Koolio

Thoughts & news on technology…well, mostly

Costco Changes Return Policy


Today, Costco announced a change to their return policy (which is a bummer) so make sure you’re aware of this before your next big ticket purchase. Basically, they changed their return policy to 90 days for consumer electronics, which goes into effect this week in California and on April 1 for the rest of the U.S. Here’s the new return policy on Costco’s website:

“Merchandise: We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell, with a full refund. Exceptions: Televisions, computers, cameras, camcorders, iPOD / MP3 players and cellular phones must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a refund.”

The good news? All consumer electronics purchased before January 1, 2007 is grandfathered with the old return policy. In addition, for all TVs, Costco will extend the manufacturer’s warranty to 2 years. This BusinessWeek article has some more details.

For those of you who don’t know, prior to today, Costco’s return policy was unlimited. Meaning, you could buy a HDTV from them and if it crapped out on you 2 years later, you could return it for a full refund. Yeah, it was an awesome policy for *honest* buyers who wanted that extra piece of mind but A LOT of people were abusing it. According to their CFO, a lot of plasma TVs were returned last year (and, presumably, re-purchased for the cheaper price) and it killed their earnings.

Update (4/14/2007): For clarity, all non-consumer electronics products can still be returned indefinitely.

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Filed under: Costco, Retail, Shopping

10 User-Friendly Windows Vista Tweaks


Laptop Magazine has a list of 10 Windows Vista tweaks that you may want to check out. The most interesting tweak is the ability to disable the annoying “allow/deny” pop-ups whenever an application is installed or needs to access the registry. However, doing so creates a security risk with IE 7.0.

Here’s the list:

  1. Turn Off User Account Control (this allows you to disable the ‘allow/deny’ pop-ups)
  2. Bring Back the File Menu
  3. Customize the Start Menu and Taskbars
  4. Create a Flip 3D Shortcut
  5. Activate Multi-file Tagging
  6. Automate Your Defragmentation Routine
  7. Expanded Right-Click Options
  8. Activate Three Clocks
  9. Activate Parental Controls
  10. Make Mobility Center Ever-Ready

Filed under: How-To, Microsoft, Vista, Windows

Apple TV Delayed Until March 20


I just checked my Apple Store order and my Apple TV ship date has been delayed from February 28 to March 20. Apple’s spokeswoman has confirmed the delay:

“Wrapping up Apple TV is taking a few weeks longer than we projected, and we now expect to begin shipments mid-March,” spokeswoman Lynn Fox said by email.

MacRumors is reporting that Apple Stores will still get the in-store display units on March 5. If this is true, at least, we’ll be able to check it out.

Since my estimated delivery date is March 26, the release date is effectively the end of March.

Well, those rumors about an Apple TV delay from a couple of weeks ago are now true. The thing that annoys me is how Apple officially denied those rumors.  Anyways, this blows.

Filed under: Apple, Apple Store, AppleTV, Digital Movies, IPTV

Will you be able to upgrade to Windows Mobile 6?


Answer: it depends.

In the past, when a new Windows Mobile version was released, the manufacturers and carriers (i.e., T-Mobile, Cingular/AT&T, Verizon Wireless, etc.) had several hurdles to overcome in order to offer you the upgrade (which is why they never did). The carriers had to: 1. pay Microsoft a license fee for the upgrade, 2. customize it for their devices, and 3. test it.

For Windows Mobile 6, Microsoft has eliminated hurdle #1. Per Smartphone Thoughts:

“We’ve just learned that Microsoft has given a free license to vendors who will upgrade their devices. So I think it’s clear that Microsoft understands the frustration that all of us feel when a new OS is released and are trying to change things. It’s expected that HTC will offer upgrades for any device with a keyboard – as all of you Dash/Excalibur users are already aware. Unfortunately we don’t know what Motorola or Samsung plan to do about this. The ball is in the carriers and manufacturers court. Let’s hope they don’t drop it.”

I know, if you’re a Samsung BlackJack or Motorola Q owner this doesn’t tell you if you’ll be able to upgrade to WM6 but now you know what’s involved with an upgrade.

Filed under: Microsoft, Mobile Phone, Mobile Software, Smartphone, Windows Mobile

iPod Being Updated with Cover Flow?


Gizmodo is reporting that the iPod will get a firmware update that will add Cover Flow. Not sure what Cover Flow is? Watch this YouTube video to see it in action. It looks very sweet.

I have to say, the iPhone interface and Cover Flow (to a certain extent) reminds me of the movie Minority Report – remember that scene where Tom Cruise is wearing a pair of gloves and uses a computer simply by moving his hands in the air? He virtually grabs a screen and pulls it in front of him and when he’s done with that he tosses it aside? I remember watching that and thinking how cool it would be if we could use computers in the same way…anyways, here’s the video:

Filed under: Apple, iPod, MP3, Rumors, YouTube

A few changes at Koolio


A couple of days ago, I made some changes to the RSS feed and how you can subscribe to Koolio:

  1. Changed the URL of my RSS feed (I’m now using FeedBurner)
  2. Added the option to subscribe to Koolio via email (a big thanks to MacManX for the button/icon)
  3. Added a “Subscribe to Koolio” section in the right-hand column
  4. Added a handful of chicklets/buttons making it easier for you to subscribe with your preferred web-based feed reader (e.g., Google, Yahoo, Bloglines, etc.)

So, for those of you who are reading my blog via the old RSS feed (koolio.wordpress.com/feed), please feel free to start using the new feed. For those of you who aren’t subscribed to my blog, now’s the perfect time!

Some details about the ‘subscribe via email’ option: it’s powered by FeedBurner (they won’t resell your email addy or spam you) and it will deliver one email digest for each day I make a post(s). If I don’t make any posts, you don’t get an email. You can also unsubscribe at anytime (the link is in the footer of the emails) but I hope you won’t. 😉

Lastly, if you have any feedback on these changes, please leave me a comment on this post. Thanks!

Filed under: Uncategorized

Apple TV Arriving in Apple Stores on March 5th?


The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) is reporting that the Apple TV will be on display at your nearest Apple Store on March 5th, which coincides with the delivery estimate for my Apple TV (March 6). Supposedly, they will be hooked up to Sony Bravia LCD HDTVs.

I’ll be curious to see how much interest there is at the Apple Stores and how well they sell.

Update (2/27/2007) The release date has been delayed to mid-March but the Apple Stores are still expecting to have in-store display units on March 5.

Filed under: Apple, Apple Store, AppleTV, IPTV, Retail, Rumors, Technology

3G iPhone in early 2008?


AppleInsider is reporting rumors that a 3G-capable iPhone will be released in January 2008 per a Swedish company. So, if this rumor is true, then European folks will see a 3G iPhone next year. As for those of us in the U.S., the question is: will Apple release the 3G in the States at the same time? Who knows…Steve Jobs has publicly mentioned long-term 3G plans (see last paragraph) so, at least, we know there will be a 3G iPhone in the U.S….at some point in time.

Personally, I don’t think we’ll see a 3G iPhone in the States until around June 2008. Releasing an updated iPhone 6-7 months after the initial introduction is a tad too quick. Apple will want the Gen 1 iPhone to be on the market for at least 1 year.

I know, I know…it’s surprising we’re already hearing rumors about the next iPhone before the first one is even released…welcome to the world of Apple rumors. 😉

Filed under: Apple, iPhone, Rumors, Smartphone, Technology, Wireless

Windows DreamScene Preview: Initial Impressions


Since Microsoft won’t be releasing the final version of DreamScene until mid-2007, they decided to release a “preview” version. I noticed it in Windows Update back on February 16 and finally had the chance to check it out. For those of you who are not familiar with DreamScene, it allows you to replace your desktop wallpaper with a video (in .mpg or .wmv formats) that plays on your desktop.

DreamScene comes with one video, which is an animated version of the standard ‘Vista wallpaper’ but you can change it to any .mpg or .wmv video file. Here’s how to download and enable DreamScene:

  1. Click the Windows start button
  2. In the search box, enter “windows ultimate extras”
  3. In the search results, click “Windows Ultimate Extras.” This will open the Windows Update window.
  4. You should see DreamScene listed in the “Windows Ultimate Extras available for download” section. If not, you probably already installed it (you can verify if it was installed by clicking the “View update history” link).
  5. Install DreamScene.
  6. After installation, right-click on your desktop and choose “Personalize.”
  7. When the Personalization window opens, click “Desktop Background.”
  8. In the Location drop-down list, choose “Windows DreamScene Content” (see image).
  9. After choosing this option, you’ll be able to choose which video you’d like to play. After choosing the video, click “OK.”

Once you have DreamScene enabled, there are shortcuts to 1.) pause the video and 2.) to choose a different video file:

To pause the video, right-click on your Desktop and choose “Pause DreamScene.” See below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Microsoft, Reviews, Technology, Video, Vista, Vista Ultimate Extras, Windows

Free Extended Battery for Samsung BlackJack Owners


samsung-blackjack.jpgHave a Samsung BlackJack with poor battery life? Well, surprisingly, Cingular is offering a free extended battery to *some* BlackJack owners. BlackJack owners who have an IMEI serial number between 352794010030189 – 352794012269959 are eligible for this offer. If you qualify, all you have to do is fill out a form on this website and Cingular will send you the extended battery.

Engadget Mobile got the deets from the Cingular BlackJack blog. If you own a Samsung BlackJack, you might want to check out that blog.

Filed under: Cingular, Mobile Phone, Samsung, Smartphone, Windows Mobile, Wireless

CNET Review of Windows Mobile 6 (Rating: Very Good)


wm6-standard-homescreen.jpgCNET has posted a review of Windows Mobile 6 and they gave it a 7.0 out of 10. This review is a bit more in-depth than the Pocketnow review I linked to in my ‘Windows Mobile 6 for T-Mobile Dash‘ post (the author could’ve done a better job differentiating the features between WM6 Standard and WM6 Professional). Here are some of the highlights:

  • Outlook Mobile can now display HTML email
  • Outlook Mobile supports email searching (you just type the letters and it will filter your emails)
  • Call history is associated with your contacts (see screenshot)
  • Calendar now displays a ribbon at the top of the screen so you can easily see your free/busy time (see screenshot)
  • Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition now comes with Mobile Office, which allows you to view and edit Word and Excel files but only view PowerPoint files (on Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone Edition you had to install a 3rd party app to view these files). However, the editing capabilities are pretty thin: (who actually does massive edits on a smartphone, anyways?)

“We should note, however, that the editing capabilities are pretty light. In Word, you’re pretty much restricted to adding and deleting text and formatting type (such as bold, italic, underline, and highlight); while in Excel, you can insert rows and columns, sort, perform basic functions, and so forth.”

One thing that does not seem to be fixed (*sigh*) is that when you “close” an application Windows Mobile hides it instead of closing it. When an application is closed, it should be closed (just like it is in Windows XP/Vista). Why does that matter? Well, when an app is hidden it still utilizes memory and when you don’t have enough free memory the performance drops and you can encounter memory errors.

Even though WM6 has some room for improvement it sounds like it’s worth an upgrade. Heck, since it’s free for T-Mobile Dash owners, I’m definitely upgrading. If I had to pay for it, I most likely wouldn’t (thanks to the iPhone!).

Filed under: Microsoft, Mobile Phone, Mobile Software, Reviews, Smartphone, Windows Mobile, Wireless

Bargain: Logitech VX Revolution Notebook Mouse for $35


logitech-vx-revolution.jpgLooking for a wireless notebook mouse? Well, here’s the deal for you: Buy.com has the Logitech VX Revolution for $35 ($55 – $20 mail-in rebate). MSRP is $80 so this is a steal.

Specs for the VX Revolution can be found here.

If I didn’t own the Logitech V500, I’d jump all over this.

Filed under: Bargains, Deals, Logitech, Mouse

Another PC vs. Mac Commercial


Here’s another funny Apple commercial…actually, a lot funnier than the previous ‘Vista Allow or Deny’ one I posted. Enjoy!

Filed under: Apple, MacOSX, Microsoft, Video, Vista, Windows, YouTube

Details on (potential) iPhone and Monthly Rate Plan Pricing


cingular-iphone-ad.jpg

This is a leaked Cingular iPhone ad (click image to see the full version) that lists some potential pricepoints for the iPhone as well as the potential costs for the iPhone rate plan. I got the info from Appleiphonereview.com and Engadget and have a summary below:

  • Price w/2-year contract: $299 (4GB) and $399 (8GB) vs. $499 & $599 w/o contract
  • Monthly Rate Plan options:
    • Voice: $39.99 for 450 minutes, unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling, and 5,000 night/weekend minutes
    • Data: $4.99/mo for 200 text messages or $19.99/mo for 200 text messages and unlimited Internet & Visual Voicemail.

If these prices hold true, it will make it a lot easier for people to buy the iPhone and switch to Cingular.

Filed under: Apple, iPhone, Rumors, Smartphone, Technology

More Rumors for a March Release of Mac OS X Leopard 10.5


There are some more rumors that OS X 10.5 (Leopard) will be released at the end of March. I’ve come across a few sources reporting this same rumor.

With the release of Windows Vista, there’s going to be a lot more focus on what Leopard brings to the table and how it stacks up against Vista. Yes, we all agree that Vista “leveraged” a lot of features from Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) but I think Leopard will need to bring some more innovative features (other than the ones already revealed) to keep feeding the ‘pro-Apple’ momentum. Let’s hope those ‘top-secret’ features, that Steve Jobs mentioned, are killer-features.

Update (2/28/2007) I must say, my gut is telling me that Leopard will NOT be released in March but more likely in June.  There really isn’t a benefit for Apple to release Leopard earlier and, I believe, Apple will want to coincide the release of Leopard with some updated hardware (like those rumored MacBook Pros) to garner some more hardware sales.

Filed under: Apple, MacOSX, Rumors, Software

Daylight Savings Time for Windows, Windows Mobile 5, and Mac OS X


In case you haven’t heard, the U.S. Government changed when we change our clocks for Daylight Savings Time (DST). Here are the deets of the change: (I copied it from Sun Microsystem’s Sun Developer Network)

“The United States has planned a change to its DST observance beginning in 2007. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates that DST will start on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November. In 2007, the start and stop dates will be March 11 and November 4, respectively. These dates are different from previous DST start and stop dates. In 2006, the dates were the first Sunday in April (April 2, 2006) and the last Sunday in October (October 29, 2006).”

Due to this change, everyone with a computer, smartphone, PDA, etc. will have to install a software patch to account for the change. Yeah, it’s a pain in the ass and Microsoft doesn’t make it easy for you to determine if you need to patch your system (Apple auto-includes it in the Software Update). So, I thought I’d make it easy for you all and just tell you what you need to do:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Daylight Savings Time, How-To, MacOSX, Mobile Software, Software, Vista, Windows, Windows Mobile

I’m Getting an Apple TV!


A very good friend of mine just bought me an Apple TV for Christmas (thanks!) and it’s expected to ship on February 28 so I should have it no later than March 6. This also supports Apple’s denial of the shipment delay rumors that were circulating around the rumor sites a week or two ago.

Regarding the actual device, I do have some reservations about this device – primarily, it doesn’t have HD DVR functionality nor is there any HD content available on iTunes but it will still be nice to watch those episodes of 24 or Lost, that my DVR didnt’ record, in the comfort of my living room. To be honest, I *really* hope Apple will start offering HD content on iTunes. If not, I have a feeling I won’t use this device all that much. Needless to say, I’m still excited to get it and watch some shows in my living room instead of my PowerBook.

Btw, take a look at my previous post on how Apple can be the first computer hardware/software company to make some searious in-roads into our living rooms (‘Can Apple be successful in our living/media rooms?’)…with the Apple TV being the primary driver.

Anyways, I’ll post a review after I’ve used it for a week or two.

Filed under: Apple, AppleTV, Digital Movies, IPTV

Glass Skywalk at the Grand Canyon


grandcanyon-skywalk.jpgOn March 28, 2007, visitors to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon will be able to walk 70 feet past the rim on a glass skywalk and be 4,000 feet above the Colorado River (more pics at Gizmodo).

Personally, I don’t think this should have been built – the Grand Canyon is one of the most gorgeous natural wonders and they are building this huge ugly structure right on it. In my opinion, if you want to see the Colorado River or the bottom of the Canyon, then hike into it (yes, I admit I’m a bit biased since I’ve hiked through the Grand Canyon).

Well, at least the skywalk won’t be at the South or North Rims…

Filed under: Grand Canyon, Thoughts, Travel

Wireless iPod Charging Coming Soon?


One of Apple’s patent filings has been released by the US Patent and Trademark Office; it’s about a docking station that would allow a device (iPod/iPhone?) to be docked in multiple ways and, more interestingly, allow for wireless charging. The wireless charging reminds me of how a Sonicare toothbrush is charged: there’s a cradle and all I have to do is seat the Sonicare in it to have it charged – there are no exposed metal contacts.

Of course, just because a patent has been filed doesn’t mean Apple will actually bring this product to market. But, if it does, this is one-step closer to my ideal Apple scenario where I have an Apple docking station sitting on my nightstand that allows me to charge and wirelessly sync my iPod/iPhone.

AppleInsider has more deets on the patent filing along with some diagrams.

Filed under: Apple, iPhone, iPod, Rumors, Technology, Wireless

15.4″ MacBooks in Q2 2007?


DigiTimes is reporting that Apple will release a 15.4″ MacBook in the second quarter of 2007:

“Apple is planning to introduce 15.4-inch MacBooks in the second quarter of 2007, according to industry sources in Taiwan. The new model will fill the gap between the company’s 13.3-inch MacBooks and the 15.4- and 17-inch MacBook Pros that form its current notebook line up, and is expected to boost shipments of Apple’s Intel-powered MacBooks, the sources add.

Prices for the 15.4-inch MacBook models are likely to be more competitive than their 13.3-inch counterparts, due largely to the relatively lower cost of 15.4-inch LCD panels, and will therefore help push further sales of MacBooks,” the publication said.”

I’m going to call b.s. on this one for two reasons: 1.) According to MacRumors and AppleInsider, DigiTimes has not been very accurate with previous rumors, and 2.) A 15.4″ MacBook would cannibalize sales of the 15.4″ MacBook Pro, which I’m sure is more profitable than the MacBook. Honestly, there isn’t a huge difference between the specs of a 13″ MacBook vs. 15″ MacBook Pro (assuming, your needs are just web surfing, email, and digital photo management) so adding a 15.4″ MacBook would create some overlap between the two products.

If Apple were to do this, the only reason I could think of is to attract more ‘switchers.’ For example, I’m sure there are quite a few people out there who would switch to the Mac but want a 15″ screen and will not pony-up $2,000 for a MacBook Pro. A friend of mine was in a similar situation last year – he wanted a 15″ screen but didn’t want to drop an extra $700 to get a 15″ MacBook Pro. He still bought the 13″ MacBook but I’m sure he would’ve spent an extra $200 to get a 15″ MacBook.

Filed under: Apple, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Rumors, Technology