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Friday, May 30, 2008

Live WWDC Video Coverage

Just a quick note to announce we will be doing live coverage of all the WWDC Keynote announcements, beginning one hour before the scheduled start of the keynote. Our stream will be capped to ensure everyone viewing has a smooth viewing experience. So mark those iCals, and join us Monday, June 9th at noon ET / 9AM PT for all the breaking news and commentary on the latest from Apple.

iPod Recycling - good for mother earth, good for your wallet

This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting my local Apple store. Well, pleasure may be too strong of a word- if at all possible, one should avoid visiting the Apple store on a weekend, ever. (Especially a holiday weekend!) That said, here's a rundown of my exchange experience.

Being both a tree-hugger and a technophile, I was very happy to learn about Apple's iPod recycling policy. When it came time for my old Nano to visit the big Apple logo in the sky, I was happy to hand him over to a nice customer service representative (I'd like to give resound high marks to Kenny, the associate who helped me. He was polite, friendly and apologized for the ridiculous wait I had to endure...why did they remove all but one cash rap? I feel like I'm always standing over there, with some weird request that the Windows-toting hand held machines the staff all carry can't handle. Bring back the registers please, Steve!)
I was even happier to get 10% off my purchase of a new Nano, after filling out a simple form with my name and contact information. The associate then took my old iPod and wrote in the serial number on the form. A swipe of my credit card later, and Kenny was emailing me my receipt (yay less paper refuse!), while giving me the option for a printed receipt if I'd prefer. I can understand why you may want a paper receipt when making a major computer purchase, but I was more than happy to forgo the wasted pulp for a Nano purchase. The receipt showed both a scan of the recycle option (rings up as a penny) and the 10% discount on my 199.00 new iPod.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A look at the iPod vending machines

For those of you who haven't been in a Macy's recently, here's a look at their iPod vending machines. Looking like a two-door convenience store freezer, the machines stock several flavors of iPods, as well as a few digital cameras, and iPod accessories.

I questioned why the store would bother with the vending machines. Is it simply a marketing gimmick? The uniqueness of buying a multi-hundred dollar item out of a vending machine, or is there some method to the madness? As Adam pointed out in a recent episode of TDL Live there could be some sound loss prevention (theft) reasons for putting the devices in the vending machine. Given the other pricey items available though, I don't know. It would be one thing in a drug store, or 7-Eleven, where the iPods might be the priciest items, I'm not so sure about Macy's. Then again, the item s probably a fairly expensive item in terms of its size vs. value. Adam also pointed out the vending machine concept allows them to place the items in traditionally high theft portions of the store without concern. Either way, head down to the local Macy's and check it out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

TDL Live This week: (5/26) Apple News Roundup

If you missed it live, here's our weekly video show rounding up the latest Apple news and rumors...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Apple's "Mighty Mouse" in Violation of Trademark? Man & Machine, Inc. v. Apple and CBS Corp.

            Whether you know the name from the adorably small yet “Mighty Mouse” who took over kid’s television screens every weekend morning in the forties or you recognize the name from the powerful mouse that graces so many Apple user’s desks, the name “Mighty Mouse” has been fighting a battle all it’s own this past week.  Man & Machine Inc., which is a Maryland based company who manufactures water-resistant and hygienic keyboards and mice for medical and industrial environments, sued both Apple and CBS CORP. for trademark infringement.  M&M claims that while both their company and CBS hold trademark applications for the name, CBS’s use of the name does not cover such goods as computer products and therefore, if they licensed the name to Apple, it would be in violation of the trademark. 

            It seems to me that even if Man & Machine Inc. used the name for computer products before Apple (which they claim is true), the use of the name is for completely different niches in the computing world.  M&M’s water-resistant, hygienic, and may I also say “wired” mouse design of “Mighty Mouse” is advertised and promoted specifically for medical and industrial use, differing with Apple’s design for a sleek and powerful mouse used mostly for home and office use.  Most consumers who would be in the market for Apple’s Mighty Mouse would not, upon seeing M&M’s “Mighty Mouse,” change their mind about their purchase considering the different applications and niches for the product. 

            Man & Machine, Inc. is seeking money damages and a Court issued order, which will block Apple’s use of the name.  A hearing date has not yet been set. 


Fun For The Weekend!

Ok, so this post is minimally technology related, but what a fine, fine 80's time machine it is. Oh, and of course Happy Memorial Day to our U.S. Readers.. We'll still be here with TDL Live Monday night at 9PM ET / 6PM PT. Enjoy this look into tacky audio accessories of the 80's:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Root Access 16.2 Three Reasons TO Work At The Genius Bar

Don't throw away those resumes for the Genius Bar just yet! Yesterday our resident genius gave you the top three reasons to NOT work at the Apple Genius Bar. Well today Jamie's back with the three reasons you'll want to work at the Genius Bar.

xSlimmer Review By theilife.com

Note: The following review is from Matt Dodd at theilife.com . Look for guest posts from theilife periodically. The first review is Xslimmer from LateNiteSoft.

The Xslimmer Main Interface
When Steve Jobs announced the transition to Intel Processors at WWDC in 2005, the Universal Binary was born. Applications that were Universal Binary were natively compatible with both Intel and PowerPC architectures, and any application that wasn’t Universal Binary could be translated on the fly using Rosetta (like Classic; for Mac OS 9) on the new Intel architecture. So depending on the complexity of the application, by being a Universal Binary, the file size is increased; hence the nickname of ‘Fat Binaries’- a term left over from Apple’s transition from 68K to PowerPC.

Xslimmer is an application that scans through the code of your Universal Binary applications and determines, based on your computers architecture (be it Intel or PowerPC), what is unnecessary, and removing it. The unnecessary code Xslimmer removes would otherwise do nothing but take up space on your computer! By going through all your applications and removing the Universal Binary code, you will start seeing a significant amount of space coming back. For example:

Logic Pro 8: 335MB
Slimmed to: 95MB
Garage Band 3: 179MB
Slimmed to: 60MB

However, Xslimmer does more than just removing the unnecessary binary code- it can also remove unnecessary languages. Applications like Adium can have up to 20 differnt languages bundled within. This takes your applications on a strict diet- and for someone who has upwards of 300 applications, the difference can be very noticeable- especially if space is tight.

Xslimmer makes the process amazingly simple. When you launch it, you simply drag the application (or applications) you would like to slim down and it begins to analyze the amount of space it can save. When you are ready to slim your list of applications, simply press the “Slim!” button in the lower right hand corner; and wait while Xslimmer does the work for you.

Xslimmer can, however disrupt some applications and make them potentially unusable. However, the Xslimmer developers have created and maintain a blacklist of known applications that are effected by slimming. If you end up slimming an application that isn’t on the blacklist, you can simply report the application and reinstall it, which is why you should always back up your computer before slimming your applications (and is generally a good practice)! Or you can use Xslimmers built in backup system that will let you restore an application that you suspect has been damaged by Xslimmer.

i i i i (4/5)
Xslimmer is a very powerful application that will help you save space. Its simplistic design makes it easy to use and a must have for anyone wanting to free up every last megabyte on their hard drive. Xslimmer has recieved 4/5 i’s from theiLife.com; and is worth the $12.95.

Thank you to the Xslimmer team for letting theiLife.com staff try out Xslimmer for free!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The New Napster: What You Need To Know

Not content with their subscription service, (although maybe that's what they really want to you to get.. more in a moment) Napster has announced it's own music download service. And, get this... individual tracks are $.99 with most albums being $9.99 Here's the skinny:

Library of 6 million songs
Great sounding / quick previews
Previews automatically go into the next track, allowing you yo easily preview the entire album.
iPod Compatible, and great sounding DRM-free 256 kbps MP3's.

But it's certainly not all good..

Not Safari compatible
Doesn't interface with iTunes like the Amazon store
The interface feels cluttered.

But probably the most bothersome part to me, and the most Windows-ish feature for those of us who try to avoid such things, is the signup process.

Here's a look at the first page:

Seems harmless enough: Enter a username and password, and continue to the next page:

Notice anything odd? The only two account preferences are for the two types of subscription services, which are only nominally Mac compatible. (these songs won't play on the iPod, for example.) So now what do you do? The only two options are streaming accounts. but if you back out of this screen, and return to the main interface, you'll discover that you're now a "Light" member.

It feels slimy to only have two streaming options to choose from, essentially cancel out of that screen, only to discover you now have an account anyhow.

The selection and sound quality are great, but like most iTunes competitors, the user experience is sorely lacking. This store is definitely a distant third to iTunes and Amazon, and all the songs in the world can't make up for that.

Root Access 16.1 Three Reasons to NOT Work At The Genius Bar

So you want to work at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store? Not so fast... Our resident former genius gives us his top three reasons to NOT work at the Genius Bar. Don't get too flustered though: Jamie will be back with the top three reasons TO work at the store later this week. Enjoy:

Vancouver Apple Store on the way

For those of you in Canada, get ready for another free t-shirt! Another Apple Store is on the way! "The Mayor" over at Mactropolis.com fills us in:

Ah, all my good friends in Vancouver must be happy happy that they’re getting their first Apple Store. The new store is scheduled to open this Saturday, May 24th. W00t! For you Vancouver-ites, Vancouverians? (nevermind) the store address is 701 West Georgia Street in the Pacific Centre Mall. On the 24th, the store will open at 10AM and close at 7PM. Sundays will be 11AM to 6PM, Mondays and Tuesdays will be 10AM to 7PM, and Wednesday through Friday will be 10AM to 9PM. Congratulations to everyone out in Vancouver. I’m sure it’s going to be a great new store. That is a great location at any rate, have been there many times.

Nike Amp for iPod Review

Awhile back, I had nothing but good things to say about the Nike + Sport Kit. Well, the same can't be said for the Nike Amp wristband. Video review below:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Run! It's another box to attach to the TV!

Today Netflix announced along with Roku a new streaming video box. The new product is $100 and allows Netflix subscribers with a $9/mo plan or higher, to watch streaming films instantaneously on their TV.

Instant start.
Cheaper than Apple TV
More titles

Not HD (not yet, at least)
Requires Netflix subscription
Collection might be more quantity than quality

I say enough already. We may soon long for the days of one standard format: the DVD. While competition is generally a good thing, the streaming video / digital video marketplace is far too young for the types of battles that are taking place. Apple TV offers a smaller catalog than the new device, but focuses on newer releases. Roku doesn't do HD streaming. None of the movies are cross compatible from these two services, or other video boxes. Look at how the digital music scene exploded after the adoption of mp3 (and the associated piracy.) There are far too many restrictions, and far too few differences between the different set-top boxes to choose a clear winner. No solution is perfect, and unless the studios and tech companies can come up with a agreed-upon rental/purchase format, or at the very least, give all set-top box manufacturers the same rights, with blanket coverage of studio libraries for rental/viewing. Until then, this will continue to be one lucrative market with profit potential than return.

TDL Live This week: (5/19) Apple News Roundup

Here's your weekly look at Apple news and rumors for the week:

From Within the Loop: Corporate Games

What do you do after you bring the most innovative smartphone to market? You take RECESS. Think Double Dare here gang. Each year Apple employees gather together and assemble teams to compete against each other in the Apple Corporate Games. This event takes place in the summer and teams compete for pride.

The competition would last for an afternoon and events range from the classic tug of war, to the more intellectual word scramble, you know . . . where you re-arrange letters to make as many words as you can in the allowable time frame. Then you have the water balloon launch and catch, trying to catch as many balloons in the allotted time as possible. I think the most intense event was pictionary. I don't think any explanation of the game is really necessary, but it was an extremely intense event. If you were held up on a particular word your chances of winning were slim to none. It made me wonder if teams were scheduling conference rooms for practice during the day.

This is just another example of how Apple is different and really embraces the Silicon Valley environment. The old adage, happy people do great work is so very true.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Apple Defends "Made for iPod" Label in Apple v. Atico International

            Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!  This being my first official blog as the new “lawsuit of the week” correspondent, I’d like to first introduce myself.  My name is Becca and I am currently a law student with the ambition to become a lawyer. Each week I will be mixing my passion for Apple and the law by bringing you the most up-to-date lawsuits involving Apple. 

            This week’s lawsuit is regarding the iPod and an outside company who makes products, which are compatible with the iPod.  Unlike the recent “lawsuits of the week,” Apple appears as the Plaintiff, suing Atico International, in what seems to be an effort to test their “Made for iPod” label.  Attorneys for Apple filed a ten-page complaint against Atico, a company who manufactures several products compatible with the iPod including a dock connector, remote controls, portable speakers and three dock adapters which are made to fit different sized iPods for one standard dock model.  Apple claims in their suit that these products infringe upon key patents that Apple obtained between 2007 and 2008.  Furthermore, Apple claims that Atico has failed to license their use of Apple’s docking design for their speaker units therefore denying Apple of royalties they claim they are owed due to their “Made for iPod” campaign.  Atico’s products also display similar logos to Apple’s indicating their products compatibility with iPods.  Apple’s lawyers claim this is in exploitation of their name and “violating the federal Lanham Act (found in Title 15 of the U.S. Code and includes the federal statutes which govern trademark law in the United States) by falsely suggesting an endorsement by Apple.”

            Apple has asked in their complaint for a permanent injunction (a final order from the Court which would tell Atico to permanently stop selling these products if they are without a license from Apple) in addition to Atico paying damages to Apple for the use of their design without being a part of the “Made for iPod” program.

            This suit makes a mark in Apple’s history book by being the first known case of Apple defending their “Made for iPod” licensing program, which began in January of 2005.

            It seems to me that Apple is looking to make an example of Atico in order to promote other companies to join their “Made for iPod” campaign.  Overall, this program really seems to be an easy way to make money for Apple, instead of a simple way for consumers to tell which outside company’s products may be compatible with their iPods.

The article related to this blog entry was found on :


Friday, May 16, 2008

To all Apple Employees, Thank You

Long before I got into the Apple punditry business (gosh, it seems like it was just last November...) I was an Apple employee, just like many people who are now working here at The Digital Lifestyle. Today a large part of our time is dissecting Apple's products, decisions, and culture; turning a critical eye on the company.

I wanted to take a moment though, to thank the thousands of people who work, and have worked for Apple. It's easy for us to take a look at what's wrong with a product or policy, but we never want to lose sight of the amazing job you do. A product like the iPhone comes along, and as is human nature, we immediately look for what's wrong or missing. It's important to remember just how game-changing and innovative the products can be. Look at cell phones for example. How many cell phones were touting touchscreens last June? Today everyone wants to build their version of the iPhone. Just as you did with the iPod, (another product that was initially panned by many, myself included) you showed us the future. You gave us a device beyond anything else. You took functions many devices already had, and made them more stylish, intuitive, and appealing than ever before. It's a heritage that goes all the way back to that first Apple I.

So at the risk of sounding like of one of those old beer commercials, here's to you Apple employees! I know it's not just the engineers. It's not just the designers. It's everyone who works in any capacity that makes it all possible, and makes our relatively easy job as technology critics possible as well.

Keep up the great work!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Quick tour of The Computer History Museum

Adam, Ryan and Macgirl had a chance to tour one of the coolest tech/nerd locations in the world: The Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley. Here's a quick look at the wonders inside:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Five (Apple) Ways To Spend Your Tax Rebate

It's rebate season, and soon (if you haven't already) if you're a U.S. citizen, you'll be getting your $600 tax rebate/stimulus check. I'll decline commenting on the political side of this, and get right to something we can all agree on: here's a chance to blow $600 on items you might not normally buy. And so we present five different types of fun/practical packages you can buy with the money:

For the play it safe/ fiscally conservative types:
While not everyone's cup of tea, what better way for you to spend the money than on Applecare for your Mac ($149-349 depending on the model), AppleCare for the iPod ($59) and finally, a big heap of AppleCare for the iPhone. ($59) No, it's not exciting, and you might have three of the emptiest boxes available for purchase, but provided you bought all those toys in the last year, you'll be doubling (or, in the case of the computer, tripling) your warranty coverage. Never mind the fact that $600 could simply replace a broken iPod or iPhone instead. Total: $277 - $667.

For the mobile high roller:
Obviously there's the iPhone, but don't buy today: If the rumored AT&T subsidy happens, you could pick up a snazzy phone for $199. Then, grab the matching bluetooth headset ($129). Keep it safe in any of the dandy cases ($25) and double the warranty with AppleCare, ($59) Total: $412, then apply the rest to unlimited texting on your monthly plan.

Kitchen computer overkill:
Isn't time you could access the internet in the kitchen? Computerized recipes have been the promise of the future for about as long as the U.S. has been talking about going metric. Now you can live the dream! Refurb macmini: $499. keyboard: $49 mouse: $49. Third-party monitor: $150. Total: $747 Grandma's fudge recipe at the touch of a button: priceless.

Budding video star:
Final Cut Express: $199 One Year lynda.com training (review coming soon!) $250. Canon ZR830 miniDV camcorder: $199 Total: $648.

For the hesitant switcher:
Can't leave windows behind? Ok.. Windows Vista Premium $239. Parallels Desktop for Mac $70. Mac OS X reference manual $49. Mouse with scroll wheel/3 buttons $69. One to One training at an Apple Store: $99. Total: $527.

Have your own suggestions, funny or serious? Let us know in the comments,

iPhone Gaming: How Serious is Apple?

June 9th 2008 is going to be a very important date for Apple. Not only is this the start of WWDC and the unveiling of third party iPhone and iPod Touch applications, but also the day Apple (hopefully) enters the gaming industry.

I'm expecting to see at least a few games that week. EA will probably show Spore, and SEGA should have Monkey Ball, but will Apple be showing anything? Being the platform holder, shouldn't Apple now be developing some kick ass games in house? Shouldn't they be using part of their billion dollar war chest to acquire a studio for internal game development? This is exactly what Microsoft did by acquiring Bungie and Rare during the beginning days of the Xbox. Sony and Nintendo have also done the same.

First party games have always determined the success of any gaming platform. Ten million Wii Sports owners are proof of that. And while the iPhone isn't a gaming device first and foremost, if they want to be taken seriously in that market Apple is going to have to get off its butt and start making some games. At the very least it would give the Apple Works team something to do :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

tDL Live from 5/12/08

Last night, Ryan and Adam gave us their weekly look
at all the new Apple news and rumors. Here's the show in case you missed it!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Counterpoint: .mac isn't all bad

Adam's post on .mac has certainly stirred up the Apple community. While I think he made several valid points about questionable aspects of .mac, I think it's only fair to offer a different look. First, as a point of disclosure, I should admit I'm not the biggest .mac either. I've had my .mac email address since the days .mac was a free service, and I still feel that's the best strategy for Apple. That said, it's not a complete waste either.

Adam is correct in saying that you can re-create most/all the included .mac features with free programs and services. However, we're Mac users: we're used to, and probably in some cases, prefer to pay more for someone taking the hard worked out of things for us. The value in Mac OS X, for example, comes largely from the simplicity it offers compared to Windows. .Mac, bundles several services that people may not want to take the time to configure on their own. Some people (many, perhaps?) don't want to spend the time setting up a gmail account, then hop to godaddy for a hosting plan, and off to another site for remote desktop management. I believe there's an argument to be made for the .mac integration of iWeb, iPhoto, etc. Yes, most of these functions can be duplicated with other solutions, often for free. Flickr, for example to share your photos rather than .mac/iPhoto.

It's not so much a matter of whether .mac is worth it, as much as is it worth it to you. Apple could do a lot to make .mac more attractive to a larger portion of the Apple community. But as it is, it certainly has value to some. As Google, for one, continues to integrate different services together online for free, Apple will be forced (hopefully!) to keep pace, or innovate with .mac. That's perhaps the major flaw of .mac: it's a service that once was innovative, and offered features that couldn't even really be benchmarked against other services. Since then, the rest of the web has caught up, and passed .mac, at least in the "bang for the buck" category. .mac isn't worthless, it's just not a wise choice for as wise of a market as it could be.

Why buy .Mac these days?

I’ve been a user of .Mac for several years now. I originally was onboard because Apple gives it to it’s employees free. Now that I’m no longer employed by Apple I need to justify spending $99/year or $0.27/day on this service. Surely there must be something this product has to offer that I can’t get elsewhere for less money. I mean $0.27 a day isn’t all that much.

.Mac gives you an email account ending in @mac.com. There is a web portal for viewing your email on the road, and native integration with Leopard Mail app. That search giant google gives you web access to email and now offers IMAP and step by step instructions to integrate it with the Mail app or Thunderbird if you’re a Mozilla fan. Gmail is FREE.

iWeb easily allows you to create basic web sites that look great. Upload your photos easily to share with others, or start a basic blog if you have something to talk about. You can even now use your own custom domain name with this service (modification to your CNAME entries necessary).

As far as web hosting is concerned, $99/year isn’t a great deal. Godaddy hosting is anywhere from $4-$12 a month or $48-$144 a year. Now, the simple WISIWIG (what you see is what you get) editor that godaddy offers isn’t as fancy, but it does do the trick for a simple page.

If you don’t care about a custom domain name you can get a free website with google pages. This is a WISIWIG platform and it hosts your page for free. Picasa or Flicker will allow you to share your photos and this is also free. Blogger is free (also a google property) for your blogging needs.

Online Storage:
Ah iDisk, this must be the saving grace of the .Mac service. With 10GB of shared storage across all of your apps (mail, iweb, and iDisk) you can sure store a good amount of stuff, plus you can access it from anywhere . . . cool. If you do the math this is $9.90 per gig of storage!!! YIKES!!

How does that match up in the industry? Not well as it turns out. There are many offerings out there with a range of storage capacity as well as features (sharing, Web 2.0, etc.) and pricing. If we’re completely interested in pricing then I suggest Xdrive by AOL. I think this is the first time I’ve ever endorsed an AOL product, but with only a screen name you can have 5GB of online storage for free. That’s a pretty generous amount of storage and it costs nothing. Xdrive is a web based application so you can access your files anywhere you have internet access AND you have the ability to share files on your Xdrvie with others that you grant permission to. Xdrive has a desktop, running on the Adobe Air platform, that you can install making transferring files as easy as drag and drop. Did I mention this is FREE as well.

Back to my Mac (remote desktop):
This might be a difficult one to recreate with a budget of $99 /year. WRONG! Completely free solution called LogMeIn. Works great. Only the machine you want to take control of needs the software installed. Taking control of the machine remotely is done through your favorite web browser. This service is Mac and PC compatible so you can take control of your Mac from a PC or the other way around. The service was a bit choppy over cable broadband, but it’s FREE and it works.

Sync & Backup:
These two features almost don’t deserve any attention. Backup has been replaced by Time Machine or just an external HD. Sync is not worth any part of the $99 price tag and thus deserves none of our attention or yours.

There you have it. You can replicate .Mac for FREE. I see no compelling reason to shell out $99 a year for this service.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Does your iPhone think tonight should always be a ?

I realize the title of this post might be a bit confusing but so is the problem so stick with me. I was one of those early iPhone adopters so I've had the device about as long as anyone. I'm a moderate user so I don't claim to have the most time spent tapping away at the multi-touch keyboard but I've now been through 2 iPhones (one was replaced at my local Apple Store) and they both seem to think that when I type the word tonight it should be immediately followed by a "?"

No, I don't understand it either. In fact, yesterday was the first time since owning the device that I've actually wanted a "?" after the word "tonight". It certainly was convenient that my iPhone suggested that so all I needed to do was press the spacebar and PRESTO a "?" followed "tonight".

There has been some speculation that the Multi-Touch technology is adaptive and learns what you are likely to be saying or your own personal usage. I've not found this to be the case when it comes to "tonight". I haven't noticed this same pattern with any other word, but if you have, please leave a note, it'll be interesting to see what other words to be on the lookout for.

Zune juggernaut breaks into more DRM, NBC hot to trot

How do you make the Zune better? Well, naturally you add the ability for it to police your content for anything pirated. What's so wrong with that? You shouldn't be pirating music or videos, has the RIAA not taught you anything!?!

The story goes that NBC abandoned ship because of Apples tight leash on pricing and their unwillingness to police pirated material. Apparently Microsoft is okay with NBC selling their content for the same price as Apple would have just as long as Microsoft absorbs the difference in cost between that price and the price NBC wants to sell it for. Lets look at that for a moment. If Apple was going to sell an episode of Heroes for $1.99, and NBC wanted to sell that same episode for $6.99 then Microsoft is basically paying NBC $5.00 for each download. I really can't imagine why Apple wouldn't want to do that . . . seems like a GREAT business deal.

As if that decision wasn't confusing enough, Microsoft is working on what I can only assume will be an update to it's desktop software, to detect bootleg media and disallow it from being transfered to the device.

My question: How does it know? This is the age old question of the thermos. The thermos keeps hot stuff hot and cold stuff cold . . . but how does it know? When I go out and purchase a DVD and use good old handbrake to make a legitimate backup how is the software going to recognize this as being legitimate and allow me to put it on my Zune (DISCLAIMER: I don't have a Zune, don't want a Zune, and this whole thing seems like a giant disaster)?

As you can see the move to police your library raises all kinds of concerns. I don't see how this approach really sells more of anything for Microsoft. It seems like they're going to lose money on each download AND push the Zune in a less desirable direction (as if poop brown wasn't enough). I think I'll just keep my iPod.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Free NBC shows on the iPhone.. What is NBC Thinking?

In a somewhat under-reported development (we're doing our part) Gizmodo announced that full episodes of "30 Rock" and "The Office" are now available for streaming on the iPhone (and iPod touch) for free. Without ads. If you want to give it a try, just head to nbc.com on the iPhone, and you'll be re-directed to the iPhone site, then click on the videos tab.

Bear in mind this is the same NBC that pulled its catalog from the iTunes Music Store, and also just signed an agreement to bring the content to the Zune for a price. The video, by the way, looks bad. As in worse than Youtube bad, and there seem to be severe issues with audio sync. You get what you pay for, I suppose. The question is, why would you pull your catalog of content that people were happy to give you money for, then offer it up in free, bad resolution? You're not hurting Apple, as people now have a new (albeit ridiculously small) reason to buy an iPhone, and not pay for your content.

The melding of old-school media companies and new technology continues to be a topsy-turvy affair...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Readers: What's the Weak Spot for Apple Now?

With the iPhone rumors and news on overdrive, and Mac sales and record highs, Where's the weak spot for Apple? We want your thoughts in the comments. Is it AppleTV adoption? QuickTime? .mac? What do you think is the thing most in need of some attention from Apple asap to bring it up to par?

Apple TV: YouTube not ready for the big screen

I have to admit, this past weekend was my first hands on experience with Apple TV outside of it's debut at Macworld. I was impressed with it's photo 'screen saver' mode when idle, it really set my brother's living room off nicely.

As I was exploring the Apple TV I went to it's native integration with YouTube to see how it handled streaming content from WiFi. I decided it was appropriate to test the Apple product with a favorite video of mine: Mac Vs. PC Rap, from Pantless Knights Productions. I was impressed with the streaming, but not so much with the video quality.

My brother has about a 40" TV. It isn't the largest you can get, but by no means is it small. YouTube looks decent on the computer, but it does not make the transition to the big screen very well. All I can say is pixelated. It serves its purpose, but don't expect a crystal clear viewing experience.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TDL Live: This week's Apple news and rumors (5/5/08)

In case you missed it, things got a little wacky during the Cinco De Mayo Live show. Enjoy our look at all the Apple news and rumors this week!

Is/Was Microsoft Ever Serious With The Zune?

Via engadget comes word of a shocking development in the mp3 player world. Microsoft is bringing the Zune to Canada. More than a year after its release in America, the Zune is headed north.

This news came as I surprise to me, as I had assumed Microsoft's "iPod killer" was already available everywhere. After all, if you had more cash in the bank than any other computer company, (Apple's gaining fast though) an installed userbase of your operating system in the hundreds of millions, and you wanted to obliterate Apple, wouldn't you at least make your product widely available? You would, unless you're really not that serious.

It seems like the Zune has done more harm to marketshare of iPod competitors, than the iPod itself. Where Microsoft's "Plays for Sure" plan was aimed at creating an army of tech companies to take on Apple, it seems now Microsoft is content to cannibalize those partners' sales. This is the Zune we're talking about. It would be one thing if it were a revolutionary device, like the iPhone. Something like that can take time, and can require a slow roll-out to get it right. But to have the most engineers, the most money, and the most PC marketshare, and to still take 18 months to get your product to Canada? Clearly someone's not really trying.

Mind Your Business On a Mac: CRM Continued

Welcome back to MYBOAM, where I cover business on a Mac. We're going to continue outlining some CRM options for your business on a Mac. If you missed the first post, check it out, but be sure to stop back to get the continuation.

Zoho CRM

What I like: For companies of 3 users or less this solution is complete FREE. That’s right kids, Zoho CRM is completely free for up to 3 users. This solution is also web based so you can access your Zoho CRM from any computer connected to the web. Zoho is fully featured from contact and lead management to email marketing campaigns, you can do it all with Zoho CRM. Zoho also provides reporting to help you gauge how your business is performing.

What could be better: Free doesn’t mean unlimited. Zoho caps your free usage at 100MB of data. I’m unsure how far 100MB of database get you, but should you need more Zoho is happy to oblige for a $5/month fee. Internet dependancy makes getting to your database difficult if your internet goes down.

Price: FREE for up to 3 users, $12/month for unlimited users.


What I like: Another web based solution only requiring an internet connection. What’s even better is that Salesforce.com offers a offline version of your database should your internet connection go down. Salesforce.com also offers a 30 day free trial to see what you’re getting. Salesforce.com fully integrates with Google Apps to power your email and collaborate on documents and is fully customizable for your business. I also like the built in analytics to gauge how you’re doing. Reporting is also fully customizable.

What could be better: Pricing. The smallest package is for 5 users and is fairly costly (See below).

Price: Group edition $1200/yr for 5 users.

The bottom line on CRM: There are many different options with varying integration with your current apps and your current budget. You should think about scalability when selecting your CRM software so think about where you'll be in 5 years as the cost of switching might be steep. I like Zoho for it's robustness and pricing.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Video reviews of all iPod games now available

If you've been reading the blog for awhile, you know from time to time we'll post a new review of an iPod game. Well, at long last, and after many hours of fun (but also frustrating) gameplay, we have reviewed every single currently available game for the iPod. So, no need to buy a game to find out it's a dud, or wade through the hundreds of comments on the iTunes store. No, we've got everything you need, in reviews of 60 seconds or less.

Just head to theGames Page to check out the reviews. Or, if you just have a passing interest in the games, Here's our list, grouping the games into handy categories, with links to the reviews:

Zuma - Addictive fun, controls that work great... The only game that truly feels like it was made for the iPod. Zuma shows just what can be done on a mobile gaming platform.

Peggle - Falls just short of the "great" rating, simply because it's a little too easy to win. Otherwise it shares a lot of the same gameplay qualities.

Brain Challenge - It may or may not make you smarter, but you'll enjoy your commute a little better playing it.

Scrabble - Double word score for this version of scrabble. The board is surprisingly easy to navigate.

Bubble Bash - Kinda like Peggle for those with a shorter attention span. Longer levels would make it better.

Yahtzee - Yahtzee by yourself isn't much fun anywhere, but this is about as good as it'll get. There's a pass 'n play mode to play with a friend, which is much more fun.

Cubis 2 - Take Bejeweled and make it 3-d. Sequences of colored blocks just can't catch a break in this world...

Block Breaker - Imagine Breakout with lasers. And fur coats/bling. Oh, and cheesy dialog between levels.

Phase - Guitar Hero for the road. Fun, but it might be a little abusive on the iPod buttons.

Sudoku - If you can't get enough Sudoku, here you go. But you might find the puzzles a little easier than expected.

Ms. PAC MAN - Get it for the nostalgia, and not the gameplay. The controls are frustratingly unresponsive.

Sims Pool - Imagine playing pool on a table smaller than a postage stamp.

Mahjong - Small tiles, and not much of a challenge.

Mini Golf - The gameplay is fine, but the cutscreens, music, and transitions are dull. Again, a tiny golf ball on a tiny screen,
going into a tiny cup.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Aegir's Fire - Ripoff of an old PC game, only made duller.

Naval Battle - You sunk my battleship! Some games just aren't made for one player.

Bejeweled - Controls are less intuitive than they should be on such a well-known game.

Chess - Chess is a lot better when you can easily make out the pieces. When the pieces are behind each other, it becomes a chore in this version.

PAC MAN - See Ms. PAC MAN above...

Texas Hold 'Em - Fun, but the computer opponents just don't seem that good. Raise the pot, and watch 'em fold.

Sonic The Hedgehog - Great game, brought down by tough combo moves with the control scheme.


Sims Bowling - Maybe the Wii has spoiled us, but this feels like you're far too removed from actually bowling.

Bomberman - We just weren't feelin' the premise, graphics, and gameplay on this one.

Tetris - How do you screw up Tetris: Making the controls as counter-intuitive as possible is a great start.

Pole Position Remix - Remixed to awful. Drive, drive, drive, all alone, group of cars, pass them, drive, drive, drive.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: Lost - Lost is the worst game made for the iPod. Fortunately, it's no longer available, so we won't subject you to a video review. Let's just say unless walking in a line, and reading a lot of pointless dialog is your thing, this game is a bust. Maybe it's all a DHARMA experiment...

Again, you can find all of our iPod game reviews on the Games page.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mind Your Business On a Mac: CRM

Episode 1: Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

In this first installment of Mind Your Business On a Mac (MYBOAM) we take a look at CRM solutions. Great businesses are obsessed with their customers and CRM software is your way of keeping everything straight. CRM has evolved to become more than just a glorified address book and calendaring program. CRM now can manage your marketing campaigns, keep track of finances and produce detailed and customizable reporting. I’m going to highlight some of the best CRM solutions for the Mac. I won’t insult your intelligence and spit back what’s on the fact sheets. I’d rather tell you what I like about the offering and what could be better.

Marketcircle Daylite 3
What I like: The great part of Daylite 3 is the level of integration with native OS X applications such as Mail, Address Book, iCal, and iSync. This means that you don’t need to spend valuable time recreating information that may already exist on your machine. I also like the 30 day full featured FREE Trial available on the Marketcircle website.

What could be better: This solution is installed on your Mac which means you need to have your mac with you to access the information. I’d like to see a web portal to your information so no matter where you are, you can access your information from any location.

Price: $149

File Maker Pro
What I like: You might not think of File Maker as CRM software. It doesn’t have an address book, calendar, and it doesn’t integrate with Mail or any other Apple native applications. What you do get is a fully customized database platform. That means you can create a CRM solution based on your companies needs. File Maker also scales with your business and offers a server version so many users can access the same database.

What could be better: The database requires a level of customization that may require hiring a File Maker consultant to develop your database. This can be costly. File Maker doesn’t offer a web portal or sync features so your not going to be able to take your database with you or have access to it from a different computer.

Price: $299-$499 OR $999-$2499 (for server version)

What I like: Based on the powerful File Maker platform, Bento offers up a slimmed down version that syncs with native OS X applications. Bento comes with ready to use templates right out of the box so setup time is minimal. Should you not like the layout, customization is as easy as drag and drop.

What could be better: Bento is not a sharing platform so if you have several employees or partners don’t plan on sharing the database on your network. While Bento does sync with iPhone and other PDAs (does anyone use a PDA anymore??), it does not have a web portal to the database.

Price: $49.95 (1 license) OR $99.95 (5 license)

This concludes the first segment on CRM solutions for your business. Check back for my continued review including some web based options. If you have questions about the above offerings feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Our shortest product review ever...

It's a Friday, and here at The Digital Lifestyle, we can feel the weekend creeping in. And so, we humbly present our shortest video product review ever: the Grantwood Technology Nike Plus sensor Shoe Pouch. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nice Guys Finish Last: Safari Use Triples On The PC

In a further confirmation that nice guys finish last, do you remember the concerns some raised about the PC iTunes updater that presented Safari as a software update? Some people cried foul, others said it was only right to fight fire with fire. Well, it turns out the software update escapade got results. As reported by AppleInsider, Safari's PC marketshare tripled. Now granted we're talking about moving from .07% to .21% of the market, but still, it's a significant increase.

However, if Apple's serious about making Safari a competitive browser, there's something they could do that would change the browser landscape overnight. Are you sitting down? Advertise for Safari. Yes, that's right, a full media push for Safari. Not since the heyday of Netscape has someone turned on the TV and saw and ad for a browser, or even free software, for that matter. With roughly $20 Billion in cash, devoting just 1/500th of that money to a Safari campaign could yield incredible results. It doesn't matter if the browser is the greatest in the world (Firefox is dang good) if people aren't first in the mindset to change browsers. When do you think the average PC user last thought about trying a different browser? Anyone who's even considered it has moved to Firefox. iPod and iPhone, and iTunes marketing has reached a saturation point. If a PC user doesn't know about an iPod by now, they never will. Safari, on the other hand, is something new. And the price is right. So rather than spend precious engineer hours pushing Safari through an iTunes update, why not spend the effort and resources on results that will make .21% pale in comparison.

True, unlike iPod marketing, there's not an immediate financial gain from a Safari ad campaign, but imagine a world in which Firefox and Safari comprise more than 50% of the browser market. Imagine what Apple could do in promoting QuickTime (which is somewhat dead in the water outside of iTunes lately) as the default media player on the web (again.) All those frustrating sites that use Windows Media 10 DRM, and therefore don't play nice with the Mac could re-consider if Apple could give them a more dominant solution.

If marketshare continues to rise .14% per month, it will take a LONG time to reach Internet Explorer numbers. Go for it, Apple. Spend the money, or don't even bother with Safari for Windows.

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