Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Not Quite HD" Zune HD Means Great News For iPod Touch Fans

Please indulge me while I get into what the Zune HD is. Zune HD is Microsoft's stunning answer to the iPod Touch with a well built body, interface, and OLED screen. There is not much more go to on at this time as a lot of information are still lacking and demos are limited to a special few (Gizmodo has a video).

A few points about the "first" impressions from Gizmodo as mentioned in Appleinsider's post.  I'm looking at my iPod Touch here and I don't see how the Zune HD has a better looking form than than the Touch.  Far from it.  First of the all, the Touch body is has nice curves, no screws, and quite responsive.  The Zune HD as it is now has screws, thicker body, and it's got that original aweful brown hue.

First of all, let's get this out of the way. HD for the Zune HD doesn't mean the video is HD quality.  It's got HD radio.  Done.  Let's move on.

Now, this is the first looks anyone has is very subjective and Microsoft showed them only what they wanted the blogger to report.  Admittedly, Microsoft said this is not an iPod Touch competitor.  Why?  Because it doesn't have an real mobile OS.  Think of it more as the iPod Classic with a screen like the Touch and a browser.

I have a theory on Zune HD.  We know it's dying and Redmond is looking to come up with an answer to the iPhone and the mobile market in general.  Windows Mobile 7 is still 6-9 months off.  Advances with Zune was made in the last year for integration with WM hardware.  A prototype was made and a marketing guy said, "hey, let's sell this prototype until WM with Zune support is out in 2010" and Zune HD was born.  Essentially, this explains why Zune HD is a media player with no real OS.  Plays video, music (HD radio), IE from WM 6.5.  Won't do more.

Now, on to how this is great for iPod fans.  I don't expect Apple to totally revamp the iPod Touch in light of the Zune HD news. Apple has charted a course for its mobile hardware years ahead. If anything, plans might be accelerated. Features that we probably won't see until the 4th or 5th generation iPod Touch might make it into the upcoming iPod Touch in the fall.  At the end of the day, I doubt Cupertino is worried one bit.

As usual, I love competition because we mobile warriors win out in the end.  New features. Bigger storage. Lower prices. So fear not, Apple fans.  Apple needs to be challenged but Jobs and company created this segment of the mobile market.  I don't know what the 3rd gen iPod Touch will have.  Apple's got lots of tricks (innovations) it can pull out when the time is right.

Tons of iPod Touch rumors flying around and I have to say that they all sound plausible.  And even if only half of them turn out to be true, we're in for another very iPod shopping season this winter.

Source: Appleinsider, Engadget Impression, Gizmodo

Note:  Sony has it on their Walkman video play and Microsoft will have it on their Zune "HD" and Apple will put OLED on the iPod Touch.  It's all about product cycles and timing.  

Hulu Desktop for the Mac Available Now

Did you know this?

Hulu made available today their desktop application for Mac and Windows computers to watch video directly without going through the browsers.

Here's the link to get it: Hulu Desktop. Downloading as I'm writing this. Here's a short FAQ I took from their site about this:

How is Hulu Desktop different from
Hulu Desktop runs directly on your computer and does not require a web browser. It provides an alternate way to browse and view content from the Hulu Library.

Is the same content on available on Hulu Desktop?
Generally speaking the Hulu library on will be available through Hulu Desktop. While our goal is to have the same content library available on through all of our distribution channels, we work together with our partners to determine availability of their content on these various channels.

Do I need and account to use Hulu Desktop?
No account is required to use Hulu Desktop, just download and enjoy.

Can I access my profile and queue from Hulu Desktop?
Yes, you may login to Hulu Desktop and access your queue, history, subscriptions, playback quality and closed captioning preferences. Your profile details, privacy settings and friends are not accessible from Hulu Desktop.

Which remote controls work with Hulu Desktop?
Hulu Desktop will work with Apple and Windows Media Center remotes. Remotes that are compatible with Windows XP and Vista can be purchases at most electronics retailers.

What devices support Hulu Desktop?
Hulu Desktop is currently only available for Mac and Windows PCs. Hulu Desktop is not supported on Linux or on consumer electronic devices

Why does Hulu Desktop require me to install Flash?
Hulu Desktop is built on Flash, and thus requires it to be installed to function properly. You will only be prompted to install Flash if you do not have it on your computer, or if you have an older version.

Please click on the link below for:Why do I have to update Hulu Desktop to keep using it? Why can't I continue to use an older version?
Using the latest version of Hulu Desktop will ensure that it will always work. As we make changes over time, older versions of desktop may not be compatible with these versions.

Note: Not exactly a wireless piece of information but there have been chatters about Hulu for the iPhone. Hope that's true and hope it comes to other smartphones and mobile platforms.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Mobile Movie

Hello again. It's that time of the week where we watch our Friday movie clip thing. Again, this tradition started while I was in college, when movie tickets were $3.50 for a matinee and Fox in Westwood, California was (is) one of the better theaters to watch movies.

This week's movie is ABC's upcoming series, V. I've been waiting for this for a long time. It's here. It's looking awesome and I hope V and sci-fi fans will flock to this show and support in next season.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jobs To iPhone Fans "No Rebate"

It's obvious how much Palm loading up with ex-Apple execs and engineers has irked the people currently occupying the halls of Cupertino that is Apple's headquarter. What's not known is just how much Jobs and Co. is willing to let that slip out into the public.

Outside of thinly veiled patent threats surrounding the Pre, there really hasn't been much said about the issue.

Now, most bloggers (and Wall Street analysts with these blogs) believe that Jobs will officially return to work from his medical leave by introducing the next generation of new iPhones. No one knows if it'll be at the WWDC in early June or at a special planned media event.

Whenever or wherever the new iPhones are unveiled, I can totally hear what Steve Jobs is going to say about the prices.

"We have three models. $99. $199. And $299. (PAUSE) And no rebates required," to thunderous applause and laughter. (I don't know if there will be a $99 model. However, given how aggressive Apple wants to grow the iPhone platform, I wouldn't rule it out.)

Note: I wonder if his return will also be marked by declaring what a fine job Tim Cook has done in Jobs' absence and that Tim should keep the CEO title on a permanent basis while Jobs run the show from being the curtain. Sort of a Medvedev-Putin thing.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Slingplayer on EDGE (T-Mobile's T-Zone)

It's done.  Slingplayer is now working with T-Mobile's T-Zone.

But as you probably guessed, it didn't work right out of the  It took some tweaking, frantic calls to Dave the mobile warrior, and persistence to get it finally working.

It simply irks me that in this day and age we are limited by terms dedicated by self-professed wireless overlords who are fine with milking what they can from us with public spectrum.  But that's another issue.  The main issue is that I refuse to abide by those terms.  And I whole-heartedly encourage my fellow mobile warriors to put ATT on notice.  In your own manners.

Now, back to Slingplayer.  I'm putting together a video that I'll have on youtube tonight or tomorrow showing Slingplayer for the iPhone working on the wireless network.  You'll notice it's on T-Mobile and not ATT.  Well, others have gotten Slingplayer to work on ATT's 3G network.

Quality.  How is it?  Well, it works well enough.  The quality, I don't know if you'll be able to see it on the video later today, is adequate for EDGE-like speed.  There a lot of buffer.  A few times, it would buffer every 30 seconds, while other times, I had streaming without any issue.

It's my belief that had ATT not crippled Slingplayer, it is conceivable that Sling would have made efforts for wireless streaming.  Now, that's less likely to be the case.

Oh, and it works fantastically over Wi-Fi.  No buffering at all.

I got Slingplayer working on the iPod Touch a day after it appeared in the App Store.  Piece of cake.  Five stars out of five.  Getting SP to work on the 2G iPhone required that I update the underlying OS to 2.2.1 (it was at 2.2).

My Mac Mini was kept at OS X 10.5.5 and iTunes was version 7.  After downloading iPhone 2.2.1 and the latest QuickPWN (2.2.5) tool, I updated the iPhone and proceeded with the QuickPWN application.  That was when I ran into trouble.  During the process, I was met with the Steve Jobs cartoon and an error message from iTunes.  For those who have unlocked or jail-broken iPhones, some of you might know what I'm talking about.

Luckily, Dave the mobile warrior advised that I download iTunes 8 (latest version) and repeat the process.  It took a while to repeat the process.  Longer than I anticipated.  Eventually, iPhone 2.2.1 was installed on the 2G iPhone without incident.  I quickPWNed it.  After making sure that it worked as advertised, I synced the iPhone including Slingplayer.

Why QuickPWN?  It's to unlocking the iPhone to work with T-Mobile.  Just as important is to install VOIP3G that tricks the iPhone into believing that when it access the Internet, it is going through Wi-Fi when in fact it's going through EDGE (3G access for the 3G iPhone).  But I had issues with it so I downloaded another variant.  I think I used Tricker 3G.  I don't have access to the iPhone as I'm writing this entry but it's a simple enough matter to search for "3G" on Cydia.

After syncing ("synching" is also correct, BTW), I met up with a couple of college friends to watch Star Trek.  It was pretty good.  A bit rushed in my opinion.  It was really made to recruit a new generation of Trekies.  Sorry. Back to the Slingplayer on the iPhone.

Next step was setting up Slingplayer with my account information.  After going through the setup (very simple), the video started to stream.  Love it!

And the added benefit to this is that Skype calling is also enabled.  I had a few calls domestically and no one had any idea that I was call them via EDGE.

So, would I recommended going through this?  Well, that's entirely up to you.  Personally, it was more the rebel in me than anything else.  I just hate being screwed over and I'm sure a lot of you feel the same.  I'm sure there is an enterprising attorney out there now looking to see if ATT violated anti-competitive laws (word on the street is that while ATT is truly concerned about 3G overload, they are also paving way to offer their own TV service) and the FCC looking into this matter.

If you do give this a try, love to hear what you think of the quality.

Friday, May 15, 2009

MacWind Battery Life Benefit From 10.5.7 But Not Macbooks?

Like all Macbook and desktop Mac users, I can't get enough of updates from Apple. New features, stability, and general bragging rights over our Windows peers. With the latest update, 10.5.7, there may be a bit of a surprise for hacintosh netbooks. In particular, for some users who bought a MSI Wind like myself and Dave the mobile warrior who turned them into "MacWinds", are experiencing longer battery lives.

Is that possible?

I'm gonna hold off on that until there are more evidence that this is actually happening. A couple of guys on forums reporting this is nothing. But that may change in the next few days as people give this recent update a try.

The greater issue, if this happens to be true, why aren't there an explosion in reports of longer battery life for Macbooks? Also, why the optimization for MacWinds which Apple doesn't support. Here are possible scenarios.
  • Imagination. All in the heads of these few individuals. Some lucky few are benefiting from this. Perhaps, their installation was flawed to begin with and now that they've updated their MacWinds, things are the way it should have been.
  • Apple fine-tuned the OS update's battery optimization protocols and the benefit is now spreading to the MacWinds. Folks have long observed that the Winds have longer battery life under XP than under OS X. This is not unexpected since the Winds are officially supported under Windows, not as a Mac. The OS update likely tweaked some codes for bugs that coincidentally benefits the Wind.
  • In optimization the iPhone 3.0, the benefits between the mobile platform and the Mac platform are being shared. Why 3.0? Let me ask you this, have you seen an update from Apple for the iPhone or the iPod Touch recently? - but let's not jump to any conclusions here. New iPhones are coming. New iPod Touches in the fall. 3.0 Will benefit old and new hardware. No evidence that unannounced hardware release is imminent. Though I hope I'm wrong...
What's unlikely happening here is that Apple decided to throw the loyal legion of MacWind users a bone. What's also unlikely is that Apple has something in the works that involves Intel's Atom chip for some sort of a netbook. There are tons of speculation brewing along this line. Trust me on this one. There isn't an Apple netbook built along the traditional line coming. Cupertino finds Atom disgusting.

The iPod Touch and the iPhone are Apple's netbooks until a bigger form Touch is introduced. Remember that.

Note: I won't be upgrading to 10.5.7 for a while since I'm happy with the setup on the MacWind at the moment. Dave the mobile warrior said he'll get on it after he has a good idea of the MW's battery life under the current OS regime before upgrading. Perhaps then we'll be able to get to the bottom of this mystery!

Another note: I've yet to update my Macbook with the most recent update. One of the reason is that it's possible Snow Leopard may be only weeks away. The other reason is that even at 10.5.6, my Macbook works just fine. But once I hear anything about better performance or battery life, I'll be all over it. Now, I have to ask myself whether Apple can do more to give us better battery life. I know there are applications that control the speed of CPUs. I imagine at the moment, OS X does it behind the scenes for us. But suppose I'm only writing my...ahem...memoirs and I don't need my Macbook running anywhere near 2.4Ghz when one core running at 1.6Ghz like the Atom will suffice.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

iPhone At WWDC and Palm Pre

I'm a Palm fan. I've been using Palm PDAs since Palm III. Their best work was, I still believe that to be the case, is the Zire 72. However, I'm I bigger fan of Apple fan and I totally love my Apple gears. With that said, I'll gravitate towards whoever provide the best technology along with the best user experience at the end of the day.

With that said, I read an article in Silicon Alley Insider that speculated on whether we'll see the iPhone at the WWDC. Personally, I don't think that'll happen. I'm not even sure we'll hear about the iPhone 3.0. But one of the points they made in favor of the iPhone being shown off at the WWDC is the idea that Pre will be available around the same time as the developer conference and Apple will want to spoil the party.

Insider said "With the Palm Pre on the market as possible temptation, Apple will want to have its new iPhone out ASAP."

It's certainly a valid point. But it's not something Apple will do. I think what Apple may push the iPhone release into late June or July. Why is that? You're wonder if I'm saying Apple is afraid of a little competition.

Not at all. If anything, it shows Apple's confidence in its mobile platform. People with the first generation iPhones will see their contracts ending. Anyone who wants a new mobile device will want to see what Apple has in store while Pre may already be out on the market or is close to it.

By pushing back the launch, Apple puts a few weeks between Pre's release and iPhone's own debut. It freezes the market. And not just for Palm but Windows Mobile phones and Blackberries. More importantly, it freezes some segment of the Pre market.

What does it do? Well, we hear media reports of Palm limiting Pre availability just so that they can call the sellout a win. Three hundred and seventy five thousand units is the Pre figure what Wall Street is floating around. I doubt that's true. Come on, it's Wall Street. Given the "Pre-"hype, that's a pretty low number.

Imagine if Apple manages to make it so that Palm can't even sell out 375,000 Pre's. And all Apple has to do is do nothing. Maybe to spice things up, the Week, Pre is announced for sale or goes on sale, Apple will announce a special iPhone event a couple of weeks later.

What do you think? Palm is playing chess while Apple maybe playing go. Cupertino can win the war without firing even a shot.

Note: Apple is doing major house cleaning with the iPhones. Don't be surprised if Apple to ratchet up a notch or two until the new iPhones are out by lowering prices. Pre will have to go against lowered priced iPhones now and newer and more powerful iPhones later. Not an enviable position to be in. Remember what Jobs has said previously. No umbrella room for their competitors. Ouch.

Crippled Slingplayer to Spur Lawsuits?

I am not an attorney and I know no more about the law than the average mobile warrior. However, can ATT's crippling of iPhone's Sling app end up being in the courts?

I think that is a possible scenario given that Sling's attorneys or iPhone users can make a case out of this. We all know that Slingplayers on other networks and devices work well enough over 3G networks.

ATT's argument against the 3G use with Slingplayer on the iPhone is just utterly nonsense. It's one of those things you say and you struggle to take it back. We'll likely hear more about this in the coming days.

And we've yet to mention net neutrality as a critical issue in all this as more and more people rely on their smartphones and mobile devices like the iPhone.

Note: It may be that ATT's argument that the iPhone isn't a smartphone for legal reasons. We doubt they really believe that but we've argued all along that the iPhone is a mobile device with telephony functions.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tracking Apple's Gaming Progress

There has been a plethora of articles and blogging posts (line continues to be blurred between the two) about Apple's iPhone platform and the inways its made in the mobile gaming market.

Personally, I think the final ruling is a bit further out.  Two or three years.  Still, there has been quite a bit of attention, including our own blogs (Onxo and here) about mobile gaming in general and how iPhones and iPod Touches can benefit as more mobile warriors use it beyond playing music, making calls, and surfing the Web.

I have to say that 90% of all my apps, both paid and free, are games.  They range from $1 and up.  And you know what?  During that time, I've not touched my other gaming gears.  And this isn't just coming from me.  Others have also noted this change. 

Perhaps it's time for me to make a declaration about Apple's gaming but honestly it really is too early to say.  Nintendo and Sony have yet to respond to the app store in any meaningful way.  And let's not forget that on the smartphone and mobile device markets, there are others like RIM, WM, and Android that can still come out of nowhere and make a meaningful move in the mobile gaming market (though not likely).

So, this is what we're gonna do.  We'll put together a list of articles on iPhone gaming as they come out.  We'll track them and see where we are with each article.  An iPhone gaming platform progress report that can give everyone an idea how Apple is faring in DS-PSP land. 

Here's the first one from NY Times.  "Electronic Playground" is what the Times is call Apple's mobile platform.  It's a must read as it details Apple's attempt at transforming mobile gaming and how DS and PSP is different from the iPhone.

The main issue the author has with the iPhone is very valid and one that I've been crying about to anyone who'll listen:  battery life.  Boy, crummy is crummy and the iPod Touch and iPhone really really short battery life.   

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

WSJ On "Preview" Version of Quickoffice

WSJ does a pretty good tech segment.  For those of you who have full access, you can attest to this fact.  Here's one where Quickoffice for the iPhone was semi-reviewed.  So let's get into it.  Two years into the iPhone's product cycle, Quickoffice is the first full-blown office suite. 

For folks who use Palms and Blackberries for work, you might be familiar with the app.  Quickoffice's arrival couldn't have come at a better time as more and more businesses are opening up to the idea of adopting the iPhone into their rank of tech gears.  How does it stack up?

When I first heard about Quickoffice, I was puzzled why they didn't simply wait until iPhone 3.0 is out so that it can take advantage of the new features.  Regardless, it is out and WSJ's post on the app has allowed me to save $20 until a more robust version is out.  So, what did WSJ's reviewer like or dislike about it?
  • Liked the cut-and-paste.  However, this isn't iPhone 3.0's implementation.
  • Able to save files locally.  Able to retreive or send files from a PC, Mac, or online storage.
  • Has an e-mailing function.
  • Unable to open attachments from Mail.  An OS limitation.  Not Quickoffice's fault.
  • No spell check.
  • No autocorrection.
  • Landscape editing limited to word processor.
  • Unable to happen Microsoft's newer file format.
WSJ think it's an "OK" start but needs work.  I think it's a great start just to have Quickoffice available.  There is definitely a lot of work that needs to be done before the iPhone version is as robust as other Quickoffice versions.  In fact, it would do the iPhone owners great service by incorporating some iPhone specific features like multi-touch.

Source:  WSJ

Note:  Speaking of the Wall Street Journal, there is also a WSJ app in the iTunes App Store.  It's free to download and you have full access to the paper.  Free for now.  Reportedly, RM isn't happy with that so access to WSJ may not be free for much longer.

iPhone Intel:

After Apple's event to preview iPhone 3.0, I realized that not much will take place between then and until iPhone 3.0 come out in the "summer". And summer pretty much covers, well, all summer. So, it stands that we expect things to be quiet.

To my delight, that has not been the case. There has been no shortage of information about Apple, rumors that come from "well-placed informants", rumors that stem from other rumors, and just plain old stuff Wall Street analysts make up.

And as it is today, people are getting more and more of their information through the Internet. Blogs, news sites, blogs on news sites that quote blogs, and so on and so forth. It's a cycle that is feeding itself. We all need eyeballs. Yes, readers.

So, lots about Verizon and Apple. Pre Nano and ATT. Verizon with Microsoft. CDMA versus GSM. Apple's 10" tablet. So, what is going on with Apple's mobile gears and plans in the coming months?

These are what we know:
  • iPhone 3.0 is coming out this summer. If Apple sticks to their habits, we are looking at end of June or early July.
  • To coincide with the availability of the new mobile OS, new iPhones will be launched. This where we stop. We have no idea of there will be other mobile devices. Wishing it won't make it so. Having said that, I'm wishing Christmas comes early this year. Wishing really, really hard.
  • We'll hear a lot about Snow Leopard at the WWDC. While Apple would like the focus to be on the next Mac OS, there will be information about iPhone 3.0.
  • We know there are feature within iPhone 3.0 that were not talked about at last month's preview.
  • Tethering is coming. Apple could not announce it at the preview since it would unveil too much at that time.
  • There will be boring demos at the WWDC, about 1.2 or 1.3 billion apps downloaded, the number of iPhones and iPod Touches in the wild, and other self-congratulatory remarks.
So, there you have it. Wanting adjustments to mobile plans, relishing in new technologies behind the new iPhones, wishing Steve Jobs will make a surprise appearance, and wanting longer battery life in the iPhones won't make it so. Wanting Verizon to say "I'm sorry I ever doubted you" to Apple isn't going to suddenly going to make Cupertino develop a CDMA iPhone.

We have 6-8 weeks (possibly longer) of excruciating waiting to do. Meanwhile, enjoy the increasingly outrageous posts, rumors, Photoshopped pictures that will alleviate some of the anxiety. Just don't take them in as Apple gospel.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Nine Inch Nails Comments on Apple's App Approval Process

I'm loving Nine Inch Nails' response to their app being rejected by Apple. When it was brought to my attention last week, I knew given their "coolness" with the very same Apple crowd, this was gonna be an issue.

Here is what they said according to Macrumors. Be warned, there are bad words used here. I'm keeping them in there because I want readers to know the full brunt of the anger Apple's idiotic app approval process has generated.

Here goes:

From: iPhone Developer Program
Date: April 27, 2009 11:44:12 AM PDT
Subject: nin: access 1.0.3: Application Submission Feedback

Please include the line below in follow-up emails for this request.


Dear Craig,

Thank you for submitting nin: access to the App Store. We've reviewed nin: access and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store at this time because it contains objectionable content which is in violation of Section 3.3.12 from the iPhone SDK Agreement which states:

"Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

The objectionable content referenced in this email is "The Downward Spiral". Since the app is live on the App store, please make the necessary changes to the application as soon as possible, and resubmit your binary to iTunes Connect. Thank you


iPhone Developer Program

Now, "The Downward Spiral" the album is not available anywhere in the iPhone app. The song "The Downward Spiral" I believe is in a podcast that can be streamed to the app.
Thanks Apple for the clear description of the problem - as in, what do you want us to change to get past your stupid fucking standards?
And while we're at it, I'll voice the same issue I had with Wal-Mart years ago, which is a matter of consistency and hypocrisy. Wal-Mart went on a rampage years ago insisting all music they carry be censored of all profanity and "clean" versions be made for them to carry. Bands (including Nirvana) tripped over themselves editing out words, changing album art, etc to meet Wal-Mart's standards of decency - because Wal-Mart sells a lot of records. NIN refused, and you'll notice a pretty empty NIN section at any Wal-Mart. My reasoning was this: I can understand if you want the moral posturing of not having any "indecent" material for sale - but you could literally turn around 180 degrees from where the NIN record would be and purchase the film "Scarface" completely uncensored, or buy a copy of Grand Theft Auto where you can be rewarded for beating up prostitutes. How does that make sense?
You can buy The Downward Fucking Spiral on iTunes, but you can't allow an iPhone app that may have a song with a bad word somewhere in it. Geez, what if someone in the forum in our app says FUCK or CUNT? I suppose that also falls into indecent material. Hey Apple, I just got some SPAM about fucking hot asian teens THROUGH YOUR MAIL PROGRAM. I just saw two guys having explicit anal sex right there in Safari! On my iPhone!
Come on Apple, think your policies through and for fuck's sake get your app approval scenario together.

This truly speaks volume about the kind of work that Apple ahead of it in order to make its policies make sense to developers.  I'm sure Cupertino didn't really foresee this when they came up with the guidelines but they really should have.  In fact, outside of porn, anything else can be allowed to go into the app store.  

Or else, jailbreak apps galore.

Source: Macrumors

Using Generative AI Has Given Me A New Appreciation For Siri and Excited For The Future of Apple Intelligence

I used generative AI this week to find the dimensions of a refrigerator based on the model number. I googled first because of muscle memory ...