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Technology & Nerdy News

Jun 24

Houston, we have an iPhone

Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 8:16 am Mountain Time

My new iPhone 4

Actually, two iPhones. I’m heading home to give Becky hers now.

WHEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Jun 22

iOS4 folders: function over form?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 12:24 pm Mountain Time

So, I installed the newly released iOS4 on my 2G iPod touch last night, and spent way too much time playing with it. Having done so, I have a couple of thoughts. First, wow, it’s fast and smooth and awesome. Second, I love the concept of folders, and I’m really glad to have my ridiculous multitude of apps organized at last — three screens instead of seven! However, although Apple has done its best, and the tiny icons inside the folders are a neat idea, the overall effect of replacing too many app icons with folder icons is, IMHO, to make your home screen(s) kind of, well, ugly.

I’ve tried my best to avoid this by limiting the number of “folders” bunched together on a single screen, and placing them in a middle row, which I think limits the ugliness effect. But still:

My iOS4 iPod touch home screen

I mean, they’re not horrible, but they’re certainly not as pretty as your standard iPhone app icon. (I wonder if they’ll look better on a “retina display”? I’ll find out Thursday!)

By the way, note the folder called “Loyette Apps” — obviously, I temporarily renamed it for purposes of this screenshot and blog post; it won’t really be called that going forward. Anyway, it contains a bunch of simple game and drawing apps that I’ve downloaded, which Loyette loves. She’s really very good at manipulating the touchscreen. And now that Becky and I are both getting iPhones, and yet my iPod touch is probably too scratched up (and obsolete; it’s an 8GB 2G model) to have much resale value, I imagine I’ll keep it but will have little use for it… and it will essentially become a $150+ toy for Loyette. :) If nothing else, it should help me keep her away from my precious iPhone 4…

Anyway, after the jump, my second screen, whose aesthetics I’m still working on — i.e., I think it’s still somewhat ugly.

Continue reading »

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Jun 18

The end of an era: retiring the belt pack?

Friday, June 18, 2010 at 9:39 pm Mountain Time

Becky made an excellent point yesterday. When I get my new iPhone 4 next week*, it’ll be the first time I’ve ever owned a cell phone with a decent camera. (My 2006 vintage Sprint flip phone takes grainy 640×480s — a marked improvement over my previous, 2003 vintage Sprint flip phone, which took 384×256s.) And, by all accounts, the iPhone’s is not just a decent camera; it’s an awesome camera. Five-megapixel, crystal-clear, true-color photos; 720p, high-quality HD videos. In both cases, that’s better than my point-and-shoot camera, the Canon PowerShot A95 that I carry with me virtually at all times in a little Quantaray belt pack.

IMG_7451.JPGWhich brings me to the “end of an era” referenced in the title. Ever since I bought my first digital camera in 1999 — a huge, bulky Sony Digital Mavica that saved photos to floppy disks — I’ve brought a digital camera just about everywhere I go, always wanting to be able to snap a picture if anything interesting or newsworthy or beautiful happens. Nowadays, that means looping that Quantaray pack onto my belt every morning when I’m getting ready for work, or anytime I’m heading out to run errands, or whenever. (It also means I almost always wear a belt, even when I’m dressed casually and wearing jeans or shorts, precisely so I can have my camera with me, snug in its belt pack.)

Mind you, I own two digital cameras now, the A95 and a digital SLR, the Digital Rebel XTi — and most of my good pictures are taken with the Rebel. Even so, I still virtually never leave the house without the A95. I only take the Rebel with me when I’m actually expecting to take pictures, but the A95 goes everywhere with me because hey, you never know when I’m going to want a snapshot, or a quick low-quality (320×240) movie, of something.

Once I get my iPhone, though, I imagine that will change. If I’m right that, for most purposes, the iPhone is a better camera than the A95 — and, in any event, takes pictures that are more than adequate to serve the purpose of having a basic point-and-shoot on hand if anything camera-worthy unexpectedly happens or appears — why would I keep hauling the A95 around in my dorky belt pack? Sure, it’s got an optical zoom and a “real” flash, both of which the iPhone lacks. But I swear its picture quality has somehow degraded in recent years, and in any event the iPhone’s should be better; and the A95’s video quality will, I suspect, look unbearably awful once I start shooting video clips with the iPhone.

Anyway, the point is, I imagine I’ll start simply bring my phone everywhere I go (duh), and that’ll be all I need. And the belt pack will join the fanny pack (ahem) as a thing of the past.

*…or next weekend or early the following week, depending on what AT&T does.

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Jun 17

iPhone rumor/speculation whiplash alert

Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 9:30 am Mountain Time

Cult of Mac, 4:17 AM: “Reality Check: The iPhone’s Not Going to T-Mobile or Verizon Anytime Soon”

Cult of Mac, 6:42 AM: “Report: Apple to Ship CDMA iPhone in Fourth Quarter”

At this point, I’m rooting for the first story to be true, because if #2 is correct, I’m going to feel like a complete sucker for buying an AT&T-saddled iPhone 4 — and signing a two-year contract with a $400+ termination fee — when I could have had a Verizon version in like six months. (But I’m not willing to wait, because for all I know, #1 might be true, and I might be waiting years, not months. Ugh.)

Apropos of which: supposing that a Verizon iPhone is indeed coming, does anyone know if there’d be any legal impediment preventing Verizon from offering a “credit” to under-contract AT&T iPhone users, in an amount approximating their termination fee (or at least some substantial portion thereof), in order to encourage them to switch providers? Would this constitute legally actionable interference with contract? What if they offered the incentive to all iPhone users, regardless of whether they’re under contract? I’m a lawyer, of course, but this isn’t an issue I’ve researched or dealt with, and I wonder if any of my techie readers might be familiar with some relevant precedent.

Jun 16

Apple says six hundred thousand iPhone 4s were pre-ordered yesterday — more than ten times the number of pre-orders for the iPhone 3GS — and who knows how much higher the number would have been, if AT&T’s untested, unsecured, utterly unusable ordering system hadn’t gone down in flames.

Unfortunately, those wannabe pre-orderers, the ones who would’ve pushed that 600,000 number even higher if AT&T’s broken infrastructure had allowed it, will now have a long wait on their hands. AT&T, plagued by truly stunning and disturbing security breaches in addition to the comparatively tame pre-ordering apocalypse, has suspended pre-orders completely, and Apple has delayed the “ships by” date of “pre-orders” through its system to July 14, fully three weeks after the phones arrive in stores.

Um, guys? At that point, it’s no longer a “pre-order.” Just sayin’.

Anyway, I just hope AT&T will honor its promise that my pen-and-paper, 9:45 AM Tuesday pre-order, which was apparently entered into the computer system around 5:00 PM Mountain Time yesterday (per the local sales rep), will be delivered no later than Monday, June 28. We shall see.

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Jun 16

iphone-pano

Last night, I received a confirmation e-mail from AT&T — two of them, actually, one for my iPhone and one for Becky’s — titled “Your recent ATT order status.” They state:

Dear Brendan Loy,

Thank you for ordering iPhone 4 from AT&T. Your device has been reserved. Today was the busiest sales day in our history. Because of the incredible volume of orders we received, there is a slight chance that some customers may receive their devices between June 25 and June 28. Rest assured, we are doing all we can to ship devices to customers for delivery on the 24th. You do not need to take any action at this point.

So, worst-case scenario, if this e-mail is to be believed, my iPhones (which, as you’ll recall, I “pre-ordered” at around 9:45 AM yesterday using the pen and paper method, thanks to AT&T’s massive network FAIL) will arrive at the AT&T Store — where I’ll then go and pick them up — not on Thursday (launch day), but sometime between Friday and Monday. That’s not so bad. It’s certainly more palatable than having to wait until July.

Moreover, at least for now, I can still hold out hope of a launch-day arrival! Indeed, for the moment, I’m going to optimistically leave my sidebar countdown thingy at top right unchanged. I’ll change it if and when I get a firm date that isn’t June 24, pursuant to this part of the e-mail from AT&T:

As soon as your device ships, we will send an email confirmation including a tracking number for your convenience. In the meantime, you can check the status of your order on our website at any time by clicking here [link redacted] or by calling our automated system at 1-877-782-8870.

At present, the status link just says the order is “In Progress.” But presumably, once it ships, I’ll have an arrival date.

[Photo taken by yours truly, waiting in line yesterday morning at the AT&T Store.]

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Jun 15

iphone-4-facetimeI may need to modify the countdown sidebar thingy at right. AT&T has confirmed that, thanks to “the busiest online sales day in AT&T history,” they’ve already sold out of pre-ordered iPhone 4s, and thus “people who got their orders in after 4:30 [PM Eastern Time] are expected to get their phones any time between June 25th and July 5th,” rather than on launch day, July 24.

This “post-4:30″ group almost certainly includes me, because although I “pre-ordered” at around 9:45 AM Mountain Time this morning (after waiting in line for almost an hour), I was forced by AT&T’s massive network FAIL to do so using the pen and paper method — and, as of 3:19 PM Mountain (5:19 PM Eastern), the sales rep who took my order e-mailed that “I will contact you as soon as your phones are ordered.” So in other words, although my order exists on paper at my local AT&T retail store, it didn’t exist in AT&T’s system at the cutoff time of 4:30 PM Eastern.

If I have to wait until June 25 or 26 or whatever, no biggie. But if I don’t get my phone until July, I’m going to be pretty annoyed, considering I could probably have “pre-ordered” with Apple — rather than with AT&T — later tonight or tomorrow, once all systems are fully operational again, and I probably would’ve gotten the iPhone on launch day or very shortly thereafter. For that matter, I suspect I could waltz into an Apple Store and pick one up, without having pre-ordered at all, within a day or two after launch. But instead, because I “pre-ordered” with AT&T, I could be waiting past the 4th of July.

Put another way: “Pre-ordering” does not mean what I think you think it means, AT&T.

UPDATE: My sales rep just e-mailed me: “AT&T is aware that there were a lot of preorders who were placed on papers before 2:30pm [Mountain Time] which includes you, and they are trying to work out something to make sure those people get their phones asap, I will let you know when I hear more. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hopefully everything works out!”

As Aragorn says: there is always hope.

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Jun 13

iPhone 4 vs. HTC EVO vs. ???

Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 10:19 pm Mountain Time

So… Becky and I are almost certainly going to imminently upgrade, finally, to smartphones. Indeed, the tentative plan has been to pre-order two iPhone 4s on Tuesday, the first day it’s possible to do so. But we’re not under contract with anyone right now, so all options are available to us. And I’m concerned about the AT&T network issues that everyone complains about, and also about the prospect of being locked into a 2GB data limit, when I have the alternative of buying an HTC EVO — which, by at least some accounts I’ve read, is basically the iPhone’s equal — on a fully functional (and 4G!) network with far less crowded bandwidth, and with unlimited data, for basically the same price.

iphone-4-evo-fight-rm-eng

Apple fanboy that I am, I really, really want to buy an iPhone, not an EVO or some other Android phone (the “???” in the post’s title), because I think iPhones are way cooler than other smartphones. (I mean, just look at it!! It’s so pretty!!) But I’m concerned that it might be an unwise decision, given the aforementioned issues, if the EVO, or some other alternative, really is just as good of a phone, objectively.

So: what say you, blog readers? Can anyone ease my mind by giving me tangible reasons why the iPhone 4 is better, so as to outweigh the AT&T factor? Alternatively, does anyone want to make the case for the EVO, or some other smartphone? Anyone have links to useful reviews, compare-and-contrast articles, etc.?

(And don’t say “wait until Apple introduces the Verizon iPhone.” I have no idea when that will happen, if ever, and unless you’re Steve Jobs’s close personal friend, neither do you. And Becky and I are both sick and tired of our 2006-era flip phones, which are pretty much busted anyway. I want a smartphone now, not at some indefinite date in the future when Apple possibly maybe perhaps switches providers. So it’s now or never for the iPhone for me.)

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Jun 07

iPhone 4/HD unveiling open thread

Monday, June 7, 2010 at 10:27 am Mountain Time

[UPDATE: Event over; iPhone 4 is here. And it's awesome.

Of course, the best part of the demo was when Steve Jobs had network connectivity issues while trying to demonstrate the new, super high definition screen:

Yeah... somebody's getting fired. Heh. To make matters worse (and more hilarious), at one point, Jobs asked for suggestions from one of his techies, and someone in the audience yelled out, "Try Verizon!" HAHAHAHA.

Last but not least, here's an ad for the new "FaceTime" video-chat program, whose blatant emotional manipulation touching family images are sure to give you (carefully engineered and manufactured) goosebumps:

I don't recall the radiologist having Wi-Fi in the patient rooms when Becky was pregnant -- which would be necessary for the scene depicted at the end to actually happen, since FaceTime only works via Wi-Fi. Also, FaceTime requires both ends of the conversation to have iPhone 4s; it's not even compatible with iChat. Since these are software issues, not hardware issues, those "features" (or lack thereof) will undoubtedly change with time. For now, though, a bit underwhelming for a "one more thing," methinks.

Having said that, it's conceivable I may actually be buying my first iPhone in the near future. We shall see. I note, in passing, that they go on sale four days after Father's Day. Hmm... :)

Original post below.]

At 11:00 AM Mountain Time, Steve Jobs will officially announce what we already know, thanks to those enterprising journalists/thieving rat bastards at Gizmodo: OMG IT’S A NEW IPHONE AND IT HAS A HIGHER-RESOLUTION SCREEN AND A FRONT-FACING CAMERA AND OMG IT’S AWESOME!!!!1!!! And, er, he’ll probably also tell us some stuff we don’t know. I won’t be liveblogging, per se, but these folks will:

Continue reading »

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Jun 04

Daaarwwwinn want iiPaaaddd

Friday, June 4, 2010 at 10:39 am Mountain Time

Guest post by David K.

Researcher Jack Kassewitz of SpeakDolphin is using the iPad as a way to communicate with our oceanic cousins.

May 20

Google announces GoogleTV

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 12:40 pm Mountain Time

Guest post by David K.

On the second day of Google’s I/O conference today, the search giant announced a new product, GoogleTV. The platform, which will be available built in to at least some Sony TVs, as well as available in stand-alone boxes (think TiVO or your cable DVR box), combines your DVR functionality (including program guide), web-based video sites like Hulu, and Netflix streaming. Built on top of Google’s mobile OS Android platform, it will also allow for some applications to run that aren’t phone hardware specific.

It looks like a compelling product and the type of integration I’d love to see, but I’m hoping competitors like Microsoft and Apple (or others? TiVo?) step up because I’m loathe to give Google more of my personal info and traffic.

Apr 01

In search of the best tweeting and tweet-reading experience on my new iPod touch, I’ve downloaded a whole bunch of Twitter apps, some free, some merely cheap. Specifically, I’ve tried Twitterrific (free), Echofon (free), Twit Pro ($0.99), Tweetie ($2.99) and TweetDeck (free). Aside from Twit Pro, whose UI is just awful, the other four are all good apps, each with its own unique pros and cons. I’m still trying to decide which I like best.

But they all share one annoying flaw: when I view an individual user’s timeline, I don’t see any of the tweets by other users that they’ve “retweeted” using the newfangled retweeting interface that Twitter introduced a few months ago. (After the jump: screenshots!)

Continue reading »

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Jan 28

The iPad, then and now

Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 8:46 am Mountain Time

Here is Apple’s promotional video thingy for the iPad:

You can watch the entire Stevenote here.

Meanwhile, here’s an ad for the original iPad, from a Mad TV skit way back in 2007 2005. (Warning: off-color bodily humor.)

Heh.

UPDATE: The authors of the sketch talked about their comic prescience on NPR yesterday. (Hat tip: Patrick Cullen.)

Jan 27

Official LRT Jesus Tablet Open Thread

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 6:45 am Mountain Time

Tonight, President Obama’s Teleprompter will address the nation, and tell us various lies about the economy and the budget and the future of the country and whatnot. And I’ll be liveblogging that, natch. But first: the day’s really important address to the nation!

IMG_7516.JPGI’m talking, of course, about Apple’s “our latest creation” event this morning, at which Dear Leader Jobs will unveil his latest creation, the Jesus Tablet, which will single-handedly save the publishing industry, the global economy, journalism, the written word, planet Pandora, and health-care reform. Soon, you’ll be able to see Senator Scott Brown posing naked for Cosmo on a 10-inch touchscreen! The future is now, people.

Anyway, I digress. The point is, at 11:00 AM Mountain Time (1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific), Apple will hold its much-hyped event to announce a bunch of crap nobody cares about (new version of iLife, new MacBooks, blah blah blah) followed by “one more thing,” a.k.a. the OMG TABLET COMPUTER THAT WILL CHANGE THE WORLD — and this is the thread for comments and updates about said event.

I won’t be “liveblogging,” per se, but various sites will be, such as:
MacWorld
Mac | Life
Mac Rumors Live
Gizmodo
Engadget
Ars Technica
gdgt

Meanwhile, to the extent I tweet about what’s happening, my tweets will appear in the window below, rather than in new blog posts. [UPDATE: Live-Tweeting over, so the window below is now displaying tweets in "archive" format, i.e., chronological order instead of reverse chronological order.]

Y’all are, of course, invited to add your thoughts in comments on this post. Will the Tablet be awesome? Useless? Awesomely useless? Will it be called the iPad? iSlate? iTablet? iJesus? Discuss!

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Aug 19

D’oh!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 9:55 pm Mountain Time

I’m not sure if AppleCare covers this. Heh.

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