Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mac-iPhone Update for July 31, 2008

Yesterday's mention of cracking in the plastic cover for the iPhones has not expanded coverage.  However, there is no mention of this by Apple.  Apple had just lived through the MobileMe transition.  I hope they do their loyal adopters right and address the issue if this is indeed more than a few isolated incident.  Let's see if Apple is more sensitive because of the MobileMe transition and will come right out and address this right away.  Otherwise, it could be months before we hear from them.  I also hope we don't find the same "1%" excuse again.

iPhone/iPod Update:

  • iPodNN is reporting a new application (patent - feature not necessarily coming) that may allow handheld devices (iPod Touch and iPhone as your usual suspects) to receive radio or TV stream.  I can't be happier about this.  If I can stream media from my iTunes library at home to my iPhone wherever I am, I'll be in digital heaven.  
  • Onxo believes the App Store will change the mobile gaming market.  Game Daily is reporting the US market will become the No 1 mobile gaming market.  After spending 45 minutes earlier playing AquaForest, I think they might be right.  
  • New iPhone OS 2.1 released to developers.  We need it bad.  
  • Macrumors is reporting a tethering app, NetShare, is available now on the App Store for $9.99.  However, an update now says the app is no longer available.  I was surprised when I heard about it.  Now, I'm not.  

Apple/Mac Update:
  • Ars Technica provides argument why Apple will stay with Intel chipsets for the time being.  A must read to put all speculations to rest.  However, that is not to say that Apple has secret margin-strinking device that will not have anything to do with Intel.  There's that matter of that PowerPC company they just bought.  In time, we may see that they bought the whole company to make sure no one else has access to their technology and patents.  I'm still on the Macworld 2009 boat.  We will not see a supersecret MacBook Touch/Pad this year.  But I soooo want to be wrong!
  • If you have a Mac, security update available now for DNS patch.  Details at Macworld.
  • Despite all the back and forth about what chipset Apple will use, I'm for a dedicated GPU on the Macbook.  If long time Intel loyalist, Dell, can use Nvidia's GeForce 8400M in their notebooks, I don't see why Apple can't at least allow that as an upgrade option for the Macbook.  

Mobile Update For July 31, 2008

We started off the day huffing and puffing about hackers in general and guidelines from the Homeland Security to help our mobile warriors who might be targets of foreign bodies for data theft.  We end the day with a satirical comic strip about the iPhone craze and Midori, a new Microsoft OS slated to take advantage of cloud computing.

All good reads.  Now.  Mobile Device Update:

  • Due to Nintindo's lackluster DS sales, many are beginning to believe an upgrade to the DS is about to take place.  Well, we ALL know that.  What we want is a date!  To date, Nintendo has sold close to 80 million DS worldwide.  So, no.  the iPhone isn't about to challenge DS for mobile game supremacy if ever.  Lower the DS to $99 might just do the trick.  No need for new hardware just yet.  Although it might not be a bad idea if "DS 2" released to the market.  PSP may be in for some hurt if there were to happen.
  • Nokia just recently lowered the price of the N95 due to stiff competition from the iPhone.  Now, they're slashing prices for other phones.  Gloves are off.
Mobile Issues:
  • Microsoft shipped 18 million Window Mobile copies.  Apparently, they had hope to ship 20 million.  
  • With networks about to be pried open, how will mobile gaming change?
  • Onxo believes cyber threat should be a concern at all times and points mobile travelers to guidelines on how to protect themselves.
  • Skyfire - a mobile web browser with a small footprint.
The end of July has kind of sucked as far as mobile devices introductions are concerned.  It's as if everyone has cleared out for Apple and the iPhone.  I'm not too hopeful about August but I'm pretty sure we'll have plenty of coverage regarding Blackberry's releases and Sony's upcoming press conference.

Midori To Put An End to Windows

Midori is a completely new OS being designed by Microsoft to take advantage of cloud computing and leave behind more than two decades of Windows.  It does not mean Microsoft will make Windows software obsolete overnight once Midori is released.

First, Midori will sit on a PC like Windows now but will take advantage of parallel computing if cloud resources are available resulting in greater power management and better resource distribution.

Since this is not the forum to discuss the various technical ways Microsoft mean for Midori to take advantage of external resources, P2P, a bank of computers performing cloud computing, or a mere PC sitting in the next room, it is suffice to say that computer designs will have change drastically.

Impact:  This will be coming in 2010.  Later by Microsoft's track record.  However, if a new leaner OS means the need for hot running CPU being a thing of the past, we can be looking at a host of new mobile devices that leave the heavy lifting to wireless resources in the "cloud". For more technical information:


In related news on this regarding cloud computing, Sun Microsystems, the folks who brought the the "dot in dot com", is looking to create a separate cloud computing unit.  Also earlier in June at the WWDC, Apple gave developers an early look at their next operating system, Snow Leopard, that will focus primarily on parallel computing to help applications take advantage of multi-core CPUs.  Both companies are vying to be major players in cloud computing.

Comic Book About Steve and the iPhone

This is a very funny parody of the mobile gadget struggle between Apple and others. In this case, Microsoft and Zune. It's funny because it's a bit true. Essentially, Jobs puts a mustache and beard on the iPhone and calls is the iGod. The world ate it up. Gates and Co. decides to do the same with Zune and people accused Microsoft of thinking they're too stupid to not see through such a ruse.

Here at iSmashPhone. Enjoy!

Remember, tomorrow is Movie Friday! Submissions are appreciated or you get what I give you from Youtube!

Is Mobile Gaming Set for Big Changes?

For the last few days, I've been playing one game on the iPhone.  Cube Runner.  Nothing intricate about the game.  with your ship in a 3D environment, you're moving forward trying to dodge, that's right, cubes.  Easy.  Zero learn curve.  The graphic is as spartan as it get.  But extremely addictive.

For folks like myself, casual gamers, smartphone based games can offer fun in short busts.  For any developers out there consider getting into the market, 2009 could be a great time to do it.  Wireless networks primed to be opened up and gamers may be able to download games without having to get the approval of wireless providers.

This will become easier once platforms like Windows Mobile and Android sets up shop with their own download store.  One glanced at the iTunes' popular download list is proof enough that if there is a great delivery system, users will swarm towards it.  Currently games occupy eleven of the top twenty paid downloads.

For dedicated gaming platforms like the PSP and Nintendo DS, no one should be surprised to see gaming stores of their own for online downloads.  Whether the game is as simple as Cube Runner (free but I would have easily paid $5 for it) or Mario Kart, easy access can mean a lot more sales.

Folks can forget about trying to predict which game system will dominate and whether what the market share is going to look like 5 years from now.  It will not be a while until the portable gaming systems, DS and PSP, will merge with the smartphone gaming market.

Impact:  Developers can know with certainly that the doors to these mobile devices have opened or will open up soon.  For gamers, choices and great prices.  So, enjoy and let the hardware companies court you better systems and pricing.

Note:  Gizmodo reported Sega (developer of Super Monkey Ball for the iPhone) claimed iPhone is Dreamcast.  Not to bad.  Yup, 2009 will be a great year for mobile warriors/gamers.

Google App for iPhone - It's Okay

When many folks were asking what was going on with Steve Jobs, I was wondering what was going on with Google.

At least Jobs showed.  Google, lauded as a great mobile partner in the past, was not highlighted at all.  Upon seeing and using the Google Mobile App, I know why.  It's a decent app by all means but coming from a company like Google, I had expected much more.

GMA allows a one click access to all of Google's iPhone friendly apps like mail, reader, and gTalk.  Quick search for contacts on your iPhone functions adequately.

The best part of the apps is the suggestions it offers during Googling.  This feature alone saved GMA from two stars and gave it an average of three stars on iTunes.

There is so much more Google can do with the app.  I don't like having to use GMA and be made to go go to Safari just to access gTalk or Mail.  I am able to grasp a reason why Google want to do this in trying to maintain its image as a true Web 2.0 company.  Maybe but I don't buy it.

I wonder if Google put out the app on the iPhone as a test bed for what we're likely to see much more of on Android.  As one review called GMA a "Google Desktop" for the iPhone.

Conclusion:  GMA is a good app but falls short of what Google is capable of.  Apple has made a very easy iPhone developer environment and  it does seem like Google did more than sent a couple of guys to work on this.  Maybe once Google is finished getting Android out the door, we'll see one or two of Google's Web services integrated into GMA.

I will take Google at its word that GMA is primarly a search app and that the rest of Google's great iPhone apps will only accessible only on Safari.  As a search app, it deserves 4 stars, with an asterisk.  That asterisk is that we want to see more in the next version.

Note:   I hope an enterprising independent developer can bring those Google services and others like Yahoo or Microsoft's Mesh together into one Swiss Knife app.  Is that possible?

Another note:  Back to Android, it'll be interested to see how Google will balance the two platforms.  Seriously, one word from Google about how Android is better or more open than Apple's offering, dude, given the egos at play here...personally, I love to see that happen.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cyber Threats: Just Some of the Time?

I recently read a WSJ report, about cyber security in light of the Olympics.  For some traveling to Beijing for the games, as spectators or those seeking business opportunities, they may take with them laptops, smartphones, or digital storage media.  Pay attention.

WSJ reported that a debate had taken place whether to warn the public of the danger posed by Chinese hackers.  Let me put the debate to rest.  I'll do it here and now.  Okay, it's public.  But shouldn't cyber security be a year round threat and not just during the Olympics in China?

And it's not just Chinese hackers we need to be wary of.  How about being wary of hackers in general?  Despite the paralysis suffered by the US government on this issue, the Department of Homeland Security has issued warnings of cyber threats against mobile workers who travel overseas.  Because the threat was not specific, this alert was not made public.  


The WSJ article came out before it was made public of the IOC's deal with the organizers of the Beijing Games to allow the Chinese government to implement Internet censorship it deemed not related to the Olympics, cutting off thousands of journalists off at the knees.  

Somtimes bloggers to reprint materials from other sources, I have reservations about copyright ownership.  So I will offer links to pertinent information instead of posting the relevant information here.  I apologize for the inconvience :)

I've included the Homeland Security assessment here.  I hope WSJ will make this perpetually available to the general public.  It is a 3-page PDF file that described key finds as follows:  foreign powers targeting Americans traveling abroad with the goal of fathering "economic, military and political information".  Essentially, viruses, trojan horses, or exploitations of any security holes will be pursued to that end.  Even trickery.  

I think the report is right in not mention any specific foreign state or body that poses as a threat.  This is not just a matter of the Olympics because cyber security threats exist all year around all over the world.  Here are the highlights of the report:
  • Travelers are to assume that they will be unable to protect their data that they may transmit over the Internet.
  • Expect no privacy.  You're always a potential target.
  • Expect all transmission to be intercepted.  
  • Expect viruses, malware, and spyware to be installed at all ports of electronic access - cafes, hotels, etc.  And expect all portal media to be infected if they were connected to to these access points.  
  • Assume foreign authorities may find an excuse for inspections of laptops or portal media for the sole purpose of copying information.  
I stated those main points to highlight what a mobile worker could be up against.  The later part of the report, "protective measures", offer tips on what to do to avoid being a victim of information theft.  The gist of the report recommendation is this:  use common sense.  
  • If you don't have to bring your laptop overseas, leave it at home. 
  • Assume your portal media is infected with malicious software.  Plug it into your network back home can make things worse.
  • Use the best encryption available to you to protect your data.  
While I generally believe in our government's ability to provide for the common defense and against terrorism, I believe it our duty to be pro-active in matters where it's within our control.  I hope the information and guidelines help you protect your data whether you're a mobile warrior in the private or public sector.


The US Cyber Consequences Unit also offered a similar guideline to protect your data.  They help you assess whether you are a potential target of cyber theft, how to do a presentation without a laptop, and how best to secure your portable devices.  Also for your consideration:


I understand the sensitive geopolitical nature of making such an announcement so close to the Games.  I'll leave the politics to the politicians.  Luckily for the rest of us, we don't have to worry about that.  

Mac-iPhone Update for July 30, 2008

On Onxo today, we started the day talking about some iPhone issues with the back cover cracking and some disaster preparation initiative for gadget lovers we like to get going.

The iPhone crack is where we'll begin.  A few of the online media has picked up on it but we won't know for days if this is a widespread issue.  As always, it's prudent to wait a couple of weeks before getting Apple products.  Or gadgets from any other companies.  Waiting for the initial run to get through the stores and allow the manufacturers to work through kinks can save gadget lovers a lot of heartache.

iPhone/iPod Update:

  • We reviewed Steps this morning after the US News and World Report gave it a bad rap.  Actually a lot of reviewers did the same.  I'm a bit more forgiving.  This is the first batch of apps, folks.  As far as I'm concerned, everything is still being beta tested.  Just ask Apple about MobileMe.  But $1.99 is a bit much for something that has only has only a 75-80% accuracy rate.
  • ARM bragged about a big scoop in licensing with a major mobile device maker.  Speculations are abound that it's Apple.  The key clue is that this particular handset maker wants control over all components of its designs.  I don't know.  It really can anyone.
  • Demands for the iPhone in Canada's Rogers has lead to a price cut in Nokia's N95.  Great win for the consumers.  Data access rates and limitation with Rogers is still an outrage.  
  • Appleinsider is reporting Apple telling its resellers of shortages and to stock up for the next few weeks.  This includes everything except the MBA.  4 weeks worth of products.  Yup, September looks to be when Apple will be freshing its line of Macbooks and iPods.  Don't be surprised if we get a price cut but nothing on this mysterious new device that will cause Apple margins in 2009.  
Other Apple/Mac Related News:
  • The new X-Files movie was edited using Final Cut Pro.  Read what they think of using a Mac.
  • Apple is said to be over the MobileMe fiasco.  One of our iPhones, unlocked, is still not getting push mail.  Is it because it's running on T-Zone?
  • See above in iPhone/iPod Update section for Macbook update.

Mobile Update for July 30, 2008

On Onxo today, we started the day talking about some iPhone issues with the back cover cracking and some disaster preparation initiative for gadget lovers we like to get going.

Biggest news of the day is T-Mobile potentially turning on their 3G network nationally on October 1.  It's not difficult to imagine readers picturing an engineer at T-Mobile turning a switch from the "off" position to "on".  In all likelihood, 3G waves have been going through the air for a while and Oct 1 is when T-Mobile will make the official announcement.

Mobile Gadgets:

  • Blackberry Sync has a walk through for the BB Kickstart.  This is an EDGE phone so forget thinking about using it with the T-Mobile 3G network.  Wow, it feels good say that.  I'm going to say it again.  T-Mobile 3G network.  Nice.  
  • The Sprint Instinct was graced with a firmware update.  Now it's an iPhone killer.  
  • Garmin's Nuvifone will not be available for Christmas.  2009.
  • Yesterday, we wondered if we'll ever see a $200 Kindle.  Today, Mobileread is spectulating about Kindle 2 features.  I like how they think.
  • Travel Journal is a new service to track cell phone movements.  Not for Big Brother only.  This will help travelers with cell phones create a log of where they been completely with text messages and images.  I did a similar thing over the weekend with my iPhone and the Twinkle app.  This is better if it works as advertised.
Mobile Issues:
  • IOC made a deal with the Beijing government by allowing censorship mechanism to assert their definition of free press on foreign journalists.  Follow up read at Ars technica.
  • Increase radio frequency emitted by mobile devices could be causing childhood behavioral changes.

T-Mobile and 3G: Available Starting October 1, 2008

For the loyal T-Mobile subscribers who have been caught in the slow Internet lanes all these years while your buddies with Verizon and Sprint were moving along the 3G lanes with their fancy phones, well, wait no longer.

Actually, just a bit more. Until Oct 1.  According to a flyer posted on the door what I assumed to be a T-Mobile store, is an announcement of 3G availability the first of October.  If I know my geography, I see LA with one of those blue markers.  The rest of you mobile warriors can fight over the other twenty-three on the poster.

TmoNews broke the news today and they've also got a list of pending 3G cities to be graced by T-Mobile in October.  For the majority of the country not covered by 3G, I doubt you're missing much at this early stage of deployment.  I've got T-Zone on my first gen iPhone.  It's plenty fast for daily mobile work and, in some speed tests, 3G is not that much faster than EDGE.  At least not two or three times faster.  
Furthermore, based on the 3G phones that may be available from T-Mobile, well, let's just say they better have some sweet smartphones to use on the 3G network.  Android, anyone?


Note:  Is that salt shakers next to the poster?  Man, I hope this isn't a Photoshop hoax.  If it is, it'll go down as one of the cruelest jokes I've ever seen played on mobile users.

IOC Gets Gold for Censorship (Mobile Users Beware)

This may be of some interest to mobile workers/users who will venture to China this summer for the Olympics. Heck, for anyone one who goes there. We know there is major Internet censorship and monitoring going on in China. No one should be shocked by this. Today, the International Olympic Committee, the IOC, has admitted to a deal with the Chinese government, allow it block sensitive materials and sites, thereby hindering reporting and denying free press that was promised by Beijing in order to get the Olymics. To fight the IOC's duplicity and Beijing's attempts at blocking free press, today, Reporters Without Borders have published a guideline to help jounralists get around firewalls and other censorship mechanisms. Here are some relevant sites:
  • Reporters Without Borders http://www.rsf.org/
  • Guideline to help circumvent censorship mechanisms for the Beijing Games
  • IOC - I wonder how much censorship goes on there as well. Of course, not a word of this duplicity is mentioned.
In the US, we'll hear more about this but we can bet GE is monitoring the situation in such a way that will not do free press any service (NBC is the broadcaster for the Games which starts in little more than week).

Note: I'm just a regular guy but from where I'm sitting, the Olympics has become a sham. I applaud the athletes and the spirit of the Games but by even having the Olympics in China stinks of politics and greed. For the IOC, it's all about $$$.

For the record, my beef here isnt' with the good folks of Chinese. Heck, it's not even with the Chinese government. It's with the IOC. Kudos to MSNBC for having the guts to report this.

UPDATE: Arstechnica has another angle here and issues faced by reporters in Beijing.  A must read.

Nuvifone Pushed Back to 2009

Originally slated for a 3Q release is now delayed until 2009 (more at GPS Tracklog).  We're assuming Q1 of 2009.  Oh, sorry, We're talking about the Nuvifone from Garmin.
If you're not familiar with the Nuvifone, think of the iPhone where Apple produced a great music player and added web and phone feature onto it.  Multi-touch and other stuff too.  In this case, Garmin who makes GPS devices is now adding phone and smartphone features into a GPS device.



For the best GPS devices, you can't go wrong with Garmin and upon hearing this, I was blown away.  At the time of announcement, the iPhone lacked GPS functionality.  Even now, the iPhone 3G's GPS function is, well, not much to speak of.  So, what's to get exited about?



  • 3.5 inch LCD touchscreen.

  • First rate GPS functionality and sofware.

  • 3.5G standard for browsing, chatting, e-mail.

  • Built-in Google search and easy sharing of photo to Panoramio (Google) picture sharing site.

  • Sleek sexy form factor.

  • Easy access "Where am I?" feature to quickly locate where one is.

  • Music/video player.



While all these features may seem standard, something we've all seen on other phones, I'm wagering Garmin isn't release it for the sake of just release a phone.  Here is the press release from January 30, 2008.  This delay'll give you time to save up for it.  I'm reading it can cost $500, up to $800.









Here's my fear:  Vaporware.  Having said that, Garmin is seeing a lot of GPS competition from the smartphone crowd.  It has to push back.  Here's hoping the delay isn't simply a provider issue but something more substantial.

Crack in the iPhone Case

I was concerned about the plastic cracking when I found out the iPhone 3G switching over to the plastic shell from the aluminum back for the iPhone 2.5G.  It has reportedly begin to happen (MacNN).


No one knows how widespread this issue is or how it happened at this point, we'll have to wait and see just how this will turn out.  Engadget has some close-ups of actual cracks.


Love to hear from anyone who has this happen to their iPhones or head on over to MacRumor's forums for more information from users.  


Note:  Will follow up.  Posts on other mobile devices will come soon enough.  We've not turned into another iPhone-centric site.  Whether you're a fan of Apple or not, iPhone has an incredible device.  We will focus more on mobile devices just as soon as they reach users such as yourself and not just the media.  I reckon we'll have more information starting in September as we get closer to new Blackberry, Sony, and Android releases.  And new iPods...and, maybe, the new Macbook Touch...hmm...

Instant Messaging: Goober Tries It All

I've wonder what would MacGyver carry as his mobile device of choice.  I'm guessing he's more of a Blackberry or Nokia E71 type of type.  the iPhone may have too much finesse for him.



How about an IM program?  I'm guess he'll go with Trillian on the PC and Adium on the Mac.  But now, Goober could be just the thing our mild-mannered super agent, part-time hockey player, is looking for.



Here are some highlights of what Goober offers.  For the rest, I'm gonna make you go over to Techcrunch for the excellent preview.  Plus, there's extra extra they're offering if you move fast.  Remember, this is still in beta.



  • Support for other IM protocols

  • SMS, VOIP, widget system - e-mailing, ads

  • User will have to create an account, cannot just get into the IM features (Trillian, Adium, and most other IM programs do not require this step.  Probably there to hook the user into using other paid services.

  • Integrated Internet radio and video streams.

  • No support for AIM/gTalk yet.  I don't think I saw Yahoo either.

  • Windows version only with a Mac client forthcoming - iPhone too, I hope.  

The value for an application like Goober is that instead of having five different applications open for e-mailing, IM, and entertainment, you have only one:  Goober.  Try it and see if it's your cup of tea.




Note:  I already had a crash and the SMS activation request is like 20 minutes over due.  Still waiting.



A commentator on TC suggested digsby.  For those not wanting to go through a beta program, digsby is robust enough and supports more IM protocol than Goober right now.

Steps: Pedometer for iPhone/iPod Touch Users

Yesterday, I mentioned the US News and World Report's great article on five health apps that they think would be great for health conscious iPhone users.



You should read the article and see what they think work for them.  Some of them are simple health information apps and does nothing to help foster healthy living for mobile i-device warriors.  For others who do not have an iPhone or iPod Touch, I encourage you to continue reading and appreciate any comments because eventually you may be exposed to a device with an accelerometer that will offer this:





Steps (use this link to go to the website - the other link takes you to the iTunes App Store) is a very simple pedometer.   Maybe the accuracy of Steps does not warrant $2.  It would be more palpable at $1, or free.  







After downloading and installing on my iPhone, I started walking around my house.  It result?  It was off by 50% when I held it in my hand.  Then I went to the website and it recommended that "To ensure the best accuracy, it is recommended to put your iPhone or iPod touch in your pants' front pocket or wear it at your waist. Steps also needs your device to remain unlocked."





So after putting in my pocket, and doing the same thing, the result was much closer to the actual number of steps.  In one test, it was off by 12 steps out of 60 steps.  Then at a faster face, it was about 10% short of 50-ish steps I took.





In my next test, tried it on my lateral trainer (think Susan Summers).  It was not accurate at all.  But then I'm not sure it was made for that.  I had my mom tried it on her iPhone and margin of error was 5%.  In my short jog around the block, I recorded an accuracy of 85%.  





There is an update to version 1.1 on the iTunes App Store.  I wonder if it'll be accurate now for early adopters of the app.  





Conclusion:  I bought it at $2 strictly to review a health app that I think has a lot of potential.  Anyway, for convenience sake, it is a good buy.  Just grab it off the app store and off you go within a couple of minutes.  If you're looking for something more accurate, I hope Edovia will work on it some more and offer it as a free update to version 1.0 adopters.  





One thing a user said in the review was that the iPhone was not able to allow using Steps at the same time with iTunes.  I was able to but I had upgraded to version 1.1.  My mom loves it after using it for a walk already.





Do I recommend buying this?  Maybe it's not accurate enough to be worth $1.99 but let's hope there are forthcoming upgrades from the publisher.  But it is accurate enough to get rough estimates based on my test results.  I'll post more information when I go for a 5-mile run later this week.  Besides, if it short changes you, is it not a plus that you have to run or walk longer to reach your goal?  





Note:  A true pedometer is coming from Apple.  It's just something we can expect from Nike/Apple.  I doubt Apple will punish us for being iPhone or Touch adopters.  Then again, I can see Steve Jobs say "just get an iPod nano if you want Nike+".  

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mac-iPhone Mobile Update For July 29, 2008

I've decided to iPhone and Apple-related mobile update in a separate post because I feel with so much information out there covering Apple and the iPhone, other mobile issues/events get lost sometimes.  


Other Onxo mobile updates are also given extensive attention.  


Now today iPhone/iPod update:

  • The iPhone saw a lot of apps release today.  Notably is Palringo's IM client that works with different IM services like AIM, Yahoo, iChat, and Google.  I tried it for a bit today.  It'll have to do until Adium/Tillian is available.  I don't understand the need for users to create an account just to starting the app.
  • TUAW is reporting that employees at Apple Store are issuing placeholders to customers who are pre-qualified for the iPhone 3G.  This placeholder allows the potential customer to use it whenever they want so they can avoid waiting in line at that moment and chose to wait in line at another time of their choosing.
  • Check out the Dynolocious Car Performace Meter App that lets you recording your driving data.  Honestly, I know nothing about cars other than that it needs gas and oil change from time to time.  Gizmodo will tell you more.  Having said that, I will try, and by try, I mean buy, this app as I find it very innovative use of the iPhone's accelerometer.  
  • You're likely used your iPhone's remote app to control your iTunes.  You like?  Well, how about using it to control your Mac?  Find out more here.
  • Multiple sites are reporting a new designation for the iPod Touch which translates to new iPhone Touch.  It's now an annual ritual in Sept/Oct to expect new iPod refreshes.  Which bring us to iLounge's report on the next iPod nano.  If true, the iPod Nano will look more like the 2nd Nano with an elongated screen to allow landscrape video viewing.  It is as the nano should have been last year.  I love my 3rd Nano but I would have liked  to have the wide-screen.  I wonder what'll happen with the iPod Classic?  Bigger drive?  
  • US News issued their 5 apps that can help you live longer or improve your health.  
In other Apple/Mobile news:
  • You're likely used your iPhone's remote app to control your iTunes.  You like?  Well, how about using it to control your Mac?  Find out more here.  

  • Just how HP, Intel, and Yahoo got together to form the Cloud Computing Test Bed is beyond me.  While Apple is trying to figure out MobileMe, the trio here is looking to expand beyond any kind of cloud computing that is available today in this research project.  With six data centers (one to four thousand computers each) around the world, researchers will conduct studies "in areas of intelligent infrastructure and dynamic cloud services".  (I felt this bears repeat in this section of the update.)
  • Finally someone who agrees with Onxo regarding the improbability of Apple using non-Intel chipsets in the next generation of Macbooks.  
  • At a Techcrunch Mobile Web Wars event, executives held a discussion regarding mobile Internet and applications.  The conversation turned iPhone-centric much to the chagrin of executives of rival companies.  Read how S60's VP got his ass handed to him.

Mobile Update for July 29, 2008

We had a bit of excitement in Los Angeles today with a 5.4 (or 5.8, depends on who you listen to).  Now to today's update!

Mobile Devices:

  • T-Mobile will be introducing the Blackberry Curve Sunset on August 4th.  Originally, we were suppose to see it in store this week.  AS for Bold?  We're going to see it on AT and T before we see it on T-Mobile.  
  • Check out a review for Samsung Omnia (Crunchgear).  More pictures at Mobility Today.  I'm not too keen on using a stylus anymore.  Those years with the Palm PDAs and Axims and scratched screens.

  • Speaking of new devices, Nokia's E71 is now availabe for purchase.  $500 unlocked.  That's $100 cheaper than when the iPhone 8GB went on sale.  You'll feel better about getting it then.  The Wired went as far as to call it a bone fide iPhone killer. But ooooh, not a Blackberry killer.  

  • And finally some PALM NEWS!!!  WOOHOO!  Two million Centros sold to-date.  Palm CEO nterview here with CNBC.
  • Also, Sony looks to get back into the headlines with an annoucement soon. Xperia line, anyone?  
Mobile Computing/Issues:

  • In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in Los Angeles, I tried called people to see if they were okay.  We were only 15 miles from the epicenter but we did not know that at the time.  So the shaking felt very strong.  Anyway, I was unable to get through to anyone.  However, I was able to twitter, IM, and e-mail folks.  Something to keep in mind.  Gizmodo also reports that SMS was working.
  • We had an article on multi-touch potential with a demo using an iPhone and a Macbook.  Then we have Microsoft showing off the Surface Sphere.  Very, very impressive.  Nevertheless as we've said, we like to see something for mobile users first.  Not hotels and bars.  

  • Just how HP, Intel, and Yahoo got together to form the Cloud Computing Test Bed is beyond me.  While Apple is trying to figure out MobileMe, the trio here is looking to expand beyond any kind of cloud computing that is available today in this research project.  With six data centers (one to four thousand computers each) around the world, researchers will conduct studies "in areas of intelligent infrastructure and dynamic cloud services".  
Note:  The Palm Centro is not for me.  I know what an iPhone is capable of.  That is not to say the Centro is not a good device.  For those new to the smartphone scene, the Centro is a great device for folks to cut their teeth on.  And as a Palm fan, I love to see the company that made PDA affordable (Newton great also had its faults - particularly its price) thrive.  Maybe I've just got a soft spot for the underdog.  Maybe it's the loyal Palm fans like myself who are still with the company.

Read Palmcenter's analysis of Ed Colligan's interview on CNBC.  They went through to the meat of the matter.  Including the lack of details regarding next generation devices and the absent OS.  Maybe we'll see a Centro II somewhere down the line.  But is only one way for Palm to innovate its way out of this hole:  that is if Palm innovates its way out.  Fans still hold out hope that Jon Rubinstein.

If you're wondering who he is, think iPod, the baby that help turn Apple around.

Earthquake in LA...5.8 Magnitude

5 Minutes ago, we had an earthquake, 5.8...Chino Hill might be the eqicenter.  30 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles.

MacDailyNews: Macbook DS is right!

Want the future now?  Multi-touch on your laptop?  Well, it may come sooner on the Macbook if anything like this demo is what all the rumors are about, or close to it.  MacDailyNews (it's a very pro-Apple site) is where I first saw this.


Media Computing Group has utilized the MultiTouch.framework (native on Cocoa - a programming framework for the Mac) to create their own multitouch application for demo.  They've also got a youtube video of this.  


What's amazing is that they've got it working through their Macbook and using an iPhone as the multitouch pad.  Honestly, wtih Apple's remote app and Google's Telekinesis, is it too far a stretch to believe the next step is to bring multitouch goodness through the iPhone or 3rd party platform?  And not just for Mac but also Windows Machine?  






Note: This is for iPhone users who runs Windows instead of OS X. If this is released, you're likely to see this work on a Mac only. I'm not a programmer but perhaps some ingenious coder may come to your rescue. I use both OS's so I'm covered.


I've included video of Microsoft's Surface to balance things out.







While it's kind of cool, don't hold your breath if you want to see Surface for $1000 or so for home or office use. If anything, the initial adoption of any kind of touch-based technology will be on trackpads or specifically designed pads.



Here is what kind of got folks started on touch or gesture based user interface. No, I'm not talking Minority Report.




This is even better. Perhaps there was something to those Macbook Touch rumors after all. We'll just have to see.

New Price Point for Kindle?

I don't have concrete information to offer but this morning, my friend Dave, who offered technical tips and material to Onxo, posed a question to me:  Will Kindle break the $200 barrier?

I initially told him I doubt this is likely.  At it's currently price of $359, I can't decided if it's worth it or not.  I like the input ability and the high-speed data access.  

With Amazon being very tight-lipped about their sales figure for their ereader and the number of books sold, there is no evident that it is selling like hot cakes.  At $400 when it was introduced, it was competing with other consumer electronic devices and game platforms during the 2007 Holiday Season.  

If we see another price drop, no matter what kind of spin Jeff Bezos puts on it, it would immediately confirm what some in the media have speculated:  it isn't doing well.  Two price drops in a year?  I can't remember anything getting two price drops in a year.  If we see the price point of $300, that's a quarter off the original price.  

Now, folks might argue that because of the economy of scale and price drops in components, Amazon is now able to offer the Kindle at a more consumer-friendly price point (Dave, I love to see $200 but...).  I hope these good folks are right.  But if they were, Bezos and allied publishers would be announcing the skyrocketing ebooks sales.  To date, that has not happen.  At the D6 Conference, Bezos said Kindle sold more than 6% of 125K available Kindle titles that is also available on Amazon's regular book store.  It's a good spin.  If not read correctly, one would have thought "wow, 6% of Amazon book sales!"

How can we get to $200?  Well, subscription.  No.  Not like Napster.  I'm not talking about renting the books.  I'm talking about a subscription model akin to Audible.  If you're not familiar with Audible.com, you can buy audiobooks in a book by book basis.

At times, Audible offer a $100 subsidy if you sign up for two ebooks at about $20 a month for a year, that entitles you to two audiobooks a month.  I have done that for two years now and it has helped me subsidize my iPod addiction and saved me $200.  Can this model work for Kindle?  I don't see why not.  For $20 a month for a year, you get a book or newspaper/magazine subscription for a year and the Kindle will cost you $75-$100 less upfront.  For 18 months, you can get two books and a newspaper/magazine subscription every month and you save $100 off a Kindle.  

So, if Amazon stays with at the current price point, we can see the Kindle cost reduced to the $259-$284 range.  Best scenario is Amazon cutting the price from $359 to $300.  Then this is there we see $200-$225 per Kindle.  

New Features?  

What's more important for Kindle is what new features will it have?  Amazon can increase sales if certain wireless apps or features are added.  One of the original complaints against the Kindle was limitation put on it with such a robust wireless access.  I think I speak for all mobile warriors in saying that having more PDA features could go a long way in getting people to take another look at Kindle.  

The question for me is the Kindle book store.  The store is robust enough to easy download of ebooks the reader buys.  Amazon will not change this model beyond books for a while.  If it does and they failed miserably, well, let's not go there.  Perhaps one day, we can a wireless store with offerings beyond just books.
  • Mp3 download.  It isn't a leap from books.  They already have a store.  Having a mobile device tethered (not tied since it is after all DRM-free) to the store a la iTunes/iPod could increase sales of both music and Kindle.  
  • Moving beyond music and books, it may one day offer its own app store.  Do you think when Apple started offering games for the iPods, it was a precursor and laying the groundwork for the future app store?  Amazon falls into the danger of rushing into things and making their online offers here difficult to access and end up turning off users.
There could be other features we may see in the near future.  It would make sense for Amazon to grow the Kindle's ability beyond just reading.  Over time, the ability to participate in discussion groups on the books is a natural evolution for Kindle.  Why waste the wireless connection.  More than that, readers can pose questions and comments about sections of a book or topic within the book they're reading.  

Social apps are allowing interaction will likely help foster sales of books.  I think it's something publishers and authors will go for.


Increasing Kindle Sales Versus Increasing Ebook Sales

In the Audible model I mentioned to reduce the price of Kindle down to $200, there is a fine balance.  Publishers want to sell books and Amazon wants to sell Kindles.  With costs dropping yearly on electonic components, there could be a number that all parties involved can agree upon.  

People do read.  But to spend $359 on a device just to start reading.  No thanks.  But at a subsidized price of $200 Kindle and wireless apps, I would not think twice about ordering one.


Note:  I've only glanced at a Kindle from a distant.  I love to get my hands on one.  Just as there are Powerbook or XO user groups, there are also Kindle user groups.  Consider finding one and go take a look at it.  Play with it if the owner(s) let you and then decide for yourself.  

Here is where you can start - See a Kindle In Your City

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mobile Entertainment - Ebooks (Free!)

I hope I didn't mislead when you read the word "free".  Well, it really depends on what you're looking for.



If you're looking for the latest modern works, then my deepest apology.  However, if you're looking for great works whose copyright have expired (at the very least, in the United States), then let me introduce you to the Gutenberg Project.  If you already know a bit about it, I hope there's something in it for you as well.





The Gutenberg Project is one of the hidden treasures of the Internet.  With over twenty-five thousand books, they are free for you to download.  You can download them as html or txt.  There is also an option to download entire CDs or DVDs worth of some of the best work in literary history.



You can read the interesting history behind the project and about the man, Michael Hart, who started it all in 1971.  The project consists the hard labor of volunteers who worked tireless to make this possible.  At the rate of 50 books a week added to the collection, foreign books are also being added (French, German, Chinese).



Along with its international affliates, there are over one hundred thousand books available for your mobile devices.  We're not going to find  Clancy's Jack Ryan but we'll be able to join Tom Sawyer through his adventures.



For me, the original dynamic duo, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. James Watson lives in my iPhone, Zire 72, and on my iDisk where I am always welcomed at 221B Baker Street.



I highly recommend giving it a try.  Mark Twain.  Burroughs.  Dickens.  A bit of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells for you scifi buffs.  And if you like it very much, you can get involved as a volunteer or make a small donation.



I hope you enjoy it.  Ah...it's like traveling back to high school English during your junior year again.  I suppose it's one way to relive high school again :)



Note:  Besides being able to download all the works from GP, there are now audiobooks available as well.  I also recently discovered that they've got digital music sheets as well.

Mobile Update for July 28, 2008

Even as Apple comes clean, there are still a lot of venting going on. A few honorable mentions: David Pogue on Apple coming clean. Apparently, Apple's blog was the first time it had used the words "pain" and "suffering" in describing it's own product. Marketwatch's take was more analytical regarding the importance of the debacle, essentially, with Apple failing to address the scale of the business market. More articles on MobileMe is well documented at Macsurfer.

With Apple sorting things out, Verizon said it's doing just fine as it reported a 12% increase in quarterly profit. It outpaced AT&T by gaining 200K new customers dispite the success of the iPhone 3G launch. Verizon believed more of its customers bought smartphones due to the popularity of the iPhone. Not too shabby. Wireless is where the future is. Earlier this year, it won the rights to the 700Mhz spectrum.

Finally, we hear a bit from Michael Dell on Dell working on smartphones (slow news day) . It is really a rumor after all? When Dell released their line of mobile devices based on Windows CE, I jumped at it. Now, the question is not if Dell is going to enter the smartphone market but what OS they will use. I'm betting on Android. If I remember correctly, Dell's Axim were very competitive but their exit from the PDA market showed that it was not enough to compete in the market. Maybe a different OS might just be what Dell needs. I honestly do not Dell pouring any of their cash reserve into doing something different. Dell computers are fine for daily work but, for the most part, they're followers, not leaders. (Complete interview at Gigaom. Very good read.)

Back to mobile computing a bit. Everyone is waiting for new laptops based on Intel's Centrino 2 chips and the Montvina chipsets. Personally, I'm waiting for benchmarks on the X4500 IGP. Not so for the pending Macbook refresh from Apple.

Appleinsider is claiming Apple could be looking to use chipsets made by someone else other than Intel everyone is listed: AMD, Nvidia, Via. For a while now, Apple fans have been clamoring for Apple to use AMD chips. Perhaps the wound from the PC war is deeper than we'd expect. However, AMD's Puma mobile platform may make a good Macbook platform and allow Apple to lower prices.

I'm putting this in the doubtful column. It's not as if Macbooks aren't doing well, just the opposite. Intel offers a complete package. And if you look at the market carefully, I've yet to see a Iaptop with Intel CPU and not use Intel chipsets for consumer class laptops. If anything, the rumor would apply more to the Macbook Touch than the actual Macbook lines. If you think about it, using a totally new chipset makes more sense on an entirely new product than a proven source of revenue. If it ain't broke so goes the saying. More rumors here. Happy reading if you're into this sort of thing.

The mobile device front is kind of quite today. But the Blackberry Bold has some confirmed launch dates. Speculations and rumors of the Thunder are increasing as Blackberry fans wait for its release. I think Blackberry fans are just a few years from rivaling Apple fans in fanaticism.

Mobile Tip: iCal And Google Calendar Can Now Synch

One of the biggest hang-up for Mac users of both iCal And Google Calendar is the ability to to synch the two together. A famous cartoon character once said, "it's unpossible". Until now. (Thanks to Lifehacker.)

Google now has CalDAV support, enabling synching with Apple's iCal, the default calendar program on OS X. CalDAV, according to Wiki, is an scheduling standard that allows information to be shared on a remote server.

According to Mozilla.org, their calendar also support CalDAV. One note of interest is that iCal will overwrite data from other calendars. I'll find out if this is the case with Google Calendar as well.

(Mozilla: "...iCal is currently not capable of cooperatively editing a calendar file on a webDAV or ftp server. iCal will overwrite any changes made from a different application (like Sunbird or Lightning) on such a file.)

The instructions appear to be straightforward and easy to set up. I'll try it when I get a chance tonight. If I can get it to work, I'm willing to render aid if needed it. If you find Google's instructions daunting, there is always Calgoo Calendar, now free.

Note: Google Calendar already syncs with Outlook.

Mobile Tip: Just Keep An Eye On Your Mobile Device At All Time!

I came across an article a few weeks ago that truly blew me away. 12,000 Laptops are last each week, 10% of that at LAX alone. That comes out to about 650K laptops that are lost nationally. some eventually managed to reclaim it. Still that is a staggering number. (There are some who dispute this number. Even if the number gets revised lower, say half, that's still a lot of laptops lost no matter how you try to spin the numbers.)

Then again, should we really be surprised by this? A couple of years ago, an IRS laptop with employee information was lost. 12,000 Commerce laptops are unaccounted for. These are the ones we know about. The Register has information in UK's lost/stolen laptop escapades. Whether it's the government, credit bureaus, or companies that are so careless and lax with our data, we should do what we can by protecting ourselves. We must do more to protect ourselves.

First let's stop losing laptops at airports. Here's an idea. If half of you reading this are Star Trek or other science fiction fans, you'll know what it means when the sensor officer yells out "proximity alert!" means.

Maybe someone can create a wireless tethering device. Instead of a collision warning, a proximity alarm will go off when you are too far from your laptop for a certain period of time. You will have to carry a wireless device though. It can work through bluetooth or infrared.

This alert mechanism can be on the laptop or the bag carrying the laptop. As a mobile warrior, your mobile device is your most important asset. This way, you will always know when you're too far from your laptop or your laptop is being carried away from you.

What else can be done? Computer bag manufacturers are designing airport friendly laptops that can go through the x-ray machines without you having to remove the laptop from the carrier.

The most natural thing to do is to keep an eye on your laptop at all time. No matter if you're at the security checkpoints at airports or Starbucks, it's just a prudent thing to do.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mobility Tip: Trust Your HD and Flashdrive (Apple Shows Us Why Cloud Not Ready Yet)

About a year ago, I had a discussion with a friend who worked at a major Internet portal regarding the future of web services. We both agreed that future Internet activities involves the user storing more data in the cloud than locally on a storage media like hard drives.

However, I argued that while that is the trend, there are instances when the user would be wise to make sure he or she has local access to pertinent files. Why? One, Internet access in the United States is near ubiquitous but not entirely ubiquitous. Then there's also security. There will always be security issues. Plus, there is the continuing mindset of control over one's data.

Well, Apple's cloud transition (maybe you've heard), for the last couple of weeks, gave me something serious to think about. I did not imagine that it would be the cloud that would be the source of disconnect between the user and the data. For a mega-corp who wants users to trust them with our data, users would expect redundancy upon redundancy to protect users against server and connection failures.

The Internet is still loaded with posts and articles about the pains of users still with no access to their e-mails and sporadic services. I bet a lot of users now wished they had downloaded their files and e-mails locally.

Perhaps, we will one day do our all computing online. The march towards that utopian world is happening but very slowly. For the time being, I will be downloading my e-mails and backing up my online files on a regular basis for a long time to come.

What have I been doing to protect my interests? Ironically, Apple who is the source of the current crop of Internet pain is also the answer. With Time Machine (a backup solution built into their latest OS, Leopard), it has made my life easier. Since I only upgraded to Leopard on my workhorse Powerbook, timing could not have been better. Honestly, I won't know for days until I find out if I am among those affected by the MobileMe transition.

Time Machine makes regular backups of your files to an external hard drive. That's the gist of it. And it's painless. What other solutions do we have to protect our data?

Well, I don't want to wake up one day and find out I've lost access to Flickr and that they are agressively working on restoring service. DVD burners and DVD media are relatively cheap these days. It's a prudent investment. An added bonus to this solution is that it can also free up your hard drive space if you also back up movies, music, and podcasts that you don't often use. We're talking lots of GB here.

Lastly, flash drives. If you're talking about tax files, e-mails, or special projects you're working on (like a book), it's indispensable. Open up your Sunday newspaper and you are likely to see ads from a couple consumer electronics giants that offer great deals.

If you have any other solutions to protect your data, we would like to hear from you.

UPDATE: A-HA! Just what we're talking about here. Recommended reading on Technology Review: Lost in the Clouds. Expressed just about the same sentiment here at Onxo. And kudos to TR for using that title. I lacked such bravery.

Mobility Weekend: Including the Samsung i8510

Hope everyone had a great weekend.  With the weekend almost over with, I'm a ready for the week.  Who am I kidding.  I'm ready for the next weekend.


Weekend wrap up:  Here at Onxo, we dove a wide range of topics.  We were happy to share our tips with readers maximizing the battery life on their mobile devices.  We mentioned mobile entertainment in the form of Internet radio.  We were surprised by TechCrunch's bold open-source initiative to produce a $200 Internet pad.  


We got into a bit about virus protection for everyone (we finally resolved our virus issue at work).  Then we discussed a bit about what we like to see for mobile warriors:  HomeApp (app environment for mobile apps), iMobile (iLife for mobility), 


Today, I did some field investigation on the effectiveness of mobile apps that allow location-based mini-blogs.  


This leads into what we'll be talking about this week.  Mobile apps.  I'll be doing a review on the different types of mobile apps out there in the iPhone and what we expect to see with version 2.0 of these apps.  Also, where in the world is Google in the mobile realms?  We'll use the Google mobile app as a launching pad for criticism/analysis and what we're likely to see when Android finally launches.  Somewhat connected to this Google issue is mobile blogging (I will try not to badger Google's lack of mobile solution for Blogger).  Also, what is white space?  We'll get into that and its potential and progress so far. 


Other mobile wrap-up:  We were graced with a a video of the Blackberry Bold browsing experience. Most shocking news of all was an analyst declaring a merger beween Symbian and Android. And 15 days and count, Apple has yet to fix the MobileMe issue. And Verizon has reported approved the first device for their open network: a modem. I did know about this earlier in the week. I didn't mention it because...welll, good job, V. Atta, boy.  


Also, look for this baby, Samsung i8510 (More details at Engadget. Press Release.) Some highlights:

  • Runs on Symbian 9.3 - power efficiency, security, fast performace
  • 2.8" screen
  • 8 MEGAPIXEL - that's right 8MP camera; video recording (including video editing)
  • S60 apps, DIVX support, H.263, H.264, WMV, MP4
  • Connection:  WiFi, HSDPA, A-GPS, Bluetooth (supports stereo headset), FM radio
  • Up to 16GB
  • Talk Time:  3G - 300 min, 2.5G - 510 min
  • IMPACT ON MOBILITY:  I think this is going to turn a lot of heads.  A year from now, a lot of these features should be standard on all smartphones.  But will we see that happens?  Let's mark our calendar and see.  The ripple will be felt soon enough.  It's too early to tell if this will be a hit
The i8510 is likely to do well but is not going to burn a lot of pockets.  Why?  Because if you can afford this, you're money in the literal sense.  N95, hey, you had a good run.  Nokia will upgrade you soon enough, we hope.  What sells me on this is the multi-media support.  16GB is nice.  I like to see 32GB soon.  

There will be some who will wonder if this is the next iPhone killer.  Again, I don't understand the obsession with killing off the iPhone.  The king of smartphones is still the Blackberry.  But you can see something that may happen with mobile convergence:  a pure entertainment device on one spectrum as represented by the i8510 and the Blackberry on the other end, particularly with an eye on corporate users.  Somewhere in between, maybe the iPhone?



Here's a video review of the N95 so it will give an idea of what to expect from the i8510.