Feeling Used by Apple

Yesterday at noon I had the newest iPad an hour later my iPad 3 was old and out if date. What happened in that hour is Apple announced a new iPad. Now I understand as an early adopter of Apple products that I am living on the bleeding edge and at times I will get burned. However this feels like someone handed me a wick for a candle and then lit it as I walked away. After all it hasn’t even been a year since the iPad 3 came out. The iPad is not cheap either, even the low-end one I purchased was over $500 if you include taxes and shipping. This is not a spur of the moment buy for most people.

What is the main differences between the iPad 3 and iPad 4? The iPad 3 uses a dual core A–5 processor, while the iPad 4 uses an A6x processor, which according to Apple is twice as fast. They also upgraded the front facing camera and changed the connection from the traditional 30 pin connector to the new 8 pin lightning adapter. iPad 4 with cellular capabilities comes LTE enabled while the iPad 3 does not. None of these are huge differences, certainly not something that would spur an upgrade under normal circumstances. So why did Apple make the announcement now? Initially I had two thoughts about this; the first is they are feeling the heat from Google’s Android line and the Kindle Fire, the second is they are feeling the heat from Wall Street. I quickly dismissed the first thought nothing I have read indicates that Apple is feeling pressure from either Google or Amazon when it comes to the tablet market. No, the pressure that Apple is feeling is coming from Wall Street. Wall Street is increasingly a what have you done for me lately entity, and by lately I mean since yesterday. This forces companies to do things that are against their long-term health, in order to satisfy Wall Street’s short term needs, unfortunately Apple maybe falling into this trap. I believe that a quicker upgrade cycle is bad for both the consumer and Apple in the long run. The bottom line is if you own a iPad 3 like I do, I don’t see any reason to upgrade at this time. The iPad 3 will do everything it did yesterday just fine.

Apogee Solves the Shaky Video Problem for You

No one wants to watch a video that is shaky. A camera that was unstable while recording can turn a video with the most amazing content ever into little more than a difficult to watch distraction.

Suddenly, the viewer is trying to discern what the camera was supposed to be pointed at instead of the event that was recorded. This type of movement can cause some people to feel ill. So, unless you are trying to film the next Blair Witch Project you want to take steps to avoid ending up with a shaky video.

This is easier said than done if you are recording video with your iPhone. Eventually, your arm is going to get tired, or your hand is going to become unsteady. How can you prevent this problem? Apogee has the perfect solution with their MiC/Zacuto Zgrip Jr. kit.

The Apogee MiC is the first studio-quality microphone to make a direct digital connection to Garageband on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The MiC uses PureDIGITAL technology, which delivers the natural tone of a musician’s voice, or instrument, right to the iPad, iPhone, or Mac without compromise.

The Zacuto Zgrip Jr. is an amazing little device that you can attach directly to your iPhone 4 or 4S before you start recording. It is a handgrip that has a cradle at the top of it. Your iPhone can snap right into the cradle, and your recording will be steady. The handgrip also has a 1/4 20” thread at the bottom of it that will allow it to be mounted to a tripod. There is also a 1/4 20” thread at the top of the handgrip that can be used to mount the Apogee MiC.

The kit includes the Apogee MiC, the Zacuto Zgrip Jr., a 0.5m cable for connection to iPad and iPhone, and a 1m cable for connection to a Mac. It comes with a Quick Start Guide, a desktop tripod, and a MiC stand adaptor. The MiC/Zgrip Kit retails for $298.95. This can easily make your next video be of professional quality and help you avoid making the dreaded shaky video.

Image by Apogee

D-Link Cloud Storage 2000

D-Link Cloud Storage 2000D-Link Cloud Storage 2000 is the newest addition to D-Links’ line of cloud storage options. It offers remote sharing, streaming and management capabilities. You can download, upload and delete files and folders either remotely or locally. It will allow you to access files stored on the ShareCenter from any computer via the mydlink.com portal. At this time this does require that you have Java 6 installed if you are using Chrome on a Mac. You can also access the same files via the free app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. With the free app you can view photos and stream music and videos from the ShareCenter directly to your mobile devices from anywhere. The D-link Cloud Storage 2000 also has a DLNA capable server which streams music, photo and video to compatible media players including the Boxee Box and PlayStation(r). It has a Photo Center which allows the administrator to create photo albums and view them with a side show. It also has a built in web file server and secure FTP server. With the USB port you can add an USB Drive or printer. It supports, local backup, Apple Time Machine backup, Amazon S3 backup, and PC backup among others. You can schedule it to power off at a certain time and it will automatically notify by email of the Device Status.

The Cloud Storage 2000 replaces D-Links DNS–320 storage device with a faster CPU and a gigabit Ethernet port for high speed data transfers. It can support up to two 3.5 inch SATA hard drives. It supports multiple users streams simultaneously. It is easy to install and is equipped with Raid 1 technology for security. The D-Link Cloud Storage 2000 will be available for $149 both online and in retail outlets in North America.

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Facebook is Phasing Out Questions

It appears that Facebook is starting to phase out its Facebook Questions feature. You may have used the feature to answer a question in a poll that one of your Facebook friends put together. The Facebook Questions feature was something that everyone on Facebook could use in order to get a “crowd sourced” answer to a specific question. It could also be used to set up a poll. Ask a question, set up a few, specific, options for potential answers, and wait to see which one got selected the most.

Recently, Facebook made a slight change to the Facebook Questions feature. Pages, events, and groups are still able to use it. However, individual users are not. The option no longer is available to them.

If you are one of the many people who has created Facebook Pages or Groups for your podcast, guild, book club, or school club, then you can still use Facebook Questions. The difference is that individual users cannot ask questions from the top of their News Feed anymore. You should still be able to see questions that you’ve asked in the past by going to your Activity Log.

Personally, I never used the Facebook Questions feature. I think my husband set up a couple of polls for one of our podcasts, just for fun. I just never saw the purpose of setting up a poll on my personal Facebook page. To be honest, my first choice for getting a “crowd sourced” answer to a question is Twitter, not Facebook.

In short, the Facebook Questions feature still exists, but in a more limited fashion. There is some speculation that perhaps Facebook is getting ready to launch an actual search product. There really aren’t any solid details about what, exactly, that is going to look like or how it will function as of yet.

I think it would be cool if Facebook would create a functional search engine that would let you easily find all the coupons that are scattered through Facebook. I also think it might be a bit of a privacy invasion if random people could search for, let’s say, a political party, and have their results show the comments that various Facebook users have made in regards to that topic.

Image: Stock Photo 3d Question Mark by BigStock

DirecTV Offers Free Upgrade to Genie for Current Customers

DirecTV subscribers are often frustrated by the lack of benefits to current customers, while the service continues to advertise great deals, like free NFL Sunday Ticket, to new subscribers.  Well, right now the satellite company is throwing a bone to current users by offering their brand new Genie HD DVR for free.

The Genie is the latest upgrade to the receiver / DVR and it offers a long list of benefits that make it a much better device than the current HR 23 and HR 24 hardware.  Those older receivers featured two tuners, meaning you could either record two shows at a time or record one while watching another.  They also featured a fairly sizable 500 GB hard drive, which provided plenty of storage for most people.

If, however, you find yourself, as my family has, receiving messages that you need to cancel a recording because you have more than two things set, or because you are watching something while two other shows are scheduled, or running out of space during an big event like the summer Olympics, then you may want the Genie.  The new DVR offers an incredible 5 tuners and 1 TB of storage.  In addition, all of the previous version’s features are also included.

So why not upgrade?  Well, there is one stumbling block that may turn off some customers.  You will need to agree to a brand new two year contract just like the one you got way back when you first signed up for the service.

If you don’t mind the extra two year agreement, or simply can’t live anymore without more tuners or more space, then this is a no-brainer.  If you aren’t worried about these things, or planning to cut the cord, then you should probably skip this deal.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Update

Samsung Galaxy S3About a month ago I retired my trusty Sprint Evo 4G (original Wimax version) and got a Samsung Galaxy S3.

My initial impression of the Galaxy S3 was quite positive. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time now with the Galaxy S3, so I want to give a bit of an update on my experience with it. I drive a truck over the road and also use it as a podcast aggregator and playback device, so I am spending even more direct time with my phone than the average consumer might.

The Sprint version of the S3 is currently using the so-called “Ice Cream Sandwich” Android 4.04.

Battery life is excellent compared to the three previous smartphones I’ve had over the past several years using the stock battery that came with it.

The large 4.8” inch AMOLED LCD high resolution touchscreen is superb, with excellent color saturation. The extremely thin form factor allows me to easily carry the phone around in a front pocket.

Performance remains excellent even though I’ve installed several dozens and dozens of apps. App performance is rock solid. I had many of the same apps on my HTC Evo that would sometimes crash or cause problems that run perfectly on the Galaxy S3. I attribute this performance increase to more primary phone memory and perhaps better overall hardware design architecture. It’ likely that people that experience problems with certain apps are really experiencing lack of enough physical memory in their device in the same way that desktop computers experience fewer crashes and more overall stability when they have more physical RAM in which to execute the program code.

The Galaxy S3 has excellent WiFi performance. Connected to a Verizon MiFi 4G WiFi hotspot the WiFi has no slowdown issues even when simultaneously using Bluetooth.

The Bluetooth functionality works pretty well overall, but not quite as good as the HTC Evo. I have a JVC Stereo-Bluetooth-capable stereo in my pickup that functioned just fine with the Evo in speakerphone mode that doesn’t work properly with the Galaxy S3. I can hear callers through the stereo speakers but they cannot hear me through the return channel microphone. I don’t know if there is a Bluetooth version number conflict that could possibly resolve the problem via a JVC firmware upgrade, or if the problem might be resolved when Sprint and Samsung release the next “Jelly Bean” version of Android for the Sprint version of the Galaxy S3.

This problem with the S3’s Bluetooth not working properly with my JVC stereo is even more perplexing, since it works perfectly well with the other Bluetooth devices that I own, including a Tango TRX high fidelity Bluetooth stereo speaker that also can work as a speakerphone.

Overall I’m extremely pleased with the Galaxy S3. This is one of the most amazing pieces of technology I’ve ever owned.

In my opinion, the Galaxy S3 is currently the best phone on the market today.

Asus Shows Off the Taichi in a New Video

It may have largely escaped notice of Friday when it was actually posted, but Asus released a video teaser of their upcoming Taichi device to get potential customers excited about the product.  The new Windows 8 hybrid had already been shown off at both the Computex and IFA trade shows, but the new video gives a hands-on look to let everyone know what they can truly expect from the device.

The new tablet/laptop will feature an Intel Core i5-3517U Dual Core CPU, 4GB of RAM a 128GB SSD and dual screens.  We haven’t heard anything about battery life, and that may be a very bad sign given the dual screens being powered in this device.  All of this will also come at a price – $1299 to $1599 to be exact.

Sure the price is pretty high and the battery life may be an issue, but putting those issues aside…it’s a REALLY cool device.  It’s should be considered a laptop because the screen doesn’t detach from the keyboard as we have seen with other devices that will soon be coming to market, including the Surface from Microsoft which has an optional keyboard that clicks into place via a magnetic hold.  So, is there a market for this?

Update On Belkin “YourType” Folio + Keyboard For iPad 2 & iPad 3

Belkin Bluetooth Folio KeyboardRecently I purchased a Belkin “YourType” Folio + Keyboard for my iPad 2. The unit operates via Bluetooth. When I initially began using it I noticed there was a rather prominent problem with rather frequent lost or multiple keystrokes when a given key was only hit once. I didn’t know if this was a Bluetooth problem, or a problem with iOS 6 taking too many CPU cycles on an iPad 2. An iPad 3 might not suffer from the same lost keystroke problem when connected to a Bluetooth keyboard since it comes with a faster processor with much improved performance.

So, I started a bit of troubleshooting. One of the things I suspected might be stealing CPU cycles was app notifications. My one and a half year old iPod Touch really became sluggish after installing iOS 5 on it. I was able to mitigate the sluggish iPod response problem somewhat by turning off push notifications for the vast majority of apps. So, I turned off all of the push notifications on my iPad 2.

Turning off all push notifications did seem to help, but did not entirely fix the problem. I started experimenting with typing old standby typing phrases such as “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” This phrase seemed to type in just fine with no lost keystrokes. But then when I started typing other things, I noticed the lost keystroke problem immediately reared its ugly head once again.

What could the problem be? What about that automatic spell check that is enabled by default in iOS 6? Could that be an issue? I went into the iPad settings and turned off the automatic spell checker, along with the automatic correction feature, as well as eliminating the sample shortcut that comes with iOS 6, and that helped out even more.

For good measure, I also went through and deleted as many apps as I could that I really don’t make use of on my iPad.

Since my iPad 2 is WiFi only, I also have an external “Dual” GPS unit that connects to the iPad via Bluetooth so I can use the iPad as a GPS device with apps such as TomTom, USA Atlas (Hema) and Co Pilot. I noticed if I turn it off while I’m using the Belkin Bluetooth keyboard, it helps reduce the occasional lag problem even more.

All of these things combined have improved the Bluetooth keyboard response dramatically. There are still a few dropped keys now and then, but at this point they are much less frequent to the point where the keyboard is now quite usable.

It’s likely that had I never upgraded the iPad 2 beyond iOS version 4, there likely wouldn’t be a Bluetooth keyboard lag problem. Why is it we seem to always scream for the latest iOS updates, but then ultimimately end up annoyed by poor performance?

Maluuba: Android’s answer to Siri?

Maluuba
What is Maluuba you maybe asking it?  Maluuba is a replacement for Siri on Android, with more power than Google Now.  These are just some of the things you can do with Maluuba:

 

  • Ask a question, like what is the population of New Jersey
  • Set an alarm.
  • Set up a meeting.
    An email will be automatically sent to the person you are setting the meeting up with.
  • Set a reminder.
  • Find restaurants, business or gas stations nearby.
  • See what is playing at a local theater
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Look up events in the local area
  • Play a song from your Google Music collection
  • Call someone in your address book
  • Open an application

Although it is similar to Siri, it is not a Siri clone. The first difference you will notice is that unlike Siri, Maluuba allows you to enter your question or request either by voice or by keyboard. Second, Maluuba doesn’t talk back to you. When you send a post to Facebook or Twitter, Maluuba will open the option, but unlike Siri you have to actually type the message or tap the microphone if you want to speak it.

I have run into some problems using Maluuba. For a while I was unable to search for what is playing at my local theater, it has me somewhere in Ireland. I just checked again and the problem seems to have been fixed. It would be nice if I could send a Twitter or Facebook post just by voice without having to tap, like how Siri works. Despite these complaints I really enjoy using Maluuba, if you have a compatible Android phone (it requires 2.3.3 and up) I recommend downloading and trying it out.