Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

iPhone issues in San Francisco?

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

So, I’ve had my iPhone for about a month now and by and large, it works well enough here in Seattle. The thing that I was most concerned about switching from my trusty but aged Treo 755p (my year old phone was aged, trust me) was going back to the AT&T network.

I switched from AT&T in 2001 to Sprint, and I really had not looked back. I had AT&T ever since they bought Cellular One and their Frankenstein analog/digital network was great when I was using my Nokia 6120. That network (or networks) was ubiquitous as I called people from every inch of California backcountry and rarely, if ever, had problems.

Then, they switched to GSM….

Which worked…

Nowhere.

Sprint to the rescue

I dropped AT&T just after going on a cross country road trip where my phone worked very few places and my girlfriend’s (now wife) phone worked everywhere. Sprint’s service had been really great for me. I even have an EVDO card from Sprint that works beautifully. Sadly, they didn’t get the iPhone and I knew that it was a matter of time before I switched back to AT&T’s service.

Surely, AT&T’s network is better now, right?

That said, switching to AT&T had been largely uneventful (the phone doesn’t work as well as Sprint in my house, but it does work). I spent the last four days in San Francisco and had a completely different experience.

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My iPhone worked somewhat at the office downtown, but I dropped about five calls during the day. The phone was completely unusable at night, at my cousin’s in the Castro or my friend Becky’s house. When I was on the network rarely did I ever see 3G and thus left it off to not consume battery power.

Too many people or bad chipset?

So, I’m not completely oblivious to the problems the iPhone has been having since launch. Most recently, there have been hopes that the problems can be solved by a simple firmware update or worse a hardware recall.

“What I was told was that 90% of the disconnects are initiated inside the phone, which would exonerate AT&T. Most of the disconnects are being generated by crashes in the driver code for the 3G chip, which comes from the chip vendor, not something Apple written and outside of Apple’s direct control.”

Now, I’m not a network engineer, but I don’t really buy that it’s a software problem. Maybe it’s my past experiences with AT&T (and lots of others with a similar experience with the Edge iPhone), but the differences between Seattle and San Francisco’s networks are fairly stunning and so far, I’ve only had problems in SF.

SF – How has your iPhone experience been?

This sucker would be going back if I lived in the city. To be generous, my experience has been pretty sub-par. How about you?

Sync Yahoo! Addresses in iPod Touch

Friday, September 14th, 2007

ipod touch setup

Here’s a pleasant little surprise in the iPod Touch setup. I’ve always wanted to sync my Yahoo! Address Book with Apple Address Book but most of the solutions didn’t work very well.

While I was setting up the iPod Touch, I noticed that syncing with Yahoo! Mail Address book was an option. The iPhone must have this, but it certainly makes more sense on the iPhone than the Mail free iPod. Nevertheless, this is a nice add on that should keep my Address Books in sync (theoretically).

Of course, given my last post, maybe Mail is the missing icon, not my fanciful predictions of other features.

iPod Touch’s conspicuously absent button(s)

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

One of things that Apple is generally known for is their elegant design and ease of use. From a design standpoint, symmetry is a key element of any product. You just don’t see a lot of asymmetrical designs out there. And certainly not from Apple.

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Looking at the new iPod Touch, I have to ask, what’s the missing button? When the iPhone was introduced, Jobs proclaimed buttons were dead. The ability to reconfigure the layout of buttons or other input mechanisms granted Apple a lot more flexibility in changing their design at will.

Question: why would you ship a product with such an obvious gaping hole?

Answer: it’s an unfinished feature.

What feature?

We could look to the iPhone for possible features, but that seems unlikely. If Apple was going to ship email, Google Maps, or any of the widgets, they would have showed them at yesterday’s announcement.

This is an iPod folks. It’s all about entertainment, be it music, television, movies, your photos or YouTube.

A remote control?

Ok, so to me, this is obvious. iPod Touch + Airport Express = Kick ass remote control. Buying stuff from the iTunes Store is gravy, but the reason the iPod Touch has WiFi (and maybe Bluetooth) is to make the iPod more useful around the house.

Ever since the Airport Express shipped, I’ve wanted this device. The iPod and now the iPhone have proven to be one of the best ways to easily access a large collection of music. Most remotes fall far short of being useful because they lack the metadata (artist, album, song title) that the iPod or your computer has.

The Sonos comes close to fullfilling my needs, but every time I’ve used one, they just feel clunky. There are a few other devices out there, but they suck way more than Sonos does or are far outside of most people’s budget.

I can’t say that I’m the first to talk about this as Gizmodo talked about this a couple of months ago. It seems that Apple has a patent on this design, or is it something slightly different?

So let’s take the remote control idea a bit farther. You might have a little more than 16 gigabytes of music lying around on your computer. Getting to that music would be pretty simple if your WiFi enabled iPod could read from your shared music in iTunes.

Controlling music being played from your computer to your Airport Express could be another use of the onboard Wifi in the iPod Touch.

A really remote control?

I might be going off the deep end here, but stay with me. When Apple first enabled sharing in iTunes 4.0, you could access your music from another computer over the internet, not just your local network. The music companies didn’t care for this very much and Apple shut this feature down in a subsequent update.

So, wouldn’t record companies complain about this as well? I don’t think so. Rather than a remote computer that could be accessed by anyone, this iPod is mated to that computer. Apple could argue that this is a variation on syncing to a given iPod.

Additionally, despite flash memory advances in the last several years, we’re probably not getting 40+ gigabytes in flash for the foreseeable future. Remote control iTunes answers the issue of a lack of local storage. My own usage of AppleTV has shown me that streaming over the network is better than syncing.

He’s nuts

Admittedly, I’m an Apple fanboy. I’m always disappointed when their isn’t one more thing or when the iPhone doesn’t heal the sick and feed the hungry. So this might be a pipe dream.

All the pieces are there and it just takes someone at Apple to put them together.

If nothing else, they have to fill the missing button with something. Maybe they just forgot to add the Mail icon.

iPhoto ’08 – screenshots and commentary

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

So, I’m an Apple fanboy who rushed out on the first day to get iLife & iWork ’08. Here are a few pix and comments of the new features (you can get a lot more here).

I don’t have .Mac anymore, but check out the gallery in action (Thanks Chris Messina)

Install

No doubt this would happen.

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Update already?

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Bought it today? Don’t bother registering.

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No RSS autodetect, but you can still subscribe to photos

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New Stuff

Photocasting is dead.

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New organization of projects and slideshows

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New icons

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Events

Events are auto-created when you import a folder. Picks up the name, too.

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As I suspected, Events are created auto-magically by date. Let’s call this an update of Rolls.

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Least favorite item

iPhoto Library – now a big ass binary file that can become corrupt. Remember to back up your work, folks.
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Looks good so far. Let’s see how it holds up over the next few days.

Steve Jobs thinks DRM is pointless

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

Wow… here’s something I thought I’d never see.

Steve Jobs posted on the official Apple blog, errr, Apple’s press release area a letter entitled “Thoughts on Music.”

Basically, Steve boils it down to 3 possible futures.

1. Stay the course with DRM.
This doesn’t really work for the music companies as they still sell most of their music on unprotected CDs. DRM really only hinders the sale of music on iTunes and other players as folks don’t like being locked in.

2. Apple licenses Fairplay
This doesn’t work for the music companies because ultimately when more companies have access to the DRM, DRM becomes less effective.

3. DRM goes away.
I’m still shocked about this one. You can buy music from anyone and play it on any device. Ultimately, Apple still has the advantage here as they sell the number one player.

So, the big question is why did Steve post this?

Here are some possibilities:

  • European bans on DRM will affect Apple’s business.
  • A free market for music would help, not hinder Apple’s music business. Apple doesn’t have 100% player market share, so in theory, they could sell more music. Apple could, in theory, sell more iPods.
  • iPod battery life would increase. DRM sucks batteries dead because of the additional horsepower required.
  • DRM is a bad user experience and Steve knows it.

Ultimately, I hope this has some affect on the state of DRM and isn’t just a power play to garner consumer sympathy for Apple’s dilemma.


[via TUAW]

Macworld 2007

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

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Just a few quick general impressions from the show today.

iPhone and AppleTV

First, iPhone and AppleTV are two huge new platforms for Apple to develop and deserved the spotlight today. That said, not really being able to touch or to truly get a “live” demo of the iPhone was a bit of a bummer. I guess this is why Apple usually doesn’t release products that aren’t done.

[Jan 10, 2007 – David Pogue gets a hands on with the iPhone – “Typing is difficult”

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The AppleTV seems to be on the surface of things a great platform for Apple to develop. That said, I think they may need to do some convincing to those of use with HDTVs. While photos look great on this device, video was …lacking. Maybe it’s the fact that I was looking at a 42″ HD set from less than 3 feet away, but video looked kind of horrible. I’m not sure if it is the device or the video, but man, it didn’t look good.

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Fanboy Whining

No Macworld would be complete without a little complaining. I know we’ll see it soon, but I really, really wanna see what Leopard looks like. I get that two big products were introduced today, but what’s shipping from today? Typically, we get a little software to play with before the hardware ships, so I’m bummed that we didn’t get iLife ’07 today. I suspect that it is tied to the features in Leopard we haven’t seen yet.

Finally

From a visit to Macworld perspective, Macworld is pretty boring. Folks at home are getting as much of a hands on experience as we are at the show. However, the AppleTV and iPhone launch are the most significant new directions we have seen from Apple in years. Exciting times, indeed.


More pictures from the show

Twas the Night Before Macworld

Monday, January 8th, 2007

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Twas the night before Macworld when all through the town
No MacBook was mooing nor turning brown

At Moscone, nerds were queuing with care
in hopes that Saint Steve would soon be there.

(more…)

Scoble on the Zune

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

zune.jpgAfter watching Scoble’s Zune video yesterday, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the Zune, but I did know one thing for sure, the Zune pm lacked something… I know. It was enthusiasm. Man… I know Scoble isn’t MTV, but Microsoft, try sending the guy that makes me wanna buy this thing. Oy.

Bizhack thinks the Zune pm is a buzzword generator.

In any case, Scoble’s take on the “device” is here and it is pretty scathing.

As a big fan of the iPod and a long time Apple fan, I want the Zune to not suck. Competition is good and having someone nip at your heels keeps you on your toes.

Nerd-tastic!

Monday, October 16th, 2006

A bit of digression-

Here are pix from a couple of events that I’ve gone to recently.

Woz

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First, a couple of Friday’s ago, Steve Wozniak was interviewed on the UW campus by Robert Scoble (I say interviewed, but Scoble didn’t get a lot in edge wise). Woz is someone that I have always respected a lot because it has always seemed that he was a highly unlikely revolutionary. Money and fame hasn’t changed him as he seems to be as lovable a nerd as ever. Great stories from the man who brought computers to the rest of us.

Woz Trivia – apparently, Woz was once the highest scoring player of Gameboy Tetris so many times in Nintendo Power magazine that they asked him to stop submitting his scores.

Hopefully, Scoble puts his video up soon so you can watch this highly animated talk.

John Hodgman

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Second, John Hodgman visited Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company to promote his book, Areas of My Expertise, going into paperback. Readers may be familiar with his Daily Show work or maybe his Apple ads as the lovable dufus, the PC. If you get a chance to see John on his book tour, I highly recommend it. His reading and routine are quite witty and his book is side-splittingly funny.

John is pictured with my friend, Suzi.

Jobs’ saucy Newsweek interview

Monday, October 16th, 2006

steve's-business.jpgApparently, sex sells iPods, at least according to Steve Jobs quotes in this week’s Newsweek.

In celebration of the iPod’s fifth anniversary, Steven Levy sat down with Steve Jobs to talk about the appeal of the iPod and a bit about where the iPod is going. Two quotes really stuck out at me as being a bit off message for Steve, but maybe a signal of some new marketing coming down the pike.

First, when asked about the iPod’s cool factor waning due to overexposure, Jobs’ replied, “That’s like saying you don’t want to kiss your lover’s lips because everyone has lips.”

Um, ok.

Then towards the end of the interview when asked about sharing songs on the Zune, he comments:

It takes forever. By the time you’ve gone through all that, the girl’s got up and left! You’re much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you’re connected with about two feet of headphone cable.

I suddenly understand why the iPod is so popular. It helps you get chicks.

Read

Cool Tools – Monolingual

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Every so often I find something that saves my butt in some way. I’ve recently moved to using a Macbook as my primary machine. I immediately upgraded the hard drive inside, but my drive was filling up pretty quickly. Having XP and Mac OS X on the same device is great, but just having both OSs on the Mac takes up a lot of space. Even without dual OSs, I’m always in need of more hard drive space. Today, I remembered a great tool that helps you do just that.

Monolingual

Mac OS X is great in that you don’t need to install anything special to run an app in a different language as many apps ship with a cornucopia of languages already installed. Trouble is, those languages take up a lot of space.

Monolingual is an app that will remove all excess languages from your Mac. I saved 2 gigs of space alone by just removing all the extra languages.

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Now, while I don’t travel internationally much anymore these days and I don’t have many friends that don’t use English at least as a second language, if you do find that you need other languages on your system, Monolingual allows you to check off any language that you might want to keep.

Two word of caution (and thankfully for once in my life I actually RTFM). First, do not just select “US English.” It is a subset of “English” and removing “English” from your system will make your system non-functional. Second, and this is a little kludgy, if you are using Adobe products, deselect those folders from inclusion. Adobe apps “self heal,” which basically means that you will be do a partial reinstall if you remove their translations.

Monolingual is a free, open source app that is a universal binary.

Links for Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

gv_berkeley-logo.jpgBerkeley and Google Video team up
Not content to get your lectures via podcast? Now you can watch your prof’s give lectures on Google (as well as talks, symposiums and more). I wonder what this does to attendance?
[via eContent

Two thumbs down for Amazon Unbox
Wow… so I never did my review of the service (actually, I never downloaded a movie), but this review pretty much seal’s the deal. Old time computer smarty pants Peter Lewis gave Amazon’s Unbox service a pretty scathing review in Fortune magazine. His 5 hour download experience alone makes you want to run to bit torrent. I wonder if their update has helped?
[via Paul Stamatiou]

iTunes sharing skills
Playlist magazine has some good tips on managing the sharing aspects of iTunes.

iTunes updated to 7.01
Fixes a whole bunch of stuff. Go get it.

Podcasts broken after 1.2 update?

Monday, September 18th, 2006

So, to be fair to Creative, things aren’t exactly rosy in the land of the iPod either. After numerous reports of a buggy iTunes 7(which I’ve had no difficulty), my 5G iPod isn’t doing so hot.

My iPod crashes when it hits certain podcasts (CNET, Distributing the Future, Engadget) on my iPod. Apparently, I’m not the only one.

These days, this is what I use my iPod for 80% of the time, so I hope Apple fixes this soon.

[Update: A little “Restore” helped this situation out and 2 hours later, I had all my podcasts/music back on the iPod again]

How to beat the iPod

Monday, September 18th, 2006

The Zen Vision W launched in the US today and I took a look at the specs on Creative’s website. Looks like a pretty cool product, but they’ve got some work in the marketing department. Maybe they figure this thing will market itself.

Apple has probably the best marketing team in the consumer electronics and computer world right now. Creative should consider taking a page out of their book to win in the marketplace. Below are a few examples how they might combat Apple’s marketing team.

#1. Make your product pages clear and concise.

A little bird sent me this page today:

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When you click “Learn More” find out more, you are taken to this page:

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Um, ok, whatever.

#2. Sell the benefit, not the specs.

Ok, so it looks like the Zen will hold 15,000 songs. Cool.

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Except, maybe there was a misprint because one of them costs more than the other one and it has 60GBs instead of 30GBs of space.

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Nope, they meant to put that there. Congrats, my mom just bought the cheaper one!

So, if you can’t accomplish the other 2, at least:

#3. Try not confuse users.

Creative seems to have sent their “B” marketing team on this product. How the hell are you expecting to beat the iPod if you can’t figure out how to sell your device. For a device named the Zen, the site and the product seem awfully difficult to use.

This post is a little mean spirited, but I want the Zen to be better. Competition is the thing that drives product development and gets us better products. Maybe the Zune will bring their “A” team to the table.

Apple’s Showtime event

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

dsc_1067.jpgWhile Showtime lacked a few expected items, overall, this was a nice big present to current iPod owners and a cue that Apple has nothing to worry about from their competitors.

iTunes 7

Includes two of the most requested features automatic cover downloads and gapless playback. New cover browse mode (no secret of why they added automatic cover download, eh?) From a quick test, it seems to have better playback of video (thank god).

I just installed it on my box at home and while it did take over an hour to analyze my music catalog for gapless playback (it’s over 100Gb), it seems to have picked out most of the tracks that I would expect to be gapless(certain Beatles albums, live performances, opera). A nice touch is that those changes carry over to the iPod, which I haven’t tested.

The interface is cleaned up a lot on iTunes and includes iPod status, Coverflow views and a personal favorite, View Options that are dependent on the media type (Podcast, Video, Songs). This is super helpful in creating smart playlists.

Movie and Game Downloads

The newest bits of content on the iTunes Store (as it is know called) are movie and game downloads. All videos are 640×480(or less depending on aspect ratio) and will play on 5th Generation iPod. Movies are available in both widescreen and 4×3. A little sparse with the first set of movies as they are starting with movies from Buena Vista and Disney. Other studios are on their way and if you remember, the television store started with only ABC. Currently, there are only 75 movies on the service.

Games are a very interesting suprise as most people don’t think of Apple as being much of a games company, but my feeling is that this is aimed squarely at further differentiating the iPod from others. One fun bit here is that you can play games while listening to music on the iPod.

New iPod(s)

Ok, so not really a new iPod, but I think that Engadget named it 5.5G. It has a brighter screen and longer battery life. The 30Gb version went to Weight Watchers and is sporting a slightly slimmer look and an 80Gb model was added because they could.

Nano – 2, 4, and 8gb models that look like the old Mini shrank down to a more portable size. God I hate those colors…
Shuffle – 1Gb model with some shrinkage – looks like a matchbook.

The lack of widescreen iPod will be disappointing to many (including me), but I have to say, Apple is making a tidy profit on the current iPod and a new widescreen iPod would surely cost them more to make. Personally, I’m stoked my current 5G iPod got a new lease on life.

iTV

Steve said that this was a code name (iTV is pronounced “EyeTV“), so don’t expect it to ship with this name. This is a wireless device that will play video, audio and pictures from iTunes. It’s got HDMI and component video as it’s only video outs, so you can make your own HD assumptions here. It will launch in 2007, presumably with the real 6G iPod.

Overall, while their wasn’t a new iPod, current customers are probably pretty happy with the new features of iTunes and their current 5G iPods.

Watch the SteveNote

Links for Wednesday, September 12, 2006

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Is Steve Jobs Bill Gates 2.0?

Om works out that Steve has the new monopoly so he can afford to pre-annonuce products to scare the competition shitless. Interesting observation…

Facebook to allow open registration
Apparently, both salt and lemon juice do wonders for open wounds.

Tivo Series 3 launch video
Dave Zatz gives us the Tivo Series 3 promo video. Looks like this sucker is gonna cost you $800. Ouch. Here’s the press release from Tivo.

Dave.TV to share revenues with users
Yet another video site decides to share revenue with their users. Where will the madness end??