Saturday, December 29, 2007

Could Tech Support Undo Palm?

If you are thinking about getting a Palm device, this article and its comments ought to be enough to convince you to choose something else.

Tristan Louis was a loyal Palm customer/user until her recent encounter with Palm’s customer service. A snippet of her experience:

So I asked employee C11329 to be transfered to her manager. She told me she was the most senior person at Palm. I asked her again politely to transfer me to her manager. She told me she had none. I asked to be transfered to the person that was reviewing her work, giving her assignments, etc.. I was told she had none. I told her I felt that was odd as, apart from the chairman and CEO, I didn’t know of anyone in a company not having a manager. She told me she was the CEO.

For a second, I paused. “You’re the CEO of Palm, Inc.?” I asked again, not really believing what I was hearing. “Yes, I am” she replied, now with a defiant tone. “So you’re telling me you’re Ed Colligan?” I asked. “I am the CEO and that’s all you need to know.”

It goes on. Read it for yourself if you're looking for an amusing story of tech support gone wrong. Then follow Tristan's search for an alternative smartphone.

Absent some major, unforeseen development, I'd say it's clear Palm is done. The company has undergone an absurd number of iterations (or a number of absurd iterations?) and each one has weakened the platform to the point that it's become stagnant and irrelevant in the face of increasing competition and innovation.


Monday, December 24, 2007

RIM Up, Palm Down, As iPhone Kicks Ass

Palm and RIM have unusual fiscal calendars, so they've recently released results for their Sept. - Nov. quarters. Turns out Palm is continuing to tank and thinks cranking out more Windows phones will save them. Have any of them actually used a Windows-based phone? I guess it's a better experience than the actual Palm OS which hasn't received significant updates since Palm was, uh, relevant.

Meanwhile, RIM is on a tear, having discovered that ordinary consumers, and not just executives, might want smartphones, too. And here comes Apple, already grabbing larger market share in the US than Windows Mobile and closing in fast on BlackBerry.


Uh… thanks?

Just in time for Christmas, comes this gem of an idea -- a place to log your pointless, inappropriate or other "special" gifts for all to share.

Before you send that gift to the landfill, why not snap a quick photo and tell us about it. You know you want to tell someone but can’t because the person that gave it to you might find out. Now you can. Don’t worry. We won’t publish any of your personal information. Your secret is safe with us.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday Cell Phone Shopping Tips

"Now is the wrong time to buy a new cellphone."

Jackson Miller provides some astute analysis of the current and near-term mobile phone market, covering iPhone, Blackberry Curve, Nokia N95 and others.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why Leopard’s Time Machine Doesn’t Support AirPort Disks

Recently, I discussed how Time Machine as released in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard does not support backing up to a hard drive connected to an Airport Extreme despite that having been a feature listed prior to release. Well, now we've got the "why."

Turns out that, as currently configured, Airport Extreme doesn't provide a safe acknowledgment of received packets and therefore data could potentially be lost during a backup without any notice given or corrective action taken. Clearly, not a situation on which you'd want to rely.

According to Alex Curylo (via RoughlyDrafted):

This was explained on one of the developer lists a couple weeks back. The problem is that integrity cannot be guaranteed — the AirPort acknowledges receipt of the data before it’s actually written, and if power is interrupted, the disk disconnected, yadayadayada in the window between the Airport acknowledging receipt and the data actually getting written out to disk, it’s gone forever with no way to recover it or even realize it’s gone missing.
The good news is that this seems fixable in a future update to Airport and so it would seem reasonable to believe that Apple will eventually release updates to both Airport and Time Machine to allow over-the-air file backups. Jump for the deets. Let's hope that comes sooner rather than later, as there are lots of other people out there besides me who think automated wireless file backup to an external hard drive is a great enhancement for laptop users.


Monday, November 19, 2007

TinyURL Drops the Ball, Twitter All Aflutter

TinyURL appeared to have the hard crash today, causing significant disruption for loads of Twitter users, and untold others, who have come to rely on the service. Twitter has been experiencing issues with TinyURL lately. Today's outage prompted this message from Twitter Status:

The automatic shortening of URLs via tinyurl is removed for the time being due to problems with that service. Alternatives being looked at.

For all those Twitter/TinyURL addicts out there, here are some alternatives to TinyURL to get you by (in no particular order and with no guarantees of reliability): - free click tracking - add optional comment/tag to the link - free click tracking - free click tracking

UPDATE: A related story and some additional alternatives:

TinyURL Outage Illustrates the Service's Risks free click tracking - free click tracking

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Costco offers major Apple TV discounts

AppleInsider reports that Costco is offering a $50 rebate on the 160GB Apple TV that reduces the price at checkout from the usual $390 to $340. The rebate is effective until November 24th, but it's unclear whether the move to clear stock is from Apple or Costco.

If it's Cosco, it could mean the larger Apple TV isn't selling as well as expected. If it's Apple, it could mean they're clearing inventory to make room for a new version. I'm hoping for the latter, but I suspect, especially in the absence of other indicators, that it's the former.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Papa John's takes texted pizza orders

I'm thinking, "Why would anyone want to order a pizza by text message? They're reaching on this one." And then they roll out the answer.

Nigel Travis, Papa John's president and chief executive officer, envisions hungry customers text messaging from malls or theaters so when they get home their pizza orders will be on the way.
Ah, I get it now. Clever.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sprint to Prorate ETFs, Improve Customer Service

Maybe I'll be getting an iPhone a little sooner than anticipated....

Starting in 2008, Sprint will begin prorating early termination fees.
For those not on Sprint: T-Mobile Will Prorate ETFs, Too
T-Mobile joins Verizon and AT&T, both of which introduced pro-rated ETFs earlier this year.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Facebook Launches Social Ads

Facebook leaps forward with Social Ads, essentially allowing feed-embedded ads to target specific user behavior -- you add a band to your favorites, Facebook notes that in your feed and inserts an ad for that band. Meanwhile, MySpace is still playing catch-up, allowing ads only for big spenders and nothing by self-service.

In this announcement, Facebook also plays a little catch-up themselves, allowing advertisers to set up their own Facebook Pages (as opposed to Facebook Profiles for individuals). Facebook Pages are "distinct, customized profiles designed for businesses, bands, celebrities and more to represent themselves on Facebook." Hmm, any bands looking to migrate from MySpace?

Oh, and just for good measure, Facebook now allows you to integrate activity at third-party sites, like Blockbuster, into your feed. Nice.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sync up with the all-new Plaxo

Version 3 of Plaxo can sync your contacts and calendars across multiple platforms -- Mac and Windows apps (Outlook, iCal, Thunderbird, etc.) and web (Google, Yahoo!, AOL, etc.), oh, plus your mobile phone. Dang.

On top of that, it will sync changes when you or one of your contacts updates contact info. And notify you of upcoming events, like birthdays. Plus, it has a nice web interface so you can access it from other computers.

And if that's not enough, the Pulse add-on consolidates your feeds from various social networks (MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Digg, etc.). Watch this short video for a quick demo.

Yeah, it's sick. I think I'll have to try it out.


MySpace gets social with Google

Right on the heels of Google's OpenSocial announcement comes word that MySpace has signed on to support the new API. This nearly guarantees that OpenSocial will become a de facto standard for developing social networking plug-in applications and it means pretty much all the major (and minor) players in social networking have aligned against Facebook. Unless Facebook decides to sign on.

As indicated in this AP article (ironically hosted at Yahoo), that still leaves Yahoo!, eBay and Amazon (and my personal fav, Multiply) on the sidelines. Unless Yahoo! decides to dance with Facebook and Microsoft, they'll have a tough time launching their own API (read: attracting developers) for Yahoo! 360°. That's right, Yahoo! has a social network you've probably never heard of.

What about eBay and Amazon? I don't think anyone expects them to suddenly launch their own general purpose social networking platforms, but either of them could write apps for other social networks or find other ways of integrating their substantial memberships into other social networks. And if you don't think eBay and Amazon are themselves specialized versions of a social network, then you haven't been shopping online in a while. Imagine what happens when all sites that feature some kind of social networking integrate with each other to some degree. Talk about your deep profiles....

Best coverage I've seen (so far):
AP: MySpace gets social with Google
ZDNet: Google’s OpenSocial: What it means
TechCrunch: Details Revealed: Google OpenSocial To Launch Thursday
O'Reilly: Google Announces the OpenSocial API
GigaOM: OpenSocial, Google’s Open Answer to Facebook
Marc Andreessen: Open Social: a new universe of social applications all over the web
Google Blog: OpenSocial makes the web better
NY Times: Google and Friends to Gang Up on Facebook


Saturday, October 27, 2007

FileMaker announces date for Mac OS X Leopard compatibility update

FileMaker Pro 9 and FileMaker Pro 9 Advanced generally run on Leopard although there are two known issues. We are targeting a downloadable update to be available on November 19, 2007.... We have not tested earlier (pre-FileMaker 9) versions of FileMaker software on Mac OS X Leopard and do not intend to release updates for earlier versions.
So FMP 9 doesn't run well yet on Leopard and prior versions don't run at all. If you want to run FileMaker on OS X 10.5, you have to be running the latest version and you have to wait until mid-November. Not very friendly.

(Well, only if the two issues affect you. They list Instant Web Publishing and non-US English versions. However, there was a prior issue with the new version of WebKit that caused FMP to crash when accessing some web viewer content that's not mentioned at all in this notice. Has it been fixed in the GM version of Leopard or is it still an issue?)


Friday, October 26, 2007

Mac OS X 10.5: Time Machine doesn't back up to AirPort Disks [Updated]

You've got to be kidding me. This feature would be awesome. Good thing I haven't ordered the external HD yet. Time to re-think the strategy. Surely they'll get this worked out with a future update. Per Gruber, this was a previously touted feature, so it's not like the idea hasn't occurred to them.

Would be a great feature if it did, especially for notebook users. And it’s disappointing, because backing up to an AirPort disk was promoted as a feature of Time Machine in the WWDC 2007 keynote.
UPDATE: More details (and some hope that this feature will return in a future update): Apple yanks wireless backup from Leopard last minute
A work-around hack that restores the feature (if you trust it): TM working with airport disk in GM


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Motorola: Apple won’t open the iPhone

A suit at Motorola whines suggests that Apple won't open the iPhone platform to competing services. It's a toothless complaint, but it prompted this interesting analysis of the market.

If we are to assume that the upcoming SDK next February won’t open up the iPhone completely, does that mean that Apple’s customers will be hurt? The iPhone is completely closed right now and its customers are far away the most satisfied in the industry, nearly three times more satisfied than Motorola’s. It’s hard to imagine when the iPhone gets third-party apps next year, customers will be less satisfied.


Site-specific browsers and GreaseKit

The idea is simple: take a browser, cut out the tabs, the URL bar and all the rest of the window chrome and instead load one website at a time. Hence the colloquial name: “site specific browser”.
Frankly, I'm not sure what to make of this concept. Are we headed to a world of a bazillion little "site-specific browsers" that are only incrementally better than the "full browser" version or a world of robust "desktop web apps" that rival the functionality of programs like iTunes (also based on WebKit). I guess the jury will be out on that for some time, but I'm excited by the possibilities afforded by quick development, easy customization, and standalone web instances.

(via Jaxn)


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How Leopard Will Improve Your Security

With the release last week of the feature list for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, the security world is buzzing about some extremely important updates that should, if they work as expected, significantly improve Mac security and will make me less nervous about connecting to wireless networks in Internet cafes.
Tell me more... (via Daring Fireball)


Gmail gets IMAP

Looks like the Google is finally rolling out IMAP access for Gmail. It's about time. With this feature in place, there is absolutely no reason to use any other free email service.

Why is IMAP integration a good thing for Gmail? POP was a stepping stone, but IMAP pushes Gmails benefits over the top. With IMAP, users can now access their email via a desktop application like Outlook or Thunderbird, read emails, make changes, delete, and have the changes made across platforms. So if you now log into your Gmail account, the message which you read in Thunderbird, will now be marked accordingly. No more wasting time trying to sift through emails that had already been answered.
Official Gmail Blog: Sync your inbox across devices with free IMAP


Monday, October 22, 2007

Free My Phone

[The current] mobile phone system... severely limits consumer choice, stifles innovation, crushes entrepreneurship, and has made the U.S. the laughingstock of the mobile-technology world, just as the cellphone is morphing into a powerful hand-held computer.
Right on the money. Literally. (via Fake Steve)


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Strange Bedfellows: Why an Apple/Google collaboration has been so difficult to make happen.

You can see how easy it is, then, to gin up a strategy whereby each company plays to its strength. Google handles the back end and Apple the front end.... [However,] Apple isn't going to be satisfied making clever little interfaces to a world of information provided -- and owned -- by Google. Schmidt (and Carr) see that Apple doesn't have the supercomputer, but Jobs just as firmly believes that Google doesn't know how to run the supercomputer it has, and besides, he can rent a supercomputer anytime he wants one, so there.
Hmm, didn't I say something to this effect back in September? Well, at least the first part (Carr's thesis) and, to some extent, the second (Cringley's). Cringely's analysis is spot-on (and much more colorful). (via Daring Fireball)


What the Fuck: Why We Curse

Great fucking essay by Steven Pinker in The New Republic.
Fucking brilliant. (via Daring Fireball)


Thursday, October 18, 2007

AT&T To Drop Early Termination Fees

This is a huge step in the right direction. Should be only a matter of time before the other carriers follow suit. (Note, last time I checked, Sprint already did not require a contract extension if you upgrade your existing plan; downgrades on the other hand, or switching to a different plan -- gotcha!)

Starting next month, customers who change a wireless calling plan will no longer be required to extend their current contact with AT&T or sign a new contract.

Customers who terminate a contact early will no longer have to pay a flat early termination fee. The fee will be lowered during the term of the contact. The early termination policy, however, will go into effect early next year and will apple to new and renewing customers who sign a one or a two-year contract.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Road to Mac OS X Leopard: Time Machine

Time Machine is one of the most visually prominent new features demonstrated in Mac OS X Leopard, even if the core idea of backups is as old -- or perhaps older -- than the concept of having any data worthy of being restored. Here's a look at what's new and different about Apple's approach with Time Machine, why backups are a problem to be solved, and how well Leopard's new Time Machine actually works in practice.
I didn't have a lot if respect for Time Machine as a useful or innovative feature until I read this explanation. Now I'm pretty psyched about it. Time to find a new large capacity external hard drive to plug into my Airport Extreme.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Fun hobby of the day: Twitter-tracking dirty words

Because ingenious ideas like this can't go unshared, here's what you do:

Step 1: Sign up for Twitter and link it to one of your instant messaging accounts.
Step 2: Read this.
Step 3: Set Twitter to track a dozen of the dirtiest, nastiest words you can think of.
Step 4: Soak in the glorious river of humanity.
Absolutely hilarious. And a great peek into human social discourse. This should win some kind of "Best Use of Twitter" award. (originally (?) from Marc Andreesen via Kurzy)


Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Vista nerd rage feedback loop

The last time I heard somebody say, "I'm thinking about installing Vista, but I hear it's awful," the response was, "No, it's really not that bad." And the last person I know who upgraded said verbatim, "Vista isn't as terrible as I'd suspected."
[via Daring Fireball] Wow. That's a scathing endorsement. Is Vista really as bad as the press it's getting or as good as "not terrible"?


Silicon Alley Insider: Supply and Demand Applies to Concert Tickets, But Not to iPhones

I love to see hypocrisy in action, as called out by Gruber:

Peter Kafka, at Silicon Alley Insider, claims the “obvious solution” to Hannah Montana ticket scalping — wherein $67 tickets are being re-sold for upwards of $250 — is to raise the initial selling prices of the tickets, so that the money die-hard fans are willing to pay goes to the artist and concert promoter, rather than to the scalper, and then to reduce the prices after the initial high-priced demand passes.

Good advice, I say. And, of course, it’s exactly what Apple did with the iPhone. Except Silicon Alley Insider didn’t see it that way with the iPhone, writing “To us, this move suggests the phone is not selling as well as Apple had hoped,” and “[The real issue] is Apple’s obvious misjudgment of the market for a flagship product.
To which I would add Kafka's own sarcastic coverage of the iPhone pricing, "Apple's $11 Billion iPhone Blunder Explained: It's Intentional!"


Thursday, September 27, 2007

The One Ill Building

When I first saw the banner unfurled on Sixth Avenue, I figured The One Ill Building was the Beastie Boys' first foray into urban planning....

If not a real estate development, then surely was promoting a new documentary about sick building syndrome, perhaps narrated by Al Gore.
(via Daring Fireball)

Time for some retro intercapping?


Waiting For Google's gPhone: What Will The Perfect Mobile Device Look Like?

Until it was released in late June, Apple's iPhone was envisioned as the perfect mobile phone, a sleek, elegant device designed to deliver usability, performance, and versatility at the same time.

It came close, but it wasn't perfect....

In the absence of perfection, the technology community awaits the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) phone, or gPhone. Though unlikely to be as aesthetically pleasing as Apple's first foray into phone design, the gPhone is expected to be more widely available and more affordable than the iPhone.

It will probably be built using some version of the open-source Linux operating system, a J2ME middleware layer, and a Flash/Ajax presentation layer or something similar based on the vector graphic technology developed by Skia, which Google acquired....

But putting aside reality for a moment, let's imagine the perfect phone.
Yes, indeed. Let's....


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Amazon Launches ‘Public Beta’ of DRM-Free Music Download Store

Man, Gruber is all over the new Amazon store. He makes some good observations, though, so here's a guide to Gruber's coverage:

Amazon Launches ‘Public Beta’ of DRM-Free Music Download Store

Very cool: Amazon has launched a “public beta” of Amazon MP3, a DRM-free music download store. Compares well against iTunes: singles cost $.89 or $.99, albums cost $5.99 to $9.99, and, because the format is DRM-free MP3 (encoded at a respectable 256 kbps), the files are compatible with all digital music players, as well as all operating systems.

The Amazon MP3 Store and Amazon MP3 Downloader
The new Amazon MP3 Store looks like no previous iTunes Store rival. The music is completely DRM-free, encoded at a very respectable 256 kbps, includes a ton of songs from major record labels, and offers terrific software support for Mac OS X.

Paul Thurrott, Unimpressed by Amazon MP3 Store
I think offering the largest library of DRM-free downloadable music is quite exceptional. I predict a year from now, Amazon’s store will be a solid #2 to iTunes — and that Wal-Mart’s, assuming it’s still peddling DRM-ware, will remain in nowheresville. Any store selling music that won’t play on iPods is doomed.

More on the Amazon MP3 Store
So why Amazon is even bothering with a music download store, given that “everyone knows” the iTunes Store is a loss-leader that Apple offers just to sell more iPods? Because that’s bullshit. Apple is making good money from the iTunes Store.

People are talking about this all over the place. Why all the curiosity and analysis? It's not just because Amazon is a player, as other big players have tried and failed. I think people sense that Amazon might be on to something and that maybe this store has a chance to take on iTunes. Certainly, there's wide agreement that Apple could use some healthy competition in this space and that the music labels need to see that DRM-free distribution is a viable and preferable model that benefits everyone.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

EchoStar says to buy Sling Media

EchoStar Communications Corp, parent of the Dish Network Satellite Television service, said on Monday that it will buy Sling Media Inc, a privately held company known for its Slingbox device that relays home television programs to laptops and cell phones.
Not sure what this means for the innovative and highly useful Slingbox, but I sure hope it means accelerated product development and not just integration into the Dish Network set-top box. And I certainly hope it doesn't mean the end of the standalone boxes in favor on Dish integration only.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Justine Ezarik has lost her mind.

OMG. If you recognize the parody, you will find this unbelievably funny and yet disturbing. If not, then just disturbing. (via Fake Steve)


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Connect More Easily to Wi-Fi Hotspots with the iPhone

Devicescape has released a simple application for the iPhone that lets you connect to Wi-Fi hotspots without all the fuss of tapping in user names and passwords, clicking Accept buttons, or remembering WEP and WPA encryption keys.
(via Daring Fireball)


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Microsoft Reveals Windows Vista SP1 Will Install XP

"We're focused on giving the customer what they want, and want they want is to just go back to XP," said Microsoft.
Hahahah. Dunno which is funnier, that MS would release XP as SP1 for Vista or the notion that MS gives two shits about giving the customer what they want.


Live from the Apple announcement, London

Quite a few sites have reported on the UK iPhone announcement today. And no one that I've seen so far, not even the rumor sites, has remarked on this tidbit regarding His Steveness' answer to a question about why they haven't launched a 3G version of the handset.

It's pretty simple, says Jobs. "The chipsets work well apart from power. They're real power hogs. Most phones now have battery lives of 2-3 hours and that's due to these very power-hungry 3G chipsets. Our phone has 8 hours of talktime life. That's really important when you start to use the internet and want to use the phone to listen to music. We've got to see the battery lives for 3G get back up into the 5+ hour range. Hopefully we'll see that late next year. Rather than cut the battery life, we've included Wi-Fi and sandwiched 3G between Edge and a more efficient Wi-Fi."
The key part being, "Hopefully we'll see that late next year." Sounds to me like Steve is pretty much saying that we'll see a 3G iPhone by late next year. Given his aversion to revealing Apple timelines, or even plans, I'd say that's a pretty significant comment. I suspect he really intends to release earlier than that, so as to maintain some surprise.

The question is, how much earlier? Dunno, but I'd say this means there's not any chance it will happen in 2007, and very slim that it will happen in early 2008 (like Macworld in January). So, if you're thinking about buying now or waiting for 3G, I'd say you're safe in assuming the wait for 3G is going to be on the long side. (via Fake Steve)

UPDATED: AppleInsider did mention it with regard to a report indicating a Q1 release for the 3G model. So there's your window of possibility. Steve is a sly one.


iToner Still Works

So yesterday’s iTunes 7.4.2 update breaks all the known workarounds for freely adding custom iPhone ringtones via file-extension renaming and AAC metadata hacking. But Ambrosia’s $15 iToner still works like a charm. (iToner doesn’t go through iTunes, it communicates directly with your iPhone, so I think only an iPhone software update could affect iToner, not an iTunes update.)
Sure glad we have Gruber to stay on top of this for us.


Facebook Considered Harmless

Zeldman offers a nice consideration of the appeal and usefulness of Facebook by way of explaining why he joined and is now apparently addicted like the rest of us, but let's just skip to the end, shall we?

The real reason, of course, for all this stuff, is that it provides a way to blow off work you should be doing, while creating the illusion that you are achieving something. At least in most offices, you can’t masturbate at your desk. But you can Tweet.
(via Daring Fireball)


Friday, September 14, 2007

The Ringtones Racket

The whole ringtones racket is predicated on the notion that ringtones are something different than songs. This notion is bullshit. You don’t turn songs into ringtones; you treat them as ringtones. They’re not even a different file format. It’s just a different context for playing the same song on the same device.
Gruber sounds off on ringtones. Or, perhaps, goes off on ringtones. For the most part, I agree with his stance. Apple's offering is weak (and strong) for all the reasons cited, but I think much more blame should be heaped on the music labels to whom Apple is beholdened and less on Apple for not taking them on more aggressively over this issue.

Further, I think Gruber underestimates the complexity of negotiating music rights -- there might be only 500,000 ringtones in the initial offering, not because the labels said no, but because there are so many parties involved who have to sign off on any changes in rights. You can't just "turn on" ringtones for each major label -- all the little guys downstream have to agree also.

Of course, Gruber's central tenet that additional rights aren't necessary removes those hurdles altogether. Unfortunately, the precedent is otherwise and we must suffer the consequences until someone breaks the model. I don't think Apple would mind that at all.

UPDATE: Fake Steve Jobs weighs in: I hate to say it, but Gruber is right about ringtones


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fair Use Worth More to Economy Than Copyright, CCIA Says

"Much of the unprecedented economic growth of the past ten years can actually be credited to the doctrine of fair use, as the Internet itself depends on the ability to use content in a limited and nonlicensed manner," CCIA President and CEO Ed Black said in a statement. "To stay on the edge of innovation and productivity, we must keep fair use as one of the cornerstones for creativity, innovation and, as today's study indicates, an engine for growth for our country."
Here's a powerful new argument for protecting fair use rights -- economic prosperity. It's not just about consumers having flexibility in how they use licensed media (which is important enough in its own right), but also about driving economic growth. This is just the sort of argument (and big dollars) to attract the attention of federal legislators to the issue. Yeah, $4.5 trillion in annual revenue ought to do it.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Apple Eyes the Wireless Auction

Steve Jobs & Co. consider joining the FCC's auction of wireless spectrum, and a win would give Apple many intriguing options—for the iPhone and more.
I don't think it makes any sense at all for Apple to try to manage a broadband network. But that's what partners are for. This is an easy one: Apple + Google (+ maybe one other partner). Or, as one commenter suggested, Apple + Intel on WiMax. Either way, the interesting part to consider is what Apple would do with their own broadband network:
Apple could conceivably move to a "cloud computing" approach, where it would store customers' files, music, movies, e-mails, and other content on servers in its own data centers, and dole it out directly to whatever device a customer is using at any given time.
Tell me that doesn't sound like Google's territory. Consider this scenario: Apple delivers the front end (devices, user interface, client OS, etc.) and Google delivers the back-end (data centers, network management, etc.) and they work together on services (iTunes, Gmail, VOIP, etc.). That's certainly a sandbox where I'd like to play.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Scourge of That Damn Frog Song

Jeff Harrell on Apple’s ringtone strategy. Well-reasoned and hilarious, but Gruber doesn't buy it. Here's a taste, jump for the full plate:

When Apple released the iPhone, lots and lots of people — every single one of them between the ages of twelve and twenty-four — complained to high heaven that the device the company touted as the most amazing advance in telecommunications technology since the bullhorn didn’t support musical ringtones.
(via Daring Fireball)


Free Custom Ringtones in iTunes 7.4

Tip of the week, from “Cleverboy” on the MacRumors forums: just duplicate any (non-DRM-protected) AAC file, change the file extension to “.m4r”, and iTunes 7.4 will treat it as a ringtone.
(via Daring Fireball)

Followed by...
So that “change the file extension to ‘.m4r’ and get free ringtones” trick? Broken in iTunes 7.4.1, which seemingly has no other discernable changes. But — and this is just weird — Joe Maller reports that if you change the file extensions back to “.m4a”, the trick works again.
(via Daring Fireball)

And if you need step-by-step instructions.... (via Daring Fireball)


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why Do I Continue to Be Such a Cheapskate?

Chris has a highly informative and humorous BT headset review over at Gear Diary.

I should have spent an extra 40 bucks and bought the Plantronics Voyager™ 520 Bluetooth® Headset. And with good reason. The Voyager 520 addresses all the issues I had with my first Bluetooth experience and passes all the tests with flying colors.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

iPhone Application Installer

Have an iPhone and a hankering to install some of the third-party apps that are being developed? iPhone mods no longer require a CS degree, although you'll still risk the wrath of Jobs for second-guessing his judgment on which apps should be run on iPhone. promises to provide an easy interface to install iPhone applications over EDGE or Wifi. It's in Beta and comes with no warranty, so proceed with caution.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Facebook Fallacy

This is for the Courtster and CeeElCee:

Avoiding the Facebook because you think it's pointless? A silly waste of time? Too much like MySpace? Just for college kids?

Jenneth over at Gear Diary used to think so, too....

The way I see it, having a Facebook page will soon be just as standard as having a mobile phone or email address. Resistance is futile.
Get with it already.


Apple Offers Refurbished iPhones

How about an iPhone for $100 off? Sounds good to me. Props to Juice for discovering this before I saw it covered anywhere. Here's all you need to know:

Apple has started offering refurbished iPhones that are priced $100 less than the originals and come with a one-year limited warranty.

The handsets, which were either returned or brought in for repair, are available in 4-Gbyte or 8-Gbyte models. For an additional $69, Apple is offering the AppleCare Protection Program, which extends repair coverage on the combination cellular phone, music player, and Web browser for two years.


Reactiv Cyclist Protection Jacket Is Safe, Looks Cool(ish)

The ultimate in biker geek gear. The video demonstration makes it almost look cool (play it large for best effect). The photo after the jump reveals it to be otherwise. The $200 price tag settles it.

Great concept, though.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sinner's Lament

Today, Reflected Signal has launched as a place to present elements of the mundane in a way that might reveal something of interest. The idea is to post one photo, video clip, or other media piece each day of something that I've stumbled across as I've gone about the day.

If you enjoy today's post ("enjoy" defined broadly), please click through to the site and leave a comment.

God's benevolence as illustrated by creationists.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Freetards, this is outrageous

Looks like we have another entry in our nerd sex series, again courtesy of his FakeSteveness -- although I have to say the level of cleverness seems in decline. I might not even have posted this one, except that the Juice likes this Ubuntu stuff and couldn't bring himself to comment on either of the previous posts, owing to his being "too tired and worn out." Not sure if his viewing of the previous entry contributed to that state. Nonetheless, the featured woman has clearly been quite well exploited.

Honestly. What is it with you Linux guys that you have to keep objectifying women in order to promote your operating system? First we had Novell exploiting women and now Ubuntu is jumping aboard the shame train too.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Feminists v linux geeks in fight to see who can have less sense of humor

In our now continuing sexuality series comes this entry from Fake Steve. Shocking. Hilarious. I laughed. I cried. It was better than Cats.

Linux nerds were offended by the ad, which appeared in a Linux rag, because the gist is that, um, your average freetard doesn't get a lot of hummer action. Soon, I'm sure, there will be some kind of online petition. Then feminists jumped in, griping here that the ad offends them too because it implies women should be giving hummers to Linux geeks. Or something.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Porn in theory, porn in practice

It reaches right into your pants is what it does. That's kind of weird, isn't it, to have something come out of the computer and reach into your pants?
I came across this article innocently enough. Okay, I was posting an article on Digg and the headline caught my eye and intrigued me. So that's not exactly innocent, but it is innocent enough. As I was somewhat impatiently skimming the article (you know, looking for the good stuff), I hit these lines and about busted a gut laughing.

Right, so I'm easily amused. And the article turned out to be pretty good, so read up if you're uncertain about how you feel about porn.


BarCamp Nashville

On August 18th, members of Nashville's music, technology, marketing and design communities will meet under one roof for BarCamp Nashville. This important event is a free, New Media "unconference" that aims to promote education, innovation and collaboration between technology and media professionals.

BarCamp Nashville is a ‘future’ festival. Expect a mashup of unexpected presentations with a great lineup of internationally recognized keynote speakers and live music. Nashville is ready for a celebration of our interactive, music, design and marketing communities.

learn more
Speaker Schedule
Free Registration

get connected
Google Group


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Consumers urged to pick new DVD format

So HD DVD is winning. Or maybe it's Blu-ray Disc. Or maybe they both are and it doesn't matter. Here's your update on the HD DVD vs. Blue-ray Disc battle for the high def video disc standard.

Note, the real race likely starts this holiday buying season when prices are expected to drop into the reasonably affordable range.

Analysts said even lower prices for players could be the key to determining a format winner. Some believe that until prices hit the $200 range, consumers simply won't upgrade from their current machines, many of which cost less than $100.

Chinese-made HD DVD players selling for $199 are expected to hit store shelves by December, while Sony is widely expected to cut the cost of its Blu-ray machine to as low as $299 by year's end.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Fogeys Flock to Facebook

Lately, an influx of older users—professionals their 30s and 40s, many in high-tech—is changing the face of Facebook. Among Silicon Valley executives, journalists, and publicists, Facebook has become the place to see and be seen. And it's not just tech.
Hmmm, guilty as charged. Facebook is the new hotness, even for grown-ups, and is perhaps the first social networking site to bridge personal and professional legitimacy en masse. If you're not there, you're not connected.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007 to launch new shopping service for social networks

On Tuesday, is officially launching its Garage Sale service on the social networking Web site Facebook. It's intended to let users post and sell items on their profile pages.
It's not free, but they do handle credit card payments so at least you know you'll get paid. This is great example of how Facebook's open API will help them pull ahead of other social networks by allowing quicker innovation.


Monday, August 6, 2007

‘Fake Steve’ Blogger Comes Clean

The acerbic postings of “Fake Steve,” as he is known, have attracted a plugged-in readership — both the real Mr. Jobs and Bill Gates have acknowledged reading the blog ( At the same time, Fake Steve has evaded the best efforts of Silicon Valley’s gossips to discover his real identity.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Daniel Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes magazine who lives near Boston, has been quietly enjoying the attention.
Well, there goes all the fun. Now that it's likely to be officially sanctioned by Forbes, who's going to want to read it?


Saturday, August 4, 2007

Using iPhone: iCal, CalDAV Calendar Servers, and Mac OS X Leopard

Here's a look at how Apple's iCal and iCal Server relate to other products on the market, and how the iPhone handles calendaring....

When Leopard ships, the iPhone will no doubt gain support for working with CalDAV open calendar servers, including over the air support for syncing with iCal Server, and hopefully also the online calendars at .Mac, Google, and Yahoo.
Better calendar support from Apple, including server-side, client-side and sync will be most welcome.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Analyst: iPhone security concerns exaggerated

“I think it has been exaggerated,” Andrew Jaquith, security analyst with the Yankee Group, told Macworld. “You have to start with the observation that many of the people that complain the loudest and say it’s a security threat tend to be security companies themselves.”
And then he goes on to debunk the criticisms, one-by-one, and offers a few useful suggestions for enterprise IT-types.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Office Snapshots is hosting a growing collection of boredom

Ever curious about what it looks like in the offices of, say, Pixar or Digg or Facebook or Craigslist? Office Snapshots is hosting a growing collection of photos.
This isn't half as interesting as it sounds, mostly because they have a large catalog of companies you don't know or care about and because there isn't an index of what's available, so you're left to dig through it all. (via GMSV)


Web site archives the dead of MySpace

Somewhere deep in cyberspace, where reality blurs into fiction and the living greet the dead, there are ghosts. They live in a virtual graveyard without tombstones or flowers. They drift among the shadows of the people they used to be, and the pieces they left behind.

Somewhere deep in cyberspace, something very creepy is going on....


Friday, July 27, 2007

Google Street View Camera Vehicles Spotted All Over US

Gizmodo has turned the tables on Google (or at least their contractor) and published photos of cars snapping photos for Street View. Looks like they have at least three different cameras in use.

Responding to our request for pictures of the Google camera cars and vans, eagle-eyed Giz readers have been spotting the Chevy Cobalts, VW Beetles and vans with cameras up top all over the United States.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nine Hacks That Will Make You the Master of Your iPhone

Only a few days after the iPhone went on sale, hackers were already kicking the wheels and checking under the hood to see if they could pimp out Apple's locked-down smartphone. After a month, they've made surprising progress. Below, we detail some of the milestone hacks for what has been called "the most significant consumer electronics product ever."
Nice recap ensues.

Jump Owner Facing Jail Time Over Laws That Didn't Exist

The former head of the popular-yet-shady MP3 site is looking at some jail time and some hefty fines in his home country of Russia now that his site has been shut down. The authorities say he owes the RIAA a bunch of money and was violating all sorts of copyright laws. The only problem is, well, that he didn't actually break any Russian laws by running the site.
I imagine the Juice will be contributing to his defense fund. He was pretty distraught when they closed them down last year.


Motorola and Microvision Build Projector into Cellphone

This would be kind of cool, if they ever get around to releasing it.

The project, still at prototype stage, will see the tiny PicoP DLP (Digital Light Processing) projector inside a Moto handset. Using a tiny, vibrating mirror to steer laser light, the projector can achieve a 15 inch image from a half meter distance (1.6 feet). Not huge, but a lot better than a cellphone screen, and at 854 x 480 pixels, you get better than DVD resolution.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fuel for Thought

Americans who support higher fuel efficiency standards even though they don’t buy fuel efficient cars are not necessarily irrational. Consider:

Back in the nineteen-seventies, an economist named Thomas Schelling, who later won the Nobel Prize, noticed something peculiar about the N.H.L. At the time, players were allowed, but not required, to wear helmets, and most players chose to go helmet-less, despite the risk of severe head trauma. But when they were asked in secret ballots most players also said that the league should require them to wear helmets.
Maybe this also applies to restaurants that support smoking bans. (via Daring Fireball)


Unboxing the Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset and Hands-On Review

First of all, I’m blown away by how small Apple’s Bluetooth Headset is compared to all the images published by Apple. So how does it feel, and does it remain firmly in my ear? It feels amazingly lightweight and yes, another shocker is that it stays put!
Here's the first review I've seen of Apple's new Bluetooth headset. Have you come across any others of value? (via Gear Diary)

UPDATE: AppleInsider | Review: Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset - fewer details, similar conclusions


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sources: Apple set to grow iPhone family pre-holidays

If you haven't been following the iPhone rumors and patents approvals, here's what you need to know: Apple might be releasing a less expensive, second model of the iPhone this year and it might look a lot like a regular iPod -- with a modified click-wheel instead of a touch screen. And it might be essentially just a phone and an iPod -- none of that "Internet access device" goodness. Just call it "iPhone nano" for now.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

3D Mailbox - Hang out with your mail pool-side

Can you think of anything less useful than this? If you can't, then maybe you need to Get A First Life. (via You So Gangsta)


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

OMG -- My Boss Wants to Be 'Friends' with Me on Facebook

On the one hand, accepting a person's request to be friends online grants them access to the kind of intimacy never meant for office consumption, such as recent photos of keggers and jibes from friends.... But declining a "friend" request from a colleague or a boss is a slight.
Sounds like a good time to discover how the privacy settings work. MySpace provides hardly any control over who sees what, which is why smart people avoid posting anything even remotely compromising there. Facebook offers a great deal of granularity in their privacy controls, but it's hard to separate colleagues from personal friends. Multiply (yeah, I know, you've never heard of them), makes it super easy to limit access to specific items based on a family, friend, colleague or individual basis -- but good luck getting all of your friends to sign up and use it.

And don't even get me started on Twitter, which provides absolutely no privacy controls, other than total blocking of all non-friends or of specific users. It's all-in or nothing over there.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Permanent Link to ScratchYourself: Viral Sweepstakes That Brands Could Love

It's a fairly simple Flash application that lets users upload an image and build a lottery-style scratch card from it....

Users have an incentive to create and embed these on their blogs, MySpace page, etc.: if you create a scratchcard and someone wins a prize, you get the same prize as the creator of the card.
Scratch away, people! Win us both some cash!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Will It Blend? - iPhone

This is sick, sick, sick and So Gangsta.


Sex Advice from People Standing in Line to Buy an iPhone

I would guess that the closer you get to the front of the line, the lower the skill set you're going to find.
(via You So Gangsta)


Movie trailer creates buzz with mysterious tone

If you've seen Transformers, then you've probably seen this trailer and wondered, "WTF?" Here's the inside scoop (as much as they're saying, anyway).

It's possibly Hollywood's biggest experiment with reverse psychology, creating immense want-to-see passion in people by refusing to say anymore.
If you haven't seen Transformers, then what the heck are you doing with your life?


Saturday, July 7, 2007

iPhone Remote 0.9.7 alpha

Now this could get interesting. Gruber describes it succinctly:

Free, open source utility offers remote access to your Mac from an iPhone via a collection of web apps. Extraordinarily clever; includes screen sharing, script execution, iSight image capture, and some basic developer documentation for creating additional modules.


iPhone Native Looking Skin

"Make your applications look and feel like a native iPhone application" using Joe Hewitt's native looking navigation skin.

Perhaps not the best name (kinda creeps me out and doesn't immediately communicate it's utility), but it does look like a very help leg up if you're developing your own iPhone web apps.


Thursday, July 5, 2007

How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense

I read about Twitter when it first launched and was impressed enough with the novelty of the idea to create an account -- but not enough to actually use it. (I have a bad habit of doing that, but at least I usually get my preferred username.) Then I read Clive Thompson's article in Wired and thought it might be useful after all.

So now I'm busy conning a few brave friends into trying it with me. And we'll discover together whether or not "a shared understanding larger than yourself" is to be found by twittering away some time.


Patience Pays Off Big for Dallas iPhone Fan

Not sure which of these people is the bigger jerk, but I know which one got the better deal. Watch the video and decide for yourself.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

iPhone First Impressions

The auto-suggest correction system works pretty damn well, considering it hasn’t yet had a chance to learn much about what and how I type. Most impressive touch: it knows the word “fucking”.
Lot's of people are posting iPhone first impressions today, but I appreciate Gruber's views of design and UI and so I'm sharing his with you. If I encounter other opinions that add something he didn't cover, then I'll add links to those as well, but otherwise look elsewhere for a compendium of iPhone reactions.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Google Maps adds drag and drop for driving routes

fishwreck has been asking for this one for a long time!

Don't like the driving route Google Maps doled out to you? Now you can change the driving directions by grabbing the blue route line and dragging it to create a new destination point, which will in turn create a new route.
Thanks Lifehacker.


Web radio says royalties could kill it

New royalty rate hikes could kill Internet radio, station managers, a country musician and head of an independent record label told lawmakers Thursday.... Though only a fraction of a penny, the new rates are a 300 percent cost increase for large webcasters and a 1,200 percent increase for small operations.
Don't let corporate greed kill a good thing: Save Net Radio.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

I've even done favors for Apple employees

This is, by far, the BEST coverage of the iPhone I have seen yet -- featuring "America's number one technology expert" Henry Winkler on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Internet radio webcasters plan silent protest

On Tuesday, thousands of U.S. webcasters are expected to go silent to protest the planned royalty rate increase by the Copyright Royalty Rate Board.
Support Internet radio while you still can. The new rates make no economic sense whatsoever. It represents the kind of stupid, corporate greed that drives things to extinction -- to the detriment of all, including the greedy bastards who are too myopic to see their own self-interest.


A Friendly Reminder from your IT Department

The 12 commandments of IT? I know this is pretty much how the net admin runs things where I work.


First Apple iPhone shipments arrive stateside

Armed guards are extremely unusual for freight coming out of the Asian sector, those familiar with the matter explained, and are typically reserved for shipments containing riches such as gold and diamonds.
Good grief. Gold and diamonds?


Unconfirmed: iPhone Data Plan Revealed

I linked to this, not because of the article (which will soon be irrelevant), but because of the graphic. The angelic iPhone is goofy, but the Death Star AT&T logo is spectacular and truly inspired. It captures perfectly the land-line monopoly-induced, heavy-handed, antagonistic and unhelpful customer service delivered by the Baby Bell that ate it's mother.


With hype high, iPhone may have to fight a flop

"God himself could not design a device that could live up to all the hype that the iPhone has gotten," said David Platt, a computer science professor at Harvard University.
A classic quote, no doubt. But, there's more...
Blogs chronicle leaks about the phone like children plotting Santa's path from the North Pole.
Jump for the rest.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Yes, we paid Microsoft's ad agency to make this ad

Seriously, this has to be the lamest advertisement ever made. It looks like two dicks trading genital warts.
I don't know what to say about this. You just have to watch it. Eeew. Leaves me feeling dirty somehow.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

WWDC Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) Videos

Someone posted video clips to Brightcove demonstrating Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (WWDC Build).
Get your own sneak peek at the forthcoming release. No telling how long these will be available (I give 'em until midday Monday), so don't delay.


ALERT: OS 10.4.10 Snap, Crackle, Pop

Fun name for a not-so-fun problem. I upgraded the Intel iMac at the office without any issues, but your mileage may vary. If you haven't upgraded yet, I'd recommend holding off for awhile to see how it plays out. Read on for deets and user reports.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Comparison of Services to Create Online Polls

Recently, I've been considering the use of an online polling mechanism for a project I'm working and today I happened to stumble upon this most excellent review of free online poll widgets/services. If you're in the market to add custom polls to your website or blog, this is the place to start.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

iGod: Has Steve Jobs Peaked?

It’s a stunning box, a wizard object with a passel of amazing features (It’s a phone! An iPod! A Web browser!). But for all its marvels, the iPhone inaugurates a dangerous new era for Jobs. Has he peaked?

Apple’s competitors, by contrast, find the prospect of the iPhone terrifying. “The entire fucking Western world hopes that it’s a case of imperial overstretch,” says the CEO of one of the planet’s largest communications companies. “But everybody is quietly saying, er, what if people want to buy a $500 phone? What if, er, people have been waiting for a device that does all these things? What if this thing works as advertised? I mean, my God, what then?”
Jump to the backstory or go straight to the article.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Leo-like Desktop in Tiger

Can't wait to have Leopard on your Mac? Neither can these folks who have thoughtfully collaborated to share instructions and links, including the grassy desktop pic, to give your Tiger install a close approximation. Poseur.


iChat for iPhone

I have no idea why Apple hasn't included an iChat / IM client on the iPhone, but it's nice to see one will be available anyway.

For those Digg fans out there, take a look at it's buddy, iPhoneDigg, where you can also test your iPhone flicking ability.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Flaws Abound In Apple's Safari Beta For Windows

We'll see how this all shakes out over the coming days and weeks, but ye be warned.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Gates vs. Jobs

I'm just reminding everyone that PC's are for fart-offers and Macs get you laid.
This is not how I recall their joint appearance at D. But it could have been just like this....

And Finder is BOSS!


Friday, June 8, 2007

Crazy Rotating Wall Makes You Wonder if You Are Crazy Too

Not really sure what the point of this is, but somebody sure spent a lot of time and money making it.

Jump for details or larger video.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

You Are Beautiful

Clever and good for you. Be sure to check out the installations to see some creative and fun applications.


Friday, June 1, 2007

Google hits the streets, raises concerns

In San Francisco, there's a man picking his nose on a street corner, another fellow taking out the trash and another guy scaling the outside of an apartment building, perhaps just for fun or maybe for some more sinister purpose.

Further down the highway at Stanford University, there's the titillation of a couple coeds sunbathing in their bikinis.

I can see where some people might have some issues with this and especially organizations wanting to protect their images. Google may find it difficult to stay true to their "do no evil" corporate policy if the requests for changes overwhelm their ability to accommodate. Still, it's an awesome feature. How long till we have live views do you think?


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Groovy, Dudez.

Turn your iPod into an mPod and then consult this handy thermotropic color guide to track your mood:

Dark blue: Happy as a pig in slop.
Blue: Peaceful, easy feelin’.
Blue-green: Deserves a raise and a trip to a major league ball park.
Green: Depressed by the onset of summer network reruns.
Amber: In desperate need of pizza.
Gray: Needs a beer. Help this man immediately.
Black: Stay clear of this person or you might pull back a nub.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ripping episodic DVDs

So you've got an Apple TV and some TV shows on DVD and you want to rip multiple episodes off the DVD so you can watch them with your Apple TV. How to go about it.... Well, it's not as easy as it could be (and likely will be eventually), but read on for the step-by-step.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sheldon celebrates Helvetica's 50th

Graphic designer geek humor....


The Magic of Photoshop In Action

Well, this you just gotta see.