. I’ve tried it in the past, but I thought I’d give it another try since it just came in a bundle I purchased and they’re coming out with an iPhone app that you can sync your entries with it.

I had a few problems getting it to configure. I ended up manually doing the settings and using the MovableType protocol with a blog ID of “1”. Couldn’t get the atom protocol for posting to work (I’ve never gotten it to work with any blogging client). Actually, it just alerted me to version 5.2 with allowed me to use the WordPress protocol, but I still needed to use a blog ID of “1”. And when it pulls down my old entries, it pulls down my tags, but doesn’t seem to grab my categories.

As I write this, I see a way to set the tags, but I don’t see any way to set my categories. I see it pulled the categories down from the web site but I just don’t see how to choose them. When you submit the post (“Send to Blog”) is when it asks you to pick the category! That was not in the help section at all. Also, it’s kind of inconvenient, if you write an article off-line and wait until you are connected to the internet to post it you can’t just hit send, you need to pick the categories which might not seem like a big deal, but when you’ve got a 1/2 dozen posts you wrote off-line and you’ve only got a few minutes to post (and they might be charging you by the minute) it’d be nice to have done that part in advance.

wpid-wpid-MJicon5.rPcVM2jzA0Wh.KjwjelAnqYBn.jpgHmm… Trying to figure out how to wrap the text around this image. Can’t figure out how to edit the HTML (my preferred choice) to change it. Not so happy with this at this point, but maybe someone will offer some tips.

Later: It also auto capitalized my tags after I specifically typed them in lowercase, not happy with that. I’ve got a few other WordPress things: Not being able to edit custom fields and set the slug for the blog post name, but those are pretty specific things, but I wanted to mention them for those loooking for a client.

I’ll play with it a little more, but I think I’ll be sticking with Ecto which integrates with WordPress quite nicely. I’m not saying it’s bad, but it doesn’t let me do some of the things I want to do. Ecto handles the categories, tags, custom fields and the web URL (slug) for WordPress very well; plus it allows me to create some macros, makes it pretty to create Amazon links, has a nice preview and can switch between WYSIWYG and HTML quite easily.

FYI, this is MacJournal version 5.1.4 5.2 and a self-hosted WordPress 2.9.2 blog.

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 June 21, 2009 No Comment

I’ve had a few people just happy that the iPhone phone dropped to $99 (for 8GB) and are tempted to get that instead of the $199 model with more features (and 16 GB). They want to know if it’s really worth the $100 more.

Here’s why it’s worth it (and I’m not even going to point out the things that you think I will):
3gornor3g.pngJust a few weeks ago there was $100 difference between the $199 (8 GB) and $299 (16 GB) iPhone 3g models and the only difference was 8GB of storage. Right now the $99 model is 8 GB and $199 is 16 GB so it’s the same $99 for 8 GB. The 8 GB iPod Touch (it’s an iPhone with no phone, no GPS, no camera, no microphone and lots of other stuff too) is $229 and you don’t get much at all! Here’s my countdown list on why to get the 3gs, please note that compass, video and better photos are the last three reasons, not the top three. This list is really for those who are making a purchase that think they don’t want the compass or better camera w/ video; this is not a reason to upgrade from the iPhone 3g, that’s expensive.

Here’s everything between the $99 iPhone 3g and the iPhone $199 3gs:

  • 8 GB of storage (flash) memory – twice as much storage memory for apps and videos and music and audiobooks.
  • 256 MB of RAM – twice as much memory for applications to run in (more efficiently which makes it seem faster).
  • Faster Processor – The main processor is 50% faster and a faster graphics chip, Apple says this gives you up to twice the speed.
  • Better battery life – For just about everything but phone calls and 3g network use.
  • Faster network – This will utilize AT&T’s faster network (once it gets installed) which should improve battery life according to Apple.
  • Oleophobic coating on screen – more fingerprint resistant (geeky oleophobic details from Bill Nye
  • Photos – 3.2 MP with tap to focus (instead of 2 MP).
  • Video Recording – This is new, not on the other models. You can directly upload to YouTube, MobileMe and (I assume) email to someone.
  • Compass – Maps will orient the right way and I think people will come out with some cool applications utilizing this. I think thinking astronomy applications first, point at the sky and it identifies what you are viewing and offers links to more information or you ask it for a star or planet and it points it out for you (I predict this won’t take long at all, scroll down on this page to see this for G1); maybe even point out satellites as they travel across the sky. Then I’m counting on being at a national park or a big city and point my phone at something and it will supply all sorts of information about that landmark. See this page for a sample tourist image or imagine this (see video) but overlaid on top of live images of where you are. Or this interactive view of Wimbeldon.

Did I leave anything out? How far did you have to go down the list before you decided it was worth $99?

The first four are really the biggest value: Twice the storage, twice the memory (this will help), faster processor and better battery life!

Notes: I do understand that Apple is only charging $100 for 16 GB more memory in the $299, but since you don’t want to spend that much, we’re really not going go there.

Written By: Gary on June 3, 2009 No Comment

So as I’ve mentioned before, I’m really counting on a new iPhone announcement next week. Actually, I’m counting on a new release…

Here’s a sign that’s been hung at the WWDC (World-Wide Developer’s Conference) for next week.

Another big bonus would be Steve Jobs showing up at the end of the keynote for “just one more thing”.

I think they’re going to have lots of surprises for us next week. Apple’s good at that.

wwdcsign2009.png

Banners (WWDC 2009), originally uploaded by adamjackson1984.

And when Apple makes announcements, they usually have time lines and actually come through. Unlike (as I heard the other day) Microsoft who does demo’s of whatever shiny object has their attention at the time (releasing it in a timely manner is a whole different matter).

FYI – Here’s a graphical iPhone image with all the rumors on it that someone put together.

Written By: Gary on May 22, 2009 No Comment

Assuming we get new iPhones at the WWDC in early June, I’ve got a few guesses. June 9th is when it’s assumed Apple will release the new 3.0 Operating System and announce (or release new phones). I think the upgrade is supposed to be free for iPhone users but not for the iPod touch users; I find this completely bizzaro since I think you’ll need it to purchase applications, so Apple is cutting out their market of potential iTunes App sales.

Apple iPod touch 16 GB (2nd Generation) Apple ComputerThey could just announce new phones, but people’s contracts are running out so I assume they’ll have something to release or announce with product in the next few months (there are July 17 rumors too, but it could just be the same rumor re-tweeted over and over). I’m just talking about features for the physical phone, the software has been out in beta and I don’t think there will be too many surprises there.

1) I think we’ll get a new phone with a new camera. It’s never had the best camera and rumors say Apple has been buying 3 MP and 5 MP chips. I’d really hope it’s the 5 MP as the main camera, but sadly I’m not sure what else they’d use the 3 MP chips in. I’m assuming this would also allow you to record video. But 3 MP is pretty low when you consider the quality of everything else that goes into the iPhone.
2) I’d love it to have two cameras, one on the back and one of the front for video-conferencing. I don’t think we’ll get that with this refresh (maybe on ‘the iTablet’?), but if they offer it, I definitely pick up that model.
3) I think they’ll start offering an iPhone with more memory, they’ve had more memory in the iPod Touch (up to 32 GB v.s up to 16 GB)for a while so this is a no brainer (IMHO). But will they stop at 32 GB or go all the way to 64 GB?

Other stuff:
Lots of rumors on a faster processor and if Apple wants to make this a gaming machine it needs a little more power. Rumors indicate faster chip purchases, but these could be for ‘the tablet’, but then again maybe they need it for the rumored video recording capabilities.

Apple iPod touch 32 GB (2nd Generation) Apple ComputerI feel if Apple starts releasing very different model iPhones, people will start getting confused on which models to get. So far the only difference has been color (do they still make the white?) and storage. If they try keeping a cheaper model with less features, a mid-range with with a better (or two) cameras and another with faster processor will just confuse the masses. Even more confusing if each higher step doesn’t include every feature of the “lower” models. Nothing says “don’t buy” more than confusion between models.

And speaking of the iTablet, which I think will be more of big iPhone/iTouch than a low power tablet or netbook computer, I’m not sure why the iTablet would need a better camera than the iPhone (I’m really hung up on the 3 MP / 5 MP chip rumors). I’d like the tablet to have to ability to be a phone to use my SIM chip from my iPhone for data. They better not release a tablet with a phone from a competing company so I need to buy another plan for wireless data for this other device.

So I’m ready to transition to the iPhone, I’ve been playing with the iTouch (yes, I know it’s an iPod Touch) for a few months and I need the data “on” all the time. As long as they announce a way to tether my laptop to the Internet via the phone, I’m in!

Written By: Gary on May 21, 2009 2 Comments

Argh! Haven’t been this frustrated in a very long time…

The last 24 hours:
- I can’t sync my calendar items and address/phone numbers between my computers, MobileMe and iPod Touch.
- My main Windows machine won’t reboot, keeps resetting. Think the hard drive went.
- Accessing/syncing to my AppleTV is goofed up (that’s minor, unrelated and hacked so not an Apple issue)
- My cell phone keeps saying international roaming when I’m at home (it’s Sprint). I’m not that close to the border of Canada/Michigan.

I’ve spend more time with tech support the last 24 hours than the last 24 months. I’ve been escalated multiple times at Apple and not getting any closer. And after all the changes at my end I’m leaning towards it’s going to be a problem at their end so then I’ll have to get everything set back the way I want (a few hours ago, I’d have said 100% sure at their end, but not so sure now). They say this is a new problem and since we’re pushing 4 hours today I’m hoping it’s a unique problem (for their sake).

And I’ve wasted another sunny day :(

Written By: Gary on May 6, 2009 No Comment

image1328246471.jpgThis is a test from my iPod Touch.

The edit screen looks like this:

Mobile Blogging from here.




Doesn’t want actually post the tags that I manually typed for the post (while categories work fine). For some reason it seems to crop a photo to a square and only lets you use one photo. Works off-line okay. It’s pricey at 9.99 but works with multiple blogging systems and multiple blogs.

Written By: Gary on April 13, 2009 354 Comments

So I get an e-mail from iTunes today stating that an episode for my new season pass for “Sophie” has arrived. The first thing I thought was that I accidentally clicked “buy season” when I downloaded the free pilot last week. But when I check the receipt I see six other items (in addition to the season pass) totaling $61.93! Not only that, I see another order for $5.97! Not a chance that I placed these orders (FYI, the orders were placed at 1 am and 5 am).

Here’s the really strange part:Almost all of the purchase was videos (tv, movies, movie rentals) and I think those kinds of videos still have DRM in them and no additional computers were authorized. What good are these to anyone if they didn’t authorize a computer? Can they even play them? Wouldn’t it have been easier to have just downloaded torrents of these files? These oddities make me think it’s an accounting error.

So I had to “report a problem” to Apple/iTunes for each of the 10 individual items. The e-mails went something like this:

I did not place this order for any of the 3 items on this order. Nor has my computer downloaded these items. It’s order XXXXXXXX I also have another order from today (ZZZZZZZZ) that I did not place.

I’ve changed my password as a precaution. I also tried to play some older protected/DRM’d music and it still plays (so I’m guessing if someone hijacked something they didn’t deauthorize my computers).

Gary LaPointe (phone ###-###-#####)

PS – These purchases don’t even meet my normal purchasing patterns.

My responses appear to be identical other than contact info (and I only got one response for each of the two orders):

Dear Gary,

My name is Jane Doe with the iTunes Store. I’m so sorry to hear of the unauthorized charges made with your iTunes Store account. I can certainly appreciate your concerns, and will do everything I can to assist in having this resolved.

With regards to financial reimbursement for the charges in question, these would have to be removed by a specialized team, designated to handle requests of this nature. I would urge you to contact your credit card company as soon as possible to inquire about canceling the card and removing the unauthorized transactions. A member of your credit card’s fraud department will contact the iTunes Store directly, and this team will resolve the issue. I apologize that I’m unable to remove the charges myself, but all unauthorized transactions must be handled in this manner.

If you suspect you are the victim of identity theft, please consider following these recommendations:

(they then gave 14 lines of tips that I cut out)

I sincerely hope that you are able to resolve this matter with the help of your credit card company, as soon as possible, Gary. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe
iTunes Customer Store Support

Please note that I work, Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 12:30 PM – 9:00 PM this week

The identity theft issues don’t even make sense. Why would someone steal my charge card number and log into my iTunes account? The CC number won’t even get them into my account and if they had a CC number, they could just create their own new account and I wouldn’t have know about it for days. And Apple doesn’t display the account number. I’m thinking, it’s an accounting or some bits on the web got mixed up. And the responses were generic enough where I’m not 100% sure they read the post.

I did notice they they did include their working schedule, which was even evdifferent for the two different people who responded (neither of whom were named “Jane”), it’s a nice touch but they both had the same return address (although the “follow-up” code could possibly redirect it).

I responded with:

Jane,

I will have my charge card company dispute/remove the charges as you said to do below. I have changed my password.

I have four (4) questions below in bold.

Unless I’m mistaken, they only gained access to my iTunes account. They don’t have my charge card number, iTunes doesn’t display the number for them to see, correct? A charge card number will not get them into my iTunes account. If they actually have my charge card number, I’d think they’d charge more than $70 of music/videos and

So this is either someone guessed my password (which was letters, numbers and non-alphanumeric characters) or some data packets got mixed up as someone else was placing their order. Since I have the two authorized computers in my possession and I know no one else was here using them, I’m assuming the latter.

Can someone actually download songs/videos to a non-authorized computer if they guessed my password?
Since videos still have DRM, someone wouldn’t actually be able to play them, correct?

Someone at the iTunes Customer Store Support can’t actually intervene in some way, at least to stop someone from downloading the season pass?
If it’s just an accounting error, it’s still going to download the season pass to my computer the next time I purchase a song.

Without my new password I’m assuming someone cannot download more of the season pass. I don’t even see how they could have in the first place without authorizing a computer.

Thank you,
Gary

And I can’t even dispute these charges yet since they haven’t fully been charge to my credit card company yet.

If anyone from iTunes/Apple is reading this and wants to fix this. You can leave a comment below or contact me directly.

UPDATE:

Wow! Lots of people with similar problems these last few weeks (see comments below), but I’m the only one that didn’t seem to have gift cards purchased on my account.

So it looks like my charge card is refunding the two dollar amounts to my charge card. This is contingent to Apple not disagreeing with my claim. FYI, after I said it was kind of stupid that they weren’t going to cancel the season pass since I was disputing it and they were still delivering the shows, Apple did contact me to say they would refund the rest of the season pass (right around the same time).

PS – It appears the Apple does not allow you to cancel a season pass! This is insane, it’s to their benefit to get you to subscribe, the fact that you can’t cancel is a non-motivator. Obviously if it was a discounted season pass and you canceled it, you’d pay the full price for episodes already received. Just seems like an obvious solution.

I still don’t understand what they are doing with these iTunes protected movies/shows if they can’t play them? Why not just download torrents off the ‘net if they are going to steal?

MY UPDATE: I got Apple to cancel the season pass and I did get my money refunded from my credit card company. It was confusing the way it cam through, I might have actually gotten credited from the rest of the season too (so I might have come out ahead, but after all the e-mails/contacting, I’m sure I ended up way behind).

——- ARE YOU FROM BOSTON?!? ——

A news station is doing a story on this and was looking for some people in the Boston area. If you are interested in being contacted please state so in your comment. I’ll pass your e-mail on to them. If you put your phone number, I’ll pass that on too, but I’ll delete it from the comment (if you’ve never commented before your comment should not appear until I approve it). Sadly I never heard any more details about the Boston story after forwarding details to them…

Written By: Gary on March 25, 2009 No Comment

macheist3So I tried out the MacHeist 3 bundle, it’s only $39 and has gobs of software in it; 12 applications (with additional games if you get in early) and even more if you convince a few friends to sign up.

Lot’s of graphics-type software this time around. Painting, snapshots, 3D animation, a cool recipe app (with huge fonts so you can read it from across the room and scroll with your Apple remote)

They say it’s worth $975+, but since you wouldn’t want everything it’s not worth that much. I think all the software are full versions, many will probably offer discounts to get you to upgrade to future versions. One application, BoinxTV, is a Sponsored Edition and “you only need to add a credit somewhere in each show stating that it was created with BoinxTV” (actually they normally sell this for $199, the non-sponsored is $499!)

I wanted the video camera switcher software, BoinxTV, which isn’t unlocked yet, but I jumped on since some networking board games were free for the first 25,000 people (you still have time). They unlock more apps as they make sales, encouraging you to promote it to other people. And if other people follow your suggestion to purchase, they give you a few more free apps.

World of Goo is a cool game for the bit I tried it. A slow puzzle game but the animations make it seem like it’s a faster game.

Lots of info on all the applications at the MacHeist 3 site.

Let’s see, what else? 25% of the sales go to charity (you can pick which one of ten) and they’ve raised $131,000 so far this sale! You can get EventBox for free, it manages your social networks, just go here and scroll down (I don’t think you even have to register).

Written By: Gary on March 4, 2009 2 Comments

Amazon released a Kindle for iPhone and iPod Touch application (that link is to the US iTunes store, not sure about international release).

With Kindle for iPhone, you can:
* Buy a Kindle book from your Mac, PC, or iPhone using a Web browser and wirelessly transfer the books to your iPhone.
* Read first chapters of any book for free before you buy.
* Download the Kindle books you already own for free (they are automatically backed up on Amazon.com).
* Adjust the text size, add bookmarks, and view the annotations you created on your Kindle device.

Kindle for iPhone also includes Whispersync, which allows you to seamlessly switch back and forth between your Kindle device and Kindle for iPhone while keeping your bookmarks and reading location synchronized between devices

kindleapp.jpgWow! Now you don’t even need a Kindle now to read the eBooks. I’m assuming the “digital paper” display is easier to read on the Kindle, but this is very cool. I wonder if the images look better than on the grey-scale Kindle? It looks like it will “show books in color that were developed that way“. I’ve liked the idea of a Kindle but not the cost and I’ve also been afraid of not having it with me everywhere; if I can start syncing to other devices that’d be very useful. Even if you don’t want to read a whole book on your iPhone/Touch, you can read the first chapter of all the Kindle books for free! ANd it doesn’t appear to sync magazines or newspapers, only books.

And did I mention that it’s free at the Apple App store? Of course you have to buy the books.

Update:

  • A lot of nice screenshots at the iPhone Blog.
  • It looks like to buy books you need to use Mobile Safari (or a computer) and not the Kindle software. That’s not ideal, but it’s workable.
  • Written By: Gary on January 29, 2009 3 Comments

    iLife '09 Apple ComputerApple’s iPhoto 2009 has two great new features, Faces and Places. One lets you identify people, the other where photos were taken. It appears to merge with FaceBook and Flickr too but I haven’t tried that yet.

    Faces: Wow, the face recognition stuff is pretty cool. Add a name to a person and it helps you identify all the photos with that person. It took some time, but it’s really great.

    What’s Faces missing? An easy way to show every face that doesn’t have a name attached. Seems simple enough, thought I maybe I could build a rule, but no go. Fix this and I’m happy with this part. I’ve got 4,000 photos in iPhoto and I’m guessing less than 1% are of people I know.

    I’m also afraid to tag photos of me as a kid, will it confuse it? I want to mark some people from behind, will that mess up the algorithm?

    As an added bonus, if you upload photos to FaceBook and other people tag the it’s supposed to pull them back down to your computer tagged!

    Places: A way to tag all your photos with a location. You do have to specify the photos, so it takes some time. It’s not just cities though, you can put in the name of a statium or roller rink and it’ll tag them with that location. It gives you a map with all the pins in place.

    What’s Places missing? A lot! But most seems to be easy to remedy. (Or maybe I just don’t know how to do it).

    Place needs a way to show all photos without a place attached to it (sound familiar). I sort of cheated with this one and built a rule for places with no spaces and it worked, until I got to “Egypt”, that didn’t have a space in it, if I could identify the cities those would fall out of the to-do list.

    When I type a place, the first few choices should be from places I’ve already put it.

    Places needs a way to mark a picture as non-location based (so when they fix the above part it’ll stop asking me about those blank ones).

    It’s slow when opening the map with the pins, really slow, can’t imagine when I get more in place.

    Bonus (needed) feature for Places: Let me plug in my GPS and you can tag my photos based on where I was! How cool would that be (need an option to adjust for time zones)?

    Otherwise the feature set appears to be the same, just two new features…

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