Tag Archives: iPhone

Holiday Tech

I’m probably the worst choice for writing this article, but my raving at the office about my kid’s new Xbox 360 landed me the task.

First let me say that Happy Action Theater for the Kinect is just plain fun for all ages. That is what I have raved about, is the fantastic sense of humor and imagination the makers at Double Fine demonstrate in this whimsical entertainment masterpiece. My kids love it, and I’ll admit floating around on a rock taking pot shots at them with my own fireball shooting hands is pretty entertaining too. As a bonus it appears that they are offering a free game until December 31st. I’ll be back in a minute.

Ok, so now that I got my anecdote off my chest, let’s move on to the future tech, as there are some neat developments. Firstly, let’s talk about phones, I will skip the iPhone for once, and jump right to Androids. Why? We’ve told you before, iPhones rarely offer anything to talk about. They are usually a quarter to a full 6 mos behind the other devices out there. Sure, they make some polished devices, but they don’t believe in “bleeding” edge, and probably could not even be called “cutting” edge. They rest safe and sound on the established tech, and for many this is a great thing.

For those of you who are “bleeders” here’s the scoop. 1920×1080 on a PHONE!! No joke, it’s for real. I remember when the first laptops came out that could do that resolution. They were monsters. Mac users remember when the Macs supported that, in fact I think it’s still maximum on the iMacs… but a phone!?!! Yes, the HTC DNA boasts 1920×1080, that’s FULL HD. Of course with a special cable you can plug this right into your HD TV via HDMI. That takes first place in my book, but be warned. There are rumors that many graphically demanding games perform poorly on this device because of the high resolution. I’ve seen figures as low as 25% of the frame rate. They call this bleeding edge for a reason.

Next up, 4G. There are three main flavors of this: lte, HSPA+, and Wi-Max. Of course, Apple again missed the boat, their iPhone 4 was NOT 4G at all. By the time the iPhone 5 was finally getting 5Mbits/s on LTE Androids were pushing 40Mbits/s. Even here in Podunk, 16Mbits/s is not rare, unless you own the newest iPhone. Sure it’s faster than 3G but as usual, slower than the new Droids, and more expensive too. Solution? Almost any new droid, HTC DNA above, if you don’t want to “bleed” quite so much, then try the Motorola Razr HD. Respectable at 720p.

Finally, if you are a conservative techie try anything old now. iPhone 5s are dirt cheap now. $127 at Walmart, now that is a reasonable price for old tech. Remember old tech, is tried and true. You are bound to have less trouble when the technology has been tested. Gen 3 iPads at $400 we could never recommend though. You can get a fully functional laptop for that price. Or for < $250 you could get a Chromebook. These represent a new way to think about computing, and “the Cloud” (despite its 70s hippy connotations) has some real promise for average users that just want don’t want to worry about the safety of their data. If you’re a power user you probably already caught Wozniak’s predictions that the cloud trend will reverse itself for power users. That NAND (solid state) technology is taking data centers by storm. If you haven’t have a look: Wozniak on Forbes.

So there you have it. Rumor has it that the XBox 720 is on the horizon, but Microsoft has claimed that the 360 is only half way through its life-cycle. Whatever the truth of that is the Xbox + Kinect bundle has been popping up dirt cheap. A colleague told me to chip in his 2 cents, and remind readers that the PS3 (Sony’s console) can play blu-ray discs (which XBox cannot) as well as offers a free online services whereas Microsoft charges for XBox live. As an XBox user there is no way I’ll be paying them for XBox live, which saves me on two levels. Of course the monthly fee, but also the temptation to purchase any multi-player title that requires said subscription.

4G, HD smart phones, and amazing deals on respectable last-generation technology like the iPhone 5 are all things to keep in mind. While I wouldn’t be too interested in a Chromebook myself, it does seem like it should be intriguing to non-power users looking for simplicity.

Have funny, and Happy 2013!

iSad? The passing of Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs passed away this week. It was surprisingly difficult to come to grips with our feelings on this matter. We do not hide the fact that we are not Apple fans, however there were admirable qualities to Steve Jobs that we cannot deny. We broke our thoughts down to a few main characteristics of the man and his legacy:

1. Trend Setter
2. Business Sense
3. Clever

As we discussed these virtues, we worked through the second layer, what about these virtues made us dislike what Steve Jobs stood for, and the answer was simple, we did not like that the list above was not what those sold out to Apple would list, they would list something like:

1. Innovator
2. Visionary
3. Leader

This is the disparity. In fact in the wake of his passing we have seen claims that he invented everything from tablet computers to mp3 players. We have seen friends lament as though a dear friend has just passed away. We have seen hero worship in the highest form, and most of that goes back to the list of characteristics that he managed to convince those fans were true. That is why we (and others like us) cringe at the praise. It was deception, and many were happy to have the wool pulled over their eyes. Macs are trendy, true, but there is very little in the way of innovation to be found. From mice to touch screens to GUIs, none of these are inventions of Apple, they are assimilations.

So let’s recognize him for his incredible talent, but be honest about what his talent was. He was a fashion designer for gadgets. In a world notoriously lacking aesthetic savvy this turtleneck clad “Coco Chanel” convinced his customers to spend more for a label. It’s brilliant, and it is what fashion has been about for more than a century. My mom can tell you that her Windows computer “just works” … but she does not love Windows the way Apple users love their little Apple stickers. Steve Jobs masterfully created a brand that was loved by many, and that is a talent in itself.

We doubt that the PC vs. Mac war will end soon. The people who get things done on computers will usually admit that both tools will do the job. The most savvy can do more with PCs because their PCs have better specs than any Mac. We do not mind if you want a stylish Mac on your desk, they are prettier than any PC we’re aware of. What we mind is when we hear nonsense about security and reliability come up. When someone makes the generalization “it’s better”… The fact is not only are they not better, but they are worse in many ways. “It just works” another farce. Anyone with significant computer experience can list as many (if not more) ways that a Mac does NOT work, than a PC. My computing amateur friend put it quite nicely when he said: “I know I’ll pay more for less, and that you can do more with a PC than with a Mac, but I like these, they’re really nice.” … That’s what I call an informed decision. Steve Jobs was an artist, as any good fashion designer should be, he was a genius, but not in technology, in style. He deserves respect, but for the right reasons.

As for all of the disinformation and OTT hero worship I’ll leave you with this article: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3318250.html

We voiced months ago our opinion that for many a cult of personality has formed. Cohen (in his article above) does a good job describing our feelings on the matter. Now in his passing quotes are popping up like religious proverbs. Some are wrongly attributed, and others are so uncharacteristic of his actual life that they appear to also be incorrect. There is a real possibility that some spiritual icon is forming around this. I highly suggest a look at Cohen’s article and resisting any urge you have to bring about the, as Cohen says: “beatification of the blessed Jobs of Silicon Valley”.

Windows 8 Impressions

I began this article with plans to have at Microsoft for the same reasons I had at Apple on OSX Lion. Dragging desktop interfaces down to the level of mobile devices is an absurd strategy. However, Microsoft has been accused for years of lacking ingenuity. However upon reviewing the tidbits available on Windows 8 I’m quite certain that whatever may come while Steve Jobs is still implementing ideas he had 27 years ago (or so he claims with iCloud), Microsoft really seems to have some new ones. It might be time to get some stock in M$FT.

As I saw these colored tiles pop up on the screen I thought: “here we go again”… However, it really is not like anything we’ve had before. HTML5, javascript, running the desktop! This is very exciting. A: “Mosaic of Tiles… Tiles are better than icons for several reasons…” … I actually buy that. Snap an app, alt-tab. “Thumbs” keyboard… I’m sure the fan boys and “geniuses” we like to ridicule so much here will find a way to claim that these are all stolen from what would have been Steve Jobs’ intellectual property given enough time for him to come up with it (and perhaps will file a lawsuit to boot). I frankly don’t care. While OSX is releasing what amounts to service packs as “new products” Microsoft has been busy. By the time Apple has OSX service pack 4: Sea Horse, or Tiger Lily, or whatever they call it next, I just hope Windows can get some good Q/A done despite their bureaucratic tar pit. If a mobile OS has a chance at beating Android this is how it would be done. I’m just happy to have a win/win. In fact I may need to get to work on figuring out how to dual boot my phone!

Momentarily remove your robe of resistance to change and take a watch yourself, do you see what I see?

OSX Lion Preview Review

Here’s a quick summary of about 30 minutes with OSX Lion (© Apple):

1. Little “lights” under icons in dock were by default turned off in Lion (© Apple).
2. Smaller control buttons on the windows.
3. There is a new link in the dock called “launchpad” that makes your desktop look just like an iPhone/iPad (© Apple).
4. Address book looks like a book.
5. Strange sliding effect on finder view selector.
6. The finder’s (apple copyright lion Apple) left pane is now nearly identical to windows 7 explorer’s left pane.
7. The mail application looks quite different and again not in a good way.
8. Safari (© Apple) finally supports full screen.

In short, I may suggest some reservation when your desktop OS is modeling its “innovations” after a 4 year old mobile device. There are rumors of pending “multi-touch” capability but our touch-pad did not indicate any sign of it. If this is for touch screens they must be planning to tabletize their iMacs (© Apple) or something since it is obvious that touchscreens in a desktop formfactor are impractical. You think your carple tunnel is acting up now? Try holding your hand up in the air for long periods of “touch time”.

The beta is buggy and does not appear to behave correctly. It really looks like they may be attempting to create a 1 size fits all OS for all devices. Safari (© Apple) finally supports full screen. Something most other browsers have done for longer than we can remember. I used to use Netscape’s full screen mode, which means it’s definitely been around a while.

Those little lights in the doc that tells you the app is running are by default turned off. This could be a further hint at their plans to clamp down on mult-tasking the same way they have on their small devices. Windows 7’s “glass” box around the icon is synonymous with this. Exposé (© Apple) has a strange habit of overlapping the windows which seems to be a bug & dashboard (© Apple? If not, I’m sure they’ve tried to) looks different. The window comes from the side and is no longer transparent. Perhaps something not finalized.

Scrolling by default is backwards! Thankfully this can be fixed in mouse settings.
Apple (© Apple) is really in love with their own mobile OS, so much so that they are willing to deprecate their desktop OS features in favor of the mobile OS. Very counter-intuitive strategy. IMO.

However, last but not least, the most exciting change in OSX Lion (© Apple) so far! Drum roll please… Resizing windows from any side and as a special bonus, window animations! Welcome to the last decade Steve Jobs (© Apple).

So Apple (© Apple) manages to simultaneously salute the other OSes with some of their copycat enhancements while oddly moving toward what appears to be constraining a full computer to the input and formfactor limitations of a PDA. We can certainly cheer the prior.

As far as I’m concerned there is nothing better than Ubuntu’s “jiggly” windows. Or as I like to refer to them, the Jiggy Windows… or as the song goes “na na na na na na, getting jiggy windows.” But, Apple (© Apple) has done well to take a clue from them. Once again we will certainly be astounded to see how Steve (© Apple) spins these imitations as innovations.

Credits: thanks to Apple (© Apple) for sending the Lion (© Apple) Preview DVD and thanks for making it the easiest yet to install on my 5 year old Dell.
And thank you Dell for making the M1710. An amazing machine.

Disclaimer: We are not sure that Apple (© Apple) has ©ed the word Lion (© Apple) however since we are aware (© Apple) of their (© Apple) propensity for lawsuits (© Apple) we figure it can’t hurt (© Apple) to © the heck out of this.