Thoughts & news on technology…well, mostly

iPhone to be released on June 11?

Word from a CNet blog is that a Cingular/AT&T customer support rep said the iPhone will be released on June 11, which coincides with Apple’s WWDC from June 11 – 15. This could be a bunch of b.s. since most of those CSRs don’t know jack.

All this said, I’m guessing Apple will formally announce it at the WWDC…and, hopefully, along with an update to the MacBook Pro.

[via MacRumors]


Filed under: Apple, iPhone, Mobile Phone, Rumors, Smartphone, Wireless

How do you determine the video quality of an iTunes TV show?

Does anybody know how to determine the video encoding quality for a given TV show or movie from the iTunes Store (before purchasing)? I’ve tried Get Info but it’s useless.

When the iTS first started selling videos, they encoded them in 320 x 240 (which is similar to the quality you’d get from VHS) but starting around September 2006 they started encoding them in 640 x 480 (which is near dvd quality).  I’ve been thinking about buying some older episodes of Battlestar Gallactica and I don’t want to get stuck with a 320 x 240 video file because they look like absolute shit on a 50″ plasma.

Filed under: Apple, AppleTV, Digital Movies, iTunes, Movies, Video

Microsoft Deepfish: a new concept for mobile web browsing

Microsoft Live Labs has created Deepfish – a new approach to web browsing on your Windows Mobile device that is very similar to how Safari will work on the iPhone (remember Steve Jobs’ demo from MacWorld?). Instead of loading a web page and only being able to see a small section of the page, Deepfish takes a screenshot of the web page so you see the entire page as it was designed (as opposed to the page’s header, sidebar, etc. being displayed all jacked-up). When you want to zoom-in on a specific section, click the center/joystick key to bring up a small gray focus box, move the box around the page with the directional keys, then click the center key to zoom-in. If you click the center key a third time, you’ll see an arrow cursor so you can click on buttons, links, text fields, etc.

Deepfish is in pre-beta and you need an invite if you want to try it…which is fine by me because the last thing I want to do is install buggy/unstable software on my smartphone and have it crash/reboot on me when I need to make a call.

Looks like Windows Mobile users will have a similar web browsing experience as their iPhone counterparts.

There’s a demo on the Live Labs website and there’s also a video of Deepfish in-action on a Palm Treo.

Filed under: Microsoft, Mobile Software, Web Browser, Windows Mobile, Wireless

18 ways to use Google Calendar

Anne Zelenka, of Web Worker Daily, has a great post titled, “Rock your Google Calendar in 18 ways.” You probably know some of them if you’re using Google Calendar but I’ll bet you don’t know all of them.

Here are some of the more interesting ones:

  • Add events to Google Calendar without being in GCal (thanks to a GCal Quick Add Firefox extension)
  • Receive event reminders via SMS
  • Get a daily agenda emailed or text messaged to you
  • Add a pop-up notifier of upcoming events to the Firefox status bar (via a Firefox extension)

I would add one to her list: GooSync. Being able to do a 2-way sync from a mobile phone or smartphone with Google Calendar is a HUGE bonus for some people. You can read more about this tool in my GooSync review.

Filed under: Calendar, Firefox Add-On, Google, How-To, Software

Apple TV review from Ars Technica

In case you haven’t seen this (or aren’t sick of Apple TV posts), Ars Technica has a very nice, detailed, and thorough review of the Apple TV.

If you’re thinking about buying one, I recommend reading their review…and mine.  😉

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, Reviews, Video

T-Mobile raising SMS rates: cancel your contract without paying the fees

Following in the footsteps of Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and Cingular/AT&T, T-Mobile is raising their SMS rates from 10 cents to 15 cents on June 1, 2007. You know what that means? It means, if you’re in a contract and want to leave T-Mobile, you should be able to do so without paying the early termination fees (ETF). The reason is because their contract allows you to cancel your contract without penalty if they increase the pricing of their services (I suspect, this is why they don’t increase your monthly rate plan when they increase it for new subscribers).  However, your mileage may vary depending on the customer support rep you get.

I have to admit, I’m a bit skeptical but people have reported that they have been successful in doing this – like The Boy Genius Report.

I have another year on my contract and have been very happy with T-Mobile but they won’t be carrying the iPhone…hmm, should I try to get out of my contract? If I successfully pull this off, I’ll definitely blog about it. 😉

[via Engadget Mobile and CrunchGear]

Filed under: Cellphone, T-Mobile, Wireless

Top 10 underrated Web 2.0 sites

If you’re looking for some more Web 2.0 sites, check out this list on tagoon. You may have heard or used some of the sites:

  1. Reddit.com
  2. Linkfilter.net
  3. Shoutwire.com
  4. Flurl.com
  5. Ma.gnolia.com
  6. Blinkbits.com
  7. Simpy.com
  8. StumbleUpon.com
  9. Blogmemes.com
  10. Squidoo.com

Of this list, I’ve used or am using Reddit.com, Ma.gnolia.com, and StumbleUpon.com. I’ll have to check out the others when I have more free time. Until then, enjoy!

Filed under: Web 2.0

Death threats against bloggers

I just read something that has really bummed me out: a blogger and author named Kathy Sierra started receiving death threats 4 weeks ago. Trolls and negative comments and/or emails are one thing but death threats are another. To top it off, the person(s) even posted a photoshopped picture of her with a noose next to her head…yeah, I agree with Kathy, that crosses a line.

After reading her post, it, unfortunately, shows how many assholes (for lack of a better word) are out there. It also shows how some people feel like they can say/write anything since they feel anonymous when posting comments, discussion forum posts, etc. because they can hide behind a handle/nickname. This shows how ugly mankind can really be and I hope this type of activity doesn’t flourish in the blogosphere.

I can only wish Kathy the best and that some form of justice will be given to the person(s) behind the death threats.

Filed under: Thoughts

Daylight Savings Time bug with Google Calendar’s API

There is a bug with Google Calendar’s API – their API doesn’t account for the changes to Daylight Savings Time (DST). This is making life hell for anyone who uses 3rd party software to sync Google Calendar to their Outlook, Windows Mobile, etc. calendars. Don’t get me wrong, I love Google but they royally screwed-up on this one. According to Google Support, they’re hoping to fix this in April – April?! WTF!

I noticed this because I use GooSync to synchronize my T-Mobile Dash to Google Calendar. Things were working perfectly until the changes to Daylight Savings Time (DST) took effect on March 11. Post March 11, when I created an appointment on my Windows Mobile 5 device and synced it to Google Calendar, the time of the appointment would show up correctly. But, on a subsequent sync, it would push the appointment time forward by one hour.

If you’re a GooSync user, here’s the link to the post about the DST issue in GooSync’s support group. I gotta say, it’s nice that GooSync posted this note because I’m sure they got a lot of people bitching at them – thinking it was GooSync’s fault (at first, I thought it was their fault, too).

Filed under: Calendar, Cellphone, Daylight Savings Time, Google, Smartphone, Windows Mobile, Wireless

Review: Dyson Root 6 handheld vacuum

dyson-root-6.jpgI’ve always wanted a good handheld vacuum but it’s not something that’s at the top of my list of purchases (who wants to vacuum, right?). For the past couple of years, we’ve been getting by with our crappy Dirt Devil (which is loud as hell and doesn’t have good suction). Due to its crappy performance, we rarely used it – instead, we just busted out our Miele S168 upright vacuum. The Miele is a nice vacuum but it’s a pain in the butt to take it out, unravel the power cord, plug it in, etc. just to vacuum a small area. In comes the Dyson Root 6 handheld vacuum.

There are lovers and haters of Dyson vacuums. The people that I know who have a Dyson DC14/17 love it…and I can understand why. But, the Root 6 is a different animal because it’s cordless and has a short battery life. The latter is why I wasn’t sure if it was worth $150. Since I could return it after 30-days, I decided to give it a whirl.

Here are my findings and the answer as to whether or not I’m going to keep it:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Dyson, Reviews, Vacuums

How to upgrade the hard drive in Apple TV

I’m sure you’ve already read about people upgrading that measly 40GB hard drive. Well, Engadget has some sweet step-by-step instructions with pictures.

Personally, I’m not planning on doing this since I haven’t maxed out the hard drive…yet.

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, How-To, Video

Review: Apple TV

apple-tv-menu.jpg I got my Apple TV this past Thursday and have been using it the past two nights. Everything about it is Apple-esque: the user interface is gorgeous, setup was extremely easy, integration with iTunes was perfect, synchronizing and streaming content performed flawlessly, and watching shows, film trailers, iTunes previews, etc. worked perfectly.

Overall, it rocks! But, as with anything, there is always some room for improvement. Here are the details:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, iTunes, Reviews, Video

Brits get a free 46-inch HDTV with the purchase of a PS3

Sony gave a free 46-inch HDTV (I’m assuming a LCD HDTV) to the first 100 people who purchased a PS3 on launch day. The PS3 has had a lot of negative press since it’s launch and it isn’t selling as well as the Xbox 360 and the Wii in the States…this seems like a big indication that Sony is unhappy with sales of the PS3. After all, if the PS3 was selling well, they wouldn’t be giving away HDTVs, on launch night, that will cost them an estimated £250,000.

[via Kotaku and BBC News]

Filed under: Gaming, HDTV, Playstation 3, PS3

Apple TV review from Walt Mossberg and David Pogue

The initial reviews are in: Walt Mossberg (From PC to TV — via Apple TV) and David Pogue (Apple TV Has Landed) give the Apple TV a thumbs up. Walt Mossberg summed it up nicely:

We’ve been testing Apple TV for the past 10 days or so, and our verdict is that it’s a beautifully designed, easy-to-use product that should be very attractive to people with widescreen TV sets and lots of music, videos, and photos stored on computers. It has some notable limitations, but we really liked it. It is classic Apple: simple and elegant.

Some points of interest:

  • Video and music that was streamed to the device did not hiccup or stutter on a 802.11g WiFi network (Walt Mossberg)
  • Setup was incredibly simple (Walt Mossberg)
  • After syncing your iPod to iTunes, Apple TV remembers where you stopped watching or listening to a movie, TV show, or song (David Pogue)
  • Pictures cannot be streamed but Apple plans on adding that feature soon (Walt Mossberg)
  • Only files from one computer will be synced/copied to Apple TV. The other 5 computers can only stream content to Apple TV (Walt Mossberg)
  • In iTunes, Apple created a page for ‘Apple TV podcast showcase’ (iTunes link)

The primary limitation that Walt Mossberg highlights is the lack of content that can be directly streamed from the Internet to Apple TV. Currently, only movie trailers, preview clips of songs, TV shows, and movies can be streamed. Another complaint was how

Hopefully, Logitech will update their Harmony remote control database to include commands for the Apple TV.

So far, things are looking good…

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, Reviews, Video

Gizmodo’s Apple TV Unboxing Pics


Gizmodo’s got the unboxing pics. Check ’em out!

Can’t wait to get mine…two more days. 🙂

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, Video

A demo of a multi-touch display (this is worth watching)

Jeff Han, founder of Perceptive Pixel, gave a 5 minute demo of their 8 foot multi-touch display at the Technology Entertainment Design (TED) 2007 conference. Loic Le Meur (EVP at Six Apart) recorded it and posted it on vpod.tv.

Have you seen the movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise? If so, remember that scene when he’s looking at pictures on a “computer” and he’s using both of his hands to move the pictures around? Well, that’s what this multi-touch display allows you to do. VERY, very cool. In fact, it’s so impressive that even my girlfriend was blown away (and that’s saying something!).

Trust me, it’s worth watching.

Filed under: Technology, Video

The Dilbertization of IT

dilbert.gifeWeek has a great article about how IT workplaces have become bureaucratic and emphasize the maintenance of their current technology over creativity and innovation. These excerpts sum it up perfectly:

In the simplest terms: too many IT workplaces have become Dilbert-ized—micromanaged, bureaucratic and stifled creatively. It’s become an environment where busy work is praised and morale is low…

…There’s less emphasis on creativity, and more on maintenance. Tweak this, work on this… In being reactive not proactive, everything is a crisis. Something has to be done right now, putting out fire after fire, going a long way to making IT a less pleasant environment…

…When IT stops interacting with the rest of the company, stops exerting influence by no longer offering innovative technology solutions for business problems, it packages itself in an easily shipped box.

Since the article is titled, “How to Stop the Dilbertization of IT” it gives some recommendations on how to stop it: go back to square one, stop placing the blame elsewhere, let IT be more than firefighters, and better managers get better results.

Filed under: Technology, Thoughts

Apple TV has shipped (for real)

I just checked my order status and I can say with 100% confidence that my Apple TV has been shipped via FedEx with an estimated delivery date of this Friday, March 23. Sweet!

I’m debating whether or not to post un-boxing pics (if you want me to, post a comment!) but I will definitely post my initial impressions by the end of this weekend or early next week so stay tuned!

Update (3/22/2007) My Apple TV was delivered this morning – one day ahead of FedEx’s estimated delivery date.  Nice!  I know what I’m doing when I get home from the office.  😉

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, Movies, Video

Hands-on impression of Amazon Unbox on Tivo

Gizmodo posted their hands-on experience with Amazon Unbox on a Series 3 HD Tivo and Charlie White says it’s “off to a fair start”…but I’d rather say the execution of the service is less than ideal. The key drawbacks are usability and the one technology we all love: DRM. Here’s the skinny:

  • After renting a movie, it takes up to 15 minutes your Tivo to start downloading the movie
  • You can’t watch the movie until it is 100% downloaded (one person commented that it took 5+ hours for a movie to finish downloading on his Comcast cable connection)
  • If you cancel the download before it’s completed, you’ll have to pay the rental fee, again. So, you’re shit outta luck if your router locks up or your internet connection fails.
  • Good ‘ole DRM…after the movie is downloaded, it will expire after 30 days BUT, here’s the kicker, if you click Play, the movie will expire after 24 hours. Sweet, huh? We can thank the paranoid movie studios for that.
  • The quality of the movies were standard definition. They saw compression artifacts (aka macroblocking) and felt the picture (The Illusionist) wasn’t very sharp. They didn’t say which version they downloaded but I’m assuming it was the “Tivo Best Quality File.”
  • Last but not least, no Mac support.

So far, every movie download service does not offer the equivalent to buying or renting a physical DVD or HD-DVD/Blu-ray disc. Those that want to rent or buy digital movies have to concede one or more things. For example, no surround sound, the 24-hour expiration (which is an insult), etc. There are several people out there who need more than 24 hours to finish watching a movie (I know, crazy, but they exist).

Surprisingly, the only service (that I know of) that offers HD movies for download is the Xbox Live Marketplace but there are also drawbacks to that service.

Well, cheers to another video download service that’s not perfect. Hopefully, Apple will get it right with iTunes and Apple TV…

Filed under: Digital Movies, Movies, Reviews, Technology, Video

Apple TV to get DVR features via Miglia?

Eddie Hargreaves (The Apple Blog) witnessed something interesting at MacWorld:

While I was at Miglia’s booth checking out their products and talking to their representatives, I saw a Miglia executive approached by a lady who identified herself as being with Apple. She said she was there to introduce him to someone else at Apple who was her European counterpart. Sure enough, another gentleman made his way through the exhibit hall crowd and they all left the booth to go have a meeting together.

This encounter, along with the removal of all Miglia products from the online Apple store, is what leads Eddie Hargreaves to infer that Apple may be working with Miglia (pronounced “Mee-Lee-Ah”) to bring HD DVR capabilities to the Apple TV. This could just be a wild guess by The Apple Blog but I’m confident that Apple will add DVR capabilties to the Apple TV sometime within the next year. More specifically, I believe Apple will add HD content to iTunes by June/July 2007 then add DVR to the Apple TV sometime within the next year.

Apple wants their products to be the hub of your digital life and the Apple TV with DVR capabilities is a big part of that vision.

Filed under: Apple, AppleTV, DVR, Rumors