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Sunday, August 31, 2008

EDU Blaster for iPhone Review

Combining elements of math class and asteroids, EDU Blaster sets out to help kids learn math, or even serve as an adult refresher. The amount of math covered though, is somewhat limiting.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

DizzyBeeFree iPhone Game Review

To paraphrase the Goo Goo Dolls, it's time to Dizzy Up The Bees. DizzyBee uses some unique interface novelties, and fun sound effects to create a unique gaming experience:

Friday, August 29, 2008

The One Application I Can't Live Without

I'm not sure why Apple never built a multiple item clipboard for Mac OSX, but thank God PTH Consulting did. I've been using PTH Pasteboard for years now, and I could not be as productive without it. A great little app that sits in your menu bar and simply stores whatever item or line of text you have last copied. It's one of the first applications I install when setting myself up a new Mac. There may be other applications out there like this, but this one is so simple and it just works. Check it out.

Hanoi iPhone Game Review

Hanoi, a classic stacking strategy game comes to the iTunes App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Comet Cowboy for iPhone Review

Yessiree Bob, it's your chance to lasso Comets (we say they're asteroids) just like they used to in the Cyber West.Here's a look at Comet Cowboy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How To Enter a MobileMe or .Mac Activation Code

Here's a little tip for you MobileMe users out there trying to figure out where to enter an activation code (particularly if you have a .Mac activation code OR if you've discarded the packaging . . . We still don't understand why a whole box is necessary just for a little code...).

I had an old .Mac activation code for my MobileMe renewal. I went to my account at me.com only to see that I can check the box to have my subscription renewed automatically for $99 on my renewal date BUT I didn't see any place to enter an activation code. Seeing that I already spent my $99 I became worried that my next year would end up costing me $198.

After searching online I was able to find the URL to enter your activation code: www.me.com/activate

I hope this direction saves you some time and headache. From what I understand this URL is located inside of the new MobileMe packaging. If you have a .Mac retail box, chances are good you're tearing your hair out trying to locate this URL.

iRetrophone for the iPhone Video Review

You know how sometimes older folks go on and on about the "good ol days"? And how in reality they had it much harder? It took days to do the laundry... You had to get water from a pump! Well, we're about to let you in on a little secret: sure all of that may have been true, but they also got a little break each time they made a phone call. Rotary dialing could eat up minutes a day for the gabbiest amongst us. Now you can see just how much of your productivity would go out the window if you had to use a rotary dial thanks to iRetrophone for the iPhone:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Apple and MS: Poor Quality Control

This weekend my plans to play a little Xbox 360 were halted by another visit from the Red Ring of Death fairy. It seems as though poorly designed hardware is the norm these days. A day doesn't go by where there isn't a story about class action lawsuits and online petitions over faulty hardware. I am going on my third 360 as well as my second Nintendo Wii. Other TDL staffers have gone through multiple iPhone, iPods and iMacs. Yes we still support and love these products, but that lack of quality control is starting to get ridiculous. During my time as a Mac Genius we could easily replace 100 defective iPods a day, and 1,000 in a weeks time. The fact that the Genius Bars are routinely swamped points to a lack of Q and A. Both Microsoft and Apple outsource the productions of their hardware to companies such as Foxconn. Perhaps it's time Apple and MS kicked Foxconn in the butt or found another manufacturer.

Got the 3G Blues? Don't blame Apple

Reports are starting to surface after the 2.0.2 software update to indicate the sluggish and spotty reception is not Apple's fault. But we must point a finger at someone, why not AT&T? Sounds good . . . yes, lets go with that. My iPhone hasn't been fixed by the software update, and Apple surely did everything to address the issue so the carrier must be at fault.

All joking aside, chances are good that the blame falls on the carrier as it's their network that enables the connection. Surely we don't blame Apple when we get a slow internet connection on our Macs. How is this then any different?

I've read some other reports that claim the 3G network is over taxed with all the new iPhones pining for bandwidth. If this were the case wouldn't all 3G users be experiencing this problem across all devices? Allow me to answer myself . . . no! iPhone users experience the network problems because it's the only handset with fully integrated internet features . . . remember, Steve said it's the internet in your pocket. Blackberry users get the mobile internet (basically the internet without any pictures or other media - it sucks) along with Palm users (cricket, cricket). That being said, Apple would benefit by putting the screws to AT&T to encourage them to get more towers in more places so I can get 'more service in more places - the new AT&T'. Where's James Earl Jones when you need him?

I say we blame AT&T, who's with me??

Scribble for iPhone and iPod Touch Video Review

Let's say there's a six year-old you need to entertain for a few minutes, and you trust this child with a $200-$500 phone.. Then Scribble is for you:

Monday, August 25, 2008

iPhone worse after 2.0.2

I don't know about you, but after doing the 2.0.2 update, my first generation iPhone has been receiving less signal and the OS has been slower. I now find myself unable to even make a call more often than the 1.o software or even the 2.0.1 software. Up until now software updates have been uneventful, as they should be. I think a good sign of a software update is not knowing that you did it, or in the case of major bug fixes, greater performance.

When I connected my phone after TDL Live two weeks ago (when the new software became available) iTunes didn't even recognize new software was available until I clicked to have it check. Ever since the update, tapping on the keyboard has resulted in delayed text input, Apple native applications "unexpectedly quit", and the phone more often downgrades connectivity to the slower GPRS network (indicated by the circle inside a square icon). Prior to the upgrade, my phone connected to the GPRS network only once.

This brings us back to a topic from TDL Live . . . Is Apple just too thinned out? We saw the hack job MobileMe release which by my accounts still isn't resolved. Apple has been expected to debut game changing products, and the street is continuing this expectation each quarter. If Apple hadn't released the 3G iPhone when they did, the stock would have taken a substantial tumble. I hope a corrective update is released to fix the 2.0.2 fix or I'll be reverting back to 2.0.1.

Interview with Marcelo Lewin, Pixel Heads Network

For our TDL Profiles series, I recently did a short iChat video interview with Marcelo Lewin, the creator of Pixel Heads Network, producer of video and audio podcasts aimed at New Media creators.

TDL: In our video interview, you mentioned you started editiing with Windows Movie Maker. Tell us about the process of "converting" to Mac.

Marcelo Lewin: I never understood why people were passionate about the Mac, of course, until I made the switch and "saw the light". Seriously, the experience is so much more conducive to being creative. I just loved the switch and I never looked back. In fact, my main concern was with finding all the apps on my Windows machine on the Mac. I thought I would have to "settle". Nope. They are all there (e.g. MS office, development tools, etc.).

TDL: Where do you see the growth in new media?
ML: Podcasts have been around for a few years.. any buzz on the next big thing?
The next big thing is standardization of new media analytics. To grow, we must have standards. I think in the next couple of years you will see the market starting to consolidate, standards implemented and the industry will then really take off (revenue wise).

TDL: Do you think most content creators will ever make money?
ML: Yes! Of course. It's a new market and many people are doing this for free now, but as the audience grows, as standards are in place and as more companies want to advertise in shows, you will see creators starting to make money.

TDL: Who are some of the podcasters/new media people you look up to, or who you think have a good model?
ML: I really think all of us, are people we can look to and learn from. It's a new business and it's hard to get an industry going and all of us have a say in how it will turn out. Of course, I like some of them out there more then others. I love to listen to Leo Laporte, Chris Marquard from Tips From The Top Floor, Alex Lindsay from Mac Break, etc....but there are lots of people out there doing great things!

TDL: Take us briefly through your video podcast workflow... and audio...

Meet The Experts (audio podcast):
I use Skype for the interview and record to Audio Hijack Pro (left channel host, right channel guest). From there I put the file through The Levelator. After that, I edit that file in SoundTrack Pro. Once I cleaned up all the ums, uhs and just made the interview tighter, I then create a multi-track project and create the enhanced podast. I then export as an enhanced podcast and also as an MP3 using Telestream's Episode. I publish that with an XML file using PodcastMaker and upload and publish to my site using Wordpress.

Digital Media Quick Tips.
I start with iShowU as my screen capture software. I then edit in Final Cut Pro, color correct. I clean up sound in SoundtrackPro, and then output as a QuickTime. I convert that file in Telestream Episode as FLV, AppleTV and iPod Touch formats. I publish that with an XML file using PodcastMaker and upload and publish to my site using Wordpress.

I videotape with Canon XH-A1 and Senheiser Lavs. I then edit in Final Cut Pro, color correct. I clean up sound in SoundtrackPro, and then output as a QuickTime. I convert that file in Telestream Episode as FLV, AppleTV and iPod Touch formats. I publish that with an XML file using PodcastMaker and upload and publish to my site using Wordpress.

TDL: What do you think has been the most important hardware/software in democratizing media creation?
ML: The cell phone cameras from a hardware perspective and iMovie or Adobe Premiere Elements from a vide editing perspective.

TDL: You cover a lot of Expos for your show Expozed.. any trends, new media or otherwise, you're seeing from those shows?
ML: Podcasting and web videos are accepted as the new way to distribute and influence customers. Also, in general, you will see more people in their homes doing video editing, shooting green screen, and after attending Siggraph this year, I'd say, in 2 to 3 years, you will screen Motion Capture technology available for under $2000.

TDL: What does the phrase "New Media" mean to you?
ML: Democratization of communication. Even playing field. We all now have the same possibilities to express ourselves. It's just up to you to take advantage of it.

TDL: What led to your switch from Windows to Mac?
ML: Final Cut Pro.

TDL: Is there an application not available for Mac that you wish was available?
ML: Quicken. It's available on the Mac, but it sucks. Intuit promises that the next version will be a very nice Mac version. We'll see.

Restuarant Nutrition guide for iPhone and iPod Touch

Ok, so maybe Monday morning, after a gluttonous weekend isn't the best time to add this particular app review to the blog, but we've got to do it. Find out just how many calories you consumed on those fast food runs this weekend with Restaurant Nutrition:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Crazy Lighter for iPhone and iPod Touch Video Review

Ahh yes... Your favorite rock band is slowin' i down... As you look at the sea of 40,000 people at the sold out, overpriced show (thanks Ticketmaster) you see the lighters starting to come out. But, what are you to do; you didn't bring a lighter. You don't even smoke! But you don't want to stand there in the dark. Well thankfully, Crazy Lighter has got you covered:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ruby Repeat for the iPhone and iPod Touch Video Review

Quick tip: You should have better plans this weekend than playing Ruby Repeat. Still not sure? Here's a video review to convince you:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Apple at a China Crossroad

No, we're not stirring the pot again on our proposed Jobs' trip to China. We're referring to the impending collision between business decisions and political appeasements. Apple will have some serious decisions to make over the next few months regarding this lucrative market. Just this week reports surfaced that iTunes in China has been blocked due to Pro-Tibetan content, specifically, the "Songs for Tibet" album, added this week.

Apple, like many global companies faces serious questions in China. How should this situation be resolved? Give in to pressure from China and remove the album, at the risk of a backlash from around the world, or stand firm and risk losing what could easily be one of their most lucrative iPhone markets? And yes, there is the tiny detail that many Apple products are manufactured in China, as well.

What will Apple do? Well, there is one small incident that might give us a hint. Last year, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez decided to unilaterally change the time zone of Venezuela by half an hour. As you probably have noticed, most time zones are segmented by hours. The move placed Venezuela in its own time zone. As of July, Apple hadn't added the half hour offset for Venezuela in its time settings, causing problems like these. Microsoft on the other hand, had an update out within a few weeks acknowledging the time zone change. Was this lack of change an intentional political statement on Apple's part? If so, would they be as willing to take that sort of stand with China?

Dealing with China will be a far more high-profile, and high stakes process. Apple was wise to bring Andrea Jung from Avon onto the board early this year. At the time, the move was seen as a smart way to learn to market more effectively to women in China. In reality though, Jung could prove even more important as Apple navigates the Chinese political landscape.

While Apple has been a global brand for decades, China may be the first significant time in which a decision they make - to pull the Pro-Tibet album or not - will displease at least one major group of potential customers. Our bet: the album will disappear from the Chinese iTunes store, iTunes access in China will be restored, and except for a few protests (perhaps a letter from Richard Gere?) we'll all forget this happened. On the other hand, if it's a slow news cycle, or the issue is painted against the bigger backdrop of doing business with China, then this might not go away as quickly as Apple would like.

So put on your CEO hat. What would you do if you ran Apple?

Writing Pad for iPhone and iPod Touch Video Review

Is there a better way to input text to the iPhone beyond Apple's default keyboard? Well, Writing Pad gives a glimpse at one alternate method. Not stylus input, and not quite keyboard input, you'll just have to see it to understand it. And here you go:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why did Microsoft Pick Seinfeld? Because 1998 was when MSFT was last Relevant

Look out Apple! You're uncontested ribbing of Vista in all those "Mac and PC" ads is about to be challenged. Yes the sleeping Redmond dragon is waiting. And if you thought "The Mojave Experiment" made marketshare dip (it didn't), wait til you see what Jerry Seinfeld will do!

Yes, last relevant in the 90's, like Microsoft itself, Seinfeld is the new pitch man as part of a $300 million ad campaign. Ya know, Microsoft, for that much money you could probably hire away a few app engineeers, and actually fix Vista. But I digress. So look for Jerry Seinfeld (you may recall his character had a Mac in the show) to be hawking for MSFT soon, and their theme: "Windows not Walls." See, Microsoft is apparently about everything being open. Who knew?

More Cowbell for iPhone and iPod Touch

Show of hands, who's gotta have more cowbell!? Well, here ya go:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

TDL Live This week: (8/18-8/25)

It's that time again... Time for our recap of the news and rumors this week.

UEI Pong for iPhone and iPod Touch Video Review

It's strange to be judging applications on whether they're overpriced at $ .99. So it goes with so many App Store applications. Today's 99cent app is UEI Pong. Is networked play enough to make it worth it? Let's see:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Just nine more free months, and MobileMe is a bargain

As we reported last night, Apple has given Mobile Me users another credit, this time for 60 days. This brings the total credited days to 90, or three months.

First, kudos again to Apple for doing the right thing. They know the experience has been less than perfect, and they've been surprisingly pro-active in addressing the situation. Let's hope this signals a new direction for the company in dealing with issues.

It also makes you wonder just how important the revenue stream from MobileMe is to Apple. Apple probably makes more on the iTunes store in a day/week than a year of MobileMe subscriptions. So you've already made it 90 days, why not make it a free service, and be done with it? True, many more people will sign up and further tax the system if it's free, but it becomes (like the original iTools) a unique selling point to the Mac/iPod/iPhone.

It's a drop in the bucket revenue-wise, that could push hardware sales even higher.

Apache Lander for iPhone and iPod Touch Video Review

Apache Lander was the first helicopter-based game for the iPod. But, it isn't always best to be first. The app has room for improvements, as you'll see:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Breaking: MobileMe offers 60-days free

Check your email .mac/MobileMe users. Just minutes ago, (and ironically in the junk folder) we just received an email from Apple indicating MobileMe users will receive 60-days free.

From the email:
We have already made many improvements to MobileMe, but we still have many more to make. To recognize our users' patience, we are giving every MobileMe subscriber as of today a free 60 day extension. This is in addition to the one month extension most subscribers have already received. We are working very hard to make MobileMe a great service we can all be proud of. We know that MobileMe's launch has not been our finest hour, and we truly appreciate your patience as we turn this around

Kudos to Apple for doing the right thing, and recognizing the inconvenience to its customers.

VoiceNotes for iPhone Video Review

One day there wasn't any official way to record audio notes on your iPhone. Then, the next day the App store opens, and now there are no fewer than five ways to take voice memos on the iPhone. Here's a look at one, VoiceNotes:

NOTE: As pointed out in the comments, this video review covers the 1.0 version of the application. Version 1.1 adds the ability to sync voice notes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Currency for the iPhone and iPod Touch Video Review

Is the dollar falling? Now you'll know with Currency on the iPhone or iPod Touch:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Check Please for the iPhone and iPod Touch

It's the weekend, and you might just be headed out with a group tonight for a fun dinner. But, how will you figure out how much each person owes? Well, if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch with you, we've got the solution: CheckPlease. Of course, you could just do some rough math, but I digress. Here's a look at CheckPlease:

Friday, August 15, 2008

MobileMe Still NOT Fixed

Apple's new MobileMe service (sorry for the image, just seems more fitting than the pretty logo Apple has supplied) has had it's issues; so much so that Apple big dog Steve Jobs has openly admitted the service launched too early and could have been postponed until a later date. MobileMe leadership has changed recently into the hands of Eddie Cue, the Vice President of iTunes.

If you take a look at the MobileMe System Status History you will see that the last REPORTED outage was on 8/11, and was restored on 8/11. Interestingly enough I experienced an issue on 8/12 and it wasn't resolved until today, 8/15 when I received an email that was sent on 8/12.

I'm pretty sure that I could have received the same message through the US Postal Service earlier. For all you MobileMe users, you might want to pick up a book of stamps...

What a big boy/girl you are, iMac!

Aww! Someone had a tenth birthday today! Happy Birthday, iMac! Look at you! You lost all that G3 baby fat! You went through your skinny/awkward G4 phase (although a lot of people thought you were adorable then.) Then you got in shape as the G5 iMac.

What precious child! I'm just a little worried about this new, dark look you've taken on with Intel inside. I hope you're not growing up to fast. Some people have reported you've been acting up, and you've been a little hot-headed as of late.

Well at any rate, Happy Birthday, and we can't wait to see what the next few years hold. I worry about your teen years, but you've made it this far, outliving many of your siblings (R.I.P., G4 Cube) so here's to a bright future!

Cro-Mag Rally for the iPhone and iPod Touch Review

Ah... Cro-Mag Rally... Memories of my first iMac G3 come flooding back. But does the game hold up on the iPhone? Let's see...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

TDL Live This week: (8/11-8/18)

We know it's tough to make a live broadcast on a Monday night at say, 9PM ET/ 6PM PT. Hey, we've all got Olympic fever! Here's what you missed on this week's TDL Live:

Radio Shack, We're Pullin' for Ya

Ah, Radio Shack... The butt of many jokes through the years.. From your hyper-need to try to sell everyone batteries, to the now-gone tradition of asking for far too much personal information to sell those batteries. Yes, the technology world hasn't been kind. And of course, there's the age-old conundrum of how you've made it this far. The few times I've entered a Radio Shack in the last few years, I was the only person in the store, and buying less than $10 in merchandise.

But it's the nature of that merchandise that makes us pull for you. Where else can an electronics tinkerer go today and leave with a resistor or capacitor? Yes, the real magic of the store has been reduced to those slide out drawers in the back corner. I remember those Radio Shack golden years of Tandy computers (Tandy 1000 was my first computer ever), and of course, the R/C Car phase, followed now by the cell phone phase. I don't know how many people put Radio Shack on their shortlist of cell phone sellers, but all of that could be about to change.

As it was announced the iPhone would be coming to Best Buy in September, reports also hint that Radio Shack could be next.

Imagine, that quiet little strip mall stalwart could become one of only four authorized channels for the iPhone. Behold, the Radio Shack resurrection could be near. Then again, there's just as good of chance that those trays of resistors and hard-to-find electronics parts are just the kind of merchandise that would disappear to make room for the iPhone and its wall of accessories.

Peg Jump for iPhone and the iPod Touch Review

No need to head to the local diner/Denny's. We know you go there for one thing: No, not the Moon Over My Hammy. I'm of course referring to the Peg Jump game! Now you can get the same experience right at home. Or on the road. Anywhere you have your iPhone or iPod Touch. Here's a look:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Apple HQ hit by fire

And here you thought your MacBook ran hot! According to the San Jose Mercury News, there was a three-alarm fire at Apple's Cupertino headquarters, believed to have started under an air conditioning unit. The building was evacuated, and no one was injured.

According to the report, some Apple employees stopped to take pictures with their iPhones. No word on how many wished the phone could record video too...

Apple and AT&T keep the spoils from the little guy

Quick, what do Apple resellers and AT&T independent dealers have in common? Answer: Neither can sell the hottest product from the company with whom they've pledged their allegiance.

For years, Apple resellers have watched the constant march of Apple-owned stores into their territories. To be honest, there were/are a lot of independents that couldn't match the experience and know-how of the Apple Store. At the same time, there are/were many dealers who've devoted years cultivating a user base, and giving excellent service. Some have survived. Some, like Boston's Tek Serve have watched Apple move in literally next door.

Next, you have AT&T. From day one, the iPhone has only been available from Apple Stores or AT&T-owned stores. This left many AT&T resellers in the dark, and probably with a bad taste in their mouthes. Imagine you're an independent business owners, allied with AT&T. Each day customers ask you about the iPhone. You don't have any to sell, and any positive remarks will result in a sale for someone else. This puts these owners in the awkward position of either painting the product in a negative light, in hopes of remaining in business, or to be honest with the customer regarding the features the iPhone, and risk losing their business.

The line from Apple and AT&T has been that they need to be cautious of unlocked phones being sold. Why one model of phone is the only one to rise to this level of concern by AT&T is questionable. Sure, it's in high demand, but it's still a tiny part of AT&T's overall phone sales. If unlocking was the real concern, why sell any phones through third parties at all?

Today comes word that Best Buy will sell the iPhone starting in September. The phone will be available in all Best Buy locations within AT&T service areas. You'll recall this is the same Best Buy that's on year three of rolling out Apple computers in less than half of their locations so far.

The bottom line is, Apple/AT&T want to control as much of the pipeline as possible, from the iTunes app store as the sole source of applications, to the shutout of resellers and independent dealers, while working with Best Buy, a company with no loyalties to either company: Rest assured that if Verizon had a phone far superior to the iPhone, Best Buy would try for that exclusive as well. Why not make the distribution as wide as possible? Both Apple resellers, and independent AT&T dealers should be able to carry the full product line. Imagine going car shopping, let's say for a Ford Mustang, and having your local dealer tell you that model is only available from a Ford-owned dealership. (which as I understand it, doesn't exist. Hmmm.) Of course given the economics of the car industry right now, it might not serve as the best example. Still, it seems if you can reward loyalty and expand your distribution points, that's the most logical thing to do.

Magic8Ball for iPhone and iPod Touch Review

Will you like Magic8Ball? Signs point to yes!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

August Apple Fantasy Merger: iRobot

(Each month we weigh the pros and cons of a particular potential merger for Apple. Please note the "fantasy" part of this speculation: Many times the mergers mentioned couldn't or wouldn't be realistically possible. But put all that aside and enjoy this month's edition of Fantasy Merger.)

We've tackled some of the biggest potential Apple fantasy mergers in previous months, including Adobe, Google, Comcast, and Nintendo.

This month we're thinking somewhat smaller: iRobot. Clearly, Apple is the leader in digital downloads, and now with the iPhone and it's apps, you can start controlling your life from your phone: iTunes remote, VNC into other computers, email, etc. But what about the physical world around you? What if, beyond supporting third party software, Apple got into the home automation business? Or more specifically, the home automation hardware business? Yes, the Jetsons future we were all promised, would finally be here. iRobot has done the hard work of designing and marketing the most successful home "robot" to date, the Roomba. Additionally, they've expanded to other consumer models for gutter cleaning and pool cleaning. If these technologies will ever truly take off (which is arguable) it will take the marketing sizzle of an established, stylish, company. Enter Apple. Using wifi networks, Apple could coordinate home automation for TVs, kitchen appliances, heating, cooling and more. And yes, it would seem like this merger would be far from Apple's core values. At the same time, if home automation does finally catch on, doesn't one company, offering a total end-to-end solution, and already known for its ease of use, stand the best chance of making it a reality?

Weatherbug for iPhone and iPod Touch Review

What's that? You alredy get weather info on your iPhone? Well you're not getting the full picture, my friend. Weatherbug brings you more info in a fun interface. Here's the video to prove it:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Moto Racer for the iPhone and iPod Touch

It's not the same as a set of handlebars, but Freeverse's Moto Racer can still be fun... once you tweak some settings:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

AIM for iPhone and iPod Touch Review

Yes, it was a highly anticipated app for the iPhone, but AIM falls short in a few regards, as pointed out in the video review below. We're left wondering why there isn't an official iChat client yet... Maybe that'll have to wait for video capabilities/access.

Friday, August 8, 2008

time:calc for iPhone and iPod Touch Review

We do a lot of time calculation around here, what with a 24-hour Apple video network and all, so time:calc was one of the first applications to hit iPhones around the office. The verdict: It's good, but to win over a bigger following, it should have frame/timecode calculations for those in film/video industries as well:

AT&T Customers can't buy iPhone at Apple Until Sunday BREAKING NEWS

UPDATE: The graphic overlay above seems to only show up on the Philadelphia-area store sites (Suburban Square, Lehigh Valley, and King of Prussia) at this time. Check with your local store if you're headed out to buy an iPhone, and you're an AT&T customer already...

You heard it here first. Heading over to the Apple iPhone page reveals a banner over the store picture as seen above, indicating that due to AT&T billing system updates, they will be unable to upgrade existing AT&T customers to a new iPhone until Sunday at noon.

Quite a bummer if you planned on picking one up this weekend, and it seems like precious little heads up for both customers and the stores.

It better be one heck of an update.. What would only affect the billing system at Apple stores... Hmm.. Speculate away...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why The "I Am Rich" App Was Brilliant

Yesterday, there was a lot of chatter about "I Am Rich," a $999 application for the iPhone that, in the words of most observers, "did nothing." Personally, I think it was brilliant.

First, the app didn't exactly "do nothing." It placed a bright jewel on the face of your phone. Is anyone accusing the Emerald Chronometer app of doing nothing when it simply places a watch face on the phone for $4.99? Or what about the apps that simply turn your screen white (some of which are pay apps, some free) to use it as a light? If you think of "I Am Rich" as a piece of digital art, it's actually a bargain. In a previous post, I mentioned the antique shop of the future will be quite different, as digital content can easily be copied, and has no value without a presence in the physical world. But here's an app that couldn't (easily) be copied, and would be constrained only to phones synced with the same computer.

For those who did buy the app, if anyone did, congratulations. I predict you will have something quite valuable in the years to come. Just look at the going price of prototype game cartridges from the 80's for some guidance on just how precious your seemingly "do nothing" app will be in the future. You may very well look back and thank Apple for pulling the application so shortly after its launch.

Molecules for iPhone and iPod Touch Review

Science geeks unite! It's time for a look at Molecules for the iPhone and iPod Touch:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

TDL Live This week: (8/4-8/11)

Ah, it was a simpler time... Yes, just Monday night... Long before everyone got all stirred up about what's now being called The China Blog. Join us for a look at the Apple news and rumors, before we became part of the news cycle this week.

Logitech Pure-Fi Speaker Review

Logitech's Pure-fi speakers promise a lot of sound in a small package, and they deliver. As we've mentioned before, it's tough to do video reviews of speakers since you can't hear them with any kind of worthwhile fidelity. At any rate, trust us: these speakers pack a lot of punch. The rechargeable battery (up to 10hrs, varies based on volume setting) is a great plus The price is a little steep, but that seems to be the case with all iPod speakers of any decent audio quality. Take a look:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The iPhone is ready to encode video. Legally at least

No you didn't misread that. You can legally encode video on your iPhone. However, that doesn't mean there's suddenly an Apple-approved video app. What it does mean, is if you dig deep enough into the iPhone licensing agreement (remember, you just pushed agree?), in Section 16 of the Apple license agreement to be exact, it states (caps are Apple's):


So there you have it. Record/Encode video on your iPhone 'til your hearts content. And if you've figured out how to do to it without a jailbroken phone, we'd love to hear about it.

Steve Jobs needs to go to China

No, we don't think Steve Jobs needs to take in Olympic competition. We're talking about a different type of visit. Back in 2006, newspaper reports claimed iPods were manufactured by what amounted to slave labor. (photo above, from engadget.) Apple investigated the situation, and issued a report in August 2006, with their own investigation's findings. While the report reads mostly positive, there are some negative issues raised:
Our audit of on-site dormitories found no violations of our Code of Conduct. We were not satisfied, however, with the living conditions of three of the off-site leased dorms that we visited. These buildings were converted by the supplier during a period of rapid growth and have served as interim housing. Two of the dormitories, originally built as factories, now contain a large number of beds and lockers in an open space, and from our perspective, felt too impersonal. The third contained triple-bunks, which in our opinion didn’t provide reasonable personal space.

Really? Triple bunks do not provide reasonable space? How many times do you think Steve Jobs, Jonathan Ive, and Phil Schiller have triple bunked? The fact of the matter is, you're talking about a manufacturing environment that would never fly in the U.S.

Additionally, in talking to 83 line workers (is that a fair statistical sample of 200,000 workers?) Apple found two who were disciplined by being forced to stand at attention for an unknown period. We'll assume as Apple has, that this is a statistically accurate representation. If that's the case, it would indicate as many as 4,800 employees may have been treated similarly at the facility. Granted only 30,000 of these workers were said to actively work on iPod assembly. Shouldn't Apple be concerned with the big picture though? If people face inhumane conditions in one building cranking out a competing product, should you still do business with that company just because a sample of 83 line workers showed only two had been forced to stand at attention while creating yours?

Why bring this up now? There are reports iPhone production is being ramped up to 800,000 units per week, beyond the capacity of Foxconn. How will Foxconn fulfill this new demand? If there ever was a time that a precariously close to inhumane work environment could go over the edge, this new production ramp would be it.

On any day, a visit to the Foxconn complex could be an eye-opening experience for any CEO. And for Jobs, and the socially responsible vibe given off by Apple, what a tremendous gesture it would be. If indeed, he could watch firsthand just how 800,000 iPhones get made in a week, and not feel there are human rights violations, we could finally let the matter drop. To put the biggest product launch for the company, perhaps ever, on the line in the interest of human rights would be a huge step.

All we, as Apple observers and stockholders have to go on is Apple's own report. A report that while it didn't find any "showstopping" issues in Apple's opinion, still found overtime violations and housing concerns. It's not that Apple is different from other companies. Plenty of electronics for other companies are pumped out of Foxconn as well. But that's not an excuse. "Everyone else is doing it," doesn't cut it. This isn't an "everyone else" kind of company. This is a company that once had original Macintoshes rolling off one of the most advanced automated assembly lines in the world, and it was done here in the United States. And guess what? No one had to sleep in triple bunks, or stand at attention.

Go to China, Steve. Look firsthand at just how Apple products are manufactured. We'll happily go along, and vow to never raise the subject again if everything checks out.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Solar Quest iPhone Game Review

First, a programming note: You'll be seeing a lot of iPhone app reviews this month, but we haven't lost sight of the fact that we're an Apple site and not an iPhone site, so there'll be plenty of non-iPhone videos and commentary as well.

Now then...

When Solar Quest debuted on the iTunes App Store, it was an alluring, if frustrating title. While it looked great, there were issues with navigation buttons sticking, and that really ruined the game. A new version is out though, and along with button fixes, there's greater use of the accelerometer for gameplay. Let's see how the new Solar Quest stacks up:

Friday, August 1, 2008

Apple being Apple: Apps being pulled without explanation

First it was iPint. Now BoxOffice. Apps are disappearing from the iTunes App Store, with no explanation. Sure NetShare disappeared, presumably because it allowed you to tether your computer to the iPhone for internet access. Strangely, it's back in the store now.

I understand the need to remove applications from the App Store for a variety of reasons. Apple should be upfront about those reasons though. Should someone who previously downloaded Box Office be concerned about the safety of their data? Was there a security reason for the removal of the software? It's bad enough that the App Store serves as the only way to legitimately get software for your iPhone, but to not be upfront with customers about why applications have disappeared is shady, You know, the kind of thing Apple said could be avoided by funneling applications through iTunes, rather than having an open market for software.

Well so far, that's given us five different flashlight applications, multiple RSS readers, and a piece of software allowing users to violate the terms of their AT&T agreement by data tethering (no matter how much we may want it). What exactly is the bigger evil we're being protected from by the App Store? Is it the innovation of the jailbroken apps, like the ability to record video, or create/edit documents? A non-scientific study of people I know with jailbroken phones and those using the app store, shows a larger number of restarts and application crashes from the approved applications.

I think it's fair to say Apple has previously been perceived as taking its customers for granted. The way the MobileMe situation was ultimately handled gave hope that maybe, just maybe, Apple had learned it's lesson. Consumers expect companies to be up front with them. If you sell an application, and have to remove it for violating terms, say that. If you have to remove it because it could compromise customer data, then say that. Just pretending the app never existed, and giving no information to those who already own the application is wrong.

There's a side of Apple that makes me stand in awe and wonder at how incredibly innovative and creative the company can be. This is not that side. Be forthcoming with your customers, and they will be more all the more loyal.

Exclusive! Our review of Light

Just to show how dedicated we are to reviewing the iPhone applications that matter to you, we review Light. What's that? You say there couldn't possibly be anything to review about a program that turns your screen white? Pish posh!

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