Monday, June 22, 2009

Photos from new iPhone 3G S camera


There are some pretty amazing things going on with the new 3-megapixel camera in the latest generation iPhone. With images this good, it's only the lack of a flash that will keep me from leaving my pocket Canon camera at home. We are perilously close to the all-in-one cell-phone/pocket camera that really serves all needs.

Check out the rest of mezzoblue's iPhone 3G S field test.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fox releases X-Files branded iPods


Isn't this a few years too late? I haven't heard great things about the movie, but I suppose the X-Files fan base is strong enough to lap up a few of these puppies. Unfortunately the markup is about $100 just for the branding.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Apple announces 3G iPhone and "Mobile Me" service

picVia MacRumors:
The heavily rumored 3G iPhone was announced today during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference Keynote.

- 3G-capable. 2.8 times faster than EDGE.
- GPS built-in
- Thinner
- Better battery life - 300 hours of standby, 2G talk-time 10 hours (as opposed to 5), 5 hours of 3G talk-time (competition is 3 hour 3G talk time), 5 to 6 hours of high-speed browsing, 7 hours of video, 24 hours of audio.
- flush headphone jack

Pricing and Availability
The iPhone 3G will be available July 11th in 22 countries for $199 for 8 GB and $299 for 16 GB. The 16 GB model also comes in white.

Apple also announced "Mobile Me," which they're billing as "[Microsoft] Exchange for the rest of us." Basically, it's real-time sync of your personal data (contacts, calendar entries, etc) across your phone, laptop, etc.

With a price point of just $200, the only real stumbling block to getting an iPhone (other than the goofy "I like hard buttons" complaint) would be that you don't want to be beholden to AT&T.

See more at Apple's web site.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Pssssst! You hear that?

picYou hear that distant rumbling?

That's the sound of the internet going insane as another Apple product announcement keynote speech approaches. The 2008 Apple World Wide Developer's Conference starts tomorrow and rumors of next-generation iPhones with video chat and faster data connections are flying furiously. Personally I'm just looking forward to the new applications that will be available now that Apple has opened the iPhone to 3rd-party software development.

Can't be in San Francisco with the other Mac faithful for the speech? Now there's an official podcast from Apple that will automatically download the keynote videos for you after the fact.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Apple Adds New iPhone & iPod touch Models


The iPhone now comes in two flavors: 16 gigabytes for $499, 8GB for $399, and the iPod Touch now has a 16GB model for $399 and 8GB for $299.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Warner caves in, will sell tunes without copy protection

In today's Austin Statesman, a story about Warner's announcement that it will sell unprotected MP3s of its entire catalog, at first only through

In February, when Apple CEO Steve Jobs penned an essay calling on record labels to drop Digital Rights Management from tracks sold on the company's iTunes Store, (Warner chair Edgar) Bronfman shot back during a conference call with Wall Street analysts: "We will not abandon DRM nor services that are successfully implementing DRM for both content and consumers."

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Panic releases CandyBar 3

CandyBar and Pixadex have long been the icon customization tools of choice for users of the Mac. The latest version of CandyBar combines the two tools into one application, which is supercool to say the least. It also integrates support for OS X 10.5's new 512x512 icons (can they really be called icons with that many pixels?) and allows customization of the much-maligned Dock as well. I'll be happy to see my active applications once more indicated with the familiar little triangles instead of glowing spots of light.

Gedeon Mayheux of the Iconfactory (the company behind Pixadex) supplies a video demo of the new application below. Doctor Who fans will want to stick around until the end.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Palm Centro: Too Little, Way Too Late


If Palm had introduced this little smartphone a year ago, I would probably have been over the moon -- actual advances on their Treo technology (instant messaging software with support for MSN, Yahoo, and AIM?!) in a sporty new shell, and all for a hundred bucks. It's aimed squarely at the mass market, those folks who live on SMS and AIM but have never owned anything remotely approaching a Blackberry. I have a feeling, however, that it's all going to amount to a hill o'beans.

Yes, because of the iPhone. The iPhone lured me away from Palm (I've been a loyal Treo user for five years or more) and didn't even have to try to lure me away from Sprint. Hell, Sprint practically pushed me away by "upgrading" my broken phone to a different model which required a new, more expensive data plan. Paying the early termination fees to break my contract seemed like a bargain just to be shut of the nation's most arrogant cell phone carrier. Sprint's customer service was so deplorable I practically kicked my heels together upon crossing the threshold of the Apple Store.

But Sprint's crappy service isn't the reason that I think the Centro comes too late to the party. I just can't imagine that anyone, having seen the future of honest-to-god, uncrippled email and web surfing on a cell phone, would be satisfied with the half-assed experience that the Palm operating system provides in comparison. No, you can't install your own programs on the iPhone (yet). But the myriad of web sites I can get to from anywhere I'm likely to be are more than replacement for the tip calculator and password storage program I lost when I made the leap.

There are a million little niggly points you could bring up when comparing the two phones, but let's try to stick to the big picture: technology choices are about user experience and utility, and the iPhone has it all over the Treo/Centro phones when it comes to that. Yeah, it's $300 more, but I think you get your money's worth. I hope for Palm's sake that the Centro is a success and that somehow they rededicate themselves to advancing the state of portable computing, instead of rehashing a decades-old operating system. But even if they do have something interesting to say in the future, they'll have to fight pretty hard to get me to listen.

Oh, by the way, David Pogue has a review of the Centro on the New York Times.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

I knew this day would come, but so soon...?

Someone has turned the iPhone into a really expensive handheld video poker machine. My only complaint: no sound.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Stomp Tokyo Podcast, Bonus Episode #2

Podcast About three weeks ago we just had to talk about the new iPod announcements and so we recorded it. If you're not a fan of listening to us go fanboy all over the iPhone and such, this would probably be a good episode to skip. That's why we called it a bonus episode; it doesn't really have anything to do with cult movies and we'd hate for you to go in thinking we were going to talk about anything but technology in this ep. Stay tuned for a real episode about the new genre TV in the Fall season really really soon. Promise.

If, on the other hand, you dig the idea of an iPod with all the schmancy touch features and want to hear us talk about the ins and outs of the annoucement earlier this month, please! Click away and listen to Bonus Episode #2 now -- no iPod required.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

new iLife, iWork updates from Apple - so why does .Mac suck?

It is no secret that I'm a big Apple fan, so naturally when they release products my ears perk up. Yesterday brought a new line of iMacs, newly redesigned to be more eco-friendly in material construction and more like the new iPhone visually. This was no surprise as they essentially did the same thing a few years back for the iMac -- designed it to look like a big version of the white iPod. They look like great machines and if I ever have need for a desktop machine instead of a laptop I'm sure an iMac is what I'll end up with.

More interesting to me, however, was the release of new versions of iWork and iLife, the office and creative tools designed by Apple to be used by people who appreciate elegant, easy-to-use software tools. Do I sound like a shill? Well, at least I'm a sincere shill.

iworkiWork got a new application called Numbers which sounds like a kinda-sorta spreadsheet application but with better tools for those of us who use spreadsheets like normal people, not like accountants. No offense to accountants, but I only ever used a tiny fraction of the functions of which Excel was capable, and some of those functions were too difficult to figure out so I didn't use them even if I wanted to. I suspect Numbers does a better job of making the most commonly used functions accessible and easy to use for those of us who aren't Excel wizards. I've heard similarly great things about Pages (the word processor/page layout program in iWork) and Keynote, the PowerPoint presentation package. I haven't bought previous versions of iWork and it's doubtful I'll buy this version, at least for a while -- because someone else got there first.

That someone else is Google. These days I use Google Docs and Spreadsheets for almost all of my office tasks, especially if I need to share those documents. Both Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets are easy to use, readily accessible to anyone with a web browser, and free. There is still the occasional need to open an Excel file or Word document and for those I use Microsoft Office, but only because that is what opens automatically when I double click those documents. If I uninstalled Office and forced myself to use Google's tools for those things I could probably do without an office application entirely. Sure, Google has no Powerpoint/Keynote presentation app, but by the time I need one they probably will. The killer feature is being able to share the document for reading and/or collaboration with others -- I never have to worry about which version of the document I'm working on, and I can see in real time whether one of my collaborators is working on the document at the same moment.

Sure, Google's apps require that I have a web connection to use them, but in Austin I am rarely without service. Anywhere. I was in a coffee shop recently where they have free wireless but I wasn't able to connect, so I just hopped on one of the other three open networks nearby. The time is coming when every area of moderately dense population will have wireless connections everywhere, so the need for Internet connectivity isn't much of a stumbling block.

But I was talking about Apple, wasn't I?

ilife08The new iLife '08 is something I'll be picking up immediately -- or at least, as immediately as I can with my wife's educator discount. I use iPhoto almost daily for digital photographs, and Garageband and iMovie have their uses in both work, personal, and hobby life. I prefer other web tools to iWeb, but if iWeb improves past say, Rapidweaver I'll probably look at it more seriously.

iPhoto's new capabilities look great -- Apple understands that a great software tool isn't just about manipulating the files you're working with, but also about organizing them. Enter the concept of "events," which lets you browse your photos by event times that you define (all digital photos are tagged with the date they were taken in-camera). Their "Web Gallery" sharing feature is a welcome addition for lots of folks, I'm sure, but again another web service has stepped in to make it less desirable for me.

For photo sharing, I use Flickr. Flickr not only archives and shares my photos, but also lets me present them in a slideshow and all that great stuff. It brings a lot of social elements like comments into the mix. If I have a bunch of photos of an event, it can group them into an event-related set, or I can even upload them to a public group with other Flickr members' photos from the same event. Apple doesn't offer anything even remotely like that, so it's doubtful that I'll share my photos anywhere other than Flickr for a good long while.

dotmacApple did have the foresight to expand the storage capacity on .Mac (their online mail and web tools service) to ten gigabytes, though this pales in comparison to Flickr's unlimited storage capacity -- at a quarter of Apple's asking price, I might mention. Apple does offer more features in the non-photo sharing realm than Flickr, including an e-mail address, but most of those features are so lame in comparison to other comparable web services (most of which are cheap or free) that Apple's $100 annual fee is laughably overpriced. If .Mac didn't have hooks into the OS X operating system -- so that I can sync my bookmarks and address book between multiple computers, for example -- I wouldn't use .Mac at all.

A quick sampling of .Mac's services and the competitor that trounces them:

  • Web hosting - practically anyone does web hosting cheaper, though few do it easier. This might be worth it for home users who don't want to learn about nasty acronyms like FTP, CSS, and HTML
  • IMAP mail & web mail - GMail is by far the best webmail client out there, though I do wish it supported IMAP.
  • Groups - like YahooGroups or Google Groups. Haven't tried Apple's service though I'm sure the free services compare favorably.
  • iDisk (online storage) - see web hosting.
  • Backup - Apple's backup tool is a joke. I've been trying to use Mozy for a while now with little success but will fall back on SuperDuper to back up my laptop since I haven't done a full backup in a while. Mozy seems like a great idea (backing up to an online service while your Mac is idle) but it's so slow to upload that it seems practically useless. Another problem is that I tend to close my laptop when I'm not using it, so idle time isn't exactly abundant.

Wow - I had a lot of pent-up aggression towards .Mac (pronounce it "dot Mac"), but is it surprising? Apple does so many things so very well that when they drop the ball it really stands out. Why hasn't Apple built the killer online service, something worth a hundred bucks a year? Why are they content to lag so far behind in this area, when they lead in so many others?


Sunday, August 05, 2007

End Times Arrive: Fake Steve Jobs Outed by NY Times Reporter

You know that guy at work who always has to draw attention to himself by spoiling everyone else's fun, usually while proving that he's smarter than the other people in the room?

Next time he comes around, call him Brad.

Brad Stone at the New York Times revealed the true identity of Fake Steve Jobs, who entertained us for a long while (months?), posing as the real Steve Jobs and writing the wacky things the real SJ probably thinks but can't say. I won't link to the article here, but I'm sure you can find it.

Here is FSJ's awesome reply.

Long Live FSJ -- I'll keep reading even if I do know who you are.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More "Mac vs. PC" parodies

Laurie McGuinness made some parodies of those ubiquitous "Mac vs. PC" ads and -- wait, come back! These are actually pretty funny.

[Via Daring Fireball]


Sunday, January 07, 2007

LG to offer dual format HD DVD / Blu-ray player

File this one under "well, duh."
LG Electronics will begin selling a dual-format high definition player designed to call a truce in the continuing war between rival DVD formats.

The model BH100, dubbed "Super Multi Blue," will play discs in the Blu-ray format, backed by a group led by Sony Corp. LG is a member of the Blu-ray consortium. It will also play discs in the rival HD DVD format, which is backed by a consortium headed by Toshiba Corp.
The plot thickens, however:
But while it will display the full range of interactive features contained on Blu-ray discs, such as menus that appear while the film is playing, it will not play similar interactive elements contained on HD DVD discs.
It remains to be seen whether such "interactive features" really matter in the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray. How many people actually listen to the commentaries or fiddle with the DVD-ROM features of the regular DVDs they buy now?

If I had to make a guess as to which format will be left standing when the dust settles, I'd have to put my money on Blu-ray (despite its stupid name). Sony is really getting its foot in the door with the Blu-ray drive in its PS3 systems, in terms of mindshare if not in terms of units actually shipped. More telling is the fact that Apple Computer has put its flag down on the side of Blu-ray I wouldn't be surprised see some new Pro level Macs with Blu-ray drives introduced when Steve Jobs gives his big Macworld keynote address on Tuesday. Apple may not be the biggest computer manufacturer around, but the eyes of the tech world are definitely upon them.