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iPhone’s Remote Control App

July 17, 2008 Leave a comment

If you have an iPhone and haven’t downloaded Remote, stop what you are in the middle of and do it now.

When I first read of the iPhone as a remote, I imagined a limited but functional remote control which would allow stopping/playing and skipping to previous or next song.

Remote goes a few steps further by allowing you to view playlists and control the volume. When a song is playing, it shows you the album art and the controls you need to go to any point in the song.

The only setup required involves having iTunes open and giving you a special code that you will need to type into iTunes to make the link to the iPhone. After that, you are ready to remotely control iTunes with your iPhone or iPod Touch.

The app requires Wi-Fi, and can control any iTunes-loaded computer on the network. It works great with a Mac, and I just confirmed that it also works on a Windows PC.  It’s available for free in the App Store.

iPhone 3G Liftoff!

July 11, 2008 Leave a comment

It’s 7:30 a.m. CDT and I’m in line for the iPhone 3G at my local AT&T store.  I will be posting a first impressions review later today.

The frenzied hype will peak in T-Minus 30 minutes.

Early iPhone G3 Review: “Worth the Wait”

July 9, 2008 2 comments

There have probably been a couple of other early reviews of the iPhone G3, but the most extensive one I’ve seen so far was posted last night at USA TODAY’s web site.  Edward Baig covers all of the big features and many of the lesser ones.  There is also a link to a video review.

UPDATE (3:10 p.m.)David Pogue and Walt Mossberg have also chimed in with some excellent reviews.

If you don’t want to go and read the entire article, here is a summary of Baig’s review at USA TODAY…

– “iPhone 3G: The Sequel, is worth the wait…  I reach that verdict after having tested the new iPhone for more than two weeks.”

– “But not all of iPhone’s early drawbacks have disappeared. You still cannot shoot video, take advantage of Bluetooth stereo or dial with a voice command. Such features are common on rival devices. (I’m hoping some shortcomings will be addressed by third-party developers.)”

– “Apple has improved overall audio quality of the device. The speaker phone sounded better, as did music played directly through the phone’s speaker.”

– “Though I wasn’t able to go through the process of downloading third-party applications through the new Apps store, it might turn out to be the most appealing new iPhone feature.”

– “While not everything on my wish list made it onto the new device, Apple has raised the bar with iPhone 3G. To which I offer an enthusiastic thumbs up.”

Rhapsody Finally Acknowledges the Existence of iPods

July 1, 2008 Leave a comment

RealNetworks’ digital music service, Rhapsody, has finally acknowledged that the iPod exists. They launched their new MP3 music download service yesterday, and the songs can now be used with iTunes and iPods. Downloads are .99 cents, and many albums are available for $9.99. All downloads are DRM-free, so there are no restrictions on copying the files to a different computer and playing them.

Rhapsody has been a subscription download service up to this point, charging $13 to $15 a month for unlimited song streaming. Under this plan there was no way for users to load music on their iPods.

Apparently, an executive at RealNetworks looked up “iPod” on Wikipedia and discovered that Apple has sold over 140 million of them since their launch in October 2001. The iPod makes up about 70% of the digital player market.

After pondering this data for about 5 minutes, Rhapsody Vice President Neil Smith said, “We’re no longer competing with the iPod; we’re embracing it.”

Uh, yeah. Good call, Neil. Here’s a tip: when you see the graphs curving upward, then you know that there is an increase trend. This iPod chart may have helped you a few years ago:

Neil's iPod Sales Chart

Better late than never, I suppose.

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Geek Vacation Ends Abruptly

June 23, 2008 Leave a comment

Bora BoraI ran out of money, so I’m back from my 45 day vacation, and I’m glad to be back in the saddle for 98 Pound Geekling again.  There was a lot to miss in a month and a half…

* iTunes Store Tops Over Five Billion Songs Sold

* Apple Introduces the New iPhone 3G – Available July 11.

* iPhone 3G to be Available in More Than 70 Countries

* iPhone SDK Downloads Top 250,000

* Apple Introduces MobileMe Internet Service

* Apple Previews Mac OS X Snow Leopard to Developer

* HBO & Apple Bring Television Programming to the iTunes Store

Thanks for the emails while I was gone! It’s nice to know that 98PG is a vital part of your existence. 🙂

Vista Wins “Award” on CNET

December 1, 2007 Leave a comment

Vista Home Premium

CNET has picked Windows Vista as one of the 10 worst tech products ever made.* I haven’t had much of a chance to work with Vista, and from a distance it looks a ton better than XP. However, the eye candy doesn’t deliver better functionality. We are still in using XP at work, and the more I read about Vista, the more I understand why.

I don’t recommend relying on user posts for factual data when researching a product, but this comment from a user about Vista on CNET’s site was a good summary of the experience a lot of upgraders have had with Vista:

Aaaah… Vista! I loved the smooth transition from XP on my 12 month old hardware. I got my Gig of RAM, check, my overly expensive graphics card, check. Everything looking good, here we go… no problems whatsoever, everything running like clockwork. THEN, I suddenly woke up and realized I’d fallen asleep midway through the 6 hour install process (including downloading all the required driver and software updates with the requisite restarts every single time. I got so bored waiting for the PC that during one of the annoying restarts I decided to upgrade the 8 year old Mac I have lying around to Leopard (Nice 800MHz G4 with 256Mb RAM) – all went well and the Mac was up and running again in less time than it took the PC to boot back up. In fact, I then used the Mac to download all the other driver updates I needed for the Vista ‘upgrade’ because it was just quicker that way.

Regarding the Leopard install comment, his 800MHz G4 doesn’t meet the minimum system requirements (867MHz G4), so either he is making that up, or the newest OS from Apple is more backwards-compatible then we realize.

*In fairness to Windows users who feel that the list should have included a Mac product of some kind, you should note that the “hockey puck” mouse from the iMac G3 in the late nineties. 🙂 Oh, the memories…

Numbers: Spreadsheets for Interestingness

November 25, 2007 Leave a comment

Numbers, Included in iWork '08

I have had a good look at Apple’s new spreadsheet program, Numbers, and have concluded that they have done the unthinkable: they’ve made spreadsheets interesting! Once again Apple has succeeded in helping us actually enjoy using our computers while we are being productive.

As a test, I’m using it to plan our trip to England using one of the templates that come with the program. Using multiple sheets, I’m tracking our budget for the trip, I’ve laid out all the plane flights, and I’ve got a list of places we’ll visit and things we’ll do. Sure, I could have done this in Excel, but the results are much better in Numbers because it was made for a much more intuitive and creative user experience.

First of all, the ability to have different tables within one sheet makes it a lot easier to keep the data presented on the screen, and to format it without worrying about a change to one part of the table effecting another part. On every sheet I have at least two tables, and I can make them interdependent with formulas, or make them stand alone. Once I’ve set them up, I can easily move them anywhere on the page without loosing any formatting or causing formula problems.

Also, before using Numbers I never thought much about putting pictures in a spreadsheet. But using the template for planning this vacation has me adding small pictures of Big Ben, Westminster Abby, and Stonehenge.

I’ve also moved our budget to Numbers, and it converted seamlessly from Excel. My only complaint relates to my need to learn new shortcuts and commands, but I’m happy to do it for the benefit of using a superior program.

Suddenly, Excel seems boring and bland. Now remember, Excel was made to be bland; it’s a program for adding up numbers and building formulas. It’s just that I never noticed its bland-ness. Neither will you… until you use Numbers.

(Numbers is included with iWork ’08, available at Amazon for $69.99 and includes free shipping.)

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