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The iPod shuffle. Colored.

A couple of hours ago, rumors were whizzing across the tubes we call the interweb that Apple was going to release something new that’s iPod related and something to do with colors.

Then the US Apple store was down.

When it came back up, Apple fans were greeted by colored iPod shuffles that were serious eyecandies. The iPod shuffle now comes in pink, green, orange, blue, and the original color, silver.

When I visited the online US Apple store I was greeted with these fancy eyecandies. My first impressions with the new colors were:

  • the pink is flashy;
  • the green is cool;
  • the orange is simply yummy;
  • the blue is well, blue and;
  • the silver is classic.

My friend described the pink as chic and very sweet, while the green is adorable. It was a few months ago that she was considering in buying an iPod shuffle but I sort of talked her out of it since she really didn’t have any compelling reason to get one. Now, however, she’s planning to do morning walks and has started playing badminton. She thinks these are good enough reasons. Yeah, right.

She’s now torn between pink and green, and she wants one now!

I admit that the colored shuffles are really nice. I find the orange to be the most compelling. It sounds good and might actually taste better. I won’t be getting a shuffle though. I can’t justify getting one. My iPod nano Red is light and small enough that I take it everywhere with me. So portability is not an excuse. My nano holds 4 times as much as the shuffle can, so space cannot be used as an excuse. So if I ever will get a shuffle, it will be just because of technolust. So for me, the shuffle will just be a frivolous expense.

But the orange looks so yummy.

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Random thoughts on the iPhone

Things I’ve thought about while in the shower.

  • June is still a few months away. Apple might not release a 4GB or 8GB iPhone. Rather, they’ll have 8GB and 16GB models at $499 and $599, respectively.
  • I wonder why people are downplaying the iPhone’s (or for that matter, the iPod’s) feature as a photo album. Are pictures so ubiquitous that we just are numb to the idea a device can show them?
  • The full screen iPod with multitouch screen is coming.
  • As I have heard from the MyMac Podcast the iPod is on its way out. The iPhone will take over but the iPod still has some 3 to 5 years left in it. I’m just wondering what will replace the iPod nano. The iPhone lite? The iPhone nano?
  • A 32GB or 64GB iPhone will debut at the beginning of 2009 as solid state memory becomes cheaper. The deal breaker here is that battery technology is simply not catching up with the rest of the electronic world.
  • Bluetooth will free the iPhone of wires, that is, if battery technology improves in the next year or so.
  • Smudges will be the thing of the past in the next 5 years as new screen material technology does self cleaning or perhaps resistant to oil and grime from our fingers.

Those are my thoughts for the week.

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More thoughts about the iPhone

I don’t quite remember whether I thought about it, read it online or heard it on a podcast, but there was this idea that Apple should release a small portable computer of the same with the 12″ Powerbook or somewhat smaller. This ultraportable machine will be a cellular phone with Wi-Fi and bluetooth, and will have a built-in camera and feature a 8- to 12-inch touch-screen. You can make calls using either the cellphone feature or thru VoIP. Wi-Fi is also a boon since you will be able to plunk yourself down a hotspot and merrily surf away with 4 to 5 hours at a time.

Isn’t that a fascinating idea? A portable computer that is a cellular phone. I wonder when we’ll ever see something this? Oh, wait. We just did last week. They called it the “iPhone”.

In this case, this newfangled device is much smaller that the ultraportable people (or my brain) has come up with. It fits right into your pocket. The iPhone is a cellular phone cum an internet communications device, with an added bonus: it’s a music/video/podcast playet, too. Of course, the dreamed up ultraportable computer can play music/video/podcasts through iTunes but it’s not portable enough. There’s the iPod for that.

So there you go, three products in one revolutionary device. It’s an iPod, a cellphone, an internet communicator. It’s an iPod, a cellphone, an internet communicator.

But the iPhone is not a computer nor is it a smartphone in the strictest sense. A computer or smartphone allows you, among other things, to install programs or applications as you please. The iPhone does not let you do that. According to Apple, if they will ever allow applications to be installed into the iPhone, these will be “Apple approved” apps and most probably will be bought and downloaded from the iTunes store very much like the iPod games.

That’s what the iPhone really is. It’s an iPod with the “core functionalities” of Mac OS X. Being Mac OS X, you can have applications such as iCal and Address book. You will also have widgets.
But being an iPod, you can only add software that Apple has approved.

I am for and against this idea. For because Apple does not like the idea of some poorly done third-party application ruining the iPhone experience. Having used Palm PDAs before, I’ve had few experiences where an app will crash the PDA and crashing is a rarity under Mac OS X.

I am against because this will limit the options available to would be iPhone users. There are a lot of people out there with great ideas and they usually will create a portable app in their free time. Sure, the application looks crummy but it works. These kinds of apps are usually given away for free. The close system, however, will encourage developers to make better products. They are after all developing for Apple. If their application get approved, they get the chance to earn from their toils as these will be sold in the iTunes Store. Another thing, there is a section in the iTunes Store where people can get free music, video, or audio downloads. Maybe a year or two from now, there will be free iPhone application downloads, too.

That’s all I said.

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Macworld 2007: Impressions from this part of the world

It’s been three days since Steve Jobs’ keynote in Macworld San Francisco at the Moscone Center. I still haven’t seen the keynote since the internet here is still pretty much down. My impressions will be based on reports and news from different Apple-centric and non Apple-centric websites as well as the dozen or so podcasts I’ve listened to so far. So here goes.

Steve Jobs in the first thirty minutes of his keynote talked about the latest figures from the iTunes Store and how Apple is generally doing. He allyed the FUD spread by one company about how ‘badly’ the iTunes Store was doing. After the figures he went on to showing the device formerly known as the “iTV”.

Impressions on the “iTV”

Ok, ok. It’s now called as Apple TV but from what I’ve heard, Jobs did slip every now and then during the keynote, calling the Apple TV as the iTV.

My reaction to the Apple TV: who cares. Honestly, for people living in this corner of the world, the Apple TV really wasn’t an attention grabber. How many people here in the Davao owns a HDTV? I haven’t even seen a HDTV being sold here. So nuts to the Apple TV.

‘Nuff said.

Now for the juicier part.

THE iPhone.

The very much anticipated Apple iPhone (there is the Cisco iPhone, you know. As well as several other products with the “iPhone” moniker) has been released! Yay! Months of speculation and thirst for Apple’s version of the cellular phone was quenched last Tuesday (Wednesday, 1:30 AM here) and it was not what everybody was expecting. Essentially, according to Jobs, the iPhone is three devices in one: an iPod, a mobile phone, and an intenet communication device.

Let’s skip the part where I go ‘oh’ and ‘ah’, and remark how gorgeous the phone looks like. What are the specs for this phone?

(From Apple’s website)

  • Screen size and resolution: 3.5 inches; 320 x480 at 160 ppi
  • Input method: multi-touch
  • Operating system: OS X
  • Storage: 4GB or 8GB
  • GSM: Quad-band
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) + EDGE + Bluetooth 2.0
  • Camera: 2.0 megapixels
  • Battery: Up to 5 hours talk/video/browsing; 16 hours audio playback
  • Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.46 inches / 115 x 61 x 11.6mm
  • Weight: 135 grams

From what we see here, the iPhone falls in the smartphone size and weight category but thinner. Camera is pretty standard for Americans, that is. So the iPhone is pretty much like a smartphone in its physical aspects but there are things that makes it stand out.

Here I will point out what makes the iPhone stand out from smartphones.

Mac OS X: The iPhone has the ‘core functionalities’ of Mac OS X. Notice that Jobs didn’t say it IS Mac OS X. The Mac OS would be too big and complicated for phone. So Mac OS for the iPhone is like Windows Mobile OS. From what I’ve heard, the interface is somewhat Mac-like and is ‘very cool’. What differs it from other phones that might be compared to it is that the iPhone is said not to support third-party applications. So unlike the Palm OS or Windows Mobile based phones, you cannot upload software from third-party developers. I think Apple made this decision so that people won’t be putting in badly made iPhone applications that would most likely screw up the iPhone. But this does present an opportunity to license a “Made for iPhone” license to developers of which Apple will pre-approve sets of software to be used in the iPhone and then sell them in the iTunes Store.

High-resolution 3.5-inch screen: This is the wide-screen iPod waith the touch-screen display that everyone has been clamoring for. Bigger and high-res. What more can you ask for? But wait, there’s more. The iPhone can be viewed in the landscape mode so that you can view movies, TV shows, and video podcasts in a bigger screen. It has a built-in accelerometer that will sense when the iPhone is oriented in the portrait or landscape mode.

Multi-touch input: If you are an Apple news junkie like myself, you should know by now that Apple was given the patent for the the multi-touch input for an electronic device back in early 2006. Jobs calls this the next step in the revolution of input devices following the mouse and the click-wheel. I haven’t seen the demo but from what I’ve heard it’s pretty impressive. “It’s simply intuitive,” someone said. Using the iPhoto app in the iPhone you can zoom in an image by spreading your fingers apart while on the screen or shrink the photo by doing a pinching gesture you can make a picture bigger or smaller by making a pinching gesture on the screen. Coverflow from iTunes 7 is also brought into the iPhone, this time instead of using your mouse or scrollwheel to navigate through the album art, you just slide your finger across the screen.

The multi-touch input screen can also be used to enter text. Jobs noted that almost all of the smartphones in the market rely on either a keyboard or a stylus to input data into the device. The keyboard, he says is stuck there and the stylus? Who wants to use a stylus? Yuck! With the multi-touch input screen Apple has designed a phone that gives users a much bigger screen real estate and a new way of interacting with a device.

But in a SMS-centric society like the Philippines, the virtual keyboard is not so great. How many of the people here rely on the fact that they can compose and send an SMS with just using one hand and not even looking at the screen? The tactile feel of the keyboard is enough so that people can exercise their rudeness by typing an SMS under the table while acting as if he or she is listening to you or play russian roulette on the road by “texting” while driving. Can you do this with the iPhone? Probably not.

The screen as an input device also brings in the problem of smudges, oil, dirt and other icky stuff on the screen. You need to have another accessory with you if you have an iPhone: wipes.

Wireless: With this device, it goes head to head with the Nokia 880, the internet tablet, and other Wi-Fi enabled phones out there. From what Jobs showed in his keynote the iPhone lets you view webpages just like on a PC. Wait! There’s EDGE, too! Nuts to EDGE! The built-in Wi-Fi will let anyone check their mail, surf the web, or chat on the go. Who needs EDGE or 3G? Here in Davao, all you need to do is find a hotspot, stand outside and Wi-Fi to your heart’s content. Ha!

A Nokia exec was ‘surprised’ that the iPhone doesn’t come with 3G. This is a kneejerk reaction from a company that has become really flustered. Steve Jobs clearly said that 3G will be included in later iterations of the iPhone. There’s a report that says the iPhone can be upgraded to 3G with a firmware update. But as far as I know, 3G sucks battery.

Speaking of batteries. As I have expected, the iPhone’s battery is internal and cannot be replaced. Again howls of protests and derision were heard from various fronts. The only times people would ever need to remove the battery are: remove the sim and to reset the phone because it hanged. I’m sure Apple or some other third-party will make an add-on or external battery for the iPhone.

My concern with the battery is that I listen heavily to music and podcasts everyday. It’s what I do everyday. I use my iPod nano at least 3 hours per day. Is the 5/16 hours battery life enough?

More wireless: Bluetooth 2.0 is also found in the iPhone and together with the $499 or $599 iPhone is a bluetooth headset that could be worth $79. Concerns: how well it works, how long it works, and how comfortable is it?

To sum up:

  • Screen: big and gorgeous; smudge magnet?
  • Multi-touch: cool, innovative, and ‘revolutionary’; no more blind ‘text-ing’
  • Mac OS X: seamless sync with your Mac; third-party developers: don’t bother
  • Storage: is 4GB enough? Hopefully, by June the $499 will be bumped to 8GB and the $599 to 16GB
  • EDGE: a nice feature but with all the free hotspots here, EDGE might not be that useful to me. For mobile professionals, perhaps.
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi: standard features, surf anywhere; but will it sync with your Mac using this or are will still stuck with cables?
  • Camera: at 2.0 megapixels, Apple can perhaps do at 3 megapixels.
  • Battery: ultimately the deal breaker; will five hours be enough when you phone, surf and watch videos heavily? What’s the battery life when listening to audio, SMS-ing and perhaps a call or two?
  • Size and weight: the iPhone almost has the same dimensions and weight as compared to the 30GB 5G iPod but is longer by just 0.4 inches or 1.2 centimeters and slightly thicker. I’ve carried the iPod ‘video’ for several months and I can say that even though it has a bit of a heft, I could get used to the iPhone.
  • Extras: the earphone with the mic should come in standard as well as a wall charger and cables. The bluetooth headset is a nice add-on to the package.

This has been a long rant and I’d like to end it right here. I need to get some work done. But I will be adding more thoughts about the iPhone either inserted in this blog entry or as a separate one.

Would I get an iPhone? You betcha! I’ll the lucky (or unlucky) Americans play with it first and let them work out the bugs. 2008 is not that far away but at the same time I’m just itching to get my hands on the iPhone and into my pocket.

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Here comes sunshiny days again

So much for overcast days and rainy mornings.I woke up with the same gloom that I’ve more or less woken up to for the past few days. But as I looked out the window I noticed there were small patches of blue here and there. Ah. The sun has decided to come out and play again. So adieu to the cool mornings and afternoons and evenings for now. Hopefully the January and February chill will descend upon us soon.

I’m not entirely gloomy to see the gloom go away. I welcome the sun since I’m running out of clothes and underwear to wear.

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Singing in the rain

I really like cloudy skies and rainy days.

There seems to be something about a hanging overcast and a wet, soggy scenery that soothes and comforts me.

I love the damp smell of the earth and the chill the hangs in the air.

I love the way the leaves and grass glisten as the rain continues to pour down.

The downside with all this precipitation is the laundry won’t get dry. Ah, well.

When I migrate, I’m going to pick a city that’s drenched 80% of the year. Maybe Seattle. Anybody else have any other suggestions?

I’ll say it again.

I like rainy days.

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Disconnect

It’s been a week since that fateful earthquake off Tawian that disrupted telephone and internet services almost the all throughout Asia. The earthquake severed 12 fiber optic cables, cables that transmit telephone signals as well as internet data and linked the different Asian countries. It’s been a week since I had a decent internet connection at home.

For the past few days I’ve experienced what I considered as withdrawal symptoms from an addiction. I wasn’t totally cut off from the world wide web. I could open some websites but they load slowly or had to try numerous times just to open a website. I coudln’t even get in to Google Mail and Yahoo! Mail. Instant messaging was even affected. The one website that was really quick to load was Friendster. For web addicts out there: can you imagine having to surf nothing but Friendster for a week? Gaaah!

What I missed the most was downloading podcasts. I found myself at Bo’s on New Year’s day since I *had* to download the lastest episodes from the Non-prophets podcast as well as from Freethought Radio, just two of my favorite podcasts about atheism (Why yes, Virginia. I am an atheist). It was such a relief that a few days ago I discovered I can finally download some podcasts.

The downtime had a big plus. I finally, albeit slowly, went back to reading again. I miss reading. Perhaps podcasting has ruined me since it just let’s me sit back and listen to information rather than having to read it. But there is still something in reading that I enjoy and crave, and I hope to bring back my passion and fervor for reading once again. I have been amiss in my role of being a nerd or a geek for the past few years. How I wish I can bring those wasted years back.

I also re-read Marcus Buckingham’s Now Discover Your Strength. Good book. I’m going in full blast into reading
again as soon as the books I ordered from Amazon arrives. I am quite eager to bury my nose into Richard Dawkin’s God delusion and Sam Harris’s End of Faith. The other three books will also keep me busy at for next couple of weeks. And yes, as the titles suggest, the books are written by atheists.

When I went back to work, the net connection was better. I managed to check my emails and get some news off the net about Apple and other tech stuff. Instant messaging using Yahoo Messenger still bites but there’s Meebo. A nice web application that allows you to send IMs using Yahoo Messenger, GTalk, MSN, and ICQ. Go to http://www.meebo.com in case the PC you’re using doesn’t have an IM client installed.

My co-workers commented that Smart Bro didn’t seem to be affected by the big internet hiccup PLDT and PISOlutions (our broadband provider at home) seem to be experiencing. I wonder what Smart is doing differently. Taiwan did say that they are sending ships to repair the cable on January 2. I don’t know how long it will take for the cables to be re-attached or repaired. PLDT actually said the internet services will return to normal by the END OF THE MONTH. Damn. Are they dumb or are they just playing it safe?

So what did the earthquake last December 26 teach me or help make me realize?
1. I think I am addicted to the web.
2. I am addicted to podcasts.
3. I miss reading and I am getting it back.
4. I don’t consider what I’m doing right now as work. I am having fun and I believe I am making a difference.
5. I am not doing as bad as I think I am.

Four days into the new year and these are my new year’s resolutions:
1. Wean away from the internet (hard to achieve once the cables are repaired and things go back to normal)
2. Podcasts are my addiction and I’m keeping it.
3. Got to get addicted to reading.
4. Get back to blogging. It may be a waste of time but it’s fun.
5. Take baby steps so I can take great leaps in making a difference.
6. Be happy and keep being happy.

Now, THIS is a rant.

‘Nuff said!

Happy 2007, everyone!

Advance happy year of the pig, too. (That’s on February 18.)

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