Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 10 Apple Predictions for 2011

I have absolutely no inside knowledge of the company's plans but I thought I'd join all the other pundits and try to predict what Apple will do in 2011.

10. The iPad will remain the number one tablet to lackluster sales from other platforms.
9. The MacBook Air will remain as the only Netbook as that market dies.
8. The MacBook Pro will incorporate a Blu-Ray player.
7. People will complain about the lack of openness, transparency, Apple's cut in the new Mac App Store (which will be a hit despite all the complaints).    
6. Apple will buy Sonos to integrate their service with AppleTV 3.
5. AppleTV 3 will have apps
4. ….and so will the Apple branded television set.
3. The iPhone 5 will have a newly designed antenna.
2. Apple will release the iPhone on Verizon
1. ….and it will be instantly Jailbroken by the Dev Team.

Check back in 12 months to see how I did.

And, of course, have a wonderful New Year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Check to See if Your Gawker E-mail Was Hacked

Gawker Media's servers were compromised this weekend resulting in a security breach at Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Gawker, Jezebel, io9, Jalopnik, Kotaku, Deadspin, and Fleshbot. That's sad because those are a lot of the web sites that geeks like myself like to play at. It could be a particular problem for those that use the same throwaway password on many sites. I guess there's throwaway and there's throwaway.

So what to do if you play there too and are worried if your account was hacked. Well, if you use Facebook Connect, you're safe. produced a widget to check if your e-mail is in the released file (I was lucky, mine wasn't). If it is (even if it isn't), now might be a good time to review your password policy.

And take a look at 1Password which is a great password manager. You need to remember one, very long password and it will handle remembering all of your other passwords. I use this software but still use the same password on a lot of sites. I should know better. 
Hackers are out there. Even McDonald's was hacked today.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blu-Ray Bargains for the Geek you Love

Well it's getting closer to Christmas (do I have to wait until after Thanksgiving to be politically correct?) and the online retailers are starting to offer some deep discounts on their Blu-Ray offerings. Here are a few that might be of interest (prices correct when published, deals may be limited time only so act fast)

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings $7.99
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers $7.99
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King $7.99

Batman Anthology 1989-1997 $11 (use code A9N8U4H)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Collection $17 (use code A9N8U4H)

Spiderman Trilogy $23.99 (added 12-15-2010).

Some of these prices are for extremely limited times so act fast.

And of course, the picture is misleading as we are still waiting on the release of the Blu-Ray versions of Star Wars (but at least they've finally been announced).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Watch US Network TV on the Internet - and it's Free

There's a new service out there that rebroadcasts US Network TV, amongst other sites, through a viewer. There is no charge for the viewer or to watch although there are premium (read Adult) sites available.

The service is called FilmOn which Wikipedia reports as being the first internet television provider to launch in high definition in the U.S.A in September 2010. The site was founded by Alki David and features over 30 premium free to air television channels and premium international Satellite channels, including CBS, ABC, NBC, KCAL, FOX, KTLA, Russia Today, BBC News, RAI Sports, Dubai Sports, TVE Spain, SCUZZ, FLAUNT and many more. On 5 November, 2010, launched the first streaming TV service for mobile devices. The Mobile TV platform offers free streaming television to iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android.

I'm not sure how legal this service will prove to be in the long run (though you won't be doing anything illegal by using the program) but it works right now and is great for free. I got to watch an interesting NFL game this Sunday instead of them rebroadcasting the Lions on the local stations.

Edit (1/1/2011): The service is no longer free and the network stations are no longer included. It seems to have turned into little more than a pay-for-porn service now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Installing a Previous Version of an App on your iPhone

As we know, Apple's wonderful App Store does not permit the iPhone user to download older versions of an application. This is a real problem if that new update just plain doesn't work (Tweetie didn't work for three updates on my phone). So what to do?

Well, the simplest thing to do is to jailbreak the phone if there is a version available out there (look at in the Cydia store, for example). There seems to be something inherently wrong to me that one would have to put warez of software you own to get it to work however.

My iPhone is one of the first generation models. That means it doesn't run the latest iOS (even Whited00r is really iOS 3 with iOS 4 add-ons). Some of the more recent updates I've seen take advantage of some of the iOS 4 feature set and no longer work on my iPhone. That's fine - the old versions still work and they were good enough for me. However, I usually find out that they won't work on my iPhone after I've downloaded the latest version to iTunes and tried to upload it to the phone.

Getting the old version of software back into iTunes on the computer (so that I can back-up the files) is actually pretty easy. Delete the application from iTunes but leave it on the iPhone. Sync the iPhone with the computer. iTunes will see that you have applications on the iPhone that it doesn't have a copy of and will ask you if you want to copy that software (the old version on the iPhone) to the computer. Say yes and you will have the old version copied back to your computer. Remember not to upgrade this software or you will have to repeat the process.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Apple Event on October 20th: Lion?

So the blogosphere is rife with news about the upcoming Apple event on October 20th. The indication is that Apple is finally getting around to looking at their computers again after some considerable time showing interest in only the mobile platform and perhaps a little to AppleTV. Some would say "about time".

The above image was posted on engadget as evidence of what's coming. And, of course, with Apple there's no news so it's time for speculation.

What's old and really needs updating?

My guesses (and unlike others that might hint to leeks, I'll admit that these are guesses) are:

  • a new OS called Lion (okay, that's probably an easy one)
  • hardware update to the desktop line (been too long - but I bet there's still no blu-ray)
  • a new version of iLife and perhaps 
  • some attention paid to their professional suite (it's been far too long).

Come back in a week to see how I did. What are your predictions?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

GV Mobile + Free for Now

Okay, I seem to be Mr. Free right now. Many of you know the story about Sean Kovacs' attempts to get this program released through iTunes. It was available, then pulled by Apple, then available through Cydia, now it's back on iTunes.

Well the author decided to release it for free for a short period of time to offer those that bought the program on Cydia or when it was originally released on iTunes a chance to get it through iTunes (and all the updates to follow) without them having to pay again. It looks like the app is only going to be available for free until Sunday 4pm (if rumors are correct) so grab it fast.

Oh, and for those that don't know, this is the ORIGINAL Google Voice app for the iPhone. This is not VOIP  but Google Voice.

Monday, September 20, 2010

MacScan is Free Today Only (9-20-2010)

MacScan is free today only. Order the software from the website at and then select PURCHASE SINGLE LICENSE. Enter the coupon code PIRATE (someone either has a sense of humor or they really like talk like a pirate day). Enter your information and you will get a free license to use with a downloaded copy of MacScan.

For those that don't know, MacScan is a way to protect your security and privacy, The authors describe it as being the premier Anti-Spyware program for Mac OS X. Detect, isolate, and remove spyware as well as clean up Internet clutter. With MacScan’s Blacklisted Cookie Scan you can remove blacklisted tracking cookies without losing all your saved usernames and passwords. Keep up to date with the latest Spyware definition updates!

Since early 2002, SecureMac has been developing its proprietary anti-spyware application, MacScan. January 2006 saw the release of MacScan for OS X at MacWorld San Francisco. But in 2007, the MacScan team upped the ante at Macworld SF by releasing MacScan 2 with key features such as frequent definition updates and then for cookies on their Cookie Blacklist. Users can now remove over 8000 known cookies for adware and malware with a single click and without losing any of their saved cookies. The Cookie Blacklist definitions, like the Spyware definitions, come in easy to download updates.

Key features are that the software:
  • Detects, Isolates and Removes Spyware
  • Detects over 8800 blacklisted tracking cookies
  • Internet Clutter Cleanup
  • Schedule Automated Scans
  • Free Definition Updates
I know, how much spyware is there on a mac but the software is certainly worth having for free.

iOS4 on a 2G iPhone - almost

I've been playing with Whited00r on my 2G iPhone recently. This is a way to run many of the features introduced with iOS4 to older hardware. It's not actually running iOS4 on the older equipment, however, it's a port of version 3.1.3 that replicates some of the newer features. It also jailbreaks the phone obviously.

New features that the port has include:

  • Mutlifunctionallity (works very nicely)
  • Tethering
  • Passcode
  • MMS
  • Voice control
  • Wallpapers and icons from iOS4

What it doesn't have yet include:

  • Folders (shame, I'd like this)

To install, you need to download the Whited00r software and the 3.1.3 firmware. Create a custom firmware by following the instructions in the download from whited00r. Select if you use iTunes to initiate your phone service or not. This will create a custom firmware for you to use with your iPhone. Put the iPhone into DFU (Device Firmware Update) mode (press sleep and off button simultaneously for 10 seconds then release the sleep button and continue to hold the home button for 10 more seconds) and install the custom firmware  (use restore in iTunes but press the option key down to select the appropriate file).

That's the what and how. I have this modification on my iPhone but, as I don't use the phone as my principal phone (ATT really sucks locally), I don't use it on a device that's critical to me. It works fine except that you have to reinstall all of your data each time (no update). That's okay but it takes time to reload my music, movies and apps and you loose stuff like game top scores (if that matters to you). The multifunctionality is nice and works very well but I don't use it that much (it's a good quick-switcher between programs though). So it can be done but, without folders (that would allow me to load more apps on the iPhone), I'm not seeing an over-riding reason why one would want to.

I try this stuff out so you don't have to (….in the morning).

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Apple to Provide Live Video Streaming of September 1 Event to Apple Users Only

Well, not much to add to the post from Apple but if you use any of the following then you can watch the live video of the September 2010 event from Apple:
  • A Mac® running Safari® on Mac OS® X version 10.6 Snow Leopard®
  • An iPhone® running iOS 3.0 or higher
  • An iPod touch® running iOS 3.0 or higher
  • An iPad™
As to hints as to what Apple will announce? Well, let's see. They're doing something with live streaming and want to show the world they can handle the bandwidth requirements (iTV?). They also announce "Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple is reinventing the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices".

Nice to see that Apple are only preaching to the converted and Windows users are left out. I guess they figure that there's no convincing some people (unless they use an iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone - oh wait, most of the people with iPxx's run Windows computers).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Getchaself A (Free) Hedjucation"

I've been a fan of the iTunes U sites for some time. iTunes U contians classes from some of the world's top universitites and professors, as well as museums and other educational and cultural institutions, in a broad range of subjects. I've used the site to expand my knowledge in areas that are new to me as well as trying to get a different perspective on topics that I teach. I find it, ahem, very educational.

Apple published a press release yesterday anouncing that iTunes U downloads have now topped 300 million. They continue that "over 800 universities throughout the world have active iTunes U sites, and nearly half of these institutions distribute their content publicly on the iTunes Store. New content has just been added from universities in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico and Singapore, and iTunes users now have access to over 350,000 audio and video files from educational institutions around the globe."

This is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to improve and enhance their knowledge on a given subject. Many (most?, all?) of the classes are free. So where does your interest lie?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cheap Components in Expensive Macs

People buy macs over PCs for any number of reasons. Some are perceived, some real, some are just not true. One of the reasons often given for buying a mac is the superior components used in the manufacture of the computer. The continued insistence by Apple to use the ever so appropriately named MatSHITa (the emphasis is my own) optical drives negates this arguement.

My MacBook Pro went in for repairs again for a replacement Superdrive. I'm now on my fourth Superdrive (sic) in under a year. Luckily, the computer is still under warranty so the repairs have been free so far (except for the inconvenience of being without the computer for two days each time). But my warranty is running out so I bought (at no little expense) the extended warranty as I doubt that this is the last time I'm going to have to replace this part.

A couple of observations. I am not hard on my computers. They are somewhat babied, if anything. I've never once had to replace any drive (optical, hard, etc.) on any machine in all the years I've had computers. So it's not me. Also, I had two of the drives go bad before I made my drive region free so that's not the culprit (and yes, I removed the RPC-1 (Region Free) hack before I took the computer in to be repaired).

And it's not just me. There are numerous threads on mac user forums with many posts saying they suffer from the same problem I encountered. These posts go back years so the problem isn't new. Perhaps its time for Apple to step up and look for another supplier. It is inappropriate for them to use cheap componets on a very expenive computer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Inertial Scrolling Added to the MacBook Pro

Apple released an update that adds Inertial Scrolling to the MacBook.

What exactly is inertial scrolling? (I know, it took me a while to find out too).

The feature is similar in form to what we already know from Apple's iPhone OS devices and the Magic Mouse. It allows users to flick while scrolling as the trackpad senses the momentum of the gesture and smoothly scrolls through long documents and libraries.

If you want it, apply the Magic Trackpad and Multi-Touch Trackpad Update 1.0 or apply the system update.

Are we all feeling Magical know?

Pzizz for Free (for now)

Pzizz is software that helps you sleep or else is designed to energize you. Most of the people I talk to fall in to one of too camps with this kind of application- it either works for them or it bugs the heck out of them. It works for me and, right now, the software is available for free. There's always a free lite version but this is the full version. Definitely worth grabbing and trying out. The two modules are:

Pzizz Sleep: "If you toss and turn all night long, and then have to get up in the morning with little or no sleep, you know just how tough your day will be. Long-term lack of sleep can cause health problems such as increased blood pressure, weight gain, and even diabetes. pzizz is a powerful new kind of insomnia treatment that’s perfect if you have the kind of sleep problems where you can’t switch off at night. It will help quiet your mind and gently ease you into restful sleep."

Pzizz Energizer: "Do you find yourself hitting an energy slump in the early afternoon? A National Sleep Foundation study reports that 40% of adults admit that the quality of their work suffers when they’re sleepy. NASA scientists have found that “an afternoon nap increases productivity by 35% and decision making ability by up to 50%.” Powernap your way to success every day with the pzizz energizer module. It will clear your brain, improve your focus and lower stress in as little as 20 minutes."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is that Amazon Price a Good Deal?

I was reminded by the recent Woot acquisition by Amazon that there's an extension I've used for quite a while. Amazon seems to change their prices daily and keeping up with what's a good price and when is it high has been an issue in the past. However, the introduction of The Camelizer (no, I don't know how they came up with that name either. I guess we'll just have to let it go.) extension means that someone else is keeping track of price trends for me. The Camelizer uses camelcamelcamel generated information for their Amazon price history charts.

Joining the web site provides simple, free Amazon price watch alerts and makes it easy to stay informed of pricing trends on a wide variety of products. The extension requires no membership though and provides a quick, simple look at the historical data. Just a quick click and there's all the information you need. I first used The Camelizer as a Firefox extension but my recent transition to the much faster Google browser has not meant that I'm not left out as they offer a Chrome extension. If you're a frequent Amazon shopper, this is an invaluable tool.

Another excellent tool (web site this time) for us cheapskates that enjoy Amazon's free shipping service (available with most $25 purchases) is to add filler items to get us to that magic total. Freebieville list numerous (occasionally useful) items that you can add to your cart to help you get to the amount that qualifies your purchase for free shipping.

If you want to look for deals on Amazon, you can follow them on Twitter look for their Gold Box discounts or else browse through the dealsuckers amazon deals site that arrange discounts by percentage.

And, if I was a better business man, I'd have this page plastered with links to Amazon associate pages that give me some sort of kick-back.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chrome on the Mac: FontAgent Pro Issue Solved

I'm finally giving Google's Chrome a run through it's paces. Firefox has gotten slow and I thought I'd try to see if Chrome's reputation for being fast was well earned. It's out of beta and my two must have extensions (Xmarks and 1Password) are available.

My first experience with Chrome was not all that good. I loaded the most recent version, started it up and well - crud. I could not read the text on web pages that displayed fine in Safari and Firefox.

I figured that the problem was due to the font manager I use, FontAgent Pro. I believe that the problem was caused by a conflict between the the managed fonts and the system fonts. Chrome uses the managed fonts rather than the system fonts and having an alternative (and, in particular, Arial) was causing issues. Simply disabling the managed font in the software corrected the problem.

Others have reported that opening Font Book and using the Resolve Duplicate Fonts option can help, but I've not needed to go that route.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

British TV Over the Internet: Can this be Legal?

I found this download whilst browsing the web for clips of British television shows. Evidently, when you open the file using VLC, it provides access to many British TV stations such as BBC, ITV, Channel 4, as well as some other European stations. Not all work for all people but the British stations worked when I tested them.

I doubt that access will be available long-term but it worked the one time I tested it for educational purposes. I did not create the file or the route to watch the shows. I am not sharing any copyrighted material. I did not reverse engineer any copy protection. I took my vitamins. I did not inhale. Oh, and just because a file is linked to in a blog doesn't always mean it's safe. I always recommend scanning files for viruses even if you are on a mac.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Big App Show by Adam Curry

How surreal.

A review of an app that reviews apps.

Adam Curry  (former MTV VJ and Current Crackpot on the No Agenda podcast show) has written and stars in an application delivered video review of other applications that are available on the iPhone and iPod Touch platforms. Some of his early reviews include Siri and Shazam (amongst others) with the promise of more every week.

So what's new?

Most app reviews (and I include my own here) are text based, these are video based. These have the affable Curry describe what he likes and doesn't like about the apps (I guess that's not all that new, it's what all reviews do. Curry has a somewhat more entertaining turn-of-phrase than most though). There are also direct links to the Apple App Store from which the apps can be downloaded / purchased.

Curry's see first, buy later approach is a more mainstream (and perhaps legal) alternative to jaibreaking your phone to try different applications before buying them or relying on a friend to buy the application before you do.

A nice approach. Great for free.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Steam for the Mac Released Today (and Portal is a Free Download)

I'm not much of a gamer but I wanted to see what was all the fuss about with regards to Steam. As it was a free download, there wasn't much reason not to try it.

The process to put it on your mac is, in theory:
  1. Download Steam for Mac at
  2. Install Steam
  3. Start Steam and let it update (I'm was stuck here in restart hell.....17 restarts before I could get past this stage).
  4. Login.
  5. Download Portal (free) and other games (not so free) (this is where I got stuck again).
 The games available at release include:
  • Altitude
  • And Yet it Moves
  • Bejeweled 2: Deluxe
  • Bob Came in Pieces
  • Bookworm Deluxe
  • BRAINPIPE: A Plunge to Unhumanity
  • Call of Duty
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Call of Duty: United Offensive
  • Chocolatier: Decadence by Design
  • Chuzzle Deluxe
  • Cooking Dash
  • Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble!
  • Diaper Dash
  • Diner Dash: Hometown Hero
  • Dream Chronicles: The Chosen Child
  • Emerald City Confidential
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Galcon Fusion
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Killing Floor
  • Loom
  • Luxor Mahjong
  • Machinarium
  • Osmos
  • Peggle Deluxe
  • Peggle Nights
  • Portal
  • Sam & Max 201: Ice Station Santa
  • Sam & Max 202: Moai Better Blues
  • Sam & Max 203: Night of the Raving Dead
  • Sam & Max 204: Chariots of the Dogs
  • Sam & Max 205: What's New Beelzebub?
  • Sam & Max 301: The Penal Zone
  • Simplz Zoo
  • Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 1 – Launch of the Screaming Narwhal
  • Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 2 – The Siege of Spinner Cay
  • Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 3 – Lair of the Leviathan
  • Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 4 – The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood
  • Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 5 – Rise of the Pirate God
  • Team Fortress 2
  • The Dig
  • Toki Tori
  • Torchlight
  • Wandering Willows
  • Wedding Dash 2: Rings Around the World
  • World of Goo
  • Zenerchi
There is a promise of more new games every Wednesday for the next few weeks. I'm wondering now though, if the servers will also fail every Wednesday. This might eventually be fun, but it isn't right now. Massive fail for not predicting the interest in this game.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Downloading Videos From Web Sites

There are a number of software solutions that allow you to download videos from YouTube. My personal favorite is the freeware Tooble (there is a Pro version but the free version does all I need). Put the URL of the YouTube page containing the video that you want to download into the search window and Tooble will automatically download the content to your desktop.

That's the easy one.

There are other web sites for which software solutions don't exist. And to complicate things even more, the webmaster may try to prevent downloading by hiding the contents web location.

A simple solution is to use Safari. Go to the web site and view the video. When the video is running in the Safari browser, go to:

Window -> Activity (the shortcut is command-option-A for those that prefer that route).

All of the Safari windows you have open will be listed so go to the one in which you have interest. There will be a lot of elements loading on that page but most of them will be pretty small (kilobytes in size). Video is not small so look for the largest file on the page (multiple megabytes in size). In fact, if the video is still playing in Safari, you will notice that it is the file that is still growing in size. Double clicking on that file in the Activity window will save it to the desktop (or wherever else you have Safari configured to save downloads).

These actions should leave you with a flash (.flv) formatted file on your desktop which you can play in Quicktime if you have Perian installed (you should have Perian installed in any case as it's awesomeness knows no limits - and it's free) or convert to a more standard format using that same software.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Radio's Dead! The Daily Source Code with @adamcurry Saves Us From The Banal!

Okay, not much mac stuff in this post. I could do a ten reasons I won't be getting an iPad post, but why? (Summary: it's nice and sparkly but I don't need one). So I thought I'd review a podcast (hey, there's a mac connection of sorts) that just came back to life.

The Daily Source Code (DSC or Delta Sierra Charlie) with podfather and ex-MTV VJ Adam Curry brings back old time radio. No, I don't mean another crappy 60's station but radio from when DJs chose the music instead of advertisers or by using a centralized computer developed play list. From when everyone that was anyone was on Top of the Pops, when the real bands were on the Old Grey Whistle Test and when the late, great John Peel was what all DJs aspired to be (look up BBC and Sessions to find out who he was). And yes, I am a child of 80s England.

The DCS is a mostly music companion to the excellent political commentary podcast, No Agenda, which Curry presents with John C. Dvorak. The politics in DSC are somewhat less of the focus than in No Agenda as they are limited to the music. But what music, what a great mix. From punk to metal to, well, the awesome Etta James in the last show, the play list is full of songs with heart (heart in a Jimmy Rabbitte way said with a snear and whilst grabbing your scrotum!). This truly excellent offering should be on everyone's subscribe list even if it is NSFW (well, at least not where I work).

One complaint - it's not daily but I guess biweekly doesn't have the same ring. Here's hoping for more frequency in the programming and that it doesn't disappear for another year. Oh, and that the rights holders to the music don't kick up a fuss.

Really, give it a try. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

iFixIt - A Great Resource for the Not-So-Feint at Heart

You might be looking for a little assistance if you're ever in the mind to take your MacBook apart for whatever reason (replace a part, upgrade, masochism, etc.). iFixIt offers step-by-step instructions on how to do that.

The laptops that the site covers includes MacBooks, MacBook Pros as well as the older iBooks and PowerBooks. They also include a bunch of desktops for those that need that information.

All the information on the site is free and if you need the tools they use, well, that's how they make their money. Competitively priced, buying from them helps fund this resource. Excellent for free.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tweetie 2.1 Released for the iPhone

Tweetie has long been the Twitter client app of choice for many but has been looking pretty dated recently.

For example, Echofon for Twitter, a free alternative, has supported lists for some time.

Tweetie did not. Well, until the release of version 2.1 (free update, $2.99 if you haven't previously bought).

In addition to lists, version 2.1 also now supports geolocation, the ability to retweet and report spam directly from the app. A very elegant implementation (and by that, I mean its almost mac like in its ability to do things the way that I would anticipate that they be done) of everything that you'd want to do with Twitter. Some of the other features of Tweetie are that it can handle multiple Twitter accounts, allow you to post photos and videos, even configure your own custom image host directly from the app, preview short URLsand provide seamless Twitlonger support (for when you can't say it in under 144 characters).

If you want free (but still very good), look at Echofon for Twitter. If you want elegant, look at Tweetie - it's that little bit better and worth the fee to me.

Edit 4.11.10: Twitter announces that it has just bought Tweetie to be it's default app. It will be renamed as Twitter but have the same functionality. It will also be free so hold of purchasing for a while.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Siri - Your Personal Assistant

Okay, we've been promised robots that were going to take care of us all for decades but we're still huddled over our computers praying that the incandescent screen will give us the answers we seek.

Siri changes that.

Well, a little anyway.

Siri is a new app for the iPhone or iPod Touch that performs searches. Talk in your desire (that's right, talk) and you will get your answer on screen. Those that don't have a microphone (early iPod Touch owners, for instance) or those that need to be quiet can type in the request and get the same response.

Okay, so searching for answers using the iPhone isn't new. What is new is Siri's ability to understand what you are looking for. The voice recognition is excellent, even with my bastardized version of Yorkshire undertones and mid-western overtones, Siri was perfect in translating what I said to the on-screeen command.

But more than that, she understood what I meant. When I asked "what's a good place for lunch" she understood to search for: location, restaurant, recommended.

That she thought Quiznos was an appropriate response shows that they need to work on the algorithms a little bit more, but what they already have is phenomenal.

Highest recommendation, phenomenal for free and I can't wait to see where this goes.

Edit 4.28.2010: Well it seems like someone at Apple likes this app too. They just bought them!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

MacBook Pro now Region Free (Matshita DVD-R UJ-868)

A while back I recorded how to make a MacBook region free. just released information on how to make some of the newer (the ones used in MacBooks and MacBook Pros) Matshita drives region free.

The process is even easier than it was before thanks to the efforts of Ben11 and ala42. You need to download the firmware for your drive. Check which firmware you need by going to:

System Profiler > Disk Burning

Read the drive type (for example, mine is MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-868) and the firmware revision (again, mine is KB19). If you're as lucky as I am, then the firmware page will have a copy of the firmware for your computer.

You will need to download and run MatshitaFlasher (updated 4/20/2011) to allow you to install the firmware update.

Unzip and the firmware zip file. The firmware .zip file typically includes two firmware .dat files. In Finder drop the firmware .dat file you want to flash on the MatshitaFlasher application. A terminal window will pop up, listing drive and firmware ids and ask you if you want to continue flashing.

The Terminal window I saw after dropping the firmware .dat file on the flasher application looked like this:

simple_flash V 1.02 compiled at Jan 24 2010
Selected firmware: MATSHITADVD-R UJ-868 KB19
Selected device: MATSHITADVD-R UJ-868 KB19

Continue? y (you need to enter this)

Firmware update running, do not interrupt ...


[Process completed]

Make sure the RPC region on your drive is already set. You can check that with DVD Info X.

Reset the RPC region count back to zero with Region X.

Remember, you do this AT YOUR OWN RISK but it worked for me.

Now I can watch my legally bought UK DVDs on my legally bought US DVD Player.

I'm a happy geek again.

Edit: Link for instructions on how to use MatshitaFlasher in Lion (updated 12/13/2011).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The iPod Touch XL, aka The iPad

So the iPad was released yesterday and there was a lot of coverage about it on-line. There's nothing there that wasn't really expected (thanks Mr. McGraw-Hill CEO - I did notice your companies name was not in the presentation after you slipped up and let the cat out of the bag) and I'm not seeing the killer-app for this form factor.

But I don't think that this iPod Touch XL (must ... resist ... urge ... to ... call ... it ... the .... maxiPad) is designed for me ... or any geek really. I think that this is designed for the grandma or mom who is wandering around Wal-Mart who will see this as a better option than a netbook and Kindle. It does everything that those markets would want (except perhaps missing a camera and thereby the ability to Skype to see the grandkids .... and an SD reader for expanded memory or a slide show of the pictures you just took on your digital point-and-shoot) and pretty well.

That's not to say Geeks won't like what it can offer and find new ways of using it, that it won't replace the book pack of students or won't be adopted by the medical profession (the biggest users of tablets) but I don't think that's what will decide how successful this product is seen as being.

So what is it missing. Twice the size of an iPod Touch but no multitasking. It's tied to ATT if you want 3G (nice prices though). It won't use T-mobiles 3G so even though it's unlocked, it really isn't. Still no Flash.

The $499 price point is pretty sweet and less than a netbook-Kindle purchase so I think that housewife in Wal-Mart will add this tablet to her cart.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Backupify - Free Back-up For Your Online Information

So you faithfully back-up all the information on your hard-drive.

But what about the information you put out on the internet?

Are you happy that Twitter is the only one backing up your tweets? Okay, some is flippant and you may not want to have it backed up but there's a lot that you want to ensure you keep around.

Backupify is a free online (of course) service that keeps a copy of information associated with your e-mail address on Flickr, Twitter, Delicious, Zoho, Google Docs, Photobucket and Wordpress. Basecamp, Gmail, Facebook, FriendFeed, Blogger (backing up this blog) and Hotmail are also available (currently in beta) and Youtube, Xmarks, RssFeed and Tumblr are in development.

Word of warning - you do have to trust the developers enough to give them your passwords to the services you back-up but, if you do, this is a functional alternative to not backing your online data. Great for free.