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Archives: December 2009

Not Quite a Saint on Twitter

SaintsBobbyMcCray.jpgThe year couldn’t possibly come to an end without yet another athlete having to apologize for a tweet. This time it was New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray, who responded to his arrest on charges of driving under the influence with a flurry of tweets, according to ProFootballTalk.com.

As reported by ProFootballTalk.com, some of the tweets from McCray’s now-canceled Twitter account:

trying to deal with this Bogus charge of DWP .. driving with Pizza.

I had cuffs on me with in 3 minutes.

This was a short guy with Napolean complex.

He got upset because I asked him why did I need to get out the car on a routine traffic stop.

He starving ranting and raving saying I think I know it all and threw me in cuffs.

Lawyers mount up, we got some work to do!!!!!

ProFootballTalk.com reported that McCray canceled his Twitter account and released the following statement:

I regret that my private messages were unintentionally posted on Twitter. I have respect for the men and women who serve the New Orleans Police Department, and I never meant to convey otherwise. My attorneys are now handling the matter, and I have faith that the legal process will rectify the situation in my favor.

Authors Protest Imprisonment of “Subversive” Chinese Writer

After a three-hour trial last week, the Chinese government imprisoned an author based on the contents of his hard drive–a 21st Century case of writing “subversion.” On this snowy New Year’s Eve morning, a team of famous PEN America members gathered on the steps of the New York Public Library to protest the 11-year sentence of Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo for the crime of subversion.

As you can see by this exclusive GalleyCat video, the list of speakers at this dramatic event included: E.L. Doctorow, Don DeLillo, A.M. Homes, and Edward Albee.

Here’s more from the release: “There are currently almost 1,000 writers on PEN’s list of writers and journalists in danger because of their work. Leading the list is Liu Xiaobo, one of China’s most prominent writers and a past president and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, which is doing on-the-ground PEN advocacy in China. Liu was convicted of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ for co-authoring ‘Charter 08,’ a petition calling for political and human rights reforms in China, and for seven sentences in five articles he published on the internet that are critical of Chinese authorities.”

Dulin’s Boox 60: Yet Another eReader

onyx boox60.jpgThe eReader market continues to billow. Porland-based Dulin’s books has just unveiled the Onyx Boox 60, an eReader with a 6″ E-Ink display, a stylus, Wi-Fi connectivity, text-to-speech capability, 512 MB of internal memory expandable to 34 gigs with an SD card, and a price of $349.

It’s unclear what this device would offer that its competitors can’t–especially given the steep price–but it supports a slew of file formats (EPUB, PDF, MOBI, HTML, TXT, PDB, CHM, JPG, BMP, PNG, GIF, TIFF, and MP3) and enables Web-browsing over Wi-Fi).

Here’s a rundown from eWeek. And you can order one here from Dulin’s.

Video Tour of the Sony Reader PRS-900 Daily Edition

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Just a quick post to point you to something to get your mouth watering for your next big gadget purchase. Mobile Tech Review just posted a 14-minute video tour of the Sony Reader Daily Edition. Frankly, it looks pretty damn cool. Click over to their site to watch the video, but here are some highlights.

As with all E-Ink screens, there’s a little lag when the screen changes, but the touch interface looks smooth and intuitive, with big icons to move between functions, which include, beyond, obviously, reading books, note-taking (both handwritten with the included stylus and typed with the onscreen keyboard), a dictionary, and audio playing, making the PRS-900 more than just a dedicated reader.

Sony has included some nice little touches that its competitors have omitted, such as a removable back cover and battery, and an included book-like front cover with little magnets to keep it shut when not in use (how many times has your Kindle snagged other books or papers when shoved into your bag?). The device itself, as well as the AT&T 3G receiver, automatically goes into standby (whereas if you don’t shut off the Kindle’s wireless, it stays on, draining the power), though according to Mobile Tech, your periodicals will still download overnight. There are also slots for an SD card and memory stick, in case the 1.6 gigs of internal memory aren’t enough.

There are other niceties, including an Apple-like cover view for books, something the Kindle also ain’t got. There’s much more on the video, but this blogger must admit the device looks sweet–the screen is bigger, the interface smarter, than the Kindle. After watching this you may really want one.

Ray Kurtzweil and Blio Get Big Buzz for CES

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The Consumer Electronics Show is next week in Las Vegas. One of the big buzz words already making the rounds on Twitter is Blio, a new eReader platform–not a device–developed by inventor and futurist Ray Kurtzweil. It’s set to debut at CES and will work on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Basically, it’s a color eBook platform that will display pages as they would appear in a printed book, offering a wholly different experience from E-Ink eReaders. Blio will also support various kinds of enhancements–embedded audio and animation–that will enable new kinds of hybrid books.

Wired’s Gadget Lab covered Blio earlier this week, citing this statement from Kurzweil: “Everyone who has seen it acknowledges that it is head and shoulders above others…We have high-quality graphics and animated features. Other e-readers are very primitive.”

Tune in to eBookNewser for more on Blio next week.

Apple Event for January 26th ‘Confirmed’

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Is the iSlate or Apple Tablet coming? These Apple rumors are getting more and more fun. According to MacRumors, FoxNews.com has gotten confirmation from a source inside Apple that the company will indeed hold an event on January 26th as previously speculated.

Here’s more from FoxNews: “Following a Financial Times report that Apple has scheduled a special media event for January 26th in San Francisco, I’ve spoken to a source inside Apple who confirmed a “big” event for January. While nothing official has been handed down from the notoriously tight-lipped company, my source took the Financial Times report one step further by saying this event will focus on the mobility space.”

MacRumors then went a bit further, citing “a blog post apparently from former Google China president Kai-Fu Lee claiming that device will in fact be introduced in January at a price point of under $1000 and will carry a 10.1″ multi-touch screen and offer an ‘amazing user interface,’ video conferencing capabilities, and e-book offerings in a package described as a ‘large iPhone’. Lee also claims that Apple is expecting first-year sales of 10 million units, far above most observers’ expectations at this time.”

If this is true, then the tablet may exceed everyone’s hopes.

2009 Begone! Looking Ahead to 2010!

Boy, that ol’ Charles Dickens. When he got stuff right, he really got it right, huh?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it ws the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way. (A Tale of Two Cities)

If that doesn’t describe 2009 to a “T”, I don’t know what does. Yep, ol’ Chuck definitely had a way with words.

I think I shared a number of the ups and downs lots of other people faced in ’09. Lost a job? Yep, same here. Found a new one? Thankfully, yep, check mark on that box. Hesitated to buy a lot of gadgets and apps because of the economy? Same here! Bought a few gadgets anyway? Sigh, yes.

I really hope we see a recovery that trickles down to regular people like you and me in 2010. Here’s what I’m looking forward to if the economy for “real people” like us stabilizes in 2010…

- First up! The Google phone, Nexus One, or whatever is announced next week Tuesday (Jan. 5, 2010). I’m really enjoying the Droid. But, I’d like to be able to get an unlocked phone that doesn’t mess up my existing plans. So, an unlocked GSM Android phone that works on T-Mobile’s network get on my buy list. Odds? 100%

- Next? The mythical Apple tablet. If there’s one thing I learned from using my WiFi connected iPod touch, it is that I really want an instant-on ultra-portable device for web browsing, email, and connected app use. Also on my buy list unless it is outrageously priced. Odds? 50%

- Accessible wireless broadband. These $60 per month 3G plans limited to 5GB data have got to go the way of the dodo bird. Will WiMAX fill the void? Maybe. But $70 per month (Sprint) is still too expensive. Odds? 10%

- Wireless tethering for the Droid and iPhone: Odds? 50% for the Droid on Verizon; 10% for the iPhone on AT&T

- Windows Mobile 7 delivered in 2010. Odds? 100%

- A Windows Mobile 7 that the masses will care about. Odds? 0%

- Apple figuring out how to manage their iTunes App Store for the iPhone and mythical Tablet. Odds? 50%

- Anyone figuring out how to help Android users find apps. Odds? 75%

- The iPhone available from a second U.S. wireless carrier. Odds? 50%

- Multi-touch for the Droid. Odds? 50%. What’s the deal with that anyway?

- A half-decent cameraphone from someone other than Apple or Nokia. Odds? 25%

- A Microsoft Office for mobile or mobile web that challenges Google Docs. Odds? 15%

- A Bing app for Windows Mobile that doesn’t suck. Odds? 75%

- Nokia showing some smartphone muscle with Maemo based phones. Odds? 50%

OK. That’s it for 2009! I’ll see you first thing next decade bright and early on January 4th.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s Eve and Day! Live long and prosper!

My 2009 iPhone App Picks: Apps I Actually Use!

There are many “best of” apps list. I think mine is a bit different. My lists today features apps that I simply actually use on a regular basis. Here’s the list of iPhone apps I use on a regular basis. I was surprised to note that all of them (except one) are free!

- INRIX Traffic!: Yes, Google Maps includes traffic information. But, for some reason I prefer INRIX’s app. Go figure

- Twitterific and Echofon are two great free Twitter apps that also have paid premium versions. I bought Tweetie. But, it has been flaking out on my recently. And, the two free apps actually seem to perform a bit better in some functions

- Movies by Flixster and Now Playing: Both are good but not great. Together they provide a lot of the inforamtion I need about new movies and recently released DVDs

- IMDB: Every movie fan needs (yes, needs) to have this app installed on his or her iPhone. The Internet Movie DataBase is a worldwide treasure of movie information.

- Weather Channel, AccuWeather, and WeatherBug are the trio of apps I use on my iPhone to figure out what the world “feels” like outside of my walls. None of them provide information exactly the way I want it. But, together, they give me a combined picture of what to expect outside.

- Kindle for iPhone: I have not bought a Kindle device but bought several Kindle ebooks in 2009 because I found reading ebooks on my iPhone was a good-enough experience. I have no plans to buy any dedicated ebook reader hardware in 2010. But, Amazon can expect some ebook purchases from me anyway.

- SciFi Wire: The SciFi Channel may have renamed itself as SyFy (yuck!). But, their science fiction news app retains the old name (Yay!). I like this app even though I don’t like dedicated news apps in general. This one, however, is fast and presents me with the focused inforamtion I’m interested in (science fiction in movies and TV)

- Bonsai Blast ($2.99): I got hooked on this game during my short gadget fling with the T-Mobile G1 back in 2008. It is still fun even though all the levels were solved long ago

Multiplaform app:
I mentioned the Evernote cloud note taking app in my Windows Mobile list. Both also have a place on this Android and Windows Mobile app lists. And, here it is again!

Honorable Mentions:
- Tumblr: I really like Tumblr mini-blog concept. I tend to mostly use it when traveling. But, it is always a good way to quickly note down a link, idea, photo, or video

- Dragon Dictation and Dragon Search: These two apps may make it on to my “apps I actually use” list in 2010. However, since they were just released, I’m still playing with them. They look like keepers so far

- WordPress for iPhone: Like many people my personal blog is based on WordPress. And, this app makes it reasonably simple to post text and photos directly to my blog from the iPhone. What’s not to like?

My 2009 Android App Picks: Apps I Actually Use!

There are many “best of” apps list. I think mine is a bit different. My lists today features apps that I simply actually use on a regular basis. Here’s the list of Android apps I regularly use on my Droid. All of them are free…

- Advanced Task Killer: I had lots of battery power drain issues until I installed this app. I use it at least once a day (and usually more often) to eliminate unneeded running apps. It seems to do a good job of identifying the needed from the unneeded.

- Movies by Flixster: I like movies. So, this is a must have even though I also have a version of it on my iPhone.

- Seesmic for Android: Twitter apps for Android do not compare well against Twitter apps available for the iPhone. Seesmic for Android seems to have a particular problem with quickly and reliably uploading photos for sharing via Twitter. Still, it is the best Twitter app I’ve tried so far on Android and seems relatively well behaved.

- Bonsai Blast: This is a great marble group’n'shoot Zuma-type game. I liked it so much after trying it on the T-Mobile G1 last year, that I bought the iPhone version after returning the G1 and buying an iPhone. I still play this game even though completed all the levels last year.

- gStrings: A very nice (though somewhat slightly crash prone) musical instrument turner

Multiplaform apps:
I mentioned the Qik video live streaming app and Evernote cloud note taking app in my Windows Mobile list. Both also have a place on this Android app list.

Honorable Mentions:
- Layar
- Dolphin Browser
- wpToGo
- Astro File Manager
- Drupal Editor
- Metal Detector

My 2009 Windows Mobile App Picks: Apps I Actually Use!

There are many “best of” apps list. I think mine is a bit different. My lists today features apps that I simply actually use on a regular basis. I’ll start it off with apps I use on my Windows Mobile smartphone (currently an HTC Touch Pro2):

- Ilium eWallet ($19.95): This app encrypts sensitive information. I’ve been using it regularly (maybe even daily) since around 1997. Full disclosure: Ilium has provided my evaluation copies since I wrote the one of the early reviews of this product back in the last millenium.

- Evernote for Windows Mobile (free): I use Evernote on the web daily. And, I have Evernote native clients installed on Windows Mobile, Android, and iPhone. Don’t leave home without it!

- Skyfire (free): Skyfire is an alternative web browser available for multiple mobile platforms including Windows Mobile. I’m a recent convert. If you had asked me about it a few months ago, I would have said, I don’t like it even though Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer Mobile is awful. However, the recent Skyfire update completely changed my opinion of it. I now consider it a “must install” on any Windows Mobile smartphone.

- Qik (free):: Could there be an easier way to share video from a Windows Mobile smartphone. If so, please let me know what it is because Qik has made that once tedious task much simpler.

- Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile (free):: If you use Office Communicator inside of your firm for internal communication, this Microsoft app is a must-have on your Windows Mobile smartphone

Special mention of built-in apps:
- Microsoft Office for Mobile is still one of the features that makes Windows Mobile smartphones unique. They are able to deal with Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint slide decks out of the box. These mobile versions are certainly not perfect (and the Office Mobile team has heard me complain in-person yearly about what is missing). But, it is a good deal and helps me get a lot done.

- Internet Sharing: The iPhone (US only) and Droid can’t tether your netbook or notebook to share wireless data. But, Windows Mobile smartphones with this feature can. One word: Awesome.